Life Lesson Learned While Playing With Play-Doh.

Yes, I learned a life lesson while playing with play-doh. Here is what I learned:

First, play-doh is extremely entertaining to children. It can keep them occupied for hours.

Secondly, it can seriously get stuck all up in your nails for days.

And thirdly, I need to be more like play-doh.

I get the honor of babysitting my best friends son while she is busy making brides look stunning on their wedding days. Recently while I was babysitting, her son asked if we could play with play-doh together. I was super excited, like kid in a candy store excited. I always loved playing with play-doh as a kid, so of course I wanted to play.  It was while I was attempting to make different creations out of play-doh for him, I was overcome by emotion. Side note: I definitely failed at making them look anything like what he wanted. However, I realized that just as he was asking me to mold things for a purpose, God desperately wants to mold His children and shape them for His purpose.

potter-wheel

I was reminded of Isaiah 64:8.  “Yet you, Lord, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of Your hand”. 

I   L O V E   T H A T !

Play-doh is very similar to clay.  Both can be molded, shaped, and both can dry out.

I once took a pottery class where I learned all the ins and outs of making pottery. I’m not going to lie, I’m extremely uncoordinated, so my experience was an epic fail at the beginning. I definitely knew why becoming a potter and making pottery was not my calling; nor was making cars and tractors out of play-doh for a two year old.

The instructor of this class had to teach me how to handle the clay. He told me there were two important things to remember, that I needed to keep the clay wet during the process and that I needed to keep the clay centered on  the wheel. If the clay is not centered on the wheel, it will eventually tear apart before I would even have time to finish the process. And it’s only when the clay has enough water and is centered on the wheel that the molding process can begin.

If we want God to mold and shape our lives, then we need to be in His Word daily so that we can become shapeable and not dry out. And we need to be properly centered in Jesus Christ before God will be able to start molding and shaping us.

When we try to live our lives in our own strength, away from Christs leading, and not centered on Him- our lives will eventually fall apart. Just as the clay would if not centered on that wheel.

We all have experienced lives ups and downs at one point or another. We are going to feel pressure, especially when being shaped. Think about the clay, it definitely feels the weight of the potters hands when they are adding pressure to make the desired shape. Think about the play-doh, you have to apply pressure in order to create the shape you desire. Now think about your life, it is through life’s trials that God is able to stretch you and shape you.

God is able to mold us, transform us, and sanctify us when we are open to His will for our lives.And He will mold us and make us the vessel of honor that He desires for us to be. “In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for special purposes and some for common use. Those who cleanse themselves from the latter will be instruments for special purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work2 Timothy 2:20-21.

Just as the clay (or in my case play-doh) needs to fully trust the creator, we need to fully trust in our Maker.

PS…I love how God can speak to our spirits in the most simplest of moments. It was in playing with the play-doh that He reminded me of His greatness, His power, and His love for me. Look for God throughout the day- He is there!

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Is a Less Hectic Life Possible?

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.  I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”  John 10:10

For the past couple years, I took pride in being overly busy. Between the needs of  work, friends, home and church my days were filled to overflowing. Although my schedule felt chaotic and I felt like I was going crazy, I preferred to think of myself as a “highly productive person.”

Friends and coworkers would ask, “How do you manage all you do?” And I’d respond “I guess I’m just wired that way.” I know, it’s a humble brag- not something I am proud of. But I honestly thought it to be true. Maybe I was wired differently. Maybe I could handle more than others. Sadly, my heart enjoyed the recognition of all the work I was able to accomplish and I hungered for that type of response; it fueled me to keep pressing on.

But, at the end of the day when it was time to relax, my to-do list whispered another truth. The truth that I haven’t done it all, that there was more to do. My friends don’t see that side of me. They have the advantage of seeing all the things that I am able to accomplish; not all the things left undone. But I do. Its there staring me in the face.

Perhaps I’m not alone in this feeling. Perhaps you feel it too? That no matter how much you accomplish, what bothers you most is that you weren’t able to finish all the tasks. That long to-do list keeps you up at night. You sit there thinking of all the things yet to accomplish and mark off the to-do list.

It’s not all the undone work, but those everyday tasks like cleaning the house, laundry, making a menu for the week, and paying bills. But there’s even more. There are the dreams that seem too far out of reach. Like taking a vacation. Or making the time we want to be intentional with those we love, including God, but can’t seem to manage.

Recently my ulcers started to act up more often than usual, and I slipped back into losing large amounts of sleep each night. A couple weeks ago, as I was sitting on the couch, I found it hard to breathe and anxiety arose, but there was no apparent threat- just a lot of stress. The looming deadlines, the demanding work load, and mounting emails beckoned. My life felt completely out-of-control. I was burned out from having too much to do, and always feeling behind.

The fear of disappointing someone chased me constantly. I was busy, but simply didn’t know how to stop the endless cycle. Turns out I didn’t have an anxiety problem. I had an over-commitment problem. I committed to almost everyone and everything.

In order to start making changes, I had to honestly face some hard things about myself. My hunger for significance drove me to take on more than I could handle.  Before I could live the less hectic life that I desperately longed for, I had to address the root issue of my heart’s need. And part of that was identifying the lie that drove me to overwork myself.

Jesus promised an abundant life, but also told us there is an enemy plotting our downfall. “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10).

Our enemy, “the thief,” is also a liar, always twisting the truth. So while Jesus promised an abundant life, Satan spins it so we think that life is found in an abundance of activity and commitments. And before we realize it, life has stolen from us what’s best…room to breathe, time to focus, and space in our schedules to fulfill our God-given priorities. The abundant life Jesus offers isn’t filled with to-do’s (even though I believed that to be the case for far too long). Tasks and commitments only satisfy us from the outside in, never reaching the core of who we are. However, Jesus’ satisfies us from the inside out, as we experience the depth of His love, His purpose and His peace.

This is no easy change- and I know it won’t just happen overnight. But each day I am learning to trim my responsibilities so I can experience the abundant life that Jesus promised. Jesus promises a less hectic life, and it’s a promise He can fulfill when we look to Him to fill our days, instead of an endless to-do list.

  “May the LORD give strength to his people! May the LORD bless his people with peace!”   Psalm 29:11

GLYNNIS WHITWER

Winning My Battle With Instagram.

I spent a lot of this weekend doing something I know I shouldn’t have—something I know I hate, something I know makes me feel small every single time. Yes, I spent most of this weekend scrolling through my Instagram, hitting refresh again and again, trolling other people’s profiles, and wondering why the heck so many more people follow them than follow me. While this is so humbling to admit, it’s extremely disgusting as well. I’d much rather pretend I’m above this kind of behavior–that I never succumb to the temptation to compare.

But I do, and I did, and I spent the majority of the weekend feeling rather small as a result—all of the things I don’t have at the front of my mind, center stage. Have you ever found yourself doing this? I’m betting I am not alone in this.

It’s easy to compare our lives on Instagram. A big part of it is that it’s all about the numbers. Just like our weight or our pant size, there’s this number at the top of each of our pages, and hearts on our photos that say how many people like us, how many people care what is going on in our lives, how many people want to see what we have to share.

Sometimes this number sits there peacefully, allowing us to be us, and not taunting us with the fact that we should be more. But other times, it begins to whine—softly at first, but louder the more we listen to it. The longer we look at the number, the smaller we feel too, the more significant that small number feels and the more insignificant all of our other dazzling attributes become.So what if I’m a good friend, or a good writer, or a good counselor? She has more Instagram followers, nothing else matters.

It’s ridiculous, but if we’re honest, I think most of us have felt this way—our worth and our likability dictated to us by tiny numbers on our touch-screen.

I’m mad that I let myself feel this way—that I let my mind get small and narrow like that. I’m mad I spent my weekend feeling so small, that all of my accomplishments, relationships, and who I am as a person faded into the background because of an insignificant little number and how it measured up to the number of other women I admire.

I would love to tell you that I got over it, or that I found some sort of magic Jesus cure that made me feel better, but I’d be lying. I found a way to feel better, a way to win the battle, but I know comparison is a war we’ll wage as long as there are people who are better than us at things—or in other words, forever.

So instead of ignoring it, or feeling defeated under the weight of the war comparison wages against us, I started reminding myself of what I have, the amazing people I have in my life, and that I am special. I spent this morning thanking God for the people I love, and reminding myself of how much they mean to me and I know I mean to them. I started reminding myself of what I’m good at, and thanking God for how He’s blessed me and skilled me. And I started reminding myself that I’m still growing—that I’m in process, that I’m not finished.

And slowly but surely, the number at the top of my profile started to fade into the background of my life again, back to where it belongs. I’m sure it’ll pop out again when I’m feeling small, or in the middle of the night when I can’t sleep. But I’ll do the same thing I did this last time. I’ll take the truth of who I am, and why I matter, and stab at comparison until he goes away—exposed as the little jerk that he is. Comparison may always try to sneak into our minds and our lives, but we don’t have to let him win.

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