Today I want to give you hope.
I know we live in a weary world. Holidays without our loved ones can be particularly sad. So can birthdays.
Birthdays have always been very special to me, all because of my mom. When I was little~apart from Christmas~she made every birthday the best day of the year. Even as an adult, she knew how to make it special.
My mom went home to heaven on November 3, 2003, one week before my birthday. My dad tried to continue my mom’s tradition. Back in 2020, I specifically remember sitting with him in church and talking about my upcoming birthday. It was only a month away, and he was already planning something. He had the sweetest twinkle in his eye as he talked about it.
Two days later my dad went home to heaven too.
2003 was a hard year. 2020 was a hard year, but it wasn’t a “hard” without a hope.
I have tried to make my own family’s birthdays just as wonderful as my parents made mine, and I love to wish everyone a Happy Birthday on their special day. Facebook is great that way. It reminds you who has a birthday, and gives you the opportunity to wish them a great one. Unfortunately you can also have many “friends” on Facebook that you don’t know much about.
This was my case when I wished someone birthday greetings, and their daughter messaged me back to tell me they had passed away. My heart sank. As she read each birthday greeting written to her mom, I am sure the tears fell. Her mom would never receive them.
Ever since then, I make it a point to check everyone’s status before any Happy Birthday wishes are sent, especially if I am not close friends with them.
Yes, birthdays and holidays without our loved ones can be sad, but God reminds me of another birthday. The birthday of His Son. It is only because of this precious sacrifice by our Savior, His ultimate death on the cross and resurrection, that we all can have another birthday. Not the physical day that we were born, but the day we were born again.
I am sure that many people who read my posts might label me one of those “christian fanatics”. Maybe I am, and I am ok with that. Because I fell in love with Jesus. And if you knew, if you truly knew His love for you and how He could change your life, you would fall in love with Him too.
And so, as the Christmas season is fast approaching, I want to check your “status” and my question for you is this, have you been born again? Because if you have, there is no fear in death. There is no sadness without hope, because the day that Jesus was born was the day He gave hope to all mankind. He was born to die. Not to live a good life, or be a great leader or do amazing miracles. He was born to die. For me and for you. And when He died on that cross and proclaimed to all the world “It is finished!”, it rang throughout eternity. The debt was paid for our sins. A debt we could not pay ourselves.
This Christmas, won’t you receive that gift from God? With a repentant heart, ask Him to be your Savior so that you can be born again. You can celebrate another birthday, a heavenly birthday.
And if you have already received that gift, help someone else unwrap its wonder. Share this good news of great tidings with others! God so loved the world that He gave his only Son, and the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord!
Do you know what’s wrapped up in that present? Peace, and joy, and love, and hope, and faith, and heaven, but more than all of that~ Jesus. Jesus is wrapped up in that gift for you. The very Son of God.
And the sweet grace, and hope, and mercy of it all is this~ God promises that once we are born again, we are His child forever. Nothing can separate us from His love. When our physical birthdays have come to an end, we will immediately be in the presence of Jesus.
My Jesus, who gave everything
for me. Jesus, our thrill of hope for a weary world.
John 3:3-7, 12, 15-17
Psalm 107:1-2, 8-9, 43
1 Thessalonians 4:13
1 Timothy 1:15
Romans 5:5-8, 11
1 Corinthians 13:13
Romans 8:31-32, 34-35, 37-39
1 Corinthians 15:55-57
How can it be Thanksgiving already?
The nostalgia of the season has come upon me.
I’m missing my loved ones. My grandparents, my parents, my best friend~ all gone on to heaven. I’m missing family gatherings full of aunts and uncles and cousins.
I’m missing my children being tiny little beings full of giggles, and cuddles, and adoration.
I’m missing the past.
The music, the decorations, the food and the memories.
When I was younger I was often told that time is fleeting. I didn’t really grasp the weight of those words, but as each year passes, that weight gets heavier and heavier.
With the beautiful falling leaves painting the barren earth, this truth hits me even harder. I watch each colorful leaf dance in the wind…and then blow away, and I think about the years of my life doing the same. Like a vapor. The wind takes the years. I try to grasp at them and hold them tighter. I don’t want to let them go. I don’t want to see my grandsons turn into little men so quickly, or my granddaughters into young women. I am selfish. I want them to stay their tiny selves just a little bit longer. My children grew up too quickly. And now my grandchildren are doing the same.
I remember last year, and the year before that… I had purposed in my heart to savor every minute. To slow down and enjoy the time with my children and their children.
And I did. I stopped the busy. I stopped putting my housework, my schedule and my to do’s before family. I dropped everything at a moment’s notice to spend more time with the most important people in my life. I cherished every single minute.
And yet, it did not make time slow down. Time was caught up in the wind. It danced and it was beautiful, and then it was gone.
And so, I am that grandma talking about time fleeting to my children. Telling my daughters to cherish every minute. To look into the eyes of their children and soak it in. To burn that moment onto her heart, because that moment will never come again. It will dance and be beautiful, and then~
it will become a memory.
I’ll be honest, as I pondered these thoughts this morning, I was saddened. My eyes filled with tears. I’m sure my mom passing away at only 63 plays a part in that. I am only 5 years from that very age.
And so, as I often do, I cried to Jesus. I shared my heart. And as I opened His word I told Him how incredibly thankful I was for this beautiful life He has given me…”But oh Jesus, it’s going by too fast. It’s disappearing before my eyes!” And my heart didn’t feel as thankful. It felt heavy. It will be Thanksgiving and then Christmas and then a New Year, and time will dance away from me like the beautiful leaves outside.
And just like He always does, Jesus gave me a word from His word.
“For my days are consumed like smoke, And my bones are burned as an hearth. My days are like a shadow that declineth; And I am withered like grass. But thou, O LORD, shalt endure for ever; And thy remembrance unto all generations. This shall be written for the generation to come: And the people which shall be created shall praise the LORD. Of old hast thou laid the foundation of the earth: And the heavens are the work of thy hands. They shall perish, but thou shalt endure: Yea, all of them shall wax old like a garment; As a vesture shalt thou change them, and they shall be changed: But thou art the same, and thy years shall have no end. The children of thy servants shall continue, And their seed shall be established before thee.”
Psalm 102:3, 11-12, 18, 25-28
“Like as a father pitieth his children, So the LORD pitieth them that fear him. For he knoweth our frame; He remembereth that we are dust. As for man, his days are as grass: As a flower of the field, so he flourisheth. For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone; And the place thereof shall know it no more. But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, And his righteousness unto children's children; To such as keep his covenant, And to those that remember his commandments to do them. The LORD hath prepared his throne in the heavens; And his kingdom ruleth over all. Bless the LORD, ye his angels, that excel in strength, That do his commandments, hearkening unto the voice of his word. Bless ye the LORD, all ye his hosts; Ye ministers of his, that do his pleasure. Bless the LORD, all his works in all places of his dominion: Bless the LORD, O my soul.”
The words leapt off the page. In that moment, the knowledge of God’s love for me transcended any words I might have had to try to convey the feelings of my heart. God knew exactly what I needed before I ever opened my Bible. And He told me~
My Jesus is eternal. He does not leave. He remains beautiful. Always present. Always with me. Life may change daily, fleeting and only leaving me memories, but my Jesus will never become just a memory, because my Jesus never changes. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. My constant. My joy. My truth. My life.
And as I strive to glorify Him in all I do, as I strive to live that life in front of my children and grandchildren, teaching them to make Him their everything~ He promises me that my children and my children’s children will be established and His mercy and righteousness will be upon them.
And my heart is overwhelmed with thanksgiving. It feels as if it could burst for the joy He has given me. The weight of the words that felt so heavy just a few moments before, now gave me promise. Yes, time is fleeting but Christ is my firm foundation. My cornerstone. A foundation that will never be moved. He is my forever. The joy He brings will never, ever, ever leave.
It will dance and be beautiful.
And it will remain.
For me, for my children, and for my children’s children.
Thank you Jesus.
Happy Thanksgiving dear friends!
Psalm 126:2-3, 5-6
1 Corinthians 3:11
2 Timothy 2:19
1 Peter 2:6
Ephesians 2:18, 20
1 Corinthians 2:9
Sometimes the hope we need for miracles in our own lives, come from the miracles and praises of others.
This is the season we will see countless posts and quotes about thankfulness. Why to be grateful and how to be thankful. They are all great reminders, but today I am not going to talk about any of them. Today I’m going to share some hope. Today I’m going to talk about my Jesus, and tell you how great our God is.
Ever since my dad passed away in 2020, my heart has struggled with holding on and letting go. Letting go of his belongings (right down to a little magnifying glass he used to read his prescriptions), letting go of his home, and holding on to memories. Every time I thought about selling his home, I cried. I couldn’t. It was a heavy, internal struggle to say the least. So I prayed.
And I prayed, and I prayed and I prayed, and I never felt a peace, and I never got an answer.
My son and daughter in law were living there during this time. It made my heart happy that family lived within the walls that held so many memories for me, so I continually pushed the idea of selling all the way to the back of my mind…
until the day they told us they were moving. I’ll be honest. I cried.
And then I prayed some more.
God had opened a door for my son that was literally a miracle. A dream house for them to be able to purchase. Something they had been praying about for a very long time themselves. And yet, in that moment I struggled. While they were getting their dream, I wanted to hold on to mine. Keeping a physical part of my dad for as long as possible.
God continued to nudge my heart though, so I continued to pray. I remember telling one of my children that I wished God would just audibly tell me what to do. Don’t you feel that way sometimes? I was scared. I didn’t want to let go.
I pondered all these things. I didn’t even talk to my husband about it.
It was a Saturday in August when it was particularly heavy on my heart. An answer needed to come. The home would soon be empty and the mortgage was high. I begged God that day to show me. I asked him for specifics. An exact request. The entire day went by without an answer and late that night, when I thought no answer had come, God surprised me. He literally answered the exact request I had prayed for.
I cried again. I don’t believe God speaks audibly to us, but in that moment it was as close to audible as you can get. He used His word. He used prayer. He used other believers. His Holy Spirit worked miracles through it all.
This might seem trivial to you, but it was heart wrenching to me.
Until God answered.
And suddenly, the peace He gave me passed all understanding. A peace that could only come from Him. God was telling me to sell.
Let me tell you what happened within the next 24 hours. We had 2 people interested in buying. And then, early Sunday morning I remembered that a friend of mine had asked me a year ago if I would be willing to sell. At the time I told her no. As a quick gesture, I let her know that I was now willing. Three interested people before we ever listed!
And just like that, 24 hours later, my dad’s home sold for our asking price. Not only did it sell, it sold to my sweet friend. She was just as happy as I was, and told me that she had been praying about it! I couldn’t imagine anyone else living there and loving it like my dad did. God put her name on my heart that Sunday morning.
Not only that, but my son and daughter told us they were expecting. After 5 heartbreaking years of trying, and praying and begging God, their miracle baby was here. They had a dream home and a baby coming.
And I wept and I wept and I wept.
God’s perfect timing was an understatement.
And today I want to praise him. Today I want to thank him. Today I want to give you hope~don’t stop praying and seeking and asking and begging…
And praising and thanking.
He truly is our God of miracles. He is my Father who understands my frail humanity and has compassion on my hurting heart. Who sympathizes with my inconsequential struggling and fear, in the midst of a world filled with far worse. And despite the innumerable prayers lifted up to Him from all over this world, He cares about me. He continually reaches down and pulls me close, whispering to my heart that He understands. That’s my God.
As hard as it is when you’re going through the process, don’t give up on Him. He knows exactly when to answer those prayers. Nothing is too big. Nothing is too small.
And when the answer comes, and it will come, thank Him. Praise Him.
And then, share that hope with the world.
Psalm 86:1-10, 12-13, 15
Psalm 88:1-3, 9, 13
Psalm 89:1-2, 5-8, 15-17
Ephesians 1:3-7, 12, 18-19
I love history.
Please don’t stop reading just because you think you don’t relate. I guarantee this applies to you. You love history too, you just don’t realize it.
Just a few weeks ago my husband took me on a dream vacation. It wasn’t Hawaii, or the Bahamas. It was Plymouth, Massachusetts, and I loved every single second of it.
To walk inside a reproduction of the very ship~the Mayflower~ that the pilgrims sailed over on, and to realize the hardships they endured was overwhelming. To stand in the very place our pilgrims landed was incredibly moving. To visit a recreation of the plantation those same pilgrims started, nearly half of whom died, was emotional and humbling.
But I was also saddened during our time there. We became aware that it seemed history was being rewritten in some areas we visited, and it really bothered me. It bothered me because I know…
I know we have written accounts, original manuscripts from the very pilgrims that landed here, and people are actively trying to change these accounts. The authors of the original manuscripts had no agenda. Their writings were personal journals for their own behalf, yet correlated completely with each other.
One day the next generation may view the beautiful history of our great country through a completely different lens. I want to be able to teach them the truth and to preserve that history. As I was saddened to ponder all of this, I thought about God and His word and my heart was filled with thankfulness.
Despite what the world might throw at us, despite what they say is truth, even though that truth seems to change on a daily basis, my God never changes. His word never changes. The same yesterday, today and forever. What joy and peace and comfort that brings to my soul.
And yes, that’s why you love history as much as I do, because God’s truths are our history. It’s in those truths that we receive the message of salvation and hope, of peace that passes understanding, of the terror of Hell, but the glory of Heaven. Of our God who has mercy and compassion and grace, and loves us no matter what. So much so that He gave His Son for us.
All of that history that was written years ago is the hope we all cling to today. Can you imagine life without it? Its promises give us comfort on our darkest days. We love every word, and it’s still the truth today. It’s still alive today. It will never change.
I will continue to teach my grandchildren the beautiful, sacrificial journey the pilgrims made and the blessing it is to live in this country, and worship God freely because of it. And I will continue to teach the next generation the beautiful, sacrificial journey our Savior made from His home in glory, so that we could have a home in heaven with Him one day.
I will cling to its truths, despite what the world claims is truth. I will hold it in my heart and lean on its promises.
As I stood at Plymouth Rock and my emotions swelled deep inside me, I couldn’t help but think of another rock. The solid rock. The truth I’m standing on. The rock that will never change, despite the storms that may surround us. It’s our cornerstone and foundation, and it’s the very rock that our pilgrims depended on as they set sail for this beautiful country we now have the privilege to call home.
Thank God for that history that is ours. Thank God the pilgrims chose to build their house upon THE ROCK.
2 Peter 1:19-21
2 Samuel 22:32
1 Samuel 2:2
Psalm 62:2, 6&7
Psalm 78:2-4, 6-7
This morning I realized that once again~amidst the chaos of life~ I have been seeking God only for His blessings, and not seeking God for God Himself.
Often we look at the word “blessings” and think about gifts, but God’s blessings come in many forms. In the ability to bring the needs of others to Him. In asking Him to give us wisdom on our path ahead. In countless prayers throughout our days. Yes, prayer is a huge blessing and lately, amid my rushed mornings my prayers have consisted of quick requests before starting my day. I wanted something from God without spending quality time with God.
But to truly know, love and seek Him~ that takes intention. It takes stillness. It takes the daily “to do” list out of the equation. It’s a blank slate and a heart seeking Jesus alone. No agenda.
This is something that seems to be a recurring issue with me. Life gets ahead of God. I can’t seem to turn my brain off to focus on Him, so I utter some quick requests and go about my day.
Please don’t misunderstand, I realize there are times that the busyness of life is completely out of our control, and in those moments all we can do is utter quick prayers to our Heavenly Father, but that hasn’t been my case. Yes life has been busy, but I have put many things before God. When I do this, His fruits seem to whither quickly and I feel farther and farther away from Him. Fruits like love, joy, peace, long suffering etc.
I notice myself getting irritable, and judgmental, overwhelmed and discouraged. I feel sorry for myself, I don’t think about others like I should. My identity in my Jesus becomes my identity in Charisse alone.
Just last week I had set up facial recognition on my phone. The very next morning it didn’t recognize me. As I stumbled into the bathroom in my sleepy state, I muttered “stupid phone”.
Then I looked in the mirror.
Sometimes I think we all need to take a good long look in the mirror.
When I get to the point where even my phone irritates me, I don’t recognize Jesus’ reflection looking back at me. I simply see Charisse. Grumpy Charisse. I need that time with Jesus. To push the world aside and just be wrapped in His presence. It’s in those moments that my love for Him grows stronger and my fruits bear His name.
This reminded me of a beautiful memory from year’s past. My husband coached soccer at our local public school for 15 years. One year stands out to me more than all the others.
It was almost Christmas. The soccer season was over, but one night there was a knock on our door. The captain of the team stood outside with a gift for my husband. The team had gotten together and purchased a beautiful soccer jacket with the word “coach” stitched on the front. A sweet, thoughtful, out-of-the-norm gesture that was completely uncharacteristic of high school boys. A lot of love was wrapped up in that special gift. Later that year at the sports awards ceremony, that group of “cool, popular” boys stood on the platform and weeped as they expressed their love for my husband. Just recalling these memories brings the tears. Many teachers told my husband later that they had never seen anything Iike it.
My husband was their coach. He taught them the lessons they needed to win. Those lessons weren’t always easy but those boys knew that my husband loved them and wanted the best for them~ because they spent so much time with him. Their hearts were changed because of it. They asked nothing of him, yet spending time in his presence taught them so much. And it showed. Love was reflected in them.
That’s what I want. My love for Jesus to be reflected back to a world that desperately needs Him just as much as I do. If you find yourself feeling far from God, irritable and judgmental, overwhelmed or discouraged~ maybe it’s time to push the “to-do’s” aside, intentionally spending time with Jesus, for no other reason than to just be with Him.
That’s a beautiful place to be.
John 15:4-5, 8-9, 11
Psalm 143:6, 8
Psalm 42:1-2, 8
Too often I think we take God’s word for granted.
When life is good, our bible can sit unopened for days.
When life is bad we want answers ASAP, and quite often look to the words of man over the words of God. We want to read a relatable blog post to help us feel better fast. Blog posts like I write every Saturday.
I truly believe that God can use humans to uplift, encourage and convict when needed, but I also want to remind you that God’s words are more powerful than any word man could ever write. They are definitely more powerful than any word I could write. My words are the bandaid. God’s words are eternal. They are the medicine that heals and transforms. They are power.
Today I want to share some of that power with you. A few weeks back, I woke up one morning and Psalm 23 was immediately on my heart and mind. That same morning~within the hour~ my daughter-in-law sent a text with a song she wanted to share. A song on Psalm 23. I knew God was speaking to me. I will be honest~this hasn’t been a “go-to” Psalm for me like it is for so many. It is such a familiar Psalm, probably one that many of us know by heart. I often overlook its familiarity. I shouldn’t.
And so, I got out concordances and study bibles to dig a little deeper. Today I would like us to take a closer look, because I know these words will touch EVERYONE’S hearts in one way or another. There is so much truth, power and encouragement packed into this little chapter tucked away in the book of Psalms. As you read each verse, let it truly sink in. Ask the Holy Spirit to let it change and transform you. It is a beautiful, powerful Psalm.
*The Lord is my Shepherd~ a Shepherd takes care of EVERY SINGLE need His sheep have. They are 100% dependent on Him. Philippians 4:19, Isaiah 40:11,
*I shall not want~ When I was younger, I used to think that this meant I shouldn’t want “things”, that I should be content with what I have. Now that I have lived life for almost 60 years, I understand it so much better. He has ALWAYS provided for me. I may not have felt it in the moment, but when I look back at every hard situation I have been through, God made sure I had everything I needed. Because He is our shepherd, He will make sure we have everything we need. We will want for nothing that isn’t absolutely needed. Psalm 37:25
*He makes me lie down in green pastures~ green pastures are lush. They are nourishing and they are comforting. When we abide in God’s word and trials come, the Holy Spirit will bring to our minds comforting scripture to help us get through it.
John 6:63, 14:26, 15:7
*He leads me beside the still waters~ sheep get startled easily, the presence of Jesus leads us to stillness and rest, away from the chaos and stress all around us and anything that might bring us fear. Revelation 7:17
*He restores my soul~ even the times we find ourselves fearful, or exhausted, He always restores us. “God can restore the joy of our salvation (Psalm 51:12) and bring us back to where we began believing in Him” Sarah Freymuth.
Philippians 4:13, Deuteronomy 31:6, Isaiah 40:31, 41:10, 2 Corinthians 12:9-10, Matthew 11:28, Psalm 31:24, 51:12
*He leads me in the path of righteousness for His names sake~ God will lead us on the correct path no matter how far we stray, all to His glory. “God’s glory is tied to His goodness, and God’s goodness is tied to His name” Sarah Frazer.
Psalm 5:8, Ephesians 1:18-19,
Isaiah 58:8, Psalm 31:3, 138:7, John 17: 15,17,22-23
*Though I walk through the valley, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me~ Our valley may be the darkest we have ever walked through, but we have the assurance from His word that there is nothing to fear because He is always with us. “Often, our next step isn’t walking forward; it’s remembering who God is.
God is loving. God is kind. God is patient. God is just. God is all-capable and all-knowing. God is forgiving. God is generous. God is good. Praying these truths about who God is will comfort us in our panic.”
Psalm 3:6, 27:1, Hebrews 13:5, Romans 8:38-39
*Thy rod and staff comfort me~ a rod and staff can be for chastisement, but also for leading and guiding. Whatever we are going through, it is ultimately used for our good. This verse takes us back to verses 2 & 3, almost as if we need to hear it again. He will lead us to the paths of righteousness, but He will also comfort us along the way.
*Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of my enemies~ who or what are your enemies? Your thoughts? Your fears? Your insecurities? Physical ailments? Unrest? People that continually hurt or anger you? Whatever that enemy is that is surrounding you, you can sit and eat at the table of God’s bounty, because He is sitting there with you. This is such a beautiful picture. I can almost see myself surrounded by war on every side, yet sitting at a feast in complete peace. That’s what God can do in our lives. That is powerful. Philippians 4:7, Proverbs 16:7, Isaiah 26:3-4,
*Thou anointest my head with oil~ Jesus has covered you in the anointing oil of prayer. What a beautiful thought. Jesus prays for us. Oil is also a symbol for rejoicing, gladness and God’s blessing in jewish society. Psalm 45:7, 104:15,
John 17:15, 17, 22-23
*My cup runs over~ we are blessed beyond measure, our cups run over with blessings if we will just open our eyes to see it. James 1:17
*Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life~ God’s goodness will always be with us. Always. Until we take our last breath. His mercy will always pour over us. His compassion and forgiveness will never cease. Psalm 78:38-39, Lamentations 3:22-23, Hebrews 4:16, Ephesians 2:4-7, 1 Peter 1:3
*And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever~ always with God whether here on earth or in heaven one day. An eternity spent with the One who loves us more than anything. John 5:24, Romans 6:23, John 1:12, Matthew 28:20
Such simple truths to cling to~ whether we’re laying in that lush grass of comfort and peace, or walking through the darkest valley~ they literally hold the answer to every circumstance we might face. Preach them to yourself often, dwell on them and hide them in your heart. Teach them to your children and your children’s children. Psalms 71:18, 78:4, 100:5, 102:18, 145:4
The Lord is my Shepherd.
Oh the sweetness that promise holds.
I have been reading God’s word since I was 12 years old, but I can remember my mom reading me Bible stories before I was ever in school. When I was younger, I used to think that the people God used were all flawless heroes of the faith. The older I get, the more my perspective has changed.
The ladies at my church are doing a Bible study right now on Women of the Bible. When you study 5 women each month, it really opens your eyes. God has taught me so many truths through this study. One that has stood out to me over and over is this~ throughout history He has used imperfect women to accomplish His perfect will.
Women just like me.
Women just like you.
And that gives me so much hope.
Homemakers and working women, servants and queens, teenagers and elderly, women of ill repute, and women immersed in the work of the kingdom. He never asks them to become someone they are not. He redeems, He indwells and He provides. He uses each one with their unique personalities, flaws and all. And that prompted my thoughts today.
God doesn’t want us to change our personalities to fit a cookie cutter mold of what the world thinks we should be, and He certainly doesn’t want us to change our personalities to a cookie cutter mold we THINK christian women are supposed to be. He wants us to be what His word tells us to be. He wants us to be us. He created us exactly the way we are, and He wants to use our unique personalities for His glory.
God created me with an introvert personality. I am a housewife and a homebody. And I love it. That is who He made me. He doesn’t want me to try harder to be an extrovert, or be disappointed in myself for not having a prestigious 9-5 job. There will be times that He asks me to step out of my comfort zone to better glorify Him, but He never requires me to be someone else.
Here is the thing I want you to get~you be you, not some version of what the world tells you to be.
My friend sent me a very revealing quote a few months back, and I’m just going to drop it right here because it says SO MUCH.
"We are the girls with anxiety disorders, filled appointment books, five-year plans. We take ourselves very, very seriously. We are the peacemakers, the do-gooders, the givers, the savers. We are on time, overly prepared, well read, and witty, intellectually curious, always moving.
We pride ourselves on getting as little sleep as possible and thrive on self-deprivation. We drink coffee, a lot of it.
We are on birth control, Prozac, and multivitamins.
We are relentless, judgmental with ourselves, and forgiving to others. We never want to be as passive-aggressive as our mothers, never want to marry men as uninspired as our fathers.
We are the daughters of the feminists who said, 'You CAN be anything,' and we heard, 'You HAVE TO be everything.'"
We continually hear the shouts telling us that we HAVE to be everything and if we aren’t, then we are flawed. Sometimes those shouts come from within us. You don’t have to BE EVERYTHING my friend. You just have to be you. All of that stuff, that’s what the world is constantly screaming at us. But that’s not what God is whispering to our hearts.
Let’s examine ourselves ladies. What are we passing down to the next generation? Because sometimes I believe we all are hanging on by a thread, instead of the hem of HIS garment. Do we really want our daughters and granddaughters to be the ones with all the issues wrapped up in that quote, or do we want them to be themselves~walking through each day with Jesus and wrapped up in Him~being exactly who HE made them to be.
We are being the example that they see. We are teaching them with our own behavior.
Are we always too busy? Are we always stressed? Are we trying to be too serious, too relentless? Are we too judgmental of ourselves? Are we even being ourselves? Are we happy? Truly happy? Can we be silly, and laugh, can we play and have fun, or are our busy lives consuming our every waking minute?
Is your life the life you wish for your daughter?
And so, I will repeat what I wrote last week- Who am I? I am crucified with Christ, yet not I, but Christ. I am me, the introvert, shy, wife, mom, grandma, pastor’s wife, homemaker and blogger. Exactly the person God created me to be. And my constant prayer will be that the life I live isn’t the life the world is screaming it should be, but it’s the life I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I pray all our lives can exemplify this to our daughters and their children.
I want to encourage you to always use the unique personality God gave you to glorify Him in every single thing that you do. That is my own prayer~
A flawed hero of the faith.
Just by being me.
2 Thessalonians 1:11-12
2 Corinthians 8:11-15
I barely came up for air when another wave crashed down upon me.
There had been a respite. I felt His peace, and relief swept over me. Trials seemed to be eased, and prayers answered. Until this week.
It wasn’t a horrible diagnosis, a job loss or a death. It was a small attack of satan in the middle of the night as I slept peacefully, completely unaware.
For the second time in a week, my Facebook account was hacked. Not only was it hacked, but the person posing as me posted evil pictures on my page, and in a chat. I woke up to a notification on my phone. Facebook told me I had violated their policies and I was locked out. I was sick inside. I couldn’t do anything about it. I couldn’t even defend myself. I couldn’t tell any of you, or ask for prayer.
I felt so confused inside. Was this Satan attacking me, or God trying to teach me something?
I prayed all day. I also tried to refute the issue, and somehow defend myself in order to get control back of my page. But at the end of the day, my weary heart realized it wasn’t in my control at all. It actually never was.
And honestly, Meta may think they have control, but God has the final say.
So I had to ask myself~ do I have enough faith to trust Him through this? What if Holding Hope disappeared? What if 12,000 followers became 1 and I had to start all over? What if I couldn’t use this platform to reach others again? What if God was saying “no” to me, would that be ok? What if the “busy” things I was complaining about in my heart last week were my reality this week?
I am not questioning God. I am asking Him for discernment and wisdom to know why this is happening. I am checking my own heart for sin. I am asking God to overcome the wicked one, and the darkness that seemed to have won.
It’s incredibly hard for me to be able to read the comments on my posts, comments asking for prayer or saying things are hard right now~and I am unable to respond. I am unable to encourage.
But, encouragement won’t end with me. If my page were to end today, God is faithful. He will send others to those in need of encouragement. I am reminded of my words from last week again. I am not God. God will be God, with or without me, and He will get the glory.
Satan may have attacked, but God has taught me so much in just a few short days. He is my light in the darkness. His light will continue to shine and He will prevail.
And if I am able, that is the message I want to leave with you. Whatever you are facing today, continue to pray through it. That is literally all I can do right now. Continue to check your own heart. Continue to ask God for wisdom and discernment. Continue to fight that darkness with Jesus’ light.
Even if you were falsely accused. Even if you can’t defend yourself. Even if you feel all is lost. Even when it looks like Satan has won and the winds and waves are just too much to bear, remember~ our God walks on water and our God walks on the wings of the wind. Our God is light in that darkness. Our God always makes a way.
This morning I came back up for air and the winds and the waves did not overcome. I could hear His very words~Peace be still.
And so I wait. As I write this I am still locked out, but I’m not alone. God is in complete control. None of this came as a surprise to Him.
You are not alone either. You are never alone. God is with you. His light will shine through your darkness. He will calm the storms around you and He will prevail when all seems lost.
Even in the unknown~The battle has already been won my friends, and Jesus is our Victor!!
Psalm 34:4, 6, 8, 15, 17, 19, 22
1 Corinthians 10:13
Psalm 35:1-2, 7, 9-12, 15-23, 25, 27-28
Psalm 36:5, 7, 9-11
Psalm 37:1, 3-7, 23-26, 32-33, 35-36, 39-40
Matthew 14:25, 27, 30-33
1 Corinthians 15:57
2 Corinthians 2:14
Why does life feel like a chore to me?
That was my first thought the other morning. I was tired before I even got out of bed. Not wanting to escape the warmth, I laid there thinking back to a time when I used to wake up excited about the day ahead.
What happened to that girl?
I thought I had it all figured out. I told myself there was just too much on my plate. Too much busyness. Too much weariness. My mind felt like there were a thousand things going on all at once, and I couldn’t make it stop. I wanted it to stop. It was exhausting me.
How do I find myself here again?
I don’t know how many blog posts I’ve written on this subject, and yet I fall prey to its defeat again and again.
Google tells me we have anywhere from 60,000-80,000 thoughts a day. We have 6-7 thoughts per minute. 95% of our thoughts are repetitive, and 80% are negative.
Why is that?
What feeds that negativity?
The world tells me busy is better. It chides me to do it all. I work part time from home. I also have a stitching business. I over stress trying to be a good wife, mom and pastor’s wife. I hold Bible studies and ladies meetings. I schedule and teach and study and pray. I write a blog and run a Facebook page. I create more content, to gain more followers, to encourage more ladies, to have more hope.
But somehow along the way, I continually seem to lose my own hope under a pile of busy.
And that’s when the devil tells me that I am failing. He convinces me that I don’t want to be a pastor’s wife with ministry responsibilities, I just want to be a plain old wife. I don’t want to create posts or write a devotional every single week. I just want to scroll and be fed by someone else.
I just want to be me.
I just want to not have to think.
And I will be honest ladies, that morning I told God ALL of that. I tried telling Him that I am a homebody, an empathetic introvert who wears other’s heartaches on her sleeve.
“Don’t you know this is all too much for me?” I asked.
As if He doesn’t know me.
And that’s when the Holy Spirit revealed to me that my thoughts had gained control over my heart. My busy schedule and commitments overwhelm my soul. What “new” message of hope I can give to my followers constantly captures my thoughts. The heartache of others is continually on my mind. I find myself thinking about ALL of these things more than I think about GOD Himself.
In fact, I’m sure it would be safe to say that 80% of my thoughts are “busy” thoughts, maybe more. That means only 20% of my thoughts are being still with God and thinking about Him. And therein lies the problem.
Life has become a chore because I’m not dwelling in His presence and it’s only in His presence that there is fullness of joy.
I am trying to be God, instead of resting in Him, surrendering all my thoughts, and days, and moments to Him.
I was “taking the yoke”, but I forgot about the “learning” part.
That morning Jesus told me~”Take my yoke upon you and LEARN of ME. If you do this Charisse, you will find rest for your soul.”
When will I learn? Probably never, this side of heaven. But I sure am thankful for a God who doesn’t give up on me. His mercies are new every morning.
The busy won’t ever stop. Life is filled with it. It will continue to pile up, but instead of being under that weight~ we can be on top of it, if we will just learn from God.
What have I learned?
Here are just a few takeaways~
*To wake up and rejoice before I get out of bed, thanking God immediately for the day ahead, and all He has blessed me with.
*Pray about everything, all day long. If a thought comes into my head and I start trying to figure out my own solution, I’ve got to stop. I have to pray about it, because let’s be honest~ God’s solutions are so much better. When I do this continually it helps me to cease from “Charisse’s” works and focus on God. That’s when I find rest.
*I meditate on God’s words throughout the day. When I think on God’s words, it pushes the busy right out of my brain. My thoughts are on God, and His peace tells me that He is in control and will take care of whatever has me stressed, anxious, heartbroken or fatigued. His words comfort me and He calms that storm inside my head.
*Learn from Jesus. He continually got alone with God. The insurmountable love and burden for a sinful, fallen world was completely on His shoulders and yet, He took the time to rest and be still with His Father.
Imagine if our repetitive thoughts~ the ones that take up 95% of our waking moments~ were transformed to think about God and His promises to us?
He wants us to rest, but that doesn’t mean He wants us to stop. That voice that’s telling you to quit is from Satan. God’s voice tells us~ Be still. He is God. We are not.
Life isn’t a chore. It’s a blessed,
joy-filled opportunity to be about our Father’s business. Google might tell me otherwise. The world tells me “I” have to do it all. The devil tells me that “I” am not cut out for the ministry and convinces me that~”I just want to be me, plain old Charisse”~ but GOD…
Who am I with God? I am crucified with Christ, YET NOT I, but Christ…
In the multitude of my thoughts within me, His comfort delights my soul.
Psalm 16:7-9, 11
A bit of sadness awaits me, just around the corner. It’s hovering there in the autumn winds, like a storm rolling in. I don’t think about it, I just feel it in my bones.
Autumn is one of my favorite times of the year. As a child, the fall months seemed to make me thrive. They brought me joy. There was such a freedom, running around in the crisp air as vibrant leaves showered the earth with color. I absolutely loved everything about fall.
I still do, but 50+ years later, heartache upon heartache has changed the way fall feels for me.
I can’t escape it. I can’t pretend it didn’t happen. I don’t even think about it, I just feel it.
On two separate occasions, it was during the autumn months that heartbreaking betrayal left me in darkness. Darkness that lasted a long time. It was also a crisp November morning, one week before my birthday, that my mom passed away suddenly. It was in early October, just three years ago, that my dear friend went home to heaven. The very day after his funeral, my precious dad passed away unexpectedly as well. And this year, my sweet friend found out she doesn’t have long to live.
As the cozy fall vibes splash across social media and I’m reaching for my blanket on chilly nights, all of these moments whisper on the winds. My mind goes there without me even thinking about it. I miss my loved ones. I miss the years that were taken as I tried to dig myself out of a dark pit. I miss a future with my friend.
A few months after my dad passed away, I remember laughing for the first time. Truly laughing. And immediately after the laughter, sadness engulfed me.
Because I remembered.
I ask myself, can I have joy and sadness at the same time? Will I ever be free in the fall months to thrive like I did when I was a child? Will this heaviness that the sadness brings ever feel lighter?
I am absolutely sure of one thing, the answer is yes. God wants me to have joy. Satan wants to rob me of that joy.
I long to be oblivious like the rest of the social media world seems to be. I want to turn on football games, get out those cute fall boots and put on a cozy sweater. I want to drink pumpkin spice “everything”, and smile as I gaze upon the beautiful colors of God’s masterpiece falling from limbs in the sky.
Like nothing bad ever happened.
With God’s help, I still can.
You can too ladies.
When heartache grips us, often our humanity does too. We remember. We want things to be like they were when our hearts were free, before the sadness came. We want to hold on to the comfort that once was. Because of this, we are incapable of moving on past the heartache without the help of the Holy Spirit. But when we ask the Holy Spirit to fill us and to empower us, we can readily apply God’s word to our broken hearts.
His words that tell us to forget those things which are behind. That the devil comes to steal and destroy, but that the joy of the Lord is our strength. To lay aside every weight that we carry on our shoulders and look ahead at Jesus.
And that is exactly what I am doing.
I know God understands our humanity. Paul reminded us with the words~”as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing”. Jesus Himself wept, even though He knew the joy that was coming. There will always be sorrow on this earth, because sin brings sorrow. We are born into that darkness, but God is our light. I know that He knows when our hearts are hurting and I believe that yes, we can have joy and sorrow at the same time. We can because as a believer, our sorrow isn’t without hope. We can because our joy isn’t found in the temporary, it’s found in the eternal and even though our weeping may last for a moment, our eternal joy will last a lifetime.
Just like the wind takes hold of all the beautiful leaves and showers the earth with color, the wind seems to have taken the beauty of my “befores” that I once held so close.
But my God walks on the wings of the wind!!
And I know that if He had never taken some of that beauty from my life, He couldn’t use me to shower the earth with its vibrant colors. Colors of encouragement for others. Colors that hold Hope.
I’m not going to lie and say I have been miraculously changed, and the sadness is gone. My humanity wants my life to stay beautiful. Not to change. Not to lose its vibrant colors and the comfort of my “befores”. I read a great quote this week that said~”Looking back doesn't enable us to go back, and more times than not, it just makes us stuck”*. It’s a daily (sometimes hourly) battle to hand that heaviness over to Jesus. But when I truly do this, when I pray and ask Him to take it~because I can’t seem to let it go, I find freedom. And in that freedom, I find joy.
So today, join me as the tears fall, but our hearts smile. Take my hand~
Let’s walk with our great God on the wings of the wind.
“Who walketh upon the wings of the wind:” Psalm 104:3
John 15:9, 11
John 16:22, 24
1 John 1:4-5
Psalm 94:17, 19
2 Corinthians 6:10
1 Peter 1:8
Romans 15:13, 32
I’ll never forget the evening I was cleaning the restrooms at our church. I was all alone. My dad had just passed away, and my heart was hurting deeply. I was crying pretty hard, when a couple from church happened to show up. It wasn’t planned. They didn’t know I was there. They came to clean too. I tried to gain my composure before they saw me. When they did, she smiled~until she realized I was crying. And then she hugged me. She didn’t speak, she just allowed me to cry. She knew, because she had been down this path herself…
My husband has pastored here in our little town since 1995, and even though our church is small, we have had a very large amount of heartache. One of the hardest things about ministering in the same place for so long is having to see our dear ones go through this heartache~
or having to say goodbye to them as they leave this earth.
I honestly think the ladies that have graced the hallways of my little church are super heroes. So many of my sisters in Christ have literally been through horrific heartache and trauma, and yet they stand faithful in their walk with God.
I have seen their children, young and old, taken from this world. I have seen spouses suffer and die. I have seen illness and disease invade their fragile bodies. I have seen precious memories lost to dementia. I have seen infertility and miscarriage. I have seen abuse and infidelity. I have seen marriages end. I have seen wayward children and financial loss. I have seen their pain over and over again.
And I have seen their light shine. Their smile. Their praise. Their faithfulness. Their strength. And I am undone. I am in awe. Because I know it can only be of God.
And then there is me. I am not strong.
My heart feels it would crumble when faced with similar circumstances. I get scared, anxious and even depressed. I am an introvert. When heartache hits home, my personality wants to hide. I don’t want to be with people. I don’t want to talk about it, and I don’t want to pretend I’m okay in public. Too often, I fake it.
It’s much easier for me to talk about heartache when I can hide behind a laptop screen. I can encourage, but also allow the tears to flow. But when I am in the middle of that pain, it’s much harder for me to be an encouragement and show up, let alone talk about it face to face.
But my ladies have shown up.
They have talked about it.
And I have listened.
The ladies of my church have forged through the deep and dark. They have left a clear path for me to walk through. They have stood on the other side smiling back at me, shining their light as a beacon of hope and encouragement.
Some have left and gone home to heaven, but they were faithful until their last breath. Others are here with me still. Still fighting the battle.
Still smiling. Still praising…
I don’t think they know how much of an impact they have had on my life. They cheer me on and are living testimonies of God’s words without even realizing. God’s words that proclaim~
When I am weak I am strong~
The peace that passes understanding~
I will send you a comforter~
I will never leave you or forsake you~
All things work together for the good~
Let your light so shine~
Comforting others the same way God has comforted you~
Pressing toward the mark and standing on the Rock~
And having done all… to stand.
And I know, that if they can do it, I can too. I can be strong through Christ. Their strength gives me strength. I can have the peace that passes understanding. I can be comforted and be a comforter. I can let my light shine, and stand when I think I am too weak and will surely fall.
That’s why it’s so important to stay in God’s word, continually talking to Him and being reminded of His promises. And that is why it is so important to have precious godly friends. Friends that lean into the arms of Jesus, and then draw you in with them. Friends who pray for you and encourage you in your pain. Friends who have walked through it, and sit with you in it.
And that’s why it’s so important to encourage others if you have already gone down that path. So that you can always remind them~
We can’t do this life without Jesus, but with Jesus~ nothing is impossible.
And so, I look at my own heart. What kind of friend will I be? What kind of friend will you be? Will we lean into Jesus or hide our light in the loneliness of despair?
Of this one thing I am sure~ someone out there needs your light. Someone needs your testimony. Someone needs to walk behind you and know in their desperation that, with God’s power they will make it. Someone needs to see you leaning into Jesus and someone needs you to pull them in with you. To encourage and cheer them on. To smile and reach out your hand from the other side. Someone needs you.
We just have to show up.
2 Corinthians 12:9&10
2 Corinthians 1:3-5
1 Thessalonians 5:11-13
“Pain has a purpose.”
When I am in the middle of heartache, I don’t want to hear that. There have been seasons in my life where I could not see any purpose in the pain I was going through, because I allowed Satan to tell me otherwise. Times I thought that perhaps God was punishing me, or felt as if God was nowhere to be found. Thoughts based on feelings, and not God’s truth.
As a pastor’s wife and child of God I always felt it was my “job” to encourage. My life should be a picture of joy and happiness, a light shining for the world to see. And so, for a very long time I kept my pain neatly tucked away, deep down where no one could see it except Jesus.
But then God told me to start this Facebook page.
Suddenly I am sharing my life with the world. An open book. And I am vulnerable. But I do it. And the more I share, the more I see the purpose. God never asked me to hide my pain. I believe He wants me to share it so that others going through similar heartache can know, they are not alone. I can honestly cheer you on and tell you~“You can do this!!”
Because with God’s help, I have.
It has caused me to pray and trust God more than ever before. When I am in the middle of a really hard season, this page has made me realize that my journey hasn’t just been about heartache. My life has had so much beauty, beauty that far outweighs the pain. Beauty that tips the scales.
Satan doesn’t want me to realize that.
He doesn’t want you to realize it either.
Within the last two weeks, three major prayer requests of mine have been answered. I had been praying for one for over 6 years. I had been praying for one for over 6 months and I had been praying for one for over 6 weeks. The days and weeks leading up to these answers were absolutely brutal, but God answered in phenomenal ways.
”Fall to my knees, miracle working” ways. I felt like a child at Christmas. Tears were shed. Praises were said. I could not stop thinking about how awesome God is.
Only seven short days later.
I don’t know if it was fatigue. I don’t know if it was hormones. I don’t know if it was just the fact that all those buried emotions came to the surface~ but I could not stop crying. I tried to read my bible. I tried to pray, but the tears continued to flow. Not good tears. Not happy tears. Sad, mixed up, ‘filled with lies’ tears. And I realized right then and there that this life is a continual battle. That our armor has to always be on, because Satan will always attack, especially when we are feeling weak.
He knows just how to get to me. My weakness is my thought life. He plants the thought, and I am so naive that I just continue to water it. It gets bigger and bigger until I am convinced it is true and I can’t get past it. I think that I can’t pray because my heart isn’t right, and I find myself stuck in a mess of my own making. In a moment of weakness I have forgotten all of God’s goodness and believed all of satan’s lies.
And I’ll be honest, after months of “hard”, I am tired. I don’t want to fight. I don’t want to be in this battle. My brain is frazzled and I don’t want to think about anything. I don’t want to pray in these moments. I don’t want to get into God’s word. I want to sit on my couch, binge watch a show and eat ice cream.
Heres the truth ladies~
WE HAVE TO FIGHT!
Here’s another truth~
God wants us to have joy,
Here’s another truth~
God’s words are power. Prayer is our life line. God has answered countless requests, He has come through for us time and time again. He has given us beauty from ashes. He has never left us. He has loved us more than life itself.
The VERY life of His Son.
That is true love…
A week ago we took our 6 grandchildren up north for a little getaway. The days were filled with fun and laughter, lots of hugs, kisses and snuggles, but when bedtime came, so did the tears. Two separate nights, two of my grandchildren could not sleep because they were scared. They were scared because they were laying in bed allowing their thoughts to run rampant. I didn’t get mad. I held them close and allowed the tears to come, and then I asked them if the things that were making them scared were true. They knew they weren’t. I asked them if God wanted them to be sad. They knew He didn’t. I told them only the devil wants you to be scared and sad, not God. He wants us happy. And I told them to tell that devil to get lost, because God was with them. I encouraged them with something I used to tell my own children~to lay in bed and think about God’s goodness and all the wonderful, happy moments He has given us.
Like Christmas morning. Like Jesus.
It seemed too easy, but they were smiling and ended up falling right to sleep.
Because that’s what child like faith looks like.
And I wan’t to always have that kind of faith.
I might not ever know the purpose behind some of the pain I have walked through, but I do know this. I never walked alone. It may have been an extremely lonely journey at times, but God never left my side. He didn’t get mad when I was scared and crying. Instead, He reminded me of His truths. Powerful truths to fight the lies. And when my focus turned to His truth, my heart could dwell on His goodness to me, and help me to remember all the beautiful ‘Christmas morning’ moments of my life.
I want to encourage you today to keep fighting. To keep speaking God’s truths over satan’s lies. To remember how much God loves you and how He wants your life to be filled with joy. Don’t believe the lies ladies. Don’t fall into the same trap I did. Stop trying to figure out the purpose and just dwell in His presence. Once you do, you will see the path He has for you and realize that’s exactly where your fullness of joy is found.
I desperately want you to know that there is beauty on the other side, and maybe one day the story of your pain will bring hope to others. You will cheer them on with the words~
”You can do it!!”
Because through God’s power~
You will know that you already have!!
Psalm 16:11, 27:11-14, 34:19
Romans 8:18,24-39, 15:13
2 Corinthians 1:3-4, 4:16-18, 12:10
1 Peter 4:13
2 Timothy 4:5
In the last few months my prayer life has been utterly chaotic. I’m a list girl and a homebody. I like simple days where I check off my to do’s and feel a sense of organized accomplishment at the end of that day. I’m sure it’s a control issue, and not always very realistic.
Ideally, I like to start each day spending time with God. Getting my coffee. Sitting in bed, reading His words and praying. Something in me craves this early morning organization and quiet. When painful, busy, heartbreaking moments hit day after day and that control and quiet is suddenly taken from me ~ I begin to get desperate. I find myself crying and telling God I can’t do it. I’m too tired. I am depleted. I need rest. I need just a few moments alone with Him. And in my self pity, I neglect to see that God has orchestrated all of this chaos for my good.
Even when it feels far from good.
Several months back I decided to be more committed to prayer throughout my day. My phone has always been a distraction to me, and I wanted to put it to better use. I changed the pictures on my lock screen so that a different picture continually pops up. I chose beautiful beaches and sunsets as the back drop, and then added names or groups to each picture. All of my children and their spouses. My grandchildren. Our church family. our extended family, etc. Each time a different name popped up, I would pray for that person/persons.
I was vigilant in the beginning, but as my days of ease and comfort crept by, I didn’t always pray for the person on my screen when I picked up that phone.
Until life turned upside down.
Week after week went by, and due to hard and sometimes heartbreaking circumstances beyond my control, organized time with God became almost obsolete. I found myself asking God why. I found myself losing hope. I found myself crying and wondering how this could be for my good when I couldn’t even spend time with Him.
And then God showed me.
Throughout the hard days and weeks and months, I had prayed to God more than I ever did before. It wasn’t neatly
organized with my bible and coffee cup in hand, it was desperation. It was heavy. It was chaotic. It was continual. It was pleading. It was lamenting. It was crying. Every time I picked up that phone and read the names there, it was consciously begging God to help, and comfort, and work miracles.
Did my miracles come?
Were my prayers all answered? No.
I am still begging and lamenting and crying out to Him,
but now I am also praising.
Because the more I cried out to Him, the more I felt His presence. He took me and wrapped His arms around me and held me. He has walked with me through the chaos. I have never been alone. He let me cry. He let me lament. He allowed me to ask all the “why’s” and in His sweet, tender mercy and grace~ He loved me and drew me in even closer. And as my minutes of chaos pass each day, I feel His peace with me like I never have before.
Maybe you’re going through a time like this yourself. Maybe you’re wondering where God is in all of this.
He has never been closer. He’s always been right there with you.
He’s walking behind you to catch you when you fall, he’s walking with you so that you can lean on Him when you’re weary and He’s walking ahead of you, continually making sure your path is an easier road to travel.
Amid the chaos and pain, we may not even realize it, but minute by minute He’s taking our burdens on Himself.
Life would be so much harder without Him. Sometimes we just can’t see that.
Today I want you to take His hand as He leads you through your chaos. Lean on Him and tell Him all about it. All throughout your day continue to talk to Him~ wherever you are, whatever you are doing. You will feel your burden become lighter, even when the chaotic circumstances around you have not changed.
And you will know.
It’s all because of Him.
Jesus never told us to come with our prayer journal neatly situated on our lap, coffee cup in hand and worship music playing softly in the background. There are no special requirements needed for coming into His presence, except to just come. Wherever we are.
Whatever we are doing.
His presence will overwhelm your tired soul with hope, and give you unimaginable peace again.
Psalm 139, 145:18-19
1 Peter 1:3-9
Every new step into our children’s future brings them excitement. Maybe a little trepidation, but excited trepidation (if there is such a thing).
And every new step into our children’s future brings us mamas a little bit of pain. We see their excitement and we are so happy for them, but our hearts break just a little bit with each step they take.
When they’re an infant, we think we want them to take those first steps but the minute they do, we’re missing our little baby. Because once they take that first step, they don’t stop. Life goes on, faster and faster.
You feel as if they are running and your heart is whispering, slow down. Please slow down.
From elementary to junior high to high school to drivers permits and licenses to college applications and packing up their things. And then to driving off.
They can hardly sit still. You see the future in their eyes, but you also see your past. Your baby. You smile with them, but you feel it deeply.
They are leaving. And as you watch them drive away your heart is screaming. Slow down.
Mamas everywhere are saying goodbye to their babies right about now. After a year of non stop craziness, they are suddenly left with a quick hug outside a packed car or dormitory far from home.
And for a brief moment, you see it in their eyes. 18 years of emotions flooding to the surface. Because in that moment they realize who you really are and who you have always been and a part of them doesn’t want to let go either. A tear may sneak out and a whisper of “love you’s” might follow~ but then, it’s over.
They turn and they’re gone.
I remember all of it. All the tears and all the emotions and all the excitement and all the pride. Like it was yesterday. I remember thinking they were gone for good. This was it. But it wasn’t.
And it isn’t for you either mama
Because they will ALWAYS remember who you really are and who you have always been and you will always be “home” to them. You will always be love. You will always be comfort. You will always be a needed hug and a shoulder to cry on and a recipe to share and the doctor when they don’t want to call the doctor. You will always, always be mom and they won’t ever forget.
Because they will always be your baby.
I am scared.
And I can’t process it.
Countless times in my past I always knew God was in control, despite the pain I might have been going through at the time. Trusting God hasn’t been an issue for me. My faith has always felt so strong.
But somehow, this time is different.
Awaiting an answer to prayer.
And if it is the answer I don’t want to hear, I’m afraid I won’t trust God when I hear the outcome.
Because I won’t understand why.
And it’s breaking my heart.
I want to trust. I want to have faith, but just thinking about one resulting answer as opposed to another, and the pain it could bring, brings me to my knees.
My faith has never been challenged so deeply. My stomach feels sick and my heart races. How can the days of waiting seem like an eternity, yet too fast all at the same time? Waiting and praying and begging God.
And the fear.
I thought I had so much faith, but this has done me in. I am truly scared.
Because what if God’s will is not what I had so desperately hoped for?
Will I still love Him? Will I trust Him? Will I be able to glorify Him still, or see that somehow it’s for my child’s good? It doesn’t feel good.
Even as I write these words, through tears my heart is saying I won’t.
And that terrifies me.
In all my 57 years, I have never been at a crossroads like this. I have written countless posts on faith and trust, on God being in control and the peace that passes understanding, but this time. This time I feel completely at a loss. My faith is smaller than a mustard seed, like a dust particle floating past me. I keep trying to grasp at it, but it disappears. No words seem to comfort me in this moment. No scripture seems to bring peace. And even though I don’t know the outcome, I find myself asking God why.
Because, as desperately as I am trying to hold on to it, my hope has slowly been fading away. Just like my faith. A tiny particle that I can’t seem to grasp.
So, why write a post like this? Because I want you to know that just like the Psalmist David, sometimes all we can do is cry out to God. Pour our hearts out to Him and leave it all there. We might not know how to go on from here. We might feel hopeless and alone, even desperate…
In this moment, that is how I feel. Maybe you feel this way too. All I can do is to keep crying out to Him. I won’t stop. I might not understand any of this, and maybe all my heart can do is cry, but I will cry to Him. I might feel like He isn’t listening. That He doesn’t love me. That He doesn’t care, but I won’t stop calling out His name. I won’t stop.
I will remember His promises. I will remember the thousands of times He has come through for me. When I reach the other side of that outcome, whatever it might be~ I won’t stop. Because if I did, I let Satan win. And if it isn’t the answer I longed for and I cannot trust my emotions, in my weak and feeble state I will trust His word. I will repeat it over and over and over to my broken heart. I will speak its truth into my unbelief.
And as the sunshine streams across my tear stained face, I will open my eyes and see. Thousands of dust particles floating in its brilliance. And I will fight to remember. Jesus, my Hope~ He has always been faithful. I don’t have to grasp at those particles. They surround me because The Son’s presence surrounds me. I will whisper His name continually through the tears.
I won’t stop.
And that tiny dust particle is enough.
Whatever you are going though.
Your tiny dust particle is enough.
Psalms of lament~ 6, 13, 22, 25, 28, 31, 38, 40, 42, 46, 55, 56, 69, 71, 77, 86, 88, 102, 130, 139, 142, 143
2 Corinthians 1:3&4
Psalms 31:16, 37:5&6, 67:1,
I started crying in Walmart the other day. Something I did not expect.
It was just a quick trip in for a few things. I was almost finished when I looked up, and for a split second I felt a thousand emotions flooding my heart.
I saw an older man approaching.
His hair. His shirt. His shorts. Even his shoes. In that split second I thought it was my dad. I couldn’t look away. I wanted it to be my dad. I even walked closer. Almost hoping. My brain knew my dad was gone, but my heart wanted it to be him so badly that it fooled my brain into thinking it could be.
In one split second.
And then the emotions flooded me with the reality that it wasn’t and the tears came. I quickly turned down an aisle to hide my hurt~
but even now, several hours later I can feel its tug, and the tears keep returning.
It was so real to me.
My dad has been gone for almost three years and yet, out of the blue the grief will hit. A place. A smell. A song. A memory. I’m transported to childhood memories. The waves of it all will crash over me and my heart yearns to step back in time and relive the beautiful moments I had with him.
That’s what grief feels like when you love deeply, but even more important~ that’s what it feels like to BE loved deeply.
Grief is a road with many turns. It has been unexpectedly hard for me. I thought I was mentally prepared, I had already lost my mom and experienced that heartache. But dad’s home going hit me differently. Nostalgia visits often. Unexpected tears are frequent and frustration over the comments people make has been politely hidden away. Comments like “You should be thankful for the time you had, and the memories you made”.
When grieving moments hit me, I couldn’t find the thankfulness in the reminders.
Somehow, at some point my grief had been wrapped up inside the arms of Jesus and transformed into genuine, beautiful thankfulness.
That’s what Jesus does.
I realized as I stood on my dad’s porch that my heart felt a true joy and happiness, and I was so incredibly thankful.
And now when I think back to my moment in Walmart, I know why.
I was thankful because I was loved so deeply. What a beautiful gift God gave me. That hurt that runs so deep, that longing to see my dad again, the tears and the memories the smells and the places, all of these are a byproduct of being loved deeply.
Does this realization make the pain go away? No, but it somehow makes it easier. And it makes me thankful. A year ago I don’t think I could have said the same. I didn’t want to be thankful for “what was”.
I just wanted my dad back.
I won’t tell you how to grieve. No one should. It’s a journey all your own.
But I will tell you this.
Grieve with God.
Despite what others thought of my grieving process, despite being told how I should feel, despite feeling alone and misunderstood, God knew. God understood. He never left my side. He allowed me to grieve in my own way as I leaned fully into Him and asked over and over if He would wrap his arms of peace and comfort around my tired, hurting heart.
As crazy as I must sound, I wanted to run toward that man in Walmart. It is unreal what the pain of grief can do to us. And that made me think of heaven. Entering glory. Knowing the love I have for those who have gone on before me, but more importantly~ knowing how much I was loved BY them.
And there is no greater love than the love of Jesus. Not only will I get to run and hug my mom and dad. I get to hug Jesus.
With joy, He endured the pain of the cross because He loves me so much. Because He loves you so much. And because He endured that pain, our pain is only temporary. We will one day be united with our loved ones again. All those who have put their faith and trust in Him. The Bible tells me that one day, because of God’s love and redemption, when I take my last breath I will immediately be in the presence of Jesus.
In one split second.
What a difference a second came make.
Today, I can smile through the tears. I can laugh with joy. God entered into my grief with me, and as much as I miss my dad, the gift of being loved is one of the greatest gifts God has blessed us with. I will hold on to that gift and cherish it, and my heart will be filled with thankful praise.
Let’s think outside the box today. What is your enemy/enemies?
Notice I did not ask “who” your enemy was.
Quite often we find ourselves in circumstances beyond our control. Those circumstances cause our hearts to be heavy and our thoughts to spiral, so we look for things to blame for those circumstances. A person that hurt us. A health problem. A financial scare. Watching those we love suffer.
Such has been my case for the last few months. My adult children have been suffering, and I’ll be honest~it’s been way too hard. Anxiety and sleeplessness have prevailed. Countless tears have been shed. It’s been discouraging and frightening. It’s been physically and emotionally draining.
It’s been me trying to blame the circumstances and problems for all the emotions I just listed.
The reality is, the problem has been in my head. The multitude of thoughts within me have been on the problems instead of God’s promises.
I realized that this morning. My reading was Psalm 1-8. Very familiar passages. Because I have read these chapters so many times, I actually had the fleeting thought that they would not bring me the comfort I was desperately needing today. But just like God always does, my eyes were opened once again.
Let me break it down for you.
Psalm 1:2~’His delight is in God’s word and he meditates on it day and night.’
I immediately realized I have been meditating on the darkness my kids have been walking through, and trying to somehow find a way to fix problems or bring them comfort, instead of meditating on God’s words and leaning on them.
Psalm 3:1&2~’There are so many that trouble me, rise up against me and convince me that God will not help.’
So often when we read the Psalms, particularly verses like these, we think of physical people. Here is where I want you to think outside the box. What if you added~ Many “thoughts” trouble me. Many “thoughts” rise up against me. Many “thoughts” convince me that God cannot help. Because~ isn’t that the truth?
God tells us over and over again that He loves us. He will help us. His plan is for our good. He will never leave us. But we let the enemy, our thoughts, convince us otherwise.
*Our enemy called discouragement.
*Our enemy called fear.
*Our enemy called sadness.
*Our enemy called unbelief.
*Our enemy called hard.
*Our enemy called anger or loneliness.
*Our enemy called tired, depleted and empty.
*Our enemy that tells us we can’t do this. We can’t go on. That it’s hopeless.
I’m so thankful for that little word, because it brings hope. ‘But God. God is our shield, our glory and the lifter up of our head.’
This verse really struck me. My daughter just had a baby girl 2 weeks ago. As my husband was holding her, she kept trying to hold her head up to look at him. We were amazed at the strength she had for only being 2 weeks old, but eventually her tiny self could not keep up. She let out the sweetest little cry and then she just laid down against my husband and in all that coziness, she fell fast asleep. You know where I’m going with this. When my feelings tell me that things will never look up, God literally just told me ‘He is the lifter up of my head’, not me. He is my strength when my tiny self has no strength. And then…
Psalm 3:4&5~’I cried to God and He sustained me and I slept in peace.’
It isn’t until I realize all the things above that sleep and peace will come. It isn’t until I cry out to God and realize that it is He who holds me and sustains me and that I cannot do it myself, that I can lay down against Him and in all that coziness, rest in His peace.
Psalm 3:6&8~ And that’s when I realize that ‘I don’t have to be afraid of ten thousand thoughts’ that enter this mama’s mind and fight against me. Because God is my strength and salvation. He is my children’s strength and salvation. His blessings are upon us.
There is so much more here~
Psalm 4:1~God gives us relief when we are in distress.
Psalm 4:3~The Lord has set us apart and will hear when we call.
Psalm 4:4&5~I can be still when I put my trust in God, even when the thoughts creep in and say, ‘Will things ever be good again? Who will help me?’
Psalm 4:6~I know God will. His light will break through all the darkness and shine on me and my children.
Psalm 4:7&8, 5:11&12~And God will put gladness and joy in my heart again. Sleeplessness will be replaced with joy.
Psalm 5:3~And in the morning, I will look up at God, but things will be different because I won’t be trying to do it in my own strength anymore.
He will be holding me.
I looked down the mudroom stairway. Wet swim suits, beach towels, tennis shoes, a few rocks and an insect net~ all sprawled out across the floor.
And I smiled to myself.
My younger self would have looked at the mess and thought~more work for me. It’s never ending. My younger self would have thought it was an inconvenience. My younger self would have missed what was right in front of my eyes…
I am babysitting my grandsons this week and I couldn’t help but think back to a post I wrote 10 years ago, when I was babysitting my daughter’s firstborn. Now she has four. Four boys. I remember telling her how much she should cherish this time and I entitled the article~
“Before You Blink”.
It seems like it was yesterday when I wrote that. It seems like it was just yesterday and I was here babysitting and looking down these very steps at wet mittens and scarves, hats, boots and coats. I blinked and winter turned to spring and spring turned to summer. Where did the months go?
Where did the years go?
I think about my own mudroom and the revolving seasons that passed all too quickly.
Comings and goings.
And now, gone.
Little voices asking for help with their mittens and zippers. Little smiles with ice cream drippings and watermelon juice. Little requests for one more push on the swings. Swim suits and beach towels. Cleats and tennis shoes. Learners permits, sport paraphernalia, endless trips to the washing machine~
and beautiful memories.
And now, I get to do it all over again with my grandchildren.
And what a gift that is.
And today as I looked down at our newest, little Ivy who is only one week old, I remember my words to my daughter. Cherish these moments, because you will blink and they will be gone. I knew all too well how much truth was in that statement and yet, I blinked and ten years flew by. I blinked and my babies had babies.
Her wide little eyes looked up at me and it was almost as if I could see how quickly these days will pass.
“Don’t grow too fast precious, little one” I whispered.
Sometimes we get so bogged down with our todays that we don’t think about our tomorrows and how much we will miss. We miss the blessings right in front of us as time plays on a loop, and days and seasons run into each other.
Hit the pause button. Mama, there is absolutely nothing that is more important than these moments. Right now. Raising your children. Get on the floor with them. Laugh with them. Play with them. Dance with them. Sing with them. Listen to them. Be with them.
Look at the wet swim suits and beach towels, the winter coats and hats and understand~please understand~
that those are not inconveniences.
They are tremendous gifts from God.
My daughter just gave birth to a precious baby girl early Wednesday morning. Ivy Flora is her first.
Every mom has a different birth story. It’s crazy and beautuful and unique. I have a different birth story for each one of my four children. By my last, I had no idea what to expect.
But I knew the end result.
Pure joy. Laughter. Tears. Crazy love.
Only moments after she was born, my husband got to hold little Ivy for the first time. Kathryn and Josh unashamedly shed the tears, and with complete and utter joy Kathryn said “I just love her so much. I want to take her everywhere and show her to everyone”.
And boy did that make me think about Jesus.
Because that’s exactly how He feels about us.
Each of us may have a different rebirth story. That moment we were born again. John 3:3. That moment we understood the gift God gave us in His Son and His redemption on the cross. Romans 3:23. When we realized our sinfulness and asked for forgiveness. When God became our Father. John 1:12
It may have been a long process. It may have been painful. There may have been heartache and tears. Conviction can do that. Or, it might have been an easy, immediate understanding of such a gift. Everyone of us has a different story to tell, but ultimately the ending is the same.
Pure joy. Laughter. Tears. Crazy love.
Because at that moment we accept Jesus as our Savior we understand it wasn’t anything that we did. Ephesians 2:8&9
What does a baby have to do to be born? Not a thing. All that baby has to do is accept the free gift of life the moment they leave mama’s womb. Mama does all the work, and with a crazy love, she does it with joy. Because the moment that child is born changes everything.
Jesus did all the work.
And He did it with joy.
Because of His crazy love for us. Hebrews 12:2
And that moment we are born into His family… that moment changes everything.
That deep love we have for our children is because they are a part of us. Ivy didn’t do a thing to merit that unconditional love of her mama. Her mama loves her because she is her child.
My eyes overflow with tears as I look at my baby and her baby. They are a part of me. My heart yearns to love and protect. And yet, as great as my love is for my children and grandchildren, the Bible tells us that there is no greater love than the love of Jesus. John 15:13, Jeremiah 31:3
When Jesus looks at us, He truly says~ I love her so much!! I want to take her everywhere and show her to everyone”, and do you know why? Not because of anything we have done. We didn’t do a thing to merit that unconditional love. God loves us simply because we are His. You are His little light, His precious child shining the love of Jesus from the inside out. You manifest His glory because He is always with you. Matthew 28:20, Hebrews 13:5
What does Jesus say about you?
You’re created In His image.
You are wonderfully made.
God intricately formed you in your mother's womb. He knows you better than you know yourself.
He takes joy in you. Zephaniah 3:17
He knows the number of hairs on your head. Matthew 10:30
You are the light of the world. Matthew 5:14
God has chosen you. Revelation 17:14
You are His child. Always and forever.
And He loves you so much, He wants to take you everywhere and show you to everyone. Pure joy. Laughter. Tears. Crazy love.
“I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.” John 17:23
“I have loved thee with an everlasting love…” Jeremiah 31:3
I’m not a morning person. Not at all. I literally wake up on the wrong side of the bed Every. Single. Morning. I think my blood type is “tired”. My body literally screams at me~ “Just let me sleep!!”.
This morning, after not seeing my husband for two weeks (and being ecstatic at his return home the night before), I pour my coffee and he makes a comment. Nothing negative, just a simple comment about the day. I am silent, but in my mind I have a quick, smart mouth response. It’s not pretty. Inwardly grumbling, I turn and walk silently back upstairs. Coffee in hand.
In my mind I’m thinking~ “He knows I’m not a morning person. I’m tired. I don’t want to talk to anyone, except maybe Jesus.” And then my heart is pricked. I am a terrible person. After that silent comment, my thoughts tell me~surely Jesus doesn’t want to talk to me.
My thoughts have gotten me into more trouble than I would ever care to admit.
This reminded me of the other night. As I lay in bed in the darkness, a thought entered my mind. I knew it was wrong, but I ran with it. I knew it wasn’t truth, but I didn’t fight it. I didn’t pray, I just let it take control. It put me in a bad place and I felt utterly defeated. I could picture satan laughing and chiding me~”Gotcha”.
The beauty is, no where in the Bible does it say that Satan knows our thoughts. He can certainly place them in our path, but we are the ones who can choose to grab a hold of those thoughts, or fight them off. He doesn’t know whether or not he has won that battle unless consequential action is taken. Even then he cannot read our minds.
But God can. This can bring shame, but praise God it can also bring SO MUCH HOPE.
There’s so many lessons here. For the Christian who judges others actions, but whose thoughts are far worse. God is so clear in His word on this matter. Pride and arrogance on the outside, but dirt on the inside.
God sees the dirt my friend.
And He sees all my dirt. All the negative thoughts I have, but don’t say out loud. I’m so thankful they stay inside my head and don’t come spewing out my mouth. I’m supposed to be the “good girl”. Sweet Charisse. Pastor’s wife. I would NEVER speak some of the things I think out loud. And sadly I would never tell a soul some of the places my thoughts have taken me.
Here is where the Hope comes in. Satan can plant that thought and his lies in our path. In our human frailty we can either choose to cling to that disruptive thought and let it take over, or we can continually remind ourselves that God is with us ALWAYS. Right in that moment we have the power of God, His Son and Holy Spirit to fight for us and take that thought captive.
That my friend is incredible hope. We are NEVER alone in our fight against the evil one. NEVER. The moment you become a Christian, Christ lives inside you. Satan might try to get inside your head, but he doesn’t live there.
And here is another bit of beautiful hope. We are human. We mess up constantly. Satan may know our weaknesses but praise God, so does Jesus. Our God knows what we’re going to do. He knows the times we’re going to fail and not call out to him for help. He knows when we’re going to give in and our thought life is not going to be pleasing to Him, and yet even with this omniscient knowledge comes His amazing grace.
Mercy and help in time of need. Love. Incredible love.
He never turns His back.
The times my thoughts are judging. The times my thoughts are sinful. The times my thoughts are filled with worry or fear. The times my thoughts are angry, sad, mean, prideful, wicked, doubting, covetous, self destructive, self reliant. He doesn’t turn His back. And when my heart weeps for the path my thoughts have taken and I allow myself to believe the lie that Jesus doesn’t want to talk to me~when I know He is always there to rescue me and I still push Him aside. He still loves.
And He tells me His mercy is new EVERY morning and GREAT is His faithfulness.
Satan might come knocking but we don’t have to let Him in. Let us continually remind ourselves that God owns this house we live in and when we reach for that door knob, stop and turn to Jesus. Look at Him and be reminded of that mercy and faithfulness, then walk away from the door.
Tomorrow morning when my feet hit the floor, despite what my body might be screaming, I’m going to talk to Jesus instead of allowing Satan to talk to me.
2 Corinthians 10:5, 12:9, 13:4
Matthew 23:23-27, 28:20
1 Corinthians 6:19&20, 10:12&13
Romans 5:8, 7:15-25, 8:28, 15:13
2 Timothy 1:7
Psalm 42:11, 55:22, 62:11, 103:14, 121:7&8, 136:12, 139:1-18
1 Peter 5:7
Ephesians 1:19-21, 3:20, 6:10
I Chronicles 29:11
When I was younger, I was teased a lot. Mostly by boys, and not in a good way. Quite often the remarks went along the lines of my appearance. My boyish hair cut and body shape only added fuel to the fire. And even though I was just a kid, I can remember those remarks like it was yesterday, and they still sting…
There are many mistakes I made as a mom. I think most moms end up feeling this way at some point. Even today I worry that I disappoint my adult children, and they see a different mom than the one I hope to be.
But one of my greatest regrets is not taking lessons from my own life, and praying specifically for those areas in the lives of my children.
Years after the fact, I found out that my own kids went through teasing and heartache when they were younger. Heartache that they never told me about. That knowledge brings the tears. My heart hurts deeply for the little souls they once were. I thought we talked about everything. But then I realized, I never told my own mom about the comments that were made about me when I was younger. I kept them to myself and cried silently in bed at night.
I prayed about so many things for my children, but there were so many other things I could have been praying about. My heart is burdened today to encourage mamas with children of all ages to get down on your knees and go to the throne of God for your kids.
They are fighting battles from day 1 that we may never know about.
I’m so thankful that as I have gotten older I’ve realized this, and as I look back at the struggles I had and the battles I fought, I can now pray specifically for my children in those areas.
But their childhood is past. I can’t go back and change it. And even though they were just kids, the memories of all the bad still hold on. Satan has a way of doing that to us. And it discourages and defeats and depresses.
So today, I am even more determined to bathe my kids in prayer. I can’t change the past but Jesus can change their future. He can change their outlook. He can give them victory.
I don’t think parents can ever pray too much for their children, it is so incredibly important. Prayer is like breathing life into them. But I also remember those early stages of motherhood. When they’re little, sometimes it’s hard to see past the “now” into the future.
We pray for things that are relevant. We pray for their salvation or their hearts to remain pure, we pray for their attitudes or their obedience. We pray for their personalities and characteristics, but too often we forget to pray for their minds. Their thought life. We forget to pray for their battles.
Perhaps because we only see them as kids, and what might feel like a battle to them seems small and insignificant to us. Because we forget the battles we fought. The battles in our mind that still remain.
Don’t forget mom.
What is going on in their life right now will remain with them forever.
Your prayers can change their futures. Prayers for protection against things that are said and done. Prayers that our own words and actions will uplift and encourage them. Prayers that they will always know how much they are loved by us, but more importantly by God. Prayers that their futures won’t be determined by the wrongful actions of others. Prayers that they will always come to you and share their hearts. Prayers that they will know, they can always go to you and ask for prayer.
Because they know you’re a praying mom.
Pray specifically mama. Talk to them about the battles you fought as a child. Ask your children questions. Ask the Holy Spirit to show you how to pray for your them. Don’t spend more time worrying about their circumstances than you spend on your knees talking to God on their behalf. Don’t look back and regret the fact that you missed the battles they were fighting, because they were literally fighting for their future. Cover that future in prayer.
So many negative thoughts can be traced back to a childhood memory. Don’t allow Satan to have that victory over your kids. It’s built into a mama’s DNA to protect her children, but too often in the early years we focus so much on their physical well being and protection that we neglect to pray for the thoughts their futures will hold. You fight on your knees for them from the moment you find out you are going to be a mama. Day 1.
Physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.
They’re only kids, but they are your kids. Make sure they know they have a praying mama. There is no greater gift you can give your child.
I Peter 5:7&8
Romans 8:31-35,37-39, 12:2
Psalm 34:17-20, 71:18, 78:4,6&7, 94:19, 127:1-3, 147:3
2 Corinthians 10:5
Isaiah 26:3, 41:10, 54:13&17
Proverbs 3:5-6, 4:23
I honestly don’t know how long I had been driving before I noticed the red and blue lights flashing in my rear view mirror. We live in a rural area. Long stretches of road with nothing but fields and beautiful views for miles. It’s wonderful, and doesn’t give much occasion to glance back at any oncoming traffic.
Traffic is pretty nonexistent.
I was singing along to some worship music with several kids in tow. Probably why I didn’t hear the siren. My children and their cousins were the reason I finally noticed. Fighting had ensued, followed by yelling (from me) “to knock it off or I’ll pull over!” It wasn’t until that moment that I finally looked in my mirror to see if they were obeying. Instead, I spotted flashing lights beckoning me to stop.
So I pulled over.
It wasn’t pretty.
Apparently I had been speeding. 🤷🏼♀️
I was flustered, and when prompted to surrender proof of insurance, said proof could not be found. The officer returned to his vehicle, and of course that’s when I found it. When he came back I smiled cheerfully and said “I found it!” to which he replied. “Too late. I’m writing you a ticket.”
My cheerfulness went right out the window. I’m sure the kids heard about it the rest of the way home.
Isn’t that how life can be at times? We think we’re doing all the right things. We go to church and Bible studies. We read devotionals and blogs. We listen to podcasts and sing along to worship music. We coast through life enjoying the view, and then suddenly we are hit with an inconvenient attack from the devil. And we lose it.
What we don’t realize is that~
all along Satan has been right on our tail but we were being too “spiritual” to notice.
Too often all the good things take the place of the best things and when that inconvenience strikes, we can’t fight it. Suddenly we’re searching for truth, but we’re already in trouble.
The Christian life isn’t just a joy ride.
It’s a battle.
We live in a day where knowledge and opinions are at our fingertips. So many people are telling us how we should live, that we don’t even search for that truth ourselves. We let others do that work, and in the process we miss out on all the wonders God has specifically for us. Wonders that only come from time spent with Him. Reading His words. Asking the Holy Spirit to show us what we need. Listening to the voice of God speak to our hearts.
We want easy. We want quick. We want to glide through life and not have to dig for the answers. For the proof. Eventually Satan catches up to us. God’s word tells us that he goes about seeking who he can devour.
How can we be prepared? By keeping God’s armor on at all times. The armor of God is so much more than a great Sunday School lesson or Vacation Bible School theme. It’s something you can study and glean countless knowledge from.
I’m going to share a quick overview, but I HIGHLY recommend you get into God’s word yourself and look up scripture references that correlate with every piece of God’s armor. Armor God has specifically made for you!
1. The Belt of Truth- you cannot know what is truth if you aren’t in God’s word. Don’t let someone else tell you what is truth, read it for yourself. Jesus tells us HE is the way and the truth. God tells us to think on whatsoever things are true. Our hearts can so easily be deceived (even by ourselves) when we don’t know God’s truth.
2. The Breastplate of Righteousness- Righteousness only comes from Jesus. All our righteousness is like filthy rags. Nothing else can take the place of Jesus and the protection that He gives your heart and soul.
3. Shoes Fit for the Gospel of Peace- There is so much to learn from God’s word on the gospel of peace. God’s peace passes ALL understanding. When we are attacked, is this the reaction the world sees from us?
4. The Shield of Faith- Our faith will always be tested (proved) and it will not remain strong if we are continually relying on others for knowledge from God’s word. Faith strengthens when time is spent with the God of all strength.
5. The Helmet of Salvation- This is of utmost importance. Without the gift of salvation received by faith, the battle cannot be won. God’s gift of His Son’s death on the cross rescues us from eternal damnation. It renews and transforms our minds against anything the devil tries to deceive us with. Once received, salvation can never be taken away. It is our protection for eternity.
6. The Sword of the Spirit-God’s word is so powerful. It’s inspired. It speaks to our soul and spirit. It shows us doctrine, reproof, correction and instruction.
I didn’t think it was fair when I received a ticket for not providing proof of insurance “fast enough”, because I still provided the proof. I’m not trying to compare that police officer to Satan but… 😂
Here’s the thing~Satan doesn’t play fair. Don’t coast through life on a joy ride with Satan on your tail, because he will catch up. Have your proof always ready and when he does show up, just speaking the name of Jesus will be your truth, because you know you’re ready for that battle. You’re strong in the Lord and the power of HIS might. His armor is all you need.
Praise God for the gift He gives us in others, in the beautiful feet of those who share the gospel of peace. We all need specific men and women that God places in our lives, but their words should never take the place of HIS WORDS. Instead of allowing someone else (this blog included) to tell you how God is speaking to you, spend time in the presence of God Himself. That is a sweet, precious intimacy between you and your Savior. Nothing else can take its place.
John 8:32, 10:28-30, 14:16&27, 16:13&33, 17:17
Romans 3:22&23, 10:15&17, 12:2&3, 15:13
Ephesians 2:8&9, 3:16&17, 4:3, 6:10-18
I Peter 1:8&9, 5:8-10
2 Peter 1:19-21
I John 5:4
I Corinthians 16:13
Hebrews 4:12, 12:2
I Timothy 6:12
2 Timothy 2:15, 3:16&17
Isaiah 52:7, 54:17
Satan knows when the best time is to attack. Each of us have our triggers. Maybe it’s loneliness, or something deep within that no one else knows about. For some, it might be the work place, for others it might be family. For me, it’s the dark of night.
Sharing this is something that I wrestled with. I haven’t wanted to. Maybe one day I will tell the whole story, but for today I will just share a part…
During the day time hours it’s easy for me to feel like “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”. It might not always be easy to fight battles, but my heart and my mind know what the truth is. I can think logically. I can get in God’s word. I can pray, quote scripture and listen to worship music.
But in the middle of the night, when my brain is in a fog and I’m half asleep~that’s when satan strikes. Often.
I get up 2-3 times a night. Old age and 4 kids. Always, I stumble into the bathroom. The entire world is dark and quiet, and even though I am half asleep~ thoughts immediately spring up into my head out of nowhere. My defenses are down and I am not prepared for the battle.
And it’s a big one.
A battle of doubt that wages against everything I’ve ever believed. And it’s scary. And it’s very hard to admit.
Today I want to mention some things that have helped me through this. Maybe you don’t have the same issues that I do, but maybe you’re fighting different battles and you feel helpless and alone. Maybe scared. I pray these things can help and encourage you to fight with your everything, and to remember that God is always, always for you. There are no weapons that are stronger than He is, because our weapons aren’t carnal. They’re spiritual and they will pull down the strongholds that battle against us.
He will always fight for us.
For me, the time of the attacks is what makes them hard. 2-3 times, night after night. Let’s be real here, in my sleepy state I am not going to do a Bible study on the toilet in the dark. I’m not going to blast worship music and wake up my husband. Quite often I just want to go back to sleep, and I’m not thinking logically. So, what’s a person to do in that situation?
Be prepared ahead of time.
Here are some things that can help you with your battle, especially when the attack hits you out of nowhere.
1. Remember. It doesn’t matter what the situation is or where you are, you can remember the goodness of God on your life. In the past, in the present and in the future. If Jesus is your Savior, you will one day be in glory with Him. That alone can help sustain us. So when that attack happens, and it will happen, start thanking and praising Jesus for EVERYTHING. Every single thing that comes into your heart and mind. Remember our God of the Bible. He is your God too. Remember His faithfulness. Recall it. Say it out loud. Remember.
2. Read. Stay in God’s word and hide it in your heart. When an attack happens, you don’t have the luxury to say to Satan- “Can you hold on a minute while I get out my Bible and look up some verses?” Know God’s truths. Memorize them and use them to fight against the lies. An amazing chapter to meditate on is Psalm 119. I listen to it on my bible app every single day as I’m putting on my makeup and preparing for the day. Over and over let His words saturate your heart and soul.
3. Refrain. Stay away from things that can mess with your head, ie television shows, music and social media. For me, the things that my eyes (and heart) take in right before going to bed at night can have a huge impact on how my night goes. We don’t realize how much these things can affect us negatively. Every single day we soak it all in~ sadly, even more than we soak in God’s words to us. This is a huge deterrent to our spiritual warfare. The Holy Spirit will show you the things you need to steer clear of, you just need to listen.
4. Rely and Pray. In my situation there were times this was a tough one, because doubt was my battle field. In those moments all I could do was say the name of Jesus. And that is enough. There is power in His name. Did the doubts magically go away at 2am? No. 4am rolls around and BAM!, I’m hit again. But I will keep saying His name over and over. Why? Because of my first two points. He has always been faithful to me and I know He’s not going to stop now. His word is His promise.
God helped me in ways I could never imagine. My heart was saying “Lord I believe, help my unbelief.”
And He did just that.
In amazing ways that bring tears to my eyes. And every night, I remember.
Be prepared for the battle. Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks. Prove all things. Hold fast that which is good. Faithful is he that calls you, who also will do it. He will be your Warrior. He will be your Comfort. He will be your Peace.
Remember. Read. Refrain. Rely.
The battle is already won.
1 Thessalonians 5:5-6, 8, 10-11, 16-18, 21-24
2 Corinthians 10:4-5
Psalm 71:18, 77:6, 78:4, 101:3, 102:18, 119, 143:5
I John 5:14-15
Philippians 2:9-11, 4:13
John 1:1-5,9, 8:12, 14:18, 26
Deuteronomy 1:30, 20:4
I Timothy 1:5-14, 6:12
2 Peter 1:12
Some of you will think I’m crazy when you read this, but the other night I received a late night text message from my son.
And it made me tear up.
Not because he was being sentimental or sharing his love,
but because he asked if it would be okay to talk to his dad.
Yep, that brought the tears.
He still needed his dad.
Sometimes, as our kids get older we see them unconsciously moving farther and farther away from us. Not physically, but emotionally. It’s just a part of the maturing process. They don’t need us anymore. And that’s hard. Even though we’re incredibly proud of the adult they have become, somehow we don’t feel as important to them anymore.
But then there are moments like these.
My husband never turns his phone off. He’s a pastor, so he needs to be available 24/7. My kids know this, so in an effort not to wake him late at night, they will text me to see if we are sleeping. They know they won’t disturb us, because I turn my phone off when we go to bed.
The thing is, they also know that if they did call their daddy, he would answer. He would help. He would get out of bed and go to their house to fix any problem at any hour of the night. No matter what. That’s the kind of daddy he is. Always on call. Always helping. Always present.
And man, isn’t that just a picture of our Heavenly Daddy?
Someone commented on one of my posts recently and said, “I know Jesus must be sick of hearing from me.” I immediately wanted to reassure her~ “NO, NO this isn’t true!”
Yet, as I looked deeper at my own heart I realized I have had those same thoughts myself. Too often my prayers seem to come back to…
“I’m sorry God… I messed up again.
Help me God.
Please help me.
Why do I keep doing this God?
When will I learn?
I have no right even asking You for help, but please, please help me.”
I get myself into trouble then need God to bail me out. Over and over. And I feel ashamed to even ask. To even call on Him.
Just like we don’t want our own children to experience the “hard” alone, God feels the same about his children. Whether we grow and mature in our Christian faith, or fail time and time again, we will always need our Heavenly Father. Always.
And that makes me think about these moments with my kids. There isn’t a single thing they could do that would make me turn them away and not answer when they call for help…
When they call just to talk, when they call to complain, when their hearts are broken, when they’re hurting or excited, happy or sad. Always, my heart yearns to listen, to help them and to rejoice with them. I never tire of hearing from them.
Their daddy feels the same way, and so does their Heavenly Father.
And He wants to hear from us.
He will never, ever get sick of hearing from us because we are His children. Forgiven, redeemed, justified and loved. Loved beyond comprehension.
No matter the time, no matter how often, no matter the reason… no matter what, Jesus will always be there.
He will answer.
Always on call. Always helping. Always present.
That’s the kind of Father He is.
That’s the kind of Daddy He is.
Call on Him today.
Psalm 5:3, 18:6, 34:6, 42:8, 72:12-13, 102:1-2, 17, 103:13, 145:18
John 3:16, 15:16
2 Corinthians 6:18
I John 3:1, 4:9, 5:14
What are you proud of?
I’m not going to beat around the bush here, we all know what this month has been labeled, so again I ask~
What are YOU proud of?
I realize there is a fine line when it comes to pride in scripture. God hates pride when it’s directed toward self and we become our own center of worship.The pride I’m talking about today is a different type of boasting.
How is it that you can tell when someone is proud? Proud people talk about the things that they are proud of. Often.
We find it easy to talk about our favorite sports teams, our political views, our children and grandchildren, our spouses and even ourselves. We find camaraderie with those who pride themselves in similar things. Our voices become louder and louder when we are around others who share in that pride.
So I want to ask you again, what are you proud of? Because others are watching. Does your pride come through in your praises, or in your opinions? Your pride reveals itself in the words that you speak. Your children hear it, your family hears it. Your friends and coworkers, your neighbors, even strangers hear it. What story is your pride telling?
I am afraid that too often it’s a sad and angry story full of complaints and woes, and not a story of hope and redemption.
Please don’t get me wrong~ it’s incredibly important to stand for what is right. To teach our families truths based on God’s word and to stand up for that truth. But do others know why we believe these things? What is the point of our stand? To prove we are right, or to praise our God and give Him the glory? Are we so focused on proving others are wrong that we’re missing the whole point of the gospel?
We can become so focused on what we believe is evil that we miss out on opportunities to share all that is good and righteous and beautiful. The very person of Jesus our Savior and Redeemer. Our hope for the hopeless. Our amazing God.
Our lives should revolve around Him and His goodness. Our praises and pride should be for Him and His gift of salvation. He took our place on the cross. He died for the wickedness of this world~ and my friend,
that includes you and
that includes me.
No one is excluded.
For all have sinned.
If we don’t teach the next generation why we believe what we believe, if we don’t boast on the incredible love of our Savior and the gift of salvation that we did not deserve, our opinions and viewpoints will become just that.
Voices becoming louder and louder.
And the next generation will grow up believing that it is “us against the world” instead of~ “God so loved the world.”
So today I want to tell you what I am proud of. I am proud of my God. I am proud of my Savior. I am proud of the love and mercy and grace He shows me on a daily basis, all of which I do not deserve. Love that isn’t based on my performance, mercy that doesn’t stop as soon as I mess up again, but love and mercy that endure FOREVER. I am proud of what the rainbow truly represents. The rainbow HE created as an everlasting promise to us. A rainbow that surrounds the very throne of it’s Creator. I am proud of His word and His promises, promises that hold peace that passes understanding. I am proud to call God my Provider and Redeemer, my Father and my very best Friend. I am proud to say that He is my everything.
I would be nothing without Him.
I am proud of Jesus. Name above all names. I want to share God’s truth and stand firm on my beliefs, beliefs that are rooted and grounded in scripture; but more than anything I want to make HIM known. That’s what I want the next generation to remember. Not me. Not my opinions. Jesus.
God is our everything.
Let’s brag differently.
What are you proud of today?
Psalm 89:1-2, 5-9, 11, 13-18
Psalm 136, 148, 150
I Peter 3:15-18, Hebrews 12:14
Revelation 4:3, Ezekiel 1:28