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Becoming Unoffended…

We have all been offended. Someone cuts us off on the freeway. We’re telling our spouse something only to realize that they’ve been scrolling through their emails or social media. Our kids aren’t listening. A group of friends is out on the town and no one invited you. I’m sure you can add a few of your own examples too.

Then it happens. You’re offended.

In March of 2017, I experienced a freedom from the spirit of offense and I’ve not looked back once! It was an incredible moment to be prayed for, and I literally said out loud to the Lord, “I’m so tired of this. Please God. Deliver me from being offended all the time.” And He did…ugly cry and all. I literally felt a huge weight lift off my heart and my mind ~ it was incredible!

This experience came at a time in my life when the Lord was shifting the direction of ministry. I’ve always been involved with women’s ministries but I knew God was leading me to be more purposeful and intentional to minister to college-aged girls. I should have known that this deliverance would prove to be more than I imagined. Not only did I live in a new-found joy of daily life, but I began to see people around me through the eyes of Jesus.

Walking around being offended all the time is exhausting. And it’s no way to be in true ministry to others.

But here’s the thing ~ I really thought I deserved to be offended. “If people around me would just _______________, then I wouldn’t be upset.” It was never ‘my fault’ and I made sure to let everyone know that their  actions and attitudes were the problem. They were ‘making me’  react in an offended manner.

It was all them; never me.

This spirit of offense had woven itself so intricately into my soul that I had no clue how to escape it. I didn’t like being offended. But then I’d rationalize it by thinking, “Well, I know I’m right about this, so it’s okay to be offended.” What? That’s just crazy talk! The flip side of living with a spirit of offense, is that anytime someone does actually treat you poorly, instead of feeling offended, you end up feeling ‘less than.’ Then you are walking around exuding attitudes of feeling dejected, unworthy, unseen, and so on.

This is right where the Devil wants you to live.

Because it’s not just you that is affected by your actions when you activate offense in your heart. You lead others astray. If you overreact to a situation, you give people the motivation to tell others about how you freaked out. Enter in gossip. In your pursuit of being offended (yeah…your pursuit…because you certainly aren’t pursuing a godly response in that moment), you will inevitably lead others to join you. What good is that?

1 John 2:10 says, “The one who loves and unselfishly seeks the best for his [believing] brother lives in the Light, and in him there is no occasion for stumbling or offense [he does not hurt the cause of Christ or lead others to sin].”

You know the old saying, “Misery loves company.”? Well, it does. Think about a time when you were feeling miserable, feeling offended. How did you handle it? You either sat at home getting deeper and deeper into your offense, or you called someone to tell them your tale of woes, or worse yet, you took to social media to blast someone publicly. In all three scenarios, you had company.

The first one ~ you were allowing the enemy to take a seat on the couch next to you. He made you feel like you deserved to be offended. He used that to plant seeds for your next move.

The second one ~ to fuel your ‘rightness’ you need to bring in someone else who will empathize with you and tell you that you have a ‘right’ to be offended.

The last scene ~ in your ‘rightness’ you decide that the offender needs to be put on notice. Even if you don’t use the persons name, it will be completely obvious to many in your circles who you are publicly complaining about. Let me guarantee you ~ no one will even be aware of what you are offended about; they will simply see a vindictive person lashing out in a shameful way.

The best place to start in your journey to become free of offense, is to speak it out loud. Meet up with a friend, your pastor, or your spouse, and tell them everything that is on your heart. James 5:16 encourages us in this way, “Therefore, confess your sins to one another [your false steps, your offenses], and pray for one another, that you may be healed and restored. The heartfelt and persistent prayer of a righteous man (believer) can accomplish much [when put into action and made effective by God—it is dynamic and can have tremendous power].”  It’s so true! Confession is truly good for the soul.

Speaking your story out loud, telling the Lord what you need Him to forgive you for and bring restoration to your heart, is worth it all. When you speak it out loud, the power of that offense is gone. The goal of the enemy is to make us keep everything hidden; to bury deep down inside the parts of our life that make us feel shameful. That is never the goal of the Lord. He wants to bring us into the glory of His light that brings healthy and wholeness to our life.

There is such beautiful freedom in being unoffendable. I know, it sounds lofty and unattainable, but it’s absolutely possible.

You were created in the image of God to worship Him and bring others to Him. Living your life in a way that makes other people want to know Jesus is to be our goal. What better way to bring God glory than to show others how to live an unoffendable life.

Blessings,

René

Unoffended blog{Photo by Caleb George on Unsplash}

 

 

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

The Coffee Grinder of Life…

With all three of our children involved in coffee/food services, especially the two that work at coffee shops, we really have become coffee snobs. Only now when we are desperate for a cup of coffee (or receive a gift card) do we even step foot in the land of the little green mermaid…local shops are the place to be and a fresh brewed cup at home is even better! So pretty much every morning, we open our bag of organic, sustainable, fair trade coffee and pour those glorious beans into the coffee grinder for just what we need for the day.

And one day, I felt like I was those beans. I was feeling a bit “ground up” to tell you the truth. I’m thankful it doesn’t happen often, and I’m grateful the Lord helps me to recognize when I’m starting to go to down a particularly dark path in my mind. But that day, I resonated with coffee in a totally different way.

So hang with me here in my little revelation about the similarities between that awesome cup of coffee and the paths of our life…

A loving gardener tills the soil of his farm and prepares a beautiful space for the seeds of a coffee plant to grow. He waters the seeds and the plant begins to burst forth from the ground, first just a little sprout and then into a lovely fruitful plant. The tiny fruit that comes from the plant is what the coffee farmer has been waiting for. At just the right moment, when the coffee berries are ripe, they are plucked off the branches. Even though they are ripe, they must go through an extensive period where they are processed, and then dried. The dull green of the coffee bean is not super appetizing to look at, but it has all it needs to eventually become a fantastic cup of coffee.

Before that can happen though, those beans have to be poured out into a roasting machine. They are in there with a bunch of other beans, being pushed around by a rotating metal arm to make sure that each bean is perfectly roasted without being burned by the heat. They slowly gain a shiny, almost bronze-like, appearance and the aroma is delightful!!

But they still aren’t done! You can’t just pour some coffee beans into your favorite mug, pour hot water over them and expect to have great coffee!

Nope ~ those beautiful beans have to be ground up because that is when their true flavor and vitality can be experienced. Once they are ground up to perfection, they must now endure the slow process of near-boiling water cascading over and through the grounds. Then and only then, will you produce a spectacular nectar of rich, warm, coffee to begin your day with.

Whew! Okay…hang on…I gotta go pour myself another cup of coffee!

Guess what…we are that dull green coffee bean.

Sometimes I think that just because I’ve seen growth in my life that has transformed an area of my life from a seed into a tangible fruit, that should be enough. I don’t want any more transformation. It’s hard to work for an actual seed to push its way through the top soil, just like it’s hard for us to push ourselves towards those new goals God puts in our heart ~ but the growth is not the end. How God uses the fruit that He produces in our life is what our goal needs to be. He is the consummate Gardener of our life ~ He knows us from the inside out!

I know that I’m not the only one who has those days where you feel like you’ve been through an emotional grinder. One minute your shiny and whole, and the next your soul feels crushed to dust. When I’ve been at that point, there is usually always something that the Lord needs to sift me from. It could be forgiving someone, it could be asking forgiveness from someone, it could be repenting from sin that keeps repeating itself, it could be removing yourself from an unhealthy relationship or activity….so many things!

That’s the part I think most resembles the “hot water pour over” if you will. The slow yet intentional working of the Holy Spirit to work through us in order to produce the best parts of us. The fresh new perspective we need to do the work that He has called us to do. The aroma that HE wants us to have that will be pleasing to those in our circles of influence. That “coffee ring mark” that He wants us to leave on the hearts of those we minister to and share the gospel with.

So the next time you have your coffee, maybe you’ll think of what kind of coffee you are…

Are you “instant coffee” out of a jar that has lost its flavor and vitality but still tries to pass itself off as acceptable?

Or are you the shiny little bean that is perfectly ground in order to produce the most genuine and delightful cup of coffee?

You get to pick everyday! So choose well! Now go get a cup of coffee and take Jesus with you!!

Blessings,

René

 

Colossians 1:9-11, For this reason, since the day we heard about it, we have not stopped praying for you, asking [specifically] that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom [with insight into His purposes], and in understanding [of spiritual things], so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord [displaying admirable character, moral courage, and personal integrity], to [fully] please Him in all things, bearing fruit in every good work and steadily growing in the knowledge of God [with deeper faith, clearer insight and fervent love for His precepts]; [we pray that you may be] strengthened and invigorated with all power, according to His glorious might, to attain every kind of endurance and patience with joy;”

Colossians 1 verse 10

 

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

Gossip is Murder…

Have you ever given this some thought? I certainly had not. Until a few months ago, the Holy Spirit whispered to my heart (mid-gossip might I add),

“You are murdering that persons reputation with your words.”

Whoa! Right between the eyes with that one!!

Before I truly begin…I want to start out with a verse from scripture that Paul was writing to Timothy. Paul {used to be Saul, before his conversion} had treated Christians horribly. Believing he was acting in the best interest of the Law (before Christ’s death and resurrection) he was the chief proponent of brutally executing follower’s of Christ. So this is why he says in I Timothy 1:15 “This is a faithful and trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptable and approval, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost.” Paul knew firsthand the grievances caused by his refusal to allow Christ to truly reign in his life.

So here we go…

Hi, my  name is René, and I’m tempted to gossip on a daily basis.

There it is…out in the open…

I don’t necessarily want to write this blog about gossip.

It’s been sitting in my “drafts” for several months now and I can’t keep scrolling past it. I can’t say that I’m no longer tempted to participate in gossip…I’m just becoming more and more sensitive to the pathways that lead to gossip.

I think it’s a worthwhile topic to delve into because, let’s face it, if we’re honest with ourselves, we are ALL tempted to gossip!

Just thinking of this makes me also think of two passages in Romans ~ 7:15 “For I do not understand my own actions [I am baffled and bewildered by them]. I do not practice what I want to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate [and yielding to my human nature, my worldliness—my sinful capacity]. “ and 7:25 “Thanks be to God [for my deliverance] through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind serve the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh [my human nature, my worldliness, my sinful capacity—I serve] the law of sin.”

I immediately feel convicted in my heart by the Holy Spirit when I’ve gossiped. I don’t want to do it. I don’t mean to do it. But I fall into that quick trap way more than I want to admit. But this has taken time…I have lived too long where I ignored those promptings of the Holy Spirit that were telling me not to gossip, or even to listen to gossip. I was more concerned with people thinking I was trying to “act spiritual.” Oh brother!  What a fool I was!!

I mean, the world is right out there in the open with gossip…”hot Hollywood gossip”…”Gossip Girl”…TMZ…BuzzFeed…and well, every news outlet on the planet. In the Christian world it can be much more subtle…

If we are not careful, we can turn a meaningful prayer request into a conversation full of gossip.

The dictionary definition of gossip is this ~ 1. idle talk or rumor, especially about the personal or private affairs of others: the            endless gossip about Hollywood stars. 2. light, familiar talk or writing. 3. Also, gossiper,   gossipera person given to tattling or idle talk.

Did you catch the part in #2 ~ even in writing we can be gossiping. Want to know why?

Because gossip comes out of our heart ~ it pours out through out mouth or through our fingertips.

Whether we talk about someone behind their back or via a text or email, it’s still gossip.

Now you may be wondering a bit more about the title of this article. How can gossip be murder?

Gossip is murder because you are annihilating someone’s character with as much impact as if you were to shoot them with a gun. The pain caused to someone’s life can sometimes be irreparable. I know, because malicious gossip spread about me when I was in high school (at church no less…spread around by the son of a pastor!!) pretty much ruined my character and cost my parents some of their friends.  Well, I guess if those couples were really friends of my parents, they would have stuck around to find out if the rumors were true or not. But hey, a 9th grade hormonal boy who happens to have a dad that is a pastor isn’t capable of lying…right???

{Disclaimer…I did forgive that boy and all the other people who believed – and continued to spread – the gossip many years later. Forgiveness is key people!!)

The Bible is VERY clear on God’s stance on gossip. 

Gossip is: malicious, untrustworthy, divisive, offensive, greedy, selfish, contentious, unrighteous, wicked, evil, arrogant, jealous, immoral, brutal, hates good, and it’s just plain mean!

The Lord tells us to steer clear of anything smelling (or tasting) like gossip!

It may feel good in the moment, but it’s forever a mark on our own character. It truly tells you more about the person gossiping than the person being gossiped about!

It wasn’t until I was in my 40’s that I began to realize (yeah….I can be a slow learner sometimes) that when I was participating in gossip, where someone was speaking ill of another person in our circle of friends, that they could very easily be speaking ill of me to other people that I knew too.

I mean, that was totally one of those “Duh!” moments in my life but I really believed that it couldn’t happen to me. We women can be so petty with one another. So vindictive. We’re a better mom because we don’t let our kids eat sugar. We’re a better wife because we cook three meals a day seven days a week. We’re a better housekeeper because we know how to prioritize. Garbage! No one is that perfect! NO ONE!

Instead of climbing up on the precarious pedestal, looking down upon all the other women around us, we gotta get real, hop off that thing, link arms together and lift each other up!  Find out what our friends truly need and help them achieve their goals. No one has it all together and shame on us for making others feel like they are less-than because they do things differently.

You know that phrase “hurt people, Hurt people.” It’s so true! ALL gossip comes full circle {because IT ALWAYS DOES!!} and the pain that is caused is truly heartbreaking.

We have to stop being in competition with each other. We have to stop comparing ourselves with each other and for sure with every unrealistic image of “womanly perfection” that is drowning the lives of every woman every where!

Will you commit yourself, with me, to practice “Mouth Control”?

It’s hard at first, but if we are in this together, we can combat the temptations of gossip together!

We can gather together in true prayer for one another.

We can keep confidences where they belong.

We can shore up the reputations of one another in our circles of influence and direct conversation AWAY from gossip instead of a slippery slope down into the pit.

And before you get offended that a few of the verses I found here only seem to direct ‘not gossiping’ to women…let’s be real…we females are the worst offenders of gossip. If God didn’t think that we would be the ones tempted to gossip the most, He would have phrased things differently.

Not one of the words written down in scripture has been put there by mistake.

Whether we like it or not. They are all there for a purpose. And that purpose is to draw us closer to the Lord so that we look more like Him when we are walking around in this world, and less like the world.

Please be encouraged to read through the following scripture passages. Even if you have already read them, read them again…it’s worth the reminder!

Let us decide TODAY that we will be champions of one another, lifting each other up and not shooting them down with malicious gossip. Think and pray before you speak…for that is the best way to stop gossip from even coming out of your mouth in the first place.

Leviticus 19:16 “You shall not go around as a gossip among your people, and you are not to act against the life of your neighbor [with slander or false testimony]; I am the Lord.”

Psalm 41:6 “And when one comes to see me, he speaks empty words, While his heart gathers malicious gossip [against me]; When he goes away, he tells it [everywhere].”

Proverbs 11:13 “He who goes about as a gossip reveals secrets, But he who is trustworthy and faithful keeps a matter hidden.”

Proverbs 16:28 “A perverse man spreads strife, And one who gossips separates intimate friends.”

Proverbs 17:9 “He who covers and forgives an offense seeks love, But he who repeats or gossips about a matter separates intimate friends.”

Proverbs 18:8 “The words of a whisperer (gossip) are like dainty morsels [to be greedily eaten]; They go down into the innermost chambers of the body [to be remembered and mused upon].”

Proverbs 20:19 “He who goes about as a gossip reveals secrets; Therefore do not associate with a gossip [who talks freely or flatters].”

Proverbs 26:20 “For lack of wood the fire goes out, And where there is no whisperer [who gossips], contention quiets down.”

Romans 1:29 “until they were filled (permeated, saturated) with every kind of unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice and mean-spiritedness. They are gossips [spreading rumors],”

2 Corinthians 12:20 “For I am afraid that perhaps when I come I may find you not to be as I wish, and that you may find me not as you wish—that perhaps there may be strife, jealousy, angry tempers, disputes, slander, gossip, arrogance and disorder;”

1 Timothy 3:11 “Women must likewise be worthy of respect, not malicious gossips, but self-controlled, [thoroughly] trustworthy in all things.”

1 Timothy 5:13 “Now at the same time, they also learn to be idle as they go from house to house; and not only idle, but also gossips and busybodies [meddlers in things that do not concern them], talking about things they should not mention.”

2 Timothy 3:3 “[and they will be] unloving [devoid of natural human affection, calloused and inhumane], irreconcilable, malicious gossips, devoid of self-control [intemperate, immoral], brutal, haters of good,”

Titus 2:3 “Older women similarly are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor addicted to much wine, teaching what is right and good,”

Blessings,

René

 

Proverbs 11 verse 13

 

 

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, 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

Potholes of Negativity

I would venture to say that wherever you live, you have traveled down a road or two that has potholes.  Some roads are simply riddled with what seems like a million of little ones, and some road have “gigantor” size potholes….I mean like you feel like you left half of your engine in the road when you hit it!  If the roads you travel are ones that you encounter every day, you learn to navigate away from the big ones, and well, you just deal with the little ones.

Have you ever spent time with someone who is constantly complaining?  They are looking for advice, but never follow it? Someone who “stirs the pot” and brings up things that don’t really have any relation to anything you are discussing, but brings it up anyway?  Someone who is basically attracted to the potholes of negativity?  Or perhaps the more difficult question…have you ever been that “someone?”  Ouch!  I know I have..and it’s a struggle to stay positive sometimes.  But it’s so worth the effort.

I’m gonna cut to the chase real quick here ~ the Lord has no patience for negativity.  You can read just about any part of the Old Testament and find out the severe penalties that people (or tribes) had to suffer due to their negative attitude of unbelief.  When the Lord told them to do something, or to go to a certain place, they needed to be obedient…not participate in the fear or doubting hearts of a few.

Take a peek into chapter 14 of Numbers (verses 36-38), “So the men Moses sent to scout out the land, and who returned and incited the entire community to complain about him by spreading a negative report about the land— those men who spread the negative report about the land were struck down by the Lord. Only Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh remained alive of those men who went to scout out the land.” (emphasis mine)

In the previous verses in Numbers 14, you can read the larger account of why those men lost their lives and why Joshua and Caleb’s lives were saved.  To boil it down, the men who died chose to not obey the Lord’s commands and denied God the opportunity to show the Israelite’s of that time, how truly powerful He was.  God had told them that He was giving them the lands of Canaan.  He promised them that HE would fight for them and that in all the battles Israel would fight, they would win every single one…that the 12 tribes would inherit the lands as promised.

But.

Fear.

Fear of the unknown.  Fear of uncharted lands.  Fear of strange people groups.  Fear of failure.  All of that fear turned to negativity.

Those men that riled up the people (and practically got Moses, Aaron, Joshua and Caleb stoned to death) to such a degree, there was no other way for the Lord to take care of the situation, except by putting those men to death.  Their own negativity was so deep, not only did those select men lose their lives, future generations were affected.  Forty years worth of future generations.  FORTY!!  Long enough for the negativity and fear to leave the people so that the tribes who eventually entered the Promised Lands of Canaan, entered with trusting hearts.  Hearts that were focused on what the Lord says and able to hear God’s call on their life and move forward to live out the promises He’s given.

Thankfully, because of what Christ did on the cross for us and for the immense love He has for us, we are not under that same Old Testament law.  It does not mean that we are free to do and say what we like simply because we want to say it.  We are covered with God’s grace and mercy, and must conduct ourselves in such a way.  But there are those days when we stumble…when we hit one of those “potholes of negativity.”

Possibly, you’ve been on your road of those little potholes for so long that you don’t realize that you are bouncing along, and uncomfortably so.  It’s so easy to complain.  Complaining and stirring that proverbial pot actually takes very little effort.  It’s that moment when you should heed the warning my mother used to tell me,

“Just because that thought came into your mind, it doesn’t mean that it should come out of your mouth!”

Yep…you know what I mean…the off-handed remark to another mom in car-line about your kids’ teacher…the snarky comment to your co-worker about your boss…the veiled “prayer request” to a friend about another friend at church…your own dismay as you look in the mirror as you get ready to go to that party.  I’m sure you can think of many more examples of the kind of negative thinking which breed unhealthy actions.

HOWEVER….Today is the beautiful day my friend that you can get off that road!

Today, you can decide that you want to lift  your eyes and focus on what the heart of God wants for you.  How the Lord desires to share in sweet fellowship with you.  Will  you let Him fill in those potholes with the truth of His Word?  With the truth of who you are in Him?  Here’s a few verses to get you started on a smoother, more joyful path.

Romans 5:6-11, For while we were still helpless, at the appointed moment,Christ died for the ungodly. For rarely will someone die for a just person—though for a good person perhaps someone might even dare to die. But God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us! Much more then, since we have now been declared righteous by His blood, we will be saved through Him from wrath. For if, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, then how much more, having been reconciled, will we be saved by His life! And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ. We have now received this reconciliation through Him.(emphasis mine)

Romans 15:4-6, For whatever was written in the past was written for our instruction, so that we may have hope through endurance and through the encouragement from the Scriptures. Now may the God who gives endurance and encouragement allow you to live in harmony with one another, according to the command of Christ Jesus, so that you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ with a united mind and voice.”

I Peter 1:3-4, 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 and into an inheritance that is imperishable, uncorrupted, and unfading, kept in heaven for you.”

Ephesians 2:8-10,For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift— not from works, so that no one can boast. For we are His creation, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them.”

These verses are just a small taste of how good the Lord is and how much He loves us!  I encourage you today to check out more, as you dig deep into God’s word to find the treasures of His everlasting promises of our true identity in Him!

Oops! I almost forgot to mention again about those huge potholes that catch us off guard.  You know, those moments you have when life seems to be going pretty well and then out of nowhere ~ we forget to drive around the pothole that we see coming, and go head first!  Sometimes we are just rattled a bit and sometimes we pop a tire and careen out of control.

Having a relationship with Lord on a daily basis will help us to see those potholes BEFORE they arrive.  Oh, and they WILL arrive my friend!  But it’s how we deal with them.  God’s precious Word can assist us in navigating away from (or at least around) the people or situations that would at times cause us to lose control.  We do not have to be controlled by the potholes ~ we have a Lord and Savior we can ask each day (okay…some days I know its moment by moment!) to fill in those treacherous potholes with the truth of His Word…and He will do it!  One of the tremendous benefits of allowing God to fill in those potholes, is that we can share with others who are struggling with the same issues, and in doing so, we help them along in their journey with the Lord as He fills in theirs!  It’s a win-win situation for sure!!

So go now….and start paving a new path…one that is filled with God’s grace and mercy; and with the knowledge that you have been created for great things in the Kingdom of God!

Blessings,

René

Romans 15 verses 5 and 6