Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Kendall's Shorts

Kendall has become rather attached to a pair of camo shorts and would like to wear them day after day.  I mean, who can blame him?  Camo tends to go with everything, right?  So, the morning grind of having to pick out clothes is much less stressful when you just have to grab any old t-shirt and your faithful camo shorts.  What is the problem?  Well, the problem is that they get dirty and need to be washed.  Something, that Kendall believes should be able to happen within a 5-10 minute period.  Poor boy!  Life is so hard sometimes when you just can't have your camo shorts....  Oh, the tears that fell this morning and the wailing that could be heard!  (Sorry neighbors!)

It struck me, however, do I throw that kind of fit when things don't go as I had hoped or planned?  Oh the conviction...... Most of us can identify with the longing to just throw a full out tantrum fit when we don't get our way on something.  As adults, we have learned that fit-throwing behavior is NOT acceptable, but we still feel it on the inside.  We still react, but just not with blood-curling screams. 

What if the one you are upset with is God?  What if circumstances have come into your life that were not a part of your life plan?  How do you respond? Do you yield it all to His feet and praise Him in tears and brokenness, trusting that all will be for your good and growth?  Do you pull away from Him and try to manage it all with your own best efforts?  The difference between these two responses is in who we recognize as in control of the situation and in the depth of our trust of Him.  Linda Dillow states in her book, Calm My Anxious Heart, "When the what ifs come into our lives, we must ask ourselves if we're going to judge God by the circumstances we don't understand or judge the circumstances in light of the character of God."  The truth in that hits home.

I think the struggles we deal with when circumstances just don't go as we had planned can be traced back to several common factors....

Trust.  Do we truly trust the Father?  It is easy to trust when things all seem to be going smoothly, but when circumstances become hard or painful we start to question.  We question His love.  We question His plan.  We question His sovereignty.  It is so easy to pull away, but as you reflect back on your life, as He ever failed you?  If He loves you enough to give His only Son to die for your sins, don't you think He loves you enough to pull you through this circumstance?

Control.  We secretly long for control in most areas of our life.  Even though our resources are limited and our limitations abound, we long to control our life.  Our Father has limitless resources and power.  Nothing is beyond His control, but we are afraid to let go of the "control" we like the illusion of having.  Why?  We do not trust Him.

The Evil One.  Satan, the evil one, longs to plant lies in our head and get us distracted, disillusioned, or angry with our Father and Savior.  Our purpose from God will not be fulfilled if we are caught up in doubt and broken trust.  So, he does all that he can to whisper thoughts of doubt in our head.  Beth Moore states, "If we're going to win our battles, we need to wise up to some of Satan's schemes and prepare in advance for victory." (Praying God's Word Day by Day)  His influence is lost once we recognize his schemes and give them over to the Father.

What we need to remember is that contentment doesn't come from our circumstances.  Rather, it comes from a healthy growing relationship with the Father through our Savior.  When we have come to a point that we desperately love and trust Him, then we will not be shaken when we storms and waves of trials come.  A deep abiding love that realizes nothing- absolutely nothing- has more impact and value in my life than the relationship I have with the One who died so that I might have life.  My Jesus, my sweet Savior, my Redeemer- He love is so great that all else pales in comparison and in light of that deep love, I can trust.

Today, it is my prayer that despite the circumstances in your world, that you might find yourself trusting and yielding your control, longings and plans at His precious feet.  How great is love for us that we might be called His children- remember as you cling to the rock of your salvation, that He is clinging to you as well.  He loves you- desperately so- and you can trust Him!


Friday, July 26, 2013

Treading the Incline

Oh, in the heat of a Texas summer, I drug out the lawnmower from the garage yesterday.  Reagan hates it when I mow for him, but his days are so full.  When he arrives home, we all long for time together as a family and I prefer to do the mowing, if possible, while he is at work.  BUT, with the heat, it was all I could do to get the front yard completed.  I mowed. I trimmed. Then, I cleared all the leftover grass.  As I mowed, I noticed that our yard has a slight incline.  Now, most of you would never notice it if you looked at our house, but suddenly as I pushed the lawnmower back and forth, I became keenly aware of it.  There was one thing I noticed- when I was pushing up the slight incline, I had a hard time seeing the tracks of where I had been before.  When, however, I was going downhill, I could easily see the tracks from the previous path and had a much easier time seeing the path I needed to tread.

This thought hit me.... isn't that like our spiritual walk.  When we are traveling an uphill struggle, we often have a hard time seeing how God worked in our past and the path that we need to travel down.  However, when we are traveling on the downhill of a trial, we can easily see how God was at work and suddenly the path seems clearer.  Doesn't that ring true with you?  So many times I have battled something and struggled to see God in the midst of it only to look back with a new found clarity when God delivered me past it.  The thing is... when I was traveling uphill, I had to search for the path- my focus was stronger.  So, it is with life.  When going climbing through a trial, our focus on the Father becomes so much stronger as we search- sometimes desperately so, for Him in the midst of it.  I believe that is why He allows us to tread up mountains- so we can seek Him more honestly.  Plus, the view from the top will be incredible.  Even in my mowing, there was such a small feeling of accomplishment when I stood at the top of our small incline and was able to see the progress being made.  In life, those spiritual mountaintop experiences are life changing and often become "markers"  of our spiritual growth.

"Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory. We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love. When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good. But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s condemnation. For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son. So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God." (Romans 5:1-11 NLT)

Today, I am praying that God will bring me clarity in the trials I face each day and that He will bring peace as I climb the daily struggles that we all face.  It is my prayer that He, through the Holy Spirit, will graciously provide all that I need as climb, and praise and thanksgiving at the mountaintop.  That my path will be clearly seen and His praise ever on my lips. 

How about you today?  Are you in the midst of climbing a struggle?  Or, are you celebrating on the mountaintop?  No matter your position, His praise should be on your lips!  Even in the climb, His hand is the one pulling you forward- He is ever there.... and, always faithful.


Thursday, July 25, 2013

Out of "Shape"

This morning, Caleb brought this poor, pitiful slinky toy to me and asked if I could fix it.  I think since it's invention, mothers have had the same need laid in their lap.  He said, "It looks fixed and normal when I stretch it out, but when I stop stretching it out, it is messed up."  He, then, demonstrated this to me as proof.  Sure enough, when he pulled the coil out-stretched across his body, the coils looked correctly looped.  However, as soon as the coil was allowed to relax, it would kink up into a misshapen form.  I had to inform him that the coil would probably never look as it once did.  Then, the thought hit me.... in our society it is "normal" for people to stretch themselves out in the frenzy of day to day tasks and needs.  In the quiet stillness, when the frenzy has died down, only then do we see that all the stretching has changed us.  Suddenly, the constant motion and pushing of the day doesn't feel so "normal" and right after all.  We, as a society, try to put as much into a 24 hour period as possible and esteem those who can get mass amounts of work or action down within it.  Working hard is certainly noble and honorable, but we must be careful not to sacrifice other valuable things in the process.... things like time with the Father, resting in His presence, time with those we love, time spent doing things we love to do.... the list could go on and on.
I once overheard a group of incredible Christian ladies talking and realized that they were discussing the medications they were on to keep them calm from day to day with all that they juggle.  The consensus was that between work, family, and home commitments they needed the medications to handle it all.  Now, I do believe many people need these medications to manage the anxiety that they deal with due to certain conditions.  However, I had to wonder, are we pushing ourselves too hard?  If so many need medication daily just to manage all the burdens they carry on their plate,  what are we missing as a society?  Is it that we need to change our values?  Is it that we haven't learned to truly lay our burdens at His feet?  Are we too focused on having "things" and managing them that we sacrifice our peace?  Hard questions.... and I will not presume to have all the answers.
Here is what I do know... "Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you." (Philippians 4:6-9 NLT)
Peace will come when I pray about everything burdening my heart.  When I share my daily needs and struggles with Him and thank Him for all the ways I see Him working in my life.  By doing this, my eyes are opened to see Him more clearly at work in my life which will open the floodgates of praise in my soul.  Then, His peace.... HIS peace, will guard my heart and mind as I live this life in Christ.  So, I must fix my mind on Him as that is what is honorable, right, pure, lovely and admirable and think about the things worthy of praise.  Then, do all that He has taught me.... not just hear it and admire it- DO it and then the God of PEACE will be with me.  This all requires time with Him... deep, intimate time with Him.  To often we toss in a couple of scriptures and prayers into our day as we rush from one task to another, but is that really enough?  Would any relationship survive with that kind of communication?
Where are you today?  I pray that each of us will stop and do some evaluating of our personal walk with Him.  We all can and need to grow deeper in our spiritual intimacy with the Father.  Our peace (or lack of it) is but an indicator of the closeness we share with Him.  Let us lift each other up in prayer and seek Him for wisdom and guidance in how to draw closer to Him and let peace rule our hearts and minds.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Who is in Control?

This morning, my youngest two males were in the living room playing a game on one of our game systems and I noticed how intensely Kendall was focused on the task at hand.  He would not look away from the screen and clung tightly to the controller.  What is so strange about it all is that he wasn't playing the game.... his brother was.  At one point, the controller wasn't even plugged into the game, but he acted as though the entire game depended on him alone.  Crazy, huh?

The thing is, how often do I do the same thing in life.  So focused on my day or tasks at hand feeling like all of the world is on my shoulders.  Yet, it isn't.  My God is still in control of the day to day events that rock my world.  He does give me a freedom to choose my reactions and responses, but in the end He is still in control of the events.  He orders my steps and nothing that I face on any given day is a surprise to Him.  So, my faith is secure in knowing that He is in the midst of every circumstance, trial and challenge that comes my way.  Seeking after His will and guidance in the midst of them; then walking in obedience will bring about a victorious life.  That doesn't mean that every situation will end in victory, but a life lived genuinely seeking the Father is always victorious.

Today I read this, and while it is certainly focused on periods of trial, it's truth can be seen in any day to day situation.  "We say we want more faith, but really what we want is sight.  Sight says, 'I see that it's good for me, so God must have sent it.' but faith says, 'God sent it, so it must be good for me.'  God asks us to walk by faith, not by sight.  Faith is walking in the dark with God, holding His hand." (Calm My Anxious Heart, Linda Dillow)

That statement rings so true within my soul.  So many times I have cried out for more faith, but what my heart genuinely wanted was sight.  I also read the following statement from Jesus Calling by Sarah Young today as well.  "Thankfulness is built on a substructure of trust.  When thankful words stick in your throat, you need to check up on your foundation of trust.... I want you to learn the art of giving thanks in all circumstances."  When, in faith, we are able to walk the path of God's choosing for our life with joy and thanksgiving because we have a deep abiding trust in the character of God, a victorious life is ours.  We choose our response to the events He places in our life realizing that He holds it all in His hands.  What joy that knowledge brings- what peace! 

Whatever you are facing this day, trust in the character of the Father.  Walk, in faith, the path of His leading and allow peace, joy and thankfulness to be your response.  You are not alone and the hand leading and comforting you in the midst of any trial is that of the Father.   Live a victorious life!


Tuesday, July 23, 2013

A King's Birth

"It's a boy!"  All over the world, the words have been cried out in joy as a  babe... a future king came into this world yesterday.  London has in a sense been painted "blue" with all the excitement of this new royal heir.  Thousands have gathered outside the hospital and outside Buckingham palace to take pictures and share in the experience.  Joy... just shear joy.

But.... I can't help but ponder the birth of the King of Kings, the Son of the Most High God, and my personal Savior and Lord.... Jesus Christ.  That royal birth came and the world effectively slept through it.  Only some shepherds were in attendance who had been watching their flocks when the sky opened up in angelic praise over His birth.  Can you imagine the sight?  He was and is the King of Heaven and Earth- yet, He was placed in a feeding trough because His parents did not have a bed for Him. His birth did not occur in a palace of hospital, but in a stable filled with animals and hay.  No photographers.... no crowds.... humble beginnings.  His royalty veiled in frail human flesh, but His perfect Godly nature did not allow Him to sin.  He was perfectly human and divine all at once.  Our world had and will never again see a sight like Him.  He was and is God in flesh.  Perfection in our fallen world.  And, He is still King!

No matter what royal kings our world honors, He will always be the King of Kings!  He was, is and always will be!  He is my King, my Lord.  I serve Him through my life, my words and my dreams.  It is a constant battle to daily live out my allegiance to Him, but I long to bring Him joy, honor and praise.  It is my burden, to declare to the world, His presence and love for me.  To share Him with others and give Him praise and glory when I experience the work of His hands.  He is a faithful, loving and kind Savior who longs to rule in the hearts of all mankind.  Father, give me eyes to see Him, ears to hear His words to my soul, and lips to faithfully declare Him to this world.  His blood shed on the cross brought forth royalty within my veins.  I am a child of God because He gave all.

Today, I share in the excitement as the world waits to hear this new babe's name and catches its first glimpse of him.... but, I rejoice more in my Savior whose name is now and forevermore known as Jesus Christ.  I look for glimpses of Him in the quiet moments of my day and declare His works to this world.  He is my King and He is can be yours.....


Monday, July 22, 2013

Eyes to See

Fuzzy images of items that I can identify solely by memory often fill my perspective when I dare to remove my contact lenses or prescription glasses.  I often "know" what I am looking at simply due to the item's placement or general shape, but any clear definition or description of it is impossible.  I came to need glasses at an early age in my childhood and since then, I have lived with visual assistance in the form of contacts or glasses.  Many tasks would be impossible for me to do without the clear perspective that they give- such as driving a car or vacuuming the floor.  Typing?  Forget it!  The glasses not only give me a clear vision of my world, but become life changing in that I can live an independent life- through my dependence on them.

This is so reflective of my life in Christ.  Without an understanding of His character and love for me, I would be so lost in this world filled with tragedy, hardships, and sin.  All lines become blurred when His clarity is absent.  When suddenly, I can see things from His perspective, everything becomes clear.  His purpose, His plan and His character become so sharp and seen in my life as His vision becomes mine. 

This clarity comes daily- just as I must put on my glasses or contacts daily.  We must spend time each day in His word to gain His clarity and perspective for all the events in the midst of our day.  It is the choice we make each day to view our life through His lens.  It is seeing that my life does have value and purpose because He says it does.  It is giving to others- not because they deserve it- but because it honors Him that I do so.  It is sharing love and words of encouragement to others as a way of loving Him.  It is life- just daily life- lived out with a godly view and perspective.  Just like with my eyesight, many tasks would be impossible without His clarity.

I read this passage this morning from the book, Calm My Anxious Heart, by Linda Dillow.  "God, you know my feelings are going haywire; they scream and shout that this situation is terrible and that there is no hope.  God, I hope in You. I can't see what You are doing, but I trust that You're working this situation together for good.  Thank You that You have promised to us it to make me more like Christ.  This is what I want- it just doesn't feel good today.  Give me the strength to focus my eyes on You and not on what I can see."  I love that last sentence.... it is asking God for His perspective.

Today, ask God for His vision of your life; so, you may see all that He has planned for you today.  It will be a different viewpoint than you are used to seeing each day as His light will filter through you.  Never question whether your life has purpose- You just need a new perspective!  Through His lens, all the blurry unfocused areas of struggle in your life will become clearly focused and useful for His refinement of your faith.  Are you ready for eyes to see His will?


Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Band Aids

On Monday, I had the rare opportunity to spend some time with a close friend.  At one point, I hopped out of our family truck to fill it up with gas.  When I did so, I managed to scrape/cut my knee on a cd case that Reagan had left in the pocket of the door.  I tried to ignore it at first- acting all cool and such, but it began to bleed and draw some attention. I looked in my bag for a band aid- I mean all moms of boys should keep band-aids in their purse, right?  No luck.  Apparently, I had used the last one recently.... Plus, it would have been a bright colorful character type that would scream out like a siren to the world that an injury had occurred.  Ugh!  That wasn't my preference either.  Nothing seems to draw attention more than a brightly colored, character band aid on an adult.  Children, on the other hand, seem to love them.  The brighter, the bolder, the bigger.... the better!  We adults, however, tend to want to hide our injuries with as boring, small, and flesh colored bandage as we can find. 

This isn't too surprising- is it?  We do not like to draw attention to any injury we might have- especially emotional or spiritual struggles.  So, we try to cover all injuries or flaws with "normal" bandages that hide- and certainly not draw attention- to our hurts and needs.  Our world values sufficiency found within oneself and any weakness shown is frowned upon.  Why?  We all have injuries.  We all have weaknesses.  We all have flaws.  Why must we pretend that all is good and life is perfect if it isn't the truth?  Especially as Christians, we recognize our need for salvation through Christ, but we try to pretend that we have it all together otherwise.  Our salvation in Christ is but a start to our relationship with Him.  His healing and transformation of our lives is a daily occurrence that takes place in the quiet moments of prayer, study and listening to gentle whisper of His voice.  He loves us enough to redeem us at our worst and to envision us at our best.  He reshapes us into His perfect portrait of grace and promise.  When we hold such value in His heart, why can't we be honest with Him and with others in His family about the cracks within our "picture-perfect" world?  It is a risky business, isn't it?  We risk others viewing us differently.  We risk heartache.  We risk the Father stretching and growing us through the weakness.  We risk redemption of it. 

My friend, while we must show wisdom in who we entrust our "cracks" with, we are never meant to burden them alone.  First, the Father knows all your heartache and brokenness already. He has heard the cries of your heart and longs for you to entrust Him with it all.  All He is waiting on is you.  Second, He encourages us to live in unity with fellow believers; so, when challenges come, we do not have to bear those burdens alone.  We need the fellowship of others who will encourage us in our faith and help us walk through difficult journeys.  Our time will come when we help another in their walk and are a burden-bearer for them.  That is fellowship at its best. 

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30 NIV)

Are you bearing a burden alone right now?  You don't have to as the Father longs for you to place it at His feet.

Do you have a Christian brother or sister that can help you bear that burden? 

Why do you think we hide our weaknesses from others?

What could we gain from sharing our burdens?

My friend, I am praying for the faces I have never seen, but whose hearts have connected with my life experiences.  I long for God to use us to draw closer to each other and to Him.  Allow me to bear your burdens and be a prayer warrior for you.  Blessings.


Friday, July 12, 2013

Forgotten Toothbrush

Last week as we were camping, Carson realized that he had forgotten his toothbrush.  At the point that he made this realization, we were almost an hour from home and turning back was not an option.  Knowing that toothbrushes are not expensive and that we could easily pick one up at a local store, I knew this wasn't really a big deal....  But, I made it one.  Lately, Carson has been rather absentminded and while forgetting a toothbrush is hardly cause for a criminal case, I really gave him a hard time about it.  Perhaps it was because I had mentioned it to him several times as we packed earlier in the day.  Perhaps I felt like it was a reflection on me and I felt very "lacking" as we left for the trip.  Perhaps I even thought it was a good lesson for him that might thrust him into greater responsibility for his belongings.  Whatever the reason, I gave him a hard time about it.....

A few hours later, as the boys were in bed asleep and I was preparing for bed myself, I made a convicting discovery- I forgot my toothbrush.  Yep.  God has a way of teaching us deep lessons, huh?  I was so quick to correct him- to point out his shortcoming- and yet, I had the same fault within.  Isn't that a struggle we, as Christians, often have?  We can so easily see (and often point out) the flaws in others while never acknowledging our own.  It can be so subtle, but it happens all the time.  Why do we do such things?  Do we think that God will love us more if we have checked all the boxes in our personal, imaginary tally sheet?   Why must our self-esteems be bolstered at the cost of another person's value?  As a parent, what makes your heart most tender, a child who comes with a list of all their personal accomplishments or the child who comes in absolute brokenness over the shortcomings they see within? 

I felt so broken.  I had given my poor son such a hard time when I had made the same mistake.  Later, I found Carson and explained that I, too, had forgotten my toothbrush and I asked his forgiveness for having given him such a hard time.   We should never be critical or harsh with another person with the intent of bolstering our own personal self-value.  There are times when one may need to be confronted or corrected, but it is always to be done in the spirit of love and gentleness.  My actions toward Carson- while wanting him to learn the lesson- were NOT done in love and gentleness.  I am so thankful for the slice of "humble pie" that God served me while camping- it was the lesson I needed.

How about you- has God ever served you a slice of "humble pie" before?

Do you see some of those tendencies in yourself?

What changes can you make to ensure that you are not being critical of another just to bolster your own self-esteem?

Since our Father is capable of all, let us look to Him to grow and perfect our faith.  Once we fully grasp the measure of His love for us and the magnitude of the grace He has poured out for each of us, we will be far less likely to be critical of another.  Father, give us eyes to see the heart of another and do all within our abilities to bless and encourage those in our world.  Help us to love them as You do and long to build them up rather than tear them down.  Thank you for being willing to use our feeble hands and feet as Your very own.  We love you! 


Thursday, July 11, 2013


The fog has been so thick inside my world over the past several days.  A thick blanket of tasks, needs, duties and responsibilities had moved in and all that I could manage was to take one step at a time.  By twilight, each evening, I was left exhausted and drained.  I guess searching for some "light" in the midst of the fog had left me empty... physically, emotionally, and spiritually empty.

In the dawn of this new day, the Father awakened me to a new realization.  The "light" I had been searching for in my fog of hum-drum day to day tasks was not from the sun, but from the SON.  Only in His Son-shine would all the searching and longing end.  In His light, all tasks can be divine and rather than leaving me empty, leave me energized and renewed.  You see, I found myself so blinded by the tasks and needs blanketing my view each day, that I did not spend the time I needed each day with my Savior and Lord.  I might read a quick devotional and rush off to start clearing my "To Do" lists but I sacrificed a real, meaningful time with my life-source.  So, I ended each day feeling empty.... and as though it was all futile.

You see, in life, we are all looking for a purpose within the folds of a day- something that gives value to the ordinary and leaves us feeling needed.  Nothing on this planet can do that for us. Nothing.  Such a purpose has a divine origin and can only be fulfilled within holy lands.  We are His and He perfectly designed us to long for a purpose that only He can fulfill.  Our purpose, value, and full potential are found in the sacrificial lamb of Jesus Christ.  Through His redemption, all of life- even the most mundane tasks- can become beautiful moments of divine purpose.  He transforms them.

Today, I spent an extended time with Him.  In those moments, I began to experience newness and hopeful encouragement.  I am designed for the purpose of praising my Savior and His transforming influence in my life.  My current platform is through the teaching and development of our children as well as writing - in an open and honest fashion- about the life journey He has given me.  Moments of every day needs are no longer empty tasks, but opportunities for God to rain down His glory into our home.  Not every moment is going to being marked for eternity, but any given moment can be.  That blossoming potential gives each moment value as we become the extended hands and feet of the Father. 

Today, are you lost in a fog of mundane needs?  Do you need some Son-shine to burn off the fog and bring clarity in it all?  He can.  He is your purpose and value.  Never doubt that your purpose is submerged in His perfect holiness.  Seek Him and spend those critical moments in His holy presence each day!

"The Lord frustrates the purposes of the nations; he keeps them from carrying out their plans. But his plans endure forever; his purposes last eternally. Happy is the nation whose God is the Lord; happy are the people he has chosen for his own!" (Psalm 33:10-12 GNT)

Can you relate to my "fog" of the past few days?

How often do we overload on tasks that leave us empty instead of drawing on Christ for the wisdom, energy and strength we need each day?

Are you committed to a daily time with the Father?

Let us travel this journey together. Blessings!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Painful Sunburns

Oh, this Texas heat!  Last week, we had the opportunity to spend some time with family camping at a local lake.  We love camping- especially having boys as they just love biking, hiking, swimming, and cooking over a campfire.  This is all extreme fun for me, as well, unless it is nearing 100 degrees outside!  Oh, goodness..... the heat made it so intense that all activities seemed to take an extra effort.  The only logical thing to do when it is that hot is to swim.  So, each day, all the cousins spent at least a couple of hours in the lake cooking - um, cooling off.  Each time we would apply sunscreen at least once and sometimes twice depending on how long we were out in the water.  For my poor boys, with their ivory white skin, this is critical!  The crazy part is that as diligent as we were, each boy still came home with some sunburn.  Ouch!  Have you ever been sunburned?  The pain is so sharp and aches continually- it is not fun at all!  We have, in the days since, applied cool relief gel to their skin which helps. 

I thought about this over the last few days, and God spoke to my heart about emotional "sunburns" I have suffered.  Have you  ever had someone "burn" you emotionally?  Maybe a sharp word spoken or action that left you aching continually?  The memory of those events still causes a sharp pain within and you are left feeling so sensitive and vulnerable.  It is very similar to a physical sunburn, huh?  After a sunburn, if anyone touches you- even in a kind or caring fashion- extreme pain results.  Sometimes, after an emotional "burn" occurs, any kind of "touch" hurts and as time passes you are still sensitive and can easily anger from result of the pain within.  Through prayer, God's word, and the Holy Spirit a cooling, healing balm heals the ache of an emotional burn as well as time and tender care.

Have you been burned?  Do you find yourself lashing out at others due to being so sensitive?  Our Father longs to bring you healing and pain relief.  We were not meant to live in a state of sunburn.  Allow Him to apply His perfect healing balm to your ache and pain.  His perfect intimate knowledge of you allows Him to know exactly what is needed to soothe and heal.  Prevention is key when battling emotional sunburns....Daily we must apply a thick layer of sunscreen by studying His words, prayer and drawing closer to Him.  By doing so, we are able to walk through many difficult times without becoming burned. 

"As the sun went down that evening, people throughout the village brought sick family members to Jesus. No matter what their diseases were, the touch of his hand healed every one." (Luke 4:40 NLT)

No matter the pain, He is able to heal and restore.  Trust Him.  Today, do not live in the constant ache and discomfort of an emotional sunburn.  Turn to Him and allow His divine touch soothe and heal you!


Tuesday, July 2, 2013

LIT Mission Trip 2013

Last week, Jesus walked into 22 apartment complexes in the Oklahoma City and Norman, Oklahoma areas.  He held the children who were longing for affection.  Prayed with those struggling.  Wept with those in deep pain.  He drew them into a relationship with himself and fed their empty stomachs as well as empty souls.  Last week, He chose 150 fifth and sixth graders as well as adult leaders to be His hands and feet in those apartments.  Lives were changed, never to be the same again.

I had full intentions of writing an update each day of last week, but the craziness of the schedule left me little free time and almost no energy. There were also days when I struggled to find the words to express all that I witnessed as God moved and used children to draw children to a saving knowledge of Him.  Beautiful miracles happened almost daily and have left their "mark" on all involved.

Our kids served on two different teams in the Oklahoma City area.  The boys served on the Las Brisas team and the girls served on the Carriage Square team.  Both teams witnessed poor living conditions and children often staying at home all day alone- often watching younger siblings.  Our job was to lead the kids in a Kids Power Camp (similar to a backyard Bible club or VBS experience) through the 5 days we were at their complex.  This included a Bible story, prayer, songs, games, craft, and personal testimony.  All the LIT (Leaders in Training) students led the activities as well as setting up our equipment and tearing down for each day.  They also served the meal to the kids and parents attending each day.  Often times, we realized that these families were very hungry and often did not have much food at home.  The adult leaders, who gave oversight and aid to our LIT workers, would give our lunch to these kids as many of them would take it home for dinner that night or for a family member who did not come to the camp each day. 

It was heartbreaking to hold and cry with a child whose family was falling apart with a possible eviction soon coming.  I was brought to tears each time the kids would beg us to stay and not go home to Texas because, for the first time in a long time, they felt loved.  I sobbed deeply when one boy begged me to take him home with me...... because his parents were never home and would not miss him.  Pain so deep....Pain so raw and fresh that I cried countless tears.  It was our hope that we could point them to the one who could heal it all and would never leave them- our Savior.  I needed that reminder as well- our Savior would never leave those faces that I had come to love so deeply. 

On Friday, the teams all struggled knowing that it was the last day we would see these kids before returning home..... God reminded me that for those who had accepted Him, we would see them again in eternity.  The hope in that fact carried me through a very difficult day.  I would see those sweet precious faces again and we will worship our Savior together, for eternity!

Moments I will never forget:

One sweet boy, brought out an ice tray and started passing out ice to all of us as we were so hot.  It was all he had to offer..... but he gave it just the same.  It reminded me of the widow who gave all she had in the offering at the temple.

Cassie, a young girl watching her family fall apart, prayed for one of our girls who was not feeling well one day.  She reached out in love almost daily by bringing honey buns to add to our snack one day, helping serve the food, and helping us pack up our stuff.

One of our adult leaders had the privilege of translating for her daughter as she led two girls to Christ.  With tears streaming down her face, she expressed the joy of having that memory to carry all the days of her life.

I had the privilege of watching Caleb lead a Bible story one day.  He spoke with such passion and love that I was so humbled.  I know that God has a special calling for each of my boys, but seeing them being used to share the gospel, stirs such a tenderness within.

One of the hardest things for me, was watching Caleb struggle with his size last week.  Throughout the week, he was teased about his size and more than once, I found him in tears.  As a mother, it was so hard to know when to step in as his protector and when he had to struggle in order to find a way of coping with it all.  The sad part, is that the teasing did not come from those that he was ministering to in the apartments- they seemed to love him.  It came from the kids he was ministering with all week.  He asked me how they could love and accept all the different kids in the apartment complexes, but not accept him?  Hard questions.... and, I had little answers.  Some moments he would walk away and some moments he reacted in humanness to it all.  I struggled in parenting him through it.  One morning, as I was in tears myself with the whole situation, God spoke to my heart.....Julie, he was mine long before he was yours.  Do you trust me to take care of Him?  Today, we finally talked through it all and he is making great strides in forgiving those who hurt him so deeply.  (Me too.)

All in all, it was a week that I will never forget.  It is my hope that all three of my sons would have the same opportunity to realize that they can minister, serve and be the hands and feet of Christ even at such a young age.  As a parent, it was so incredible to think that God used kids to draw kids to a saving knowledge of Him.  We had over 300 plus ministered to last week and 104 decisions.  Countless seeds of faith were planted and the nearly 200 people who served will never be the same.

Please keep praying for all those we ministered to last week and for Caleb- for healing.  Pray for Rancho Village Baptist Church- where we stayed- as they follow up with those who made decisions in our area.  Thank you for your prayers last week- God is so faithful!!!