Seeing Through the Obstacles

A lake retreat brings God’s lessons.

The house was beautiful. Decorated like those in a magazine with the latest touches from the Pinterest boards. Plenty of bedrooms, windows overlooking the lake, and a dock perfect for jumping off of into the refreshing waters. But my favorite part was the huge deck that stretched the length of the back of the house. And being a writer, my favorite place on that deck was at the charming wrought iron bistro table with my back to the windows, my Apple in front of me, and a panoramic view of the deep green waters. There, each day, I spread out God’s word and my journal and leisurely visited with my Abba.

Almost immediately there was a fly in my ointment so to speak. (But even those flies carry lessons!)

My table, appropriately located in a cozy nook beside the door and just outside the kitchen window, had one drawback. A large red oak had, years ago as a little acorn, made his home about 8 feet from me, directly in front of my favorite chair looking off the deck toward the lake. Now he was a big old boy, probably 2 feet in diameter, that blocked a large chunk of my lake view. With the door and porch railing hemming me in, there was really no place to move the table that would make a big difference. Adirondack chairs had their place on the other side of the door, so it was my opportunity to enjoy the blessing in spite of an imperfection.

As I sat watching my kids jumping off the pier that second afternoon, leaning this way and that to see them well around the tree as they floated off on tubes this way, or kayaked around that way, enlightenment came. God did what He so often does with me, He made a lesson out of the mundane and the annoying.

As I stood up and moved toward the railing to call to them for some reason, I realized a truth: the closer I was to that obstacle (the tree) the more of my view it blocked. And the antithesis of that: the further I drew away from the obstacle, the more clear my view was of the reality around me.

My spirit stirred. I suddenly was aware of the spiritual ramifications of this lesson from the physical world. We humans frequently have obstacles come into our lives. Whether it is the relatively minor getting a head cold the day you have a big presentation at work, a larger obstacle like having your taxes audited, or a really huge life issue such as a serious illness or tragedy. We tend to see these obstacles as material, physical world problems, but they greatly impact our spiritual walk.

As we face the larger obstacles, we become just like I was with my tree. We are consumed with the big thing in front of us, and not with the rest of God’s plan being carried out beyond that. We can sit in a ladies Bible study, so inwardly focused that we miss tuning in to God’s great plan going on around us. We can stay cooped up in our homes staring at that “tree” of grief in front of us and not be aware of the beauty of the “lake” just beyond us. We may verbally gripe so much about our current obstacle tree, that the only words that escape our lips are negative, bitter, sour words of disappointment and fear. And we may even hide behind our obstacle tree, because we are so used to that ongoing obstacle in our lives, it becomes easier just to live hidden behind it than to make the effort to reach out to the world beyond, despite our obstacle.

So what’s a girl to do? We all have problems.

First, get some distance on that tree whenever possible. When you are staring down that problem a foot away from you every day, it looms huge in your line of vision blocking the majority of what you see. Granted, we have huge obstacles crop up, but we don’t have to give them the central place in our lives and cozy up to them. Just as when I stepped back on the porch I could see more of the lake, when we step back from those obstructions we see more of the world beyond our difficult situation. A rebellious teen in the house? Accept the husband’s offer of a get-away. Finished that chemo and waiting on results of scans? A family celebration or second honeymoon trip might be a good choice. Your best friend is in financial crisis? Offer them your home free for the weekend for a romantic vacation while you are on that road trip to visit the in-laws. Find creative ways to give yourself (or others) a bit of distance from those besetting hindrances and the perspective and refreshment that come with distance.

Second, look beyond. God is carrying out a good plan all around us. If you can’t pull away for a while from troubling issues to get some perspective, then refocus your outlook, and start looking at the part of that view beyond that tree that you can see. The world is carrying on around you, and God has a role for you in that world as long as you are breathing – problems or not! Invest your life in God’s plans beyond your problem. When we invest in others, both are blessed.

Third, examine that tree. It’s just a tree. One with dead leaves and bark and ants crawling on it. It may be a 100 foot tall, 2 feet in diameter tree, but it’s still just a tree, a created thing. It’s just an obstacle. Nothing is impossible with God. Because of fear maybe, have we mentally made that obstacle more mighty than the Creator? He is still in control. He is not surprised by that tree being there; He saw that little acorn fall there and plant itself before we ever had an inkling we’d even be in the same neighborhood as that tree, maybe even before we were born. The good news: He has the axe necessary to get rid of that tree!

Fourth, move to one side. Look at your tree from a different angle. Could your parent’s diagnosis of Alzheimer’s be a blessing to draw you two to spend time together in their later years? Could your broken heart over that rebellious teen prepare you to minister to other broken hearts you encounter along the way? Could that car wreck bring a hidden blessing? Could this trial be drawing you back to prayer? Obstacles, in some way, have God’s hidden blessing and glory tucked behind them. He is active in your life. So get a different perspective on that tree and see what good God may be bringing along with it.

Fifth, pray in faith for God to chop it down. There’s never harm in asking God to remove obstacles from our lives. Jesus did that the night before He was crucified; ” ‘Abba, Father,’ he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” (Mark 14:36 NIV) That last statement gets us! Are we willing to live with that obstacle always there if God chooses NOT to remove it? He’s got a good plan for us. And He’s got the axe… remember?

IMG_5875And last, see the good in that tree. Count your blessings. My tree has a cheerful little squirrel who chatted with me every day of my vacation and a gorgeous green canopy that shaded me from the heat of the afternoon sun. It’s massive presence reminded me of the strength and stability of the Father, and it’s leaves offered pleasant whispers in the breeze. Your obstacle has hidden blessings too. Maybe it restores a broken relationship, brings a new friend into your life, humbles you, makes you sit still and enjoy the moments more, changes the direction of your child’s life, or causes you to listen and understand new life lessons. God is using it in your life.

So let us not grow so focused on the negative. Yes, bad things happen, but like a diamond, they are many faceted, and may have hidden treasures bound up with them. Are we embracing the spiritual lessons that come our way through the pain? Are we consumed with the Father, or are we consumed with the fear, dread, confusion, doubts, and what ifs of this obstacle? Are we angry or tender-hearted? Let us look with spiritual eyes to really see – to look beyond that obstacle!

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

Sign Post

Sometimes I need a sign. Like a for reals, written on the wall kind of sign. In the moments when I am not looking for them is when they find me and are most beneficial pexels-photo-66100to me. Sometimes I find myself searching for them more than I do the One who gives them. In those times I have to back up and regain my perspective. I have on occasion had a sign intervention. Like the time, when I was 9 month pregnant with a baby that was the fulfillment of a promise to this once barren woman and a sign led me right into such a distracted state that I got to ride in an ambulance for the first time in my life.

That morning my expanding belly had forced me to move my seat back. I buckled my seatbelt and set out on a drive I’d made multiple times. I was on a particularly curvy road when I looked up to see a sign congratulating my friends on the arrival of their new baby. In fact their New baby Girl had just been born and the sign read “Congratulations! Margaret and Larry! It’s a Girl!” About the time I read Girl, inserted her name, and before I could process it all I was sitting in a car full of smoke from airbag deployments. ambulance-2920909_1280.jpgIn a matter of seconds I had managed to wreck my car. In a matter of moments more I found myself on the side of a road with a paramedic placing a giant IV in my bruised arm. And within an hour I was taken to the Emergency Room to check on the baby I was carrying.

Panic and Shock occurred simultaneously. Until that moment I did not know that was even a possibility. I was protected that day. God protected me and the life within me. Despite the force of impact, the baby I was carrying was fine, and so was I. He didn’t wait too much longer after that day to make his appearance. Perhaps he decided to be born lest he risk another near miss resulting from my distracted state. A few weeks later I delivered a baby boy. (Just recently that baby girl whose birth was announced on that sign turned 14 years old. My own baby also recently turned 14.) Conclusion. Be present in the moment, focus on the here and now.

Another sign intervention, with much different results happened some time later. I was overwhelmed and afraid about someone I love dearly. Fear gripped me and I was scared ethics-2991600_1280senseless. I was literally begging the Father to intervene, bargaining with everything I had in me. Every Moment I that was not consumed by other things I was trying to figure a way out of the most certain detriment that was sure to befall my loved one.

I eventually reached the obvious conclusion. Apart from Jesus’ intervention, there was no way out. I begged Him to show me it was going to be fine, and I am honest to goodness not kidding, I rounded a curve and there spelled out in a marquee-like fashion were the words “Everything is going to be OK.” I literally turned my car around and took a picture of those words, After I snapped the picture. I sat in my car and wept because I knew no matter what, everything really was going to be okay. That was nearly a decade ago. Conclusion. No matter the outcome, God is in control, His ways are best and I can trust that it will be okay.

pexels-photo-618955In the late winter to early spring of 2015, I was having a bad day. The kind of bad day that lasts for weeks. I was walking to my assigned task for the day when I happened upon another kind of sign. Painted on the side of a wagon. I speculated on how it had come to be right in my path, right when I needed it. I had concluded, perhaps it was abandoned as a transportation device when its occupant declared “I can walk by myself” or its cumbersome nature proved too challenging to continue the journey onward. Maybe it’s squeaky wheel was too much an annoyance to overrule its functionality. Regardless of the circumstances that rendered it in my path on my way to do what I do, it’s message from My King was a welcome and encouraging reminder. He is indeed with me always…even until the end of the Age. Conclusion: I am not alone, He is with me always.

signs-2949534_1280There is a Pastor I adore that has often said “God speaks to us in the Language we can hear.” I agree. God knows that if the messages I have received from the sign interventions had come in other ways, I likely would not have received them, but because I needed a sign in that moment, He gave me one. He is good like that. The reality is though, I do not have to ride around looking at the marquee for a sign, a word of encouragement or direction to take. In fact He has given me a huge 66 books contained in one big, best-selling book. The Bible, His word is full of direction, a road map of sorts. His word is a treasure trove full of reminders of what I need in the moment I need them. I just need to be looking for them.

Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” Isaiah 30:21

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Back to Basics: Sin

Why do I NOT want to write this article?

I suppose it’s because it heaps correction and conviction on my own head. But I don’t shy away from truth just because it hurts. So here goes…

On an average day I think of myself as a “good” person. Overall I obey the scriptures, treat people decently, act morally, and haven’t broken any laws (except possibly speeding and acting selfishly towards my husband). You probably think of yourself in a similar way. Even people who don’t live upright lives often still look upon themselves as good people. We humans can lie to ourselves and deny reality, deny sin.

Sin is a huge issue in our modern society even though society at large avoids the word and the concept of sin. Just look at contemporary politicians and the scandals surrounding them. But let’s not get to feeling all self-righteous. Though we may not have committed the particular sin a politician is accused of in the media, we have committed our own sin. Don’t think so? Just stick with me a bit.

So what is sin anyway? How would you define sin?

commandments-49012_1280.pngWe would probably all include murder, robbery, assault and such things in our definition of sin. We readily agree that anything that breaks one of the 10 Commandments is sin. But then… we back pedal when it gets to some of the “lesser” of the commandments. You know what I mean. “Bearing false witness” – we justify with the unspoken excuse, I didn’t really lie. I just revealed the part of the story that doesn’t make me look bad. “Honor your father and mother” – Oh, but you don’t know MY father, surely God didn’t mean for me to honor him? “Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy” – I know it’s supposed to be a day of reverence, but we have to… You can finish the sentence. And I won’t even dig into commands 1 though 3 about no other gods before me, no graven images, and not taking the Lord’s name in vain. These 3 have fallen by the wayside with most of  our modern world. But these 10 commandments only scratch the surface of the “what is sin” question.

A quick search in the new testament brings up 1 John 5:17 which states, “All wrongdoing (or unrighteousness) is sin” depending on which version you read. Well that surely broadens the definition!

Our world doesn’t see an action as sin if it is done in self-defense. In this modern world gone crazy, if you do something to me it’s wrong. But if I have a reason for doing the same thing then it’s not wrong. We see that in our teens – How dare she steal my boyfriend? But didn’t you do the same thing to someone else last month? Well that was different, I loved him. We see it in political parties – we criticize another party for loyalty to a candidate who has displayed corrupt behavior, but excuse those in our own party that we want to believe in. We see it in the riots where people are – sometimes rightfully, sometimes not – protesting over a perceived injustice, and then they turn that around and act unjustly to others by injuring, destroying property, and burning buildings of innocent people. Society excuses itself if it feels it has a reason while condemning another whether there is reason or not. Scripture speaks to this societal phenomenon also, “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” (Matthew 7:3-5) Are you justifying your sin yet accusing another? Let’s get the stuff out of our eyes first so that we can see clearly. Sin blinds us to truth many times.

Our world ignores and belittles sin. Most often these days people simply ignore the idea of sin, unless a wrong is done to them personally they (and we) tend to let it slide. These progressive times have yielded progressive thinkers that see sin as an antiquated idea that does not fit in our society. Have we the church let this tendency subtly slip into our thinking? Do we find ourself thinking, “Well that’s not as bad as ____,” or justifying our actions with our selfish reasoning and lame excuses? Have you and I forgotten the principal of  Ephesians 5 that teaches us that sin is improper for God’s holy people and we are to walk as children of light?  Verse 11 of that chapter warns us to “Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness.”

Our world today tends to only see it as sin if it’s an action. But God’s word clearly teaches that the sins of the heart are just that – SIN. In some ways sins of the heart are worse, because they are like the seed or the root of sinful actions. Thoughts yield actions. Luke 15:18-19 tells us that “the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. For out of the heart come evil thoughts – murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These are what defile a person.” Do we regularly inspect the depths of our heart and thought life for that root of sin and weed it out? Do we regularly hold our inner thoughts and motivations up to the light of scripture and allow the cleansing of God’s word to flush out our iniquity?

dangerous-1040641_1280.jpgOften in our struggle against any kind of sin we fall into the trap Joshua Harris mentions in his book Sex Is Not the Problem (Lust Is). While talking about content that we allow to enter our minds he says, “…Instead of seeing how much I can avoid, I spend my energy trying to see how much I can handle.” (page 118) This is so true. Our enemy lures us into thinking we’re strong enough to play around with things that lead us to sin. We’re like people gathering beautiful stones on the rim of a canyon, getting closer and closer to the edge for more trinkets until our foot begins to slide into the abyss of sin and it’s too late to rescue ourselves.

Susanna Wesley, mother of those godly brothers of the 1700’s John and Charles Wesley, is quoted to have said the following:

“Take this rule: whatever weakens your reason, impairs the tenderness of your conscience, obscures your sense of God, or takes off your relish of spiritual things; in short, whatever increases the strength and authority of your body over your mind, that thing is sin to you, however innocent it may be in itself.” (Letter, June 8, 1725)

Wow! Even allowing myself to speed because I’ve run late looks like questionable behavior with this thought in mind. My breaking a simple law of the road makes my heart callous to being obedient. If I allow myself to break one law it makes it just that much easier to break another, especially a command that God has given us, but people around us ignore.

So where does that leave us? Do we follow the ways of the world? Or do we stand as beacons of light upholding truth and righteousness while still loving and gently warning of the dangers of sin? Do we give in to little sins because everyone else does? Or do we avoid anything that impairs our conscience and obscures our sense of God? Do we participate in things that leave us in bondage to sin? To each of us scripture says it is our choice each day. “But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15) The choice is clear; go with God or not. Choose wisely.

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The Gift of Disappointment

“Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” Romans 5:5

I sped into the gravel parking lot. Tires skidding on the grey rocks. Flinging the door open, I bounded out of my minivan. As I looked across the lot, I stopped. A dull ache began in my chest as my eyes landed on an obviously despondent man standing by his truck. This just-shy-of-six-foot, strapping, strong, handsome husband of mine stood with his head hanging, shaking in disbelief. As I got closer I glimpsed the tears dropping, as he looked up I saw the anguish and pain. He was broken. Crushed. Confused. Angry.

After many moments of holding each other. He finally found the words.

“Things didn’t go like I hoped. I thought this would be the answer. I don’t know what to do next.” Every word tinged with despair and discouragement. Disappointment pic

That day still twinges in my soul. But looking at a distance, I realize that moment, that agonizing, heart wrenching moment, marks a pivotal point in our marriage. It was our “miry pit.” The place where you’re sunk so deep in the dredges of disappointment your mind is clouded and you see no way out. You’re stuck. All your failures and shortcomings and foolish choices playing on repeat. And there’s no one who can hit the rewind button; no possibility of a do over. Stuck.

In the days and months and years after I stood in front of my anguished husband, I slowly began to realize the Lord was giving us a gift. The gift of stripping away everything we thought we knew. The gift of realizing our lack. The gift of desperation. He gave us the gift of disappointment. We certainly didn’t understand or appreciate the gift. In fact, we’re still trying to grasp what a precious gift we were given. It took us years to unpack all the lessons we’ve learned. And maybe, well, likely, we’ll be unpacking those lessons for a lifetime. But here are the most vital gifts we opened because of that awful, wonderful day.

sun-heart-autumn-leaf-39379Set Your Heart on Things Above. Disappointment is the result of unmet expectations. We set our hopes on things that are seen instead of things that are unseen. We crave and we desire and want. We are selfish, stubborn creatures. We think if things would just work out the way we think they should. We live in a world of our own making. Always looking to what we wish we had, what is just around the corner that will make us happy or fulfilled. For my husband, it was a failed business venture. His heart was set on what he thought would be the answer to his questions about provision and purpose. When that venture failed, those dreams were lost. His heart was crushed.

We put our hopes in the temporal stuff all the time. If I could just get this position or this degree or this house or this car, or if I could get the relationship I dreamed of, or even if I could just find deep friendships, or if my kids would just obey, then everything will be better. Then I will be happy and fulfilled.

But anytime, every time, we put our hope in anything but in the love of God in Christ, we will be disappointed. Even the best job comes with the tedious and mundane. Stuff breaks and wears. And anytime two sinners are in relationship, whether it’s husband and wife, mother and daughter, or close friendship, you’ve got a sure recipe for disappointment and discouragement. Jesus Christ is the only One whose love will NEVER disappoint you. His love brings truth and confrontation and conviction, so it might not look like the weak, fickle, emotion-focused love our culture has falsely fashioned. But His love is patient, not jealous, not rude, not selfish, not irritable, not resentful, rejoices with truth, bears all things, hopes all things, endures all things. HIS LOVE NEVER FAILS. His love gave you the greatest gift of all. LIFE. Not the fragile, fallen life of this temporary place, but the forgiven, forever love of God in Christ. The love that came at the greatest cost.

people-2604165_1280.jpgSet Your Mind on Things Above. When my husband and I fell into that foreboding pit, the only thing we could do was look up. As our heads turned to the light, we saw one beautiful, nail scarred hand reaching down to us. Jesus was the only One who was strong enough to not only drag us out of our pit, but set our feet upon a rock and make our steps secure. (Psalm 40:2)

While Jesus snatched us out of the black hole of disappointment, we found marking our steps on that firm foundation required daily workouts. We realized our most vital weapon was the Word of God. So we’ve made sure, sometimes not so perfectly, that we daily dig deep in the truth. Filling up our pit with truth was the only way we could avoid falling into the dregs again. We learned, and are still learning, how to take every thought captive and bring it into obedience in Christ. From that truth we learned the secret to contentment was depending on Christ for everything. (Philippians 4: 12-13). We learned that admitting our weakness meant depending on Christ and His strength and power. (2 Corinthians 12:9-10) We learned that hardships and trials are meant to grow us up in Christ so we lack nothing, and we can find joy in the struggle if we keep an eternal perspective. (James 1:2-4)

That powerful, painful moment in that gravel parking lot. That moment we were thrown into the pit of despair. That moment was truly one of the greatest gifts God has ever given us. The gift of disappointment transformed our relationship with Christ, which transformed our relationship with each other. It is transforming how we view the world (temporary and transient) and how we view God (eternal and essential). It is a discipline to turn our hearts and minds heavenward. But oh how beautiful, how magnificent is the love of God. A God who loves us enough to let us walk through earthly disappointment so we can rest in eternal hope.

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Unwrap your gift of disappointment.

 

 

 

 

Caught By Surprise

Do you ever slow down and just drink in the beauty of what is around you?  Do you stop to breathe in the fresh air and admire the majestic trees and the gorgeous flowers? What about the birds and the happy songs they sing? Have you ever walked in the woods and the only sound is the rustling of the leaves and some small creature scurrying through the underbrush?

As we feel the nip in the air as summer fades to fall, we once again get to see the leaves on our majestic trees begin to turn beautiful shades of yellow, orange and red. A favorite pastor used to say that God takes out his mighty paintbrush and paints a beautiful portrait for us to enjoy.  As the seasons change, I am reminded of the majesty and splendor of God that we see in His beautiful creation.

Andrew Peterson has a wonderful ballad, Nothing to Say that describes how driving through Arizona caught him by surprise.

“And the mountains sing your glory Hallelujah, The canyons echo sweet amazing grace.”

monument-valley-392749_1280My husband and I were able to experience the beauty a few years ago as friends drove us from the flat, cactus covered desert of Phoenix up through the mesas to the beautiful painted deserts of Sedona. As if it couldn’t get any better, we continued north and began to drive through breath-taking mountain ranges and beautiful canyons all the way into Flagstaff where there was snow on the ground. All in one day! Our creator definitely caught us by surprise that day and I couldn’t help but shed a few tears and worship my wonderful Creator as we listened to the song that day.

flower-2659902_1280We can see the greatness of our creator even in the smallest of things. I remember tiny purple flowers, no bigger than a pencil eraser that I used to pick as a little girl.  I love to watch the beautifully painted butterflies landing here and there in the yard on flowers. And honey bees gathering the nectar and pollen so that we can have honey.  Sweet baby calves as they play about with one another in the pasture by my house.

milky-way-1801996_1280.jpgOne of my favorite memories with my older children is when we lay on blankets in the back yard on a cold winter night and watched the heavens declare the glory of the Lord and the sky proclaim his handiwork (Psalm 19:1). We watched meteor after meteor shoot across the star filled sky that night. My heart still rejoices in those moments of worshipping our creator as we watched that show and the verse resonated in my mind.

God of Wonders by Third Day is a powerful song that calls us to worship this Holy, Lord of heaven and earth. Our wonderfully creative creator who put together every detail. This creator who spoke the whole world into existence. He gives us glimpses of himself in this creation.

Romans 1:20 – For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.

God has made himself evident to us in his creation. We see Him. In this crazy busy life you live, take a moment and see where God is showing himself to you. Remind yourself of the beautiful places that he has allowed you to see in this world. All around He is showing Himself to us and, in our beautiful state of Alabama, you don’t have to go very far to see Him.

Birthday Boy: A Child of Promise

“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given…” Isaiah 9:6

As we celebrate this season of the birth of the savior, the fulfillment of God’s promise, look to your own life and see what the LORD has done. Relish in the promises fulfilled and the gifts given to you. Savor this story with the eyes of the Wise Men!

I’m not much of a numbers person. Numbers and Math, they aren’t my best. One need only ask Scott Martin about such a deficit to realize, no I’m more of a craft, history, English person.

I have a friend who is a number fanatic of sorts. She loves them, looks for patterns in them. The numbers that surround her, they mean something. She will read them like I read words woven together with intention to form a sentence. I read the same numbers and they mean little to me. Despite my number hesitations, the fact that the King made me a promise and then kept that promise on the 7th day of the month that typically encapsulates His New Year has never escaped me. Seven is His Number.

Long ago He promised a barren woman she would be given a child if she only obeyed what He was imploring her to do. She hadn’t heard His voice many times so she was hesitant to obey, but obey she did. On Ten Seven she gave birth to a Seven Ten son. For many months She was confused, the barren woman acted out of obedience and had indeed had a child as she was promised but the barren woman could not understand why the child was a boy. She was convinced the child would be a beautiful peaceful girl, yet held in her arms was a cranky, have to lay on top of him to change a diaper, won’t sleep in a bed, didn’t talk ’til he was 4 years old son.

The Barren Woman didn’t know much but she knew the King’s Word could be trusted so she headed there for some answers. There she found that every time the King gave a baby to those Barren Women of old who had cried out to Him, as she had, he answered her with a boy. A unique boy destined for great things that The King himself had prepared early on for him. The Barren Woman took comfort in that and learned to love that “ninja-like-stealth escapee with mad non-food eating skills and cantankerous nature” well. Eventually he gained a voice, learned to use the restroom, and became a creative and unique child.

Over time she had learned a few things, there has never been nor will there ever be one quite like that promised boy. He is quick-witted and has a sense of humor that is a delightful combination of his Mama and Daddy. He loves with a love that never sees color or race. He is blind to differences, and the hatred of another based on the outward appearance boggles his mind. He loves Jesus and loves Him for reasons most adult people have yet to understand. His favorite attribute of God is that “He is.” He worships in a way unique to himself.

I used to be a tad disgruntled over the Promised Boy and the quirky things that make him unique. Yet over time and after much pondering and prayer, I am so thankful to be His Mama, to be the very front line witness of miracle after miracle where he is concerned.

A while back we ventured to a friend’s house for an impromptu chili and hotdog supper. My friend, when asked what we could bring said, “Food for the boy, ’cause he don’t like chili or hotdogs.” I giggled as I read that text. She knows him, loves him, and understands him. She isn’t offended that he doesn’t care for chili and wouldn’t have taken it personally if I’d’ve busted up to her house with a sack full of sub-par cheeseburgers for him. She had purchased a cake for dessert, and upon the realization that it was the Boy’s 13th birthday eve, she rummaged through her junk drawer until she found 13 mismatched partially used birthday candles to place atop the once just dessert cake turned Birthday Cake. His face, when he surveyed the pink princess candles with stars on top was priceless.

If we were legit Jewish, the following day we would have had a bar mitzvah, a day of celebration and blessing, the crossing from boyhood to manhood. I am beginning to understand why that number 13 birthday is so important.

As he slept and had yet to witness the as per usual birthday kitchen decoration and cake for breakfast, I reflected on what the King did some 13 years ago, and I am amazed that I got to be his mama. I’m excited to see what the next 13 years hold for that child of promise. My prayer for that boy is this one, “May the Lord Bless you and keep you, may His face shine upon you. May you be all that God desires you to be.”

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My Story: Underestimated Peace

Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you.

by Guest Contributor Lisa Greene

Depending on the season of life, my roles have varied from daughter, sister, mother, wife, school principal, teacher, daycare administrator, missionary, pastor’s wife, and business owner. Through all these roles that God has given me, I have claimed Phil 1:20, “According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death.

Those roles are all a part of who I am, but as with all of us, I am sometimes a hidden person on the inside that people never see. Being very blunt, openly honest, I am a naturally negative, sometimes fearful, quite anxious, and a controlling person who has learned some very difficult lessons at the Hand of God. All of these led to a low self-esteem for years, a feeling of never being able to measure up, never being good enough, always fearful that someone might see who I really was on the inside and see how terrible I was. In reality though, it was a sin condition that led to who I was and am on the inside.

It wasn’t until I caught a glimpse of God’s peace that I came to understand how His peace could change my life. It’s what I call God’s underestimated peace. It truly is a peace that is far beyond all human understanding, but it is attainable and absolutely necessary for our relationship with God. Just as we sometimes underestimate the power of God, I believe as children of God, we underestimate how God’s peace can change our lives and deepen our relationship with Him.

I wish I could say that my journey to attain God’s peace in my life began at my salvation at the age of 12, but it actually began about 15 years after that. During that time in my life I had been blessed with a wonderful husband, two beautiful children, and a church that was supportive and nurturing. God had opened doors and Sam and I were entering full-time ministry on staff at Liberty Baptist Church in St. Petersburg, Fl. We were happy, we were following God’s leading in our lives, we were fulfilled. All should have been peaceful, right?

baby-2922564_1920.jpgWhen our children were about 7 and 5 years old, God began to stir my heart to have another child. My husband couldn’t understand this and I will never forget him saying, “We have a girl and a boy, what else could you want?” When I realized he was not going to be a pushover in this area, I became what many of us wives become when we don’t get our way – a nagging, whiny, selfish woman – like the woman that Proverbs 21 talks about – “It is better to dwell in a corner of the housetop, than with a contentious woman in a wide house.” I began to back my husband into a corner, trying to play God. He in turn was not swayed by any of my whiny, manipulative ways! Our home, my heart, during that time was anything but peaceful.

I was discontent, not thankful for what God had already given me, filled with worry that God would not give me what I asked for. Little did I know how much more He wanted to give me, but He knew I had lessons to learn before He could give me more. At around the same time, I was asked to participate in leading a Bible study at our church. The study was on being a content woman of God! You talk about a struggle! Praise God, it was through that study I learned about God in a way that I had never seen Him before. He became my ENOUGH! He became my FULLNESS! He became my ALL! For the first time, I took complete ownership for my relationship with God. Though my husband was the spiritual leader of our home, I learned that I was accountable to God for my own spiritual growth and relationship with Him. Most of all, I learned contentment.   It was during this time that I claimed another verse in Philippians that God used to help me realize that I was worthy and He was enough — Phil. 1:6 “Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.”

This verse began to affect my relationship with God in a way that made me realize that I had worth, I was somebody in God’s eyes, I had a special purpose. Through this time God taught me that He was enough for me AND I could be enough as I was. I did not need to be controlling of my circumstances and those around me, because He was in control. I did not need to be anxious, because He was the Great Provider! Presenting myself to God as a living sacrifice just the way I was became my first step toward the Peace of God.

When His peace came into my life, it came with a contentment. I began to pray God’s will, not mine, and ultimately I began to pray more specifically, “God, if you want us to have another child, please change my husband’s heart. And Lord, if you don’t want us to have another child, please change my heart and take the desire that I have away.” I prayed that prayer for many months, learning more about God’s peace, and the contentment and the perfect rest that comes with it. You see, it wasn’t that God didn’t want me to have the desire of my heart. It was that He knew I needed to learn to rest in Him and grow in His grace and peace before I could handle what He wanted to give me.

Little did I know how at the same time, God was working in the heart of my husband. One day, out of the clear blue (I had been praying, but not talking to him about it) he came and said, “I think we should have another child!” In March of the following year God gave us a son. Two years later he gave us the daughter that would complete our family of six.

PeaceThrough this time in my life I learned what God’s peace really is. How it demonstrated itself inside of me was life-changing. It is a PEACE that passes all human understanding. It is a PEACE that is possible regardless of circumstances (in us OR around us). It is a PEACE that dispels all negativity. It is a PEACE that comes to those who ask for it and believe. It is a PEACE that produces a rest within us. It is a PEACE that triumphs over fear and anxiety. It is a PEACE that proclaims God’s power and God’s presence.

Just as I have come to learn what God’s peace is, I have come to understand how my worry is an actual affront to Almighty God. Worry is me saying that I don’t think God can handle it! As the Psalmist David said, “Lord, when I am afraid, I will put my trust in You.” (Ps. 56:3). Worry is simply being afraid – of the future, of the past, of the present. We can have victory over the worry that often claims us by using the weapons of warfare that God has equipped us with.

In Tony Evans’ book, Prayers for Victory in Spiritual Warfare, he states that we have to put on the shoes of PEACE to combat Satan, and have victory over fear and anxiety. When we trust in Him, He exchanges our fears for His PEACE. We put on the shoes of peace by trusting in His presence and power and seeking Him in the midst of our fear and anxiety. Dr. Evans further explains by saying,

“I put on the shoes of PEACE by humbling myself. I recognize my inadequacy and my lack of control. Much of fear stems from a need for control, but ultimately I do not control anything. Being anxious on an airplane does not keep it in the sky. Being fearful of ill-health does not keep me healthy. Being afraid that my marriage or relationships will deteriorate does not keep them strong. This is because ultimate control is in His hands, and no matter what happens, He will use it for good when we love Him. Humility allows me to acknowledge that He knows better than I do.”

It was a difficult season in my life but one of the most rewarding times of growth in my relationship with God. By humbling myself to His authority, I gained His peace as a companion in my spiritual walk. I can claim I Peter 5:6-7 (“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the Mighty Hand of God so that at the proper time He may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you.”) as a promise that He has fulfilled in my life. I have lived it, and continue to live it and claim it each day. Some days, some trials, some valleys, are easier to claim it in that others, but through the lessons of the past I am reminded of His promise.

When God closes a door, it is this PEACE that reminds me that He is in control. When I face struggles in relationships, it is this PEACE that reminds me that I am His, wonderfully made and created in love. When financial difficulties come, it is this PEACE that triumphs over my fear and anxiety to remind me that He is my Provider and He has a plan to prosper me. When I lost two brothers last year within six months of each other, it was this PEACE that brought me through the valley of despair and reminded me that I have a Heavenly Father whose loving arms are always open wide.

We have no excuse as believers to not live a life of peace. We have been given every tool we need to conquer negativity, dispel the darkness around us, and defeat Satan. The Word of God has been given to us full of promises that, if we live and abide in them, will lead us into a peaceful relationship with our Heavenly Father where we can rest in His loving arms. David, the Psalmist, in Psalm 4, so sweetly pictures it for us, “I will both lay me down in peace and rest, for thou, Lord, makes me dwell in safety.” By allowing the peace of God to rule our hearts and minds, we are able to present ourselves to our Heavenly Father as believers of faith and love, always confident in His power and keeping.

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I will both lay me down in peace and rest, for thou, Lord, makes me dwell in safety. Psalm 4:8

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving Y'all!

Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at Priceless!

Whether your day is filled with the traditional turkey and dressing amidst all the relatives or you are sitting alone beside the bed of an extrememly ill loved one eating hospital food…

Whether or you’re in a homey setting on on call at work…

Whether you are alone, with people dear to you, or with a crowd that you wish you weren’t with…

Whether you are living in plenty or in want today…

STOP where you are. If you have time to be reading this, you have time to be thankful. Even in a “worst case scenario” Thanksgiving Day, you are alive, you have the sight and the mind and the ability to read this, you are breathing – so that means God still has a purpose for you, and you are loved by the Father.

So today ladies, we will choose to be thankful and not dwell on what is NOT, or what we don’t have or can’t do, or the things that we wish weren’t the way they are but we can’t change, or the broken relationships and pain surrounding us. Grab a piece of paper or a paper napkin or open up your notes app, and make a list of all you have to be thankful for. Count your blessings! Name them one by one as the old hymn says.

And meditate on these verse for a bit for encouragement.

“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.” 1 Chronicles 16:34

“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. 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 4:6-8

“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18

“Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.” Psalm 100:4

“Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind” Psalm 107:8

“The Lord, the Lord, [is] the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin.” Exodus 34:6-7

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Celebrate with a Grateful Heart!

 

 

Back to Basics: Bible Reading

It’s that time again! Skip the decaf and go straight for the good stuff! Grab your Bible, pen, and journal, and Wake Up! Today we’re going back to a very simple basic: reading your Bible.

In January we challenged you to pick your favorite Bible translation, find a Bible reading plan, and begin to dig in to God’s Word for 2017.

Did you do it?

Did you start it and not stick with it possibly? (I’ve done that many times myself.) If you started a plan to read the entire Bible in 2017 and stayed the course, you will now find yourself, here in mid-November, having pexels-photo-289689read over 90% of the whole Bible. Nine-tenths! Ninety percent of God’s word full of love and wisdom, peace, history, and instruction. You are a different person now than you were 10 1/2 months ago. I know this because Isaiah 55:11 tells us, “My word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” As you have been reading and feeding yourself on His word this year, He has been changing you, achieving His purposes for you and accomplishing His desired work in your heart! Isn’t that encouraging? You may not see the growth and change when you look at yourself today as compared to yesterday, but think back to a year ago. You may be surprised by what changes you see that God has worked in your life!

Now, for those of us, like me, who are a little behind in what we hoped for this year, it’s time to wake up and re-focus. I have gottten 6 days behind over the course of the year. I know because I keep a list and check it off. I’m lazy if I don’t take measures to keep myself faithful in seeking Him. But I’m not quitting; I’m reading a little extra each day. Not that my goal is to check off a check list, but in pursuit of my goal to know God more intimately and know His word more fully, I press on.

So, if you find you haven’t been as faithful in coming to sit at Jesus feet each day as you wish you had been this year, do you give up and say, “Oh well.”? No. You recommit, dig in deeper, wake up earlier, and read His word more each day. The great thing about the Father is that we never run out of fresh starts with Him.

unnamedWhen you sit down with the Scriptures, pen in hand, if you only read and don’t think or take notes or pray, you won’t get as much out of it. Recently, I have picked up the habit of listening to the scripture as I read it visually. I use the Bible Gateway app on my phone. When you click on the menu icon at the top left you get a drop down menu that has “Audio Bible” as an option. It allows you to choose the version you want to listen to, the Bible book and chapter, and the person reading it aloud. I use Max McLean who has a great voice that helps you hear the meaning.

For the rest of this post I want to give you some ideas for a fresh start at approaching the Word of God. The first one is the one I use, though they are all somewhat similar.

1 – Prayer followed by Observation-Interpretation-Application. Each morning as I open my Bible, I begin by praying that the Father will open the eyes of my heart to see and understand the truths I’m reading that day. This gets my mind engaged and my heart focused on Him, and it let’s Him know I’m ready and willing to hear and obey.

Second, I read a portion of scripture making simple observations: Who is the passage about? What’s going on? What lessons are being taught? What promises are given? What does it reveal about God or human nature or sin, etc.?

Third, I try to interpret the meaning of the passage asking myself what the deeper meaning and implications of the scripture are. How does this portion of scripture fit in with what all I already know about scripture? Does it enlighten me on a deep truth I haven’t understood? Sometimes it expands my understanding of God’s love, mercy, and grace. Without doubt,  it will help me interpret the overall message of scripture more clearly: scripture is the best commentary on scripture.

And finally, I try to see how to apply it to my life. Does it give me a list of practical helps that I can seek to live out that week? Or perhaps it reminds me to walk in faith or step out in service to others or praise him in the middle of our tough circumstances. Does it correct error in me, perhaps in an area of theology where I have followed the ways of the world without ever really considering what His word implied?

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S.O.A.P.

2 – SOAP – Scripture-Observe-Apply-Pray – The SOAP method starts and ends differently than our first method, but has some of the same components.. First you go to scripture. But you don’t just read it, you write out on paper the passage you are reading! (When we write things out we remember them better.) Then you follow a similar path as in the first option, You observe and apply God’s word as instructed above. In this model, you end with prayer asking for God’s wisdom and equipping that you can live out what you’ve learned.

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F.L.I.P.

3 – FLIP – Facts-Lessons-“I need to apply this”-Pray – In this one, you read the Word searching out the Facts: who, what, when, where, why, and how. The you read back through looking for Lessons (promises, principles, instructions, etc.) in that same scripture portion. After that you you consider how I need to apply this to my life. And once again you end with the prayers of your heart.

Whichever method you can remember most easily is probably a good place to start.

Wherever you find yourself in your spiritual journey right here at Thanksgiving, it’s never too late to seek God. Today is the time to start. Whether you are finishing up a year’s commitment to read a portion of scripture or you are just deciding to get started reading scripture methodically, go for it. As you immerse yourself in God’s word you will grow closer to the Father, find solutions to your challenges, understand the world better, and walk in a more Christlike manner. Scripture changes you! So don’t quit. And don’t make excuses or put off starting. Just do it!

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School Lunch

 

Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. Hebrews 12:1-2

I rarely bought my lunch at school.

I mostly brought my lunch.

In hindsight I see now that it was likely because I can be a picky eater. Mama in her wisdom would have recognized my picky tendencies and packed a lunch more likely suitable for my particular consumption. I have never been picky like no veggies and heaps of carbs picky. I’m very familiar with “chicken finger and fries pickies,” in fact, I have one or two of those in my home – the ones who only want chicken fingers and fries regardless of the menu selections to choose from. I tend to be the please-don’t-let-my-food-touch, that-food-doesn’t-match-this-food-so-I-won’t-eat-them-together, eat-my-meal-in-a-particular-order kind of picky. I honestly never realized I was a picky eater. I love turnip greens, tomato sandwiches, squash casserole, a good steak. I can devour a crab leg with a speed and skill that has earned me the “crab leg opener” title when our family has a celebratory low country boil. So picky just didn’t seem to cross my mind.

When on the rare occasion I bought my lunch, Mama would ask me about it at the end of my school day. Once in kindergarten I told her I had my favorite food for lunch that day, the one that starts with a “B”.

“Bananas?”

Nope.

“Broccoli?”

Nope.

“Burgers?”

Nope.

“Bacon?”

Nope

She continued to inquire; had Google existed at the time, a search for B foods would have yielded no help at all.

Finally she said, “Well I don’t know. What?”

“B-B-Ba-skettii!”

I have always love spaghetti. I suppose there are a lot of people who have an affinity for the pasta dish. I mean, how could they not?

My paternal Grandparents were Italian. My Grandmother, Pauline, was hands down the best cook I have ever known. That may be a slight exaggeration. She could cook anything. Also an exaggeration. She could not cook toast. She burned it every time.

12391797_10206070052333753_7825553156234316293_n-1Pauline could make the best spaghetti sauce. There was nothing like it. It has simply been known in our family as “The Sauce.” It contained potatoes and a beef roast. Meatballs that were the size of my 6 year old fist, laden with cheese and green onions, celery and bread crumbs – they were a marvelous delicacy. A perfect balance of savory and sweet, the perfect consistency, the sauce covered every spaghetti noodle with perfection.

My Grandpa had the biggest chest freezer I’d ever seen. He would open it and, like a scene from a sci-fi movie, a chilly fog would obscure my vision. He would reach down into the frigid darkness and pull out all manner of delicious consumables. He seemed to have an endless supply of Otter-pops. He would pull out packages of homemade Italian sausage, what I wouldn’t give now to have some. He would have tiny frozen red bricks, partially occluded by the frosty white containers that would be thawed into spaghetti sauce at the hour of my Mama’s choosing.

Even now I long for some of those foods of old. I’d venture to say that the banquet meal Jesus is having prepared for us in Heaven will consist of Pauline’s Sauce, stuffed artichokes, ambrosia, and an Italian Cream Cake. Every pasta centered meal since has paled in comparison to those.

Looking back it almost seems too good to be true. Those meals were delicious no doubt, but I wonder if the longing for the things of the past are in fact a hindrance for me going forward. Recently I had the privilege of being the “Pusher’ on the playground. Multiple Kindergarten and Preschoolers were on swings that barely let their feet touch the pexels-photo-230620ground, I found myself bombarded with requests to “Push me! Make me go high like a rocket ship!” One particular client kept turning back in his swing, when he would turn his body to look at me and command me to push higher, his swing would go all wibbly -wobbly and slow him down. We would have to regroup and start over. He quickly became frustrated when he would look around and realize that his cohorts were all rocket ship high and much faster than he was. I kept trying to get him to understand that looking back was what was ultimately slowing him down.

Over the course of our playground time, the King used my instruction to the wibbly-wobbly Kindergartner as a teaching moment for myself. I am often looking back, looking around and comparing. I like to reminisce about the good ol’ days. I look to my left and to my right and find myself comparing myself to others. I never seem to measure up to my cohorts; those feelings of inadequacy lead me into feeling anything but content with the present. Paul writes in Philippians 4:11, that he has learned to be content in whatever circumstance.

It has taken me some time, and I am still not where I hope to one day be, to realize that when my vision is focused on anything but my King and the truth of his word, I am guaranteed to be a wibbly-wobbly kindergartner on a playground swing. Jesus called Peter out onto the waters and Peter walked on the water as if it were as solid as pavement. But the moment Peter took his eyes off Jesus and looked at the storm around him he sank like a rock. Had it not been for the outstretched hand of his friend Jesus, Peter surely would’ve gone under succumbing to the depths below.

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

Pauline’s sauce was delicious, it remains one of my favorite all time foods. I continue to be food weird. It can come in handy when playing an icebreaker game at a party. People always look astonished when I say I don’t like my food to touch and I eat in a particular order. They also frequently inquire if I understand that “it’s all going to the same place anyway,” an implication that the anti-touching thing is pointless. I typically answer yes, I do, but that isn’t going to change how I consume my food.

When I was younger I took several weeks and made an unforeseen investment. I spent weeks, maybe months, in my Grandmother’s kitchen. I learned under her tutelage how to make “The Sauce”. I alone know the secrets it holds. I prepare “The Sauce” for special occasions, I never think it tastes as good as Pauline’s but those who have tasted both assure me it does. They assure me that my “B-B-Ba-skettii!” is just as good as it was in the old days.

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A New Arrival

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Ephesians 3:14-18  “For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named,  that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being,  so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love,  may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth,  and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”

The sweetest gift arrived for our family a few weeks ago in the form of a sweet baby boy.  My first grandchild. Firstborn of my firstborn.  What a joy, and how excited our family is to welcome him. He is loved more than he will ever comprehend.

I heard his paternal grandmother say that day that there is “so much love” for our grandson. He is so dearly loved by his mommy and daddy and all the rest, but nothing can compare to the love that our heavenly father has for him. “For God so loved the world… .” Enough to send his only son to die for us and to sacrifice his blood as the atonement for our sins. “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called the children of God; and so we are.” (I John 3:1)

I am reminded afresh and anew of how much my heavenly father loves me and delights in me, His child.

  • He sings over me (Zephaniah 3:17)
  • He cares for me (Matthew 10:30-31)
  • He protects me (2 Thessalonians 3:3)
  • He is concerned for me (1 Peter 5:7)
  • I am written on his palm (Isaiah 49:16)

IMG_0282 (1)How God must delight in weaving his little masterpieces together in the womb. He says he knows us before we are formed. In all of his wonderful creativity, he knits together the most precious gifts to give to us as newborn babies. Master craftsman, if you will, when you think of all the splendor of creation.

I wanted to jump up and down with excitement when we knew our little one had arrived and I must confess (with video to prove) that it was too much when I found out that his hair was red. I jumped!

It is amazing to think about how blue eyes and red hair can be formed on one child and because of DNA and lots of other scientific things that I don’t understand, another can have brown eyes and black hair. Or blonde and blue or whatever that precious masterpiece happens to have. And that soft, velvety skin of different shades that the creator adds to the mix. Tiny fingers and toes and legs and arms and button noses. All the little internal organs that work together. Oh my!

What a mighty God he is! My momma has questioned many times how someone could look at a little innocent baby and doubt our God.  I guess many do who don’t know him. But God does allow us to see himself in his creation. (Romans 1:20) Nothing is more tangible than holding our little bundle of God’s creation in my arms and kissing his sweet cheeks and nuzzling his little neck and snuggling him close.

maxresdefaultGod sent the sweetness of Heaven in the form of a baby, His Son, to ultimately be our savior. “God incarnate in the form of helpless babe.” He sends the sweetness of heaven in the form of babies – our own children, our grandbabies, and nieces and nephews. Sweet little babies.

How it pleases our heavenly father when we are birthed back into his kingdom! There is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents. (Luke 15:10) We rejoiced over our precious grandson’s birth just a few days ago, but we are already praying and anticipating the day that he will be born again. We will rejoice with our heavenly father over another who has repented. Oh what a day that will be!

We laughed and shed tears of joy and hugged and grinned and oohed and aahed. And talked about who he looked like that day of his birth.  We most want our grandson to resemble his savior one day. But right now his is a perfect mix of both mama and daddy. And we just love him.

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