“What you are in love with decides what you live for.” -Ann Voskamp
Such a thought provoking question, that can make you stop and truly decide what you love, don’t you think? It did for me when I read it. What do I love with all my heart? There are not qualifiers, just the question. What would be your answer? I know my answer would be different now that it was years ago. Knowing what one would want to hear would have come tumbling out, but that was based on my desire to win/earn my worth from whomever happened to be in front of me.
Because of what the Lord in His love has given and taken away, I can honestly say it is Him that I love with all my heart. It is out of this love that makes all the difference in how I live. Perfectly without sin? Are you kidding me?! Did you hear me let the boys have it when they were fighting on their top bunk bed? Were you in my thoughts as I had doubts or an unkind thought towards a person? Did you see my frustration with one child who struggles with wanting to dress like a princess, but finds the clothing much too uncomfortable and makes getting ready for school a royal nightmare? If I could design a children’s clothing line that was comfortable, beautiful and affordable, you bet I would!
No, deciding what we love does not leave us without sin, but it sure shapes our heart differently and repentance springs forth much easier. To have anything between you and your first love just it too painful. So maybe today as your time allows, ask yourself what you are in love with and see how it has shaped what you live for. Be honest, He knows and loves you just the same.
“From His fullness we have all received grace upon grace.” John 1:16
One of our children had their first car accident last night. They ended up in a ditch, tried to get out and in the process leveled a stone mailbox. It was at this point, while still in the ditch, they called their dad. He was on the scene quickly and got the car back on level ground. The homeowners, friends of ours, were beyond gracious and rebuilding will happen soon. No one was hurt and an incredible lesson was learned.
There are times in this life where we all end up in a ditch. All kinds of reasons put us there, but our response will make all the difference. What this child learned last night is that once they found themselves stuck, the first thing they needed to do was call their dad. In calling for help, the car and mailbox would have been unharmed. We talked about the importance of calling out to our Heavenly Father for help right away. Our self efforts fall short and no amount of striving will work. It is a matter of time before you end up in the same ditch. In calling out we get to experience “grace upon grace” that our God is known for and is beyond amazing. The choice is always ours to make. Give Him a chance to demonstrate today.
Yesterday I got the opportunity to spend the day with some sweet two year olds. Each child was so different. Personalities ranged from outgoing and friendly to quiet and comforting. One would pat me on the back like I need consoling, it was precious. Most of them trusted me right away, asked questions or wanted to just be held. Just a few years old, still so shiny and new. I prayed for the kids silently and would encourage with words the smallest of accomplishment. And it all made me feel think, can we go back to that as adults?
The biggest argument for a quick no response to that question would be how impossible this would be because of the world in which we live. While I can see that point, I have another idea that began to form while listening to a short teaching on leading by Paul David Tripp. He gave an incredible case for humility. Each byproduct of true, biblical humility reminded me of these kids. They were loving, quick to forgive, did not care if they were first or last and for the most part, got along just fine. They were not after their own glory, but wanted to make me smile. I had a clear shield on so they would be sure to see.
If perhaps we are feeling pretty negative about our current world, ourselves or others, could humility be the key to take us back to that childlike faith? Like the kids yesterday, they were provided for and cared for by their parents. Is our Heavenly Father not able to care and provide for us? I have my doubts sometimes when things do not add up or my heart hurts, but I have seen enough to know He does. What about you?
“Fear disrupts faith and becomes the biggest obstacle to trusting and obeying God.” -JohnOrtberg
Some months back my uncle sent me a book about fear and faith. It’s one of those reads that you take a bit at a time because it causes questions to arise. Some answers do not come quickly, but as you keep walking by faith. The timing is perfect for the days we are all living.
What is causing you to fear? Have you been up against this fear before? What was the outcome? Is there anything you need to do differently this time around? From my years of walking with God, I can honestly say He is the God of second chances. He has given me more chances than I deserve to trust Him, not what I can see. So often my first response is fear, but it never feels right. When I shift into faith, I know this is truth to live.
So friend, I do not know what is causing you to fear, but I pray we see it as the obstacle it is and choose faith. It takes practice as most things do. And years down the road, maybe we can write our own books accounting God’s faithfulness during the year of 2020.
*Thank you Uncle Doug for sending If You Want to Walk on Water, You’ve Got to Get Out of the Boat.
Simple words can be quick on the tongue, but actions that follow our words come a little slower. When we add a big word like trust, there might be much to sort through and some questions to ask. What happened the last time we trusted? What is the track record of the object of our trust? What is my track record with trust? Misplaced trust can leave a scar a mile wide on us or them. Perhaps we were not meant to carry or to place such an important responsibility on us or them. Now, do not think I am flinging the gate open wide on relationships, jobs or responsibilities. No, more of a completion of our heart.
When we talk about our God, He is another story. He alone is worthy of all our trust and the only safe holder of our trust. He does something in our hearts that nothing created can do. Friend, I pray you know Him to be trustworthy today.
“Benaiah son of Jehoiada, a valiant fighter from Kabzeel, performed great exploits. He struck down Moab’s two mightiest warriors. He also went down into a pit on a snowy day and killed a lion.” 1 Chronicles 11:22
Can you imagine being the mom or dad of Benaiah? Me either. What did they say or do to instill such courage? His father was obviously a courageous man, but Benaiah seems to have exceeded him. He was recognized as one of King David’s mighty warriors and “held in great honor” (11:25). While I highly doubt there were any warrior parenting books published during this time, I have to believe they used God’s word to train this man of courage.
If we look back, we read perhaps a bit of the words taught to Benaiah. “Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” (Deuteronomy 6:5). There was nothing about a person that did not belong to the Lord. Should we be any different now? The answer is no. We can go on and read more parenting wisdom that should apply to us today as well. I will summarize verses 6-25 if I can. Talk about what the Lord requires often with your children. Do not forget the Lord and never serve another, for God is jealous for what belongs to Him. Do what is right in God’s sight, not what everyone else does. We were once slaves, but God has set us free and we are to live accordingly. Incredible wisdom in just one short chapter.
Friends, our children are facing battles we never dreamed of when we were growing up. Are we training them to go the way of the world or are we raising mighty men and women who love God with all heart, mind and strength? It takes an enormous amount of time and attention. It is pretty consuming to be honest. However, it is worthy work and when I see someone investing in what will matter in eternity, I try and say something. Everyone needs encouragement until we see our King, whom we serve, face to face. Keep going!!
“Then I said to them, ‘You see the trouble we are in: Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been burned with fire. Come, let us rebuild…” Nehemiah 2:17
I found myself studying Nehemiah again this morning, for it is one of my favorite books. My Bible was still open as I picked up the book a group of us girls are studying entitled Be the Bridge. It is an interesting perspective from one brave lady about approaching this great race divide with humility and the gospel. The comparison between her and Nehemiah came into focus. Both are looking at the brokenness surroundings them and both are inviting us to rebuild with them. The choice was theirs and it is ours as well.
Perhaps we will answer like Nehemiah, “The God of heaven will give us success. We his servants will start rebuilding…” (2:20). It is going to take some people surveying the damage, asking the Lord for wisdom and everyone willing to rebuild. There is and will be opposition by many. There will be ones that deny that anything is broken. Maybe even ones just looking for a place to vent their anger, any cause will do. But the builders will come with humility to the table, talk about what needs be done and get to work. No more excuses, just a determination to see people made in the image of God and love accordingly.
In humility, seeing people of great value, could change everything. Think about it. We can start with the smallest and allow babies to be born, abortion would end. Girls and boys would no longer be sold, trafficked for labor or sex. Families would put each other as priority and children would know their worth from the get go. Our educational system would change and truth would be taught in every classroom. Everything could be effected if only….
Have you ever spent time with a creative person? They are fascinating people I have to say. I am pretty sure the Lord made them to highlight beauty, another side of Himself. How hands can put paint to canvas and produce His reflection, astonishes me. Maybe that is why museums are such visited places throughout the world, everyone is wanting to catch a glimpse of Him, they just don’t always know it.
I visited with an artist today. Took a tour of her studio and found even the floors were beautiful with their drips of run off paint. The colors all just seemed to have landed perfectly. She sent me home with a watercolor set and a jar of pastels for the kids. You would have thought it was Christmas morning when they looked in the bag and saw the treasures. Snack time was put on hold, while paper was pulled out and creating began. It made me smile.
Watching their freedom astonishes me. They did not hesitate to put a gift into use and took delight in the process. They invited me to join them and I quickly jumped in, but my marks looked stiff and far from carefree. Words are my brush and for that I am thankful. Maybe we all have a bit of creativity inside of us, we just have to find it buried beneath the layers of grown up stuff. Because in the creating we are reflecting.
“I will provide rain for your land in the proper time, the autumn and spring rains, and you will harvest your grain, new wine and fresh oil.” Deuteronomy 11:14
We have been living in over 100 degree days. There are cracks in the ground because of the lack of water. Front lawns were starting to look burned, regardless of how hard your sprinkler system worked. And we didn’t really want to use up precious water on what will not last. And then just like that something happened. A cool breeze blew in earlier today and just now the sky opened up. It is pouring rain as I write. What a wonderful sound!
As I listen and watch the rain come down, I am grateful. It has been a dry season for many of us. It has taken a toll on our emotions, wouldn’t you say? The isolation, uncertainties and masks are not soul healthy. While it may help prevent physical sickness, it puts another barrier between people. Go too long and we forget the sound of unmuffled voices, smiles and hugs. No, this is not healthy living, for we were made for more.
So the rain comes, provided by God, and it waters the cracked earth and my thirsty heart. The thunder and lighting remind me of His power and control over all. One of my kids comes beside me and says the rain is a fortune. He knows the value of what God provides. Another leans in for a hug and asks if we can eat dinner on the back porch. I think we will and soak it all up; for it came at just the right time. May what He provides give you all your heart needs today.