Category: life to the full

A Summer Mission Trip Opportunity at YoungLives Camp

Experience Graphic 600x600pxFor the second summer in a row, our family will be serving at YoungLives Camp this June and we would love for you to join us. I am the child care admin for our camp for teen moms in the Texas Hill Country, so Jed and the kids join me at Camp Buckner to help give pregnant and parenting teenage girls from all over Texas and surrounding states an incredible week of summer camp with their babies. YoungLives is part of Young Life, an international Christian youth outreach ministry that Jed and I have both been involved with for over 15 years. We actually met at a Young Life camp in North Carolina called Windy Gap.

We love getting to be a part of kids hearing the Gospel at camp, and would like to invite you to come and serve with us. In order to run camps for teen moms, we need LOTS of child care volunteers to help take care of the babies. Camp starts June 6, and we still need over 30 volunteers for each week at Camp Buckner. Would you consider giving a week of your time to rock a sweet baby or chase a toddler so their mama can learn that she has a Father in heaven who loves her and her baby?

Teen moms often face a lot of obstacles and have a lot of odds stacked against them. At camp we help give them the tools they need to be the mom they want to be AND share God’s love with them. Watch the video below, and consider joining us this summer. If Texas is too far, check out the other service opportunities at YoungLives camp weeks across the U.S. For more information and to apply to serve this summer, check out the YoungLives Experience here.

YoungLives Experience from lisa fiedler on Vimeo.

Life to the Full: Peace

Peace.  It can be so elusive.  So fleeting.  So longed for.  I’ve found it can only come for me when I’m connected with Jesus and spending time with Him.  Lately I’ve given in much more to the toxic draw of worry.  It is so much easier to worry, to hold on, to attempt control.  Letting it go in to the hands of my Lord is so hard.  There are a million things to be worried about, to control, refuse to let go.  Jed is a teacher and we live mostly on his income.  I work part time for Young Life and part time on this blog, but our main source is a teacher’s paycheck.  Our state legislature recently made changes to the graduation requirements for Texas students that effectively drop my husband’s subject (World Geography) from the curriculum.  It is a short sighted piece of legislation created to increase graduation rates by requiring less academic courses. It also puts him at major risk for losing his job, as well as hundreds of other social studies teachers.  Dropping an entire subject means teachers will be let go from social studies departments around the state and will be unlikely to find jobs in other departments because they have also dropped the subject.  We won’t know an answer until March or April and there is NOTHING we can do about it.  Except pray. And trust that God has us in His hands.  He brought Jed to his job in a very clear and real way, so we have to trust that if He wants him to stay there, there he will stay.  This is hard.  I want a plan, a solution, a way to fix it.  There is none.  No plan except dependence on my Savior who loves me, loves my family, and has a plan for us.  So we pray and we ask for peace.  Life to the full in Jesus means a life of peace, unburdened by worry.  This, my friends, is the life I want.  A life of peace.
Read the Life to the Full series here.
Read more of the Life to the Full series here.

Life to the Full: Why Can’t We Stop Talking About Other People’s Sin?

I want to talk about the listing of sins and why we as Christians feel the need to do that to ourselves and especially to other people. I’ve heard too many times the excuse, “but we are supposed to speak the truth in love” when a fellow Christian speaks about one type of sinner or another.  I think we need to think long and hard before we try to point out anyone else’s sin.  Are we truly doing it in love to try and help that person?  I hope so, but often that isn’t the case.  In my opinion, we feel the need to call out someone else for their mistakes and sin for two reasons.


Life to the Full: Joy and Discovery

This sweet boy is at such a fun, wild, crazy, stage of exploring his world and learning through discovery every day.  I love being there for every minute of it, even though I sometimes just need a minute where someone isn’t asking me a question.  His speech has really taken off and he is asking new questions nonstop.  He found the shell above and decided it had tiger stripes like the tiger he saw at the Dallas Zoo.  I’m completely biased, but I’m pretty sure he is a baby genius (just like every mother in history).  I long to be the mama who is all in with my kids, loving them fully with the love of Jesus and guiding them through these childhood years.  

Daily I marvel at his inquisitive nature and the pure joy he finds when he learns something new.  He inspires me to look at the world around me with fresh eyes.  He laughs with wild abandon and is so free.  Do you laugh like that?  I hope I do.  In the midst of this depression battle, moments of pure joy and freedom are illusive.  I’m soaking them up and trying my best to be in the moment, on the floor, playing, laughing, teaching, and fighting for freedom from this struggle.    

I hope to laugh like this every day of my life.
What brought you joy today?
You can find more from my Life to the Full series here.

Life to the Full: Depression Will Not Win {Five Ways I Am Fighting Back}

Writing this post has been difficult for me. In almost four years of blogging I’ve never talked about this part of my life, but for a while now I’ve known it was time.  Writing this series about living Life to the Full has made me take a hard look at myself and the areas of my life that prevent me from living a full life.  All of my life I’ve struggled with periodic depression, usually set off by a negative event.  Childhood bullying, break ups, injuries, family losses and tragedies, any time something negative happens in my life I know I’m at risk for a bought with depression.  The feelings are familiar and I now know how to recognize them as they creep in.

I’m sharing this now because I’ve been struggling recently and know that I’m not the only one.  Recently we had an accident that could have been tragic and was completely my fault.  Thankfully no one was hurt, but the mistake and the “what ifs” are haunting me and causing me to battle my old and familiar adversary, depression.  My hope is that by airing what I’m going through possibly someone else will find light in the darkness.  I believe that when we talk about our struggles out loud and bring them in to the light, their power over us diminishes.  I’m hoping shedding light on this side of my life will bring light in to another’s.  I believe much of this struggle is spiritual, as well as physical and chemical.  I am a follower of Jesus, and my perspective here reflects that.  If you are not, know that you will hear no judgement from me.  I’ve tried to include helpful insights for those of all (or no) faith backgrounds to the extent that I can while remaining true to what I believe.

I’m not any type of expert on depression, just a fellow sufferer.  I’ve been medicated on and off through the years, but never found healing through anti-depressants.  I’ve gone to counseling on and off as well, and found much more healing there than through medication.  I’m of the opinion that everyone can benefit from counseling.  If you’ve never tried it, seek it out.  Many churches offer it for free.  I’ve never been suicidal, except for a few fleeting thoughts while on Zoloft, a prescription anti-depressant.  I then read that suicidal thoughts are a side effect of Zoloft.  What the?!?!  It seems irresponsible to prescribe an anti-depressant with a side effect like that.  When I felt those thoughts creep in I immediately reached out to my counselor and doctor, who had me stop taking the medication.  If you EVER experience thoughts of ending your life, please seek help immediately.  See the resources at the bottom of this post for more information.

In my own battle with depression, I’ve found five daily (some hourly) ways that I can choose to fight back.  Again, I’m no expert.  These choices are things that work for me and help me to get my head above water.  To me, depression feels like I’m in deep water and can barely keep my face above the surface.  It takes all the energy I have to keep from sinking.  Sometimes it feels like it would be easier to let myself sink, but that is not the life God wants for me.  John 10:10, the verse I keep going back to throughout this series, says that “The thief comes only to steal, kill, and destroy, but I have come that they might have life, and have it to the full.”  Depression is such an example of how the enemy’s lies can destroy the life God wants for us to have.  We can choose to listen to the lies telling us that God doesn’t love us, that we aren’t good enough, that who we are isn’t enough, and sink down into the dark.  Or, we can choose to believe that God created us for life to the full and get up and live it.    

1) Start the Day.
This one is practical, but also powerful.  When I get up before my children, make my bed, get dressed, grab coffee, and spend quiet time with the Lord, my entire day changes.  When I am struggling, my instinct is to stay in bed as long as possible, stay in my pajamas all day, avoid quiet time, not take care of myself, and wallow in  negativity.  Choosing to start my day has a huge impact on how I feel.  If you have children, get up before them.  If you don’t, set your alarm 15 minutes earlier than normal and take that extra time for yourself.  If you are a follower of Jesus, spend 10 minutes in the Bible, with prayer and reflection each morning.  If you are not a follower of Jesus, spend 10 minutes in quiet reflection.  The soul needs that time, no matter what you believe.

2)  Choose Gratitude.
Make a list of everything you have to be thankful.  Whether you are thankful to Jesus, a higher power, or the universe, choosing gratitude can be a powerful tool to fight off the darkness.  When you take the time to write down the big and the small, it changes your perspective in an incredible way.  Reading Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts was a game changer for me.  When I feel those “woe is me” feelings coming back, I look to my list and force myself to write more.  Choosing gratitude in the midst of a personal storm in my life is the toughest, but makes riding out the storm much more bearable.

3) Choose Joy.  
When the darkness closes in, part of fighting back is to look for joy and choose it.  Joy is very different from happiness in that it can come in the midst of pain.  Joy can be a reflection of the good in others, the smile of a child, the laugh of a friend, while happiness is more self focused.  Choose to smile at other people and mean it.  Choose to laugh and be around people who make you do so.  Enjoy the people in your life.  If you have kids, play with them.  Celebrate all that is good in your life.  Wallowing in discontent will cause me to sink lower and believe lies about myself that just aren’t true.  If I daily (and hourly) seek out joy, my entire perspective shifts.

4) Run Away from Darkness, Towards the Light.
For me, this means running away from the things that bring me down and towards God.  Are there negative influences you keep running toward?  They may be a person, a website, an activity, a substance.  While you can find incredible encouragement and positivity online, you can also find hatefullness and evil running rampant.  I have to limit my exposure to Facebook because all of the hateful political posts and fear mongering shares really cause me to sink.  A friend stopped using Instagram because it caused envy and discontent to creep in to her heart.  For a while I visited a forum that was drowning in darkness and negativity.  In the midst of a dark time I wanted more of it, wanted to feel bad.  I had to stop going all together because of the way it cause me to sink deeper.  When I run towards God, I choose time with Him first.  Before I check my email, before I do anything, time with Him wins.  Running towards the light may mean banning negativity from your life from tv, music, movies, social media, and even some friends.  Choose uplifting things.  If they bring you down, run.

5) Run to Community, Away from the Shadows.
Negativity thrives in the dark, in the hidden.  When I find myself avoiding friends, running towards lonliness, refusing company, I know I’m in the midst of a depression battle.  My instinct is to run to my bed and wallow in the bad feelings.  To fight it I must force myself to reach out and grab community.  Say yes when someone invites me out.  Answer the phone.  Have real conversations.  Let people in.  God can use people powerfully in my life if I let them in.

In Genesis 16:13, Hagar gives God one of my favorite of His names. She says, “You are the God that sees me.”  She is in a dark place, has been mistreated and suffered, but in the midst of it God comforts her.  God sees us.  He is the God who sees me.  I’m choosing to believe that.  I believe and know that He loves me.  He wants real life for me.  He sees me.  He sees you.  He knows you and loves you.  His heart hurts when yours does and breaks for you in your suffering.  He is the God who sees you.

What are you struggling with right now?  How do you fight back? 
If you suffer from depression, how do you fight it? 

For Help:
To Write Love on Her Arms
National Suicide Prevention Hotline
For Starting the Day, Running Toward the Light, and Devotionals:
Jesus Calling
Hello Mornings
She Reads Truth
Ann Voskamp

Life to the Full: Listening to Jesus

I’m a talker.  Always have been.  Like many great talkers, I’m not always the greatest listener because I’m often formulating what I’m going to say next rather than hearing what the other person has to say.  It is a very real fault of mine and I long to be a great listener.  When it comes to listening to what the Lord has to say to me, I’m often too busy to slow down and listen.  This past Sunday our pastor preached on Psalm 46 and the need for us to just be still and listen, and know that He is God.  It was exactly what my soul needed to hear.  He asked us if we would even recognize our soul if faced with it, and my answer was, “I don’t know.”  I want to be a woman who knows herself and her soul and her Jesus.  I want to be a person who listens to what God has to say to me and spends quality time with my Savior each day.
In a world taken over by two very small but demanding people, it is a challenge to have silent alone time.  We all have excuses, don’t we?  Before kids came along it was something else.  My challenge to myself this week in my quest for Life to the Full is to slow down, shut up, and listen.  My plan is this: get up 30 minutes before my kids, grab a cup of coffee, read my devotion for the day, and listen.  In silence.  Will you join me?

This week’s challenge:  Spend time in silence with Jesus.

How do you carve out time to listen to the Lord?

You can read the rest of my Life to the Full series here.

Life to the Full: Daily Prayer Lists

In this quest to live this one life to the fullest extent the Lord has planned for me, I’m trying each week to concentrate on one aspect of becoming the woman I want to be.  You can read about my definition of who that woman is here.  I long to be a woman of prayer.  If you are blessed to know a real prayer warrior, you know there is something different about them, something intangible.  Not only do they have that Jesus joy that shines through so many of His followers, they also have a quiet sense of connectedness to the Father that I want so desperately.  You know they pray for you, even without them voicing it.  You know they spend rich, full, time with their Daddy each day.  I am one who often says a quick prayer throughout the day, but lacks the fortitude to commit to consistent, deep time with Him.  But I want it.  Oh, how I want it.  So, I’ve decided no more will I wait on the sidelines for that magical time when I become the woman I want to be.  The time is now, and it starts with prayer.  
Will you join me?  If you, too, have longed to be a prayer warrior, join me as I try to bridge this gap.  I’ve decided to start with intentional prayer lists.  Using the notes section of my iPhone, I’ve made a list for each day of the week.  There I can easily add prayer requests for friends (both IRL and online) and family, pray for missionaries and churches, and for my husband and children.  My phone is like an extra appendage, so my prayer list will always be with me.  Hopefully each list will be prayed over multiple times per day.  From now on, if I tell someone I’m praying for them, I’m really praying for them.  I want those words to have meaning.  
Challenge #1: Create a prayer list for each day of the week.

Who do you want to be when you grow up?  What steps are you taking to become that person today?

Life to the Full: Defining

Who am I?  Who do I want to be?  For what will I be known or remembered?  These are the questions of life and as I come upon my one year anniversary of leaving a career I loved to stay home with my children, I find myself wrestling with them yet again.  My own little mid-30s existential crisis is taking place.  I look at who I think I am and how I would describe myself and realize that most people would not see that person if they looked at me right now.  If you read my blog today, do you know what I’m about?  I don’t know.  I want to change that.  I want to be the person I want to be RIGHT NOW.  Not in ten years.  Not next week.  Now.

I want to live intentionally and work towards being the person I’ve always longed to be.  First I have to figure out who she is.  I have to define myself.  Not who I used to be, but myself right now.  Motherhood is wonderful.  It is all I had hoped for and so much more, but it has a dangerous way of eclipsing all that a woman was before and causing that to disappear in a wave of spit up and dirty diapers.  I am a mother, yes.  What what else?  Who else?  Right now my wee ones are dependent on me for everything and so that role can easily swallow up all my others.  Soon they will be independent creatures and I will be left not knowing what to do, who to be, who I am.  I want to continue to be me, the person God has made me to be, while mothering and loving my children with my whole self.  Is it possible?  We’ll see.  First I must define who I am and what I want to do with this one life I’ve been given.

Who am I? 
I am a child of God. 
I am a follower of Jesus.
I am a wife.
I am a mother.
What do I want to do with my life?
Love God.
Love my family.
Love others.
Be healthy.
Express myself creatively.
Be a good steward of all I’ve been given.
Be adventurous.
I want to start living intentionally to live this one life to the fullest.  In John 10:10 Jesus says, “The thief comes only to steal, kill, and destroy, but I have come so that they may life, and have it to the full.”  I want that life that Jesus promises.  A full life.  Not a life where distractions rule and chances are missed and regrets are constant.  I want to use this blog as a space where I can express myself creatively and help myself and others to live this one life to the full.  I would love for y’all to join me.  My hope is to each week write at least one post that intentionally gives me an action step towards what I want to do with my life.  This week starts with defining what I want to do with this life.  
Now it is your turn.
Who are you?
What do you want to do with your life?