Christians Aren't Called to Live a Tidy Life

Living a holy life is very different from living a tidy life. Life is bound to throw us some curve balls.

Ten—even five years ago I was the young wife and mom reading all the books and Bible verses on Christian parenting, keeping house, and being the most excellent wife I could be. I’m what you might call a rule-follower; a do-gooder; the “good girl”.

Yet in my 19th year of marriage and 17th year of being a mom, I find myself more desperate for Jesus than ever. While reading books, Scripture and striving to walk in wisdom has equipped me tremendously in my roles, they have not (and could not) save me from the trials that have ensued.

Being a Christian Doesn’t Automatically Erase Your Troubles

Don’t misunderstand, striving to be the best mom and wife and person you can be is not bad—in fact, it is commendable. But doing so won’t solve all your problems or protect you from hardship, heartache, temptation or even sin. Instead it offers us a life that pleases God and helps prevent dire consequences by our own hands. It minimizes the amount of troubles and negative consequences brought on by our own hand. But it doesn’t eliminate them.

A wise woman builds her home, but a foolish woman tears it down with her own hands.
~Proverbs 14:1 (NLT)

I wholeheartedly believe in serving our families and loving them well because that’s what God calls us to do. But what happens when this looks different then we imagined? In fact, what if our very ideas of what loving our family looks like are a far cry from reality? What if loving someone isn’t supposed to be done on our terms?

Living a holy life is very different from living a tidy life. Life is bound to throw us some curve balls. These are the moments that refine us…like gold in the fire, God is removing the dross so that we can shine. But that can’t be done without going through the fire, first.

Love is Messy Because People are Messy

Loving people can get messy. Because love is not self-seeking. And people are messy. We just are. We all bring a different story, experience, and even genetics to the mix that make us who we are. But that isn’t the end of the story. God continues to mold and refine us when we let Him. And He works on us all at different paces.

Maybe you’re dealing with depression or have a loved one who is depressed. Maybe you find yourself in a destructive relationship. Maybe you have adopted children who are super challenging. Maybe you are living with a chronic illness (or with a loved one who has chronic illness or injury). I mean really, the list is endless with ailments lovers of Jesus can go through.

Christianity is Not a Cure for Trials

Being a Christian does not exempt us from such trials. And being a Christian, we ought to have compassion on one another and encourage each other daily. We are supposed to help the body of Christ—our own brothers and sisters in the Lord—when they stumble or are in need. We should not be pushing or turning people away when they come to us for help.

For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike.
~Matthew 5:45b

Dear friends, don't be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you.
~1 Peter 4:12

So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.
~1 Thessalonians 5:11

Christians are supposed to look different than the world, not superior to it. ~Christin Slade

My encouragement to you today friends is this:

If you think your life is a mess, it’s not tidy, it doesn’t look like the “ideal Christian life”, take heart. There is no ideal Christian life. Yes, we can (and should) put our best foot forward. But we shouldn’t hide behind this mask of the ideal Christian when life is not ideal. The only ideal is loving and following Christ with your whole heart. Our circumstances do not define us or how well we love or serve God. But how we respond to those circumstances is what speaks the love of Christ, not only to the world, but to those around us.

And when we do make mistakes, are we owning our mistakes…our sin, and doing what’s necessary to make it right? Are we forgiving those who have hurt us or sinned against us, even in the deepest, most hurtful ways? These are the messes I’m referring to. Forgiving may not mean reconciling, but forgiveness releases us from a prison of our own making.

What I’m Not Saying

I’m not talking about the kind of messes we’re in because we’re lazy Christians, doing whatever we desire and are not striving to love Christ with all we are. I’m talking about the messes that come even WHILE we’re loving Christ with all that we are. Even when we stumble because we deceived ourselves but have come to repentance. We all fall into sin…some with greater natural consequences than others. Some (like addictions) with ongoing consequences.

There is no one way a Christian is supposed to look or “appear”. Are we to be set apart? Absolutely!

We are supposed to look different than the world, not superior to it.

We’re called to have compassion on people and love even our enemies. That’s what sets us apart. We’re supposed to avoid evil, but we don’t always do that. So when we find ourselves ensnared, we need to do what needs to be done to get out. And then work through those consequences—-which can be messy.

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This is true if we are on the receiving end of the one who’s doing the hurting. It’s messy. It’s gritty. It’s raw. But it’s real.

I won’t pretend to have all the answers and you don’t have to either.

We’re commanded to love God with everything we are.

And you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.'
~Mark 12:30

And we’re commanded to love others as we love ourselves.

The second is equally important: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' No other commandment is greater than these."
~Mark 12:31

God never said it would be easy, tidy, neat or exclusive. He simply commanded we love.

For His Glory,

Christin
ChristinSlade.com

When You Are Just Overwhelmed By Life

I know we’ve all been there at one time or another. And the last thing I want right now is for this to be another cliche’ piece on just stepping back and taking a breath. Or remembering “God’s got this”. 

How do you cope when it feels like everything is caving in on you? When You Are Just Overwhelmed By Life.png

I know this. You know this. So what is there beyond that? Does ignoring the overwhelm make it go away? What is there when life moves at the speed of light and there is no slowing down? What if things are painful inside your family life because there are hurting, broken people involved? People who have carried brokenness with them their entire lives because they didn’t know what to do with it other than stuff it? And then your dog dies. 

This is my reality right now. Maybe you've been there?

How do you cope when it feels like everything is caving in on you? Here are some things I learned over the last few months.

Here are 3 things you should do:

Talk to a Trusted Friend

I can’t stress enough just how helpful and necessary this is. We were made for community. God created us for fellowship and to carry one another's burdens and sometimes that can be as simple as talking those burdens through with a friend. Maybe they can't solve your problems for you, but they can listen and point you in the right direction. They can offer you encouragement and hope for your situation.

I'll be the first to admit, I struggled talking to people about my problems. I didn't want to be a burden on people with my own burdens. But you know what I found? Those closest to me were happy to listen and eager to help. There was not even a hint that I was a burden--but I had to step out and take that risk before I would know.

Talk to God

Don't underestimate the power of spilling your heart to God. It's in these moments when He offers us peace and clarity when all we feel is muddled and lost. I've found the best way for me to get my thoughts out is to journal. There is no right or wrong way to journal. You just need to be able to release to God whatever it is that is weighing you down. If you're not great with physically writing, open up a document on your computer and type it up. 

Write down everything you're feeling with no reservations. No one will see this except you and God (and if you want to delete it or shred it when you're done, that's fine, too!) 

Speak Truth Into Your Situation

Sometimes our circumstances can really feel bleak and leave us deflated. Sometimes we hate ourselves for getting into the mess in the first place or believe that everything that lead us to where we are is completely our fault. Chances are that's not entirely true. 

While we certainly are responsible for our own actions, there are some situations that can just knock us down and it takes us a while to get back on our feet. That doesn't make us failures or losers or less than. 

He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.
— Matthew 5:45

God is not punishing you. God is not angry with you. God does not have it out for you. 

When we find ourselves at the bottom, we can choose to sit there and pout or we can allow God, our trusted friends, and the Truth God speaks to us to help pull us out. We never have to walk these valleys alone. Stay in the Word and learn what He says and believe that over what you tell yourself.

 

Here are 3 things you shouldn't do:

Wallow in Self-Pity

It's not hard to feel sorry for ourselves or our situations...especially when we have a hard time rising above them. Seems any time we make any headway, something else knocks us to the ground. It can get discouraging after a while! It can seem like we are just not meant to get up so we can catch up, let alone get ahead. 

It's so important we distinguish between what the world says about us (based on success, reputation, appearance, etc) and what God says about us. We tend to lean more toward who the world says we are rather than our very Creator. God values us above the world. Who He says we are is all that matters!

Wallowing in self-pity will only add further destruction to your situation. It will only cause you to sink lower and lower into your self and all you think you've failed to accomplish or protect yourself from. There is a danger here of seeing yourself as a victim of your own circumstances...and while that may be true, it's not a place you want to linger for long. 

Solutions cannot be found in this place. 

Blame others

Sometimes it's difficult to take responsibility for our own lives, especially when we've been wronged, hurt, or were dealt "a bad hand" in life. Some circumstances really are out of our control. But we can control how we move forward from there (or whether we do). We cannot blame others for not rising above our circumstances because we all have the opportunity to be more than we are. 

Stay Where You Are

We are more than our circumstances but if we refuse to budge because we continue to drown in our own self-pity, we have no one to blame but ourselves. If you want to change your circumstances, you absolutely cannot stay where you are. If what you are doing isn't working, it's time to change things up and try something new.  But whatever you do, don't stay where you are. Don't remain in a "victim state". Don't complain and not act. Take responsibility for your life and fight for it. 

I know life can knock us down at times. The issues can be sudden and temporary or longstanding and constant. Don't let life control you... take control of your life when circumstances knock you down! Rise above it and come out stronger because of it!

For His Glory,

Christin

How You Can Prepare Your Toddler To Become A Teenager

There are things you can do while you're kids are toddlers to prepare them (and you) for the teenage years.

There seems to be a stigma that goes with parenting teenagers. I mean, I get that teenagers have their moments just like anyone else would. But I have to say, so far my experience has been mostly positive. 

I currently have 2 teenagers in the house, with a 3rd joining the clan in July, when he turns 13. 

Now, I won't say teenagers don't come with their own set of challenges and sometimes they can act like toddlers...and so can some adults. But they haven't been what everyone has warned me of over the years. In fact, I find quite a delight in having teenagers.

When my teen girls take the initiative to clean the kitchen counters or consistently ask me if I need help with dinner or cleaning or anything else around the house, I feel so blessed.

Now, I'm not going to say that just happened over night. Nor will I say that will be the case for every teenager. 

Toddler Training

When my children were toddlers, they were in the thick of training. The terrible twos were not going to be a thing in my house. (Actually, age 3 was worse, ahem).

Toddlers are a challenge because they are learning their own independence and often use that knowledge to exert their will. This is a time to train them that tantrums and tears won't get them what they want. It's also a time for them to learn they can't always have what they want. 

The younger you instill this discipline into your children, the happier everyone will be. Honestly, a lot of the shaping of a child's will really begins at the toddler stage. If it doesn't begin here, it does get more difficult the longer you wait. 

But it's also a time to work with your toddler's natural curiosity. They are learning about the world around them, so of course, they want to touch everything. They don't have a clue as to what's okay to touch and what isn't. Lovingly training them in this can help them understand their boundaries---and believe me, despite their disputing, they love boundaries. 

Toddler Boundaries

Boundaries make children feel safe and secure. They won't ever be able to vocalize that to you directly. But they will communicate it through their behavior. 

This is also a great time to begin to really have a regular Bible reading time. Teach your toddler the great stories of the Bible and talk about Jesus regularly. Your walk with Christ should be a natural outpouring out on to your family. We love the New Bible in Pictures for Little Eyes.

Mamas, I want to encourage you. The toddler years are TOUGH. I know. Lord, don't I know it! I remember wondering how long it was going to be this hard or was it ever going to get any easier. It does!! It really does. Not only that, but if you take the time to train your children, not just right from wrong or safety first, but begin teaching them about Jesus; prioritizing Him in your life and in theirs, you will reap fruit in the teen years you may never have expected. 

Marg & Gab

The Fruit Will Come

After 9 years of being in the same dance studio, we are switching studios after this dance season. Since we moved last year, we're now about 45 minutes away from the studio and it has been hard for our family to drive that distance three nights a week. And since I'm the one doing the driving, I'm exhausted from it. 

Their current dance schedule leaves Wednesday nights open but the schedule at the new studio, for their level of dance, puts them in class on Wednesday night. That's the night of youth group. 

Gabriella, who's been dancing since she was 3 and Margaret who only came into dance at age 11 but learned she's gifted in tap, both decided to drop down a level in dance so they would not miss out on church. This decision, made on their own, was surprising to me, but it also delighted me. To see my teenagers prioritize their lives {and wanting to} was watching the fruit bloom from the seeds my husband and I had planted so long ago.

Keep planting those seeds mama, because the fruit will come and it will be such a sweet time!

For His Glory,
Christin Slade