Friday, December 22, 2017
If you’ve ever held a newborn baby, you know how fragile life can be. The first cry that welcomes in air, a breath. Nothing more than a wisp.
The fragile stamped on Christmas packages should be stamped on us: our hearts, our bodies, our souls.
We should handle each other with care. Our words should be easy, our touch gentle, our actions full of love and devotion.
We think ourselves a fortress, unstoppable. How far from reality those thoughts are.
Fragile life –
Filled with God’s grace.
The teenager who walks away from a bad wreck with little more than a scratch.
The daughter who keeps her aging father from falling.
That baby’s first cries held in the arms of one who will love him.
A gentle swirl of air. Fragile
“For apart from me, you can do nothing.” John 15:5. We must have Jesus.
He is the true fortress; He is the unstoppable One.
Life is fragile – Here by God’s grace.
Thank you for the miracle of life. Our life, the lives of those we love, the life of Your Son. May I remember that each day is a gift wrapped in Your grace and mercy. That I am not required to be the strong tower because that is Your job.
Tuesday, December 5, 2017
“For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.”
We’ve all heard the phrase stinking thinking, and at this time of year, we can see it in action. Everyone stressed out and in a frenzy. We grumble and complain:
We look up, and it’s Christmas. Cue groan.
However, there is a cure for this Christmas crankiness, and you possess the key.
Where is your focus this Christmas season?
In Philippians 4:8, we are instructed by Paul to focus our thinking on what is beautiful and true. We are to meditate on the good stuff of God and His world.
We shouldn’t place our focus on the long to-do list, the unwrapped gifts, or the tree that is sitting in the box in pieces. (I might just put lights on the box and call’er done!)
No, our focus should be on Christ, Himself.
So, this Christmas grab a hold of those grumbling, complaining, anxious thoughts and throw them out like Christmas morning trash. Then recount the wonders of the season –
God with us
Prince of Peace
Tidings of great joy
A Savior is born…. not for one, but for all.
Pure. Lovely. Noble. Think on these.
Wednesday, November 29, 2017
Proverbs 10:28a “The hope of those who do right is joy and celebration.” (The Voice).
Someone today remarked that Christians should be the most joy – filled people on the planet.
And they were right. We should have a continual celebration in our hearts over our salvation and our surety in the Lord.
Now, I know that life is full of difficulties and hard circumstances. Loving others is not for the faint of heart. It can bring with it sorrow, loneliness, hurt, and pain. The fact is we live in a fallen world. Sin seeps in no matter how hard we try to keep it out.
However, God tells us that life is good and sweet. He reassures us that He walks with us through all the valleys and that even in those hard, hurting places we can still find His joy.
In Ecclesiastes 9, Solomon encourages us to seize life. He instructs us to “eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for God has already approved what you do.”
We must look for the joys, the blessings, the Lord has set in our lives as we walk this journey. The road is not always easy, but the joy of the Lord is always with His children. It is our strength. It gives us hope.
Challenge: During this Christmas Season, look for the joyful moments in your life. Thank the Lord for them and tuck them in your heart as love notes from the Father.
Finding God’s grace,
Tuesday, November 21, 2017
“Taste and see that the Lord is good.” Psalm 34:8
Thanksgiving with its turkey and dressing; pies and cake; sauces and gravies has become a holiday of the taste buds. We want to Wow our guests with yummy delights. So, we search our cookbooks and the internet for recipes to tickle our senses and tempt our tummies.
And though the pleasure of a great meal can be quite satisfying, it cannot be compared with the pleasure of tasting the Lord’s goodness. There are too many of His blessings for us to taste them all now, but here is a sampling for us to consider.
His gift of salvation is one of the greatest pleasures to taste. It allows us full access to the Creator of all things. We become no longer strangers but children, part of His family.
His mercies, which (thank goodness) are new every morning, become ours. We can experience the showers of rain and the warmth of the sun because of His mercies. We can savor the depths of His love and begin to love others because of His goodness.
Those who seek Him shall find Him. We can dwell in the sweetness of His presence, and we can approach His throne with boldness.
He is our refuge in times of trouble, and He never gives us more then we can bear (1Corinthians 10:13). The bitter He makes palatable. He makes a way of escape when we are tempted.
He calls us beloved and keeps His promises to us. He blends the flavors of life together for us. He is faithful.
This is a very short list of ways in which we can taste God’s goodness, but it will get you started on your way to being thankful this Holiday Season.
Tuesday, October 31, 2017
“So that you would recognize wisdom and value discipline: that you would understand insightful teaching.” Proverbs 1:2-3 (The Voice).
Recently, I have been praying to recognize wisdom.
There are a lot of voices out there calling to us every day with snappy advice.
We are told to “pull yourself up, you got this, and you too can be a self-made man.”
All of these voices sound right on the surface. But when held up to Scripture, they crumble.
The voice calling out for us to be a "self-made man" doesn't give God credit for creating us or directing us. The Word of God says He numbered our days before one of them came into existence, and here is the real clincher, we may make our plans, but God directs our steps.
Pulling ourselves up sounds inspiring, but the Scripture teaches that God is the lifter of our heads. Yes, we have to be willing to cooperate, but God encourages His children. He doesn’t want to leave us in despair and hurt. He wants us to look to Him for comfort and help.
The “you got this” or “you can win it” voice calls us away from the One who gives true success. The book of Psalms is full of scriptures telling us God gives the victory.
Don't get me wrong, I'm all about a positive attitude, but when we claim to “do it ourselves”, we take the glory from our Lord and place it at our own feet.
The world today is overflowing with voices giving advice and counsel. We need to pray to recognize Godly wisdom and to use insightful teaching in our lives.
Hold all these voices up to Scripture and see if the message reflects God or self.
Challenge: Pray to recognize wisdom before diving into Social Media.
Finding God’s beautiful pieces of grace,
Monday, October 16, 2017
Recently, my husband and I watched a sci-fi show where the spaceship uses a blink drive to time travel. Once they went six hundred years into the past, which of course was our present day, and then on another episode, they were flung into the future discovering alternate time lines, showing what could’ve been.
So, when a friend of mine commented the other day, “I blinked, and the time was gone,” in reference to her youngest child turning twenty. I thought of that sci-fi show and our pursuit of the hard to catch commodity, time.
Scripture tells us that we have a limited amount of the stuff here on earth. We also know from experience that once it’s gone; it’s gone.
That’s why it’s important to consider how you use it.
Psalm 90:12 encourages us to learn to number our days. “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” (NIV).
Sometimes in order to look forward, you have to look back. Consider where you were 10 years ago, 5 years ago, this time last year.
Are you any further along in (you fill in the blank). A particular relationship, a job, a move, a hobby.
Is there something the Lord has called you to do, but you’ve put it off. Is there a relationship that needs mending, but you’ve waited? Have you always wanted to travel to Ireland, but hesitate?
Time is the commodity we run after too often, and out of too soon.
Use your look backwards to make a list of where you’d like to be this time next year. Pray over it and wait for God’s direction. Once you have peace about the items on your list, make a plan. Pencil in these new-found priorities and set them as “off limits” when planning out the rest of your time.
It’ no blink drive, but it is a way to gain a heart of wisdom about your use of time.
Challenge: Write down three things you’d like to accomplish in 2018. Under each write three actions you can take to push you toward that goal. Then put it somewhere you will see it. Pray over it for the next several months and see what insight the Lord gives you about these goals.
Finding God’s Beautiful Pieces of Grace,
Tuesday, October 10, 2017
“Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth.” Proverbs 27:1 (NIV).
Wouldn’t it be nice if we could plan our colds? The last week of October is open for me I’ll be sick then – But we can’t.
We can’t plan those interruptions in our daily lives. The unforeseen phone call, the emergency, the sick child.
We just can’t know what the future holds.
That is why we must anchor our lives in the one who does – God.
He knows all about the sick pet, blown tire, and…yep…the unplanned cold.
He is aware of all the unforeseen situations that pop-up as we go about our daily routines.
Nothing surprises God.
Let that soak in.
Nothing surprises God.
So, take comfort in the fact that God knew and that He is on your side.
Then ask Him to show you his purpose in those pesky interruptions of life. You may be the one surprised at how he is growing you and growing you closer to Himself.
Francesca Battistelli sings a song about the stuff God uses to trains us to depend on Him. Stuff like lost keys and speeding tickets. It’s the unknown, unforeseen aspects of life that shape and mold us.
Challenge: Find the silver lining in your daily interruptions, thanking God for them.
Monday, September 25, 2017
Have you ever had a day where your emotions ran the gamut?
Where you zinged from happy to crying with a little mad thrown into the mix just to make things fun.
I have! Recently.
These kinds of days make my head spin. But they serve to remind me about the vast array of emotions we humans experience and that God is the giver of emotions.
Why crazy, up and down emotions? You might ask. Because He created us in His image and He feels – deeply.
The Eternal God loves, delights, and is jealous over His children.
This got me to thinking. His emotional range must encompass so much more than ours. Like the spectrum of light, we only see a portion of what is there.
We only feel a fraction of what these emotions hold.
God first loved us, and He did it while we were yet sinners.
A spectrum of love too wide for us to fathom.
Yet, He calls us to love our enemies.
Impossible? Yes, for us, but nothing is impossible with God.
When we let God’s love pour through us, our capacity to love, show grace, and forgive grows beyond the spectrum we know and slides into His forgiveness, His kindness, His love.
Today thank God for the experience of emotions and embrace the fact that He loves you. Then pour that love into someone else.
Finding God's Beautiful Pieces of Grace,
Friday, September 15, 2017
Have you ever been displaced? Felt lost or upended?
Some are displaced right now due to Hurricane Harvey and Irma. They have lost their homes, valuables. And those pieces of their lives that can’t be replaced.
I’ve seen this displacement up close. I watched my family members go through it after Katrina where sewer lines ran on top of the streets for months while new ones were being put in. People lived in rentals so they could work to restore their homes. Some simply left, leaving empty lots and vehicles dotting the landscape.
Others have been displaced due to a loss of a loved one. Those that anchored them. They feel alone, unseen. The hole in their hearts too big for someone else to fill. The days and weeks feel upended and uncertain.
Then there are those who have been displaced because of divorce. A tragedy never wanted or thought of in the beginning. It leaves broken hearts even when it’s for the best. A hurt throwing you into a place of falling between the cracks.
We have a world full of displaced people, so God sent His Son, Jesus. The one who said, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”
He understands, totally.
He understands the brokenness and hurt.
And He is our hope. You are not forgotten. God sees you, and you can place your hope in Him. He can be your anchor. “For in him we live and move and have our being.” (Acts 17:28).
Our home, our true home, grows out of our relationship with Jesus.
Are all these losses significant? Yes! Do they cause pain? Yes!
We would not be human if we didn’t grieve.
This is simply a reminder to everyone: we are not without hope. We are not forgotten. When we find ourselves displaced because of life, we do not have to face it on our own. God is faithful. He will never leave us or forsake us, and that’s an anchor you can depend on.
Finding God's Beautiful Pieces of Grace,
Wednesday, September 6, 2017
Oh, my Word!!
Have you read Psalm 33 recently?
If not, grab your Bible and go outside in the sunshine and cool breeze, and read it.
“The unfathomable cosmos came into being at the word of the Eternal’s imagination, a solitary voice in endless darkness. The breath of His mouth whispered the sea of stars into existence.”
Doesn’t that give you chills?
To breathe in the air He created. To feel the sun’s warmth and the caress of the wind and know that He made them all.
“Let all people stand in awe of the Eternal; let every man, woman, and child live in wonder of Him. For He spoke, and all things came into being. A single command from His lips and all creation obeyed and stood its ground.”
I want to live in awe of God. I want to remember every day that He is big, but He loves us who are small. I want to be surprised by His creation, and I want it to move me. I never want to forget how awesome our God is.
“The Eternal peers down from heaven and watches all of humanity; He observes every soul from His divine residence. He has formed every human heart, breathing life into every human spirit; He knows the deeds of each person, inside and out.”
God knows me. God knows you. He formed us and gave us life. He knows us inside and out. The marvel of it. He knows every hair on our head though the number changes daily.
“Our hearts erupt with joy in Him because we trust His holy name. O Eternal, drench us with Your endless love, even now as we wait for you.”
To be drenched, soaked to the bone in His love like a torrential down pour. Not so we alone can experience it, but so we can pour it out on others as well. “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.” (NIV 1 John 4:7).
This Psalm starts with the cosmos and ends with the love God has for each one of us. Doesn’t that shake your soul? The one who formed the stars loves you!
Today, let’s rejoice in God’s love and be swept up in the wonder of who He is.
Finding God’s beautiful pieces of grace,
Monday, August 28, 2017
Did you know there are more babies born in the month of August than any other month of the year? Yep, it’s true.
I saw it in action at church Sunday when one of our leaders asked the congregation who had a birthday this week. There were so many he said he felt like he was singing “Happy Birthday” to the whole church.
Birthdays are like New Years and the first day of school to me. They represent a new beginning. A fresh start, an opportunity to try new and different things.
At a recent birthday party (yes, in August), I told the birthday girl that she should try something new and different this year to celebrate and embrace this new time.
I went on to tell her how when I turned fifty that I started my Instagram account, and it acted as a catalysis for renewing my love of photography. I also told her about taking Karate when I turned forty. I never got very good at it, but I did break a board which was exciting and seemed to impress my sons.
Now, my birthday is approaching, and I’m seeking the Lord on what new and different activity or attitude I need to embrace for this new year.
He reminded me that He is the God of new.
He is forever creating.
In Isaiah 43:19, He tells Israel to watch that he is going to do something new and different for them against their enemies. “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”
Where there was no road, He is going to build one. Where the land was dry, He is going to provide water for His people.
He also tells us that when we accept Christ as Savior we become a new creation the old has past the new has come.
How exciting! We become new, different filled with the Holy Spirit led by God the Father. Where there was no relationship, now there is a healthy, vibrant one.
God is definitely a God of new.
I challenge you today as the school year starts, take a moment and think of God’s active creating in your life. What “new” has He brought about for you this year, this month?
Then whisper the prayer “Create.”
Tuesday, August 22, 2017
Ecclesiastes 3:1 (The Voice) “For everything that happens in life – there is a season, a right time for everything under heaven.”
Yesterday, a large portion of the country stopped to witness a solar eclipse. The next one will be in seven years on April 8th, 2024.
How do we know this? Because the moon and the sun and their rotations have a time. Not just anytime, but a God appointed time.
God set the rhythm of the heavens and the earth, giving each piece a particular time. When to spin, when to bloom, when to grow.
So much so that the spectacular event that so many participated in yesterday could be timed down to the minute. It came and went in God’s perfect timing.
The Bible tells us that the pieces of life have an appointed time. A time to be born, a time to wed, a time to build, a time to die.
These events don't occur before or after their appointed time.
So, if there is something we are waiting for – wrestling with - like a change in career, or to start a family, or maybe relief from a painful situation, take comfort in the knowledge that God knows and will work it out in His time.
God is not late.
Just as we couldn’t speed up or slow down the eclipse or change the time and date it occurred, we cannot speed up or slow down God’s promises to us.
God is faithful, and as Solomon tells us in Ecclesiastes, “I know God has made everything beautiful for its time.”
Waiting is hard, but much like the solar eclipse, when it's our time, God's glory will be seen.
|Crescent shapes created by the solar eclipse filtered through the trees.|
Finding God's beautiful pieces of grace,
Saturday, August 19, 2017
Mustard seed faith begins small, minute. That is God’s way. He starts with small. He starts with one man and one woman. He starts with twelve disciples. He starts with five loaves and two fish.
In order to grow, it must be planted. The seed of faith must be planted in the Word of God. Small begins to grow when covered in God’s unerring Word. It sprouts with each new victory won from obedience. Each step adds to the fact that God is with us.
In order to grow, it must be nurtured and fed. The seed of faith grows in the light of God’s promises and with the community of believers. Small becomes more resilient in the company of others. As people pour into us, we sprout and begin to reach for the light of the promises of God. We see Him work in others, and we reach for that growth.
In order to grow, it must be watered. The seed of faith needs to be watered in prayer. We long to pray to our Father. Pray without ceasing. Calling on Him who can change: health, circumstances, hearts.
When the mustard seed is planted, it grows taller than the other plants. Big enough to house the birds, to give shade, to cast a large shadow.
When the mustard seed of faith is placed in the hand of God, you can move mountains.
“Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed you can say to this mountain, ‘move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” Matthew 17:20.
Challenge: Today, place your faith in God’s hands and whisper the prayer “grow me”.
Finding God’s Beautiful Pieces of Grace,
Wednesday, August 9, 2017
Last night I attended a meeting that was the beginning of the end.
It signified the last few steps in a journey of twenty-two years.
It all started on a small island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. No kidding.
I had sent my oldest son to kindergarten two days a week and taught him at home the other three. I knew God was calling us to homeschool even before we had moved out to the island and had brought curriculum with me.
I wanted to be obedient, but…. Aren’t there always buts. I didn’t want Aaron to be the lone stranger. I didn’t want him to be the only kid on island not to go to school. So, I prayed. Funny how God listens to a mother’s heart.
I prayed that he would provide Aaron friends.
Then a few weeks later, I heard of another mom on island who was thinking about homeschooling. We met for dinner one evening, declaring it the first meeting of the Kwajalein Homeschool Association.
She and I began to pray. We prayed for strength, for guidance, and for other homeschoolers.
By the time school started, we had seven homeschool families. God had brought them from all over. The awesome thing was all of the families had either a kindergartener or a first grader. Aaron had six other friends that did what he did, homeschooled. God always gives in abundance.
Fast forward a whole bunch of years, and now, I think of last night’s meeting. The beginning of the end, where we prayed for strength, for guidance, and for other homeschool families.
As I walked around the gym after the meeting, I visited with a number of homeschool moms who have walked this journey with me. Many have prayed with me and for me, many have been generous with their time, spending it on me or my children, and many have encouraged and given wisdom when I was dry and lacking.
It seems God has answered my prayer, not once, but over and over again.
None of my children ever had to walk the homeschool path alone. And to my amazement, neither did I. God in His infinite mercy not only gave me a husband who walked all the way with me, but he gave me friends. Wonderful, precious, love like Jesus friends.
For that, I am truly grateful.
So, begins the end. I’m not sure how this year, the last homeschool year, will go, but it’s nice to know I don’t have to face it alone.
Proverbs 18:24b “…But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”
Finding God’s beautiful pieces of grace.
Monday, July 24, 2017
We become like a tree planted by a cool spring, bringing forth fruit in its time (Psalm 1:3).
Do you ever think about fruit?
I mean as a mom and a wife I think about fruit at least once a week at the grocery store.
I've been to some stores whose produce is lacking, bruised bananas, tiny apples, crushed and moldy grapes.
I'm picky about my fruit.
I think God is picky about His fruit too. He doesn't bring it to harvest too soon, nor does He leave it lingering on the branches to rot.
He brings it to bear at the right time.
I think sometimes we get a little impatient with God and his fruit. We get impatient about issues and problems in our own life, and we even sometimes get impatient with trouble spots in others.
We ask God the Father why he can't fix old so and so, or we ask why is it taking so long for our prayers to be answered?
But as it says in Psalm 1:3, He brings forth the fruit in its time. That's one thing about our Father; He is never too early, nor is He ever too late.
Challenge: Ask the Lord to produce fruit in your life: Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Gentleness, Goodness, Faithfulness, and Self Control.
Finding Beautiful Pieces of Grace,
Tuesday, July 18, 2017
1 John 3:16-17 "By this we know love, that he laid down His life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word and talk but in deed and truth." (ESV).
We are to love in deed and truth.
Now, deeds we understand. We show love through our actions. If someone is cold, we supply them a blanket. If someone is hungry, we provide them a meal. Many of us often reach out to help others through acts of kindness.
But how do we love in truth? What does that look like?
Well, simply put, it looks like Jesus. Jesus said, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6 ESV).
That is the truth we are to share.
Jesus is the way. He offers life. Through Him, we can be rescued. Telling others about Jesus is showing love.
We definitely need to love through our deeds, but as we meet people's physical needs, let us also meet their spiritual ones by presenting the truth of Jesus as the way to the Father.
Fear will try to stop us. Be courageous.
Be aware, fear of man, what others might think, and fear of rejection will try to stop us.
However, be courageous.
We must love in truth - We must give the captive the key to his cell.
We must give those who mourn or are brokenhearted the balm of healing.
We must tell the poor the good news.
The price has been paid; we have been freed.
The Good News - The Price has been Paid!
How should we love?
As Jesus loved, in deed and truth.
Finding God's Beautiful Pieces of Grace,
Thursday, July 13, 2017
Restitution is an old word. We don’t use it much today, but we should. It’s where we have done something wrong and we take action to make it right. Like when we dent someone’s fender and we pay to have it fixed, or we break someone’s favorite bowl and we replace it.
The act of making restitution can be very healing. Of course, for the one who was wronged, but even so for the one who made the mistake.
Once when my middle son was two, he wandered into our neighbor’s yard and picked the blooms off an orchid plant to give to me as a gift. Now, if you know anything about orchids they are very temperamental, getting them to grow isn’t easy.
At the time, we lived on a small island in the Pacific, and our neighbors were a career couple who had no children. So, they were not very understanding when they got home and found a note from my husband telling them what our young son had done and asking them to come see us.
When they came over, we apologized but could tell it had done very little to straighten out the situation. The neighbor explained how hard it was to grow the orchids even in the tropical climate and how he had been waiting for years for the plant to bloom.
We felt terrible.
A few days later the wife paid me a visit to smooth things over and told me that her husband had been so mad that he had gone for a long walk before he coming over and talking with us that day.
This added to the guilt I felt. I wanted to do something, but I wasn’t sure what.
So, I prayed for guidance. The Lord in His faithfulness reminded me of this word, restitution. He pointed out scriptures like Acts 3:21(KJV) and Luke 19:8b (NIV) where Zacchaeus said, “if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.’” to show that His way was to make it right.
However, I didn’t think a plate of brownies or money would do the trick. I asked the Lord to help me find an orchid, blooming to replace the one that had been taken. I knew this was a tall order since orchids were rare on the island, not a native plant. They had to be brought onto the island and cultivated.
But God is big, and God is good.
That week in our paper there was an ad for a yard sale that listed orchids. I was thrilled. I made sure to get up early the day of the sale in order to get one of the plants. Not only did I get a plant, but I got one that was blooming.
After repotting the plant and asking God to go before us, my son and I took it over.
You would have thought we had given him the moon. He thanked us several times, and by his countenance, I could tell we had touched him deeply.
Later that week, he came by to tell us how the plant was doing and that his other plant had a bloom on it too. He invited both myself and our son to come see it.
By practicing restitution, a situation that could have led to a break in the peace we had with our neighbors was diffused and restored.
Saying you’re sorry and asking for forgiveness is always a good thing, but there are times when we need to make it right through restitution.
Challenge: Is there a situation that you need to make right through restitution either now or from the past? If so, pray and follow God’s leading. You will feel better, and you might make the other person feel better too.
Finding Beautiful Pieces of His grace
Wednesday, July 5, 2017
“Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” ( NIV).
Over the last few weeks I have been busy, crazy busy.
The kind of busy where you’re not even the one in charge of your own schedule. The kind of busy where you already have a list of things to do and a list of things you’d like to get done, but two or three other people interject a new thought or need or emergency into your day and BAM…
CRAZY BUSY DAYS!
I started secretly longing for those lazy days of summer. You know, the ones you hear about in songs and movies. Where you sit on a porch swing with a glass of cold tea in a warm breeze, breathing.
So, when I realized it had been a few days since I’d spent time with the Lord, I grabbed my Bible and a few minutes that morning and found a much better stillness then the variety you find on a summer’s eve at twilight. Though, those are pretty awesome.
You would think after years of walking with the Lord I would understand about being still and knowing - This being still and knowing, it anchors me to Him.
But no. The last few weeks I’ve thrashed about running, striving, working, thinking, wondering… I tossed up a prayer here and looked over a verse there, but no being still in His presence, no waiting to hear from Him, to receive from Him.
No real exalting going on.
In essence, I was saying to God I'm too busy for you. “Father, I know you want me to come hang-out with you, but this life you gave me, well it’s got me all tied up. Sorry no time now.”
How sad when we deprive ourselves of the very person who can lift our load, direct our steps, and breathe life into our days.
Don’t do what I did and wait until your running on fumes before you stop to seek Him out. Be diligent in your time with Him. It will help to keep the busyness of life in check.
So, my challenge to you this week is to be still in His presence. Sit expecting Him to spend time with you, His child. Breathe in the peace that only God the Father can give; then, make your to do list. It might hold a few minutes of time on a swing with a glass of tea in a warm breeze. Just saying.
Monday, June 26, 2017
As a mom, my backseat works as a multipurpose area. I have toted three bags of karate gear, backpacks, a change of clothes, and snacks just for one outing. On other days, it’s been filled with groceries, dry cleaning and walking shoes. Sometimes, it carries my newest discoveries in fashion, my dear husband’s items from his buy list, or the dogs.
Over the years, what can be found in my backseat has changed. There for a while you could find people in my backseat, weird.
However, no matter what I carried around with me, eventually the backseat got emptied.
As children of God, I think sometimes we need to stop and empty our backseats. We carry around a lot of extra baggage that works to weigh us down and distract us from God’s purpose for our lives.
Things we pick up along the way throughout our day or week can weave their way into our thinking and attitudes. Someone said something unkind, the car beside you cut you off, or the neighbor across the street took your paper.
When we keep negative thoughts and attitudes hanging around, they zap our energy and draw our attention away from God. We need to release these things into the Lord’s hands.
As we find in Philippians 4:8, “Finally brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.” (NIV).
Also consider Isaiah 55:9, “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (NIV).
Our backseats don’t have to be cluttered with negative, unlovely thoughts and attitudes. We don’t have to go through our days carrying this extra baggage. We can give it all to the One whose thoughts are higher than ours. The One who tells us we are wonderfully and fearfully made.
So, I challenge you, check your backseat. Give God any negative thoughts or attitudes. Let Him flood you with His peace and fill you with His grace.
Tuesday, June 13, 2017
Yesterday, I went into the yard with the idea of pruning the hedges. They looked like characters from Where the Wild Things Are. Their branches, a mishmash of shapes and sizes, lept out in various directions as if they were dancing, wild and untamed.
I began the pruning process, a clip here, a cut there. Limbs and branches fell to the ground as a new shape emerged. It held clean lines and distinct borders, a beginning and an end.
My life at times resembles those hedges. It can take on a wild, craziness that leaves me feeling unproductive and unbeautiful. It becomes hard for me to tell the borders, and the lines begin to blur.
That’s usually when the Lord speaks to me about pruning. Snip, snip.
Some of this pruning can deal with my day-to-day life…the schedule.
Some of this pruning centers on the season of life I am experiencing.
And then some of this pruning focuses on my character, the core of who I am.
Now, to be honest, the day-to-day is like the pruning I did to the hedges, getting everything back in shape. Practicing when to say no, and when to say yes and seeking the Father’s best for us on a daily basis.
The season of life pruning cuts a little deeper. It hurts a little more. I find that it involves letting go, moving on, and starting anew. All these acts require faith, obedience, trust, and hope. They call for the complete belief that God our Father is good.
Then, because the Father loves me, He digs deeper into the roots of who I am. He addresses the issues at the core of my soul. This pruning involves struggle because we give up our rights to self.
He doesn’t leave dead things hanging on in my life like unforgiveness or worry. He cuts them away, and He won’t let fear or anger draw the life from me. He removes them. He snips, snips, until only the good, healthy branches remain.
It conjures up an image of the crepe myrtle bushes I’ve seen along Jeff Road. In the fall, the gardener lops them off until they are no more than a stub. But every spring, their blooms are breath taking.
Our Father is the good gardener, and as it says in John 15:2, “…while every branch that does bear fruit He prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.”
Pruning is never fun. Whether it’s trying to figure out a new routine or facing a personal fear, it can be painful. However, if God is doing the pruning, the branch will be healthy and the fruit will be beautiful.
Monday, June 5, 2017
For your ways are in full view of the Lord, and He examines all your paths.
Proverbs 5:21 (NIV)
Have you ever thought you knew what you wanted and then later realized God knew better?
We had decided back in March to sell our RV, Seymour.
In order to make the decision, we talked about how little we had been using it. How neither one of us likes to own something and watch it deteriorate. We discussed how bad it was for the engine to just sit.
We reminisced about the fun we had in the RV and the places we had gone as a family. We wanted others to have that experience. Then, we added that the boys are grown, and we are passing into a new season of life.
We both agreed, “It’s time to sell, Seymour.”
But Seymour wouldn’t sell. We did everything your supposed to do. We prayed. We posted it on Craigslist. We told friends and family. Still, it did not sell.
March went by, then April, and May. Several people came to look; a few even took Seymour for a spin, but no one wanted to buy our beloved RV.
Finally, near the end of May, we were sitting on our porch discussing again why we wanted to sell the RV when a new idea presented itself. It floated into my mind like it had wings from above. “Why don’t we trade Seymour in for something you could use at the hunting camp?”
We had dismissed using Seymour at the camp because of its engine, but a pull behind would be different.
My dear husband loved this thought. He went that week to see what the trade-in value would be. Guess What? It matched the price we had Seymour listed for on Craigslist.
So, on Saturday, we went and traded Seymour for a travel trailer that we can put out at the hunting camp when not being used for other adventures. To top it off, it was an even trade.
God must not be done, having us roam the country side, and I’m kind of glad about it. He met our need by changing our expectations and our thinking. I can't wait to see what is a head for us in our travel trailer.
Challenge: It’s hard to wait on the Lord when you’re trying to move forward whether in a day or in a season of life, but God sees the paths before us and knows the plans He has for us. Be willing to wait and change your expectations to meet His.
Monday, May 29, 2017
Psalm 117: 1-2 (The Voice Bible)
Praise the Eternal, all nations. Raise your voices, all people. For his unfailing love is great, and it is intended for us, and His faithfulness to His promises knows no end. Praise the Eternal.
Unfailing love - I don't know about you, but there are days when my love fails, terribly, usually with some tears.
I know I don't like to think about it, but there are days when I do not suffer long with people. I know surprising right? Mom's are supposed to be squishy and patient, but a lot of days, I run out of love before I run out of day.
However, I have found on the days I've spent time with the Lord in His unfailing love - the love that died for me - I have more of His love to give.
My love is limited, but His goes on and on.
So, I walk in His unfailing love for me and ask Him to let His unfailing love for others flow from me like streams of living water, helping me be squishy and patient and yes, loving.
Challenge: Spend time in God's unfailing love today, and let it soak deep, deep into your soul. Then, sprinkle some on others along the way.
Finding God's beautiful pieces of grace,
Monday, May 22, 2017
Psalm 115: 11(The Voice Bible)
All who fear and know the Eternal, put your trust in Him. He is their helper and defender.
We are not without hope.
If God is for us, who can be against us?
So many times, I let anxious thoughts crowd into my mind, leaving no room for the truth of God's word.
It's a lack of trust on my part. I allow the opinions or worries of the world to stir up my own concerns. I'm not saying stick your head in the sand ( never a good idea) and hide, nor am I saying we should walk around with rose colored glasses. That's not healthy, either.
I am a realist, and the reality is Life is messy and hard, but...
And it's what follows that conjunction that I want us to focus on -
Life is messy and hard, but God is faithful, and I can trust Him.
Life is messy and hard, but He will help me when I run to Him.
Life is messy and hard, but He is my defender and will never leave me nor forsake me Hebrews 13:5.
When worry and fear come wandering into our thoughts, we should begin to recall God's promises to us, His children.
Remember what Jesus said in John 16:33, "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."
Today, hand over whatever has you anxious or worried and ask the Father to give you His peace, trusting that He can do more than we ever imagined or hoped.
Finding God's beautiful pieces of grace,
Monday, May 15, 2017
Psalm 114: 7-8
Shudder and quake, O you earth, at the sight of the Lord. The God of Jacob comes, who turns rock into pools of refreshing water and flint into fountains of life-giving streams!
There is nothing too hard for God.
Psalm 114 reminds us that God caused life-giving, refreshing water to come from rocks and flint.
The Holy Spirit, that living water that resides in us, also sprung out of the hard ground - of our hearts and produces Godly fruit in our lives .
God is good at creating something from nothing.
Barren wombs, barren lands, barren lives are no match for the power of our God.
No desert is too dry or too hard or too wide. We need to trust Him with the deserts in our lives, the rocky areas that no one else knows about.
He can meet our needs with the life-giving, refreshing work of the Holy Spirit.
Challenge: Let us take time today to praise Him for the river of living water that flows out of our hearts John 7: 37-38, and let's give Him the dry areas of our lives, so that they too can be turned into areas of use for the Lord.
Finding God's beautiful pieces of grace,
Monday, May 8, 2017
Psalm 113: 3 (The Voice Bible)
At every time and in every place - from the moment the sun rises to the moment the sun sets - may the name of the Eternal be high in the hearts of His people.
I am a forgetful woman. I've reached the age where I can enter a room and wonder, "Now, why did I come in here?" It's frustrating.
I'm sure I'm not alone in this phenomena.
Well, as a Christian, I sometimes forget things I should know about God's Word.
I forget what it says about how I should handle situations in my life.
I forget what it says about how I need to act towards others.
And I even forget sometimes what it says about how I am to act towards God.
Too often, I go to Him with my requests, wants, or desires wrapped up and focused solely on self.
But God is pleased when we remember to praise Him, when we place Him "high in our hearts."
The verse goes on to say to praise Him all day long, where ever we may be.
I love that!
We have access to God all day long, everywhere we are, and we can praise Him for who He is.
- All knowing
- Lord over all the earth
- The beginning and the end
Verse five in the same chapter asks "To whom should we compare the Eternal, our God?"
And all God's children answer, "No one."
He can not be compared, only praised.
So, This is a reminder for all my fellow forgetful folks - Praise the Eternal, all day long, all along the way. And if you hear me mumbling to myself, it's just a sign of the times.
Finding God's beautiful pieces of grace,
Monday, May 1, 2017
You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.
We need to park our minds at Jesus's door, the way we park our cars at our destination.
Lysa Terkeurst used this concept in her book Made to Crave. She advises us to park our thoughts on what is lovely, admirable, pure, and noble Philippians 4: 8.
We need to keep our thoughts on His truths - not on the enemies lies.
We need to recognize truth and use it. God's Word is our truth as Jesus followers, and it's His thoughts on topics and life issues that should form our thinking.
Beware of the enemies lies and do not doubt the Word of God. That's the trick the enemy used on Eve. "Did God really say, 'You must not eat from any tree in the garden?'" Genesis 3:1.
The enemy planted doubt in her mind about God's word, then he talked her into giving over to her desires.
In order to combat the lies of the enemy, we must keep our thoughts parked on God's truth.
Here are some truth's to park your mind on today:
"God is our refuge and strength an ever present help in trouble." Psalm 46:1
"Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe." Proverbs 29:25
"And my God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus."
May these bring you peace because you trust in the Lord.
Finding God's beautiful pieces of grace,
Monday, April 24, 2017
In Luke 19: 12-27, Jesus tells a parable about a ruler who left to go conquer another kingdom. He leaves ten servants with instructions and money. Sort of like we do with our teenagers when we go out with our spouses, we leave instructions and money.
He told them, "Use this money to buy and sell until I return."
When the ruler came home, he had them give an account of what they had been doing with the money. Again, like our teenagers.
The first guy, who had been given 10 talents, had made 10 times the amount he was given and was rewarded.
The second guy, who had been given 5 talents, made 5 times the amount he was given and was rewarded, but the third guy, who had been given one talent, had hid his money. He had preserved it, neither increasing it nor losing it.
What strikes me is this: The third fellow didn't follow the instructions.
By preserving the money, he didn't do what he was told to do by his master which was to "use it to buy and sell". By doing nothing, he had been disobedient. He missed the point of the money and lost his reward.
We are given gifts and talents by God to use. We are to invest our lives in God's Kingdom. God's Kingdom being people.
We are not to horde our talents or savor our gifts or hide them. We are instructed to use them. When we do, He promises that those who refresh others will they themselves be refreshed (Proverbs 11: 25 NLT). Because as we know, you can never out give God.
Something else that strikes me is the reason given by the man for not using the money - It was fear.
Luke 19: 21a Because I was afraid of you. After all, you're a tough man...
We should not allow fear of others or fear of failing keep us from investing in God's Kingdom.
He has given us our gifts, talents, and resources to use for His glory, our good, and the good of others.
So, don't hide them; use them as the Lord has instructed us to do. (1 Corinthians 12: 7 NLT)
A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other.
Find a way to use your gifts to help one person today.
It will put a smile on their face and yours.
Finding God's Beautiful Pieces of Grace,
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Monday, April 17, 2017
|photo by Yvette McCoy|
Transition Mama. That's me. I'm in the middle of my story, the story of life, and now, its time to move on to a new chapter. But...
After homeschooling for twenty years, I've found it daunting to turn that page. I guess because I know that I will be saying good-bye to the routines, habits, and rhythms of life that have sustained us for so long.
We know we do school in the morning, then we goof off in the afternoon. We know we tackle math, Bible, and any heavy reading before we do writing. We know we make our beds, get dressed, and eat before ten o'clock. We know this. I know this. It's the familiar.
Now, I'm looking at this new chapter. I don't even see a title. It's kind of hazy like someone dropped peanut butter on the page, leaving a mess of uncertainty clumped where the title should be.
But God reminds me - I have opened the door. I will turn the page. I will write the title to this next chapter just as I have for all the rest.
A deep sense of relief floods me. I don't have to thrash about looking for what should be, because the Great I Am already has a plan.
Yes. He does.
My part? I need to trust, listen, and obey.
Trust that he has me and that nothing will separate me from his love.
Listen to his instructions and follow his Holy Word.
Obey when he directs, knowing that he works all things together for my good.
Is it all clear? No. But then that wouldn't require faith. Instead, the peanut butter remains.
But in his good timing, he will wipe it away to reveal the next thing, and it will be good.
Then the routines, and the habits, and the rhythms of life that I so crave will come, and we'll be off on that adventure.
Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
Finding God's Beautiful Pieces of Grace