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

It’s my Blog-aversery!

Whoa y’all!  Today, August 31, 2019 is my 4th anniversary of writing my blog! To date I’ve written about 165,000 words. That’s a lot of words!

{cue the Confetti!!}

One thing that I love is to celebrate and everything is worth celebrating! My mother-in-law has often told me that she loves how I can make every holiday and any milestone a celebration. I mean, I’m a Type 2 on the enneagram, so go figure! But I just had to look up what the traditional anniversary gift for “year 4” was and amazingly, it kind of sums up what I feel about writing this blog.

So the traditional gifts are fruit, flowers, linen, and silk.

Fruit & Flowers ~ “…flowers represent the growth and blossoming of the relationship, and subsequent ripening as symbolized by fruit. Flowers nurture the soul, and fruit nourishes the body…”  The geranium & hydrangea are flowers associated with year 4…the more positive and meaningful symbols of the geranium are comfort and gentility of a true friend. The hydrangea’s more positive symbols [are] gratefulness, ‘thank you for your understanding’, pride and appreciation.

Linen & Silk ~ “In biblical times, garments crafted from fine linen represented truths from the Divine, given that fine linen worn by holy figures was of the purest white and also lustrous (eg, angels in the bible are described as wearing fine white linen), hence, the symbolism of truth…Silk…is connected with items that are…the comfortable flow and connection between [people]. The saying “as smooth as silk” further represents good times ahead in the relationship.

{https://www.eternityrose.com/4th-wedding-anniversary-gift-ideas}

Through this blog, I have experienced personal and spiritual growth, gained deeper friendships, and become increasingly grateful for this writer’s gift the Lord has given me. I strive to be someone who writes the truth not for self-gratification but for the joy of shining light on the goodness of the Father. I write how I speak. When I sit down, I imagine that you are sitting across from me at a cozy little coffee shop.

My hearts desire is to meet you right where you are at. To encourage you that you can stand when you are feeling fragile; to cry when you are feeling pain; to draw strength from the Lord when you feel discouraged; to firmly believe that you are fearfully and wonderfully made and God has a great and mighty plan for you right now!

I can tell you that every single word has been from my heart ~ prompted by a desire from the Lord to share my story with everyone who reads it, in the hope to point you to Jesus! When I am able to sit down at my computer and have a blog ready to publish in about 2 hours, I know that I do not write alone. It’s something that astonishes me every single time. I feel the Holy Spirit lay something on my heart, and my mind begins to swirl. I pray before each blog ~ to hear God’s voice and type it out on the page through my words.

I’ve written on so many topics; it’s hard to pinpoint my “writer’s perspective”. I’ve had people ask me “Well, what is your blog about?” I’m usually a deer in the proverbial headlights for a second and then answer, “Whatever God wants me to write about.” I’m in no way being glib…it’s just the truth.

From marriage, to kids, to empty-nesting, to friendship, to verses in the Bible, mistakes & triumphs, and topical issues ~ it’s all here…all 114 blogs worth.

My biggest encouragers & supporters are my fabulous family! They are so kind when I send out a family text with, “Hey everyone…I just published another blog” and add in the link.

After I had been writing for almost one year, my middle daughter saw me checking my blog stats for the millionth time that month. She quietly asked me, “Why do you check your stats so often? Does it really matter how many people are reading your blog?” Um, well, sure it does. I believed then as I do know that God leads to me write every single one. I rationalized that I was simply seeing how many were reading them since God gave me this gift, He must have huge plans for them! Right?! Even as the words to my daughter tumbled out of my mouth, I felt embarrassed.

Side note…having adult children is a trip!  Let me just tell you to hold on to your seats…it’s a great ride and it’s never dull!

So, my daughter gave me a challenge ~ to not check my stats for a month. I thought it would easier to simply take my app off my phone, but that would be too easy. I left the app there because I still wanted the availability to open it up real quick when inspiration hit. But I did it…I didn’t check the stats for 30 days and it was so liberating. I was able to come back to the place of writing for the audience of One. To write back to the Lord the words He was so graciously putting on my heart to share with you.

I’m so grateful how my oldest daughter sat with me for an hour (granted it was for a school assignment) and led me through a goal-making session. I’d never really done that before and it felt so good to accomplish those goals. I prayed over my accountability team and am humbled to say that all three of my friends are still “in it” with me! I’ve given myself grace when I haven’t kept up with my weekly blog posts…cuz…life. I’ve maintained connection between what I’ve written about and the validity of God’s word and the truth of His Scripture.

I write because I can’t not write.

I share my stories because I’m the only who can.

I become vulnerable with my readers to remind them that they are not alone in this world; they aren’t the “only ones” struggling.

I want to connect with you because we are way more than the house we live in, the car we drive, the schools our kids went to, the job we have or don’t have, the balance in our bank account, the fab Instagram pics on our feed…and so on and so on.

We are together a collection of beautiful creations made in the image of God. 

And seriously, I think sitting at a coffee shop with a friend for hours and hours, is one of love languages ~ so let’s meet up!!

If we were sitting across from each other sharing our hearts, I would tell you how much you are loved by the Lord. I would squeeze your hand and tell you that you are gonna be okay. I would thank you for listening to my words and I would thank you for sharing yours with me.

And huge thanks to my youngest daughter who has patiently taught me the basic nuances of canva and creating better graphics! I’ll be going to her for future graphic design help in the future (stay tuned!)

I can hardly wait to see what is coming next for me in this ministry. Writing, speaking, traveling, and some new things on the horizon ~ God is the great organizer and His timing is always perfect! I’d love for you to continue along for the ride ~ and to ask for your prayers as I navigate into this next year.

Psalm 121:8 declares, The Lord will guard your going out and your coming in [everything that you do] From this time forth and forever.

What is it that you are called to do? Why not start today! You are needed to share with your community and circles of influence. You are the only one who can tell your story, so tell it girl! Let today be your anniversary of saying yes!

Blessings,

René

Blog-aversary #4!
{Photo by Erik Brolin on Unsplash}

 

 

 

 

{Photo by Erik Brolin on Unsplash}

 

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

Bootstraps break…

We’ve all probably heard the familiar phrase, “Just pull yourself up by your bootstraps.” ~ or at least something like it.  Maybe you’ve said it to you someone, or you’ve had it said back to you.  It’s phrase that is supposed to muster up courage and admiration, whether in yourself or in someone else.  But does it really?

Have you ever put on cowboy boots?  They have those looped straps on the outside of each boot, so they do serve a purpose.  When those cowboys are out on the range all by themselves, they needed something to help them get their boots on…and the cows couldn’t help out!  And really….could you see a couple of cowboys helping each other put on their boots.  Hahaha!!  Those bootstraps fulfilled a purpose; and fairly quickly became a “self help” slogan.  No where in the Bible does God teach us to do anything on our own.  Even the Lord Jesus taught us that it is important to partner with each other, and more importantly, partner with the God of the Universe!

In John 7:16-18, Jesus shares these wise words,So Jesus answered them, “My teaching is not mine, but his who sent me. If anyone’s will is to do God’s will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority. The one who speaks on his own authority seeks his own glory; but the one who seeks the glory of him who sent him is true, and in him there is no falsehood.”

Again, although this phrase is meant to be a compliment/encouragement, there are some hidden dangers you’ll encounter when you try and pull yourself up by those hypothetical bootstraps.

One of the first dangers that come to mind is pride.  The infamous verse in Proverbs (16:18) is known by most people, Christian or not ~ “pride goeth before the fall.”  When we have an attitude of pride, we cannot always see clearly the circumstances that require us to pull up said bootstraps.  We’re so busy looking down, struggling to get our feet to go where we want to go, that we will miss the path that God has for us.

Look at Jesus’ words in John 5:30-31, “I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge, and my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me. If I alone bear witness about myself, my testimony is not true.” He was Jesus!  The Son of God!  The Messiah!  The Savior of the world!  And even He knew that He could not do anything on His own…He had to commit His ways to the Father God.

John 5 verse 30 and 31

The only thing that you could even remotely say that Jesus did on his own, was His death on the cross.  However, in this action, He was given full authority and ownership to lay down His life for our sins.  Jesus, the Son of God, knew what the outcome would be and He went willingly; Jesus, the Son of Man, knew what the outcome would be but needed a charge from His heavenly Father to complete the task.

See here in John 10:17-18 the simple beauty of obedience alongside serving the Father,For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”

When we believe the lies of the world, tv media, social media, and let’s face it…our own thoughts sometimes…and strike out purely on our own to accomplish something, we are not walking in the truth of God’s word.

But what if that thing, that task, whatever it is that we “pulled up our bootstraps on our own” goes amazing well?!  What then?!  My friends, these are the moments that satan uses to blind us to our need for fellowship and obedience to the Father.  We start believing the lie that we don’t need God and maybe, we don’t need anyone else.  This kind of thinking is cute when it’s a toddler saying, “I do it myself.”, but it is not cute the older we get.  As we mature in our relationship with the Lord, we are learning to lean on Him and others more and more!

There is absolutely nothing wrong with asking for help!

Yep…you heard me right!  Sure, there are plenty of things we can do on our own ~ seeing to our basic needs, driving a car, paying bills, laundry, cooking, etc.  But even in those things, there will come a time in our life where we will need help with those basic tasks as well.

To give you some encouragement to ask for help (from others and from the Lord!) let the kindness of these verses wash over your tired soul ~ from John 15:12-14, This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you.”

The more you continue to pull up on those bootstraps of yours, with your own strength and determination, the more you will wear them out ~ and they will break.  Trust me ~ you don’t want to be out all alone on the prairie of life somewhere with broken bootstraps.  Oh how much the Lord will welcome you into His arms, when you come to Him asking for direction in your life…and He will fix those broken bootstraps of yours as well!

Psalm 37:23-24, A man’s steps are established by the Lord,
and He takes pleasure in his way.  Though he falls, he will not be overwhelmed, because the Lord holds his hand.”

Blessings,

René

Psalm 37 verse 23 and 24

 

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

From the Top Down

I have recently been in various conversations with people about leadership.  What does that mean?  Who is in charge?  How is that decided?  These aspects of leadership are present in all areas of our life ~ family, personally, in business, in school, in church….it’s everywhere!  And it’s necessary!

I’m sure you’ve heard that phrase, “Well, you know, it all comes from the top down.”  Or how about, “One bad apple spoils the bunch.”  We saw what happened during the housing crash of the early 2000’s ~ the bank presidents were held responsible for the corruption and deceit and paid for it….oh wait, no they weren’t.  How is that possible?

Usually these phrases are overheard in conversation when there have been negative situations occurring.  In most scenarios, no matter if the “guy in charge” has anything or much to do with someone’s negative behavior, they are still held responsible.  When you are the “guy in charge”, you have a lot of responsibility to know each of the people who serve/work underneath you.

As I think of this “from the top down” idea, there are so many platforms that I’m regularly a part of and can see the effects of negative leadership as well as the benefits of positive guidance.

I’m actually sitting here with a huge smile on my face thinking of how honored and blessed I am to serve with four different groups of women: at church on our Women’s Council, at the high school on the Parent Association Board, with the women who are my accountability partners with my ministry, and in my life with my three daughters.  All of these women are very important to me; all of them speak truth in love to my heart; all of them help to hold me accountable; and all of them want to see me fulfill the potential of the call that God has placed on my life.  Serving in each of these venues (yes, today, I’m calling motherhood a ‘venue’) has been a delightfully joyful challenge of a lifetime!

There will always be someone in your life that you have to answer to.  Someone who is tasked with knowing all about you and guiding you in the direction that will lead to positive growth.  Even if you are reading this and you are the CEO of your own company, there is still someone you have to answer to: investors, constituents, or employees.  This can be invigorating and nerve-wracking all at the same time.

So how do we make sure that in whatever circles of influence we have, that we are being a responsible part of process?  I am grateful that we have God’s Word to turn to for any and every situation we face.

Being the one in charge of an event, of a company, of a school community, or of a family, requires dedication to operating in a mode of truth, kindness, firmness, and instruction.  And all of those attributes require communication between you (as the “boss”) and the people you serve.  Yep, I said ‘serve’ ~ and all that entails: to lead, to guide, to render assistance, to be of help to, to perform specific duties.  The best way to have your people organize a coup is to be an unrelenting boss with unrealistic expectations.  This may look like an all out overthrow and you lose your job, or it may look like a 2 year old throwing an entire snack cup of cheerios all over the floor in a high end department store.  Oh yes….that happened!

By God’s design, we are created in His image…so…we have the tools in our brain to be a great boss!  When sin entered the world, those tools have been misplaced and sometimes just flat out lost.  God is the ultimate example of “from the top down” business/family model.  His greatest service to us was to send His own Son to die on the cross in order to bring restoration and reconciliation to our relationship with Him.  What incredible sacrifice that was endured by God the Father and God the Son, and what great joy for the Holy Spirit to come and dwell in us and among us because of that sacrifice.

There are countless verses in the Bible regarding how a master and servant should treat each other; how a business owner and employee should treat each other; how a husband and wife should treat each other; and how parents and children should treat each other.  Although there are definitive roles that each of these people carry, some with more authority that others, they are all called to treat each other with respect, with wise consul, with clear communication, and with kindness.

No matter what the locale of a situation is that is seemingly swirling out of control, you can usually look to the top of the chain of command to see why things are out of control.  Whether in business or with your family.

Or just within your own self.

What’s at the top of our body?  Our head…our brain…the CEO of our attitudes.  Without answering to the Lord through worship and spending time in His word and in prayer, then our heart and mind will not be able to function as it is intended.  When we have the ability to see our life how God has planned, we can live in the gifts and talents that God has given us!

Remember that cheerios bit I told you about a few paragraphs above…I do believe that they actions of my 2 year old that day (and many many many days after that) were a physical manifestation of bad management…ie: the momma melt down!  I was in a season of life where we moved to another state for my husband’s job.  I was all in favor of supporting him, his career, and yes, the increase of pay!  I wasn’t all in for the isolation part.  Two little kids, no family in the neighborhood, no church family…just hot, humid, sticky, red-ant filled life.  I was not allowing God to be in charge of my heart and mind.  Thus, my job as a mom was severely faltering. And people…my toddler…were revolting against me at every turn!  I’m thankful that the Lord (and my family!) were patient with me, helping me gain back sanity and the ability to allow the Lord to be in control of my life again.  And those 2 year old temper tantrums stopped too!

Let me encourage you today to take a look at all the areas in your life where you serve. Ask the Lord to help you see where you can improve and what things you are doing that are great!  It’s okay to ask the Lord to show you the positives too!  He wants to celebrate you as much as He will correct your path!

John 15:14-16 is a beautiful declaration of God’s heart toward us, You are my friends if you do what I command you.  No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.”

We don’t just have a relationship with the Lord, we have a friendship with the God of the Universe!  He does not see us as servants, but as friends.  And through that friendship, we can have all other relationships flow through the truths we know are secure in the Lord.

John 15 verse 15

Blessings,

René

 

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

Jesus Chose Judas…on Purpose!

Have you ever thought about this fact?  I’ve been a Christian since I was 8 years old….almost 40 years….and it has only been until recently that I’ve truly pondered this truth.  And I’ve truly marveled at this idea!

Jesus. Chose. Judas. On. Purpose.

ON PURPOSE!!!

When Jesus began His public ministry, we see the journey He took in choosing the 12 disciples.  Throughout the first four gospels of the New Testament, each author introduces the disciples at various intervals, but they all follow the same path.  John the Baptist had been preparing the people for years, during his public ministry, declaring to them that the Messiah was here and coming to save them all.  Remember now, that John and Jesus were cousins….John’s mother, Elizabeth, was visited by Jesus’ mother Mary while they were both pregnant.  John lept in his mother’s womb at the sheer nearness of the Savior that Mary was carrying (Luke 1:41).  God ordained even in that moment to prepare John spiritually for the ministry he would have in proclaiming the good news that the Messiah was on His way!

One more thing that had to happen before Jesus began His public ministry was that He was sent into the wilderness by God the Father, to endure various temptations brought on by the devil.  Let me be very clear here ~ Jesus cannot give into temptation because He is fully God.  And as fully man, Satan tried to tempt His earthly flesh, but Jesus was never in danger of giving into any of those temptations because He is fully God.  This part of scripture shows us a few things.

One is that, God will always give us a way out of any temptation we face in our lives.  ALWAYS!!  (I Corinthians 10:13).  Secondly, Jesus wanted to show us the key principle to use when the enemy is trying to tempt us is to go to scripture.  Speak the truth of God’s Word into whatever the situation might be and keep the devil out of our life.  There is nothing Satan can say that will ever trump the truth of what God’s Word says.

Satan tried to tempt Jesus three times and each time, Jesus reminded Him what the truth was.  Satan’s job is to distract us from what God says is true; to try and manipulate God’s Word to make us think God is wrong and that His word doesn’t apply to our life.  Everything Satan used to tempt Jesus, were things that already belonged to Jesus as the Son of God.  There was nothing Jesus would gain from giving into temptations.  We need to remember this because we are God’s child and as such we have been given the same authority over the principalities of the earth.  We can tell Satan to hit the road and never come back!

After going through the 40 days in the wilderness and being tempted three times, Jesus didn’t jump up on the proverbial stage and declare His power and demand to be listened to.  He went to find his cousin John the Baptist, and asked to be baptized. So John did just that ~ Jesus of Nazareth was baptized in the Jordan river and,  we read in Matthew 3:16, “As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him.”  What a powerful sight to behold that must have been!

Now, Jesus was ready to choose his disciples.  The 12 men who would become the cornerstone members of the Christian church.  Just. Twelve. Men. Not perfect men, not special men, not men with high ranking jobs….just human beings who were willing to follow Christ when He called them.

You can read all four gospels to get a unique perspective on who was chosen and how they were chosen, but for today’s blog, I’m going to be primarily using the books of Matthew and John.

In Matthew 4:18-22, Jesus begins by choosing Simon Peter and his brother Andrew, then James the son of Zebedee and his brother John ~ all four were fisherman and do you know what their response was, vs. 20, “At once they left their nets and followed him.” and in vs. 22, “and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.”

There was absolutely NO hesitation!  I love that and wish I was more like that!

In Matthew 10:1-4, we read how He sent out the disciples to begin their ministries along with Jesus and look what He does, Jesus called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out impure spirits and to heal every disease and sickness. These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon (who is called Peter) and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.”

So you can see ~ these were just ordinary men.  Fishermen, a tax collector, a zealot….and a betrayer.

He taught these men all that He knew and unfolded parts of the mysteries of heaven (healings, preaching, casting out demons) to them in order to give them authority to preach God’s truth throughout the lands.  

This all included Judas.

Why would Jesus do this?  Because He KNEW what Judas was going to do and He knew that it needed to happen.  Jesus chose this disciple, this friend, knowing Judas would betray Him.  Jesus had to make sure that His disciples, and all of His followers, would realize that it HE wasn’t caught off guard by His arrest and subsequent crucifixion.  One of the ways that Jesus made it clear He knew what was going on and what was about to happen, is these passages in John 13 ~

vs. 18-20 ,“I am not referring to all of you; I know those I have chosen. But this is to fulfill this passage of Scripture: ‘He who shared my bread has turned against me.’ “I am telling you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe that I am who I am. Very truly I tell you, whoever accepts anyone I send accepts me; and whoever accepts me accepts the one who sent me.””

vs. 26-30, Jesus answered, “It is the one to whom I will give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.” Then, dipping the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot.  As soon as Judas took the bread, Satan entered into him.  So Jesus told him, “What you are about to do, do quickly.” But no one at the meal understood why Jesus said this to him. Since Judas had charge of the money, some thought Jesus was telling him to buy what was needed for the festival, or to give something to the poor. As soon as Judas had taken the bread, he went out. And it was night.”

Look at the parts of these verses above that I put in bold ~ JESUS KNEW WHO HE CHOSE AND WHAT JUDAS WAS GOING TO DO!

There is no question about it.  This is further proof that every part of Jesus’ life was determined only by God the Father.  Human minds did not bring God the Son, Jesus, to earth.  Human minds did not determine where and when Jesus’ public ministry began.  Human minds certainly did not dictate the why and how of His crucifixion.  And most importantly, human minds did not and could not comprehend the beautiful resurrection of Jesus, completely the plan that God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, devised to bring about restoration and salvation!

One last piece to today’s writing that I feel cannot be missed, is a simple but an impactful fact. Jesus was betrayed by a friend. Just like Jesus knows hunger, exhaustion, delight, sadness, and the joy of obedience to the Father, Jesus knows the pain of betrayal.  I’m sure like me, you don’t become friends with someone knowing they will betray you. Why on earth would we put ourselves through that kind of pain from the beginning of a friendship?  Sometimes we are betrayed by someone we may have had an inkling was not a good influence on us, but most often the experience is one of the friend who chooses at some point in the relationship to turn against us ~ to betray our confidence, our trust, or the sincerity of our heart.

Rest assured my friend ~ Jesus knows this pain all too well.  Cry out to Him and He will hear you.  As with Judas, there was a purpose in his relationship to Jesus. May I suggest that the difficulties in friendships you may have had in the past, or may be currently having, have a purpose.  It doesn’t matter your age, a betrayal of friendship can cut to the heart.  At a recent women’s retreat I attended, the speaker made it very clear that forgiveness of a betrayal (no matter how big or small) does not mean that you have to automatically trust that person again. Forgiveness can be freely given ~ Trust must be earned.

Betrayal may feel like a wound that is impossible to heal ~ and you’re partly right…you can’t do it on your own.  Only our Comforter, the Holy Spirit can come in and bind that wound and heal it in order to make us stronger for what’s coming next.

Jesus is the best friend we can ever hope to find.  He will never betray you.  He will never use your vulnerability against you.  He will never sell you out.

He will always have your back. He will always care about your feelings.  He will always have time for you.

Jesus will always love you.  

Romans 8:38-39 declares,For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Oh, and one of my absolute favorite reminders of God’s love for me ~

2 Thessalonians 2:16-17, May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.”

Blessings to you my friend,

René

2 Thessalonians 2 verses 16-17