“By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:35
Our town recently gained a fabulous wine store. Not only is the selection unique, the prices invite any budget. Both swing the door wide open to welcome those curious about wine and others who know what they like. On my first visit in, my friend and I got an unexpected lesson in a particular wine that is known for its “Rutherford dust”. This dust gives a distinct taste and becomes a trademark of sorts in wine. And if I understood correctly, the dust comes from the location of the vineyard.
This made me ask what marks us? What are we known for? What kind of “taste” do we leave with those we interact with? According to scripture, we are to be known by our love for each other. And if the location of a vineyard matters to its flavor, it only makes sense that our relationship to our Creator would matter too. The closer we are, then love should be our most distinct note. I wonder how we are doing?
This declaration rings throughout everything this couple builds and it is so encouraging. They know their mission and have set their course. Just walking around the beautiful grounds of the Magnolia Silos gives clear evidence. From the shops, to the food and all the details in between; excellence, care, protection, beauty, welcome and love are on display at every turn. And after not visiting this place in a few years, I think I appreciated it even more during a recent trip.
One thing a friend and I noticed was the amount of security that protected the property inside and out. What a picture it was to remember the importance of protecting those in our home, those entrusted to us. And I have felt the need to step up the “security” in our home through prayer. It is a weapon that can easily be forgotten, but I am telling you it is powerful. With satan openly wanting to destroy our homes and families, what better way than to go to the One who can do something about it?
“Now go! I will help you speak and I will teach you what to say.” Exodus 4:12
A gifted Bible teacher recently highlighted this verse and it was so encouraging. We did not come into this world knowing how to speak or what to say; we need to be taught. We also need to give ourselves and others grace while we are all learning. Perhaps nothing is more painful or more uplifting than words. And as we are going about our everyday activities, we can ask to be taught and helped by the very One who made our mouths. Because there is nothing like sweet words spoken and you never know how much someone needs them.
If Friday nights concert was not enough, Sunday night was Mercy Me with friends. What a night! One song of theirs in particular keeps running through my mind. Over and over they sang, You are holy, you are righteous, you are one of the redeemed, set apart a brand new heart, you are free indeed.” What an incredible reminder of who we are in Christ because of the cross! Sometimes I know I forget, but yet again, worship serves as a reminder. When we know who we are and whose we are, it makes all the difference. And with this reminder my prayer is to live accordingly.
Our oldest daughter and I got to see a long awaited concert last night. For hours we worshiped and heard stories of redemption. It was so good! We had both had long days and walked in tired. She took a picture of us before the music started playing and I noticed my wearied look. However, after hours of worship, we had another picture taken of us. What a difference worship makes!
I was reminded of how I have felt lately. Since our family had the dreaded virus, I have felt tired, defeated, discouraged and just plain down. It physically took a toll. Just like the enemy to take advantage of us when we are weak and he has seemed relentless lately. But what a weapon worship is and last night I saw the enemy defeated!
I had forgotten how strange it feels to sell your home. Having strangers come and go, without you being here, is odd. What do they think when they walk in? What catches their eye? Do they have any idea what stories have been lived within these walls? Do they know that the dining room is the designated place for birthday celebrations and that my mom gave me the dishes that are on display? Can they even imagine all the meals that have been eaten around our kitchen table and the prayers that have been prayed there? Do they walk into a little room off of ours and know several babies called that their room for years? Do they know it has become a bit of a nursery for me too as I continue to grow?
Home is more than walls, paint and tile. It is a place to belong. It is a place where grace abounds, while we all are growing up. It is a place where tears flow freely and laughter soon follows. It is not perfect, but it has served us well. And we will continue this story on to the next home in excitement mixed with the sadness that comes with change. I’ll keep you posted:)
“By an act of faith, Israel walked through the Red Sea on dry ground.” Hebrews 11:29 msg
I read this verse this morning and had to smile. Perhaps when life seems dry, there is no change and each day is a choice to “walk by faith, and not by sight”, could it be that we are actually walking through our Red Sea? And what happened for these children of Israel? They kept walking and fighting until they reached their promised land. Keep walking as an act of faith and we will be there before you know it.
Last night was the homecoming game for our school district. Our family put on the school colors and headed to the game. I maybe watched a total of two minutes of the game because I was distracted. And instead of lashing out in judgement and criticism, I feel like an apology would be more appropriate.
To all employees of our school district, I am sorry. I am sorry you could not sit down and enjoy the game with your family, after a full day of work. I am sorry you have so many responsibilities placed on you other than teaching your assigned subject or leading the district. I am sorry you have to make and enforce a dress code and stop all kinds of behavior. I am sorry you have to hire police and beg for volunteers. I am sorry you go unnoticed until there is a problem. Bottom line, I am sorry for not doing my job as a parent at all times. If I am doing my job, yours would be so much easier. Our time at home when schools shut down proved I cannot do your job. My children need you to teach them what I do not have the skills to do. It is my responsibility to teach them about love, integrity and self control. It is my job to instill in them true worth and identity, so they do not feel the need to find any of this in outward appearance and foolish behavior. They would know who they are and dress, behave accordingly. There would not be the need to ban bags and containers that house false courage and peace. So many things you are asked to watch for instead of the game and I am sorry.
An apology without action means nothing, so I want you to know something. I am committed to doing my job so you can do yours. We need each other. I also want you to know that this little mama is cheering you on and praying for you. And one more thing, I would also like to ask for your forgiveness. I have been imperfectly parenting for almost twenty years. I do not have all the answers or solutions, but I know the One who does. So I am counting on Him to empower me to make the difference in our children’s lives and hopefully make your job easier. And that is a victory we can all celebrate!
*Just to clarify, our children did not get into trouble. This is just my way of taking responsibility for my job as a parent.
“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…
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.