Featured

The Only Opinion That Matters

I believe will all my heart that God gifted me with the ability, desire and skills to encourage. Our world is full of discouragement with no shortage of people ready and willing to tell us what’s wrong. I want to help the world see what’s right. I believe we can find God’s opinion and even his will for us if we’re still and open to the still small voice of his Holy Spirit. The Second Opinion I’m referring to is not mine, but God’s. When it comes down to it, his opinion of us; of our lives, is the only one that really matters. So what is his opinion of us? We need only look to the cross and resurrection to see proof of our value in his heart and his unending love for us.

2 Chronicles 16:9 “The eyes of the LORD search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him…”

Thank you for reading. May you be blessed with truth and peace today and always.

Satisfied?

What satisfies your soul? What does it mean to be satisfied?

I was in awe of the night sky yesterday and had to snap a shot. I was utterly dissatisfied when it turned out almost completely black. I messed with the exposure and other editing options for a while until it looked a little more like what I had seen with my own eyes. I still wasn’t satisfied.

Our expectations have a lot to do with our satisfaction or dissatisfaction. I have not figured this all out yet. Maybe I never will, but I am very curious about it. Some of the times in life I have felt most satisfied have been a result of time and heart invested into a relationship, project, ministry or experience.

Some of the times I’ve felt most dissatisfied are when my expectations were unmet, unrealistic or both.

I’m hoping you’ll share your thoughts so we can get to the heart of this together.

(To Be Continued…)

Lost

Into the Light

Lost

I lost my credit card! Maddening I tell you! It always goes in the exact same spot in my wallet; out for a purchase and right back in. We totally believe in cash-only by-the-way but decided to try this for a new tracking system in 2020… I’m currently NOT sold on our new plan.

Anyhow, I’m in the midst of the frustration at this moment. I stopped at the local Family Dollar and went to grab cash for a gallon of milk this afternoon when I noticed it was missing. I’ve been in and out of my wallet several times since Saturday so I can’t imagine why I wouldn’t have noticed the empty space until today.

I have racked my brain, messaged my best friend, searched clothing pockets, looked in every corner of my life imaginable for this little piece of plastic, called the company to find out the most recent purchase – 4 days ago – even called my husband to confess the bad news and then finally got on my knees to pray.

Why did I pray as a last resort?

Honestly, I thought I knew better by now.

This is really not that different from our spiritual journey. We think everything is fine and then realize it isn’t just in time to start trying frantically to fix ourselves, our struggles, other people and the world before finally coming to the inevitable conclusion that we can’t do this on our own.

We need God. We need his truth, his guidance, his protection, his forgiveness and his love. That is only the beginning. We need to trust him in all the tiny and ginormous challenges of life. Regardless of what happens with my little card, I know he is faithful and that he works all things together for the good of those who love him and are called according to his purpose. He has a plan. He knows where the card is so it’s really not completely lost and neither are we. He always knows just where we’re at and brings us into the light in his perfect timing. I trust his plan and I surrender this tiny little bump to him. He’s got this. He’s got me. He’s got you.

The Art of Parenting

“Discipline your children, and they will give you peace; they will bring you the delights you desire.”
‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭29:17‬ ‭NIV‬‬
https://www.bible.com/111/pro.29.17.niv

Anger vs Guilt and What’s the Alternative?

I was talking with a dad who would like to move away from allowing anger to take over from time to time in his parenting.

We all fall into this trap occasionally so what’s the payoff – why do we do it?

I think part of it is that we get our emotion out. The release of frustration feels good in the moment. We probably don’t build resentment on our end because resentment typically comes from stuffed emotion so there’s some benefit that way as well. There’s a strong possibility, however, that the child builds resentment when we use anger which is likely why we try to temper it when we’re in the heat of the moment.

My way is sometimes the guilt trip or manipulation – a little more subtle, yes, but equally damaging (if not more so) because no one really gets their emotion out. Depending on who ends up getting their way, guilt can build resentment in both the child and the parent.

There are parents who just let their kids “get away with murder” that’s when I think resentment really builds in the parent.

What’s so bad about resentment?

Have you ever turned two magnets the opposite way and tried to stick them together? Resentment turns a relationship that is naturally created to be very close/tight and turns it around like those magnets making it almost impossible for closeness and connection. There’s a constant push back.

Then how do we avoid resentment, discipline well and raise children who “bring us peace and give us the delights we desire” as Proverbs 29:17 claims?

The very first word of the verse says “Discipline.”

The root of the word discipline is disciple.

We start with us. As parents, we need to be students and followers of Jesus. His way, wisdom and the guidance of his Holy Spirit alive and at work in us moment by moment is the only real hope we have of experiencing the true delights of parenthood.

Next, we disciple our children in the daily walk of life. There are moments when we discipline well out of selfless love for our children truly looking out for their best interest and building them up in the way they should go. This begins discipleship because they will very likely default to parenting the way they were parented.

What about when we blow it?

The good news is, they have a perfect Father in Heaven who always gets it right. We can point them to Him.

The other good news is that mistakes in parenting, handled well, can be some of the very best teaching tools and repair moments. A sincere, very genuine, well-timed apology from parent to child can be like flipping those magnets right back around after hours of trying to push them together the wrong way. It models humility and positive relationship skills they’ll need for the rest of their lives.

Parenting well is gut-wrenching, invigorating, impossible, incredible and most of all an absolute privilege. Imagine that God is our perfect father and we get to intern under his loving care as we are given the great responsibility and joy of attempting to help raise his children. We’re never alone. He is here with us every step of the way. Let’s turn to him often, walk in his footsteps, and pray our children will do the same.

Windows

Where the Light Comes In

“When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.””
‭‭John‬ ‭8:12‬ ‭NIV‬‬
https://www.bible.com/111/jhn.8.12.niv

When I go through the motions of life in the midst of chaos and calendars I can easily walk in the darkness for days or longer without even realizing it. Darkness is not always filled with willful sin and evil, sometimes it’s just a dull shadow of the life God has prepared for us.

Look closely at Jesus’ words…“…whoever follows me…” I think the windows of life – where the light comes in – are the moments when we pause, become present, ask God to speak to our hearts, and wake up to the powerful truth that he is right here with us every moment. We can’t follow him without pausing to see where he’s going.

Have you ever walked near a window where the light was flowing in and just stopped to enjoy it? Have you ever found that space on the cushy carpet where the sun had touched the floor and rested there in the warmth? Close your eyes for a moment and remember the sun on your face, the light, the way it brightened your spirit. Breathe deeply. Make windows like this throughout your day to experience his presence and let his light in.

Father God I pray for each person who reads this message. Lord bless them with the warmth of your Holy Spirit. Help them to see your light shining in the darkness and to slow down long enough to truly follow Jesus for he does not only know the way… He is the way.

How To Cheer Up

Five not-so-easy steps that work.

1. Don’t! Don’t even try to cheer up, not yet… just wallow in your own misery for a bit. (For me, this is about 1-2 hours max once I’ve actually recognized I’m down in the dumps.) Okay, so we all know we will cheer up eventually but there is something healing and authentic about feeling our feelings, accepting the fact that we can’t be happy all the time and making peace with it.

2. Tell someone why you’re down. Not everyone (the whole world doesn’t need to know) but at least one or two people close to your heart… chances are, they’ve detected it already anyway. If you don’t have at least one or two folks in your life who get you, it’s time to reach out. Friends and loved ones are one key to your life’s happiness. If you do, be thankful for them!

3. Watch, read or listen to something inspiring! Seriously, you can Google “inspiring talks” or “pep talks” or something specific that you know inspires you and have your pick! You don’t have to spend a lot of time on this, just enough to get your mind back to a positive thought or two.

4. Go outside or at least open a window if you can. If you don’t like to exercise then don’t exercise. Maybe you just need to sit and breathe. Whatever you choose to do out there, try to enjoy some fresh air for at least five minutes.

5. Do something kind, nothing too extravagant! A quick text to let someone know you appreciate them, a shoulder rub or hug for someone close by, eye contact when someone is talking to you, a little chore to help out… you get the idea. Just a tiny kindness to brighten someone’s day.

*I also like to pray through each of these steps. Running to our loving Father who always has open arms of love and Grace is the very best place we can go through all the ups and downs of life.

If you’re not cheering up by the end of this list, leave a comment and I’ll send you some extra encouragement.

If you are experiencing depression, severe anxiety or similar feelings, please reach out to a local expert. The advice above is simply for down days and those bummer moments in life. I hope it helps. I pray God’s peace and blessing for you today and always.

*Bonus! – Do something creative… write, paint, sculpt, draw, sing or whatever makes you feel fully alive!

Power Lines

There are approximately 185 million power line poles in the U.S. alone. One resides in my lawn and my prayer garden happens to be located almost directly beneath the lines. In my quiet time I have felt the connection between prayer and power lines. The power source for our home is well over 20 miles away yet the flip of a switch proves that power is always there and ready to be accessed because we’re connected to the power source. There are 4 lines. I won’t even pretend to know why, but there just are… I notice them often and I use the four as a visual reminder of these four things.

1. I need my Father in Heaven… His word, his unconditional love, and his protection from evil.

2. I need my Savior, Jesus, the son of God, a living sacrifice… his forgiveness of sin and the example he set for me to love and to serve.

3. I need the Holy Spirit… the counselor, comforter and the one who reminds me of all the things Jesus came to teach.

4. I need to stay connected to my power source through prayer. Prayer changes me. I get lined up with God’s will. I am reminded of God’s faithfulness and I listen carefully to the still-small-voice that seems to speak right to my heart.

His power is available to us as easily as the flip of a switch. When we let his light lead the way things that seemed so complicated and dark can become so clear and bright.

I pray this light for you today. Who or what is your power source? I have spent way too much of my life trying to do things in my own power. I know it’s time to allow his power to be made perfect in my weakness.

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”
‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭12:9‬ ‭NIV‬‬
https://www.bible.com/111/2co.12.9.niv

Guilty?

I think I was about 16 years old. I had made so many mistakes, fallen so far from God’s plan for my life and tucked my head under the covers of discouragement and despair.

I have no idea how I got to that church pew that day, I cannot remember what spark allowed my heart to finally open or why God used that moment for repentance, but the feelings of peace, forgiveness, mercy, grace, acceptance and a truly fresh start; those I will never forget.

If you’ve ever experienced repentance, you know exactly what I’m taking about. If you haven’t, I’ll make a feeble attempt to explain…

We all fall short of the glory of God. We all sin. We all make mistakes. We all hurt others and ourselves. There comes a time when our soul is just fed up with it. Our spirit sees a glimpse of what life could be if we were to fully surrender our filth to God, accept his forgiveness and start again. If that glimpse is enough to pull us in, God can use those feelings of guilt or even shame to show us how deep and how wide his love really is. He can remove a heart of stone and replace it with a heart of flesh beating for him.

I am and will be forever grateful for the many moments of repentance in my life. In his perfect timing, I hope and pray God will spark them in your life as well.

Scripture References

“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,”

‭‭Romans‬ ‭3:23‬ ‭NIV‬‬

https://www.bible.com/111/rom.3.23.niv

“may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ,”

‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭3:18‬ ‭NIV‬‬

https://www.bible.com/111/eph.3.18.niv

“I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh.”

‭‭Ezekiel‬ ‭11:19‬ ‭NIV‬‬

https://www.bible.com/111/ezk.11.19.niv

“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”

‭‭Lamentations‬ ‭3:22-23‬ ‭NIV‬‬

https://www.bible.com/111/lam.3.22-23.niv