<![CDATA[Travel Time Mama - Faith]]>Tue, 09 Feb 2016 06:57:49 -0800Weebly<![CDATA[In His Image: I am Created]]>Sun, 07 Feb 2016 21:01:27 GMThttp://traveltimemama.weebly.com/faith/in-his-image-i-am-created
There is something beautiful about being able to embrace who you are. The positive and the negative things that make you uniquely you. In a world that tells us we are never enough, that we can always have more, do more, and look better it is a hard thing to find that line between being happy with yourself and becoming a better you. 

I can look back at photos of a much younger, thinner me and find myself mystified by why I thought I needed to be prettier, thinner and better back then. But I did. I remember feeling insecure and unhappy with who I was.

Fast forward to today. It is still easy to become dissatisfied with myself. It seems there is always someone who seems to have it all together. You know that person with the always perfect hair, perfect body, supermom, and standout person.  And then there is me. My hair is still somewhere between that I-lost-my-mind-pixie cut and almost a bob. I loose and regain the same 15 pounds every 3 months, sometimes I give my kids cookies for breakfast, and make life choices that make me cringe. 

I could go on for hours about all the ways I fall short of my own expectations  - if I allow myself to do that. And somedays I do. I fall into a dark place where I make mental (okay sometimes paper lists) of all of the ways I disappoint myself, the mistakes I have made and the dumb things I have said. Oh, how I loath those days. I am thankful that those days are few and far between. Most of the time I embrace who I am, mess and all, because I know that is Gods plan for me. He made me just as I am. He placed me on the path I have traveled.

I remind myself that I am strong. I have endured pain, loss, heartache, homelessness, mental illness, a suicide attempt, rape, and abusive relationships. That is just to name a few of the challenges in my life. I have made good and bad choices and had the consequences of both. I have learned and grown through it all into the person that I am today. I see the way God has shaped me. I see the way he has used my trials to bring me closer to him. I see his handiwork in the map of stretch marks across my body that resulted from being a 13 year old girl who hid her pregnancy for 6 1/2 months. I see his handiwork in the compassion I have for others who are enduring similar trials.  I see his work in my faults and in my strengths. 

These are some of the things I try to remember when I start to compare myself to others. I remind myself - that I am Gods creation. Made in his image. Not in the image of this world. When we strive to make ourselves fit the worlds idea of what we should be we risk pulling ourselves away from the way we were uniquely created to be. Oh, and it is a beautiful thing to see yourself through Gods eyes instead of the worlds. Oh how lovely it is to embrace the Grace he offers instead of the criticism of the world.  I encourage anyone who feels less than perfect to look at yourself from Gods point of view instead of your own or that of the world. 

For you 
created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
Psalm 139:13

So God 
created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.  
 Genesis 1.27

Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one and calls forth each of them by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.
Isaiah 40:26

<![CDATA[Surrender... The Art of Letting Go]]>Sun, 08 Nov 2015 19:26:58 GMThttp://traveltimemama.weebly.com/faith/surrender-the-art-of-letting-go
It is not everyday that a song hits me hard and brings me to my knees, but when that happens I know that it is one of the many ways God speaks to me.  From the first verse in this song, I knew God needed to remind me that there is freedom in surrender. A message that runs contrary to what the world tells us. 

 "Hold it all together - everyone needs you strong... " those words might as well be the unspoken motto of my life. I have always, even as child, felt the pull to be the person who holds things and people together. The person who is strong for others. The person who is control. By our worlds standards this may seem like a good thing, but being completely self sufficient is contrary to God's command to rely on him.  When I try to take control of everything I am only forcing myself to bear a burden that God never intended me to carry.  

It is hard for me rest. It is hard for me to surrender. It is hard for me to let go and let God work. I struggle to let God hold me -even though I have seen his power, his provision, and felt his mighty grace more times than I can count.  I know his plans are better than mine but it is still difficult to grasp that when everything seems to be falling apart. Yet, when I find myself in a  place of complete brokenness I am able to admit that it is only through Christ who strengthens me that I can do all things. It is not.... through April I can do all things but Christ and Christ Alone. And he does a much better job than I can even imagine. 

I write this today and share this song, to encourage anyone  who feels weighed down by the burden of being strong, of holding it all together, or just trying to make it look like you have it all under control. I encourage you to surrender to God. He is on the throne and he is in control. He has a perfect plan for your life and you are not alone. Let him wrap you in the peace of God,  a peace that transcends all understanding. Only in complete surrender will you will find that peace and freedom.

*Note* I love the way God works. I love the way he speaks. I hate that I get so wrapped up in myself that I miss what he is showing me. I heard this song on the radio last night and it just brought me to tears. I felt so broken and alone. I knew had gotten caught up in the cycle of trying to be in control of everything.  I started praying that God would just speak to me. I did some bible study, listened to this song several times, and then I started writing this post. Then the cat unplugged the internet and I lost my original draft. I was not sure I was going to rewrite it. Then at church today... the sermon was about surrendering to find freedom. It was as if the lost words I had written yesterday were being repeated back to me.

<![CDATA[A Bitter Truth or A Sweet Lie? What are you choosing to teach your children?]]>Mon, 10 Aug 2015 22:12:14 GMThttp://traveltimemama.weebly.com/faith/a-bitter-truth-or-a-sweet-lie-what-are-you-choosing-to-teach-your-children

"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 5:3

One thing I love about teaching my church kids is that I always absorb something profound out of the lesson.  Looking at scripture from a view simplified for children can rip away the tendency I have to make things overly complicated. 

The most recent children's lesson  covered the first of the Beatitudes found in Mathew.  As we delved into what it means to be "poor in spirit" we also spent a great deal of time talking about how we are imperfect and must rely on Jesus for perfection- not ourselves.

I was really hit with the truth that our culture teaches our children a sweet lie that goes against God's word. Okay, our culture certainly teaches many lies against God's Word, but the one that tackled me today, is one that I am guilty of teaching to my own children.

This lie is one that sounds good. It is a sweet lie. It empowers and builds self esteem. What harm can it possibly do? We tell our children that they can be whatever they want, that if they try hard enough, they can do anything they put their mind to and that they can build a life where they can fully rely on themselves.   

It sounds good right? I mean we want our children to have a good self-esteem, to achieve what they want and be independent. Yet, when we look at these ideas from a biblical perspective we find the opposite to be true. A bitter truth when compared to that sugary sweet feel good lie.

I can do all things through Christ who Strengthens me. Philippians 4:13

Gods word instructs us to rely on him, not on ourselves or our own understanding.That is the truth. A truth that might taste bitter  if we are teaching our children that self reliance is to be sought after.  How easy it is to miss the " through Christ who strengthens me" part of the verse when we apply it to our lives and our children lives. 

Facing the truth compels me to make a conscious effort to teach my children that apart from God, they can not achieve the fullness of Gods perfect plan for them. Apart from God, they are seeped in sin and no amount of effort will make them perfect, blameless or sinless. I want them to understand that they are not in control. Not an easy thing accept for this adult, much less a child. 

 Now, I know this is going to sound wrong to some people- it even sounds a tiny bit wrong to me at first glance, but I don't want my children to be self sufficient. I want them to be God sufficient. I don't want them to strive for perfection. I want them to embrace that they are created in God's perfect image. I don't want them to believe that they can do anything. I want them to believe that God can do anything and he can use them to do amazing things. Oh, and I don't want my children to be whatever they want to be either. I want them to have a desire and thirst to be whatever God has called them to. I don't want them to see the truth as something bitter but as something that will set them free.  

<![CDATA[Are you treating your Bible like a buffet line?]]>Mon, 20 Jul 2015 20:02:54 GMThttp://traveltimemama.weebly.com/faith/are-you-treating-your-bible-like-a-buffet-line“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”               
                                    2 Timothy 2:16-17

 Oh, it is tempting to pick and choose from the bible like a buffet line. I will have a little "Judge Not" but none of that discourging "or you will be Judged". I take a heaping pile of "grace, peace, love" but I will leave that "turn the other cheek business" for someone else.  I know I have certainly been tempted more than once to skip over parts of the bible that make me uncomfortable.( You know, like the entire book of Job.  Which I HAVE read many times, even though I didn't want to!) 

However, the truth is that 2 Timothy verses 2:16 and 17 are there to get us out of that buffet line of thought. If we don't fully stand behind this verse what reason do we have to even read the word. We, as Christians, must believe that every word is inspired and written by God.  For it is through that truth that we equipped for the good work we are called to as Christians.

<![CDATA[Can Saying Yes Mean Saying NO?]]>Wed, 06 May 2015 00:15:10 GMThttp://traveltimemama.weebly.com/faith/can-saying-yes-mean-saying-no    What? I must admit that at first glance that title is confusing. I have been doing a bible study and reading a book by Lysa Terkeurst called THE BEST YES. It is about making wise decisions. It points out that in order to say yes to something you are essentially saying no to something else. There is always a trade off. If you say yes to everything that comes your way you are essentially saying no to giving your body mind and soul the rest that it needs. If you say yes to buying a bigger house with a bigger payment you are essentially saying no wherever that extra money would gone to. 
    It really causes me to stop and think about how quickly I make decisions with out stoping to think the process through fully. It is so easy to focus on what you get from saying yes that you may not see what you are saying no to. Not that all decisions require hours of deep thinking, but even with those small decisions it is good to be aware on some level of the trade off you will be making with your yes. 
    Each yes or no be it big or small will set in motion a chain of events. I find that I really want to be aware of where my choices are leading me. I want to know what I am saying no to when I say yes. Proverbs 22:3 (NLT) tells me that a prudent person foresees danger and takes precautions. The simpleton goes blindly on and sugars the consequences. 
    I don't know about you, but I really don't want to be the simpleton. I want to make informed choices that will lead to the best possible outcome. From a simple choice, like choosing not to chow down on sugar and carbs even though I love them, because they impact my health in a negative way. To more complex choices, like choosing between two good things or ]]>
<![CDATA[Esther: God At Work  Bible Study Introduction]]>Sun, 10 Aug 2014 20:31:56 GMThttp://traveltimemama.weebly.com/faith/esther-god-at-work-bible-study-introduction
Introduction to Esther: 
God Working Behind the Scenes

            Our story begins in 483 B.C. in Susa. This Old Testament book is unique from all other books in the bible because it does not mention the name of God in any form. It also does  not mention prayer, the covenant, Abraham or the linage of DavidThis has caused the book of Esther to be rather controversial throughout history. Many have questioned why a book that appears so worldly has a place in the bible. The true beauty in the Book of Esther is found in the way that God is at work behind the scenes. In exploring Esther we will see him working though ungodly people who make questionable choices while living in a society that values having many religions except those who worship the one true God. 

Think About It:

  1. What is your reaction to learning that God is not mentioned in Ester?
  2. Why do you think a book of this sort is included in the Bible?
  3. Do you feel the U.S. is similar or different from Susa in the way that it embraces other religions? In what ways?

Talk About It:

  1. Can you think of a time that God was working behind the scenes in your life? 
  2. Has there ever been a time that God has used a non Christian person influence your life in a Godly way?
  3. Think of some of the parables in bible and share how they have helped you understand God. 

Understanding the Times

“For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that throughout endurance and the encouragement of the scriptures we mights have hope.” Romans 15

To fully understand Esther you must know a little about what was going before, during, and after the story. 
The Jewish people of Judah and Jerusalem had been exiled when king Nebuchadnzzar destroyed the city and burnt the temple .

                             Read Deuteronomy 28:15, & 36

      Jerusalem was destroyed and that was the fulfillment of the covenant curse brought on by the disobedient and sinful people.  Gods people simply did not obey. They followed the sin filled lifestyle of the pagan people. However, the punishment of God’s people was not without a solution. He promised that he would some of his people would one day return to Jerusalem. 

      In Jeremiah we find the prophecy was filled when the pagan king Cyrus the Great set them free to return home.  The books of ezra and Nehemiah tell the story of that return, rebuilding and the blessing of following God. In Esther we see a subtle taste of the life lived by those who for whatever reason did not return to Jerusalem. We see how God will continue to work for his people in a pagan culture. 

Talk About It:

  1. What are some ways that Godly people can be influenced by a lifestyle that is independent of God?
  2. Have you ever been in a situation where you chose to stay in a situation that may not have been God’s ideal plan for you?
  3. What were some of the consequences of that situation?

Fast Facts:
  •   During the exile of Gods people they became known as Jews.
  • The book of Esther makes no claim to who wrote it. 
  • It is written from the point of view of someone who doesn't seem to be involved in the story. 
  •   Susa is modern day Iran. 
<![CDATA[Gods Word: A balm for the brokenhearted ]]>Sun, 03 Aug 2014 19:32:04 GMThttp://traveltimemama.weebly.com/faith/gods-word-a-balm-for-the-brokenhearted
I confess that I rely on my bible app on my phone or iPad more than I turn to the hardcover bible. I love the convenience  of always having the bible  with me on my phone. I love that I can click audio and hear Gods word as I fall asleep or in the car while I drive. But, sometimes there is nothing that compares to holding the wrinkled and marked pages of bible in my hand.

Today, I was hit with a wave of sorrow over many things in my life. I have a deep drive to do what is right and be pleasing to the Lord, but I fall so short in so many moments of everyday. I get frustrated with my own failures. I feel as If there is always someone out there who can do things better than I can.  Doubts begin to cloud my thoughts. I don't doubt Gods love, his grace, or even his forgiveness but I doubt that I am useful tool to him as broken as I am. Oh, but how he always has a balm for my brokeness in his word. 

As I walked past my desk today feeling a bit foggy and disheartened  something prodded me to swoop up my bible . When I opened it up it I was drawn to an verse I had previously underlined and circle. As I breathed in the words of God I felt a blanket of comfort rest on my soul that I can only find in him. 

So do not throw away your confidence: it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. For in just a very little while, He who is coming will come and not delay. My righteous one will live by faith and If he shrinks back, I will not be pleased with him. "  Hebrews 10:35-38 NIV

Persevering is not a fun thing to do. It is the long muddy stretch in life where you feel like you have been pushing forward only to find you have only moved a few painful steps. It is the long silent stretches of waiting for something you can not see clearly in front of you. It is found in the heartache of losing a loved one, after the funeral has passed, as you move through life like a visitor in your own skin.  It is the heartache between conceiving a child and watching them face the trials of life as they grow into adults.

In faith, it is to keep pushing forward when everything seems to be pushing you back. It is choosing to love when it is easier not to. It is standing firm in the promises of the word when the the world shouts that you are wrong. It is running forward when you want to run away. 

Persevering is not an easy thing but we must do it because it is what we are called to do. It is trusting that God can and will move and work through his people, however broken or unworthy they are because he is a God who is big enough to anything. So in the moments when you want to give up, instead of beating yourself , reach for your bible (in whatever form you wish!) and let the word of God give you peace, conviction, and encouragement. 

<![CDATA[Little changes are the key to creating big change]]>Mon, 30 Jun 2014 17:45:52 GMThttp://traveltimemama.weebly.com/faith/little-changes-are-the-key-to-creating-big-changeDo you want to make a big change in your life?  Start with the small things. 
   I am the first to admit that I am not a morning person. I pry myself out of bed to the demands of my alarm or most often to the demand of my little people. Then I stumble through the house with one eye open attending the demanding tasks of the day. Then I collapse back in my bed with caffeine, oatmeal, and flip on the computer to help me  "wake up".  It is my routine. It is not terrible but neither is ideal.  I want to start my day out right, focused on Jesus and following his plans for my life. However, it occurs to me that my current routine doesn't reflect what I want my life to be. 
   If I start my day by browsing Facebook, Yahoo, and Pinterest or whatever media catches my eyes is not the best way to reach the change I want in my life. If I want my day to reflect my passion for following God it certainly seems that there are better ways to start my day.
   Just committing to take at least a few moments each morning to rest in the Lord as I wake up is a tiny change that I can make. This tiny change has the power to change my entire day and possibly my entire life. 

If I want God to be first in my life, I must make his first in my day.

   I know this to be true because it is a practice I have applied to my life in the past and I certainly saw a difference in  my attitude and the way I handle situations that arise.  Now, I know myself well enough to say I won't be waking up at the crack of dawn and pouring myself into a few hours of intense bible study. My brain just doesn't function that way in the morning. I will save my intense study for the evenings when I focus better. 

In Psalm 90:12 we are urged to learn to number our days so that we may gain a heart of wisdom. This should remind us that we should treat each day as important. It is easy to feel overwhelmed by that when we are faced with such busyness but taking that tiny step of putting God first as we start our day, however that may look for us, is one of the ways we can number our days and make every day count.  The little things in life are what add to the big things.

"I am not all that I should be, but i am bringing all my energies to bear on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead. I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God is calling us up to heaven because of what Christ Jesus did for us . " Philippians 3:13-14 TLB

How can you commit to starting your day to the Lord? It may look different for you than for me. Reading a verse each morning, hiding in the bathroom to pray for a few moments, or even playing a song that leads your heart to worship the Lord?

<![CDATA[Mr. Normals So Called Standards of Normal]]>Sun, 27 Apr 2014 20:12:46 GMThttp://traveltimemama.weebly.com/faith/mr-normals-so-called-standards-of-normal Normal. Abnormal. Average. I dislike all three of these words and the standards they imply. Who, exactly, is this great force who determines what is normal, abnormal, and average? And who made him president of my universe anyway? I am ready to vote Mr. Normal and his stuffy standards out of my little corner of the world!

Lost? I am off on a rant without clearly explaining what I mean. Stick with me. Take it word by word. Today, I am going to attempt to stick with one of these nasty little words and challenge myself and you to

Lets talk about Normal and why we think normal is okay. We certainly don’t use this word in a bad way. Its not a curse word by any means but that doesn’t mean we should simply accept this idea of normal. Here is the definition of normal when used as an adjective. 

normal |ˈnôrməl|
1 conforming to a standard; usual, typical, or expected: it's quite normal for puppies to bolt their food | normal working hours.
  • (of a person) free from physical or mental disorders.

I really don’t like this word because let’s face it, I am not normal. My family is not normal. Is there even one person in my family tree who is completely free of physical or mental disorders? Nope. Even if we were once normal, as we age we naturally decline from the norm. Our bodies start to fail, our eyes site goes, and our memories jump ship. By this very definition… old people are not normal if they have physical disorders.

What? So even If I was normal I would age into an abnormality? So lets set aside the aging issue, and the mental disorder issue for now and look at things from a spiritual point of view.

My eyes (squinting abnormally) keep going back to the first word. Conforming. Conforming to the standard.Who’s standard? Mr. Normal’s standard again. How about God’s standard? How does that factor in? I am sure that God does not wants us to conform to just any old standard. “Typical” is not a world I use to describe my God, so why would I strive to be typical? God’s word leads me to a completely different kind of truth. 

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:2

I also like the NLT translation of this verse. It makes it pretty clear that normal as defined by the world is not what I should be striving for. It is not the standard by which I should measure myself, my children, my family or my life

Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God's will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. Romans 12:2

  Think about it. Do you really want to be normal? Just like everyone else, conforming to the normal standards of our world. If you do, I urge you to take a second look at what our cultural norms are right now. Do they follow God’s standards? Conform to his ways? Not from where I am standing

Do I want my children to be normal? I want to say no, but deep in my heart there is an ache that wants my children to be comfortable, accepted and free from the cruelty that comes from being anything that doesn’t look normal. No good parent wants their child to suffer the difficulty of not fitting in. Dig deeper, and look at the cost of being normal when normal goes against what God wants, when it goes against the way he created us to be. The cost is high. 

When we strive for a worldly normal we are setting ourselves against God. We are not conforming to him. We are not accepting that he made us and our children just as he intended. Not abnormal, but in his image. And image that is not one of this world.  

I will strive to fight against Mr. Normal. I will conform to God and his ways and not those of the world. I will accept my children, just as God accepts me. With love, grace, mercy, compassion and accepting of the parts of them that don’t fall into Mr. Normals neat little box

I will love my children with their emotional, mental, and learning disabilities just as they are. I will not hold them to the standards of the world but to the standards of God.  The same goes for me. I am broken, imperfect, full of sin, and I struggle with my own mental disabilities. I am not normal in this world but I am loved, accepted and set free by my heavenly father.  We will talk about those other nasty words another day! 
<![CDATA[A Prayer for TODAY...]]>Sun, 27 Apr 2014 20:11:03 GMThttp://traveltimemama.weebly.com/faith/a-prayer-for-todayPicture
Today's Prayer: 

 If I am going to take time to ask Jesus what to do with my life, I should be prepared to stop and listen to what he wants me to do. This often means serving other people as if they are more important than me. Putting them first and myself last. God will then be providing for me as I serve others. My true master will be serving me as I serve others. 

  Lord, I fall so short in the area of asking and listening to what you really have to say after I pray. So often, I pray and want to hear your answer, but only if is what I already have in mind. Today, father I ask that you would open my heart and ears to what you are calling me to do today. Clear away any of my own desires, so that I may hear only you. Forgive my selfishness and the wrong desires that often cloud my mind. I want to be your servant and not a servant of my own needs and desires. I am thankful that your ways are higher and better than mine and that your grace is sufficient for me today. 

In Jesus Name I pray,