Thankful He Watches Over Us

He watches over us.  I find myself this Thanksgiving extremely thankful for this truth.

There were times this year when the grip of fear almost suffocated me.  No matter how much I searched and dug for Truth, it was a battle to believe.  To believe He is working all things for good.  To believe even if my greatest fear comes true, it will be alright.  Yet, I knew He is faithful so I kept seeking.  Oh friends, He won’t leave you alone with these questions, fears, and doubts when you continue to seek Him.  As we pray, read Truth and worship, the Lord reassures our fragile hearts and minds He is watching over us.  He has been from the beginning and He will until He returns again.

“Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.  This I declare about the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him.” Psalms 91:1-2

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For those that go to the Lord for safety and trust Him, they will remain secure and rest in the shadow of the Almighty.  We as believers in Christ are secure and rest in the shadow of God Almighty.  There will be struggles.  Job, Paul and even Jesus himself suffered.  But, we are in the shadow of the Almighty.  This truth has been a game changer for me lately.  Our ultimate security is found in relationship with the Lord.  Nothing can match knowing we are safe in the arms of God.  He is good.  He is faithful.  He is watching over those that love Him.

I am fearing less today.  I am braver today.  But, only because I believe He is who He says He is.

He is our shelter.

He is our secure.

He is our rest.

He is our refuge.

He is our fortress.

He is our confidence.

He is our protection.

He is our salvation.

For this I am thankful! Our faith in God Almighty will carry us through all the dangers and fears of life.

“The Lord says, “I will rescue those who love me. I will protect those who trust in my name. When they call on me, I will answer; I will be with them in trouble. I will rescue and honor them. I will reward them with a long life and give them my salvation.” Psalms‬ ‭91:14-16‬ ‭

Jump into His arms!  He’s got you!

“The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe.”  Proverbs 18:10

God, this Thanksgiving I am grateful that you are watching over us.  We are safe in Your arms.  May we always run to you for safety and trust you.

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The Last get a Crown

“Mom, what does it mean, the first will be last and the last get a crown?”

Thank you Lord for Christian radio that leads to discovering Truth and conversations that matter with my kids.  These words are in a song that we have been listening to a lot lately (link at the bottom).

As often happens, I replied, “I know it’s in the Bible.  I’ll dig into it and it will be our bible story tomorrow night.”

Although there is a lot more to this song, this specific lyric led me to Jesus’ life changing words in Luke 13:22-30.  Take time read them.

After reading these words a few times, I wasn’t sure how I was going to explain them to my kids.  I just continued to sit and dig.  Once again after asking for understanding, the Lord began to help my simple mind understand and here’s what I learned…

At the beginning of these verses someone asks Jesus, “Lord, will those who are saved be few?”

And Jesus ends these verses by saying, “And behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.”

To be honest, in the beginning this seemed like deep theological stuff that I didn’t know if I could understand much less help my 9 year old son understand.  But here’s how our faithful God broke it down for me this morning.

Some that seem influential and important in this world may not enter the Kingdom of Heaven.  God is not concerned with our popularity, status or wealth.  On the other hand, those who humble themselves and turn from their sin, trust God to save them and follow Christ whatever the cost will be greatly honored.  I can’t help but picture missionaries and their families all over the world.  A friend of mine told me, these are the people that live such deep faith that many came to know Christ.  Or maybe even those who are mentally ill or have special needs, yet still came to ask Christ for saving forgiveness.  There is no way of knowing “who” but I think it’s a call to stronger faith, to live a life completely committed to bringing Him alone glory.

So what do we do with these piercing words?

We daily turn from our sin, put God first and diligently strive to FOLLOW JESUS whatever the cost.  For me and I suppose some of you this looks like ignoring our selfish desires, seek God before anything else and follow Him even when it’s hard and unpopular.   Keep pressing on my friends.  Jesus is worth it!  There is a place at the table in the kingdom of God for you.

And when the Great Shepherd appears, you will receive a crown of never-ending glory and honor.  1 Peter 5:4 NLT

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Here we are God. We are yours.  Thank you for your grace.  Thank you for saving us.  May our hearts only be motivated to follow You.

Shine Bright

One of my favorite people asked me this morning, “Why do people blame guns instead of a lack of knowing Jesus?”  I am not sure and quite honestly this question was way more than I could answer at 7:00 am or at anytime for that matter of fact.

The more messed up this world seems, the more good and right the ways of the Lord are to me.  There is no other way.   Politicians are not going to pull us out of darkness.  Health professionals, although very helpful, are not going to save us from darkness.  Not our pastor… not our spouse… Only One defeats darkness.  He is the Light.

“Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.” John‬ ‭8:12‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Jesus brings light to humankind.  Only He can remove the darkness.  He is the way, truth and life.  I am so thankful Jesus saved me from darkness.  I do not have to fear evil because He is my Savior.

But, I can’t help to have a heavy heart for those who have been blinded and do not see or know the light of Christ.  Why do we blame guns and not a sinful heart?  Maybe that’s easier to understand… Maybe we don’t know what sin is and how dark it can become… Or possibly, we don’t know the only One, Jesus Christ, who can forgive our sin and give us a new heart, a heart that wants to love rather than kill…

I have been forgiven.  Christ has given me a new heart.

“And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.” ‭‭Ezekiel‬ ‭36:26-27‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Probably most of you reading have turned to the Lord and been forgiven and washed clean by the blood of Christ and given a new heart.  If not, I pray this sparks a curiousity to learn more about the Savior of the world.  But, for those of us that know the hope of Christ, I encourage you to let the light of Jesus shine.  This is a bit hard for me to write because the morning of the horrific news of tragic loss in Las Vegas, I said to my husband, “Well, that will make you want to never leave the ranch.”  Of course, the Lord wasn’t going to let me believe this crazy thought.  Through my bible study this week God has shown me the light of Christ is not to be hidden.  The world desperately needs this Hope we have.  Today, I have a greater desire for others to know the only One who can save us from sin and darkness.  There is no better time than now to let the light of Christ shine in our lives.  Perhaps your friend, neighbor or that person you didn’t realize was observing your life will be drawn to the Light because we didn’t hide but instead let it shine brightly. 

“Don’t hide your light under a basket! Instead, put it on a stand and let it shine for all.”  Matthew 5:15 

Lord, help us shine BRIGHT so that many might know.

Start with 5 minutes and Pray

I remember hearing a long time ago some wise women or man of God saying, “Start with 5 minutes in the Word and before you know it, it will be an hour and you won’t even realize it.”  I can’t remember who… I’ve sat under many over the past 17 years.  I see some of your faces as I type and oh am I grateful for you.

I also recall thinking, you are nuts!  An hour in any book much less one I struggle to understand.

It did begin with 5 minutes.  5 minutes of mind wandering, slow reading of usually a devotional sometimes the Bible.  How could I watch hours of “E” tv but not read the words that were written by God Almighty.  I don’t know but it was a start.  You’ve heard it, you have to start somewhere.

Then about 8 years ago a dear wise women of God said, “Pray before you read.”  Not only did she tell me to pray, she showed me how.  Once again, thank you Lord for wise biblical counsel!  If you don’t have these people in your life, get them.

This was not a prayer… please forgive me for cussing, forgive me for not going to church, or sorry God for fulfilling my needy desires with online shopping.  Although repentance is important and necessary.  This was not a prayer of God I need this or that.  This was a prayer… God, I know the answers are in this book.  I desire to know your ways and love you only.  Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.  Psalm 119:18  One of my favorite scriptures to pray.

There are many other scriptures you could pray.  Here is a list of a few:  Isaiah 40:8, Psalm 25:5, Psalm 119:27, 2 Samuel 7:28, Psalm 119:103, 2 Timothy 3:16-17

This is praying the will of God in your life.  He wants us to seek Him and know Him.  Two ways we can know Him more are praying for knowledge and understanding and then read/study His Word.

I am now at the point where I look up and an hour has passed reading and studying His Word and to be honest I don’t usually want to close this precious book.  But, a shower needs to be taken and we are called to go live and proclaim this beautiful Truth that God loves us so much He sent Jesus to save us and through Jesus we have Life!

“But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”    1 Corinthians‬ ‭15:57‬ ‭NIV‬‬

There are several other steps that have helped me engage in God’s word but for today I encourage you to start with 5 minutes and most importantly Pray!  God has answered my prayer and I delight in his Word and he will answer your prayer too.  Thanks be to God!

A great study I recommend is Open Your Bible by Rachel Myers and Amanda Bible Williams.

Friends, I have never stopped thanking God for you.  I pray for you constantly, asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you might grow in your knowledge of God.  I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the wonderful future he has promised to those he called.  I want you to realize what a rich and glorious inheritance he has given to his people.  Ephesians 1:16-18

Broken…New…Waiting…

Well, hello pencil and paper.  It’s been a while since I have written and to be honest the words seem a little stuck.  Stuck maybe because I haven’t been digging as deep into God’s Word as I desire to be… Or in a busy season of motherhood… Or maybe because I have been broken…

I am now at a place where I’m seeing the Light through the broken cracks, experiencing newness and waiting upon the Lord.

“From the depths of despair, O Lord, I call for your help.” ‭‭Psalms‬ ‭130:1‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Brokenness is difficult but oh how I love when I begin to see the Light through the cracks.  The Light tenderly pieces us back together.  Perhaps, we sometimes must be broken to lift our eyes to Jesus, to seek Him more than ever.  Brokenness will bring us to a place where we finally realize, the Lord is our helper.  He is all we need.

Sometimes as the Lord begins to piece the brokenness back together there are new steps we must take in obedience, like when Moses went back to Egypt to set God’s people free after he had killed a man or when Ruth chose to stay with Naomi and then work in Boaz’s field.  Both of these situations would have been unfamilar and new.  This is where I am shaky and I always drag my feet.  But, I remember my brothers and sisters I have read about in the Bible and I look back on my own life.  I remember obedience to the Lord is always good.  Like the time almost two years ago when His still tender voice kept urging me to write.  I can look back and see how He has drawn me closer through being obedient in writing and sharing Truth.

“And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, if you obey the voice of the Lord your God.” ‭‭Deuteronomy‬ ‭28:2‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Even after taking these new steps of obedience, it might take a while to get an answer or results so we wait upon the Lord.  For me, I am learning that waiting on the Lord is completely trusting He knows best.  He is working good in the waiting, so stick with God and keep waiting.

“Yet I am confident I will see the Lord’s goodness while I am here in the land of the living. Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.” Psalms‬ ‭27:13-14‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Faith is rising up like ivy

Reaching for the light

Hope is stirring deep inside me

Making all things right

Love is lifting me from sorrow

Catching every tear

Dispelling every lie and torment

Crushing all my fears

~The Garden by Kari Jobe

If you are broken, hang on and look for the Light through the cracks.  He loves you!

If you are in the new, seek the Lord and keep obeying.

If you are waiting, trust the promises that you know are true.  You will see the Lord’s goodness.

Kombucha for the Soul

I want to finish the race.  I want to fight the good fight.  I don’t know if I will hear, “Well done.”  But, it is my goal.

I read this on my kombucha tonight, which by the way, this bitter slimy drink is suppose to be doing amazing wonders in my gut.  Whether it is working wonders or not, only God knows.

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I found these words encouraging after battles at the dinner table and a family devotional that felt well… somewhat useless.

“Just try your veggies.”

“Be thankful for what is on your plate.”

“Stop focusing on blowing bubbles with your gum and listen to the Bible story.”

Small battles, yes, but I have felt myself growing tiresome.

I don’t write personal goals down but I know some of the things I am working towards.

I desire to be a loving wife.

I desire to point my kids to Christ.

I desire to become a better writer.

I desire for our family to live healthier.

I desire for my life to glorify God.

I desire to fight the good fight. I want to remain faithful and finish the race the Lord has set before me and hear, “Well done.”

Then life happens.  These goals are not attained quickly nor easily.  Struggles come and there is the thought, “Just give up.  Is it really worth it?  Does anyone care?  Does it matter?”

In this moment when lies began to fill my mind, my gaze fell upon these words,

“When setting goals, count any movement towards it as a measure of success; even the smallest step.”

Putting the veggies on the plate is a small step.

Getting little humans to sit in the same place while you read the Bible is a small step.

Registering for that online writing class even though you are just on lesson 2 is a small step.

If we are moving toward God, we are moving in the right direction; even if they are baby steps.  If we are seeking God and our goals are God focused, every tiny step is success.  So at the end of each day find your tiny steps of success.  What seems small just might have giant kingdom results.

“Fight the good fight for the true faith. Hold tightly to the eternal life to which God has called you.”
‭‭1 Timothy‬ ‭6:12‬

“But you should keep a clear mind in every situation. Don’t be afraid of suffering for the Lord. Work at bringing others to Christ. Complete the ministry God has given you.” 2 Timothy 4:5

Friends, these words are not just for Timothy, they are for you and I too.  Keep fighting, keep running, or jogging or walking!  Keep loving and serving your family.  Keep seeking truth.  Complete the ministry God has given you.  One miraculous day when we meet Jesus face to face, we will discover it was all worth it.

Settle Down

A bit restless they eyed us with caution.  Who are you and why are you close?  They needed to learn we were there to care for them.

On this cool overcast May morning, our family rode through some new yearlings.  Trying to figure out their new surroundings, they were somewhat  unsettled.  Our purpose was to simply be present and settle them down.  My husband whispered instructions to us.

“Be quiet.  Don’t ride at them, gently ride around them.”

Maybe after a few times of riding through them, they might be more settled in our presence.

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For several weeks, the Lord has been whispering to my heart, settle down.  I hear but I have not settled.  Fear has gripped my heart and I have been striving to be a perfect mom, spouse, and church member.  With enough research, I can figure out how to fix things around me and have an effective ministry.  Yikes, writing that out sounds worse than I thought.  Yes, I have been in fix it mode and it has left me tired and unsettled.

My head knows the Lord cares for my family and I and I need not worry about anything, oh but how easily I forget.  I have been eyeing the Lord with caution and living unsettled.

But, this morning He whispered, “Settle down.”

There is no need to be cautious when it comes to trusting the Lord God Almighty.

You are secure.  The name of the Lord is a strong fortress; the godly run to him and are safe. Proverbs 18:10

You can stop striving.  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  I feel like I write and say this scripture often but when am I really going to get it?  We will not be settled until we truly believe this truth.

In her book Seamless, Angie Smith says,

“We aren’t God.  That means we can’t “put ourselves in His place,”  and any attempts to apply our own standards and expectations on Him are basically futile.  He is entirely separate from us, and fully sovereign-meaning He can do what He wants when He wants.  He is also fully love so what He does is ultimately loving whether we can presently understand or not.”  (pg 24)

Thank goodness all of our nutty striving, will not change God’s good plan!

You can settle in the Lord.  Settle, meaning to quiet, calm or to bring to rest.

Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you.  Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke fits perfectly, and the burden I give you is light.”

Lord, help us remember, we find true rest in the shadow of the Almighty.  Help us follow You, knowing You are working all things together for good for those that love You.  May we rest in our loving Father!