Encouragement

Building Unity During A Season Of Separation

Now, more than ever, is a time for the body of Christ to unite. Though our physical bodies are currently limited in our daily interactions and in-person socializations, our spirits should be united as one..one body…the body of Christ.

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Pandemic, quarantine, death tolls, public health models, social distancing…we’ve all seen and heard these words swirling around on every social media and public platform over the last few weeks. Words that months ago would scarcely cross our minds. Now, these words are real…they’re tangible…and we are living them.

Each of us has our own ideas and thoughts about the current events, and we each deal with them in our own way. We are a nation of diverse people from different backgrounds, experiences, and walks of life. We see things differently, express ourselves uniquely, and manifest emotions and actions from various components pertaining to our individualism. As distinct and disparate as we think we are…we are all really just the same. We are each made in the image and likeness of God. A single thread which knits our world and lives together.

We all have our own ways of dealing with things, especially during times of great conflict or difficulties. Over the last few days, I have watched in utter disbelief as people fought over a roll of toilet paper and scrambled to empty out their grocer’s shelves. I have heard raw cries of fear, witnessed citizens angered over the interruption of their daily lives, and some of the funniest memes I think I’ve ever seen, but there is one thing that has loomed in my mind above all others. I have watched Christians tearing other Christians down with harsh words, sharp judgement, and superfluous ridicule. Why? Because people have not responded to our current situation the way that they have, or the way that they think others should.

” I’m ashamed of some of you so-called Christians”, “You’re just giving in to fear”, “If you’re not in that pew on Sunday, you need to re-evaluate your faith”, “If you truly believed and had faith in God, you would know that you are protected and can’t get sick”, “The only people who get sick are those who have sin in their lives”, “You’re a liar if you say you trust in God and you’re not going to church this morning”, “What kind of an example are you setting for unbelievers by not going to church during this fear mongering false pandemic?” WOW…just WOW. Reading over these posts and comments, my heart just broke. What kind of an example are these statements setting for unbelievers AND believers alike? Comments such as these drive a wedge…a wedge of division. During this time of recommended separation to slow the spread of this virus, let us unite as “the church”! WE are the CHURCH! WE are HIS CHURCH!

It’s during times like this that we must ban together. There is such power in unity! We the church can unite in prayer and fasting regardless of whether we are sitting in a building together or not. We have taken the freedoms that we have been blessed with for granted for too long. We can worship our God freely, in spirit and in truth…in a house of worship, in our homes, our cars, or anywhere of our choosing! There are millions of people who do not share in that freedom today. We are a blessed people! Instead of asking ourselves why this is happening to us, let’s shift the focus to what can God teach us through this season.

Let’s use this season of separation as a time to slow down. Let’s get back to the basics of life and true family. Let’s devote more time to praying and to reading the Word. Let’s utilize and maximize our time to bring glory to God! During this season of chaos, may God speak peace unto the storm and remind us of His love and promises to us.

My fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, let’s build and not tear down. Let’s encourage and not destroy. Let’s strive for a true meaningful RELATIONSHIP with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and stop focusing on the formalities and constraints of RELIGION. Strive to love like Jesus and apply His teaching to our everyday lives.

Your opinion may differ greatly from mine, and that’s okay. I still love you! God still loves you, and God still loves me. God knows each of our hearts. We all have different situations and circumstances in our lives that aren’t always evident to those around us. Let us not be so quick to pass judgement on others when we do not know their story.

Father God, I come to you right now and ask that you be with each and every one of us. Help our faith to be bigger than any fear that could present itself. Help us to lean on Your Word and to seek our wisdom and guidance from You. Help us to use good discernment and sound judgement when we are faced with decisions and may Your voice be louder than the chaos surrounding us. Father God, I pray for the safety of every individual and home and for you to pour out a healing and revival upon your people. I pray for all of our healthcare workers, government leaders, military and police officers who are placing themselves on the front lines of service so unselfishly. May we find our refuge and safety in You and You alone. Bless each home my Lord and calm the hearts and fears of your people.

While our circumstances aren’t ideal at the moment, we have so much to be thankful for. No matter what comes our way or what tomorrow may bring we know that we can be content in EVERY situation. Our hope is in you Lord!

 “ I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.  I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” PHILIPPIANS 4:13

 

Encouragement

Becoming A Woman Of The Word

Becoming Women of the Word

The world gives us a recipe for happiness using the following ingredients:

  • wealth
  • fame
  • status 
  • popularity 
  • approval
  • purpose
  • possessions

     Society tells us that in order for us to be truly happy, we need to achieve all of these things, or we otherwise will not experience a full, rewarding, and enjoyable life. We frequently base the value of our lives upon the accomplishments that we have checked off of our lists, how many commas appear in our savings account, and the square footage of our not-so-humble-abodes.  Social media has thrusted us into a constant game of comparison, which often times leaves us feeling defeated, discouraged, and disappointed.

We, as women, wives, and mothers fall victim to the comparison game all too often. We judge, critique, and scrutinize our appearances, career choices, family sizes, and lifestyle choices based on the thoughts and opinions of others. We allow people sitting on the other end of a computer screen to have more significance in our lives than what the Word of God says should hold true significance. What if we put as much emphasis on becoming who God called us to be instead of trying to become who the world says that we should be?

So, what does God really want for us? What does he actually expect from us as women? As wives? As mothers? What and who has He called us to be, and how do we even begin?

Grab your Bible off the table, open the app on your phone…and get in the Word.

Ask God to reveal His truths to you and to speak to your heart. Pray that He will give you wisdom and understanding and that you will be able to apply His Word to your life.

Focus on one thing at a time. Is this an area that you struggle in? What are some things you can do to help you start applying these principles to your life? Here’s a few places you might want to look to get your started:

  • Proverbs 31:10-31
  • Colossians 3:18
  • 1 Timothy 3:11
  • 1 Peter 3
  • 1 Timothy 2
  • Titus 2

It’s time that we start embracing the lives that we have been blessed with as women of God! You are cherished and loved by your Creator! His love for you is immeasurable and He has a work for you to do. He has placed a calling on your life and His Word will equip you for it. ❤️

 

 

 

Encouragement

The Real Reason I Hate You: A Letter To Fear

Dear Fear,

There once was a time that you had me bound; a time that you had immeasurable control over me. Your presence would feel almost constant. You showed up when I least expected you to make an appearance. You held me back. You stole my rest. You took my peace. You were a thief of my joy. You made me feel weak and vulnerable. You filled my mind with lies that I soon began to believe were truths. You robbed me of my passions and my dreams. You made me question myself and everyone around me. You left me feeling lost, alone, and forgotten. You made me feel uneasy and continually paranoid. You tried to strip me of my beliefs and convictions. You, fear, tried to destroy me. You held the power, and for so long, I was defenseless against it.

Of all the things you have said and done to me Fear, that’s still not the real reason that I hate you.  I hate you because YOU ARE NOT OF GOD. You are a tactic of the ENEMY that comes only to kill, steal, and destroy…my joy, my peace, my hopes, my dreams, my relationships… and my life.

For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” 2 TIMOTHY 1:7

     This… this is the real reason that I hate you! God has not given me a spirit of fear. He has given me a spirit of POWER, a spirit of LOVE, and a spirit of SOUND MIND.

I hope you remember well the day that you lost. The day that you, Fear, lost your hold on me! No longer was I bound by your chains! No longer was I enslaved to your control. I had been SET FREE!

And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” JOHN 8:32

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For too long, I allowed my FEAR to outweigh my FAITH. The more I read God’s Word, the more I started to realize the POWER that it contained. I had to make a choice. I had to let go of my fears and give them to God. I began speaking the Word of God over my life. I began verbally declaring God’s promises to myself! I wrote out the scriptures. I began spending more time in prayer. I read, studied, and began memorizing those scriptures. I began a journey of learning to WALK BY FAITH and not by my sight. No longer did I feel scared and alone for God was with me! He was fighting for me and I had nothing to be afraid of!

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Maybe you find yourself in a place that you feel fear has you bound as well. The enemy has you backed into the corner and you feel like throwing your hands up in defeat, BUT the Lord said that He would fight our battles…we need only to be still! EXODUS 14:14

Speak the WORD OF GOD! Lift your hands in PRAISE! Lift your hearts in PRAYER! It is through PRAYER and PRAISE that we fight our battles. Today, you can make that choice to remind your FEAR that your FAITH is bigger.

 

Encouragement

God, Where Are You?

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

God, where are You? Where are You when the waves of grief begin washing over me?  When I gasp for air to fill my burning lungs, and clutch at the tightness growing in my chest…where are You? Where are You when I beg for the pain to end? When I plead to wake up from this nightmare and for it all to have been a bad dream, where are You? Where are you when all I can see is the darkness and all I can hear is the silence? Where are you when the fear of the unknown creeps in and I’m too scared to even move. Where are you when I’m broken God? When I’m shattered into a million pieces? When I just want the hurt to go away?  God, are you there? Do you hear me?

I woke up a few nights ago from a terrible dream. A dream that made me relive one of the most difficult times of my life. A year and half after my second miscarriage and the pain still sears through my heart as if it were only yesterday. This dream…I saw it all again, I felt it all again, I experienced it all again. I woke up in a panic believing that it was real. The tears were streaming down my cheeks. My heart was racing and my mind was swirling with thoughts and emotions that I had buried.

I got up from my bed and stumbled through to our living room. I sat on the couch, wiping the tears from my cheeks, and trying to calm myself down. All of my children and my husband were sleeping. The house was so quiet (In a family of 8, quiet doesn’t happen very often) It was painfully quiet. Every time I tried to close my eyes, the images from the dream and all of the painful thoughts and memories were there.

I tossed and turned on the couch for several minutes. I prayed for God to comfort my heart and mind. “If I could only have a few minutes Lord, just a few minutes of peace! Please!”

As I sat there alone in my dark living room, I just wanted to be held. I just needed to be held. I wanted to be held and comforted, and told that everything was going to be alright, that is was only a dream and that it was all over. I walked back into our bedroom and gently grabbed my husband’s hand. He looked so peaceful while sleeping and I felt bad for waking him, but I needed him… I really needed him.  He could tell I was distressed and he asked if I was okay. All I could reply with was “Please, just hold me”.

He held my hand as we walked back into the living room and sat down on the couch. He wrapped his arms around me and held me so tight. There were no words exchanged…he just held me. His embrace said everything that I needed it to. His strong arms made me feel so safe. He leaned down and gently kissed me on the forehead while stroking my hair. He sat there and held me while I cried and poured my heart out to him. I soon fell back asleep in his arms.

The next morning started early, as usual, with the pitter patter of little one’s feet running through the house.  We went about our daily routine. Staying busy helped to keep my mind occupied and offered little opportunity for my mind to wander. While I was busy cleaning up from our breakfast, my 3 year old came running into the kitchen. “Momma, will you hold me? I want you to hold me”.

I scooped him up in my arms and walked over to our chair. His little arms wrapped around my neck as I held him close. As we sat there, I kissed his little cheeks. He reach up to rub his sleepy little eyes and then quickly nuzzled himself back into my chest. He felt so safe and secure wrapped up in my arms. I knew that feeling and how wonderful it felt. I didn’t have to say a word to this little guy for him to know how loved he was in that moment. I just held him.

It was then that God spoke to my heart and told me ” This is how I comfort you”.  How many times have I cried out to God in fear, pain or heartache and have been met with silence?  “God, are you here? Do you hear me? God, where are You?” In my brokenness I would feel so alone. Did God really even care about me or how I was feeling?

As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you;” ISAIAH 66:13

     So God, where are you? You’re here…You are right herewith me. It’s in the moments that are cries are met with perceived silence that we are being held. It’s not that God isn’t there or that He doesn’t care. He does…more than we could ever comprehend. God knows exactly what we need, and sometimes, we don’t need words…we just need to be held.

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God, today I pray for all of those that are hurting. I don’t know their circumstances Father, but I know that You do. I know that You see every tear that they cry and hear every single word…even those that are unspoken. Lord, I pray that You will hold them tightly in Your loving arms and speak peace into their hearts. Help them to cast their cares upon you Lord and to know that You care for them! Help them to rest in Your embrace and to stand on Your promises. Give them a renewed hope and song Lord! I thank you for what You are doing in their lives today Lord. I praise You for Your goodness, Your mercy, Your faithfulness, and Your unfailing love. I ask these things in Your son Jesus’s name. Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Encouragement

Be Kind…Always

That “lazy” man you just blasted on Facebook to all of your “friends” for offending you with his “stench of body odor” in the Walmart check out line on the first of the month just worked all day to put food on the table for his wife and children. He works hard and long hours to support his family, but they still live paycheck to paycheck. He doesn’t get paid again until next week and is unable to purchase more hygiene products until then. He chose his family’s need to eat over that of his own personal hygiene. Still think he’s lazy?

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That lady with the clothing that fits a little too tight that you just took pictures of on your new iPhone and posted to your social media accounts for a few good laughs just lost everything she owned in a house fire yesterday. She was gifted a small bag of clothes from her local church until she is able to afford more for herself. It’s not so funny now is it?

The young mom you just shamed in the parking lot while on the way to your car because her “spoiled brat” kid kept screaming and “throwing a tantrum” just left the doctor’s office where her child was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Your “I NEVER let my kids behave that way” and “If you would just bust his butt he wouldn’t act like that” comments only added to her fears of inadequacy as a mother. She needed some encouragement today, but instead only received your criticism.

Your Facebook post about the couple that paid for their buggy of groceries with a SNAP card made for a buzzing comment section. What you DIDN’T know however was that those “food stamp people” have never received prior assistance. They have both worked and “paid into the system” for their entire adult lives…until he got sick. The aggressive medical treatments made it impossible for him to continue working. After emptying their savings and retirement accounts, and liquidating all of their assets, the money finally ran out. The bills soon began piling up, and after months of mounting medical debt, travel expenditures, copays and insurance deductibles, with only one income now, they found themselves unable to purchase food.

She bravely walked through the doors and sat down on the pew right in front of you. You didn’t know her personally, but you had HEARD all about her. She had a reputation and a colorful one at that. You didn’t want to be the first one to go over and greet her. What would people think if you did that? Her promiscuous past was no secret. It was public knowledge and her reputation amongst the community and congregation sparked judgmental glances and whispers. Rumor had it she was pregnant now too. Yes, she had made some mistakes, but what you didn’t know was that at the age of 12, she was molested by her mother’s newest boyfriend. She began experimenting with drugs and alcohol, desperately seeking something to numb the pain that she was experiencing. She was removed from her mother’s home and placed into foster care, where the trauma she had previously endured was repeated over and over, year after year, by people she wanted so desperately to love and trust. She just wanted someone to love her; someone to protect her, and she had looked in all of the wrong places. She wanted to change her life and to give her baby the life that she never had. She wanted to know more about this Jesus that she had heard others talk so much about. Who was this Father to the Fatherless? Who was this man that loved her so much that He died so that she could be forgiven? Can you love her like Jesus does?

Everyone you meet is fighting a battle. Some of those battles are visible on the outside, while others are not. We can’t always see the entire picture. Be kind…always.

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Encouragement

We’ve Lost Our Joy In The Journey

road-mountains

We strategically pulled our passenger van out of the parking lot and into the long string of traffic that had developed on the roadway ahead of us. We had just finished watching fireworks with our kids for the 4th of July. Our little town had put on quite the firework display and the kids were still reveling in all of the excitement and were beyond excited for being allowed to stay up past bedtime.

Traffic was barely creeping forward and the roads were congested. We would slowly creep forward a few mere inches only to arrive at a complete standstill again. After several minutes of making no progress, many drivers were growing tired of the wait, and decided to turn around and try a different route. The idea started with only a few and then seemed to be catching on as more and more vehicles were attempting to turn around and find a different route so they wouldn’t have to wait for the traffic to clear.

One driver, attempting to make a quick turn about, underestimated the amount of turning space available between them and a cleverly concealed ditch line. Traffic began moving and cars were soon coming from both directions again. The sidewalks were still saturated with families venturing back to their vehicles. In a split second decision, the driver chose to continue towards the ditch in hopes of avoiding an accident with another vehicle or possibly even injuring bystanders.

The traffic in our lane, moving normally once again, soon reached an intersection. I quickly glanced back before pulling out from the stop sign to find that traffic was now halted again due to the road being blocked by the impatient driver’s car. I heard one of the kids ask from the back, “Geez, what was that guy in such a hurry for? He needs to have some patience!”

Why was he in such a hurry? Why was everyone in such a hurry? Why was I always in a hurry and constantly looking for the least time consuming option? Today, our lives are busy… really busy. We have become SO busy and focused on completing our tasks, achieving our goals, and pushing ourselves endlessly for “bigger and better” things, that we have in fact forgotten to enjoy the process of us actually getting there. We have lost the JOY in our JOURNEY.

When was the last time that you stopped to smell the roses (literally AND figuratively speaking)? We’re always in a hurry! We’re always rushing to our next appointment, critiquing our schedules for higher productivity options, creating routines and producing plans, rushing out our front doors for the latest practices and events…We have become so busy LIVING life, that we have forgotten how to LIVE life. We have become so focused on our tomorrows, that we have forgotten how to enjoy our todays.

“Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.” JAMES 4:14

     That scripture…wow! Our lives are but a vapor…that’s SO powerful! Don’t have time to play with your kids? MAKE THE TIME. Too busy to help someone that stands in need of it? MAKE THE TIME. Seem to never be able to have the time to pray or read God’s Word the way you would like to…MAKE THE TIME.

Take some time ( MAKE THE TIME if you need to) and evaluate what is really important to you. Then, ask yourself…is this going to matter an hour from now? Will it really matter tomorrow? How about next week? What about next year? If today was your last and you had no more tomorrows, would you regret any of your choices? Would you be satisfied with the choices that you made and the things that you deemed worthy to invest your time, effort, and attention in?

Lord, I just want to say thank you for blessing us with another day. I have taken your blessings for granted all too often, and for this I am truly sorry. Father God, I pray that you will help us to have hearts of gratitude that can see the beauty in all of Your works. I pray that You help us to make righteous choices and decisions concerning how we spend our time and what we invest our energy and attention in. Help us to stay focused on You and to be a light for You to others in our lives. Help us to have joy in our journeys Lord, and to truly embrace the lives that you have blessed us to have. Thank you for everything that you are doing in our lives today Father. I ask these things in Jesus name. Amen.

Encouragement

Can We Live In It And Not Be A Part Of It?

If you can make it through the night, there’s a brighter day.

     –Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” – ROMANS 12:2

“Women of God can never be like women of the world.

The world has enough women who are tough; we need women who are tender.

There are enough women who are coarse; we need women who are kind.

There are enough women who are rude; we need women who are refined.

We have enough women of fame and fortune; we need more women of faith.

We have enough greed; we need more goodness.

We have enough vanity; we need more virtue.

We have enough popularity; we need more purity.”

-Margaret D. Nadauld-

     Today, we as women have an unprecedented amount of pressure to fit in…our friends and families, co-workers, fellow church members, fellow students. Our flesh desires acceptance and inclusion, friendships, relationships, moments of significance, and a sense of importance and purpose. We yearn for the rush of emotions and good feelings that come along with praise or kind comments from others. We strive for invitations to social gatherings and crave attention from those that we care about. We all too easily begin developing a picture of our self worth and identity based off of what others think about us, or how well we are “perceived” or “liked” by those that we encounter in our daily lives. We often hesitate to make our true thoughts or opinions known for the fear or rejection, conflict, or lost relationships. (It’s NOT easy to go against the grain or march to the beat of your own drum sometimes friends.)

I have never been a part of the “in crowd” (and I’m still not), and I’ve never held rank in the latest friend clique…and THAT’S OKAY because I’M NOT SUPPOSED TO! As a Christian, I SHOULD be different. I shouldn’t “fit in” with everyone else (or want to for that matter). I shouldn’t always “go with the flow” just because it’s what everyone else is doing. My focus should be on JESUS, and it should stay on JESUS… not on the trivial things of this WORLD. 

     “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord …           2 CORINTHIANS 6:17

     Lord, in the midst of all of the noise and chaos of this world, help us to focus our hearts and minds on You. May we strive to live lives that will bring YOU honor and glory. Help us to proclaim Your Word proudly, and give us the courage to stand, even when we might have to stand alone. Remove jealousy, bitterness, or resentfulness towards others from our hearts. Help us to remember that You are there with us always, and that You love us unconditionally. Help us to love others with that same kind of love. Help us to be a light for You to others and to offer encouragement to those in need Father. Help us Lord to seek and find our identity in You and in who You say that we are…not in who the world defines us to be or tells us that we have to be. Help us to never lose sight of Your plan for us and to lean upon Your word and Your promises. I thank you for what you are doing in our lives today Father, and I ask these things in Jesus name. Amen. ❤

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Encouragement

Have A Little Humble Honey

Introducing

“I am NOT your maid!”

“Why should I have to clean this up AGAIN?”

“Nobody else in this house cares how hard I work around here!”

“Cleaning up messes is all I EVER get to do!”

     I woke up this morning exhausted from being up and down throughout the night with a sick little one. As I walked into the kitchen to start a pot of coffee, tears began to fill my eyes while glancing upon the countertop covered in yesterday’s dirty dishes. The trash bags that should have been carried out yesterday sitting untouched in the middle of the floor just added insult to injury. The kids began filtering in and I was met with a whirlwind of requests.

“I’m hungry mom.”

“Can you open this for me?”

“Mooooommmm, we’re out of toilet paper again!”

“Milk mama! Milk. My milk! Mama!”

“Mom, where’s my underwear?”

     I took a couple of deep breaths and begrudgingly started filling up sippy cups with milk, retrieving rolls of toilet paper from the cabinet, and scouring through the ever growing mound of clothes that has been sitting in my living room chair for over a week for the missing pair of undies. Little ones running through the house, noise and stress levels increasing… I was tired and already feeling defeated and my day had only just begun.

I’ve been in such a slump lately. I’ve struggled for the motivation to even keep up with the basic housework let alone more extensive cleaning or responsibilities. My lack of concerted effort has become apparent in the amount of chaos and clutter that has accumulated over the past several weeks in our home. I have reach an entirely new level of “Burn Out”. My inner monologue has resounded with the following statement…”There’s just not enough of me to be able to keep up with everything and everyone. It’s just too much!”

I mustered up the courage to begin tackling some of the mess and meandered towards the kids’ bedrooms. The sheer magnitude of the mess was just overwhelming, and I instantly started to feel angry. I could feel a deep-seated anger rising up and a surge of pride began to overtake my thoughts.

“I am NOT your maid!”

“Why should I have to clean this up AGAIN?”

“Nobody else in this house cares how hard I work around here!”

“Cleaning up messes is all I EVER get to do!”

     All of these thoughts began streaming through my mind and soon began making their way to my mouth. I felt exasperated and almost resentful( that’s hard for me to write) towards my family for the amount of work and effort that it was going to take for me to get our house clean, organized, and within comfortable station again. My tears could no longer be contained. They burst forward in the waves of indignation that flooded over me.

It was then that the Holy Spirit brought me to remembrance. PRIDE…in every statement that I sullenly thought and spoke, my focus was on one thing. ME. Me, myself and I. “I am not your maid”, “Why should I have to clean this up again?” My prideful heart and thoughts had led me here. My lack of humility had caused me to lose sight of what God had called me to do. My pride had not only snuffed out my desire for cultivating a servant’s heart, but had also stolen my ability to serve others with the right motivations and intentions. My selfishness had overtaken selflessness.

 For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves.” LUKE 22:27

I began looking through scriptures and praying for God to help me. I felt so overwhelmed and guilty for the hardness that had developed in my heart. From the next room, I heard my 3 year old singing to top of his little lungs “Jesus loves me this I know for the Bible tells me so. Little ones to Him belong. They are weak, but He is strong.” Hearing his little voice singing praises blessed my heart. I am weak Lord, but YOU are strong. This scripture came upon my heart…

 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 CORINTHIANS 12:9-11

Empty me of myself Lord so that I can be filled with you! I want to love and serve my husband and children with a humble heart! I want to love and serve others like Jesus did! How can I cultivate a servant’s heart within my children if I am not displaying a heart of loving servitude myself? Jesus loved and served so selflessly! He was never constrained by a to-do lists or a lack of time. Jesus never placed himself above any task, big or small. By following his example, we can only then truly learn the meaning of love and humility.

We can teach our children to lead by teaching them to serve. I know that we can accomplish tasks much faster by just going ahead and doing them ourselves momma, but we have the opportunity to teach our children to serve! It is our job to not only teach them valuable skills that they will use throughout their lifetime, but to help guide their hearts towards Jesus while doing so.

    “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus” PHILIPPIANS 2:3-5

Lord, today I pray that you will help me to love and serve my family with a humble heart. Help me to see all of the opportunities within my marriage and motherhood that I can glorify you. Help me to love and serve others as Jesus did. Help me to view the loads of laundry and dirty dishes as blessings instead of burdens. Empty me of myself Lord, so that I may be filled with more of You! Thank you for all of the blessings that you have bestowed upon me, and help me to never lose sight of what you have called me to do. Amen.

Encouragement

Oceans of Grief and Islands of Grace

Your life for the most part has been smooth sailing. Sure, you’ve encountered your fair share of choppy waters, but you have bravely mustered through while maintaining your composure. The storms, though fierce, have always quickly dwindled. The waves swiftly settled, the winds ceased in blowing, the clouds began parting, and they soon gave way to the sunshine again. After basking in the warmth and glow of the sun for a season, you never imagined that a storm of such magnitude could materialize so abruptly. You never even saw it coming. You had no time to prepare for this, and this is not what you had envisioned. You feel lost and helpless against it.

The realization that you have now lost all control of your situation hits hard, and you soon find yourself capsized in the middle of a bottomless ocean. You feel the fear and panic slowly creep up into your throat. You cry out for help, but are met in return by only the sound of the crashing waves around you. The waves have repeatedly pulled you under, and as you fight to surface, you gasp for your next breath, which is barely enough to fill your lungs. The current is becoming stronger and stronger, and your energy is rapidly depleting. The waves have tossed you back and forth endlessly, and every muscle in your body aches and burns from your futile exertion to swim to safety. You’re exhausted and cannot fight the strength of the water anymore. It’s over. Just as you feel yourself giving up and letting go, you see it.

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A small beam of light catches the corner of your eye. You quickly become fixated on this unknown light source, and feel a small glimmer of hope flare within your spirit. This beam begins shining… brighter and brighter. You consciously decide to stop fighting the current, and feel your body being swept by the waves toward this light. As you draw closer, the light begins to reveal itself. It’s a lighthouse.

The light, almost blinding by this point, illuminates your path as you exhaustedly thrust yourself upon the safety of the small sand bank. You climb the shelves of jagged rocks finally reaching an elevation of safety that the water can no longer reach. In the presence of this beaming light, the storm continues to rage around you, but you are safe. SAFE ON THE ROCK. You draw a full breath of oxygen deep into your burning lungs, and begin to cry… RELEASE. It’s in this surrender that an unexplainable peace begins to flood over you. You are being held. This battle is not yours to fight. You are not alone. He is going to carry you through this storm…

We mistakenly exhaust ourselves, fighting the current, and attempting to hold onto all of the scattered pieces of our lives when all we have to do is surrender it entirely to God. He alone is our place of safety. He is our refuge from the storm. He is our rock, our fortress, and our deliverer. In the midst of our darkest storms, his light continues to shine…guiding us, leading us, encouraging us, and comforting us. God IS the light and in Him is NO darkness! His grace will meet you right where you are my friend. His arms will never tire of holding you up, and when your strength fails, He is right there to carry you.

I don’t know the storm you might be facing today, but I know that God does. When those tears begin to flow, don’t fight them. Let them fall. Release your pain to Him. Only He can calm your heart and give you peace. God knows your sorrows, and He hears your cries my friend. This storm is not going to last forever. Continue to stand in the warmth of His love… the sun will come back out. When you feel yourself sinking and the water starts closing in, simply stretch forth your hand. Your lifeguard, He’s there…and He walks on the water. 

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Encouragement

I’m Gonna Tell You That I Love You

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Loss… it has a way of making you appreciate what you once had. It makes you see things from a different perspective and brings revelation to the value of what has been lost.

I awoke to read words that tore through my heart this morning. We lost a beloved member of our church family in a tragic accident last night. I couldn’t control the tears as they streamed down my face while calling out for my husband, informing him of this terrible news. We are all just devastated, numb, and in disbelief.

Times of loss often leave us feeling helpless. There are no words that we can say to ease the pain of those suffering. There is no act of kindness that we could perform that can remove the sting left by death.

Loss reminds us of just how fragile life is. It reminds us that we were never promised our next breath and that each moment that we have been given is a gift. Loss reminds us of how much we unknowingly take for granted, and just how much of a void will be left now that they are no longer here with us.

Brother Jess met us every Sunday morning as we walked through our church door. Every time we saw him, he had the warmest hugs and the biggest smile to share with us. Brother Jess prayed for us. He taught us. He loved us… and he never left without letting you know it.

I wrapped my arms around Brother Jess yesterday afternoon and told him that I loved him before walking out the door. I never expected that it would have been the last time that I would ever see him. I never imagined that it would be the last time that I would get to see his smile, to hug him tight, or tell him that I loved him. “Love you sis”… the last words Brother Jess ever said to me… and they will forever live in my heart.

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Loss reminds me of the person that I want to be… that person that is going to tell you “I love you” every time I see you, and at the end of every message and telephone call. The person that is gonna wrap my arms around you and squeeze you tight even though we may have only met. You might look at me like I’m crazy, but that’s okay… because I still love you. You don’t have to feel like you need to say it back or even reciprocate it… but I just want you to know that I love you. Jesus told us to love… and to love like Him. Love has become an almost taboo subject in our society today, but loving others is one of our greatest commandments! Loving others is what we have been called to do! Jesus didn’t just love the select few… He loved all.  He didn’t only love sometimes or just whenever He felt like it, but He loved at all times, and today we love, because He first loved us.

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Brother Jess inspired so many of us with his teachings and with the genuine love that he held for everyone. The testimony of his faith will live on. The lives that he has impacted, will forever be changed. His love and heart for people made a difference in this world.

Loss reminds us to place value and importance on every single person in our life. Their role might be big or it might be small. These people may be integral parts for our entire lifetime or they might only be there for a short season. Regardless, we love.

If today were the last day you would ever see a person, would that person know that you cared for them? Never shy away from showing God’s love to others my friends. Our time here is so short, and we have so much love to give.