I have been working on my new website for almost a year and finally launched it last month. This has definitely been a much bigger adventure than I bargained for! To be honest, I am just walking in obedience to the Lord and I have no idea where He is going with it. Maybe it will grow into a ministry; maybe it will simply remain a more accessible home for my blog. Who knows? Stay tuned to find out!
That said, I will no longer be posting here at my Jar Full of Manna. I will keep the site up for awhile; it’s hard to let go of something that represents so much of my heart! But all the content has been transferred over to the new blog, so you can still find your favorite posts over there.
I have *attempted* to transfer my subscribers from here over to the new website, but I’m not sure you all made it. So if you’d still like to follow me but haven’t received any emails, I’d love to have you pop over to the new site and subscribe! I am currently doing a series on 7 Ways to Connect with Your Teen (which is helpful even if you don’t have teens because you probably know some you’d like to connect better with, right?). I will even email you a FREE PRINTABLE and ACTION SHEET when you subscribe!
So, friends, as we make this transition, will you please do me a few favors?
SUBSCRIBE! Click on over to kellycallenheath.com and check it out! And while you’re there, don’t forget toHi subscribe!
PRAY FOR ME! Pray that I won’t get overwhelmed with all the technology things and will be able to faithfully share whatever the Lord gives me to write. Sometimes I have my own ideas about what I want to write, topics that seem like they would point people to Jesus more than what I’m currently writing. However, my greatest desire is to be faithful, which means I need to follow His lead. Pray that I will do that in a way that honors Him!
TELL SOMEONE! If you think my writing would encourage some of your friends, would you mind sending them a link to my new website? If one of my blog posts resonates with you, would you consider sharing it on social media? I CRINGE even asking this, but the reality is that ONE share can significantly multiply how many people see a post, which means you might be the very person God uses to get something in the hands of the one who really needs to read it! So please consider sharing, reposting, and commenting on anything that resonates with you!
I won’t say goodbye, because hopefully you’ll visit regularly on the new website. Instead, let me thank you for sharing this part of the journey with me here at my Jar full of Manna. It’s been a beautiful beginning. I hope you’ll join me for the next part of this adventure!
Today we’re using the #RealLife Filter, because sometimes life doesn’t go as planned. And that’s okay.
I was feeling pretty proud of myself this afternoon. It was 3:00 and not only did I actually know what I was making for dinner (which is a minor miracle), but tomorrow’s dinner was already thawing on the counter! Impressive, I know.
It was a simple dinner with very little prep. After squeezing in a quick walk, I washed my hands and pulled all the ingredients out of the fridge. Tonight’s menu included French dip sandwiches, salad, and roasted brussel sprouts. Sounds delicious, right? (Again, total rock star.)
Well, unfortunately (or fortunately, for my kids) the brussel sprouts spent a little too long in the crisper drawer and ended up in the trash. Not wanting to be outdone, the lettuce I bought last week plopped into the bowl as a giant pile of slime… so I had to toss it out as well.
I was 0 for 2; it was not looking good for the home team.
Thankfully, French dip sandwiches are easy to make and pretty hard to ruin! I heated up the au jus (that’s a fancy word for beef broth) and added the roast beef slices from the deli. Carefully, I transferred the roast beef into the perfectly cut rolls, gently adding a layer of provolone cheese over top. Then I slid them in the oven to broil while I figured out what to serve in place of the slimy veggies.
Since this was supposed to be a simple dinner, I gave myself permission to go the easy route. I dumped some baby carrots on a plate and grabbed the ranch dressing. I cut the bad spots off some strawberries and dropped them in a bowl. Then I picked out a few grapes left in the bag that weren’t yet rotting, and added them to the table.
[Side note: Am I the only one who buys a bunch of produce only to end up throwing half of it away? Seriously… why do we bother? Anyway…]
As I congratulated myself for creating a healthy rainbow of goodness from what was left of last week’s groceries, I suddenly smelled something burning.
I burned the sandwiches.
Not just a little bit either; like, blacken-the-bread and fill-the-kitchen-with-smoke kind of burned.
Seriously??? Make that 0 for 3…
So much for my simple dinner and rock star mom status! I officially struck out, ruining my ENTIRE menu.
And the truth is, sometimes life is just like that.
Sometimes we plan ahead and have everything all figured out, and it just doesn’t turn out like we expected it to. Things sit too long. Things that seem healthy turn out to be not so healthy after all. Something that started out good ends up decaying from the inside. Other things can’t handle the heat.
Jobs. Friendships. Ministries. Relationships.
Real life happens and we find ourselves suddenly needing to come up with a new plan.
When that transpires, I am tempted to just throw the whole thing out and order a pizza… and occasionally, that’s the best plan! But more often than not, I just need to get creative. I need to give myself permission to stay simple, and then I need to work with what I have.
Cut off the bad spots and save the rest. Pull out what I was saving for another time. Replace the original with something good enough for now. Then put it all on the table and thank the good Lord for providing what I needed…
Manna. Daily Bread. Just enough.
Are you struggling with something that’s not going quite the way you planned? Maybe motherhood is a bit more than you bargained for, or marriage has left you lonelier than you were when you were single. Perhaps you stepped out in faith following God’s leading, only to find yourself suddenly stranded in a wilderness. Maybe your job or your friendships or your faith feel like they are imploding from the inside.
This is real life without a filter. It’s hard and imperfect and unpredictable. And sometimes the best we can do is bring it to Jesus and make the best of what we have to work with, trusting Him— our author and perfecter— to make it enough.
Our Father doesn’t expect perfection from us. He doesn’t mind bruised strawberries and stale hot dog buns; He knew dinner wasn’t going to be perfect before we ever started. He simply wants us to trust Him to provide what we need when we need it, and to believe that it’s enough.
Sweet friend, what you have to offer Him today is enough; burned bread and all.
This weekend, some of Abby’s friends participated in their final drama show. A few weeks ago, a friend posted a “bittersweet moment” of his son playing in his last high school tennis match. I get it. We were just there with Sarah. (Has it really been a year??)
COVID may have changed a lot of Sarah’s Senior Year “lasts,” but that January they were looming large. I wanted to embrace them all, but honestly I was filled with dread. Then a friend told me something that completely transformed my perspective.
She said, “Kelly, it’s okay to embrace these ‘lasts’— shed the tears, grieve the losses, feel all the feels. But keep in mind there are a ton of new ‘firsts’ just around the corner! There is so much to look forward to!”
Y’all, those words changed everything for me!
The truth was, there were already signs of “firsts” everywhere. College brochures in the mailbox, an LU sweatshirt crumpled on the couch, and piles of dorm décor scattered around the house.
New things were coming! But I was so focused on what I was losing, I hadn’t noticed what was emerging. A shift in perspective completely transformed my experience. It gave me the hope I hadn’t even realized I’d lost.
As a result, I have been able to offer that same hope to others.
In Isaiah 43:19, God declares, “Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”
If you are walking through a season of “lasts” (or loss), let me encourage you to look up and around. Look up to the One who holds all time in His hands, who is the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last. And look around— at those He has placed in your path, at the hidden things that may only now be beginning to grow, and at His Word which is living and active in our lives.
A slight shift in perspective might just bring you a much-needed glimpse of hope.
I’ve shared a lot about transformation this year because it’s my word for 2021. (You can read about that here: 4 Tools for Transforming Your Life in the New Year). Romans 12:2 reminds us transformation only happens through the “renewing of our mind”, which involves actively embracing a new way of thinking. Choosing a new perspective transforms what we see. We go from lasts to firsts, from loss to gain, from despair to hope.
As we look around, signs of Spring are everywhere. The earth is declaring Heaven’s glory in a myriad of color. Buds are beginning to bloom, unveiling the blossoms hidden within. Baby birds are busting out of their shells, hungry for nourishment, filling their nests in a tangle of beaks and squeaks.
God is doing a new thing all around us! “Behold, it springs forth…”
Don’t miss the connection between what’s happening on the outside and what’s happening on the inside.
Even in the winter, in the middle of a pandemic, and amidst the monotony of ordinary living, there has been growth happening beneath the surface, preparing us for Spring. And now, as we turn a corner in the seasons, in the pandemic, and in the school year, there are new things popping up all around us if we have the eyes to see them.
What are some “lasts” you are dreading? Name them. Then figure out some ways to embrace them and remember them.
Now, shift your perspective (remember, look up and around!). What are some “firsts” you can begin looking forward to?
NEW THINGS ARE COMING…
Friends, I have a few “New Things” I am excited to share! Both of these have been developing underground for awhile, but it’s finally time for me to tell you about them!
First, I am launching a new website!
My “Jarful of Manna” blog has been just that for me over the past few years— a place to gather the faithfulness of God, to hold it in my hands, process it, record it, and share it with you. It started out slowly, then grew into a hobby, and eventually became something more to me (and hopefully to you).
The Lord is calling me to write not just as a hobby, but as a ministry. It is my heart’s desire to faithfully obey Him, even when I don’t know exactly what that looks like or where it will lead. And honestly, I don’t know either of those things! I just know this is the next step.
So stay tuned… KellyCallenHeath.com will be launching on May 1!
Second… I am writing a book!
Like an actual book you might want to read and tell your friends about! If you have teens, work with teens, interact with teens, have friends who have teens, or have children who will one day become teens, this book is for you. And if you’re a teen, I’m hoping to adapt a version of this book just for you!
That’s all l can say for now. I am super excited about it! Will you please pray for me? Pray that I will remain faithful to the message God has given me, and that He will continue to guide the entire process. Also, pray that I will stay committed to making time to write, which can be a challenge in the everyday busyness of life.
Friends, I share these things to encourage you. Don’t be afraid to try new things! Listen for how God is leading you. Look around; see where God is at work and figure out how you can join Him.
What new things are just around the corner for you? I want to know!
How is it possibly April already? This year seems to be flying by (maybe because time seemed to be crawling this time last year? Who know!). In any case, we just finished our Spring Break and the Heath Fam is ready to be DONE with school! Six more weeks… we can do this!
My book stack for March has a lot of variety. Two books came from my local used bookstore, one I have owned for nearly 30 years, and one I couldn’t wait to order from Amazon! They are all different lengths and genres; two are fiction and two are non-fiction. So this should be fun!
Which leads to our first book…
That Sounds Funby Annie F. Downs
If you listen to Annie’s podcast (also titled That Sounds Fun), you will likely hear her voice in your head as you read this! She has the type of personality that makes you feel like you are friends even though you’ve never met, and that comes through in her writing as well. Each chapter felt like I was sitting across the table from her as she told me her stories!
The main thread she weaves through each chapter is the concept of “missing Eden;” of being created for a perfect world in which we have complete joy and constant communion with our Father, yet living in an imperfect, fallen world that includes pain and sadness. The distance between the two worlds creates a tension in us; a longing for what we were made for, a desire for something our souls miss… Eden. Thus, her stories include things that make her sad and things that bring her joy, and in many cases, which do both. But always with a glimpse of Eden thrown in!
This book is much like having a conversation with a friend (especially an enneagram 7, LOL!)— it’s a little unorganized and has a bunch of random comments thrown in to make you laugh— but that’s all part of what makes it so fun! I especially recommend this book to my single friends, as Annie is so vulnerable in sharing her struggles and successes in that part of her journey. I am confident she will be a great encouragement to you!
How To Listen to God by Charles Stanley
This book is a classic. I am always surprised to find so many of my Christian friends have never read it! It was published in 1985, but I first read in the mid 90’s, shortly after I graduated from college.
Everyone wants to hear from God, right? Yet, so many of us don’t want to take the time to listen, and even if we do, we may not know how to listen. That’s where this book comes in! The chapters are well organized, and the content is easy to understand. Dr. Stanley shares why God speaks to us, how to discern His voice, and how to prepare our hearts and minds to hear Him (among other things).
This is a relatively short, simple to understand book on an extremely important subject. It is especially beneficial for new believers or anyone who is serious about following Jesus. Charles Stanley has remained a voice of Biblical truth throughout the decades, and I am grateful for how his words have shaped my faith over the years!
The One Safe Place by Tania Unsworth
I grabbed this book from the used bookstore mostly based on the cover. The summary declared it a “near-future dystpia” and compared it to The Giver. While I was not nearly as drawn into the storyline or characters as I was with The Giver, I still think it would be enjoyable for middle grade readers!
After the death of his grandfather, Devin makes his way alone into the city looking for someone to help him run their farm. Several days into his journey, while navigating the dangerous chaos of the city streets, he teams up with a homeless girl, Kit, who helps him find food and seek shelter during a torrential rainstorm. From there, he befriends an older boy who offers to take him to a special home for abandoned children where there is everything a child could dream of— food, safety, playgrounds, swimming pools, and more. Devin agrees to go only if Kit can go with him, and their adventure continues.
It turns out there is something very sinister going on at the home. The children are being used somehow to bring joy to “the visitors,” but no one wants to talk about it. Before long, Devin uncovers the secret and hatches a plan to free them all.
The plot was fairly predictable, though a middle grade reader might still find it suspenseful. Also, we learn early on (a little awkwardly, in my opinion) that Devin has a special ability which connects all his senses (for instance, he feels colors). This becomes a contributing factor towards the end of the book, but it felt forced, as though the author was trying to create something unique instead of just having him be really smart. I’m afraid it might be a little confusing to kids who are reading it; they may waste time trying to figure out why those sentences are in there instead of just enjoying the book. By the end, though, it all makes sense.
Beyond that, it was an enjoyable story with several really kind, likeable characters (and a sideline redemption story). It has the potential for creating some good conversation on ethical dilemmas associated with aging. I don’t think Eli (7th grade) would like this story too much, but I think Noah (5th grade) would probably enjoy it!
The Winter Palace by Eva Stachniak
As I mentioned, my latest trip to our local used book store was very productive; this is the other one I grabbed. It is historical fiction, this time set in Russia in the 1700’s, which is a time period I know almost nothing about. The hook is that it is told from the viewpoint of a spy in the palace, which was so intriguing! I really enjoyed it!
Our narrator, Barbara/Varvara, begins the story as a young teenage girl, brought to the palace upon the death of her parents as a favor to her father. Throughout the pages, she weaves a beautiful yet tragic tale of a queen who stole the throne and lives in constant fear of losing it, her foolish (and a bit crazy) nephew who is heir to the throne, his kind and naïve (or so we think) wife, and others who come in and out of life at the palace. It is a tale of love, hate, passion, betrayal, friendship, deception, and above all, lust for power. It was not a quick read, but it was quite enjoyable, and there were several unexpected twists along the way, which I love.
If you are a fan of historical fiction and are interested in a glimpse of the behind the scenes workings of Russian palace life, this one is worth reading!
I told you there was a lot of variety! And I am already a couple books into my April stack, so get ready for more great suggestions! If you missed them, you should check out my January and February Book Stack posts for more ideas on what to read.
As always, I love to hear your recommendations. What books are you loving these days? What’s on your nightstand?
Do you ever find yourself wondering what in the world to do with your child?
After all, you’ve done your best to raise them right. You prayed for them, taught them manners, and helped them memorize Bible verses. You limited their electronic time and said no when they begged to watch non-age-appropriate TV shows (darn you, Hannah Montana!).
But still, their hearts are captivated by the world…
And nothing you do can change that.
They want to wear the same clothes their friends are wearing and listen to the same music. They want to play the same video games, watch the same You-tubers, and follow the same “influencers.” Like every adolescent since the beginning of time, they want to be liked and accepted by their peers, even if that means doing things they know are wrong.
If you’re fortunate, they at least struggle with the conflict between these desires and their values. That means deep down they at least want to do the right thing… they want to choose Jesus. But sometimes that struggle can lead to anxiety or loneliness or friend drama.
What’s a parent to do?
It is really hard to watch our kids walking that line between right and wrong, tip-toeing as close as they can to the dark without actually falling in. Jeff and I have encountered these types of struggles on multiple occasions with our children, so I feel your pain.
Jeff is better about seeing the big picture, but if I’m honest with you, I pretty much tend to freak out. I’m afraid they are going to ruin their life. I’m afraid they are going to walk away from Jesus. I’m afraid they are going to become everything I have invested so much time and energy guarding against!
I’m just plain afraid. And I begin to parent out of fear.
PARENTING OUT OF FEAR
Sure, I call it all kinds of things:
parenting with purpose
maybe even being a little “controlling.”
But the truth is, it’s fear.
Yet, the Bible declares, “God did not give us a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7) I memorized this verse a long time ago, but God whispered it to my heart a few years ago, and it completely changed the way I parent. Here’s what happened.
Our daughter, Abby, has always been into the latest trends. When she was two, she would go into the indoor playground at Chick-fil-a and come out a few minutes later modeling other children’s shoes. She would stop complete strangers on the street to comment on their cute outfits. (If you know me, you are asking where in the world she inherited that from… definitely not her momma!) In Kindergarten, her free-writing journal was filled with lyrics from Hannah Montana songs, which she wasn’t even allowed to watch or listen to yet!
Yes, our sweet girl’s heart was drawn by the world from a very early age.
As she entered the middle school years, the pressure to fit in and be accepted by the “cool kids” increased. She hated being one of the few girls without a phone, and though she still obeyed me, she thought my “modesty” rules were old-fashioned and ridiculous. We clashed often during those days; Abby, with her teenage hormones raging, and me, with my authority being challenged and my fear increasing at every turn.
My prayer journal is filled with desperate pleas for God to protect her and change her and not let her go astray. I constantly cried to Jeff about the path she was on and where it would lead. I was so afraid (and a little bit dramatic).
Now, understand, our girl was hardly a rebel! But after so many years in youth ministry, I was extra sensitive to the beginning stages of a wandering heart, and while she wasn’t even out of the living room, my mind saw her riding off into the sunset. It sounds ridiculous even as I type it, but it’s true.
Do you do that, too? Imagine the worst-case scenario right out of the gate?
Anyway, one night as I was praying for Abby, crying out to Him again in all my fear, the Lord spoke to me very clearly. No, I didn’t hear an audible voice, but the impression on my heart was so strong, it could only be the Holy Spirit. This is what He said:
“Yes, Abby’s heart is drawn by the world, but whose isn’t? You are focusing on the wrong thing. She has had multiple opportunities to join the cool kids, but when it came down to it, she wasn’t willing to compromise her convictions. She may stumble a little along the way, but she almost always makes the right choice! So quit focusing on what you’re afraid of and focus on ME. The whole world is already fighting against her… she needs YOU to fight for her. Are you going to keep parenting out of FEAR or are you going to start parenting out of FAITH?”
I knew immediately what I had to do. Viewing the situation from God’s perspective completely transformed my mind and changed the way I parent (or at least try to).
So when you find yourself in a situation where you are tempted to parent out of fear, let me encourage you to parent out of faith instead.
PARENTING OUT OF FAITH
How do we do that? Here are three things that help me:
1. Change how we PRAY for them
Instead of praying out of fear, I pray in faith. I claim God’s promises for her. I remind myself of His plan for her life, of His faithfulness through the generations. I ask Him to give her courage, faith, and boldness. I pray for her to be a Light in a dark generation, that He might use her in mighty ways! I ask Him to surround her with godly adults who love Him and will help shape her into the woman He created her to be—and He has!
Do I still bring Him my fears when they surface? Absolutely! I need to, for He is the only One who can give me peace. But I’ve learned His power is only released in our lives through prayers of faith, not fear. “Truly I tell you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed… nothing will be impossible for you.” (Matthew 17:20)
2. Change how we THINK about them
Our thoughts determine our actions. What I’ve learned in parenting, though, is how much my thoughts actually determine my children’s actions! By parenting out of fear, I may actually be creating a self-fulfilling prophecy in my child. When we reflect our fears on them, they may internalize them and think that is what we expect of them. Therefore, changing the way we think can actually have a direct effect on how they act!
For me, this meant stopping myself from worrying about where Abby was headed, and instead reminding myself of what God has planned for her life. It meant focusing on the times she got it right more than on the times she didn’t, on her victories more than her failures. I continually thanked God for the times she did the hard thing, reminding myself of His strength and goodness in her life.
And I began to speak these things out loud to her, which is the next tip.
3. Change how we SPEAK to them
I cannot emphasize enough the difference it made when I began speaking to Abby in faith instead of out of fear! As I pointed out her courage to hold to her convictions, she began to make those decisions more confidently. I touted character traits I wasn’t yet seeing in her as though she was already displaying them, and before long, she was!
If you want your daughter to show courage, compassion, and kindness, tell her you love those things about her, and point out ways God can use those traits in her life. If you want your son to have integrity, character, and resourcefulness, make a point of recognizing those qualities in him and mentioning them every chance you get.
Changing how I spoke to Abby enabled God to transform how she sees herself. She no longer sees herself through my fear, but as God sees her—as His “handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which He prepared in advance for (her) to do.” (Ephesians 2:10)
WE GET TO DECIDE…
I am pretty certain that had I continued parenting out of fear, Abby would have continued resisting me and would probably not be the awesome Jesus-girl she is today. That doesn’t mean it would have been my fault—she is still free to make her own choices—but I definitely was not helping the situation.
And even parenting in faith doesn’t guarantee a positive outcome; there are no magic formulas for producing perfect kids! In fact, even while writing this blog post, the enemy is whispering that just because it helped one kid doesn’t mean it will help the others.
But I no longer listen to the voice of fear…
Friend, we can parent out of fear of who our children might become, or we can change our perspective and parent in faith of who God desires them to be.
Both will shape them…
But we get to decide which one!
IF YOU ENJOYED THIS POST, CHECK OUT THESE OTHER BLOG POSTS ON THE RELATED TOPIC OF CHANGE:
I know, I know, some of you are highly disappointed—you were hoping for something a little more scandalous! But others of you definitely gasped when you read that. Some of you shook your head in disappointment, and some of you actually breathed a sigh of relief (because now you know you’re not the only one!).
It’s silly, really; but I can count on one hand the people who know we have housecleaning help (or at least I did until now, LOL). It’s just not something I tell people.
Part of me feels embarrassed, like my “Supermom” status is at stake because I need help mopping my floors. Another part of me feels ashamed for getting assistance with something like cleaning. And part of me feels guilty—for putting our mess on someone else, for splurging on something I could do myself, and even for having enough money to pay someone when so many people are struggling.
But the truth is, I need help. I have my share of gifts; unfortunately, cleaning is not one of them. I can do it, (and with six people in our family I obviously still do!) but I don’t do it well. And I don’t like it. As hard is it was to ask for help, it has made a huge difference for our family.
When is the last time you asked someone for help? Was it hard for you?
For me, it depends on what it is. Earlier this week, we changed plans and needed a last minute T-shirt design for a college ministry retreat. I had a choice. I could spend several hours attempting to design something that, let’s face it, would look awful no matter how much time I invested in it. Or I could text a friend and ask for help.
I am not kidding; the first draft of the design was completed within three minutes of the text.
Umm, yeah, I think that was a good decision!
But there are other times when I am not so quick to ask for help, even from my own family. There are certain things I simply feel are my duty or don’t want to bother others with. Often it’s just easier to do it myself. As a stay at home mom, I tend to view most of the household tasks as my responsibility. Asking others for help makes me feel lazy, incompetent, or like I am burdening them (which is ridiculous… but we’ll get to that in a bit.)
Still, it begs the question—why is it so hard for us to ask for help?
WHY WE’RE AFRAID TO ASK FOR HELP
There are a few reasons most of us are afraid to ask for help.
The first reason is PRIDE. We like to think (or pretend?) we can do it all. Our ego drives us to over-excel, presenting an image of someone who can be all things to all people.
When something needs doing, we do it ourselves. If we don’t know how to do something, we’ll figure it out. Admitting we need help feels like failure somehow. Accepting assistance from others embarrasses us. It shows weakness and vulnerability, and those are not a traits our culture values.
Another reason we’re afraid to ask for help is because we don’t want to inconvenience anyone. This is particularly true for those who enjoy helping others.
There is something engrained in us that causes us to feel good about meeting other people’s needs, but makes us feel selfish when we are the ones who need help. We know how valuable time is, especially when we spend a lot of it helping others, and we don’t want to be the reason someone else feels stressed or overwhelmed.
When given the choice, we choose burn-out over selfishness every time.
What About PAYING for Help?
As Christians, we have also created a false narrative around paying for help. If there is something we can do ourselves (or figure out how to do ourselves), it seems wasteful to hire someone else to assist us. Spending money on such tasks appears extravagant; some might even say sinful. (Which, again, is ridiculous, but it’s a thing!)
We feel guilty for splurging on things we can do ourselves, and maybe even embarrassed that we have enough money to do so. Shouldn’t we give that money away rather than spending it on ourselves? Are we really being good stewards of what the Lord has blessed us with?
Maybe. Maybe not.
After all, we spend money every day on things we can do ourselves without thinking twice about it.
Have you ever paid someone to make you a cup of coffee or cook a meal for you (Chick-fil-a, anyone)? Do you grind your own wheat, bake your own bread, and can your own vegetables, or do you simply buy them from the grocery store? Maybe you pay someone to maintain your lawn or vehicle or plumbing, to spray for insects, or do your taxes. And certainly you could cut your own hair and paint your own nails…but it probably looks better when you pay someone to do it!
We spend money on lots of things we can technically do ourselves without even blinking an eye. Yet, somehow spending money on certain things seems embarrassing or selfish to us, and its time we start asking ourselves why.
WHY WE SHOULD ASK FOR HELP (BENEFITS)
While asking for help can be difficult, there are several reasons we should do it.
1. Our Gifts Are Different
First, each of us is gifted in different ways. Our weaknesses are someone else’s strengths! God created us to work together as a body. He does not expect an eye to figure out how to be a foot or a hand to learn how to smell. Sometimes we need to ask for help to do things we can’t do well (or at all). We might even need to pay for that help, and that’s okay!
I recently asked my Facebook friends what keeps them from asking for help, and my friend Kenna’s response stood out from the rest: “I can’t think of anything. When you’ve lived alone as long as I have, you learn to lean on others.”
Isn’t this how God intends for us to live as the body of Christ—using our gifts to bless one another, depending on one another to help when we have a need?
2. Our Time Is Valuable
In today’s culture, time is often a more valuable currency than money. Sometimes our best investment is to ask for help so we have time to do what we’re best at, what’s most important, and what we’re called to do. I could have spent several hours creating a design for those t-shirts, but instead I spent that time organizing every single detail for the rest of the retreat. Asking my friends to aid me with their gifts allowed me to be much more productive with my time.
Similarly, I can certainly scrub my own tubs and mop my own floors! But paying someone to do it for me frees me up to be more present with my family. It enables me to spend those hours helping with schoolwork, taking my boys to play basketball, or writing a blog post. Someone else can clean my house, but I’m the only one who can be “Mom” to my kids. For me, the time with my family is worth more than the money we spend.
3. Our Pride or Fear May Be Hindering a Blessing
I was pregnant with Noah when we hired the Brazilian couple who cleans for us, which means they have been with us for over eleven years. They love talking with our children, and they pray for us as they clean. With the effects of COVID on the economy, they really need this job. But even if they didn’t, we couldn’t let them go, because we consider them part of our family!
Just as it brings us joy to help those around us, someone may want to bless us by sharing their talents with us. Likewise, when we pay someone to assist us, we are also helping them meet their financial needs with dignity. It’s a win-win situation!
Being too proud or “selfless” to ask for help can actually be “selfish” when we view it from a different perspective. Allowing ourselves to be blessed by others and to be a blessing to them paves the way for God to do greater things than we can even imagine!
So, how do we learn to ask for help?
HOW TO ASK FOR HELP
Now that we know why it’s hard to ask for help and why we should do it anyway, let’s talk about how to do it. Here are some questions to assist you in discerning where you need help and how you can get it.
What do I spend more time on than I would like?
What do I avoid doing because I don’t enjoy it, it will take too much time, or I’m not sure where to start?
What are 3 projects that would bring me great joy and peace if they were not hanging over my head?
What is one area I could outsource that would be a blessing to me/my family? How might it be a blessing to others as well? (For example, it would financially help the person I’m paying; it would be a blessing to my kids because I can do fun things with them; it would decrease my husband’s stress to not have to spend his day off working on the yard; it would bless my readers because I have more time to write; etc.)
If I currently have more time than money, how can I use my resources creatively? Is there something I can give up in order to pay for this service? (Trade weekly Starbucks expense for a sitter; Sell something to pay someone to clean/organize; etc.)
Can I use my time or talent to barter for what I need help with? (Childcare for computer help? Financial advice for manual labor? Decorating tips for tutoring services?)
Friends, what if it became normal to:
Ask for help when you need it. Pay someone so you can use your time in other ways. Use one another as resources when we need assistance. Encourage others to build their “team.” Bless others with dignity when you are able.
What would life be like then?
It would be a lot easier, I think. Less frustrating. And possibly a bit more like God intends for it to be!
Where do you need help? Who can you ask? And how can you return the favor by being a blessing to someone else?
Because as my friends from Chaos2Calm like to say, “You can do ANYTHING, but you can’t do EVERYTHING!”
Funny story… the first time I went to the grocery store after Jeff and I got married, I bought the wrong everything— instant decaf coffee, powdered creamer instead of half-n-half— you name it, I messed it up. And then I served canned green beans with our dinner every night for three weeks. THREE WEEKS!
I was trying my best to be the “perfect” wife, but I had no idea what I was doing. I felt like a total imposter. I cried every time we disagreed because I was afraid Jeff would decide he’d made a mistake and would not want to be married to me anymore! Thankfully, he has a great sense of humor and happened to like green beans. (Because, THREE WEEKS, y’all! EVERY NIGHT!)
I first heard the term “Imposter Syndrome” when I began learning more about being a writer. It is exactly what it sounds like~ when you do what you’re called to do, but you feel like a fraud because you don’t feel qualified to be whatever it is.
Apparently, many writers wrestle with this. But what is it that actually makes someone qualified to be a writer? Writing a book? Getting paid to write? Or is it enough to simply write words that encourage and inspire other people? What actually makes someone a writer? And who has the right to tell them they’re not?
We were discussing this topic recently in one of my writing groups, and someone mentioned that it is not limited to the writing world; that it is possible, in fact, to feel like a fraud in any given area of one’s life.
When I heard that, something clicked for me, and I realized I have struggled with Imposter Syndrome for most of my life.
~I grew up playing soccer (often on boys teams) but never felt like I was as good as my teammates. It was not something I wanted people to know, though, so I pushed myself to work harder and play better. To everyone else, I earned my spots on those teams. But inside, I felt like an imposter.
~After college, I found myself suddenly called to full-time Youth ministry. I was very young, only 20 years old (too young to even drive the church van! But whatever), and I only knew a handful of women in positions like mine. Though I was trained by the best, I myself had not been to seminary. I had a degree in Psychology and a few years of volunteer experience, but overall, I was pretty clueless.
To say I felt like an imposter is an understatement!
[SIDE NOTE: Unlike so many stories you hear these days, the godly men surrounding me were incredibly supportive. They mentored me, encouraged me, promoted me, and welcomed me into their circles. They saw me as fully capable, even though I completely doubted myself. I’m still grateful for them, all these years later!]
Reading back through some old prayer journals, I noticed I was often asking God if He made a mistake putting me in those positions. “Shouldn’t a wiser one have my place, Lord, someone who knows what they’re doing? Someone who is a better example for the students to follow?” I definitely felt unworthy of that role.
~As I already mentioned, I even felt it as a new bride. What in the world did I know about being married? If my superb grocery shopping skills were any indication, Jeff got quite a bit more (or less?) than he bargained for in a wife!
~However, if I’m honest, I’m not sure anything makes me feel more like an imposter than being a mom.
Y’all… I began babysitting as soon as I hit double-digits, and I was a nanny for two precious boys when I was in college. I worked full-time as a Youth and Children’s Minister and volunteered in the nursery at our local YMCA. If anyone knew how to take care of children, it was me!
But when Jeff and I brought Sarah home from the hospital that first night, I felt like a total fraud.
All that experience went out the window, and I was simply a girl holding a baby, wondering what in the world we were supposed to do now. Those nurses who sent her home with us were somehow expecting us to keep this tiny creature alive, and the burden of that responsibility was heavier than anything I’d ever carried in my life!
We managed to survive that first night, but it turned out that was only the beginning. Three more babies followed; and I was supposed to know how to sleep train and potty train, how to disciple and discipline, how to braid hair and build Star Wars things with legos…
These days I am supposed to know how to navigate phones and social media and friend drama and hormones. I have pretended my way through all sorts of adolescent crises, depending 100% on the Holy Spirit, and feeling like a charlatan 99% of the time.
Imposter Syndrome is a real thing, y’all.
But here’s the deal— just because I didn’t feel qualified to do any of those things didn’t mean I wasn’t.
In reality, I wasn’t the best player on all my soccer teams, but I held my own and my teammates counted on me.
I may not have been the most experienced youth minister, but I truly loved Jesus and I loved those teens. God, in His mercy, turned that love into seeds of faith, and those seeds have grown to bear fruit in the lives of many of those students over the years. He used my availability more than my ability; but combined with His faithfulness, that was enough!
Jeff and I laugh about those early days of our marriage and parenting, treasuring the imperfections of those new beginnings and how they drew our hearts to God. And while we still feel like we are figuring things out as we go with our teenagers, our relationships are the real deal.
Not knowing what to do doesn’t make you a fraud; it simply means you’re learning. After all, “doing the thing” means you are someone who actually does the thing! You’re living real life, not faking it.
You are the opposite of an imposter!
Not doing anything and pretending you did— now, that’s an imposter.
I am preaching this message to myself as I journey forward as a writer. It is scary and overwhelming, and most of the time I have no idea what I’m doing. But I do it anyway! And that doesn’t mean I’m a phony; it actually means I’m a writer.
Because I’m writing.
I’m “doing the thing,” even when I don’t always know exactly what I’m doing. As Jillian Michaels said, “It’s not about perfect. It’s about effort. And when you bring that effort every single day, that’s where transformation happens. That’s how change occurs.”
Where in your life do you struggle with Imposter Syndrome?
Do you feel like your faking it in your marriage or your parenting or your job? Sometimes we check out when things get hard… but resist that temptation! Press in!
As long as you’re doing the work, you’re not an imposter; you might not be perfect, but you’re not an imposter.
Do you need to give yourself grace and embrace your role? Or do you need to quit pretending you’re “doing the thing” and actually do it? Friend, failure is only certain if you’re not trying.
Let me encourage you today—Let go of your insecurities. Quit comparing yourself to people around you. Respond in obedience wherever you feel the Lord leading you, and trust the results to Him. You have everything you need to be a great parent, spouse, friend, employer, (fill in the blank).
After all, you are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works that He prepared in advance for you to do. (Ephesians 2:10)
**Note: I wrote this three months ago, but wasn’t sure I wanted to share it. Sarah continues to flourish and find joy (and Jesus) once again through her music, so I decided to share in case it encourages someone else. But mostly, just so I have a record of God’s faithfulness to my girl! ❤You can read a little more about Diana in this blog post about Sneaky Grief.
I wish you could have heard the joy in Sarah’s voice when she called us today. She had just finished her piano evaluation, and she was over the moon! She prepared two pieces, but only had to play one (All of Me~ one of the many “beyond her ability” pieces you inspired her to play!).
This is a really big deal.
You see, she hasn’t been able to play since we lost you. When you died, something deep inside her died as well. Piano has been her emotional outlet since she was a little girl, but now it only reminds her of you.
She tried to keep playing; she really did. And she even kept teaching some of your old students, carrying on your legacy as she inspired them to play. But she stopped playing herself because it hurt too much to miss you. Her heart became deaf to the music of her soul.
Honestly, I was afraid she might never find it again.
I will be forever grateful to the precious teacher God brought into our lives after you passed. She was so patient with Sarah, understanding how her grief was tied to her playing. Sarah gave her very little effort, but this dear woman knew how much effort it required just for her to show up. She helped Sarah complete some goals you you began with her so long ago, enabling her to close that chapter without too much regret. While I feared this teacher was a bookend, I prayed that, instead, she’d be a bridge to something new…
A year and a half later, our girl is at college hundreds of miles from home. We are in these weird COVID days, and social events are limited. So, what does she do when she feels lonely or homesick or just needs a release from all the stress? How does she process all the different emotions swirling around inside her?
She signs up for a practice room.
Her fingers are slowly finding their way among the keys again, and her heart is slowly opening itself back up to the music. I can hear it in her voice, even with all these hours and miles between us. She is beginning to feel the music in her soul again. It’s breathing her back to life!
I don’t know where her music will lead her, and honestly, I don’t care. If she never plays outside her own living room, it won’t matter to me, as long as she plays! I just know she needs it~ it is part of her wiring, part of how God uniquely designed her, part of what brings her joy. She is not fully herself when she’s not playing, and much more herself when she is.
I know you would be so proud of her. She is beautiful and hardworking and just as stubborndriven as she’s always been! She has an elegance and professionalism that remind me so much of you. I see you in her sometimes, and it makes me smile. I hope you know how grateful we are for your impact on her life.
We miss you.
My friend, I wish you could have heard her today. She is opening a new chapter~ letting go of her grief, stepping over her fear, and wading into new waters. It is uncharted territory for her, yet familiar somehow, as though you have prepared the way for her. She is no longer afraid. She is ready.
Maybe I’m weird, but something about cold weather makes me want to read. There is nothing like curling up by the fire under a blanket with a good book!
Thankfully, there was plenty of cold weather last month. So, here’s what I read in February:
The Great Aloneby Kristin Hannah
Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale is one of my all-time favorite books, so choosing this book was a no-brainer. Hannah is a master at historical fiction; she is able to recreate settings and build characters in a way that completely immerses her readers in the story. The Great Alone was no different.
Set during the mid-1970’s, the story unfolds of a young family grappling to make things work. Ernt Allbright is a caring husband and doting father; but his time as a POW during Vietnam changed everything. Struggling with PTSD (long before they knew that was a thing), Ernt finds it difficult to keep a job or stay in one place too long. His wife, Cora, and 13 year old daughter, Leni, do their best to keep him happy as they cling to what’s left of him. Upon learning of some property given to him by a fallen comrade, Ernt convinces Cora and Leni to pack all their belongings into a VW van and drive to the end of the world— the wilderness of Alaska.
However, what awaits them in Alaska is more than they ever expected! There they find breathtaking views, the most loyal friendships, and a beautiful, unforgiving frontier. While Cora and Leni make preparations to survive their first winter, Ernt spends his days attempting to tame both their property and his temper. Life is better for a while, but as the weather grows colder and the nights grow longer, darkness crawls into the cracks of his soul, and the danger within their home soon overshadows the dangers outside. This is a story of the loss of innocence and coming of age, faithful friendships and tragic circumstances, survival and co-dependency. Hannah masterfully weaves her tale of love and heartbreak with threads of courage and weakness that kept me staying up way too late at night reading “just one more chapter.”
The imagery of Alaska in this book is breathtaking and makes me long to experience it in person. The characters become friends as the story progresses, and I found myself wishing I could do something to help. Her depiction of the violence that can be associated with PTSD is difficult to read, but so very real. Anyone with domestic abuse in their past may want to skip this one or be prepared for possible triggers. For the rest of us, it is a beautiful story written with great compassion for those who wrestle with their own nightmares and experiences, while still prioritizing the safety and health of those who love them. I highly recommend this book, but only if you want to book a trip to Alaska afterwards!
The Book Jumper by Mechthild Gläser
This was another fun fiction read. I came across it at our local used bookstore, and it jumped right into my pile of books! (Okay, that was super corny. Sorry.) Y’all know I am a big fan of YA fantasy, and what book-lover doesn’t love the idea of the real life and story-life overlapping? That’s exactly what happens in this story.
Amy Lennox is a teenage girl struggling to find herself amidst the cruelty that accompanies adolescence. She usually escapes into her books, but this time when her mother suffers a difficult break-up, the two of them run away to her mother’s childhood home on the island of Stormsay. Their adventure is shrouded in mystery from the beginning, and Amy could never have imagined the secrets she would uncover.
The author did a great job of adding in enough twists and turns to keep the ending unpredictable, which added to the suspense and kept me reading. Part mystery, part fantasy, and part teenage coming-of-age, this is a fun story for anyone who loves books!
In His Steps by Charles M. Sheldon
My freshman year of college, a close friend gave me this book, and it had a profound impact on my spiritual life. Though In His Steps was written in 1896, its message is just as pertinent today as it was to its original audience. It is the fictional story of a town that is completely transformed when a stranger interrupts a church service one Sunday, questioning whether or not the “Christ-followers” are actually following Jesus at all. He calmly challenges the congregation to compare their own actions to the teaching and example of Jesus, wondering if perhaps they like the idea of claiming to follow Jesus more than they like actually obeying Him.
After pondering the stranger’s words, the minister discovers his entire concept of discipleship is in disarray. The next Sunday, he stands before his congregation and issues a challenge: Who will commit for one whole year to do nothing without first asking, “What would Jesus do?” and responding in obedience, regardless of the cost? The goal is not to judge anyone else’s interpretation, but simply to seek the Holy Spirit’s guidance on what Jesus would have you do in your current situation.
The rest of the book unveils the difference it makes in people’s lives, both individually and collectively, when Christ’s followers live in obedience to the Master instead of conforming to the world. This is a life-changing concept, and one of the reasons this book has been a favorite for thirty years. If you are interested in pursuing this further, check out my 31 Day Discipleship Challenge!
Into the Region of Awe by David C. Downing
I came across this title in one of my readings last year, and since I am a big fan of C.S. Lewis’ books, I thought I’d check it out. In Into the Region of Awe, Downing challenges the modern mantra that mysticism and sound doctrine cannot coexist. What better way to do that than to use C. S. Lewis as an example? After all, he is one of our most famous apologists while also being one of our most well-loved writers of fantasy. Downing makes the case that, while Lewis was firmly grounded in his theology and never called himself a mystic, his work and correspondence are filled with plenty of mystical elements and beliefs.
In my opinion, Downing did a great job defining mysticism and then supporting his thesis using both Lewis’s fictional and non-fictional writings. To remove any mystical element from God is to make Him merely human; and to limit Him to the realm of supernatural experience is to ignore the reality of Jesus and risk falling into the trap of false mysticism (and universalism). Through Lewis’s works, Downing introduces us to Christian mystics whom Lewis admired and the context in which they wrote and served. These are in great contrast to many modern “mystics” who seek “experience” without any notion of sacrifice or service.
This book is academic in nature and much of it reads almost like a textbook, so at times it was difficult for me to get through. But I highly recommend it for anyone seeking to find a balance between solid doctrine which is not swayed by emotion and personal encounters with the Presence of God (which, by their very nature, are mystical experiences). Downing makes a good case for not just the existence of both, but the necessity of both in our relationship with Christ.
Several years ago, when our kids were little, we paused to take pictures at an outside platform. We were in the World Showcase at EPCOT, looking across the lake towards Spaceship Earth. Eli was just a toddler at the time (and all boy!). I leaned down to fix Abby’s shoe, when all of the sudden, I heard screaming, and Sarah squealed, “Momma, come help! Eli’s stuck!”
Somehow our little guy had squeezed his head through the opening in the bars and was unable to pull it back out. So there he stood, half of him on one side of the gate and half of him on the other, unable to move in any direction.
Eventually, we were able to calm him down, and when he scooted a little lower, his head finally slid out. He was instantly off on another adventure as if nothing had ever happened. Like I said, all boy!
Friend, do you ever find yourself feeling stuck?
Maybe you set some goals and start moving forward, only to get part way in and find yourself caught between where you just were and where you are going. It paralyzes you, stopping your momentum and freezing you in your tracks. It can be scary at times, annoying at others, but it’s never fun.
We are nine weeks into the New Year, and I’ve had so many people express lately how they are feeling stuck. Our kids are struggling to stay motivated in school— third quarter is always when they wrestle most. The weather has been yucky, which can definitely affect our mood, as well as our desire to exercise… and if you’re me, to want to eat a lot of chocolate! And now that it’s becoming warmer outside, I am even less motivated, because I just want to enjoy it and not do anything else! Can you relate?
I want to be honest with you… I have also started feeling unmotivated in this “transformation” journey. I am getting impatient with slow progress and irritated with small steps. At the same time, the journey ahead seems overwhelming.
My house is still overflowing with clutter, my marriage is still imperfect, my new website is still under construction, and my children still wrestle with character issues (go figure). And for some reason, everyone in this house still wants clean clothes and dinner every night! Where’s the chocolate?!
I find myself like little Eli, part in and part out, frozen in place, desperately needing someone to help me.
What do you do when you feel stuck? How do you get yourself out of that place and moving in the right direction? Where do you find your motivation?
I’ve been thinking about that story with Eli, wondering if there are some tips to be gleaned that might help us get unstuck. Here’s how it went down:
First, we had him take a breath and calm down. Yes, he was stuck, but he wasn’t going to be stuck forever. Perspective is a wonderful thing!
Next, we took assessment of the situation. How did he get there? What was the best way to get him out? Could we get him out on our own or would we need help?
Finally, we came up with a plan. We realized he could get out the same way he went in; he just needed to retrace his steps.
I wonder if we can use those same steps to help us get unstuck?
Breathe and get perspective.
Take assessment of the situation.
Make a plan and do it.
The weather has been so nice here the past week, and I have been able to go for a walk every day. I have learned that this, along with my prayer time, is how I breathe. Something about walking or hiking outside in nature opens my soul and enables me to take a breath. Making this a priority has helped me not feel so overwhelmed by all the things I’m not doing but feel like I need to be doing. It has slowed my mind down enough to remember that I am not going to be stuck forever. I can, in fact, move forward again if I will take the time to get unstuck first.
And a crazy thing happened— as I began to take assessment of where I started and where I am now, I realized that I have actually made more progress than I thought! I have a really bad tendency to focus on what I’m not doing instead of what I have accomplished. Anyone else relate to that?
When I look at my house, all I see is the piles of clutter, the still-not-decorated basement, the never-ending laundry, and the long list of tasks in need of attention. When I look at my writing projects, I get discouraged at how little I have accomplished compared to what I hoped to have done by now. I notice how Jeff still has to fight for my attention when the kids are around and how we went two weeks without a date, even after I put together “date cards” to make it easier for us to prioritize it! My list of failures just keeps growing.
But I forget to notice how many “small spaces” I have managed to clean out since January, not to mention the fact that my closet is STILL clean and organized (woo hoo!). I forget to give myself credit for starting two new writing projects and posting weekly on my blog, even when life got crazy or I had no idea what to write. Also, when I didn’t keep up with my writing goals, it was because I was prioritizing my family or connecting with a friend, which simply means I am doing what matters most… which is also one of my goals for this year!
And it’s true, our marriage is hardly Instagram-worthy (is there really such a thing?), but Jeff and I have gone on a few breakfast dates, which seems to be working better for us right now. He also mentioned several deep conversations we’ve shared over the past month or two, and we both agreed we feel much more connected. It’s hard to measure that kind of progress, but it is progress nonetheless, and it shouldn’t be discounted.
After taking assessment, I realized…I may not be quite as stuck as I thought I was! My progress is just slow and spread out, not clumped all together in a way I can see it and feel accomplished. Instead of actually being stuck, maybe I just feel stuck. There’s a big difference!
So, my plan is just to keep working the plan. Keep praying first, doing what matters most, and reminding myself that less is better. Keep taking tiny steps in the right direction and trusting they will eventually lead me where God wants me to go.
Keep fixing my eyes on Jesus and forgiving myself when I fail, which is often. And keep offering myself as “a living sacrifice,” allowing God to renew my mind and change how I think— even about myself and my progress (see Romans 12:1-2).
Friend, where are you stuck right now? Perhaps these tips can help you see yourself and your situation from God’s perspective and enable you to move forward. Let me encourage you to trust the small steps, even when it doesn’t feel like you’re getting anywhere fast. In the words of the tortoise, “Slow and steady wins the race!”
“God is the one who began this good work in you, and I am certain that he won’t stop before it is complete…” (Philippians 1:6, CEV)
If this helps you or if you have other tips for getting unstuck, I’d love to hear them!