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Learning to Walk All Over Again

What difference could a walk with your family make?

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“Few people know how to take a walk. The qualifications are endurance, plain clothes, old shoes, an eye for nature, good humor, vast curiosity, good speech, good silence, and nothing too much.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

As our family makes the turn from driveway to sidewalk, the neighbors’ heads turn. We are a can’t miss parade of two adults, four kids and an assortment of bikes, scooters, a Radio Flyer, a doll stroller, rain boots, at least one kid with shoes on the wrong feet, and another sporting a Popsicle stained shirt. Our clothes are comfy, our sneakers well worn, and our hair long past its AM control. A couple of us might be grumpy or distracted, yet when we step away from homework folders and dishes, cell phones and bill paying, a family walk realigns us.

We don’t do it all the time, but it is a thing we do.

It’s ordinary, so simple that we barely consider our stroll from cul-de-sac to cul-de-sac anything of value. But I’ve been reassessing.

With the big kids at school, my three-year-old daughter and I sometimes take morning walks. I’m thinking exercise and she’s grateful to place her hand in mine and have my full attention. But when our tennis shoes hit concrete, my thoughts go to unanswered texts and unfolded laundry. She experiences the wonders that each step forward brings: a dandelion’s pop of yellow, teeming ant hills, dried up worms, and prickly pine cones. Her goals are to pet dogs and wave at neighbors driving by. I want to burn calories and head back to my house full of tasks. She wants to stop at the neighborhood playground or throw sticks off a bridge.

But then yesterday, as I drug her along, I heard myself.

“Let’s go,” I urged.

“Hurry up. We need to get home.”

“We’ll stop at the playground tomorrow.”

For her, it was us in the moment. For me, it was a “get the kids outside” bullet on my good mommy checklist. Expectations different, one of us enjoyed it, and one of us completed the task.

Family life easily slips into management. It’s full with school, work, extended family, voice mails, church, party invites, soccer, grocery lists, and book reports, swirled together with emotional, spiritual, medical, and physical needs. But I long for it to be full in other ways. I want connection, giggles, processing the school day talks, inside jokes, breaking bread, piggy back rides, wild flower bouquets, and being fully awake to creative Play Doh creations. I don’t want to miss the sacredness of our small and ordinary.

When considering intentional family life, I can start to feel overwhelmed with mommy guilt. The list of what I am not doing is long, the meaningful conversations minimal, the record of wrongs ever-growing, the time spent rushing dominating, and the task list consuming. I’d like to exercise together more, react better, do family devotionals, get one on one with each kid, turn off Daniel Tiger and read aloud, make messy masterpieces, have long talks over the dinner table, bake healthy muffins, and practice math facts. Unfortunately, I can’t fit it all in.

But we can walk. With some simple intention, after a finished meal, or before a Saturday fills, we can lace up our kicks and hit the pavement.

It won’t cure all our problems or meet all our needs. But with our bodies moving in the same direction, we’re sure to speak. When we walk together with arms swinging and eyes facing forward, words spill more freely. Distractions removed, we hear each other differently, listen more.

“Methinks that the moment my legs began to move, my thoughts began to flow.” – Henry David Thoreau

My rag tag, work in progress family lives in a messy world. So as I type, my obsessed with productivity self still wonders how I can waste words on something as frivolous as walking. But what other practical formula for hope I can offer most days than to connect with, and build into, the people we’ve been given to shepherd?

Is a walk going to change this heavy with hate world? No, but it could influence my growing world changers. Psalm 127:4 calls children “arrows in the hands of a warrior.” As we lead our band of little arrows around the block, we can sharpen their impact on the hurting world by processing our reactions to scary news stories, playground dynamics, and workplace politics.

Walking with dishes dirty, texts unread, TV turned off, and boxes on to our do lists left unchecked, is unproductive, yet deeply fruitful. I can watch our five year old play “Simon Says” with his shadow while holding hands with my almost eight year old who is nearing when her hand won’t reach for mine quite so often. So no matter how hard the world news, or how bad the day, a walk reminds me that simple family beauty, so often missed in the worship of productivity, still remains ours for the seizing.

So we walk. We share stories, carefully broach topics needing to be discussed, or simply choose shared silence with sky above us and grass surrounding us. We greet neighbors, notice flowers blooming, and carry a tiring preschooler. Our little arrows pick leaves (sorry neighbors), kick rocks, and run ahead.

Family walks rank in the league of family dinners, without the prep and clean-up. Though somebody usually complains about going, resistance is forgotten once we step off the driveway. It’d be incredible to pack trail mix and head to a nature trail, but that doesn’t fit into the average, ordinary day. Most days it’s sidewalks and zig-zagging between parked cars and big green cans awaiting trash trucks.

I’ve reassessed the ordinary and am learning to walk all over again. Think I’ll reach for some little hands and hit the sidewalk.

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Rebecca Radicchi is a homeschooling, tea sipping, mother of four. Already moved well outside her comfort zone by motherhood, missions, orphan care and adoption, the Lord keeps taking new ground in her heart. Only able to offer a "yes" when the Lord calls, God's been blessing, refining and stretching her. With the hope that others might be encouraged, her humble response is to share the stories. You can find her recording the wonder, struggles and graces of everyday family life at La Dolce Vita and as a contributor at No Hands But Ours.

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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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Learning to Walk All Over Again

by Rebecca Radicchi time to read: 4 min
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