Guest Post: How to Reignite the Wintery Soul by Seana Scott

I’m thrilled today that one of my friends and fellow seminary mamas will be writing today’s guest post. Seana reached out to me when our husbands were at Dallas Seminary and we quickly became friends after our first playdate amongst coffee, banana bread, and busy babies. We both share a passion for God’s word and writing so as you can imagine, we have a lot to talk about. Seana has a heart of gold and I love her passion for Jesus, her family, and ministry. .

Seana writes for Seanascott.orgReal. Faith. Moms and when you subscribe to her blog, you receive a free e-book called Joy Made Full: 5 Lies that Trap Moms & How to Break Free. On her blog, you can also scroll down and listen to some of her quick videos on motherhood. Super encouraging!

Thank you, Seana, for today’s post!

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“Snow! Mama, Snow!” My three-year-old yelled as he watched the floating flakes dance to the ground. Any light dusting of snow in Fort Worth, Texas is reason enough to call off school and put on layers of blizzard gear and play.

I needed to head back into town to pick up my other son from school.

“Alright, Judah. Let’s go.”

We thanked friends for hosting a play-date and opened the front door. Judah dashed out like a puppy on the loose. “Snow, mommy! Can I eat it?” He squatted down to investigate the inch border of fluff on the sidewalk.

“Just make sure there’s no dirt in it.” Is there even enough to pick up?

 He froze in position and stared.

“It’s okay, honey. Look.” I grabbed a little snow and placed it in his hands. “Snow.”

“C-o-o-old,” he said as he took a little lick and giggled—the joy of his first snow encounter.

As I drove an hour back into town, I wondered, Judah delighted in just a dusting of snow. Do I delight in the wonderland of grace?

In Revelation Chapter 2 God commended the church in Ephesus for their commitment, perseverance, and work for the Lord—but chastised them for losing their first love.

“I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked people, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first.” (Revelation 2:3-4)

Sometimes I find myself guilty of steadfastness in doing the right things, but cold in love.

When our passion does not equal our commitment, how can we reignite our love for God?

Revelation 2:5 tells us: Take ownership of your short-comings (repent) and do what you did at first.

Do you ever feel stale in your relationship with God? What did you do when you first encountered His love? Return to those things.

When I first became a believer:

  1. I hungered to know God and read the Word often.
  2. I hung out with more mature believers whenever I could.
  3. I attended any worship event I could.
  4. I plugged into a discipleship group.

Of course as a mom of three little people, that looks different now. But I still can read (or listen) to His word, connect with believers, worship through music, and seek mentorship.

How about you? Is your love for the Lord cold?

What is one step you can take today to reignite your love for Jesus?

PRAY: Lord, thank you once again for salvation through Jesus Christ. I need your Spirit to help me love you the way I did at first. Please show me one simple way that I can fuel my first love for you again. In Jesus’ name, AMEN.


Seana Scott is a pastor’s wife and mom to three kiddos. She is working towards a degree from Dallas Theological Seminary. She enjoys walks with her family, talking with women over a cup of coffee, and exploring the beautiful world. You can get a free copy of her Ebook for moms, Joy Made Full, or schedule her to speak at SeanaScott.org.

 

My One Word Resolution for 2015

Last year, I ditched the long list of resolutions and clung to a one word resolution instead. As we approach the end of 2014, I’m happy to report that I loved honing in on one word and remembering it throughout the year. Don’t get me wrong, historically I’ve been a goal setter and definitely believe in beginning with the end in mind but as a busy wife and momma, I did so much better last year focusing on one key word to implement in my life.

Discipline was the word I chose last year and it came to mind often. I have seen discipline in my life when it comes to: reading and studying the Bible, committing to a running routine/accountability partner, writing 2 book proposals, meeting weekly with my community group girls, and home organization. I didn’t do so great at journaling, putting letters in the mail or relying less on caffeine.

When I look at what I want 2015 to hold, the word JOY is inescapable for me. Theopedia defines joy as:

A state of mind and an orientation of the heart. It is a settled state of contentment, confidence, and hope. It is something or someone that provides a source of happiness. It appears 88 times in the Old Testament in 22 books; 57 times in the New Testament in 18 books…

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Joy is actually an area that I struggle with particularly in motherhood. The daily demands of meeting my children’s needs is often overwhelming, especially at their ages. It is a serious job indeed, but I don’t think I laugh or smile enough. Sometimes the daily grind affects my relationship with my husband when I really don’t want it to. Too often, I allow the pressures, trials, and temptations of life in general to steal my joy. And it shouldn’t be that way.

For a while, I thought I was the only one who needed more joy in my life until I talked with my friend Amy over coffee a few months ago and she boldly shared that she was praying for this in her life as well. I would’ve never guessed she was praying for more joy too. We talked about some joy stealers:

  • Comparing yourself/children/husband to others
  • Discontentment with where God has you
  • Unmet expectations
  • Coveting what someone else has
  • Unforgiveness
  • Constantly giving of yourself and no time for solitude
  • Resentment
  • Self-pity
  • Loss of purpose
  • Thinking God didn’t get it right
  • Finding hope in yourself instead of God and more…

I realize that joy will not come by my own strength or will, either. It is not something I can create with my own hands or wish for. This second fruit of the spirit is only found in Jesus as he produces this spirit inside me as I submit to him. It is not dictated by circumstances or experiences. It is a condition of the heart and it remains even in the midst of great suffering and adversity.

Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. – Hebrews 12:2

I don’t know what 2015 will hold, but I know Who holds the future. When I’m tempted to worry of fear about tomorrow, I can instead place my hope and joy in Christ. I’m confident that He will give me what I need and that joy can actually be more real and evident in my life than ever before.

Have you made any resolutions or considered choosing one word you’d like to focus on? If you struggle with joy, let’s team up and fight for it together this coming year.

 

How to Handle the “In Between”

The week after Christmas tends to be an awkward week for me. The whole month of December, I anticipate Christmas. Everything I do centers around Dec. 25. And then once it’s over, I’m not quite sure what to do.

I could relate to writer Marcus Hathcock in the recent RELEVANT Magazine article, “The Thud After Christmas” when he said, “There is a huge build up to Christmas… You get the feeling that the world is getting ready for something big and mysterious.”

Then Christmas happens and life moves on the next day as if it were never here. Marcus likened it to the radio stations instantly going back to their regular programming: “No tapering down the carols, just a clean break. A thud.”

I love how he uses the word thud because that’s exactly what it has felt like for me. I’ve asked myself a few times: Now What? What’s the next thing to look forward to?

This week, I’ve struggled with being in the in-between. Christmas is over and 2012 is on the horizon. I have my share of concerns about what the future will hold and what changes might occur.

But one thing has brought me true comfort and peace as I wrestle and grapple with the in between.

Going to God in His Word to be reminded and assured of his promises.

I easily forget that Jesus is enough. We hear it so much but it’s so true. He is all I need as I anticipate a brand new year that will hold only the Lord knows! This doesn’t mean that I don’t plan, work hard, make changes, set some goals, and more. Those things will happen.

But the point is that my eyes should not be on myself and what concerns I have. Or how I feel. Or frankly what I need to do. I actually end up getting depressed when I look too hard at myself.

My focus should be upon Christ, his Word, his ways, serving Him and His people. And above all to fulfill what I’ve been put on this earth to do- to know Him and make Him known.

I’m never disappointed when I begin placing my trust in what He says. And somehow, when my eyes are upon Him instead of self, I always end up finding true joy, comfort, and satisfaction. All the things that I’m pretty sure I was looking for in the first place.

Over the past few days I’ve noticed that the thud is slowly fading away and my anxiety about 2012 is turning into excitement and joy about what God will do and reveal about himself.

Have you felt the thud or struggle with the in between?

Yes, free indeed: Overcoming Our Deepest Fears

“Get dressed. We’re going to the lake,” my husband Jeremiah says on the other end of the line as he’s driving home from work on Monday. I was already dressed in my workout clothes and I was loving his spontaneity because it had been a hard day at home and I needed some fresh air.

We arrived at the lake an hour before sun set. My toddler John ran through the leaves and down the hills. I pushed Rebekah in the stroller and inhaled the cool breeze. We then walked on the paved trail that led to a long bridge where ducks swam underneath. We parked ourselves there for a while and watched our son in such delight. It was like the world stood still and all that existed was our little family.

Then out of nowhere… a cyclist comes riding across the bridge and before we could even think to hold his hand, John darts out in front of him. I scream: “John!” and the cyclist screams “Whoa, Whoa, Whoa!” and slams on his breaks in a panic, coming to a screeching stop. Not quite understanding, John hurried back to our side and the cyclist rode off.

On our way home, I started crying. Jeremiah was still in shock too. That experience showed me that I have a whole new set of fears I didn’t know I had. God has told us in His Word that He’s not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind. But now what? What does that mean? What does it mean to live by faith, this faith I’ve been called to?

Being responsible…When I was crying, the fears flooding through my mind made God’s word seem stale. Could I trust God to protect John in the future…and me and my family? I mean, shouldn’t I help God out and do what is responsible? My heart wrestled. What seems most responsible is to not return to the lake. It is too dangerous! My insides were being seized by fear, and I was doing everything that I could to muster up some sort of faith that would set me free. I felt compelled to act, but if I did, would I even know what was best? I needed to be free.

Yes, free. It is for freedom that Christ has set us free! Monday taught me that nothing will deflate our spirit faster than fear. Faith in God’s promises gives us the confidence and courage to experience the freedom and joy of the fullness of life. We were created to go to the lake with our family. I was made to watch John sprint down the grassy knoll, laughing with joy as he kicked up the leaves in the air.

Yes, I want that joy that comes with such faith- the faith of a child. John’s life became to me a vivid picture of faith. He lives by faith. Questions about how his needs will be met don’t go through his head. He doesn’t wonder if he will be safe. John’s faith allows him to be free.  John had such delight because he ran freely without inhibitions and fears that would keep him from running. John’s faith doesn’t know such fear. That is why he could laugh and smile when he shuffled his feet through the leaves.

Today, God is helping me to run again. Monday’s experience was tough, but I’m looking forward to going back to the lake again with my family. I haven’t figured it all out, but I know that I’m a weak vessel and I must trust God. There is an “abundance of life” that we were created to enjoy. In fact, I’m learning to enjoy it in a whole new way that I did not know before. Jesus said, “If the Son has set you free, you will be free indeed.” Our faith in Christ is our very freedom. I am free. Yes, I am free, indeed.

* This article was a team effort. Thank you, Jeremiah, for helping me write and edit the story.

Choosing Gratitude

This week- just a day before Thanksgiving- I’ve been reminded of how ungrateful I am over so many things. It’s such a crazy thing because I’d normally consider myself a thankful person but I’ve been taking a good look into my heart and I’ve found some ugly parts that aren’t so beautiful.

Like being ungrateful that:

  • we live in a tiny apartment with no space for anything
  • I can’t fit into any jeans because I’m in the awkward stage of post pregnancy
  • we are always paying bills and can’t seem to build our savings account how we want
  • the weather is 80 degrees in late November
  • I rarely have time for “me” because my toddler needs constant attention

Instead of being grateful that:

  • we have a warm bed to sleep in, a roof over our head, and seminary life is for a season
  • I just gave birth to a beautiful, healthy baby girl
  • God has given us the ability to make money and our needs are met above and beyond
  • It’s not so cold that you can’t go outside
  • I’m investing into the life of my child so he can make a difference in the world one day

It’s hard to be thankful when things aren’t always the way I hope they’d be. But supernaturally, God is able to help me choose gratitude and give me real joy– every day- not just when I’m gathered around the table for turkey once a year.

And that is what’s beautiful!

Be joyful always, pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. – 1 Thes. 5:16-18

where is the love, oh Christian?

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about our responsibility as Christ-followers to love the world around us. I’ve also been thinking about what true joy looks like in the life of a believer.

I get so confused when I meet people who claim to follow Christ, but who never smile, go out of their way to love, or have any kind of joy. It actually really bothers me. My friend asked me the other day: “Are some Christians just like that naturally, and others are not?”

It was a great question. I think yes, it has to do with personality- some display it more clearly, but I also think there is something more to why joy might be lacking.

I’m not saying I always have a smile on my face, am a joyful person, or love people all the time (just get to know me personally and you’ll surely see my off days) but overall, I hope and pray that people see a joy radiating within me, that only Christ can give. That they see a love and joy that is contagious even in my imperfections.

If we’ve been called to love the world, can that happen apart from joy? I mean, there needs to be some kind of joy in our lives to love well, right? Otherwise, I think the danger of loving people out of duty instead of delight creeps in and that’s a bad place to be.

Are you ever bothered by “Christians” who lack genuine love and joy in their life?

the best kept secret

2785596455_848c54e8beIt’s been cloudy and raining here in Dallas for four days now. By now, I’ve heard plenty of comments about the weather and I too, wish the sun would come out again.

Contentment. I’m learning a lot about its meaning lately. God is doing a lot in our life as a family. We’ll be moving in less than two weeks from our 1200 sq. ft. apartment to a 780 sq. ft. apartment! We are ending our 2 year commitment as a CARES Team serving the residents in our apartment community through meals and events. We’ll be entering a new season of living on campus at Jeremiah’s seminary, Dallas Theological. It’s really going to be a good move for our family and there will be lots of young families to interact with who are all pursuing full-time ministry.

A lot of change is happening really soon and the temptation can be to worry and not be present in the moment. But I really want to be content. To not compare myself to others with what they’re doing or where they’re at, to not wish I had more money or more things, to not wonder how great it would be to be somewhere else, or to not wish John was older or I was younger.

The apostle Paul said,

I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength. (Phil. 4:11-13.)

Paul was no different than us. A lot of people put him on this huge pedestal, but he was simply a normal, imperfect man touched by a divine, perfect God. He allowed God to infuse his life.

So what exactly is Paul’s secret to contentment? He learned it. It didn’t happen in his sleep or in a few short days. God put circumstances in his life to teach him to trust and to depend on God. So whether he was rich or poor, well-fed or hungry, he gave glory to God because his joy and happiness didn’t depend on life’s happenings.

This gives me great hope today- that I can learn to be content too as God works in my heart.

Well on my way to work sitting at a stop sign, a car behind me laid on their horn for 10 whole seconds!  I was waiting for the right time to turn and I guess that wasn’t good enough. Maybe the rain and clouds were getting to that guy too. I couldn’t believe it.

Oh well. He probably needs to learn contentment too.

Give Yourself Away

One truth I have learned for the last 10 years or so is that to truly find your life, you have to give it away. In a culture that is intensely focused on the individual, it’s a foreign idea to get your eyes off of yourself and onto other people. But this is the life we’re called to live. And it’s not the easy road. It costs something. And more often than not, something great.

Jeremiah and I have served with Apartment Life for almost 2 years now. We spend 70 hours a month organizing and planning dinners and events for our residents in order to build community and relationships with them. The platform we have is then an opportunity for us to share our lives with them (the good, bad, and the ugly) and for them to do the same with us. Our hope in turn is that we can share Christ’s love and hope. God has given us some awesome stories of life-change. Seeing hard-hearted friends who were burned by the church and wanted nothing to do with God, start to soften and embrace Him. And to finally see Him as their loving Father.

Experiences and stories like that give me great joy in helping fulfill the command to be on mission (Matthew 28:19-20). I have found joy like no other in seeing lives radically changed because of the gospel. I’ve come to the conclusion that there’s no greater joy than making others glad in God. That is what I think it means to give yourself away.

No man is an island. We were created for real-life relationships and community with other people. That means living life among those who are not like us and loving them where they’re at. This is what I’m being challenged with and it’s changing the way I see life and the purpose I was created for.

How can you give yourself away and help others become glad in God?

Finding Love in my Son

IMG_9289Last night, for the first time, John Samuel fell asleep on my chest. Typically, I nurse him before his bedtime and he falls asleep that way. But last night was so special. I rocked him while he was still awake, sucking on his green soothie. His big brown eyes just stared into mine. It was a moment for just the two of us- Mommy and son. He was calm and so content. Then eventually, his eyes just closed.

My eyes welled up with tears because of the joy that lie in my arms. And to think that God loves us the way a mother and father loves their own child. The love is so deep and profound that it’s difficult to handle.

God is our Abba father who tenderly guides and protects us in his arms. His love is so wide and so rich. I am just now starting to get a glimpse of that love through my son. I truly can’t imagine life without him and I’m so thankful for the gift of motherhood and how it reminds me so much of Christ’s love.

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