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, 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

Have you forgotten your worth?

Have you forgotten your worth?

Today, before you start reading, I would like to ask you to quiet your heart and your mind. Ask the Lord to speak to you and show you all the ways the enemy has tried to steal your royal worth.  Then ask the Lord to begin to repair all those hurts, to fill the voids you’ve been struggling with, with His love, grace, and joy.

Take a deep breath….let’s get going!

Let’s first look at a beautiful passage in Psalms 139:13-18 ~

13 For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
    when I was made in the secret place,
    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be.
17 How precious to me are your thoughts,God!
    How vast is the sum of them!
18 Were I to count them,
    they would outnumber the grains of sand—
    when I awake, I am still with you.

All you need to know about your worth is right here ~ How amazing are your thoughts concerning methat’s a literal translations from verse 17.  We are precious to the Lord and He is enthralled with us, His children!

He did not make any kind of mistakes when He created us.  He didn’t get confused, or distracted, or annoyed.  He kept His eye on us the whole time while we were formed in our mother’s womb ~ and He continues to watch over us.  We are created in God’s image…He is worthy…we are worthy because we find our worth IN HIM.

There is a tremendous amount of distraction in our world today ~ tv, magazines, the internet, social media, neighbors, and people….pretty much everything we are surrounded by on a daily basis.  When you start to believe that you are worthless….why is that? What is happening?  What lies are you believing? What happens to skew our thoughts about our worth?

I John 4:1-3 is a picture perfect warning from the Scriptures: Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.”

I feel like I can trust you with my vulnerability here and share a few that I struggle with…

Not being good enough

Not being thin enough

Not having enough finances

Driving around in a scratched up, dented up car

Not being able to afford to pay for our kids college expenses

Not being able to afford to have my hair dyed professionally (the struggle is real my friend!)

Okay…that last one is a little silly, but in recent weeks, my hair was a catastrophically BAD color!  I dyed my hair VERY well…and it was VERY scary! In looking for sympathy, I turned to my youngest daughter.  In all seriousness, she looked at me and said, “It’s not like someone was standing next to you at the store telling you NOT to get that color Mom.”  Well….yeah…but come one!  Feel sorry for me!  My hair is burgundy and that is NOT a good look!! (btw…my husband drove me to the store at 10:30pm to get a box of dark brown to cover up the mess I’d made…we both knew I was in no condition to drive myself!)

In that moment of looking at my horrifying hair color (can you tell I’m still a bit traumatized here!), I felt worthless.  If this hair color deal couldn’t be fixed I was contemplating not going on a weekend trip with my husband that next day.  We had been planning this for months.  But I felt that I would be an embarrassment to him (and personally, utterly mortified at the thought of being in public!) ~ of which he wisely denied that would be the case. So not only did he drive me to the store, he stayed up with me until midnight when complete disaster was averted. He didn’t laugh at me.  He didn’t scold me.  He just love me and supported me through my crazy!  I love my man!!

How like the Lord is that?  When I have made a decision, all the while ignoring the still small voice of the Holy Spirit warning against poor choices, then realize the consequences I’ve created….ugh!  My sweet Heavenly Father doesn’t chastise me; He doesn’t mock me; He doesn’t make me feel guilty.  He stands beside me waiting for me to get off the bus to crazytown (a place of my own creation…you might know what I mean!), then gently guides me back onto the path He has for me.

Satan is the one who plies our mind with those distracting, and sometimes devastating, tactics to make us think we have lost our worth. God’s grace is sufficient to rescue me when I seek His face and ask forgiveness for those moments of weakness.

Matthew 10:30-32 is a great encouragement ~ And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. “Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven.”

Do you realize that every negative thought that slithers in off the enemy’s twisted tongue has to be said IN the very PRESENCE of God.

There is nothing that the devil lies to us about that God doesn’t know.  In our humanness, we need to call on God’s strength in that moment to combat the lies.  Rest securely in the knowledge that we don’t have to muster up the strength or courage to beat down the devil on our own.  We only have to call on Him to help us!

Read this promise here in 2 Samuel 22:2-4 ~ He said: “The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, He is my stronghold, my refuge and my savior—from violent people you save me. “I called to the Lord, who is worthy of praise, and have been saved from my enemies.”

Oh those words from scripture are like floating along a delightfully cool river, feeling the soul quenching power of Living Water!  As a daughter of the King, I have the right and accessibility to call upon the name of the Lord and He promises to save me from my enemies…especially when that enemy is myself!

You are WORTHY my friend!

You have been set apart by a loving God who has an amazing journey for you!  You have the ability to make a difference, one person at a time, in HIS timing!  You are created to be a guiding light of God’s love and mercy to a world that is desperately lost!  You are beautiful! You are special!  You are loved and cherished!

Blessings,

René

I John 4 verse 1

{this photo was taken on that weekend away with my husband}

** For further study, check out these verses about how worthy our Lord is to be praised! **

~ I Chronicles 16:24-26

~ Psalm 96:3-5

~ Psalm 48:1

~ 2 Thessalonians 1:11

~ Revelation 4:11

 

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

Do you have enough Steam?

Well, it’s January 2nd…Happy New Year and two days in already.  Do I feel ready for a new year? Do I feel prepared to do all that in rolling around in my brain to do?  CAN I do everything I want and hope to do? Do I have enough steam?  Stop the madness already!!

I was ironing a shirt the other day and didn’t feel like refilling the water tank in the iron.  No big deal…it’s still going to get hot enough to iron the shirt.  And it did…sort of.  There was enough heat to begin the job, but the steam is what completes the job.  So, I stopped, got the water pitcher and filled up the tank.  Within a few seconds, the water and the neat of the iron connected and huge plume of steam burst out of the iron ~ magic!  Now, my shirt would be ready sans wrinkles very soon.  That little transaction made me think about my life.  Yes…it did…doesn’t take much for God to make a point to get me to pay attention.

How many times this year did I use a “hot enough” iron to get the job done, when I really needed the steam?  It’s a little thing really.  How much time did it take me to fill the iron with water ~ about 20 seconds.  But I had to stop what I was doing, and I didn’t want to because I was kinda in a rush.  I didn’t want to have to concentrate on pouring water into the tiny little hole at the top of the handle area. If I didn’t concentrate though, I’d have a river of water flowing out of the iron and all over my shirt and the ironing board and then I’d have to stop and mop that mess up!  UGH! Was it worth it?  To pay attention for about a minute and do the job right?  Absolutely!

So in this new year…I’m not going to make any resolutions.  Nope.  Not gonna do it!  Because then I beat myself up when I don’t accomplish those resolution goals.  Sometimes it’s simply because I put too many restrictions on myself, or make unrealistic goals.

What I am going to do in this new year of 2016 ~ I’m going to make sure I have enough steam to accomplish what is set before me.

That “steam” is going to take a lot of different forms this year.

*Eat well & drink more water ~ this means I’ll have the energy I need for my mind and body to flow through the day.

*Bible study time ~ this means I’ll have enough spiritual energy to tackle whatever comes my way.  And not just a scheduled 15 minute “read my devotional”, but to really dig deep and fall in love with God’s Word more and more each day.  I will have to make a concentrated effort to plug in to what God is wanting to teach me so that He can pour in His living water!

*Family meal time ~ this means having purposeful time together with my sweet family.  We already do a pretty good job having dinner together every night, but I need to inject more “steam” in cooking dinner and not picking up something from a restaurant or resort to breakfast for dinner as often as I have in the past few months. (Hey…there is definitely a place for waffles and scrambled eggs for dinner….don’t get me wrong. 🙂  Just not as frequent).

*Friend time ~ this means making an actual phone call to a friend to plan a coffee or lunch date.  NOT texting back and forth to confirm it.  But go the old-fashion route of calling them and hearing their voice.

*Electronic Free time ~ this means not carrying around my phone and checking it a million times a day. We don’t have a land line, so I do need to have my cell phone close by if someone calls, but I don’t have to be holding it and looking at facebook or instagram updates every five seconds.  This will also mean that I have time to do another “old-fashioned” thing ~ it’s called writing a letter!  You know, when you get a card or just a plain old piece of paper, and write down your thoughts  and mail it to another person!  Hand written letters are a treasure ~ trust me when I tell you that if you take the time to write someone a letter (or even jot a short thought down on a postcard), the recipient will feel like royalty!!  Definitely something that will be treasured!

So, will I have enough steam this year?  My prayer is a resounding YES!!  My reality may fall short sometimes, but I’m not going for perfection.  That only happens on TV.  Everyday that I wake up, I’m going to pray and ask the Lord to show me how I can get enough steam for the day….and where to direct that steam!  Direction is very important!!  When you’re ironing a shirt, and you get your hand too close to the front of the iron & you hit that “steam” symbol button and you end up steaming your fingers…OUCH!  Or if you are ironing very fast and end up creating new creases in your shirt than when you started out with.  Those are tougher to get out than just regular wrinkles.  They seem “set in” and are so crisp and perfect.  That’s when you have to use that other button, the “sprayer” and get a larger amount of water down on that one spot, then hit it again with the hot iron and steam.

~ Concentration ~ Direction ~ Commitment ~ Time  ~

Hebrews 4:16, “Therefore let us approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us at the proper time.”
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Jump into this new year and leave all the old junk in 2015!  You don’t need it and it’ll just weigh you down.  Gotta keep things light so that the steam can carry you throughout your days.  Keep your eyes on the task that God has given you and trust that He will fill you with His living water, heated by His compassion and love for you, with enough gracious direction to help you flow from one day to the next.

Happy New Year!!

Blessings,

René

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

Visits to the Past

What is the best way to deal with your past in order to move forward with your future?  Just VISIT!!  Here’s a few tips for the trip:

~ Bring a map! ~ 

Psalm 31:2-4Turn your ear to me, come quickly to my rescue; be my rock of refuge, a strong fortress to save me. Since you are my rock and my fortress, for the sake of your name lead and guide me. Keep me free from the trap that is set for me, for you are my refuge.”

~ Don’t pack an overnight bag! ~

Isaiah 43:18-19“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”

~ Take your ID, so that you remember who you are! ~

I Corinthians 3:16-17Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for God’s temple is sacred, and you together are that temple.”

1 Peter 2:9, “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”

~ Don’t bring back souvenirs! ~

2 Peter 1:3-11, “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins. Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”

You have a beautiful future ahead of you!  A magnificent plan has been set forth for you long before you were born!  God has a spectacular journey for you ~ not an easy one, but one that is more incredible than you can possibly imagine!

So as you move forward in the future, there will be some necessary trips back to your past. Events that you will have to face in order to move forward.  People you will need to extend forgiveness to in order to see clearly the path God has for you.  You don’t need to do either of those things by yourself.  Through the strength you receive from the Lord, you CAN do astonishing things!!

But don’t move back there!  Tether yourself to the Word of God so just in case you feel yourself slipping deeper into the past than you need to be…pull on that tethered rope and let the Lord pull you back to safety!

Blessings,

René

 

Proverbs 23:18, “There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off.”
Proverbs 24:14, “Know also that wisdom is like honey for you: If you find it, there is a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off.”
Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

 

 

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

Punctured Faith

I’ve watched enough medical drama’s to know that having a punctured lung is a really bad thing.  Okay, that’s a complete understatement I realize, but it’s true.  Our lung tissue is so delicate that God created a cage of ribs to protect it. But if something makes it through that cage and the lung is punctured, that person is in immediate and very real danger of dying.  You must seek medical attention quickly so that they can avert tragedy and begin the healing process.

According to WebMD, here’s a very basic answer as to how a lung can be injured: “There are two main types of lung injuries: direct and indirect.  Direct lung injuries are caused by infections, chemicals, and trauma that directly affect the lung. An indirect lung injury is caused by another condition elsewhere in the body. A lung injury can cause a collapsed lung or develop into acute respiratory distress syndrome — two potentially life-threatening conditions.”

Now that we have a medical definition of a punctured lung, I hope you are still with me here…let’s look at the similarities of that physical issue compared to have punctured faith.

Similarly, your faith can be punctured by indirect and direct injury.  A direct injury could look like losing a loved one, paying attention to deceitful thoughts from the enemy, or being hurt by someone we trusted (or even someone that we didn’t even know).  Indirectly, your faith could be punctured by a trauma that was in your past but was never dealt with. So when it rears its ugly head, you feel like you have “no idea where that came from” and you are forced to deal with the trauma many years (or decades) later.

As physical injury to our lungs creates a life-threatening condition, so too comes a threat to our spiritual well-being when our faith has been punctured.  Either way, we must act immediately!  Many times, it takes someone else taking a closer look at our life to see that we are about to succumb to the distress our body is going through, in order to save us.

Faith distress looks different for everyone.  Every single person on this planet is going through something.  No one is exempt from pain, grief, sadness, anger, desolation, vulnerability, sorrow, despair, fear, or basic concern.  BUT….we do have the Great Healer as our Heavenly Father, and He can take away those issues when we rest in Him.  Not an easy task at all, but with His strength and His assistance, we CAN do it!

What happens when we decide to hold onto those attitudes?  They are directly and indirectly poking holes in our faith which makes it harder to breathe in the life that God has for us.  There have only been a handful of times in my life that I felt so disheartened, so desperate, so distraught, that I felt like I couldn’t breathe.  I felt like I was going to pass out or have a heart attack.  I felt like the world was spinning out of control and gravity was slipping out from under me.  I wanted the pain to stop.  I didn’t want to think.  I didn’t want to try and fix anything.  That is a frightening place to be and I thank the Lord for the people in my life who pulled me out of those potentially tragic situations.

Thankfully, our spiritual lungs are much tougher than our physical lungs.  I am grateful that in all of God’s goodness and grace, He is the patient Physician who attends us along our path to recovery.  He brings us friends to encourage us, His Holy Word to strengthen us, and many times uses seemingly random interactions with strangers to call out to us that He sees us.  His goal is to make us whole again ~ to bring restoration to our punctured faith.

Today, my heart is heavy with the sadness I feel for one of my daughters’ friends who lost their mother to a long illness this morning.  In the midst of her young adulthood, about to graduate from college, she has to now mourn the loss of her mom.  This is too young for her to mourn.  And at this time in her life?  So many things do not make sense to me, so this is EXACTLY when I have to trust that even in this, God has a mighty plan for this sweet young woman’s life.  I have to believe that He sees her and that He will carry her through the distress and extreme sadness of this time in her life.

It is God’s strength and being filled with the power of the Holy Spirit that we can sustain injuries, and come out healed on the other side.

Ephesians 3:20-21 says, Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”

Remember, this isn’t a “rub the magic lamp and the genie will grant us our wishes” kind of deal.  The life that the Lord intends for us to live, is absolutely far greater than anything we can imagine.  Humbly we come through tragedy, with a fresh dependence on the Lord to give us what we need.

Ephesians 3:12 tells of the promise we have, “in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him.”

Notice that it does not say that we have confidence in our self to come boldly to the throne of God in our time of need ~ or in our time of rest!  Our boldness come through our faith in the LORD.

How do we know that the Lord will hear us when we call on Him?  Or when He comes alongside us to repair that punctured faith? Right here in 1 Thessalonians 5:24 states the answer, “He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.”  As believers, we are called a Child of God.  We have been adopted into the Royal Priesthood of our Heavenly Father.  He calls us His own and what He promises, He will fulfill.

Life is not exempt from hardship.  God’s Word promises that as well.  But He ALWAYS provides a way of escape!  A way out of the dark shadows of fear and doubt.

Isaiah 43:1b-3a, are a collection of promises that I absolutely have clung to in various times in my life.  These words from the Lord are so precious and I hope they offer you comfort today ~
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
    I have called you by name, you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
    and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
    and the flame shall not consume you.
For I am the Lord your God,
    the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.”
What absolute joy these bring ~ can you feel it!?  Look at all those amazing promises!!  Come on now…stand up and say them out loud…
He has redeemed you!
He calls you by name!
You are His!
He will be with you!
You will not be overwhelmed!
You will not be consumed!
He is the Lord!
He is Holy!
He is your Savior!
Do not make fear and doubt your friend ~ they will disappoint you and suck the life out of you every single time!  Trust in the One whose ways are higher than ours, Who never lies, Who never cheats or steals, Who always has the best intentions and plans for you, Who always keeps His Word, and Who is always dependable.
When I was a young girl, I played soccer for several years.  When we practiced running the ball toward the goal net, our coach would tell us emphatically, “When in doubt, kick it out.”  Well, let me take a bit of liberty with this one and tell you, that as you run toward the goal of living your life to serve the Lord with all you’ve got….When in doubt, SHOUT it out!  Cry out to Him in your pain and grief, shout out praises to Him in the midst of chaos!  He will hear you and He will carry you the rest of the way.
If you feel that your faith has been punctured by the sharp disappointments and tragedies of life, “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” (Psalm 46:10).
Psalm 16 verse 8
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