After a long, difficult day where I help teach preschool, my soul was touched when I heard a group of children randomly sing “Jesus Loves Me” in our classroom. There is nothing more uplifting than hearing the voices of children lift up His name.
Oh, how He loves you and me…
I received such a sad message this week that one of my son’s friends died at his workplace. I couldn’t believe it – he was only 34 years young. As of today, the cause isn’t known.
Tonight was the viewing, and as soon as I saw his mom we embraced. I sensed that she was still in shock, but it’s possible she ran out of tears for the time being.
After we talked in the entrance, my husband and I walked around — looking at all the photos they had on display. Such a short life to be captured on the boards along the way.
As we walked up to the casket, I felt his mom’s presence once again. She had walked up behind me and began to explain what she knew. She said,”He had been complaining of chest pains for a couple weeks, but he thought it was something like pleurisy.” Her explanation stopped there and that’s when my thoughts drifted off — trying to imagine what she is thinking and feeling. All I could think of is how different things would be if he had taken the time to get the pain checked out.
Such a sad story for the ones left behind. Absolutely heartbroken are his wife and 3 daughters, mom and dad, and naturally — his friends.
As we walked out to our car, I couldn’t help but think how easy it is to dismiss those warning signs that indicate something is seriously wrong — physically, mentally or spiritually. Why do we do it?
How about you? Are you ignoring some warning signs that are trying to grab your attention? Life can be incredibly complicated, but God is incredibly good.
He just might be pursuing you — sending you messages through something painful — trying to reveal that something needs to heal, change, be plucked out of your life.
“If you aren’t willing to listen to everything God has to say, you eventually won’t hear anything He has to say. If you want to hear His comforting voice, you have to listen to His convicting voice. And it’s often what we want to hear least that we need to hear most.” ~Mark Batterson
“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” Proverbs 4:23
When I was in the 6th grade, I had to give my first oral presentation. I was extremely nervous about getting in front of my peers, especially since I wasn’t prepared.
We had a choice to do a report on a book or a movie — then tell the class about the highlights. The purpose of the presentation was to make what we read or watched so appealing that most of the audience would want to read or see it. My best friend and I both thought the movie would be more fun, so that’s what we chose to do.
The thing is, I didn’t get to see the movie. I knew I would fail the class if I didn’t do the report and the presentation, so I did the unthinkable and asked my friend if she would give me all the details that she captured. All I had to do was change some of the words so that it wouldn’t be obvious.
I’ll never forget the anxiety I experienced as I waited for my name to be called to come to the front of the class. There’s something awkward about giving a speech about a movie that you’ve never experienced. My description was very straight forward and quite boring.
I remember the silence in the room as I basically repeated what my friend told me. Believe me, I didn’t experience a wonderful feeling of achievement when explaining the plot and the outcome since I didn’t see it firsthand, and I hoped with all my being that no one would ask me any questions — especially the teacher. Like, what would I say?!
All I know is that I could not wait to get back to my seat because I looked forward to having the weight of the world lifted off of my shoulders. Sadly, that didn’t happen. I ended up experiencing the complete opposite — more like an overwhelming feeling of complete failure all around.
- I had deceived my teacher.
- I put my friend in a bad position.
- I didn’t do what I was instructed to do.
- I received a grade that I didn’t deserve.
- No one wanted to go see the movie after my speech.
It was then that I realized that it wasn’t a good thing to try to ride on the coattails of someone else in order to be successful.
The same with my faith. I could repeat what others have taught me throughout the years; however, there wouldn’t be any passion behind my words if I haven’t read them and experienced them myself.
How about you? Do you know the way to Heaven, or are you simply hoping to ascend on the coattails of others?
“Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6
It’s been awhile since I’ve even had a desire to write. Even though writing has been a huge outlet for me for the last 7 years, I recently haven’t been able to write a single word. If you choose to express your thoughts this way instead of using your voice in some way, then you know the feeling when you feel your thoughts flow through your fingertips and magically appear onto your computer screen. It can feel that good — even if no one reads them.
My life has been pretty crazy lately. I know, you’re thinking that’s life today. However, I don’t think my spirits have dipped this low, ever. They are finally on the upswing, but I recently walked in a valley I’ve never experienced before. Because my husband is a minister — fairly new to our church, I didn’t know if I should talk about it, so I’ve pretty much kept it to myself…and to my husband. Until now.
We never know what life is going to throw at us, but one thing I know is this: we need to be prepared because those hard times that we think will never touch our life — can happen. Things you never dream of doing or avoiding sometimes do happen. That’s when the hard questions come.
One question I kept hearing being whispered in my ear — over and over – was this: How do I know God still loves me? (I know John 3:16, but I’m talking about later on – after we have accepted Jesus, asked for forgiveness, been baptized, and lived a life of serving Him….and then we mess up or we’re experiencing a crisis.)
Out of curiosity, I turned to my school-aged Sunday School class and asked what they would say if someone asked that question after a school shooting, for example. Every one shrugged their shoulders as if to say – I don’t know the answer.
As I left my classroom, I realized that so many of us are so unprepared. What a great need there is for all of us!
Still searching for an answer, I recently read something on a devotional on YouVersion that provided something, at least. It comes from ADVENT: THE JOURNEY TO CHRISTMAS
The Scripture reference is found in Luke 2:18. “Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.“
The devotion encourages us to “turn to the supply we’ve saved to sustain us when we’re in need. Knowing the prophecies about the Messiah’s sacrifice, Mary would have been aware that her precious child would one day experience incredible suffering. When she stood at the foot of the cross as her Son was crucified, Mary must have had to rehearse every memory she had of God’s faithfulness so she could continue believing in the promise of Jesus’ resurrection. In her greatest moment of pain, she had a collection of proof that God would do what He promised.”
It doesn’t matter if you’re presently living on the mountaintop, do yourself a favor and check your reserve. What are you storing up in your heart? Friend, there will come a day when you will need to tap into that reserve so that you won’t forget His promises and how deeply our Savior loves you.
A perfect way to celebrate His birth, by storing His love and promises in your heart so that they can be unwrapped at the proper time.
“And let us not get tired of doing what is right for after a while we will reap a harvest of blessings if we don’t get discouraged and give up.” Galatians 6:9
A preschool student was caught making a bad choice in the classroom. The thing is — this wasn’t the first time. Same mistake. Same reaction. When she heard her teacher say her name, she ran from the teacher. No matter what the teacher said as she tried her best to get her student’s attention, the more the little girl became upset and perhaps embarrassed. She finally ducked underneath a desk with hopes that she wouldn’t be seen. What she hasn’t learned yet is that running away and hiding doesn’t make something go away; it was only delaying the inevitable.
As silly or childish as that may seem to an adult, we have to ask — are we any different? It’s pretty humbling when we hear our Father’s voice call out our name as He reveals our sin. Although He may not yell it out from across the room, it’s pretty clear when He’s trying to get our attention through scripture, a sermon, or through a life experience.
Listen, no one likes to get caught doing something wrong. However, the sooner we stop running or hiding from God — from the truth — the sooner we are able to finally face the truth that we are sinning and that we need to change.
If you’re feeling as though God is out there — like….far away, perhaps it’s because you are the one who is running away. If you have something in your life that would make you cringe if it was revealed to others (like addiction, jealousy, lying, or stealing) then you need to just stop now…. and listen to the voice of truth. Why? Because He loves you and He knows what’s best for your life. Trust Him.
“Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” Proverbs 4:23
Have you ever had a dream that something would happen? Like, you almost become obsessed with it and can’t stop thinking about it? I’ve had several in my lifetime, and it’s pretty amazing when that dream comes true.
I love to take pictures. Most of them are of nature or landscape type photos. They’re nothing really special and I certainly don’t receive a million likes for anything I’ve shared (ha), but I truly enjoy it. It does something in my heart that I can’t explain.
I’ve had this desire to capture different moments. The first is where it looks like someone is holding the moon in the palm of their hand, or where someone is hanging on the edge of a crescent shaped moon. That would be epic.
I guess missed opportunities sometimes spark something inside, too. I once saw a bright red Cardinal sitting on a snow-covered branch, and as soon as I took a step closer to snap a pic, he flew away. There’s no doubt that the picture would’ve been frame worthy, but I guess it wasn’t meant to be. Naturally, that is on my list.
The last one that I’ve always hoped for is capturing the sky with a red, white, and blue sunset. Unless you have photoshop, it’s not something that you make happen. So you look…and you wait.
The other night, I was walking outside when I noticed the beautiful sunset that was developing. I started taking pictures with my IPhone. It wasn’t until I looked at the photos later on that I realized that one of my dreams had finally come true. (Picture above) BAM!
Dreams are fun. I’m really not sure what drives us to dream of wanting something, but I do know they give you something to look forward to. Day after day.
Here’s the thing…. When we become so focused on the outcome of our dreams rather than what is eternal, we are setting ourselves up for disappointment and maybe heartache. Oh, it’s heavenly when something good happens — like getting that picture that you’ve always hoped for, but the thrill quickly vanishes. However, when we put all of our hope in those things that only God can provide — we will experience true joy. Everlasting.
“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
2 Corinthians 4:18
If you’re like me, sometimes you read something that truly resonates with your spirit and you Immediately underline it or highlight it. You might even write a little note next to it with the date. If it’s on the internet, you might tweet it or post it on Facebook.
When I was reading my devotions, I read this: “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Keep your mouth free of perversity; keep corrupt talk far from your lips. Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you. Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways.”
I’ve read those words a million times, and I’ve never realized their significance until now. Isn’t it funny how life changes your perspective? Words I once read over and over now pops off the page and pierces my heart. That’s exactly why I’m sharing it here. Maybe you need the reminder, too.
I’m also reading this book titled Sensible Shoes, by Sharon Garlough Brown. Although I’m having the hardest time getting through it, (I’ve been trying to read it for a year!) I have highlighted several comments that were that good and I wanted to remember them. Today I read this…
“What if God is trying to pour out his love for you through me?”
The story is too complicated to explain and doesn’t really matter here but makes me think. Do you have that someone in your life that you’re rejecting because you’re just not ready for love? Or, perhaps you are losing someone due to circumstances you can’t control. Maybe God was using that person to pour HIS love into your life — just for a period of time. Whatever the case may be, we should be thankful that we got to experience it at all.
The old saying “love hurts” is true, but it’s worth it.
This will sound negative and like it’s coming from a person who has a critical spirit, BUT…. I think I’ve been lied to.
I know, I know…. you’re thinking “welcome to the real world,” but here’s the thing — it involves someone I thought I could truly trust. Someone I’ve confided in. Many times.
Why do people try to cover their tracks? Why don’t they have the guts to tell the truth? I mean, isn’t our friendship worth more than that?
The Bible tells us that Jesus was tempted like we are, yet He remained sinless. I am sure there were times when it would’ve been easy for Him to tell people what He knew they wanted to hear, but He didn’t.
Jesus set the bar for us to follow. Baptism. Forgiveness. The importance of knowing Scripture. Loving others. And then there’s this thing called the truth.
“The LORD detests lying lips, but he delights in people who are trustworthy.” Proverbs 12:22
Life is hard.
Our memory verse for the 4th & 5th graders this morning:
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. Acknowledge Him in all your ways, and He will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6
Boy, did I need this reminder today. Maybe you do, too.
And so a new school year has begun!
I don’t know about you but when I was growing up, I always looked forward to this time of year. I couldn’t wait to get new school supplies and maybe a few new clothes. As I got older, I looked forward to meeting new classmates and new teachers. Along with the anticipation, however, I was anxious about the unknown and afraid of experiencing what seemed like unrealistic expectations.
Middle school…. How do you explain the middle school years? If you’ve been through it, you know these years can be the best and most challenging of all. That’s when you’re trying to figure out who you are and where you fit in. I often pray specifically for these teachers because they play such an important role in helping their students learn how to handle all kinds of changes.
Everyone has their favorite years. For me, it was a relief to start high school. It was my freshman year when I realized I needed to buckle down and focus more on my education. There’s nothing like a fresh, clean start.
When I started college, my life changed in many ways. That’s the year I realized I needed to focus on what God desired rather than striving to be loved by my peers. The truth that Jesus loved me and had a purpose for me ricocheted in my spirit and changed everything. I pray you understand that truth applies to you, too.
Since that time, I’ve learned that life can give us some of the hardest lessons and tests. Sometimes we ace them, sometimes we fail. What we need to remember, though, is that God gives us the wisdom, strength, and courage we need if we’ll just take the time to read His Word. Unlike certain subjects in school that seem worthless because we don’t see how we’ll possibly use them later in life, His Word is filled with words of wisdom that we need for eternity.
“For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” Romans 15:4