When I’m feeling discouraged, frustrated and feel like life is impossible, I flip open my bible to Ezekial 37. In it, we find God and the prophet Ezekial having a walk and talk in the middle of a valley filled with dry bones. Almost immediately God asks him, “Son of man, can these bones live?”
No spoilers here, you’ll have to dig in and read it for yourself but let me just say, that what transpires in chapter 37 never ceases to remind me of God’s promises and all that He is able to do.
Which is exactly why I turned to this chapter to begin with. Extremely long hours at work, bouts of frustration and worry, poor sleep and eating habits and very limited time for myself and my family had left me wondering if this was all my life was chalked up to be. I’d been traveling this road for more than 18 months and when I met a good friend for lunch, she took one look at me and said, “Oh my goodness Amy, you’re not just exhausted, you are bone dead tired.”
Yep! I needed me some rest in Jesus.
As I continued to read, 4 highlighted words at the bottom of chapter 36 caught my attention, “Once again, I will.”
Wait a minute, what?
Again…? You will…?
Ok Lord, I hear You.
Perfect timing, again.
Once again, I will.
A promise given. A promise kept.
Lord, you knew my heart before I knew how much I needed You.
I’m in this sticky wicket because I didn’t rely on God.
Notice I didn’t say that God didn’t show up, I said, I chose to do life without Him.
How many times have I done this? Countless.
How many times has the Lord been with me? Every. Single. Time.
God never leaves my side. He shows up in my life like no one else. Providing hope, meeting tangible needs, answering some of my prayers while thankfully foregoing others, all so that I could repeatedly experience His goodness even when I don’t deserve an ounce of it.
God is good. He is gracious. He is kind and loving and never, ever leaves my side.
Now that’s not to say, the human in me, doesn’t get frustrated because when I’m at my lowest and needing a friend, I feel like a need a human presence to walk with me. I cry out in frustration and anger because I feel lonely.
I need a friend, someone to hold my hand, lend a hug and remind me that it’ll all be alright.
God is with me, closer than any friend.
When I’ve worked myself into exhaustion or when life has kicked me down too many times I can’t get back up, I pick up my bible, grab my journal and start talking to Jesus.
He’s been waiting.
It doesn’t matter how many times we fail, fall down, or forget. God is waiting for us to look up and remember, He is with us, ready to act on our behalf.
Thank You Father.
The Psalmist in 145:8-10 reminds us that, “The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. The Lord is good to all, and His mercy is over all the He has made. All your works shall give thanks to you, O Lord, and all You saints shall bless you!”
A call to remembrance and joy.
When you look at your life, how many times can you think of God doing good? Or lending a listening ear when you needed it the most?
I’ll admit, I’m human and I forget all the Lord has done for me.
Amazing, miraculous, stunning, beautiful miracles that 99.9% of the time I take for granted.
Like the days I held each of my sons, moments after they were born.
Or when He took my father home to heaven before Parkinson’s could completely ravage his mind and body, saving my mother from future memories that would’ve haunted her forever.
A prayer answered.
And with each one, His gentle whisper reminds me, Once again, I will.
Can you look back on your life and define those moments where God’s hands were tangibly working out every detail? Are you able to look back in hindsight and then upwards in gratitude for the good God has done in your life?
I pray you will be able to see that our God is good, He is faithful and has shown you just how much He loves you.
Take time, look back, see what God has done and be thankfully mindful today for all the good in your life. And when life gets the best of us again, let these memories come flooding back, drawing you back into the arms of God who will always say to us, “Once again, I will.”
Jeremiah 23:28 – “Let these false prophets tell their dreams, but let my true messengers faithfully proclaim my every word. There is a difference between straw and grain.”
Grain and stalk. True messengers and false prophets. One is good for health and growth and the other is a by-product of little to no nutritional value.
The context of Jeremiah 23 describes how the Israelites had been led astray due to the preaching of false prophets.
I see examples of false prophets all the time. We are told in a thousand different ways that how we see ourselves, what we think, do and act is acceptable depending on how we individually chose to interpret the world. Some even go so far as to preach this false narrative to others as a way to inflate their personal beliefs while pulling unsuspecting Christians away from God, by ever-so-slightly twisting the Word to meet their agenda.
I believe God uses the analogy of the straw and grain to remind His children that what starts out from the very same seed will in fact, be divided through the act of threshing. Stalks on one side, grain on another. Stalk is used for bedding with very little nutritional value. While the grain is full of nutrients and leads to good health and the growth of all who partake. The same can be said of false prophets and true messengers.
But let’s face it, sometimes the line between the way the world and God’s calling for His children, can seem blurry and at times, invisible. So then, how can we distinguish between the two?
First off, Christians are called to seek God for wisdom and discernment so that we are not led astray.Proverbs 2:6 – “For the Lord gives wisdom, and from His mouth come knowledge and understanding.”
Friends, let us remember that wisdom and discernment don’t happen overnight. Very much like the threshing process to divide grain and straw, it takes time, effort and hard work. And… sometimes our lessons can be painful. But if we will determine to seek God is all that we do, wait to hear His voice, then through time, we will grow in His wisdom and be able to discern between those who are trying to lead us away from the Lord.
Remember, threshing is tough stuff!
Yet, it is in these challenging times where God gifts us the opportunity of a deeper relationship with Him, while growing us in His wisdom by way of us seeking Him through prayer and His word.
For those who call Him Lord, let us apply the following to our lives so that we may be considered grain and His true messengers, able to share the love of Christ to all.
Here are 4 ways to grow in wisdom and discernment
Seek God Through His Word – As we spend time in the Word, we begin to learn the character of the Lord and with the help of the Holy Spirit discern good vs. bad.James 1:5, reminds us that we can always go to the Lord on anything: “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.”I love this verse because not only does it encourage us to seek God and share with Him our needs but it reminds me how loving, kind and eager our God is to communicate with us, at any time.
Acknowledge – Once I’ve prayed and spent time in the Word, I need to also make room for my own shortcomings. I know I’m human and can make mistakes every single minute and that includes talking myself into my own wisdom. So I need to ask God to forgive and lead me. Remember, God calls each of His children to be “true messengers,” and in some translations, we are required to “speak His word faithfully.” Why? So we can refute false teachings and prevent others from being led astray. At the same time, we are able to share the love of Christ to all, offering love, hope, healing and compassion to desperate waiting world.
In fact, 1 John 4:9-11 – encourages us to love one another the way God first loved us, “This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”
Pray – Ask God to reveal His truth in scripture to any situation in your life. Psalm 37:30-31 teaches us, “The mouth of the righteous man utters wisdom, and his tongue speaks what is just. The law of his God is in his heart; his feet do not slip.” Often times while I’m in prayer over a challenging situation, I’ll ask God to bubble to the surface any wrongdoing, any evil or malcontented information that He believes I should know about. I find that through the Holy Spirit, and the study of His word, God will begin to speak and the truth of any situation will come to light. This in turn causes me to trust God more and to seek Him more because His ways are always just.
Act – Be careful that you truly listen to God’s calling on any given situation, sometimes, yes, we are called into action. To speak truth, to step into a situation either through prayer or by actually giving our presence to the situation. But remember, God may also call us to “stand firm.” Stand firm doesn’t mean do nothing, it means be prepared to wait for God’s command. “Philippians 1:27“Conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel.”
“There is a difference between straw and grain!”
This is so true – there is difference between those who would lead others astray and those who love the Lord.
And at the end of the day, God judges our hearts, so if we, as sinners, people who make mistakes constantly, can realize our need for the Lord, ask Him forgiveness for any/all harm we have done, He is quick to forgive us.
To me that’s the most amazing thing about our God loves us. He pursues us, died for us, wants to walk every minute of every day with us and wants to talk with us.
Think about that for just a minute – if we were the “false prophet who is/was nutritionally defunct,” and trying to get others to be just as empty as we were, trust me, when I tell you that God, in His infinite love for you can change you from a stalk to a grain!
In fact, He gave His Son Jesus to pay the price for every sin ever committed. All we need to do, is to come Him with a repentant heart and invite Him into our lives so that He may change us.
If my people who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. – 2 Chronicles 7:14
Amen! The promises of the Lord are great and never-ending!
Until we meet again dear friend,
I am praying God touches your heart and changes your life!
Maybe it was the combination of Good Friday falling on my dad’s 4th heavenly birthday and the solemnness that emanated from the Tenebrae service I attended at church that caused my mind to wander down the road of contemplating how death impacts those left behind.
Years before dad passed, I started to prepare myself for the one-day-inevitable. I’ve worked in senior health care for much of my career and seen my fair share of road traveled with life ending diseases. And as much as I loved my dad and wished that Parkinson’s wasn’t wracking his body, I knew what lay ahead, the disease would win, strip me of my father and I’d never see him again, this side of heaven.
I’m guessing Mary Magdalene and the disciples also understood the finality of death. After all, we live in a fallen world and know that while life is beautiful and precious, it also carries with it finality.
That was before Jesus entered their lives and flipped the script of life and death.
For three solid years they followed, watched, listened, learned and were profoundly changed by His Holy presence.
But then, in one fell swoop, Christ was gone.
Can you just imagine their heartache and confusion? They knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that Jesus was The Holy Christ, Son of God, and yet, He died a human death. But why? Why would Jesus die like us?
Now for us, and even for Mary and the others, prior to the resurrection, we accept death and its finality as a part of living this life. But let’s imagine for a moment if there was a knock at the door and your beloved family member who had recently died, stood before you, fully healed, healthy and they join you for dinner.
What would you think? You might think someone was playing a cruel joke on you or maybe you’d believe they were an image created in your mind because of grief.
Look at Mary. She’s overcome with grief and as one final act of reverence she comes to prepare the body for burial. But the moment she enters the tomb her grief turns to bewilderment, fear and confusion. What has happened to her Lord? She turns to the man standing next to her, thinking he is the gardener, “Sir, where have you moved the body?”
It’s understandable to me that she doesn’t recognize who she is talking to, because the last time she laid eyes on Christ, He’d been brutally beaten beyond recognizability and let’s face it, no one comes back from death. Yet, the man before her is whole and healthy.
So can you imagine when the eyes of her heart were opened and the truth of who stood before her over road the logic in her brain? Shock, disbelief, confusion, and joy! Oh my! The unprecedented joy! Your brain tells you no! But you heart says, yes!
Jesus is alive!
I love how Mary Magdalene grabs hold of Jesus when she realizes He is standing next to her.
In fact, there’s this image floating around the internet that I think speaks to how I imagine Mary jumping into His arms when she realizes Jesus was alive!
Look at her joy! Death did not win!
In this moment is where the hope of Christ springs forth!
For three agonizing days many believed death had had its last word and won. But then, just as He promised, our precious Lord stands before us, filling us once again with hope and joy!
Holy truth! Jesus made a promise, and He kept His word!
Amen and Amen!!!
The idea of Jesus coming back from death to stand among us, to show us that even death held no power over our Lord and that He conquered the very moment that brings such grief and finality is absolutely mind boggling. But that’s exactly what Jesus did.
Oh, how they must’ve rejoiced and been confused all at the same time, don’t you think? I bet their thoughts volleyed back and forth, finally settling on one conclusion, Jesus said it, He meant it and He did it!
But what about us and our loved ones? We know death to be final and the permanence weighs heavier on our hearts than simply missing them due to time, placement and distance.
Christ again gives hope by reminding us that through Him we do not need to grieve as the world grieves. We can rejoice in the truth that death no longer carries permanency. One day just as He promised to John in the book of Revelations 3:11a, “I am coming soon.”
The definition of soon means, “without unnecessary delay and in perfect timing.”
Doesn’t that change your perspective of life and death? Yes, death happens and there is plenty of heartache. But there can also be joy! Because just as Jesus showed us that death has no power over Him, we too can embrace the fact that death has lost its sting. One day, either because we draw our last breath or Christ returns, we do not need to live in grief as one who has no hope.
Yes, I will miss my dad until I see him again face to face and knowing I will see him again because of what Christ has done, eases the sting of losing him for now.
If you have lost a loved one, I pray that the truth, love and hope of Christ comforts your hearts.
“And now, dear brothers and sisters, we want you to know what will happen to the believers who have died so you will not grieve like people who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again, we also believe that when Jesus returns, God will bring back with Him the believers who have died.” ~ 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14
Until we meet again, may God keep you in perfect peace.
God whispered these words into my heart and an image of my adult stepdaughter Josie came to mind.
It’s been 6 quiet years since our last set of texts with nothing in between except tidbits of information filtered through various extended family members.
One might think it odd that God would bring Josie to mind since there really isn’t much of a relationship to speak of. As far as I knew, she was happy with her life, her husband and children and wanted for nothing. Certainly, as it pertains to me as a stepmom, I got the message loud and clear when she stopped responding. It was clear, she was an adult now with her own family and based on her lack of response to my efforts, I surmised the last thing she wanted was a stepmom.
But I know God. When He brings someone to mind, it’s for a reason. Sometimes God brings a person to mind with a nudge to take action, either through a phone call, text or dinner. Other times, like this one, the only nudge I got from the Lord was to pray and so I did. Here’s what I came up with during that time, I pray it will encourage you like it did me to never give and to always follow the leading of the Lord.
As a mom this is a no-brainer, but when you’re a stepmom and your family story looks like its been scripted for a a Lifetime movie, exhaustion forces you into survival mode and prayer is gone faster than you can change channels.
Which is why God’s whisper was a wonderful prompt and one that gave me hope that I could finally do something. For far too long, I’d felt helpless, unable to shore up the damage being done with every tug-of-war battle that eventually pulled my family apart. This wasn’t the way I envisioned our family. I never wanted anger, tears or heartbreak. In fact, when Josie came into my life I saw happily-ever-afters, BBQ’s and sunsets. I still wanted that for us.
So for the rest of the morning the Lord and I walked through His word, digging up passages and defining areas for growth and for task. He showed me a multitude of ways I could stand in the gap for my stepdaughter, lifting her in prayer. He also reminded me that prayer doesn’t mean I need to be involved in her life on a day-to-day basis. Instead, God wanted my obedience to do the behind the scenes work He’d set before me, and to trust Him. He wasn’t promising me the Hallmark version of my life. He was offering me healing by way of praying for Josie.
What about you? How can you begin to pray for your stepdaughter today? If you don’t know, ask God. He’ll bring to mind areas of her life that need your prayers. Maybe she’s having a tough time at school or starting a new job. Or maybe she’s a new mom and struggling to balance work and home life.
Whatever God brings to mind, pray for her in those areas. Also, if you’d like to take your prayers one step farther, one of my all time favorite authors is Elizabeth George and she’s written a great book called, “A Mom After God’s Own Heart” that will lend plenty of tools and topics to prayerfully consider for your stepdaughter.
1 Chronicles 16:11 “Seek the Lord and His strength, seek His presence continually!”
Oh, this is a hard one for me. You too? I think as women we tend to hold onto memories, hurts, bitterness and unforgiveness, rehashing them over and over in our minds until we’re frothy with anger and ready to lash out in pain.
Ladies, if our families are to be restored we must first look to ourselves, admit what we’re holding onto and seek God’s forgiveness. He doesn’t want us to wallow in ugly memories. He wants us to be healed. But to do that, we must first acknowledge our need of the Lord.
James 4:10 invites us to, “Humble yourselves before the Lord and He will lift you up.” Can you imagine what it would look like to view your family through the lens of love and not worry that they’ll be caked with pain?
What a promise of hope!
Let us be stepmoms who ask for forgiveness and then eagerly offer it to those around us.
Ephesians 4:32 “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”
The biblical meaning for restoration is to receive back more than what has been lost to the degree that the new is better than the original condition.
Don’t you love that?
When we think of something being restored, like an old dresser, we think of taking it back to its original state. God takes restoration one step further and promises to make it better than the way it started out!
What a promise!
In order to move forward in our relationships we need to be healed of the pain that has destroyed us and our families. God can restore our relationships; not back to the way they started but in a richer, sweeter more precious way than we can ever imagine.
I think back to when I was a young woman, newly married, no kids, when Josie came into my life, and oh my! Even my best efforts don’t seem worth much in light of the damage that’s been done. I need restoration! I need God to make me better than I was if I’m going to be a blessing to my stepdaughter. Lord, please hear my prayer and please restore me to a new improved step mom!
If that’s your prayer too, be encouraged dear friend. We serve a mighty, loving God who is in the business of restoration. Just look at His gift to us through His precious Son Jesus Christ. He gave us His Son, would He not want restoration and healing for your family? Of course He does! God is a God of restoration and right relationships.
Lamentations 3:33-34 “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, His mercies never come to an end, they are new every morning, great is Your faithfulness.”
Set Aside Expectations
I don’t know about you but this is a hard one for me because at the root of it all, I want everything to work out perfectly. However, as our family is living on the flip side of 3 decades of brokenness, you will see that all of our expectations and best efforts have failed. Why? Because we tried making those expectations work without ever seeking God. We thought we were doing the right thing, but with every failure, came more pain until all we were doing was reacting in a knee-jerk response to the previous heartbreak.
But wait! I believe God is doing a mighty work in our lives which will require us to lay our expectations at the feet of Jesus.
Let us trust God that He has brought our stepdaughters to mind for His reasons, not ours. Our job is to seek Him in every step He leads us in/through. While we walk with Him through this restoration let us ask Him to heal our brokenness, our need to be right, or acknowledged. Let us lay down our hurts, dreams and disappointments so that God can do a mighty work in us!
Trust the Lord for He is good and He does good.
James 3:17 “But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.”
Pray For Healing
I know I started with prayer so I’d like to end with prayer.
It goes without saying that healing is needed. Without it old wounds are reopened, new hurts are added and relationships are permanently destroyed.
Maybe your family looks like it can’t be salvaged. So does mine.
All is not lost! God is in the business of resurrecting the dead, the broken and hurting. He is into turning lives around so that His love is revealed to a waiting world.
Be encouraged my friend, I know it’s not easy being a stepmom. But I believe, even in our mistakes and our weaknesses, God can take hurt, broken stepmoms and turn us into mighty prayer warriors for our stepdaughters and our families. I believe with God we can be healed and families restored.
Will you commit to start today? Can you find it in yourself to spend time with the Lord and ask Him what His will is for you, your stepdaughter and your family? I pray you God will draw you closer to Himself and bless your requests that all that has been destroyed will be restored. I trust that He will give you the opportunity to start again, walk with Him, trusting in Him for every detail in your relationship between you, your stepdaughter and every single person involved. He is a mighty God and can do miraculous things!
Philippians 4:6-7 “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything; tell God your needs, and don’t forget to thank him for his answers. 7 If you do this, you will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will keep your thoughts and your hearts quiet and at rest as you trust in Christ Jesus.”
In the past 4 months, I would bet most of you have experienced change. LOTS. OF. CHANGE.
Prior to COVID my husband and I were anticipating a soon-to-be empty nest. June was our deadline to have both of our adult sons out of the home and on their own.
Until the whole world was flipped upside down and our old ways of living turned into a “new norm.”
Not ones who get too upset by change we figured, what’s a few more months? We’ve come this far with the boys at home, what’s a little more time?
But let me be real here. We were disappointed.
Now don’t get me wrong, we love our boys. Like many of you, outside of breaking the law or something like bungee jumping off a bridge, The Hubs and I would do anything for them.
But when our plans for empty nesting flew out the window, we had to seriously take a step back and reevaluate the next timeline. How long would they be staying? When would they leaving? With COVID always looming over our daily lives, would they be leaving?
Eventually our disappointment washed away, we began accepting that we don’t know what tomorrow brings. We can plan and prepare but until the opportunity to actually help our sons move out, we’re all in a status quo.
This was our lives until, 2 months ago, our lives changed yet again. Expectations of a future tomorrow where the it’ll just be me and The Hubs once again flew out the window faster than a fly being chased by a swatter.
Mom moved home.
Yep. You read that right.
Mom moved home.
Dad passed away almost 2 years ago and the grief for mom is overwhelming. She feels lost. No one and no where feels like home. Which is understandable because let’s face it, you can’t live 50+ years with a spouse and expect to go on living as if nothing’s changed the moment the funeral is over.
Grief, loss and loneliness come in waves. They crash into her day like an unexpected tsunami leaving emotional debris and destruction in its wake.
So when the call came that she was thinking she’d like to come up for the summer, I had to be really honest, like, look Ma, we’re at capacity, but if you want to jump in, we’re here to catch you.
Jump she did.
Which basically equates to 5 humans and 4 dogs under 1 roof.
So how are we coping-slash-surviving?
Grace, grace, grace, grace, grace, grace, grace, grace upon more grace, upon more grace, grace, grace, grace and finally…grace!
Yep. All from the good Lord above.
“My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” ~ 2 Corinthians 12:9
God’s grace. My weakness. His perfect sufficiency.
We’ve all come to reside under one roof. Seeking rest and healing from all of our own individual trials. We are broken people with disappointments, hurt, anger, frustration and now COVID. Seriously…if my house isn’t the next Instapot ready to explode I’m not sure what is.
God is able. With lots of prayers, God is able to give grace and understanding on a moment to moment basis.
Let’s be real here. It’s not all roses and candy. There are testy moments because of unspoken expectations, misunderstandings when we stop being the poster child of “we’ve got it all under control” and fight our human nature to simply explode on one another.
Prayers are my lifeline.
It’s not easy. Trust me. There are moments when I’m caught in the crossfire of a rebellious adult child and my mother giving me the “you-oughta-do -something-right-this-minute” look.
Yes, there are moments when my sanity is tested. That’s when I walk away. Clearer heads prevail. Emotions, tend to get me in trouble and make matters worse.
God is able.
He alone is abundantly capable to heal our damaged lives while giving us the tools to gracefully co-exist in a multi-generational home.
When we as believers sit at the feet of Jesus and ask Him to lead us in this new life we can find rest, strength, wisdom, grace and every tool necessary to walk with the grace of Christ in the challenges we face.
Yes it’s possible.
No it’s not easy.
It’s a bumpy ride. This is life and family. Not the Instagram version. I’m talking about the dark side. Unspoken hopes. Old hurts resurfacing. Bad habits driving everyone bonkers. Tears, arguments, curse words. All of it.
Maybe you’re like us. Kids and parents are knocking on your door and you’re watching your freedom and empty-nest expectations evaporate right before your eyes and you’re wondering if you’ll ever have quiet again. Or maybe you’re the ones forced to go back home and it feels like failure.
Pray. In every conversation. In every moment, seek His wisdom and then do what He asks you to do. Sometimes He’ll take you out of your comfort zone to engage in challenging conversations. Sometimes the Lord may ask you to step out and pray openly for your family at the evening meal which may start a firestorm.
Just remember, God created families. He loves your family and wants your home to be filled with love, grace, joy and peace so that you may be the example of all the goodness of God to a waiting world that destroys and tears apart families.
I hope this encourages you today to remember God’s goodness in every part of your life, whether it is empty-nesting, feeling the squeeze of family members moving in or if you’re the one moving home.
May you take time to honor the Lord and thank Him for it all.
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow His precepts have good understanding. To Him belongs eternal praise!” ~ Psalm 111:10
Yesterday I was listening to Margaret Feinberg’s podcast, The Joycast session called “Get Out of Your Head” with Jennie Allen.
During the podcast Jennie Allen shares that she believes there are 3 core lies that we as humans tend to believe about ourselves at any given time:
I am unlovable
I am worthless
I am helpless
This really got me to thinking about my own life as a child and now as an adult and how those 3 little lies which carry so much weight and direct so many actions and have the ability to shape everyday decisions.
I mulled over what I heard in the podcast and really started asking myself, is this true? Do I navigate life from a place of a lie? My brain argued with my heart…yes…no…yes…maybe. Ultimately, the truth hit me hard.
Being human is hard. Let’s face it. Years of old tapes, bad relationships and decisions compound our daily walk. And as always, satan is always whispering garbage in our ears.
It’s exhausting and downright defeating.
But I reasoned that since there’s at least a chance that I live my life from one of those 3 lies at any given time, and God warns us that satan does nothing but seek to kill and destroy our lives, then the best way to combat a lie is with God’s truth.
I needed to get to the bottom of the matter, if the world and satan constantly try to get me to believe that I am unlovable, unworthy or helpless, I had to ask “Lord, what is my truth?”
“For God so loved the world, He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him, shall not perish but have everlasting life.” ~John 3:16
Seriously? I am loved that much? To have the Almighty Father, Maker of heaven and earth, sacrifice His Son, so that I might live?
Now that’s some serious love. And I must be worthy of that love.
Not because of what I’ve done, but because of who God is.
Mind-blowing! Unfathomably believable. I can scarcely wrap my brain around the truth of it all. God. In His infinite love for you and I gave us His Son’s life for ours so that we are able to commune with Him, fulfill our purpose with Him and sing His praises.
Oh the love of it all!
To think that I am loved that much, breaks me and absolutely crushes every. single. lie.
We are loved by the Father.
We are so precious and valuable to Him that no one and no thing can take us from Him.
And finally, ALL things are possible through Christ who strengthens us.
So take that, lies!
God has the first, last and every single word about our lives and nothing is farther from the lies than God’s truth!
Let that sink deep into your soul. Let the truth of God’s word cleanse every single lie from your life so you may begin again under the truth of God’s love for you. Then take the next step and walk in His purpose and truth for your life.
I’d like to tell you about the goodness of God through the eyes of a newbie gardener.
Like many of you, because of the world we currently live in, I am planting a vegetable garden.
However, with thousands of folks trying to better prepare their pantries in case of a future rebound, plant starts are a bit scarce in these parts, even seeds are flying off the shelves.
But here’s the truth about God. He knows it all before anything ever happens in this world.
I’m sure we all the felt a bit of anxiety with the news pounding out minute by minute fear. Stores shelves bare while there were mouths to feed.
As if COVID 19 wasn’t enough of a stressor in our lives, our adult sons trickled back home, bringing with them their own set of disappointments, fears and hungry bellies.
But by God’s grace our family saw the Lord’s incredible provision over and over.
Our family is in constant need of grace. We stumble in our walk with the Lord, sometimes falling completely flat on our face.
I say this to preface the story I’m about to share because I want to give God the glory for the blessings He chose to bestow on our little family. We didn’t deserve them. We didn’t earn them and we certainly needed His grace. For His love and provisions, we are changed and are forever grateful for these answered prayers that came in the shape of tomato plants.
Our small apartment did not lend itself to a garden plot so I turned to our neighborhood P-patch for gardening options. Honestly I didn’t hold out much hope of getting a garden plot because the growing season had already started and everything, I mean every plant start, seed packet was gone! Not a single green stem was to be found!
But… I prayed anyway, asking God to open up just 1 little garden spot.
How did He answer? The good Lord blessed us with 2!
Great! But what was I going to plant? Shelves were bare.
Seriously?! All I wanted were the staples: potatoes, tomatoes, green beans and maybe a zucchini plant.
I looked for weeks online and in every store, garden center and wholesaler in the area and couldn’t find anything, anywhere! I was about to give up when on a fluke, I walked into our local Co-Op and there, right by the front door were bushels of potato slips on sale! Amazing!
Trust me when I say, those little slips were in the ground immediately! But what about the other veggies I had hoped to plant; green beans, onions and tomatoes?
I prayed again. I figured “why not?” God heard my prayer about the potato slips, certainly He could hear my prayers for those too, right?
“Lord, can you please help? I’m guessing, 10 Roma plants will hopefully give us enough to can and get on our pantry shelves. Can you help Lord, there’s nothing anywhere.”
Two weeks later, one of my residents family members ( I work in senior health care) stopped by the building to ask if anyone wanted tomato starts.
I jumped with glee!
“Absolutely I do!” I told her. A few days later, she stopped by with 2 huge crates full of tomato starts for our residents to plant in the community garden and for anyone else who wanted them.
Want to guess how many I was gifted?
Wanna take a guess as to which type?
I tell y’all, God is so good and God does good.
Even when we are freaking out because an invisible giant hits our lives and threatens our very health and well-being. God is still good. Even down to tomatoes.
There isn’t anything God doesn’t already know about us and our hearts. He’s just waiting to hear from us.
What have I learned?
I needed to be more like the ants. Proverbs 6:6-11 tells us this, ” 6 Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! 7 It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, 8 yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest. 9 How long will you lie there, you sluggard? When will you get up from your sleep? 10 A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest— 11 and poverty will come on you like a thief and scarcity like an armed man. “
I’ll be the first to admit I don’t like being called a sluggard. But I was. I am.
I had taken for granted all of the conveniences around me, grocery stores open 24/7, restaurants at my disposal, every amenity I needed was close at hand.and I had gotten lazy because of the misnomer that I had a safety net for those “just in case” moments.
But thanks to COVID I realized just how much of a sluggard I really was!
I’ll admit, our family wasn’t prepared for the long-term emergency that caused world wide panic and depletion of everyday living supplies.
Through it all, God is teaching me that He provides. He provides the security, provisions, health, joy, peace and even tomatoes if only we would take the time to seek Him. Maybe you were like me, scared that the reality of being unprepared would directly impact the well-being of your family. It did impact us on a very real level which has caused The Hubs and I to make changes in our lives on many levels. First of which is our walk with the Lord.
Ya know, I’ve been a Christian my entire life. I’ve loved God from the beginning, even before I started going to church. But what this pandemic has shown me, is that maybe it wasn’t only our cupboards that were bare.
My heart and walk with Christ were also lacking. Sure I read my bible and went to church regularly, but did I actually put what I was being taught into action on a daily basis and not just during emergencies?
I’m ashamed to admit that the answer was a no, I was a spiritual sluggard. Those tough questions helped me to see my walk with Christ differently. I needed to be like the ants not only in my physical life but more importantly in my walk with God. I needed to ask myself and lay my heart open for Christ to bring to light where there was an opportunity for growth.
How about you? What is it that you need to share with the Lord? What is it that wells up fear and discord in your heart? Is it a feeling of anxiety, worry, lacking?
Friend, whatever it is, let me encourage you to God and He will provide. Maybe it’ll be in the form of the next meal, the next bill paid or maybe the next step in your walk. Whatever it is that is weighing on you I want to encourage you to take some time alone with the Lord. He is faithful to hear us in small ways and in large, physical and spiritual.
May you find God to be an abundant provider and your life filled to overflowing with His blessings and love.
We lived in Oklahoma for a dozen years. I absolutely loved that state!
The people were welcoming. The down home food made me feel like my grandma made it and the landscape was beautiful in its own right. Gentle rolling hills. Rocky crags to hike and climb and let’s not forget the weather.
For a mid-western born and raised gal, I loved the 4 seasons Oklahoma’s weather blasted at us. Yes, blasted. Nothing came at you sweet and easy. In Oklahoma, we’d tease, “You better hold on, it’s gonna be a bumpy ride!” When storm fronts would roll in.
The rain came down in sheets and pelt your windshield so hard, you’d have to pull over otherwise you’d risk hitting something, a car, a cement barrier, telephone pole, cattle. Yes, cattle. Trust me on this one.
And oh! The hail. Ugh! Don’t ever ask my husband about the damage done to his car one night when tornado warnings flashed in the area and he drove across town to pick up our youngest who was finishing a hockey practice. Let’s just say, after the golf ball sized hail pummeled his car for the 6 mile round trip to and from the hockey rink, his car looked like we’d drug it out of a junk yard! I think that was the first time I’ve seen a grown man cry!
Let’s not forget the winds. Oh mercy me! When the winds would whip across the plains my mom would joke that “they’d take your head off if you didn’t hold tight.” Seriously, 60-70mph winds would tear through the area causing flag poles to become spikes crashing through trees.
All this to say, that Oklahoma weather isn’t for the weak. We had crazy hot melt-your-brains summer temps. In the 100’s y’all! 100+’s!! One summer I thought we were all gonna start growing scales and turn into lizards, it got so hot! No kidding!
Needless to say, you’ve got to be prepared for whatever comes your way. Lots of protection, forethought, undercover parking is a must and plenty of air conditioning and heated seating, because yes, we had ice storms too!
I bring all of this up because this morning as I was reading Proverbs 7:2 ” Keep my commands and live, and guard my instructions as you would the pupil of your eye.”
I thought about living in Oklahoma’s harsh weather. We all know what it feels like to get an eyelash, or a piece of dust in our eye. But what if a sharp object comes flying at your eye during a stormy season, then what? What do we do to protect our sight?
See the analogy I thought of is that there are stormy seasons in our lives. Times when chaos is whipping through our lives. What then? How do we guard our thoughts, minds and hearts when life is unexpectedly painful?
I think this small verse reminds me to always be on guard.
I use to joke that the weather channel was a big deal in Oklahoma. Well it is! And so is the channel of our hearts. We need to always stay tuned to God’s word in preparation for whatever comes our way. Just like we keep a pair of sunglasses or a rain jacket or a snow shovel handy “just in case” its needed.
Preparation is key. We never know when life will take a turn for the worse. When a storm will show up, with winds of heartache shooting their painful debris into our lives.
God call us to…“keep His commands, live and guard His instructions.”
How do we make that happen in our lives? Oh that’s easy sisters. Spend time with God. In His Word. Daily. Hourly. Moment-by-moment. Make Christ your priority over everything else in your life.
Yeah, yeah, yeah I know. That’s opposite of what we’re told. Society tells us that we’re to be #1. Do our own thing. Make our own decisions. But how many times can you admit that a storm has whipped through your life and caught you completely unprepared and you crumbled? It’s happened to me more times than I care to admit.
But you see, God says just the opposite of society. God calls us to Himself. He invites us to spend time with Him, to know Him and to love Him with our hearts, souls and minds.
In doing so, it is God’s guarantee that when the storms of life hit our lives, and they will…we will be fully prepared. We won’t be left out in the cold, the hail, the pelting rain, the heat of our lives, alone. God is with us.
So dress accordingly ladies, there are bound to be stormy days ahead. Grab your bible, talk to God, share your heart and know the good Lord will see you through every single storm.
Last week during worship we sang Hillsong’s “Who You Say I Am”.
As my heart settled into worship the words washed over me until the following verse caught my attention, “In my Father’s house there’s a place for me. I’m a child of God, yes I am.”
For most of my life I’ve lived under the cloud of not being enough, never fitting in and always living life on the outside. I’ve lived under the shroud of lies that has permeated my life like a slow release poison, tainting every area of my life.
The proverbial black sheep.
But the more I dig into my relationship with God, I can call a lie a lie.
God has a place for me. I have and always will have a place in His home.
How often does that happen in our lives?
I know my husband and kids love me. But I also I know that as much as I feel the same way about my family, I know despite my best intentions I hurt and disappoint them. Not so with God.
I don’t have to live up to anyone’s expectations or demands.
With God, I can simply be me.
There’s no striving, working hard for approval or tip-toeing around Him because I’ve made a mistake.
I am enough, just as I am. The Lord made me, knew me before I was ever born and His Son Jesus died for the love of me.
There’s a place for me, in my Father’s house.
I love those words of promise. They help to heal the brokenness left behind by my own earthly father.
Yes, I loved my earthly father, I’ve shared in earlier stories that I was a daddy’s girl. But for as much as I loved him, too often I was met with words of criticism. Words that left no doubt that I’d disappointed him in some way.
For instance, I remember on my high school graduation night, I was so excited. I had worked hard, won many achievements and was thrilled to be walking across the stage to grab my diploma and embrace the next step in my future. I was so proud.
I turned to my dad in my excitement and said, “I can’t wait to walk across that stage!”
My dad’s response, with a stoic look on his face was, “Ya know, if you’d only worked harder you could’ve been valedictorian.”
I was devastated.
I had studied so hard in my pre-med classes, struggled just to get a passing grade in math class and worked tirelessly to earn seating in the top 3% of my class.
For nothing. My dad was ashamed of me.
Now maybe in his own way, he was trying to say that he thought I was capable of more. And maybe he wanted more for me. I don’t know.
What I do know is that in those brief moments I went from feeling proud, excited and happy to worthless.
For years, I tried so hard to win his approval, garner his blessing with the choices, directions and steps I was taking in my life, only to hear over and over the same sentiment, “Amy, you’re not good enough.”
Breaking free from those lies has taken a lot of effort. You see, folks can tell you that you’re wonderful, but deep down, there’s little voice that condemns, ridicules and laughs at you each time you try to believe otherwise.
Until God steps in and changes things.
I’ve been walking with God my entire life. So you’d think that His promises would’ve broken the chains of lies years ago. Maybe they should have. I don’t think I was willing to accept His truth, out of fear and doubt that they were for me.
It wasn’t until I lost my dad last year, was I able to really hear God’s truth about my life.
Sometimes those we love the most are the ones who either intentionally or unintentionally hurt us the worst. Their words, innuendos, sarcasm can leave lasting scars that I believe only God can truly heal.
We don’t have to stay in the past, repeating the lies in our minds and hearts, making it a mantra that should never be placed on us.
Instead we can choose to listen, embrace and accept God’s truth.
We are loved by our Holy precious Father. We have a place in His house, with Him. Forever. In His eyes, we are His beloved children, washed clean from sin because of His son Jesus.
I want to encourage you to really listen to the words of this song, let them sink deep into your soul, healing it from any lies you were told and making room for the truth that there is a place for you in your Father’s house.
This afternoon I rushed home, eager to change into comfy
athletic gear and take our dogs out for a walk. The past few weeks with its
endless dreary rainy overcast days and a flu virus quarantine at the assisted living
community where I work, left me feeling worn down and in much need of a serious
dose of Vitamin D and fresh air.
Lickety-split I was in my favorite Nike’s, headphones on and
the pups were on their leashes and we were basking in the warmth of the
sun. As the dogs and I tooled around the
neighborhood I pulled up my latest selection on Audible and hit play.
Christian author, Elizabeth George is one of my all-time favorites. Not having grown up with many godly influences in my life, I always listen intently to Mrs. George share her godly wisdom through her book, “A Woman After God’s Own Heart.”
As I listened while the dogs played, something Elizabeth
said caught my ear, “Dream of being a
woman’s after God’s own heart.”
Something about that word really piqued my curiosity and the
little kid in me, rose to the surface as I tried to think of the last time I
actually dreamed of anything. It had been way too long and just like my need
for a little sunshine, dreaming, it would seem was something else I needed in
In fact, the more I toyed with the idea of dreaming about
being a woman after God’s heart felt like someone was asking me, “If you won
the Mega-Bucks lotto what would you do?”
Well dear friends, that’s what so exciting about Elizabeth’s
words of encouragement, we don’t have to wait until we hit the lotto or
relocate or start a new job in order for things to change in our lives. We can
be proactive, take stock of where we truly are in our walk with the Lord, in
our marriage, our relationships with our children, friends and family and
honestly ask ourselves, “where are we and
what would we like to change.”
I think part of the reason I was am so excited these days is
because I realized while walking that I was living on autopilot. I was so
caught up in making a living, getting through the day, and just getting by,
that I’d somehow stopped enjoying living. Life was mundane.
Now that’s not to say I wasn’t grateful. A quick look over
my life and I will be the first person to tell you that the good Lord has
sought fit to bless this sinner with more forgiveness and grace than I’ll ever
But somewhere along the way I had forgotten how to live.
Here’s the deal, that list of to-do’s sucked the life out of
me even affected my time with the Lord. It was stale. Boring. Blah.
Jesus warns us, saying, “I
know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one
or the other! So, because you are lukewarm – neither hot nor cold- I am about
to spit you out of my mouth.” Revelation3:15-16 (NIV)
There’s danger in becoming apathetic, in simply giving up
and accepting a pasty relationship with God.
Now is the time for a little daydreaming.
Life could look different.
Once home from my walk and energized by Elizabeth’s words, I began asking myself how was I going to break this cycle of repetition and low-level boredom in my daily life and spiritual walk? What needed to change in my walk with Jesus? Which areas needed a good cobweb cleaning and which habits need to go into the emotional trashcan?
Almost immediately thoughts began to permeate my time with God.
I missed women’s bible studies. I missed the comradery and accountability
that comes from spending time with other God-centered women and ultimately the
growth that comes from being in God’s word.
The church we attend is small and we don’t actually have a
women’s ministry per se. But why should that stop me or any other woman who
wants to draw closer to God? It shouldn’t.
Which then led my pen to paper to scratch out ideas on how I
could start a group, invite others to participate and frankly get me out of my
comfort zone and cause me to stretch and grow my faith with God.
Boo-ya! Within minutes ideas were flowing onto the pages of
my journal and for once, in a very long time, I was excited about the
Now the tough part…
In order to not fall prey to my old habits I needed to take
action. Which led to more brainstorming, more journaling and a list of ways to
help get this group off the ground, including researching a good bible study to
offer, connecting with our Pastor to garner his support and of course, first
and foremost, talking to God about this idea. I can’t wait to see where He
takes these ideas!
How about you? Are there areas that have grown stale?
If so, I encourage you to grab a journal, find a quiet spot,
pull out your bible and spend some time with God asking the tough questions of
yourself and of Him. Share your heart and your daydreams.
Who knows us better than the good Lord above? Who wondrously
made us and knows every hair on our head? He loves you and I and He waits to
spend time with us.
May your time with the Lord bubble up new dreams for your
life. Don’t settle for apathy. Don’t settle for being lukewarm. Get out there,
talk to God and give those dreams a chance to take flight.