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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. 

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. 

14

1 Peter 3:2-4 – ” While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear. Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.”

It’s a big weekend – my daughter turns fourteen on Saturday. We are going out to a nice dinner tonight and tomorrow, she & I are going for a manicure and pedicure. 

But as she is growing and learning to be a woman, there is one thing that I want her to grasp and understand – beauty is not only skin deep. 

Beauty is something that comes from the inside. Beauty is a light that shines inside of you. It lights up a room. It can calm a situation. It brings warmth to a conversation. It is something that can’t be replicated in a doctor’s office. It isn’t something that can be taught. It has to be grown inside with diligence and patience. 

As my daughter faces even more challenges as a teenager via her peers and social media, I want her to appreciate what God is doing in her life. He is growing something special in her that He can use down the road to bring Him honor and glory. 

Yes, her hair is long and beautiful. Yes, her button nose is too cute. Yes, her freckles bring joy to my heart. And yes, her laughter is contagious. But it is her heart for others, her joyful spirit, her tenacity, her spunkiness and her love love of life that I don’t want to fade or grow dim or ever be cut off. 

Life takes it toll. Time marches on. But I pray that her beauty that truly lies within will never change. For that is what makes her my beautiful daughter. 

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. 

I could never say “thank you” enough.¬†

2 Samuel 22:47,50 – “The LORD liveth; and blessed be my rock; and exalted be the God of the rock of my salvation. Therefore I will give thanks unto thee, O LORD, among the heathen, and I will sing praises unto thy name.”

How He Loves

John Mark McMillan

He is jealous for me.                                   Loves like a hurricane.                                      I am a tree, bending beneath the weight of His wind and mercy.                                  When all of a sudden, I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory.         And I realize how beautiful You are and how great Your affections for me.

Oh how He loves us so.                                  Oh how He loves us.                                    How He loves us so.                                       Yes He loves us

We are His portion and He is our prize. Drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes. If His grace is an ocean, we’re all sinking. And heaven meets earth like a unforeseen kiss and my heart turns violently inside of my chest. I don’t have time to maintain these regrets when I think about the way He loves us.     

Oh how he loves us so.                                 Oh how he loves us.                                    How he loves us so

So in the course of my day, I heard this song “How He Loves” sung by Crowder. I have heard this song a million times. But for some reason when I heard it yesterday, my heart was so touched. It really brought to mind just how much I could never say “thank you” enough. 

I could never say “thank you” enough for:         

Loving me enough to send Your Son to die for me.                                                                   For the way that You always listen and understand and care.                                            For the blessings that I see each and every day walking and breathing and existing for me.                                                   For His Word that speaks to me through countless generations.                                     For providing for everything I could possibly imagine and more.              

For these and so much more, I find myself blessing the Lord. Shouting His praises in the confines of my car. Crying because I could never say or do or be enough. Because He first loved me and pursued me to learn to love Him. 

What a beautiful, encouraging and promising moment while driving along in my car, hoping that my mascara wasn’t running too bad because man, oh man, my daughter let the tissues roll under the seat!

Happy Friday!

Stay focused 

Luke 2:1-7 – “And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.”

It is 2 days before Christmas. We are all, for the most part, running around like crazy people trying to get “everything” done. There are last minute gifts to buy. Groceries to purchase for parties and get togethers. Places to be. People to see. With all the hubbub, it’s even hard to fall asleep some nights with all the thoughts and considerations of what still needs to be done. 

Stop. 

Stop for just one moment. 

Remember. 

Remember why we celebrate. Remember Who we celebrate. Remember why we really give gifts to the ones we love. Remember why this season is so important. 

It’s CHRISTmas. 

When we lose sight of what this season is really all about, it becomes just another excuse to spend money and get all worked up. 

You know, I’m writing this as much to you as I am to me. It is so easy to get caught up in making sure the stockings are stuffed and that every child in the home has about the same number of gifts. It’s easy to feel sorry for yourself for being stressed about getting it all done. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed and jealous when you see someone else so relaxed. It’s easy to lose my focus. 

This is the season that we celebrate God’s choice to send His One and Only Son to the earth to live a sinless life and die a horrible death for all of mankind and then arise from the grave 3 days later just so that we can have a relationship with Him. This is the season we remember and contemplate what Mary and Joseph had to go through with rejection after rejection with a majorly pregnant woman on hand. This is the season when we realize and appreciate that the King of Kings spent His first few hours on this earth in a manager meant to feed animals. 

God gave us the very best gift of all when He gave us Jesus Christ. That’s why we give gifts. We were first given the Gift. This is the season about family – the Father gave His Son to a mother and father who truly believed and trusted Him; they were His children. We are God’s children if we chose to believe in His Son Jesus. Family. 

So in the hustle and bustle of the next few days, don’t lose focus. Remember what it is all about. Take time to share with others what this season truly means. Be weird about it. Make people ask questions why you say “Merry Christmas”. Just don’t lose focus. It is exactly what the devil is trying to achieve – taking our eyes off Christ. 

15,330

Philippians 4:13 – “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”

Today, I am 42 years old. 15,330 days I have been out of my mommy’s tummy and breathing this air. That’s a really big number, you know?

I don’t feel like I have lived that many days. Looking back, like everyone can, I see good days, sad days, fun days, hard days, cold days, hot days, days I will remember forever (I hope) and days I would like to forget. 

But you know what? If I’m honest with myself, I don’t know that there have ever been any “bad” days. Now, I have been known to express a day as a “bad day” but I don’t know that a bad day is possible with Jesus walking with me. 

Any how…the verse. 

As I have said before, this is one of my favorite verses in the Bible. I have faced some tough challenges in my life, according to my narrow scope of reality. And there is no way that I could have come through on the other side without my Jesus. He has held my hand in my darkest hours after my dad passed away. He has dried my tears when a loved one has come home to Him. He has listened when I thought my parenting skills were ruining my children. He has given me confidence when I allowed the devil to take it away. He has put one foot in front of the other when I didn’t believe another step was possible. He has laughed many hours with me. He has been the One to make my 15,330 days possible and full of love, joy, peace, family, laughter and so many more emotions and actions that would possibly never end. 

My 15,330 days have been amazing. I wouldn’t change a thing. Each and every experience has made me who I am today. I’m not sure if God will grant me 15,330 more days, but if He chooses to do so, I want to be a blessing and an encouragement to those around me, even on the not-so-good days.