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It was date night and we were enjoying a peaceful dinner. A group, of probably college age girls, came and sat at the table right by ours. They had been taking pictures and were looking over their images. I heard all kinds of comments about what they saw as they looked at the screen. Their waitress approached the group and you could tell she was intimidated. These girls were all blond and confident. She had brown hair and was timid, not yet comfortable in her own skin. It was a quite a contrast.

IMG_1518I told my husband I wanted to go talk to the waitress. He asked what I would say? The first thought that came to my mind was, “you are enough”. I wanted to take her sweet little face in my hands, look beyond her glasses into her eyes and speak those words to her. I wanted to tell her that God created her to be her, not anyone else. Her hair color, eyes that needed glasses, the skin tone, all of it was done on purpose. She is an original design. She was created in the very image of God. “So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” (Genesis 1:27). Is that not such good news? When you look in the mirror, your image was created by God and you bear His likeness. It is also clear that it is He who makes male and female. He decides, we do not. This clearness is found on the first page of our Bible. Why do we debate?

Back to the precious waitress. My heart was immediately drawn to her because I saw myself at her age. I would have loved if someone would have been able to reach into my insecure world. However, I am not sure if I would have heard them. My defensive wall might have blocked truth. Wounds can create self protecting walls as fortified as Alcatraz. In our home, when wounds happen, I want to deal with them as soon as they become known. I want our kids to know home as a safe, loving and truth-telling place to land. When the wounds are a result of their sin, I find it best to deal with it sooner than later. You repent, ask God for forgiveness and turn in the opposite direction. Turn towards grace. Sometimes it is my sin that wounds our kids or maybe another kid at school. I do the same thing, then ask the wounded one for forgiveness. Saying I am sorry and asking to be forgiven get much easier the more you practice.

Also, the lies we tell ourselves have tremendous wall building power. Tell yourself enough of them and you have made yourself quite a defense. Add on to that the reality of living in a world full of us sinners and walls become normal. Ever met an angry, controlling or bitter person? Ask a few questions about their life and I bet you see wounds, that over time have become walls. Anger, control and bitterness become weapons to protect the wall fortified around their broken heart. I recently read a book by Corrie Ten Boom and she completely gave words to how I grew up feeling. She explained that hearts broken lead to feelings of insecurity. Goodness, that explains so much of my bent towards sin that gave me the false sense of security!

Our hearts are a precious space. How do we protect our hearts? Are we suppose to? We read in Proverbs 4:23, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” This explains so much. As I look at my own children, I see what gets to their heart and then what flows out. I have noticed that if too much time is spent isolated, on their phone, playing video games, being inside or if their schedule is too busy, they are different. A hardness is evident in their eyes and words. I recognize this and make corrections. My sister gave me the best compliment one time and it has stayed with me. She said, “You guard your kids hearts at all cost.”

Something very hard is allowing painful situations to shape their hearts. This is hard to see as loving, but it is necessary in my opinion. I use to jump in and rescue at the first upset. I did not want them to experience any kind of pain. To me it falls under part of the “Training up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6). By the way, I pray this over every child I know of that has been trained, but right now is away from the Lord. I ask the Lord for these children to come back. I ask that there be rejoicing around the table for the child who returns.

A great verse to remind ourselves of in the waiting is, “Behold the LORD’S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; nor His ear heavy that He cannot hear.” (Isaiah 59:1). We have a God who hears our cries for our children and has help in His hands. I like to remind the Lord of His words, promises I am counting on. “As for Me, says the LORD, ‘this is my covenant with them: My Spirit who is upon you, and My words which I have put in your mouth, shall not depart from the mouth of your descendants’ descendants’, says the LORD, from this time forevermore.” (Isaiah 59:21). So I will be encouraged as a mom that takes the time to teach our kids scriptures, God’s very words, that these life-giving words will not depart from them. These words are wisdom that direct them continually. They may forget for a season to whom they belong, but the Lord says they will come back and I will remind Him of that promise if that time ever comes.

So to all the parents with children far from the way they were trained and to the precious waitress who is someones child, I am praying for you. I pray that these children will have your eyes opened to how God sees them. I pray with this new sight your children will remember the way they were brought up and return, even today.

For the ones with children at home who are in the midst of training years, I have a great verse for us too. “Arise, cry out in the night, at the beginning of the watches; pour out your heart like water before the face of the Lord. Lift up your hands toward Him for the life of your young children.” (Lamentations 2:19). This is one of the reasons I get up early every morning. I have so much to learn from the Lord in training up what I have been entrusted with.  I have to know the Word in order to live and teach it. Being a mom is a huge responsibility, a privilege and one I am so thankful for. So be encouraged moms, the work of today has an impact on our children for the rest of their lives. Let’s get to it!

 

Wind and Waves

“And climbing out of the boat, Peter started walking on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the strength of the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’ Immediately Jesus reached out His hand, caught hold of him, and said to him, ‘You of little faith, why did you doubt?’ When they got into the boat, the wind ceased.” (Matthew 14:29-32)

2DFA9112-7566-4DC8-9B9A-EEE80C8BF0C4I read this passage this morning while overlooking the ocean. The wind is strong today and the waves are huge. These conditions made it very easy to put myself in Peter’s place. Would I have reacted the same? Do I react the same when circumstances seem scary and out of control? The answer is I am learning to react differently. In fact, I am learning to praise Him in the midst of the wind and huge waves. Sounds strange and not normal. The expected reaction should be panic and trying to figure a way out. However, this pattern leads to sinking and a figurative drowning in anxiety. Jesus calls this out in Peter as “little faith and doubt”.

Earlier, I read Paul David Tripp’s words, “Anxiety is God-forgetting”. Isn’t that a wonderful definition? He goes on to say “In all those moments when life is out of your control, it is not out of his control.” As Peter stepped out of the boat, his life was not under control, he literally was walking on water. He however was walking towards Jesus. But when he saw the reality around him, he begin to sink in fear. I love his response though, “…and beginning to sink he cried out…” (vs. 30). Peter cried out to the only One who could save him. Who do you cry out to when the waves and wind circumstances of life seem to surround you?

Look what happens next. “Immediately Jesus reached out His hand, caught hold of him…” (vs. 31). What I noticed this morning was that it never says that Jesus let go of Peter. It wasn’t until they got back into the boat that the sea calmed down. So the walk back to the boat held the same reality. What mattered was who was holding onto Peter. Do you trust that He holds you too?

Sometimes the response of Jesus in our situations does not feel like He has ahold of us at all.  I would ask, are we trusting only in what we can see? We read in 2 Corinthians 5:7,  “…for we walk by faith,not by sight.” Peter got out of the boat based on faith in Jesus, whom he could literally see. But seeing was not enough, his reality made him fearful. Like us, Peter forgot who he was walking towards. That is so easy to do, but we must cry out to our Savior. He may not calm the wind right away,  but I wholeheartedly believe He will never let you go. Waves and wind are much easier to walk on when you know He has ahold of you because He loves you. He proved this love for all of us on the cross. Cry out today and trust Him.

”When he calls out to me, I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble.” Psalm 91:15.

A Root Called Pride

I do not have to look far to see the deep root of pride that use to reside in my heart. The price I paid to keep my pride tended, was far greater than I ever dreamed. And the sad part is, I had no idea I was prideful. Sin has a deceptive side and blinds us spiritually.

IMG_0896C.S. Lewis says it best, “For pride is spiritual cancer; it eats up the very possibility of love, or contentment, or even common sense.” Isn’t that so good? Makes me think about the state our world is in. Wonder if our biggest problem is not our pride? Go with me a minute. Pride is the stronghold that makes us think and argue we know best. We could not be further from the truth. Left to our own reason, we fail miserably and leave a trail of destruction in our wake. Look at the mess we are in just as a nation. Our national debt is unbelievable. Killing babies is now legal. Marriage has been redefined. Let’s not forget that it is now up to you to decide if you are a boy or a girl. Little by little we have said God does not exist and we know better. We throw half truths of scripture around like confetti and think this is all perfectly okay. We even invite others to our parties with the lure of a place to be accepted. If you believe what God says is true, well you are close minded, unintelligent and lack tolerance. Oh, how blind we are to our pride.

When more shocking news is reported, I wonder how much more God is going to take? Open your Bibles and read what happened to other nations that went the way of pride. It does not end well. Do we really want to follow in their footsteps? Here is a strong warning that was true for the Israelites and it is true for us today. “Then it shall be, if you by any means forget the LORD your God, and follow other gods, and serve them and worship them, I testify against you this day that you shall surely perish. As the nations which the LORD destroys before you, so you shall perish, because you would not be obedient to the voice of the LORD your God.” (Deuteronomy 8:19-20). We can never say again that we did not know. God’s word is clear and we are as a nation disobeying. How much longer will He hold back from giving us what we deserve?

The children of Israel left a place of bondage and ended up in the wilderness for 40 years because of their prideful rebellion. I wonder how many of us call the wilderness our reality? I bet you feel alone, angry, afraid, unloved and like each day is without meaning. Pride has that affect on a heart. There is another way if you are willing. I pray the Holy Spirit touches your heart and begins to uproot pride. It is a painful process, but when you trust the One doing the work, you know it is done in love. Will you consider it today?

“Therefore know that the LORD your God, He is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and mercy for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commandments; and He repays those who hate Him to their face, to destroy them. He will not be slack with him who hates Him; He will repay him to his face.” (Deuteronomy 7:9-10). This is reality, this is truth. Please do not delay.

The God who is faithful, merciful and keeps His promises, sent His Son to die on the cross for the worlds sins. The price has been paid for our sin, our pride. There is no longer a reason for us to be separated from all our God has to offer, other than our pride. Take it from me, one sinner to another, He is worth it! Pride is a big liar and will ultimately lead to destruction. Is it worth it? The choice is yours. Life eternal with the God of the universe or life eternal in the never ending fire of hell and completely separated from God? I know this sounds harsh, but to not tell you the outcome is wrong. My insecurities could whisper, ” Hold back, you don’t want to offend anyone.” Or I could tell you the truth because my love for you is far greater than my concern over offending anyone. Remember that root of pride has been uprooted and I am wiling to offend to tell you the truth. It is the most loving thing I can do.

“…but because the LORD loves you, and because He would keep the oath which He swore to your fathers, the LORD brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you from the house of bondage…” (Deuteronomy 7:8). There is no freedom like the freedom like God offers! How about you join me today.

*Picture taken on the campus of Dallas Baptist University

What if…

Just typing the title causes a bit of hope to arise inside my heart. Does it you? “What if” and a blank space could be filled in any number of ways. Depending on how your mind works, this can also spark fear instead of hope. I get that,  I had lived that way for far too long. Something happened inside when the worst “what if” actually happened and now I know. I know what loss is and I walk differently now. I have said this before, but I pray you heard me say this is a positive thing. Hard? Absolutely. Did a new reality take time to adjust too? Yes, and at times I am still adjusting. However, good has come and for that I will look for more good and praise God for His blessings.

IMG_0143Driving home from school the other day,  a “what if” dream came out of my mouth. I have shared this dream with my husband because hope is safe with him.  This dream, in all practical purposes, will not happen. However, I told the kids about the dream and that this is what I am praying about. I trust the Lord to make it happen, if it is for our good and His glory. He is the only One that can. Their excitement was really fun! One began making plans, even though nothing has changed. I love the faith of children! This is something I will continue to fan into flame.

I wonder where we lose this kinda hope and faith? Some manage to hang on to it longer than others I guess. Depends on your growing up years maybe. I think it is time to take it back! I do not suggest we live in a careless way, but that our hearts change. Have you ever been around a hopeful person? Their joy is so obvious to anyone that spends a few minutes with them. I want to be this kind of wife, mom, daughter, relative, friend and servant. People are lost and hurting in this world. Some are trapped in hopelessness, fear, anger and sin. What can we do to shine a light into their dark space? Hold up the hope and faith that comes from knowing Jesus. Pray for this friend, share scripture, listen and at times, just sit and be quiet, but close.

What if you do know Jesus, but life has pretty much beat you back to dust? What now? How do you even begin to spark hope again? The only thing I can confidently share with you is what I have done. For me, I have reacted differently over time and I can say there is defiantly a better way! When news arrives I have a choice to make. Will I spin circles of worry and fear in my head or will I go the way I see modeled in the Bible? The choice is mine to make. Easy? No, but it is actually getting easier the more I turn to Christ.

I do not see life getting easier anytime soon, but my hope and faith are getting stronger every day. And when I search the scriptures for examples of people who have gone before us, I find encouragement, hope, strength, peace, joy and remarkable courage. I want this too! However, how will I know the Lord has put any of this in me if I do not have to put it into practice? It is one thing to say that I have faith and hope, but do I when life presses in? Am I able to stand in what feels like a fire with no exit in sight? If I am trusting in my own strength, I fall every time into a pit of panic. Does this change the circumstance? Absolutely not, and it makes for a miserable life. Inside and out I am a mess. I do not want to live this way. I want to live a life marked by hope and faith.

This desire is lived out all through the scriptures, but makes me wonder at the same time. What if Noah had said no to building the ark? What if Moses had not agreed to lead the Israelites out of Egypt?  What if Joshua had never gone to scout out the Promised Land? What if Ruth had decided to stay in Moab and not go with Naomi to Bethlehem? What if David had been content to continue to shepherd his father’s sheep and had turned down the Lord choosing him as king? What if Jonah had not gone to Nineveh after the whole fish incident? What if all the prophets had not spoken up and shared what the Lord had in store? What if Daniel had stopped praying and given into the order to only pray to King Darius? We can not forget Queen Esther going to King Ahasuerus to request that her people, the jews, be saved. She could have frozen in fear.

Need more examples? How about John the Baptist proclaiming the need to repent and that Jesus was on his way? What about the courage Mary demonstrated when the angel came to her and shared the plan to bring Jesus down to save us? Then there are the disciples that followed Jesus, learned from him and then shared the good news. So many people came to Jesus for healing while he was here. That had to take so much faith. Just because you hear that someone can do miracles, sometimes it is hard to believe he could do the same for you.

I wonder what the woman had heard in Mark 5, who had the issue of continuous bleeding for 12 years? “For she said, ‘If only I may touch his clothes, I shall be made well.” (Mark 5:28). This precious woman was healed immediately, all from one touch. I love the words Jesus speaks to her. “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace and be healed of your affliction.” (Mark 5:34). Did you know that when this took place, Jesus was actually on his way to a man named Jairus’ house to see about his daughter, who was sick. He was still speaking when word came that the little girl had died. Hear this next part! “As soon as Jesus heard the word that was spoken, he said…’Do not be afraid: only believe.” (Mark 5:36). He goes on to say, “The child is not dead, but sleeping.” (Mark 5:39). Jesus makes his way to the house. “Then he took the child by the hand, and said to her…’Little girl, I say to you, arise.” (Mark 5:41). The little girl happened to be 12 years old. She had been alive as long as the woman had been ill. Both were healed.

I do not know where your heart is with faith and hope, but I know the One who offers both. Maybe you, like me, need the reminder of what to do when life gets hard. I want to hear him call me daughter. I want to hear him tell me that my faith has healed whatever circumstance that I can not and to go in peace. I want him to take me by my hand and restore true life. Life is truly lived by placing your hand in his. I will never let go! There is so much of myself in these two interactions with Jesus. When this hit me years ago, I was changed forever. I will save that story for another day.

I pray your weekend is filled with faith and hope.

 

Our Hands

Have you ever shown up empty handed? If you would have known, you would have brought something, but you were not informed. I hate that feeling of not being prepared. This morning while reading the scriptures, I read two accounts of empty hands. Samuel was giving his final speech to the children of Israel and he asks several questions. He is asking if he has wronged, mistreated, bribed anyone. The people tell him no. “He said to them, ‘The LORD is a witness against you, and his anointed is a witness today that you haven’t found anything in my hand.” (1 Samuel 12:5). In Samuel’s case, being empty handed was a good thing. Could people say the same thing about us?

IMG_0748Another scripture paints a different picture. “He feeds on ashes. His deceived mind has led him astray, and he cannot rescue himself, or say, ‘Isn’t there a lie in my right hand?” (Isaiah 44:20). Sometimes our sin is so blinding and our hearts so deceitful that we cannot recognize the lie we hold so tightly too. One of the biggest lies I see our world clinging to today is the denial of God. Who created minds that can even think this thought?  Who set the stars in the sky? Who gave you the color of your eyes? Who gave dogs the ability to bark? Who taught birds to sing? Who came up with the colors of changing leaves? Who gave peaches such sweet juice? Something other than human hands created you, me and our world. Why is it so hard to believe?

“This is what the LORD, your Redeemer who formed you from the womb, says: I am the LORD, who made everything.” (Isaiah 44:24)

This is so simply stated, yet not accepted as truth today. Open up the scriptures and you will hear words of love, direction, peace, comfort, healing, joy, sorrow, purpose, eternal plans, hope, what is sin and the list could continue. If Bibles were placed in empty hands and read, maybe revival would be stirred. It is the Holy Spirit that works on hearts and the Bible was written by men, inspired by the Holy Spirit. “All scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16). It is  heartbreaking to see how little honor Bibles are given. We do not recognize what are hands are holding and therefore we go about living lives that are incomplete.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. All things were created through him, and apart from him not one thing was created that has been created. In him was life, and that life was the light of men.” (John 1:1-4). Keep reading to gain a bit more understanding. “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” (John 1:14). Jesus is the Word! Do you realize what this means? These 66 books, divided into 2 testaments, that in America we can easily obtain a copy, is life to us. Why do we want to deny life? True life is found ONLY in Jesus and the Word.

Pick up a copy of the scriptures for yourself. Stop going by what others post on social media and claim it as your truth. You are holding a lie and don’t even recognize it. Empty your hands of these lies and reach out for life. Honestly, nothing is more exciting to me than opening my Bible, but this was not always the case. My hands were filled with empty lies and I did not not even know it. It was not until my eyes were opened and I was grasping to find life, that the Bible became life to me.  Friend, He can do this for you too.

I challenge you to open up your Bible, pray and ask the Lord to show you life and get ready to know love. Hallmark has never written a card nor Hollywood made a movie that compares to the love found in the Bible. If you do not know where to start, I recommend the books of John and Psalms. If you have questions, pray and ask God to help you understand. He may lead you to someone who can help guide you. Ask me and if I do not know the answer, I will pray and find the answer for you. One of my favorite verses is, “For your faithful love guides me, and I live by your truth.” (Psalm 27:11). How does that sound?

 

*Picture is taken from my Bible:)

 

 

 

 

Unfailing

“What a person desires is unfailing love…” Proverbs 19:22

I read this verse a few mornings ago out of a devotional book by Beth Moore. I pondered these few words for quite sometime. Such a short, simple statement of truth, but it holds so much explanation and questions too. When was the last time you sat down and thought about the things you desire? I have often found that in hard times, to even think about desires is painful. Will I be disappointed again? What if my desire is not sinful, but did not get met? What if in fact, the very opposite happened? Have you been there too? Are you there now? It is hard to not lose hope.

IMG_0619Here is the thing, unfailing love is only found in One place. If every person desires unfailing love, regardless of race, male, female, age, single, married, divorced, widow, saved or unsaved, why are we not running to the Source? I wonder if it goes back to the loss of hope and disappoints that seem to be never ending?

If I look back to my high school and college years, I see a girl who desired to be a wife and a mom so bad, that I could barely focus on school. For as far back as I can remember, what I am doing right now, is all I have truly ever wanted to do. Now that this desire is a reality, what would happen if I placed this desire to be loved with an unfailing love on my family? My husband would have an unrealistic pressure placed on him and my kids would never feel like they were enough in my eyes. Sounds to me like the makings of a home based on how I was feeling at the moment. Feeling like I was loved with a God like love? Happy, peaceful wife and mom. Feeling unloved? Misery and chaos to all in my path.

What about this, we do not have to look far to see this desire of unfailing love trying to be met by a list of substitutes. Drugs, sex trafficking, alcohol abuse, teenage pregnancy, total gender confusion, homosexuality, debt and the list could go on and on. So many things that appear to offer unfailing love or at least numb the unmet desire, even for a short amount of time. What do we do when we are caught in the web of consequences these substitutes require us to eventually pay? Do we just keep going because to actually repent and turn from our sin could not be possible, could it? Could the God who created each of us, actually forgive each one of us? He might have sent His Son to die for others, but did He send Him to die for me? The answer is YES!!!

The choice is up to us. Keep running to things that will not satisfy and play it off as acceptance, open mindedness, our right, love and freedom. Heck, get a lot of people to join in your sin view and now you are justified. Make some t-shirts, dress alike, form clubs, get some laws passed and liberation surely will follow. Oh what a lie satan would have us believe! We have let him blind us long enough! It is time to wake up! Just because a group of people keep getting louder and push sin, does not change the unchangeable Word of God! Sin is still sin!

Our entire world is suffering because of the choices we make to meet our desire of unfailing love. When we face this reality and run to the creator of unfailing love, your heart is forever changed, not to mention your eternity. How about we put down the imitation and choose a treasure that is true love today? It is not too late. Maybe today could be your Valentines Day. He has given us a love letter, called the Bible, that will make life more exciting than you ever imagined and you will know a love that at times is unexplainable. This I will spend my life declaring over and over. Unfailing love is yours for the accepting today! Hope in His unfailing love and truly live.

“If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”

 

 

 

 

 

Clutter

My mind wondered a lot as I cleaned out our clutter. I am struck by the amount of stuff we accumulated over the years! The only thing that makes me feel a bit better is when my husband reminded me that we have lived in this house almost 10 years. Things do tend to pile up over time and it is time to let go.

IMG_0235The thought often occurs to me that clutter and sin have so much in common. I can only speak from my own experience, but as I go through all this excess, I see a pattern of what I was trying to find my worth in. If I could just get my outside right, maybe my inside would be accepted. Such a lie I believed. Letting the truth of Psalm 139:14 sink in has not been easy. This verse says this, “I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are your works, and that my soul knows very well.” I am God’s marvelous work, fearfully and wonderfully made and so are you. Is that what you think when you look in the mirror? Is this what we are telling our children, family, friends and strangers? What would happen if we all believed this truth, stated very plainly in the Bible? I have often lived like this applied to others, but not me.

If satan can get us to believe we are not of any value, then we will spend whatever it takes to buy our worth. When I see this lie being lived out in one of our kids, it causes such a reaction in my heart. I quickly tell them that this is a lie and replace it with truth. The latest name brand shirt, new car or beautiful makeup will not give you what your soul is longing for. Do not get me wrong, I like nice things and I wear plenty of makeup, but these things do not give me value. However, I sometimes forget and so do our kids. As I look at our world, I see so many kids unaware of who made them and the preciousness of their very existence. Heartbreaking.

Just yesterday morning, things did not go well for me as I got myself ready for church. My outward appearance was not what I had hoped and immediately thoughts of self condemnation came to mind. We headed into church and the first song we sang was “Who You Say I Am”, by Hillsong. Oh, how these words just washed over me and refocused my thoughts. “I am chosen, not forsaken, I am who you say I am. You are for me, not against me. I am who you say that I am.” Another line reminds us that if we are saved then, “Who the Son sets free, oh is free indeed. I’m a child of God, yes I am.” I needed the reminder of who God says I am and felt the dark cloud lift.

As our home becomes free of clutter, I pray my heart does too. I ask the Lord the same words as King David. “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my  anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 139:23-24). It is not easy and is at times painful, but I ask the Lord to show me my sin. I do not have any desire to “hide” anything from Him. My heart is open to Him and anything that does not need to be inside, needs to be removed. I cannot be completely filled with Him if my heart is cluttered with sin.

In my heart clean out, trash bags full of pride, doubt, envy and hopelessness, to name a few, have been taken out. This makes room for the fruits of the Spirit to grow. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” (Galatians 5:22). Just think what our homes would be like if we were all filled with these fruits! So many problems in our country would go away. This I am teaching to our children and in turn, will spill out onto those they come into contact with.

I pray that the Lord gives us open hearts and eyes to see where we have sin. May He shed light on our dark places. Lord, give us courage, endurance and love to stand for You in the midst of evil. Thank you for the reminder, “as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.” (Psalm 103:12). We do not have to live with hearts cluttered with sin that God wants to remove. Throw it out like the expired coupons in that junk drawer. It is worthless and taking up unnecessary space. Let God do a work in your heart and I promise you, you will never be the same!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dear God

Dear God,

Sometimes the events that happen in our country just make me weep. Other days I do not have to look past our town and what is happening breaks my heart. I can only imagine how you feel looking at what you created. You knew how accepting and so proud of sin we would become, but you made us anyway. You knew satan would lie, steal, deceive, take captive and confuse the very people you made in your image, but you created anyway. You knew the cost of our sin would cost you your son’s life, but you loved us that much to make us anyway. Why?

img_0504You knew that New York would pass a law to end lives of babies. How your heart must break. What do we do? It can no longer be said that we do not know that stopping a heart is murder, but selfishness blinds many. Will churches in New York step in and help these carriers of life? Maybe a home will be created for women to go and instead of ending a life, they will deliver the baby and put them up for adoption. Maybe this home will make adoptions as affordable as an abortion. We would be first in line to adopt!

What about this confusion of gender? How can we help? God, how can something so simple become something to argue over? How can we love people that the enemy is having such control over? These precious people were created by you. “So God created man in his own image; he created them in the image of God; he created them male and female.” (Genesis 1:27) Why do we fight the very image we were created in? What is so wrong with being who you were made to be? We might have bad days and how we look and feel is not what we want, but we have taken this too far. Perhaps evil has been allowed to be inflicted and now hiding as another sex feels safe. God, please help the hearts of these hurting people.

God, convict us before it is too late. May the words you gave us in your Word ring loud. “Who is it you have insulted and blasphemed? Against whom have you raised your voice and lifted your eyes in pride? Against the Holy One of Israel!” (2 Kings 19:22) This is what we have done against you God. Our world, countries, states, cities and homes are in rebellion against you and I am not exempt. Everyday I do things that are outside the lines you have drawn for me out of love. I rebel and my selfish heart thinks it knows better than you who made me. Lord, forgive me again.

Maybe siding with angry sinners seems like the better choice because we believe the lie that we have gone too far for you to love us. If this were the case, then your son would have died for nothing. Your Word is full of sinners that turned to you and you worked wonders in their lives. Why continue in anger, fear and rebellion? God, open hearts to who you are and how powerful your love is.

Your words in Isaiah give me such hope! “Come, let us settle this, says the LORD. Though your sins are scarlet, they will be as white as snow; though they are crimson red, they will be like wool. If you are willing and obedient…”. (Isaiah 1:18-19). God, this is my prayer tonight for our world. Stir in us this desire to be willing, obedient and washed clean. We have remained stained far to long. Eternity is at stake and you do not desire for anyone to live apart from you.

“O for the wonderful love He has promised, promised for you and me. Though we have sinned, He has mercy and pardon. Pardon for you and for me. Come home, come home. Ye who are weary, come home. Earnestly, tenderly Jesus is calling. Calling, “O sinner come home.” (Softly and Tenderly by Will L. Thompson)

I love you,

Natalie

 

Faith

We keep our Christmas cards in a basket and the kids pick one out each night for us to pray for that family. Last night, one of the kids picked a card out of the basket and I was surprised to see that it was one of our family cards from 2012. It was fun to look at the beautiful pictures of the kids and see how much everyone has changed. I opened up the card and read, “Wishing you the gift of faith and the blessing of hope.” Who knew it was me that would need more faith and hope in the following years. I was given the gift of both and I am thankful. It has not been easy and I have wanted to give up often, but God had another plan.

img_0449Yesterday morning, hours before opening that card, I had read Isaiah 7:9 that says, “If you do not stand firm in your faith, then you will not stand at all.” I also read in 1 Timothy 1:4 where it says, “…God’s plan, which operates by faith.” These two verses both have the common factor of faith. Sometimes it is not easy to have faith. Goodness, some might even ask what is faith? Look at Hebrews 11:1, “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” Faith is necessary for God’s plan and hope.

Can I ask you, where is it or who is it you are placing your hope? What are you standing on if it is not faith? Yesterday I read these words by Paul David Tripp, “Your life will be shaped by what you place your hope in.” This is such a true statement. For years I stood mostly on faith and hope in Christ, but I added other things in there that helped me feel worthy. And just like the Bible says, because my faith was not firm and my hope was misplaced, I began to fall.

Go back to the book of Isaiah and read chapter 42:8. “I am the LORD. That is my name and I will not give my glory to another or my praise to idols.” My sin problem did not go unnoticed by God and I am so thankful. He did not leave me to live any longer in this unbalanced state, with one foot in Christ and one foot in this world, that is so full of idols that promise worth. Freedom was found when my balancing act stopped working and I came to the end of myself. None of my go-to hopes were available and I was left with Jesus. Can I tell you that I have never been more full of love, joy, peace, freedom and faith than I am now. The emptying of self and worthless idols gave room for Him. Praise God!

The verse that follows, God clearly stating that He will not share His glory or praise, gives me tremendous hope. “The past events have indeed happened. Now I declare new events; I announce them to you before they occur.” (Isaiah 42:9). I acknowledge my sin. I repent of placing my hope and faith in all things other than the Lord. I have learned MANY lessons and know the lies the world flashes across our eyes and the whispers we hear in our ears, do not last. And now, I am more than ready to be told of “new events” and maybe you are too.

May the only One who came bring, plant and grow faith and hope remind you today of how much He loves you. And may new events be seen coming from His faithful, powerful hand.

*Picture by Corrimages

 

The Calm Home

Our new year is well underway and I have rediscovered something. Our family functions  so much better in an organized home. We waste less time, stress levels stay low and our home is calmer in general. When we know where to look for what we need and actually find it, a difference is felt. On the flip side, when we are headed out the door and expect our shoes to be in the cubbies and they are not, well stress rises. In our home, anger and frustration are the next emotions. Makes for a terrible start of the day. It does not have to be this way.

img_0324To go back to my childhood, I was raised in a very organized home. Everything had a place and you were expected to put your things back. It was a bit frustrating in my teenage years and college found me rebelling in this area. I piled clothes so high in my desk chair that I am surprised it did not break under the weight! Instead of not remaining diligent in putting things away, I became lazy and lacked self discipline. Looking back I can now see that this lack of self discipline or self control, spilled over in many areas, mainly my eating. Gracious, I put on so much weight! This did terrible things to my self image. Again, this did not have to happen.

I have no desire for my kids to have to experience this needless lifestyle, all because they lack self control. If that is instilled now in a healthy way, I pray they will not go down that road. Our home does not have a perfect feel, but more welcoming. It is not cold when you enter, but inviting. And other than the sheer number of people making noise, my hope is that it is a calm home. Chaos tends to make people feel uncomfortable and so does clutter. I do not desire anyone to experience that when they are a guest here and for that matter, any of us living here to live that way.

With all of these thoughts swirling around in my head, I decided to launch out and do something new. With the kids getting older and my time more free, I am launching a  new business. The name is The Calm Home and I am pretty excited! The plan is for me to go into peoples homes, look at the space that is causing them stress and organize it in a functional and stylish way. The other part is to help clients, who are ready to sell their home, stage it in a way that will appeal to buyers. Taking what comes easy to me and an eye for beauty, I am praying this is an opportunity to serve others.

I know I have said this before, but I get asked often how I am so calm with 7 kids. The answer remains the same, it is a choice. I can either choose to be calm or not. I can choose to have self control and not let my emotions of anger, frustration or whatever it may be, rule in the moment. This is only possible because the power of the Holy Spirit living inside of me. I want this for other people, especially moms!! So, that is the heart behind this new adventure.

Come check out the website and let me know what you think!

Website: http://www.thecalmhomefw.com