Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Hope In A Broken World

There is pain in this world. It is there because sin is in this world. God’s design for Earth and all of us was perfection, unparalleled beauty, and constant contact with the Eternal Creator. When tragedy paints its hurt across newsreels and headlines, we have a tendency to lose hope. We wonder why the pain is there and moreover, why it is so prevalent.
The truth is there is only one hope for mankind and that is Christ Jesus.
The only assurance we can have in this life is found in our redeemer. We in the body of Christ must see tragedies like Gosnell’s massacre of infants, the bombing at the Boston Marathon, the Sandy Hook shooting, or the movie theatre shooting in Aurora as reminders as to where hope can be found. It is not in men but in God.
 My heart aches for those who have lost loved ones in these tragedies, but we cannot stop a bomb that has detonated or place the bullets back into the fired gun. We must instead dwell on what we can do through Christ. We must write about the hope. The only true hope found in this life in Jesus.
We must have the holy boldness to share our hope to everyone we encounter. Whether that is someone in the grocery store, a friend on Facebook, or a reader of your blog or article, we need to make the effort to pour Christ’s hope into every soul in sphere of influence.
I give this call to arms on the heels of a tragedy. I do not do this to exploit the pain of others or to benefit from their hurt, I merely want to inspire you, writers for Christ, to “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” (1 Peter 3:15b).
This world is asking for reason for our hope. 
This country begs for a reason for our hope. They beg when they are faced with a great tragedy. They need hope. They need Christ. We cannot save a single soul, but we can be willing to be used of God. We can share our hope in Christ with everyone we meet.
You will never know what God can do through your words if you do not write them. So shout from your cyber rooftops, and proclaim the truth of salvation and the reason for your hope.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

The Importance of Taking a Break

The stress of a 24/7 society has you deliriously busy and woefully unrested.  The bags under your eyes are growing even while you read this article. Maybe you even read the previous sentence more than once because your fatigue has lightly tossed your brain like a salad at Olive Garden (mmm…breadsticks). Maybe you get distracted easily and find it impossible to focus on work, writing, or even spiritual devotion (mmm…breadsticks). If this is you, I have a wonderful bit of news that will lift the pressure of a nonstop world off your shoulders. But first, let’s talk about how cranky and useless we are!
The problem most of us have is we work too hard. We stay up late and get going early. (Especially us writers) We run ourselves ragged to please and help others. We even overwork ourselves at church because we believe if we don’t do “it” no one else will. The end result after a few short months is a tired and worn out saint that is less effective and probably at some level a little bitter.
We work too hard and too long for a couple of reasons. We could be working long hours at home or at work because we are worried about money. Rest assured God has paid your bills so far, and so long as you are faithful in giving (yeah, I’m talking about that dirty word, tithing) to God, he will bless you. David wrote in Psalm 37:25, “I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.” David never in his long life saw God not provide for his people. He will do the same for you.
Another reason for workaholism (trust me, it’s totally a word. I was an English major in college) is the aim to please. That is not a bad thing, but without rest you are far less effective at helping others. We want to keep busy so no one can call us sluggards (those guys are NOT looked upon fondly in the Bible).
You absolutely need a break from everything. Take comfort in knowing the world will not stop just because you did. So just stop! Sleep in (this is sincere advice, but a cruel mocking joke if you have young kids). Take a vacation day if you have one. Ban yourself from blogging and writing. Make a ridiculously easy dinner or take the family out to eat. Pretend you have a Kit-Kat bar and give yourself a break.
You can also have a peace knowing when I say/write these things I have Scripture on my side. Exodus 20:9-10a commands Israel “Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work.” Jesus also gave us the gift of rest in Matthew 11:28 when he says “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
Practically speaking, the dishes still need to be done, the bills still need to be paid, and the reality of a busy world is all but unavoidable. You need to have “no dishes” day. You need to take a break. You need to try your best to avoid the busy world. If you take time to recharge, you will surely be blessed with more energy, better focus, and you will produce better writing. If that fails, just drink more coffee and keep muddling through on your own. But if you weren’t supposed to take a day off, why did God make a six day work week?
How do you make time for breaks? Do you need one right now? Let us know in the comments.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

When We Become Weary In Well Doing

Have you noticed the Christian buzz words about motherhood lately? You don’t need to travel very far on the internet to find words like:

Desperate, hopeless, weak, weary, inadequate, empty and guilt-ridden.

Oh how these words resonate in my heart. I am all of these things and yet I am none of these things. 
I am weak and weary, yet his strength is perfected despite my failings.
In the moments when I forget who my Powerful Lord is I become desperate and hopeless.  And yet the same Jesus who created the stars knows my name, and soothes my troubled heart.
At times I am guilty of sin in my parenting and yet God’s grace covers my imperfections and makes me whole.  And somehow when I seek to abide in Him, he allows me to see the fruit of my parenting.
C.S. Lewis wrote:
“If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.”

The desperation, anxiety, weariness, and unfulfilled longings are all there because we weren’t made for this world.
When we parent only for the now we will always be too weak, too weary, and desperate.  The present contains only hopelessness.  Parenting however isn’t about the present.  Being a mother to my children is about eternity.  It’s about raising my children to KNOW and LOVE the Lord.
The grace of God turns our weakness to strength, desperation to calm, and emptiness to overflowing.  Our hopelessness is turned to the greatest hope that ever was: We will one day walk with the Lord in absolute perfection.
And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. Galatians 6:9

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

When Cleaning Becomes Your God

I was trying to get my house in order the other day, and my youngest kept toddling up to me and grunting.  You guessed it, he wanted to be in mommies very busy  hands.
I gave him treats that would occupy him for a minute or so, but the following me around and grunting/tantrums wouldn’t stop (he doesn’t like to be worn by the way).
After about half an hour of this I lost it, I snapped, I yelled at him.  And for what? Because he wanted to be held and snuggled by his mother?  Not exactly my finest moment in parenting, but I share so you can relate.
About 2 seconds into my tirade I abruptly stopped. I realized in an instant that I had made cleaning my house, which is supposed to bless my family, more important than taking a moment to actually bless my son through touch.  My son just wanted a moment of love, but in my mind I was supposed to be cleaning because that’s what good moms do, right?
I bought a devotional from the thrift store the other day that was only 25 cents.  The title of the book  insinuates that its a book for for women about becoming closer to God.  When I picked it up in the store I thought, “Awesome!” Drawing closer to God has weighed heavily on my heart lately so I thought this book would be a perfect fit.
The book though is maybe 5% Bible and 95% home management tips.  For example there were chapters on looking nice for your husband, preparing home cooked meals, and teaching your children table manners.  All good things.I like home management tips, I’ve written  home management tips, if you subscribe to this blog you get a home management book for free, my best selling book to date falls in the home management category (The ABC’s of Freezer Cooking).
There’s nothing wrong with a home management book, but this was supposed to be a devotional about drawing closer to God.  Drawing closer to God is about abiding in him, not how to teach your children table manners.  It’s completely backwards.  It’s like me trying to be a blessing to my son by cleaning all the while ignoring the opportunity to show him love in the moment.

 It’s about Loving God with all our hearts.  It’s about loving others as ourselves. If our hearts are black as coal it doesn’t matter how spotless our homes are.

As we draw close to the Lord we will naturally desire to become a better person as God begins to work away at our flesh.  We’ll want to become the Titus 2 wife or the Proverbs 31 woman.

Drawing closer to the Lord doesn’t start with rules, it starts with Love, His Love.  (Tweet This)

We must abide in His Love alone if we ever hope to achieve anything in life, whether it’s a well maintained home or a family ministry.

Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. Matthew 22:37-40
When we love God first everything else will fall into place.  Have you ever put the cart before the horse when it comes to home management?

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

What Overflows From Your Heart?

There is an Indian Proverb that says, “What you are filled with with will spill out when you are bumped”  I absolutely love and relate to this proverb.  It rings so true in many ways probably because it’s scriptural.
“For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.” Matthew 12:34b
I’ve been bumped a lot in the past few weeks, bumped by medical worries, bumped by late nights, bumped by fussy kids and bumped by busyness. The list could go on.
I wish I could say all these little bumps have drawn me closer to God and that His grace and patience is what has been spilling over, but quite frankly it isn’t. In fact I’m quite ashamed to even consider writing what has been spilling over, not the character qualities of someone who is Christ like that’s for sure.
Sure it would be easy to rationalize that things are simply stressful right now. It would be easy to just give myself a break, but what spills out when we’re bumped should remind us what we need to be filling our lives with, even though it might be a natural human reaction to the situation.
If I’m skimping on devotion and prayer time, because I’ve got “too much to do” it will affect me. When I’m filling my life with good and godly things, that’s what will spill out. When I’m filling my life with anything but….. well let’s just say I shouldn’t be too surprised.
When we try to do things on our own, in our own strength we will almost always fail. But God is Mighty! God’s strength is enough. I serve the type of God that does miracles. And he reminded me this week how powerful he truly is.
My brother-in-law’s youngest brother lay unconscious in the hospital. He had taken a line drive to the temple from a baseball, his family was told he wouldn’t make it. They were told he’d be lucky if he woke up within 48 hours. EVERYONE started praying. Our church, their church, other churches, pastors, evangelists, missionaries, strangers on Facebook and twitter.
That same little boy to whom doctor’s offered no hope was up in 5 HOURS! He was TALKING, he was WALKING, he was eating Popsicles. Don’t tell me miracles don’t still happen today!
The point though is this: The same God that performs miracles, wants to help YOU. He wants to strengthen YOU, he wants to do a miracle in YOUR life.
Will you let him? Will you make a commitment to him?
It starts with abiding in Him it starts with trusting Him and drawing close to Him daily. What miracles has God done in your life lately?

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

I'm Not Strong Enough To Be a Mom Today!

I needed a moment yesterday.
You know what I’m talking about, one of those lock yourself in the bathroom and eat the potty training M&M’s moments.  Unfortunately I’m not potty training anyone at the moment, and I’ve completely eliminated sugar from my diet.
So instead yesterday I shoved ear-buds in my ears and started listening to my new Pandora station.  I just needed a minute to tune out the chaos around me, just  a minute.
I was waving a white surrender flag, and I had given up on being a mom. Taking a minute to yourself is fine but I had completely surrendered to my grumpiness that had been caused by the three sinful human beings in my care, who don’t know any better yet.  They were just being kids.

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Then I heard these lyrics:
You are my strength when I am weak, You are the treasure that I seek, You are my all in all
Seeking You like a precious jewel, Lord, to give up I’d be a fool, You are my all in all
Conviction washed over me.  Motherhood is HARD and every moment we must depend on the Lord, but what really convicted me was the fact that I have given up on serving my children for a moment, and thereby I was giving up on serving Christ.
Reading the Bible, and praying aren’t the only way we seek Jesus.

As moms we seek Jesus with every sibling squabble we tend to, every runny nose we wipe, and every mess we clean up.

There is no higher calling than serving Jesus, by serving our families.  There will be times we want to wave the white flag, but we’d be fools if we give up.
The family is under attack by Satan.  I’m not talking about anything political either.  What I am talking about is that if we as parents walk out the love of Christ on a daily basis in our homes, if we serve Christ by serving our families with a joyful heart, then our children will be far more likely to choose Christ for themselves when they’re old enough.
We’d be fools to give up, the cost is too great.  When things get to hard remember:
I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. Philippians 4:13

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

What It Means To Choose God's Strength

I’m so excited to introduce you to my newest series.  “God’s Amazing Strength”  Be sure to sign up for e-mail updates so you don’t miss a single post (plus you’ll get a free eBook too).
God’s Amazing Strength Comes From Wisdom
Sometimes it feels like there is a lot riding on this whole “mom thing.”  To think God would entrust me with three children to raise in His love not only inspires my awe but scares the daylights out of me.
There are days when I successfully abide in Christ’s strength, but then there are the days when my emotions, my worries, and my flesh get the best of me.
Those are the days when a simple sibling squabble leads to an eruption that would rival Mt. Vesuvius.
Those are the days when I let my children watch T.V. and just hide under the covers and wish things were different.
Those are the days when thoughts like, “If only we had more money, if only I didn’t have to work from home, if only my acne would clear up, if only they could just get along,” swirl in the recesses of my mind instead of thoughts of peace and contentment.
Those are the days when their cries make me want to run and hide rather than help them. Those are the days when I don’t want to train them in proper behavior, and I just want to yell.

Those are the days when Christ’s strength feels so far from me.

I was having one of those days last week.  It was a funk fueled by an elimination diet and cystic acne that won’t clear up.  In my head I know acne isn’t a big deal but even as an adult who should know better when you can’t wear makeup and your chin is swollen it really can bring a girl down.
My husband dealt with my funk all day.  Then when we went to bed he was finally able to talk some sense into my head and encourage me.  He poured godly wisdom into my spirit despite the fact I had been so unloving.
What he said to me in bed that night brought me hope and strength.
It’s amazing what a little godly wisdom can do.
“Counsel is mine, and sound wisdom: I am understanding; I have strength.” Proverbs 8:14

God’s wisdom brings strength.

So when we’re having one of those days, we should be running to the Word of God and godly counsel for help, and not the M&M stash.
It’s easy to let a funk set in.  It’s easy to hide under the covers and ignore the prodding’s of the Holy Spirit.  But the cost is simply too great.
I can’t be the mother and wife God needs me to be when I don’t depend on His strength. And I certainly can’t be the encouragement to other women God calls me to be if I’m not abiding in His strength and love.
God’s strength is hidden in His wisdom and that is why I seek His face in this journey, which on my own I am so ill equipped and inadequate to travel.