We always hid Easter baskets for our kids when they were little. They absolutely loved finding those baskets, even when it got too hard and they were prompted with the timeless hints of “hot” and “cold”.
Why did they love it so much?
They were expecting a basket full of joy because of all it held inside.
What are we expecting?
Sadly, many of us have grown cold.
We have gotten farther and farther away from the joy that comes in the expected. And in the coldness, time spent with God has become a duty.
Church should never be just a duty.
It’s not a job where you clock in and clock out.
It’s not a “Christmas and Easter only” facility, yet that’s how many of us view it.
What are we expecting when we walk through the doors?
Are we expecting God’s presence to wash over us as we sing to Him?
As we hear His words, are we expecting those words to change our heart and soul?
Are we expecting those words to bring life?
Or, do we simply attend expecting nothing at all and leave with the same emptiness we had before we came?
Clock in. Clock out.
Three days after Christ was crucified a heartbroken Mary went to His tomb.
What was she expecting? She wasn’t expecting emptiness, yet that’s what she found.
She found emptiness because she wasn’t searching for life.
Mary could have left that day with a continued emptiness. With a heavy sorrow.
What was different?
Unlike so many of us, in her emptiness Mary realized how desperately she needed the Savior and it was in that moment that He revealed Himself to her by simply saying her name. Mary.
And she knew. He was alive.
His presence washed over her and her heart was changed. The tomb was empty but her heart was full.
Life can get hard, but it doesn’t have to be. God is always prompting us to draw closer. We don’t have to remain cold.
Just like a child searching for and expecting to find a basket full of joy, let me encourage you to expect the unexpected this Easter.
What can make the difference? Search for life. The difference comes in the expecting.
An empty tomb. A risen Savior.A life changed. A heart full.
A basket full of joy because of all it holds inside.
What are you expecting?
Whatever you are looking for is what you will find~and everything you’re looking for can be found in Christ.
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.
How does this happen?
This little “blue” light that seems to continually lure me in.
I constantly find myself repentant for becoming so easily distracted with it. I find myself sorry for this compulsive need to check and eliminate notifications and~
Not my need for Him.
I make excuses.
I read devotionals and Bible apps.
I “like” scripture based posts and quotes.
I listen to biblical podcasts.
Deep down I know, they could never take the place of that old book.
His words. Sitting on the chair in my room.
It will never be the same as speaking to Him in humble gratitude upon my knees.
I make excuses.
I’m writing for Him.
I’m posting Godly encouragement.
All the while~
preaching the good while missing the best.
Time away from that little “blue” light.
Time spent reading the ONLY light. (Psalm 119:105)
I make excuses.
My love for my country. My causes. My beliefs.
I need to stay informed.
He whispers to my fearful heart.
His wisdom is the wisdom I should long for.
His wisdom will make me wise.
His wisdom has been passed on from generation to generation.
This is my weakness. One of so many.
It may not be yours. You might not understand how certain things I write about can weaken my soul. How I can allow it to creep in and steal away the most important moments of my day. Those quiet moments with God.
It is a battle.
It’s a battle I see all around me on a daily basis.
Heads bowed to a little “blue” screen. Everywhere.
Listen to my words and let me be clear, even if this is not your own personal battle, you ARE IN A BATTLE. Satan knows what your weakness is and if you aren’t prepared, you will lose the fight before you ever pick up a weapon.
The weapons of our warfare are not physical. They are spiritual.
(2 Corinthians 10:4). God’s word is your sword. Prayer is your preparation. Your local church is your army, this world is the battlefield and your God is mighty!
Sadly, we are losing the battle without even realizing it because we have allowed these little weaknesses to creep in. We have allowed them to permeate our lives and the lives of our children.
That “blue” light? That’s just one of the many things that appears so innocent, yet destroys without a second thought. This world has conditioned our hearts to feel uncomfortable with the words I’m writing today. This world is whispering to your armorless soul that I am being just a bit overkill. Taking this Jesus thing a little too far.
That is a lie.
I am in the fight.
And so are you.
Our minds are continually bombarded by information through social media. (John 8:44-47). We get fearful. We get angry and defensive, or maybe even passive because we have become immune to it all. (Matthew 5:44-48, Psalm 119:51, 53). We have allowed these things to blind us to what this battle is all about. It is a battle for souls and Satan is using his own sly weapons to distract us from that truth.
Jesus is what it’s about. His gospel of peace.
Jesus who died on the cross for the sins of all mankind. Jesus who loves us despite every weakness we allow to creep in. Jesus who will fight for us and redeem us from an eternity in hell. Jesus who loves fiercely and yet, has a tender compassion on our sin cursed souls. (Psalm 145:8-9).
Put on your armor sweet sister. Sweet wife. Sweet mama. Put on that armor and fight for the souls of mankind. Put down the phone and tablet, turn off the TV and make time to saturate your soul with God’s word. (Psalm 119:104) With God’s wisdom, truth and righteousness. Speak to the God who formed all of mankind and beg Him to fight for you and your families. (Exodus 14:14). Get into your local churches and feed on the message from God each week.
Yes, this may seem counterintuitive for me to be singing my little fight song from the very instrument I’m telling you to put away. Friend~if my message can motivate you to put down the nonsense and pick up God’s word, then you fight with your everything to do just that.
My fight begins with prayer, because I know I am too weak on my own. My fight continues with boundaries. (Psalm 119:59-60). I will not pick up this phone before picking up God’s word. I won’t even read His words from any “blue” light, because that light can so easily distract. I will turn off notifications. I will keep my phone in another room and I will continually beg God to keep my eyes on what this battle is all about.
Jesus and the very reason He came to this earth.
The battle is for souls.
And that will be my fight song until the day I take my final breath.
She sat in catechism and listened to the story she had heard every year on Jesus birthday. The story of a Savior being born to save His people from their sins. Her eyes wandered to the Christmas tree and it’s beautiful twinkling lights. As her teacher spoke her eyes gazed upward to the star on top of the tree and then down, down to the manger where the little baby lay. In that moment, it was almost as if the words of that familiar story came alive.
God came down.
Down to earth from heaven for me. I was beginning to grasp the significance of a religious story I had heard my entire childhood…
And today, I cannot help but think of another little girl. Sitting in a synagogue on the Sabbath, hearing a story of the promised birth of a Savior who would one day save her people. A story that had been told for over 4,000 years. A promise she had been taught her entire life, having no idea the significant role she would have in that promise.
We know the story. That story of Christmas. That story of Jesus. We rejoice this time of year. We thank God for sending us such a gift. But to some~ it’s just a religious aspect of Christmas. A story. Have we truly grasped it’s meaning?
Even though Mary had been taught the scriptures, (Isaiah 7:14) she did not grasp the truth of what she had been taught. When the angel Gabriel told her that she would be the one to carry the Messiah, her simple words~”How can this be?” reveal this truth. Thousands of people have read her very words and know the significant miracle of that moment, because we have read the last chapter. Mary did not and yet, she received it. Despite an unknown future, she put her faith and hope completely in God. When Gabriel explained the very scriptures she probably knew by heart, she believed the words spoken to her.
And that moment changed her entire life.
I am sure as the months went on, the significance of Who she carried so close to her heart became even more real. I am sure she wanted to tell everyone in her little town that the coming Savior was alive inside her, and I am sure that no one believed her. We know this because we have read the story. Mary and Joseph traveled alone to Bethlehem when she was 9 months pregnant. No room in the inn despite the fact that everyone (including family and friends) was required to go there to be taxed.
Maybe they rolled their eyes when she spoke of the One she carried so close to her heart.
Maybe they thought- ‘She’s taking this Jesus thing a little too far.’
Or maybe they were kinder in their reasoning. Perhaps they thought that this whole “Savior thing” might be what SHE believed, but it wasn’t for the them.
It must have been incredibly hard for Mary to hold such a Miracle inside. I am sure she wanted to tell everyone that everything they had been taught from scripture was coming true, and yet no one believed the truth in her words.
Pondering the thoughts of Mary brings me to thoughts of my own little town. It’s very easy for me to sit down and write something for hundreds to read~ ladies I will probably never meet. It’s very easy for me to hide behind a social media screen and be brave in the words that I pen; but actually stepping out of my front door and telling that story to my little hometown is something entirely different.
My town. There’s a comfort in those words. I love my tiny little town so much. And I wonder~ what do they think about the words that I write? Do they look at me and think~ ‘she’s taking this Jesus thing a little too far.’?
Or maybe they reason~’that religion thing might be okay for HER, but it’s not for ME.’
Maybe the story of Christmas Day is one they have heard in church their entire life, but for them it has never come alive in their own heart and soul. A day but not a Deliverer.
We can be taught “religion” our entire lives and still not fully grasp the truth of Christ. We can have a basic concept of church and the meaning of Christmas, but not have His new life living inside of us.
I’m not here to tell you that once you receive The Gift of Jesus life magically becomes better. Heartache has hit home for me time after time. Health issues have been prevalent. No, life doesn’t magically get better, but I know Christ is right there with me through everything. I am never alone. He has given me strength when I couldn’t stand and joy when heartache was all too prevalent. And despite an unknown future, peace and hope in Him.
A peace and hope He longs to give all of mankind, if we will put our faith in Him.
Do I take this Jesus thing too far? Perhaps some might think so, but can I tell you that in my heart of hearts, I can never take it far enough because Jesus took his love so far for me. His love reached down from glorious heaven to a sin cursed world. Without His love there would be no hope of heaven, because there would be no forgiveness of sins. His love went from heaven to earth, from a manger to the cross~
For me. For you.
That magnificent love took our sins as far as the east is from the west, farther than our finite minds can ever comprehend.
“For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.”
2 Corinthians 8:9
“As far as the east is from the west, So far hath he removed our transgressions from us.”
The knowledge of this changed my entire life. But it wasn’t just the knowledge, it was the very fact that Jesus is alive and that love lives inside of me.
My heart longs for you to understand these tidings of great joy. The greatest joy. My heart longs for you to receive His gift this Christmas. Not the gift of religion, the gift of God. Forgiveness of sins, a home in heaven, a Savior with you always, through everything.
The only Gift that will change your entire life.
“Then was our mouth filled with laughter, And our tongue with singing…The LORD hath done great things for us; Whereof we are glad.”
I wore my mom’s wedding dress when I got married.
I can remember staring at her wedding picture as a child and thinking she looked like a fairy tale Princess. I always thought it was so beautiful and elegant. I had a Christmas wedding complete with fur muffs, Christmas trees and Christmas carols. It was such a fun day.
When my daughters were ready to pick out their own wedding dresses, it never really bothered me that they didn’t want to carry on a tradition of wearing my mom’s dress. On their wedding day they took a new name because they were beginning a new life, one that would start with the dress of their choosing.
I thought about that wedding dress this week. I thought about my parents and how they raised me. I thought about the traditions we shared and the comfort those memories brought. And I thought about all the ways God continues to bring up the concept of “comfort zones” in my daily life. This week it came up in an area that I never really thought about before, that of traditions.
There is comfort in traditions.
I am a traditional girl, a creature of habit. I am the kind of person who would have no problem eating the same thing for breakfast and lunch every single day for the rest of my life. I find a level of comfort in monotony.
Here’s the thing~Satan knows that. For me, when week after week goes by where that routine is constantly being interrupted, I can easily feel like my life is spinning out of control.
We all have our “areas”. Satan knows where our comforts lie. He knows our personalities and what would disrupt our lives and make us unhappy. He also knows what gives us a false sense of security and comfort. He knows how important traditions are to humans and without us even realizing it, he uses that against us.
Here’s the crazy thing~
One of the biggest areas Satan uses to trick our souls is a tradition many of us think of as good and needful. Our religion.
I’m going to make a bold and somewhat scary statement here~
He WANTS us to be religious.
He makes us believe that our traditional upbringing and bond is so strong, we could not nor should not ever change~ even if we know deep in our hearts that something is missing and that our upbringing might not be teaching the truth of God’s word.
We end up choosing comfort.
That routine that makes us feel secure.
I am not here to promote one religion over another. I am here to promote Jesus. I am here to promote God’s word. I am here to challenge you to open the Bible and find out why you believe what you believe and based on the truths in scripture, decide whether the tradition you have stayed with for so long truly lines up with what God says in His word. John 5:39-44
The devil will be more than happy to make sure you never open your Bible. He’s more than happy to make sure you stay stuck in a tradition that is not truth. He’s more than happy to lie to you and tell you you’re good, don’t worry about it. Colossians 2:8, Mark 7:7-13
But we aren’t. We aren’t good. Romans 3:23
Satan wants you to be religious because often the people who are the most religious don’t have a relationship with God, God the Son Who took all the sins of mankind on Himself and died for you on the cross. Romans 5:8 The basis of their entire religious experience is tradition and trying to be good enough to someday enter heaven.
My heart yearns to tell you that there is SO MUCH MORE. You can have a real relationship with the Son of God. You can know Him personally. You can talk to Him any time and anywhere. Hebrews 4:14-16 He can be your most trusted, intimate friend. A true friend. A real friend.
The ONLY mediator between you and God is His Son Jesus. Not a man, not a reverend, not a preacher, pastor or priest.
I Timothy 2:5, I John 2:1-2
Just Jesus. He can be your comfort.
All the comfort and security you would ever need. John 14:26
Today I urge you~ please don’t remain stuck in traditions. You may think it’s your comfort zone but it’s not a lasting comfort. It’s not a comfort for eternity.
I love my mom’s wedding dress. The memory of me wearing it is even more precious to me now because my mom is in heaven. That’s the comfort I’m talking about. Without a single doubt, the knowledge and security of a home in heaven one day. John 14:1-6 Not because of tradition, not because of religion but because of the love of Jesus. Jesus, Who took away my sins on the cross. and forgave me. Romans 3:24-25, 6:23, John 3:16, 2 Corinthians 5:21
Just Jesus ladies~
and the new life that HE can and will give you the day you call on His name. Jeremiah 33:3, 2 Corinthians 5:17
My kids got me a great gift for Mother’s Day. It’s called StoryWorth.
Every Monday a new question is emailed to me. The questions are always unique. Something to do with my life, my childhood, my marriage or even my personality. I can add pictures to each reply, and at the end of the year it will all be published in a wonderful book.
I loved this idea and found myself wishing I had a keepsake of memories like this from my own parents and grandparents.
That got me thinking about Memorial Day.
A day we set aside to remember all those who have given their lives for our freedom and our country. What a legacy these brave men and women leave behind and what thankfulness we should embody as we remember the sacrifices they made.
And that got me thinking about the legacy and the memories you and I will someday leave behind.
Will it be a story worth telling? A story worth cherishing? As we add to our story every minute of every day, as we hold pictures in the memories of our hearts or add them to the hearts of those we love, will it be a story we want remembered by our loved ones and friends?
As I thought about what I might be writing about every week, I have to admit I did not think I had a story worth telling. Nothing phenomenal has happened in my life. I have done no great thing to be remembered. I’m a normal girl who grew up to be a normal wife, a normal mom, a normal grandma. The end.
But God told me something different.
He showed me that my story~
and yours~ are the most beautiful stories ever written. Not because they are about us, but because they are about Christ in us.
That beauty and glory needs to be shared.
If you are a child of God, your story is much like mine~
The Book of Life
Wretched, Lost and Sinful~
Hopeless, Condemned and Alone
Repentant, Redeemed and Rescued
Found, Forgiven and Free
Adopted, Atoned, Covered,
Thankful and Worthy
Nothing can or ever will separate me from that love. (Romans 8:35-39)
You see, when you become a child of God it’s not your story anymore. It’s Jesus story in you. It’s a story my heart yearns for you to know.
All the wonderful memories mixed in, all the sad situations and joyful expectations, all the amazing wonder of every day of your life is the story God wrote and will finish for you. (Hebrews 12:2). Until you see Him in glory, He is still writing. He’s adding beauty to ashes (Isaiah 61:3) and giving hope to the hopeless. (Romans 15:13) He’s sending comfort to the broken (John 14:18) and peace where you thought it could never be found.(Philippians 4:7) He is conquering every set back (Romans 8:37) and bringing victory to every battle. (Exodus 14:14) He’s adding every period and exclamation mark. He is your beginning and your ending. (Revelation 1:8)
He is the ultimate Happily Ever After. (Zephaniah 3:17, Revelation 21:3-7, 22-27)
What is your story worth?
It’s worth everything.
Don’t ever hide it or think otherwise.
Jesus thought your story was worth His very life.
I was wrong in my thinking that nothing phenomenal has ever happened to me. Chapter 2.
He is beyond phenomenal, and if you haven’t met Him yet, I’d love to tell you all about Him.
If you have met Him, you have a legacy to share. A memorial for generations to come.
The beautiful story of redemption, forgiveness and love. Make every moment of every chapter a reflection of that glory.
Yes sweet friend, your story is worth sharing!!!
II Thessalonians 1:5, 11, Acts 5:41, Amos 9:6
Whoever finds a palm tree first gets a pickle...
I don’t know where my granddaughter Clara came up with this game, but we all started laughing. Five grandkids in the back of our vehicle, only minutes away from our vacation destination. The excitement could not be contained.
It got me thinking about Palm Sunday and the excitement Easter holds, and I couldn’t help but think of the verse~ “eye hath not seen, nor ear heard... the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him.”
I Corinthians 2:9
Do you know what I like about Palm Sunday? Despite knowing the future anguish Christ would endure for all of mankind, God did not stop there. We can praise God for the promise of Easter and the knowledge that one day in heaven we will have eternity to shout Hosanna! So today, I’d like to share with you a place, a problem, a Person and a promise.
I’d like to tell you about a place.
It’s a place that isn’t popular to talk about in this “feel good” generation, when so many are scared to even go out of their homes, and just want to escape into the unreality of television and social media. It’s a place whose destination has been joked about, and even bragged about at times. It’s a place called hell. It isn’t great material for jokes,
it’s a horrifying place of fire and darkness.
It’s real and it’s eternal. (1)
It’s a destination for all sinners. There will be no so social gatherings there.
There will be no parties or camaraderie.
Only torment and pain. (2)
The cost of our sin. (3)
I’d like to tell you about a problem.
The problem that lies within each and every one of us. A problem we are all born with, myself included. (4) That problem is sin. From murdering to the little white lie, sin is sin. None of us are sinless. I am as much a sinner as the murderer on death row or the sweet, little old lady down the street. (5) Being a pastor’s wife does not make me exempt.
No one is exempt. There is nothing we can do, no good deeds we can accomplish, no church we can attend, no charity we can give to that can take away that sin. (6)
And because of the depravity of our sinful hearts, the punishment for that sin is separation from God and eternity in hell. (7)
I’d like to tell you about a Person.
The only sinless Person Who took all our sins upon Himself so that we would not have to face that punishment. That Person isn’t me. It isn’t my pastor husband. It isn’t the priest or the preacher down the street.
That Person is Jesus. (8)
Born in a manger, He took the form of a human baby for the love of a people who don’t deserve it, but desperately need it. (9) Jesus Who, with joy endured the brutal beating and death on a cross to save our wicked souls from eternity in hell. (10) Jesus Who rose again from that death and sits on the right hand of God the Father, making intercession for us, praying for us even now. (11) That person Who we owe everything to.
That person is inviting you to a promise. (12)
I’d like to tell you about that promise.
To have faith in that belief that Jesus took your sins upon Himself on that cross. (13)
To joyfully except His invitation by repenting and turning away from the blindness sin has caused (14) in allowing you to somehow be fooled into thinking that hell isn’t that bad, and heaven isn’t that good, and Jesus death was just a bible story for little kids in Sunday school. The lie that the Bible and church is for religious people or fanatics and that you’ll be just fine, because you aren’t that bad a person. You’re actually pretty good.
There is nothing good about us. (15)
Our hearts need the grace only Jesus can give. (16) Our hearts need the faithful believing that His shed blood on that cross washes away sins. (17) Our hearts need sorrow for that sin and repentance. Our hearts need Jesus. (18)
And once we have Jesus, He promises us that we are forever His child. Nothing will ever separate us from Him. He promises us a home in heaven when we leave this earth. He promises to never leave us or forsake us. He promises to be with us always. (19)
A palm tree and a pickle. A place, a problem, a Person and a beautiful promise. Are you excited about your destination after death? We have hope in the Person and His promise. Freedom from the fear of death. (20)
The hope of heaven and not hell, but so much more that that~
The hope that we get God.
We get Jesus.
Our Father, our Friend, our forgiveness.
We get a love beyond anything our human hearts have ever, or could ever comprehend. (21)
Yes, there is a place and a problem, but there is a Person with a Promise. And that embodies peace. (22)
(1) Psalm 11:6
(2) Luke 16:22-31
(3) Romans 6:23 (4) Romans 5:12
(5) Romans 3:23 Revelation 21:8
(6) Ephesians 2:8-9
(7) Romans 5:10 (8) I John 2:2, 4:9-10
(9) Philippians 2:7 (10) Hebrews 12:2
(11) Romans 8:34 (12) Revelation 3:20
(13) I Peter 2:24 (14) 2 Corinthians 4:4
(15) Romans 7:18 (16) Romans 5:15
(17)I John 1:7-9 (18) 2 Corinthians 7:9-10
(19) Hebrews 13:5 Matthew 28:20
(20) I John 4:18 Hebrews 2:14-15
(21) Ephesians 3:16-19
(22) Philippians 4:7
“I will praise thee, O Lord my God, with all my heart: and I will glorify thy name for evermore. For great is thy mercy toward me: and thou hast delivered my soul from the lowest hell.”
The morning sun shimmered across a blanket of heavy snow.
It was breathtaking. Each crystal captured a single ray of sunshine and turned the world into diamonds.
Andrea’s feet touched the cold floor as she slipped out of bed, her sisters still fast asleep. She tiptoed into Michael’s room and they quietly made their way downstairs. They didn’t want to wake up dad. This was something they wanted to do on their own.
Moments later, adorned with coats and scarves, boots and mittens, they quietly stepped outside. The chill took their breath away, but it didn’t matter. The excitement they held warmed them from head to toe.
“Stay behind me,” Andrea cautioned. “Step into my footprints as I walk so we don’t mess up the pretty snow.” The weight of what she was carrying made the journey more difficult, but she was determined. Michael followed close behind, carefully stepping into each footprint her tiny boots made. Finally they made it to the road. “Dad will be so happy we did this for him” Michael said, but just as the words left his mouth a truck pulled up. The man rolled down his window and said “Hey kids! No trash pick up today! It’s Christmas Eve. Let your dad take care of that after Christmas”
All the worry of keeping the snow as perfect as possible. All the worry of trying to make their father pleased.
All for naught.
Some of you might be more like my children than you realize. You try so hard. You try to obey God’s words, carefully stepping into each rule you think is necessary to get you into heaven. Working so hard to be good and to receive the acceptance of your Father. Taking step by step, commandment by commandment.
And yet, despite all your striving, there you stand~somehow still holding the garbage of sin that makes you feel unworthy. Wishing your heart was empty of it, yet feeling the weight as it gets heavier and heavier every day. Wondering if you will ever be good enough. Wondering if God will be pleased with you.
My friend, all our works at trying harder are for naught, because no matter what we do, how hard we try, how we work to make our hearts as white as snow~
we will still be left holding our sin. Just like my children were left holding our garbage.
The good news is~ that’s not the end of the story.
On the very first Christmas Eve our world was in darkness. Up until that day we were left holding our sin with no one to take it from us. But on Christmas...
He broke through that darkness.
The God Who created the universe took on the form of a newborn baby.
He was born for you and for me. He was born to take away the sins of the world.
My friend~ He wants you to hand Him the weight of your heaviness, the burden of your sin. He wants to cleanse your heart and empty it of every heartache and disappointment, of everything you’ve been trying so hard to fix and then he wants to fill that emptiness with Himself.
You don’t have to hold that burden anymore. That’s the gift of Christmas.
No more trying for perfection and failing. He doesn’t want perfection.
He just wants us.
The very next morning~on Christmas Day, Christmas Eve snow covered up the empty prints my children had left. They were filled with beautiful new snow. No trash on the curb, no more emptiness in the path they had trod. Only beauty. The beauty of the gift of Christmas.
Turn and look at the footprints you’ve been trying so hard to stay inside. If we could ever be that perfect, there would be no need for Christmas at all. There would be no reason for Christ to be born. He was born for one reason. To die on the cross for our sins. For all the things we think we can somehow clean up ourselves. Hand Him your heart that’s holding on to all the garbage that’s crippling you. Hear His words this Christmas season as He whispers into your emptiness~
”Stop trying so hard to pick up your trash my child. Its Christmas! Let your Father take care of that. It’s the reason I was born so long ago.
Give it all to Me~
believe in Me and I will wash you whiter than snow”.
Psalm51:7, Isaiah 1:18
The kitten’s little body was beyond repair. We lived on a farm.
Accidents on a farm weren’t new to me, but this time was different. This kitten was mine. She was a fluffy ball of soft black comfort and she fit perfectly in my small hands.
My dad told me she wasn’t going to make it. There was nothing that could be done for her. Her tiny body was broken beyond repair. I begged my dad to wait one more day before putting her to sleep.
That night little Charisse knelt in her bedroom next to the picture of Blessed Mary. I held my rosary in my hands and I begged God to heal my little kitten.
The next morning nothing had changed. I knew my dad wouldn’t be home until much later, so I prayed some more.
I can vividly remember recalling a conversation my aunt had with my parents just the week before. She had started going to a new church and she was excited about it. I didn’t really understand what she was talking about, but I remembered her telling my parents that we needed to pray “in Jesus name”. My little mind thought perhaps this was the answer. I would ask God to save my kitten then add the words “in Jesus name”.
I walked through our apple orchard all day long praying over and over again that my kitty would be saved “in Jesus name”.
When my dad’s car pulled in that afternoon I was sure my magic prayers had worked. I ran to meet him and we walked into the barn to check on my kitten. She wasn’t any different and even though I was only 9, I knew she needed to be released from her pain.
I wept uncontrollably.
I think I cried for a week.
The pain of that moment felt so deep to my young heart.
At the time I didn’t realize that my internal fears and heartache were manifesting themselves in other areas of my life. My parents had been arguing for months and deep down I was scared. When I lost my kitty all the emotions bottled up in my young heart came pouring out.
I was broken and the only thing that would truly heal my brokenness was literally the name of Jesus, I just didn’t understand that at the time.
I was the one who needed saving.
I viewed God like a genie.
Ask what I want and get my wish.
And surely if I added “in Jesus name” the magic would happen.
When I look back at the circumstances now, I realize I was terrified. I was lonely. I was afraid of a future that looked different. I didn’t understand that even if my kitty was miraculously healed, even if my parents did get back together. My heart would still feel that lonely emptiness and the only One Who could fill it was Jesus.
We women are emotional creatures. When something is burrowed deep down in the recesses of our hurting hearts it boils to the surface manifesting itself in every area of our lives. We either become angry or bitter, sad, depressed or even mean. We snap at little things or cry over an innocent comment. We don’t dig to see what’s truly wrong because we don’t want to face that darkness.
What is weighing your heart down today my friend? How have your emotional reactions been? Does your heart feel empty? Do you feel alone or scared, stressed or anxious?
Can I tell you something? Jesus is the answer to all of the above. Jesus name is the answer to your brokenness.
Maybe you are scared about an unknown future or a situation that seems hopeless. Perhaps you’ve never received the gift of Jesus and have not experienced His presence in your life or perhaps you have, but you’ve buried His comfort and goodness deep down under piles of heartache and forgotten that there is power in His name.
He is your answer.
He has never left you, but you’ve forgotten His peace that passes all understanding.
Just a few years later I heard the beautiful story from God’s word of how He sent His only Son to die for me. For my sins. My heart was pricked. What a Love was this!! I knelt down that day and repented. I spoke His name. I asked Him to be my Savior. My brokenness was mended, my fears were gone and His comfort wrapped around me with a peace I never knew existed. He wasn’t just some magic God that answered prayers like a genie. He was my Father, my Savior, and my eternal Friend.
His beautiful name truly saved me from my brokenness. He forgave me of every sin~past and present and I knew that He was all I would ever need no matter what my future held.
Check your heart sweet sister. Dig deep. Is Jesus there? Have you forgotten His love, joy and peace and buried it deep beneath the heartache and hurt, stress and anxiety or fear and anger you are feeling? Do you need to be released from your pain? Go down into that darkness and let His light shine all over that mess.
Speak His name.
That beautiful name.
Allow Him to save you from your brokenness~ forever,
just speak His name.
Do you think you are stronger than Jesus or more powerful than God?
The majority of people reading this would laugh and say no.
I would laugh and say no. But I’d be wrong.
I know I have written about this recently, but in my heart I believe someone needs this today~
because I needed this today. Again.
Satan has a way of twisting my thoughts and subtly making me believe that I have more power than Jesus does.
Do you want to know how?
By making me believe that I’m a big disappointment to God because I’m not doing enough to earn His favor.
What’s wrong with this mindset?
Good works are not wrong. They become wrong when we begin to believe that in doing these things God will love us more, He will answer our prayers or He will bless our lives. They become wrong when we believe if we don’t do these things He will be angry with us or even punish us.
And in believing that lie, we give the power to ourselves.
Read that again~
WE GIVE THE POWER TO OURSELVES. Somehow we believe that our power trumps Christ’s. Matthew 28:18
It is only through placing our faith in Jesus and his shed blood on the cross that we are given grace. Ephesians 2:8-9
There’s not a single thing we can do that would make God love us more, because His unconditional love for us rests in the death of His Son on the cross and there is no love greater than that. John 15:13,
I John 4:10
Religions everywhere proclaim that if you just do more, God will be happy with you. Some teach that you have to dress a certain way or listen to the right kind of music. Sadly in the teaching, grace gets buried and good works and rules become the focus. We believe if we mess up the works, God will certainly chastise. With this mindset we tend to look down on others who do not obey our set of “rules” and trick ourselves into believing we are more righteous because of what WE do and not what CHRIST already did. In other religions the teachings switch to what you must do just to get into heaven. Confession to someone other than God, communion, steps and degrees of holiness, gaining God’s favor by giving to charities or serving (with the fear that this favor could be lost at any time). Once again, a religion of rules that buries grace.
All the while the religions are teaching that what we are doing somehow outweighs what Jesus already did.
Here’s the difference~
JESUS ISN’T A RELIGION.
JESUS IS A RELATIONSHIP.
It is certainly wonderful to have good works, but not out of guilt or want of reward. Our works should be an outpouring of our love for our Savior.
Please hear me friend.
You are not stronger than Jesus.
There is nothing you can do that could earn you a ticket to heaven.
You do not have that power.
There is nothing you do that can separate you from God’s love.
You do not have that power.
Once you have accepted that Jesus is the only way to heaven and truly believe that God’s gift in sacrificing His Son is the only gift of grace~and not anything you could ever do~then you will be free from the bondage of works. Titus 3:4-7. You will be free from the chains of guilt and trying harder. You will have a relationship with a Father Who continually gives amazing grace. Who will never leave you. Who will always love you.
No matter how hard we try we will always fail because we are human. We measure God’s standards by our human standards but praise God, He is not human and we aren’t Jesus. Psalm 103:10-14.
I too often find myself scared that God is angry with me. Scared that I screwed up again. So I try a little harder. I do a little more, but I fail time after time. All of this really hit home for me last summer. We took all 5 of our grandchildren (ages 2-8) up north to our family cottage. Our grandchildren absolutely love it there. Excitement filled the car the entire drive up. As we got closer they began chanting “Higgins lake, Higgins lake” over and over with smiles on their faces. The cottage isn’t anything spectacular. It’s a tiny two bedroom on a lot in the woods, but to our grandchildren it’s everything. It’s memories and love and time with family. We didn’t make them do a single thing to enter that cottage when they got there. We allowed them in because we love them. They are family. The following day Mike and I were surprised to see those kids outside raking and pulling weeds. They were working as hard as their little bodies would allow. With smiles on their faces. I asked why they were doing it and Ethan’s reply was “for Bapa, because we love him so much”
Ya that brought tears.
Do u see where I’m going here? Yes we need to realize how sinful we are but the moment we do and we ask God for forgiveness and for the gift of His salvation through His Son’s shed blood on the cross, we will always have a home in heaven~ because we are family. We become God’s child. We will be excited about our walk with God. We will want to serve and pray and give out of sheer love for our Savior.
Not for reward. Not out of guilt or shame or worry of punishment.
Simply out of love. The closer we get to Jesus, the more love out pours from our hearts and we find rest in His power to save us from ourselves.
AND THAT MY FRIEND IS GRACE.
Galatians 2:16-21, II Corinthians 12:9, Ephesians 3:7-12.
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.
WE’RE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER
3 minute read
“We’re all in this together”.
Recently a friend described attending our church this way. I had never thought about it quite like that, but realized immediately how true those words were.
We’re all sinners.
Nothing we do,
no church we attend,
no services we perform,
no money we give~
None of these things makes us any better than the person sitting next to us.
None of these things guarantees us a home in heaven.
(Isaiah 64:6, John 14:6, Romans 3:10,
I Peter 1:18-19)
And we’re all in this together.
I’m so thankful that the Bible didn’t stop at the verse~ ALL have sinned and come short of God’s glory. (Romans 3:23)
God made sure we knew how very, very much He loves the WHOLE world,
ALL of us, (John 3:16, I John 4:10)
and even though we are all sinners and we all deserve punishment (Romans 6:23)
~God didn’t leave us hanging.
He didn’t leave us wondering what would happen to us when we die.
Instead, He gave us ALL the Gift of His only Son who took our punishment and hung on a cross.
(Romans 5:8, Ephesians 1:7,I John 2:2)
We don’t have to wonder anymore. We can know, because He tells us so. (I John 5:13)
He tells us there is nothing we can physically do to be with Him in heaven when we die. (Ephesians 2:8&9)
All we need is a heart of repentance and faith to believe in His gift of eternal life through Jesus.
It’s all Jesus.
None of us are better than the other.
Not my husband (the pastor), not me, not the Sunday School teachers or King’s Kids workers, not the Children’s Church workers or any leader in any church anywhere.
Because we’re all in this together.
We’re all a bunch of sinners who desperately need Jesus.
You don’t have to have some miraculous, pivotal moment in this journey. There are no “rules”. It doesn’t have to be complicated. You don’t have to attend church or be baptized. You can be sitting alone at home or on a quiet beach. You can be in the middle of a busy restaurant or a crazy commute.
Gods gift is there for the taking no matter where you are or what you are doing at this very moment.
If you haven’t had that time in your heart of hearts that you have put your faith and trust in His gift of Jesus, you can right now!
Just talk to God.
He’s right there waiting.
You can tell Him you love Him.
You can say you’re sorry.
You can thank Him for sending Jesus.
You can just believe.
And you can know that I’m right there with you~ a sinner who needed Jesus and asked Him to be her Savior when I was 13.
It doesn’t make me perfect.
I still mess up every day, but thank God He loves me so much, He continually forgives and He whispers to my heart~
It’s okay Charisse~
We’re all in this together.
I cannot emphasize enough how badly I did NOT want to go on a first date with my husband.
So much so, that when I found out he was going to ask me out, I hid.
It was evening, it was dark and I was hiding in a van with tinted windows.
Even as I watched him walking toward the van, I did not open the door.
I would not roll down the window.
That didn’t stop him.
He walked right up to that van and knocked on that window.
Obviously I went on that date with him, since I am now referring to him as my husband 😂😂
On our first date I just sat there and listened to him talk. His dreams and goals. His convictions. His drive.
His walk with God.
Every part of me did not want to give in to my feelings or give up the “fun” I thought I was having at the time. I knew by the lifestyle Mike kept, he did not enjoy my kind of “fun”.
I was looking at a relationship with him all wrong.
Despite my inner conflict and desire to stick with the cool crowd (and not my husband’s crowd), he won me over that night because I sat and I listened.
God’s love never stops.
At this very moment God might be knocking on the door of your heart. You can feel the tug but you are hiding in the darkness of fear.
Fear of what you think you will have to give up.
You are missing all the joy, all the sweetness, all the peace and all the beauty a relationship with Jesus holds.
I don’t know why Mike chose to ask me out. I wasn’t “pastor wife” material. In fact, being a pastor’s wife was the furthest thing from my mind. At times I wonder why he loves me even now, but I do know he has made my life beautiful and sweet and I can’t imagine not having him by my side.
Just as I don’t know why God chose me and loves me. I don’t deserve it, yet He gave His life for me and~
He gave His life for you.
There’s no more beautiful way to fall in love with Jesus than to sit and listen. Open a bible. Listen to His words. Read them and discover the boundless love He has for you. In doing so, you will discover that his love is so unfathomable it will completely change your way of thinking.
A relationship with Jesus isn’t about everything you have to give up. It’s not about rules or church attendance. It’s not a prison sentence, it’s a freedom verdict. A relationship with Jesus is joy, peace, comfort, love, hope. It is hope. Hope in everything beautiful and sweet. Hope we can cling to. Hope that supports us when we are at our lowest.
So, I stood there in white and said “I do.”
As he carried me over the threshold, I could see the deep love in his eyes and I couldn’t wait to do life by his side.
Say “I do” to God. Give in to His absolutely matchless, transcendent love and give Him your life today. Ask Him to carry you through the threshold of life to all that His incredible love has in store for you. Let go of everything and allow Him to hold you as you hold onto Him and the hope He has for a life with Christ by your side.
ALL GONE, JUST LIKE THE TURKEY ON A CHRISTMAS STORY.
Christmas came and went.
So much happy preparation for one day,
and just like that~
Maybe for you it was the best Christmas ever, or maybe it wasn’t everything you had hoped for, and sadness lingers.
Can I ask you to search your heart?
What gift did you give?
Not to those who sat around your tree, but to the One whose birthday we celebrate?
I will never forget the Christmas all my children woke up with the flu.
For months I had been preparing for this day. My whole family would be visiting. My mom always hosted, but this year it would be my first time having everyone on Christmas Day~
and it would be the best Christmas ever.
After being up till 2am (like every other parent on Christmas Eve), I fell into bed ~while visions of sugarplums danced in my head~ I was SO excited for the kids to wake up on Christmas morning and open their gifts. Instead, a few short hours later we woke up to crying and fevers and throwing up.
One after another.
All four kids.
Over and over and over.
And I cried.
This was my day.
THE day I looked forward to all year.
Why would God do this? He knew how much I loved Christmas. All the cooking and baking, decorating and shopping, wrapping and work, all the sleep deprivation and expectations of joy.
Just like the turkey on “A Christmas Story”.
What about me?
I was like a child in that moment.
Illusions that it was my birthday and not the Savior of all mankind’s.
Pouting over the gifts of expectations I would not receive.
Complaining that it wasn’t fair.
But what did I give Jesus that day?
I asked for a lot.
Maybe not audibly, but inwardly. A lot.
But I gave Him very little.
There have been many Christmases since that time where similar situations have happened.
I wish I could have a do over.
Not to prevent the awful circumstances of the day, but instead to change the way I viewed those circumstances. To give of myself to my Savior whose birthday I was supposedly celebrating.
I read a quote today that said~
“The celebrations were never meant to satisfy. The Savior does.”
I made it all about me when the day should have been all about Him, despite the circumstances.
Despite the circumstances, He came from immaculate glory to a sin cursed world. The Savior, whose hands formed the universe, were now tiny hands, tightly formed around his mother’s finger.
Tiny glory, lying in a manger of hay.
Born into the worst circumstances you could imagine.
Christmas is over. Another year is gone.
But today is a new day.
We owe everything to Him,
yet we ask everything of Him.
A new year beckons us.
A whole year before next year’s birthday celebration.
A whole year to give every single day.
Our life is a start. The best start.
Our love. Our praise. Our thankfulness.
Belated birthday wishes are always a blessing. It’s never too late.
Sing Happy Birthday in your heart today. The heart that Jesus gave everything for. ❤️
IT’S TRUE, GOD CHOSE YOU!
As I watched The Nativity on my television that day~
I saw the angel come to Joseph.
Come to Mary.
Speaking to their hearts~
”Don’t be afraid.”
Words of assurance.
This was God.
He would be born of the Holy Spirit. Messiah and Savior of the world.
I saw His birth. I saw the manger. I watched His earthly parent’s faces filled with joy and love for this Child Who meant the world to them.
I saw the gift of Christmas.
My heart pondered the ones God had chosen to raise the Savior of all mankind. The parents whose house Jesus would live and be raised in.
They must’ve been so special for God almighty to choose them.
Why did God choose Joseph?
Why did God choose Mary?
God answered me that day.
He whispered words to my heart that brought tears.
I chose you too Charisse.
I chose you for my Son to live and dwell. Every day He is there with you because He has been born in you.
That day, so many years ago, someone showed me God’s words of incredible love. Someone read me the Christmas story and told me that baby, grown into a man, died on the cross for me. He took my sin on Himself so that I could be justified and forgiven. The Holy Spirit spoke to my heart. I was no longer afraid of death. Christ was born in me and every day since that day He lives in me, and with me. There is nothing that can separate me from Him and His love for me.
I am not special. I have done nothing, not one thing to deserve this. Yet God chose me, because I am His and He loves me.
And He loves you.
God’s gift of His Son is for you as well. The gift of being born again.
The gift of everlasting life.
The gift of Christmas.
Just as the angel spoke to Mary and she in turn had incredible faith to believe that the Messiah would live in her~
God is speaking to you.
Have faith and believe that He can live in you as well. He can live in your heart and life every single day and one day receive you into the home He has prepared for you in heaven.
No fear of death any longer.
You can be His manger.
You can be His home here on earth.
You can be the light of His star that leads others to Him.
Not because you are special.
Not because you are good enough.
Not because you go to church.
But only because of God’s love.
Only because of Jesus and His sacrifice on the cross.
Don’t be afraid.
God’s words give us assurance.
By faith believe and accept God’s beautiful gift today.
The gift of a baby~
The gift of Jesus~
The gift of Christmas!
AN UNPLANNED PREGNANCY
Two of my four children were planned. Our first was a happy, yet unexpected surprise for me.
Our third was a different story,
but one with a very happy ending.
We lived in Connecticut at the time and my OBGYN told us that everyone born before 1965 should get vaccinated for chicken pox and measles, especially if we were planning to get pregnant. The disease could be deadly for a baby in the womb. He advised I get the vaccine at least a month before conceiving, with strict orders that I NOT get pregnant.
So I did.
We were extremely meticulous in obeying the Doctors orders, but as careful as we were...accidents happen.
I freaked out. Mike freaked out. We both freaked out.
The Doctor said “DON’T get pregnant”...
But I did.
And I freaked.
The doctors kind of freaked too.
They advised abortion.
They advised tests to see if the baby would be born with deformities and if these tests were positive, they advised termination.
This was our miracle baby.
Against all odds, God chose for him to be born.
No matter what
~ he would be perfect in our eyes~ because God had chosen to breathe life into his tiny little soul as I carried him.
Month after month we prayed.
And as that precious baby was placed in my arms and tears of joy spilled down our cheeks, we praised God for a perfect, healthy baby boy. Our only son.
What a beautiful gift from God.
My life was changed that day.
We are human. We our sinful. As careful as we may try to be in obeying all the “rules”, in obeying God’s commands~ we can never be perfect. We can never be good enough. We will always mess up. Sin will always be present.
But there’s still a very happy ending.
We are not an accident in God’s eyes. We are precious to Him.
God loves us so much,
He made a way.
Only one way~
and that way is through His Son.
And through His Son, we can become perfect in God’s eyes.
Born again. Not because of anything we have done, but because of everything He did for us.
Christmas changed history.
Christmas changed our hearts. Christmas changed our destiny.
Christmas changed our lives for eternity.
Christ was born.
He left the glory of heaven’s majesty.
To be born in you.
John 1:14, 3:7
For you, so that God almighty could breathe life into your soul. So that you could carry Him in your heart.
So that your life could forever be changed.
Against all odds.
Against all mess ups.
Against all rules.
Only Jesus~ living in you.
Tears of joy spill down my cheeks as I think of the absolute majesty and wonder of Christ’s birth, that precious baby placed in a manger~for me.
It brings me to my knees.
There will be no other gift this Christmas that can compare to such a Gift as this. The Gift of forgiveness and eternal life from a Father and His Son, our Savior that gave His life for you.
When I ponder the birth of my son and that little miracle placed in my arms~ my thoughts go to that manger in Bethlehem and the greatest, most important Miracle of all mankind.
Fall on your knees with me this Christmas and praise God for His miraculous Gift. Matthew 2:10-11
The Gift that changed our destiny.
A Gift that can change your life today
Titus 1:2, John 3:15, I John 2:25,
Romans 6:23, I John 5:11 & 13,
John 10:28, John 17:3
IT’S IN THE BAG
I was dubbed “The bag lady” by my teasing father~in~law.
A fact about me that I’m sure many of you don’t know.
I stitch linen replicas of antique bags, and I love it.
Almost always, the customer will want the initials of a loved one stitched onto the bag. Someone who is precious to them.
I can’t help but think of that person.
This touches my heart as I stitch. These are more than just bags to me. More than just orders for customers. They are memories and love and joy.
I think of these initials and the love they hold in each person’s heart.
How dear that loved one is.
And just as precious as our loved ones are to us, we are so much more precious to God.
I think about His life, and it touches my heart. It’s more than just a story.
So much more.
He lived on this earth. Born in a manger. He knows what it feels like to be human. He understands. And in all His glory, because of His unfathomable love, He died on the cross for our sins.
But it doesn’t end there.
It ends in such sweetness that it brings tears.
Despite my sin, and because of His love, God literally tells me in His word that~my sins are sealed up in a BAG! And He SEWS up ALL my iniquity.
My name is on that bag. Sealed up and forgiven for eternity. He knows me. He loves me. He cares about me. Not because of anything I have done, but because of everything He did for me.
“Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name.”
“Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine.”
“...for thou hast found grace in my sight, and I know thee by name.”
I deeply want my orders to be beautiful to those who request them.
Yes, I am a bag lady~
and my longing is that everyone would see the sin our hearts hold,
but not only that~
to truly see your heart as God sees it, through the love of His Son, repenting and requesting God’s precious gift this holiday season.
Your own name, written in
God’s book of life.
Revelation 20:12&15, 21:27.
Your own bag, your sins sealed up, never to be remembered again. Job 14:17
A home in heaven. John 14:1-3
That’s the gift I wish for you to receive.
The beautiful gift God has given us. John 3:16
A treasure that surpasses any you have ever known.
All in a bag.
“Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that fail not. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”
I ONCE WAS BLIND
We were away from it all.
No traffic, no street lights~
Only the moon and stars.
Four little grandkids asleep for the night.
We turn off the lights.
Complete darkness surrounds me in this remote place.
My eyes can not adjust~
the eyes that just witnessed their beautiful faces~
Before the darkness came.
My heart cannot imagine living in darkness like this as a constant.
Never seeing that beauty again.
Or perhaps being born in darkness~
Never knowing the beauty of God’s creation all around me. Even now as I write I can picture it, because my eyes have seen it.
The majesty of mountains and trees, rainbows and sunsets. The glory of oceans and sand, fields and flowers. The brilliance and beauty of the sun’s beams shouting out behind ominous thunderclouds.
I cannot imagine never knowing color.
Not even understanding what the word color means.
Breathtaking hues of
falling leaves that paint the world, pure whiteness dropping delicately from heaven,
bright pinks and yellows, greens and purples that burst forth from the cold barren earth in spring,
the crystal blue of oceans that meet and melt into the sky.
Colors of God’s creation everywhere, except to the eyes that see only darkness. Except to the heart that has never known that beauty and therefore, cannot even imagine it.
It is too hard for my mind to even comprehend.
My heart becomes eternally grateful to God for the beauty He has allowed me to witness my entire life and sober at the thought of the awful reality some live with in such darkness.
It moves me to tears as I think that once my heart was like that darkness~
That blindness? That was my sin, your sin, and it was far worse than the dreadful reality of living in blackness and never knowing beauty. Far worse~
My heart and eyes were opened to the beauty of His gift, His life. For Me. And that beauty shines upon my life daily~
Because of Jesus.
As beautiful as God’s creation is to me, Jesus is far more beautiful. He is color to my fallen world, He is pure whiteness covering my darkness. He is new beginnings to a heart that was barren. He is incredible joy and brilliant beauty shouting forth through the ominous thunderclouds of life.
Because of Jesus.
My blindness is gone~
He is my light.
“And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us: and establish thou the work of our hands upon us; yea, the work of our hands establish thou it.”
“Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name; worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.”
“But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.”
1 Corinthians 2:9
“For thou wilt light my candle: the Lord my God will enlighten my darkness.”
“The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up.”
“Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.”
“But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:”
1 Peter 2:9
“The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.”
ALL THE WORLD WAS WAITING
I was sitting in the waiting room alone. The pager was on my lap and I began to wonder if its batteries were even working. I hadn’t heard a word in over 2 hours, going on 3. One of my children was in surgery. It wasn’t life threatening, but any type of surgery our children have, especially under anesthesia, can be scary to a mama.
My phone battery had died, so all I could do was sit and watch and wait. I listened to all the different stories people were telling. Some small talk, some large tales, some praying. It was a rather loud waiting room but to me it seemed like a distant murmur. All I could think about was my child. I looked down at the pager again. Each time the door opened and a nurse came out my heart got anxious, but each time they weren’t there for me. Finally the Surgeon came out and told me he was finished. All was well. My heart was relieved.
When our children have to endure pain, it is heart wrenching and when they have to endure something that is life threatening it’s almost unbearable. My human heart can not comprehend the unbearable and heart wrenching emotions of God my Father as His precious Son was tortured, then hung on a cross. To listen to the distant murmurings of a sinful world that watched and to wait in anguish for the words “It is finished” but instead to hear your precious child ask you- “if it’s ok, could you not allow me to go through this suffering?”
Can you imagine your child asking this of you, and then having to turn your back on them? I can’t.
As I looked around that waiting room, I know that I could not have allowed my child to die that day for even one of those people. But I’m not God. I couldn’t imagine the surgeon telling me my child was gone. But I’m not God. I can’t imagine the love my Heavenly Father had for a world that was waiting. A love that made Him think of everyone and turn His back on His Son. I’m not God, but I’m so thankful HE IS.
Christ was there for me and when He spoke the grace filled words “It is finished” it was to the relief and redemption of the sinful hearts of all mankind. I can’t fathom that kind of love. I’m so thankful HE IS love.
When I was able to finally see my child after surgery my heart was filled with joy and when God the Father was able to look at our sinful hearts through the love of His only begotten Son, it filled the entire world with joy. HE IS our joy.
It is finished. It wasn’t the end that day those words were sproken, it was only the beginning. Three days later God’s precious Son rose again to live in the hearts of all humanity, if we only invite Him in. We don’t have to wait any longer. Three days later became the happiest day of all mankind. HE IS my Savior and HE IS alive!
I am so thankful HE IS!
When my kids were little, I used to have chore sheets for each of them. Every day after school they were required to do their specific chore and then mark it off the list.
Some days would be good days. Happy moods. Willing hearts. Other days would be~
I. Hate. These. Stupid. Chores!Why can’t we just play outside with our friends and have fun?.
At times I believe this is how many adults view God. They think that He is up in heaven with a list of rules they have to obey in order to get His approval.
They’re afraid that if they choose God they will have to give up too much.
They’re afraid they will miss out on all the fun.
They look at church and the Bible as if it were one big chore list.
But that’s not God.
(1 Corinthians 2:9)
There is nothing we could ever do to “earn” our way to heaven. (Ephesians 2:8-9)
No rules we must to follow.
No commandment we must keep.
Church isn’t about rules. God isn’t about rules. He’s not up in heaven waiting to hit you over the head if you don’t mark off your daily chore. He doesn’t have a list of things He demands you give up before He will allow you into Heaven. (1 John 4:8)
God is all about love and we desperately need to understand the extent of His love,
(Psalm 103:12, Romans 8:38-39)
and realize that if we could ever do enough good deeds, enough chores, if we could follow every single rule~
What was the point of His Son dying on the cross for us?
God looks at us and He doesn’t see a chore list. He sees His Son and He loves us in spite of our sinful self. (Romans 5:8)
All God wants is you.
All He asks for is your heart.
My children had some very close friends growing up. “Best friends”. I truly loved all of them but that love didn’t even come close to the love I had for my own child.
(Isaiah 49:15, 66:13)
He loves us AS HE LOVES HIS OWN SON JESUS! (John 17:23)
It is mind blowing and hard for this mama to even comprehend.
Oh my friend~ that’s what you’re missing out on. The love of a Father that would give His own Son for you!
(John 1:11-12, 3:16, 4:10&14, 6:35,
1 John 4:9-10)
And when we realize all that- we realize that church isn’t about rules. Its all about God the Father and His amazing, unending love for us. It’s Home. It’s a place where we can have child like peace and comfort in a messy world. Where we can be God’s child and rest in Him.
My children are all adults now~ but there’s something special that happens when they come to visit.
There are no chore lists, there are no rules. There is only love and fellowship with mom and dad.
Child like comfort and security, love and rest in the place they once called Home.
Won’t you come home today?
Psalm 4:8, 23:4, 37:7, 62:1-2, 119:76,
BECAUSE HE LOVES YOU
I married a man whose idea of a fun vacation was being in the middle of the woods in a pop up tent. My idea of a vacation was a nice hotel (on the beach, with a heated pool and room service). But hey, I fell hard for that handsome, rugged man so a few years later when he suggested we go camping, I said sure. I was OBVIOUSLY still in the dreamy stage. Jessica was just over a year and I was VERY pregnant with Andrea. We were camping in the middle of no where. This wasn’t a campground with restrooms, it was the woods with trees~ and the restroom was one of them. Trying to pee when you’re 8+ months pregnant, while leaning against a tree, is almost impossible. But I did it~
BECAUSE I LOVED HIM.
When I think about that crazy camping experience and how hard I thought it was, my thoughts go to Mary~the mother of Jesus~who traveled thousands of miles on a donkey and gave birth in a manger.
Because she loved HIM. Her Savior.
And then, my heart takes me to her Savior~MY Savior. He left the immense majesty of heaven and all it’s glory for us~
BECAUSE HE LOVES US.
He was born in a filthy cattle stall in Bethlehem~
BECAUSE HE LOVES US.
He died a horrible death for me, for you, and He wants to be born in your heart~
BECAUSE HE LOVES YOU.
Jimmy Pena put it beautifully. He wrote~ “Isn’t that what we want? For our hearts to be His Bethlehem? Born in us? When you and I walk into work or school or the gym... when we make dinner for the kids or visit a neighbor, we hold Him. We’re His Home on earth.”
What better time than the week before Easter to be reminded of Christmas? So, my reminder to you for March is this~ Jesus our Savior, born for us. Don’t let a day go by this week, or this year, that you neglect to thank and praise Him for His amazing gift and for His home in your heart.
BECAUSE HE LOVES YOU~
that beautiful, powerful name is the priceless, precious gift of Christmas that we should be thankful for every day of the year.
~~You didn’t want heaven without us, so Jesus you brought heaven down.~~
It was late and a school night. Everyone was tired. As my grandma straightened the blankets one more time, I noticed her hands lingered a little longer. Everyone kissed grandpa and walked out of the room and down the cold, sterile hall toward the elevator. I watched them walk ahead of me but something made me stop, so I turned and walked back into his room. He was sleeping and I wasn’t even sure if he could hear me, but I took his hand and whispered~ ”I love you so much grandpa”~then leaned over and kissed him on the cheek. I don’t know what made me do it, but I’m so glad I did. The next morning I woke to the phone ringing and my grandma’s sobs. I was a sophomore in high school, but I pulled the covers over my head and I cried like a baby. Losing a loved one is so hard, it doesn’t matter how old you are. Everyone’s heart breaks. He was my grandpa, my mom’s dad, my grandma’s husband. So many emotions and memories wrapped up in each one of those titles. My personality is the type that makes me want to run away and hide from the world when faced with tremendous heartache. But that doesn’t make it go away, and heart ache returns~ again and again. Even my wedding album reminds me of how often heartache has come for a visit. In one particular picture, 8 out of 15 of our family members are no longer living. Death has taken them. It is no respector of persons or titles, days or hours. Can we ever avoid this pain that is almost unbearable? We honestly cannot. As a pastors wife, I hear this question again and again and yet, I have no answer. Inevitably, we will endure pain and heartache, but we don’t have to endure it without hope. That morning, that phone call caused the tears to flow and since that time, many others have as well. But they did not flow for my grandpa, our cousins, my sister in law, my mom, or all of our precious grandparents. They flowed from the emptiness my heart felt for their absence. They flowed for the sorrow my other loved ones were going through. They flowed for the dark and lonely days ahead that my loved ones would be facing, but not for those that had gone home to heaven. And so, my hope is on the Solid Rock. Because of the gift of God’s Son and His death on the cross, my hope is in my Savior. My hope lies in knowing that my loved ones are in heaven with Him right now, dancing to the angel’s music, laughing with loved ones, sitting at their Savior’s feet. No more suffering this world has to offer. Can you even imagine? They can run to Jesus and hug Him any time they want to. And that’s the hope that puts a smile on my face. That hope allows me to face tomorrow. I don’t have to run away. I don’t have to hide. That hope tells me, it will be okay. Do you have that hope? God forbid, if something happened to you, would your family find comfort in that hope? Let that hope be your hope today.
Titus 1:2, Titus 2:13, Titus 3:7, Colossians 1:5, Colossians 1:27, I Thessalonians 4:13, Romans 5:2, Romans 15:4, Psalm 42:11
It was an unusually cold winter when the former pastor started renovations on our only bathroom. Until Mike was officially voted in, we were living with the pastor and his wife. Our kids were all very young, ranging from 3rd grade down to 2 year old Kathryn. We were excited to finally have a shower installed instead of just a tub, but the fact that we wouldn't have any water in the house for a week~ maybe longer~ was less than exciting. Waking 4 little kids up for school while it was still dark outside, bundling them up and carrying them over to the church through 2 feet of snow got old really fast. Not to mention 'middle of the night' trips due to a weak bladder from giving birth to said children. Add onto that washing hands, bathing in the church's kitchen sink, dirty dishes and diapers and this mom was exhausted. I can still picture it in my head like it was yesterday. The path through the snow that Mike had shoveled. The cold toilet seat in the middle of the night. The sleepy kids stumbling around trying to get their coats and boots on in the early morning hours. The times they thought it would be funny to stomp in the snow daddy had piled so neatly. Their little repentant hearts for messing up all daddy's hard work. The work involved just to get them clean and keep them clean so we didn't have to walk back over through the snow. And when I think about all of it, I can't help but think how very grateful I am that my path to heaven isn't something that I have to work at. It isn't a daily or even hourly chore, in fact there isn't a single good work that I could ever do to be clean enough on my own. Jesus shoveled that path for me when He died on the cross for my sins. He shoveled every past sin and every sin of my future out of the way and made my heart as white as snow. And then He spoke the words "It is finished". My debt was paid. I don't have to keep working on a pathway to heaven. With the simple prayer of a repentant heart, I only needed to accept His gift of the cross one time and a home in heaven became mine for eternity. Yes I still get dirty. Sin is always messy, but when I look ahead at my Savior He is smiling at me with open arms. On my path of life, my Heavenly Father doesn't see all my messy mistakes piled along side me. He only sees pure white snow.
Within minutes, the joy of a newborn baby girl was extinguished and fear entered our hearts. The nurses were wheeling my bed up to a room, chatting happily about my new baby and how sweet she was. Mike was standing next to me smiling proudly, when suddenly I knew something was wrong. Hemorrhaging had started. When I became unresponsive, Mike quickly realized something was wrong as well. The funny thing was, I could hear everything that was going on. I remember the nurses panicked voices as they called for the Doctor. I remember being rushed back down to surgery in a large, stainless steel room. I remember thinking that the joy of a new baby would quickly be stripped away from my husband, because I was going to die. In the midst of the panic, I also remember having a complete peace about dying because I knew when I woke up I would be in the arms of Jesus. I remember Mike's voice saying my name. Charisse. Charisse. That's what I woke up to when I came out of surgery. I recognized his voice even with my eyes still closed and it brought me a sense of comfort. Everything would be okay.
This week, as I recalled that moment in my life, I couldn't help but think of Mary in the Bible. So much had changed for her in 3 short days. Her Lord had been honored with cries of hosanna and joy flooded her heart with hope, but it was quickly stripped away when He was brutally beaten and crucified on the cross. She went to His tomb, but He was gone. For a moment she thought all hope was gone as well. She cried in torment to the gardener, pleading with Him for answers and then...she heard Him. Mary. Can you hear Him? Her eyes had been closed. She did not recognize who was standing right before her~until He spoke her name. Mary. Compassion, love, assurance all in one word. Mary. And then, all her fears were gone. When she heard His voice, she KNEW~and her joy returned as comfort flooded over her.
This Easter, let us listen for His voice. He died a horrific death for us. He took our sins on Himself on the cross, He was crucified and laid in a tomb~but praise God He did not stay in that tomb. He arose and He wants us all to accept His beautiful gift of salvation. He is calling our names. Do you recognize His voice? Do you hear Him? Let His comfort and peace wash over you, even in the midst of a life that might seem hopeless. You might be tormented. You might feel like your joy has been stripped away and you have nothing left but sorrow. Don't give up hope. Jesus is calling your name. He wasn't just a simple carpenter. He wasn't the gardener. He IS my Savior, the Son of God. He has conquered death and has given me life everlasting. There is nothing in this world that can bring you the comfort that only He can give. Today, this Easter, listen for His voice. He is calling your name. Open your eyes and your heart and know~ everything will be okay.
I'm a huge coffee drinker and can easily down an entire pot by myself, so one year while our family was on vacation in NC my husband bought me my own pot for our room. It stays at his grandparents home all year until we return again the following Spring. Every year I pack up the coffee pot and get nostalgic. It's only a coffee pot but it holds so many memories. It also holds on to the hope that I will see it again next year, along with my many loved ones. It waits patiently in grandma's attic, wondering who will return to the beach house next year and eager to hear the love filled laughter from all the other rooms. But for a year, it hears only silence. My husband's family members have been coming here in the Spring, since he was a baby. His sisters and brother, parents, aunts and uncles and cousins and grandparents and now our grandchildren too. We all stay together in one house, every year looking forward to "the beach". When we drive away at the end of our stay, tears are always shed. Sometimes an entire year will go by before we see each other again. I recently read a quote that said "Heaven is a little closer in a house by the sea." Heartache has hit us all during these years. We lost our cousin Alan, and then our precious Amy, Mike's youngest sister. We lost parents and grandparents and our hearts wept. And for a moment it seemed like our laughter turned to silence. But we return and along the way God has brought us new loved ones, new spouses, new cousins and sweet grandbabies who are now so precious to us. We laugh and we love, we have hearts bursting with joy, not just because we have each other, but more importantly because of our great Savior. He fills our hearts with laughter when others might have thought that laughter would never return. He fills our hearts with joy because we know that we will see our loved ones again, just like that old coffee pot. We might not see them at "the beach" house but we have a sure confidence that we will see them when we go home to heaven. That home will far surpass the most beautiful ocean front house there is, and the laughter and joy it's halls bring will last an eternity. An eternity with our loved ones. An eternity with Jesus. I will fill my heart with memories as I pack this coffee pot back up in its box and I will forever be thankful to my Father for sending His Son to die for me. Because of His amazing gift, I will close up that box and know in my heart that we will all be together again.