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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. 

Strong children

Deuteronomy 31:6 – “Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the LORD thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.”

It has been a long school year. But at the same time, it has flown. It has been a process of encouraging my children to succeed and guiding them through trying times. 

Yet through all of it, it has been the goal of our family to grow strong children. And I think we are. They face so many situations at school and in their “recreational” time that sometimes life seems overwhelming. 

My son is the strong, silent type. You know what a first child typically looks like? Flip it around, shake it up and cover it with a cloak and you have my son. My husband and I laugh that he is an enigma. But he is courageous. He always has been. His speech was delayed as a child and that made him shy. So overcoming is almost second nature to him. 

Now my daughter, on the other hand, well…there are very few words to accurately describe her. She is definitely strong. She is courageous – she rarely lets things keep her from speaking her mind. (Not sure where she gets that from!)   But she is joyful. She is fun. She is determined. She is mighty and fierce. 

They both are such strong and amazing children. I hear of other people worrying about their children and their future. Not me, I know God has placed these two on this planet for amazing things. I’m excited to see what it is!

But we need to encourage all of our children, whether we have them given birth to them or not, to thrive. Be successful. Be brave. Be courageous. They have a Mighty God who will NEVER leave them and He has something in store for them that we can’t imagine. 

Monday night, I heard a speaker challenge a group of students in this way – What was the promise that God made to the world when He brought you into it? Live every day with that in mind and see what God will do. 

A “re”newed view

Isaiah 53:5 – “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.”

I teach the teenagers on Wednesday night at church. These last few weeks we have been going through the student version of “A Case for Christ”. And let me tell you, tonight’s lesson is going to be tough. I debated skipping it but I feel that as tough as it will be, my kids need to hear it. All of it. So instead of trying to determine a witty presentation of the subject matter, I’m just going to read it. 

I have to. There is nothing witty or clever about the transgressions committed against my Jesus. 

In our society, we are okay with watching movies that are gruesome and horrible. We read books that give us nightmares. We watch videos on social media that terrify us. But to careful consider the torment and brutality of what Jesus went through for us, well, that’s another story. We can’t take it. It hurts too much. 

I think that when we stop and look into history about the torture methods and ways  a death sentence was carried out in the Roman culture, we can’t help but feel burdened and grateful and incredibly sad. We hear periodically about Jesus being “wounded” for our transgressions. I don’t think that begins to scratch the surface. 

Jesus was brutally tortured for my sin. Jesus was beaten beyond recognition for my sin. Jesus was humiliated on the cross for my sin. Jesus felt the weight of His own body through the nails piercing His hands/wrists for my sin. Jesus endured what can only be described as suffocation and His organs shutting down very slowly for my sin. And I know that if I was the only person in history that would ever accept His sacrifice, He would still have done it – for me. 

And that is powerful. 

With each touch of the whip, He thought of all those through time that would choose Him as their Savior. With each agonizing moment on that cross, He thought about each life that would be drastically changed because of His act of selfless love. 

Do you think about that? Do you consider that when work piles up? Do you think about that while your folding laundry for the ump-teenth time this week? Do you consider His sacrifice and love for each and every one of us when that nut monkey cuts you off in traffic?

Probably not. I know I don’t. But I should. I believe that if we would live our life redeemed and grateful for His sacrifice, our world would change. Fear would leave. Doubt would run and hide. Compassion would be as common place as anything you can think of. 

But it’s so much easier to turn our thoughts away from Him. It’s so much easier to forget. 

I want to encourage you today to take a moment and read about His suffering. I want you to think about His sacrifice. I want you to say “thank you” and mean it from a place in your heart that is torn and burdened. 

The hammock swing

1 Thessalonians 5:21 – “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.”

Several weeks ago, we purchased a hammock swing. I love those things! We have been so busy that my husband just got around to putting it up this weekend. 

He got the hook and the epoxy and was set to hang it. As he was reading the instructions for the epoxy, he realized that there were no written instructions – only pictures. They say “a picture is worth a thousand words”. Well, not so much in this case. 

He didn’t realize that he needed to prime the epoxy by squirting some out to let it mix first. He went ahead and squirted it up in the hole and then wondered. He wondered if it would hold. He would sit and stare at the hook and think. He was fearful that one of us would sit in the swing and end up with a head injury from it falling to the ground. 

He had pulled on it, hung on it and it all seemed ok. However, he tried turning the hook. And it twisted right out of the hole. He had to start all over again. 

This time, he is confident that he completed the task correctly. I’m planning to use the swing today, if I have the opportunity. 

My point in all of this is sometimes we have to do extensive proving to determine if things are good. They may seem good at first. It may seem like things will be okay. I though the swing would be fine. Boy am I glad that my husband listens to that still small voice that warned him that something wasn’t right!

When we do find the good and the true and the right, we have to hold onto it for all we are worth. We have to guard its place in our heart fiercely. We have to choose to make sure that it has a rightful place in our day to day living. We have to hold steadfast to it. 

The best place to find all that is good and true and right is in the Bible. It’s all there. It’s ready to guide, comfort and provide all that we need each and every day. But like I told my Sunday school class, it won’t do you a lick of good if you don’t use it. 

Open it. Use it. Remember it. Apply it. Cherish it. 

Songs in my head

Psalm 96:1-2 – “O sing unto the LORD a new song: sing unto the LORD, all the earth. Sing unto the LORD, bless his name; shew forth his salvation from day to day.”

Almost every morning I wake up with a song in my head. For me, it is a good indicator of where my thoughts are at. This morning, I woke up with a song from our Christmas contata in my head. The name of the song is “Thank you Lord”. Just a simple little song of praise with a swinging beat. Love it!

But there are some mornings when I wake up with a song that does not lift up and/or magnify the name of Christ. Those mornings I struggle a bit more to keep my focus on Him.

Music is very important in my life. It always has been. From the time I can remember, I have been singing in church, in the car, in my room (while listening to my record player – ouch!) – basically anywhere. I listen to all different types of music and enjoy most of it (I’m not too fond of rap). I’ve sang in choirs. I’ve done solos. I’ve done some pretty amazing concerts in my car.

But no matter how much I have done, nothing can compare to the love in my heart when I hear my daughter sing. She loves music just like me. We always laugh and say that her life is a musical – she’s always singing and talking.

You know, I think God gave us music and the ability to create it for a very specific purpose – His honor and His glory. King David was a musician and song writer. I also hear-tell that he was quite the dancer. You can’t dance without some kind of music, if nothing else, you can have music in your head. But David’s dancing and singing and songwriting had one purpose – to glorify God.

That’s exactly where we need to have our focus as well. I don’t know if I can control the songs that I wake up with in my head, but I have found that they stem from the day before. Some days I listen to all Christian music and some days I don’t. But when I fill myself with more of Him, I will be better equipped to follow after Him more proficiently.

We all have a choice here in what we fill our days with – the music we listen to, the songs we sing, the people we interact with (well, maybe not always this one), the shows we watch. Life is about choices. How will you choose Him today?

Do you have what it takes?

Philippians 4:19 – “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”

Tomorrow is my daughter’s very first cheer competition. She and her team have been working since the beginning of October to get this routine together. It has been a road of success and failures, heartache and tears, joy and laughter. They have grown together as a team, but they are nervous.

The one thing they have to remember is this – just do your best and don’t stop. Don’t stop competing. Don’t stop smiling. Don’t stop cheering.

I was never a cheerleader. I don’t know what it is like to stand in front of a crowd and cheer my heart out only to have a bunch of people sitting there staring at me. I do know that it makes my daughter smile when I try to cheer along – for being a band geek, I’m not very good at keeping the right tempo in a cheer. It’s quite embarrassing, actually.

Anyway, I know you must be wondering when I am going to get around to tying this all together. I could bring out something cliche like “Life is like a cheer competition because…” But I won’t.

Every day we are faced with some type of challenge. It may be getting up in the morning or it may be deciding whether or not you are going to take a stand for what you believe in. Competition is out there. Fierce competition is out there. The question is, do you have what it takes to face it?

We think – “I need more time” or “I need this to do this right” or “I need to do this to win”. Nope. You need Jesus. Paul reminded the church at Philippi that God would supply everything they need. Everything. Everything they NEED. Not everything they want. Sometimes we get those two mixed up.

What the girls need for tomorrow is to give the glory to God for how well they are going to do and to trust Him to keep them safe. What I need for today is to meet the challenges I face with a holy and righteous attitude that will glorify my Father in heaven.

God already knows what tomorrow will bring. He already knows what the next 10 minutes will bring. Let Him give you what you need and be ready to praise Him when He gives you more than you deserve.

‘Tis the Season

John 13:34-35 – “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”

I saw this on social media the other day.

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It really touched my heart that this young woman was willing to stand up and stand out. She was willing to show God’s love in her actions, regardless of the words came out of her mouth.

There has been a big hoop-la about keeping Christ in Christmas. And I totally agree. But just because someone takes it off of their cup doesn’t mean that I can’t celebrate it.

Thanksgiving and Christmas are celebrations of the heart. It is a time to honor and glorify God for the abundant amount of blessings that He has poured down upon us. And if we recognize them as celebrations of the heart, we will be inclined to fulfill the commandment given in these verses. We will find ourself showing love to one another, being kind and doing so with a pure heart. Then, and only then, will others be able to see that we are celebrating those blessings that we certainly do not deserve.

By this time next week, you will probably be like me – fat and happy from the delicious meal the day before. Leftovers will gladly be on the menu and the shopping will begin in full force. But let’s not forget why we celebrate these two very important holidays. And let’s not let those who choose not to see God in everything ruin the spirit of the season with their negativity. Give them some tinsel and kindly say “bless your heart” and mean it. Because truly, these people who would take Christ out of Christmas and blessings out of Thanskgiving, need Jesus in the worst way. And it is our job to show Him to them.