Friday, November 30, 2012

Like a Shepherd

Yesterday, I shared a portion of Luke 2 with you, and God took me back to that reading this morning. In case you missec it, here it is:

"In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register. So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them. And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told. On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise the child, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he was conceived." (Luke 2:1-21 NIV)

As I reflected on this passage, I found myself drawn to the shepherds. The shepherd's job was a hard and lonely one that often required them to spend much time out with the sheep in the midst of the elements. Their job was to guard, protect and care for the sheep that were entrusted to their care- even if it came at great cost.

In the midst of the fields, on a quiet night, they awed when the night sky- normally filled with stars- filled, instead, with the glory of heaven announcing the birth of a king, their king. They, were the first eyes to see majesty wrapped in newborn soft skin and to know that the Savior had come!

God interrupted His faithful children in an ordinary night, and gave them an incredible gift- Jesus. They were just hard working, normal men who are very much like you and me. This revelation shows that this King wasn't just for nobles, but a King for all- for you, for me. God met them in the fields around a small town named Bethlehem, and they were forever changed. They left giving praise and glory to the Father because when you have a meeting with God, and you catch a glimpse of His Glory, your lips can't help but praise Him!

Friend, He has done the same for me. He met me in the fields of my sin and showed me His incredible glory in the form of His precious, babe son. With the shadow of a cross across His brow, the babe grew into the Savior of my world. How can I not praise my King?

My friend, we are like the shepherds living a life out in the "spiritual elements" of this world. Sometimes we feel lonely as we fight the tide of the enemy swirling at our feet. Friend, remember when God met you in your field of sin and let Him give you a new praise song to sing! He is our Savior wrapped in newborn flesh scarred by the nails of our redemption and how can we not praise Him?

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Our Christmas Gift

Yesterday, a friend posted this video on Facebook and while I saw it last year, it still blessed me and tears trickled down my cheeks.  I watched it over and over and each time the tears came.  As I reflected on it and why it was so emotional for me, I realized that the singers taking part in this presentation are doing what each of us are called to do.  We, as his followers, are called to share Christ with our world- to point out in the midst of the craziness of life that seems to flow without any acknowledgement of the Savior, that He is real!  He is alive!  He was the babe born in the most humble of circumstances to suffer on the cross for the sins of all or the sins of one.... me, you, each of us. 

We are to be ever so purposeful in sharing with the world that the real reason we celebrate Christmas and give gifts is because our greatest gift ever was given to us at Christmas... a babe wrapped in swaddling cloths laying in a manger who had come to save a world.  The life picture portrayed in this video reflects people- just like you and me- ever so humbly and respectfully sharing their faith, hope and future through songs.  The world, caught up in the rush of Christmas shopping and worldly needs, stopped in awe and worshipped the Savior.  THAT is what we are to do.... sing the song of our heart's testimony through the life we live, the words we speak, and the way we love. 

"And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told. " (Luke 2:8-20 NIV)

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

My Savior Lives!

This morning, I listened to this praise song and was so encouraged. My friends, we- the redeemed in Christ- serve a living King!  Our God does not sit on a shelf and collect the dust of prayers that it could not answer... Our God lives!  He has always been and will always be. Our prayers are heard by our King and He acts in our best interest to love and protect His children. He was our Savior on the cross, but He is our Savior each day that we cry out to Him. Only a living Savior could be all that we need for all time. Never forget that our Savior is alive!!!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

What Do I Need?

This weekend, after the turkey was eaten and dressing was put away, our family began to focus on the next upcoming holiday- Christmas! We love Christmas in our house... the music, the tree and decorations, the gifts under the tree, and all the joy and laughter that fills the empty spaces of our home and hearts.

As the preparations began, I was asked to give Christmas hints to others for our family. I felt such a deep inner conviction- what do I really need? In light of recognizing all that God has blessed us with as a family- especially as there are families around the world in desperate situations- what could I truly need? I have more clothes than most, our bills are paid, the pantry holds plenty of food, and our home is packed full of things that need dusting and cleaning.

Truth is I received all that I ever really needed as an eight year old child, when I accepted the salvation from my sin that God offered through Christ. That relationship has carried, sustained, provided, and blessed me through and despite countless trials by the evil one. God has never failed to deliver me.

"And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. To our God and Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen." (Philippians 4:19, 20 NIV)

He has been ever faithful... Perhaps, what I truly need is to share our blessings with those in real need- I think that is the gift God wants me to seek this Christmas season... The joy in blessing others in His name; or in the least, the full recognition of all that He has done for me and for our family. God, please help us not to clamor for more of the temporary, but thirst so deeply for the eternal... Grow that need within, Father, the need of You.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thankful for the Little Things

Yesterday, in the midst of packing, cleaning, and loading the truck for the journey to celebrate all that we are thankful for with those who we are blessed to call family... God stopped me in my tracks. I was in such a rush, and realized that my boys would probably need a snack for the drive... What to bring? Did I have anything that would be an appropriate road snack? Oh, and I needed to check Kendall's bag for clothes, wipes, diapers and such- what? I sandwich baggie of snack mix that Kendall's class at church had made. I stopped... Paused... And I felt such a prick of thankfulness flood my soul.

How many times does my God, my Savior, provide for needs I have in my world before I even recognized the need? Countless times. Our God loves us that much to step in with every need we may have whether it is great or small. Think of all the times God provided for the Israelites whether it was freedom from Egypt or the daily provision of manna for them to eat while in the desert wandering for 40 years. God takes care of His children- always.

My friend, a few years ago I was in need of some jeans because I had lost weight. However, we really didn't have the money to go purchase new clothes at that time. Feeling almost silly, I prayed about the need, and trusted that somehow God would provide. The next day, we were visiting family and my sister in law said, "I have some jeans that I wondered if you might want- There are 4 or 5 pairs." God provides. When Reagan was laid off from his job, we saw God provide continually. One night, I told Reagan that we had enough money to cover our vehicle and house payment or all the other bills. We were not sure what to do so we prayed. The next day, God provided our house payment and car payment as Reagan received a call that someone had left a donation for our family at the church.

The list goes on and on... Whether it is enough workers on a Sunday that several had to back out or a small check arrives that covers a need that popped up, God is ever faithful. Today, I am so reminded, blessed, and encouraged by seeing Him in all the little blessings that occur so often. It is His way of assuring us that He is with us- always mindful of us, our needs, and ever capable of meeting the needs we face.

He loves that much.... How can I help but praise Him?!?!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

I am Here

In the past few days, I have hugged and cried with several dear loved ones over major needs and battles they are facing. More than that I haves pleaded my heart to the Father on their behalf. Broken, desperate cries for the ones hurting in my world - wishing that I could somehow easy the load they are carrying.

God is teaching me that unity in Christ reflects a heart so connected with fellow believers that the burden of their heart becomes yours. It is your prayers entangled in theirs. It is your hands physically helping in countless different ways.... Preparing a meal, wiping the tears, writing the check, rocking a baby, cleaning a house, and the list could go on.... It is more than saying, "I will pray for you." It is joining them down that long journey and saying, "I am here."

Friends, I am here.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Caleb's Award

If you read one of my prior posts, Moments of Celebrating, you know about the karate tournament we attended recently. Reagan took Caleb out last night and gave him his award.....

To Dance

Last night, Reagan took Caleb for some one on one man time. The younger boys and I stayed home to just relax and they were watching a new movie on television about a princess.

At one point, Kendall came to me and asked me a question. I could not understand him at first, but I finally realized that he was asking me if I was a princess! I chuckled, but he took my hand and asked me to dance. We danced and danced around the living room and my heart felt such strong brimming emotions.... These moments leave us so fast as parents. Moments that we are their everything- their hero, their star, their princess.

I danced till he was ready to stop. This morning, while praying, God reminded me that my job, as a mother, is to train and prepare them for their bride (aka princess). I may hold their heart for a time, but God has another lady in mind to capture it for a lifetime. I cried. In a mix of sweet and hard emotions, I prayed for that special lady for each of my boys- Godly ladies that will love only the Father more. My hope is that their marriages will be blessed by a deep, strong commitment to each other through the Father. I also prayed that God would help me to let go and give them to their brides in joy and peace.

Parenting ... It is such a dance of emotions. I will dance with each of them as long as they are willing, knowing that the memories will forever dance in my heart.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Moments of Celebrating

This weekend was the final karate tournament for Christian Soldiers Karate that Reagan, Caleb, and Carson have been active in for several years. It was an awesome day with many highlights for our family.

First, my awesome husband earned a first place in his division for self defense. Wow! He did so well, and it really blesses me to know that my husband can defend us if a need arose. He also received a third place finish in sparring. That is one of the most exciting and brutal aspects of the competition.

Another highlight of the day was watching Carson compete. He had only one event this time, and it was in the largest event and division. This happened at the tournament prior when he had incredibly high scores, but competing against people who are two belts advanced than you is hard. This weekend, he did awesome- better than I have ever witnessed from him. He earned a third place!!! I was so proud of him as won it against more advanced belts and older kids.

Both Reagan and Caleb were in the running for the top karate athletes for 2012-which is huge considering the number of students in Christian Soldiers. As it turned out, they were not in the top three to get an award, but I was still so proud of their efforts.

My proudest moment, however, had nothing to do with trophies or titles. It was the moment when Caleb, our oldest son, realized that he would be leaving without a trophy this time- I don't think that had happened before for him. In that moment, he handled it so well- with such maturity and grace- that my heart almost burst. Was he disappointed? Sure, but his response was more mature than some adults, and that is of more importance and value than the karate skills he displayed. His character earned a trophy if his efforts fell short. Reagan had already planned a special evening with Caleb this week. On that evening, he plans to present Caleb with a trophy- one that Reagan earned at the tournament- because of his championship character.

Parenting is hard. There are moments when all you can do is plead for wisdom and grace from the Father. There are also moments, when you get a glimpse of the character of God. Those are the moments worth celebrating.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Stealing Moments

On rare occasions, I have the opportunity to do something with just one of my boys. Reagan and I are trying to be more intentional about getting that precious, one on one time with each son.

Last night, I took Kendall to the grocery store while the older boys went to karate with Dad. I know the grocery store isn't that grand, but it wasn't about where we went, it was about who I was with. I loved it. We talked, laughed, and just savored the uninterrupted moments together.

God wants that with me. He just wants time with me alone to just savor. I don't have to be at the church- I can capture His attention anywhere, anytime. Honestly, He longs for me to take the time to join Him in my day.

I have come to love and long for the first of the morning moments we share together- my Lord and I. I had never, however, really pondered what joy and delight it brings Him. What parent doesn't love the moments that their child comes to just be with them? Throughout the day I can steal small snippets of time with Him when I sing a praise song to Him while cleaning the kitchen or when we thank Him for the food He provides each meal. Moments, when I quickly cry out a prayer for a need brought to my attention or when I jump for joy in seeing a prayer answered by His perfect plan. Those, too, are moments I spend with my Father.

He wants time with you. He loves you. It brings Him great joy to just be a part of who you are today, tomorrow, and everyday.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Glorious Day

This morning, I so desperately needed to steal fleeting moments in my room to just be still and praise my Savior. There are days when my soul just needs more- more of Him in the beautiful silence of His love pouring into me love, joy, and thanksgiving. Sweet, unashamed tears flowed as I praised, pondered and relished His love for me. One song in particular touched my heart and thanksgiving to my Savior bubbled forth.

"Living He loved me. Dying He saved me. Buried He carried my sin far away. Rising He justified freely forever and one day He's coming- oh glorious day! Oh glorious day!" Casting Crowns, "Glorious Day"

My friend that act alone is reason to praise Him all my days. He took my sin- the shame of my days- and cast them into the sea of forgetfulness. I am redeemed. I am a child of the King! I have a new home waiting for me and my soul longs, with great anticipation, seeing my Savior face to face.

He, loving me so, has given me so much more than I deserve. He has blessed me with a wonderful family, husband, sons, church home, friends, and home in which to build memories. How could I not praise Him? I am so thankful for the grace of God that has given me so much more than I could ever deserve or imagine. This grace- conceived in a garden and completed on a cross- is the purpose and legacy of my being.

"Believe even when you do not feel. Know even when you do not see. 
He gave the life of His son to demonstrate His love.  Believe!"
Beth Moore, "Praying God's Word Day by Day"

Monday, November 12, 2012

Clean Filters

I have said this before, but I have a love hate relationship with cleaning. I love having a clean house, but it seems like a never ending process when we homeschool and are here all day. Last week, I was cleaning the house for a gathering we were having in our home and the vacuum just didn't seem to be working correctly.

I just bought this vacuum a few months ago, and it is my first bag less one to own. I had been faithful about dumping the container that held the dirt and debris, but it finally hit me that I had never cleaned the filter. Once I emptied it and washed the filter, I was amazed at the difference in the machine. It functioned and did it's job so well! It just needed a clean filter!

While I vacuumed, I thought about my own life. It seems that my conscious is the filter to my heart, mind, and soul. When I knowingly sin or disobey the Father, my filter begins to clog with guilt and fear. As a result, I am unable to do what I am called to do as effectively - just like my vacuum. Once I repent, confess and make changes in my life; the filter is clean and I am able to better fulfill God's purpose and plan for my life.

Read the following from King David after he had struggled with an illicit relationship with Bathsheba that ultimately led to murder. That is the thing with sin- it can start so small, but when your filter gets clogged, you will do things that will baffle you later.

"Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. Then I will teach transgressors your ways, so that sinners will turn back to you. Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God, you who are God my Savior, and my tongue will sing of your righteousness. Open my lips, Lord, and my mouth will declare your praise. You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise." (Psalm 51:10-17 NIV)

David could not fulfill the purpose God had for him because he was so entrenched in all the lies, sin and attempts to hide his actions. Only with repentance and restoration was he able to return to God's plan for his life.

My friend, does your filter need a cleaning? All God wants is a broken and contrite heart that he can restore to the purpose He designed.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Ice on a Sandwich?

I often awake to calls and pleas for breakfast from our youngest son, Kendall. That boy often wakes with one thing on his mind... Food. This morning started very much the same, but he wanted a breakfast sandwich. By the time I had gotten to the kitchen he already had the ham and cheese out and was trying to figure out how to get the eggs off the top shelf. That independent boy!

I prepared his breakfast and placed it it before him. I also warned him that it was hot. As I started back to the kitchen, Kendall asked for me to put an ice cube on his sandwich to cool it. You are probably thinking... What??? When I prepare oatmeal for him, I will often add an ice cube to it and stir it to cool the oatmeal down. Then, I can spoon out the remaining cube when the oatmeal is just right. I realized that Kendall thought if it would work with oatmeal, it might just work for his sandwich.

I chuckled in my heart as I explained that the ice would only work for oatmeal. Then, it hit me- how many times do I apply a solution to a problem that just doesn't work. Typically, this is when I have tried in my own efforts to "fix" a situation without seeking the will of my Father. The results, too often, were as messy as an ice cube on a sandwich.

Why do I try to figure out and handle things on my own? I have the source of all wisdom, all knowledge, all power, and all love waiting for me to just ask Him... Yet, I jump out on my own. I think of Sarai who tried to provide an heir for her aging husband through her maidservant. It did not turn out well. Rebekah tried to make sure that the best son received all the blessings and a war between brothers erupted. Her beloved son had to flee to another nation for safety. Israel, God's chosen people, have often tried to resolve issues without seeking the Father and the results were never good- remember the golden calf?

I think King David's charge to his son, Solomon is very wise...

“So now, with God as our witness, and in the sight of all Israel—the LORD’s assembly—I give you this charge. Be careful to obey all the commands of the LORD your God, so that you may continue to possess this good land and leave it to your children as a permanent inheritance.
“And Solomon, my son, learn to know the God of your ancestors intimately. Worship and serve him with your whole heart and a willing mind. For the LORD sees every heart and knows every plan and thought. If you seek him, you will find him. But if you forsake him, he will reject you forever. So take this seriously. The LORD has chosen you to build a Temple as his sanctuary. Be strong, and do the work.” (1 Chronicles 28:8-10 NLT)

We, too, should strive for obedience of the Father. We, too, should strive to know God intimately, and worship Him with our whole heart and mind. He knows us- every detail- and knows what we truly need. He will give us the wisdom we seek if we will just focus on Him. We are still about the temple building business! We are the temple of God- as His church- every new believer adds to our temple.

My friend, I don't know if you are in the mire of a hard situation of just in the day to day sea of decisions. This I do know- all we must do is seek after the Father and allow Him to work out things in His will and for our good. Otherwise, you will just end up with a mess.... Just like an ice cube on a sandwich.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Day After

The votes were cast. The map was colored. The decision was made and a nation- this nation- remains divided. This much is clear and evident to us all. So, what now?

Just as stated yesterday, we look to Christ. My friend we have not been promised easy lives free of conflict or trial. Instead we trust and cling to our Savior who has promised to carry us through every trial, conflict, and challenge. As believers in the Son who saves, we never walk alone. Now, more than ever let us seek His face because there is a world watching and they desperately need Him.

In His perfect timing, here were some quotes and scriptures from my devotion today:

"Your sense of security must not rest in your possessions or in things going your way. I am training you to depend on me alone, finding fulfillment in my Presence. This entails being satisfied with much or with little, accepting either as My will for the moment. Instead of grasping and controlling, you are learning to release and receive. Cultivate this receptive stance by trusting Me in every situation. " from "Jesus Calling" by Sarah Young

"Crisis brings us face to face with our inadequacy and our inadequacy in turn leads us to the inexhaustible sufficiency of God." Catherine Marshall from "Once a Day Everyday"

"I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 NLT)

"But now, O Jacob, listen to the LORD who created you.
O Israel, the one who formed you says,
“Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you.
I have called you by name; you are mine. When you go through deep waters,
I will be with you.
When you go through rivers of difficulty,
you will not drown.
When you walk through the fire of oppression,
you will not be burned up;
the flames will not consume you." (Isaiah 43:1, 2 NLT)

If you make the LORD your refuge,
if you make the Most High your shelter, no evil will conquer you;
no plague will come near your home. For he will order his angels
to protect you wherever you go. They will hold you up with their hands
so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone. You will trample upon lions and cobras;
you will crush fierce lions and serpents under your feet! The LORD says, “I will rescue those who love me.
I will protect those who trust in my name. When they call on me, I will answer;
I will be with them in trouble.
I will rescue and honor them. I will reward them with a long life
and give them my salvation.” (Psalm 91:9-16 NLT)

My friend, our future and security is in Jesus- not anything else. We must cling to Him and truly let Him transform us. Our world needs to witness transformed lives to begin to recognize their own need for Him. Jesus- He alone- is what our nation, our world needs. Will we live it out day to day before them? Will we speak of the hope He is in our life? Will we cling to Him in our weakest moments secure that our true home is waiting? Let us not walk in fear, but share the rich grace and peace given to us through Christ knowing that the ultimate victory has been won. Let us pray, desperately so, for those who still need Him, but more than ever, let us live the faith we profess.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

This Election

Today, in our nation, there is an election- many would argue that it is one of the most critical ones in recent history. I have always tried to appreciate the privilege we have to vote in our nation for the governmental persons and policies that will affect our world. I voted and have voted in the last several elections.

While I am very concerned about this election, I am not afraid. The maker of heaven and earth is still in control regardless of the election results today. He is who is my protector, defender, provider, and guide in this process of life.

"The eyes of the Lord watch over those who do right,
and his ears are open to their prayers.
But the Lord turns his face
against those who do evil.” Now, who will want to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you suffer for doing what is right, God will reward you for it. So don’t worry or be afraid of their threats. Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it. "(1 Peter 3:12-15 NLT)

Do what is right and honoring to the Father.... Vote! Vote for the candidates that honor the values and beliefs of our true King- God. Then, however, do not fear but instead trust that God is still in control of all things.

"The LORD is my light and my salvation—
so why should I be afraid?
The LORD is my fortress, protecting me from danger,
so why should I tremble? When evil people come to devour me,
when my enemies and foes attack me,
they will stumble and fall. Though a mighty army surrounds me,
my heart will not be afraid.
Even if I am attacked,
I will remain confident. The one thing I ask of the LORD—
the thing I seek most—
is to live in the house of the LORD all the days of my life,
delighting in the LORD’s perfections
and meditating in his Temple." (Psalm 27:1-4 NLT)

"No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.
And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8:37-39 NLT)

My friend, as believers, our future is secure. Even if our world falls apart, our true home is safe and cannot be shaken. Take heart and have peace-- there is a world watching....

Monday, November 5, 2012

Weighed Down

Last night we arrived home from a long weekend trip as a family. Over the summer we were unable to go on a vacation due to several factors and we decided to take a fall getaway with just our boys.

It was a fun time mainly because we had some extended time together as a family. I loved it- but, I am so weary today from it all. Several times I found myself carrying bags, my purse, Kendall or a combination of the three. On one of the tours, I carried Kendall, my purse and his backpack up three flights of stairs. Now, I am in decent shape, but carrying all that extra weight killed my arms and back. Thankfully, Reagan helped ease my burden... And there was such relief when the weight was lifted off of me!

My friend, I have been guilty of carrying the weight of unforgiveness, a need to control, anger, past hurts and jealousy. Those weights brought such pain into my world as I carried them with me wherever I went.... by my choice. Christ continually offered to remove the overwhelming burden, but I refused. Why? Sometimes it was my need to have control. Sometimes it was my longing to be recognized and appreciated. Sometimes it was just a stubborn heart that did not want to show a weakness. So I struggled weighed down by my own sin and when I finally fell under the weight of it all, Christ gently lifted them off my heart and brought the relief I so desperately needed.

David once wrote... "My guilt overwhelms me—
it is a burden too heavy to bear... I am exhausted and completely crushed.
My groans come from an anguished heart. You know what I long for, Lord;
you hear my every sigh. "(Psalm 38:4, 8, 9 NLT)

Yet, God promises to bear our burdens for us if we will give them up to Him and trust Him to work things out for our good. He only asks that we seek after Him- His knowledge, His heart- and follow Him in obedience.

"Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30 NLT)

My friend, are you breaking under the weight of things you were never meant to bear? He is waiting with hands outstretched to ease your load. What are you waiting for?

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Good Gifts

Tomorrow is Carson's birthday. I love that boy.... I love his smile and the glint in his eye. He has this love for life that is contagious. Carson brings joy to my world, and I want to make his birthday special- as I try to do with all my boys.

Reagan and I have talked and discussed his birthday for weeks. We spend what we can afford, but the emphasis is not on the amount spent- it is about making that child feel special. It's knowing what each child loves and values and use that knowledge to bless them.

If we, as humans, go to this much trouble for our children, how much effort does God give to blessing us? God knows everything about us because He knit us together in the womb. He even knows the number of hairs on our head! He loves us so much to know us that intimately. His gifts for us are tailor made perfectly just for us- just as His challenges and opportunities to grow our faith. Sometimes, the trials we undergo are actually gifts in disguise.

“You fathers—if your children ask for a fish, do you give them a snake instead? Or if they ask for an egg, do you give them a scorpion? Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him.” (Luke 11:11-13 NLT)

I can't wait to see Carson's face tomorrow when he opens his gifts... His joy makes me giddy happy. I think my joy in the Father and His beautiful gifts to me, bless and honor Him. Look for the hidden blessings in your day and just know that they were made specifically for you by a very purposeful, loving God.