The set apart life….for a Most Holy God

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come. The old has gone, the new is here!” II Corinthians 5:17
How do we go about our lives? What sets us apart?
Muslim women wear a hijab; Hindu women bear a mark on their forehead; Amish women wear a bonnet; Pentecostal women wear skirts, keep their hair long and wear little to no make up. Outward appearances.
In the Old Testament the Israelite priests were given specific directions on what they were to wear when performing their priestly duties. Down to the type of fabric, the colors, the style. They were to be set apart from the other Israelite people to honor a Holy God. Over and over the Lord said, “I am holy.”
The ladies had moved in to our little corner of the beach from all over the country! God brought them to our dining table Friday morning for our weekly Bible Study. As we mulled over the set apart life, one lady told us a story.
I had been hired to work in this office a number of years ago. My desk was in the back where I was given a job to do at this printing company. My task didn’t really involve the men who worked up front. I was content to work at my desk each day and fulfill my task. I hear the men bantering back and forth, telling stories. I am not asked to participate and I don’t mind doing my work. But one day, a man stopped talking to the other men and came back to my desk and said, “You’re a Christian, aren’t you?”
“Well, yes, I am.” “I could just tell.” Mind you, she told us, I had not said one word to those men about my faith. I had not been playing Christian music. In fact, in the short time I was at that job, I really had very few conversations with any of those men.
How did the man know I was a Christian? The other woman sitting across the table from the first woman said, rather matter-of-factly, it shows in our faces!
When I was a junior in high school, a new girl enrolled in our school in the spring of that year. As soon as I saw her sitting at a table in the cafeteria, I knew she was a Believer and told her. It was her unmistakable countenance in her face. She was wearing the fruit of joy all over her!
The Lord gives each Believer the fruit of the spirit. Did you know that?
Love, joy, peace,
patience, kindness, faithfulness,
gentleness, goodness, and self control.
We have them! And when we ask the Holy Spirit to teach us each day, He reminds us of the fruit we have already been given when we put our trust in the Savior.
I asked the ladies the question:
What sets us as Believers apart from the world’s culture?
We did some digging in Colossians and found our clothing!
The old clothes are our earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.  Also, anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language. All that lifestyle represents a life apart from Christ.When we believe in Christ who died on the cross for our sins and gave us the Holy Spirit to teach us, then yes, we can still live in that mud pen. We can keep the old clothes on. But it would grieve the Holy Spirit and a walk with Christ would be non-existent. A walk with Christ is a relationship with Him. It is a two way relationship. He will always love us; but we can enjoy the fruit of a life in Him when we put off the old clothes and put on the new clothes.

We have been given a choice. Christ doesn’t come in our bedroom one day and go into our closet and yank out all our old clothes. No. He is gentle about this change. If we truly want Christ in our lives, we will want to yank out the clothes ourselves. And in place of the old clothes we put on:

compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. We bear with one another and forgive one another if any of us has a grievance against someone. We forgive as the Lord forgave us. We never leave the house without putting on love, which binds all the other clothes together. We let the peace of Christ rule in our hearts and we are thankful. Colossians 3:5-15.

 I don’t ever want to go back to the mud pen. Ever. I don’t like those old clothes. Occasionally, that old nature will rear its ugly head and I’ll say something ugly or start to hold a grudge. What makes me throw those old clothes out? My love for my Savior. When I remember what He did for me and how much I need Him, I bow my head and say, Forgive me Lord and turn (repent) from that behavior and run back to my closet and put on those new clothes again, with the scarf of love tied securely about my face.me

Lord Jesus, thank you for your forever love for me. Help me to keep putting on the new clothes each and every morning when I get out of bed, with the reminder that with these new clothes on, we are walking together, set apart from the world but ready to give a loving response as to the reason for the glow in our faces! In Your name, Amen.

	

Mentor Moms Hunger for Encouragement, too

 

” Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works.  And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another”….Hebrews 10:24-25 NLT

women sharing hurts

One mentor, broken in tears, looked at the other, and said, “I was afraid to come to this group because you wouldn’t want me if you knew the things I’ve done in the past.” Shocked, the other took her in her arms and hugging her, whispered, “That never ever would have happened.  You are my sister in Jesus and I love you. As you are. If you only knew what I’ve done.” Leaning in to the two of my precious sisters in Jesus, I whispered, “We’re frail, fragile, and yes, forgiven women who know we need Jesus. And one another. Our pasts are who we are but they don’t have to define us. Because of what Jesus did on the cross He forgave us. We must forgive ourselves. That’s the tough part. We must move forward and lean in to His love for us every single day.”

Three of us seasoned souls stood together after the moms went home and spilled our hearts’ hurts to one another. Our moms need us; if they only knew how we mentors need one another! How we have to have our own venting time! Remembering a story of Mother Teresa and her Sisters of Charity, they would come back to their simple residence after a long day of pouring out to sick homeless souls on the streets of India and after a bit of dinner, would engage in sharing and laugher and joy. Yes. They had to. They found their source of joy in one another; in the fact that they knew their Heavenly Father, in whose name they were ministering long days every day, had them and knew they needed down time. Laugh time. Joy time in order to pour out to the hopeless the very next day.

sisters of charity laughing

So we mentors have to have a time to vent, but also to lift up and encourage.

We have to have some apart time from our pouring out to others. Rest. Relaxation. Even laughter.

 

We so get the struggles of our sweet moms. We know their lonely hearts, their daily struggles. Yet. They come, desiring some spiritual food and some genuine fellowship. We give. We realize only He provides the strength to even give them the hugs; to even show up.

God gave me the passion for those moms from the very beginning four Augusts ago. I’ve known all along that this is HIS ministry. His passion in my soul. I was never a single mom. I don’t come to them with experience, but solely the love of Jesus for them. I see the hunger in their eyes for truth and hope and I give them His love and His Word. When I walk into the room of tables and chairs I know God will show up and in the way that He does, to make His presence known.

Our hands are open – holding on to nothing. So He pours into our open hands His presence and strength and grace enough for that evening. Enough for that week. Enough. Just enough. Enough to make us thirsty again for more the next week.

Have we seen moms come and go? Absolutely. Didn’t Jesus witness the same? Are you also leaving? He asked His disciples. Oh, no, they cried. For you alone have the power and authority. Where else would we go? Where else? To whom? No one. Absolutely no one.

“It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life. But there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who it was that would betray Him. And He was saying, “For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me, unless it has been granted him from the Father. As a result many of His disciples withdrew, and were not walking with Him anymore. Jesus said therefore to the twelve, “You do not want to go away also, do you?” Simon Peter replied, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life. And we have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God.”

John 6:62-68.

Now. Time for a root beer float to sip out on the porch in the glowing sunshine! Mentors, treat yourself this weekend.

root beer float

Father, thank you for my mentor friends. How I treasure their heart for you and for our moms. Open their eyes to see You in all things restful; all things fun; all things unstressed and give them courage to sit down and breathe, read a book, or take a long walk. Encourage their spirit and give them your strength for the next time we gather with our moms. In Your name, Amen

Mamas of Adult Children, we need to talk

adult hugging a son“I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him. So now I give him to the Lord. For his whole life he will be given over to the Lord.” I Samuel 1:27-28

The other day my younger son called on his lunch hour. “Hi, Mom.”

“Son! Are you okay???” My usual response.

“Mom. Please. You don’t have to ask every time I call if I’m okay. Those days are history. I just called to say hello!” Brought down to earth. Okay, Son. I get it. Sorry.

My son is twenty-seven. He has lived out of our home since he was eighteen or so and by God’s gracious hand and His never-letting-go promise, our son is doing well.

But the mom gene kicks in. The memories of those days when his calls meant he was not quite okay. And for a time it seemed to be one crisis after another. Again, by His sovereign grace, our son is learning how to deal with life’s situations and he is making more sound healthy choices.

Look at how mama bird trains her young. Mama shoves that baby bird to the edge of the nest after he’s had enough of the tiny surroundings and push! Out of the nest he goes! The ground is moving up closer and closer! He must flap his wings! And he does! By golly! He is doing exactly what he was created to do! Flying high in the sky!

Moms, our adult children are flying!

They are soaring and making good choices for the most part. But more than that……they are learning. Our children are their own person and they are learning what works best for them. We parents were given responsibility to nurture and teach our children for about eighteen years then set them free. If we failed in that area, may they forgive us. We are flawed failing folks like the parents before us.

I made MANY mistakes raising our two sons.

 But one summer a few years ago, as my younger son and I were driving somewhere and he was talking about forgiving those whom he had hurt during his poor choices days, I asked him to forgive me for the many mistakes I made while raising him in his childhood and youth. He forgave me. Moving on, I let go of the past and gave it all to God. I had to if I wanted to move on and stop feeling like a total failure. He, my son, had forgiven me. He, my Creator God, had forgiven me. (Jeremiah 31:34). Why was I hanging on? Finally, I mentally chose to yield it all up to Him. Whenever those memories return to haunt me, I choose to say, “Nope. Not going there. Those days are gone. I’ve moved on!” Sometimes I cry out loud so my brain and the enemy will know I mean business.

I  had to yield up my personal dreams and expectations for our sons.

I have yielded up my plans in order to watch what God is doing in their lives. Yielded up dreams but have continued to love and support our sons and be thankful for the Lord’s hand in their lives, whether they acknowledge God or not. Sore knees are proof that I plead with the Father for His care for our sons.

Moms, whether we have sons or daughters, they were created to thrive independently.

Lately, my friend and I have been chatting over the crisis her twenty-something year old daughter is in, seemingly emotionally stuck in a very hard place. Already, her choices cost her parents to cancel two vacation trips over the past eighteen months. My friend and her husband are frustrated and frazzled. “I am sure it is much harder to say this to a mom of a daughter,” I began, “than to those of us with sons, but….you may need to seriously consider letting her go. She is pulling you two down with her and you’re finding it so hard to see out of the hole.” My friend confessed that she and her husband had indeed been enabling their daughter to the tune of several thousand dollars over a two year period of time. She was finally seeing that they needed to let her make some hard decisions and allow the Lord to hold and protect her. He delights in taking care of His children and this daughter is a child of His; just caught in the deep woods right now.

Moms, we can drive our adult children nuts if we need to hear from them all the time.

We don’t even like to hear from girlfriends every singe day! We are busy and we need to allow our children to go on with their lives. We don’t need to know their every move. If we are so invested in their lives that we are texting or calling way too often, then perhaps we are the ones who need to “get a life.” Something to consider.

Here are some things to think about. Please. Or you’ll risk losing your relationship with your daughter or son for good.

They don’t need you to ask them if they gained weight lately!

  1.  Instead of commenting on your son or daughter’s appearance in a negative way –  you may want to leave that one alone. Or comments about how they look. If it isn’t kind, necessary, or true, shut up. Honestly. Your son or daughter still wants your approval and to be constantly criticized even as an adult hurts and drives a deep wedge. Stop.

They’re not comfortable telling you everything about their relationships.

2.   Instead of continually asking about their relationship with so and so, wait. Wait til they are ready for you to know about their relationship with so and so. And by all means, keep your personal opinion to yourself about the person!!! PRAY! God knows so-and-so much better than you. And He knows what is going on. And if…..per chance, your daughter or son makes a “mistake” pray! Ask God to guide the decisions of your son/daughter.

Make time to be with your son/daughter in a positive way.

3.   Make some time to be with your adult children in ways that they appreciate and delight in. My sons love that I make an effort to meet them for lunch or dinner from time to time.

They desperately need to hear you say it:

4.   I love you! Often. Meaning it. No conditions.

Be thankful for one another.

5.   You have much to be thankful for in your children. Tell them.

You and I both know of friends who long for even a phone call from a son or daughter who severed the ties. Be it a divorce, a death, ugly words that left the mouth before thinking…..whatever the reason, there is deep hurt and wounds so deep it will take a miracle to salvage. If I’m speaking to you, I’m so sorry for your hurt and will pray that God does a healing work in the life of your adult child as well as in you. The beauty of life in Jesus is forgiveness. Asking God to forgive me for hurting my son set me free to love him more deeply as the young man God created him to be. Our children are flawed. So are their parents! By God’s grace and forgiveness He is the one who set us free from the sin that entangles us and threatens our relationships.

Today if you are estranged from your son or daughter, take steps to ask God to forgive you.

If you sense that your son or daughter is pulling away, take a look at how you are treating him or her and back off a bit and let them come to you. Pray always and give thanks for the relationship you have. Let them know you love them and are giving them their wings to fly!

Lord, help all of us moms to love our children passionately while holding them loosely and allowing you to mold them into Your timeless image. We entrust them to You! In Your name, Amen.

 

Listening intently to Truth

“I’ll say of the Lord,

 You are my Shield, my Strength, my Portion, Deliverer;

my Shelter, Strong Tower;

 my very present help in time of need.”

“Made me Glad”

by Miriam Webster

women talking to one another

Have you been there? Staring at your heart friend or mentor as she shares what she is hearing you say and then reminds you of what the Lord God says about that and you lean back in your chair and sigh? You take it in. You don’t slough it off because you’ve heard it before, or because it’s so hard, or because you wish she wouldn’t preach. You take it in because you just heard a word of truth and you are so thirsty and you knew you needed it. To be reminded. But it came from a true trusted friend, the kind you listen to and you are so grateful.

I sat in that listening chair this weekend across from my friend in her kitchen. Over a cup of loose black tea and cream I sensed this time was the best time. Morning quiet. Our third friend in our group was getting much needed rest in the back room. It was now or never. So I poured out and she heard. Same story. Perhaps a little more intense.

She listened uninterrupted. In her response of truth and kindness, I heard exactly what I needed to hear. Let my son go. Oh, I know.  Why do I need to be told to let my adult son go? Because I just don’t want him making any mistakes or hurting another. You may be there, Mom. It matters not how old your children are. They will ALWAYS be your children! And yes, many of my friends have let their children go and are moving on with their lives. I so get that. But as my friend and I discussed, when we see what path they are on, we are certain we know so much better. Right???mom with son

But this is also what she said. Your son, like me, is a quiet introvert. Hard to make and keep friends. You see, my son’s mom, me, am anything but an introvert. More a cautious extrovert. I talk to the trees and know they are listening. I could strike up a conversation with all the people in the store and enjoy every minute. But not necessarily my son. He’s been known to stage whisper, “MOM! It’s time to move on! She doesn’t need to know everything!”

The point is, she reminded me who my son is and to remember who his creator is and to let God have him.

“His path may not turn out to be the path you’ve chosen, but when you give your son to God He will take care of him and journey with him on his own road. Your job is to love him. As he is.”
“Continue to offer your son to the Lord and His care and guidance for him. It’s all you can do. Your son has moved out of the house long ago and he’s doing well on his own. God has him.”

“Thank you for the kind reminder and for listening.  I owe you at least a thousand dollars! You’re worth more than any counselor, hands down!”

The next morning while still spending time with my friend in her Austin home, I turned to my devotional reading. Romans 4:18. The Lord had a word for me. I love how He connects all the dots for me!

“Against all hope, Abraham in hope, believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”

Against all hope….. Abram believed in unseen God. He believed that this God who was talking to him and he was talking back, was somehow the Creator and Sustainer of the universe, and told him that he would be a father! A father of many nations! Abraham had no children at the time!

Abraham believed God-Jehovah-whom he could not see! That’s what counted in this man-this flawed but humble man- he would believe God existed. God realized Abraham believed him, and his promises he made to him, and he would obey him. God counted it (his belief) as righteousness. God stuck with him forever. God never reneged on his promises to Abraham. God will never go back on his promises whether we keep our end of the promise or the covenant or not. Because he knows we can’t.

So now. Today. I will choose to hope in what I do not see-God-moving in my son’s life. And I choose to believe God for His work in my son’s life. And I will. Let. Him. Go.

This is why it was credited to him as righteousness – we are credited with righteousness when we Believe God!

Believe He is: The All Powerful Creator and Sustainer of all that He has created, both seen and unseen. Faithful. Sure. Strong.

I know I’ll have to revisit these claims again. I know my weakness is that I keep thinking I need to talk to him. What? Like he is twelve? And I think he’ll listen to me? God has the power to move folks in to my son’s life who’ll speak the same true words his mama will speak, only with different face and clothes on! A man! A contemporary! Someone he will listen to!

After my devotional reading and prayer I followed the music in to the living room and sat behind her playing the piano; praise songs that had soothed her soul back in those painful days of her own journey. When she turned the page to “Made me Glad” the lyrics caught my attention:

“I’ll say of the Lord,

 You are my Shield, my Strength, my Portion, Deliverer;

my Shelter, Strong Tower;

 my very present help in time of need.”

“That’s what I need to do! Daily speak out loud that He is my Shield! My Strong Tower, my help in time of need. Saying out loud confirms the truth, wiping out all the feelings of fear and distrust. He is! He will! Amen! So be it!

Question: Do you have a trusted friend who loves Jesus enough to speak His truth in to your life?reading the Bible two

True trusted friends who speak the word of truth are worth far more than the therapist with the degrees; those who capture your hungry soul and inspire you to run to your own Bible and seek the Lord through His word. I pray you have such a friend. Praying you run to the Word of God for comfort, direction and peace. He is for you and He is for now. He will never leave nor ever forsake you.

LORD my GOD, I cried to You for help, and You healed me.

You are my shelter and my shield;

I put my hope in Your word!

My flesh and my heart may fail, but GOD is the strength of my heart,

My portion forever.

Psalm 119:114; 73:26; 30:2

Lord, may we be alert to those around us who desire to hear the Truth of God’s word in their lives and will seek your face. Thank you for always providing exactly what we need when we ask. Amen.

 

 

Scripture with Skin On

only-the-word-of-god-can-do-this

Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.”

Ephesians 3:20-21

Is there a scripture with your skin on? One you’ve truly lived out? Please tell me the Bible isn’t just black and white words on a rice-paper thin page of an old book. Seriously.

Four years ago on a Saturday morning in April Ephesians 3:20-21 came very alive to me. The story became a blog post. To recapture the highlights: I was sitting in a large room filled with many women, most of whom I really didn’t know, though nearly all of us attended a large church in Northwest Houston. I was supposed to act as a facilitator or something at a table of about eight women. Sad to say, I wasn’t a very good hostess that Saturday. And I can only recall one woman at that table in my mind today. God’s purpose for my being there that Saturday was not to get to know some more women and their lives, especially in a noisy crowded room.

He positioned me there so I could witness how He changed the life of one messed up young man and was about to rescue my own son. The woman who got up that morning to speak was clinging to the Holy Spirit who was linked to the Anchor, Jesus Christ. Her quavering voice and visibly shaking hands holding her notes were obvious clues that her story was raw. Fresh. So fresh that her son had been sober only since February. It was April. But she was celebrating because she witnessed the deeper change in his behavior, reaching into his heart.

Tears coursed down my cheeks. I had used up all my Kleenex and now I didn’t care as she spoke. She was telling my story. No one could see that I was shaking just as much. My son was struggling to hold a job and stay sober, living in a halfway house, using bus transportation.

After the woman walked off the stage, I got up from my seat and hurried out to the lobby where she was drinking a much-needed bottle of water. Excuse me, but where is your son living now? My son desperately needs to talk to your son, I explained, quivering. Not, you were so brave, Mom. Not, thank you for sharing. In my own rawness I could only think of my son. She understood and graciously talked to me briefly.

My husband and I drove our son over to the house where her son was living and in the course of a very short time, my son heard the Gospel…..anew. This time he was ready. He was ready to hear and to change and to get serious about his walk with the Lord. And…..he moved into that house for a while. Now, over three years later both of our sons are clean and living for the Lord.

The theme at that women’s retreat was Ephesians 3:20-21. God just amplified that verse and concreted it my soul forever that weekend.

Abundantly more than we could ever ask or imagine.

This past semester three of our church buildings were flooded during Hurricane Harvey, causing all of our Bible Study groups to move to other locations, primarily to homes. But with our single moms and the need for two large rooms, one for the moms to meet and the other for the children, the Lord graciously led us to another church who have opened their hearts and arms to us in gloriously generous ways.

The Lord also brought two teen sisters with a passion for children to our ministry and loved on our children while I taught the lessons each week. A week before Thanksgiving break they told us they would be moving on to another church after Christmas.

We mentors began to earnestly pray for teens to come alongside us and love on our single moms’ children. Doors were shut on our youth at our church. Wednesday night was the only night our youth pastor had with our youth. No, they were going nowhere to minister that night.

The Wednesday night before our month-long Christmas break, Susan, our teacher, looked at me and said, why don’t we switch places? You teach the women and I’ll teach the children. I looked at her in surprise. Really? Well, is that what you want? Yes, she said, firmly.

I had been using materials from Child Evangelism Fellowship from Good News Clubs after school the past two years. I offered them to her, but also suggested she could use whatever she wanted. Working full-time in special education during the week, I knew Susan’s preparation time was limited. I called our church and was told they had lost everything in the flood. Of course. Their offices were all on the first floor and the building got over five feet of water. Go to the Christian bookstore, I was advised. Okay. I went and looked at the floor to ceiling shelves of children’s teaching literature for about three seconds and walked out the door, totally overwhelmed.

I emailed the children’s director of the church where we were guests. She responded that she would meet with Susan and me after the holidays.

This past Tuesday, Ephesians 3:20-21 came alive again. I walked in to her vast office. She offered two curriculum to choose from and multiple children’s Bibles, and then. She walked us to the children’s supply closet. She unlocked the door and wallah! Floor to ceiling craft supplies all at our disposal! Whatever Susan needed or wanted to use with the children! And we never knew this closet was there! Right across the hall from where our moms meet!

“You have not ‘cause you ask not,” Lonnie Hayter, the Baptist Student Union Director would always say when I was in college.

Abundantly! Exceedingly! More!

Susan and I hugged Mingo at least three times. She walked us to the children’s room we had been using and made a space for us on the shelf for the Bibles and any other books we wanted to use. Last semester I had been bringing all the supplies and toys each week, lugging three large tote bags of teaching materials including a worn out CD player, though there was a newer CD player right there on the counter. I never knew to ask anyone if we could use their supplies. I always made sure to leave the room as I had found it-clean and orderly.

Mingo also said she would contact their youth pastor to ask if they would allow the youth to help us and earn community service hours and could rotate in and out. Thank you, Mingo!

By the way, I said to her, we have invited your church’s single moms to join us! I have contacted your Discipleship Director and will meet with her when she returns to the office. We are praying for more mentors. Oh, responded Mingo, we have a large group of senior women who would love to help you and participate in your ministry! Manna from heaven.women-talking-together

As to our moms, we will be using a Bible Study book called Open Your Bible as the tool, though we will be referring to the Bible only in our one hour study, as Susan has so effectively been doing  the past four and a half years.

Was I ever worried when our teen sisters gave us the news of their imminent departure? Not one bit. I knew we only needed to ask the Lord and wait on Him. He would supply if this ministry was to continue or not. He was in charge.

According to the power that works within us

It seems every week we are amazed and overjoyed by the Holy Spirit’s presence in our room with our moms. Since our single moms’ ministry has been meeting four and a half years, we have witnessed God at work in the lives of our moms for His purposes. Though our mentors have come and gone, and moms have come and gone, God has remained faithful. He has shown up every single week, strengthening our senior mentor’s tired bodies as they trudge up the stairs to our meeting room, hauling totes and crock pots of fresh made dinner.  Shortly after, our strung out moms walk up the stairs far behind their active young ones, painting on a smile and receiving our hugs and greetings.

So I was not worried when the teens said they were not coming back after Christmas. I was not overly concerned when one of our mentors emailed from Kansas to tell us she is still needed with her son and grandchildren. God was going to show up. He would provide. Or. He would shut down the ministry. It was and is always His since the beginning. We have always looked at one another and said, “We have no idea what we’re doing. He shows up and shows us. All He asks of us is our faithfulness and trust in Him that He will provide!” And He does. Every. Single. Wednesday.

 

 

Scripture with skin on. Living out His truth. Leaning in to the Holy Spirit. Seeking out His will. And after we have done our part-prayer, seeking, asking, preparing, He shows up and teaches and opens the hearts of our moms and their children and He draws them closer to Himself. We just get the joy and pleasure of witnessing His good grace over our seeking broken moms. He asks us to love. Period. And we do. We so love our moms deeply and completely. Holding them loosely in our open hands.

To Him be the glory forever and ever. Amen!

 

 

 

 

 

Celebrate all who Jesus is!

Christmas begins with ChristCome, sweet women! Come away from all the chaos! Come away from this crazy season and  reflect on exactly who Jesus is! He is for you! Come sit a moment and take in these truths and let them soak into the marrow of your bones and then……perhaps this season will have a deeper meaning for you as you go about your day.

Long ago after my first husband left me for his career, I didn’t feel as much abandoned as stained. Not married. Not single. But rather, single again. And I felt like everyone saw the huge “D” on my lapel. Surely they saw me as I saw myself. No longer pure. But blemished. Discarded.

One day a lady walked in to the church auditorium from the back all the way to the piano I was playing on the stage during lunch hour – “Just the Way You Are” by Billy Joel. And she said, “I like that song. Keep on playing.” She smiled! After I finished playing she gave me a hug. True and genuine. And then I knew I was loved. God gave me a church lady, similar to the folks I had grown up with, but new. One who didn’t know my story. Not yet. So she had no judgment and she taught me afresh about the love of Jesus from Genesis to Revelation while laughing, crying, listening, loving. She let me love myself again so that I could love others deeper and truer.

Cracked pot loving on other cracked pots. Redeemed by Jesus. Grateful.cracked pots

So this cracked pot is about loving on other cracked pots – loving you to the One who is the Master repair artist. When I began to know that I was loved as I am, then Jesus has been using me to love on others as they are. Because it’s just better that way. In this little blog please know you are loved as you are and it is my hope that the message will draw you to Him. Jesus. So you can know more fully what He came to do which was to love you intensely as you are.

In this season of Advent in which we recognize the hope, the peace, the joy and the love of the coming Savior and Lord, may we camp on hope and take a moment to read and reflect on Isaiah 9:6. God told His people, the nation of Israel, that He would bring about a Savior; one who would save them from their sins for good. No more yearly sacrifices at the altar in Jerusalem.

Listen to this:

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given. And the government will be on His shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace!”

Isaiah 9:6.

Think about that! For us a people so caught in the snares of our own sin, God will bring His Son! Today think on the fact that Jesus, whom the people were looking for back in the Old Testament, was to be called Wonderful Counselor! – And He is! When I spend time in the New Testament Gospels, I read of his wise counsel such as

“I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?”

 Matthew 6:25.

Jesus was to be called Mighty God!

“For the Father loves the Son and show him all he does. Yes, and he will show him even greater works than these, so that you will be amazed. For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it. Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him.”

John 5:20-23.

Jesus was to be called Everlasting Father.” In Jesus’ prayer to His Father he said,

“Father I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.”

John 17:24

 Jesus is also called Prince of peace.

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your heart be troubled and do not afraid.”

John 14:27

My hope is that you’ll take a moment to reflect on how much Jesus loves you and your family. He is for you! Rejoice this season on that fact.  Merry Christmas and God be with you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At this season of the year, do not be afraid

“The angel of the Lord said to her, “Do not be afraid.” Luke 1:30

Do you mark certain passages in your Bible? Can you highlight on your phone Bible app? I don’t know.  I haven’t really read the Bible on my phone, even though I downloaded an app a few weeks ago so I could better relate to my younger mom friends!  I’m just used to my “real” Bible! The one I can hold in my lap and underline with a real pen!

underlined Bible

Lately I’ve been underlining the phrase that the angels kept saying right off the bat to the one they were sent to give a Godly message-“Do not be afraid.”

God sent the angel Gabriel to give Mary a very important, life-changing message and after he greeted her, he said, “Do not be afraid.” Mary was greatly troubled by this being suddenly appearing and talking directly to her. Troubled? I’d be so knotted up in fear I wouldn’t be able to respond. And the angel dares to tell her not to be afraid?

An angel appeared to Joseph, whom Mary was betrothed to be married, in a dream and the first words out of the angel’s mouth were, “Do not be afraid…..”

The angels in the heavens over the shepherds the night Mary had her miraculous baby named Jesus were also told not to be afraid.

Something totally unexpected happens in the life of these people and they are told not to be afraid. Right. Of course they were afraid. Startled. Terrified. Perfectly human response!

But I’m thinking that the reason for the admonition to be unafraid is that once their adrenaline died back down to normal so they could think, they were encouraged to consider the message. Yes, it was clearly unorthodox. Mary was told she was going to have a baby but not from Joseph and not from any other man.  Joseph was to take Mary, knowing she was pregnant but not by him but by a Holy Spirit, whatever that was. The shepherds were told to go worship the Messiah who was just born as a baby in a feed trough there in Bethlehem. Joseph and Mary had to rely on what they knew from their Jewish teaching that Jehovah was indeed their God and they were to trust in Him and how He was moving.

Later, when Jesus gave final instructions to His disciples on the night of the Passover meal, He told them “when I go away the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”

Then He said to them,

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:25-27

peace I give to you

This passage is not only underlined but held close to my heart. I have to return to this passage over and over because the enemy likes to tell me otherwise.

To so many of us, including me, this seems to be the season of “get it all done as soon as you can while still maintaining some semblance of normalcy in the home;” or,  the season of “I must do something tangible for everyone I know right now so they’ll think nice of me and because this is what we do at this time of year only.”

Somewhere along the way, the “Should-a finger” begins to wag. You know, that ugly nagging old finger; the enemy uses the “should-a finger” when we crash in to bed at the end of a very busy day and the “should-a finger” begins to accuse. You should-a done it this way-the way you saw it done on Pintrest or the way your friend does it- her decorating, her baking, her outdoor decorations, and those lovely Christmas cards of all the family dressed exactly alike and smiling. How DID they get that baby to smile on cue???

The world, including a whole lot of well-meaning Believers, gets caught up in all the hoop-la. They just have to decorate, send out cards, bake, all while carrying on the normal routine of their lives. When you enter their inner world, their bedroom, their closet, their kitchen, their heart, you’ll see cracks and crevices of not-put-togetherness. Trust me.

And that’s when I have to run to my treasure trove of Scripture such as the one in Isaiah 26:3.

“You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are stayed on Thee, because they trust in Thee.”

Perfect peace. His peace. That peace He promised that would not look like the world.

Yes, I have to make the conscious decision to move away from the accuser and in to the Truth of what Jesus promised. To the Word. And truly, I’m put at ease when I dwell on Jesus. That’s what He wants us to do! He is not a religion! He is not a plastic or ceramic baby doll in a manger at this busy season. He’s real and wants us to trust in the promise of His peace. So I do. And experience the reality of His peace.

So what does leaning in to the perfect peace of Jesus look like?

On Wednesday evening a couple of moms and their children came over for chili and cornbread. I had stressed over having enough for whoever came, thinking surely more were coming. They just had not taken the time to let me know. But once the moms came, in my spirit I gave the evening entirely over to the Lord. What He had in mind was exactly what transpired. Time with a couple of moms who needed to pour out their heart; and time to pray. No frills, gifts, or fanfare.

Listen. All the extra giving and card giving and crafts and baking are not bad in or of themselves. But all this can be distracting us from focusing on who Jesus is and why He came. Distractions are definitely one of the enemy’s greatest tricks.  The enemy also delights in posing as the “should-a finger” causing in us that over wrought feeling of not accomplishing all that should be done at this season.

“Don’t be afraid to simplify. Let the peace of Christ rule in your heart and……be thankful” Colossians 3:15.

Thankful for the reason we go crazy at this time of year. Take a few minutes each day and say, “Lord, I lean in to Your peace today. I choose to rely on You this day. Help me to rest in You no matter what. Thank you, Lord!” Then, you’ll be a blessing to those around you as you experience His peace. It will come over you in a beautiful profound way. I guarantee it.

Do not be afraid to lean in to the Father this year.

Do not be afraid to let go of those things that really aren’t important.

Do not be afraid to say no. Not this year.

Do not be afraid to give thanks; out loud; multiple times a day!

Do not be afraid to give out smiles and hugs and love to others.

Do not be afraid to receive. Do not be afraid to give.

To Him be the glory. Amen.