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Women yearn to know, Do I make a difference_ Does my life really matter_ You matter in every area and during each season of every ordinary day. (1).png

Seventy-five pages populated the Amazon queue after I filled in the search box, “books about God and purpose.”

Women yearn to know, Do I make a difference? Does my life really matter? How can changing diapers, or shuttling children from one event to another, or moving out of active mothering and into an empty nest change lives?

Books line self-help sections of libraries and hit best-seller lists in the Christian market as eager buyers scramble to discover their purpose. But, the Father has scribed his purpose for us in his love letters and in the palms of his son’s hands

Remember Our Position

Take a good look, friends, at who you were when you got called into this life. I don’t see many of “the brightest and the best” among you, not many influential, not many from high-society families. Isn’t it obvious that God deliberately chose men and women that the culture overlooks and exploits and abuses, chose these “nobodies” to expose the hollow pretensions of the “somebodies”? That makes it quite clear that none of you can get by with blowing your own horn before God. Everything that we have—right thinking and right living, a clean slate and a fresh start—comes from God by way of Jesus Christ. That’s why we have the saying, “If you’re going to blow a horn, blow a trumpet for God.”

1 Corinthians 1:26-31 (MSG)

The verses above are a key component to the Christian’s calling. They almost serve as a checklist in my own life.

If God was looking for a “somebody”, he wouldn’t have chosen me. I was a premature baby born to teen parents following a shotgun wedding. After a few short years of marriage, they divorced and life swung from one chaotic, abusive event to the next under the hand of my stepfather. But, God? He wiped it all clean. Gave me a fresh start through the wounds that pierced his own son’s flesh. And, now, because of Him I remember my position and humbly bow at the foot of the cross shouting, “Amen! You have rescued me, Jesus.

When you called my name, I heard you. May I remember the beauty and joy of my humble position.” Can you relate to these verses, as well? How do you see yourself in them?

Remain Faithful

“My Child is an Honor Roll Student” stickers adorn bumpers, Christmas letters share the latest news about elaborate trips and accomplishments, and we splash reality as we’d like others to perceive it on social media. Pride can be difficult to defend against, but it is our enemy. Perhaps that is one reason we’re to remember our humble position. Not only that, but scripture exhorts us not to chase after more. More doing. More being. More proving.

Instead, 1 Corinthians 7:20-24 exhorts us to remain faithful.

“Yes, each of you should remain as you were when God called you. Are you a slave? Don’t let that worry you—but if you get a chance to be free, take it. And remember, if you were a slave when the Lord called you, you are now free in the Lord. And if you were free when the Lord called you, you are now a slave of Christ. God paid a high price for you, so don’t be enslaved by the world. Each of you, dear brothers and sisters, should remain as you were when God first called you.” (NLT)

Remain.

In today’s high-paced, look-out-for-number-one, keep-up-with-the-rat-race-society, not many of us do well with just, well, remaining. But, remaining doesn’t mean “not doing”. It means continuing to be faithful in all situations–no matter the task. Whether we’re cooking one more casserole or scrubbing another dirty dish. Whether we’re driving to work again in rush hour traffic with a fussy toddler in the car seat. Whether we’re leaning across the table at the retirement home wiping our father’s chin as he asks once more, “Now, who are you?”

Remaining faithful to the calling to love God and to love others is more difficult than it seems.

Receive Power Through Prayer

Paul, Silas, and Timothy passionately addressed the Thessalonians about the power of prayer and its impact on their lives. Consider these words, “So we keep on praying for you, asking our God to enable you to live a life worthy of his call. May he give you the power to accomplish all the good things your faith prompts you to do. Then the name of our Lord Jesus will be honored because of the way you live, and you will be honored along with him. This is all made possible because of the grace of our God and Lord, Jesus Christ.”

Calling is not solely about an avocation, although it may involve one’s job. But, it is about the acts of service we are prompted to do for others. It the quickening of our spirit in response to God’s; when we sense him moving our hearts to respond to a hurt, a need, a situation. When we’re burdened to pray, give, weep, love. Those are the moments we become and live more like Christ—glorifying Him. Only through the power of prayer can we accomplish his work and fulfill his calling.

While Amazon may list seventy-pages of books about God’s purpose for our lives, the Bible outlines his purpose for all people. He sent Christ that all might be saved! But, we already know him and are meant to love the world as Christ. We are the workers, scattering seeds of hope in every area and during each season of our ordinary lives.

God will use each of his beloved daughters if we hold to the three truths about God’s calling on our lives.

1) Remember our Position

2) Remain Faithful

3) Receive Power Through Prayer

Peace and grace,

Tammy

 

I often link up with the following wonderful bloggers:

Mondays  Sunday Thoughts / InstaEncouragementsAnita Ojeda Mandy and Michele

Tuesdays RaRa Linkup /GraceFull Tuesday / Tell His Story/Anchored Abode, InstaEncouragments

Wednesdays   Recharge Wednesday Welcome Wednesday /LetsHave Coffee/Porch Stories

Thursdays Heart Encouragement  /  Tune In Thursday  /Salt and Light /  Five Minute Friday

Friday Counting My Blessings, Faith on Fire , Blogger Voices Network , Embracing the Unexpected, Fresh Market Fridays

 

Tammy Kennington is a writer, speaker, and woman who believes there is hope for healing from the most difficult situations.

Familiar with the impact of trauma, mental illness, and parenting in the hard places, Tammy hopes to lead women toward a deeper understanding of themselves and their relationship with the God who loves them. Her work has been featured by MOPS, Thriving Family, The Upper Room, Light from the Word, and several other publications. You can meet regularly with Tammy online at her blog

tammykennington.wordpress.com or get a free copy of her e-book Moving From Pain to Peace: A Journey Toward Hope When the Past Holds You Captive

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bible-896222_1920.jpg“Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” Mark 6:31

The mound of dishes extends to the uppermost edge of the kitchen sink and, reluctantly, I begin the process of methodically rinsing each plate, bowl, and glass before depositing it in the dishwasher’s plastic divider. I have just enough time to finish peeling the baked-on oatmeal from the insides of the crockpot before my daughter rushes around the corner with a look of concern etched across her delicate features.

Mommy, I need help with my math NOW.

 Casting a quick glance toward the stove, I notice the pot on the right back burner is spitting angrily across the surface. With a sigh, I quickly twist the knob to low and turn my attention to the frustrated middle-school girl planted directly in front of me. She is a diminutive package of frustration and tears and I can’t wait for the school week to come to an end because then I she will have a break from homework.

In that moment, the dogs begin barking uncontrollably—probably at a wayward rabbit passing through the yard—and a hungry teen-aged boy utters something about being hungry.

Me? I just want to go to bed. And I wonder why some days seem much longer than the standard 24 hours.

Jesus recognized this same weariness in his disciples.

Their day had been overflowing with prayer, preaching, and healings. The people–needy and desperate–longed for someone to make a difference…to change their lives…to offer hope. And that day? Hope arrived in the form of Christ’s own apostles who spoke comfort…joy…peace.

But by the days end, the men were as empty as my freshly rinsed sink. Do you ever feel it, too? The need to be filled up…restored…replenished?

Jesus offers us the answer. Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.

 Make your appointment with the Prince of Peace, friend. Breathe in the rest only He provides. Step away from the pressures of the immediate and discover soul treasure in the Eternal. He’s waiting to meet with you today.

 

 

 

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In the sheltered simplicity of the first days after a
baby is born, one sees again the magical closed circle, the miraculous sense of
two people existing only for each other. 
-Anne Morrow Lindbergh

I thought I understood love–it’s complexity, depth, and vulnerability.  Then I had children and all of my preconceived notions about love were shattered.  Blossoming in their place like a seedling receiving its first drops of water, a pure, true love sprang up.  Tender.  Unselfish.  Sacrificial.

It was a love strong enough to urge a sleep-deprived mother out of bed during the black hours of the night to comfort a colicky infant; a love tender enough to encourage a mother to stay for endless hours in the NICU singing softly to the baby struggling to for every breath; and a love dedicated enough to stretch and exercise her son’s twisted feet despite his cries of pain.

I thought I understood love–then I had a Savior.  Tender.  Unselfish.  Sacrificial.

His was a love merciful enough to offer forgiveness to a lost and lonely child; a love tender enough to be a Father when she was without hers; and a love sacrificial enough to give his life in her stead.

Parenting is the closest I’ve come to experiencing the sort of love He has for us.  Real love.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAs a little girl I imagined my name was Tamara–so much more elegant and interesting than plain Tammy.  I wanted to do amazing things…serve in the Peace Corps…write a bestseller…perform on Broadway.  Even now–mid-way through life and buried beneath loads of laundry and books about childrearing–I have dreams of being applauded as I belt out tunes to Les Miserables or Phantom of the Opera.  In reality,  I’m yelling through the door at my teenaged son who chose not to go to school because the traffic jam was too difficult to navigate.

I’m tired nearly all of the time and always seem to have crumbs on the kitchen floor.  My closets are only organized once or twice each year and the kids rarely wear matching socks.  Where do they all go? 

My husband and I watch movies in installments because we fall asleep.  The towel rack in the bathroom has fallen off–again. And, we’re happy.

Our home isn’t quiet–how could it be with three boys and a feisty little girl?  The children argue, have tantrums, and lose their homework.  Dave and I feel overwhelmed most of the time.

God may not have given me a stage on which to perform.  I haven’t travelled to third world countries to hold impoverished babies.  Instead, my challenges, joys, sorrows, and delights are directed by and immersed in this messy life of motherhood, marriage, and moments of worshipping the God who provided it all.

Joy can’t be found in the what-if’– it’s in those moments that make up living.  I think I like being plain Tammy.

Verse for Reflection:

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy SpiritRomans 15:13

Recommended Reading

Product Detailshttp://www.amazon.com/One-Thousand-Gifts-Fully-Right/dp/0310321913/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1356279769&sr=8-1&keywords=ann+voskamp

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Man walking away at dawn along road

The Prodigal walks the lonely road–determined…defiant…desperate.                                                                                                                                       Knowing his need, but unwilling to turn back he heads aimlessly onward.  Each weary step echoing his thoughts, “Help me. Help me. Help me.”

And The Prodigal’s father works hour after hour– captured by his unrelenting schedule–only to be greeted by the weight of sorrow and concern at the day’s end .  The Prodigal’s mother feels as if life moves as slowly and methodically as the boy on the lonely road.  Let me help.  Let me help.  Let me help.

But there is no word from the boy and the mother wonders, “Where is my boy sleeping tonight?” And she prays that God’s very warmth and presence would surround the Prodigal.  Then, she waits for tomorrow.

Scripture for Reflection

“Suppose one of you had a hundred sheep and lost one. Wouldn’t you leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the lost one until you found it? When found, you can be sure you would put it across your shoulders, rejoicing, and when you got home call in your friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Celebrate with me! I’ve found my lost sheep!’ Count on it—there’s more joy in heaven over one sinner’s rescued life than over ninety-nine good people in no need of rescue.”  Luke 15: 4-7

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Now faith is being sure of what we hope for…Hebrews 11:1

 

The beautiful garden unfurled its colors near the old, gray corral–a ranching remnant from the early 1900’s.  Nestled between the meandering creek and dusty country road, rows upon rows of corn, cabbage, peppers, and carrots displayed their bounty.  My mother spent hours there–tending the plants as if they were children in need of care.

The peeling, unsightly skin on her shoulders and her roughened hands were testimony to a dedication I didn’t share.  Many times, I grudgingly held my small pail in the potato patch.  “Pick off those bugs, Tammy!”  The thought of touching the parasitic beetles still sends my stomach reeling.

But, as much as I detested the potato bugs there were other things I found far more frightening and insidious.  I never knew if they were lying in wait–keeping quiet watch beneath the shelter of a massive squash plant or strawberry bush.  Rattlesnakes–poised to strike and hidden in the most unsuspecting of places.

That garden…those pests…the dangerous vipers.  Now that I have two teenagers, I often feel this simple farmer’s garden represents my life as a parent.  I run about–picking away at those dangers I see lurking on the surface.  I teach my children to believe…hope…pray.  Yet, I scurry about the fertile soil of their lives searching for danger.  “Pick off those bugs, Tammy!”

And my worst fears?  Those enemies lurking somewhere in the hidden places that I can’t see?  What am I to do about those?  I might be aware of their presence.  I may even be able to offer a warning.  Ultimately, though, I need to trust the Gardener of their souls–the One who bent to the earth and scooped their souls into His tender arms.  I may fear the danger, but He sees the bounty of a beautiful harvest.

 

Questions for Reflection

What is your greatest fear?  Are there any steps you can take to give that concern to God?

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Close-up of a sleeping infant

He’s been traveling a challenging road–one shared by more people than we’d care to admit.  And my heart has shattered into a thousand small pieces time and again when I’ve realized I cannot–nor could I ever–protect, rescue, or guarantee a painless and perfect childhood for my son.

And the question hangs heavy in the air.  How could a child who is loved thoroughly and prayed over constantly be thrust into the hands of Someone intending him harm?  My mother’s heart lacks understanding and I struggle with God just as Jacob wrestled with the Lord.  And while rolling in the dirt I cry out for mercy for my child.

When I rise up–aching, bruised, humbled–I realize the weight of this struggle will always be part of my life, my husband’s life, my child’s life–carried about as a reminder.  A reminder that belonging to Him neither exempts myself nor these young ones I love from hardship or pain.  A reminder that He is greater than all of it.

I can’t see beyond the rocks or debris scattered across the path, but the God who gifted my life with this precious one knows this road.  He walked it himself as The Carpenter’s Son.  And now?  Now he is going ahead of and behind my child–His child–to protect, rescue, and guarantee a perfect Eternal Someday for him.

 

Scripture for Reflection

4 Before a word is on my tongue
you, Lord, know it completely.
You hem me in behind and before,
and you lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.  (Psalm 139:4-6)

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMany years ago a Far Side cartoon featured a small dog and it’s owner.  The words in the bubble read, “Blah, blah, blah, Minnie.”  Like Minnie’s owner, I’m certain my words–though spoken–are often unheard.  I imagine it something like this.

Tammy:  Child 1, please put your toys away when you’re done playing with them.

Offspring’s Interpretation:  Child 1, blah, blah, blah…play with your toys.

And…

Tammy:  Child 4, call if you’re running late.

Offspring’s Interpretation:  Blah, blah, blah…run late.

Or…

Tammy:  Child 3, when you calm down then we can talk.

Offspring’s Interpretation:  You can talk.

You, too, might struggle with a similar problem.  Maybe your colleagues don’t consider your opinion, your children disregard your guidance, or your husband ignores your input.

Christ understands, friend.  His words fell on the ears of the religious leaders of the day, but they ignored the forgiving call of his voice.  The masses dismissed him as worse than a criminal and overlooked his promises of freedom.  Even Christ’s own family dismissed him as deluded.

But there are some who listen…some who respond.  They are the ones He came to save.

Scripture for Reflection:  My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.  (John 10:27)

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=e70q3p4DTjk#t=32s

 

10. You automatically answer phone calls with the words,  “I expected to hear from you half an hour ago.”

9.   You can wrap a sprained ankle better than an athletic trainer.

8.  The nurses know your son so well that they ask to sign his cast.

7.  You purchase a security system to prevent “breakout’s”–not “break-in’s”.

6.  Other kids visit your home so often that you’ve considered charging general admission.

5.  You’ve learned to interpret grunts as a positive conversational response.

4.  Before sports season begins, you buy stock in Stick-ups and foot powder.

3.  You now know that spinning cookies in an abandoned parking lot is illegal.

2.  High school secretaries are known to contact parents when a “friend” calls to excuse the young man from class.

and the #1 sign that you’re the mother of a teenage boy….

1.  When you watch him nod off doing homework, you’re torn between tears of joy and sadness because the little boy has disappeared.

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Watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them.   Deut. 4:9

One night–that night–changed my life forever.

From the beginning, it had been a fight for her life.  Within a couple of months of discovering I was pregnant with our daughter, I began having complications.  Restricted to limited activity–a difficult task for a mother with three rambunctious boys–and taking medicine according to a regiment any nurse would applaud, I prayed for my baby. Please, Lord.  Please.

On her own schedule, Heather was born seven weeks too soon–her newborn cry like the mewling of a tiny kitten.  Each breath was a struggle.  For more than two weeks, Heather and I resided in the hushed NICU–the only predictable sounds those of the monitors and desperate parents.

One wonderful day, my husband and I finally invited Heather Grace home.

When Heather was exactly one month old, she lay contentedly nursing in my arms during our pre-dawn snuggle.  Caught up in the wonderful imaginings of tea parties and doll houses, I began nodding off.  Suddenly–as if someone nudged me–I jolted awake.

Heather lay in my arms motionless and unresponsive.  “Dave!  Dave, she’s not breathing!” Thrusting Heather into my husbands capable hands, I began praying.  Please, Lord.  Please.

Her little body on the changing table, Dave checked for Heather’s pulse.  Nothing.  He looked for the rise and fall of her chest.  Nothing.  Leaning toward our daughter, Dave began breathing for his baby girl.

One minute, two minutes.  Help us, God.  Please don’t let her die.  Three minutes, four minutes.  Not our baby, Lord.  Somebody do something!  Five minutes.  “I think she just took a breath.  Did she just breathe?”

Five minutes of eternity.  Five minutes of total dependence on God.  Five minutes–and then a miracle.

How could I not tell Heather about God’s grace, mercy, and power?

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