Fruit in the Desert

Lately, I’ve been learning about foster care and the brain development of children who grow up in a sea of instability and trauma. One of the most common themes is the discussion of resiliency – questions like, what allows a child to make it through rocky circumstances and come out the other side whole and hope-filled? Leaders in this field are asking, how can we help kids to become more resilient as they face incredibly harsh circumstances?

What I hear time and time again is that the likelihood for heightened resiliency hinges on the child having at least one stable adult to trust and rely on.

When taking this observation and juxtaposing it with the topic of identity, I’m struck by the parallels, how our ability to see God at work in hard spaces is intertwined with our trust. This can be the defining difference between thriving and floundering through life.

Identity Rachel Olson

I think the best example of this is Jesus’ own life — Jesus lived rooted in the Father.

He often took time away to pray, and always directed people’s attention towards his Father.

“Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words I speak are not my own, but my Father who lives in me does his work through me.” (John 14:10)

While life may lack what we consider “stability”, Jesus remained deeply connected to his Father. Jesus lived every moment with purpose; fully anchored in his Father’s will and his identity as the Son of God. There is no question he knew who he was and why he was here.

For us, it’s easy to forget. We need reminders of who we are and where we find life. Our identity is not based in what happens to us or around us; instead who we are is based in who Jesus is.

Our life flows from Jesus.

“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes, its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.” (Jeremiah 17:8)

Sometimes it’s easy to feel inadequate and weak. Like we can never be enough. On our own, we fail, but that’s ok. When we can find our identity in Jesus we will be resilient flourishing trees, because we rest in the trusted gaze of our Father in heaven. How beautiful, how hopeful it is that we can be in the driest of circumstances and still bear fruit. Good fruit, not because we are trying extra hard, but because we are so deeply rooted in Jesus that his life continues to nourish our souls in the desert.

Rachel Olson Identity

“I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in Him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. 

And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.” (Ephesians 3:16-19)


Rachel Olson HeadshotRachel Olson recently moved back to the US after making Africa home for 2 years. She hopes to live there again someday soon, where she enjoyed sharing life with hospital patients, learning (and eating!) new things and seeing God offer hope in life’s hard places. Here in the US, she loves a good street taco, card game or deep conversation with friends and family. She longs to see Jesus at work in all of life’s changes, joys, and struggles, and writing helps her make a little more sense of it all. You can find more from Rachel on her blog and Instagram.
Images from Pixabay
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3 Characteristics of God that Shape My Identity

God captured my heart at a young age in a Sunday school class located in the small town of Jefferson, Oregon. Despite the 25+ years of knowing and walking with Him, there have been poignant moments where I have felt my identity be rocked to the core.

For over half of my twenties, I wondered who I was, especially as my friends began to identify as wife, or mother, or career women. I didn’t have any of those titles. I felt like I was floundering. It wasn’t until a few years later that I could place together the pieces of my life’s puzzle (though God already knew the completed picture) and see my identity.

In those months of clarity, I realized my identity was never to be placed in my marital status, or career, or lack of motherhood. My identity rests in being a child of God. As a child of God, at any point in time, I can remind myself of the following three characteristics of this good, good God.

God is the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and End

John 1:1 says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Before time existed, God was. He is beyond time, which means I can trust in His timing. He isn’t anchored to minutes or hours or days, even years. He placed me in this specific time, for such a time as this. Additionally, God is the Omega, or the end. Revelation 1:8 shares, “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” In the end, God will be there. When my timeline doesn’t make sense, I can fix my eyes upon the God who knows no limits.

Sarah Dohman Identity

When my Soul Feels Unsettled, I Know I am Chosen by God

1 Peter 2:9 states, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” When I fight rejection, whether that be in relationships or career choices, I know my identity as a child of God means that God picked me! Of the millions of people He creates, He sought after me with reckless abandon. At my core, this is what I want. To be chosen, to be loved. I am not forgotten, but hand picked by a loving God.

Identity Sarah Dohman

My Identity is Anchored to the Truth that God Knows and Sees Everything

 Psalm 139: 1-6 proclaims, “Lord, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether. You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it.” Before I was even a thought in my parents’ heads, God knew me. He knows all of my thoughts and knows exactly what I am going to say before it is even said. God’s omniscience, or all-knowing manner, means He knows and sees my sin, and desires my heart anyway. Nothing I do is hidden from God, and that means I can rest assured as His child—known, seen, and loved deeply.

As I grow and mature in my walk of faith, I know trying times will come. They are guaranteed. My identity will be called into question, no doubt about it. Satan loves to wreak havoc against our souls and cause all sorts of upset. But despite the attacks, my soul will trust in the Alpha & Omega, the God who chooses me, and knows and sees me for who I am, His child.


sarah-dohman-squareSarah Dohman is a nurse, kayak enthusiast, coffee addict, microbrew lover, globetrotter, adorer of friends and family. She has a weakness for donuts, runs in 5k races, and cannot get enough tea and books. She loves writing more than talking (and she talks a lot), can be seen at Target frequently, and is loving life in her thirties. She believes God has called her to this space to bring joy and encouragement through words to friends and family, near and far. You can find more from Sarah on her blog or on Instagram.

 

 

Photos from Pixabay

He Told Me I was a Mistake; God said Otherwise

It was spoken over me like a puncture in my lungs, letting all the air out and causing me to gasp for breath. “I regret marrying you. This was the worst mistake of my life.” We’d been married for three weeks by the first time I heard those words spoken to me and it was far from the last. I was 19 when I first heard that spoken over me: Our marriage was a mistake. I was a mistake.

I was only a teenager, one who still was figuring out what my identity was and more importantly, who was the foundation of my identity and where my identity was rooted. Yet there I stood, amidst trying to sort it all out and suddenly I was being shaken. Vigorously.

Everything I thought I had established of who I was, stood feebly by while being threatened. I was a daughter, a sister, a friend to a melting pot of genres in school, a “good person”, a rule follower, a Christian, an A-student, a fun-loving girl who was playful and adventurous, and had just shortly before, proudly added “wife” to that list. I had a whole lot of security within that list and was feeling pretty comfortable with what I deemed as my identity.

Identity Kayla Anderson (1)

That comfort was quickly being challenged as the one who was the closest to me, the one who was meant to be my protector and fight for me started adding more words than I ever had thought to include in that list: controlling, the crazy one, not as pretty as the girls online, a terrible wife… a mistake.

It wasn’t more than a quick breath after I learned of his unfaithfulness in our marriage, that I started adding more of my own words to the list: fat, ugly, not good enough, undeserving, worthless, a used piece of trash tossed to the side. Just like that, my identity (or what I believed my identity to be) had morphed into something unrecognizable.

As our marriage crumbled and I was left to try to pick up the leftover pieces of my life, I started sorting through that list. Was I really fat and ugly? Was I really the one who was crazy? Was it actually my fault that he was unfaithful to me? And God, God, am I really worthless?! Will anyone else ever want me?! I had heard “worthless” and believed it for so long that I really had begun to accept and project it over my life.

It had so far seeped into my own list of my identity that as I sat in my parents’ back yard that late summer afternoon as our marriage broke, I began to weep as I talked to my mom about where my life was at. As I told her I didn’t want to get divorced because I had always committed to being a faithful wife but simultaneously felt so worthless and that my marriage was so far beyond repair and that there was nothing I could do to help it. I still so distinctly remember the words coming out of my mouth between sobs, dropped heavy as lead from the weight of my despair, “Mom, I feel so helpless, so isolated and so worthless that I don’t know what to do to get out of this mess and don’t know how to make my life better. . . I’ve thought a lot about just taking my own life to end it all.”

Within a couple days of that conversation, I was moved into my parents’ house and my ex-husband and I started the divorce process. In so many late nights sitting alone in the room of my childhood home, crying to God, to my Redeemer, I prayed and asked Him to redeem my identity. “God, what is left of me? Who do you say I am?”

One night, so late that it had now become the wee hours of the morning, I cried out, pleading, “God! Show me I have worth!” I so desperately needed God to repair the broken identity that had for so long been spoken over me and that I had started to believe about myself. I reached over to grab the Bible nearest to me, which was The Message (paraphrased version). I flipped it open and looked down. My eyes stopped on Luke 1:28. Right there, right in the dark of the long painful night-turned-morning, my eyes caught this verse. Like the wind being put right back into my lungs and my puncture wound being healed in a moment, my breath filled with life again as I read,

 

“Good morning!

You’re beautiful with God’s beauty,

Beautiful inside and out!

God be with you.”

 

As I read and took those words of life in, I could feel myself begin to heal and transform right there,  as I cried to God to come in and redeem – to remind me of His truth about my identity.

Kayla Anderson Identity (1).png

 

I’m beautiful. Beautiful inside and out. God is with me. I am a child of God. I am full of worth – I’ve been bought with a price. I am secure. I am loved. I am redeemed.

Thank you, Lord, for who you say that I am. Thank you for the secure identity found in you.


Kayla AndersonKayla Anderson is married (for better or for worse) to the one who she knows without a doubt that God created her to be companions with.  Together they have four young children, Ezekiel, Asher, Ellery, and Alder, and run a hand-crafted soap shop.  She is a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom and is in a season of learning how to gracefully be the central point and glue of their family.  Thank the Lord that she has Him to look to for wisdom, guidance, and strength!  She loves reading in the quiet, early morning hours, decorating their sweet little home, writing has been part of her soul since she learned how to write letters, and her love of coffee runs deeper than her coffee pot.  You can find more from Kayla on her blog or Instagram.

Finding God’s HiddenTreasures in Our Identity

I am beginning many new things these days, and they each require introducing myself to new people. However, these new circumstances come with the added advantage of written introductions rather than off-the-cuff, meet-someone-in-the-store type.

You’d think it would be easy! Part of the difficulty is that the forums where I’m introducing myself are all looking at character traits, values, and what-makes-you-tick, rather than roles I have or jobs I’ve done.

Identity Kimberley Mulder

But every time I concentrate on finding the elusive adjectives or identifiers I could claim as my own, I am stymied. What are they? What comes to mind immediately are the accomplishments, certifications, and jobs I have poured my efforts into. It is so much easier to list off a litany of achievements or positions rather than delve into the depths of why I did those things or with what attitude.

I find that I literally have forgotten my character traits! Who am I? What do I believe about myself? About God making me? It takes excavation, intention, and input from my inner circle to unearth them again.

But truly, regardless of what we do, it IS what we believe about ourselves, God, and the world around us, that drives the accomplishments and informs the way we achieve them. Our characters are the bedrock, and this is why Jesus was always addressing character. He shapes and sharpens us.

If we remain on the surface, continually defining ourselves by our latest success, then we are caught in a never-ending marathon to go further, do more, and continually prove ourselves. Each success glows for as long as the latest tweet goes live, and off we go racing for the next accolade; for if we don’t, we will fade into the background, into nothing. Michelle deRusha writes:

“When we’re deep in hustle-produce-achieve mode, we’re more apt to lose sight of our true self – the person created by and beloved by God. Rather than resting in the knowledge of who we are at the center of our heart, mind and soul, we find ourselves scrambling to define and identify ourselves by what we do.”

Kimberley Mulder Identity.png

We want, and God wants, the work we do and the life we live to be an expression of overflow from who he created us to be. He has uniquely made each and every one of us.

I encourage you to consider: How has God uniquely made you? What makes you tick? Look at your values and inspirations, look at adjectives and character traits instead of accomplishments. Study the identity statements in the Bible first and foremost. Get to know yourself as Jesus knows you. Pick up David Benner’s book The Gift of Being Yourself, or pre-order Michelle DeRusha’s new one, True You for some guidance in the deep work of understanding yourself.

If you want your work, your life, to be an overflow of your heart, then allow God to unearth the treasures he’s placed in your character and personality. Let Jesus identify your identity!


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Kimberley Mulder is a contemplative at heart who deeply enjoys the company of Jesus in the day-to-day of caring for her family of 5 (plus a dog and a cat), teaching English to immigrants, growing her garden, and writing. Currently, her walk with Jesus is taking her more deeply into writing as she leads a spiritual formation group at her church, and shares on her blog Living a Mary Life in a Martha World.  She treasures the truth that God’s Word does not go back to him without accomplishing the purpose for which he sent it, and that that Word is embodied in our lives. (Isaiah 55:11)

Who am I?

Author: Karly Grant

One thing that never ceases to amaze me (although I shouldn’t be surprised by it) is how when there’s something I’m supposed to hear or learn, God uses several different people and situations to teach me. He reminds me of that thing and makes it abundantly clear that I need to listen to what He has to say. Well, folks, it’s happened yet again. Over the last couple of weeks, the words in Psalm 139 have played this role. I’ve heard them in podcasts, sermons, and even Instagram stories. On sleepless nights when I need these words to seemingly random Facebook posts, I’ve been dwelling on, proclaiming, and praying over these words more times than I can count as God consistently lays them across my path.

While dwelling on the theme of identity, I was almost instantly reminded of something that I wrote a while back and knew that I needed to find it. After a little perusing, I found a note that I had posted on Facebook a decade ago. Guess what passage I’d included at the end? That’s right, Psalm  139.

I have edited the note a bit, but the message remains the same. I pray you are blessed and see how perfectly God created you in His image through these words.

Who Am I?

I am Karly Grant.

Possibly one day that will change.

I long for the day when I meet the man that God has for me to spend the rest of my life with, the man whose name I will take.

Who is He? When will God reveal His plan? What is His timing?

I long for that relationship, that companionship, that connection that can only be found in a marriage lived out by God’s design.

I long for the day when my husband and I will raise children: teach them God’s love, teach them to ride a bike, teach them to swim, teach them…

I long to hear their laughter, their tears, to play with them, pray with them, and comfort them.

I long for a family of my own.

I long to be a wife and a mother through the joys and the pain.

Someday, I may have this, but even if not, God is still good.

Karly Grant Identity

I am Karly Grant.

Who am I?

I am a follower of Christ.

I am created in the image of my God and live to bring Him glory.

Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior. He has rescued me from an eternity in hell. For that alone, I owe Him my everything, so why don’t I give it?

I strive to follow Him, to live a life after the example that He gave.

By His grace alone, I have come a long way.

I have been so blessed.

My life has drastically changed.

I know this, yet still, I wander.

Still, I fail, yet even when I fail, He is still there, still holding on to me.

I am His child. He never lets go.

I strive to live a life that is pleasing to Him,

Strive to let his light and love pour out of me and onto others.

I want to be like Him: love like Him, live like Him, serve like Him, pray like Him, bless like Him, follow Him.

I am a follower of Christ

Who am I?

I am many people, yet only one. I have many names, yet I am one person.

I am a child of God

I am a daughter

I am a sister

I am a friend

I am a prayer partner

I am forgiven

I am a co-worker

I am a worshiper

I am a witness

I am a shoulder to cry on

I am a ball of laughter

I am God’s chosen one

I am a woman

So, who am I?

I am many different people,

but most of all I am exactly who God has made me to be!

Identity Karly Gant

O Lord, you have searched me and known me!
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
you discern my thoughts from afar.
You search out my path and my lying down
and are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue,
 behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.
For you formed my inward parts;
 you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.
How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
 How vast is the sum of them!
Search me, O God, and know my heart!
 Try me and know my thoughts!
And see if there be any grievous way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting!” Psalm 139: 1-4, 13-17, 23-24 (ESV)

Karly Grant headshotKarly is a single 30-something who is striving to follow Jesus and trust Him in every situation. She can be found with a cup of tea or a good beer in hand while cozied up with a good book or enjoying a laugh with family or friends. God has her on a wild journey. In the last year she has quit her job of 15+ years and gone back to school full-time to pursue a career/ministry in the realm of adoption.

Finding Identity Through Faith

I stared at my reflection in the mirror.  The image that stared back was different than the one other people seemed to see.  Inside, behind those eyes, was more…so much more.   I knew I was plain.  The world had made that perfectly clear, but the problem wasn’t my reflection so much as my inability to self- identify.

Over the years I had heard over and over again that our identity was found in Christ Jesus; that purpose came from living for God and bringing him honor.  I didn’t doubt it.  But that wasn’t the problem either.  My problem was that I didn’t know who I was, or at least I didn’t know how to explain who I was, even to myself.

Identity Jacqi Kambish (3).png

 

My friends could describe themselves in ways I could not.  I never had favorites.  “Favorite” is a term I’ve adopted to describe my current loves, but I don’t have true favorites.  I don’t have a favorite color, a favorite animal, a favorite book, a favorite band, movie, author, subject, food…I don’t have favorites.  I might as well try to pick a favorite star in the sky!  On any given day I may say my favorite color is crimson red, or purple, or yellow.  I might tell you that I love pizza best, or taquitos, or baked potatoes.  I might tell you my preferred creature is a ladybug or a turtle. It’s possible I could tell you that my favorite hobby is painting, snowboarding, reading, drinking coffee, or perhaps writing. I might tell you that what I like best is being with people…except for when I need to be alone.

I can’t tell you what I am specifically passionate about either.  If you ask me what my passions are, I am overcome with the endless number of possible answers, but what I can tell you is that…

I don’t know.

Deep inside is, actually, an eclectic love of many things.  I don’t know what I am most passionate about, but I’d be excited to talk with you about black holes, the lifespan of a turtle, the fact that ladybugs are opportunists, the law of gravity, puppy training, and Jesus (to name a few things.)  I can’t tell you what I like best to eat, but I can tell you that what matters is that I get to eat with you.  I may not be able to tell you my favorite color or my “life verse”  from the Bible, but I am excited by the opportunity to tell you about  God and to share how he is at work in my life.

I can tell you that I love coffee, but I can’t tell you what type or flavor I like best.  I can’t tell you who or what I am because…

What I kept deep inside, for so many years was that I am all of it.  I am a jack of all trades and a master of none.  I am a multipotentialite and an avid learner.  I am passionate about everything; all of it, at the same time.  I am dedicated to painting when painting is called for, reading when reading is called for, building when building is called for, creating when creating is called for, helping when helping is called for, and researching when researching is called for. Nothing is out of reach and yet…everything is.

Jacqi Kambish Identity.png

And there I am, gazing into the mirror, wondering what actually defines me, when I can’t even tell you what my favorite things are.  A crisis of identity arises in the swirl or thoughts while the face in the mirror furors her brows.

And then in the quiet, a gentle whisper breathes, “You are mine.”  And there is rest in that.  Rest in knowing that my identity truly does come from someone deep enough and vast enough to see and hold the entire universe in his hand.  And even if I am a builder,  writer, student, wife, mother, researcher, minister, gardener, and a teacher on any given day, the one thing that always remains true is that I am a Christian.  Even if my favorite color is different today than yesterday, my faith in God is not.  Faith is the anchor of my soul, strengthened by other anchored voices of hope, and that is who I am.  That is my identity: I am a believer, I am a vessel of hope, and I am God’s.

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”  Ephesians 2:10

 


Jacqi KambishJacqi Kambish is a Christian mom to three spirited children striving to balance the daily demands of parenting a child with special needs and meeting the needs of typically developing siblings while working full time and writing.  She earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Bible Theology and Youth Ministry from William Jessup University.  Jacqi lives with her family in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado and enjoys reflectively writing about parenting, faith, and the joys and trials of life while leaving her readers with hope and encouragement.  Her blog The Presumptuous Ladybug can be found at and you can connect with her on Facebook.

Identity Crisis

Author: Kate Franken

The words “identity crisis” generally evoke images of a pimple faced teenager and a middle aged silver-haired man that seeks comfort in adultery and a new red sports car.  This worldly association leads one to believe that identity crisis is largely confined to two occurrences, once in adolescence and then again somewhere between 45 and 60.  It is commonly believed that within these periods that the psyche is distressed as one suddenly finds themselves stuck in the midst of questioning who they are. Thus begins the quest to develop a sense of self. After a prolonged period, many assert that the answer can be found in a relationship, a job, or the objects one possesses. I believe Identity crisis is far more widespread, and more debilitating, than the stereotypes lead one to believe. I think a more accurate portrayal would be the individual living in hidden anguish brought forth by seeking fulfillment in anything else other than Christ (i.e. the curse of the idolator). When one fails to find their true purpose in life, to bring praise and glory to His Kingdom, the weight bears down.

It really wasn’t until a series of events this past year that this 30-something came to this understanding.  While reading Tim Keller’s “Counterfeit Gods” I was awakened to the identity crisis I was in.  His definition of an idol spoke loudly to me, “…anything more important to you than God, anything that absorbs your heart and imagination more than God, anything you seek to give you what only God can give.”

My heart broke upon reading these words, knowing that I’d dishonored Him in my failing to properly esteem Him. I had some firmly established idols in my life. The most pronounced idols were that of the relationship I was in at the time and my determination to construct the map and steer my life in the direction I decided it should go. I earnestly prayed to shed the false idols and to find my identity in Him alone.  Initially, when I prayed this prayer, I didn’t truly understand what it meant.

Then I opened up Jennie Allen’s book “Anything”, and her words spoke God’s truths just as Keller’s had.  In “Anything”, she paints the picture of what it is to have one’s identity in Christ. It is a surrender that is willing to abandon EVERYTHING, to do ANYTHING for God.  Instantaneously I tasted the words “I can’t” and shame fell upon me, for it exposed the holes in my faith.

I didn’t want to leave the false security of my idolatrous dreams.  And yet I hungered and thirsted for God.  I was divided.  I wanted to have God in my image. I wrestled like Jacob.  And the end result was just the same, I was drawn closer to Christ. The truth of the bigness of my God and the smallness of my idols pervaded the discord.  I experienced the grace God mercilessly pours out to us, as undeserving as we are.

I must feed on the gospel habitually, for my identity in Christ is always under attack.

I must dwell on the greatness of my King, for old idols can easily steal back my  heart’s affection when my eyes fall short.  I must give up my life as I’d like to orchestrate it, to truly find life, life that is eternal and fulfilling.  I must let Christ alone define me, and disregard the lies the Devil whispers. I must pray fervently for His protection, for without Him I am weak. I must trust Him, “being confident of this, that He who began a good work in (me) will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6).

I must surrender. My “I must” statements help me to guard against the vast empty pit of discontent from a misplaced identity.

~~~

Readers,  What threatens your sense of identity? How can you find freedom from the pressures to define yourself?

Kate Franken is a 5th grade teacher, a lover of books, and a coffee connoisseur. She enjoys a good conversation, chases after her beautiful dogs, and serves as the volunteer coordinator at her church in Oregon. You can find her previous posts here.

The Faithful Oak

The soft grasses sway in the light breeze. The luscious meadow appears to be dancing to a tune not played for human ears. The afternoon sun warms the rippling brook framing the ancient oak tree that still stands firm.  Its roots delve deeply into the earth below. The knotty bark echoes stories of children swinging on summer days from a rope and families gathering to picnic. The branches, strong and plentiful, provide respite from the heat as they offer shaded shelter with their leaves. Storms have attempted to destroy the old oak, but it tarries through. It has purpose, and its might is evident. Those who know this oak seek and find refuge beneath its splendor.
As I sit down to write this post on identity, I envision the old oak tree above. I want to be this oak tree. Rooted. Strong. Someone who can provide refuge for others. Near to a source of Living water. Purposeful and hearty.
Jeremiah 17:7-8 shares, “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is in the Lord. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of the drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.”

If I’m honest, in the past few months, I have had many anxiety-inducing thoughts attempt to ravage my peace and make home in my head. I have a feeling of restlessness. The unrest is not dissatisfaction with my life currently, but an acknowledgment that God is stirring up my heart. He is up to something and is busy readying me for change. I am unsure of what development may unfold, but it’s coming. I can feel it. Trusting in God’s plan and purpose during this time has been challenging. I have felt a disconnect with people and the activities that I love, and my heart aches. Despite all this, at my core, I know God is so very good. Whatever it is, I know it will be better than what I could plan for myself.
As I wrestle through this period of uncertainty, my heart longs to identify with the tree in the meadow, rooted, bearing fruit, and seeking sustenance from God. To know like the stream, I  need not be anxious during this time of disquiet, but faithful and obedient in my current surroundings as I flow toward His will. I may not know what lies ahead in my life, but I know that if I identify with the characteristics of the old oak tree, I will not sway with passing storms. I will not be enslaved by fear, but I will stand strong. Trusting in the Lord and His purpose.



Readers, What is God asking you to trust Him with today?

Sarah believes Go0752d-sarah2bsquared has called her to this space to bring joy and encouragement through words to friends and family, near and far. You can find more from Sarah at her blog, and you can find her stories for Anchored Voices under the tag Sarah.

Hope for Mom

The crowd was a-buzz. Well-wishers, families settling into their seats, and most better dressed than a normal week. I knew the moment was coming.

The opening song rang through the sanctuary, and I felt a dread sweep through me. I had experienced it before, each year it had taken on new and different dimensions. It was Mother’s Day.

“All moms please stand,”… I heard, I stood and I struggled to look forward.  That’s all I recall. I don’t remember any of what was said. I know we were loved, appreciated, and applauded.

I fully support honoring mothers and I wouldn’t discourage this practice. It’s just that I was in the thick of disappointment. I held onto a false ideal of motherhood, and it was threatening me to the core.

 The year before a sweet friend whispered into my ear that though children were not in our home, my heart was that of a mother.  I cried because it was my deepest wish. I tried to brush it off and smile at the next friend to reassure them that I was ok.

A year later, my foster daughter sat next to me. I was fully immersed the act of mothering, except at that moment, she didn’t yet claim me. I don’t blame her, I was the 6th mom she’d had and we’d had only 6 months of introduction. I answered to my first name, and did everything I could to love her.

I know now that no matter how one comes to it, motherhood is a fight; reality never matches the Pinterest perfect picture, timeline, or even expectations of how we will respond to mothering day in and day out.  No one comes to it easily; we all have different labors to go through that cannot be compared.

Some yearn for children, others feel overwhelmed in the sea of small people. The details of every day overwhelm as we begin to realize—no child comes with instructions. Though we cannot fully be in the shoes of one another, I’ve been most blessed by friends who have been able to say, “Your stuff is real.  Your emotions, hopes, and struggles are valid, and we are in this fight together.”  In return I’m able to say the same back.  Rather than sinking into the pain of our different situations and creating distance, we build one another up, pray for one another, and are united in our desire to honor God with our mothering in good times and bad.

I hope this Mother’s Day your battle, whatever it is, is recognized and honored by those who have walked in your shoes, and by those who have not.  For women who have faced loss, of a child, or of your own mother, we honor you.  For women who long to have children, we honor you.  For women who are in the deep throes of parenting, we honor you. For the mom who is doing it all on her own, we honor you. For women whose children have grown up and moved out, we honor you.  For women who are mothering children who aren’t biologically related, we honor you.  For women who aren’t quite there yet, we honor you.  For women discipling and mentoring those without mothers, we honor you.

I hope you can bring the insecurities, anxiety, and fear that somehow your mothering won’t measure up to the gracious feet of Jesus, and realize that your identity is fully in him.  No lack in your mothering, failure, or success can make you any less, or more loved than you already are.

In the midst of the battle, I’ve found hope that though motherhood is a gift, it is not who I am.  God does not look at me and say, “Mommy,” Or, “So and so’s Mom.” Instead he calls me by name.  He is personally loving, knowing all the places I’ve strived, failed, cried and given up.

Isaiah 43:1 declares:

“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;

I have called you by name, you are mine.

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;

and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;

when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,

and the flame shall not consume you.

For I am the LORD your God,

the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
~~~

Readers,

We know that Mother’s Day can be a hard day for some. It can be a reminder of broken dreams, unfulfilled hopes, even deep shame. It can intensify the loss of a mother or a child, and it can push many memories into the forefront of our mind which we would rather not dwell on. Know that God cares deeply about the hurts and desires of your heart. He longs to be the one you look to for comfort and to draw you near. Know that your plea is not unheard, and you are not unseen. He sees you, He hears you, and He is weaving something beautiful together as He becomes the anchor for your soul.

Jesus, I ask for your mercy and love to surround the hurting, for your love to wash over their lives, and for the peace that passes understanding to be that on which they rest. In Jesus’ name-Amen

Thanks for Reading,

Anchored Voices Writers

b0de0-holly2bsquareHolly is a wife, mother of one, and foster mother to many. She seeks to glorify God in all she does, for all her life. She studied Intercultural Studies at Corban University and loves to build bridges between cultures and people. She welcomes people into her life, into her heart, and into her home with hopes of offering encouragement. You can find more from Holly here at Anchored Voices or at her blog Called to Restore.