Sunday, February 27, 2011
I am teaching two break-out sessions for my church's upcoming women's retreat, and it is only a little over a month away. I feel like I really need to get started on those lessons, so they will be getting my free time this week. As a mother of little ones, I have to pick and choose what to do with any free time I can find. Can any momma relate?
I did want to share something that happened on Saturday though. I was cleaning my sister's office in Montgomery Saturday morning, a little job I do once a month. I was by myself in this office building...just me and my ipod full of great contemporary Christian music. I had just downloaded some new music and was excited to listen to Mandisa's latest album. I had heard that it was really good. Anyway, the album is awesome...all of it.....good stuff. When I got to the song titled "Not Guilty", I was absolutely undone. I mean I was overcome with emotion in a way that I am not sure I can explain. Over half way through the song, I had to stop vacuuming and I got on my knees and praised God for saving me. I was weeping, confessing sin, and thanking Him for knowing me, for loving me, and for saving me, especially when I am so unworthy. I mean, I cried an ugly cry y'all, the kind where you cry all your make-up off. It felt good...like a purging of the soul. I listened to the same song over and over again for close to an hour.
I have thought a lot about that moment since Saturday morning, and I wish I could stay in that place of thankfulness, every second of every day. It is just too easy to forget what Jesus did on the cross for me. I get wrapped up in my "self" and take for granted the ENORMOUS sacrifice that was made on my behalf.
"Not Guilty" was the most powerful song I have heard in a long time, and I wanted to share it with you today. I realize that we are all at different places and something might hit me so much different than it hits you. But maybe you will be as blessed as I was. I want to encourage you to take 4 minutes out of your day and listen to a song that tells what will happen to the REDEEMED on judgement day....and a judgement day is coming. I hope you know that and I pray that you know HIM. Nothing else really matters.
To listen to the song click HERE. And if it doesn't play....someone please let me know and I will try to correct it.
To my EMBC people...as I was listening to this song, I thought about Teri Hattfield. She has just the right amount of soul to sing this for our church. I love to hear her sing, and I am going to share this song with her. I hope she sings it!
I will post an entry this week with my scripture memory verse for March 1st.
Friday, February 25, 2011
Anyway, yesterday I found a few more interesting thoughts that I thought I would share.
James 3:7-12 talks about the fact that every single animal in the wild can be tamed but the tongue can not be tamed. It is a restless evil, full of poison, just like a venomous snake. From the same mouth I can bless my Father in heaven and then turn around and curse my fellow man. Yes, James...you are so right. These things should not be. My speech, which flows from my heart should be consistently good, just as a fig tree will only produce figs or a fresh water source will not produce salt water.
I guess I honestly don't ever think of my tongue as being a "restless" evil. I mean who thinks that kind of thought on a daily basis. But, yet I know it is. I know in a moment's notice, I can go from happy and carefree to spewing venom just as a poisonous snake would. It would be easy to read vs. 8 that says "the tongue can never be tamed" and shut the Bible, thinking that that gives me permission to not even try. Unfortunately, I don't think that is my free card to use sarcasm whenever I would like.
I have to invite the Holy Spirit into my daily journey every single day through prayer. Two great verses to pray are Psalm 141:3 and Psalm 19:14.
Psalm 141:3 says "Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips."
Psalm 19:14 says "Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer."
I have read these verses before, but they spoke to me more than ever after studying the tongue for an entire week. These verses need to be on my refrigerator so I will see them throughout the day. I need to be reminded often. Blame it on my crazy female hormones!
One of my commentaries said that all speech....ALL SPEECH...should pass a threefold test: Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary? Oh goodness...
The more I study God's Word the more I see how far I have to go!
And this little beauty has nothing to do with my James study. I just love this little face and couldn't resist sharing these photos from our little playground session on Wednesday. We enjoyed some "Mommy and Gracen" time while Reagan was in school.
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Satan's main job is to kill, steal, and destroy. He wants to divide and tear apart my home and the important relationships in my life. Just a few little words spoken in frustration, spoken from exhaustion, spoken in sarcasm, or spoken in just plain anger can hurt and leave scars that can never be erased.
The study has really convicted me of the power of my words. Don't we all take for granted the freedom that we have with our mouths. Words just roll right out of my mouth without much thought to the aftermath that might be left behind.
I realized during this study that I am much more guarded in public settings than I am right here in my home. Motherhood is tough. It is exhausting. It is a never ending job with no time off and no vacation days. I have days when I wake up and I just don't want to do it "today". Just as the paid employee looks forward to the weekend, I look forward to that day off. But yet that day never comes. My selfishness and my pure exhaustion can develop into negativity and sarcasm quickly. Instead of focusing on all the blessings in my life, I start to focus on the perceived negative aspects.
I know the power of my words. I know that I set the temperature in my home. I know that every single day I model Christ to my girls through my actions and my words. Starting today I want to do a better job of stopping the words as thoughts only. I cannot tell you how many times I think a sarcastic thought in response to something Reagan has done or said. She is five and simply does the most annoying things at times. She doesn't "get" sarcasm though. She just knows that Momma is irritated with her.
On a daily basis I have to set a guard over my mouth. I cannot let Satan have control....and he will take control if I let him. Words start as thoughts and 2 Corinthians 10:5 says that I have to take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ. That is easier said than done because words slip out so fast. This will probably be my next memory verse for March 1st because it is something that I need to be mindful of every single day.
My friend Dana Roten and I are emailing each other every morning and sharing our quiet times with one other. She shared two thoughts about the tongue that I wrote down because I wanted to remember them.
1. Words are like toothpaste. Just as toothpaste cannot be put back in the tube once it has been squeezed out; neither can words be taken back. (Like I said, I can easily apologize but the scars remain.)
2. The tongue is "YOU" in a unique way; a tattletale that tells on the heart and reveals the real person. (Ouch!)
Until next time...
Monday, February 21, 2011
Anyway, Gene and I took Reagan and Gracen to the zoo a few days ago and I thought I would share a few pictures. We got there at 10:30 in the morning and ended up staying until around 2:00. We had such a great time.
Here is Gene and the girls getting ready to ride the train.
Thursday, February 17, 2011
The other night Gene and I were watching the movie Wallstreet: Money Never Sleeps, with Michael Douglas, who has really aged by the way. It is about businessmen who work on Wallstreet and whose single life pursuit is to watch the market to make more and more money. In a single day the market could change causing them to gain millions or lose millions. The loss could lead to suicide or a destroyed life. I don't know if you have seen the movie or not, but I was struck with the same thought throughout the entire two hours. I shared the thought with Gene at the end of the movie and he said that he was thinking the exact same thing. The thought was this...the pursuit of money is so fleeting and so empty. The Wallstreet moguls pursued money every single day from early morning all the way to bedtime. It consumed them. It was a constant chase to earn more and more. Even on the days when millions were earned through the market and through huge bonuses, these men were never satisfied. They wanted more and more and they were never truly happy, never content or joy-filled. I know it was just a movie, but they say that money makes the world go 'round, right.
It made me so thankful that my life is dedicated to pursuing something that is real and meaningful. It gave me such confidence that I am pursuing the REAL DEAL as I pursue Jesus Christ. I was led to thank God for calling us into ministry. Our days are about pursuing Him and pointing others to do the same. What a blessing!
Have you ever watched a movie that disturbed you or made you so thankful that you were saved? Just curious?
Well, I just wanted to share a quick thought. We are headed to the zoo on this beautiful Thursday.
Until next time...
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
Friday, February 11, 2011
Tonight we are having a family movie night complete with the air mattress, popcorn, and sprite. After the girls go to bed, Gene and I rented a movie that we are going to watch by ourselves.... I know, exciting stuff.
In my last entry I wrote about how important it is to pray for your children and I asked for people to share additional things that they pray for their children. I wanted to pass on a few of those to you...
- that my daughters will have an amazing bond of friendship that will last a lifetime
- that both girls will value their purity and protect it until marriage
- that I will have a close relationship with both girls....you know, moms and daughters tend to argue...I sure would love to have that "open door" relationship where the girls feel comfortable telling me anything
Those are some great additions to my prayer list.
As far as my personal quiet time, I have spent this last week studying James 1:26-2:13. As I conclude 4 weeks in this book, I can say with all honesty that James is really tough to study because it has made me question myself and my love for Christ based on "fruit" that is in my life....or maybe I should say lack of fruit.
See if these first two verses smack you in the face as they did me...
James 1:26-27 "If anyone THINKS himself to be religious and DOES NOT bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man's religion is WORTHLESS. PURE and UNDEFILED religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit ORPHANS and WIDOWS in their distress, and to keep oneself UNSTAINED by the world."
Useless religion...saying whatever I want with my unbridled tongue, doing nothing for orphans and widows, and remaining in a state of unconfessed sin
Pure religion...using self control with my bridled tongue, showing mercy and compassion for the orphans and the widows (those less fortunate), and confessing sin in my life
This verse describes the Christian life. How I am measuring up in light of Scripture? Not nearly as well as I could be.
God has been convicting both of us of this fact. We certainly have to take care of the needs of our own family, but God has supplied more than enough for us to do that while still meeting the needs of others. Too often though, we close our eyes to the needs of others and buy one more material thing for "us".
In January, we were throwing around the idea of getting a new car for me. When I say new, I mean used, but new to me. Both of our vehicles have well over 100,000 miles on them. Mine is 8 years old and Gene's truck is 10 years old. We haven't had a car payment in over 5 years. We realize that they aren't going to last forever. But, the more I thought about it, I just couldn't get a peace about it. My vehicle still gets me from A to B. It serves its purpose for today. Yes, we are extremely cramped into my little Escape when we head out for vacation, but that is only once a year. We could absolutely afford the payment because we have no other debt but our home, but something inside of me just didn't feel good about it. It just isn't time.
I think too many Christians tie up every single dollar in car payments, house payments, and just revolving debt and then say they cannot give to the poor. And they are right...in that state, they cannot give to the poor. Gene and I are trying to be more sensitive to the needs around us locally and abroad and we want to have the funds available when God prompts our hearts to help someone in need.
I don't think I will ever understand Christians who live in the biggest houses and drive the nicest cars. There is just too much need in the world for that. After studying James for the last three weeks, especially this past week, I know that I am going to have to give an account not only for my words and actions, but also for what I do with my money.
Just think what would happen if every American Christian would sponsor a child through Compassion International. Surely most could carve $38.00 out of their monthly budget. We would put a huge dent into world poverty and that is exactly what God expects us to do. Sadly, for most that $38.00 will be spent on one more dinner out.
Wednesday, February 9, 2011
One man was introduced to Satanism by "friends" in his early high school years, and even though the mother and older sister saw disturbing things and disturbing changes in his personality they didn't really take action to change the situation. They said he was just "dabbling" in it. One man was introduced to drugs in Jr. High by the wrong group of friends. One man got involved in a gang in his early life and based his poor decisions on their expectations.
A verse comes to mind as I think about these stories...1 Corinthians 15:33 "Do not be deceived: Bad company corrupts good morals." That is so true!
It is so easy to look at criminals and just be disgusted, but they each started out as a sweet, innocent child with a world full of potential, just as my girls have today. These stories make me look at my children and just wonder about their futures, their friends, and their decisions.
I do not want to just wonder though, I want to turn this over to God in prayer. I pray for my girls daily, but usually my prayers focus on the here and now, issues we are dealing with, sickness, etc I always pray for their salvation, which is a future event, but hearing these stories reminded me that I need to be covering so much more in prayer. If I don't pray for them, who will?
Here are a few prayer requests that I will be adding to my prayer list and you might consider adding them to yours as well....
- that they will be caught when they sin
- that God will provide godly friends and protect them from the wrong ones
- that they will have obedient hearts
- that they will have godly teachers and positive mentors in their lives
- that they will truly love God and will not stray from His path
- that they will be some of the most godly girls in their circle of influence
- that God will provide a godly husband and protect them from the wrong one
I would love to hear some of the things that you are praying for your children in the comment section. It just might be something that I haven't thought about.
Prayer is such a powerful weapon. It is one that we have been given to fight the enemy of our souls. And we do have an enemy...an enemy whose sole purpose is to destroy us and to destroy our families. I plan on fighting back!
Until next time...
Oh, on a side note...Gene is going on a Mission trip to Nicaragua in March. The cost is around $1500 so if you are looking for some mission work to give to, we would love the financial support. You can message me if you are interested. We would also covet your prayers.
Friday, February 4, 2011
I have close to 3 hours in between dropping Reagan off and picking her back up. It goes by in a blink and literally feels like 10 minutes. During that time, I try my best to do things around the house and "things" are different every single day. I have to start each and every morning by cleaning up the bomb that exploded while we are trying to get ready for school....breakfast messes, mess Gracen drags out while Reagan is getting ready, mess Reagan drags out while I am getting Gracen ready...you get the idea. Next, I move into my chore list and normally I alternate doing a chore and spending some quality time with Gracen. She is great about playing on her own, but of course wants and needs my attention from time to time. I also WANT to read to her and do puzzles with her...things that will stimulate that little brain.
Anyway, this morning, I had a long list and I was moving from one chore to another, thinking to myself, "Just one more thing, just one more thing...and then I will read to Gracen."
During this time, Gracen was following me around room to room. She probably thought we were playing "Catch Momma" because she was relentlessly trying to catch me. She was constantly saying, "Momma, Momma." I would say, "Gracen, Gracen" and then keep moving. She would go and grab a book, and then bring it to me and call my name. Then she would grab a puzzle and call my name. Then she would grab a baby praise DVD and call my name because I usually sit with her and point out objects on the screen and sing the praise songs for her.
Another proud momma moment, but I ignored her for awhile, until she became very persistent and my guilt got the best of me.
I finally stopped and reached for her and she reached back, smiling the biggest smile. We went and read a few books, then watched the entire Praise Baby DVD, which is 30 minutes long (I mean short), and played "roll the ball". All of this took about an hour, but after sitting her with for that hour, she was completely content. Her love tank was full and she went and entertained herself. I continued my chore list and made some progress.
She just wanted me. She just wanted me to be still long enough to spend some one on one time with her. After that she was satisfied and honestly, I was quite satisfied too. I enjoyed my time with her.
There are many spiritual parallels here, but one came to my mind as we were watching that DVD together.
God calls to us to slow down and spend quality time with Him. Too often we hear Him beckoning to us, calling us to sit at His feet, to pray to Him, to listen to Him, to read His Word. We continually put Him off, saying that we are too busy or that we are going to just do one more thing....and then we will have a quiet time.
Psalm 46:10 says, "Be still and know that I am God..."and Matthew 6:33 says, "Seek first the kingdom of God and all these other things will be given to you."
God wants us to sit still and quiet ourselves each and every day so we can hear from Him. He wants us to know and trust that everything will get done and everything will work out if we put the relationship with Him first, above all other things. I don't want to ignore God so much in my life that He just quits calling. I also don't want to go through my days with an emptiness that only He can fill.
Did I get everything done this morning, that I needed to get done? No.
It is around 1:30 in the afternoon and I just walked through my bedroom to see my bed unmade (horrors...LOL!), a stack of clothes on top of the unmade bed that need to be put away, a stack of coupons that need sorting and organizing, and a master bathroom that really needs some attention. But I know that today I made two right choices...
Number 1- I started my day with God. I was still and quiet before Him and He spoke to my heart.
Number 2- I spent quality time with my daughter, speaking to her heart. I was still with her and let everything else wait.
Today and this weekend, I want to encourage you to spend some quality time with God and with those you love. The other things will wait.
Until next time...
Wednesday, February 2, 2011
So many people say that they don't know how to study the Bible or what to do to study. I can understand that, and I am still learning myself. But, this S.O.A.P. method is a pattern that you can follow. I told Gene that I could use it with every book in the Bible and stay busy the rest of my life.
Today, I studied James 1:22-24 which says, "But prove yourselves doers of the Word and not merely hearers who delude themselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the Word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror. For once, he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what he looks like."
My commentary had a great sentence about this verse: "We can measure the EFFECTIVENESS of our Bible study time by the effect it has on our BEHAVIOR and ATTITUDES." That is a pretty powerful statement.
Is my behavior and attitude being changed for the better as I read and study the Word of God? I am a work in progress as my last entry showed.
I was listening to David Platt, a pastor from Birmingham, preach a sermon on these verses and he said that too many people think that they are alright with God because they go to church once a week or because they read a 3 minute devotional in the morning. But too often people just go to church and they never take a note, they never write down one thing that they want to remember or one thing that they can apply to their lives, they don't reread the verses that were taught throughout the week, etc. Within a day or two of hearing the message, the person cannot even remember what was taught. If such a person thinks he is OK, just because he went to church or read the devotional, he is deceiving himself.
I do not want to fall into that category. I don't want to deceive myself. I want to retain what I am learning and what I am studying. I want it to change the way I think and the way I live my life. The Word of God is supposed to evoke an action within us and if there is no action, then there has been no acceptance. The American church today, according to Platt, listens to the Word and then picks and chooses what to obey, rather than obeying everything. We can probably all share some examples of how we do this.
The book of James talks about the Word of God being implanted in you. You can tell that the Word is in you by what is happening outside of you. If there is nothing happening outside of you, then chances are, there is nothing inside of you. The Word of God is powerful and will change you from the inside out.
Your life cannot be built on Sunday after Sunday attendance....just listening to the Words of Jesus and that is where it stops. Your life will end in destruction. (David Platt)
Obedience is so important. I can be "willing" to listen and obey without ever following through. For example, I can be willing to share the gospel, without ever sharing the gospel.
I want a heart that will hear and obey. I don't want to just be a "believer" but a true "disciple". I don't want to debate with God about things I study in His Word, waiting for the conditions to be just right before I step out in faith. I just want to obey. I don't want to pick and choose, laying aside the things that challenge me and just obeying what is easy.
From the verse, that would be like looking at myself in a mirror and then forgetting what I look like. Pretty ridiculous!
Well, I just wanted to share some of the things that I have been learning this week.
Until next time...
Tuesday, February 1, 2011
The verse that I chose is from Lamentations and I will have to tell you why I chose the verse as well....which is tough to share, but I think could benefit some other Momma out there.
"The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness."
This is the understatement of the year, but...Mothering little ones day in and day out is hard. I don't think I have ever had a day when I totally felt good about every decision I made, every thought that I had, or every word that came out of my mouth. Too often, I have things that I have to ask forgiveness for... either from God, from Gene, or from my little ones. I can so easily make the day all about me and what I want to accomplish. I forget that I am called to serve...to serve my husband and my children before I serve myself.
This verse came to my mind late one afternoon last week after two particularly tough days. I would like to say that the girls were being crazy and the tough days were their fault, but the fault lies within me. Two days in a row, I was just in a bad mood. I was behind with several projects that needed to get done, the house was a mess, the kids needed constant attention, as they usually do, and I was tired and grumpy. I just wanted peace and quiet and, well, let's just say that Reagan doesn't understand the word "quiet". She is a talker, plain and simple. Her love language must be quality time because she is always right up under me, and has a very difficult time entertaining herself.
I have some hormonal issues which is one of the reasons it took me over 13 years to conceive a child. When I started taking some supplemental hormones, my internal hormones balanced out. I was no longer tired, no longer grumpy, and I conceived Gracen...praise the Lord. I could not take the hormones while I was pregnant, nor the year following her birth because I was breast feeding. Anyway, fast forward another 11 months, and I am still not taking them because they run around $80.00...if I remember correctly.
Well, I might need to look into them.
At the end of the two days that I mentioned above....after being abrupt and short with my girls, especially Reagan. She came up to me and said, "Momma, do you not like me anymore?" Gut shot! I froze in my tracks, hugged her, apologized to her for being in a bad mood, told her that I loved her...and always would, and stopped what I was doing to spend time with her.
I hope I don't receive any ugly letters or anything, but I want to be as honest as I know how to be. Being a mother is a huge blessing, but it is no walk in the park. I don't get it right 7 days out of every week. I am a sinner, saved my grace. I will never be perfect, but I refuse to stay in my sin. I am thankful that God opened my eyes by the comment of a 5 year old girl, that I was not modeling Christ with my words or my actions. I should have stopped early in my personal "funk" and confessed the sin and begged God to lift me up out of the bad mood that I was wallowing in.
I am so thankful today for Lamentations 3:22-23. God's steadfast love never ceases. His mercies never end. They are new EVERY SINGLE MORNING. He is so faithful!!! And I am so thankful.
I hope this encourages you.
Until next time...