Thursday, October 24, 2013

Bringing Home the "Bacon"

I was blessed enough to be able to attend MomCon 2013 this past weekend which is a 3 day conference for MOPS (Mothers Of Preschoolers) Leaders.  What an amazing experience it was, and not only because the keynote speakers included my favorite author of all time, Jen Hatmaker as well as Lysa Terkeurst, Beth Moore and a former 20 year CEO of MOPS, Elisa Morgan.  We were surrounded by women who fear the Lord and wanted so badly to serve other moms in their communities and become better mothers.  I mean, really?  Is there a better group of people to be with?

So, I was inundated with so much inspiring and challenging information from amazing Christian leaders and I just kept thinking, "How in the world am I going to bring home, share and use all of this material with our group?"  I tell you, I was overwhelmed with so much "meaty" information, talks that left you inspired, ideas that make you want to jump out of your chair and ways that I want to change the world that my head was spinning!  I. Don't. Know. Where. To. Start!

I have been praying for God to show me how to do it; how to pick the pieces that need to be used first, from the ideas I need to store away for later.  Praying that He would help me remember all of the information and not just let it get tucked somewhere in my brain as a great weekend.  I do not want to forget any piece of what I learned at this conference.  I took notes incessantly.  I want to share what He showed me and what the speakers had to say.  Oh, how I am praying that it will all stay fresh in my mind until He reveals to me what to do with it all.  I want Him to show me how to bring this knowledge home with me to use in my community.

And then, I finally took time to open my Bible this week (it has been a little crazy 'round here... bad excuse I know, but such is my life) and this is what I found.  Proverbs 5:1-2 "My son, pay attention to my wisdom; listen carefully to my wise counsel.  Then you will show discernment, and your lips will express what you've learned." I have been praying for this exact thing this week and He tells me in His Word that He will do it for me.  I just have to listen.

Such a direct answer to my prayer.  "I will do it for you," is what He is telling me.  "Spend time with me.  Talk to me.  Listen." 


Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Seeking Wisdom

Proverbs 4:7 says "Getting wisdom is the wisest thing you can do."  Seems pretty simple and redundant, yes?  But I am a firm believer that if God repeats Himself, we had better listen.  Of course, He seems to repeat Himself quite frequently to me on certain topics that I have a hard time getting through my thick skull.  He finds many ways to do so as well, Bible verses I read, a sermon at church, a devotional that comes in my email or Facebook.  So many ways to reach me, and yet it doesn't always sink in.

So, reading on to gain this wisdom to make me wise I am realizing He tells me to seek this and not that, to live this way and not that, but "surprisingly" the direct wisdom I seek, such as how to organize my life when I am living out of boxes in a basement or how to discipline my almost 4-year-old who can't seem to listen to "No" or "Stop" without a huge drama production aren't written in there.  Big surprise, right?

But, God knows that is not what we need.  We don't need the "easy button."  If we had it, we wouldn't need Him.

I often find myself thinking, "I really need to get in touch with so-and-so because I know she has all this discipline stuff down," or "I need to call this person for advice on how to live in your in-laws basement because she had to do it too," instead of falling on my knees and seeking the true wisdom I need.

Now, God does give us mentors and friends with advice and experience to help pass on His wisdom, no doubt, and they are invaluable.  But, if I find myself seeking these resources above wisdom from Him, I am starting in the wrong place.   God may not give me direct answers or suggestions like my friends can, but God knows my child.  He knows my situation and can lead me to what is best for my family.  All my friends can do is share their advice and experiences which will definitely vary from mine, so I will need to adjust for my specific situation.

I guess the wisdom I gained today reminds me to seek Him first, not after the fact.  Ask Him to show me the answer or the way to go when I initially face the situation and then if that means turning to a friend or mentor for advice as well, that is where I go.

That being said, if anyone has any advice to pass on concerning the aforementioned issues, I am more than open to take them.  I have been praying about them (especially the discipline) for quite some time and still have yet to figure it out. 

Monday, September 30, 2013

What Home, Mommy?

I knew God was leading me to the right book for this period in my life when I started reading Proverbs.  Like I stated before, we are currently in a season where everything we once knew is in complete upheaval.  Thankfully, nothing drastic or traumatic, just a time of transition and changes for the better.

We sold the only home our children have ever known and are currently living in the basement of my husband's parents and today on our way home from preschool, I told my youngest daughter we would each lunch at home.  She asked, "What home, Mommy?"  Now, I don't think she was saying this as we have no home, but more asking which house is home.  I can completely see how she is confused.  We have the "old" house, grandma and grandpa's house, and the "new" house (the one we are building).  I have to keep reminding the kids that, right now, our home is grandma and grandpa's house.

Upheaval and confusion.

So, the words of wisdom and reassurance in Proverbs are such a foothold for me right now.  A reminder that my true home is always with Christ.  That if I seek Him and His wisdom I will always be headed the correct way.  3:23-26a "They [common sense and discernment] will keep you safe on your way and your feet will not stumble.  You can go to bed without fear; you will lie down and sleep soundly.... for the Lord is your security."

The Lord is my SECURITY.  The LORD is my security.  All the consistency I need in a life of changes and new surroundings and situations.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Relating to Thousands of Years Ago

I have a lot of "Bible Study" books on my plate right now.  One of them is "Known and Loved" by Caryn Rivadeneira.  It is a devotional through the Psalms and is quite fabulous.  I am reading it with my MOPS Steering Team.  

The opening is something I have thought many times as I read through the Bible, really anywhere, but I loved how well she put it into words.  

"Whether you've read through the Bible many times, never picked it up before, or anywhere in between, you'll find that spending time in the psalms always nourishes us, feeds us.  Sometimes in clear-cut, obvious ways, sometimes through the totally unexpected.  Especially since these words were written three thousand years ago by people whose lives looked little like our own.  And yet, the aches, the longings, the questions, and the worship - all the human experience - remain the same.  Remarkable, really."

I find it amazing, really, how much we can actually relate to the people who lived when these God-inspired words were penned.  Their lives looked nothing like ours today, but how we feel and experience it, the struggles and joys, remain the same.  

It challenges me to look at what I am reading in a different light.  To not see the exact scenario, but to think about how I experience something similar in current times.  To think more about their thoughts and feelings over the actual events.  Its all about what God has to teach me through the lessons learned and feeling felt and how I can relate to the person involved.

And really, this is applicable for the entire Bible, not just the psalms.

Good things to remember.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Lifelong Journey

I am finding there is so much to learn on the topic of wisdom itself even before you start gaining more wisdom on other things. 

Proverbs is chop full of wisdom, of course, and I am working my way through the 2nd Chapter.  Not only have I seen that wisdom is something that I can't just gain, I must continually seek it (vs. 4).  It is a gift from God that should be valued as a treasure and will bring me joy (vs. 6, 10).  It will save me from evil (vs. 12).

There is so much to learn.

But today what struck me through many of these verses is that I will never arrive.  I will never have all the wisdom I could ever gain.  There is never an end to this search.  I must seek it continually.  I must keep checking to make sure I am on the path (vs. 20) to grow in it.  I must remain in it (vs. 21) and not be lead astray.

Now, one could find this discouraging, to never have an end to the goal.  But I find it exciting.  There is always more to learn; always a way to grow.  More to find and more to seek.  I will never have all the wisdom God has for me to gain, but I can try continually each and every day to get just a little bit closer.  I will never run out of things to learn.  He will never have a point where He doesn't have something to teach me. 

So many new and exciting things wait for me each and every day if I just continue to seek it out through the eyes and the knowledge of the One who created it all.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Listen and Remember

OK so I realize I already mentioned Proverbs 1:23 in one of my previous posts, but it jumped out at me again this time, too, so I figured I had better pay attention.

"Come and listen to my counsel.  I'll share my heart with you and make you wise." Now, this is wisdom speaking, so I am supposed to listen to any wisdom that comes my way.  Obviously, the most solid, truthful, tested and tried wisdom comes from God's Words so I think that is where I will start. 

Next in this chapter (vs.24 -25) say, "I called you so often, but you wouldn't come.  I reached out to you, but you paid no attention.  You ignored my advice and rejected the correction I offered."  These are the moments you just know that there is a Bible verse you should know to apply to your current situation, or one you would really like to pass on to someone in another type of situation.  I always feel so frustrated and upset with myself that I cannot remember the words I need to use or pass on or teach my kids.  Now, when you can somewhat think of those verses, it tells you that you have at least been paying a little bit of attention to God's wisdom.  But, I am thinking this is a great way for God to say, "Pay attention.  Learn and remember what I am saying to you in My Book."

Listen to His counsel.  Pay attention.  Remember.  Three things I need to take to heart.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Who You Talkin' To?

I have been reading through Proverbs over the last month or so.  Looking for wisdom, insight and direction.  But, I have been in such a hurry to find them, I think I missed most of what is actually there, so I am starting over.

I found myself going through Proverbs finding nuggets to use with my children on wisdom, hard work and discipline.  Good stuff.  Stuff they need to know and hear.  Stuff I need to teach them.  But I think in searching for things for my kids, I was missing the stuff for me.  How do I teach it to my children if I don't know it myself first?

I love how much they talk about fools in Proverbs.  Fools reject wisdom and discipline (1:7), fools are destroyed by their complacency (1:32), and much more to come.  And once again it is so easy to lump the "fools" onto someone else because I consider myself a pretty stand-up gal.  I love how my footnotes remind me that in fools, they do not mean stupid people, but people who have a character deficiency, many of which I can suffer from at certain times or in mood swings of my life. 

God reminds me that in my time with Him, when it is just us hanging out in His Word, He is speaking to me.  Not my children.  Not some random fool at whom I can point my finger.  Me and Him.  Read these words and learn these lessons for me.   Then, if needed I can pass them on to others.  But one cannot teach if one isn't willing to learn. 

Thursday, August 22, 2013

I Can Do Hard

I am been seriously bad at blogging this summer!  I have just been lazy.  I do my quiet times, but am too lazy to journal, which is sad because that is usually where I am able to process my thoughts and really see what God was saying to me through His Words that I just read.  So, consequently, I didn't gain too much from my quiet times this summer.  Sad.

But now, I have all my kids in school in the morning so I plan to take full advantage of the time to myself to spend more quality time for my quiet times instead of just sneaking it in when I can!  This is a part of this new season of life I think I am going to love!  However, I do miss my kids.

Anyway, I have had a rough week.  Took my baby to preschool.  Been struggling with my 5K times slowing down.  Had a really hard conversation with a friend and learned some things I don't know how to process. Can't seem to keep up on housework.  Frustrated that I haven't gotten any sub jobs yet (yes, I realize there has only been one week of school so far...).  It has just been one of those weeks where I can't seem to get ahead.

So, this conversation with my friend is really what has made my week pretty tough.  I have been doing a lot of praying and searching God's Word on how to handle all of it and was so thankful to have my dear friend and mentor help me think through some of it as well. 

I learned that someone I value has less than a stellar opinion of my work ethic and my dedication to a program that means a lot to me.  I have always felt that this person found me annoying and I was never on the top of their list, but to hear exactly what the issue was really hit me hard.

I have always been one to pour my heart into whatever I do, especially this area because it means so very much to me and feeds my soul in a way that no other thing can.  I figured out I value this person's opinion of me so highly because they play a key role in my ability to be able to be involved in this area and because they do such a great job at teaching me how to become better at it.

It is hard for me because I am not exactly sure where this opinion of me came from.  I know of one major incident that has occurred of which I tried to explain myself and apologized for.  I have prayed that God would show me where these thoughts might stem from and to show me if my dedication was truly in the wrong place (Psalm 139:23-24 Search me, O God, and know my anxious thoughts, see if there is any offensive way in me and lead me to the way of the everlasting.) 

I am certain that this person's thoughts of me are not completely unfounded.  I am sure I am at fault in the matter and could have handled some situations with more grace.  I am certain that some of these thoughts have stemmed from complete misunderstandings on both of our parts as well and somewhat wish I could discuss these things out with them, but am not sure I have the guts to do it (or the ability to do it rationally without crying the whole time).  But I am also certain that some of it stems from this person's not fully understanding my situation or remembering exactly what it was like to be in my shoes or ever even knowing.  I feel a little robbed of grace myself to some extent. 

There is no where to fully place the blame, and I am pretty sure doing so wouldn't do any good.  I think my biggest struggle is that I never had the chance to defend or explain myself and that is what keeps eating at my heart. 

The first time I sat down to "hash" this out with God, He gave me a ton of verses.

James 1:2-4 "Count it joy, my brothers, when you face trials of many kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.  And let steadfastness have its full effect that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing."  I have some growing and learning to do through this struggle and I know I will come out better on the other side.

Colossians 3:17 "Whatever you do or say, do it all in the name of the Lord, giving thanks to the Father through Him."  I think God was showing me with this verse that I value this person's opinion of me too highly.  If God wants to use me, He will.  I don't need to try and please someone to have the ability to use my talents for God.

Colossians 3:2 "Think about the things of heaven and not the things of the earth."  Focusing on this person's opinion of me will only rob me of the joy I have in Him and in my good relationships with so many others.

1 Peter 1:13 "Therefore, preparing your minds for action and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ."  God has given me all the grace I need and even an abundance.  I need to make sure to extend that grace to others.

Romans 12:1-2 "And so, dear brothers, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all He has done for you.  Let them be a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing in His sight.  Do not conform to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will come to know God's will for you, His pleasing and perfect will."  I need to make sure I have my heart in the right place.  I need to self-check my intentions, emotions, and actions.  They need to start only with Him.  I can't control anyone else, their opinion of me or my work ethic.  I need to be sure I know His will for me and focus on that.  I know where my heart is, and so does He.  That is all that matters.

Music is God's greatest way at getting through my head and I was so thankful when He gave me two songs at the end of a good (but slower than I wanted it to be) run the other day where I spent the entire 3 miles hashing through all of these things in my head.  "I Will Praise You in the Storm" Yes, this little setback is more like a rain shower than a storm, but I still need to praise Him through all of it.  And "He's Not Done With Me Yet".  Like I said, I do hold fault in this situation and am sure that God will help perfect me through what I am learning. 

Friday, August 2, 2013

Just When I Need The Answer

Well, its been summer, and I have been on a blogging hiatus obviously.  Thankfully, I have been reading my Bible more often than I have been blogging, but still not near as much as I should.

I decided I was losing motivation in reading due to the brain power it took to read through Revelations, so I decided to change gears for a while and finish the second half of Revelation at another time.

We are moving into a period of unknowns for our family right now.  We just sold our house, with plans to build a new one starting at the beginning of September.  Problem is, the new one won't be done until March or so and we have to be out of this one by the end of September.  We are unsure where we are going.

Secondly, I have 1 1/2 more weeks of being a daycare provider a few days a week and am going back to substitute teaching.  I am super sad to lose the kiddos I love so much, but super excited to get back into subbing.  I really loved it the year I did it when I was pregnant with my oldest.  But, that leaves an unknown of how busy I will stay and the income I will earn.  It is all dependent on the number of days I get called.

Thirdly, I will have all three kids in school at some part of the day this year.  My oldest in 2nd grade, middle one starts all day kindergarten and my baby will be in preschool for 4 mornings a week.  That will be a lot for this mama to take.  Thankfully, I have someone great to take care of my baby after preschool on days that I am working so that helps a ton, but it is a new thing for me as well.  Putting my kids in child care instead of being the one providing the care will be an adjustment.

Anyway, with all of these unknowns and the faith it will take to get through it all without pulling my hair out and bawling my eyes out is going to be monumental.  I am going to need as much time in His Word as I can muster and I am going to need His wisdom to make the right choices.  So, He led me to Proverbs: the book of wisdom.

Already, He is encouraging me to stay more consistent with my quiet times with Him.  1:23 says "Come and listen to my counsel.  I'll share my heart with you and make you wise."  2:1-5 says, "My child, listen to what I say, and treasure my commands.  Tune your ears to wisdom, and concentrate on understanding.  Cry out for insight, and ask for understanding,  Search for them as you would for silver; seek them like hidden treasures.  Then you will understand what it means to fear the Lord and you will gain the knowledge of God."

Exactly what I needed to hear.  Encouragement to be in His words and wisdom every day and moment I can and the reassurance that He will guide me and give me His wisdom in all the unknowns that lie ahead.

God.  Is. Good!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Not So Far From Stupid

Its one of those things that you look at from the outside and go, "Seriously?  How in the world do they not see how stupid they look? or how stupid they are being?"  Yes, I realize I could find a nicer word to use, but when it comes right down to it, that's just what it is.  Stupid.  We see things like it all the time out and about in this crazy world we live in.  People who are about to wipe out because they aren't paying attention.  People who make scenes in public places.  People who make questionable clothing choices.  And so on.

This thought came upon me again while reading on through Revelation and the seven trumpets.  You know, the plagues and all that yucky stuff.  Blood and locusts and falling stars and burning things.  Scary stuff.  Serious stuff.  Stuff that makes me think, "I am so glad I will not be around for this!"

At the end of the Sixth Trumpet John tells us, "The people who did not die in these plagues still refused to repent of their evil deeds and turn to God." (Rev. 9:20)  It goes on to list their many, terrible sins, and my mind immediately went, "Seriously?  How in the world do they no see how stupid they are?  How did they miss these obvious signs from God.  Could it be any more 'in their face'?"

But then the Holy Spirit threw in one of its "stop being so high and mighty on yourself" thoughts in my head.

It is so easy to judge from the outside.  "Why do people continue to smoke?  Don't they know it can kill them?"  "Why is she wearing that shirt that is obviously two sizes too small for her?"  "How can you not see God the seven trumpets' plagues?  Isn't it pretty obvious how powerful He is?"

We see these things and make our quick judgments, but fail to stop and think about other factors that might figure into the big picture.  Maybe someone they admired got them hooked on nicotine and now they don't have the resources or know how to kick the highly addictive habit?  Maybe she is a single mom who has put on some weight due to the high stress of supporting her family on her own and cannot afford to buy herself new clothes because her kids need them more? 

I can't really come up with a good explanation for the people who don't see God, but it has to be there.  And really, I know I have things that are pretty obvious, in-my-face, things that I know I should change in my life too.  But it is hard.  It is so hard to change things that you are used to doing.  It is hard to stop things that aren't good for you but you enjoy them anyway. 

The Holy Spirit opened my eyes.  I have things that I know I should change, things I pray about changing, things I want to change, but I continue on down the same road without changing them because the change is too hard or inconvenient, or it admits a weakness or failure.  Change that we know is best, but don't really want, is hard.

So, I find myself thinking, "I'm not that far from those stupid people who went through those plagues and still did not turn to God.  I'm just stupid in another way." 

We all fall short of the glory of God. (Rom 3:23)

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Mama's Mouth

I'm struggling here, folks.  Grumpiness has taken over.

Now, I have never been a super patient, always using soft tones, tolerant type of mom.  But lately things are getting a little ugly. 

How can I tell?  I hear it in my kids.  Ouch.

Yesterday, I sent a crew of them out on a scavenger hunt I had put together for them (Now, don't be impressed by this little activity.  It took all of 3 minutes to write down, explain and gather materials for.  All with the intention that they would be outside, occupied, away from me for at least half an hour).  It was a nice day so the doors and windows were open and I could hear most of their conversations and such.  All of a sudden I hear my oldest hollering at his sister and one of my daycare girls about how they weren't doing it the right way.

People, I tell you, he sounded just like me when I get short with my kids.  Lord, have mercy, it put a sword through my heart to have to go stop him and have a little conversation with him about why he shouldn't do that.  Talk about feeling like a hypocrite.  Cripes!

And today, we spent a long day at the YMCA for my daughter's gymnastics classes, so by the time we got home an hour past nap time, this mama was once again a growling bear, completely oblivious to the revelation I had just been given the day before.

I sat down and read a few verses in Revelation, when God started convicting me of my behavior once again.  So I decided to change gears for a bit and see what He had to tell me about yelling.

Knife.  Pain.  Need a change.

Luke 17:2 tells us "It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were cast into the sea than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin" and I am falling down that slippery slope.  Who cares about me right now, look at the junk I am teaching my kids and the ways I am causing them to slide as well.

My temper is short, my words are harsh, I am being selfish with my time and activities.  I have become a complacent mama with a mean mouth and I am starting to hear it coming from my littles as well. 

While, I might be slightly harsh on myself, I can't keep making excuses.  I need a change or my kids are going to remember nothing about their childhood except for the fact that mom was super fun and nice when things were good and easy, but when they weren't you better take cover. 

I have known these facts for long enough.  I was raised by a person just like this.  It is still how I see her today.  While I love her to death and am so very thankful for the sacrifices she made to raise me, she is very much a two sided person.  Super fun and sweet when the mood is right, but when it isn't, just steer clear.  I don't want to be this way.  Please don't let me be this way.  I don't want that for my kids.

I have wanted to change forever, but I just can't seem to get it done.  I do OK for a few days, but then seem to end up down the same path.  I can't do it.

I feel like the words to this song "Worn" (yes, another song, bear with me) are just what my heart is saying.

 I know I need
To lift my eyes up
But I'm too weak
Life just won't let up
And I know that You can give me rest
So I cry out with all that I have left

My prayers are wearing thin
I'm worn
Even before the day begins
I'm worn
I've lost my will to fight
I'm worn
So Heaven come and flood my eyes

Let me see redemption win
Let me know the struggle ends
That You can mend a heart that's frail and torn
I wanna know a song can rise
From the ashes of a broken life
And all that's dead inside can be reborn
‘Cause I'm worn

I'm too weak, too stuck in my ways to make this change.  It is just the same things, over and over again.  My temper snaps, my patience disappears and mean, mouthy mama, rears her ugly head.  I can't do it.

But God can. 

I am going to use His words.  I am going to plaster all the verses I found in my "yelling" search around my house to remind myself that God will get me through this. I can discipline my kids without shouting at them.  I can control a situation without getting out of control.  My kids will listen to me even if I am not yelling if I un-train them to only listen when I do.  God can train me.

So. Very. Hard.  But I must get better.  I don't want to be that mom.

Will you please pray for me?  I'll try to keep you updated on how things are going.

Here are some of the verses I found:

Proverbs 31:26
When she speaks her words are wise and she gives instructions with kindness.

Proverbs 15:1                    
A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

Ephesians 4:29                    
Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.

Ephesians 4:15                    
Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ,

Tuesday, June 4, 2013


Not many people probably think of Stevie Wonder when reading though Revelation, but chapter 6 and the beginning of 7 had me singing his 1970s hit "Signed, Sealed, Delivered."  If you haven't figured out by now, I am a music person, so music is the best way to get through my thick skull.

So, as I hummed the one line of the song I knew and I read all about the first six seals on the scroll and the 4 horsemen, the angels, the judgement, and the earth shaking, I realized the song had more to do with what I was reading than I originally thought.

OK, not so much the apocalypse part of it for me, but chapter seven goes on to talk about how those who belong to Christ will be sealed so that they are protected.  It made me wonder what the rest of the words to the song were, so I looked them up.  The first two stanzas aren't really good with my analogy so I started at the first chorus. (You'll have to trade the "baby" and "girl" for "Lord," but other than that it seems to work well.)

Here I am baby
Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I'm yours
(You got my future in your hands)
Here I am baby
Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I'm yours
(You got my future in your hands)
I've done a lot of foolish things
That I really didn't mean, didn't I?
Seen a lot of things in this old world

When I touch them, they mean nothing, girl

Oo, baby, here I am, signed, sealed, delivered, I'm yours!

Oowee baby, you set my soul on fire
That's why I know you're my heart's only desire
Now to explain, because you might be a little confused as to how in the world I got to this point.
Anyway, reading through all of these seals just had me singing the song since I was reading the word over and over.  But, really, I am signed; into his book of life.  I have accepted Him as my savior and He wrote my name down for eternity.  He has sealed me as one of His followers and I will be protected froon the day of judgement. I will be delivered to Him into eternity when He comes back for me or He takes me to be with Him.
This song works because He does hold my future, I want my soul to be on fire for Him, I want Him to be my heart's desire, and the things of this world do not pale in comparison to Him.  I want to wear His seal proudly so that I will be delivered someday into eternity.

Monday, June 3, 2013

When God Speaks

It happens more often than you'd think.  You know, those times when God gives you a direct and, actually, audible answer to what you have been praying for or working on?

One of those moments about brought me to my knees last night, and it certainly made my neighbors look at me a little weird.

I had just finished running.  I have been working on my 5K times lately.  I am trying to get it down below 27 minutes and it seems as if the best I can do is 27:15.  Last night I was just certain I would make it to my goal when I looked at my watch at mile 3, only .1 left to go, and only had 9 seconds or less to sprint it in order to make my goal.  Well, I am not Jackie Joyner-Kersee, so there was no way that was happening.  I finished with a even worse time of 27:24.  It would have been a bit faster but I kind of gave up the last 30 meters and just jogged it to the end because I knew I wasn't going to beat my time anyway.

I was pouting and kicking myself in my thoughts the last few meters of my run with things like, "I'm just not cut out for this stuff," "Why do I push myself this hard when it doesn't do any good?" and "Ugh, this sucks.  Why bother?"

While thinking all these 'lovely' thoughts to myself, "The Voice of Truth" started playing on my iPod.  I didn't hear the first part of it because I was too busy pouting and feeling sorry for myself.  But the second that I reached my 3.1 mile mark and stopped my watch the words coming through my earbuds stopped me in my tracks.  The amazing voices of Casting Crowns rang through to my very soul as I heard them relay a message straight from God.

"The waves are calling out my name and they laugh at me.
Reminding me of all the times I've tried before and failed.
The waves they keep on telling me
Time and time again. 'Boy, you'll never win!'
"You'll never win"

But the voice of truth tells me a different story
And the voice of truth says "Do not be afraid!"
And the voice of truth says "This is for My glory"
Out of all the voices calling out to me
I will choose to listen and believe the voice of truth"

I was telling myself I'd never win and reminding myself of all the times I had failed.  But God showed me this and told me to stop.  He told me to listen to Him and focus on Him rather than myself, to do it for His glory, not mine. 

I will choose to listen to His voice.  I will choose to believe Him.  I will choose to glorify Him.  This needs to be my focus, not a clock I am trying to beat so that I can look like a better runner.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

The Lion and The Lamb

It is one of those "churchy" things.  We talk about the Lion and the Lamb.  I wonder how many people really know what it actually means?

Most people know why we use the the Lamb analogy for Jesus as Him being the sacrificial Lamb, but I'm not sure the Lion part is as far spread.  From what I gather, the Lion part comes in as Christ becomes our protector, showing his power and authority.  Christ will become our Lion in these last of days that John is looking into here in Revelation.

I really like how when (Rev 5:5) John is told to look at the Lion, he turns and sees the Lamb.  One in the same.  And, really, those are two characteristics that only Christ can pull off in one body. 

So, no real deep thoughts, but I love to just sit and think about how my Jesus does both of these things for me so well.  He has it all covered and that is so reassuring.

Monday, May 20, 2013

What I Learned from the Seven Churches

I have been on another blogging hiatus lately.  Not sure what my deal is.  I have been getting my reading in pretty regularly and God has given me some good things to think on.  I just haven't felt like blogging it out.  Lazy much?  Guilty.

Anyway, I finished reading through what Jesus shares with John about the seven churches in Asia and really thought on a few key themes through all of them.

1. We all struggle with staying strong in the faith in some seasons of life in some way, shape or form.  It looked different in the each of the churches Christ addressed (losing love, tolerating compromise and immorality, being lukewarm, etc.), but they were all struggles and each of which we can still easily face today.

2. When we fall away, Christ does not turn his back on us but desperately wants us to return wholeheartedly to His love and faithfulness.   He forgives us and calls us to return to His side.

3.  Those who stay strong in the faith will be greatly rewarded in heaven and He notices each and every battle we fight for Him no matter how big or small.  He calls us to stay faithful and to continue to fight and promises the return for our love and trust in His plan will be more than we can imagine.

I was kind of kicking myself for being so lazy and not blogging more frequently as I read these verses and chapters, but now that I look back, I wonder if I would have found these very important similarities had I been trying to see each church individually?  Sometimes God teaches us great things even when we aren't feeling very teachable.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Losing the Love

I am plugging along in Revelation.  While I haven't had a bunch to write on in the last few days it has been nice to go through slowly, a few verses at a time and really take it all in on my own.  So far, so good.

The last couple days I have been reading on the first church Jesus talks to John about.  One of the seven gold lampstands.  The church in Ephesus.  While Christ has many good things to say about the church and its followers in Ephesus, he has one complaint as well; they have lost their first love.

It kind of made me think about marriage.  You know, getting out of that honeymoon stage.  At first it is all bliss and kisses and googley eyes and all that mushy stuff and then that passes and it is just life.  Sure, you still love each other, but some of the excitement has waned and life just takes over.  It takes more work to keep the excitement alive.

I think that is what is happening here in Ephesus.  At first they were all "Gung-ho" excited about the forgiveness and hope and love that Christ gives.  They were filled to the brim with wanting to share it and pass that love around, and then life continued and the enthusiasm dulled. 

The thing is, with Christ's love we can't lose our enthusiasm.  It is something we must always be so thrilled about having that it seeps out of us.  It takes work, just like it does to keep the love alive in a a marriage, but both are completely worth it.

What are some ways you work to keep your excitement alive in your relationship with Christ?

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Repainting the Mental Picture

When I picture Jesus in my thoughts I see a gentle man with soft eyes and hands, brown flowing hair, robes for his clothes and sandals on his feet.  I see what I have seen portrayed in hundreds of children's Bibles and books and paintings of the Last Supper and even on a crucifix. 

But, that was Jesus when he lived here on earth as a man.  While reading Revelation today, John described what Jesus looks like in His heavenly form.  Something, I can't even quite grasp.  And yet, when I think of all the word- illustrations John includes, I still see my gentle, loving Lord.

It is hard to re-evaluate what you have had stuck in your head since childhood, but it is true.  When we get to meet Him face to face, I am guessing He will not look like the man He was here on earth.  He is God.  John describes a man with white-like-snow hair, a long robe with a golden sash, His eyes as bright as fire flames, and His feet like polished bronze.  Definitely not the soft-skinned, gentle-eyed and robed man I envision on a daily basis. 

Secondly, it says that when He spoke his voice thundered like mighty ocean waves.  Yet another thing that doesn't match my mental perception.  Again, I hardly ever think of Christ raising His voice (except maybe that time he overturned all the tables in the temple courts).  And, yes, He may not be raising His voice, but mighty ocean waves are far from soft-spoken in my book.

The description of his mouth backs this up as well.  A sharp two-edged sword is used to depict what I understand as His tongue.  Which is a perfect picture of Hebrews 4:12  "For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart."

I think it is time I repaint the image in my head of Christ.  He has changed.  He no longer lives in His earthly body.  He is God and does not look like man.  I am going to try and carry this version of Him in my mind as I continue through the book of Revelation.  What a mighty and powerful Lord we have.

Monday, April 15, 2013

That About Sums it Up

God is indescribable, really.  There isn't a way you can really put His power and glory and might and love and everything else into words.  But I do have to say that Revelation 1:8 really does a pretty decent job and I think it is one that I need to remind myself of every day. 

"'I am the Alpha and the Omega - the beginning and the end,' says the Lord God. 'I am the one who is, who always was, and who is still to come - the Almighty One.'"

That He is and I am so thankful.  I also learned that Alpha and Omega are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet, hence the beginning and the end.  Sadly, I never knew that before but I am sure glad I do now.  I love learning when I am in the Bible.

Reminding yourself of these facts in any situation is sure to make you breathe easier. 

Friday, April 12, 2013

Rest In His Words

I am a bit overwhelmed this week. We are needing to move forward with some big MOPS decisions for our team next year, I am co-chairing the PTO carnival this Saturday, my grandmother is in the hospital in Omaha, I had to spend 3 hours at the Eye Dr. with one of my girls, my best friend was finally able to make it down to see me and hang out for the day, I am participating in an open house, I had to have a cavity filled, and I still need to find time to run.

To say I haven't found the time to sit down and read my Bible has been an understatement. But when looking at my to-do list just for today, God whispered to me, "make sure you spend time with Me." I knew it was true. There was no way I was going to plow through that list and my day today with 6 kids in my house without finding some rest in His arms and His Words.

While the words I read today may not be restful, they are perfect for reminding me why I need Him each and every day no matter how busy my schedule might be.

"Grace and peace to you from the one who is, who always was, and who is still to come; from the sevenfold Spirit before his throne; and from Jesus Christ. He is the faithful witness to these things, the first to rise from the dead, and the ruler of all the kings of the world. All glory to him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by shedding his blood for us. He has made us a Kingdom of priests for God his Father. All glory and power to him forever and ever! Amen." Rev. 1:4-6

Such powerful words that remind me of many, many things I always need to know: God is, was, and always will be; I have the Spirit within me; and Christ is the King who saved me.  It is all I need to sustain me.  It was just what I needed to hear to keep me moving and move I must.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Early Encouragement

As I continued to read the supplemental information in my Study Bible, I dove into the first few verses as well.  So far, so good.

But verse three made me smile.  God is rewarding me already for moving forward and not being intimidated by part of His Word that might be a little harder to understand. 

"God blesses the one who reads the words of this prophecy to the church, and He blesses all who listen to its message and obey what it says, for the time is near."

How can you listen and obey the message and reap its blessings if you don't even read it? 

I love how John instructs us to treat all of this information as it might happen any minute; "the time is near."  While, the time could still be 100's of years off, Christ made it clear that no one knows when that time will be and we must treat it as if "the time" could happen in the next hour.  For none of us want to be caught unprepared for the return of Christ. 

Revealing Revelations

It took a little while to convince myself I'd make it through, but I decided to do it.  I am going to continue on with my reading through the New Testament and read Revelation.  I do have to admit that I am a little intimidated.

Do you have any advice for me?  Any good supplemental reading things I should consider?

I have done a study on Heaven with one of the pastors at our church where we read a lot of Revelation.  I have read the Left Behind series, which, yes, is fiction, but still gives a somewhat visual presentation on a what it could be like.  I think I'll be OK to take it on.

But, my trepidations got me thinking?  Why do we let the Bible intimidate us?  Why do we think it is too much for us to be able to understand?  God gave us His Word to read and study and use in life.  He didn't say, "Use most of it," or "Use what you can understand." 

Romans 15:4 tells us, "For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope."

2 Timothy 3:16 also says, "For all scripture is God-breathed and useful for teaching, correcting, rebuking, and training in righteousness."

See?  No where in these verses does it say "some scripture" or  "the parts you understand easily", but ALL and EVERYTHING. 

So I am taking this as a leap of faith in my amazing God.  That He will reveal to me through His Holy Spirit what He intends for me to learn from reading through Revelations on my own. 

Hang on, it could take me a while, but I will make it and I can't wait to see what I will discover.  I started off just reading the introduction and background information last week.  I even learned new things there.  So I am excited to see what He has in store.

Monday, April 1, 2013

A Chocolate Covered Lesson

I have always said that if I didn't love chocolate so much I would be 10 lbs lighter.  I learned through this past Lenten season that this fact is definitely NOT true.

I gave up chocolate for Lent.  And, no, I am not a Catholic or a Lutheran or any denomination really, but I do really respect the idea of a Lenten fast.  Giving up something, making a small sacrifice to help identify with the sacrifice He made for me makes sense.  It serves as a daily reminder and another tool in living out Easter more than just one day.  I am not sure this is the entire idea behind the fast in the Catholic church, but it is the part I take and use as a lesson to myself every year.

In the past I have always given up something that I enjoy and I know would be something that would make me stop and think and pray everyday through not taking part in it.  I have done things like TV, soda, various foods and the Internet.  This year I took a big plunge and gave up my favorite food of all.  Chocolate.  Don't laugh, I have issues with chocolate.

If you laughed before, you'll be rolling now, but giving up chocolate has been the hardest thing I have ever sacrificed in all the years I have fasted.  I do actually eat and/or crave it on a daily basis.  So, every time I would have a craving for my favorite food, I would remember to pray and then find an alternative something to eat or drink.  But what I realized the night before Easter made me stop and praise Him for the very hard six weeks.

Nothing ever filled that craving.  I could eat any kind of sweets or drinks and I still wanted more.  I wanted something else.  I still craved chocolate.  Nothing ever filled the craving I had.  And on Saturday night, as I drove home from our Easter Cantata at church and wanted something sweet, I swung through DQ and picked up a banana cream pie blizzard.

It was delicious, but I stopped at a stop light and thought, "It may be good, but I still can't wait until I get to eat chocolate tomorrow.  Nothing is as good as the real thing." 

And then it hit me. 

That is exactly how it is with God.  We can spend our whole life searching for our identity, our calling, our purpose, what will make us happy or _______________ (fill in the blank for what you think might be missing), but what we are really craving is Him. 

He is what completes us. 

He is where we find contentment.

He is what fills that void we can't seem to fill with anything else.

Nothing else will do. 

Easter morning is what completed us, what gives us contentment, and what fills the void.  The cross is the bridge that connects us to Him and all these things.  Nothing can separate us from His love once we accept it in our hearts. He can do it all.  He really can.  There is no one, or no thing you will ever find here on earth that can do that for you. 

Not even chocolate.

It Doesn't End There

Thankfully, Isaiah goes on and helps rescue us from the guilt of our sin paid by the blood of Jesus.  "Yet when His life is made an offering for sin, He will have many descendants.  He will enjoy a long life, and the Lord's good plan will prosper in His hands.  When He sees all that is accomplished by His anguish, He will be satisfied." Is. 53:10b-11a

I may feel guilty that the fact I cannot remain sinless drove Jesus to the cross, but I can rejoice in the fact that I am loved and God is satisfied.  I can rejoice in Him.  I will be counted righteous through His sacrifice.  The end of Isaiah 53 paints such a picture of love and hope to follow the picture of pain and despair.  He is alive.  Praise God His love didn't end at the cross, but continued to the tomb and the resurrection.

And, yes, once again I was a blubbering mess during our Easter services this year.  I screech and squawk through the music because I want to sing with all that I am but the tears just get in the way.  But, I am going to rejoice in this fact.  I love what He has done for me so much that it moves me to tears.  And, like I said in my last post, this emotion should not just overtake me at Easter, but every single day because His forgiveness didn't end at Easter.  It is promised for us yesterday, today and forever.  Praise God.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

More than Easter

As I have been working through Isaiah 53 this week it has really hit me, "Why does this stuff cut me so deep mainly at Easter time?"  Now, don't get me wrong, there are many times I'm just singing along to a song in church or on the radio and it hits me in the gut.  Many times I'll just burst into tears singing along to the music and really thinking about what the words say.  Music is what gets me.

But it is at Easter where this is almost an everyday occurrence.  It is during this time that I can read scripture and be pierced to the very soul.  Why?  Why mostly now?  Doesn't it mean the same thing every single day?  Shouldn't it have the same effect on my heart every time I think of His sacrifice; His blood stained body; His brokenness?

I have really been thinking on this as I have read the words in Isaiah 53, "He was beaten so we could be whole, He was whipped so we could be healed (5b)..... No one cared that He died without descendants, that his life was cut short in midstream (8b)."  Heart wrenching words, condemnation and guilt.  What a weight to carry, to know He went through this for me.

But yet, most days, it is just something I take for granted.  It isn't something that makes me stop and really feel the weight of the grief and the gratefulness for the salvation every single day.  It is something I take for granted all to often.  This realization bothered me.  It is my new goal.  Every time I sit with Him in prayer or in His Word, or talk about Him with my kids, or thank Him for a small blessing, I am challenging myself to stop and really, truly feel the weight of His sacrifice and the weightlessness of His forgiveness and let it cut me to the core.  More than just at Easter. 

Do you do this too?  Is it easy for you to take this awesome gift for granted?  Do you have any tricks or triggers to help you remember to really take it all in; to let it effect you more deeply?

Monday, March 25, 2013

Prophesy and Falling in Love

Please pardon my absence for the last couple of weeks.  I really have been reading my Bible, but I have kind of slacked on my journaling.  Not sure why.  Just needed a break from my computer for a little bit I think.  But I always seem to get more out of what I read if I process through talking to someone about it, and since I don't have someone at my house to chat with (on an adult level that is) on a daily basis during my quiet times, typing it out on here pretending to talk to someone works.

So, after chatting with my friend last week on what I had been reading, she shared that she had just read Isaiah 53, which is a fabulous chapter of the Bible on the prophesy of Jesus.  I usually steer clear of Isaiah, minus some of my favorite verses and chapters, because it is mostly prophesy, aka confusing to me.  But 53 is pretty easy to break apart because we have the clear answers in the New Testament and since it is the week before Easter, I thought this chapter would be very fitting to read.

Hang in there.  Like I said, I am not much of one for figuring all this stuff out so I'll just be stumbling through.

I love the second part of verse 2:  There was nothing beautiful or majestic about His appearance, nothing to attract us to Him.  When you think about falling in love with someone, usually the first thing to happen is visual attraction.  Granted, this isn't always true, but for the most part it is pretty typical.  But, Isaiah tells us here that there was nothing to cause us to be attracted to Jesus initially.  He looked just like anyone else and didn't gain attention through His looks.  He gained attention by what He did.

We love Jesus because of what He did for us, the love He gave to us, and the hope He places in our hearts.  Oh, there are so many more reasons we love Jesus; His Word, His promise, His peace.  The list could go on and on.  But none of them have to do with anything on how He looks.  When your heart is so full of love from Him and for Him, He already is majestic and beautiful.  I can think of nothing more attractive than seeing His face on the day I join Him in glory.  Just the thought of it brings tears to my eyes. 

But thankfully, it is His love that attracts us to Him and not His looks because we all know how things end up when you base a relationship the other way around.  I am pretty sure I am nothing special to look at compared to the beautiful and majestic things He sees everyday, but He knows my heart and finds it beautiful as well.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Sucked In

Today Jude talks about teh dangers of fellowship with non-Christians, even those who attend church events.  He is talking about those who claim to be believers but abuse God's grace to let themselves believe they can do whatever they want and they will be forgiven for it. 

These people would still attend large dinners held before communions and turn them into big parties rather than a time of healthy fellowship.  Jude warns of the dangers that could come from being with these people, basically saying they could take you down with their sinking ship; suck you in to their dangerous way of life.

It is easy for us to get trapped in the same type of relationships today as well.  Perhaps parents of children in your kids' classes, people from your children's activities or even people at church who might not be saved.  They might be people we want to get to know better.  They might be people we find very fun and interesting and really want to be friends with.

The hard part comes when you like the people and want to spend time with them, but have to be careful on not getting sucked into the habits they might have that would not be pleasing to God.  However,  you can't completely ignore and not spend time with non-Christian friends.  If we lived like that, how would we ever further the kingdom.  So there is a fine line.  You must be alert and guard your heart around people who might 'suck you in' to bad practices.  Ask God to give you the strength needed to stay strong and be the example these friends might need in their lives.  Let Him use you as a life-style witness to them by your actions and loving heart.

It is a hard calling.  One that can get you mocked and teased because you refrain from things they might not see as a problem, but let them notice the difference and wonder what it is.  Hopefully, they will see the light that difference brings to your life and will give you the opportunity to share just what it is. 

Monday, March 11, 2013

Thinking on Grace

Last time, I posted on what Jude was telling his letter receivers in vs 4 about abusing the grace given to them by God, by thinking it was a "get out of jail free" card to do whatever they pleased.  Jude goes on to warn them about what has happened to others in the past with these very same thoughts.  People like Sodom and Gomorrah, fallen angels, and the unfaithful of Israel.  Not good things.

So it got me to thinking on grace.  Definitely something not to be taken for granted and there are so many ways that we all do it.  Sure, we might not be Sodom and Gomorrah, or in prison, or thieves, or fill in this blank with a terrible sin, but we all sin.  We all require grace and we all take it for granted. 

Perhaps, personally, we don't do anything quite as 'bad' as what Jude is addressing, but we do it nonetheless.  For example, speeding.  God asks us all to follow the laws set by our government and the speed limit is one of those laws.  However, most of us break it on a daily basis and don't think of it as any big deal, but it is truly sin.  How often to I take His grace for granted when I am driving?  Way too much, and this is just one small example.  Thankfully, I can confess my sins, and God who is faithful and just will forgive my sins and cleanse me from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).  But if I do not identify it as sin and keep on doing it, I am no better than those Jude is addressing.

On the flip side, we often discredit God's grace by not extending it to others and ourselves in a manner worthy of Christ.  This blog from Jen Hatmaker says it much more eloquently than I ever could, so I highly recommend checking it out.  Here are a few snippets just to share:

"More grace.

This just might heal the world, mend relationships, sooth our inner turmoil. It could grease the machine of humanity and keep it running rather than grinding to a halt, stalled out for lack of mercy. It reminds us we are brothers and sisters, not demigods over one another. It is the way Jesus came, and it is precisely what saved our souls."

"We will show grace to ourselves, because how dare we rob our transformed hearts of the mercy Jesus won for us already."

My friends, we need to honor Christ and the sacrifice He made to give us this grace by extending it to ourselves and others more freely.  We are such critics and grumps sometimes it is depressing.  He knew we would continue to screw up and need Him all the time.  It is why He reminded us in 2 Cor 12:9 “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

So use His amazing grace but don't abuse it.  Don't make grace a tool to fit your life when it suits you and ignored when you are having a bad day.  It is a gift from God (For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.  Eph 2:8).  It is not to be exploited when you want a free ticket and it isn't to be ignored when we really need it ourselves or to extend it to others.

Grace, if used in the way Christ intended, is a fabulous gift to give and receive.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The Importance of a Letter

Verse 3 of Jude tells us that Jude was originally planning on writing this letter about salvation to fellow believers, but after hearing news of an infiltration of ungodly people in the church he decided to write about defending the faith itself.

This fact got me thinking, "Why didn't he just write about both?"  Well, he might have eventually, but it was this letter that was inspired by God and chosen by Him to be included in the Bible.  In our day and age it is so easy to fire off a quick 'letter' and have it be received within seconds, if done by email and just a matter of days if done by postal services.  In Jude's day, I am guessing it took weeks and even months for letters to be delivered depending upon the distance they had to travel, so Jude had to carefully consider what topic needed to be addressed.

The importance of this letter is far-reaching.  If you read on, it talks about how many people in the church are claiming to be Christians, but living their lives however, they please.  They think that God's grace allows them to commit innumerable sins and they will just be ignored.  While God's grace does cover any sin and any number of sin, it is far from a "get out of jail free card" to give you an excuse to be able to commit the sin itself.  True forgiveness requires a repentance of the sin, and this is not how the people of the church Jude was addressing were living. 

This book speaks volumes about people who know the story of Christ and believe it to be true, but forget about the relationship with Christ that is required for true salvation.  In true salvation, the believer is so grateful for the sacrifice made, that it causes a life-change in the person who believes.

But it also gives me another thought to how I might continue to live in sin and take God's grace for granted in my own life.  While I may not commit sins easily identified by others I often sin in more "socially acceptable" ways, but to God they are still sin and seen just the same.  It is important that I identify these sins and do my best to repent of them and not go back so as to take the grace He has given me for granted.

Hmmm.  Looks like I'll be spending some time in prayer.  :)

I am looking forward to digging in a little farther to what Jude shares on this matter!

Friday, March 1, 2013

More and More

I finished up 3 John and am moving into Jude.  Yesterday I read up on what Jude is all about, who he is and all that jazz.  I am fully prepared for a "hellfire and brimstone" type of writing from Jude and it excites me.  I think I will thoroughly enjoy what I find in this book.

Starting off in the first few verses today I really enjoyed his wish for the readers of his letter.  Vs. 2 says "May God give you more and more mercy, peace and love.

More and more.  Not just give them to you, not just give you more, but give you more and more.  To me, this shows the importance of these attributes in Christian life.  From reading the overview of Jude, I find that he is all about living out the faith and keeping it strong, and these are the things he wishes for his readers.

Seems to me they might be kind of important.

Mercy:  compassionate or kindly forbearance shown toward an offender, an enemy, or other person in one's power, 2. the disposition to be compassionate or forbearing: an adversary wholly without mercy,  3.  the discretionary power of a judge to pardon someone or to mitigate punishment, 4. an act of kindness, compassion, or favor, 5. something that gives evidence of divine favor; blessing.

We could all use and give a little more mercy.

Peace: a state of mutual harmony between people or groups, especially in personal relations, 2. the normal freedom from civil commotion and violence of a community; public order and security, 3. cessation of or freedom from any strife or dissension.

We could all use and give a little more peace.

Love: a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person. 2. a feeling of warm personal attachment or deep affection, as for a parent, child, or friend.  3. a person toward whom love is felt; beloved person; sweetheart.

We could all use and give a little more love.

So may you have more and more of all these in your life today as well.

(definitions taken from

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Good Reviews

The verses I read today made me think of the saying, "Live your life in such a way that if anyone were to say something bad about you no one would believe it."

I love this and I want it to be true of me.  Now, it isn't to say that you have to live perfectly.  We all mess up, fall down and have to back up every now and then.  But it is how we deal with those times that shape who we really become.  If we own up to our mistakes and seek to learn from them, people respect that.  If we try to cover our tracks or claim perfection, people see that and know better.

John is talking about Demetrius and how everyone speaks highly of him and how it is the truth in 3 John 12. 

As Christians we are not living for the approval of other men.  We should only seek to please God.  But, frankly, if we truly live our lives to fully please God, men will speak highly of us as well.  There might be a few haters out there, but just as the saying goes, no one else will believe them.

And to be frank yet again, you can't gain followers of Christ by having a bad reputation among men, either.  You must first establish a good relationship with them before you are really going to have the opportunity to share Christ with them.  One of the most frequent things I hear from non-Christians as to why they don't want to be Christians is that most Christians are hypocrites.  We say one thing but live our lives a different way.  If we lived our lives following Christs' will and owning up to our mistakes, perhaps Christianity wouldn't look so contradicted. 

The Power of a Leader

from 2/20/13

A leader can be a powerful and useful person.  But leaders have to be careful. 

Reading in 3 John 9 he talks about Diotrephes, who is a leader in the church where Gaius lives.  Diotrephes "likes to be the leader", but evidently is kind of pushy.  It seems Diotrephes has led his fellow church-goers to believe that they should not help the traveling teachers and when John tried to write the church of his issue with this, Diotrephes evidently made sure it was ignored.

Diotrephes, may be a leader in the church, but he was playing for the wrong team.  He wanted the glory for himself and was dragging a whole congregation down with him, away from God's truth.

This is the power of a leader.  You can drag the followers down or help lift them up.  You can be good at leading and still be a bad leader.

I seem to be a natural leader myself.  Either that, or I am just a sucker who can't say no and gets roped into leading things.  Just the same, I enjoy the work, the friendships I make through it and bossing people around that actually listen, unlike my children.  But, I have to be careful too, or that last little remark could be true instead of just a funny (or lame attempt at funny) little joke.

You see, I tend to jump on bandwagons, get worked up pretty quickly, offended quickly and like to have things done the way I like them done.  God has shown me this over time and botched leadership positions from time to time.  I can get bossy, but people don't necessarily like to be bossed around.  I can get over excited about a little mishap and let my mouth get ahead of my thoughts, which I usually have to back track to try and fix.  But, thankfully, God uses these little blunders to help me do better next time.

Leaders have to be careful.  Leaders have to remember that while we may be leading a small flock here on earth we are only but followers of the Shepherd over all of us.  If we stray our flock from that Shepherd there are many lions and bears waiting to attack, but if we follow Him ourselves and listen to our Shepherd and flock, the flock will grow abundantly faith and productivity. 

Monday, February 18, 2013

A Part of the Field

Many times I look at missionaries and wish I could be one of them.  Many times I look at them and wonder how in the world they do it.  Many times I think there is no way I could ever make it work.  Many times I hunger to go see what it is really like outside of the comfy little world where I live.  Many times it scares the socks off of me to think of when I actually might be called to go.

I have never had the pleasure of going on any type of missions trip.  Growing up my church didn't do them and once I learned about them, I had small children who would make it very hard to leave.  Now, I just wonder when it will be my turn. 

As you can see, I have very mixed feelings on missions work.  On one side I stand awe-struck wondering at the way they must see God and how God uses them in such a direct and amazing way.  I want to be a part of that.  I want God to use me in that way.  I want to be challenged.  On the other side I am fear-struck as to how it would all work and how it might rock the cozy little bubble in which I currently reside.

Today I read a little farther in 3 John and was reminded that I don't have to be out in the missions field to be a part of it.  Verse 8 tells us, "So we ourselves should support them so we can be their partners as they teach the truth."  This shows me that I can be a partner in their work by things I do here.  I can pray for them, I can offer them hospitality when they come back to my area, I can help fund their work.  This may seem menial and it still keeps me in my 'bubble' but it is a very necessary and vital part of the missions field.

I no doubt have the feeling that God is preparing my heart for direct missions work in the future, but I can also feel he is telling me to not let the fact that it is not time for me to be out there right now bother me.  Sometimes I feel like it isn't enough.  That I don't really understand it all because I am in my bubble.  That I don't really matter.  But God is showing me here, that through my prayers, hospitality and financial help I am a partner with those who are out there. 

One day it will be my turn.  I have that desire and I know that God will use me in that way, but for now I need to be satisfied in the fact that I am following God's will for what He wants me to be doing right now.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

A Lost Art

Hospitality seems to be a thing of the past.  Today it is all about entertaining.  Truthfully, I think there is a big difference between the two.

I have probably blogged on this before, but I am too lazy to go back and check, and evidently God wants me to keep working on learning this one since it keeps coming up, so you get to hear about it again.

Although their definitions are about the same when you look them up in the dictionary, the heart of the person performing each task is quite different. 

Hospitality is "being faithful to God" (vs. 5) and "pleases God" (vs 6).  It is caring for and providing for those that need it.  It is welcoming them to make them feel loved and accepted.  Hospitality is showing Christ's love to others by things you can do for them.  It includes doing these things for friends and strangers.

Entertaining, however, seems to focus more on the host or the event itself rather than the guests.  It is providing a great environment and food.  Many times it is the host trying to show their best or a gathering of friends to celebrate a certain event. 

While entertaining is not bad in any way and can easily include hospitality, you can see how it differs from pure hospitality.

I love to have people over.  I love to celebrate events, I love to cook and I love to entertain.  God has really been showing me how to do these types of things out of hospitality and wanting please Him rather than just wanting to show off my cooking abilities and the fact that I actually cleaned my house to my friends.  He wants me to invite people over that I don't know well, just so I can get to know them better and make them feel welcome, whether I know the conversations will flow smoothly or not.  He wants me to make a simple meal so that I can focus on my guests' needs rather than what I am doing in my kitchen.  He wants me to to put me last and my guest first.  He wants it to be about showing His love through welcoming others into my home.

So, you can see how hospitality has become a lost art to entertaining.  What are some ways you tell the difference between the two?

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

No Greater Joy

3 John 1:4 "I could have not greater joy than to hear that my children are following in the truth."

This was the verse we chose for our youngest's dedication verse.  Truly, there could be nothing greater than to know that your children love Jesus and live their lives for Him.  It is really our ultimate goal as parents and it is amazing that God would use us to further His kingdom in such a way. 

But, here, obviously, John is not talking about his literal children.  He is simply talking of people that he has helped teach or lead to Christ.  While teaching our children about Jesus is an amazing task that brings great joy, I have to say that leading others to Christ is a tiny bit more thrilling. 

Don't get me wrong, if I want anyone to join me in heaven that glorious day, I want it to be my own kids, but in the same sense, they are my kids.  I know I have to minister to them.  I love sharing Jesus with them, and frankly, they don't really have any other choice at this point.  My kiddos are still little enough that whatever mommy and daddy say is the truth.  They haven't really gotten to the point of questioning higher thinking and all that jazz.  So, now it is just fun to fill their little heads with knowledge of Him.  Fun stories, amazing promises and a love beyond measure.  They are stuck with it every single day.  And I pray, every single day, that they will love it every day of their lives no matter how old they get.  But like I said, I am their mom, it is my job to do this, and a great job to have.

So, I find it more thrilling to have God use me in an eternal way to help Him lead someone to Christ outside of the confines of my family.  It is more challenging to find them, to reach them, to teach them and to really connect with them.  It is amazing to me to think that God would use me to do such a huge thing.  And frankly, there is no greater joy to find out that you were a tool in His plan to teach someone about Jesus. 

I found out not too long ago that God's leading me to start a Bible Study for young moms using Jen Hatmaker's book "A Modern Girl's Guide to Bible Study" was a big part in the process of leading at least two women to a real, personal relationship with Christ.  It was nothing I did.  I just followed His lead to set a time and date to meet and pass out the books.  He used it and now I can be sure to have two more amazing friends by my side in heaven.  No. Greater. Joy.

He also used me and two other girls as tools to lead another mom to ask about this personal relationship with Christ.  We held a Tea and Testimony night for MOPS a few months ago where three moms, including myself, shared our testimonies.  Through our stories of how we found Christ and a personal relationship with him, a mom who attended met with one of our mentor moms to find out more about Christ.  No. Greater. Joy.

Humbling.  There is no better word.  I am not special.  I talk too much and listen to little.  I am pushy and loud.  I hardly have any scripture memorized.  I yell at my kids too much.  I fail to get my quiet times done every day.  I am selfish and lazy.  But God used me.  He used me to further His Kingdom.  It makes me tear up just to think about it.  The joy that it brings to my heart to know that His Book of Life has grown by three because He used me cannot be put into words and it makes me hunger to be available for His use even more. 

So I pray:  Use me God.  How can I help further your kingdom now?  I want more because everyone should have this joy and promise in their hearts and lives.  Use me.  Give me that joy.