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

Waking up early….

I’ve recently been getting up an hour earlier than normal time…

{hold the applause…my “early” is 6:20am!}

…to make sure I’m spending time with the Lord. It was hard the first few days, but now I’m starting to kinda wake up even before my alarm goes off! It’s the beginning of a new routine that I’m committed to keeping. It’s so worth it!

You may not be in a season where you can spend an hour sans interruption & I get it…this is a new season for my husband & I as our last kiddo moved out a few weeks ago to live in a dorm…yeah…she’s like 22 minutes away from our house (in SoCal, we count travel by minutes not by miles) and I still miss her like crazy!

I find myself now in the place of being able to have an uninterrupted quiet time for 30 minutes, or an hour (or sometimes more!) and I remember the younger mommy version of myself ~ when I would hear things like that I would just roll my eyes and frustration and wonder how that woman could talk like that?  She was clearly deluded in not being able to remember the difficulties of having a house full of kids. “Quiet Time”? Seriously?

But I do… I do remember…and I do get it.

I remember thinking when my last child went off to full day kindergarten that I would suddenly have all of this time to myself between the hours of 8:30 AM to 3:00 PM, to do whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, however I wanted…Or quite frankly to not do anything at all!

But even so, I would find that my day was still packed with this parent meeting I needed to attend, for that class party, or the never-ending 15 loads of laundry that still wasn’t done or having to go to the grocery store again for the third time that week!

And some days I just simply wanted to take a nap!

Those are the seasons that I had to get creative about Bible study and my time with the Lord. There were plenty of times where I force myself to wake up at 6 o’clock in the morning so that I could have 45 minutes to finish my Bible study because after all, I was the leader of the whole Bible study and how bad that would look if I showed up without doing my homework! And inevitably, as I’m sure you have found for yourself, you read something in that Bible study homework that definitely could have helped you to have a better week. And it was a constant reminder when I would have that thought, “Well, if I would just do my Bible study every week, every day that I should be committed to, then I won’t be missing out on those daily blessings that the Lord intends for me to have that day.”

Guilt. Guilt. Guilt. UGH!

So how did I get creative with three kids at home? Then with three teenagers at home…

In the days when my youngest was still half day preschool, I would choose a day that week to bring my Bible study material with me and after dropping her off, I would find a little coffee shop to go to… And that was back when Starbucks really was the only place I could go…and I would commit those 2 1/2 hours to reading scripture and working on whatever Bible study it was that I had going on the time.

As my girls got older, and we never seemed to live in a place where we are five minutes away from church, I still wanted our girls to be as involved as possible. So on the evening that they had their small groups during high school years, I again would pack up my Bible and study material and find a coffee shop or restaurant to hang out in for two or three hours…because come on here, we are dealing with high school girls with A LOT of emotions and Bible study small group never lasted for only two hours. But who am I kidding, when I go to meet a friend for coffee as I’m walking out the door my husband says, “Have fun at your five hour coffee date!” He thinks it’s quite funny but it’s totally true and there’s always more to talk about as the timers start ringing on our phones to remind us that we have to get back to “real life”.

But I would enjoy that weekly time away from the house, knowing that I could enjoy (or at least deal with) the 30 minute drive in traffic taking my daughter to small group because I knew it would be beneficial to me as well.

So take a look at your schedule, your week, the activities that your kids are in. Instead of begrudging the job of being a chauffeur for many many years, use those opportunities to read your Bible, dig into your Bible study, or simply to just read a good book. If you can’t see a window of opportunity, pray and ask the Lord to help you carve out that time you desire to spend with Him and He will absolutely answer your prayer.

As my girls grew older and began leaving the house to go to college, I realized that my daytime hours were so busy, and then they started driving themselves to small group.  I was losing my ‘time away’ opportunities. Then I realized what I had to give up…one of my most precious commodity…Sleep!

I love to be able to wake up without an alarm, knowing that I have woken up naturally, rested, and ready for what the day ahead. I really hate waking up to an alarm! But I began to do this, I has never disappointed by my time with the Lord. An afternoon nap sometimes needed to be worked into the schedule! LOL! Isn’t it funny how when we are little children we fight nap time tooth & nail. And then when we are adults, we crave naptime! I saw a bumper sticker one time that said, “Nap time is wasted on the young!”

Can I get an AMEN on that!

I did that just about every day for about 1 1/2 years (not the nap time…the waking up early thing!) and then I stopped.

There was really no rhyme or reason, except it was summertime and the schedule of the family was more relaxed. I kept thinking I would pick it back up ~ I didn’t. My heart and soul suffered for it.

I became a ‘collector’ of books and bible study material. Not a reader of them or even a real reader of the Word. I downloaded a few bible study apps on my phone, but even those were haphazardly read, if at all.

What was wrong with me? I loved the Lord and I always love to read the Word to see what new nugget I can learn about God and who He is. I’m involved with several different ministry areas, so why on earth could I not get myself together to be consistent and disciplined to be with my Father.

For the past year and a half actually, I knew what something off in my life and I knew the solution needed to be the simple act of waking up early.  For the purpose of  spending time with the Lord and find out how He wanted to direct my day.

So I am back at it!

I started about two weeks ago and it has become so precious to me! I’ve already started thinking about how we are going on vacation soon and I want to make sure that I keep this going. I am committed to doing this ~ catch my Instagram and you all can help me stay accountable!

So why are things different this time around? How have I gained a renewed commitment to waking up early? Oh, and by the way I’m not talking about 4:30 AM or 5:00 AM… My early is 6:20 AM. Why 6:20am?

The first day I set my alarm for 6:30am, because after all that was an hour before I usually book up. AN HOUR!!! And yes momma’s…there will come a day when you will be able to sleep past 6 o’clock in the morning, it’s coming! But for now enjoy those little faces they come into your room at “o’dark 30” breathing into your face saying things like “I can’t find my teddy bear” or “Can we have pancakes for breakfast?” I do so miss those little faces, even when they would be nose to nose with me and completely freak me out when I sense that “someone is watching me” feeling! You know what I’m talking about!

At any rate, back to the plan. I set my alarm for 6:30 AM on that first day and I decided to prepare the night before… I know, what a novel idea! I set the space as if I was setting up for a special seat for a guest visiting our home. I put water in the kettle, chose a special mug, and picked out some wonderful smelling tea and got it already for the next morning so all I would have to do is plug in the kettle and let the tea steep. After that first morning I realized it took me 10 minutes to get up, brush my teeth, have a glass of water, get the kettle and tea ready. Those ten minutes were cutting into my precious hour with Jesus.

The next day, I decided I would get up at 6:20 AM. Seriously those extra 10 minutes early felt like a HUGE sacrifice for the first week! But not only would I get all of my tea items ready, I would also get “my spot” ready. I still have the rocking chair that I rocked my babies in and it now sits by the window in our living room. There is a little desk next to it that has a small lamp on it that I can turn on in the morning without completely disturbing are sleeping dog.

Hot tea in hand, I make my way quietly through the house and get settled in the rocking chair with a nice soft blanket over my lap and I close my eyes and pray and ask the Lord to show me Himself and show me how I can be a light and honor Him during the day.

It is absolutely the best part of my day!

One of the funny things that is happening now is that I am beginning to wake up a little bit even before my alarm goes off.  What??? That is so funny to me! Remember how I said before that I absolutely hate waking up to an alarm? God is so good to whisper to my heart that it’s time to wake up. However, there are plenty of days that I need that alarm to wake me up! Even in this, the Lord has blessed me because as my alarm goes off instead of dreading the day ahead of me, He reminds me that I am waking up FOR Him. Which means I am waking up for my family, for myself, and for the opportunity to serve Him the best that I can. That is a miracle for sure!

There’s a book I’ve been reading (and following the author/ministry on Instagram) about setting aside intentional time with God. (Not paid to say this…but go get Kat Lee’s new book called Hello Morning & follow on social media). It’s so practical and I really believe that is the key. Find something that works for YOU and stick with it. The timing will change, the study will change, and all that is okay ~ it all depends on your season of life. The beauty of God’s Word is that it DOES NOT CHANGE! No matter what time of day, or study, or book that you study, His Word will absolutely come alive for you every day that you intentionally spend with Him.

God bless you in your journey of time with the Lord!  I’d love to hear how you work out a new solution too ~ message me here or via social media spots. You will always come away refreshed!

Blessings,
René

Psalm 143 verse 8

 

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

Don’t pay for the Fancy Water…

On our recent trip to China {totally love that I am able to tag along with Tony on his business trips} I noticed something at each of the hotels, each room we were in had at least two free 16oz. bottles of water. With tags or coasters that encouraged the guests to take the water with various sayings…”stay hydrated” ~ “water is life” ~ “hydrate your mind”.  Although they offered these free water bottles, that  by the way, were replenished daily whether the original bottles had been drank or not, there was also one illustrious extra-large bottle of “fancy water” – a well known name brand.  But that one you would have to pay for.

So each day, the guests have to choose – drink the free water or pay a ridiculous amount of money for the name brand water.

Hey, I was just excited that all of these hotels offered the choice…and yes, I’ll take the free water. Every. Day.

Once we arrived at our 3rd hotel, and the free bottles of water continued to appear, I couldn’t help but think about the life-giving water that we are freely offered by Jesus.

How often have I gone for “the fancy water” & by-passed what the Lord is offering to me as a gift?

So what do I exactly mean by “fancy water”?

I want to be very clear here that the examples I’m about to give are NOT bad or wrong…it’s just that sometimes we place a higher level of dedication and interest in the name brand stuff.

When an author comes out with a new book, I’m clicking on amazon to buy it faster than I should. {Seriously…if y’all are interested in reading/studying just about any Christian book/devotional/study that’s been released in the last ten years, I’m sure I have it & I’ll let ya borrow it!} Sometimes I make myself stop & simply place it in my “book list” for a future purchase.

  • I’m on email lists for online bible studies and daily/weekly devotional.
  • I’m in several different bible study groups on Facebook.
  • I follow a myriad of amazingly gifted & talented speakers, authors, and singers.

All of these things are good.  All of these groups are beneficial to my spiritual growth. All of these people speak/share scriptural wisdom, and are also vulnerable enough to share with thousands of strangers via their insta-stories, what God is helping them work through in their life at the moment.

However…..

When I count on scrolling through social media to get my fill of God’s word through inspirational quotes, meaningful scripture verses, or heartfelt stories ~ I’m drinking the fancy water. 

But wait you say…social media is free! 

Yes ~ but I’m paying with my time.

I’m paying with “quick fix” mind set. 

Let’s be real, if someone were to ask you at the end of the day what the most inspirational post you “liked” that morning was…would you be able to answer them? I know most of the time I couldn’t. I might remember the basic gist of a few but not word for word.

John 4:10, “Jesus answered, “If you knew the gift of God, and who is saying to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would ask Him, and He would give you living water.”

So what’s the “free water”?

It’s Jesus. It’s Him as the Living Word. It’s Him as the fountain of Living Water.  

It’s Jesus. The One with whom we will never thirst again.

When I spend my time reading the Bible ~ apart from bible study time ~ and truly dig in deep asking God to reveal to me what I am to learn that day about His character, then I am truly refreshed. 

The best moments of reading my Bible come when I am searching to know more of who God is and not “what’s in this for me” mode.  The more I know about God, about the Bible, about the story of the Bible…the more that God will reveal to me about who He wants me to be…who He has created me to be for Him.

The Living Water Jesus freely offers to us came at a great price.

It is free to us because we can never {like. Ever. Ever. Not. Ever.} come close to living a life that would earn our way to eternity. Jesus died on the cross, along with all our sin, and rose again so that we could have the gift of bring free of the death that sin brings…the permanent separation from Him will not happen to those who receive the free gift of salvation from Jesus Christ. 

John 7:38, “ The one who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, will have streams of living water flow from deep within him.”

Read your books.

Attend bible studies in your church or online.

Follow your fave people on social media.

Just don’t stop there. 

Actually, don’t start there either.

I’m guilty of this more often than not, so this blog is for me just as much {or more!} than maybe for you. I honestly appreciate the time you have given to read along with my musings of the day. 

Stay hydrated with the Water of Life and your heart and mind will be hydrated as well.  Enjoy the time you spend with  the Lord, praying & reading scripture.

You will come away refreshed without one iota of regret for the time spent with your free water. I promise!

Blessings,

René

John 7 verse 38

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christian Mentors, Moms, Parents, Stay at Home Moms, Women's Ministries

Keeping an Open Mind…

Do you have an “open mind?”

What does that even mean?  That our minds should be a blank canvas?  An open space of which to fill with anything and everything? To be “free thinkers” so as to accept all activity as good according to what each individual desires?

I’m sure you’ve heard the phrases, “Garbage in; Garbage Out”; or how about “If you stand for nothing, you’ll fall for everything.”  Both of those concepts come out of what we allow to enter our mind.  Our brain is a masterful creation ~ one that should be taken care of, and attended to, on a constant basis.

I Corinthians 2:15-16 (Amplified version) is very clear when it states, But the spiritual man [the spiritually mature Christian] judges all things [questions, examines and applies what the Holy Spirit reveals], yet is himself judged by no one [the unbeliever cannot judge and understand the believer’s spiritual nature].  For who has known the mind and purposes of the Lord, so as to instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ [to be guided by His thoughts and purposes].”

We are created in God’s image, therefore we have been given the ability to understand the things of Christ when we become Christians.  The reason that non-believers argue so vehemently against God’s Word is actually fairly simple…they don’t understand it.  They have not received salvation, thus they have not received the gift of the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit helps us to discern the wisdom of the Lord and of scripture so that we can understand it.  Our brain, our mind, is connected to every part of our body ~ it is the command center for all information that comes in and goes out.  It is essential to keep our mind cultivated with the knowledge and truth of God and of His Word.

If you are wondering why it’s so important to keep our mind healthy, there are so many verses in scripture that encourage us in this manner.

There are over 200 verses with the word “mind” in it ~ here are just a few examples of how God sees the function of our mind ~ which is to love HIM first and foremost:

Deuteronomy 6:4-6,“Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one [the only God]! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and mind and with all your soul and with all your strength [your entire being]. These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be [written] on your heart and mind.”

Romans 8:5-8, “For those who are living according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh [which gratify the body], but those who are living according to the Spirit, [set their minds on] the things of the Spirit [His will and purpose]. Now the mind of the flesh is death [both now and forever—because it pursues sin]; but the mind of the Spirit is life and peace [the spiritual well-being that comes from walking with God—both now and forever]; the mind of the flesh [with its sinful pursuits] is actively hostile to God. It does not submit itself to God’s law, since it cannot, and those who are in the flesh [living a life that caters to sinful appetites and impulses] cannot please God.”

There are only three passages in scripture that I found which talk about having an “open mind”:

Proverbs 8:8-11,“All the words of my mouth are in righteousness (upright, in right standing with God); There is nothing contrary to truth or perverted (crooked) in them. “They are all straightforward to him who understands [with an open and willing mind], And right to those who find knowledge and live by it. “Take my instruction rather than [seeking] silver, And take knowledge rather than choicest gold, “For wisdom is better than rubies; And all desirable things cannot compare with her.”

Luke 24:44-49, Then He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you, everything which has been written about Me in the Law of Moses and the [writings of the] Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.”Then He opened their minds to [help them] understand the Scriptures, and said, “And so it is written, that the Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed) would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance [necessary] for forgiveness of sins would be preached in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.  You are witnesses of these things.  Listen carefully: I am sending the Promise of My Father [the Holy Spirit] upon you; but you are to remain in the city [of Jerusalem] until you are clothed (fully equipped) with power from on high.””

Acts 17:10-12, The brothers immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea; and when they arrived, they entered the Jewish synagogue. Now these people were more noble and open-minded than those in Thessalonica, so they received the message [of salvation through faith in the Christ] with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. As a result many of them became believers, together with a number of prominent Greek women and men.”

I hope you noticed that these passages listed above ONLY talked about having an open mind toward the Lord so that we can allow HIM to fill our mind with the truth of His Word.  And this is in order for us to be able to go out into our neighborhoods, work places, family, or into the world, to share the truth of what God’s Word says…to bring others to the saving grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus.  Never in scripture does it tell us to have an open mind in terms of worldly knowledge and beliefs.

Let’s look at some of the warnings ~

2 Peter 3:15-18,And consider the patience of our Lord [His delay in judging and avenging wrongs] as salvation [that is, allowing time for more to be saved]; just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given to him [by God], speaking about these things as he does in all of his letters. In which there are some things that are difficult to understand, which the untaught and unstable [who have fallen into error] twist and misinterpret, just as they do the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction. Therefore, [let me warn you] beloved, knowing these things beforehand, be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men [who distort doctrine] and fall from your own steadfastness [of mind, knowledge, truth, and faith], but grow [spiritually mature] in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be glory (honor, majesty, splendor), both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.”

In reading the above passage, I’m reminded of sweet Christian mom who I knew a few years ago.  For months, I knew something was bothering her, but knew I couldn’t press her for a response.  Finally, the flood gates of heartache opened and she shared with me, and a few others, that her husband had begun a very quick dissent into the darkness of atheism.  They had once been a strong couple, committed to the Lord in their marriage and in the raising of their family. They were both very active in church and in serving the Lord.

Then one day, her husband came home with a book from a friend.  It was a scientific book that had explanations of earthly phenomenon’s, including events recorded in the Bible.  Her husband was a very logical man, and the more he studied this book, the less he studied the truth of God’s Word.  After 25+ years living as a devoted Christian, he gave it all up because he began to believe that scientifically, Jesus couldn’t have possibly been who He was or could have done the things He claims to have done in the Bible.  And if Jesus wasn’t true, then the Bible wasn’t true.  This process only took about 6 months (from what I can remember).

This woman was broken-hearted.  The man she loved, the father of her children, was now a completely different person.  Someone who suddenly didn’t love the Lord, believe in the Lord, didn’t go to church, and didn’t want to have anything to do with the Christian community.  Someone who began to demean her for continuing to live a life as a Christian, and for taking their children to church.

Week after week, we encouraged our friend to stand firm in her faith and to keep praying!  Our hearts were broken for her as she had to navigate these murky waters, watching her husband sink deeper and deeper into a life devoid of God.  He then began making ultimatums…it was either stay with him or stay with God.

About three months later, the very sad news came that she and her children would no longer be attending church.  Against much advice from her friends and pastor, she decided to appease her husband by reading the book that he’d first been given.  And then she read another one, and another one, and so on.  She had become so fearful of losing her husband, that she instead chose to deny her relationship with the Lord.  She had been a Christian for just about her whole life.  Now she would rather “make her own rules” and “live freely without religion” than stand firm in her faith…in what I still believe she knows deep down inside.

Within one years’ time, this couple who radiated God’s love in their service to the Christian community and within their family, completely and “logically” removed themselves from under the lordship of Christ.  I tell this story to illustrate how quickly Satan can work to destroy the mind that once knew the truth of God’s Word.  How is this possible?  Remember who Satan is…he was created as an Angel of Light, an Angel of Music.  He had a prominent place in Heaven.  But one day, he decided he wanted to be equals with God and began a battle of wills.  He was so influential that he caused a host of other angels to agree with him, and they were all eventually cast out of heaven….permanently.  This is how he knows how to manipulate the mind of others and trick them into thinking that God does not exist.

Romans 12:1-2 is a beautiful reminder of why we must be cautious of what we think about, and what we allow into our mind.  It says, Therefore I urge you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies [dedicating all of yourselves, set apart] as a living sacrifice, holy and well-pleasing to God, which is your rational (logical, intelligent) act of worship. And do not be conformed to this world [any longer with its superficial values and customs], but be transformed and progressively changed [as you mature spiritually] by the renewing of your mind [focusing on godly values and ethical attitudes], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His plan and purpose for you].”

How do we renew our mind?  That part is simple too actually…

Be. In. God’s. Word. Every. Day.

~ Every. ~ Day. ~

Blessings,

René

Romans 12 verse 2

**Addendum to today’s blog ~ I was remiss in ending the story I shared above how I did.  Their story is not over.  Prayer is STILL bigger than any lie and deception of Satan!  If you are struggling to regain your faith, or you know someone who has drifted (or run!) away from faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, please don’t stop praying for them!  Prayer is the open door for God to work ~ He loves to have us partner with Him in His Kingdom work!  His Word will never return void!**

Isaiah 55:11 declares this truth ~ “So will My word be which goes out of My mouth; It will not return to Me void(useless, without result), Without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.”