A Deep Pit

‘He will redeem his soul from going down to the Pit,

and his life shall see the light.” Job 33:28

 

Our family is vacationing at the beach this week and it is wonderful! Waking up and seeing the ocean first thing, building sand castles, collecting seashells and relaxing is a gift to us. After a long school year, this is just what we needed. Getting away from our normal has been good for each of us. We have laughed, gotten upset with one another, eaten too much and sat unmoving on the beach for long periods of time. We have been slow in just about everything we have done. I treasure our times away and look for gifts continually. It is very easy to hear the Lord in times of slow, rest and beauty.

IMG_3340 copyToday we ventured out to our little area in the sand and settled in. One of our boys began to dig a huge hole and really did not want anyone else to help. He dug and dug until the pit was deep. Another one of our boys had been eyeing this great feat and jumped in. He then asked to be buried with only his head sticking out. Because the pit was so deep, it took a lot of sand to fill the hole back up and cover him. He was trapped, but said he liked it. One kid put a bucket on his head and he was helpless to remove it. Another “accidentally” kicked sand in his mouth, but he could do nothing. And then it was time for lunch.

He was buried and could not help himself. He needed someone on shore to dig him out and pull him back up. At first he resisted and wanted to do some kind of challenge. Then the promise of his favorite meal was heard. His dad came and scoop by scoop dug him out. The weight of the sand had been heavy and he needed help even standing. He was covered obviously, so I walked beside him to the water to wash off. He said his legs did not feel quite right and I stood close in case he fell. We walked back to the family side by side with him free and washed clean.

What looked like a fun time, ended up being a trap. He needed his dad to help him out and we are no different. We stray from our loving boundaries and get buried in a pit. We cannot move and we are powerless. Sin appears harmless and takes us much further than we ever thought. Before long we become slaves to our sin or so we think. Might I suggest you do what this child did and ask you Heavenly Father for help? Start with “Help” if you don’t even have the words to cry out. It might take time to feel free, but you are the minute you believe. Pit living makes one weary. Peace never lasts and experiences are costly. Life in abundance is found in Christ and Christ alone.

So today I ask the Lord, “to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.” (Acts 26:18). Our eyes do not see clearly in a pit. It is like we have a bucket on our head. Only the Lord, the creator of our heart and eyes, can make us truly see. “This is the message we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.” (1 John 1:5). If you want freedom, peace, to be washed of all sin and life only found in living in the light, then ask the Lord. He is waiting and I would love to walk beside you.

 

Anything But Calm

Today begins our summer break and that is exciting! This is one of our families most favorite times of the year. However, yesterday was a struggle and I felt anything but calm. Not until a sweet friend called and we started talking about the day, did it all kinda piece together. Who knew how much one day could hold? Emotions on the surface felt unsettled and I had to dig a bit deeper to see the root of them. The root is change and some changes are harder than others.

IMG_2883For the past 17 years, I have had at least one child still at home during the school day. Being a mom is what I was made to do, so it makes sense that I like having my kids at home. With this school year coming to a close, this era will also close. Summer stretches between today and the beginning of a new normal. Our oldest will begin her senior year and our youngest will start kindergarten. Another will start high school and one moves up in middle school. One moves to the intermediate school and two more advance a grade in elementary. It is a bit overwhelming for me and it all fell hard on my heart. I love seeing them grow up, but it just is happening way too fast.

I remember once when my mom and I were out shopping with my first child, an older lady stopped me and said, “It goes by so fast, enjoy it.” I replied with a confident, “I know” and we parted ways. I did not know and she was right. The intense look in her eyes was not lost on me, but my arrogance did not allow her words to count. Yes, I remembered them, but I know I wasted days not enjoying my time with my kids. Thankfully, the Lord did a work in my heart and that changed. My kids now have a happy mom. Only God can do this kind of work. Only God could have reduced me to love.

As one of our boys graduated kindergarten the other day, his precious teacher read a fabulous quote that started with these words, “Let them be little…”. (Excuse me for a minute while I tie homemade horse tails on my youngest two. Apparently, they are horses today.) Looking back over the years that have flown by, I want to remind us of how important this is. Our children only have one childhood and it matters. Their early years play such a foundational role in who they become. It amazes me that more teaching isn’t done at the hospital before we take our babies home! We have been entrusted with a little human, who has feelings, a personality, a mind, preferences, thoughts and so much more. As a parent, we shape each of these in good and bad ways. What if we get this wrong and totally mess our children up? Will they forgive us as they get older and know we were doing the very best we knew how? Will we be humble enough to repent and ask our kids for forgiveness for the ways we failed?

With each child that has arrived in our family, we have been given yet another chance to do better by relying on God as our source of strength and direction. When people ask about the large size of our family, I often say it is because the Lord had so much to work out of me that did not reflect His image. So much pride, selfishness, blame and the list could go on and on. Thankfully, with the reducing of me, He has had more space to invade. My children have a better mom because of Him. Being reduced to love is painful, but worth it.

So, as summer arrives and our days slow down, I will ask the Lord to make each of my children, “…like a flourishing olive tree in the house of God; I trust in God’s faithful love forever and ever. I will praise you forever for what you have done. In the presence of your faithful people, I will put my hope in your name, for it is good.” Psalm 52:8-9.

 

Being Renewed

We are days away from the kids being on summer break. We can hardly wait! To not have to be out the door so early will be nice and staying up a bit later is fun too. The calendar has a lot of blank space and I like that. The end of the school year is so close, but there are still things to do. Honestly, I am failing a bit and need a reminder to keep going. We have all worked hard for an entire year and it would be sad if we gave up now. That is why when I read the following verse, I was encouraged. “…but those who trust in the LORD will renew their strength; they will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not become weary; they will walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31). I could use some of this strength right about now. What about you?

IMG_2655Notice who is given strength, “those who trust in the LORD”. If you are feeling a bit worn out from life, would you consider placing your trust in the One true God? “Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the whole earth. He never becomes faint or weary; there is no limit to His understanding.” (Isaiah 40:28). If you think you have gone too far in your sin, take the words “there is no limit to His understanding” to heart. Let them sink in and reflect on the peace that washes over you. Share with Him what is on your mind. He will not get weary according to this verse.

You know, your heart was made to respond to the One who created it. Ever notice how when a babies mom walks into a room and speaks, the baby reacts? I remember when our youngest child was born, she was immediately turned towards my voice. It was familiar to her. We had been growing together for 9 months after all. It is the same for us and God. He is speaking all the time in the Bible, His creation and inside of us. “Look up and see! Who created these? He brings out the stars by name. Because of His great power and strength, not one of them is missing.” (Isaiah 40:26). Be reminded the next time you gaze up at the stars, each was called out by name. God uses “His great power and strength” to keep up with each and every one. Will He not do the same with you? Compared to the universe, I feel pretty small, yet known and greatly loved. I pray you know this to be true too.

As the school year slowly comes to a close, I will press on in the strength that only He can give. I have asked for it and trust Him to provide what only He can. There might be things I forget and have forgotten to do for my children, but I will ask for grace to cover our family. I have found that my kids are pretty forgiving of this mama. When we cross the finish line of the year, I pray we soar into summer and run fast into the arms of our Heavenly Father each and every day. Summer, we are ready for you!

 

 

 

Recalled

Recalls happen all the time. Each time I hear of one, I check to see if this effects our family. Did I buy the romaine lettuce, ice cream or flour that is contaminated? Is one of our cars in the list of having a faulty part that could lead to an accident? Do we own one of the toys that was recalled for being a possible choking hazard? Have we taken medicine that is now found to cause cancer years later? Have we fed our dog food that will make him sick? It seems something new comes out weekly that needs to be recalled. However, most manufacturers are good about letting the public know when what you have bought from them is damaged, it does not meet the set, original standard and can be hazardous and maybe deadly.

IMG_2717Companies have standards that what they are producing must measure up too. Granted, some of the standards are not very high, but they are there nonetheless. For food to be considered organic as its standard, it has to be grown a certain way. For cleaning products, makeup, skin care, bug spray and sunscreen to be considered natural, non-toxic or chemical free, they have to have potentially harmful ingredients missing in them. Products are then labeled accordingly to let the consumer know. So much research has gone into what makes our bodies sick and some companies are working hard to remove these dangerous elements. I love all of this and enjoy organic, clean products as much as we can.  But I think we are missing something significant.

Do we know our original design? Do we know the standard our Creator has for each one of us? Do we meet the standard or are we in need of a recall? Are there things in our hearts, being manifested into words or actions that have the potential to make us sick? Are we consuming things that may or may not be labeled as sin today? Have we as a nation gotten so far away from our original design that we have begun to look like a completely different country? So many questions run through my head.

We can start with our original physical design. “So God created man in his own image; he created him in the image of God; he created them male and female.” (Genesis 1:27). Our original design is a likeness to the One true God. I can hardly get over that! Each one of us is so unique, but all bear the image of our Maker. Incredible isn’t it? Remember that the next time you look in the mirror. Maybe memorize this verse or tape it to your mirror just in case you start to speak critically of how you have been designed. I wonder if all of those who are confused by their gender need to be reminded of this as well? I remember answering the phone at Gap Kids one day while working there during college. A 12 year old boy was on the other end of the line. He told me he was being made fun of for his size and was thinking about buying some skirts and dressing like a girl. I told him that was not who he was and encouraged him to be the boy, not girl, that God created him to be. I have never forgotten that conversation. Let us always be willing to tell people the truth.

When grocery shopping I have lots of choices before me. In the produce section alone I can decide between things grown organically, hydroponically or with chemicals. Price is different for each one and at times makes the choice a bit more difficult. What if the fruits and vegetables, that were grown with harmful chemicals, had labels attached to them? Would we pick them up regardless of the cheaper price? I’ve noticed the organic ones bear the labels. What if we checked the fat, calorie and serving sizes more when we consumed food and became healthier by reading what is right in front of us? Maybe we might feel better about that image we see in the mirror and have more energy. This makes me wish ice cream did not come with a label!

What about our hearts? Are there sins in your heart that need to be confessed and repented of? When we  confess and turn from our sins, we are a bit closer to our original heart design. We have been recalled over and over again. Warning after warning fills the pages of the Bible. God knows how we, His creations, function best. He gives boundaries and standards that keep us living in freedom. They are not constrictive rules that remove all the sweetness of life here and after we die. They are quite the opposite in fact. I have found them to be quite life-giving.

Can I tell you what can be tricky? Living out of this freedom in relationships. When we read this passage in 2 Timothy, we are given boundaries that are for our good as it pertains to interacting with others. “Avoid irreverent and empty speech, since those who engage in it will produce even more godlessness, and their teaching will spread like gangrene.” (2:16-17). That is pretty serious. The words that fly so carelessly out of our mouth can infect and harm others. We must watch what we say. We can keep reading in this book and gain more guidance. “Flee from youthful passions, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. But reject foolish and ignorant disputes, because you know they breed quarrels. The Lord’s servants must not quarrel, but must be gentle to everyone, able to teach, and patient, instructing his opponents with gentleness. Perhaps God will grant them repentance leading them to the knowledge of truth. Then they may come to their senses and escape the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.” (2:22-26).

When I encounter someone that is not gentle, patient and a bit loud, I do not want to stick around. My initial response is to flee and avoid an uncomfortable conversation or listen to empty words. However, what I am learning is to speak the truth in love. I stay calm, not judging the other person, just confident in the Author of truth and what He has spoken. It seems the Lord wanted to work out my fear of conflict and lined up many for me to be forced to engage in. It was by no means easy or comfortable, but I no longer fear telling the truth. My heart is to point us back to our original design and stay grounded in the firm foundation that is built inside of me. I love the verse that says, “Nevertheless, God’s solid foundation stands firm, bearing this inscription: The Lord knows those who are his, and let everyone who calls on the name of the Lord turn away from wickedness.” (2:19). This gives my heart confidence when my legs want to run!

This recalling has some amazing benefits. “So if anyone purifies himself from anything dishonorable, he will be a special instrument, set apart, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work.” (2:21) What is God preparing you for? It is pretty exciting to think about! Who doesn’t want to be useable, special, set apart, prepared and have a purpose? When you know who you are and whose you are because you have accepted the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus that recalled you from your life of sin, a life of love and freedom begins. “For freedom, Christ has set us free. Stand firm then and don’t submit again to a yoke of slavery.” (Galatians 5:1). Come be free today!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Think Big

A simple statue that is entitled “Think Big” caught our attention the other day. We have walked by it lots of times, but never stopped to read the name. My youngest child and I took time to notice. She of course needed her picture taken with the statue. The picture is cute and the name is powerful. I want a picture with each of our kids to serve as a reminder to them to think big. Also, I want them to know that I want to hear their big ideas and the small ones too. It takes time and patience, but it has been my experience that they will keep talking as they get older if they have been heard while they were younger. Listening when they are younger can be quite entertaining too.

IMG_2640Our 7 year old came to me recently and said, “Mom, I have a million ideas.” I told him I wanted to hear each one and he said, “It will take all day.” We worked out a plan that he would tell me an idea a day. I will say they are pretty interesting. Some are big and some are small, but they are heard none the less. You never know, one of these million ideas just might launch him into a career someday.

I will confess, listening to my immediate family is much easier than those outside our home. We are all heard in this space, but outside seems to be a fight at times. Why the need to be heard anyway? When someone takes time to listen to me, it is like being given a gift. However, I have at times done a poor job of returning an available ear. I am changing that. I will also remind myself that God will listen anytime to what I have to say. He’s a great listener. Talk to Him yourself. Be sure to have ears that hear. So much noise, busyness, worries and the list is never-ending, can keep us from hearing Him. What has He said to you today?

The thing is, taking my ideas to Him is safe. Some ideas have played out and others have not. Some were not big enough and God stretched them. Some ideas were not the best for me. Some ideas needed the rescuing grace of Jesus to intervene. For that I am very thankful. Some ideas are still developing and take up space in my journal. Some ideas needed major destruction because they were not based on truth. Funny how we can get that wrong. Some ideas hurt my heart when I think of them and others make me smile. Some get outside encouragement and others are down right impossible. Some seem to come out of nowhere and others have been in my heart since I can remember. God knows each and every one.

My million idea boy just came to me to talk. He shared some thoughts and I asked questions. He said the most interesting thing. When I asked why he wasn’t afraid of something that is scary, he said, “Because I trust.” When did he get so wise? The idea of fear diminishes or never appears when trust is present. I would have hated to miss that.

So my encouragement to you today is think big. Take time to listen to others thoughts and ask questions too. People are fascinating and children have incredible imaginations! Share your big ideas with the Lord and listen to what He says regarding the idea. Maybe just maybe, He placed that idea inside of your head and heart for His glory and your good. It makes life pretty exciting!

“A person’s heart plans his way, but the Lord determines his steps.” Proverbs 16:9

Heart Writing

“Never let loyalty and faithfulness leave you. Tie them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart.” Proverbs 3:3

 

The book of Proverbs amazes me. So much life wisdom packed into only 31 chapters! The way it is written is pretty straight forward and a wonderful guide to how we are to live. Most of the book is credited to have been written by King Solomon. “God gave Solomon wisdom, very great insight, and understanding as vast as the sand of the seashore.” (1 Kings 4:29). His God given wisdom brought peace and great wealth to the land. If this king knew so much, should we not read what he has to say? “Emissaries of all peoples, sent by every king on earth who had heard of his wisdom, came to listen to Solomon’s wisdom.” (1 Kings 4:34). This is remarkable to me! Today, we do not have to leave ours homes to hear wisdom, we just have to open our Bibles.

IMG_2603The book begins with a bold statement. “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, fools despise wisdom and discipline.” (Proverbs 1:7). This weekend I feel like I said “foolishness” more times than I can ever remember. Nothing in me wants our children to live bent on foolishness. However, that seems to be our natural tendency. It is a constant fight to pull our hearts towards wisdom. This reminds me of the olive tree I bought some time ago. The tree has a wooden stake along side of it and the two are tied together. This stake is called a mainstay. A mainstay is defined as “a person or thing on which something else is based or depends.” My desire is for our family to be tied to God as our mainstay. Wisdom can act as the rope that binds us together.

It is common to hear teaching that contradicts fearing the Lord. Messages are blasted constantly that could have us fear failing circumstances, health, relationships, appearances and the list could go on and on. If we have tied ourselves to these as our mainstay, what is this saying about what we have written on our hearts as wisdom? What will happen when one or more of these fail? Our lives will be uprooted and we will fall to the ground. Will we be able to get back up? What will the condition of our hearts be?

This little tree of mine is still in the pot it came in. My husband said pretty soon it will outgrow its confined space and need to be planted permanently. I know, just holding out for different land. I have tended this tree and am watching it grow slowly. It is pulled onto the back porch sometimes and other times left to bear the storms. The rain and wind help strengthen its roots. All the while it stays tied securely to its mainstay. Wisdom keeps us trusting our God when storms come. Where else will we be safe?

Everyday we are writing something on our hearts and those around us. Will we allow God to write words of wisdom, through His Word, with a Sharpie or will we let the world scribble its “truth”? I have found that God’s Word is much harder to wipe off. Believe me, I lived years trying. Thankfully, I did not try very hard to untie myself to Him as my mainstay. However, if you have or are living a life apart from Him today, you are only a prayer away from binding yourself to Him. What is holding you back?

Do you want to hear some of the promises God offers us when we remain loyal and faithful to Him? “Then you will find favor and high regard with God and people.” (Proverbs 3:4). How do we do this? Keep reading. “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not rely on your own understanding; in all your ways know him, and he will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6). These verses give us words to write on our hearts. These words give us direction and hope because we know the one who gave them. Our understanding can take us down some pretty crooked paths and we end up so lost. Watch the news if you do not believe me.

What is written on our hearts and what we are bound too, determine our lives here and after we die. Trusting my life to God, based on the great love He gave me, by sending Jesus to die on the cross for my many sins, then rising from the dead and returning to Heaven, has been the best and most important decision I have ever made. With my mainstay in place, I daily desire to have Him write words on my heart and on the hearts of my children. It is a priority in our home. We make God’s word the final authority and our source of wisdom. We take very seriously the command in Deuteronomy that says, “Love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your strength. These words that I am giving you today are to be in your heart. Repeat them to your children. Talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” (vs. 5-7).

As we begin a new week, make the words that are being written on your heart and the hearts of all those you come into contact with, words of truth. Speak wisdom and not foolishness. Spend time with God, reading His book that is full of wisdom. Ask Him for wisdom and watch what happens. Read the book of Daniel and see how important wisdom was in his life. There is no end to the treasures you will find in the Bible. Open yours today and begin writing on your heart.

 

 

 

My Favorite Question

Can I just tell you what makes me very happy? It is being a mom, every part of it. Some aspects of motherhood are tougher than others and we have not hit college yet, but I do love being a mom. When I am often asked, about how I do it all with 7 children, my response has gotten so easy it just rolls right out of my heart. I simply say, “I was made for this.” I have been entrusted with much and it is a privilege. God did not give me the wrong kids or them the wrong mom. We fit together just right.

IMG_1624Each child is a shaping tool in His loving hands and me as well. Their personalities are very different and bring out the best and worst in me. I have seen where I lack patience, wisdom, places of selfishness, fear and the list could go on. One kid in particular humbled me greatly and I am so thankful. Lack of humility keeps people at a distance and they are not real with you. I would have missed so much with others if this child had been like anything other than who he is.

My kids know they are prayed for often and one of my greatest privileges is when they ask me to pray for them. Some of our sweetest moments have been had in prayer. It makes sense to go to the One who made them and ask for help.  He is worthy and more than able. I want this to be normal to them and the first response to any need. I want them to always be looking for reminders of God. He is not distant and hard to get to know. He is real and available anytime. Also, praise becomes a way of life when we have eyes to see. My biggest prayer for each of them is that they are head over heals in love with Jesus. With their heart captured by Him, the world does not have a chance of distracting them.

So, today I celebrate being a mom. I have laughed a lot and felt extremely loved. There is nothing like handwritten notes from my kids. They express their hearts so well in written form. Words from friends and family have been sent and that just means so much. Everyone knows I miss my mom and wish she were here to be celebrated. However, when I think of her in Heaven and the joy that is her continual reality, I am so happy for her. She taught me so much and was the perfect mom for me. Because of her, I am the mom I am today. The Lord has also sent other amazing women through the years that have been huge in showing me what it means to live in fellowship with Christ. For those, I am so grateful. They do not take my moms place, but they sure have helped heal my broken heart. How kind of the Lord!

I pray that whatever today holds for you, that you know you are seen and loved. Your day might not look like mine, but maybe it does. I pray you take great comfort in knowing that God is big enough to be all you need. And if you are struggling as a mom, ask the One who made you a mom for help. Get on your knees and pray, He hears. Generations are counting on us and that reinforces my mission to do my best. Celebrate today and look forward to tomorrow. You were made for this!

 

 

 

The Key to Peace

“You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you,

because he trusts in you.”    Isaiah 26:3

 

IMG_1777 2This verse has so much that we desperately need. The source of our peace, focus and trust is only found in the God who created them. It just seems to make sense that if we remain focused on Him, He will keep our thoughts in peace. Notice this does not say anything about our circumstances.  So much is out of our control, isn’t it? However, to have peace, regardless of what spins around us, is only possible with God. Could you use some peace today?

To live with a knot in your stomach, thoughts racing trying to figure out a solution and lack of joy, is not really living in my opinion. If we are honest, most of us know exactly what I am talking about. I know I have wasted many days in this state of heart and mind. Those are days that I can never get back. So I will let them rest in the grace that God extends me each day. There is nothing in me that desires to return to that way of life and miss what God has in store today. Are we going to trust in what we see or place our trust in only what we can have full confidence in?  Have you found Him worthy of your trust yet?

Looking around at the craziness of our world, I can find no other place for my confidence and trust. I trust God because I know He loves me and He is working all things for my good. “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28). He will not lie, so I rest knowing even when I do not understand, He does. There are a lot of things I am waiting on to see Him work for my good, but I have seen Him do this plenty of times. I know you have stories of your own. I would love to hear them.

If you watch the news, you see that our country is without peace in many places. What is our country headed for if this continues? Total confusion and insanity seem to be our destination. Are we not told and shown that we are to love others? Absolutely, but what is the correct definition of love? Our country is in such a sinful mess. People are screaming for equality, but seem to want sin to be excepted and celebrated in all honesty. What can we do to stand up and speak the truth that is love? Protesting worked for Martin Luther King, Jr, might it work for those who believe in truth? However, look at what standing up for truth cost him. To remain silent would be safe.

Equality according to Google means, “the state of being equal, especially in status, rights and opportunities.” Interesting. What about equality of those who live according to what God says is right? Will we even be considered and given equality anymore? I have my doubts. Satan is having a grand time in our country. We are doing our best to remove God and with it peace. This plan has not served us well. To continue in this divided, hateful state will only fuel the work of evil. The extremes taken to confuse, manipulate and lie to people are at an all time high, in my opinion. How many people have been killed because of abortion? How many children have been told the lie that they can determine their gender? Parents are telling them that God made a mistake and feelings have the final say. Gun violence and drug use continue to rise, yet people are working hard to change laws. What needs to change is the heart of man. Drugs are illegal, but still used. Guns are used to kill people and criminals go to jail because of murder. However, how many babies are killed daily by the choice of abortion? Murder and abortion are the same thing. Guns, needles, drugs, it makes no difference. What makes the difference is in whose hand they are placed and what is in the heart of the person. We need to let this sink in. However, acceptance and blame have a more tolerable ring to it don’t you think?

So, I will do what I know to do. I will continue to pray for our country. I will pray for those who are being lied to by satan, who is using anyone he can enlist. I will keep my focus on Christ and ask Him to lead me and give me words to speak. I will stay rooted in the only truth and that is the word of God. I will live the way He has clearly told us is for our good. I will mess up plenty and ask forgiveness. Yes, I will live in peace and trust the One who made me. My eyes are not closed to what is happening around me, but they will not be focused on what will not remain. My heart and eyes are captured by God. He will get the final say regardless of what new act or law comes down the pike. He is victorious and will remain King. My heart is that all may come to know Him and live in peace. It is the only way to truly live. Join me?

And one more thing. Recently, when our oldest child and I visited a college, the person giving the admissions speech declared a scary lie. She said that this college had 60+ faiths. What? Such a true statement of why our county and so many individuals are confused. Look at scripture for truth. “…live worthy of the calling you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit – just as you were called to one hope at your calling – one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.” (Ephesians 4:1-6). I would ask if those believing, declaring, shouting, pushing and supporting anything other than the One true God and all He encompasses have ever heard and accepted the call of our Lord for salvation. This is by no means judgement, but actually comes from my deep longing to see all accept, believe, and love Jesus. It makes all the difference. You will find true peace only in Him. What are you placing your faith in today?

*I see a cross when I pass by the dining room. A great reminder to stay focused.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Despair or Repair

If your eyes are open and you are looking for opportunities to share a genuine encouraging word, it has been my experience that you will get your chance. Some days you end up being the one on the receiving end and that is a gift too. Of course, the obvious is to encourage those in your home, but what about others that land in your path? Talking to strangers can be a bit risky. What will they think? What if they do not want to be talked too? What if they want to talk longer than the time you have? Lots of questions could keep you from engaging in conversation. However, I have not found one of them to really matter when I look at how Jesus spent His time.

IMG_1264With so much despair in our world today, a kind word can change someones day. It might not change their week, but a day is a good start. I have found that words cost nothing, but can pour over you like water on a Texas summer day. Think of times when you were in need and how genuine, uplifting conversations helped you keep going. A real look in a persons eyes can tell you so much. Take a look and ask the Lord to give you the words to say. He knows the persons heart and just might use you to speak exactly what they need to hear. What a blessing that can be!

A good rule to follow is not to have any hidden motives. Most people are not blind to those with an agenda in mind. Genuine care and love for others looks a lot like Jesus. Why don’t we follow His model? I know my feelings have been hurt when I discovered there was a reason why someone seemed genuinely interested in getting to know me, but actually wanted to use me. The truth usually rises to the surface before too long. I often wonder about extremely wealthy people or those in high positions, if they feel like they have those around them that just want to be their friend. Is trusting others hard to do? I pray we will be trustworthy, encouraging and loving to everyone not wanting anything in return. Trust that the Lord will meet your needs and do not try and wrestle your need from others.

Maybe, just maybe, we can be used to repair what is broken in someones heart by telling and showing them the love of Jesus. It can make your errands so much more meaningful. However, I must warn you ahead of time, this requires you to be flexible. It also requires you to ask the Lord what His plans are for your day and be sensitive to His leading. It has made some interesting adventures. Just today we encountered a man that had stories to tell. The line of work he had been in caused him to see things that most do not. I did not know if he was a believer or not, but told him I would pray for his mind and the images it held. I told him I would pray for discernment in doing his job. Does he have anyone else praying for him?

We continued on our day and had just prayed at lunch. Within minutes a beautiful couple sat down next to our table and did the same thing. I was so happy and told them so! The husband said we could have prayed together. As we were leaving at the same time, I spoke an encouraging word that honestly was not mine. God does things like that and it is incredible. Our lunch date was made even richer by that sweet encounter. Yours can be too.

It must be genetic because one of our boys came to tell me that he met a new friend. My husband had been playing with the kids in the driveway and somehow this kid ended up inviting a teen girl passing by to write with sidewalk chalk. They spent sometime together and he never got her name, but said that was fine with him. I would have loved to hear the conversation. He knew some facts about her and was happy as could be. He said recently that, “Strangers are just friends we haven’t met yet.” I think I read that Chip Gaines’ grandfather said the same thing. I love it!

So, let’s pray and ask the Lord to open our eyes to those around us. We need to have our eyes off of ourselves and our phones more. There are plenty of people in despair that could use a word or our time. Much is broken in our world, but the last time I checked God was in the business of repairing. If we are willingly and surrender our ideas and plans, He has something to work with. A life lived spent on loving others sounds like a life lived well. Let’s get to it!

 

 

Consider

My desire is to spend time in God’s Word every single day. To miss time would be like not hearing from my closest companion, one I am used to conversing with daily. To stay in bed would be nice, but what would be missed is not worth extra sleep. So each morning I get up and have uninterrupted time with the King of kings and Lord of lords. It is a discipline to an extent, but it is so much more. It is life to me. What the Lord reveals, how He answers my questions, hears my prayers, lavishes love in extravagant ways by the way He directs me to specific scriptures and brings peace obtained no other way, is a glimpse into my mornings. He fills my heart up to overflowing and I spend the rest of the day pouring that love out. I mess up plenty, repent, apologize, accept grace and remember what He has taught me and how much He loves me.

IMG_1707Because of the time spent and the heart work that is done, it creates a bit of a challenge. Some mornings I attend Bible studies and when questions begin to be asked, it takes some self-control not to spill out all the morning has held. There are plenty of things that are just between the Lord and I, but insights gained often need to be shared. This has helped change the way I see people and how I interact. Again, I fail plenty, but my eyes are different now. My heart breaks easier because of the lies I see people believing and the truth that some in our world just cannot accept. I wonder why that is so hard?

Yesterday we were running errands and I had an unusual encounter with a salesperson. They had obviously believed something that was not true and dressed accordingly. I was startled at first, but then quickly sad. We talked about makeup and went our separate ways. What should I have said? What questions could I have asked to reach their heart? Throwing scripture would have only confirmed what they probably already believe about followers of Christ. What would have made them want peace, freedom and unconditional love only found in Christ? When we are insecure, live a lie and protect the lie at all costs, is there anything other than love that can break through fortified walls? It is not my job or right to condemn sin, that seat of judgment belongs to God alone. If only there was a way to speak this without defenses rising, but I think this has become a way of life for the broken.

The book of Lamentations is fascinating to me. Such heartache, hope and truth is found on each page. One verse really stuck out to me the other day. “She never considered her end.” (Lamentations 1:9). Our days are numbered, yet we so often live like we have time in abundance. Moses wrote a prayer that says, “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” (Psalm 90:12). When we set heaven in our hearts as our eternity, we have considered and determined our end if we have confessed and believed Jesus to be our Savior. How many people do we encounter each and everyday who do not have this assurance? What are we doing about it? What am I going to do about the person I encountered? Are they not worth knowing the truth too? It is not reserved for just a few of us.

Look with me at this convicting verse. “For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in Him shall have eternal life…”. (John 6:40). I do not see anyone omitted from this bold statement, but simply everyone. Also read this one, “As scripture says, ‘Anyone who believes in Him will never be put to shame.” (Romans 10:11). Again we read there are no exclusions, but anyone can believe. Do not miss the next words. Shame is no longer an option for the believer. It is my understanding that satan holds many captive in prisons of shame. What is keeping you from breaking out? The lock opens at the name of Jesus my friend. What Jesus did for you on the cross made this freedom possible. Using my imagination, I see the key to the lock in the shape of the cross. Place this key in the hand of any prisoner and with faith, unlock your cell.

When our eternity is secure, our in-between can be lived with an unexplainable love, joy, peace, patience, kindness and love. Others will take notice and ask why we are different. We make quite a contrast in dark places. I use to fear my kids being in public school big time. We have all heard what is being taught and the activities that come with abandoning truth. However, it is in these dark places that light shines. I will say some of my kids have unbelievable teachers that know and love the Lord. Praise God! For those that do not, I pray they see a difference in the way our children behave. I pray they see a light in their eyes, even on hard days. I pray they feel loved and accepted. This is a great training ground, but makes for much work on our side. Again, praise God! The last time I checked scripture, this was the design from the beginning. What a privilege! When I pick the kids up I try and always ask, “How was your day?”. What I am asking is, “What did the world tell you today?”. We then sort through it all and replace lies with truth if needed.

So, consider your end and consider you present. Consider what the world has told you and hold it up to scripture. Does it match up? Popular belief can still be wrong. What are you doing to share truth, which is quite possibly the most loving thing you can do? Do people around you notice that you are different or do you blend in? Do you have something that others just cannot put their finger on that seems to be missing in their lives? This is not a call to be perfect, I am wanting us to pour out love because it has been given to us to share. We would not keep a cure for cancer in our journal and not share it with those dying would we? Then why do we keep the Good News to ourselves? Friend, do not be afraid. In fact, ask the Lord for help. Be encouraged by this, “You came near whenever I called you; you said, ‘Do not be afraid.” (Lamentations 3:57). He is near when we call and will give you words, eyes and a heart that cannot help but spread the only message that will matter in the end.

When my alarm goes off tomorrow morning, I will rise and grab a necessary cup of coffee. I then will settle into my chair and encounter love. It is the best way to start any day. I will remember these words too, “Because of the LORD’s faithful love we do not perish, for His mercies never end. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:22-23).