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

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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.

 

A Little? Advice

Your romance with the ‘girl next door’ began with backyard baseball in 1999. It may have cooled off for quite a few years, but for the last 5 years it reignited. You’ve now navigated together through high school graduations, living far apart, living close together, college athletics, college classes and much more.

And now wedding planning is in full swing.

For you, looking forward to a wedding in June is exciting and fun with some moments of “Why do we need to worry about this detail?” mixed in. And you’ve joked (kind of) about letting you know the time and date and you’ll be there, because the details of colors, food, seating, dress fabrics, bouquets, centerpieces, and punch cups just do not interest or concern you. Well, actually anyone that knows you can definitely attest to the fact that the food details interest and concern you, but besides that, other aspects aren’t going to get you very riled up.

Marriage is also exciting and fun with some moments of “Why do we need to worry about this detail?” mixed in. Marriage is a whole different ball game on a whole different level. It’s an all-in, 100% endeavor of caring about your spouse’s welfare and health and happiness more than you ever, ever thought you were even capable of, and yes, caring about seemingly inconsequential and small details simply because your spouse cares about them. It’s making a lifelong vow to weather the storms together that will inevitably come your way.

You’re old enough to know that there have been times through the years that I have not ‘felt’ undying, passionate, blissful love toward your father. And you’re old enough to know that there may have possibly?? been times that he hasn’t ‘felt’ that love toward me….But, a critical aspect of true love is knowing that you will sometimes not FEEL 100% in love, and that it’s not a horrible thing. It should not send you into a panic, because loving someone is not always a feeling! It’s a decision, it’s action, and it’s commitment. And when you follow through with making a decision to show love, taking action that displays love, and choosing commitment to act in love…the feeling follows.

Here are three more unsolicited pieces of advice that I want to clue you in on before you say, “I do.”
1. Know that affirming your wife’s beauty, intelligence, unique God-given talents and personality is a smart and necessary facet of marriage…not because she’s needy, but because she’s human.
2. Know that if you strive to love Jesus with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength, then loving her with the love that God planned for marriage to consist of will extend from that.
3. Know that God will extend a special kind of blessing if you pray with and for each other.

As far as your dad offering advice? Well, if you want advice on how to just listen to your wife’s problems without trying to solve them, umm, yeah don’t go to him for that. And good grief, do NOT go to him for advice on how to hang up clothes and keep your side of the closet clean. But if you want advice on how to make your wife feel like she’s the most important person in the room or on the planet, he’s your man. And if you want advice on putting God first, family second, and all else third, your father is THE guy. He happens to be a fantastic, Godly husband.

Tyler, I have a whole bunch of confidence in your ability to become a fantastic, Godly husband as well! I’ve loved you like crazy since I knew you existed, and I’ve been blown away by your true determination, bold faith in Christ, and sincere desire to encourage others to reach their potential. Those qualities are going to bode well for marriage. Your fiancé is faith-filled, talented, and driven, and I foresee an amazing life together for you two! I’m so happy that the path you two travelled led you to each other. You are on your way to an adventure that you’ll love, with a woman that you love, following a God that you both love.

End of unsolicited advice. Most likely. 🙂

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What Are You Thinking?

Memorizing has never been my strong suit. I clearly recall a heart-racing, sweaty palm, knot-in-my-stomach sensation that occurred during my senior recital in 1993 when my mind went blank during one of the songs. Fortunately, when I opened my mouth the right word did come out…that time. There were a few times when I wasn’t that fortunate.  By the way, that song was by Mozart and was entitled, “Alleluia,” and the lyrics to that song were, “Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia…” Well, you get the picture.

Memorizing Bible verses has been somewhat of a trial as well. I can usually remember fragments, ideas, and phrases, but to put them all together correctly has been difficult for me. However, for some reason, there is a verse that has always been ingrained in my mind since I was young. “May the words from my mouth and the thoughts from my heart be acceptable to you, O LORD, my rock and my defender.” Psalm 19:14. I learned it one year at Bible camp and it’s been special to me ever since.

There is a verse that has struck me lately as one that is definitely worth memorizing. It also deals with our thoughts. “Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” Philippians 4:8. Up until now, I would have been lying if I said that I had spent time thinking about a verse that tells us to put thought into what we are thinking about! On its surface, one may read it and automatically picture people frolicking and skipping in meadows full of wildflowers acting as if life is perfect. However, there is much more to this verse. Through His Word, we are being told that what we think about is completely in our control. Wait, what? Aren’t we held captive to the thoughts that enter our mind? No, I don’t actually believe that, but I would also be willing to bet that most, if not all of us, have been heard to utter sentences similar to this: “I can’t stop thinking about it.” or “I can’t sleep because I can’t turn my mind off.” I admit to making both of these statements in the past. But aren’t statements like this another way of saying that our thoughts control us? Okay, can I just say in a loving, Christ-like fashion, “Knock. It. Off!”? Friends, we are in control of our thoughts! We read in 2 Corinthians 10:5b, “…and take every thought captive to obey Christ,” Other versions say to “take prisoner, take hold of, and capture.” Any way one looks at it, the Bible is telling us to take strong action concerning the thoughts we allow ourselves to think! I’m boldly saying it’s a decision. When things get hard, we often decide it’s not worth trying anymore. But, can I encourage you to not give up on thinking thoughts that are acceptable to God? I firmly believe that making a decision to stop thinking thoughts that God isn’t the author of, and deliberately changing them to a prayer or an image of something positive is something we successfully do by acting with resolve, perseverance, and prayer.

What kinds of thoughts am I referring to? The simple answer is: Thoughts that aren’t true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, or admirable – just like the verse says. The more specific answer would be: negative thoughts about ourselves, thoughts concerning temptations and sin, thoughts about regrets of the past, and fretting about possible future situations. These are the things that can keep us up at night.
1. Negative thoughts about ourselves. Just think about what your life might start to look like if you would see yourself in the truth of God’s perspective instead of your feelings about yourself. If that means you would benefit from having Stuart Smalley moments of audibly repeating, “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough and doggone it, people like me,” into a mirror, then so be it. (If you aren’t familiar with that Saturday Night Live reference, sorry. 🙂 Check YouTube!) God created you, and God is good at what He does. Therefore, your thoughts about yourself should be limited to truth. What God says about you is truth. What your emotions and feelings say about you? Not so much.
2. Thoughts concerning temptation and sin. Sin doesn’t begin with an action. It doesn’t begin with fleeting thoughts. It begins when we choose to let thoughts park in our minds, rather than just pass through. For instance, I have a difficult time imagining that cheating on one’s spouse happens without fixing one’s mind on thoughts that God does not endorse. What if instead of thinking about what we see as inadequacies of our spouse, and the imagined potential of someone that we haven’t made vows to being able to fulfill us where we feel a void, we fixed our thoughts on praying for our marriage, our spouse, and for ways to contribute to the marriage in a way that would help insure its longevity and health? What if? What if we would begin to realize that the voids we feel in our lives can only be filled by Jesus? Not by another person in the case of an affair, or by merchandise in the case of stealing, or by status in the case of lying? Don’t all sins begin with thoughts not endorsed by God? We allow ourselves to lose control of our thoughts and sooner or later we are convinced that those thoughts are more important than our relationship with Jesus Christ and worth putting into action. Worth stepping out of God’s will for. How many heartaches could be prevented if we refused to dwell on sinful thoughts?
3. Thoughts about regrets of the past. Can we change the past? No. Can we change our perspective on it? Yes. Can we choose not to obsess about unfortunate decisions we’ve made or awful situations we’ve been put in by others? Absolutely! It may start with forgiving ourselves for something that God has already forgiven us for or by releasing a person that has hurt us to God. Whatever the starting point is, we just have to continue to continue to continue to think ‘excellent and praiseworthy’ thoughts. Leaving the past in the past is a gigantic step toward living a life of freedom that Christ desires for us.
4. Fretting about possible future situations. I have seen people become consumed with the ‘what ifs’ of life; the future that is definitely out of our control. However, our thoughts should be completely taken over by the present and what we have control over! ‘Seize the Day’, ‘This is Your Moment’, This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it’, whichever motto you want to embrace, it starts with what we choose to think about! Matthew 6:34 says, “Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.” It’s truly a trust issue. When your thoughts are overcome by wondering what is going to happen and worry becomes overwhelming, think back to the numerous times that God has been faithful, and trust Him to work out your situation once again!

One more thing…in the very next verse; Philippians 4:9, the Bible says, “Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me–everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.” To be honest, I am often that gal that’s seeking peace, because I sometimes allow myself to become overwhelmed with, well, life. And here right in front of me in this verse is a way that I can be assured of having God’s peace and presence! “…Then the God of peace will be with you.” If we fix our minds on God-authored positive thoughts, and strive to put into practice what we’ve learned about God, He shows up in a very amazing way: by granting us peace. Two verses earlier in Philippians 4:7, His peace is said to “exceed anything we understand.” Now that’s a passage worth memorizing about a peace worth seeking from God, Who is oh-so-worth serving. God, may we fix our thoughts on You and all that is worthy of praise.

My First Pregnancy, My Faithful God, and My Firm Stand

My first pregnancy did not end with me giving birth. It ended early-on in a hospital with me in tears just days before Christmas surrounded by well-meaning medical personnel that continued to call my miscarried baby a gestational sac and gestational tissue, a doctor with a less-than stellar bedside manner, my husband that was as heartbroken as I was, and my supportive family that was gathering for a Christmas celebration. Hardly how I pictured it… I’ve thought back to that day often, and I get it. I mean, I guess I get it…I get that quite possibly, people that work in hospitals make a subconscious or conscious decision to avoid referring to unborn babies as…babies. Maybe the loss of life is easier for them to deal with that way. And I would guess that they think that it makes it easier for patients to navigate through the loss if they aren’t thinking about the miscarriage as a death.  I would imagine that using the terms ‘loss of tissue’ or ‘no gestational sac present’ are their attempts at trying to prevent us from going through the stages of grief.

I spent the next several months being bitter. I had worked through my sadness and proceeded right to anger. First it was anger at myself because I was convinced I had done something to cause the miscarriage. Then it was anger at God. If I had done something to cause it, He was God and He certainly could’ve reversed it…He could’ve saved our baby. He knew my husband and I were ecstatic about being parents. How dare He take this baby away? Yep, I said those words to the Creator of the Universe. I looked upward, right up to the sky and screamed, “How dare you!” Looking back on that moment and the bitterness I harbored for quite some time afterward, I sometimes think, “Wow, God, it takes a lot of nerve for an almost 22 year-old woman to challenge Your sovereignty. Thank You from the bottom of my heart for being patient with me and lovingly waiting for me to realize there was no one to blame.” I wasted a lot of time being mad at God when I could’ve spent that time being comforted and held by Him instead.

While I attended college, I occasionally volunteered at a prolife location where I manned the phone, read pregnancy tests, and was a listening ear. One couple came in and asked for a pregnancy test to confirm what they were 99.9% sure of. When the results came back positive and they openly discussed not being ready financially or emotionally to be parents, I followed my informal protocol and reached for the models of babies in the various stages of pregnancy. I will never ever forget the look in their eyes. They stared at the plastic image of an unborn baby at the estimated age of the one inside her body. The young man gasped, and his next words, “it’s really a baby” will forever be etched in my mind. At that moment, something clicked with them and they realized her visible baby bump was in fact, a baby.  Society has told us something else: it’s a gestational sac, a clump of cells, and an inconvenience. Guess what, Society: I’m done. I am done tolerating that terminology and especially that mindset. It IS a baby. It is a BABY. I will never apologize for saying the truth of the sanctity of human life has been cruelly ripped from our world and replaced with a lie that says until a baby is born, it’s not worthy of being called a human or being treated as one.
The recent Planned Parenthood videos bring to light the inhumane manner in which we have decided it is acceptable to view an unborn child. The Pro-PlannedParenthood group wants us to focus on the so-called secretive way in which the videos were recorded. Seriously? That’s what we should be concerned about? The part of the videos that I find troublesome is the entire content of the videos. How unbelievably cold can those shown in the videos be? They talk about babies as if they are as trivial as the salad they are munching on while negotiating prices for human organs.

I sympathize with those that are not ready to provide their child with the home and upbringing that they believe a child would thrive in. Whether it be financially or emotionally or in some other way that they see the position they are in as inadequate, there are people with open arms that are more than ready to love that child right into their adoptive family. There ARE other options when an unplanned pregnancy moves into the territory of being an unwanted pregnancy. Would you agree with me that finding ways to make options more available to women facing unplanned pregnancies is a mission worth pursuing? We can step up with prayer, with finances, with counsel, with open arms, and with all of the above. Not just saying something, but actually doing something. While I don’t have all the answers to the ‘unwanted pregnancy’ dilemma, dare I say that if our world truly began to act again as if human life at all stages is amazingly valuable and precious, some of those questions would be answered naturally. And for those that have chosen the abortion route, there is real forgiveness given by a God that wants to wrap you in his arms, take the emptiness and sadness away and replace it with His joy and His peace. Nothing compares to God-given joy. Nothing compares to God-given peace.

When our children were young, because of certain questions they had asked us, we explained to them that our first child “died while still in Mommy’s tummy.” I don’t know if my son, Tyler, remembers that as a young boy, he came to me and requested that we name his older brother, Kevin. He very sweetly wanted me to know that his older sibling, whom he never met, mattered to him. I will always cherish that moment as one that displayed his compassion and the value that he placed on human life. Side note: apparently, he had decided that his older sibling was a boy! I agreed to the name, knowing that when I meet my oldest child in heaven, there’s a 50% chance I’ll feel the need to apologize to my daughter for referring to her as Kevin. 😉

Social media will make certain that we remember Cecil the Lion. Yes, he was created by God and was quite majestic, and we should be looking for ways to protect and respect God’s creation. However, more importantly can we please remember Kevin who was knit together by the very hand of God? Can I quite candidly ask you to go to a higher ‘level’ of remembrance and respect for humans? I know I’m asking you to be politically incorrect. I know that asking you from a blog to be or do anything can seem quite comical and naive. But, friends, we are engaged in a battle whether we signed up for one or not. Your God, the One that fearfully and wonderfully created every human, is being questioned. His wisdom, His plan, and His omnipotence – all of it – is being attacked. If that’s not a cause worth fighting for, I don’t know what is.
Human life at all stages is precious beyond words. Look outside your window at God’s creation. The beauty of the trees, mountains, wildlife, landscapes, and sunsets is absolutely breathtaking. Now I’m going to be direct and say that God went above and beyond on purpose when He exquisitely designed humans. He is a Master Designer carrying out a Master Plan in which humans have the opportunity to live in a loving, close-knit relationship with Him. Will you boldly proclaim, knowing that God is on your side on this issue, that it is time for the sanctity of human life to be made known and fought for? The value we place on human life dictates every decision that we make. Please boldly fight for, and please place unequalled value on ALL human life. God does.

As it turns out, we really don’t have to forgive everyone…

As it turns out, we really don’t have to forgive everyone.

I have knelt at an altar, placing the names of people at His feet. I have felt anger and betrayal, and if I told you each story, I’m willing to bet you would agree that I’m justified in feeling wronged in at least a few of the situations.

But, I have had to remind myself of something very important: There have been people kneeling at literal and figurative altars placing ME at the feet of Jesus. I’ve wronged people. Sometimes I had the best of intentions, but unfortunately did something to hurt another person. 

And other times? I just got it wrong. No, let me use the real word – I sinned. And therefore sent someone directly to an altar trying to forgive me, or sadly, directly in the opposite direction – where bitterness increases and peace is elusive. That place where we go to not lay people at the feet of Jesus, asking God to give us the ability to forgive them, but instead where we justify our feelings of betrayal and anger. That place where we dwell in a heap of self-destructive self-righteousness.

We are ALL sinners saved by amazing grace. Who are we to keep forgiveness from someone else?

We put others on a mental list entitled, “Not worthy of forgiveness,” while we couldn’t imagine our own names being on it. Do we truly think we are any more worthy of forgiveness than others? I mean, think about it…every sin has the same root: we think our way of doing things or our way of thinking is better than God’s way. The sins themselves have different degrees of how they shake out, how many people are affected, and how the world categorizes them. But, the root? All the same.

And God forgives us all without fail, repeatedly, and with arms wide open. 

So what I am saying is that even the people we would least like to forgive? We have done things equally as ‘unforgivable.’ We cannot say that they don’t deserve our forgiveness if we want to speak the truth. That leaves us with the only option left: we have to forgive them.

Wait! We don’t have to. Continue reading

Whose Voice Will You Listen To?

So, someone told you that you weren’t worth it. You didn’t reach the false standards created by someone that has no right to set them. So what? You have a choice. You can listen to that voice and believe it and even spend (waste) time trying to prove that person wrong. Or, you can listen and believe the voice of the One who created you. The One that created you for a purpose. You were not an afterthought or a mistake. You are worth it, worthy of Him giving His life for, and wonderfully and fearfully made by the Creator of the entire universe. If you stop and think about it, for real…that’s kind of a big deal!
Imagine if there was a debate between the two voices? Your detractor using words such as loser, unsuccessful, worthless etc. and Your God mentioning something to the effect of, “I created the universe, I can calm the raging seas, I tell the sun when and where to rise and set…And I have always had big plans for that gal that you called a loser. She’s my creation. I’ve given her unique gifts and a unique personality. She’s simply amazing, so…” I believe His voice would be the one with the last word!
His Voice has proclaimed that you are His child. (John 1:12) That you are His friend. (John 15:15) His voice says there’s no condemnation for those that belong to Him. (Romans 8:1) That you are a new creation. (2 Corinthians 5:17) That He saves, rejoices over, and sings over you. (Zephaniah 3:17) That He abounds in love for you. (Psalm 86:15) That nothing can separate you from that love. (Romans 8:37-39) That you’re chosen by Him. (Ephesians 1:4)
I choose that voice. I do have to remind myself of that sometimes. When someone’s voice threatens to drown out the voice of God, the best thing you and I can do is to sit down and read His Words, His assurances, His love letter. His words of truth will become louder and clearer, and we’ll be reminded of our genuine value. I refuse to listen to a voice of someone that’s interested in tearing me or my self-esteem down. I don’t have time for it. I’m too busy leaning in to hear the voice of Someone that loves me beyond description. He is the voice of authority on the matter. And I’m determined that from now on, He will always have the last word. I’m hoping that when it comes to determining and defining your value, you’ll allow Him to have the last word also.