His Word, Kids/Parenting, Link-Ups

Messengers

A messenger can be found in many places, in many spaces. Just yesterday, I had two very special messengers.

The first messenger came to me when I was feeling discouraged about where I am in my bible reading plan, because I’m behind. Not to mention the fact that I was not feeling an overwhelming connection to the text.

And then, out of the blue, one of my favorite people sent me a message with these words:
“1 Kings 18:30b, ‘And he repaired the altar of the Lord that was broken down.’
Rightly dividing the Word of truth faithfully is like Elijah’s careful and meticulous preparations on the altar. Obedience and faith came before the fire.”
WOW! Talk about right. on. time. I needed this message from this messenger. I needed to hear that the important thing is not the timing of my bible reading, but the fact that I am faithfully in His Word. That I am reading and dissecting and trying to grasp the truth of His word. That I’m trying to not be just a hearer, but also a do-er of His Word.
This, yes this obedience of being in His Word daily. The faith that His Word does not return void. Yes, these come before the fire. These come before the miracles.
The second messenger was found in a song on the radio and the scripture on my wall. I was enjoying the company of a special guest in my home last night.
While we were sitting there, Jeremy Camp came on the radio. He was singing about walking by faith. At that point, I turned to my wall where the words of 2 Corinthians 5:7 are emblazoned. These words that were placed with careful consideration before I even had the hopes of owning my home…my little slice of heaven here on earth. These words that remind me that this home is my blessing. It has MY name on it. And if it’s my blessing, no one can take it from me.
At that moment, I had to smile. I had to smile knowing that God, in His infinite wisdom, gives us just what we need when we need it. The good and the bad. And I knew, while enjoying my guest’s company, that one day, God will give me what I need, right when I’m ready for it and not a moment too soon. I need only to walk by faith. And keep rightly dividing His Word of truth. Faithfully.
His Word, Kids/Parenting, Random

Hands…

Hands

I once read that things are different in the hands of different people.

For example, a paintbrush is much different when in the hands of Monet versus a child.

A basketball is much different in the hands of Michael Jordan than those of Babe Ruth.

A piano sounds much different when played by the hands of Mozart than when played by the hands of a first year piano student.

Clay turns out to be something much more inspired when molded by Leonardo da Vinci than when turned and shaped by a college student in an elective course.

One of the best examples I can think of to illustrate this is with the two fish and the five loaves of bread.

In Luke 9, there was a crowd of people surrounding Jesus and His disciples waiting and yearning to be taught. But, as Jesus repeatedly taught us, we need to meet people where they are before attempting to minister the Word of God to them.

This crowd was hungry, so Jesus told His disciples, “You give them something to eat.”

They replied, “We only have five loaves of bread and two fish-unless we go and buy food for all this crowd.”

If you are familiar with the story, you know that Jesus takes the bread and the fish, and, “looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke them.”

The story further goes on to tell us that everyone ate to their satisfaction and there was still plenty that was left over.

Two fish and five loaves of bread go much further when in the hands of Jesus than when in the hands of His disciples.

When I apply this to my life, I realize that my circumstances, my children, my blessings, my challenges are all different in my hands than in the hands of others. While I may long for an easier road, or different blessings, I realize that God can’t accomplish what He wants to in me and through me without giving me what is in my hands.

Only I can prepare my children for the life God has for them; no other mother could do that. Only I can share with others my struggles as a single parent and give them hope that they, too, will come out on the other side – and stronger for it.

Only my words will breathe life into an experience I’ve lived; one that will deeply move and touch the heart of another.

So, friends, on this day, instead of looking at your situation and wondering why this is the hand that God has dealt you, thank Him that He chose you for this great work. Work that only you and your hands can accomplish for His greater purpose.

His Word, Kids/Parenting, Link-Ups

Close…

Sometimes I wonder if we’re close enough. Not as in geographically. Or even in the same house.

But are we close enough that it’s going to mean something when they get older. When they want to talk about things that really matter.

Do they genuinely see me as a refuge? As a safe haven? As someone who really has their back? Are we that kind of close?

I know at some point, they will turn to their peers before they turn to me. But, do we have that close-knit bond that will allow them to understand that, despite what predicament they get into with or without their friends, they can call home? They can call their Momma…and I will listen or help.

I want to be close enough to them that when they get older and they get into a wrong relationship, they can call me and I’ll listen without judgment or even negative non-verbal communication.

Will they know that I just have their best interests at heart?

Are we close enough for them to know that they can rely on me to be there when their friends decide to drink and drive and they aren’t comfortable getting into the car with them?

Are we close enough for them to know that they can rely on me to be there when they decide to drink and NOT drive and they need a ride home?

Am I laying the foundation, daily, that is required for us to be this kind of close?

Am I putting in the hard work, the dedication, the time necessary to make this kind of close a reality?

Am I praying the hard prayers that seem to go out into the abyss, only to be answered many days, weeks, months, and years later?

His Word, Kids/Parenting

Mother’s Day — with a Twist

I wrote this post two years ago and thought it would be fitting to share it today…

I’d like to do something a little different on Mother’s Day this year. I want to take some time to focus on the little people who gave me the much revered and respected title of “Mother.”

So today, this post is for them. This is my list of why I love being  mother to each of them.

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For Emma, my girl, my first born, the one who radically changed my life in the most amazing way…here are some of the reasons I love being your mother:

  1.  your heart
  2. your singing
  3. your love for others
  4. when you ride on the lawn mower with me
  5. your love and compassion for animals
  6. the way you twirl — in any new dress, when you put on a ‘cape’
  7. how you always know just when I need a hug
  8. how you snuggle
  9. your perseverance
  10. how you always look for the good in others
  11. your forgiving nature
  12. the way you hold me accountable
  13. your tenderness with sick or elderly people — it takes a very special person to have this
  14. the time you skipped cheerleading practice (which you LOVED) to stay home with me because I was not feeling well
  15. your imagination
  16. watching you play anything and everything
  17. your genuine laugh
  18. your desire to do the right thing — at all cost
  19. when we just sit or lay and talk — about whatever is on our minds

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For Elijah, my ‘baby’ and my son, the one who constantly challenges (in a good way) my patience…here are some of the reasons I love being your mother:

  1. your smile
  2. your heart
  3. your sense of humor — this has been a saving grace many days in our home!
  4. your appetite
  5. the way you constantly encourage others
  6. how you’re such a good friend
  7. how you always find things for me — you’re my ‘finder’ — and you find things I didn’t even know were lost!
  8. when you call me ‘Momma Jo’ — and the fact that I have NO idea where that came from, but it’s your special name for me
  9. how you can always make me laugh
  10. how you always look for the good in others
  11. your forgiving nature
  12. your passion for the things you love
  13. the way you notice every new and little thing about me — whether it’s new earrings, freshly painted toenails/fingernails — you’re a notice, and that’s a fantastic thing!
  14. watching you play anything and everything
  15. your imagination
  16. how you know every single character on Skylanders and what element they are and what they say when you put them on the portal (see #12)
  17. your laid back style
  18. your charisma
  19. our late night ‘pillow-talks’ where I get to hear all about your day

Some of the items are on both lists, but those are the things I’m super grateful for in both of my kids.

Some days, I’m not gonna lie, I really have to hunt for something to like about my kids…because, like all kids, they test me, they push me, they challenge me and my authority.

But if I’m truly honest with myself, my kids bring much joy to my life and have made me a better person.

I think that’s the thing about motherhood — it’s truly a calling. And it can change you in amazing ways, but only if you let it.

Mothers, I hope you all have a blessed day.

His Word, Series

Do You Control Your Thoughts? Or Do Your Thoughts Control You?

Romans 8:6 (NLT) So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace. 

So many Thoughts

“Watch your thoughts; they become words.

Watch your words; they become actions.

Watch your action; they become habits.

Watch your habits; they become your character.

Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.”    ~Chinese philosopher, Lao-Tze~

Recently, in Jesus Calling by Sarah Young, I read her opening sentence: “Let me control your mind.”

She goes on to say, “The mind is the most restless, unruly part of mankind.”

Why are our minds so hard to give up to Christ?

Why is it such a challenge to give our thoughts to Him, first and foremost?

As I peruse my bookshelf, I read titles like, “You’re Already Amazing,” “The Power of a Positive Mom,” “Love Idol,” “Hello Beauty-full,” “You’re Loved No Matter What,” “What Happens When Women Say Yes to God.”

All of these titles remind me that our thought life is of the utmost importance to God. He cares not only for our external well-being, but more importantly, our internal selves.

He wants us to remember how much we are loved by Him. How much He cares for us. That He has numbered the very hairs on our heads.

That we are princesses in His eyes.

I’m preaching to myself, here folks.

These are things that I constantly struggle with. Despite knowing in my head that I’m cherished, chosen, celebrated, and created by Him. I still forget…my short-term memory loss kicks in and I think that I’m just another nobody.

I’ve been around people who are clearly giving their thought and spiritual lives to Him. They’re the ones who are at peace and calm and relaxed no matter what their external environment presents them.

Yes, I’m sure they have moments where they fall off the wagon and question and doubt God, but for the most part, they are walking hand-in-hand with Him.

I’ve also experienced times in which I’ve been the calm, relaxed, peaceful person. However, it seems lately that I’ve been the one wrecked with fear and anxiety.

How have I been managing it, you ask? Well, unfortunately, I’ve been behaving like an immature disciple. I’ve been more of a fan of Jesus than a follower.

See, a fan of Jesus is someone who’s only in it for the good that Jesus can give. A follower or a disciple has more of the attitude of Job from the Old Testament. In Job 2:10 we read his response to his wife who wants him to curse God for the troubles that have befallen them, “He replied, “You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?”

Why should I expect to receive only good from God? Especially when Jesus tells us in John, chapter 16 that, “Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”

He tells us right there…in red letters…that we WILL have trouble. We will have trials and sorrows. But we are to be encouraged because He has overcome the world.

There are battles still waging, but the war has been won.

If I already know who wins the war, why am I fretting? What do I have to be anxious about?

The astoundingly simple answer is: NOTHING.

But alas, being human in my imperfections, I still worry. But my worry comes more from a place of concern that God’s not handling things MY way, rather than seriously wondering if God will take care of me and always be there for me.

Because, in my heart of hearts, I know He is there. He has always been there. He will always be there.

Because I am His. And He loves me. Completely. Unconditionally. Perfectly.

And when I give Him complete control of my thought life, He will never allow me to forget this.