Tag Archives: Spiritual Maturity

4 Lessons from a Hungry Baby

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My little son Gordon is now 8 weeks old and, of course, he’s completely adorable. At this age, though, nearly the entire day consists of eating and sleeping, with the occasional diaper change and bath in between. I’ve now spent approximately 14,538 hours feeding him, and I’ve come to realize something: we have a lot to learn by watching hungry babies eat.

Here’s a list of four observations I’ve made and what we can learn from them.

1 – Babies are not patient

Gordon usually gives us clear hunger signals (like trying to eat his hands), but I’m not always fast enough to avoid the pterodactyl-like screaming that accompanies his little hunger pains.

When it comes to our spiritual lives, we often act like babies. Sure, we’ll give God a few minutes to sort things out, but if He’s not quick enough, we’ll pitch quite the tantrum. We would do better to realize that God loves us and has our best interest at heart. However, His ways are higher than our ways. When we find ourselves waiting for what we need or want in life, our faith should be supported by godly patience.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law (Galatians 5:22-23 NAS).

2 – Pacifiers and fingers don’t contain milk

Gordon will occasionally use a pacifier, and he’s just discovered his fingers. However, neither of these items contain the milk he wants. When he sucks on them and nothing comes out, he gets frustrated and spits them out. Then he’ll try to suck on them again. Finally, when I have a bottle ready, I often have to pry the pacifier out of his mouth in order to give it to him.

Life offers us a lot of pacifiers, including work, entertainment, and relationships. However, none of these things will give us the spiritual nutrition we need. If you’re feeling parched—or even starved—then it may be time to set aside some worldly things so that you can take hold of the great things God is offering you.

And do not seek what you will eat and what you will drink, and do not keep worrying. For all these things the nations of the world eagerly seek; but your Father knows that you need these things. But seek His kingdom, and these things will be added to you (Luke 12:29-31 NAS).

3 – Drinking while pooping leads to gagging

Not to sound vulgar, but little babies have a hard time coordinating their bodily functions. If Gordon tries to potty while sucking on a bottle, he starts to sputter, cough, and gag.

Are you waiting for God to give you something, to answer a prayer or take care of some need? Perhaps you need to make room in your life by first getting rid of the junk, such as sin, emotional baggage, and clutter. Take care of business, then reach out for God’s provision.

“Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from My sight. Cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, reprove the ruthless, defend the orphan, plead for the widow. Come now, and let us reason together,” says the LORD, “though your sins are as scarlet, they will be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they will be like wool” (Isaiah 1:16-18 NAS).

4 – Gulping causes gas

Bottles are tricky because the milk flows so freely. When Gordon is excited (remember, he has no patience), he’ll gulp the milk like he hasn’t eaten in days. However, this causes him to consume more air, which leads to gas.

Our world encourages—even requires—us to multi-task to the point that most of us are not only over-worked, but we’re bone tired. We’re weary. We can’t hardly function because we’re overflowing with too many responsibilities, demands, and to-do lists. If this is you, push back. Take a breather. Seek stillness with God and ask Him to reset your priorities. Only then will you be able to slow down and truly appreciate the things He gives you and the places He sends you.

He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake (Psalm 23:2-3 NAS).

 

Do these lessons resonate with you? If so, I’d love to hear from you! Please leave a comment below with your thoughts or encouragement for other readers.

A Pre-Christmas Makeover

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My friend, author Amanda Flinn, really knows how to speak to the heart of mamas. In this guest post, she shares five ways to perform a spiritual makeover, just in time to really appreciate the Christmas season and prepare for the New Year. Be sure to check out Amanda’s blog for more encouragement.


 

At this time last year, I was really in a funk about life.

Not depressed or anything, just overwhelmed, out of routine and really just out of sorts. I was using the cold, dark mornings as an excuse to skip my workouts and my daily quiet time, which definitely added to my sour mood. My marriage was struggling, my gig as a stay at home mom was exhausting and my efforts to follow my dreams were slower than I had hoped. I was basically going through the motions, attempting to celebrate the holidays with friends and family, but not truly engaged. And my feelings were spilling over into my journal entries.

Check out this sad little snippet from November 19, 2017.

“Friendsgiving last night. Nice time, but I also felt tired and a bit disconnected. Aside from eating too much, not sure why.”

Have you been there?

Have you ever spent so much time taking care of others that you have forgotten to take care of yourself? Have you ever been so overwhelmed by life, that you are at the party, but not truly present? Have you ever been so mentally and physically exhausted that you have started medicating with Netflix rather than the Word of God?

That is where I was last year.  And that is where I know so many mommas are at today.

The holiday season is busy and demanding and often times overstimulating, with added pressures to make everything perfect for our families and our friends. We are bombarded by extra activities, extra spending and extra calories and before we know it our schedule, bank account and waistline have been zapped.

What we need, and what I began last year, is a pre-Christmas makeover. A reset of our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual self. A re-boost of our entire being. A reminder that it is important to take care of ourselves and that by doing so, we can better care for others, especially during the holidays.

Here are five simple challenges to start today and get your pre-Christmas makeover in motion:

 

Get Up.

Even if you already wake up early, try getting up thirty minutes earlier than normal. Time alone in the morning is vital to your success. This process starts by telling yourself the night before that you will get up on time, no matter what. If you know you are getting up earlier, then you may need to go to bed earlier. Adjust it out and make it happen.

 

Get Silent.

Just be still. Be present. If God speaks to you then listen, but do not talk. Set a timer and just be in the presence of your Creator. I find that sitting by a fireplace, or a candle, or a lit Christmas tree helps set the mood. I do not recommend staying in bed, under the covers. Trust me on this one.

 

Get Gratitude.

Start with a few gratitude statements. Example: I am grateful for my health. I am grateful for my coffee. I am grateful for my kids. Then move on to some “I am” affirmations. Example: I am strong. I am capable. I am worthy of love. And finally a big dream statement. If you have a dream inside of your heart, there is a good chance it was placed inside of you by a God that is bigger than any dream you could ever imagine. What big idea are you sitting on and waiting around for that you need to hand over to the one who created it? Example: I want to write a children’s picture book. (That was mine last year.)

 

Get Reading.

Spending a few minutes in God’s Word at the beginning of each day is a game changer. There are so many places to start and a multitude of reading plans to guide you through. The book and verse does not matter, just an open heart and a willingness to hear from God. I find that journaling about what I’ve read really helps with this process.

 

Get Moving.

This could be a short walk, a few stretches or a thirty second wall sit. Just spend a few minutes moving your body and build from there. Looking back at my journal, this part of my morning was pretty basic for the first two weeks. After that, I was able to challenge myself to actual thirty minute workouts (which pushed me to get up even a few minutes sooner than before).

 

All of these challenges are simple, but they will take commitment and a willingness to care for yourself—your whole self. Speaking from experience, I know how difficult that can be. I also know how wonderful it feels to come out of that pre-Christmas funk. But like any good plan, it doesn’t work unless you work.

So, get to it. I believe in you and you are worth it.

~ By Amanda Flinn of www.amandaflinn.com

4 Ways to Love God with Gusto (Part 2 of 2)

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Last week, author Kristen Hogrefe shared with us how we can love God volitionally. This week, she wraps up this two-part series by explaining how we can love God with all our strength. If these posts have encouraged your walk with the Lord, please let us know by leaving a comment below.


In September, my church hosted a 5K to raise money and awareness for foster care. For those not familiar with running terms, that’s a little over 3 miles.

Running didn’t come naturally to me, but now, it’s a lifestyle I’ve learned to enjoy. My boyfriend, though athletic, hates running. But to his credit, he ran the race with me, adopted my pace, and even smiled for photos. He got out his comfort zone, and it meant so much to me.

Last time, we looked at loving God volitionally, which involves a choice or act of the will. In my case, my boyfriend chose to run even though he didn’t want to. In addition, he invested time and physical energy to show up and finish.

This example, though perhaps cheesy, brings me to another way we can love God: with all our strength.

 

Loving God through Our Actions

As author Gary Chapman explains in his book The Five Love Languages, physical touch is one of the primary ways people express and receive love. Although we can’t physically “touch” God, we can still love him through our actions.

In Scripture, we see examples of believers performing acts of service again and again.

  • The Shunammite woman and her husband built an upper room for the Prophet Elisha so that he had a place to stay when he visited them (2 Kings 4).
  • Martha opened her home to Jesus and served him dinner (Luke 10). For all the bad rap she gets for being too busy to simply listen like her sister Mary, Martha deserves credit for her hospitality and generosity.
  • A widow gave everything she had to the temple treasury (Mark 12).

Of course, Jesus himself modeled service to others time and time again through miracles, washing his disciples’ feet, and ultimately dying on the cross.

No matter our situation, we all have varying degrees of physical ability. Some people can travel for mission trips or volunteer locally. Others serve behind-the-scenes doing preparation work no one seems to notice. For someone with limited physical ability, this action might look like a hand-written note of encouragement or even a whispered prayer.

The bottom line is that when we act to help others, we please God. When we love “the least” of the people who cross our paths, we’re loving him too (Matthew 25:31-40).

 

Loving God with Our Minds

During one of my friend’s weddings, the bride asked me to read Shakespeare’s Sonnet 116, which begins this way:

“Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments …”

That phrase, “the marriage of true minds,” sticks with me, because it suggests a unified purpose, set of values, and life focus. So too, when we love God with our minds, we’re saying we want to live “on the same page” with him.

Once again, Scripture sheds some light on what this unified mindset looks like:

  • We are to bring “every thought” into “captivity” or obedience to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5).
  • We are to exercise humility, following Christ’s example (Philippians 2:5-8).
  • We are to focus our thoughts on things that are excellent and praiseworthy (Philippians 4:8).
  • We are to guard our minds by not looking at something that will tempt us to stumble (Psalm 119:37).
  • We are to study God’s Word, the “word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15).

Sure, there will be days we fall short, way short. That’s why Paul wrote that the goal here on earth is not perfection but to “press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14).

 

Desiring to Love God More

When we seek to love God with our all, we love him with every part of ourselves. Preacher and poet Isaac Watts expressed this idea eloquently in his closing lines to the hymn “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross.” He develops the idea of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross as the ultimate love. How can our response be anything less than everything?

“Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.”

Lord, may I love you with all that I am, all that I have, and all I can be. 

~ By Kristen of KristenHogrefe.com