The antidote to stress- kindness

I went to bed last night feeling stressed, I woke up stressed. Same as the day before and the night before. At the moment we have a major life decision we are trying to make and we need some answers about a few things before we move forward but the answers we need are slow coming. I was super irritated and kind of depressed last night because I have absolutely no control over the speed of this situation. All I can do is wait and I don’t like it because as you can probably agree, waiting is hard. I don’t like it. After my alarm clock went off I asked my husband who had been up already, “any e-mail?” When the answer was no I just sat down defeated. I just wanted wanted to pull the covers over my head and go to sleep and ignore the situation.

You know the poem I shared the other day, “do the next thing?” I’m really being put to the test because more so than at anytime in my life that I can recall I just having to focus on today because I’m justing waiting for some information before I can make plans for tomorrow.

I opened up Facebook and saw an update by Rachel May Stafford on Hands Free Revolution. She had posted about her experience of carrying around a bag full of cold drinks and looking for people who looked thirsty to surprise with the kindness of some unexpected refreshment. “This is how I’m going to beat this stress I feel about this situation,” I thought. “I really am thinking to much about me and if I can change my focus to others I can beat this stress.”

 

Racking my brain to think of ways to bless others took away my stress because it took my thoughts off myself. I sent a message to someone I know going through a hard time and told her I was praying for her. I baked peanut butter cookies and had the joy of seeing the librarians surprised when I told them I had made them for them. I put down my book today and instead listened to someone who needed to talk. I reached out to a foster family about bringing them dinner later this week.

Reflecting back on my day what started off with me feeling blah has ended on a really positive note because I feel like I made every effort to make the day in front of me count.

Proverbs 11:25 “The liberal soul shall be made fat: and he that watereth shall be watered also himself.”

1 John 3:18 “My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.”

Mark 10:45 “For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.”

challenge: next time you feel the weight of stress pressing down on you or you find yourself feeling anxious over a situation you can’t control, look for another person who you can share some love with. Find a way to bless them. A kind word, an encouragement, a hug.. Let me know how you get creative in sharing God’s love with others!

 

 

Happiness By Randy Alcorn

I’ve been wanting to read this book for a while now. I was going to request it at the library and see if they would order it for me the next time they ordered books but my husband surprised me and it was in the mailbox the other day! I’ve read on epm.org about the book and the subject and have listened to Randy Alcorn talk about it on youtube but the book itself has been really encouraging!

I read this quote yesterday that I wanted to pass along to you, “The child of God is, from necessity, a joyful man. His sins are forgiven, his soul is justified, his person is adopted, his trials are blessings, his conflicts are victories, his death is immortality, his future is a heaven of inconceivable, unthought-of, untold, and endless blessedness- with such aGod, such a Saviour, and such a hope, is he not, ought he not, to be a joyful man?” Baptist Pastor Octavius Winslow (1808-1878)

Be happy in Jesus today!

stay tuned! ….

I have some big big news but I can’t share it on here quite yet! I know, that totally leaves you hanging but stay tuned, there are major changes happening in the Snow household!! I’m actually in the process of writing the post about our news but I have to wait a couple more weeks until I can share..

In the mean time.. Have you ever read this poem? The very first time I ever posted on this blog I posted this poem.

Do The Next Thing

Quoted by Elizabeth Elliot

“At an old English parsonage down by the sea,
there came in the twilight a message to me.
Its quaint Saxon legend deeply engraven
that, as it seems to me, teaching from heaven.
And all through the hours the quiet words ring,
like a low inspiration, ‘Do the next thing.’

Many a questioning, many a fear,
many a doubt hath its quieting here.
Moment by moment, let down from heaven,
time, opportunity, guidance are given.
Fear not tomorrow, child of the King,
trust that with Jesus, do the next thing.

Do it immediately, do it with prayer,
do it reliantly, casting all care.
Do it with reverence, tracing His hand,
who placed it before thee with earnest command.
Stayed on omnipotence, safe ‘neath His wing,
leave all resultings, do the next thing.

Looking to Jesus, ever serener,
working or suffering be thy demeanor,
in His dear presence, the rest of His calm,
the light of His countenance, be thy psalm.
Do the next thing.”

Author Unknown

I have in the past turned to this poem in times of grief as a “motto” or a guide of what it looks like to keep going when life gets hard. Just “do the next thing.” Just place one foot in front of the other, not looking behind and not looking ahead, just take a another step.

Right now in life we have been presented with a wonderful opportunity and it is not a time of grief although it is a very big change. With a change this big it could be easy for me to get overwhelmed and the small griefs that come with change (even a happy change!) could easily be too much for me. I have recently been thinking about this poem again and Jesus’ words in Matthew 6: 34 “Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.”

Whatever you are going through in life right now whether it is a time of sorrow or you have joyous plans laid out in front of you remember that this moment is all we have. When I fixate on the past I become full of regret and get depressed. I can do nothing to change the past and I end up missing what’s right in front of my face. If I look towards the future and I fixate on all the unknowns and everything I don’t have control over and everything I think I have to do then I can get easily overwhelmed and stressed and miss today as well.

Whatever is in front of you or behind you my friend I encourage you to take one step at a time, looking to Jesus and do just the next thing. Don’t miss the beauty of today. Don’t rush through this precious gift you’ll never get back.

Here’s my challenge to you- what is one way you can cherish what is in front of you today?

For me, even though the changes we are going through are happy ones (don’t worry I’m not going to come back with bad news!) I feel like so much information is coming at me so fast that I have to slow it down or my mind will explode! (figuratively of course lol!) That means for the next week I’m going to put down my phone and step away from the internet to try and calm the amount of information that is coming at me so fast! Except for this blog because sharing with you helps organize my thoughts and definitely makes me calmer!

Stay tuned… 🙂

I’m editing to add my next steps for today. Here’s a little peak inside my day and my mind..

  1. spend 45 minutes cleaning the house so it will be ready incase someone wants to look at it today (we had an open house Tuesday so I’m hoping this will be the case!)
  2. get every one dressed and ready, finish making my grocery list and go grocery shopping
  3. make the 2 phone calls I need to make.
  4. take the kids outside to play

See, that’s easy! When I think in terms of what’s the next step right in front of me it’s not that much and it’s totally doable!

So this happened today…

I don’t know if I’ve ever read the book of Obadiah or not but this morning it was part of my Bible reading plan. It’s just one chapter long and as I was reading about the Edomites towards the end of the chapter I start thinking, “wait, is he no longer talking about Edom? It sounds like he’s talking about the whole world now. Is this prophecy?” I looked up the Bible Project’s video on Obadiah and it’s really good. Watch it and read the book!


This morning I took the kids to story time at the library and theme of the day was shapes and colors. This afternoon we continued the color and shape theme by getting out the new play dough set I picked up off the clearance shelf yesterday at Wal-Mart.  After we cleaned up dad helped E with some handwriting practice while I snuck outside to set up this surprise!

It’s bubble bath in the kiddie pool and ice on top the tarp and in the bowl. I came in the house after setting it up and looked out the window squinting at the pool saying, “Hey, E! Something strange is happening to the pool, we better go check it out.” I guess my tone of voice was a little too serious because she got scared and didn’t want to look! We had to convince her it was going to be something she would like and to go look. She tip toed until she got close enough to see what it was and then got really excited! T.J liked the ice and entertained himself by putting it in a little beach toy and carrying it around the yard a few pieces at a time until it all melted.

Hope you’re enjoying your summer and finding ways to stay cool!

New Gospel Tracts!

I’ve passed out a variety of gospel tracts of the years and most recently I’ve passed out tracts by Ray Comfort. With every tract I’ve used though there has been something in it that has made me slightly uncomfortable with passing it out. In some situations I feel that Ray Comforts tracts are great but for just passing out at the grocery store I don’t want something silly looking and I don’t want tracts that tell horrifying stories to make a point. If you’re  familiar with his tracts you’ll probably know what I mean. I’m not putting his tracts down I’m just saying it’s about context and most his tracts I don’t feel fit the context of ‘mom giving out tracts at T.J Maxx.’

I recently was made aware of matthias media and these tracts by a sister in Christ;

https://www.matthiasmedia.com.au/2wtl/resources.html

It’s called “two ways to live”. I like that the tract is very God centered because if you read enough gospel tracts you can be left with the feeling that a lot of them are man centered. I like this tract because I would say the focus of the tract is ‘God is God’ and not ‘quick! say this prayer so you can get out of hell!’ I’m certainly not against tracts that use the fear of hell to bring people to repentance, the Bible does that! I’m just seeing a need to tell the whole story- the whole story of God because the good news is the good news about God.

They are wordy- so honestly I don’t know how many will actually get read. That’s an issue that’s difficult to find an answer to. On one hand we live in a society with a crazy short attention span who generally doesn’t read but stares at quick images on screens. On the other hand, the Bible is 66 books that tells the story of God and although the gospel can be shared in just minutes with words a child can understand I want to avoid reducing the gospel to something it is not. Does that make sense?

This week I got to pass the first one out. In the morning I put one in the diaper bag and headed out with the kids to a story time at a state park. On the way there I heard on the radio someone talking about the missionary Hudson Taylor and how prayer was a major part of his evangelism. The voice on the radio encouraged the listener to pray for those they are trying to reach with the gospel. I turned off the radio and prayed for the person who God knew would receive this gospel tract.

At the state park I never did come across what felt like a good opportunity to give one out. This is where the story gets kind of funny.. That afternoon I was in the backyard watching the kids play in the kiddie pool when all of a sudden I started thinking about avocados. I couldn’t stop thinking about avocados- like I felt like I was going to cry if I couldn’t eat an avocado! Now, this is not very much like me at all. I actually make fun of my husband when he starts thinking about a food like that and won’t stop thinking about it until he gets it. I also really don’t like grocery shopping so it’s easy for me to be a stickler about only going once a week. Not this day though! I had to have avocados! I pulled my loudly protesting children away from the water, dressed them and drove all the way to town on a mission to get those delicious fruits to go with our dinner.

At the stop light I saw a woman holding a sign. It was 100 degrees out and there was no shade around her. “You thought this trip was about avocados huh?” I heard the voice of the Holy Spirit in my head. I bought a cold drink at the store and came back to where the woman was standing. She was at the edge of a dirt parking lot with nothing in it. She was alone and the area was highly visible so I felt it was safe to stop and talk to her. Her clothes were soaked through with sweat and her sign stated that she was out there for help and not to be made fun of. She told me about her situation which I won’t take the time to go into here- long story short there was really nothing I could do to help her. I gave her the drink and a gospel track and encouraged her to talk to Jesus and told her that He loved her. Nothing much, that was it.

I got another opportunity yesterday to give one out. At the grocery store they were short on baggers and the poor girl at the check out was moving as fast as she could to both check out the items and bag them. I gave her a small tip along with the tract (explaining what it was) and thanked her for helping me. She looked surprised and smiled real big and said, “thank you so much!’

If you’re looking for a new tract or want to start passing out tracts for the first time- check these out!

Summer is in full swing around here! Living for the glory of God

swimming at our favorite swimming spot and jumping off the big rock? check!

Go hiking and swimming on top mount Nebo? check! (well E and daddy swam- it was too cold for me and T.J!)

participate in a VBS? We did two!

We even got to do something I’ve always wanted to do- go on a sailboat!

I’ve been meditating on this verse lately-

1 Tim 6:17 “Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not high-minded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy;”

There have been times in my life when I genuinely felt guilty for having fun. I mean, shouldn’t life be spent just working and serving and soul winning? Is there legitimately a place for fun in the life of a believer?

Did you catch the last part of that verse? God gives richly to us all things to enjoy. Just look at the extravagant way that He created the world we live in. So much of what surrounds us was simply created by God for the sake of beauty and enjoyment. Think of all the varieties of luscious fruits and vegetables for us to taste and the beauty of nature for our eyes to enjoy. Sin would be to enjoy these things above God or choosing to be unthankful towards God for these things. Sin would also be to neglect the commandments in the next verse to do good and be generous.

Enjoying these things rightly can focus our hearts towards God and can bring Him glory. When I hike with my children I breathe in the fresh air, and marvel at all He has done by His wisdom and power. I thank Him for the time with my family. I’m learning to see these things as gifts from Him to enjoy, not as things to feel guilty about.

Enjoy your Creator today, marvel at His wisdom and kindness and enjoy all He has given you with thanksgiving! Whatever you do, do it for the Lord! (Col. 3:23)

 

Bible time with little children

At some point during the day when things are calm and I’m not in the middle of doing anything- usually late morning but sometimes in the afternoon, I say to the kids, “Bible time!”

I have a toddler and a very active four year old. Sitting down for a Bible lesson just isn’t going to happen right now. Each day we go to the same spot- the nursery. It’s baby proof, there are toys and a rocking chair. I close the door so the baby doesn’t escape and I pull a bucket of toys out of the closet. They can play, the only rule is no talking during Bible time.

I start off by singing the same song every day. “This is the day that the Lord has made.” I clap my hands, act animated and they ignore me and play with their toys. I don’t ask them to participate. I read them a chapter out of the book of Proverbs. Today since it’s the 8th I read them Proverbs chapter 8. After I ask E, “Is there anything you want to pray about?” She always responds no. (one time she responded horses so I thanked God for horses.) I then ask T.J, “is there anything you want to pray about?” He can’t talk so he doesn’t say much lol.

That’s it. I then tell them we are done. It lasts about 10 or less minutes.

Why do I do this?

Because even if they are just ignoring me and playing with their toys I think it’s important that they see their mother reading the Bible each day. Even if they don’t participate I think it’s important that they hear me pray over them, I believe that eventually they will learn to pray by hearing my prayers. I don’t think they comprehend any of the Proverbs but I believe that the discipline of faithfully reading them the scriptures will eventually grow fruit as they grow in understanding. I don’t know when that will happen but I will keep offering it through reading it to them until one day they do understand.

A couple other benefits are they have to practice a certain measure of self control since there is the no talking during Bible time rule. Also, they are hearing a portion of good literature and proper english each day that from an academic stand point is important for language development.

One day maybe they will join in with me for the singing. Even if they don’t I know E knows the song after hearing me sing it every day and I know T.J recognizes it.

I don’t try and get them to participate in any way other than  making them be in the same room as me and not talk. Our Bible time gives them an opportunity each day to observe my relationship with God and I pray for them that they will come to know God themselves.

I’m not 100% consistent but most days we get it done. Sometimes if my husband is driving I use that time as an opportunity to read to my trapped audience. 🙂

Do you have a Bible time with your toddlers and preschoolers? If so, what do you do?

 

I’m understanding the book of Psalms! (and how you can too!)

I’ve often heard how comforting the book of Psalms is. I’ve often been comforted by David’s words. A lot of the time though, I didn’t really understand his Psalms.  I understood the words of worship and of finding refuge in God, but triumphing over enemies? bones being broken? fingers being taught to war?

I just finished reading through 1 Samuel while also reading the Psalms written by David as he wrote them. I have pulled up on my phone a read the Bible chronologically guide and I look at it each day to see what’s next. I read about a battle David fought or a scary situation he was in and then read the corresponding Psalm. And you know what? Having it in context, it makes sense! I finally can know who these different enemies are and why they are being fought against. As I know what he is going through I can feel more intensely David’s crushing anguish or I can better rejoice in his Psalm’s of rejoicing.

Have you ever read through the book of Psalms this way? Today I read 1 Samuel 28-31 an then Psalm 18. Tomorrow it’s Psalm 121, 123-125,128-130 and then the day after that 2 Samuel 1-4.

Here’s the reading plan I’ve been using:

http://www.biblestudytools.com/bible-reading-plan/chronological.html

And here’s some really neat videos from a youtube series called Read Scripture:

Passionate Prayer

I’ve been struggling with prayer lately. I’ve been doing it but lately my time talking with the Creator for some reason I’ve felt emotionally dry as toast. I know that faith and emotions are not the same thing. I do believe God hears and answers my prayers even when I am emotionally uninvolved but at the same time I want to feel and experience God with my emotions. My emotions are a part of my being, a part of who I am.

I’m reading through the Bible chronologically right now and it has been really encouraging to me as I am reading through 1 Samuel to read the Psalms as they were written. To read what situation David was in and then to immediately read what he wrote and spoke to God in response.

I want so much want to desire God like Moses did and to love Him with the passion and zeal of David. I want to obey and trust Him like Joshua. I want to live humbly and virtuously like Ruth.

I want to know God and I know He desires for me to know Him but often my flesh gets in the way. My mind is mentally lazy, my flesh desires entertainment, escapism and comfort.

How can I have more passionate prayer? I don’t entirely know the answer. I know the place to start is by asking God for passion for Him. I can do nothing without Him, not even love Him without His help.

Another thing is spending time in prayer. Purposefully cut out distractions and entertainment so that my mind is uncluttered enough to think about God. It’s important for me to not listen to secular music (very often) or my mind dwells on that instead of on worship. What we invest our time in becomes important to us.

Faith comes by hearing God’s Word so it’s important to fellowship with other believers who can speak the Word to me. Also it’s important when I am with other believers to use that time wisely and talk about the things of God and not just goof off.

Time in the Word will teach me about God and His will. Memorizing scripture is huge.

Obedience to God, His Word and His Spirit is essential. I know there has been a situation in my life that I needed to do something about and until I took care of it every time I tried to pray all I could feel was conviction until I made the situation right.

Something I haven’t been doing lately but I’ve been thinking about is a need for me to switch things up. What I mean is, if I pray the same prayer list sitting in the same spot at the same time every day maybe that’s contributing to me feeling like my prayer life is artificial. If I felt like my relationship with my husband was getting in a rut I’d do something different! I’d plan for us to do some new activity for us to experience together and our relationship would grow stronger because of it. Maybe I should view my relationship with my heavenly Beloved the same and learn to talk to Him and worship Him spontaneously. To think of Him always.

Think about calvary. I hope to spend some time this morning amongst the business of caring for children during church to truly appreciate and reflect upon Christ’s death and sacrifice on my behalf as I break bread with other believers in remembrance of God’s gift of salvation and what it took to purchase it. Reflecting on the shame of my sin and the holiness of God and the truth that God bore that shame upon His own self should never loose it’s ability to humble me and to make me rejoice.

Just some thoughts I’ve been thinking. Jesus is knocking, I will open up to Him and He promises to sup with me.

Do these thoughts resonate to you? Do you feel like your prayers are full of passion or are you in a spiritual or emotionally dry place? What are your thoughts on emotion and it’s place in the Christian walk?

I can’t be her big brother

“Mommy..” she asks everyday, “will you play with me?” I don’t know how much guilt parents usually have associated with that question from their child but for me it is huge. I think, “If her older brother were alive she would have someone to play with.”

She’s playing in the sand, her little brother is not up for the imaginative game she wants to play. “Mommy, I wish someone would play with me.” I immediately feel like I have to step in and be who her older brother would have been to her. I play the game, I build the blocks I do whatever it is she wants trying desperately to fill the hole the loss of her older sibling that she never knew left in her life. Except I don’t have the energy of a 6 year old boy and I’m not half as fun. I feel guilty for that. I wish I could change the world and history and give back to her the big brother that she never knew but that should be here.

“I wish I had a big brother to play with,” she told me the other day. I feel guilty for not being enough for her and for not being able to be her big brother or bring her big brother back and the guilt feels suffocating. “Yeah me too honey,” my throat tight, trying to sound light hearted as I push back tears.

I wonder how I will feel as T.J grows up. Right now his sister can’t stand his rough housing and constant need to wrestle and I miss the presence of a big brother who could knock him around some like boys do.

Last night we sat down as a family to watch a show. I looked at the beautiful children on either side of me and at my husband. My eyes meet his and I could see the sadness I felt reflected in his eyes. “We have a beautiful family,” I said. “Yeah we do,” he answered. The rest we didn’t have to say aloud, “but there’s one missing.” We squeezed each others hand as if to say, “I know, I feel it to.” It’s random moments like these where the sense of loss is overwhelming. The emotion is an odd one, where profound joy and grief is happening at the same time existing together in this thing we call life.

I think often about how Jesus was “the man of sorrows” and anointed with the oil of gladness above all his fellows. (Heb 1:9) In Jesus sorrow and joy coexisted perfectly and I have to look to him each day to know how to do it.

Parenting after a loss is complicated and it each year brings new levels of grief and complications. The other day I showed E some pictures of Titus and did my best to explain in 4 year old language who he was and what happened. We haven’t kept it a secret from her, we’ve always talked openly about him but I think it was the first time she ever really processed it in her mind because I think seeing the photos made Titus into a person instead of just a name to her. She asked a few questions and once she was satisfied she ran off to play.

She’s been thinking about him and our conversation though. A couple days ago we went to the park and when another child came up to play E immediately said, “Titus died. He was a baby. He’s in heaven. I don’t know how but one day God will make him alive again.”

How simple. “I don’t know how but one day God will make him alive again.”

Oh to have faith like a child.

So what’s my conclusion to this post? There is none. The pain is still searing, the guilt is still paralyzing.

One day though I will be healed. It’s not today and it won’t be in this life. One day though…. I will stand with my feet on the new earth and ask, is this the spot Lord? Is this where he was buried? And then I will truly feel it as my faith is made sight. I will truly ask, “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?” I will see with my own eyes everything made better by our gracious God and the sting of death will really be gone. It won’t hurt any more.

May is Titus’ birth month. The 17th is his birthday. He would have been 6 years old this year. I’ll probably be writing about him more than I usually do. Pray for me.