After getting our oldest son off to school this morning, my husband said he’d watch the other boys so I could grab a little quiet time. He is so sweet and knows what I need! I’m grateful for the coffee shop 5 minutes from our house – and that it’s open inside! I’m sitting near a window watching the snow fall and loving this moment of stillness in between my sweet life of rowdy boys and non stop talking.
Unexpected interruption…three hours later…let’s try this again.
The following is a thought I jotted down forever ago and set aside. I found it today and decided to post it.
This morning, over a cup of tea, I read Deuteronomy 8. The caption in my Bible reads, Do Not Forget the Lord. The Lord is reminding the Israelites to remember Him when they make it through to victory. Here are some snapshots of the chapter: “Remember how the Lord your God led you…When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the Lord your God…Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God…He led you through the vast and dreadful desert…He brought you water out of the hard rock…He gave you manna to eat…You may say to yourself, ‘My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.’ But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability…”
Today I’m reminiscing on my life with God, the good times as well as the difficult ones. I’m reflecting on His faithfulness, discipline and deep, deep love for me.
God never wastes anything in our lives when we surrender ourselves to Him. So whether we’re learning lessons in the desert or in the promised land, He is always working to draw us closer to Himself and to transform our imperfect nature into characters that reflects His own.
As different ones of you read this, you will find yourselves in various situations. Some are probably struggling, others are enjoying the reward of hard work paid off, still others are in a season of trusting as you have no idea what comes next. Whatever point in the journey you find yourselves in, I challenge you, as I do myself, never forget to remember the Lord and recognize His hand in each season.
It’s been a while since I’ve written (confession, I’m in the middle of a historical fiction series that I’m having a hard time putting down) so since my husband is watching the boys this afternoon, I decided to make use of the time and share something that’s been on my mind lately – God as our helper.
This isn’t some new revelation for me because I was taught from a young age that the Holy Spirit was given to be our helper and I have experienced Him more times than I can count. But God has a beautiful way of taking something old and making the fact come alive in a new, fresh and deeply personal way. And He’s done that for me recently so I wanted to share what’s on my heart. He’s been making me keenly aware of His help in the everyday moments of life.
This awareness has been life-giving. It has yielded a renewed closeness and partnership with God as we’ve journeyed this crazy life together.
When we look at this on a deeper than surface level, it is powerful. For me, this has produced a molding of my character and I’ve experienced growth in certain spiritual fruits that I was lacking. I’ve found myself responding in ways that were clearly not my natural instincts. I’ve been mindful to ask God for wisdom and discernment in seemingly insignificant moments that have actually been steps in forming our history and memories.
I challenge you to take an honest look at yourself and ask God to unveil things in which you need His help. I’m talking anything and everything from big decisions to daily moments interacting with your family.
My prayer for all of us:
God, give us teachable spirits and make us aware of Your readiness to help in every area of our lives. As we rely on You for the little, daily things that add up to life changing moments, teach us to act and react in ways that reflect You and bring You honor.
My parents gave me a Bible for Christmas during my senior year of high school. Twenty years later, it’s marked with dates in the margins and underlined passages as it’s journeyed with me through school, college, adulthood, marriage and children. I love flipping through the pages and reminiscing moments with God in various seasons. I thought I’d share a random list of verses with you that I like and, hopefully, encourage your day. (I’ve included the references so you can read the context if you’d like.)
“Then Moses said to him, ‘If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here.’”Exodus 33:15
“To Him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy – to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen” Jude 1:24-25
“But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit.” Jude 1:20
“Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.” Philippians 1:27
“…they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.” Acts 4:13b
“Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!” Luke 1:45
“Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens.” Psalm 68:19
“Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall.” Psalm 55:22
“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you.” Psalm 32:8
“He tunnels through the rock; his eyes see all its treasures. He searches the sources of the rivers and brings hidden things to light.” Job 28:10-11
“They were all trying to frighten us, thinking, ‘Their hands will get too weak for the work, and it will not be completed.’ But I prayed, ‘Now strengthen my hands.’” Nehemiah 6:9
“…The Lord is Peace…” Judges 6:24
“Be careful that you do not forget the Lord…”Deuteronomy 6:12a
“But the Pharisees and experts in the law rejected God’s purpose for themselves…” Luke 7:30a
“She did what she could…” Mark 14:8a
“…And when they saw him, they pleaded with him to leave their region.” Matthew 8:34b
“He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.” Zephaniah 3:17b
“Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs.” Jonah 2:8
“I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope; Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.” Lamentations 3:19-22
“I, the Lord, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand.” Isaiah 42:6a
“you whom I have upheld since you were conceived, and have carried since your birth. Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.” Isaiah 46:3b-4
What are some of your go to passages?
We have all heard the phrase, “Because of Covid…” many times and each of us could finish this sentence with our own stories. For me, 2020 has canceled a lot of plans, rearranged my schedules and challenged me to, as Paul wrote, “learn the secret of being content in any and every situation (I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me).”
Who would have guessed 12 months ago all the things that would transpire and where we would be on this New Years Eve. Wow – what a year! And yet, here we are.
I make a family photo album every year and as I’ve looked back at this year’s memories, it is marked with so many joys amidst the challenges. And I’m grateful. I’m grateful for the “ups” but I’m also grateful for the growth I’ve made in the “downs.”
During days of question and tears, Jesus has drawn me closer to Himself as He’s taken me to places in my heart that needed to be surrendered.
In his article, Last Days Ministries: Free As A Slave, Winkie Pratney talks about yielded versus unyielded rights. We have ideas of how life should look and how we want our plans to unfold but if we hold too tightly to these ideas, we will find ourselves in a place wrestling between God’s peace and life’s anxieties. God wants us to surrender everything to His loving care – our plans, dreams, fears, hopes, failures, expectations and so on – and trust Him.
I’ll never forget what Pastor Shull said at a conference last summer, “Peace is the reward of surrender.”
As we close out this crazy year and enter into the unknowns of 2021, I pray that we will walk with confidence knowing that if we are journeying with Jesus, we are not alone no matter what lies ahead. He is already there.
Wishing all of my readers a very Happy New Year.
Parenting is one of my favorite (and one of the hardest) jobs I’ve ever had. It’s amazing to think that God would entrust us with the responsibility of raising and training little humans. This is not something to be taken lightly. This takes sacrificial love, tough love (aka discipline) and flat out hard work.
Several years back when we had two little ones I reached out to a friend, who had eight kids, and asked her for any parenting tips she would be willing to share. She offered a variety of great advice but the thing I will never forget was this quote, “I offer God my best and ask Him to fill in the gaps.”
This is so beautiful. When we allow the Holy Spirit to be our teacher, He parents along side of us. Sometimes He changes our character to make us better parents. At other times, He protects our children in moments when we didn’t even know they needed protection. He shows us what each child needs in their own unique, God-given personalities.
Everyone says that these years pass quickly, and I believe it. If you are a parent with kids still in the house, I challenge you to make the most of this precious time you have with your children. If your kids are already grown, never underestimate the result that prayer and love produces.
There are many people way ahead of us on this journey (we are only 6 years in) but I pray that something God has shown us can be an encouragement to you. Whatever stage you are at in this process, it is not too late to allow the Holy Spirit to direct you in this responsibility.
The influence that we have within the home is extremely powerful. Our words are being processed. Our lives are being watched. Things we do consciously and unconsciously are being observed and repeated.
I know at some point our kids are going to face the temptations of this sinful world, but I never want that door to be opened inside of our home. I want our home to be a safe place to talk and discuss, learn and grow.
For those of you who are like me and enjoy reflection, here are four questions to ask yourself today:
- What have I done today to encourage my children in their gifts and talents
- What have we talked about today that would direct their thoughts to Jesus
- How have I responded to them (under pressure and in calm moments)
- Have I prayed for (and with) my children today
It’s never too late to start. It is my prayer that as we walk close to Jesus and introduce our children to Him, they will have a passion to know Him for themselves and they will be world changers.
Go love your kids today.
Shout out to my parents. I’m forever grateful for their example. They pointed us to Jesus and showed us by their lives what servanthood and unselfishness looks like.
Here is a list of things we have done on road trips with our kids (ages 1, almost 4 and 6). I’d love to hear what your family does. New ideas are always fun and helpful.
- Reading time
- Screen time (mix in educational shows/apps/games)
- Eye Spy (color game)
- Snack time (We sacrifice crumbs for peace and quiet and killing a little more time – We just try to vacuum our car after every long trip and it’s SO worth it)
- Coloring with magic crayons (the ones that only color on specific coloring books) are perfect for any age
- Stop and get wiggles out
- The humming game (hum a tune and everyone else guesses the song)
- Look outside and try to find interesting things
- Bring a bag of toys / books / coloring books
- Find it first game (I have no creative title for this game. Split family into two teams and have a list of outside objects to find. The first team to find them and say them aloud wins and gets candy)
“What is personality? I am speaking of it in the higher spiritual sense. Personality is character formed in secret with God.” – T. Austin Sparks
I’m still a year and a couple months shy of 40 but when my husband hit the big 4-0, it threw me into a couple days of introspection. I’m already quite obsessed with reflecting on life but somehow this moment took me for a deeper dive.
I found myself asking, “If I could go back and change anything in my life up to this point, what would it be?” I added some things to my mental list and then began to ruminate on what could still be changed and what would stay in the category of “I wish I had…”
I know that none of us know our futures and we are not even promised tomorrow but in the event that I die of old age, my life could possibly be half over, which led me to my second question. If in forty years I’m on my death bed, what will I regret if I don’t change now?
So I wanted to pose the same question to you. I’m talking anything – a major life decision, a hobby you’ve wanted to tackle, a character issue you’ve wanted to overcome.
This has been good for me. It’s helped keep me focused when the mundane has tried to distract. As long as we have life and breath, there is possibility and opportunity.
When I look back on my life, I want to know that I’ve spoken kindly, loved deeply, followed Jesus faithfully and pursued every dream God has placed in my heart with 100% of my efforts.
I encourage you, don’t live under the burden of regret but rather the peace of surrender. Then trust God enough to show you how to live so your future doesn’t contain regrets.
We cannot change our past. We can, however, still change our future’s past.