The Circle

My mornings start early and are routine. I wake up, get my coffee and settle in my chair for a long stay in God’s word. This is what fills me up to pour out during my day. I have tried only taking a few minutes and reading a quick devotional. That resulted in little to give and me relying on my own strength. I found myself with some patience, some kindness, easy judgement, selfishness, pride and insecurity. Sounds delightful, huh?Simply put, I need Jesus to remind me of who He is and therefore who I am. My family and those I encounter during the day count on it. I need the daily reminder of the Holy Spirit living inside of me that gives me power, love, wisdom and strength for the day. I can look back over the years and know that it was the Holy Spirit alive and active in me that carried me through some unbearable heartaches. I am so thankful.

IMG_0523Back to the morning times. Today started the same and it is always exciting to see what the Lord will reveal. I started in Nehemiah and immediately read, “So I said to them, ‘You see the trouble we are in. Jerusalem lies in ruins and its gates have been burned. Come, let’s rebuild Jerusalem’s wall…” (2:17). This book always gets me thinking about families today. Everywhere you look, ruins can be seen. Divorce, affairs, the redefining of marriage, kids in foster care, child abuse, abortion, abandonment and the list could go on and on. All of this can of course be traced back to the selfishness of sin, ultimately worshipping oneself over God. We are in trouble.

I then turned to 1 John 4 and began to read. (Once you start spending time with your Bible open, it is amazing how He directs you. Try it.) I read these words, “There is no fear in love; instead, perfect love drives out fear, because fear involves punishment. So the one who fears is not complete in love.” (4:18). When something isn’t complete, like a circle, there is an opening, a gap. If a wall goes around a city and a gate is missing, anything can come in. All that enters may not be good. How can we be complete and our “gates” closed? Love would be the answer. It does away with fear and punishment. Are you afraid? Then read the next verse, “We love because He first loved us.” (4:19). You see, He loved you first. Let that take some pressure off. You do not have to fear if He will love you. However, if you do not accept this gift of love, then by all means, you need to be fearful. What is waiting for you is not anything you can imagine. I love you too much not to warn you.

“The whole world is under the sway of the evil one.” (1 John 5:19). When Adam and Eve chose to sin, an opening in a sense was created and the evil one has been highly active ever since. There isn’t a person alive that has not been the victim of his sway. Because of the internet and social media, this is extremely evident. Evil has waltzed in and claimed so many victims. Broken people are everywhere and are trying to repair themselves in anyway possible. Sin is on display and all are invited to join in. The entrance is wide open and appears to be getting wider by the minute. Walk on in if you wish, but what satan will neglect to tell you is you will be trapped for all eternity if you have not accepted the gift of salvation, the gift of love.

“And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. The one who has the Son has life. The one who does not have the Son of God does not have life.” (1 John 5:11-12) Remain dead in your sin or come to life, it is up to you. “Everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved…” (Joel 2:32). The greatest act of love ever, was God sending His only Son to die on a cross to pay the price for the sin of the world. We have all heard John 3:16, “For God loved the world in this way: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.” However, you need to keep reading. “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him. Anyone who believes in Him is not condemned, but anyone who does not believe is already condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the one and only Son of God.” (John 3:17-18).

I recently listened to a teaching and heard the question being asked if we believe if Jesus died for me, not just the whole world, but for me. Do you? It will make all the difference in your life, your family and eternity. Everything is not always easy, but you are never alone and can trust the One who loves you more than you can ever imagine.

It is your choice. We are in a state of ruin and there is only one answer. There is only one Savior who can close the gate and make us complete. You can say yes to the greatest love of your life today! Simply believe in the God who created you and gave you the freedom to chose life or death. You are free to remain dead in your sin or alive in Christ. Love and peace or fear. Confess that you are caught in the sway of the devil and sin reins in your life. Ask the God who loves you to forgive you. Now open your Bible and read the best love story ever written. He loves you so much! Your Heavenly Father is longing to have you home. You are safe in His arms.

*I took this picture today of Viv and Damon watching the football game.

 

Vivian

And now it is Vivian’s turn to be celebrated! She turned 5 this week and I find it unbelievable that we are here already. Time has passed quickly and she has grown up. There isn’t much she cannot do by herself and she even helps the older kids. She is very much into all things girly, but can hold her own in a sword fight. It is very rare for her to leave home without lipgloss and I love it. She is very vocal on not liking to be rushed and expects me to plan my time better so this will not be the case. It has actually helped me manage my time more efficiently.

IMG_0450She lived out a lesson this week and I will share it with you. While I was applying my own lipgloss and more, she wanted to watch a cute cartoon called “Fancy Nancy”. I see lots of similarities between the two. After it was over, she brought me 3 options for her to wear. Each was more suited for a ball than Walmart. I thought this, but then just as quickly wondered why it mattered. The days of dress up are fleeting, so I think they need to be enjoyed now. She wore her fancy dress and literally twirled her way through most of Walmart, receiving numerous compliments. I do not think the thought has ever crossed her mind that this is not normal.

What occurred to me was that she put fancy images before her eyes for 30 minutes and then reflected this in her appearance and behavior. We might be way older than 5 years old, but do we not do the same? We spend our time on pure truth in God’s word or we get our “truth” from say the news. Does this have a direct impact on our thoughts, words and actions? You bet it does. It is my conviction, as a parent, to guard what goes before my kids eyes and in their ears. It has a direct impact on their hearts, minds and actions. In fact, Proverbs 62:8 says, “…he taught me and said to me, ‘Let your heart hold fast my words; keep my commandments and live.” One of my main jobs as a parent is to teach my kids God’s word and His commandments. This takes time, being present and knowing the word for myself. However, they know and are shown that they are loved by us and by God, so that makes learning, trusting and obeying a bit easier.

This is just one example from the life of Vivian. She is brave, kind and often shy. She laughs easy and has an incredible vocabulary. She has a temper that flares and a heart that loves to serve. She gives hugs and kisses in abundance. She is independent and determined. She has style and grace. Her ballet moves are quite impressive and she can run extremely fast. She is being molded into who God designed her to be and it is beautiful.

Vivian, I love you and am amazed by you!

Paxton

Another child was celebrated this past week and it was so much fun! We give the kids a few options in how they want their birthdays to go and Paxton chose my favorite. We take them out all by themselves. They pick the restaurant and stores to spend their money. To just have one on one time is rare in our family, so that makes it special. They have our undivided attention and this kid took full advantage. He really is a lot of fun.

IMG_0307So much could be written about Paxton. The things he says and does are remarkable. When he disobeys, it actually is a bit shocking. His heart just seems to be bent towards obedience and others. He is the kid that forgave a bully, multiple times and then wanted to include him. He is the kid who wanted to take his brothers place when he was going to be punished. He is the kid that holds the door for ladies. He is the kid who does not hesitate to stand in front of a crowd and pray. His heart will be burdened for someone and will not stop praying until an answer comes.

His favorite stories in the Bible are when David fought Goliath and the end stories in Revelation. He is pretty excited about a new Heaven and a new Earth. It is in these choices that I see even more of his heart. I see him a bit like David, “of whom he testified and said, ‘I have found in David the son of Jesse a man after my heart, who will do all my will.” (Acts 13:22). It is when this started coming to light, that I started searching for books on how people who lived mighty lives for God were raised. Specifically, I looked mainly at Billy Graham. His mother played a huge role in shaping the obedient and available person he became.

You just never know who sits around your table. Any parent might be the one raising the next President of the United States. Another, the one who leads a nation to repentance. Maybe even one who does incredible military exploits, that saves the masses from destruction. Who knows? I have no idea what this child will become, but I trust the One who created him. It is my job to raise him to teach him this. It is my conviction that he needs to be pointed to truth. He needs to read and hear scripture that backs this up. He needs to know, “For by Him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities – all things were created through Him for Him.” (Colossians 1:16). Also, read in Isaiah 43:7 “…everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.” That is who we are and the reason we were made. And I will spend all my days showing, telling and teaching him that is who he is – made by God for His glory.

Happy Birthday Paxton! I love you so much!

“Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things and by your will they existed and were created.” Revelation 4:11

 

 

Always Listening

You need to know this one thing about me, I hear really well. Just a few weeks ago, we were having lunch and I overheard the conversation next to me. It was amazing! The man sharing was talking about coming together with over 200 people from different nations, each in repentance over what happened to the Jewish people. As he stood to leave, I told him that I had heard his conversation. I apologized and told him I would have made an excellent spy. However, I encouraged him and said that I thought the gathering of repentance was remarkable. He shared a bit more and went on his way.

IMG_0273I overheard more words today in church. The thought struck me again of how timing and choices, even where we sit, matters. Because if we had been running late and sat in a different spot, I would have missed whispered words. In the missing, I would have missed a blessing. It is not something I worry about. I just want to be led in the everyday to where God would have me, even in where we sit.

Our pastor was teaching from the book of Numbers and we heard about the poisonous snakes biting the Israelites. The people had once again been speaking against God and Moses. God is the best overhearer of words, both the spoken and the thought. Because of the complaining, death came to the people by way of snakes. A lesson is to be learned by us here as well.

“The people came to Moses and said, “We have sinned by speaking against the LORD and against you. Intercede with the LORD so that he will take the snakes away from us.” And Moses interceded for the people.” (Numbers 21:7). Sometimes it takes extreme circumstances for us to realize our sin and ask for the LORD to save us. Goodness, I have so often come to the end of myself, my failing efforts, with no way out, and asked the LORD to save me. Have you been in this place before too? It is quite humbling.

“Then the LORD said to Moses, “Make a snake image and mount it on a pole. When anyone who is bitten looks at it, he will recover.” So Moses made a bronze snake and mounted it on a pole. Whenever someone was bitten, and he looked at the bronze snake, he recovered.” (Numbers 21:8-9). Do you notice here that God did not take the snakes away like the people requested, but provided healing instead? So often I have asked God to take something hard away, but He leaves it and provides healing instead. It is only when I look to Him is this healing found. Nothing in the world can take His place.

Our pastor said that the number of Israelites probably covered like 12 square miles and the bitten people would have to make their way to the center of the camp to see the pole. It was then I overheard the words spoken behind me. A man said, “I would have run!” When you know where healing can be found, shouldn’t our response always be to run to it? For some reason, we so often try everything else but running to the only One who eternally heals. In our desperation, we instead exhaust ourselves with worldly bandaids that temporarily take our minds off of the poison of sin filling our hearts. This state of sin is much more deadly than a snake bite.

Our pastor also told us about the painful poison of the snakes that are common to the area the Israelites traveled. Sin too can be very painful to us and to those around us. Ever know someone whose selfishness causes great pain to those that love them? What about a bitter person and the words that fly from their heart? How about angry or prideful people? Then there are those of us that try and control anyone and everything because of the fear of not being enough and therefore not being loved. I wish I were only typing words that I had overheard people say, not from actually living them. Seems like we are all a bunch of snakebitten people in great need of healing.

It is just like our great God to provide true recovery. Our pastor used the verse from John 3:14-15 that says, “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him may have eternal life.” And there is our healing, our only true, eternal healing. Have you believed in Him yet and received healing? Today would be a good day. If you have looked to Jesus and received healing, why are we not telling everyone we know, all the bitten people we come in contact with, where they too can find healing? Just something to think about as we start a new week.

*If you want to listen to todays sermon, just go to https://www.ccbcfamily.org

*We do not own a pole with a bronze snake, so a boy and his sword was substituted.

 

Thankful

Months ago a friend of over 20 years and I had lunch together. Time with this dear woman is precious. She loves Jesus wholeheartedly and desires this same love for her family. Actually, it was her and her husband that did our premarital counseling. We greatly admired them then and even more so now, as the years have passed. I think it is very beneficial to have friends that are older, further down the road. So much can be learned from their hard earned wisdom.

IMG_0024Back to our lunch. I was sharing with her some hard things and she spoke words that I will never forget. When I read these same words from a writer today, I knew it needed to be spoken of. Her words were, “Have no expectations”. What??! That just did not make sense to me. I have always had expectations. Always. Holidays, jobs, meals, relationships, gifts, stores I visit, books I read, and the list could go on, has had my expectations placed on them. Some are not very high, but there none the less. Often I am left disappointed and in the rare case, surprised. My imagination is pretty active and I create how things will play out quickly in my mind. This is not always good. Just thinking about this makes me feel sad and I know I need to repent. People and things simply cannot live up to expectations. Perfection from anyone else other than God is not possible. I’ve typed words on this before.

With tomorrow being Thanksgiving, I do not want to go into the day with expectations. In fact, I already know it will not look normal at all. My dad usually flies in to celebrate with us, but illness keeps him at home this year. So it will just be our family around the table. I want to look at the people the Lord has placed in each chair and be thankful. This will be our first Thanksgiving where expectations will be thrown out along with that weird bag of stuff inside the turkey!

Could your Thanksgiving use a removal of expectations too? Could you show up to the table just seeing each person as someone God created? So much time is wasted on unmet expectations. I know this to be true. When family members are missing this really sinks in. So let’s decide tonight, as we prep for tomorrow, no expectations. Let the silly things go and extend forgiveness, for it sets us free. You are not in control of others behavior, but you are in control of yours. Begin your day feasting on God’s word and your heart will be basted in truth. Take control of your thoughts and make sure they are honorable. The Lord knows anyways, you hide nothing from Him. Keep words that are not loving from leaving your mouth. Fill it with good food instead. The person sitting next to you will be grateful. Basically, it all comes down to dying to yourself and living for Him.

May the Thanksgiving of 2018 be our best one yet!

 

The One and Only Eli

I have never met a child quite like our Eli. He is extremely unique and just when I think I have him figured out, he does something new. He just turned seven and in celebrating him, his uniqueness was very evident. He likes to keep things simple, very different from some of our other kids. He made a short list of gifts and asked for a chocolate cake with blue icing. The candles were important and specific in how they were to be arranged. All of those details were taken care of and he loved it! Once the presents were open, candles blown out and the cake eaten, he was perfectly content to get back to normal. Most of our other kids like to have long, drawn out celebrations.

IMG_0013As his mom, I could honestly celebrate him each day because of all the Lord has used Eli to teach and heal me. Even my getting pregnant with him turned out completely different than I had planned. My mom had just been told that her cancer had spread and in my quick planning, stem cells could be used from the umbilical cord to help treat her. Problem solved. I would have a baby and my mom would be healed. That is not the story the Lord wrote. The pregnancy was hard and my mom died before Eli was actually born. Not long after he was born, the nurse rushed him to the NICU because something was not right with his heart, but after a few hours all was well. The plan the Lord had was that much of my healing would come from raising this child. My mom received the ultimate healing and now lives with our Lord Jesus. I have confidence that I will see her again!

With him being our sixth child, I really thought I pretty much knew everything. Oh, how the Lord used this special fella to humble me. I am so grateful! Who likes a know it all anyways? An early example was that I had always had my mom with me minutes after the other five babies were born. This time the Lord gave me a precious nurse who went over and above her job. She prayed over Eli and blessed me tremendously. In my moms absence, the Lord humbled me in the sense that my normal was changed and I had to look to Him to provide. I should have already been doing this, but when you are short on needs, this is easy to forget. Everything looked different, but I knew I was cared for and seen by God. Friends brought meals and filled in places where my mom would have normally served our family. Not the same, but a blessing none the less.

As Eli started growing up and his personality was in full swing, I knew I was in over my head. He did not behave like the other kids and really did not seem to care. Oh, the looks our family received! I have been guilty of casting those eyes of judgment myself onto other moms with kids that did not act just so. It is quite humbling to have those eyes turned on you. The Lord used his behavior to help remove the need to appear close to perfect. Eli blew the cover right off my neatly contained life and I have not been the same sense.

Now that he has gotten a little bit older, a lot of the hard things have been worked out. His personality is still strong, but goodness he is fun. He never meets a stranger and makes people smile often. I like to walk a few steps behind him, just to see what he will say as others pass by and their reaction. The stories I could tell would fill a book and have you laughing for days. He loves people with different colors of hair and has quite a thing for ladies with tattoos. He has eyes for those on the outside and has a way to draw them in and make them feel noticed. I love this about him.

Lately I have noticed that when class pictures are taken, he does something to stand out. Not for attention, but what appears to be joy. He has fun wherever he goes and others can join him or not. One time he was pretty disrespectful to his dad. He said, “You are the lamest dad ever.” My husband corrected him and asked, “What if I told you, you were the lamest kid ever. Wouldn’t that hurt your feelings?” Eli replied, “I don’t really care what other people think of me.” Not the response expected, but a true statement.

He often takes me aside to share his heart and has insight more like a 70 year old. I am often amazed and encouraged. He draws me pictures, makes up songs and gives the best compliments. If you are feeling a bit low, just find this kid.

So Eli, I am thankful for who you are and the unique way the Lord is using you. The line often used about “God not giving you more than you can handle” is simply not found in the Bible. And you are proof of that. In God giving me you, I was not equipped, but He has done a miracle. He has given me insight, joy, patience, kindness, humility and so much more. In the gift of Eli, I have been given love. Thank you Jesus!

Eli, I love you.

“Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” (2 Corinthians 9:15 NIV)

 

Seventeen

Our oldest turned 17 yesterday and that number still has not settled in my head, much less my heart. Were you not just 17 minutes old and being shown off to waiting grandparents? Now I send pictures and texts to show you off. However, these snapshots and short words just cannot capture who you are becoming. I will try here with a bit more space to describe this child.

IMG_6587I learned the most interesting news yesterday about this 17 year old. She always leaves for school pretty early. I just assumed it was to grab coffee and then met up with friends. Sometimes a coffee stop happens too, but the main reason is so she can sit with her Bible open in her car before walking into school. She fills her mind with truth and reads words written by her Creator. Her eyes are fixed on Jesus before she walks the halls and faces distraction. Her security of who she is and to whom she belongs is firmly in place as she hears other voices saying “try this”, “why not be this” and “perhaps truth is whatever you want it to be”.

How did this happen? How does a girl, going to a public high school, walk day in and day out in love with Jesus? Would she not have a better chance at a Christian school? Well, maybe yes and maybe no. The primary location this love starts is in her heart. As her parents, we have taken her to church, talked about Jesus, read the Bible together and we pray continually for her. But the decision to follow Him is ultimately up to her. Just because we have surrendered and fallen in love with God, does not mean our children will do the same. I fight for their hearts to be aimed towards Him each and everyday. How I do that is by reading God’s word, praying and talking about Him.

You know, you cannot give what you do not have. If you do not have a deep belief and love for the LORD, you cannot pour that belief, which looks an awful lot like trust, and love out onto your children. Your life does not bear the fruit the Bible talks about. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control…”. (Galatians 5:22-23). Simply put, our efforts fail when we try and parent on our own. I know this because I tried to parent this way with just enough Jesus and my own common sense. This worked okay until we had our sixth child and none of my go to, I’ve got this stuff was working. I could not be more thankful!

The mom I was 17 years ago is not the mom I am today. In God’s love and mercy, He uses each of my children to pull me close. Sometimes I wonder why it took me so long to get over myself, but even in that I see grace. He has been so patient, loving, kind, faithful and good to me. Evidence of that was on display yesterday with this 17 year old child. You know how she spent her birthday? Her and her brother went to a night of worship with high schoolers from our church. They packed the place out and sang songs of adoration to God. The glow of love they came home wearing on their faces is indescribable.

I will never claim to have all the answers or to have this parenting thing figured out, but I do know and love the One who does. I will claim to be one sinner, coming alongside 8 other sinners in our home. We respectively point out sin to each other, not always perfectly. We repent of our sin and ask forgiveness. We love each other and show grace often. We laugh and actually like spending time together. We love celebrating and count it a privilege to celebrate this 17 year old.

Happy Birthday Maggie! Your love for Jesus is absolutely stunning!

Why Keep Walking

Because we live in Texas and a caravan of people are walking towards our southern border, I feel the need to type out a few words. I would love a few hours with moms from this group. What are they leaving behind? What has them leaving their homes? What do they think awaits them here? What is it like traveling on foot, thousands of miles with kids? How did you pack for this journey? Back home, what did you cook for dinner? These are just a few things I would ask them. I wonder what their responses would be? I wonder how this is all going to play out?

IMG_9844There is so much opinion flying over social media and the news in regards to these people, these people made by God. Some of these travelers might have evil in mind and some might just want a different life. What will they find here? Will life look that much different for them or for us? Do we stop them or do we say welcome? So many questions and not a lot of answers.

There is so many great things about our country, but it is very divided right now. Do they want to enter into more conflict here? Do they want to come to a land where they are seen as people, but if they happen to be an unborn baby, well that is a different story. Killing them is a mere procedure. Hate is blasted here, but so is love. However, sometimes it is misinterpreted and is actually sin. I will let the Lord lead you on that one. Do they want to come to a nation that is so mixed up on the simplest thing, like gender? You were either created by God to be a boy or a girl. Period. Yes, we are a mixed up land.

Could another option be to help them make their countries better? Maybe we could actually place value on human life and help them earn a decent amount of money for their daily work. Perhaps all countries could benefit when greed is cast aside and a person becomes valuable at all stages. I wonder what talents the people walking have? I bet there are some creative, smart and hard working people coming this way. Will their countries suffer because they are not there?

Will they find basic needs met here? We cannot feed all the people that already live here, how do we add more? Will their helplessness and out of desperation, make them easy targets for human trafficking? Any amount of provision, regardless of the cost to themselves, is better than none right? What if they get hurt or sick? Who will treat and cover the cost? Do we just keep flooding our emergency rooms and government programs? Is going into even more debt the answer?

Another thought, maybe we could learn to respect those placed in authority over us and work together to actually make changes. I wonder how we would feel if we were hated and made fun of publicly day in and day out? I wonder if our sin was broadcasted? Should leaders be held accountable? Of course they should. Should people be able to make up lies and ruin others reputations?  I do not think so. Have you ever once put yourself in our governments shoes or are we comfortable sitting on the sidelines screaming half truths, hate and opinions?

For me, I have voted, but I am not sure what else I can do besides pray. We can talk to the Creator of the universe anytime, no need to make an appointment. We can pour out our heart concerns, ask for help and direction. We can repent of our sin and ask for forgiveness. We can turn and actually follow His way. We can uproot bitterness, pride, anger, shame and fear. We can have the words we speak be ones of truth. If it does not line up with scripture, it is not truth. Maybe if we start with ourselves, change would come in our homes, communities, churches, schools and government. Then I could understand a bit more why people would be walking our way. The way were are now, not so much.

So, lets be people who pray for our country and not continue the divide. Search the scripture for yourself and see what God actually says and not someone with an agenda in mind. Hate, pride and anger need to die within our hearts. Maybe, just maybe we will see  change. After all, the Bible tells us that, “…glory be to God, who by His mighty power at work within us is able to do far more than we would ever dream of – infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts or hopes.” (Ephesians 3:20). This is the only God and to the One I am asking to move mightily in this situation. Join me?

Create

A sweet friend told me she would be selling her beautifully handmade earrings at a local holiday market today. I have heard about this market for years, but have never gone. This was the perfect opportunity! Our oldest and I set out this morning. I was shocked at the number of people set up selling all kinds of items and those shopping. People are so creative and talented! The Lord uniquely makes each of us and it is fun seeing what others do with what they have been given. Do you ever stop to think that it is the Lord who gave you ability to sing, paint, draw, capture stunning photographs or gracefully dance across a stage? We do our part by practicing, but it is Him that placed these talents inside of you.

IMG_9679My dad is an exceptional artist and draws furniture as a career. My grandmother has a way with a paint brush. My mom could write in the most beautiful calligraphy script. One of my aunts can sew anything beautifully. A cousin can decorate cakes that can transform into any object. One of my aunts shines in the medical field. My other grandmother could bake the best desserts and was the ultimate homemaker. A great uncle could talk about God and you would want to know Him for yourself. One uncle is a phenomenal chef. And all my aunts and uncles have the best sense of humor. They are a party waiting to happen. The list of talent could go on and on. Each unique, each related to me and each created by God. I like seeing how God dispenses talent into families.

Growing up, I wanted to do gymnastics or ballet. Maybe play the piano, anything that would get me noticed. However, I never found the thing I was made to do. Nothing seemed to put me in the spotlight and I was left feeling untalented. And then I became a mom and the need for the spotlight ended. There is not much I do day in and day out that is seen, except by my family. Their hearts reflect the words I say and the seeds I plant. Each day I am helping to shape who the Lord has created them to be. He chose me to be their mom and uniquely shaped me for this role. Some of the shaping has been hard and painful and some has just come easy. All are necessary.

Once walking out of a luncheon, someone mentioned to another lady that I had a lot of kids. She started saying all these negative comments and to each I responded back with something positive. Finally, I could stand it no longer. I turned to her and said, “You know what? I was made for this.”. Not another word was spoken.

I do not know what you were made to do, but I do know the One who made you. Get in His Word and read about the things He promises those He created and that love Him. Read about His making of the world and humans. Read about His incomprehensible love for us and how He wants us to live. You will meet the God that created creativity, singing, food, words, shapes, dancing and the list is endless. The next time you start to do that thing you are good at, think of the One who has given you that ability. Stop and thank Him for how He made you. Then use it to bring Him glory. You were made for this!

Looking Back

On Tuesday,  my husband and I celebrated 19 years of marriage. To some that may seem like so few years and to others a lifetime. To me it is a picture of pure grace, I do not deserve what I have been given. When I look at the photographs from that day, I am transported right back. It was the perfect fall day and our family and friends were seated in the pews. It was a big day and I wanted a big entrance. The aisle seemed a mile long, but I knew who waited at the end. Truth be told, I knew you were suppose to feel beautiful on your wedding day, but I did not. Nothing seemed right with my appearance, but that was a normal feeling. Never quite right, but close. However, that faded away when I saw how he looked at me. Jesus has had the same affect on my heart too.

IMG_9757When I finally made my way to the platform, everyone else disappeared. We exchanged vows, promises to each other and to God. When we said the “richer or poorer” part, I actually laughed. We were on Young Life staff and I thought we would always be financially lacking. Sometimes this was true and sometimes it was not. Either way, I am loved and have seen the Lord be faithful.

We celebrated with a great meal and the best cake I have ever eaten. We danced and I tried to keep the look of shock from my face with the DJ’s song choices. Why was “Strawberry Wine” played when I danced with my dad??? I was thankful when the last song played, which the DJ dedicated to his daughter. We left in a golf cart and checked into the hotel. People thought we were dressed up for Halloween. It made us laugh and added another fun memory to our day.

We spent a week in Hawaii, in a suite that was huge! It was actually bigger than the house we would share on our return. The honeymoon ended and years have come and gone. Real life sets in and for that I am thankful. I do better with real.

Neither one of us could have known what all these years would hold and how we would change. I started off as a girl who was insecure and selfish, full of pride and lacking in humility. He, well, he has remained steady, humble, a servant and kind. He has no need to boast and lives planted in the knowledge that he is loved by God. It took me quite awhile to catch up. The biggest change I have seen in him is the color of his hair. Me and kids can have a greying effect.

Looking back through these years, we have known joy and loss. My mom, some grandparents and two babies have died. However, we trust that the Lord is faithful and loves us even when loss does not feel loving. The Lord has also given us more than we could have imagined. When I look around our table, I am astonished and full of gratitude. What we have been entrusted with is much and I will spend my days not taking this lightly.

I pray that I do not waste time on the things that do not matter.  I pray my words are rooted in love and encourage, not tear down as they often have. I pray our children know we as parents love each other and them, from hearts that believe they are loved and forgiven by God. Knowing this in my heart and head makes all the difference. If you do not yet know this, your family and everyone around you suffers. I know this to be true. Just think, you could be the most loving person around the Thanksgiving table or the Christmas tree this year if you will only believe and accept the gift of Jesus! Why not today?

May the Lord continue to draw us close and equip us to point our children straight to Him.

“Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven – for she loved much. Be he who is forgiven little, loves little.” Luke 7:47