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, )
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)
“…And Mom and Dad can hardly wait for school to start again…”
We are all familiar with the lyrics to this classic Christmas song, except I wasn’t that mom. I didn’t want school to start again. I wanted to hold on to every minute I had my children home with me during Christmas break. I was the mom watching school cancellations on the television during every snow storm, hoping the name of our school would come across the screen. Snowy days in front of a cozy fire. Hot chocolate and sledding. Movie Mondays where we’d all pile into our tiny den with a big bowl of homemade popcorn.
My family. My kids. My heart.
Yes I had those days when they would drive me absolutely crazy, but I wouldn’t trade one second of this glorious ministry God has placed me in.
The ministry of motherhood.
A ministry I often messed up.
Motherhood is a high calling and one that far too many take too lightly. Every single second God gives you with your child is of utmost importance and will make a lasting impact on their lives. The words you say, the reactions you have, the love you give and the prayers you pray will mold them into the adult they will one day become. They will notice what is important to you without you ever saying a word, because mama that old saying still holds true today~
”Actions speak louder than words”.
Far too often my actions spoke louder.
I wanted that clean house. I wanted that 5 minutes of peace. I wanted time to do projects and to write stories and to fulfill dreams.
Today, I have all of that. I have all the time in the world to keep a clean house. To sit in the peace and quiet and write. Today the same rooms of this old house gaze back at me. The rooms I thought had to be cleaned and organized “right now” or I might lose it. The rooms I allowed to get between me and my children, because they were constant interruptions in my schedule. The rooms now empty of toys and children and laughter.
Today I realize God did fulfill my dreams.
He wrapped them up in four beautiful souls.
All that other stuff was just stuff.
The furniture has been arranged and rearranged and the paint in this house has been changed multiple times in the past 27 years and I will have multiple moments to change it all again, but those moments with my children are gone. And yes, that can break my heart.
I messed up a lot in this ministry of motherhood. At times, we grandmas can often feel that pain of wishing we could have a “do over”.
I know I do.
But then God reminds me of the little miracles He made of the messes. He reminds me of the laughter. Of holding our breath as we wished for snow days, and the squeals of delight when they were gifted to us. Of playing hide and seek in the house and Barbies in the bedroom. Of making homemade popcorn and cookies and fudge. Of four little bodies snuggling in with mama on the couch. Of the prayers I prayed as tears flowed from an abundantly blessed heart.
Yes I messed up, but God was in each one of those messes. He heard my sincere heart as I cried out to Him for the ‘now’ and for the ‘futures’ of my children. He was the God of my mundane days. He was the God Who sat with me as I cried out in prayer. The God Who was next to me as I washed dishes and vacuumed and painted that room one more time. The God Who made my home a safe haven of coziness for my kids. The God Who somehow allowed my children to look at my heart and not just my actions. The God Who turned my little beings into my best friends and my mistakes into lessons made. The God Who answered my prayers despite my problems.
My God Who takes this ministry of motherhood seriously. I wasn’t the one who made this house a home. I wasn’t the one who raised my children to love the Lord. It was Jesus in me. Jesus in the messes and Jesus in the beautiful moments. Jesus in the very middle of this ministry of motherhood.
No matter what that ministry looks like for you today~Invite Jesus in. Invite Him into every single thing you do. The cooking and baking. The laundry and dishes. The dusting and vacuuming. The painting and the rearranging. The bath time and the bed time. The prayer time. Fall to your knees for that newborn, that toddler, that teenager and college student. That wayward adult. When you invite Jesus in, He makes miracles out of messes.
It is a high calling mama.
One we need be on our knees for continually.
It is a ministry that never ends.
A beautiful, glorious, life changing ministry.
That sweet, sweet ministry called motherhood.
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.
Do you know how to pray?
I’m confessing my faults here.
It doesn’t always come easy for me.
I’m not a morning person at all,
and I’m not a social butterfly. Two things that really seem to hinder my prayer life at times.
I’ve written articles on this before but even after 54 years, I can’t say I’ve got it down.
I don’t wake up and automatically talk to God. I’m one of those “don’t talk to me for 2 hours” kind of non-morning people.
I wish when that alarm went off I was praising Jesus instead of grumbling all the way to the coffee maker.
From the moment I wake up, a thousand thoughts run through my head. The first ten or twenty are usually “I want to go back to sleep”, but then I start thinking ahead about my day and my schedule.
I have a hard time just sitting and being still. My hands are always doing something. My mind is always thinking ahead. For me, bible reading comes easy. It’s a task that I am physically doing.
Prayer not so much.
I am an introvert, a quiet thinker but not a big talker.
For some reason I dread even talking on the phone. I’ve heard that women talk way more than men, but in my case my husband must say three times the words I do in a day.
And then, as soon as I do start talking to God, my mind begins to wander and I’m thinking of everything I want to accomplish that day.
I know that’s not God, that’s Satan trying to limit my prayer life. He knows what our weaknesses are and he knows how to use them against us.
When I think of goals, I often think about the account of Moses shining so brightly after he talked to God. Deep down that is my desire. To just shine for Jesus. To just talk to Him so big and so often that everyone knows He is my Jesus. He is my everything.
Listening to sermons and reading devotions and going to church can all motivate but having a personal one on one time with Jesus is the only thing that will truly help us get to know God and learn what it means to talk to Him as a Father and Friend.
To shine from the inside out.
You might be completely different than I am. Prayer might come easy to you but Bible reading is harder. Either way, I hope these next tips can challenge you as you talk to God on a day to day basis.
1. First and foremost, I want you to ask yourself~am I a child of God? I know that I mentioned in my last article that my first tip will always be to ask God for help, but before you can
do that~ Do you know if you are
truly His child? We are not all
“good”. All of us have sinned.
We are born sinners. Romans
3:12,23. From that tiny white lie
that you told to the murderers
on death row. We were all born
with a sin nature and can never
be good enough or do enough
good deeds to somehow make it
to heaven when we die.
That’s why Jesus had to come
and die for our sins. He paid the
debt we owed to God for all the
wrong we’ve ever done. We
have to believe in Him, repent
and receive Him to be
permanently forgiven of our sins
and become God’s child.
Romans 10:9&10. This isn’t a
“get out of jail free” card or a
ticket you hand to God when
you die that says “I said a
prayer, so I get one free pass to
heaven”. This is a true prayer of
repentance and forgiveness
from the heart that leads to a
beautiful relationship with God
for all of eternity. John 3:16. If
you don’t have a relationship
with God, the rest of this article
will be of no help to you. If this is
something you have questions
about, please message me. With
all my heart I would love to talk
to you further about this.
~So, with that being said~
2. ASK God for help. If you don’t know where to start, if you don’t know what to say. If you feel like you are talking to a wall and you can’t feel His presence. KEEP asking for help. Every single day. All day. Keep asking. God wants a relationship with you. He wants you to communicate with Him all day long and He wants to help you with this. Pursue Him and don’t give up. Romans 8:26
3. Get to know God better by reading His words. I wrote a post about this that you can read here~ https://www.cbcofcaseville.org/blog/read-through-the-bible
A big part of the problem many
people have with prayer is that
they don’t really know God. You
might know about Him but until
you open His word and read
about His tremendous love for
you, prayer will not become
real to you.
4. Make it a habit to talk to Him all day long. Prayer doesn’t have to be a special time set aside. Prayer is simply talking to God. Talk to Him, cry with Him, sing with Him. Sit in silence and listen to Him. Thank Him. Prayers of thanksgiving can change everything about your prayer life. I encourage you to read my post about that here~ https://www.cbcofcaseville.org/blog/a-prayer-that-can-change-your-life#comments
All of these things are a part of
prayer. His presence is ALWAYS
with you, so why not talk to Him
5. Once you are a child of God, nothing can separate you from His love. Romans 8:39, John 10:28&29. You will always be His child but if you know deep down that you have sin in your life, make sure you ask Him to forgive you and restore your relationship. Psalm 66:18.
Just like in any relationship, if
you have wronged someone,
that relationship can’t move
forward and flourish until you
ask for forgiveness.
Now that we got past some basics, here are a few new things God showed me this week about my own prayer life.
1. Quit viewing it as a job, a duty or a mandate and start viewing it as an expression of love. I don’t know how many sermons I’ve heard on the importance of bible reading and prayer. ~You need to read and pray~ has been ingrained into me since junior high. It seemed as if it was almost portrayed as a command and if that command was not followed, punishment would ensue. As the years went by, I didn’t realize I began to view prayer as a duty to God. A job. Something every Christian is “supposed” to do. Prayer can too easily become mechanical. This is not what God intended at all. Think about the person you love most on this earth. Do you ever think about talking to them as a duty? No, that’s ridiculous. We WANT to talk to them. It comes natural because we love them so much. That is how it should be with God. We should wake up excited to speak to Him. We should want to share everything with Him about our day, we should lay all our burdens and anxieties at His feet. He should be the first person we want to go to when problems arise and when overwhelming happiness floods our souls. All because we love Him and all because He loves us.
2. I’ve heard women say that it’s too hard to talk to someone who is not physically there with with them, yet we talk to ourselves all the time. Think about that. Let it sink in.
Our inner thoughts command
our steps without us even
realizing it. Women have
thousand of thoughts running
through their minds at once. It’s
how we were created. Not all our
thoughts are good. Not all our
thoughts are uplifting. We can
beat ourselves up with negative
thinking. We listen to our
criticizing inner voices and we
believe them. Isaiah 55:8&9,
Jeremiah 17:9. Why is it so easy
to talk to ourselves and to listen
to those inner voices, yet
convince ourselves that we can’t
talk to God or hear from Him?
Whenever my inner thoughts
start getting the best of me, I
have tried to make it a habit to
stop listening to them and bring
all those thoughts to God. 2
Corinthians 10:5. I talk to Him
about everything going through
my mind. It’s so much easier to
give the burdens to Him. I Peter
5:7. Try this practice the next
time your inner thoughts are
gaining a negative control on
your life. Romans 12:2
3. I’ve read a lot of helpful tips on what to do if your mind wanders like mine does. Things like praying out loud, praying in a room with no distractions, kneeling when you pray etc. What has helped me most is to first ask the Holy Spirit for help, and second to remind myself that Jesus is literally right there with me. I can talk to him so much easier when I picture Him there with me. I can laugh and I can allow Him to hold me as I sob tears of heartache or shame. Because He is right there. Once your mind gets a hold of this truth, prayer is life changing.
We are all created different. God knows this. He understands this. Our prayer lives will all look different. There isn’t a magic cookie cutter mold that God expects us to master. God loves you just the way you are and He will love your conversations with Him, because He will know that’s you. He knows everything about you. He knows the deepest thoughts and feelings of our hearts. Nothing is hid from Him, so why not be real and raw when you talk to Him?
Don’t try to pray like someone else.
Let your prayers be the words your heart speaks.
You pray you.
And it will change your life.
Last week I shared with you something that really, truly changed my life. Reading through the Bible in 60 days. Yep. The WHOLE bible in only 60 days.
Click here to read that post~
And here is the link to the plan I followed~
I'm reading the @YouVersion plan 'Power Read The Bible In 60 Days With Jeff Anderson'. Check it out here:
I highly recommend it for everyone!
One thing that stood out to me was how often I read the words~
glorify, praise and thanksgiving.
This was something I knew I had read before, but after reading large amounts of scripture every day~ it really stuck with me. It was a continual theme.
I was reading it over and over and over.
And my heart was convicted.
This was something I wasn’t doing enough of. I did plenty of asking but I wasn’t glorifying, praising and thanking God enough. I had made the majority of my prayer life all about petitions instead of taking the time to fall on my knees in thankfulness.
So today I want to share something else that truly changed my life.
Instead of petitioning God, I simply sat and thanked Him.
I was amazed at the many things that came to mind. I probably could’ve sat all day praising and thanking Him~
and it changed me.
After thanking Him over and over for the countless blessings He has bestowed upon me, my heart knew without a shadow of a doubt that He would take care of my usual requests and burdens.
My heart was joyful. It was light. It was free from stress and anxiety. It was free from burdens. I knew He was in complete control and I could let go.
I could simply say thank you with a peace that passed all understanding.
And so, I want to give you some tips that helped me on my new journey of thankfulness and release.
⁃ Find a quiet place that is free from distractions. A place for just you and Jesus. (For me this is my bedroom)
⁃ The first thing I always do is ask the Holy Spirit for help. I ask the Holy Spirit to speak deeply to my soul. To clear my heart and mind of distractions and help me to focus only on Jesus.
⁃ Next, I talk to Jesus as if He is sitting right next to me, because He is! The Bible tells me He will never leave me and I truly believe He is with me every moment of every day.
⁃ I then start thanking God. At first it was hard because I immediately wanted to petition Him on behalf of loved ones, friends and circumstances. So, I continued to ask the Holy Spirit to guide me. Even if you find yourself distracted or disconnected, don’t stop. Keep thanking Him.
⁃ I started with things that were right in the room with me, things that we so easily take for granted. My bed, clothing, a closet for those clothes, a warm comforter etc. then my home and all that He provides for me inside that home. By focusing on what’s right in front of you, God will open your eyes to a world of thankfulness.
⁃ I then moved my focus beyond that as I looked outside. The sunshine, the blue skies and cotton candy clouds. The birds singing. The rooftop of our precious church.
⁃ I then moved my focus beyond that to my wonderful hometown. My neighbors, our farms and beaches, rivers and lake.
⁃ I then thanked God for my sweet family. My husband, children and grandchildren. My dad and brothers. My in-laws and cousins. My aunts and uncles, nieces and nephews.
⁃ Make this a habit you practice at least once a week.
⁃ The more I thanked God, the deeper my soul felt that thankfulness. I found myself weeping as I thanked Him for each thing, but especially for His Son dying for me on the cross. For giving me the gift of eternal life at such a cost. For loving me despite myself.
Some of you might not know where to start when it comes to prayer and others might feel like this is too simple. These are just a few of the tips that helped me. I hope you get the idea. Something completely different might work better for you.
You might be reading this and thinking that it’s easy for me to be thankful because of how many blessings I have, but you find yourself in a dark, lonely place filled with heartache.
Can I tell you my friend that even there you can find the light. You can find your way out of the dark if you give Jesus your hand.
Take it one step at a time.
Thank Him for being there with you. In your quiet place. Just you and Jesus. You are not alone. Thank Him for dying for you. Thank Him that no matter how dark things seem right now, His gift of salvation has given you light and peace for all eternity.
If His redeeming love and forgiveness is something you have never experienced, I urge you to reach out to me. I would love to share the gospel with you. I would love for you to know my Jesus and the thankfulness my heart feels.
There is no doubt that as you go about your day, loved ones and friends, burdens or circumstances will come to the forefront of your heart. Choose to remain thankful each time. Thank God for the burdens He places upon your heart, for the circumstances He placed you in, for that person He gave you to love. Thank Him all day long as you go about each task.
The more you say thank you, the more thankful you become.
Guys, I promise it will change your life!
CAN GOD RESTORE WHAT IS SO BROKEN?
I could hear them screaming at each other upstairs.
Crying ensued followed by slamming doors and the words “I hate you!”.
This was a daily occurrence and one that broke my heart.
Teenage sisters living in the same room. One mirror. Three girls. Daily fights.
I didn’t have a sister.
I always wanted one.
This was not what I imagined when they were little.
I had this idea that they would grow up to be best friends. Sharing secrets and dreams. Doing each other’s hair, sharing outfits, actually wanting to be together.
I never imagined feeling exhausted before my day even began. I never imagined myself crying as they left for school every day or begging God to heal a relationship that I thought could never be healed.
I kid you not, it was something that went on almost every day for a year.
I truly believe they hated each other that year.
It was something I went to God about daily, begging Him to change hearts and restore what was broken. I have to admit, I didn’t have a whole lot of faith when I went to Him. I wasn’t sure He could restore what was SO broken.
But He could.
And He showed me it had nothing to do with me being some perfect parent and everything to do with Him being a perfect Savior. It had nothing to do with my prayers but everything to do with His promises. Yes He wanted me to go to Him in my despair. Yes He wanted me to lean on Him, have faith in Him, trust Him for the healing~
but when my flesh failed me, He did not.
Don’t ever stop praying mama, even after your prayers have been answered. It’s not the power of your prayers that will make a difference in your children’s lives it’s the power of the One who hears our prayers and answers.
And He will answer.
It might take years.
It did in my situation and there are still moments where those old days flare their ugly head and the deceiver tries to convince those girls that some things never change.
God is faithful. He is more powerful. His Spirit continually reminds them to think on what is true and good and righteous. To love like He loves and forgive as He forgives.
He softens their hearts and He reminds them Who their hearts belong to.
So go to Him mama. He is a friend that sticks closer than a brother (or sister)~~
but it’s a beautiful thing when that sister is also a best friend.
YOUR ‘NO’ MIGHT BE GOD’S ‘YES’
2 minute read
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.
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
1 minute read
Last week I wrote about our wonderful, omnipresent God. Yes God will always bend down to listen, but how often do we come to Him with the heart of a child~ just as my precious grandchildren came to me....
And amidst the chaos of that Sunday morning service,
the pastor’s wife bent down to listen to her grandchild.
The child who didn’t notice the chaos,
That didn’t notice the “to do’s”,
or the time they took to tell me.
They simply came as a child with a need.
A child with faith that the one who loves them so much,
would surely bend down to listen~
and to love~
and to make everything okay.
Oh that I would just go to Him~
holding nothing back.
Oh that I had such faith in my Father!
Oh that I could put aside every weight and
fear, every worry and anxiety.
Oh that I could for a moment forget the
“to do’s” and the schedule,
the chaos and responsibilities.
Oh that I would come as a child, placing it all in His hands~
and let it be just me and my Savior.
Allowing His love to wash over me,
and every other thing around me
disappear in His presence.
Resting in His love.
Believing~without a doubt~
that He would make everything okay.
I am that child.
You are that child.
Come as you are, just as a child.
Come to your Daddy.
And just as if you are His only child in this world,
He will always, always bend down to listen and to answer and to make everything okay.
Take us back dear Father~
Take us back to that child like faith.
HE WILL ALWAYS BEND DOWN
1 minute read
I walked into the auditorium.
Services would begin soon.
People were filling the pews.
People I should greet,
I should welcome,
I should encourage.
Amidst all the bustling and noise
I hear a little voice,
and I stop everything.
It is my 6 year old grandson, excited to recite his bible verse. It takes him a moment, but I smile. I patiently listen.
This is important.
I hear a voice,
it is my 7 year old granddaughter showing me a hurt. Tears are in her eyes as she seeks comfort. I stop. I hold her. I wipe her tears away.
It is my younger grandson,
He is 3. He is asking me for a drink. I lead him into Bapa’s quiet office and hand him my water.
And another Sunday it is my younger granddaughter, she is 5.
She is asking if I can show her how to play the piano. Since she was a baby she has wanted to sit with me there. And so, amidst all the people the piano lulls for a moment as I show her a few notes.
And I stop.
I bend down.
Amidst all the chaos,
Amidst all the responsibilities,
Amidst all the needs,
It all stops around me as I listen,
Because my heart is filled with a love for each of them.
A love that cannot be explained.
And I know.
That is the love my God has for me.
That is my Jesus
Who bends down to listen,
amidst everything this world throws at Him.
He still bends down to listen
He listens when I’m excited,
It doesn’t matter to Him how long I ramble.
He listens when I’m hurt,
and holds me in His arms as He wipes my tears away.
He listens when I’m needy,
and leads me beside the still waters.
He restores my soul.
He listens when I ask for help.
Despite the millions of cries for help all over the world, in that moment all is quiet to my omnipresent God except my tiny voice among many.
A love I don’t deserve.
A love I have done nothing on my own to merit.
The beautiful love of my Father
for His child.
I am that child.
You are that child.
And just as if you are
His only child in this world,
He will always bend down to listen.
NEVER STOP PRAYING FOR THAT CHILD
3 minute read
“Mrs. Goforth, this is officer Joy. We have your son in the back of our squad car....”
I thought it was a prank call.
At the time I didn’t realize our town had an officer with the last name “Joy”. I started laughing, until he cut me off to tell me what my son had been up to~
jumping off a barge into the Pigeon River. Apparently he had gotten permission to do so earlier in the day, but he had NOT gotten permission to go back at night with his friends.
This wasn’t the first time Michael had “befriended” the police.
*A few years earlier he climbed on top of our shed and shot a BB gun toward some trouble makers on Devil’s night. He thought he was protecting us. The police were knocking on our door a few minutes later. He was 7.
*On a family trip, he left a convenience store at 9pm because he couldn’t find us. He started walking toward the highway and the police picked him up. He was 9.
*He rode a moped on his senior trip without a helmet. The police stopped him, despite his protests that everyone else was doing it.
*He snuck out at night and put an 8’ fiberglass rabbit in the middle of Main Street. A police chase ensued. Tasers were involved and the trouble makers ran into our church to hide out. (Yes, my husband is the pastor of that church).
None of these things were terrible, life altering mistakes.
They began in innocence.
Slowly mischief was added, a little bit at a time and each time, my heart was pricked a little more.
Our children’s actions can do that to us. And then, as mothers we worry. I was worried I was a terrible mother and I was worried about the direction my son seemed to be heading.
When you write a weekly blog that all your children read, when you live in a small town and all those children live in that same town AND grew up in that same town, it makes it difficult to share past experiences and heartache you may have gone through in raising said children. At the same time I cannot pretend our life was a wonderful bed of roses, or that we were perfect parents and they were perfect children.
I wasn’t. They weren’t.
I had struggles and heart ache just like every other parent. This mom had more sleepless nights~filled with tears~than she cares to recall.
But God is faithful.
That isn’t cliche. It isn’t a cute phrase.
It’s a truth I know from the depths of my heart, and have witnessed in each of their lives.
The very first time we were called into the school office due to my son’s misbehavior, my mama heart wanted to blame everyone else. The teacher for not controlling her class, and the mischievous little boys he was interacting with. But that day God showed me that Michael wasn’t sweet and innocent either. He played just as much a part as the other boys involved, and this mom began praying even harder.
I prayed specific prayers. I begged God to watch over my children and help them make Godly choices. I asked God ALL DAY LONG to keep His angels around my babies like a fortress, and to hold them under the shadow of His wings.
So, from the moment I started praying earnestly on Michael’s behalf did his life dramatically change? Did he become the perfect little boy who grew into the Godly preacher he is today?
Obviously, after reading the beginning of this story you know the answer~he did not.
But, this mom never gave up on begging God and to this day, even though they are grown and married~ she’s still begging.
Don’t ever stop going to God on your children’s behalf. Jesus Himself goes to God our Father on our behalf. If Christ, our ultimate example, does that for me~ then I will continue to do that for my own children until my last breath.
Don’t give up mom. No matter how discouraging their choices and actions might be~Wait on the Lord. God is faithful. If you will keep asking~ He will answer and in time it will be true joy, and not an officer, calling to your heart.
John 16:24- ...ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.
Psalm 27:14- Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.
Psalm 91:4,11, Psalm 34:7, Matthew 18:10, Hebrews 1:14
Something As Silly As Makeup
2 minute read
The store was empty.
A strange change from its normal busyness.
Mike took the three older kids in his cart while I went with tiny Kathryn to pick up her baby necessities.
My heart was heavy.
I admit, I was feeling sorry for myself.
The last few months had been a struggle. Kathryn had suffered from allergies that resulted in fevers, sleepless nights, doctor visits, bills and tears. Lots of tears. Tears from sweet, baby Kathryn and tears from her mama.
And so, here I was about to spend half (yes HALF) of our grocery budget on formula for her. The only formula her little tummy could handle. Mike and I and our three older children would somehow live on the other half of the budget.
Money was very, very tight.
As I wondered the lonely aisle looking for her formula, I began talking to God.
You see~of all the silly, shallow things to talk to Him about~I was asking Him about makeup. I had run out and we had no money left to even purchase one of the items I needed.
As you know from previous posts, I’m just a makeup person. Always have been. Partly because I was raised that way, and partly because I would scare you if I wasn’t.(*note top pic) I never leave the house without makeup. I know that sounds vain, but it’s always been an insecurity of mine.
And so, I asked God what to do.
I put the bottle of bleach for her cloth diapers into the cart with her formula, then turned the corner.
And there in the middle of the next aisle over lay a 20 dollar bill. It was crisp and new. There wasn’t a person in sight anywhere. I picked it up. I looked around. I went aisle to aisle. No one. I asked the service desk if anyone had reported losing money. The answer was no. They told me it was mine.
And I cried.
I don’t know why God loves me so much. I certainly didn’t feel I deserved it, in fact I know I didn’t.
Perhaps because that’s what God is.
He is LOVE, and despite my selfish, shallow, heartfelt cries~ He answered.
He sent a crisp 20 dollar bill.
In that moment I realized it wasn’t the money that made me cry. It wasn’t the happy thought that I could go out and buy that much needed makeup. It was that He was there all along. He knew, and He showed me how very, very much He loves me. Even through something as silly as makeup.
Remember when you were little, all the unimportant things you would ask your daddy for? It never felt silly to ask~ because he was daddy.
I can’t even tell you how many times my heavenly Daddy has shown up in the little, unimportant things that clearly don’t matter in light of eternity.
But when He shows up~
He tells me that I MATTER~
and He shows me how incredible His love is.
That’s my God.
Look for Him in the little things.
They aren’t coincidences.
They are all God.
They’re His way of saying~”I see you, I know your struggles and I’m here for you.”
The little things are actually big things.
They’re like getting a hug from your daddy.
Don’t ever feel silly asking Him for something that seems unimportant and small.
Because you are not small to God.
If it’s important to you,
it’s important to Him.
Even if it’s as silly as makeup.
“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.”
PARENTING PET PEEVE ✔️
Parenting pet peeve #557...
I don’t have them numbered...
or do I?? 🤔😂
Sometimes it feels like this many...
You know those moments when you’ve been praying and talking and praying and talking with your children and for some reason it just doesn’t click?
They come to you overwhelmed and discouraged.
They’re heart broken and hurting.
which makes you cry.
They want answers.
They don’t know what to do.
You’ve been there.
So, you pray for them.
You pray with them.
You talk to them.
You text them.
You share verses and words of encouragement.
But it just seems like it doesn’t click. They’re just not getting it.
i.e.~In one ear and out the other.
And then they have a breakthrough.
They tell you they heard a message, they read a devotional.
They talked to someone.
And here is where the pet peeve hits you smack in the face.
Excitedly, they share the words that changed their life,
the “great advice” that helped so much.
And it’s exactly what you have been saying
Yep. That’s hard.
As a mom you just want to scream~
“Are you kidding me?!!
Where have you been the last 25 years I’ve been telling you that exact thing?
Were you even listening at all?!!”
And then, as you’re standing there completely dumbfounded, they don’t understand why you aren’t more excited for their new change of heart.
For their epiphany.
And you have no words.
I don’t know why I let this bother me so much.
Someone else’s advice.
Someone else’s help.
It’s hard on a mama.
But then I think about my own life.
My own walk with God.
When I’m overwhelmed and discouraged.
When I cry and don’t know what to do.
I read God’s word and for some reason, it doesn’t click.
In one ear and out the other.
But then I read a devotional or hear a message and bam!! I have my own epiphany.
My own breakthrough.
As if the speaker or writer wrote it just for me.
And I say “thank you Lord”.
And He whispers back with a smile~
“I’ve been telling you this all along, you just needed an extra nudge.”
Isn’t that what we have been praying for?
For help for our children and what they are going through?
And yet when that extra nudge comes and it’s not from us, our mama hearts sting a little.
This mama wants her mama heart to look more like Jesus’ heart.
To understand that God can use anyone and anything to turn a situation around.
That He heard my prayers for my children and He answered.
And to be thankful.
Even if that answer didn’t come from me.
I’m sure He’s been speaking to me all along about this. Tomorrow I will probably read it in a devotional and get hit over the head.
I’ll tell Him I hear Him today.
And I’m listening to His advice.
✔️Pet peeve #557~
Given to God.
WHERE ARE YOUR EYES FIXED?
A few weeks ago, we watched the film The Prince of Egypt during our Wednesday Evening Children’s program. It had been years since I saw it. It really brought the story of Gods deliverance to life for all those little (and not so little) eyes when we saw it on the big screen.
Fast forward to yesterday. Life has been crazy chaotic, and that’s putting it lightly. Physical and emotional issues slamming us all at once.
As I tried to pray, it all just came crashing in on me.
My mind was so focused on that crazy chaos that I couldn’t focus on God.
In all His amazing goodness and glory and mercy, reminded my heart of that children’s movie.
This might sound silly, but all I could think was~
“God, please just push all these thoughts to the side. Part these waters of despair and help me to focus only on You”.
Even as I write this, I can picture those waters parting. If you’ve seen the movie~ I’m sure you can too. (I added the clip 👇🏼 for dramatic flare 😉)
God said~”Charisse, too often you are looking from side to side. You see the giant problems in your life and the scary situations, just like those giant fish and scary waters.
You take your eyes off of me and the path I have for you.
The more you look at the situation around you~instead of ahead toward me, the more frantic you get.
You begin to look behind you, afraid that the circumstances will over take you.
Only I can part the waters of worry. Only I can make the path of peace.
Only I am~’I AM’.”
Keep your eyes fixed on Me.
In all His amazing goodness and glory and mercy, taught my heart a lesson through a simple children’s movie.
God has this awesome way of using the ordinary to change our perspective and help us to focus on the extraordinary~ because He is almighty God.
The same God Who parted the waters so many years ago,
the great I AM~~~that’s my Father!!!!
Please, ask Him to show you something ordinary today that will change your focus to the extraordinary.
Once you do, I can hear you even now, telling your husband, your children, your friends~
“And so God....”
“.....Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
MOMENTARILY MIXED UP MAMA
No one really told me exactly what to expect after having babies. It was all the rage in CT in the 80’s to go all natural. With my first pregnancy we went to the Lamaze classes, toured the hospital, read the books on natural child birth and bringing baby home~ but no one warned me about the hormones and how messed up I might feel inside afterward.
I ended up going the “all natural” route with our first until the last five minutes and even though the Doctor told me medication would take at least 20 minutes to kick in, I insisted. Three minutes later Jessica was born. So, my next baby was born with no medication whatsoever. First and last time I did that. Ohio had different views on labor and delivery. The doctors there were all about the epidural and being pain free (thank the Lord) so, I actually got to enjoy my last two deliveries. But~the hormones with each baby when I got back home~ that was another story, and I never talked to anyone about it. I held it all inside. I felt like a failure as a mom and a wife. Both sets of parents came all the way from MI to CT to visit after Jessica was born and I can remember feeling so confused inside that I wanted to hide in my tiny bedroom. I didn’t even confide in my own mother or husband. I cried about everything, things that made absolutely no sense at all. I cried when I cleaned house, I cried when the sun was shining, I cried when Jessica wouldn’t sleep and I cried when she was sleeping. I cried when Mike left for youth activities and I cried when I caught our little kitchen on fire because I forgot I was preheating oil to brown some stew meat in. I felt like I was in an out of body experience. My body was doing the motions of wife and mother but my brain was far away and scared. The thing is, I felt like I was crazy or losing my mind so I was too scared to talk about it and even if I did talk about it, I had no idea how to explain my feelings to anyone. I couldn’t even explain how I was feeling to myself. So I bottled it in and cried.
Things are so different today. Mothers are encouraged to talk about postpartum, to get help, to understand they aren’t crazy. As encouraging as it is to know that other mothers have been where you are, it’s still a very lonely and scary experience and it’s doubly hard because our husbands, our knights in shining armor, have no idea how to help us and probably think to themselves that their wife has lost her mind.
So what are we supposed to do? NOT what I did. One thing I have learned in the 32 years I have been married is that open communication is critical in your relationship. Two have become one. You are not alone. Talk to your husband even if you don’t know what to say~ tell him exactly that! Tell him you can’t even explain what’s going on in your head and you have no idea what he could do to help you except possibly listen, have compassion, hold you and allow you to cry without trying to fix you. Ask him to try to understand that you don’t even understand. The second thing I learned is~ don’t feel silly telling your Doctor what you are going through. God put doctors in our lives for a reason. They will not think you are crazy because it has been happening to mothers since the beginning of time. They are there to help you, so allow them to do just that. And most important~prayer is vital. When I thought I was crazy, the only thing that brought me comfort was the fact that I knew my Heavenly Father knew me even when I didn’t know myself and He was with me through all the tears and every mixed up feeling. When I didn’t even know what to ask for or how to pray, when the only words I could utter were “please help me”, my heart knew that my all knowing Savior would do exactly that.
Whether you are expecting and don’t know what to expect or you have just given birth to a little miracle yourself, take heart precious mama. Allow your husband, your Doctor and most importantly, your Savior to help you. God knew that only you would be the perfect wife and mother for your family when you were still in your own mother’s womb. Remember~you are exactly that~ a momentarily mixed up, gloriously grace covered, absolutely perfect and adored mama. 💕
I’m laying in the dark thinking about my babies, and their babies. It’s 3am. Another lovely, menopausal moment. Waking up from a deep sleep, in an anxious sweat, for no apparent reason. So I think about them all, tucked in bed. Almost as if I’m looking down from heaven, watching them sleep. At this moment I can choose one of two options. To worry about all the little stuff going on in their lives~and maybe the big stuff too. Or to pray. I choose option #1 too often. And then you know what I do? The next morning I complain about it to my husband. I tell him how I couldn’t sleep, and in despair I spout out all my worries. It might momentarily make me feel better to talk to him, but then those worries creep right back in as the day goes on. When my head hits the pillow that night, I’m like a hamster on a wheel. It’s a vicious cycle.
So tonight I choose option #2. To talk to God. Some of you might be thinking ‘I wouldn’t even know where to start or what to say to God’. Sometimes I don’t either. On nights when the ‘big stuff worries’ flood my mind, and my heart is so overwhelmed that all I can do is cry, I know Jesus hears me. He’s my Father, and I picture His arms holding me as the sobs shake my core. Other nights when the ‘small stuff worries’ invade my heart, I know Jesus hears me. He’s my Friend and I picture him sitting next to me, as I babble on and on and tell Him all about it. And some nights He’s my Counselor, and in the stillness of the black night I just need to be silent and listen to Him whisper to my heart and tell me what it needs to hear. Suddenly, verses will come to mind to comfort me or messages from the previous Sunday that remind me what I ought to do. God is so many things~ my Protector when I’m scared, my Provider when I don’t know what to do, my Comforter when I feel all alone, my Healer when my heart is hurting. My Everything.
And as I’m laying here at 3am talking to Him, millions of other people are also doing the same~pouring out their hearts~and He is right there for them as well. Their Everything. Because He’s Everything.
Don’t make the mistake of talking to everyone else about your problems, except Him. When worries flood your heart, whatever your need, just know that He can be your Everything too. There is no emptiness He cannot fill. No longing He cannot satisfy, no brokenness He cannot heal. Tonight, talk to your Everything. Father, Friend, Protector, Provider, Comforter, Counselor, Healer and Lover of your soul.
Philippians 4:6-7, I John 5:14-15,
I had a few big brother issues growing up. Typical things big brothers do. I will never forget the time he made little 4 year old Charisse get on the back of his bike with him. I begged not to ride along, but to no avail. Somehow within minutes, my small foot got caught in the spokes and I started crying hysterically. My brother stopped the bike in the middle of the street, laid it down with my ankle still tangled inside, and left me there. I couldn’t move, so I just cried. I’m not sure if a neighbor heard me or if someone just happened to finally look out their window and see me, but after what seemed like ages my dad came running out. When I got back in the house, my brother was in his room, oblivious to any wrong doing, playing with his GI Joes like nothing ever happened. I still have the scar on my ankle almost 50 years later.
Perhaps I wouldn’t have that little scar if my brother had gone to my dad immediately. Maybe he didn’t think about it. He was just a kid. Maybe I squirmed and wriggled too much in my hysteria, wishing and hoping my brother had told my daddy. I do remember that I felt very alone and scared in that moment.
There will be times in our loved ones lives where they feel very scared and alone. Times they will be in the middle of a situation that brings tears and maybe even hysteria. Times they desperately need to know that someone is going to their Father for them. Whether it’s our children or grandchildren, our parents or loved ones, our families or friends. Everyone needs prayer. Here’s the thing. We know we should be praying for them, but do we cry out for help until help comes, or do we just get so busy with our own lives that it never occurs to us throughout our day to bring our loved ones to Jesus? Do we offer up a quick daily prayer out of routine or do we run to our Father continuously on their behalf? How much do we really love them in comparison to the love we have for ourselves? We tend to be a selfish people. Sometimes even childish. It’s human nature. We “don’t have time” to spend with God, which in turn means we don’t have time to pray for others, and yet~ we find the time for the things we want to do. Without even realizing it we justify “our time” by telling ourselves we work so hard and we’re so busy that we deserve a little “me” time. All along our loved ones are crying in the middle of a mess and inwardly begging for help, but we are oblivious to the needs around us. We are selfish in stealing away moments we could be bringing others to the throne of God and asking for the love, help, guidance, peace and protection only He can give.
Maybe today you are looking into the precious, innocent face of a newborn~ free of scars that come with time. The moment that child was conceived was the moment they needed prayer. Prayer for their “now” and prayer for their future. A scary world lies ahead of them. Maybe you are looking into the face of a parent, a spouse or a sibling and the scars you see are deep and lasting. They desperately need prayer to ease the pain they are feeling. I’m so thankful for the moments in my own life that I was inwardly hurting, thinking that no one noticed, but someone looked out the window of their heart and saw me there and called on my Heavenly Father to help me.
Take some time today to put your own “GI Joes” down and talk to your Daddy. Realize the importance and run to your Father on your loved ones behalf. You might just be the one that can help prevent any scars or ease the pain of some that are already there. Time spent talking to the Savior won’t just change them, it will change you. The amount of love we have for others can be measured in the amount of time we bring them before the throne of our Almighty Maker. How much do you love?
I Thessalonians 5:17
Because my mom loved Christmas so much, the year after she passed away my family began the tradition of going to Frankenmuth together. We always choose a day close to the date she went home to Heaven. My husband and children, spouses and grandchildren, my brothers and dad~ all go to celebrate the start of the Christmas season and to remember my mom. We eat together and then walk around Bronners enjoying the beauty and magic of each decoration. I can guarantee that every year, without fail, my husband will question my sanity in choosing a date so close to Christmas. It is always completely chaotic at The Bavarian Inn and if it weren’t for our cell phones, we would surely lose each other in the crowds. This year was no exception and somehow in Bronners we all got separated. I suddenly found myself walking alone among the twinkling lights of their beautiful Christmas trees and wondering where everyone was. For a fleeting moment my thoughts sounded something like this... “my kids know this is my favorite time of year. Christmas. And it’s my birthday. And here I am, alone, with all these thoughts of missing my mom. Why aren’t they spending time with me?” But then I’d get a text or a snap chat or a picture and any negative thoughts were immediately pushed aside as love for my children overwhelmed my heart. I realized the logistics of the situation and my heart understood. When I look back on that moment, as a parent I can’t help but think of my Heavenly Father. We can get lost in the Christmas season, among the crowds and shopping, among the Christmas plays and parties, the cookie exchanges and present wrappings. At times we can feel our hearts become heavy with the busyness of it all and the forgetfulness of why we celebrate Christmas to begin with. And if it weren’t for our ability to call out to our Father, we would stay lost. I am so very thankful that my Heavenly Daddy understands all of this, and in the middle of the chaos He is not complaining about us neglecting thoughts of His Birthday. He knows that we haven’t forgotten His Son. He does not get angry that we aren’t spending endless amounts of time with Him each day~ because He loves us. Because He understands that we are only human~ because He became human for us. And just like my heart is overflowing when I get a loving text or picture from my own children, my Heavenly Father loves when He hears from us. We might not have hours to spend with Him each day but we do have tiny bits of time throughout each 24 Hour day that we can talk to Him, love on Him and listen for Him. And He understands. Tiny bits of time that twinkle like beautiful lights. Tiny pictures throughout each day that light up our hearts like the glow of our trees. Each one so small and yet~when they are all strung together give us incredible joy in the beholding. Each text and picture from our family day in Frankenmuth bring back beautiful memories of the meaning behind our time spent together, just like each tiny moment spent with the Savior will bring back memories of this beautiful season in our lives and remind us what Christmas is really all about.
It was like a Hallmark Christmas movie. Quiet and magical, peaceful and beautiful and I wanted to capture it and hold on to that moment forever. The kids were nestled all snug in their beds, while visions of sugar plums... Yes, it was Christmas Eve and our tiny little town appeared to be fast asleep. Almost Christmas. Almost midnight. But my sweet children had been praying for there to be snow on Christmas Day the entire month of December, and I knew I had to share this moment with them. I’m not sure if they were really asleep yet, or just faking it because it was, after all Christmas Eve. I think every parent threatens their children that if they don’t go to sleep on Christmas Eve, “there will be no presents under the tree in the morning”. Not wanting to startle them I left the lights dim but couldn’t hide my excitement. “Kids!!” I whispered loudly, “It’s snowing!!” Michael jumped out of bed first and ran to the stairwell window, looking at the beautiful blanket of white. “God answered our prayers!! He whispered in awe. “Who wants to go for a walk with me?” I asked.
I know. I’m crazy. Yes, we all bundled up at midnight on Christmas Eve and softly trod down our street with our dog Mandy by our side. It was completely covered in pure white snow. Every branch was a sparkling white canopy that hung over our road. There was no traffic. No noise and no lights. Only the beautiful path the moon gave on that street that night. It was as if we were in a magical, Christmas snow globe. The kids were quiet the entire walk. Almost reluctant to take a step in the beautiful whiteness that surrounded them. Later as I was tucking them back in bed, Michael whispered “I’m so glad God answered our prayers”.
No matter what your situation might be, no matter how big, no matter how small, teach your children to bring it to God. To pray about every single thing in their lives, even the things we might feel are silly, are never silly to God. Sometimes we might feel that the things our children pray for are trivial but if we don’t teach them to go to God for the little things, when the time comes they won’t know to go to God for the big things. They will feel lost and alone, scared and uncertain. Without even realizing it they will seek help from everyone but their Heavenly Father. And He’s the only One that can truly answer. I’m not sure my kids can even remember the gifts they got that year that were under the tree the next morning, but I’m sure they will never forget our midnight walk and how miraculously God answered their prayers and I pray that moment will be like a little snow globe tucked away on the shelf of their hearts, constantly reminding them how anything is possible with God. ❄️❤️
I’ve always been a Christmas fanatic. My parents made Christmas completely magical for us as kids. I could not wait for the big Sears or JCPenny catalog to come in the mail. My brothers and I would pour over that book every spare second we had until it’s pages were worn and crinkled and it’s cover was missing. I would make my wish list, writing and rewriting like it was a novel going to the publisher. And then I would anticipate Christmas morning and dream of the toys placed playfully under the tree. Apparently the excitement was contagious, my parents seemed to catch it every year as well. Knowing smiles on their faces, Christmas records playing and Christmas cookies baking. What I thought was exciting when I was a child did not compare to the excitement I had after having children. Christmas giving took on a whole new meaning and I finally understood the smiles my parents had. It was because of the love that filled their hearts for their children. It was because they were able to give us things we asked for and even though they received nothing in return, it meant everything to them to see us so happy on Christmas morning. There is nothing that compares to that feeling~ being able to give to your children. My outlook changed. I wasn’t that child dreaming of all I would get. It wasn’t all about me anymore and my heart realized with great thankfulness how special my parents made Christmas for me when I was a child.
Sometimes we can be like children when it comes to our Heavenly Father. Our prayer lives consist of continually asking for things....”Please help me with this, please help me with that” or “please answer my prayers”. We don’t ever take the time to just thank Him for all He has given us, it’s all about what we can get. We pour over His word only because we are looking for something to make us feel better, to make our lives easier and not out of love for Him. And God our Father blesses our unthankful hearts over and over again. He continually receives nothing in return yet expects nothing in return. Because He loves us so very much. Because He wants us to be happy. Perhaps this year as we look ahead to Christmas, a lesson can be learned in our childish hearts. To stop and thank Him regularly for His continued goodness on our lives. To love Him so much that we want to give Him our everything in return. To have a countenance that’s contagious this Christmas, a knowing smile due to a thankful heart. And then a desire to give to others, as He has given to us.
I Chronicles 16:34 Proverbs 15:13a
Have you ever heard the song~ “Looking For Love In All The Wrong Places”?.....
In the 80’s, we lived in a small, ranch style home from my 6th grade year through college~ you know~ the formative, boy crazy years, at least for me. My mom had this neat, strategically placed desk in the central room of that home. Easy access, because on that desk was our telephone. Not a cell phone. An old school, rotary dial, cord attached telephone. I used to live for the sound of that phone. Dreamily laying on the floor listening to “Just You and I”, anticipating the excitement of the ring. It was always the same~ me talking to my boyfriend, my brother yelling at me to get off so he could use it or my dad saying~ “someone might be trying to call, you’ve been on there long enough”. It had a super long, spiral cord attached to the receiver and I would stretch it around the corner and down the hall as far as I could in order to have more privacy. But then, that boy broke my heart. Laying on the floor listening to “I’m all out of love, I’m so lost without you”, the phone would ring and, knowing it wasn’t for me, I just cried harder. Of course this happened more than once during the years we lived in that house. Always excited for the call or sad over the lack of one, until I got a call from a certain boy. THE CALL that ended all the other calls but was the beginning of a lifetime of love that only gets stronger and stronger every day.
Just like that skinny, insecure, adolescent girl looking for love, there are times even now that she resurfaces. Not with boys, but with other things that call out to me. When I’m having a bad day or week or even month, there are times that my flesh looks for love and comfort everywhere except for “The Where” I should be looking. I’m a junk food junkie from way back and there are times (too many to count) I reach for food to comfort me. Or I drown my sorrows on binge TV and try to get lost in a show to remove my mind from my present state. There are times I sit and scroll. And scroll. And scroll. And after an hour of pinning too many decadent dessert recipes or house interiors I wish were mine or hair ideas, exercise routines and articles on being a better wife or mother, I don’t feel any better. I don’t feel better after the comfort food or the TV shows either. Maybe in the moment I do, after the first three or four Mallo Cups or an entire bag of Lays potato chips, but when that moment is gone, so is the feeling. And I’m still sad. And my Father is saying, “get off of all that. I’m calling out to you but I can’t get through because you are looking for love in all the wrong places”. Why does it take me so long to realize it’s THE CALL? The one that changes everything. And if I’ll just go down the hall and get alone with Him on a daily basis, His love only grows stronger and stronger. It’s life changing and the more time I spend with Him, the more I realize how silly I was to convince myself that these other things could ever answer my heart’s call.
My friend, the only One that can fill your heart’s void is your Heavenly Father. There is nothing this world has to offer that can replace Him. Answer that call today. His call. The excitement and anticipation of talking to your Savior cannot compare to anything else. I guarantee “Just You and I” will take on a whole new meaning and your life will forever be changed.
Amy was my best friend. Not just my sister in law, my best friend. Back when we didn't have cell phones and couldn't afford long distance phone calls, we emailed each other daily. Every night after the kids were asleep~the laundry and dishes all done and the house quiet, my thoughts to myself~I would get on our huge computer with dial up Internet and read Amy's email. It was our way of talking and sharing. Laughing and crying. Loving, and holding on to memories. The first night returning home from her funeral, after the kids were asleep and the house was quiet, I looked at that big, old, dial up computer and just cried. I cried and cried and cried. Even though Mike was there, a part of me felt all alone. I miss talking to Amy every single day. For some reason the other night~after the house was quiet and my thoughts were again my own~God showed me how busy my life had been and how I hadn't spent much time talking with Him, my best friend, like I should. He reminded my heart of how it felt when I could no longer talk to Amy and how much I missed it. And I realized how much He missed me. How can we get so caught up in our day to day activities that we miss out on talking to our best friend? But we do. We don't read His words. We don't talk or share. We don't laugh or cry or love. We just get busier and trudge on until pretty soon we feel all alone. Would I set my alarm at 5:30am just to have the chance to talk to Amy again? You better believe it. So why can't I with God? There is no reason. And the crazy thing is, when I do spend time talking to Him it feels like the weight of the world has been lifted and His joy and peace are always present. I can't talk to Amy anymore, but God has given me an amazing gift. Amy's son Tyler moved in with us this past year and I get to talk to him every day. He's so much a part of Amy. A day doesn't go by that I don't think of how proud she must be of him, and I'm so thankful. And I'm so thankful to God, my best friend, for giving me the gift of His Son, who died for me so that I can have that relationship with Him. He's always there to talk to. WE GET TO TALK TO GOD'S SON. Can we just wrap our minds around that? Once we do, our lives will change and we won't ever feel alone again.