Get Busy

standard January 23, 2019 Leave a response

There are times when I read Scripture and I feel uplifted and encouraged, and then there are times when the Holy Spirit gives me a healthy push in a different direction.

Such was my reality while reading the Old Testament prophet Haggai. It’s a short book but the main point is that the Israelites were supposed to be rebuilding the House of the Lord, but they got distracted by their own agendas and then they wondered why the Lord wasn’t blessing their efforts. Sound familiar?

Haggai 1:7 tells us that, “The Lord of Hosts says this: ‘Think carefully about your ways.’” (which is the Hebrew equivalent of “you better check your heart.”)

Then He says, “‘my house still lies in ruins, while each of you is busy with his own house.’” (Ouch!)

It’s not that God is against us building our lives. He’s not. It’s just that He’s more about us having obedient hearts. And if He has called us to build His house over ours, then He wants that to be our first focus.

What is it that God has called you to do? Start a small group, go on a mission trip, participate in a time of fasting? Then get busy and do that first.

After you’ve checked your heart and built His house, absolutely ask Him to bless your other efforts. I think what we will find is that He wants to bless us. We just need to get busy building His house first.

Getting the Hang of Things

standard January 17, 2019 1 response
January is always a special month for me because it is the month that my firstborn daughter, Adelene, was born. Addie is the first grandchild on both sides of our family and her entrance into this world was no small celebration. We had packed out the labor and delivery wing and everyone was instantly in love with this long-awaited blessing.
 
However, 48 short hours later I remember being discharged from the hospital and asking, “Am I really equipped to take this tiny human being home and care for her? Shouldn’t I stay another night or two?” The staff just smiled and patted me on the back on the way out the door. “You’ll get the hang of things,” they promised.
 
Well, it’s been twelve years and I’ve steadily improved in caring for our sweet Addie, but I wouldn’t describe myself as being “there” yet either. Right when I feel as if I’m killing it on the parenting charts, things get switched up and I’m back to square one trying to figure it out all over again. Not to mention everyone keeps reminding me that the teen years are right around the corner (Lord, give me strength).
 
Our walk with God can feel this way as well. We can be skipping along unhindered one minute and the next find ourselves in the middle of a storm. That is precisely why Paul wrote these words in 2 Corinthians 5:7, “For we walk by faith, and not by sight.”
 
Paul knew that there would be days that we feel as if we have no clue what we’re doing, but that’s ok. We just keep the faith and put one foot in front of the other, trusting that because we are following Him, we will be fine. Admittedly, this is not easy, especially for those of us who like to have everything planned out, but it’s in these times that our faith grows the most.
 
One day our faith will be complete. Only then will we be able to say with certainty that we have truly “gotten the hang of things.” Until then, we walk by faith one day at a time.
 
 
Happy 12th Birthday, Addie! I love being your mama, even if I don’t always have the hang of things. May the Lord continue to grow you into a beautiful, wise woman as you seek Him. I love you, sweet girl! 💗🎉🎂1️⃣2️⃣

Heart of Wisdom

standard January 3, 2019 2 responses

I always like to start off the new year by asking the Lord to give me a word or phrase to focus on. This year I am asking for a Heart of Wisdom.

Psalm 90 is written by Moses, who was definitely a man of great wisdom. In verse 12 he asks the Lord,

Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.

I hear the urgency in Moses’ request, do you? Contrary to how we may feel, we don’t have all the time in the world. We have only one life on this side of eternity and we must make it count. We are wise to number our days and to live our lives with a sense of urgency. We do this by being a light in the dark, forgiving others even if they don’t ask for it, and telling those we meet of a God who loves us so much that He allowed His Son to die for our sins.

Gaining a heart of wisdom also means that we put aside the petty and selfish things, the things that distract us from being God-centered. And we focus on not just gaining more head knowledge, but letting our hearts be transformed which will result in greater wisdom. This will inevitably start to seep into every aspect of our lives.

Oh Lord, I ask just as Moses did of You. Teach me to number my days this year and to make each one count. Give me a heart of wisdom. Let it seep into every aspect of my life, especially as a wife and mother. May it transform me as I strive to reflect Your Light in 2019.

Be Merry & Filled with Light

standard December 12, 2018 Leave a response

How do you celebrate Christmas?

The spirit of Christmas brings forth the desire to be merry and light-hearted, hence the saying, “Merry Christmas!”  But Christmas is also a time for reflection of the most glorious of days when the Light of the World came down.

It’s easy to get caught up in the activities, but there is something about a Silent Night that also appeals to my soul during this time of year.

I long to take a moment to sit under the stars and contemplate that special night when the Savior of the world made His grand debut as a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger. Can you imagine what it would have been like to hear the angels singing, “Glory to God in the Highest!” heralding the best news that mankind has ever received?

Because Light came down that day, there is now the possibility for peace to exist on a war-stricken earth and the opportunity to extend goodwill towards others. If we seek Him out, then we come to the realization that we were put on this earth not for our own pleasure, but to glorify something bigger than ourselves. Christmas is a time to let our hearts receive the gift of the Messiah and all He represents, such as salvation and eternal life and His Light in our lives.

All of these things require a time of reflection and pondering, just as Mary did on that miraculous night (even though that night probably wasn’t so “silent” for her). Yet amid all the cattle lowing and the shepherds praising, the gospel of Luke tells us, “But Mary was treasuring up all these things in her heart and meditating on them.” (Luke 2:19)

So yes, we celebrate the season with friends and family, enjoying all the good food and festivities, letting our hearts be merry. But we also follow Mary’s example and slow down for a time of reflection on the wonder of it all.

May your days be merry and filled with His Light.

When It’s NOT the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

standard December 4, 2018 4 responses

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Or is it?

Psychology Today reported that up to 45% of Americans tend to dread this festive holiday season. This high percentage is somewhat shocking, but at the same time it’s not.

Life keeps moving along whether it’s Christmas time or not and we all have things that we’re dealing with. For some it may be financial issues, work deadlines, broken relationships, or maybe even the loss of a loved one.  It could be that the thought of spending the holiday season alone is downright unbearable and it’s hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

However, you have a God who knows this ache in your heart. He sees you and is concerned about you. He is there to wrap you in His faithful love and He whispers in your ear that you are not alone.

If this is how you are feeling this holiday season, allow the words of Psalm 36 to come as a healing balm to your aching soul.

God, Your faithful love is so valuable that people take refuge in the shadow of your wings. In Your light we see light.

While it may not feel like the most wonderful time of the year for some of you in this moment, believe that your God is still faithful. Find refuge in His presence. Turn your face toward the Light.

Spirit of Giving

standard November 27, 2018 2 responses

Do you ever wonder why gift-giving is a part of our Christmas tradition? It’s the time of the year when we find ourselves more mindful of the needs of others, and more generous with our time and money.

It seems that as soon as the Thanksgiving leftovers are put away, the air begins to shift. The perfect tree is selected and wrangled onto the car. Multiple trips are taken to the attic in order to uncover the lights and ornaments that were hastily stored away last January. A prayer is lifted that every bulb is still intact on the strands of Christmas lights. And when the final decoration is placed on top, it is time to stand back and admire the illuminated beauty of it all. However, that is just the beginning of the season. Now it is time to add the brightly wrapped presents to sit under the tree.

Why is it that the Christmas season brings out such a spirit of giving?

It’s because the season is centered around the truth that a great gift was given to mankind in the form of a tiny baby. Whether you are a Christ-follower or not, it doesn’t change the fact that the spirit of giving stems from the timeless truth that God gave the world the ultimate gift when He gave us His Son.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. ~ John 3:16

Who wouldn’t want to unwrap the gift of eternal life? I’m grateful to serve a God who showed me the true spirit of giving by giving me the greatest of gifts, His Son.

An Overflow of Thanksgiving

standard November 20, 2018 2 responses

Thanksgiving is hands down my favorite holiday.

I know that Christmas gets the popular vote, but I’m not a very good shopper or decorator, so even though I love the meaning of Christmas, sometimes the activities of the holiday can stress me out.

However, I am a very good eater, so Thanksgiving is right up my alley. Turkey, and dressing, and pies. Oh my!

The abundance of it all brings forth an overflowing of my plate and for that, I am truly thankful…that is until I’m totally miserable from overeating.

All joking aside, I do love what Thanksgiving stands for: the beginning of a free nation, hard work, a willingness to collaborate with people who look and act differently than the norm, and, of course, the sharing of a meal.

Paul felt similarly when he encouraged the church of Corinth to view their abundance as a chance to extend the gift of grace to others.

2 Corinthians 4:15 says,

All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.

The most delightful thing that we can fill our plate with this Thanksgiving is grace. But we must also share this grace with others so that they can taste and see just how good our God is.

The result is an overflowing of true thanksgiving in our hearts and a chance for our Father to get all the glory.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Hold Fast. Stay True.

standard November 13, 2018 Leave a response

Do you have what it takes to be an “elite achiever?”

Last month I was in Austin, Texas, celebrating my husband as his financial planning practice was recognized as one of the best in the country. While there we had the pleasure of hearing former US Navy Seal Clint Bruce speak on how to be an elite achiever in our everyday lives.

Bruce said that he had written the phrases “HOLD FAST” and “STAY TRUE” on his knuckles so that he would remember what to do in the middle of combat.

HOLD FAST was so that he could brace himself against the onslaught of his enemies, knowing that they were coming for him hot and fast so he needed to be ready to hold his ground. Hold Fast.

STAY TRUE helped him remember the principles that he had been taught while training to be a Seal, knowing that if he deviated from the truth, it could result in death. It also served as a reminder to protect and assist his fellow Seals while in the heat of the battle. Stay True.

These are life-changing principles for us to live by as well.

1 Corinthians 16:13 says, “Be on your guard; stay true in the faith; be courageous; be strong.”

In this verse Paul is teaching us the same thing that this Navy Seal was taught in his training. There is an enemy that seeks to kill us. It is imperative that we be on our guard and hold fast against his attacks. Paul also instructs us to stay true to our faith, even when it’s hard, even when we’re beyond ready to give up, even when we feel lost.

It’s in those moments that the elite achiever takes hold of the Light and stays on course.

So I ask you the same question that Bruce asked me: do you have what it takes to be an elite achiever? I believe you do.

Be courageous. Be strong. HOLD FAST and STAY TRUE.

Falling into Step

standard November 6, 2018 1 response

Well, we thought fall would never come, but here we are in November and it finally arrived!

This is my absolute favorite time of year and I love to take long walks and let the leaves crunch under my shoes as I move my feet. Most of the time I’ve got a sermon playing in my headphones as I’m clipping along at a good pace, but sometimes I’ll slow down, put on some praise and worship, and attempt to take in the beauty of the trees with their changing color.

The other day I was doing just that when a new song came on that I had never heard before called “Come Holy Spirit” by Vertical Worship. It brought me into such a state of worship as the artist sang “fall afresh on me…Holy Spirit come…Holy Spirit move…do what only You can do.” And in that moment I was truly desperate for His presence.

It was as if I was walking in perfect step with the Spirit of the Living God and it was breathtaking.

Galatians 5:25 says, “Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.”

I’m the first to admit that I don’t always get this verse right in my walk with the Lord, but when I do allow myself to live by the Spirit, oh what a difference it makes!

Holy Spirit come. Help me keep in step with You. Fall afresh on me.

Dressing Up as Queen Esther

standard October 30, 2018 1 response

As a little girl I grew up in a wonderful, yet conservative Christian home. We did not celebrate Halloween, but rather we would have a “Fall Festival” on the church grounds in which candy was passed out, but never enough to satisfy my sweet tooth.

We were allowed to dress up but it had to meet Biblical guidelines. So, my choices were automatically limited as a girl.

Should I choose Ruth? Nah, all that grain gleaning isn’t glamorous enough for a 10-year-old.
What about Mary? Ehhh, nobody wants to see child pretending to be preggers.
I thought about Mary Magdalene, but I wasn’t that strong of a runner, so there goes that.

Which left me with the only obvious choice for the third year in a row: I would dress up as Queen Esther.

Esther was a Jewish girl who received the favor of the king’s attendant and because of that favor she was elevated above the competition to be the next queen. Scripture also tells us that Esther won the favor of everyone who saw her and when she was introduced to the king, he favored her over all the other virgins. Because of this divine favor, a simple girl becomes royalty and is crowned Queen of Susa.

With all that favor, who wouldn’t want to dress up as Esther?!

But what we find if we keep reading the book of Esther is that she was given that favor so that she could save the Jews from a genocide. However, she had to be willing to risk her life in order to save others. Esther was willing to use her influence to approach the king (an unthinkable and unprecedented thing!), and because she did a favorable outcome was given to the Jews and Esther’s family and the Jewish people were saved.

If I could go back in time to the days of Fall Festivals, I would tell my 10-year-old self, “Self, don’t be dismayed that you find yourself dressing up as Queen Esther for the third year straight. Instead, see it as an opportunity to not only be royalty for a night, but also as a chance to learn what it means to be willing to stand up for what is right, even when it’s difficult…even when it could cost you dearly. That’s what it means to live a life of favor.”

Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this? ~ Esther 4:14