Finding Joy

In some moments, joy grabs you! The day your toddler discovers bubbles with laughter and delighted eyes, and you find yourself bubbling over with joy in the moment. The first snowball of winter that smashes with a thud into your back and elicits a joyful romp through the snow to pay your friend back in kind. That moment of sunrise with a steaming cup of coffee when all the worlds ills are far away and joy is near.

Other moments, days, or weeks, joy can seem elusive, like one who is a bit too good at this game of hide-and-seek. In those times depression and despondency can overtake us making joy seem like something lost, never to be found again. The desperate waiting at the bedside of a sick loved one. The important person who walked out of your life… permanently it seems. The wandering child lost in the fog of addiction. The unknown.

How is it our joy seems tethered to our more transient feelings and situations?

The world equates joy with happiness, and there is happiness in joy. But for the Christian joy is so much more. What is it? How do we find it? How do we keep it and not let it escape with every perceived tragedy?

For Christians, joy is a deep-rooted, inspired happiness inside us that flows from being in relationship with a good, good God. Scriptures make it clear…

You will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever. Psalm 16:11

For You make him most blessed forever; You make him joyful with gladness in Your presence. For the king trusts in the Lord, And through the lovingkindness of the Most High he will not be shaken. Psalm 21:6-7

O send out Your light and Your truth, let them lead me; Let them bring me to Your holy hill And to Your dwelling places. Then I will go to the altar of God, To God my exceeding joy; And upon the lyre I shall praise You, O God, my God. Psalm 43:3-4

Apart from a relationship with Jesus and our Heavenly Father, joy will remain elusive. He is our source of joy. He plants joy in our hearts by His Spirit. Galatians 5:22 tells us “the fruit of the Spirit is… joy!” That section of scripture talks about our walk through life, either a walk by the Spirit or a walk in the flesh. We have a choice. The former brings joy. The latter brings disasters: “… strife, jealousy, anger, disputes, dissension, factions… .” So we who are His, “… those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.” (Galatians 5:16-26) And in that we find joy.

Finding joy is not nearly as complicated as we make it. We manipulate, control, buy, eat, drink and try to be merry, all to find joy. But in reality it takes just one thing. Mary knew that “One Thing” – to sit at Jesus’ feet in humble, loving relationship with Him. But we run, chasing after more, and leave Jesus and joy sitting behind waiting for us to come back to the relationship. Nehemiah 8:10 tells us “the joy of the Lord is our strength.” Today, let us seek Him and be strengthened. Let us listen to Him and find peace. Let us hear His voice through His Word and find hope. Let us sit down at His feet and rest our weary, tortured souls and find joy in relationship with Our Creator once again.

Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you,’ declares the Lord. Jeremiah 29:12-14

Auld Lang Syne

Auld Lang Syne (English translation: Old Long Since)

Should old acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should old acquaintance be forgot,
And old lang syne?

(Chorus)
For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne,
We’ll take a cup of kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.

And surely you’ll buy your pint cup!
And surely I’ll buy mine!
And we’ll take a cup o’ kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.

We two have run about the slopes,
And picked the daisies fine;
But we’ve wandered many a weary foot,
Since auld lang syne.

We two have paddled in the stream,
From morning sun till dine;
But seas between us broad have roared
Since auld lang syne.

And there’s a hand my trusty friend!
And give me a hand o’ thine!
And we’ll take a right good-will draught,
For auld lang syne.

As I read the translation of Auld Lang Syne and pondered its implication to the closing out of 2020, I couldn’t help but share.

Hindsight is 2020 they say. This New Year’s Eve, as we reflect back on 2020, let’s look carefully and seek clarity. Let’s not throw the baby out with the bath water. The year has been so challenging, frightening even for some, that we tend to want to put it behind us and forget it ever happened. But that would be unwise. There is much to learn and even much to appreciate from the year 2020.

Things we have learned in 2020.

  1. The importance of keeping relationships healthy. We never know when life will change or death will come. Scripture tells us, “Now listen, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.’ Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” (James 4:13-14) We must learn to work on even those difficult relationships. Mend fences. Re-establish broken ties with family members. Take care of those we love. Love them fully and let go of bitterness.
  2. We do need to take that cup of kindness and give a cup of kindness. I’m not sure of the intent of the author of the song, but if nothing else in this strange year, we have learned to lead with kindness. Be kind to those who wear a mask and those who don’t. To Democrats & Republicans. To people different from us in every way imaginable. To the hurting, the sick, the poor, the rich, the godly, the ungodly, the sweet and the mean ones. Just be kind. “We put no stumbling block in anyone’s path, so that our ministry will not be discredited. Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: … in… kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love.” (2 Corinthians 6:3-4 & 6)
  3. Grab the opportunity for every beautiful experience you can. The third verse of our song talks about picking daisies, running about the slopes and wandering around on long walks. Time outdoors, time traipsing around with friends, time in the sun, these things are crucial to our physical and mental health. Get out in the great outdoors with friends as often as you can. “Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let the sea resound, and all that is in it. Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them; let all the trees of the forest sing for joy. Let all creation rejoice before the Lord.” Psalm 96:11-13
  4. In 2020, we too found that many of those we paddled through life with are not around; there is suddenly a broad sea between us. Working at home suddenly separates you from your “work family.” Church friends that you once saw every Sunday or even several times a week may now have been absent from your life for 9 months. Family and friends in other cities, states, or countries are absent from our lives, and the recent holidays proved to be a lonely affair for many.

So what do we do? We reach out and lend a hand. We offer a big cup of sweet tea on the deck, 6 feet away, in the sunshine. We meet for Bible study class at the park. We Zoom with each other. We call on the phone – the old fashioned way. We leave cute “happies” on a door step, take a bag of groceries or swap good books and puzzles when we’re through with them. We choose joy. We choose life. We choose to love and reach out.

During this dark time, we turn our hearts back where they belong – to Jesus.

A. We allow our Father God to plant and nurture and grow in us the fruit of His Spirit. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22-23) There may be mask restrictions, or distancing guidelines, but there is no law against all the good that the Holy Spirit grows in us and pours through us to others.

B. We seek Him while He may be found. (Isaiah 55:6)

C. We tap down that worry and turn it over to Him through prayer and thankfulness. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)

D. We walk in faith. “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see…. By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible…. And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” (Hebrews 11:1,3,6)

E. And “finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” (Philippians 4:8) We exercise self-control over our thoughts.

I’m sure I’ve just scratched the surface. There are many more ways we can apply scripture for our own good. Take a moment to reply with a verse you live out in your life that brings God’s peace and encouragement. Have a blessed 2021, but ponder on the lessons of 2020.

Original Auld Lang Syne (Scots language)

Should auld acquaintance be forgot
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot
And days of auld lang syne?

For auld lang syne, my dear
For auld lang syne
We’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet
For days of auld lang syne

We twa hae run about the braes
And pu’d the gowans fine
But we’ve wander’d mony a weary fit
Sin days of auld lang syne

We twa hae paidl’d i’ the burn
Frae morning sun till dine
But seas between us braid hae roar’d
Sin days of auld lang syne

For auld lang syne, my dear
For auld lang syne
We’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet
For days of auld lang syne

And surely ye’ll be your pint-stowp
And surely I’ll be mine
And we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet
For auld lang syne

And there’s a hand, my trusty fiere
And gie’s a hand o’ thine
And we’ll tak a right gude-willy waught
For auld lang syne

For auld lang syne, my dear
For auld lang syne
We’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet
For auld lang syne

For auld lang syne, my dear
For auld lang syne
We’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet
For auld lang syne

All is Calm, All is Bright

May you find light and peace and rest as you meditate on the true meaning of Christmas! May the Light of the World shine into your heart and home and bring calmness and joy to your heart!

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.”

Luke 2:4-20

God’s Got You Girl!

Ever had that dream where you feel like you’re falling to your death and you jerk and wake yourself up? Me too. Scary dream. It leaves your heart pounding.

What’s even worse is when you have one of those wide-awake, real life moments that leave your heart pounding: sudden bad news, abandonment, a train wreck happening in your life. You feel like you’re in an endless fall. You can’t see the bottom. And it seems that the adrenalin-inducing situation will never end – or worse, will end in catastrophe.

When one of those things happens, there’s only one thing to do. Well actually that’s not true. There are several things we could do. We could pitch fit like a three-year-old, cuss out the person causing us pain (that’s “curse” for you non-Southern folks), binge on chocolate, get drunk, pop a pill, or freak out in any number of other personal preference ways. But then we would still be in the same overwhelming situation, plus we would have probably added pain and complications to our situation.

My favorite movie is Apollo 13. And one of my favorite scenes from it occurs after the mission-terminating accident has happened. The 3 astronauts on board the damaged spacecraft are assessing their situation. Tensions are high. They are frightened. Anger and accusations boil over as a result and an argument ensues for a couple of minutes until the mission commander, Jim Lovell, brings it to a halt with this statement:

Jim Lovell: “All right, look, we’re not doing this, gentlemen, we’re not gonna do this. We’re not gonna go bouncing off the walls for the next 10 minutes, because we’re just gonna end up right back here with the same problems!”

Since seeing this movie the very first time, this line has never left me. How often do I find myself in crisis and begin to freak out and bounce off the walls and say or do stupid things that complicate the situation, only to find myself right back in the same place when my anger is spent and my ranting is over? I’ve wasted all that time and energy, and probably increased my blood pressure and aggravated my health all for nothing. When if I reacted as I know is best, I would probably have found a more helpful, peaceful, and God-honoring way of conducting myself that would have left me in a better place emotionally, mentally, spiritually, and even physically.

There truly is only one thing to do that will help and not add to our tumultuous situation. That is to turn to The One who can catch us when we’re falling – our Father God. Turn to Him in prayer. Turn to His Word. Turn your heart to meditate on Him. Psalm 91 reminds us…

Psalm 91

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
    will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
    my God, in whom I trust.”

Surely he will save you
    from the fowler’s snare
    and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his feathers,
    and under his wings you will find refuge;
    his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
You will not fear the terror of night,
    nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
    nor the plague that destroys at midday.
A thousand may fall at your side,
    ten thousand at your right hand,
    but it will not come near you.
You will only observe with your eyes
    and see the punishment of the wicked.

If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,”
    and you make the Most High your dwelling,
10 no harm will overtake you,
    no disaster will come near your tent.
11 For he will command his angels concerning you
    to guard you in all your ways;
12 they will lift you up in their hands,
    so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread on the lion and the cobra;
    you will trample the great lion and the serpent.

14 “Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him;
    I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
15 He will call on me, and I will answer him;
    I will be with him in trouble,
    I will deliver him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him
    and show him my salvation.”

So the next time you feel yourself falling, turn to The One who can catch us when we’re falling. Then let go and let yourself fall… Fall into Jesus’ arms. Fall at God’s feet in prayer and worship. Fall on the altar in repentance of the sin that may have gotten you into your mess. Fall before the majesty of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, the only one who can truly rescue. Then simply trust… God’s got you Girl!

20/20 Vision: Drusen

drusen \ ˈdrü-​zən \ – small yellowish deposits of cellular debris that accumulate between the retina and the inner layer of the eyeball, that are typically associated with aging, and that may be a sign of age-related macular degeneration

You may know the word: drusen. We did not, until a recent visit to the eye doctor. Suddenly this word came on our radar as a harbinger of possible bad things to come. If we’d never seen a doctor we would’ve never known there was a problem in the eyes.

When these drusen were discovered in my husband’s eyes, he was met with concern and a scheduled recheck in just a few short months. It is something to keep watch on and to pray never develops into its full potential – macular degeneration.

We understand harbingers of disaster in the world: the signs of approaching foul weather, physical signs that indicate disease in our body, the overdraft notice from our bank that signals financial issues. But do we see the harbingers of approaching spiritual disaster?

There can be drusen forming in man’s spiritual eyes of which we are not aware. Dangerous build-ups of debris (things that ought not be there, debris means trash you know), things that will lead to spiritual blindness and spiritual failure in our lives. What are some of these drusen? Scripture reveals to us many of these signs of impending spiritual failure.

Are our hearts full of spiritual debris?

1. Romans 1 lists a few. Verses 21-23 records these: not glorifying God, not being thankful, futile thinking, being wise in our own eyes, idolatry.

“For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.”

2. Romans 1:25 adds this – exchanging the truth about God for a lie, and worshipping and serving the created rather than the Creator.

“They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised.”

3. And Romans 1:28 heaps on one we all overlook at times – not acknowledging God. How often do we not even acknowledge with a word of thanks what God is doing around us, in us, and through us.

“…they did not see fit to acknowledge God…”

Paul starts a long, laundry list of the consequences of the accumulation of these spiritual drusen in Romans 1:29 where it begins “…they were filled with all manner of unrighteousness…”. It is a slow build-up of this spiritual debris. Verses 29-32 paint a bleak picture of what our lives may come to look like if we allow this trash, these “little things” like not glorifying God, thanklessness, and simply not acknowledging God, to build up and damage our spiritual vision.

4. The book of Proverbs has even more of these signs, too many to even list them all. Here are just a few: not heeding parental instruction, pride, giving in to enticement to sin, greed, foolishness, lack of fear of the Lord, and not listening to the Lords’s counsel and reproof. And those are just in the first chapter! (Prov. 1:8-9, 1:10-18, 1:19, 1:20-27, 1:28-29, 1:30-33.)

The deposits may be building in our spiritual eyes. Our spiritual sight may be in jeopardy. How will we know? By letting the Great Physician examine our hearts. We must bring ourselves into His presence, take in His whole counsel of His Word, and allow His Spirit to find the drusen, heal our spiritual sight, and get us back to health and clear vision.

Press On!

When the valley is deep
When the mountain is steep
When the body is weary
When we stumble and fall

When the choices are hard
When we’re battered and scarred
When we’ve spent our resources
When we’ve given our all

In Jesus’ name, we press on
In Jesus’ name, we press on
Dear Lord, with the prize
Clear before our eyes
We find the strength to press on!

Dear Lord, with the prize
Clear before our eyes
We find the strength to press on!

In Jesus’ name, we press on
In Jesus’ name, we press on
Dear Lord, with the prize
Clear before our eyes
We find the strength to press on!

We find the strength to Press on!

To Press on!

Listen here.

One Little Chapter

Do you ever read through a few verses of the Bible so quickly that when you go away you don’t retain a thing? We all do at times. We read scripture with a laundry list of To-Dos on our minds instead of engaging with the text. The author of How to Read a Book states that a book is like a conversation, you “listen” as you read, ask questions, and seek the answers in such a way that you’ve “heard” the writer speak. A great thought to keep in mind as we approach God’s Word each day. No more rushed conversations as we seek to “finish” our quiet time and dash on to the next thing. Time with the Lord is not something to be “finished.” It is a conversation to be had and a relationship to enjoy!

This morning, let’s treat our time with the Lord like we would a visit with a favorite friend. Grab a cup of coffee (or your favorite beverage). Settle in to your favorite comfy chair. Snuggle up in your favorite soft throw if it’s chilly where you are. And have at hand your Bible, paper, and pen. Get ready for a great conversation! Relax. Chat (pray). Listen attentively.

Turn to John 1. Read these words with fresh eyes – maybe in a less familiar version of the Bible for you. Read as a listener. Jot questions in the margin or on your paper. As you ask a question, listen. No quick answer? Then keep reading, it may come. Talk back to scripture. Prayer is part of that conversation we have, so is journaling, so is listening in your inner man.

Let’s get started together and I’ll bow out and leave the two of you to converse alone.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. All things were created through him, and apart from him not one thing was created that has been created. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. That light shines in the darkness, and yet the darkness did not overcome it. John 1:1-5

~ Wow, Lord! Why is Word capitalized there? We only capitalize names. So I guess that really does mean Jesus as my preacher has said. That makes sense. The Word = Jesus.

~ In the beginning was the Word – And He’s always been. So Jesus you’ve always been, even before you were born as flesh and blood. You were there with God at the Creation of the earth. How can this be, Lord? I have trouble wrapping my mind around the whole concept of eternity and the fact that you have always been. It’s sometimes anxiety-producing for my finite mind to try to grasp eternity.

~ and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. – Not only have you always been Jesus, but you, The Word, “…Was [were] God” from the beginning! How does that work? Will you explain it to us in heaven one day? Because frankly it blows my mind. I’m just gonna trust you with things I don’t understand. But I’d really like to know one day.

~ All things were created through him, and apart from him not one thing was created that has been created. – All things were created through you Jesus, Word of God. All things. Me, mountains, oceans, space… You are limitless, God! It overwhelms me to consider your majesty and power and greatness in this way. Was it hard for you to create some things? I guess not if you spoke them all into being.

~ And if all things were created by you, I guess that means that they are just the way you meant for them to be, right? So my fat nose was supposed to be that way? And my son, who exasperates me but brings laughter to the house, was meant to do just that? Exasperate and bring joy? And mosquitos even have a purpose in your plan? Are you kidding me, Lord?! Surely there is no good purpose for a mosquito!

~ In him was life, and that life was the light of men. – So you not only created life, Jesus, but you ARE life? Life is in you, Jesus – I’m seeing that as I get older. All the home decor, and dressing the kids just so, and going on fancy vacations do not make me feel alive. My true moments of living this life are when I experience your presence! I understand this part, Jesus. It lights up my day when I hear from you in a personal way or you meet a specific need or use me to touch another weary human soul that is made in your image. You really are “the light of men” – and women.

~ That light shines in the darkness, and yet the darkness did not overcome it. – Jesus, sometimes my darkness feels overwhelming. Sometimes I struggle to see your light in my darkness of the mind. Lord, will you remind me in those dark times that your light is there? Will you ignite hope and light in my soul when I don’t have any? I know You always bring me through my depression and worries and dark moments, but sometimes Your light seems hidden from me. Thank you, Jesus, for always being there even when I’m blind to you working in my life situations! I couldn’t make it through the darkness alone. I love that all the darkness can’t overcome you; it can’t beat you. You shine through and win in every situation! Thank you, Jesus! I love you, Lord!

~~~~~~~~~~~~

Now it’s your turn. Starting today, and over the next few days, finish reading through John 1, one verse at a time. Discuss the verses with The Father one by one. Ask questions. Be honest. Listen. Write down what God is saying to you. See what you hear from God today.

Keep the conversation going!

Ask Him

Years ago there was an older woman who sat beside me occasionally in choir named Rochelle. I called her Mrs. Rochelle as we southerners tend to do in respect for anyone more than a couple of years older than we are. I didn’t know her well because we were supposed to practice and not talk too much during choir, but I could tell she was a wise woman who loved the Lord deeply. Our choir was scheduled to sing at a church across town and Mrs. Rochelle needed a ride, so I volunteered to pick her up. Let me tell you, that 20 minute ride became a memorable lesson for me.

I picked Mrs. Rochelle up at the appointed time and we fell into an uplifting conversation almost immediately. Her verbal autobiography was filled with God moments, scriptures, and blessings. She was indeed a mighty woman of God. The most memorable story she shared was about her trip to Walmart the day before.

She had planned to go a few days before. That morning she made out her list and was all dressed and ready to walk out the door when she sensed the Lord telling her not to go that day. So she didn’t. Mrs. Rochelle made sure to point out to me that she listens to the Lord before she does anything. I was pretty impressed. I mean, I prayed and asked God about things too, but it was big things like having another baby or should we go in debt for a new car. But whether to go to Walmart? Nope, I had never even considered praying about that.

As it turned out, Mrs. Rochelle did not make that Walmart run for about 3 days, and then, according to her, the Lord said, “Ok, you can go today,” on that Saturday before our choir adventure. As she was relating the story to me she said, “And you know what? I got to Walmart and everything on my list was on sale that day! And there was another special item I had been wanting to buy that was available, and I could buy it and stay on budget because of the money I saved!” And she glowed with the joy and enthusiasm of the Lord as she told me this story.

That day is still profound in my memory. Do I always pray about whether I should go to Walmart? Sadly, no. But I have learned to seek God in many more of the small things of life. And I have also experienced the Lord surprising me when I take time to seek Him in everyday things. The power of prayer can never be over-estimated, and learning to take ALL things to Him is a lesson we all need to learn.

So I encourage you to check in with God today. See if He wants you to go where you’re headed. Ask if He wants you to say what you plan to say. Pray for His guidance before you jump in and accept or decline a request for teaching or ministry, or quit a job or buy a car. Submit every choice to the leading of the Holy Spirit. “In all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight,” Proverbs 3:6 NIV.

Early Will I Seek You

by guest author Kimberly Hargreaves

O God, You are my God; Early will I seek You; My soul thirsts for You; My flesh longs for You In a dry and thirsty land Where there is no water. Psalm 63:1

This morning I was sitting in the living room praying, reading, and seeking more intimacy with God. Seeking to be ready and willing when He calls me into uncomfortable places. These past several months, He has been waking me up early to get into the word. I know giving Him my first fruits is pleasing and beneficial to Him, and to me. But yall, I struggle with mornings. I am not a morning person at all. I have always been more productive at night. I clean at night, read at night, work at night. I just seem to get more accomplished during those night-time hours.

But I hear Him better in the mornings. My day starts off in the right direction, and I know He is trying to break that night owl spirit within me. So, up I get. As I was sitting here this morning, I eventually heard little feet hit the ground. I heard the door creak open and I knew a little person was about to join me in my quiet time. 

My youngest always comes looking for me in the mornings. I hear those little feet pattering through the house, and I can always tell where he is by the sound of his feet. Whether I’m reading from the back porch, in the living room, or the bedroom, he always finds me. His face lights up and he gives me a sleepy grin. He hops in my lap and cuddles. He is quiet and he listens then. (If you knew my youngest, you’d know this is a big deal.)  He is the sweetest and most receptive during those first morning moments. And that’s when I realized… that’s exactly what God wants from me. 

I’m most receptive in those first morning moments. So, He says, “Come, seek me first. Come to me like a little child. Give me those first morning moments. Dig into my word first. Feel my embrace and rest in my peace.” That morning smile from my boy brings so much joy. How much more pleasing it must be to my Abba when I am obedient in finding Him first, and giving Him my first morning moments. 

Psalm 143:8 “Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you, show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life.”

A Mom for All Seasons

by guest author Kimberly Hargreaves.

I took this picture last year while heading to our first day of CBS. (Sidenote: If you’ve never heard of Community Bible Study, see if there is one in your area! It’s online this year and can do your heart so much good!) I knew when I started, that was exactly where God was leading me to deepen my relationship with Him, and for my boys as well. They would be learning and growing in love right alongside me. I watched as they got ahead of me, noticing the distance of height in between the two. My little one thinks the big one hung the moon. Of course, I had to turn it into a photo opp. I’ve looked back at this photo many times throughout this past year and thought, if someone had once told me that not only would I one day be a stay at home mom, but a homeschooling mom as well, I would have laughed and said “y’all crazy”. 

If I’m being completely honest, being a stay at home mom has never been a desire of mine. I’m pretty ashamed to say that now. There will always be the debate of which role is harder… stay at home mom vs. working mom. Throughout this life I have been in every role of mommin’… teenage mom, divorced mom, single mom, working mom, working/student mom, full time student mom, stay at home mom, and now homeschooling mom. I can honestly say they are ALL hard. Each of them have their own rewards/challenges that the others may not have. 

Life can throw some ugly curve balls and we often find ourselves in positions we never thought we would be in. A few years ago, my family was doing what we thought was best and we had plans and dreams, but somewhere along the way… I forgot who holds my plans and dreams, and what I wanted became bigger. I didn’t cling to my first love and trust that He knew what was best. So when those dreams came crashing down, I was lost because I allowed my identity to become entangled in them. It was a pretty dark and depressing couple of years. But God. He pulled me out of my own self pity and set my paths straight. He welcomed me back. 

I gave Him my complete trust and He gave me new desires. Not my will, Lord, but Yours. We are going into our third year of homeschooling, and for the first time, I know this is exactly where I’m suppose to be in this season. I’m so thankful He took away that desire for the “American dream,” and set an eternal dream on my heart. 

I see these boys and weariness tries to creep in… God, what if they fall? What if they follow their own hearts and not yours? What if they slip away from their first love? And He answers, “Then I’ll chase them down, like I did you.” Friend, if this is you… He is more than willing to set your paths straight as well. Call out to Him, run back to your Abba. He is always there waiting.

Zephaniah 3:17 “The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in His love He will no longer rebuke you; but will rejoice over you with singing.”