“But now, thus says the Lord, who created you, O Jacob, and He who formed you, O Israel: ‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are mine.” Isaiah 43:1
A few months ago are family got a new dog. He came with a great name but would not respond to it. We tried out a few new names and still nothing. We all agreed on Charlie and began to say it an obnoxious amount of times. We gave treats and encouragement but still no response. We kept at it and I am happy to report he now knows his name.
Another challenge when our dog was new is he likes to run and is incredibly fast. A few times he escaped and was hard to catch. It was all a game to him and he was unaware of the danger outside of our fence. He doesn’t do that anymore.
Do you want to know what I think made all the difference? Charlie knows he belongs to us and is loved. He is taken care of, played with and spoken to with kind words. He is disciplined appropriately and is still learning shoes are not chew toys. He has really taken to one of our girls, who needed him the most. He seems to know these kind of things. I have heard about other dogs with this strong sense of knowing who needs care.
What I have watched in a dog, I have seen in my own life. Knowing to whom I belong, that I am loved beyond measure, known by name and have no reason to fear, has made all the difference. My Heavenly Father is well able to take care of what belongs to Him. I accept His discipline because I know He loves me too much not to. Friend, if you do not know this kind of love, acceptance and belonging, I pray you will not waste another day running. There is nothing like being known by your Redeemer.
This may seem odd, but everyday I receive a short video on a different business topic. While I do not work outside of our home or own any kind of company, I translate what I learn to either parenting or kingdom building. It is actually one in the same. Today’s topic was on changing someone’s mind and it was fascinating. He talked about how we cannot control others, but we can show respect. He talked about standing firm on our beliefs, but affirming the other person; which we can do by calling out what we see good in them. He even gave an incredible political example that I had not heard about.
The reality is we are not going to win anyone over by hate or ridicule are we? We each come to the table with our own opinions, that have been shaped by many different factors. We place so much trust in our need to control, to be right and underlining fears, that we run over hearts in my opinion. Is this what we want to be known for or is there another way?
Friend, if we answer the question “What confidence is this in which you trust?” (Isaiah 36:4), with anything other than God, we are on shaky ground. Our pastor reminded us of this just yesterday. The choice is ours to make each day, each conversation. May the God who gave us minds to think and hearts to feel, remind us of who we are and in whom we trust.
It has been a week full of grace. The kindness that has been shown to our family has been grace on display. Because the truth is change, good, bad or a bit of both, is not easy. Moving a child into college is good, but takes a toll on everyone involved in every way. Nothing is spared. Having children start a very different looking school year, is hard and takes time to navigate. All of this marked our week and so did grace.
And this is what I know going into the coming week, grace is wonderful to give and to receive. Grace is undeserved, but given anyway. It has looked a bit like friends asking questions and listening. It has been sweet texts and prayers daily. It has been coffee with friends and slower walks. It has been phone calls from a lonely dorm room, but many encouraging events of long days.
Grace has also shown up in the classrooms of our other children. It has been hearing teachers talk with kindness during remote learning days. It has been times of one on one with the kids, as we have slowly rolled into this school year. It has been watching one son get up before dawn, drive off on his own to go run effortless miles. It has been walking alongside one child entering high school and another middle school; major change for them too. Grace to not make their transitions any less important.
It has been a week of taking more than giving, but there is grace for that too. I would probably get uncomfortable to stay in the place of always receiving, so this coming week will be different. For I know that He will supply the grace I need to give away; it is His anyways. “My grace is sufficient for you…” (2 Corinthians 12:9).
*Our middle school girl took this the other day:)
“No, O people, the LORD has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8
Do you like to know what is expected right from the start? Similar to when our kids go back to school and the teacher gives them a syllabus for the year, we have been given one for life in this verse. We may fail, act in a way we should not, say things that are hurtful or turn our backs on love itself, but there is forgiveness for each one. There will probably be consequences, but there is grace in the midst.
As the new school year begins, maybe we should go back to class ourselves. If there are some subjects we are rusty in, like mercy and humility, I know a great place to learn. Open the scriptures and hear the Lord speak to you. Pray and ask for His help. He knows what is good and the best way for us to live. Who knows, He may even put us to work this year as the teachers aid, showing others love. Serving is a great place to start.
*Picture is from our oldest daughters Bible study group. The ones leaving for college, wash the feet of those still in school. Beautiful example!
“And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on His name.” Acts 22:16
I read this verse in a devotional book recently and appreciated the simple, get to the heart words spoken. Maybe you are a bit like me and have spent too much time waiting around instead of diving in. Our reasons might be different, but we wait nonetheless. Sometimes the Lord has us to wait, but there is usually something while we wait. Have you asked Him what that might be?
Perhaps you are waiting to be invited in and stand on the sidelines watching. Have you turned to those beside you and spoken a kind word of encouragement? Helps get your eyes off of yourself and onto those right in front of you. Trust me, I stayed self absorbed way too long. Do those beside you have a need you could meet? Get creative and help meet that need, let them know you see them. Just whatever you do, please do not be critical. You never know if those fellow side liners are just resting a minute, worn out from battles you have no idea about.
There is another idea to consider. What if you are waiting because of past sin that you think disqualified you? Have you confessed your sin to the Lord? Have you repented and turned? Do you need to ask another to forgive you? Have you done that yet? What are you waiting for? We are not always right. Imagine the weight that would lift from your shoulders if you confessed. Then maybe you would be able to get up, washed, free and truly able to love. And this I can say for certain, “her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.” (Luke 7:47). If you need help, look for those who love well.
“No one lights a lamp and hides it in a clay jar or puts it under a bed. Instead, they put it on a stand, so that those who come in can see the light.” Luke 8:16
The day is fast approaching where we will take our oldest “light” and place her in a tiny college dorm. While I would love to keep her at home, it would be like trying to hide her away. Much has been placed inside of her and it is time. A prayer for her is that everyone she comes in contact with see and feel, the light of Christ inside of her. Her smile may be masked, but her eyes sparkle with love. May she continue to love out of the overflow of her Savior. May she give grace in abundance, because she remembers the grace she has been shown. For those who do not yet know the Lord, I pray that her light makes them curious enough to find out why. And may the Lord bless her in abundance with friends that shine with the same light. It is not easy, but I am going to let you shine and keep fanning into flame that which the Lord ignited long ago.
*Picture by Corrimages
I find it quite amazing how one person can share a few words that change the narrative completely. We were talking about moving and she shared some advice she had been given. It went something like this, “Do not waste time adjusting. Go ahead and jump in where God has you.” Unbelievable right?
All of us are in the ever changing pandemic days. Some of us are moving or have moved into new chapters of our story. Are we going to jump in, keep looking back or dreading what is right around the corner? Honestly, I have been in a pit of grief looking ahead. My friend unknowingly tossed down a rope into my pit with her words and I chose to climb out. It shifted something in my mind and then heart. It feels like I can breath again!
Hope this helped you as much as it did me:)
“This is the message you have heard from the beginning: We should love one another.” 1 John 3:11
Are there times you wish you could go back in time and start over? Maybe back to the beginning? If you could go back, what would you do differently? Perhaps you are like me and wish you would have loved better. I can mark the time in my life that I was out of my element, became very closed off and did not love well. Can I tell you that there is so much heartache written on those pages of my story. However, there is much wisdom gained, insight too and I use it all as a mom. Makes those years seem redeemed and not wasted.
Since we cannot go back and today matters, why don’t we commit to what we have learned from the beginning – to love one another. What does that look like today for you? I know for me it means watching my words spoken and thoughts. It means putting others before myself, even when I am tired. It means not being distracted by my phone, when my family is right in front of me. There are many ways we can love one another and today is a good day to love well. You never know the difference it might make to someone else.
*I took this picture the other day while riding along towards home.
“But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put him on his donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him…Go and do likewise.” Luke 10:33-37
Jesus is an incredible storyteller. He never seems to waste words and takes every opportunity to teach us more of what it looks like to follow Him. How many times have you heard or read the story He told about the Good Samaritan who showed mercy? Sometimes one part of it stands out and another time, something completely different. Several things hit me today, but right now I am thinking about how this injured man was traveling along and “fell into the hands of robbers” (Luke 10:36). He lays there helpless and is passed by. Then a man comes along and uses his hands to tend wounds and move him to safety.
Where do you see yourself in the story? I have been all the characters it seems. Sometimes the one that passed by and another, the one on the side of the road. Even the one who injures and then the one that shows mercy. The man might not have been able to prevent the attack, but the ones that saw him had a choice to make. They had to decide what they would do with their hands. It seems like in the end, the heart that was full of mercy used his hands to heal. May we each go and do likewise.
“What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine and go to the mountains to seek the one that is straying?” Matthew 18:12
We were out on our morning walk and saw something that made me think of this verse. Across from our neighborhood, there is a home on a large piece of beautiful land with lots of trees. The owner had brought out a container of water and was carefully inspecting this one, small tree. Out of all the trees on his land, he noticed the one that was not doing well and watered it. He was taking care of what belonged to him.
Doesn’t this make you think of our Heavenly Father? When He sees the condition of our hearts and the thoughts, actions and words that flow from it, He knows if we are living as His beloved. How incredible it is to have a Father that seeks us out and uses many different ways to remind us of who and whose we are. We all go astray and some stay away longer than others, but do not think for a minute that He is not wanting to bring you back into the fold. We are not meant to be apart from Him or others. So where ever you are today, I pray you experience the tender grace and care of the One to whom you belong.