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Chaos is not the plan…

There is so much going on in our world today that makes me wonder how we are still moving forward as a civilization. Violence. Pain. Illness. Death. Gun deaths. Untimely deaths. Mental confusion. Crime. War. Injustice. It’s exhausting.

That’s exactly why I do my best to not watch any news programs…especially before I go to sleep at night. There might a quick 3-minute human interest story thrown in there, or the day’s most popular cat video, but for the most part it’s all just awful. I’ll admit too that I’m a bit fascinated with how the newscasters can read the teleprompter with a smile or at least with a pleasant look on their face when they are delivering the news items. Just words on a screen.

Chaos.

I have recently heard so many sad stories, friends going through difficult times, and the general turmoil of our country, that I felt compelled to share my heart and desire to encourage you ~ take courage! It’s not always going to be like this!
I’m not always quick to do it, but when I feel like the world is crashing in around me, I have to remind myself that God is not a god of chaos. I remember that from the beginning of creation, there was an orderly plan that God spoke into existence.

God is not a god of chaos.

How do I know this for sure? The definition of chaos is: “a state of utter confusion or disorder; a total lack of organization or order; any confused, disorderly mass;”

I think it’s quite comforting to read in Genesis 1:1-5

“‘In the beginning God (Elohim) created [by forming from nothing] the heavens and the earth. The earth was formless and void or a waste and emptiness, and darkness was upon the face of the deep [primeval ocean that covered the unformed earth]. The Spirit of God was moving (hovering, brooding) over the face of the waters. And God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. God saw that the light was good (pleasing, useful) and He affirmed and sustained it; and God separated the light [distinguishing it] from the darkness. And God called the light day, and the darkness He called night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day.”

The earth was formed from nothing and from the words God spoke, we have the earth. The waters of the sea have not dried up. Birds of the air and beasts of the field continue to thrive. The sun shines and the moon rises. All because He said so.
My favorite part of the verses above is where it says, “The Spirit of God was moving (hovering, brooding) over the face of the waters.”

This always makes me think of how I would quietly walk into my daughters’ rooms when they were little babies, and I would get as close to their crib as I could without walking them up; just to watch them sleep. I was hovering. I was praying. I was in love with this beautiful little baby girl {well, three sweet baby girls!} that God chose to give me and my husband.

There are some who wonder why “bad things happen to good people” or “how can a loving God do nothing against the sinister forces of this earth.”

I don’t have all the answers, but I do know that God wants reconciliation with us and with this world.

He sent the Son, His only Son Jesus, to the earth to live as a man while retaining His Godhood. Jesus died on the cross, rose again, and broke the chains of the death so that we would no longer be separated from Him. Experiencing the saving grace of Jesus is instantaneous ~ we just need to ask Him to forgive us from our sins and be the Lord of our life. This earth will be reclaimed and made anew someday when the Lord returns and for that we have to be patient.

Psalm 27:14 promises,

“Wait for and confidently expect the Lord; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for and confidently expect the Lord.”

There are definitely times where I allow myself to spiral into the depths of despair ~ but that only happens when I take my eyes of the Lord. It’s like walking a tight rope. Have you ever seen someone do that? The success of their journey across the rope does not lay in looking down at their feet; it’s all about looking forward to their goal. They trust the rope is there, that they are wearing the appropriate shoes to walk in, that the balance they have trained to command is present, and the firm foundation they are walking toward is not a mirage.

Same for us. The minute we take our eyes off the Lord, our mind will wander to all the nefarious rabbit trails the enemy uses to confuse us. Satan’s goal is always, and I mean ALWAYS, bring confusion and disunity into every single situation and every single person’s mind. When one is wrapped in a massive cloak of disorder, we can’t tell what truth is and what is a lie. We fall deeper and deeper into despair and begin to believe the lie that there is no way out.

But God.

But God created the earth out of a dark and formless void.

But God created man out of dust (of the earth that He had just created by the way!) and woman out of the tender part of man (near His heart).

God created.

God created order and function and purpose. He brought to life the millions of flowers, trees, animals, habitats, water sources, seasons, galaxies, and so much more!

We cannot contain Him. We cannot rearrange what He has put in place. We cannot replicate what He has created.

Ephesians 2:10 reminds us,

“For we are His workmanship [His own mater work , a work of art], created in Christ Jesus [reborn from above – spiritually transformed, renewed, ready to be used] for good works, which God prepared [for us] beforehand [taking paths which He set], so that we would walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us.]”

The Lord has created each and every person with a plan and a purpose. But He gives us the free will to choose that purpose or to deny it. He didn’t create robots. He created family. He created community. He created purpose.

God is the God of Order.

Life isn’t easy, we were never promised easy. We are promised life with Jesus and a peace that passes understanding. If you are struggling today to emerge from a dark place in your life, call out to the Lord and He will hear you. And if you don’t know the Lord, you can pray right now and ask Him to come into your heart. He’s waiting for you!

Blessings,
René

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Are we really Sheep after all…

My husband and I recently hosted a family dinner with friends of ours. We hadn’t seen either of the couples in about 20 years, and it was the first time we’d met their children, but it felt like no time had passed at all. The color of our hair, the reading glasses, and the wrinkles on our faces say otherwise. But it was spectacular! We used to meet with four other couples, including these two, when we first were married every month and it was fantastic! Sharing meals, playing board games, celebrating holidays and special occasions. Then life took us all in different directions ~ but thank goodness for Christmas cards and social media!  Am I right??

At any rate, one of our friends have now been sheep farmers in Wyoming for the past 9 years and they love it! We heard all kinds of new terms like, “Oh yeah, we like to lamb in the summer.  It’s way too cold for us and for the lambs to be born in 10-degree weather.” Jesse and Michelle have over 400 sheep at any given time, but lambing season is definitely a highlight. By the way…I’m totally planning some time in my schedule to go next summer and experience Fowler Farms for myself!

When I asked what the best/hardest part of being a modern-day shepherd was, they said that both aspects kinda went hand in hand. Taking care of hundreds of sheep is a major full time 24/7 job!

Then my friends’ husband said, “The hardest part is where the romance ends, and the work really begins.” Isn’t it always so enticing to think about having pets or adding animals into your home equation…until they actually arrive! And with a slight chuckle, they said that after all the years they have been raising sheep, they totally understand why the Lord compares us to sheep in the Bible! LOL!

My friend Michelle recalled a particularly difficult birthing experience. It was on Mother’s Day and she had to unexpectedly go out to help her husband help a struggling mama ewe. At first it made her so mad because after all, we momma’s look forward to Mother’s Day. But then, she and Jesse were able to save the babies and the mama. “The experience of that incredible birthing moment was in fact quite spiritual. And then you step back and thank God for letting you be a part of His great work!”

I did a little research via the old world-wide web too and found a great site that gave the basics about sheep and it was amazing to me to see the correlations between us and sheep and how the Lord shepherds both.

There are four areas where the shepherd must pay attention:

  • Flock Welfare
  • Protecting from Predators
  • Protecting Health
  • Shearing the Flock

Just as Christ came to be our salvation, the first thing a shepherd must be aware of is the safety of his flock. “The shepherd will graze the animals, herding them to areas of good forage, and keeping a watchful eye out for poisonous plants. Shepherds often live in trailers or other mobile quarters. As the sheep eat all the forage in an area, the shepherd will move both the sheep and his living quarters to fresh range. In most cases, the shepherd and his dogs will move the sheep out to fresh grazing each day and bring them back to bed down in the same area each night.” *

This is what Christ does for us every day. But the difference between us and the sheep, is that we activate more of a conscious choice about how and when we will listen to the voice of the shepherd. Each day, as we read God’s word, we are grazing in fresh areas of truth. Even if it’s a passage that we’ve read multiple times, when we are attuned to the voice of the Lord, we can experience the verse anew. When our focus in on the Lord and are following Him, we do a better job of avoiding sinful temptations in our life.

In terms of protection, “…a shepherd may use guard dogs or other guard animals.” * The Lord gave us the Holy Spirit for this same purpose. Read here in John 14 and 16,

John 14:26 “But the Helper (Comforter, Advocate, Intercessor—Counselor, Strengthener, Standby), the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name [in My place, to represent Me and act on My behalf], He will teach you all things. And He will help you remember everything that I have told you.”

John 16:7 “But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper (Comforter, Advocate, Intercessor—Counselor, Strengthener, Standby) will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him (the Holy Spirit) to you [to be in close fellowship with you].”

When my daughters were younger and new in their faith, I used to explain the ministry of the Holy Spirit to them very simply. I would tell them, “When you have that ‘uh oh’ feeling in your tummy, that was the Holy Spirit giving them a warning that maybe what they were about to do or so was not something honoring to the Lord.” Hey, I still think that’s a good way to recognize the direction the Holy Spirit gives us. It’s not about emotionalism…it’s about learning to discern the warnings and guidance the Lord intends to give us through His Holy Spirit every day.

The same way that spending time in scripture helps us to learn more about who God is and what His plans for us are, it is always how we stay healthy: spiritually, mentally, and emotionally. Modern day shepherds must be vigilant in protecting the health of their flock and monitor their animals at all times and especially during the lambing season. The sheep, “…may also be bothered by insects, some of which carry disease. During lambing season, the shepherd will make frequent checks on the ewes at all hours of the day and night and may assist the ewe if birthing problems occur. Shepherds may also dock, or cut off, the tails of young lambs.” *

Hebrews 12:11 says it perfectly, “For the time being no discipline brings joy, but seems sad and painful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness [right standing with God and a lifestyle and attitude that seeks conformity to God’s will and purpose].”

As believers in Christ, we belong to the Lord. He is with us always, so He is keenly aware when we need help going through trials, when there is disease {sin} creeping in to take over our heart and mind, or when we simply need to know that He sees us. Just as a ewe cries out alerting her shepherd that she needs help, we can cry out to the Lord and He hears us. We may not always get the answer we want, but He will always answer us.

Just last week I was having a terrible attitude going into church. I had allowed myself to fall prey to the temptation of irritation with others and self-doubt and spiraled from there. We got to church late, had to walk through to the middle of the row, and usually I love singing but I could barely get the words out, so I just stood there. But I was fighting a battle…a big spiritual one and I needed help. I asked the Lord to help me get out of this ridiculous funk because I wanted to sing, and I wanted to hear what our pastor had to share in his sermon.

I began to feel the sadness leave my mind as we sat down in our seats. In that moment, a sweet older lady that was sitting behind me, reached forward to hug me and give me a kiss on the cheek. Then she whispered in my ear, “Hello sweetheart! I’m so glad you here.” WHAT IN THE WORLD!!!!  I knew in that moment; Jesus was whispering those same words to my heavy heart. My sinful attitude didn’t deserve such a kindness, but in my quiet plea to the Lord, I knew He had heard me and wanted to gift to me tangible proof to show me so.

He is a good good Shepherd!

The last piece of being a good Shepherd is to know when and how to shear the sheep. The article* I read says this, “Unlike other animals that shed their hair in the spring, many breeds of sheep must be shorn – have their fleece cut off with shears or clippers. This task may be assigned to sheepshearers, whose primary occupation is shearing, or it may be the responsibility of the shepherd. Sheep may be sheared in the open or in holding pens. ”

If I’d not seen it myself, I’m not sure I could’ve truly understood the complete trust a sheep has in the shepherd. A few years ago, I was able to go with my husband on a business trip to New Zealand. One of the producers he was working with, asked if I’d be up for his wife to take me on a few adventures while we were there ~ you betcha!! Almost apologetically she said, “It’s kind of touristy, but would you want to go to Sheep World?” Um…yeah, I want to go to sheep world!  And it was absolutely amazing!! {here’s the website if you’re ever in NZ ~ http://www.sheepworldfarm.co.nz/}

Part of the show was to educate people on the nature of sheep and to raise them. It was fascinating to watch the sheep being called in by the shepherd…partly using his sheep dog to corral the sheep up on the hill and partly his own set of voice commands that the sheep recognized. Then he brought in a few sheep who needed shearing. He showed our small audience how to do it properly ~ how to hold these massive animals in such a way as to cause them to be calm while being sheared. It was remarkable. The sheep made no sound and didn’t struggle to get away. It was clear though, when the shearing was over they wanted to get back to the flock as quickly as possible.

And guess what…this shepherd gave folks an opportunity to do some shearing…and my new friend started pointing at me. I almost turned down the chance but figured I probably wouldn’t get that opportunity again! So, I sheared a bit of wool off this lovely creature and then a bit later I was able to hold a sweet newborn lamb and feed it with a bottle! I was in heaven!!

{Side note: there are many stories out there perpetuated by well-meaning pastors and speakers that state the idea that shepherds will break a leg of a lamb when they stray too many times, in order to teach it to stay with the flock. Not being able to interview someone who lived during the days of Jesus, and seeing a few articles about ancient shepherding, this possibly was done but not as an everyday measure. I’ve spent hours researching this concept on the website and asked my friends who’ve been running a sheep farm ~ all point to the fact that this hasn’t been a reality for a very very very long time! A good shepherd would not intentionally cause harm to a member of his flock. In the same way, Jesus our Good Shepherd, does not intentionally “break” us when we have strayed. He stays nearby, calling our name until we are able to recognize His voice again and in a spiritual sense (and maybe even a physical sense) rejoin the flock and follow the path He has for us.

If you have ever heard this other version and thus made the decision to leave Christ out of your life for fear that He will cause harm to come to you, please know that I’m praying for you to understand who Jesus really is. He is the One who came to save us from our sinful life that, without Him, leads to eternal separation from Him. He will give us lessons in order to have the opportunity to turn away from sin and follow Him. When we ask for forgiveness it is immediate and it is not brought up again. Jesus does not need to “break our leg” in order for us to follow Him. The Lord will always have His arms outstretched to gather us to Himself; when we are wounded by this world, He is there to carry us. He does not do the wounding.}

So, are we sheep after all? Yeah…I think we are.

  • We don’t always see well and tend to wander around with the rest of the flock.
  • We must learn to hear the true voice of our Shepherd to keep us from falling over a cliff or to know when danger is present and to run the other way.,
  • We need someone to watch over us; to pick off the diseased parts in our soul and to shear off the weight of coverings that we no longer need.

And most of all, we need a gentle Shepherd to lead us home to Himself.

Blessings,

René

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When our Flame is the Brightest…

If you’ve ever been to a Christmas Eve candlelight service, or a candle light service of any kind, have you ever noticed that your flame is the brightest when you are helping the person next to you ignite their flame?

Seriously, try it! Even if you’re home by yourself, grab your matches or one of those clicker thingys & go light a candle. The very moment the wick ignites, the flame of the two components merge, the height of the flame increases, and the glow of both together is so bright!

This is what happens in our spirit each and every time we engage with another person. There is a heightened awareness of God moving in our lives & the desire to shout His glories from the rooftops definitely increases.

Hang with me here while I keep going with some “candle lighting” analogies.

Sometimes when lighting candles around the house (which makes my husband crazy, but hey, I’m a fireman’s daughter so I know what I’m doing!) it takes longer to light some candles than others. Some wicks are ready and waiting & that first burst of the lighter flame in their direction, they spring to life. Some wicks are covered by an excess of wax, so the lighter flame has to be held directly to the wick to melt the wax before the flame can take over. And every once in a while, the lighter will go out before the wick is lit. You’ve got to click the lighter a few times & try again.

It’s all about patience & readiness.

2 Timothy 1:6-7 champions us to run after the fire of God, “That is why I remind you to fan into flame the gracious gift of God, [that inner fire—the special endowment] which is in you through the laying on of my hands [with those of the elders at your ordination]. For God did not give us a spirit of timidity or cowardice or fear, but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of sound judgment and personal discipline [abilities that result in a calm, well-balanced mind and self-control].”

God’s Word reminds us to fan the flame of God’s goodness ~ of His gift of salvation which we can pass in to others. Some people will readily accept the truth of scripture & believe Jesus as their Savior. Some need a bit more time to allow the lies of the devil & what the world says about God, to melt away from their heart and mind. And sadly, some will be resistant to whatever truths are presented to them about who God is and how much He loves them.

The imagery of fire and flames are all over scripture, both in the Old Testament and the New Testament.

Nehemiah 9:12 {AMP} says, “And with a pillar of cloud You led them by day, And with a pillar of fire by night To light the way for them In which they were to go.”

Isaiah 43:2 {AMP} holds a beautiful process, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they will not overwhelm you. When you walk through fire, you will not be scorched, Nor will the flame burn you.”

And I for sure would’ve loved to have seen the gift of the Holy Spirit come upon the people as stated in Acts 2:3, “There appeared to them tongues resembling fire, which were being distributed [among them], and they rested on each one of them [as each person received the Holy Spirit].”

We are not meant to keep the fires of the Lord that burn within us to ourselves. We are called to share that fire ~ to bring light to the dark areas of this world, to shine brightly to those around us which hopefully causes them to be curious and ask us why we are different. If you have ever had the privilege of sharing the Gospel with anyone, and you see the spark of hope ignite in their eyes, it’s truly incredible. Witnessing that proverbial “light bulb” moment, you can see the spark grow into a flame and then into a full blown fire of joy as the Lord becomes their Savior.

So how are you lighting the fire of God in others today? If you are feeling stuck as to where God is calling you, just ask ~ He’ll tell you! The best way to hear the whispers of the Holy Spirit is to be in prayer everyday so that you are accustomed to know what God’s voice sounds like. Hearing from the Lord continues to bring the flame in our souls up to the surface. And then we can’t help but share it! The great thing too is that as you light more and more souls on fire for God, your flame will not diminish…it keeps going & becomes brighter!

Let your fire for the Lord be contagious! Wherever you are, start a wildfire for the Lord and watch those new flames burst forth and ignite!

Blessings,

René

Bright Flame blog September 2019

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The Sound of Stillness…

Is stillness really a sound?

I think it is and sometimes it is absolutely deafening.

Our society within the American culture is extremely uncomfortable with stillness.

My personal comfort zone is uncomfortable with stillness. But, I think silence is different than stillness though.

When my girls were little I absolutely craved silence by the end of the evening. I will admit that one of my favorite games sometimes was “The Quiet Game” ~ if I could just get 15 seconds or even a whole minute of silence, I could refocus my brain and continue on with our day. Even though I’m an extrovert and a 2w1 on the Enneagram scale, there are times I must schedule time to be quiet. But that can look different depending on the day. Sometimes the quiet I need is to take a long nap in the middle of the afternoon. Some days, like today, it’s to find a quiet local coffee shop, where I can collect my thoughts and put them down for you to read. Other days, the silence is reading a book or sitting with a friend.

But to be still….to truly be still…that’s a whole other story.

When I’m fighting the stillness, it is in that exact moment I have to stop and realize that in the stillness is where God speaks to us the loudest.

I’ve shared a story before how God spoke to me about my priorities (and my mothering!) when I’d been in car accident. The result was a fracture in the T5/T6 part of my spine. The miracle was two-fold: The night before I was to be fitted with a body brace that I’d have to wear for 6-12 months, God healed me through the many prayers of friends and family members. The other came when although I didn’t need the brace, I was still prescribed 3 weeks of complete, upright bedrest: no laying down, no slouching, ice packs, heat packs, no going downstairs, and basically no physical contact. You tell an enneagram 2 that they can’t hug anyone (or be hugged!) for THREE WEEKS!! May as well of told me to stop breathing!! This is where God used the stillness of those three weeks to draw me back to Him. Partly because I was alone A LOT and I had to rely on Him for my sanity, but more so in the fact that since my girls couldn’t hug me before and after school, they began to kneel down and “hug” my feet. Big lesson in humility for sure!

Psalm 46:10 {AMP} “Be still and know (recognize, understand) that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations! I will be exalted in the earth.”

But God knew I needed that ~ He had to ‘still’ me because I was too busy running around acting like I had it all together and didn’t need Him. When God wants to get our attention, He will!

Right now, I feel like I’m in a place of stillness. And I really, really, like not all, really don’t like it. I’ve been walking with the Lord long enough now to know that He is about to do something big. Not in the way the world would necessarily think is big, but big for Him and His name sake. That doesn’t always equate right away with feeling peace in the stillness.

Mark 4:39 ” {AMP} And He got up and [sternly] rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Hush, be still (muzzled)!” And the wind died down [as if it had grown weary] and there was [at once] a great calm [a perfect peacefulness].”

I love the verbiage in the Amplified Bible, especially in this verse in Mark 4. When Jesus hushed the sea and told the wind to stop, it stopped as if it was a child who’d been fighting a nap and suddenly realizes they are weary. They need to stop fighting. They need to be still. I love the last two words of this verse ~ perfect peacefulness. That just gives me chills! Notice here with me, that the wind did nothing to gain the peaceful calm EXCEPT to obey the voice of the Lord.

Stillness before the Lord that brings that kind of peace. 

The Lord has been whispering plans and ideas to my heart for a while now and I am so excited to share it with you when the time is right. At any rate, a few weeks ago I was feeling so confident and telling everyone how great it was to be able to hear what the Lord was telling me were my next steps. Usually the “next steps” are great because it means were in a path of forward motion and most of the time that is a good thing. I loved the fact that God was showing me what ministries and activities I needed to say ‘no’ to in order to get me even more ready to be available to say ‘yes’ to the new things He has for me in the near future. It was exciting. Honestly, it felt empowering to be able to do that. 

But now, I’m feeling like I’m in a wonky in-between place. I’ve cleaned out my schedule of anything that would distract me from hearing the Lord’s direction. Now what? 

Stillness.

Psalm 23:1-3 {AMP} The Lord is my Shepherd [to feed, to guide and to shield me], I shall not want. He lets me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still and quiet waters. He refreshes and restores my soul (life); He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.”

Like me, you’ve most likely read these verses in Psalm 23 many times. Today, I’m soaking them in a little deeper. I’m taking note of the clarity of these verses and it is beginning to help me settle into this stillness I’m feeling.

Just as the seas and wind only needed to obey the voice of the Lord, I cannot DO anything to gain peace or refreshment. In the stillness, look at what the Lord wants to give us:

to be fed

to be guided

to be shielded

to be provided for

to be still

to be led

to be refreshed

to be restored

And none of that is for my glory but for His. But it is ALL for my benefit! Whoa!! I do not find my own stillness. I do not create my own stillness. Only the Lord can orchestrate stillness in my life that will be of any use to my soul. My part in the stillness is to listen to His voice and trust that He loves me enough to create seasons of stillness.

Out of those seasons, the stillness will bring a new sense of peace that only He can give.

I can honestly say that after putting the words of my heart down on this page, I am feeling a new sense of contentment in this season of stillness that God has welcomed me into. I will move forward each day, trusting that He has a good plan for tomorrow, next week, and beyond. He desires for me to join Him in it! That’s pretty cool friends!

Stillness may not be one of my favorite things, but it is definitely one of the most important things I can do as the Lord moves me into new opportunities to learn and to teach.

Where is the Lord calling you into stillness right now? If you’re not sure, sit with Him in the stillness and ask Him. Even if you have to “run away” to your car in the driveway…find a few moments of quiet stillness.

Because in that place, you will be able to hear Him the loudest.

Blessings,

René

STILLNESS

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Becoming Unoffended…

We have all been offended. Someone cuts us off on the freeway. We’re telling our spouse something only to realize that they’ve been scrolling through their emails or social media. Our kids aren’t listening. A group of friends is out on the town and no one invited you. I’m sure you can add a few of your own examples too.

Then it happens. You’re offended.

In March of 2017, I experienced a freedom from the spirit of offense and I’ve not looked back once! It was an incredible moment to be prayed for, and I literally said out loud to the Lord, “I’m so tired of this. Please God. Deliver me from being offended all the time.” And He did…ugly cry and all. I literally felt a huge weight lift off my heart and my mind ~ it was incredible!

This experience came at a time in my life when the Lord was shifting the direction of ministry. I’ve always been involved with women’s ministries but I knew God was leading me to be more purposeful and intentional to minister to college-aged girls. I should have known that this deliverance would prove to be more than I imagined. Not only did I live in a new-found joy of daily life, but I began to see people around me through the eyes of Jesus.

Walking around being offended all the time is exhausting. And it’s no way to be in true ministry to others.

But here’s the thing ~ I really thought I deserved to be offended. “If people around me would just _______________, then I wouldn’t be upset.” It was never ‘my fault’ and I made sure to let everyone know that their  actions and attitudes were the problem. They were ‘making me’  react in an offended manner.

It was all them; never me.

This spirit of offense had woven itself so intricately into my soul that I had no clue how to escape it. I didn’t like being offended. But then I’d rationalize it by thinking, “Well, I know I’m right about this, so it’s okay to be offended.” What? That’s just crazy talk! The flip side of living with a spirit of offense, is that anytime someone does actually treat you poorly, instead of feeling offended, you end up feeling ‘less than.’ Then you are walking around exuding attitudes of feeling dejected, unworthy, unseen, and so on.

This is right where the Devil wants you to live.

Because it’s not just you that is affected by your actions when you activate offense in your heart. You lead others astray. If you overreact to a situation, you give people the motivation to tell others about how you freaked out. Enter in gossip. In your pursuit of being offended (yeah…your pursuit…because you certainly aren’t pursuing a godly response in that moment), you will inevitably lead others to join you. What good is that?

1 John 2:10 says, “The one who loves and unselfishly seeks the best for his [believing] brother lives in the Light, and in him there is no occasion for stumbling or offense [he does not hurt the cause of Christ or lead others to sin].”

You know the old saying, “Misery loves company.”? Well, it does. Think about a time when you were feeling miserable, feeling offended. How did you handle it? You either sat at home getting deeper and deeper into your offense, or you called someone to tell them your tale of woes, or worse yet, you took to social media to blast someone publicly. In all three scenarios, you had company.

The first one ~ you were allowing the enemy to take a seat on the couch next to you. He made you feel like you deserved to be offended. He used that to plant seeds for your next move.

The second one ~ to fuel your ‘rightness’ you need to bring in someone else who will empathize with you and tell you that you have a ‘right’ to be offended.

The last scene ~ in your ‘rightness’ you decide that the offender needs to be put on notice. Even if you don’t use the persons name, it will be completely obvious to many in your circles who you are publicly complaining about. Let me guarantee you ~ no one will even be aware of what you are offended about; they will simply see a vindictive person lashing out in a shameful way.

The best place to start in your journey to become free of offense, is to speak it out loud. Meet up with a friend, your pastor, or your spouse, and tell them everything that is on your heart. James 5:16 encourages us in this way, “Therefore, confess your sins to one another [your false steps, your offenses], and pray for one another, that you may be healed and restored. The heartfelt and persistent prayer of a righteous man (believer) can accomplish much [when put into action and made effective by God—it is dynamic and can have tremendous power].”  It’s so true! Confession is truly good for the soul.

Speaking your story out loud, telling the Lord what you need Him to forgive you for and bring restoration to your heart, is worth it all. When you speak it out loud, the power of that offense is gone. The goal of the enemy is to make us keep everything hidden; to bury deep down inside the parts of our life that make us feel shameful. That is never the goal of the Lord. He wants to bring us into the glory of His light that brings healthy and wholeness to our life.

There is such beautiful freedom in being unoffendable. I know, it sounds lofty and unattainable, but it’s absolutely possible.

You were created in the image of God to worship Him and bring others to Him. Living your life in a way that makes other people want to know Jesus is to be our goal. What better way to bring God glory than to show others how to live an unoffendable life.

Blessings,

René

Unoffended blog{Photo by Caleb George on Unsplash}

 

 

Christian Communicators, Christian Mentors, College age women, Millenials, Moms, Parents, Public Speaking, Stay at Home Moms, Students, Teachers, Uncategorized, women, Women in Ministry, Women's Ministries, Writers

It’s my Blog-aversery!

Whoa y’all!  Today, August 31, 2019 is my 4th anniversary of writing my blog! To date I’ve written about 165,000 words. That’s a lot of words!

{cue the Confetti!!}

One thing that I love is to celebrate and everything is worth celebrating! My mother-in-law has often told me that she loves how I can make every holiday and any milestone a celebration. I mean, I’m a Type 2 on the enneagram, so go figure! But I just had to look up what the traditional anniversary gift for “year 4” was and amazingly, it kind of sums up what I feel about writing this blog.

So the traditional gifts are fruit, flowers, linen, and silk.

Fruit & Flowers ~ “…flowers represent the growth and blossoming of the relationship, and subsequent ripening as symbolized by fruit. Flowers nurture the soul, and fruit nourishes the body…”  The geranium & hydrangea are flowers associated with year 4…the more positive and meaningful symbols of the geranium are comfort and gentility of a true friend. The hydrangea’s more positive symbols [are] gratefulness, ‘thank you for your understanding’, pride and appreciation.

Linen & Silk ~ “In biblical times, garments crafted from fine linen represented truths from the Divine, given that fine linen worn by holy figures was of the purest white and also lustrous (eg, angels in the bible are described as wearing fine white linen), hence, the symbolism of truth…Silk…is connected with items that are…the comfortable flow and connection between [people]. The saying “as smooth as silk” further represents good times ahead in the relationship.

{https://www.eternityrose.com/4th-wedding-anniversary-gift-ideas}

Through this blog, I have experienced personal and spiritual growth, gained deeper friendships, and become increasingly grateful for this writer’s gift the Lord has given me. I strive to be someone who writes the truth not for self-gratification but for the joy of shining light on the goodness of the Father. I write how I speak. When I sit down, I imagine that you are sitting across from me at a cozy little coffee shop.

My hearts desire is to meet you right where you are at. To encourage you that you can stand when you are feeling fragile; to cry when you are feeling pain; to draw strength from the Lord when you feel discouraged; to firmly believe that you are fearfully and wonderfully made and God has a great and mighty plan for you right now!

I can tell you that every single word has been from my heart ~ prompted by a desire from the Lord to share my story with everyone who reads it, in the hope to point you to Jesus! When I am able to sit down at my computer and have a blog ready to publish in about 2 hours, I know that I do not write alone. It’s something that astonishes me every single time. I feel the Holy Spirit lay something on my heart, and my mind begins to swirl. I pray before each blog ~ to hear God’s voice and type it out on the page through my words.

I’ve written on so many topics; it’s hard to pinpoint my “writer’s perspective”. I’ve had people ask me “Well, what is your blog about?” I’m usually a deer in the proverbial headlights for a second and then answer, “Whatever God wants me to write about.” I’m in no way being glib…it’s just the truth.

From marriage, to kids, to empty-nesting, to friendship, to verses in the Bible, mistakes & triumphs, and topical issues ~ it’s all here…all 114 blogs worth.

My biggest encouragers & supporters are my fabulous family! They are so kind when I send out a family text with, “Hey everyone…I just published another blog” and add in the link.

After I had been writing for almost one year, my middle daughter saw me checking my blog stats for the millionth time that month. She quietly asked me, “Why do you check your stats so often? Does it really matter how many people are reading your blog?” Um, well, sure it does. I believed then as I do know that God leads to me write every single one. I rationalized that I was simply seeing how many were reading them since God gave me this gift, He must have huge plans for them! Right?! Even as the words to my daughter tumbled out of my mouth, I felt embarrassed.

Side note…having adult children is a trip!  Let me just tell you to hold on to your seats…it’s a great ride and it’s never dull!

So, my daughter gave me a challenge ~ to not check my stats for a month. I thought it would easier to simply take my app off my phone, but that would be too easy. I left the app there because I still wanted the availability to open it up real quick when inspiration hit. But I did it…I didn’t check the stats for 30 days and it was so liberating. I was able to come back to the place of writing for the audience of One. To write back to the Lord the words He was so graciously putting on my heart to share with you.

I’m so grateful how my oldest daughter sat with me for an hour (granted it was for a school assignment) and led me through a goal-making session. I’d never really done that before and it felt so good to accomplish those goals. I prayed over my accountability team and am humbled to say that all three of my friends are still “in it” with me! I’ve given myself grace when I haven’t kept up with my weekly blog posts…cuz…life. I’ve maintained connection between what I’ve written about and the validity of God’s word and the truth of His Scripture.

I write because I can’t not write.

I share my stories because I’m the only who can.

I become vulnerable with my readers to remind them that they are not alone in this world; they aren’t the “only ones” struggling.

I want to connect with you because we are way more than the house we live in, the car we drive, the schools our kids went to, the job we have or don’t have, the balance in our bank account, the fab Instagram pics on our feed…and so on and so on.

We are together a collection of beautiful creations made in the image of God. 

And seriously, I think sitting at a coffee shop with a friend for hours and hours, is one of love languages ~ so let’s meet up!!

If we were sitting across from each other sharing our hearts, I would tell you how much you are loved by the Lord. I would squeeze your hand and tell you that you are gonna be okay. I would thank you for listening to my words and I would thank you for sharing yours with me.

And huge thanks to my youngest daughter who has patiently taught me the basic nuances of canva and creating better graphics! I’ll be going to her for future graphic design help in the future (stay tuned!)

I can hardly wait to see what is coming next for me in this ministry. Writing, speaking, traveling, and some new things on the horizon ~ God is the great organizer and His timing is always perfect! I’d love for you to continue along for the ride ~ and to ask for your prayers as I navigate into this next year.

Psalm 121:8 declares, The Lord will guard your going out and your coming in [everything that you do] From this time forth and forever.

What is it that you are called to do? Why not start today! You are needed to share with your community and circles of influence. You are the only one who can tell your story, so tell it girl! Let today be your anniversary of saying yes!

Blessings,

René

Blog-aversary #4!
{Photo by Erik Brolin on Unsplash}

 

 

 

 

{Photo by Erik Brolin on Unsplash}

 

Christian Communicators, Christian Mentors, College age women, Millenials, Moms, Parents, Public Speaking, Stay at Home Moms, Students, Teachers, Uncategorized, women, Women in Ministry, Women's Ministries, Writers

Keep On Keepin’ On…

Mom?

Mom?

Mooooooommmmmm!!!

MomMomMomMomMomMomMom!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Every single child has the ability to be persistent. Not necessarily the virtues and how to be politely persistent, but they’ve totally got the concept down to a science!

Let me ask you this question….how persistent are you with Jesus?

Do you ask Him something? Pray about a situation you are going through? Talk to Him about the hardships of life? How about questioning Him about the plans He has for you?

Do you ask Him once? Twice?

Do you talk to Jesus so much that you are so busy talking and thinking about your own stuff that you aren’t quiet enough to hear that He’s actually trying to answer you?

Just like with a small child who keeps calling out for Mom or Dad or whomever their caretaker is; they are so preoccupied with their own need and what they want to ask or what they desire to happen that they cannot hear the response. I’m very thankful that Jesus never responds to me like I did sometimes with my kids…you know what I mean…that exasperated (and sometimes loud) “WHAT??? What do you want?”

But in God’s Word, He asks us to be persistent. Check out the same verse in two versions:

Matthew‬ ‭7:7-8‬ ‭TPT {The Passion Translation} says, ““Ask, and the gift is yours. Seek, and you’ll discover. Knock, and the door will be opened for you. For every persistent one will get what he asks for. Every persistent seeker will discover what he longs for. And everyone who knocks persistently will one day find an open door.”

Persistent Seeker…

In the Amplified Version (AMP) it says, “For everyone who keeps on asking receives, and he who keeps on seeking finds, and to him who keeps on knocking, it will be opened.”

‭‭Everyone who keeps on…

But here’s the key ~ it’s not just about the persistence.

We must be willing to seek and knock. And we must be willing to wait.

In these verses it doesn’t say that the answers we seek, the path we are looking for, or the doors we knock on, will be opened immediately. It just tells us that they “will be opened.”

Take a quick minute and do a little activity for me ~ it’s easy and you don’t even have to get up…

Open both of your hands to where your left and right cute little pinky fingers are touching. Now stretch out your thumbs as far as they will go. Imagine that your left thumb is the day you were born and your right thumb is the day you will meet Jesus face to face.

The span of your whole life is in the palm of the mighty hands of Jesus. And He sees your WHOLE life ALL at once! We only get one day at a time. We have no idea what will happen even five minutes from now let alone 5 years from now. But Jesus does. He can look at us and see our whole life all at the same time. He knows whether or not that the thing you are asking Him to do right now is good for you or not.

When Jesus says ‘No’ to us, it feels like a punishment sometimes. But because He sees our whole life, He knows when to say no to the things that will cause us harm in the future. We have to trust Him with the no’s as much, or possibly even more than, the ‘yeses’ we get from Him.

When we become persistent seekers of God, our mind and heart will be at rest with Him instead of being on the bus to crazy town when we make our life all about our self.

A persistent seeker of God reaches beyond what is seen and sweetly leans into the comfort of knowing that God has the best for us. This is not to say that life will easy when we are trusting Jesus. In fact, scripture promises that there will be hard times and difficult circumstances (Hebrews 6:12; Isaiah 43:2) but we will not be taken out by them. Only God knows what is for our good and what would be a detriment to our life.

I can’t help think about that old country song, “Sometimes I thank God for unanswered prayers.” Oh my word friends! Just think back to prayers you used to pray in high school…and who you might’ve dated or married had God not intervened!  Seriously! I’m not saying that they were bad people, just that the Lord knew best and knew who would be the right one for you! Maybe you don’t even have to look back that far…maybe that song phrase resonates with something you prayed for last week and now you can clearly see that it was for your good that God didn’t give you what you asked for!

Persistent Seeker…

Let those words truly sink in.

Do you see that it doesn’t use the verbiage of being a ‘persistent asker’ ~ yes we are to ask the Lord for guidance, direction, future plans, anything really! But we are to first be seekers of what God has for us.

I actually just laughed out loud right now as I imaged the sweet face of my grandma. She used to say, “Ask any question that you want, but always be prepared for a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’ answer.” She first said that to me when I asked one of my daughters (when they were a toddler) if they wanted to take their bath. I was completely baffled when my sweet child looked at me and quite confidently said, “No thank you.” What? Politeness aside…what?

But it was a great lesson for me in the art of ‘asking’!
‬‬

Before I sign off for today, let’s go back and really sit with The Passion Translation of Matthew‬ ‭7:7-8‬ ~

““Ask, and the gift is yours.

~ The Lord wants to give us good gifts…gifts that will glorify Him through our lives.

Seek, and you’ll discover.

~ When we seek the scriptures we will absolutely discover every answer we are looking for. It’s all there. It’s always been there. When you have those “aha” moments, highlight the verse and put the date down so you can come back to it and remember what God did for you on that day.

Knock, and the door will be opened for you.

~ Walking over the threshold of knowledge in God’s word is the best door you can walk through. Jesus wants to invite you in to share in those good words but He also wants to be invited in to the living room of your heart.

For every persistent one will get what he asks for.

~ We are called to have enduring tenacity before the Lord. But after we have truly sought after what is best for us through scripture, we will come to know what we need to be persistently asking for. However, when we get so off track, sometimes the Lord will give us that thing we are begging for even though He knows it won’t be good for us. That is a painful place we put our Father into, but He is there through it all with open loving arms when we return to Him, trusting Him for what we truly need.

Every persistent seeker will discover what he longs for.

~ As we daily seek scripture and spend time in prayer with the Lord, He will not disappoint us by keeping secrets.  He longs to reveal to us the plans He has for us. Jeremiah 29:11-14 {AMP} For I know the plans and thoughts that I have for you,’ says the Lord, ‘plans for peace and well-being and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call on Me and you will come and pray to Me, and I will hear [your voice] and I will listen to you. Then [with a deep longing] you will seek Me and require Me [as a vital necessity] and [you will] find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you,’ says the Lord, ‘and I will restore your fortunes and I will [free you and] gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you,’ says the Lord, ‘and I will bring you back to the place from where I sent you into exile.’

Anywhere in scripture where you read that Jesus ‘will’ do something…He absolutely will! He will hear your prayers. He will hear your unique voice, be it a whisper, a groaning, a celebration, or a cry of desperation. He hears you!

And everyone who knocks persistently will one day find an open door.”

~ The Lord may have you in a season where you are about to go through a new door. I myself feel that I am in that place and boy oh boy do I want that door to open. TODAY! But I have walked with the Lord long enough to know that if I kick that door down before He opens it before me, I will miss the true beauty of what is next for me. Humans are inpatient. That is why we need our companion of the Holy Spirit to quiet our minds and remind us of the beauty that is in the waiting.

And hey, windows are to be looked out of or in to…not climbed out of. When the door isn’t opening yet, don’t be tempted to use that proverbial window. When God opens the door that you have been persistently knocking on, you know it will be the right time to walk through in the fullness of all He has planned for you.

Be persistent, be a seeker, be a door-knocker ~ but first be obedient to His plans in all that you do.

Blessings,

René
What door are you knocking on