If there was ever a book that I needed for such a season as this one I’m in (other than the Bible, of course) it is what I’m holding. I don’t say this lightly but it truly changed my life and also took a lot of the thoughts and feelings I’ve been having for months, maybe even years, seemingly making sense of them as I began to read the words on these pages. I’ll share a little more of what I’m personally talking about in a post next week as well as a major life change that’s happening for our family, but I’m so grateful I read this and by His grace, at the right time.
I’ve been a huge fan girl of Christy Knockles for years. Her Watermark days are some of my favorite music by her, I’ve listened to every episode of her podcast that got me through a lot of tough nights home alone taking care of two little ones while my husband was starting out as a fireman. She’s one of the few I trust when it comes to Christian influence anymore. I’ve had a really hard time over the last few years with teachers, pastors, worship leaders, and those that claim to know His Word but do not solely seek scripture and lead people with false doctrine and unsound theology. So as I’m sharing this, please know I highly respect her. I believe she truly sits in His word, listens, and rests in Him.
To be completely transparent but also without going into much detail as I’m saving this for next week, but I’m tired of running on the hamster wheel. I miss my kids. I feel like the world is crumbling quite literally around all of us. There’s so much going on, and as a small business owner, I’m having to hustle 50X harder than ever before just to survive, especially after the last year and a half. All of this amping up my anxiety and making it impossible to rest. Impossible to slow down. Impossible to savor the most important things He’s placed in my care. And I’ve known this for awhile, but was having a really hard time trying to make it a reality.
I think every single page of this text is either highlighted, underlined, dogeared, or has notes in the margins in some form or fashion. I continually felt like she was pulling the words right out of my heart. I shared this passage I had underlined from page 25 on social media about a month ago but wanted to post here so you can kind of grasp where I’ve been for some time:
“The to-do list took precedence over my soul needs as I focused tenaciously on doing everything I thought I was supposed to be doing for God and even for myself so life would go as planned. My spirit grieved as I realized that I had assumed I couldn’t afford the luxury of spending time with God. I had believed the lie that I had far too many important responsibilities to spend time being still before Him. When I did make time for Him, in exhaustion, my priority was to ask Him to help make everything that I had spinning: motherhood, home keeping, career building. With a twinge of shame always lingering in my gut, I’d ask his forgiveness for failing to give Him more. Yet I had no more to give because my own strength was gone. Don’t get me wrong. I longed to simply be still. I craved margin and rest and the capacity to put my family first. But I felt trapped in this outer ring, fearful that if I said no to anything, I might miss out on the Next. Big. Thing. Because I would yes myself into more than I could handle, I didn’t have the capacity to truly see others around me. I was usually in such a frazzled state that I valued community primarily for what it could do for me. For lack of a better word, this is hustling, and I’ve learned that God doesn’t always intervene right away when we strive at this kind of pace. Sometimes He gives us what we think we want so that we will finally discover what we truly need. Eventually, though, because He loves us, He will let us feel the weight of trying to call all the shots and do all the things. “
This has been me too. Don’t take me wrong, my store is such a blessing and I believe from Him. It’s paved opportunities, friendships, and time with my kids I wouldn’t have gotten otherwise from a 9-5 or 12 hour shift. But I haven’t always stewarded it well and constantly made it #1 above Him and my family. Unfortunately, it also took me 6 years to realize that. I thought I wanted to be at the top of my game as a “Boss Babe” (now that makes me cringe) until I took a hard blow from those I thought were friends in my community a few years ago. That was my first red flag that I was investing in the wrong things and people and eventually got hurt. It was a really painful lesson for me and one that I have had to continually seek Him and forgiveness when I didn’t want to hand that out either. I also didn’t steward what I was doing time wise or with what I was carrying that led to lots of heavy burdens that add more unwanted financial stress. I see things differently now. I was relying on my own strength and what I could do instead of letting go of control and seeking Him to show me the way I needed to take Farm Girl. My vision with what I want to do and how I want to run my shop has drastically changed. Of course I want to do well! Of course I want to be comfortable and not live month to month hoping we can make it while also worrying about the payments we have to make. But I also want to serve my customers by giving them the best version of myself and that comes from resting in Him and loving and serving my home first. I want my store to be what I originally intended and not a place I resent because things are so tough. I’ve had to learn things the hard way because I was hustling but really just running in circles and living for the temporary.
I think we all do that, don’t we? Live for what feels good in the here and now. Always looking for what’s ahead and never resting in contentment. That behavior has lead me to poor stewardship and a big mess to clean. It’s led me to ditch my calling as His beloved. It’s left me with sadness and the feeling of what I missed at home because my priorities were out of line. I needed that “control” instead of handing what HE had already given me palms open back to Him. My shop has still beheld many blessings and unique things. It’s been an open door to connect with people I probably would never have otherwise and I’m in no way saying has been a complete fail. But I truly want to be more kingdom minded and in that I know it will do far greater in His will than what I could ever do on my own. I wonder now what it would look like or what better of a situation I might be in if I could have released my grip and done that from the start. Why do we sometimes fear trusting God? As Christy says on page 28, “our own self sufficiency has a shelf life.” Nevertheless, He is still good. He is refining me and teaching me so many things and I’m thankful for His grace and mercy to open the eyes of my heart. It’s lead me to long for rest. To long for home. To long more for my calling in motherhood and as a wife more than ever before.
I’ll touch more on that next week. But I needed to read these words from Christy. I needed to know that I wasn’t feeling alone in the thoughts I was having. I needed to realize I too was living outside the bullseye. On page 35 she says “This call was to come and experience how valuing Him and prioritizing His promises and principles-and my own in the process-could produce something unexpectedly life changing.” And I truly have experienced a complete shift. Some of that shift has been small changes, others large like I’ll share soon, but all simultaneously together. If you follow me on instagram, you know I’ve been doing a mental toughness challenge the last 43 days (with 32 to go) and I think it’s no coincidence that a lot of this growing and learning to prioritize in different areas spiritually and physically have come at once.
At one point, I wanted my shop to be up with the big ones, flourishing and making money hand over fist. Albeit I’d love to never worry financially, but I also know that level of “game” will come with great sacrifices. If there was a sweet spot in the middle I’d be ok with that too but now, I seek “The glorious in the mundane.” I want slow and the seemingly small moments in my home more than I want anything outside of these four walls. On page 36 she says “One option was to just keep clinging to the world and its ways of getting things done, which we knew would be at the expense of our family. Or we could choose to step into the mystery of trusting that God would make a way for us if we obeyed what He was pressing into our hearts…….pg 37 God’s invitation to the bullseye marked the start of my learning how to be surrendered.”
At the end of the day, this is what I really want. Clinging to Him and not the world. Surrendering to my Father, knowing He has me and all He’s given me. It’s not easy because we are sinners. We need to continuously seek and press into Him. But it’s easy to miss the mark and lose sight of what truly matters when there’s so much noise and so much hustling.
Page 43 “Why would He want your whole heart? Because He knows what can be entrusted to a fully surrendered heart. This is why we’re called to prioritize.” – This. I must be fully surrendered, look what I’ve already been entrusted with!? The most important – my family. This made my heart yearn for home even more. We often joke that Zack and I aren’t from this time. We belong with Ma and Pa Ingalls when life was “tough” to our generation standards but it was full, rich, and enough.
I don’t want to overshare the whole book and ruin anything for you but there were so many amazing nuggets. Page 44 “We strive for fulfillment and pine for contentment. But what if our striving and pining are preventing the supernatural work of God in our lives? What if our hustling is actually holding us back?” For me, I believe it has. I love to dabble in lots of things because that is my creative side, however when it becomes priority over what’s truly important, I start to drift. Something that truly struck a cord on page 46 was “The most beautiful part of trusting in God as your provider and your promoter is that, not only do you walk into dreams that He’s already prepared in advance for you, but you also begin to experience a satisfaction in His love that none of your previous wants and desires or dreams could ever come close to fulfilling. You become transformed from the inside out.” – page 64 “Jesus faithfully meets us on the other side of all our hustling and striving and bids us to come home in repentance and therefore rest.”
I’ve learned so much and wish I could share all of my “ah ha moments” and underlingings from these pages but I truly want you to read it and sit in it. I plan to read this again, it’s that good. I’ve had to posture my heart this last year and learn to surrender. I’m still working on it. But I want to tell you, I’m thankful for the conviction. I’m thankful for His call to take a look inside and see where I’ve missed the mark.
Friends, we are in a battle. The enemy is out to steal, kill and destroy more than ever before. We keep chasing the carrot of our contemporary culture that never seems to quite satisfy when we have a bite. We are so distracted, divided, and depressed. Our hearts long for something nothing on this Earth can provide because we weren’t meant for this. This world is upside down and I often have to remind myself to let go and shift my mind to His Kingdom. It’s a choice we have to make daily.
Page 83 “Sometimes choosing a heart of rest involves being honest with ourselves and honest about our agendas, recognizing that we actually can’t and don’t have to do it all. When we invite Jesus to live His life through us, we find ourselves on His grace-paved path where His way of doing life is easy and His burden is light.” This is more intended to next week’s post but what my mama heart needed to read “As we fully trust in God, redirecting the eyes of our hearts toward Him, quite often the things we’re juggling fall into rhythm as they were meant to, freeing our hands to receive all that God has for us today. The most treasured gift that He has for us – besides Himself – is the people He has entrusted to us. Chances are, God even now is moving people into the general vicinity of you. He knows when you live out from His love, no one can better love them than you. The most beautiful and effective way to change lives around you is to let God change you. The best way you can love others is to let God love you.”
I hope you can grab a copy and look inward. I’ll add a few more thoughts from this book next week.
I doubt she will ever read this, but Christy-thank you. Thank you for pouring into so many women that you don’t even know. Thank you for living from a heart of rest so you can serve and reach others who are worn out and exhausted, missing their calling as His beloved. Thank you for being faithful and for surrendering. Thank you for showing me what living from the bullseye is like. By Him and through Him, you woke me up and I’ll forever be grateful.
I’ve linked the book for you here.