Let’s Do Life Together

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One day God put this crazy idea in my head.  Invite everyone you know over to your house for supper.  I knew without a doubt God wanted me to do this but the night I sent out the mass invitation, I had a hard time falling asleep.

Immediately my brain went to worst case scenarios. What if all 250 people showed up? Would I have enough food?  Where would they all park?  What if it rains? How will I get everything including my house ready with 4 messy children and a baby stuck to me?! My mind whirled with grocery lists, meal planning, budgeting and problem solving. It really did seem like a crazy thing to do!! But I figured God wouldn’t have asked me if He didn’t intend to follow through.  So I fell to sleep that night feeling confident that God would show up and that He had a plan even if I felt a tad bit overwhelmed by it all.

As we started getting closer to the big day, God led me to Acts 2:42-47! I was doing school with the girls and these verses literally jumped right off the page! “ They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people.  And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

I came to realize that God had asked me to do this not because He was planning a mass revival in my back yard 😂but because He wants us to be doing life together!  It’s about sharing our homes and our food.  It’s about inviting people in! It’s about loving people and doing so generously and sincerely. Praising God happens in more places than just Sunday morning church.  It happens when we feed our neighbor a bowl of soup and roast marshmallows with 20 children running around the yard laughing.  It happens in late night phone calls, hand me down clothes, and sharing an over abundance of eggs.  When we do life together, we become more than neighbors, we become friends. And through these friendships, we share the biggest part of ourselves, our faith in Jesus!

I don’t know how many more mass invitations I will be sending out in the near future but I do know that God wants us all to take time to get to know the people He places in our lives.  If we are willing to let people in, feed them, love them, and spend time with them there is no telling what the Lord will do!

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A Heart Full Of Jesus

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Ever have one of those days when you are just tired? Tired of making and cleaning up meals, tired of the endless laundry, fighting children, and messes? Maybe you are dealing with some health issues, or stressful relationships that your trying to navigate through. You’ve spent all day pouring yourself out for your family and the ones you love and then your poor husband walks through the door and asks you, “How was your day?” And just like a proverbial straw, that breaks the camels back, you lose it. I have been amazed at how quickly I can reach this place in my heart. And then to my utter amazement, I was led to look into my own heart and ask myself a very simple question. Why?

It seems like a simple question but the answer was much harder to accept than I expected. A simple one word question brought me to my knees and opened my eyes to the depravity of my own heart. God made me keenly aware of my idolatry.

Idolatry in its most simple form is putting anything above God. And let me tell you sisters, it is not hard to do! As a matter of fact, I believe it’s probably one of the easiest things to do. Idols come in all shapes and forms. Most of the time we think of golden calves and Buddha statues, but what about a clean house? Or your pant size? My own personal idols tend to revolve around people pleasing, success, and avoiding conflict. And get this?! You can even make an idol out of good things! I grew up in a broken home. Can you guess where my people pleasing and avoiding difficulties stemmed from? They came from a childhood of trying to be a peacemaker. Being a peacemaker is a good thing, but when peace making morphs into selfishness and refusing to be obedient to God, it is now an Idol.

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Idolatry is something God cares a lot about! So much so that it’s the very first commandment. In Exodus 20:3 it says, “You shall have no other gods before me.” And if you continue on to Exodus 34:14 it says, “Do not worship any other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.” God wants to be number one in our lives. When we are drowning in a mountain of laundry, we need to remember we are doing it for Him. When our children have spent the entire day pushing every one of our buttons, we need to remember the cross and how much Christ suffered to save us from ourselves. If He could pour out His blood to redeem me, can I not pour out myself for those around me and for the sake of the gospel?

I’ll end with this. “If there’s anything in life that we should be passionate about, it’s the gospel….I mean passionate about thinking about it, dwelling on it, rejoicing in it, allowing it to color the way we look at the world. Only one thing can be of first importance to each of us. And only the gospel ought to be.” C.J.Mahaney

Idolatry is something you will fight every day of your life, but I want to encourage you to ask those hard “why” questions every day. Having a heart full of Jesus is something worth fighting for, and you surely will be blessed because of it!

Dear Heavy-Hearted: God’s Love is Enough

Dear Heavy-Hearted,

I know you’re feeling all sorts of emotions right now. You feel unloved. You feel alone. You feel worthless.

Please don’t listen to your feelings, friend. Feelings are the most convincing kind of liars. Feelings are not rooted in truth. They are rooted in hearts. Hearts that are desperately wicked and plagued by sin. Hearts that strive to rule us.

The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it_

Heavy-Hearted, don’t you know how deeply and powerfully loved you are? Loved by a Savior. A king.

People in this life will always let you down. They have sickly, fickle hearts too. Hearts in need of the transforming power that only comes from a blood stained savior who bled His own heart out so that our hearts might beat in the rhythm of mercy and grace.

Oh dear Heavy-Hearted, please don’t believe your importance and worth is dependent on how many people make you feel loved. You have something much greater than fickle emotions that change as quickly as the wind’s direction. You are a child of God, bought with the blood of Jesus. You were given life and purpose. Called by the creator of the world to shine His light of love on this broken and sad place we inhabit.

It’s so easy to fall into the trap of self, dear one. We are all guilty. But it’s not about us. It’s about Jesus. God’s love is enough. Everything else is just bonus. This world owes us nothing, but we owe Jesus everything.

Loving like Jesus means dying. Picking up crosses. It’s not suppose to feel warm and fuzzy all the time. Sometimes, it’s suppose to hurt. It’s God refining and changing us. Maybe these feelings you are having aren’t meant to make you feel lonely, but rather to look up and realize you’re never alone.

Remember to Whom you belong to. Press in firmly to the roots of your salvation. Take comfort in knowing that there is nothing you can do to separate yourself from the deep and wide love that comes from our heavenly Father. Trust the one who is the Truth and change your perspective. Look outward and upward, not inward. Don’t let your feelings control you. You have work to do, people to love and seeds to water. I can’t wait to see all that God does through you!

Sincerely,

Your sister and friend

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You are Good

It’s a strange and awesome place to be, smack dab in the middle of the hard, messy and broken and praising God! But, it’s exactly where I found myself on a random Tuesday morning.

The children were going about their daily duties before school work began. I had been up most of the night with a teething baby. I was tired and had spent much of the previous restless evening, praying over baby and her broken family. Things on that front had been very hard. But, life in general had been pretty tough lately. The reality of my everydays felt so heavy at that moment.

With babe on hip, I walked into the kitchen. The sink full of dirty dishes and spilled milk from breakfast seemed to shout at me. Life felt a lot like this kitchen. Messes multiply around here faster than I can keep up with, but somehow I always manage to get it mostly done.. It was at that very moment that the song King of my Heart started to play on the radio.

Let the King of my heart

Be the wind inside my sails

The anchor in the waves

Oh-oh, He is my song

Let the King of my heart

Be the fire inside my veins

The echo of my days

Ohh! He is my song.

You are good, good, oh-ohh

As babe and I twirled around the kitchen, I was overwhelmed by how blessed I am to be loved by such an amazing God! That in the middle of all of life’s messes, He is there accomplishing mighty things,

even through the most mundane. And the biggest shocker of all, that I can dance, praise, and give thanks in the midst of the storms! Life sometimes feels like a hurricane of troubles but even as the winds blow around me, I am anchored secure in the protected eye of the storm. More now than ever I can see the mighty power of God because He holds me firm and gives me peace.

The Baby giggled and smiled her gummy smile up at me and I hugged her a bit tighter. “You are good, God! So good!” my heart sang! And as praise echoed off the the walls, I couldn’t help but smile too! My wind, my anchor, my fire, my song and my King; Jesus is so good to me!

What will you do if God asks you to do something crazy?

Does God ever lead you to do things that just seem insane?

For me, the answer is a big fat Yes!

It started with facing the fear of public speaking. It has always shaken me up. My stomach gets all tied up in knots, my hands start to shake, and I trip over my tongue. It’s not my favorite past time as you can imagine. But, one day I was asked to speak in front of a group of women and as my mind shouted, ” I could never! No way!” I heard a gentle voice in the back of my mind say, “Who made your mouth Mary?”

“Well, you did Lord.”

I agreed to speak and what a blessing it was to proclaim God and His grace over my life to others! Did I have butterflies in my stomach and stumble a bit? Yes! But I followed His request and there was no turning back! In the end, He poured such blessing over me for being obedient. It changed how I saw God and the challenges He placed before me. It set my path straight to His next request.

We were given the insane idea to be foster parents. “To him who has been given much, much is expected.” God spoke this over us time and time again. We said yes and I haven’t slept since January! 😂 But God has transformed our hearts and home in ways only He knew we needed. It’s like we never knew the depths of Gods love for us until we walked this broken road in need of His grace and mercy. Today, I speak Jesus into things and people I didn’t know existed. It has been hard, but such a privilege. I can see God moving and to be a part of that…Wow!

We live in a world that is hurting and broken. Hopelessness is as contagious as a cold and as deadly as poison. Only love, radical, sacrificing, Christ compelled love can bring true hope and transform lives. I am convinced that if we are willing to walk in His steps and love with His love, God will use us to shine His glory and grace in ways we can’t even fathom. So convinced that I’ve invited 250 people to my house for soup…at once. Insane! But God wouldn’t have led me to do it if He didn’t have a reason and a purpose! So pray for me y’all!

Let’s love like Jesus today. Let’s take risks and say yes even if it’s crazy! What’s more crazy than God Himself being made flesh, living with us dirty people, and then dying to save us?! Makes the crazy I’m led to do seem not so crazy after all.

The Rock Higher than I

The Rock that is higher than iThere is one word that could describe my morning. Overwhelmed.

Teaching four different grades with a bonus baby who is teething would not be ideal circumstances for anyone I suppose.  But regardless, we must! So I’m flipping through pages, helping sound out words, reading lessons and trying to push through all of the noise.

The atmosphere around me feels like chaos and my mind is whirling with frustration and impatience. In the background, there is the fussy bonus baby who can’t decide if she wants to be held, sleep, or adventure off to find the dog water dish.  My six year old’s volume is always set to max and she flutters between annoying the baby to interrupting my lesson to show me her hang nail.  She asks me for the fifteenth time if she can have a yogurt even though I’ve said, “No” fourteen times.  And all the while my other three girls stare up at me, waiting for me to continue teaching as I flop into the chair and fight the urge to throw my hands up and walk away.  This is my reality today.  This is my reality most days.  If it weren’t for Jesus I would have pressed the “easy” button a long time ago. How tempting it is to give up when the pressure starts to press in and the grass on the other side starts to look so fresh and restful!

Ironically, we are studying the book of James in school this year! Today’s verse and discussion focused on James 1:2-4.

As I rocked bonus baby for her afternoon nap after school was complete God brought the Hymn, The Rock that is Higher than I into my head. This hymn is partially based on Psalms 18:31-32.

“It is God!” It is God who will use my humble imperfect offerings and perfect them. It is because of God and His strength and power that I will get through my days and accomplish the goals set before me! And the struggles and messiness that often accompany, God is using to help me be more like Him! He is teaching me how to persevere and refining me in so many ways!  I may get weary and start to feel overwhelmed from time to time, but when I start to feel that way, I must look to God! Fly to the Rock higher.  The days can sometimes be long, but time is so short. I won’t ever be a perfect mom, teacher, wife, or friend but God can take this imperfect vessel and use me to accomplish his perfect plans! Oh what a joy!

O sometimes how long seems the day,
And sometimes how weary my feet;
But toiling in life’s dusty way,
The Rock’s blessed shadow, how sweet!
Chorus:
O then to the Rock let me fly,
To the Rock that is higher than I;
O then to the Rock let me fly
To the Rock that is higher than I!

The Rock that is Higher Than I by Erastus Johnson

The Privilege Of Brokenness

I have the privilege to be broken.  It seems funny to word it that way, but it’s the truth.  As I contemplate the story of this life I’ve lived thus far and the hard places that I’ve walked through, I stand amazed at how God has used them all.  The pain of childhood innocence lost, the feelings of abandonment, the struggles of finding God through being broken hearted and crushed in spirit; these all are but a small portion of what God has used to draw me near and show His faithfulness.  He has been so faithful in loving me.  All of me.

My earlier walk was much like a Father and child.  I’d fall and skin my knee and He would pick me up, clean up my wounds, and comfort me.  I fell a lot.  I made many mistakes and turned my back on Him often, but He never let me go.  He has pursued me and loved me deeply despite how I have grieved Him.  And as I grow, my relationship with the Lord has grown too.  Now, it’s not so much Him picking me up off the floor, but more Him compelling me to follow His lead.

Where once I was focused on finding myself in Him, now I’m being led to lose myself in Him.  Where once pain drew me into His arms, now He pushes me to pain because I’m called to love others the way He loves me.  Where once the weight of my sin and selfishness was heavy but bearable, now some days if it weren’t for me clinging to what Jesus did for me and who I am in that, my sin would break my heart in two.  I’m not as strong as I thought I was.

Nowadays, I pray not because i’m “suppose” to, but because I have to.  The weight of it all is overwhelming and if it weren’t for Jesus, I would have crumbled a long time ago. I look back over the months and years and remind myself that God led me here.  Everything that presses on me, God prepared me for, even if at times I feel overwhelmed, anxious, and undone.  He called me to mother, homeschool, and foster care to name a few. He moved my heart to be intentional about living His gospel.   He called me to love even when loving sometimes means clinging to crosses for crowns that I won’t see in this life.  My brokenness is my worship because it helps me to walk into other’s broken knowing God uses our pain and sufferings to redeem, not crucify. God, like a good Father is not willing for any of us to perish and I get the privilege to share my broken but redeemed cracks with others, and glorify the one who glued all of my pieces together with His grace!