Posted in Christian

God Doesn’t Hand Out Crutches

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What is a spiritual crutch?

A spiritual crutch is anything you turn to for comfort, for peace, or for security.

Looking at that basic definition, we may not be quick to say that we use spiritual crutches. By that definition, these crutches sound an awful lot like a false god and we know better than to worship lifeless idols. Don’t we?  But let’s look a little deeper at what they are and see if we don’t have a pair of worn out crutches sitting in our room.

Do you ever turn on the tv in order to find something to distract you from your troubles? The tv has become a spiritual crutch.

Do you ever grab a book to read in order to hide from issues surrounding you?
A book has become a spiritual crutch.

Do you ever create art: paint, draw, knit, color, etc. to escape and unwind?
Art has become a spiritual crutch.

Do you exercise to deal with the things you can’t handle in life?
Exercise has become a spiritual crutch.

Do you eat in order to better handle a bad day?
Eating has become a spiritual crutch.

Clearly, we could go on and on for days but I think you get the point, and maybe by now you even have your finger on the spiritual crutch or crutches in your life.

Why are spiritual crutches wrong?
Spiritual crutches are a problem for the Christian because we are trusting in something to woo us back into our happy places instead of relying on the Living God to do what He said He would do.

Have you noticed that spiritual crutches look an awful lot like hobbies? So…are hobbies sinful? Are we to give up the things that give us pleasure?
Hobbies are not sinful. I believe the Lord gives us desires and talents and allows us to enjoy them. And why wouldn’t He? He gave us taste buds to enjoy food. He gave us the sense of smell to enjoy the wonders around us. He gave us sensual pleasures to enjoy the duty of procreation.
He often showers us with delightful add-ons just because He can and it pleases Him to do so. So what’s the problem with these hobbies-turned-crutches?

The problem is when you turn to your pleasures instead of God when you’re going through difficult times. The problem is when you reach for your “fix” instead of your God.
How often do we say something like, “I’m having a terrible day but a good cup of coffee will make it all better.” Or we might turn up the radio and drown out the sorrows. Let the base rock the tension out of our shoulders.

The problem is not in the things. It’s in our placement of these things. Here’s a good example:
I’m around readers through several social platforms, and I’ve heard this dozens of times. They’ll say something like, “I can’t concentrate on this book I’m reading. It’s a great book, but I have so much going on at home (dog died, sister is in the hospital, child ran away, and they lost their job). I just want to get into a book and get lost. But I can’t and I’m frustrated.”
Of course, they’re frustrated!! Why wouldn’t they be? They’re trying to cover the gaping hole in their heart with a Looney Tunes band-aid! It doesn’t work that way. We don’t work that way. We weren’t created for this at all.

The Lord is our safety net. He is our perfectly sized, never falls off, medicated band-aid. The truth is, you don’t need anything else. You don’t need a backup plan. You don’t need God and that cup of coffee. You don’t need the smell of paints and a little Scripture.

You need to put your focus on Christ and only Christ.
Recite scripture to yourself and see how quickly your day turns around. No need to spend $3.99 for yummy calories.
Sing praises and hymns and watch your mood shift from night to day. You won’t even have to use a bookmark or recharge your kindle.
Read the Bible and notice how clarity floods your soul. You won’t even have to pull out your art supplies.
Pray to the God who is always listening and see how quickly peace enters in. There’s no need to hit the gym again on your way home.

It’s not that hobbies are bad. It’s that we often accept them in place of something so much greater. I’m not suggesting that you stop enjoying things you love. But I am saying that the next time life overwhelms you, turn to God first. Let Him heal you in a way that only He can. THEN enjoy all the extra stuff. You can’t empty your mind by numbing your mind and that’s what these crutches offer. Instead, empty your mind by handing over everything that is bugging you. Hand it over in prayer and turn those prayer requests to praises.

How can I be so sure that God can heal me, mend me, and turn my attitude and my perspective around? Here is just a sampling of what God says in His Word:

Psalm 121: 1,2
“I lift up my eyes to the mountains-where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.”

Psalm 120: 1
“I call on the Lord in my distress, and He answers me.”

Psalm 71:1, 5, 14, 23, 24
“In You, Lord, I have taken refuge; let me never be put to shame…For You have been my hope, Sovereign Lord, my confidence since my youth…As for me, I will always have hope; I will praise You more and more…My lips will shout for joy when I sing praise to You-I whom You have delivered. My tongue will tell of Your righteous acts all day long for those who wanted to harm me have been put to shame and confusion.”

Psalm 62:5-8
“Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from Him. Truly He is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress, I will not be shaken. My salvation and my honor depend on God; He is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in Him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to Him, for God is our refuge.”

Psalm 54:1, 2, 4
“Save me, O God, by Your name; vindicate me by Your might. Hear my prayer, O God; listen to the words of my mouth…Surely God is my help; the Lord is the One who sustains me.”

Psalm 42:5
“Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God.”

Psalm 28:6, 7
“Praise be to the Lord, for He has heard my cry for mercy. The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him and He helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise Him.”

In the face of such evidence, how can we continue to turn to a donut for comfort? All we ever have need of is hidden in Christ. Let us remember this the next time we reach for a crutch. After we have been healed and our hearts are whole, we can enjoy our hobbies. But as believers, we have to stop letting our hobbies become the crutch that allows us to hobble through our day. We were never meant to hobble.

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Posted in Christian

The Truth Behind the SuperMom

SuperMom

The most common question I hear when people find out that I’m a writer and mother of 4 is, “How do you do it all?”

I’ll tell you how: I don’t!!!

I often catch women saying something like this:
“I never have enough time.” Neither do I.
“I feel like I’m spinning in circles.” Yep, me too!
“I clean all the time, but I feel like I never get past the day’s worth of laundry and dishes.” So do I!!

One of the biggest threats to women today is ourselves and how we view other women. Surely this has been a problem over the centuries, but I know it has to be an escalated problem today with our social media options. This is what we see on our newsfeed:
Our friend’s perfect family photo.
Our neighbor’s healthy made-from-scratch dinner.
Our cousin’s perfect marriage.
Our sister’s stunning vacation shots.
Our old classmate’s remodeled kitchen.
Our homeschooling friend’s latest crafts with the kids.

Meanwhile . . .
We’re struggling to get everyone together for a family photo, much less have them in perfectly matched clothing minus the last minute stains.
We’re picking up takeout and stocking up on frozen pizzas.
While we normally get along, we haven’t exactly gotten over that last tiff with the hubby.
We forgot to bring our camera on vacation but had a blast anyway.
Not only is our kitchen in need of new flooring but the dishes are piling up, not in the sink, but on the STOVE! Because those specialized dishes that never make it into the dishwasher, yeah, it turns out they don’t wash themselves.

I’m convinced that one of the biggest problems we have is the ability to take everything we see at face value while focusing on our own shortcomings. We see the perfection in everyone’s lives because it’s what they broadcast so we assume that they have it all together in every other area as well. While on the flipside of that, we can’t help but note every area in our lives that is falling apart or falling behind.

Still not convinced? Let’s try a little experiment . . .

I LOVE to garden! Flower gardens are my favorite. I enjoy vegetable gardening as well. Corn, okra, pumpkin, squash, tomatoes, and peppers . . . I’ve grown them all and I’ve even canned pumpkin and butternut squash from my garden.
Now, I want you to picture my garden. What do you see? Seriously, take a moment to examine what you see in my garden.

Have you mentally examined my garden? If not, I’ll keep waiting . . . If you’re ready, let’s move on.

Now it’s your turn. I want you to picture your own garden. What’s in it? What’s it look like? What do you see?

Waiting . . . waiting . . .

Ok, if you’re ready, let’s compare:
When you imagined my garden, did you see weeds in my garden? Did you see bugs? Did you see half-eaten plants? Did you see animals stealing my veggies?
When you pictured your garden, did you see weeds? Did you see bugs? Did you see half-eaten plants? Did you see the pesky animals attacking your plants?
I’m not a mind reader, but I have a feeling the majority of you saw perfection in my garden while you were immediately reminded of the trouble areas in your own garden. Why is that? You were willing to see perfection in me, assuming that since I’ve done such-and-such that I must have it together in this area as well. Meanwhile, you couldn’t overlook your trouble areas. Why were you being unfair to yourself? Did you think weeds couldn’t grow outside of your yard?
Are you ready for a secret? Everything I wrote about my garden was absolutely true! I DO love to garden. Flower gardens ARE my favorite. I really did grow all of those veggies in my backyard and I have canned the winter squashes. But do you want to know something else? I’ve been too busy the last 4 summers so I haven’t even attempted a garden of any sort. I canned pumpkin one year and loved it, except that I found a black widow spider on one of the pumpkins and haven’t been too keyed up on growing anymore since then. (Judge me if you want. 😉 ) As much as I ADORE flower gardens and it would be my dream to have a really large one that you can walk through and even sit in, I CANNOT grow flowers!!!!! They die. They die so often, that one day when my son was reading his Bible he turned to me and said that I must be related to Cain since my plants are cursed!! LOL I often joke and tell people that I can grow kids and veggies but I can’t grow flowers. As for the vegetable garden . . . no matter how many times I promise myself that I’ll stay on top of the weeds before I know it, the garden is overrun and I’ve given up trying. It’s one of the reasons I stopped gardening. I was tired of seeing the weeds.

Did that little experiment open your eyes to your faulty viewpoint? But now what do you do about it? How do you become the Supermom you were striving for?

You become the Supermom by realizing that there is no such thing.

How do I do it all? Simple: I don’t.
The moment you understand that what you experience on a day to day basis IS normal is the day you set yourself free from this damaging cycle. We put so much pressure on ourselves to measure up to a standard that doesn’t even exist.

Yes, I have four kids. Yes, I work from home. Yes, I have a hectic ball schedule to keep up with while raising 3 boys. But I also have kids that fight. Children that disobey or disrespect. I have a stash of paper plates that I never let run empty. I have frozen pizza on my weekly grocery list. I know which drive-thru window is the fastest in my town. I have a laundry pile that, at times, is taller than my 6-year-old. (And, no, I’m not joking.) Yes, I often have a precarious stack of dishes on the stove that has to be hand-washed. Yes, I feel like I’m falling behind on life. Yes, I lose my keys more times than I can count. Yes, I forget things. No, I don’t get to volunteer at the school like I imagined myself doing. Yes, there are days when I lose my temper. Yes, there are days when I feel like I’ve wasted entire hours of my day. Yes, there are days when I look around and wonder what I had cleaned because I remember doing it but can’t see the results. Yes, I cut corners where I can to save time or my sanity. And, no, I don’t feel bad about that.

I’m not a Supermom because I do everything. I’m a Supermom because I keep getting up in the morning and trying again.

I encourage you to stop judging yourself so harshly. Stop feeling guilty about not checking off every box that YOU set down on your to-do list. Instead, seek God each and every morning. Seek Him each hour. Ask Him to direct your steps that day and put you where HE wants you to serve. If that means, you sit on the couch all day long and watch reruns of Mickey Mouse with your sick child, then don’t let those dirty dishes make you feel guilty about that. Be where GOD wants you to be and stop stressing over what you think you needed to do. Doubt and guilt don’t come from God. God gives us peace, love, and joy. So seek Him and rest, knowing that you’re doing exactly what He wanted from you on that day.
If you trace this problem back far enough, you’ll find pride at the root of it. Is it not pride that urges you to meet the standards of those around you? So treat this as the sin that it is.
It’s time to repent, ladies. I promise you, the moment you do, you’ll find freedom.

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