Today is Monday...new Blog post day. Instead of me sharing how I am doing, I would like to hear from you. What are your struggles and how can I encourage you this week? Feel free to leave a reply here, or you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
I will address each reply and post. May God's blessings pour abundantly upon you and your family this week.
Tuesday, February 25, 2014
We all know at least one person of Faith, who seems so capable and strong. You might be tempted to label them as a “Super-Faither” (not a real term, by the way, ) and when you need prayer they quite possibly are the ones you call first because somehow you believe that God must hear their prayers over your own. (yet another false-hood)
These people have proven to you that they can be counted on when life breaks your heart. They sit with you when a loved one dies. They walk with you as you navigate a painful divorce. They cry with you for hours as your child lay sick. They clean your home and help your family when you are down and can’t do it yourself. They physically and spiritually step in and help when your are in despair; pouring out the love and compassion of Jesus with each hug, prayer, meal, phone call, and act of support. They have let you know that you are not alone and that God has not abandoned you.
It is very easy to assume that this very strong and giving person never needs the same types of support. They appear so strong in faith and ability; you might be tempted to think “What would I have to offer them?” You may perceive that their relationship with God is strong enough that they wouldn’t need anything from other people. This is a complete lie of them enemy. Strong people (even strong “Faithers”) NEED people too.
I am one of the strong people I speak about in the opening of this passage. I have earthquakes and heart breaks. Every person who is in ministry and leadership does. Yes, we do have our faith, and we do have God, but there are times we simply need others to sit with us. We experience the death of loved ones and miss them just as much as anyone else. Come sit with us when that happens…be there.
We have difficult times in relationships and life get turned upside down…come walk our path with us.
We have children that get sick and our hearts break for them, and we plead with God for His healing and restoration…come pray and cry with us.
We get overwhelmed with life sometimes and need help with the children, our laundry, a meal…come be the hands and feet of Jesus with us.
We are not islands of our own making. We become isolated because others see us reach out and serve, but don’t pause to think that we might need a hug and prayers of encouragement too. We might need a meal during difficult times. We might need a card just letting us know that someone cares. Our hearts break too, and knowing that someone cares and are willing to be there to support us during those times helps us know that we are loved by the very people we love on.
Our heartbreaks are no less painful than yours. Our disappointments are no less disappointing than yours. Our loneliness is no less lonely. Our losses are no less devastating. With this said…, please feel free to love on us accordingly. I speak for strong, faith-filled servants in your life when I say "We need you as much as you need us!"
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1 Peter 4:8-10 Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace:
Galatians 6:2 Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
Hebrews 10:24-25 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.
Proverbs 27:17 As iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another
Colossians 2:2 That their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God's mystery, which is Christ,
Monday, February 17, 2014
It seems that we make a million decisions a day. Some are small and seem to have little consequence in our lives, like “Do I want to wear flats or heels today?” Sure, we may regret the heels, but as far as its affecting the outcome of the rest of our life, it really doesn’t matter much.
Other decisions, though, can change the entire course of our lives. “Do I want to marry this man?” “Do I want to stay married to this man who has been unfaithful?” “Am I ready to be a parent…even though I am single?” “Should I take this job?” “Should I go to college?”
These decisions we ponder and consider them with great attention. We weigh the pros and cons. We place them on the balance scale of our life to make as complete and informed of a decision as possible. Then we make a decision and move forward on the path we have chosen.
What happens though if God’s plans are different from ours? Do we consider things long enough to allow His input into our decision making?
In the earthly realm, God’s plan may not balance out quite as well as ours might. Let’s look at Joseph. He had a difficult decision to make when he found out that his betrothed, Mary, was with child…and it wasn’t his child she was carrying. This circumstance just doesn’t balance well at all!
Matthew 1:19-20, 24
Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit…. When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife.
Joseph weighed things out and even made an honorable decision. He was going to divorce Mary quietly instead of persecuting her and having her punished. He was making a Godly decision…but it wasn’t God’s plan. God had a perfect plan for him in this circumstance. It wasn’t the easy plan, or the logical plan…but it was the perfect plan.
Joseph was open to an alternate plan that God had for his life. It didn’t balance well, and it definitely was not comfortable…but he was a man who listened to God and chose God’s perfect plan over his own good plan.
I want to encourage you today to pause. Allow God to speak to you in your circumstances today. Even though your plan may be a GOOD plan, doesn’t mean it’s God’s PERFECT plan. He may be arranging things to change the world through your unbalanced circumstances.
Monday, February 10, 2014
It’s that time of year again. I can already feel the hot sting of disappointment that plagues me in an attempt to make me feel unloved, unworthy, and rejected. It started in the 6th grade as I sat in Homeroom. I watched as the Student Counsel passed out carnations. I silently prayed that someone…anyone…would think I was special enough to ask me to be their Valentine. As the stack of carnations dwindled, the disappointment grew. “Please, please, please call my name! I just want a stupid flower!” My heart sunk as the last flower was handed out, and none of them were for me. It was my first time to experience the rejection that said “You aren’t special to anyone in the whole school.”
I re-lived that experience all the way through Jr. High and High School. Each year it was the same thing. Each year I experienced the same rejection. Each year my heart took a beating. I tried with all my might to pretend that it didn’t matter, but in all honesty it mattered a great deal.You’d think that as I grew up, Valentine's Day would get better. No such luck. I NEVER had a date for Valentines. I didn’t get flowers or chocolates. I spent each year alone, lonely, and feeling once again…rejected. At least as an adult now I could lock myself in my apartment and avoid the day altogether…unless I had to work. Then it was like 6th grade all over again. I’d watch with hope that quickly turned to dread each time the delivery trucks arrived with flowers, balloons, and candy. My name was never on the card. I never had a Valentine.
Once I got married, I thought this pattern would change. The husband is obligated to buy his wife flowers and chocolates…right? Well, my sweet hubby has tons of amazing qualities, and I love him very much. He loves me too, but he has one flaw that is magnified each year on Valentines. My husband is “Romantically Challenged.” While he gets straight A’s in many aspects of our marriage, he simply isn’t any good at the “make me swoon” stuff that Valentine’s Day seems to call for.
As the February 14th holiday approaches, I am pondering the lifetime of disappointment inflicted upon me by Valentine’s Day. I pause and wonder what can I do to avoid feeling rejected, unloved, and disappointed. What is the cure for my recurring case of Valentine-itis?
It makes sense that the cure would be in the heart of the holiday...love. So I must start with love. What is it and where does it come from?
1 John 4:8 says “God is love.”
He doesn’t just love, but He IS love! That to me is a good start to my cure. I need to connect with the love that is God, not the commercially branded love that leaves me disappointed and feeling rejected or unloved. This means love isn't a limp carnation...I must desire Him over the elusive flowers.
Just knowing what love is isn’t enough though…We desire love that lasts and will not reject us.
Deuteronomy 7:9 tells us to “Know, therefore, that the LORD your God is God, the faithful God, who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments…”.
God will not turn His back on me because His love is steadfast… not wavering or changing. That’s a love that you can count on beyond one day of the year. Its more reliable than that box of chocolates that does turn on you as it grabs ahold of your thighs and doesn't want to let go.
Perhaps this quote by Rick Warren sums it up pretty good. “God is love. He didn’t need us. But he wanted us. And that is the most amazing thing.”
Deep down, it was never about the flowers or the chocolate. It was always about wanting to be wanted, and God wants me! He wants you too!
Saturday, February 1, 2014
Tired Parents (+) Teenagers = Civil War
Mom and Dad of a teenager, I know you are tired. Your heart begs for a reprieve from the onslaught of rolling eyes, caustic tones, and raging hormones that have overtaken your once sweet, loving, and adoring child.
Your household has shifted from a tranquil place that you knew how to control and navigate, to a civil war zone led by a teen rebel that pushes every boundary you spent years establishing. The daily battle has you ready to wave the white flag of surrender hoping for a measure of peace.
My sweet, tired friend…this is HUGE lie from the enemy himself.
The Politics of a Family
Your family began as a Dictatorship the moment your sweet baby (now a teen rebel) was conceived. You had complete decision making authority and over time became quite successful and even comfortable in your role as Dictator. That Dictatorship was necessary for a season so your child could have an example of what a safe and secure life should look like.
As they got older, your household should have transitioned to a Democracy. In this Democracy, your child should have begun to have a say in things and learn to trust his/her self in the process. You as the parent kept the rights to veto and override anything that didn’t line up with your family’s core values and beliefs, but you also showed your child levels of respect in the things you allowed them input over. During this time, they will have made some poor choices and as a parent you should have allowed them to experience the results of some of those decisions with love and guidance. The trick during this time was to be sure you didn’t crush them as a domineering Dictator or protect them from consequences completely as a Monarch might do.
As they enter teen hood, a Civil War erupts in your nice Democracy as they begin trying to figure out how to manage their own space and territory. As parents, we know they are not ready…as teens they believe they are. In this season, they push every boundary trying to gain more independence and control moving away from blindly accepting things they have accepted before.
I know this is very difficult (we are living this ourselves) but it is part of the process. Our goal as parents is ultimately to allow our children to establish their own “Nation” and have the skills and tools to run it with wisdom. How do they develop those tools? The tool kit is built during the Dictatorship, Democracy, and Civil War stages they experience in your home as they grow up. If you as parent surrender too quickly, you run the risk of your child setting up their own country, but not being able to manage it. They may forever be the country that needs a bail out because you gave up too soon—because you were too tired to keep parenting—-and we both know you don’t want that.
Here is a prayer and scriptures that may help you during this season to help you stay on course and not throw in the white flag of surrender.
Dear Lord, Your word says that there is a season for everything. I find myself in a season of battle with my teenager, and I am tired. I choose to wait on you so you can renew my strength. As my strength is renewed in this season, I gain courage to stand strong and continue in this race of parenting that you have called me to run. Help me run this race to win it so that I may obtain the prize. So as I continue day by day Lord, help me not grow weary in doing the good things required of me as a parent and help me trust that when the time is ripe I will see my child standing strong in their faith and full of wisdom and confidence not only in their own abilities to manage their lives but also in You.
Ecclesiastes 3:1 There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens…
Isaiah 40:31 They that wait upon the Lord share renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.
1 Corinthians 9:24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it.
2 Timothy 4:7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
Galatians 6:9 Let us know become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
Proverbs 22:6 Train a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.
Thursday, September 26, 2013
My heart sank. I was sick to my stomach immediately and my body temperature seemed to swing from burning to ice cold and back to burning with each heartbeat. I had lost something that I couldn’t imagine living the rest of my life without. In no way would this feeling of panic, fear, loss, and personal disappointment ever be far from my thoughts. I had lost my wedding ring, and therefore lost a part of myself as well.
I couldn’t just sit back and accept that my ring was gone though. I told my husband and children and they immediately joined in on the “Great Ring Hunt of 2013”. My mind was in continual turmoil. It raced day and night trying to think of new places to look. My heart was broken and I cried myself to sleep. I enlisted friends to pray and assist in searching too.
I was crushed and devastated. Sure, I had a jewelry box full of other rings…but they weren’t THIS ring. THIS ring held my heart and had been part of me for over sixteen years. It represented a love and a commitment that was truly a part of who I was, not just an item I owned.
I prayed continually for God to supernaturally reveal to me the location of my ring, but for days I searched and was sick with fear that my ring was in fact gone forever. I cried almost continually, and could think of little else than the missing ring. My actions were consumed by the search, my thoughts were overwhelmed by it, and my words could only utter my concerns and my loss.
Finally, after a week of absolute torture, I brushed back the curtain in my bedroom. There, on the window sill was my treasured wedding ring. I had spent the last week trying to “continue with life” and knowing I would forever keep an eye out for my missing ring…until the day I found it. The moment of recovery that I had hoped and prayed for had arrived!
I was so incredibly relieved that I called my husband and all of my friends. We all breathed a communal sigh of relieve and celebrated together that my treasure had been located safely and was back where it was supposed to be. My friends and family were overjoyed for me, and I finally had peace in my heart and could stop feeling sick and consumed. We truly celebrated and rejoiced together.
Shortly after recovering my ring, I came across a scripture that I had read many times. I thought I understood it completely, but looking at it through the lenses of my recent loss I could see the deeper value and meaning.
Luke 15:8-10 “Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Doesn’t she light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’ In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
I had just been the woman doing everything she could to find something of value that was missing. I had recent insight on the deep sense of loss, the angst of a lengthy search, and the beautiful celebration of recovery.
In this Scripture, we are the missing treasure. God is the woman who we belong to as believers. Just as I spent all of my energies seeking my ring, and the lady in scripture spent hers looking for the coin, God's heart is anxious for our return to Him. When we do return to Him, He celebrates in Heaven as does the angels. You are of that much value to God's heart! You are His treasure that He will continue seeking and searching to recover.
Even though we believe, there are times that we get caught up in things that aren’t of Him and we become “lost” to our own devices. God will continue to shed light into our dark places so that the way back to Him is revealed and available to us. It is up to us to repent and turn back to Him and the place He has designed us to be. When we do this…Angels rejoice at our repentance and there is a celebration in Heaven because we have returned to our rightful place with our Father.
Be encouraged today that He is still with you. You are still of great value to Him, and He earnestly wants you back even more than I wanted my wedding ring back! Please allow God to shine His light into the dark places of your life and allow Him to guide to back into the safety of His care!
You are God's great treasure!
Thursday, August 1, 2013
THE ME INSIDE OF ME- has pink hair. She throws caution to the wind and fully embraces the experiences of life as they come without filtering them through a lens of what terrible and painful thing will this elicit. She is not concerned with how the world will view her or if she will be accepted.
THE ME INSIDE OF ME- enjoys every minute with her children and gets down on the floor, rolls around and is silly. She isn’t consumed with dishes and laundry and all the things that still need to be done to keep life moving forward.
THE ME INSIDE OF ME- passionately embraces her husband and melts into the fullness of what the husband/wife relationship is designed to be. She isn’t guarded or wounded from things of the past.
THE ME INSIDE OF ME- boldly builds relationships and friendships not being concerned about rejection or disappointment.
This is the me…inside of me.
The me I am trying to let out.
Maybe it’s the me God created me to be.
I hope one day…to be THE ME INSIDE OF ME!