Feeling Empty

James 4:14 - “Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.”

Your life is a Mist. A VAPOR.  How is God calling you to PURPOSE?

My number is 282.  My number is not better or worse than yours.  It’s just different.

My number does not save me.  It does not make me more holy.  It is not my boasting right or claim to fame.

My number is simply a demonstration of my Life-Purpose. 

Two days. It’s been two days since I’ve lived with an emptiness.

I have been alive for 536 months. I have spent over half my life, 282 months to be exact, pregnant or nursing.  In the last 336 months, I have been privileged to carry and nurture life 282 of those months.

Two days ago, our sweet little blessing, went home to be with Jesus. To us, our children are so much more than a number but if you are counting, Jesus called our 13th blessing home. 

I was hopeful and joyful to share after our first ultrasound this past week at ten weeks, that we were so humbled and blessed to welcome life once again.  Instead, the peek into my womb revealed the handiwork of the creator God who called our little one home early. And then I realized, nothing has changed!  For ten joyful weeks, the Bryant family was once again privileged to welcome and celebrate LIFE! 

Two days.  It has been two days since I have not nurtured or nourished a living soul for the past  212 months.

So many would say, you’re crazy!  You finally have some Me Time!  Take that vacation!  Enjoy your own body and space!  And while I welcome the changing of seasons, (after all motherhood is really such a short season of our life), I thankfully embrace the empty ache that I feel so deeply.

You see, my “empty” in the here and now has gifted Heaven another gain.  An eternal soul,  forever living for His glory!  My empty is worth Heaven’s gain any day and every day!

Why am I sharing this?  I can assure you that it is not to toot my own horn!  After all, 282 months have been spent clinging to God’s amazing strength to see me through.

I am simply vulnerably lifting the veil in the life of a mother as to why in the world would she sacrifice so much. To cast a bold vision that our life is but a vapor.  Are we living on purpose?

My Life-Purpose is simple.  It can be summed up in one phrase…to seize every moment of my “everyday” life to value the Eternal. To live for it, sacrifice for it, champion for it , risk for it, cast vision for it, pursue it, love it, grow in it, and die for it. 

What is eternal, you ask?  Nothing but the heart and soul of another. 

Why in the world would someone sacrifice so much for not even the here and now but the things to come? Only one reason…for the sake of the gospel, as a slave to Jesus Christ, I champion His cause, His love, His vision, all for His Glory.

This purpose starts in my own heart and pursues a love relationship with God.  For without it, I certainly lack strength and vision.  My life-purpose includes an all-out pursuit to respect, love and cherish life with this man of my dreams that I am privileged to call mine.  To overflow and value, treasure, teach, disciple, train, love and nurture the little ones in my own home.  This is the foundation needed for outreach, hospitality, service and ministry beyond the walls with which I live. To overflow into a world in desperate need of HOPE. In need of a Savior.  In need of a Purpose.

…I desire nothing more than for you to discover your Life-Purpose and calling. To walk in the peace, joy and freedom that can only be found in a life sold-out for Christ!  One of the Seven-Life Muscles that we need to be strong as we mobilize for His kingdom is to let God uncover our Life-Purpose.  This is my prayer for you!  May you find great purpose and hope in living empty for Heaven’s gain!

To Our Single Friends This Valentine's Day!

With all this talk about Marriage and Families, there's one thing we want to tell our single friends...

You are not broken in need of repair!
You are not missing something, you already have everything.
You are not too old, too young, too weird, too unlovable.

You are simply you. A child of God. Made in His Image. Designed and Hand-Crafted by the Creator Himself. You are complete and have FULL capacity to be used by God to reach others in need. You are loved!!!

So, as we approach Valentine's Day, please don't need a Valentine to be loved! You are so LOVED that your heart and soul was bought at the highest cost. A Love so strong that even though HE hung on a cross, betrayed and wrongfully accused, He humbly gave you a LOVE that puts chocolate and roses to shame!

You are Loved! You are Useful! You have the potential to ignite a world with an overflowing truth and grace only found in our Savior!

Live your life to the fullest, sold-out for Christ and if the Lord calls you into Marriage and Family, you'll be ready to overflow into your home, then church and world!

It's Never Too Late to Build Muscle!

Every night felt the same.  Another groundhog day, or so she thought as she laid her head on her pillow.  It wasn’t how she imagined ‘Happily Ever After’ to be.  I mean, should she really be complaining?  After all, there wasn’t nearly the fighting as that of her childhood home.

She shook her head, and clenched her eyes as if to erase the days memories. The tone in her memory even startled her.  Those eyes, so big. The brightest blue.  She could remember the first time she saw those eyes.  The day she fell in love.  In that moment, she whispered promises she never dreamed would be so hard to keep. She would always protect.  Always be gentle and kind, treasuring each moment with her brand new baby girl. 

When did it change?  When did she go from treasuring each moment to living for bedtime?

Her hubby leaned over and cuddled in close.  Every fiber in her being pulled away, a fact she tried to hide. She wasn’t quite sure why.  She loved him desperately after all. I guess, she just needed a minute.  A minute to think, to scold herself and reprimand her heart for her grumpy attitude today. To solidify a path, an oath that tomorrow would be different.  It had to be.  She could barely live with herself.  Why would anyone else want to?

The doubts swirled in her mind.  Was that what was happening?  Was she setting herself up for the day when she would be all alone, so unlovable that no one would want her?

For a second, she reached for the ember of hope that things could really be different tomorrow.  She could do it.  She could choose joy even though she couldn't quite figure out just what was bothering her. 

Her thoughts came to a crashing halt when her husband whispered.  She couldn’t quite hear what he said but it didn’t matter. She was already frustrated, irritated that he’d interrupted her inner scolding. 

“What did you say?” she flippantly replied.

With a little more volume, her husband replied. “So, when will have time for me?  I miss you.  I just want to be close to you.  Your always busy with something or someone.  I just want to know when you’ll have time for me?”

There it was!  Deep down, another reason she was a failure, another person demanding her attention.  But as quickly as the thought came, another came even stronger.  After all, who does he think he is? Didn’t he know how hard it was being a mom, having needy babies all day long and a pile of dishes and laundry to top it off? Yeah, he was the problem.  At least that’s what her heart told her.

In a voice much too angry for late night talks, she directed her scolding from her own heart onto his.  In a matter of seconds, she let him know that he was selfish to care about himself, not when she was so busy carrying the weight of the world.

And with that, he mumbled under his breath that he’s tired of things always being this way.  He rolled over harshly, pulling half of her blankets off of her body.

The cold air of the night left her feeling just as exposed as her heart was.  She pulled her half of the blankets back and closed her eyes even tighter. 

The thoughts began the scolding again. Once again, she had blown it.  She should reach out and tell him she was sorry.  She really was so very sorry!  But then that would lead to a long night of conversation and she was just so tired.  So very tired. 

Yes, it could wait.  Wait until the morning when she wouldn’t be so tired. And with that, she drifted off to sleep.

The next morning, her eyes couldn’t help but squint as the sun crept through the shades onto her face.  She was trying to remember what day it was when the memories of her late night argument welcomed her.  With a flicker of hope and the apologetic words on her lips, she hurried to the kitchen to find her husband.  She had slept a little later than usual but she was sure that he wouldn’t have left for work quite yet. 

Rushing into the kitchen, her focus on the cars outside for a desperate sign that he was still home, she found a note from her beloved.

It read, “I’m leaving for work early today.  I couldn’t sleep last night, not knowing that there was tension between us.  Don’t worry, I’ll buy myself lunch today and see you later tonight.”

As she was reading the letter, her sweet little girl ran into the room yelling, “ Mommy, mommy…I awake. I hungry.  I hungry.”

She was half happy to see her little girl and half disturbed.  All she wanted was a quite moment to read her letter, to let her heart hurt and strategize her next course.

The little girl began tugging on her robe, “Mommy, mommy, please, I hungry!”

And in an instant, faster than she had time to think, she snapped at the little girl, “I’m coming! Why do you always have to eat so much?”

Her heart sank as the very first moment of her day began just like the days before.  She was no different and tonight would be just another groundhog night. 

And with that, she poured her daughter some cereal with a broken heart, wondering how she would find her way to joy again.

***This is a fictional short story that I wrote of a real life family in need of some Seven-Life Muscle foundation and building.  This might look a little like you family and it might look a little like mine.  These real life interactions keep us from relationally connecting.  Oh, we don’t mean to.  We desperately want to love and be loved.

In this story, we have so many things happening at once. The enemy is using real life pressures and miscommunication to divide.  To use her past to lock in her future.  They are lacking tools of communication and healthy boundaries to keep the marriage relationship alive. They are giving into the temptation to set aside their marriage for the “someday” when they would have time.  They are so busy with their daily lives that they are missing the connection that comes with slowing down for the things that really matter.  They are looking to relationships and things in this world to satisfy their heart instead of abiding with the one person who will always satisfy…Jesus.  They are believing that “tomorrow” can catch up on all of their hurts from yesterday.  That the events of today won’t lengthen the divide that is growing between them.  It doesn’t really seem that big after all.  Their life-purpose set aside for surviving today.

But the truth is that without proactive, intentional heart connection today, the distance between them will  grow to the point where the bridge toward oneness is too far. The anger in the home will hinder the desire for their daughter to want to be home as she grows let alone ever marry. Lessons are being taught on how to relate to one another in all the wrong ways. It isn’t what either one really wanted but is in fact how their family is being molded.

It is our desire to come alongside this family and equip them with tools of communication for authentic heart connection.  To heal the wounding from yesterday for the freedom for today. And to replace the chains and lies with the Truth found only in Jesus!  It’s never too late to build Muscle to strengthen tomorrow!

This family is me.  This family is you!  This is a family that can find freedom the Seven-Life Muscle Way! Join the 7LM Gym today! 

Give the Best Christmas Gift This Year

This Christmas marks my 27th year of finding the perfect gift to unwrap on Christmas morning. Of course, like you, my heart has always been to keep Jesus the reason for the season.  At times, the expectations of the holiday have threatened to steal my joy.  Oh, it’s not the expectations of my family that bring the anxiety.  It’s a self-inflicted pressure to truly bless my family with a quality gift that brings joy and lasts for more than just a day.

If you’re like me, you’re wanting to bless your family with the best gift ever as we remember the greatest gift of all time. So here’s a list of Christmas gifts that will last a lifetime!  In fact, these gifts can seem so basic that we forget to remember that they truly are the greatest gifts, the foundation for which we can remember that precious baby Jesus! 

~A Peaceful, Hope-Filled Home:  For many, a home is the center of all the celebration.  Even if you spend Christmas morning at another home, day in and day out, all through December, our home is the “base camp” for the holiday season.  Our home can even be the life-bridge to someone in need.  And this is the very place where the enemy attacks.  Many times, responsibility falls on the very one trying to create such wonderful memories.  Stress, holiday cooking, expectations and fatigue can steal the very peace we’re striving to maintain.  By far, a peaceful, hope-filled home will be one of your family’s favorite memories!  You have the privilege to bring peace into the most stressed-filled moment as you provide a safe haven for all who enter your home!

~A Peaceful Marriage: Maybe you feel like a load of bricks was just dropped on your shoulders. So many dynamics happen during the month of December and many times, our marriage takes the brunt of the stress.  Being around family members you rarely see, strained financial pressure and missed expectations can lead to strife and conflict in the core of our home…our marriage!  In fact, statistics tell us that the word “divorce” is often the most searched word on the internet with the idea that once we get through the holidays, we can find peace.  But peace will never come as we walk away from oneness.  Rather adding more tools to our tool belt of healthy communication offers the hope we desperately need for peace in our marriage.  This holiday season, take the time to slow down and practice some self-heart care.  Seek the Lord as He defines your identity.  Then ask the Lord to give you a heart of peace and love as you communicate with your husband.  You might be surprised to see what small steps taken this month can make a huge impact on the next. A peaceful marriage is the starting point to a peaceful, hope-filled home.

~A Contented Mother: If you’re like me, my heart doesn’t really hunger for things under the tree, at least not for me. My temptation comes in wanting to give my children, husband and family the absolute best.  The pressure comes in meeting expectations and even more, my own expectation of wanting to see joy-filled, happy faces.  But a present under the tree will never be the gift that lasts!  A mother content in the Greatest Gift of all time, that baby Jesus, is content with whatever provision He gives.  A heart that rests in the Lord knows that as she seeks first His Kingdom, He will provide for her family’s needs.  He is faithful provider!  Find rest in Him this CHRISTmas.

~A Contagious, Joy-Filled Woman: The greatest gift a woman can have during the holidays is an overflowing joyful spirit! No matter our circumstance or how another reacts, we can choose joy!  For some, circumstances surrounding the holiday season can be harsh.  Perhaps, grieving a loved-one, a recent health crisis or even family strained relations can leave the holiday season with a covering of a hopeless gloom.  Joy finds rest, peace and hope even amidst the most dire circumstance knowing the best truly is yet to come!  Because that baby Jesus came, we have eternity to celebrate!  Against the backdrop of hard days, be the refreshing memory of a joy-filled woman!   But be careful, a joy-filled heart is contagious!  You may just partner with God to bring joy and hope to a heart in need!

~A Heart-Connected Mother and Wife: So many times, we fall into the trap that a holiday full of crafts, a Pinterest worthy home & tons of family-busy memories will be the lasting memories of happiness to our children.  But many times, our family would rather us slow down, play a game, bake some cookies or share a special heart-connected talk over coffee/tea.  Busy shopping trips and large wrapping sessions might seem the best use of our time but less gifts and more heart-connection is truly a desired gift!  A temptation to work overtime to provide for that special, desired gift may bring the temporary Christmas morning high but will quickly fade away.  Take the time to slow down and really listen to those that you love!  Gift the gift of relationship this year!  It may just be their favorite Christmas ever!

~A Heart that Ponders:  All too soon, 2018 will pass away and the demands of 2019 will blaze a new journey!  There is a day coming for reflection and vision for the days to come.  I’m excited to share what God has been laying on our heart in this regard.  But today, don’t forget to ponder!  Begin each day reflecting on the our Lord and Savior Jesus so our eyes can wipe away the earthly pressure and usher in the eternal.  Store up in your heart the way that your family looks, acts and smiles.  Set aside the busy and embrace God’s gift for us this season.  That baby really did come and it changed EVERYTHING! 

I pray that this holiday season is the best one ever as you give your family the gifts that truly last a lifetime!  Merry CHRISTmas!

Today is the Day!

With every mile that we drove, we had to fight the inevitable pull that was slowly navigating us toward the ditch. At times, I could be describing the intense conversation IN the car, threating to divide our oneness and lead us toward a crash and burn relationally. But this time, I’m describing the literal pull of our “new to us van”, tugging and threatening to veer us off the road. We knew when we bought the van, our first repair would be to keep us headed on the straightaway of the road. Although costly, it was necessary.

For you see, if we had left it well alone, slowly but surely, we would tire of the hard work to keep our van headed in the right direction. Over time, we would either give up or have a literal crash and burn stopping our journey dead in it’s tracks.

Our marriage and oneness works in much the same way! If left to it’s natural course, without proactive tending and care, oneness has a way of getting off course and is at risk for irreparable damage.

If there is something off balance, over time, our marriage will veer off the marriage track and a great amount of time and effort will need to be made for repairs. Often, a slow fade makes the tugging and pulling less noticeable. But a lifetime of sun up and sun down reveals what always was.

With great sadness, we all have seen a love that lasted for decades end with a bang. And we wonder, how does this happen? Why didn’t we see this coming? If we’re not proactive and intentional, we could easily join the statistic as well.

One thing has become clear… in time, your trajectory will be revealed. Despite the best of intentions, the little decisions that we make each and every day determine our long term success.

The tugging and the pulling knows no gender or race. It doesn't discriminate based on a number of faithful years or past generations of life-long marriages. It comes for us all. The great news is that we all can war for oneness in our marriage, no matter what level of repairs are needed! With God, there’s always a way!

This holiday season, we’re taking the time to war for ONENESS in your marriage and mine! Because of ONE HOLY NIGHT, we have the opportunity to war for holiness in our marriage! Today is the day! Take the time to slow down this holiday season and remember the ONE HOLY NIGHT that changed everything! Click here to listen to our podcast