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FingerprintsĀ 

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 – “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.”

It’s a season of change at my house. Summer vacation has started. That means the grade transition has taken place. I now have two high school students. Friends have transitioned to non-high school life. People are moving from our everyday life to our text occasionally life. It is hard. It is sad. It is exciting. 

And as we look back over the last year, I see some heartache. I see laughter. I see adventure. I see success and I see failure. It’s the way of life. The ebb and flow of all things created. 

Yet as I see the page of a chapter in our life turning, I try to see God’s fingerprint. I see it in our continued love for one another. I see it in our attitudes. I see it in our tears for the change because we care so much. But I also see hope. I see the hope He gives in the promise that He will always be there. I see hope in the opportunity for new friends with new ideas and new dreams and new stories. 

Change happens in life just as surely as we know that the sun will come up tomorrow. Change can be scary. Change can be exciting. Change can be difficult. But in the midst of change, I encourage you to find hope. Solomon understood that “To everything there is a season”. We need to remember that as well. We need to accept that things don’t always keep us in our comfort zone. Growing doesn’t happen in that place. Growing happens when things are stressed and bothered. And that is exactly what God is doing in my house right now. Changing and growing with hope while reminding me of His fingerprints all over my life. 

Another temptationĀ 

James 1:2-4 – “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.”

Usually when I think of temptation, I think of doing something I know I shouldn’t – like eating that donut as big as your head or watching a show that you know you wouldn’t watch if Jesus was physically sitting on the couch next to you.  But let me ask this question- what if self pity is a temptation? I mean, think about it, haven’t you ever just felt the tug to feel sorry for yourself about something? “Poor little me, I have so much to do and I am so under appreciated.” 

I know I feel that way from time to time. In fact, I was there last night. I had thought my week was set. I had a large function behind me, laundry was on its way to the finish line, lunch was ready for the next day – I was set. Then, I get an email about an unexpected practice this week. Boom! Monkey wrench! Suddenly, I’m rearranging and contemplating and becoming more and more anxious because this monkey wrench felt like the Empire State Building had been dropped into the middle of my week. Now, I’m over exaggerating, but that’s what it felt like. 

I could almost see the devil in the corner rubbing his greedy little hands together saying, “Ooh weee, we got her now!” And for a time he did. So sad. I stewed. I cleaned (that’s what I do when I get frustrated). I felt sorry for myself. I was tired of doing and being everything for everyone. 

And then it happened, God started whispering to my heart. He started reminding me that He had provided my husband to help me figure things out. He had provided friends to be there when one of the kids needed a ride. He had provided Grandpa to help on Tuesday nights. He had provided. 

God was trying to grow my faith and my patience. Patience for not only my situation but also for myself. I am constantly learning that I need to chill out and let God do His thing. He must get so tired of teaching me that lesson but praise His name, He never quits. 

Bearing the burden

Galatians 6:2 – “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.”

It seems to have been a common theme this weekend- bearing one another’s burdens. As I sat here this morning finishing my Bible reading, I wrote out my prayer requests. It was really long this morning. We have several at my church that are definitely standing in the need of prayer. 

You know, when you read this verse, it can be taken a couple of different ways. One way is to see that we need to come alongside and physically assist others that need help. There are plenty of people that need this type of action. They need food or financial assistance or help with a loved one or something like that. They literally need a helping hand. 

Another way to see this verse is through the eyes of prayer. Prayer is an amazingly powerful tool that we have readily at our fingertips 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. That means there is no time, no place, no circumstance in which we cannot pray. Even in places where prayer is frowned upon or illegal, you can still pray. Speaking from the heart can never be tamed or squashed. We all know and have people in our life that need prayer. 

So, what is keeping us from bearing another person’s burden whether physically or prayerfully?

Ourself. That is the only reason. Our selfishness and self-absorbed behaviors keep us from bearing one another’s burdens. We get so wrapped up in our own life and perceived needs that we block everyone else out. 

God has brought us together for a reason. He sees a need in my life that only you can fill. And He sees a need in your life that only I can fill. We need to be diligently and fervently bearing one another’s burdens – in whatever way is necessary. 

This week, choose to see and open your heart to someone else’s burdens – and share your own. We all need prayer – let someone know how they can pray for you today. And if you are in need of some physical assistance, ask for it. Your brothers and sisters in Christ are there for you. You just need to say the word and allow them to bless you and be blessed themselves by helping bear your burden. 

Oh, middle school…

Proverbs 27:17 – “Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.”

Middle school girls. Know any? With all the hormones and sudden interest in boys, it can be a terrifying and heart wrenching and just plain stupid experience. It is all drama, drama, drama. 

Right now, my thirteen year old daughter is experiencing friend troubles over a boy – an eighth grade boy. Now, I have had an eighth grade boy, so I can say this – rarely is a female friendship is worth destroying over an eighth grade boy. But this is something these girls are going to have to figure out. My advice seems futile and until someone gives, they are all at a stalemate. It is sad. 

But one thing this whole bit of drama is doing for our precious girls is teaching them valuable life lessons. They probably don’t understand, but they are sharpening one another. They are teaching one another. They are learning how to live in a world where things don’t always go your way and people don’t always behave like you think they should. They are learning that they are going to have to put on their big girl panties and deal with things instead of turning away from the situation. 

Friends are beautiful treasures that can decorate your life like nothing else but can also weigh heavy on your heart at times. But a true friend is one that walks with you through all the heartaches you face – even when that heartache is from another friend. 

Friends sharpen one another. 

So, let me encourage you to be a friend. Be a friend that walks the walk and talks the talk. Be a friend that is life long and precious no matter the situation. 

Friendship

James 2:23 – “And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.”

We have all had or do have a best friend. That person who we tell everything to, with whom we discuss our problems, share our dreams and hash out our fears. That person who understands when the words just won’t come. That person who is not afraid to tell us that we are acting stupid. We all need that person in our life. 

So, what does it mean to be a “friend of God”? God doesn’t need council. He doesn’t need someone to hear His fears or tell Him when He is doing wrong. He doesn’t have those issues. So, how can we possibly be a friend to God?

James reminds us that Abraham was God’s friend because he obeyed. He listened and then he acted. God doesn’t need us to tell Him what to do. He doesn’t need us to solve problems. He wants us to obey. 

Now, here is the difference in a relationship and a religion- rules. God wants us to obey Him out of love not out of a desire to keep rules. Some people love rules. They love the structure and security of rules. They need rules to have order in their life. I guess that’s why when the writers of the Bible were inspired to write what they did, they speak of “commands” or “commandments”.  Rules can be broken or bent. Commands leave no room for option. They require obedience. When you think of those people in a military type position following commands, they are doing so because they love what they do. They have a sense of honor and respect and a love for what and whom they are fighting for. 

When God gives us commands, He gives them to us in love. And when we follow them, we follow them out of love and respect and honor for Him. 

When our friends give us advise, they are essentially giving us commands. They are giving them out of love and respect and the  desire to see good in our life. When we listen and go through with their “commands”, we are doing so because of our love for our friend and the respect we have for their suggestions. 

Being a friend of God doesn’t mean that we are commanding Him. No, just the opposite. We are following His commands because we love Him. His commands are not rules to be broken and bent. They are commands for our life to create righteousness within us. 

Heartbreak

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.”

Wednesday was a tough day. And I’m not talking about all the running that I had to do. No, I’m talking about a conversation I had with a patient I see. 

God had set it all up. I had received a random text from my mom about my aunt’s email address. And my patient wanted to know if everything was okay, seeing that I checked the text from my mom. Well, that opened the door for me to tell someone about Jesus by using my blog. 

Here’s where it gets tough – she told me she was agnostic and proceeded to very sweetly tell me what she believed and why. It was clear through the discussion that she had already made up her mind about Jesus. She had rejected Him. And it broke my heart. When I left, I cried. I called my husband. I called my mom. I was heartbroken that this dear lady, whom I care about, had made the choice to die and go to Hell, even though she doesn’t believe in it. 

How do you go on after that?

It is tough. I have to work with this lady. I have to help her achieve her physical goals while knowing that her eternal future is in jeopardy. 

All I can do is pray for her. I will keep living differently in front of her and keep interjecting Christ whenever I can. I need to know in my heart that I pricked her heart every time I had the opportunity. 

I can’t save her. I can’t make her believe in Jesus Christ. I can’t change her mind. But I can love her. I can show her Jesus in my thoughts, my actions and my words. I can tell my brothers and sisters in Christ about her need and have them pray with me. That’s all I can do. And if the opportunity presents itself again, I will pounce on it…again. I just need to be listening and be aware of what God is laying before me. 

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.