PRN

Pause. Renew. Next.

Author: Ginny Detweiler (Page 1 of 15)

Layers of Healing

Sometimes I think and write in layers. Please indulge me while I take you on a journey down three layers of a story.

Layer one: We have been battling fleas all summer. First, we noticed the problem with our cat. She received a flea treatment at the vet, but we still couldn’t seem to get a handle on our household flea problem. We tried to treat our dog, Dash, at home using organic products, followed by a flea shampoo, followed by a flea collar. All of it was to no avail. He scratched on. Finally, I noticed that he was developing bare patches on his hind quarters, and I scheduled a vet appointment.

I put off taking him to the vet, because his first trip to the vet as a puppy did not go well. He hid in every corner, under every piece of furniture he could find, and made a puddle on the waiting room floor. The vet kindly encouraged us to “socialize” him so that he would be less anxious in public spaces.

We apparently failed at this endeavor, because his second vet trip was not much better than the first. When he realized that we were going to put him in the truck, he decided that absolutely would not happen. We pulled on his leash and encouraged him, but it was no use. His strategy was to make himself like a pile of concrete: flat and heavy on the ground. Finally, my oldest son just picked him up and placed him in the back of the truck. Like a stubborn toddler, he made his body go rigid and wouldn’t sit down. We repositioned him the best we could and shut the door.

Our playful and loyal pup, Dash

All the way there, we petted him and spoke gently to him. Our trip into the vet’s office was much like the endeavor of trying to get him in the truck. A little pulling, a little encouraging, and then finally picking him up at times to get him into the areas he needed to go.

If only I could speak dog language. “Buddy,” I would say, “Don’t you know that we want to help you? You will feel so much better when you get some medicine. The vet is here to help you, not to hurt you.” From his perspective though, we were taking him out of his comfort zone, in a strange vehicle, to a strange place, to a man who poked him with a needle. I’m sure it didn’t seem very helpful.

Sometimes the way towards healing is uncomfortable.

Layer 2: As a counselor, I encounter a similar theme. Often, when meeting with a new client, I hear a familiar refrain that goes something like this: “It was hard for me to make an appointment. I like to be independent and try not to need others. It feels like weakness to need therapy.”

Oh, this could not be a more American idea. “Pull yourself up by your bootstraps and make life happen.” Successful people are independent. Depending on others is a sign of weakness.

This, plain and simple, is a lie. We are built, by our Creator, for community. We were never mean to be alone or to do life alone. Asking for help takes humility, and it can be scary, but it is almost always the way towards true healing.

Like Dash, sometimes it takes an injury or a nudge from someone we love to get us out of our comfort zone and on the healing journey.

Layer 3: This summer I’ve been reading through the Gospels, and what stands out to me is how many people Jesus healed. He did teach and preach, but consistently he was seeking out and being sought out to perform healings. He healed people from blindness, leprosy, paralysis, bleeding disorders, shriveled hands, and even from demonic possession. These miracles in and of themselves were enough to draw people to him, but that wasn’t the entirety of his purpose. He desired to heal their souls.

Jesus didn’t heal those who thought they had it all together. No, he found the ones who knew they couldn’t get better on their own. He loved the down and out. The outcasts. The poor in spirit. Those who needed help.

When Jesus heard this, he told them, “It is not those who are well who need a doctor, but those who are sick. I didn’t come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Mark 2:17 CSB

Like those going to therapy for the first time, most of us find it uncomfortable to seek help. It’s extremely vulnerable and humbling to admit we are struggling. Like my dog Dash, sometimes we may not even know the extent of our own injuries and how much we really need intervention.

So, yes, this blog is a PSA for doctors, vets, and therapists. If you need an intervention, please go seek help. Even more than that though, I want to remind you that there is a Savior always ready to come to your rescue. He delights to save and care for His own. You can call on him anytime, anywhere. In God’s kingdom, humility and confession are not marks of shame, but symbols of righteousness.

Independence should not be our goal. Dependence on Christ is where real freedom and healing is found.

May you have the courage to ask Him for what you need.

Pause, Renew, Next!

Summer Slow-Down

Let me share with you how God abundantly showered me with a good and unexpected gift this week. It was the gift I most needed in this particular season: an unhurried and free schedule. He gifted me the kind of week that summer dreams are made of.

Now, let me share with you how this summer has been progressing up to now and what my week was supposed to look like, and I think you’ll understand why I’m overjoyed with such a gift.

My ideal summer vacation would be filled with unhurried days, hours working in my garden, occasional field trips with my kids, planning a few play dates with friends, and scheduling some road trips on weekends. As our summer unfolded, this is what I envisioned.

Then, as I always seem to do, I started scheduling.

Some of the scheduling was necessary. For instance, my kids needed swimming lessons. My oldest son needed to start drivers-ed classes. They all needed doctor and dentist check-ups. These are the normal items of Mom to-do lists.

Of course, even in summer, I work part-time. I enjoy my work, but with my kids out of school, balancing my husband’s and my work schedules becomes a little hectic and gives us less time together.

Sometimes we need a reason to slow down.

Also, as an Enneagram 2, when I would slow down for a few minutes, I would begin thinking of all the people we haven’t seen lately. I’d find myself making lists in my head of the people I need to check in with, the people I need to schedule play dates with, and the get-togethers I promised would happen that I haven’t yet pulled together. In some ways, being a people person is a blessing. The problem is, once I’ve started contacting people, I don’t leave myself enough time for slow-living, summer days with my children.

Without rest and sufficient down-time, coupled with having four boys in the house keeping the noise level at a constant and sometimes ferocious roar, my stress barometer has been climbing. Without question, I know I have been irritable, consistently feeling like an unkind and exhausted version of the self I once knew. (For you Enneagram fans, 2’s go to 8 in stress. I have definitely been camping out in 8 land!)

To top the building stress off, I was scheduled for jury duty this week, followed by an extremely busy weekend. As I frantically tried to do laundry, clean the kitchen, and prepare for a week away, I had absolutely no grace for the antics of my children, who were not at all on their best behavior yesterday.

Then, last evening, I remembered to call and check in for jury duty and was surprised to hear the words announcing on the other end of the line: “Your services are not needed for the week of June 29.”

Ahh…what a relief.

In preparation for jury duty, I took off work and scheduled no appointments or get-togethers this week. Now, with jury duty cancelled, I realized that I was officially on vacation.

As the news sunk in, I thanked God that He knew exactly what I needed. Apparently, it took scheduling jury duty for me to get a break. A break I didn’t (or wouldn’t) schedule for myself. Now, I am intentionally choosing to set these days apart for things I have wanted to do, but just haven’t had the time to make a priority.

Additionally, I noticed as my schedule cleared that when I wasn’t stretched beyond my bandwidth, I felt myself able to offer more grace again to my children.

I physically felt the relief in my body. That’s saying something.

What about you, friend? As you check in on your own soul-care, how much are you accounting for a hurried and full pace of life? Which of those scheduled items can you let go of this summer to give yourself more bandwidth? I hope the Lord opens up good gifts in the form of rest and slow-living opportunities for you, too.

Yes, I preach soul-care, but I will humbly admit that I often struggle to practice it myself. I’m also self-aware enough to know that I have not yet learned my lesson. Overscheduling will continue to be a struggle for me as I find confidence in knowing “what is mine to do,” as Suzanne Stabile often says. Still, while I’m learning my lessons, I’m thankful for a God who steps in to give me opportunities I couldn’t give myself. It is a luxury I won’t take for granted.

Pause, Renew, Next!

When Grace Overflows

I’m not proud to admit it, but apparently I underestimated my child’s ability.

Swimming lessons started this week. Due to fear of water on their part, laziness on my part, and a pandemic that put us behind a year, this Mom was late in putting my two youngest in swimming lessons. I pulled up the information on the classes offered at the YMCA, but I had no clue which class was most appropriate for their swimming abilities. So, I took a shot in the dark and placed them both in the same class. (Saves on driving, right?)

I was wrong about both of their skill levels.

Swimming lessons!

Surprising both me and his swimming teacher, one of my children could do laps back and forth in the pool. His teacher pulled him aside after the first lesson and told him he qualified for a more advanced class. He didn’t want to move up, so she generously volunteered to spend extra time with him after class helping him hone his skills.

In contrast, my other child was not yet ready for the class I placed him in. His specialty has been clinging to the wall and trying not to swim. He does enjoy the occasional splash and face dunk though, so he’s working his courage up slowly.

I would love to say that this is the first time I’ve under or over-estimated my children, but it’s definitely not. In fact, sometimes I think parenting is like one big experiment. Our job is to train these little beings into responsible adults, but most of the time we’re still learning how to be responsible adults ourselves! No, I definitely don’t always see my children clearly for both their strengths and weaknesses. It’s a work in progress, and they continually teach me so much!

Here, I want to lovingly juxtapose my parenting abilities with that of our Heavenly Father. Listen, if ever there was someone who could rightly assess our strengths, weaknesses, faults, and abilities, it’s our Creator. He knows the inner workings of our minds, our emotions, and our motivations. Even more astoundingly, he knows all that we’re capable of, and the good works that still lie in our future. He knows it all, and he never underestimates us.

If that weren’t already the best news, there’s more! He totally never overestimates our abilities either. He knows that on our own, we can’t always make it as far as we think we can or as far as we dream we will. We just may not have the resources or skills at our disposal. He, however, has an endless supply of resources. Like the loving Father that he is, he promises to provide for our needs (Philippians 4:19). He also promises that through His grace, we will not only have our needs met but be able to excel at every good work He lays before us (II Corinthians 9:8).

And God is able to make every grace overflow to you, so that in every way, always having everything you need, you may excel in every good work. 

II Corinthians 9:8 CSB

I don’t know about you, but that is REALLY good news to me today. There is some “good work” that currently lies in my path that feels way above my skill level. Truthfully, many days, even parenting feels above my skill level. Still, we’re promised that God’s grace will not just flow, but OVERFLOW, so that in every way, with everything that we need, we will not just accomplish but excel at the good work before us.

What is the good work that the Lord has laid before you, friend?

I pray that this encouragement helps you realign your own estimations of not just yourself, but of the God who goes before you in it.

Pause: Take a deep breath and allow your mind and body to be still. When you’re ready, read through II Corinthians 9. What stands out to you from this chapter? Underline or highlight any phrases or verses that resonate with you.

Renew: This chapter is not only about provision but also about gratitude and generosity. How do gratitude and generosity play a roll in the good works you are accomplishing in your life right now? Take some time to consider in what ways you can reframe your thinking through the lens of gratitude.

Next: Take time to think, journal, or reflect this week on ways that you’ve seen the Lord’s grace overflow to you. If you know that you need help outside of yourself to accomplish the good works that lay before you, pray specifically for those needs. He is faithful to listen and respond to His children.

May you rest in His grace this week.

Pause, Renew, Next!

Change, Culture, and Calling: with Melissa Lewis

This is the last episode of Season 3, and PRN is ending this season with a fantastic guest, Melissa Lewis. In this episode, Melissa and I talk about her nine-year career working in Costa Rica. She shares about culture, food, missions, and life change. Recently, Melissa moved back to the U.S. and has begun a new adventure. She’s navigated finding a new job and got married last summer. Yes, I definitely asked her to share details of her love story with us! As always, we rounded out this conversation talking about Scripture and soul-care.

Since moving back to the Charlotte, N.C. area, Melissa has started her own photography business. If you’d like to see some of her work, please visit her website: melissalewisphoto.com. You can also find her on Instagram at @melissalewisphoto.

Friends, I will be taking the months of June and July off as I revamp aspects of Pause, Renew, Next, and you can look for new episodes starting in early August. Have a great summer!

May you be encouraged on your journey with Jesus.

Pause, Renew, Next!

Anxiety, Anger, and Transitions

The last year is one for the record books. Literally. We certainly haven’t seen anything like a global pandemic in our lifetimes, and hopefully we won’t see one again anytime soon. Considering the magnitude of the life changes and grief that many have undergone this year, the resilience we’ve individually and collectively displayed is to be commended. Many of us transitioned to working, schooling, and going to church remotely, and we did it almost seamlessly. Our entire world changed the way it does business and travel, yet most of us kept on living day to day like we’d been performing remotely our whole lives. It quickly began to feel normal. Resilience is a beautiful thing.

Adaptation and survival are a part of resilience. Our bodies and emotions, however, may be telling a different story. As the pandemic began, anxiety spiked across the world. Fear and worry were normalized, as so many people were asking the same questions: How long will we be in lockdown? How soon will the vaccines be developed? How long will I have to homeschool my children? How long will we have to wear masks? And most importantly, am I safe?

Then, as the months slid by, anxiety turned to irritability. You see, anxiety and anger are two sides of the same system: fight or flight. Anxiety often causes us to avoid and worry. It makes us feel powerless. What then is the antithesis of powerlessness?

Anger. It fuels us with the adrenaline we need to affect change. When we lost control of our lives and the powers-that-be would not give us answers quickly enough, anger began to simmer. It is frustrating to not know how to plan your life! To not be able to plan a trip, a wedding, or even a school year. It is frustrating to be trapped at home with the same people day in and day out, even if they are your favorite people.

During a perfect storm of collective anger, the United States entered the election season. We all know how that turned out. People did not come together during the pandemic but, instead, became more angry and further divided and isolated.

Enter depression. As the long months of a pandemic wore on, and powerlessness compounded, apathy began to develop. I’ve heard depression called “frozen grief,” and I think that is an accurate phrase to describe what we experienced as a society. What happens when we can’t enact control over our own lives? Eventually, when anger doesn’t work, we give in to a sense of powerlessness and lose the energy to fight. We are created for community, and months of social distancing worked to make us feel alone and isolated. Add to this short daylight hours and the dreariness of winter, and I think we can say that many of us were living with at least low-grade depression over the past few months, marked by low energy and motivation.

Finally, however, hope is blossoming. Summer is on the horizon. Vaccines have been rolled out. Mask mandates are waning. Herd immunity is a real possibility. People are transitioning back to in-person work and schooling. It seems that now we should be overjoyed about getting back our “old lives.” Why then, does it feel like a mixed bag?

I propose that actually, anxiety, irritability, and emotional dysregulation may be on the rise again. Although it seems counterintuitive, seasons of transition (even good transition) create stress. After months of living life remotely, to then be told that we can go back to the old way of doing things is a little overwhelming. How do we go back to the way things were before? Will things ever be the way they were before?

This brings me back to the theme of resilience. You may think that you’ve handled this year like a champ. You probably have. You, after all, are designed to survive. Humanity is created to be adaptive, so like a superstar you’ve managed to navigate all that was thrown at you this year. Perhaps you didn’t even stop to grieve or acknowledge your own emotions. You just did what was required of you. Survival mode may have become a way of life.

Although not all of us pay attention to our emotions, our behaviors often give us insight into our mental health. As Bessel van der Kolk famously wrote, “our bodies keep the score.” Here are some signs you may notice in yourself, or your loved ones, while navigating transition: irritability, muscle tension, racing thoughts, social anxiety, avoidance tendencies, fatigue, mood swings, low energy or motivation, or not caring about the things you used to look forward to. You may also notice an uptick in the “behaviors” of your kids. They don’t have words for it, but their bodies feel the stress of change as well.

This is not a diagnostic blog entry. I don’t propose to have all of the answers. I do, however, want to encourage us all to pay more attention to what our bodies and our behavior are telling us. I also want to encourage us all to offer grace widely right now…to ourselves first and then to others. It’s impossible to offer grace when we can’t even acknowledge that we need it. And boy, do we need it.

A part of offering grace to ourselves is cultivating our own soul-care. What do you need during this transition time? Take time to think it through and make space and time to care for yourself intentionally. Here are a few ideas to get started:

  • Seek out a professional to help you process your thoughts and feelings. Therapy is not a sign of weakness. It is incredibly courageous to seek support.
  • Cultivate time and space in your routine for stillness and renewal.
  • Find physical outlets for your stress. It doesn’t have to be a gym membership. Walking, swimming, yoga, gardening, or dancing are all great movement ideas.
  • Engage in a hobby. Creativity and play are the substance of growth.
  • Prioritize healthy relationships in your life. Make intentional time to get together with friends, family, or neighbors, particularly those who are life giving.
  • Seek spiritual connection. Spend time in God’s Word. Listen to praise music. Talk with God and share your heart with him.
  • Find ways to serve others. Although it is counterintuitive when feeling down, reaching out to others in need can help us shift our internal narrative and focus.

More than anything, I want you to know that you’re not alone. There’s no prescription or self-help book for how to thrive and live your best life through a pandemic. We’re all just figuring it out one breath at a time. It is okay to be human. We’ve been given grace for that.

May we allow the Lord to cultivate His grace in us day by day.

Pause, Renew, Next!

God’s Image Carved in Ebony: A Biography of Amanda Berry Smith

If you’ve listened to this podcast long, you know that I love a good biography. I am passionate about learning from saints who can teach us how to run and finish the race of faith well. Today’s biography episode is about just such a heroine of the faith: Amanda Berry Smith. Amanda played so many roles in her lifetime: mother, evangelist, preacher, missionary, and advocate. The newspapers of her day called her, “God’s Image Carved in Ebony.” If you have never heard her story, then I can’t wait to introduce you in this podcast episode.

This photo is courtesy of the New York Public Library’s GetArchive

Most of the information used in this podcast episode was taken directly from Amanda Smith’s biography: An Autobiography. The Story of the Lord’s Dealings with Mrs. Amanda Smith the Colored Evangelist.

However, I also gained information about her life from the following resources. If you’d like to learn more about her, I hope you’ll take the time to research her life for yourself! There are so many great resources out there; this is just a start.

If something about this podcast resonated with you, please comment below! You can also join the conversation on PRN’s Facebook page. If you enjoyed this podcast episode, please like, share, and subscribe!

May you be encouraged on your journey with Jesus.

Pause, Renew, Next!

Mind Full or Mindful?

Occasionally, I like to play a game with my youngest son. This is a game I pull out when we need a distraction, when his potty talk has hit its limit, or when we’re on a walk and he’s getting tired. I’ll say to him, “Let’s play: what do you hear?” Then I fall silent and let him start listening.

Almost immediately, he gets quiet and observes his surroundings. We start naming the sounds around us: birds chirping, dogs barking, a distant motorcycle, or the wind in the trees.

These sounds are around us all the time, but generally we tune them out or cover them up with our own noises: cellphones, podcasts, radio, Netflix, or the internal static of our own minds.

I don’t know about you, but I can attest to having a full mind. For most of my life I have prided myself on my multi-tasking skills, but lately I find these skills to be lagging. I am growing weary with the constant barrage of noise and clamor around me and within my own head. After a year of collective trauma due to a pandemic and more time spent online than ever before, I think most of us can attest to having full minds and perhaps racing thoughts.

It can be difficult to slow down and be aware of the present moment.

Mindfulness

a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations,

Mindfulness has taken the therapeutic world by storm over the last decade. The benefits are vast: from relaxation, to greater awareness, to focusing attention, to greater health and mental wellness. Yet, focusing on the present moment does not come easily or naturally in a culture permeated by noise. It takes intentionality.

For Mother’s Day, at my request, my family took me hiking for the day. We packed a picnic and ate on a rock outcropping, overlooking a river and waterfall. Next to our picnic spot, the evidence of a previous visitor remained: a perfectly stacked pile of rocks. It’s clear that in nature, rocks do not naturally end up in such an orderly formation. No, this was the work of an individual with intentionality and creativity.

In the same way, practicing mindfulness takes intentionality and creativity. It takes intentionality, because it’s always easier to pick up our phones and be entertained than it is to pay attention to and fully engage the world around us. There is no end to the distractions available at our fingertips. Choosing to focus our attention on the present moment almost always takes intentionality.

Mindfulness also utilizes creativity and curiosity. Our brains absolutely thrive on novelty. We are curious creatures who love learning. In the same way I played a game with my son, we can engage our curiosity and ask ourselves: what do I notice in this present moment? Using our senses helps us stay grounded to the present. What do I see? What do I hear? What do I smell? What do I feel?

Anxiety always takes our brains into future scenarios, but by practicing mindfulness we can bring ourselves back to the reality and safety of the present.

When we are fully engaged in the present, we can practice gratitude for what we have: right here, right now. What are the good and perfect gifts you’ve been given in this moment? Perhaps it’s the giggle of a child in the next room, the way the light is streaming in the window, or the comfort of a warm cup of coffee.

It’s in these moments as we slow down that we are most likely to notice the presence of Christ.

A moment of caution before I end. Truthfully, as much as you may try to focus, your brain will inevitably wander off down a rabbit trail of thought. This is only natural, and it does not make you a failure at practicing mindfulness. Especially these days with our multi-tasking, Instagram-scrolling, channel-flipping attention spans at an all-time low, don’t expect the practice of mindfulness to be an easy-won task. No, intentionality is the ticket. When you notice that your thinking has drifted, gently bring it back again. Like a new driver, your brain is being trained to stay on the road. The more you practice, the longer you can do it, and the better at it you will become.

If you’d like to practice mindfulness now, follow along with the below exercise:

Pause: Inhale deeply and slowly exhale. As discussed above, take a moment to pay attention to what is going on around you. Name what you’re touching, what you hear, what you see, and what you smell. For example: I can feel the sturdy wood chair beneath me, I can hear the ticking of the clock in the next room, etc.

Renew: Now that you’ve taken time to ground yourself in the present moment externally, let’s do the same internally. What is going on inside of you right now? What bodily sensations do you feel? What are you thinking? What emotions are you experiencing? Mindfulness is about focusing our attention on these items, but all without judgment. That last part is the most difficult of all. For instance, you may find that you’re feeling angry or embarrassed. Rather than judging yourself for feeling that way, simply name the emotion or thought for what it is and move on. It’s not good or bad, it just is.

Next: Take another deep inhale and exhale slowly. You just took time to look outward and inward. If you have the time, this may be a great moment to spend in prayer or to make a gratitude list. If you don’t have the time, you can move on with your day. Congratulations! You just took time to intentionally pause and practice mindfulness, and your body, mind, and soul thank you.

May you give yourself permission to slow down and be present in the life you lead.

Pause, Renew, Next!

Fighting Lyme Disease with Faith and Tenacity: with Denise Sultenfuss

Recovering from a life-altering illness is no easy task. Imagine doing so while managing a farm and raising six children. Today’s guest, holistic health and wellness coach, Denise Sultenfuss, shares about her battle with Lyme Disease. We talk about her illness and recovery journey in this week’s podcast episode.

After navigating her own healing and recovery journey, Denise became passionate about helping others on the path toward wellness. In this conversation, we chat about Denise’s farm, how how faith and tenacity served to help her hold on during her decade-long fight against Lyme Disease, and she shares some helpful thoughts about soulful self-care.

If you’re interested in learning more about Denise and want to read her writing, please visit her website. You can also find her on Facebook or Instagram.

If something from today’s podcast episode resonated with you, I’d love to hear about it. Leave a comment under today’s show notes, or join the conversation on PRN’s Facebook page.

May you be encouraged on your journey with Jesus.

Pause, Renew, Next!

Our Family’s Technology Reality Check

In today’s podcast episode, my husband Derek and I continue our conversation about technology and parenting. In the last episode, we talked about what we learned after reading The Tech-Wise Family, and in this episode we discuss the reality of managing technology in our home. Raising children is not for the weak of heart, and it’s especially challenging in the era of the Internet!

I hope this conversation is helpful. If nothing else, I hope you come away from it knowing that you’re not alone in your struggle to parent well or in managing your own use of technology!

May you be encouraged on your journey with Jesus.

Pause, Renew, Next!

Being The Soil

Parenting has come with unique challenges for which I often feel unprepared. I don’t know what I expected raising children would be like, but I certainly did not anticipate many of the scenarios I’ve found myself in over the years. I grew up with one sister. One very compliant, easy to get along with sister. Then, the Lord saw fit to give me a house full of boys, all with strong personalities. Our house is anything but quiet, calm, and compliant!

With that as a backdrop, I’d love to share something the Lord taught me a few years ago. It was an encouraging and perspective-shifting message that I have needed to refer back to many times over the years. I’ve found myself reflecting back on it again after some recent parenting challenges.

On a drive home from work one day years ago, I was spending time in prayer. I find that talking with Jesus and driving go hand in hand! On this particular day I had the van to myself, and I spoke out loud, listing specific requests about my oldest child. I remember asking God to use my son’s strong will and turn him into a fine leader one day. I was on a roll, when right in the middle of my talking the Lord gently and firmly interrupted me.

Does that ever happen to you? Just like the verbal processor that I am, sometimes the Lord has to interrupt me to get a word in edgewise. This is one of the ways I know He’s speaking to me. I wouldn’t be able to interrupt myself!

In a way that only He can, the Lord gave me a picture in my mind of a plant growing in the soil. All in a flash, I knew deep in my spirit what He was telling me. He impressed on my heart that I was the soil that my children were growing in. That was my job, to be the soil. To be safe, fertile ground where they could begin to be rooted and grow into who He created them to be. I also felt His kind reprimand that it was not up to me to decide who they would grow to be. He would be the sun and the rain for them, causing them to grow in His timing and to His purposes. My job was just to be the soil.

Wow!

Believe me, I did not come up with that on my own. Experiences like this with the Lord just floor me sometimes. As if to confirm it, a few months later the staff at the counseling center where I work read the book The Anatomy of the Soul by Curt Thompson. We each took a chapter to lead a discussion about in staff meeting. I was assigned the chapter on attachment, and don’t you know, the exact analogy Curt Thompson used to talk about attachment was becoming safe soil in which our children can grow.

Wow, again!

Being the soil is not an action. Rather, it’s a posture of letting go of control. It’s creating a safe place in which my children can grow. It’s providing for their needs, and then watching the Lord do His good work in their lives.

It sounds so freeing and easy. However, over the years as parenting has put me in hard positions when I wished for an instruction manual, I have cried out to God, “What does being the soil really mean? Like, right here and now?” I wish in those moments that He would swoop in and do the disciplining for me!

Still, I am finding that just like He is forming my children, He is forming me through the process of parenting. Becoming good soil is a process too. We are always in process this side of heaven. Parents and children alike need grace.

This week, I found myself sharing this story with a couple of my friends as we met together for Bible study. I confessed a parenting dilemma I found myself in, and as a friend prayed over me, she said, “Lord, till the soil of Ginny’s heart.”

Oh, as she spoke the words, I felt my chest open up inside. I could picture Jesus turning over the compact soil of anger and shame, giving my heart room to breathe, and preparing it to be better growing space.

So, friends, if you too find yourself in a difficult season of parenting, take heart. There is enough grace to cover you and your children. Through Jesus, growth always yields a beautiful harvest.

May we allow ourselves to be freshly tilled soil.

Pause, Renew, Next: Take a deep belly breath, and allow yourself to relax. How is it freeing to think about God being the one who causes your children to thrive, rather than feeling that the full responsibility rests on your shoulders? This week, I encourage you to pray, reflect, and journal about how to be good soil for the children the Lord has placed in your home, offering gratitude for the way the Lord cares for both you and your children.

Pause, Renew, Next!

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