I’m going to take a small commercial break in my series of late to tell you a story.
It was 1982.
My junior year of high school, and I had made the cheerleading squad. We were a small, tight knit Christian school, and the friendships that were formed have lasted my lifetime. I wore a pleated skirt that touched my knees, saddle shoes and a constricting, long sleeve wool sweater. Looking back I cannot believe that was the uniform of choice. I probably lost 10 pounds every game just from sweating so much. I didn’t care. I loved every second. That year I was determined to make 1st Team All Conference for my squad, and I worked hard toward that goal. When the time came for names to be announced and awards given, my name was not on the list. I can honestly say that I was truly happy for my friends. They were seasoned cheerleaders, and I knew they deserved the acclamation.
My senior year I was fueled to try even harder. I did everything my coach told me to do. Every game, every routine. No mess ups. 1983. This would be my year. I was confident in the work that I put in. When the names were called, I waited anxiously to hear my own, but I didn’t even get an honorable mention~
and I was crushed.
Somehow, almost 40 years later I still feel like that cheerleader at times. Trying so hard to do it all right. Listening to what I’ve been taught my entire Christian adult life. Putting the hard work in, confident that I’ve got this servanthood thing in the bag.
Until I don’t.
And sometimes I allow it to crush me.
I compare myself to others.
(2 Corinthians 10:12-16)
I press toward my own prize.
I become weary. (Galatians 6:9)
I envy and grumble. (Hebrews 13:5)
And then grumble some more. (Philippians 2:14-15)
As I have studied the topic of surrender to God and our love for Him, many things have come to my attention.
Why do we continually mess up? In our Christian walk, in our relationships, in our attitudes?
Well, there’s the obvious… sin, duh.
But, as I prayed about this more, I came to the realization that a lot of it has to do with the specific sin of ‘my love for myself.’
I can say that I’m doing the things I’m doing (ie~ you know being a good servant and all that 😉) because of my love for the Lord, but when I am serving and someone rattles me with an off hand comment or speaks praise over others and not me~ I find myself right back in those saddle shoes. I throw myself my own pity party. I either feel like I will never be good enough, asking myself why I wasn’t picked, or I start to lift myself up with the~ ‘I’ve worked so hard!’~ mentality. This is a place I wouldn’t be if I was truly being a servant of Christ and doing everything out of my love for Him.
Somehow Charisse always gets in her own way.
The times I hear myself saying “Nobody loves me. Nobody notices. Nobody cares. I’ll never measure up. Why can’t I be like her?” Are the very times I’m loving myself more than Christ. I am making it about me and not about Him. I am putting on MY uniform and then sweating in my own strength trying to achieve something for myself~
and not for Christ. (Romans 13:14)
It’s His armor that should take precedence. (Ephesians 6:10-18)
And so, (this might be stretching things a bit~ no pun intended 😉) I believe that even cheerleading can teach us some lessons.
On our squad, I always ended up being a part of our “base” when we did mounts. I’m 5’9” so obviously I wasn’t going to be at the top of a mount~ and I understood that 100%. That was my spot.
If only I could apply that understanding to my life now!
In cheerleading, it was never supposed to be about the girl at the top, or who got the most recognition. It was about our love for our team. Cheering them on and encouraging them to keep fighting for the win~
Isn’t that what our Christian life is all about?
It’s not about us. It’s all about Christ. Our love for our great God. Some girls might be center stage in their service and others might be serving in ways no one ever sees.
Both spots are equally important.
Our love for Jesus is what will shine.
And if we tumble. If we can’t hold the weight. If we become constricted because of our love for ourselves. If it feels too heavy or we get weary in the well doing, let us not forget that He is the one holding us all together. It’s not anything that we do, it’s His strength working in and through us.
Take off that constricting uniform of self service in the name of Christianity, and
Put on Jesus. (Romans 13:14)
Plain and simple.
We are on the same team! So, cheer your fellow sisters on as they fight the good fight. (1Timothy 6:12) Make no mistake~ it is a battle and Satan knows exactly how to get us to love ourselves more than each other and more than our Savior. (2 Corinthians 10:4)
Next week, I hope to end my series with some encouragement on how we can go about loving God more and finding the laughter in our lives. I felt the need to address the fact that we cannot take steps forward toward truly loving God until we realize the battle we are in with loving ourselves.
When I look back at my cheerleading days, I’m so glad I was a part of it. Winning All Conference doesn’t even matter to me now, but the relationships that were forged and the spirit of unity we had is a memory I will cherish forever. I feel the same way about all my sisters in Christ. My sweet friends who have worshipped and walked along side me, fighting the good fight for the love of our Savior. The ones who have been a part of my life from day one, some not even realizing the impact they have had on my life. I’m over here cheering you all on and the good news is~ we already know Who wins!
Ephesians 4:1-4, 7, 12-13, 15-16, 24
Most of my children are amazing cooks, and the ones that aren’t readily admit to that fact. It can often be intimidating to cook for them. Mom, whose meals were once the delight of her little ones now takes a back burner. I don’t mind though. I get the fruits of their labor. My daughter-in-law’s Baked Ziti is a favorite of mine. My son-in-law’s have skills in the kitchen that I seriously envy, and my second child shares delectable recipes on her blog with tens of thousands of followers.
And so, The Tuna Casserole.
My husband is a meat and potato kind of guy and despite the amazing dishes my kids come up with, he often prefers… well~meat and potatoes. Haha. The only casserole he truly enjoys is The Tuna Casserole.
The casserole I have never enjoyed.
He bought all the ingredients for it the other day, intending to make it himself. Because I love that meat and potatoes man, I surprised him while he was out and threw it all together. It’s an understatement for me to say he was thrilled. It seemed like such a simple thing. He was genuinely ecstatic. He hugged me and told me he loved me. He boasted that I took it to a ‘whole new level’, and then he said this~
”Take a picture of it and send it to the kids”. 😂😂😂 In this day and age of social media, that is the ultimate compliment. A compliment on a dish I would venture to say wasn’t my best work, and one I would never share a picture of! But the joy on his face and the love in his words meant the world. They truly made me happy. All for a tuna casserole.
As I thought about it, it hit me…Sometimes I look at the talents and gifts of other women and wonder how God could ever use me. I am just ordinary. I overthink everything. I compare way too much. I want to be better, do better, pray more, be more hospitable. Be everything to everyone. My husband, my family, my church, my social media platforms. That’s me. In my mind I’m never measuring up, but striving to be that recipe that reaches tens of thousands.
But then God leans down and whispers into my overactive heart and mind~
“Reach one. Start with reaching out to one in My name. Willingly give your heart for My cause and seek to bless one person today. Just one.”
It seems so small. Almost too small. Shouldn’t I be making grand gestures for the Lord? But I listen. And I reach out to that one that God has laid on my heart.
And I become the tuna casserole.
Jesus didn’t ask us to feed the 5,000. That’s His job. He asks us to bring a cup of water to the least of these. One cup of water. One note of encouragement. One visit. One hug. There is no doubt God can use the talents of many to reach thousands for Him, but he can also use the ordinary people like you and I to do the extraordinary.
To be the hands and feet of Jesus.
(John 13:14-15, Isaiah 52:7,
To be the very heart of Jesus.
To love like Jesus loves. (1 John 4:7, 12)
It’s wrong for me to compare. It’s something I have to ask God to continually help me with. Each of us are different. God has given some of us amazing talents to be used by Him, and some of us are the tuna casseroles.
(I Peter 4:10) And that’s okay, because that’s what He created us to be.
I might feel like a mess of ingredients all thrown together, but I’m God’s mess and when I use those ingredients out of love for my Savior, it brings Him joy because I’m not doing it for me. I’m doing it for Him. (Matthew 25:35-40)
We’re His workmanship, created for His good works. (Ephesians 2:10). When our hearts are softened to the needs of those around us, even if it’s just one person~ God is glorified.
When God sees us reaching out to help the hurting, the joy on His face outshines any grand gesture you could’ve made on your own. Even when that help will never be made known to the tens of thousands, or posted on social media.
God sees that tuna casserole. That’s me, and one day when I see Him face to face, my prayer is that there will be joy in the beholding and love in His words~”Well done”. (Hebrews 6:10) And then I’m sure He will hug me and tell me how much He loves me~because that’s just who He is.
(1 John 4:16)
Be an ordinary Tuna Casserole and do extraordinary things for Him. Not only will it make you happy, but it will bring tremendous happiness to others.
One cup of water is a good place to start.
A Guaranteed Happy Thanksgiving
A Thanksgiving Devotional
For weeks I had been planning this holiday with an excitement that could not be contained. My family would be traveling 700 miles to visit me for Thanksgiving. I poured over magazines with pictures of beautiful holiday table settings. Wonderful memories flooded my heart as I remembered the countless Thanksgivings spent with family, sitting around just such a table. Despite my apartment being tiny, we would all squeeze in and make it work. Mike and I had been married less than 3 years, with one child and another on the way. Morning sickness prevailed but I didn’t care~I missed home, I missed family, I missed all of us sitting around the dinner table together.
Everything began just as I had planned, but it all went downhill on Thanksgiving day. One family member after another came down with the stomach flu~in the very worst way. Everyone ended up sick except for me. It is an understatement when I tell you that our apartment was tiny. There was barely enough room to walk by each other and with only one small bathroom and 5 sick people… well you can only imagine. I had a lot of cleaning… and then more cleaning to do, with no time to rest or even celebrate. Add morning sickness to the equation and my picture perfect Thanksgiving turned into a nightmare. No sitting around a table filled with a cornucopia of delicious foods and thankful spirits.
We all want that picture perfect Thanksgiving dinner, Martha Stewart style. We have high hopes that the Turkey will turn out a beautiful golden brown, that family will all get along and that laughter along with delicious pumpkin pie will ensue.
That we will all truly be thankful.
Sometimes life just doesn’t work out the way we hoped, especially during the holidays. The turkey is too dry, we burn the biscuits, we wonder why we’re the only one doing all the work, the stress levels in the kitchen are at an all time high and that one family member gets on our last nerve.
And then we lose it. Our frustrations boil over just like our mashed potatoes.
And so, as we approach this week of gratitude I would like to challenge you to focus on a different table setting. That of the last supper. There is so much we can glean from the scripture passage in John 13, and it stirs my heart. Who is sitting at your table? The focus in John 13 was not the food or even the fellowship. The focus was Jesus and the example He set for all of us as we sit down to our Thanksgiving meals.
I would like to leave you with five things to meditate on this week. It might seem lengthy, but if you choose to focus on one every day~ it’s a guarantee your Thanksgiving supper will be a happy one.
1. A gift in the gratitude~Jesus gave thanks despite knowing what was ahead. Despite the wicked betrayal in the heart of Judas, despite the foreknowledge of Peter’s denial, despite the coming abandonment of the disciples who professed their love for Him. (Luke 22:17-18, Matthew 26:26-27, Mark 14:22-23.) Maybe you are excited about Thanksgiving, or maybe you are stressing over it~ whatever your case may be, you can change your outlook by choosing to give thanks. There is so much to be thankful for, starting with our Savior. How could He possibly be thankful in that moment? And yet, He was. Emulate His gratitude. Find something to be thankful for every day leading up to the big day. A habitual heart that beats a thankful rhythm will not easily be dissuaded when faced with difficult circumstances or people. Look to Jesus and just be thankful.
2. A gift in the giving~ Jesus became a servant. He never complained, but in humble love washed His disciples feet~ even the feet of the one who would betray Him. (John 13:4&5) Prepare your heart to be a servant this Thanksgiving, even to those you feel don’t deserve it. Judas certainly didn’t deserve it, but that didn’t stop our Savior. Serving others should never be viewed as an unwanted duty. Choose to bless others by the love you put into that service. Determine not to have a grumbling heart, but instead a thankful servant’s heart that God can use. Have the heart of Jesus.
3. A gift in the guidance~Despite knowing Judas would betray Him, Jesus chose to love and serve him and told us that we should follow His example. (John 13:11, 14-15.) We are human, there will always be that one person that annoys us (because they are human too) despite the little idiosyncrasies that get on our last nerve, none of them compare to sitting at supper with Judas. As you sit to supper this Thanksgiving, remember Jesus example and His words to us in admonishing that we follow that example.
4. A gift in the getting~Jesus actually told us something simple, yet profound. By following His example we will in turn be blessed with happiness. (John 13:17.) Okay, who doesn’t want happiness during the holidays? Who doesn’t want to fall into bed at night after a wonderful meal and precious moments with family and friends on Thanksgiving, and have your heart full of happiness? It doesn’t have to be something we wish for. Happiness can be our reality this Thanksgiving if we put into practice the steps He outlined for us in His word. Become a servant of love.
5. A gift in the glorifying~The last thing I want to leave you with in preparation of your week ahead is the very gift you will give to others by following Jesus example. (John 13:31&32, 34&35) You will be loving others with a true servant’s heart and in the doing, that love will glorify God. Isn’t that the ultimate goal? It’s not about us. It’s not about the food or the Pinterest perfect table setting. It’s all about the joy in sharing the love of Jesus. It’s all about the happiness in the serving. It’s all about the glory of God.
Remember that Jesus is sitting at your table with you this Thanksgiving. He is all you will ever need in making beautiful God moments and memories. As I look back at that Thanksgiving so many years ago and the disaster that it was, it still holds precious memories to me. I can even laugh with my brothers at the events that holiday held and cherish the time spent with my mom and dad, who are no longer with us. Yes, there was a lot of serving, but there was also so much love; and the happiness my heart holds at the time we had together is one that I will treasure forever.
A gift in the gratitude. A gift in the giving. A gift in the guidance. A gift in the getting. A gift in the glorifying. All because of Jesus.
A Thanksgiving gift of God.
1 Thessalonians 5:18
Sometimes I look at my treadmill with disdain.
Sometimes, most times, I’d rather be eating a gallon of ice cream in bed.
Sometimes I’d rather be binge watching Netflix.
Sometimes I look at that grilled chicken and want that pizza and fudge. And more fudge.
Sometimes I want that Pepsi with the high fructose corn syrup.
Sometimes I want to sleep in.
Sometimes I don’t want to text or answer emails or phone calls.
Sometimes I don’t want to people or parent.
Sometimes I want to be alone.
Sometimes I feel all alone.
Sometimes I don’t want to teach and minister.
Sometimes I’m weary in well doing.
Sometimes I don’t want to pretend to be happy.
Sometimes I want to cry.
Sometimes my thoughts are dark and I question everything.
Sometimes I don’t want to do the hard.
And sometimes church is hard.
Sometimes I just want to slip into a pew unnoticed and be fed from God’s word without having to think.
Sometimes I just want to be.
I am a conundrum. I am told if I start something it will become a habit and eventually I will enjoy it. I have meticulously stuck to these habits for over a year.
Here are the results of all the enjoyment I find in performing said habits:
Getting up early. None
Running two miles every day. None
Eating healthy. None
Avoiding pop. None
I still want to sleep in. I don’t enjoy running. I’d rather eat those greasy French fries and I definitely want that large, ice cold Pepsi.
There are even times that I fall into the bad habit of skipping bible reading and prayer.
Again. And again.
Sleep seems like a better option.
Television and mindless scrolling feel like a lot less work.
And then I realize that my view of everything that should be a privilege to me, everything that is actually good for my body and soul is viewed in a messed up way. My feelings override my logic and steal my peace. I view too many things as work. I view too many things as hard. Jeremiah 17:9
I view too many things exactly like satan wants me too. And maybe you do too.
I’ve heard that phrase so often this week and it’s so true. Despite my grumbling and complaining, through His amazing grace He opens my eyes to the “beautiful” satan has hidden behind the word “hard”. Sometimes I don’t want to do all the things, but every time, every single time, I see God in each one. When I am weak (which is 99.999% of the time) His strength makes me strong.
From running on the treadmill and the happy endorphins I get afterward (because that’s how cool God created us), to grumbling as my alarm goes off but an hour later praising Him for all the promises His words gave me for the day, and all the peace my prayers to Him afforded me. From eating healthy and the good changes it causes in my hormonal imbalances and moods, to the energy it gives to run after my grandchildren as they tease “grandma you can’t catch me”.
From the introvert who doesn’t want to “people” to the beautiful task God has laid at my feet to be a pastor’s wife. To be able to share everything He has done for me. To feel my heart burst with love for my church family. To somehow be used of God to help others and in turn, the encouragement He speaks through them to my thirsty soul.
Isaiah 52:7, Romans 10:15
To be able to go to church.
Do the hard. Do the hard. Let me say it again.
DO. THE. HARD.
Sometimes you won’t want to,
most times you won’t want to,
but every time God will show up in His miraculous way. He will smile and He will say
“Let me show you again why you should be doing the hard things”.
Yes sometimes life is hard but if we don’t do the hard~ life would be SO. MUCH. HARDER.
God knows that. We’re just a little stubborn and lazy. We fall into our bad habits or greatly dislike our new ones. Deep down we realize that those bad habits do not bring happiness.
Let me encourage you today from someone with a little too much experience in this area, when you fall prey to your own “sometimes” look back to all the “every times” because that’s where God is. That’s where God always shows up. That’s where the miracles happen.
Do the hard.
He will never fail you because He is the God of
Every. Single. Time.
Hebrews 12:1-3, 1 Corinthians 9:24-27, 2 Timothy 4:7-8, 2 Corinthians 12:10
TO FALL IN LOVE ALL OVER AGAIN
I watched the young bride to be.
Two days before the “I do’s”.
The winds of work all around her. Like walking on water, her eyes fixed only on him.
Pure joy in the eyes that beheld her groom.
Unabashed love filled the heart that was his.
No care for the lack of helpers. Oblivious to the hard work her hands were doing, the many jobs before the big day, the late nights and lack of sleep.
11pm. Endless wedding chores had filled her day, and yet, she couldn’t wait to get home and talk to the love of her life. Sleep could wait.
And so I thought on my own marriage.
Those early years when he was the most important thing in the world to me and my love for him was much greater than my love for myself.
Time changes things.
Self pity gets the upper hand far too often.
Today I will remember.
Today I will choose to say “I do” again.
And then I thought about HIM, my Savior, and how often self has pushed Him aside. I remember when I first fell in love with Him so many years ago. That love has feigned. I was willing to do anything, go anywhere, serve wherever needed.
All with joy in my heart.
I would take on any responsibility in ministry,
all for the love of HIM,
and as the sun went down and stars illuminated the evening sky,
I was never too tired to talk to HIM.
There were no complaints about not getting help with the endless work ministry calls for,
because my great love for HIM was my motivation.
Like a young bride, my every breath held His name. My heart was totally His.
Somehow, too often along the journey, my joy gets lost in serving because I take my eyes off of HIM and turn them instead toward myself.
Today I will choose to say “I do” again. I will rekindle the love I lost. I will remember the day He filled my heart and left no room for self to squeeze in. I will love Him with my everything. I will serve Him entirely. I will rejoice in the joy only He can bring.
I will walk on water towards Him. My eyes only on Him. No self pity. No self love.
No complaints about all the others behind me in the boat that aren’t walking with me,
because all I need is HIM.
Yes, today I will say “I do” again.
“I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience....and for my name's sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted. Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love....Remember...”. Revelation 2:2-5
“Now the end of the commandment is charity (love) out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned:” 1 Timothy 1:5
“Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” I Corinthians 10:31
“That I see Him walking on the waves, no shore in sight, no success, no goal, just the absolute certainty that it is all right because I see Him walking on the sea. It is the process, not the end, which is glorifying to God. God’s end is to enable me to see that He can walk on the chaos of my life just now. If we have a further end in view, we do not pay sufficient attention to the immediate present: if we realize that obedience is the end, then each moment as it comes is PRECIOUS.” Oswald Chambers
~~On the cloudiest of days, when my soul is dark and my heart is thundering~ God will give me little snippets of unexpected sunshine...
Discouragement comes in many forms and often sets up camp in the deepest recesses of our hearts and minds. It’s a mental enemy that battles against us and gains it’s strength from every wayward thought our contrite heart imagines.
God uses the smallest things to remind us of His love, but we can often miss it because that enemy discouragement is clouding every bit of sunshine the Savior throws our way.
Sadly, many times encouragement is fleeting. It can often come in the smallest gesture of another, and change someone’s day completely.
God can use all of us in this battle against discouragement. He wants us to be on the front lines, fighting for Him.
He is tapping our shoulder.
He is whispering in our ear~
My child needs your words today.
They are hurting.”
But we brush it off. We make excuses. We’re too busy. We wouldn’t know what to say. We don’t even know that person.
And we walk away, not even realizing in the moment how desperately that person needed a word from a stranger, a smile, a hug.
My grandson Ethan saw a political sign in someone’s yard last week. He asked his daddy if someone placed the sign there to tell everyone~‘Have a good day!’ 😊
We are quick to speak on politics or our favorite sports teams. We put their signs in our yards and their jerseys on our backs. We are quick to speak our disapproval of others and the choices they make- and yet, too often, words of encouragement are absent from our vocabulary.
I cannot tell you the amount of times you, the reader, have encouraged me. When discouragement sneaks in and tells my wandering heart that it has no business speaking words of truth, God sends a warrior my way. Someone that otherwise would NEVER cross my path in my normal day to day activities.
It astounds me every single time.
He uses YOU to bless me.
And that brings tears to my eyes.
Let’s wear God’s words and outwardly show others the beautiful signs of our Saviors love~~
Speak those words, give that hug, send that card, bring that meal, say that prayer.
Shine like your Savior and lift someone up out of the depths of discouragement.
Be God’s warrior today.
There were a sea of faces all around me~ children my age.
Hands outstretched, waiting to be filled with tiny, tasty goldfish~ a picture of one of the many miracles of Jesus. The 5 loaves and 2 fishes.
Another day straw cowboy hats were given to every child. I can still remember the delicious smell of that straw as it filled the gymnasium.
We made crafts with popsicle sticks and learned the song~
“STOP and Let Me Tell You
What the Lord Has Done For Me”.
I was in awe of the STOP and GO signs the leaders held up as each verse was sung.
Everything was so foreign to me at the time.
But I remembered.
These are memories I have.
Pieces of a time in my life that wasn’t the norm for my family and wouldn’t be the norm until almost ten years later.
But God knew that. He was working in this little girl’s life before she could truly understand.
He was whispering to my heart~”let me introduce you to my Son.
One day, He will be your very best friend.”
Put aside the fact that for one brief week, I was in the same church my future husband attended.
Maybe he was one of the young boys handing out hats~ or fishes.
Maybe he sat next to me as we sang.
Maybe he even smiled at me.
We never attended that church again and yet, despite moving 4 different times to 4 different cities,16 years later I met him and married him.
God has a miraculous way of using everything in our lives. Everything in our children’s lives. Nothing is by chance. Nothing is an accident.
God introduced a little girl that knew nothing about Jesus, to His Son~
She was only in Kindergarten.
And she remembered.
Vacation Bible School.
God used all the workers that week, all the “behind the scenes” helpers, every craft,
and every prize.
It all mattered.
None of them will ever know the impact they made on my life that week, until someday we meet in heaven.
But it made a difference in this little girl’s heart.
And she remembered.
Vacation Bible School.
Don’t discount the importance of our children and the impact God’s word can have on their lives.
Every moment matters.
And 48 years later that little girl will start her 24th Vacation Bible School with her husband.
Joy will fill her heart as she looks into the eyes of each little child~
And she remembers.
I wanted to be Laura Ingalls Wilder. I also wanted to be Anne of Green Gables, Karana from Island of the Blue Dolphins and Jo from Little Women, but Laura started it all. She was my favorite. I can remember my mom reading to us kids every single night growing up. We would all brush our teeth, put our pajamas on and snuggle up next to her on the couch. When I was really little she would read a story from our Children’s Bible and as I got older she started reading Little House books to me. It all started with Little House In the Big Woods. My sweet mom took time out every night from the “busyness” of her day, an extra half hour she could have easily taken for herself, and she gave it to me. She would read one chapter as I snuggled under the blankets, dreaming I was Laura and as each chapter ended, I would always beg for one more. She would always smile and tell me “tomorrow night” as she kissed my forehead and I would fall asleep dreaming of The Big Woods and the adventures that came with it. We lived on a farm and I would pretend to be Laura whenever I played outside. I got lost in her story and every night was a sweet and special time with my mom. Just the two of us.
We were going through a lot in our family those years on that farm. A lot of heart ache. Perhaps my mom enjoyed getting lost in Laura’s life as much as I did but whatever her reason, it was a memory I continually cherish. God brought us out of the heart ache of those years and changed our lives, our family and our futures. As I look back, it amazes me that as my mother was going through her own heart ache she took the time for me. She didn’t stay in a closed bedroom alone, shutting us children out. She focused on us. She put us first despite her own tremendous heartache. At the time, as a child I didn’t understand the extent of it. As an adult, knowing what I know now, if I had been going through the same thing I am afraid I would be tempted to hide in my room and wallow in my tears, shutting everyone and everything out.
I still have my set of Little House books. They aren’t just books to me though. They’re a story of a time in my life that God used to change me and my outlook on handling terrible, heart wrenching situations. Yesterday marks 14 years that my mom has been gone now, but those times will live forever in my heart.
Focus on others no matter your circumstance. Whether it’s your children or husband, friends or even strangers. God can change your situation in an instant if He so chooses, in the mean time let your heart be lost in the lives of others. Trust your Father. Some days I still feel like that 8 year old little girl with her soft, blonde curls, lying on a pillow of dreams and wanting to escape into someone else’s story. Perhaps that’s exactly what we need to be doing ourselves. Escaping into someone else’s story by investing in someone else’s life. When we are able to do this, God replaces the pain from our own stories with a gentle, unexplainable peace. And pretty soon we will be begging God to read us the next chapter and know with excitement that it’s a chapter of promise. A chapter of new beginnings. A chapter of hope. I love you mom! 💕
I Peter 4:10 Acts 20:35 I Peter 4:10-11 Matthew 20:28
I've been reading a study on hospitality and have a very sad confession. I am not hospitable. I'm more like a hermit. This is an area in my life that needs a lot of work. I enjoy having people over for an hour or two, but then I'm ready for them to leave so I can put on my pajamas and chill out. In fact, I wouldn't mind never leaving my house. Yep, like a hermit. I use my shyness as an excuse when in reality, God has all the power in the world to help me overcome this. Too often I choose to stay in my little bubble. Hospitality is mentioned often in the Bible. I just read a devotional about a family that had missionaries stay with them for a month and all I could think was " I could never do that" and immediately felt conviction. Especially when God brought to my mind those who did it for me. When Mike and I felt led to look for a church for him to pastor, my parents opened their home to us and we moved in with our 4 children for almost a year. From there we moved to Caseville with the pastor and his wife and lived in the upstairs of the parsonage for 6 months. In my small, selfish mind I always looked at these times as "my poor family~no home, our things packed away in garages for a year and a half, our family crammed in tiny rooms..." it was always me, me, me. I never opened my eyes to the hospitality of these precious people. Both had kids that were long gone. Happy to have their own schedules and the quietness of home to themselves. And then total chaos moved in. Two young people who were excited about the ministry and future ahead, constantly babbling about ideas, along with 4 children all under the age of 6. Noise and fingerprints and fights and sickness, not to mention toys everywhere. The fact of the matter is, if we have accepted Christ's wonderful gift of salvation~ our amazing Father has opened His magnificent home to us, for eternity. This house I live in is not really my home, it's just a rental for my time here on earth. God gives us opportunities to share with others the comfort, peace and love we feel when we think of home. What a beautiful picture of what our heavenly Father has done for us. True comfort, true peace, true love can only be found in His presence. The mortgage has been paid in full on the cross and a home in heaven can be ours forever. What a lesson to be learned. Today is a good day for me to start my real estate training and open my eyes to those who need that comfort, peace and love that a home can bring. Mine can be just the beginning.