Second ‘Momspuration’ Post

I want to share with you my second post on Kristin Mitchell’s site: momspuration.com.  It’s a great website – full of encouragement for moms in all stages of life. You can also find her momspuration page on Facebook. Go ahead and ‘like’ it!

Here is the link to my most recent post: http://momspuration.com/2016/03/07/are-you-still-in-awe/

As always, I would love to hear from you!

No one I would rather write my story with

IMG_4308This man. I love him more than I ever thought I could. Okay – that’s corny, but I remember literally thinking on our wedding day, “How could I possibly love him more than I do today?”

For our wedding, I wrote a song entitled, “In His Plan” thanking God for creating us with each other in mind. A year ago, I wrote a new song for him in which the chorus begins with these lyrics: “There’s no one I would rather write my story with.” Ours has been my favorite love story thus far complete with four kids that I, with much self-admitted bias, find to be quite amazing.

I love that I get to parent side-by-side with him and watch him be a dad to those four amazing kids. He teaches our sons to be Godly men and models it as well. He treats our daughter like a princess, and is doing a good job of making it difficult for her to ever find a guy that compares to her father! He is an extremely wise man. Maybe more of a ‘wise guy’ sometimes…but his kids are truly blessed to have a father that they can go to anytime for wise advice. And they can go to him for so much more: assurance, assistance, allowance 😄, and most of all, unconditional love.

I love that he plays a lot of roles in his life, and he does it to the best of his ability while being principled and loyal. Roles such as husband, father, insurance agent/owner, coach, and more. As his wife, I can attest that his dedication to each role is second to none.

So is his ability to drive me crazy, and I’ve never hidden that fact from him! Being married for over 23 years gives a married couple many opportunities to do and say things that get on each other’s nerves. And although I could sometimes swear that some of his choices are made just to bug me, through the years I’ve come to respect the manner in which he approaches his endeavors. In other words, there may be times when I don’t agree with or even like a particular choice, but I certainly admire him for having well-thought-out reasons for his decisions and genuinely trying to make the decisions that best serve his family, friends, basketball players, and customers…depending on which hat he’s wearing for that particular decision. And when we face the numerous types of decisions that we must make together, we’ve developed a pretty darn respectful-of-each-other’s-views process that we go through.

I love that he’s a ‘Jesus-first. Family-second. All-else-third.’ type of guy. I love that he kisses me goodbye every morning before work. I love that I get to listen to him sing with the radio while I fake-sleep in the car. I love that he has a slightly weird obsession with the upkeep of our yard. I love that he loves to cook and grill and try new recipes. I love that we both love spending time together, and that we still make each other laugh like no one else does. I love that we’ve tackled some tough marriage and parenting issues together, and it’s brought us closer to each other instead of driving us apart. I love that we start many days off by praying with each other. Nothing helps someone see inside the heart of their spouse like seeking God’s will together in prayer. I love that he’s a man of integrity, that he’s a hard-worker, that he’s gorgeous, and that he’s mine. I love that God created us with each other in mind.

I’m assuming he will continue to sometimes drive me crazy until the end of time. To be perfectly honest, I’m good with that, because there’s no one I would rather write my story with. Good, bad, and crazy chapters and all.

 

Jesus Prayed for Unity

IMG_5737Jesus Christ prayed to His Heavenly Father for unity.

John 17:20b-23 reveals that unity in the body of Christ was one of His most heartfelt desires! “I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— 23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”

If Christians agree on the major things: how we get to heaven, how we become more like Jesus, and how we treat others accordingly…then is there really a place for bickering about the minor things? Is there a proper time for condescending social media posts?  If we are supposed to strive to be like Jesus, (Come on, Friends, that is one of the ‘majors’) then talking about or to a fellow Christian in a rude manner should not even be a possibility! If we engage in behavior that brings about division in the body of Christ, then we are conducting ourselves in direct conflict with Jesus’ prayer!

There have been some ‘minor’ concepts that I have seen Christians attack each other for just recently: ‘Which version of the Bible do we read?’ If we get asked that question at the pearly gates, and we say anything other than King James, I’m 100% sure that we’ll be allowed to stay. I believe getting to know Him through His Word is so much more important to Him than which version we use to do it. I also think that the Holy Spirit is really good at orchestrating the way in which the Word is received and taken in. What about the age-old crisis of whether we sing hymns, praise choruses, or a healthy mixture of both during our worship services? I firmly believe that God loves it when we worship Him. Period. He loves to hear us bless His name, and His concern is not whether we do it in a modern, traditional, upbeat, or non-upbeat sort of way. His concern is if we worship Him with sincerity. We do sing for Him, about Him, to Him, and of HIM, not us, right?  If we can’t ‘get’ in the worship ‘mood’ because the music isn’t our style…then we are forgetting the true meaning of worship and who it is about.

Other issues on the minor list, such as drinking an occasional glass of wine, getting a tattoo, immersion vs. sprinkling, listening to heavy-metal music, and going to a rated-R movie can all be points of division, and maybe our thoroughly-thought-out reasons that we are for or against these hot-topics are worth fighting for, in our opinion. Then again, maybe arguing with someone about a minor point in Christianity, even while using our well-thought-out rationales, would be in complete opposition to what our Savior desires.

There will be times we are led to express our Biblical views on the major issues…like whether Jesus died on a cross, rose again, and whether our soul’s eternal destination depends on our decision to accept His gift of eternal life. I will go to my grave defending God and His brilliant plan. After all, His plan of salvation is what we are put on this earth to share with others.

But the minor ones? Let’s keep them that way. Let us celebrate our similarities with other Christians and spend time worshipping our awesome God together in unity! And then, because we are Christians that pursue harmony with other Christians, we will be an answer to Jesus’ prayer. Wow. We can be a part of an answer to Jesus’ prayer. Did I say, “wow” yet? What a blessing it is when we help in bringing about what Jesus prayed for.

New Year, New Prayer

Typically, as the new year arrives, we spend time thinking about what we want to carry forward and what we want to leave behind. We think about the things that we want to ‘start anew.’

It’s a new year full of new opportunities. As I grow older, I grow more and more thankful that I serve a God that makes all things new. Every time we see a sunrise, we can see it as a magnificent reminder that His mercies are new every morning. (Lam. 3:22-23)

I recently read 2 Corinthians 5:14-17 with a new perspective: “For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that One died for all, and therefore all died. And He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for Him who died for them and was raised again. So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”

This year, may Christ’s love compel me to pray a new prayer.

Lord, may Your love compel me to act and react as you would: with an extra measure of compassion, grace, mercy, and love.

Lord, may Your love compel me to look at others with Your eyes of love and see a potential bloom where others see a withering flower.

Lord, may Your love compel me to forgive people for offenses when the world tells me I’m justified in wallowing in self-pity, holding a grudge, or even seeking revenge. May Your love compel me to be the one with which bitterness ends and understanding begins. You don’t have a list of requirements, a test we must pass, or a list of grudges that You hold until your good and ready to forgive. You forgive us readily, rapidly, and repeatedly. Arms open wide. Eyes full of mercy. Heart full of grace. May Your love compel me to forgive as You do.

Lord, may Your love compel me to radically reach out to people that I wouldn’t ordinarily extend myself to – knowing that Your Holy Spirit will lead me if I allow Him to.

Lord, may Your love compel me go the extra mile, put forth the extra effort, and do all to the glory of You. May the way I use the gifts You gave me reveal how much You mean to me. May what I spend my time on reveal how much You mean to me. May where I put my resources reveal how much You mean to me. May my life’s pursuits be all about You.

Lord, may Your love open my eyes to the opportunities You place in my life daily in which to reflect Your character to a world that is hurting, cynical, and worn-out. A world that needs You…A world full of people divided on whether they need You or not.

May my actions, reactions, behavior, and words, point them in the direction of You. Point them in the direction of realizing that You are fully worth seeking and serving; fully worth loving and living for. May the praises from me to You let You know that I believe that You are worthy, oh so more-than-worthy, of living every moment and every day for.

Lord, may Your love be seen through me. May it overflow, and may someone see You through that overflow…and may they see that You are worth starting anew with, for, and alongside.

In Your precious, perfect name I pray.

Amen

 

 

 

Indescribable Love

“God loves you just the way you are, but He refuses to leave you that way. He wants you to be just like Jesus.” Max Lucado

God doesn’t love the best version of you. He doesn’t love the you that you ‘present’ to others or to Him. He loves you just the way you are.

There’s no, “Let me get myself together, out of this mess, over this bump in the road, or through this problem first. Then He’ll love me. Then I’ll be worth loving.” There’s the you that’s in the here and now, warts and all, plagued with problems, swimming in sin, and marked by mistakes. That’s the you He loves. That’s the you He sent His Son to die for.

Allow me to state the obvious. He doesn’t love all the choices you make. He doesn’t love the sin that you decide to partake in, but He certainly loves you. He loves the you that you are and the you that He sees that you can be. He loves you in the midst of poor decisions when we seemingly shake our figurative finger in His face and say, “I know, God. I know You created me, love me, have a plan for my life, and give me ways out of these tempting and sinful situations in order for me to stay in Your will and be blessed, but I have decided to reject the right decision in this situation. I have decided that my way is better. I’ll take it from here. Well, mostly, I’ll take it from here, until I run into trouble. Then I’ll call on You again, and You’ll be there…because that’s who You are. Amazing. Persistent. Loving. Merciful. Forgiving.” It’s a bit pathetic. We say things similar to this and He loves us through it. He’s that Father watching for the prodigal son…the One that watches for him and runs toward him. You and I are that son that has a Heavenly Father that sprints toward us waiting for us to invite Him to walk alongside us every step of the way. That, my friends, is love defined.

We can make a meager attempt to describe the extent to which He loves us, but it won’t suffice. His love is truly indescribable. His faithfulness reaches the skies, His ways are above our ways, and His love surpasses our knowledge. We really need to comprehend that we will never comprehend how much God loves us!

His love for you includes the love He has for the you that He has made it possible for you to be! He doesn’t create you with a plan for your life and then leave you high and dry while you search for His will. He shines the light in front of you in order for you to see the next step; the step that will keep you on or get you back onto His path.

He has a plan for us to use His gifts that He so generously gives to us in order to love others and show others the way to Him. It’s the least we can do for a Father that loves us so.

You are loved just the way that you are by a God that refuses to leave you that way. May this be the year that you feel that love in a tangible way. May this be the year you share that genuine love with all you encounter. And may 2016 be the year that your actions, words, and choices are truly motivated, moved and molded by that indescribable love.

What Will You Do With The Gift?

I would like for you to imagine telling someone there is a gift waiting for them with their name on it. Imagine telling them this particular gift will renew their perspective, remind them of their priorities, and reveal their purpose. Now, imagine if that person said, “Wow, that gift sounds awesome! How wonderful to have access to that!”…and then they proceed to ignore it? They decide to leave it unopened. Would you be outraged? Shocked? Puzzled, at the very least?

If that gift was offered to you, would you ignore it and allow it to remain wrapped? No way!

But we all do it! We leave one of our most beautiful treasures unopened. Friends, we’ve been given a gift beyond words: a love letter from the Originator of Love. A Holy Book filled with love, lessons, and life. Literally!

The Bible reminds us who we are, whose we are, and how we can live in a way that communicates God’s life-saving message to others. While reading His Word, we are given the gift of being in His presence and hearing His voice speaking directly to us.

When it comes to the gift of His Word, why do we sometimes pretend it’s not there? Why do we dismiss it as an unimportant aspect of our Christian walk?

Sometimes the thought is, “The Bible is hard to understand.” Yes, some parts ARE difficult to grasp. Remember, we serve a God whose ways are above our ways! That doesn’t mean we should avoid His Word. Instead, that can be one of the reasons we strive to read His Word more often – to get to know Him better.

I have heard people say the Old Testament is boring or that it does not relate to today’s world. However, as I’ve begun to see the historical relevance, the way in which the Old Testament and New Testament completely intertwine, and the character of God revealed through the ‘pre-Jesus’ time of the world, I have come to love that part of Scripture!

I would be lying if I said that the quality and quantity of my Bible-reading time is what it should be. But let me say that the times in my life when I have taken the time to delve into the Bible and take His Words to heart, I have been able to hear Him speaking to me much more clearly.

While regularly reading our Bible will not mean that our life will become peaceful and free from hardship, our ability to deal with those messy life circumstances will improve immensely.

Our focus will no longer be the problem. It will instead be the One who is bigger than the problem. We will become less concerned about what the world thinks of us, and instead be more enthralled by what God thinks of us. He delights in us and rejoices over us. We will discover a generous amount of beautiful truths such as those when we open our Bible.

When my husband and I give our children a gift, their thankful reactions and smiles bring us happiness. Imagine the happiness we bring our Heavenly Father when we unwrap His Inspired Word – the happiness we bring Him when we see, experience, and thank Him for such an indescribable gift. May today be the day we open His gift and marvel in it!

He Sings Over You

This isn’t technically a blog post…it is a recent song that I wrote that I want to share with you!

This photo was taken at my senior recital in 1993 at Northern State University. I still remember how loved and valued I felt when my SAI sisters and SAI advisor/voice teacher followed our organization’s tradition by surrounding me and ‘singing over me.’ It was a beautiful song sung by beautiful voices that left me with a beautiful memory.

Zephaniah 3:17 is a verse that has always intrigued me…it says, “The Lord your God is in your midst, The Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.” The entire verse is an incredible picture of who God is, but the part that I can’t get over is that He sings over us. It’s so intimate; so meaningful. Our God loves us and values us in a beautiful way. That’s what this song in the attached video (including my daughter singing with me -yay!!) is about.

YouTube link: https://youtu.be/rrC5nYEArEA

Lyrics:  Singing Over You

Feeling alone again in a crowd; sick and tired of being left out. When tears start falling, I pray you’ll hear Him calling. May you believe His Word to be true: that your God is singing over you.

I see you questioning again, “When will this feeling ever end?” His arms are open. Bring to Him a heart that’s broken. May you believe His Word to be true: that your God is singing over you.

Your Heavenly Father takes delight in who you are. He draws you closer, and He heals your wounds and scars. Give Him praise. He is the God who saves, and He renews your strength. May today be the day that you hear His glorious song.

May His perfect love overwhelm you. May you believe me when I tell you: Your God loves just the way you are, and He sees who you can be. His love transforms us amazingly.

Your Heavenly Father takes delight in who you are. He draws you closer, and He heals your wounds and scars. Give Him praise. He is the God who saves, and He renews your strength. May today be the day that you hear His glorious song.

Over you – His glorious song.  Over you – His glorious song.

He’s Still There

IMG_7933The presence of trouble does not mean the absence of God.

When I have come up against something difficult, or when life has not worked out the way I planned, I have been guilty of throwing my arms up in despair and questioning God on His whereabouts, as if He bailed on me.

As if the God of the universe, the God who literally promises to be with us at all times, bailed on me.

“And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20b)
“for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6b

He’s still there. Maybe the problem that’s breaking my heart isn’t getting solved immediately or soon, or anywhere near as quickly as I hoped. Maybe the darkness seems to be getting even darker. However, even if I don’t see Him ‘working on my problem’, He’s still working in my life. He may be sending people into my path with smiles of encouragement, a compliment, or a friendly hello. He may be gently prodding me toward a particular passage in Scripture with words that apply to my current situation. He may be solving another problem and allowing peace to come into my life in a different area. He may be preparing other people in other ways that we have no idea about because there are certain steps that need to take place before the problem gets ‘solved.’

His ways ARE higher than our ways…His way of working in our situation is superior to our idea that we would like Him to implement, no matter how brilliant it may be!

I know in those difficult times when I’ve lost any amount of patience, joy, or peace in my life, there are some profound and lovely things that I’ve gained in the process:
1. compassion for others going through the same types of problems.
2. the blessing of seeing beauty come from ashes, as only God can do.
3. perseverance in my faith, which produces character, and character, which produces hope.
4. a reminder of Who is in control.
and the list could go on and on.

While I’ve never heard God speak in an audible voice…I’ve undoubtedly felt His voice impressed upon my heart. I’ve heard the whisper of His Holy Spirit comforting me, assuring me, “Child, I’m still here.” “It’s going to be okay.” “Hang on.”

This past Easter, I was reminded of a very powerful fact in a very powerful way: Long ago, the world saw the Son of God placed into a tomb; the Light of the World was cruelly taken away. Fast forward just a couple of days…when things were the darkest they had ever been and despair was at an all-time high…the very next moment when Jesus rose again was when the brightest, most brilliant light had ever radiated throughout the world.

He was there.

No matter what you are going through, He is there.

The presence of trouble does not mean the absence of God.

Seek His Face

IMG_5737

How often have you sought God’s face?

In the Bible, there are clear examples that instruct us that it should be a priority in our lives!

Look to the LORD and his strength; seek His face always. Psalm 105:4
My heart says of you, “Seek His face!” Your face, LORD, I will seek. Psalm 27:8

And this oft-quoted verse from the Bible:
If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14

Will you go through those four steps with me?
1. Humble themselves. Check. Yeah, I’m pretty good at that humbling myself thing… 😉
2. Pray. Check. (True story – my prayer life has improved in quality and quantity since I saw the movie ‘War Room,’ which is a movie I recommend. End of plug for the movie.) But…I AM going to put in an extra plug for increasing the quantity and quality of time that we spend with our Heavenly Father in prayer. You’ll hear from Him in a way that you haven’t before…and battling from our knees is our strongest position.
3. Seek my face. Che…wait. what? What’s seeking His face about?

We may remember the joy it brought us when we stared into our child’s eyes the first time they were placed in our arms. We may remember the joy of early days of catching our loved one’s eye when we first realized we were interested in each other. Seeing our loved one’s face so that we can get more of a sense of what they are really feeling, or so that we can offer them a supportive, understanding look is one of the most important aspects of communication in any relationship. These moments take place when we are focused completely on each other. I’m guessing I am correct when I say that many of us have a desire to gaze into the eyes of our loved ones in order to know them better…in order to become closer to them. What a joy it is when we reach that sense of intimacy in our relationships.

So what about seeking God’s face? Doesn’t He deserve time from us that is completely focused on Him? We can’t literally focus on His face, but we can focus on His Word and His Presence – in other words….His face…who He is! We would most certainly grow in our relationship with Him. We would hear from Him in a clear way, and we would be granted more of a vision of our role in His plan for our lives. Our relationship would reach a new level of intimacy as we seek HIs face. The amount of joy in our lives would reach a new level as well!

4. 4th item in the list…turn from their wicked ways. If we are genuinely seeking His face, then wouldn’t we long to turn from our wicked ways?

In that verse, the last part reads: ‘I will forgive their sin and heal their land.’ Need I say more? If a majority of believers resolved to follow steps 1 through 4, can you imagine the incredible results we would experience?

What’s stopping us from seeking God’s face wholeheartedly? In His Word, He tells us to seek His face! That is reason enough, but just think: fixing our gaze on a God that loves us the way He does would bring about results that are worth experiencing. We would get to know Him in a whole new way!

Will you seek His face with me today? Oh, the joy that awaits us when we gaze into the eyes of our Heavenly Father!

What Do You Know?

In this world, there have always been and will always be events and happenings that we simply cannot understand and explain this side of heaven.

When my son, Brady, was a little boy, there were nights he struggled to quiet his ever-wondering mind. Through the years, there were nights I wondered if his mind was allowing his body to get much-needed rest! He would call me and/or his father, Darren, to his bedroom to share with us what was on his mind and was preventing him from going to sleep. He looked at us with his big blue eyes, seeking an answer. Sometimes we had one. Unfortunately, sometimes he stumped us, and the answer was, “I don’t know.” He started a mental list of questions he was going to be sure to ask God when he meets him in heaven. 🙂

In trying times, when your mind is trying to process and understand the unknown, you may have some sleepless nights asking God for answers. Maybe you’ve also made a mental list of questions to ask God when you someday see Him face to face.

In the last few years, I’ve been trying to shift my mind’s focus from the unanswered questions to what I know for sure. I do know that God loves me with an indescribable love. I do know that God is in control. I do know that God has a plan for my life, and that He wants me to trust Him on that.

A few years ago, I wrote a song entitled, “Perfect Love,” in which the lyrics of the chorus state: “I don’t know why bad things happen, and I don’t know the answers to the questions that are plaguing you. But I do know the One with all the answers, and I do know that He loves you, and He loves me, and He wants us to trust in His love; His unchanging, unfailing, all-knowing, perfect love.”

Focusing on a God that loves us with an unchanging, unfailing, all-knowing, perfect love instead of focusing on trying to figure out why we are in the midst of a difficult situation will certainly bring His peace to our troubled mind.

Focusing on a mental list of things that we know for sure can give us strength to face the next difficult situation with an assurance that we can convey to others. In this unpredictable world, that mental list can certainly help us feel anchored when the waves are threatening to overtake us and send us reeling in a sea of doubt and confusion.

I’m praying for you today. I’m praying that God overwhelms you with His Holy Spirit’s presence, perspective, and peace, and that you will see how amazing it is to rely on the constant Rock of Ages in this uncertain world.

I’m especially praying that when you face your next unknown, and all the “why” questions attempt to intimidate your peace of mind, your new mental list of things you know for sure comes to the forefront. May God’s indescribable love for you be at the very top, and may that fact always bring you rest.

 

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