“Acknowledge and take to heart this day that the LORD is God in heaven above and on the earth below. There is no other.” Deuteronomy 4:39
A song came on this morning, that I have not heard in awhile and it immediately took me back. There is a line that says, “Remember that your God and I am not”. When unbelievable losses knocked me to the ground, my prayer became, “You are God and I am not”. Over and over I prayed, reminding myself of who He was and who I was not. I could not see the future and pain was very present. It was then that the start of coming to terms with my true identity began to take shape. I have never been the same.
So often we think we know what would be best and make all kinds of plans. Our identity can get wrapped up in those plans, but what happens when they fall apart? Will we trust God to be God or trust in our limited vision? Will we trust that we are loved by God and He has plans for us? If we decided this is true, now what? I cannot give you a plan, but I can tell you it changes your heart and vision. Life stops being about you and people become precious, worthy of your time. You begin to see evidence of God all over the place and it makes you smile. In acknowledging God to be God you are now free to be you, a child of the King and completely dependent on Him.
I have found myself back in preschool again this week for a few days. I will say I think teachers are incredible! The responsibility of getting to be apart of a child’s identity and how they approach learning, is quite a privilege. The picture of tossing out seeds comes to mind. My job has been more of the kindness and encouragement kind of seeds. Maybe it is my age, seeing how fast the early years of childhood go by and I just do not want to rush them to grow up. Too soon they will be sitting in desks, taking tests and wondering if they fit in. The more good seeds the better!
Watching how excited they get over learning colors and building a train track is pretty fun. Helping each other and getting the color of the week right, get equal praise from me. The more books you can read the better because one character can inspire a later passion. Please and thank you go along way. Letting them know you trust them and do not want to change who they are, is a top priority. How boring a classroom would be if everyone were the same and talked just like me!
I have absolutely no desire to leave my career of being a stay-at-home mom, but I am thankful for these times to invest in others. They will not remember a substitute, but maybe the seeds sown will.
“After I looked thingsover, I stood up and said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, “Don’t be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your families, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes.” Nehemiah 4:14
I think if I were talking to a group of dads, this would be one of the verses I gave them to commit to memory. This was spoken by Nehemiah during the days of rebuilding, when all manner of attacks were coming against the people of Jerusalem. He was encouraging them to remember who God is, to see past what was against them and fight. Their time of rebuilding was not easy, but would serve generations to come. The work was to be completed regardless of the opposition. This had to resonate with who God had made them to be.
Times have not changed that much. Men are still men and battles rage against the family today. When a man pushes back against what culture is selling and goes the way of God, the way of truth, his family is different. They are not perfect and kids make their own decisions, but I find hope in this verse. Perhaps you see a call to action too.
I also see an important roll for women to play. We can cheer men on to be who they were created to be and not get in the way. We can let them lead and pray for them often. We are not always right. Who knows the impact we could have on the generations to come. I think they are worth fighting for.
We are going through the book of Nehemiah with our church and were asked a question yesterday, “What makes you weep?”. What a great question to reveal our heart. It took me awhile to sort through the things that not just make me sad, but break my heart enough to weep over them. A few that surfaced were over those who live in fear, believe a lie about their identity and live accordingly and for those that are unprotected in our world. And what made the top of the list, that these kind of branch off from, would be that I weep over the millions of people that do not know the unconditional love of God. I do not just mean those that are not Christians yet, but Christians that still live like orphans without a Father. It took me along time to finally get my heart aligned to the fact that I am a child of God. There just seemed to be so much more I need to do and not do.
I do not know what your plans are for this evening, but may I invite you to ask yourself the same question? What makes you weep? When you get the answer, it helps in giving you direction in places to serve. These days I can spot a heart pretty quick that knows they are unconditionally loved. They have this peace and light about them. You want to be in their company. Friend, I pray you know this to be true of you too.
“We all eat untruths when our hearts are hungry” -The Old Try
One of our main expenses is food and we seem to be buying groceries all the time. Someone is always hungry and dinner happens every night. I like to feed the kids healthy things, but chips get packed in lunch boxes too. One boy would live off chips if allowed. In fact, he filled a bowl up today of his favorite snack and I adjusted the portion. This did not go well and he ended up without. We talked about how God designed our bodies to run on good things and eating too much salt and chemicals will cause all kinds of problems. Even our eating is important to the One who designed us.
You know when you are hungry and need food quick, but do not have vegetables cut up, so you reach for something unhealthy? The same can be said when our hearts are hurting, afraid, lonely or empty. We reach for an untruth and live accordingly. Oftentimes familiar untruths satisfy or comfort us and truth would be uncomfortable. However, just with any diet adjustment, the longer you stick with it, the easier it gets and results follow.
So as the weekend winds down and we look to the week ahead, how about we decide to feed our minds and hearts with truth. When fear, shame, anger or insecurity come, we can have scripture ready and let God’s word remind us of truth. It will take some adjusting, but you will notice a difference and before long others will too.
Another day in preschool and another observation. Not one of the children asked about the still healing scar on my left hand. I served snacks, opened juice boxes and water bottles, built with blocks and held hands. It made me think that hands that help or hold do not have to be perfect, only available. There were plenty of things I got wrong and we might have had to be reminded to put our coats on when we got outside, but escaping to the playground was needed by us all.
So maybe this week we can all look for ways to use even what is scarred and maybe still healing to serve others. Many are hurting or struggling and being available could make all the difference. Perfection is not necessary, so that takes the pressure off us all. Who knows? Maybe seeing your scars might make them tell you about theirs.
“And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” John 14:3
I got another opportunity to be a substitute again today at the preschool. I noticed much and smiled often. You know, no child doubts their mom or dad will not come back to pick them up. They trust them, even when they cannot see them. Some are a bit sad, but they get busy with what is in front of them. They make friends, learn to share, help each other, laugh, play and eat together. They listen to stories and tell many of their own. They find common ground and shared experiences. They are carefree and honest. We need to go back to being more childlike.
Jesus told us that He will come back for us and He cannot lie. He has left us with the Holy Spirit and given each of us purpose. We cannot see Him, but we can read His word, talk to Him, and meet together to learn and worship. While we are not yet in our final home, we can be living very meaningful lives and getting ready for eternity. When we know what is to come, we make different choices, invite others to hear the Good News and share meals with those who need fellowship and just for fun. We exchange stories and maybe find some common ground. Perhaps we even find people who are passionate about serving too.
You know, maybe we all need to go back to preschool and unlearn some of the things we have taken hold of that keep us divided and not seeing others. Might make for more peaceful days ahead.
“Those who have a strongsense of love and belonging have the courage to beimperfect.” -Brene Brown
It is not everyday that I get to be a substitute preschool teacher, but when I do, I take it all in. Our kids are getting older, so it is fun to be surrounded by younger kids. They say the best things and enjoy simply playing with their friends. They laugh at nothing and think you have the best ideas. Their imagination is huge and they invite you to join them. Some are carefree and others a bit more serious. You can catch a glimpse of who they are becoming and that is a gift.
A few mistakes were made and we worked that out. Once two friends talked, we moved along and kept playing. Some showed me their new shoes and wondered if they would be faster. One was pretty excited about zipping her own jacket. Reading books together was a lot of fun, but I will admit to summarizing a few pages. We built a city and it was a busy place. Dinosaurs were on the edge of the city, but never made their way in. A cat might have driven a car, but why not?
The day was simple and lively. We were all tired by the time the day ended. And I will be praying for these sweet kids tonight. For them to remain forgiving, welcoming and kind as they grow up. May they know how valuable and unique they are and come to know the Lord. I pray they love God with all their heart and live to serve Him. What a difference and impact they could make for the Kingdom!
“May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us – yes, establish the work of our hands.” Psalm 90:17
Tomorrow our country will welcome a new leader. Some are excited and some are not, but he is coming into office none the less. Some will rejoice and some will we be afraid. Will we point fingers, blame and continue to divide our country or will we pray? Will we stand up for what the Bible says or will we join in the noise of the world?
There is plenty of work that needs to be done and pointing fingers, breaking into a government building and stirring up with words has not accomplished one thing in my opinion. Instead, may we unite in praying for the Lord’s favor? May we join together and ask for Him to establish work for each of us that is for the good of others. Perhaps you have a family member you could help in some way. Maybe a neighbor needs help on a home repair or a mom could use help teaching her children a skill you happen to know well. How much could we repair or build with our hands in the days ahead? It is past time to put up our political signs and give our hands to Kingdom work. It is time to work.
Today is Martin Luther King, Jr day and many are quoting his amazing words. He really was an incredible leader. One of the kids asked if I thought his mission failed because he died; I said no way! He served as an example to many while he was alive by putting faith into action for the good of others. He was used to shine light in horribly dark places, actions, mindsets and laws of our country. We are changed as a nation because of the leadership of this man. We should all be grateful.
As I was thinking about the significance of this day, the thought occurred to me that I would have liked to have met his mom. I would have asked questions about their home life and the conversations that must have taken place. I would have asked about the seeds she planted in his young heart. He wrote about his mom that she “was behind the scenes setting forth those motherly cares, the lack of which leaves a missing link in life.” This gives a bit of a glimpse of who she must have been and the way she served her family. She had no idea who her son would become.
As a mom we have many opportunities to plant seeds for good in our children. We sat around the table the other night and did just that. We talked about identity and one of the younger kids said something I will never forget, “Mom, tell me who I am.” Are not all kids asking the same question? If we do not tell them, then who?
Dr. King knew who God created him to be and lived his life as a servant. He did not seem to be concerned about others liking him, accepting him or approving of the suit he wore. He was set on a mission and God used him in remarkable ways. I pray the Lord raises up more men and women with such a mission for we are not where we need to be as a country. And I am asking the Lord to start in our homes.
*I took this picture last night as we drove into our driveway.