Gel-Pen Faith

IMG_4304Not too long ago a young woman was over at my house for some reason that I cannot remember. Now on a typical day  at my house you would find dishes in the sink, junk on the floor, a baby unloading a drawer, laundry on the stairs, and about 410 things on my to-do list. Children are always coloring, wielding scissors, and gluing things on the window when I’m not looking. Hopefully, you would also find me running around in the midst of it, because long experience has taught me that giving up on it won’t get results. I don’t remember what exactly was going on when she came by, but at some point she commented that she was the sort of person who liked things to be really orderly. It wasn’t a criticism and it wasn’t offensive, although it did make me laugh. Because, lo. Me too.

The thing is, when I look over my past I feel that God has written it on the wall here, there, and everywhere that He doesn’t care about that. That part of my personality that used to seem like a positive attribute  is something that God didn’t treasure. He has asked me to put that on the altar. When push comes to shove and it is either the house or the kids, God choses the kids, and He tells me to. When it is the laundry all done or the kids all loved, it had better be the kids. When it is mom as an uptight dictator about the shoe placement or the mom who is laughing at the huge spill in the kitchen, I know which one God wants me to be.  He wants me to be  joyful, hard-working, full of gratitude, laughter, and above all He wants me to have spit-spot closets. Wait. Does He? All but that last bit.

Of course God is honored when I am combining joy with closet organizing. Laughter with clean floors. Gratitude with getting all the dishes done. But you know what? If something has got to go around our house, it better not be my attitude. Because that is the one thing that God actually told me to keep track of.

As I look back at my life I can see that almost every time that there was something that I felt good at, or capable of, or confident in, God would give me a wonderful opportunity to lay it down. There is a way of looking at it that says, “God just keeps not letting me be happy! He just makes the conditions perfect for me to be miserable! He knew that I need a certain amount of alone time every day and He keeps not giving it to me!”

But this is the way that I see it. Those things that I consider part of my personality – loving to decorate, loving to cook, wanting things to be beautiful and organized and perfectly crafty and satisfying. I believe in these things. But I believe in them as things that I can use to honor my Creator. Back in the days when I wasn’t being challenged, these things came naturally, and I believed in them because I could cobble together reasons that they were good. But they primarily came from my own strength. I could be that way without really any pushback. So God brought the push back. He made it take more than the capacity I think I have to do these things. He said to me, “I know you like it, and you think you believe it. Now I’d like to see you do it without yourself.” God isn’t interested in my strength. He is interested in my obedience in weakness. Do you hear that? God said enough with my hobbies and my preferences. Lets see about her obedience and her faith.

When we believe something, we can sign our cute little names on the dotted line. Children are a blessing? Check! You should be full of joy? Check! You should honor your husband and love your children? Check! Enjoy all the days of your life? Check! Watch me go with my cute little gel pen in my journal!

So then God gives us those children. And now we believe something that He has told us, but we are not dancing around ready to sign our names on it anymore. Why not? Well because we feel like fussing about the laundry. Because it is messing us up to believe this, because now our faith about this is not abstract. So we feel broken. Like the things that we believe aren’t coordinating with our emotions anymore. Like we can’t find ourselves. Like the old us with the journal and the gel pen had a much better grasp of motherhood than this weird lady we have suddenly become.  Why so much brokenness? Doesn’t God love us?

God has brought me through this time and again. It is like He holds up my little statement of faith from my youth and says, “cute.” But He doesn’t want me to sign my name on it.  He wants me to put myself on the altar. Enough with this chit chat. God wants to see action. Take that belief, and live it. Not when you have all the emotional strength to do that, but when you don’t.

Do it when it must be all His strength. Do it because you believe, not because you feel. Do it in faith.

This has been happening to me long enough now that I can see His hand in it. I can see the tremendous mercy that it was for me (the wedding coordinator for other people) to be the sick bride. I remember standing at the window in my parent’s room looking out at all our wedding guests arriving. I didn’t want my dress on because it would make me throw up again. And as I saw them all coming, I could also see that God was giving me a chance to walk in joy down that aisle. I knew I believed that the wedding was just about the vows, and about honoring them for the rest of my life. That all the rest was just superficial. God didn’t want me walking down the aisle in superficial joy. He didn’t want me to be buoyed up by the fun, and the dress, and the flowers. He wanted me to take His joy and walk with it. And if that was all I had, it would be enough.

This is a pattern. I felt capable of being a mother, back before I was. God gave me more to handle than I could possibly handle on my own strength. I felt capable of keeping house. I’m sorry. I don’t know if I can stop laughing about that. Anything that I felt capable of doing,  God will both make it seem impossible and simultaneously ask me to do it. And there I am – in the sweetest place you can ever be – relying on Him. Walking in faith. Living in joy.

This broken feeling is only broken if it stays there. If it stops in self-pity. If it wallows in grief about the lost emotions of our journaling days. But this is richer. When we seek His joy instead of our own, when we lay our best on His altar, and we have nothing left for ourselves, that is when we are truly accomplishing His purpose in our lives.

We are not broken. We are being healed. We are not alone. We are in His hands. We are not overwhelmed. We have a champion. We are not stupid. We are being made wise. We are not weak. For He is not weak. We are not hopeless.  For we are His.

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81 Responses to “Gel-Pen Faith”


  • Best post ever. Seriously. I love this.

  • So at the risk of sounding like I’m looking for a “10 steps toward a joy-filled life” answer… what helped you move from the place of self-pity, brokenness and feeling overwhelmed every.single.day.?

    Cuz that’s where my wife is at today. And she doesn’t want to be there, but doesn’t know how to get out of the pit.

  • Once again you have spoken directly into my life and encouraged me in my faith. Thank you for making the time to encourage us all. This blog has seriously got me through some very hard days as a mother. It has been a breath of fresh air to keep going and an encouragement to seek the one who gives me the strength to press on. Bless you lizziejank, keep up the good work. You are such an encouragement to me.

  • Thank you for this truth! I really needed to hear that now.

  • So needed this today!!! Thank you sooo much! Just what i needed to hear when everything feels out.of.control. Bless you.

  • Amen and amen!!

  • Wonderful post – thankyou :)

  • After giving birth to our fifth child 2 weeks ago (our eldest is 6 yrs old) I especially needed to read this tonight. I just did a quick survey of my “to-do” list before sitting down to the computer and let out a sigh. Nothing to cross off. What God is working in you is what I need as well. The daily struggle of balancing the needs of my young family, my ministry as a pastor’s wife and keeping our home often seems more than I can bear. But it is more than I can bear. I need Someone to bear it for me and enable me to do His will. I need to let go of these earthly things and keep my focus on the eternal. Thanks for sharing how He is working in you. God used it.

  • Thank you so much.
    Such wisdom & truth made practical. livable.
    Life changing.

  • I’m not a mom, but I am a teacher- and my students want to know why I laugh all the time. I told them that I have two choices: I could either laugh or cry and I choose to laugh.

  • Beautiful and oh so timely, Rachel! Thank you.

  • love, love, love – writing truth like this so powerfully, love!

  • So very encouraging! Thank you for sharing. It’s so helpful to learn from women going before me.

  • “It is like He holds up my little statement of faith from my youth and says, “cute.” But He doesn’t want me to sign my name on it. He wants me to put myself on the altar. Enough with this chit chat. God wants to see action. Take that belief, and live it. Not when you have all the emotional strength to do that, but when you don’t. Do it when it must be all His strength. Do it because you believe, not because you feel. Do it in faith.”

    …thank you for this whole post, I needed it. And the gel-pen-journal analogy is perfect and hilarious. I always laugh with friend about all that ‘journaling time’ we had way back when.

  • This was exactly what I needed and have been being hit over the head with the past few days – when I’m feeling weak, out of control, over thinking things and trying to figure it all out, God says I am strong, I am in control, I have a plan and I want you to lay it all down.

  • Thankyou for posting this! I NEEDED to read this today.

  • BwuHahahahaha! Too right! For me, it’s everything I’ve ever judged about other people…”how hard would it be for her too…” That God is tossing my way and saying: “See how unimportant this is? Go play with your three your old. Everyone can have hot dogs for dinner one more time.”
    This reminds me a bit of when you said something about how the weather must’ve been great when you were young, because you remember reading the Bible with great lighting. It was so easy to be godly then.
    I know you come by this wisdom with great cost. Thank you for sharing it with us.

  • Wow! You have gel-penned all over my heart with your post today. I’m sure many woman have been touched by the reality of this post in their lives. Thank you for reminding me that it is His strength in My weakness that matters most.

  • My children are grown, my grandchildren live 2000 miles away, I give thanks that God forgives us, and let me start over, being loved and cherished, the way I wished I had done with my children, He has forgiven me….have they? Thank you Lord for your unconditional everlasting love. Amen

  • Amen! Preach it sister. Yes, God is interested in our obedience and faith not our achievements. Thank you for the timely reminder and encouragement that we need to be relying on His strength in our weakness when facing our impossible tasks which are no longer impossible when we rest in our Lord and work according to His power in us.

  • Thank you so much for writing this! You have captured words I have been trying to formulate for so very long.

  • This is great. This post totally spoke to me. I was trying to figure out why, when I’m feeling really good, really in control of my spiritual life–proud is what I’m probably talking about–God brings it all crashing down around me. I remember a great week of being a kind, patient mom, keeping my house perfect, writing in my journal every day, praying a lot, becoming less and less humble as the week went on because I felt like, wow, I am so on top of this good Christian mom/housewife thing! Then my husband came home, complaining about a coworker, and I proceeded to tell him, essentially: how to be, what he was doing wrong, how messed up his spiritual life was, how he needed to be more like me. Hahahahaha!! And wouldn’t you know the next day my kids woke up sick and crabby, the dog pooped in the house and the baby was the first one to discover it, and about a million other things decided to mess with my composure. I’m pretty sure I yelled a lot and said some things I ended up apologizing for. Everytime I start to give myself credit, God brings me down a peg. Right where I need to be. Your post helped clarify this for me. We need to lean on Him when things aren’t going our way.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you, Rachel. I do so love to read your thoughts!

  • This is so good, Rachel, and something that God has really been teaching me lately. I’ve heard people say things like, “God loves order,” as a reason we should strive for orderly homes. And on one hand it’s so true. As he spoke into nothingness and created a beautiful world he was delighted; it was so good. But here’s what I’ve really been struck by recently: His children messed up the beautiful home he prepared too. And it was infinitely worse than someone drawing on the garbage can while I’m scrambling around trying to get lunch on the table. And then I find that he loves order far beyond what I do. Because instead of turning around and snapping at us, instead of killing to maintain order, he dies to reestablish it. And then he asks me to die for order too, not to sacrifice the little people in my home for it. Not necessarily the orderliness of my living room floor, but like you pointed out so beautifully, the order of my attitude.

  • I’m 63 years young and have experienced this concept all through my life. Am in a whole new stage of being broken for His glory even now. It’ s the day he QUITS stretching and braking and molding my heart that I eliminate be really scared! These are such preciously sweet times: ” treasures of darkness “.

  • such good stuff. five chicks and a farmer posted on IG and i had to come read for myself. thankful i did for you put words in a different way to what God is doing and showing me..xo

  • I’m in the grandmothering season of life, but the Lord still is showing me things that need to go on the altar. The last paragraph of your post was balm to my soul.

  • Every time I read your blog I am so encouraged! Is there a way to subscribe to posts by email so that I don’t miss any posts?

  • Thank you. THANK YOU. I needed this grace, and I needed this call to actually walk in it as well.

  • Burn! That was directly at me today. Wow. I need to read it again, as it took me 12 hours to get through it with all my adorable whiny interruptions. :-)

  • Hi! I can relate! I’ll tell you one little story. My hubby was on a weekend trip, and after one rainy day where we stayed home and I did as much cleaning as I could, it was a beautiful Sunday and I decided to be brave and take them all (5) to the zoo by myself. So we came back happy and super tired after 4 hours of walking. I went to bed and snuggled with one of the kids to watch a movie… when suddenly the door bell ringed…. it was my landlord who came to pick up a dehumidifier and fan he lended us to dry the basement carpet…no biggie, I was okay with it because that area of the house was cleaned up a few days earlier so it was decent… normally he lets us know he is comming by calling my hubby but since he was not in town… the man is just about to leave when he notices a water mark on the ceiling… what is that?… long story short, he went all the way upstairs and saw all the disaster: beds not made, toys, clothing on the floor and like 4 piles of clean laundry laying in random spots in my room, random items on the floor, and my messy cluster filled bathroom! thank goodness there was no underwear on the floor. But as he checked the culprit toilet which had a leak, and opened it, horror of horrors, it was not flushed, there was a lot of toilet paper in it, he flushed it and it left brown marks which I dont need to explain… oh! the kids I muttered. Super embarrasing. But anyways there was a leak and needs to be fixed so I’m glad he found it. I kind of apologized for the general mess when he left and he assured me his house was not neat either… Well he was comming to remove and check the toilet himself next evening. Trying to vindicate myself I spend the whole day cleanning and organizing the upstairs area. Guess what? he didn’t come, and he text my hubby that he will send his plummer. Anyways, I have decided that I just cannot live to please people. This is real life. Their houses probably dont look spotless either, unless they don’t have small children… I could have spent that day Sunday a) cleanning and feeling relieved that when someone shows unexpectedly it looks good or b) enjoying my day with my kids… I chose B and I would choose it again.

  • Amen! Man is it hard to continually realize it over and over in my own life. I was ready to give up on homeschooling after just 2 weeks and was positive I was the worst wife and mother. They were my own expectations that ruined me, not unruly children and a selfish husband. There is no shame in who I am and I had become so ashamed….how I responded to my children, not meeting my husbands needs etc… Romans 5:1-6 but verse 5 is what really opened my eyes….”hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” Praise God! Thank you for being a faithful sister to keep your eyes on Christ and share….encourage one another as long as the day is the day….Great!

  • Awesome. My children are all grown now and have children. When they grow older and have families of there own you will remember back on all those days that seemed so out of control and realize all the more how very important it is to let God lead and you follow. Children are other than our salvation, our best gift from God and our grave Responsibility. And how great it is to see them grown into Godly Men and Women and watch them leading there children.

  • Thanks for the post. It has been so helpful to me ever since I read it!

  • Rachel,
    This happens often–reading one of your posts and thinking it to be amazingly just what I needed to read at just the right time. Well, it has happened again. Only this time, even more amazingly “just what I needed.” Thank you.

    I was saved a couple years ago and shortly after my conversion I discovered your family’s books,this blog, etc. God has used these resources tremendously for my growth and I am dearly grateful for you all. Even for the little, practical things. like when I step into the kitchen and my little ones’ radars go off and they each begin to slide our kitchen chairs across the floor to help…and I hear your cheerful laughter about that very same thing,and it’s enheartening to me. Thankful to have you as a godly sister in the Lord. Thanks, today, for directing our attention to be thankful to our gracious Father, even for the hard things, or maybe especially for them.

  • I just keep coming back to read this again! God is just starting to take me here and it’s kinda scary and so good (but kinda scary!). Amazing post

  • You made me cry and i couldnt have asked for a more perfect message from God tonight.

    Thank u

  • I’m right there with you.. I used to have things figured out & then God gave us 5 kids in 5 years and now I’m learning that it’s ONLY by his strength that I can do anything. I always love reading your posts!

  • @ still Broken
    TO the husband who wants to know how to help his wife…
    PLEASE take it seriously!!!!
    I have known 2 very dear friends, strong Christian women who sound like your wife, and it was very real, very physical depression.
    There is such a stigma in Christian circles, but please don’t doubt it is real, and often very physically based. After getting thorough examination and medical help (in her case natural, with some supplements and herbs with careful guidance but she was totally open to drugs if recommended) her symptoms disappeared within 2 weeks.
    PLEASE do not think your wife just needs an attitude adjustment, – the strongest woman of faith I know have needed physical help.
    As her husband you have the chance to help her know that there IS hope and take steps to her healing and recovery.
    Some days we need to choose joy.
    Some days we need physical help.
    Praying you see this, – I wasn’t able to respond directly to your comment.
    Rebecca

  • Thanks so much!!! Reading this was like reading my life over the past several years!! I am so glad for how God has and still is changing me! He took me through many things to show me what is important and how I can actually really be pleasing to Him…and the sink being empty, laundry all done and put away, floor spotless is actually NOT how I’m going to please Him! Thanks again!!

  • that’s the gem of the internet for the whole year. a-men! thank you for writing that.

  • Thank you Lord, for using Rachel’s words to encourage so many who love you! Such wonderful reminders!

  • Thank you for that!! Amazing! Spoke to me!! God bless!:)

  • @Still Broken,
    I understand your wife, and I love this post! We just moved into a big house after having a baby earlier than scheduled! We had more friends help than my organized self really wanted and a lot of company who saw our mess scattered over the house! I chose to ignore it and focus on the positive (healthy baby and big house)! Having faith that God will get us through the rough edges and will lead us every step of the way and giving myself grace to relax and look up. This is very hard for me since I’m a do-it-ahead and “be organized” person. Moving into a big old house without everything perfect facing a Minnesota winter is hard, but many families have lived here before and God helped us get the house to begin with and He won’t leave us stranded.
    Does this make sense? Faith, hope and love, will get us out of the broken spirit and into a sense of joy. That will work, but if your wife is truly out of energy, she can’t express her joy unless she gets a physical break from the house and kids and maybe some vitamins. I’m thinking of a spa week-end getaway!

  • “If something has got to go around our house, it better not be my attitude.”

    I needed to hear this tonight. Thank you :)

  • That was marvelous! I hope all mom’s will share this so all can see it and have hope…that they will see life from God’s perspective. Boy, I wish I had heard this message in your wonderful word pictures when I was there in the trenches. Would have made life a lot easier for those who love me! Thank you so much!

  • My children are all grown, all seven of them. I have a huge house, its clean, the windows get washed regularly, the floor is swept, laundry done, bathrooms clean, you get the picture. The only thing missing is the seven beautiful children who used to mess it up so very well.
    Gods gift to us is the wonderful work he prepared for us to walk in, in raising Godly children for his glory. Everything else is an added bonus of his grace. The messes and hectic life will eventually be gone…but not the gift, those souls are forever, Praise God.

  • Adam and I agree that this is encouraging to wives *and* husbands!

  • @ Still Broken:
    Please get her to talk to her doctor or OB or someone…I went through post-partum depression and what you described sounds a lot like how I felt. Like I had a crazy tenant in my head being crazy but I didn’t want to be crazy/sad/discouraged/overwhelmed/cranky all.the.time. Anti depressants really helped me and it might be just what she needs. It’s a physiological, medical problem and has nothing whatsoever to do with strength of character or quality of faith. Treat the symptoms and then she’ll have the strength to proactively change her lifestyle: get out of the house, make new mommy friends who can commiserate with her and lift her up, exercise, eat healthy, and sleep more regularly. encourage her gently and lovingly to value herself and her parenting enough to admit she needs help, and that it is ok. We take meds for headaches, for Athsma, for high blood pressure…this is just another part of having imperfect bodies. It’s just medicine and if it doesn’t work, then she can always stop taking them (with a dr.’s supervision).

    And praypraypraypray for her!

  • Wow, these words are exactly what I needed today.

    I am definitely in a spot where all of my strengths are being tested and either taken away by God or he is wanting me to lay them down on the alter. Its painful, but your words are a reminder that it is good.

  • Thank you, Rachel! This is so good! I’ve found in my life that God has an effective way of destroying my idols. I wanted the *perfect* wedding and went to great lengths of planning to achieve it…. Therefore, one of my bridesmaids fainted during the ceremony, the pastor lost his voice while delivering the homily, the d.j. mispronounced everyone’s names, the cake was tilting, and the manager at the yacht club lied to us and wouldn’t let our guests throw the “approved” wedding rice (confiscated conveniently during the middle of the dinner reception).
    I could go on and on about things God has taken from me that I idolized, but the clean, quiet, orderly house is my struggle right now. I really appreciated this kick in the pants.

    To StillBroken –
    I would really just like to echo what others have said regarding postpartum depression. It is very real and can be debilitating. I experienced this following the birth of my second child. I was able to conquer it with diet, thyroid medicine, and supplementation (vitamin d, natural progesterone cream, probiotics, etc). I discovered that I have an autoimmune thyroid condition which was likely triggered by pregnancy and for which depression is a symptom. All that to say, please don’t ignore these symptoms!

  • Wow, I clicked on this blog a few days ago and saw there was a new post with an unusual amount of comments (with the exception of course when you dare to broach topics like bossy food or modesty, the nerve!) = ) Something happened and I wasn’t able to read it until just now.

    Now I know why all the comments. So, so good, helpful, convicting, encouraging.

    Thank you!

  • So long as the reason our houses are messy is that we are being joyfully holy and not just overcommitted and lazy. There is also something to be said for spacing your children so you have time to train them to pick up and be semi-independant, and disciplined, before getting all morning-sick and incapacitated again. To the mom with 5 kids 6 & under, I’d say you don’t just need supernatural grace, you need a plan to space your children– for the sake of your health, your children, and your home. Children are precious. That means they need being cared for.

  • And get Still Broken some B-vitamin complex!! Nature’s Sunshine makes a great liquid version.

  • To still broken and his wife:
    One thing you can’t leave out is simply taking your sins to the Lord and confessing them. Receive His forgiveness and when you sin again in the same way, confess it again and receive His forgiveness again. As you seek to obey in joy, ask Him to work in you and trust that He is working. Confession to others and prayers of others are also invaluable.

  • I read all the above comments yesterday. Last eve. as I was lying in bed I was thinking about this and I thought of my own mother. She raised 7 children on the farm, where she worked a large garden, took care of 300 chickens, did her laundry on a wringer machine and hung it out to dry, fixed 3 big meals every day and had a lovely flower garden. Our home was “orderly” and she was a pretty easy going woman. We did not play in the Livingroom or the Kitchen. We played outside, in our rooms or in the basement. Every Sat. the entire home was picked up and cleaned. Everyone had their responsibilities. The radio was always on w/music… it felt like a happy home as I grew up. In my own home our 3 children had outside toys, in their room toys and basement toys. They didn’t get mixed up and played around the home. They did not “play” in the Livingroom and the kitchen was for art work and coloring. I need order and so do some of your children. Just some thoughts that may help to keep some balance.

  • So long as the reason our houses are messy is that we are being joyfully holy and not just overcommitted and lazy. There is also something to be said for spacing your children so you have time to train them to pick up and be semi-independant, and disciplined, before getting all morning-sick and incapacitated again. To the mom with 5 kids 6 & under, I’d say you don’t just need supernatural grace, you need a plan to space your children– for the sake of your health, your children, and your home. Children are precious. That means they need being cared for.

  • I am also not sure what the wedding dress has to do with anything… you were sick? Or nervous? How was this related to gel-pen faith? I must be missing something because so many people are touched by this but I just don’t get the end.

  • I’m laughing and crying. I’m sitting in the Dentists office yesterday, reading this, and I’m laughing and crying! Out loud!. I had to leave the waiting room and go to the bathroom. The hilariousness of it all…When I hear it coming out of someone else’s mouth. The humiliation it causes when it’s in my own head.

    These words-
    “So then God gives us those children. And now we believe something that He has told us, but we are not dancing around ready to sign our names on it anymore. Why not? Well because we feel like fussing about the laundry. Because it is messing us up to believe this, because now our faith about this is not abstract. So we feel broken. Like the things that we believe aren’t coordinating with our emotions anymore. Like we can’t find ourselves. Like the old us with the journal and the gel pen had a much better grasp of motherhood than this weird lady we have suddenly become. Why so much brokenness? Doesn’t God love us?”

    These words- they get down deep. These are revealing words. And to my shame, I relate.

    Something I have been quoting to myself for years, and through many painful trials. And here I am, almost 40, and I still don’t get it. The pleasure part. Being able to take pleasure in weakness and infirmities. I just don’t.

    “‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’
    “Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

    I think that the shameful truth is we want the glory. Okay, I want the glory. I don’t want the brokeness. Do you?

    I guess this is why I need God, and he does not need me.

    I do hope that by the time my kids have kids, at least for their sake, I will get it. And be able to share it with them, and help them get it.

    Thanks Rachel. This really is one of the best posts I have read of yours. Thanks for sharing words of your own wrestlings. I know that seeing this stuff in ourselves is not always easy or pleasing.

    Heres to the race my sister!

  • So, what about saying, “It really helps Mom when you keep your toys out of this (4 foot by 3 foot) section of walkway between the kitchen and living room”? I am also one of those who likes things to be relatively organized (relatively being the key word, and my definition of organized much more flexible now) but I also would like some boundaries when it comes to toy scattering. Thoughts?

  • Great post! I so needed to read this today :) Thanks for sharing!

  • Its hard to understand the powerful testimony a joyful mumma of many little ones can have! I want to testify to the attending grace that is upholding me & transforming me. Of course we tend to kick & scream when God touches our clay as it spins upon the wheel. But do it again God for Your grace is sufficient!! Excellent!

  • Thank you! This was such an encouraging post as I am in the midst of homeschooling my kids while pregnant with my 7th child. I feel like I lost “me” somewhere along the way in my sacrifice and service to God and my family. Thank you for reminding me of what’s important to God, not man.

  • Regarding post partum depression: Yes, it is real and debilitating. Anti-depressants are dangerous, though. I know from personal experience. It seriously messes with your mind and the effects of trying to get off antidepressants is even worse than being on them. If anyone is on them, wean yourself SLOWLY, NOT cold-turkey. Please, please do research on these awful drugs. Diet, exercise, b-vitamin, d-vitamin, iron supplements, herbal supplements for adrenal fatigue and/or herbal thyroid supplements, probiotics, confessing sin and asking for prayer from others, getting a breather (i.e. hubby watches kids for 2-3 hours while mom does whatever she needs to do for her sanity). Such a wonderful article!!!

  • I feel like God had you write this just for me. Thank you.

  • I totally agree that our children should come before the housework. But I think sometimes we excuse ourselves from taking care of our house. It doesn’t honor God, our husband, or our children if we just let our house go and let it become a complete mess. Otherwise women wouldn’t be exhorted to “be busy at home.” (Titus:2:5.) Of course God is more interested in our attitudes, especially in regards to our husband and children. But I also think its important to teach and involve the kids in keeping a tidy house—-doing it all with love and grace. Spend time with the kids by teaching them to fold clothes or unload the dishwasher. It doesn’t have to be all day, just a small portion of the day. They need to see that we should be industrious and have good work ethic. It also shows our husband that we desire to keep a comfortable haven for him when he gets home from a long day at work. He doesn’t need to be tripping over toys when he walks in the door or clearing spilled Cheerios off the couch so he can sit down. All I’m saying is that we should not demean caring for our houses as though its not important at all. We should prioritize and put out husbands and children first YES YES and YES. But lets not use it as an excuse to let our houses be dirty and stay dirty.

  • It is 3:47am. I woke up with anxiety (and a grumbly belly). I have a 4 year old, a 2 year old, and a nursing 3 month old… and I think I’m expecting again already. I felt capable of trusting God with my fertility, until now that I think I’m expecting again so quickly and “I don’t like what he’s doing with it (my fertility)” … my faith not lining up with my emotions. I was struggling tonight, and you struck just my chord. Thank you Rachel for writing how God prompts you. You touched a young mother’s heart and life tonight. Thanks to this article and #5 in your “6 ways to handle stress this Christmas” (12/17/12), I am going back to bed, in peace (tucked in between my two baby girls, while my husband is sound asleep in my daughter’s bed next to my son… they really are blessings, especially the moments I don’t *feel* like they are).

  • I Read this again tonight for the 2nd time. I think I will read this every week! Thank you for the encouragement.

  • This was so well articulated and put words to some of my inner conflict lately. Thanks for the encouragement!

  • Beautiful… Thank you for sharing your struggle to Christ!

  • I heard your interview on Family Life and looked this up. My 1st thought was, ‘boy, I could of used this article 25 yrs. ago’. But then I realized the Spirit did teach me these things, He whispered in my ear the truths of what is important to God…these precious children, keeping a grateful heart, loving my husband…and that the years would fly by. And they have.
    I am a grandma now… I have nothing but thanks to God and my husband that I could be home with the children and even home school them.
    Thanks for the reminder of that old lie I am ‘wasting time’ or ‘not doing great things’ as I care for our child with special needs who will never leave home. May God be glorified in this too.

  • Oh my goodness, this is wonderful! Thank you for the honesty, the sense of humor, and the constantly pointing to Him!

    Because He gives us strength for this, each minute each day, to choose the children over the house, to check our attitudes. It’s hard and we don’t do it perfectly, but His grace goes before us and with us and after us, and thanks to His work with us, our children are blessed!

    I used to think I could keep house.. I’m sorry but I can’t stop laughing about that. Ha!

    Emily
    http://www.weakandloved.com/

  • To all the people wondering if efforts to keep a clean house is okay-
    The point of a clean house is to bless those who live in it. A clean house is a GREAT blessing and I believe that children are more settled, secure, and even learn better when the house is clean. Also, do not forget that it IS your duty to TRAIN (not browbeat) your children in this area! The point, like Rachel said, is that it is HARD when you have so many little ones at home and when something has to give, it better not be your attitude. It’s just a matter of deciding not what is important, but what is MORE important.

  • What Molly and Holly said. God also gives us wisdom and sound minds. To put joy on a checklist to be merely ticked off by a gel pen as another “shoukd” on a to-do list trivializes it, don’t you think? Joy is a gift of the Holy Spirit and should be received as such. It is not just something to “do!” And I don’t like the word “should”. It sets you u for failure. How about I CAN, as in Philippians 4:13?

    And, yes, space your children. For their good and health as well as yours.

  • Ok, I read this like the day you posted it. It really hit home and was SUCH a blessing. The whole thing! And I *thought* the parts about relying on the Lord, obeying Him even in weakness, etc. would be what stuck with me. But still today this is the sentence that I have found repeating itself in my mind.
    “Hopefully, you would also find me running around in the midst of it, because long experience has taught me that giving up on it won’t get results.”
    Thank you for including this! Seriously. So many “mom blogs” talk about it being ok that your house is a mess, etc. But this has really helped me keep going. If I’m not going to sink back down into despair I need to just keep running around in the midst of it. So, I went back on my FB page and searched for this so I could read it again. Once again, the whole thing ministered. But thanks for offering that bit of help in “getting results.”

  • Oh Rachel… thank you (with tears).

  • First read this post back in October at the end of a particularly demoralizing day, which had begun with some unauthorized scissor usage (free haircuts!) and devolved from there. By bedtime the muck of despond on my face had so thickened and dried that I didn’t even crack a smile when I spied the low-hanging artwork that my troupe had thoroughly taped to our front windows. No, instead, I determined to restore order, whatever the cost — even if it meant locking up every last craft supply, office supply, twist tie, and fruit sticker in the house and throwing away the key (right after mangling it in the garbage disposal for good measure, of course).

    [Enter: "Gel-Pen Faith"] Two sentences into the first paragraph my scowl softened. Then your precious, scissor-wielding children began “gluing things on the windows” and the floodgates opened. I’ve been spontaneously guffawing ever since, even as I daily remind myself that “it better be the kids (all loved).”

    All that to say: Last night — while I was adding glue, of all blessed things, to my online art supply order — I stumbled upon a beautiful art project that reminded me of you and your people. It’s the June 2010 “Tissue paper and glue window collage” at Filth Wizardry dot com. Hope it puts a smile on your face and another treasure in your heart.

    “…wonders, wonders of His love”

  • “We are not broken. We are being healed. We are not alone. We are in His hands. We are not overwhelmed. We have a champion. We are not stupid. We are being made wise. We are not weak. For He is not weak. We are not hopeless. For we are His.”

    okay…you know those really cute wood plank signs? I want this on one..hanging in my (full of life and probably toy laden) living room!

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