Thursday, January 31, 2013

Fill Your Cup

Note:  This morning the Lord drew me into an extended worship experience with Him  What I am sharing today is part of what He placed on my heart through the scriptures He took me to as well as my heart and prayers to Him.  It was such a tender experience that I first hesitated sharing it, but I have a deep peace that this is what God had for US today.  I hope it is a blessing to you. 

Oh my precious Father, thank you for drawing me into your sweet presence today! You settled my anxious thoughts about the day and Your peace flooded my heart. Who is my delight and my joy? May it always be You, my loving Father! Your scriptures breathe life into my parched soul reminding me of Your Holy Character that is all that I cannot be on my own. I need You just as air and water! I love You.... my incredible Savior!

"So here I am in the place of worship, eyes open, drinking in your strength and glory. In your generous love I am really living at last! My lips brim praises like fountains. I bless you every time I take a breath; My arms wave like banners of praise to you. "(Psalm 63:2-4 MSG)

"....I place before you Life and Death, Blessing and Curse. Choose life so that you and your children will live. And love God , your God, listening obediently to him, firmly embracing him. Oh yes, he is life itself, a long life settled on the soil that God , your God, promised to give your ancestors, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. "(Deuteronomy 30:19, 20 MSG)

Oh Father, I choose life in you! Help me to recognize that You are my God and firmly embrace all of You! Settle me on my personal promise land as your child....

"Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don't get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes." (Matthew 6:34 MSG)

Focus me, my Savior, on what You are doing in my life right now- only in these moments- tomorrow is already in Your hands. Thank you for this incredible day and the gift of sweet time in your glorious presence. Whom else would I serve Father? Only You....only You.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Shining a Light

In the wee hours of the morning, I heard a cry coming from Kendall.  I went back to find him sitting up in his crib and he told me that his mouth hurt.  I realized that between the allergy medicine we had given him and the cooler weather that had moved in that he was probably just dealing with a dry, scratchy throat.  So, I picked him up and we went down the dark hallway to a dark kitchen and prepared a cup of water for him.  Then, I sat with him in the darkness of the living room.

 He, remembering that we were playing a hunting game earlier, said, "Hunting game gone-gone?"
 "Yes," I replied.
 "No show?" he said looking at the television.
 "No, Mommy was sleeping," I answered.
 "Oh........ Daddy sleeping.  Caleb sleeping.  Carson sleeping..... I go night night," he sweetly replied.

I took him to bed and tucked him in tightly.  As I walked through the house back to my warm bed, I marveled at how he never realized that it was the deep dark of night and how the silence of slumber did not alert him to fact that morning had not arrived as of yet.  As I drifted to peaceful sleep, the thought hit me, just how easily the spiritually lost live in the darkness of this world- going about their lives never realizing that the light of the Savior could flood their world.  His precious healing light that mends the broken, brings hope to those drowning in hopelessness, and gives purpose to the mundane.  He is all that we cannot be on our own and His beautiful light is meant to bring out all the beauty within....  The thought then hit me.... am I doing enough to shine and reveal His light into my world?  If they desperately need to see His light, am I revealing it? 

"Jesus once again addressed them: "I am the world's Light. No one who follows me stumbles around in the darkness. I provide plenty of light to live in." (John 8:12 MSG)

"This, in essence, is the message we heard from Christ and are passing on to you: God is light, pure light; there's not a trace of darkness in him." (1 John 1:5 MSG)

"Everything was created through him; nothing—not one thing!— came into being without him. What came into existence was Life, and the Life was Light to live by. The Life-Light blazed out of the darkness; the darkness couldn't put it out." (John 1:3-5 MSG)

"Here's another way to put it: You're here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We're going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don't think I'm going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I'm putting you on a light stand. Now that I've put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you'll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven." (Matthew 5:14-16 MSG)

Father, how I humbly thank you for your precious light that has brought healing, hope, love, joy and peace into my heart, mind and soul.  Thank you for allowing me to be a light-bearer to your world.  May I honor you and live out a reflective life before others that draws them to your safe harbor.  Help me be filled with such overwhelming compassion that draws me to deep empathy for the darkness in our world.  Enable us, Father, so we may be a blessing to you!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Playing Along

In recent weeks, we have had some cooler temperatures in our part of Texas.  Now, while Texas rarely gets snow and ice, we have a wind that is sharp and can cut through you.  As a result, the boys haven't been able to go outside as much as we might normally due to the wind and illness that have plagued us.  So, we have played more inside the house.  I had began to notice that when the older boys would begin to play a wii game that Kendall would "play" too.  For example, if they were playing a hunting game, he would go get a large orange Nerf gun and shoot the varmints right along with them.  If they were playing a musical wii game, he would go get his bright red guitar and play music with them.  Yesterday, Carson was playing another game as he had finished school and Kendall had an extra wii remote playing right along with him.  This has been amusing to me because if you ask him, he absolutely believes that he is playing the game with them.  The older boys love it because it keeps him happy and out of their hair!

Last night, as I caught a glimpse of this scene, God spoke to my heart.... how many times have I just "played" church?  Did I know the right words to say and hold my Bible faithfully- all the while looking appropriately "churchy"?  Sadly, true.  I think there have all been times when we just were in the motions of it all, but our heart and mind were not fully engaged and experiencing the sweet worship of our Savior.  Sometimes, we even long for that worship, but just can't seem to focus or let go of all that bothers or hinders..... some have pretended at church for a lifetime..... that tears at my heart and convicts....  How many times have know someone was struggling and said nothing because it would mean getting involved?  Our world has gotten so used to seeing "churchy" people who are good at pretending, but not in genuine faith and service.  Oh, Father, please help me to be genuine in my faith.... to truly worship you with my whole heart, and to show a real, honest love to this world. 

"What a God we have! And how fortunate we are to have him, this Father of our Master Jesus! Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we've been given a brand-new life and have everything to live for, including a future in heaven—and the future starts now! God is keeping careful watch over us and the future. The Day is coming when you'll have it all—life healed and whole. I know how great this makes you feel, even though you have to put up with every kind of aggravation in the meantime. Pure gold put in the fire comes out of it proved pure; genuine faith put through this suffering comes out proved genuine. When Jesus wraps this all up, it's your faith, not your gold, that God will have on display as evidence of his victory." (1 Peter 1:3-7 MSG)

We, can be free- free to love, free to share our burdens, free to bless, free to worship our holy, living God.  That is His desire- that His precious redeemed would be free to reveal Him to a world still bound in the bondage of sin!  Then, it will be our faith that has grown and will be the evidence of HIS victory in this world.  Glory!  Let us stop pretending.  Let us come to know and live the genuine faith to which we have been called!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Love and a Gift Card?

Yesterday afternoon I had the rare opportunity to go shopping by myself.  Can you hear the "Hallelujah" chorus in your head right now?  Part of what makes this shopping trip so rare is that I wasn't buying groceries!  Most of the time, when I go shopping, it is to the grocery store, paying bills, and running errands for our family.  So, going shopping at a store that doesn't sale milk by the gallon is a treat.  Reagan offered to keep the boys because I knew a local department store was having a great sale that I wanted to check out and maybe make a purchase using some of my birthday money. Plus, the boys need some new jeans as almost every pair they own has a hole in the knee.

While in this store, I heard this announcement over the intercom, "Welcome to ****'s department store.  Valentine's Day is coming soon and a **** gift card is the best way to say, 'I love you' to those in your life!  We make telling others how much you care about them easy- just purchase your **** gift card at the checkout located in the front of the store.  Show them how much they mean to you with a **** gift card!"

I stopped and almost laughed out loud.  Really, a gift card from a department store is the best way to say "I love you!"..... I looked around to see if anyone else was thinking how crazy that was.  Nope, they were all buried in the sales racks looking for a great bargain.  I kept thinking about that advertisement (and it kept playing over and over) and I began reflecting on the greatest ways that I had personally been told, "I love you!" 

I remember various times when each of my parents told me that they loved me and showed me their love through words, hugs, and actions.  My dad still gives me a big hug every time I see him and I feel his love for me in that tight embrace.  My mother often tells me through a phone call or text just how much she loves me and how proud of me she is and somehow that love swells within. Reagan's parents, too, voice and express their love for me and I marvel at how they truly love me as their own child.

Reagan tells me often of his love for me, and showed that love on July 5 several years ago when he committed to spend the rest of his life with me.  Every time he hugs me close, opens the door for me, holds my hand and puts my wishes ahead of his own- I know I am loved.

Moments when a toddler first looks at you and says, "I love you!"-even if it isn't perfectly pronounced- those moments made my heart could soar in flight because of the love they gave me.  Every time I walk in the door and I feel 6 arms around me in joy that I am home, I feel such great love.  Random moments when a note is written, a kiss is given on my cheek, my lap is filled with a boy, and words are whispered in my ear- there is much love expressed between my heart and theirs.

Thousands of years ago, a man who was without sin, thought of me.  He, moved and committed by the great love He had for me as well as countless others, gave His life-blood for me.  No matter how I try to comprehend it, I cannot get beyond how great that love was and still is....for me.  No one has loved me more than our Holy Father and His son, Jesus. 

Our world has so twisted "love" turning it into something that can be bought, bargained, and earned... but, this is just a lie from the evil one.  Worldly love is just a cheap imitation of what the Father wanted for us.  Real love isn't bought at a department store.... real love is found on an empty cross stained by the blood of our Savior.  He has been crying out His great love since the beginning of time and all that he asks is that we accept it and give our lives as a love-offering to Him. 

"My beloved friends, let us continue to love each other since love comes from God. Everyone who loves is born of God and experiences a relationship with God. The person who refuses to love doesn't know the first thing about God, because God is love—so you can't know him if you don't love. This is how God showed his love for us: God sent his only Son into the world so we might live through him. This is the kind of love we are talking about—not that we once upon a time loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to clear away our sins and the damage they've done to our relationship with God. My dear, dear friends, if God loved us like this, we certainly ought to love each other. No one has seen God, ever. But if we love one another, God dwells deeply within us, and his love becomes complete in us—perfect love! This is how we know we're living steadily and deeply in him, and he in us: He's given us life from his life, from his very own Spirit. Also, we've seen for ourselves and continue to state openly that the Father sent his Son as Savior of the world. Everyone who confesses that Jesus is God's Son participates continuously in an intimate relationship with God. We know it so well, we've embraced it heart and soul, this love that comes from God."(1 John 4:7-16 MSG)

Love.... is love what you long for?  Look to the Savior and embrace it heart and soul.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Personal Revelations

I had a couple of personal revelations this morning in regards to a struggle that I have been dealing with and one in regards to homeschooling our oldest son.  Normally, this would end up on Facebook rather than this blog, but I felt that this was too much to share on Facebook.

First, I realized that if God is pruning me in areas of my life, then that removes much of the heartache, grief, anger and resentment associated with that area of pruning.  For example, if you are going through a disappointment or loss, it is very often being used to draw us closer to the Father.  When you can view that loss or disappointment as being pruned by the Father for greater growth and fruit bearing, then the much of the hurt felt by that loss or disappointment dissipates because we begin to see the purpose behind it.  It also frees us from the bondage of unforgiveness that might be associated with an individual involved in that loss.  Today when I had this revelation, I began to feel God's healing in my life- I am being pruned and it is for my ultimate growth and increased fruit bearing.  Thank you Father for helping to see this.  It isn't about the individual or situation as much as it is about my growth.  This makes it easier for me to let go of hurts and unforgiveness.

My second revelation was in regards to homeschooling Caleb.  Each morning had become a battle to begin his schoolwork and I knew much of this was because we often start with Math which is his least favorite subject.  My theory has been that I would prefer to get his hardest subject first so that the rest of the day could go easier.  Today, I realized that sometimes he does better to get a couple of easier subjects done first in order to get him "in the groove" so to speak.  Today, we started with Science and Vocabulary which are far easier for him and this allowed him to ease himself into all the tasks of the day.  I know this sounds simple, but I have been praying for God to give me wisdom in this situation.  I am so thankful that we can go to the Father with ANY concern and He is faithful to bless us with wisdom.

Thanks for reading and letting me share! :-)

Clean Out the Lint!

I have an old dryer for our clothes.  So old, in fact, that to keep it running I have a large book.... a large parenting book.... wedged against the "start" button to keep it running.  Over the past year, if I moved the book the dryer would only run for a few minutes and then it would stop in the middle of its cycle.  However, the book does not seem to hold enough pressure on the switch to keep it running; so, now I have a laundry basket- a full laundry basket- wedged against the book that is wedged against the switch.  Are you laughing yet?  I have done this for well over a year- maybe two?  Yes, it would be easy to call a repairman, but it seems to only be the switch as the dryer works well otherwise.  The bad part is that all this (book and laundry basket) must sit on top of my lint drawer.  Too often, I forget to remove the lint from the dryer because it requires the extra effort of removing the laundry basket and book to get to it.  Yes, I DO know that is a fire hazard as lint is extremely flammable, but I just want to get the laundry done.  Can you relate?

Yep, it is bad... I know.  As I finally cleaned it out yesterday, the Lord really spoke to my heart.  Too often there are areas of sin.... sometimes small, sometimes big... in our lives that we just don't want to deal with- we just want to live our lives.  We pile on "stuff" to keep things working and functioning in our world, but we never get to the issue that growing inside- the sin.  The thing is, this sin is highly flammable.  One spark and we blow up and fall apart because we were holding in all "trash" within.  Isn't that what the lint is- trash? 
This morning, God really convicted me in two areas of struggle in my life and I realized that they were the lingering lint in my heart.  I can either choose to bring it out and allow God to discard it and bring His healing freedom into my heart or I can choose to keep it buried inside- ready to catch fire and destroy.  I have chosen freedom, but I recognize that this is an ongoing process - just as you have to continue to clean out the lint drawer.
My friend, what is God revealing about the sin and struggles in your life?  Are you ready to deal with it?  "But, when the Holy Spirit controls our lives, he will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  Here there is no conflict with the law.  Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed their passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there.  If we are living now by the Holy Spirit, let us follow the Holy Spirit's leading in every part of our lives."  Galatians 5:22-25 NLT
We are meant to be free- healthy, growing followers of Christ that reveal His love through words and actions, but to do that best, we must have a lint-free heart.  God, help me to give up the sin that so easily entangles that has been buried within.  I want to live a life of freedom in You. 

Thursday, January 24, 2013

In Life's Pile Ups

Last night I was preparing dinner when the youngest, Kendall, came in mumbling something about needing a towel, cars, and powder.  Now, it took me a few minutes to process what he was saying, but when I got to the "powder" part, I quickly realized that I needed to investigate what he had been doing back in his room.  I found a total of 18 cars (plus other toys) scattered about his room with baby powder on them.  Some had a light dusting of powder and some were totally covered.  It was a mess..... and yet, I couldn't help but notice that care he took to make sure that EVERY car had powder on it.  Apparently, he did not want to leave anyone out!  I put a picture of it on Facebook and a friend commented that it wasn't baby powder but "snow" and the cars were a part of an 18 car pile up.  Quite possibly!  Who can know the inner workings of a toddler's mind?

To be honest, I had struggled yesterday.  Things had just not gone right- nothing major- just a hard day of countless distractions, needs and issues.  That is part of any one of my days, but I did not start by spending time with the Father and my whole day felt out of sorts.  Try as I may, my efforts to correct and get my day back on track were not enough.  What I needed was some precious time with the Father to get my world back on track.

As I thought about Kendall's cars last night, I chuckled because my day felt kind of like a wreck- out of sorts- and just not how I wanted my day to go.  Kendall had taken such measures to make sure that he covered each of his cars with the powder.... and, it hit me that God goes to such efforts to make sure we are "covered" for the day ahead, and all we have to do is go to Him.  He protects. He comforts.  He provides.  He directs. He frees.  All that we must do is go to Him and draw upon His incredible character yielding our day and needs to Him.  That is what I was missing yesterday- Him.  I was trying to manage things in my own efforts and I was miserable. 

"The apostles then rendezvoused with Jesus and reported on all that they had done and taught. Jesus said, "Come off by yourselves; let's take a break and get a little rest." For there was constant coming and going. They didn't even have time to eat. So they got in the boat and went off to a remote place by themselves. Someone saw them going and the word got around. From the surrounding towns people went out on foot, running, and got there ahead of them. When Jesus arrived, he saw this huge crowd. At the sight of them, his heart broke—like sheep with no shepherd they were. He went right to work teaching them." (Mark 6:30-34 MSG)

Jesus had been ministering to so many and His earthly body was weary and tired.  He wanted rest, but upon seeing the crowds in need of Him, and His heart broke for their need.  Max Lucado states about this event, "But his love for people overcomes his need for rest...Many of those he healed would never say, 'thank you', but he healed them anyway.  Most were more concerned with being healthy than being holy, but he healed them anyway.... He had compassion on them." (Grace for the Moment)  Each day God has compassion on me and provides just what I need for spiritual growth and maturity, but I must access Him.  I must go to Him and lay my day, my needs, my time, my efforts, and my heart all at His feet.  Don't let the "wrecks" overcome you today.  Stop, and draw upon Him and allow Him to bless this day for you by providing all you need to not just survive, but thrive.

Monday, January 21, 2013

My Heart for this Nation

Today in our nation's capital, there are crowds lined along the streets as this nation inaugurates the president for his second term.  Many call this a huge progression for our nation and many have commented on how this is a day of rejoicing in our democratic process that has chosen to give this president another four year term.  Through speeches, toasts, and prayers much is shared and expressed and yet, what grieves me most is what is left unspoken.

On this day, as I consider the heart of our nation, I weep.  It seems that the God we speak of or swear oaths to is but a fictional tradition that we tolerate rather than a most Holy God who holds all time and power in His hands.  We do not recognize nor honor His teachings or His Son who came as the Savior to our world.  Those who truly love and attempt to live out His teachings are often ridiculed, belittled and scorned as being intolerant by a society who is tolerant of anyone except those who follow Christ. 

As I watched some of the events of today, my heart cried out in sorrow.  I so desperately long to see our nation on its knees crying out to the Father in forgiveness for how we have turned our back on Him.  I want to see our Savior, high and lifted up- glorified- and to see every knee bow in honor of the Most High.   A few things have become clear to me in the past few hours....

"For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come.  Therefore, let us offer through Jesus a continual sacrifice of praise to God, proclaiming our allegiance to his name.  And don't forget to do good and to share with those in need.  These are the sacrifices that please God.Hebrews 13:14-16 NLT

My friend, this is not our home.  So, let our hearts and minds focus on the home that is waiting for us in heaven.  God is faithful to His children who honor Him regardless of circumstances.  As a result, we still have much to praise Him for.... I think we may be entering a time when we see Him active and alive in our world more than in years past- not in the way we might hope- but most certainly working through the circumstances and events that are coming.  We must continue to proclaiming our allegiance to the Father in our words and deeds.  Our world is desperate for the Father and now is not the time for us to be silent in our faith.  We need to share it with our words, and live it out before them... not a "token" faith that shows up when it serves our good purpose, but a genuine faith that penetrates down to the marrow of our being. 

Another realization, is that we as a whole are responsible for the state of our nation.  Collectively, we have chosen to honor athletes, actors, and politicians and hold them up as the standard by which we should look up to.  We have sacrificed babies at the alter of convenience and considered the pursuit of money and power as of highest importance. The stain of this sin taints us all....  I have spent much time in heartache and prayer, today, asking God to forgive our nation.  My friend, it must start with our hearts.... rather than looking indigently at those who hold other views than us- let us weep and pray over the state of nation.

This, I do know- in time, everyone will bow a knee to the Father and recognize Him as the most High God.  For those of us who are a part of the redeemed, it will be a joyous day!  However, for those who are not covered by the blood of Christ, it will be a desperate time of sadness. There will be much heartache over missed opportunities and empty purposes that were lived out by people who did not acknowledge Him.  But, God will NOT be mocked and He WILL reveal Himself when the time has come.   I must trust in His perfect timing knowing that no office on this planet is beyond His reach.

My friend, this is a time of building and perfecting our faith.  Do not lose heart, but seek Him.  Praise and glorify all the work of His hands and sadly repent of the sin that covers our world and lives.  Live a life that our society can't understand and can't ignore.  Be the salt and light of this world that draws others to the Father because they can't help but long for what we have to offer--- a pure and holy Savior.  The change our nation so desperately seeks is what they are most afraid of.  Let us show them the freedom and love that comes when we lose our life for the Savior. 

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Little Treasures

Okay, I confess that today I have been a little slow.... it was more of a challenge to get up and find the energy to face this day.  This is not uncommon for Thursdays as we typically have very full and busy Tuesdays and Wednesdays- but, still, I have had such a time getting motivated to do anything.  When it takes me  awhile to get to the coffeepot and get it brewing, you know it is a rough morning.  As I was praying and listening to praise music, I felt God pricking my heart and reminding me of the blessings in my house this morning.

First, both of my older sons, awoke and completed their morning responsibilities I had poured my first cup of coffee- without me giving them a reminder and on their own accord.

Second, because of their efficiency and discipline in their duties, they have been able to enjoy some rare, morning free time and have been playing well- almost happily- together.

Third, they have each taken moments of helping their youngest brother with needs that he had this morning. 

To be honest, my list could go on and on.... my flexible schedule that gives me extended time to study and praise my Father, the opportunity to homeschool my children, an incredible husband who supports and encourages me, a home that meets our needs and our budget.....

Sometimes, I just need to be reminded that He is in all the small blessings, gifts, treasures of my day... just as He is in the monumental ones.  Yet, another reminder that He is "In the Details" of my life and that even these little moments should be seeds of joy to my heart that sprout and grow praise in my soul.  He gives us so much, but how many times have I not had spiritual eyes to see it?

"I am overwhelmed with joy in the Lord my God!  For he has dressed me with the clothing of salvation and draped me in a robe of righteousness.  I am like a bridegroom in his wedding suit or a bride with her jewels.  The Sovereign Lord will show his justice to the nations of the world.  Everyone will praise him!  His righteousness will be like a garden in early spring, with plants springing up everywhere."  Isaiah 61:10-11  NLT

As I marvel in his little treasures for me today, my prayer is that I will continually see Him through all that must be done in the next hours.... such beautiful reminders they are of the incredible love He has for us.  We can't fully imagine it because it is beyond all human comprehension.  Just savor the fact that His love for His children springs up from the events of our day to remind us that He is always here and always in the details....

Monday, January 14, 2013

On Empty

Okay, in my world I admit that there are a few things that I really do not want to run out of and not have available when I need them.  For example, diapers.... have you ever had to face the reality that you are out of diapers when changing a child?  It is NOT pretty.  Another thing I do not want to run out of is coffee.... my boys don't their mother to run out of coffee either!  How about gas?  My vehicle had a malfunctioning gas gage for a period of time and I ran out of gas twice.... once when I was driving and another when Reagan was driving.  I still have a bolt of fear strike when the orange light flashes that we are running low on gas. 

Perhaps nothing is harder, however, than the sinking feeling of emptiness within.... the moment when life and all of its needs is more than I can handle.  When I realize that I have reached the end of my personal abilities, energy and time and yet what is ahead of me is beyond my limitations.  Have you been there?  Who hasn't been there before?  Today, I read this from the book, Jesus Calling by Sarah Young, "Do not be ashamed of your emptiness.  Instead, view it as the optimal condition for being filled with My Peace...Talk with Me about your struggles and feelings of inadequacy.  Little by little, I will transform your weakness into strengths." 

This morning, I felt so overwhelmed by all the tasks that await my attention.  It seemed impossible to do it all and I began to feel so empty, tired, and self-focused.  Gently, as I began to lift it all to Him and place my trust in His capable hands.... peace, flooded my mind and heart.  My friend, I will never be able to handle all of life by my own strength or abilities, but in HIM I am perfectly designed and enabled to handle the plans He has for me.  In HIM, we find complete-ness.  I may or may not complete every item on my list to do today, but I can have peace knowing that He directs my paths and will work it all out for my good.  He is faithful.

I also read this quote from Corrie Ten Boom from the book Once a Day,Everyday, "Conditions are always changing; therefore, I must not be dependent upon conditions.  What matters supremely is my soul and my relationship to God."  Glory!   I can never control all the circumstance that will invade my world and life, but I can trust God to use it to grow my faith in Him and draw me closer to Him.

"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 8:38-39 NLT (emphasis mine)

Father, help me to rejoice in all that you are able to do in and through me, today, when I so desperately needed to be filled with You.  I trust you to handle all the details of this day ahead.  I ask that you would grow my love, trust, and awareness of You through this day.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

From the Trash

I am not a morning person by nature.  Some of you that know me personally are chuckling at that statement because you know that all too well.  I have two sons that greet me each morning with thoughts of breakfast looming.  Most of the time, that is their first statement, "What's for breakfast?"  So, I drag myself to the kitchen, make coffee and try to oblige them as best as I can.

Yesterday, while making breakfast for the boys I noticed that Kendall was chewing on something.  It took my coffee- deprived mind a minute to realize that I had not given him anything to eat.  So, I asked him what he was eating and he informed me that he was eating dessert.  I realized that he was munching happily on a dessert cake from some that we had purchased recently.  I just couldn't figure out how he had gotten it.... they were high on a shelf in the pantry.... the older boys wouldn't give it to him because they know that I would not agree to it....hmmm.  I questioned him, and he replied that he had gotten it from the.... (wait for it).... trash.  TRASH????  What!?!  Mortified, my mind quickly processed that he had not finished his dessert cake the previous night and apparently he had thrown it away, but he had not forgotten it.  He ended up throwing it back in the trash, and I tried to get that image out of my head- I could still gag a little thinking about it.  UGH!

Later, as I thought about the whole incident, I wondered if that is how God feels when we, as believers, "digest" unholy impurities into our lives.... How many times have we allowed things that we knew weren't spiritually nutritious into our lives because the temptation was so great?  Maybe we thought it wasn't a big deal and that it wouldn't really affect us.  Perhaps, it seemed harmless in that moment.... but, the evil one deceives us into thinking danger is harmless.  In the end, regrets are plenty and we are left longing for purity.  My friend, we must be careful of what we allow into our homes... of what we allow our eyes to see and ears to hear. 

"So set yourselves apart to be holy, for I am the Lord your God.  Keep all my decrees by putting them into practice, for I am the Lord who makes you holy."  Leviticus 20:7-8 NLT

"But you, dear friends, must build each other up in your most holy faith, pray in the power of the Holy Spirit, and await the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will bring you eternal life.  In this way, you will keep yourselves safe in God's love."  Jude 1:20-21 NLT

"God has called us to live holy lives, not impure lives.  Therefore, anyone who refuses to live by these rules is not disobeying human teaching but is rejecting God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you." 
1 Thessalonians 4: 7-8 NLT

My Friend, let us set our heart and mind about the task of purity and doing all that we can to keep our homes, bodies and spiritual lives holy and set apart for the tasks that God has for us.  I do not want to miss out on what the Father has for me because I am spiritually unhealthy!  Plus, as we raise our children, let us teach them the path of purity in all things- in our words, actions, activities and even in our reactions.  In the words of a child's nursery song, "Oh, be careful little eyes what you see!  Oh, be careful little ears what you hear!"

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

In the Details

In the past several months, God has really been teaching me a lesson in regards to the daily details of my life.  I tend to be a planner.  I like knowing what we are intending to do any given day and often when I wake, my thoughts drift toward my plan for the day ahead.   My boys have become accustomed to the daily briefing on what our plans are for the day.  Now, while I believe that there are positives to this quality in my personality, God has been growing me in the small details.  You are probably thinking...."What?  Huh?"

In the past, I could get so worked up if all the details or man-made (aka Julie-made) plans for the day did not go as planned.  I would become stressed out and not real enjoyable to be around.  Ouch!  Confession hurts, but truth heals.  Our beautiful Father is revealing to me that He is in all the details of my life- and that He has them well under control.  So, when traffic is bad, and it takes us longer to run errands than expected- it is okay.  This week started with an unexpected guest making its arrival in our home...a stomach bug.  When it hit me at church on Sunday morning, I saw God's hand in the extra worker that just showed up to help this week which allowed me to come home and rest.  Our precious Savior had a different plan for me on Sunday.  On Monday, I was better but still not ready to tackle all that I would have liked to have done on that day.  Late in the day on Monday, Kendall became ill with our "guest" and changed all our plans for Tuesday. 

Instead of being frustrated in all that I wasn't accomplishing over the past two days, I saw my Father in the details.  He felt we needed extra rest, time to be together and just recover physically.  If I say that I long to be in the Father's will, then I have to trust Him when He changes the plan for the day.  There is freedom in that trust- the stress, concern and worry vanishes when I recognize that my Savior requires something different from me on that day, moment, hour.....  He is in the details, but I must seek Him in them. 

Today I read these words from Job while he was in the midst of hardship and heartache.  His faith is so incredible - that even when his world fell apart, he trusted the Father. 

"But he knows where I am going.  And when he tests me, I will come out as pure as gold.  For I have stayed on God's paths; I have followed his ways and not turned aside.  I have not departed from his commands, but have treasured his words more than daily food.  But once he has made his decision, who can change his mind?  Whatever he wants to do, he does.  So he will do to me whatever he has planned.  He controls my destiny."  Job 23:10-14 NLT

Even when Job didn't understand what all was happening, he trusted the Father to be in the details of his life.  He knew that God's plans and ways were higher than his.  While I recognize that the challenges are a far cry from that which Job faced, I still believe that the Father is just as much in the details of my life as He was in the details of Job's life.  He is in the details of your life too.  If things are hard right now, just trust Him and continually reflect on His faithfulness and goodness to you in the past.  Ask Him to reveal and show Himself faithful to you now.  If life is going well, still seek Him in the details of your everyday events and have peace when He interrupts your self-made plans. 

Father, give us eyes to see You in the details of our life....

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Love Much

Every night before I go to bed, I go and check on the boys.  I re-cover Kendall who often has moved enough to become uncovered.  I also check Carson who sometimes needs an additional cover or may need to be uncovered as he tends to get hot when he sleeps.   Caleb tends to be okay, but I still look in on him to make sure he has all that he needs.   Every night, I go and check on them making adjustments for them as needed.  Every night.... why? I can't help it.  I can't laid down to rest until I know that they are cared for and prepared for the long night ahead.  Most parents understand that need- the need to make sure that our children have all that they require in order for us to feel comfortable ourselves.

God is like that with us.... He tends to our needs out of His wealth of power, peace and riches.  Even if it requires the life-blood of His very own Son, He stops at nothing to have a relationship with us and meet our needs.  Unlimited resources are at His disposal and He will stop at nothing to watch us grow and mature in our faith and knowledge of Him.  He desires a close, loving and intimate relationship with us and that is why He cares so much for our needs and concerns.  Isn't that why we go to such lengths to care for our children?  We want to see them grow and mature and have a loving, caring relationship with us. 

"We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us.  God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.  By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgement; because as He is, so also are we in this world.  There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.  We love because He first loved us."  1 John 4:16-19 NASB

Truth is, as much as I want my boys to know that I love them and see all that I do for them- I want them to fall in love with God.  My heart's desire is to reflect the love of the Father and Son into their lives through the enabling of the Holy Spirit within me.  I want them to know that my love truly comes directly from the Father and His gift of life to us.  The more I acknowledge, understand and see the love the Father has for me, the more my love for Him grows.  It is then, when I am best able to share that love with others- my husband, my boys, and others in my life. 

Today, stop and just reflect on the love that He has for you.  In what ways, have you witnessed and experienced His love for you in the past few days?  months?  years?  Reflect on your salvation and the heaven that awaits us and realize the great cost it required.  How can we not feel overwhelmed by that kind of love?  We are much loved .... let us go forth and love much.....

Monday, January 7, 2013


This morning I was sitting on my bed and just savoring a time of quiet stillness when Kendall came into the room and climbed on the bed.  He moved everything that was next to me so he could just sit right beside me.  As it turned out, all he wanted was to be with his mommy- to sit close to me and cuddle.  I have learned to never turn cuddles down knowing that all too soon the boys will grow and no longer search me out for that special time.

As we sat together, we talked, laughed, tickled and cuddled.  Several times we just sat quietly and he laid his head on my shoulder to just rest with me.  At one point, I did have to correct him - he is a two year old afterall!  It was really a sweet time.  God reminded me that is what He desires to have with me each day....

a time that I come and just sit in stillness with Him.  In the stillness of His strong presence I can hear His voice better.

a time that we talk together.  In that time with Him, I can pour out my heart to Him- struggles, joys, needs, praises and thanksgiving.  Sometimes, that is when I am the most honest with myself in regards to matters of the heart. 

a time of laughing and rejoicing.  God wants us to rejoice in Him and all that He does for us.  Sometimes, I just laugh and rejoice at the wonderful work of His hands in my life.  When I see all that He does to meet and provide for us, how can I help but smile and praise Him?

a time of just resting in Him.  Sometimes, I just need to rest in His strength and presence.   To just feel His peace and trust that all is going to work out for my benefit, growth, and maturity.

a time of correction.  Part of being in His loving presence is that I see my shortcomings more easily and He convicts me in areas that I need change.  This is necessary if I am to continue growing in my faith.  He only corrects those He loves deeply.

As much as Kendall enjoyed our time together, I think it meant so much more to me, as His parent.  I know that soon he may not feel that need as much as he does now.  I think God enjoys our time together more than I could ever appreciate as well.  He knows how weak and feeble I can be in our times together and how much I need Him and that precious time to prepare for the day ahead.  

Father, please stir and grow a desire in me to just be with You- to savor our time together.  Thank you for reminding me of just how much I need that time of just being close to You. 

Thursday, January 3, 2013

He is My Life

"The giant step in the walk of faith is the one we take when we decide God no longer is a part of our lives.  He is our life."  Beth Moore, Praying God's Word Day by Day

Have you been there?  Have you hit that place where you suddenly realize that all you have done before and your "token" efforts to be a Christian have fallen short?  Did you still feel empty? 

I did.  I had accepted Christ as a child and had tried to make God an active part of my life.  I attended church faithfully and would even stop to read scriptures when I could work it into my busy schedule.  I would even acknowledge that I wanted Him to be first in my life.  But, I still felt that I was missing something and I was- I was missing the intimacy with the Father that He longs to have with us.  I found myself at the bottom of a pit of my own making and design. This pit was made by feeble attempts of being a Christian and times of living my life by the world standard instead of the Father's standard.

It was there, at the bottom of my self- designed pit, that my heart stirred with the longing for more. When I looked to the Father, He reached down and pulled me out to freedom, to purpose, to more love and intimacy with Him than I had ever known.  My heart was so full to overflowing with love for the Father that I realized that was what I was missing.... Him.  I no longer wanted to dabble in Him.... I wanted Him to be my life.  The grace and love He offered me was so much more than I could ever imagine and I needed Him as much as the air in my lungs. 

"Your old life is dead.  Your new life, which is your real life- even though invisible to spectators- is with Christ in God.  He is your life."  Colossians 3:3 MSG

"He said to him, 'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.  This is the greatest and most important commandment.'"  Matthew 22:37-38 Holman CSB

My friend, He wants to be our life- as close and needed as the air in our lungs.  He wants to give us more that our mind's eye could imagine.  No matter where we are in our faith, He longs to take us deeper in our relationship with Him.  As we start this new year, let us make Him more than a priority- let Him become your life. 

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

At His Feet

Well, I sit here in the warmth of my home and family, and just ponder the new year ahead.  There is just something about the closer of one thing and the newness of another- just as chapters in a good book.  However, for many of us, this isn't a good book, but our life.  For many, the chapter of 2012 did not go as expected and they are longing for a new, fresh start.  For some, 2012 was an incredible year of milestones and blessings.  Most of us probably fall somewhere in the middle- with a mix of moments both high and low- so entangled and intertwined that it is hard to separate them.

The thought that hit me this morning is that no matter how we reflect on this past year, we can lay it all at the foot of the cross.  Was this year incredibly difficult?  Lay it at the foot of the cross.  Was this year an incredible gift to you?  Lay it at the foot of the cross.  The Father is willing to take it all- whether good or bad- and it is a blessing to Him.  Why?  Because it shows that we trust Him.  If we trust Him with our hurts, tears, joys and gifts then He can grow us, mold us, and our reflection changes into His perspective.  Shouldn't that be our heart anyway?  To see all of life from the perspective of the Father?

Today, take a moment to reflect on all that has been and all that you hope will be.... then, lay it all at His feet.  You will feel such peace, comfort, and joy knowing that He will work it all out for your good and benefit.  Blessings, my friend, blessings!