God Knows What’s Next

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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

A New Year’s Verse & Last Year’s Word

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/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

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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.

Halloween Giving and Free Printables

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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