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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

Gardening for the Soul

It’s that time of year again when the hope of warmer weather is right around the corner. We get glimpses of it from time to time and it only ignites within me the desire to get out and do some planting. I love gardening, whether it’s vegetables or flowers, either way it puts a smile on my face. Every year when spring is within reach, I can get a little too excited on starting my seeds for the season. It usually doesn’t end well for the seedlings or my excitement. Most don’t survive due to certain elements or the fact that colder temperatures are still lingering. I know this can happen, but yet I still cannot contain my eagerness. So every year, I do the same thing ,but yet I anticipate different results. Unfortunately, the outcome remains the same. Little survival with my seeds, and only a few plants will make it to be transplanted into the garden. The excitement I once held, turns to disappointment. Maybe this will be the year I will have some patience. So far, I have managed to be disciplined and reel in the anticipation of getting started too early.

Gardening is therapeutic for me. I love the process of planting a tiny little seed and watching it emerge from the soil. God’s creation amazes me. That little seed doesn’t have to be told what to do, it just does what it was created to do, and by fulfilling its purpose, it can reap a bountiful harvest of color and food. I thoroughly enjoy walking through my garden during its peak. The smells and the colors leave me in a place of wonder and of peace. The butterflies and bees go from flower to flower collecting pollen and nectar. All things pointing to the creator. I can’t help but think if God can orchestrate all that, then why do I let myself be overcome with doubt and fear about the circumstances in my own life.

Consider the lilies, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.  But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! Luke 12:27-28

I find a lot of parallels when it comes to gardening and taking care of my soul. They both require time and attention. Seeds cannot be sown too early or they are in danger of not surviving. When we put our plans and desires before what God would have for us to do, chances are it will not have a successful ending.

The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps. Proverbs 16:9

 Plants need light, water, food and protection each day. My soul needs the same thing to flourish.

 I need the one who is the light. 

Again Jesus spoke to them saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life. “ John 8:12

 I need the one who can quench my thirst. 

Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give will never be thirsty again. John 4:13-14

He died my death on the cross so that I could live, and he gave us his word, the Holy Bible, to keep us fed and on the right path. 

I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I give for the life of the world is my flesh. John 6:51

He offers me guidance and protection. 

The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. Psalm 18:2

With a garden, you need to tend and nurture it daily. If you skip a few days, you more than likely will go out and find an abundance of weeds. The same thing pertains to our relationship with God. I must seek him daily or my soul will become weak. Every day I don’t spend time with him, I allow weeds the space to grow in my own heart. Before I know it, they will have taken root and the longer they reside there, the deeper their roots run making it harder to remove. I find myself needing to root out things like doubt, anger, jealousy, worry and comparison to name a few. If we want to harvest the fruits of the spirit, we must tend to our soul and keep close to our heavenly Father. He will provide us with what we need to live and to flourish. Seek him daily. Read his word. Spend time in prayer. Be intentional in growing your relationship with Christ.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Galatians 5:22-23

 These habits can help your soul become fertile ground for which spiritual fruits can grow. If we are harvesting the right fruits, people will see Jesus in us. Take a honest look at your heart, and remove those pesky weeds so you can make more room for the good fruits!

Keep moving forward,

Hayley W

The Words We Speak

Gracious words are like honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body. Proverbs 16:24

Growing up, I recall the saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never harm me.” This was often quoted when kids would say mean things to each other as a way to show that their harsh words have no effect.

Boy, that couldn’t be farther from the truth. The older I get, the more I have learned that our words hold great power behind them. Our words can either be a fountain or a drain. We can use them to build up or tear down. They have a way of wedging themselves in a nook of our heart, as a constant reminder of good or bad. It seems like the bad always take root more deeply than the good. We can often recall a conversation that was said to us and replay it over and over, and before long it will have us convinced that it is the truth. Do we realize the influence of our spoken words? It is said that the tongue is the hardest muscle to control and I believe it. When our emotions get high, and tempers get ignited, it is easy to spew out daggers towards others. Once spoken, there is no taking it back. It is like my mom use to say, “Words are like toothpaste, once they come out, you can’t get them back in.” Yes, we can apologize, but it doesn’t erase what has been said. And in a world of social media and texting, once you type those words and hit send, they are out there forever. There is no delete button. Sure you can delete it from your side, but you have no control of how far it will reach on the receiving end.

We were having a good night at home one evening when all it took was a few ill spoken words to totally turn everyone’s mood upside down. When we are tired, hungry (hangry as some call it), don’t feel good, or have just had a bad day, we are more likely to let negativity roll right out of our mouths without a second thought to the consequences. That evening when everyone’s attitude had turned sour, we all just separated. The next morning, the dark cloud from the previous night was still lingering. I thought to myself, today is a new day, a clean slate, so make it a good one. Don’t let yesterday’s troubles creep into today. It made me think about how much impact our words have and the effects that ripple out. How just one or two negative words can put a damper on a whole day and affect all those around. There is no expiration date on the hurt caused by the careless words that we speak.

I think it is safe to say we have all been careless with our speech. Honestly, it is a daily struggle for me. Whether it is to others or ourselves. I have had to apologize multiple times to those around me for things I have said. But what about those I say to myself? That is where it hits the hardest. I can really be mean to the one staring back at me in the mirror.

“I am a failure.”

“I am stupid.”

“I can’t do anything right.”

“I am a bad mom.”

“I am ugly.”

Truth is, several years ago, mentally I was in a bad place. I did not like who I was and I made it clear. God spoke to my heart and made me realize when I say those words to myself, I am also saying them to him. He created me. He created you. We are his workmanship. He gave his life, so that we may live. By digging into God’s word and spending time in prayer, I started to see myself through my creator’s eyes. Yes, I am flawed and imperfect ,but I am also wonderfully and fearfully made. I was made for a purpose and so are you.

Because of Christ, we are loved. We are enough. We are forgiven.

May we each do a better job of choosing our words wisely. Using them to build up and encourage one another. Just because we think it does not mean we should speak it. Just because we disagree with it, does not mean we have to respond to it. There are times when we will have a more positive impact if we just remain silent. Let’s not forget that this doesn’t just apply to the people around you, more importantly, speak positive and uplifting thoughts to yourself. If you speak unkind words to yourself, you will start to believe that is who you are and it will eventually come out in your actions. If you speak words of grace and truth to yourself, it will give you strength to move forward and have a more positive impact. You will be free to live out the life God would have you to. To serve others in your circle and your community. To let your light shine, so those around you will see Jesus.

Keep moving forward,

Hayley W

Easily Forgotten

Forget-me-not flower

I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your wonders of old. I will ponder all your work, and meditate on your mighty deeds. Psalm 77:11-12

Recently in our Sunday School class, we were given five minutes to write down all the things God has given us. The teacher could have given us five hours, but it still wouldn’t have been enough time to list all our blessings. Everyone’s list had a wide range from their homes, family, health, freedom, peace, salvation, joy, forgiveness, jobs, and eternal life. As the teacher pointed out some items were earthly gifts, others would transcend into our eternal life. It was a good way to start the Sunday morning off by being intentional about giving God the praise and thanks for all he has done. It was a lesson we should be in a habit of practicing each day, especially on those days where life has us feeling defeated.

It made me ponder on the thought of why do we so easily forget the good our Heavenly Father has done for us. I’ll be the first to say, I get spiritual amnesia way to often. Every day, God is working in our lives, whether it is on center stage or behind the scenes. Every day he brings gifts into our life. Even on the worst days, we can have a heart of gratitude because God is still a good father. But for some reason, all the blessings just fade from my mind when trouble comes knocking. The good gets pushed to the back, while the bad is now front and center of my focus. Some of the reasons I came up with as far as why I get spiritual amnesia are:

  • I am human, my flesh is imperfect
  • I do not make God a priority
  • I have an enemy who wants to consume my thoughts
  • Easily distracted
  • Busy schedules

I dare say, we have all been in a position where we have felt forgotten. I don’t think anyone enjoys being overlooked or ignored. I just went through a season where I had to fight off these type of emotions. Satan would love for us to feel “not good enough”. It was important that I sought out the truth of the situation and reeled my emotions in. Just because I felt that way does not make it necessarily the truth. Our emotions can deceive us at times. Ask God to help you see the truth. That is a lesson that is hard to grasp, but once you understand this, it helps you process your emotions in a healthy way. People may forget about us, but our creator never will. But what about God? The one who created us, who loves us and knows the number of hairs on our head. The one who knows our birth and death date and all the in between. How much more does it grieve him when we forget what all he has done for us? How his heart must hurt when he is there with his hand held out, only for us to retrieve ours. How about in those quiet moments when he sits patiently with us, only to be ignored and not spoken to.

May we strive to spend time each day thanking God for the gifts we have. Let’s try to be intentional about going beyond the things you can touch (material things), but think about our senses and the objects we can see, taste, hear, smell and feel (referring more to emotions). Recall not only the big blessings, but the small ones too. Focus on the eternal gifts. Take time to write them down in a notebook. Keep a prayer journal and go back from time to time and read your prayers and remember the things he has done. Not only is he worthy of our thoughts, but you will find it beneficial as well for your mind, perspective, and attitude.

Feel free on sharing ways that you have found helpful on remembering God’s goodness in your own life.

Keep moving forward,

Hayley W

Why Do We Run?

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2.

Before you get to excited, I’m afraid this post may mislead some of you. It’s not about the physical act of running. I apologize to those whose interest were peaked, but I am not a runner. I did run one 5K several years ago, but that was it. The rest of the 5ks were a combination of walking, light jogging, and laughter with friends. To those of you who are dedicated runners, I applaud you. I have always admired those I see running in parks or on sidewalks showing such will power. I wish I had that desire or even discipline to proceed in getting my cardio in a few times a week by running. The fact that I feel like a baby elephant galloping at the speed of a tortoise just doesn’t give me the motivation I need.

What I really want to discuss is the action of turning away or going in the opposite direction from something or someone. I am referring to the habit of running from God and the call he has placed on your heart. Surely I cannot be alone in this. Maybe it’s starts off as a walk, and then a trot, occasionally glancing back, and then it turns into steady jog, with eyes focused only on the direction you are heading. I probably sound like a broken record because oftentimes this is brought up in my posts. Apparently, I am pretty good at it so I guess in one sense, yes I am a runner, just not in the physical sense. I do it often, especially with my call to write. God has put writing on my heart and looking back many years ago is when then first domino fell, and then another, and so on. Opportunities and moments that popped up here and there where I was given a chance to express my thoughts using my words. The thing is, as much as I enjoy it, I also have a tendency to avoid it at all cost. Why do I give God such push back? There are many reasons I could give, but they are all just excuses. Not one would stand in merit. I can come up with any outlandish or silly justification to not sit down and and give it the time writing requires and needs. I also have learned that when God puts a topic on my heart, he wants me to write it down then. Not later. When later comes, the thought has passed and unfortunately it may not come again. Obedience is what he requires and it is an area I am still lacking in. Focus….yet another skill I need to hone in on. Let’s not forget discipline. I also am aware that I have an enemy who loves to entertain me with an abundance of shiny, pretty distractions, anything to get me not to pick up that pen or my laptop. Too often, I fall for his plight.

Just like with any physical exercise, the more you practice it, the better you become at it and the stronger your skill set will be. The same is with the gifts that he gives us. We must use our gifts to help strengthen them and grow our faith. They will be useless tucked away, unnoticed. By shying away from them, you have no idea how you are robbing yourself and others from a blessing. Most importantly God cannot get glory if we leave our gifts on a shelf, unopened and unused. They will just sit there collecting dust. If we don’t follow his leading, he will use others who will. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to intentionally let God down. Now don’t get me wrong, I fail him daily being stuck in this sinful flesh, but I never want to purposely defy God. I shudder at that thought today, even though looking at my past, there was a period where I did just that. All I can say is thank God for forgiveness and second chances, and in some cases multiple chances.

Can I encourage you to step out in what God is calling you to do? What has he purposed on your heart that has you rocking back and forth in an imaginary chair in your comfy zone. You want to stand up in faith, but yet trying to release your grip on the chair just seems impossible. Maybe even overwhelming. The chair may represent your security or your safe haven. You may even be thinking, why would I let go of my security to step out into unknown territory which is a place where you see nothing but fear, doubt, and questions. I believe God has so much more for us to live and experience in this life, but we miss out on most of it. Instead of running from his calling, I pray you embrace it. May he give you the faith you need to take the next step. May he replace your fears with the assurance that he has called you to do this and will be with you every step of the way. Put on the full armor of God, and do not be surprised when the enemy flings arrows your way. Satan doesn’t want you to be obedient, but he wants you stuck in your fears, never getting up off that seat. He likes it when we become complacent. He is a liar too, so don’t listen to the discouragement he will send your way.

If your gonna run, run to God. I promise you he will be there with arms spread wide. Acknowledge the purpose he has placed inside of you, pray about it, then go after it! You are more than enough, because of who you belong to, to achieve great things for his kingdom.

In all we do, to God be the Glory.

Keep moving forward,

Hayley W

Are You Willing to Surrender?

Last year I started picking a word to focus on for the year. In 2021, it was perseverance. I mean after 2020, I felt it was definitely appropriate. This year I had been leaning toward grace, but the Lord has impressed on my heart multiple times to change it to surrender. Ouch. I am not going to lie, I have been wrestling with that one.

Surrender – to yield (something) to the position or power of another; to give up, abandon, or relinquish.

When I felt that word being impressed on my heart, it honestly made me feel anxious, I bristled up and my muscles got tense. We may tend to think of surrendering as a sign of weakness or giving up, even coward-like. When we surrender, we give up control. Now most people I know are happiest when we feel like we are in control of what is going on around us. I have had a white knuckle grip on a certain issue for a few months now. Releasing it, and yielding it to my heavenly father would be such a burden off of me. But yet, I can’t seem to loosen my grasp on these certain thoughts. They are always there like a dark cloud on a sunny day. When all is going well, they move in and overshadow me causing fear to creep in and my joy disappears.

A few weeks back there was one afternoon, where I let one incident totally turn my mood upside down. I know I should have not let it get me upset, but I did. It lit my fuse fairly quick, and I probably sparked off some words I shouldn’t have. I was already elbow deep in dirty dishes in the kitchen sink. It had been a long day, and I had just finished cooking supper. I was exhausted and my body yearned to plop down on the couch and be done with the day. My poor, older dog had an accident in the house, again, and this time it would require the carpet cleaner. Another chore added to my list. Sigh. This evening was demanding more energy than my attitude and body had to give. As I stared at the mound of dishes calling my name, I thought I need to put some ear buds in and crank up some christian tunes to lighten my mood. Christian music is a big help in redirecting my thoughts and it didn’t disappoint that evening. As I was washing the dishes, I kept pondering on the word surrender and examined areas of my life that it may be pertaining to. The lyrics to the songs that were playing just happen to hit some key points that I had been struggling with. Deep down, I already knew one issue that needed surrendered to God. I had been carrying it around for months. It is ridiculous how long I will carry around burdens that are not mine to carry. It always starts with fear. Fear of a loss of something or someone. Sometimes these fears are based on actual life circumstances, but often times in my life they are scenarios I have created in my mind. You know what I mean, those “what if” situations we tend to allow our thoughts linger on. The problem is if we let our thoughts linger too long, they will park and take up residence there. Pretty soon we convince ourselves that it is our future reality. We then shift our focus off the present and onto the future, a little too much. We need to learn to enjoy our days, live in the present, and trust God with the future. Not always easy, but doable with his help. Have you ever wondered how much better we would be if we took all those countless hours of worry and traded them for praise and worship of the one who does know what the future holds?

Whatever you are holding onto, can I ask you to join me in surrendering it over to God? It is not going to be easy, but there is great freedom that comes with it. It may even take baby steps. It may take days, weeks, or even months. Pray about it, examine your life and loosen the grip on the weight that is bearing down on you. Surrender it all to Him. He loves you. He loves me. He will walk with us whether it’s on the mountain top, or down in the dark valleys. He will not leave us. I found with myself that every time my mind went down that path, I would stop and say, ” I trust God with my future”. Each time, it has gotten easier, but don’t get me wrong, I still have a few fingers hanging on. Baby steps.

Behold,God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the Lord God is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation.  Isaiah 12:2

As I was listening to songs that night, so many were exactly the words I needed to hear. It’s time I get my words and actions on the same page. No matter what may come, God will be with me. God can use us no matter what trials we face. When the weight of this world breaks us down, if we allow him to work through us, his power and glory will shine through the cracks. He will give strength to the weary. I say I want to live my life for him, but am I really? When trials come, and they will, will I turn to him for help? My life is not my own, it was given to me by God and I should do the best I can to live a life that reflects his love, grace, forgiveness, and goodness. That is no simple task being stuck in this sinful flesh. It is a daily struggle. All I know is no matter what may come, I have a God who loves me, has promised to never leave me, and who has always been faithful despite my many shortcomings. It’s time to turn my worry into worship and surrender my concerns to him. I was reading a post that an acquaintance, Laura Jane Anslow, had wrote and it really touched my heart. She said, “Surrender to God is not giving up. It is the foundation for your greatest strength”.

I wanted to share some of the songs they came on that night. Each had a different meaning that encouraged me in one way or the other.

  • “Control” by Tenth Avenue North
  • “Broken Things” by Matthew West
  • “My Victory” by Crowder
  • “Giants Fall” by Francesca Battistelli
  • “I Am” by Crowder
  • “Come What May” by We Are Messengers

I pray God will help you loosen the grip on whatever it may be that is holding you back from enjoying this blessed life we have been given and surrender it over to him. I ask you pray for me as well. We are all in this life together to help and encourage one another.

Keep moving forward,

Hayley W

May Your Greatest Present this Christmas Be His Presence

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6

Ahhhh……the Christmas season. There is something about Christmas that just warms my heart. The lights and decorations, the Christmas carols, the spirit of giving and kindness that seems to heighten during this season are just some of the reasons why I love this time of year. But then there is the stress of the busier than normal schedules, the extra strain on finances, remembering to get all the gifts and recall where in the world I hid them. If I am not careful, I also start to let my mind wonder why my holiday doesn’t seem as grand with all the festive decorations and extra sparkle like others. I begin to ponder on why can’t my house look as beautifully decorated as those posted on my social media feed. Let’s not forget all the family pictures in matching pajamas either. I mean why is my family so unwilling to do the matching holiday pajamas so we can snap that perfect moment on Christmas morning? In all honesty, I didn’t ask my family to do that, but I bet there are some of you out there that did and received a reluctant “No” answer. The only matching outfits my family has ever agreed to wear in pictures was Realtree Camouflage. True story! If we are careless on where our eyes and mind wander, we will spend too much time focusing on the wrong “who”, and we will find our Christmas cheer has been replaced with envy and discontentment. Those are real Christmas crushers. There are many blessings during this season, but there will also be an abundance of distractions that will cause us to lose that holiday joy quickly if we are not careful.

Our focus should be on the one reason we celebrate Christmas and that is Jesus’s birth. He could have been born anywhere, but chose a manger. That speaks volumes to me. He chose a simple, lowly place to be brought into this world, when he could have chosen the fanciest palace back then. His earthly parents, Joseph and Mary, were just common folk. No deep pockets, or well known last names. Some of the first told about his birth by the angels were those tending sheep. Not a job people were lined up to get. They weren’t looked upon highly. They spent most of their time in fields, dirty and unclean, watching their flocks as shepherds do. The way Jesus came helps us to realize that social status isn’t important to him. He doesn’t care what you wear, how big your bank account is, or what your last name is. He looks at the heart of each individual. He came not for a certain group of people, but for ALL. No one was left out. If Jesus would have chosen not to come, we would have no reason to celebrate this season. We would have no hope, no joy, no peace, and no chance of a home in heaven. There would be no Christmas. Thank goodness He did choose to come!

There is no gift that can be found under the Christmas tree that compares to that of what Jesus offers you when you believe in him. Salvation is the best gift you will ever receive. It doesn’t ever expire, it is everlasting. The joy and peace that come from being a child of God are incomparable to any thing this world has to offer. They are much needed in this troubled world we live in today. Despite the bad news across the globe that seems to be rampant, because of God’s gift, one can confidently say, “It is well with my soul”. When you believe in God and what His word says, repent of your sins, and ask him to forgive you and come into your heart, some gifts you will receive are eternal life spent in Heaven, redemption, hope, joy, love, forgiveness, and freedom. This is just to name a few, and it is a list that will continue to increase as your relationship grows in Christ. Now just like a gift under the tree, you must use it, give it attention, and take care of it, if you want to get the most out of it. Your relationship with God needs to be nurtured and tended to. You must be intentional and give him the time He deserves. He is worthy and I have learned again and again, that He is faithful even when we are not.

As much as I love Christmas, I am aware that it has been another hard year on many. You may find your heart filled with sadness and grief this season. Maybe there will be one loved one or more missing from your gathering this year. Even though the joy and excitement seem to be lacking, I pray you find comfort in Jesus this Christmas. I pray that despite the pain and heartache, He will allow moments of joy to fill your heart. Perhaps, it is through a memory, or being surrounding by loved ones, or just focusing on His love for you this season. The depths of his love cannot be measured, but it can be felt if we take the time to acknowledge Him for who he is. Wonderful. Counselor. The Mighty God. The Everlasting Father. The Prince of Peace. If you have not been affected by a loss this year, I pray you enjoy the blessings and people you are surrounded by and not take them for granted. One reality that has been magnified the past 2 years is life is short and can change in a moment. May we each be like the innkeeper and make room for Jesus this Christmas. May we open our hearts and minds, and let His presence fill us up this holiday season. I pray you have a very Merry Christmas!

Keep moving forward,

Hayley W