Monday, August 31, 2009

Moms Have Dreams, Too

As a mom of 3 young children, my life revolves around…um…kids. Yep, kid stuff reigns in the Mathews household. Any given day finds me making multiple PB&J sandwiches, vacuuming crushed Fruit Loops out of my couch (I know, the health food of champions), hunting for shoes, picking up toys as I walk up the stairs, depositing said toys in appropriate places, explaining why “I’m sorry and I’ll never do it again” is the correct follow-up to stealing your brother’s special lovey, scrutinizing a 3-yr-old brushing her teeth, enforcing the completion of homework…I could go on.

Each of the above activities does have significance—I know that, in my more adult moments. Being Mommy means I am the most important person in three little people’s worlds right now. The Mommy role is a life-long privilege. Yet when the totality of my day or week consists of diapers, discipline, and domestic duty, yanking my hair out and screaming (in the privacy of my own closet, of course) seems a reasonable response. Please, somebody tell me there is more to life during these “MOPS” years! Or must I wait until those days are over before I can pursue other, non-mommy-type dreams?

I have a theory that the demands of motherhood are not the primary reason moms defer long-held dreams. What else might be holding us back?

Fear? (What if I fail?)

Distraction? (Life with kids is already too much to handle.)

Guilt? (You mean have a life outside of my family? Take time away from serving them?)

God desires us to follow him with our entire being. “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart….” (Col. 3:23). That word for “all your heart” is “psuche” in Greek, translated psyche. It means passionately, heartily, with fire, energy, determination, all-out effort. Its source is our life-giver—God! So mothers are to love and serve their children with passion, joy, and commitment. Women, many of whom are also mothers, must follow the dream or purpose that God has for them with the same soul-energy. This God-given drive will propel them—us—into another arena of fulfillment, to become another means by which He can be glorified. He gave us gifts and abilities beyond mothering, and He wants us to use them wisely.

I’ve felt that pull to do something more during these pre-school years. God has dropped in my lap countless opportunities to pursue ministry through my gifts in writing, teaching, and leading. If I were to ignore those abilities and not pursue those occasions to use them for His glory, I would be disobedient. Unfulfilled. Dissatisfied. Maybe even unhappy at some level.

And my children would miss out on countless teachable moments if I focused solely on them. Sounds contradictory, but stick with me. I recently joined a group of other women—many of them mothers—on a mission trip across the country. Some of them struggled to leave their families for six days, but they believed in our group’s purpose of communicating God’s love, verbally and physically, to women living in an urban shelter.

We were all thrilled to see our kids when we returned. Some of those children were old enough to understand that their moms were serving God somewhere other than at home.

Even better—why not drag your kids along, if your activities allow? Include them in your preparation and brainstorming. Invite them in to a larger purpose than meeting their needs. Can they help you decide which orphan you may adopt through Compassion International? Can they help you shop for Operation Christmas Child? Maybe the older one can babysit the younger while you are leading a local writer’s group. They can attend weekly bible studies that you teach.

Each mom has a unique dream or purpose beyond her kids. For Jen, it’s missions. She’s making it happen even with toddlers at home. For Anna, it’s mentoring urban youth—hauling her 18-month-old with her to monthly gatherings. For Marty, it’s turning her organizational skills into a home business to help other moms who struggle with the domestic side of homemaking. Each dream is different; each is sacred.

Children learn healthy, godly living when they see that mom’s purpose in life is serving God, not them. Pour your heart into those diapers, discipline, and domestic duties when the moments call for it. But don’t forget to devote time and energy—your heart—to the other dream(s) God has given you. Your life doesn’t start after motherhood—motherhood is only part of God’s plan for you.

What’s your dream?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Why Should I Join A Bible Study?????

For the past two weeks I have been thinking about what I was going to write for my post on the blog this week. Well, with a newborn, last week suddenly turns into this week, this week turns into yesterday and then before I know it Thursday is here!

There were several topics that kept coming to me over the past few weeks. I even got my notebook out and started writing. As I started thinking on Wednesday it came to me - I would do what we women do best - I would write today just as if we were carrying on a conversation face to face.

This is the last week at our church to sign up for Women's Fall Bible Studies. If you are asking yourself "Why Do I Need To Do A Bible Study", I can give you a few reasons.

1. To Get In God's Word
I don't know about you but I can tell a huge difference in my life if I am not studying and reading my Bible. Getting in the Word is also how you learn more about Him. Compare it to meeting a new friend. If you never talk with this person do you ever learn anything about this person? Does your relationship with this person ever become more than an acquaintance? If you are not in God's Word then how are you deepening your relationship with Him? The Bible tells us in Ephesians 6:10 "Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes." Believe me, Satan knows where we are weak and that is where he will try and get example in my own life is that I have the tendency to be a worrier. I know that we should not worry (Matthew 6:25-34) Well, add together my worry tendencies, running on very little sleep, since I did just have a baby add the hormones to that and what do you get - someone that worries and then fear starts creeping in....2 Timothy 1:7 tells us God has not given us the spirit of fear...I know that I need my full armor on right now...

2. Friendships
A group of ladies and I started a Bible Study three years ago. It worked best for us to meet every other week rather than every week. Here we are three years later still meeting. I think there were 11 or 12 ladies in the Bible study originally and 5 of us are still in the people have joined the group in the past few years and friendships have grown during this time. I think when we start back next month there will be 11 ladies ready to study together. When one of us has a prayer request we know that these ladies are just an email away. The relationships you can build with Godly women is priceless.

If you are not already in a Bible study I urge you to find one to join. It will change your life!

Monday, August 24, 2009


Job 10:12a says; You have granted me life and favor.

It is August 11, 2009 as I type this entry. This morning in my quiet time, the Lord told me that my obedience to Him will grant me favor with Him. I heard Him say that whatever it is I am in need of, He has. All I have to do is ask Him. Of course in making my request known to Him, I need to be sure that I am in the right position with Him. The Lord told me this morning that in my obedience, He will surely grant me the desires of my heart. There is no request too large for Him to handle. He's God!

I begin to cry as I thought about how simple that is and how pushed back I am. I thought about how many times the Lord has granted me full access and I didn't take Him up on His offer. Not saying that God takes back, He never does that, but He is not going to force anything on me.

I sat in my bed thinking about how many times I have messed up, gone without for being so stubborn, and nearly lost the very things that He has already blessed me with. How many times I have gone against His will and yet He still calls my name. He loves me, He loves you, and no matter what you or I do, that will never change. His love is everlasting and I thank Him.

My mother taught us that when you are given something, a gift of any kind, accept it and appreciate it. Even if it's not "you" and the thing that you would have picked out for yourself, love it. For it's not so much as loving the gift, but loving the giver.

John 3:16, a very familiar scripture says: For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son. That whosoever believeth on Him should not perish but have everlasting life. Talk about favor. The ultimate form of favor.

God gave His son Jesus to me! He loved me so much that He gave me all He had in the form of His son. His son then gave His life so that I may have life through him. Oh how I love Jesus, Oh how I love Jesus, Oh, how I love Jesus, because He first loved me.

There is a name I love to hear
I love to sing its worth
It sounds like music in my ear
The sweetest name on earth.

Lord, I thank You for granting me life and favor. I thank You because I know it is not because of anything I have done or will ever do, but only because of Your love for me. I bless Your Holy name Father.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Do Hard Things: A Book Review

Alex and Brett Harris are twin teenage brothers that recently wrote a book called “Do Hard Things.” They founded the website That’s right, rebelution. A made up word they invented by combining rebellion and revolution to form a new word for an entirely new concept: rebelling against rebellion. More precisely, they define rebelution as ‘a teenage rebellion against low expectation.”

You may have heard them recently on Focus on the Family discussing their book. The message is simple, but far too often overlooked in society today: rebel against low expectations. This book is targeted squarely at teens, though I can not deny that the message impacts other generations, especially a mother with two young girls headed for the teenage years faster than I thought. I was inspired and energized by what God is doing with this book. It made me think, ‘how can I do hard things as a Christian, wife, mom and teacher to teenagers.'

In their book these teenagers challenge other teens to try to do five kinds of hard things. They are: to go outside your comfort zone, to go beyond what is expected or required, to rebel against the idea that things are too big for one person, to do things that don’t earn an immediate payoff, and to challenge the cultural norm.

These five simple but power-packed ideas can shape the next generation to do great things for God. This book is written in teenage vernacular with the ‘like you knows’ and small paragraphs easy for any teen to read and digest. I love the fact these Godly authors are challenging a whole generation of young people to use their lives to do the hard things God calls them to do when society begs to avoid hard and protect their comfort. I pray that the teen years are only the beginning, only the foundation, of lives lived to the glory of God.
If you have a teen, know a teen or will be having a teen, I encourage you to pick up a copy of “Do Hard Things.” May the world be forever changed by doing hard things for the glory of God.

Have a great day,

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Double Digit Trip

As I look toward the beginning of yet another school year, I reflect on this past summer. It has been one filled with great times and some difficult challenges. GOD has been present in all. I am especially reminded of one day when His presence taught a very special lesson to one of our precious daughters.
Our middle daughter (Yes. I said MIDDLE. Some people steer clear of this word, but our family embraces it. GOD placed her in this position and she wears it proudly. We say she is the only one in the family GOD has chosen to be both a little sister and an older sister! What a place of honor!) turned 10. Or as we call it, she hit the double digits! In our family this means you get to go on a trip with Mom- The Double Digit Trip. So we planned the trip, made all the necessary arrangements and took off for a great adventure. We were about 15 minutes from home when our car started making a funny sound. So we prayed and asked GOD to take care of us and the car. My daughter has great faith and we both prayed this prayer believing GOD would answer it. The noise stopped. Out trip continued. A few minutes later, we had a blow out. We easily pulled into a new large gas station. My wonderful husband was ready to come. However, we were in a hurry and ready to get on with our day, so I asked him to let me get someone to help us change our tire rather than wait for him to drive to meet us. Holding my daughter's hand, I looked at one man as his car neared ours . . . and he drove right on past us! Then another man drove past us! Then a man walked out holding a coke, I knew he would help us. Our tire was shredded and had marked all over my car. It was obvious we needed help and this tire change was going to take more than just me doing it! He got in his car and drove away. It was Saturday morning, these men were in shorts, where were they going?!!! What had happened to chivalry? My husband always helps change tires, jump start cars, etc. We are teaching our son to help others- especially ladies. (We will also teach our daughters to change tires.) I was shocked that no one would help us. Maybe my next blog will be on raising boys to be gentlemen. Back to the tire situation in a minute . . .

The goal of the Double Digit Trip is a fun time celebrating the child turning 10. We focus on the child's interests and go for it. It doesn't necessarily mean shopping, but spending time and hanging out. I did, though, want to buy my daughter a treat on this trip. She is not a kid who asks for things or even likes to shop. So, I truly wanted to surprise her with something. When I told her this the morning of the trip, she could not come up with one thing she wanted. I was a little sad, but hiding my disappointment, I told her we would find a gift that would mean something to her. I never knew how GOD would do this . . .

Frustrated and not wanting to wait for my husband to drive to help us, I asked my daughter to pray with me again. We thanked GOD for protecting us during the blowout. Then we asked GOD to send us someone to help us change the tire. We claimed it in the "Name of JESUS." Then I told her we were going to go inside the gas station store and ask someone to help us. As we came close to the door a young man pulled up in his work truck and began walking toward the door with us. I smiled and asked him if he would help us change a tire. I knew he would. He said yes. I asked my daughter if she knew what the logo on his truck and shirt meant. She said, "I have no idea what GoodYear means." I told her it is a tire company. The GOD of the Universe sent a man from a tire company to help us change our tire! We praised GOD together! We also told the wonderful young man that he had been prayed for and was an answer to our prayer. He refused payment, but we snuck some money in his shirt pocket as a reminder of GOD's provision. We also called his boss to tell him what a great employee he had.

Now all of this matters why? GOD gave our daughter a gift for her Double Digit Birthday. No, not the gift I had wanted to buy her that day, but a lasting gift. A gift that would matter to her. A gift that would remind her for the rest of her life of the presence of her Heavenly Father at all times in big and small ways.

GOD has shown up in my life in astouding ways that would amaze people and fill blog after blog. But He has also shown up in my life in quiet unassuming ways that are not grandiose (to others) and do not have wild or fun stories. But, He has always "shown up." He never leaves. He just wants permission to be present, to act, and to be on the throne of our life.

"I thank you GOD for giving our daughter this gift on her birthday. I ask that we all remember your presence is a daily gift to us. Let us know you more as we love you and live in your presence."


"You will fill me with joy in your presence."

Psalm 16:11

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Garden Friends

The pastor of our church and his family were given a difficult burden to carry last year. Over the course of several months, many Sundays we were reminded how important the church family and other close friends were for them during their tough time. One phrase my pastor repeatedly used was "garden friends," which refers to Jesus' time in the Garden of Gethsemane when he took Peter, James, and John with him after having told the other disciples, "Sit here while I go over there and pray." (Matthew 26:36-37)

Though there were 11 disciples (friends) with Jesus at this time (Judas had already left to betray Him), He only asked 3 of them to go with Him in those final moments before His arrest. These were Jesus' closest friends.

As women I think we often long for these close friendships. We want to have someone to understand us; someone we can cry and laugh with; someone who we can call in the middle of the night when needed--not that any of our earthly relationships are perfect, but they are important. We long for Proverbs 17:17 to be true in our own lives: A friend loves at all times.

But some of us (myself definitely included) let ourselves get busy, and we don't nurture these God-given friendships. We let ourselves get caught up in our children, our husband/boyfriend, our work, our school, and we let our friendships slip away.

I had a friend call this week who I hadn't spoken to (other than via Facebook or e-mail) in probably a year. Listening to her sweet voice reminded me of what a precious prayer partner and friend she is to me, and it left me longing for more "stolen moments" to keep up with her. It reminded me how God had blessed me with that friendship and how I was missing out by letting it fade away.

In light of all of these thoughts, I have a birthday in a few days, and I have decided not to let it just pass by. I have invited some of my favorite people, definitely including some of my "garden friends," to go to dinner with me to celebrate--not to celebrate me, but to celebrate our friendship.

I am thankful for God's reminder to me this week: Friends are a gift from God, and I hope all of you are able to celebrate yours today.

*And if any of you are longing for those friendships, but don't know where to turn, here are some helpful links:
MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers)
Women's Bible studies (at FBC McKinney)
Early Angels

Monday, August 10, 2009

The Voice

I'll be honest... writing a blog entry was the last thing on my mind today. Having just returned from a ten-day adventure in Colorado with my family, I was heading toward (I thought) only dinner, laundry and sleep! After a quick glance at the blog calendar, I quickly figured out that- Yikes!- yes, it truly is my turn to write. Today!

The funny thing is, I didn't feel an all-too-familiar sense of panic creeping in. I felt a deep, inner calm and I immediately knew what I would share today.

You see, ten short days ago, my family and I headed off into beautiful southwestern Colorado with a group of friends, nine motorcycles, and one van. A loose itinerary and a huge dependence on God-- that He would keep us safe and show us the way.

What I did not expect was just how awesomely He would reveal Himself to us through His majestic creations.. through Nature itself. From our drive into Amarillo, Texas on the first stormy night of the trip where we saw dramatic lightning strikes across the landscape as far as our eyes could see... to playful chipmunks playing near waterfalls who would come eat directly from our hands... to our unforgettable visit to the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, where we could have watched the light play for hours across the striped canvas of the Painted Wall. Through all of these things and many more... we felt God there with us.

We were reminded just how small we are in the grand scheme of things, and yet how very much we matter to God, as He took care of us in even the smallest of details. We watched almost zero television, heard little radio, were generally "unplugged" from life as usual. And when all the noise of life fell away... we could hear His voice so clearly.

We've only been home a few hours, and yet already, life is coming at us fast & furiously. I am going to try my hardest this week to keep that calmness, that stillness with me. To keep hearing God's voice so clearly. To focus on Him so completely that all else dims in comparison.

I urge you to do the same. When things are becoming too much this week, take a moment to find a quiet corner, read your Bible, thank Him for all He continually is in your life.

I have been reminded so many times in these past days on the road, of Casting Crowns' beautiful song, "The Voice of Truth". Please click on the link, take a listen and not just to their song.... but to The Voice.

I pray that each of you reading would hear the Voice of Truth today. May God bless you.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

God's Will

Phillipians 4:6-7 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

As I continue to ponder Balance, I keep coming back to peace. Last month, I ended my blog thoughts with Paul's exhortation to pray without ceasing. Phillipians adds that the God of peace will be with me to guard my heart and mind, when I pray and let His will be mine. How do I know if I am in God's will?

Take a look at these thoughts from Shelly Radic, Director of Ministry Life at MOPS International:

Years ago, tuning in to a television show meant walking up to the television and adjusting antennae until the picture and sound came into focus. Tuning in required a physical engagement unknown to current viewers. Today, we sit at a distance and with the click of the remote, control everything- volume, channel, brightness. Tuning in is easy.

We often expect to hear God in the same way. We sit at a distance, fire off a prayer and expect God to instantaneously fill our minds with a clear picture of his perspective on a situation. And when that doesn’t happen, we wonder why we aren’t hearing from God.

Hearing God’s perspective involves engagement with him. To know his perspective requires moving ourselves mentally into his presence, acknowledging that we are always physically in his presence, and adjusting our thoughts and daily activities until his voice is our primary focus. Tuning in to God often requires that we tune out all the other voices clamoring for our attention.

John 10:2-5 says The man who enters by the gate is the shepherd of his sheep. 3The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. 5But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger's voice."

How do the sheep know where the shepherd is leading them?
Why don’t they follow a stranger?
What voices are most familiar to you?
How might these voices make it difficult for you to hear God?

Daniel was a busy leader, with many voices speaking to him every day.
Daniel 6:10-11, Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before. 11 Then these men went as a group and found Daniel praying and asking God for help.

How will you organize your day to ensure God’s voice is increasingly familiar? The sheep in John 10 and Daniel, the busy leader, could each follow God because they were familiar with his voice.

In Psalm 48:14, God promises to be our guide forever! I think of how He sent the pillar of fire by night and a cloud by day to the Israelites to let them know when to move. I don't need to pray every day and ask God, "Am I still in your will? Am I still where you want me to be?" The Holy Spirit is even better than a cloud. It is God in us, His very presence. I have learned that when He wants me to move, God will move the "cloud" -- change the circumstances, present a different opportunity, allow a crisis to occur, inspire anger or passion about something, reveal or validate the same thing over and over again in different ways.

Romans 12:2 says Do not conform any longer 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. You might be surprised where God's will leads you, but it is the safest place to be.

As a postscript, I found this video by Martina McBride, that I had to share! It's called God's Will Be sure to get out the tissues before you listen.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Rethinking Ruth

Ruth has always been held up as one of those "quiet, godly women" who did the right thing, followed the rules, fell into a beautiful love story, and lived happily ever after.

I don't think so.

Let's spin her story with a few facts: The eventual great-grandmother of King David converted from a child-sacrificing religion to a self-sacrificing faith in Yahweh. When she made the jump (see Ruth 1:16), she gave up everything--family, heritage, culture, people, comfort, security, home--in exchange for an adopted God, an ungrateful mother-in-law, a new land and people, potential rejection, struggle, and hard work.

Upon arriving in her new town, she challenged the local landowner to "walk his talk" by allowing her to work his fields. She harvest grain by hand daily, sometimes hauling home 30 to 60 pounds on her back. She later challenged the landowner to obey his God by providing for his relatives through marriage. Yes, she proposed to him! And when she gave birth to her first son, she gave him over to the care of that now grateful mother-in-law.

Consider the followng commentary:

"Careful reexamination of the Hebrew text has effectively removed the shrink-wrap that for generations has encased Ruth. She emerges, not as the passive, deferential, demure woman we once thought we knew, but as a surprisingly gutsy risk taker. The young Moabite widow discards cultural protocol, her own hopes of happiness, and even plain reason when she embraces Naomi's terrifying God and binds herself for life to her mother-in-law. In one pivotal moment, Ruth's identity and center of gravity change forever. The rest of her story is a stunning (and at times shocking) chronicle of her efforts to live out what it means to be Yahweh's child."
Carolyn Custis James, The Gospel of Ruth
Becoming a child of Yahweh--and these days, we tend to call ourselves followers of Jesus, or Christians--involves more than saying a prayer and getting dunked. God expects action to follow faith. Ruth certainly lived her faith, dramatically! We are called to do the same: "serve one another," "love one another," "take up your cross and follow Me," "visit the sick, clothe the naked, feed the hungry," "if you love Me you'll do what I command you," "submit to one another," "forgive as I have forgiven you," "preach the Word," "go and make disciples"...
Yes, the Christian life resembles Ruth's life. It's full of risks, challenges, hard work, and sacrifice. It's full of grace, reward, blessing, joy, and peace.
It's worth it!

To those Stitches readers in the Collin County/McKinney area: FBC McKinney's women's ministry will be offering a 5-week study of Ruth starting in September 2009. Visit for details on how to register. We'll work through Sandra Glahn's Coffee Cup Bible study, Premium Roast with Ruth, with a healthy dose of James's The Gospel of Ruth as a supplement. Join us!