Thursday, March 31, 2011
"Here we go." I thought to myself.
I took a deep breath as I braced myself for the worst. It had been a long day, and an ugly confrontation with my daughter in front of a captive audience was not on my "to do" list. I felt the tension building in every part of my body as I imagined the scene about to unfold. Carefully, I considered my parenting options.
Door number 1: A warning that would no doubt be dismissed.
Door number 2: Consequences...ugh.
Where was door number 3?
Then I heard God speak sweetly, "Be gentle. Try mercy."
Mercy. It could work. So, I took a deep breath and sent up a silent prayer. Then, I softly said Sofie's name and beckoned her to come near. At first, she refused and shook her head in displeasure at the notion of relenting to me.
So, I tried again. "Come here sweety," I said softly. Slowly, Sofie ambled over and stood in front of me. Jaw set. Eyes fixed on me. Honestly, she was ready for a fight. Then, I did something that took her by surprise.
There was no lecture about consequences for bad choices.
Nor was there a reminder of expectations or manners in public.
Instead, I offered her mercy and whispered, "I know you are hungry and tired. It's been a busy afternoon. We will eat soon. I love you." Then, I took her in my arms and held her close. In that moment, I felt her body relax as she fell into my hug. With that, Sofie's face softened along with her attitude.
Later that evening, as I tucked her into bed, my sweet daughter said, "Mommy. I am sorry I didn't come to you right away. You know, when you asked me to come over to you today. I should have listened. I'm sorry." In the end, I got the result I wanted. Peace had been maintained. Sofie had complied with my wishes. But more than that, mercy had trumped rebellion.
Grateful for the peaceful end to our day, I closed the bedroom door behind me and lifted my heart to the LORD. Exhausted, I fell onto the couch as I considered my daughter's change of heart from earlier. How differently the scene might have been if I had chosen another way! In His wisdom, God had led me to offer my little girl mercy. While there is a time and place for consequences, in this case, mercy was enough. After all, there are things more critical than Sofie being a well-behaved little girl.
In the big picture, I want her to become the God fearing woman she was created to be when God wove her together before she was born. I am reminded that moments like this mold and shape sweet Sofie's heart towards her Heavenly Father. For we are told "blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy." (Matthew 5:7 NIV)
For a moment, I thought about my own heart and the merciful ways God has worked in my life. Second chances. Divine interventions. Truly, I have seen "the LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love." (Psalm 103:8 NIV)If I want my little girl to know mercy, I must first show her what it means to be merciful.
As the heart of our home, it is my job to show my children the very heart of God. Truly, I must not be short-sighted and squander these subtle opportunities where God is investing in my daughter's life. At times, it's best to avoid the fight, scrap the consequences, and choose mercy.
Your mercy amazes me. How compassionate you are towards your children. Help us to be a reflection of your mercy to our children. Let us look to you for wisdom to pick our moments carefully and reflect your heart in their lives.
Reflection: How is God challenging you to show His mercy today?
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
You are beautiful.
Let me say that again...YOU are beautiful.
Not because of what the world says.
Not due to your waist measurements. Your hair color. Or a number on a scale.
Not because of your age. The number of wrinkles visible on your sweet face. Nor the accessories that you carry.
No. You are beautiful.
The One who created you declares it so!
In fact, "The king is enthralled by your beauty…"
God is captivated by the elderly woman, whose face is filled with lines and a knowing expression of peace and wisdom. He sees her radiance and calls her beautiful.
God is enamoured by the young lady, inspired and passionate, coming into her womanhood and becoming all that He intended. He guides her steps, sees her potential,and He calls her beautiful.
God is dazzled by that mother, struggling to raise her child up for Him. Caught in the culture war that says wrong is right and right is wrong. He hears her prayers, sees her courage and calls her beautiful.
And God delights in that little girl experimenting with her femininity as she cares for baby dolls, holds imaginary tea parties, and plays dress-up with her mother's high heals and old make-up. He sees her wondrous innocence and calls her beautiful.
You are beautiful, dear one. At every age. In every season of life. God calls you beautiful. Not in spite of your quirky imperfections, but because of them.
Celebrate your unique beauty.
For the Lord longs to sweep you off your feet in a beautiful way today.
Monday, March 28, 2011
"This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins"-1 John 4:10
I am loved.
It is a love like no other I have ever known.
There is no explanation for who I am to Him.
Still, He calls me beloved and sent His Son to die for me.
And when I ponder His love for me...What He gave for me,
How He redeemed my life,
restored my soul,
set my feet upon a path that would bring Him glory.
I know, beyond all doubt...
I am loved.
Deeply loved am I.
How blessed we are to be called your children and how amazed we are by your love. Thank you for sending us Jesus, who died on the Cross for the sins of man, making a way for us to be reconciled to you through sacrificial love. It is a love that endures the troubles we endure in this world, and it is a love that sets us free to do Your will. How great it is to be loved by You, O God.
Reflection: How has God revealed His love for you personally?
Friday, March 25, 2011
Too many numbers have been swirling in my mind lately.
Numbers regarding birthdays, hours in a day, and bills to pay. Numbers that make my brain hurt and my heart fret. Numbers that remind me how small I am and fill me with doubt.
So I stop and breathe deep step away from the numbers for awhile, as I realign my heart with God's. He sees the numbers too. But He is not hindered by them. For the LORD knows I am small. He uses me anyway so that He can be that much BIGGER! The simple truth is, life comes down to where I place my trust. And as a woman of faith I am taught my strength does not come in numbers, but in the power of the LORD.
Today, and everyday, I must understand that “Some trust in chariots and some in horses but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.” (Psalm 20:7) (NIV)
And when I take my eyes off the numbers and place them back on my Holy God, sitting on his throne, opening His heart and hands to me, I offer my praise for He is the One.
The One who knows my name.
The One who sees my troubles.
The One who sets my course.
The One who picked me up, dusted me off, and declared me His child by the blood of Christ.
He is the One...
And that is the only number that truly matters.
All the gold and all the riches belong to you. Help us to trust in Your provision. Show us the path you would have us take that leads to Your glory. We praise you for you are the One who brings all things together for Your good and perfect will.
Reflection: What numbers are you thinking about today?
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
"I write your address in pencil because your family is always on the move," my loved one said pointedly. The words stung for a moment, even though I knew they were true. In the course of our marriage, Marty and I have packed up and moved many times. Sometimes the moves were exciting, others painful. Always, moving required faith and a lot of work. I am tired of moving and I sometimes feel as though we are tent dwellers.
Most of the time, I rest assured in the fact that my future rests with God. Other days, however, I confess my heart grows heavy as I ponder the uncertainties before me. On days like today, when my heart desperately yearn for a permanent home, I lay myself humbly before God. I ask for strength. I beg for assurance. And in His love, I am gently reminded that my home lies with Him. I am "looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God." (Hebrews 11:10 NIV)
But today, I wait in my tent. Somewhere between the reality of what has been and the dream of what tomorrow shall bring is where you will find me camped. Only God knows when or if I shall be instructed to pull up stakes. As I wait on His plans for our family to unfold, my eyes are fixed on my Heavenly Father. He has a history of taking care of tent dwellers like me. Looking through my Bible, I find that I am in good company.
Like Abraham, one who picked up his tent and followed God to a new land, I hope to be found faithful as I wait for God's direction and provision. And though I am not exactly comfortable in my circumstances, I am slowly learning to place my security in God alone. For "unless the LORD builds the house, the builder labors in vain." (Psalm 127:1 NIV)
You are the One true God. Your plans for us are always good. At times, we cling too tightly to the temporary things of this world. Help us to submit every area of our lives to you. See in us those places where we might be hanging on too tightly, and help us to trust in You alone.
Reflection: How are you a tent dweller?
When I was eight years old, I had a dream that our house was on fire. With flames blazing out of control, I watched helplessly as my home burned to the ground. Filled with fear, I awoke startled and confused. Through prayer, I regained my peace at God's presence comforted me.
Ironically, only weeks later, my family’s home burned to the ground. Furniture. Clothing. Toys. Photographs. Everything was gone. All that remained was a smoldering pile of ash. My family had no choice but to start over. Looking back, I now see that the fire was actually a new beginning. For in time, God made beauty from ashes.
It was the first of many fires in my life. Career. Finances. Relationships. I have watched helplessly as each have burned in the fires of refinement in different seasons. At times, all seemed lost. Yet, without fail, God has made something beautiful from the ashes left behind. In every loss, I see God's unfailing love covering me like a warm blanket on a cold winter's night.
When the flames of refinement burn wildly out of control, I recall the way God uses fire for His glory. We are told, “See, I have refined you, though not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.” (Isaiah 48:10 NIV) As we walk in the fire, God is at work, strengthening and preparing us for His purpose. Be assured, “These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.” (1 Peter 1:7 NIV) Eventually, the flames will die. The smoke will clear. The ash will cool. Yet, beauty remains.
Periodically, life heats up for all of God's children. In the smoldering fires of loss, God creates something new and beautiful in our lives. Though the fire seemingly bring destruction, we must always remember that all is not lost. For a time is coming when God will “bestow on a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.” (Isaiah 61:3 NIV) Without fail, God trades beauty for ashes.
Dear Heavenly Father,
Loss is so painful. As our hearts break, help us be mindful of your presence. Draw us near and bring comfort as only you can, Lord. And let us not forget that you shall restore all that has been lost and trade beauty for ashes.
Reflection: How is God refining you today and how may I pray for you?
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
"This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it." Psalm 118:24
I am not a big fan of Daylight Savings Time. It's probably because I am not exactly what you would call "a morning person". Somehow, with the time change, morning seems earlier. Waking up to a dark house and stumbling over to the coffee pot makes me long for a bit more time underneath my covers. At least enough time for the sun to catch up with my day.
Finally, the coffee is done brewing and I sit down to take a few moments before my kids wake up to begin their morning rituals. The sky is still dark, but the birds are singing. The house is still. And it is like God is whispering, "These are the days. Rejoice. Don't miss it!"
So I think it over and I understand. These ARE the days...
When my daughters bring me "flowers" that resemble weeds, but are presented with great joy and love.
When my son is still shorter than me and will allow me to hug him in front of his friends.
When my husband kisses me on the cheek gently before he leaves for his job, even earlier than the birds are willing to awaken.
These are the days...
Today, I get to go out and be the hands and feet of Jesus. Speak words of affirmation and encouragement. Show my family how lucky they make me feel. Thank God for His many blessings.
Now, my kids are stirring and my quiet house is filled with the sounds of them getting dressed and packing their lunches for school. I rejoice for our day together has begun. And I remember to embrace this moment.
For these are the days...
Of my daughter singing to Jesus while she ties her shoes.
Of my son assisting his sister with a glass of milk, while I get a glimpse of the man he will one day become.
Of kisses good-bye and big, bright smiles as my girls ride off to school on their scooters.
Of stolen moments with my teenage man-child, as he shares his thoughts and it is just him and me.
Of phone calls from my busy husband, who calls just to hear my voice.
These are the days. So wake up slowly if you must. Grab some coffee and take a moment to listen to the birds. But then rejoice, for you will never get today back again. And even when you are walking in darkness, there are reasons to embrace the beautiful gift of today.
Dear Heavenly Father,
Thank you for today. For all that today will bring. Opportunities to serve you and know you more. Moments of sweetness and joy, even in the midst of the unexpected. Sometimes, we squander our days with worry, bitterness, or dread. Let it not be so. Help us to embrace the promise of today with a heart of praise and gratitude.
Reflection: What are the gifts you have in your life today?
Sunday, March 20, 2011
Our daughter, Lily, has a dream of one day owning her own cake shop. Lately, she has discovered cookbooks and she loves reading recipes for different sweet treats. Yesterday afternoon, as we walked through a home improvement store searching for yard supplies, Lily found a Better Homes and Gardens magazine filled exclusively with cupcake recipes. With a longing gaze, she begged, "Please, please, please Mommy. Can I have this recipe book?" How could I turn her down? She skipped out of the store and spent a great part of the rest of the afternoon looking at pictures and reading about beautiful cupcake creations.
Today, after church, she and I made lemondrop cupcakes from her new magazine. Topped with crushed Lemonhead candies and sugar coated lemon slices, they are just the right amount of sweet in a moist lemon flavored cake. And since the cupcakes were made totally from scratch, with lots of love, they are as tasty as they are beautiful.
Our words are suppose to be sweet like Lily's cupcakes. The Bible tells us "gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones". (Proverbs 16:24 NIV) It's a challenge for us all as we encourage our spouses, inspire our children, and engage the world around us. Today, let your words be sweet. Considerate. Loving. Tender. Thoughtful.
For in doing so, you make the world a sweeter place. One gentle conversation at a time.
Reflection: How can your words be a sweet treat today?
Friday, March 18, 2011
After all, "It is the LORD my God you must follow, and him you must revere. Keep his commands and obey him; serve him and hold fast to him." (Deuteronomy 13:4)
It's been one of those days when I blink and it is over. Finally, I sit. Alone. With nothing but my thoughts. The tape is playing again...
I remember my missteps.
Ponder my failures.
Relive regrets and missed opportunities.
And I let out a sigh feeling utterly defeated.
Then, I hear it...a still, small voice that says, "Let it go for you are more."
I listen harder to hear it again and my heart begins to remember...
I am more than my missteps.
I am more than my failures.
I am God's beloved.
I am one He loved so much that
He gave Christ's life to redeem me
from my sin...
From my missteps.
From my failures.
From my regrets and missed opportunities.
So I must let them go, so that I can grasp all that God wants to give me.
All are mine for the taking.
When I just let go...
and let God be enough in my life.
He won't let me go.
I give it all to you. My strife. My worry. My disappointement. My failure. My sin. I am letting it go to open my hand to all that you want for me. Take it from me today, so that I might be ready to grasp the new opportunities you have placed before me. I praise you, LORD, that you never let me go.
Reflection: What are you holding tightly that must be released today?
Monday, March 14, 2011
Memory Verse: "For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light" (Ephesians 5:8 NIV)
I still have a photograph of that exciting day, a "top ten" moment of innocence in my childhood. I was six years old. It was my birthday. And I was overjoyed. I had my very own "Lite Brite" and I was immediately mesmerized by my new toy. I spent hours poking the pegs patiently through the holes in the backdrop to reveal the beautiful designs aglow in the darkness.
As Christians, we are to shine in the same manner. We reside in a dark world affected daily by the curse of sin. And yet, through the blood of Christ, we are not of this world. In fact we are called "children of light." (Ephesians 5:8 NIV) In effect, Christians should appear different from the world we see around us. Our words should sound different from those we hear on the street. Our actions should demonstrate we are different from the chaos we witness on the evening news. We are called to be set apart for "we do not belong to the night or to the darkness." (1 Thessalonians 5:6 NIV)
If we desire to truly represent our Savior in this dark and fallen world we must take heart to make ourselves look and sound like our risen Lord. For some of us, that may challenge us to reject what seems "good" in this world. It will affect the way we speak, act, and think. Certainly, we will find ourselves challenged to stand firm in the things of God contrary to this world. Things that appear good in the eyes of men but foolish from the perspective of our sovereign God. We will continue to be confronted daily by the disease of sin that surrounds us. And as Christ's ambassadors we must draw near to God so we can be strengthened and committed in these dark days. Surely, no part of our lives can be left unclaimed by God as we "speak as men approved by God and entrusted with the gospel, not trying to please men, but God." (1 Thessalonians 2:4 NIV)
As we read the headlines and listen to the evening news, it is undeniable that the world is growing darker. Clearly, God is making His appeal to a world gripped in sin as "He reveals the deep things of darkness and brings deep shadows into the light." (Job 12:22 NIV) God's children must resolve to "warn the idle, help the weak, and encourage the timid, and be patient with everyone." (1 Thessalonians 5:15 NIV) Let us never forget who we are in Christ as we recall "God saw that the light was good, and He separated the light from the darkness." (Genesis 1:4 NIV)
We are God's precious church, His adopted children, heirs in Christ and holy ambassadors of truth. Today, let us resolve to be found bold, courageous, and faithful as we stand for the light of truth found in God's word. Let us not be shaken as we remain fully committed to the message of the gospel and the salvation found in Christ alone. We must, in these days filled with groaning and despair, be the light shining through the darkness.
Dear Heavenly Father,
We are in awe of your greatness, for you are good all the time. We take in your acts of mercy toward us with gratitude and humility as we remember Christ's sacrifice on the cross. We confess that we struggle to walk obediently in this fallen world. Too often we seek the adoration of man, rather than the approval of you LORD. Let it not be so. Strengthen your people in these dark days and let us be the light you have called us to be. Grant us your wisdom and discernment as we seek your path. Let us shine for you so we might point the lost to your limitless love.
Reflection: How difficult is it for one living in darkness to stand in your light?
Friday, March 11, 2011
His time is not my time. It's not a fact that I like to submit to on most days, but nevertheless, it is a truth I am learning to accept. Reluctantly.
Most days, in stubborn independence, I try to conquer my challenges in my own strength. For a time. Only to fail. In my striving, I find myself discouraged and bewildered. It is then that I must stop and remember that God is never early or late. And, this part bothers me most of all, I simply do not know His timing.
The truth is, I have had more than one temper tantrum with God about the timing of His plans. Sometimes He seems late. Other times, I feel as though He is early. But the truth is His timing is perfect. So, I surrender to several truths and I cling to them in my seasons of waiting.
I cannot control God, for He alone is sovereign.
I cannot put Him in a box, for He is not limited by my human perspective.
I cannot put limits on His power, for His greatness is beyond my ability to imagine.
All I can do is give my circumstances to Him and believe that He "will make everything beautiful in its time. (Ecclesiastes 3:11) It's a promise that endures even when the events around us seem anything but beautiful.
In my doubts.
And despite my fears.
God is at work, though my eyes do not always see Him moving. Instead,I am called to trust. Believe. Endure. And hope. After all, there is only room for one God in my life, and it is not me.
I consider the road ahead. Unknown twists and turns are before me. There will be days of joy and days of pain. Days of triumph, but also devastation. And in both, I am reminded, that I remain in the center of God's will. Rather than doubt His goodness, I must know my LORD so well that I am not shaken during seasons of shaping. Of molding. Of waiting.
Truly, there is much I shall never understand as he weaves my life into His beautiful plan. And it IS beautiful. It shall all beautiful. In His time.
You are ruler of all. Lord of Lords. All-knowing. All-powerful. You are God. Help us to accept your timing and to trust you in all things. When you appear late, help us to remember that we only see part of your picture. In those moments, Father, draw us nearer to your heart and closer to your presence, so that we might lean on you while we wait. We praise you for you are making all things beautiful in your perfect timing.
Reflection: What are you waiting for? Do you trust God's timing?
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
It's official...I have a man-child.
My son, Jack, turned 13 this week. While I celebrate his special day with joy, I confess this year has left me a little reflective and a bit melancholy. Maybe it is because I see him eating his weight in food each day. Perhaps it's because I notice that before long, I will have to look up to kiss him on the cheek. It might even be because he is starting to have insights and opinions that remind me he isn't a little boy anymore. Sadly, we have moved on from Legos and Lincoln Logs. He no longer climbs into my lap to read a book. He is no longer a little boy.
And today, as I marvel at the fact that my baby is now a teenager, I am more aware than ever than he is not mine. He's God's. And one day, not long from now, Jack will be a man. My child will be gone. And this birthday, more than any before, has that reality at the forefront of my mind.Thinking about it hurts my heart just a little, for I cannot imagine not seeing his smile every day. Not taking in his laugh. Not hearing his silly jokes. Not listening about his day. It's a reality I don't want to face. Yet I know, indeed, the day will come. Faster than I would like. And as a mother, I want to hold tight, though I know, slowly, I must start letting him go.
When I look at my son, I am filled with pride that makes my heart burst. What a heart lives in this boy. What love runs through his veins. What a man he shall be! Handsome, strong and dependable like his Daddy. Passionate and creative like his Mama. God has woven him together in such a complex and unique way, all for a wonderful purpose. In this place. At this time. For God's glory.
I remember that day when my life changed forever and I became Jack's mother. My first born, he was three weeks early, but strong and healthy. Since Jack was born shortly before 3 o'clock in the morning, I had been up most of the night in labor. Naturally, his Daddy and I greeted him, held him close, gazed into his beautiful eyes, praised God for his perfect fingers and toes, and eventually went back to sleep for a bit of rest. When the nurses brought him to me for his first feeding, I woke up as a brand new Mom. It was then that it hit me...I am raising a man.
Clueless and inexperienced, I remember feeling so inadequate for the task in front of me. What did I know of Lego's, earthworms, rocks, scooters, or soccer practice? Jack has taught me so much in my walk through motherhood. What a beautiful privilege it is to be this boy's mom. Finally, as we step out of childhood, I feel like I have this "mom" thing mastered. But now, he stands with one foot in childhood and the other in manhood. And once more, I feel intimidated by the road ahead.
That feeling of insecurity is back from long ago, for what do I know of being a man? I have not experienced the pressures of being a middle school boy, trying to stand his ground, live out his faith, and find his purpose all while avoiding bullies and discovering girls. Jack's world is bizarre to me in so many ways. Still, I know my son as only a mother can. I know his heart. I know his passions. I know the look on his face that says he needs some time and space and I know when he needs me to take him in my arms and hold tight. When I look at my son, and ponder all that he was, all that he is, and all that he will become, my heart lets out a shout of praise, for "sons are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from him." (Psalm 127:3)
So, I look with new eyes on my man-child. How he makes my heart smile with his wonderful new ways. I have discovered the days of a teenage boy follow a pretty steady routine involving drinks straight out of the milk carton, dirty clothes on the floor, text messages about nothing at all, and video games. Lots and lots of video games. His friends are becoming a bigger and more significant part of his life. Some days, with his busy schedule, I start to miss him already. But then he walks through the door, with that sweet smile that makes my heart dance and says, "Hi Mom!" In that moment, all is well. For my son is home.
Looking ahead at all that is to come, I take a moment to ponder where we have been. I see where we are going. And I consider the promise of today with my son. Manhood beckons us, and so much of this new journey is unfamiliar as I carefully attempt to hold on and let go at the same time. Truly, the road ahead of us is going to be filled with ups and downs as Jack finds his way. But we get to walk it together with our God, and I see the man our Heavenly Father is creating in my J-Man. What a privilege it is to be a witness to God's great work in my son. Wonderful days of discovery await and today is only the beginning.
Thirteen years ago, God changed my life with a 6 pound 14 ounce amazing baby boy. And now, as he stands nearly as tall as me, Jack is my man-child. Faithful. Idealistic. Protective. Innocent, yet wise beyond his years. We have much to experience in the years ahead. There will be challenges, victories and defeats as he finds his place in God's kingdom.
And through it all, even into manhood, I get to be his Mom.
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— (John 1:12)
"Mommy, do you know you are a child of God?" my precious daughter Sofie sweetly asked as we finished our errands late yesterday afternoon. "Yes, sweetheart. I remember." I answered her. But the sad truth is...I had forgotten.
Somewhere, in the hectic pace of the day, I had lost my way. In the moments of discouragement and stress, I had temporarily forgotten who I am to the One that matters most in my life. For although I KNEW I belong to God, I had forgotten how it FEELS to be His.
With a heavy heart, distracted by the many things out of my control in this life, I went on with the rest of my day. And when I went to bed last night, I felt depleted. Dicouraged. Defeated.
This morning, I found myself back in my van as I drove to my part-time tutoring job. Then I heard a song that seemed to wake up my sleeping heart, as I began to remember who I am...In Him.
The words to the song say...
"You are a child of Mine,
Born of My own design,
And you bear the heart of life.
No matter where you go,
Oh, you will always know,
You have been made free in Christ.
You are a child of Mine."
(You Are A Child Of Mine by Mark Shultz)
No doubt today has had its own set of missteps, setbacks,
and disappointments. But, today I remember...
I am His.
God wove me together for His purpose.
He placed me in this time and the place for His glory.
He will not fail and He is never late.
He sees me. All of me. The good and bad. What is and what is yet to be.
He calls me beloved daughter.
My Heavenly Father is with me. Yesterday. Today. Tomorrow.
All the days of my life...
He is for me.
Nothing that happens to me today can change that.
For I am His child.
"This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”-Joshua 1:9
I dare you.
To read God's promises.
To cling to His truth.
To live out your faith.
To walk in His ways.
To choose grace.
I dare you.
To go boldly with Him to places where He isn't invited.
To say the tough things, with love, so that others will better know Him.
To stand firm and be unswayed by shallow arguments presented
in this world dying to sin, so that He will be made famous.
I dare you.
To love God above all else.
To love others as you love yourself.
And to submit your life to the One
who wove you together.
It will take courage.
But you will not be alone.
For we are assured that when we follow Him,
the LORD goes with us.
So go on.
I dare you.
Monday, March 7, 2011
Last night my daughters were bickering incessantly with one another about everything under the sun. Exasperated by their constant arguing, I firmly summoned them for a little "come to Jesus" meeting. Trudging down the stairs, my older daughter, Lily, inquisitively asked, "Are we in trouble Mommy?" Hoping to avoid the inevitable, my little girl wisely knew trouble when she saw it.
Trouble. It's a powerful word, able to take us from joy to sorrow in a single bound. Packed with destructive power, trouble makes life messy and uncertain. Jesus said we would find trouble. He didn't say we might see trouble...Jesus said we WILL have trouble. Most definitely, life will occassionally go a little sideways. We can count on it! Contrary to the false teachings of some, salvation through Christ does not give Christians a "free pass" from the trials of dwelling in a fallen world.
Prosperity gospel offers a false sense of security rooted in empty promises. However the Bible shows us another picture of faith. Paul suffered rejection and abuse. Joseph knew slavery and imprisonment. John, the beloved disciple, banished into exile, felt isolation. And John the Baptist, the forebearer to Christ, was beheaded. The early church of yesterday, and the martyrs of today experienced violent persecution and suffering. In a word...they all knew trouble. Nothing has changed. Until Christ's triumphant return, Christians live in a world chained in bondage to sin. Indeed, we will suffer heartbreak. We will wrestle with injustice. We will experience burning anger and crippling disappointment. Trouble will find us. It's a guarantee for all who dwell on Earth. Even God's children.
But there is more. For Christ also said, "take heart, for I have overcome the world." ( John 16:33 NIV)) Our Savior defeated sin and rescued us from death by His sacrifice on the cross at Calvary. Daily, He intercedes on our behalf while our Heavenly Father "works for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose." (Romans 8:28 NIV) The trials of this life are only temporary. We will live to see our days restored if we fix our eyes on Christ.
Jesus encouraged, "blessed is he who does not fall away on account of me." (Luke 7:23NIV) When trouble strikes, we are often knocked off balance. Ill prepared and caught by surprise, we sometimes fall painfully as we weep in distress. Utterly vulnarabe, we must lift our eyes to the One who saves. Never forget we have a cunning enemy, who takes advantage of our troubles. Satan, hateful and heartless is lurking nearest to God's children in our weakness. Logically, it is in trouble that Satan strikes most effectively, attempting to pull us away from God, while planting destructive lies in our wounded hearts. Clearly, Satan sees trouble as a glorious opportunity for our destruction. We mustn't allow it to be so!
In trouble, we must boldly resolve to daily place our hope in Christ alone. In turn, our Savior promises redemption, restoration and renewal in His perfect timing. After all, "our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all." (2 Corinthians 4:7 NIV) Take notice of the words light and momentary. Jesus offers to lovingly carry our burden if we give our troubles to Him. Further, these troubling days are momentary. In time, trouble shall pass and we will again see victory through the conqueoring power of Christ. Troubles are but a moment, but our hope in Christ is eternal. Truly, our Savior sees our lives from a Heavenly perspective and promises "everyone born of God overcomes the world." (1 John 5:4 NIV). Never forget, our God sees our troubles.
Dear Heavenly Father,
You are the Sovereign ruler of all. Nothing happens in our life without your consent. No harm touches us without first passing through you. And while we sometimes experience pain and suffering, You use all of our troubles to bring us into your purpose. Help us to see you at work when we face trouble. Give us eyes of faith as we look to you in our pain. Don't let us fall away, LORD, but instead, help us to draw near to you in our struggles as we trust in your goodness and wait for your restoration. The troubles of today shall pass away, but you, LORD, are unshakeable.
Reflection: What troubles do you need to surrender to the LORD?
Sunday, March 6, 2011
Lately, life has been busy. Hectic. Crazy in fact.
Trying to be in too many places all at the same time
leaves me tired. Cranky. In need of rest.
How dependent I am on those stolen moments with Christ.
For He is my rock.
He is my refuge.
He leads me to peace and calls me to be still.
He is my double portion of strength as I march
through the demands of daily life as a wife and mother.
How grateful I am for His patience...
For, "He tends His flock like a shepherd: He
gathers the lambs in His arms and carries
them close to His heart; He gently leads
those that have young." ( Isaiah 40:11*NIV )
He leads gently.
There is no need to strive.
He will carry me through today.
There is rest in His arms as I give Him
my burdens to carry.
And Christ will carry you as well...
If you allow Him to be your shepherd.
Saturday, March 5, 2011
Here is my first article as a contributing writer for Open to Hope. May your day be filled with hope.
Open to Hope Foundation > Hope Eternal: Miscarriage Doesn’t End Mother-Daughter Bond
Open to Hope Foundation > Hope Eternal: Miscarriage Doesn’t End Mother-Daughter Bond
Friday, March 4, 2011
In my office, my favorite room in our home, where I spend precious moments each day writing and studying God's word, I have a plaque on the wall which reads..."Home is where your story begins..."
It's a saying which I connect to personally as a writer. For I believe we all have a story. Today I am pondering my own story. Specifically, I am giving special thought to my beginning. I was challenged on another blog to write about the importance of family. Not just the beautiful nuclear family with whom I share my days as a wife and mother. But my family of origin. And as I reflect on the past 41 years of being me, I understand that I wouldn't be who I am today if it wasn't for who my family was yesterday.
I am not one of those people blessed with a long spiritual legacy. Instead, God has used difficult challenges in my family history as His way of shaping and molding my heart for Him.
My parents married young and started their family immediately. In fact, at the age of 17, my mom and dad learned they were expecting their first born child...ME. As a result, the adults in their life insisted, because of cultural norms at the time, that marriage was the next logical step. So, dutifully, my parents walked down the aisle. I have a picture of them on that day which I often study with a heart of wondering. They look scared stiff and young standing in front of the chapel where they had just uttered "I Do". And when I gaze at the expressions looking back at me I wonder...
"Is this what they really wanted?"
"Did they understand the road ahead?"
"Was it a day of joy or was it a day of dread?"
I have no idea how my parents really felt about the beginning of their new life together. But, I know how the story unfolds, for as a child I was a spectator to their struggles. An observer of their pain. And a product of a failed marriage that brought both of my parents heartache.
In the beginning, they tried to make things work. But somewhere in all the pressure and responsibility of being grown-ups before their time, things started to unravel. Seven years into their marriage, my parents ended their relationship and our family dissolved like sugar heating on a hot stove.
After the divorce, my biological father was emotionally absent and physically intimidating. Meanwhile, my mother worked hard to put food on the table and recover from the emotional scars of enduring an abusive marriage. And all the while, I watched and learned from them both.
Eventually, my mother remarried and my dad disappeared. And for a time, I struggled with my own identity as I felt abandoned and fatherless. In time, I was able to form a relationship with my stepfather and move on with my life. But the trauma of being "unwanted" by my dad stayed with me for many years. I never felt like I was enough. And while my mother poured all of her love and determination into me, her young daughter, I couldn't help shake the feeling that I was my father's mistake. The reason his life had turned out so poorly. The unwanted consequence of his sin.
After all, he was gone. I was unlovable. Fatherless.
Years have passed since those days of insecurity and longing. I no longer feel fatherless for I know the love of my Heavenly Father. And after many wrestling matches and countless tears with the LORD, I now understand that what my father meant for harm, my Heavenly Father meant for my good. Today, my husband and I are happily married and have three amazing children, whom I cherish everyday. I marvel at their uniqueness and thank God for their presence in my life. And now, at the age of 41, I am embarking on a journey that began at my birth. For we are in the process of working with an agency that assists pregnant women in crisis and have hopes of adopting a new baby.
I feel like I know our child's birth mother, though I have never met her. I picture her looking a bit like those kids staring back at me in my parent's wedding photo. And I can honestly say, that I am grateful for the road behind me. For it was that path that led me to this place and gave me a heart for the woman,facing an unplanned pregnancy, who shall birth my child. The road behind me gave me a heart for the fatherless. And it has bound me to a child I have yet to hold, but already love.
My story began at home, years ago, and continues to amaze me today. My mother's love for me and her strength in the impossible task ahead of her, fills me with courage as we set our feet on the long road ahead. The mistakes of my father prompt me to cherish those through whom God has richly blessed me in this life. My stepfather's acceptance demonstrates to me that adoption is selfless and sacrificial and beautiful. And my Heavenly Father reminds me, daily, that I am an adopted daughter of the King, and He "defends the cause of the fatherless". (Deuteronomy 10:18).
God saw me in the beginning, and He used the struggles of yesterday to bring me into His plans for me today. For that, in the good and the bad, I am filled with praise. Truly, home is where your story begins...and I cannot wait to bring our child home.
Wednesday, March 2, 2011
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine."
You are mine.
I see you...
I created you.
I planned for all the days
of your life.
Nothing touches you without
first being sifted through me.
I work all things together
for your good.
Even the bad stuff.
Especially the things you
do not understand.
That is when I am working
I am not You.
More importantly, dear child,
you are NOT me.
My ways are not your ways.
My thoughts are not your thoughts.
But, my thoughts are always on you.
Please know that I am for you.
I never stop interceding on your
I long to see you set free.
In my Kingdom.
I am The One.
Nothing surprises or shakes me.
For I am God...
And you are mine.
Tuesday, March 1, 2011
I have always be a "can do" kind of gal.
Filled with determination and an overly developed sense of independence, I have sometimes felt like the "Little Engine That Could". Recently, however, I changed my mantra from "I think I can" to "I know He will".
Truly, in this life, there is much I cannot do.
But I am not alone.
I know the One who placed the stars in the Heavens.
I rest with the One who wove me together.
I walk with the One who measured the seas.
Surely, the LORD directs my steps.
And He has a plan for me. And you.
I do not know beyond today where tomorrow will lead.
But I know Him.
And I know this...He is my God.
He is all-knowing, all-powerful, and always present. I need not burden myself with worry or doubt, for God says, "I am the LORD, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me?" (Jeremiah 32:27 NIV)
I choose, instead to wait. to watch. To worship the one true God. Sovereign and unshaken.
He never tires. Never ceases. Never forgets. And He is never late.
Truly, the LORD will see his plans for me to their completion. Not because of who I am or what I have done, but because of who He is and What He has already done for me. And You, dear one.
I don't know your circumstances.
Still, today, this very moment, I challenge you to say...
"I cannot...but God can. And He will."
In His time.
It's a promise.
And God keeps His promises.