Be faithful in the little things? Who has time for that?

Do you know how long it’s taken me to clean my room, put away laundry and organize that one kitchen cabinet that never stays still?

Single motherhood came early for me. My daughter was nine months old. It was just me with her in a one-bedroom apartment in a 175-unit building. I worked full-time at an office and I had her in day care during those hours.

Looking back on it, it was rough. I would scramble in the morning to prepare “fresh” formula and fight through the guilt of sending her to a place outside of home for 8 hours. Then, I would gently wake her little body, while still maneuvering her into a clean diaper and her day care outfit for the day. Tight budget meant there was no buying lunch. Out the door with my purse, my lunch bag, her baby bag with her lunch and snacks, a stroller to hasten the 60-foot walk to the car in the parking lot. The trash would have to wait. The dishes will have to stay.

Then it was a race to the day care. Plow through the heart-churning goodbye to her little face, and I’m lucky that she was distracted by something that morning and she won’t notice that I left. Again.

Head to the office, only to scamper to the card reader so that my supervisor saw that I was still only 5 minutes late instead of the usual 15. I get to my desk and I try to push out thoughts, wondering if I have enough gas to last me through the week. Good thing she doesn’t eat real food yet. I can survive on a ham sandwich for dinner and she can have spoons of cereal and fruit. How many jars do I have left? Maybe I can go to Target on my lunch time. I’m so tired. I’m tense, but I don’t know it. Life is hard.

It wasn’t until a few months ago (which is almost thirteen years later from the scene I just described), that I noticed I still had trauma from that time period. I have awful home habits because I kept resetting to the time when I couldn’t get to everything in the home because I was so frantic that she would get hurt. I would cut chores short. I would only do half of something or take days to put something away. I would literally “drop everything” just so I can see that she’s okay in the other room. Most times, I’d prefer to hold her than vacuum.

For my beloved home managers out there who are excellent at keeping a clean, organized, green-efficient home, I want to be like you when I grow up. But for now, this is where I am.

Recently, God brought up Luke 16:10, “He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much.” (KJV) Instead of feeling like a BH&G failure, the Lord gave me the comfort and reassurance that He has brought me to a place in my life where I CAN be faithful in those things that I would stumble over.

Jesus was never in a rush. He got to where He needed to go, at the appointed time. This verse usually spoke to me about responsibility, thoroughness of doing an excellent job, and fulfullling obligations (pounds fist on old wooden desk).

But this time, God calmed my heart with this same verse, as if to say, “Look how far I’ve brought you. Life doesn’t have to be so fast. You’re not alone in that one-bedroom apartment with an infant and a job that won’t cut you any slack. You are safe. In a new place. You are under my timing.”

This has been a simplistic and profound part of my healing. To learn that the Lord really is interested in every aspect of our lives, even the ones that we thought weren’t important to Him. Okay, so my house isn’t spotless and I’m still kind of a 9-yr old when it comes to laundry (although I’ve seen diligent 9yr olds), but isn’t this a meaningful beginning?

I pray that you ask God to give you calmness in your heart about those areas in your life that are under pressure. I pray that you can enjoy the permission and comfort that the Lord has given us to be faithful in the little things.

Blessings,

Mahal

Suffering is a Sacred Thing

Trials are difficult. I don’t like them. I aim to avoid them. But they come. At times, they sideswipe me. I feel knocked down and it’s doubtful how I’d climb out of that pit.

I heard once that God trusts us with our pain, and it depends what we do with it, if we’ll choose to praise and honor the Lord, or if we’ll blame everyone else for it.

I learned that suffering is a sacred thing. God has specific windows of opportunity to show up during a difficult stage in life in ways that He would not have otherwise been glorified. I have personally experienced deep levels of peace and vibrant energy when I rehearse in my mind that God is walking through the fire with me.

I am reminded that He is a Holy God. He is pure, perfect and right. Suffering is, at times, a form of sanctification. It separates us from the mainstream and refines our relationship with the Lord. Don’t you notice a renewed strength in your disposition after going through a challenging phase in life or after struggling with something untrue? After you’ve held on to God, isn’t it a victorious feeling to know that you didn’t back down? That you didn’t run away? That you held on and the Lord came through, as He does every time?

Those experiences bring a dynamic meaning to contentment. It isn’t a picture of a ho-hum believer, passively allowing situations to happen. It’s a proactive, fervent reach for God. I think sometimes we envision contentment as sitting still, with no opinion or discernment. Maybe to some people, that might be true. But in other cases, it is a real and almost electric steadiness, a deep and solid resolution that we will not back down from what God has for us. Philippians 4:11 “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.”

I pray that you have an opportunity to change your perspective on suffering and race to God for protection, perspective, and most of all, contentment.

Blessings,

Mahal

37 and Why I’m Not Shy To Tell People

I’m the exception to the rule that you shouldn’t ask a lady her age. Wait, let me clear this up. Not bec i’m not a lady! Because I made it to this age and stage in my life. I have so much to be thankful for!

The hardship season with cancer treatment gave me the gift of perspective and raised my eyes to the wonderful opportunities of praise and confrontation that would not have otherwise stepped to the foreground of my life, if it were not for that trial.

Last night, I prepared a small dinner for my daughter, as she sat at the dining table, blasting music from the laptop, working steadily on her homework. I went to bed early with a book that I’d been wanting to get into.

It might sound like a simple evening. But what it took to get to that level of stability in my life has been miracle and mercy from the Lord. Who would have known that He would take me halfway around the world, after all the moving around I did as a kid, from the confusing situations and sudden notices of change, that He would lead me to this wonderful church to finally hear clearly His Gospel and get saved?

Stumbling through the obstacles of single parenthood, trying to make the right decisions for my family, purposing to have a peaceful, Christ-centered home, learning about God’s promises and design for family – all of these efforts have been challenging, sometimes, a struggle. Multiple sessions of prayer and brokenness, re-surrender, and getting back  up after each time with new, fervent prayer for more of His grace.

Knowing all that He has done for me, I’ve no reason to mask my age. Do you realize what He brought me out of?

I get the social niceties and it’s tongue-in-cheek that I kid about age. When I turned 30, I trained my daughter to say I was “29 forever.” But honestly, I couldn’t wait to get into my thirties. My twenties were dented and smeared with so much drama, instability, reckless emotion and uncertainty. I was happy to get into the age that made more sense to me. (I’m kidding, again, sort of).

Because of my growth in the Lord, I probably went through the most change between 31-34, with the Holy Spirit constantly steering me to path of making firm decisions for God. The calm before the storm was 35. Thirty-six was hard. It included cancer treatment and early stages of recovery. I would actually skip the number altogether. I would just say, “I’ll be 37 in ‘x’ months.”

And here we are now. 37. The amazing work and covering of love that God has done in my life shows up in quiet dinners and powerful messages in Scripture. That’s why I’m not shy to say, “I’m 37. And let me tell you what He has already done for me…”

I pray that if you haven’t trusted Jesus as your Saviour, then don’t wait until your next birthday. You can do that now!

If you have already trusted Christ, then ask Him to show you something new and wonderful in this year of life.

Blessings,

Mahal

3 Ways I Killed Pride

One week, I’m a fiery prayer warrior and it seems like an extended exhilaration, from going to church to calling people to encourage them. Then, in the span of one week – kaput! I got the flu, which wasn’t the downer, but over the course of just a few days, I felt numb to the work and wonder of what God was doing all around me. —> dangerous ground!

It started with pride. One small incident of misunderstanding and it snowballed into a series of silent offences in my mind. Thankfully, that shield of emptiness was cracked open. Here is what I learned about how to kill pride:

1. Thankfulness. It’s almost impossible to be thankful to God without practicing humility and meekness in my heart. I looked up a short definition of being humble. It means to be lowly, unpretentious, without pride. I had to race to thankfulness for the little things, the familiar and customary, the expected and mundane. Praise God for the stability that we have in Him. He never goes numb! (see Philippians 4:6, KJV)

2. Repentance. I don’t like this word. It means I’ve done something wrong. And I have. (not my favorite part). This numbness is not from God. He is a passionate, energetic, yet unchanging and holy One. I’ve done a lot of coping with avoiding how to “feel.” Emotions made me uncomfortable. I eventually learned that it was just fear, in many forms, interrupting my well-being at many times in my life. Repentance “gives space” to the confession to that state of being and thinking. Lord, please don’t shut it off. We need to feel. We need to love. (see I John 1:9 and I John 4:19, KJV)

3. Service. The numbness implodes on itself when I’m trying so hard to protect my own interests. Reaching out and loving people under God’s guidance is a sure way to get me to feel something again. A body that is in motion tends to stay in motion. Also, the biochemical reactions in the brain and body from getting up to do something for God are very real. It actually turned out to be a way of balancing my life again. (see Proverbs 16:3 and I Corinthians 15:58 KJV)

**Okay, so the irony in the post is that it’s titled, “3 Ways I Killed Pride,” which, some of you nitpickers (ahem, detail-oriented) folks would point out using “I” is the loony pride example. So I’ll admit that I, myself, didn’t kill it. The Holy Spirit guided me through the process to identify and then annihilate it! (see Proverbs 16:18 KJV).

I pray you feel something today. If it’s heaviness, please give it to the Lord to carry it for you. If it’s joy, please share it with someone! Cheering you on!

Blessings,

Mahal

How My Daughter’s Father Got Saved.

I need to tell you a story about what God did.

This past year had two heartbreaking incidents for my daughter. Her father was supposed to serve time in jail and he told us he was going to court. [i guess this is where i clear up i’m a single mom but the relationship with her dad is civil and nothing questionable]. It turns out that he didn’t serve the time. He led us to believe that the reason we didn’t hear from him was because he was in jail.

But he wasn’t. Both times, we found out from other people who were also looking for him. The kicker was that he missed Father’s Day. I watched my daughter go to church faithfully, mention her father in a quiet tone, and she went about her day without complaint. We both prayed with heavy hearts for God’s protection upon him, as he spent Father’s Day in jail. At best, that’s where we thought he was.

When the truth came out, my hear broke. I grew up without my father. At the time, I used the excuse that he lived in another country and he couldn’t be there for me. And here her father was, living in the same state, one hour away, and he still chose to misrepresent himself and miss Father’s Day with his children.

But let me start to show how the love of God went to work in this situation.

1. Emergency response.

I told her what I knew. We prayed. She cried. I cried with her. We called our pastor for an emergency counsel meeting. He met with us, counseled her and me and recommended that she suggest to her dad to meet with our pastor.

The brethren stepped in and spent time with us, giving my daughter verses that reinforced the love of God into her life. They took us out to lunch, gave us a book, prayed with us, laughed with us and were a very present help in the time of trouble.

The young men and other deacons of the church checked on her, and perhaps in an indirect way, sent the message of reassurance through their presence, dependability and their ability to follow through on their word.

2. The meeting

She asked her father to meet with our pastor. He followed through with that two weeks later. I got a knock on my front door one afternoon while she was at school. It was him. He said he met with our pastor and GOT SAVED!

“How do you feel?” I asked. “It’s the best decision I ever made in my life,” he said. He got baptized one month later.

3. The reality

He is still a new Christian. If you’re a believer, please pray for his growth in the Lord. My daughter also suggested that the best place for them to meet is at church. What a wonderful place to mend and build a relationship between a father and his daughter.

But look at this from the perspective of my daughter. She is being raised in a single parent home. She grew up in the church, accepted Christ at an early age. She goes to public school and goes through the typical comedy and crisis of pre-teen life. But she can honestly say that both of her parents are Christians! What a beautiful new reality for her.

What is the price of a soul?

Is there someone whom we think is too far gone? Are we willing to believe that God could still get a hold of them?

Can we pray? If we can, we should try.

Ephesians 3:19 says, “And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.”

Blessings,

Mahal