Tag Archive | blessing

When I grow up, I want to be…

Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.

Ephesians 6:19-20

If you look through my prayer journal over the past few months, you will see a theme. I want a strong purpose. I want to be a force for the Lord. I feel like I am camped on the edge of the wilderness and God is getting ready to push me in- to follow Him into some uncharted territory- but, I don’t know what, where, or how. In addition to purpose, Monday I had prayed for a gift. I wanted to know if God hears me. Does He know me? I feel like He has been so quiet lately.

Purpose. Influence. Confirmation. Affirmation.

Our Tuesday gals have been gleaning from Priscilla Shirer’s field in the study called One In A Million. She is walking us through the book of Exodus. It’s a story of deliverance, smelting, obedience and being surrendered to the Lord. Not relying on our own ability, knowledge or strength…but, God’s manna and provision. Perfecting us to following Him into Promised Land living. This is a RICH study and I have enjoyed every step.

Yesterday, however, I was a little downcast after study. Discouraged.

We had moved on to Numbers 13. A leader from each tribe was sent in to investigate and report on Canaan. Leaders are supposed to lead, right? Well, these leaders gave a false report…one birthed out of fear and uncertainty…and these leaders led the people to settle for second best instead of Promised Land living. For 38 years, they would walk in circles in the same place. Uggh. If only the leaders had been fearless in following the Lord…in having full faith in the Lord…in believing and trusting the Lord at his word.These leaders were to be the influence.

So I began to wonder. I am sitting on the edge of this wilderness…an unknown. Will I choose a comfortable, familiar place and walk in circles? Or will I follow? I pray that I do.

In times of uncertainty, we all need to make sure we have trusted people who we can go to for influence; spiritual counsel. We need to make sure that the people who influence us are pointing us to Jesus. But, we also need to be an influence-ER.

“What kind of influencer are you?”

Immediately, I hung my head. I wrote in my study guide…”I am not. Unacceptable + ineffective= lukewarm.” I don’t have a circle of influence. There is one woman in the group who has people texting and calling her for counsel all hours of the day. While that is her calling- not mine (I promise, I am not coveting here) – I wish I knew what my calling IS. Yes, I am planted and I am blooming and growing in Christ…but, am I still in the pot or am I outside in the great-wide-open providing shade for others, dropping seeds that may grow…unrestricted?

Yep. I left there feeling small, insignificant and super discouraged. I’d love to write a book…but, don’t know where to start. I’d LOVE to be like Priscilla Shirer and share the things God has shown me in life and through study…but, being in front of large groups makes me turn ten shades of red. Being in front of groups of people is not my place.

So where is my place, Lord?

There is no way I could have been prepared for the gifts that followed immediately after this wall of discouragement stopped me in my tracks. Yesterday, God started sending me gifts of purpose and confirmation…affirmation.

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At 4:55 pm, I received this text from a friend about a conversation we had a few weeks back. Encouragement from a dear friend. But…wait…did I say something? Am I really an influencer and I didn’t know it?

Then I thought of the card my dear daughter gave me on Mother’s Day. In it was a picture she drew under the caption “Mother’s Favorite Things”. That picture is my Bible, coffee and a cupcake.

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This is what she sees. In the morning before they go to school this is where they see me; at the table with my coffee and Bible. (The cupcake? Not so much, but it certainly sounds like a great idea!) I am not perfect. They see my flaws. But, my kids are “seeing” even when I am not “saying”. Thank you Lord. Not only did He confirm this special and important purpose, but I feel like I must be doing a good job – as long as I am following His lead.

So, I sat down and stopped drinking from the cup of my own insignificance – served in my private pity party. The truth is: when I am less, God is more. I started thinking about where I am planted…I am a mother. I can think of no greater influence than the molding and raising of children. Funny, I had been praying about that this month, too. I so want to be a Proverbs 31 woman in my home, a helper to my husband and also a Deuteronomy 6 mama who leads by example and really walks the walk with my kids and anyone else who I may encounter on this road.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

Deuteronomy 6:6-9

Then came the greatest gift…one I could have never even thought of. To GOD be the glory!

Last night was our daughter’s Kindergarten graduation. After a song, each child came to the microphone one at a time to introduce themselves. This special introduction included their name, birth date and what they want to be when they grow up. As a general rule, I try to not share pictures of my kids faces on this blog and keep their personal information to a minimum. TRUST me…if I could have gotten this video to upload I would have broken that rule today. As she stepped confidently to the microphone, she gave her name and date of birth and then this….

“When I grow up, I want to be a Mommy.”

At the end of that short video clip, you would have heard a whimper just before the camera shut off. It was me. The Lord pricked my heart and it’s contents gushed out in the form of tears of joy. It was all I could do to keep from WAILING. I know that I didn’t hear another word said for the next 5 minutes as I tried to contain myself. I cried on and off for hours after that.

Influence.

Mothers: never underestimate the power and scope of your influence in Jesus’ name!

It is a divine calling and should not be seen as a purpose that is less than others. No, I am not speaking to stadiums, congregations or even small rooms of people, and if it’s God’s will- the book will happen in God’s time. God spoke loud and clear yesterday. I am an influencer- to my kids, my husband, their friends and anyone I come in contact with. As I walk the road and when I rise and sit- if I am living what I believe and for WHOM I believe- I am making a difference in the name of Jesus. Yes, I want to do more for Him. But, I think God wants me to provide shade and seed to these little ones who are in my care and not brush off this purpose in search of another. The eternal importance of these years is one that cannot be measured. The influence I have on these two children and the influence they will have on others…their grand kids and so on…is one that has the potential to seed and grow for generations to come.

She could have chosen ANYTHING…and she wants to be a Mommy…like me.

Oh sweet Jesus ~ Thank you for making me hers.

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Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Ephesians 3:20-21

Yes, to HIM be glory…throughout all generations.

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I have really let myself go!

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My son painted the most beautiful picture of a cardinal in art class at school. It’s simple and vibrant. A brilliant red bird resting on a branch with snow falling in the foreground. I love the things that he creates.

When he brought it home…while I raved and gave praise over this mini-masterpiece, he did not. He said, “It’s really not that good, but…Well, I guess it’s OK.” WHAT?! How could he think that?

 

 

We have our children’s art on display all over our home; some framed and some hung with care on the refrigerator to be displayed for a time. This one needed to be framed. Yet, I knew the moment I saw it that it would occupy a special place outside of our home. It would go to Grandma and Paw’s house. Paw loves birds. He had a stained glass cardinal hanging in the window of their home for years and has a very large print of various birds in all colors hanging in their bedroom. Yes, this would be the right home for this very special bird…with someone who would appreciate the beauty of the bird and the loving hands that created it.

Sometimes I look at myself the way my son looked at that bird. “Well, I guess…I’m really not that good…yea, I’m just OK.” But, thanks to my kids I was able to see something this past week that I had not seen or appreciated in this particular manner before.wpid-20150402_154111.jpg

While I was looking for a frame to showcase his regal, red cardinal- I found a portrait. It was in a frame in the basement and tentatively appeared to be holding a print of a ship. When I took the backing off of the frame, I saw a portrait…one of me. It was taken around 1998-99 or so. I was about 60 pounds lighter (YES SIXTY!), I had longer dark hair and was dressed in what would have been my standard attire for work. Back then, I was a Marketing Representative for an insurance brokerage. I always had my hair done, nails done, and was usually pretty trendy (at least for the time). I was definitely a very different person. I was wrapped up in ME.

 

So there I was; face-to-face with myself. Skinnier, put together, dark-haired, well dressed me. My initial reaction was to adjust the t-shirt that I had paired with my baggy jeans.  Then, I took a peek in the mirror at the gray hair that I have surrendered to over the past four years. Yikes.

” I have seriously let myself go.”

Just for giggles, I carried this throwback picture to my kids. I braced myself for the reaction I expected and then showed them. The reaction I got was NOT what I expected.

“Wow! We like your hair so much better now. Mom, we love the way you look today better.”

What?? Are they blind? It must be time to see the eye doctor again! 

What I had expected to hear was “Mom, you used to be so pretty.” But, what I heard was just the opposite. And after the initial shock wore off…and as I looked at the picture again….and I AGREED.

Yes, I like the me now much more than the one in that picture. Sure, the superficial stuff looked great- but, I was my focus then. God is my focus now. My husband and kids are my ministry. It’s not about me anymore. I am genuinely happier and mentally and spiritually healthier now by a long shot. I have been gifted a loving husband and two amazing children and am blessed beyond measure. None of the blessings I truly cherish can be changed by gravity or age. Praise the Lord.

Could it be that my kids could see at first glance what I didn’t? They appreciated this old bird and the hands that lovingly created her. (ha ha ha! I couldn’t resist.) I know that my kids didn’t know me then – and I am glad. But, the thought that they can see and appreciate the Jesus in me is a thought that thrills me to my soul.

God is in control.

So I now, I will take a deep breath (inhale)…

…And I will say that again

…and I will rejoice in it…

“Yes…Yes indeed. I have seriously and thankfully let myself go.”

 

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

Psalm 139:14

This is me. My five-year old daughter took this picture this past Friday while we were on a field trip. It’s the most recent image…not posed, not edited. Just Real.

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Two peas in a pod

Red Sea Rules- the same God who led you in will lead you out

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Deuteronomy 31:6

A dear friend of mine gave me a gift…and what a gift! She passed me a little book that she had been reading; it really is little; maybe about 6 inches by 5 inches. Wow, big things come in small packages.

I could write a full fledged book review here, but I am sure that there is another site out there for that. I will, however, summarize this little treasure and hopefully coax you into reading it, too.

I can imagine that you’re on the edge of your seat, with pen and paper in hand, waiting….What’s the name? Who wrote it?

The Red Sea Rules: 10 God-given strategies for difficult times by Robert J. Morgan.

I know that this isn’t a typical post from me- God willing, I will be back to writing soon. For now, enjoy these truths.

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Not just another “$500 Story”

I know that I have likely mentioned the Priscilla Shirer study One in a Million on more than one occasion. It was one that I did with a close friend at a time when I was walking through a wilderness in life. But, it’s in those wilderness places…in sometimes painful isolation…where we can hear God the clearest if we stop screaming long enough. I am thankful for that time and all of the many things God taught me while I was there.

In this study, Priscilla told of “The $500 Story”. When she was a child and her father (Tony Evans) was in seminary, times were tight. They were making due, but her mother cried out in tears one night because they were in need. 500 dollars. That’s all they needed to make ends meet. So, they went to the Lord in prayer. The next day, Priscilla’s father went to school and opened his on-campus mailbox….only to find a money order for $500. During this portion of the study, Priscilla said that her parents remember that story still today “as a sign of God’s hand on their lives during a wilderness experience.” She writes, “The story serves as a reminder of God’s faithfulness…and encourages them to rely on God in the good times and the rough, resting in the knowledge that God is always in control.” (from One in a Million by Priscilla Shirer)

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I have been a big advocate of writing down prayers and encourage people to make it a practice. Whether it’s a simple list that you pray over, or a specific prayer written like a letter to God himself- here is such a wonderful aspect of this practice that brings blessing upon blessing. Priscilla encourages us in this portion of the study to remember some “$500 Stories” that we can hang onto in the dry seasons. Keeping prayers in my journal makes those stories stand out. When God answers prayer, I go back in my journal and make note of how and what He did. Sometimes He answers in an unexpected way- but, He answers.

This week, I wanted to share one of those stories with you.

Last April, I had a routine medical test done. Nothing fancy, no special need or circumstance- just a test. Through a series of blunders (that I will gladly spare you from) I received a letter from our insurance company that they were declining to pay for that test. I was shocked. But, even more so- I didn’t know what to do. I started making phone calls and called upon my past experience as an insurance agent to get to the bottom of this matter. (Or at least try.) I thought the matter had been handled. However, this Monday- 4 days ago- I found out that it was not resolved. So here I am, staring down the barrel of a $2000 medical bill. And I realized something. I couldn’t remember ever praying specifically about this matter. I’d look through my prayer journals, but no…I really can’t recall a time. So instead of looking back, I decided to lean forward. I prayed.

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.

James 1:5-8

I needed wisdom. I relied on my own experience before and it got me nowhere. How did I not pray about this? “Ok…God…it’s yours.” I prayed and wrote it down in my journal. I prayed that God would place the right people in the way to see this situation clearly. It wasn’t just a financial perspective, there were other factors. I asked for the Lord to show them the whole picture. Furthermore, I didn’t want to ask Him to be completely off the hook for this bill. I knew that a service was rendered and that it is customary for that service to have a fee attached. I asked the Lord to somehow have that fee reduced so we could be responsible and pay for it. I prayed for the sweet lady I spoke with on the phone that day, Zineb. I prayed that she would be patient with me, and I with her. And I would reflect the character of Christ when speaking with her to resolve the matter. Then I closed my journal.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:6-7

Thursday, January 15th…three days later. Shortly before 3pm, I received a call from sweet Zineb. In response to the good news coming from her lips- the only thing I could say was “Praise the LORD!”. I thanked her for her willingness and diligence. God made a way. The bill has been reduced to $350. Instead of a $500 story- God gave me a $1650 story! I went to my prayer journal and wrote an answer and date on the page that contained the initial prayer and petition. Then I opened a fresh page to give thanks. Indeed. Praise the Lord!

And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.  You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.

John 14:13-14

SO THAT THE FATHER MAY BE GLORIFIED IN THE SON.

I am not telling you this because I am happy that my bill was reduced. I am not telling you because God was quick to answer. I am sharing this so you will know and understand how awesome God is and how much He cares. So that He may be glorified! And this is another story…another response to prayer that I will hold in my heart for the tough days. I know God is good. ALL THE TIME. I don’t want to be like the Israelites who wandered the desert and forgot one miracle after another. God provided- Always and often. Yet, they seemed to forget so quickly.

Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.

Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Psalm 37:3-4

No, God is not the slot machine that some preachers would make Him out to be. You cannot insert a prayer and pull the arm expecting prosperity and blessing. As for blessings: they don’t just come in the form of happy things and easy times. God blesses us infinitely through the trials and struggles we endure as we lean closer to Him. TRUST in the Lord…Take DELIGHT in the Lord. Your desire will be for Him and He will give you the desires of your heart and all to His glory.

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Romans 8:26-28

This year I challenge you to keep a prayer journal. It will not only encourage regular, dedicated time for thoughtful prayer –  but, will also serve as a reminder of His infinite mercy, provision, and grace and love in your life.

Joy to the World!

I just love this season.

When I look around our home, there are so many things that make me happy.

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Stockings hung with care

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Salt and Pepper Snowmen…

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…and window snowmen…

...and more snowmen.

…and more snowmen.

 

 

 

 

Their nativity...

Their nativity…

...and our nativity...

…and our nativity…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

...both displayed together.

…both displayed together.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A beautiful gift from a beautiful friend.

A beautiful gift from a beautiful friend.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A unique and vibrant nutcracker painted created with love by my son.

A unique and vibrant nutcracker painted created with love by my son.

But, most of all- I love the reason for the season…Jesus Christ. There is so much more to Christmas than giving gifts or even decking the halls with the trinkets around my home. They make me happy, but Jesus gives me true joy.

Jesus is the reason for the season and a relationship with him is the only source of true joy. 

Happiness is a response…joy comes from within.

For to us a child is born,

to us a son is given,

and the government will be on his shoulders.

And he will be called

Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,

Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Of the greatness of his government and peace

there will be no end.

He will reign on David’s throne

and over his kingdom,

establishing and upholding it

with justice and righteousness

from that time on and forever. Isaiah 9:6-7

wpid-20141218_094624.jpgMerry Christmas! From my family to yours.

Spiritual Winter

Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus or Lord.

His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.

Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

2 Peter 1:2-4

I know that I have not been writing as much lately. I think that I am in a “season”. I may even go as far as to say that it’s a spiritual Winter. There is a bitter nip in the air from time to time that causes discomfort and requires readjustment or extra layers. Tears freeze and cheeks chap. God is splitting logs…the left over dead wood from the last season…and has used that dead stuff to kindle a fresh flame. During this time, you snuggle up next to the fire and eat s’mores while enjoying warmth of a fleece blanket…wrapped in the Word. Getting full and fat. When you look out the window at the glowing, white wonder of a fresh powdery snow- there is a freshness. Something new on the horizon. With the knowledge that Spring follows Winter and so do vibrant blooms- I am going to enjoy this time. Things are not dead, they are just quietly rejuvenating.

Photo Credit: Brad Sadler

Photo Credit: Brad Sadler

Memory foam

Back-to-school shopping…let the games begin! Researching and searching, making a list and checking it twice, trying on and taking off. It’s a process-much like parenting itself; part trial-and-error, part purposeful and planned.

Yesterday, it was uniform shirts and dollar store school supplies…today it was shoes and haircuts. Shoes. Aisles and aisles of choices ranging from funky to functional. It was a bit overwhelming at first, but after I had their feet measured we set out on our mission as we meandered the stacks.

I can’t believe he was wearing shoes that were 2 sizes too small.image

Yikes. The prices are a bit steeper than I recall.

How did we do this without coupons on my smart phone?

I have to steer her from shoes that create lightning strike effects in the movie theater…can’t make that mistake again.

As I help her tie up her tennies, he slides in next to me with his choice. Red tennis shoes with black soles. Somewhat surprised by the choice, I approved. “Those are sharp! Go find your size and bring ’em over.” She springs from her stool and runs double-time down the aisle. “They feel soooooo good!”, she tells the whole store in all of her excitement. Memory foam  is written on the side of the box. What will they come up with next? When I was a kid the man on the commercial would have claimed that it was made with “space age polymers” or something.  It really is a neat idea.  Memory foam is manufactured to react with heat and mold to fit the surface (or in this case- foot) it is in contact with. Smart shoes that take on the form of the feet that wear them. Ok…we’ll try them.

Just then, he comes to me with shoe box. When he opened it, I noticed that it was not the pair he had shown me before.

“What happened to the others?”

“Well, I noticed the price and thought that it was a bit too high- so I put them back.”

“Honey, what’s ‘too high’ ?”

This opened up a beautiful discussion between mother and son that was absolutely wonderful. You see, he has been earning allowance for certain chores and we have been teaching him about tithing and stewardship in the process. Just two weeks ago, he wrapped up some of the change he had been saving and proudly made a deposit to his bank account. (At age 8 he says he is saving for a car. You know what? I bet he’ll meet his goal.)  When he looked at the original price on the box it was steep, indeed. He missed the sale price. But, it was a proud moment for me. I know some adults who don’t have the common sense and conviction that this kid had today. Even though it was not “his” money he was spending, he wanted to be a good steward. He was thinking of this little “team” of ours and not himself. My heart sprouted wings right there in the store.

When we calculate allowance we have a category marked “above and beyond”. This is for the stuff that he may take initiative to do without being asked. For example, one day he emptied the dryer and folded all of the clothes (and sorted them into piles!) because a shirt that he wanted was in that load of laundry. He did this on his own without instruction. He got “points” for that. Today, he showed a real effort to contribute to our household when he made that decision in the shoe store. We sat down with him later and talked about it. My hubby said he wanted to give him “above and beyond” points.

His response?

“Oh, I don’t want points for that. It was the right thing to do.”

I think another set of wings just sprouted from my feet! He is getting it!

He is understanding humility, sacrifice, stewardship and so much more.

I hate to say it, but sometimes I need some affirmation. I pray to God regularly and ask Him to guide me…I want to know that I am steering these kids the right way…HIS way. But, am I doing a good job? That moment of affirmation happened, standing among the stacks of boxes…the memory foam in this child is working. God is pressing on him. Hubby and I are pressing on him. He is being molded and that “memory foam” is holding its form.

I wanted to share this with you- not just to brag on my kid (although I am definitely proud!)- but, to give you some hope and encouragement. There are times when you may think that your efforts are in vain. Those days when you feel like you’re banging your head on the wall are getting closer together and you wonder why you’re talking…and if anyone is listening.

THEY ARE.

Keep praying for them. Keep talking. Keep modeling…because they’re watching.

And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.

Philippians 1:9-11

I pray this scripture for my kids often. I have it written on a card on my dresser so I can meditate on it. God is working. There is fruit here.

John 15:5 says:

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.

And that, folks, it just it…Apart from Jesus Christ, I can do nothing.

In study, in prayer, in daily scripture meditation, in application, by faith…through the Holy Spirit…I am being changed and transformed. I am a hunk of memory foam: my heart, mind and life. Whatever influence I invite to press upon me will be the very influence that molds me. I can testify to that- the good and the bad. I am renewed and redeemed.

So Mom and Dad, on those days when you are praying hard for your kids, maybe banging your head on the wall or sitting in your room crying…wondering if your kids hear….God gives strength to the weary.

Do you not know?

Have you not heard?

The Lord is the everlasting God,

the Creator of the ends of the earth.

He will not grow tired or weary,

and his understanding no one can fathom.

He gives strength to the weary

and increases the power of the weak.

Even youths grow tired and weary,

and young men stumble and fall;

but those who hope in the Lord

will renew their strength.

They will soar on wings like eagles;

they will run and not grow weary,

they will walk and not be faint.

Isaiah 40-28-31