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Christmas cards

1 King 19:11-13a – “And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the LORD. And, behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the LORD; but the LORD was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the LORD was not in the earthquake: And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice. And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave.”

I know, it’s not Wednesday and it isn’t 6 in the morning. But I had to get this out.

Someone stole my Christmas cards out of my mailbox last night. Yep, you read it right. Someone thought they would find a stash of money or something in that stack of 100 and something Christmas cards going out to friends and family all over the place. Boy, were they shocked to find the only thing of value was the unused stamps on the outside of the card. 

Here are my lessons in this situation.

1) Someone needs Jesus. If things in your life are so desperate that you are reduced to committing a federal offense by rummaging through someone’s Christmas cards in the middle of the night, you need Jesus. 

2) I need to forgive. I’m working on this one. I know that in the scope of eternity whether or not I send out Christmas cards is not going to matter. It does, however, matter if I forgive this person that did this. I’m getting there. They have been on my heart heavy these last couple of hours. 

3) I need to listen. Last night as I was putting the cards in the mailbox, I thought “someone could steal these tonight.” Then I thought “no way, no one is going to do that. They are just Christmas cards.” God was speaking to my heart and I just tuned Him out. I can’t tell you how often this has been happening lately. I will hear His whisper across my heart and then blow it off as nonsense. When will I ever listen? And listen consistently?! That Still Small Voice is still active today. He is still whispering across our hearts – warning us, encouraging us – and too often, I know that I don’t listen. I instead listen to the other voice. I listen to the one that tells me that I know best. I listen to the one that says the other Voice is crazy. 

In all of this, I’m upset about the loss of the Christmas cards, the time and money spent on them and the fact that our society has stooped this low. But most of all, I’m upset with myself for not listening. I have asked for forgiveness and I know that I have it. But now I have to forgive myself for being a cotton-headed ninny-muggin (Elf reference) and ignoring God when He speaks to me. 

Christmas is a time of reflection and memories and a time of giving. Well, this will certainly be a memory I look back on and I hope that my giving of the unused stamps will certainly cause someone somewhere to pause and rethink their life. They need Jesus…and so do I. 

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Sleeping through the storm

Luke 8:22-25 – “Now it came to pass on a certain day, that he went into a ship with his disciples: and he said unto them, Let us go over unto the other side of the lake. And they launched forth. But as they sailed he fell asleep: and there came down a storm of wind on the lake; and they were filled with water, and were in jeopardy. And they came to him, and awoke him, saying, Master, master, we perish. Then he arose, and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water: and they ceased, and there was a calm. And he said unto them, Where is your faith? And they being afraid wondered, saying one to another, What manner of man is this! for he commandeth even the winds and water, and they obey him.”

We just went through a hurricane. Not my idea of a good time, I’ll tell you. As we laid in the closet under the stairs while the front and back of the eye of the storm went over our house, my kids slept. The electricity had gone out which caused the fan to go off which woke me up to the raging wind. It howled and screamed and thrashed against the front of our house. I’m laying in the closet praying, “Please God, keep the roof on my house and my friends and family safe” while my children are sleeping. Sleeping! I was glad though. I was in a state enough without having to deal with them freaking out.

While I was out and about yesterday working, I heard the same thing from many of my clients – they slept through the hurricane! What?! How can that be? They went to bed Sunday night and knew nothing had happened until they woke up Monday morning. 

My grandma always said, “The Good Lord’s gonna gitcha when He wants ya whether you’re hidin’ or not.” Faith. Faith that He is in control and we have nothing to fear. I experienced a great deal of fear last week, especially Friday. Friday was tough for me. I believe the majority of it was the uncertainty. We had no idea where the hurricane would hit and how bad it would be. The Holy Spirit had to keep whispering to me – “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7) He had to say it multiple times because I was having a hard time getting my heart and mind to listen. Faith.  Faith that He is in control.

Now, I’m not certain that all of my clients have that sort of faith in their lives. I’m working on that. But I do know that God used their…faith, or lack of hearing, to remind me that I have nothing to fear, even in a hurricane. It is about letting go and letting God. And that, my friend, is tough. I like to be in control of things going on in my life. I like to know when, where and how things are going to go before I step into it. But faith reminds me that sometimes I won’t know all the details. Faith reminds me that sometimes I need to sleep during the storm. I can’t control it. I can’t affect the outcome of it. I can only prepare and pray. 

Prepare and pray. Maybe that should be my new motto. Isn’t that all God really wants us to do? Second Timothy says He gave us a “sound mind” – the ability to know when to prepare and how to prepare. We know that “power” is from God alone. And we know that “love” should cover everything we do. And when we have that power, love and sound mind, we can sleep through the storm. Isn’t that why Jesus slept in the boat during the storm? He had all those things in abundance. 

So the next time you find yourself in a storm, whether figuratively or literally, have faith. Prepare and pray. Allow God to take the fear the devil attempts to plant in your heart and turn it into power, love and a sound mind. And sleep through the storm.

This Psalm…

Psalm 147:1-11 – “Praise ye the LORD: for it is good to sing praises unto our God; for it is pleasant; and praise is comely.The LORD doth build up Jerusalem: he gathereth together the outcasts of Israel. He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds.He telleth the number of the stars; he calleth them all by their names. Great is our Lord, and of great power: his understanding is infinite.The LORD lifteth up the meek: he casteth the wicked down to the ground. Sing unto the LORD with thanksgiving; sing praise upon the harp unto our God: Who covereth the heaven with clouds, who prepareth rain for the earth, who maketh grass to grow upon the mountains. He giveth to the beast his food, and to the young ravens which cry. He delighteth not in the strength of the horse: he taketh not pleasure in the legs of a man. The LORD taketh pleasure in them that fear him, in those that hope in his mercy.”

I have a lot on my heart this morning. I found out yesterday that a girl I know, who is younger than me, suddenly lost her husband. She is now a widow. There is a massive storm hitting tiny islands with many people living on them that will face terrible devastation in the next few hours and days. And here I am preparing as well for an unseen force that I am uncertain of it’s path. 

As my day goes on from hour to hour and I continue to see my clients as if nothing different is going on, I have in the back of my mind a list a mile long of things that need to be done and items that would benefit my family, if I can find them. I am grateful for advanced warning but the waiting can be a challenge. 

And then I can’t stop thinking about the girl I know that lost her husband. It breaks my heart to think about her having to do life without her husband. I can’t even imagine.

Yet, this psalm brings me peace today. It reminds me to sing. You see, as much as I desire to help out my friend, I really can do nothing more than pray for her. I’m too far away to be very effective in a physical sense. But I know the One that can heal her broken heart and mend her family’s spirit. And as much as I think on and pray for those in the path of the storm, there is really nothing I can do for them right now except pray – because I know the One that named the stars and prepared the earth for the rain He is sending. And as much as I fret and scurry trying to prepare for the storm coming my way, I need to sing more. He wants me to trust Him through this thing. He wants to show me that He can provide for me in a way that my legs and hands would never be able to. 

This psalm reminds me to trust in Him because He has “the whole world in His hands”. Yes, I need to prepare. Yes, I need to pray. Yes, I need to remember others and the challenges they face in the different aspects of their life. Yes, I need to do what I can for my family and for those around me. But I need to do it with a song in my heart that reminds me to “praise You in the storm”. 

Through the valley

Psalm 23 – “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.”

It has been a challenging last 4 days. I got a call Friday night that my grandpa had been in a really bad accident. So, the kids and I set out Sunday on a 12 hour tour up to visit him in the hospital. Now, we are on our 12 hour leg back home. I am so grateful that God prepared my path and provided a way for me to go and visit him. He prepared my car. He prepared my son to help drive some. He took care of it all.

But for the second time in his 87 years, my grandpa is walking through the valley. And it is hard to watch him go through it, again. I feel so helpless and confused when I walk into his room and see all the machines and hear all the noises. Suddenly, all the training and knowledge that I have received about medical conditions and prognosis and treatment become a distant memory that I have to work really hard to retrieve. 

It is a challenge to be positive. The devil is right there on my shoulder whispering in my ear all the negative thoughts he can muster up. He wants me to think about the very worst. He wants me to dwell on all the things I see wrong. He fights me when I try and remember that God is in control.

Yet, I know Jesus is in control of it all. 

Let me tell you about the day before I got the call – my tire pressure light came on. For land’s sake, I just got new tires within the last 3 months! So, my husband and I decided to go get it checked out and get the oil changed while we were at it. It was that time. This was Friday afternoon. I got the call Friday night. God knew on Thursday that grandpa would get hurt Friday afternoon and that I would get the call Friday night. He knew that I would want to go visit him and he knew that my husband needed the knowledge that the car was safe to carry his precious cargo 800 miles away without him. 

God knew. God prepared the way. 

So as my family and I walk through the valley, we covet your prayers. Pray for my grandma. She needs it. Pray for my aunt and my mom. They need it. 

But the great thing is that no matter what God chooses to do in this situation, the table before us will be prepared by Him. He will provide everything we need. He will be our rod. He will be our strength. He will anoint our thoughts with His grace and mercy. He will make our cup run over with His blessings. Of this, I have no doubt.

The world thru His eyes

John 4:35 – “Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.”

What if for one minute you could see the people around you as Jesus sees them? What if you could see their pain, their sin, their fears? How would you respond? Would you ever be able to look at them the same way again?

My kids are going to church camp today. Now, this is camp. No hotel. No linens. No nice bed. This is rustic. And beautiful because of it’s simplicity. There will be kids there from all over. So that means there will be situations, thoughts and beliefs from all across the board. All of them have a past and all of them have a future. But that future depends upon the decisions they make after hearing the Word of God preached boldly to them. 

If we could see a person as Jesus sees them, I think our perspective and priorities would be a lot different. I think that our petty problems that seem overwhelming would be nothing more than a minor inconvenience when compared to the heartaches that some people face. 

Our challenge yesterday from the morning service was to be burdened for the lost souls of the world around us. A burden is a weight that you carry around. It is something that is not easily removed. What if we had that for the lost? What if we truly saw them for who they are and was never able to let that vision go? Would we be different?

This week, I want to challenge you to think about this when you see that person across from you at the gas pump. I want you to think about this when you are walking down the hallway at work. What if you could say something to the next person that you saw that would change their eternity? Would you take time from your deadline to tell them or would you put it off to another time that might never come? 

Family Devotions

Proverbs 22:6 – “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”

One of the things we have been doing every night since we have been on vacation is have family devotions. Each night, one of us has done a devotion, including the kids. 

And let me tell you, hearing my children read from the Word and expound upon what they have read and tell everyone of us what it means to them, well, my heart is full. 

The insight they have floors me. They have done such a good job at bringing in what we have seen and done with the verses God has laid on their heart. 

It has been a bit of a challenge for them. They have never done anything like that before. They have never really spoken in this manner. But it is good for them. They are learning to share God in a whole new way. 

It is my prayer that they will remember not only the beauty they have seen and the laughs we have shared, but that these family devotions will be a part of the treasures that they have stored up in their hearts. And it is also my prayer that they continue to fight the good fight and that Christ will always be their Leader. Happy Monday. 

The week before

1 Peter 5:6,7 – “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.”

Do you ever dread a week? For me, the week before vacation is a dreaded week. I’m working like a crazy person trying to get everyone seen and all their paperwork completed that might be due while I’m gone. I’m thinking and making list after list about what I need to remember to purchase and pack. I’m leaving things out on counters so that I don’t forget them. I’m trying to clean my house because if I die, I don’t want people coming into my house dirty (I know, it’s morbid. I can’t help the way my brain works!). 

But here I am on Friday. One last day this week to get those people seen and get that paperwork done. One more day to get the items on that list. One more day to remember how God has brought me through this week. 

It hasn’t been a bad week. It really hasn’t been a rough week. It has just been a week. And as glad as I am that it is Friday, I’m really anticipating Monday at 2 – when work is truly finished and I clock into vacation mode. 

But God has got it between now and then. He sees my lists. He knows my potential issues and problems. He knows what all needs to happen between now and then. I’m not worried about it. God is going to take care of it. 

“Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.”

These are the words I’m claiming and have been claiming this week. I’m choosing today to lay my burdens at His feet and walk away trusting that He is going to make it happen one way or another. And I can do this because He loves me. He, the God of Heaven and Creator of all things and Savior of my soul, loves me – a sinner choosing to give my best by following after Him. 

So on this Friday, I want to encourage you to let Him love on you. Let Him take your burdens. Let Him hold you close. Let Him show just how awesome and amazing He can truly be. Happy Friday.