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

Your View: Windshield or Rear-View…

Are You Looking Out the Windshield or the Rear-View Mirror?

I got the idea for this discussion topic from a sermon I heard the other day on the radio.There’s a reason why the windshield on a car is so large and the rear-view mirror is so small.

We need to have a wide view of what is out in front of us so that we can see where we are going. The point of driving somewhere is to move forward to get where we intend to end up. We don’t drive backwards to get to our destination. Right?

I know these concepts are not mind-blowing or something new…but I think it’s a good reminder every now and then to take notice of where our attention lies.

Rear-view mirrors, and side-view mirrors for that matter, aren’t bad though…they are completely necessary.

When we look up to check the rear-view or side-view mirrors, that’s just it…it’s just to take a quick look to make sure we are not in danger of being in an accident or causing an accident as we move about the road. We are not to allow our focus to linger because if we do, we are bound to run into the car in front of us.

Our past is like those smaller mirrors.

There’s a warning bell that sounds in your heart or your head, when you’re about to veer off course.  It’s the alarm that alerts us to check ourselves. Are we about to make the same mistake for the millionth time? Are we about to say the wrong thing to someone…again…knowing it won’t work? Did we forget what happened the last time? And if the mirror checks don’t work, then when we drive over those little bumpy-things (I’m sure they gave a name!) that’s a physical AND audible alert that we need to correct our path or we’ll soon be in trouble!

When we look into the side mirror, we can see that car speeding up really fast to our left and make that quick decision to WAIT to move over.

When we look into our rear-view mirror, we can see that car speeding up behind us or flashing their lights at us, and decide we need to move over and let that person go on their merry way albeit too fast and not get involved in their crazy. We can also see the red lights of a fire truck or police car, alerting us to move over because there’s trohbke ahead!

So how does that this translate into our spiritual life?

What side glances get you off track?

What kinds of things do you think you should be focusing on in your “front windshield”?

Let’s look at some scripture that talks about looking forward or behind.

Proverbs 4:25-26 (AMP) “Let your eyes look directly ahead [toward the path of moral courage] And let your gaze be fixed straight in front of you [toward the path of integrity]. Consider well and watch carefully the path of your feet, And all your ways will be steadfast and sure.”

 Right there in scripture ~ “…look directly ahead…”  When we direct our gaze straight ahead, like through a large windshield, we will see the path that clearly leads to integrity!

Hebrews 11: 23-29 (AMP) “By faith Moses, after his birth, was hidden for three months by his parents, because they saw he was a beautiful and divinely favored child; and they were not afraid of the king’s (Pharaoh’s) decree. By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, because he preferred to endure the hardship of the people of God rather than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin. He considered the reproach of the Christ [that is, the rebuke he would suffer for his faithful obedience to God] to be greater wealth than all the treasures of Egypt; for he looked ahead to the reward [promised by God]. By faith he left Egypt, being unafraid of the wrath of the king; for he endured [steadfastly], as seeing Him who is unseen. By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of the blood [on the doorposts], so that the destroyer of the firstborn would not touch them (the firstborn of Israel). By faith the people [of Israel] crossed the Red Sea as though they were passing through dry land; but when the Egyptians attempted it they were drowned.”

 I love that these verses in Hebrews remind us that it is not simply looking ahead & fixing our gaze on the Lord; it is through FAITH that we can accomplish this daily task.

 We are also instructed in God’s Word to take His direction for our life very seriously. When He tells us not to look behind us {dwelling on past sin; obsessing over something you think you’ve missed out on; staying stuck in a cycle of unforgiveness; etc.} then He means it!! 

Genesis 19:26 (AMP) “But Lot’s wife, from behind him, [foolishly, longingly] looked [back toward Sodom in an act of disobedience], and she became a pillar of salt.”

God also shows us through scripture how He provides the way out of a situation. One that is getting a bit frightening or unsettling. In Genesis 22:13 (AMP) we see just that…“Then Abraham looked up and glanced around, and behold, behind him was a ram caught in a thicket by his horns. And Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up for a burnt offering (ascending sacrifice) instead of his son.”

 Let go of the past and start moving forward! Maybe it’s an actual physical move out of the environment you’re in (work, neighborhood, state…). Maybe it’s a shift in your heart ~ an attitude you’re having is causing disruption in your spiritual life. 

Luke 9:61-62 (AMP) “Another also said, “I will follow You, Lord [as Your disciple]; but first let me say goodbye to those at my home.” But Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back [to the things left behind] is fit for the kingdom of God.”

Don’t linger on looking into the smaller windows. Look through the bigger lens of God’s Word…through His windshield!

Blessings,

René

 

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

My Whole Life is Going to be Busy…

Ironically, I began this post two weeks ago…I should’ve known!  Every day is full of busyness and guess what…every day for the rest of your life will be filled with busyness!  It just cannot be an excuse any longer.  We will always be busy with something ~ even if that “something” is doing nothing.

I know that I make plenty of excuses as to why things don’t get done.  I also realize that there are times when I really need to get things done and accomplish specific tasks, but I can’t do them in a timely manner because I’m still dealing with something that should have been taken care days (or months) beforehand. Time just gets away from me and I’m sure you have experienced this too.

The times I feel the worst about being “too busy” is when I have not scheduled things in my day appropriately and the consequences are usually ones that my family has to pay.  Dinner is not ready at a decent hour.  Dishes are piled high in the sink for the third day in a row.  I’m late picking someone up, or dropping them off.  And the consequence I deal with the most is staying up far too late to finish up a bunch of little tasks that I could have done during the day so that I could go to bed early and stay healthy.

But this blog isn’t about all the “shoulda woulda coulda’s” in our life; and it certainly isn’t intended to bring on guilt.  We all do that to ourselves far too easily anyway!

My hearts desire is to encourage you to take a step back, breathe in deep, and know that through all the busyness of life there are ways to create space.  The Lord has been giving me great ideas on how to do this and I want to share them with you.

Now, if you have little ones and you’re reading this…trust me, I remember those days and sometimes your day (or your week!) just buzzes by in a blur and you realize you’ve been wearing the same clothes for a few days and can’t remember the last time you washed your hair.  But it’s all worth it when you look back and see all that you did for your kiddos.  You being present with them, reading a book or playing a game, just being WITH them is way more important that what you have on or what your hair looks like.  There are still ways to find those “spaces” in your day, so hang in there.  They look completely different than that of someone who doesn’t have little ones at home, and it’s supposed to.

Sometimes that “breathing space” is all in our head…and in a great way!  Romans 8:5-6 (NLT) says, “Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit.  So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace.”  

Simply by filling our mind with the Word of God and allowing the Holy Spirit to guide our thought processes (ie…how we manage our time and daily tasks), then we will have peace.  Notice that this doesn’t say we will have perfection.  It means that we will be able to deal with all the craziness of life in a peaceful way.  It means that when we need to speak into a situation, we can speak life instead of death.  What I mean by this is that we can be encouraging instead of nagging to our children when they need to pick up their toys, or their disaster zone rooms.  We can peacefully find ways to let them know how important it is to pay attention to what you are asking of them instead of knee-jerk reactions of hollering at them to just get it done.

So if we are too fill our minds with scripture to draw from when we need, how are we to accomplish this?  Life is just so busy!

Here’s the best answer ~ our God is an incredibly creative God and He created you perfectly so He has the exact answer for YOU!  Ask Him to give you ideas that will blend in with your family activities and with your particular daily tasks.

Let’s face it though, it’s super easy to find time to scroll through social media or even sit and read a few blogs (thank you by the way!).  I’m right there with ya!

I want to encourage you to find what works for YOU!  One of the greatest benefits you will recieve is that the more time you spend with the Lord, the more time you will WANT to spend with Him.  The more you are filled up, the more you can pour out to others and then run back to the arms of your loving Father who will gladly fill you up again and again and again!

HE WILL NEVER EVER RUN OUT OF WHAT YOU NEED TO BE FILLED!!  EVER!!

Acts 2:25-28 (ESV) remind us what King David penned in the Old Testament, For David says concerning him,“‘I saw the Lord always before me, for he is at my right hand that I may not be shaken; therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced; my flesh also will dwell in hope. For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, or let your Holy One see corruption. You have made known to me the paths of life; you will make me full of gladness with your presence.’”

So…ideas…here’s a few that I will be implementing into my new schedule.  Take a peek and see what might work for you, or how you can tweak it to work in your schedule.

* After dropping off the kiddos at school, make a quick pit stop at a local coffee shop or park with the express intention of reading through your devotional…and NOT to meet up with a girlfriend, at least until after you have had your time with the Lord.

* Put your devotional time in your calendar to make sure you don’t over-schedule your day.

* If you have to sit in car-line (not gonna lie…super glad that part of my day is over!) go EARLY!  Take your Bible, devotional, or whatever study you are going through with you and work on it in the car for a bit without any distractions.

* Wake up earlier ~ I don’t like this one, but I know for me that God is asking me to give Him more of day and for me it means to wake up an hour early.  It’s gonna be a struggle for the first few days, but I’m committed to getting back to this. {As I write this, my last daughter is a Senior in high school and drives herself to school, so my “early” is probably a regular time for y’all}.

* While you are driving in the car instead of listening to the radio, take that time to pray to the Lord ~ share your day with Him…what you are doing, where you are going, how you would like direction for the tasks ahead.  Or listen to some praise music and allow the Holy Spirit to flood your soul with uplifting songs.

* As you sit down to the computer or to watch your favorite DVR’d TV show, ask yourself if you have spent time with the Lord yet.  If you haven’t, take that moment to read some scripture and pray.  And if you don’t know what to pray, pray aloud the scripture you were going to read.  And if you’re really stuck, look at the date on the calendar and find the chapter in Proverbs that has the same number and pray the verses you read.  I promise that even if you physically don’t feel refreshed, the Holy Spirit will refresh and renew your mind.  Scripture NEVER leaves you empty ~ it will always fill you up!

* While you wash dishes, do the laundry, finish up housework ~ you can spend time with the Lord too!  Thank Him that you have a home to care for and a family to fill it up.  And when you’re done, thank Him that you had the energy to accomplish all that you did.

Cheesy or not, there’s just a few to get started with and I bet the Lord is giving you great ideas already how to combat the busyness of life with the calmness of His Word.  I’d love to hear from you to see how God is working in your life to bring you peace and life.

I will always be busy.  You will always be busy.  That busyness will look different in everyone’s life ~ stop comparing yourself to others.  Allowing the Holy Spirit to sway your life in the direction of spending time with the Father will always result in the same thing ~ a life of peace and calm that will help you in your time of need as well as in the moments when you are needed by others.

When you hold the empty cup of your day to be filled with the everlasting joy and strength of the Lord, you will be filled to overflowing…and that’s a promise!

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Blessings,

René

 

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

Life Quakes

Have you ever experienced an earthquake?  If you live in Southern California….I bet you have!  With the current El Nino going on, there’s been a lot of information in the news lately about natural disasters ~ floods, rains, winds, and even some earthquakes.  In fact, yesterday (1-17-16) was the 22nd anniversary of the devastating 1994 Northridge Earthquake.  I will never forget that event.  And I still can’t understand how they went from declaring it a 7.9 all the way down to a 6.7 ~ it’s got to do something with insurance and what they pay out after a certain pointage.  But that’s another blog for another day.

That day, in the wee hours of the night, my husband and I awoke to the most violent shaking and rolling ~ it was absolutely terrifying!  I remember standing up in bed because I couldn’t get my footing on the floor; I jumped off the edge of the bed, through the doorway and landed in the hallway.  Still haven’t figured that one out yet, but that’s really what happened. Our oldest daughter was only 4 months old at the time and in her own room.  Because the quake was rolling up and down, AND shaking side to side, we couldn’t get her bedroom door open.  We finally did and it took us a bit to find her…bouncing all over her crib.  Those minutes we experienced are something that will always live with us; and will always be thankful we survived!

My parents and sister were living just a mile from the epicenter.  My sister woke up looking out her bedroom window…which was about 5 feet ABOVE her bed!  True story!  My parents have a CalKing bed and they weren’t able to grab on to each other because the shaking was so violent.  Once they could get out of the house, they ended up staying in our little 600 sq. foot apartment for about 8 days before they could go home.  One day when I came in from the daily washing of bath towel, everyone was watching a video clip of a man shoveling the bits and pieces of kitchenware into a trash can, items that had previously been dishes, bowls, platters, cups, mugs, and family heirlooms.  Now, when I had left the apartment to put the towels in the dryer everyone had been watching the news.  So, upon returning and seeing the video clip, I thought they were still watching the news.  I commented on how awful it must be for that family who’d lost everything.  My husband, parents, and sister all turned and looked at me as if I’d said something odd.  I reiterated that I felt really bad for those people and how it’s going to take a long time to get back to normal.  That’s when my Dad looked at me, tears in his eyes, and said, “Rene’, that’s OUR house.” I was stunned….words failed me.  It did takes years to recover, but recover and rebuild they did!

A few years ago, when I was homeschooling our youngest daughter, we were studying earthquakes in her science book and it talked about the Northridge quake…so of course, I recounted the story of our experience.  🙂

While we continued studying together, it was interesting to me as I read through the points and terminology they used in the science book as it related to earthquakes: focus, fault, creep, and epicenter.  We’ve all heard those words before, and living in California, we hear those words A LOT!  But as I was reading through the definitions with my daughter, I couldn’t help but feel the nudge of the Holy Spirit revealing to me how these particular words relate to us in a spiritual sense.

Let me share with you these definitions:

Focus: the point underground where an earthquake starts.

Epicenter: a sudden movement of Earth’s crust.

Creep: slow movement of Earth’s crust along a fault.

Fault: a crack in the Earth’s crust.

So, have you had any “Life Quakes” lately?  Anything been creeping down a fault line in your life?  I found it very interesting that it is not the epicenter that is the place where the earthquake begins and originates – that is called the ‘focus.’  So where is our focus? What is at our center – what is centered at the core of our heart?

Earthquakes happen when there is too much pressure in the core of the earth and along the underneath area of the earth’s crust.  When pressure builds up near a fault line, there is sometimes a sudden movement (epicenter) or a slow movement (creep) in the earth’s crust to relieve that pressure.  Earthquake!

I bet you didn’t think you were going to get a mini Science lesson this morning when you woke up!  Well, hang in there with me…by the time I’m done writing this post, I hope you can see how we experience “Life Quakes”, but thinking in terms of the above definitions.

When we have cracks in our facade, and the pressure builds from all the stuff we have going on underneath, my friend, there is gonna be movement that happens ~ some will be a slight little shudder that we barely notice; some will be a shaking so intense we cannot help but to seek cover and rebuild.

Life Quakes come in many different shapes and intensities ~ car accidents, bounced checks, losing a home, losing a family member, difficulties with friends or children, job loss, marital issues; and the list can go on and on.  Sometimes when God shakes things up in our life, we wonder “Where the heck did that come from?” And sometimes, we know exactly where it has come from.

Sometimes the pressure that builds up in our life is from our own doing ~ worry, fear, anxiety, sinful actions, etc.

Sometimes the pressures comes from spiritual bondage or warfare.

Either way, the Lord IS going to allow a “life quake” to happen in order for that pressure to be released; for the sake of rebuilding to occur!

Isaiah 43:1-3 says, Now this is what the Lord says— the One who created you, Jacob, and the One who formed you, Israel— “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are Mine. I will be with you when you pass through the waters, and when you pass through the rivers, they will not overwhelm you.  You will not be scorched when you walk through the fire, and the flame will not burn you. For I Yahweh your God, the Holy One of Israel, and your Savior, give Egypt as a ransom for you, Cush and Seba in your place.”

These verses have long been a calming passage to me.  It’s not “if”, but “when.”  Our response to the shaking is not only an indication of where our focus is but it is a visible sign to those around us of how we are choosing to deal with those events that shake up our life…those life-quakes.

If we go running and screaming into the unknown, we may experience severe injuries by falling debris.  But when we stand firm, under a stronghold, with our head down and our neck covered, we can walk away from the disaster virtually unscathed.  We can walk through the rubble, out into a clear space.  We can look back and get rid of the unimportant stuff that was causing confusion, and we can sift through the pieces to find what really has true meaning.

Psalm 9:9-10, The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble.  Those who know Your name trust in You because You have not abandoned those who seek You, Yahweh.”

Psalm 18:19, He brought me out to a spacious place; He rescued me because He delighted in me.”

During the Northridge earthquake, numerous new stations shared a variety of survival stories.  Some were humorous ~ yes, there were plenty of folks who ran outside in their birthday suits!  Some were terrifying.  Some were extremely tragic. Everyone had a story to share. Everyone experienced the very same earthquake, but depending on how close they were to the epicenter of the quake made a difference in what kind of story they had lived through. My little family and I were 14 miles away from the epicenter.  We had a few things fall off shelves, but did not have any damage or loss.  My parents were less than one mile from the epicenter and lost everything in their kitchen, most of all their photos fell from the walls, their house moved off the foundation, and every single window in the house was shifted out of their framing.  Because of the varying proximity to the shaking, our rebuilding and recovery time was vastly different.

Psalm 34:17-18,The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears, and delivers them from all their troubles. The Lord is near the brokenhearted; He saves those crushed in spirit.”

When those tremors begin in our spirit, we must pay close attention to them.  The Lord is getting ready to do some remodeling ~ and maybe even some relocating.

LET HIM!!

God has brought me nearer to Him in the past decade as never before, and it’s all due to a variety of life-quakes our family has experienced.  But the remodeling and rebuilding I have personally gone through with the Lord is completely worth it!  It doesn’t mean that I’m not freaked out a little when I feel a tremor.  However, in the back of my mind I can choose to be excited to see what God is going to do next!

Read the following verse and let it wash over you as a balm to any “quake wounds” you may be experiencing today ~ Psalm 19:14, May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to You, Lord, my rock and my Redeemer.”

Just as we cannot predict earthquakes, we cannot necessarily predict life-quakes.  But as with earthquakes, we can be prepared for them when they occur.  We can do the same with life-quakes ~ we can prepare our hearts and minds as we daily read God’s Word and choose to trust Him with our life.  We can put on the Armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18) so that we are protected in the stronghold of the Almighty Hand of God.

Take heart my friend ~ He will provide a way out!

Psalm 34 verse 17 and 18

Blessings,

René

 

 

 

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

Distracted and Procrastinating!

So it’s very late on Wednesday night….and I’m determined to finish this post that I started on Monday morning….hence the title of this Blog today!  This week has been a string of choices that left me distracted and procrastinating!  There have been a few things that I did accomplish but many more that I haven’t.  “I’ll do that tomorrow.”  Sound familiar?  Do you find yourself distracted?  Do you find yourself procrastinating?  I’ve lived long enough to know that I’m not alone in this!

To be distracted means:  having the attention diverted; rendered incapable of behaving, reacting, etc., in a normal manner, as by worry, remorse, or the like; irrational; disturbed.

And the meaning of procrastination: the act or habit of procrastinating, or putting off or delaying, especially something requiring immediate attention.

Um…hello….welcome to my week!

My Thanksgiving decorations that I began collecting on the dining table (on Sunday by the way)….still there.

My laundry that I started putting in the washer….still there because I haven’t collected all the baskets in the house (water shortage means…cram as much as you can and still get it clean!)

An extra table that we used for Thanksgiving dinner with the family…still up in the kitchen…collecting new items that I haven’t put away.

Okay…you get the picture.  So where do I go from here ~ sit down at 11:30pm at night and finish this blog!

So when does distraction, or procrastination, turn into disobedience?  Oh!  I got your attention, eh?  Me too!  I was reminded this week of a sweet new friend who told me earlier this year (when I wasn’t pursuing the passion of my heart in writing this blog), “Sister, you gotta get right with God.  You are living in disobedience.  You are not doing what God has told you to do, which means you are missing out on the blessings He has for you!”  Whoa!!  That got my attention.  Between her tender discipline and help from my oldest daughter to create a plan, I moved forward!

I absolutely LOVE to write!  I love to share what God has taught me with others.  I have an ongoing “blog ideas” list on my phone and I had ideas to it several times a day.  So why has this week been different?

I know exactly why….I was allowing my brain to be distracted by outside forces that were completely out of my control.  And some that were.  Long story short, I was finally able to quiet my soul today and realize that I am writing for the Lord.  I cannot write for myself.  I cannot write in hopes of success.  I cannot write hoping to receive the proverbial pats on the back.  I must write what the Lord has put on my heart.  I must write FOR Him and for HIM alone!

Psalm 119:36-38Incline my heart to your testimonies, and not to selfish gain! Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways.  Confirm to your servant your promise, that you may be feared.”

Is this verse great or what?  Totally sums up what has slowly become my prayer this week.  Oh dear Lord ~ keep me focused on You and not on the distractions of this world.  It’s different for everyone ~ TV, Facebook, relationship issues, home life, housework, daily tasks, etc.  When I keep my focus on the Lord, He is most assuredly going to help me put into proper perspective the things on my calendar in such a way that all that I do will be a reflection of His goodness and His graciousness.

Mark 7:21-22  For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness.”

I saw a posting on the infamous Facebook the other day that said, “It is in herself she will find the strength she needs.”  Please hear me when I tell you that I absolutely believe that women have been created so uniquely wonderful, and we are capable of doing A LOT of things that surprise us!  What I want you to see is in the above quote is that the strength it speaks of is from within the woman.  But when we check this quote against what God’s Word says, we can see that this will never work.  I cannot do anything by MY own strength (any doubts here…check back at that list I wrote in the beginning of this blog post.)  🙂

Left alone to our own strength, to looking at our own heart for guidance, trusting our own mind to determine our path ~ we are paving the way to a life of disenchantment and disappointment.  When that happens, the distraction and the opportunities to procrastinate seems to increase ten-fold.

Deuteronomy 10 verse 12 and 13

Psalm 96:9Worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness; tremble before him, all the earth!”

God’s Word is beautifully written!  He is holier than holy!  He is clothed in splendor and calls us His child!  God’s Word applies to our life today as much as it did to the original audience it was written for.  Proof that God’s Word is alive! We can look to scriptures to encourage us to focus on the Lord, and as the above verse in Deuteronomy speaks to, we will be able “to walk in all his ways.”  When we are walking in ALL of His way, we can more easily pursue a relationship with the Lord.  To daily learn how to love and serve the Lord with greater intensity, everyday.  My heart and soul must be full of HIM ~ not full of my own strength.  Because if that is all my heart is full of of ~ then I will be limiting the future plans that God has for me.  I will miss out on the blessings He has intended for me.  How sad is that!  Yet that is EXACTLY what I’m doing every time allow outside distractions to encourage the spirit of procrastination in me.

Praise the Lord that He is patient.  Praise the Lord that He does not get distracted where I’m concerned.  Praise the Lord that He does not procrastinate when it comes to making sure that I return my focus to Him.  Praise the Lord that He sees me and knows my name!

And now…I am recharged.  My focus has been reignited on the face of my Heavenly Father.  The distractions of my heart have eased as I give them up and allow God’s plan to take first place in my mind.  I’m thankful for a new day…which by the way…it technically is now because it’s 12:15am.  Time to go and rest in the peace and calmness of the Lord.  Trusting that when I wake in the morning and give the day back to the Lord, asking for His guidance to see what is important, He will answer me right away ~ because He will be waiting for me to start the day.  He will be enthusiastically anticipating the arrival of the sunrise on my day to show me how much He loves me and how great the plans are that He has for me.

God bless you with clarity and responding with first time obedience when the Lord ask you to do something.

Blessings,

René