Saying Goodbye to My Blog

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This is a blog-post I never expected to write, but here I am, typing away, wondering what you are thinking.  I know that your world doesn’t, nor should it, revolve around my weekly blog-posts.  But, from your comments, questions, and encouragement, I have been blessed to know that this blog has meant something to others.  It hurts to let it go, but it’s that season in my life.

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I began this blog to discover what it was God was calling me to and along the way I realized I really wanted to help you discover what God was calling you to.  I tried to release a new post twice or at least once a week, and with some necessary breaks, I accomplished that.   I wanted to use this blog to connect with you, figure out how I could best serve you, and the funny thing is, now that I know, I have to let go of one of this, my main tool in discovering that.

Last fall, I took a gigantic leap of faith and went to the Platform Conference.

(You can read more about my journey here: https://jacquelinevroe.wordpress.com/2013/11/06/im-done-arguing-with-god/)

I was terrified, but it was a wonderful, stretching experience because I could hear God asking me, “Do you take what I have called you to do seriously? Or are you just playing?” I was surrounded by entrepreneurs, many outrageously successful from my vantage point, but we were all apart of the same mission, reaching the right people with the message we were burdened with… only, by the end of the conference, it no longer felt like a burden.  I will never forget how Michele Cushatt sent us off or how many times since she has let me know, as I trust she does all her followers, that she believes in me.  God used her and several others to help me recognize that whether I reach one or millions, I am simply to be obedient and professionally step forward, honestly sharing my hope for each leader and disciple-maker I help equip.

I want to say EVERYTHING HAS CHANGED for me since this realization, but that is overstating things.  Even though I am the queen of drama, I want to be honest with you.  The essentials are the same:  My name is the same, I am still a sinner saved by an extraordinary God, married to a flawed and awesome husband who is still a pastor in a small town with three imperfectly perfect precocious children.  I am still mourning the loss of my mother, who passed away only nine months ago (can it be that long since she and I talked? hugged?) I am still writing scripts that I fear I can never act…

But this has changed; together, with my husband leading me, I have realized how to use my silly and strange gifts to recognize opportunities, to embrace them and beg God to use me to be a blessing daily.  I am now scheduling a tour, taking on coaching clients, teaching at a coffee-shop once a month, starting a scrap-booking/crafting group to make room for celebrating life.  My husband has busily worked to finish getting certified as a Biblical Counselor, Church Consultant, and his coaching clientele is growing as well.  Out of the overflow of the ministry God has called us to in our small town, God is doing something bigger with our family and through our family.  I am nearly bursting, waiting to see what is next and how He will incorporate all we have to reach out, possibly outside the borders of our nation, to empower other disciple-makers.

Tuesday morning I sat down and began writing and writing and writing.  Each post was a little over 500 words, which you respond best to.  Each post was based on insight from my life that I pray will be useful in yours.  But I won’t be posting any of them here.  Instead, the posts will continue to be edited and refined until we launch our website at Relentless Ambition.  We will have a separate page connecting with women through our branch Veritas Women’s Ministry, recognizing the unique language, interests of women.  I cannot wait to one day post a link to books we will one day publish!

So, I am jumping up and down with excitement, but I am trembling with fear.  What if you don’t follow me to what I perceive as the next level?  What if I lose you along the way?  I fear shutting this blog down, but I mustn’t try to straddle these commitments. I know I must not live in the land of “what-ifs,” God has called me to a hope that does not disappoint.  It does not mean worldly success, but if I am obedient, then I will grow more like Him.  I pray that if you follow my example, you will, too.

So, when I post our new link, the last blog post I will post here, will you follow?  Will you trust that God is going to use us to equip you to be the disciple-maker He longs for you to be?

Please comment and let me know if you are praying for us on this journey!  We will be praying for you on yours!

For further meditation:

Isaiah 43

Last night my middle daughter sat in my lap and I sang to her a song out of Isaiah 43.  She said she missed being little and having me comfort her with this song after nightmares.  Reading the rest of the chapter reminds me that I am a lot like Israel was, prone to wander and make false gods to worship.  But I have been saved from my sinful, aimless ways to walk straight, to praise and worship our holy and righteous God.  He has saved us and wants to do something new in our lives – what is He doing in yours?

Though I am not affiliated with Michael Hyatt http://michaelhyatt.com/ or Michele Cushatt http://michelecushatt.com/ in any way, I encourage you to check out their resources.  God has used them to encourage many leaders and teach the necessity of generosity.  I have certainly continued to be blessed by their insight and examples.  If you feel the Platform Conference might be useful, here is the link to discover more:

http://www.platformconference.tv/

What are you going to do with yourself?

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CONFESSION: I have neglected this blog, my novel, my coaching, and I did it with purpose.  All summer, I had to make space in my life for trying to stay in sync with my husband though we were divided by distance.  I was sorting through the loss of my mother, learning new lessons of hope, enjoying and teaching my children.  I knew I had to discover how all the pieces of my life fit together before I could reach outside my home in a new way to draw others to Christ.  I opened my tightly clenched fist and let several of my goals float away — blog stats dropped, progress on my sequel stalled, writing a Bible study challenge was put on hold, coaching calls had to wait, social media continued without me.  I couldn’t do it all, I had to refocus on the foundation before I could build.

But now, with school beginning, I am blinking rapidly, trying to understand what an empty house will feel like for a few hours each day with my youngest at pre-school in the mornings.  With schedule in hand, I am trying to discover what God would have me do to empower you.  How do I reach you, share with you the wonder of the calling He has placed on your life?  How do I encourage you, fervently urge you to look at the opportunity of the moment and allow the Holy Spirit to move through you and your family to make disciples?

Here, in the well of my heart, I began looking.  Drawing deep each day, I traced out my comings and goings in my journal and prayed for God to shine His light.  A pattern emerged as I journaled, I began to see new hope springing forth… how to use the gifts and talents I have to help you recognize how to use yours.  But I have failed before, and I am fearful I will fail again.

Have you had this fear about a new chapter in your life?  Have you sensed you are being called to something bigger than you, but you tremor with self-doubt?  I’m there if I let myself be, but I know God has better things, harder things, scarier things for me to walk through than to stay trembling in the boat wrestling with this fear.

So, I’m stepping out and I pray that this time I will keep my eyes on Christ, not let myself be distracted by what waves will try to sink me.  There is a Savior holding open His hand and though I may fail in the eyes of the world (I might receive a rejection from a publisher, my life-coaching clients might not grow, my calendar might not fill up with bookings for my drama events) He is using each hard thing in my life to shape me and mold me so that I might more clearly reflect Him.  Only then will I be useful for Him to help you grow.

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What good work do you feel God has placed in your heart and called you to do?  What will happen if you don’t take the next step? 

For further meditation:

Matthew 14:22-36; Ephesians 1:15-23 

When my selfishness pushed my mother over the edge… and ideas on how to make a family a team

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Remembering hurts.  It hurts in a place that doesn’t have words, only muffled sounds of deep regret.

I look back and see her with different eyes.  I was her teenage daughter, self-consumed, reacting in fear and frustration.  She was a mother of two grown women and two teenage girls, but now one of her adult daughters had become an infant again through a near-fatal drowning.  What was that like for her, to have her motherhood go from one of releasing to coddling and protecting once more?

My mommie’s voice was seldom shrill.  When it was, we had pushed her too far, and that day, I was the one to push her over the edge.  I don’t remember the chore, I can still feel the shrug climbing up my shoulders as the mask of apathy freezes my features in defiance.  It wasn’t my task, no one had asked me to do it.  So I shrugged and gave my excuse for why I hadn’t helped out.

My mother, this godly woman, crumbled before my eyes, “I don’t know what we did or said wrong, but you act like just because we didn’t tell you to do something, you don’t have to.  You are a part of this family, please act like it.”  Her suffering was apparent.

I have thought over and over about what she said to me.  Family meant team to her, but I was looking at it as a group of individuals enjoying the provision and protection of the head unit, my parents.  I figured because I obeyed my parents, following what they said they wanted from me, I was good.  I wasn’t interested in doing extra unless I enjoyed the task.  Cooking for the family from new recipes, sure!  Dusting and vacuuming?  No, thank you.  I was busy trying to get my life where I wanted it to be, and that did not include being stuck inside all day helping my mother with chores that were hers because she was the mom.

But now I’m the mom, and I want to raise children who view this house as their home.  I want them to recognize as it as a place to practice hospitality, as a place to grow kindness, to nurture patience.  I want them to know the cost of living in a family that functions together so that when they move forward beyond the borders of our abode, they will understand time-management, they will understand the benefits of teamwork, they will recognize companions that will urge them on to do great things in God’s name.

My mother taught me a great deal when she broke down and honestly revealed what my selfish attitude was costing our family.  I don’t think she recognized the cost until our family was running on fumes from time-consuming trips back and forth to hospitals and rehabilitation centers.  Like most kids, my sisters and I had often taken my mother for granted.  She was a homemaker in the truest sense of the word, but it took a crisis to help me realize I had picked up from her only the skills that I wanted to learn, not the essence of truly making a house a home.  I don’t know if I ever got my act together while I was still in high school, but I did make a start, and now my husband and I are working with the diligent aim of creating strong children who can take care of themselves, but work as vital members of a team.

Recently, I posted some fun ideas on FaceBook about delegating chores and such.  The response I received was overwhelming.  I have created pins to be shared across social media that may inspire some ideas on how to help family’s work together so that the hard work of keeping a home running smoothly is shared.  One of the best things my oldest daughter told me shows we might be on the right track.  “I’m glad I can help.  I’m proud that we can do this together.”

I miss my mommie.  I know she would have been thrilled to know that we are working on this as a team.

For further meditation:

Romans 12:9-13

Here are things to consider and modify, not things to be overwhelmed by!  Use and them if they work, toss them if they don’t!  Also, remember that this addresses the outer appearance of the home, what we see with our eyes.  More about the inner home later 🙂

Let me know, what does work for you?  What is your most helpful homemaking tip?

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I will laugh at the future

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They are stepping forward, beyond me
Am I falling behind?
Nothing is as it was
Or ever will be again
And there is no stopping
Only going, going, going
Motion will continue as their legs keep getting longer
Am I falling behind?
And they are calling me to run with them
To dance with them
To play with them
And I must balance here
I must turn my eyes away from their speed
Into Your everlasting gaze
One day they will outgrow my home
(Though never my love)
They will move beyond my shade and to race beneath the sky You have made
And there they will feel Your grace
They will need Your forgiveness
They will choose their paths
They will
They will
I will not fear this future
It runs towards me without stopping
I will not fear this certainty
I was made to worship in this way
For a moment I have them
But they are Yours
I pray they walk in Your light
Choose Your ways step forward to do Your will
But I cannot choose for them
I can only guide, suggest, pray, and teach
Show them Your ways, help them choose to follow You!

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How do you feel about the future?  How do you want to respond to it?

For further meditation:

1 Samuel 1-2:11, 18-21, Proverbs 31.

God’s glory in the gross

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He follows me around the kitchen, the book tucked up into his armpit and emphatically begs me to read to him.  Together, we check his chart, he has done everything to get ready for bed and I feel elated that our new system is working.  I am making time to read as a family and the house isn’t falling apart.  My anal nature allows my free spirit to revel as I snuggle on the couch with my little man.

As I open the book, my throat instantly chokes.  She bought this book, she bought this book for him.  My mother is gone, she has been for eight months and lately, all the treasured moments, all the frantic questions, all the fearful wonderings  have been weighting my thoughts.  My eyes blur and I struggle to maintain my calm so I can enjoy the moment with this little one who will not be little for much longer.  I want to call her so badly, to tell her of praises to the prayers she prayed for me.  The fact that I am sitting at the end of the day, making my child feel wanted and delightful is evidence of her prayers.  She worried so over my compulsive nature, my erratic perfectionism to be all and do all.  

I have to concentrate, I have to read these words.  She picked out this book for him, a book I never would have chosen myself.

The glossy, board pages open and together we use our fingertips to trace, “The Trail of Sam the Snail.” I always thought snails were gross, the equivalent of slugs that as a child I loved to pour salt over.  I hated their nasty, snotty paths.  I crushed them happily as Mom would dig the depleted soil in our suburban garden.  Pale, sandy dirt that supported trees, but barely kept her lovely yellow roses climbing.  But she kept digging and I kept crushing.  All these thoughts crowd my mind as my finger falters over the rainbow-colored trail of Sam the snail.  

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My little man giggles and he asks to read it again and again.  Tears make rivers down my face and I smile as I cry.  My mother loved the beautiful and she taught me to love the ugly, too.  I would whine of hard things and she would teach me to sing praises to God, thanking Him that I was someone He loved enough to refine me and make me like Him.  She could see the rainbows in the slime, she could hear the hope in the trial, she taught me to listen for His still, small voice as my dreams seemed to be squashed, all the entrails spilling out.  

Gross!  How can there be anything lovely in this mess, Mommie?  What can I do with the mess my life feels like?

She didn’t laugh at me, she simply took her finger and traced how God had moved in the past, and I could see the shape of His faithfulness, His unchanging grace.  If He was faithful then, full of grace, mercy, and love, He would continue to be.

My little man sighs happily in my lap and I tell him how his grammie loved him, bought this book especially for him.  He makes no remark of my tears, we have learned that sorrow is necessary as healing continues.  We speak of missing her, he tells me how he wouldn’t let her die until he had to, because it was time for her to go to heaven.  I love his hero mentality, but I know that it is God who let her die so that I would look to Him, lean on Him, trust Him more.  Oh, but I miss her.  I miss her whimsy, her punny-jokes.  I miss how she saw the hand of God even in the slimy trail of a snail.  When I grow up, I want to be like her.

It's been 8 months and there are days all I can do is sob and thank God and sob and ask why.  Even when I am angry, He is there, loving, teaching.

It’s been 8 months and there are days all I can do is sob and thank God and sob and ask why. Even when I am angry, He is there, loving, teaching.

What loss has God used to shape you?  What was your first reaction?

For further meditation:

James 4:7-10, 1 Peter 1:13-25

Despair or hope?

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Are we of the same kind? Kindred souls linked by highs and lows that furrow the brows of those who love us… Did you feel it, the quicksand of aspiration that first has you exalting and then drowning, your cries buried deep inside, deep inside where no one but you can hear and that four-lettered word, “help” seems nonsense.

But you are gone now, so the question is were we the same, not are we. Some of us cut our wrists to bleed for peace, others leave our cars on and shut up our screams by breathing in fumes. “Why?” is the question pounded out by typing fingers everywhere, but the tragedy is this hole we cannot fill.

We were never meant to.

Deep inside there is a space that threatens me with its yawning, smacking mouth. To be swallowed by despair, to allow myself to be lost inside its cavernous emptiness and leave my loved ones mourning with “whys” upon their lips and minds. It is hope I long for, but like all who ride the waves of highs and lows, I misinterpret where I should place my hope. I forget my need for an anchor and I find myself dashed against the rocks.

Like a hand from God, my husband, family and my friends reach out. Linked by prayer they pull me safe aboard, and Christ is my anchor, keeping us safe through this storm. I do not sense when the anxiety will rise or when the despair will overwhelm. I must be vigilant to pray, meditate and memorize His Word. I must extend to others the mercy given me, for there are others out in the storm, trying to weather this storm alone.

I must tell of my only true hope.

For further meditation:
John 3, Psalm 27, Psalm 42-43, Hebrews 6:19-20

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Are you being stalked… I mean watched?

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I look up and there she is, borrowed binoculars pressed up to her eyes as she looks back at me.  She is watching me and I smile, until I think through the full implications.

She

is

watching

me

My flaws, my imperfections will be taken in by her eyes.  Sometimes she will know the context of what she is viewing, sometimes she will not.  This is not a bad or good thing, it is simply what is, it is the position I took on when I was blessed to bring her into the world.  I am impacting this precious little girl and her sister and her brother with what it means to be a woman.  I am showing them through my actions, through my words, what it means to be a wife, a mother, and most importantly, a follower of Christ.

This is heavy, I cannot carry it on my own.  Praise God I don’t need to!  His load is light, He will help me carry this.

The additional weight of this is that she is not the only one watching.  Every time I step out of my house, I become visible to others.  Obviously, their world does not, nor should it, revolve around me.  Every time I post something on FaceBook or tweet something or pin something, I make myself more visible, more available.  Each of us do.

She came up to me quietly the night before my mother’s memorial service, a cousin I had never met.  At some point, we had connected through Facebook, but I don’t remember either of us commenting on each other’s posts or anything.  What she said blew me away, “I follow you everyday.” Prayers that I had been posting had touched her heart, connecting us even though I had been unaware.  Since then I have become more and more aware of how visible I can be, and I wonder if you know it about yourself, too.

We are each walking somewhere, and though we may not realize, may not even desire it, we are leading others.  In our age of information, people long to connect, to bond, to follow, and you don’t have to wear the title of ministry leader to be doing just that.  I am not saying this to freak anyone out, I want you to be aware of the precious responsibility you have been given.

I once thought only to lead little children, it was fun, messy, and felt safe.  But God has been connecting me to women I never thought knew I existed.  Women have come up to me after a performance and I shake my head in wonder that what I wrote has impacted them.  As our lives intersect with others, we will leave imprints, some big and some small.  I told Christ at age five that I wanted to follow Him.  No, I didn’t know everything that would entail, I just wanted to follow Him.  The last thing He gave His followers to do before He left this earth was the command to be filled with the Holy Spirit, our helper, and then to go out and make disciples.  I said, “yes,” to following Him and in every area of my life, whether I recognize I am visible or not, I must, I must, I MUST be leading others to Christ.

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Your turn: Who have you caught watching you?  What is one thing you can do today to be a better leader?

For further meditation: Titus 2, Deuteronomy 6

My Dad Showed Me God

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My father stood next to me, his hair no longer jet-black, streaked with the silver that four daughters can give a man. I don’t know what he was thinking, but he smiled at me as his eyes sparkled with tears, “You look beautiful,” and I felt radiant. My father, my daddy, reached for my hand and we bowed our heads in prayer. His voice trembled as we worshipped before walking down the aisle where he would give my hand to my husband.

Looking back, I realize with deep regret how often I had not given respect to my father, how I had rolled my eyes, considered him incapable of understanding. I didn’t always ask him to understand me, didn’t try to make it easy for him. On countless mornings he stood next to my bed to try to encourage me to step out in faith though my body was gripped by chronic migraines and depression. I never knew how badly I hurt him when I gave up, when I retreated into the pain. But he didn’t give up on me. He continued to help me find different ways to try to heal; from doctors, to medication, to walks at night, to a week-long prayer-session. And I did get well, my mind began to clear as I began to have faith that there was hope. This man who persevered taught me to trust that though God allows, even causes pain at times, He alone can heal, make us better than new.

My father walked me down the aisle he had always been walking me down. The truth is, he set the standard for every man in my life. In my eyes, he was the tallest, the strongest, most faithful, godly man I’d ever met. One day, I know he will stand before God and when God examines how he cared for me, I know God will see that though my dad was not perfect, he was a good dad who have me a proper view of God. Because of him, I can read the story of the prodigal son returning to a father watching and waiting for his son’s return, running unashamed to his son. I have the kind of father and so I know that God loves me in that way.

Father’s Day is often painful for those who have been abandoned and for those who have lost their fathers. I cannot imagine the pain of these wounds and it would be to trite to simply say, “Let God be your father.” Words cannot heal you, only God can, and it often takes a lifetime. What astounds me is that a lifetime is not too long for this Father-God of ours to express His devotion to us. Each word in the Bible tells of His remarkable love. I don’t understand it all, but having the gift of a father who sacrificed himself daily for my family, I can better picture who God is.

How has your relationship with your earthly dad affected the way you view God?

For further meditation:
Luke 15:1-32; Ephesians 6:1-3; Colossians 3:20-21

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Are you tired of running and never getting anywhere?

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It should be a simple thing.  It is a simple thing, but somehow I have made it difficult, seemingly impossible.  I have been consumed with doing things.  I have been consumed with busy-ness.  Notice I did not say productivity, the obsession is motion,  but motion does not mean that I am getting anywhere.  Overachievers reach for higher heights, new platforms on which to prove our worth, new lessons to master, but I have discovered in my achieving I have somehow lost my rhythm, I have lost my ability to recognize victory, and so I continue to run and pant, never finished.

I have seen this weakness and I have heard it from the lips of friends… “I can’t keep up this pace”, “something has to give”, “We are too busy, but what can we do?”  I’ve heard myself and others dismiss this with, “this is just a busy season in life” and I think of farmers busily planting in spring.  I think of the care they give during the summer months, checking on crops and cattle.  I envision the harvest, the back-breaking labor of bringing in an entire year’s worth of work.  Yes, busy seasons are necessary, but farmers know how and when to rest, that if they don’t, they cannot bring in the harvest.

But I am still struggling because I have allowed my blessings to become my burdens, my duties.  I have allowed myself to rush through days without recognizing the simple joys of my life, my innate need to rise and praise my Maker and to sit in wonder of Him.  I don’t recognize what He is doing in me, I focus on my faults, my weaknesses and what needs to be conquered.  I’ve been wanting to write this all week, but I haven’t been able to.  I feel convicted writing it because I haven’t walked in the truth of this lesson consistently.  I am worn and fatigued.  I am too busy, but I have no idea where to draw the line.  Do you know what I’m saying?  I’m saying I’m over-committed, but I don’t know how to stop, I don’t know how to rest.

Cease striving and know that I am God… (Ps. 46:10, NASB) He is my refuge, my refuge from my desperate urge to finish a dozen projects.  I don’t truly know how to cease striving, how to be still.   I cannot complete everything I desire to do, but I feel my Father smiling at me, asking me to trust Him, to rest in Him.  I could try to earn His pleasure like a little girl drawing picture after picture for her daddy, trying to show him how she loves him, frustrated that she can never make it good enough.  The point is never how good my efforts are for Him, it they were, Jesus would never have had to come die for me.

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Matthew 11:28-30 MSG

I am tired, and I want to let Him hold me, teach me how to live in His will; following His plan, resting in His grace.  My forward motion on each project; the Bible challenges I can’t wait to launch, the sequel in the trilogy I am working on, the curriculum for upcoming lessons… progress would relieve me momentarily, but there will always be another project to finish… the real question I am needing to answer in this moment is, am I living in the grace of the Good News that I am saved, I have nothing I can or need to earn?  I should be working out of the joy of my salvation, a place of confident rest, I know I need only rest in the worth He has already given me.

Are these things you relate to, have heard yourself saying?  Then, I am praying for you, too!  I am going on a journey, each day spending some time in reflection of the work He is doing and recording some of it.  It takes discipline to sit still when you are convinced that motion and pushing means progress.  But God’s ways are not ours, sitting still before Him and praying and quietly listening is teaching me more than I thought possible.

Do you practice resting in the Lord?  How do you recognize what He is doing in your life?

For further meditation: Psalm 116; Ecclesiastes 4:6: Matthew 11:28-12:21

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Mom showed me what I didn’t want to see

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My mom had a way of looking at me and seeing inside.  When I was growing up, I often loved that she could see straight inside me.  I needed someone who not only could, but would look at my heart and help me stay true to the commitments I had made so I could become the woman I wanted to be.

Of course, I didn’t always like her seeing inside me.  I’ll never forget the afternoon I came home from the video store (yes, before DVDs and BlueRays) with an “artistic” film.  I had used my money to rent the film, knowing there were certain actors whose craft I wanted to study further… at least, that was what I told myself.  My mom didn’t judge me for that, but she knew what else would be in the film, she knew the filth I would be exposing myself to.  We stood in front of the staircase in our home and discussed it, and I was getting hotter by the minute.  I was certain, in a way only a high school girl can be, that I was right and she didn’t know what she was talking about.

She never forbid me.

After all the years of sheltering and guiding, she simply asked me to truly think about what it was teaching me, what I was growing inside my soul when I watched movies like the one I was holding.  I squirmed and hated every moment of our conversation, but the memory is precious to me.  She was teaching me to be on the look-out for the darkness that wanted to dim the light of my witness.  She didn’t start when I was in high school, but much younger.  We had evaluated books, friendships, t.v. shows, activities, all sorts of things that I consumed or participated in.  The process wasn’t harsh or judgmental in a self-righteous way, but together we would see what was growing within by what was coming out in my speech and actions.

It was painful.  It is painful.

In the not-so-distant-past I became enamored with an author.  I loved the world this author created, loved the characters.  After years of making little time to read between changing diapers and scrubbing dishes, I feel in love with reading again and snuck away to eat it up every chance I got.  I was shocked at the detail in the love-making scenes, but I justified reading them, telling myself it was okay since the characters were married.  But I was squirming on the inside, I knew my self-centeredness and lustful tendencies were being encouraged and after the Holy Spirit got my attention, I finally relinquished reading any more books by the talented writer.  Since then, He has been opening my eyes to better books, better things to consume and participate in.

Earlier this week, I talked about how we must identify what is toxic in our lives.  You can read that post here: http://how%20do%20you%20detox%20from%20fear  The hard truth is that eliminating what is toxic can leave a void, and I bet you are the same way as I am, empty spaces always get filled.

When I find myself sneaking away to binge on something unhealthy, whether it is food, films, or novels, I have to recognize that I am longing for something.  The longing isn’t a bad thing, I agree with Lysa TerKeurst, we were Made to Crave (reading her book right now).  God placed certain tendencies in me, and I want to encourage myself to grow what is best in my life through the choices I make.  I am striving to eat what is best, watch and read what will help me grow in my faith.  I know many of my weaknesses, but I am also blessed to have a husband and girlfriends who help look out for me.  They have permission to keep me accountable, walking in the truth.

My mom isn’t here to look out for me anymore.  I miss her guidance, her wisdom, but God has been developing other relationships with older, mature believers who are helping me fill the void.  They aren’t trying to fill her place, but they are encouraging me to grow deep roots into what is best for me.  I want the light of my faith to shine bright, but that can’t happen when I’m making compromises with darkness, when I allow it to pollute my witness.

Your turn: What darkness have you left room for in your life?  What “void” do you need to fill with God’s best in order to grow more like Him?

For Further Meditation: Matthew 5:14-16; Ephesians 5:1-21; Galatians 5:16-24

This summer I will be encouraging women to fill up on good reading that will stretch their faith.  I would love for you to join us!  Pick a few books on this list and meet with friends monthly in person and online to discuss the implications of these books.  Test each book against God's Word and don't be afraid to see how He challenges you.  If you like, post some favorite quotes across social media with: #VWMsummer2014 and check out what our ministry is discussing on FB, Twitter, etc. with the same hashtag.

This summer I will be encouraging women to fill up on good reading that will stretch their faith. I would love for you to join us! Pick a few books on this list and meet with friends monthly in person and online to discuss the implications of these books. Test each book against God’s Word and don’t be afraid to see how He challenges you. If you like, post some favorite quotes and/or questions you have across social media with: #VWMsummer2014 and check out what our ministry is discussing on FB, Twitter, etc. with the same hashtag.