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

It only takes 15 minutes…..

When you think about it, there are so many things in our life that we don’t want to do, yet really only take about 15 minutes to accomplish.

Unloading and reloading the dishwasher, reading one more story to your child, collecting all the trash around the house and taking it outside the night before trash day, writing a handwritten note to a friend, praying for your family, doing a job search online…

So many things only takes 15 minutes.

Most days, we act like the thing in front of us is some huge mountain that will take away more of our time and energy than in reality of what it will actually take.

It’s so nice to wake up in the morning to an empty kitchen sink.

It’s a precious thing to sit with our kids for one more story or just watching them follow sleep, because those days don’t last forever. In all honesty, I totally tried to skip pages while I read those stories!

I can still remember that time period, being so exhausted and didn’t feel like I could be needed by one more person for one more thing, and all I wanted to do was to get my children settled in their bed and asleep so that I could, do what? Really important things like veg out on the couch with a bowl of ice cream! I would give all that ice cream, all those TV shows, and all of “my“ time back, to be more patients with my kids.

Especially at bedtime.

That is the time of day that would be the time my kids would open up the most about what was going on in their life. Usually, when they had been having an extremely rough attitude day, it would all spill out after we would finish prayers, about how they had had their feelings hurt by a friend for found out they didn’t do it well on the test or an essay they thought they did. I would finally connect the dots and realize why they had been having a difficult afternoon. It didn’t really have anything to do with it them wanting to be rude or disobedient to me, they were trying to figure out how to deal with their emotions.

For goodness sake, we are the adults don’t handle our emotions properly some of the time.

But we expect our young children and teenagers to handle every emotional so perfectly. When I’d slow down, I could take myself and my own emotions out of the equation and ask questions of my kids then we could more easily and much quicker, and get to the bottom of why they were there acting up.

If we want our children to be able to know how to deal appropriately with their emotions, then we have to do the hard work while they are living in our home. We cannot leave it up to teachers at school or church, or the latest podcast, or self-help book.

Teaching our kids to deal with their emotions is as important as how we teach them to use the toilet, brush their teeth, and put their dirty clothes where they belong. They will not “get it right“ on the first try or the second or the 10th time. But if we do not give up on teaching our kids how to have healthy habits at home, we need to be that much more vigilant in sticking with teaching them how to do the hard things of life.

We are created in God’s image and we know through scripture that the Lord has all of the emotions and all of the feelings, but He knows how to deal with ALL of them. We have this opportunity to live a life full of emotion, securely gleaning from God’s Word how to live our best life in the midst of all of those areas of emotions. Dealing with our emotions on our own is absolutely exhausting and it’s not how the Lord intended for us to live. We are called into community with each other, and the first community that our children become familiar with is the one within the four walls of our home.

There will be days where everything goes haywire but then you wake up the next day and as Scripture says, His mercies are new every morning {Lamentations 3:23}.

Start your day with prayer, not simply between you and the Lord but with all of your children too. Especially when morning’s are hectic, pray on the way to school. You can designate a certain point in your drive to school where the conversation stop, the radio turns off, and prayer begins. If you have never done this before, you can start by being the one to pray over your children, but as time goes by, what a beautiful safe space to teach your children how to pray out loud for each other as well as for the people in their circle.

Those are the parts of the morning drive to school that I miss the most. The older my daughters grew, the more meaningful and specific their prayers became. It’s a beautifully humbling thing to learn how to love and serve the Lord better by listening to how your kids pray. I still smile at the memory of praying one morning as we were careening into carline to get the girls to class on time, another parent suddenly stopped in the middle of car line to let their child out and I immediately complained and chastised that parent for “doing car line wrong.” In unison, my three girls said, “MOM! Stop it. Weren’t you just praying that God would give you patience today and a heart to see others they way He does.” Bam!  Right between the eyes!  Yikes….they were right!!

The Lord gave me a perfect opportunity to show my girls the power of confession and asking forgiveness…me to them, not the other way around. It was also then that I took a moment to look at the kid who’d jumped out of his mom’s car, head down and clearly frustrated. After I dropped my girls off, I knew God was giving me an assignment to pray for that family. I never knew who it was, and that wasn’t the important thing. What was vital for me was to see that family the way God did ~ people He loved, cared for, and wanted to see reconciliation with.

No matter what happens between those morning prayers and getting into bed for the night, prayer is the key to unlocking peace. In the evening, praying over your children at the end of the day is an amazing way to help prayer be the last things they hear before falling asleep. Sometimes you will feel drawn to going into your child’s room well after they’ve been asleep and pray for them again. God is calling you to battle for your kiddos ~ don’t miss it!!

Remember, it usually does not take very long.  And even if it takes an extra 15 minutes {or more!}, it will be the best spent minutes of your day!

Blessings,

René

It's just 15 minutes

 

 

 

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

Hey Girl…our Bodies are Incredible…

Yeah, I said it!

All of God’s creation is amazing and He claims several times in the first few verses of the book of Genesis that His creation is good…He loves His creation!

As a woman: mother of three daughters, mentor to young women in college, friend, sister, and wife…I want to celebrate how amazingly incredible a woman’s body is! Not because my body is perfect, but because I know I’m perfectly made!

A woman’s body is capable of so much!

We are created with the capacity to grow and nurture, to rise up and protect, and to create and teach.

There are several phenomenal women in my life who have given birth recently or who will be soon. And the Mom’s bible study that I’m a part of, it seems like every week someone is announcing a new pregnancy. I’m completely fascinated by baby belly’s ~ my own three and all the rest of them out there! I mean, just the fact that God created our skin to stretch like it does to hold that burgeoning belly!! Dang!!

A woman’s body is made to be a place of shelter as she literally grows a baby in her womb. God created her to have all the parts she needs. I want to be sensitive here and say that although I have not personally gone through the loss of a child, I have personal experience in losing a brother due to SIDS when he was only 3.5 months old, and I have several friends and family members who have gone through miscarriages and the realities of not being able to become pregnant. It is a very tender subject and my heart goes out to all who have suffered in this way.

What I do believe is that because God made our bodies to create, our God is not limited to use those qualities in only one way.

You may have cradled your a swollen belly and felt your baby kick, you may have been handed a newly born answer to prayer as you adopted a sweet baby the day they were born, or you may have held countless hands as you prayed for the young women in your life who have become your spiritual children. All of these paths to motherhood are significant and all of them carry the beauty and privilege that God has ordained us as women to carry!

We have a unique privilege in that our heart just keeps growing as God places people in our life to minister to ~ more full of His love that can be poured out!!

Our bodies are incredible for so many more reasons other than carrying a child too.

A woman has been fashioned by God with His Mother Heart. 

  • Judges 5:7 says, “The villagers ceased to be; they ceased in Israel Until I, Deborah, arose, Until I arose, a mother in Israel.”
  • ~ If you have not read the story yet of Deborah, one of the Judges of Israel, you’ve got to do that asap! God gave her the ability to listen and discern the issues of the people of Israel and bring down judgement on them befitting the requests. God’s heart leans toward us when we come to Him with our life issues and He discerns what is best for us. In this same way, Deborah was able to rise up and lead the people to a place of victory and healing…as a mother. She saw God’s people in pain and her heart could no longer take the inaction. God created women to be caretakers.

A woman has been ordained to carry spiritual truths to the next generations.

  • 2 Timothy 1:5 says, “I remember your sincere and unqualified faith [the surrendering of your entire self to God in Christ with confident trust in His power, wisdom and goodness, a faith] which first lived in [the heart of] your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am confident that it is in you as well.”
  • ~ Not only to our own children, but to all of those in our sphere of influence, are we to share the truths of scripture with. You are probably a mentor without even knowing it! Whether it is your daughters, the young mom at church who asks you questions about motherhood, your friends that you meet for coffee, or the college student you hang out with, your grandchildren or the little ones in children’s church on Sunday mornings…you are mentoring them by sharing your life and letting them see what it means to allow God to work in your life.

A woman has been given the power to protect.

  • Exodus 2 shares the story of a mother who has what I like to call the “Mama Bear” protocol, absolutely sewn into her very being. {And we all have it by the way!} These verses (1-4) say, Now a man of the house of Levi [the priestly tribe] went and took as his wife a daughter of Levi. The woman conceived and gave birth to a son; and when she saw that he was [especially] beautiful and healthy, she hid him for three months [to protect him from the Egyptians]. When she could no longer hide him, she got him a basket (chest) made of papyrus reeds and covered it with tar and pitch [making it waterproof]. Then she put the child in it and set it among the reeds by the bank of the Nile. And his sister [Miriam] stood some distance away to find out what would happen to him.”
    ~
    We do not know the name of Moses’ mother in these verses, but find out later in Exodus 6 that her name is Jochebed. This woman knew that there was something special in her son Moses and she was going to do whatever it took to protect him.     ~ I can only imagine what she went through in those months of keeping him safe from execution. But how beautiful that God provided a way for her to care for him and nurse him, even after he was found and adopted into the Pharoah’s house. This is one of God’s amazing kindnesses we see in scripture. 

A woman has been given the grace to carry life.

  • Psalm 139:13 says, “For You formed my innermost parts; You knit me [together] in my mother’s womb.”
  • John 16:21 gives this insight, “A woman, when she is in labor, has pain because her time [to give birth] has come; but when she has given birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish because of her joy that a child has come into the world.” 

  • ~ There is pain in growth. Pregnancy can be precarious and there are no guarantees. I almost lost our third daughter at 16 weeks when I had an extreme gall bladder attack. Our doctor told us that even though carrying a child is a normal function for a woman, any time our body goes into distress (like a gall bladder attack) the body will seek out “foreign entities and get rid of them.” My brain could hardly comprehend what the doctor was saying…have the surgery to remove my gall bladder so I wouldn’t have another attack but possibly lose the baby, or wait till after birth to have the surgery but if I had another attack at another point in the pregnancy, I ran the high risk of miscarriage. What? The caring hearts of all the doctors and nurses involved in my emergency surgery were beyond amazing. My husband and I are so grateful to them and to the Lord who saw fit to keep our little one safe during surgery. But in the pain of that surgery, the pain of childbirth, it really does all go away almost quicker than it came. 

A woman’s body is incredible!

Our hearts break when we walk a hard road with a friend simply because their heart is broken.

Our hearts swell with pride at our child’s accomplishments or when we see the growth of one whom we’ve been mentoring as they reach their dreams.

We cry at every single “Soldier coming home” story, even if it’s for a coffee commercial.

We rise up and fight for those who do not have a voice, or the strength, to fight for themselves.

We encourage our people to grow and change, to mature and become world changers because we know how capable they are in their gifting’s to make a difference in this world!

We serve an incredible God, who has created us to be incredible!

Women ~ our bodies, our hearts, our minds, our emotions, our feelings ~ they are all important and they are all that encompasses the reality that we are incredible!!

Blessings,

René

Women are amazing!

 

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

Are you in Good Hands…

You’re in your living room, half watching a TV show, when a certain insurance commercial comes on. You know the one, the guy with the super deep voice that just draws you in. The kind of voice that is talking about something that you now know you need even though you weren’t looking for it 5 minutes ago. And then he says, “Now that you know the truth, are you in good hands?”

Well, are you?

When I was a child, one of the most safe places I could find was walking side by side with my father while he held my hand. My father seemed bigger than life to me. I mean, he was a fireman…how cool was that! He ran into burning buildings when people were scrambling to get out. In his hands, he directed his team on how to best fight the fire. In his hands, he could guide the tremendous force of water coming through a fire hose to douse a blaze. In his hands, he could analyze the aftermath of a fire and figure out why and how (and who!) the fire started. But his strength didn’t just lie in the power of his job.

In his hands, he held a colicky baby (yeah…that’d be me) while he read the paper, patiently waiting for sleep to arrive. In his hands, he buried his first born son from SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). In his hands, he comforted other families who had lost children the same way. In his hands, he carried severely burned people out of fiery buildings. In his hands, he carried small children who didn’t make it out of a fire. In his hands, he taught a timid 17 year old how to drive. In his hands, he spent all year growing a cottony-soft white beard all so that he could play Santa to my daughters (which the two year old truly thought he was the real deal and was dumbfounded when “Santa” showed up at her front door on Christmas morning.) In his hands, he cared for our family and for his parents as they aged, with a quiet humility.

In his hands, I was never afraid.

I’m beyond grateful that I have a picture here on earth of how a father loves his child. It’s just a glimpse, because in all truthfulness, for as much as I love my father, he wasn’t perfect. He’d never claim to be. But he’s always been there when I need him. Or when I needed him to teach my children algebra, because math and I have never been friends. I have several friends who did not have a great relationship with their earthly father and in some ways it has made it more difficult to cultivate a deep relationship with Father God. But there is always room for improvement.

Because in God’s Hands, we know the truth and we can know the depth of love and care like we’ve never experienced.

I’m just gonna let the living words of the Psalms speak for themselves here ~

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

*Psalm 18:35 “You have also given me the shield of Your salvation, And Your right hand upholds and sustains me; Your gentleness [Your gracious response when I pray] makes me great.”

*Psalm 31:5 “Into Your hand I commit my spirit; You have redeemed me, O Lord, the God of truth and faithfulness.”

*Psalm 63:8 “My soul [my life, my very self] clings to You; Your right hand upholds me.”

*Psalm 92:4 “For You, O Lord, have made me glad by Your works; At the works of Your hands I joyfully sing.”

*Psalm 139:5 “You have enclosed me behind and before, And [You have] placed Your hand upon me.”

 

In His hands, I have been created. In His hands, I am secure. In His hands, there is a good path set before me. In His hands, I am made joyful. In His hands, I am protected. In His hands, I am saved. In His hands, I am redeemed. In His hands, I am loved. In His hands, I can choose to love Him back. In His hands, I can show others the truth of His words. In His Hands, I am redeemed. In His Hands, I am qualified. In His hands, I can be a good mother and wife. In His hands, I can be the woman He designed me to be.

In His hands, I have my life.

We are absolutely in good hands. We are in the best hands when we are firmly in the grasp of His Hands.

Now, I want you to picture yourself with the Lord. Hear the booming comfort of His voice. Let Him ask you, “Now that you know the truth, are you in good hands?”

Blessings,

René

Are you in Good Hands - pic for blog.png

 

 

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

Active Patience….

These words just do not seem to go together…Actively patient? Patiently waiting? Eagerly awaiting?…

Active: engaged in action characterized by energetic work, participation, etc.;

Patience: an ability or willingness to suppress restlessness or annoyance when confronted with delay.

So if we play the old teacher trick of learning how to use words properly and write a sentence using those words…so here’s mine ~

To be engaged with energetic participation while at the same time being willing to keep annoyance at a distance when faced with task of waiting. {rab}

Doesn’t that sound like fun? 🙂

Our brains just don’t seem to work that way to think that these words could actually be a complement one another. The season that our family has been in for the past several months has been one of excitement and sorrow, anticipation, joy, and sadness. As the day drew closer for her daughter’s wedding we were eagerly anticipating that special day and praying that God would be honored in that day. And He absolutely was! It is a surreal for sure to watch your baby get married and pledge her life to the man that you have been praying for years since she was a child. To see the reality of those prayers, those 24 years worth of prayers, come to fruition is joyfully humbling. To see how their lives have been shaped by a variety of events, how their paths crossed so many times, how they could’ve met on many different occasions…But God knew the exact moment that He wanted to bring them together and it was perfectly timed.

That is the kind of anticipation we all dream about and become giddy about when we see it coming true.

But what about the anticipation of knowing a loved one has the proverbial one foot in this earth and one foot at the threshold of heaven? When you know their heart is eagerly awaiting a moment of being Jesus and with those who have gone before them? How do we put that together in our mind? There is nothing you can do except to be patient while your loved one appears to be helplessly waiting for their time to come.

Twenty-five short days after the most joyful day of our year, watching our daughter as she got married, we watched my father-in-law and my grandmother called home to be with the Lord ~ within one day of each other. The sorrow that overcame me in those days was real, but just as real was the joy that they are whole and complete in the presence of the Lord…their Savior they both so dearly loved.

In the midst of all of that, my husband developed a terrible case of shingles on his face just a mere six days after the wedding. I’ve had my own issues with shoulder pain that seemed to come out of nowhere. And then we added some more joy (TRULY!  It’s fabulous!!) in the form of a new job opportunity for my husband and a very quick transition of our youngest daughter moving away to her dream college… finding ourselves in the proverbial beginning of being empty nester.

That whole empty nest part of life, well, I can tell you honestly it is not something that I have been eagerly awaiting. It is not something I have been longing for. Sure, there are days that I remember what our three girls were small children, and I would fantasize about having the house to myself…More importantly, having a clean house to myself. But I do not like the quiet. I do not like it at all. But this is where God is going to meet me and I suppose if I am being honest with myself, and with you as you read this maybe you find yourself in the same place, I am not necessarily eagerly awaiting to be alone or to be quiet with God.In so many ways it is nerve-racking to admit this. I have been a Christian for 40 years, I love the Lord and my heart is to serve Him, and besides that, are we supposed to admit these times when we are a little nervous or maybe even afraid to be alone with God?

I can say that I am nervous about what I will hear from the Lord.

What does He want from me in this new season of my life? What will he require from me in order to serve Him? Will it be hard? Are there decisions ahead of me that will be difficult to make? All of these things ramble around in my mind and I am grateful that the Lord is patiently awaiting my availability to be with Him. Oh sure, I will read devotionals, I will read inspirational books from fantastic authors, I will read the youversion Bible app verse of the day… but I know God is calling me to much, much more.

Psalm 37:7 {AMP} “Be still before the Lord; waitpatiently for Him and entrust yourself to Him; Do not fret (whine, agonize) because of him who prospers in his way, Because of the man who carries out wicked schemes.”

God is calling me to a place where I can be patiently waiting – actively patient – dare I say, eagerly awaiting even?

God wants me in a place every morning where I can honestly pray and tell the Lord, “Use me today however You want to, in the way that You need to, in order to bring You glory.” Even now it is really easy to write this because I have followed the Lord for so long, I know the right answers. I know the right things to say to make me sound as though I have my “Christian walk” all together. But until I put all of that knowledge to work, nothing that God has called me to do will be accomplished the way He intends.

I have researched hundreds of verses that talk about being patient, being eager, about waiting…And all of them point me to the same place.

I must seek him first. Always every day.I need to trust the voice of the Holy Spirit when He whispers to me an idea, something to pray about, someone to pray for, even the thoughts that come to me for ideas about writing a blog post or writing a book. After seeing how God has created so many opportunities in my life for His glory to shine through because of how He has provided for me and for our family, it is a wonder even to me that I doubt the call that God has placed on my life.

Where do you find yourself today? Are you in the same place that I am right now? Are you wondering how someone can call themselves a “good Christian” and have these doubts that I have? {but please please remember that our salvation is NOT based on works…we are only saved through the grace and favor from the Lord Jesus Christ ~ John 14:6}. What part of the journey that you are on, the call that God has put on your life, where are you at with it?

Are you simply sitting back waiting for God to show up and do something or are you eagerly anticipating thoughts and ideas that have been whispered to your heart in a way that is filled with actions and excitement? The beginnings of a new year are always full of resolutions, new promises to ourselves and others, and a sense of renewed hope for the future. But the one common denominator in all of those things, for any of those things to happen in the way God intended, is for us to be active participantsin the adventure! If I want to see God working in my life I have to be in direct communication with Him so that I can recognize those moments when they come.

This reminds me of a conference I went to last year where I met with the main speaker afterwards. She spoke a word over my life and shared an image that God gave her for me. She said, “I see you in a hot air balloon and God is asking you to become completely untethered. Let go of all those things that are keeping you safely on the ground. Trust Him to take you to height that you have never imagined…but God is asking you to cut the ropes.”

That word absolutely excited and terrified me at the same time! As you can well imagine I’m sure. I believe that there are several of those rope tethers that I have cut loose. But even now as I write this blog, God is showing me a picture of that hot air balloon still halfway tethered to the posts on the ground. It is off balance and the fire that is needed to lift the hot air balloon properly off the ground cannot be fully realize because if it is, it will simply burn a hole through the side of the balloon, and I will not be able to take off.

All of the ropes need to be untethered so that I can fully let the Holy Spirit’s fire burst forth in my life. I have to trust that that fire will not burn me…It will only shine a light and bring glory to the Lord as He leads me to the places He intends for me to be. When I sat down to write today, actually I am voice texting all of this into my Notes app on my phone while I drive home from Orange County. Honestly, sometimes the only time I feel that I have to myself, even though I am now an empty nester, is when I am driving in my car somewhere. Especially in Southern California there is a lot of traffic to sit through so it works out pretty good.

That aside, when I was beginning to say is that I had no intention of going so deep but this is what happens when I let go of my intentions, my agenda, my expectations, and let Jesus truly take control.

Psalm 130:5 “I wait [patiently] for the Lord, my soul [expectantly] waits, And in His word do I hope.”

My goal and prayer is that these words will cause a fresh wave of God’s peace to wash over you. Maybe that wave needs to knock you over like it does for me today, but He will not let you be overwhelmed. Have you ever done one of the “trust falls” ~ that’s what it’s like trusting the Lord a lot of time…lean back and trust that He will catch you when you lean back and/or pick you up when you fall.

My prayer is that you hear God’s voice in your own life, right now, telling you what your next step needs to be, what rope you need to cut and become unattached from. And of course, the verses that I am sharing with you today, I pray that you will find rest and solace in the truth of God’s Word. Don’t just take my word for it, go to His Word and dig deeper so that you have the awesome experience to encounter with what the Holy Spirit has been trying to tell you for so long.

Today is that day that you can start again……Where you can embrace the opportunity to patiently yet at the same time eagerly, a wait and see what God has for you!

Blessings,

René

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

Celebrations and Preparations…

I absolutely LOVE to have parties & get-togethers!! To the point it drives my sweet husband a bit crazy. 

I mean, what better way to get your house clean than to prep for a party! Right? In our almost 27 years of marriage, we have moved 14 times…yep…fourteen! And every single time, we’ve hosted family & friends for a birthday party or holiday celebration within a month of our move in date. My family indulges me, even in the midst of my crazy, to help get the house in order.

Boxes are unpacked, items put away, pictures are hung on the walls, and drawers are filled. And okay, whatever I don’t know what to do with in the moment, stays in the box and goes into the garage! Come on…you’ve got a few (or 20!) of those boxes in your garage too!! 

But inevitably, “crazy-town mom” would rear her ugly head & the beautiful event we were preparing for would be scarred with one of my freak outs. It’s hard sometimes to look at photos of various events from past because they are marred (in my mind at least) by my unrealistic expectations that I poured out on my family like boiling tar over the walls of a castle onto the enemy. It still makes me cringe, and I once again have to give those guilt feelings to the Lord and ask Him to touch my heart & mind with His grace…and grace for my family too.

Over the years, the intensity of planning parties has lessened for me because the true value of these times of celebration is about the people. It’s not about the platters & bowls matching perfectly on an expertly laid out serving table.  And thank the Lord, I stay away from Pinterest…no judgement for you if you have all kinds of things ‘pinned on you party boards’…I just know that for me, it would be more of a burden than a joy.

But I LOVE to celebrate….like, EVERYTHING!  I have boxes in the garage for every holiday…Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Easter, Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Fall, Thanksgiving, and of course Christmas (those take up the most space).  And yes….there is a difference between “Fall” and “Thanksgiving” decorations!!

I’ve been known to put in silly  notes to my kids lunches all the way through high school!  I love to arrange tea parties and coffee dates with friends, just because. Surprising a special teacher at school with treats or their favorite Starbucks drink. Baking cookies during the holidays and throwing old-fashioned “cookie exchange” parties.

I simply LOVE to CELEBRATE!  After all these years, I’m finally getting better at the “pre-celebrations” part!

Several years ago, September 9, 2013 to be exact, my husband’s first book was released!  It was so exciting!  He had worked on it for over two year in-between his day job and keeping up with all of our family adventures.  So of course, I wanted to throw him a party to show him how proud we all were of him.  We wanted to celebrate his accomplishments!

He wanted to go out to dinner with just our family.

So of course, I organized a surprise party for him with our friends and family!  Appetizers for the guests to enjoy until we got back home and yummy desserts to enjoy after we arrived.

I had the task of making sure he didn’t go out to our “garage fridge” so he wouldn’t see all the goodies. Then, I had to figure out how to get him out of the house. The errand I created wasn’t one where we would get dressed up, and I thought, “What does it matter? We’re celebrating his achievements, not our wardrobe!”  I had our three girls ready to spring into action to set up food & decorations after we left. I remember how surprised they were when I told them, “Y’all know where all the serving platters are, you know what food we’re serving, have fun with it, get creative & use whatever you want.”

They just stared at me like I’d spoken in a foreign language. Finally one of them spoke up and said, “Anything? Are you sure? I mean, usually you want things in a specific way.”  And they were right…they’d seen “crazy-town mom” one too many times. I assured them that I would be happy with whatever they did & wanted them to use their creativity. The best part…I meant it…and they believed me.

Oh, and my sweet husband was completely surprised & loved the party. No stress. No craziness. Just celebration!

But what really has spurred my recollection of that party was the “party weekend extravaganza” we recently enjoyed. 

Yes…ENJOYED…every minute of it!!

I enjoyed it thoroughly because I let go of my unrealistic expectations & control. I remained completely present at every event. Not allowing myself to jump to the next one. Each celebration was unique unto itself & could not be repeated.  The help that was offered, was gladly received.  The friends who helped set up and clean up were immensely appreciated. Dirty dishes in the sink for days…didn’t matter because that’s what a dishwasher was for and there was plenty of time later for that.  The people were the important parts of each celebration to focus on.

Within three days, these were the fabulous memory-making parties our family was involved with:

Friday night – High School Baccalaureate for our youngest daughter, followed by a family dinner, and a 10pm showing of “Wonder Woman.” ~ which was amazing!!

Saturday morning/afternoon – High School Graduation (our last daughter graduated..so this was really “it” for high school!), followed by her party.

Saturday evening ~ drove an hour-ish to my nieces “California Baby Shower”…she is such a cute pregnant momma!  So wild that I’ve known her since she was 3 months old and now she’s married and about to become a Mom!

Sunday morning ~ Family Wedding Shower for our oldest daughter.  What a joy to meet with all of her fiancé’s side of the family.  And seriously….my first baby is getting married!  WOW!!!  This shower was lovingly given by his side of the family,  and it was truly a blessing to simply “showing up” and celebrating my girl and seeing how loved she was by her new soon-to-be family.

Sunday afternoon ~ Visit with my father-in-law for his 94th Birthday.  It was worth the hour long drive to see him for a quick bit and tell him how much we love him.  He is not a great health right now, so it was important we go and see him instead of just calling.

Sunday evening ~ Visit with my parents, brother and sister-in-law to celebrate and early Father’s Day (another hour-ish drive).  Our middle daughter was in town for the graduation and Tony and I would be out of the country on the actual day.  Since this was the busiest day, we decided that we would have dessert and coffee instead of a full meal.

Then….back home! Exhausted but happy!

Each of these events were special and worth celebrating fully!  We made it to each one on time (um…yeah….first time to get to graduation ceremony and did NOT have to take the satellite parking shuttle service back to the venue thank you very much!) and I allowed myself to have fun at each one.  Because I was not thinking of the next one!

It was a whirlwind weekend for sure, but absolutely none of the photos that were taken have even a hint of “crazy town mom.”  I love that!

I’m thankful that the Lord is helping me to grow in this area because He created me with a love for celebrating my people!  What I do with that gift is either honoring to Him or honoring myself.  We all know which attitude is better to have.

When I’ve tried to prepare for a party with the intention of impressing those in attendance, it has rarely gone how I expected it to go and end up regretting choices, being ashamed of a negative attitude I allowed to take hold of me, or worse yet, making my family feel like they cannot do anything well enough or good enough simply because it’s not how I would have done it.

I believe God will bring back this “Celebration Weekend” to my mind whenever I start giving “crazy town mom” the keys to the party bus!

God wants us to celebrate…it’s in our nature because it is in HIS nature to celebrate!  The Bible is full of celebrations and feasts, and not one of them was to glorify the host or the party planner.  They were to honor Him….for His goodness, His mercy and grace, His protection, and His joy and love that He has for us.

In no way have I reached perfection in the party planning adventures…but I’m getting much better. I’ve become an expert of the “quick clean” ~ which is nothing to really be proud of…just being honest here…seriously though, don’t open my bedroom door!

But when people leave my home, I want them to go away from the house with a smile on their face, a lightness in their heart, and a feeling of being refreshed because they had been celebrated…they had been warmly embraced and made to feel welcome.

Don’t be afraid of the celebration…of the party planning…of the organization of it all.  Once you have the idea of a party, give it back to the Lord and He will guide you in the steps of the preparations. He really does care about you and how you want to celebrate the people in your life.

So go plan that party!  It’ll be fun!!

Blessings,

Rene’

Celebrations blog

 

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

Careful, your mask is slipping…

I was recently watching a show that I had recorded on TV, called Kingdom of Heaven, taking place in the 12th century during the Crusades, set in Jerusalem. {http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0320661/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1}

It was very fascinating to me that the king of Jerusalem at the time was not a well man, he had leprosy. But that did not stop him from ruling the country. His birthright deemed it so and he did his job to the best of his ability. It was interesting how he wore a metal face mask to hide the ravages of leprosy that had attacked his face. For every day tasks he had a plain mask, where the only thing you could see was his eyes. It was a little unsettling to be able to hear him speak but not see his mouth or his lips moving. The mask was solid in the area all around his face except for his eyes. What I found very interesting was that when he knew he needed to go to war with the enemy, with all of his frailties and disfigurement, he knew as the king he had to be the one to lead his people, his army into battle.

He did not dress down for the battle either. He put on his full armor.

It was so astonishing to see him enter the battlefield dressed in his finest linen edged with intricate gold stitching and amazingly intricate patterns of other gold fabric that had been woven into the garment. But what was even more fascinating was his mask. The mask he wore was absolutely stunning. It had been carved with beautiful flowers and vines that intersected all over the whole thing. When he met his enemy in the middle of the battlefield he spoke with strength and determination and was able to settle their proposed battle without any bloodshed.

Upon his death he wore another mask that was darker in color to reflect the somber situation. The last words he spoke to his sister were, “Please remember me for who I am and what I used to look like in my youth.” You see, she had not seen him in his disfigurement.

He had servant’s that took care of him and his decaying body…and were sworn to secrecy. And I don’t believe it was from embarrassment, I think it was from a place of honor and respect. But after this king had breathed his last, the sister removed mask ~ his beautiful & perfect mask ~ to reveal a face that was hideously disfigured by the leprosy.

She was of course shocked, but you could tell the sadness in her eyes was simply because her brother was now gone. Not because of what he looked like.

So how many masks do we wear throughout our life, our day?

When we are feeling disfigured spiritually by the sin in our life, we put on a mask, and use beautiful garments to hide what is really going on underneath. We have different masks that we wear depending on who we are with. A mask with our family when we are out in public. A mask when we are with our family behind closed doors. A mask that we wear when we are volunteering at our kids school. The mask we wear at work every day. Maybe even the mask we wear with our spouse?

Most of the time I think that mask we tend to put on is just a regular, simple and fairly ambiguous mask. The one that says, “Life is great!” when it really isn’t.

The more beautiful the mask, the more disfigured the soul. The harder we try to distract from the ache of our soul, the deeper the lines are at carved into our mask. We don’t want to let anyone know about what is really going on…

  • Anxiety
  • Financial problems
  • Eating Disorder
  • An abusive relationship
  • Difficult children that are getting out of control
  • Addiction problem
  • And the list goes on and on.

So what happens when that mask slips? When our frustrations and fears get the better of us and we begin acting out of control?

Luke 12:2-3 says, “There is nothing covered that won’t be uncovered, nothing hidden that won’t be made known. Therefore, whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in an ear in private rooms will be proclaimed on the housetops. (HSCB)

How much of our life stays covered and hidden from the Lord?  NONE of it! The masks that we have so cleverly and carefully fashioned over the years, will fall away in the instant that we come before the Lord, humble ourselves, and ask Him to make the beautiful the disfigurement of sin.

I John 5:12-15 reminds us, “The one who has the Son has life. The one who doesn’t have the Son of God does not have life. I have written these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life. Now this is the confidence we have before Him: Whenever we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.  And if we know that He hears whatever we ask, we know that we have what we have asked Him for. (HCSB) {emphasis mine}

The Lord came to earth for YOU…to bring you back from the depths of sin and eternal death.  He does not want you to experience the death of sin, so He has given us the gift of His salvation.  There is nothing we can do to earn it.  There is no need to wear a mask of perfection for Him…because He can already see beneath the mask.

From personal experience, I know what happens when you remove the masks you where in your life. Freedom happens. But it isn’t easy. God expects us and wants us to be a part of the recovery. We have to be determined to operate within the power and strength of HIS might…not our own.  When we try to do it on our own, the mask will pop right back on!  Don’t save the mask, no matter how beautiful you think it is!  THROW IT OUT!

You find true freedom in walking the path as the person God created you to be, flaws and all. You will bring honor to the Lord when others see that you struggle in life, but more importantly, you put your faith and hope in the power of the Lord.  When the mask comes off, we are proclaiming that we are not perfect, but we are perfectly LOVED by the Creator of the Universe.

And if you have any doubts as to where “the mask” fits into the spiritual battle armor (Ephesians 6)  we are called to wear?

It doesn’t.

There is NO mask.

When the mask comes off, our countenance will tell the story of God’s redemption and His love.

Matthew 5:16 declares, “In the same way, let your light shine before men, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.” {emphasis mine}
Take off your mask today ~ choose to live in the freedom of eternal life ~ and share with others the great glory of God’s salvation!
Blessings,
 René
Luke 12 verses 2-3