There is too much noise.
Have you ever had days or even weeks like that?
My brain won’t be quiet amidst the whirlwind of life going on around me.
I am a thinker. I love to think on God’s word. I love to think about life lessons He has for me. I love to voice my thoughts to God as I pray.
I love moments of quiet with Jesus.
What if life isn’t quiet though?
Morning until evening. Constant.
No time to gather your thoughts or be still with God.
I tend to assume that my blog suffers at times like these. I fret. I can’t seem to focus on what I should write about because I can’t seem to gather just a few moments to think, and when an opportunity presents itself, my brain strays and I end up focusing on everything else that’s going on in my life at the time. I find myself wishing for a miracle. I find myself begging God in the late hours of the night to give me a message of hope, but often I strive in my own strength.
Trying to think. Trying to push past the noise.
The noise hasn’t all been bad. There has been beautiful noise. The laughter of grandchildren. Wedding songs and vows made. The fellowship of extended family. Ladies discussing the study of God’s word. Church services and beautiful old hymns being sung.
But then there has been the noise of other things. Things that push past quiet moments and steal away my thoughts toward God. The noise of traffic as we travel. The noise of packing and unpacking and packing again. The noise of responsibility and to do lists screaming at us to get finished before the noise of hospital stays next week. The noise of worry over my husband’s upcoming surgery. The noise of wondering and what ifs.
And I just want to stop.
I yearn for the quiet. I yearn for God.
But my brain doesn’t want to be quiet.
This morning I stole a few moments from my day. I turned on my Bible app and I sat and made myself listen to God’s words. I quietly asked Him to speak to me. To speak past the noise. To speak past the whirlwind in my brain.
He never fails.
Today He showed me the simple passage of the blind man in Mark 8. Jesus took him away from all the noise. Away from the city, (v. 23) and then He touched him.
It didn’t happen right away~
that miracle God had just for him.
Jesus asked him a simple question.
“Do you see anything?” (v. 23)
But things were still blurry to the man. So Jesus touched him again, and that’s when the miracle happened.
The man could see.
In that moment as I read, I knew that I needed to stop talking AT Jesus. I knew I needed to stop asking Him for something to write. Stop begging Him for a message of hope that might help others. I needed my brain to get away from it all and allow Jesus to speak to me. I didn’t need just the right words to share with the world, (Mark 8:26) I needed His words to see things clearer. I didn’t need a message of hope to write for my blog, I needed a message of hope FOR MY OWN HEART.
In that moment, I heard His message.
Do you see? Do you see me? I am here.
It was blurry at first. Like the blind man, the noise still seemed larger than life to me. Like looming trees. (Mark 8:24)
I read that passage and then read it again.
And then the miracle happened.
I could see. So clearly.
I didn’t need the quiet.
I was the one who needed to be quiet.
I needed to look at Jesus and listen to Him.
It never ceases to amaze me that I can read scripture countless times and miss a tiny morsel of knowledge that God has for me and then suddenly He touches me with His words and miracles happen. My eyes are opened and I see exactly what I need at the exact moment I need it.
The blind man didn’t question God and ask why he couldn’t see after the first attempt, Jesus questioned the blind man. Sometimes we just need to be quiet, stop striving and just listen to God and apply His words to our souls so that are eyes are opened to His truths.
Maybe some of you might feel like your life is out of control right now. The noise is deafening and your heart is crying out, but you just can’t seem to focus on God. Let me encourage you today.
Stop trying. Get away from it all, even if it’s only for a few minutes. Then, stop talking AT Jesus and allow Him to speak to you. Get yourself a bible app and listen to His miraculous words.
Your chaos. Your busy. Your overwhelm and your noise will all be silenced in awe of Him and you will feel His peace wash over you.
What do you see?
Imagine opening your eyes amidst the chaos that looms over your soul. Imagine opening your eyes and seeing Jesus there. Smiling back at you.
That’s the miracle that can happen if you just stop to listen.
I can remember sitting in Cobo arena with my parents.
Thousands of people were there to hear one man speak. I was probably only in 7th or 8th grade but I can vividly remember looking at that crowd and thinking how amazingly beautiful it would be if I were in that man’s shoes, reaching and encouraging thousands for the Lord. I prayed that someday, somehow I could glorify Jesus that way.
I finished high school with a longing in my heart to be a teacher. I enrolled in college with a major in elementary education. I loved teaching and I loved children. I just knew God placed that desire within me and I prayed that someday that desire would be fulfilled.
I got married and we started a family. Since grade school I had dreamt of becoming an author and publishing a book. I started with a course on children’s writing. I had so many thoughts in my head that I wanted my pen to tell. I prayed that someday, when my children were grown and my life was less busy God would allow me that dream.
In each instance I asked God~
Would You allow this for me? Could You? But as the years went by~
I thought His answer to each of these was no.
I have never gotten to reach or encourage thousands of people in an arena.
I never was an elementary school teacher. I never wrote or published a book.
I married a pastor and eventually we moved to a small town in the thumb of MI. No huge crowds. No large arenas. A pastor’s wife at a tiny church of less than 100.
The years went by. I raised my children and watched and prayed as each left our little home and then one day...
as I sat and listened to the broken heart of a woman seeking counsel, God whispered to my own heart to begin something new.
That was this.
The beginning of Holding Hope.
And so, yesterday as I thanked Him for this beautiful privilege He has allowed me~
He showed me.
and He did.
40 years after the quiet prayer of a shy girl in the midst of thousands, He answered.
He didn’t answer in the way I expected.
No, I don’t get up in an arena and talk to thousands. From my very small town in the Midwest, God chose to use social media as His platform instead. Holding Hope.
No, I never taught in a school. God brought me to a church where, for a long time I was the only teacher for the children there. For 25 years He has allowed me to fulfill that dream and today I teach along side my own children in that very same church. And no, I have never published or even written a book, but every week God allows this pen to write the stories He puts in my heart.
Don’t give up. Wherever you might be right now, whatever your prayer, whatever your dream~ God has your answer. It might not come tomorrow or next week or next year. It might take 40 years, but He will answer.
Hold on to that hope.
You might be a student, sitting in a classroom wondering if God could ever use you to reach and encourage others.
You might be a mama, sitting in the middle of babies and bottles and diapers with a “someday” dream tucked away in your heart.
You might be a grandmother who hasn’t even realized that God has already answered your prayers.
He has always been faithful, even in my unfaithfulness.
My no was His yes.
Search your heart for His yes and when you find it, you will find so many more answers to the prayers you have whispered through the years.
Prayers you may have forgotten~
but He never did,
and He never will.
*Repost from 1/23/20
I was upstairs brushing my teeth when I heard it. My husband was still downstairs, and as he left the den he said~
”Alexa, turn off the lights please.”
He said “please” to Alexa. 😂
In case you aren’t aware, (according to Google) Alexa is a ‘virtual assistant technology smart speaker.’
My rough and tough husband said please to a little, non human speaker.
(I love him so much 🥰)
I started laughing so hard that I had to sit down. I wasn’t sure he even realized he said it, so I didn’t bring it up. The next night as we were both heading upstairs, he again asked Alexa to turn off the lights. I stopped and looked at him~
and I knew he knew.
He was trying to hide the smirk on his face. He innocently asked “what??” Trying not to laugh I responded
“you forgot to say please.”
And we both burst out laughing.
The whole Alexa incident got me thinking about our lives and all the technology and answers that are right at our fingertips. You can Google anything nowadays and get an answer in minutes. As long as it is plugged in, I can ask Alexa a question and get an immediate response.
Somehow this need for immediate results has crept over into our
We want answers from God right NOW.
Technology has wonderful benefits, but when it comes to the way we think and perceive life, it can have its downfalls. The news is constantly bombarding us with the horror this world throws at us~ all within minutes of when it happened. We fear. We self diagnose. We binge watch. We covet. We buy more. We fear more. We get depressed. We worry.
Mental health has spiraled downward.
And then we end up questioning God’s love for us.
My daughter and I were having this conversation a few weeks back. She made the comment that she didn’t think God ever intended for us to have this much information at our fingertips 24/7.
I remember responding that ‘back in the day, all a woman had to think about was taking care of her family and Jesus.
Eyes and heart always on the Lord, because nothing else was around to take His place’.
It’s time for us to get back to loving God. A tender, fervent, personal love. Get back to digging deep into His word. Get back to seeking Him with our whole heart. Get back to giving our families to Jesus and raising them to love Him with their everything. Get back to talking to Him continually. Asking Him for the answers. Trusting Him for the outcomes. Being still in His presence and having faith in His unbelievable love for us. A love that is ALWAYS for us and NEVER against us. A love that can’t be measured or bought. A love freely given because of His Son.
(John 15:10, Romans 8:31-39, Ephesians 2:8-9, 3:18)
We are too wrapped up in today. (Revelation 2:4) ‘Loving God with our everything’ has become a passing Christian phrase with no real meaning. And because our love has waned, our laughter has been lost. We often treat God like He’s Alexa, and quite often we don’t even say please. We have forgotten that the joy of the Lord is our strength and in His presence is fullness of joy. (Nehemiah 8:10, Psalm 16:11)
Today I want to encourage you to take a sabbatical from technology. From our phones and laptops and kindles. From the 24 hour news. From binge watching. From Amazon and Google. From Alexa.
This summer focus on being still in His presence and growing in our love for our Savior. When we are plugged into His power, He will give us all the answers we need. We will find rest in His presence, comfort and peace.
And our laughter will return.
When I think about that night my husband spoke to Alexa, I smile when I recall his words but I laugh when I remember the laughter we shared together. When I look back on my life I don’t want to remember all the bad. I want to remember my soul being filled with laughter. My greatest happiness being loved by my Savior. A life completely filled up with the joy of the Lord. (1 Peter 1:8)
Long summer days await us my friend.
Feed your soul. Fill those days with the love of God and with laughter.
(Psalm 16:8-9, 11, 89:15-17, 94:19, 126:2-3, Romans 5:5, 8:38-39, Ephesians 3:16-19, Philippians 4:4, )
I’m going to take a small commercial break in my series of late to tell you a story.
It was 1982.
My junior year of high school, and I had made the cheerleading squad. We were a small, tight knit Christian school, and the friendships that were formed have lasted my lifetime. I wore a pleated skirt that touched my knees, saddle shoes and a constricting, long sleeve wool sweater. Looking back I cannot believe that was the uniform of choice. I probably lost 10 pounds every game just from sweating so much. I didn’t care. I loved every second. That year I was determined to make 1st Team All Conference for my squad, and I worked hard toward that goal. When the time came for names to be announced and awards given, my name was not on the list. I can honestly say that I was truly happy for my friends. They were seasoned cheerleaders, and I knew they deserved the acclamation.
My senior year I was fueled to try even harder. I did everything my coach told me to do. Every game, every routine. No mess ups. 1983. This would be my year. I was confident in the work that I put in. When the names were called, I waited anxiously to hear my own, but I didn’t even get an honorable mention~
and I was crushed.
Somehow, almost 40 years later I still feel like that cheerleader at times. Trying so hard to do it all right. Listening to what I’ve been taught my entire Christian adult life. Putting the hard work in, confident that I’ve got this servanthood thing in the bag.
Until I don’t.
And sometimes I allow it to crush me.
I compare myself to others.
(2 Corinthians 10:12-16)
I press toward my own prize.
I become weary. (Galatians 6:9)
I envy and grumble. (Hebrews 13:5)
And then grumble some more. (Philippians 2:14-15)
As I have studied the topic of surrender to God and our love for Him, many things have come to my attention.
Why do we continually mess up? In our Christian walk, in our relationships, in our attitudes?
Well, there’s the obvious… sin, duh.
But, as I prayed about this more, I came to the realization that a lot of it has to do with the specific sin of ‘my love for myself.’
I can say that I’m doing the things I’m doing (ie~ you know being a good servant and all that 😉) because of my love for the Lord, but when I am serving and someone rattles me with an off hand comment or speaks praise over others and not me~ I find myself right back in those saddle shoes. I throw myself my own pity party. I either feel like I will never be good enough, asking myself why I wasn’t picked, or I start to lift myself up with the~ ‘I’ve worked so hard!’~ mentality. This is a place I wouldn’t be if I was truly being a servant of Christ and doing everything out of my love for Him.
Somehow Charisse always gets in her own way.
The times I hear myself saying “Nobody loves me. Nobody notices. Nobody cares. I’ll never measure up. Why can’t I be like her?” Are the very times I’m loving myself more than Christ. I am making it about me and not about Him. I am putting on MY uniform and then sweating in my own strength trying to achieve something for myself~
and not for Christ. (Romans 13:14)
It’s His armor that should take precedence. (Ephesians 6:10-18)
And so, (this might be stretching things a bit~ no pun intended 😉) I believe that even cheerleading can teach us some lessons.
On our squad, I always ended up being a part of our “base” when we did mounts. I’m 5’9” so obviously I wasn’t going to be at the top of a mount~ and I understood that 100%. That was my spot.
If only I could apply that understanding to my life now!
In cheerleading, it was never supposed to be about the girl at the top, or who got the most recognition. It was about our love for our team. Cheering them on and encouraging them to keep fighting for the win~
Isn’t that what our Christian life is all about?
It’s not about us. It’s all about Christ. Our love for our great God. Some girls might be center stage in their service and others might be serving in ways no one ever sees.
Both spots are equally important.
Our love for Jesus is what will shine.
And if we tumble. If we can’t hold the weight. If we become constricted because of our love for ourselves. If it feels too heavy or we get weary in the well doing, let us not forget that He is the one holding us all together. It’s not anything that we do, it’s His strength working in and through us.
Take off that constricting uniform of self service in the name of Christianity, and
Put on Jesus. (Romans 13:14)
Plain and simple.
We are on the same team! So, cheer your fellow sisters on as they fight the good fight. (1Timothy 6:12) Make no mistake~ it is a battle and Satan knows exactly how to get us to love ourselves more than each other and more than our Savior. (2 Corinthians 10:4)
Next week, I hope to end my series with some encouragement on how we can go about loving God more and finding the laughter in our lives. I felt the need to address the fact that we cannot take steps forward toward truly loving God until we realize the battle we are in with loving ourselves.
When I look back at my cheerleading days, I’m so glad I was a part of it. Winning All Conference doesn’t even matter to me now, but the relationships that were forged and the spirit of unity we had is a memory I will cherish forever. I feel the same way about all my sisters in Christ. My sweet friends who have worshipped and walked along side me, fighting the good fight for the love of our Savior. The ones who have been a part of my life from day one, some not even realizing the impact they have had on my life. I’m over here cheering you all on and the good news is~ we already know Who wins!
Ephesians 4:1-4, 7, 12-13, 15-16, 24
Quite often when we read articles on the topic of trust we think about the big, sometimes overwhelming things in our lives. Our finances or future, our country and politics, our children and families, our health or the health of our loved ones. The quotes~ “Trust God, He has a plan”, or “God is in control” come up time and time again. I have used those very words myself. Big issues like these can definitely steal our happiness, and when disaster strikes in one of these areas~ it’s often hard to trust God or try to understand why.
What I don’t think we realize is that our entire lives should be enveloped in the trust of God and His power.
All those petty little things I talked about last week (the ones we can’t let go of) are also the petty little things we should trust God with.
I seriously think I could write a book about all the different phases a woman goes through in her life, and all the different areas that come to mind when I think about all the little things that so quickly rob us of our joy.
Sometimes we allow those things to completely destroy our happiness. We focus on the problem at hand instead of the big picture. In the grand scheme of things, that little bump in the road is just that~ a bump in the road, but we turn it into a ten car pile up.
So let me ask you this ~
Do you truly believe in the power of God? Do you truly believe God can do anything?
I have heard the argument that~ yes God is all powerful, but man has a free will and his sinful nature can often mess things up. It is true that man has a free will, but what we don’t take into consideration is that God is more powerful than any human’s will. If God so chooses, He can change any situation~ no matter how badly we have messed it up.
We are human. He is God.
Our God of the impossible.
How quickly we forget that in our day to day encounters.
So here is where the rubber hits that bump in the road: FAITH.
Do you have faith in God’s power in your life?
You know that old saying~”Don’t make a mountain out of a mole hill?” Let’s talk about those mole hills~a few of those small petty things. Small things that can erase every ounce of faith in God’s power within seconds. The things we don’t even think about handing over to God and entrusting Him with~
Interruptions in our schedules, our weariness, our relationships, our sadness, our hormones, broken appliances, unexpected guests, long lines at the grocery store, traffic jams, blizzards and thunderstorms, that caramel mocha frappe that slipped right out of your hands, a burnt meal, a crying baby, a stubbed toe, a power outage, a toilet that over flows, overwhelming ‘to-do’s’ and lack of sleep. The flu=sick days, sick babies, sick spouses. Sore joints, acne flare ups, period cramps, menopause and bad hair days, weight gain, insecurity issues, fighting children and inconsiderate spouses…..
This is just the tip of the iceberg, but you get my meaning. If we allow it, all of these things can irritate us. All of these things can steal our laughter, and make us impatient with life.
What if we changed our focus? What if we looked at each thing as a divine interruption. What if we stopped and asked God what He was trying to teach us through each situation. What if we learned to let things go? (See lasts week’s post) What if we truly believed that God knows exactly what is going on every minute of every day of our lives and He has complete control over it? What if we chose faith over complaining and what if we asked God to make His power real in our lives through every crazy thing that happens to us?
Because if we ask, He will.
We just don’t ask.
We don’t think about God in the small petty things. We think we can control the situations ourselves. Why do we do that to ourselves when He is literally right there next to us saying~ “I can take care of that for you, you don’t have to do it alone.” But when we choose the irritation and complaining, we’re pretty much telling God~ “I’ve got this. I don’t need you.”
Today I would like to encourage you to make two lists. One list will be all the areas you consider BIG in your life and one will be areas of interruption or annoyance. Small petty problems you’ve never really thought about giving God control over. Keep adding to that list and then make it a habit to pray over it and hand it over to God. I mean really hand it over. No take backs.
It’s never silly to go to God over things we might feel are insignificant in the grand scheme of life. God wants us to know His power on a personal level in every single area of our lives. I’ve said it before and I will continue to preach it to myself~when we truly hand everything over to Him, even the small silly stuff~ when the seriously hard stuff hits we will have that automatic peace that passes understanding because we will be so familiar with trusting God in every detail and knowing He always pulls us through.
God will take care of it. You and I will always have the hard days. Today I can look back at so many of them and smile in the realization that they weren’t as hard as I thought at the time, and I can praise God for the countless times He pulled me through.
The times We find ourselves in the middle of our own pity party let our cry be this~
“Lord I believe. Help my unbelief”.
Then grab a hold of His hand, stand up, dust yourself off, ask the Holy Spirit to fill you with faith and walk away. Smile in the complete surrender and knowledge that God will take care of it all.
Things to remind yourself today:
*I believe, help my unbelief.
*God will never leave you.
*Faith the size of a tiny mustard seed can move mountains.
*Without faith it’s impossible to please God
*But, all things are possible with God. Keep asking Him to strengthen your faith
(Mark 9:23, 10:27, Matthew 17:20, 19:26, Luke 1:37, 18:27, Jeremiah 32:17&27, Philippians 4:13)
*Don’t worry about tomorrow or tonight or the next five minutes.
*God is all powerful.
*Only God can give us the peace that passes understanding.
*Today is a new day. A gift from God. Rejoice in it. When you’re tempted to focus on the bad, praise God for ALL the good. Over and over and over.
“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6
“And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.”
“Casting all your care upon Him; for He careth for you.” I Peter 5:7
“And Jesus said unto them…If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.”
“I sought the Lord, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.” Psalms 34:4
“Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.”
“Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee withersoever thou goest.” Joshua 1:9
“They reel to and fro…and are at their wits' end. Then they cry unto the LORD in their trouble, And he bringeth them out of their distresses. He maketh the storm a calm, So that the waves thereof are still. Then are they glad because they be quiet; So he bringeth them unto their desired haven. Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, And for his wonderful works to the children of men!”
“I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.”
“…be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear What man shall do unto me.”
“And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”
2 Corinthians 12:9
“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
“And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
“…that we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places,”
Ephesians 1:12, 18-20
“But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, Neither have entered into the heart of man, The things which God hath prepared for them that love him.”
1 Corinthians 2:9
Remember those mole hills we thought were mountains? Have faith my friend. Trust God. He can move mountains and make all those little mole hills rejoice. 😊
“…And the little hills rejoice on every side.” Psalm 65:12
Live, Love, Laugh, Leave Me Alone. Learning To Surrender Control And Truly Enjoy Life
*This is my second post on this subject. If you missed last weeks, I encourage you to go back and read it.
LET THINGS GO AND LAUGH
I’m very bad at letting things go.
I didn’t think that I was, but the more I prayed about it, the more I realized I was an A-lister in that club.
I hold on to everything.
I hold on to good memories like they’re a precious commodity.
Sometimes that’s a good thing, because sweet memories can bring a smile, or much needed laughter. When I am having a personal pity party over harsh circumstances happening in my life, clinging to good memories isn’t always the best thing to do. In that fight or flight scenario, I’m always the flight. I want to check out. I want to go back to those happy memories and camp out there. Times like this I can relate to David so much when he penned the words:
“And I said, Oh that I had wings like a dove! For then would I fly away, and be at rest. Lo, then would I wander far off, And remain in the wilderness. Selah. I would hasten my escape From the windy storm and tempest.”
Instead of giving God control over whatever situation I find myself in, I feel sorry for myself and wish for “the good old days”. I forget God’s words to me~
“…but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13-14)
I hold on to grief.
This has been a hard one for me. I can’t seem to grasp the reality of it. It’s almost as if my mind tricks itself and forgets that reality. Over a year later and still, I have fleeting, random thoughts about inviting my dad over for dinner, or sitting on his porch to watch the sun set together. Of course, I immediately remember he is gone. And then I weep. Too often I hold on to that brokenness and sit in that grief instead of letting it go and glorying in the fact that no sunset here on earth can replace the beauty my dad is beholding even now.
I hold on to bad habits.
Oh not my own, just everyone else’s haha. (Which actually is a really, really bad habit) My husband’s for instance. You know, the small, insignificant things that happen on a daily basis. The ones that build up tensions in marriage after 37 years. Dirty clothes that don’t quite make it into the basket. A kitchen that’s left a mess. Dirt tracked through the house. Toothpaste all over the sink and mirror. You know, seriously stupid little things that shouldn’t bother me. But I let them. I allow them to irritate me instead of focusing on all the good and rejoicing in the day that God has given me, because my tomorrow with the love of my life is not promised. (Refer to last week’s post)
“This is the day which the LORD hath made; We will rejoice and be glad in it.”
Which leads to my next point.
I hold on to bitterness.
I try to control it, but it eats away at me. It pops into my head in the middle of the night, or first thing in the morning.
“And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit…”
“For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”
I get out that sword~God’s word, to battle against it, but it is continually there and when I am not careful to bring it to God and ask the Holy Spirit to safeguard my heart, every little thing I am bitter about is magnified~ and the person I am bitter with seems to anger me more and more. Everything they say or do is scrutinized and seen as wrong in my eyes. Relationships can be ruined by one tiny seed of bitterness.
I hold on to fear instead of trust.
This is my topic for next week.
I hold on to lies instead of laughter.
All of these things I’m feeling, all of these things I’m holding on to so tightly are areas I try to control on my own. When I can’t control them, I find myself believing Satan’s lies about each one. I find myself checking out or getting angry, and before I know it I am sitting in a pile of pettiness. Laughter is no where in sight. The joy of the Lord is long gone.
God has used the wise words of two women to help me in each of these areas. The simple words~ “I don’t let it bother me anymore”~ had a profound impact on me. What if I chose to live that way every day, in every area? Could I? Remember our scripture from last week? You know the one God repeated quite often?
WITH GOD NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE. (Mark 9:23, 10:27, Matthew 17:20, 19:26, Luke 1:37, 18:27, Jeremiah 32:17&27, Philippians 4:13)
Yes we can live that way, but only by surrendering that control over to God and allowing Him to do the impossible in our lives.
And the second set of wise words~
”I had to learn what was important and let go of the rest.” We choose to put pile after pile on to our human shoulders and carry our baggage with us everywhere, until we feel like we are sinking in despair. Sometimes we convince ourselves that we can’t possibly let it go. The things we’re holding on to become prison chains around our necks. In our human frailty we cannot break those chains, but our mighty God can. Remember? Our God of the impossible. “…for the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds…”
(2 Corinthians 10:4)
The things you have a hard time letting go of might be completely different than mine. Perhaps you can’t let go of the past. Maybe you can’t let go of unmet expectations or unanswered prayers. Maybe it’s a hurt that’s had you deeply wounded. Maybe it’s the broken dreams of what you thought your life was supposed to be by now.
Whatever you cannot let go of~
God wants us to give ALL of it to Him. He is the only One Who can handle it.
The things we DO need to hold on to that are important?
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.”
“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”
The peace that passes all understanding. (Philippians 4:6)
The joy of the Lord. (Nehemiah 8:10)
Praise God He understands that we are human. We are weak. Praise God that he shows us He understands this by giving us one example after another in scripture of others who are just like us. Praise God that He gives us promises of Heaven and eternal life through His Son. Praise God that He doesn’t hold our continual bad habits over us, but has mercy and grace when we seem to fall back into those habits on a daily basis. Praise God for the Holy Sprit who can go to battle for us against bitterness and ALWAYS overcome. Praise God for the fruits of His Spirit that He freely gives to us, no matter how often we ask.
Praise God for laughter.
What are you holding onto my friend?
Let it be the sweet laughter of total surrender.
Praise God for laughter.
Have you ever had one of those weeks or months or maybe even years? Whether it’s small stuff that continually goes wrong in a 24 hour time frame, or horrific stuff that leaves a cloud of despair hanging heavily over your head~the circumstances suck all the joy and laughter from your life. It’s times like this that you begin to feel utterly alone, and sometimes even a little afraid that you won’t ever laugh again.
My daughter in law sent me a snap chat the other week with the title of this post. We laughed, but there was a certain heaviness to it. And that’s what prompted my topic for my ladies banquet, as well as this post~
Live, Love, Laugh, Leave Me Alone. Learning To Surrender Control to God and Truly Enjoy Life.
After much prayer, I decided to share it with you all. My heart is burdened to help you laugh again. My heart is burdened for you to know the lasting happiness that produces that laughter, genuine laughter~ you know…the kind that makes you cry or pee your pants a little. 😉 Good old fashioned joy.
I’m going to break this series down into five topics:
Live For today
Let Things Go
Learn to Trust in God’s Power
Love God and Allow Him to Love You
This week we will focus on LIVE (For Today) and in the weeks to come I hope to share 4 more areas that will help you to laugh again.
LIVE FOR TODAY
This isn’t something we usually hear. Normally we are told to live with eternity in mind, and we definitely should, but God also tells us to find joy in the day to day and not to fret about, or fear our future.
Quite often, we have no control over our futures. We might think we do, but every moment of every day is an uncertainty. There are no guarantees. Every thought we have, every action or reaction we choose, every breath we breathe, every moment spent with God and with loved ones could be our last. We could have the perfect plan for our lives, but when we try to control every aspect of that plan and cling to it tightly in our fists, any time something goes wrong~ our joy and laughter will slowly be sucked from our souls. But, when we surrender each day to God and give Him control of our days, we know that whatever happens tomorrow or the next day or even the next year, is for our good~no matter how hard the circumstances might be.
“Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.” Matthew 6:34
“Sing unto the Lord, bless his name; shew forth his salvation from day to day.” Psalm 96:2
It really seems too simple, especially if life kicks you when you’re down. The little things that get to us in a 24 hour time frame can easily be given over to the Lord, and we can lay in bed at night with the full assurance that tomorrow is another day. The times it is most difficult is when the hard hits. The diagnosis, the failed marriage, the job loss, the wayward child, the death.
Those are the times we want to scream at the world~ “LEAVE ME ALONE!”Those are the times that joy and laughter seem impossible.
My sweet friend, with Jesus, nothing is impossible.
“With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible.” Mark 10:27
“With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.”
“For with God nothing shall be impossible.” Luke 1:37
(It’s pretty clear God wanted us to get this point)
When you have fallen to the ground with no fight left in you, He is laying right there on the ground next to you, holding your hand. He is whispering to your soul that He will pick you up when you are ready. He doesn’t rush you. He simply wraps you in His comfort. Joy will come again in the morning, even if He has to lay with you there all night long. He will never leave you. The joy of the Lord is your strength.
“Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.”
“I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” Hebrews 13:5
“For the Lord thy God, He it is that doth go with thee; He will not fail thee, nor forsake thee….He will be with thee, He will not fail thee, neither forsake thee…” Deuteronomy 31:6,8
“The Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.” Joshua 1:9
“For I the Lord thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee.: Isaiah 41:13
“…Neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10
“This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24
Rejoice means to feel joy or great delight. It also means to give joy to.
Here are some ways to feel joy and delight in today:
Find something to be thankful for~ every single day.
Give God glory and praise~ every single day.
Uplift someone else~ every single day.
Don’t just seek joy for yourself,
look for ways to give joy to others~
every single day.
Look for joy in the little things.
Laugh with God. Laugh at yourself. Laugh with loved ones.
View every day as if it could be your last.
Focus on Jesus. When you feel your heart drifting search for Him.
Pursue God. He is there next to you in every beautiful thought and happy feeling you have ever had.
Think on things that bring you laughter, and then laugh again.
Remember that your joy gives your great God the greatest glory.
Find joy in today with eternity in mind. Every day is a gift, a new opportunity to find happiness and laughter. Fully surrender your days to God and ask Him to help you to focus on today, leaving your tomorrows with Him. No matter what those tomorrows hold, this life is not the end. Jesus is waiting for us with open arms. He gave His life to give us new life. A life filled with joy because of Him. The true joy that brings genuine laughter~
the kind that makes you cry or pee your pants a little. 😉
Good old fashioned joy.
As I was praying about what I could post for Mother’s Day last week, part of me was at a loss. I thought back to my early years of motherhood~
All the helpless moments. The weary days and the long nights.
And all the amazing moments filled with joy and laughter.
The longing in a Grandma’s heart to go back and do it better,
or just to go back and hold them and rock them one more time.
There were times my husband and I thought we had it all figured out, but as I look back now, I realize we didn’t know a thing. With age comes wisdom. The wisdom in admitting that even at this age~I don’t know a thing. That knowledge has my heart searching for answers, and for wisdom from those who have been where I am even now.
And so, I asked my Mother In Law if she could impart wisdom to young moms, and older moms, and all the moms in between. I have always viewed my Mother In Law as the “All Knowing Fountain of Wisdom”, so her response surprised me. Her words were: “I appreciate that you feel that my advice has the potential to be of benefit to anyone, but I fear you may be seeing me through eyes of love.” And so, perhaps I did glean a little age old wisdom in my acknowledgment that~ the older we get, the more we feel we aren’t really wise at all. And yet, her words brought truth to my heart that I wanted to share with all ladies, whether you are a mom or not.
Here are her words:
1. “Marry the right man. When dealing with moms, they have already made that decision for better or worse. The philosophy of “it takes a village” may be popular, but it ideally takes a couple who are willing to devote themselves to raising responsible human beings who know and love God. People who can take care of themselves and others.” (The verdict is still out on whether or not she thinks I chose wisely. She keeps reminding me~”I warned you”… 😂)
2. “Children don’t belong to us. If we do it right they become independent and we feel abandoned until we realize we gave them the tools that made it possible.”
3. Seek backup and be the backup. My mother in law told me that she had “total backup. Husband, parents, in-laws, sisters, all in harmony with their beliefs. Very few people are so blessed.” So often I hear parents sharing hardships on their journey of child rearing, and sadly I also hear the response~’it was your choice to have kids.’ Raising godly children who love the Lord and want to serve Him is probably the hardest yet most important task a mother can do. A task that ultimately brings great glory to God. Be the back up. Don’t demean that task with trivial comments. Just as you have hardships in your life, mom’s do too. Let’s strive to support them on their journey of motherhood and raising little ones who will one day be our next generation.
As I was having my devotions this week, God brought something to my attention. Even Moses, the man who God spoke to directly, needed advice from his Father In Law. Moses could have responded to his Father In Law in a negative way. He could have said- ‘Don’t you realize who you are advising? The man who talks directly to God! Who do you think you are?’ But that wasn’t his response at all . He humbly accepted the advice given, and it helped him tremendously. God could have given that advice to Moses directly, but God chose to use Moses Father in Law to impart that wisdom.
Ladies, we don’t have it all figured out. We never will until we get to glory, especially when it comes to this mom thing. Learn to seek wisdom from those who have traveled this journey before us. I’m so thankful I did. My Mother In Law may believe that I see her this way through eyes of love, but God has used her in mighty ways in my life, and for that I will forever be thankful.
Marry the right man. Give your children to God. Seek backup. Be the backup. Four simple things, yet four things that can change your life and the lives of your children for eternity.
Thank you Mom! I love you!
My Mom let me be little.
I knew I wanted to do the same for my own children. It was something I prayed about often~ not putting too much responsibility on the shoulders of my children, especially my oldest. It’s so easy to do, the more kids you have. I prayed I would allow her to laugh and be silly. To play longer. To imagine and dream.
To be little.
I watched other moms, and I remembered. My mom gave me that gift.
She let me play with dolls until the sixth grade. She let me cry when I was hurting and hugged me when I was sad. She never told me to toughen up or to grow up.
She let me be little.
Perhaps others might think I was coddled and I’ll be the first to admit, I probably was at times.
But more than anything, I am thankful.
There are so many fine lines in the journey of motherhood. What if we’re doing it wrong? What if we’re coddling too much? Or not enough? What if we’re giving them too many responsibilities at too young an age? Are we babying them, or making them grow up too fast? Do we lose our patience when they cry too much? When they talk non stop in the middle of a terrible day, and we just want peace and quiet. Do we get irritated when they whine too much or ask for our help?
Over and over and over?
Don’t we do all the same things?
Ask yourself that question. As an adult, do we feel the weight of responsibility? Do we cry when we’re hurt and whine when we’re irritated. Do we need a hug when we’re sad? We feel “all the things” as an adult, but our reactions are somehow justified because~
Doesn’t every mom know that motherhood is hard?
Mama, sometimes life for your little one can be very hard too. Everything is big in their world. Big scary moments. Big hurting moments. Big happy moments and big moments filled with love. Do we find ourselves telling them to toughen up? Or grow up? All the heaviness of adulthood will come soon enough. Do we forget that they’ve only been on this earth for 2 years or 4 years? Even 10 years is a drop in the bucket when you are on this journey of motherhood~
because you blink and it’s over.
The house is empty.
Why am I thankful my mom let me be little? Because in that allowing, she taught me that I can’t always do it all alone. And that is okay.
Sometimes I need help, and not only that~ I need love, and hugs, and reassurances. And that’s okay too.
And in the teaching I have learned that even when my “adult people” may fail me in these areas~ my Heavenly Father never does. I can go to Him for anything. I can cry and whine with Him. I can be scared. I can laugh and I can talk non stop. I can ask Him for help.
Over and over and over~
and He never gets tired of me asking.
He never gets irritated or impatient.
That’s what my mama taught me in allowing me to be little.
Sometimes as adults life can be too big for us too, motherhood can be too big for us~but it’s never too big for God. When it gets hard and we feel all the “adult things”, we can go to Him in child like wonder and His love will be bigger than them all.
It’s okay to be little with God.
So here is some advice from a mother who is still learning. Pray for wisdom, every single day. Look for the ways you need your heavenly Daddy, and demonstrate that to your babies in how you act and react to them. Apologize often. Laugh with them, play with them, hug on them.
But most of all~
Let your love be bigger than
everything else in their life~
and let them be little.
Have you ever thought about who helped Adam and Eve raise their kids? I mean, let’s get real here. No Bible, no books, no TV, no church setting, social media or podcasts. Not even parents who had been through it before and could give advice, or babysitting services, or just a shoulder to cry on. Nada. Zilch. Nothing. Just Adam and Eve.
How often do we forget about God in the mix. We run to all those other things on our journey of the perfection of parenthood, but often forget about the most important One we need to run to.
Whether it’s questions about pregnancy, labor and delivery, terrible two’s or the horrible teen years. Whether it’s tears caused by an empty nest due to college or marriage, or tears due to a wayward child.
We feel lost in the questions and uncertainties. We get fearful or fretful and we just want help. Somehow in the quest to be the best version of mom we can be, we forget to go to God first and we run to those who can say~
“Been there, done that.”
Do you realize God is the ultimate parent that can say “Been there, done that”? Look at EVERYTHING He has gone through with His children. 2 Peter 1:3-4
You want to know something else we often overlook? Despite having complete, unfiltered access to God and all His wisdom, despite not being influenced by the distractions of this present world~somehow Eve’s first born was still messed up.
And mama. That’s not on Eve.
And it’s not on you.
It’s a result of sin.
The reality of that can leave a mama feeling pretty helpless, if not for the fact of one thing.
God is still in control.
You might believe you have everything under control because you have read all the right books and listened to all the right podcasts and followed all the right people on social media. You might think you have it all under control because your child is in every church service, you pray with them and read the Bible to them daily. You do all the right things.
But you are not in control. God is.
Does He want us to do our best and strive to raise children who honor and glorify Him? Who love Him and truly know Him? Does He want our children to have a relationship with Him?
But He never wants you to forget that He is the One in control. Ephesians 1:11 Not a manipulative control, but a control with our ultimate good in mind. A control spawned from love, grace, mercy, forgiveness, comfort and peace.
Sin is real. It’s hard and it’s scary and it’s strong. Especially when it involves our children.
But God is stronger. He knew your child before the foundation of the world was ever laid. Before sin had ever cursed it. Before Eve’s eldest ever messed up. And all along He has had a plan for your children.
God’s ultimate plan is the salvation of all mankind. He can use your children for His glory and that very purpose.
2 Peter 3:8-9
The irony in the story of Eve’s firstborn is that he had the wrong heart attitude. He wanted to do things his way. He wanted to be in control of what he gave to God. That’s a powerful lesson to us as moms, because we are still doing that today.
The best thing we can do is to let go of that grasp of control we have on our children and hand them over to God. It might seem like a risk we aren’t willing to take. Our children are our everything.
But God is so much more.
And sometimes as parents, that’s a place we aren’t willing to go to.
Love God more.
Whatever stage of motherhood you are in right now, determine to go to God above all else. Pray over your children. Read scripture to them. Take them to church. Don’t get discouraged. Remind yourself daily that despite everything that could go wrong and might go wrong, despite the strong curse of sin~God is stronger and His promises to us will never fail.
One of the sweetest promises we can cling to as mamas is this~All things work together for the good to them that
LOVE GOD. Romans 8:28
It’s not on you mama.
Do your best.
And in the moments you fear you have failed, remember~when we truly give our children to the Lord~
It’s all on God and He’s got this.
Love those babies.
Love God more.
Most of my children are amazing cooks, and the ones that aren’t readily admit to that fact. It can often be intimidating to cook for them. Mom, whose meals were once the delight of her little ones now takes a back burner. I don’t mind though. I get the fruits of their labor. My daughter-in-law’s Baked Ziti is a favorite of mine. My son-in-law’s have skills in the kitchen that I seriously envy, and my second child shares delectable recipes on her blog with tens of thousands of followers.
And so, The Tuna Casserole.
My husband is a meat and potato kind of guy and despite the amazing dishes my kids come up with, he often prefers… well~meat and potatoes. Haha. The only casserole he truly enjoys is The Tuna Casserole.
The casserole I have never enjoyed.
He bought all the ingredients for it the other day, intending to make it himself. Because I love that meat and potatoes man, I surprised him while he was out and threw it all together. It’s an understatement for me to say he was thrilled. It seemed like such a simple thing. He was genuinely ecstatic. He hugged me and told me he loved me. He boasted that I took it to a ‘whole new level’, and then he said this~
”Take a picture of it and send it to the kids”. 😂😂😂 In this day and age of social media, that is the ultimate compliment. A compliment on a dish I would venture to say wasn’t my best work, and one I would never share a picture of! But the joy on his face and the love in his words meant the world. They truly made me happy. All for a tuna casserole.
As I thought about it, it hit me…Sometimes I look at the talents and gifts of other women and wonder how God could ever use me. I am just ordinary. I overthink everything. I compare way too much. I want to be better, do better, pray more, be more hospitable. Be everything to everyone. My husband, my family, my church, my social media platforms. That’s me. In my mind I’m never measuring up, but striving to be that recipe that reaches tens of thousands.
But then God leans down and whispers into my overactive heart and mind~
“Reach one. Start with reaching out to one in My name. Willingly give your heart for My cause and seek to bless one person today. Just one.”
It seems so small. Almost too small. Shouldn’t I be making grand gestures for the Lord? But I listen. And I reach out to that one that God has laid on my heart.
And I become the tuna casserole.
Jesus didn’t ask us to feed the 5,000. That’s His job. He asks us to bring a cup of water to the least of these. One cup of water. One note of encouragement. One visit. One hug. There is no doubt God can use the talents of many to reach thousands for Him, but he can also use the ordinary people like you and I to do the extraordinary.
To be the hands and feet of Jesus.
(John 13:14-15, Isaiah 52:7,
To be the very heart of Jesus.
To love like Jesus loves. (1 John 4:7, 12)
It’s wrong for me to compare. It’s something I have to ask God to continually help me with. Each of us are different. God has given some of us amazing talents to be used by Him, and some of us are the tuna casseroles.
(I Peter 4:10) And that’s okay, because that’s what He created us to be.
I might feel like a mess of ingredients all thrown together, but I’m God’s mess and when I use those ingredients out of love for my Savior, it brings Him joy because I’m not doing it for me. I’m doing it for Him. (Matthew 25:35-40)
We’re His workmanship, created for His good works. (Ephesians 2:10). When our hearts are softened to the needs of those around us, even if it’s just one person~ God is glorified.
When God sees us reaching out to help the hurting, the joy on His face outshines any grand gesture you could’ve made on your own. Even when that help will never be made known to the tens of thousands, or posted on social media.
God sees that tuna casserole. That’s me, and one day when I see Him face to face, my prayer is that there will be joy in the beholding and love in His words~”Well done”. (Hebrews 6:10) And then I’m sure He will hug me and tell me how much He loves me~because that’s just who He is.
(1 John 4:16)
Be an ordinary Tuna Casserole and do extraordinary things for Him. Not only will it make you happy, but it will bring tremendous happiness to others.
One cup of water is a good place to start.
We always hid Easter baskets for our kids when they were little. They absolutely loved finding those baskets, even when it got too hard and they were prompted with the timeless hints of “hot” and “cold”.
Why did they love it so much?
They were expecting a basket full of joy because of all it held inside.
What are we expecting?
Sadly, many of us have grown cold.
We have gotten farther and farther away from the joy that comes in the expected. And in the coldness, time spent with God has become a duty.
Church should never be just a duty.
It’s not a job where you clock in and clock out.
It’s not a “Christmas and Easter only” facility, yet that’s how many of us view it.
What are we expecting when we walk through the doors?
Are we expecting God’s presence to wash over us as we sing to Him?
As we hear His words, are we expecting those words to change our heart and soul?
Are we expecting those words to bring life?
Or, do we simply attend expecting nothing at all and leave with the same emptiness we had before we came?
Clock in. Clock out.
Three days after Christ was crucified a heartbroken Mary went to His tomb.
What was she expecting? She wasn’t expecting emptiness, yet that’s what she found.
She found emptiness because she wasn’t searching for life.
Mary could have left that day with a continued emptiness. With a heavy sorrow.
What was different?
Unlike so many of us, in her emptiness Mary realized how desperately she needed the Savior and it was in that moment that He revealed Himself to her by simply saying her name. Mary.
And she knew. He was alive.
His presence washed over her and her heart was changed. The tomb was empty but her heart was full.
Life can get hard, but it doesn’t have to be. God is always prompting us to draw closer. We don’t have to remain cold.
Just like a child searching for and expecting to find a basket full of joy, let me encourage you to expect the unexpected this Easter.
What can make the difference? Search for life. The difference comes in the expecting.
An empty tomb. A risen Savior.A life changed. A heart full.
A basket full of joy because of all it holds inside.
What are you expecting?
Whatever you are looking for is what you will find~and everything you’re looking for can be found in Christ.
I listened to his breathing. Tears fell unashamedly from my eyes. It was excruciating to hear the labor with every breath that was drawn.
My heart yearned for heaven for him.
I didn’t want him to leave, but I did not want this pain for him.
So many of us have lost loved ones in the last few years. Death seems to be on the forefront of social media, as well as the prayer chains in our churches. Sorrow upon sorrow have hit so many. It has hit me more than I care to think on.
I saw a picture recently that brought it to my mind once again. The sign read~”We know you would be here today, if heaven wasn’t so far away”. I understood the heart behind the words, but I rejoiced in the truth of God’s word and what a difference it can make in the believer’s life.
If you have lost a loved one this might sound like your reality, but my friend~it is not. Heaven is not far away at all. Heaven is only one breath away for the believer. One last breath and you are in the presence of God. There is no waiting.
2 Corinthians 5:8
Just a breath.
My scripture reading has been in the book of Job lately. A book that I desperately need God’s help to wrap my mind around. God never fails. I asked my husband why some preachers act like it’s so wonderful that in the end, Job got a double portion of everything he had previously lost.
Everything except his children.
Every one of Job’s children had been killed. I could not wrap my mind around the idea that yes, Job had more kids, but they could never replace the children he had lost. My husband’s answer convicted me.
God did not replace the children that Job lost, because they were not lost. He would see them again. 2 Samuel 12:23
How often do I forget this when I think on all those that I loved so dearly who have left this earth?
They are not far away at all.
They are as close as my last breath.
Sweet friend, Jesus died on the cross to give us eternal life. Do we dare look at the cross and tell Jesus it is not enough? That what He endured for us wasn’t enough? When we work harder at being good, always hoping it’s good enough. When we give more to the church, as if trying to buy our way in~that’s exactly what we are telling our Savior. The words of Jesus become null and void in our representation of earning our way to heaven.
His words~”It is finished”.
God tells us that absent from the body is present with the Lord, and that the only way to be in His presence after death is through Jesus finished work on the cross. I John 5:12-13, Luke 23:43, Hebrews 7:25.
Our repentance, His forgiveness. Romans 10:9-13
Once that’s our reality, Jesus tells us that no one can pluck us out of our Father’s hand. John 10:28-29. We have a home in heaven one day with our God of mercy, grace and love. No question.
Immediately in His presence.
And so my friend, rejoice in that truth. We might not understand why God chooses to take our loved ones when He does. Job 42:3 We weep, but so did our Savior. He understands our emotions because He lived them. John 11:35 We sorrow because we love, but we sorrow with the hope of heaven bringing light to our sadness. 1 Thessalonians 4:13
And knowing this~ we don’t ever have to be afraid of death, or feel as if God and Heaven are far away. Psalm 49:15, 1 Corinthians 15:54-58
If you are sorrowing today, ask God to bring the light of hope to your sadness.
Your loved one isn’t far at all.
Heaven is only one breath away.
I realized some things about myself this week.
I go through seasons where I tend to be too self centered. I tend to feel sorry for myself. I tend to make excuses. I have a worship/me complex that I call being a “people pleaser”. The reality is that I just want everyone to like me. I over analyze and under appreciate.
And I take an awful lot for granted.
Too often in these seasons I wallow in “me”.
When I take my eyes off of Jesus, even for a split second, Satan creeps into this overactive mind of mine and convinces me of a thousand and one things I should be bitter, or angry, or sad about.
This week, despite Satan’s efforts to thwart my joy, God’s faithfulness and love outshined any attempt Satan could have at disarming me.
God continually showed me how much He loves me and how much I have to be thankful for.
Over, and over, and over.
I got to spend the week with my family. My husband, children, their spouses and my grandchildren. All in the same house. We got to come to our favorite little island in the Carolinas. The same place we’ve been coming for 37 years. It never gets old and we cherish every single memory it holds. The time spent with extended family is icing on the cake.
I got to sit with my husband and children our last evening together and talk about our Savior’s goodness. I got to pray with them all, as we shared our hearts together. And I felt His presence. We cried and we laughed and all I could think was “Thank you Jesus”.
God showed me that He doesn’t bless me because I do good things. This week was evidence of that. I was momentarily wallowing in self pity before we ever left for vacation. He doesn’t bless me because I check off all the “good Christian” boxes, ie church attendance, bible reading and prayer.
He does it out of sheer love and that in itself brings me to my knees, because I know I don’t deserve it. I don’t deserve any of it.
This week He gifted me with beautiful, selfless friends. He gifted me with inconsequential items I’ve been wishing for for my home. He gave me happy days playing on the beach with those I love most. He gave me precious uninterrupted time with my family. He gave me multiple hugs and kisses from grandchildren. He gave me a fresh perspective and memories I will cherish forever.
So today, my only desire is to glorify Him and say thank you.
A thousand times thank you.
If you find yourself in a place you don’t long to be, if your heart is sad and you can’t seem to get past Satan’s attempts to thwart you, fix your eyes on Jesus.
Fix your eyes on Jesus~
and say thank you.
Thank you Jesus.
There’s something magical about stories and stairways when you are a child.
My daughter recently sent a picture of my two granddaughters playing on their stairs. What is it about stairs that are so intriguing when you’re little? That picture sparked a long ago memory in my mind of a story and illustration in a childhood book my mother used to read to me. A book that ignited my little imagination to the far away worlds I could travel or the little mama with her baby dolls that I could become~ all on those stairs.
My own stairs hold many special memories, even as an adult. Today they lead me up to my own bedroom where grandchildren nap, or play dress up with my clothes. They lead me up to quiet mornings spent talking to my Savior. But before that they led me up to the reality of my little girl dreams. To bed time stories and talks about Jesus. To sweet goodnight kisses and childhood prayers.
They led me to my children.
When I think on it, there’s something magical with every step I take because it brings me right back to a faraway world of a little mama, and the book she read so long ago. A book that changed her outlook on a simple set of stairs.
And I cannot help but think of another book~ God’s word~ and wonder how many mamas are taking the time to read that book to their own children. A book that can change their outlook for eternity. A book that can lead them and teach them of a not so far away world called Heaven where they can always have a home with their Father.
I’m reminded of a mother who read the incredible story of Noah’s ark to her son. When she finished, her son innocently asked her a simple question~ “why weren’t there any children on the ark?”
Her reply was heartbreaking ~
“Their parents didn’t make sure that they were.”
That hit my own heart hard.
Yes, spend time with your children. Play with them. Let their imaginations dream up far away lands and dreams come true, all while playing on stairways. Read to them to spark that imagination but don’t ever forget to read the most important book of all. God’s word. Make sure they know the greatest story of all. The story of Gods redeeming grace and love and the gift of forgiveness through his Son.
The story of Jesus.
One day I will go up those stairs for the last time. That day could be today, or many years down the road. I will leave my children and my grandchildren, because Jesus will be calling me home. He will smile and hug me and welcome me there. I want to make sure that I took every opportunity to tell them the story of Jesus and how to have a relationship with Him that is real. That when my hands let go of theirs, there will be no apprehension because I will know my Savior is holding them when I no longer can.
Don’t wait to read God’s word to your children. Don’t wait to tell your children about your Savior. They are never too young, and they are never too old. Talk about Him every single day.
Tell them the story of Jesus.
Write on their hearts every word,
Tell them the story most precious~
Sweetest that ever was heard.
How often my stairs led me to my children. Our job as mamas is to lead those children to Christ.
I was blessed to have a very unusual high school experience.
I know many others could not say the same. When I look back on those years, I truly believe God used every incident to produce habits in my own life for years to come. For that, I am forever grateful.
I went to a very small Christian high school that was a part of our church ministry. The friendships that were forged are the kind that last a lifetime. One thing about those years that really stands out in my heart and mind is this~
I never felt alone.
I felt loved by a community of believers and friends who always had my back. Through grief they comforted. When I fell away from God, they lovingly picked me up. When I laughed, they laughed with me. When I cried, they held me close. When God moved in hearts, we celebrated together.
There was never a feeling of loneliness, unworthiness or judgment. I never felt the need to be something I was not.
Many years have passed since I was that impressionable teenager. Sadly, through the years a few people have now and then made me feel like I didn’t quite measure up.
I know that I am not alone in this area, and yet it’s an incredibly lonely feeling.
There have been times I have fallen away from God and felt shame. Times I would never dream of sharing my failures with others, or even ask for help because of that shame. I was all too familiar with the inevitable reaction of shaking heads and disapproving judgment.
There have been times I find myself knee deep in the insecure feelings of “not good enough”, convinced that I’m doing it wrong, saying it wrong, writing it wrong or sharing it wrong. Convinced that everyone else has their act together and knows what they’re doing in their Christian walk, except for me. Convinced I should be someone else. A much better version of me.
What have we become? Why are so many churches filled with people that look the part but have no empathy or compassion for others? Who continually find the speck of wrong doing in others, but can’t even see the log homes of pretense they themselves are building? (Matthew 7:1-5) Churches filled with people, often women, who make others feel “less than” and alone.
Our church communities should not be this way. I have found that many churches tend to lean one way or the other. Too many churches are made up of people playing a part. People who look down on others who don’t outwardly measure up. The Bible calls them Pharisees. (Matthew 23:25-28) On the other hand there are churches filled with people who share the “come as you are” mantra, but don’t follow through with biblical teaching on how to grow beyond where they linger. There is no solid ground of repentance and forgiveness, encouragement and change. It’s all just a “feel good” atmosphere. The Bible calls this the seeds that have fallen on stony places. (Matthew 13:4-9, 18-23) Both can leave a person feeling very alone.
Jesus never intended any of this to be our reality.
What was my high school reality? I can remember a friend sharing scripture with me on the bus ride to a basketball game. I was going through uncertainty, and she lifted me up with God’s words. When I found out my grandpa was diagnosed with cancer, I can remember the comfort I felt in the embrace of a friend as she held me in silence and allowed me to cry. I can remember a group of us sharing tears of joy in the bathroom after a revival service at our church. I can remember testimonies of God’s working in front of bonfires. I can remember sharing the gospel with a new student and friend in an empty room off of the church sanctuary, and her prayer asking Jesus to save her. I can remember that Jesus was real to us, and we were real with each other.
What habits did my high school years teach me? That we could be truthful without feeling “less than”. That we could share in the good without the worry that others would think we were bragging. That we could cry without being made to feel weak. That we could share our struggles without condemnation. That we could talk about God without feeling like others viewed us as trying to appear “better than”.
That we could be real.
Real and never alone.
Just like Jesus taught.
Just like Jesus was here on earth~
and still is today.
That should be our reality.
A fellow sister in Christ should never feel alone. We should have each others backs instead of sticking knives in them. We should lend a hand when they fall, and give our heart when they’re hurting. We should rejoice when they rejoice, and weep when they weep. (Romans 12) We should reach down and lift them up. We should be the hands and feet of Jesus, and have the heart of Him who saved us from the wretched sinners we all are. (Romans 3: 10, 23)
Somehow I think too many forget that part.
Today, search your hearts. Look into someone’s eyes and tell them it’s going to be okay. Give them your hand and your heart and lift them up. Share God’s words of love with them.
Empowerment as women should not be our goal.
Making sure that others never feel alone should be our calling.
Just like Jesus.
A habit we should never, ever forget.
What Hinders Prayer
Fair warning~this will be a long post, but it is one that I feel is so important and needs to be addressed.
Please bare with me…
*My mind has been ruminating on the words I wrote last week. The little things that God kept nudging me about.
Why did my prayer life feel so hindered again today?
My mind seemed to be everywhere, except on the words I longed to speak to my Savior. Everything kept it wandering, from what I needed to do that day to my grumbling stomach~ and even my grocery list.
And I pondered.
Why was I so easily distracted?
Along with that, my ladies Bible study was on the topic of pride for two weeks in a row. Then the preacher (aka my husband) touched on it in his message. The verse of the day warned against it and I knew God was obviously trying to show me something.
I searched deep within my heart. I truly did not feel I had a pride issue, (even though I now realize how prideful that sounds) and yet God continued to bring it up. I almost argued with Him. I know everything I have comes from Him. I am nothing. The words I pen are not my own, they are His. In my humanness I was searching for pride issues in the wrong areas. But still He nudged, so I continued to ask Him to please show me.
Today He did. My eyes were opened to something I never even realized.
Despite my arguments, I knew I had pride issues. And I repented.
I cannot tell you the amount of times in my 56 years that I have “felt” as if God was silent. Times where prayer seemed like a struggle or like my words were just bouncing off the ceiling. The closeness with Jesus was not there. Yet, every single time God was there. He was not far away, despite my feelings. He always made this known to me~sometimes He showed me the reasons in big ways, and sometimes He showed me in the tiniest ways.
Today I give you some of those reasons to ponder. Things God has revealed to my own heart in times like these.
The first and most important reason we may feel as if God is far away~
We aren’t truly His child. This isn’t a “religion” thing. This isn’t a “come to my church” thing or become my “denomination” thing. This is God and His words. We are NOT all God’s children. (John 1:12) The world might like to repeat that feel good phrase, but it is not true. God in His word tells us that the ONLY way we become God’s children is through His Son Jesus Christ who died for our sins on the cross. (John 14:6) No religion and no amount of confessionals can get you to heaven. No good works can help you gain favor in God’s eyes and no amount of repetitive prayers can magically turn you into His child. (Ephesians 2:8,9) Only Jesus. Jesus and His forgiveness of our sins through grace. The end. This is the absolute most important thing you can ever do. If you cannot recall a time in your life when your heart truly believed this and you asked Jesus to forgive you of all your sins and to save your soul (Romans 10:10-13), please friend~ get that settled today. Become God’s child.
The second thing that hinders prayer is unconfessed sin. (Psalm 66:18) When we become God’s child we don’t automatically stop sinning. We are human. Whether it is intentional or something we don’t even realize, we will fall short because we aren’t perfect. (Romans 3:23) Only God is perfect. Because of this, it is important to always check our hearts and make sure we aren’t holding on to something that needs our repentance. Just like my pride. Ask God to show you. Believe me, He will. And once He does, tell Him you’re sorry. (1 John 1:5-10)
I cannot emphasize this next one enough. DON’T. GIVE. UP. Too often when it comes to our prayer life, we give up too quickly. If we don’t feel close to God or our prayers aren’t answered in a timely fashion, we just stop praying. (James 4:8) Don’t allow this to be the case. Keep on praying and don’t stop. Even if you feel like you are talking to a wall. You aren’t my friend. God is right there. There are a myriad of reasons you might feel this way, so don’t give up until you get a hold of God and He breaks through the walls that are hindering your prayer life.
And speaking of reasons why we “feel” this way is exactly that. Our feelings. Too often we base our prayers on the way we feel. Sometimes we need to look at it like marriage. I mean, let’s be honest~ I don’t always “feel” like being married. I don’t always “feel” like talking to Mike and let me share a little secret with you~ I don’t always “feel” like listening to him talk to me. Does that mean we are no longer married or that I no longer love him? No. It’s the same with our prayer life. We can’t base it on our feelings because we are sinful, wretched humans with crazy, sometimes erratic feelings. But, praise God we are loved and forgiven humans. Humans that God has unlimited grace, understanding and mercy on. (Hebrews 4:15) From the time we become His child, we forever remain His child (John 10:28, Jeremiah 31:3, 1 John 3:1) and He forever remains our daddy who never, ever leaves us no matter how we might “feel”.
So what do we do when our feelings do get in the way? When we don’t feel that closeness despite our persistence in prayer? We dig deep into God’s word. The Bible is literally God’s love letter to us. (Psalm 1:2, 104:34, 119: 48, 97, 99, Joshua 1:8) I can guarantee you that if you take the time to sit and read His words of promise, comfort, peace and love~your heart will change. (Matthew 6:21)Your prayers will have the solid rock to be built upon.(Matthew 7:24-27, 16:18, Psalm 18:2, 61:2, 2 Samuel 22:2-3) A strong foundation instead of weak feelings. Don’t trust your feelings. They lie. Trust God’s word. (Proverbs 3:5-6) God will always show you something new in His word to help you, if you stay consistent in the asking and don’t give up. I can’t even count the number of times His word spoke directly to my heart. It felt like my eyes were opened. Almost as if I was seeing something for the first time and a heavy weight was lifted. Giving everything to God is so freeing. The more you read, the more you get to know Him and the closer to Him you become. And you love Him. You suddenly realize He isn’t a far away God up in heaven somewhere but is as near to you as your very heart. Always with you. Lean in to Him. He never left. Our feelings just got in our way.
And last, why does my mind wander so much? I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s one of two things. I’m either anxious and worried, so my thoughts continually stray to the things I’m worried about. If that’s the case then I’m probably not trusting Christ with the situation and having faith that He will come through for me. Instead, I’m trying to figure out how I can fix it somehow on my own. And the second reason is simply because I’m a spoiled, unthankful child living in a generation full of other spoiled, unthankful children. I don’t have to beg God for my safety from another country bombing my town. I don’t have to beg for food or shelter. I don’t have to hide in order to read my Bible. Instead of being heavenly minded, I sit in my warm bed with a hot cup of coffee in my hand, an iPhone on my night stand and a bible on my lap. And my mind wanders to earthly things. (Matthew 6:21, James 4:2-3) Funny how our prayer life can change drastically when heart ache hits close to home. Our minds don’t tend to wander when we’re on our knees before God begging for His help. If we would just remain faithful in every season and learn to be thankful in remembering the thousands upon thousands of ways God has blessed us, our minds would be on Christ and not everything else. Too often we simply take Christ for granted.
If you search your heart and none of these areas seem to be an issue for you then I encourage you to hearken back to my words from last week’s post. Perhaps through it all your Savior just wants you to stop and to be still in His presence, until His presence is fully known and you realize all you ever needed was Him.
I realize this post may have stepped on a few toes. Truthfully, my toes needed stepping on. Prayer should never be ritualistic. It shouldn’t be about what we get or don’t get. It should be about spending time with our closest friend. Laughing with Him, crying with Him and being still with Him.
Just like every other area of our life~
It should be all about Him because He is everything to us.
It has been an emotional week.
My dad has been gone for a little over a year and yet, thoughts of his passing have come to the forefront of my mind for no particular reason. At times I can hardly wrap my mind around it. My dad went home to heaven the day after the funeral of one of our dearest friends, who had unexpectedly passed away just the week before.
The friend whose birthday would be this Monday~the day before my dads. They entered this earth a day apart and left this earth a week apart.
Thoughts of the trials my children have faced, and continue to face have also weighed on me. Thoughts of missing my sister-in-law as I watch her son get married tonight have brought tears of happiness mixed with tears of sorrow.
And then, thoughts of the horrors other countries are facing have been a constant, even as I write this.
I have struggled with what to post this week. I have prayed and asked God for words to encourage, and yet He has been silent.
And I couldn’t understand why.
I wondered if perhaps he didn’t want me to write a thing. Certainly I don’t want to post some cliche story that God never intended I share.
Sometimes you may wonder why continual “bad” hits you from every direction and God seems to remain silent.
Here’s the thing.
For me, He hasn’t been silent. He has been speaking to my soul, but my mind was screaming too loud to hear Him. My eyes were focused on the emotions I was feeling instead of on Him.
My scripture reading landed on Job this week. I’ll be honest, I didn’t want to read it. I complained. I told God I needed something uplifting, but He knew exactly what I needed.
Quotes that I had scheduled a month ago popped up on my Holding Hope page all week, and it still didn’t hit me. Quotes suggesting I pray about what my mind wanders to. Quotes reminding me to keep praying, even if all I have left is a whisper.
(1 Thessalonians 5:17, Philippians 4:6)
Quotes that told me to just Be Still.
My mind was anything but still. My thoughts were running a marathon inside it. But today in the tiny moments of quiet I had, I prayed again.
I finally heard Him.
His whispers through the cracks of distractions touched my heart.
(I Kings 19:11&11, Matthew 14:28-30)
He kept telling me to be still and as much as I argued that I was being still, I knew deep down I wasn’t. So I stopped. I stopped trying to figure out all the answers on my own. I stopped and I just sat. I sat on my bed and I asked Jesus to sit with me. Just to sit there and hold my hand and still my heart. (Matthew 28:20, Jeremiah 29:11)
And He did.
And He told me to tell you to do the same.
How easily I allow circumstances to weigh me down and steal my peace and joy as I wonder what’s going to happen. How easily I miss my loved ones and fall into a sadness I don’t want to climb out of, instead of realizing the comfort and hope of heaven.(1 Thessalonians 4:13) How easily I try to control situations and find myself in continual unrest. How easily I focus on the bad and miss all the good.
I miss Him.
We’re all looking for hope. For answers.
We scroll through social media looking for that quote or devotional that will give us those answers we’re seeking. We even open our bibles, as if a verse will magically appear to answer our “whys”. God often uses all of these things to help those in need, myself included, but sometimes in the looking we are striving in our flesh to find the answers that only God knows. Sometimes the answer is simply Him, and that’s all we need to know.
(Hebrews 6:18 & 19)
Once we get to the place of that realization our eyes are opened. We see life through Him and in His stillness, everything is changed. We suddenly understand that we don’t have to know all the answers, we just need to be still with Him. (Ephesians 1:18)
Don’t stop praying sweet friend, even if it feels like God is silent. He is not. Keep seeking Him in the stillness until His stillness pushes out all the distractions and it is just you and your Savior~
And through faith, you once again see your life through His eyes. The eyes of of Him who loves you and gave Himself for you.
(Galatians 2:20, 2 Corinthians 4:17 & 18)
Laughter is the best medicine, especially in marriage.
Years ago, my sister and brother-in-law told us a funny story. Back when cell phones first came out, before texting or caller ID, my sister-in-law was in the kitchen and got a call on her new cell phone. Thinking it must be very important she answered, only to discover it was my brother-in-law calling from the bedroom upstairs and asking her to bring him a bowl of ice cream. At the time that was unheard of, and we all got a good laugh out of it. Now couples text each other while they’re in the same room. Back then it seemed so silly~and even lazy~ that he would call her instead of just getting up and getting it himself, and that’s what made us laugh so hard.
Yes, it’s funny how time can change things. I think over time we can all get lazy in our marriages if we aren’t careful. And that’s when it seems that the little things really start to get to us.
I’m reminded of the wise words of a friend during our Ladies Bible Study one week. We were talking about husbands and habits, and how certain things can drive you crazy after a while. Her simple words had a huge impact~
“I just don’t allow it to bother me anymore”.
I was dumbfounded, but then I let her words sink in. What if I decided to not let it bother me anymore? All the silly, little things that I let get on my last nerve. Things that I didn’t allow to bother me in our first years of marriage.
Could I possibly do that?
With God’s help, that has been my goal.
That goal was put to the test the other day when I asked my husband to do something for me. Fifteen years ago his reply might have fueled a fight~ depending on the time of the month or the circumstances of the day. The thought of that makes me very sad. How easily I let things fuel the fire. As women, we don’t like to admit it but we do allow little things to dictate our emotions. In the moment we feel completely justified for our anger, and we don’t like it when our time of the month (or menopause) gets the blame for the words we say to our spouses. My time of the month is a time of the past now, and when I look back I know that 75% of our fights during that time could have been avoided. As wives, we need to be honest with ourselves in this regard.
Somehow as the years pass we adopt this behavior in marriage as ok. If we aren’t careful, we can allow little things that really don’t matter to slowly chip away at the foundation of something that started as a beautiful dream come true.
And so, I think about my sister-in-law and friend. She passed away at the early age of 35 after giving birth to her 6th baby. None of us could have imagined this would happen when we were laughing about that cell phone call and her husband’s request for ice cream. I’m so glad I have that memory. It always brings a smile but it also reminds me of her husband’s words after she passed away. “I wish I had never fought with her about the stupid things that made us fight”. As much as he cherished the laughter, he deeply regretted the fighting. Just like my older friend’s wise words, his words had a big impact, unfortunately I didn’t let them sink in deep enough. At the time I can remember looking over at my husband and thinking~
‘I’m never going to fight with him again’.
Almost twenty years later and there have been too many fights to count.
Because I let the little things get to me and I got lazy. I got lazy in fighting for the foundations of first love. And in my laziness, I got selfish. I didn’t want to talk things out or pray, too often I just wanted to be right.
What a waste.
Ladies, twenty years from now don’t look back and realize how much better your marriage could have been. Don’t allow yourself to get caught up “in the moment”. We don’t know how much time God will give us with our spouses, so make the very best of every single day you have together. Look at each day as if it could be your last. Don’t let the little things bother you. Don’t let the circumstances of the day or the dot on the calendar dictate your emotions. Give your marriage to God every single day. Don’t fight with each other, fight for each other. Talk things out. Spend time in God’s word. Pray together. Love on each other.
And most importantly laugh.
Always laugh together.
My husband’s reply the other day?
I chose laughter. I laughed and I hugged him and we laughed together. And it was sweet. And I just pray that God allows me many more days of laughter with this man I love. Because all those little things, those are the things satan will use to destroy that laughter. Determine today that with God’s help you won’t allow him to do that.
We hear the world’s words “choose your battles wisely”, but oh how sweet our marriages would be if we chose never to go to battle to begin with. To have on the armor of God continually, fighting off the wiles of the devil.
In the moment we can choose to be stubborn, miserable and right, or we can choose to look past all the silly, little, irritating things that don’t really matter~ and just laugh.
God wants us to laugh.
Choose the laughter ladies.
One day you will look back and be so thankful you did.
Happy memories can dance through the recesses of our minds and bring so much joy to an ordinary day. Memories give us hope, because we can see the entire picture that the happiness was painted around.
Tears can stay with us as well. Just as much as the happy memories can linger, so can the memories that brought us tears.
When I set my mind on one or the other, it amazes me how many of those moments come flooding back. The good and the bad. The moments that brought tears are so distinctive to me. Some have stayed with me from a very early childhood. They are etched into my brain and I can remember them like they were yesterday.
Kindergarten and the first death of a beloved pet.
The stinging words of a supposed friend.
Having to move for the first of many times.
My parents fighting.
My parents separation.
Leaving all my friends and moving far from our country home to a city filled with people.
A heart broken by young love.
The cool girl with her mean words.
The word cancer and the death of my grandfather after a year of hospital visits and treatments.
Watching the agonizing pain and heartache my mother was going through every single day because of it.
Leaving my family to move 700 miles away.
The words “your child will have birth defects. Termination is an option”.
Losing my best friend.
The mama tears of watching your children through every phase of their lives as they face all the same heartaches you did.
A crushing betrayal.
10 wasted years of unforgiveness.
Losing my mama.
Death upon death upon death.
Losing my daddy.
Unanswered prayers of a begging heart.
Too many tears to mention.
In those moments I did not want to hear~
“God does everything for a reason”
“We can’t have rainbows without rain”.
Or any of the cliche things that people say, because they don’t know what to say.
In those moments I just wanted to cry. And I wanted someone to cry with me and understand my pain.
Tears are very lonely.
Tears have a profound impact on us. Heartache can shape our souls if we allow it. Our days will be filled with misery or bitterness, anger or resentment, self pity or loss of hope. Sometimes even the loss of our will to live. And when the tears beat down on us day after day after day, sometimes we give up the fight, because there’s no fight left in us.
If we continually look back at our life we can have hope again because we can see that somehow when we truly believed all was lost, God brought us out to the other side. We were never alone. (Joshua 1:9) He was always with us, we just lost sight of him through the tears that blurred our vision and blinded our hearts.
Whatever might be causing your tears today will be a memory for your tomorrow. God does not just paint the beautiful pictures of happy moments. He paints His goodness and peace and comfort into every heartbreaking moment we go through. One day you will look back and see the entire picture God had painted.
His word tells us that He puts every one of our tears in a bottle, and writes them all down in a book. A bottle is a container. It holds things. Every single one of your tears are precious to Him and when you thought you couldn’t hold it together any longer and it was the end of your story, He was holding you and writing what you didn’t think you could. (Psalm 56:8&9)
Yes, if we set our minds on the heartache we will be overcome by the grief and so, our loving Heavenly Father and Friend bids us~ set your mind on things above. (Colossians 3:1)
Time passes so quickly and the moments that I thought would break me are the moments I see God putting His loving arms around me, picking me up and carrying me through.
(Psalm 34:18&19) I feel the comfort He gave and the peace that overcame the heartache. (John 14:27) I see that He did answer my prayers, despite the tears that blinded me in those moments. And I look ahead to the day I am in His presence when His loving hand will wipe away every single tear that has fallen from my eyes. (Revelation 7:17, 21:4)
Each tear He holds in His bottle sets my heart on things above. Each tear reminds me of my Savior’s love. Each tear reminds me that He wept along with me and understands.
(John 11:35) Each tear reminds me that my Savior suffered for me, yet He did it with joy.
(Hebrews 12:2) Each tear reminds me that I am never ever alone, and as I look back each tear reminds me of the beautiful happy moments God created for me through it all.
Because each tear makes every happy memory so much sweeter. And the happy far outweighs the sad. (Psalm126:1-3)
Don’t hold on to the tears. Let Jesus hold them. You hold on to the good. Every single good memory~and just believe. You will see His glory. (John 11:40) because everything good and everything perfect always comes from God. (James 1:17)
And because He is writing your book, and every story He has ever written always has a beautiful ending.
(2 Peter 1:19, Psalm 139:1-18)
For a brief moment I questioned sharing it.
This post about love…
“to the one needing this tonight: there’s a man waiting to love you how God intended…”
The societal screams from thousands of women echoed in my head.
~We are strong and confident and able.
~We can do anything a man can do.
Continual shouts have been hurled at this generation~
~We need to love ourselves, we need to raise strong daughters.
~We don’t need a man to complete us, or to love us.
And for a split second, I let the shouts of peer pressure dissuade me and compromise the heart of my beliefs. My finger briefly staggering over the delete button.
God’s shouts were greater.
I am STRONG.
I am CONFIDENT and ABLE.
I have raised STRONG daughters.
But I am NOT complete without my man,
and I will make no apologies for this.
Why am I labeled “old fashioned”?
Why does the world view this as a weakness?
If this is my weakness, I am proud of it.
If this is my weakness, I am stronger for it.
I was created for my husband. I love him more than life itself. Despite what society claims~I do not cook and clean, do laundry and keep house because I am his slave. I do not do these things because I am weak. I do not do these things because I have been brainwashed by my religion. I CHOOSE to do these things because of love. My choice. I do these things because it gives me so much joy to love on this man of mine. I do them because he is my “Happily Ever After”. He is the love story God wrote just for me.
I understand that there are women who will never marry. I understand that there are women reading this right now that are single, but have not chosen to be. Perhaps divorce, or even death has placed this label on you. Whether you have chosen to be single, or perhaps you are praying even now for the man God has for you~ that “man who is waiting to love you as God intended”~ Whatever category you fall into~ make no mistake, neither of these make you weak in God’s eyes.
Should we be content to be fully loved by Christ alone, even if we are to remain single? Yes, we should find contentment in Christ alone~ but God never once tells us in His word that it is wrong to pray for a spouse. God never once tells us it is wrong to be made complete by a man. In fact, He tells us the opposite. He tells us that He created us to be a help meet to our husbands. He tells us that when we are married, we two become one.
Without my husband, I am only half as strong as I can be. Together with him, we are one. He makes me whole.
Don’t allow society to change the very heart of your beliefs. Don’t allow the screams of peer pressure to dissuade you or your daughters. Don’t allow their words to make you feel “less than”, weak, or old fashioned. Open God’s word and show them the beautiful picture of what pure, selfless love truly means. Show them the true meaning of strength.
This Valentine’s Day I will be proud to be labeled weak, because when I look at my husband my heart fills with a joy that I can’t even put into words. And that’s what love is. A love that God always intended between a husband and wife. One flesh. Bone of my bone. My soul mate and best friend. My lover. The man who takes my breath away, and the man I want next to me when I draw my last breath. The man I would do anything for. The man who completes me.
Does this make me weak?
Yes, yes it does, haha~
Weak in the knees~
And I am stronger for it.
How does this happen?
This little “blue” light that seems to continually lure me in.
I constantly find myself repentant for becoming so easily distracted with it. I find myself sorry for this compulsive need to check and eliminate notifications and~
Not my need for Him.
I make excuses.
I read devotionals and Bible apps.
I “like” scripture based posts and quotes.
I listen to biblical podcasts.
Deep down I know, they could never take the place of that old book.
His words. Sitting on the chair in my room.
It will never be the same as speaking to Him in humble gratitude upon my knees.
I make excuses.
I’m writing for Him.
I’m posting Godly encouragement.
All the while~
preaching the good while missing the best.
Time away from that little “blue” light.
Time spent reading the ONLY light. (Psalm 119:105)
I make excuses.
My love for my country. My causes. My beliefs.
I need to stay informed.
He whispers to my fearful heart.
His wisdom is the wisdom I should long for.
His wisdom will make me wise.
His wisdom has been passed on from generation to generation.
This is my weakness. One of so many.
It may not be yours. You might not understand how certain things I write about can weaken my soul. How I can allow it to creep in and steal away the most important moments of my day. Those quiet moments with God.
It is a battle.
It’s a battle I see all around me on a daily basis.
Heads bowed to a little “blue” screen. Everywhere.
Listen to my words and let me be clear, even if this is not your own personal battle, you ARE IN A BATTLE. Satan knows what your weakness is and if you aren’t prepared, you will lose the fight before you ever pick up a weapon.
The weapons of our warfare are not physical. They are spiritual.
(2 Corinthians 10:4). God’s word is your sword. Prayer is your preparation. Your local church is your army, this world is the battlefield and your God is mighty!
Sadly, we are losing the battle without even realizing it because we have allowed these little weaknesses to creep in. We have allowed them to permeate our lives and the lives of our children.
That “blue” light? That’s just one of the many things that appears so innocent, yet destroys without a second thought. This world has conditioned our hearts to feel uncomfortable with the words I’m writing today. This world is whispering to your armorless soul that I am being just a bit overkill. Taking this Jesus thing a little too far.
That is a lie.
I am in the fight.
And so are you.
Our minds are continually bombarded by information through social media. (John 8:44-47). We get fearful. We get angry and defensive, or maybe even passive because we have become immune to it all. (Matthew 5:44-48, Psalm 119:51, 53). We have allowed these things to blind us to what this battle is all about. It is a battle for souls and Satan is using his own sly weapons to distract us from that truth.
Jesus is what it’s about. His gospel of peace.
Jesus who died on the cross for the sins of all mankind. Jesus who loves us despite every weakness we allow to creep in. Jesus who will fight for us and redeem us from an eternity in hell. Jesus who loves fiercely and yet, has a tender compassion on our sin cursed souls. (Psalm 145:8-9).
Put on your armor sweet sister. Sweet wife. Sweet mama. Put on that armor and fight for the souls of mankind. Put down the phone and tablet, turn off the TV and make time to saturate your soul with God’s word. (Psalm 119:104) With God’s wisdom, truth and righteousness. Speak to the God who formed all of mankind and beg Him to fight for you and your families. (Exodus 14:14). Get into your local churches and feed on the message from God each week.
Yes, this may seem counterintuitive for me to be singing my little fight song from the very instrument I’m telling you to put away. Friend~if my message can motivate you to put down the nonsense and pick up God’s word, then you fight with your everything to do just that.
My fight begins with prayer, because I know I am too weak on my own. My fight continues with boundaries. (Psalm 119:59-60). I will not pick up this phone before picking up God’s word. I won’t even read His words from any “blue” light, because that light can so easily distract. I will turn off notifications. I will keep my phone in another room and I will continually beg God to keep my eyes on what this battle is all about.
Jesus and the very reason He came to this earth.
The battle is for souls.
And that will be my fight song until the day I take my final breath.
We don’t like weakness.
It’s pumped into us from early childhood that we can do anything we put our minds to.
We don’t like to ask for help. We want this persona that we can do it all.
That we’re strong and capable.
I recently found myself in a weak situation.
I didn’t want to bother anyone, so I didn’t ask for help. I thought I could do it alone.
I may have screamed a little in the frustration of the moment.
I was determined to put a storage container larger than myself (and filled to the brim with heavy outdoor greenery) up onto a shelf that was above my head. I assessed the situation and came up with a plan. I got the container up and balanced onto the first shelf and then with a heave, lifted it above my head to slide onto the next shelf up.
For a split second I was proud of myself.
Until I realized the container was too big to slide onto the shelf. And so, that huge container that was larger than my body frame rested on top of my head and I screamed (just a little) in anger and frustration. I could almost feel my spine turning into an accordion. I was home alone in 5 degree weather out in my garage. This was going to come crashing down, and me along with it.
I was weak.
Somehow in that moment I prayed and asked God not to allow me to fall off the ladder I was balancing on, and to be able to set that container down without anything breaking. Bones included. To be honest, I don’t even know how I got it down and looking back, I wish I had just prayed ahead of time and perhaps God would’ve shown this proud, stubborn woman that there was no way that huge container would fit on that shelf. (Proverbs 3:5-6)
I placed all power on myself, and guess what?
I am powerless.
We all are.
I used to quote that verse in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10~’when I am weak, He is strong’,
but it dawned on me recently that that is not what the verse says. There is truth in that statement, but the verse actually says~ when I am weak then “I” am strong.
It almost doesn’t make, sense until you read the entire context.
When we realize we have no strength, we have no power and we are weak~ that’s the moment we become strong, because it’s in that moment as a Christian that we come to the realization that the power comes from Christ alone.
It’s not something most people would brag about. In fact, I am sure many would see that whole idea as being weak. The world is constantly shouting at us that we are strong, and how utterly ridiculous it is to have to lean on Christ for our strength. Too often we allow their screams to drown out God’s promises to us.
So my question to you is this~
Why do it alone?
Why try to muster up the strength to conquer every thing this world throws at you~
Most likely~ pride. (Proverbs 16:18)
Do you know how often Christ tells us that through Him we can have peace (Philippians 4:6-7) and comfort (1 Peter 5:7, 11 Corinthians 1:3-5) and love (John 3:16) and strength
(Isaiah 41:10-13) and power (2 Timothy 1:7)? Throw any situation in the mix, it doesn’t matter what it is~Christ will take that yoke upon himself and bear it right along side of you.
(Matthew 11:30, Psalm 55:22)
You will never be alone. (Hebrews 13:5-6)
Not even in 5 degree weather in a garage. On a ladder.
With a Christmas container perched on top of your head.
Satan knows our weaknesses. Sometimes he knows them better than we do. He fools us into thinking we are strong on our own, and it isn’t until that moment we fall apart that we realize that our weaknesses are much stronger than our resolve.
Don’t let pride harden your heart, (Hebrews 3:8, Psalm 95:8) and quite literally make you fall. (James 4:6, Psalm10:4) Don’t fool yourself into thinking you’re being humble by not asking for help.
Humility is not weakness, humility is strength wrapped up in Jesus. (Isaiah 41:10-13)
Ask God for help today. Ask Him to show you areas that you are weak, not physically but spiritually. Ask Him for His strength and power. Don’t wait until you are broken to finally beg God for help. (Hebrews 4:16, Psalm 34:18) And then, allow yourself to ask others for help as well. Put aside your pride and let someone be a blessing in the serving.
One day you will look back at whatever problem you find yourself in at this very moment and say~”I honestly don’t know how I got out of that situation except for God. He heard my prayers. He strengthened me and gave me the power to overcome. He did not leave me broken and because of Him, I am strong.
Because of Him, I can do anything.” (Philippians 4:13)
It’s all Him.
Realize that now, rather than later.
Ultimately you show your strength by showing your weakness.
The strength that only comes from God.
Remember when they wanted to be held?
Remember when they snuggled?
Remember the make believe days when fairies were real?
When bad became good with just one kiss?
When beds became forts,
and pillows were made for happy dreams?
Remember when they thought they could fly?
They believed in fairy tales and kingdoms.
They played with dolls, and built cities with Lego’s. They played outside for hours.
On tire swings and monkey bars.
Or just staring at cloud shapes that came alive to tiny eyes.
And you loved the innocence their lives beheld.
Remember when you would tuck them in and they would smile and giggle and say this was the best day ever?
Remember when they were little?
Remember when they got sick?
One child after another? When fatigue had you crying right along with them?
Remember when they were sad and the tears of their tiny broken hearts was more than you could stand?
Remember when dreams became bad, and they didn’t want to go to bed at night?
Remember the peer pressure and teasing and the sadness that ensued?
And you hated that sin had made life so cruel.
Remember when you tucked them in, and they begged you not to send them to school in the morning. Remember when they realized they couldn’t fly? Clouds were just clouds.
Fairy tales weren’t true. Dolls were for babies.
Remember when they weren’t little any more?
Remember them now.
Remember the times they had to go through heart wrenching circumstances in their lives, with their own little families? With their spouses? Remember the nights you sat alone with your husband in the very house they were raised in, and shed tears for the heartache your adult children were facing?
Or could be facing even now.
And you cried more than you ever did from fatigue when they were little.
Remember the helplessness you felt because this was life? This was adulthood.
This wasn’t something a kiss could make better.
And you hate that sin has made life so cruel.
Let them be little mama.
Let them be little for as long as possible.
Don’t fall into the trap of making your oldest responsible for your youngest,
when he’s just a baby still himself.
Don’t tell your children to grow up.
Don’t yell at them for ‘not thinking’.
Don’t expect them to react like an adult.
Let them be little, because you will blink
and the heartache this world throws at them will break your own heart.
And then you will wish they were little again.
Don’t dwell on the bad days.
You are mama. The same mama who helped them believe in fairytales and made their childhood days the best days ever.
Remind your adolescent and adult children of the beautiful days. Show them there will always be a kingdom, one far better than a fairytale could ever capture.
Luke 1:33, Isaiah 9:7, Psalm 145:13, Daniel 7:27.
Show them the sunshine through the clouds. Encourage them to see those beautiful shapes. To lay down and rest once in a while.
To play and to believe in good again.
Because God is always good, and his kingdom is being prepared for us even now.
John 14:2, Psalm34:8, Psalm 100:5, Psalm 107:8, Psalm 145:9,
And His goodness will always, always prevail against the bad.
And He loves them more than your mama heart ever could.
And then, as hard as it might be, choose to believe that yourself.
And give Him those tears you cry for them.
Knowing how much He loves you as well.
Let them be little mama.
Show them they can fly.
Even when they aren’t little anymore.
Remind them of how much God loves them.
Remind them that He will never leave their sides, that He is in control even when they can’t see the good. Help them believe in that good again.
And remember that He is holding them when you no longer can.
And as they fall asleep at night, be that mama that made them believe that pillows were made for happy dreams again. The mama that whispered encouragement to their grown up hearts. The hearts that once held so much innocence.
Be the mama that continually reminded them that day~
That every day can still be the best day ever.
I lay in bed in the darkness, listening to my husband pray.
It’s been a week.
But tomorrow, tomorrow looks promising.
I have a well thought out plan of how it will go~
New Year’s resolutions I want to start on.
Organizing my home. Getting on the treadmill.
But most important, spending time with God.
Writing my blog post.
Surely He will bless me.
My blog is for Him after all.
My words of hope. Words of encouragement.
But then tomorrow comes.
Notifications screaming at me to be acknowledged. Writers block. Cold coffee. Interruptions.
Phone calls, texts and seemingly wasted hours.
And I get frustrated. I get irritated.
Not one prayer uttered and not one word written for my blog.
This wasn’t supposed to be my tomorrow.
I often find it easy to preach this idea of “divine interruptions” to my adult children~those moments when you have a well thought out plan. A course of action. Limited time. Goals to achieve. A project to start or finish.
someone bumps into those plans and your entire day is rerouted.
When my children get frustrated with moments like this, I remind them that it’s all God. He knew exactly what was going to happen. He knew exactly who was going to bump into those plans and change the whole course of the day. Moments like these are divine interruptions and we shouldn’t be upset with them.
But when it happens to me?
It’s not divine.
It’s difficult. It’s displeasing. It’s depressing.
It’s “drive me crazy” interruptions.
Because~ isn’t my scenario different?
I’m doing God’s work.
But I’m not.
When I get in those moods, it’s all about me.
I’m doing Charisse’s work.
I argue with myself that I’m justified in my irritation, because I’m looking for those perfect words to write and that perfect story to tell. I’m looking for something to encourage people and give them hope.
God’s hope for His people.
The whole goal of Holding Hope.
And that’s when it hits me. People.
People ARE God’s work.
Why did Jesus come? For people.
To seek and to save those who are lost.
People are the plan. Whether that’s your husband, your children, your parents, your neighbors~or even a complete stranger.
All that other stuff comes second.
If I never write another word because my life is interrupted with people and my moments are made up in ministering to others, then that is all God. That’s His plan.
I’m not saying that having goals or making plans is wrong. It’s not. But putting your plans and your projects before your people is wrong. Jesus didn’t die on the cross so that we could achieve those New Year’s resolutions. He didn’t die so that we could get into better shape or organize our homes or get that promotion at work.
He didn’t even die on the cross so that I could write an amazing blog post for Holding Hope.
He died for people.
His amazing, unending, grace filled love of people.
And so, my New Year’s resolutions will look a little different this year. I will look for God in every interruption. He knows exactly what’s going to happen as each new day unfolds. He knows exactly who needs to cross my path and who’s path I need to cross. He knows exactly who needs to bump into my plans.
His plan is the plan I want to be a part of. God’s project. His divine interruptions. There will always be projects to accomplish and plans to achieve, but there is not one moment in time that is wasted when that moment is given to people.
We do not know what tomorrow holds~
but God does.
In His sovereign, omnipotent love He interrupts our days, because of that knowledge.
Resolve to remember that God’s plans are so much better than ours. Our people may not be with us tomorrow~
So please remember that when they bump into your plans today.