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

Sharing God’s Truth without Compromise…part 1

I recently taught in our adult Sunday school class at church and wanted to now share it with you all!

I’ve been gripped lately on what it means to share the truth of God’s Word ~ WITHOUT COMPROMISE!  And not just with the world around us, but within the Christian communities we are a part of. And yes, there’s plenty of compromise that goes on within the church communities regarding the Word of God. But we’ll get to that…

So here goes Part 1 of 4 ~ hope you join me and let me know how you share God’s Truth without compromise.

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J.J. Packer once said, “There is a difference between knowing God and knowing about God. When you truly know God, you have energy to serve Him, boldness to share Him, and contentment in Him.”

This can be one of those topics that is both simple and difficult at the same time. It is simple because we simply need to look and see what God’s Word says about life and this world and live accordingly. But it is difficult because there are so many in our world today who view Christianity through an incredibly negative lens.

The reason why that is the case, is because we have not as a community of Christians, of believers, of people who are supposed to be Christ minded, have not set a good example. So many people walk around with the idea that, “What do I need to be saved from?” “Don’t tell me I’m a sinner.”, and my favorite, “Well I’m not as bad as that person.” I know I have been guilty of that mindset more often than I care to admit.

In Part 1, I would like to talk about how we share the truth of the Good News with people who have not come to know who Jesus really. People who we work with, neighbors, people in our family. There are so many different ways that we can share the Good News of God’s Word without compromise and without coming across as ultra-judgmental either.

Even though the fact is that we are all sinners with a need for the reconciliating power of salvation – and so many in the world do not want to admit this – it is better to have this realization in your life while you are here on this earth and deal with it here instead of waiting until the ultimate day of judgment after you have left this earth and stand before Jesus.

A very difficult concept to wrap around our mind is the idea of people that we know who die without being saved and the fact that we will not see them again in heaven. I think of the depth of sadness that my father experienced at the death of his father, knowing that he would never see him again after his death. As a parent, and as someone who has attended just a few funerals for non-Christian people, it is absolutely heartbreaking to me when I see the children of that person look up to the ceiling with comments like, “Well Mom, wherever you are I hope you’re doing well.”

Honestly, it was not until I was 31 years old that I attended such a funeral. I was completely heartbroken for these young 20-something children that they had nothing to give them hope of ever seeing their mother again. The entire family was not saved so it was not something that they had ever really talked about, but it was heartbreaking nonetheless.

I am beyond grateful that my children and my future grandchildren will never have to say that about me.

So how do we share Jesus with people who don’t know Him? One thing that has been encouraging to me is watching the way that my daughter Savannah shares the gospel. Very, very rarely {if at all} these days does she ever start a conversation with, “I’m a Christian so let me tell you about Christ.” Because the term “Christians”really puts people on edge.

What she has found is when she simply talks about Jesus, most of the time it completely changes the course that the conversation will take. She will say things like, “Well you asked me what the difference is in my life and I can honestly tell you the difference is that I really love Jesus. Have you heard about Jesus?”

In Philippians 2:9-11 Amplified Bible (AMP) It talks about how powerful the name of Jesus is: “For this reason also [because He obeyed and so completely humbled Himself], God has highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus [a]EVERY KNEE SHALL BOW [in submission], of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess and openly acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord (sovereign God), to the glory of God the Father.”

There is power every time we say His name. The mighty Name of Jesus.

There is power because of not only who He is but what He has done to save us and reconcile us back into relationship with Him. When you tell people that you love Jesus and then why, it is usually incredibly compelling. People don’t want to have verses and laws and rules quoted at them. They want to hear about experiences and feelings and a life altering moment.

This does not mean you have to have some crazy, sensational kind of testimony, it simply means you have a story to tell about who you are because of who Jesus is.

A few years ago I heard a speaker say, “If the testimony you share is the same one you’ve been sharing for the past 10 years, what does your relationship with Jesus really look like?”

They went on to say that our testimony should continually be changed and updated as we live our life for and with Christ. Our testimony is somethings that is supposed to be new and fresh all the time. The only way for that to be a reality is if we are in a relationship with Jesus where we are actively in conversation with Him and available to the Holy Spirit who can work in and through us, every day.

The Bible is filled with encouragement as to how to share God’s Truth. One verse I love is 1 Corinthians 16:13-14‬ ‭{AMP‬‬} “Be on guard; stand firm in your faith [in God, respecting His precepts and keeping your doctrine sound]. Act like [mature] men and be courageous; be strong. Let everything you do be done in love [motivated and inspired by God’s love for us].”‬‬
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That last sentence is key in being without compromise as we share the truths of God’s Word with others. Everything, not just the easy stuff, but everything we do must be done in love “motivated and inspired by God’s love for us.”

We have the absolute best gift in the world and we don’t share it! I know I have shrunk back at times, from being vocal about my belief in the Lord and how He has worked in my life. For what? Fear that people will think I’m a crazy Jesus freak? A conservative Christian who’s clueless about things “really” work in this world?

So lame of me! Jesus’ death and resurrection will always trump any possible embarrassment I may feel on this earth. If I’m sharing HIM with others, it’s not up to me how they receive HIM…it’s up to me to share.

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Be on the lookout for part 2!  It’s coming soon!!

Blessings,

René

 

 

 

 

Christian Mentors, College age women, Moms, Parents, Stay at Home Moms, Teachers, Uncategorized, women, Women's Ministries, Writers

The Audience of One…

Have you ever heard that saying, “You’re getting too big for your britches?”

I heard it A LOT from my great-grandmother, Mrs. Hildegard Hentschke Reid ~ my sweet little German grandma ~ “Little girl, you are getting too big for your britches.  You need to mind your grandma right now.” Let’s just say I think I was born was a sassy attitude!

So where is this all coming from?

Well, as I was driving around in my car today, listening to a fantastic podcast (shout out to @wearedeclare @declarepodcast) on getting your goals organized in the new year, I started to wonder why I haven’t been writing. Like, writing anything. Before yesterday, I hadn’t posted since the end of October 2018. I’ve got two book proposals that have sat untouched since the about the same time as well. Why? I have plenty of ideas that I jot down in my “Blog Ideas” Notes app. Everyday, there is something the Lord brings to mind that I think could easily become a blog or Instagram post. But why do I choose to watch tv or play word search games on my phone?

Fear and Pride. Plain and simple…that’s the answer. But where did that come from?

Well, back to my drive in the car that prompted all of this.

I clearly heard the Lord speak to my heart and say, “You must remove that last post from your account. But keep it in the ‘trash’ section to remind yourself that you are always one temptation away from thinking you can live this calling on your own.”

Whoa!

So when I got home, I did just that. And I’ll tell you why.

Back in October of last year, I had listened to a podcast where a speaker/writer wrote a blog that unexpectedly went viral. She didn’t have a lot of readers on her blog as it was so it was a complete shock that this was happening. Her friends and family were clogging up her text feed with tons of comments and “Whoa, you broke your blogsite! Congrats!” And within a short period of time, she was being booked on podcasts, being interviewed in magazines and the local paper, and published her first book. The book publisher came to her…not the other way around. Part of her encouragement to the listeners was to write/speak what God was putting on your heart because you never know what will happen with it and who will read it.

Well, if she could do it, by golly, so could I!

I will say that the topic I wrote about was something that had been really bothering me (basically, all the ways we as Christians are not acting like the global body of Christ that He intends us to be).

But here’s where pride came in…

The whole time I was writing, I was NOT writing to my “audience of One” ~ nope ~ I was writing to the “hoped for audience of thousands”.

Honestly, I wanted to be discovered. I wanted to be known.

I wanted my blog post to go viral. I think I even posted links to the blog a few times via my IG and FB accounts. So much pride that what I wrote was going to turn the tide of insincere Christianity. Yet, I was being incredibly insincere with every key stroke in that blog post.

Then came in the fear…

No responses came in for that post. What if people were reading it but thought I was off my rocker and decided to not like my posts anymore. So I checked, and there were only two views. TWO!

{I’m pretty sure one of them was my own when I went in to copy the url address to add that to some IG posts and a few texts.}

When I first started blogging back in August of 2015, each post idea was prayed over and prayed over again before publishing.  I had a banner first year! {Go figure!}. The following May, my middle daughter was home from her time at YWAM and she said that she noticed I checked my WordPress stats all the time. I was a bit defensive at first (that should’ve told me something right then!) but I knew the Lord was using her to speak to me. She asked me that all important question, “Who are your writing for?” We talked a lot then about the “Audience of One” ~ the fact that it was the Lord who’d given me the talent to write and He would be the one to do something with it or not. My daughter then challenged me to not look at my WordPress stats for the entire month of June and to return to my first love…return to writing for the Lord…my audience of One.

By the end of that month, I had recaptured my joy of writing and was completely confident that if no one read what I wrote, I was still being obedient to the Lord because this is something He has called me to do for Him. And that was perfectly fine with me.

Fast forward a few years and I have admittedly gotten wrapped up in the numbers…again! If God keeps giving me ideas and things to write about, why don’t other people read it? I mean, my close friends and family read it but it’s not like I’m getting hundreds of people every day reading my posts. I allowed dissatisfaction to creep in. I allowed fear of failure to settle over my mind. And for all intense-and-purposes, I stopped writing.

September/October 2018 were great in that I began to edit my book proposal in order to prepare for a writer’s conference I was going to. I knew I needed to make it worth the time and money spent ~ and boy oh boy was it! (Thank you @declareconference) The speakers and the attendees I met there were phenomenal! So what happened to all that enthusiasm when I got home?

I allowed the enthusiasm to turn into pride.

I absolutely want to go to this conference again, but before I make the commitment to go, I must maintain my commitment to what God has asked me to do. To stick with my calling as He gives it, is what matters.

I’m thankful that the Lord has given me grace while I walked around “too big for my britches” for most of 2018, and has shown my heart mercy. I’m thankful for His discipline and His instructions today as I drove around doing errands. I know that one day He’ll lead me to permanently “empty the trash” in my WordPress account, but for today, it is a beautiful reminder to me ~ when I removed God from the calling, the calling becomes a resounding gong…and nobody wants to listen to that.

My friends, through this window of vulnerability, may I encourage you to see what you need to “put in the trash” and what you need to do to return to the joy of the calling that God has on your life. We all have different gifts and talents, but here’s a little secret…as Believers, we ALL have the same calling ~

To know God, and to make Him known.

How am I doing that today? How are YOU going to do that today? I’d love to hear from you…to encourage you and pray for you! And even if I don’t hear from a single human being…I am truly okay with that too!

Live out your calling to the Audience of One!

 

Blessings,

René

 

psalm 89 verse 1

 

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

I have Superpowers…

Yep…you heard it here first…I have superpowers!

In fact, we all do! Our superpower is who God uniquely created us to be.  The fun part about our superpowers is discovering how God intends for me to use it!

We are a “movie family” ~ like, we really really really LOVE going to the movies. Even if my husband wasn’t in the entertainment industry, I think we would still be avid movie-goers. When we were first married our weekend consisted of at least one movie night but sometimes up to three movies between Friday-Sunday depending on how many new movies were coming out. Our movie date nights were a hard thing to give up when we our family began to grow, but we still managed to get out at least once a month.  I know I know…first world problems.

At any rate, one of our family fave genres is the Super Hero movies ~ we’ve pretty much seen them all (but Marvel has our favorite characters…although my girls and I are fairly partial to Wonder Woman…can ya blame me…she’s amazing! And as a mom, what I wouldn’t have done to get my hands on the Lasso of Truth!!!)

There’s always something that happens, some experiment gone wrong, someone gets bit by some crazy insect, someone gets hit by lightening ~ and THEN…dundundunnnnnnn…superpowers arrive. I love that bit of the movie where they show a montage of the new superhero discovering their powers for the first time. They are usually pretty freaked out by their new abilities but eventually they lean into them, they push the boundaries to see how far they can go, and then they have to decide if they are going to pursue a life that includes their new power or keep it hidden.

For instance, in the first “Iron Man” movie, the character of Tony Stark almost dies in an explosion, but is helped by a crazy-smart scientist who helps him stay alive because of this power device he puts in Tony’s chest. Yeah, I would freak out too if I woke up from thinking I was dead and look down to see a glowing sphere coming out of the middle of my chest! Anyway, as the movie proceeds, there’s all sorts of bad guys that need to be taken care and good guys that want Iron Man on their team, but nobody knows who Iron Man really is because he fly’s around in a metal suit. When the secret is out to a small group of people, every government agency wants them on their side. Tony Stark has to choose what he’s going to do. After a huge battle and Iron Man victory ensues, Tony is supposed to make a brief statement that although his multi-million dollar company is involved with Iron Man, no one knows the true identity of this superhero. It’s all carefully written out on 3×5 index cards. He’s supposed to stick to the script. Of course he doesn’t.

The last line of the movie, as reporters are yelling out, “Who is Iron Man? Where did he come from?” etc., Tony Stark looks right at the camera and with a twinkle in his eye and conviction in his voice, “I am Iron Man.”

Hope you’re still reading this because it’s about to get really good ~ I’m about to reveal your superpower to you!!

It’s been in God’s Word this whole time ~ have you read it?

I Peter 4:10 {amp} declares, “Just as each one of you has received a special gift [a spiritual talent, an ability graciously given by God], employ it in serving one another as [is appropriate for] good stewards of God’s multi-faceted grace [faithfully using the diverse, varied gifts and abilities granted to Christians by God’s unmerited favor]. “

  1. You HAVE received a special gift
  2. God has graciously GIVEN it to you
  3. EMPLOY it by serving others
  4. Be a good STEWARD of your gift
  5. You have MORE than one spiritual gift to use
  6. OPERATE within God’s unmerited favor

There it is! One thing I know for sure is that when God promises us something either in His Word or when He speaks into our life, He is good on His word. His promises are ALWAYS fulfilled!

Just like an superhero in a movie, there are some bumps and bruises that come with the territory as they are “trying out” their new abilities, we very well may experience some bumps and bruises too.

And that’s exactly when the enemy comes along and tries to make us think that we aren’t as strong as we thought we were. Or that we don’t really have anything special to add to our little corner of this planet.  DON’T BELIEVE THE LIE!!

In 1 Timothy 4:4-5 {amp}, hear what the Lord says about you ~ For everything God has created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with gratitude; for it is sanctified [set apart, dedicated to God] by means of the word of God and prayer.

YOU are a part of the ‘everything’ this verse refers to. God has called you and you have been set apart and dedicated to Him to do good things!

You are good and will not be rejected!

You can believe this because of another passage of scripture that tells us why you will always be seen as good and worthy. You are created in God’s own image!! Genesis 1:27 {amp} says, “So God created man in His own image, in the image and likeness of God He created him; male and female He created them.”

You don’t have to compete with anyone; God did not create you to be in competition with any of His creation.

There is only ONE of you & YOU are needed on this planet at this very place & time!

Still not sure what your ‘superpowers’ are ~ well, look no further than (okay…actually do look further at all the scriptures, but this is just a phenomenal place to start!)

Romans 12:6-13 {amp} ~ “Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to use them accordingly: if [someone has the gift of] prophecy, [let him speak a new message from God to His people] in proportion to the faith possessed; if service, in the act of serving; or he who teaches, in the act of teaching; or he who encourages, in the act of encouragement; he who gives, with generosity; he who leads, [a]with diligence; he who shows mercy [in caring for others], with cheerfulness. Love is to be sincere and active [the real thing—without guile and hypocrisy]. Hate what is evil [detest all ungodliness, do not tolerate wickedness]; hold on tightly to what is good. Be devoted to one another with [authentic] brotherly affection [as members of one family], give preference to one another in honor; never lagging behind in diligence; aglow in the Spirit, enthusiastically serving the Lord; constantly rejoicing in hope [because of our confidence in Christ], steadfast and patient in distress, devoted to prayer [continually seeking wisdom, guidance, and strength], contributing to the needs of God’s people, pursuing [the practice of] hospitality.”

In every single superhero movie, all of them have different abilities. When one goes rouge, it messes up the team. But when they all come together, to work together for the good of the people they are trying to save, they are unstoppable!!

People of God ~ our greatest power will be found when we work together within the Body of Christ! Let’s stop trying to figure out who’s the foot, who’s the eye, who’s the arm, who’s the one with the great head of hair, or who gets to wear the cape! Let’s work together to keep the spine of the Body strong. When our spine is out of alignment, we cannot complete the tasks that are set before us in a cohesive way. We need to be men and women working side by side to bring about the Good News of the Gospel! When we do this, we will be unstoppable!!

So lean into your ‘superpowers’ today ~ put on your armor and fight!! There are people out there that God is calling you to welcome into the saving grace of salvation ~ and He has given you the gifts and talents to accomplish it!!

Stand tall, belt out that battle cry and be the Warrior that God created you to be!!

Blessings,

René

1 Peter 4 verse 10

{image found on googleimages by Revealing HIM}

Christian Mentors, Moms, Parents, Public Speaking, Stay at Home Moms, Teachers, Uncategorized, Women's Ministries, Writers

Authentic Joy…

What come to your mind when you hear the word ‘joy’?

Candy ~ Almond joy?

Songs ~ Joyful Joyful We Adore Thee

Or different variations of the word JOY ~ happiness? Delight? Pleasure? Enjoyment? Bliss?

Or maybe on a more serious note, you’re wondering when the last time it was that you actually felt joyful?

So much of the idea of success in the world today is based on individualized aspects…What makes you happy? What lights you up? What moves you? What’s your passion? What drives you? Do those things!

But what happens on the mornings when you wake up and the answer to those questions are a big fat nothing? Then what do you do?

John 15:11 says “I have told you these things so that My joy and delight may be in you, and that your joy may be made full and complete and overflowing.”

So this is what I want to focus on the blog today ~ how to have joy everyday no matter what the circumstances.

Joy is defined as, “the emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying; keen pleasure; elation; a source or cause of keen pleasure or delight; something or someone greatly valued or appreciated; the expression or display of glad feeling; festive gaiety.”

There are over 300 references to ‘joy’ in the Bible, so I’m going to throw it out there, this is something that is important to the Lord…something that He wants us to understand and embrace for our benefit. As opposed to the word ‘happiness’ which is only mentioned a mere eight times. Joy and Happiness are totally different…even though the definition of Joy contains the word happiness.

Happiness is fleeting and is usually attached to an event or how a person makes us feel.

Joy on the other hand, is a state of being. It is a way we can feel no matter what circumstances we are experiencing.

Oh…but there’s one more word I want to touch on before I share a story with you ~ FEELING.

The most important thing I can tell you about feelings is that many times, okay, most times, they aren’t to be trusted as the absolute in how we respond to a situation. Feelings are temporary. I love the quote, “Never make permanent decisions based on temporary feelings.”

Let me tell you a little story ~

In January 1999, we were six months in to living in our dream home in Pasadena…white picket fence and all. My husband had a great job in the entertainment industry, money wasn’t an issue, we had two healthy daughters and decided to try for a third. Life was fantastic. I was so happy because I had everything I wanted. Did ya catch how many “I’s” were in that last sentence??

And then God decided to change the course of our life. It wasn’t horrible, but it was hard!

My husband came home one evening and said, “I’ve been praying a lot lately and I really feel that God wants me to quit my job and open my own company. I know this will mean that we will have to trade in our cars for less expensive ones and figure out if we can keep the kids in private school, oh yeah, and we’ll have to sell the house.”

Well, he told me how he felt, so I was gonna tell him how I felt…

I can still picture the scene in my mind; he was standing by the staircase and I was one stair up so we were just about eye to eye. I non-to-politely (honestly, I was downright rude about it), told him that he couldn’t possibly be hearing from God and I didn’t care what he felt because he was wrong. It was definitely NOT one of my proudest moments as a supportive Christian wife. But my husband truly loves me like Jesus does and he was so patient with me.

He just smiled, asked me to pray about it, and said that when I was ready to talk about it, to let him know.

That made me FEEL so mad!

Had I allowed my feelings to continue to prevail, I would have missed out on experiencing what true Joy can be.

It took the next 9 months to deal with all the things that I was feeling. How my heart ached at the thought of selling our dream home and moving again. How sad I was to be losing a very comfortable salary. Then I started realizing that all the things that were making me sad, were just things. I would still have my family and how could I walk away from doing what the Lord had asked us to do.

To step out in faith requires that we operate in the Fruit of the Spirit. Galatians 5:22-23a says, “But the fruit of the Spirit [the result of His presence within us] is love [unselfish concern for others], joy, [inner] peace, patience [not the ability to wait, but how we act while waiting], kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”

I love how the Amplified version of the Bible describes peace as being something “inner” ~ and what is on the inside of us is what ends up coming to fruition on the outside of us. Through this passage we can see that authentic joy has nothing to do with our happiness; it has everything to do with where our identity comes from.

The worst thing my husband said to me that night was that we would have to sell our house. It was MY house. I had big plans (literally…we had just finished paying for an architect to draw up remodeling plans a few weeks prior). I had already imagined our future Christmases, our girls coming down the staircase for prom & taking pictures in front of the Batchehelder fireplace, how incredible our back yard would look as we hosted friends and family for their weddings amidst fragrant bouquets of flowers and covered in a canopy of fairy lights.

I felt cheated. I felt mad. I felt slighted. I felt my dreams weren’t important.

And for what….a house?

The last day of work for my husband at his original job, was November 19, 2000. For the next decade, I learned quite intimately how I must trust the Lord to be my strength, my hope, my delight, my joy.

Proverbs 10:28 is quite thought-provoking, “The hope of the righteous [those of honorable character and integrity] is joy, But the expectation of the wicked [those who oppose God and ignore His wisdom] comes to nothing.”

Yeah, the Holy Spirit doesn’t mince words here.

And I battled between spiritual integrity and selfish expectations for a long time. It was not pretty.

On the outside, I would plaster on that happy face. But deep down, and many days it bubbled barely beneath the surface, I was angry. And I’m sure you know this…but you cannot be both angry and joyful at the same time. It’s like expecting to bite into a luscious donut and all you get is tofu…they don’t go together…like at all…ever!

Why did we have to struggle so much? Paying our bills, the mortgage, keeping food in the fridge, and gas in the car….seriously? Didn’t GOD tell my husband to quit a perfectly good job and create a new one? Wasn’t it GOD that whispered to the heart of my husband to do his work for Him?  How can GOD direct us to start a Christian company and not bless it?  I mean, really. I was even dyeing & cutting my own hair (oh yeah…it was not a good look…) and stopped getting manicures.

I knew it was petty. I knew that God was in charge. I knew that we would receive blessings from God that would be nothing less than miraculous. I knew all of that in my head, but my heart was in complete denial & filled with frustration pretty much every day.

Proverbs 17:22 summed up my life, “A happy heart is good medicine and a joyful mind causes healing, But a broken spirit dries up the bones.”

Well, the second half of that verse sums up my life for far too long.

We moved ~ God graced us with a beautiful new home.

We tried for a third child and had a healthy daughter.

Our cars were different but they were great ~ and paid for!

Our girls were able to remain at their private school ~ total miracle.

We had the support of our church community.

And I still loved my husband.

Things were looking up.

Then the ceiling in our kitchen started to fall down…because of a burst water pipe…from the upstairs bathroom…

Really?

Happiness disappeared like a vapor and Joy…inner peace…that wasn’t even part of the plan anymore. I moved into survival mode.

For the next 18 months, the Lord took us down a road that I still look back on in amazement. Within the first few weeks, I realized that I needed to change my perspective real quick or I was going to implode.

Actually, I didn’t realize it on my own…thankfully I have wonderful mentors and friends who spoke hard truth to my deaf ears and hardened heart. God wasn’t punishing me, my husband, or our family. He was using this time to prune out of my heart what didn’t need to be there in order for His purposes to be completed within me and throughout my life as a witness for Him.

I was broken but knew deep down I was still blessed. I had to pray often for my joy to be renewed. Very often in the beginning!

Psalm 16:11 promises this, “You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forevermore.”

Where is my joy? It’s in His presence.

Where are the pleasures of life? In His right hand.

Hello! Life changer right there!

We lived in a local hotel for 6 months then moved to a furnished apartment for one year while our house/kitchen went through insurance denials, mold abatement, insurance stalemates, lots of waiting, finally remodeling, then suing the insurance company and moving back home.

I had to learn how to have joy ~ a joy that didn’t come from anything around me or from anything I could produce. I had to rely on the Lord to move within my heart, mind, and soul to create His perfect joy.

I had to ask Him for it…and He gladly answered that prayer!

Part of my responsibility as a wife was to be a support to my husband however I could…happy wife happy life…but not just happy…joyful. As a Mom, my daughters needed as much stability in their lives as possible. At 2, 6, and 8, none of it made sense.  And sleeping together in a pull-out sofa lost its charm pretty quick!

What’s a momma to do…pray!

So I found things I could be joyful about…

Living in a hotel meant I had room/cleaning service…every day!

Apartment laundry rooms meant I could get 15 loads of laundry done in about 3 hours instead of 12…yeah…Every.Week!

Apartment living meant it only took 45 minutes to clean house instead of all day at home.

In both locations, I brought in photos from home and hung them on the wall with those fabulous 3m hooks. I brightened up the beige walls of the apartment entry way with big colorful maps of the USA and one of the world that I found at Costco. I restored part of my sanity by donning a mask & going to our house and getting my sewing machine so I could be creative. I mean, I had all that “free time” that I didn’t have to spend doing laundry or cleaning, right!?!

One of the best ways that the Lord humbled me to learn how to receive His joy was to receive help from others. I didn’t want to be a charity case. But a very wise friend reminded me of how I felt when I was able to bless others with a home-cooked meal, or free babysitting, or a paid-for date night…people wanted to do that for our family now. It’s hard to be on the receiving end, but it’s so worth it.

My attitude began to change and I began to see our reality through the lens of authentic joy. A joy that is not borne out of circumstances, but out of following Christ and choosing to be obedient to what He calls me to walk through.

Once we were able to move back into our house, our life didn’t suddenly become easy.  The money struggles were still there but my husband and I would pray, “Okay Lord, you love to show off to Your children how well you can provide…let’s see what You’re going to do this time!” And we really meant it! And He would always come through. There isn’t enough time to recount the miracles of how God provided for our family during that decade, but it was phenomenal!

Just one quick story, that is still a bit emotional for me to think about, was how we literally had no food in the fridge. We finished up the last of the cereal, eggs, and milk, and used up the rest of what we had to make three little lunches for our girls to take to school. My husband and I prayed before I left to take the girls to school, that God would provide a miracle for us to be able to feed our family. I won’t lie, we were nervous but we trusted God.

As I exited car line and went down a side street, I pulled over and cried and knew I needed to discard my pride and call my parents to help us…and now that I have grown children, there really isn’t an age where that momma heart doesn’t kick in to want to help out your kiddos.

As I held the phone in my hands praying for God to give me the courage to call, it rang…it was my husband…he said, “Everything is great and I’m fine, but you need to come to the office before you go home.” I told him I was about to call my mom about the grocery dilemma and he told me to “wait. Come to the office.” Fine!

I pulled in and walked slowly to his office. He sat there with tears streaming down his face holding a card in his hands. He held it out to my and said, “Just open it.” It was a beautiful floral design, “Thinking of You” kind of card. Inside it read, “Dear Bancroft Family, You are always in my thoughts. Love, Jesus”. Then my husband handed me another little envelope that had been inside the card.

It was a $300 gift card to Ralphs grocery store, written on it with a black sharpie, “To the Bancroft’s ~ Love, Jesus”.

He provided more than enough.

And I still have the card as a reminder that Jesus sees our needs. And that He shops at Ralphs!

Romans 12:11-13, “never lagging behind in diligence; aglow in the Spirit, enthusiastically serving the Lord; constantly rejoicing in hope [because of our confidence in Christ], steadfast and patient in distress, devoted to prayer [continually seeking wisdom, guidance, and strength], contributing to the needs of God’s people, pursuing [the practice of] hospitality.”

I learned that there is no “last minute” with God ~ it might feel like MY last minute, but it’s His perfect timing! God has shown up for us every single time.

We have known plenty and we have known want.

But most importantly, we have always known that our joy rests in Him and not in our circumstances.

That is true authentic joy.

To trust the Lord with EVERYTHING! You don’t have to be happy when you go through difficult times, but it is possible to be joyfully content in the midst of the struggle.

Blessings,

René

Christian Mentors, Moms, Parents, Public Speaking, Stay at Home Moms, Teachers, Uncategorized, Women's Ministries, Writers

The Coffee Grinder of Life…

With all three of our children involved in coffee/food services, especially the two that work at coffee shops, we really have become coffee snobs. Only now when we are desperate for a cup of coffee (or receive a gift card) do we even step foot in the land of the little green mermaid…local shops are the place to be and a fresh brewed cup at home is even better! So pretty much every morning, we open our bag of organic, sustainable, fair trade coffee and pour those glorious beans into the coffee grinder for just what we need for the day.

And one day, I felt like I was those beans. I was feeling a bit “ground up” to tell you the truth. I’m thankful it doesn’t happen often, and I’m grateful the Lord helps me to recognize when I’m starting to go to down a particularly dark path in my mind. But that day, I resonated with coffee in a totally different way.

So hang with me here in my little revelation about the similarities between that awesome cup of coffee and the paths of our life…

A loving gardener tills the soil of his farm and prepares a beautiful space for the seeds of a coffee plant to grow. He waters the seeds and the plant begins to burst forth from the ground, first just a little sprout and then into a lovely fruitful plant. The tiny fruit that comes from the plant is what the coffee farmer has been waiting for. At just the right moment, when the coffee berries are ripe, they are plucked off the branches. Even though they are ripe, they must go through an extensive period where they are processed, and then dried. The dull green of the coffee bean is not super appetizing to look at, but it has all it needs to eventually become a fantastic cup of coffee.

Before that can happen though, those beans have to be poured out into a roasting machine. They are in there with a bunch of other beans, being pushed around by a rotating metal arm to make sure that each bean is perfectly roasted without being burned by the heat. They slowly gain a shiny, almost bronze-like, appearance and the aroma is delightful!!

But they still aren’t done! You can’t just pour some coffee beans into your favorite mug, pour hot water over them and expect to have great coffee!

Nope ~ those beautiful beans have to be ground up because that is when their true flavor and vitality can be experienced. Once they are ground up to perfection, they must now endure the slow process of near-boiling water cascading over and through the grounds. Then and only then, will you produce a spectacular nectar of rich, warm, coffee to begin your day with.

Whew! Okay…hang on…I gotta go pour myself another cup of coffee!

Guess what…we are that dull green coffee bean.

Sometimes I think that just because I’ve seen growth in my life that has transformed an area of my life from a seed into a tangible fruit, that should be enough. I don’t want any more transformation. It’s hard to work for an actual seed to push its way through the top soil, just like it’s hard for us to push ourselves towards those new goals God puts in our heart ~ but the growth is not the end. How God uses the fruit that He produces in our life is what our goal needs to be. He is the consummate Gardener of our life ~ He knows us from the inside out!

I know that I’m not the only one who has those days where you feel like you’ve been through an emotional grinder. One minute your shiny and whole, and the next your soul feels crushed to dust. When I’ve been at that point, there is usually always something that the Lord needs to sift me from. It could be forgiving someone, it could be asking forgiveness from someone, it could be repenting from sin that keeps repeating itself, it could be removing yourself from an unhealthy relationship or activity….so many things!

That’s the part I think most resembles the “hot water pour over” if you will. The slow yet intentional working of the Holy Spirit to work through us in order to produce the best parts of us. The fresh new perspective we need to do the work that He has called us to do. The aroma that HE wants us to have that will be pleasing to those in our circles of influence. That “coffee ring mark” that He wants us to leave on the hearts of those we minister to and share the gospel with.

So the next time you have your coffee, maybe you’ll think of what kind of coffee you are…

Are you “instant coffee” out of a jar that has lost its flavor and vitality but still tries to pass itself off as acceptable?

Or are you the shiny little bean that is perfectly ground in order to produce the most genuine and delightful cup of coffee?

You get to pick everyday! So choose well! Now go get a cup of coffee and take Jesus with you!!

Blessings,

René

 

Colossians 1:9-11, For this reason, since the day we heard about it, we have not stopped praying for you, asking [specifically] that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom [with insight into His purposes], and in understanding [of spiritual things], so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord [displaying admirable character, moral courage, and personal integrity], to [fully] please Him in all things, bearing fruit in every good work and steadily growing in the knowledge of God [with deeper faith, clearer insight and fervent love for His precepts]; [we pray that you may be] strengthened and invigorated with all power, according to His glorious might, to attain every kind of endurance and patience with joy;”

Colossians 1 verse 10

 

Christian Mentors, Moms, Parents, Public Speaking, Stay at Home Moms, Teachers, Uncategorized, Women's Ministries, Writers

Coming Home to a Clean House…

If you’ve ever gone on vacation or even an overnight somewhere and you get to stay in a nice hotel…well, picture that…

You walk in to an immaculately clean room, a crisply made bed, towels that are perfectly placed in the bathroom, a desk that has been meticulously laid out with items you may need….awwww…so relaxing!  Oh, and even better than this is the fact that every day you are there, you can return to a room that is all cleaned up for you!!

{And after getting into our room, my husband will run the water in the bathroom sink as hot as it’ll go, soak one of the washcloths and walk around the room cleaning off the remote, the light switches, the door knobs, etc. because of watching one of those news programs on hotel germs. lol!}

But…There’s nothing like coming HOME after time away, to a clean house!

My husband and kids still think it’s kind of a silly thing…but I’m gonna keep doing it! What is “it”?  IT is the process of cleaning house before we go out of town. I mean, if it’s only gonna be a couple days or an overnight, I don’t go as far as I usually do, but still…that toilet better be clean and all the dishes are at least out of the sink into the dishwasher! {Can I get an Amen for the dishwasher!}

A few days prior to leaving, I do the big stuff…dust, vacuum, mop, and start the laundry.  The night before (or morning of…depending on how early we have to leave) I make everyone strip their beds and put clean sheets on {and of course, make their beds up before we leave!}, and I also switch out all the bath towels for new ones. Then when we come home from our trip, we can walk in to a clean house. We don’t have to waste time cleaning up before we unpack. And if we arrive home late at night, we can easily slip under the covers into fresh, clean sheets!

As I prepare for the leaving…I also prepare for the return.

Colossians 3:15-17 is a beautiful picture of the fact that we are God’s dwelling place…Let the peace of Christ [the inner calm of one who walks daily with Him] be the controlling factor in your hearts [deciding and settling questions that arise]. To this peace indeed you were called as members in one body [of believers]. And be thankful [to God always]. Let the [spoken] word of Christ have its home within you [dwelling in your heart and mind—permeating every aspect of your being] as you teach [spiritual things] and admonish and train one another with all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Whatever you do [no matter what it is] in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus [and in dependence on Him], giving thanks to God the Father through Him.”

Every day we are here on this earth, we are preparing to do two things:

  1. We spend time with the Lord each day to prepare us for the day when we will finally meet Him face to face.
  2. We go out each day as a light to the world to show them Jesus.

In each aspect, we are preparing a clean house for the Lord to return to dwell in! Through salvation,  He is able to return to a relationship with us through His grace of reconciliation.

I mean, seriously, just read the first sentence in verse 15 above…”Let the peace of Christ [the inner calm of one who walks daily with Him] be the controlling factor in your hearts…”

Yes please! I’ll take some inner calm every day of the week!!

When I clear out the cob webs of deceit, the dust of doubt, the piles of unbelief ~ there is room for the Holy Spirit to release His calm direction in my life.

When I take care of allowing the Lord to wash away my sins with His unlimited forgiveness, there is room for the fresh blanket of His grace to be wrapped around my heart.

When I take the time to cultivate the Word into my daily life, I will be a sweet aroma not only to Him but to those around me.

But here’s the most beautiful part…

The Lord dwells within us at the exact moment we receive Him as our Savior.

The. Exact. Moment.

He doesn’t wait for housekeeping to tidy things up and remake the bed before He knocks at the door of our heart. We have the astounding privilege of opening the door of our life to Him EVEN IN THE MESS!!

When we are in a season of sweet communion with the Lord, [think…clean house…clean heart…clean mind…} our relationship with Him is right on track and it is easier to follow where He leads. Because let’s face it, a clean house means you aren’t tripping over the bag that needs to go to the donation center (yeah, totally did that this morning!) or having our senses blown away when we pass the garbage can that needs to be emptied.

But even when ~ and sometimes especially when ~ we haven’t taken good care of the dwelling place of our own heart and mind, the Lord is still there. The Holy Spirit remains in the mess. His whisper is harder to hear amidst the junk, but He still speaks to us.

What will it look like today for you to “clean house” in your heart?

Imagine what the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit will look like when He has space to freely roam. Think about how much easier it will be to hear what the Lord is saying to you when He doesn’t have to compete with the noise of the unnecessary. Picture the garden of promises that you are resting on from His Living Word instead of rusty old broken dreams.

Clean your house.

Refresh your soul.

Buy the flowers.

Drink your tea wrapped in a cozy blanket.

Invite people in.

Ephesians 2:19-22 paints a lovely image of being a part of God’s house…So then you are no longer strangers and aliens [outsiders without rights of citizenship], but you are fellow citizens with the saints (God’s people), and are [members] of God’s household,  having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus Himself as the [chief] Cornerstone,  in whom the whole structure is joined together, and it continues [to increase] growing into a holy temple in the Lord [a sanctuary dedicated, set apart, and sacred to the presence of the Lord].  In Him [and in fellowship with one another] you also are being built together into a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.”

Oh my friend…did you catch that? We are members of God’s household! He wants a place in our life and invites us to have a place with Him. What a treasure!!!

Don’t wait another day.  If you have never asked the Lord into your life, He’s ready for you right now! If you need a refresher of the Holy Spirit because you have felt distant from the Lord, just turn around and open the door of your heart because He’s standing right there!!  Jesus will always be ready to come in ~ He’s just waiting for you to invite Him to stay!!

Be in fellowship with God and with each other…both aspects will fortify your life in every way imaginable!

Blessings,

René

Ephesians 2 verse 22

Christian Mentors, Moms, Parents, Public Speaking, Stay at Home Moms, Teachers, Uncategorized, Women's Ministries, Writers

Words ~ the power to hurt or heal…

One of the little rhymes I heard as a child that I never understood {and actually, I really hated it!} was the one that goes, “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” Have you heard that one?

What a pile of rubbish!!!!

Words hurt sometimes!!! A lot!!! They cut deeper than we can imagine. Whether those words are spoken to our face, behind our back, or through the glorious glowing screens of social media platforms.

Words are powerful ~ not only do we need to be careful about what we say to others but {almost} more importantly, what we say to ourselves!

From the First5 devotional app, that I was reading today (Day 6 of Return to Refuge plan, by Kellye Schiffner Carver), she writes Habakkuk recalls God’s character and resolves to trust in Him.” This referred to Habakkuk 3:18-19, “Yet I will [choose to] rejoice in the LORD; I will [choose to] shout in exultation in the [victorious] God of my salvation! The Lord GOD is my strength [my source of courage, my invincible army]; He has made my feet [steady and sure] like hinds’ feet And makes me walk [forward with spiritual confidence] on my high places [of challenge and responsibility].”

Look at all of those positive things that Habakkuk speaks back to the Lord…characteristics that He has given us as His children…strength, courage, salvation, steady, sure, confident…not one thing uttered here is of discouragement.

How many times this month (or goodness sakes…just today!) have you said something negative over yourself? Maybe you don’t even realize you’re doing it because it’s become second nature?

Let me share a story…

For the many years of my adolescence & early adulthood, I truly believed I was ugly.  Not just slightly  unattractive or not really pretty…but really and truly ugly. I mean, I must be because people made fun of me for how I wore my hair, what clothes I wore to school, the gap in my front teeth, oh, and the fact that growing up our family didn’t eat sugar.  Like we were “that family” before eating healthy was cool.  We made our own peanut butter, my mom made cashew milk for our whole grain hot cereal, we made our own grain free granola.  Oh and the sugar free peanut butter was mostly enjoyed between TWO huge rice cakes! {Hello 1970’s when Whole Foods was only known at a few stores called Mrs. Gooch’s}!!

{all the glory that was me in the 8th grade!}

At any rate ~ the teasing was endless…the whispers were terrifyingly loud…my weirdness factor was off the charts.

It wasn’t until I was in my early 30’s that I was able to break free of the “I’m ugly” curse that I had spoken over my life. There were times in-between those years that I felt pretty, but not many…Senior Prom, Senior Pictures, my wedding day and honeymoon, and the days my three daughters were born. That’s about it.

Thanks to some super deep talks in the dark with my husband and some difficult conversations with a dear friend, they helped me walk out into the light of who God saw me as, who God called me to be, and who they saw me as. The hardest thing that my friend asked {okay…she TOLD} me to do was to say, “I’m fearfully and wonderfully made by God and I am beautiful.” But that wasn’t all of the mandate…I had to say to myself…IN THE MIRROR!

Ugh!

I had to look at myself and say it out loud…every…day! Until I could say it confidently without looking away and without disbelieving what I was saying. It took at least a month but maybe more. It was painful and I hated it. But I did it.

At first I did it because we were raising three little girls. I could see that it pained them whenever I said something demeaning about myself. My husband could see the far-reaching potential of those hateful things I said out loud about myself, and the affects they would have in our daughters’ lives. Only I had the power to change that. So I said the words. I said them until I began to see myself the way God did. The way my husband and children did. The way my true friends did.

I haven’t felt ugly since then.

Ephesians 4:29 {AMP} warns, “Do not let unwholesome [foul, profane, worthless, vulgar] words ever come out of your mouth, but only such speech as is good for building up others, according to the need and the occasion, so that it will be a blessing to those who hear [you speak].”

People!  This is not just talking about what we say to other people, whether to their face or in gossip. This verse is about how we speak to our self!

STOP SPEAKING LIES OVER YOUR LIFE!

Some of the things we say about ourselves don’t even register as a lie because we’ve said it so many times, we believe it’s true.

“I’m so overwhelmed.”

“I’m such a bad mom.”

“I’m a horrible wife.”

“I’m never gonna be like her.”

“I’m never going to amount to much.”

“I’ll never find a husband.”

Oh my friends….let me give you a great encouragement here…none of those phrases were ever said about you by our amazing Heavenly Father! NONE of them!

The first blessing God spoke over us was this from Genesis 1:26-28, 31 “Then God said, “Let us (Father, Son, Holy Spirit) make man in Our image, according to Our likeness [not physical, but a spiritual personality and moral likeness]; and let them have complete authority over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, the cattle, and over the entire earth, and over everything that creeps and crawls on the earth. ” So God created man in His own image, in the image and likeness of God He created him; male and female He created them. And God blessed them [granting them certain authority] and said to them, Be fruitful, multiply, and fill the earth, and subjugate it [putting it under your power]; and rule over (dominate) the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and every living thing that moves upon the earth.” God saw everything that He had made, and behold, it was very good and He validated it completely. And there was evening and there was morning, a sixth day.”

Did you catch that last part? Does it talk about us being good enough to be made? Perfect enough to be given authority? Unflawed enough to deserve to be created in the image & spiritual likeness of the Trinity? Nope…not once!! Did we have to work hard & prove our worth? Nope, not even that! Yet He validated us COMPLETELY!!!!

And everything He saw that He’d made ~ which includes you and me ~ He thought it was good!!!

We are sealed by His words of creation, and sealed forever by the salvation through Christ, the Living Word!!

All through the New Testament, the Lord calls us His beloved, His children. He calls us precious, restored, renewed & reconciled. He provides the free gift of salvation. He calls us by name and declares us wonderful!

When you don’t have words of your own, speak Psalm 139:14 (amp) over yourself, “I will give thanks and praise to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it well.”

Here’s another one to speak over yourself from Psalm 141:3 (amp), “Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; Keep watch over the door of my lips [to keep me from speaking thoughtlessly.]”

When we speak lies over ourselves, we begin to allow the spirit of that attribute to cover us. When we speak the truth of God’s Word over our life, we allow His character to cover us.

Either way, how we live is affected by what we speak. Our heart is affected by what we speak over ourself. And our mind listens to it all.

I still have body issues that I’m dealing with, my I know that I’m not ugly. What I do know is that I’m beautiful because God made me. I’m joyful because I live for Him. I’m happy because I know how miserable I used to be. I’m grateful that the Lord (and my fantastic husband and sweet friends) wouldn’t let me stay in a miry pit of sadness and depression. I can smile and laugh because I know my life has a plan and purpose that only God has orchestrated for me to fulfill!

The power of words is important for us to understand. It is vital to speak truth over ourself, our spouse, our children, our families, those in our circle of influence, and really, to speak God’s truth over & into the lives of anyone the Lord puts in our path!!

So if you feel like you can’t say something nice…pray a Psalm out loud instead!!

Blessings,

René

{Living out a special day with family in the beauty that is Waimea, HI ~ Big Island ~ and I actually ASKED my daughters to take some photos of me!}