Category Archives: Christianity

Confessions of a Self-important Slow-Learner

pumpkins

I will start off by just admitting that this is not the post that I thought I was going to write today. Over my morning cup of coffee, I felt a very strong urging in my heart. Naturally I pushed it aside thinking, “Oh, lovely idea. But I can write about that later. I have a plan.” Hmmm…why does this sound so familiar?

For those of you who know me already, you are probably aware that I am a bit of a slow learner when it comes to my spiritual walk. Reluctant. Recalcitrant. Stubborn. Obstinate. Disobedient. At my age, I really should know better. Whenever I make plans and hold on to them very tightly, God usually has another idea.

So, here is the first part of my confession: I thought that I had figured out the purpose of this blog. I had a plan. I had mapped out topics and scheduled them. I was primarily going to focus on our house refurbishment (Project Take Back Our Home). Now don’t get me wrong. I had every intention of sharing some personal stuff but I was definitely planning on directing (deflecting?) the topics away from me and toward more generalized commentary.

But this morning, God reminded me—in the way only he can do—that the purpose of this blog is about giving him the glory, not me.

Now for part two of this confession. Remember back to that whole “slow learner” business? Well I have just now figured out and am living into my purpose at home. Five years after I returned home.

Here is a quick summary for those who came in late. Five years ago I left my career and came home to care for my husband, teenage daughter and aging mother. I had worked outside of the home for almost twenty years—first as a museum curator and educator and later in children’s ministry. Although I believed (and still do) that I was called by God to come home, I struggled (fought) with God about being a stay-at-home mother and wife. I constantly told God (yeah, I know…) that I knew he had something b i g for me during this season. A new ministry? A novel? A business? Surely he wanted me to do something more than just care for my family. Yes, I do realize how prideful and ridiculous this sounds. I can’t believe he didn’t strike me down.

I was grumpy and whiney and quite difficult to live with (sorry, family). I am sure my friends have been sick to death of all the “Woe is me…I am a stay-at-home mom but I was meant for bigger things” (sorry, friends).

Two months ago my husband and I started a much-needed, long-overdue home refurbishment (Project Take Back Our Home). Suddenly I was completely immersed in the de-cluttering, simplifying and organizing. I began to have more time to do the things that we needed to keep our family and our home running.

So this morning as I was fixing breakfast for my husband and daughter, it hit me. This is my purpose. Simple as that. I am meant to love and care for my family and to keep our home running as smoothly as possible. It is big stuff.

It seems that once I was willing to embrace the purpose and the role that God had called me to in this season of my life and quit struggling to find “more important things to do,” I could finally see just how important my job is to my family. I think we glorify God when we are passionate about our calling.

So how does this confession and realization affect my blog? Well, I’m not quite sure, but I am pretty sure God is. What I do know is that you can probably expect a bit messier version of the typical lifestyle/decorating blog as I write about Project Take Back Our Home. My guess is that home refurbishment will not be the main focus.

I told you I was a slow-learner.

Thanks for struggling along with me, friends.

God’s peace–Amy

The Best Way to Change Your Attitude: Realizing That Everything Has Beauty

Everything has beauty

The best way to change your attitude is to realize that everything has beauty.

I am pretty sure that one of my primary purposes in life is to recognize that everything has beauty.

Maybe this has something to do with being artistic. Or perhaps it is because I’m an optimist. Yes these do have something to do with my attitude. But the real reason is because of my own history.

You see, over the years, I have made some pretty stupid, self-destructive choices. There are parts of my past that are pretty ugly. I spent many years pretending that the brokenness wasn’t there. I was very good at “fluffing the pillows” of my past so that no one saw it for what it really was–not even me.

I had an encounter that changed all of that. Not right away in my case, but little by little over time. I began to see that Jesus was not only able but willing to turn the broken, wobbly bits of me into something not only useful but beautiful. 

Looking back over the last five years, my family has experienced some very traumatic events. Some of them I wondered whether we would make it through. But even in the midst of tragedy, I knew (and know) that God does not waste any opportunity for transformation. He will not leave something dark and dead and useless. He is the God of light and life and purpose.

“to grant to those who mourn in Zion—
    to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
    the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit;
that they may be called oaks of righteousness,
    the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.” (Isaiah 61: 3)

Be encouraged, my friends. He will not leave us in our brokenness, our ugliness, in the dark. He longs to take our sorrow and trade it for delight.

Open your eyes. Look around and see that everything has beauty once it has been transformed by Jesus. Once we have been transformed.

 

How to Step Out in Faith

Isaiah 40: 31

Isaiah 40: 31 is my friend Elizabeth’s scripture for this season in her life. The image is a photograph (with a watercolor effect applied) of a tidal creek between Mt. Pleasant and Sullivan’s Island, South Carolina. (Photo by Amy Watson Smith, 2013)

I am writing today in honor of my friend, Elizabeth Bumpas.  She left for Uganda yesterday in response to a call to serve the Lord. She leaves behind family and friends, her home and her precious dogs, comfort and security.

Elizabeth is one of the bravest people I know. She really knows how to step out in faith.

We have been friends for over 30 years and this is not the first time that she has stepped out in faith. Time and time again she has listened for the Lord to speak to heart, prayed for discernment and guidance, invited others into her discernment process, and sought wisdom and counsel from spiritual mentors. And then she has taken the bold step to follow the plan that the Lord had prepared for her.

Now I am not saying that each and every time she has gone eagerly into the unknown. Elizabeth, like most of us, appreciates her home and family and friends. She “hunkers down” as good as anyone and resists change. No, she is not perfect but she is most definitely intent on knowing God’s will for her life and in being obedient–regardless of the price.

My friend Elizabeth is like an Olympic athlete in training. Her heart has been well-trained to listen for God’s call. She goes through the discipline of the discernment process rather than just jumping into one thing or another. Her years of obedience to the Lord has shown her that she can trust Him to care for her.

I am so excited for her and her new adventure. She started writing a blog as she began preparing to leave and will continue to add to it while she is in Uganda. Click here to read more about her mission. I will share some of her reflections here as well.

Please click here if you would like to partner with her in prayer or if you care to make a donation.

Please join me in praying for her as she follows God’s call.

 

How to Silence the Voice of Doubt

Just write

Just fifteen minutes. That is all it will take. Fifteen minutes a day. A few thoughts on paper—just words.

Maybe this is what I should have been telling myself every morning. Maybe then I would have actually gotten past the nausea and the scrambled thoughts to just do this simple thing: write.

Instead I allow my mornings to evaporate, my afternoons become full of domestic chores or errands or other people, other things.

But in the back of my mind comes the voice I have learned to dread but also believe: “You have nothing to say. No one is interested in your words. You are irrelevant, middle aged, mediocre and plain dull. Why waste your time and energy on this project that no one—not even you—really cares about?” The voice of doubt.

This is not the first time I have heard this voice. The words may be different but the voice is undoubtedly the same.

There seems to always come a time for me when the boldness and bravado that comes with the beginning of a new venture wears thin. The flimsy skeletal structure emerges and the vast pockets of self-doubt, discouragement and fear show through.

My nature is to jump into things. Throw caution to the wind. My energy and passion blinds me (and others) to my own inexperience and ignorance. This is what I refer to as my “smoke and mirrors” phase. It takes a little while before I realize just how little I know and how over my head I am.

Ah. This is the critical juncture. What to do next?

Enter The Voice.

“You are a fraud. You have no business doing this. You will be found out and everyone will discover that you don’t know what you are doing.”

A few times I have somehow managed to push through and in doing so, I have silenced the voice.

But all too often I have given in, busied myself with other, safer things and allowed the voice of doubt win the battle.

It takes courage to learn a new thing, to try your hand at something you suspect you might fail at, to answer a call you feel completely ill-equipped to handle.

The battle is won when you simply take a step forward and say, “Here I am, Lord.”

“Fear Not”: Bringing Good News This Christmas

Sheperds in the field

And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear.  And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.  And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”  And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”   (Luke 2: 8-14, ESV)

Fear not. . . I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.

Such a simple message.

Fear not.

Good news.

Great joy.

For all people.

Savior.

Christ the Lord.

But I manage to forget this simple message every year at Christmas. No wait . . . I manage to lose the message every day . . . every hour . . . .

And if I forget the real message of Christmas, I who know it and believe it and try to live into it, then how can I share the same message with those who have not heard, who do not know it or do not believe it?

Fear takes over once again. And I lose grip on those last two phrases.

Savior. Christ the Lord.

He is the Good News. He has come to save–to save me from my fear and forgetfulness and mistrust and unbelief and guilt and . . . .

 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

Amen.