Troubled Waters

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Some of my blogs published do pertain to current circumstances, others are ones I have written in the past but at that moment didn’t feel like it was time to share. This one was actually written last year but I just now felt it was time to post it. So here you go, I hope it encourages you.

I am fixing to be pretty vulnerable at the moment, but in hopes it will help encourage someone and let them know they are not alone. I see it as fitting that as I write this, there is a storm brewing outside these doors. Dark skies, heavy rains, an occasional thunder that makes the walls shake. You can almost feel it from within as it rumbles. It seems parallel to my mood and spirit the past few weeks. Gloomy. Gray skies. Just blah. Usually with God’s help, I can navigate through troubled waters when they start to rock my life boat and keep rowing on course. But, if I am being transparent, the past few months have left me drifting. Drifting from the One who is my anchor.

I know we all go through seasons in our spiritual walk, but it is the struggles we tend to shy away from sharing with others. After all, no one wants to be seen as a weak Christian. Lately my spiritual walk has been “meh”. That is the only word that I tend to use to describe it. Not hot, not cold, just lukewarm which honestly can be dangerous ground. It is here where I find that I tend to get lazy. I slack in my effort in putting on the whole armor of God each morning. I get careless and lackadaisical in my relationship with God. I do not make my prayer time and devotional reading a priority. I hate to even admit it, but it is true. When I ponder why I must be in this season, all I seem to get is a shoulder shrug to sum it up. I have tried to think about what may have led to this. Is God trying to teach me something? What have I done wrong? At the beginning my efforts were going strong, but as time passed, and each trial came into my life was like a crashing ocean wave, one right after another. It wore me down. I was drained mentally and physically. Exhausted, I started to lose my focus, and so I started to drift. The thing about drifting is before you know it, you find yourself distant from solid foundation, and those you love, and more importantly the One who created you.

I have been a Christian for 33 years and with my experience this is just part of our walk that we will face periodically. We will all go through seasons. Today, I cannot tell you why I went adrift the past few months. It isn’t the first time, and unfortunately it won’t be the last. It is in these seasons, that is very easy to veer off the straight and narrow, and slide on it the wide path. The path with least resistant and more of ease. Let’s face it, every day we must choose Jesus. We must stay intentional in our relationship with him, and put his will over our will. So easy to write or say these words, but so hard to do. Especially when day in and day out, you feel like you are doing a decent job living a Christian life, but troubles just keep coming relentlessly. They don’t have to be on a grand scale to put off massive ripples either. Enough small ones can do just as much harm in rocking your boat. There are times when your just done. You just want to quit trying. The past 3 years have been filled with struggles it seems. It gets tiresome. I dare say at some point, maybe even several times, we have all wanted to just wave the white flag and say “I give up!!”. Maybe it has even gotten to the point, your faith has wavered and you have strayed from your heavenly Father. You wonder where God is and why is he not showing up. May I remind you that God is always present in our lives, the good and the bad. He sees your tears. He hears your murmurs when words just don’t come. His word tells us we will have troubles in this world.

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world. John 16:33 ESV

 I want you to know you are not alone. If no other person ever admits it to you, I have been there. I have struggled to keep up the good fight of faith.

 But God.

He sends me reminders of his love for me. He calls to my attention his goodness in times past and present. He takes me back to all those moments where I couldn’t see a way, but lo and behold, he made one appear. He reminds me of all the blessings I have in my life. He brings to my mind of his faithfulness and there has never been a time, where he wasn’t close by. Whether it was sitting on the bathroom floor, driving home one night, or just sitting on the couch letting the tears fall. He was there, counting each one. He sees it all. The good. The bad. The in-between. And yet, he still forgives me for my short comings and his love for me is steadfast. Not only for me, but for you too. There are times it takes intention to see and feel these things. Slow down, take a deep breath, and know God has you. Completely and securely.

Keep moving forward,

Hayley W

2023: Hope

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Hope. My word for 2023.

I started picking a word to focus on for each year starting in 2021. It was something I saw others do, and just felt a nudging in my own heart to do so. It is not just a random act of choosing a word, but one that I ask for God’s help on. I believe my word for 2021 was perseverance. Looking back now, man how fitting was that word for a year filled with recovery efforts from a pandemic, which had also ushered in many changes along with fear and uncertainty. I feel like in 2021, there wasn’t a choice, we were in survival mode and each day we had to keep moving forward with finding a new normal. I had to persevere for my kids and family. Surrender was the word for 2022. Now, surrender has been a hard one for me. I tend to like things to go my way, I like plans and schedules. This past year, I have learned that the more tightly I held on to the reigns in my life, convincing myself I was in control, the more miserable I became. It also became apparent that the tighter the grip I had on my circumstances, the more relaxed I became with my relationship with God. I was not very attentive in my spiritual walk. I was just floating along. Thank goodness in time, God opened my eyes to how hardened my heart had become. Compassion was gone. My attitude stunk. Positivity disappeared. One day I thought to myself, how did I get here?

Being intentional in our relationship with God is crucial. We must make a him a priority in our lives. It takes discipline and being obedient to his call on your life. Is this easy? Absolutely not. Is it worth the cost? You better believe it is! Living in this flesh, is it even doable? Not in our own power, but with God’s help and guidance, it can be done. Will you mess up and fail from time to time? Of course, but he is greater than our failures and mishaps. He knows we will not be faithful, but He will be. Every. Single. Time. Every day we must choose Jesus.

This brings me to my word: Hope. I love the hope God offers.

Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost. Romans 15:13

Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, All ye that hope in the Lord. Psalm 31:24

Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil;. Hebrews 6:19

It is because of our hope in him that we can face another day. It is because of him, that we know a better day is coming for all of those who believe on him. It is because of his great love for us, we can know that he can bring good from situations that seem impossible. It is what helps me to keep moving forward. I cannot imagine life without it, nor would I want to. No matter what circumstances we may face, our hope can rest in HIM. He is faithful and we can stand on what his Word says. As long as we live and breathe, we will have trials and struggles, but do not forget that he is with us and he is GREATER!

Who or what do you place your hope in? I pray that if you do not know the hope I am writing about, that you will seek the one who can give it to you. He is the Light in this dark world. He is waiting on you to surrender to him. Let go of the fear and doubt, and seek him fully. I pray he will make his presence known to you, and pour his love and peace into your life so you too, can experience the hope that will be your anchor when life’s storms come your way.

If you have a word for 2023, please feel free to share in the comments. I would love to hear what God has put on your heart for the new year!

Keep moving forward,

Hayley W

Keep Your Mind on the Manger

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And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. Luke 2:7

Here we are, days away from celebrating the birth of Jesus, and I would ask you a question.
Where is your focus? What fills your mind each day as we inch one day closer to Christmas?

In a time where society and the media bombards us with the latest trends, the most popular gift ideas, and how to keep up with the status qou of the season, I am afraid that most of us lose sight of the real meaning behind this holiday. We think of it from time to time, in between the list making, the present shopping, the gift wrapping, and meal planning. Our intentions are good, but the busyness of the season usually drains all spare time and sanity we have left.

Let us not forget the simplicity of the first Christmas. I believe the "how" in Jesus came to earth can speak volumes to our lives if we let it. He could have been born into a wealthy, well known family. But he chose Mary and Joseph, who were humble and obedient, just common folk to most in that day. Instead of a fancy palace with a plush bed for a newborn babe, he chose a manger. A hard bin or trough like structure used for feeding or watering livestock back then. The environment wasn't quiet, sterile or dare I say welcoming for your first born to be. Some of the first to be told of his birth was not the highest officials so they could proclaim it across the land, but the lowly shepherds just watching over their flock. What a sight they got to see that night when a host of angels appeared and proclaimed Jesus's birth!

And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, "Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger." And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of heavenly host praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased." Luke 2:8-14

Jesus came for ALL. The poor and the wealthy. The young and the old. The strong and the weak. No one is excluded, but you do have a choice. Will you turn him away this Christmas or will you invite him in? He doesn’t care about the size of your house, the brand of your clothing, or how much money you have in the bank. He doesn’t care what bad choices your past may hold. He simply wants you and not a piece of you, but your whole heart. If you are like me, 2022 has been filled with struggles. It has gotten weary and burdensome at times, but knowing I have God has been enough to get me through. He is my rock, my savior, and my friend. He is my peace and my hope. He has always made a way, when all I could see was a dead end. When my world gets dark, He is the light that guides me.

I hope this Christmas, we can all keep our mind on the manger and the precious gift it once held. Don’t let the chaos of the season cause you to forget the greatest gift that was given. Jesus. It is a gift that will last for all of eternity.

Merry Christmas,

Hayley W

God is Good, Even When…

Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him! Psalm 34:8

God is good. 
Even when the prayer doesn't get answered in the way you had hoped.
Even when you don't get the job or promotion you applied for.
Even when that relationship doesn't get restored.
Even when the medical diagnosis was unexpected.
Even when you feel alone.
Even when your marriage is going through a valley.
Even when your hard work doesn't seem to pay off.
Even if you are having a bad day.
God is still good.
Even when the bills keep piling up.
Even when you feel like your just going through the motions each day.
Even when the future looks dim.
Even when your loved ones are walking down a bad path.
Even when you don't see a way.
God is still good. 

God's goodness should not be based on our circumstances, but if we were honest, we often associate the two together. When we face trials in this life, we often start to listen to our enemy and his lies. We need to acknowledge this and remind ourselves of the truth of God.
God loves us.
God is for us.
God knows what is best for us.
God keeps his promises.
God does not lie.
God is a way maker.
God is faithful, He will never leave you.
He can restore what was once broken.
He can turn ashes into beauty.
We can trust that He hears our prayers and is always working on our behalf.
He is our hope.

I pray if your struggling today, please take time to remind yourself of God's truth. He is worthy and is able to do more than our little minds can comprehend. What we see and feel as the hard knocks of life, He can take and use those moments to grow us as Christians. Sometimes we just need to let go, and trust Him with the process. Let Him guide us through the hurt and frustrations. Release the pain over to him, and receive His peace.

Keep moving forward,
Hayley W

Playing Tug of War With God

Growing up, I can recall what we used to call a  “Field Day”  held at our elementary school toward the end of the school year. I always looked forward to this time. A day of no school work, and we would get to go outside all day long and compete in different events we would choose. Some events would be mandatory, others would not. My favorites would be any type of running or relay games. My least favorite would have to be tug of war. The rope was always rough to the touch and the back and forth pulling from each team just seemed pointless to me. For someone who is not a fan of that game, I seem to find myself quite often in a tug of war with God.  Have you ever been there?

I hate to admit it, but I engage in this type of behavior with God when problems arise. I hand them over to him only to pull them back. I am a pro at it and if they gave out ribbons, I am sure I would have a stack of blue ones. You know, you’re going along and life is good and then boom, here comes a problem or trial staring you dead square in the eyes. Maybe you saw it coming, maybe you didn’t. I found myself one weekend facing an issue that left my blood pressure high and my nerves shot. The tension in my neck and shoulders was unbearable and the lack of sleep the previous night just added to the stress. When we deal with other individuals, it can be really hard because we have no control over their actions or behavior.  As much as I wanted to fix it, I could not. I knew that the only thing I could do was pray. Pray for those involved and also pray for myself. I needed to loosen my grip on this burden and let God have it. This took many attempts for me. I would ask God to take it, but then take it right back with my thoughts. I would worry, stress and get angry again repeating this vicious cycle. Nothing positive was coming from how I reacted to the situation.  I remember a moment, lying in my bed, asking God to help me surrender this to him and leave it there. I recall literally holding out my fist, which was tightly bound,  and slowly one finger at a time releasing my grip until my hand was completely open and relaxed. It was a visual sign that I needed to help me surrender it over to God. It was at that moment, that I truly cast my cares upon God for the current situation. It was then that some peace began to settle over me and I could feel the tension in my body start to ease.

Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time : casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.  1 Peter 5:6-7

Why is it so hard to let go and just let God? He says in scripture to cast our cares upon him for he careth for us, so why are we so unwilling to do so? I have talked to others and it seems that many of us struggle with this. Letting go is not our first reaction. We contemplate, we fret, we stress, we worry. It is an ongoing cycle that leaves us drained mentally and physically. I pray that when I am facing a problem, I can become better at releasing it to my heavenly Father. My first reaction should be to go straight to God and lay it at his feet. And not only lay it there, but leave it there. That is the most important action for us to do. I never liked tug of war as a kid, so why I engage in it so often now just baffles me. My hope is that as I am growing as a Christian, I can loosen my grip on the problems that may arise, and cast them at the feet of Jesus. He is our shield and our refuge. When we don’t see a way, we can trust that He does. With our prayers and obedience, he can get us through the trials that we will face. He is a good God and he loves us more than we will ever know. So the next time you feel that tugging going on between you and God, I encourage you to release your grip and trust him with whatever trial you may be struggling with.

Keep moving forward,

Hayley W

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Cleaning Out the Cobwebs

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Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Psalm 51:10

I love this time of year. The crisp mornings and cool evenings are a blessing after the hot, dry summer we have experienced. I always enjoy the burst of colors that autumn seems to bring out in nature. Another thing that seems to be in abundance this time of year is spider webs. Especially in the early mornings, when the sun begins to show itself and the dew on the web is glistening from it’s light. We have a fence that is between us and the neighboring property and each morning you see several webs stretched across the fencing. Each unique in its own way. I find their design and details intriguing.

I grew up hearing the term spider web referring to those you would see outside. For whatever reason, when found inside, most people call them cobwebs. I personally used to think of them as two different things, but the dictionary refers to a cobweb as a web spun by a spider. This makes me giggle as I think back to a recent weekend trip my family took. We stayed in a cabin, I won’t say where, but I will say there was an abundance of cobwebs. These did not leave me feeling intrigued, but rather left me and the family with the creeps. The cabin definitely could have used a good cleaning with a Swiffer Duster. Who knows, maybe it had been thoroughly clean after the last guests, but some time had passed and it gave the spiders a chance to create a new living space. Anyways, I was just glad to back in my house. Where the cobwebs are mine and I am used to them 🙂

As we walk through this life, we can also let cobwebs build up in our hearts. We are good at stuffing our issues away in the darkest corners. No one will see them there. We tell ourselves out of sight, out of mind. We can all get our hearts broken, and our feelings hurt. How we deal with it will have an impact on our future. When we don’t address current issues and we tuck them deep in our heart, they have a tendency to resurface from time to time.

Hurt can come in a variety of forms. It can be from anyone within, or on the outside of our circle. If we don’t seek out God’s help when dealing with difficult people or difficult situations, we often just have the tendency to try to ignore the pain. Pack it away deep inside. This is where cobwebs can start to to manifest in our hearts. Webs of hurt, fear, rejection, betrayal, anger and jealously can start to build up. Pretty soon, one of these emotions will link up with another, causing the web to become stronger and larger. Just because we ignore the problem doesn’t mean the effects from it have disappeared. They are still there lingering. My point is this, life is hard. People will hurt us and let us down. We will hurt others and let them down. If we don’t face the hurt, and pray to God asking him to help us process our way through the pain, we can let our hearts become hardened over time. We build walls. We lose our compassion and we stay guarded. We don’t let people in and we become isolated. This is where the enemy wants you. Alone. Do not fall for his tricks. Remember the One who has promised that he will never leave you. You are one of his. Ask God to help you tear down the walls you have started constructing, and help clean out the areas of your heart that need swept. He can do that and so much more when we are willing to surrender to him and be obedient. Don’t let past hurts sit and fester, and keep you from living the life he has for you. There is always room for growth. When we start to realize how imperfect we are, but yet God still chose to love us and forgive us, it gives us the perspective to see others as he sees them. Show grace to those around you, and more importantly, show it to yourself. Despite how you may feel, your doing a good job. Each day may be a struggle, but keep looking up and moving forward. When the answer is beyond our reach, trust God with the outcome.

Keep moving forward,

Hayley W

Lessons From a Momma Cow

Blessed is everyone who fears the Lord, who walks in his ways! Psalm 128:1

Seven years ago, we moved from a subdivision out to the country side. It was a dream come true for my family. We were surrounded by trees on two sides and cows on one side of our property. I have always wanted cows, but living by them would have to be suffice. I could see them and interact with them, but without all the work. Pretty good set up I thought. I am not sure how many people sit and watch cows, but they can be quite comical. I love watching God’s creation just do what it was meant to do. They never worry or fret about what the next day will hold, they just live out each day as they should.

One particular day I just kept hearing this momma cow bellow out. I finally went outside to see what all the ruckus was about. She was looking towards the back field and every few minutes, she would let out another “Moo”. Not getting a response back, she would take a few worrisome steps forward. This wasn’t your normal “Moo”, this was starting to be a frantic, stressful “Moo”. I watched her as she would take a few steps toward the back pasture, bellow out another sound, and wait patiently. This went on for 10-15 minutes. Finally, I guess her patience had come to an end and she took off galloping towards the direction she had kept looking. I could tell this was no joyful stroll. She was on a mission.  She disappeared for awhile and the next time I saw her, she was coming up from the back field. Her gallop had turned into a confident stroll heading towards the front pasture. There along side of her was a small calf. Just doting along with its mother. I just giggled as I watched them heading my way. I am pretty sure in her own way, she gave that little fellow a stern, but loving warning. Listen to my voice little one and I will keep you safe.

God has always used his creation to speak to my heart. As I was chuckling about the situation, I thought of my role as a mother. I too, have called for my children, only to have to go searching for them. And I too, like that momma cow, was not happy as I was heading their way. It made me also think of my relationship with my heavenly Father. My, how many times have I wandered away from him, only to have him call and call for me to come back. It is not out of anger or disappointment that he speaks my name, but out of love and protection. His call has always been a soft whisper, never an angry shout. Just like that momma was looking after her baby’s safety, God knows that when I wander from him, I am just setting myself up for trouble to come knocking on my door. He gently speaks my name and nudges my heart, but oftentimes I am resistant. I want to do what the flesh wants to do and majority of the time that is the opposite of what we are called to do as Christians. That baby calf still has a lot to learn as he grows and gets older, but you would think that I would know better. I just turned 45 this year, have been a Christian for 33 years, but yet I am still prone to stray.

I have realized that it is a daily choice we must make. To choose God, or to choose self. It doesn’t come natural once you become a Christian. Yes, you have a greater desire to know him and draw closer to him, but just like the seasons we have in our weather, our Christian walk will also have seasons. I have went through periods of time when my fire for the Lord was blazing high, and other times when it feels like just an ember barely putting out the faintest glow.  I am so thankful that no matter how many times we may stray away from God, he will still draw us back home. We just have to listen and heed his calling. He loves us, and he wants us to live abundantly. He knows what our future holds and will try to protect us all he can, but at some point, we have to recognize that we have a part to play in that. We have choices to make. Every single choice we make has consequences. Good or bad.  I pray that when I start to veer off in the wrong direction, that I can become more attentive to God’s voice and recognize the impact of the decisions I am making, are they drawing me closer to my Creator or farther away? A lot of times it happens in little steps, we are not even aware of what we are doing. The next thing we know, there is a great distance felt between us and God, but guess what? He isn’t the one who moved. We are.  

To this day, I can recall the visual of seeing that momma calling out to her calf just wanting to make sure it was okay. She was upset and frantic when her baby wouldn’t communicate back to her. I can’t help but think how God watches me each day and my actions leave him with his hands on his hips, shaking his head. He calls for me, but I just keep walking the other way. He pleads for me to turn around and seek him and his ways, but yet I ignore the tugging on my heart. Daily, God is beckoning us to call upon him. To seek him. To spend time with him. Not just to hear our long list of complaints or needs, but because he loves us and we are his. No matter how old our children get, we still want to hear from them and in the same way, God wants to hear from us. I have had many conversations with him. Some in the form of prayers. Others in words of praise and worship. Some were just quiet moments spoken with my tears. When frustrations overwhelm me, or my worries are mounting high, I have to stop and just surrender them to him. I have often told my kids as well that God can handle our anger too. Sometimes we cannot help but get mad at the things going on around us. If it angers us, imagine how much it must upset him. He can help take that anger away and replace it with peace and perspective. I know he already knows all things, but he wants to hear it from us. Being obedient to the call of casting all cares upon him. When we talk to him, whether out loud or from within, we make a connection with him. It helps us to grow in our relationship with him. The less we talk to him, the harder it is to hear him when he speaks to us or calls our name. The more we spend time investing in our relationship with him, the louder his voice will become in our life. He is our faithful guide and will not lead us astray. I encourage you to communicate daily with God and open your ears and heart for the words he has for you.

Keep moving forward,

Hayley W

Knock the Dust off, and Get Back Up

Issue after issue. Problem after problem. Bill after bill. Worry after worry.

Stress, fear, anxiety, tension, frustration. I have rubbed and massaged my forehead so much the past few weeks, the wrinkles and creases should be ironed out. No major catastrophe’s, just life and it’s mishaps. Rising with the sun each morning, each day seem to bring with it a new issue to figure out. The weariness of trying to come up with solutions was becoming exhausting. Not only mentally, but the knot between my shoulders and neck just got worse each day. I tried to keep a positive attitude, but we all have a breaking point, and well, I hit mine. I lost all self control at the kitchen table with the latest bad news, and couldn’t hold back the tears any longer. They poured out effortlessly and my posture just cowered. I felt defeated. I felt weak. In that moment, I was careless with the words that came out. I believe I even uttered the words “Satan, you win.” That still makes me cringe just to write those words. Looking back, it was just plain foolish. A downright silly outburst of not-so-nice words about my life. Shame on me. My “pity party for one” lasted a few minutes, and momentarily I felt some release, but then came on the guilt. I knew I had let the flesh win. I also knew I had to apologize to God and ask him to forgive me. With each obstacle thrown our way, my gaze was shifted away from him and onto the current problem. I knew better than that. I also had to apologize to my daughter, because unfortunately she witnessed my little episode.

The thing is that life happens to us all, the good and the bad, but God’s goodness is still present at all times. He loves us. He has good for us. Bad things happen because we live in a sinful world, not because God doesn’t care, but to many times we want to blame someone so we blame him. I think if we have someone to blame, it makes us filled justified when we poorly handle situations. The only one that failed in that moment was me. I was weak and discouraged and that is when the enemy took his opportunity to pounce.

Later on that evening, I was driving in my car on the interstate. I was feeling some conviction over what I said earlier out loud during my little breakdown. I ask God to forgive me. I am a child of God, so I had to remind myself that I am on the winning team. God is the victor, and because I belong to him, I am victorious as well. I was reminded of one of my favorite verses.

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. Romans 8:37

Did you catch that 4 letter word “more“? We aren’t just conquerors, we are more than conquerors because of Jesus and his love for us. That verse encourages me. It gives me hope and strength. I hope it does something for you as well. If you have time, read the whole 8th chapter of Romans. It has some good stuff! Not only did I feel that verse being impressed on my heart while driving, but then the song Overcomer by Mandisa came on the radio. I had one of those “church in the car” moments. I knew God was trying to reassure me and encourage me to keep on keeping on for him. He is worth it. I thought back on where I used to be, the mountains I have climbed, the valleys I have went through, and remembered who was with me every step of the way. Jesus. My Jesus. It hasn’t always been an easy path, but I have never had to walk it alone. He is faithful in his love for us and you can stand rock solid on his promises.

When life knocks you down repeatedly, you can either stay down or get back up. Ask God for the courage and strength to stand back up. No matter how dirty the path may get, knock the dust off and get back up, and carry on. I think of Jesus, beaten beyond recognition, forced to carry the cross he would be crucified on, but he didn’t give up. He carried on to fulfill his role for you and for me. You are stronger than you think and God will be with you. Keep up the good fight and keep your eyes on him.

Keep moving forward,

Hayley W

Finding The Wonder In Each Day

If you read my last post, you know how I have a hard time keeping my mind on the right track. I am at an age where I understand this is a cycle that I frequent, but yet can’t seem to prevent it. I am aware that I have to just keep doing the habits I need to and I will get to the other side. Habits like reading my Bible, attending church, praying, and being intentional with my thoughts. Even though I am fully conscious of this, somewhere along the the path, I will slip off into the ditch or take a wrong turn. To be honest, some of those choices are mine to make, other times it just happens even when I feel like I am doing all the right things. It is a season we all face as Christ followers and it is a season we will face multiple times in our walk. But guess what, every season has an ending and it will pass. If you find yourself stuck in a rut, do not lose faith or hope. Keep pressing forward, one step and one day at a time.

Over the past couple of months, it has come to my attention that I have let the devil have a seat at my table. Not only did I let him sit down, but I let him stay for awhile. He knows my weak areas, and I just sat there taking each punch he would send. I believe wholeheartedly that our greatest battles are those within our thoughts. A good scripture to meditate on is Phillipians 4:8. This verse has been so helpful to me over the years.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.  Phillipians 4:8

Realizing that my focus was off, I started asking God to help me find the wonder again in each day. The definition of wonder is :

To think or speculate curiously; to be filled with admiration, amazement, or awe.

It wasn’t a sophisticated prayer, just one that ask him to help me to slow down and open my eyes and heart to see him daily. I have to say that he has answered each day. When I see each wonder, I can’t help but to chuckle and look up and say, I see you God! Now, I don’t actually see God, but I see his handiwork. I see the evidence all around that points back to him. It makes me smile each time. I feel his love for me. I will admit, it is kinda fun to start each day excited. What will he show me today? I will tell you some of my wonders. I am sure some will leave you laughing and scratching your head. You may think what is so neat about that? But the thing is, this is personal. It is between me and God. He knows me. He gets what makes my heart smile.

My wonders –

A groundhog on the side of the road (I told you some would make you scratch your head. And yes the groundhog was alive, just doing it’s own thing.)

A beautiful moth on the wall going into my work

A guy washing his car with the window squeegee at a gas station (Go ahead and laugh, I sure did. It is just something you don’t see often)

Sound of rain coming across a field

The flight pattern of a hummingbird

A young boy with a prosthetic leg. (He didn’t let it slow him down either)

Tree frogs chirping after a rain

Flowers in my garden

A morning fog rolling across the fields

A rainbow after a quick rain shower

Praying out loud with a stranger (Way out of my comfy zone, but God was there. To be honest, this person ask me to pray. I didn’t just volunteer.)

A late bloom on my hibiscus. (I have been waiting all summer)

This has been a blessing to me each day. I am grateful for God’s love and answered prayers. If you find yourself in a season of struggle, or have the mental blues and it seems the skies are constantly gray, ask for God’s help. Sometimes we just need reminders of how blessed we are, and what a good God we serve. He is willing, but it is up to us to ask and then be intentional with your thoughts and outlook. I will leave you with a quote I saw on a social media feed that really struck a chord with me. It said, “The moment you start acting like life is a blessing, it starts feeling like one.”

Keep moving forward,

Hayley W

Staying In Your Lane

Lately life just seems overly complicated. Heavy. Uncertainty in every direction you look. I don’t know about you, but I just get tired and worn down from the every day chaos and pressure. We live in a world that is overloaded with demands and distractions. Success is often measured by how many commitments you can cram onto your calendar. It is exhausting, my friend, when we try to keep up with the rat race that this world tries to convince us that we must win. It has negative effects on our physical, mental, and spiritual health. So what do we do?

Here is a phrase that I have redirected my thoughts to lately.

Stay in your lane and do the next thing.

The first part is just something that I feel God has impressed upon my heart. The second part comes from a homesteader named Jessica Sowards. She has a Youtube channel called Roots and Refuge farm. She is a Christian, and her personality is that of kindness and humility. She has a love that pours out of her for God and for others.

Stay in your lane. God knows my heart and my mind. He knows my struggles. There is no coincidence of why he has impressed this upon me. He knows how I get distracted and all too often , get caught up with the lives of others. I will never understand the choices others make and I am aware that others question my actions as well. I can often times dwell a little too much causing my focus to get blurred and shifted on things that really don’t matter. If I am not careful, it will make me doubt circumstances in my life. If I become so worried on what others are doing, I forget to live my own life. My journey is my journey. Their journey is their journey. There is no benefit from comparing the two. We all have a purpose, though unique to each of us. May I do a better job of taming the ol’ tongue and that is not an easy task! I need to be praying more for others and encouraging those around me. A few weeks back, I felt the nudge to read the book of Proverbs. There is a lot of scripture guiding us to be careful with the words we say. Before we start throwing out words about someone, we need to think before we speak. When it comes to people’s lives, we only get to see a small window. We have no idea what goes on behind the scenes. When I say these things just know I am writing them to myself first. How about before we speak out an opinion towards them, let’s speak up a prayer for them. May God help us to stay in our lane and focus on the life he has blessed us with. Let’s spend our time and energy on being the best version of “Me” and seek what God wants for us. He never created us to compare. Comparison is a thief of contentment. Let us focus on our journey, face our own struggles, and ask God to help guide us.

Do the next thing. We all like control. We like how it makes us feel. I think if the past 2 years has shown us anything, it is what little control we actually have. That can cause us to squirm in our seats a little. When we look towards the future, I think it is safe to say that we all have some kind of plan we would like to see pan out. We have that hope it will go the way we have imagined, but often times those plans get derailed. They take a wrong turn. They get lost. Next thing you know your sitting under a big dark cloud of the unknown. You don’t know what the next step will be. Do you turn right, left, or go straight? It can get very burdensome, but this is where you let go of your grip on how you think things should be, and surrender it to God. Not easy, but beneficial for sure. I am a planner. I like schedules. But sometimes my need for planning things out into the future back fires, and then I am sent scrambling around wondering what to do next. As Jessica Sowards has stated multiple times, just do the next thing. Quit thinking on a large scale and focus on the next small step that you are capable of doing. Focusing on a grand plan is daunting. I don’t know about you, but when I focus on plan ABC, I can find myself stuck just walking in circles. If I break it down and focus on each step of the plan: part A, part B, and part C, I am likely to get more accomplished and keep my sanity and peace. (Those that know me well will say Amen to that.)

If you find yourself struggling with certain aspects of life right now, I encourage you to take a step back. Know you are not alone. Take some time to slow down. Breathe. Pray. Read your Bible. Focus on the next thing you can do and stay in your lane. Live your life. I believe we were created for so much more in life, but we let this world and its troubles hold us back from what God has for us.

Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Proverbs 3:5-6

Keep moving forward,

Hayley W

The Good Father

Look at how great a love the Father has given us that we should be called God’s children. 1 John 3:1

As I mentioned in my post around Mother’s Day, I understand that Father’s Day can also be a hard holiday for some to celebrate. There are those who no longer have their dads with them. Some whose relationships were harsh or non-existent, and those who may have never known their biological dad. My heart truly aches for you. Even though you may not spend this Father’s Day with your earthly dad, I pray that you feel the presence of your heavenly Father. I pray you know you are loved and seen by him. He has chosen you to be his child. If you don’t have a relationship with him, what are you waiting for? Seek him, call upon him and pray to him. There are no certain words you must speak. There are no boxes you have to check off before you have a relationship with God. You do not have to try to clean up your life or your past sins, he already paid the price for those on the cross. He died so that you could live. He knows how many times we will fail him, but he gave his life for us anyway. There is none like him. He is the Creator, the King of Kings, and the Good Shepherd and I am thankful for that. How many times has he left the 99 to come rescue me from my foolish decisions. He is a friend of sinners, and boy am I glad for that! We are all sinners, we all fall short, but yet in his mercy, we are saved by his unfailing grace. He is a good, good Father.

Sometimes I just wish I could tell those who do not know God as their father, oh if they only knew what they could have by being his child. If you only knew the number times I have messed up things in my life, but yet there was God. If you only knew the times I have turned my back on him, but yet he was faithful to stay. If you only knew that in the hardest days of your life, he will be an anchor in your storm. Only God can give you peace like no other. Only God can free you from the shame and guilt you may carry. Only God can give you forgiveness and offer you a home in heaven. His love is overwhelming at times to a sinner like myself. I know my past, I know my thoughts and so does he, but yet he still loves me and calls me one of his own.

There is nothing this world can offer, no one, no place, no thing, that can fill that void in your heart. You can chase whatever you have your sights on, but at the end of the day, it will be in vain. It wont last and will be like the wind, here one minute and gone the next. Set your mind on not what is temporal or worldly, but on the things above in heavenly places.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.  Mark 12:30

I am so very grateful to still have my dad with me today. He brought me up in church and taught me about Jesus. He was firm, but loving. He put up with a lot of my rebellious ways through out my teenage years, but I always knew he was there despite the hurt I may have caused him. He has not always had an easy path, and he has dealt with a lot of health issues, but his faith remained strong. I always knew that my parents were my biggest supporters. Without a doubt, the most important influence they had as parents on me and my sister’s life, was leading us to Jesus. They didn’t just tell us what to do, or what to believe, they showed us in their actions and how they lived each day.

No matter your situation with your biological dad, please know you have a heavenly father who loves you more than anyone. I pray that today you feel his love and peace in your life.

Keep moving forward,

Hayley W

The Gift of a Birthday

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.  James 1:17

I recently celebrated my 45th birthday. That just doesn’t seem possible. How has four and a half decades flown by so quickly? To some 45 seems old, to others, a number they wish they could go back to. It is funny how that as each year passes by, our perspective starts to change on age. As I sat here pondering the years gone by, it is easy to be saddened by the realization that half my life is already gone. I find that if I am not careful, I can easily get sucked into the thoughts of things that could have been, places I should have seen, adventures still unchecked on my list. But the past is the past. No sense dwelling on it because you can’t go back and change it. All we have is the present. So, I turn my thoughts onto what is ahead. My goals that are still attainable. The life still left to be lived. Memories to be made. Family to be loved. Sights to be seen.

Birthdays should be a time of celebration and too often as we get older, we just see them as another sign of us gaining ground on getting more wrinkles, more gray hairs, and more aches and pains. We can often reflect back and wonder where did the time go? What all have I accomplished in this life that God has given me?

 I recall in my earlier years the anticipation of birthdays. The excitement of the gifts, cake, and ice cream to be had. The gathering of friends and family. Something happens to that excitement as we get older. It seems to fade and our attitude starts to be more of like, meh… another day and another year…. dare I say it, another year older. That can make some of us cringe with drudgery. Another year gone, more time that has slipped away. A time to reflect on all we didn’t do or accomplish that was at once on our to do list. But birthdays should be a day we celebrate. It is a gift from God to be given another hour, day, or year. A blessing some don’t receive.

 l have learned to be intentional with my perspective when it comes to my birthday. I try to focus on the good, and there is always GOOD in our lives. Don’t let the enemy make you think otherwise.  A few years back, I saw the life of a classmate just dwindle away due to the ravaging cancer that was destroying her body. She was a wife, a mother, a daughter and a friend to many. She made her journey with cancer public through her social media pages. She used this dark valley as a time to let her light shine for her Lord and shine she did. Though to some it may appear she lost the battle to cancer here on earth, I can’t even imagine what all she gained when she stepped into heaven and the same Jesus she testified about was awaiting her with arms wide open. It was during this time that I really understood each day is a precious gift. Each moment with loved ones is a treasure.  Each day that we wake up and get out of the bed and go on about our day doing what we want without any physical or mental limitations was a blessing indeed. She has been gone for a few years now, but the impact of how she lived still has an affect on me. I know she touched many lives. Butterflies were her thing, so when I see them now, I think of her. I think of her testimony and her love for Jesus. I want to leave a Godprint like that when I leave this world for my heavenly home. I want people to say, yep that lady loved Jesus and her life was proof of it.

Never underestimate the impact you have on people. Yes, birthdays may make you reflect back on time and cause you to regret things you have or haven’t done, but I bet all that time wasn’t wasted. If your still alive and breathing, you still have a purpose. God is not done with you. You have made people smile, showed kindness to a stranger, gave when you didn’t have much to give. They may be small acts to you, but they still ripple out to those around you. Each day we are given a tremendous opportunity. May we each strive to live fuller, love bigger, and let our lights shine even brighter. What we do matters.  We all have a purpose here for God’s kingdom. No matter the age, no matter the experience, no matter the skin color, or no matter what you may have done in past. Seek his guidance and follow his leading in your life. Be obedient to what he has put on your heart. You won’t regret it. Live a life that is pointing others to Christ. It is the only life worth living.


Keep moving forward,

Hayley W

Companion or Competition?

Friendship. One of life’s precious gifts. Those who love us despite our shortcomings and failures. They encourage us, strengthen us, and lift us up when we are down. Some are good listeners, others like to talk. Some will stand rock solid by your side, others may wonder to and fro from our life like the waves of the ocean. Each serving a purpose. I cherish those friends who are honest and who make me laugh, but one type of friend that I have come to value above all is a praying friend. There is unique bond and a great strength between friends who sincerely pray for one another.

Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another. Proverbs 27:17

I think it is important that we find our people, our tribe, our crew. I am blessed with a mixture of friendships. I have some that only lasted a season, others that have lasted for years. I have friends who I talk to daily and others that I talk to every few months. I don’t take that lightly. I have learned that friendships take effort, they take time and require grace to be shown on both sides. After all, we are in this life together and we are imperfect human beings. We are going to mess up, but we still need one another. We were created for relationships.

A group of 8 of us recently attended a Christian women’s conference. It was our first time going and we all thoroughly enjoyed it. There was close to 9,000 ladies at this event. We didn’t realize just how big it was going to be. It was a sight to see that many ladies in one massive room. All there for the same purpose: to worship God and hopefully grow closer to him throughout the convention.

As I looked around one evening during the praise and worship session, I was in awe at all the different ladies that were there. Appearances ranged from young to not so young, dressed to impress to more casual and comfy, young moms to grandmothers, those with arms decked out in fancy bracelets to those lined with colorful tattoos. Each lady representing their own unique background and story. Each had struggles and obstacles they had overcome. Some with hands raised high, while others held their palms facing up out in front of them, to those just standing still but still belting out the words of praise. There was unity in that place as we worshiped God. We had a common goal. That is how it should be, focusing on God and not each other and our differences.

We have an enemy who wants to destroy each of us. He hates us. He hates who we worship. If he can’t get in between you and your maker, you better believe he will come after your relationships. He starts to whisper lies and gets our focus off God and onto each other. We start to see our companions as competitors in this thing called life. We start to let our minds wander on the “what if” possibilities. Maybe one has a bigger home than you, or a better paying job. Or there is one with a natural glow upon her youthful skin and a gorgeous head of hair. Or maybe they have kids who seem to have it more together than your own and a husband that goes out of his way to shower her with love each day. Let’s not forget those who don’t have to watch every little thing they eat so their waist doesn’t expand, while your over here, hangry, cramming the carrot sticks in trying to convince yourself they are cheese puffs. Tell me the struggle ain’t real y’all.

What I have learned is this, when those thoughts start to creep in, put a stop to them immediately. Do not entertain them. If you do, they will start to grow and take root. Remind yourself of the truth. God loves you and he made you for a specific purpose. You cannot fill your God given role if your focus is on what everyone else is doing. Also, if you feel discontented about your current status, check your time spent on social media. I have found a huge connection with my attitude when I spend countless minutes scrolling through my news feed. Thankfully I have learned when my contentment starts to fade, it’s time to take a break from the screen. After all people only show what they want you to see. They can chose how to portray their life. The good parts. The happy parts. The filtered parts. It’s rare to get a window into the ugly and messy parts of one’s life. But the truth is, we all have them. Stepping away from any type of media has always helped me regain my thoughts were they should be.

Satan wants us to compare. It’s a distraction tool, and when we start down that path, our joy will be compromised. Comparison produces discontentment into your life. It will make you lose your joy and become miserable. You start chasing after false happiness. Seek out God’s word and let it shape your perspective. Be intentional about finding the blessings in your own life. There will be too many to count if you try to start adding them up. God is so good and he wants you to be engaged in the life he has set in front of you. Not your neighbor’s, not your friend’s, but your life. Embrace it. Love it and life it to the best of your ability.

Keep moving forward,

Hayley W

The Heart of a Mother

I just want to start off by saying that I understand that not everyone has or had a good relationship with their mother. Maybe your mother has been absent from most of your life or just here recently. I just want to offer a sincere apology for any pain you may have endured or you are currently experiencing. This post was written based on my experiences with my mom and raising my two kids.

Kind. Thoughtful. Strong. Tender. Compassionate. Sensitive. Provider. Selfless. Attentive. Leader. Protector. Loving. Forgiving. Steadfast. Nurturer. Friend. Disciplined. Fun. Tough. Flexible. Multi-taster. Dedicated. Determined. Fierce.

A mom. So much depth in one little 3 letter word. I used to tell people I was “just a mom” but then God convicted me of that because it felt like I was belittling the worth of a mother. First of all, moms deserve recognition for all they do. So with Mother’s Day approaching, I wanted to give a big ol’ shout out to all the mothers out there. It doesn’t matter if it’s your biological kids, step kids, grandchildren, or maybe your a role model and provider to the kids around you. Your pretty amazing so don’t forget it.

Where do you begin to describe what it takes to be a mom? Being a mom is one of my greatest blessings. I have loved my journey in motherhood. But let’s be honest, it is hard. Extremely hard at times. It is one of the toughest jobs I have had, but it is also one of the most rewarding. It is filled with blessings and trials, laughter and tears, moments you want to cherish forever and those you want to forget. It is raw and unfiltered, drawing attention to some of our unpleasant traits. Every once in awhile we get those little nuggets of joy and pride when we see that we did something right, and maybe we haven’t screwed up our kids as bad as we once thought. It truly is a roller coaster of intense emotions, highs and lows. The strength it takes to balance the roles that come with motherhood is immeasurable. I’m a hot mess most days and without the help of God through it all, I just can’t imagine where I would be.

To those who have small children, we see you. The weight of raising small children, keeping up with household chores, and working a part or full time job can and will just about break you some days. It’s just challenging, physically and mentally. You can go from beaming with pride when they take their first steps or learning something new, to sitting in the bathroom floor, alone, with tears flowing down your cheeks. You inwardly beg for just 5 minutes of peace. Please know God sees your tears. He sees your overwhelmed heart. Give it to him and let him help you with raising your children. He loves you and he chose you to be their mom. I know you hear it time and time again, it’s just a season and it will pass. It may not seem like it now as you are dragging your feet across the sticky floor to pick up the 100th toy of the day, but one day you will miss it. Cherish every moment. The good and the bad. The time will come in the blink of an eye and you will look around you, and your babes will be mini adults and instead of toys, you will be picking at dirty clothes sprawled out on the floor. Time slows down for no one. We spend so much time wishing for the day to pass, and for them to get a little more independent. Then one day, you start to realize they do and you find yourself in a different season and the words “Mom, I need you” become a lot less spoken.

Ready or not, I am in that season and to be honest, some days the tears can leak out when I let my mind wander to the early years. I think how did we get here so fast? It was just yesterday that I was rocking them to sleep . My heart can shift from being excited of seeing what God has in store for them as they are entering adulthood, to a feeling of loneliness when they start to spread their wings and take flight. Even though there are parts that are hard in this phase we are in, there is also a lot of good times with my kids that brings joy to my heart.

Have you ever really thought of your position as a mom? You bring them into the world, you nurture and love them to the moon and back. You guide, counsel and teach them. You protect them as much as you can. You pour every ounce of energy into them so they can have healthy and happy lives. You sacrifice daily and put their needs before your own. Your mission and focus is to raise Christ followers, hard working, compassionate, honest, and kind people in this world. We give so much to this goal and then when it starts to become a reality, it can knock you back on your butt. When they no longer need you, and can start taking care of themselves and their responsibilities, your heart is happy, but also sad. We held on so tightly for all those years, only to come to a point where we now have to release our grips, one finger at a time and pray we did enough. When they hit the teenage years, schedules become busier, so you try to keep the communication lines open. I love time spent with my kiddos and just talking about their day. When you get to engage in conversation at this age, it’s like a booster shot for your heart. I have found that you have to be careful to not ask too many questions, because if your kids are like mine ,the walls come up. As they get older, they feel a need to defend their space and privacy. I was the same way, I get it. If they only knew, it’s in those sweet moments that our time together becomes a glue to keep my heart from shattering, as we too are trying to adapt to the role we now play. We have to learn to evolve in our relationship with our children as the are becoming young adults. When to speak up, when to stay quiet. When to offer guidance, and when to let the consequences come. Lysa Terkeurst said years ago, “Let the consequences scream, so you don’t have too.” It left an impression with me and I have applied it several times when I found myself in certain situations. No matter how old our kids may be, we will always worry about them. We will always love them and do our best to be there for them. It is good to remind yourself that the same God who gave you these kids, also gave his life on the cross for them. As much as we love them, he loves them so much more.

As I reflect on how I have struggled with my emotions in this new season, it brings to mind my relationship with God. His heart must hurt when I don’t spend time with him. How he must sat there shaking his head when I am determined to do something in my own way instead of waiting on him. He knows it won’t end well, but he loves me enough to let me go my own way in hopes that lessons will be learned. Though I have failed him so many times, he remains steadfast in his love for me. It is God’s love for me, that models how to turn around and love my children. Constant. Unwavering. Boldly. Fiercely. Unconditionally.

I pray you know how much you are loved and appreciated. May you be reminded of that this Mother’s Day weekend. Whatever season of motherhood you are in, cherish it.

Happy Mother’s Day,

Hayley W

He Did It Anyway

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.  John 3:16

He knew he would be rejected. He knew he would have enemies. He knew he would be mocked. He knew he would be beaten and crucified, but he did anyway. Jesus died my death on the cross. He died your death on the cross. No one is excluded from the greatest sacrifice ever given. His blood was shed for ALL. He didn’t deserve it, but he did it anyway. He knew the pain and suffering that would come, but he did it anyway. I have turned my back on him at times, but he did it anyway. I have gotten angry at him, but he did it anyway. I have mocked him, but he did it anyway. I have not been faithful to him, but he did it anyway. I have failed him countless times, but yet he did it anyway. My mind has trouble comprehending a love so great and deep. As I think about this Easter, God’s love and faithfulness just leave me with few words that can explain how I feel. I am not worthy of a love such as his, but yet it is still offered to me. He had a choice, and he chose to do it anyway. To give us all a chance of redemption and eternal life with him.

We all have a longing to be a part of something or some group. We work hard to fit in and be accepted. Sometimes we even change who we are just to be accepted to a certain crowd. While those people may be holding their arms out to keep you away, Jesus is standing with arms wide open to bring you into his family. If you want to belong, belong to Jesus. He created you. He chose you just as you are. He loves you so much that he paid the price for your sins on that cross.

Talk to him in prayer. It don’t have to be complicated. You don’t have to utter specific words, just speak from the heart. He will guide you, forgive you, and give you peace like no other. I pray that as Easter is approaching, that you will find God in your heart. I pray you can truly celebrate our risen Savior and what he did for you. It is easy for us to forget, but may we remember the depths he went to for you and me. Our lives were never meant to be our own.They were paid for by the blood of Jesus. We are to share the gospel and let his light shine through us. Live in a way that others see Jesus in us. Not just in words, but in actions too. It is up to you on what you do with the greatest gift ever given.

You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:13

Keep moving forward,
Hayley W