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Be prepared 

1 Peter 3:15,16 – “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ.”

Well, the packing is almost done. I have been thinking about as many scenarios as possible to prepare for. I have bandaids, moleskin for blisters, a first aid kit, sunscreen, muscle rub, medication for pain and headaches, aloe. I have extra clothes. I have water bottles to fill. My goodness, I can’t believe all the stuff I have packed!

I like to be prepared. I don’t like to be caught off guard. I have even written off the address and lock box info for the house we are staying at just in case I don’t have cell phone service. I try to be prepared. 

But how well do I prepare myself for spiritual journeys? 

Each and every day is a new challenge, a new focus, a new opportunity to share Christ with someone. But am I ready?

Getting into the Word is a great start. Reading and studying and thinking about God’s precepts and principles is a necessary step in growing and preparing. 

Prayer is also a necessity. How can we expect to be ready for any spiritual battle or situation if we don’t communicate with The Commander and Chief? 

There is also one more thing that helps get me ready for spiritual journeys – my brothers and sisters in Christ, aka – my church family. I need them. I need their love. I need their support. I need their encouragement. But you can’t have that church family if you don’t make the sacrifice to be a part of it. 

Be prepared. Be prepared for life. Be prepared for spiritual issues and battles. Be prepared to be in His Word. Be prepared to spend time with your Savior. Be prepared to find love in your church family. Happy Monday. 

Sweet, sweet memories

Psalm 77:11-12 – “I will remember the works of the LORD: surely I will remember thy wonders of old. I will meditate also of all thy work, and talk of thy doings.”

As I sit here this morning, I’m remembering the excitement and nervousness and joy that this day brought me 22 years ago. It was the night of my wedding rehearsal. We had so much fun. We laughed. And we laughed. And then, we laughed some more. 

And then the next day, the big day, was full of love and celebrating and nervous jitters and yes, more laughter. I can see it all in my head. I can hear my Southern accent. I can see the big hair. I remember the look in my Daddy’s eyes as he walked up the stairs to bring me to my future husband. I remember the one candle that did not light at the altar. I remember people yelling at me to watch out for fire ants while I tied balloons along the sidewalk leading up to that old farmhouse where we had our reception. I remember the magnolia trees bloomed that morning. 

But more than all the memories of those two days 22 years ago, I remember how we got there – God. I remember that it was Him that brought my husband and I together. I remember that it was Him that grew the love that continues to grow in us. I remember praying to find my husband while I was still in high school. 

I have so many precious memories. But none of them would be possible without Jesus in my life. I KNOW that it was Him that brought my husband to me. I KNOW it was Him that showed me what it means to have a good marriage by giving me the parents He gave me. I KNOW it is Him that keeps us together to this day. 

So when I look back and remember, I don’t want to neglect His fingerprints all over my life. And I want to make sure that I give Hin the honor and glory He deserves for His work in my life. Thank you God, for all that You have done in my life. And thank you for all that You will do in my life because I KNOW You’re not done with me yet. 

Bugs and honey

Matthew 3:1-4 – “In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. And the same John had his raiment of camel’s hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey.”

O, John the Baptist. Can you imagine for one minute what he looked like? I mean, I see someone with long hair, long beard that isn’t kept, skins draped around him and more than likely, a stickiness in his long beard. Not the most welcoming sight. 

We have this perception in our mind of what a proclaimer of the Word should look like. We see nice/clean clothes, kept hair and probably recently bathed. 

But is that what God wants? 

John the Baptist was available. He had a specific purpose in life and he chose to embrace it. I guess he could have walked away. I guess he could have chosen to be eating lamb and bread instead of locust and honey. But he probably would have ended up with something akin to the belly of a great fish (O, Jonah). 

The point is Jesus doesn’t necessarily want you to quit bathing and start eating bugs and honey in order to serve Him. But neither does He expect you to have nice clothes and kept hair. He wants you to be available. He wants me to be available. 

We need to be listening for His voice. We need to be ready to act when we do. We need to be prepared to share whatever the need requires. Just be available. 

He’s still working on me

Jeremiah 29:11 – “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.”

Lyrics for He’s Still Working on Me by Bill & Gloria Gaither

He’s still working on meTo make me what I need to be. It took Him just a week to make the moon and stars, The sun and the earth and Jupiter and Mars. How loving and patient He must be..’Cause He’s still workin’ on me.

There really ought to be a sign upon my heart “Don’t judge him yet, there’s an unfinished part”. But I’ll be better just according to His plan. Fashioned by the Master’s loving hands.

He’s still working on me To make me what I need to be. It took Him just a week to make the moon and stars, The sun and the earth and Jupiter and Mars. How loving and patient He must be…’Cause He’s still workin’ on me. 

In the mirror of His word, Reflections that I see. Makes me wonder why He never gave up on me. But He loves me as I am and helps me when I pray. Remember He’s the potter, I’m the clay.

This song has been in my head for a few days. I remember singing it when I was a little girl. It has a whole different meaning now. 

I understand better that I am a work in progress. I understand better that I won’t be perfect until I get to Heaven where there is no sin. I understand better that when I do sin and God brings it to my attention, I need to take care of it right then and turn and go the other direction. I am understanding more His work, His hand and His love for me – although I appreciate fact that I will never fully grasp it. 

But He is still working on me. He is trying to make me what I should be. I really do need a sign some days that says “Don’t judge me yet. He’s not finished.” I want to see His reflection in my life. 

So when you are feeling totally inadequate and unable to accomplish anything and everything, remember – when you are His child, He will always be working on you. Happy Wednesday. 

The Perfect Recipe

Psalm 34:12-17 – “What man is he that desireth life, and loveth many days, that he may see good? Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile. Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it. The eyes of the LORD are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry. The face of the LORD is against them that do evil, to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth. The righteous cry, and the LORD heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles.”

I love to cook. If you could see my bookshelf for my recipe books, the claim would be confirmed. I love the joy on a person’s face when they taste something super yummy. I love the gentle sounds that people make when something is oh, so good. Typically, that doesn’t happen without just the right recipe. 

Hence the thoughts for today…

When David wrote this psalm, he gave us a fabulous recipe, a recipe for life. Here’s my take on it: “You wanna have good, long life? Don’t gossip. Don’t lie. Don’t create problems. Watch your mouth. You walk away from things that even smell bad. You look for things that will honor and glorify God, and you run after them with all you’ve got.” 

Life provides us with so many opportunities to chase after things that have pushed God out of the picture. Things that don’t bring peace are easily found. And my, oh my, there are so many opportunities to run our mouth. Isn’t life pretty much summed up in those three bad choices? Poor attitudes and selfishness are easily captured. 

It takes work to keep your attitude in check. It takes effort to keep selfishness far from you. It takes a muzzle, sometimes, to keep negative things from flying out of your mouth. 

Now that I have hashed through some of the negatives of life, let’s see if we can determine some positives. 

God’s eyes are on those who pursue a right life. He hears their prayers. He is attentive to their needs. He never leaves them alone. 

Jesus Christ was the only One to make it off this earth with no sin. Praise God for that! The rest of us need to have His commitment as our goal. We should strive to be like Him. That is the “life…and love of days” to “see good” that David is speaking of here. 

The new year is just around the corner. People will soon be contemplating goals that, more than likely, will never be attained in the upcoming year. So why wait? Start today. Wednesday is a great day to start living the perfect recipe. Oh, it will be hard. The devil will throw trials and tribulations in your path. But who cares? You know the end of the story. Keep going. The “oohs” and “ahs” are just up ahead in Heaven. 

Flying and falling

Psalm 37:23,24 – “The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the LORD upholdeth him with his hand.”

My daughter got in the car yesterday with her lip dragging the ground. She was so upset. She is a base on her cheer team and she had dropped her flyer. 

My daughter knows and understands that it is her responsibility to get under her flyer and protect her at all costs. And when the unthinkable happens and she drops her…well, despite the fact that no major injuries occurred, my daughter is wounded. She feels like she has let her teammate down. She let her fall. 

She has taken kicks to the neck, scratches and pokes like you wouldn’t believe- but she does her job. She gets under her flyer and protects her. It is very special to watch – even when it’s ugly. 

I was never a cheerleader in school. I tried  out but didn’t make the team. So my perspective of cheerleading was pretty rotten, I’ll admit. I was wrong. Now, I’m sure there are exceptions to this but the girls I see on my daughter’s team are devoted. They are devoted to one another. They are devoted to their team. The feats these little girls can accomplish is amazing. 

But despite how utterly amazing and strong these girls are physically, they have the God who is stronger. 

My God is my base. He is the One throwing me up in the air to show how amazing I am. And then when I come crashing down, He is under me and breaking my fall. He catches me. But unlike my daughter’s stunt team, He never misses. He ALWAYS catches me. And when I’m ready, He tosses me up again. He loves me. He wants everyone to see what He has done in my life. He want me to cheer and yell and shout to the moon about His goodness and His mercy. 

I’m not a cheerleader – I have trouble following the cheers sometimes! But I can talk and share and write and listen and give encouragement and comfort. I can work and be obedient and hug and make yummy food and laugh – all for His honor and His glory. It’s about letting Him direct my path and give me words. It’s about listening to His Holy Spirit telling me what to do. It’s about flying. It’s about falling. It’s about trusting – trusting that He WILL catch you when you fall. 

Life is beautiful even when it’s cloudy. Life is warm even when you need a sweater. Life is trusting Him when your a mile above the ground. Learn how to fly and learn how to fall. 

Keep going

2 Timothy 3:14,15 – “But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.”

I accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior the summer before my fourth grade year. So, basically, I don’t remember life without Christ. I have gone to church my whole life. I have attended Sunday school since before I was born. Jesus has always been a part of my life. 

And for all that time, I have learned and heard that Jesus is coming back soon. “It can’t be too much longer with the way things are going!” 

I have met people who scoff at my belief that He will return soon. Most people don’t know what to say when I say, “I hope the Lord comes back before my children have to face that!” I’m not sure if it scares them or they are just avoiding the conversation, but it seems that whomever I am speaking with quickly changes the course of the conversation. 

I have been taught to love others in all things. I have been taught to speak the truth at all costs. I have been taught to fear God and keep His commandments. I have been taught to respect others and respect myself. I have been taught that it is okay to be different when the world calls you a Jesus freak. 

But there have been times in my life that I just wanted to fit in. I wanted to be like my friends. I wanted to go to the parties. I wanted to have all the cool things everyone else had. I wanted to know what it was like to be the first to know what had gone on the night before because I was there. 

Those times are gone. 

Now, I just want my children to see their mom serving and loving God. I want others to see something different in my actions and in my words. I want to have a light in my eyes that is genuine. 

In order to accomplish all of this, I have to keep going in the way that I was taught. I have had Sunday school teachers and family and pastors and loved ones who have impacted my life in ways that they may never know. I have been encouraged by them, instructed by them, disciplined by them and most importantly, loved by them. They tell me to keep going. 

And now, I tell you – keep going. No matter the length of your testimony, keep going. When life is laying down on you like a dump truck emptying it’s contents, keep going. When you are soaring on the mountain top, keep going. When you are so confused that you don’t know if you are scratching your watch or winding your behind, keep going. 

There is a purpose in all of this. Jesus doesn’t just set us down here and say, “Go at it!”  No, He has a purpose and plan in each and every action and thought. Just keep going.