For the Overwhelmed Christian


I sat next to a woman in my Bible study group that spoke words of freedom to me. She was addressing our entire small group, but what I heard was permission to live guilt-free as a Christian. A lot of my life as a believer I have felt the need to serve whenever the church doors were open.

Being a Christian meant serving at all times.

While there is truth in this, it isn’t the full truth. We as Christ followers must serve others because we are the hands and feet of Jesus to a hurting world. However, when we read about Jesus’ earthly ministry, He did only what was right in front of Him. Jesus didn’t multi-task, healing every single person with disease and sickness. He stayed on the tasks that were given to Him, doing the Father’s work at all times, perfectly obeying.

The woman in my group talked about how she and her husband intentionally prioritize their service to others. Each New Year, they write down a list of responsibilities first that are non-negotiable, like being a wife and mother to young children. Then she lists a few passion and gifts, and together they pair down realistically what works within both of their schedules. If it can’t fit inside the square calendar box, it’s thrown out for that year.

What a genius idea, I thought, because honestly I can often become over-zealous in my desire to do everything, wanting to “save the world”. I forget that Jesus already did that, and I’m merely called to participate in service right in my little suburban neighborhood.


So I went home that day after Bible study and wrote a small list of areas I can practically serve in. The first two are my husband and son because I believe the family God has given me is my first priority. Then I left room for 3 other things that I can do, some of which I am already doing but never really viewed them as ministry opportunities.

The point is that the list shouldn’t be immense but instead focus your service. Sometimes we place false guilt on ourselves, or unfortunately sometimes the Church does. There are endless needs around us and it can feel overwhelming. When I try to do it all I end up fragmented and depleted. I forget that there is no output of eternal value without input as well.

Service first starts with my own heart seeking the Lord, growing deeper in knowledge, faith, and love. When I expend all my energy and time in service production mode I leave no room for God to teach and speak in the quiet.

Believers end up doing ourselves a disservice when we think we can fill every opportunity.

It is a privilege to participate with the Spirit in His work but God doesn’t need me or you. He wants our obedience not our guilt to love in His Name. This was so freeing for me to realize. I’m called to be faithful in the place, the responsibilities and the gifts God has given me. My tasks won’t look like yours and yours won’t look like the next woman’s.

Still feel overwhelmed?

Think about where you spend your time each day and how you could make an impact. Are you already in a Bible study? Maybe start investing in some of those relationships or perhaps they need a greeter at the door in the mornings. It doesn’t have to be big to be life changing. We can encourage through writing notes to people who may feel forgotten, or mentor the young woman on the brink of marriage or teach the 3 & 4 year old Sunday school class.


Also leave room for the small, one-time opportunities to obey. Those acts of kindness are just as sweet to the Lord; a bottle of water for the over-heated air conditioning guy in the middle of August, opening the door for a mom juggling a baby stroller and toddler in tow, greeting a stranger with a smile.

We do the next thing right in front of us. Not everything is Tweet-worthy and that’s just fine because the One who sees it all is the only One worth pleasing.

God is always at work and we get to join Him, but He hasn’t called us to “save the world”. The Lord desires for you and me to live out of the unique personality, circumstances, and calling He has given us. Our concentrated list might even change over our lifetime. What matters is how we love, how we are faithful with what is right in front of us. Only then does our joyful obedience blossom into fruitful obedience. And that aroma is very sweet to our precious Savior.



Grace upon grace,








Missional Summertime


This summer is already the best one yet as a mom who is now turning the corner to having a “big kid”. It is also the hardest, by far. His five-year-old curiosity and energy level daily leaves toys littered on every surface in the house. The floors stay dirty and the laundry list of things to do besides the actual laundry is high. I just have one child, but he always seems to be right under me – like in the kitchen, while I’m making dinner – when kids have the ability to multiply themselves to be everywhere at once.

In the school year there is more time to myself, so the summer schedule is taking some adjustment. But I love it. My little guy and I get to set our own itinerary (aside from naps, those are still essential) and we step out the door exploring our own backyard, neighborhood, and hometown. Days are filled with lingering at the local botanical garden, swimming at the Y, visiting the playground and trips to our library, which has an awesome children’s section.


It’s a balance of playing with him, getting regular housework done (or attempting to), and still trying to maintain my sanity, staying human. Jesse is learning to entertain himself more, which is huge. But because he is an only child I want to make sure we have time together. In a lot of ways at this stage I am his main friend/playmate. It won’t always be like this so it takes effort to be cognizant, soaking it in.

Yes some days are super hard. I’m exhausted, he’s tired, it’s too hot outside and patience wears thin as whining rises high. Yes, on those days I just want to go be by myself in a room with some great air conditioning.

But that isn’t the whole story.

Other days, sometimes in the same day, are magical moments – pure childhood fun.

We take walks; he holds my hand. We set up the plastic pins to bowl in the kitchen alley, followed by eruptions of cheer. He cools off in the sprinkler, enjoying it for the first time this year and I sit back watching him marvel over the simple things.

Growing up I took those summers for granted, thinking I’d have them always. There is something unique about this season for a child. It is a time of transition, growing up, learning by play.


Moms, the struggle is real and I’m not minimizing that, but I know I too often suck the joy out of each day with my complaining. We set the tone for our homes and if the kids see us short-tempered and even resentful, they’ll get the message.

Summertime is actually harder than the rest of the year, but its priceless time too. You and I have the opportunity to pour into their sponge-like minds and impressionable young hearts. Parents have the classroom 24/7 right now. What do you want them to learn from you in these few short months? What will they take away from this summer?

I’m finding that the reason this season is challenging stems from learning to daily die to self. Moms feel like they are constantly giving of themselves – making breakfast, picking up toys so we don’t break our necks, grocery shopping, sharpening our parenting skills, trying to make wise decisions on the fly.

I know you want to honor the Lord in how you raise your kids. I know you want them to love Jesus like you do. I know you hope your little ones (or maybe not so little anymore) will love God’s Word. And all of this begins with our example. The responsibility feels heavy, but also freeing as we live into the identity Christ gave us. Motherhood is our ministry; our families are the people we serve. Do they see Jesus in us? This summer, you have that time.

All women, whether you have children of your own or not, have the joy of missional motherhood:

“Every Christian woman is called to the spiritual motherhood of making disciples of all nations.”

-Gloria Furman

We have a great opportunity during the summer months, when life is slower, and pockets of time are free. I hope you don’t get caught in a rut like I have recently of hurrying these next few weeks along. I don’t want to just meet my son’s outward needs of food and clothing, or just marking time. I want to get to his heart too. But you and I can’t do this alone. Ask the Lord to help you. Ask Him to provide strength each day. The most important thing we can teach the children in our care is to show them Jesus.


Gloria Furman, author of Missional Motherhood, writes, “Jesus invites women to missional motherhood to follow His pattern, to trust His promises, and to nurture others by the power He provides.” The best sermon we can preach is the one lived out at home. There are a little over a dozen summers you have with your kids before they lose that valuable freedom. Use it well and enjoy the very good gift of childhood summers.

Grace upon grace,


Seasons of time

537003577   August is almost over and September will be here before we know it. What happened to summer? I blinked and it vanished with cooler temperatures, less humidity (hooray!), crisp air, fire red and burnt orange color in the trees, and of course, college football all right around the corner. Can you smell the apple cinnamon yet? I can because I have the autumn spice plug-in wafting through my house. Plus Kroger has the cinnamon infused broom decorative things right at the entrance to their store. Some people can’t stand the smell but I love it. And holy moly, why do stores have Halloween stuff out already? Oh well, bring on the pumpkin spice lattes because this girl is excited for fall! I do love the harvest season and look forward to it…but yet, even as I write that sentence I realize I am always rushing toward the “next big thing”.

My goal is usually just to make it through each day without ever really stopping to enjoy the day I’m in. I grew up watching all the beloved Disney movies, so whenever I get in that mindset (like I’m on a hamster wheel) of course I think of the song the mice sing in Cinderella:

Cinderelly, Cinderelly

Night and day it’s Cinderelly

Make the fire, fix the breakfast

Wash the dishes, do the moppin’

And the sweepin’ and the dustin’

They always keep her hoppin’


She go around in circles

Till she very, very dizzy

Still they holler

Keep-a-busy, Cinderelly!”

I hope you smile as you remember that scene but on some days I really do just scurry through the days, which turn into weeks, then seasons and eventually years. It’s like I think I can run a 100-yard dash pace for a marathon.

Yesterday my four year old, Jesse, climbed into my lap as we were outside enjoying the “mythical fall weather” as my husband jokingly calls it. My son let me hold him, and sing ‘Jesus loves me’, ‘My God is so great’, and ‘God is so good’, softly into his ear. The crazy part was he kept still for that long and seemed completely content just letting me cuddle close to him. In reality it was probably a total of five minutes but it felt a little longer as I allowed myself to slow down and breathe in this precious moment. It won’t always be like this, I remind myself. Cherish the time. I look down at him with his legs dangling off the chair and think, ‘Where in the world did the time go? Slow down, please!’

The cover of my journal reads, “An extraordinary life is made up of thousands of beautiful moments”. I don’t know who wrote it, but I love it. I want to try and enjoy the big and small moments because as a whole, it is my life. I hope to be more in the present even when the day is completely chaotic or feels like a “terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day”. Because when I start to make a habit of wishing away the days, at the end of my life there might be a whole lot of regret.

God gave us good gifts to enjoy. He tells His children to “taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8 NIV); He calls us to “be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10 NIV). So often I get caught up in the busyness of life because I think it makes me important and my priorities get out of whack. Remember what Jesus said to Martha in Luke 10? I think Martha had the gift of hospitality but she let her to-do list distract her from enjoying the most important person in her home. I mean, goodness gracious, Jesus the Son of God was standing in the middle of her living room! And yet, she was more concerned about baking bread and making sure there was enough olive oil. I love how the Lord tenderly says her name not once, but twice before He gently corrects her. Jesus says, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:41-42 NIV). What was it that Mary chose? Jesus. She sat at His feet soaking in His every word, experiencing the love of Christ.

I know I need to not get caught up in the things that don’t really matter. We all have to live life which include car pools, diaper changing, meeting deadlines, cleaning the house, PTA, baseball practice, piano practice and cooking dinner, but if we let those things distract us from the one thing needed most then we’ve missed it. It is way too easy to allow my schedule to squeeze out time needed with my Heavenly Father. I want, no I need to feed my soul. Just like if I did not feed my physical body I would starve, so it is with my spirit. It has to be nourished and nurtured for growth.

So my goal today is to slow down. Enjoy the many blessings that come from the hand of God and take time to know Him. Busyness, distractions and forgetting to live in the present are tools of discontentment which take our eyes off of the the One who loves us more than anything. Ecclesiastes 3:1 says “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven” (NIV). So some seasons are busier than others, but what is needed most no matter what season of life I am in is fellowship with the Lover of my soul. I hope you are blessed today as you slow down a bit and recognize the good gifts from our Heavenly Father.

When the vanities of the world ensnare me,

let me not plunge into new guilt and ruin.

May I remember the dignity of my spiritual release,

never be too busy to attend to my soul,

never be so engrossed with time

that I neglect the things of eternity;

thus may I not only live, but grow towards thee.”

(‘A Christian’s Prayer’ The Valley of Vision, p. 108-9)

Grace upon grace,


Go deeper: Colossians 3:1-2; Psalm 118:24