WFMW: Yes to the Unknown

YesWFMW

I’m happy to welcome this week’s guest post from Tanya for my Wednesday series Yes, Works For Me! Please welcome her and be encouraged by her yes to God and continue to link up what works for you.

I sat across the desk from a caseworker who asked if I would care for my friend’s child. My friend and her husband had made some decisions that compromised their health. While they worked to regain their well-being, their child needed a home.

In the span of moments, I breathed a prayer while dialing my husband. I explained to him the decision we needed to make in the next 60 seconds. He says, “What do you want to do? I’ll back you up, either way.”

I said, “I think we are supposed to do this. Our friends need to see “Jesus with skin on” because they have been lost in a dark, dark place. They need to see the light of Christ standing in the gap, not just someone spouting “I’ll pray for you” platitudes.” My husband agreed.

Kristen says, “There were times it was downright scary and it didn’t feel safe.
Saying yes will cost you something. It will challenge and stretch you.”

I gathered up all of my courage and told the caseworker, “Okay. We’ll keep him.”

unnamed

Those words were my yes. I knew my yes would change things for the toddler we would care for. But I didn’t know my yes would change me, change my husband, change my children – for the better. Those words helped all of us step out of our comfortable, self-absorbed, self-centered, self-entitled suburban way of life.

As Kristen said“This journey has taught me so much about my family.” In the months since we said yes, our family has lost much. We’ve lost hours of sleep. We’ve lost a sippy cup and diaper-free household. We’ve lost a few date nights. We’ve lost carefree, lazy weekends. We’ve lost family vacations.

However, when compared, we have gained so much more. We’ve gained hours of laughter and giggles. We’ve gained an energetic routine. We’ve gained a little firecracker that keeps us on our toes. We’ve gained the wonder of seeing the world through the eyes of a toddler. We’ve gained a common goal that allows us to work together as a family to help others. We’ve gained the knowledge that God gives us what we need, when we ask him for it.

Occasionally, we forget how all of this started. We start worrying about details. We worry about how all of this will turn out in the end. We worry his parents won’t get better and that he will become a ward of the state. And truthfully, some days we worry they will get better and the daily noise and chaos we have come to enjoy will fade away. We worry about what his life and our life will be like when he returns home. We worry about the things we can’t control.

But here’s the deal: when God is in it,
He doesn’t need us to control a thing.”
Kristen Welch, Rhinestone Jesus.

In those moments when we forget, God always finds a way to remind us. He is present. He knows about it all. He’s in control. He reminds us that our job is to trust him and to obey his call – all we have to do is say yes.

Author Bio: Tanya Ehrler is a wife and mother. She spends her days homeschooling her two boys, and tries to live out her life’s motto: Love God, Serve Others, Show the Way.

Tanya blogs at Truly, TexasTanya and writes about family, homeschooling, adoption, foster care, photography and her occasional dabbling in the kitchen.

Facebook

Twitter

____________________


WFMW: The God of Second Chances

YesWFMW

I’m happy to welcome this week’s guest post from Lindsey for my Wednesday series Yes, Works For Me! Please welcome her and be encouraged by her yes to God and continue to link up what works for you.

I’m going to let you in on a little secret…

I was not a good mother. Not for a very long time.

Thankfully, He is a God of second chances.

My second chance started on a rainy, gloomy day. My three-year-old son was sitting in time-out for the fourteenth time…and it was only 9:30am. The house was a mess, breakfast was burnt and I hadn’t taken a shower or changed out of pajamas in days.

As hopeless tears started to fall, I decided to cope with my obvious failures by hiding in my dark closet.

It was day 61 of my being a “stay-at-home” mom.

I had been a career girl. I LOVED my job and the validation it brought me. My work reviews were fantastic and I was well liked. By outward appearances I was successful, happy and fulfilled.

The truth was far from that.

I had neglected my marriage and my children for years. Adultery had also led to the implosion of my marriage, a fact that demanded immediate action before I lost everything. So I left that career and walked into the unknown feeling lost, terrified and stripped of my identity. Those feelings grew as the days passed and I fumbled through trying to knit my marriage and life back together.

In that closet I started whispering a small prayer full of hesitant words to a God I barely knew.

I asked for a second chance, for a sign that He was here in the midst of my painful path of obedience.

I asked for a renewed relationship with my children.

I asked for the undeserved gift of many firsts to come to replace all the ones I had missed.

Almost immediately a sliver of light shone promise across my face, as my son peeked into the closet and said “Mommy? Can I come in?” I nodded my head yes and he sat in my lap, talking about the red fire truck he held in his hand. Sharing how it was his favorite toy and showing me all the cool sounds.

As he rambled on with excitement, it hit me.

This was my first conversation with my son that did not involve me yelling at him to be quiet, to obey, or to go away.

Tears started falling again, only this time they were full of joy. God was already giving me a second chance — my first “first” — simply because I had asked.

I’m going to let you in on another little secret…

I am a good mother. And have been for a very long time.

While my path has been filled with bad decisions and sorrowful mistakes, I am confident that I am now an equipped mother loved by a glorious God and am reminded of His love to me every time a new “first” occurs.

My prayer for you is to remember God’s presence in YOUR mess.

He is the God of second chances. And He is waiting to give you yours.

 

Bio:

LH Bio Pic.jpgLindsey believes God-inspired words have the power to bring hope and healing to a broken world. She spends her days loving her family, listening to classical music, pretending to clean, writing to God and helping authors create and share life-changing messages.

Facebook

Twitter


WFMW: Say Yes to Your God-Sized Adventure Today

YesWFMW

I’m happy to welcome this week’s guest post from Kari for my Wednesday series Yes, Works For Me! Please welcome her and be encouraged by her yes to God and continue to link up what works for you.

Twenty-two years ago, I didn’t have a clue how to say yes.

For me, life was all about maintaining a well-organized home, driving a new minivan, enjoying the perks of being a stay-at-home mom, vacationing to beautiful places, and trying my best to make my children happy all. of. the. time. I loved providing them with the pleasures of a comfortable life with the best toys, activities, and experiences.

But, if you peeled back the layers you would have found a mom who was self-centered, overly busy, stressed, and unhappy. I was messy on the inside. I wasn’t feeling satisfied. I didn’t feel adequate in any area of my life. But, I was too embarrassed to admit I was a mess, even to myself.

During this season, I delivered my son at 21 weeks gestation, who took his last breath in my arms and with his death, I lost all the hopes and dreams I had for him and my family. I found myself depressed without a purpose in my life. I was lost in my sorrow. I felt like I was failing miserably as a wife and mom.

“God uses our brokenness for His purpose. What He puts back together heals stronger.” #RhinestoneJesus

As God started healing my heart, He started to challenge me in ways I had never experienced before. To my surprise, He put in my heart a desire to adopt. My focus started to shift from people, places, and things to surrendering my heart. As we began to say yes to God as a couple, our dreams began to change for our family. In 2008, we adopted the most beautiful baby girl, Zoie Senait from Ethiopia.

However, it was unnerving feeling unsatisfied living the “yuppy” lifestyle. How was this possible? We had already shared 16 comfortable years in our marriage, but God started to convict us to fully surrender to Him.

It was a tough battle and I fought it every step of the way. I questioned God. We already adopted our daughter from Ethiopia…what more could you possibly want from us? (What a dangerously stupid thing to ask God)

“Hardships in life shape us, struggles define us, and both ultimately prepare us for the future God is calling us to.” Kristen Welch

God was faithful and He started prying every single one of my fingers off the stuff I was clinging so tightly to. But, I still wasn’t willing to say yes with full abandonment.

  • I didn’t want to let go of my home.
  • I didn’t want to let go of my comfort.
  • I didn’t want to let go of my husband’s salary.
  • I didn’t want to let go of my stuff.

When you surrender fully to God’s calling, you must be willing to give up your lifestyle, your reputation, your everything. When you give God control, He must take ALL of it. You have to give Him your mess.

As my hubby and I started sayings yes, God started us off on a new adventure. We spent the next 5 years leading mission teams to love big on orphans. We built up our ministries, Simply Love and Man Up and Go. Our passion was living out-loud James 1:27. But, He wanted more from us.

If God asks you to let it go– do it! Be obedient. Do good. In 1 Timothy 6:18 Jesus requires us to be rich in good works, be generous, and ready to serve.

We said yes again, and sold our home, quit our day job, sold our stuff, and started on a radical God-sized adventure that transformed our family forever.

We lived in three 3rd world countries for 15 months. First, we served in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia serving a slum community and leper colony. Next, we spent 2 months in rural Haiti living in an orphanage and sharing the gospel to the lost and caring for the sick. Finally, we headed to Nicaragua hosting mission teams, loving big at a re-nutritional orphanage, and building homes in the poorest communities.

Honestly, our time living abroad were some of the best days and some of the messiest days of my life. I felt vulnerable at every turn.

We are now back living in the states, and my husband has a new job with a bigger platform than we could have ever imagined to reach men, women, and families world-wide to live for Jesus. Together, we are sharing our story to encourage others to serve the Great Commission, be lovers of Jesus, and loving people.

unnamed

So, how do you say yes to a God-sized dream?

Here Are 7 Ways to Say Yes…Today:

  1. Pray Through: Pray like your whole life depends on it. Start asking God to transform your heart to be a lover of Him and prepare for God to change everything, your dreams, hopes, desires, and passions. If you ask, He will be faithful. There is nothing He won’t provide for you to live the purpose He created for your life. Remember, prayer is also listening to the Holy Spirit’s leading. You don’t want to head off in the wrong direction.
  2. Commit to Fasting: This is one of the most important things you can do to prepare you soul, mind, and heart to say yes. When you take the time to give up something (like food) and focus with prayer and fasting, God WILL reveal his power and miracles to you.
  3. Make Sacrifices: What are you willing to give up? It doesn’t mean you have to sell your home and give away all your stuff, but it does mean you will make sacrifices to say yes. It does mean you will live obediently, no matter what the cost may be. Watch out! When you are willing to give everything up to serve and love Him, God will change everything.
  4. Take Action: Real action takes movement and when it’s time to move forward, DO IT AFRAID and move! If we aren’t willing to jump in the adventure with both feet, we miss out on the plans He sets in motion for us. If we move too slow, we find ourselves slacking back into old habits, old fears, and old living.
  5. Remember His Grace: Here’s the thing, we will always be messy. We are sinful by nature and will constantly, consistently, and miserably fail. Grace is the gift of favor and love from Jesus because we don’t deserve His love. We don’t deserve His undeserving redemption. I don’t know about you, but that takes the pressure off all our big fat failures.
  6. Remember the Battle: Satan wants to discourage us, make us feel like failures. He kills our dreams, steals our ambitions, and destroys our spirits. It’s not God that’s not putting us back in the game, it’s us allowing satan to keep us out of the game through what he does in our minds, filling our thoughts with despair, guilt, shame, loneliness, and failure. Take every thought captive! (2 Corinthians 10:5)
  7. Make Jesus Famous: Give Him full control of your life. Say YES right now– today to follow Him the rest of your life. Full surrender. Complete obedience. Every adventure will be different. Look different. But, it will be a God-sized adventure. Nothing is better than loving and knowing Jesus.

Sisters, our “stuff” was never designed to make us happy. Our joy does not come from materialistic things. True joy comes from saying YES to serving and loving and caring and blessing and helping others with your gifts, talents, and passions.

 

unnamed-1Bio: Kari Gibson is the proud daughter of marriage and parenting guru, Gary Smalley. She learned at an early age how to dream big and pray bold and love people. She is the author of four children’s books, Mookie’s Secret, The Very Scary Cave, Mookie and the Too-Proud Peacock, and Mookie the Berry Bandit.

She has spent the past 6 years leading mission teams to Haiti, Uganda, and Ethiopia mobilizing others to go and love and serve big. She married her high school sweetheart, Roger, who is the senior director of adult and family ministries for Assemblies of God. Roger & Kari live in Springfield, MO with their three super-kids Michael, Hannah, and Zoie.

Kari blogs at My Crazy Adoption and writes about everyday life–marriage, family, parenting, faith, adoption, orphan care, and all the other things that celebrate the craziness of life and loving big.


WFMW: The Hardest Yes of Motherhood

YesWFMW

I’m happy to welcome this week’s guest post from Erin for my Wednesday series Yes, Works For Me! Please welcome her and be encouraged by her yes to God and continue to link up what works for you.

The word “mess” is a familiar one to me. I’ve never been the best at keeping things well organized, but add three boys and all the Legos that come along with them, and I’m usually surrounded by messes. When I read the concept of saying “yes in my mess” in Kristen’s book I thought, “I can do that. I’ve been doing that for years.”

It turns out our messes aren’t always just physical, though, and it is often the relational, spiritual, and emotional messes that prevent us from saying yes more often to God and His plans for us.

I’m writing this during a break in packing my oldest son for camp. He’s eight and this is his first year going to church camp three hours away from home for four days. This may have been my hardest “yes” as a parent so far, and not just because I’m going to miss him or because he’ll be so far away and I worry.

Erin Yes In My Mess Post

My relationship with my eight-year-old has been quite messy for the past year or so. I am sure it’s not that much out of the ordinary. Many other moms of eight-year-old boys have reassured me of this. I asked his permission before telling this story because it is his story as well, but honestly, I don’t know if he feels the mess between us as much as I do.

The relational tension between us is two-sided, but I’m owning up to my part today. I’m creating a lot of mess with my own expectations and a desire to hold on to control of my family. Yuck. I hate to admit that, but this is where my “yes” came in to play.

Several months ago, my firstborn came home from AWANA talking about church camp and how he was finally old enough to go. “Can I go?! PLEASE?!” I was happy to hear him excited, but my mind quickly swirled with thoughts of him being too young and not ready and the camp being too long and too far away. This seemed like something very much out of my control.

Besides the control thing, I couldn’t help but think about where our relationship as mother and son was…and how I didn’t want it to be this way just before he left to be on his own for the first time. I had to make the decision to send him to camp or not in the middle of that mess. This was just about the time I was reading Rhinestone Jesus. As I wrestled with this balance of feeling God leading me to let my boy go and the feeling that I wanted our relationship to be “right” before I released him, I read this…

“God didn’t wait for me to get my life together before I said yes – He accepted my willingness in the middle of my mess.”

That’s just what I did. I said yes in the middle of my mess. I’m not writing this to tell you what happened on the other side. We’ve been working on my expectations and his respect for me, both making progress but with lots of room to grow. He leaves for camp tomorrow morning and I really have no idea what God will do through this. I only know He is working on me through this whole experience, asking me to let go so that He can shine. And I trust that He will.

“God wants us right in the middle of our mess because it’s the perfect place for Him to shine through our imperfections.”

 

 

Erin Mohring enjoys life in Nebraska with her husband of 11 years and their three boys, as well as reading, running, and movie nights with her guys. She writes at Home with the Boys and is the co-founder of The MOB Society, a site for moms of boys, by moms of boys.


WFMW: Why this Mother is Moving to Uganda {Giveaway}

YesWFMW

 

I’m happy to welcome this week’s guest post from Emily for my Wednesday series Yes, Works For Me! Please welcome her and be encouraged by her yes to God and continue to link up what works for you.

I wore Africa on my feet when I was three.

I wore it red on my soles, padding softly across the dirt to stare through the wire fence at neighbors dressed in bright prints and singing deep songs from somewhere low, their hips swaying as they washed dishes and clothes in the sun, in bubbles in a bucket.

 

Kristen Welch

The same kind of bucket I bathed in with my brother who was borne premature in the Congo, and our house was made of cement and my crib covered in mosquito netting, the legs of the crib in bowls of water to keep the tarantulas from climbing.

We ate mangoes, fallen red and plump on the ground by the garden where Mum grew legumes and squash and she canned those mangoes and we spread them on homemade bread.

I stopped talking when we moved to Africa and didn’t say a single word while I lived there. I just laughed and all those words, they got caught in my throat and then we went back to Canada when I was four.

And they said we were home but I didn’t see it. Because home wasn’t white and cold, it was red dirt roads and hot like the sun, and I’ve spent my whole life trying to get back there.

I’ve spent my whole life trying to find home.

I tried to find it in an eating disorder when I was nine because even though I’d found my voice I wasn’t allowed to say what I needed to. We were pastor’s kids and we moved a lot, we were home-schooled and I was the eldest of four, and my Dad was always at church and I didn’t have any friends, so I stopped eating.

And even after I nearly died at sixty pounds, and the nurses said I was a miracle and I began to believe in God, it wasn’t enough and I couldn’t leave our house fast enough at eighteen.

Searching the whole globe for home, but I never made it back to Africa.

Not until this January, when I went on a bloggers trip to Uganda and that red dirt, how it clung to my soles.

I embraced every bright-clad woman I saw, every child, and I couldn’t stop holding the people because they were family.

But my family was hurting.

They wouldn’t say it. They just hugged me and moved over so I could sit with them in the dirt, in their life, and hold their babies.

And even though I visited Rwanda too, it was Uganda which wrapped my heart tight like Kikoyi, an African cloth, and I was there for three and a half days.

I took Uganda back with me on the plane, I took it sobbing and restless and wrecked for the abandoned babies I’d seen, for the slums with their cardboard walls and the hunger, and the child-headed households and the thirst—the hospital that had no well, the kids who had no school to attend or shoes to wear, I took it all home, and I fell on my face every night begging God to show me what to do.

And he said to this girl who hadn’t spoken until she was four, “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” (Proverbs 31:8-9)

The Lulu Tree is a name God gave me before I knew it was a real tree in Uganda, a Shea nut tree which produces fruit, as the website says, in the people’s exact time of seasonal hunger. Lulu means pearl in Swahili, and Uganda is the pearl of Africa, and we have no plan except to be like Jesus.

To feed beans and to read a Bible story. My friend Joy is our hands and feet in Kampala, she lives there with her family and she is overseeing a team of nationals who will minister to the mamas and children in the slums of Katwe.

And in four years, in September of 2018, my husband, kids and I will be moving to Uganda for one year to serve alongside Joy.

God whispered it to me when I left for Uganda in January: “Your job is not to fix. I could fix the world with one breath. Your job is to love.”

I hear this every time I fall on the floor in the dark begging God to help those children, the ones sniffing glue to numb their hunger, the ones lying in the same dirt chickens defecate on.

All we have is a pot of beans and a Bible. But it’s our loaves and fishes. And we’re trusting Christ for a miracle.

 

268386_Wierenga_WB

My memoir, ATLAS GIRL, is releasing this month, and I am excited to give away FIVE copies today. Just leave a comment below to win!

From the back cover:

“Disillusioned and yearning for freedom, Emily Wierenga left home at age eighteen with no intention of ever returning. Broken down by organized religion, a childhood battle with anorexia, and her parents’ rigidity, she set out to find God somewhere else–anywhere else. Her travels took her across Canada, Central America, the United States, the Middle East, Asia, and Australia. She had no idea that her faith was waiting for her the whole time–in the place she least expected it.

“Poignant and passionate, Atlas Girl is a very personal story of a universal yearning for home and the assurance that we are known, forgiven, and beloved. Readers will find in this memoir a true description of living faith as a two-way pursuit in a world fraught with distraction. Anyone who wrestles with the brokenness we find in the world will love this emotional journey into the arms of the God who heals all wounds.”

Click HERE for a free excerpt.

I’m also giving away a FREE e-book to anyone who orders Atlas Girl. Just order HERE, and send a receipt to: atlasgirlbookreceipt@gmail.com, and you’ll receive A House That God Built: 7 Essentials to Writing Inspirational Memoir an absolutely FREE e-book co-authored by myself and editor/memoir teacher Mick Silva.

Atlas Girl_700x175_2

ALL proceeds from Atlas Girl will go towards my non-profit, The Lulu Tree. The Lulu Tree is dedicated to preventing tomorrow’s orphans by equipping today’s mothers. It is a grassroots organization bringing healing and hope to women and children in the slums of Uganda through the arts, community, and the gospel.
64519_10153705975080099_2037134714_n
Bio: Emily T. Wierenga is an award-winning journalist, blogger, commissioned artist and columnist, as well as the author of five books including the memoir, Atlas Girl: Finding Home in the Last Place I Thought to Look (Baker Books). She lives in Alberta, Canada with her husband and two sons. For more info, please visit www.emilywierenga.com. Find her on Twitter or Facebook.