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!