“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.
“And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love.” – 1 John 4:16
Waiting in line to pick up the kids from school the other day, I heard a great verse on the radio and I needed the reminder, “God is love.” I looked up the verse and saw this phrase mentioned more than once in this chapter. Another verse stuck out to me, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” (vs. 18). I needed these words from our God. It also helped me recognize that anytime fear is used as a means of control, it is not from God.
I might have told you this before, but even the word “love” is a big deal to me. When my husband and I started dating, he told me he would never tell me he loved me, unless he was going to back it up with, “Will you marry me?”. There is a commitment that goes with love and he wanted to follow through. There is also security that comes with love and it makes all the difference to ones heart. Fear is not part of the equation in love. And anytime fear is used, recognize it for the weapon it is to manipulate and control behavior, feelings, actions and support for negative. Love has the same effect but for good.
As we go throughout our day, let us be mindful of our words, actions and intake. Run them all through the filter of love. Test them to see if they are rooted in fear or love. You might be surprised. And another measure is found in 1 Corinthians 13:7-8. Real love can make all the difference and we can rely on the love of God, for it is who He is.
“If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, if you spend yourselvesin behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your lightwill rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday. The LORD will guide you always; He will satisfy your needs…” (Isaiah58:9-11).
One of the kids asked me to pick her up in a different spot yesterday so she could have more time with her friends. An easy request. I pulled into the parking lot and out of the corner of my eye, saw something red on the curb down the way. This object began to move and I realized it was a child in a red sweatshirt! I watched for a minute to see if they would get up, but nothing happened. Nobody seemed to see what was going on. I drove down there and went to the child. He was walking home and had tripped in this hole and could not get up. He was on the phone with a friend. We talked for a minute as I helped him up. Turns out he is in the same grade as one of our kids. He was hurt and did not think he could walk the rest of the way home. He said I could just take him.
I told him we needed to call his mom, but we did not get ahold of her. His friend did not answer again either. Finally, his friends mom came to pick him up and I was thankful, but of course my mind went a million directions. If he so easily wanted to get in the car with me, a stranger, how easy could harm have come to him if it had been someone else? He was left unprotected. How many more children suffer the same?
A prayer quickly formed of protection for this sweet boy and the many others who go unseen by us, but are an easy target for evil. Lord, give us eyes to see. Take our attention away from what is distracting us and give us clear vision to see the oppressed, hungry and unprotected. May the evil one not gain another child today. Shine Your light in the dark and guide us to the unseen today. And when we see someone in need, may we not ask them to qualify their need or think over if they are worthy of our love, but let us serve them like Jesus. Love in action. In His mighty Name we pray, Amen.