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

Making new friends…

We never stop making new friends…and I don’t think it ever gets easier.

Well, maybe except for a three-year-old at a playground in a local park. I used to be amazed at my girls (and all three of them did this) and how quickly they could become “best friends” with another little girl on the playground. I would watch them scope out the area and decisively walk toward another child and say, “Wanna play on the swings with me?” There wasn’t any doubt in their sweet hearts that the answer would be “No.” And I don’t think it ever was. But even if it was, that didn’t stop them from going to the next little kid and asking them the same question. They were hardly ever fazed by a ‘no’ answer. And by the time we were ready to leave, the question to me always was, “Can she come to our house to play now?”

Really? You’ve decided in a mere hour of play that you want some stranger to come over to our house? Then came the awkward eye contact with that child’s mother, explaining to our kids that we don’t know each other and maybe we’ll just see them again the next time we go to the park. The sadness that would overtake these new friends as they hugged and parted ways was always astonishing to me. My mother-in-law would always say, “Your girls always seem to make a new best friend every time we go to the park.”

As they all got older, the rush to make a new best friend became a little slower. They learned to gage who was kind and who made them uncomfortable. They learned to bestow friendship on those who shared common interests with them. Sometimes they got burned, sometimes they discovered a great friend, but I think mostly they realized that some friends are here for a season and only a few are meant to create a history with.

It’s just like that with us as adults.

I think the equivalent to the “Wanna play on the swings with me?” is the proverbial, “Would you like to meet up for a coffee sometime?” There’s just something about sitting across from a new friend at a coffee shop that makes it less intense. That steaming mug of coffee or tea is a wonderful prop! Many of my friendships started out this way. Some are mothers of my daughter’s friends’, some are from church, and some were through introductions by mutual friends.

We never stop making new friends…at least we shouldn’t stop.

No matter our age, even when it feels overwhelming, we need those connections in our life.

And guess what, those friendships don’t have to be with someone our own age. In fact, I would recommend that you find those who are both older and younger than you! I promise you it will be one of the most rewarding things you do in your sweet life! And yes, I’m using a lot of exclamation points (to the chagrin of all my grammar loving peeps!) but I’m that passionate about it!

I absolutely admire the young women who speak into my life on a regular basis. The minute you think you have nothing to learn from the younger generation, is the minute you become self-centered. There is always something to learn. When you genuinely show that you care about what that young women is going through or her perspective on what you are going through, friends, let me tell you that is a powerful experience!

The summer of 2018 held one of the handful of life-changing moments in my life. I attended a three-week conference* where I was literally the oldest women in the room at any given time. There might have been one or two others close to my age, but not many. The track that I was in was called Brave Love** and I had never felt so loved and accpeted by 60+ women in my life…and the average age of these women was about 21! I learned so much from them and gained such a heart for the struggles and challenges they face in this world today. God certainly used these young ladies to speak truth and joy into my life and I will never forget it.

Not that all of my endeavors into friendship have always been positive, but I’ve learned so much about myself through all of them…the good…the bad…and the ugly!

It’s so hard when a friendship fizzles out or simply ends. Especially when you are not the one who ended things, it can be quite difficult to move on. That’s when you really have to step back and ask the Lord to help you figure out what to do and how to respond.

Sometimes you have inadvertently done something to hurt the other person.

Sometimes you simply outgrow each other and go down different paths. 

There are times you are hurt by the other persons actions or inattentiveness.

There are times you are pursuing what you think is a real friendship only to discover you were simply serving a purpose in their life but not as an actual friend.

Some friendships don’t end but aren’t what they once were and some friendships pop in and out of our life depending on circumstances but feel like you just saw each other. 

I’ve run the gamut in all these situations. There are friendships that ended because of my lack of empathy and understanding…those are the hardest to move past. Even after apologies, many times it’s too little too late. When you know you’ve done everything you can, be it a friend or a family member, and the other person puts that boundary gate of “Thou shalt not pass.”, you have to move on for your own mental health.

On the other end of the spectrum are those friends from long ago who come back into our lives. This has recently happened to me with three friends from high school, one of whom was in my wedding. We had not seen each other for 16 years, yet having them and their family in our home to share a meal felt like we had not missed a beat. The other two I haven’t seen pretty much since graduation (and that was way more than 16 years ago!) but it was so easy to settle into conversation.

There is something to be said about shared experiences.

When a friendship ends or becomes less than it once was, the most important thing to remember is that God allowed that friendship to be in your life for a reason. He is not surprised by the changes and He’s completely aware that the enemy will try and make us feel as those we are unworthy of friendship.

There is always a purpose. We were created for friendship and for relationship.

John 10:14-15 says this about God the Father,

14 I am the Good Shepherd, and I know [without any doubt those who are] My own and My own know Me [and have a deep, personal relationship with Me]— 15 even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father—and I lay down My [very own] life [sacrificing it] for the benefit of the sheep.

We are known and seen by God and He desires relationship with us. That is why we crave friendship…to be seen and known by others here on this side of heaven. We are not meant to live a solitary life.

Friendships are great, messy, meaningful, frustrating, significant, and heart-breaking. But they are all intended to bring goodness to our life.

That goodness might look like heart-break, but for whatever reason, God is removing that person from our life. We may never know why, but trusting in God’s goodness is far better than relying on our own perceived wisdom.

Good or bad, friendships are necessary to help us become the person the Lord intends for us to be. Hard moments in friendship reveal something in our character that God is trying to either soften or remove. Sweet moments in friendship are a blessing and salve to the soul and create confidence to go out and continue making new friends.

It might feel scary at the time, but the next time you feel prompted to meet someone new, know that it’s probably the Holy Spirit asking you to step out in faith to reach out to that person. Go make a new friend!

So, step into a version of your 3-year-old self on the playground, and say, “Hey, would you like to go grab a coffee with me?”

Blessings,

René

Making New Friends...blog 11-2019

Photo by Seemi Samuel on Unsplash

* 21 Project via Circuit Riders ~ https://21project.com/

** Brave Love ~ https://bravelovewomen.com

 

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

Plans Fulfilled in Faithfulness…

It is one of the biggest blessings in my life to have people I can count on to encourage me and to challenge me. The Lord has placed a small but mighty group of women in my life who do just that! They each bring out something different in me because of the gifts and talents God has given them, but the common denominator…they always point me to Jesus!

And that’s what we are supposed to do as friends and confidantes! Right!!??!!

I’m in a season of hearing the Lord speak clearer than ever as to what my “yeses” are and what my “no’s” are. And they don’t necessarily make sense to other people, but that’s because God doesn’t always call us to the same things. I mean, we are basically all called to seek the Lord, to preach the Gospel, and to point others to the saving knowledge of Jesus. But the way in which we do that will look different from others.

And it’s supposed to be that way!

We are created uniquely and have opportunities to be in front of certain people that others wouldn’t. I mean, I’m not gonna be sitting down and having a chat with Kanye any time soon ~ although, it would be fascinating to hear his story of transformation! ~ but I am confident that there are people who obviously had that opportunity and they are a part of his story of salvation.  That’s so cool!

But it doesn’t have to be a famous person that we interact with.

That’s where God’s plans fall perfectly in place.

He is the one who puts in places to influence and minister to those in our circle…our neighborhood…our community at church…where our kids go to school…where we work out…and so many more places.

You are exactly where YOU need to be because it’s exactly where GOD put you!

I remember years ago we toured a beautiful estate in the Nashville, TN area ~ in the summer! I just love the architecture, the stories of the people who lived there, the photos of grand balls and afternoons of High Tea!  My husband teased me that I would’ve loved to have been a Southern Belle “back in the day”. To which I quickly replied, “Yes, I would’ve but God knew this girl can’t handle a house without air conditioning!” Although living a grand life as a Southern Belle would’ve been fun, I honestly think I may have died young from heat stroke. Or I would’ve been the outcast in the female circles because I’d be constantly trying to figure out how to where something cooler!

But seriously, we are all right where we are supposed to be.

You may not like where you are, but you are there. 

Let me encourage you to call out to the Lord, whether it be in desperation, frustration, anger, or apathy…call out because He will hear you! If you don’t understand why you are in the situation you are currently in, take a moment to be still and listen to His answer. There WILL be an answer.

I began this blog taking about friends who help keep us accountable, and this is where they come in. After prayer, reach out to a friend who you know will absolutely go before the throne and pray for you. And if you are that friend, ask the Lord for a word of encouragement to share ~ that means so much!

I recently had a day where I needed to be encouraged and after reaching out for prayer, I received this verse from my friend Christine,

“Such is the confidence and steadfast reliance and absolute trust that we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficiently qualified in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency and qualifications come from God. He has qualified us [making us sufficient] as ministers of a new covenant [of salvation through Christ], not of the letter [of a written code] but of the Spirit; for the letter [of the Law] kills [by revealing sin and demanding obedience], but the Spirit gives life.” ~ 2 Cor. ‭3:4-6‬ ‭AMP‬‬

It was like water to my thirsty soul! And as soon as I read it, the Lord reminded me about the ‘verse of the day’ that I had read that morning and how the two went together,

“O LORD, You are my God; I will exalt You, I will praise and give thanks to Your name; For You have done miraculous things, Plans formed long, long ago, [fulfilled] with perfect faithfulness.” ~ Isaiah ‭25:1‬ ‭AMP‬‬

This is one of those glorious moments to me that reminds me that God’s Word is truly ALIVE!!  It is not a dead text that was written thousands of years ago. It is the Living Word of the amazing Living God that I serve with my whole heart.

The plans that God has for me have been formed FOR ME before I was formed in my mother’s womb. And the same goes for you.

Let that sink in for a bit!

God thought of YOU before you were formed. You were real to Him before you were held by your mother or father. You were loved by Him before anyone else.

You were planned for!  You are planned for even know!

Even when we don’t feel like we matter or that we could possibly make a difference in this world, the fact is that you do matter and you can and are making a difference!

My friends, this is where we must stand firm. For as much as God plans for us to shine for His glory, the enemy (Satan) wants us to fail and fail hard!

God qualifies ~ Satan wants to disqualify

God raises us up ~ Satan wants to diminish us

God sees you ~ Satan wants you to feel invisible

God knows you intimately ~ Satan wants you to feel unworthy

God loves you for being you ~ Satan wants you to feel unlovable

But guess what…in case you didn’t know…

GOD HAS THE VICTORY OVER EVERY PART OF OUR LIFE!! 

Satan loses…and he loses every time!

Oh, just in case you need a bit more convincing, here’s one more promise for you from Philippians 1:6 AMP,

“I am convinced and confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will [continue to] perfect and complete it until the day of Christ Jesus [the time of His return].”

The Lord will not let you down. In every moment, easy or challenging, He is there right by your side. Worthy of praise and desirous of being in relationship with us!

My prayer for you today is that you can stand firm in the truth of God’s Word; to know that you are qualified through the Lord to do what He has called you to do. The Holy Spirit will give you sufficient grace and direction to follow the plans the Lord has for you, you just need to listen! God will bring about His plans for you in His timing as we are faithful to be obedient to Him. 

And those plans will be perfectly fulfilled by His faithfulness!

Blessings,

René

Plans Fulfilled in Faithfulness

Photo by Bethany Cirlincione on Unsplash

 

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

When the storms come…

I’m a California girl through and through. People don’t think we have weather in SoCal but we do! In the summer we’re wearing light weight clothes but at night, it can get cold…enough to put on a sweatshirt with our shorts! And once you hit September through March, you’re experiencing Winter when you first wake up, Spring in the later morning, Summer in the afternoon, and Fall by the time the sun goes down. Yeah, yeah, I know…but it’s all the seasons!

One thing that I’m used to living in SoCal is the earthquakes. I like that I don’t know they are coming. I like that they only last a minute or 90 seconds. I like that when they happen, I’m usually with people. I like that we can talk about a 30-90 second event for the next few days like we survived something tremendous. I’m thankful that I’ve never lost anyone in an earthquake, but I know plenty of people who have lost almost all their belongings in one. Including my own parents. They stayed with us in our tiny 600 sq. ft. apartment for a week after the 1994 Northridge Earthquake. Unbeknownst to me, they had popped in a video of the aftermath in the house while I was out doing the daily load of towels. When I came back inside, I thought they were still watching the news and I said, “Wow, those poor people. They are literally shoveling their kitchen belongings into a trash can.” My parents and husband looked at me and my Dad said, “Poor people? Well, yeah. That’s our house.” It was completely unrecognizable.

But we were in it together.

A few years later, I was visiting my sisters-in-law and their families when they lived in Naperville, IL. One of sisters-in-law had recently had twin girls and we had come for a visit. We convinced her to come out with us, just the moms, and have a day out to have lunch and do some window shopping in the cute downtown. And then it started to sprinkle. Then it started to rain. Then it began to pour like mad. And then it happened…the sirens started blaring for a tornado warning! My sister-in-law did the driving & was trying to reach her family to make sure her husband and my husband had gotten all the children down to the basement. It wasn’t funny, kinda like Mr. Toad’s wild ride and I’d never experienced such crazy rain!

But we were in it together.

That brings me to my experience last night and the inspiration for this blog.

I was alone.

I’m in the Dallas, TX area right now for a conference (shout out to The Declare Conference!) for Christian Communicators. As I was almost at my hotel, it was sprinkling a bit and the lightning show was incredible! After I was settled in, I realized I had time to get to the nearest Trader Joes to grab something for a later dinner. Then I heard a HUGE clap of thunder. I looked out my window…the rain was going sideways because the wind was so bad! Needless to say, I just went down to the lobby to see what they had; not much by the way, and I ate my frozen dinner with two coffee stirrers like they were chop sticks…it worked!

I wasn’t worried until the TV signal went out. Oh, and it cut out right after they declared a tornado warning.  WHAT???!!!! The rain, thunder, and lightning got worse. But I could still get text messages out. I didn’t feel quite so alone as I asked a few friends and family to pray for me and the whole weather situation. After about 20 minutes or so, the TV came back on and I felt confident that it’d all be okay. Some time went by and then my phone buzzed to life with a “Your area is experiencing a tornado. Please seek appropriate shelter nearby.” And then the sirens began to wail!

Are you kidding me? I was going on over an hour with this crazy weather! I called my husband just to hear his voice and he was very kind to comfort me in my fear.

So, I grabbed my phone, the charger, my clothes and tennis shoes, and my tote bag with my id and laptop in it, two of the pillows off the bed and holed up in the bathroom.  I was so thankful that my phone was charged and that through it all, that TV signal may have died, but I could still talk with my husband. I didn’t want to think about what was going on outside so I asked him to tell me every detail of an event he had gone to that night. Seriously, I wanted to hear it all. I felt safe enough to open the door after about 20 minutes because I heard the TV go back on. That must mean the tornado had passed. And indeed it had.

But in those moments…okay that 90 minutes…I was fearful and I was going through the storm alone. I didn’t want to be in that hotel room by myself. What if had been really bad? What if the tornado ripped through the place? I kept texting with my family and they kept encouraging me. They were with me, but I still felt alone. Finally around 2am I was able to fall asleep. Praise the Lord for that!

My hotel was fine, our area was totally fine, but seeing the news in the morning, it was not fine for so many people. A church, a home depot, schools, homes ~ most with their rooves blown away and trees that had landed on top of the rest. My heart broke for those who were coming back to their homes and businesses, only to find them demolished. Yesterday they had plans, but today, they are entering a season of unplanned rebuilding.

This is why we need our people in a storm. 

We need a hand to hold, a hug to comfort us, or a text to remind us that our people are praying for us. We are not built to weather a storm alone.

But through the storm last night, I wasn’t truly alone. I know the Lord was with me, but He has created community and that is why we have such a strong desire within us to be surrounded by our people. The ones who support us, calm us, laugh with (or at!) us, ugly cry with us, sit in silence with us…the ones who know what we need in those stormy moments.

We will go through storms in life, that is promised but we are also promised that they will not overtake us. The Lord will always be with us. {Isaiah 43:1-3a}*

The Lord has used storms to protect His people {Exodus, chapter 14}, to bring the Word to the unsaved {Jonah, chapter 1}, and He has used storms to remind us of His power {Luke, chapter 8}. The storms that the Lord allows to come into our lives don’t always make sense and sometimes they are extremely painful. But there is always a purpose. There is always a way out and an opportunity to bring Him glory through the stormy season He brings us out of.

I’m thankful that the One who calms the storm lives in me.

Blessings,

René

we are not alone in the storm - blog - 10-21-19

Photo by Gavin Spear on Unsplash

Isaiah 43:1-3a But now, this is what the Lord, your Creator says, O Jacob,
And He who formed you, O Israel, “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you [from captivity]; I have called you by name; you are Mine! 2 “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they will not overwhelm you. When you walk through fire, you will not be scorched, Nor will the flame burn you. “For I am the Lord your God, The Holy One of Israel, your Savior;

 

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

Are we really Sheep after all…

My husband and I recently hosted a family dinner with friends of ours. We hadn’t seen either of the couples in about 20 years, and it was the first time we’d met their children, but it felt like no time had passed at all. The color of our hair, the reading glasses, and the wrinkles on our faces say otherwise. But it was spectacular! We used to meet with four other couples, including these two, when we first were married every month and it was fantastic! Sharing meals, playing board games, celebrating holidays and special occasions. Then life took us all in different directions ~ but thank goodness for Christmas cards and social media!  Am I right??

At any rate, one of our friends have now been sheep farmers in Wyoming for the past 9 years and they love it! We heard all kinds of new terms like, “Oh yeah, we like to lamb in the summer.  It’s way too cold for us and for the lambs to be born in 10-degree weather.” Jesse and Michelle have over 400 sheep at any given time, but lambing season is definitely a highlight. By the way…I’m totally planning some time in my schedule to go next summer and experience Fowler Farms for myself!

When I asked what the best/hardest part of being a modern-day shepherd was, they said that both aspects kinda went hand in hand. Taking care of hundreds of sheep is a major full time 24/7 job!

Then my friends’ husband said, “The hardest part is where the romance ends, and the work really begins.” Isn’t it always so enticing to think about having pets or adding animals into your home equation…until they actually arrive! And with a slight chuckle, they said that after all the years they have been raising sheep, they totally understand why the Lord compares us to sheep in the Bible! LOL!

My friend Michelle recalled a particularly difficult birthing experience. It was on Mother’s Day and she had to unexpectedly go out to help her husband help a struggling mama ewe. At first it made her so mad because after all, we momma’s look forward to Mother’s Day. But then, she and Jesse were able to save the babies and the mama. “The experience of that incredible birthing moment was in fact quite spiritual. And then you step back and thank God for letting you be a part of His great work!”

I did a little research via the old world-wide web too and found a great site that gave the basics about sheep and it was amazing to me to see the correlations between us and sheep and how the Lord shepherds both.

There are four areas where the shepherd must pay attention:

  • Flock Welfare
  • Protecting from Predators
  • Protecting Health
  • Shearing the Flock

Just as Christ came to be our salvation, the first thing a shepherd must be aware of is the safety of his flock. “The shepherd will graze the animals, herding them to areas of good forage, and keeping a watchful eye out for poisonous plants. Shepherds often live in trailers or other mobile quarters. As the sheep eat all the forage in an area, the shepherd will move both the sheep and his living quarters to fresh range. In most cases, the shepherd and his dogs will move the sheep out to fresh grazing each day and bring them back to bed down in the same area each night.” *

This is what Christ does for us every day. But the difference between us and the sheep, is that we activate more of a conscious choice about how and when we will listen to the voice of the shepherd. Each day, as we read God’s word, we are grazing in fresh areas of truth. Even if it’s a passage that we’ve read multiple times, when we are attuned to the voice of the Lord, we can experience the verse anew. When our focus in on the Lord and are following Him, we do a better job of avoiding sinful temptations in our life.

In terms of protection, “…a shepherd may use guard dogs or other guard animals.” * The Lord gave us the Holy Spirit for this same purpose. Read here in John 14 and 16,

John 14:26 “But the Helper (Comforter, Advocate, Intercessor—Counselor, Strengthener, Standby), the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name [in My place, to represent Me and act on My behalf], He will teach you all things. And He will help you remember everything that I have told you.”

John 16:7 “But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper (Comforter, Advocate, Intercessor—Counselor, Strengthener, Standby) will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him (the Holy Spirit) to you [to be in close fellowship with you].”

When my daughters were younger and new in their faith, I used to explain the ministry of the Holy Spirit to them very simply. I would tell them, “When you have that ‘uh oh’ feeling in your tummy, that was the Holy Spirit giving them a warning that maybe what they were about to do or so was not something honoring to the Lord.” Hey, I still think that’s a good way to recognize the direction the Holy Spirit gives us. It’s not about emotionalism…it’s about learning to discern the warnings and guidance the Lord intends to give us through His Holy Spirit every day.

The same way that spending time in scripture helps us to learn more about who God is and what His plans for us are, it is always how we stay healthy: spiritually, mentally, and emotionally. Modern day shepherds must be vigilant in protecting the health of their flock and monitor their animals at all times and especially during the lambing season. The sheep, “…may also be bothered by insects, some of which carry disease. During lambing season, the shepherd will make frequent checks on the ewes at all hours of the day and night and may assist the ewe if birthing problems occur. Shepherds may also dock, or cut off, the tails of young lambs.” *

Hebrews 12:11 says it perfectly, “For the time being no discipline brings joy, but seems sad and painful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness [right standing with God and a lifestyle and attitude that seeks conformity to God’s will and purpose].”

As believers in Christ, we belong to the Lord. He is with us always, so He is keenly aware when we need help going through trials, when there is disease {sin} creeping in to take over our heart and mind, or when we simply need to know that He sees us. Just as a ewe cries out alerting her shepherd that she needs help, we can cry out to the Lord and He hears us. We may not always get the answer we want, but He will always answer us.

Just last week I was having a terrible attitude going into church. I had allowed myself to fall prey to the temptation of irritation with others and self-doubt and spiraled from there. We got to church late, had to walk through to the middle of the row, and usually I love singing but I could barely get the words out, so I just stood there. But I was fighting a battle…a big spiritual one and I needed help. I asked the Lord to help me get out of this ridiculous funk because I wanted to sing, and I wanted to hear what our pastor had to share in his sermon.

I began to feel the sadness leave my mind as we sat down in our seats. In that moment, a sweet older lady that was sitting behind me, reached forward to hug me and give me a kiss on the cheek. Then she whispered in my ear, “Hello sweetheart! I’m so glad you here.” WHAT IN THE WORLD!!!!  I knew in that moment; Jesus was whispering those same words to my heavy heart. My sinful attitude didn’t deserve such a kindness, but in my quiet plea to the Lord, I knew He had heard me and wanted to gift to me tangible proof to show me so.

He is a good good Shepherd!

The last piece of being a good Shepherd is to know when and how to shear the sheep. The article* I read says this, “Unlike other animals that shed their hair in the spring, many breeds of sheep must be shorn – have their fleece cut off with shears or clippers. This task may be assigned to sheepshearers, whose primary occupation is shearing, or it may be the responsibility of the shepherd. Sheep may be sheared in the open or in holding pens. ”

If I’d not seen it myself, I’m not sure I could’ve truly understood the complete trust a sheep has in the shepherd. A few years ago, I was able to go with my husband on a business trip to New Zealand. One of the producers he was working with, asked if I’d be up for his wife to take me on a few adventures while we were there ~ you betcha!! Almost apologetically she said, “It’s kind of touristy, but would you want to go to Sheep World?” Um…yeah, I want to go to sheep world!  And it was absolutely amazing!! {here’s the website if you’re ever in NZ ~ http://www.sheepworldfarm.co.nz/}

Part of the show was to educate people on the nature of sheep and to raise them. It was fascinating to watch the sheep being called in by the shepherd…partly using his sheep dog to corral the sheep up on the hill and partly his own set of voice commands that the sheep recognized. Then he brought in a few sheep who needed shearing. He showed our small audience how to do it properly ~ how to hold these massive animals in such a way as to cause them to be calm while being sheared. It was remarkable. The sheep made no sound and didn’t struggle to get away. It was clear though, when the shearing was over they wanted to get back to the flock as quickly as possible.

And guess what…this shepherd gave folks an opportunity to do some shearing…and my new friend started pointing at me. I almost turned down the chance but figured I probably wouldn’t get that opportunity again! So, I sheared a bit of wool off this lovely creature and then a bit later I was able to hold a sweet newborn lamb and feed it with a bottle! I was in heaven!!

{Side note: there are many stories out there perpetuated by well-meaning pastors and speakers that state the idea that shepherds will break a leg of a lamb when they stray too many times, in order to teach it to stay with the flock. Not being able to interview someone who lived during the days of Jesus, and seeing a few articles about ancient shepherding, this possibly was done but not as an everyday measure. I’ve spent hours researching this concept on the website and asked my friends who’ve been running a sheep farm ~ all point to the fact that this hasn’t been a reality for a very very very long time! A good shepherd would not intentionally cause harm to a member of his flock. In the same way, Jesus our Good Shepherd, does not intentionally “break” us when we have strayed. He stays nearby, calling our name until we are able to recognize His voice again and in a spiritual sense (and maybe even a physical sense) rejoin the flock and follow the path He has for us.

If you have ever heard this other version and thus made the decision to leave Christ out of your life for fear that He will cause harm to come to you, please know that I’m praying for you to understand who Jesus really is. He is the One who came to save us from our sinful life that, without Him, leads to eternal separation from Him. He will give us lessons in order to have the opportunity to turn away from sin and follow Him. When we ask for forgiveness it is immediate and it is not brought up again. Jesus does not need to “break our leg” in order for us to follow Him. The Lord will always have His arms outstretched to gather us to Himself; when we are wounded by this world, He is there to carry us. He does not do the wounding.}

So, are we sheep after all? Yeah…I think we are.

  • We don’t always see well and tend to wander around with the rest of the flock.
  • We must learn to hear the true voice of our Shepherd to keep us from falling over a cliff or to know when danger is present and to run the other way.,
  • We need someone to watch over us; to pick off the diseased parts in our soul and to shear off the weight of coverings that we no longer need.

And most of all, we need a gentle Shepherd to lead us home to Himself.

Blessings,

René

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Photo by Tanner Yould on Unsplash

Sources:

 

 

 

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Hey Girl…our Bodies are Incredible…

Yeah, I said it!

All of God’s creation is amazing and He claims several times in the first few verses of the book of Genesis that His creation is good…He loves His creation!

As a woman: mother of three daughters, mentor to young women in college, friend, sister, and wife…I want to celebrate how amazingly incredible a woman’s body is! Not because my body is perfect, but because I know I’m perfectly made!

A woman’s body is capable of so much!

We are created with the capacity to grow and nurture, to rise up and protect, and to create and teach.

There are several phenomenal women in my life who have given birth recently or who will be soon. And the Mom’s bible study that I’m a part of, it seems like every week someone is announcing a new pregnancy. I’m completely fascinated by baby belly’s ~ my own three and all the rest of them out there! I mean, just the fact that God created our skin to stretch like it does to hold that burgeoning belly!! Dang!!

A woman’s body is made to be a place of shelter as she literally grows a baby in her womb. God created her to have all the parts she needs. I want to be sensitive here and say that although I have not personally gone through the loss of a child, I have personal experience in losing a brother due to SIDS when he was only 3.5 months old, and I have several friends and family members who have gone through miscarriages and the realities of not being able to become pregnant. It is a very tender subject and my heart goes out to all who have suffered in this way.

What I do believe is that because God made our bodies to create, our God is not limited to use those qualities in only one way.

You may have cradled your a swollen belly and felt your baby kick, you may have been handed a newly born answer to prayer as you adopted a sweet baby the day they were born, or you may have held countless hands as you prayed for the young women in your life who have become your spiritual children. All of these paths to motherhood are significant and all of them carry the beauty and privilege that God has ordained us as women to carry!

We have a unique privilege in that our heart just keeps growing as God places people in our life to minister to ~ more full of His love that can be poured out!!

Our bodies are incredible for so many more reasons other than carrying a child too.

A woman has been fashioned by God with His Mother Heart. 

  • Judges 5:7 says, “The villagers ceased to be; they ceased in Israel Until I, Deborah, arose, Until I arose, a mother in Israel.”
  • ~ If you have not read the story yet of Deborah, one of the Judges of Israel, you’ve got to do that asap! God gave her the ability to listen and discern the issues of the people of Israel and bring down judgement on them befitting the requests. God’s heart leans toward us when we come to Him with our life issues and He discerns what is best for us. In this same way, Deborah was able to rise up and lead the people to a place of victory and healing…as a mother. She saw God’s people in pain and her heart could no longer take the inaction. God created women to be caretakers.

A woman has been ordained to carry spiritual truths to the next generations.

  • 2 Timothy 1:5 says, “I remember your sincere and unqualified faith [the surrendering of your entire self to God in Christ with confident trust in His power, wisdom and goodness, a faith] which first lived in [the heart of] your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am confident that it is in you as well.”
  • ~ Not only to our own children, but to all of those in our sphere of influence, are we to share the truths of scripture with. You are probably a mentor without even knowing it! Whether it is your daughters, the young mom at church who asks you questions about motherhood, your friends that you meet for coffee, or the college student you hang out with, your grandchildren or the little ones in children’s church on Sunday mornings…you are mentoring them by sharing your life and letting them see what it means to allow God to work in your life.

A woman has been given the power to protect.

  • Exodus 2 shares the story of a mother who has what I like to call the “Mama Bear” protocol, absolutely sewn into her very being. {And we all have it by the way!} These verses (1-4) say, Now a man of the house of Levi [the priestly tribe] went and took as his wife a daughter of Levi. The woman conceived and gave birth to a son; and when she saw that he was [especially] beautiful and healthy, she hid him for three months [to protect him from the Egyptians]. When she could no longer hide him, she got him a basket (chest) made of papyrus reeds and covered it with tar and pitch [making it waterproof]. Then she put the child in it and set it among the reeds by the bank of the Nile. And his sister [Miriam] stood some distance away to find out what would happen to him.”
    ~
    We do not know the name of Moses’ mother in these verses, but find out later in Exodus 6 that her name is Jochebed. This woman knew that there was something special in her son Moses and she was going to do whatever it took to protect him.     ~ I can only imagine what she went through in those months of keeping him safe from execution. But how beautiful that God provided a way for her to care for him and nurse him, even after he was found and adopted into the Pharoah’s house. This is one of God’s amazing kindnesses we see in scripture. 

A woman has been given the grace to carry life.

  • Psalm 139:13 says, “For You formed my innermost parts; You knit me [together] in my mother’s womb.”
  • John 16:21 gives this insight, “A woman, when she is in labor, has pain because her time [to give birth] has come; but when she has given birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish because of her joy that a child has come into the world.” 

  • ~ There is pain in growth. Pregnancy can be precarious and there are no guarantees. I almost lost our third daughter at 16 weeks when I had an extreme gall bladder attack. Our doctor told us that even though carrying a child is a normal function for a woman, any time our body goes into distress (like a gall bladder attack) the body will seek out “foreign entities and get rid of them.” My brain could hardly comprehend what the doctor was saying…have the surgery to remove my gall bladder so I wouldn’t have another attack but possibly lose the baby, or wait till after birth to have the surgery but if I had another attack at another point in the pregnancy, I ran the high risk of miscarriage. What? The caring hearts of all the doctors and nurses involved in my emergency surgery were beyond amazing. My husband and I are so grateful to them and to the Lord who saw fit to keep our little one safe during surgery. But in the pain of that surgery, the pain of childbirth, it really does all go away almost quicker than it came. 

A woman’s body is incredible!

Our hearts break when we walk a hard road with a friend simply because their heart is broken.

Our hearts swell with pride at our child’s accomplishments or when we see the growth of one whom we’ve been mentoring as they reach their dreams.

We cry at every single “Soldier coming home” story, even if it’s for a coffee commercial.

We rise up and fight for those who do not have a voice, or the strength, to fight for themselves.

We encourage our people to grow and change, to mature and become world changers because we know how capable they are in their gifting’s to make a difference in this world!

We serve an incredible God, who has created us to be incredible!

Women ~ our bodies, our hearts, our minds, our emotions, our feelings ~ they are all important and they are all that encompasses the reality that we are incredible!!

Blessings,

René

Women are amazing!

 

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

Did God Disappear….

Have you ever felt this way? Like God has completely disappeared from your life? I will admit that the thought (and feeling) have crossed my mind. Especially when I’m going through a difficult situation.

I feel lost!

I want answers!

I need help!

Sound familiar?

There is usually a reason why at times, I don’t feel God’s presence in my life, and it does always lay at my doorstep. We don’t want to take responsibility most of the time, let’s just be honest here, but feeling far away from God usually means that we have continued walking on our merry way down a path that God has not intended for us to travel. There’s a saying I heard years ago, but it’s so true, “It only takes one step in the right direction to find God again.”

He is always right there when I need Him. Always!!

But sometimes, there might another reason why we feel that God has seemingly disappeared from our life. Maybe it’s because He’s shielding us. Maybe He’s behind us, protecting us from something coming, something striving to devour us. I Peter 5:8 {AMP} warns us to be alert, “Be sober [well balanced and self-disciplined], be alert and cautious at all times. That enemy of yours, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion [fiercely hungry], seeking someone to devour.”

There is SOMETHING seeking to destroy us and his name is Satan. He and his demons really do have a plan to completely screw up your entire life.  He wants to get us so anxious, worried, depressed, angry, etc., that we think God has disappeared. All of those distractions become like a thick fog over our spiritual vision and we can’t see our own hand in front of us. But let me assure you…God is still at work in your life when things seem upside down.

If you go back into the verse above, you will see that the devil is “like a roaring lion” ~ he is NOT a lion though…but he sure makes us think he has that kind of power when he’s lurking about. The devil’s job is to poke around in our mind, confuse us, cause us to doubt the truths we know,  and quite simply bring us to a point where we lose hope.

Matthew 22:37 {AMP} says, “And Jesus replied to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’”, and we are told this because we are cautioned in Ephesians 6:11-13 {AMP} saying, Put on the full armor of God [for His precepts are like the splendid armor of a heavily-armed soldier], so that you may be able to [successfully] stand up against all the schemes and the strategies and the deceits of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood [contending only with physical opponents], but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this [present] darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) places. Therefore, put on the complete armor of God, so that you will be able to [successfully] resist and stand your ground in the evil day [of danger], and having done everything [that the crisis demands], to stand firm [in your place, fully prepared, immovable, victorious].”

So although God is working on our behalf, He also calls us to be an active participant in the process of keeping the Lord close and the enemy far away.

But for those times when we are actively pursuing what God has called us to do, how He asks us to live, the way in which to raise our children, our attitude at work ~ whatever it may be ~ and we still feel alone, let me take you to the Old Testament for quick minute and give you some encouragement.

In Exodus 14:19-20 {AMP} we read, “The angel of God, who had been going in front of the camp of Israel, moved and went behind them. The pillar of the cloud moved from in front and stood behind them. So it came between the camp of Egypt and the camp of Israel. It was a cloud along with darkness [even by day to the Egyptians], but it gave light by night [to the Israelites]; so one [army] did not come near the other all night.” 

To put these verses in perspective, the Israelites were in the middle of escaping Pharaoh. Now, the Pharaoh had let the people go with Moses, but then he had a change of mind when he realized that he no longer had anyone to do the manual labor around town. So he sent hoards of his chariots and armies to get them back.

The Israelites were already anxious about leaving the life they knew in Egypt (even though they hated it…it was what they knew), and God knew this too.  He knew the depth of anxiety they felt as they walked across the land. I’ve always thought that the people who were in the front of the pack, walking closer to Moses and Aaron, would’ve been quite a bit more at ease than those closing up the ranks. I mean, come on, if they were attacked, who was gonna die first?

But check this out…those folks in the front also could see the cloud that God was in, the one leading and guiding them, seemingly disappear. That must have been incredibly unsettling. Can you imagine the conversations, “Hey – did you notice the cloud left us?” “Um, I think God just disappeared.” “What do we do now…where do we walk?” Those people in the front were suddenly forced to believe that although the cloud was behind them and probably looked a bit smaller way at the back of the pack, it was still there!

It had moved but it was still there!

The cloud offered a massive amount of protection…one that was not even quite realized by the Israelites. It offered a source of light for them to walk by night and it appeared as darkness behind them so that the armies of Pharaoh could not see them, or each other.

The cloud that God was in, stayed there until the Israelites were safe!  The whole group (which was probably more than a million people) came to the Red Sea.  Once again, the people had to trust that God was still there. Moses had to trust that he was hearing God’s instruction. The sea parted, the people walked across on dry land…and that cloud stayed behind them all along the way to the other side. God caused confusion for Pharaoh’s armies and they were annihilated by the Lord when the sea walls came crashing back together. {Exodus 14:21-30}.

It only looked like God has disappeared, leaving the people to fend for themselves…but He didn’t.

And He hasn’t left you!

Look around your life and see where the hand of God has protected you? Shielded you from injury or attack? And if you can’t identify something right away, pray and ask the Lord to show you how He has protected you.  He WILL absolutely reveal to you where He has been in your life.

You left your keys in your unlocked car ~ and it was still there when you got back?

You left for work later than usual, causing great irritation, only to pass a horrific car accident on the freeway that possibly could have been you?

The anonymous grocery gift card that is dropped off on your front porch when you’re in need.

And so many others…

If you look hard enough, meaning, if you take your eyes off of yourself and lift them up, you WILL find the Lord. You will see Him guiding you, protecting you, shielding you. He is not far from you ~ just turn around and you will see.

He’s been there the whole time!

Blessings,

René

Exodus 14 verse 19

 

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Active Patience….

These words just do not seem to go together…Actively patient? Patiently waiting? Eagerly awaiting?…

Active: engaged in action characterized by energetic work, participation, etc.;

Patience: an ability or willingness to suppress restlessness or annoyance when confronted with delay.

So if we play the old teacher trick of learning how to use words properly and write a sentence using those words…so here’s mine ~

To be engaged with energetic participation while at the same time being willing to keep annoyance at a distance when faced with task of waiting. {rab}

Doesn’t that sound like fun? 🙂

Our brains just don’t seem to work that way to think that these words could actually be a complement one another. The season that our family has been in for the past several months has been one of excitement and sorrow, anticipation, joy, and sadness. As the day drew closer for her daughter’s wedding we were eagerly anticipating that special day and praying that God would be honored in that day. And He absolutely was! It is a surreal for sure to watch your baby get married and pledge her life to the man that you have been praying for years since she was a child. To see the reality of those prayers, those 24 years worth of prayers, come to fruition is joyfully humbling. To see how their lives have been shaped by a variety of events, how their paths crossed so many times, how they could’ve met on many different occasions…But God knew the exact moment that He wanted to bring them together and it was perfectly timed.

That is the kind of anticipation we all dream about and become giddy about when we see it coming true.

But what about the anticipation of knowing a loved one has the proverbial one foot in this earth and one foot at the threshold of heaven? When you know their heart is eagerly awaiting a moment of being Jesus and with those who have gone before them? How do we put that together in our mind? There is nothing you can do except to be patient while your loved one appears to be helplessly waiting for their time to come.

Twenty-five short days after the most joyful day of our year, watching our daughter as she got married, we watched my father-in-law and my grandmother called home to be with the Lord ~ within one day of each other. The sorrow that overcame me in those days was real, but just as real was the joy that they are whole and complete in the presence of the Lord…their Savior they both so dearly loved.

In the midst of all of that, my husband developed a terrible case of shingles on his face just a mere six days after the wedding. I’ve had my own issues with shoulder pain that seemed to come out of nowhere. And then we added some more joy (TRULY!  It’s fabulous!!) in the form of a new job opportunity for my husband and a very quick transition of our youngest daughter moving away to her dream college… finding ourselves in the proverbial beginning of being empty nester.

That whole empty nest part of life, well, I can tell you honestly it is not something that I have been eagerly awaiting. It is not something I have been longing for. Sure, there are days that I remember what our three girls were small children, and I would fantasize about having the house to myself…More importantly, having a clean house to myself. But I do not like the quiet. I do not like it at all. But this is where God is going to meet me and I suppose if I am being honest with myself, and with you as you read this maybe you find yourself in the same place, I am not necessarily eagerly awaiting to be alone or to be quiet with God.In so many ways it is nerve-racking to admit this. I have been a Christian for 40 years, I love the Lord and my heart is to serve Him, and besides that, are we supposed to admit these times when we are a little nervous or maybe even afraid to be alone with God?

I can say that I am nervous about what I will hear from the Lord.

What does He want from me in this new season of my life? What will he require from me in order to serve Him? Will it be hard? Are there decisions ahead of me that will be difficult to make? All of these things ramble around in my mind and I am grateful that the Lord is patiently awaiting my availability to be with Him. Oh sure, I will read devotionals, I will read inspirational books from fantastic authors, I will read the youversion Bible app verse of the day… but I know God is calling me to much, much more.

Psalm 37:7 {AMP} “Be still before the Lord; waitpatiently for Him and entrust yourself to Him; Do not fret (whine, agonize) because of him who prospers in his way, Because of the man who carries out wicked schemes.”

God is calling me to a place where I can be patiently waiting – actively patient – dare I say, eagerly awaiting even?

God wants me in a place every morning where I can honestly pray and tell the Lord, “Use me today however You want to, in the way that You need to, in order to bring You glory.” Even now it is really easy to write this because I have followed the Lord for so long, I know the right answers. I know the right things to say to make me sound as though I have my “Christian walk” all together. But until I put all of that knowledge to work, nothing that God has called me to do will be accomplished the way He intends.

I have researched hundreds of verses that talk about being patient, being eager, about waiting…And all of them point me to the same place.

I must seek him first. Always every day.I need to trust the voice of the Holy Spirit when He whispers to me an idea, something to pray about, someone to pray for, even the thoughts that come to me for ideas about writing a blog post or writing a book. After seeing how God has created so many opportunities in my life for His glory to shine through because of how He has provided for me and for our family, it is a wonder even to me that I doubt the call that God has placed on my life.

Where do you find yourself today? Are you in the same place that I am right now? Are you wondering how someone can call themselves a “good Christian” and have these doubts that I have? {but please please remember that our salvation is NOT based on works…we are only saved through the grace and favor from the Lord Jesus Christ ~ John 14:6}. What part of the journey that you are on, the call that God has put on your life, where are you at with it?

Are you simply sitting back waiting for God to show up and do something or are you eagerly anticipating thoughts and ideas that have been whispered to your heart in a way that is filled with actions and excitement? The beginnings of a new year are always full of resolutions, new promises to ourselves and others, and a sense of renewed hope for the future. But the one common denominator in all of those things, for any of those things to happen in the way God intended, is for us to be active participantsin the adventure! If I want to see God working in my life I have to be in direct communication with Him so that I can recognize those moments when they come.

This reminds me of a conference I went to last year where I met with the main speaker afterwards. She spoke a word over my life and shared an image that God gave her for me. She said, “I see you in a hot air balloon and God is asking you to become completely untethered. Let go of all those things that are keeping you safely on the ground. Trust Him to take you to height that you have never imagined…but God is asking you to cut the ropes.”

That word absolutely excited and terrified me at the same time! As you can well imagine I’m sure. I believe that there are several of those rope tethers that I have cut loose. But even now as I write this blog, God is showing me a picture of that hot air balloon still halfway tethered to the posts on the ground. It is off balance and the fire that is needed to lift the hot air balloon properly off the ground cannot be fully realize because if it is, it will simply burn a hole through the side of the balloon, and I will not be able to take off.

All of the ropes need to be untethered so that I can fully let the Holy Spirit’s fire burst forth in my life. I have to trust that that fire will not burn me…It will only shine a light and bring glory to the Lord as He leads me to the places He intends for me to be. When I sat down to write today, actually I am voice texting all of this into my Notes app on my phone while I drive home from Orange County. Honestly, sometimes the only time I feel that I have to myself, even though I am now an empty nester, is when I am driving in my car somewhere. Especially in Southern California there is a lot of traffic to sit through so it works out pretty good.

That aside, when I was beginning to say is that I had no intention of going so deep but this is what happens when I let go of my intentions, my agenda, my expectations, and let Jesus truly take control.

Psalm 130:5 “I wait [patiently] for the Lord, my soul [expectantly] waits, And in His word do I hope.”

My goal and prayer is that these words will cause a fresh wave of God’s peace to wash over you. Maybe that wave needs to knock you over like it does for me today, but He will not let you be overwhelmed. Have you ever done one of the “trust falls” ~ that’s what it’s like trusting the Lord a lot of time…lean back and trust that He will catch you when you lean back and/or pick you up when you fall.

My prayer is that you hear God’s voice in your own life, right now, telling you what your next step needs to be, what rope you need to cut and become unattached from. And of course, the verses that I am sharing with you today, I pray that you will find rest and solace in the truth of God’s Word. Don’t just take my word for it, go to His Word and dig deeper so that you have the awesome experience to encounter with what the Holy Spirit has been trying to tell you for so long.

Today is that day that you can start again……Where you can embrace the opportunity to patiently yet at the same time eagerly, a wait and see what God has for you!

Blessings,

René

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

Soil and Roots…

On a recent visit with my in-laws, my mother-in-law was pointing out the great job that her gardener had done on the new landscaping and sprinkler system.  But we noticed that the parkway planter area that held a large beautiful tree, was quite dry.  She told us her gardener assured her, “Even though the soil doesn’t seem like it’s being watered enough from the top, the roots were getting plenty of water from the surrounding soil UNDER the ground.”  He told her what to look out for with the tree to make sure it was growing and not suffering from lack of watering.

I have not been able to get that story out of my head for weeks now.  And here I sit at a new coffee shop and I realize that the mural on the wall in front of me…it’s a painting of roots!  Okay, Lord, I get it!  I’m digging in!!

Jeremiah 17:8 say, “He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.”

This is exactly the verse that came to mind when my mother-in-law was telling us about her tree.

I would not say I have a green thumb…nor a black thumb…just hands that are really good at purchasing new plants when the old ones die.  Why do you think they sell plants at the grocery store?!  But I have managed to keep quite of few philodendrons alive (and mostly well) in my kitchen and living room.  Indulge me a bit while I share my “gardening” observations.

I have six plants in my kitchen and four plants in my living room.

The 6 plants in my kitchen are fabulous!

One of them I received from a friend who was moving out of state and couldn’t take it with her…my “Jenn plant” has managed to stay alive and green for the 5 years since her family moved. I think it thrives because I notice it more and water it more often…it reminds me of my friend and I pray for her and her family every time I see it.

The larger plant on a stand by the window is the one that thrives the most. I believe because it’s closest to the sunlight, it grows the best. It has the benefit of weekly watering and is daily bathed with the rays from the sun. There are two other plants on the little kitchen sink window ledge that live well with partial sun as well.

Now, the two to the left of my kitchen window, that’s another story. They are in smaller pots, which means that there is not a lot of space for their roots to spread out. But the pots are just so cute…and the shelf they sit on doesn’t really have space for a larger vessel. They are little out of my line of sight, so I know I wait too long to water them. They look quite wilted and give me little hope that they will “spring back to life” just because I water them  But every single time I take them down and give them a good watering, a few hours later I look up at them and they’ve been revived!  It’s amazing what a little water can do!

Well, then there’s the plants in the living room.  We don’t really get any sunlight in there, at least where I have the plants. Those pots are regularly the ones I have to repurchase new plants from the store. They start out full and lovely and after time, I’m watering pots of dirt with one stalk of three or four sad leaves on it. And they don’t perk up at all after the watering.

So what kind of plant are you?

Do you put yourself in a place where you are being watered and cared for?  Do you soak in the sunlight when it’s available?

Do you slowly lose your stamina until there’s almost nothing left?

Or are you the tree planted with deep roots?

When we make the decision to stand firm in our relationship with the Lord, and let Him water the roots of our life in Him, we can withstand ANY kind of storm or drought. Even when the topsoil of our life is dry and dusty, we can still grow and bear fruit of who God is in our life. We need not fear anything because we know Who we are rooted in.

Taking time each day to be rooted in God’s Word ~ that is the only way to remain standing and not sway or break with the ever-changing moments life will bring.

Think of a palm tree. I’ve lived in Florida – palm trees galore. I’ve witnessed the strength and remarkable flexibility of these trees during storms. Being born and raised in Southern California, what is more iconic than the palm tree lined streets of the city suburbs and beaches? Here, the greatest characteristic of these trees is that depending on where they are planted, they are either straight and tall, or they seem crazily slanted…but both features are simply because they desire to be in the full gaze of the sun’s light.

Palm trees are amazing to me when you see them bending like crazy-straws during a hurricane but when the storm is over, it regains its composure.  How?  They have an incredibly fibrous root system that goes down into the ground very very deep.  The palm has roots that keep growing, that continue to gain nutrients to sustain their life, and a leaf system that overlaps the branches all coming from one common trunk.

I mean, I am so excited just thinking about the similarities here between my life as a Christian and how God made palm trees.  I mean, besides how cool they are, what a life lesson they are to us ~ and I know that God does not do anything haphazardly.

Do we remain steadfast and let our roots go deep with God? Do we yearn so earnestly to be in the light of the Son, that we may look a little like a “bendy-straw” to those looking at our life? Do we look like we’re going to simply break in half during the storm of life? Do we regain our strength and stand tall when the storm is over? Do we continue to bear fruit in the midst of a drought?

I know these plants.

Sometimes I contently sit in my “little pot” waiting to be watered but slowly dying inside because I don’t go where the sunlight will strengthen me. But I want more of those times when I’m seen, watered, and cared for by Gardener. Unlike a plant in a pot, I have to be an active participant in the watering!

I know this tree.

More and more I am the palm tree. I know the value of sticking close to God’s Word and burrowing deep so that the roots of my heart and soul are planted securely within the truths of the life He has intended for me to live.

I am this tree.

I’ve been the tree in the desert, the tree with the dry topsoil, the tree that still survives because the roots are deep. It doesn’t mean I have it all figured out. I don’t have the market cornered on staying strong in the midst of the storm. I just know that trusting in the One who refreshed me with water from the spring of everlasting Life in Him.

So even when I look a bit slanted, or a bit like a crazy bendy-straw, just know that I’m in the process of reaching out to be as close to the Son as I possibly can! Come join me!

Blessings,

René

Jeremiah 17 verse 8

 

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

Celebrations and Preparations…

I absolutely LOVE to have parties & get-togethers!! To the point it drives my sweet husband a bit crazy. 

I mean, what better way to get your house clean than to prep for a party! Right? In our almost 27 years of marriage, we have moved 14 times…yep…fourteen! And every single time, we’ve hosted family & friends for a birthday party or holiday celebration within a month of our move in date. My family indulges me, even in the midst of my crazy, to help get the house in order.

Boxes are unpacked, items put away, pictures are hung on the walls, and drawers are filled. And okay, whatever I don’t know what to do with in the moment, stays in the box and goes into the garage! Come on…you’ve got a few (or 20!) of those boxes in your garage too!! 

But inevitably, “crazy-town mom” would rear her ugly head & the beautiful event we were preparing for would be scarred with one of my freak outs. It’s hard sometimes to look at photos of various events from past because they are marred (in my mind at least) by my unrealistic expectations that I poured out on my family like boiling tar over the walls of a castle onto the enemy. It still makes me cringe, and I once again have to give those guilt feelings to the Lord and ask Him to touch my heart & mind with His grace…and grace for my family too.

Over the years, the intensity of planning parties has lessened for me because the true value of these times of celebration is about the people. It’s not about the platters & bowls matching perfectly on an expertly laid out serving table.  And thank the Lord, I stay away from Pinterest…no judgement for you if you have all kinds of things ‘pinned on you party boards’…I just know that for me, it would be more of a burden than a joy.

But I LOVE to celebrate….like, EVERYTHING!  I have boxes in the garage for every holiday…Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Easter, Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Fall, Thanksgiving, and of course Christmas (those take up the most space).  And yes….there is a difference between “Fall” and “Thanksgiving” decorations!!

I’ve been known to put in silly  notes to my kids lunches all the way through high school!  I love to arrange tea parties and coffee dates with friends, just because. Surprising a special teacher at school with treats or their favorite Starbucks drink. Baking cookies during the holidays and throwing old-fashioned “cookie exchange” parties.

I simply LOVE to CELEBRATE!  After all these years, I’m finally getting better at the “pre-celebrations” part!

Several years ago, September 9, 2013 to be exact, my husband’s first book was released!  It was so exciting!  He had worked on it for over two year in-between his day job and keeping up with all of our family adventures.  So of course, I wanted to throw him a party to show him how proud we all were of him.  We wanted to celebrate his accomplishments!

He wanted to go out to dinner with just our family.

So of course, I organized a surprise party for him with our friends and family!  Appetizers for the guests to enjoy until we got back home and yummy desserts to enjoy after we arrived.

I had the task of making sure he didn’t go out to our “garage fridge” so he wouldn’t see all the goodies. Then, I had to figure out how to get him out of the house. The errand I created wasn’t one where we would get dressed up, and I thought, “What does it matter? We’re celebrating his achievements, not our wardrobe!”  I had our three girls ready to spring into action to set up food & decorations after we left. I remember how surprised they were when I told them, “Y’all know where all the serving platters are, you know what food we’re serving, have fun with it, get creative & use whatever you want.”

They just stared at me like I’d spoken in a foreign language. Finally one of them spoke up and said, “Anything? Are you sure? I mean, usually you want things in a specific way.”  And they were right…they’d seen “crazy-town mom” one too many times. I assured them that I would be happy with whatever they did & wanted them to use their creativity. The best part…I meant it…and they believed me.

Oh, and my sweet husband was completely surprised & loved the party. No stress. No craziness. Just celebration!

But what really has spurred my recollection of that party was the “party weekend extravaganza” we recently enjoyed. 

Yes…ENJOYED…every minute of it!!

I enjoyed it thoroughly because I let go of my unrealistic expectations & control. I remained completely present at every event. Not allowing myself to jump to the next one. Each celebration was unique unto itself & could not be repeated.  The help that was offered, was gladly received.  The friends who helped set up and clean up were immensely appreciated. Dirty dishes in the sink for days…didn’t matter because that’s what a dishwasher was for and there was plenty of time later for that.  The people were the important parts of each celebration to focus on.

Within three days, these were the fabulous memory-making parties our family was involved with:

Friday night – High School Baccalaureate for our youngest daughter, followed by a family dinner, and a 10pm showing of “Wonder Woman.” ~ which was amazing!!

Saturday morning/afternoon – High School Graduation (our last daughter graduated..so this was really “it” for high school!), followed by her party.

Saturday evening ~ drove an hour-ish to my nieces “California Baby Shower”…she is such a cute pregnant momma!  So wild that I’ve known her since she was 3 months old and now she’s married and about to become a Mom!

Sunday morning ~ Family Wedding Shower for our oldest daughter.  What a joy to meet with all of her fiancé’s side of the family.  And seriously….my first baby is getting married!  WOW!!!  This shower was lovingly given by his side of the family,  and it was truly a blessing to simply “showing up” and celebrating my girl and seeing how loved she was by her new soon-to-be family.

Sunday afternoon ~ Visit with my father-in-law for his 94th Birthday.  It was worth the hour long drive to see him for a quick bit and tell him how much we love him.  He is not a great health right now, so it was important we go and see him instead of just calling.

Sunday evening ~ Visit with my parents, brother and sister-in-law to celebrate and early Father’s Day (another hour-ish drive).  Our middle daughter was in town for the graduation and Tony and I would be out of the country on the actual day.  Since this was the busiest day, we decided that we would have dessert and coffee instead of a full meal.

Then….back home! Exhausted but happy!

Each of these events were special and worth celebrating fully!  We made it to each one on time (um…yeah….first time to get to graduation ceremony and did NOT have to take the satellite parking shuttle service back to the venue thank you very much!) and I allowed myself to have fun at each one.  Because I was not thinking of the next one!

It was a whirlwind weekend for sure, but absolutely none of the photos that were taken have even a hint of “crazy town mom.”  I love that!

I’m thankful that the Lord is helping me to grow in this area because He created me with a love for celebrating my people!  What I do with that gift is either honoring to Him or honoring myself.  We all know which attitude is better to have.

When I’ve tried to prepare for a party with the intention of impressing those in attendance, it has rarely gone how I expected it to go and end up regretting choices, being ashamed of a negative attitude I allowed to take hold of me, or worse yet, making my family feel like they cannot do anything well enough or good enough simply because it’s not how I would have done it.

I believe God will bring back this “Celebration Weekend” to my mind whenever I start giving “crazy town mom” the keys to the party bus!

God wants us to celebrate…it’s in our nature because it is in HIS nature to celebrate!  The Bible is full of celebrations and feasts, and not one of them was to glorify the host or the party planner.  They were to honor Him….for His goodness, His mercy and grace, His protection, and His joy and love that He has for us.

In no way have I reached perfection in the party planning adventures…but I’m getting much better. I’ve become an expert of the “quick clean” ~ which is nothing to really be proud of…just being honest here…seriously though, don’t open my bedroom door!

But when people leave my home, I want them to go away from the house with a smile on their face, a lightness in their heart, and a feeling of being refreshed because they had been celebrated…they had been warmly embraced and made to feel welcome.

Don’t be afraid of the celebration…of the party planning…of the organization of it all.  Once you have the idea of a party, give it back to the Lord and He will guide you in the steps of the preparations. He really does care about you and how you want to celebrate the people in your life.

So go plan that party!  It’ll be fun!!

Blessings,

Rene’

Celebrations blog