Tornado

Featured

You think, surely that’ll never happen. I mean, how many times do we get in our safe spot for a little while then pop back out and all is fine? The kids play and think it’s fun and exciting. We send pics to family saying “we’re in our safe spot 🎉” almost making jokes about it. You see it happening to other places and hate it for them and pray for them but maybe don’t ever think it would ever really happen to you.

But no one is immune to tragedy.

And never again will I go in that safe room again without thinking of last night.

Our community was hit by an F3 (I think?) tornado that ripped through the heart of it.

I sat in our safe spot with the kids and did NOT remain calm. We watched live coverage from our news team (shout out to them for being awesome and remaining calm) on Facebook (Thank You, Lord for Facebook)

I couldn’t belive my eyes when I saw the tornado forming and quickly touching down. Coming out of nowhere. But when I started seeing debris flying up in the air circulating with the clouds, pieces of our town blown up and scattered around I could not keep it together. I screamed and yelled at God to make it stop and to forgive us of our sins and briefly I thought it might quit but it didn’t. For miles it kept going and for what felt like minutes I kept begging God to make it stop. I really don’t know what all I was praying. I reminded myself at one point I’m the mom keep it together! But I was far too gone for that. Watching in disbelief, our town demolished; So much destruction so fast.

Wondering if my husband was ok. The kids asking if he was ok. “Of course he is yes daddy’s fine.” He better be fine, God! (He was although we didn’t find out til later; and the tornado initially touched down right by his office where he was hiding under the stairs).

My 8 year old was the adult and suggested we should maybe all calm down. Great idea, son but my body won’t let me. Shaking so badly.

Soon it was over but we were a mess and so was our town.

Seeing the videos, pictures and news coverage we are still in disbelief but amazed that NO ONE was killed. They are reporting only 6 minor injuries.

Amazing. One huge praise.

Another praise is that had we not all been quarantined to our homes because of COVID-19, sooooo many people would’ve lost their lives. So many. It hit a ton of restaurants and shopping areas that would’ve been so busy on a normal Saturday night. So thank You, Lord, for your provision in that. THANK YOU.

When I saw the debris flying I think I thought it was probably taking people up with it and my mind couldn’t make sense of it. Obviously, this tornado only scattered debris. Thank You, Lord. Buildings can be replaced. A life can’t. So grateful.

Another praise— the people have come together! It’s beautiful, humbling and as if socially distancing hasn’t already (oddly enough) made us all grow closer, THIS is showing what our community is all about and it’s each other.

Gods Word says to love Him and love others. I see this happening more and more lately, don’t you??? God’s people are rising, people are seeking, praying and drawing near to firm foundation; because all else, as we are seeing, is sinking sand.

We can praise Him in this storm. We can praise Him in any storm.

He is still good He is still faithful and surely He is coming back soon. People get ready.

Please pray for our community and those that lost homes and businesses. Please pray for revival and for all to come to know Him during this time.

And this was the calm after the storm.

Back and Forth Between Fun and Fear

Featured

I keep going back and forth between two mindsets.

One being happy, grateful and excited to be home bound with my family, to be slowed down and paused from the business of life. The other, looking out and around, and being so fearful of COVID-19, what’s coming for my community, what if we get it and what if we die?

Am I alone in these two paradoxes??

I know I can’t ignore what’s going on but I cannot live in fear either. So with each fear, I must turn to God.

I listed 4 fears above and will list them again below with what God’s Word says and what I can replace my fears with. We fight fears with faith and faith comes from God’s Word.

1. Fear of COVID-19 ~

  • The Lord has not given us a spirit of fear, but one of power, love and a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7

 

2. Fear of the future ~

  • It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; He will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” Deuteronomy 31:8

 

3. Fear of contracting the virus ~

  • Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”  Isaiah 41:10
  • Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. HE will not leave you or forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6

4. Fear of dying from COVID-19 ~

  • “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff they comfort me.” Psalms 23:4
  • For me to live is Christ, to die is gain.” Philippians 1:21
  • You saw me before I was born. Everyday of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.” Psalms 139:16

So today when I find myself afraid, I am going to acknowledge the fear and knock it down with the Truth of God’s Word. If you want to join me, I’ve designed a print off for you to put where you can see it so His Words are ever before you.  Just right click to save it and print it off if you would like. Remember, too, His word never returns void! We need His words going on in our heads and being present before our eyes, not the many fears we can find ourselves battling with the current situation.

A prayer for today~

Heavenly Father, I praise you in all things. I lift my hands to you in prayer and beg you to stop the spread of this virus but, God, mostly may we just know you and be filled with your Spirit so we can walk in faith and not fear. Steady our hearts, today, Oh God. You are the only one who can give us peace. Help us to trust in You no matter what. You are good, we praise Your Holy Name. Thank You for Your Son. It’s in His name I pray, AMEN.

I prayed to the Lord and He answered me, he freed me from all my fears. Psalm 34:4

 

Dress Up, Tea Parties and Colossians 3:12

Featured

We had a tea party yesterday and all dressed up. The boys were super hero’s and my daughter and I put on old bridesmaids and pageant dresses. I couldn’t breathe and they wouldn’t zip on me. Ha!

I didn’t intend for it to be a Bible lesson but it was— we talked about Colossians 3:12 and what is most important to clothe ourselves with. Greater than any costume or dress, it’s most important to put on compassion for others, kindness for one another, humility in our hearts, gentleness in our words and actions, and patience in all we do.

I needed this as much as they did. Hope everyone is doing well ♥️

Christians- Remember These Three Things During This Time

Featured

Happy Sunday, friends! Happy National Day of Prayer for our country in this state of emergency. I hope we will all spend more time talking to God today than we talk about this virus. I hope we look at His Word and seek His face above the latest news and information being tossed our ways. I pray we would humble ourselves, surrender our fears and lack of control and let God be God.

Three things to remember as believers in Jesus:

  • We are the Light of the World
    • Isaiah 60:1 says, “Arise, shine, for your light has come and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.”
    • Matthew 5:16, “let your light shine before man.”
    • This light the Lord gives is full of grace, truth, hope and peace. This light is inside of us believers and followers of Christ!
  • We are a City on a Hill
    • Matthew 5:14, “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden.”
    • When we walk in this light, we will stand firm in uncertain times. We will have peace in the chaos and others can be drawn to the Lord by our faithfulness.
  • We are Set Apart to Pray
    • 2 Chronicles 7:14, “If my people who are called by My Name would humble themselves, pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and forgive their sin and heal their land.”
    • We are set apart for such a time as this to PRAY for our nation, our world. For hope to spread, for healing to be present in hearts and of course in health. But even if the healing just comes in our hearts and not in eradicating the coronavirus, He is still good, still working and always worthy of our faith, hope, love and adoration.
    • Christians, it’s on us to pray. Let’s get on our knees today and show our children where our trust is.

In Jesus name, AMEN.

Love you all.

Praying.

Corona-FEAR

Featured

I just watched the 20/20 special on this deadly virus and got an alert from the Weather Channel that there have been more confirmed US deaths… panic and fear began to rise but I want to take the path of freedom from fear that God offers us with His spirit and His Word. Watch video for the verses that I am clinging to during this time! (Also- it’s 2 Timothy 1:7, “the Lord has not given us a spirit of fear but one of love, power and a sound mind.” I butchered that reference in the video!).

A prayer:

Heavenly Father, You are good. May we never forget that. May we believe it to the depths of our beings and walk in it. Help us to not fear or panic but to trust in You. The only One who can offer true peace and freedom from our fears and circumstances. I pray in your Mighty Name for this virus to be contained and stopped dead in its tracks! May we spend more time praying than worrying. May we show a lost and broken world who You are as we rise up with love and faith. I pray for mighty miracles, healing and health but if not, you are still good, faithful and worthy of our everything. Help us to focus on Your Word and nothing else, to replace the fears and lies with the love and truth from Your Holy Word. Spirit help us. In your name I pray, amen!

Lent

Featured

With Lent right around the corner, I though I’d re-post this from a few years ago.

I had a sweet friend text me about adding something to her day during Lent, something she can read to learn more about Jesus and the Bible. I loved her desire to not just give up something to enrich these 40 days, but to add something to grow in her faith.

Here were some of my suggestions:

~You Version Bible App has a great 40-day Lent reading plan that takes you through the gospels.  I have not done this reading plan, but one can never go wrong adding time to read the Bible as one practices Lent; after all, isn’t the purpose of fasting to turn our hearts towards Him?  And isn’t that what He is truly after, our hearts?  What better way than to get into His Mighty Word!

The book of John is another great place to start!  It has 21 chapters so you could read one chapter a day then pick another book to read.  Romans and then 1 John would be good follow ups and there are others too!  Let the Lord guide you on this and He will!

photo 1~On Calvary’s Hill, 40 readings for the Easter season, is a book by Max Lucado and is full of Scripture and is an in depth look at the final days in the life of our Savior.  It is beautiful; I absolutely love the way Mr. Lucado writes.

~Rick Warren’s the Purpose Driven Life is another 40-day devotional book that can change your life.  It answers the many questions of our true purpose on Earth and living out the Greatest Commandment and Great Commission.

~Prayer.  Prayer is a huge part of fasting, taking our eyes off ourselves and the things of this world and focusing on God.  Fasting isn’t always easy, but if we praise the Lord and pray Scriptures when we desire what we are fasting from, it will help us avoid what we are giving up but most importantly take our focus off of ourselves and onto Him and His amazing sacrifice for our souls.  Again, isn’t this the purpose of Lent?  Let Him hear from you, He loves it!

~Memorizing Scripture.  Focus on one a week or maybe just pick one to meditate on during the 40 days of Lent.  There are so many to choose from but one of my favorites is Zechariah 4:6, “‘Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the Lord.”  Especially in the realm of fasting (and raising kids ha), this verse can help get our focus off of what we want with His help.  His Spirit is unending and overwhelming inside of believers!  Let’s put it to good use!

I have to admit, I have never officially practiced the 40 days of Lent, but I enjoyed reading and researching more about it from various denominations viewpoints.

For more information on Lent, click here.

I have no doubt that God can work in amazing ways anytime we turn our hearts toward Him, get in His Word and pray.  What an exciting time Lent can be and it doesn’t have to stop there!  May we continually seek the Lord every day of the year. 🙂

 

img_8918img_8919

 

 

 

Family Dinner Fun

Featured

Mealtimes are CRAY in our home. I should record one sometime and post it for all to see. HA. It’s hard to keep kids in their seats and often there is a lull in the conversation. I desire mealtime to be more civilized first and foremost, but also as a time to hear about the day and visit with one another; to get the children to open up but also learn to listen to others.

img_8017When we vacationed last summer to Vail, CO (I highly recommend it!) with our oldest two children, we had dinners scheduled each night and I wanted us to really visit and not succumb to electronics (or craziness), so I found the hotel stationary and wrote out some questions. I was super excited to surprise my family with this dinner fun. We each took turns picking and answering the questions. It was a really special night. My heart felt so full and I think everyone else liked it as well.

Here are some of the questions we used:

  • Where in the world would you most want to live?
  • What are you most proud of?
  • Describe yourself in 5 words.
  • Describe the person next to you in 5 words.
  • If you could invite anyone to dinner who would you invite?
  • If you were a superhero what would your power be and what would you be called?
  • If we all loved in a zoo, what animal would each of us be?
  • What scares you and why?

This is also fun with couples! We have some friends we go to dinner with from time to time and we all enjoy this mealtime activity as well. We usually laugh so hard and aren’t ready for the questions to end.

On Thanksgiving, we had my parents and my husband’s parents join us for the big meal. We used Ever Thine Home’s “Untie Your Story” ribbon. So beautiful, festive and I love the questions. Several of us had tears in our eyes as we answered in gratefulness. Again, a special meal!

img_8131

For my women’s ministry team Christmas Party, I came up with some questions and placed a one at each seat with no assigned seating. How the Lord ordained the questions was so endearing and amazing! It was a night I’ll never forget!

I googled some of the questions and came up with some on my own but Table Topics has several boxes of questions geared to different ages/scenarios. We also just bought this set that has been fun to do at home mealtimes. img_8132Just anyway to get the conversation going, kids opening up, laughing and having fun. Try it at your next dinner with friends or family vacation and let me know how it goes!!

Lots of love, laughter and table talk ~ Sarah 🙂

Click here to look at Table Topics on amazon.

Click here to buy Table Talk by Manners Co

Click here to buy Untie Your Story ribbons.

 

My Thoughts ~ a Poem and Prayer

Featured

Does anyone else ever struggle with thoughts that carry you away from reality? I went through a terrible season of that a few years ago. While these words are from that time, and the Lord has done a work on my thoughts and mind, I am still in continual need of mind-renewing. Grateful He is our help for just that! For more on this click here. 

When my mind is a mess, what can I do?                                                                                 My thoughts, oh Lord, you must renew!

My heart and soul love You but my mind seems so stuck.                                                    Please, dear Father, lift me out of this muck.

Teach me your ways, help me know You are near.                                                               Teach me to live my life without any fear.

Keep the distracting thoughts at bay;                                                                                        for only You can make a way.

Reign in my heart, reign in my head.                                                                                         Only by You may my spirit be led.

May I think on things pleasing to You.                                                                                       My thoughts, oh Lord, continually make new!

In Your son Jesus’ name I pray.                                                                                                   The name above all and only way.

 

Cell Phones and Kids, Oh My! ~ 5 ways to guide and protect plus the contract we used for our 11 year old

Featured

img_7913Although I dragged my feet for quite a while, our daughter officially has a cell phone. She’s 11 and was one of the last of her friends to get one. I know it can be a good thing, but as her mom, I want to educate her on the dangers and set it up safely.

I recorded this video before she got her phone and forgive me for saying “you” so many times– I am ALWAYS preaching to my own heart and self before preaching to anyone else! Watch the video, and then read below…

5 ways to guide and protect:

  • Set up filters and restrictions
    • Disney Circle:  Love this! You can set time limits, downtime, see search history and much more. I highly recommend this to protect your home WIFI and devices. CLick here for more info.
    • Life 360:  a good way to see locations of family members and driving speeds, etc… Click here for more info
    • Apple restrictions in phone:  When a child is added to family sharing, there are many restrictions/filters that can be put into place. From allowed websites, content restrictions, time limits, installing/deleting apps, etc… I had someone at the AT&T store guide me on this.
    • There are many others- Our Pact, BARK, Pumpic ….
    • Remove Gifs– I just realized you can do this! (go to the “…” in the bar below a message, you can remove or add certain apps (like photos, app store, animojis etc..) -I love this feature!)
  • Contracts
    • When Joe White with Kanakuk Kamps spoke at our church years ago, he talked of drawing up contracts with children. I felt a cell phone was certainly a place that needed clear boundaries in a contract. Here is the contract we drew up with our daughter. You are welcome to take and use whatever you like for your children as well and feel free to let me know of anything I might have left off!
  • Take phones up at bedtime
    • If left to their own devices, I know my children would have a hard time putting the phone down to go to sleep. We have set downtime which turns almost all apps down but I still want the phone with me during the night. Kids need sleep so badly. You can read in the contract the downtime hours for us.
    • If having a sleepover, communicate with the other children the rules of the house–no cell phones past a certain time. Take them up (depending on kids ages) or have them put them away.
  • Teach Phone Etiquette (more of this in the contract above)
    • Be mindful of what pictures are taken/sent…once it’s out there, it’s out there
    • THINK: Is it true? Helpful? Inspiring? Necessary? Kind? Think before sending/taking/texting
    • Be kind. Don’t gossip on group texts. (group texting is a feature that can be removed if needed!)
    • Answer the phone when parents text or call
    • Always wrap up a call with “BYE”
  • Say NO to social media (Snapchat, TikTok, Instagram, etc…)

Some things to remember:

  • To whom much is given, much is required. My mom reminds me of this often, and I’m grateful! A phone is much, therefore will require much from us and our children
  • Each child is different- don’t just get a child a phone (or social media) because all of their friends have one
  • It’s ultimately our phone and we are lending it to them
  • We are not powerless when it comes to our children and electronics. As parents, we are in charge of their cell phones
  • Use the phone as currency. Chores must be done, grades made,  good behavior at home and school, etc… or phone is taken away
  • Have a “grounded” phone to be used if main phone is taken away. A flip phone or a GABB phone would be great. (we actually looked into the GABB phone and may consider it for our “grounded” phone or other children if we need to strictly get a hold of them It seems like a great device!)

I am not an expert, I’m learning as we go. I want to share this information to help others navigate electronics in this day and age. I know they are kids and may be able to find loopholes or ways around things, but a constant prayer on my lips and in my heart is that anything hidden in the dark would be brought to light. I can trust the Lord to do this, so grateful!

Heavenly Father, because of your love, presence and Word, we are not alone in our parenting- I praise you! You have blessed us with our children for just a short time, may we be great stewards of them always. May we diligently pray for them and their friends as they grow up in a place where too much can be accessed and known too soon. May we grant freedoms according to each child, letting You help us discern that which is pleasing to You and good. Father, I pray You would continually shine light on any darkness in my life and my children’s’ lives. Keep them safe and smart. May they long to do Your will. May the phones we use be used for Your glory. In Jesus name I pray, AMEN.

 

What a Relief

Featured

Relief: a feeling of reassurance and relaxation following release from anxiety or distress.

Everyday I mess up as a mom. And everyday I am given grace.

What a relief.

Everyday I need something other than myself to help me. Everyday I ask, seek and surrender I am given the Holy Spirit’s help.

What a relief.

Everyday I get it wrong, say the wrong things or think unpleasant thoughts. Everyday I confess I am forgiven.

What a relief.

His death on the cross and resurrection sealed our fate as believers. Eternity with Him.

What a relief.

The words he left behind and how to live this life.

What a relief.

Yes, what a relief it is to have such a God! To send His one and only Son to die for us, to raise Him for us, to send His Spirit to help us, to give us the Bible to guide us. To give us access to Our Great Creator through prayer.

What a great relief it is.

Are we living in this relief today or merely going our own way?

Lord, help us to know these truths and live them out everyday. Thank You for paying the price for our sins and for granting us eternal life, your Spirit and your Word. You have truly given us everything we need to pursue life and godliness this side of our eternal home. What a relief. I love you. In your Son’s saving name, amen.

Rising Like Bread? Or Shrinking Like Bacon? Words for adults plus and activity for children

Featured

I sat in church looking at the exits, imagining a shooter busting through. I wondered if I was sitting in the safest spot possible. I quickly realized I wasn’t; any seat could be a target, anyone a victim of such evil. And I remembered the verse my discipleship group and I recently memorized…

The angel of the lord is a guard he surrounds and protects all who fear him. (Psalm 34:7)

So one would think maybe this angel of the Lord wasn’t with all the churches that have witnessed such monstrosity. One may think God was asleep when those tragedies happened. One might think maybe they didn’t properly fear the Lord and so death came. I believe all these things are lies. Lies easy to believe in our feeble human minds but lies. The truth is the Lord never sleeps or slumbers. The truth is sometimes the Lord allows tragedy to bring about his glory and so others will know who He is (think about the cross…always go back to the cross).  The truth is there is protection in death for Christians.

We are protected by God. Even when the worst happens there is some level of protection we cannot even see.

So we do not fear death, although I often do because this world is all I know and all I seem to be able to wrap my head around sometimes. We can have hope in death because death of a Christian means JESUS. It means perfection. It means heaven.

The events taking place and the overwhelming excess of this place we live in can make one shrink like bacon. To shrivel up and hold in our faith. To stay home from church on Sundays because of fear.

OR….

We can do as we’ve been equipped and rise like bread when the heat is turned up. We can rise up and proclaim the name of Jesus that has saved us. We can share this hope we have. We can trust and believe that God is surrounding us and protecting us daily from things we can’t see. We can trust that death isn’t the end for a Christian.

Believers…Christians…church. It’s time we rise up. It’s time to rise like bread.

There is no hope in our circumstances. There is no hope in ourselves, others, food, drink, drugs, busyness, shopping, tv, etc…our only hope is Jesus.

As we continued to worship in church that morning, we sang these words from “Grace to Grace”: 

How wonderful, how glorious
My Savior’s scars victorious
My chains are gone, my debt is paid
From death to life and grace to grace
When I see that cross, I see freedom
When I see that grave, I’ll see Jesus
And from death to life, I will sing Your praise
In the wonder of Your grace

I was truly free. Surrendered. Rising like the bread because I was worshiping my God. I trusted him that if my death came in that place, in that moment, what mighty glory and protection that would be.

Unfortunately I’m merely human and struggle to stay in that place of surrender, freedom from fear, and awe. But going forward, how do we rise like bread? How do we keep from shrinking like bacon into our fears and flesh?

  • Know God: ask him to reveal Himself to us
  • Read His word: we have to dig into it to know it
  • Attend a Bible believing, preaching church; join a small group
  • Pray: turn fears and anxieties into our greatest prayers
  • Rest, trust and obey
  • Memorize and Meditate on Scripture

Father God…so much evil and wrong in this world, yet You are always with us. Grieving with us at the injustice. Thank you for your presence and the hope that your son Jesus has given us. We have a choice- we can be afraid and worry or we can know Your truths are true and we can rise as you’ve called us to. Help us to be bread, dear Savior. If we start shrinking like bacon, help us to notice and turn our fears into prayers so we can rise. May we all know you better and allow Your Holy Spirit to change who we are for our good and Your glory. But also, keep us safe. In Jesus name I pray, AMEN. 





An activity for children:

IMG_7908Bake bread. It starts small but rises into something beautiful. Watch it rise and talk of how we, as believers, as called and equipped to rise against the struggles, fears, and sin of this world. Jesus sent us the Holy Spirit to be our Helper! Go over spiritual disciplines like reading the Bible, praying, church, memorizing Scripture, etc… to increase faith and rising up.

“I will put my Spirit within you and you will come to life.” Ezekiel 37:14

IMG_7911Make bacon. Watch it shrivel up. It starts large and the heat causes it to shrink. Talk of certain “heats” your child might be facing (bullying? up coming changes at school? fear? sin?). Talk of how this is where the enemy of our souls wants us, but God has called us higher and will help us rise and not shrink.

“But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.” Hebrews 10:39

 

Motherhood ~ A Living Sacrifice

Featured

We live in a world where self is so important. Self confidence, self sufficiency, self care, self before all else, etc… all so relevant but yet quite contrary to the gospel of Christ.

Yes, Jesus was the ultimate sacrifice, paying the price for our sins, but over and over in scripture we see the proper place for ourselves and that is last.

“If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.” Matthew 16:24

“Therefore, present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God…” Romans 12:1

Motherhood is a high calling of putting ourselves last, of putting our children, our blessings from above, before our wants and needs. Of dying to ourselves and thinking of them first. Everyday we have choice to sacrifice ourselves for the good of our family. We can prayerfully consider how we can deny ourselves in certain situations and go God’s way.

For me, dying to myself as a mom means missing out on events that cut into my family time. It means saying, “No” a lot to others. It also means dying to my desire for control, dying to yelling (such a struggle sometimes!) and putting down my phone (another struggle!). It also means putting my selfish desire to hurry up with bedtime so I can read a book or watch TV aside so I can read, pray and visit with each child. It also means to quit wishing this season away because it is often so hard, chaotic and exhausting.

It’s a continual death and one we will never quite master, but with the Lord’s help, we can do it better, we can be less selfish, we can be more like Christ.

Just as motherhood is a high calling, so is following Christ and we have a choice- sacrifice or self? What will we choose today? Where can we deny ourselves and put others needs truly above our own? How can we present our bodies to Him today to be living sacrifices for Him?

Father God, you are so gracious in all things- THANK YOU. I praise you for the blessing of motherhood. I pray we don’t take it lightly and we allow You to show us our selfishness so we can sacrifice instead. Help us to put our children and families before our own wants and desires. Help us to cherish the moments with our children and not wish for a different season. Thank you for being our ultimate sacrifice and paying the price for us. You are a good, good Father. In Jesus name I pray, AMEN.

DIRECTION

Featured

img_7614Several times a day, shuffling the kids to school and activities, I am faced with an intersection that has three different paths I can take, all leading to different areas of town. Because it changes based on my destination, almost every time I get to this place, I have to remind myself which way I need to go. I have to think, “Where am I going?” “Which way do I go right now?” I can leave my house, knowing where I am going, but once faced with this intersection, I have to remind myself the direction I am going so I don’t take a wrong turn.

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

As Christians, when we choose to follow the Lord, it’s a once and for all decision but also everyday decision to go HIS way and not our own.  Thankfully, we have His Spirit to help us, telling us the way in which we should go.

So today we can ask ourselves, Where am I going? Am I going with the Lord today? In that specific situation where we may be at a loss as to what to do or how to proceed in love, ask the Lord which way you should go…HE will point us in the direction of HIM, He will tell us, “This is the way, walk in it.” 

God’s way is never wrong. God’s way is not always easy. God’s way is normally against the flow of the world and even our own desires. God’s way is always love, forgiveness and grace. God’s way is best found in the pages of His Word.

Heavenly father, so many directions we can go in one day. May we not only take you with us, but may we let You guide us. You, the only One that can set our feet on solid ground. You, the only One who can help us take the direction of love, grace and forgiveness when we get to the messy intersections of life. You long to see Your children walking in the freedom that comes with a deep relationship with You- thank You for pursuing us with your never-stopping love and grace. Thank You for Your faithful patience. I praise you for granting us your continual presence, Your help, and Your voice when we seek You. I pray we all know You through Your Word and choose walk with you today. In Jesus name, AMEN.

What can we give Jesus for His birthday this year?

Featured

Christmas is such a wonderful time of giving but do we ever give anything to the One we are celebrating? We all know the wise men brought gifts to Jesus after His birth; shouldn’t we, too, as we celebrate His birthday?

“They entered the house and saw the child with his mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.” Matthew 2:11

Here’s a short video with how we did this last year:

Here are some ideas, verses and questions to help you find something to give to Jesus this year for His birthday.

“Make vows to the Lord your God, and keep them. Let everyone bring tribute to the Awesome One.” Psalms 76:11

Some things to consider:

  • What is an area of struggle for you right now?
  • What can you not quit?
  • What can you not let go of?
  • What are you trying to control?
  • What is keeping you from intimacy with God?
  • What does He need to change in you?

Last year I gave Jesus my voice. Because I needed Him to change it, make it new, make it kind, compassionate and loving in the hard moments of parenting- and really life in general. I needed Him to help me with my tone of voice and how it comes across. And He did. I’m no where near perfect but He helped me all year with this. So grateful!

What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits toward me? Psalms 116:12

Some ideas:

  • Your heart. All of it.
  • Your life, if you haven’t yet made Jesus your Savior
  • Your marriage
  • Your children
  • Your infertility
  • Your job situation
  • Your bad habit (s)
  • Your addiction
  • Your time
  • Your diet
  • Your phone (seriously considering this one myself!)
  • 10% of your monthly income
  • Your future
  • Your finances
  • Your material possessions
  • Your fears
  • Your voice
  • Your first 30 minutes of the day
  • Prayer time
  • Your priorities

Looking through this list, a lot of it is what the Lord wants from us, but giving Him something specific for His birthday and really surrendering it to Him consciously in 2020, is a start in the right direction. Much of following/choosing Jesus is a learned behavior, only done with the Spirit’s help. And help us He will!

My prayer for all of us as we give to Jesus this year is that we Proverbs16:3 – “Commit your works to the LORD And your plans will be established.”

If you and your family start this tradition, I’d love to hear from you on how it went and what you are giving.

Thanks, friends and Merry Christmas!

Love Always, Sarah

Halloween Giving and Free Printables

Featured

One of my greatest desires for our children is that they are others-focused.  Not that I have in any way mastered this, but together, I want us to love to give and to do so with cheerful hearts.

Halloween, like other holidays for children, is a lot about receiving, of getting something from someone else.  We have always participated in this receiving, but one year, with my husband out of town and not wanting to tackle trick-or-treating alone with all 3 kiddos, I decided we would stay in and give out for a change.

I didn’t want to just hand out candy, though.  Somehow I wanted to be able to share the love of Christ with those coming to our door step.  What an opportunity, right!?  I found and printed off some cute Halloween-themed wallet sized cards with a bible verse on them and let the kids help me laminate and cut them out (so fun for the kids!).

“…make the most of every opportunity.” Colossians 4:5

The evening of Halloween rolled around and we were so excited. Costumes were on, we had a bucket of candy and a bucket of verse cards, we were ready! When the princesses, superheroes and other cute (and some scary!) characters came up to our porch to trick-or-treat, my children handed them candy and a verse card and told them “Jesus loves you!” It was really a precious sight.  Thanks to a friend, my older kids were even able to go to a few houses and trick-or-treat.

That night, as so many people came to our house and we handed out candy and verse cards, my heart was full.  It even made me wish we did something like it for Christmas and Easter and not just Halloween- but that’s dreaming really big, isn’t it!?  It also made me realize we can take anything and turn it into a way to share hope with others.

“…it is more blessed to give than to receive.” Acts 20:35

Since that particular Halloween, we have enjoyed continuing this tradition and have designed some verse cards with some of our favorite verses.  If you would like to do more than just hand out candy this Halloween, a simple “Jesus loves you” is easy and great, or you can click here to download the Halloween verse cards we designed in PDF.

As I type this, my children are happily (for now ha!) cutting and laminating our batch of cards. They don’t have to be laminated and would work just fine without the lamination, we just kind of love and enjoy using our laminating machine. You can also right click and save the individual images below and print at Walgreens or Walmart for more professional and evenly cut cards (wink-wink).

Happy Halloween giving, friends!

Halloween 2018 verse card printable PDF link

A Strong Tower

Featured

We can’t put our trust in people, we can’t put our trust in our circumstances, there has to be something stronger, more stable, constant & perfect.

His name is Jesus & He is mighty to save. To redeem, restore & heal.

HE is a safe place. This world is not but He is.

Bad things happen in this world- it’s fallen, we are fallen, no one is immune. But God is faithful loving & kind. Do we really trust & know this when we see so much bad happening or even when we remember this day so many years ago?

Can we praise Him amidst our many storms & sorrows in this life? Can we be real with Him & let Him know how hurt, disappointed & sad we are at people and circumstances?

He allowed this day 18 years ago to happen. And it makes me shake my head, wide eyed, wanting to step away from Him because that was so bad & yet He allowed it? But the gospel & God’s goodness and grace go against our human sinful nature & eyes that only see bad.

We can choose to walk with Him when He allows bad things to happen or we can choose to distance ourselves from the only one who truly knows us & can heal us from the pain of this world.

We are not safe in this world, we are safer because of Him but this safety doesn’t always reveal itself as protection from trauma & death. This safety reveals itself as a Heavenly Father who knows, loves & wants His children to turn & follow Him. To grow “better from hard things & not bitter” (Lisa harper).

We can not know why, His ways are higher; we can shake our heads & question Him, & ultimately run to Him as the only strong tower worthy of our trust.

He is good, y’all.

He is faithful.

This place is not a believers home.

He is hope, healing & freedom. Here or in heaven.

He is sovereign & can work all things together for good, for a greater purpose.

We have to know His truths as this world, people & circumstance beat us down or cause us to question His love for His people.

Know there is more to come, HE is to come. No matter what’s next HE is there & He loves us.

Look at the bad & recite, memorize, meditate on these truths. Know His Word, get into it. Read Job (talk about brutal circumstances!).

Know Him, love Him, run to Him.

In Jesus name amen.

Frizzy Hair and the Refining Process

Featured

God allows various trials in our lives, various fires. It’s the refining process, with the heat molding us, shaping us and smoothing us out, just as a curling iron does to our hair. Our refining by the fire has the opportunity to bring growth, more knowledge of Him, more desperation for Him while transforming our hearts to be more like Him.

Eyes on Him, we will be refined for His glory.

This would be an easy/fun activity to show to your children, too!

(Ps! Sorry for my sweet little distractions 😂 I tried to re-record and it just didn’t happen 🤷🏻‍♀️)

Don’t. Be. Afraid.

Featured

His desk is the one closest to the door of the classroom. I noticed it right away at the teacher meet and greet. The scenario of a gunman entering the room filled my thoughts as I visualized where the shots would most likely be fired first.

A lump welled up in my throat and a shot anxiety passed through my body. I took a deep breath and reigned myself in, for the most part.

————–

I know these thoughts are irrational but it’s a fear I see played out in my head as my children happily choose or are assigned their seat at the beginning of a school year.

I’ve not thought about it much since school has started but in light of the recent rumor of a school shooting the lump and anxiety are back.

I think of how my parents never had to think of things like this, how schools were just open…so different than the way things are today.

So what are we to do?

I know my children’s school is safe but I also know evil is lurking everywhere. We could all just stay home all the time in a bubble, Amazon everything and stay safe, right?

But what good is it to live in fear???

Do not be afraid. The Bible tells us over and over and over.

Jesus is with my children in their classroom. Jesus is in their school. Worrying will only cause me grief and no quality of life so I must pray and trust. And when I worry I pray and trust some more.

Be anxious for nothing. But in everything with prayer and supplication make your requests known to God. Philippians 4:6

I must take every fearful thought captive to my Jesus. I trust that He is good and just. He is righteous and can save. I know that this world is not our home.

And the peace of God which surpasses all will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7

The minute the fear creeps in I must replace it with truth. His word tell me His peace will guard my heart and mind– goodness, how I need this peace!!

When guards are set up, they keep bad things out, right? So this peace from God will come when I Philippians 4:6, when I PRAY. And when I “be anxious for nothing”. Agh I can’t do that one without praying. My own strength can only do so much at getting rid of anxiety, I need Christ and His words to truly combat it.

Such a war we live in– in the world but also in our minds and hearts. But we are not alone- we have the Spirit of God to help us, to guide us and to equip us.

No matter what.

To the schools who hold our precious babies for 35 hours a week, please be vigilant. In prayer and protection. To the moms, dads, grandparents and teachers – pray like crazy. But trust like crazy too. We must teach our children to pray as well, and to not be afraid. Why? Because God is with them (us), He loves them (us), and He is good.

“I will not be afraid because the Lord is with me. People can’t do anything to me.”

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭118:6‬

Dear Lord-

Just no. No. Please, Lord. You see all and know all. Please stop this evil. I beg of you. Please help us to pray and give you every ounce of anxiety and fear. Help us to not. Be. Afraid. Help us to teach our children who you are so they won’t fear. Guard our hearts and our minds please. Stop any evil plans, let it all be a hoax and just an opportunity to turn to You, children in hand and walk with Your peace surpassing all. Help us to trust You and know You are good even in the bad and You do not change. In Jesus saving name, amen.

Alright, people. Let’s pray and trust and go about our day with the strength and peace of the Lord. May our children see the difference in us today and be transformed as well.

When We Don’t Know Why, God is in the Why

Featured

In less than a year, our community has lost two precious women I had the privilege of knowing. They both loved the Lord and lived for Him, teaching others His Word and shining brightly for Him. They leave behind husbands and children…and it all seems so unfair.

I find myself asking God a lot of questions– “Why?” “Why someone who loves You and follows You?” “Women who teach Your Word?” “Why someone so young?” “Why, Lord?” “Why these women, these moms still raising children?”

I know we are supposed to ask “What now?” rather than “Why?” But for today, I cannot stop the why. And that’s ok because God is in the why. It’s in our questions and our desperation that we seek Him and if we seek Him we will find Him.

I feel that when I doubt God’s plan or His ways I am disregarding all the truths I know to be true about Him, but as long as I find myself back at His truth’s, its’ OK to ask questions, right? Surely His grace still overflows when our hearts are breaking in the unfairness of life and the why’s that may never be answered.

As I wrestle with why, these truths stand out to me the most:

  • God is good even when life isn’t
  • He is always there with His people and to help His people
  • He can redeem hard situations
  • To these women, to live was Christ and to die was gain
  • Even in death and tragedy, others can be saved (hello, Jesus!- the cross!) or brought closer to Him
  • This place is not our home
  • We will be reunited again one day

We just don’t want these people gone from us, do we? We want them here to continue to do God’s work, don’t we?

Then I’m reminded that our work on earth is never done; even when we die, what’s done for Christ will last and these ladies certainly did a lot for Christ. A lot of eternal work. The impact they had on their families, friends, church, and community will live on forever.

“Only one life, ’twill soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last.” C.T. Studd

God is always working for those who love him as I know these women and their families do. We must hold on to that truth and fill it in our minds when we wrestle with the “whys” of this world.

“God causes all things to work together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28

To my town as we mourn…let’s turn to Jesus and seek His face as I’m sure these women, if still with us, would be so honored and happy if we would all do just that. And please pray- when the only thing you can do is pray, you pray.

In Jesus Mighty name, AMEN.

Verses to cling to from God’s Word, the Book both of these women stood on:

  • “My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts. My ways are far beyond anything we could imagine.” Isaiah 55:8-9
  • “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” Proverbs 3:5
  • “O Israel, hope in the Lord; for with the Lord there is lovingkindness, and with Him is abundant redemption.” Psalms 130:7
  • “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalms 34:18
  • “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

There are a million more I could post, but I encourage us all to get into His Word for ourselves and let the truths of who He is comfort and guide us.

For Wendy and Kristie ♥️

To the Anderson and Stokes families…you all are loved and prayed for by so many people who grieve with you. Praying you see, feel and know that the Lord is near.

 

G O A L

Featured

When I was about 11, I played on a basketball league. We were the Rockets and my dad was the coach. Unfortunately, I was no good ~ one time I was put in the game and the ball was thrown to me. It was my chance to contribute to the team, I finally had the opportunity to make a basket. I turned towards the goal, jumped up…but the ball never left my hands.

Oops.

“Walking!” The referee yelled.

My one chance and I blew it. I was so embarrassed at the time but now it’s a funny story I like to tell my children. How I had the chance to make a goal and just couldn’t let go of the ball. I let my fear and nervousness get the best of me.

As Christians our ultimate goal is Christ, Heaven, Him; and I’m so grateful for the grace in the walking of this Christian life (pun intended! Ha!). Grateful for do-overs and second chances!

However, if we turn to the goal, jump to shoot and don’t let go, we won’t make the goal Christ has for us. We must let go of the ball. Give it to Him. Whatever our “ball” may be, give it to Him.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, 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…” Hebrews‬ ‭12:1‬

Some days this daily letting go – surrendering – to make the goal is really hard and other days it’s might be easier.

Do your nerves get the best of you? Me too. Does what others think matter a little too much? Yup.

This little scenario from my childhood reminds me to get the ball, turn to the goal, let go and let God.

“I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which god has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:14

“So we make it our goal to please Him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it.” 2 Corinthians 5:9

W O R L D ~ Five Minute Friday

Featured

God created the world and everything in it;

But how often we look to this world to fulfill us.

To fill this hole inside our souls

An aching to belong and to be known.

When we already are so known, so loved by our Creator.

How often we miss it because this world distracts.

It vies for our attention but leaves us in lack.

Of the goodness and grace of the Father above

Of forgiveness and kindness, gentleness and love.

This world is a world in which sin gets its way

It destroys and deceives and ruins our stay.

But hope has a name, it’s Jesus Christ

None can compare. None can compete.

With the healing, freedom and wholeness He brings

to His children, surrendered, fallen on our knees.

Giving it up to Him this place in our souls

Granting the Maker complete control

One with the world or one with God?

It’s one or the other- which way do we fall?

Q U E S T I O N ~ Five Minute Friday Writing Prompt and Blog Link Up

Featured

“Question” is the writing prompt for today from the Five Minute Friday writing prompt. The following is what came to my mind and heart ♥️

“W I L L Y O U ?”

Will you follow Me today, my child? Will you?

Will you take My hand and let Me be your guide?

Will you let Me lead the way and open your heart to all I have to say?

Will you?

Will you rest in Me and My love for you? Will you look to Me to make you new?

Will you?

Will you shine like a star in the nighttime sky?

And spread My love as the day goes by?

Will you?

Will you know of the grace in each step you make?

Whether tethered to Me or making a mistake?

Will you?

Will you die to yourself so you can really live?

For in your place, My Son did I give.

Will you walk today in light of the cross? With eyes on Jesus, there is no loss.

A question for today, My dear child I love you so…

will you stay with Me or will you go?

On your own way, doing as you please?

With temporary pleasures this world tries to appease.

To temp you with things too small to make you whole,

to fill you with distractions that is the enemy’s goal.

Will you know that in Me you will truly be free?

I will open your eyes and you will really see.

Will you let Me reign in your life and soul?

Will you abide in Me so I can make you whole?

I will show you the way and help you live. This side of heaven My Holy Spirit I give.

Walk with Me, take My hand.

I will lead you to the promised land.

I’ll be with you every step of the way and always remember to take time to pray.

You have My Word to hear Me speak, get in it daily and you won’t be weak.

Worship Me and show others the way,

Will you follow Me today?

Old Testament or New Testament, God is the Same and Each Word is Useful + Bible Reading Plans to Take You Through His Word

Featured

Below is the Bible reading plan I’ve done twice- it’s so good and I experienced the most growth in my spiritual journey studying this way!

For the Replicate Ministries F260 Bible reading plan click below!

https://replicate.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/F260-Reading-Plan-2018.pdf

Something Brand New

Featured

IMG_2998


Lord we need something brand new.

It can only be done with our eyes on You.

May our foundation be ever so strong

Built to last a lifetime long.

Built on You the ground floor is laid

Brick by brick the price has been paid.

You poured out your love for us on the cross

Our gain of Heaven in Christ’s brief loss.

He was resurrected, redeemed and restored

You still do this here and now, don’t you, Lord?

A plan you have a future you hold

A love story in us waiting to be told

Work mightily in our hearts today

You, Oh Lord, are the only way.

Happy Resurrection Sunday dear friends! Praying we all set our hearts and sights anew today.  Jesus is continually in the business of making all things ~ and anything ~  new. No better time to start than today, Easter Sunday 2019.

Have a wonderful day celebrating Jesus and the beauty He brings- in worship, in our children, in our marriages, in our faith. Praising Him today. Love you all, Sarah


God Knows What’s Next

Featured

God knows what’s next.

He knew the day His one and only perfect blameless Son was brutally beaten and murdered what was coming next. He knew He had a plan of redemption for not just His Son, but for anyone who believes and accepts His love, grace and forgiveness.

He knows what’s next.

And sometimes that’s hard for me because I want to know what’s next. I want to know what’s coming so I can be prepared. Braced and ready for whatever. But I’ve always heard that when someone about to have a wreck tightens up because they know a collision is about to happen, their injuries are worse and they are more sore than if their body hadn’t of known what was coming; if they had just gone with whatever happened next.

So while sometime this blind-sighting of pain or tragedy can feel like a betrayal by God- we must know He is not a god of betrayal. He is a good God who loves us more deeply than we can imagine. He knows what’s next but He also knows there’s always a way out and a plan of redemption and healing. In Him, through Him and only with Him.

He knew what was next that gruesome Friday. He knew Sunday was coming.

Are you in a Friday moment? Hold on, Sunday’s coming. ♥️

“He is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting in the Lord.” Psalms‬ ‭112:7‬

Easter Baskets on Purpose, Free Printables and other Easter fun! (Grown-Up post only!)

Featured

Yay It’s almost Easter! Below is a video that explains more about the fun printables and several links to help make Easter fun and memorable for your kiddos while incorporating God’s word and the reason for the season.

I’ve designed these free printables for you to use however you like~ use them for your children’s Easter Baskets or randomly put in their lunchboxes- His Word never returns void the Scriptures tell us! These verses can start some really great conversations with your children no matter their age.

Click HERE to download these Easter Basket Verse Cards I designed for YOU!


Click on the following links for more great ways to do Easter on Purpose:

PS- Don’t get overwhelmed, there are a lot of things you can do for Easter. Pray and pick a few or just one thing and do it, you don’t have to do it all sweet Mama or Dadda (I’m learning this too!)

Here are the kids Easter baskets from the last few years ♥️

A few years ago I just wrote out verses- you can do that too!

Verse of the Week for Little (and Big!) Hearts

Featured

Here’s a video on how we do a verse of the week. If you want to do this too, you can tailor it to meet your needs! See below for more options!

As you can see in the video, we do our verse of the week on a dry-erase board in a very central part of the house. If you would rather not mess up the walls, hang the scripture on the fridge or above bathrooms or kitchen sinks. Really anywhere that is frequented would work!

Praying this will help us all to hide God’s Word in our hearts- big and small!

 

Reward

Featured

A mother’s job is one that never ends. One that is exhausting, overwhelming, but oh so special, too.

In the middle of it all, however, I find myself tiring of doing what is good. Tired of bedtime battles, tired of poopy diapers, tired of the sibling rivalries, tired of trying to get it together only to find myself (and everyone else) falling apart.

Only twice have I really wanted to just get in my minivan and drive away (once was right after having baby #3 so I’m blaming that on the crazy hormones!)

But I’ve found that it’s in those moments of complete “done-ness” that God meets me and reminds me of who He is

He is my reward. He is the One I do this for. He is the one who has given me every desire in my heart with my three precious children. He is the giver of all things good and He is the One who will help me keep pressing on and doing what is good.

For Him, my reward.

It’s not a crown we get here on this earth. We get spit up on, thrown up on, peed on, kicked, yelled at, etc…we don’t get thanked or appreciated the way our selfish hearts desire BUT we get Him and the reward He has for us if we keep pressing on and doing what is good.

Lord help us to lean on you, to do things for You, to know that You are with us, and for us giving us strength to keep pressing on.

(This post is part of the weekly Five Minute Friday link-up!)

Apples and Training Up

Featured

I have always loved apples. Anyone who knows me knows of my love for apples. The other day as I was washing some apples I wondered why I have always loved apples and then I remembered that both of my grandmothers had several apple trees in their back yards. I can remember picking apples with them- eating them whole with peel on (the best part!). Grabbing them from the branches or even finding some good ones still on the ground….

Watch below for more!

Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6

There is only one right way, God’s way, the way of life. Since it is axiomatic that early training secures lifelong habits, parents must insist on this way, teaching God’s Word and enforcing it with loving discipline consistently throughout the child’s upbringing. -John Mac Arthur The MacArthur Bible Commentary

(axiomatic: UNDENIABLE🤦🏻‍♀️🤷🏻‍♀️😂)

Ps- I truly believe training up children begins at home but never want to minimize the impact church and church activities at a Bible-believing, Bible-teaching church can have on a child. Remember what my first full sentence was? “My go church all night!” Church involvement and attendance is so incredibly important to supplement what we teach, model and value at home ♥️

 

 

Let My Life Be the Proof of Your Love

Featured

How we treat others is truly how we represent Christ the best. Watch below to see how the Lord has been reminding me of this continually lately!

Scripture reading~

  • Isaiah 58
  • James 2
  • 1 Corinthians 13

We cannot be saved without faith in Christ, but our faith lacks sincerity if it doesn’t reach out to others.

This song speaks so much to this post and my heart. Can’t get the lyrics out of my head- which is a good thing! Click below to listen! ♥️

I’m involved with our local Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) and loved the following quotes from our notes last week:

God expects His people to show their love for Him by showing love for one another.

Loyalty to God includes loyalty to His people.

Tough stuff, loving others. There are hard people in this world (myself included from time to time I am sure!). But with Christ we can represent Him well and love others by helping, giving, sharing, forgiving…what are some other ways we can represent Christ well and love others? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Love you, friends

Sarah ♥️

Can A Mom Forget Her Nursing Child?

Featured

Isaiah 49- the promises of Israel’s restoration and the Lords compassion and unending presence.

A prayer- Lord, thank You for being a compassionate God. One that does not leave us alone in our suffering and who can never forget us. Forgive us for questioning You and doubting You and wondering where You are. You are there always, always working and moving in ways we cannot see. Your plan is restoration for Your people. May Your will be done in us today. In Jesus name I pray, AMEN.

A New Year’s Verse & Last Year’s Word

Featured

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/07f/54734968/files/2014/12/img_7678.jpgWow, we’re 2 days into 2019.  Someone tell me where 2018 went?? I’m already feeling like I can’t keep up- I can’t decide on a word for the year…maybe a handful will do?? Maybe I should just choose the word “simple” and that would solve all my problems- ha!

While I don’t feel my mental calendar has flipped the page to 2019, it’s here and with each new year, for me, comes the desire to change up a few things in my life.  It’s a time to reflect on the previous year and set some goals or “resolutions” to be better in the following year.  You do it too, right??

Over the years, I’ve set many of these so-called resolutions, but I find, so often, they don’t stick.

Anyone else know what I’m talking about?

I can remember starting a read-the Bible-in-a-year devotional (more than once!)…I made it to about maybe mid January.  I know I started several new workout regimes only to fall off the wagon soon after I got on.  Why is this??  Is it because we are relying upon our own strength and will to set and accomplish these new goals?? Are we setting ourselves up for failure by expecting too much?

What would happen if we prayerfully considered and established goals, words or verses for ourselves and relied we on the power of the Holy Spirit to see things through? What would happen if we resided to rest in Him and the grace He offers when we forget or don’t follow through on those new year commitments?? What if we took the pressure off of ourselves to perform and humbly allowed Him to move and work in our hearts and lives?

“Not by might nor by power but by My Spirit,” says the Lord. Zechariah 4:6

Last year my word of the year was courage- and while I ignored it on some days, there is a vast difference in my courage level from one year ago. HUGE, actually. And it’s because of Him. I’ve struggled with fear most of my life. I still do at times and probably forever will, but who knows, with God all things are possible, right!? So, for me, courage was the perfect word last year. And please know I have in no way reached a pinnacle of “courage” perfection- ha! As I reread my “courage list” I see many areas I still need him to move mightily in!

img_0325This was the cheesy picture I sent my friends as we all shared our words of the year. And below are the words I wrote as I began 2018, the places I needed God to help make me brave.

Courage: the ability to do something that frightens one; strength in the face of pain or grief; bravery, valor, FEARLESSNESS, audacity, boldness.

The courage to trust the Lord.

The courage to let go.

The courage to be authentic.

The courage to be bold in faith.

The courage to surrender.

The courage to be different.

The courage to go against the flow.

The courage not to yell.

The courage to speak the truth with love.

The courage to love freely, openly and with no regrets.

The courage to write.

The courage to speak and speak up.

The courage to give to others.

The courage for missions when it’s scary.

The courage to only seek Gods approval.

The courage to be consistent disciplining my children.

The courage to say yes.

The courage to say no.

The courage to take the risk even though I’m afraid.

The courage to let others in.

Their courage to ask for help.

The courage to be kind.

The courage to be humble.

The courage to surrender.

The courage to do His will.

The courage to say the hard things

The courage to think before I speak.

The courage to forget.

The courage to remember.

The courage to cry.

The courage not to cry.

Courage.

Funny–is it just me or is the word “courage” starting to look misspelled? It’s interesting how looking at a word so long can do that. Even if we say it too much it might start sounding strange.  Which was probably good that everyday I didn’t just wake up and say, “COURAGE!” or continuously repeat the word to myself– it was there when I needed it and an unspoken between the Lord and me. I didn’t rely on the word “courage” to help me but somehow rested in Him and His unfolding of new courage in areas I’ve longed to be more brave in. It’s been like a river He has taken me through, guiding me with the current, developing courage subtly and slowly, without me really even realizing it until now as I reflect upon Him moving and working in my life in the last 365 days.

Maybe before 2020 I’ll have the courage to pick just one of the many words on my heart for 2019 and get back to my initial point of this post!

Not by might now by power but by HIS SPIRIT.

His Spirit will help us in ways we don’t even see or know.

Whatever word, verse, motto we choose this year, may we give it to Him and take note of how He moves and changes us and shows Himself to us. And if you’d like to share, I’d love to know your goals, resolutions, etc…

Happy New Year friends, love y’all!

Thank You, Sweet Jesus for working in ways we can’t even see. Thank you for being so good and faithful even when we are not. I pray today that we feel your love and grace and rest in the plans You have to carry us, mold us and make us new. I pray we press into this new year and forget the things behind. I pray we are steadfast in seeking You and that we wake each day with purpose in our hearts- Your purpose for us. Daily may we give ourselves to You. By humbling ourselves, listening to the Spirit’s leading, and letting You guide us as we determine our goals, word, motto, and/or verses of the year, help us purposefully put them into action each day. May we go into this year with Your grace in our arms knowing that even if we slip, mess up or fail all together, nothing will change Your love for us. In Your saving Name I pray, AMEN. 

 

Broken Hands & Clenched Fists

Featured

This was a recent guest post on my friend Emma Mason’s blog (link here). Thought I would share with you all too! Merry Christmas Eve!


A few weeks ago, while decorating the house for Christmas, I came across our nativity scenes. We have two and they both make me super happy because they are both so special. One was a gift from my parents many years ago and the other belonged to my paternal grandmother.

Unfortunately, one nativity scene has several pieces that have broken over the years- baby Jesus’ hand, Mary’s hand and this year, I noticed Joseph’s hand was somehow knocked off. The other nativity scene was in pristine condition as I carefully pulled it from the box then WHAM! I clanked the pieces together and off fell Mary’s left hand. UGH.

As I glued the hand back on I couldn’t help but think of the position of Mary’s hands reflecting the position of her heart. Both hands in this figurine are open to Jesus. Yes, she is His mother, but before God even opened her womb she had opened her hands and heart to Him.

I’m reminded of her response to Gabriel, the angel who tells her of the supernatural pregnancy she will soon experience:

“’I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary said. “May it be done to me according to your word.’” Luke 1:38

Now let’s just stop for a minute and put ourselves in her shoes- I think I might have laughed like Sarai did in the Old Testament if an angel had come to me and told me the news that I would be carrying God’s One and Only Son. The Word, God in human form…the One that was promised long ago to be our Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God and Prince of Peace. The One everyone had been waiting on. I also think I would be very, very afraid of what was to come and what others would think.

But Mary, having open hands, child-like faith and an obedient, willing heart humbly responded to the angel, “OK, whatever you say.”

I mean, wow.

Maybe that’s why He chose her…But honestly, if we are children of God, we are all chosen to have open hands and open hearts to whatever He has for our lives, right?

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I feel my hands are clenched tightly. I lay in bed at night and must consciously relax and open my hands. It seems they have developed a need to retreat to a position of being closed. Has my heart assumed this position too? Maybe my hands are closed because I’m tense or anxious and that’s where it all goes, maybe because I have a phone in my hand so much of the day my hands just assume that position, or maybe it’s my age- I did turn 40 this year? Who knows… but it’s something I must continually do and have become very aware of. Open my hands, stretch out my fingers. Keep my hands open.

Back to my heart- shouldn’t I practice this same exercise here too? Each day wake up and stretch open my heart to the Lord. His ways, His words, His voice and His plans for my life…even and especially if they look different than what I had planned. Keep my heart open.

I’m fairly certain carrying baby Jesus and giving birth to the One who would save people from their sins was not what Mary or Joseph had in mind as they were beginning their relationship. And surely, they had no idea what his life would entail- the criticism, ridicule and His brutal death. And yet, they were the Lord’s servants. Open hearts and open hands to do His will.

Somedays my hands and heart are humbly open to the Lord…other days, they are closed tightly around the things I hold dear and my heart seems shut down and far from him…which begs the question-what truth about God am I not believing?

As I type this, tears are brewing in my eyes because I know what often holds me back- I don’t know what’s next.

But neither did Mary. Neither did Abraham as he walked his only son Isaac up the mountain to the altar. When I think of Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane as a grown man begging God to take the cup from Him because He knew what was coming yet He still humbly responded with an open heart and hands, “…not my will but Yours be done” (Luke 22:42).

With my fists clenched and heart closed off I’m not believing that His ways or plans are good, or that no matter what’s around the corner, He is good still and can bring good from any situation. I’m not believing He truly loves me.

I can’t control people or circumstances, so my hands and heart assume a closed-off position while holding tightly to what I can because I know that sometimes our biggest fears come true. Sometimes people hurt others, babies die before they even breathe a breath and we cannot make sense of the tragedies we see or experience. BUT- I cannot look to or think about these things more than I look to, think about and believe the truths about God. His promises for good, to be our comfort, for peace and joy, the promise of HEAVEN. The promise and help of His Spirit when bad times come, the promise that His character is ALWAYS GOOD and even though this world is often hard, and disaster comes, HE CAN BE TRUSTED to bring good. Somehow, someway. IF we look to Him for help with open hands and hearts.

Keep my hands open. Keep my heart open.

Our 7-year-old son has placed two gifts in his stocking- one for Santa and one for Jesus. How sweet that he is giving something to Jesus this year for His birthday. I mean, we do leave Santa and his reindeer cookies and milk, right? Of course, we should give something to the Lord as we celebrate His birth.

I want to end this post asking, what will we give Jesus this year? What gift can we give Him? Can we give Him our clenched fists, so he can open them? Can we give Him our broken hands, so He can heal them? Can we give Him our whole hearts today and every day? Can we truly say, “I am Your servant…Your will not mine”?

I think we can. After all, with God all things are possible.

Lord, thank You for Your Word filled with many promises we can cling to. Thank you for the many humble, broken people in the 66 books of the Bible that can teach us how to open our hearts and hands to You. Forgive us when we don’t trust You or when we question Your will or ways. Help us get to a place of surrender. Keep our hands and hearts open to You for salvation, Your Spirit, guidance, comfort, peace, joy, grace and to be used by You. May we gift you our hearts and hands this Christmas. May our eyes see you and look to you, not our circumstance or what if’s. If we are going to clench our fists may it be because we are holding tightly to You and the promises of You. The now and always of You- You are a good God, You love us, Your ways are good, and we can trust You. Happy Birthday, our Savior and King. May Your will be done. In Your mighty saving name, I pray, Amen.

Easter Baskets on Purpose, Free Printables and other Easter fun! (Grown-Up post only!)

Featured

Yay It’s almost Easter! Below is a video that explains more about the fun printables and several links to help make Easter fun and memorable for your kiddos while incorporating God’s word and the reason for the season.

I’ve designed these free printables for you to use however you like~ use them for your children’s Easter Baskets or randomly put in their lunchboxes- His Word never returns void the Scriptures tell us! These verses can start some really great conversations with your children no matter their age.

Click HERE to download these Easter Basket Verse Cards I designed for YOU!


Click on the following links for more great ways to do Easter on Purpose:

PS- Don’t get overwhelmed, there are a lot of things you can do for Easter. Pray and pick a few or just one thing and do it, you don’t have to do it all sweet Mama or Dadda (I’m learning this too!)

Grace Expectations

No human will ever be able to meet our deepest needs. This is something I’ve learned over my life.

We often put undue pressure on our husbands, children, friends and family to fill a void in our lives, to be a certain way, or to be who we think they should be so they can meet our needs and our expectations.  Whether we are aware we do this or if we do this unknowingly, it’s wrong.

Let me say it again, no human will ever be able to meet our deepest needs.

It is Jesus’ job to fill that part of our soul and no one else can do it.

Our husbands, friends, family, etc.…WILL fail us, just as we WILL fail them.  They will hurt us, mainly because of these unseen expectations or needs we want them to meet for us.

People will let us down…we live in a fallen world and are naturally sinful and selfish.  By knowing this and remembering this, we can let grace slide into our hurts and our disappointments from others.  This does not mean we are a doormat.  This does not mean that we hide how we are feeling from others, but that we share it openly and honestly with love because unresolved conflict can erupt or turn into bitterness if bottled up.

When we allow Jesus to reside in us and in our relationships there is so much love and grace ready and waiting to be poured out. We should lovingly let others know what we need from them, but give them grace when (not if) they fall short.

And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.” 2 Corinthians 9:8

We are given grace everyday abundantly…grace, forgiveness, no bitterness bottling up from Jesus –how freeing is that!?  Let others go.  Set them free of these expectations and just love them.  As unselfishly and as purely as Jesus will let you (is there a cap on that!? I doubt it!).

Love Him and Love others.

The day Jesus Christ died on the cross grace abounded for those who believe and follow Him.  The grace unseen that is weaved throughout Scripture before this one sacrificial act caused grace to truly burst forth for us (can I get a “Thank you, Lord”!?).  Grace that is available to all people if they accept it.  For us to truly offer grace to others we must learn to accept it and embrace it for ourselves. Because of this grace so freely given to us, we are empowered and equipped to give it to others.

Who do we need to free up of certain expectations we have placed on them?  In what relationships do we need to let go of anger, bitterness or resentfulness today (even if we never get the “I’m sorry” we may crave?)?

Lord, You are grace unending. And sometimes we just don’t understand it.  I pray You would help us understand it for ourselves so we can openly give it to others in the freedom of the cross.  Help us recognize where we need to show grace to others in our lives.  You created us beautifully, uniquely, and it’s awesome! You are so creative!  Your hope for us is that we would love You and love others.  You love us with such freedom of grace; grace and love with no strings attached, no performance we have to do to be yours…help us to love Your people with this same love and grace.  In the freedom of the cross may we love and love and then love some more.  In our Savior’s beautiful name, Amen