on conviction and discernment (plus some links)

I've been spending more time with God lately and, if I'm honest, I don't always leave feeling refreshed and renewed. Sometimes I leave feeling conflicted and a little burdened. This is the prodding and conviction of the Holy Spirit. I know there are changes He is asking me to make in my life but I'm not always sure how to go about those changes. Sometimes I feel like the changes I need to make aren't even in my control. It's not easy to balance my needs and desires with the needs and desires of my family. After all, it's not all about me, I have a husband and kids to think about. And then there are the expectations of others. I know the only opinion that matters is God's but it's hard letting other people down, even if you're not really doing anything wrong. 

That's the tension I'm living with these days. How do I stay true to myself and the calling I feel is from God while keeping everyone around me happy and sane. Maybe it's not possible. I may not always be understood by those around me, but if God understands the motives of my heart, isn't that the most important thing? 

I'm still working through some things in my head. I'm trying to be very quiet because that's where God meets me, in the stillness. I'm trying to discern God's voice amongst all the other voices I hear on a daily basis. I'm having conversations with my husband and it feels great to be on the same page and to have him as a sounding board. 

I'm thankful for the Holy Spirit's conviction in my life. It reminds me that I am His. And when my life isn't matching up to His standard it's a good thing that I feel grieved. Now the important part is not to stay there. I have my hope in Jesus. I have His guidance. I have His grace when I fail again and again. The same Spirit that brought on the conviction in the first place is the One that will lead me in the way I should go. 

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And now here are a few links I feel are worth your time. I love hearing from other brave women. I find their faithfulness so encouraging and hopefully you will too. 

The latest Thrive Moms newsletter on community was so good for my soul. 

This piece from Jen Hatmaker had me thinking about how I want to raise my kids. It's an excerpt from her latest book, For the Love, which I am in the middle of reading. It's both hilarious and full of truth!

My friend Kristen had me laughing out loud with her blog post on angry texts. THIS IS SO ME. Sorry (but kinda not sorry) for all the angry texts, Alex. 

I love Glennon from Momastery and this was great to read for the back-to-school season

Liam's Star Wars Lego Party

I had to share some photos from Liam's birthday party last week. This kid was on cloud nine playing with his friends, hanging out with Darth Vader, and stuffing his face with cake. Thanks so much to everyone who helped and celebrated with us. And thank you to Goin' Bananas for being the best hosts. 

he is four

Doesn't four seem like such a big kid number? That's how old Liam is today. Over the past week I've been randomly grabbing a hold of him and saying, "I can't believe you're so big! You're going to be four!" And he kind of gives me a look, pats me on the shoulder, and pries himself from my grip. The last time I did it he asked me, "Why do you keep saying that?!" Get used to it, kid. I'm going to be doing this every August for the rest of his life, I'm sure. 

I remember when Liam was a wee babe. Those were some hard times! I can't say I miss his baby stage much. There was so much chaos, so many tears. So much confusion and doubting. But look at us now, four years old! I'm enjoying this age...with all it's sass and questions and incessant talking. I'm enjoying the Lego-building (despite the mess) and the, "hey mom, look at my big muscles!" 

And I'm happy to report that Liam is still a mama's boy. It's so much responsibility having a tiny human who looks up to you so much. I'm realizing more and more that I need to point him to Jesus. I don't want him to look at me and see me...I want him to look at me and see Jesus. I want to radiate grace and truth. I want him to know that he is loved and wanted and that he is filled with so much potential. 

I am so beyond happy that God chose to bless our family with this boy. This boy who loves Star Wars and is strong-willed and passionate. This boy who is incredibly bright and deep. This boy with the most mesmerizing eyes I've ever seen. 

We love you so very much, Liam. Sometimes you drive me to the crazy, but it's only because you are already such a headstrong leader. I pray that we can point you to Jesus and direct all of that energy to building His Kingdom. And as always, I am praying Luke 2:40 over your life, "And the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom. And the favor of God was upon him."

I am set free

I've been noticing a trend in my life lately. I seem to be surrounded by thoughts of freedom. I yearn for freedom. I think about it constantly. Songs about freedom  strike a chord with me. And when I spend time with the Lord I keep coming back to this idea of freedom. 

I don't like feeling trapped. I doubt anybody does, but I really don't like it. I start getting antsy if I feel like my freedom is being taken from me. I want to be able to move and live and breathe without being held back. 

A couple of weeks ago I was telling Alex that I was feeling trapped. I love my life but I want to be sure that I am choosing this life. I don't want to stay in my life out of obligation or guilt, I want to actively choose to live my life the way I am living it each and every single day. I want to delight in this choice and feel free to make any changes I see fit without worrying about what others may think.

I also want to be free of all past mistakes. I have this tendency to go back and relive past hurts. I start thinking about something that happened a year, three years, five years ago...and it's all fresh in my mind. I begin to beat myself up over it. Why? Why did I do that? Why did I say that? How would my life be different had I made a different choice? I have to tell myself to let go, stop obsessing. 

I've been participating in a holy yoga class every Monday evening. It's...the best. I've written about holy yoga before. How it feels worshipful and meaningful. How it helps me focus my attention on Jesus. The instructor has a playlist of worship music playing while we get our flow on. One of the songs that always pops up is "I Am Set Free" by All Sons and Daughters. This song really gets to me every time I listen to it. It's a beautiful song that reminds me simply that I am set free. You guys, I am already set free. 

All the yearning and worrying I do, it's unnecessary. There is no more guilt, no more shame, no more seeking approval, There is only grace and love and promise and hope and opportunity. 

And the reason that I have been set free? It is for freedom. It is for freedom that I am set free. (Galatians 5:1) I need not get bogged down in feelings of regret or worry or the "yoke of slavery." I am to enjoy my freedom in Christ. I am no longer a slave to sin or to the law or people's unsavory opinions about me. I am set free. I am set free to love God and others. I am set free to hope in the future. I am set free to pursue my calling and passions. I am set free to walk with God. I am set free to revel in God's grace and mercy.  

It's time to drop those chains that I'm holding on to. They've already been broken by Christ. I'm covered in God's grace. I am set free.