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John 10:27,28 – “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.”

I had an amazing experience yesterday.

I was seeing a client and this client told me, out of the blue, that they thought their death was close. This client has multiple medical issues but seems to be functioning fairly well. I probed a bit and found out more information but nothing that would necessarily substantiate the fears that were expressed. 

Yet, I felt the Holy Spirit impress upon my heart that I needed to confirm and/or present the plan of salvation to this person. And I did. It was amazing. I told my client very bluntly and candidly about what it takes to KNOW that death is not the end. And my client confirmed that they had the free gift of salvation in their heart. 

I’m a nobody. I love what I do. I love being in contact with people and helping them and walking through all sorts of situations and problems with them. But when I get the opportunity to speak to someone I have grown close to about Jesus and His free gift of salvation- well, that’s just extra icing on the cupcake. I don’t push it but I don’t hide it. And when God was speaking to my heart yesterday, for once, I listened. And it was beautiful!

So I want to encourage you to live it out. We never know how long we have or how long the person across from us has. Yesterday, I heard His voice and I followed and it was truly a blessing in my life. I encourage you to do the same. Happy Wednesday. 

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. 

Church family

1 Corinthians 12:12-14 – “For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. For the body is not one member, but many.”

When my family and I started going to our church, we were a bit puzzled. Everyone was identified as aunt or uncle so-and-so. How could all these people possibly be related? True, it has been around for 120+ years and dating someone in our church requires a careful analysis of both people’s family tree, but still..all of them related?

We quickly learned that these were terms of endearment. 

My church is far from perfect. We have problems. We have challenges. But above it all, we have love. 

And there is no better place to see love than at a funeral. Now, I know, that seems weird. But hear me out. 

One of our ladies passed away this week. She had fought long and hard against an illness that rarely gives up – cancer. It was sad. And it was a blessing. She had been ill for so long and endured so much. She was ready to see Jesus. 

And as we sat and listened to the pastor give his words of encouragement, the common theme was “amen”. He talked about her faith; her dedication when she was ill; her love for her family and her Jesus. Amen. She isn’t hurting. Amen. She wants her family to share in her joy. Amen. Her family was not only flesh and blood but also the blood of Jesus Christ. 

I have a plaque in my home that was given to us by one of our church family. It says “Friends are the family you choose.” 

And no truer words can be spoken when I think about my church family. 

I love my family dearly, blood of my relatives and blood of my Jesus. They are all precious to me. And yesterday, as we laid to rest one of our own, my heart was sad for the ones left behind but happy for her. It was bittersweet. 

So I would encourage you to go home to your church family this weekend. They would love to see you. They would love to hug you. They would love to tell you how much they have missed you, because they have. Don’t let the devil steal away the family that God has given you. Treasure it and thrive within it. 

No

Matthew 7:11 – “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?”

It’s the most dreaded word I know – “No.” And what makes it even more unbearable is when there is no explanation. When my kids get told “no”, what is the next word that follows – “why?”  My, oh, my. How many times has that scenario played out in my life!

Sometimes we ask God for things. We ask with the right heart, with the right motive and even with the right attitude. And God still says “no”. The problem is, we don’t always audibly hear Him say “no”. We may not even hear it in our heart. It just feels like God is ignoring us, that He doesn’t care. 

Well, let me reassure you this – if you are a child of God, He NEVER ignores you. You may walk away and do your own thing and chose to ignore Him, but He will never ignore you when you make the choice to repent and turn back to Him. 

You see, some people treat Christ like a genie in a bottle. We rub that “magic lamp” with the bright hopes that we have played the game right to win His favor. People, it doesn’t work that way. You can’t just run to God when you have drama in your life. Relationships are not built on drama alone. 

I think that when I treat Christ like that (and face it, we all do sometimes) He is hurt. It hurts Him for us to mistreat Him. But God is not out to get us when we mistreat Him. He only desires repentance. 

But until we do repent, He may say “no” to some things in our life. And He does this for our good. He wants us back on track and sometimes that means saying “no”. 

I have teenagers. I love them to pieces. But sometimes I have to say “no” and sometimes the only explanation I have is “no”. My kids laugh at and respect what I call my mommy alarms. When those mommy alarms go off, the answer is definitely “no”. Mommy alarms mean that no explanation is needed or will be given because mommy has no idea why I’m saying “no” but the answer is definitely “no”.  

God knows far better than us what we need and when we need it. Sometimes the answer to our request is “no” with no further explanation given. And that’s that. 

We dislike very strongly (hate is such an ugly word) the word “no”. It means we don’t get our way. And we dislike very strongly the fact that we may not get an explanation for the “no”. But here is where trusting comes in – God loves you enough to not give you everything you want and give you only what you need. He did that with Jesus. He does that every moment of every day. 

So the next time “no” comes on your radar, don’t get all bent out of shape. Look at why God might say “no”. See it from different angles and then go with it. Remember this – Father always knows best. 

What love is…

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 – “Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.”

Yesterday, I visited a couple who has been married 56 years. He is vibrant and swam a 1/2 mile that morning in the pool. She, on the other hand, is failing. Her health is less than good and her mind wavers. Yet, as she needed attending for whatever reason, he did so without complaining, without harshness and with loads of compassion. He encouraged her when she successfully completed a 30 second stand without grasping her walker. 

People today don’t always understand and appreciate that kind of love and devotion. When things get tough and they feel their needs aren’t being met, they leave. 

This couple encouraged me with stories of their time apart when he was away doing his job. I can see him leaving home to get on a plane in the 60s while his wife stayed home with the children. I can see her opening the door with a smile on her face when she sees him walking up the front sidewalk. I can see him watching her cook dinner while the children run in and out the door and they talk of what all has gone on through the week. And as time passes, I can see him sitting by her bed holding her hand while she struggles to understand why she just can’t remember. 

Love. Love is something that is challenged every day. It is a choice we make every day. I choose to get up in the morning and love my husband no matter if he is beside me or on a trip for his job. I choose to stand by him when he is sick and when he is happy. I choose to love him when he carries out the trash and when he makes me madder than a wet hen. 

Love isn’t about warm fuzzy feelings and thinking like you are the center of his world. Love is knowing that when you just can’t remember, he will be there. Love is knowing that when you can’t stand by yourself, he will be there to hold you up. Love is a choice. 

I truly believe that we can’t love our spouse without loving Jesus first. You see, He is love. He shows us how to love. 

So this weekend, love. Choose love. Always, choose love. Happy Friday. 

Rotten bananasĀ 

1 Corinthians 15:33 – “Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.”

Sometimes in life, we have to stop and evaluate the people with whom we spend our time. 

Especially as adults, we don’t want to think or consider that our “friends” are really not a positive influence in our life. It’s a lot easier to hand out a bucket of excuses than to say “Yep, these people are the rotten bananas in my fruit salad!”  Admitting that people in your life are a problem is tough because we care about them. We see that we are a positive influence in their life. We know that without us, who knows where they would be. 

But what we fail to realize is the yuck they are bringing into our life each and every day. They bring problems. They bring speech patterns that fail to glorify God. They bring hate and discord. And as much as we think that we can resist these negative influences, eventually they will have an effect on us. If you are around a negative person all the time, there’s a good chance that you too will start to see things negatively. 

Children are especially vulnerable. They just want people to like them. They want to be popular. They want to be accepted by the “cool kids”. But as a parent, it is my responsibility to guard them from times like these. And just like I have to monitor my own relationships, I have to monitor theirs as well. When I see that it may be time to walk away, I need to be there to provide whatever they need to make that tough decision. 

The One thing that we as followers of Christ can give ourself and our children is the gift of having Jesus with us every step of the way. We don’t have to make those determinations ourself. We can let Jesus show is the rotten bananas. We don’t have to have the words to explain our decision. We can allow Jesus to give us what to say in those situations. We don’t have to feel alone when we do walk away. Jesus promised to never leave us or forsake us no matter the age, no matter the situation, no matter the level of hurt. 

So let me encourage you to evaluate your circle and the circle of people surrounding your children. Make sure that the influences in your life are wholesome and bring honor and glory to God. 

Two sides of a coin

Judges 4:4-9 – “And Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lapidoth, she judged Israel at that time. And she dwelt under the palm tree of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in mount Ephraim: and the children of Israel came up to her for judgment. And she sent and called Barak the son of Abinoam out of Kedeshnaphtali, and said unto him, Hath not the LORD God of Israel commanded, saying, Go and draw toward mount Tabor, and take with thee ten thousand men of the children of Naphtali and of the children of Zebulun? And I will draw unto thee to the river Kishon Sisera, the captain of Jabin’s army, with his chariots and his multitude; and I will deliver him into thine hand. And Barak said unto her, If thou wilt go with me, then I will go: but if thou wilt not go with me, then I will not go. And she said, I will surely go with thee: notwithstanding the journey that thou takest shall not be for thine honour; for the LORD shall sell Sisera into the hand of a woman. And Deborah arose, and went with Barak to Kedesh.”

Sorry there are so many verses – one or two just wouldn’t do!

Let’s think about Deborah for a few minutes today. I was having a lively discussion with my little spitfire daughter last night. I love her tenacity and grit. She isn’t afraid to lay it out – even to a teacher, respectfully of course. 

She reminds me a lot of Deborah. Deborah is the only female judge that I know of in the time of the judges. Can you imagine? Women were usually considered second class citizens in those days. Yet, here she was telling it like it is to an army commander. 

Deborah was a judge. But she was also a wife – and more likely than not, a mother. No children are specifically mentioned but they usually come along with the territory of a wife. 

I know that Deborah was prophesying when she said that the victory would be given to a woman, but can’t you hear just a bit of sass in that response? I can almost see the eyes rolling and the arms flopping to pick up her things to leave. Maybe there was some mumbling under her breath. I’m sure many prayers were lifted for this man who needed a woman to come along to assure Israel’s victory. 

I guess the point that I want to make is this – there are two sides to every coin. Every woman has two sides – the “get out of my way or I’ll run you over” side and the “here, let me take care of that” side. The side that says “well, I’ll do it because it needs to be done” and the “come on, you can do it” side. We all have two sides. In my perspective, a woman’s two sides are just more pronounced. It depends on the day. 

I was thinking about what I’m teaching my daughter. Am I doing it right? Will she have that meek and quiet spirit that is sometimes needed in a relationship? I know she already has developed the “get it done” gene. And the sass gene seems to be working quite well too. 

I want her to be like Deborah- capable of being wife and leader all at the same time. A wife is a helpmate – someone to come alongside and help out, not a dictator or wet washcloth to be swished around. But rather, a beautiful combination of sass and grit, gentleness and compassion. 

We need more “Deborah”s in this world. We need more women listening to God’s word and living his statutes and commands in their life. We need more gentleness and compassion in our marriages. We need more grit and sass for Godly truths in our society. We need more lively conversations between a parent and their child. We need more students respectfully stumping their educators.

 We need more pronounced sides to our coins. It’s okay to have two sides – God gave them to us for specific times in our life. We need to develop them both equally and efficiently. 

If you have children, pray for them. They need it. We, as parents who hold ourself accountable to God and God alone, need to develop within our children the characteristics they need to be the Godly men and women He is calling them to be. Pray for both sides of the coin.