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Rachel Macy Stafford

  • When Happily-Ever-After Slips Away

    Rachel Macy Stafford OCTOBER 13, 2015

    When Happily-Ever-After Slips Away RACHEL MACY STAFFORD

    "The LORD will vindicate me; your love, LORD, endures forever — do not abandon the works of your hands." Psalm 138:8 (NIV)

    If you are anything like me, you can become quite skilled at putting off your happily-ever-after. Maybe you’ve said things like …

    "Once I get this work done" … "When things slow down at work" … "When this crazy month is over" … "In just a minute" …

    But once the work is complete, the minute has passed and the busy month has concluded, something else always comes up. Your "one more thing" has no end.

    That’s when things start to happen: You drive into the intersection before it’s your turn because you’re tired and distracted … you scream at the ones you love the most because you’re stretched too thin … you wake up feeling irritable and unhappy despite the abundant blessings in your life.

    Then you speak to a friend whose husband is fighting for his life and realize your happily-ever-after is slipping right through your busy, little fingers.

    That’s how it played out for me. It was the slow deterioration of my highly distracted life that led me to pray for the Life Do-Over I once thought was impossible.

    Let me show you what my do-over looked like:

    At the height of my bulging social calendar, at the height of my ability to "do it all," at the height of my perfectly orchestrated life, God gave me the strength to let go.

    I surrendered my plan, as well as societal expectations, in order for God to show me His plan. Each morning I designated 10 minutes to be still and listen. Once I began to hear God’s gentle voice, instead of the damaging demands of distraction, perfection and pressure, I was able to grasp what mattered most in life.

    I told my inner drill sergeant perfection was not required on this journey. God nudged me when to let my children help prepare the meal … when to stay a few more minutes at the dinner table … when to stop hurrying and let my child set the pace. God showed me that accomplishing tasks perfectly and efficiently is less important than being present and connected to the people I love.

    I told my harsh inner critic to stop sabotaging my joy. I stopped letting the bulge around my waist or the wrinkles around my eyes prevent me from jumping in the pool … dancing with my children … or voicing my life-long dreams. God showed me that in order to reach my full potential, I must stop letting the mirror or the number on the scale determine my worth.

    I informed my internal over-achiever that I would no longer be everything to everyone. I realized that continually saying yes to everything outside the home meant saying no to the most important things inside the home. God showed me that in order to be joyfully fulfilled, I must choose to place my time and energy in what (and who) mattered most.

    It has been five years since I began my Hands Free journey. When I lay my head down at night, there is no longer a list of unfinished to-do’s running through my head. I am no longer consumed with guilt over missed opportunities to live, love and laugh. Instead, I am filled with gratitude for the grace of God, a daily do-over gift available to all of us.

    Dear God, Thank You for reminding me it’s not too late to live the life You have planned for me. Please help me discern what is important from the many distractions and time wasters in my life. Please nudge me when my loved ones are near, wanting me to listen to them, talk to them and love them. Lord, please help me see what really matters. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Proverbs 3:5-6, "Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight." (NIV)

    RELATED RESOURCES: If you’re tired of managing life and want to start living life, you’ll appreciate Rachel Macy Stafford’s newest book, HANDS FREE LIFE: 9 Habits for Overcoming Distraction, Living Better, & Loving More. Through truthful storytelling and life-giving Habit Builders, Rachel can show you how to live each day with more love, more presence and more grace.

    Enter to WIN a copy of by Hands Free Life by Rachel Macy Stafford. In celebration of this book, Rachel’s publisher is giving away 10 copies! Enter to win by leaving a comment here, letting us know why you’d like a copy for yourself OR whom you would give the book to, if you won. {We’ll randomly select 10 winners and email notifications to each one, by Monday, October 19.}

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Rachel once wrote: "There is peace knowing I spent today living my happily-ever-after instead of tacking it to the bottom of the to-do list where it will never be touched."

    Think about your daily to-do list. Is there time for living, laughing and loving each day? How might you surrender both self-induced pressures and societal pressures to allow God to lead you on a more fulfilling path?

    © 2015 by Rachel Macy Stafford. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries thanks Zondervan for their sponsorship of today’s devotion.

    Click here to view our policy on 3rd party links.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries 630 Team Rd., Suite 100 Matthews, NC 28105 www.Proverbs31.org

  • For your eReader: Kyle Idleman’s newest!

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  • Saying "I Love You"

    During the first month and a half of every year, we all turn our eyes towards those we love. We say something sweet. Some may even eat something sweet.

    Many people say that Valentines Day is a made up holiday, put in place by the greeting card companies of the world. Well, truth be told, I don't care. It is a day to help us remember to say "I love you" to those around us. Taking the time each day to show love is certainly important, but it's also fun to get caught up in a holiday such as this day.

    So how do you say "I love you" to someone you love? Perhaps it's packing two cookies in the kid's school lunch. Maybe it's a surprise delivery of flowers for your spouse at work. Maybe it's even a call to your mother-in-law. How do you say "I love you?"

    We ask some of our friends to share their thoughts and ideas. See below for some great inspiration and pointers.

    My favorite way to say 'I love you' to someone is to push aside my hesitations, my duties, and my distractions so that my loved one knows I'm all there, and there’s no place else I’d rather be. -Rachel Macy Stafford (Hands Free Mama)

    "...is to come alongside them in their struggles and pray over them, speak encouraging truth from God's Word into their lives and look for ways to lighten their load. Galatians 6 says, 'Bear one another's burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ." - Stephen Kendrick

    “I listen well and when I try to supply what someone needs, whether it's something I buy or something I do for them.”Colleen Coble, USA Today-best-selling author of Butterfly Palace and Smitten Book Club

    “My favorite way to say I love you to someone is by surprising him or her with a special and unexpected gift.” - Beth Wiseman

    “My favorite way to say 'I love you' to someone is by giving them my full attention.  I slip my phone back into my purse, take my eyes off the computer, and stop watching the television. Giving someone your complete attention shows them that what they are saying is valuable to you. It also feels good to have someone's attention for a few moments. Maybe you're not even talking, you're just being together. It helps the person to feel cared for. So when I want to show someone I love them, I unplug and pay attention with my mind, my heart, and both ears.” - Vannetta Chapman

    “My favorite way to say "I love you" is to do something unexpected. One example is surprising my teenage and young adult kids by doing their laundry or cleaning their rooms. Or I'll make my husband's favorite meal/dessert even when it's not a special occasion. Understanding the people I love, knowing what they need and want, and then giving it to them when they least expect it is a wonderful way to express love.” - Kathleen Fuller

    “My favorite way to say "I love you" is a lot like Elf's favorite way to spread Christmas cheer -- by singing loud for all to hear!” - Krista McGee

    "My favorite way to say "I love you" is to take their face in both of my hands so that they can't look at the screen beside them or down at the phone in their lap. Then I draw their face very, very close to mine until all they can see is my face.  At this point my heart always slows a little bit in anticipation because I know that I have their undivided attention. I look deeply into their eyes until I connect with that heart of theirs that I love so much and I say it, "I love you," and I smile.  Then I get to see the most precious thing known to me.  Their body relaxes a bit and a look of relief from the cares of the world melts their face. In that moment they know that they are loved--deeply, for real, forever.  My heart aches just thinking about it." - Susan Merrill

    “My favorite way to say 'I love you' to someone is to cook a nice dinner for them! My favorite time of day is when I have family and friends gathered around the dinner tables. I love happy smiles, bellies getting filled up, and the great conversation and laughter!” - Tricia Goyer

    "My favorite way to say, “I love you,” to someone is in small daily interactions that fit with the way God wired the people in my life to best hear love. For example, my husband and sons speak the language of respect. So I ask them for opinions when I’m making decisions. I don’t interrupt them. I avoid starting sentences with the word, “Why?” as it is received as a challenge. I recommend by starting with, “This may be something you already thought about, but have you considered, XYZ?” And when I disagree, I say, “I think that is an awesome idea! I love XYZ about it. One thing I’m wondering is how (my concern) fits into that…what do you think?” And I will often just work alongside them, responding to them, and providing help instead of instigating conversation. And with my daughter? She receives love best by being listened to, empathized with, and touched. To love people well, we need to love them like Jesus did, meeting them where they already are." Nina Roesner - Author, The Respect Dare

    ". . . to verbally tell them. It's amazing how many people don't say 'I love you.' I get my older brother with that all the time. But also, I look to say 'I love you' by giving or doing something the other person loves. My husband is an introvert and loves alone time. So I allow him to just 'be' without bugging him. Another way to say 'I love you' is to speak destiny over someone, especially teens. By saying, 'Hey, I see this in you,' eyes and hearts really light up." - Rachel Hauck

    ". . . written words. Ever since I can remember I've expressed myself best in writing (maybe because I tend to cry if I express love and gratitude in person!). I like the way writing gives me time to think, reflect, and edit my words until they say exactly what I mean." - Deborah Raney

    ". . . to take on a chore or run an errand I know he or she has been dreading. I believe love is indeed a verb." - Dorothy Love

    ". . . to speak the words aloud . . . and to speak them often. Naturally, love must be shown with actions as well, but words matter so I try not to let an opportunity pass me by to say, 'I love you.'" - Robin Lee Hatcher

    ". . . to bake them something. Cookies, cheesecake, granola – whatever sweet treat they like best!" - Denise Hunter

    "One thing I’ve noticed about saying “I love you” is that it has so much less to do with my favorite way to say it, and so much more to do with who I’m saying it to.  For my husband, speaking love means communicating words of gratitude and appreciation.  For my kids, it means turning off technology, holding them close, and playing games with them on our living room floor. There are so many ways to say I love you, but I’m learning to speak love in the ways that matter most to the people I love. " --Debra K. Fileta, M.A., LPC, Author of True Love Dates

    "My favorite way to say I love you is by spending quality time and giving thoughtful gifts." - Garrett Hornbuckly, All Things New

    “One of my favorite things to do, depending on how old the members of my household are, is to write '14 things I love about you' (my daughter is 14) 1 - You are so beautiful inside and out. 2 - You are so much fun to be around 3 - you have such a tender heart etc. With my husband, I like to use the years we have been married as my guide as we are getting so much older now and I'd have to find a pretty big card if I was going to go by age! We have been married for nearly 22 years now and he is an incredible man of God, so I like to remind him how amazing he is. I don't think we should ever take it for granted that the ones we love know how much they mean to us. Taking the time to communicate will help to reinforce the bond of love between us.” – Sam Evans, Planetshakers

    "I only know one way to say 'I love you,' I guess two ways if you count Spanish.  This is the best I could come up with: My favorite way to say 'I love you' to someone is…through action.  Daily, consistently and intently.”Fawn Weaver

    "My favorite way to say 'I love you' to someone is to do the one thing that I know will mean the most to them. Learn the language of those you love." - Sheila Walsh

    'My favorite way to say 'I love you' to my husband is to try to remember to say 'thank you' for what he does, when he mows the lawn or overcomes exhaustion to play with the kids or does something that makes me happy. That says 'I love you' to him more than anything else!" - Shaunti Feldhahn

    "My favorite way to say 'I love you' to someone is with one-on-one time including lots of laughter and hugs." - Kim Vogel

    "My favorite way to say 'I Love You' to someone is giving them my time. For my mom, who has Alzheimer's Disease, it's sitting with her on the patio watching for birds. For my hubby, it's watching a rerun of  a Star Trek TV show with him. For my grandson, Ryan, it's engaging in a Wii game tournament." - Mona Hodgson

    “My favorite way to say 'I love you' to someone is chocolate chip cookies. Well, cookies and kind words. I love the idea of calling out the good in someone. For me, an encouraging word or a reminder of what's true can carry me through rough days, so speaking life into someone I love brings me a lot of joy...and so do chocolate chip cookies!"

    "[Another] favorite way to say 'I love you' to someone is…to ask them how they're doing and really listen. So often, "How are you?" is just another way of saying "Hey!". I love taking the time to really listen to the people I love, to hear their hearts and their dreams and their struggles. These conversations are where true community happens, and I'm so grateful for the people who have slowed down to really listen to me." - Ellie Holcomb

    "My favorite way to say ‘I love you’ to someone is “to do an act or sacrificial service that will demonstrate in deed how much I love them.” -Dr. Tony Evans

    "My favorite way to say I love you is through food! I love to cook and bake and nothing brings me more joy then to cook my husband or someone their favorite meal or treat!" - Molly Reed, City Harbor

    "My favorite way to say ‘I love you’ to someone is to point out simple things about them that I really value. I think sometimes people just need to be reminded that you're grateful for who they are.” - Robby Earle, City Harbor

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