Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Love is...

I am not patient with Caedmon, especially when he nags, cries and whines. 

I am rude to Adam, especially when things don't go my way. 

I am irritable. I am resentful. I do not  bear all things or endure all things with a heart of patience or hope. Did I mention I get irritable? 

I don't always act in love. 

This morning, I wrote these thoughts in my journal, after reading some of God's Word:

"Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things." 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

It is easy to lose sight of the gospel, to lose sight of our sin and become arrogant in our success. It's easy to look at this verse at weddings and reflect on the awesomeness of love, but our day to day doesn't change. After this morning, however, I have a new perspective on this verse.To me, this scripture is an easy place to start for recognizing areas of improvement in my life, recognizing sin and changing my life to better reflect Jesus.  

We are commanded in Matthew 22:37-39 to "love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all our soul and with all your mind," as well as to "love your neighbor as yourself." My neighbor includes my husband, my brother in Christ; it includes my child; it includes my literal neighbors; it even calls us to love those who persecute you (Matthew 5:44). 

If I am to love even my enemies, I definitely need to work on acting in love to my own spouse and child - whom are much easier to love even in the whining, misunderstandings and bad dinners. 

We must remember that our situation isn't hopeless. I must remember that my situation isn't hopeless; I have hope when I'm not acting lovingly. I have this hope in the power that God leaves with us by his Holy Spirit. By His Spirit, we are able to resist sin; we are empowered and given guidance (John 16:8-11). So, when I'm not acting lovingly, I can approach God, confessing my sin, leaving it at the cross and finding new strength to resist sin and be loving in the Holy Spirit. 

Through Christ, I will be patient with Caedmon, especially when he nags, cries and whines. 

Through Christ, I will not be rude to Adam, especially when things don't go my way. 

Through Christ, I am pleasant. I am thankful. I bear all things and endure all things with a heart of patience and hope. 

Through Christ, I act in love. 

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The ministry of womanhood....Part I

As I listened to my friend pour out her heart, I saw the tears form in her eyes. “I gave up everything. I’m married to the military. I had a great career and gave it up for this, and now I’ve lost who I am.” My heart ached for her and the hurt she was carrying; the insignificance, thankless hours of mothering, the many transitions of her military life, and the overwhelming feelings of loneliness in her marriage and life. Her feelings of insignificance and the loss of identity resonated in my own heart. I realized that her words were the same battle I had been fighting for many years, through different stages and seasons of life, but becoming a mother has been particularly challenging for me

First, let me say that the Bible is the first and only place you need look to find significance. I have found this to be true and trustworthy. My son, and only child, is not far from four, and since he was born, I have struggled with my role as a mother. Daily, I find new truths, hope and joy in God's Word, and I know that is the only place one needs to look. Whether you are a mother or not, do you believe you are exactly where you need to be, doing exactly what God needs you to do? In Ephesians 1:11 Paul writes God "works all things according to the counsel of his will." He didn't accidentally make me a mother; He planned it and wanted it in His plan. Wherever you are, he has worked it all according to His plan and His will. Do you trust that? 

Second, if you are a follower of Jesus Christ, he has specifically designed good works for you to do (Ephesians 2:10). We are God's workmanship, he created us "for good works" and "we should walk in them." Wherever you are, God has you there for a purpose. We recently received orders from the Army to move, ultimately by God's Hand, we are moving hundreds of miles away. Just the other day, a friend reminded me that this move is going to open all new areas of ministry for me and Adam. As much as I dreaded this move in the beginning, I eagerly await what God has in store for us in this move because He has work for me there - as a mother, as a wife, as a military family and in more ways that I won't know until He shows me. 

The final thing I want to share for today is this verse, "Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time..." (Ephesians 5:15-16). As mothers, as wives, as single women, as military or non-military families, we need to take our work seriously and make the best use of our time. I know that I need to prioritize my life, look at what God has set before me, and where my focus has to be... and right now, it's the little boys jumping off the stairs... so take a few minutes today, soak up God's Word, reflect where he has placed you and what he has placed before you. Prioritize, and if you feel like it, please share those priorities with me (as well as any hope or significance you've found in Christ - I'd LOVE to hear about it). You can e-mail me at 

"Lord, forgive my brevity in prayer today, as you've blessed me with the opportunity to spend my morning with three little hearts full of fearlessness and adventure. Bless us as women to see your hand at work in our lives. Motivate us to live for you, finding our significance only in you and your love. Thank you, Jesus, for your sacrifice and love - YOU have proven that I am worth it to you, even when I don't deserve it. May we share your love with those around use today. In Jesus Name, Amen." 

Monday, March 31, 2014

"There in the ground His body lay,
Light of the world by darkness slain;
Then bursting forth in glorious day,
Up from the grave He rose again!
And as He stands in victory,
Sin's curse has lost its grip on me;
For I am His and He is mine—
Bought with the precious blood of Christ."
- In Christ Alone

Overcome by the amazing love and grace of God this evening, I found myself kneeling, face to the floor in prayer, in thanksgiving, in praise. What a wonderful God I serve! My prayer is that you know the wonder of his love and the grace available to you as well! 

In the last several weeks, I found myself wrestling with my depressions, wrestling with a sometimes overwhelming sense of loneliness, anger, frustration and overall unrest. It wouldn't take one long to recognize that the last several weeks have had enough trouble and stress to make me this way, but I had lost my way, lost my joy, lost my hope, lost my focus. 

In Living the Cross Centered Life, C.J. Mahaney writes, "What will bring rest and release is spending more time meditating on the cross and the God of the cross. So I point to the cross of Christ, for there's no great encouragement, and no greater motivation for everything God has called you to do and experience in life, than to recognize His love for you in His darkest hour, and to receive His care for you in your darkest hour" (page98). 

I wouldn't say that my darkest hour was today, but I did realize that by focusing on the cross I gained what I needed the most; focusing on the sacrifice and love of Jesus has given me rest, encouragement and strength. When I focus on the cross, where Jesus' reality was being forsaken, being alone, having taken the abandonment we deserved on himself, then I realize my minor suffering is known by him. I know that there is hope for tomorrow, and however I may feel right now is temporary. When I realize I never have to be alone, there is joy to be found. Nehemiah 8:10 reads, "the joy of the Lord is your strength." 

May the sacrifice of Jesus and forgiveness offered by that sacrifice be yours today! May the joy of the Lord truly be your strength today! I'm amazed by God's great grace, by his sacrifice, by his love for me. I am amazed! Are you in awe of the great love of Christ for you? He suffered that our darkest days would only be temporary. 

I don't mean to be "preachy" in this blog, but simply share how incredible the love of the Lord is to me, and I hope to you as well. 

"Dear Lord, thank you for the forgiveness of sins through Jesus' sacrifice.  Thank you that prayer is possible through that sacrifice on the cross. Thank you that if we choose to believe in you, acknowledging our sin and need of a Savior, that you offer us forgiveness. You endured God's wrath for my sins that the relationship with God could exist. Thank you for your Holy Spirit, given to dwell with me, lead me, guide me and strengthen me every day. Bless me and bless those that share in your salvation, that we would have all we need to obey you. Motivate us with the memory of the cross to do the work you have set out for us to do. Thank you, Heavenly Father. In Jesus' precious name, Amen." 

Sunday, March 30, 2014

I buried my face in my hands for the hundredth time this week, feeling overwhelmed, alone, and frightened by yet another unknown as we faced our future move. You see, we bought our first home in May, in a small village of great neighbors. Within three short months, Adam received military orders to move. To move not only from our first home, our families within a days' drive, but the new friendships we had been searching for the last several months. It would all change, and now seven months later, when the move seemed less frightening, our home renting situation changed and we were starting over from square one - interviewing property managers, adjusting finances, planning our own move,looking for a new place to live hundreds of miles away, and now we had to find new renters for our home. What makes it all worse is that because of Adam's intense coursework for his new position, he's unable to help me. So, I am interviewing property managers; I am looking for housing across the country; I am cleaning and organizing the house for showings; I am managing the budget and paying bills; I am entertaining and conversing with our young son, and he isn't able to help me. 

I give up. 

Then, three things happened today. First, God reminds me that he is a God of compassion. Compassion defined by Merriam-Webster means "a feeling of wanting to help someone" or "sympathetic consciousness of others' distress together with a desire to alleviate it." Isaiah 54:10 reminded me, not only that the Lord has compassion on me, but that his steadfast love doesn't leave me, nor does his covenant of peace. No matter where I am, no matter how I feel, God's great love, unending love, it's ever present. His love, his peace, and his compassion are upon me. Praise the Lord! 

Second, I was introduced to a new friend today, who has just begun her first blog. Check out Kayla's blog at learning to be a godly wife. Kayla isn't a local friend, in fact, my Uncle Tim introduced us via facebook, and I don't know where Kayla lives! It was God's reminder to me that friendships that are God-given transcend distance. As a military spouse, I should always remember this, as some of my dearest friends are hundreds of miles away. But, God used this new friend to encourage me, whether she knows that or not. 

Third, I read another blog LIFE AS OF LATE, where she wisely writes, 

"I can hear God saying, 'It’s. about. time. You don’t have enough patience. You don’t have enough energy. You don’t have enough gentleness. But you know who does? Me. And I’m happy to lend you some of mine…but do you know how much I give you? Enough for today. Enough for this moment. Enough that you’ll need me again tomorrow. And the next day, and every day for the rest of your life.' "

2 Corinthians 12:10 reads, "For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses...for when I am weak, then I am strong." This is the prayer I have for myself this week, to be content with weakness, to be content with my inability to do it all, to let Christ work through me that all that IS accomplished is by and for His glory. 

I hope that my raw, rough, and poorly constructed sharing this evening encourages you if you are feeling alone, lost, or weak this evening and this week. We have a compassionate Lord that steadfastly loves us and cares for us, offering peace when we need it the most. He thrives in our weakness, and may we find contentment in that weakness. 

I want to make it a habit to close my writing in prayer, so please join me. 

"Lord, I want to thank you for the work you are doing with this small blog. I hope that whomever reads this is encouraged, as well as strengthened knowing your love, peace, and compassion are always present when we feel the weakest. Let us be content in our weakness and earnestly ask and seek your help this week. Thank you, Jesus, for the relationship we are able to have with you because of the cross; let us never forget the sacrifice and suffering you endured for your great love for us. Thank you, Jesus. In Your Precious Name, Amen." 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Nehemiah 9:17,28 "But you are a God ready to forgive, gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and did not forsake them...(28) and many times you delivered them according to your mercies."

These verses popped out this morning, and as always, I needed to share the hope that God's Word provides us daily. I love how verse 17 describes God first. He is ready to forgive. We are going to mess up as sinful beings. When we recognize our sin and go to God, He is already waiting and ready to forgive us. He is gracious and merciful. Graciousness can be "characterized by...generosity of spirit," according to Merriam-Webster. Thirty-one, a consultant-based business of which I am a part, describes being gracious as "having a servant's heart." We see this aspect of God very present in his Son, Jesus' life. He is also merciful. Rather than treat us harshly and as we deserve, he forgives and offers kindness.  He came to us, demonstrating his kindness, compassion and a true servant's heart. Finally, He abounds in steadfast love. He is constant; His love is unchanging. 

Because of God's attributes, his character, he did not forsake and does not forsake us. He will not leave us; he does not abandon us or expect us to do it on our own. Hebrews 13:5 reminds us that He "will never leave you nor forsake you," and just as God promised Joshua, his promise remains. 

In Nehemiah, this particular part of scripture is referring to Israel, God's chosen people. He delivered them. Not one. Not twice, but over and over and over again, whether it be from war, destruction or slavery - even a bad king!  He delivered his people and redirected them. God does the same for us when we find ourselves with the same daily battles, emotional, physical or spiritual.  Daily, we are being renewed, as it tells us in 2 Corinthian 4:16 "So we do not lose heart...our inner self is being renewed day by day." God is merciful, and according to his mercies, his character, his attributes, we know that daily we can seek him for new strength and mercy to battle our daily struggles. 

He will deliver us many times, just as he did Israel. Do you trust Him enough to look to Him daily and turn it all over to Him?  

I want to take a moment to pray for us today: 

"Dear Lord, thank you for all those that read this. My prayer is that they come away today feeling encouraged by who YOU are, Lord.  Lord, forgive me for my daily battle of yelling and frustration, when I should be patient and nurturing. I come desiring to serve you faithfully and with all of my heart (1 Samuel 12:24). Encourage us with your forgiveness, mercy, graciousness, patience and steadfast love for each of us. Thank you for delivering us and for never forsaking us. In Jesus' name, Amen." 

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Are you really listening?

"If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame." Proverbs 18:13

It shouldn't be hard to believe that we have an opportunity to build someone up simply by listening to them. As women, we hear or understand the simple phrase, "I just wanted him to listen." My husband is a fixer, and he epitomizes the man that wants to fix instead of listen. I recognize now that he is built that way; he isn't me, and I cannot expect him to react or be as subtle and passive as I tend to be. In fact, I love that he is blunt and straight-forward. So, when my husband wants to fix my problems instead of listening, I usually realize I need to find someone else to talk to, whether my mom or another female friend, or the best friend I have in Jesus Christ.

I opened this brief section with Proverbs 18:13 because I recognized where I often fail with this verse. I often become distracted with my own life, even while a friend could be confiding private things to me. What kind of response must I give when I am so distracted I don't really listen?

Shamefully, I have one experience in particular that haunts me to this day because it is the worst advice or opinion I have ever given. A friend had been struggling with her marriage for two years; I had heard her stories, struggles and frustrations repeatedly. She had spoken to me about divorcing her husband several times, and I had encouraged her to utilize counseling resources, bought them books to work through, and listened to her vent time and time again. Finally, I ran out of patience, and instead of turning to Christ for a reserve of strength and patience, I blurted out the response I feel guilty over still today; I told her she ought to do something or just stop talking about it.

Thinking of this particular situation, I gave an answer before I heard her entire story that day. It might have been the same story I had heard before, but it was not fair for me to jump to my response. To this day, I feel that I could have better encouraged her to work through the difficult marriage simply by hearing her frustration and hurt that day, and it is to my shame and folly I did not hear her like a real friend should have.

Since becoming a mother, I find my mind often preoccupied and life full of three year old emergencies at some of the worst possible times. As much as I would love to think I can multi-task, my REAL focus is either very torn and distracted, or I am really only focused on one thing while I half-heartedly do others.

Television is a terrible distraction for me. If I have to have a serious conversation, I prefer the television be turned off or else I forget something important said or that I need to say. Recognizing we cannot focus is the first step to avoiding later regret. Asking a friend to call back or scheduling a time to really give them your attention may not be opportune, but it will free you to give them the real encouraging listener they want.

Just the other day, I had a phone call from a friend, where she shared wonderful news; however, within five minutes of my conversation with Tessa, my three year old had world shattering need (really not world shattering, but to him it was!). Not knowing what else to do, I simply asked Tessa if I could call her back at a time when she could have more of my attention. It was that simple. I wanted to give my friend the focus and attention she needed and deserved.

Is there someone that you need to listen to right now? Why not give her a call or set up a coffee date to really listen to one another?

Monday, February 10, 2014

Desperate for Strength, Help and Rest

I just finished chapter one of Desperate, by Sarah Mae and Sally Clarkson, and I find myself in tears. So easily I see that I can forgot that God is ever-present. These wonderful ladies share two verses at the end of the chapter, that I want to share as well today.

Isaiah 41:10 "Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."

Matthew 11:28 "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."

These verses have touched my life today, just where I am: a frustrated mom up at 5AM with a three year-old, a restless night of sleep because of the same three year old, weary of the endless effort to create and maintain a clean home, which ultimately leaves me frustrated and weary with myself for failing yet again at the supermom, superwife, superfriend juggling act.

However, feeling absolutely trodden and in a slump of depression, their words and those verses have picked me up. In all honesty, if you suffer from depression, I still have that dull depression that lingers, but I have more hope today, for the now. Looking more closely at those verses, I prayed that God would strengthen me, help me, uphold me, and give me much-needed rest in Him today. I have hope that although the house isn't perfectly clean, Caedmon took a nap an hour late, and I still have more to do beyond this blog post before Adam gets done at work (laundry, cleaning, prep dinner), God is right here with me, right now, giving me the strength, the hope, the rest and refreshment I needed.  And, because of this great promise and great hope in Him, I could not help but take a few moments to share this with you, my few but wonderful friends and readers. Take a moment today and really soak in those two verses, and thank our God and Savior who does not leave us and abandon us in our moment when we feel like failures and the struggles of life, whether work, motherhood, or marriage.

Dear Lord, I ask today that you would be with those that read this, allow them to feel refreshed by your Word, in which there is such blessing. You are the giver of strength, of help, of support, of rest; may we turn to you today and feel your presence in the midst of our every day. In Jesus' name, Amen!

THANK YOU to the dear ladies who wrote Desperate; it is a must read if you have the time, even without little ones, I feel their wisdom and biblical reminders are like little shots of espresso in a moment of need (I like coffee). So, if you are in the market for and uplifting read, a book of encouragement when you are desperate, this is the book for you!