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

You can’t push when you’re in Transition…

I recently heard this phrase and it really hit a cord within my deepest heart.

“You can’t push when you’re in transition.”

Um, yep…I’ve had first hand experience with this fact. The person who said it (and I wish I could give them credit for it but I heard it on the radio and don’t remember who it was exactly) well, they weren’t referring to childbirth, but that’s how it resonated with me. After having three children, one with an epidural and two without, I know the feeling of transition.

It was different with all three but the second birth I experienced was the one I remember the most of what it’s like to go through transition.

I started laboring around 5:30am and decided to sit in my rocking chair in the living room. I woke up my husband to join me but told him to go back to sleep on the couch. I was sure I was in for many many hours of labor ahead of me, but I wanted him to be near me just in case.

By 6am, things were moving along quite rapidly and I woke him up by throwing my slippers at him, told him to go shower and call the grandma’s…this baby was on its way!

By 6:30am, I was in full-blown transition. I just didn’t know it. This was nothing of what I had experienced with our first child and it was totally freaking me out!

There is not a lot of room in a woman’s body for the baby to do what it needs to do, so it still amazes me that the birthing process takes as long as it does. But God has a reason for that…He knows we are slow to take things in most of the time and our brain needs time to process the reality of what is happening.

I did everything I could do get comfortable.  The rocking chair wasn’t working, the exercise ball wasn’t working, walking or standing wasn’t working. So, by 7am, the way my husband found me in the living room was quite a shock…on my hands and knees doing “cat stretches”.  That was the only thing that was remotely comfortable…and I use that word sparingly. Ha!

What I was experiencing was in fact, transition. That sweet little babe of ours was making her way to meet us. And as slow as the process seemed, it actually happened quite fast. By the time we got to the hospital at 7:20am, I was in the birthing room at 7:30am and she was born at 7:48am!  Yep….very quick!

As much as I wanted to have that baby, I could not push in the transition phase. It wasn’t possible anyway. No amount of willpower could have worked.

I simply had to go through it!

So if you’re still hanging with me here through my story…here’s the tie-in for transitions in life.

You cannot make a transition in your life happen any faster than it is meant to be.

To graduate from college, you’ve got to take the classes and do the work and it will usually take ya about 4 years to accomplish this goal.

When you buy a house, it normally takes many months to find “the perfect one”, then you put in the bid, then you go through escrow, then it’s yours! Unless that first bid falls through and you’re back in the searching phase until you find the one that all falls into place.

If you’re cooking a gourmet meal, it takes more than a few minutes. You have to do all the prep of shopping for the ingredients, chopping, slicing, measuring, marinating, etc., then the cooking….and then the eating!

But the transitions that are something the most difficult is when there is not a specific timeline that you can count on. Those are the times where the faith and trust we have in the Lord’s plan for our lives comes in full force.

You can’t push past the lessons that need to be learned. I mean, you can, but instead of moving yourself forward, you are really taking tremendous leaps backwards. There are necessary reasons why the Lord takes us down one path and someone else down a different path. We are all different and we all have something special to learn and grow through in order to give us the story and testimony that God intends for us to have.

Transition literally means*: movement, passage, or change from one position, state, stage, subject, concept, etc., to another; change.

Just as baby must go through changes to become a toddler, then a young child, to a teen, then an adult (and various stages of adulthood!); we too have spiritual stages we travel through.

I Corinthians 13:10-12 describes transition to us this way, But when that which is complete and perfect comes, that which is incomplete and partial will pass away. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. For now [in this time of imperfection] we see in a mirror dimly [a blurred reflection, a riddle, an enigma], but then [when the time of perfection comes we will see reality] face to face. Now I know in part [just in fragments], but then I will know fully, just as I have been fully known [by God].

Each phase of life we go through, transitions will come and go. They have to make us feel unstable though. Standing firm in the foundation of God’s truth, we will always find stability to make it through each challenge we face. It is in those moments we can cry out to the Lord and ask Him to help us, to hold us, to keep us standing in the midst of transition and difficulty.

When a toddler is learning to walk and falls down, their parents don’t say, “Well, you tried that walking thing and it didn’t work out. We’ll just carry you around forever.” Quite the opposite!  They applaud that sweet child for their efforts and encourage them to get up and try again. I bet you can look back over your life, or over the past month for that matter, and see how God has used others to encourage you to get back up and try again. Because He knows that as you grow and transition into new stages of your life, you can use your experiences to encourage other people to do the same!  Get up and try again!

Isaiah 33:6 AMP “And He will be the security and stability of your times, a treasure of salvation, wisdom and knowledge; The fear of the Lord is your treasure.”

The Lord will always be our stability at each stage of life; personal, emotional, spiritual, and everything in between. He is the foundation we need to stand on (or kneel on!) when we are weaving through the stages of transition in our life. Going through something difficult is when we must rely on His strength. We can find a prayerful position to be in as we go through the transition. The pain, exhaustion, questioning, frustration ~ it’s all worth it in the end when we realize what God was getting ready to birth within us or from us!

Don’t fight it ~ engage in it!  There are various amounts of struggle that comes with transition…that struggle doesn’t mean you are doing the wrong thing. God is stretching you and what comes to fruition because of it, will be glorious!!

I’d love to hear what God is birthing in your heart & soul today!  Feel free to share!! Because when we share our dreams out loud, they are given a new life and the freedom we can experience is remarkable!

Ephesians 4:15 AMP says, “But speaking the truth in love [in all things—both our speech and our lives expressing His truth], let us grow up in all things into Him [following His example] who is the Head—Christ.”

 

Blessings,

René

 

*https://www.dictionary.com/browse/transition

 

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

Are You Just a Tour Guide…

Recently, one of my daughters {who is a full time missionary} posted a video in her IG story with a poll question that went something like this…”Should I become a tour guide?”…as she showed people around the place where she works. I sent her a message back that said, “So what was the consensus? Tour guide or missionary?”

And then I got an idea for this blog post!

When we are sharing the Gospel, are we a tour guide? Or are we a missionary?

Think about the last time you went on a trip somewhere and hired a tour guide to show you the sites. Or you visit a friend who lives in a different state and they want to take you to “all the good spots.”

We’ve had this experience a few times and it’s always been amazing! But what do you see on a tour? You see all the special things, the highlights of the location you are visiting, you enjoy a special meal at a local restaurant, you see the places that make you think “you’ll never be here again so take the picture”, and so on. What you usually don’t see are the rough spots in town, the dangerous places, or the “I won’t be writing home about that” kind of places.

No matter where you are in the world, or what kind of tour you are on, where does the tour ALWAYS end? Yep…in the souvenir shop! Literally every tour, or even most rides at Disneyland for that matter, end up in the gift shop. You want a souvenir to remember your trip. You want to bring home a little trinket for your kids and hope they like it even though they would’ve rather been on the trip with you {lol! all time time!}

When you get home, you place your souvenir on a shelf or maybe it’s a piece of jewelry you wear on special occasions. But eventually it becomes a fuzzy memory of good times gone by.

Is this how you share the Gospel?

Do you get excited about something God has shown you in scripture, something that will bless your life, something that “sparks joy”, and you want to share it with someone? So you meet up with a friend for coffee and share all the fantastic details of this newly found joy in your life and how great it makes you feel…only to end the conversation without sharing the hard stuff in your life that makes the joy you have tangible? Do you leave them with just a trinket?

Now, I’m not saying at all that we have to walk around with our proverbial dirty laundry for all to see. That’s not what the Lord wants either.

We’ve got to get rid of the stigma of what we think it means to be a missionary because as followers of Christ, we are ALL called to be missionaries. A missionary isn’t just a job for a few people.

A missionary is literally “a person who is sent on a mission.”** In the New Testament, when Jesus was commissioning the Disciples, we see in Mark 16:15, “And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” Jesus did not intend for those 12 disciples to be the only ones who would share the good news of His salvation.

While Jesus was still on the earth, and after commissioning the 12, Luke 10:1-3 shares this about Jesus commissioning 70 more saying, “Now after this the Lord appointed seventy others, and sent them out ahead of Him, two by two, into every city and place where He was about to go. He was saying to them, “The harvest is abundant [for there are many who need to hear the good news about salvation], but the workers [those available to proclaim the message of salvation] are few. Therefore, [prayerfully] ask the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest. Go your way; listen carefully: I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. ” 

Everywhere we go, we are to be missionaries of the gospel ~ as followers of Christ, He calls us to be sent out on a mission to tell people about the freedom that comes with salvation in Christ.

Yes, some our called to be missionaries that will go out into unreached people groups and to far off countries.

But we have ALL been called to share the gospel.

And not just the warm fuzzy parts. 

Did you notice that last verse that I shared from Luke? We are knowingly going out into the world “like lambs among wolves.” That’s why we need to be in community with other believers and why we need to cling to the Word of God to lead us as we go about our day.

If you’re a new momma at home with little ones, you’re thinking, “Oh great. I can barely get through a day without someone spitting up or peeing on me, and now I’m supposed to go preach the gospel to the world!!” Dear momma, you are exactly living in the mission field you are supposed to be in. Your home is the first place you can preach the good news. I can remember those days where I felt like I was the lone survivor simply battling to get everyone fed, bathed, and into bed at a decent hour. {Okay, sometimes baths didn’t always happen…especially in the summer…that’s what sprinklers and pool time is for!}

But trust me, you are right where the Lord wants you to be. New seasons of life will spring up as your children grow and mature and yes, eventually move out. I survived that and you will too. And might I say, it’s actually pretty fun to have adult children!  My daughters and my son-in-law are pretty cool people in my life!

We are all missionaries ~ God calls us to share the truth of the Gospel mixed in with the truth of how He has moved in and through our life. Our life is a testimony of the millions of believers who have gone before us…starting with those 12 disciples who chose to be obedient to the call of preaching the good news.

We are not called to be tour guides who only show the “Highlight Reel” to the people around us. 

I don’t want to sound cliché here, but truly, everywhere we go is our mission field. There are people around you who have only heard the name of Jesus used in a profane way. How awesome it can be to show those in your sphere of influence, who Jesus is to you. Of course, sharing the joys of what it means to be saved and have everlasting life with Jesus is a must! But even more important is to share with others, the joy you choose to have EVEN WHEN life doesn’t seem fair.

Jesus is not a genie in a bottle or a tour guide with the bright orange flag leading you down a delightful path of all the wonders of the world.

Being created in His image…that means we aren’t tour guides either.

We are made to be in relationship with Him and through that we can show other people the way to Jesus; the way of salvation. We have a mission {“an important goal or purpose that is accompanied by strong conviction; a calling or vocation” **} to lead people into the knowledge of who Christ is and what He has done for the world and for us personally.

To put it plainly ~ Your story is your mission. Only you can tell your story. God created you to be able to lead others in ways unique only to you. Whether in your family, your neighborhood, your kids’ schools, in third-world countries, or in bustling cities of fortune….you absolutely have something that everyone needs…you have the gift of salvation and you are called to give that away!

Tour guides are hired by the hour to put on a show and lead you to all the pretty places. Missionaries live boldly every minute of every day for the Lord no matter what that means. How do you want to be known?

Live out loud for Him every day…not just on the days where life looks pretty and ready for your Instagram close up.

Be real. Be authentic. Be truthful. 

Choose obedience. Choose joy. Choose to be transformed.

And watch what the Lord can do with a willing heart!

Blessings,

René

tour guide or missionary

 

** https://www.dictionary.com/browse/missionary?s=t

** https://www.dictionary.com/browse/mission?s=t

 

 

 

 

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

Sharing God’s Truth without Compromise…Part 3

Hey there ~ welcome to Part 3 of sharing God’s Truth without compromise. I’m transitioning into what it looks like to dig into God’s Word in the church. Just because we are within the church, doesn’t mean we all are in agreement about the Word of God. And that is truly a sad state for the Christian church. We have become too busy deciding what “our truth” is that so many have thrown out the idea that God’s Word is absolutely WITHOUT ERROR.

John Piper wrote this, “My feelings are not God. God is God. My feelings do not define truth. God’s Word defines truth. My feelings are echoes and responses to what my mind perceives. And sometimes – many times – my feelings are out of sync with the truth. When that happens – and it happens every day in some measure – I try not to bend the truth to justify my imperfect feelings, but rather, I plead with God: Purify my perceptions of your truth and transform my feelings so that they are in sync with the truth.”

Read that first sentence again…
“My feelings are not God.”

Feelings and emotions are given to us by God by they were never meant to determine or decide what is true or not regarding the biblical truths set by God from the before the beginning of time.

The dictionary defines feelings as, “the general state of consciousness considered independently of particular sensations, thoughts, etc; FEELING is a general term for a subjective point of view as well as for specific sensations: to be guided by feeling rather than by facts”

And emotions as, “an affective state of consciousness in which joy, sorrow, fear, hate, or the like, is experienced, as distinguished from cognitive and volitional states of consciousness. EMOTION is applied to an intensified feeling.”

This is why we cannot view the Bible and interpret what God’s laws and precepts look like against our own personal intellect.

Everyone who just sat in the main morning service, hearing the same message, has most likely “heard” something a bit different from everyone else. This is because we are taking in the words that have been taught and have sifted the words through how they are feeling this morning.

There are so many distractions from being tired, upset with a family member or friend, how “so and so” should be hearing this message, being too hot or too cold, and a whole host of other feelings an emotions that affect how we discern the message of what the Pastor, speaker, or worship leader intended for the message to be.

But here’s the difference, the interpretations of a message on a Sunday morning between congregants is all coming from a human standpoint.

The message of God’s Word is His Word…the inerrant word of God…the Living Word of God cannot be changed. There are definitely feelings and emotions that are woven through every single word of scripture…but they are God’s feelings and emotions. Yes, He has a lot of them…He created us to have them too.

But ours can be fallible, His never will be.

Because He is God, He knew we would struggle with this and so He left us a map of how to navigate our feelings and emotions.

I think most of us are familiar with Proverbs 3:5-6, but let’s read a few more verses that surround those two verses, beginning with verse 1 – 8:  The Rewards of Wisdom

Proverbs 3:1-8
“1 My son, do not forget my [a]teaching, But let your heart keep my commandments; 2 For length of days and years of life [worth living] And tranquility and prosperity [the wholeness of life’s blessings] they will add to you. 3 Do not let mercy and kindness and truth leave you [instead let these qualities define you]; Bind them [securely] around your neck, Write them on the tablet of your heart. 4 So find favor and high esteem in the sight of God and man. 5 Trust in and rely confidently on the LORD with all your heart And do not rely on your own insight or understanding. 6 In all your ways know and acknowledge and recognize Him, And He will make your paths straight and smooth [removing obstacles that block your way]. 7 Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the LORD [with reverent awe and obedience] and turn [entirely] away from evil. 8 It will be health to your body [your marrow, your nerves, your sinews, your muscles—all your inner parts] and refreshment (physical well-being) to your bones. There is absolutely nothing negative about believing in, trusting in, holding tight to, the obedience to the commandments of the Lord. We will always be in the “winning” side; we will always walk in victory when we cling to the Truth and goodness of the Lord.”

Enter in all the denominations and beliefs that are in full swing around the world.

According to calculations found via Google by: Paohow Popchavei, in August 27 2018 says: “Today there are some 4,300 religions of the world’s, this is according to adherent, an independent, non-religiously, affiliated organization that monitors the number and size of the world religions. Side stepping the issue of what constitutes a religious adherent divides religions into Churches, Denominations, Congregation, Religion bodies, Faith group, Tribes, Cultures, and movements.”

Here are some 20 largest religions and their number of believers.

1: Christianity (2.2 billion)
2: Islam (1.5 billion)
3: Nonreligious ( Secular/Agnostic/Atheist) (1.2 billion)
4: Hinduism (1.1 billion )
5: Buddhism ( 535 million)
6: Chinese tradition religion ( 394 million)
7: Primal indigenous (300 million)
8: African tradition & diaspora (100 million)
9: Sikhism (30 million)
10: Juche (19 million)
11: Spiritism (15 million)
12: Judaism (14 million)
13: Bahai (7 million)
14: Jainism (4.2 million)
15: Shirito (4 million)
16: Cao Dai (4 million)
17: Zoraostrianism (2.6 million)
18: Tenrikyo (2 million)
19: Neo paganism (1 million)
20: Unitarian universalism ( 800,000)

All those religions are man makes, tomorrow there will be 5,000 religions or maybe more, so whichever people belief all are similar ideology, because humanity are one root and one destiny.
(https://www.quora.com/How-many-different-religions-are-there-in-the-world)

Now, within Christianity, there are at least a good 20, various denominations that splinter off from a main foundation of Christianity.

We cannot take out the parts of the Bible that we are uncomfortable with or that is not socially popular.

God’s commandments were not really comfortable or popular for that matter when He first breathed them into reality. Jesus said that we would be persecuted because of our belief in Him. And we are. Constantly.

I’m not saying that being a part of a certain denomination with the true Christian church is bad; the sticky part comes in as to why that denomination is formed to begin with. This is where the battle of being non-compromising within the Christian church comes from.

Whatever the denomination, whatever the church, whatever community you are connected with, there are ways to figure out if they are Bible-believing and God-fearing people.

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God’s Word is True.

God’s Word is without error.

It’s really that simple.

 

Blessings,

René

 

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

Sharing God’s Truth without Compromise…part 1

I recently taught in our adult Sunday school class at church and wanted to now share it with you all!

I’ve been gripped lately on what it means to share the truth of God’s Word ~ WITHOUT COMPROMISE!  And not just with the world around us, but within the Christian communities we are a part of. And yes, there’s plenty of compromise that goes on within the church communities regarding the Word of God. But we’ll get to that…

So here goes Part 1 of 4 ~ hope you join me and let me know how you share God’s Truth without compromise.

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J.J. Packer once said, “There is a difference between knowing God and knowing about God. When you truly know God, you have energy to serve Him, boldness to share Him, and contentment in Him.”

This can be one of those topics that is both simple and difficult at the same time. It is simple because we simply need to look and see what God’s Word says about life and this world and live accordingly. But it is difficult because there are so many in our world today who view Christianity through an incredibly negative lens.

The reason why that is the case, is because we have not as a community of Christians, of believers, of people who are supposed to be Christ minded, have not set a good example. So many people walk around with the idea that, “What do I need to be saved from?” “Don’t tell me I’m a sinner.”, and my favorite, “Well I’m not as bad as that person.” I know I have been guilty of that mindset more often than I care to admit.

In Part 1, I would like to talk about how we share the truth of the Good News with people who have not come to know who Jesus really. People who we work with, neighbors, people in our family. There are so many different ways that we can share the Good News of God’s Word without compromise and without coming across as ultra-judgmental either.

Even though the fact is that we are all sinners with a need for the reconciliating power of salvation – and so many in the world do not want to admit this – it is better to have this realization in your life while you are here on this earth and deal with it here instead of waiting until the ultimate day of judgment after you have left this earth and stand before Jesus.

A very difficult concept to wrap around our mind is the idea of people that we know who die without being saved and the fact that we will not see them again in heaven. I think of the depth of sadness that my father experienced at the death of his father, knowing that he would never see him again after his death. As a parent, and as someone who has attended just a few funerals for non-Christian people, it is absolutely heartbreaking to me when I see the children of that person look up to the ceiling with comments like, “Well Mom, wherever you are I hope you’re doing well.”

Honestly, it was not until I was 31 years old that I attended such a funeral. I was completely heartbroken for these young 20-something children that they had nothing to give them hope of ever seeing their mother again. The entire family was not saved so it was not something that they had ever really talked about, but it was heartbreaking nonetheless.

I am beyond grateful that my children and my future grandchildren will never have to say that about me.

So how do we share Jesus with people who don’t know Him? One thing that has been encouraging to me is watching the way that my daughter Savannah shares the gospel. Very, very rarely {if at all} these days does she ever start a conversation with, “I’m a Christian so let me tell you about Christ.” Because the term “Christians”really puts people on edge.

What she has found is when she simply talks about Jesus, most of the time it completely changes the course that the conversation will take. She will say things like, “Well you asked me what the difference is in my life and I can honestly tell you the difference is that I really love Jesus. Have you heard about Jesus?”

In Philippians 2:9-11 Amplified Bible (AMP) It talks about how powerful the name of Jesus is: “For this reason also [because He obeyed and so completely humbled Himself], God has highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus [a]EVERY KNEE SHALL BOW [in submission], of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess and openly acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord (sovereign God), to the glory of God the Father.”

There is power every time we say His name. The mighty Name of Jesus.

There is power because of not only who He is but what He has done to save us and reconcile us back into relationship with Him. When you tell people that you love Jesus and then why, it is usually incredibly compelling. People don’t want to have verses and laws and rules quoted at them. They want to hear about experiences and feelings and a life altering moment.

This does not mean you have to have some crazy, sensational kind of testimony, it simply means you have a story to tell about who you are because of who Jesus is.

A few years ago I heard a speaker say, “If the testimony you share is the same one you’ve been sharing for the past 10 years, what does your relationship with Jesus really look like?”

They went on to say that our testimony should continually be changed and updated as we live our life for and with Christ. Our testimony is somethings that is supposed to be new and fresh all the time. The only way for that to be a reality is if we are in a relationship with Jesus where we are actively in conversation with Him and available to the Holy Spirit who can work in and through us, every day.

The Bible is filled with encouragement as to how to share God’s Truth. One verse I love is 1 Corinthians 16:13-14‬ ‭{AMP‬‬} “Be on guard; stand firm in your faith [in God, respecting His precepts and keeping your doctrine sound]. Act like [mature] men and be courageous; be strong. Let everything you do be done in love [motivated and inspired by God’s love for us].”‬‬
‭‭‬‬‬‬
That last sentence is key in being without compromise as we share the truths of God’s Word with others. Everything, not just the easy stuff, but everything we do must be done in love “motivated and inspired by God’s love for us.”

We have the absolute best gift in the world and we don’t share it! I know I have shrunk back at times, from being vocal about my belief in the Lord and how He has worked in my life. For what? Fear that people will think I’m a crazy Jesus freak? A conservative Christian who’s clueless about things “really” work in this world?

So lame of me! Jesus’ death and resurrection will always trump any possible embarrassment I may feel on this earth. If I’m sharing HIM with others, it’s not up to me how they receive HIM…it’s up to me to share.

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Be on the lookout for part 2!  It’s coming soon!!

Blessings,

René

 

 

 

 

Women's Ministries

Free Refills….

Our family went out for a special celebration dinner the other night, and our server was on top of the refills!  Our water glasses never completely emptied, and the lemonade our daughter sipped on was refilled several times.  When the server asked to refill it for the fourth time, my daughter politely declined, “Oh my no…but thank you. It was delicious though but I’ve had enough.”

Have you ever wished that your favorite macchiato or cappuccino would have free refills too? Oh yeah! Especially on those days when I decide to hole up in a local coffee shop and focus on my writing…a free refill would come in handy for sure!! But I’ll take the free cups of water you can get…probably better for me anyway!

So what fills you up? 

Is it the job you strive at day after day and feel you are getting nowhere?

Is it the daily responsibilities of being a mom? a wife?

Is it the accolades of the community you’re a part of?

Is it the message preached on Sunday morning at your church?

Is it how many “likes” you receive on your latest social media post?

What fills up your heart? your soul? your life?

I’ve gone round and round with ALL of the above questions and ALL of them cup up empty for me in the long run. Don’t get me wrong…I absolutely LOVE being a wife, mother, mentor, teacher, speaker, and yeah, I get sucked in to the social media game more than I’d like to admit. So what do I do?

Simple answer ~ God’s Word!

Simple solution ~ READ God’s Word and spend time in prayer with Him!

Reality ~ I don’t always make the time for it like I should!

And here’s the real secret….

JESUS OFFERS FREE REFILLS!!!

John 7:38 declares, “He who believes in Me [who adheres to, trusts in, and relies on Me], as the Scripture has said, ‘From his innermost being will flow continually rivers of living water.’””

Will you sit with me here for a moment and soak in this verse? Read it again and picture it? What do you see?

I see a beautiful meadow with a gentle river winding its way around the area, no beginning and no end. But it is continually moving! Which means there is a source from which water flows INTO it and there is a destination where it’s going to pour into. Jesus is the only person who can do this for us. I’ve struggled enough over the almost 50 years of my life to know that I cannot ever, like EVER, be my own source of a fruitful life! I just end up being poured out with nothing to fill me back up. When that happens, it’s like I’ve said to Jesus, “Oh…spend time with You in Your Word…not right now, but thank you. Those verses I read the other day were really great but I’ve had enough for a while. I’m good!”

Can you imagine that? ~ But we do it all the time!

Even for the most spiritual person that I know, I know they are not doing it alone. They rely on the Lord to fill them up with what they need for the moments they serve and pour themselves out to bless others.

I cannot be a healthy and happy wife, mother, mentor, friend, servant, teacher, or community member if I’m only relying on myself to do all of that.

I’m sure that whomever you are reading this, we are probably in different seasons of life. But there is a common strategy to keep you filled up…

…read the Bible and pray!

Here’s another secret…

There is no where (like…NO WHERE) in the Bible that says in order to be a real Christian, or to get a good spot in heaven, that we have to sit and read the Bible all day long!  So in the name of Jesus ~ be released from a prison of thinking you are under a time constraint!

He just simply longs to spend time with you! And that is going to look different for everyone in all the various seasons of life! 

Some days as a young mom, I’d run the shower to get ready in the morning and read a few verses ~ and then I’d pray them for the rest of the morning. Some days I would finally find some alone time after I got my girls to bed.  I love having the ease of devotional and bible apps that we have in today’s world and weave them into my daily routine. Now that my husband and I are basically empty-nesters (we just dropped off our youngest at college yesterday to begin her Sophomore year!) I do have more time. So I can take on that “Read the Bible in 90 Days” challenge. Which has been amazing to have started on that journey, using a journaling Bible for the first time has been so much fun!

But whether it was a few quick verses, a devotional book or app, or several hours reading a hard copy of God’s Word, there has been ONE consistent addition and that is prayer.

Prayer can happen all. day. long!

You’re simply having a conversation…but a conversation with the God of the Universe! The Creator of all things including YOU! He knows you intimately. He wants to hear how your day is going. He wants to hear what is challenging you and what is causing your worry. He wants to celebrate the big and little accomplishments with you.

If you’re having a hard time connecting with that, think about the conversations you have with your people…

You pick up your kids from school and your first question bound to be, “How was your day today?” or “What did you do at school today?”Really? Nothing? It’s so much more fun when they actually answer you instead of saying, “Fine.”, “Nothing.” Seriously!

When you talk with Jesus…TALK to Him! Share your joys and sorrows, your hopes and fears, your accomplishments and concerns, your wants and needs ~ He really does want to hear them all! And with any good conversation, there has to be a lot of LISTENTING too! Don’t talk AT Jesus…but WITH Him. Try this, before you begin to pray to the Lord, ask Him first to give you a heart and ears to listen to what He wants to share with you. As you pray, more often than not, He will begin to reveal answers and solutions to you about the problem you are bringing to Him.

John 4:10, 13-14 is the most beautiful picture of the living water the Lord gives {as He spoke with the Samaritan woman at the well},  “Jesus answered her, “If you knew [about] God’s gift [of eternal life], and who it is who says, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him [instead], and He would have given you living water (eternal life).” Jesus answered her, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again. But whoever drinks the water that I give him will never be thirsty again. But the water that I give him will become in him a spring of water [satisfying his thirst for God] welling up [continually flowing, bubbling within him] to eternal life.””

Doesn’t that just make you take a deep breath and slowly let the truth of God’s words here rush over your heart? Go ahead…close your eyes, breathe in deep and let it out slowly…thank the Lord for His living water. The life of His words in scripture. Jesus wants to give you refills of His love and direction EVERY DAY! Your first “cup” was the day you received Him as your Lord and Savior, and it was free! Through your free gift of salvation, like a glass of refreshing water on a warm day, we can be refilled every time we seek Him out.

Whether through scripture or prayer, you are receiving your free refill every time!

It doesn’t mean that you will live a trouble free life. This I know for certain. But my life is much better lived within the continual flow of His salvation and in the bubbling in my spirit of His words, than when I try to use other things to fill up the space and void in my life. Not one thing can ever replace or refill what the Lord can give me. Nothing I strive for or earn, no fame, no pats on the back, no “free drink reward”, can ever truly fill me up.

Give yourself the freedom in Christ today to receive fulfillment from Him ~ it’s free!

The only thing it will cost you is your pride and stubborn resolve to “do it on your own”, but how’s that been workin’ for ya? How about giving that a rest, so that you can have true rest in the soul refreshment that Jesus can give!

Drink in the free refills from Jesus ~ and you’ll have all the living water you need!

Blessings,

René

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

Coming Home to a Clean House…

If you’ve ever gone on vacation or even an overnight somewhere and you get to stay in a nice hotel…well, picture that…

You walk in to an immaculately clean room, a crisply made bed, towels that are perfectly placed in the bathroom, a desk that has been meticulously laid out with items you may need….awwww…so relaxing!  Oh, and even better than this is the fact that every day you are there, you can return to a room that is all cleaned up for you!!

{And after getting into our room, my husband will run the water in the bathroom sink as hot as it’ll go, soak one of the washcloths and walk around the room cleaning off the remote, the light switches, the door knobs, etc. because of watching one of those news programs on hotel germs. lol!}

But…There’s nothing like coming HOME after time away, to a clean house!

My husband and kids still think it’s kind of a silly thing…but I’m gonna keep doing it! What is “it”?  IT is the process of cleaning house before we go out of town. I mean, if it’s only gonna be a couple days or an overnight, I don’t go as far as I usually do, but still…that toilet better be clean and all the dishes are at least out of the sink into the dishwasher! {Can I get an Amen for the dishwasher!}

A few days prior to leaving, I do the big stuff…dust, vacuum, mop, and start the laundry.  The night before (or morning of…depending on how early we have to leave) I make everyone strip their beds and put clean sheets on {and of course, make their beds up before we leave!}, and I also switch out all the bath towels for new ones. Then when we come home from our trip, we can walk in to a clean house. We don’t have to waste time cleaning up before we unpack. And if we arrive home late at night, we can easily slip under the covers into fresh, clean sheets!

As I prepare for the leaving…I also prepare for the return.

Colossians 3:15-17 is a beautiful picture of the fact that we are God’s dwelling place…Let the peace of Christ [the inner calm of one who walks daily with Him] be the controlling factor in your hearts [deciding and settling questions that arise]. To this peace indeed you were called as members in one body [of believers]. And be thankful [to God always]. Let the [spoken] word of Christ have its home within you [dwelling in your heart and mind—permeating every aspect of your being] as you teach [spiritual things] and admonish and train one another with all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Whatever you do [no matter what it is] in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus [and in dependence on Him], giving thanks to God the Father through Him.”

Every day we are here on this earth, we are preparing to do two things:

  1. We spend time with the Lord each day to prepare us for the day when we will finally meet Him face to face.
  2. We go out each day as a light to the world to show them Jesus.

In each aspect, we are preparing a clean house for the Lord to return to dwell in! Through salvation,  He is able to return to a relationship with us through His grace of reconciliation.

I mean, seriously, just read the first sentence in verse 15 above…”Let the peace of Christ [the inner calm of one who walks daily with Him] be the controlling factor in your hearts…”

Yes please! I’ll take some inner calm every day of the week!!

When I clear out the cob webs of deceit, the dust of doubt, the piles of unbelief ~ there is room for the Holy Spirit to release His calm direction in my life.

When I take care of allowing the Lord to wash away my sins with His unlimited forgiveness, there is room for the fresh blanket of His grace to be wrapped around my heart.

When I take the time to cultivate the Word into my daily life, I will be a sweet aroma not only to Him but to those around me.

But here’s the most beautiful part…

The Lord dwells within us at the exact moment we receive Him as our Savior.

The. Exact. Moment.

He doesn’t wait for housekeeping to tidy things up and remake the bed before He knocks at the door of our heart. We have the astounding privilege of opening the door of our life to Him EVEN IN THE MESS!!

When we are in a season of sweet communion with the Lord, [think…clean house…clean heart…clean mind…} our relationship with Him is right on track and it is easier to follow where He leads. Because let’s face it, a clean house means you aren’t tripping over the bag that needs to go to the donation center (yeah, totally did that this morning!) or having our senses blown away when we pass the garbage can that needs to be emptied.

But even when ~ and sometimes especially when ~ we haven’t taken good care of the dwelling place of our own heart and mind, the Lord is still there. The Holy Spirit remains in the mess. His whisper is harder to hear amidst the junk, but He still speaks to us.

What will it look like today for you to “clean house” in your heart?

Imagine what the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit will look like when He has space to freely roam. Think about how much easier it will be to hear what the Lord is saying to you when He doesn’t have to compete with the noise of the unnecessary. Picture the garden of promises that you are resting on from His Living Word instead of rusty old broken dreams.

Clean your house.

Refresh your soul.

Buy the flowers.

Drink your tea wrapped in a cozy blanket.

Invite people in.

Ephesians 2:19-22 paints a lovely image of being a part of God’s house…So then you are no longer strangers and aliens [outsiders without rights of citizenship], but you are fellow citizens with the saints (God’s people), and are [members] of God’s household,  having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus Himself as the [chief] Cornerstone,  in whom the whole structure is joined together, and it continues [to increase] growing into a holy temple in the Lord [a sanctuary dedicated, set apart, and sacred to the presence of the Lord].  In Him [and in fellowship with one another] you also are being built together into a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.”

Oh my friend…did you catch that? We are members of God’s household! He wants a place in our life and invites us to have a place with Him. What a treasure!!!

Don’t wait another day.  If you have never asked the Lord into your life, He’s ready for you right now! If you need a refresher of the Holy Spirit because you have felt distant from the Lord, just turn around and open the door of your heart because He’s standing right there!!  Jesus will always be ready to come in ~ He’s just waiting for you to invite Him to stay!!

Be in fellowship with God and with each other…both aspects will fortify your life in every way imaginable!

Blessings,

René

Ephesians 2 verse 22