Reliance

“Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.” 2 Corinthians 1:9

Our Bible study group gathered yesterday for the first time this semester and it was good. We are working our way through 2 Corinthians and this verse stuck out to me. Sometimes experiences we walk through feel pretty close to death. Somewhere in there we question so many things and can come to the end of ourselves. In my experience, this has felt like the lowest place I could go. And then the unexpected happens. Something like a light seems to be shone on the path that led you there. All the times you were sure you were in control. How deceiving that lie can be. And then the God who is as powerful as He is merciful, does what only He can do. He offers to take over and asks you to rely on Him. From death to life you begin again…

Love in a Beauty Shop

I walked into a new beauty shop yesterday, not knowing a soul. The space was open and busy with activity. There were women of all ages and hair colors filling up the space. I patiently waited my turn and took in the scene before me. Everyone had a part to play and all seemed included. The stylists helped one another out and shared whatever they had. Compliments were flying, each were genuinely spoken and received. When the precious woman was working on my hair, we talked about how she had gotten her start. She said it was because of one woman’s timely words. We talked about what a difference words can make. And as I walked away from the shop, I thought that perhaps I had just caught a glimpse of love. “Love is patient, love is kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful…”. (I Corinthians 13:4-5). It amazes me what can be seen in the everyday. Don ‘t miss it.

Reminded

“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding.” -Job 38:4

I love writing in a new journal. The first page of a fresh book, always comes with a sense of excitement. The other day was such day and I had to wait before I pressed my pen to the page. From experience I know there will be somewhat of a theme from beginning to end. There is something the Lord will shape in me. I waited… and the verse came from Job. It reminded me of my smallness and the greatness of our God. He has no beginning and no end. It was He that laid the foundation of the very ground we stand on, but it was also He that made you and me. And according to His word, He “saw everything that He made, and behold, it was very good.” (Genesis 1:31). Sometimes we just need to be reminded.

Offended vs. Hurt

These two words came up recently and needed my attention. To be offended is usually a difference of opinion or the way we think about something. To be hurt is different and goes to the heart. Questions come to mind, do we allow others to have an opinion without getting offended? Do we get hurt too easily? Do we allow each other some grace as our opinions are forming or being reshaped? My honest answer to all would be that I have failed to be gracious when speaking my opinions so many times, but my heart has softened and my skin has thickened these last few years. There is plenty of differences because we have all been shaped differently. Our stories are unique. This gives all of us an unlimited supply of opinions that have the potential to offend or hurt. However, there is just as many things that we have in common and plenty of grace to be extended. This does not make wrong right or right wrong, but it gives us an incredible opportunity to listen to each other and space to practice being nonjudgmental. Who knows? We may make a lot of new friends in the process and expand our sphere of influence to those who desperately need a savior, but want nothing to do with religion. Sound like the making of a bridge to me. One we could name grace and mercy.

Serving the King

“Now I was cupbearer to the king.” Nehemiah 1:11

One of my most favorite books in the Bible is Nehemiah. This last verse in the first chapter happens to give the job title of this man. Reading it again, a thought came to mind; we are the cupbearers of the King! His word says, “Whoever believes in me, as the scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” (John 7:38). Our heart is the cup that is filled with His living water and everywhere we go we have something to serve. Friends, our world is in desperate need of “water” that will satisfy thirsty souls. Many things are advertised, but they do not quench the thirst. So, may we go about our days, wherever the Lord would have us, filled with living water and serving our King.

A Long Way

“Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy!” Psalm 126:5

This past weekend, our family traveled to North Carolina to celebrate our nephew getting married. It was good to see relatives, meet new people and to be apart of such a happy occasion. So many times the verse about sowing in tears came to mind. For it was ten years ago that many of these same people gathered for my moms funeral. Tears were sown that day and many, many more afterwards. However, this weekend felt like we were reaping joy in a way. It was a choice each of us had to make years ago. Would we allow the Lord to use this loss for good and His glory or would we refuse His presence in our grief? It was encouraging to look back and see how much our love for God and others has grown, experience fellowship that will continue in eternity and to be reminded that joy is possible again. And I look forward to more celebrating!

PS The flower girl was quite stunning too!

Do Your Best

“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.” 2 Timothy 2:15

Our kids talk about feeling judged. It makes them react in fear and to hold back. Trying to get the truth in their minds and heart, that as believers in Jesus their verdict is not guilty, takes time. It took time for me to get that and to respond accordingly. I think I kinda started backwards actually. Knowing the word of truth without deep down believing you are approved, creates an arrogance that is painful to look back upon. Time goes on, growth happens and that prideful arrogance is worked out. What remains is extravagant love, quick forgiveness, peace, grace and mercy. Not perfection mind you, but a quiet contentment, man cannot steal. My prayer is that our children absorb this freedom much sooner than I did. And each time we need a reminder, I’ll say do your best as one approved of by the King of kings.

Company

“I am with you…” Genesis 28:15

Watching our kids navigate the first few weeks of school, I noticed a common thread with them all. If they had a friend in class, it made all the difference because they knew they were not alone. We can apply this simple observation to our lives as well. We know that we are never alone. We are never without the Presence of our Father. Good days, hard days, sick days, first days, uncertain days and routine days, He never walks away from us. And when the days have added up a bit, we look back and see such evidence of Him. There is no way we could have kept walking if not for His nearness. Makes me so thankful for His company and my love for Him grows deeper.

*Photo credit Stacey James

Beginnings

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.” Proverbs 1:7

This verse came up on my phone today and a short teaching with it. Tim Keller explained “fear” in this verse and I found it so helpful. He said, “Fear in the Bible means to be overwhelmed, to be controlled by something.” Looking back I can give plenty of evidence of being foolish, years spent not allowing the Lord to be in control of my words and actions. It is His grace that rescues you from your own foolishness and draws you towards wisdom, instruction and obedience. He draws you to Himself. A desire burns inside to be controlled by the Holy Spirit and overwhelming love is stirred. This becomes a way of life, not without making mistakes, but quicker to align back with Him. As I parent, one of my prayers is for each of our children to live in this fear much sooner than I did. Listening to them and watching them I think they are well on their way.

Grace Needed

The kids are back in school and we are welcoming the weekend slowness. It takes time to sort through the week. There are some things I have noticed that needed attention and I handled them wrong. I needed to listen, not fix or offer advice. There are emotions, change and unknowns with each new school year, but this year seems more intense. The reminder came quick of an opportunity for grace for myself and them. Around the table we talked about all the hard things. We read scripture and wrote down what we were thankful for today. And then their dad prayed, asking the Lord to make our home a place of peace. So much rages on the outside, but here can be different. We begin again, accepting and appreciating His grace and the peace that only He can give.