New Wine

Sometimes we sing a new song at church and I feel like I have finally been given the words my heart could not find. This happened a few weeks ago when we had New Wine, by Hillsong, sung over us. We have sung it since and it has been on constant play here. The words are powerful and real. If I had confidence in my waterproof mascara that day, I would have let myself weep. That would come early the next morning.

IMG_9015The song begins describing the season we seem to have been in since early December. “In the crushing, in the pressing, You are making new wine out of me. In the soil I now surrender. You are breaking new ground.” It describes pain, but the promise of something new. I am pretty certain none of us would sign up for anything that would press and crush us, but it happens whether we enroll or not. However, keep reading and in the surrender, new ground and wine are the result. The key is surrender.

What comes next has been the words that describe my hearts response in this season. “So I yield to You and to Your careful hand. When I trust You, I don’t need to understand.” This part I learned in the last time of “wine making”. The theme song for the last time was, “Thy Will” by Hillary Scott. The line I clung to was, “Remember You are God and I am not”. Over and over I repeated that in my head and heart. It seemed to be the only way. In the yielding, trust grew because I knew whose hands I was placing my heart in again.

Keep going and hear my prayer. “Make me Your vessel. Make me an offering. Make me whatever You want me to be. I came here with nothing, but all You have given me. Jesus bring new wine out of me.” I really do not want any of my old self in this new vessel. If you have tasted even a sip of bitterness, selfishness, anger and pride you can understand. Also, all we have belongs to God. Trying to control and hoard what He has given us, tastes like spoiled wine when withheld from others. What a waste of good grapes. Just think what could have been enjoyed…

“Where there is new wine, there is new power. There is new freedom. The Kingdom is here. I lay down my old flames to carry Your new fire today.” So, if we have surrendered in the pressing and crushing, then new power, freedom and His Kingdom is what is available. And if that were not enough, our small flames we have clung to can be ungraded to a new fire! The picture of the light from a tiny match compared to a beautiful fire pit comes to mind. Now, gathered around that and a good glass of wine sounds pretty inviting.

I do not know where each of you are today, but I have given you a glimpse of where I am. Knowing this, think how fun it was to go into my favorite store, Simple Things, and see a beautiful display of grapevines bearing grapes! The owner told me he found them across the street, wrapped around a telephone pole. I took it as the Lord communicating to me that He does see me. In seeing me, I am reminded of His love for me. He is trustworthy and a good God, especially in this season of making new wine.

 

The Longest Day

I am in the midst of the longest day of the year. The time between dropping the kids off on their first day of school and the hours until pick up, seem to go so slow. The minutes tick by, as I wait to see their faces right out of the school doors. It is that first expression that tells me everything. All the details will follow and I love to listen. Some of the kids give more than others, but I know them well and can hear what is not said. Who did they sit by at lunch? Did they actually get a locker this year? Did you find a good parking place? How was athletics? Did you make new friends? These questions and a million more are just waiting to be asked.

IMG_8975My heart and head have a difficult time trusting the Lord completely today. Yes, they are completely His and He has all their days planned, even today. I just have not read all these plans and my heart and head are being asked to trust Him. So the question that I ask Him today is, “Are you trustworthy”? Another one that comes to mind is, “Do you really love my children as much as I do”? Guess what I get as the answer? Right away my mind flashes a picture of Jesus dying on the cross. Words do not need to be spoken here, I know Him well. This picture is very familiar to me. Because when I catch a glimpse of the cross, I see just how much He loves me and my children.

Days may not go as planned or they might exceed my dreams, but with each one I know He is trustworthy. Today I will repeat Psalm 56:4 that says, “In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me?” The teacher that is difficult or the kid that seems to have it out for one of my kids is not to be feared. Our trust will be placed in God today. And as Eli reminded me the other day, “we need to have shields of confidence and confidence is trust”. That kid had his shield firmly in place as he walked into kindergarten today! I will keep mine in place too and go do some laundry to pass the time.

*The picture is Vivian making Eli’s lunch for him:)

 

The Door

The most unexpected thing happened today. Our oldest daughter has been practicing to tryout for the high school worship team at church. She loves music and singing is one way she gives her worship to our Lord. Oh, I wish you could have been in our home last IMG_8949night during her last practice time! My husband is gifted in music and so are many of our kids. Our kitchen became filled with praise and voices were acoustically mixed together. The sound was beautiful! At one point, Maggie and I had to just stop because trying to sing or in my case chop up a salad, is near impossible when your eyes are filled with tears of joy. This moment served as yet another reminder that worship is so much apart of our everyday life, especially in our home. How can we live any other way? How can we not respond to the love of our God?

This morning I offered to drive her to the audition and Vivian tagged along. She claimed it was her day, but Maggie could come too. I had not planned on going inside, but we saw a dear friend in the parking lot so in we went. A young worship leader spotted Maggie waiting and came out to visit. Such simple encouragement was spoken, but it hit me big time. He said, “At some point you just have to decide not to be nervous.” What? Could it really be that simple? So, you just decide to not let fear control you and you step out and try? And here I thought it was Maggie’s audition and I was just along for the ride.

If that would have been the end of the conversation, enough would have been said and I would have walked away blessed. However, my stomach was in a knot and my nerves were a mess. Watching Maggie walk through the door to go tryout sent me back to when I was about 10 years old. I spent hours practicing and singing along with Amy Grant to audition for a musical at my church. My dad worked with me and I felt ready. My mom drove me to the audition and I was extremely nervous. I hopped out of the car, walked into church and right up to the closed door. All I had to do was open the door and sing for a chance at a part in the musical. I walked up to the door, but chose not to open it. I  turned and walked away – defeated.

Fast forward thirty three years later and I watched my daughter open the door. Yes, she was still nervous and afraid of messing up, but she did not let fear stop her from trying. (Ironically, one of the songs she sang today is by Hillsong called “Who You Say I Am” and you need to listen to it.)While I could turn this back on me and wonder what would have happened if I had walked through my audition door, I choose not too. Instead, what I celebrate is fear not having the final word. Not today and not any other day.

We read in 1 John 4:18, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.” My daughter does not let fear rule her and it is because she knows she is loved. She is loved by us, but more importantly by her Heavenly Father. I have said it before and I will say it again, knowing and believing you are loved, makes all the difference. Only His love is perfect and has the power to cast out all fear.

Home is where our children hear and are shown that they are loved by God. It might be around our table or standing in the kitchen, but our home will be a place where love is lived out daily. We make lots of mistakes and forget that we are loved. In the forgetting, we say hurtful things and act selfishly. In the forgetting, we let fear rule our hearts and we live accordingly. I say not in this home. Love is deeply rooted and lived as a response to God’s abundant love for us here.

Doors will continue to stand before each of my children. Some doors will open and some will not. As their mom, one of my prayers for them is that they will trust their loving God in the walking through the door or onto the next one. I pray they remain fearless and brave because they know they are loved. His love is perfect, so walk in it kids and never let fear tell you otherwise.

*The picture is Vivian watching Maggie audition today.

 

Summers End

I really do not like this time of year, when summer is coming to an end and the school year begins. Yes, there is nothing like freshly sharpened new pencils and granted some of the kids are excited, but some are not. What I will miss is all of us being together more than we are apart. With so many waking hours being spent at school, I miss them. The times around the table happen only at dinner and this is something we feel strongly about. We intentionally do not pack our schedules because this time is counted as highly valuable. Believe me it is not because I am that great of a cook, but what happens around the table matters.

We had a rough day yesterday and words seemed to be spoken to hurt. Not really sure why, other than we decided to give into sin and threw self-control out the window. So, to get our hearts back in line with Jesus, we tried something normally done only on birthdays. We had the kids speak kind words about each other. Around and around we went and it was good. It made them laugh and was a bit uncomfortable at times, but the more we practice speaking words of love, the easier it gets. This will no longer be saved for birthdays, but will become common. The memory made was a beginning.

Before we take off into a new school year, more memories need to be packed in. I am taking time with each kid one at a time and doing something special. Anna Kate and I visited her favorite museum, had lunch and shopped for her first day outfit. I love hearing her insight on works of art and sharing in her excitement in finding her unique style. We talk about the little things and the big things. She will be starting middle school and that is a pretty big deal. She is a bit shy and not one to demand attention, which makes her go unnoticed at times. She needs to be reminded that this is a good thing and how God made her. She does not need to change to fit in.

Jackson and I spent the day looking for deals on back to school clothes. He grows so fast that it is hard to keep up with his ever changing height. We tried a new restaurant and laughed a lot. He is witty, kind and fun when he relaxes. He is quite a gentlemen and that makes me smile. He worries about the small things and what other people think. I know this all too well. Thankfully, having been there it is very easy to lead him out of this pit with the light of truth. Makes the years of my own struggle worth it to be able to use it all as we parent this boy.

The others have their days planned out and I look forward to each one. However, I will tell you what I have noticed about these two kids. They were more willing to share their hearts, help out and were physically present more after our outings. Time is important. Pretty simple, but often lost in our busy school days. We catch up over dinner, before bed and on weekends, but I see the years moving all to quickly. Being mindful of what we give our time to really matters.

The memories made now will make play a part in the years to come. I want them to never doubt that they are loved, heard and will always hear the truth from me. Makes me think about a line in a song I recently heard that said, “Mom is just another word for home”. Sometimes learning to be home has not been easy, but God keeps teaching me daily to rely on Him. He has become my home and that is what I want my kids to see in me.  When my words and actions do not reflect Him, my kids probably do not feel at home. In fact, just this morning I spent quite a bit of time repenting for such sin. Self-righteousness had taken root and needed to be removed. So like a weeks worth of garbage, it was taken out. Our home feels much better now and so does my heart.

It is time to rest up for tomorrows adventure!

 

Tears

Twice this past week, while talking to two different moms, their eyes have filled with tears. My first reaction is a bit of fear because it might be that my honest words have caused pain, but the other part of me is thankful for a glimpse into their tender hearts. One sweet mom I met at the park in my dads soon to be neighborhood. Almost immediately she started sharing with me how anxious she is about the upcoming school year. Last year was a bit of a nightmare, with one of her children being bullied and one newly diagnosed with dyslexia. Oh, how I have been there! The times we have experienced bullying was so hard. Then the early years of navigating school with a child who has been created with dyslexia is not easy. You hear all kinds of opinions and pour out money right and left just to get answers. Our hope in doing this was to get answers in order to get help. For us, it was not until we took our kids out of private school and into public that we got answers and help. In the midst of this moms rapid fire fear filled words, I did the only think I knew to do – speak truth. I told her that God had given her these unique children not by accident. She was chosen to be their mom, not anyone else. She has a choice to be anxious or calm each and everyday. Why not choose calm? I shared how I start my day with God because I can not do this mission of motherhood on my own. I have tried this approach and it was a disaster! How many other mom’s feel this way?

IMG_8536The next beautiful encounter was during lunch with some of my dearest friends. We sat visiting and catching up, but my eyes kept noticing a precious mom with two super cute young boys. They sat on the same side of the bench, eating their lunch, content as can be. Lunch was followed by cookies and I just could not sit still any longer. At the risk of appearing weird, I approached this mama. I asked if she wanted me to take a picture of her and the boys with her phone. She immediately started telling me how terrible she looked, why she was just in a t-shirt and more words to “excuse” her appearance. That was not enough and comparison to me soon followed. Oh, the lies satan loves to whisper in our ears and how familiar they were to me. However, I now recognize them as lies and not truth most of the time. Again, truth needed to be spoken. Reminders of how the kids are growing up fast and that hard days come. To have a picture to look back and remember a fun time, while the boys are 3 and 7, is priceless. I am pretty sure her children could care less that she had on a t-shirt and a top knot. No, they will remember their mom sitting close and laughing over lunch and cookies. They will know a mom who chooses to spend time with them and one who believes in dessert! As they left the restaurant, they stopped for a few more words and the 7 year old thanked me for taking their picture! I was thankful I took a small risk to capture a memory and to remind her of the truth.

I am just so tired of satan whispering lies to moms! Because pretty soon, he no longer has to whisper, it has become recorded and played often. The playlist of “you are not enough”, “your appearance is far from perfect”, “everybody else is way more together than you” and the ever popular “it is all up to me”,  are the lies I had lived with for far too long. Have you heard them too?

The only way I have found to combat lies is with truth, but you have to know what is true. The world will shout one thing, but God’s word waits patiently for you to open it and find out for yourself. Wouldn’t it be nice to start a new school year differently? What if we read more truth and believed it? It will make all the difference. This I know to be true. Not reading our Bibles just does not make sense. The God who made you, me and our children, spoke through men He created to reveal Himself. I see His heart every time I open it.

One of the most incredible things my husband has done for me was covering my bathroom mirror with pink post-it notes, penned with words of affirmation on each one. If you saw how big my mirror was you would know this was not a quick project. This act shifted something in my mind and then in my heart. I could not see my reflection, only words of love. What if we got into our Bibles and covered our hearts and minds with post-it notes of who God is and how great His love is for each one of us? What if we let Him tell us how we are to raise our children instead of this world? What if our eyes saw other moms as uniquely created in the image of God and not someone we need to compare ourselves too? Tell me this would not make for a much better school year.

So, to the mom at the park and the mom at Bluebonnet Bakery with eyes full of tears, I see you as made and very much loved by God. If I could fill every mom’s bathroom mirror with words of truth and capture pictures of fleeting moments everyday, believe me I would. Your kids need you to know the truth and live it before their eyes in well worn t-shirts and top knots or whatever is comfortable for you.

I’ll leave you with a quote by Mr. Rogers that I recently read. “The greatest thing we can do is to help somebody know they’re loved.” Yes, this right here is my theme going into the upcoming school year!

Walking Stories

There is this phrase stenciled on the wall in what has been the kids nursery. It is now empty of a baby, but the phrase remains. It says, “Every child is a story yet to be told”. I feel blessed to be apart of my children’s stories each day. However, I know from scripture that our days are already planned and our stories known by God our Creator. “Your eyes saw me when I was formless; all my days were written in your book and planned before a single one of them began.” (Psalms 139:16). It is quite exciting to see these plans unfold each day. These words bring me comfort that not only are each of my children’s days planned, but so are mine and so are yours.

IMG_0874Do you ever think that before the day begins God knows each and every detail? He knows the choices we will make, to bring Him glory or glory to ourselves. He knows the joy we will bring to others or the selfish pain we will cause. He knows the work we will do that will go unseen or maybe recognized. He knows the conversations that will happen around the table and he sees the empty table where you sit alone. He knows who you will run into while running errands and who you will sit by at church. All of it. He knows.

Earlier in that passage it says, “Where can I go to escape your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to heaven, you are there; if I make my bed in Sheol , you are there. If I live at the eastern horizon or settle at the western limits, even there your hand will hold on to me.” (Psalms 139:7-9). He is unescapable and I am so thankful. He is ever present in our unfolding stories. He is with my children, when I am not. This was especially comforting while our oldest was out of the country. He knew and was with her when she got up each morning and went to bed tired each night. I think of Him smiling as she poured her days out to the people in El Salvador. She went there confident in sharing the gospel, but gained a new fire for making disciples. I am watching this play out now that she is home. All of this, God already knew and wrote down.

Somedays I would like to peak ahead or ask why certain events happened in our story, but I trust the one who has it all planned and written down. I respond with trust because I know he loves me. I did not say it was always easy, but I chose to trust him. We can get stuck in the joy of days gone by or we can drown in our recent sorrows. Maybe even become paralyzed in the fears of what is to come. In each of these places, “even there your hand will lead me; your right hand will hold on to me.” (Psalms 139:9). The one who holds your hand makes all the difference. I love these words, “You have encircled me; you have placed your hand on me.” (Psalms 139:5). If he has ahold of our hand by his right hand and it sounds like the other is on us, why should we be worried or fearful? Plus, he has encircled us! Oh, the comfort and a sense of protection this brings for me and our children.

On the flip side, if our hearts are bent towards self and the sin of this world, our thoughts might take comfort in the next verses, but only for a minute. “If I say, ‘Surely the darkness will hide me, and the light around me will be night’ – even the darkness is not dark to you. The night shines like the day; darkness and light are alike to you.” (Psalms 139:11-12). I will admit there were and are still sometimes in my life that I hope the darkness would hide my sin. If I was not caught or if I just did not do that particular sin again, maybe it would stay in the dark. This is impossible with God. It is something I pray for my kids, that they will be caught in their sin. I pray that for myself as well. I can not ask something of them and not expect it for myself. That kinda levels the playing field. In our family, I am just one sinner, coming alongside 8 other sinners, daily depending on the One who holds my hand. (Side note: The book, Parenting, by Paul David Tripp, really helped me understand this part of raising kids.)

One good prayer to pray is found later on in this chapter. “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my concerns. See if there is any offensive way in me; lead me in the everlasting way.” (Psalms139:23-24). I have a dear friend, who when her head rests on her pillow at night, she asks the Lord to bring to mind any unconfessed sin. She then confesses, repents and drifts off to peaceful, forgiven sleep. What a picture of the grace God so willingly gives!

Another comforting part of this chapter says,  “God, how precious your thoughts are to me; how vast their sum is! If I counted them, they would outnumber the grains of the sand; when I wake up, I am still with you.” (Psalms 139:17-18). God’s thoughts are written out in the Bible that is so easily available to us in the United States. We can not forsake teaching our children God’s thoughts and ways found in the Bible. These thoughts should be precious to us. This is something I am convinced would help turn this nation around. However, I will save that for another day.

Dinner is waiting to be cooked, so I will close with this. Guess who wrote Psalms 139? Remember that kid, who was just running lunch to his brothers, who ended up confronting Goliath because he defied the Living God? Who came at the champion with only a sling shot and 5 smooth stones? Yes, the same David who killed the giant wrote these words. He knew the God who defeats giants and he knew who had written this part of his story. And like David, we are all walking stories written by the Living God.

A Giant Falls

I left off last time with the battle story found in 1 Samuel. The Philistines, along with their champion Goliath, are on one side of the valley and the Israelites are on the other. David has shown up on the scene and has heard Goliath taunting the children of Israel. He is taken to King Saul and says, “Don’t let anyone be discouraged by him; your servant will go and fight this Philistine!” (1 Samuel 17:32). I love David’s courage! Can we all follow his lead, see what satan is attempting to steal and be willing to enter the fight?

Saul’s reaction is normal. “You can’t go fight this Philistine. You’re just a youth, and he’s been a warrior since he was young.” (1 Samuel 17:33). David could have agreed and taken the empty lunch pail and returned safely to his father’s house. We can too you know. This giant is just too big and we are too small. Besides the fashion, cosmetic, advertising, magazine, book, internet, movie industry, pornography, sex trafficking, abortion, same-sex marriage and the list could go on that promote sin, generate too much money to be held accountable and stopped for defying the Living God. Add on top of that, it isn’t popular or culturally acceptable to live by the truth found only in the word of God.

Back to the battle. “David answered Saul: ‘Your servant has been tending his father’s sheep. Whenever a lion or a bear came and carried off a lamb from the flock, I went after it, struck it down, and rescued the lamb from its mouth. If it reared up against me, I would grab it by its fur, strike it down, and kill it. Your servant has killed lions and bears; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, for he has defiled the armies of the living God’. Then David said, ‘The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.” (1 Samuel 17:34-37). David had been unknowingly training, preparing for this very day. I am not sure if he saw something like this coming, but that seems to be the way with us all when looking back over our life. He went after what the enemy carried off and rescued the lamb. Aren’t our children much more valuable than a farm animal? The other piece I love here is that David had full confidence in the Lord. Is there any other way to go into a battle?

“Saul said to David, ‘Go, and may the Lord be with you.” (1Samuel 17:37). Saul tries to protect David by having him outfitted in his military armor. However, if you remember Saul stood head and shoulders above everyone. “I can’t walk in these’, David said to Saul, ‘I’m not used to them.’ So David took them off. Instead, he took his staff in hand and chose five smooth stones from the wadi and put them in the pouch, in his shepherd’s bag. Then, with his sling in hand, he approached the Philistine.” (1 Samuel 17:39-40). I don’t see myself continuing on in this battle to “protect my house” with violence and slinging stones, but I do see myself continuing to stand for the truth. Also, David did not leave home without his shepherd’s bag, sling shot or staff. He came prepared. Are we prepared with the truth, only found in God’s word, to do battle when the occasion arises? David was only on an errand run after all.

“The Philistine came closer and closer to David, with the shield-bearer in front of him. When the Philistine looked and saw David, he despised him because he was just a youth, healthy and handsome. He said to David, ‘Am I a dog that you come against me sticks?’ Then he cursed David by his gods.” (1 Samuel 17:41-43). Yes, it looks like a champion Goliath is coming against families, children, marriages, innocence and purity. Yes, we may look unpopular and small in comparison. Yes, we make look unprepared. Like me. I am “just a mom” so what can I possibly do to fight back? Because to stand on the rock of truth is not being tolerant and therefore unloving. Nothing could be further from the truth! We love people so much, that to think of anyone spending eternity in hell compels us to stand. That is what is at stake here. And if people are already believers, that salvation can not be lost, but being held in the captivity of sin cripples ones life.

“David said to the Philistine: ‘You come against me with a sword, spear, and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord of Armies, the God of the ranks of Israel – you defiled him. Today, the Lord will hand you over to me.” (1 Samuel 17:45-46). The enemy has come against us too, created in the very image of God (see Genesis 1:25) for much to long. The twisting of truth, hate and depravity are only growing in intensity. It is time we remind him who he is up against – “the Lord of Armies, the God of the ranks of Israel.” That is whose army we are apart of if we are followers of Christ. You have to pick a side. I ask my kids all the time, “Who are you going to let win? God or satan?” It is a choice to be made day in and day out.

“When the Philistine started forward to attack him, David ran quickly to the battle line to meet the Philistine. David put his hand in the bag, took out a stone, slung it, and it hit the Philistine on his forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell facedown to the ground. David overpowered the Philistine and killed him without having a sword.” (1 Samuel 17:48-50). Scripture doesn’t mention what happened to the shield-bearer in front of Goliath. It doesn’t really matter, God won the battle and used a small, youthful shepherd to take down the defiant champion.

As for the rest of the army,  “When the Philistines saw that their hero was dead, they fled. The men of Judah rallied, shouting their battle cry, and chased the Philistines to the entrance of the valley and to the gates of Ekron.” (1 Samuel 17:51-52). I would have loved to have seen them retreat and I would love to see our enemy flee now. Can you only imagine the children of God rallying together, shouting a battle cry and chasing after the thief who “comes only to kill, steal and destroy..” (John 10:10). Saying “Enough! You can not have my family!”  We are on the side of the one who has “..come so that they may have life and have it in abundance.” (John 10:10). It is time to stand up, pick the side of truth and fight! Our children now and those to come after us are counting on us!

 

Questions

IMG_8509I get asked questions continually throughout the day. The kids ask questions, people in stores ask things and lots of questions are asked in Bible studies. Today was no different. Our 8 year old son is very insightful and loves Jesus, others and legos big time. Out of nowhere he asked, “Mom, do you think some actors are trying to steal?”. What kind of question is that and how do I answer? Then just as quickly as that thought ran through my head, the answer came. “Yes, Paxton, yes I do think satan is using lots of actors/actresses to steal. They are trying to steal innocence, purity and so much more.”

Our family loves to go to the movies together, but that is hard to do these days. We like to have family movie nights at home, but again this is getting almost impossible. It is however easier to watch movies at home because we can control the previews. Sometimes those are just horrible. Before I continue, know this is my own conviction and much comes from scripture. The other guards we have in place come from remembering being kids ourselves and needing boundaries drawn to protect our innocence. As the kids get older, we trust that they will continue to protect what goes in their minds, that filters into their hearts and then their actions follow. Generations are counting on us to love our kids enough to guide them in what is attempting to be stolen. I have no desire to go along with what is popular, to be my children’s best friend right now or to be swept along by the culture.

It doesn’t just stop with movies, tv shows and commercials. No, this attempted robbery comes in the form of fashion, cosmetics, books, magazines and the list could go on. For example, in my own makeup drawer I looked at some of the names of the cosmetics, after a friend and I had been talking about this very thing. I was shocked, saddened and sick of heart by what I found. I unknowingly bought some horribly inappropriate named makeup. I now carefully check the names of what I buy for the girls and I. Also, I do not support companies that choose to name their cosmetics with names that seem to be whispered by satan himself.

When I see what is coming at us from every direction, it can be very overwhelming and feel like we are fighting against a giant. Surely we will not make it out alive with our children’s hearts intact. Then I am reminded of King David from the Bible, before he became king and was just a young shepherd. He was bringing lunch to his brothers, who were actually fighting a battle against a mighty army. “The Philistines were standing on one hill, and the Israelites were standing on another hill with a ravine between them. Then a champion named Goliath, from Gath, came out from the Philistine camp. He was nine feet, nine inches tall and wore a bronze helmet and bronze scale armor that weighed one hundred twenty- five pounds. There was bronze armor on his shins, and a bronze javelin was slung between his shoulders. His spear shaft was like a weaver’s beam, and the iron point of his spear weighed fifteen pounds. In addition, a shield-bearer was walking in front of him.” (1 Samuel 17:3-7).

Sounds like a perfect description of the evil giant, satan, that is attempting to steal from our children, you and me. He is suited up in deceptive armor and even has the shield of the almighty dollar, carried by many, in front of him. This Goliath in the Bible actually shouted and taunted God’s people everyday for 40 days. “Then the Philistine said, ‘I defy the ranks of Israel today. Send me a man so we can fight each other!” (1 Samuel 17:10). I hate but totally understand this next part. “When Saul and all Israel heard these words from the Philistine, they lost their courage and were terrified.” (1 Samuel 17:11). Each and everyday they retreated in fear until one day David showed up.

“When he arrived he was speaking with them (his brothers), suddenly the champion named Goliath, the Philistine from Gath, came forward from the Philistine battle line and shouted his usual words, which David heard. When all the Israelite men saw Goliath, they retreated from him terrified.” (1 Samuel 17:23-24). David asks a few questions and learns that a big reward will be given to the man who defeats this giant. Then he asks a very important question. “Just who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God.” (1 Samuel 17:26). I ask the same question to all that tries to come against us and steal from us each and everyday, but I already know the answer. The one who is attacking is satan and he is doing everything he can to defy the Living God.

I will save the ending for next time, but we can no longer close our eyes to the enemy in front of us. Like I said before, generations are depending on us to stand up and fight for them. So until next time, take notice of what is coming across the valley and into our homes each day. Are you willing to join in the fight?

*I intentionally do not capitalize satan’s name. He just isn’t even worth a capital letter. The other thing is that as I was typing, Eli put on this shirt in the picture. I love what it says, “Protect This House”! Yes, Eli I will protect this house!

 

Bonus Box

IMG_8145Today just could not end without me typing out a few words celebrating my husbands birthday. If you know him, you know he is kind and calm. He is a man that doesn’t strive to be noticed or get recognition, but does the job placed before him to the best of his ability. He tries new things and constantly amazes me with the things he figures out. He isn’t a big talker, which helps because I tend to be. He is loved and respected by me and our children and takes opportunities often to show love and respect back to us all.

I have to tell you that when I was in college, and really wanting to be married since the time I was like three, I sat down and wrote out a list in the back of my Student Bible of the things I wanted in my long awaited husband. The list was extensive with love and follow Jesus at the top. At the bottom of the page, I drew a box and entitled it bonus box. In this box I wrote sings and plays the guitar.  So, imagine my delight when I walked into the Sunday morning worship service at Young Life camp and there stood Damon holding a guitar and singing! Inside my head I’m pretty sure I screamed “bonus box”!!

Years later, the back of my Bible does not contain enough space or bonus boxes to write out all this man has become. He has far exceeded my list with being more than I thought I wanted or needed. He does this because he loves God first. It is the Lord that  directs his steps and who he turns to in order to lead our family. With putting God in his rightful place, he is able to lead, love and serve beyond anything he could do on his own. Our family is blessed because of this man and we look forward to celebrating!

Happy Birthday!!!!

Baggage

Recently I was listening to a teaching that referenced 1 Samuel 10:22. The teaching was more focused on David and Goliath, but the concept mentioned kept coming back to me. Previously, the scriptures tell us that the people of Israel had rejected God as their King and were requesting an earthly one. The people took their request to an important man named Samuel. He was prayed for earnestly by his mother, Hannah, and grew up in the Lord’s house. Also, the Lord audibly called Samuel by name when he was just a boy. Samuel answered the Lord by saying, “Speak, for you servant is listening.” (1 Samuel 3:10).  I pray we hear and do the same when he calls our name.

IMG_8385.jpgThe Bible says, “Samuel grew and the Lord was with him, and he fulfilled everything Samuel prophesied. All Israel from Dan to Beer-sheba knew that Samuel was a confirmed prophet of the Lord.” (1 Samuel 3:19-20). A prophet is described in Deuteronomy 18:18 as one who God says, “I will put my words in his mouth, and he will tell them everything I command him.”  So, God had given Samuel words to speak to the people of Israel, but they did not always listen. “No!, they said, We must have a king over us. Then we will be like all the other nations; our king will judge us, go out before us, and fight our battles. Samuel listened to all the people’s words and then repeated them to the Lord. “Listen to them,” the Lord told Samuel. “Appoint a king for them.” (1 Samuel 8:19-22). This sounds so much like us. We desire to be like others and have the world direct us as “king” instead of letting God be the King who judges us, goes before us and fights our battles. The Bible is so relevant even thousands of years later.

But back to our story. Samuel was told by God who the king would be and his name was Saul. He was described as, “an impressive young man. There was no one more impressive among the Israelites than he. He stood a head taller than anyone else.” (1 Samuel 9:2). Wow! Sounds like Saul really stood out! Samuel and Saul met up because Saul’s father had him go look for a lost donkey. Saul and a servant went on the search and the servant shares the most fascinating information. “Look, the servant said, there’s a man of God in this city who is highly respected; everything he says is sure to come true. Let’s go there now. Maybe he will tell us which way we should go.” (1 Samuel 9:6). Indeed, Samuel would tell Saul more than which way to go to look for the donkey, but the direction the Lord would have his life go.

I have to insert this part. “Come on, let us go.” “So they went to the city where the man of God was. As they were climbing the hill to the city, they found some young women coming out to draw water and asked, “Is the seer here?”  (the prophet of the day was formerly called a seer – vs. 9). The women answered, ‘Yes, he is ahead of you.” (1 Samuel 9:9-12). I just had to put this piece of the story in to ask a question of us. Are there people on our path of life who point us to where we can hear from God? Having people pointing us to him is so important. Also, be that person in others lives.

Now, “Saul and his servant were entering the city when they saw Samuel coming toward them on his was to the high place. Now the day before Saul’s arrival, the Lord had informed Samuel, “At this time tomorrow I will send you a man from the land of Benjamin. Anoint him ruler over my people Israel. He will save them from the Philistines because I have seen the affliction of my people, for their cry has come to me.” (1 Samuel 9:14-16). Samuel invited Saul to eat with him and gave him a place to stay for the night. I love this next part. “When I send you off in the morning, I’ll tell you everything that’s in your heart. As for the donkeys that wandered away from you three days ago, don’t worry about them because they have been found. And who does all of Israel desire but you and all your father’s family?” (1 Samuel 9:19-20). What Saul had been asked to find has been found and so much more.

Saul immediately rattles off how insignificant his family is and wonders why the prophet would say such things. Samuel invites him to dinner and they talk a bit on the rooftop, but it is what happens the next day that set Saul’s future in motion. The future that God had planned for him before time began. He has yours planned too, you know.  As for Saul, the next day Samuel anointed Saul’s head with oil and said, “Hasn’t the Lord anointed you ruler over his inheritance?” (1 Samuel 10:1). Saul leaves Samuel with some instructions for his journey home. He also says, “The Spirit of the Lord will come powerfully on you, you will prophesy with them, you will be transformed.” (1 Samuel 10:6). Samuel sends him off and “When Saul turned to leave Samuel, God changed his heart…” (1 Samuel 10:9). “Then the Spirt of the Lord came powerfully on him…”. (1 Samuel 10:10). Not only was Saul the most impressive man among the Israelites, stood a head taller than anyone, he is now anointed, had his heart changed and the Spirit of the living God is on him! Amazing!

Then the most interesting thing happens that does not make any sense to me after reading how Saul truly seemed to have it all. Samuel gathers the people and says, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘I brought Israel out of Egypt, and I rescued you from the power of the Egyptians and all the kingdoms oppressing you. But today you have rejected your God, who saves you from all your troubles and afflictions. You said to him, ‘You must set a king over us’, Now therefore present yourselves before the Lord by your tribes and clans.” (1 Samuel 10:17-19). The tribes and clans present themselves, but Saul cannot be found. “So they inquired again of the Lord, ‘Is there a man still to come?’ and the Lord said, ‘Behold, he has hidden himself among the baggage.’ Then they ran and took him from there. And when he stood among the people, he was taller than any of the people from his shoulder upwards.” (1 Samuel 10:22-23).

This tall, anointed, spirit-filled man is hiding in the baggage. Again, are we any different all these years later? I am the opposite of tall, but I have been anointed (2 Corinthians 1:21, 1 John 2:20) and the Holy Spirit lives inside of me (Acts 19:2, 2 Timothy 1:14, 1 Thessalonians 4:8). On top of that, I know where I will spend eternity. However, with all of this going for me I still tend to hide in my baggage. I hide in my fear, pride, uncertainty, lack of hope at times, anger -sin actually. Why? When our identity has been made clear, why do we not take our rightly place as a child of God? “For all those led by God’s Spirit are God’s sons. You did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear. Instead, you received the Spirt of adoption, by whom we cry out ‘Abba, Father’! The Spirit himself testifies together with our spirit that we are Gods’ children, and if children, also heirs – heirs of God and coheirs of Christ – if indeed we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.” (Romans 8:14-17).

What more could we want? I think it is time for each of us to come out from hiding in our baggage and step into all that God has for us. You with me?