Friday, December 11, 2015

Our Christmas Baby King

It is at this time every year that we celebrate the fact that Jesus came to earth as a baby. We spend time and money teaching our children about the baby in the manger, the stable, the animals, the shepherd, the wise men, and everything else that accompanies the Christmas story in the Bible. My children love to talk about the star in particular.

For those of you with kids that are a little bit older than mine, maybe you have added in the part about the cross. After all, the baby ultimately became a man who, ultimately, died on the cross for the sins of the world. That is the whole point of the baby in the manger after all.

As Christian adults, many of us have been celebrating the Christmas season for years and years. I'm not saying this happens to everyone or that it happens every year, but it is easy to miss the real reason for Christmas. Sure, we know it in our heads, but sometimes the real joy and peace of it all is pushed out of our hearts for whatever the reason. I mean, we all know that Christmas is a BUSY time of year. And, even if we don't want the busyness, we want to give our children as many good Christmas memories as we can. It is easy to forget to stop and think about what Christmas means to us as adults.

This year, I have been privileged to study the book of Revelation in Bible Study Fellowship. The detail in which I have been able to study this last book of the Bible is really neat. I have noticed that the verses are really sticking with me. Cool, but how does that relate to Christmas? Well, let's go back to the beginning of Jesus' life on earth.

First, what was Jesus as a baby like? We know this description well. Mary wrapped the little baby in swaddling clothes and placed Him in a manger filled with hay. Not necessarily your typical delivery scenario, even for those times, but definitely not a kingly birth.

What about Jesus, the man? Isaiah 53:2 describes him like this: "There was nothing beautiful or majestic about his appearance. nothing to attract us to him."  He was an average looking man. His godliness was unknown or unperceived by his own brothers and by the people of his own town.

His disciples knew the true Him and believed in Him. John, one of Jesus' main disciples, wrote Revelation. In Jesus' ministry, Peter, James and John seemed to be the three privileged disciples that got to experience a little bit extra of Jesus. John is referred to as "the disciple Jesus loved" in his own book. And, those three got to see Jesus transfigured on a mountain top (Matthew 17). Ok, so what I'm getting at here is that John knew Jesus well. He was loved deeply by Him and had even been allowed to see a little bit of Jesus-as-God revealed as he was transformed a little bit into His heavenly glory on that mountain.

These disciples saw Him as he died, too. The image of Jesus on the cross is one that most Christians can picture easily in their minds. It is, after all, the whole point of Christianity. To be saved, to be a Christian, or Christ-follower, one must believe in Jesus' work on the cross.

These descriptions of Jesus are the descriptions that I had been pondering all my life. At Christmas I would think of the little baby in the manger. At Easter, I would think of Jesus on the cross. In between times, I remembered the work Jesus accomplished during his ministry on earth, the actions and miracles he completed that revealed his character and his love and his message.

Now to Revelation. It was mind-blowing for this traditional Church girl, ya'll. John, writing Revelation, tells of a vision he had of Jesus. This was not Jesus the baby, Jesus the man, or Jesus on the cross. And remember, John knew Jesus. He knew him very well. This, my friends, was the real Jesus. The Son of God. The Jesus of Heaven, The one who created the earth and everything in it. The Jesus, our King.
"And standing in the middle of the lampstands was someone like the Son of Man. He was wearing a long robe with a gold sash across his chest. His head and his hair were white like wool, as white as snow. And his eyes were like flames of fire. His feet were like polished bronze refined in a furnace, and his voice thundered like mighty ocean waves. He held seven stars in his right hand, and a sharp two-edged sword came from his mouth. And his face was like the sun in all its brilliance" (Revelation 1:12-16).
This description is anything but ordinary or average! This picture of Jesus is a grab-your-attention and hold-your-gaze-forever kind of picture. Now, I could get into all of the symbolism here (thanks to BSF!) but that is not what I want us all to focus on. I want to focus on John's reaction to this Jesus.
"When I saw him, I fell at his feet as if I were dead" (Revelation 1:17).
That is what John, the disciple Jesus loved and knew, did when he saw this Jesus. The true Jesus. Can you imagine seeing this Jesus? We can relate to a baby in a manger. We can relate to an average looking man. Thanks to movies and paintings, we can even relate to a man on a cross.

But this Jesus, Jesus the King, can you even imagine? John couldn't. He fell down as if he were dead. He was completely overwhelmed by this Jesus of Heaven. This vision of Jesus was more than he could behold.

Friends, it is this picture of Jesus that I want us all to imagine and cling to this Christmas season. For I have found that when I picture this majestic, brilliant Jesus of Heaven, the true Son of God, it makes me love that little baby in a manger even more.  It makes me experience Christmas in a whole new way.

The sacrifice was huge. Jesus left a place that we cannot even begin to imagine. John could hardly describe it in words. It left a huge impression on him. It left a huge impression on me. Let it make a huge impression on you too.

Because of the picture of Jesus, the words Paul wrote in Philippians 2 take on a whole new weight. Picture the Revelation Jesus as you read these next verses.
"Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position as a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal's death on a cross" (Philippians 2:6-8). 
Jesus left the majesty of Heaven and abandoned all of the privileges of God to become our Savior. God sent Him, and He willingly came. What a love! What a Savior! What a Christmas Baby King!


Here's an awesome song that I just learned for church worship team. It totally goes along with this Jesus! "Savior of the World" by Ben Cantelone
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a9zEjO-7Gf8


Linking up with these great sites:#soulsurvival,  #intentionalTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #threewordWednesday, #livefreeThursday, #belovedbrews, #dancewithJesus, #fellowshipFriday, #graceandtruth, #coffeeforyourheart, #TellHisStory, #Reflect, #livefreeThursday, #thecozyreadingspot





Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Are You Flourishing?

I'm blessed to be the MOPS (Mothers Of Preschoolers) coordinator for my community. Each year, we have a theme to focus our meetings around.This year, our theme is a Fierce Flourishing. MOPS encourages us to notice goodness, celebrate lavishly, and embrace rest. Great concept for this year.  I’m really enjoying it!
            Who doesn’t want to flourish?  I think we all do. We all want to have life to the fullest.
            So why is it so hard?
            I’ve been asking myself this during times that I do not feel like I am flourishing. I want to flourish and have joy in my life. But I feel like we, as women and moms, have some big obstacles in our way.
            First, women live in their minds. As moms, we are constantly thinking through our to-do lists and schedules. We think through and process social interactions, as well as interactions with our families and significant others. In my case, I process conversations and, let’s face it, sometimes that leads to negative thoughts. These negative thoughts, either about myself or the other party, taint my entire outlook on the day sometimes. And sometimes, it is just hard to let some things go.
            Secondly, and maybe the is just unique to me, but it is all too easy to throw my own pity party. I dwell on what I don’t have or what went wrong or what I’m missing out on, and I feel sorry for myself. Not only does this take away my joy, but it steals joy from those closest to me. In other words, nobody thrives during a pity party.
            Last, sometimes I just feel blah. Could be a rainy, gloomy day. Could be a string of rough days. Sometimes you just don’t feel it. I have found that usually when I’m feeling blah, I’m not spending time with God like I know I should be. I have let life and schedules crowd Him out from my day.
            After God made me aware of these problems that steal my joy, I found something to be excited about. It had me all excited last week, and its carrying over into this week. I really wanted to share it with you all.          
In a Jesus Calling I read last week, one of the scriptures was Colossians 2:2-3. It’s Paul writing to the church in Colosse. He wanted them to “have complete confidence that they understand God’s mysterious plan, which is Christ himself. In Him are hidden all the treasures of knowledge and wisdom” (emphasis added).  This got me thinking about those treasures. Knowledge and wisdom are two of the greatest gifts God gives to believers. And how do we get them? Through Jesus.
These verses brought to mind another verse. I had to do a little searching on biblehub.com, but I found it. In 2 Corinthians 1:20, again Paul says that Jesus is God’s ultimate yes. “For all of God’s promises have been fulfilled in Christ with a resounding ‘Yes!’ And through Christ, our ‘Amen’ (which means yes) ascends to God for his glory.”  Jesus is God’s resounding YES! Sounds like celebrating, if you ask me.
And again, this point was brought out to me in my Bible Study Fellowship homework last week. We were studying the letters to the 7 churches in Revelation. These were letters Jesus asked John to write to 7 existing churches, and they also speak volumes to believers today. We were in chapter 3 with the final letter to the church at Laodicea. This church can only be described in one way: blah. They were neither on fire for God, nor had they completely turned against him. They were just blah. Living life as they always had, not acknowledging that they needed anything from God. To be honest, it reminds me of many churches and Christians today. The term “Sunday Christian” comes to mind. Someone just going through the motions but not completely allowing God to have their lives. Just someone living a blah life. Not flourishing.
At the beginning of this letter, like all 7 letters, Jesus reveals a truth about himself to the church. He says, “This is the message from the one who is the Amen” (Rev. 3:14).  He was telling that church, a church that experienced great wealth, that He was every promise of God fulfilled. In other words, He is the secret to real wealth.
Jesus is the Plan. He is God’s yes to us. He is the key and the answer to every promise God ever made to His people.
He promises in the Old Testament several things. To never leave us. To forgive us. To bring us peace. To give us joy. To give us hope and us strength. To extend to us unfailing love.
Jesus fulfills every one of these promises. And in these promises alone, we find life to the fullest. We find a life that flourishes. Let these verses remind you of who Jesus is.
Because of Jesus’ work on the cross, God will never leave us. "Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means 'God is with us'" (Matthew 1:23). 
We are forgiven by the blood Jesus shed for us. Romans 5:8-9, “But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s condemnation.”
We have everlasting peace. “"I am leaving you with a gift--peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don't be troubled or afraid,” John 14:27.
We have non-circumstantial joy. “So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God” Romans 5:11.
We have eternal hope and strength for today. 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17, “Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal comfort and a wonderful hope, comfort you and strengthen you in every good thing you do and say.”
We have the never ending, never failing, never conditional, love of God Himself. “And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39).
If you have Jesus, all of these promises are yours. These things, these truths, excite me and give me joy. To me, Joy = flourishing.
But what do you do if you aren’t feeling it? First, you have to accept Jesus. Jesus fulfills all of God’s promises, but if you don’t know Jesus as your Savior, the forgiver of your sins, you aren’t guaranteed these treasures. Please contact me if you want more information about this!
If you’ve accepted Jesus, the yes’s are yours. Yay! But, how do you experience them? I like practical advice, so here's what works for me. This is how I experience the yes's of God:
1.     Ask to see them. Ask God to show you them, to open your eyes to them.
2.     Look and expect to see them. By spending time with Jesus, you can notice these yes’s in your life. Wait expectantly. If you aren’t paying attention, you won’t see them. I know for me, it’s like driving sometimes. If something else is on my mind when I am driving, I can go right passed my destination. Once my distracted state of thought even got me lost in the country! But if our focus is on Jesus, we will catch the yes’s. We won’t miss them
3.     Thank Him. When you experience even a glimpse of these promised treasures, or any blessing of God really, thank Him. It keeps this cycle of flourishing going. It allows you to live in a constant state of abundance.  Even in the bad times, ladies, the blessings still flow. We might just have to look a little harder.

I hope this message excites you as it does me! We can know the secret to a life that is flourishing. It is Jesus Himself. I’m jumping the gun here before Christmas, but really ladies, (and myself), he is the greatest gift we’ve ever been given. We have everything we need in him. Let’s all seek him and look forward to a life that is flourishing!



Monday, October 26, 2015

Doubt v. Truth

Harvest is nearing a close here in Minnesota. Some rain has slowed us down a bit, but, hey, that is giving me a chance to write this! I'll take it!

The harvest season is always a rough time for me. It is really a time of year that God uses to work in my heart and make some changes. My overall goal for this harvest was to have a better attitude about it. To change my perspective, viewing it in a positive light instead of thinking of all of the extra work it means for me. It is, after all, an important time of year for my family.

I think I started off well. I was flexible if asked to help with something that was not on my original day's schedule (something that is very hard for a planner like me). But in the middle of October, things got rocky. Looking back, I know the cause of it.

Doubt.

After about a month of not seeing my husband and having normal communication with him, I began to doubt his affection for me. I didn't doubt that he loved me. I knew he did, of course. But, I doubted his ability to care about me, to think about my feelings. It was the combination of the lack of quality time and the overall consumption of his mental capacity. It sounds bad, but during this time of year, my hubby's brain is just overloaded with other thoughts. This is the time of year for him that he provides for our family. He is somewhat one-track minded. I know this, but it is still hard for me.

Doubt.

Also during this time, I question my parenting skills. I am the only one at meals, bath time, bed time. The parenting duties fall mostly on me. I find myself less patient and more overwhelmed. The kids only have me most of the time, and I feel like I don't meet the standards.

Doubt.

It may sound like I'm whining about my circumstances. That is not my intention. We all have hard, stressful times in life when we feel under appreciated, under par, or overwhelmed. There are many different jobs that have seasons of busyness.

I just want to share what I have been learning about life in the hard times.

Somehow, during this season, I have managed to make time to attend a Bible study. (So important to my overall well-being. Don't cut this out of your life just because you are busy. Studying God's word is life giving.) We are studying the book of Revelation. I just recently read a passage that was written to a church whose people probably felt a lot like I have been feeling. They were facing suffering and persecution. They were probably experiencing doubt too.

In Revelation 3:8, Jesus says to them,
"I know all the things you do, and I have opened a door for you that no one can close. You have little strength, yet you obeyed my word and did not deny me."
Listen, in our times of doubt, Jesus sees us still. He sees us struggling, but He also sees us obeying. He sees us staying true to Him and His word even when we feel weak. This door that Jesus mentions? This is the door to Heaven. It is the way to eternal life. Trust and obedience to Jesus, even if it is from a weak person barely making it, leads to eternal life.

In our doubts, we must cling to the truth of God's word and persevere.  We must remind ourselves of God's promises to us and keep going. Satan, the enemy of our souls, the father of lies, loves to use this tool of doubt. It is how he got Adam and Eve to sin against God for the very first time in the Garden of Eden. He caused Eve to doubt the truth God had told them.
"God said, 'You must not eat it or even touch it [the tree of the knowledge of good and evil]; if you do, you will die.' "You won't die," the serpent replied to the woman. "God knows that your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God, knowing both good and evil" (Genesis 3:3-5). 
From the beginning, Satan has tempted us to doubt the word of God. He uses every lie he can think of. Too often, he succeeds. This is why we must arm ourselves with the Word of God and allow it to shine light on the doubts and lies we are tempted to believe. Here are some of my favorite bits of truth that I have been clinging to lately.
"So let's not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don't give up" (Galatians 6:9).
"Work willingly at whatever you do, as thought you were working for the Lord rather than for people" (Colossians 3:23).
"Yes, I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing" (John 15:5).
"'My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.' So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That's why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong" (2 Corinthians 12:8-10),
Might I encourage you to find your own doubt beaters? Find verses that speak truth into your current situations and the doubt you face. Because, when doubt faces truth, truth always wins.



Linking up most weeks with these encouraging blogs: #soulsurvival,  #intentionalTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #threewordWednesday, #livefreeThursday, #belovedbrews, #dancewithJesus, #fellowshipFriday, #graceandtruth, #coffeeforyourheart, #TellHisStory, #Reflect, #livefreeThursday, #thecozyreadingspot

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Wise and Kind

There are two things that I have never been accused of in my life. One, no one has ever called me shy. And two, no one has ever said I was short on words. I mean, my own husband once told me in the car, when I was in the middle of some general observations, that "those were things that he just didn't need to hear."  (He will never live that one down, by the way!)

So, I know my posts can get long sometimes. I feel like keeping in short today by just sharing some of the Bible's great wisdom that has been helping me this week.

I have been trying to work on my attitude in the face of stress. I'm aware that in a stressful situation, I act out in a way most unbecoming, i.e. I FREAK OUT! I don't handle being in a rush well. My kids eat too slow when we're late for school. Freak out! They can't find one of their shoes. Freak out! My husband asks me to help him with one little thing when I'm already busy. Freak out!

Hey, the first step to change is admitting you have a problem, right? Well, I know I struggle with stress. I'm an exploder, as Lysa TerKeurst would say in Unglued. I can't handle really stressful situations so I explode, most of the time at my kids and husband.

Not good. Not what I want to do.

You know what else? This stress is often self-imposed. Sometimes I don't get up on time, or give us enough time to get out the door. I create the stress. This bugs me even more!

Sometimes you can't avoid stress. For example, this harvest season I am in is just stressful. There is more work for everyone in our family. Sometimes, it is a rush to feed the farmers and the kids supper and get back home to give baths and put the kids to bed at a decent time.

My hope and my help?  The Word of God. I used this verse in a much earlier post, but it is one of my essential verses to help me through motherhood. This verse is taken from the very descriptive passage in Proverbs 31. It's a description of the Wife of Noble Character (Proverbs 31:10-31).
"When she speaks, her words are wise, and she gives instructions with kindness" (Prov. 31: 26).
Most of us are probably familiar with this passage in scripture. There are many actions and attitudes that us modern women can aspire to. It describes the woman as an energetic and strong hard worker. Good. It mentions the many ways a woman can provide and help her family. Good. But this verse specifically speaks to an area that I need to work on.

For the past few days, I've been meditating on this verse. I try to say it to myself before a stressful situation, like bath/bedtime, when I know I am prone to spewing loud commands. You know what? It's been helping me. It makes me aware of the situation and what attitudes it might bring out in me. Then I can be prepared to keep myself mellow and actually enjoy the situation more.

That's really the goal for me, and I think all moms too. I want to enjoy my children and the cute things they do. I want to live in the moment and not be concerned about the next big thing on my to-do list. I want to speak out to them with wise words. I want to teach and guide with kindness, not with raising my voice. These are two things that I would like to be accused of. This is how I would like my children to remember me.



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Wednesday, September 30, 2015

A Day in the Kitchen

Well, harvest is now in full swing. Gone are my carefree days of doing what the kids and I wanted to do. Now, we are kept busy with the demands of helping with harvest.

Last Saturday began like most of our Saturdays do. We all got up at our usual time, and I set to work making pancakes and bacon. Shortly after breakfast, my husband began to unfold the plans of the day to me. Some family was coming to help pick up tree limbs out of our field. (We had just had a bunch of trees taken down do we could have some more farmland. Limbs and branches were the only survivors.) So, after I cleaned up breakfast (dishes are one of my least favorite chores!), I headed to town with the kids to get some items to feed everyone for lunch.

After the trip to the grocery store, the kids and I whipped up some boxed brownies. Then, my sister-in-law reminded me that I had ordered some homemade, authentic tamales from a friend of hers in town. She was bringing them over. Right then. I altered my plans for lunch. We would have the fresh tamales (YUM!). I got toppings ready for them. Salsa, cheese, sour cream, and fresh garden tomatoes.

The eight of us ate and then dispersed. I set to work cleaning up the kitchen again (Did I mention I dislike doing dishes?). The cleanliness of the kitchen only lasted a short while. Once the kids went down for a nap, I decided it was time to make muffins for church the next day. For some reason, I decided to make homemade, cinnamon roll muffins. And while they are quicker than cinnamon rolls, it is still a process. I decided the end product was worth the effort, so I got to work.

My husband then called me to say they were picking beans. I would need to bring out supper, and also, would I like to bring our son out to ride in the combine? So, with hamburger thawing and my muffin batter half way done, I took my son to the farm. My daughter and I spent the rest of the afternoon working on the muffins and making lasagna, complete with homemade sauce.

After bringing supper out to the field and feeding my own kids, I, again, had to do the dishes! ARGH!

At last it was bedtime for the kids! Sweet relief! But, oops, the muffins had to be glazed! Easy enough except then, I had to clean up. Again!  (They really are worth it though!)

When I finally sat down at about 9:30 that evening, I realized, I spent most of the day in the kitchen! What was I becoming?

In my college days, I had plans. I would work as an English teacher, get a Master's degree or maybe two, have a couple kids, and keep working. But some alternate plan was put into place during our premarital counseling. My then fiance stated that he would like it if I would stay home and raise our children. Seriously, I never thought I would actually do it! My semi-feminist college attitude was fired up! Why would I sacrifice my career and my education to just stay at home with my children?

Well, it's pretty common in my life for God to change my plans. I can now say I'm blessed to stay at home and raise my own children, a privilege many women would like to do, but can't for one reason or another. God has a sense of humor and a better plan, that's for sure!

But now, I had literally spent all day in a kitchen! I felt my feminism flaring once again! What could I say I actually accomplished that day besides cooking and cleaning? What had I contributed to the world?

Thankfully, at this more spiritually matured station in life, I could answer my own questions. I had fed my family and some hard working hungry people. I had fostered an atmosphere of hospitality
when we had our extended (soon-to-be) family into our home for lunch. I had, in my own way,
assisted with the farming operation, providing food for the farmers so the combines would not have to stop picking the beans. I had helped my kids learn about cooking and farming and working.

I had accomplished quite a bit, if I do say so myself.

And might I add, Colossians 3:23 adds a deeper meaning to any work that we do.
"Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people."

So, if I perform my daily duties, however menial they may seem, with a willing attitude, I am serving and honoring the Lord. For certainly, I wouldn't complain about doing the Lord's dishes!  But, when I serve my family happily and positively, I am doing the same for God.

In my opinion, this is something every mom needs to hear from time to time. It is easy to feel sorry for ourselves. It is easy to doubt our importance and our role as a mom/wife. Doubt is one of the devil's favorite tools. It works like a charm.

But friends, don't let it work on you. Not anymore. Cling to the verse in Colossians. God uses and honors any work we do in His name. Our cooking, cleaning, and child-rearing are not in vain. They do not go unnoticed. We are serving our family. We are serving God.


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Saturday, September 19, 2015

Go ahead...say it!

A few weekends ago, I decided to head to a neighboring town to run some errands with just my two children. My hubby was busy, and I was tired of being home. So, I decided to go it alone. The first stop went pretty smoothly, but by the second, my kids were at the height of their orneriness. It's not that they do necessarily bad things when they get going; it's just that they goad each other and tune out my voice more and more until something does happen that is naughty.

We were at that point in Target, one of my favorite stores to just stroll through. But when your kids have turned into Thing 1 and Thing 2, that is impossible. I was on a mission for a portable bag chair. Having lost all reasonable thought when my kids started picking at each other, I was struggling quite a bit to find one. My brain did not tell me the logical place to look (the camping section), so I was wandering here and there. I was also failing to locate a red-shirted savior in the form of a Target employee.

 I ended up in a giant display for the new Star Wars movie. It looked like Halloween for adults on steroids. Of course my kids were intrigued, but I kept pushing on, all business. There was an adult male in the same area, just browsing. He was alone and in his forties. I didn't really pay much attention to him. I was too busy navigating my kids out of the costumes before they started trying them on.

In the main aisle now, I concentrated on the next area I should check to locate the bag chairs. Coming out of another aisle was the same man. The one that I had barely noticed. Do you know what happened? It was amazing and attitude-altering.

He told me with a smile, "You're doing a good job."

I looked at him and smiled and said, "Thank you." Emotions flooded my heart and mind. I appreciated his kind words beyond belief. I was so grateful someone had noticed. I was so grateful that someone had told me that. A stranger, none the less.

This incident got me through Target, and it made me think. What a simple gesture, and look how much it blessed me! Why don't I do this more? It's so easy, so simple.

I live in Minnesota now but was raised in Kansas. We have this thing up here called "Minnesota Nice." It's where no one really says how they feel because they don't want to hurt other people's feelings. It sounds kind of good, right? Like maybe less people get hurt?

No, I've decided it's not nice. No one says anything rude, but then you know what? Sometimes people don't say anything nice either. (NOTICE: This does not apply to every Minnesotan. It's just a stereotype of our people. It may apply to people in every single state!)

Why are people apprehensive about saying compliments? More specifically, about giving compliments that really matter. It's easy to tell a friend, or even a stranger for that matter, "I like your shoes. They are so cute!" In reality, those shoes probably have nothing to do with the heart and soul of that person.

Why is it harder to tell a person, "You are doing a good job at raising your kids, or "You are being so faithful in your service to the children of this church," or "I appreciate you're hard work at keeping the school clean"? We just don't say those things as often as we should.  We think them, at least I do. But why is it hard to just put it out there?

Is it time? Really, it doesn't take any extra time at all. We say so many useless things with our mouths sometimes. It shouldn't take much effort to throw out something that is kind. Are we afraid what other people will think? Not necessarily the one we give the compliment to, but others around us. Will they think us over-sensitive? Nosy? A gooey, gushy goody two shoes?

Who cares?!

In 1 Thessalonians 5:11, Paul writes, "So encourage each other and build each other up." This was written to the church in Thessalonica to encourage them in their faith. Isn't easier to grow in your faith, or in any activity really, when you have someone encouraging you?

Paul knew encouragement. He even selected such a man for his travels. He knew he and the other believers/apostles might need someone with the spirit of encouragement. "For instance, there was Joseph, the one the apostles nicknamed Barnabas (which means 'Son of encouragement'). He was from the tribe of Levi and came from the island of Cyprus (Acts 4:36). The man was called "the encourager!" Literally! What a nickname!

I have decided that we all need to be more like Barnabas. We need to do more of what Paul instructed the Thessalonians, and us, to do. We need to build each other up. We need to be more encouraging.

Maybe you're too embarrassed to say it. Maybe you may think that a person probably doesn't need to hear it. Well let me tell you friend, they do. You do. We all do. Go ahead...say it!





Linking up most weeks with these encouraging blogs: #soulsurvival,  #intentionalTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #threewordWednesday, #livefreeThursday, #belovedbrews, #dancewithJesus, #fellowshipFriday, #graceandtruth, #coffeeforyourheart, #TellHisStory, #Reflect, #livefreeThursday

Thursday, September 10, 2015

An Attitude of Gratitude

Thank you. It is one of the first phrases we teach our children. At first, it begins as an automatic response. I mean, what parent hasn't repeated this question a hundred times: "What do you say?" I even asked my child this question, hoping for a different response (like good bye because someone was leaving), and got a robotic "thank you" in return.

It is definitely an important phrase to know and wield when appropriate. A nice "thank you" can soothe someone's annoyance. Like, "Thank you so much for waiting. I know that line was really long." A "thank you" can express appreciation. For example, "Thank you for feeding the dog, outside in the dark, so I didn't have to do it." The phrase "thank you" can express so much. Relief, gratefulness, and sometimes even sarcasm.

So, it would seem like most of us in society are pretty accustomed to the phrase, and most of us are probably pretty good at using it. I know, there will always be some people who never want to say it, but I'm not addressing those right now. That's a whole other issue.

But, the attitude that goes along with being truly thankful is an area that we can struggle with. It's easy enough for me to say "thank you" to someone who deserves it, someone who's earned it. But why is it so hard for me to continually cultivate an attitude of gratitude?

This has been on my mind lately. Not that I'm not happy, not that I'm not thankful for my blessings. It's just that sometimes, I don't feel it.

The last few devotions in my Jesus Calling have all been about thanksgiving. (Don't go look up today's date. I'm way off!) I've read the suggested verses before, so what the Bible says on being thankful is not new to me. However, there is a concept in Psalms that has had me stewing over my attitude and how thankful I really am acting.
"Make thankfulness your sacrifice to God, and keep the vows you made to the Most High" (Psalm 50:14).
"But giving thanks is a sacrifice that truly honors me. If you keep to my path, I will reveal to you the salvation of God" (Psalm 50:23).
"Let them offer sacrifices of thanksgiving and sing joyfully about his glorious acts" (Psalm 107:22).
"I will offer you a sacrifice of thanksgiving and call on the name of the Lord" (Psalm 116:17).
Did you catch the common word? In all of the verses above, the authors refer to being thankful as a sacrifice. These two words do not seem to go together in my mind. Thankful. Sacrifice. When I think of a sacrifice, I think of the Old Testament version, with the killing of the perfect animal, or I think of Jesus' ultimate sacrifice on the cross for my sins. I do not think of saying a simple "thank you" as a sacrifice.

But now that I'm thinking about it, it is hard to sometimes offer our thankfulness to God. It is hard to live in a constant attitude of thanksgiving.

So, the English nerd in me looked up the word sacrifice. It can be a noun (like the animal being sacrificed) or a verb (the act of). In all of the verses above, the word is used as a noun. Well, the first two definitions listed on dictionary.com all describe the animal part of sacrifice. But the third and fourth ones get interesting
3. the surrender or destruction of something prized or desirable for the sake of something considered as having a higher or more pressing claim.
4. the thing so surrendered or devoted. (www.dictionary.com)
These definitions help me understand why it is so hard to cultivate a thankful attitude. Each definition mentions the word surrender. The third definition really speaks to me. A sacrifice is something we surrender, something we deem as valuable, for the sake of achieving or gaining something better.

When we admit our deep thankfulness to God, we surrender our own lives. We humble ourselves and admit that we cannot achieve anything without God. We admit that He is better than us. We admit that He is smarter than us. So that thing we surrender is our own pride. No wonder it's hard!

But no wonder the Bible says that thanksgiving is a sacrifice that truly honors God. It is a true act of praise! It puts God in the position that He alone deserves. It declares Him as Lord and King of our lives.

Back to that third definition of sacrifice. It says that we surrender something for the sake of gaining something better. So what do we gain when we offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving? I know one thing: joy. God honors this kind of sacrifice by giving us joy. He blesses us for being thankful. Doesn't this really just give us more to be thankful about? Such a great gift.

I find that I also receive peace when I am thankful. When I humble myself and admit that God is better, I am actively trusting Him. When I trust God fully, I experience His peace. I can know that He is in control of any difficult circumstances that I may be facing. And while it still might be hard, He is handling it all on my behalf.

Wow, I've been a little deep today! But this is something that has been bubbling around in my heart and mind for awhile now, and I just had to share it with you all. Plus, it's fun for me to get back to my English teacher roots and do a little word study.

God is so good! We really do have so much to be thankful for. And when we decide to sacrifice our own pride and give Him the praise He deserves, He is so good to shower us with joy and many more blessings. I'm going to be working on this in the days and weeks to come. I am going to trade my grumpiness for joy. I decide to be more thankful.




Linking up with these encouraging blogs: #soulsurvival,  #intentionalTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #threewordWednesday, #livefreeThursday, #belovedbrews, #dancewithJesus, #fellowshipFriday, #graceandtruth, #coffeeforyourheart, #TellHisStory, #Reflect, #livefreeThursday



Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Beginnings

We have been busy, like many of you, I'm sure, getting kids ready to go back to school. We bought the clothes and school supplies and discovered who the kids' teachers were. We sent my oldest off to his second year of preschool today, and my daughter has her first day of preschool tomorrow.

Yep, things are beginning in the Johnson house.

There's more though! I am currently looking out my living room and admiring the view. To be honest, I'm a little intimidated by the view. From my current vantage point, I can see many acres of soon-to-be combined corn. Yes, as I am typing this, the corn is outside beginning to dry up, making it ready for harvest. (Picture coming. I'm having issues with my computer!)

So yes, the beginning of school signals that harvest time and all of its busyness and excitement is about to begin.

A little bit about our harvest time...We have soybeans and corn that need to be harvested, usually between the months of September and November. Sometimes, it stretches into December, depending on the weather. So, for these months, my husband and father-in-law are super busy. They probably average about 4 hours of sleep a night. They must pick the crop, haul it, dry it (if it's corn) and store it. Then, the fields must be worked, meaning the husks and other pieces of the plants are turned back into the soil. Then, if the field will be corn next year, fertilizer is applied. It is a rush to get the crops out while they can yield the maximum number of bushels. It is also a race to get it all done by winter. That is the wild card! Snow in Minnesota can come early. Last year, it was in the middle of November!

So, this time of year, while exciting, is super stressful to me and my family. The kids see less of their dad, I parent alone most of the time, and I also must keep all the men well fed. Because, of course, they do not like to stop those machines! I end up looking forward to and somewhat dreading harvest every year.

Such is my life, I guess!

But God's word offers us a lot of encouragement when we face new beginnings. I read in my Proverbs 31 First5 app this week that God is the God of new beginnings. Think about it: He existed before anything else. He is the beginning. He creates beginnings. He sets out, in advance, every new beginning that we will face. Here are some of my favorite verses that bring me comfort and encouragement when I'm nervous or anxious about a new beginning.
"The Sovereign Lord is my strength! He makes me surefooted as a deer, able to tread upon the heights" Habakkuk 3:19.
"For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With His love, He will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs" Zephaniah 3:17.
"Don't be afraid, for I am with you. Don't be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand" Isaiah 41:10.
"The Lord says, 'I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you'" Psalm 32:8. 
"The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand" Psalm 37:23-24. 
Bottom Line for New Beginnings...
When facing new beginnings, remember: God is with you. He holds you by your hand. God is directing your steps. He is making your steps sure. God delights in your new beginnings.

Linking up with these encouraging blogs: #soulsurvival,  #intentionalTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #threewordWednesday, #livefreeThursday, #belovedbrews, #dancewithJesus, #fellowshipFriday, #graceandtruth, #coffeeforyourheart, #TellHisStory, #Reflect

Saturday, August 22, 2015

The Most Stubborn Person in all the Land?

Lately, my husband and I decided to get serious about our son's pickiness when it comes to eating. He is almost 5. We decided that that is old enough to eat what mama fixes. He is good with fruit, okay with meat, but put a noodle in front of him, and he comes unglued. He will eat apples dipped in ketchup, but ask him to eat a plain, buttered noodle, and he thinks you're are trying to poison him. (No, I did not make that last part up. He actually says that they are probably poison!)

Our plan to attack the pickiness is to set a time for supper. I usually give him about 45 minutes to eat whatever food I have put on his plate. (Note: we are not trying to make him eat weird foods. We have yet to push green vegetables and foreign cuisine. We are just talking spaghetti, folks! )We found that the time factor is necessary because he would sit there until it was time for bed, no matter what fun thing the rest of us might be doing. Nope, sitting there all night did not phase him.

So, in the time allotted he is to eat a small portion of whatever I have made for supper. If he does not complete the task, he gets it for breakfast. Basically, he won't get anything else to eat until he finishes the food he was given.

We have had to enforce this two times now. Both instances have concerned noodles. Day 1, he finally finished his 6 penne noodles at 12:50, right before nap time. Day 2, he finished at 11 a.m., just in time to get to help dad with some farm work.

The goal of this is to take the pressure off of my husband and I. We were getting so worked up because our son was not eating! It drives me absolutely crazy! I cannot understand the sheer stubbornness of the kid!

Yes, friends, I have the most stubborn kid in the world!

This is the kid that will forego eating noodles, even if that means he misses out on a brownie with ice cream. This is the kid that would rather sit at the table, not eating, and therefore not get to eat pancakes and bacon. This kid would rather sit at the table all morning than eat 5 bites of spaghetti!

My husband keeps saying, "Just relax. He'll get hungry soon enough. He'll eat it. Let the hunger do the work."

I cannot hardly stand it! First of all, I have to make sure he stays at the table all morning. Secondly, I can't take the sheer ridiculousness of it all! Plain noodles! I'd be like, "A brownie sundae? Sure, I'll eat 5 bites of noodles. That's easy!"  But no, not this kid. I can't even stand the whole ordeal!

He'll learn, right?

While this is a good lesson for me on patience and the trial and error nature of parenting, it's also a good lesson on being spiritually stubborn.

I immediately thought of Moses and the children of Israel.

God had done so much for these people! He performed miracles before their eyes. He rescued them from a life of slavery. He traveled with them to the Promised Land. He had chosen them for His own.

Instead of being grateful, the people complained. They even claimed to miss their life of slavery! They refused to fully trust in God. God himself told Moses to tell them, "You are a stubborn and rebellious people. If I were to travel with you for even a moment, I would destroy you" (Exodus 33:5). Some versions say the people were "stiff necked."

As a mom, I can relate! I mean, I just wanted to scream into a pillow all morning. But, as I was thinking, I wondered, "Does God ever see me as stubborn or stiff necked?"

When I have a stiff neck, it is painful to turn my head from side to side, or even up and down. Have I been spiritually stiff necked? Have I been unwilling to turn my head and change my ways?
  • How many times have I clung to my own plan, only to end up hurt, disappointed, confused, or frustrated?
  • How many times have I missed out on a blessing because I refused to be obedient?
  • How many times have I chosen to sin and therefore, had to reap the consequences?
Ok, I guess I have been stiff necked too. Like my son, there have been times that I have chosen to miss out on the brownie sundae.

Later in Exodus, after Moses pleads for God to continue with them through the desert, a new covenant is formed. God reveals some things about His true character. He passes in front of Moses saying:
"Yahweh! The Lord! The God of compassion and mercy! I am slow to anger and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness. I lavish unfailing love to a thousand generations. I forgive iniquity, rebellion, and sin" (Exodus 34:6-7).
With a God like this, we have no need to be stiff necked. He is trustworthy. He is merciful. He is forgiving. He is slow to be angry. And, He is generous with His love.

We all have choices to make. We can choose to hang on to our stubborn
 ways, refusing to partake in what is good for us. Or, we can choose to do things God's way. I pray that I will let go of my stubborn tendencies and embrace God's plan. I don't know about you, but I'm going for the brownie sundae.

(NOTE: No child was harmed in the process of this new eating plan. My son engulfed a huge lunch and took a nap, happy and full!)


Linking up this week at: #soulsurvival,  #intentionalTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #threewordWednesday, #livefreeThursday, #belovedbrews, #dancewithJesus, #fellowshipFriday, #graceandtruth, #coffeeforyourheart, #TellHisStory, #Reflect

Friday, August 14, 2015

Why Vacation Bible School is not for the Weak

My church just finished our Vacation Bible school today. It was a great success, I'd say, with 187 kids in attendance, give or take.

I volunteered and was put in charge of a group of nine kids, ages 2 - 6. Yikes!

First of all, this age group is way out of my comfort zone. I taught English to high school aged kids in my past life. If I was asked to teach below 9th grade, I was unsure. I mean, those 7th graders are like another species!

Secondly, not only was I with my 9 kids, but we traveled from station to station with 3 other groups. Little kids were everywhere! I was slightly overwhelmed. Thank God for my 3 helpers! We all needed each other, that's for sure!

Within minutes of the start of day 1, I knew I was going to have to suck it up. These kids were here. They were expecting fun. Their parents were expecting them to learn something. Ready or not, I was on!

Why Vacation Bible School is not for the weak...
  • Some crafts can take a high level of concentration. It's hard to make binoculars, ok?
  • Game time may or may not involve rubber balls bouncing off your person.
  • The visiting animals may become violent and spit or kick.
  • Food allergies are real, folks. (What is really in green Jello?)
  • Story time with young children is a battle of wills.
  • Songs have enough actions to qualify as a Zumba workout.
I came home every day this week and practically beat my kids to nap time. I was exhausted!

What I Learned from Vacation Bible School

Of course, when I participate in something that God wants me to do, I learn something from Him. This experience was no different.

I woke up Wednesday morning feeling tired and not all that excited to begin day 3. God quickly put me in my place!

I was reading in my First 5 devotional for the morning (from Proverbs31), and the verse jumped out at me. It was taken from the passage of Jesus washing the disciples' feet. Quite an unpleasant job, yet here was Jesus, the Son of God, doing it anyway out of love. The verse was, "I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you" (John 13:15).  This passage reminded me of another.
"For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others" (Matthew 20:28).

Yep, I was humbled. I didn't think I was above helping with VBS; I just had a stinky attitude about doing it. But, as Philippians 2:5 reminds us, "You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had." So, I knew what God was calling me to do. He wanted to me serve the kids in my group out of love and with an attitude worthy of a Christ-follower. Even if some of the kids in my group were difficult, it didn't matter. Because, by the way, Jesus even washed Judas's feet. The man that He knew was about to betray Him.

I can say that I am blessed to have served so many kids at VBS! One of the kids in my group even prayed the prayer of salvation! It was a great, busy week.

At the end of the day today, I found myself wondering, 'how did Jesus do so much ministry? Wasn't He exhausted? Wasn't He worn out mentally, physically, and emotionally?' I knew I was!

God again gently reminded me of something that I had been missing this week. In Luke chapter 5, we learn that "Jesus often withdrew to the wilderness for prayer" (verse 16).

Jesus often needed to be alone to pray. He knew that communion with God was the key to refreshment and renewing.

Why is it that when we are busy, the first thing to go is our quiet time with the Lord? Busyness and stress should prompt us to burrow deeper into God, to spend more time with Him to be refreshed and ready to face the stress or the demands of our busy schedule.

So, while my kids learned some great Bible verses and completed some cool crafts, this lady learned some things at VBS too. Isn't it amazing how God works on each one of us exactly where we are at? While kids learned the basics about God's love and Jesus's work on the cross, this mama learned a thing or too as well.

Linking up this week at: #soulsurvival,  #intentionalTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #threewordWednesday, #livefreeThursday, #belovedbrews, #dancewithJesus, #fellowshipFriday, #graceandtruth, #coffeeforyourheart, #TellHisStory

Friday, August 7, 2015

The Blessing of a Mess

We just arrived back home from my sister's wedding and a vacation. We were gone for about 2 weeks. It was a wonderful time with family and a relaxing time at the beach with our own little family.

Almost immediately, I was shocked back into the realities of life.

My husband became busy the very next morning. We didn't even get the car unloaded. The entire duty of unpacking was left to me. Plus, after being gone that long, I felt like the house needed to be cleaned.

I don't mind cleaning, but it's the attitude I take on when I do it that I dislike. I'm not sure why it happens. It can only be described as a cleaning frenzy. It's like I'm on a mission, and if my kids get in the way, whoa, watch out for the fury! So, I try to clean where they are not. This results in even more messes. I always laugh (a little hysterically) when my husband comes home to a messy, toy cluttered house, and I tell him I've been cleaning all day.

Is there anything more frustrating?

Because I had been out of my normal writing routine for so long, I felt like all my thoughts were jumbled with no organization. So, yesterday morning, I prayed that God would give me some organization and direction. Then I did my devotionals and read a chapter in the book The Best Yes.

And God did speak to me.

The first words in my devotional were, "You are living in a time of abundance." Huh, I thought, really? Well, I know that is true, so why don't I feel like that?

The chapter in The Best Yes continued this theme. It was the chapter entitled "The Joy of the Unrushed Yes." It was all about leaving space in our schedules and lives to enjoy and work on relationships.

Ok, Lord, I get it.

I often let myself go head over heels into a frenzy. I realized I had not been enjoying the gifts I had been given, and was being given each day. I was allowing myself to get caught up in the unpacking, the cleaning, the stress of the upcoming school year and MOPS year.

I was not allowing myself the time and space to see the blessings around me. I thought of One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. I love this book and agree with its message of counting our blessings to experience joy whole heartedly. I had just let myself get too busy to put it into practice. And by doing so, I was missing out on the joy of life. I have been missing out on abundant life.

When really...
"My cup overflows with blessings" (Psalm 23:5b).
"What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us?" (Romans 8:31).
"O Lord, my God, you have performed many wonders for us. Your plans for us are too numerous to list. You have no equal. If I tried to recite all your wonderful deeds, I would never come to the end of them" (Psalm 40:5). 
"You have endowed him with eternal blessings and given him the joy of Your presence" (Psalm 21:6). 
 So, even though it is against my personality, I am going to fight the frenzy with thankfulness. I pray we can all allow ourselves time to notice the blessings and gifts around us.

Lord, help me to stop and realize the blessings that my children are--that the mess means I'm blessed.

 
Oh, yeah, and this little song too. Totally applicable to a busy, rushed life. "Slow me Down" by the Robby Seay Band. Click to enjoy!

Linking up this week at: #soulsurvival,  #intentionalTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #threewordWednesday, #livefreeThursday, #belovedbrews, #dancewithJesus, #fellowshipFriday, #graceandtruth, #coffeeforyourheart, #TellHisStory 

Monday, July 20, 2015

Jesus, Firm Foundation

Shootings in a military town. Friend's father-in-law dies. Children suffering with cancer. Sister diagnosed with blood clots. STRESS. Life. Chaos.

And we find ourselves shaken.

If you've read my last few posts, you know that I have been dealing with a busy schedule and a busy, messy household.

But yesterday in church, my struggles came face to face with an important truth. We sang a song in church called "Jesus, Firm Foundation." Click here to listen to it. It is fabulous and reminiscent of an older hymn.

There is nothing old about the truths of this song, however. The chorus says:
"How firm our foundation, How sure our salvation.
And we will not be shaken. Jesus, Firm foundation."
 
What words! The stress and chaos of my last few weeks grew dim. I felt challenged. I had been letting my circumstances shake me up. I had not been clinging to Jesus, the very cornerstone chosen by God to be the foundation for my life. 1 Peter 2:4 says, "You are coming to Christ, who is the living cornerstone of God's temple. He was rejected by people, but he was chosen by God for great honor."
 
In case you didn't know, a cornerstone was the largest, most solid stone placed first when constructing a building. It set the landscape for the entire structure. Jesus is that for us. He is our cornerstone. He is the rock we can build our lives on. 
 
"For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ" (1 Corninthians 3:11).
 
 
I had been placing my sense of security in how much I was able to accomplish on a given day, how well my children behaved, and how clean my house was. But when we remind ourselves of this truth, every issue fades away.
 
We have a solid rock that anchors us. We can be confident that our future in heaven is secure. Nothing should shake us. We have Jesus, the cornerstone, our firm foundation.
 
 

 FYI: I'll be taking a little vacation from blogging! See you at the beginning of August!

 

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Transforming my Mess

Lately, I have felt like such a mess! My house has been a mess, and so has my attitude! I've been having some pity parties too. My daughter had an accident and peed on the bathroom floor. I was doing the dishes (one of my least favorite household chores, second only to cleaning showers) and how to stop and attend to the more urgent matter at hand: the wet floor.

I thought to myself, "Man, I really don't feel like I ever get to have fun!"

The truth was, I was just overwhelmed. We had a busy weekend with a birthday party and our town festival. It seemed like we were always just home long enough to make a quick mess and then leave. I never had any time to clean up the little messes because we were always moving to the next event. I really don't like to be left out of fun because I'm busy cleaning up after everyone. One of my least favorite times of the day is when I have to clean up after supper, and my husband gets to play with the kids.

I know. I'm being a tiny bit dramatic. But sometimes, it just stinks to be an adult! If I had not let everything accumulate, the house would not have looked like an abandoned, disgusting, foreclosed upon house! And my attitude would have been a little sweeter too!

 

Our God can take a life in shambles and piece it back together. Our God can transform a heart black with sin into one that is whiter than snow. Our God can modify a bad attitude into a joyous disposition. We just have to be willing to let Him do the changing.

So, how do we allow God to makeover the mess of our lives?
  1. Admit that we need Him. We must tell God that we are a mess. (He already knows anyway.) God is patient with us, never pushy. He will not step in unless we ask Him to. In 1 Peter 5:7, we are invited to "Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares about you." We can go to God with anything that we are struggling with. Anything. Big or small. This is part of the beauty of the relationship God wants with each of us. He wants us to communicate our need to Him. He always wants to hear.
  2. Pray to be filled with the Spirit. When we accept Jesus as our Savior, we immediately receive the Holy Spirit as our helper through this life. When we are filled with the Spirit, God can work in us and remove those messy, ugly attitudes. "The Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control" (Galatians 5:22-23). When I pray, especially if I'm having a bad day, I ask for the Spirit to help me be more patient and loving and kind. (That tends to be the areas I struggle the most.) All we have to do is ask for the Spirit to fill us, to fill in the gaps of where we are weak.
  3. Be obedient and allow God to work. When that Spirit does start to move in our lives, we need to be open and obedient. We all want to be better, less of a mess. Better moms, wives, dads, husbands, etc. God is the only one who can make us better. We cannot do it on our own. I know I fail daily if I try to do life without inviting God to work in me. "Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases Him" (Phil. 2:12-13). Thank God for the truth of these verses! When we work to obey Him, He works in us! He gives us the power and the desire to obey Him and please Him more. I just love this verse. It is kind of my "mommy support verse."
Yes, God is in the business of cleaning up messes. He is so many things, isn't He? He is our Rock. He is our Shield. He is our Refuge. He is our Savior. He is our Father. And for me today, He is my Transformer, the Re-maker of my Mess.

Linking up this week at:  #intentionalTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #threewordWednesday, #livefreeThursday, #belovedbrews, #dancewithJesus, #fellowshipFriday, #graceandtruth, #coffeeforyourheart, #TellHisStory