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
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!
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.
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.
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.
When my kids were little, they would “practice” Christmas morning. It was the sweetest thing to watch.
They would come up with “what-if” scenarios, then practice their solution to each.
~what if Michael wakes up first…
~what if Andrea wakes up first…
~what if Jessica WON’T wake up…
~what if Kathryn sneaks downstairs…
~what if it’s too early…
Then they would act out their solutions. Michael would go in to wake the girls, Andrea would wake Michael, all of them would jump on Jessica, Kat would be strictly admonished to stay upstairs until given permission, and if it was too early they would tell mom and dad they had to go to the bathroom and couldn’t wait any longer.
Funny thing is, all that practicing for the perfect Christmas went right out the window once that day arrived. The excitement made all the perfect planning and good ideas disappear, but that was alright. They will forever hold memories in their heart of running downstairs in complete chaos on Christmas morning and in their eyes, it was always perfect.
It seems like so many Christmas movies revolve around someone trying to pull off the perfect Christmas, and utterly failing in one way or another. Apparently this is a hot topic during the holidays. As I look back on my little family and all the Christmases we have shared, I realize that too often I have fallen prey to practicing the perfect Christmas myself. My goal to make everyone happy ended in me being miserable at times, because my focus was misconstrued.
I have come to the Christmas conclusion that you will never make everyone happy and~
only Jesus can give the gift of true happiness.
I certainly am not Jesus.
Year after year I got caught up in striving to make things perfect for everyone, and ended up taking my focus off of Him. Instead, my focus was placed solely on others. I found myself in tears last year because I was afraid that Christmas wouldn’t be special enough for my kids.
That old saying~’practice makes perfect’ doesn’t always hold true. 35 years of practicing and planning to make the perfect Christmas for my children, and in my eyes I have yet to perfect it.
Now that my kids are adults, they are no longer oblivious to the amount of work that sometimes goes into the perfecting of the perfect Christmas, and they are fully aware of the stress it can bring IF your focus isn’t on the entire reason for celebrating. Last year my girls bore witness to my little breakdown of emotions over my felt failures and they didn’t like it, because they now wish for ME to experience (and not just provide) the perfect Christmas as well.
So what is the key to the perfect Christmas if it isn’t in the practice? The key is the peace that passes all understanding. My words might seem counterintuitive but when pleasing others becomes more important than pleasing Christ~we have no peace. Aren’t we always told to focus on others and not ourselves? Yes, we certainly should. I’m not saying that focusing on others is wrong, I’m saying that if that is our only focus, Jesus will become an afterthought.
The words to the song Silent Night hold so many truths we need to grasp when December comes around…
All is calm.
All is bright.
Holy infant so tender and mild.
Sleep in heavenly peace.
When we keep our eyes on Jesus and remember that He is the ONLY reason we celebrate the season, things will change. Christmas might be chaotic, all the perfect planning and good ideas might go right out the window, but that’s alright. Our hearts will hold the peace that passes understanding...
All will be calm.
All will be bright.
All because of the Holy Infant born for us.
And we will forever hold memories in our hearts of what a truly perfect Christmas is all about.
A Guaranteed Happy Thanksgiving
A Thanksgiving Devotional
For weeks I had been planning this holiday with an excitement that could not be contained. My family would be traveling 700 miles to visit me for Thanksgiving. I poured over magazines with pictures of beautiful holiday table settings. Wonderful memories flooded my heart as I remembered the countless Thanksgivings spent with family, sitting around just such a table. Despite my apartment being tiny, we would all squeeze in and make it work. Mike and I had been married less than 3 years, with one child and another on the way. Morning sickness prevailed but I didn’t care~I missed home, I missed family, I missed all of us sitting around the dinner table together.
Everything began just as I had planned, but it all went downhill on Thanksgiving day. One family member after another came down with the stomach flu~in the very worst way. Everyone ended up sick except for me. It is an understatement when I tell you that our apartment was tiny. There was barely enough room to walk by each other and with only one small bathroom and 5 sick people… well you can only imagine. I had a lot of cleaning… and then more cleaning to do, with no time to rest or even celebrate. Add morning sickness to the equation and my picture perfect Thanksgiving turned into a nightmare. No sitting around a table filled with a cornucopia of delicious foods and thankful spirits.
We all want that picture perfect Thanksgiving dinner, Martha Stewart style. We have high hopes that the Turkey will turn out a beautiful golden brown, that family will all get along and that laughter along with delicious pumpkin pie will ensue.
That we will all truly be thankful.
Sometimes life just doesn’t work out the way we hoped, especially during the holidays. The turkey is too dry, we burn the biscuits, we wonder why we’re the only one doing all the work, the stress levels in the kitchen are at an all time high and that one family member gets on our last nerve.
And then we lose it. Our frustrations boil over just like our mashed potatoes.
And so, as we approach this week of gratitude I would like to challenge you to focus on a different table setting. That of the last supper. There is so much we can glean from the scripture passage in John 13, and it stirs my heart. Who is sitting at your table? The focus in John 13 was not the food or even the fellowship. The focus was Jesus and the example He set for all of us as we sit down to our Thanksgiving meals.
I would like to leave you with five things to meditate on this week. It might seem lengthy, but if you choose to focus on one every day~ it’s a guarantee your Thanksgiving supper will be a happy one.
1. A gift in the gratitude~Jesus gave thanks despite knowing what was ahead. Despite the wicked betrayal in the heart of Judas, despite the foreknowledge of Peter’s denial, despite the coming abandonment of the disciples who professed their love for Him. (Luke 22:17-18, Matthew 26:26-27, Mark 14:22-23.) Maybe you are excited about Thanksgiving, or maybe you are stressing over it~ whatever your case may be, you can change your outlook by choosing to give thanks. There is so much to be thankful for, starting with our Savior. How could He possibly be thankful in that moment? And yet, He was. Emulate His gratitude. Find something to be thankful for every day leading up to the big day. A habitual heart that beats a thankful rhythm will not easily be dissuaded when faced with difficult circumstances or people. Look to Jesus and just be thankful.
2. A gift in the giving~ Jesus became a servant. He never complained, but in humble love washed His disciples feet~ even the feet of the one who would betray Him. (John 13:4&5) Prepare your heart to be a servant this Thanksgiving, even to those you feel don’t deserve it. Judas certainly didn’t deserve it, but that didn’t stop our Savior. Serving others should never be viewed as an unwanted duty. Choose to bless others by the love you put into that service. Determine not to have a grumbling heart, but instead a thankful servant’s heart that God can use. Have the heart of Jesus.
3. A gift in the guidance~Despite knowing Judas would betray Him, Jesus chose to love and serve him and told us that we should follow His example. (John 13:11, 14-15.) We are human, there will always be that one person that annoys us (because they are human too) despite the little idiosyncrasies that get on our last nerve, none of them compare to sitting at supper with Judas. As you sit to supper this Thanksgiving, remember Jesus example and His words to us in admonishing that we follow that example.
4. A gift in the getting~Jesus actually told us something simple, yet profound. By following His example we will in turn be blessed with happiness. (John 13:17.) Okay, who doesn’t want happiness during the holidays? Who doesn’t want to fall into bed at night after a wonderful meal and precious moments with family and friends on Thanksgiving, and have your heart full of happiness? It doesn’t have to be something we wish for. Happiness can be our reality this Thanksgiving if we put into practice the steps He outlined for us in His word. Become a servant of love.
5. A gift in the glorifying~The last thing I want to leave you with in preparation of your week ahead is the very gift you will give to others by following Jesus example. (John 13:31&32, 34&35) You will be loving others with a true servant’s heart and in the doing, that love will glorify God. Isn’t that the ultimate goal? It’s not about us. It’s not about the food or the Pinterest perfect table setting. It’s all about the joy in sharing the love of Jesus. It’s all about the happiness in the serving. It’s all about the glory of God.
Remember that Jesus is sitting at your table with you this Thanksgiving. He is all you will ever need in making beautiful God moments and memories. As I look back at that Thanksgiving so many years ago and the disaster that it was, it still holds precious memories to me. I can even laugh with my brothers at the events that holiday held and cherish the time spent with my mom and dad, who are no longer with us. Yes, there was a lot of serving, but there was also so much love; and the happiness my heart holds at the time we had together is one that I will treasure forever.
A gift in the gratitude. A gift in the giving. A gift in the guidance. A gift in the getting. A gift in the glorifying. All because of Jesus.
A Thanksgiving gift of God.
1 Thessalonians 5:18
I watched the young couple walk up onto the platform.
The old recording was barely visible at times. I listened to the pastor read a biography the young man had written in the second grade. I heard my husband choke up with grateful tears as he tried to say thank you to all those who invested in his life. I saw the future in their eyes and I remembered. This was my husband’s ordination into the ministry. We were that couple. Young hearts full of aspirations of glory for God.
35 years in the ministry. I have watched him. I continue to watch him~
I watch him make hospital visits.
I watch him get phone calls in the middle of the night. I watch him leave to help a shut in.
I have watched him weep at the deathbed of members that have become family~
and then somehow speak encouragement to the grief stricken at their funeral service~
again and again and again.
I watch him pray over scripture.
I see his excitement to share his love of God’s word with others.
I know he has kept gut wrenching secrets told in confidence, and the burdens of members heavy on his shoulders and in his heart.
I hear his prayers.
I watch him during building projects and additions, working from sun up till sun down. I see him repairing roofs, cutting grass, shoveling snow, cleaning bathrooms, fixing what is broken~ not just in the building, but in the hearts and lives of others.
I see selflessness time and time again. I see him love every single minute of being a shepherd for Jesus. I see Jesus in and through him.
That little boy who wrote in a biography that one day he wanted to be a minister. That young man with big dreams for the love of his small town. That pastor with a deep love of God and a burden for others.
And I know, no matter how much I am praying for him~ it needs to be more.
Whoever your pastor might be, let me encourage you to see that he needs more than a note of appreciation inside a Hallmark card once a year. Yes he is blessed by your encouragement but more importantly,
he needs you to go to war for him on your knees~ because the work he is doing is for God’s kingdom. The hearts he is reaching are for God’s glory and the enemy wants nothing more than to beat him down to the ground and leave him in the dust.
How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace and bring glad tidings of good things! Romans 10:15, Isaiah 52:7.
Feet that bring strength to the sick, encouragement to the weary, comfort to the broken-hearted, rest to the anxious and hope to the lost.
Pray for your pastor as he brings the gospel of peace and good tidings to a tired, hurting world.
Because that world needs your pastor.
I’m very good at judging a book by its cover, especially the “judging” part. Something I do not take pride in.
My problem is, I never read the entire book. I decide I know the whole story just by skimming a few chapters, or even looking at the cover.
I realized the other day how often I will watch other women, how often I will listen to their words and how often I will come to a conclusion about them based solely on a few comments or their outward demeanor. I am ashamed to say that I allow my mind those conclusions when only God knows their heart. I Samuel 16:7
I am not God.
One comment, one action, one mean word
and we can tend to write someone off as a bad book.
We have no idea what’s going on in their heart, in the ugly chapters with the long words and heartbreaking scenarios. We don’t know what they’ve been through or might be going through. The defenses and walls they’ve put up. The hurt they’ve endured. The sadness that overwhelms.
There is always something deeper.
I am not condoning bad behavior. We should always strive to be like Christ, but often we are quick to apply that rule to others and not to ourselves. Matthew 7:2-5
Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus. Philippians 2:5
I know without a doubt that Christ has never had thoughts similar to those I have had in the past. Wretched thoughts such as~
“What a jerk. What a witch.
What a miserable, horrible person”.
Jeremiah 29:11, Psalm 139: 16-17
Putting it on paper makes me weep because I know, all Christ sees is love. Forgiveness. Understanding. Mercy and grace.
He sympathizes with our circumstances because He is fully aware of what this life entails. He’s been through it. His understanding is infinite. Psalm 147:5, Philippians 2:6,7, Hebrews 4:15,16
Too often I have heard the words…
“but you don’t know what she’s like, what she said, what she did, what she wrote. You don’t know…”
I have spoken those exact words myself.
God knows though. Inevitably by saying those words I am somehow trying to justify myself for my wrong actions in judging that person.
My actions that were not Christlike.
My actions that were no better than hers.
There have been times I was hurting deeply. There have been times I have been stuck in a place of darkness and loneliness, feeling as if no one understood. All the raw emotions that gripped me would suddenly spill out, and I would lash out at someone from the agonizing pain I had been holding in. Other moments tears would be so close that I would remain quiet, appearing aloof. In all my setbacks and shortcomings, I am so glad Christ never judged me by my cover. I am so glad he knew my thoughts and heart and instead of judging He was my advocate to God my Father. He sat with me in the pain and pulled me out of it. He gave me grace. I John 2:1-2, James 4:6
Oh ladies, why can’t we be like Christ? Why can’t we look a little deeper and show a little more empathy? Why are we so quick to judge and so lax to pray? Why can’t we offer to sit with them in the pain~with grace on our lips instead of grumbling in our hearts?
I want to be that book called grace. I want my pictures and words to be beautiful illustrations of mercy, empathy, forgiveness and love.
More important, when God looks at my thoughts and heart toward others, I want Him to see those exact pictures too. We can hide behind a beautifully illustrated cover, but what does Christ see when He looks inside? Proverbs 4:23, I Peter 3:3-4, Psalm 19:14
Our world is a wounded, hurting world. A world that desperately needs Hope, the hope that only Christ can give.
A world that needs to read your book.
Let it be the book called Grace.
James 4:6,11-12, I Peter 2:9, Proverbs 3:3-4
Do you ever see people and try to picture what type of home they live in or the way they might decorate that home? Do you ever drive through your neighborhood and look at house after house and wonder what it looks like inside?
Maybe I’m a little weird, but I do.
When I listen to audiobooks, when I watch work out videos, when I read devotionals or even meet random people, I find myself picturing what type of home they might live in.
I’m really not sure why haha.
Maybe it makes me feel that if I knew, I would know that person on a more personal level. I guess I want to know them deeper than just a face on a screen or a voice on a podcast.
Recently I’ve done something way out of my comfort zone.
I’ve invited people in at the spur of the moment.
Into my home, my introvert safe place.
I was fine inviting people in on social media, hiding behind a screen. It’s so easy to stage your house~just shove all the stuff you don’t want people to see out of the camera’s view. Even better, you don’t have to actually see people’s reactions to your pictures after they’re posted.
I was okay with having people over, as long as I knew way in advance so that I could prepare. Even then I would stress.
I’m such a Martha. (Luke 10:41-42)
None of this spur of the moment thing.
As little as a year ago this was something I never would have done, because of fear.
Fear that my house wasn’t clean enough, but mostly just fear over what people would think.
I believed the lies I told myself~ if I invite people in they might think I’m bragging about my home, they don’t care about how I decorate. They don’t care about antiques. This is not Pinterest worthy. They might think I’m nuts for decorating this way… and on and on.
The lies were my escape route.
But God was nudging my heart.
Let them in Charisse. Just let them in.
And I realized it wasn’t just about my home. It was about me, and the fear I had over the perception I thought people would have of me. My dumb pride always getting in the way.
If you’ve followed along on my blog journey you know this “introvert thing”, and my worry over what people think is not something new to me. I’m continually sweeping that “hospitality thing” Christ talks about under the rug. (1 Peter 4:9, Romans12:13, Titus 1:8) It’s something God has really been getting on me about for a while now.
I’m a mess in progress with a Hope in heaven and a God of great grace.
And so, I took the plunge and at the spur of the moment with no tidying, with no cleaning, with no worry that my floors were covered with grass clippings or beach sand or that dirty dishes were in the sink, with no worry that maybe I had left my sports bra hanging on the bathroom doorknob or that one of my grandkids did not flush the toilet,
I let them in.
And then something funny happened, again and again and again opportunities came up and again and again I let them in. And every single time I was amazed at the gratitude, the smiles, the appreciation, the kind words. I felt a freedom, I felt a happiness, I felt a joy in the fact that my home was lived in and traces of my grandchildren were everywhere I looked, because my home was filled with love.
Just yesterday, on a whim I invited a sweet acquaintance in to see my home. I’ve known who she was for years and always thought “she seems to be the kind of person I’d like to get to know”. But that’s where it ended. I admired from afar. Introvert Charisse never got to know her.
And so I invited her in. I’m so glad I did.
She completely surprised me with her kind words~ “Who knew this was in Caseville! It’s beautiful! Do your neighbors know this is what your home looks like inside?”
Her last comment is what got me.
No, no they probably don’t. Because I’ve always convinced myself that they wouldn’t care.
After she left I really thought about it. Why had I convinced myself that others wouldn’t care to be invited in when I readily admit that I would LOVE to peek inside the homes of others?
Our homes are an extension of our hearts. Our safe place. Our comfort. That’s why I don’t necessarily think that the gratitude and smiles really had so much to do with opening my front door and showing people how I decorate, but more so with opening my heart and sharing that comfort with them.
Maybe you are the very opposite of me. Maybe you aren’t an introvert and thoroughly enjoy having people over all the time. Maybe it’s not hard for you at all. But sometimes I think it’s a little hard for all of us to truly open up our hearts. To be vulnerable with others and allow them to see that vulnerability~ sports bra, unflushed toilet and all.
And so I encourage all you introverts today~ open your home to others.
And to you extroverts~ good for you!! I strive to get to that place.
But for both~ open your hearts. Let others in. If we never open our hearts to others, we can never truly care for each other, pray for each other (Ephesians 3:14-21) or lean on each other.(Galatians 6:2) If we never open our hearts to others they will never see the goodness of God inside of us. (2 Thessalonians 1:11-12) They won’t ever get to meet our Jesus Who lives there. (Revelation 3:20)
They won’t get to see His light and glory and love. (2 Corinthians 4:6, Matthew 5:13-16)
They will just see us.
The outside of a house. (Psalm 127:1)
Always wondering what it looks like on the inside.
Today I invite you. Come on in and let me show you around… 😊🥰
A little miracle in someone’s life is only minutes away.
It isn’t some grand gesture or expensive gift. In fact, it doesn’t have to cost a thing.
It’s simply your words.
Maybe a text or a note, an email or message. Maybe it’s a hug and a whisper ~
“you are loved” or “I’m praying for you”
or even~ “it’s going to be okay”.
You can be someone’s miracle today.
Through the heaviness my heart has been feeling these last few months, God has used so many of you to be those little miracles in my life. When I was home alone, sitting on the bathroom floor crying, and a loving text would come through at that exact moment. When I was packing up my dad’s clothes with tears streaming down my cheeks, and a personal message popped up on my phone. When I cried all morning and asked God for help and a card came in the mail...
On one particular day my heart was hurting deeply. Loneliness overwhelmed me, a loneliness that had been lingering for days. Each day God had continually brought someone to my mind~someone I should reach out to for help. I didn’t listen. I was too worried about what she would think of me if I expressed how I was feeling and asked for help. And so, God in all His amazing grace placed me on her heart instead. She sent me a quick text letting me know she was thinking about me and praying for me. The minute I got it, I knew it was God. I ended up pouring my heart out to her and her empathy and comforting response was exactly what I needed. I no longer felt that loneliness. I felt the compassionate love of my sweet friend, with no judgement and only understanding. I knew she felt my sorrow and grief. Her words were like getting a hug that I desperately needed. I don’t think I ever would have messaged her had she not listened to the nudge God gave her to send me a text.
Never, ever underestimate the power of your words and speaking joy over someone. If God has put someone on your heart I urge you to not push those thoughts aside, but to take action. Pray for them. Send them a card or email, or a quick text telling them how much they mean to you. Tell them that you are praying for them. Show them that you care. Maybe God is nudging you to reach out to a complete stranger. That mama in line at the grocery store that’s having a hard time. The waitress whose countenance screams sorrow. That cashier who looks as if she’s fighting back tears behind a generic smile.
Don’t let those moments slip by.
Heartache and sorrow bed down in the home of loneliness. Each person’s sorrow holds a unique heartache all their own, because every individual has their own unique personality. Even though you may have gone through a similar experience as someone else, the way they deal with it could be completely different than the way you or I deal with it.
This is where the heart of Jesus, through empathy and compassion comes in.
Don’t be quick to judge that young mom in line, that waitress or cashier or even that person that keeps popping into your head and heart all day long, just because they deal with heartache and grief differently. We have no idea what is going on in the lives of those we come in contact with on a daily basis. A brave smile might mask wounds that cut deep, pressures that threaten to overwhelm or heartache that is debilitating.
So listen to God’s nudges. Send that text. Write that message. Speak joy. Don’t ever be too timid to speak to a hurting soul or send encouragement to someone God has placed on your heart. Because ultimately, it isn’t our words that we are speaking.
It’s the joy of Jesus speaking through us.
Shine the joy of Jesus into the darkness someone’s heart holds today. You can be the very miracle they’ve been searching for.
A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver. Proverbs 25:11
A man hath joy by the answer of his mouth: and a word spoken in due season, how good is it! Proverbs 15:23
Am I the only one who feels like she’s in some sci-fi, futuristic movie while out in public?
No, this isn’t another post on masks~
just stick with me here for a minute~
The other day as I shopped, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was in another world. Was this really my small hometown? Everywhere I looked there were masks.
Familiar faces all hidden. No smiles. Almost strangers~all behind masks.
I could see it in people’s eyes. Darkness.
Sometimes fear and sometimes even anger.
Rarely did I see light and happiness.
Joy was missing.
When the stay at home order had been given, I embraced it. Even though it was scary, I felt a peace as the entire world seemed to stop. I felt a nudge from God saying~ this is what it’s supposed to be like.
Schedules set aside.
Fast paced lives, jobs and activities all came to a halt.
Time was our friend.
Time with family.
Time with God.
Even though many felt caged, I felt a freedom~because God had given us that time. Time to reflect on our lives and on our Savior.
But then our “cages” were opened again and everyone forgot.
In just a few short months our world was turned upside down. Not only had our schedules become busier and more stressful, but fear and hatred seemed to triple over night. Our news feeds were filled with hateful words, arguments, political agendas and fear for our futures.
Both sides forgot.
We all forgot.
God can change all of this if He so chooses.
Our actions have only proved that we don’t truly believe God is in control. We have taken matters into our own hands and in so doing we have pushed aside the things that are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, and of good report. Phil.4:8
Our trust shouldn’t rest solely on our leaders, laws, masks or medicine. Our trust shouldn’t be in politics or the news or even our pastors.
Our trust should only come from God. Hebrews 11:6
I’m not saying that we should sit idly by and let the chips fall where they may, but can I ask you~
are you praying for your leaders as often as you are complaining about them? Are you praying for the lost souls around you as much as you’re parading your political views across social media?
Our political agendas cannot save a soul from hell.
Read that again.
Our political agendas CANNOT save a soul from hell. Our political views cannot change hearts. There will always be division. There will always be sides.
He is and always has been.
It is God that will change hearts and it is Jesus that will save souls~
and in the saving, our world will be changed.
We won’t be hiding behind masks of fear and hatred. Our news feeds won’t be filled with darkness.
Have we learned nothing from Christ’s ministry here on earth?
Yes, we are a very messed up nation right now, but we must realize that a president isn’t the answer. A mask isn’t the answer. Hydroxychloroquine isn’t the answer. All the thousands of Doctors with their differing opinions aren’t the answer. Fox News and CNN aren’t the answer.
There is no other answer.
Why did He come to earth? Why did He die on the cross? In His own words~”I came to seek and to save that which was lost.” Like 19:10
“For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved” John 3:17
His light and His glory can overtake all that darkness. John 8:12, 9:5. Ephesians 5:8&9
His redeeming power is what will change hearts and lives.
That is what we should be praying for. That is what we should be parading across our news feed. The ONLY good news. The good news of the gospel.
Does it mean that all the bad, all the horrors and wickedness happening in our world will immediately go away? No. But it’s a start.
The gospel has transforming power and when we share it, God promises it will not return void. Isaiah 55:11. Once we realize this, even with our masks on we will begin to see change. We won’t see anger, hatred and fear in the eyes of those around us.
We will begin to see love and joy and peace. We will see longsuffering, gentleness and goodness.
We will see humbleness, meekness and faith~
and we will have HOPE. 💗
Galatians 5:22, Colossians 3:12-17,
Hebrews 6:19, Romans 5:1-5
This was very hard for me to write. I prayed and read and dug deep into scripture. Then I prayed and prayed some more because no matter what I came up with, I couldn’t even convince myself~ so, how could I convince you?
I don’t need to tell you this but I’m going to anyway~
Comparison is the thief of Joy.
Deep down, you already know that.
Sadly, so do I.
There’s so much I could write on this subject. 54 years of comparison stealing away joy. I’m not necessarily talking about possessions here (that’s another topic for another post). I’m talking about genetic personality traits that we are unhappy with. Our DNA. Ways we wish we were physically different than how God created us.
It all started one night when I was washing my face.
I was slathering wrinkle cream all over my neck and wondering why I waited until my 50’s to start doing this. I wished my mom had warned me, so I picked up my phone and jokingly sent a text to my daughters~
“Mom tip #54- start putting wrinkle cream on your neck right now, not just on your face”
My daughter Kathryn responded ~”thanks mom, but I’d like to know the other 53 tips too 😂😂😂”
I laughed at her response, but it sort of stuck with me. I’m 54. What tips could I leave with my daughters that could help them? Tips that might change their lives?
So, I started thinking about putting together a list of mom advice. 54 tips to help my kids. Add one each year.
But here’s what I kept thinking about~
All the mistakes I made and regrets I had. The very things I didn’t want my own daughters to experience.
One major regret was comparison. Why have I wasted 54 years wishing I could be like someone else? I can remember being this way since grade school. Wishing I wasn’t such a “girly” girl. Wishing I was stronger, more athletic, wishing I was more outgoing, wishing for a different body, hair, face. Thinking I wasn’t cool enough. Wishing I wasn’t so shy. Wishing I was more confident. Wishing I was like someone else.
Wishing I was like her...
So girls, here you go. Here are some things God has shown me this week, tips that have helped me to work on viewing myself through God’s lens instead of my own.
⁃ This will always be my #1 tip in every situation, no matter what~ ASK GOD FOR HELP.
⁃ Get in God’s word. Comparison has been around since the beginning of time. The story unfolds with Satan tempting Eve by comparing her to God, her son comparing himself to his brother, Rachel and Leah, Saul with David, Gideon, Moses and the list goes on. We can learn so much from reading their accounts. Some went through tremendous heartache because of comparison, but many were great men and women of God in the Bible. They felt lacking. They didn’t feel good enough or qualified enough to do the job, yet God always used them in mighty ways. He showed many of them that their comparison issues weren’t an issue at all, because it was never about them. It was, and always will be all about God.
He used them to fulfill the gospel.
This was such a comfort to me.
II Corinthians 10:12, Exodus 4:11
⁃ See myself as God sees me and be thankful. I don’t want to live the remainder of the time I have left comparing myself to other women and putting down God’s creation. God thought about every tiny detail of me and of you, and then He said~this is what I want her to be like. This is how I want her to look and this is the personality I want her to have. She will be mine, she will be marvelous and wonderful. She will be precious to me. Isaiah 64:8, Luke 12:7, Psalm 139:1-16 (read it, it’s true!!)
⁃ Every day write down one thing about yourself that makes you happy. Jot down those scriptures from Psalm 139. Stick them everywhere as a reminder of God’s love for you. Shove them in your purse. The next time you’re standing in line at Target and you see that super friendly, outgoing, beautiful lady in front of you and you start to compare and forget~you can reach for your wallet and pull out that card instead. Then smile, because God reminded you how beautiful you are to Him. I know as Christians we can view this as being prideful~but done in the right spirit, it is a heart of thankfulness to God. At times we can be critical regarding the fine line between pride and thankfulness. You know, the whole Pharisee/Sadducee argument (and let me just add, if you’re talking to others about how humble you are, that’s probably your pride finding it’s voice, but if you’re talking to God about how thankful you are, that’s your heart glorifying God). Everything about you is a gift from God. A gift you should be thankful for. If you think about it, when we dwell on the things we dislike about ourselves we are telling God that He made a mistake because we are viewing our opinions higher than His. We are telling God~I don’t believe what Your word says about me. I don’t believe You. But, if we view the things about ourselves that we are happy with and we thank God for them, we are actually glorifying Him through that thanksgiving. I Thessalonians 5:18, Philippians 4:11
⁃ Realize your mind is your enemy, she is not. She probably has issues deep down inside just like you do. Learn to renew your mind daily by feeding it with Gods word. (Which goes back to tip #2) Romans 12:2. If we don’t love ourselves exactly the way God made us, how can we possibly love others like Christ does? Like we’re supposed to? Resentment, jealousy and comparison will continually steal our joy. Matthew 22:39. Tell the “her” in your life how awesome she is. Tell her how much you appreciate her attributes. Stop that lady in front of you in line and let her know how beautiful she looks today. This is another way you can not only glorify God, but lift up another sister who might be going through a hard time just like you. You will be amazed at how much this will not only bless her, but bless you as well.
Ephesians 2:10, Isaiah 52:7
⁃ Realize social media, television and other people’s opinions are not what defines you. God is Who defines you. When God looks at us He sees His image. He sees the blood of His Son and the redemption it brings. He gives glorious liberty to help us get past that comparison. He sees a precious soul He loves. He knows everything about you. He knows every thought you have and He understands. He knows every word you will speak. He’s aware of every single one of your ways. And He loves you. Not the you that you wish you could be, the you that is reading this right now. Psalm 139:1-4, Genesis 1:27, Ecc 3:11, Psalm 90:17, Romans 8:21, 27, 29
Obviously I’m not talking about things that God has given us the ability to work on and change ie~
“well God made me a liar, so I’m going to perfect it and be thankful for that attribute.” Or “God made me lazy, so I’ll just lay here rejoicing in that.” “God created me to love junk food so I don’t have to listen to my doctor’s warnings about my health.” Etc.
I’m talking about comparison in areas that God intricately designed us to be.
Our ultimate goal~Be holy as God is holy. Not~ be like Sandy or Becky, Amy or Julie.
Just Jesus. Period.
You know what all those comparison wishes are? They’re whispers from Satan. They hit you when you least expect it and can change your entire day. You lose all joy and end up feeling defeated instead of praising God for the person He created you to be. The person you are.
You are a living gospel message.
You are you.
Fearfully and wonderfully made in God’s image.
Do you know what the word fearfully means in Psalm 139?
It means~ “in a manner to impress admiration”. 🥰
You are you. A child of the most high God. His perfect blueprint.
Marvelous and precious.
Don’t ever forget that, it will change your life.
HOW TO HOLD ON TO HOPE
December 2019 did not end the way I had anticipated.
My heart was tremendously heavy for loved ones, neighbors and even people on social media that I have never met. People going through horrible heartache and trials. I couldn’t shake the sadness I felt for each of them. Prayers were spoken continually for what seemed like hopeless situations.
And with the sadness, I looked to a season for happiness instead of my Savior.
I wrapped presents.
I made cookies.
I went to parties.
I ate too much junk food.
I stayed up too late.
I struggled with perfectionism.
I watched too many Hallmark movies while I neglected much needed time with God.
And yet, at the stroke of midnight a new decade was ushered in, whether Charisse was ready for it or not.
In the quietness of my bedroom as these words pour out of me, God begins whispering His words into my heart.
New Years resolutions?
My flesh has already failed my resolve, but praise God He tells me that my flesh does not have to prevail~
as long as He is my hope. Psalm 73:26
He is telling me that I don’t have to be ready. I don’t have to be perfect. I don’t have to have my life in order as I step into this new decade, because~
CHRIST IS MY PERFECTION.
And that’s what Holding Hope is all about.
No matter what you feel, no matter what you are going through at this very moment~
the very first week of this new decade~
You can hold onto hope.
If your heart is screaming right now~ “How?... How do I hold on to hope?”
The only answer I have for you is this~
Call out to Him.
Read His words of hope, written just for you.
Ask others to go to Him on your behalf.
Even if you mess up every single day or your future looks grim~ keep calling out to Him.
Even if your heart has been deeply wounded by others,
or maybe wounded over the heartache of others~
Keep calling out to Him.
He assures us that His mercies are new EVERY morning and so is His faithfulness.
His faithfulness is not contingent on our faithfulness.
His comfort, peace and joy are not contingent on our worthiness.
His love is not contingent on our love and His forgiveness, grace and mercy are not contingent on our perfection.
Today I whisper His name.
Over and over and over I whisper it.
I whisper it for others.
I whisper it for myself.
I whisper it for you.
And my heart rests in knowing that 2020 will be perfect.
Not because of anything Charisse has done, but because of EVERYTHING Christ has done for me~
and for you.
There are no hopeless situations because He is my God of all Hope~
And I will forever hold on to that.
1 Corinthians 2:9
“I’M PRAYING FOR YOU”
The words seemed empty.
Empty because they had been used so many times.
The heartache my friend carried was too hard to comprehend.
Blow after blow had hit her.
How much can a human being handle before they break?
I continued to say~
“I’m praying for you.”
The loss of a child~
“I’m praying for you”
The loss of a spouse~
“I’m praying for you”
A cancer diagnosis~
“I’m praying for you”
Surgery, divorce, job loss, a wayward child, a distant husband, a terminal illness~
“I’m praying for you...”
But, are you?
Are we really praying, or is that just our pet answer to a hopeless situation?
Once we have walked in those same shoes and lived the horrors this life can throw at us, our souls understand how important prayer is.
If our hearts truly hold empathy and compassion, if we truly are going to God on their behalf, if we are begging God to comfort and heal~
Then our God~
Who is full of mercy and compassion~
will do just that.
And those simple words won’t be empty words. They become words full of power and hope. They are words to cling to. They are a lifeline for a soul that is breaking.
Don’t allow “I’m praying for you” to become an empty promise to the problems others face. Fall on your knees and go to God for that person. Hold them, cry with them and pray with them.
Let God be real to them in that moment and ask for His comfort and peace to wash over them. The comfort and peace that only He can give. Ask Him to cradle that dear person in His arms.
That person who doesn’t know if they can take much more.
when you say the words~
”I’m praying for you”
they will feel those words come alive.
**“Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.”
**“The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”
**“But thou, O Lord, art a God full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth.”
ARE YOU LOOKING IN A MIRROR?
For a minute I saw it.
My heart remembered and my soul said~ there you are.
And I fell in love all over again.
His dark hair now shimmers white.
His thin shape has filled in.
But his twinkle,
that twinkle in his eye~
It remains the same, even after 34 years.
And when he laughs,
really laughs from deep down inside~
my heart smiles.
We have been through heartache together.
We have weathered the storms of our own making, and come out on the other side.
There has been hurt.
There have been times that I have hidden away and cried.
Times my heart lies and tells me~
this isn’t the same man you married.
And I want that man back.
Not this one.
Eventually, we become like the ones we spend the most time with.
That’s a lot of time.
Time he has spent with me.
So I remind myself, on the days I don’t like what I see in him, perhaps I am looking in a mirror and seeing a reflection of myself~
And I determine that I will work even harder on this marriage thing~
no matter how many years go by~
so that when he looks back at me,
he will see Christ.
I want him to feel my heart full of forgiveness, selflessness, compassion and mercy. A heart full of indescribable love.
The heart of a wife that spends more time with Christ than her own selfish nature.
I will learn to let things go.
I will put his needs before my own.
I will love like Christ loves me.
And I will see that twinkle that makes my heart smile because I know that when I see that twinkle~
his heart is smiling too.
“The Lord is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy. The Lord is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works.”
“But thou, O Lord, art a God full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth.”
“Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.”
I REMEMBER DAD
I sat on his porch with him looking at the water. We rocked back and forth in silence for a while. He started to say something but couldn’t get the words out, so stopped in frustration. I knew it was something that bothered him, ever since his stroke. The words don’t come easily like they used to. I don’t call attention to it, and we continue to rock. Every night here on his porch since his hospital stay.
I have asked him many questions in the evenings as we rock. I’ve learned so much more about him.
Why did it take so long to get to this point? Because my life was too busy?
Shame on me.
I remember him singing to me when I was little. Songs like~ “Did You Happen To See The Most Beautiful Girl In The World” or “Up Up And Away In My Beautiful Balloon”. The words came easy back then. He had the best voice. I remember that I never had to worry about anything growing up. Dad took care of it. He was a constant.
But I grew up. Life happened.
Marriage, babies, toddlers, high school, college, weddings, grand babies.
Of course we got together for holidays and birthdays.
But not like this.
Not in the quiet.
Just being together for no reason but to be together.
It makes me sad that I could’ve had this all along if I had just put forth a little effort. But we wait until tragedy strikes before our eyes our opened.
The doctor gives bad news. We cry. We change, but often it’s too late. The time is fleeting before there isn’t any time left at all.
TAKE the time today to MAKE the time to be with your daddy. To enjoy just being with him for no reason at all. To talk together. To get to know him and the man he was. The man he is. Don’t wait until it’s too late.
How well do you truly know the man who raised you? I guarantee he would love to tell you his story. Work and friends and responsibilities~ they will always be there, but your dad will not.
Go sit on the porch with him today.
Then tell him how much you love him and how thankful you are for him.
Every day can be Father’s Day with just a little effort and a whole lot of love.
THE REALITY OF MANY
One minute the sun is shining.
You’re smiling as you sing along to your favorite iTunes.
It’s a perfect Saturday morning.
The next minute you’re getting a call from your dad, asking to be taken to emergency.
And everything changes.
One week turns into two, and then three. For some people this scenario goes on for months or even years. Hospitals. Doctors. Sickness.
You feel as if you are living in a dream. Emotional and physical fatigue take control of your normal routine. You can’t sleep at night and you can’t seem to drag yourself out of bed in the morning.
You leave your loved one in the evening and hold your breath the next day, waiting to hear from them, trying not to think the worst. And then you do it all over again.
You go through the day to day motions, not sure how you even managed. Not only do you find yourself wondering about the distant future, you wonder about tomorrow.
You wonder about an hour from now.
Sadly, this is the horrible reality of life for many.
This is the person next to us in line at the store. This is the lady that quietly comes to church but sits alone. This is the cashier that takes our money with a tired smile. This is the waitress that takes our order with heavy shoulders. This is our brother. This is our sister.
This is someone who needs us.
Petty little things that disrupt our daily routine do not compare to the heartache others are quietly facing. We get angry over the long lines at the store. We lose our patience with the cashier for taking so long. We snap at the waitress who got our order wrong. We don’t get out of our seat to welcome that lady sitting all alone.
Too often life revolves around “me.” We don’t open our eyes to those hurting all around us. We don’t look for opportunities to encourage those we speak to, because we are too busy focusing on ourself.
And all along that lady standing next to you is wondering if her daddy will see tomorrow. That wife is wondering if she will get to see another anniversary with her husband. That mom is wondering if her child will see another birthday.
Don’t wait for your own crisis to recognize this. Something I found myself guilty of as I walked down the hospital corridor day after day. As I looked into the rooms of patients that had been there for months and into the tired, heartbroken eyes of loved ones.
Look for opportunities to share a kind word, a smile, a meal, a hug. Offer to sit with a loved one who’s been sick far too long. Pick up groceries or run errands for a tired care giver.
Look into the eyes of that cashier, that waitress, that person next to you in line, that lady sitting all alone.
Look right past yourself and into their eyes. Truly see them. Then do your best to give them a little bit of that Saturday sunshine back again.
DEAR MOTHER IN LAW
DEAR DAUGHTER IN LAW....
There once was a little boy that captured my heart. From the very first moment he was placed in my arms and his big blue eyes stared up into mine.
I held him there. So close.
He had this heart that was full of compassion. Always thinking of me. He would bring me flowers and write me love notes. I was the world to him. He would promise never to marry or move away.
And I held him there. So close.
As he grew, his compassion never waned. Sweet notes and cards. Thoughtfulness. He shared his dreams with me. His funny moments and his happiness.
Maybe, he mused, he would marry....
but live right next door.
He would never move....too far away.
And I tried to hold him there. So close.
But then one day he was asking for advice. His compassion and thoughtfulness shifted. Advice on what to write... to her.
Again I tried to hold him there. So close.
As he talked, I stared into the eyes of my little boy. My baby, now a man. He would marry her. He would live anywhere in the world if he could be with her,
because she was his world.
And I was not.
I could no longer hold him there, so close.
I had to let go.
She changed everything. She was his everything. His happiness. His life. She brought him joy just by being herself.
And she brought me joy because she was herself.
She wrote me notes filled with love. She shared their dreams with me, their days, their hopes, their heartaches and their happiness.
She shared their laughter with me.
She sent me pictures he didn’t know she took. She told me each time he spoke loving thoughts of home and mom.
She shared him.
And she allowed me to hold him close again. So close.
Remember the heart that held his first. That heard his first words of love. That taught him to walk and talk and be the man you love, the man you married.
Remember the heart that holds his now. That gives him joy and happiness. That loves him more than you ever could have hoped for. The woman he married.
and hold each other close.
Thank you Shannon. I love you 😘❤️
YOU CAN CHANGE THE WORLD
I know it’s cliche, but what if we really did choose to live every day as if it were our last?
What if we had to go through the exact routine today that we went through yesterday
not telling anyone it was our last day here on earth.
Knowing that when we laid our heads on our pillows tonight and closed our eyes, we would wake up in heaven.
How would this change how we chose to live? How we looked at our loved ones and treated them? How we lived our lives in front of those we work with, knowing that today was the last time to share our Savior with them?
We wouldn’t worry about tomorrow because we would know there would be no tomorrow.
Today would be so much more important to us.
We would cherish every single second with our loved ones, with our children. With our spouses.
We would make time for family because we would know we didn’t have any time left.
We would put our phones down and try to teach our children as much as we could, knowing we wouldn’t be here tomorrow.
We would love on our spouses deeply, and be so forgiving of so much.
You know where I’m going with this.
Preachers have preached on it often~”What if today was your last.”
When we hear that, we usually tend to think outside the box of reality. All the extravagant things we would do our last day on earth.
But think about having to stay inside the box of reality. Having to live out your day today not changing a thing except for how you view it, and then how you act and react ~because that view is drastically changed.
And yet God tells us-
We aren’t promised tomorrow.
Psalm 90:12, Matthew 6:34
We aren’t supposed to worry. Matthew6:25-34
We’re supposed to love on our children and train them up in the way they should go. Proverbs 22:6
We’re supposed to forgive and love our spouses and each other as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it. Ephesians 4:32, 5:25
We’re supposed to be a living testimony for Christ in all we do or say.
We’re supposed to find the joy of Christ in everything. Every single second.
John 15:11, I Peter 1:8, Philippians 4:4,
Romans 14:17, Psalm 16:11,
Just as if today were our last.
This December lets choose to live every day to the fullest, with a different view.
To cherish every single second and not allow the Christmas chaos to change our perspective.
To view each day as a beautiful gift from God and strive to share that present with everyone.
Let’s determine to be thankful for Christmas and focus on Christ~just as if we will be seeing him tonight.
A drastically changed view can drastically change the world.
Through Christ alone and for His glory we can change the world.
One day at a time.
IF YOU CAN’T SAY SOMETHING NICE...
I stood there listening. Why was I listening?
“I’ve told her all of this. I’m not talking behind her back”
Yet she was.
The subject of our conversation was not with us.
I knew that if she knew the words that were being spoken, it would hurt.
It was wrong. I was wrong.
And then we add trite little end tails to our conversations, to make ourselves feel better.
“Just pray for her” or~
“I’m sorry, I just had to vent” ~
“It’s just so frustrating”...
But we are tearing down.
We aren’t just speaking about another woman, we are speaking against God’s child. The child that He loves with incredible, awe inspiring love.
“Talk to them, not about them”.
I’ve heard this phrase before and it immediately pricks my heart. And then this deceitful heart of mine comes up with all the reasons why I can’t talk to her.
It won’t do any good.
She won’t listen.
I’ve tried before and look what happened.
You don’t know what she’s like.
She’s impossible to deal with.
But HE does know.
And HE loves still.
And He asks me~Why haven’t you talked to ME about this?
I AM the God of the impossible.
My heart becomes heavy at the thought that if Jesus was sitting here next to me as we spoke~
would I choose the same words?
Would I voice the same complaints? Would I listen to the same conversation without feeling tremendous conviction inside?
He is here with me~
And I allow it all.
How easy it is to find the faults in others and to speak those thoughts out loud, but somehow justify our own behavior.
The same behavior that our Savior took on Himself when He died for me.
Your silence as others speak ill is just as wrong as if you said the words yourself.
There will be times where unpleasant situations need to be addressed but, in Matthew 18 God lays out a roadmap on how He wants this done.
Conveniently, we tend to skip a few steps.
We tend to involve people who have nothing to do with the situation other than being someone we feel comfortable complaining/“sharing prayer requests” with. We cave in to the natural impulse to share others shortcomings thinking it somehow makes us look better.
But it doesn’t.
Even if we are the quiet listener instead of the news giver, our silence tends to reinforce their bad behavior.
We can all take a lesson from our mothers~
“If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all”....
So flee that conversation. Walk away. Shut your mouth. Whatever needs to be done.
And give it to God. He already knows all about it anyway.
And He already has the solution.
TO FALL IN LOVE ALL OVER AGAIN
I watched the young bride to be.
Two days before the “I do’s”.
The winds of work all around her. Like walking on water, her eyes fixed only on him.
Pure joy in the eyes that beheld her groom.
Unabashed love filled the heart that was his.
No care for the lack of helpers. Oblivious to the hard work her hands were doing, the many jobs before the big day, the late nights and lack of sleep.
11pm. Endless wedding chores had filled her day, and yet, she couldn’t wait to get home and talk to the love of her life. Sleep could wait.
And so I thought on my own marriage.
Those early years when he was the most important thing in the world to me and my love for him was much greater than my love for myself.
Time changes things.
Self pity gets the upper hand far too often.
Today I will remember.
Today I will choose to say “I do” again.
And then I thought about HIM, my Savior, and how often self has pushed Him aside. I remember when I first fell in love with Him so many years ago. That love has feigned. I was willing to do anything, go anywhere, serve wherever needed.
All with joy in my heart.
I would take on any responsibility in ministry,
all for the love of HIM,
and as the sun went down and stars illuminated the evening sky,
I was never too tired to talk to HIM.
There were no complaints about not getting help with the endless work ministry calls for,
because my great love for HIM was my motivation.
Like a young bride, my every breath held His name. My heart was totally His.
Somehow, too often along the journey, my joy gets lost in serving because I take my eyes off of HIM and turn them instead toward myself.
Today I will choose to say “I do” again. I will rekindle the love I lost. I will remember the day He filled my heart and left no room for self to squeeze in. I will love Him with my everything. I will serve Him entirely. I will rejoice in the joy only He can bring.
I will walk on water towards Him. My eyes only on Him. No self pity. No self love.
No complaints about all the others behind me in the boat that aren’t walking with me,
because all I need is HIM.
Yes, today I will say “I do” again.
“I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience....and for my name's sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted. Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love....Remember...”. Revelation 2:2-5
“Now the end of the commandment is charity (love) out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned:” 1 Timothy 1:5
“Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” I Corinthians 10:31
“That I see Him walking on the waves, no shore in sight, no success, no goal, just the absolute certainty that it is all right because I see Him walking on the sea. It is the process, not the end, which is glorifying to God. God’s end is to enable me to see that He can walk on the chaos of my life just now. If we have a further end in view, we do not pay sufficient attention to the immediate present: if we realize that obedience is the end, then each moment as it comes is PRECIOUS.” Oswald Chambers
WHEN YOU’VE BEEN MISTREATED
I just want to wallow in it.
I’m fighting the pricking of my heart because~
I. Deserve. To. Wallow.
How many times can a person get mistreated?
How many times can I get knocked down and pick myself back up again?
I don’t want to get back up.
I want to be angry inside.
I want to cry.
I want to run away.
I definitely don’t want to read my bible or pray.
My heart knows what God is whispering to it~
I block my ears like a little child.
It’s not fair
It’s too hard
I can’t do this anymore.
Let me have my moment.
But God keeps whispering~
He will keep bringing me back to this place over and over again~
Until I realize Jesus.
Today I only realize Charisse.
God knows my circumstances.
They aren’t accidental.
He wants me to see Jesus in every moment~
Even in the mistreatment and hurt.
He whispers to my soul~
Be tender hearted
as I forgave you.
I am undone.
His words pierce my heart.
I can forgive
I can be kind
I can be tender hearted
I can love again
I can do all things through Him~
And that’s exactly what He would do.
“To the saint, personal insult becomes the occasion of revealing the incredible sweetness of the Lord Jesus”
“The disciple realizes that it is his Lord’s honor that is at stake in his life, not his own honor”
“Never look for justice, but never cease to live it”
A few years back, someone was having a conversation with my son in law and told him that they thought his mother in law was snooty.
Can I tell you how deeply that bothered me?
Of course my sweet son in law tried to assure them that I was not snooty, just very shy. He even added-“if you knew her, you would know she’s not that way at all”. It was very kind of him to stick up for me.
After the blow of hearing that I was described as snooty, my first reaction was to defend myself~
“I’m not snooty, I’m just extremely shy! I can’t help it.”
But then my thoughts went inward. I convinced myself that this was how God made me and He loves me just as I am and understands that I am shy.
Can I say~I still believe all of that. God does love me as I am.
God does know I am an introverted, shy preacher’s wife.
He asked me~
Are You a picture of my Son?
When people are with you, do they see Jesus shine through that shyness?
Even before they know you?
Obviously the answer was no, and I knew right then that I needed to be a picture of God’s grace~
shyness and all.
It’s something I ask Him to help me with on a daily basis.
~Let them see Jesus in me~
Too often we convince ourselves that we can’t help our demeanor. We argue that that’s just how God made us, but we forget the part of the Bible that says~
We are made in His image.
We are known by our fruit.
We are a light to the world.
Love is everything.
In word, in deed, in demeanor.
We can do ALL things with Christ help.
So I will step out of my comfort zone, put on a little extra deodorant (because I know I’ll be sweating bullets)~
and with Gods help and His power~
I will show the world Jesus.
Shyness and all.
Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.”
“But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.”
2 Corinthians 3:18
~~On the cloudiest of days, when my soul is dark and my heart is thundering~ God will give me little snippets of unexpected sunshine...
Discouragement comes in many forms and often sets up camp in the deepest recesses of our hearts and minds. It’s a mental enemy that battles against us and gains it’s strength from every wayward thought our contrite heart imagines.
God uses the smallest things to remind us of His love, but we can often miss it because that enemy discouragement is clouding every bit of sunshine the Savior throws our way.
Sadly, many times encouragement is fleeting. It can often come in the smallest gesture of another, and change someone’s day completely.
God can use all of us in this battle against discouragement. He wants us to be on the front lines, fighting for Him.
He is tapping our shoulder.
He is whispering in our ear~
My child needs your words today.
They are hurting.”
But we brush it off. We make excuses. We’re too busy. We wouldn’t know what to say. We don’t even know that person.
And we walk away, not even realizing in the moment how desperately that person needed a word from a stranger, a smile, a hug.
My grandson Ethan saw a political sign in someone’s yard last week. He asked his daddy if someone placed the sign there to tell everyone~‘Have a good day!’ 😊
We are quick to speak on politics or our favorite sports teams. We put their signs in our yards and their jerseys on our backs. We are quick to speak our disapproval of others and the choices they make- and yet, too often, words of encouragement are absent from our vocabulary.
I cannot tell you the amount of times you, the reader, have encouraged me. When discouragement sneaks in and tells my wandering heart that it has no business speaking words of truth, God sends a warrior my way. Someone that otherwise would NEVER cross my path in my normal day to day activities.
It astounds me every single time.
He uses YOU to bless me.
And that brings tears to my eyes.
Let’s wear God’s words and outwardly show others the beautiful signs of our Saviors love~~
Speak those words, give that hug, send that card, bring that meal, say that prayer.
Shine like your Savior and lift someone up out of the depths of discouragement.
Be God’s warrior today.