Hold down the RESET button

Dear Heavenly Father,

You are the creator of rest, the source of peace. Lord as this world goes faster and faster help me to hit reset on my life and get back to You. I am guilty of looking for my peace in the things and people of this world but I know deep down none of that will bring what I am looking for. So renew my soul, help me to rest.

In Jesus name,

Amen.


 

Today I hit RESET.

As a teacher I have the luxury of hitting reset every May. I realize not everyone has that privilege but I am so grateful for it. I woke to the sound of our daughter whispering to the dog so she wouldn’t wake me up. I needed the extra rest this morning more than normal.

What I really needed was to hit reset on my life. We have daily resets sure, but I needed a hard reset. It seems to be a pattern in my life, April/May hits and my priorities are off. So I thought I would share with you all how I hit reset in hopes that I can encourage and motivate someone else that it can be done.

  1. Carve out time for prayer and reading the word.
    1. So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Romans 10:17
      • The only way to strengthen and grow my faith is to be connected to the vine. That vine is God. I need to read His word, hear His word and meditate on His word DAILY! So when my priorities get out of whack and I stop reading my bible or diving into a daily bible study I often stop meditating on His word. And I can tell you that’s not good!
      • My goal and God’s will is to have me thinking about Him constantly. When I enter the store He wants to be on my heart and mind so that I may see a person in need rather than my watch that says “Hurry, you have a million things to do! Don’t stop and talk to anyone, you don’t have time for others.”
      • He wants to be on my heart and mind so that He can point out when my child needs me to slow down and smell the flowers or enjoy a walk with him or her.
      • God’s commandments are good and He has purpose in all of them but if we are too busy to open the door when He knocks we are living outside of the will He has for our lives. So find that time for prayer to talk to your Creator and more importantly find the time to listen. Dive into a new bible study or if you are like me finish the three you are half way through.
  2. Take a look on who you are surrounding yourself with and what you are letting influence you.
    1. “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” Philippians 4:8
      • This is my least favorite topic because it convicts me the most. Even typing this makes me want to hit the ground and beg God for forgiveness for my idle words, poor attitude and foul language. It just makes sad because I know I am not being the humble and obedient daughter He is raising me to be. Dear Lord, forgive me. I am sorry. Please help me to be more like Jesus. Amen.
      • Ok ya’ll know exactly what I am talking about don’t you? That extra few minutes in the break room that tempts you into a conversation about a co-workers or work situation. Or the family member or neighbor who tests your patience and the next thing you know you are slinging mud in the form of foul names. Lord help us all!
      • Or maybe it’s a book, magazine, website or television series that you are enthralled in and craving even though you KNOW if Jesus was standing in the room with you that you wouldn’t be watching or reading it.
      • I know in the middle of these encounters and situations that I am wrong but yet I let anger, frustration, excitement and fear tempt me and pull me. DEAR LORD HIT RESET. Close down those open tabs, turn off the music on repeat and walk away!
      • You know what my absolute best defense is in these situations … WALK AWAY! Walk away from the gossip, negative conversation and foul language. Turn off the t.v. series, close the book/magazine and close the tab on the computer. PLEASE hear me when I say I know this isn’t easy. But from my personal experience it gets easier each time. The temptation gets less and less when we can remove toxic people and situations from our lives. I know this isn’t always the case but many times it is.
      • Chose to let what is lovely, pure and good influence your life. Let God make you happy by focusing on what is good and right in this world. Instead of lamenting over a co-worker who is moved into your department chose to pray over them and that they add a new positive element to your day. Chose to see the good in a neighbor, co-worker or family member that always seems negative or spiteful. Chose to see their need and hurt and pray over them. Again I do not claim this is easy but if you have ever repeated the verse “I can do all things through Christ which strength me (Phil. 4:13)” then you know you can WITH Christ.
  3. Find an accountability partner 
    1. “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17
    2.  “Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.” Proverbs 27:6
    3. “He who rebukes a man will afterward find more favor Than he who flatters with the tongue.” Proverbs 28:23
      • I have some amazing people in my life who will not hesitate to call me out! However, we are all good at hiding our feelings, intentions, activities and whereabouts when we want to. That being said if you really want an accountability partner you have to be willing to be open and honest, welcoming the sometimes raw conversations that a God-loving friend may need to have with you.
      • Ask yourself, do you really want to be surrounded by a YES-man/woman? You know, the guy or girl who will help you find an excuse or validation for just about anything you have or will do in your life. The friend you are tempted to talk to when you want to hear that you were right. I get it those conversation feel good and make us feel like we are justified BUT are those people growing you?
      • At the end of the day we should want to be around people who challenge and grow us in our faith. We should crave the friend who prays with us not the friend that helps us justify what we said or did.
      • So thank you to Tonya, Denise, Hannah, Holly, Kristen, Evan, Brandie, Pat, my mom and my whole Monday night bible study for the verbal throat punches I sometimes need!
      • There have been times where I have walked away from conversations with these people rolling my eyes and mumbling “well clearly you are wrong” only to sit on their words for a day and realize they are right. The reason I entertain their rebuking words is because I know that they are speaking out of love and not selfish or bitter intent. So find the person or people who are God-loving and God-fearing to talk to. And if they are honest and loving they WILL help you push RESET when you need it.

God surely needed someone to hear this because I sat down and wrote this all at once resetwhen rarely happens. So get back out there! Hit RESET and remember from where all
good things flow!

Jesus, let your words rebuke, heal and love. Amen.

 

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Fan the flames

Dear Heavenly Father,

May Your light in me never grow dim. May your fire in me never grow cold. Thank you for loving me.

Amen.


“For this reason I remind you to fan into flames the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. 2 Timothy 1:6

At first it starts slow. One missed reading on a tired or busy weekday. And then you miss a church service because you really do need to catch up on some paperwork or that yard work that is mounting. Maybe you sign your kids up for a travel ball league that practices on Sundays. But don’t worry it’s just for a season.

And the lie begins. That lie that says “it’s just for a season”. You tell yourself that you will get back into the swing of attending regular service when the kid’s ball season is over or when you can just get this project finished. Or maybe you tell yourself that it really isn’t a big deal, it’s not like God will keep you out of Heaven for missing a daily reading, bible study or a church service.

And you know what, you’re right. Just like God won’t deny our passage into His kingdom, most friendships and relationships won’t crumble from a slight over look or absence. But over time those little absences and over looks add up to neglect. Satan always starts small with a whisper or two, and he always adds a little bit of God’s truth into his lies so that you will go along with the deception.

Before you know it the flame that once burned bright is now a small ember ready to be snuffed out with the slightest breeze.

My husband and I are leaving tonight for a much needed trip away from our busy lives. No work related phone calls and no settlingimg_9274-1 fights between children. Just us, an overnight bag, hiking boots and a free weekend to have an adventure, dream and remember.

For me our anniversary trip is the adult equivalent to Christmas for a kid. I love the idea of not being interrupted. I love that it’s just the two of us. I’ll never forget our first solo trip; I wondered what we would talk about. Now I crave that alone time. We laugh, talk and somewhere along the journey I always end up looking at him and remembering why I love him so much and how thankful I am that God gave him to me. I remember the struggle to get to this place in our lives, the lessons we’ve learned along the way and how grateful I am that we continue to fight for each other.

I remember meeting him for the first time in a dimly lit dance hall. He had just been hired to work for the summer and I was quickly intrigued with him. As summer turned into fall what was once curiosity turned into love. And just like that there was a fire I never wanted to put out. But as with any fire it needs to be tended if you want to keep it going.

Our anniversary trip is always needed come March but we wouldn’t make it from one anniversary to the next without tending to the fire on all the other 364 days of the year.

Our relationships with others are much like our relationship with Christ. We need to take time to tend to and grow our relationship with Him. It is true that one misstep in our relationship with God won’t damn us to hell but it is a missed opportunity none the less. When we miss a daily reading or prayer time we miss an opportunity to stop and communicate with our Creator. We miss an opportunity to learn from Him and for Him to tell us how much He loves us. Who doesn’t want to be reminded they are loved, wanted and were sacrificed for.

I need time away with God just like I do with my husband. It is in my alone time with God that our relationship grows. At first I also wondered what we would talk about. But now I share my dreams with Him and He shares His with me. We talk of sin in my life and sin in the world. It’s in those conversations and readings that I can repent and ask for forgiveness for where I have wronged Him. And it’s in those same conversations and readings where I am reminded of His covenant with me. I am reminded of what He sacrificed for me so that I never have to be separated from Him again.

So don’t believe the lie. The lie that convinces you that missed time with God isn’t a big deal. Fan the flames and keep the fire burning. Never miss an opportunity to get to know Him better. It’s a chance to remember your blessings and to tell Him thank you. It’s a chance to look at Him and remember why you love Him and continue to fight to know Him more.


Challenge: What ways can you fan the flames? How can you continue to know God more each day?

Words are a powerful weapon.

Dear Lord,

Our cup is running over. Let our blessings, bless others. Help us to be good stewards of what you have blessed us with. I pray this home is used for your glory. Thank you for the living word!

Amen.


It has been years of dreaming. I can honestly say I never thought it would happen. It seemed like it was too much of a blessing! Have you ever heard of such a dumb contradiction?

I guess when it comes down to it I just didn’t think we deserved such a thing. That’s the thing about blessings and gifts, you don’t need to earn them. God gives freely of His love and blessings and you can’t do a thing to earn them.

Each step of our journey: purchasing the land, selling the house and building on the property, has been bathed in prayer and scripture.

In the months it took us to buy the land I circled it in prayer asking God to increase our territory per a prayer I found in 1 Chronicles 4:10. When our house took forever to sell I prayed and packed boxes with scripture on them stepping out in faith that God was in

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control and that He would sell our house when the time was right. And when the barn went up on the land I wrote scripture on the beams as a way to symbolize that our lives IMG_2788and that barn were built in faith, hope and on the solid rock of Christ.

Over the last nine months as I have watched the house be built step by step; I have prayed for each man that has stepped foot in it. This weekend we hit a milestone, the drywall was hung. Before the drywall was hung I meant to write scripture on each wall in every room so that we would always be surrounded with God’s word but it didn’t happen. God had a better idea.

I believe God wanted His word beneath our feet to remind us that He is the solid rock on which we stand. “In the beginning was the Word, the Word was with God, and the Word was God (NIV, John 1:1). It’s not a coincidence that over the past year God has laid this scripture on my heart.

So on Sunday I got to work. Each room of our house, even our closet, has a specific piece of scripture written on the floor. After the floors are covered I will place the piece of scripture someone where in the room to continually remind us that we stand on God’s promises both literally and figuratively.

The entry way was one of the rooms that God gave me first. Coming into our home I wrote the verse Joshua 24:15 to remind us that our family serves the Living God! Anyone IMG_8961who enters our home should know by our actions that we serve the Lord. Upon leaving our home I knew we needed to be reminded of our mission in the world. We are called to go into the world, to the ends of the earth sharing the new of Jesus Christ, making disciples and baptizing in His name as Jesus told us in Matthew 28:19.


In our living room I wrote a verse from the book of Matthew. Matthew 5:14 reads, “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.” We are to reflect the light that God put in us and shine for Christ. If we shine Christ’s light we can not be IMG_8942hidden or over taken with darkness. If that isn’t our living room I don’t know what is. Our living room is bathed in light. Ever since I was a little girl I have been drawn to light. Lamps, chandeliers, night lights, candles, small windows, large windows: I am drawn to them all. So when we were planning to build I had one request, windows everywhere so we could soak in the light. The light makes me happy. I believe God designed me to crave light. I want to be reminded daily that as Christ followers we are not to hide our light but rather to soak in Christ’s light and reflect it.

 


Our kitchen was a no brainer. Jesus told the devil when he was tempting Him in the desert that, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” This verse reminds me that my life, my real life is not here on earth with a full stomach and a comfortable home. My life and the saving of that life are in the words of God.

When I walked into our panty I was reminded that we are not to store up treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal but rather store up treasures in heaven (Matthew 6:19-20, NIV).


The mudroom was an interesting revelation. The mudroom is the room where children and animals will come in and out daily and if not careful you never know what they may track or let in. So the verse that came to me was,

“Because you have made the Lord—my refuge, the Most High—your dwelling place,
no harm will come to you; no plague will come near your tent. For He will give His angels orders concerning you, to protect you in all your ways. They will support you with their hands so that you will not strike your foot against a stone. You will tread on the lion and the cobra; you will trample the young lion and the serpent.”       (Psalms 91:9-13, Holman)IMG_0082

With this scripture I am speaking protection over our back entrance that may be unguarded. May the Lord protect our back door and any evil or harm that comes near our home. Oh Satan loves to trick us and come in through back doors we are not guarding so we must always pray for protection and discernment in all areas of our lives.


Like our clothes, our souls also need to be renewed and cleaned from time to time. In our laundry room I wanted to be reminded that as I wash, dry, fold and sort our clothes that it is the cleansing and renewing of the soul that is what matters most in life. IMG_0083

WASHING INSTRUCTIONS FOR THE SOUL: Confess with your mouth that Jesus is the Lord of your life, acknowledge His death at Calvary for your sins, repent and repeat as needed.

“God, create a clean heart for me and renew a steadfast[a] spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10, HCSB).

 

 


The first bedroom/bathroom to be written in was our daughters. Oh you guys … I love this little girl! I have wished for her face since I was a little girl myself. I can’t say I prayed for the boys, please don’t take that as unloving, at the time I didn’t know any better. My husband and I hit a point after our second son was born where we had to stop and decide whether we wanted to bring anymore children into this world. I wanted

more, but all you had to do was watch the news to know this place is going to Hell in a hand basket. So I prayed. I said God if you want Ryan and I to raise another child then let it be Your will and if You chose to send us another child I promise to raise him or her in the word and they will know You. As Samuel was a gift to Hannah that was given back to the Lord, we will point her back to God each day of her life. So on her floor I wrote one of the most famous pieces of scripture associated with children to remind us of our promise to God for her life,

“For this child I prayed; and Jehovah hath given me my petition which I asked of him” (1 Sam. 1:27, ASV).

And then I spoke life over her room.

May her childhood and teenage years be filled with thoughts of God and all the blessings He has for her. “Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable—if there is any moral excellence and if there is any praise—dwell on these things (Phil. 4:8, HCSB)

As she grows let it be in the Lord and the knowledge of what He has done for her. I pray she shares her knowledge and God’s grace with others on her path. “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity (2 Peter 3:18, HCSB).

And lastly may she fulfill the purpose and work that God has set before her. “…Who knows, perhaps you have come to your royal position for such a time as this” (Esther 4:14, HCSB).

May she be a women of God whose prayers bring peace, healing and love to ALL who encounter her. May the life she leads be a clear sacrifice for the Lord. May she point others back to God with her every breath and beat of her heart. May her life be abundant in love for others, thankfulness, laughter and with the peace of the Lord.

In her bathroom I wanted her to be reminded that outer cleanliness is important but that her inner cleanliness is more important. So as she readies herself in the morning let her have a spirit that is wiling, with thoughts of God’s grace and forgiveness.

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9, HCSB)

“God, create a clean heart for me and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not banish me from Your presence or take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore the joy of Your salvation to me, and give me a willing spirit. Then I will teach the rebellious Your ways, and sinners will return to You” (Psalms 51:10-13, HCSB).


Our sons rooms were just as important as our daughters. We aren’t just raising boys to be men but men who are rooted in God’s love and faithfulness. Men who will become leaders, members of their community and God willing, husbands and fathers.

In our eldest son’s room I wrote John 3:16 so that he may never forget that God sacrificedIMG_0109 His only son for Chris’s salvation. Jesus came specifically for us and called us each by our name!  I pray Chris remembers what we have taught him about the Lord and that he follows our instruction (Proverbs 1:8-9, HCSB). I pray that even in his youth he is an example to other followers in faith, conduct, speech, purity and love (1 Tim 4:12, HCSB). And no matter what that Chris trusts in the Lord with all his heart and does not lean on his own understanding. I pray he submits his ways to the Lord because I know the Lord will make his path straight if he is obedient (Proverbs 3:5-6, NIV). (slight mistake with the colon placement when I wrote this)

In addition to my scripture in Chris’s room he wanted to add his own, so with a thankful heart I handed him the Sharpie. He wrote Phil. 4:13 to remind himself that he can do all things through Christ who strengthens him.


Next came our middle child. It’s no secret that this boy has a heart for the helpless, the unsaved and the homeless. I pray he always knows that God put these burdens on his heart for a reason. “Carry one another’s burdens; in this way you will fulfill the law of
Christ” (Gal. 6:2, HCSB). He was called to serve others and love BIG. Along with this we prayed Psalm 55:22 over him and that when he is heavily burdened for others he can cast his cares on the Lord and he will not be shaken.

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I also wrote John 3:16 in his room as this is one of his favorite verses. It is also a reminder that God came for him specifically, and He came in a big way! Every little boy loves a super hero and you can’t find one better than Jesus.

We pray that he, “Flee from youthful passions, and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. But reject foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they breed quarrels. The Lord’s slave must not quarrel, but must be gentle to everyone, able to teach, and patient, instructing his opponents with gentleness. Perhaps God will grant them repentance leading them to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Tim 2:22-25, HCSB).


When it came to their shared bathroom I wrote Psalm 51:2 “Wash away my guilt
and cleanse me from my sin.” If there is a transformative verse about turning pee and spit into healing waters somewhere I must have missed it … LOL! #boysbathroomsareGROSS


In the loft where the television and video games will be set up I knew what needed to be spoken over the space. Matthew 6:22 says, “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light.” May God protect what our eyes see in this room. Let us seek and see good things. IMG_0095

The small study was given the scripture of Proverbs 1:7, “The fear of the Lord
is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and discipline.” May the Lord give us knowledge, wisdom and discipline as a family.


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And last was our bedroom, closet and bathroom.

In the bathroom I chose Psalm 143:8 because this is where we begin to ready ourselves for the day ahead. I want to experience God’s faithful love first thing in the morning. I want Him to reveal to me the way I should go because I long for His guidance.

In the closet I wrote Matthew 6:31 to remind us both that God provides our every need.

And lastly our bedroom. Our marriage is our first ministry. We are to love one another, forgive, support and never leave each other. A few years ago we taught a marriage seminar called Love and Respect by Dr. Eggrich that changed our lives and our marriage. Through scripture from Ephesians we learned of God’s model and intention for our marriage and all marriages. These verse remind us of our different roles in the marriage.

Ephesians 4:26 reminds us never go to bed angry because this is how the devil gets a foothold. So if you don’t want an uninvited guest in your marriage don’t let the devil weasel his way in by going to bed angry. I must admit this is easier said than done at times but I am always grateful for the reminder.

1 Corinthians 13:4-8 are notably the most famous verses associated with marriage because they are usually spoken during a wedding ceremony. These verse remind us that we took vows to each other and God.

And lastly I wrote  Song of Solomon 3:4 which reminds us that we have found each other and we should not let go just as we hold on to Christ’s love for us.


I must add that after writing this scripture throughout our new home we have encountered some spiritual warfare. We have endured sickness, major stress, family hardships, set backs and theft. All I can figure is that I did something pretty powerful by filling our home with God’s word! 

Dear Lord,

Thank you for your living word! Your word means business and I know it carries GREAT and MIGHTY power! I rebuke any evil or harm that try to settle on our property or in our home. The devil knows he must flee at the mention of your name so JESUS JESUS JESUS come and take up residence with us! Protect my home, my family, my marriage and my husband at every turn. Knock down any arrows that might be shot at us. Lord this home, property, marriage and family belong to you. Strengthen us as we continue to follow you!

In the Name of Jesus,  AMEN!

I CHALLENGE YOU … fill your home with scripture. You may not be able to rip up the carpet and write on the subfloor but you can place a piece of scripture in each room on an index card. Pray over every room in your home asking God to bless and protect your home.

When serving sucks, suck it up.

Dear Lord,

I can’t tell you how thankful I am that you are in charge and not me. I would destroy every good blessing that came into my life if I was in charge. I am thankful that even though you call me to do hard and difficult things you also fill me so that I can accomplish the tasks which you have given me. And thank you for the reminder about grumbling too. Because as you served me by pouring out your life not once did you grumble. Thank you Jesus.

Amen.


Forgive me if the title is offensive. I am trying to be honest about my journey and how God is sanctifying me. I have tried to change the title a hundred times but I just keep coming back to this one. I want you to know I am thankful God knows my heart and knows I am sinful yet He loves me still and continues to teach me daily.

OK let’s cut to the chase … God called each of us to be His mouthpiece, His ambassador and His servant.

“Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me” (John 12:26, NIV).

We are to die to ourselves and our earthly nature and get about the business of kingdom work. Moses couldn’t escape it, Jonah couldn’t hide from it and even Jacob wrestled with it. Why we think our journey will be anymore comfortable then the people who went before us I have no clue. Maybe I am speaking to myself but dang it if I am not distraught when I hit a roadblock.

So what do we do when serving people just sucks.

We suck it up and settle in.

I hate that answer. I want to shake my head like a two year old refusing to take nap. I want to argue with God and ask for another assignment. Lord give me something else this isn’t fun anymore. Why are people so unwilling to hear your message? God how can the world not see that I am serving others because you asked me to?

And then I let out a groan as I quickly remember this world refuses God, just as I do at times. So if I am looking for validation and comfort from the world I probably shouldn’t hold my breath or Jesus and I will be meeting up quicker than intended.

I can think of so many times in the bible where Jesus healed, redeemed, forgave and loved and still His own people sentenced Him to death. I sentenced Him to death. Why? Because accepting His message and His gift means EVERYTHING has to change. The way we think, feel, behave and believe.

So what do we do as we settle into serving a world who doesn’t want to be served?

  1. We listen – Luke 11:28 
    • God knew. He knew we’d need a voice in the wilderness when we were lost and looking for our way. He gave us the Holy Spirit to help guide us. He gave us a voice inside of us that helps to lead us toward the hurting, the brokenness and devastated so that we might be His mouthpiece. So we listen to that voice the way we listen to our GPS in the car. It will tell us the appropriate time to go, stop and even when we need to do a u-turn. So we settle in and wait on the voice, and we listen.
  2. We shut out – John 10:10
    • This step is just as important as the first. You can’t hear your GPS if your radio is blaring, and you can’t hear God if you are listening to the devil feed you lies. Lets stop for a moment and make one thing clear. The devil is here to kill, steal and destroy (John 10:10 ESV). He is ultimate bully, way worse than anyone you ‘ve met on the grade school play ground. He will, if allowed, beat you down in every way he possibly can. He also loves to use what you love and are called to do to try and destroy you. Why does he do this if he already knows his fate? Just because he knows he is going down doesn’t mean he won’t down without a fight. You are God’s greatest joy and if the devil can mess with God by messing with His greatest joy then guess what … the devil is coming for YOU!
    • But don’t let this fact trouble you because you are covered by the blood of Jesus and the devil may pull out every stop to get you but you are a child of God with that title comes with protection! So settle in and shut the devil out! Shut out his lies, his gossip, his hatefulness and his whispers. The minute you hear his whisper or see his actions at play say out loud, “Get behind me SATAN! I am a child of God and you can’t have me! In Jesus name!” Please realize that the devil will use people to whisper his lies to you. He will use people to act hateful towards you and he will use the things and people you love most to get to you. Because if you think about it that’s two birds with one stone. If he can cause you to turn on your fellow man then all the better for him.
      • So shut the devil out. Before your feet even hit the ground in the morning ask God to protect you and help you to recognize the devil’s snares. Ask God for His divine discernment.
  3. We surround – Proverbs 27:17
    • Personally this is the easiest for me. Settle in and surround yourself with people who sharpen you, who breath life into you and people who point you back to Christ! Find people who feed you Jesus and keep you accountable. Back to the driving analogy, surround yourself with people who help you navigate the path toward Jesus.
  4. We remember – 1 Peter 2:21
    • Settle in and remember you are on a mission. Your mission is to go where God calls you and to spread the gospel when and how He commands. We are slaves to God’s work and that my friend is a beautiful thing! Remember the mission will not always be easy. It wasn’t easy for John the Baptist who was beheaded in prison, Steven who was stoned to death or Paul who scholars believed was decapitated for his faith. Remember we are on a mission and once it is completed we have an eternal home in heaven to enjoy.
  5. We GO – Matthew 28:19
    • So settle on the task at hand and go! Don’t stop, just go. Jesus told us in Matthew 28:19 to go! Go and make disciples baptizing in His name. We have a mission to complete so we GO. We go to the places that no one else wants to go. That may be your workplace, neighborhood or even your church. We go and preach the message of love and redemption even when people don’t want to hear the message. We preach by our actions, by serving others first and then with our words, telling them Jesus loves them. When serving people becomes hard we can easily be thrown off course and decide that the mission is too much. I don’t know about you but that’s always my first response because it’s much easier to quit when serving becomes messy. However, as followers of Jesus who are called to go, so we GO! Don’t stop, just GO!

If you are in a difficult season where serving people is messy and difficult, whether those people are your own small children, co-workers or a church bursting at the seams hungry for more, I hope you have found a new sense of direction and renewal in God’s word today. Keep on fighting the good fighting. The race isn’t over yet.


CHALLENGE: Find friend to pray with you. We are not alone on the journey.

Sharing and other lessons I learned in preschool ~ with love to North Terrace.

Dear Heavenly Father,

Thank you for sisters in Christ. Thank you that in the garden you knew man should not be alone. Thank you for always bombarding me with Your thoughts, ideas and scripture when You assign me a writing prompt. You never leave me in the dark about what You want me to explore and write about. Let my words today be Yours and let them encourage someone to share.

Amen.


This morning I stood in front of the television hurriedly trying to find an episode of Little Bear on You Tube so as to coax my children to stay in the living room together for just awhile longer. They are suckers for cartoons that remind them of the good old days, and by good old days I mean their preschool years.

Our morning cartoons much like our preschool days are but a distant memory but man were they good. I mean what is not to love about the preschool years! You take naps, show and tell, make your first school friends and you get to feel “big” for the first time in your short life. As well as having fun you learn your first and most value lessons that you will carry with you the rest of your life.

preschool 1

Official Westbrook Nursery School Ambassador photo

I will never forget my two years spent at Westbrook Nursery School in Canton, Ohio. I was a social ambassador of sorts. When a new student would arrive my job would begin.

I was often tasked with showing new students around and making them feel welcome. I shared the ins and outs of preschool protocol. For me this is where I learned the real value of sharing. I learned that the world isn’t so dark, scary or overwhelming when you know you’re not alone. The ability to help someone else by sharing your personal experiences, successes, failures and fears is invaluable.

God tells us in Hebrews 13:16 “Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God (Hebrews 13:16, NIV).” Indeed we can share our physical goods and possessions and we should but the type of sharing I want to focus on today is the sharing of our experiences, both bad and good.

This blog was started a year ago to share the journey of my faith as a way to encourage and enbolden others to share their stories. What can I say I was a preschool prodigy, I’m an overachiever in the skill of sharing. So as I hit a year milestone of my little blog I think it would be a good time to discuss the importance of sharing.

When God reveals Himself to us it is in hopes that we share it with others. We are His ambassadors. Sharing God’s message isn’t always easy but it is always worth it. There are going to be times when you will see the heart warming affects of sharing God’s message, times when you will think the people you are sharing with don’t deserve it and other times when you will be laughed at and ridiculed for sharing. However, we are told in Matthew 28:19 “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and the Holy Spirit (Matt. 28:19, NIV)“. Jesus doesn’t mince words, GO SHARE!

One of my favorite stories of sharing the gospel is from Acts 8. An angel of the Lord sends Phillip from Jeresulam to Gaza. At the time Philip has no idea why but he is obedient. Once there Phillip encounters an Ethiopian official who is traveling along reading the book of Isaiah. Phillip is told what to say and ultimately leads this man to be baptized and saved. And the man “…went on his way rejoicing (Acts 8:39, NIV).

I also think back to Jonah and his trouble with sharing. God asked Jonah to go to Nineveh to preach to the people there and Jonah resisted because he didn’t think the people there deserved it. God showed Jonah that his opinion on whether or not the people deserved it jonahwas not his decision but God’s. Jonah eventually preached God’s message after three days in the belly of a large fish. Jonah ultimately came to understand that obedience was up to him but judgement was up to God.

Lastly I am reminded from Jesus that you will be laughed at and ridiculed most by the people you know. “Coming to His hometown, He taught the people in their synagogue, and they were astonished. “Where did this man get such wisdom and miraculous powers?” they asked. 55“Is this not the carpenter’s son? Isn’t His mother’s name Mary, and aren’t His brothers James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas?Aren’t all His sisters with us as well? Where then did this man get all these things?” 57And they took offense at Him. But Jesus said to them, “Only in his hometown and in his own household” is a prophet without honor. 58 And He did not do many miracles there, because of their unbelief (Matthew 13:54-58, BSB)

I recently was invited to North Terrace Church of Christ in Zanesville by my dearest friend to come and share with a group of women. The topic I chose to share about was my experience with bible and prayer journaling. Now as I have already stated sharing comes easy to me. It also helped that I felt welcome by these women as they intently listened to my journey of journaling, and at the end asked some really great questions. I guess you could say some of them “went on their way rejoicing”. It was a pretty amazing night for me; I was both energized and encouraged by them.

I believe God gives me these experiences to encourage and strengthen me. He reminds me that not only was I created to share but that I was specifically given a passion for it. God is strengthening me and showing me His ability and will for my life for the times when I don’t feel comfortable sharing.

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My husband and I sharing God’s message on love and marriage

Even though I have a passion for sharing there are times when I am scared and times when I know I will be ridiculed and laughed at for speaking God’s name. I can’t tell you how many times I have had an idea for a blog post but fear stops me in my tracks. What if it’s not good enough or people think my thoughts are silly or the one that stops me the most: this topic has been preached on, spoken about and written about so many times that my voice can’t possibly add anything new to the topic! There are also moments when I am called to publicly pray for someone and disobey God’s call because I am sure they will dismiss me.

All these things being said I love when the Holy Spirit speaks to me through other people’s stories, struggles, successes and prayers, and that is what makes me continue too share God’s message.  The bible itself is a collection of true stories that are meant to encourage and strengthen us. Could you imagine if Paul didn’t write letters to the various churches of the time or if John never wrote down his experience on the island of Patmos? Now I am not saying I am Paul or John but what I am saying to myself and to you is … GO SHARE! sharing

Share your story of how God is working miraculously in your life. Share how you’ve witnessed prayer work in your life and in others. Share how you’ve been discipled and how you’re discipling others. Share your failures, someone needs to know that it doesn’t always work out perfectly the first time you try. Share your stories of salvation and baptism, even if it was years ago, someone today needs to be encouraged by how God worked in your life, and how He can and will work in theirs. Share on social media. Share by writing. Share your home, your time and your life. Share by speaking to a coworker, a neighbor or a family member. Share in your church and in your community.  And share even if God calls you to walk up to a stranger and let them know that the creator of the universe knows their pain, hears their cries and sent you to pray with them right there in the Kroger’s parking lot. Yes this happened to me and I was never more hesitant; but also never more in awe of how much God loves us. He stopped me in my tracks so that this women could know He loves her.

If God has touched your life in any way or capacity go and share. You don’t have to have a public forum or a mega church to get the message of God’s love out there. I am always reminded that God poured His word into His twelve disciples who then went out and shared His message. There was no mega church or major platform, just obedience.


Thank you North Terrace for letting me share my journey of journaling. Thank you for encouraging me with your smiles, note taking and questions. I certainly “walked way rejoicing” that night knowing I shared the love that God has put in me.

CHALLENGE:

Who can you share with today? Find someone to share your story with this week. Share your home, your time or your words to bring God’s love to someone today. We were never meant to walk this journey alone. If you have a talent or gift that you feel God is calling you to use then here is your sign that it’s time to begin using it… GO!

If found please return to …

Dear Heavenly Father,

Thank you. I am not sure I can even find words to express what You have done. I am still in awe and at times when I look at the purse a giggle slips out and then a shake of my head. Never let me tire of Your greatness. Never let me forget that You hear my prayers. Never let me forget how much You truly love me.

Amen.


 

I knew. I can only say I just knew it would happen. It wasn’t me or my ability that was going to make it happen. In fact it was the understanding that I could NOT make it happen that well …. made it happen. Think about it. If a certain task is completely out of your ability what do you do? You find someone who can do it. God loves to use our weakness to show His strength and love for us.

Let me back up and start the story from the beginning…

Colorado is magical. The towering mountains, the blinding white snow caps and yes IMG_2052
some of the best native jewelry I have ever laid my eyes on. Once a year I am blessed enough to get away for a small weekend trip with my husband to celebrate our anniversary. Every year we try to pick a different place to explore together. Last year we chose Colorado. I fell in love with every part of it.

When we take our trip we always try to bring back one or two things that remind us of our travels. My husband who is very generous by nature followed me around Denver from shop to shop trying to helpIMG_2127 me find just the right piece of native jewelry.  The first store we walked into had a few beautiful pieces but nothing I was swooning over. As I continued to walk around the tiny shop I saw a small leather shoulder bag. It was beautifully aged and worn. The brown bag was adorned with one brass buckle to lengthen or shorten the strap and inside was a stitched multi-colored card holder. It was handmade. Someone had cut and stitched it with care and attention. No fancy label or expensive name and it cost me all of $27.oo. I was in love. It was perfect and I switched my purse the minute we got back to the car.  We spent the next few days traveling around Colorado and this handmade bag stayed permanently slung across my body and quickly became the one piece that reminded me of our amazing trip to Colorado.

And then just like that it was gone. 5 months I carried that bag and in one evening it was gone. Yes it was partly my fault for not locking the door to my car and for being too trusting of the neighborhood we were in. In July we had gone to Virginia Beach for a quick vacation with our children and then on the way home we had stopped in Fredericksburg to visit my grandparents in their new home. We were so excited when we arrived that we quickly jumped out and went in for a visit never thinking to grab my purse or a few other valuables that were in the car.

In the morning when I went out to retrieve my purse it wasn’t there. I was convinced my husband had grabbed it. But upon further investigation of the car we realized other items were missing. Someone had stolen the contents of our car sometime in the night. My grandfather, husband and I combed the neighborhood looking for any trace of our items. As I walked through the small patch of trees and bushes near my grandparents’ house I prayed. I prayed that God would returned my purse. I remember praying, “Dear Lord you know the hands that took my purse and you know where it is at this very moment. Please restore it. Lord lead me to it. Help me find it.” I was sure at any moment I was going to stumble over it or see it in the distance.

Sadly that did not happen. We called the police, reported it stolen and continued to look for another hour combing the neighborhood and trash cans. Later on that day was the first time I told my husband, “I will get my purse back. I am going to get it back. I don’t know how or when but it will come back to me.” He listened and gave me a smile but clearly he did not believe my claim.

So the question is why did I believe it would come back to me. The assurance came from the Holy Spirit. I had prayed walking through the woods and neighborhood, and as I prayed for it an assurance came over me that it would be returned. I had no earthly reason to believe that this would happen. Most people who have purses or other items stolen probably never see them again and especially not if those items are stolen while you are on vacation in another state. So while I had no earthly reason to believe I would ever see my purse again I had faith in the assurance that came over me, so much so that I began to tell people that I would get my purse back eventually.

I encouraged my husband and children, quite often, to pray because we would see my purse again. In the meantime I wrote a prayer in my journal so that when it did return I would have proof that God answered my prayer. In this prayer I prayedIMG_8373 that my purse be returned with the exception of one thing, a scripture card from the book of James that I had tucked into my wallet.

Over the next month we prayed hard over my purse. We all did. My five-year old daughter prayed with unwavering faith for mommy’s purse to be sent back. We prayed for the person who stole it and their journey with the Lord. We asked God to bless them and watch over them and to somehow let this situation bring them to know the Lord. We prayed for the person who would send it back to us. We prayed that they would be blessed in a way that only God could bless them.

As the summer crept into fall and fall into winter it dawned on me that I needed to contact the couple that had bought our home in May and let then know that I was expecting a package at some point. It just so happened that I had to stop over one evening to pick up some old mail and I explained I was expecting a package. While standing in the living room with the new home owner and my friend (also an old neighbor) I told her that I was waiting on a package to be mailed back to me and that it would most likely be mailed to my old address. I went on to explain to my friend Lindsay, who is also a strong believer, that I had prayed my purse would be returned and I was sure it was going to be.

Then Christmas came. Over Christmas dinner I made the claim again to my brother who was inquiring about a pair of earrings my husband had bought at his store a few years back. I explained to my brother that unfortunately my earrings were in the purse but that I was going to get the purse back eventually and I prayed the earrings would be in it.

AND THEN IT HAPPENED … December 26th I was standing at the LL Bean counter when I saw the message on my phone and screamed, “OH MY GOSH! You’ve got to be kidding me! This is unreal!” Which prompted the lady across the counter to ask if I was ok. In disbelief all I could say was, “God is good!”

The message was from a wonderful lady in Virginia who worked for an apartment complex near my grandparents’ house. She was contacting me to see if a purse that had been turned into her office belonged to me. I was excited and grateful! As soon as I could get out of the store I called her. She explained that someone had been walking and saw the purse laying outside near a small pond and they had turned it into the office. She said that she had no idea how to get a hold of me but hoped that a search on social media would lead to something.

“I don’t know if you believe in God,” I said “but I have been praying for the return of this purse since it was stolen and I have been praying for you. I didn’t know it was you but I prayed for the person who would eventually return it to me.” She then told me that she was a believer and that she had been seeking to draw closer to God lately. She said she had found my blog while searching for me and had read some of my posts and that they were really inspiring. That evening she took the time to deliver the purse to my grandparents who then in turn sent it back to me.

When I called my husband to tell him what had happened he was in disbelief. “You said you would get that purse back! Weren’t you just talking about it last night at dinner?! Matter of fact you told me more than a few times it would happen!”

My only response to him and anyone who asks is … I only knew because the Holy Spirit gave me the assurance. This whole story has nothing to do with the purse but rather God training me. You see God is trying to teach me to hear and know His voice and to trust the assurance only He can give me. God is also stretching my faith. If I would have had something less sentimental and special stolen would I have prayed? Would I have continued to pray for 6 months if I didn’t have that initial assurance from the Holy Spirit? I can tell you my husband’s cell phone was stolen and we didn’t say a single prayer to have it returned. The cell phone was replaced and not another thought was given to it.

Not every prayer I pray will be answered in the way I want and I know this. I did not find the purse that day it went missing as I had originally prayed. But looking back I am grateful I didn’t. If I had found my purse the day it was stolen I would have missed the opportunity to pray for 6 months, to write my prayer down, to teach my children to pray with expectancy, to show my husband my faith and what prayer can do and to meet a wonderful women name Wilmarie and share my faith with her. So the question is was the purse worth all those things?

Yes. My purse was worth the stretching of my faith, my family’s faith and the sharing of this story. In James 1:2-4 we are told, “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing (James 1:2-4, NLT).”

So as I close this post to go put another coat of baseball glove oil on my purse I would like to offer up another prayer and ask you all to continue to pray with me. There was one possession in that purse that I desperately wanted back, a small pair of pearl earrings  given to me by my husband. They were missing from the purse as well as a few other items I hoped would be returned. However, I have a strong sense that the pearl earrings will somehow, someway come back to me as well. Those earring will be even more of a miracle than the purse because there is no identification on them to connect them to me. But my God is able to do anything. So as I continue to pray with expectancy look in the future for another story of the missing earrings that found their way back to me.

Dear Heavenly Father,

Thank you for giving me Your unmistakable assurance. Lord I thank You for the purse that will always be a reminder that You hear my voice and also that I hear Yours. I look forward to the day when I can give glory to You once again for returning my earrings to me.

Lord I ask for a special blessing of love for the person who took my purse. I pray that if they have not already had an encounter with You that they have a mighty encounter today. I pray for their salvation and that they seek a relationship with You. God you are available and willing to rescue us all no matter what our past looks like. Lord only You know if the thief read the book of James scripture card that was in my purse when it was stolen because it was not in my purse when it was returned. Lord work in Your mighty way to reveal Yourself to the thief giving them grace and forgiveness. Lord You call us to “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32, ESV).  Lord I forgive them as You forgave me.

I would also like to thank You for the blessing of Wilmarie and her kindness. It was no mistake You chose her to return the bag to me. Lord pour out Your love and blessings on her. I pray this situation has somehow revealed You to her in a deeper way. I pray that she never strays from You and that she is a light to all who come in contact with her.

And lastly Lord I pray that this post encourages others to believe in the power of prayer, of writing their prayers down and to listen for the “voice” of the Holy Spirit. God you are good and can do abundantly more than I can even understand. Thank You for every lesson You teach me and for the way have to do it. Let me always be grateful for Your lessons.

In Jesus name,

Amen!!!

CHALLENGE! 

Write your prayers down in a journal. One of my favorite journals is from

The Daily Grace Company ~ Prayer Journal

  1. This journal is no ordinary journal with lined paper.  The journal is set up to guide you in your prayer. There are five sections to write in: adoration, confession, sanctification, on my heart and verses I am praying. Each journal comes with a free guide called Praying Intentionally.

He left his bible on the dining room table.

Dear Heavenly Father,

Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty! God You are good. Thank You for my grandfather. Thank You for his faith that was lived out loud for his small granddaughter to see. Thank You for my great-grandma Josie who knew You and taught her son about You so that he could pass Your name down. You have blessed my family with Your love. We are blessed that we know You. All I can offer is a humble yet joyful thank You.


He died this morning.

I don’t know if the sun was shining in his room, if it was quiet and dark or if there was another person in there with him but he is gone. No longer will he talk or walk on this earth or share  with me his stories of life on the reservation as a boy.

It’s been years since I have seen my grandfather. After grandma died he moved back to Oklahoma. But the memories of a childhood spent with them living a few miles down the road are strong. I remember the half stick of Juicy Fruit gum that he would give us in church, the Thanksgivings gathered at their home, the worn leather chair he always sat in but what I remember the most is his open bible on the dining room table.

If it is possible for someone to be loud yet quiet at the same time then that was my grandfather. You see my grandpa didn’t beat his grandchildren with a bible, or preach to us on the evils of this world nor did he make comments about not being in church every Sunday that made us feel guilty.

So how can it be that he was loud with his faith without preaching or talking? He simply left his bible on the dining room table. A simple gesture not even meant to be a gesture but to an observant little girl it was a loud gesture.

I remembering seeing his worn bible along with a Moody Bible Institute devotional sitting open on the dinging room table. I remember wondering why it was there on the table open. Was he reading it and forgot to close it and put it away? Why was he reading it? It wasn’t Sunday.  Did one of my younger cousins get it out and open it? I don’t know exactly who told me that my grandparents read their bibles together in the morning at the dining table, although I think it was a conversation with my grandmother that revealed their commitment to the Lord.1916803_356033130304_2487334_n

Growing up I don’t remember seeing my mom or dad’s bibles out unless it was Sunday and certainly not open as of they were intently studying. So I remember being curious when I saw my grandparents’ bibles left open on the table as if they couldn’t bare to close it because what ever was inside was too important to close a cover on. It’s funny the things that will make an impression on little children.

That open bible told me a few things about what a Christian looked like. It told me that a Christian reads their bible and not just in church but every day! It told me that the best time to get to know God through His word was in the early morning hours. The Moody Bible Institute devotional told me that a Christian seriously studies the word of God. The marks in my grandparent’s bibles showed me it was ok to write in your bible and that there must be some pretty important things written to have all that underlining in it.

You see I learned a lot from that open bible on the dining room table. I remember thinking that if my grandma and grandpa were this serious about their relationship with Jesus Christ then it must be important.

So I ask you, what gesture are you doing that is silently teaching someone else?

You are being watched whether you know it or not. It could be your small granddaughter, a sibling, a nosey neighbor, an unbelieving co-worker, an old friend or spouse. We don’t have to live our faith loudly with words, we can live it loudly with actions. I have always heard “actions speak louder than words”. So thank you grandpa for living your faith loudly before me. Thank you for opening your bible and leaving it open. Thank you for obediently following Christ. Thank you for praying with me and for me. Thank you for always picking me up for church even when my call came at the last minute. Thank you for raising my aunts, uncle and mother even though you didn’t have to. Thank you for silently leading me to Christ because the gift of Christ is the best gift anyone could ever give.

In memory of Chet “Chief” Kenner who today is dancing in paradise and happier than we could ever imagine. I’ll be joining you one day and for that I can only offer a humble thank you.

“Tell your children about it in the years to come, and let your children tell their children. Pass the story down from generation to generation” (Joel 1:3, NLT)

Sincerely,

The Little Girl Who Was Watching

 

 

Fighting looks a lot like standing still.

Dear Heavenly Father,

You tell me that I should “Consider it all joy … when I encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of my faith produces endurance. And to let endurance have it’s perfect result…”(James 1:2-4) but it’s the endurance part that gets me or wait is the being joyful part? Lord you know what I need even when I am completely baffled. I will say thank you for my trials, not because I enjoy them or even because I am thankful at the moment but because I know eventually I will be extremely grateful for all of the trouble once it is done. You know that I am learning to trust you each day and through each trial. Thank you for loving me enough to not give up on me. Thank you for knowing that I don’t easily trust and that I am a giant work in progress. Lord bring this blog to someone who needs it, someone who is also fighting, someone who feels ready to give up and let it bless them and bring them closer to you.

Amen.


I let go of His hand.

For the month of May I felt more stressed and disconnected from God than I ever have. Hence no blog post for the whole month of May and for that matter June. I know how it started but I certainly didn’t expect the outcome to be feeling disconnected and distant from God which for me is a very lonely place. Can I just say it feels good just to admit that and write it down!

It started with late night baseball games that turned into tired mornings of sleeping in and not reading. From there it rolled into setting aside my middle & high school FCA/FCS (Fellowship of Christian Athlete & Students) groups after school so I could coach track. And it ended with packing and moving our home of 11 years all in the month of May. Oh and sprinkle on a school trip to Washington D.C. the week before we moved, and that my friend was the perfect recipe for loneliness, disconnect and feeling lost.

I drifted away in pure innocence. It happened so slowly that I didn’t notice until it was too late. The things that got my attention were not bad things. Certainly watching my two young boys play baseball was not an unGodly thing. Nor was coaching track where I encouraged young athletes to see the strength in their bodies. Surely God didn’t bless our buying of property and the sale of our home just to see me refuse to pack up and move did He? And my gift of teaching is always on full display in Washington DC. So how did I drift away?

By mid-May I knew something was off. I wasn’t reaching for my bible or my prayer journal. Although I was still reading a daily study the words weren’t sinking into my soul only to come up later at the perfect time. I was just merely going through the motions. But it wasn’t till school was out for the summer and we had moved into the apartment completely that I had a moment to stop and assess what was happening to me.

I had chased the world and let go of God’s hand the way a child would chase a balloon and let go of their father’s hand. I let the day to day noises of children, family, cell phones and general busyness drown out God’s voice telling me to come, talk and sit with Him awhile so that I may rest in His shade and gather my strength for the moments and days to come. This reminded of a children’s book my Nan would read me as a child called the Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein.giving tree In the book there is a boy and a tree. And the tree loved the boy and gave selflessly to the him only wanting a friendship in return but the boy chased the things of the world to satisfy himself. Each time the boy came back the tree was waiting to give again to the boy, without question or hesitation, hoping in return for a friendship. But the boy forgot where the source of all his gifts came from.

This reminds me of God, who loves me. Each time I let go of His hand to seek the world for what I believe I need He patiently waits for his daughter to grow tired and weary and wander back home to Him. He is always waiting with a warm embrace and a smile that says, “Don’t be afraid. I didn’t leave you, you just wandered away for a moment. I’m glad you heard my voice and turned back to find me.”

You see the things that took up my time were not bad things. My children, my gift of teaching, the building of our home are all tremendous blessings that He gave to me! But I neglected the SOURCE of those blessings. That neglect turned into feeling lost and lonely and for that I am blessed. As a mother I know that there are times when I have to let my children feel pain from their choices. Sometimes failure is the best teacher. God had to let me feel lost, lonely and disconnected for me to realize that it was because I had stopped seeking Him daily. I had stopped taking refuge in His word and drawing strength from our conversations.

So for the month of June I have read, prayed and held on like Jacob waiting to be blessed (Genesis 32:2-32). Blessed with what you might ask? Blessed with peace, blessed with purpose, blessed with a reassurance that I have only ever known by being in fellowship and relationship with Jesus. I have to fight everyday for it and that fighting looks a lot like standing still.

Everyday I fight my flesh and my free will. I fight the things that my flesh wants to do rather than the one to thing my soul screams for which is communion with Jesus. I fight the urge to look on Instagram or Pinterest. I fight the urge to clean, exercise or entertain my children. I fight the urge to do a multitude of things that keep me from standing still and seeking Christ. God doesn’t want my performance nor does He need it. He wants me and you. He wants our undivided attention so that He can equip us to live in the world with all its blessings and curses. He wants us to stand still and let Him do the fighting for us. He wants all our stress, our worries and issues. He actually wants them!

I’ve had to learn my lesson the hard way, and I hate to say this but I know it won’t be the last time I have to learn this lesson. But each time I have to recenter and refocus on where my true joy and peace come from I pray it will get a little easier and my wandering a little less. Just like the boy in the book I pray that I always return to the true source of life.

The last pages in The Giving Tree read like this…

IMG_4907

My Nan (85) passing on The Giving Tree to the fourth generation, Miss. Georgia (5)

“I don’t need very much now,” said the boy. Just a quiet place to sit and rest. I am very tired.”

“Well,” said the tree, straightening herself up as much as she could, “well, an old stump is good for sitting and resting. Come, Boy, sit down. Sit down and rest.”

And the boy did. And the tree was happy” (Shel Silverstein, 1964).

 

God loves us and longs for a relationship with us all. He beckons to us each day in various ways to come and rest in His shade and gather our strength in Him. He sent His own flesh and blood, Jesus, to die so that we might have everlasting life and communion with Him again in the garden.

So my prayer for the last few months has been this,

Dear Lord,

Thank you for never giving up on me even when I walk away from you. Bind my wandering heart to thee. Help me to see and hear you in everything I do and in every person I encounter. Let me be a light for others out there in the darkness chasing their happiness in the world. Let them see Your light in me so that they my seek to find You and hear Your voice in the wilderness. Father even when it is hard, continue to teach and remind me where the source of ALL things flow. If I should wander too far Lord do what You need to do to bring me back into your presence. Lord I also pray this over my children. Let them never wander too far out of Your sight.

Amen.


READ more FOR one OF my FAVORITE tools

One of the tools that I have used over the last year to keep God’s word on my mind are wristbands. Every year during VBS our church takes the children’s scripture handout and folds it up longways to create a paper bracelet ensuring it gets home to parents each night. Last year the Lord gave me a great idea!

I ordered paper admission bracelets from Amazon (click here for the link to the bands) and with a permanent marker wrote either a prayer or a piece of scripture on it that I wanted to remember. I love my cross bracelet and what it symbolizes but lets be honest after awhile it just becomes old hat, a piece of jewelry I always wear and don’t think much about. Even though I wore it (it recently fell off on a long run) everyday I rarely looked at it for remembrance of what God sacrificed for me. That’s where the admission bracelets are different.

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We keep ours on the fridge for easy access!

Here are a few aspects of the admission bracelets that I love…

  • they are water proof
  • they don’t typically come off unless you cut them
  • And the best part is … you can’t wear them forever

The longest I have worn one is a month. But why is that a good thing? Well because then I don’t run the risk of it becoming just another piece of jewelry!

Sometimes I need to meditate over a piece of scriptureIMG_4979 and other times I need to be in continual prayer over something and these bracelets are great for that. I can change them as often as needed. I’ve even worn two at one time, one for prayer and another for scripture.

I ordered purple to remind me that I am part of a royal kingdom because purple symbolizes royalty. I also ordered red to remind me that Jesus sacrificed His life for mine.

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Georgia’s reads, “I am a child of God.”

My children love these bracelets too! During the school year when my son was taking his state math tests I wrote scripture on his to encourage him and remind him that no matter what he belongs to God!

I also shared this idea with my FCS/FCA kids and the ran with it, so to speak, taking whole pages of bracelets and putting them in their bibles for when they needed a new one. I love seeing these bracelets put into action and it has been fun to read what they put on their bracelets.

Try them out for yourself! There are tons of different colors to chose from on Amazon and they usually ship very quickly.

Do you have a tip or trick that helps you to remember scripture or a prayer request? Please share by commenting on this post.

 

“The one constant in life is change.” ~Love, Dad

Dear Heavenly Father,

Thank you in this world of constant change and ever moving parts that you are constant. I will focus on you. I will keep my eyes fixed on you so as not to grow weary or dizzy. Right now Lord I am dizzy from all the moving parts and overwhelmed by the tasks that lie ahead. Thank you, for you are my resting place where I can come and give you all my worries.

Amen.


I want to be strong. But maybe it’s best I’m not because then I have no choice but to rely on Jesus to rescue me. I want to be like my little sister who takes change head on like a warrior goes into battle. It’s as if she is always ready for it and embraces it as if she is welcoming an old friend back into town. We were born into the same family with the same love from two parents and we bare the same battle scares of life from a tragedy that hit when we were too young to understand how our lives would be forever altered.  I can’t say why she heads into change with a charging force and I panic and run as fervently as I can in the opposite direction. Maybe that’s why I love running and she hates it with a deep passion.

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My sister Hannah on the left and I on the right. 414 Lincoln Ave where so many childhood memories still vividly remain. 

Well there you go. The thing that threatens to cut me down at the knees before anything else can, CHANGE. I can only tell you that I have harbored these feelings for as long as I can remember. This must be why I can still hear my father saying, “The one constant thing in life is change.” These words made one of his daughters panic and the other’s heart skip a beat with excitement.

Where one father left off the other carries on. The death of my father changed everything. In the summer of 1996 on a beautiful sunny summer day, a day when we should have been swimming with friends or riding in a car singing with the windows down, we watched my father take his last and final breath this side of heaven. He was young, heck we were all young. But that summer the bottom dropped out of my world. It was life altering in ways I still can’t understand. I was fatherless. An orphan at an age when I needed to branch out but still know I had someone to come back to. There was so much change coming at me that I had no focus point. It was as if I was on a merri-go-round that would not stop spinning.

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My father, Chris, my big brother Jacob and little sister Hannah.

You would think that would cure me right then and there of being afraid of change. And maybe it did some but those old feeling would come back to me when I moved away to pursue my teaching career, before every move and in moments before each of my children were born because I couldn’t stop the change that was about to engulf my life.

OK so problem established, I don’t like change yet I can’t stop it. So then how do I learn to run into change instead of from it? Faith, its the only solution that has ever worked for me. See what my father should have said to me when I was little was, “The one constant thing in life is change AND GOD.” Yes life is constantly changing but in all of that change God and His love for me is, was and always will be constant. He promises me He is the same today, tomorrow and forever (Heb. 13:8, NIV). So where one father left off the other continued. As I began to understand that God’s love for me and His promises would never change, admin all the changes in the world, then I could branch out without fear, knowing that His plans for me are to prosper me and not harm me, to give me hope and a future (Jerm. 29:11).  And those promises are for all His children who love and believe in Him.

So how do I constantly remind myself of God’s grace and love and promises? My weapon of choice is scripture, God’s word to me. My scripture board is one of many favorite ways to keep God’s word fresh and ever present in my mind.

Almost two years ago after watching the movie War Room I put up a cork board in my bathroom so that each day as I readied myself for the day ahead I had God’s word right in front of me to read and remind myself. I tend to spend about an hour each morning in my bathroom doing my hair and putting on make-up before work. So for me my bathroom was a logical choice of where to put my scripture board.

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My scripture board

My board is filled with scripture from current and past bible studies, prayers for salvation of my family, pictures and drawing. Each piece on my board helps me to remember God’s promises for my life and to remember  the places where the horizon looked dark but God bursted through with His redeeming light. We are a forgetful people. We need daily reminders of God’s grace and redemption. God knows this about us and I believe that’s why His word to me this year was REMEMBER.

Each year for the last three years God has given me a word to meditate on throughout the year. This year, 2017, the word is REMEMBER. At first I understood the word to mean that I needed to continue filling my heart and head with His word and His promises. I still believe this is what God intended by the word REMEMBER but as the year has continued I am understanding more why. My family is getting ready to make a change that has been in the works for years. It is a wonderful, exciting change that we have dreamed about and planned for but it is still a little bittersweet. We are on the brink of moving our family out of the only home we have ever known. I remember a people who were given a beautiful promise of hope and beauty but chose to take their eyes of the one who made this dream a reality and as a result they wandered the desert for 40 years.

I want to learn from history, mine and others. I want to move past the crippling feeling of change. Here is a wonderful blessing that truly has God’s hand all over it and if I don’t focus on God speaking to me through scripture then the change will trip me up and hold me down causing me to miss the awesomeness of God. “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ (Matt. 4:4, NIV)”

So I have a choice. One that I have to make multiple times a day. I can chose to keep my eyes on Christ and His promises for my life or I can chose to look back, this looking back didn’t work well for Lot’s wife as she longed for what was instead of God’s saving grace (Gensis 19:26). I don’t aim to repeat Lot’s wife’s or the Israelites history when it comes to moving forward and keeping my focus on God.

In the process of writing this post we have encountered some issues in the process of selling our home. Issues that threatened the sale of our home. Not knowing if our house would sell this time or be put back on the market I began to pack our home in prayer, literally! The only way I knew to fight this time of waiting and wandering was to pray as I packed up our memories and belongings. My weapon of choice is and will continue to be God’s word. With each box I packed I included a piece of scripture written on the top: a promise, a love note from God to me. It’s almost as if each box got detailed directions to where it is going, and I with it. As I began to write these directions on each box I decided to enlist the help of the people God gave me to encourage me. I reached out to my friends and family to give me one piece of scripture for each box. The response was more than I could have hoped for. I enlisted a whole group of people to pray with me and in turn remember where their hope comes from. The idea of course was all God’s doing. God is good! Who needs MapQuest when I have God’s direction!

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So I keep my focus each and everyday on where I am going and I REMEMBER that God has given me carefully detailed directions. I believe it is ok to look back at lessons learned, on priceless memories made in kitchens surrounded by God’s blessings and on where God has delivered us from. I look back to an earthly father who loved a little brown eyed girl and thank God for the blessing of having him. I look back to find direction not to find a hiding place. The only hiding place I need is in the Lord. “You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance (Psalm 32:7, NIV)”.

Challenge: I challenge you the next time your path looks unclear or there is a fork in the road to focus on God’s direction for your life through scripture. Create your own scripture board and put it in a place where you are sure to see it everyday so that you can remember God’s plan and promises for your life. It may be a screensaver on your phone or computer, a scripture board in your bathroom or even a verse written on your mirror in dry erase marker. I don’t care how you do it , just do it! Recenter and refocus on what God offers you not on what this world offers you!

Additional Challenge: Next time you have a friend, co-worker or family member who is struggling with change I challenge you not to say “it will all work” or “it will be ok” because these are empty words to the person you are speaking to. I challenge you to speak life into their struggle with a piece of scripture. Help them to see what is just on the horizon waiting for them in God’s amazing plan. I have a wonderful friend who never hesitates to do this for me when I am troubled or for that matter happy. Thank you Tonya for always speaking life into me and my situations and circumstances. Iron sharpens iron my friend and you sharpen me daily!

The List

Dear Heavenly Father,

Thank you for being all powerful and all knowing. I am glad your ways are higher than my ways. Lord I ask for a blessing over my hands, my heart and my mind as I begin to write this post. Lord I ask that it be your words and not mine. We both know that void of you this is impossible. So Lord I thank you for your wisdom and words that you will pour out of me. Lord let this post touch someone today. Let it bring one of your sons or daughters closer to you.

In Jesus name, Amen.


A list. Simple as that. What could possibly be so special about a list?IMG_1929

A dear friend of mine, we will just call her T so as not to thrust her into stardom, had spoken to me about an author named Ann Voskamp for over a year. She told me about a book called 1,000 Gifts and I am sure there was more to the conversations each time she brought it up but I honestly can’t remember more than that. I can see now that God was putting this author’s name and title of her book on my mental bookshelf to read later.

Later came in January. The weekend before I started reading the book a beautiful blonde haired, spirited girl in my 5th period class suddenly passed away. The week after it happened was extremely difficult for the district and even more so for the students who walked the halls with her everyday since kindergarten. Starring at their bewildered faces in the days that followed was excruciating. I had no answer for their questions of why.

On my drive to work that Tuesday, as I was praying, God put an exercise of thanksgiving on my heart. I went to school that day and explained to my students that for the rest of the school year we were going to focus on joy, gratitude and happiness. That day and each day since the students write down one thing that brings them joy. The darkness of loss can swallow even the happiest of people if allowed and I knew my kids needed to focus on the light rather than the darkness.

That same week for whatever reason I started reading Ann Voskamp’s 1,000 Gifts. Maybe it was to escape a little from the grief that threatened to swallowed us all. Within the first two chapters I was quickly thrust back into reality with the retelling of Voskamp’s personal tragedy. The heartache I felt as I read threatened to stop me from finishing the book. I still can’t really say why I kept reading but I believe it was hope. I held out hope for Voskamp that somehow she managed to make it through that tunnel of grief and that she was telling her story from the other side. You see I’ve been through that tunnel before and it is one of scariest places I’ve ever been. I know what it takes to get to the other side and it is not easily done.  It is dark and it threatens to close in around you making you feel at times like you can’t breath. It’s also one of the loneliest places I’ve ever been. You can not travel through the tunnel with anyone else, no one can that’s just how it works. You must travel alone and that for me was the worst part of it all. So I continued to read because I was curious and hopeful that Voskamp had made it.

My curiosity of how Ann Voskamp would make it through the tunnel quickly turned into intrigue as I learned about the list. Somewhere along Voskamp’s journey she was challenged to write a list. A list of 1,000 gifts from God. As I read I thought about what gifts from God look like and how we tend to focus on God’s gifts as situations, circumstances and people that make our lives easy and enjoyable. But anyone reading this knows that as we love when life is easy and simple it is also not the reality of life. Life is messy, sad at times, scary in the dark places and exhausting. So how do we express gratefulness to God in those times when we don’t have the answers of “why”?

As the chapters unfolded she shared her list with her readers. The list was interesting to me. Simple things were on it, nothing fancy to the average person. It seemed as though she was a making simple observations of her surroundings and writing them down. And then came the part where I wanted to take the challenge. She said the list made her happy, it brought her joy. Now I was curious if the list would make me feel the same. So I began

  1. Books on audio
  2. warm socks
  3. God’s word
  4. the sound of children in my house
  5. my name sake
  6. That my mom prayed for my name & God answered

The list I learned was the practice of eucaristeo. Eucaristeo is a greek word which is defined as “to be grateful, feel thankful, give thanks”.  But what I love about this word more than anything is that it is a verb, meaning something you do. Meaning that I don’t just feel grateful or thankful but I AM thankful by giving thanks. Eucaristeo is active, it is a posture to hold not merely a feeling. Sometimes this translates to giving thanks for things I do not understand through gritted teeth.

As I continued my list I began to feel joy in looking for more things to add to my list daily. I remember sitting at a stop light on a gray, cloudy day looking up at an old church standing boldly on the corner and thanking God for the old wood doors that have welcomed so many searching and broken people throughout the years. Prior to listing God’s gifts I am not sure I would have even noticed the doors of that old church.  Well I might have because I have a thing for doors of any shape or size but I’m not sure I would have thanked God for what those doors represented: a welcome, a come on in and be one of us, a we are all broken and messy and doing this together, a you are wanted here. I was becoming intentional about giving thanks in all things.

We all give thanks from time to time but to give thanks continually and consistently was now my focus through this list. So how do we give thanks continually when we are wading through grief and loss. I don’t claim to have the answers for that but I do know that as we continue to move on we continue to give thanks to God even through broken hearts and tears. There was a time when I had to focus on the 16 years I enjoyed my father’s laughter and conversations instead of being consumed with the pain that he’d never watch me walk across the stage for graduation or hold one of his grandchildren. So I gave thanks for what I knew was a blessing. I gave thanks for a life lived. I gave thanks for a girl who made so many others laugh and smile. I gave thanks for the reminder that life is precious and delicate and should be cherished. These are the ways in which I actively give thanks.

No one, not Ann Voskamp, a grieving family or myself, like pain, suffering or loss. But in that pain and loss we have a choice, look for the light in the darkness or let the darkness swallow us up. So I chose light. I chose to actively thank God for all the ways in which He chooses to remind me that He loves me, that He is here even in the pain and suffering and that in His omnipotence He has a plan for my life even when that life is messy, scary and sad. As I write this I am reminded of what Jeremiah the prophet was told to say to God’s people,  “This is what the Lord says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”(Jeremiah 29:10-11, NIV). The plan for God’s people was not without turmoil, long suffering, death or hardship but through all that God was saying that inspite of what they saw or felt that He had a plan and that they must remain faithful. Faith in God has to be more that what we feel or see. We are reminded by Paul the Apostle to “rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, NIV).

IMG_1923Eucharisteo Copper Cuff – Etsy

So I continue the practice of thanksgiving, of eucharisteo. I fix my eyes upon my Savior and all that He did on the cross.

 

I thank Him for the happiness of marriage, children, and family. I thank Him for the little blessings no matter how small or insignificant they may seem to the world. I also thank Him for the pain when it is hard to say thank you. I thank Him as he refines me with affliction. I thank Him when I have to learn my lessons the hard way. Why? Because He loves me enough to teach me. He has not given up on me or my constant sin and forgetfulness of His blessings. And it all comes down to faith. Do I believe He is who He says He is? Do I believe His promise that He will never leave me or forsake me? Do I believe that the good works He started in me He will finish? Do I believe that He loved me enough to send His only son to die for me, not the Mother Teresa’s of the world but me!? And if I do then His grace is enough; It is sufficient. It is sufficient in want or in plenty.

So my list continues.

Challenge: Start a list! I challenge you to write a list of 1,000 gifts from God. Start today! Grab a notebook and begin. I also challenge you to pick up Ann Voskamp’s 1,000 Gifts and read it for yourself!

Tip: I use a small notebook that I can keep in my purse so that when I feel the need to write   my notebook is right there with me. I bought mine at Hallmark.