How a Season of Mourning Can Lead to a Life of Joy (Part 1)

Most people naturally shy away from pain and gravitate towards happiness.

No baby is born into this world asking for grief. What child doesn’t hope for the best and happiest life? And what little girl doesn’t long for Cinderella’s glass slippers leading her to the Prince of her future?

We watch Hallmark movies because we long for relationship.

We eat chocolate because our taste buds crave tasty.

White Chocolate Cranberry Bliss bars

We like hanging out with kind people because our hearts were designed to receive love.

We were created in the image of God with a high capacity for the things of God. Love, joy, and peace are meant to be central to our lives and when the opposite hits hard, we cringe.

Some fight, some take flight. Which one are you?

I have to admit that most of the time, I’m in the flight category. People who love to argue will be frustrated with me because I hate fighting and often walk away if I feel one pending. Those who love to control every detail of life might be dumbfounded that I simply don’t care about getting my way in every single thing.

I’d rather have peace than have it my way. This can be good but it can also be dangerous, and in the life I’ve had to live, I’ve learned to pick up my sword and wield it carefully when needed.

Whether you naturally attack the grief/pain in your life with anger and lashing back to fight for what you crave, or whether you run into internal oblivion too afraid to move, our negative responses to pain show that we were created for something better.

A human created in the image of God for the glory of God is of necessity born with the need to receive things that line up with the heart of God.

A baby develops better when held and snuggled lots.

By nature, women respond to love and tenderness.

Men naturally gravitate toward those who call out the manhood in them.

But the question remains: How to respond when we get the opposite of what we were created for?

I know what it’s like to put reality to the back of my mind so I could try to function in the reality I wished I had.

I know what it’s like for something so troubling to happen that the only way forward was to go into denial.

I know what it’s like to reach out for help, but feel false quilt while doing so.

See this—hitting denial mode on pain only prolongs the effects of it. Like a poisonous labyrinth, denial mode causes the branches of pain to spread. When you shut up something that exists in an effort to create something that doesn’t exist, you shoot ugly streams of poison into many areas of your life.

Many times the church is great at spiritualizing pain by calling people to “rise above it” and “find peace”. It often pushes people into denial and a false sense “happiness” which can cause unreleased emotions to surface many years later.

Christian friends, you don’t need to tack God onto every explanation of your feelings. “This is hard but God is with me” while tacking on a (fake) brave smile.

How about honestly saying, “This is so hard I don’t have energy for anything but just to make it through. Thanks for being here for me.”

And for those who use the flight mechanism, consider that staying quiet so you don’t ruin someone’s reputation can cause your own soul so much unrest that your life becomes marked with internal anxiety and depression. Please know that God cares more about your healing than He does about anyone’s reputation.

Reach out to others for help and council even if (and especially when), the one hurting you doesn’t want to be exposed. The latter fact alone should cause you to run for help. You are not meant to walk alone.

The only way to handle grief is to face it head on. Whether this is the death of a loved one or the knowledge of a cheating spouse, owning up to your painful reality will help you navigate it in the best possible way.

This will look differently for different people because there is no stream-lined way through grief and there is no certain finish line.

Say it to yourself, “My spouse cheated on me and I feel like I’m going to DIE.”

Or, “My brother passed away and I feel like I’m not going to survive unless we find his body in the lake.”

Give yourself permission to grieve. If you need to crawl into bed for the day, just get right in there and pull the covers up over your face.

If you need a movie to distract your mind, watch your favorite show for awhile.

And if chocolate comforts you, eat away at it and chuck that raw broccoli for a few days.

If you’re too tired to pray, simply know that at that very moment the Spirit Himself is praying to the Father for you. You are not forgotten by an all-knowing God simply because you have no words to utter. Know this—the throne room specializes with needs too great for you to handle.

“Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.

And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.” (Romans 8:26&27, ESV)

By allowing yourself to consume your grief, you will rise above it before it consumes you. Sooner or later God will reach down and begin to walk you toward healing. Bit by bit, if you know and love Jesus Christ, you will see the sun shine again.

“The Son of Man will rise with healing in His wings.”

The most exquisite glories of the mountain top can only be experienced if you first walk the valley of grief.

Denial mode takes you to an alternate route into a barren dessert where you function as a robot because you never embraced your humanity.

Photo by Julia Volk on Pexels.com

Jesus wept first, then he rose Lazarus from the dead.

Supernatural strength is most realized by those who face catastrophic dilemmas beyond their control.

Today, if you’re faced with a trial too great to handle, look up into the face of Jesus as you walk the valley of pain. Ask Jesus to go with you, and He will. Every step of the way, He will comfort your soul as you whisper to Him of your need.

Your soul is not meant to have sadness as a permanent companion. But that’s a story to write for another time—for now, embrace your pain with the end goal of being delivered from the grip of it.

In 2020, hope is still rising for every soul!

All is grace.

Love from my bone marrow into yours,

Sara

Why I Can’t be Silent

An almost other-worldly shroud hovered over the room as the lifeless form of a baby girl lay on a table surrounded with monks and the eyes of a little boy stood dazed in shock of what he saw and experienced.

It was evil to its core. But the irony of it all was clear—these monks didn’t begin their journey with the intent to turn into debauched human beings; they thought they had embarked on a journey of holiness.

The vibe in that room many years ago was anything but holy. In it’s place was silence in the name of holiness.

Today I’m aware that millions of conservative Christians are silent on voting day. But it’s not just christians on voting day—somehow, silence has been the go-to answer for far too many.

I receive messages from women suffering under abuse, wondering if they should be silent or if they should speak up. Some of them are afraid of displeasing their husbands by reaching out for help. Some are afraid they “haven’t forgiven” if they speak up.

Some of them pose opinions as questions because they will be perceived as dishonoring if they share a strong opinion.

You’d think silence by those two parties are very different things, but they have similarities. Christians aren’t voting because they believe in “separation of church and state”. The result is that the unborn have less voices to speak for them, that freedom of religion is more liable to be taken from us, and we are less likely to be able to put our children into schools of our own choice (schools where they can actually pray and be taught Christian ethics).

Women aren’t speaking up because they believe in “submission and honor”. The result is weighed down, suppressed women who survive marriage rather than thrive in it. The result is a woman who is more difficult to connect with because she has forced herself to be out of connection with her own heart (and with God’s heart), all in the name of holiness.

And monks are remaining unmarried because they believe in “holy celibacy”. Silent about their true needs, they become full of desperate need. The result is a room full of debauched men who are so intent on living a “holy” life style in opposition to all human desire that they end up in a realm of evil few of us can comprehend (ask Bobby Eaton, and read his book here).https://www.amazon.com/Boy-Window-Mennonite-Memoir-ebook/dp/B0868BVTS9/ref=sr_1_1?crid=9RIMIZHM77C4&dchild=1&keywords=bobby+eaton&qid=1604422880&sprefix=bobby+eaton%2Caps%2C171&sr=8-1

Anytime you shut up voices of truth you open up doorways of darkness.

Satan comes as an angel of light to silence voices of life.

The teaching of “life” I was promised if I “submitted to” my ex-husband was so opposed to true honor that it brought death. Had I known the truth I would have been unafraid to reach out for help much sooner than I did. I would have protected my mind and soul from despair and mental apathy.

Women have a voice to use. So does the church.

Teaching Christians that it takes silence on voting day to separate church and state doesn’t actually separate the church from the state; rather, it invites the state right into the church to control and inhibit it from all it should be. You may not want to be a politician but you do have a voice for the unborn and future generations.

We all need to ponder HOW we speak more than IF we speak.

Did you know you can speak to an opposing party with as much honor and dignity as you speak with a friend?

Women, did you know you can speak up about the wrong in your marriage with both strength and grace? That God wants you to use your voice because He loves you and hates what’s going on inside the walls of your home? That using your voice doesn’t have to mean losing your femininity?

Silence on election day doesn’t keep the church out of the state; it invites the state right into the church.

Silence in your marriage (when you really need to speak) doesn’t maintain “submission”; it strips you of real honor.

We may not be extreme like the monks mentioned in the above page, but I ask all of us:

“Why are we silent, and how have we perverted God’s original intentions for holiness into something that breeds the opposite?”

How I Found Wholeness in the Breaking of Divorce

Divorce is an epidemic in our twenty-first century culture.

I remember my children being in public school and realizing that most of their friends no longer had both sets of parents in the house. It blew me away.

Divorce was not a word in my vocabulary. When my marriage hit the rocks, I refused to sign the papers he wanted because I knew divorce was not the answer. When reality forced me to agree with the divorce and even to want it (because of his teen-aged girlfriend living in our house with him),I knew I no longer lived in the world I wanted to live in. I had joined the club.

A few years earlier, my heart had fallen to my toes when I greeted him at the door with a smile, looked down, and saw books in his bag on how to do divorce well. Then and there, my world was never the same.

He wanted to be friends and have a friendly divorce. But to me, there was nothing friendly about divorce and betrayal.

That was almost three years ago and our divorce is just now being finalized.

I had to see the girl a few weeks ago, had to be in the same court room as my now ex-husband and I sat for trial over things we never should have needed to decide.

Then, it was over. I joined my friends for brunch, started crying, and couldn’t stop for a few days. Every ounce of strength I had gathered for the past three years flew out the window and I cried ugly in my father’s arms.

I’m a single woman. Not just a single woman, but a christian single woman intent on staying faithful to the God I know, intent on finding out more of His true heart for women, and determined to continue healing.

Many years ago when the first huge ugly in my marriage started rocking my inner world, God taught me that He not only came for the sin of this world, He also came for the pain of this world. I found Him in ways I had only heard of before.

I found Him greater, stronger, and more powerful than what was rocking my boat.

If Jesus Christ died to SAVE, that not only means my sins are forgiven; it also means that sins committed against me are forgiven and have no real power over me.

If Jesus Christ is the Giver of Life, that means nothing deadly on this passing earth can take eternal life out of me.

And if He cares for me as He says He does, that means the past three years of tears will be redeemed because He weeps with me, then offers life to me.

I can sink or swim. I happen to believe that we were not meant to go down in the storm, we were meant to ride the waves.

It sounds cliche`. The honest truth is that riding waves often looks like swimming in tears.

Let the tears roll. They will purify your soul and cleanse you from pain so you can be washed in life. Let them roll for three years, if need be.

Jesus weeps with you but He doesn’t merely commiserate with you; in the end, He liberates you.

I want to walk with you, not ahead of you or behind you, but beside you. I want us to be community and that means sharing the good, bad, and ugly for each other and with each other.

We are human and life is real.

But God is also God and He is eternally alive. He is Victor over all, through all, and in all. Allow Him to walk with you, then lead you.

Beauty for ashes may not mean your circumstance becomes beautiful, but it does mean your soul will merge into beauty in ways you’ve never known before.

Your pain has led you to glory because even though pain speaks, it cannot have the final say.

Friends, don’t be afraid of the thing you don’t know how to survive. Just make one good choice after another even when you don’t know which is the best one. Trust God to make up for your mistakes as you do the best you know and ask Him to lead you. I promise, He will.

My heart is healing from the inside out. I trust yours will, too. And in the process, I am here for you.

All is grace.

Love, Sara

Just Say Yes

I stepped into the bathroom and looked around, appreciating the faux paint splashed onto formerly jagged up walls.

Thank you, Jesus,” I whispered for the hundredth time.  

It had been a season of blessing. I looked around and wondered at all of it, because I remembered difficult seasons behind those years. My brother drowned, I needed to brave it and get counseling, and daily life was nothing short of challenging. I still had no idea when or if my dreams of publishing a book would materialize, and we lived in a crowded, one bathroom home with seven people.  

God was faithful in those years. But they were hard.

Later, we were unexpectedly able to purchase a three bath, six bedroom home, and my first book was listed on Amazon. The perfect jobs came my way so I was able not only to move in, but also decorate that home.

I kept walking into my office, remembering the years I didn’t even own a desk. I remember carrying my laptop through the house for a quiet spot on the bed, then wondering where to place it when I was done.

I kept doing my make up at my extra sink and mirror outside the third bathroom, remembering rushing through the process in one bathroom while a million people knocked on the door in desperation. Or I’d let them in and two or three of us would crowd the sink.

I stepped into the large walk-in closet and remember having so little storage I would carry things into the crawl space under the house where rat droppings and dirt would cover everything.

Then, I looked around and said it over and over again. “Thank you, Jesus.”

He whispers back to my heart, “You were faithful to do small things.”

Small things. Aren’t our days as mothers made up of small things?

My entire summer was made up of small things, and I’d feel a bit let down when I couldn’t walk to my laptop and type out a lovely puzzle of words creating a picture for the soul.

I’d feel a bit cheap, like I didn’t care enough for some things and cared too much for other things.

But God whispers to my heart, “These walls are painted and this home is lovely because you were faithful in doing the small. The book is available because you typed out those words when you didn’t know what they’d become.”

I’m telling myself, “Soul, the answers you found came because you were willing not only to do the small, but to feel small.”

Ah, yes.

For the soul to feel small is for the soul to know how big God is. And when you scurry down a sidewalk toward a building, hoping no one sees you because the sign outside says “Counseling”, you feel about as small as an atom—and at that moment you wish you were, because then no one would see.

So, hey, sister-soul. That hard place you’re in, when you shed more tears than crack smiles? Did you know that if you walk through it faithfully, there’s a glory-something at the other side?

Those years you spend in a crowded house, wishing you could afford something larger, those things you drop to your knees over, the tunnel you can’t see light in, and the disaster that just occurred that takes your breath away………did you know that all you need to do is follow God with a great, big yes, and He simply does the rest.

You can rest, because He does the rest.

Just be faithful. Just do the small things. Just know that moments themselves lead us right to eternity, because God is a never-ending God Who doesn’t stop leading us into all things good, and He’ll lead you straight to the throne room when He sees you on your knees in the prayer room.

He’ll lead you from your small moments to an everlasting eternity with no end, where there are no moments in time.

He’ll lead you, soul. He’s faithful when you feel nothing else is.

He’s lovely when nothing seems beautiful.

He’s in charge when you can’t see Him leading.

The meaning of a season is that it’s a passing time. We may be in a season of no’s, but we must still follow God with a yes.

Whether you’re in a no season or a yes season, simply choose to be faithful.

Simply worship God.  

Home School, to Public, to Private

I cried the day I made my rounds to elementary, middle, and high schools to enroll my four children.

I was the home school mom who taught her babies how to read at young ages by creating words with wooden alphabet blocks. Often at two years old, I’d be on the floor placing blocks before my toddler and teaching him what it said. It was fun for both of us!

My oldest child started first grade at age four because she was brilliant. The next child was brilliant but didn’t like school, and it was work to get him through it each day. I was thrown into the mess of it all—but I loved it.

Then, my world changed from top to bottom. Out of necessity, I went to work. I knew I couldn’t work and do a good job with home school.  I needed to trust God and do what I needed to do–I would have to send my children to public school. 

Each morning as I put my little boy on the bus at 6:35 am (in NC that’s what happens!), I wondered what under heaven had happened to my home school table.

Each time my girls told me of another crummy boy with gross language and attitudes, I wondered why there wasn’t a better option for Christian moms who were unable to home school. 

But, I was in the thick of learning trust.

Mothers, when we’re in circumstances we can’t change, the best thing to do is put our chins up and trust that heaven is on our side as we wage war with hell. (Many of the pressures in public school are just that—pushes for teenagers to engage in things that could turn their world right over.)

Still, we have to trust. God is on our side as we faithfully choose Him no matter where our children go to school.

I was slowly learning to trust my Master more than any method. There, He showed Himself strong.

This year, Covid-19 is in all its glory as I watch with bated breath to see what public schools have to offer their students. It didn’t take long to get the email with plan B being the best for my children.

But plan B offers them only one day of face to face interaction, only one day in school, and the rest of the week at home doing online classes.

I was getting that pit-in-my-stomach feeling as I realized how difficult our year would be. My business is growing and I realized that many a morning would find four children alone navigating each other–and classes–while I was gone to work.

It didn’t seem like something I could ask of my children, but I had no better option. The drastic change of not being able to be there for my children 24/7 hit me even harder, but I tried to trust what God was continually teaching me over the past few years as a single mother. I had to trust that He would fill in the gaps and we’d all learn things during a difficult school year.

I had to trust my Master more than my method. Only in this way would I keep peace and be able to offer my children the best of mothering under the circumstances we were in.

Still, my heart was fearful and I sunk into weariness, rather waiting for a school year disaster.

Then, as I sat under a sermon at our new church (I’m so grateful for Joy Church), God spoke to me. “Sara, trust Me for good things for your children.”

Realizing my  state of distrust and fear, I said yes to God. I would choose to trust Him before I saw how things would play out. I would trust Him to do what I could not do. I would trust Him to show Himself to my children.

A few nights later I had a dream so vivid that I woke up, jolted into a deep awareness that I had to do something. A few hours later I knew I needed to do my best to get my children into private school where they could be mentored and taught each day even when I was at work.

Sometimes you can’t move until God lets you know that you know that you know that you heard Him speak.

It felt crazy, but I began phone calls immediately. My heart was filled with peace and assurance that I was in line with God’s heart. True to His nature, God worked everything out from paper work to finances to uniforms (yes, they have to wear uniforms, haha), and my four beautiful children are now enrolled in a private academy five days a week.

What’s more, my Junior can take college classes to get a jump start on her associates degree. Not only that, transportation to and from college is free.

My eighth grader gets to do Cross Country and make new friends on the team. This same child also had an unexpected—and amazing—counselor suddenly come on the scene.

My ninth grader gets to do the same curriculum he had just told me he’d rather do and would do so much better at than online school.

My little boy gets to attend the same school his little fishing buddies attend.

And this mama is filled with faith in a good God Who always shows up in many ways  when we’re facing things we didn’t expect.

I trust my Master more than any method. I trust Him when the method seems faulty but is the only way in sight. And when the method seems better, I still want to trust Him most. 

I will probably never home school again, and next year may have them back in public school. But from home school, to public school, to private school, and who knows what next year, I’m learning to lean into Jesus more than I lean into anything else.

Where you send your child is not as important as the spirit you show your child in your daily life with him. If you insist on home school when circumstances are not right for it, you may do more damage than if you trust God and send him to public school.

May each of us mothers trust Him fully whether our circumstances are difficult or easy. And may all of us know Grace that is truly greater than the sins of the whole world.

He’s looking over the earth to see whose heart is with Him so He can show Himself strong. 

May we posture ourselves in position for His blessing (whatever that looks like), and receive His word gratefully. 

From my heart to yours,

Sara

“Be” Before You “Do”

The dear girl sits at my kitchen table, and her lower lip trembles.

She’s letting it all out, this frustration of performance for many years in order to gain or keep approval and love—and how it didn’t work, and she got less than she deserved.

The tears won’t stop, and they pour hot and long. And I say it as firmly to her as I’ve said it to myself, “You are not loved because you dress well, accomplish a lot, or because you love your kids. You can just be who you are—and be valued, treasured, and worth a lot.”

She sits, silent, absorbing the words. For someone who’s worked her entire life—worked for God, parents, husband, and kids—with little thought or focus on her own ease—these words are a gold mine.

She’s not a selfish person; she’s a giver. And she needs to hear it—her worth is not based on what she does or how little mistakes she can make.

Mothers, when you raise your kids with criticism for each little failure you have a recipe for a hard working performer who may crash after many years of striving.

Raise your children in an atmosphere of emotional safety and unconditional love.

Our value is based on the Son of God and His thoughts of us. It is based on the fact that we were created in His image and He wanted us. Hear this—you can work your entire life to gain approval without ever knowing how much you were approved before you ever did a thing.

Outward actions do matter, but they must be a fruit of the heart being in an approved place with God rather than the striving of a heart trying to get to an approved place with God and man.

At birth, when you laid on your mama’s tummy with wet, sticky skin, do you think you were less loved and approved of? You had done nothing, but taken a lot—and you were loved and adored as much as you will probably ever be. You were sticky, icky, squalling, and couldn’t even smile.

How then, soul, do you think that, many years later, you have to perform for love? That you need to prove yourself needless and perfect? That you crash when others see faults in you?

You were a human being long before you were a human doer.

When we know how much we’re already loved by God, we enter rest. In this rest, we show love best to those around us. We want to shed the sweat pants, get up, and serve others. We truly desire to give, and give well. We sacrifice.

All of it becomes a circle of love rather than a striving for love. Circles go round and round with no end of exhaustion, because you receive love as you give out love.

If your lips are trembling today, remember who you were when you were born, and how much you were loved and adored by God—and most likely, by everyone in the room who laid eyes on your wet, sticky, helpless little body.

You are the same human being today, and have the same value today. Jesus Christ died for YOU.

Remember to be in a state of love before you try to give out love. If we can learn this ourselves and teach it to our children, we will have accomplished much.

Three Steps to Forgiveness

I had asked the question a million times, “What is forgiveness?” 

Then, I’d asked another question, “Is it okay to be angry?”

My circumstances forced me out of the usual “don’t ever be angry” stance I tried to live by. Suddenly, life was so raw that I took a good look at Jesus’ feelings when He tipped over money tables and ordered the vendors out of His temple. (Matthew 21:12-13)

I pondered the fact that Jesus called mercy and truth to meet up, and righteousness and peace to unite. He wasn’t asking for mercy and peace only, but wanted it to unite with equal doses of righteousness and truth.

Seeing God’s mercy as it really is allows for nothing else. God is not only mercy; He is also truth. In fact, truth is merciful and mercy is truthful. In Christ, they cannot be separated. 

God’s incredible mercy doesn’t blithely pass over murder, rape, abuse, or any other wrong we see in this world. And in all honesty, those who say “don’t judge” the most are often those who ask for judgement most when an offense happens to them. 

God’s love doesn’t accept all things; it changes all things

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There are certain things love just doesn’t do. Those who are full of true love speak out against things that don’t line up with love.

The mantra “don’t judge and accept everyone” is very quickly used by quilty parties to project their own quilt onto those who dare speak up against wrong. This is such a far cry from what Jesus meant when He asked us not to judge each other that there is no comparison between the two.

Divine Love cannot “accept and not judge” things that hurt and harm the people He loved and died for. Love can only accept things that line up to the heart of God.

God is love and He gets to interpret the meaning of it.

I’ll never forget the day I was driving in my car while my little boy asked a million questions on life and God, when it suddenly all came together in my heart.

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Forgiveness meant seeing God’s heart for the offender. In my situation, it also meant not being in denial, but saying yes when two sets of investigators asked to talk.

Then, it meant releasing the offender into the hands of God and those in charge while I walked free, having given it over after doing my part.

I’d met plenty of women who interpreted forgiveness as denial. After many years of pushing things to some back corner of their mind, they were still crying and trying to “forgive”.

I’d also met women who couldn’t stop talking about what happened to them and seemed bent on bringing justice while the offense was strewn around like some candy dangling in everyone’s eyes.

I wanted neither. How could mercy and truth meet up like Jesus talked about?

Sisters, the truth sets us free. The truth of everything, all the time, in all situations leads us to God’s solution for everything, all the time, in all circumstances.

Embracing the truth of hard things allows us to move from the hard into better things.

How can you find internal release from something you haven’t owned up to or dealt with? Denial cages your soul while truth brings you to freedom. Trust me, I know.

God’s remedy for women is never silent, voiceless suffering. It is always truth, help, and solutions.

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My soul found an incredible release from my situation as I placed the outcome of all things into the hand of a God who cared for me and my children more than I can comprehend. I watched Him move, and hear me carefully on this—because I had done my part, I was able to let it go in complete trust.

When our soul finds absolute rest in the outcome of our circumstance, we know forgiveness has found its place.

Forgiveness is not denial; it is rest.

Forgiveness doesn’t accept all things; it leads us to release all things.

Forgiveness doesn’t mean shutting up when you need to speak up; it does mean speaking with grace and truth regardless of your circumstance.

In short, forgiveness is internally breaking free from your situation after you’ve walked through it, honestly dealt with it, then have put it behind you and moved on to better things. 

Rather than become bitter, you become better. 

You can think of the circumstance without being taken over by it. You can release both the offender and the offense to God while you reach out to good people, good things, and trust God to meet your needs as you put Him first in your life.

You are defined not by what happened to you, but by what you make of it.

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Whatever you don’t let go of still holds you captive. But, whatever thing someone meant to hurt you with is undone when you release it and learn from it, instead. As Corrie Ten Boom says, “There is no pit so deep where God’s love isn’t deeper.

Forgiveness is a gift to yourself and an act of worship to God.

Fly free!

Moms and Mornings

It’s morning, and the day begins quietly except for the knock, knock, knock on my office door.

I’ve been hiding in here with a cup of coffee, my Bible, and Jesus. Because life is so full of late that I’ve been leaving little margins on my paper while I clutter the entire page of each day with scribbles those around me can’t read clearly.

This morning, the knock is persistent.

Yes, son?”

I’m so hungry. Can I make some breakfast?”

He’s too young to cook so I ask him to wait, but give him a snack. And I get lost in my musings the next second.

Knock, knock, knock—again.

May I have peanut butter on my apple?”

The day is off. Already my mind is swarming with what needs to be done and what will happen whether or not anything gets done. I will load the car with kids and take them swimming, then return in time to host a houseful of guests. This morning I choose between laundry, cooking, and cleaning—perhaps all three?

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The kids will have a list with chores to accomplish before the fun begins, and I will be buzzing about like some bee that’s just been mortally wounded, trying to get the house ready and food prepared.

And then, it will hit me. I did this yesterday, and the day before, and the day before that. I did this last year, and the year before, and the year before that.

The floor never stays clean, and the garage fills with more recycle garbage in a few weeks. No one really knows how hard I worked and no one really cares that I kept the yard spotless.

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What they remember, and what I will remember in years to come, are things of the heart. I’ll say, “Remember the year we learned to spend more time together?” Or, “Remember the year we all learned to apologize?”

Remember the summer we sat in the living room talking about life, the importance of a relationship with Jesus, and how to have one?”

Mothers and wives, the rush of today will never fill our quest for the meaning of tomorrow.

The moments we give to God help bring us to the eternity we get to spend with God.

Moments with God don’t have to be alone, quiet, with stevia sweetened coffee and a Bible. Moments with God can be all moments in the day.

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Because when God is first, the page of your day won’t merely be filled with pursuits for present gratification. When you walk with God, you are quick to deny your small desires for a greater good. You look ahead, and you look behind, and you determine how today will make your goals for tomorrow become reality.

When you’re sitting in that chair with a greying head, pondering life and how you lived it, you won’t be sorry you paused the rush to grab a Bible and show your kids the way.

You’ll be truly glad you stewarded the gifts God gave you, rather than rushed through life ignoring His hand pressing your heart to be, do, and dare.

When you hear of your kids’ grown-up lives, you’ll be glad you took time for them—because now, you would love them to take time for you.

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And as you sit, with the presence of Christ satisfying even your later years, you’ll be so glad you allowed Him to remove the clutter from your page, align the words correctly, and leave a clear margin at the side.

Let little boys knock on your door repeatedly for peanut butter, and let your brain begin to swirl with a hundred demands on your day. Then, take a deep breath and remember the most important things you will remember in the years ahead.

Give your moments to eternity, for in a short time, eternity will have overtaken even the comprehension of this moment in time.

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Live well, for in a short blip, when time as it is, ends, you will know the meaning of being fully alive. Jesus wants that life to permeate us now and only to continue, then.

Let eternity begin in your heart today—then, bring eternity to the hearts of all those around you.

Loved or Liked?

Are you just chilling at home?” she asked.

There’s a lot I need to do today, but I’m still in bed,” I responded truthfully even though I knew she was already headed out the door for a long day’s work.

My mom can know everything about me and think nothing less of me, for some odd reason. She’s one of my best friends and I guess we both love and like each other. 

Covid-19 is still on the rise while the morale of many is on the low. I’ve written pages of inspiration, sorted my little boy’s legos, almost completely caught up on paper work, and gotten my children started with on-line school. I’m working out with my girls for the first time in awhile………….Next?

You can only laugh for so long over quarantine comedy until you feel like you may need a quarantine dirge. I’ve laughed so hard for so long over one single video that my daughter looked at me yesterday and said, “Mom, you need a social life again.”

It’s Monday morning—and nothing has changed. What’s more, rain is pouring down on the roof while the sun has disappeared along with all semblance of normalcy.

I’m not sure what normal is anymore. For the last two years, my life has twisted, turned, tipped, and tobbled over in the most hell-ish fashion and it’s taken every ounce of heavenly grace to make it through to the other side.

My daughter looks at me. “Mom, it’s so weird that coronvirus hit right when so many other things in our lives are happening.”

I agree. It’s so, so weird. How much more could possibly happen in two years?

I decide to make the most of today by lighting candles, baking a french toast casserole for breakfast, and turning on my favorite worship music while I kneel in front of the screen with my Bible.

My daughter joins me and I stroke her head while the words continue over, over, and over.

By Your Spirit I will rise from the ashes of defeat.

The resurrected King is resurrecting me.

In your name I come alive to declare your victory;

The resurrected King is resurrecting me.” (Elevation)

Truth be told, God is as good today as he was yesterday. I stare at mountains rolling by on the screen and realize this: God is every bit as much with me here as he was when I’d hike upward five miles and spend hours gazing at immovable majesty.

Or when I slept at the top and woke to a shimmering lake nestled in those snowy peaks. Crazy, wild beauty.

Mountains are steady.

They’re always there.

They carry strength incomprehensible to our small human beings.  

I love mountains and haven’t found them close enough to my new home to get to, yet. But God is as real, strong, and steady in my housing development as He is on the mountain side.

I just need to tap into HIM.

Sometimes we look for external indicators of internal reality, when God is saying “I am always here.”

It doesn’t take mountains, people, or things to create the love of God. Love always is, no matter what, because God always IS.

We don’t really create love, joy, peace—God has already created it and we merely maintain it or disrupt it. God is a steady, never ending, faithful presence—always available, always there, always full of grace and truth.

We look for outward expressions of love when there’s an eternal Lover of our souls Who far exceeds any human love we could have. For heaven’s sake, we even seek love in the form of media ‘likes’.

A thousand people hitting ‘like’ on your Instagram page can’t compare to one God scribing eternal LOVE all over your life, every day, no matter what.

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Photo by Kerde Severin on Pexels.com

During this time He says to you, to me: “Behold, I have graven you on the palms of my hands; your walls are continually before me.” (Isaiah 49:16, ESV)

He also says in 2 Chronicles 16:9 “For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him.” (ESV)

You may be rushing to work this morning—or, like me, savoring this time when you can slowly drink coffee and listen to worship music with your child. Either way, no matter what, remember that Jesus Christ is unchanging—and He’s watching out for you with strong support and love deeper than you love your own children.

Cheers!

Pass it On

I walked into her small warehouse and looked over the shelves.

Impressed with this young mom who ran her own business besides running a house smoothly, I studied the bottles to see what was inside. All of it was for healing purposes.

It’s awesome to run into a business that sells only healing products when many stores are loaded with cigarettes, preservatives, and sugar.

Here,” she says, “Take these to your sister.” She pulls open a small drawer and empties the contents into a bag.

I look at the label. “Healing Salve,” it says.

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A few of the best people in my life! 

My sister smiles. “She says she will never change the recipe because God gave it to her.”

I’m throwing a few of those freebies into my own suitcase. I’ll rub them onto aching muscles and pray love and healing into aching hearts.

Truth is, I’ve been praying a lot on what to do or say (or not do or say) in a certain circumstance. I’ve asked counsel, and some of it varies. Always, I come back to the realization that God’s peace is powerful and only He can lead me right.

A book may give advice, but it is cut for your particular circumstance?

A friend may speak into your life, but does she know all the ins and outs—and if she did, would she still say what she says?

A verse may speak to you—but is your application of it God’s heart for you?

Wounded sister, struggling to fight your battle and win—listen hard to the Lord. He may direct you to do what is crazy. Or, he may ask you to try something you’ve never done before. 

Walk closely to Jesus. He breathes life into the impossible and speaks promise to lies.

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Choose where to give your energy! 

He knows each heart and knows where each difficulty began—sometimes, long before symptoms rose.

He goes deep. He goes carefully. He goes lovingly.

He offers a hand, but you need to hold it.

He promises wisdom, but you need to receive it and apply it.

If you do, you can rest. No matter how difficult or grueling the climb, God walks beside you and holds your hand, promising to never, ever leave you alone.

His recipe mixes all ingredients of your life into one powerful, healing salve. And if you allow him, he will show you what to mix up for those around you.

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Make your family most important! 

Because all God’s daughters are called to bring life, healing, grace, and blessing. This is what your Father does, and this is what He gives you to pass along. In the areas where you see you haven’t done so, simply turn your heart and receive his grace all over again.

He won’t change his recipe for healing salve. Apply it gratefully.