Soul Rest//Steph

Some days I feel like I’m playing a game of “Are you smarter than a 2 year old?” And the 2 year old is winning.

After a long week battling it out over nap time I find myself tired, pregnant, emotional, and feeling a bit drained. Life doesn’t stop because my son isn’t napping. Let me back up and say when you are a mom, and you often work from home, and you need to nap yourself because your body is tired from growing another human… nap time is PRECIOUS. It’s everything. You hold on for dear life. So when my toddler climbed out of his crib for the first time the other day I thought to myself, “Oh no! Game changer. This is bad!” We were both so tired and we both shed lots of tears that day (and most days this week). I just lost control of 1:30-4:30 pm. In the big picture, it’s just nap time. But today? Today it doesn’t feel that way.
It’s 3:49 AM as I type this because I cannot sleep. I had this stressful dream that I was trying to keep a bat in the basement but it had other plans. The bat wanted to fly around catching creatures and I was determined to keep it contained downstairs. I woke up realizing Benaiah is the bat and he just does not want to stay in his crib. He wants to color and watch Daniel Tiger and organize his blocks. The connection in my dream was pretty obvious when I shut the basement door and the bat suddenly yelled, “I wanna snuggle mama!” Which is what Benaiah does when I try to put him down for a nap. He’s pretty smart for a 2 year old.. which is a big reason why I’m losing this game of “Are you smarter than a 2 year old?”
So I was trying to fall back asleep. Anxious. Irritated to lose even more sleep while he was peacefully lying in his crib storing up energy for our battle later this afternoon. And then Jesus.
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Jesus reminds me I don’t have to do it alone. When I’m drained he’s not surprised or disappointed that I can’t. He invites me to sit closer, He draws me closer. He says You can’t do it alone but you don’t have to. He offers me strength and rest.
At that point I started thinking about rice chex (I am pregnant after all). So when I can’t sleep I eventually get hungry and crave rice chex. I check my email over a bowl of cereal… Day 6 of 40 days of prayer and fasting for Cru staff (confession: I’m not fasting). I have a verse from Cru delivered to my inbox. I’ve read it 100 times before but tonight is different.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in hear
t, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” 
Matthew 11:28-30 (NIV)
My heart races.
Rest for your souls.
Rest for my soul.
 
And the tears fall. Jesus knows that’s what I need and He allowed it to reach my inbox at just the right time. It’s not just that my body is tired. My soul needs rest and the Bible tells us exactly where to get it. Jesus is the answer. He understands. He offers. He waits. He loves. He invites.
 
We can’t pour into others without resting in Jesus first. You might not be wrestling a toddler (yet) but you probably have a different “bat” in your life. Is there an area where you feel like you can’t keep up? You’re striving. You’re tired. You’re over it. You can’t win this battle on your own. Rest in Jesus. Tell Him. Tell Him when you doubt He’s even real and you’re not sure He still sees you. Tell Him what’s going on and ask for rest for your soul. It will come.
Because you are fully seen and you are fully loved.

At 20//What I wish I had known//Brooke & Steph

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Brooke Barnett: There are so many things I wish I had known.  The first thing though that came to mind is how much time I wasted.  It seemed, in college, with every guy I met[that was a “good” guy at least] I would start to wonder, “Could this be him?” I would dream and pray and pray and dream. My journals were f-u-l-l of prayers about specific guys or just general prayers about my future husband. I was so self focused.  I was leading Bible studies and discipling girls but if you read my journals you would think that the point of life was to get married. And not to love God and love people and reach the nations.  I made an idol out of marriage & guys. I wish I had chosen more to be present…to serve…to treasure time in the Word..and to share my faith…

However,  don’t get me wrong–praying for your future husband can be a good thing! I do feel that God honored some of those prayers because I now get to share life with an incredibly loving, humble, strong, funny, perfect-for-me man! However, in my case it was consuming. I thought too much about marriage–& not the people that God had put right in front of me.  Can you relate?  Ask God to help you use your time in a worshipful, purposeful way.

Steph Lamb: I wish I had known at 20….
1) Just because I was single at 20 (and even at 25 for that matter) did not mean I was going to be an old cat lady who was doomed to be “single forever” like I once thought. I met my husband at age 25, got engaged when I was 26, married at 27, and became a mom at 28. While being a wife and mom is beyond wonderful, life didn’t start with finding a man. Between graduating college and meeting my husband I had adventures I would not have experienced if I was already married. I enjoyed living with other single friends, going to parties in D.C., eating out way too often, and taking road trips with friends. Oh the road trips! I learned to depend on God instead of a man, took a group on a missions trip to Venezuela, built deep friendships, and more. I would like to say I lived life to the full but the truth is instead of enjoying each day I often longed for what was next. I wish I had known to live life in the moment and enjoy the gift of each day.
2) In spite of my fear of being single I have learned that singleness really is a gift. I have single friends in their 30s who live full, happy, and meaningful lives. They are impacting the Kingdom, traveling, and loving life. They can do things I can’t do in this stage as a mom. Singleness is easier in some ways and harder in other ways. It’s not better or worse, just different. I wish I had seen singleness as a gift instead of a curse.
3) Purity really is worth striving for. God’s plan for you and your body is better than anyone else’s plan for you. It is a battle (often daily) and you will have to fight. Don’t give up. “It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God.” 1 Thess. 4:3-5
4) Jesus is better. I think I “knew” this one without really believing it. And I still struggle now to believe it in some ways. But Jesus is better than any relationship this world has to offer. He is more satisfying. He knows you completely and loves you anyways. If you let Him in, like really let Him in, He will change you and satisfy the desires of your heart. When you are satisfied in Christ you can be in a relationship centered on Him. A dating relationship centered on Jesus is the only kind worth having.
Check back tomorrow for day 3 of 3 in our loveeee series…

Don’t Fight The Plan//Steph//Day seven

How sweet to read this week of advent posts! I’m so thankful Christmas is more than giving or getting the “right gift”. More than pretty lights on houses and yes, even more than spending time with loved ones. My sisters have done a great job writing out their thoughts on advent. What has struck me this year is how many of us can relate to Mary for different reasons. I was discussing her situation with some friends recently. We realized how much Mary had to let go of control. She didn’t get to choose when to have a child or even pick her baby’s name. Isn’t that something we love?  Being in control. Maybe that’s why it’s so hard to obey God at times.

Mary was just a teenager (so young!) when she was told she would a have a baby who would be the “Son of the Most High”. Wouldn’t you have been a bit intimidated? But Mary’s response is striking. She could have asked, “Why me?” She could have made excuses. She could have grown prideful (as I’m sure I would have). But she simply asks how this is possible since she is a virgin (fair question, right?). She then says, “I am the Lord’s servant, may your word to me be fulfilled.” 
“I am the Lord’s servant.” Her reply is simple and we have much to learn from it. What a beautiful example of humble obedience. She doesn’t fight the plan as if she can’t do it. She doesn’t say, “Of course God chose me. I’m perfect for this role.” She simply obeys out of a humble heart. Not because she wasn’t scared. She must have understood God is good and He would provide for her if He called her. She must have actually trusted God.
What would it mean for us to let go of control and obey God humbly? Let’s ask God today for the gift of humble obedience in whatever He calls us to whether the call comes this week or years from now. I can only imagine how that might impact the broken world around us that needs to be pointed to Jesus our loving Savior. Jesus who humbly obeyed and came to earth as a baby, to live the sinless life we cannot live, and to die the death we deserve. In doing this He brought us real life. Better than gifts and lights and anything this world could ever offer us. 
I pray you are blessed by knowing Jesus more this Christmas season.