Perspective from a Dog’s Eye View

So do not be afraid of them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known.  Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. Matthew 10:26, 29-31

It was first thing Monday morning 4 weeks into my new routine, birds singing their varied songs somewhere in the treetops just off my back deck, a cool breeze soothing the senses, and Pow! The Father dropped a word picture in my life as He often does if I’m looking with spiritual eyes.

I’d come to this new routine by way of a needy, black fur ball, Poppy, a charming little black Markiesje mix that had attached himself to me over these few weeks. A job out of the country for my daughter necessitated finding him a new home. It only made sense he’d come to live with us; he is our “grand dog” after all.

Poppy has quickly trained me to get up as soon as he dances circles on my bed just after sunrise each morning. He yaps and spins incessantly until I roll out of the covers and start talking to him, at which time he bounds to the floor and spins ever more aggressively as I try to throw on some workout pants and a t-shirt. We head to the kitchen with him following me – because one day he went ahead of me and I got side-tracked with laundry on the way to the kitchen – so now he herds me like a sheepdog to the back door.

IMG_7504Mr. Poppy spins ’round by the back door until I open it. When I let him out, he waits looking back at me impatiently, because in a scant 28 days he’s learned my routine: grab a cup and start the Keurig; gather up my Bible, journal, and pen; put cream and sugar in the freshly brewed coffee; and head out to my morning spot at our intricately designed cast aluminum table on the deck.

This particular day I was perched as usual on our deck high above the ground  facing my neighbor’s back yard. Poppy headed down to do his morning business, romp in the wet grass, chase squirrels, and sniff out and dig up moles. It’s a dog’s life!

Well into my cup of coffee, while notating something in my journal, I vaguely noticed a car engine crank up next door. Immediately Poppy sprang to action. Bark-bark-bark! He would eat up whatever the threat was. He dashed to the fence on that side of the yard, ears alert, scampering back and forth trying to get a better view, alarmed and aggressive to protect his domain. He was on flat ground and could not see what was going on. I, however, was 15 feet up with a totally different perspective on the scene. Having a perfect sight line to my neighbor heading out to work, I summed up the scene casually with no worries, while he remained ever vigilant and ever anxious for the next 5 minutes as the neighbor loaded her car and finally pulled out.

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Immediately I saw myself and my heavenly Father in this scene.

Earthbound as I am, I cannot not see and decipher certain earthly events correctly. I hear and experience alarming things that ignite a fear response or cause me to be perplexed and to not understand what is going on. I run my fence and yap at the “problem” just like Poppy. But all the time my Father is on His Heavenly “deck” and has a totally different perspective knowing and understanding things I don’t. He realizes this will pass quickly. It’s just a part of life. A higher perspective changes everything.

Psalm 55_22 Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken..pngAs much as I call Poppy and speak in a calming way to him when he’s upset, he still runs and yaps and gets anxious. And I am much that way with my Abba Father. I’m anxious, alert, wondering if He understands that something big is going on over there. Do I need to jump this fence and do something God? Are you not aware? Why are you just sitting there? What if this lasts forever? What am I supposed to do? Aren’t you going to do something, Lord?

Nothing. 

Many times that is my answer, just as it is with my sweet Poppy.

Nothing.

Poppy just needs to relax and keep chasing squirrels and having a good doggie day. And me? I also need to relax, to cast my cares on the Lord and just keep doing the things he gave me to do, being the one he made me to be, and walking faithfully through the unknown.

But that is not what we humans like to do.

We like to yap (complain), run the fence (go through life in a tizzy as we say here in Alabama), rankle our fur and perk up our ears (become obsessed with our issue), become alarmed, bark at people closest to us (out of fear no doubt), and aggressively try to protect our domain. All of these are signs of my lack of faith.

If Poppy could listen and understand my ways, trust them, and believe me to be true to my word to love and care for him, he could relax and not rile himself. As can we. The next time you find yourself in the midst of the Barking Dog Syndrome, turn to your Heavenly Father who is on deck, aware, and has it all in hand. Listen to Him. Seek to understand His ways. Trust Him. Take Him at His word that He loves you. He cares for you. Relax! No need to be riled up.

Cast all your cares on him, because he cares about you. 1 Peter 5:7
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Labor Day: 7 Lessons on Laboring

According to the “History of Labor Day” at the U.S. Department of Labor website, (and in case you are curious)…

“Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.”

A quick search on Bible Gateway reveals several verses about labor. The following is a quick and easy reminder list for Christians to make sure we are looking at labor from Our Creator’s perspective.

1. WORK HARD 
Scripture reminds us to work hard, doing honest work, to provide for ourselves and to be able to share with those truly in need.

Psalm 128:2 – “You shall eat the fruit of the labor of your hands; you shall be blessed, and it  shall be well with you.”

Ephesians 4:28 – “Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need.”

2. LABOR FOR THE LORD
Our Father has plans for us, jobs for us to do. Just as the Israelites built the temple and walls under God’s direction, we each have building projects the Lord has for us to do. Are we also willing to work faithfully despite the opposition?

Nehemiah 4:16-17 “And the leaders stood behind the whole house of Judah, who were building on the wall. Those who carried burdens were loaded in such a way that each labored on the work with one hand and held his weapon with the other.”

As long as we have breath, our Father has a job, a purpose for us here on Earth.

Philippians 1:21-22 “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell.”

Our main job here on earth is spreading the gospel. We may have “day jobs” but this mission should be the focus of our lives once we come to know Christ.

1 Thessalonians 2:9 “For you remember, brothers, our labor and toil: we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, while we proclaimed to you the gospel of God.”

Matthew 28:19-20 (ESV) “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

3. DON’T LABOR IN VAIN
Labors that are not done according to God’s Word, for His glory, and by the Spirit’s  inspiration are useless. We choose wisely when we let go of earthly distractions and focus on God’s purposes and His leading.

Psalm 127:1 “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.”

1 Corinthians 15:58 “Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.”

4. WORKERS ARE NEEDED
When we came into a relationship with Christ, that relationship came with a mandate to make disciples as we were going through life. Are we doing this job we were given? Are we praying for others that are working with us? Why then are the laboreres few? If the spread of the Gospel totally depended on you today, then how is the mission going?

Matthew 9:37-38 “Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few, therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”

5. WE EACH HAVE A PART TO PLAY AND WE WON’T ALWAYS SEE THE FINISHED PRODUCT.
As we’ve said, our main labor in life is spreading the Gospel of the love of Jesus to a dying world. We can’t let ourselves get discouraged when we share this message of hope and people reject it. An old song examines the idea that it could take 15 times of someone hearing about Jesus before they come to Him. We would do well to keep this in mind. These scriptures point out clearly that we each have a job to do, but the results lie in the hands of the Father.

John 4:38 “I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.”

1 Corinthians 3:5-9 “What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building.”

6. DON’T GET WEARY.
Laboring is hard. It is time consuming. It is not always fun. Some days it seems like a useless, endless task, as moms of toddlers can testsify – toys never stay picked up, laundry is never done, and spills happen endlessly. But it is worth it. Take this challenge from scripture on the days it is ovewhelming doing what God has called you to do.

Galatians 6:9 “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

7. REST –
This busy society values leisure, but the averge person seldom allows themselves true rest. God rested after His 6 days of creation. Likewise, a sabbath of rest each week is important for each of us, and not just a day off to clean house or catch up on projects, but a time to renew our relationship with Jesus, rest our weary bodies, and focus our priorities. A time to lay those spirtual and emotional burdens down before the Father. This is a necessary life skill to learn as we journey through this world and wait for the true rest Jehovah has for us in our immortal life with Him.

Deuteronomy 5:13-14 “Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work.”

Matthew 11:28 “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

Revelation 14:13 “And I heard a voice from heaven saying, ‘Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.’ ‘Blessed indeed,’ says the Spirit, ‘that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!’ ”

So this Labor Day let’s commit to working hard, laboring for the Lord, not in vain, but being the worker and praying for more workers, doing our part, not growing weary, and learning to truly rest.

 

The Journey: Detours

A persons’ steps are directed by the Lord. How then can anyone understand their own way? Proverbs 20:24

auto-automobile-automotive-244822A few years back, when GPS was still in its infancy and definitely before cars had them built-in, we took a long family trip to upstate New York. Quite a ways from dear ole Birmingham, Alabama. Because we’d be traveling so far and through areas unfamiliar to us, we purchased a GPS for our vehicle.

The morning of the trip, we plugged in our destination with great excitement over both  the trip and the new gadget. We settled in for the long drive and enjoyed the novelty of this gadget telling us to take a left or a right on roads here in town that were quite familiar to us. The kids loved the digitalized female voice of this new technology, and they especially enjoyed hearing her peculiar way of pronouncing words familiar to them.  “Field-stone” road instead of Fieldstown. “At-Tall-a” for Attalla, Alabama. We giggled at the “Make a U-turn” and “Recalculating” comments “she” made if we happened to take a familiar road other than the one the program directed us to take. And it was a good diversion seeing our little arrow progressing on the map; it cut out a lot of the “Are we there yet?” questions.

We managed well with our new tour guide through Tennessee and Kentucky, roads with which we were semi-familiar. But somewhere past the state line of Maryland or through Pennsylvania or New York, things got interesting. We were now in totally foreign territory, relying solely on our newly purchased “friend” for directions.

“In one mile take exit #____.”

What? We had believed we would be on Interstate the whole way until within an hour or so of our destination. After a quick, nervous discussion between mom & dad, we road-closed-2698182_1280hesitantly got off the interstate as directed. We immediately encountered traffic, wove our way on a curvy 2-lane road, got delayed by local road repairs, and an hour or so later, found ourselves getting back on the interstate less than 20 miles from where we’d gotten off! We never knew if the path we took had been the best or not, never determined if there had been a wreck or a road closure, or nothing at all that caused our grand detour. We simply trusted the “expert,” the machine, and as my husband likes to say, “It is what it is.”

But now we were back on track! We’d just be an hour or so later than we’d expected. Excitement was mounting, new scenery, new adventures, and we were almost there. Soon we reached our exit and knew we were within an hour of our “home” for the week.

And then… “Recalculating.” What? Again? We had specific directions sent from the place we were staying, but our “expert” was again challenging the path we were taking. This time we decided to go with the printed directions provided by a human rather than trusting the computer voice. This provided a fun ending for the journey as we watched our car icon on the digital map travel through a field and heard the voice continuously telling us to “Return to the road.” We actually were traveling on a real road, it just hadn’t been loaded into the map’s memory. We needed a system update.

We reached our cabin on the Ausable River before dark and had a glorious, restful week of vacation. We’ll never forget the trip. But what does that story have in it for you?

Spiritual Lessons From the Detour:

God has a good plan for our lives. If we trust that He loves us and will see us through, then we don’t have to fear any detour we take. He is on the detour with us. And might I add, He is much more reliable than my electronic tour guide. So relax! Enjoy the journey!

Don’t get caught up in “what ifs” and “if onlys.” Our trip could have been ruined by the seemingly useless, time-wasting detour, but we will never know how much worse it could have been if we had stayed on the interstate. And so it is with life. We must trust that God allows even the tough stuff in our lives for a reason. We tend to react to inconvenience or negative occurrences with a whiny, pessimistic attitude. The thing is we will never know what we were protected from, prepared for, or relieved of by that detour happening at that inconvenient time. So just let it go!

Trust God’s written directions for life – His Word. “Experts” in this world will try to tell us where they think we should be going. Society at large will proclaim “truths” they have determined we all need to accept. Well meaning friends will question our God-given directives because they don’t understand. But as with my GPS friend’s directions, if these words of advice go against the written directions of The One who really knows (The Bible), we need to ignore them and keep following our Heavenly Father on the new road He has made for us, even when non-Christian logic sees us as wandering in a field.

Follow God’s guidance in familiar territory as well as unfamiliar. We followed closely the words of our GPS on those unfamiliar roads, but often ignored it and chose the street we wanted on paths we regularly traveled. The same happens in our Christian walk. We know our desperate need for God in the unfamiliar, scary times, so we follow Him closely. But in the mundane day-to-day life we sometimes cease to walk in faith and obedience. Our attitude is like, “I got this God. Don’t need you right now. I’ll get back to you and your word when the next crisis hits.”

God’s Detours are worthwhile. While they may include hurdles to overcome, pitfalls to avoid, or tension in our chest as we face the unknown, detours are worth it. We meet new people, see new and exciting things, learn to trust our Creator, grow our faith muscle, and come away from the experience with a wealth of new wisdom we wouldn’t have gotten were it not for taking that detour.

Make a U-turn when necessary. Sometimes we need to take a hard look at the direction we’re heading in life, do a little recalculating, and make a U-turn. That’s a spiritual principle. It’s called repentance.

Remember… You are not alone on this journey. Dont worry. Trust His word. Follow Him daily. Embrace the detours. Let’s trust the real GPS – God’s Positioning System – to get us to where He wants us to be, through all the detours of life. Enjoy the journey!

In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps. Proverbs 16:9

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A Community of Sequoias

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Years ago a family vacation out west landed us in the middle of some of the largest living organisms on this earth, the Giant Sequoias, Sequoiadendron giganteum. They really are an awe-inspiring marvel of God’s creation. (And yes, I know we over-use the word “awe,” but it is indeed appropriate here in its truly unique sense.) These noble goliaths are the world’s largest single trees with a height of up to 279 feet. That’s about as tall as a football field is long! Just 7 yards short. Not only is their heavenward reach staggering, the bole (trunk) of these massive trees can grow to be thicker than the Great Wall of China is tall, having widths of up to 26 feet. Our whole family of 6 joining hands couldn’t even reach around them. It’s really incomprehensible if you’ve never seen them in real life, kind of like Niagara Falls. Standing beside one of these giants, a phrase from an old song sung by The Regeneration came to my mind: “How small we are, how little we know.” (The line comes from a very profound poem written by Earl Wilson, Jr., which you’ll find printed at the end of this article.)

On our trip, following a short car ride from El Capitan to the Mariposa Grove, we were able to stroll among these 500 or so ancient, towering plants. The kids couldn’t control their exclamations and observations, but neither could mom and dad. We read all the plaques placed throughout the wooded hillsides which labeled them with specified height-diameter-circumference as well as other pertinent information, historic significance, and often names given to them by park rangers or visitors.

As you might imagine, 500 of these giants took up many acres of land, so we chose to do the suggested guided tour to see more of the area than we were willing to trek through on foot with our kids. The ride was informative as well as beautiful, not to mention scary, as a thunderstorm rolled through while we were on the tour, but that’s a story for another day. We learned so many more things from the studied tour guide than we had picked up by viewing exhibits and reading signs. The most powerful and memorable fact for me had to do with the sequoias’ roots.

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Adults all realize the purpose of roots for all plants is to take in water and minerals from the soil. We understand that the roots anchor the tree in storms, and the Giant Sequoias’ roots are no exception. There are some amazing differences in the roots of these gargantuan trees that set them apart from most other trees. They have relatively shallow roots for their size, averaging only 5 feet in-depth underground. The roots are also far-reaching, commonly extending 100 feet from the bole and covering as much as 1-4 acres! Shocking, I know. Especially when you are standing among them or looking at pictures of a grove of these redwoods. The eye observes and the mind contemplates their proximity to one another and instinctively realizes that the individual trees do not stand an acre apart. So what’s going on?

Roots of these massive plant creatures intertwine. Underneath the soil each Giant Sequoia’s roots lengthen and spread and weave their way among other roots branching out and intertwining. Each individual tree’s roots may spread and intertwine with many other individual’s roots spreading out through their plot of growth. They form a subterranean network.

Even more amazing is a natural process they go through called “root grafting.” In root grafting these tangled roots rub against each other, their root bark rubs off, and over time the roots grow and fuse together offering stability in the winds and a sharing of primary resources and secondary compounds produced by the trees themselves. They become interdependent, helping one another out.

As our tour guide gave us his rehearsed description and explanation of the roots of these sequoias, I was overcome with excitement. My mind immediately went to community. To not just this grove of trees, this community, but to community within the body of Christ.

community - a group of organisms orliving and interacting with one another in a particualr environment. The organisms in a community affect each other's abundance, distribution, and adaptation.pngWe toss the word community around these days in an off-hand way. It’s a buzzword for this generation. We’ve trivialized it to the point it’s just a grandiose word for your group of friends, those you hang out and socialize with. We want to be a part of the forest and still be our own individual tree. We want to be accepted and included and involved (when we’re not too busy!), but we don’t want the responsibility of reciprocating that acceptance and inclusion and involvement in the lives and problems of others. We sacrifice relationships and the community that is built when we screen our calls to avoid that difficult encounter or manipulate a social setting to our liking.

But Biblical community calls us to much more. Biblical community is very much like a stand of Giant Sequoias. In Biblical community we are each individuals, but our roots are linked and intertwined by choice. We grow together through the mundane, the devastation, and the wearying, as well as through the joys, triumphs, and successes. We are each growing and using our own roots, but we’re there to sustain, strengthen and hold up our fellows in community during the blustery storms that threaten us. We affect each other. We distribute to those within the community so that needs are met. We help one another adapt and learn and become a stronger tree. The concept of Biblical community is woven throughout the Apostle Paul’s writings, but is summed up nicely in the following verses:

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. Philippians 2:3-4

Biblical community involves looking out for the interests of others. Helping stabilize them when the storms come by praying, encouraging, serving, coming alongside them. Sharing resources from my root to yours and yours to mine, mentoring, tutoring, feeding, financing, hugging, teaching, carrying, loving.

We are small. We are interdependent. We long to be the mighty Sequoiadendron giganteum of the world who stand strong, intertwined, sharing roots and resources, pointing men to God!

 

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How Small We Are How Little We Know

We laugh, we cry,
We live, we die,
and when we’re gone, the world goes on.
We love, we hate, we learn too late,
How small we are, how little we know.

We hear, we touch, we talk too much,
of things we have no knowledge of.
We see, we feel,
yet can’t conceal,
How small we are, how little we know.

See how the time moves swiftly by,
We don’t know how, we don’t know why.

We reach so high, and fall so low,
The more we learn, the less we know.

Too soon the time to go will come,
Too late the will to carry on,
And so we leave too much undone,
How small we are how little we know.

~ Earl Wilson, Jr. ~

The Journey: The Road Less Traveled

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How do you want to be remembered? Boil it down to one sentence – what you would like people to say about you?

Why don’t you write that down in a journal or your planner, or put it in the Notes app on your phone.

Make it a goal.

Often we wander through life thinking things will turn out the way we want while living in a way that prevents that. The road you take in life determines your destination, both literally and metaphorically. You won’t get to New York by taking the road to Atlanta. Nor will you live a life of character while taking the path of sin and compromise. So if you really do have an image of what you’d like to have said about you, are you living in a way to make that become a reality?

If a person’s goal was to be on the Fortune 500 list there would be many steps to take to achieve that: education, training, starting your business, making sound decisions for your company, hiring the right people, and keeping up to date in your field. If you set out to accessories-adult-blur-935943become National Teacher of the Year that would require development as well. It would mean getting the proper education and training. It would also require development in specific areas: classroom management and organizational skills, understanding children and learning styles, getting continuing education and National Board certification, and mastering the dynamics of being a highly contributing, highly respected part of a faculty.

Likewise, if your goal is to be a godly mom, a faithful servant of the Father, a shining light for Christ in your company, or whatever, it doesn’t just happen. It starts with a choice: the choice of committing to Christ above all things. That is followed by more intentional choices including studying God’s Word, pursuing mentoring or training, and taking any other particular steps that would lead you to become the woman you hope to be. It would mean choosing a different path in life, one that would lead people to say of you, “She was a worshipper of God and her heart was open to the Lord,” as scripture says of Lydia in Acts 16:14, or “She was always doing good works and acts of charity,” as Luke says of Dorcas in Acts 9:36, or “I commend her to you. She is a servant of the church and a benefactor of many,” as Paul said of Phoebe in Romans 16:1-2.

The following line by Robert Frost may be one of the most well-known lines of poetry of any American author, and it has been interpreted by many.

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

As we think today of our life, our goals and wishes, it would serve us well to recall this brief line of poetry and to ask ourselves some questions.

In light of what I wrote down a few minutes ago about how I’d like to be remembered, am I on the path that would lead to that being said about me?

If I want a Godly, noble, upright outcome, then am I choosing the path that leads to that?

Is the path I am currently taking today preparing me for what I want to become?

Am I on the path I am today because it is the well-traveled path and I can’t shake the insecure neediness of being like everyone else?

Am I too fearful to choose the path “less traveled by?”

Am I willing to try a better path starting today?

~~~~~

Frost was correct. The path we are on does make all the difference. God’s word said the same thing hundreds of years before Frost did. It says:

Choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. Joshua 24:15 ESV

          There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.                      Proverbs 14:12 ESV

Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. Matthew 7:13-14 NIV

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Today we have a choice. We can choose to follow along with other sheep happily wandering around the pasture with no direction and no leadership. This is a well-worn, wide path. Or we can choose to follow the Shepherd closely, staying right at His side, listening to His every word, obeying His every command, and making choices that lead us to the lofty goal we desire. It won’t happen in a day, a month, or even a year. But we will find ourselves growing toward that goal of godliness, holiness, and wisdom year by year. So here is the choice:

This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Deuteronomy 30:19-20 NIV

What do you choose? What will be said of you when you come to the end of your path of life? Will you take the narrow way, the road less traveled? It will make all the difference.

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My Chains Are Gone

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I stand singing to the top of my voice, the sound weak, quivery, and tear-filled. I am overwhelmed by the freedom I have found in Jesus Christ.

My chains are gone. I’ve been set free.
My God, my Savior has ransomed me.
And like a flood His mercy reigns,
Unending love, amazing grace.

It has taken years, but this song is now real to me. I know a freedom in Christ that I’ve wished for these many years. I speak now to you words I wish someone had spoken to me. Perhaps they did and I simply couldn’t comprehend.

I am now in the autumn of my life, (umm, let’s say late summer) and I wish I had taken hold of this freedom in Christ years ago. I grieve for clinging to my chains so long. I see that while I am set free, I have permanent marks left by the chains I’ve worn for so long.

So my encouragement to you today is in 4 parts.

  1. Turn loose of those chains. Christ came to die for our sins and set us free. We may pray to accept Him as our savior at a fairly young age, but we often hold onto the old bad habits, guilt, shame, and sin. Let it go! It’s your choice. Satan will tell you You can’t. You’re not worthy. You’re bad. You’ll never change. What will people think? Do it later. Let go of those chains that bind us!
  2. Ignore the enemy’s lies. Becoming a new woman in Christ and walking in faith requires self-control not only of our actions but also of our minds. Speak the truth of scripture in your heart to combat those fiery darts the evil one throws. Consciously reject those lies and speak truth.
  3. Choose to change today. Don’t waste the years of your life living in fear and defeat. It is a choice. “Choose you today whom you will serve…” (Joshua 24:15 NIV) Choose and act now. There are ramifications on our lives for years to come if we do not choose to walk forward with Christ in freedom.
  4. Look forward to what God has for you, not back on all your failures and regrets. We cannot change our past. But when we walk into the future with faith in Jesus, He will redeem all things even when we see no imaginable way. “For nothing is impossible with God!” (Luke 1:37 ESV) Things from our past can be set right, renewed, restored, and made whole. “Forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13-14 NIV)

The Lord has promised good to me.
His Word my hope secures.
He will my shield and portion be,
As long as life endures.

I hope you receive these words and act on them. You won’t regret it. Blessings!

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So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. John 8:36 ESV

My Chains Are Gone – Chris Tomlin

 

Here Comes the Bride!

The chapel is booked. The perfect dress has been purchased. Fresh flowers have been ordered. The cake design is set. Decorations are ready to be hung and set out. Yummy delicacies to share with guests are ordered. All is prepared for the wedding.

Throughout the waiting time the bride has shed a few stress-induced tears. Each time her comment is the same: “I don’t want to have to worry about all this, I just want to be married to the one I love!”

Her eye is only for her Beloved! He holds her focus. The rest of the world fades away when he speaks. She longs for the day that she will be his forever.

Going through this wedding preparation makes me think deeply about being the Bride of Christ.

Do I look longingly and lovingly for the day I, along with the entire church on this Earth, become the Bride of Christ?

Do I think of my love all day and anticipate what would make him happy?

Do I adorn myself and prepare myself to be the best possible person for my Jesus?

Do I sit with Him hanging on His every word and sharing my heart with My Love?

Do I spend the resources, take the time, and throw all my energy into planning my life with my Beloved Jesus?

Do  I long for time to be with Him as a bride-to-be longs for her fiancé?

It’s very easy for us to say we love Christ. It’s very easy to enjoy saying we are His fiancé. But we would think it very peculiar if a young lady never spent time with her fiance or never prepared herself for her wedding. Perhaps we should examine our heart and consider our engagement with our heavenly Bridegroom.

The Kingdom of Heaven can be illustrated by the story of ten bridesmaids who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. But only five of them were wise enough to fill their lamps with oil, while the other five were foolish and forgot. So, when the bridegroom was delayed, they lay down to rest until midnight, when they were roused by the shout, ‘The bridegroom is coming! Come out and welcome him!’ All the girls jumped up and trimmed their lamps. Then the five who hadn’t any oil begged the others to share with them, for their lamps were going out. “But the others replied, ‘We haven’t enough. Go instead to the shops and buy some for yourselves.’ But while they were gone, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was locked. Matthew 25:1-10 TLB

Grab His love letter to you and read it until your heart is full! Listen to His words of love to you. Pour out your heart to Him. Sit and rest in the embrace of the Lover of Your soul.

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Graduation

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Ah, May! Such a beautiful time of year, yet moms everywhere are teary and struggling. Their baby is graduating and leaving home!

Graduation is a time of great joy and excitement. It’s a beginning, not an end. The term for the graduation event is a “commencement” ceremony. Commencement means beginning. So why do parents moms everywhere see it as an end, a devastating loss?

It’s interesting that dads (for the most part) don’t have the same emotional reaction that many moms do. Dads grasp the idea of sending that 18-year-old off on a big adventure. They look forward to what’s to come for that young adult and for their own life. Common conversation among dads of graduates includes phrases like “one more off the payroll,” “if I can get this one through college…” or “just me and the bride in the empty nest.”

accomplishment-ceremony-daytime-1036626.jpgAs the emotional heart of the home, many moms get caught up in the feelings of discouragement, sad reminiscence, or finality. While not all moms react so sentimentally, for those that do it can bring on a period of grief and an awareness of loss. Loss of a dear relationship with that child as they move miles away. Loss of an identity as a mom. The loss of one’s own life – time has passed as the child has grown slowly, and now suddenly moms of graduates have a keen awareness of mortality and the shorter amount of time ahead on the timeline in comparison to what has gone before.

Our comfort and instruction for moving on and living is found in Philippians 3:7-14.

But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 

It’s time to put these truths into practice.

  1. Count all things loss for the sake of Christ.
  2. Press on to lay hold of that which Christ has for us.
  3. Forget what lies behind.
  4. Reach forward to what lies ahead.
  5. Press on toward the goal – go after the prize!

Sweet mom of a grown up child, rejoice! Rejoice in this new beginning for your offspring.  Rejoice in the new phase of life Jesus is bringing to you. You are blessed. Shed a sentimental tear or two if you must, then put it behind you and Press On! The best is yet to come!

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Woman! You Are Loved!

woman-1195276_1280.pngFrizzy hair.

Stretch marks.

Overweight.

Lost a job.

No ring on the left hand.

Rebellious kids.

No kids.

Sin.

Financial ruin.

Failure.

We women tend to be hard on ourselves. Most all of us have considered something in our life an Epic Fail.

Oh Sweet One! You are not the sum of your physical flaws, your relational stumbles, your sins and failures, your finances, and your children’s mistakes.

You are created in the image of God! You are a cherished daughter of the Creator of the universe, a unique soul made for a unique purpose here on earth. You are THE ONE Christ died for; if you had been the only one, he would have gone to that cross just for you. You are a rare jewel with unique assets and flaws.

As we celebrate and honor all Mothers today, celebrate yourself as a woman.

God loves you.

He chose you.

He knows you and accepts you despite those things you don’t love yourself for.

I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore I have drawn you with lovingkindness.” Jeremiah 31:3

I challenge you to choose something good for today… to relax… to let go… to forgive yourself or another… to talk kindly to yourself as you would speak to a cherished friend… to not compare yourself to a soul on earth… to count your blessings… to immerse yourself in God’s word… to serve someone out of love… to live fully and bask in God’s love… maybe even to stay off social media – give yourself a positive break!

Enjoy something just for yourself for 15 minutes be it music or a bubble bath or a phone call to a friend, a walk or a cupcake or some flowers.

Celebrate your unique life handmade by Jehovah Himself

and loved by the Father!

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A little video to remind you of how to look at yourself!

The Journey: Wheelbarrow Rides

Squeals of fear and delight erupted as my husband pushed our grandkids around the yard in the wheelbarrow. It was a simple, spring Saturday, reminiscent of those I’d had myself as a child – the kind of day that is becoming scarce in the busy-ness of 21st Century life. The smiles were ear-to-ear one moment followed by tight lips, big startled eyes and death grips the next. It was a great day full of fun! After baths, we were all  worn out and settled in to sleep by 8:30pm. Life the way it’s supposed to be.

Isn’t that how life is on this journey with Father God?

One moment were squealing with delight, pure joy, thrilled at the ride Our Lord has taken us on. Then in a heartbeat we’re gripping tightly onto anything around us, caught off guard, feeling as if danger lurks around the next corner, not liking it at all that we are not in control.

We adults need some tips for our wheelbarrow ride with Jesus!

  1. Hang on tight – You’re not in control! Hanging on is fine as long as we grab onto the right thing. “You, God, are my God,… I cling to you;” (Psalm 63:8) Our job in any of the thrills or chills of life is to cling to the Father. Hang on and trust Him. He’s got it! It doesn’t seem like it sometimes. That wheelbarrow may seem like it’s about to tip over. He may not always take us where we want to go. He’s in control. And he’s got a great ride planned for us, if we can relax and trust him.
  2. Praise the Lord! Squeal out loud! Tell everyone around you in loud, excited tones. Don’t hold back. We adults tend to fret over being too exuberant, sounding arrogant, or looking weird to others. Get over it! Psalm 63:3-4 says, “Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands.” The psalmist was unafraid to declare the blessings, joy, and praises of his life. We should be as well.
  3. Remember God’s omnipotent power & majestic glory! Psalm 63:2 “I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory.” When we feel we’re about to “tump” over in that wheelbarrow, fear is a natural reaction for a moment. However, that fear should spur us to dig in the Word and pour out the prayer. In His Word we’ll see His power over illness, nature, demons, even death. We serve a powerful God who can do what He says in His word He can do. With Him NOTHING is impossible. As we read and pray and allow ourselves to fully believe, our faith is strengthened, the anxiety subsides. We’ll be able to say through the tears “I really don’t like this Lord. But I love you and trust you. I know you’re strong enough to handle this. I’m just afraid you’re going to allow something painful in my life. I’m yours. Lord. I love you no matter what.”
  4. Enjoy the ride! Be satisfied in what the Father has provided for us! Psalm 63:5-7 “I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you. On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night. Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings.” The night after the wheelbarrow ride we had a yummy dinner on the deck. PapaSto grilled hamburgers and hotdogs on the deck. And the boys did go to bed with singing on their lips. (It was the PJ Masks theme song as they lay down watching it before they went to sleep – but still… their was joy in their little hearts.) And we adults can feast on what He provides for us and lay down in joy to sweet sleep as well.
  5. Long for those precious times with Your Father! When “Da Boyz” – my grandkids as my husband calls them – are not with their Granddaddy, they miss him. They miss all he does with them and for them. They miss his love and hugs. They miss his Saturday morning breakfasts and grilling out and ice cream sandwiches. They miss bike rides, mountain climbs, camping trips, and wheelbarrow rides among other things. When we see them during the week and it’s not a night they are coming to spend the night with Gigi, they always beg to come over. They know PapaSto will have something good planned. And we should have that hope and joy in our Heavenly Father! Verse 1 of Psalm 63 says, “You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water.” Just as we long for those simple, sweet days of childhood past, a part of us longs for what was lost back in the Garden of Eden through the curse of sin. We long for joy without pain, the knight in shining armor to sweep in and rescue us, and a life of beauty and peace instead of the chaos and the mundane that mark our lives. I sometimes find myself retreating from these thoughts of What if sin had never entered the world? and What if life were beautiful and uncomplicated as when God first created the Garden? Somehow those thoughts seem sad to think. But in reality we need to hope for life the way it was meant to be. We need to dwell on the promise of a New Heaven and New Earth. Hope in a forever with Jesus strengthens us to walk through this life, so spend some time contemplating your future hope. Allow yourself to long to be with your Heavenly Daddy, to long for Paradise Lost to be regained!
  6. Remember that our Father will protect and defend. Psalm 63:9-11 says, “Those who want to kill me will be destroyed; they will go down to the depths of the earth. They will be given over to the sword and become food for jackals. But the king will rejoice in God; all who swear by God will glory in him, while the mouths of liars will be silenced.” When those little munchkins are riding with their Granddaddy, they are never afraid of strangers or robbers or bad guys. They have no doubt that their Papa would defend them, lay down his life for them, and keep them safe. We can rest in our Daddy in the same way. God is on your side.

We often feel we have to push and strive and make our way in this world. But really we are God’s own children riding in that wheelbarrow. He’s the one directing us and doing the work to get us through. So as you ride through the joys and terrors of life, never forget who is pushing the wheelbarrow.

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