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Cured

Compare the two.  “All the days of the desponding and afflicted are made evil by anxious thoughts and forebodings, but he who has a glad heart has a continued feast regardless of circumstances.” Proverbs 15:15

Which would you rather have?  A feast regardless of circumstances or evil days?

The choice is pretty clear.

There are always times in our lives when things are disconcerting and worrisome.  We have to be totally honest about how we feel during those times in order to move forward, but there is a danger when we choose to brood over them.

I call it sitting on the pity pot when we  choose not to move beyond.  It’s as if we are sitting in the bathroom, constipated yet unwilling to take the medicine that would help move things along.  So we sit there hour after hour, day after day miserable, uncomfortable and plugged up!  We play the blame game (accusing someone else of causing our problems), the victim game (Poor me, I don’t deserve this but there is nothing I can do about it), or the much afraid game (panicked and out of control anxiety and despair).

The more we sit there covered by every negativity known to man, the more plugged up we become.  Eventually every day is a bad day and every thing has gone wrong.  If we continue to live there, we may even find ourselves acting out and doing “evil”  or destructive things.

God never meant for us to live that way.  And there is a God given laxative to clean us out.  Proverbs 17:22 says, “A happy heart is good medicine and a cheerful mind works healing.”

With God’s help and proper focus, we can move beyond trouble into a state of joy and gladness.  Here’s a few steps.

1.  Be honest before God.  Don’t stuff your emotions.  Cry out to God and be real about how you feel.

2.  Ask God for help and listen for His encouragement of His word.

3.  Think differently.  Choose to focus on the blessings, past successes, and things that bring you joy.

4.  Do the right things.  If you walk in integrity and character regardless of circumstances, you will eventually see the hand of God!

5.  TRUST.  Trust God and His promises.  In the end, that is what brings us confidence and hope for the future.

If your heart is hurting or you find yourself struggling at some level, what could you do today that would bring you a “glad and merry heart”?

It is the cure!

 

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Reflection

I opened my Bible this morning to John 14:9.  “Anyone who has seen Me has seen the Father.”

Jesus used these words in reply to Phillip’s asking for Him to show the disciples the Father.

When I read them, my heart was stirred.   I found myself asking, “Could I speak those same words? ”

There is nothing our world needs more then a true picture of the Father.  There are millions of Christians and I can’t help but think about the impact we could really have if we began to truly reflect who the Father is.

But, it’s easy to point to all the other Christ followers when really I am the one I need to be concerned about.  I’m kidding myself if I say I love God and yet do the opposite of what He says.  As verse 23 says, “If a person really loves Me, he will keep my word and obey my teaching.”

Following His teaching isn’t always easy.  It requires change.  It requires trust.  And most of all, it demands love.  That’s the peace I so often get hung up on lately.

It’s easy to say we love but when I see what love requires I wonder if any of us really grasp what it means.  It’s so easy to justify our actions even when we know they don’t measure up to God’s love.

For example:

God says in Malachi 4:15, that the purpose of marriage is to produce godly offspring.   Is the way you are treating your spouse, modeling for your children God’s commands? Do you want your own way more then you want what God wants?

In other areas, raising kids, handling money, maintaining your relationships , your own personal character attributes, we must ask, Does this reflect who the Father is?

I love what Maya Angelou says.  “I like to think of myself as a rainbow in the clouds.”  A rainbow certainly stands for God’s love, promise, and hope for tomorrow.  That’s an awesome way to think about reflecting who God is.

Where is God speaking to you today, asking you to reflect who He is?  What step can you take to show others the Father?

 

 

 

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Woke up this morning with the Abba song, Take A Chance On Me in my head for some strange reason.  Then again, maybe it’s not so strange. We are leaving for Vegas tomorrow for a business convention and I guess it seems fitting.

I love how God takes the thoughts I’m thinking and turns them into something about Him.  I could just feel my faith rising as I thought about taking a chance on God. 

The scripture tells us that His words are yes and amen, his promises are true, and God is not a man that He would lie.

So what would it hurt to take a chance on what God says about His power and plans for us and our lives.

What if we took a chance that He could heal our hurts and meet our inner desires ?

What if we took a chance that He could provide financially?

What if we took a chance that He could change us and our spouse, and bless our marriage?

What if we took a chance that He could turn things around in our jobs, homes, relationships?

What if we took a chance to love like He loves?

So many things we can take a chance on!   I’m betting that if we bet it all by surrendering everything in our life to Christ and turning it over to Him, we will win!   We will be rewarded with our innermost desires and conformed to the character of Christ.

What could you do to take a chance on God today?

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We’ve all watched our kids get upset about something.  There are times when they’ve been so disturbed they were inconsolable.

Child or adult, part of the weakness of the human condition is that we let things upset us.  Sometimes they are little things and other times they are big.

Yet we all long for true inner peace.

The good news is that we have already been given that gift.  Jesus tells us in John 14:22, “Peace I leave with you; My own peace I give and bequeath to you.”

The opposite of inner peace is a troubled heart.  There are a lot of reasons one’s heart might be troubled.  Whatever the reason, it’s no fun to feel upset and it does no good to allow the circumstances to control you.

If someone gives you a gift, it’s yours unless you refuse it.  It’s useless as long as it remains unopened. God has given us peace.  It’s not for someday.  It’s ours now. If we want it, we have to open the gift.

So how do we do that.  It’s not easy but it is simple.  The rest of verse 27 holds the key.  “Do not let your heart be troubled or afraid.  Stop allowing yourself to be agitated and disturbed; Do not permit yourself to be fearful or intimidated and cowardly and unsettled.”

If you find yourself with an unopened gift of inner peace, maybe you could ask yourself:  What is causing my heart to be troubled or afraid?  Where or how did I get to a place of allowing myself to be agitated and disturbed?  Why am I living from fear, without courage, and unsettled? Am I focusing on my situation or the gift of peace that God has given me?

Inner peace is a decision away.  It’s not based on circumstance or what someone does or doesn’t do.  It’s based on what we allow or permit to agitate or disturb us.

What if we followed God’s advice and just stopped allowing ourselves to be upset or disturbed?

What could that mean for our marriages, our homes, our parenting, our finances, our church, our community, or the world for that matter?

You don’t have to live without inner peace.  When you do, you have left God’s gift to you and your inheritance unopened.

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Yesterday we lost our 14 year old companion, our dog, Daisy.  Everywhere I go today I think about her and the impact she had on our lives.  I hear the jingle of her collar as she walked through the house.  I see the engraved image of her laying next to my feet just to be near me while I worked in the office.  I see her sitting patiently near the table, begging for one morsel from my dinner plate.  And I remember the unconditional love and companionship she offered to us and our son through those years.

When you think about it, Daisy left a legacy.  Our home was a better place for having her part of our life.  We will never forget her.  She had a spirit that fought to the end and brought such joy to everyone who entered our home.

If dogs leave that kind of legacy behind, what are the possibilities for us as human beings.  I can’t help but think about what we are capable of leaving behind because of our choices.  Will it be a good legacy or a bad one?

So this is a clarion call.   Will we choose wisely so our kids will see people of character in action?  Will we love unconditionally, regardless of what we get out of the relationship?   Will we live with hearts abandoned to a loving heavenly father, so that we can in turn serve the world around us?   Will we be women, men, teens, children of God in deed as well as in word?

It breaks my heart each time I see someone who says no to those questions.  I want to be a catalyst in this world to help people say yes.

What kind of legacy are your choices building?  What kind of legacy do you want to leave?  How can I help or pray for you in your legacy building desires?

 

 

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I love that my daddy taught me to appreciate America. This was one of his favorite songs and to this day when I hear it I get tears in my eyes.

We have a lot of flaws for sure but the gift of freedom is one we shouldn’t ignore. The beauty of this country is in our freedom to choose.  We get to choose and have freedom to speak, worship or not worship, how to vote, and so on.

On one hand, I’m excited to see a younger generation who cares about our country.   On the other, I’m wondering why so many don’t know our history or even follow modern day events.

This weekend is a great time to talk to your kids about the beauty and blessing of freedom.  It’s a teaching moment about the responsibility that comes with that freedom.

God is the author of freedom.   He has given us liberty.  Galatians 5:13 tells us that we have “been called unto liberty.”

Freedom and liberty is God’s design but there is a warning that goes along with it.  (My paraphrase) Don’t use your freedom as an incentive to indulge yourself or do the wrong things. Use it to show love and serve one another.

It’s in the loving and serving of one another that freedom survives.  We have the right to choose and what we do with that choice effects everyone that comes after.  Our personal choices play a part in everything that comes after that decision.  They are important.

That is the message to reflect on and teach our kids.  If we understand the gift of freedom and the responsibility of freedom we will continue to have freedom in our land.  We will also grow in our relationship with God.

Let FREEDOM Ring!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

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I am celebrating today!  250 Blog Posts represent a lot of words over the last year.  More than 125,000!  I can only hope they have touched a few lives along the way.

As I reflected on this milestone I began to wonder what I could blog about that would match such an occasion. I thought about where I’ve been and what I am becoming.  There are more stories then I could possibly tell but somehow it seemed appropriate to share a little more about me in the hopes that it would encourage each of you.

Besides when you are past 50 it’s natural to reflect!

In all seriousness, I believe in the power of story.  I don’t think we get enough of sharing testimony between us.  And I believe that sharing strengthens both us and the person listening.

Since I began Moms On Mission almost two years ago, I’ve thought a lot about where I was at that stage of my life.  It was my experiences from childhood through momhood, wifehood, all the way through today that have given me insight for life now.  I think that’s why scripture says the older should teach the younger.

It’s in the hope of influencing the next generation that I write this blog every day.  I understand that if I can impart one truth that will connect a mom to God, their own identity and destiny, or to another person it can ripple through the ages.  Maybe my story will encourage you to make one small change or look at things just a little different.

So here it is in a nutshell! This little girl, confident in God’s love for her, somewhere along the way, let life’s circumstances and struggles, change that.

Losing my dad at 11 left me with a sense of loneliness and abandonment.  My poor relationship with my mom mixed with normal childhood insecurity magnified my already fragile self image and worth.  I felt insignificant most of my life, even though on the outside I was outgoing and appeared to have it together.

And then there is the whole confusion about God thing.  On one hand my church experience taught me about God’s love through the sacrifice of Jesus.  On the other, the legalistic rules and demands couched in the “fear of hell,” left me thinking God was more angry then loving and that knowing Him was about performing and doing all the things that a “good Christian girl” should do.

Now here’s the problem, I didn’t know what to do with all the wounds and couldn’t get close enough to God because I thought if good things weren’t happening it was because I’d messed up somehow.  So, I did what many wounded people do.  I stuffed my pain, and put on the mask so no one would know what was underneath. The I tried to validate myself by my children, my husband, my family, any role I played in life, and my church.  It might have looked pretty, but inside it wasn’t!  Because I wasn’t real!

But God knew all that, and had a plan to bring me to life again.   I can’t say it wasn’t a long and winding road but along the way, He taught me lesson after lesson, precept after precept, and promise after promise.  And I have to say, today in almost every way, I love God, I love who I am, and I love my life.  There are still struggles and difficulties but I can testify that God uses all for my good.

If I were able to give you a set of keys to unlock a life you can celebrate this is what they’d look like.

1.  Celebrate God!  Remember your blessings each day and give thanks.  Document the places of breakthrough and where He has changed your life or worked something for your good. Give Him every part of your life and being.

2.  Celebrate the Gifts in Your Past!  Don’t let the pain of the past control your future. At some point you have to let go! You can look  beyond the pain when you acknowledge the lesson learned or the gift given through it and leave it with God to work through it.

3. Celebrate You!  Take time for your own personal nurturing and growth and celebrate your uniqueness.  I use to think of this as selfishness and pride.  Now I realize just like a car, we need maintenance and fuel. And when I understood that it was ok to acknowledge your strengths and your uniqueness, it changed everything for me.  If you aren’t there yet, take time to listen to God’s love words to you and surround yourself with others who will speak positively into your life.  And speak positively over your own life!

4.    Celebrate Others!  Look for the good(or should I say God)  in people.  I am learning that if we begin to see people that way, our expectations change.  It’s not always easy, but when we move our focus away from what we want them to be and onto the things we can celebrate about them, our relationships change. We move from needing to serving.  We are called to love and honor people whether they are stranger, friend, or family.

So wherever you are at today, I pray you’ll take time to ask:

What can I celebrate about God?  What gift or lesson can I celebrate from my past?  What can I celebrate about me?  Who, what, and how can I celebrate someone else?

And while you are at it, I hope you’ll celebrate God’s plan for your future!  A future of hope, promise, and endless possibilities.

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Burnt Toast

I hate burnt toast!  I did it twice this morning.  Put in my bread in the toaster and when it popped up it was black.  Got interrupted and came back a few minutes later and put another piece in and voila, black again!

Duh!  If you don’t want burnt toast, adjust the setting.  Turned the dial down and of course the third time it worked.

God uses object lessons and I’m certain this was a good one.

Just like me wanting toast for breakfast, there are a lot of times in life when we know what we want.  Where we go wrong is we misread what it takes to get it, or we become impatient and try to make it happen.

Sometimes we even find ourselves in crisis mode.  We find ourselves in a situation that seems like an emergency and in an effort to solve it or run from it we turn up the heat instead of turning it down.

I wish I’d understood this as a young wife and mother.  When I look back at those years, I see that most of the time, I turned every obstacle in my path into a crisis.  I wanted to be perfect, have perfect kids, perfect marriage, perfect church, perfect finances, etc.  In order to fill the hole of insecurity, woundedness, and lack of identity, my expectations of myself and others always burned me emotionally.  Eventually, I found myself, totally exhausted and used up.

In fact, there was a point in my marriage that I had decided I didn’t love my husband anymore because he wasn’t what I thought I wanted.  I remember the agony of crying out to God.  I felt like there was no hope.  I either stayed and lived empty or left and looked for something or someone else to fill me.

Thankfully, neither one of those results happened.  I dialed back my emotions, and looked deeper at the setting.  Here are some of the steps I took.

1.  I looked at God’s principles for the situation.  It had to start there.  Even though I was messed up in my theology at the time, I did not want to do something against God.  In essence, God didn’t steal my right to choose but He set a firm boundary that I could not cross if I wanted the benefit of His blessing.

2.  I looked at myself.  There came a point when I had to put away my perception of what everyone else was doing or not doing and look at what I was doing.  If I didn’t change the dial or setting, I couldn’t expect anyone else to.  While I thought I’d given everything, I had to admit, I had not.  I couldn’t have because my focus had been on everything I needed or wanted, rather than what I could give.

3.  I looked at my relationships.  Especially with my husband and kids, I realized God always calls us to bless.  I determined that I had committed before God to love and asked Him to help me love.  I remember one day, giving it all over to God and even though I was crying inside, asking God to make me a blessing to my husband and my kids.  I laid  down what I thought I wanted, for them.

You might be thinking how difficult that was.  But here’s the joy in it.  As I changed, my husband changed.  As I pushed through to find my fullness in my relationship with Christ, I found myself.  And though everything wasn’t perfect, it was better.   The more I grew, the more I found out my husband and I wanted the same things.  I discovered that he didn’t understand the messages I had been trying to send him.  And there was so much more.

What I had wanted was to be loved completely.  I found out that is only possible by God.  I had wanted security.  I discovered the more I trusted God to work in spite of our flaws, the more secure I got.  I had wanted joy and happiness.  This was probably my biggest ah ha!  I had a revelation that it’s in giving, not receiving that joy is made full.

There was a moment in time when I sat down a wrote a song, “Joy, Joy, Jesus make me a joy……”

He answered that prayer.  If you want joy, become joy.  If you want happiness, bring happiness.  If you want peace, be peace.

If you want golden brown toast, adjust the setting.  Burnt toast is not God’s plan for you.

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Mom

Reflecting on Mother’s Day.  Moms deserve the honor for sure but in the past I’ve wondered if all those platitudes about the perfect and best mom in the world could possibly be true.

As I watched a program on OWN tonight about the Judds.  So raw and real! As the drama of their past wounds unfolded, it was clear that no matter what people see in the glitz and glam of celebrity success, at some point in our lives everybody hurts and parent children relationships can get complicated.

Wouldn’t it be great to say that nobody in our family ever hurt us?  I’ve yet to meet anyone who could. Wish I could say I’d never hurt my kids–that I’d never said something mean or made them feel like I disapproved of them instead of just some thing they did.

It would be equally nice to say my wonderful sons had never hurt me by something they said or did.  And any mom would jump up and down if they could say that even their grown kids were done making mistakes or would never have to face disappointment or pain in their lives.

My relationship with my mom wasn’t perfect.  In fact, when I was a young mom, we went through a season of real pain.  Truth is when either of our insecurity got the best of us, it got pretty ugly.

Mom needed to be loved unconditionally.  I needed a mom who approved of me and loved me for who I was.  In her insecurity, she couldn’t give that to me very often, even as a child.

I hope you don’t misunderstand.  You see, I love my mom and she had so many beautiful things about her.  It’s just that she’d been hurt herself in life and didn’t know how to be healed.

We eventually let go of our individual expectations, bitterness, and unforgiveness and things improved.  She began to share some of the hurts she’d experienced.  I began to understand her better.

A lot of the life lessons I teach I learned through my relationship with mom.  Especially how to let go of unmet expectations and needs.

My mom went to be with Jesus a few years back and though I remember some of those tough moments, I look at her now with a whole different perspective. I don’t see all her weakness, I see the strengths and the lessons she taught me.

So regardless how I learned them, these are some of the lessons and gifts I gained out of my relationship with mom.

Life will always have ups and downs, joys and sorrow.  We can’t avoid the bad feelings, mistakes, and injustice.  It’s not so much about the things that knock us down as it is about what gets us up again.

Life takes courage and boldness.  If we are going to break out of our own prisons or help others out of theirs, we must be strong and courageous.  We can’t retreat in the face of fear, discomfort, or pain.  There will be times when we feel weak but God is our strength as we open ourselves to Him.

Life is meant to be lived in generosity.  Giving more than we take, blessing more than we ask to receive is the secret to abundant living.  You be rich or poor financially, but what matters is that we have a generous heart and an open hand to those who are in need.

Finally, the lessons I cherish most of all.  It’s our heart toward God that counts.  We may not know all the right things to do, we may have not heard the latest teaching that will set us free.  We are flawed human beings on a journey. While it’s important to want to move beyond our imperfection,  God loves us just as we are.  He looks at is through the eyes of Jesus.

By example, mom gave me the knowledge that no matter where I’m at, a personal relationship with God is possible.  Mom wasn’t perfect but I’ll forever see her head lifted, and  hear her voice,  tears running down her cheeks, with a heart full of genuine praise, sing one of her many love songs to her Lord.

Happy Mothers Day, Mom.  As you sing in heaven, I’ll join you on earth.  “I love you Lord, and I lift my voice……..”

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Control is a funny thing.  And for women like me, who want to fix everything it can be even trickier.  I want to control the things I have no control over! As a mom, I tend to want to control my kids choices or my husband’s behavior.  I’ve known women that want to be in charge of every little detail of every segment of  their family.

Unfortunately, when we try to control something that isn’t ours to control, the result is disappointment, hurt, and even anger.

2 Peter 1:6 goes on(my paraphrase):  In being diligent in your effort to exercise your faith, develop excellence and develop your intelligence.  And as you exercise your knowledge add to it self-control.

When one looks at the issue closely, a discovery is made.  When it comes to control, the only thing we have the power over is ourselves!

Imagine that!  It’s a different thought for some of us. We might believe we can control  someone else’s action or the circumstances of our life but when it comes to us we tend to fall back on the old, “That’s just the way I am.” excuse.

We are quick to blame the circumstances or the wounds of the past for our behavior in the moment.  As Christian’s we might even consider it “holy” to believe that only God is in control and we can’t do anything on our own power.   We are blame shifters for sure!

Our life takes on a new dimension when we recognize that we have been given authority and power through the Holy Spirit to control “self.” That doesn’t mean we never make a mistake.  It does mean we are aware of our actions and the consequences for them.  We  understand that whether it’s our attitude, our thoughts, or our actions we have to make the decision.

So how do we increase self-control in our life?  Here’s a few steps.

1.  Ask for God’s help to know what is in your control and what isn’t.

2.  Study scripture for God’s principles and record His promises if we follow them. Then ask, “What step can I take today to live that principle?”

3.  Always ask yourself this question when making a decision.  “Will this bring life or death?”  Life is freedom,  peace, joy, love even in the middle of difficulty.   Death is guilt, shame, and anything else that holds us back from the liberty and beauty God put in us.

We were made to be free and beautiful expressions of God and His love.  It’s our choice whether we are going to be diligent in our faith expression by exercising self-control.

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