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Know that I Am

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The day started beautifully.

My husband was sleeping late after he’d returned at 7:00 a.m. from his second job. Breakfast was made, coffee was on, toddler fits were handled, and I was feeling pretty good.

“Look at me,” I thought. “I can do this. I’m a mom, a wife. My husband has two jobs, and I’m doing it. We’re gonna be OK.” For a moment, I really liked who — and what — I was.

The morning deteriorated swiftly, however, taking the day — and my self-assurance — out of my control.

Our toddler whined all morning, pitching tired fits over little things. The baby joined her insisting that we hold him, screaming angrily at us when we set him down. The unfinished housework that had been mounting during the week increased our tension as the day moved on.

We were tired, and on edge. We both had work to do, and we weren’t accomplishing anything.

My morning confidence gone, I clutched at my slipping sense of place. Who I was wasn’t working for me anymore. I looked at my husband, thinking, Yeah, we’re parents, aren’t we? There wasn’t room for us to be anything else. How did we get here?

Finally, Pete instigated a change of scenery and hustled us out of the house.

At the end of our patience, we stuffed the kids into their seats, climbed into the car, and looked at each other. I saw my own frustration reflected in his eyes as he slammed the sunroof open and put the car into gear.

He accelerated, and I threw my hands up out the sunroof and hollered. He joined me, both hands up, gunning the engine to the end of our street, stealing five reckless seconds to be ourselves.

In Transition

In the car, I mentally traced the downward trend of the day — and the crazy trend of the previous weeks.

“Ourselves” was something I’d been missing a lot lately.

Pete had recently taken a second job to help cover my rising health expenses. He was working nights now, grabbing his sleep where he could before going to work at his regular office job during the day.

We were in the midst of some major life adjustments, and I wasn’t handling it well.

Because I am chronically ill, I have to build my life carefully to maximize functionality, and even small schedule adjustments can have a dramatic effect on my ability to be myself. Change is hard for anybody, but change for someone who is chronically ill can be excruciating as transition in childbirth.

Both my birth transitions were intense. I began both labors thinking I knew who I was and what I was up against, and both times transition derailed my confidence.

The transition with my second birth especially confused and frightened me. After two weeks of frustrating prodromal labor, I was hoping — but uncertain — that God would make an appearance as I approached transition. I determined to stay in control of my body and my emotions. I thought I knew what was coming after my first birth experience, but as the pain intensified, I lost control and landed on the floor screaming for Him to please just make it stop.

On the other side of transition, there was more pain waiting for me — pain and new health issues that required three doctor visits per week. Things really began to fall apart as my husband took on the second job. My carefully constructed lifestyle was subjected to a massive overhaul.

That still-fresh transition insanity seeped into my days, with all the wild emotion and confusion that came with it. For all my determination to keep my world under control, I was coming almost daily to the end of myself, crying out to God, “I just can’t take it anymore! Where are You?”

I’d stopped believing He was coming, and I blamed Him for not being the God I thought I needed.

God Unchangeable

The CD player in the car was on, and hot tears stung the corners of my vision at the lyrics that intruded on my consciousness.

“Yesterday, today, and forever, You are the same, You never change.

Yesterday, today, and forever, You are faithful, and we will trust in You.”

There He was, the God I didn’t think was there for me.

In my exhausted frustration, I didn’t know who I would be from one minute to the next. I would be calm and controlled in one moment; in the next, I’d be so angry I had to leave the room.

Too many days started out good and spun into disaster before I fell into bed at night. Why couldn’t I be what I wanted to be all day, just once?

Isn’t it nice, I thought sarcastically, that God is always the same?

He is I AM. The sentence reverberated loud off my heart walls, crumbling my defenses. I was suddenly still, humbled.

When Moses met God in the burning bush, God introduced Himself as “I AM that I AM.” He could have said, “I am the God of Abraham.” Or of Isaac or of Jacob. He could have said, “I am God.” But He gave no name. God identified Himself to Israel by His existence, by His very being.

In a world where the gods you served were defined by what your needs were, He set Himself apart from other, definable gods so His people would know He was, no matter the shape of their circumstances. There was no god stronger or better or higher or different, no facet of Himself that would not be enough for them where they were.

I imagine Israel must have felt pretty good about being free from Egypt until the realities of their new life set in.

They’d wanted a God to deliver them; now they wanted a God who’d give them what they wanted. They doubted that He’d come through for them, just as I did, and they blamed Him good.

Their journey, begun in victory, deteriorated into a desert walk that lasted 40 years because of their doubt. And a people who thought they knew who they were found out they didn’t know anything at all except God who led them every day by a pillar of cloud and camped every night over them in a pillar of fire.

Found in Him

Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. (1 John 3:2)

Since my health collapsed in the fall of 2001, I’ve had to arrange and rearrange my world and my identity around my circumstances to accommodate my changing needs. The only solid thing in my life has been the reality of God’s I AM.

As His child, I am meant to become one with I AM through Jesus Christ. His being is my true identity: I am the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:21). If I am God’s, my identity is not mine to choose or hold or control.

On every page of the Bible, the faces come and go. The people are people; the circumstances that they encounter are varied. But on every page, God is the same God, and if I am still instead of striving, I find Him to be that same God in my own crazy life today.

Women in childbirth are meant to groan for the life at the end of their labor. Some days are meant to break me, to shuck off my dross, and purify me for His life that is my hope at the end of all this transition.

Sitting humbled in the car, I realized that my changing existence hadn’t changed His, and He is still good today as I found Him yesterday.

“Know that I AM,” He tells me. “Be still.”

I can be a wife, a good mom, a woman who has it all together. I can have a husband with two jobs, or lose it with my two squalling kids. My identity isn’t dependent on my ability to arrange my circumstances to accommodate me.

God is the only thing about me that cannot change; everything else must change as I become more like Him. On my best days and my worst days, wherever I am, I only find myself in Him.

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Kelly Sauer is a writer, wedding photographer, restless heart, wife, and mama to two. She makes fine art out of real life, revealing beauty where it wasn't. She shares her art and her real life at www.kellysauer.com. You can find her on Twitter as @kellysauer.

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When Doing Justly, Loving Mercy, and Walking Humbly Stand at Odds

If your compassion far exceeds your capacity, here’s one way you can be sure to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly.

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One of my life verses is Micah 6:8, “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”

It is one of my favorite verses because my heart has been so moved by the love Jesus has for me and the sacrifice He made for me that I am grateful to have a way to express my gratitude through acts of justice and mercy while walking humbly with God.

I have found at times, however, the call to do justice and love mercy come in conflict with the call to walk humbly with God. For me, one of the ways to walk humbly with God is to recognize my limitations. I have to put skin to the fact that I am not God which means saying, “no” to ministry requests. It means going to sleep when I could be spending time advocating for the harrowed and helpless in the world. It means limited seats at my table, limited funds in my bank account, and limited energy in my body cannot be ignored but respected and adhered to.

This is hard for me at times, especially when I scroll my Facebook feed and see friends who are caring for their really sick children, spouse, or other family member all while millions of refugees flee war torn countries and babies are slaughtered by the hundreds each day in our country through the abortion industry.

As I scroll, I receive texts about one family member’s surgery gone wrong and another family member announcing a new baby is on the way. I have in mind my neighbor who has inpatient surgery scheduled this week and another neighbor who is trying to hold down a full-time job, care for twins all while battling profound “morning” sickness.

Folks at church are fighting for their lives in physical and spiritual ways, and strangers who pass me on the road are clearly battling something as demonstrated by their impatient honking because I won’t take a right turn on red. I want to meet the needs of all; I want to do justice and love mercy, but I’m daily confronted by the fact that I am so limited.

What am I to do when doing justly and/or loving mercy seem to come in conflict with walking humbly with my God?

God keeps bringing me to this answer: prayer.

God invites us to cast our cares before Him because He cares for us.
God tells us to be anxious for nothing BUT WITH PRAYER present our requests before Him.
God commands us to pray without ceasing.

And, when I walk humbly with God, I see the immense kindness in His command.
He gives us a way to do justly, love mercy WHILE walking humbly with Him.
It is by praying without ceasing.

I cannot take a meal or give money to every sick person or family I know. I cannot extend kindness to all my neighbors all at the same time they’re in need nor conjure up sustainable solutions for the refugee crisis and contact all the necessary world powers to make it happen.

I cannot heal all, but I know the Healer.

I cannot provide for all the needs, but I know the Provider.

I cannot rescue everyone in need, but I know the Rescuer.

I cannot comfort all the broken, but I know the Comforter.

I cannot speak peace over every situation, but I know the Prince of Peace.

I cannot be all to all, but I can go to the Great I Am through prayer, lay all the people, problems and pleas for help before the Omniscient and Omnipresent God of all Creation.

I can do this through prayer.

Recently, via an Instagram contest of all things, I came upon A–Z prayer cards designed by blogger/author/speaker, Amelia Rhodes. It is a simple concept packed with a powerful prayer punch. It has served me personally in this tension of wanting to do far more than I practically can do. It provides prayer prompts starting with each letter of the alphabet along with a scripture that coincides with the prayer focus. It ranges from Adoption to a creative “Zero Prejudice” for the letter “Z.”

The cards are well thought out, color printed on sturdy cardstock with blank lines for the user to write in the names of people and/or organizations that are personal to them.

If, like me, your compassion far exceeds your capacity, pick up a set of these prayer cards and unload your burdens onto a God whose competence matches His kindness, both boundless.

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Facing Our Fears in Motherhood

Do you have fears tied to motherhood? If so, here’s encouragement for you.

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“Are you scared?”

I was taken aback by his question. Scared? Of what?

“Of anything,” he answered.

I had just shared my due date with a new class of trainees.

“He has three boys,” another new hire volunteered. So fear is to be expected, I reasoned. I’m just about to face the most frightening experience in my life.

Of course I was scared.

I was scared…

  • I’ll lose my temper.
  • I’ll whine about sleepless nights.
  • I’ll breastfeed too often or not often enough.
  • I’ll leave piles of unfolded onesies in the middle of the nursery floor because I’m too tired (or lazy?) to fold teeny-tiny baby clothes for the upteenth time.
  • I’ll go with disposable diapers when the better choice would be cloth.
  • I’ll work too many long hours at the office and miss precious moments with her.
  • I’ll sign her up for too many activities and push her to become Miss Achieve-It-All.
  • I’ll pass on to her my ugly pride, self-righteousness, and perfectionism like a dreadful contagious disease.
  • I’ll miss countless little joys in life while pursuing worthless dreams.

Facing Our Fears in MotherhoodIn short… I was afraid I was going to fail miserably as a parent.

And now, holding my second-born daughter in my arms, thinking back on that brief exchange just a few years ago, I realize those fears were well-founded. I’ve failed many times. I’ve lost my temper. I’ve raised my voice. I’ve worked too much and played too little. I’ve seen my own sinfulness reflected in my daughter.

Yes, I’ve failed, but over and above it all, God’s grace has covered my parenting imperfections and made me run to the cross day after day. The writer of Proverbs puts it this way:

Whoever fears the LORD has a secure fortress, and for their children it will be a refuge.
Proverbs 14:26

When it comes to fears, we have two choices: Will we fear the unknown or will we fear the Lord? Will we allow the uncertain to grip us in its clutch or will we turn to God’s Truth to set us free?

Scared? Oh yeah. There was so much to be scared of that day. And even now, if I’m completely honest, there are still fears nibbling at the edges of my consciousness. Fear that we won’t outgrow the temper tantrums. Fear that the two girls won’t get along. Fear that I’ll mess them up and cause them interminable hours on a psychologist’s couch.

I’m sure you have fears, too.

But rather than allow those fears to consume and paralyze us, we can take them to the Lord, acknowledging His sovereignty over our parenting, pleading His grace over our mistakes, and entrusting His provision over their futures. He is not only able to handle it all — He is far more capable to be trusted with it all.

If I say one thing to that frightened 9-month-pregnant me standing in that room years ago, I would say this: Don’t let fear rob today’s joy with tomorrow’s unknowns. Each day has enough worries of its own (Matthew 6:34).

Instead, let us keep seeking God, running to Him as our secure fortress and resting in the knowledge that He will care for us and our children one day at a time.

What are you scared of today? Name your fears and bring them to the Lord, allowing Him to replace them with His peace that passes all understanding.

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He Gives Shade To The Weary

If anxiety is a struggle for you right now, remember that He gives shade to the weary.

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Do you ever have those moments of fear because you don’t know what lies ahead? When do those thoughts tend to happen to you?

For me, most of those thoughts happen when I lay my head down to sleep at night. The vulnerability comes forth every time. That’s what happened the other night to me. I shut my eyes and immediately anxiety welled up inside me.

What if we don’t succeed in this new venture? What if we have to move? What if we can’t pay our bills?

I laid there with the covers drawn tight over my head (I still think that I am safer if the covers are over my head), praying scripture over my anxious heart. Assuring myself that God sees me and that He cares.

In the morning, I turned to Isaiah 41, specifically verses 10-20.

“Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10, NASB)

Yesterday, the “what if’s” piled up as I anxiously looked about me. My daughter needs tutoring, however at this point in life, tutoring feels like a luxury we can’t afford. So I listed some items online to sell hoping to make just enough to cover the tutoring. I’m buying groceries on a Visa reward card. I’m holding my breath until the next paycheck comes. But what did God speak over me: Do not fear. Do not look anxiously about you.

“For I am the Lord your God, who upholds your right hand, Who says to you, ‘Do not fear, I will help you.’ Do not fear, you worm Jacob, you men of Israel; I will help you,” declares the Lord, “and your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel.” (Isaiah 41:13-14 NASB)

Why shouldn’t I be anxious? Because God will hold me up. God will help me. When I first read the word “worm” as a description, I took it as a slam against Israel. Like, gesh, God. What animal does He relate me to? But through further study, He calls them a worm because worms are helpless. They are viewed as insignificant, despised and weak. God will help me — seemingly insignificant, helpless me — because He is my Redeemer. He is my go’el — my next of kin. The Redeemer is the one who provides for all my needs. Rent. Car payment. Credit card bill. Gas. Food. Clothes. Debt. God will redeem.

He Gives Shade to the Weary

“Behold, I have made you a new, sharp threshing sledge with double edges; You will thresh the mountains and pulverize them, And will make the hills like chaff. You will winnow them, and the wind will carry them away, And the storm will scatter them; But you will rejoice in the Lord, You will glory in the Holy One of Israel.” (Isaiah 41:15-16 NASB).

God is transforming me from a helpless one to a powerful one. The description of that type of threshing sledge is like a modern day earth mover. Powerful. Strong. Immovable.

“The afflicted and needy are seeking water, but there is none, And their tongue is parched with thirst; I, the Lord, will answer them Myself, As the God of Israel I will not forsake them.” (Isaiah 41:17, NASB)

He will come to our rescue. God, Himself, will answer you and me. Can you hear how personal that sounds? Have you ever pleaded with someone important whether your boss, public figure, or even a parent, and they responded to the need themselves? You expected for them to send their assistant, but instead they — the most important one — responded to you.

“I will open rivers on the bare heights And springs in the midst of the valleys; I will make the wilderness a pool of water And the dry land fountains of water. I will put the cedar in the wilderness, The acacia and the myrtle and the olive tree; I will place the juniper in the desert Together with the box tree and the cypress.” (Isaiah 41:18-19, NASB)

This passage describes the wilderness-like times in life. You are barren. You are thirsty. You are hot. You are in need. God will provide what you need. God will quench your thirst. He will provide shade when you are weary. During those times, God can provide in creative, innovative ways. He can provide something out of nothing. Doesn’t that give you great hope? Even when you can’t answer how He will do it, He is creative enough to figure it out even when the odds are stacked against you.

“That they may see and recognize, And consider and gain insight as well, That the hand of the Lord has done this, And the Holy One of Israel has created it.” (Isaiah 41:20 NASB).

God will do all of this so that His glory will be put on display. People — including yourself — will see that He is powerful.

So you can see how after a night of wrestling with fear and anxiety, reading this was like shade and water for my soul. God is a god who sees. And God is a god who acts on your behalf.

What do you need His help with today? What are you fearful about today? What keeps you awake at night? Where do you need some shade?

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Hi, I'm Ashleigh Slater, founder and editor of Ungrind. Here at Ungrind, it’s our goal to churn out biblically-based encouragement for women. We strive to be honest and transparent about our struggles in a way that inspires hope, faith, and perseverance.

As you read, we hope you consider us friends, the kind you feel comfortable sitting across the table with at the local coffee shop. You can read more about me HERE and our team of writers HERE.

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Know that I Am

by Kelly Sauer time to read: 6 min
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