Keeping Peace

“You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.” Isaiah 26:3

We are barely into December and there have already been so many opportunities to take the Lord up on His promise of peace. I must do my part and keep my eyes, heart and mind focused on the One I trust. Having scripture verses ready helps and so does remembering. Another way is to just tell the Lord what is on my mind. I have found Him to be the best listener. Often times He whispers back something that only my heart can hear. It might be a bit of correction that will lead to repentance or it might be a loving word. This I know and is always what I need for peace.

IMG_6302We dove into the month, which is one of my favorites, having just celebrated Thanksgiving. It was good and restful. We then celebrated our youngest turning 6 years old and were reminded of the blessing she is to our family. When I picture her, I often think of her twirling. She is the most graceful little person I have ever known. Her beauty was evident literally from the minute she was born. She is very much full of life and brilliance. One of the things she recently said, that brought tears to my eyes, was the answer to a very important question. I asked, “Why do you love Jesus?” Right away she said, “Because He loves me”. Simple but life changing words. She never complicates truth and this is a gift.

The day after celebrating, we were given the most amazing gift. Some friends opened their beautiful home up for a silent retreat in preparation for this Christmas season. It was a wonderful morning and I am still processing all that was whispered. As I sat in a precious little room and wrote the date at the top of my journal page, a wave of remembrance crashed over me. Two years ago on that same morning, we learned that the little baby that was to become part of our family, had died. I sat for a minute not knowing where my heart would land. Then peace calmed the waves and I thought of all the Lord has done in the mending of me since then. Thanksgiving was my response. Only a God of peace can make this happen.

On the same day, we received some other news that tested the peace that we had earlier taken hold of. Would we panic or trust? We decided to trust and peace returned. During all of this, our sweet dog of 10 years started not acting like himself. Three vets could not figure out what was wrong. Then last night he took a turn and died. Another loss and there were many tears. As the news was setting in, one of the kids responded with words of faith. He said, “We need to pray for Jesus to bring him back to life.” I love that kind of childlike faith! I pray we all have more of that. While the answer was not life for our dog, it was an opportunity to trust Him and ask for His peace and comfort. I have never found our Lord to withhold either.

Read with me this amazing verse. “For to us a child is born, to us a Son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6. Who Jesus is to us, was planned before He was even sent to earth. God knew we would need a counselor, a father and a prince of peace. We would also be given a glimpse of our Mighty God in the form of the Son of Man. He knew that the weight of government would need more than mans shoulders, so He placed in on Him. Never doubt who God puts in office, for He is in complete control. Pray for those He has placed there. Also as you pray, ask for what you need this season too. Is it peace, a father, counselor or maybe God to be God? For me, I love the picture that comes to mind when we read “Prince of Peace”. A royal robe, a crown and radiance that lights up the darkness, fills my imagination.

As we go through this season that holds so many feelings and memories, remember who He is and what we have been given in Him. I am praying that peace, joy, strength, comfort, wonder, excitement, anticipation and overwhelming love flood your hearts and overflow to everyone you encounter. May this be a Christmas season to remember!

 

Shaping and Celebrating

Last week was a good week. We picked my dad up from the airport and the fun began! We celebrated one of our boys turning 10 years old and ate very well on Thanksgiving. We laughed a lot as a family and spent time playing new games together. Have you ever played the game Spoons? With a table of 10, it can get pretty loud. It reminded me of growing up around my grandparents table. My grandmother would make a delicious dessert and some game would be played. I remember thinking that I could not wait to grow up and get to play. Now I am the grown up and our kids join in the fun. I would rather them not have to wait to play. However, observing like I did as a child had many advantages too, like never losing.

IMG_4354We also went to the movies one day and some of our girls and I saw the movie, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. It is a story based on an interview with Mr. Rogers.  There was so much that I loved about the movie, but I will not ruin in for you here. I also picked up the book and there is wisdom within the pages. One of the scenes in the movie and then a quote in the book, really stood out to me.

“Take a minute to think of  at least one person who helped you become who you are inside today. Someone who was interested in you for who you really are. Just one minute…one minute to think of those who have made a real difference in your life.” -Fred Rogers 

Sometimes thinking of those who helped us become who we are today, might press a tender place in your heart. Some might make you smile and others might cause you to laugh. The impact people have in our shaping is of high value. It makes me wonder if we kept this in mind when we speak, especially to children, if our words would be considered a bit more carefully. Imagine being a person someone thinks of when they look back at how they became who they are today. We all have this potential.

There are also the ones who shaped us, but they were not at all kind. When I think of these, forgiveness follows. I am sure I have done the same as well. We can sometimes blame everyone else and not take responsibility for our own words and actions. However, sometimes the affect of a person on us had nothing to do with us at all and we are not responsible for their sin. There is forgiveness for this too. The cross paid the price for sin and it is our gift for the receiving. Will you open it today?

When I think of people who influenced me for the good, many images surface. One is of a great uncle who had the most calm, kind and strong voice I have ever heard. He spoke of God so freely and was never in a hurry. He had a great impact on my mom too. For him I am thankful. There are Sunday school teachers who taught me week after week about the Bible. I loved to learn. There are my parents who were entrusted to care for me and the Lord used them in a mighty way. I was given so many opportunities to learn and grow. Some I fought and others I loved. All have been used by God for my good and His glory.

This idea of the shaping of people is pretty big. I had an idea that those who have any encounter with children, should be investigated very carefully. Teachers should not step foot in a school if they do not love children. Principals should not renew contracts of those who are causing damage to the heart of children. The cost of repair is very high. Will these teachers foot the bill? Parents should not be able to leave the hospital if they do not know the great treasure they are being given. If they were not raised as important, how will they give what they do not know? The cycle will continue unless someone steps in and repairs what is broken.

It is time for this world to wakeup and see value in every human. Each person, regardless of age, color, convictions and true gender, matter to God and they should matter to us. May we be used to call out in anyone we meet who they are in God’s sight. They are loved, sin paid for and made for worship. Maybe today you will see someone that needs to be reminded. Ask the Lord to give you the words they need to hear. Speak the words in love and leave the results up to Him. I bet your day will be much more exciting.

I have watched our new 10 year old boy live his life pouring out love, validating people. He sees people, has no fear and chooses to be selfless. He has the biggest brown eyes and smiles a lot. He speaks truth with courage and boldness. He knows and loves God with all his heart and that makes all the difference. He feels deep and can easily get his feelings hurt. He reads people well and is cautious when necessary. Age has no meaning to him and he is as comfortable with a 5 year old as he is with a 50 year old. While not perfect, he is looking more and more like Christ with each passing year. He is a treasure for sure and shapes people in the best way. I bet he will be on the list of many! I pray the same for you as well. Today, chose to be a good shaper.

 

Be the One

“One of them, when he saw that he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice.” Luke 17:15

When a particular story comes up three times in one week, I have to take notice. Such was the case with the story found in Luke 17:11-19, of the ten lepers who were healed. It begins with Jesus on his way to Jerusalem. The destination was set, but healing happened along the way. I have seen this in my own life. Heaven is the aim, but much takes place in the in between. Also, I have watched how the Lord uses circumstances in my daily life to bring much healing and encouragement. Seems like He is always shining His light on areas that need healing to be whole again, to be returned to the original design. This causes me to praise Him when I have eyes to see.

IMG_5881As Jesus was traveling by, “ten men who had leprosy met Him. They stood at a distance and called out in a loud voice, ‘Jesus, Master, have pity on us!” (verses 12-13). Because of their disease, they could not be in contact with others, even Jesus. Even from a distance, they recognized Jesus for who He is. The response of our Savior is beautiful. “When He saw them, He said, ‘Go, show yourselves to the priests.” (verse 14). Friend, if you have ever felt the eyes of Jesus on you, you are never the same. He sees all of our disease, our sin, and desires healing. The condition that separates us from Jesus is true for every human, but God has made a way for us to be eternally healed. When our high priest, Jesus, “who has become a high priest forever” (Hebrews 6:20) sees us, what do you think He sees? Because of the death on the cross and the resurrection from the grave, payment for our sin, through faith we are now seen as healed in God’s sight. Another word would be righteous.

Now back to the lepers. “As they went, they were cleansed.” (verse 14). No questions are recorded, just obedience. Then something remarkable happens. “One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him…” (verses 15-16). Why did only one return? Why do so few of us share the good news of Jesus after we are healed? Do we praise God with a loud voice and fall at His feet in worship? I must confess, I sometimes remain silent or focus on what is still troubling me. Jesus wondered why only one of the ten returned, but offered kind words to the one at His feet. “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.” (verse 19). I want to be the one at the feet of Jesus.

I love the details given in these few verses. The lepers cried out for pity in a loud voice and the healed man used the same loud voice for praise of Jesus. Have you done the same? When you know you have been forgiven and accepted, do your words change to praise? Do you long to hear our Savior say, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”? Funny thing how Jesus brings up faith here, because just a few verses earlier, “The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” (Luke 17:5). He gives them such a visual example with the healing of the lepers. When we see the power of Jesus, our faith is increased. He is the One who can truly heal and in doing so, increase our faith before our very eyes.

So, what is our response going to be? We have some choices to make, don’t we? The first would be, do you want to be healed? Do you want to believe and accept healing for your sin? Do you believe that God created you, sin separated you and God sent His One and only Son to pay the debt we owe because of our sin? “If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9). Friend, it is not that complicated, but the cry must come from your mouth. Jesus is passing by today, call out to Him and be saved. What are you waiting for?

For those who have already accepted this gift, let us use our voices today and around our Thanksgiving tables. May words of praise and gratitude flow like gravy and be as sweet as pumpkin pie. Our words matter and can completely change the atmosphere in a room. Be the one that returns thanksgiving because of healing and eternal life received. Our sin is cleansed and we are healed!! This is good news and others need to hear it. I do not know who will be in your gatherings on Thursday, but I pray they hear you praising our Lord. May your faith increase and bold words that shine with His grace and mercy bring healing around your tables.

Happy Thanksgiving!!

*Recently, one of our daughters had some friends over. I looked out and saw them praying before dinner. These same girls had just moments before gathered in the kitchen and were each sharing with me their favorite Bible verses. Made me smile and give thanks to the Lord.

 

 

Tags of Thanks

I was sitting in my chair this morning, with my heart and mind fully engaged. Our two youngest ones came in and wanted to visit. We talked a few minutes and then an idea came. I keep these little sticky tags by my chair to mark places I want to remember. I gave each of them a stack and said to go around and mark the things you are thankful for. One of them immediately placed a tag on me and made me smile. We now have tags all over and I am going to leave them for awhile to remember.

IMG_6006Being thankful is not something to be marked on one day of the year, it is a way of life and heart. One of my favorite things we started this summer as a family is to write things we are thankful for in a journal. After dinner we remain at the table, read scripture, pray, encourage and record things to be thankful. I know I have mentioned this before. The pages are filling up fast and it is beautiful! Somedays the words flow easy and somedays they need a bit of encouragement. It has become another discipline, seeing thankfulness in the big and small. One child is forever thankful for candy and another his teacher. Often there is a precious couple on our list that have blessed our family with friendship, wisdom, example, kindness, encouragement and gifts. How do you even begin to repay? For us, thankfulness and seeing each as being something only the Lord could have orchestrated, is the only thing we know to do.

As we have grown up a bit, expectations have been taken off of people, especially family, and we see so many unexpected blessings everyday. When your heart shifts to love, the eyes and ears function differently. A routine trip to Walmart becomes a place to speak a kind word, meet someones eyes and smile. If you ever are there, take notice of their store brand. It is called “Great Value” and it will remind you that everyone you are shopping beside is of great value to God and should be to you too. God sent His Son to die for their sin, just like He did for yours and He loves them too. I wonder how many know this good news? A look in some eyes tells me they do not. We should never be in such a hurry that we miss people.

When life is hard, boring, happy, lonely, changing, exciting, new and the list could go on and on, remember truth. Remember the life that is to come and thankfulness will return. “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe,” (Hebrews 12:28 NIV). Somedays just the reminder that this world is temporary and I cannot even imagine what is to come, keeps my eyes off the troubles I see. It is when I forget that my heart beats quick, I try and plan my way out or act a bit less than lovely. The Lord convicts my heart, I repent and remember.

When we read the story in John 4 about the woman who meets Jesus at the well, it shows us an incredible example of thankfulness. Read it for yourself, but I will share a bit with you. “Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, ‘Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?’ They came out of the town and made their way toward Him.” (John 4:28-30 NIV). Funny how the love of One and His grace made this woman respond. She invited others to meet Jesus. After spending time with Him, the people she invited to meet Jesus respond with belief of their own. “They said to the woman, ‘We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.” (John 4:42 NIV). 

I know I have written on this story before, but it is one of my favorites. What would happen if we responded like this woman, who just could not seem to help being thankful for Jesus and the forgiveness of sin only He can offer? Could our thankfulness spill over like hers? Absolutely! Look at this verse with me. “That is why we labor and strive, because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all people…” (1 Timothy 4:10 NIV). Thankfulness seems to be something that takes effort at first and during different phases of life. Yes, it may seem we have to labor and strive to be thankful, but will it not be worth it? Our Savior deserves nothing less from we, His people, who have “hope in the living God”. It will change you forever and you will never be the same. Plus, Walmart trips get a lot more exciting!

I pray this encourages you in these days before Thanksgiving!

*Picture was taken by Corrimages

 

 

 

A Glory Thief

This whole concept of stealing has never been on my radar. Only a few times have things been stolen from us possession wise. One time an iPad was stolen, but was easily tracked down. All the detective shows I have watched finally paid off! Sunday morning the Lord revealed that I have tried to steal glory that only belongs to Him. Do you ever find yourself doing the same? It was eye opening and revealed parts of me that I really do not like. True to the nature of God, He very gently showed me my sin. I share it here in hopes to warn you not to follow my example in the subtle lie I believed.

IMG_5835It went something like this. Normally when my alarm goes off, I think of a verse and let that run through my mind. I want my first thoughts to be of Him. Sunday morning only a heavy feeling of sadness was present. It felt a bit foreign and not normal. I thought maybe I just needed to wakeup a bit more, but a few sips of coffee and the sadness remained. I told the Lord how I was feeling and inside heard Him whisper, “Do you want to talk about it?”. I told Him, “Not really”, and hoped that when I got into my readings for the morning, the heaviness would lift.

It seemed everything I read was tailor-made to fit how I was feeling. As the readings weaved together, something only God can do, I was amazed. When I sat to listen, being still wanting to hear what was on God’s heart, the answer came. It shocked me at first and then made perfect sense. The whisper came, “You are sad because you are trying to steal glory that belongs to Me.” I had to unravel that a bit and went back to a few recent conversations. I was instantly attending my own pity party. Be glad you were not invited. The thoughts were pitiful and circled tightly around self.

The thing is, while there is nothing wrong with receiving compliments, encouragement  and kind words, I wanted attention plain and simple. It was me I wanted noticed, not Him. This is typical for a middle school kid, but I am 45 years old. These thoughts actually took me back to when I was that age. A memory came swiftly and I had believed a lie. While not meant for harm, it did just that and I did what needed to be done. I took this lie to the Lord, repented for my actions and turned to truth. These words encourage me. “For day and night your hand was heavy on me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer. Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my inquiry. I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the LORD.’ And you forgave the guilt of my sin.” (Psalm 32:4-5). All was forgiven at the death of Jesus on the cross, but repentance changes me. In forgiveness, I find strength, joy, renewed love for God and others.

Read this verse with me. “After this I heard what sounded like the roar of a great multitude in heaven shouting: ‘Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God…”. Do we hear our voices daily mixed with these? If you read the Bible for yourself, you will find that God is more than worthy to receive glory. He created glory. I was not made to rob Him of what is rightfully His. We may try, but it will not feel natural. Think about the energy it takes to keep up an image. No wonder famous people turn to drugs, poor relationship choices and alcohol. They are not made to carry the glory we fans give them.

My prayer for you and me is that of King David. May we “extol the LORD at all times; His praise will always be on my lips. I will glorify in the LORD; let the afflicted hear and rejoice. Glorify the LORD with me; let us exalt His name together.” (Psalm 34:1-3). Today is a new day. Will we seek glory for ourselves or give it to Him? As for me, my heart is set on giving all the glory I can give to Him alone and my words and actions should follow.

 

*I took this picture of our oldest before everyone arrived at the Never Alone Community Worship Night.

 

 

 

 

 

Celebrating Turning 8

“I prayed for this child, and the LORD has granted me what I asked of Him. So now I give him to the LORD. For his whole life he will be given over to the LORD.”              1 Samuel 1:27-28

The passing of time is very evident when birthdays hit. Our sixth child just turned 8 years old the other day and it seems like we were just heading to the hospital for him to be born. He is such an interesting kid and is very comfortable in who he is. He never meets a stranger and what he thinks, he says. The way he loves the Lord is remarkable and it carries over to people, as it should. If he puts up a guard with someone, I trust him. This rarely happens, but when it does, I take it seriously. I hear many stories that start with, “You won’t believe what Eli said”.  Knowing Eli I never know what he will say.

IMG_5866When he was born, his heart had not fully closed up yet. It was our first experience with a child being rushed to the NICU. Thankfully, it closed up within a few hours and he has not had a problem since. He did tell me a few days ago that he can fill his heart getting bigger and bigger. I told him I often feel the Lord expanding our hearts to hold more love for Him and others. I know exactly what he is talking about. He loves well.

I have learned a lot from this kid. He is fearless and carefree. He is friendly, but still maturing. He is teachable, but has strong opinions. He is solid in his belief that God is who He says He is and calls him King. He accepted what Christ did on the cross for his sin and looks forward to heaven. He encourages and seeks out those who need it the most. I like to walk a bit behind him and just see what will happen.

As amazing as this boy is, he has also been challenging since birth. For that I am thankful. It helps to have one that knocks you back down on your knees and reminds you that you do not have all the answers. Humility has been the gift that arrived with Eli. Recently when my husband and I were talking about this child, he ever so gently pointed out how I need to let him grow up. There is a bit of fear because of his unpredictability. However, self-control and maturity do not happen without guidance. The Lord gave this child to us and I want him to grow into a man that is mature, unselfish and self-controlled. To throw off restraint is a bit expected of a child, but not for a man. The time to guide is now and I am a bit behind in some areas.

So as we jump into 8 years old, it might be a bit rocky for a bit. Change is never easy and increased discipline is hard on all of us. He was given to us and each and everyday I will give him back to the Lord in how I guide, teach and love. This is normal for us, but more needs to happen with this one. To build up and correct takes time and patience. He is worth it. A heart always comes before a chore. This kid has gifts that need attention and behavior that needs correcting. Parenting is not easy, but I am thankful for wisdom given by God every step of the way.

Eli, 8 is going to be great!!

 

Community

Back in our Young Life days, we had instant community. If we moved, we met people who quickly became friends and it was good. We had a common burden for high school kids to meet Jesus and the bond was tight. I did not realize at the time what a gift this was to us. The past two weekends we have been given this gift again. We gathered with community and it has been so encouraging. It has very much felt like returning to those Young Life days.

IMG_5834The first time was an outdoor concert/fundraiser for Young Life. We sat under blankets and stars and listened to great music. I hope our little town will do more of this kind of thing. The next event was a community night of worship. The title for the event was “Never Alone”. The night was perfect and a sweet group of people made it happen. I love how everyone has something they are good at. When each brings their gift to the table, a beautiful picture of the body of Christ working together in unity is the result. Isn’t this what God had in mind? In fact, we can read these words written by David, “How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity.” (Psalm 133:1). Seems so often Christians can be known for their differences and not our unity.

I know in recent news Ellen DeGeneres received a lot of attention because she sat by George W. Bush at a Cowboys game. Her response was very good. The short explanation I heard her give was that we are to be kind. We might not agree, but we can be kind. Can we do more of this in our homes, neighborhoods, cities, schools, churches and country? Often this whole liberal vs. conservative thing really bothers me. Each bashing the other and both looking anything but unified. It amazes me that the names “right wing and left wing” are used in politics. Has a bird ever flown with only one wing? The answer is no, I looked it up. Why do we divide then? Seems both wings, maybe not always agreeing, but flapping in unity would cause our nation to soar.

I know that our community is not perfect and we are small, but what I saw was very encouraging. When there is a common cause, many of the reasons for division end. Both events had the unifying goal to lift up our powerful God. Can you even wrap your head around what our country would be like if this was our common goal? A glimpse of heaven is what I see. I pray revival breaks out again!

Awhile ago I read 2 Chronicles 20 and cannot seem to get away from this unified kingdom. I will summarize it for you and I hope you love it as much as I do. King Jehoshaphat gets word that a vast army is coming to attack Judah, his county. He is alarmed, but resolves to find out what the Lord would have them do and everyone fasts. “The  people of Judah came together to seek help from the LORD..” (vs 4). He prays and reminds the people of who God is. He then says the most beautiful, comforting words. “We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” (vs. 12). The situation has not changed, but they know where to focus.

The account continues and “…the Spirit of the LORD came on Jahaziel son of Zechariah..” (vs. 14). He gives them a message from God. He tells them not to be afraid and the battle belongs to God. He tells them that God will be with them and they will not have to fight. Have we not received the same message and promise that God will be with us? The people fell facedown in worship. What a sight this must have been! Then they head out very early in the morning. As they begin, the king reminds them of the message they have received from God. Then he does the most interesting military move. He places singers in front of the army who sang, “Give thanks to the LORD, for His love endures forever.” (vs. 21). As their song rang out, “the LORD set ambushes against the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir who were invading Judah, and they were defeated. (vs. 22). Only God can do the impossible.

What would happen if we followed their example? What if we started with ourselves? What if we lifted our eyes to our powerful God, fasted from our need to be right, bowed in worship to the only God who has the final say in what is right? What about if we went about our days in thanksgiving, trust and surrender? I will tell you what happened in this country. “When the men of Judah came to the place that overlooks the desert and looked toward the vast army, they saw only dead bodies lying on the ground, no one had escaped.” (vs. 24). It took them 3 days to gather all the plunder! They returned home rejoicing and what a sound that had to be! There is no sound more amazing I am certain than that of a follower of Christ who has seen an impossible victory.  How their faith must have soared! Then something else happened. “The fear of God came on all the surrounding kingdoms when they heard how the LORD had fought against the enemies of Israel.” (vs. 29). Their country experienced peace.

I do not know what you will decide, but as for me and our family, we have our eyes focused on the only source of victory. There is uncertainty and somethings that could easily usher in fear. Everyone I meet has something impossible to see their way out of. It may be a relationship, family, school challenges, lack of direction, health issues, finances, loneliness and the list could go on and on. We can choose to go our own way and gather likeminded travelers to our cause. Or we can come together, trade our “right” ideas in for His and unite in worship. My prayer is that we hear each other singing, “Give thanks to the LORD, for His love endures forever.” (vs. 21). This must be what revival sounds like. And trust me when I tell you that His love transforms you in the most beautiful way and worship is a natural response.

I will leave you with this verse. “Your ways, God, are holy. What god is as great as our God” You are the God who performs miracles; you display your power among the peoples.” (Psalm 77:13-14).

*One of my daughters just told me tomorrow is National Kindness Day!!

An 18 Year Walk of Grace

“When you discover who God made you to be,                                                                you’ll never want to be anyone else.”  – Bill Johnson

 

Our oldest turned 18 this week and there are so many thoughts with this milestone. The first is how fast it has gone. People tell you this when they are young, but it is true. Much has happened over these years and the one word that comes to mind is grace. When I look at her beautiful senior pictures, I see and know grace. Despite how much I love this child, I have made many mistakes…but grace. Fear had a tight grip on me during those early years and shaped many parenting choices. However, she has grown up to be a fearless young lady. Perfection was a priority, but she aims to reflect Christ,  not a perfect version of herself. Insecurity ran high, but she is secure in who God has made her. One act of loving grace after another.

IMG_5831She celebrated with sweet friends and they danced the night away. Our back porch was transformed into a dance floor and they all learned the basics. I told them these were life skills since they live in Texas. Some of our kids joined in and we two-stepped around our kitchen. We caught glimpses of big smiles, confidence gained and friendship. They two-stepped, spun like crazy and laughed a lot. More of this needs to happen and I pray we can do this often in our home. To have a home where our kids want to invite others in is another gift of grace to us.

While we do not have this raising children to know and love the Lord down, we do know where our help comes from. We have seen that when our kids hearts and heads know who they are; which is created, chosen, precious, a sinner saved by grace and loved beyond imagine, they slip into their true identity. This 18 year old walks this out daily. And if the Lord has given us grace in all my parenting mistakes with this one, will He not do the same for each of us?

Happy 18th Birthday, Maggie!

*Senior pictures by our talented friend, Corri Robinson.

 

 

 

An Unexpected Note

“If we had but an inkling of the measure of divine love and of the depths of divine mercy and of the patience of divine faithfulness, we would never despair or become discouraged.” -M. Martyria Madauss

This quote was written on a card that was tucked inside a book I picked up at a retreat. The book was not used, but somehow had a note inside. It was an unexpected gift. Inside the note was a precious birthday message dating back all the way to 1976! And inside the note was another small card that said, “Consider yourself an unprofitable servant; then God can use you as His instrument.” These kind of unexpected gifts have filled the month of October. While God Himself did not write the note, He allowed me to pick up this book. I do not believe in coincidence for that would make God very small and life extremely boring.

IMG_4753Some weeks back I was looking for a worship song and in my search heard an incredible line. It has stuck with me ever since and become a prayer. What was spoken was, “Lord, I’ll be your trumpet.”  Pick up your Bible and you will be amazed at the number of times a trumpet is mentioned. It seems I come across a new one almost daily – another unexpected gift. One common theme I have found is it was an instrument played with a purpose. It was a form of communication. However, a trumpet without a player is just a nice instrument. While it may shine, its purpose is not reached until it is picked up and air breathed into the mouthpiece. This very much reminded me of the work God does in us. Once you allow Him to pick you up and “breathe” life into you, purpose follows.

I know full well that the Lord can do all things without this little trumpet. He is God and I am not. He loves me enough to write a part in His symphony just for me. Sometimes I remain silent and other times I get to play, both are a privilege. Trying to even grasp this is too much. I will continue to trust His love, mercy, patience and faithfulness. With this truth in my heart, discouragement and despair flee. This was such a wonderful reminder from this unexpected card and I am thankful. I pray you are encouraged and feel like you just discovered a precious, timely note too. I pray you also find what part the Lord would have for you to play. He has plans for you and I just know they sound amazing.

*The picture is another unexpected note on our driveway.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What causes you to become discouraged or despair?

 

20 Years

Today marks 20 years of marriage for my husband and I. More has happened than we could have thought or imagined. So many blessings, so many sorrows, so many joys and unexpected trials with unbelievable gifts along the way. The Lord is faithful and we are firmly rooted in His great love for us. We know to whom we belong and trust Him. If He allowed it, it is and will be for our good and His glory. Only God can make a promise like that and keep it.

IMG_0148I remember waking up really early on this day 20 years ago and it felt like a dream. This is what I had been thinking, planning and preparing for all my life. The day was here, but it just did not seem real. One of the many memories I have is before my dad and I walked the aisle for him to place me into my husbands care. The huge doors closed, as the last in the wedding party walked down the aisle, and a trumpet began to sound. The doors opened pretty dramatically and we entered. The aisle seemed miles long, but I knew who was waiting at the end. All thoughts of life before fled and I was pretty sure I was glowing. When my hand was placed in his, I felt like I was home.

The years have passed by quickly and we have more than lived to tell about it. We have fallen more in love with each other and with our God. While not perfect, we know the One who is. His Word is our daily guide and it is Him whom we serve. We serve one another because of His great love for us. This love overflows and we each benefit. Our children see this and get drenched with this effect. Do we mess up? Absolutely! I could give you a great example that took place just this morning. However, we ask for forgiveness, turn from our sin and continue on. Often we feel the pressures of this world, but we know there is more to come than this life. We march on towards Heaven making memories along the way.

I do not know your story or where you are on this journey, but I am glad our steps have collided. There is nothing in me that for a minute thinks I have this all figured out. I do trust the One who does and have chosen to give my heart to Him. He knows how to keep me in peace, love and focus. My heart is tender towards the Lord and that gives Him soft clay to work with. While not always pleasant or painless, I trust His working. And I am daily thankful to have a precious man beside me, whose heart is even more tender and who is a fierce leader and protector. My husband knows well how to keep that which was entrusted to him 20 years ago. May we bring the Lord much glory for many, many more years!

Happy Anniversary Damon!

*This picture pretty much sums it up:)

 

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