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

Weakness is a gift…

My weakness doesn’t faze Jesus.

I actually started this blog back in August and I got as far as that first sentence. It’s not a topic I really want to write about and I definitely didn’t want to come across as whiny. But here we are.

This past weekend, I had to walk through a situation that was super uncomfortable. Mostly because I made it that way.  Whenever I get a text or note from someone that says, “Hey, I need to talk to you about something. Call me soon.”, I immediately go to worst case scenario.

I immediately start replaying the last few times that I interacted with that person and start picking apart every conversation ~ what did I do wrong? was it my tone? was I too honest? was I being nosy? did I say something inappropriate? did I hurt their feelings?

UGH!

Seriously ~ this is where my head goes! E V E R Y  T I M E!!!!

I’ll tell you that part of the reason is because there was a time in my life where I was constantly being challenged by the people in my life. It became instinct to wonder “What did I do wrong now?” And not because I was actually behaving poorly, I was in a bad space where I was overly vulnerable, shared probably too much, but definitely gave off the vibe that I was a mess and clearly needed help. It took me years to be able to realize in most of these conversations, people were telling me about themselves and not about me.

But I still fall victim to that rabbit hole of doubt.

My sweet husband has seen me go through sleepless nights, puffy eyes from crying way too much, negative self-talk, and just plain old pouting. He gives me so much grace, but he doesn’t let me stay down in that doubtful place. His encouragement to see the reality of a situation is more helpful than he probably knows, because I’m not always super gracious or even readily accepting of his encouragement. He has an incredible way of redirecting my focus to what God says about the situation, the person telling me things, and about me. How does God really see me?

More often than not, and faster than in the past, I can step back and look at the situation and declare that I didn’t do anything wrong. I’m not a bad person. If I made a mistake, I can apologize for it. If something was misinterpreted, I can do my best to realign my comments to be more understandable.

And above all else, something that my husband is a master of, giving the other person the benefit of the doubt. To receive their conversation in such a way that I choose to believe what they are saying; to believe they are telling the truth.

This is yet another of my weaknesses that I must deal with. And I know where the root lies.

I was lied to and fooled by so many people in my past, it twisted my thought process to believe that no one really told the truth all the time. I allowed the enemy, the king of lies, to warp my thinking that I couldn’t totally trust people.

Once again, here comes the Lord with the blessing of my husband ~ literally the most truthful person I have ever met. In our 31 years together (2 years dating and 29 years married) I can tell you that he has never lied to me. NEVER. I am beyond humbled by the fact that the one thing the enemy tried to steal from me forever, was supplanted by the blessing of the most important person on this planet to me, and he has never lied to me. What a healing this has been to my heart all these years.

So back to this weekend…and my impetus to go back to this idea of weakness being a gift.

I got one of those “Can you call me.” texts and although the phone call didn’t happen and text exchange did. I had to choose to trust the Lord that what was conveyed in that message was the truth. I had to choose to combat the distractions and lies of the enemy that there was “more to it” and that the compliments given were not real. I hated it! I hated feeling like I did something wrong. I hated the feeling that I’d disappointed someone.

But as my husband pointed out, none of that language was in the message ~ it was all in my head! I was allowing the enemy to throw those fiery darts of doubt and they burned. I had to allow the tears to come to wash away those flames and trust the God was in the midst of it all. I had to choose to let Jesus be the truth that I rested in. I had to choose to believe that I had not done anything wrong, it was just a change in schedule and led of commitment that led to a relationship change.

Deep down inside I knew why the attack on my soul was happening.

I’m days away from launching a new ministry which focuses on mentoring young women, college age till about 30. I knew the devil would whisper to me one day, “Who do you think you are to tackle this? What makes you think that you can do this? Who says that you can start a new ministry? How do you know people even want this?”

It’s nauseating to think I allowed those thoughts to permeate my brain for even a few moments.

But in my weakness, in my sadness, in my disappointment, I had to choose WHO to listen to. I had to make a concerted effort to believe that I knew the answer to all those slimy lies the enemy was trying to make me believe.

God gave me a heart to minister to young women.

God gave me the desire to mentor young women and young moms.

God gave me the ideas for this new ministry.

God gives me continual direction as to the next right step to take. 

In my weakness there is God….and He is enough!

Today, I felt led to attend a worship service at One Voice Student Missions (y’all gotta check them out if you’re in the Pasadena area – https://ovsm.com/) and the leader, Brian Barcelona**, brought a beautiful message. And right there, the theme of the morning hit me like a ton of bricks.

W E A K N E S S

Man oh man…I knew exactly why the Lord prompted my heart to be there this morning! Brian shared so many truths & great reminders and I want to pass them on to you today:

  • Jesus saved us in our weakness – NOT in our strengths.
  • Weakness leads us to Jesus; weakness is not something to be feared.
  • Our woundedness and our weakness should draw us to the Cross.
  • The Bible isn’t pretty Instagram posts; it displays weakness and honors God’s healing through it. 
  • The frailty of my life becomes a container to hold God’s power.
  • My perceived strength is preventing God to work in through me.
  • God pours His anointing into empty vessels (aka – don’t be full of myself!)
  • It’s not what we have, it’s WHO we have!

These are just a few of the key things Brian shared this morning and it was all so good! Here’s two passages he used in his teaching too that I would highly encourage you to take a look at and truly ponder God’s heart in these verses (I like the Amplified version):

  • 2 Corinthians 12:9 (boast in our weakness)
  • 2 Kings 4:1-7 (when we think we have nothing; the Lord will fill us up)

Let me say once again what I began this blog with…

My weakness doesn’t faze Jesus. 

Not in the least bit. Ever.

In my weakness is where the Lord can do His best work in my life because I’m at a place where I can truly hear His voice over mine.

Let me encourage you to not run away from the weak places in your life ~ use them as jumping off points to take that leap of faith into the arms of Jesus.

He will never let you fall.

His strength will always be enough for you!

He will never let you down.

He will always be your Champion and your Victor!

He will never lie to you.

He is forever trustworthy and He will always lead you to the truth!

Blessings,

René

weakness is a gift - blog pic

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

** Brian Barcelona – One Voice Student Ministries, Pastor; November 4, 2019 message (https://ovsm.com/)

 

 

 

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

When the storms come…

I’m a California girl through and through. People don’t think we have weather in SoCal but we do! In the summer we’re wearing light weight clothes but at night, it can get cold…enough to put on a sweatshirt with our shorts! And once you hit September through March, you’re experiencing Winter when you first wake up, Spring in the later morning, Summer in the afternoon, and Fall by the time the sun goes down. Yeah, yeah, I know…but it’s all the seasons!

One thing that I’m used to living in SoCal is the earthquakes. I like that I don’t know they are coming. I like that they only last a minute or 90 seconds. I like that when they happen, I’m usually with people. I like that we can talk about a 30-90 second event for the next few days like we survived something tremendous. I’m thankful that I’ve never lost anyone in an earthquake, but I know plenty of people who have lost almost all their belongings in one. Including my own parents. They stayed with us in our tiny 600 sq. ft. apartment for a week after the 1994 Northridge Earthquake. Unbeknownst to me, they had popped in a video of the aftermath in the house while I was out doing the daily load of towels. When I came back inside, I thought they were still watching the news and I said, “Wow, those poor people. They are literally shoveling their kitchen belongings into a trash can.” My parents and husband looked at me and my Dad said, “Poor people? Well, yeah. That’s our house.” It was completely unrecognizable.

But we were in it together.

A few years later, I was visiting my sisters-in-law and their families when they lived in Naperville, IL. One of sisters-in-law had recently had twin girls and we had come for a visit. We convinced her to come out with us, just the moms, and have a day out to have lunch and do some window shopping in the cute downtown. And then it started to sprinkle. Then it started to rain. Then it began to pour like mad. And then it happened…the sirens started blaring for a tornado warning! My sister-in-law did the driving & was trying to reach her family to make sure her husband and my husband had gotten all the children down to the basement. It wasn’t funny, kinda like Mr. Toad’s wild ride and I’d never experienced such crazy rain!

But we were in it together.

That brings me to my experience last night and the inspiration for this blog.

I was alone.

I’m in the Dallas, TX area right now for a conference (shout out to The Declare Conference!) for Christian Communicators. As I was almost at my hotel, it was sprinkling a bit and the lightning show was incredible! After I was settled in, I realized I had time to get to the nearest Trader Joes to grab something for a later dinner. Then I heard a HUGE clap of thunder. I looked out my window…the rain was going sideways because the wind was so bad! Needless to say, I just went down to the lobby to see what they had; not much by the way, and I ate my frozen dinner with two coffee stirrers like they were chop sticks…it worked!

I wasn’t worried until the TV signal went out. Oh, and it cut out right after they declared a tornado warning.  WHAT???!!!! The rain, thunder, and lightning got worse. But I could still get text messages out. I didn’t feel quite so alone as I asked a few friends and family to pray for me and the whole weather situation. After about 20 minutes or so, the TV came back on and I felt confident that it’d all be okay. Some time went by and then my phone buzzed to life with a “Your area is experiencing a tornado. Please seek appropriate shelter nearby.” And then the sirens began to wail!

Are you kidding me? I was going on over an hour with this crazy weather! I called my husband just to hear his voice and he was very kind to comfort me in my fear.

So, I grabbed my phone, the charger, my clothes and tennis shoes, and my tote bag with my id and laptop in it, two of the pillows off the bed and holed up in the bathroom.  I was so thankful that my phone was charged and that through it all, that TV signal may have died, but I could still talk with my husband. I didn’t want to think about what was going on outside so I asked him to tell me every detail of an event he had gone to that night. Seriously, I wanted to hear it all. I felt safe enough to open the door after about 20 minutes because I heard the TV go back on. That must mean the tornado had passed. And indeed it had.

But in those moments…okay that 90 minutes…I was fearful and I was going through the storm alone. I didn’t want to be in that hotel room by myself. What if had been really bad? What if the tornado ripped through the place? I kept texting with my family and they kept encouraging me. They were with me, but I still felt alone. Finally around 2am I was able to fall asleep. Praise the Lord for that!

My hotel was fine, our area was totally fine, but seeing the news in the morning, it was not fine for so many people. A church, a home depot, schools, homes ~ most with their rooves blown away and trees that had landed on top of the rest. My heart broke for those who were coming back to their homes and businesses, only to find them demolished. Yesterday they had plans, but today, they are entering a season of unplanned rebuilding.

This is why we need our people in a storm. 

We need a hand to hold, a hug to comfort us, or a text to remind us that our people are praying for us. We are not built to weather a storm alone.

But through the storm last night, I wasn’t truly alone. I know the Lord was with me, but He has created community and that is why we have such a strong desire within us to be surrounded by our people. The ones who support us, calm us, laugh with (or at!) us, ugly cry with us, sit in silence with us…the ones who know what we need in those stormy moments.

We will go through storms in life, that is promised but we are also promised that they will not overtake us. The Lord will always be with us. {Isaiah 43:1-3a}*

The Lord has used storms to protect His people {Exodus, chapter 14}, to bring the Word to the unsaved {Jonah, chapter 1}, and He has used storms to remind us of His power {Luke, chapter 8}. The storms that the Lord allows to come into our lives don’t always make sense and sometimes they are extremely painful. But there is always a purpose. There is always a way out and an opportunity to bring Him glory through the stormy season He brings us out of.

I’m thankful that the One who calms the storm lives in me.

Blessings,

René

we are not alone in the storm - blog - 10-21-19

Photo by Gavin Spear on Unsplash

Isaiah 43:1-3a But now, this is what the Lord, your Creator says, O Jacob,
And He who formed you, O Israel, “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you [from captivity]; I have called you by name; you are Mine! 2 “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. “For I am the Lord your God, The Holy One of Israel, your Savior;

 

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

…And at the Right Time…

For most things we get in life, they are preceded by a time of waiting. It can be as simple as waiting for a tray of chocolate cookies to bake to gooey perfection, or as difficult as waiting for a health diagnosis to come in. And so many experiences in between.

I remember when we were getting ready to have our first child, we immediately were trying to figure out when the baby would be born. We were off a little bit according to the doctor, but we had our due date! I was beyond excited ~ not to be pregnant all summer long, but that faded in the dreams of that little one arriving. At our check-up the following month, I was devastated to find out the due date had changed. I was now told I’d not be delivering for another ten days. I cried all the way home, which completely baffled my husband.

He lovingly reminded me that just as God had allowed me to become pregnant, He also knew the exact day and time of her birth. It wasn’t in my control. It was all in His perfect timing! Thankfully I listened and changed my attitude…because that baby girl arrived TEN days after my due date! And it was of course, in the Lord’s perfect timing.

It’s so great to know that we can learn from the best when it comes to waiting for the right time!

1 Timothy 2:5-6 AMP gives us the example about Jesus. He was God and man for his whole life. Yet, Jesus paid attention the Father as to when it was the right time to reveal Himself as our Savior that had come to rule and reign. Because Jesus was so in tune with the Father, He was ready for the time when it came for Him to complete His task on the earth and become the ultimate sacrifice for our sins.  These verses read:

“For there is [only] one God, and [only] one Mediator between God and mankind, the Man Christ Jesus,” who gave Himself as a ransom [a substitutionary sacrifice to atone] for all, the testimony given at the right and proper time.”

It wasn’t just the right time. It was the proper time. There was not a minute that came too early or moment that lasted too long. It was perfect.

You might be thinking, well of course it was perfect…it’s Jesus…there’s no way I can get to that level.  And guess what, you’re right! But that’s part of the reason Jesus sacrificed Himself on the cross. Yes, it was to bring us into a reconciled relationship with Jesus but it was also to send us the gift of the Comforter ~ the Holy Spirit.

Romans 8:26-28 tells us this:

“In the same way the Spirit [comes to us and] helps us in our weakness. We do not know what prayer to offer or how to offer it as we should, but the Spirit Himself [knows our need and at the right time] intercedes on our behalf with sighs and groanings too deep for words. And He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because the Spirit intercedes [before God] on behalf of God’s people in accordance with God’s will. And we know [with great confidence] that God [who is deeply concerned about us] causes all things to work together [as a plan] for good for those who love God, to those who are called according to His plan and purpose.”

There are so many beautiful nuggets of truth and promise in these verses…go ahead and read them again. What do you feel the Lord is whispering to your heart right now? What prayers are lingering there? What plans are you fretting over? Are you dealing with a situation that no one else knows about? Oh, my friend, especially that last one ~ Satan wants you to feel that you are all alone but that is a LIE! As a believer in Jesus, the Holy Spirit has made His home in your heart and soul and mind. He is with you ~ you are NEVER alone! Yes!  The same God that spoke the universe into reality, is the same God who gives you the power and strength to make it through the most difficult of circumstances.

When you don’t even know what to pray, the Holy Spirit is there on your behalf. I can recall a few times in my life where the pain in my heart was so deep, I thought I’d never recover. The sobbing was so intense and unending that I couldn’t even form the words to pray and ask God to help me. That is right when, at the perfect timing, the Holy Spirit comes in to minister to us and go before God with the groanings of our spirit. When those tearful experiences were over, what was left was a peace that I could not explain except to know that the Lord had truly taken care of my heart at that moment.

So, whatever you have going on in your life right now, and as hard at may seem in the moment, trust that God sees you. He hears you. And He will answer you in just the right and proper time.

And if you are coming to Jesus for the first time today, welcome! Praise the Lord that you have chosen to allow the Lord to reign in your heart. I’d love to encourage you too to find someone in your local community to walk alongside you in this new adventure of following Jesus! God bless you!!

Blessings,

René

At just the right time - blog post

Photo by Stefanos Kogkas on Unsplash 

 

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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

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

Chaos is not the plan - blog graphic

Photo by Greg Rakozy 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

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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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

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

Photo by Josh Howard 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

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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