Relax, Reflect, Recharge

The Longing in Me

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Today is filled with lots of emotion…as a nation, we honor those who were lost on 9-11.  We continue to struggle with the evil that plaques our nation.  We mourn for those lost and honor those whose lives have forever been changed.  On a personal basis, this is a day of tear.  It has been 5 years since my Aunt Edythe became a Weston angel.  For I know she is in a better place, yet for those left behind, the struggle is real.

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Thank you to SHEILA WALSH and Encouragement for Today for today’s post:

It was a moment I had prayed for and yet, honestly, it was a moment I dreaded too. My husband, Barry, and I have only one child, a son named Christian, and it was finally time to let go.

Christian had been accepted into a college only a 3-hour drive from our home. That made this mom’s heart rest easier … a little!

We’d been collecting things all summer long.

Bedding.

A shower curtain and towels.

A coffee maker.

“You don’t drink coffee,” I said.

“I think I’ll start now,” was his response.

The list got longer and longer and the piles around the house got higher and higher.

When I woke up the morning of his move I prayed the words of a Psalm that I pray every single day, “Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love …” (Psalm 143:8a). I paused there to let the weight of those words fill me. What a promise! God’s love will never fail.

On days when I feel strong, His love is with me and on days when I feel vulnerable and weak, His love is with me.

“Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love for I have put my trust in you.” I reminded my soul that this is a choice. I choose to place my trust in God when my heart wavers. I choose to trust God with my son’s life just as I choose to trust Him with my own.

“Okay, Lord. Let’s do this!”

We arrived at the school about the same time as half of the state of Texas, or so it seemed. Christian checked in at student housing and got his key. He’d be sharing a two-bedroom unit with his best friend, Brendan. That made my husband, Barry, and me very happy, as we love Brendan like another son.

Let me pause here to say, August in Texas is really not the month you want to carry boxes up three flights of stairs. Halfway through my fourth trip I flopped down on the stairs and announced to anyone who was listening, “I’m too old for this!”

By sunset we had most things in place. Barry and I were staying for the night in a local hotel so we left the boys in peace to enjoy their first night as college freshmen. We grabbed a quick dinner in a local diner and then flopped into bed.

“Do you think he’s ready for this?” Barry asked. “Did we do enough to prepare him?”

“I don’t know,” I replied. “But I do know he loves God, and even more than that, I know God loves him more than you and I ever could … I’m just wondering though, do you think he’ll ever remember to change his sheets?”

The following day we stocked their refrigerator, vacuumed the rooms and took the trash and empty boxes to the dumpster. Then it was time to leave. I asked the boys if we could pray over them and their new home. I shared my morning verse, my daily prayer and reminded them that when you trust your life to Christ, He’ll direct your steps.

Christian walked us out to the car. He hugged his dad and me and said, “Thank you! Thank you for loving me. Thank you for making this possible.” Then he turned and walked into all that God had for him his freshman year. I cried all the way home. Can you cry for three solid hours? Why, yes you can!

Life seems to be full of moments that ask us to let go when we long to hold on.

I don’t know what you face right now, what season of life you’re in, but my prayer for you is simple and from the heart. May you know the comfort and strength of the One whose love will never fail you, and whose mercies are new every single morning!

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Relax, Reflect, Recharge

A Truth That Will Change Your Life

God-is-Faithful-608x456Thank you Gwen Smith for today’s message..

Nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. ~ Romans 8:39b, NLT

One blessing of being in women’s ministry is the friendships I have with other women in ministry. We are our own little band of sisters. Sisters with a mission! We cheer for one another, cry with one another, laugh with one another, pray for one another, and rejoice with one another.

One sister I’ve had the opportunity to lock arms with for the journey is named Renee. Renee works for an international women’s ministry and is a talented God-fearing, Bible-teaching speaker and writer.

Several years ago, Renee traveled across the country to speak at a women’s retreat. When she got there, a few unexpected circumstances caused her to send out an “SOS, pray-for-me-now” email to her ministry sisters.

I got the email and hit my knees.

Early the next week, Renee sent us an email thanking us for praying and telling us what God did in the hearts of women at that retreat. She told us that she spoke about the lies that we believe as women and told personal and biblical stories that illuminated God’s truth. Then, at the final session, Renee asked the women to consider what they believed to be true about themselves.

Her challenge went something like this: “When you settle your soul long enough to simply be still—when you pause to listen to your heart—what do you hear? Are there lies that linger in your heart knowingly or unknowingly?”

She encouraged them to write down on a note card the lies they had accepted as truth, whether lies spoken by a parent, kids in the schoolyard, a friend, a family member, a spouse, a child, a pastor, or a stranger. She told them that some of the lies might never have been spoken at all, just believed.

When they finished she invited them to bring the cards to a wooden cross at the front of the room. Next to the cross she had placed baskets filled with promises from God’s Word, and after each woman nailed her card to the cross, she picked up a truth that would replace her lies.

Tears ran down cheek after cheek as the women brought their lies to the cross and embraced God’s life-changing Words. Guilt was forgiven and sorrows were traded for joy that day. Then a beautiful celebration went down. God, through his Holy Spirit, revealed His heart to those sweet women and shattered the lies of the enemy.

After the retreat was over, Renee looked through the cards that had been nailed to the cross. One card jumped out at her. Written over and over was one word: Worthless!

The woman who wrote that wasn’t the only one at that retreat who felt that way. That same word—worthless—was penned on many of the cards that weekend. It represents a lie that has been believed by most every woman at some point in her life. There have been days, weeks, and months that I’ve believed it myself.

It’s one of Satan’s favorite words to throw at us, and it is a big, fat, ugly LIE.

The Bible clearly shows us that we are valued in the sight of the Lord. When we allow God’s Word to flood our lives with truth we are changed by the height, the depth, and the width of His love for us.

“Take in with all Christians the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God”(Ephesians 3:18–19, MSG).

God loves you with a personal love.

He knows your name.

He considers you highly valuable.

He adores you.

No matter what you’ve believed in the past, choose by faith today to believe this one truth: you are perfectly loved by God.

Relax, Reflect, Recharge

Finding Your Financial Voice

 

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“We don’t have a budget, we have credit card debt and we don’t know what to do.”

I could tell the words were painful to share as this smart, hardworking couple awaited my response. I quickly cut the tension: “First, don’t feel alone — you’re not the only ones who’ve ever made these mistakes. Second, you both have the ability to deal with this. And third, it’s going to be okay.”

I could see their relief. Their troubled voices had been working their way to the surface for a long time. Why did they wait so long to share their concerns?

The answer is easy. Most of us who struggle with money troubles keep it to ourselves. We can feel prideful, embarrassed and worried, and so we keep quiet. But these lies can keep us trapped in the snares of our own silence.

Like this couple, somewhere on our life journeys, we began to keep financial troubles to ourselves. But when we internalize the confusion around our common money troubles, it can quickly become a barrier to God’s plans for us to live in freedom. Yet God’s voice remains so very clear. He tells us to listen, surrender, obey, trust, serve, love and pray and He’ll take care of the rest.

We know that to be true, but in our silence we can forget God’s promises. And the enemy’s job becomes much too easy as our silence provides a clear shot at our unprotected heart and mind. This is not what God intended.

As we learn to live for free, we must find our own financial voice. And once we’ve found our voice, Jesus gives us direction on what to do next. In Matthew 18:19, He said, “… truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven.”

God does not want our money to be a barrier in our relationships with each other, or with Him. Rather than staying silent, allowing worrisome and false thoughts to take root, we need to pray and plan and partner together before, during and after our money troubles. If we never speak up to each other, how can we agree?

We need to speak up sooner and louder. We need to talk with each other about our money troubles. No more will we let our financial silence inhibit our heart’s desire to love and serve God, our spouse, our family and our neighbors. Let’s raise our surrendered voices so God can calm our troubled hearts.

Right now, ask God to help you find your financial voice — with your spouse, your friend, your pastor or your advisor. Refuse to be quiet. Raise your voice. Speaking our financial troubles out loud begins to frees us. God wants to help you find your financial voice. And He promises that when you ask for anything in His name, it will be done. Find your financial voice. Your Father in heaven is listening.

Lord, You gave me a voice to speak to You and to others. So why is it so difficult to speak about my money troubles? I sometimes feel embarrassed or ashamed of my financial choices. Everyone seems to have it all together. Lord, hear me and help me find my voice. Help me raise my voice to heaven in surrender and repentance so I may use the money You give me as tool to bring You glory. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Thank you JOHN H. PUTNAM and Encouragement for Today.

 

Relax, Reflect, Recharge

Does Anyone Appreciate All I Do?  

Thank you Proverbs31 and GLYNNIS WHITWER for today’s blog.

“But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” Matthew 6:6 (NIV)

After finishing a big project at work, I was pretty proud of myself. Although most of my part had been behind the scenes, I hoped someone had noticed. The next few days, I checked and rechecked my emails and texts, waiting for an “atta girl” or “well done” message. But none came.

While I was slightly disappointed, I didn’t make a big deal of it … that was until another person in the organization completed one small task as part of my bigger project and was praised effusively.

Although I joined my thanks in the responses, my heart became very sad when my name wasn’t mentioned.

The lack of notice hurt more than it should have. And over the next few weeks, my feelings got hurt with increased intensity, and I began to wonder if anyone appreciated all I do for them. It started at work but spread to home.

When my kids left shoes in the living room I’d just picked up, or my husband didn’t say thank you for dinner, the hurt grew.

When I finally broke down in tears one afternoon, I realized something had gotten mixed up. Why did my heart get bent out of shape when I didn’t get the praise and acknowledgement I thought I deserved?

As I took some time to think this through, it seemed like somewhere over the previous months, my desire to serve my Savior was overshadowed by a desire for approval from others.

Jesus taught on this very topic in Matthew 5 and 6. He gathered His disciples for a lesson on life in His Kingdom, which was radically different from the dusty streets of Galilee they knew. In this world, we do look to others for approval. But it’s very different in the Kingdom of God.

Jesus wanted His disciples to understand an important truth: God is always watching. Whether our work is on a public stage or done in the quietness of our homes, God sees. And when we do things with a heart to serve Him, He rewards us with His pleasure.

However, when we work with impure motives or just to gain others’ approval, that is our reward … temporary and superficial.

It seems our heart motive makes the difference. Jesus cut right to the core issue in Matthew 6:1: “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven” (NIV).

The Jews were all about parading their righteousness in public hoping to be noticed, including praying with great spectacle. Jesus addressed that specific issue in our key verse, “But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you” (Matthew 6:6).

Jesus wasn’t saying don’t ever pray out loud; He was giving us the key to break our desperate need for approval. According to Jesus, we receive God’s approval in the secret places, when no one else knows what we’ve done.

As I looked back over that time when my feelings were hurt consistently, I realized I hadn’t spent much time in secret places with God. I hadn’t sought His approval.

I managed to read a few Bible verses before bed and whisper a few prayers during the day. But the truth was I’d neglected time with my Heavenly Father. I’d exchanged His whispers of approval for the inconsistent and fulfilling approval from people.

I needed to get alone with God, quiet the world’s feedback, so I could hear His voice.

And when I did, I realized that one word of approval from God is worth more than a hundred “atta-girl” comments.

The next time disappointment creeps up when I’m overlooked, or I think, “Why not me?” — I’ll see it as a little warning. It’s my reminder to go back to that secret place. To spend time with God alone.

That’s where I’ll get the acceptance my heart really wants.

 

Relax, Reflect, Recharge

When My Happy Gets Bumped

Today’s message is from Encouragement for Today and Lysa TerKeurst

“Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Ephesians 6:11-12 (NIV)

Most days, I wake up fairly happy. It’s not like I wake up in the mood for a party, but generally I’m not grumpy when I arise. I wake up and things seem pretty good, level and fresh with possibilities. But then inevitably something — or someone — will bump into my happy.

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An early morning meltdown by one of my people.

Or a difficult email that makes my heart sink.

Or me underestimating my time and suddenly everything is rushed, hurried and stressful.

Or my husband, Art, lowering the thermostat in the house to 68 degrees and I can’t stop shivering until the temperature hovers closer to 72. It’s amazing how much difference four degrees makes.

Things happen. Things that bump into my happy. And suddenly I’m a little off-kilter and a little less nice.

Can you relate?

Well, I’m learning something about a little mental perspective I need to have when things bump into my happy. In that moment, Satan is scheming to have me help him out. If he can just get me jostled to the point where I react out of anger, it’s like lighting a spark near a puddle of gasoline.

Even the smallest spark can ignite quite a fire. A fire that can spread and feel much bigger than what the situation ever should have been.

Take the temperature situation, for example.

It should be just a simple discussion about the thermostat. But, add a little anger and suddenly things in my brain escalate to the point where I’ve just about convinced myself Art is completely insensitive and couldn’t care less about me.

Is that true? Of course not. He just likes to sit in his house without sweating. Surely, we could find a compromise with the temperature or I could go put on some socks and a sweatshirt.

Instead, when he bumps into my happy, a “growth opportunity” ensues that leaves us both feeling a little burned.

In other words, I play right into Satan’s scheme and help him out. Remember, Satan’s plan is to cause separation. Be it a temperature issue, tight finances, a misunderstood statement or one of the millions of little things that can bump into our happy … we have a choice.

We can choose to play into Satan’s schemes and enable his attempts to separate us from God’s best. Or, we can choose to fight for our relationships and against Satan’s divisive attempts. When I think about it in these terms, it helps me identify the real enemy.

My real enemy isn’t any of the people who bump my happy. My real enemy is the one who tries with all his might to get me to jump into a grumpy mood and help him tear down all that I love.

Knowing I need a strategy against these attacks, I turn to the wisdom found in Ephesians 6:11, “Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.”

You better back up and back off, Satan. I’m onto your schemes. You are the real enemy, not my people. And now I have a totally new game plan for when my happy gets bumped.

Starting with finding just the right pair of socks and a sweatshirt to wear in the ice cave.