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

Holding Grief & Joy…

Is it really possible to hold grief and joy at the same time?

Yes, I do believe it is.

November is a precious month to me because of what happened two years ago. I learned to hold grief and joy, together in my heart, like a mother would hold two newborns in her arms. You cherish both, you learn from both…one does not have to win out over the other. But man, it’s so hard to hold them both.

Our oldest daughter got married two years ago at the beginning of November and it truly could not have been a more perfect day! After three days of torrential downpours (which in SoCal is always a shock!) Saturday dawned with a freshness in the air, a promise of the joy to come that day! The blue sky was dotted with fluffy white clouds, no sign of rain at all. Watching your child get married is a surreal thing. It brings you back to your own wedding day. I was keenly aware of this man who was marrying my daughter, I knew him before I knew him because I prayed for him for 24 years. I trusted that the Lord was watching over this man who would one day capture my daughter’s heart. What tremendous joy!! I get teary every time I think of this fantastic privilege to see a prayer come to life. It was a perfect day.

The weeks that followed however, I would not classify them in the “perfect” category. I think this is when I began to learn how to hold grief and joy in the same embrace.

The Friday after the wedding, my husband was struck with a terrible case of shingles…on…his…face! It was awful and painful and a bit terrifying. He was on medication and had many doctor and ophthalmologist appointments to make sure the virus didn’t affect his vision. It was so painful to watch him go through it all.

We had just come from such a high high and now experiencing a tremendous low.

On top of that, a few days before the shingles hit my honey’s darling face, I discovered why my neck had been hurting for a few weeks. I had somehow popped the top right back rib out of place. I would seriously rather give birth without drugs (because I have!) than feel the pain of having a rib put BACK into place several times before it finally stayed in place. Oh, the tears and the ugly-cry that happened in the chiropractor’s office for the first week or two of treatment! Thankfully it was where my now married daughter worked, so she was a bright spot in my day!

So, in the span of a few weeks, we’ve got…wedding…popped rib…shingles…we had enough riding on the emotional rollercoaster of life and were looking forward to things settling down.

At the end of November my father-in-law, Jim, passed away. It wasn’t completely unexpected but it’s still never easy. My husband and I were able to be there the night before and have our time with him and we knew that was a huge blessing.

As I sat at the funeral home with my mother-in-law and two of my sisters-in-law, my own mom called and said that I should make my way to my grandmother’s apartment as soon as I could. Again, not completely unexpected, but still came as a shock. Her goal was to make it to her great-granddaughter’s wedding and we’re so thankful she was able to!

As I drove the hour from Orange County to Burbank, I cried and pleaded with the Lord to give me one more day with my grandma. I knew our little family couldn’t handle two deaths on the same day.

God was so gracious and there was my sweet grandma Marie, fully dressed with her shoes on, resting comfortably in her lift chair. She was sleeping, but she had changed so much. My grief took over, and I bolted from the room. In the midst of my own mother’s grief, she comforted me in mine. I knew my amazing grandmother was so close to heaven and I didn’t know how I could deal with it all.

But let me tell you part of the secret of holding grief and joy together…it’s what my grandma said to me when I went back into her apartment.

I sat down next to her and held her hand. She opened up her eyes, that were still sparkling with all that grandma love, and said how happy she was to see me and patted the back of my hand. But she could see the grief in my eyes. Her next question, “How’s Jim?” She had closed her eyes after asking for a just a bit, long enough for me to try and pull myself together. When she opened her eyes and say the tears streaming down my face, she just said, “Oh honey, I’m so sorry. But we know where he is.”

This is how we hold grief and joy at the same time.

She knew was she was not far from seeing the Lord face to face, something she was joyous about, but she was still able to have a tender heart toward my sadness.

We cannot press down and suffocate the grief.

We have to face it.

We cry and we are sad. Maybe we are confused or mad.

Those feelings must both be experienced fully to come out of pain on the other side and be okay.

But in the grief, there was joy knowing that all the pain and suffering my father-in-law experienced was completely gone. He was wholly healed and I love to imagine my staunch Missionary Baptist father-in-law, dancing and singing praises in heaven to the King of Kings. That is joy!

I spent the rest of the day with my grandmother, and much of the family began to come in. We gathered around her chair and celebrated her. We told stories and every now and then, she would too. When she finally needed to rest in her own room, we were able to go in individually, and have some time with her. And I treasure the knowledge that she prayed for her children, her grandchildren, and her great-grandchildren every single day! What a legacy of faith!

Those moments too were held together by grief and joy.

None of us wanted to leave that night because we knew what was coming.

The next day, I arrived and checked in with my parents who’d gotten there a while before me. We thought we had a few more days. But as quickly as the hospice nurses arrived to do their assessment, days became moments. They rushed us in, my parents and I, and we had the honor of singing her into heaven.

Another moment held together with equal parts of grief and joy. 

Yes, equal parts.

The next few weeks were a bit of blur as we had services for both my grandmother and my father-in-law. And all of that in the midst of preparing for Christmas. Family coming into town, hosting dinners and being together as much as we could. Even in all of this, the experiences are different for everyone. Our oldest daughter was a newlywed. Our middle daughter lives out of state. Our youngest daughter was navigating her Freshman year of college. My husband was still dealing with the effects of shingles. And I could now get dressed without wincing in extreme pain.

The physical and emotional pain. The grief and the joy. 

They don’t always take turns.

Sometimes they arrive at the same time.

But here’s the best part, as I believe we are created in the image of God, He orchestrates our life and helps guide us through those times when we are required to hold grief and joy at the same time. He is in fact an expert at this.

That moment on the Cross, when His beloved Son took upon every single sin and all depravity of every human being that had been born and was still to be born, He had to look away. The grief that God the Father had to sit with is unimaginable to me. But He did it because of the magnitude of joy that was brought on by Jesus’ death and resurrection ~ the joy that we now had the free gift of reconciliation with our heavenly Father.

Here’s a passage from Matthew 27:45-54 ~ take some time and ponder this in your heart of how God the Father had to hold grief and joy at the same time…

45 “Now from the sixth hour (noon) there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour (3:00 p.m.). 46 About the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud [agonized] voice, [j]Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” 47 When some of the bystanders there heard it, they began saying, “This man is calling for [k]Elijah.” 48 Immediately one of them ran, and took a sponge, soaked it with sour wine and put it on a reed, and gave Him a drink. 49 But the rest said, “Let us see whether Elijah will come to save Him [from death].” 50 And Jesus cried out again with a loud [agonized] voice, and gave up His spirit [voluntarily, sovereignly dismissing and releasing His spirit from His body in submission to His Father’s plan]. 51 And [at once] the veil [of the Holy of Holies] of the temple was [l]torn in two from top to bottom; the earth shook and the rocks were split apart. 52 The tombs were opened, and many bodies of the saints (God’s people) who had fallen asleep [in death] were raised [to life]; 53 and coming out of the tombs after His resurrection, they entered the holy city (Jerusalem) and appeared to many people. 54 Now the centurion, and those who were with him keeping guard over Jesus, when they saw the earthquake and the things that were happening, they were terribly frightened and filled with awe, and said, “Truly this was the Son of God!”

The Lord has felt it all ~

Every feeling.

Every emotion.

Every hardship.

Every trial.

Every joy.

Every happiness.

With Him, we can do the same. We can experience grief and we can celebrate joy.

And we can do this at the same time.

We can hold grief and joy together.

Blessings,

René

Holding Together Grief and Joy - blog pic

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

 

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

Soil and Roots…

On a recent visit with my in-laws, my mother-in-law was pointing out the great job that her gardener had done on the new landscaping and sprinkler system.  But we noticed that the parkway planter area that held a large beautiful tree, was quite dry.  She told us her gardener assured her, “Even though the soil doesn’t seem like it’s being watered enough from the top, the roots were getting plenty of water from the surrounding soil UNDER the ground.”  He told her what to look out for with the tree to make sure it was growing and not suffering from lack of watering.

I have not been able to get that story out of my head for weeks now.  And here I sit at a new coffee shop and I realize that the mural on the wall in front of me…it’s a painting of roots!  Okay, Lord, I get it!  I’m digging in!!

Jeremiah 17:8 say, “He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.”

This is exactly the verse that came to mind when my mother-in-law was telling us about her tree.

I would not say I have a green thumb…nor a black thumb…just hands that are really good at purchasing new plants when the old ones die.  Why do you think they sell plants at the grocery store?!  But I have managed to keep quite of few philodendrons alive (and mostly well) in my kitchen and living room.  Indulge me a bit while I share my “gardening” observations.

I have six plants in my kitchen and four plants in my living room.

The 6 plants in my kitchen are fabulous!

One of them I received from a friend who was moving out of state and couldn’t take it with her…my “Jenn plant” has managed to stay alive and green for the 5 years since her family moved. I think it thrives because I notice it more and water it more often…it reminds me of my friend and I pray for her and her family every time I see it.

The larger plant on a stand by the window is the one that thrives the most. I believe because it’s closest to the sunlight, it grows the best. It has the benefit of weekly watering and is daily bathed with the rays from the sun. There are two other plants on the little kitchen sink window ledge that live well with partial sun as well.

Now, the two to the left of my kitchen window, that’s another story. They are in smaller pots, which means that there is not a lot of space for their roots to spread out. But the pots are just so cute…and the shelf they sit on doesn’t really have space for a larger vessel. They are little out of my line of sight, so I know I wait too long to water them. They look quite wilted and give me little hope that they will “spring back to life” just because I water them  But every single time I take them down and give them a good watering, a few hours later I look up at them and they’ve been revived!  It’s amazing what a little water can do!

Well, then there’s the plants in the living room.  We don’t really get any sunlight in there, at least where I have the plants. Those pots are regularly the ones I have to repurchase new plants from the store. They start out full and lovely and after time, I’m watering pots of dirt with one stalk of three or four sad leaves on it. And they don’t perk up at all after the watering.

So what kind of plant are you?

Do you put yourself in a place where you are being watered and cared for?  Do you soak in the sunlight when it’s available?

Do you slowly lose your stamina until there’s almost nothing left?

Or are you the tree planted with deep roots?

When we make the decision to stand firm in our relationship with the Lord, and let Him water the roots of our life in Him, we can withstand ANY kind of storm or drought. Even when the topsoil of our life is dry and dusty, we can still grow and bear fruit of who God is in our life. We need not fear anything because we know Who we are rooted in.

Taking time each day to be rooted in God’s Word ~ that is the only way to remain standing and not sway or break with the ever-changing moments life will bring.

Think of a palm tree. I’ve lived in Florida – palm trees galore. I’ve witnessed the strength and remarkable flexibility of these trees during storms. Being born and raised in Southern California, what is more iconic than the palm tree lined streets of the city suburbs and beaches? Here, the greatest characteristic of these trees is that depending on where they are planted, they are either straight and tall, or they seem crazily slanted…but both features are simply because they desire to be in the full gaze of the sun’s light.

Palm trees are amazing to me when you see them bending like crazy-straws during a hurricane but when the storm is over, it regains its composure.  How?  They have an incredibly fibrous root system that goes down into the ground very very deep.  The palm has roots that keep growing, that continue to gain nutrients to sustain their life, and a leaf system that overlaps the branches all coming from one common trunk.

I mean, I am so excited just thinking about the similarities here between my life as a Christian and how God made palm trees.  I mean, besides how cool they are, what a life lesson they are to us ~ and I know that God does not do anything haphazardly.

Do we remain steadfast and let our roots go deep with God? Do we yearn so earnestly to be in the light of the Son, that we may look a little like a “bendy-straw” to those looking at our life? Do we look like we’re going to simply break in half during the storm of life? Do we regain our strength and stand tall when the storm is over? Do we continue to bear fruit in the midst of a drought?

I know these plants.

Sometimes I contently sit in my “little pot” waiting to be watered but slowly dying inside because I don’t go where the sunlight will strengthen me. But I want more of those times when I’m seen, watered, and cared for by Gardener. Unlike a plant in a pot, I have to be an active participant in the watering!

I know this tree.

More and more I am the palm tree. I know the value of sticking close to God’s Word and burrowing deep so that the roots of my heart and soul are planted securely within the truths of the life He has intended for me to live.

I am this tree.

I’ve been the tree in the desert, the tree with the dry topsoil, the tree that still survives because the roots are deep. It doesn’t mean I have it all figured out. I don’t have the market cornered on staying strong in the midst of the storm. I just know that trusting in the One who refreshed me with water from the spring of everlasting Life in Him.

So even when I look a bit slanted, or a bit like a crazy bendy-straw, just know that I’m in the process of reaching out to be as close to the Son as I possibly can! Come join me!

Blessings,

René

Jeremiah 17 verse 8

 

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

A Story of Six Fathers….

This past weekend, we celebrated Father’s Day.  One of the songs we sang was “Good Good Father” and man….it gets me every time!  I have a good good Father and He loves me so much!  The service also made me think about the father’s that are in my life, and how I believe that the Lord ~ my Heavenly Father ~ has used all of them to shape my own life and about the life that God has for me.

The catch is, I’m not going to tell you how these fathers are related to me until the end of this blog, so you’ve gotta dive in and come along this journey with me.

The first man is someone of whom I know very little of. I’ve only met him in person once, chatted on the phone a few times, received a few letters from, and have sent Christmas cards to him for over a decade. His life is different now, but the stories of an earlier time in life are not what I would call a “good father.”  He had addictions to drugs and alcohol, physically harmed his wife, and emotionally harmed his children. At one of the births, he was so drunk that the flowers he brought into his wife’s hospital room had been plucked fresh from the gardens outside the hospital…with roots and dirt still attached.  I know this man feels remorse, and has said as such, about his “life before being sober,” but it has still held him back from having a healthy relationship with his children.

The second man is the picture of a husband and father deeply devoted to his family.  Even to children not borne of him, he warmly welcomed them into his family and called them his own. There is always a funny joke (okay…corny is more the word for it), a smile and a hug upon entering his home, sweet notes of encouragement for no reason at all, and all of this is done with such a generous spirit.  He truly serves his family with love and grace.

The third man is someone that I would not want to meet in a dark alley. He is gruff and selfish. He is frightening and commanding. He is cunning and sharp. He is full of smiles and pats on the back. He appears generous but there are always strings attached. He is two-sided ~ depending on which side you are on, determines how you are treated. Nothing was ever good enough…his wife and children could never truly do anything that pleased him.  It often made me wonder why on earth this man even got married in the first place. His fits of anger were terrifying…even more so because many times he would have a smile on his face. He lied to gain approval from others.  He told stories that weren’t true. He embellished true stories, in an effort to somehow make himself seem more important that he really was. When his son received the Lord, he emotionally disowned him. His son was 45 years old before he ever hugged him…and then only because they were seated next to each other at a Father’s Day service at church.  That was about the last time this man entered a church building.

The fourth man is strong and gentle.  He is kind and generous.  He can be intimidating because he’s so tall.  His piercing eyes are at the same time full of love and expectation. He is a man of few words, but when he does speak, it is always worth listening to. He too welcomed children into his life that were not his own. The child who was his was lost at a very young age and I do not think he quite recovered. This man is very wise and knows so much about safety, boating, the weather, and he can build just about anything and everything…which you can see in the home he built for his retirement. He loved the Lord but felt that he couldn’t truly receive the Lord as His Savior (even though he always believed) until he stopped drinking beer. That broke my heart to hear this, but I’m so grateful he did!

The fifth man is complex and simple at the same time. He is so smart and knows the answer to just about any question thrown his way.  He loves cars and loves to drive.  In fact, I think if you were lost anywhere in the United States and called him for directions, he would be able to get you where you needed to go! He would do anything for his family. His job of over 30 years was one where he put himself in harms way everyday to make sure that people were safe. He is kind and beyond gracious to his wife and children. Sometimes his kindness has been seen as weakness by others, but I know that it is a gift the Lord has given to him. He loves the Lord with all of his heart and soul. There is a calmness about him, and a sense of trust that everyone can tell when they are around him. He hardly ever does anything just for himself, because quite honestly, I don’t know if he truly believes that he deserves good things. His upbringing and losing a child of his own may have some connection to that, but oh how I wish that someday he would know how truly incredible he is to his family and friends.

The sixth man is someone whom I have come to admire more and more everyday.  I’ve known him for more than half of my life and I wouldn’t know what to do without him. He gives everyone the benefit of the doubt (a little too often if you ask me) and his gut instinct is to trust everyone. He is honest and doesn’t lie to anyone. His wife and children and of the utmost importance to him and he does all he can to provide well for them.  His extended family is very important to him too, and I’m pretty sure they all know it! From his life today, you wouldn’t necessarily know that he came from a broken family. By God’s grace, he never got mixed up into trouble while growing up. He is the definition of a strong, kind, gracious, and merciful husband and father. He is funny and loving.  Sometimes he lacks that all important “filter” but usually comes out smelling like a rose…and those moments have honestly been a source of amusement for his family. This man wants to life the best life he can.  This man wants to honor the Lord in all he does.

Whew…that was a bit of an emotional roller-coaster for me there.  I’m sure that there are qualities in each of these men that I described that you can identify with.  Maybe someone who is not in your life anymore, or someone who still is.

The best news I have for you ~ whether you have a difficult father or a kind father ~ is that there is the ultimate Father who loves you no matter what!  Our Father God is the one from whom we can receive unconditional love, immense grace, undeserved mercy, and everlasting life. The sacrifice He made, in the death of His Son Jesus Christ, was not the end of the story.  The resurrection of Jesus made it possible for us to find out way back to our amazing Father in heaven. Jesus filled that gap.  There is no one else who can do that for you.

So who are all these father’s I wrote about today…I won’t hold you in suspense any longer…

The first man ~ he is my husband’s birth father. He was never there to show my husband what it meant to be a good father. The facts of his addictions and abuses were shared with my husband by his mom, and through seeing her heartache, my husband determined himself at a very young age that he would not grow up like that. I also strongly believe in the power of prayer and know that my husband was spared many temptations because of prayer.  One of the people that prayed for him, just about every day since I was born, was my parents. He has been sober for a very long time and has wonderful second family.  They do not know him as my husband knew him, so it’s difficult for them to understand. However I’m so grateful that he was given a second chance. What I pray for this man, is that someday he can truly rest in the power of God’s grace and forgiveness.

The second man ~ he is the man my husband calls “Dad.” He came into my husband’s life when he was a teenager.  This man loves my husband as his own son.  He was strict and loving at a time when I know my husband needed it.  He is the one who showed my husband what it meant to be a kind and loving father. We are blessed that he is still here on this earth to share his life, hear his stories, and learn from him how to love & serve the Lord with all your heart.

The third man ~ he is my father’s father. He was a hard man on all levels. To see what kind of person he was, and see what kind of man my father is, it is amazing to me that they are related.  Sadly, at least as much as I know, he did not believe in God.  He thought that he was “too good for all the Christian stuff.” He believed that following Jesus was for the weak. He fooled some, but to those who knew him, we didn’t buy it. When he passed away, my heart ached because he was now truly lost.

The fourth man ~ he is my mother’s step-father. He always seemed unapproachable, but I always knew that he loved me. It wasn’t until I had children of my own that I literally saw the emotional walls come down. The walls he had so carefully built to protect his heart. Seeing him hold my daughter’s when they were infants, that man just melted. I think the final bricks came down when one of my girls, at the age of 2 (and without warning) grabbed a book and jumped into his lap and said, “Papa, I want you to read me this book.”  He looked over at me with tears in his eyes (which made me cry then, and is making me cry now) and began reading.   This went on for years every time we visited my grandparents.  It is such a comfort to know that I will see him again someday in heaven.

The fifth man ~ he is my father. Again, I believe the power of prayer was at work because I know my mother’s mother prayed for him.  Not by name, but the Lord knew who my mother would marry. I have learned so much from my father.  He has a heart of true forgiveness towards his father, which is miraculous to me. He could have turned out just like his father, but he chose to follow God the Father instead. I’m eternally grateful for that choice, and I am so blessed to have had a father who I knew then, and know now, loves me unconditionally. I know he will always be there for me and my family.

The sixth man ~ this man…he is my favorite…he is my husband. Just as my parents prayed for me to marry a godly man, I know they still pray for him all the time.  My husband has taught me so much about being kind and having patience.  I don’t always listen, but I’m getting better. I am humbled by his daily commitment to me and our daughters; and how he strives to follow the Lord and honor Him in all the decisions he makes in his personal and professional life.  I am blessed too with how he has shown love and support for our three girls.  They have all seen in him what to look for in their own future husband someday.  They know what it means to be taken care of, prayed for, and loved unconditionally.  And they know he isn’t perfect and makes mistakes, but they know they can always trust him. I love that my husband still tries to woo me everyday…those moments make me so incredibly cherished. My husband believes in me. My husband has never lied or cheated on me. I do not hold those truths lightly.

I know that this post has gone very long, and if you are still reading ~ Thank you! My prayer for you is that if you have been hurt by your earthly father, that you are able to ask the Lord to help you forgive so that you can move forward.  You don’t have to go physically to that man to tell him you forgive him, the Lord can stand in that gap for you. And as difficult as it may be, turn to your Heavenly Father and allow Him to heal those hurts and fill those voids that are in your heart and soul.

He is the only one who can do that.  

He is trustworthy.

He is kind.

He is gracious and merciful.

He calls you by name.  

You are His child and He is your Father.

2 Thessalonians 2 verses 16-17

Blessings,

René

{to listen to “Good Good Father”…check it out here… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=djrY_eFDOwE }

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

Reboot….

This has been my mind set pretty much all day, which is why I’m finally getting to my writing at 7:30pm!

Yesterday, when I went to open my “blog ideas” list on my Notes app…I panicked!

 It.Was.Not.There!  

Like, at all!  Tons of other non-essential lists to myself are there, but my “go to” blog ideas list was gone.  My wonderful husband looked up some ideas on google and then we just decided to call Apple tech help.  Sweet Ashley from Austin, TX led me through the process of erasing my iPhone (yes…I said, ERASING!!), which at first totally freaked me out, but she assured me that if I followed her directions, talking out every step of the process, my phone would reboot in about 5 hours.  Then she said, “But wait…before we go through this process, do you have an automatic back up set up on your phone?”  Thankfully, I did (hard lesson learned from the last time something like this happened!) ~ I was confident that Ashley was going to be my saving grace and I’d get my LIST back!

I hope I haven’t lost you with this computer talk of erasing, rebooting, back-ups ~ but hang in there….

The one thing she kept asking me was, “Are you sure you saw your list before the last back up at 6:33am this morning?”  I was fairly sure I’d seen it that afternoon, so we chose that back up to reload.  There was also a back up performed 12 hours earlier ~ were my notes on that one?  Well, we’ll never know!  As I went to sleep last night, my phone had completed its 5 hour long reboot…everything was there right where I left it…except for my list!

Today was an odd Monday in that I didn’t have a concentrated day of writing, but it did give me a lot of time to think about what I would write, what could God bring to my mind, what could I remember from MY LIST!  (Another panic moment!)

Then a friend of mine, who encourages me on “blog days” checked in with me.  I texted her my tale of woe and she had the audacity not to join my pity party!  She wrote back, “Guess you have to reboot your thoughts?”  My eloquent ~ and most Christian-like ~ reply to that was, “Dangit!”  To which I got her response, “An exercise in trust and patience.”  I’m so thankful that God keeps friends in my life who keep me real and keep me grounded!

So, with my day of school activities and committee meetings, my brain kept tossing around the idea of “rebooting my thoughts.”  What does that look like?  How could I tap into that today?  Or any day for that matter?  What does a reboot look like for you?

In the dictionary, reboot refers to literally shut down and restart.  Yes, this phrasing was coined in the early 1980’s with the dawn of the computer age, but read that again ~

“to shut down and restart”

But here is the twist my dear friend….you cannot undertake this process alone.  You must consult with a professional…with one who knows how the manual works…with someone who can guide you through the rebooting process with minimal (or without any!) loss of information.

Had I tried to figure out how to reboot my iPhone, I may have lost precious photos (uh..yeah…I am currently downloading all my photos to my computer while I write this!), or other various apps and programs on my phone.  But because I followed Ashley’s directions, and did not try to second-guess her (she’s the expert here!) or jump ahead of the process, the reboot was successful.  My precious list didn’t show up (it’s floating around in cyberspace I’m sure!) but the reboot was a success.  Everything that was on my iPhone during the last back-up, was returned.

Can you see where I’m going here?  I hope so….it took my all day to figure this one out!

What is it in your life that is out of whack?  Just a hair off?  Something slightly damaged?  What is God asking you to shut down and restart?  What “data” is God asking you to erase?  NONE of these things are easy or comfortable…they are sometimes downright frightening!  But when the God of the Universe, the Father who loves you dearly, is asking you to trust Him through the process of “rebooting and starting over,” He can absolutely 100% be trusted!  He is the expert of your life!  He is the professional that you can run to in times of trouble and distress!

But before you can reboot anything successfully, you have to have made a back-up plan.  Now, my iPhone can be set to do it automatically so I don’t have to think about it.  Seriously, if I have one more thing I have to remember every day…ugh!  Not a good thought!  But with the Lord and His Word, it’s not an automatic anything.  We have to be actively involved in uploading (I know….another computer term) the Living Word of God into our hearts and minds.  When we are daily in process of reading God’s Word, praying throughout our day, we have a back-up of truth that we can draw from when we have to shut down and restart.

We have Old Testament truths in Deuteronomy 11:18-19, Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” and in Psalm 26:2, “Test me, Lord, and try me, examine my heart and my mind;” and in the New Testament we read beautiful verses like Mark 12:30, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’” and a favorite of mine and so many others, Philippians 4:6-8, Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.””

I would like to challenge you right now, when you are done reading this, to go to the Lord in prayer.  Part of this time in prayer can most definitely include time spent in His Word (the best ‘owner & operator’ manual you’ll ever have)!  This is not a “get an answer quick” kind of attitude here, but one of reverence for the fact that the Lord is the ONLY one you can turn to who can help you to be confident through the rebooting process.  Allow Him to take out the thought patterns that are filling your mind with “spam” (sorry…I couldn’t help but get one more computer reference in there)! Let Him clear out the filters of lies that the enemy has been feeding your way. And then…FOLLOW His directions!  This is key!

Jump in and let the professional erase the unnecessary and damaged views you may have about Him, about your life, about the world you are living in.  Allow the Lord (yeah..the professional!) do His work in your life so that you can be made new again.  So that you can move forward freely to accomplish the tasks He has for you, and so that you can do them well.

The rebooting process takes some time.  Just like my iPhone, some of the apps came back right away and worked fine, while other more detailed areas took longer.  There is no way to rush the process ~ because if you try, you will negate the process and it will have to start over.  But thank you Lord Jesus that you are a patient Father, who desires to take the time (when I choose to place my life in His very capable hands) to get me back on the path to restoration and wholeness.

My friends, trust Him today with your reboot!  It’s worth it!!

Blessings,

René

Philippians 4 verse 7

 

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

Seeing the Delight in being Set Apart

Does this title seem like an oxymoron to you?  It does to me ~ and I’m truly beginning to love how God has been working in my heart in the past few years.  Showing me delight in things I previously found absolutely frightening.  He is so good and so patient as I learn these truths.

What does it mean to be set-apart?  As I searched these words in scripture, there are about 60 verses that touch on the subject.  Some of them deal with animals, unclean things, or cities.  However, most of these verses deal with people and how the Lord has set us apart.  Being “set apart” is not for only certain people.  It is not for those who’ve gone through seminary or special theology classes…it is for all who call on the name of Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior.  Let me share a few with you here ~

Leviticus 20:26, “You are to be holy to Me because I, Yahweh, am holy, and I have set you apart from the nations to be Mine.”

Psalm 4:3, “Know that the Lord has set apart the faithful for Himself; the Lord will hear when I call to Him.”

Jeremiah 1:5, “I chose you before I formed you in the womb; I set you apart before you were born. I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”

Galatians 1:15, “But when God, who from my birth set me apart and called me by His grace, was pleased”

I Peter 1:2-3, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father and set apart by the Spirit for obedience and for sprinkling with the blood of Jesus Christ. May grace and peace be multiplied to you. Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. According to His great mercy, He has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead”

I think the verse in Leviticus gives us a beautiful picture of who we are to the Lord.  The phrasing is very clear, that we have done nothing on our own to receive the bounty of God’s love.  Simply because HE is Holy, we are called holy and called to be set apart.  We are separate from those who do not have a relationship with the Lord.  This does not mean we are better than others.  But it does give us an amazing privilege ~ to call the Almighty Creator of the Universe, our Father.  We can call Him our friend, our confidante, our protector, our healer, our Savior.

God is PLEASED to call us His own ~ He yearns to reconcile us back to Him.

I know I wrote a bit about being “set apart” in my last blog, but felt like there was more to say.  It can be our delight to be set apart.  When we allow God to lead us into the calling He personally and specifically places on our life, being set apart doesn’t look lonely ~ it looks whole and full!  This is not the game of kickball in 2nd grade where you got picked last…or not at all.  God chose YOU to be right where you are at this very moment in time because YOU are the one He wants to be a light to the neighbors, family, or co-workers that surround you.  You have a unique job that no one else can quite fill the way you do.  Dive in and see what He has planned for you!

Sometimes, being set apart can feel like you are alone in the quest that God has given you.  Especially if you are the only Christian in your home, work place, dorm room, or in your family. But you are not by yourself ~ the Lord is with you and because He is “the same yesterday, today, and forever,” (Hebrews 13:8), He will never leave you or forget about you.

So take a moment today and ask God what it is that He has set you apart for.  What is it that He has been whispering to your heart to do?  Take time in your prayers to seek Him and not say a word ~ yep…just quietly listen to the still small voice of the Holy Spirit and not give a list of wants and needs.  God is faithful to answer you when you call.

It is always safe to go where God is.

Psalm 4 verse 3

Blessings,

René