Thursday, April 2, 2020

God is Faithful

God is faithful.

In the book of 1 Samuel, Samuel sets up an Ebeneezer stone, a reminder stone meaning “Till now the Lord has helped us” (1 Samuel 7:12). I have my own Ebenezer stones, things that help me to remember that the Lord has been with me and he is faithful. I can look back on these situations and experiences and clearly see God’s faithfulness.

What about you? What are some of your Ebenezer stones?

We don’t always see God at work in something as it is happening. Instead we can look back to times that prove his promise that he will never leave us nor forsake us. He is eternally faithful.
One of my favorite verses comes from the book of Lamentations (3:22-23). This truth has been a comfort to me so many times when I’ve felt overwhelmed, confused, alone, hurt, full of sorrow, anxious, or angry.

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning, great is your faithfulness.

When the storms rage in our lives, he blankets us in peace. When we feel empty in our loneliness, he reminds us he is always with us. When we feel consumed by struggles and difficult situations, we don’t have to fear or worry because he is our refuge and strength. When the world feels bleak, the sun still rises every morning to remind us that he is always at work and he is faithful.

I encourage you to take it all to the Lord. Anything that is holding you hostage or making you feel defeated, you can lay it at his feet. He promises that “he will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart” (Psalm 91:4).

God is faithful.

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Stop Settling for Counterfeit Love

While pregnant with my second child, I had to stop wearing my engagement ring and wedding band because my fingers were too swollen.  I felt bad not wearing it, but I also didn’t want to spend a bunch of money to replace the ones that were just too small. After all, I was going to be back in the originals after I had that baby, right? (haha) 

Finally, it just felt too weird not wearing a ring, so my husband got online and ordered a shiny, new, temporary ring. The cost?  $4.00 shipped. 

After about seven years of wearing that ring (yes, you read that years), it lost one of its fake diamonds, so we bought a replacement. The cost was around $5.00. Inflation, I guess.

My current counterfeit ring and its cheap predecessor have been the symbol of my marriage for the last eight years. When people look at it, they assume it’s a ring of real diamonds. It sparkles and shines. It's beautiful in its simplicity. 

But it is an impostor for the real thing.

Many of the lies we believe about ourselves, the lies the world tells, and the things we use to fill our days and our hearts are cheap imitations for the love that only God can provide. The world's love is fleeting, it is fake, it is self-serving, and it is imperfect. Why do we keep trying to fill ourselves with this empty love? We can try all we want to replace His perfect love with counterfeits, but we will keep thirsting for what only the Living Water can quench. 

Let’s reflect on some truths about His perfect love.

Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations. 

 But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ - by grace you have been saved.

The enemy tells us we have to work for love.  He tells us we have to love ourselves more, push our own agendas, or focus on our external beauty rather than our spiritual health.  But God loved us while we were still sinners. 

You matter.  

You have dignity because you are an image bearer of God. 

There is nothing you have to work for or prove; you just have to follow Him.

Today we need to accept that He is sovereign and He loves us. His love is perfect and unchanging. We have to take care of each other and we have to speak truth to ourselves and into the lives of the women around us. 

Stop settling for counterfeit love and run to the One who loves perfectly. 

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

If Life is Feeling Too Busy, Here are 6 Ways to Practice Self-Care.

If you came here looking for aromatherapy and bubble baths, you’re in the wrong place.

Practicing self-care is more than just pampering.  It’s learning to take control of situations, being more organized to keep life more calm, and realizing it might be time to ask for help.

This time last year, I felt like I was just surviving.  Working in an emotionally taxing job, keeping up with my duties as a wife and mom, and having additional commitments in various ministries was starting to wear me down.


“Wear me down” is too soft of a description. If I’m honest, a better way to describe my life is that I was feeling run over. By a truck. A really, really big truck.

I had to figure out a way to get myself together before the candles I was burning at both ends burned me along with them.

Here are some of the ways I learned to stay sane.

1. Stop the mess before it completely takes over

In college, I learned this really interesting concept called entropy that has stuck with me because I  see it everywhere.  Entropy is the idea that everything will gradually decline from order to disorder. I clean off the island and later that day, someone has put a small pile of homework papers.  It’s okay though, that’ll be easy to clean up later, right?  Then someone puts the mail there and a plate and then an empty box of cereal and before I know it, I can’t even see the surface anymore.  It's chaos. That’s entropy, my friends.

Have you ever heard the saying about eating an elephant?

How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.  

Or more specifically, a little bit every day.  If my family spends 10 minutes a day picking up before bed, we can combat the mess that is sure to multiply if it is ignored. Then, when those surfaces are clean, there are no random socks in the floor, and the dishes are in the dishwasher and not in the sink/on the counter/on the island, and I can relax in my chair and read a book. 

What’s one thing you can do every day to keep a mess from getting out of control?

2. Make it a team effort

I admit I like certain things done in a certain way. Maybe you can relate. The problem with wanting to control the situation is that I try to do everything myself, which in turn makes me feel overwhelmed. That’s not good self-care.

It’s time to take some of that load and responsibility and pass it around to the other people living under your roof.  Assign chores, tasks, responsibilities, jobs, or whatever you want to call them.  Hey, they help make those messes, the least they can do is help clean them up.

How can you make this work at your house?

3. Prep in advance

Here’s a taste of what life used to sound like every morning before school.

“Mom, I can’t find any clean underwear.”

“It’s in your drawer.”

“No it’s not!”

“Yes, it is. *sigh* I’m coming in there.”

You get the picture. Basically, things existed in my house, but no one could ever find them. These conversations drove me crazy!

This past summer, I knew I wanted the new school year to go differently so I came up with a plan. Although it hasn’t been perfect, it’s been really great at making mornings less chaotic.

Every Sunday after church, I sit in front of the television and fold all the laundry.  I start a load of one kid’s, then the other kid’s, then the parent laundry, followed by towels and bedding. I watch television which allows me to relax while I do this mindless task.  

As I fold, I make outfit piles for each kid, including underwear and socks, and put each outfit in a hanging cubby hole in each kid’s closet. They choose an outfit from the cubby, in no particular order, every morning before school. 

Let me tell you, it has made my mornings smoother. It is so nice to get in my car and head to work not feeling frazzled and stressed. Calmer mornings are worth the marathon laundry/television sessions on Sunday afternoon.

What is one way you can prepare to eliminate some of the stress in your life?

4. Have a day of rest

Saturday is usually the calmest day of my week.  I do my best on this day to make sure I’m recharging my batteries. I sleep in, enjoy a cup of coffee or two (or three), and enjoy a good book. 

If I do have to leave the house, I spend a little extra time taking care of myself.  This is when I take a long, relaxing shower, do a body scrub, and deep condition my hair.  Saturday is a day of rest, but it’s also a day of pampering. A good portion of my life is spent taking care of others, so it’s important for me to take a day of rest because it keeps me more physically and mentally healthy.

Do you make time for rest?

5. Be healthier

I’m at the age where my back hurts for no reason and my ankle knows when rain is coming. 

I’ve come to terms with the fact I’m getting older and my gray hair can prove it. My health needs to be a priority. I take multivitamins, pre and probiotics, and elderberry gummies. I wear a watch that tracks my steps and I try to be good about drinking water.  I also try to get in some exercise.  

Recently my husband and I found a punching bag on sale at the sporting goods store so we bought it and put it in the basement. I have pink boxing gloves and I built the perfect playlist for getting my frustrations out/getting exercise. It’s awesome.

What can you do to create a healthier lifestyle?

6. Do it anyway

I love to stay up late and read. It’s my favorite. Do you know what’s not my favorite? Feeling terrible the next day because I stayed up late to read. I don’t want to go to bed at a decent time, but I do it anyway. 

Sometimes I want to veg out in front of the television and not have to think about anything, but I also need to spend time with the Lord and read my bible.  I want to do nothing, but tending to my relationship with God is the better choice.  I never regret that time.

I don’t always want to eat healthy, but I do it anyway.

I don’t always want to get up a little earlier to make the mornings smoother, but I do it anyway.

Sometimes, I don’t want to give up my Saturday night to hang out with friends, but I do it anyway.

Self-care isn’t always saying no to things. Often taking care of yourself means saying yes to things that are good for you. Even if you don’t always feel like doing it, do it anyway.

What is something good for you that you should start doing?

Taking care of yourself is essential because when you take care of yourself, you can be a better friend, worker, and family member, and you can be better at loving those around you.

What is one change you can make today to practice self-care?

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

The Joy of the Lord is my Strength

This morning, as I allowed myself to be still during our school’s customary moment of silence, a song from my childhood came crashing in. 

The joy of the Lord is my strength.

If you’re familiar with that song, you know it's the same line over and over.  It’s easy to sing and it’s one of those songs that embeds itself deep into a child’s heart.  Younger me didn’t necessarily understand its meaning, but it brought me comfort nonetheless. 

Some mornings I wake up with a song in my head, a gift from God whose mercies are new every morning.  There’s just something about a song in my mind that flows to my heart and allows me to meditate on His goodness first thing in the morning.

“Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and joy are in his dwelling place.” 1 Chronicles 16:27

Other mornings I wake up with no song.  Only my thoughts.

I’m so tired. How many days until I can sleep in?

Lord, I haven’t even rolled out of bed and already I’m dreading the day ahead.

How will I make it through what’s waiting for me at work today?

Help me, Lord.

My quiet time rolls around and I force myself to sit still and praise the one who gave me life and every good thing.  It’s this act of thankfulness that brings a song back to my heart. 

Every morning He seeks me out, but I have to tune in to Him.

The joy of the Lord is my strength.

True joy cannot be swayed by our circumstances, our possessions, our friendships, or all sorts of external things.  Joy comes from a deeper place. It’s a fruit of the Spirit.  It’s a gift in difficult times and refuge from the cares of life.  It’s light in the darkness. Joy satisfies the heart.

“You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forever more.” Psalm 16:11

If I’m being honest, sometimes it really hasn’t been my day, my week, my month, or even my year (thank you, Friends theme song). It’s easy to dwell on the bad and feel so disheartened.

The good news - no the GREAT news - is that joy is a product of the Holy Spirit working in us.  It is joy unspeakable and full of glory (1 Peter 1:8) that helps us through each day.  We know that trials will come, pain is inevitable, and brokenness is always present, but the words of Psalm 30:5 bring peace. Weeping may stay for the night, but joy comes in the morning.  Can I get a yes and amen?

Paul tells us in Romans 8:28 that God works everything for good. The good he is speaking of is our spiritual growth, our sanctification. It’s us becoming more Christ-like. When we abide in Him, our trials are still present, but they are bearable because joy and peace rule our hearts. Our trials are dwarfed by the power of our God. 

“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

In times that can be so stressful, so full of the enemy’s attacks, the joy of the Lord is our strength.  It allows us see the good in others, laugh in the midst of trials, smile through adversity, and trust that joy really does come in the morning.

The joy of the Lord is my strength.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Drifting Away in the Waves of Life

I stood in the sand and watched my two kids who were oblivious that the momentum of the waves had moved them so far away from me. They were laughing and jumping as the ocean pushed them farther down the shoreline.

Earlier that morning, our family chose an empty stretch of sand and set up chairs under the protection of beach umbrellas in various primary colors. It was our home base for the day. The kids ran to the shallow water to jump the waves as they rolled to the shore. I watched as the waves came in at an angle, the strength of the water pushing the two of them down the shoreline, away from me and away from our sandy home base.

The ocean can deceive its visitors into feeling secure in the shallow waters while it pulls them away from those who can watch out for them.

I walked down the beach until I finally reached my kids.  I called their names over the roar of the ocean, motioned for them to come to me, and showed them how far they had strayed. They never even knew they had moved. They were surprised to be so far from where they started, but I assured them I had never stopped watching them and knew where they were the whole time.  Then I pointed to the line of beach umbrellas and guided them back.

When Life Happens

Sometimes, the waves of life move us away from God. Work and family are stressful, or we get sick, or death comes like a thief to steal someone we love. We drift away in the waves of life, moving away from our home base, not realizing how far life has taken us. We look up and suddenly see how far we’ve gone.  We look around in desperation, in grief, or maybe in anger. We’ve lost our way without knowing, but then we see Him.

God has had His eye on us the entire time.

Psalm 89:9 tells us our God, who created the vast oceans and the crashing waves, is in control.

You rule the raging of the sea; when its waves rise, you still them.

Our God, who created you and me, knows the number of our days, and chose us before the foundation of the world, also knows what waves will come crashing in on us. He knows our hurt, our fear, our insecurity, our heartbreak, and our loss. When the waves of life threaten to overwhelm us, He says:

Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you… (Isaiah 43:1-2)

“Fear not,” He says, “I will be with you.” When you look up to find Him, He will be there.

His eyes have never left you.

When We Choose to Drift Away

Maybe we are having so much fun playing in the waves of life we don’t care where they take us.  We let the ocean pull us away from home and we purposefully play the prodigal running away from our Father. 

Don’t you know our loving Shepherd will leave the 99 to pursue the one who strayed?  To pursue me? To pursue you?

He never takes His eyes off us.

Come Back to the Living Water

Whether we are pulled away by the cares of life or allow ourselves to drift, we can become so consumed by the water we’re swimming in that we forget about the Living Water. The Savior of the World, the Living Water, never takes His eyes off you or me. He pursues us when we stray, and he points us back to home when we drift away. 

But whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life. (John 4:14)

Turn your eyes to Jesus, friend, because He never took his eyes off you.