It has been a very trying few weeks. We had one of the worst virus’s that I have ever experienced and it went through all of us one at a time. Being that I have a larger sized family, it’s safe to say that we’ve been home bound for at least 3 weeks with a few healthy days here or there before the horrid plague claimed another victim! But as I sit here at the hopeful end of this very small trial, I am just amazed by God and so thankful for the hope of salvation.
I start to think about the loved ones I have who have experienced much more dire health issues. Cancers, heart disease, liver failures and drug addictions. I think about my nephew fighting leukemia. I think about the brokenness that drug addiction has brought to our family through blood relations and foster care. I think about my beautiful Mom with her bald head and my Dad and Step Mother with their own cancer scares. And, it goes beyond my immediate family. Aunts, uncles and friends. There is much suffering and much heartache in this life we live. As I look around, I am so grateful that our hope is not in this life but in the one to come.
As I watch these people walk through their trials with God held high, surrendering their lives and their wills to a Father that is all knowing and loving, I stand in awe. Whether He chooses to heal or to take them home, they are at peace and the Jesus in them shines bright. It is humbling and convicting. Especially after three weeks of feeling sorry for myself over a silly virus. I am so thankful for the reminder that this is not our home. We will suffer much here but He’s already overcome it all.
When I first became a christian, the idea of sharing the Gospel with unbelievers was intimidating and scary to me. In my mind I pictured going door to door and having them all slammed in my face. I wasn’t interested in that kind of rejection! So I did what any other person would do and I stayed in my own little bubble of friends and lived my life the best way I knew how. Sure, I’d share my faith if someone asked but I really liked being comfortable. My faith was miles wide but only inches deep. I had become complacent in my comfort.
Three years ago some faithful sisters in Christ decided that God was calling them to start a Bible study in their home. Every week we poured over scriptures, shared our struggles and prayed. It was such a beautiful season of growth and our friendships and our faith deepened. We prayed that God would use us mightily in our town. We prayed for the impossibles. We prayed to be filled. Little did we know as our small group sat around that table, that God would not only answer our prayers, but that He would send many of us clear out of our comfort zone and beyond state lines even! We all had to readjust as the comfortable life we had known was now being changed. For my own personal testimony, I moved into a town where I knew no one. We had no church, no close family and no friends. When I look back on that season, there is so much I learned about living the Gospel.
- The first thing I learned is to just say, “Hello”. We may not all be social butterflies but we are all called to love our neighbors. How can you love someone if you do not talk to them?
- The second lesson was on hospitality. We moved into this huge house with all our children and felt just lost. But, God knew what He was doing. As we struggled to adjust to our new home and circumstances, our neighbors across the street invited us over for dinner. They left candy in our mailbox for the girls and left a sweet and thoughtful gift for me as well. Their kindness and invitation was a confirmation to me. God had brought us here. And, then to my utter shock we visited the church down the road and we were once again invited to dinner by another sweet couple! I marveled. God used these people to pour love on us and I saw Jesus in their love.
- Thirdly, I learned that we must be brave and share what God has done for us with others! We decided after being so blessed by other’s boldness in loving us to do the same. We started inviting everyone over for dinner…I mean everyone! And, do you know what happens when you spend intimate time with people? You learn so much about each other! Talking about our faith happened naturally and it didn’t feel forced. The Gospel can be shown very clearly if we are willing to share what God has done in our lives!
- And, lastly I learned the importance of being a blessing! I honestly feel as if I’ve been more on the receiving end of this lesson than the giving. We’ve had meals brought over to us, people offer to watch our children, baby clothes, diapers, toys, and countless prayers. God has used others to minister to us in such amazing ways. The sacrifices people have made for us have shined such bright light into our life and compelled us to keep going as we walk through hard seasons of foster care, homeschooling and parenting.
It has become clear to me that sharing the Gospel with those around us isn’t all that complicated. We don’t need to go door to door to share Christ. We just need to invite people in, feed them and love them. It may not always feel comfortable but that’s ok. Sometimes being a little uncomfortable is exactly what we need!
The worst thing happened tonight at bath time! I was putting peanut into the tub when my phone slipped out of my pocket and landed right in the warm bubbly water. I don’t have one of those fancy water proof phones or a water proof case so I’m hoping a 48 hour soak in rice will save the day! But 2 hours into this forced phone fast, it is shocking how addicted I have become to that little piece of technology.
We live in a culture that is so saturated by technology and instant gratification that its completely normal to have our phones within arms reach at all times. Even now as I type this, my mind keeps wandering back to my phone. What if someone texts me? What if someone calls? No podcasts?! No Camera?! No Calendar?! No music?! I feel like something has gone terribly wrong and I think maybe it has.
The problem however, is not that my phone is taking a vacation but rather that this is such a struggle for me to begin with! How is it that I have become so dependent on being “connected” with my smart phone? And then the convicting thought, “Why am I more dependent on and connected to my phone than I am my God?” Ouch.
All the hours of time wasted scrolling through Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram and yet how much time do I spend seeking God’s face? How many times a day do I check to see if I have any texts or notifications? A ton guys…like ever 5 minutes! If I prayed as much as I stared at that little screen. Now that would be something. That would be world changing!
So yes, I’m withdrawing pretty hard right now from something I didn’t realize had taken control of me. But I’m also feeling pretty thankful that God has given me this realization. So sisters I want to encourage you to take a step back and think about those things in your life that maybe should be re-evaluated too! In your life what things are time wasters and time stealers? What has become more important than it should be and distracts you from more important work? I want to encourage you to turn off your phones, step away from facebook, and do something. Read a story to your children, paint a picture, journal, pray, or bake even. Don’t let anyone or anything other than God rule your heart and mind. We must be diligent about this!
In a few days, I won’t be forced to be unplugged anymore but this time things will be different! Maybe instead of looking at my facebook before climbing out of bed, I’ll look out the window and thank God for another beautiful day! Maybe instead of mindlessly scrolling while drinking my coffee, I’ll read some Psalms. Maybe this is exactly what I needed and maybe it’s exactly what you need too!
Lately, I really miss having quiet time to just be in God’s presence. My life at the moment just isn’t very conducive to any sort of scheduled alone time for myself minus a few rare moments here or there. And there is literally no quiet in this house. None!
I use to love the girls bed time because it gave me time to unwind and catch up on my reading or whatever I felt led to do. Now a days, my oldest ones want to hang out instead of sleeping. And with baby, I still can’t even get more than a 3 hour chunks of sleep at night! I remember a season not too long ago before our bonus blessing when I was able to spend time with Jesus every morning! It was such a great season of growing and maturing! I miss it!
But now with a infant back in my home, waking up early to spend quiet time with the Lord is just not an option. I can’t read and pray uninterrupted with a baby needing my attention. I try to squeeze some time out of the short naps baby takes, but even then often a child is knocking on my door crying or someone needs my help. It’s become very apparent to me that in this season, the best that I may get on most days is a few verses or a podcast. And my prayers are less frequent too, sometimes rushed, and often forgotten in the craziness of my every days. Even now as I write this, I have my oldest watching the baby and I have twenty minutes y’all! Twenty minutes to write and yet somehow as always, when I’m in crunch time God always brings something! He’s amazingly faithful even in the midst of our struggles!
I want to encourage mommies in the crazy seasons of life. The seasons of newborns, toddler tantrums, home school crazy, tummy bugs, dirty floors, and laundry piles ceiling high. These are just seasons! God knows! Even if you can’t hide in your room and take an hour to study and read, you can do something and that something will make all the difference! I may not have the opportunities at the moment to read through a commentary on the book of John, but I can put one verse on the window sill by the sink and read it every time I wash a dish, prepare a meal, or wash my hands. I can’t sit down and watch teaching series at the moment but I can listen to a podcast while I brush my teeth and put on my make up! I’m finally starting to understand that even though I may not be growing leaps and bounds in my Bible studies at the moment, God is just as much in this crazy season as He was in the others! Maybe even more so? He’s sustaining me in moments when I just feel drained and tired. He’s still gently drawing me near even when I do more wandering than seeking. He still convicts lovingly when I wander too far. He’s still here no matter what season I may be in. One day soon, things will calm down and change. But until then, I’m right where God has put me and we can all be confident that no matter what season we are in He is there. If we seek Him, we will find Him!
Lately my mouth keeps getting me into trouble! I can be so quick to nag or get defensive with my husband. Or sometimes without realizing it, I am quick to spout off the “right” way to do something, when what I should be doing is taking a step back and remembering that I don’t need to have my way all the time. It is so easy to fall into unhealthy and ungodly patterns of thinking and speaking! When it comes to marriage, easy is an understatement!
My husband loves me an awful lot though and has no problem telling me to guard my tongue. But even more so, God makes it abundantly clear when I need to repent! It seems that I need this necessary reminder more often than I’d like! Can anyone relate? The reality is, if I am getting loose lips, I am sinning and not following God’s Word.
James 1:22 says, “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” If tension is building in my home because of what comes out of my mouth, God is giving me a very clear message that I need to repent, pray for the Lord’s help in guarding my tongue, and change the way I listen and speak.
The Bible has a lot to say about our tongues and how we use them. James 3 compares our tongues to a spark that can burn an entire forest to the ground. It calls our tongues evil, corrupting, and full of deadly poison! The Bible also calls people with loose lips fools! Proverbs 18:7 says, “A fools mouth is his destruction and his lips are the snare of his soul.”
I want to be like the virtuous wife in Proverbs 31. “She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.” Proverbs 17:27 says, “The one who has knowledge uses words with restraint, and whoever has understanding is even-tempered.” Let us all strive to be more like this in our todays! I know I won’t do it perfectly but God doesn’t ask for perfection, just obedience! And, guess what Jesus said about being obedient to God’s word? “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.” (John 14:23) That’s a promise I intend to cash in on! How about you?
I am so thankful that God has given me eyes to see His heart and ears to hear His voice. I don’t think we remind ourselves often enough that God chose us. Not the other way around!
What a gift it is to go about my days knowing God walks before me and stands behind me. No matter what I may face, I can be confident because of who I belong to. I don’t have to be fearful even when my future is uncertain. I don’t have to buckle under the stress of this life because God carries the load. I simply obey His call.
When I look at the lost and broken around me, my heart hurts. I see a world that rejects this free gift of peace and chooses chains instead of freedom. Satan so cleverly masks what is evil! He high jacks love and makes it dirty. He whispers lies in half truths and rejoices as our homes and families fall apart.
As I walk this narrow and difficult path set before me, I thank God for the provisions that He has provided. His Word always encourages me and convicts me when I start to wander. His Holy Spirit whispers in my heart and pushes me to step out in faith when I don’t feel brave or capable. And I’m thankful for His provision of sisters and brothers in Christ who walk along side me always encouraging and uplifting me as we share in our journey’s toward the finish line. Yes, I am thankful that God has chosen such a wretch like me and called me daughter. And if you are reading this, chances are that you feel that way too!
Everywhere you look the world is preaching it’s doctrine. “Follow your heart” the masses cry as pornography creeps into your computer screens and takes our sons and daughters as prisoners. “You were born this way” the radio sings into our ears as we try to force feed second bests into famished souls and broken dreams.
How many years I spent in my own prison sitting behind unlocked doors but unwilling to walk out. How many lies I believed to be true! As I navigated becoming an adult with only feelings as a compass, I thought sexy was more important than purity. Friends more important than a Savior. Fun more important than character. Compromise more important than truth. Even now in weak moments, I can hear that voice in the back of my mind telling me lies and sometimes my sinful heart wants to believe it. If not for Christ, I would still be chained.
If I, as a christian adult still struggle with the world’s pretty poisoned packages, how much more of a struggle is it for the young ones or dear ones who do not know Christ? There is no escaping the culture’s tune or the allure of sin. Just like it was thousands of years ago, so it still is today. The packages change, but the substance remains. Only Christ crucified can snuff the sin that weighs us down.
So what should we do as Christ followers; Moms, Dads, Aunts, Uncles & friends? The first thing we should do is pray. Pray for those who are in the realm of our influence. Pray that God would draw them near to His heart. Pray that He would protect them from the evil one and his wiles. Pray for boldness to speak the truth in love and discernment.
Secondly, we must know our Bibles. We cannot speak truth if we do not know what the truth is. Is it necessary for myself to have the entire Bible memorized? Absolutely not. But, what is necessary is that I am daily filling my eyes and my ears with God’s word.
And lastly, we must be willing to speak the truth in love even if it costs us. If we do not speak, the world will. If we do not proclaim the freedom found in Christ, many will bow down to feelings and emotions and be chained to them. Let Christ be the compass of our lives and the voice of our hearts!
My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, consider this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and cover over a multitude of sins. James 5:19-20