Unseen Hands

Unseen Hands

As I walked into my daughter’s bedroom, I picked up dirty laundry from the floor.  I carried it to the bathroom chute and dropped it in, then hung some towels and wiped up a toothpaste mess.  I proceeded into my son’s room for some straightening and then to my own.  Downstairs, I emptied 2 trashcans and a laundry basket and a suitcase from my husband’s business trip that week.

Thousands of times, I’ve picked up dirty laundry, straightened towels and emptied trash cans – virtually unseen.

Of course when I don’t do these things – everyone sees the overflowing trash can and laundry baskets and the overflow seems to whisper, “you are failing – you are not keeping up – the whole family can clearly see this.”  and I get discouraged.

And so today as I hung my husband’s pants and thought about how this has happened for 16 years virtually unseen — I am reminded of how often God is at work in my life virtually unseen.

He protects me while I sleep, provides food and friends and fun and a bounty of blessings daily both physically and spiritually too – but then something goes all wrong and I wonder – where’s God.

He’s unseen during the issue at hand.  And I get discouraged.

We are not unseen – God sees every little thing we do to bless and care for our families.

He knows.

And we must practice His presence and His pleasure.  We must know that He is there – and will never leave us or forsake us.  And we must never forget that though he is not showing up the way we would have Him show up, He is in our trials – working.

His hand is often unseen – until time passes and we look back.  It is with perspective that we see clearly His hand.

So mamas, as you serve your families today – you are seen. Jesus knows your hurts and your burdens that no one else sees.  He is there and he wants you to come to him.

28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” ~ Matthew 11:28-30

Trade in your heavy burdens for his light load.

Trust in God’s unseen hand to carry you through your weary days.

Chime In: Are you in this place today? Feeling unseen or wondering where God is in the midst of a certain trial? Share your burden in the comment section and let’s pray for one another.  

Walk with the King,

Courtney

Balancing Family & Ministry & Launching a Book

balancing family ministry launching a book

I get asked all.the.time ,“How do you do it all?”

My answer – I don’t.

As a matter of fact, I have a feeling if we exchanged homes, husbands, kids and calendars there is NO way I could do all you do – you know why?  Because God gifted you to do what you do and me to do what I do and if we swapped…I could not fill your space like you fill your space!  God created you unique to do what you do and he uniquely pieced together your family with your husband and children to be with you.  Then he gave you your personality type and talents to serve him uniquely in the church.

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.~ Ephesians 2:10

I believe that blogging is the good work God created in advance for me to do.  There’s no glory here for me to take.  I should not be lifted on a pedastal as some kind of super woman who does it all.  Because I don’t!

Like those of you who have a gift of singing or playing an instrument  or whipping up a fancy meal – it comes easy to you – it’s a joy.  Writing is like this for me - I can write a post in 25 minutes flat AND it’s a joy…it’s easy.

It’s the other stuff that is SO hard for me – like organizing – blak!

I don’t do it all.

To some that will disappoint you and to others it will be a huge relief!

But let me talk about balancing it all for a moment…lest I lead you all to think that I lead some extraordinary life that is balanced!

During the months of August, September and October – I was very focused on the conference, webcasts, and book launch.  If my life looked like the past 3 months on a regular basis my family would be in shambles and I’d be a train wreck.  Let me take this even one step further – my ministry would lose its integrity.  I could not write the words I write and live the life I have led for the last 3 months – and continue to write with integrity.  This is where the crazy train stops and I get off :) !

This was a special season where my family pulled together and supported me being lopsided for a season.  My husband picked up the slack at home and filled in my gaps.  He watched the kids and was there for whatever I needed.

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My husband hanging the banner the day before the conference.

What I learned from being lopsided and stressed out – is that things in life I could normally handle turned into emergencies.  For example, my daughter chipped her tooth – and I freaked out – going to the dentist barely fit onto the calendar between interviews and on-line promotions:

 alexis tooth

My son was facing a lot of foot/ankle pain from football practice.  Everyday after practice for 8 weeks he soaked his feet in two buckets of ice water – which included stops at the gas station to get ice – which resulted in mulitple Dr. visits –  which resulted in me feeling like this was all a huge burden {sigh – mommy guilt}

 Alex the price of winning

Then there was my car wreck – my car was totalled – this was upsetting – who has time to deal with insurance companies and more Dr. appointments?  Blak!

car wreck

Did I mention that my husband was traveling out of state for work 13 days in October including the day/week of my actual book launch – OY!

So if you imagined a celebration dinner – on launch day – think again.  I woke up to my big launch day and had to get the kids ready for their “homeschool group” photos.  We were out the door by 8:45am and there was NO time for me to even look at all the the emails, tweets and Facebook  messages pouring in that day.  I sat in the back of the room at homeschool group – attempting to focus on the teacher who was teaching (mothers attend the classes with their children) but who was I kidding. I was dying to get out of there!  It was a very un-glamourous day. But the pictures came out great!

alex and alexis school pics

Then there was unexpected  death of my grandmother (my mom’s mother)  - just 1 week before my conference that surprised my entire family and threw me for an emotional loop…

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and…

I am sad to share that this past weekend we lost my other grandmother (my father’s mother) and we will be attending her funeral this Saturday.

Heartbreaking.

—-no words.

(those who have followed my blog for a while know that I lost a very close Aunt this past year to cancer – this has been an extremely hard year for my close knit family – I expect lots of tears this holiday season)

—-

So while I am rejoicing at the launch of my book – I have to admit – spiritual warfare is VERY real.  I have felt the words of these verses intensely:

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.” ~ 2 Corinthians 4:7,8

Oh friends, I have felt hard pressed on every side!  If you see any joy in me – it’s from God’s all-surpassing power and not from me as 2 Corinthians 4 says.

But I am at the finish line of the book launch and I rejoice that we made it through – alive – for real!!!  When you attend 3 funerals in one year – and remember the cracking sound of the car wreck – you can’t help but to give God thanks for each breath you take!

Thursday night, November 7th the final webcast airs and ironically the topic is Balancing Your Family and Your Ministry.  We will be hearing from one of my ministry mentors – Karen Ehman of Proverbs 31 Ministries and joining me on the couch for one last time – will be Darlene the Time Warp Wife and Ruth from The Better Mom.

 

session 7

 

Don’t miss this last webcast!

It airs Thursday, November 7th at 9pmCT/10EST

at WomenLivingWell.tv

In closing, I truly love every minute of my on-line ministry.

But remember that when you click “follow” on Facebook or Twitter or Pinterest or Instagram or Youtube  –  you are simply following a flawed follower of Christ – nothing more.  If you need a friend to journey along side of you in your life long pursuit of following Jesus – I’m in.

And don’t try to do it all – I’m not.

Walk with the King,

3D wlwbook cover

 

The book, Women Living Well: Finding Your Joy in God, Your Man, Your Kids and Your Home, is now available in most bookstores and on-line at Amazon.com or Barnes and Noble.

Have You Lost Your Edge?

 

The end of 2012 was really hard for me.  In November, I had a little meltdown late one night as my husband and I talked about life.  I started crying and just couldn’t stop – which is very unlike me. I think I cried for over an hour.  I was simply exhausted and the idea of adding my Christmas to-do list to homeschooling and blogging and book edits – completely overwhelmed me.

Of course, it was all so clear for my husband that I should just put the blog on hold till after the book edits were complete (they were due January 2nd to Thomas Nelson) and until Christmas was over (seems reasonable right?)…but that was VERY hard for me to do.  I had tons of Christmas posts lined up in my mind!!!  And I wanted to share the holiday season with you all!

But I took my husband’s advice and abruptly went on a bloggy break

Once the noise of the on-line world was silenced…I could see a lot of things in my personal life that needed to be dealt with.  I needed to be praying more.  Period.  My 2012 prayer journal was pathetically empty…pages and pages and pages of my 5 Subject Notebook that is typically bursting full with life at the end of the year EMTPY!  What in the world?  I’ve been prayer journaling for nearly 20 years and never had I had such a pathetic year of prayer!

I needed to be exercising again.  I needed to be reading good books for my own soul – not just to review and promote on the blog.  I needed to be a better friend to my real-life friends.  Part of my evening of sobbing to my husband hinged on the fact that two of my dearest  long time friends had painfully difficult years this past year and I was not there for them.  I was so busy on-line that I did not take them a meal or write them encouragement notes.  I prayed for them and hugged them and listened to them.  But I in no way served them or was there for them.  I regret this…and fear gripped me as I realized if I keep living like I did in 2012, I will have no real-life friends!!! 

As January rolled around on the calendar, I realized…I had lost my edge.  My exhaustion sucked the life and passion out of me to do ministry.  All I wanted to do was play, eat, sleep, exercise and read good books.  Writing was the last thing on the list I wanted to do…and then I read 2 Kings 6.

It’s a strange story tucked right into 2nd Kings and it was wondrously applicable – I mean REVOLUTIONARY to me!  Some of you may remember that I wrote about my need to “sharpen my axe“.  I knew I was feeling dull but I was worse off than I thought…I wasn’t just dull – my edge was gone!

And I just wonder…have you lost your edge too?  Maybe it’s not from blogging…but maybe it’s from parenting a difficult teen or being up late at night with your babies or maybe you are a missionary on the mission field and ministry has sucked the life out of you too. 

Maybe you are in a church where very few serve and there’s a lot of takers and you are tired of giving. Maybe you are stressed out, your calendar is too full, your bank statement is depressing or you are trapped in a circumstance that frustrates you.  Your hope is gone and the spark you once had has fizzled. Maybe your heart for the lost or the poor or the sick or the needy has hardened or grown cold.  And you feel like you just can’t do it anymore.

Whatever it is that has caused you to lose your edge – listen to this story out of 2nd Kings!


 

(If you cannot see this video – click here)

If you’ve lost your edge, go into a room alone and close the door.  Get on your knees and ask the Lord to supernaturally bring it back.

I have been daily praying,

“Oh Lord, bring back my edge…”

I’m waiting. 

Walk with the King,

 

 Ps. I may have lost my edge – but Good Morning Girls is ON FIRE!!!  Our Bible study in the book of Luke is about to begin (the 8 week winter session begins Monday, Jan. 14th).  We have thousands of women enrolled and the FREE ebook and Bible reading plans have now been translated into EIGHT different languages!!!  Cue the confetti and cartwheels!  God is amazing!  He is doing an amazing work around the world over at GMG!  If your first language is Hungarian, Russian, Swedish, Dutch, German, Spanish, Croatian or French hop on over to GoodMorningGirls.org and get your materials in your OWN language FREE!!!!

I’m Maxed Out!

 

I knew the day would come – when I’d say – I can’t do it anymore. 

I can’t blog, homeschool the kids, keep the house clean, be the wife I want to be, maintain my friendships, serve at church, attend all the children’s activities (four nights a week)  AND write a book!

I can’t.

I’m . maxed . out .

Today by lunch time I was muttering under my breath – I quit.

But there’s nothing on the list I plan to quit on – so…I think I just have to call a Time Out.

My manuscript is due to the publisher on September 30th.  I shared in August that I had just completed writing 60,000 words  - but that was just the first draft.  I had not done proof reading yet.  So now I’m in that process and I really want this book to be the best it can be…so I have to call a – Time Out - on the blog.

For the next three weeks – I plan to continue the Monday Revive Your Marriage series, host the link-ups on Wednesday (without a post), and host Janelle’s recipes on Fridays. 

Come October 1st – the manuscript will be turned into the publisher Thomas Nelson {squeal} and I’ll be breathing a deep sigh of relief and back in the saddle here. 

Sunday - I had a splitting headache all day – and in those weak moments I began to question my decisions.  God brought to mind something my dear friend Karen Ehman had said to me at the Proverbs 31 Conference.  She said “you need to have a prayer team Courtney.”  I agreed but then went on my merry way.  I hate sharing my weaknesses.  I don’t want to be a burden on anyone, so I never emailed my friends.  I want to be strong in the Lord…but God’s been humbling me…and making me realize just how weak I really am.   

So I confess…I need prayer.

Would a few of you pray for me for the next 3 weeks?  I knew this was going to be hard…but I pridefully felt I could handle it all.

I was so wrong. 

Every morning, I feel like the little train that could – I think I can, I think I can, I think I can. (I’m sure I’m not alone – I have a feeling many of you are drowning in the back-to-school calendar too! Can I get an Amen?)

I went to hear Michelle Duggar speak at a local church a few years back.  She talked about how overwhelmed she was around baby number 7.  One night when she was up around 1am folding laundry, she began to cry. She was overwhelmed with the diapers, dishes, laundry, meals, cleanup, corrections, school lessons, baths, hugs, kisses, and the list went on. It was at that moment that she cried out to God “Lord, I need your help, I can’t do it all!”     God brought 2 Corinthians 12:9 to her mind:

My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”

It is when we are weak that God’s power has a chance to work through us.

Boasting in my weaknesses – is not my strong suit.  But today, it’s time for me to do a little Second Corinthians boasting.  I am SO weak.  If this book turns out to be any good at all – it will CLEARLY be Christ’s power working through me because on my own – I cannot do this. 

On my own – I quit. 

But – I’m not on my own.  God’s grace is sufficient and he has carried me thus far and I believe he will carry me all the way to the end! He is faithful. I know this…but I still feel like quitting…so for now – I’ll take a time out.

As hot tears rush to my eyes – I humbly admit - I covet your prayers and am grateful for anyone who has a minute to cover me in them. 

Walk with the King,

 

 

 

5 Disciplines~Week 2 – Time Management

First let me begin with a Week 1 update:  My “Body Challenge” goal was to lose 5 pounds in 5 weeks.  As of today, I have lost 1 1/2 pounds and I think if I eat one jelly bean I will gain this pound back.  lol!  So this means I must continue to skip my after dinner snack and exercise 20 minutes, 3+ times a week to maintain this loss and continue to lose more.  If you took the week one challenge and have an update – please leave it in the comment section – this is your accountability :)!

Now let’s move into week two’s Discipline –  Time Management!

One thing I have realized this week as I’ve tried to add in exercise is that it’s hard for me to find time.  Basically, it appears that I’m using all my time doing something I want or need to be doing – which means I have to stop doing something in order to add in exercise…which I really don’t feel like doing…so it’s easy to just think “I don’t have time.”   I have it – it’s just not how I want to spend it! :(

Elizabeth Elliot says in her book Discipline-The Glad Surrender:Time management, a highly developed science today, begins for the Christian with time set aside for God.  Other things cannot fall into a peaceful order if this is omitted.”

Here is why time management begins with our time spent with God…how will we know how to spend our time – what we should commit to and what we should say “no” to, if we are not in communion with God?

As God’s children we should be praying “Thy will be done” but often times we are praying “my list be done.” 

The mistake here is that we may put onto our own plate more than God would put on our plate  – and as a result raise our stress levels to extremely high levels.

Jesus says – “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”~ Matthew 11:28,29

When our stress levels are high – it is nearly impossible to be kind, patient, gentle and in tune with our husband and children.  We are too busy to stop to care and there is absolutely no room for error in the day.  We need to guard our time so there is room to breathe – room to kiss booboos, read a mind stretching-soul inspiring book, soak in a bubble bath or linger long with your husband in bed.  These are gifts that God has given us to enjoy.

What gifts have you turned down from God because you are over-committed or pursuing the wrong things?

 “There is always enough time to do the will of God.”~Elizabeth Elliot

I love schedules.  God created us as creatures of habit and we see in creation a natural rhythm as the sun sets and rises day after day and the seasons change one after another every.single.year.

There are some things set into our weeks that we can’t escape.  We all have to cook, clean and do laundry.  So why not create a rhythm in our homes to accomplish the mundane, so we are free to enjoy fun, family and fellowship!  Here’s an example of my cleaning schedule:

This schedule guarantees that everything gets done at least once a week…truthfully…some of these things need to be done twice a week.  By about day 5 – the house looks like a tornado :(  I know this schedule cannot work for everyone (especially doing laundry just one day a week for large families) BUT it’s a good place to start.  And it’s time to be pro-active and think through what DOES work.

If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time. ~ Zig Ziglar

Week 2 – Challenge:
1.  Sit down and look at your calendar.  Think about your priorities.
2.  Pray and ask God to give you wisdom as to what you should be doing with your time.
3.  Write out a list of what you need to get done this week – don’t forget to write in time with God!  (you can use the free printable below as a guide :) !)
4.  Every morning this week, look over your to-do list.  Pray and ask God for wisdom.  Add, take away or move things on your list accordingly.
5. Continue this discipline next week and the week after.  Soon you will find order and rhythm to your days and weeks.

5 Weeks 5 Disciplines – Time Management

Here’s last week’s printable if you need a fresh one for the new week:
5 Weeks 5 Disciplines – Body
Are you taking the Time Management Challenge – tell us in the comment section? 

If you have any time management tips, please share them!!! 

If you are a blogger – write about it, post this button in your post or side bar and then link-up below!

Walk with the King,

Does Easter Stress You Out?

I’ll keep this short and snappy because I know you have a lot to get done today!!! 

Holidays can be really rough on mamas!  We put a lot of pressure on ourselves to do it all perfectly.  There’s a laundry list of things we have to do to pull off great memories and a meaningful day for our kids and the pressure can warp mommies mood!

Let me forewarn you – Satan HATES Easter and us celebrating Jesus Christ rising from the dead!  He would LOVE to ruin your holiday.  There are many spiritual battles that we may face tomorrow and we need to be aware and stand firm (Ephesians 6)!

So here’s a few practical things to remember:

1.  It’s the tradition of being together year after year that builds security and love within the family.  NOT how big the basket is or how perfectly the eggs are dyed.

2.  Be on guard against marital strife.  Inevitably your husband is not going to help enough or is going to do it his way not yours.  Bite your tongue (till it bleeds mamas!)- be gentle with your words toward your husband – avoid having an Easter blow up – that ruins it for everyone.  If there’s something that is just way out of line – pull him aside privately or save it until bedtime to discuss (unless of course someone is in danger!).

3.  Before you go to bed be sure everyone’s clothes and shoes and bows and accessories are out and ready to go in the morning.  Put out the breakfast plates and bowls so breakfast is quick – you’ll be in a hurry to church and might want a picture before you leave (be sure your camera batteries are charged).  These extra few minutes can make the difference between being frazzled and pleasant.

4.  Get enough sleep tonight – do not stay up late watching television or browsing blogs and facebook. Be disciplined about your bedtime tonight. 

5.  Wake up before everyone else and get your quiet time in and shower.  I know that might mean waking at 5am but trust me – if you are a step ahead of your family the day will go much more smoothly than if you are a step behind.

6.  Pray and ask God to give your family peace and joy today.  Someone could wake up sick, get chocolate down the front of their pretty dress, the Ham might not turn out right or your mother-in-law might just say something annoying again.  Remember – there is a spiritual battle we are in – pray continually that God will help you to respond lovingly and patiently and peacefully all day long!

I am saying a prayer for all who read this post today – that God would bless your Easter!  Stand firm mamas!!!
Ps. 34:3 “O magnify the Lord with me, And let us exalt His name together.”
Walk with the King!


This is linked to A Holy Experience.