Mary

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.

When You Hear Your Name

“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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dreams

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

Embracing Love

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.”

~Proverbs 4:23-27

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.

The truth about lying

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

Truth

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.

New Beginnings

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

Pick Me

Queen Anne’s Lace

I have always loved Queen Anne’s Lace and I’ve often wondered how something so beautiful could possibly be a weed. If you’re not familiar with it, you can find it growing along a country road or next to a field. Be sure to look for it. Its unique design reminds me of a snowflake.

Recently, curiosity got the best of me so I googled this plant to see what I could find out. One fact that didn’t come as a surprise was that it reproduces from seed and each one can produce thousands of seeds. Needless to say, it is invasive. No doubt that’s why most people don’t want it around. What surprised me, though, is that it’s considered to be a weed in some locations and in some areas it’s not. Apparently it depends on who you ask.

The story that really struck me, however, was this one. A lady stopped at a flower sale and purchased a plastic cup that contained a plant. Even though she wasn’t sure what kind of plant she was purchasing, she didn’t mind because she loved it!

Not long after got home and planted it, a friend of hers asked if she realized she had purchased a weed. As you’ve probably guessed, she had purchased a cup filled with Queen Anne’s Lace.

Her story reminds me of Jesus and how He paid the price for us . Even though He knew we were far from perfect and that our bad choices could multiply like a thousand seeds blowing along the country side, He still picked us so that we could have life — eternity with Him.

“I’ll never quit telling the story of your love.” Psalm 89:2

“Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.” Ecclesiastes 3:11

What’s holding you back?

You guys. If you read my previous thoughts about going to the Dominican, I hope you will read this one!

I’m back home now, and oh my….. I’m so thankful I didn’t let fear stop me from going on this mission trip. Every single bad thing I thought might happen….didn’t. What I thought would be the highlight….. wasn’t. What I was unsure of became the best part. Life is like that, isn’t it? We just never know what the future holds. I’m learning that’s exactly why we need to stand firm in our faith.

I was offered an opportunity to help teach children English and teach them about God — mainly by sharing His love through my actions. The day before I went out to one of the villages for VBS, I shared part of my testimony with a group of women. They encouraged me to share it during VBS, but I just couldn’t bring myself to share it. I’m still struggling with the fact that I missed that opportunity. It’s like having a sour stomach — for days. I pray I’ll be able to share it one day.

The message on her shirt says it all.

Here’s what I shared with my group. Maybe it will help someone who’s reading this now….

Side Note: The reason I shared this portion of my testimony was because of this question that came up: When did you realize you were a sinner? It brought up a memory from when I was younger and a realization that I discovered I was a sinner before I was a teenager, but I didn’t know what I needed to do about it until much later.

This is what I shared:

When I was in elementary school, a friend and I argued over a boy we both liked. I remember telling her that he was going to marry me. Her reply has stuck with me all these years. She said, “He will never like you because you don’t go to church.” I remember how sad I felt because it was true. You can’t argue with the truth. My family didn’t go to church. In addition to that truth, I thought God probably didn’t love me for the same reason.

For years I felt like I wasn’t good enough, my life was hopeless and that God didn’t even like me. Thankfully, one day someone finally explained that we are all sinners (even the ones who go to church) and although worshiping with other believers is important, it wasn’t something that God checked off a list to determine if He should love us. He loved us first and our “works” aren’t meant to be a way to get to Heaven but should be a heartfelt response to our love for Him.

The truth is, He died on the cross for all of us – not a select few. He loved us from the beginning, and He will continue to be there for us – waiting for us to come to Him – to come home. It’s so hard to comprehend this unconditional love when we constantly face judgement and rejection from others. Can you relate?

However, there’s no comparison to God’s love. No matter how difficult it is, we can’t take our experience with relationships here and compare them to our relationship with Christ. He knows us better than anyone, and He still loves us. Thank you, God.

If you haven’t accepted Christ as your Savior, you can do it right now. You don’t have to go to church to make this happen, but you can. The truth is –God is right where you are. Tell Him you love Him. Tell Him you know you’re a sinner and you’re seeking forgiveness — then let Him come into your life and change it.

“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” ~ Romans 5:6-8

“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Romans 12:2

What are you waiting on?

Where Does Your Peace Come From?

Several years ago, we went on our first mission trip. The place was Costa Rica. It was a life-changing experience; however, I remember telling my husband during that week that I wasn’t cut out for this. I remember being so relieved when we got home. I had learned to appreciate what I took for granted. I saw families experience happiness even though they basically had nothing. I experienced the love of Jesus in that place. No question. The thing was, I just didn’t think I could do it again — ever.

But here I am, packing for a trip to the Dominican. We are going with a different group, but they have the same purpose — to be the hands and feet of Jesus.

I admit I’m a little nervous. There have been 9 reported American deaths in the D.R. A part of me wants to cancel, but a part wants me to stick with it. So, here we are…

I recently sat with a senior saint from our church. After she walked me around her back yard, showing me her beautiful flowers, she started talking about her family.

She said they are “crazy fun” to be around. She paused, then she mentioned that one of her daughters died several years ago. She was one of the healthiest kids — always eating right and exercising. Unfortunately, she found out she had cancer and died a few months later.

This senior saint looked up at me and asked, “Do you believe that God determines how many days we will live on this earth?” She then added, “I do, and that’s what gives me peace about my daughter.”

It gives her peace knowing that God is in control.

What a blessing her visit was. She has no clue how much I needed to hear those words, but God…..

“Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand–when I awake, I am still with you.” Psalm 139:16-18