Wednesday, December 19, 2018

The ONE gift everyone must have!

Christmas is just a week away!  Can you believe it?  I can’t!  Time has just flown by.  I’m not even finished Christmas shopping yet.  I’m usually on it, but not this year.  I’ve been shopping later than usual and as a result I’ve been bumping into a lot of grumpy shoppers and drivers.  It’s crazy!  Everywhere I go I’m afraid of getting hit… by other cars driving wildly, by shopping carts being rushed through the store to grab last minute deals, or actual shoppers who are pushing their way through the aisles unaware of those around them.  It doesn’t seem very fun or festive to me.

Gifts… what do you get those hard to buy people?  Whatever you end up getting is never what they like, want, or need.  You know those second hand stores, thrift shops, and Good Will stores have to be flooded after Christmas with unwanted items… or maybe everyone waits until their spring cleaning days to unload it all.  What a waste!

I’ve been thinking hard on this and I think I have come up with one gift everyone will like.  It’s a must have item for everyone!  So… be sure to add it to your Christmas list if you haven’t done so already.  It’s something that will make a long lasting impact on all who receive it, yet it cost us nothing.

What is it?  It’s something we can all do that is free and easy for most if they try… BE KIND!  I know it sounds silly, but how many of us look around while busying ourselves with the holidays to notice those around us.

Do you see the lonely ones who are celebrating this season with out a loved one this year?  Do you see those families who are being ripped a part by divorce?  Christmas will never be the same for them.  Do you see the sick who are struggling through wondering if this year will be their last?  Do you see the overwhelmed people looking for the perfect gifts all the while drowning in a sea of debt?  The broken, the hurting, the hopeless, the grieving, the lost… they are all there.

What can you do to reach them, love them, see them this holiday season?  BE KIND!   Ask God to help you be engaged in what is going on around you instead of being consumed with your list of things to do before Christmas comes.  Ask God to put people on your heart to pray for, send an encouraging note to, buy a meal for, visit, or call.  BE KIND every chance you get!  During this season especially kindness is rare. 

“In a season filled with selfishness,
Choose to BE KIND!”

Recently I went to the post office to mail out some Christmas packages.  I was hoping to mail them sooner, (because I knew the lines would be long at this time of year) but I got sick with the flu.  Normally it probably wouldn’t be a problem for most, but our post office is very small.  The lobby area is pretty much a narrow rectangle.  There are a bunch of individual post office boxes around it and a window where one lady sits to assist you.  While we wait for our turn in a single file line (that runs from the check out window to the door) people are coming and going like crazy.  They are checking their mail boxes (in front or behind you), grabbing boxes or envelopes to purchase, and dropping off mail.   Space is invaded often.  It is not a place for grumpy people to congregate… that’s for sure!

I may have been a little grumpy that day from being sick.  However, I didn’t act on my grumpiness, I just held it all in.  I was frustrated!  My mind was going wild with silent comments … “This is taking WAY too long!”  “Isn’t there anyone else back there who can help us?” “How dare that lady send out 8 boxes now!”  “Ugh!!!”  I didn’t feel good and I was feeling very impatient. 

After a few moments, I noticed a stir at the front of the line.  A young adult was ushered to a table near by to finish getting his box ready to go out.  He had a book he was trying to mail and nothing was ready.  He was completely unprepared.  I was shocked to see the people in line jump into high gear to assist him.  One lady gave him bubble wrap, another packing tape, and the man in front of me offered to help him wrap it all up to go.  I was surprised at their kindness and a little ashamed at my grouchy demeanor.  Even though I was sick, I still needed a lot more KINDNESS in my heart. 

Did you know that “kindness” is a fruit of the spirit?  As we grow in our relationship with God, kindness should naturally flow out of our lives.  If you are short on kindness lately, you might want to check in with your heavenly father.  He is a great gardener of our hearts.  He knows just what to do to get things growing right inside of us.

Galatians 5:22-23 says…
 “But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, KINDNESS, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” (NLT)

Did you notice how KINDNESS is packed in their between patience and goodness?  I don’t think that was by accident.  I don’t know about you, but sometimes it takes a lot of “patience” to be KIND.  What about goodness?  What does that mean? It can be defined as an “uprightness in heart and life”.  If each fruit builds on the next (one naturally leading to the other), then we can assume that we can’t truly be good until we are first patient and KIND.

Do you want to see a spiritual revival break out in your city?  Stir up KINDNESS and let it grow in your heart and overflow to others.  Let’s be Jesus with skin on this holiday season!  Give the gift of BEING KIND! 

Living to leave a legacy,

Sunday, September 23, 2018

I Miss Her.

Recently I attended the funeral of an incredible woman.  Even though she lived a full life, we all still mourned her death.  Why?  …Because she had left an imprint on our hearts and made a profound difference in each of our lives.  With her gone, each of us would experience our own kind of emptiness.  Life would not be the same.

She lived to be ninety-three years old which is a huge achievement in and of itself.  Anna Patricia (Singmaster) Creek was married 47 years before her husband passed away.  She birthed 6 children… 4 boys and 2 girls.  She was grandmother to 13 precious angels, great-grandmother of 19, and great-great grandmother of 2.

She wore many hats and was called by many names. Some called her mom, sister, cousin, aunt, friend and more.  To me she was my grandma and to my boys their granny.  Even though she was ninety-three and I was… ahem a lot younger, we had a lot in common. Two things that come to mind immediately are the shapes of our faces (specifically the curves of the lower part of our cheeks.  You have to see a picture to really understand.  LOL) and the variety of ailments we struggled with daily.

In the last couple years she struggled a lot with her health.  Something was always aching or giving her fits.  I know because we lamented together.  I’m not as old as grandma was, but I struggle daily with an autoimmune disease that alters my life, interrupts my days, and begs for my attention constantly.

I think she told me all about her frustrations, because I truly understood.  I felt her pain.  I could relate.  I called her a lot to check on her and encourage her.  Battling with sickness can be lonely.  People get tired of hearing what ails you each day.  After awhile it can sound like a broken record… or at least we (the sick people) feel like it.  It’s refreshing to be able to share with someone who really understands.

We prayed together a lot.  I prayed for her.  I asked her before I ended my phone calls with her if there was anything I could pray with her about.  There was always something… her blurry eye, her swollen legs, her numb fingers or toes, or sometimes she simply had no words to share.  In those moments I prayed God would wrap His arms around her and hold her close.  She said she had no tears.  She couldn’t cry, but wished she could.

She always closed our time of prayer with a big “Thank You” and “I love you!”  I treasured our moments together.  I wish I could have seen her daily, but I lived 7 hours away.  The best I could give her was a weekly call to check on her. 

I remember calling one time and asking Grandma how she was doing.  She was frustrated.  She said nothing had changed.  She wished she had something new to tell me.  Everyday something different bugged her.  She didn’t know what to tell people when they asked how she was doing.  I told her I had a secret phrase I used for those who asked me.  It was a basic phrase that would work no matter what was going on with me health-wise that day.  Each day I ailed in a different way (the same as she did) so it was a hard question to answer.  When people asked how I was doing, I would always return their question with “I’m Hanging in there!”  She really liked that!  She repeated it several times with giggles.  I think she even wrote it down so she wouldn’t forget.

Even though my grandma struggled with her health, I don’t remember her always being this way.

When I was little she babysat me and my sister while my parents worked.  I remember the special walks we made to the nearby mall to visit my mom.  I walked beside my grandma as she pushed my sister in the stroller.  I remember Easter Egg hunts, coloring eggs, and on snowy days her giving me ziplock bags with rubber bands to put over my shoes so I could play outside. 

I remember the rain hats she wore… Where do you get these things?  I found some at an estate sale this summer and bought them.  Not that I am going to follow in her footsteps and wear them on rainy days… LOL.  I just wanted a reminder of her lying around the house. 

 … I remember hearing about her pocket book, her stories she liked to watch on TV, and oh how she loved those word books! 

She was always so good at keeping up with everyone’s special dates.  She loved to send cards for birthdays and anniversaries.  She really got upset at the end when she couldn’t keep up with everything. 

I loved to hear my grandma get tickled and giggle.  Some thing that really tickled her was when we talked about Betty White.  She loved her!  They were close in age so I often suggested that she could be acting too like Betty if she wanted to.  She would giggle in response.  Another giggle moment I would bring up randomly was when my husband danced her down the aisle at my sisters wedding.  He even spun her around.  It was a long aisle… LOL.  Hearing that high pitched squeal of delight was priceless.

One year my husband was asked to speak at a church in Kansas.  It was a quick trip up and back to minister there.  We made it a family event.  On our way home, we passed through a part of St. Louis (where my grandma lived).  We were in a hurry to get home because the kids had school in the morning.  It was late.  I begged my husband to go a little out of our way to be able to stop by to see my grandma.  I wanted to give her a quick hug and kiss before we headed home.  It had been a long time since I had seen her.  He obliged.  I called her to make sure she was home and asked if we could stop by.  She was shocked!  I loved the surprise on her face when we arrived.  Later she told my uncle how we had stopped by to see her unexpectedly and he wouldn’t believe her.  Well… not until he saw the picture I posted of our visit. 

We threw a surprise party for her 80th and 90th birthdays.  I loved seeing her expression as she became the center of attention.  She didn’t like it, but it blessed her.  For her 93rd birthday I decided to send her a bouquet of flowers.  I didn’t know what else to get her.  She had everything.  I found a small floral place nearby her house and ordered a reasonably priced bouquet of spring flowers.  I was hoping it would be a good size.  I had no idea when I ordered it that it would be SO huge!  It practically filled a whole table and barely fit into the vase.  She was overwhelmed and went on and on about them for weeks.  I’m so glad they brought her joy.

One memory toward the end of her life that still sticks with me today was our last prayer together.  She was in the hospital.  She struggled to eat, drink, and could barely talk.  Her voice was a whisper.  She was weak all over.  When I called someone had to hold the phone up to her ear for her.  I asked her how she was doing and she said… “I’m really bad Julie.”  I asked if I could pray for her and she said yes.  I prayed blessing, favor, healing, and peace.  When I was finished praying she spoke up louder than she had in days and said… “Thank You!”  I told her I loved her one last time as we closed our time together.  That was our last moment together.  I will treasure it forever.

My grandma had a life FULL of great memories.  At the funeral, we all sat and savored our own special times with her.  It was truly beautiful!

You can’t attend a funeral without becoming introspective about your own mortality.  Think about it…

What kind of life do you want to live?  What kind of legacy do you want to leave behind for others to follow?  What do you want others to say about you at your funeral?  How do you want to be remembered?

Our choices today influence the memories left behind tomorrow.

James 4:14 says…
“…yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life?  For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.”

We aren’t promised tomorrow.  We need to capture the gift of each day and spend it well.  Hug people more, speak words of encouragement, lavish love on others, give grace, forgive quickly, say “I love you” often and “I’m sorry”, and spend countless hours savoring the moments you have with the ones you love.  Live a life with no regrets… Cherish the memories made, the lives impacted, and the journey traveled. A life well spent is a life well lived.

Let’s make it our goal to become intentional about loving others well this year.

Living to leave a legacy,

God thank you for all of the special people you have placed in our lives.  They are such a blessing to us.  I pray today we would realize the treasure we have in those around us.  Help us to savor our moments with all of our loved ones.  Help us to live in such a way that others would remember us well.  Thank you for the blessing of today.  Please help us to live a life with no regrets.  We love you fiercely!  Amen.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

“Have you asked Him what HE thinks?”

Have you ever met someone who was super indecisive?  Every single decision they made was overwhelming for them.  I mean I, myself, struggle with the big decisions, but when it comes to simple things like where to eat or what kind of ice cream flavor I want… it’s really no big deal!

Making decisions can be hard at times.  I get it!  There’s really no special training when it comes to decision making in life.  We learn as we go on the spot from our own bad choices or from those of others.  It’s a live and learn kind of process. 

When I was little, I remember learning quickly that touching a hot pan on the stove top hurts a lot and guess what?  I didn’t do it again after that.  Well… not intentionally.   I also learned that walking barefoot through a bunch of dandelions in the yard could open up the possibility of me stepping on a bee… which hurts too.  Hmmm… it seems like a lot of my life lessons have been gleaned from moments of pain.  Interesting?

The decisions we make on a daily basis really do matter!  As a matter of fact, sometimes our bad choices (if we aren’t careful) can turn in to life-long consequences that we have to live with forever! 

 The decisions we make today can affect our future tomorrow!

 As believers, we should live differently when it comes to decision making.  We should want God to be smack dab in the center of our lives… at the core of who we are and everything we do.  That includes asking Him to help guide us to make “right” decisions.

Many times we rush ahead making decisions about things on the spot never even considering what God might think about it all!  Friend, I don’t know if you realize it or not, but God wants to be involved in our decision making process. 

I know, for many it seems a little crazy to ask God’s opinion about our decisions.  I mean how can we really know what He is thinking?  How can we hear His voice or even expect to know His will for our lives?  Is there a “Learning to hear God’s voice” book for dummies anywhere I can buy? 

I hear you friend.  I’ve been there too, but believe it or not God really can actually speak to us personally.  He’s done it for me time and time again.  Rarely is it ever in an audible voice, but there are lots of other ways God can speak to us and help direct our steps in the right direction. 

The first thing we need to do if we really want God’s help in making better decisions is … get to know Him better.   We need to recognize His voice above others.  I can say confidently after twenty five years of marriage that I can recognize my husband’s voice in a crowded room.  It is a unique sound to me.  We have talked often and I have listened intently to him…. So I am familiar with his voice.  (It helps that he is really loud and outgoing making his voice all the more undeniable!)

Connecting with God and growing a stronger relationship with Him takes time and effort.  If you aren’t spending time with Him, I will guarantee you that you won’t hear His voice or sense His leading when it comes to the choices you make.

James 4:8 says…
“Come close to God, and God will come close to you...” 

As we draw closer to Him by reading His word (The Bible), praying (talking to Him like we would a friend), and going to church (surrounding ourselves with others who love God), we will begin to discern His nudges, sense His promptings, and follow His leading in making right choices.

God speaks in many ways.  Here are a few He has used with me….

The Bible:  God uses His word to speak truth to our hearts for our everyday lives as we read it.   I like to read the book of Proverbs several times a year (one chapter a day over a month).  It’s a book of wisdom.  God’s words placed deep inside of us help us make wise decisions.  I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” (Psalm 119:11). 

Memorizing scripture helps us make wise decisions as well.  Whenever I have been struggling in the past, old scriptures I have memorized have always come back to my mind to encourage me at just the right time. 

Prayer:  Whatever decision we are seeking guidance on, we need to involve God in the process.  Ask His opinion.  Pray over all of the details involved for an extended period of time.  For major decisions I might pray a week or a month before deciding.  Don’t be in a hurry.  Don’t allow your emotions to lead you.  Allow the Holy Spirit to guide you.  “…when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth…” (John 16:13a).

The goal at the end of your focused prayer time should be a sense of God’s peace when you think about your decision.  If you feel uneasiness it may be God directing you AWAY from that particular decision. 

“The fruit of righteousness will be peace; the effect of righteousness will be quietness and confidence forever” (Isaiah 32:17).
Other People:  God uses other people as instruments to encourage us, speak wisdom into our lives, and tell us the truth in love.  It is always good to have two or three people in our lives that we trust (that are godly examples to us) to confide in and confer with when we need wisdom.

Plans fail without good advice, but they succeed with the advice of many others.” (Proverbs 15:22).

As we are seeking God’s direction in a particular area of our lives, we need to be open to asking those closest to us for wisdom and direction.  Don't just tell them what you are thinking about doing and ask them to pray.  Ask them the following question(s)…

1.  As a friend or mentor in my life, do you feel any hesitation or reservation in me doing this                particular thing?  If so, why?
2.  What wisdom do you have to offer me in this particular situation? 
3.  What are your thoughts about this area of my life?

Ask them to be completely honest with you. Be ready to receive, open to correction/godly wisdom, and prepared to love them no matter what they say.

In major decisions involving transition, our goal should be 100% positive responses.  If you get a variety of responses that aren't all positive, then you need to go back to your prayer room and seek God's face. A sense of peace should be the outcome in the end.

 Wisdom from others should only confirm to us what God has already 
been directing us to do.  God’s direction should be our primary goal.

Circumstances:  Sometimes circumstances can help lead us to right decisions.  Let me give you an example….

Years ago my husband and I were serving at a church as youth leaders while in college.  We were heavily involved… practically the unpaid assistant youth pastors.  Before we graduated we were offered a job as just that, but part-time. The only stipulation was that we would have to work as janitors for the church as well until they could afford to pay us.  They weren’t at a place to be able to hire us full-time.

It was an awesome church and we were up for the challenge, but we wanted God’s will.  We decided to pray for a week seeking God intently concerning all of this.  We knew even though it looked like an awesome opportunity, the right thing at the wrong time was still the wrong thing

We prayed separately and determined to share our thoughts with one another the following Sunday night.  That morning at church as we glanced down at the sermon title for the evening message, we were shocked at what it said.  The title was… “When God says GO!” 

With that message, plus our prayers, and the wisdom of others, God was beyond clear in His direction for us.  It was time for us to seek a full time ministry position even if that led us away from the church we loved.  Even though it didn’t make sense to us at the time (in the natural), we were committed to follow God’s leading. 

As I look back today, I can see His hand guiding us specifically to each place we went after that and all the people we encountered.   I am overwhelmed at God’s faithfulness to see us through and use us in ways we never dreamed possible for His glory.

“Circumstances”  I guess God likes to use this one a lot for me.  Maybe it’s because many times I’m too busy DOING things for Him that I don’t take time enough to really LISTEN. 

James 1:2-3 says…
“… when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.  For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow…” 

The decisions we make today can affect our future tomorrow!

I have had Christian friends who have made horrible choices that have landed them in jail, led them into affairs (that have destroyed their families), and gotten them wrapped up into a lifestyle of drugs and alcohol.  In the end, they discovered (after all of the consequences of their actions hit them) that it’s not where they really wanted to be.  When I think about it all, it baffles my mind. 

How did they get to that dark place when 
at one point they seemed so close to God?

It’s not something that happens overnight, friend!  It’s a slow process of us deafening our ears to God day by day.  It begins with us choosing to allow other things to come before Him or replace our time with Him in our lives.  The end result is that our hearts become far from God and our lives become centered completely on ourselves.  That’s a dangerous place to be!

I challenge you to draw close to God today.  Invite Him into every area of your lives (let nothing be off limits with Him).  Make the decision to keep Him first place in your life.  Ask for His help to make “right” decisions.  Ask others around you for wisdom.  The decisions we make really do matter!  Do you trust Him with the details of your life?  I dare you to try a new way of living… “Making decisions with God in mind”.  That is one decision you will never regret!

Living to leave a legacy,

God, I thank you that you want to be involved in my life.  I know You really do care about me.  Help me to make you a priority in my life.  I want to spend special time with You daily… reading your word, talking with you, and listening to your heart.  I want to draw closer to you and learn how to recognize your voice.  God please help me to use wisdom as I make decisions.  I pray your spirit would guide me daily.  Help me also to look to other godly people in my life to guide me in my big decision making times.  I pray that your peace would guide me in all that I do and that my decisions would honor you.  Thank you for your patience with me as I learn.  I love you with all of my heart!  Amen.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

“Yucky…That’s the only word to describe it!”

Have you ever looked at your tongue before? It’s definitely not the prettiest part of our bodies. Our tongue is the organ of taste and speech. The Bible talks about how hard it is to control our tongues in James Chapter 3… one minute we are speaking good and the next evil. One minute we are encouraging others and the next minute we are tearing them down. It’s a mystery. I learned when my boys were little that they struggled with this immensely. I immediately set out on a mission to “fix” their ugly talk and teach them to speak words of life.

I determined that the best way to teach my boys how to control their tongues would be with a visual reminder of its ugliness. My tool of choice was vinegar.   I shared with them that every time they chose to speak ugly or yucky to others that yucky stuff was going to be put in their mouths as a reminder that we shouldn’t talk that way.  

My slogan was…
            Yucky talk = Yucky taste

It seemed to work to some degree for awhile. I threatened vinegar often and they would “try” to do better. The taste lingered in their mouths as a reminder of their bad choice of words.

To this day, the boys want nothing to do with vinegar. Once I was at the grocery store and needed vinegar for a cooking project.  I asked one of them to get me some from the shelf and they said, “No, mommy we don’t need anymore vinegar… PLEASE! We promise to talk nice!”

Another time I was cooking in the kitchen and had a bottle of white vinegar set out on the counter. It was turned so you couldn’t see the label. I didn’t realize how much it looked like a water bottle until my boys came in hot and thirsty.  One went to grab it to guzzle it down (I guess the bottles did look a little similar, but taste very different!)  I stopped him just in time. 

Vinegar… a visual reminder that Yucky Talk = Yucky Taste.  I wonder what God would choose to use with us.  What if every time we spoke negative, harsh, or ugly words God gave us vinegar? It doesn’t taste very good by itself… just ask my boys. I surely wouldn’t want to have it all the time. Sometimes I think we need a visual reminder to help us guard our mouths and season our speech with sweetness.

How others respond to our words are determined by several factors:

As we speak to others we need to consider…
How we say it, the tone, the attitude behind the words, the specific words chosen, and the timing of it all.

I don’t know if this is true for you, but I’ve noticed that ugliness seems to fly freely most with family. Why is that?  Why are we the most hateful to those closest to us?  Maybe it’s because we feel like we can really be ourselves around them.  But, what is that saying about our true selves.

Luke 6:45 says...
“Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks…” 

What do the words that come out of our mouths say about our hearts?  (Ouch!)

Hmm… think about it.   If your speech had a taste, what would yours taste like?Would it be sour, bitter, or sweet?

Psalm 119:103 says
“How sweet are your words to my taste, they are sweeter than honey.”

I’ve learned over time that our words and habits are transferable to our children. Some families are yellers and they produce children that yell.  Others communicate quietly and have children that have probably never heard their parents argue in front of them.   Negative parents produce negative kids and positive parents produce positive kids. With God’s help, you can stop the transfer of negative qualities and pass on a fresh, healthy, and godly heritage to your family.

With that in mind, I want to be my family’s biggest cheerleader!  I strive to speak words of life to my family daily.  Some days I win at this and other days I fail.  I don’t know about you, but this is a struggle for me at times.   The good doesn’t always want to come out.  Some times my timing is off, the tone isn’t right, and I have a bad attitude.  It’s a good thing that I have God to help me with this.

Awhile back I posted a note on my mirror as a reminder of all of this.  It says… “Choose today to be a Life Giver.” It may sound crazy, but I will catch myself in the middle of sentences realizing… maybe the tone, attitude, or timing is off on this conversation with my family member. Allowing God to help me guard my tongue, watch my attitude, and choose my words wisely makes a huge difference.

I’m on a journey of trying to become more like Christ in this area of my life.  In the process, here are some things that may be helpful to you as you endeavor to gain control of your tongue:

Bite your tongue! (Prov. 21:23)
You’ll never be sorry for the hurtful words never spoken. Sometimes the best thing to do is to say nothing and pray. Let God guide your tongue.
Be positive! (Phil. 4:8-9)
Being positive is a part of having faith. Faith is believing God for what seems impossible. The Christian walk is a walk of faith. We need to believe God for the things we cannot see. If we are constantly looking at things through a negative, critical lens, our Christian walk will become a defeated one. If you have been raised in a negative home, this is something that will take time, but with God’s help you can do it! Positive people rub off on to others. Make friends with some positive people or marry one like I did.  It makes all the difference!

Be purposeful! (I Thes. 5:11)
Look for opportunities to build others up (especially your family). A lot of people have low self-esteems because they are torn down so much that they can’t lift their heads. This world is an ugly place. I want my home to be a safe, refreshing, and encouraging place for my family to be. Don’t withhold speaking words of life daily to others. Say, “I love you” often. Use words like please, thank you, and I’m sorry. Live a life with no regrets when it comes to your words.

Be purposeful and intentional about building others up! 

12:34 says…“Whatever is in your heart determines what you say.”

Fill your heart and life with more of God and you will have words of life to give to others. Remember it’s a journey. It’s not easy, but with God’s help and lots of practice we can tame this ugly tongue.

Choose to speak words of life today!  Give someone else the gift of a kind word, build self-esteem, and learn to sweeten your words. You have the ability to change your world, one word at a time. Be intentional today!

Living to leave a legacy!

Lord, please help me to set my heart on You today.  I know that “Out of the abundance of my heart” I will speak.  Please help me to guard my mouth.  I want to speak sweet and encouraging words like You do to others.  My family sees me at my best, worst, and knows just how to push my buttons to make me upset.  Please help me to control my tongue at home.  I know if I can control my tongue at home, I should be able to control it anywhere.   Help me to learn to bite my tongue when I need to and become intentional about speaking life giving words to others.  In a world where it’s cool to cut down others, help me to be an encourager of the soul.  Lord, help me to reflect You well with my words today.  Thank you for the words of life that you have given me.  Help me to make time and take time to read them.  I love you today and forever.  Amen.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

“Can I have a Band-aid please… Life Hurts?”

 When my boys were little they had this weird fascination with band-aids. I don’t know why, but I couldn’t keep them stocked enough in our house. We were constantly running out. I decided to investigate this mystery. I discovered in my search that my boys had a unique philosophy about band-aids. They thought that anytime they hurt that the band-aid would immediately heal them and take all of the pain away. It was amazing.

I tested the theory several times to be sure. When they would get a bump, bruise, or scratch, they cried their eyes out and immediately stopped the minute the band-aid was placed in position. Wallahhhh… they were healed. I wish it were true! This concept seems a little silly, but some of us see God in the same light. We hurt and therefore we want Him to immediately put a band-aid on it and take away all of the pain.

There have been many times in my life’s journey that I wished this concept was true.  If only I could put a band-aid on it and see it immediately be healed. It would be awesome to see all the hurt go away in a moment. It’s a nice idea, but doesn’t always happen that way. God doesn’t promise to take all of the pain away, but He does promise to walk through it all with us. We are not alone!  He has been there and knows what it means to hurt.

John 16:32-33 says…
“But I'm not abandoned. The Father is with me. I've told you all this so that trusting me, you will be unshakable and assured, deeply at peace. In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties. But take heart! I've conquered the world."

It is inevitable that we will face pain some time in our life time. It could be the pain of a broken relationship, hurtful words, a miscarriage, financial hardship, disease, death, an injustice, or a physical pain that won’t go away. When we face pain, we can most relate to Jesus and how He felt on the cross. He was willing to suffer to do whatever it took to build a bridge for us to get to God.

I’ve faced various types of pain in my lifetime, but a few years ago I experienced extreme physical pain like never before. I had severe stomach pain that wouldn’t go away. I went to every doctor imaginable and each one kept saying we don’t see anything wrong and refer me on to the next.  I felt like I was being sent in circles and nothing was helping. After awhile, my patience ran out. I was vomiting because of all of the pain and on strong pain killers that barely cut the edge off. I remember lying in bed in severe pain one night thinking… Why me????

I didn’t blame God, I just didn’t understand what He was doing. In that moment, I decided that regardless of how I felt that I was going to choose to be thankful.   I was thankful to be alive and thankful that I could be with my family. I determined that if I had to live with this horrid pain forever that  I could do it with God’s help.

After SIX MONTHS, we finally discovered the problem!!!  One of the medicines I was taking for the autoimmune disease I have had a side-effect (in very few people) that caused abdominal pain. A slight change in the dosage fixed it all. A lesson in patience for me I suppose.

I don’t know what kind of pain you are facing today in your life, but the main thing you need to realize is that God has not forgotten you. YOU are not alone!  He is near and wants to walk with you through it all.  No matter how hard things may get, Run TO Him. Keep running to Him when you are hurting, battered, and bruised.  Even when your inclination is to run the other direction entirely (AWAY from God) don't do it!  He loves you dearly friend and wants to be there for you.

I read this quote recently and it really stuck with me...

"When you come to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on.”
~Franklin D. Roosevelt

I remember feeling at times (when I’ve been sick or struggling in the past) like I was hanging from a rope. It felt like it was wearing thin and I was just hanging by a thread. In that moment God reminded me of something.  I was not alone.  He was holding on to the other end of the rope.  I was safe as long as I held tightly on to Him. No matter where you are in life or what you are facing friend… run to God!  Hang on tight and let Him carry you through. With God nothing is impossible! Pray, trust Him, Hang on, and let God take care of the rest. He is faithful!

 “Life's challenges are not supposed to paralyze you, 
they're supposed to help you discover who you are.”
 ~Bernice Johnson Reagon

 May God bless you richly today as you face life’s difficulties with His peace, presence, and patience for the journey.

Living to leave a legacy,

God, thank you that you are always there for me no mater what.  I know in this world I will face trouble and difficulties.  It is inevitable.  Regardless of what is happening around me or to me… When I am struggling, hurting, and feeling overwhelmed help me to always run to you.  Help me to trust you with all of my pain, hurts, and heartache.  Help me to surrender my fears to you today and rest in your peace.  Help me to remember that I am not alone.  YOU are there to comfort me, heal me, and restore me!  Sink my faith roots deep in You so that I am always ready for whatever comes my way.  I hold tightly on to you God.  You are my anchor through all of life’s storms.  I pray that whatever life may bring me that in the end I am drawn closer to you and become stronger as a result.  I love you today and forever.  Amen.