Parks’ Day

Image from www.emilycoring.com

Today is Parks’ day. Today we honor William Parks Coring, stillborn on March 20, 2016.

Today, we grieve that we lost this sweet baby. We ache for his parents who lost something so great you just can’t quite put it into words. We mourn because we feel cheated out of a life we were ready to love and cherish. But today, we also celebrate. We celebrate because we don’t need to stop loving Parks just because he isn’t with us. We celebrate because Parks taught us to slow down a bit and love the family we’re so blessed to share time on this earth with. We smile because we know that Parks taught his parents to take more walks, look to Jesus more, and inch even closer to our Savior, and there’s nothing more important in this life than that. We stop in awe in wonder that God could use such pain and heartbreak and somehow craft it into his miraculously perfect plan for those He loves. We take a deep breath and we trust because we remember nothing in this life is guaranteed and each day is a precious gift. We look toward heaven because Parks helps us remember every day that it is is real.

It might sound a little backward, bit we feel a little bit of expectation and excitement because we can imagine the day that we’ll join him, meet him, wrap our arms around him and tell him how much he was adored and loved. I can hardly stop the tears thinking about my sweet friend dropping to her knees and enveloping her son in a hug so perfect and so beautiful with every hurt this side of heaven healed as she is reunited with her precious boy.

I talked to my son Finn yesterday about Parks; I asked him to help us celebrate his birthday today. I explained to him that Parks was in heaven, with Jesus, and that we wanted to help his Mommy and Daddy do something special today to remember him. Surprisingly, he seemed to understand. Then he wanted to call Daddy and explain to him that it was very important that we celebrate Parks today. I realize this conversation, had while snuggled in Mommy’s bed at the end of the day, is such a gift.

Our dear friends asked us to come alongside them to honor Parks’ life, and legacy, and I’ve never taken anything more seriously. They are more than right. We need to seize the opportunity to love on each other, squeeze each other a little too tight, get outside and experience God’s beautiful creation and be thankful for the things we too often overlook.

Will you join my family as we honor our friends Emily and Travis today and remember their son Parks? Will you step outside (weather permitting) and enjoy His beauty? Will you spend some time at the window with your family watching the storm? Will you take a minute to squeeze your spouse tighter, tickle your kids longer, look into their eyes and appreciate them for the gifts that they are? Remember Parks today. And remember the God that gives, that heals, that loves.

Image from emilycoring.com

There is a time for everything, a season for every activity under heaven… a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance. | Ecclesiastes 3:1,4

Visit Emily’s blog to learn more about her journey | emilycoring.com

Cadence for Christ

Do you ever spin?

I have a love-hate relationship with spin class (aka: cycling), I always have. It is an exercise unmatched in required effort and energy. If I’m being honest, though, I really don’t enjoy it. I do it because I know it is good for me, it will help build endurance, muscle, and improve mental health.

This morning, I received a message from a friend who was just knocked down with an intense and deeply painful conflict. Very hurtful words, a deep disappointment, an insecurity scraped and made raw. This particular hurt was a spiritual attack. That was clear. An attempt from the enemy to destroy a good work in the making. Sometimes the enemy is just so obvious when he hits us right where it will hurt the most. My heart was hurting for her that morning, perhaps even more than my leg muscles were burning in that spin class.

All of the sudden I realized how perfect the parallel was. This terrible/wonderful spin class was exactly what my friend was going through, what we all go through when we are fighting the enemy for the sake of moving toward Christ and working for His glory. One second we are moving forward, cruising maybe, seemingly smoothly, feeling so hopeful and expectant about God’s plans. Endorphins are plentiful.

The next minute, we feel like we’ve been smacked right on our back, the wind knocked out of us.

Maybe it’s a hurtful word from someone we consider close.
Maybe a friendship was broken.
Maybe a criticism that hits hard and seeks to damage us to the core.
Maybe we realize someone we love is manipulating us.
Maybe we lose something, or someone, precious to us.
Maybe we learn news of an illness.

Whatever it is, it feels like a dagger to the heart, doesn’t it?

It is in that moment that we find ourselves being tested. Our muscles begin to burn in intense pain and become weary. Our bodies long to take a rest, to get off the bike and take a water break, to wish we had slept in rather than hitting the gym.

It is in that moment, in that battle, in that great fatigue that God is calling us to press in even deeper, to lean into him and keep up the fight, despite the strain on our hearts.

It may seem staying on the bike is a victory at that point. You may say, “at least I’m here.” At least, I ____ (fill in your blank here.) That’s not enough. He does not just ask us to stay on the bike, to keep the legs moving for the appearance of hard work.

We are called to maintain our cadence.

Our stride should not falter. Yes, during the uphill climb the pace requires much more effort. Sometimes it feels like we are moving through quicksand; so much work for what appears to be so little movement. Our muscles burn and scream in order to keep up cadence, but dear ones, I promise that our souls are building endurance. The endurance that can only come through the Holy Spirit to take us through this battle, and the next, and all the way to victory.

1 Cor 15:57 | But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Truth for the battle: Romans 8:30-37, Isaiah 54:17, 1 Peter 5:8-9, Eph 6:11-17, Hebrews 12:2, John 10:10

Grateful for the Every Day

Sometimes the best thing to do is to be grateful for the things that are hard.

The daily grind, the un-ending energy of a three-year-old, the messy kitchen floor, the black hole of a laundry basket, and the crazy of the every day. The past two weeks I’ve been down my better half and picking up the slack of the every day that he usually handles has made me realize how lucky I am to have such an active, hands-on husband. (You’re really the best Dan Monaco!)

Two weeks of completely crazy made me realize I’m so lucky to have the chaos, the mess, the sick kid that will only sleep on me, the time-outs, and, of course, the dance parties. Oh, the dance parties. I am soaking up every minute with these little ones, because the truth is, someday the just won’t be that little anymore.

What are you taking for granted today? What grumbling could you replace with gratitude?

You are what you eat.

Have you ever heard the phrase, “You are what you eat.”

Yeah, me too. It’s usually when you’re reaching for the second cookie, or the Cheetos or ding dongs or something really terrible and processed…and delicious.

Here’s another “Garbage in, garbage out.”

I usually would hear that one when I was pressing play on another episode of “Friends” growing up. I still hear my mom’s voice saying those words when I’m choosing to watch something like “Pretty Little Liars” or “Breaking Bad.” (Yes, I did just admit that I was a PLL junkie for a while. Woops.)

I was reminded of all these phrases this morning. I took a little break from writing for a couple of weeks in order to ensure that what was coming out of my mouth, or fingertips rather, was a reflection of what was going in. And, that what was going in actually worth sharing with you, dear friends. The truth is, sometimes it’s really not. A lot of times what we feed ourselves is lies. We snack on lies all day long, from when we rise to when we lay our head to the pillow, we hear these lies and we feed on them. Here’s what they sound like:

“You’re not good enough”

“You’re not _____ enough.”

“Someone else could do that better than you’re doing it.”

“Another mom would have more patience with them.”

“He deserves a kinder, better wife than what he got when he married you.”

I could go on and on but you get the picture. They are lies! First of all, I have to take a minute to remind you that we are handpicked for our children, for our husbands, and we are the right woman for them every single time. Our role in their lives is God’s appointment. Trust that as truth ladies.

As for the not-good-enough’s, perhaps this one isn’t a complete lie. Maybe it is just that we are only good enough with Christ. In John 15:5 he reminds us that we are to remain in Christ, and he will help us to bear fruit because apart from him we can’t do a darn thing. No good thing can come from us, that isn’t first from him. So in Christ, as we abide in him, draw from him, lean on him, we are more than good enough. We can do all things (Phillippians 4:13)

Next time you feel that not-good-enough-feeling, or you start feeling malnourished like maybe what you’ve been taking in and consuming isn’t sitting well with you. Remember this: You are what you eat — so abide in Him and feed on His truth. Garbage in garbage out, so put down the empty and pick up the word, and you will do all things with Him.

God made us to reach out, not pull back. Don’t let the empty and the lies beat you down. Reach up, reach out, and grab onto some truth and I promise you, it will pull you through.

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Phil 4:13
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5

Hearing from God: When We Limit His Voice

Do you ever feel desperate to hear from God, but life doesn’t seem to slow down enough for you to be still?

Maybe you are a mom who is surrounded by baby toys, a house to be cleaned, and small humans that depend on you.

Maybe you are a young woman leaning into your career with an around-the-clock-demanding job from which you can’t escape the stress.

Maybe you’re a single mom, or working mom, that balances both kids who need you and a job that demands.

Whatever your atmosphere, whatever your lot in life, there is no escaping that our culture is one that delivers a full schedule, a long to-do list, and many high demands. As women, we tend to want to do it all. Inevitably, no matter how great at juggling we are – and we can get pretty good – something usually has to take a back seat.

Perhaps you’ve resigned to not hearing from God. Maybe you think it’s not your season to dig-in with Jesus and you just can’t find the time to be still and hear from him. Perhaps time with him – quiet, still, and unrushed – just isn’t a reality for you today, this week, or this year! Well, God has recently been showing me something I’m desperate to share with you. When you limit God, Satan wins.

I tend to think that maybe I can only hear His voice when my bible is open and I am knee deep in bible commentary. Whatever your place is to hear from God, I promise you, it’s not the only place.

When we get overwhelmed with commitments and don’t make time for God because we feel there just isn’t enough time to carve out space and time to hear from him – Satan wins.

In John 14:23 we are told Jesus makes him home in us. He’s always with us, we know he never leaves us. So, why would an all-powerful God be so hard to hear from?

My quiet time was interrupted this week by a screaming baby who couldn’t sooth herself to sleep. As I sat in her rocker I was grateful for the cuddles but honestly frustrated I had to put down my devotional book and would be tied to the rocker for the next hour as I coaxed her back to sleep on my shoulder. And then, God whispered something.

“You can hear from me here. You can hear my voice right here and right now. Not while your hands are full of highlighters and study books but while your arms are full of your family. You can hear from me in every moment if you would listen.”

And just like that, the lie I had been believing broke open was exposed. God is NOT limited by my schedule and my ability to find an uninterrupted hour. He walks with me, he talks with me, and he calls me friend. He makes his home in me, in my household, and he is there in each moment that I invite him in to. Whether it’s a dance party with my toddler in the kitchen, or a quiet moment at 5:30 a.m. when the house is quiet and my bible is open, he is there.

I’m so grateful that his voice can speak into our life no matter what our schedule looks like. I hope he too can remind you today that he is listening for you to call out to him in the midst of your busyness, and if you will learn to listen for his voice, he too is calling out to you.

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