Thursday, December 24, 2015

Our Special Family Tradition

It’s hard to believe it’s already Christmas Eve.  Where did the time go?  It feels like my boys just started school yesterday.  I so wish we could freeze time until I can catch up with it all.  I don’t know about you, but for some reason this Christmas season has felt a little different for me. 

Maybe the busyness of our lives is the real culprit here.  We’ve done a lot of running our boys here and there lately.  We are running them for school with sports, along with various activities at church, not to mention time with friends.  Some days it has taken BOTH of us running to get each kid where they needed to be when.  I don’t know how single parents swing it!  They must be superheroes!

This year because of all of the craziness, I decided to cut a few things from our Christmas ‘to do’ list.  We have skipped some normal traditions in an effort to slow down our pace and savor the season.  BUT there is one tradition we will never skip! 

Every year on Christmas Eve ever since the boys were little we have read them a special Christmas story.  It’s found in a special book I got years ago called… “Mary’s Treasure Box”

A few years back I attempted to buy another copy (to save back so both boys would have a special book to read to their families) and I was surprised at what I found.  Every where I looked online the prices were over $100 for just ONE book!  What on earth!  I couldn’t believe it!  I guess at that point they were out of print or something. 

At the time I got mine, I was working at a Christian Bookstore where with my employee discount it probably cost me a whole $2 new.  Today I looked up the price and in some places it is a lot cheaper.  In case you want to snag this hidden treasure for your family, I have attached a link for you to check out Here.

What makes this book so special, you might ask?  Well, simply put it shares the story of Jesus’ birth and life from a mom’s perspective.  It’s Mary’s version of the story as she shares it with her granddaughter.  In an effort to bring it all to life for her grandchild, she creatively displays a variety of items stored in her treasure box.  In there she finds… straw, a cloth, a flute, gold, frankincense, and even myrrh.  Each item saved back represents a special part of the story. 

Over the years, we have created a treasure box of our own as well, that we open each Christmas!  In it we have placed many of the items shared from the story.  As we read it each year, we pull out the items one by one and pass them around for everyone to inspect.  Seeing each of them personally has helped make it real for our boys.  Tonight or tomorrow… we will read the story again. 

This book is actually based on a true story if you haven’t figured it out yet.  It’s a story of unconditional love, amazing grace, and enormous sacrifice.   It’s a story that is very personal to me.  Recognizing the reality of God’s overwhelming love for ME has transformed my life. 

Seeing the story in light of Mary’s perspective has challenged me even more since having children.  I can’t even imagine how she might have felt.  Her first child was a miracle… an unexpected blessing.  I imagine she held on to Him tightly not wanting Him to ever grow up… savoring each and every moment recording them forever in her mind.  He was different and deep down she knew it.   

Luke 2:19 says…
“…but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often.” (NLT)

Whether she liked it or not, she would have to let Him go at an early age.  He wasn’t truly hers to keep.  He was on loan.  Hmm… this really hits home with me. 

My boys are on loan from God too.  They are His!  He has a plan and a purpose for their lives… and it’s going to be amazing!  My job isn’t to shelter them and hold them tight so they never grow up.  It’s to help them connect with God personally so they can discover what He has in mind for their lives.

I’m sure Mary could see the evidence of God’s hand on her son’s life.  He was mature beyond his years at a very young age.  People followed Him.  God blessed Him in everything He did.  She knew.  She had to hold on to Him loosely.  Some day He needed to be free to live out God’s calling on His life.  I imagine just thinking about it brought knots to her stomach.

I struggle with this reality as well.  My boys are growing up way too fast.  Both are in High School now and time is flying by.  I know it will only be a short time and they will be out in the world doing what God has called them to do.  Knots fill my stomach as I think about it.  Are they ready?  Have we prepared them for what is ahead?  Do they know Him well enough to follow His leading?  Parenting involves a lot of faith… trusting God with our treasures.

There was a time when I grieved the fact that my kids were growing up.  I constantly looked at pictures of younger years missing the days.  But, now it’s different.   I know the day is coming.  Growing up is inevitable… boo! 

For that reason, I want to savor the present moments I have with them.  I don’t want to miss out on the amazing young men they are becoming.  I want to enjoy every minute I have left with them now.

Mary’s life was changed the moment she encountered this precious baby boy and for the better! 

It’s Christmas time and while many are scurrying around lost in the hustle and bustle of the material side of it all.  I challenge you to remember the real reason for the season.  Read the story (Here) and allow the birth, life, and death of a special baby born many years ago impact your holiday season today. 

I pray this Christmas will be different for you.  May God’s presence surround you, His love overwhelm you, and His peace that passes all understanding consume you.  He loves you dearly friend and He gave His very best gift to you the day Jesus was born… a second chance at experiencing true “life”.

Luke 2:11 says…

“The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David!   And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.” (NLT)

Isaiah 9:6 says…
“For a child is born to us, a son is given to us.  The government will rest on his shoulders.  And he will be called:  Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (NLT)
God turned my world upside down for good the day I met Him and I have never been the same.  I challenge you to give Him a chance if you haven’t already.  You won't regret it!  I promise.  I am available if you would like to talk more about this or have questions.  Merry Christmas friends!

Living to leave a legacy,

Monday, November 23, 2015

How to BLESS the Homebound

(From someone who has been there and knows…)

The homebound have been on my heart recently.  It could be because I’ve been a “Shut-In” several times in my life.  I’m not talking about being shut in for the weekend with a cold or for a week with the flu.  It’s a permanent kind of shut-in experience… a chronic illness, extensive rehabilitation, disability, or maybe recovery from an accident to name a few. 

Sometimes the shut-in person isn’t sick at all… they are actually caregivers of the sick.  Regardless of the circumstances, being bound or “stuck” in your home for an undetermined amount of time can be really frustrating.  Believe me, I know.

My shut-in experience was due to an autoimmune disease.  It came on unexpectedly and we weren’t prepared for it.  I had two little ones to care for ages 5 and 6.  They needed me!  When I first got sick, it took the doctor THREE months to diagnose my condition.  I was bedridden for the majority of that time.

My husband carried a lot of the weight during that season… financially, emotionally, physically, and spiritually.   He worked two jobs to take care of us financially because I had to quit my job when I got sick.  He filled the role of mom and dad caring for the boys.  He became the housekeeper, cook, and chauffeur along with many other roles.  We were a house and a family in great need. 

Even though we didn’t vocalize our needs, God knew and at times He would let others know so they could bless us.  We received food, help with the kids, help with cleaning the house, and loads of prayer.

When you are stuck at home you can begin to feel all alone, weary, and at times even hopeless.  I’m not just talking about those that are sick, but the caregivers too.   They juggle so much to keep their loved ones going and run on empty often.

Having been a “Shut-In” or home bound person myself, I thought it might be helpful to share some tips on how to bless someone who may be home sick (and even the caregiver too). 

Many of the homebound and caregivers feel forgotten… by friends, family, and by God.  Take time to check on them.  Call, send a card, text, or message them.  In some small way let them know you are thinking of them and praying.

I know at times in the past when I was sick for extended periods of time, I began to feel hopeless, a burden, alone, and forgotten.  Depression comes quickly and easily for those who feel trapped.  Your words of encouragement sent at just the right time can do more than you could ever imagine.  Let God prompt you to who you need to encourage and what and what you need to do to bless them.  You will be amazed at what God will do as you are obedient to His leading.

Here are some simple Text, Email, or Messaging ideas you could send:

-Hey friend.  You were on my mind today, how are you doing?
-I was thinking of you today.  Have an amazing day today!  You are in my prayers.
-You are missed and loved friend.  I just wanted to let you know.
-I’m praying for you friend.  I pray all is well with you today.
-Have an incredible day friend!  You are in my prayers.
-Do you have anything I can be praying for you about today?
-I’m praying for you today friend.  God is able.

Take the time to visit those homebound if you have the opportunity.  Many rarely leave their homes, so it is a treat when someone comes to see them.  Even though most don’t feel up to it or at their best, it still boosts their spirits to have visitors.  Here are some things to think about as you plan your visit:

-Call ahead (to see when a good time to visit might be with them or their caregiver).  For most that are sick, the best time seems to be in the afternoon or early evening.  Mornings are rough for most.

-Smaller is better.   Just one visitor can be overwhelming for the sick.  Keep your numbers small when you visit. 
1-2 people.  Only bring kids if they are well-behaved and old enough to understand what you are doing.  You want your visit to be encouraging not a stressful time.

-Less is more.  Don’t stay long when you visit.  Many homebound wear out quickly.  They may feel uncomfortable about their appearance and their home, but they will be glad you came.  For best results stay no longer than 30 minutes.  Just you taking the time out of your schedule to come see them will make their day.

-Bring a gift.  Bring something to make them feel special.  They don’t get out much so anything you might bring them is a special treat.  Here are some ideas: 

Something to entertain them:  Books (Chicken soup books are great, magazines, word searches, or cross words.  Find out what they like.)  Don’t forget favorite music or movies.

Something to make them smile: Flowers (check allergies), balloons, pictures to keep, cards or drawings from kids, or maybe their favorite sweet treat (a favorite candy bar… if it is allowed with their diet).

Something to fill their tummy:  It’s always a blessing when someone brings a meal or two to help out.  The same ole’ same ole’ stuff gets old.  Besides that, when a meal is brought the caregiver gets a break from cooking.  Two people are blessed in this instance.  J

-Keep it short and sweet.   What should you talk about when visiting?  I know it can be awkward when visiting someone who is sick, but it is such a blessing to them.  

Here are some discussion tips for you:

-Greet them with a gift
-Ask them how they are doing today
-Small talk (ideas:  weather, what you did today, keep it simple… no politics)
-Share with them how you’ve missed them and you’ve been praying for them
-Ask them if there is anything you can pray specifically with them about today
-Ask if you can pray now with them (Keep it short and sweet.  Don’t touch them when praying unless you feel led by God and you have asked for their permission.)

-Discern additional needs.  Look for other ways you can come back to bless them.  They won’t always come out and tell you what they need so you might have to get creative in discovering it.  In some cases you may need to ask further questions to discern (with God’s help) how to best bless them in the future.

Here are some questions you could ask…
*What could I/we do to help you out today to lift some weight off of you?
(Discern ways to help today)

*Is there anything we could come back later to help you with?
(Discern ways to help later)

*What seems to frustrate you the most lately?
(Discern what they wish they could do)

*When it comes to household responsibilities, what is MOST important to you?
(Discern areas of greatest needs to them)

*What has been weighing on you (or do you worry about …) the MOST lately?
(Discern how you can help lift the weight and know how best to pray)

*What can we continue to pray with you about?
(Discern their fears, burdens, and worries)

I remember when I was sick having lots of visitors.  At times, I couldn’t talk (or be understood), but I was still very aware.  People came to help watch my kids, make or bring meals, clean my house, run my kids to practices, and the like.  It all touched me so deeply. 

I remember two particular friends coming over to make a meal for my family and do some household chores.  I struggled to speak during this time, so I just sat there silently watching tears rolling down my face.  I couldn’t stop crying.  I cried because I couldn’t do anything to take care of my family by myself and I cried because I felt so blessed by my friends stepping up to help carry the weight for me.  I had mixed emotions in that moment.  I felt so helpless, yet so overwhelmed with love.

During these difficult seasons, people also prayed with me.  They prayed with me over the phone, emailed and messaged prayers, sent prayer cloths home with my husband (that people prayed over and anointed in my place), and came in person.  I remember one particular person went way out of their way home from a business trip to drop by out of the blue to anoint and pray for me.  I felt so honored.

“The prayers of others during this time gave me the strength I needed
to keep pushing forward when I didn’t have the energy to pray for myself.”

I felt unkempt and embarrassed at the way I looked, how I was dressed, and what my surroundings looked like, but each visitor that came still blessed me.  It blessed me that they cared enough to come, send food, write cards, or lend a hand to make our lives easier and our burdens lighter.  It overwhelmed me.  I sensed God’s presence as they prayed, served, loved, encouraged, and gave generously to my family.

I hope this holiday season you will take the time to remember someone who is sick or homebound.  I challenge you to go beyond just remembering to encouraging them.   Make time to visit, send a card, text, or call, but MOST of all pray.  They need you friends.  Be HOPE for the hopeless this Christmas.  You may never know the impact you could make by just remembering them today.

May God bless you today as you pray and discern WHO you may need to encourage this holiday season.

Living to leave a legacy,

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

He’s a RUNNER, but aren’t we all?

I didn’t even know it was in him until he ran his first race.  Granted he ran full speed the whole time (not realizing he was supposed to pace himself) and nearly passed out by the end.   He has only gotten better as time has gone by.  He has practiced, trained, and even came up with a strategy to be able to run stronger and he has.

My eldest son decided at the last minute (a few days before school started) that he wanted to try Cross Country out this year.  Hmmm… we never thought of him as a long distance runner.  It is a sport that he can carry with him all of his life if he likes it.  What could it hurt?  We agreed whole-heartedly to let him try it out and rallied behind him in support.

This was all new for us.  All we have ever done sports-wise as a family has been… soccer, football, baseball, and basketball… mostly basketball since the boys have gotten older.  We were totally clueless as to how to support our son at his first event.  I gained insights from a Cross Country friend when we first arrived so my husband and I wouldn’t stand out quite as much as newbies (Thanks Sherri!).  I’m not sure if it helped camouflage us or not.

These races or meets were like nothing we had ever been to before.  From the students stretching ahead of the run, to the lining up, and shooting of the gun, we were definitely out of our element.  Parents and students swarmed at each meet in no particular order.  

There were clumps of people everywhere.  If one thought they could just show up and go with the flow to see what to do, they would be out of luck.  Everyone did their own thing to support their kid and each thing was unique.


After a few meets we finally discovered our cheerleading groove.  We came early to each meet to: 1. Set up lawn chairs to sit in during the down time by the team tent and 2.  Spend some quality time encouraging our son before the race began.  We also had him share with us the race route so we knew where to stand when to cheer him on to the end.


Once the race began our job (per our son’s request) was to count which number he was from the front and yell it out as he passed by.  If we were privy to seeing a timer (which wasn’t at every meet) we were supposed to shout out his time.  We moved several times throughout the race to see him pass by us.  We whooped and hollered as he ran by expecting it would make him run all the faster.


Parents moved all around seemingly knowing just where to stand in order to see their child pass by.  We watched and followed their lead.  I think the MOST amazing part of the whole race was watching them run across the finish line.  

Watching those kids push through to the end running their hearts out amazed me.  From the fastest runner to the slowest, they CHOSE to do this sport and they finished strong.  Wow… that speaks volumes to me!


As the racers poured in, one by one, the cheering seemed to only increase.  People didn’t just cheer for their own child in this race, they cheered for every child that attempted to finish no matter what team they were on.  It was powerful! 


I was especially impressed by the attitudes of the students from other teams. After one of my son’s first race’s several guys from other teams kept coming up to my son telling him he did a great job.  I couldn’t figure out how he knew them so I asked him.  He said, “Mom, they are just encouraging me.  This sport is different than the others I have done before.”  Wow!  It’s a community of encouragers all around.


I didn’t know if my son would stick with this sport or not, but he has.  I’m so proud of him.  It’s hard work, but he’s good at it.  It seems to come natural for him.


He’s a runner!  I think he’s hooked for life!


Running is deep, down in him, but now that I think about it running is in all of us... isn’t it?  I’m not into the sport of running, but oh do I want to run when I face difficulties, struggles, and hardship.  I feel like running when conflict arises and relationships waver.  I am a runner.  I admit it.  I guess running isn’t all bad in life, as long as we are running in the right direction.


I have discovered through personal experience that I have two options when it comes to running.  When hard times come and they will, I can either run TO God, or AWAY from Him. 


When we choose to run to God “in the midst of” our struggles, we have the opportunity to experience His peace that passes all understanding.  The pain may still be there, the stress still overwhelming, and the burdens great, but we don’t have to do this alone.  God promises to walk with us. 


God will help carry our burdens.  He will diffuse our stress with His presence, and comfort us in our moments of grief and pain.  He is as close as the mention of His name.  I know our natural tendency is to run away from our problems, but why not choose a different way next time… take your problems and run TO God.  You might be surprised at the outcome.

The one thing people long for MOST when they are hurting is peace.  Why would we knowingly choose to run away from this?  In choosing to run away from God instead of to Him, we are in essence choosing to carry our burdens alone.  The weight is heavier, the pain more severe, and that sick uneasy feeling in our stomach is never ending.  But, why?   It just doesn’t make sense to me.


I guess I’ve had many opportunities to run AWAY from God now that I think about it.  I just didn’t take them.   Like many others, I too, have faced those moments where I could have chosen to get “angry at the world” or take it all out on God.  I could have given up on life, went wild and rebellious, or ran away from it all, but I didn’t.  I haven’t.   


I guess some where along my journey I decided to run to God in

a moment of despair and He met me there.  It changed me! 

I don’t know how to run anywhere else.



Some of those life-changing moments of decision are still stamped so vividly in my mind.  I remember struggling personally as a pre-teen and contemplating taking my own life.  In that moment of decision, I felt God’s presence enter my bedroom.  I was overwhelmed by His love and felt His arms wrapping around me tightly.  I was loved.  I was not alone.  I could do this… with His help.

I remember being excited about expecting our first child after five years of marriage.  Our hearts were all wrapped up in this unborn bundle of joy.  We were full of hopes and dreams for the future.  We were heart broken to find out just after four months that I had miscarried and lost the baby.  The grief was real and heavy upon our hearts. 

All I knew to do was to run to God.  I prayed for strength and peace “in the midst of” my struggle.  The peace was almost immediate.  I couldn’t imagine how any body else in my same situation (with out God) could make it through this.  The loss was almost unbearable.

I have faced a lot of ups and downs with my health.  I have suffered with an autoimmune disease for the past ten years now.  It’s an autoimmune disease that weakens my muscles… all muscles when it’s out of control.  It has gone in and out of remission.   When it’s bad, it’s really bad. 

When I first got sick, it took the doctor three months to diagnose it.  I was bedridden most of that time.  My kids were just 5 & 6 years old at the time.  Through out my sickness I’ve had various flare ups where old symptoms would come back again strong for awhile.  During one bad flare up I was bedridden for almost a year.  It was horrible. 

I have had every opportunity imaginable with all of this sickness to blame God, doubt Him, and walk away, but I didn’t.  I haven't.  Regardless of whether I will ever be healed from my calamity or not, I trust Him!  He has always proved to be faithful to me in the past, so I am confident that some how in some way God will work all this out for good.

I’m a runner!  I admit it.  But… the place I choose to run... in good times and bad is right into God’s arms.  There is no other place I would rather be.


“Come near to God, and God will come near to you… 

James 4:8


The next time you are hurting, broken, or struggling to find your way.  I challenge you to choose a different direction to run.  Run to Him!  You won’t be disappointed!  I promise!


Living to leave a legacy,


Tuesday, September 29, 2015


God has been stirring my heart lately with the whole idea of purifying my life.  Pure, clean, set a part, different than the world.  I want to have a pure heart… a heart clean from contamination and focused on the things of God.

Have you ever felt like your spirit was dirty?  Imagine you are normally really busy in the morning, but today you decide to spend some special time with God.  You crank up the worship music, open your Bible, and soak in His presence.  

You talk to Him so comfortably and freely.  You confess sin and bear your heart to Him.  When you are finished with your special “quiet time” with God you feel so much better and you feel clean inside.  The day has started out right so you assume it will end well. 

Before you really have a chance to begin your day the phone rings and "dirt" is splattered on you.  You turn your head toward the family room and "dirt" is splattered across the screen of the television.  You hang up the phone and hear your family arguing passionately about meaningless things… more "dirt" is splattered on you and you haven’t even left the house!
This may sound all too familiar to some of you.  “Dirt”… What kind of "dirt" am I talking about?  I’m talking about the kind of “dirt” that can make your spirit feel “icky” inside. Don’t you just love my fancy words. 

Listen to what the Bible has to say about this in James1:27

“Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans
and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.” (NLT)

“Refusing to let the world corrupt you”… hmmm.  What does that mean?  Well, in another version it says it a different way… “Keeping yourself free from the world’s evil influence.” 

So… what I am gathering from this scripture is that if I want to stay spiritually clean, one way I can do this is by limiting the “world’s” influence on my life.

Wow, that’s hard!  We are supposed to live IN the world, but not be OF it.  

Philippians 3:20 says… 
“But our homeland is in heaven…” (NCV).

How do we do this?  How can we live and be an example to others of Christ without letting the world infiltrate our thinking, speech, dress, actions, behavior, and reasoning? 

How can we live pure lives in the midst of an impure culture?

1.     Keep God FIRST
Stay connected with Him.  Read His word (the Bible)… It helps wash your heart clean.  Talk to Him daily… just like you would a friend.  You don’t have to use fancy words when you talk with God.  Tell Him everything… the good, bad, and ugly of each day.   He wants to be a part of it all.  Invite Him to join you in all you do Allow His Spirit to guide your steps Become sensitive to His voice and obedient to His leading.  The more time we spend with God daily, the more we will be able to discern between dirty and clean.

What I mean by this is that God will help guide us into making right choices when it comes to what we choose to allow in our lives and inside of our hearts.  When we attempt to let something in that we shouldn’t, He will let us know.  He will give us a sinking feeling in our guts, a sick turning of our stomachs, or uneasiness within.  That will be His Holy Spirit helping us keep our hearts and lives clean and close to God.

Dirty hearts equal dirty lives.  Eventually the dust and dirt hiding within will seep out for all to see.  There is a scripture that comes to mind that describes this perfectly.   Matthew 12:34 says

“For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” (NIV)

How can we remain pure in the midst of an impure culture?  Stay close to God.  Take time today to be with Him.  Time in His presence changes our hearts.

Another way to stay pure is by striving to…

2.  Keep your heart CLEAN daily

Things don’t work properly when they aren’t clean.   I have found this to be true with my vacuum cleaner.  I have the kind that doesn’t have a bag and you can really see the dirt flow in as you clean up.  I like the idea of seeing that it is working, but not the emptying it out afterwards part.  I have noticed on occasion that dirt can get backed up in areas I can’t see and then it stops working properly.  It isn’t until I actually sit down and take everything a part that I find a pile of dirt clogging the flow.

Isn’t that so true with our walk with God?  When we don’t take time to keep our hearts clean daily, the flow of God in our lives gets clogged up.  We start to feel funny, God starts to feel a bit distant, and ungodly things start to pour out of our mouths.  Yikes!  Where did that come from?

Just like it took me time I didn’t plan on to clean out the backed up pile of dirt in my vacuum, we need to take time daily to clean our hearts.  The dirt in that vacuum hid in places I didn’t see (piling up), but it still needed to be removed. 

Sin, just like that dirt is really good at hiding in the places of our hearts that we don’t notice.  It is only by choosing to clean our hearts daily, that we might see it (With God’s help of course) and remove it.

How can we clean our hearts daily?  Well, for one we can confess our sins in prayer.  When we keep God first and spend time with Him daily, a natural out flow of this time will be God showing us areas of our lives that might need extra work.  But it doesn’t stop there.  Actually we can take it a step further.

There is a two-part heart cleaning process that can occur during our prayer times, if we let it.  It includes the practice of both “confessing” and “revealing”. 

Confessing” –
In essence this means to recognize the things you have done that are wrong, admit it, and say you are sorry.  Generally we all know our hang-ups and where we fail.  It is when we choose to admit those to God, ask for forgiveness, and strive to change that we truly see the difference.  The process is simple… just share with God your struggles (one by one), tell Him you are sorry for messing up in this area of your life (and really mean it), and ask for His help to change… and for the better.

Revealing” –
When we come to God in prayer we can also ask Him if there are any hidden areas of sin in our hearts (piles of dirt clogging the flow) that He might “reveal” to us.  When He brings them to our mind, we need to confess them to Him and ask for forgiveness.  Sometimes this revelation of our hidden sin can be startling to us requiring a focused effort and possibly accountability to keep it from sneaking back into our lives.  With God’s help we can walk in freedom from the chains of sin that seek to rule our lives.

Cleaning our hearts daily is hard work, but it feels so good to be clean.  Have you ever gotten really dirty before?  Do you remember that feeling?  … Soggy, gritty, uncomfortable, and gross. Now, think back.  What did it feel like in the shower after you were clean?  That is the spiritual experience God wants us to have as we take time daily to clean our hearts.  It’s a refreshing experience!

1 John 1:8-9 says…

“If we say we have no sin, we are fooling ourselves, and the truth is not in us.  But if we confess our sins, He will forgive our sins, because we can trust God to do what is right. He will cleanse us from all the wrongs we have done.” (NCV)

One important ingredient to living a pure life is endeavoring to keep our hearts clean daily.  I challenge you to take time to check in with God today and leave refreshed.

How can we remain pure in the midst of an impure culture?  Stay close to God Keep your heart clean daily.  Wash the dirt of sin away in prayer and ask God to show you areas of your life that need improvement.  Staying pure is hard work, but SO worth it!

Another way to stay pure is by striving to…
3.      EMPTY the “Junk” from your Life

Junk collects quickly especially if you have a hard time letting go of things.  I wouldn’t call myself a “junk” collector or hoarder by any means.  I am simply a “Piler-upper” of things I don’t want to lose.  Big difference!

I guess when I think about it, I mostly pile up the things I want to deal with later.  They seem important at the moment, so I keep them close to me where I can find them when I am ready to sort things out.    

Hmmm… How many times do we do this with God?  We allow things to pile up in our lives that really shouldn’t be there promising to deal with them later, but later never really comes.   We are “spiritual junk” procrastinators!  I know it may sound funny, but it is SO true.  We have good intentions of course, but we just don’t follow through on them.

Keeping that “junk” in our lives that doesn’t belong and really shouldn’t be there, really hurts our relationship with God.   “Spiritual Procrastination hinders our present growth in God.”  It’s really hard to make room for “new” God-things in our lives when our hearts are cluttered full of junk that really needs to go. 

When God prompts us as we are praying, confessing, or seeking more of Him to… set aside, change, or completely remove something from our lives, we need to do it!  He knows best!  Just obey!

When my kids were younger they had this procrastination thing down pat.  We would ask them to do something and they must have thought we implied… do it whenever you want to do it as long as it gets done.  Our interpretation though was very different.  We expected them to:   Do it… IMMEDIATELY, RIGHT AWAY, and NOW! 

We discovered quickly that they didn’t catch our passion for doing their jobs in a timely manner.  For that reason, I decided to come up with a slogan for them to chant to remind them of our desire for them to obey quickly.  This is how it went…. “Just OBEY, No DELAY”… “Just OBEY, No DELAY”.  We said it all the time especially when we asked them to do something for us or if they were moving slowly to follow through.

Maybe we need to imagine God chanting this same phrase to us as He calls us to live a greater life of purity.  “Just OBEY, No DELAY”.   Just give up those bad habits, remove those toxic friends from your life, spend more time in prayer, give social media a break every once in a while to focus more on God.  YOU know what He is calling you to do…. “Just OBEY, No DELAY”.

When we allow spiritual “junk” to remain in our hearts and lives it can corrode our spirits and make it harder for us to hear God, feel God, and draw closer to Him.  Seek to remove all hindrances from your life and focus your heart more on Him.  He will lead you right where you need to be. 

James 4:8 says…

“Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world.” (NLT)

The closer we get to God, the more pure our hearts will become… and where else could our hearts be more satisfied?  I challenge you to choose purity today, friend. Give God all of YOU and watch Him do amazing things in your life!  Purity Matters!

Living to leave a legacy,