You are fearfully and wonderfully made.
Anything that opposes that is a lie. Don't believe it.
Seems pretty clear...
Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory. So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desires. Don’t be greedy, for a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world. Because of these sins, the anger of God is coming. You used to do these things when your life was still part of this world. But now is the time to get rid of anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander, and dirty language. Don’t lie to each other, for you have stripped off your old sinful nature and all its wicked deeds. In this new life, it doesn’t matter if you are a Jew or a Gentile, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbaric, uncivilized, slave, or free. Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us. Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful. Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father. Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting for those who belong to the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and never treat them harshly. Children, always obey your parents, for this pleases the Lord. Fathers, do not aggravate your children, or they will become discouraged. Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything you do. Try to please them all the time, not just when they are watching you. Serve them sincerely because of your reverent fear of the Lord. Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ. But if you do what is wrong, you will be paid back for the wrong you have done. For God has no favorites.
Sometimes I don't feel God near. I wonder where to find Him or if I'll find Him. I end up working really hard to connect with Him and wear myself out in the process because I'm led to believe His work and His touch can only be demonstrated when I am behaving well.
I was reminded this morning that He is always there and He can speak and will speak when I just sit still and allow my heart to spill out before Him. He reminds me of His way. And He reminds me of His will. And He gently offers for me to choose it.
Dear beloved daughter...
I see you. And I hear you.
Even though you sometimes feel that I'm nowhere near or that I've given up on you. I haven't. I never will.
I saw this morning when you chose grace over your natural response and I want you to know I am pleased. Your choosing grace over anger was big for you. This is My way and choosing it will not be wasted.
I've also been watching you struggle lately. What you are experiencing is nothing that I can't handle. You are in a season of life where many choose the path that is wide...the one that seeks to elevate self. That is not My Way. And many who choose it get lost in their journey. Some make it back to the narrow path and are blessed but some drift into a cycle of defeat and have no idea how they got there. It all comes down to a simple choice that seems more difficult than it really is.
In this time I encourage you to keep seeking Me and My Way. When you don't know what to do, be still and know that I am God. When you don't know what to pray, sing a song of praise. When you don't know where to go, thank Me. It's in those places where I can demonstrate to you just how very much I love and care about you.
Above all else know that I will never leave you or forsake you.
You are my daughter. The one I created and made...fearfully and wonderfully.
So today...rejoice. I made this day for you and it is a bigger gift than you could possibly understand.
John 14:6 Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.
Psalm 46:10 “Be still, and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world.”
Hebrews 13:5 Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”
Psalm 118:24 This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.
I downloaded this song by Zach Williams over the weekend. Jesus is this and more. So much more.
John 6:9 (The MSG)
One of the disciples—it was Andrew, brother to Simon Peter—said, “There’s a little boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish. But that’s a drop in the bucket for a crowd like this.”
This morning in my quiet time, my Bible study lesson had me working in John 6 where Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand. It seemed appropriate and not at all coincidental to land here on the eve of our nation's presidential election.
In the context of this passage are Jesus, two of His disciples, Philip and Andrew, and a little boy who had a basket with five small barley loaves and two small fish. Oh...and a crowd of 5,000 who were hungry. One disciple when asked about the way to feed this mass of hungry people answered with a grim outlook, "Eight months' wages would not buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!" Andrew, with a tad more optimism, spoke up and said, "Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?"
And then there was the boy who just had a basket with a little bit of food in it. It wasn't much, but it was something. It was all he had, and he offered it.
Jesus took it from there.
John 6:11 - Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish. When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, "Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted."
It occurred to me that we as Christians can take the stance of any one of these three. All three were taken with Jesus. All three followed him. One saw no way possible. Another one saw the resource and then limited it with the word but. The little one with the basket of bread and fish gave what he had and did not question anything further. He just offered it.
My friends who are believers...all we have to offer up is our prayer and our vote. In our own eyes it may seem small and insignificant and that it won't make much of a difference, but it's an offering nonetheless, and what He does with it could be nothing short of a miracle.
I don't profess to know what is going to happen tomorrow with our election, or the next day, or the day after that. All I know is what I can offer up. I don't want to see with my own eyes because my vision is so limited; and I absolutely don't want to be a follower of Christ who puts limits on God Almighty. I just want to offer what I have. And in this day and in this election all that encompasses is my prayers and my vote.
I'm thankful to still have that.
So I stuck my finger in my toddler's mouth yesterday, and I found three new molars at the back...
Now I know why he's been a maniac for the last two months.
The lump in my throat grew bigger with each tear that fell from my toddler's eyes that morning. I could feel the depth of his desire as if it were my own. And as his mommy, my desire to fulfill his was just as great. All I was able to do was hold him close and tell him I understood.
As he peered over the half-door into his classroom all he could see on the table was the playdoh. Again. It was the same tired activity he did yesterday. And the day before. Oh...and the day before that. He just couldn't bear to mold that dough into one more sea creature. Summer camp should be so much more!
With his head buried in my shoulder he lamented once more, "I want to build sandcastles."
Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.” The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.
The last couple weeks have been hard fought. Our toddler is in the throes of discovering and testing limits, boundaries, and rules. Testing is an understatement. He is boldly facing his giants and strategically taking them down! I am not going to lie...I am one of them!
This is the part of children that people don't speak of in detail. It is referred to as the terrible twos but people just don't go into detail, and now I know why. It is a season parents want to block out and not speak of for fear of ending up in a corner sucking a thumb in the fetal position. It's horrible. It's unpredictable. It can sneak up on you and knock your feet right out from under you leaving you sprawled on the floor with the overwhelming temptation to tap out!
Anyway...alongside the terrible twos, our little one is in the midst of his 2 year old sleep regression. Y'all...I can't even...
It's been hard on us. It's been hard on him. Our marriage has definitely been tested. And I've been on my knees a lot. I know God has a sense of humor which is why I think he thought up the whole idea of parenting. Yesterday, while the rest of the nation was celebrating the 4th of July, we got a reprieve from all the stress of nobody sleeping.
The man child finally went down for a nap and we were trying to get stuff together to get out of the house for some holiday fun. B was in the office figuring out which local festivities we would attend and I was working on gathering all the stuff you have to take with you when you leave the house with a toddler. You know...all the snacks, swim gear, festival wear, and items that will distract them when they lose it over not being able to push the stroller "by self!" But also all the items you'll need if you suddenly have to change activities for no good reason whatsoever!
I was on the back porch getting towels that had been left to dry in the sun and when I picked one up from the ground something darted out from under it so quickly I couldn't see what it was. But when something moves that quickly...uhhh...I do too!! I was back up by the door in one leap looking for it when it darted across the porch again. A spider! I have never in all of my years of seeing spiders seen one move that quickly. And it freaked me out! It not only ran fast but it was big and brown.
When he stopped to rest, I hurried inside to get a shoe for killing doing my best to remain quiet so not to wake the beast in the crib. I couldn't yell for Brad nor did I have time to go get him. It was all on me and I was praying for the God of the Angel Armies to give me some power!
When I returned with my weapon he was still resting under the water table. As I was about to strike him, he took off TOWARD me! OH.EM.GEE!!! In one giant leap I was across the patio and in the doorway. Peering over my shoulder to spot the enemy, he had disappeared.
Sweating and out of breath, I came inside and closed the door totally freaked. Brad came walking in to see what all the ruckus was. Red-faced and panting I said, "Spider. Big. Brown. I can't. It's scary! It might be inside. I don't know. Please help!"
So B took over. We looked around inside and couldn't find him, so he...very carefully and quietly...went back out to the porch. Shoe in hand, he began slowly and methodically lifting things to find that sucker. After several minutes we decided he probably ran back into the yard and we would not find him. I had been standing on the inside of the doorway cheering him on. Brad made a move to walk inside and when he did, that stinkin spider darted in front of him and came toward me again! He was now inside my house! We were both running and that thing was chasing us. Brad was yelling, "Get me some bug spray," and I was silently screaming as I was sprinting to the bathroom. We WERE NOT going to wake the babe!
When I got back in to the living room, Brad had him cornered. I handed him the wasp and hornet poison and he drenched it. He wanted to make sure he was dead so he struck him with the killing shoe 4 or 5 times while that thing bounced all over the place.
Y'all. I was undone!
And then we laughed. And laughed. And it was a welcome sight to see in this house.
Only God can know how big life situations and circumstances can be to us. As we try to distract our toddler, so He finds things to divert our eyes to help us lighten up. And I know He had to be getting a kick out of watching us run from that spider.
Only Jesus could know how far He's brought me and the depths from which he has rescued me. I'm humbled and grateful. Deeply grateful.
He is my rock. My portion. My deliverer. And because of Him I am no longer a slave to fear.
Proverbs 31:25 She is clothed in strength and dignity, and she can laugh at the days to come.
Applying my mascara last Sunday morning, I noticed that all manner of wrinkle lines were extending up and out from the top and bottom of my pursed lips. Always on the lookout for natural things that will help me look, feel, and act younger, I remembered an article that I read somewhere at some point in time that said that if you smiled more, the less wrinkles you would have. Since I’m not one to believe everything I read, I SO tried it!!
It was quite a sight…me applying my make-up with the biggest, most fake smile you could imagine. I resembled a goofy character from SNL. But as I continued to smile from ear to ear, my smile turned to a giggle because I looked so darn nuts in the mirror. As I pictured my husband walking in while I was smiling, that giggle turned into laughing...ya know...hard. Like belly laughing. Then tears...oh the tears...were messing up my freshly applied make-up but I wouldn't stop. As soon as I gained composure, the giggling began again. And I spent a good 5 minutes cracking myself up.
And you know...it completely changed my morning. I mean...I wasn't in a cranky mood to begin with; I guess I was just kinda blah...going through the motions to get on with my day, but by the time I finished my little experiment, I actually had joy. My heart felt lighter. My worries were absent in the midst of those moments. And my inner voice was at peace. It was good. It was different. It was good.
In the day after dayness of my journey, I hope I can remember this...that joy isn't something that just comes natural to me. I'm fairly certain my husband would agree! And neither is any other fruit of the Spirit. In this world where heartache, pain, bad news, monotony, and ick constantly surround us, joy is something to be pursued; and to obtain it takes action. Plastering a goofy smile across my face while I apply make-up; finding a way to make unfunny things funny; waking up early to spend quiet time with the Lord; whatever I must do I must do!