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It only takes 15 minutes…..

When you think about it, there are so many things in our life that we don’t want to do, yet really only take about 15 minutes to accomplish.

Unloading and reloading the dishwasher, reading one more story to your child, collecting all the trash around the house and taking it outside the night before trash day, writing a handwritten note to a friend, praying for your family, doing a job search online…

So many things only takes 15 minutes.

Most days, we act like the thing in front of us is some huge mountain that will take away more of our time and energy than in reality of what it will actually take.

It’s so nice to wake up in the morning to an empty kitchen sink.

It’s a precious thing to sit with our kids for one more story or just watching them follow sleep, because those days don’t last forever. In all honesty, I totally tried to skip pages while I read those stories!

I can still remember that time period, being so exhausted and didn’t feel like I could be needed by one more person for one more thing, and all I wanted to do was to get my children settled in their bed and asleep so that I could, do what? Really important things like veg out on the couch with a bowl of ice cream! I would give all that ice cream, all those TV shows, and all of “my“ time back, to be more patients with my kids.

Especially at bedtime.

That is the time of day that would be the time my kids would open up the most about what was going on in their life. Usually, when they had been having an extremely rough attitude day, it would all spill out after we would finish prayers, about how they had had their feelings hurt by a friend for found out they didn’t do it well on the test or an essay they thought they did. I would finally connect the dots and realize why they had been having a difficult afternoon. It didn’t really have anything to do with it them wanting to be rude or disobedient to me, they were trying to figure out how to deal with their emotions.

For goodness sake, we are the adults don’t handle our emotions properly some of the time.

But we expect our young children and teenagers to handle every emotional so perfectly. When I’d slow down, I could take myself and my own emotions out of the equation and ask questions of my kids then we could more easily and much quicker, and get to the bottom of why they were there acting up.

If we want our children to be able to know how to deal appropriately with their emotions, then we have to do the hard work while they are living in our home. We cannot leave it up to teachers at school or church, or the latest podcast, or self-help book.

Teaching our kids to deal with their emotions is as important as how we teach them to use the toilet, brush their teeth, and put their dirty clothes where they belong. They will not “get it right“ on the first try or the second or the 10th time. But if we do not give up on teaching our kids how to have healthy habits at home, we need to be that much more vigilant in sticking with teaching them how to do the hard things of life.

We are created in God’s image and we know through scripture that the Lord has all of the emotions and all of the feelings, but He knows how to deal with ALL of them. We have this opportunity to live a life full of emotion, securely gleaning from God’s Word how to live our best life in the midst of all of those areas of emotions. Dealing with our emotions on our own is absolutely exhausting and it’s not how the Lord intended for us to live. We are called into community with each other, and the first community that our children become familiar with is the one within the four walls of our home.

There will be days where everything goes haywire but then you wake up the next day and as Scripture says, His mercies are new every morning {Lamentations 3:23}.

Start your day with prayer, not simply between you and the Lord but with all of your children too. Especially when morning’s are hectic, pray on the way to school. You can designate a certain point in your drive to school where the conversation stop, the radio turns off, and prayer begins. If you have never done this before, you can start by being the one to pray over your children, but as time goes by, what a beautiful safe space to teach your children how to pray out loud for each other as well as for the people in their circle.

Those are the parts of the morning drive to school that I miss the most. The older my daughters grew, the more meaningful and specific their prayers became. It’s a beautifully humbling thing to learn how to love and serve the Lord better by listening to how your kids pray. I still smile at the memory of praying one morning as we were careening into carline to get the girls to class on time, another parent suddenly stopped in the middle of car line to let their child out and I immediately complained and chastised that parent for “doing car line wrong.” In unison, my three girls said, “MOM! Stop it. Weren’t you just praying that God would give you patience today and a heart to see others they way He does.” Bam!  Right between the eyes!  Yikes….they were right!!

The Lord gave me a perfect opportunity to show my girls the power of confession and asking forgiveness…me to them, not the other way around. It was also then that I took a moment to look at the kid who’d jumped out of his mom’s car, head down and clearly frustrated. After I dropped my girls off, I knew God was giving me an assignment to pray for that family. I never knew who it was, and that wasn’t the important thing. What was vital for me was to see that family the way God did ~ people He loved, cared for, and wanted to see reconciliation with.

No matter what happens between those morning prayers and getting into bed for the night, prayer is the key to unlocking peace. In the evening, praying over your children at the end of the day is an amazing way to help prayer be the last things they hear before falling asleep. Sometimes you will feel drawn to going into your child’s room well after they’ve been asleep and pray for them again. God is calling you to battle for your kiddos ~ don’t miss it!!

Remember, it usually does not take very long.  And even if it takes an extra 15 minutes {or more!}, it will be the best spent minutes of your day!

Blessings,

René

It's just 15 minutes

 

 

 

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

My Whole Life is Going to be Busy…

Ironically, I began this post two weeks ago…I should’ve known!  Every day is full of busyness and guess what…every day for the rest of your life will be filled with busyness!  It just cannot be an excuse any longer.  We will always be busy with something ~ even if that “something” is doing nothing.

I know that I make plenty of excuses as to why things don’t get done.  I also realize that there are times when I really need to get things done and accomplish specific tasks, but I can’t do them in a timely manner because I’m still dealing with something that should have been taken care days (or months) beforehand. Time just gets away from me and I’m sure you have experienced this too.

The times I feel the worst about being “too busy” is when I have not scheduled things in my day appropriately and the consequences are usually ones that my family has to pay.  Dinner is not ready at a decent hour.  Dishes are piled high in the sink for the third day in a row.  I’m late picking someone up, or dropping them off.  And the consequence I deal with the most is staying up far too late to finish up a bunch of little tasks that I could have done during the day so that I could go to bed early and stay healthy.

But this blog isn’t about all the “shoulda woulda coulda’s” in our life; and it certainly isn’t intended to bring on guilt.  We all do that to ourselves far too easily anyway!

My hearts desire is to encourage you to take a step back, breathe in deep, and know that through all the busyness of life there are ways to create space.  The Lord has been giving me great ideas on how to do this and I want to share them with you.

Now, if you have little ones and you’re reading this…trust me, I remember those days and sometimes your day (or your week!) just buzzes by in a blur and you realize you’ve been wearing the same clothes for a few days and can’t remember the last time you washed your hair.  But it’s all worth it when you look back and see all that you did for your kiddos.  You being present with them, reading a book or playing a game, just being WITH them is way more important that what you have on or what your hair looks like.  There are still ways to find those “spaces” in your day, so hang in there.  They look completely different than that of someone who doesn’t have little ones at home, and it’s supposed to.

Sometimes that “breathing space” is all in our head…and in a great way!  Romans 8:5-6 (NLT) says, “Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit.  So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace.”  

Simply by filling our mind with the Word of God and allowing the Holy Spirit to guide our thought processes (ie…how we manage our time and daily tasks), then we will have peace.  Notice that this doesn’t say we will have perfection.  It means that we will be able to deal with all the craziness of life in a peaceful way.  It means that when we need to speak into a situation, we can speak life instead of death.  What I mean by this is that we can be encouraging instead of nagging to our children when they need to pick up their toys, or their disaster zone rooms.  We can peacefully find ways to let them know how important it is to pay attention to what you are asking of them instead of knee-jerk reactions of hollering at them to just get it done.

So if we are too fill our minds with scripture to draw from when we need, how are we to accomplish this?  Life is just so busy!

Here’s the best answer ~ our God is an incredibly creative God and He created you perfectly so He has the exact answer for YOU!  Ask Him to give you ideas that will blend in with your family activities and with your particular daily tasks.

Let’s face it though, it’s super easy to find time to scroll through social media or even sit and read a few blogs (thank you by the way!).  I’m right there with ya!

I want to encourage you to find what works for YOU!  One of the greatest benefits you will recieve is that the more time you spend with the Lord, the more time you will WANT to spend with Him.  The more you are filled up, the more you can pour out to others and then run back to the arms of your loving Father who will gladly fill you up again and again and again!

HE WILL NEVER EVER RUN OUT OF WHAT YOU NEED TO BE FILLED!!  EVER!!

Acts 2:25-28 (ESV) remind us what King David penned in the Old Testament, For David says concerning him,“‘I saw the Lord always before me, for he is at my right hand that I may not be shaken; therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced; my flesh also will dwell in hope. For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, or let your Holy One see corruption. You have made known to me the paths of life; you will make me full of gladness with your presence.’”

So…ideas…here’s a few that I will be implementing into my new schedule.  Take a peek and see what might work for you, or how you can tweak it to work in your schedule.

* After dropping off the kiddos at school, make a quick pit stop at a local coffee shop or park with the express intention of reading through your devotional…and NOT to meet up with a girlfriend, at least until after you have had your time with the Lord.

* Put your devotional time in your calendar to make sure you don’t over-schedule your day.

* If you have to sit in car-line (not gonna lie…super glad that part of my day is over!) go EARLY!  Take your Bible, devotional, or whatever study you are going through with you and work on it in the car for a bit without any distractions.

* Wake up earlier ~ I don’t like this one, but I know for me that God is asking me to give Him more of day and for me it means to wake up an hour early.  It’s gonna be a struggle for the first few days, but I’m committed to getting back to this. {As I write this, my last daughter is a Senior in high school and drives herself to school, so my “early” is probably a regular time for y’all}.

* While you are driving in the car instead of listening to the radio, take that time to pray to the Lord ~ share your day with Him…what you are doing, where you are going, how you would like direction for the tasks ahead.  Or listen to some praise music and allow the Holy Spirit to flood your soul with uplifting songs.

* As you sit down to the computer or to watch your favorite DVR’d TV show, ask yourself if you have spent time with the Lord yet.  If you haven’t, take that moment to read some scripture and pray.  And if you don’t know what to pray, pray aloud the scripture you were going to read.  And if you’re really stuck, look at the date on the calendar and find the chapter in Proverbs that has the same number and pray the verses you read.  I promise that even if you physically don’t feel refreshed, the Holy Spirit will refresh and renew your mind.  Scripture NEVER leaves you empty ~ it will always fill you up!

* While you wash dishes, do the laundry, finish up housework ~ you can spend time with the Lord too!  Thank Him that you have a home to care for and a family to fill it up.  And when you’re done, thank Him that you had the energy to accomplish all that you did.

Cheesy or not, there’s just a few to get started with and I bet the Lord is giving you great ideas already how to combat the busyness of life with the calmness of His Word.  I’d love to hear from you to see how God is working in your life to bring you peace and life.

I will always be busy.  You will always be busy.  That busyness will look different in everyone’s life ~ stop comparing yourself to others.  Allowing the Holy Spirit to sway your life in the direction of spending time with the Father will always result in the same thing ~ a life of peace and calm that will help you in your time of need as well as in the moments when you are needed by others.

When you hold the empty cup of your day to be filled with the everlasting joy and strength of the Lord, you will be filled to overflowing…and that’s a promise!

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Blessings,

René

 

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

Seasons change….

Well, it’s officially been the “Fall” season here in SoCal for almost a month.  And do you know what that means? Well, it means something different here than it does in almost every other state in America.  It means our brownish lawns (due to the water shortage) actually look acceptable.  The brownish hue to our mountains seem to be promising that they are just in hibernation and will burst forth with beautiful green come the Spring.  It means that we still hit the 90’s several times a week.  Literally, I’m serious…at this very minute, my weather app tells me it’s a balmy 89 degrees outside, with tomorrow and Friday promising to hit in the low 90’s, then by the weekend it’ll creep down to a chilly 80 degrees on Sunday.  Really people, my heart just did a little happy dance because on Monday & Tuesday next week, it says we’ll have a high of 73 degrees and…wait for it…RAIN!  TWO DAYS of RAIN IN A ROW!!  A change of season…

Okay, okay….I’m calm now.  Honestly, I know that just because it is forecasted to actually be cold (yeah I know…72 isn’t actually cold, just go with me here) and rainy next week, it could change.  I won’t be too surprised, but I’ll be disappointed.  When we think of all the seasons in our own life, we could say the same thing.  The things that we have planned are amazing and exciting.  Then things that are completely out of our control happen, and we are sad, angry, irritated, feeling let down, and may walk around in a fog for a bit wondering if the sun will come out?  Will our season change to a better one?

Even though we are surprised and challenged by the seasons in our life, God never is.

The verses in Psalm 139:15-16 are a perfect and beautiful example of what I mean by this.  Actually, the entire chapter of Psalm 139 is full of promise and faithfulness.  Read these intentional words and let them sink in to your soul…

My frame was not hidden from You when I was being formed in secret [and] intricately and curiously wrought [as if embroidered with various colors] in the depths of the earth [a region of darkness and mystery]. Your eyes saw my unformed substance, and in Your book all the days [of my life] were written before ever they took shape, when as yet there was none of them.” (Amplified Version).

God saw our whole life before we were born; before we began to add to our own story; before everything!  He is absolutely a loving God and His heart breaks when we sin, when we choose to walk a different way than what we know to be right.  He does not rejoice in our suffering.  He does not anticipate with glee any hardship we go through.  He is good…He always has been and He always will be.

There are plenty of times in my own life when I doubted God’s goodness.  When kids in high school spread rumors about me and my friends did not come to my defense.  When the people I thought were my friends actually began believing those lies and never came to talk to me about it.  When the boy I thought wanted to marry me, changed his mind and moved to another state. When plans would not work out like I wanted them to and it meant taking a harder road to accomplish various goals.  When our family hit hard times and had major financial difficulties.  When other kids were horribly mean to my children and appeared to get away with the damage they caused. When my mother, grandmother, mother-in-law, and good friends, all went through cancer (and thankfully beat it!).  When my aunt and other other friends and family members were ravaged by cancer and did not make it through.  So many things happen in our life that we don’t understand.

In all these seasons, God was there.  God knew what was going to happen, how it was going to happen, why it happened, and how it was going to end.

And all of these tough seasons have brought incredible fruit to my life that I wouldn’t have otherwise tasted.  I know the importance of speaking up when lies are being spoken.  I know the indelible imprint you will make in a friends life when you believe their story.  I know the vigilance that is needed to keep our kids safe.  I know the joy and harmony that God brought me in the man that HE intended for me to marry.  I know the humble gratitude of the anonymous grocery store gift card arriving in my mailbox at exactly the right moment.  I know the peace and relief when a friend or family member is healed of a disease.  And I know the mourning of friend and family member, will turn to dancing when I see them again in Heaven.

I’m not going to sugarcoat anything here and tell you that I always handled myself in a spiritually sound way.  Nope!  Many many times I cried to God how unfair life was.  How unfair He was!  After all, if He loves me so much that He sent His Son to die on the cross for me, why in the heck do I have to go through a bunch of garbage in my life?  Why does life seem to be easier for other people than it does for me and our family?

Sadly, many times I reverted to a season of being a whiny little baby.  Instead of going for the meat of God’s Word to fulfill and sustain me, I chose ice cream and candy bars.  And where did that get me?  In a new cycle of self-hate and doubt that I would never matter to anyone or amount to anything.  I vacuumed up all the lies Satan was sprinkling out before me. He was tickled pink by my decisions toward destruction, while my loving Heavenly Father was heartsick that I was not turning to Him.  How selfish I was.

The brightest star that God created is the Sun.  It is one singular orb that illuminates the entire world.  Not all at once, not all with the same intensity, but with distinct purpose, direction, and intention.  If we had sunlight all the time we would suffer from heat exhaustion, burns, and drought…just to name a few.  We would not know the joy of a cool evening breeze on our face, or the intense radiant beauty of a sky filled with stars on a cloudless night.

Think about your favorite season?  I personally love it when it stays between 65-75.  I am not a heat-loving person.  But if I never experienced heat, I wouldn’t know the complete bliss of wrapping up in a warm blanket with a cup of tea on a chilly night in winter. (Yeah…it happens a few times a year!).

Even when we are encountering a stressful season, where things seem bleak and spiritually torturous…God can and will bring the rain, the cool breeze, the warm blanket.  It is possible to have peace within the storm.  I’ve lived through enough storms of every level, that I undoubtedly know this is true.  When I am faced with tough seasons now, I am much quicker to run to the Father.  To read His love letter of scripture, to pray and allow the Holy Spirit to pour out the oil of gladness over my soul, to fix my eyes and gaze on His holiness ~ that is the beginning of living peaceful in the midst of the storm.

Every part of the earthly creation comes to play with our spiritual story.  God created the world very specifically with incredibly detailed functions.  He created light and dark, day and night, man and woman, and seasons.  We are created with the same distinction and purpose.  We are meant to grow and change, to rejoice in the knowledge of who God is and how we are to honor and glorify Him with our life.

Reading through a bible study on Ecclesiastes is a wonderful reminder of just that.  Christian or not, most everyone is familiar with the beginning words from Ecclesiastes chapter 3, “To everything there is a season, and a time for every matter or purpose under heaven:” ~ not just some moments in time, but in every single moment.  In some ways going through this study, I feel like I’m reading Ecclesiastes for the first time and I’m loving it!  It is proof once more that the scripture God fashioned into the Bible we have known for centuries now, is just like He is…the same today, yesterday and forever.  Take a moment to read through the book of Ecclesiastes and see what I mean!

I believe the main purpose for the changing seasons of our life is to constantly bring us back to the knowledge that God alone is the sustainer of our life and the ONLY ONE who can fill the gaps and emptiness we experience.  Ecclesiastes 3:11 says, “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He also has planted eternity in men’s hearts and minds [a divinely implanted sense of a purpose working through the ages which nothing under the sun but God alone can satisfy], yet so that men cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.”

God alone satisfies our every desire, wish, want, and need.  He is the director and perfecter of the seasons in our life.  Allow Him to till the soil of your heart, to plant the goodness of His Word, and to harvest the completion of that work that He started in you before you were born.

Live blessed and live loved, in every season, by the God who created the Universe.  He took His time with you ~ now take your time with Him.

Blessings,

René

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{all scripture verses are taken from the Amplified Bible Version}

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

Church is not the Feast…

What words come to mind at the mention of “Feast”? Choice foods…Best quality…delectable treats…luscious desserts…more than enough…fully satisfied…special occasion…invitation only…

It’s quite the ‘christianese’ phrase, and we hear it all the time…”I go to church to be fed.”  But is that really the place we are supposed to be fed?  Is this the location we go to feast?

I’ve recently been contemplating this idea of what is the true purpose of gathering together on a Sunday morning (or Saturday night…you know what I mean)?  Are we to be gathering together on one particular day because that is the only time we are being fed?  A few weeks ago, I heard an interesting statement and I have not been able to get it out of my head.

“Church is the menu.  Church can be an appetizer.  But, Church is not the Feast.”

There are over 1500 mentions of the word ‘feast’ (or phrases that indicate a feast) in the Bible.  Most of these references are talking about all of the amazing Feasts that God set in place in the Old Testament.  These were specific opportunities for the Israelite’s to stop what they were doing in their every day life and create space to worship and honor the Almighty God.

There are seven annual sacred Feasts of the Old Testament, commonly referred to as the “Feasts of Remembrance.”  These 7 Feasts are: Passover (Signified the Redemption of Israel); Feast of Unleavened Bread (Signified the Sanctification of the Israel); Feast of the Firstfruits (Signified Resurrection of Israel as a free people); Feast of Weeks (Pentecost: Signified the Origination of Israel as the Covenant people Of Yahweh); Feast of Trumpets (Signified the calling Israel to judgment); Feast of Atonement (Signified the Atonement of the Covenant people); and the Feast of the Tabernacles (Signified God’s presence with His Covenant people; looked forward to the coming of the Messiah).*

All of these feasts were filled with celebration (AND lots of eating) of what God had done for the people. How He had freed them from Egyptian slavery, how He had given them a new land, how He saved the people from the Angel of Death, and simply how He had provided for them year after year, generation after generation.  But they were also filled with times of offering sacrifices to God through the Priests.  This is, of course, a very very brief overview on the Feasts of the Old Testament.  But my point is this ~ these feasts were special times set aside to do one thing and one thing only…to worship and honor God.  This is the same kind of attitude I believe we need to have today, and I don’t think it only happens on Sunday.

The word feast can be a noun or a verb.  As a noun, we see that it means: “any rich or sumptuous meal; something highly agreeable; a periodical celebration or time of celebration.” As a verb, it means: “to have or partake of a feast; to east sumptuously; to dwell with gratification or delight.”  I love that last part of the definition!

To feast with the Lord is to dwell in the presence of your Host with a grateful attitude, delighting to be at the table and enjoying the richness of the sumptuous bounty He has to offer us! (R.A.B.)

I’m not saying here that you cannot be fed by the Word while you are at church.  This is what the speaker that I referenced earlier meant as well.  We need to go church and worship with the community of believers for several reasons.  First and foremost, God calls us to be together.

Hebrews 10:24-25 teaches us how important this is. “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”

It is incredibly vital to the life of every Christian to be in fellowship with other people who worship the Lord.  Most often this happens when we attend church services together.  Collectively praising God in song with a congregation is a visceral experience.  Being in the presence of like-minded people whose goal is to honor the Lord joyfully in song is a beautiful thing.  Guess what though?  The singing part of the church service isn’t the only “worship” part of church.  The ENTIRE service is WORSHIP!

A friend of mine recently had a funny experience, well, maybe odd is a better description.  She was about to go into the church service which was already in progress.  The singing portion was in full swing.  There was a woman already in the foyer area and said to her, “Oh, I’m not going in yet.  I’m waiting until all the worship singing is done.  There is so much of it.” (I’m paraphrasing here…but that was the gist.)  My friend looked at her in disbelief for several reasons: 1) her husband is the worship Pastor, 2) this woman’s husband played with the worship team band, and 3) this woman is involved with the choir ministry!  So my friend smiled at her and before going into the sanctuary said, “Well, the whole service is a worship service!”  She said that the woman looked horrified.

I share this story because it is a perfect example of the “menu/appetizer” mentality of so many church-goers.  They pick and choose what parts they want to be a part of.

They want to sing, but only if it’s from the traditional hymnal.

They won’t sit in worship to sing unless they are singing contemporary songs that you can hear on the radio.

If the ‘wrong’ songs are played, or if the message preached that morning doesn’t agree with them, they feel justified in withholding their tithe check that week. {Sadly, I know this one first hand as I worked as the Admin to a previous pastor and read some of the most disheartening letters to the pastor after a “failed” sunday morning.}

Not to focus on the negative…here’s some thoughts on the positive side of the church being the ‘menu’ or ‘appetizer’ ~ through the worship songs and the sermon that is delivered to the congregation, we are given delightful morsels from the Word of God.  We are given a taste of the goodness and greatness of our God.  We are able to sample a portion of what the Lord has to offer us in His Word.

Your church pastor has been given an amazing job, in that the Lord has given them the ability and opportunity to share with others all the wealth of the Feast that IS God’s Word. The pastor is not supposed to be the only person you learn from.  The church is not supposed to be the only location from which you learn in.  The pastor and the church experience each week are supposed to be the jumping off point…the place of fellowship where we can be recharged in order to go out through the rest of the week, encouraged to delight in personal time with the Lord and His Scripture.

This is where the Feasting comes in...

Personal times of worship in prayer and in song to the Lord are just as vital (if not more so!) ~ this is why I feel this is the real feast!  When we are in a quiet place, spending time in His Word and in prayer, we are allowing the Holy Spirit to lavish spiritual nourishment to our soul.  When we spend time with the Lord, we are making a statement…that we want to be more in tune with the Lord and all He has for us.  Sometimes those prayer experiences have us saying nothing at all but declaring the holy Name of Jesus.  More often than not, when I have prayed a verse or passage out loud, or sang a Psalm to Him, or just sat quietly asking the Lord to speak to my heart ~ those are the times that I have felt the closest to Him.  Of course He wants to hear from us:  what our hearts are desirous of, what we are hurting from, who or what we are having a difficult time with. But if we are always the one talking…we are unable to listen to what God is wanting to whisper to our heart.

This my friends is the Feast.

To be made aware of the voice of God and how He speaks into our lives.

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All those feasts that the Israelite’s of the Old Testament were called to observe were due in part to the fact that the Savior had not come to earth yet.  There was a strict process in the preparation and the enjoyment of each Feast and why/when they were observed.  But with the coming of Jesus Christ in the New Testament, we were given in Him the true Feast.  He is the Word in flesh. (John 1:14)  He is the reason we celebrate our salvation. Through Him we gain the abundant knowledge we need in order to walk through this life.  We are given the Fruit of the Holy Spirit with which to feast on.  But this can only happen when we spend time with Him and in scripture.  And the best part…we can come to Him every moment of every day!  We don’t have to wait for a special decree to enter the throne room of God and worship at His feet! What a beautiful gift and privilege!  E.V.E.R.Y.D.A.Y!!!

The time of feasting in the presence of the Lord is not meant to only happen a few times a year.  It is not even meant to simply happen on Sunday mornings. It is not something on our schedule to check off.

Feasting is to be a daily experience.  All throughout the day we are to be feasting in His presence.  To be so close to the Lord of Hosts, that we can smell the aroma of His love.  To be so close that we can feel the brush of His hands on ours, as He directs our path. To be so close that we can recognize His voice as He calls us to dwell with Him.

Come to Him and enjoy the Feast!

Blessings,

René

 

* http://www.agapebiblestudy.com/charts

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

Honest “No” vs. Dishonest “Yes”

YES ~ to give an affirmative reply to; give assent or approval to.

NOto reject, refuse approval, or express disapproval of.

Has this ever happened to you…the phone rings (or you get a text notification) and before you even answer the call, you knew it was someone calling to make a request. May be a request of your time, your talents, or even a monetary request. And as you use your most congenial voice, saying “Hello”, you know that your calendar is so full that you cannot possibly say yes to the event that you are being requested to help with. Or possibly you have reached the end of your budgeted “extra” money?  All of these thoughts swirl around in your brain like a blender on high speed, and a feeling of panic overtakes you.

“What will they think if I say, no?”

You know that you have the ability to help out at the school fair or to babysit a friends little one; or you finally get the call from a mom inviting you to a luncheon that you’ve always wanted to be invited to!  But…you already have a commitment that day during the same exact time. All of those things can go rushing through your mind in the span of seconds. What do you end up doing?

You say yes to that committee, you say yes to that school event, you say yes to the church event, etc. All the while knowing that by saying yes to those things, there will be other parts of your life that will suffer because you are adding too much to your calendar. Or as they say, you’re adding too much to your plate.

That last phrase made me think how about 10 years ago we decided to stop eating on our dinner size plates and changeover to the luncheon size plate. It was a physical and visual help to our whole family as we restructured what our eating habits needed to look like. It works!  You cannot put as much food on a smaller plate. (Yep…that’s my college class of “physics for poets” paying off big time there!).

But then there are those days where you attend a function and they have the bountiful buffet table spread before you. Sometimes, well most of the time, you get back to your table and you set down your plate and you exclaim, “Oh my goodness! How did I get this much food on my plate! It all just looks so good and I knew it would all taste so wonderful, I just couldn’t decide and so I just took a little bit of everything.”

I don’t know about you, but after experiences like that, and after finishing a plate that is too full, I feel horrible for the next several days. My body cries out to me, “Why in the world did you do that to me!” My friends, this is exactly what our mind and our hearts cry out to us when we have put too many things on our calendar…making our plate too full. The time with our spouse is diminished. The time spent playing with our children doesn’t happen because we have to spend time preparing for that extra event.  Time away from home causes missed opportunities elsewhere.

Now don’t get me wrong…I’m all about being involved in my community; be it my family, our church, our neighborhood, or my kids’ schools. It’s very important to be involved and get to know how we can best serve those communities with the gifts and talents that God has given me.  I’m talking about balance here and how to achieve it.

Matthew 5:37, “But let your word ‘yes’ be ‘yes,’ and your ‘no’ be ‘no.’ Anything more than this is from the evil one.” 
2 Corinthians 1:17, “So when I planned this, was I irresponsible? Or what I plan, do I plan in a purely human way so that I say “Yes, yes” and “No, no” simultaneously?”
James 5:12, [ Truthful Speech ] “Now above all, my brothers, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath. Your “yes” must be “yes,” and your “no” must be “no,” so that you won’t fall under judgment.”

These three verses are just a sampling of how God’s Word encourages and admonishes us to be careful with our speech and the actions that follow.  We are created in God’s image, and as such, we are a reflection of Him.  God keeps His word and never makes a mistake in His answers.  We are called to those same standards as followers of Christ.

I used to get so conflicted about deciding what events to be available for and what not to. I would fall into the trap of wanting to be liked and accepted by the other moms at school, so out of fear of being left out, I would say yes to things that I knew I truly did not have the time or resources to participate in. But isn’t that what we do? We volunteer, and then we volunteer some more, and then we volunteer some more. To what end? We get home at the end of the day and we don’t have anything left emotionally or mentally to give our family. We work so hard at times to gain the approval of others that we don’t realize we are showing our family that they come second. Why do we do this? Why do I not remember that my identity is in Christ and He has the best plan for me…better than I can even imagine for myself.

One way to start changing what your plate looks like, is simply….to think!  Instead of jumping at the opportunity and saying yes right away, give an honest answer that might sounds like, “You know what…that sounds really exciting, but I cannot give you a firm answer right now. Let me go home, look at my calendar and talk with my family and I will get back to you as soon as I know if this will work in our schedule.” My friends, that little moment right there will save you a world of anxiety and frustration!  You may find that you can say yes…and Honest Yes…and it will be a joyful activity to be involved with.

If you have to come back to that person with an Honest No…you are doing two things: 1) You are honoring the Lord with your time and blessing your family with your sanity; and 2) You are making room for someone else to have the blessing of saying yes.  Yes…someone else is out there waiting to be asked.   God may have someone else in mind for that event or activity.  Be patient and trust that God will have you in the right place for a time intended for you to be a part of!  There is no “FOMO” with God ~ you know…”fear of missing out.”  God isn’t on pinterest, facebook, instagram, or twitter. Those outlets aren’t bad in and of themselves, but the credence we can give them in our life may at times be out of order.

An honest no is ALWAYS better than a dishonest yes.  Take a breath.  Pause.  Think.  Wait.  Then answer truthfully and thoughtfully.  Honor the Lord in all that you say and in all that you do.

Blessings,

René

James 5 verse 12

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

God’s clock isn’t broken…

Why can it be so difficult at various seasons of our life to worry about how and when things will happen that we are anxiously waiting for?  Time is one of the most elusive elements of our earthly life.  It can be liberating but it can also seem completely suffocating.  It all depends on the situation at hand.

Doesn’t it seem that we LIVE by the clock?  Cramming all that we can (and sometimes not doing anything) into those 24 hours we have each day.  We walk around with our “to do list” on our phone, or a piece of paper, and cross of our tasks as they’ve been completed.  I will tell you honestly, if I do something that wasn’t on my to-do list to begin with, you betcha that I add it onto the list just so I can cross it off!  What is it that is so satisfying to cross off jobs from our to do list?  The feeling of accomplishment?  The feeling that we are contributing to our family, our community, our world?  The answer is a big huge YES to all of those things.  But finishing our to-do list is not to be the main focus of our days.

God created time….Genesis 1:5, “God called the light “day,” and He called the darkness “night.” Evening came and then morning: the first day.” And in verse 14 of the same chapter, “Then God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night. They will serve as signs for festivals and for days and years.”

{Remember…every good thing that God created, it’s Satan’s number one goal to ruin it…be careful with your time.}

God’s clock isn’t broken….how do I know this?  Because He doesn’t even have one!  And because I believe that Scripture is true & perfect when we read how God created time, for what purpose it has, and for what it does not mean to Him.

Even the dictionary.com definition of time, agrees with this idea: “duration regarded as belonging to the present life as distinct from the life to come or from eternity;finite duration.”

Scripture has a more powerful definition though (of course!).  Many of you probably know the verses in the first part of Ecclesiastes 3 that all begin with “there is a time for…..” ~ however, how many times do we continue reading in chapter three?  The passage below is so beautifully written as to God’s usage of time within humanity.  Time was not created for Him…time was created for us!

Ecclesiastes 3:9-15, What does the worker gain from his struggles? I have seen the task that God has given people to keep them occupied. He has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also put eternity in their hearts,  but man cannot discover the work God has done from beginning to end.  I know that there is nothing better for them than to rejoice and enjoy the good life.  It is also the gift of God whenever anyone eats, drinks, and enjoys all his efforts.  I know that all God does will last forever; there is no adding to it or taking from it. God works so that people will be in awe of Him.  Whatever is, has already been, and whatever will be, already is. God repeats what has passed.

If you have to stop and go back and read those verses again…please do so and let them soak in.  There is no point in history, in our own past, and in our future, that God hasn’t already been a part of. In our struggles and in our triumphs, God has been there.  When we have felt that God wasn’t there, we have to take a good hard look at our own attitude and will realize that it wasn’t God who was far from us but that we were far from Him.

I recently saw a post on facebook that said, “No matter how many steps away from God we have taken, it only takes one step to turn back to Him.”  I know, it’s kinda one of those cheesy, dare I say “christianese” type of statement…but it’s true!  I’m not encouraging you to run away with abandon knowing that God will be there when are done running.  That is not the point.  What I’m trying to convey is that at times we make life harder than it needs to be, and we make our walk with the Lord harder than it needs to be.  Christ came to live, die, and rise again, to bridge that deep chasm our sin creates and to reconcile us back to Him.  He gave the ultimate price so save us.  He is constantly ready and waiting to welcome us back into fellowship Him.

The Lord has given us the intellect to plan ahead and a heart to feel deeply and enjoy those plans.  But we have to remember to surrender those plans to Him, to let Him mold and shape those plans into something even better than what we can imagine.  God wants us to enjoy our life…but to enjoy our life with Him first and the rest will fall into place.

You may be getting ready for a new challenge in your life ~ whatever that is, God is already there in it.  No matter the difficulty that is coming, or the sheer excitement of what is coming ~ God is already there.  He is not beholden to the concept of time.  It is a wild thought, but right now while you are reading this, God is with you.  And at the same time, He is in your tomorrow, your next week, and your next year.  And He never changesHebrews 13:8 says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.”

Many years ago, my husband & I started a business with two other families from church.  Those 8 years were some of the most difficult, most challenging, and most joyful that we’ve ever had.  We learned how to truly trust the Lord with all aspects of our life.  Especially financially.  My faith was stretched to points where I thought I would break apart.  But instead of breaking, the Lord would show me how He had grown my faith to a new place.  I also had a wonderful revelation in the fact that there is no “last minute” with God.  When we had no idea where the money would come from to pay our mortgage and put food on the table, God would always provide (and always in miraculous ways!!) and I found myself saying, “Whew!  God came through just in the last minute!”  But that wasn’t true.

God came through in what I felt was MY last minute.  God came through in HIS perfect timing.  Like we read in the above verses in Ecclesiastes 3, “God works so that people will be in awe of Him.”  And every time, I was absolutely in awe of Him.  

Take every day as a gift of time and make each moment count as you serve the Lord in all the things that you do.  Every action, every conversation, every thought ~ let it be a reflection of your relationship with Him.  And yes…even a nap can be honoring to the Lord!  While living on this earth, Jesus experienced exhaustion and would take time out to rest.  If your a “list” person, make that to-do list but before you start crossing tasks off, pray over your list and give it back to the Lord.  Ask Him to show you what the most important things are for that day.  And if you have little ones and they interrupt you during one of those tasks…stop what you’re doing.  Hug them, see what they have been drawing, watch them do a somersault.  Your tasks will still be there….those toddler years will zip by, so enjoy them now!

Blessings,

René

Ecclesiastes 3 verse 14

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

Do you have enough Steam?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~ Concentration ~ Direction ~ Commitment ~ Time  ~

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

Happy New Year!!

Blessings,

René