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…And at the Right Time…

For most things we get in life, they are preceded by a time of waiting. It can be as simple as waiting for a tray of chocolate cookies to bake to gooey perfection, or as difficult as waiting for a health diagnosis to come in. And so many experiences in between.

I remember when we were getting ready to have our first child, we immediately were trying to figure out when the baby would be born. We were off a little bit according to the doctor, but we had our due date! I was beyond excited ~ not to be pregnant all summer long, but that faded in the dreams of that little one arriving. At our check-up the following month, I was devastated to find out the due date had changed. I was now told I’d not be delivering for another ten days. I cried all the way home, which completely baffled my husband.

He lovingly reminded me that just as God had allowed me to become pregnant, He also knew the exact day and time of her birth. It wasn’t in my control. It was all in His perfect timing! Thankfully I listened and changed my attitude…because that baby girl arrived TEN days after my due date! And it was of course, in the Lord’s perfect timing.

It’s so great to know that we can learn from the best when it comes to waiting for the right time!

1 Timothy 2:5-6 AMP gives us the example about Jesus. He was God and man for his whole life. Yet, Jesus paid attention the Father as to when it was the right time to reveal Himself as our Savior that had come to rule and reign. Because Jesus was so in tune with the Father, He was ready for the time when it came for Him to complete His task on the earth and become the ultimate sacrifice for our sins.  These verses read:

“For there is [only] one God, and [only] one Mediator between God and mankind, the Man Christ Jesus,” who gave Himself as a ransom [a substitutionary sacrifice to atone] for all, the testimony given at the right and proper time.”

It wasn’t just the right time. It was the proper time. There was not a minute that came too early or moment that lasted too long. It was perfect.

You might be thinking, well of course it was perfect…it’s Jesus…there’s no way I can get to that level.  And guess what, you’re right! But that’s part of the reason Jesus sacrificed Himself on the cross. Yes, it was to bring us into a reconciled relationship with Jesus but it was also to send us the gift of the Comforter ~ the Holy Spirit.

Romans 8:26-28 tells us this:

“In the same way the Spirit [comes to us and] helps us in our weakness. We do not know what prayer to offer or how to offer it as we should, but the Spirit Himself [knows our need and at the right time] intercedes on our behalf with sighs and groanings too deep for words. And He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because the Spirit intercedes [before God] on behalf of God’s people in accordance with God’s will. And we know [with great confidence] that God [who is deeply concerned about us] causes all things to work together [as a plan] for good for those who love God, to those who are called according to His plan and purpose.”

There are so many beautiful nuggets of truth and promise in these verses…go ahead and read them again. What do you feel the Lord is whispering to your heart right now? What prayers are lingering there? What plans are you fretting over? Are you dealing with a situation that no one else knows about? Oh, my friend, especially that last one ~ Satan wants you to feel that you are all alone but that is a LIE! As a believer in Jesus, the Holy Spirit has made His home in your heart and soul and mind. He is with you ~ you are NEVER alone! Yes!  The same God that spoke the universe into reality, is the same God who gives you the power and strength to make it through the most difficult of circumstances.

When you don’t even know what to pray, the Holy Spirit is there on your behalf. I can recall a few times in my life where the pain in my heart was so deep, I thought I’d never recover. The sobbing was so intense and unending that I couldn’t even form the words to pray and ask God to help me. That is right when, at the perfect timing, the Holy Spirit comes in to minister to us and go before God with the groanings of our spirit. When those tearful experiences were over, what was left was a peace that I could not explain except to know that the Lord had truly taken care of my heart at that moment.

So, whatever you have going on in your life right now, and as hard at may seem in the moment, trust that God sees you. He hears you. And He will answer you in just the right and proper time.

And if you are coming to Jesus for the first time today, welcome! Praise the Lord that you have chosen to allow the Lord to reign in your heart. I’d love to encourage you too to find someone in your local community to walk alongside you in this new adventure of following Jesus! God bless you!!

Blessings,

René

At just the right time - blog post

Photo by Stefanos Kogkas on Unsplash 

 

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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

The Sound of Stillness…

Is stillness really a sound?

I think it is and sometimes it is absolutely deafening.

Our society within the American culture is extremely uncomfortable with stillness.

My personal comfort zone is uncomfortable with stillness. But, I think silence is different than stillness though.

When my girls were little I absolutely craved silence by the end of the evening. I will admit that one of my favorite games sometimes was “The Quiet Game” ~ if I could just get 15 seconds or even a whole minute of silence, I could refocus my brain and continue on with our day. Even though I’m an extrovert and a 2w1 on the Enneagram scale, there are times I must schedule time to be quiet. But that can look different depending on the day. Sometimes the quiet I need is to take a long nap in the middle of the afternoon. Some days, like today, it’s to find a quiet local coffee shop, where I can collect my thoughts and put them down for you to read. Other days, the silence is reading a book or sitting with a friend.

But to be still….to truly be still…that’s a whole other story.

When I’m fighting the stillness, it is in that exact moment I have to stop and realize that in the stillness is where God speaks to us the loudest.

I’ve shared a story before how God spoke to me about my priorities (and my mothering!) when I’d been in car accident. The result was a fracture in the T5/T6 part of my spine. The miracle was two-fold: The night before I was to be fitted with a body brace that I’d have to wear for 6-12 months, God healed me through the many prayers of friends and family members. The other came when although I didn’t need the brace, I was still prescribed 3 weeks of complete, upright bedrest: no laying down, no slouching, ice packs, heat packs, no going downstairs, and basically no physical contact. You tell an enneagram 2 that they can’t hug anyone (or be hugged!) for THREE WEEKS!! May as well of told me to stop breathing!! This is where God used the stillness of those three weeks to draw me back to Him. Partly because I was alone A LOT and I had to rely on Him for my sanity, but more so in the fact that since my girls couldn’t hug me before and after school, they began to kneel down and “hug” my feet. Big lesson in humility for sure!

Psalm 46:10 {AMP} “Be still and know (recognize, understand) that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations! I will be exalted in the earth.”

But God knew I needed that ~ He had to ‘still’ me because I was too busy running around acting like I had it all together and didn’t need Him. When God wants to get our attention, He will!

Right now, I feel like I’m in a place of stillness. And I really, really, like not all, really don’t like it. I’ve been walking with the Lord long enough now to know that He is about to do something big. Not in the way the world would necessarily think is big, but big for Him and His name sake. That doesn’t always equate right away with feeling peace in the stillness.

Mark 4:39 ” {AMP} And He got up and [sternly] rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Hush, be still (muzzled)!” And the wind died down [as if it had grown weary] and there was [at once] a great calm [a perfect peacefulness].”

I love the verbiage in the Amplified Bible, especially in this verse in Mark 4. When Jesus hushed the sea and told the wind to stop, it stopped as if it was a child who’d been fighting a nap and suddenly realizes they are weary. They need to stop fighting. They need to be still. I love the last two words of this verse ~ perfect peacefulness. That just gives me chills! Notice here with me, that the wind did nothing to gain the peaceful calm EXCEPT to obey the voice of the Lord.

Stillness before the Lord that brings that kind of peace. 

The Lord has been whispering plans and ideas to my heart for a while now and I am so excited to share it with you when the time is right. At any rate, a few weeks ago I was feeling so confident and telling everyone how great it was to be able to hear what the Lord was telling me were my next steps. Usually the “next steps” are great because it means were in a path of forward motion and most of the time that is a good thing. I loved the fact that God was showing me what ministries and activities I needed to say ‘no’ to in order to get me even more ready to be available to say ‘yes’ to the new things He has for me in the near future. It was exciting. Honestly, it felt empowering to be able to do that. 

But now, I’m feeling like I’m in a wonky in-between place. I’ve cleaned out my schedule of anything that would distract me from hearing the Lord’s direction. Now what? 

Stillness.

Psalm 23:1-3 {AMP} The Lord is my Shepherd [to feed, to guide and to shield me], I shall not want. He lets me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still and quiet waters. He refreshes and restores my soul (life); He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.”

Like me, you’ve most likely read these verses in Psalm 23 many times. Today, I’m soaking them in a little deeper. I’m taking note of the clarity of these verses and it is beginning to help me settle into this stillness I’m feeling.

Just as the seas and wind only needed to obey the voice of the Lord, I cannot DO anything to gain peace or refreshment. In the stillness, look at what the Lord wants to give us:

to be fed

to be guided

to be shielded

to be provided for

to be still

to be led

to be refreshed

to be restored

And none of that is for my glory but for His. But it is ALL for my benefit! Whoa!! I do not find my own stillness. I do not create my own stillness. Only the Lord can orchestrate stillness in my life that will be of any use to my soul. My part in the stillness is to listen to His voice and trust that He loves me enough to create seasons of stillness.

Out of those seasons, the stillness will bring a new sense of peace that only He can give.

I can honestly say that after putting the words of my heart down on this page, I am feeling a new sense of contentment in this season of stillness that God has welcomed me into. I will move forward each day, trusting that He has a good plan for tomorrow, next week, and beyond. He desires for me to join Him in it! That’s pretty cool friends!

Stillness may not be one of my favorite things, but it is definitely one of the most important things I can do as the Lord moves me into new opportunities to learn and to teach.

Where is the Lord calling you into stillness right now? If you’re not sure, sit with Him in the stillness and ask Him. Even if you have to “run away” to your car in the driveway…find a few moments of quiet stillness.

Because in that place, you will be able to hear Him the loudest.

Blessings,

René

STILLNESS

Photo by Tim Trad 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

Keep On Keepin’ On…

Mom?

Mom?

Mooooooommmmmm!!!

MomMomMomMomMomMomMom!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Every single child has the ability to be persistent. Not necessarily the virtues and how to be politely persistent, but they’ve totally got the concept down to a science!

Let me ask you this question….how persistent are you with Jesus?

Do you ask Him something? Pray about a situation you are going through? Talk to Him about the hardships of life? How about questioning Him about the plans He has for you?

Do you ask Him once? Twice?

Do you talk to Jesus so much that you are so busy talking and thinking about your own stuff that you aren’t quiet enough to hear that He’s actually trying to answer you?

Just like with a small child who keeps calling out for Mom or Dad or whomever their caretaker is; they are so preoccupied with their own need and what they want to ask or what they desire to happen that they cannot hear the response. I’m very thankful that Jesus never responds to me like I did sometimes with my kids…you know what I mean…that exasperated (and sometimes loud) “WHAT??? What do you want?”

But in God’s Word, He asks us to be persistent. Check out the same verse in two versions:

Matthew‬ ‭7:7-8‬ ‭TPT {The Passion Translation} says, ““Ask, and the gift is yours. Seek, and you’ll discover. Knock, and the door will be opened for you. For every persistent one will get what he asks for. Every persistent seeker will discover what he longs for. And everyone who knocks persistently will one day find an open door.”

Persistent Seeker…

In the Amplified Version (AMP) it says, “For everyone who keeps on asking receives, and he who keeps on seeking finds, and to him who keeps on knocking, it will be opened.”

‭‭Everyone who keeps on…

But here’s the key ~ it’s not just about the persistence.

We must be willing to seek and knock. And we must be willing to wait.

In these verses it doesn’t say that the answers we seek, the path we are looking for, or the doors we knock on, will be opened immediately. It just tells us that they “will be opened.”

Take a quick minute and do a little activity for me ~ it’s easy and you don’t even have to get up…

Open both of your hands to where your left and right cute little pinky fingers are touching. Now stretch out your thumbs as far as they will go. Imagine that your left thumb is the day you were born and your right thumb is the day you will meet Jesus face to face.

The span of your whole life is in the palm of the mighty hands of Jesus. And He sees your WHOLE life ALL at once! We only get one day at a time. We have no idea what will happen even five minutes from now let alone 5 years from now. But Jesus does. He can look at us and see our whole life all at the same time. He knows whether or not that the thing you are asking Him to do right now is good for you or not.

When Jesus says ‘No’ to us, it feels like a punishment sometimes. But because He sees our whole life, He knows when to say no to the things that will cause us harm in the future. We have to trust Him with the no’s as much, or possibly even more than, the ‘yeses’ we get from Him.

When we become persistent seekers of God, our mind and heart will be at rest with Him instead of being on the bus to crazy town when we make our life all about our self.

A persistent seeker of God reaches beyond what is seen and sweetly leans into the comfort of knowing that God has the best for us. This is not to say that life will easy when we are trusting Jesus. In fact, scripture promises that there will be hard times and difficult circumstances (Hebrews 6:12; Isaiah 43:2) but we will not be taken out by them. Only God knows what is for our good and what would be a detriment to our life.

I can’t help think about that old country song, “Sometimes I thank God for unanswered prayers.” Oh my word friends! Just think back to prayers you used to pray in high school…and who you might’ve dated or married had God not intervened!  Seriously! I’m not saying that they were bad people, just that the Lord knew best and knew who would be the right one for you! Maybe you don’t even have to look back that far…maybe that song phrase resonates with something you prayed for last week and now you can clearly see that it was for your good that God didn’t give you what you asked for!

Persistent Seeker…

Let those words truly sink in.

Do you see that it doesn’t use the verbiage of being a ‘persistent asker’ ~ yes we are to ask the Lord for guidance, direction, future plans, anything really! But we are to first be seekers of what God has for us.

I actually just laughed out loud right now as I imaged the sweet face of my grandma. She used to say, “Ask any question that you want, but always be prepared for a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’ answer.” She first said that to me when I asked one of my daughters (when they were a toddler) if they wanted to take their bath. I was completely baffled when my sweet child looked at me and quite confidently said, “No thank you.” What? Politeness aside…what?

But it was a great lesson for me in the art of ‘asking’!
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Before I sign off for today, let’s go back and really sit with The Passion Translation of Matthew‬ ‭7:7-8‬ ~

““Ask, and the gift is yours.

~ The Lord wants to give us good gifts…gifts that will glorify Him through our lives.

Seek, and you’ll discover.

~ When we seek the scriptures we will absolutely discover every answer we are looking for. It’s all there. It’s always been there. When you have those “aha” moments, highlight the verse and put the date down so you can come back to it and remember what God did for you on that day.

Knock, and the door will be opened for you.

~ Walking over the threshold of knowledge in God’s word is the best door you can walk through. Jesus wants to invite you in to share in those good words but He also wants to be invited in to the living room of your heart.

For every persistent one will get what he asks for.

~ We are called to have enduring tenacity before the Lord. But after we have truly sought after what is best for us through scripture, we will come to know what we need to be persistently asking for. However, when we get so off track, sometimes the Lord will give us that thing we are begging for even though He knows it won’t be good for us. That is a painful place we put our Father into, but He is there through it all with open loving arms when we return to Him, trusting Him for what we truly need.

Every persistent seeker will discover what he longs for.

~ As we daily seek scripture and spend time in prayer with the Lord, He will not disappoint us by keeping secrets.  He longs to reveal to us the plans He has for us. Jeremiah 29:11-14 {AMP} For I know the plans and thoughts that I have for you,’ says the Lord, ‘plans for peace and well-being and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call on Me and you will come and pray to Me, and I will hear [your voice] and I will listen to you. Then [with a deep longing] you will seek Me and require Me [as a vital necessity] and [you will] find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you,’ says the Lord, ‘and I will restore your fortunes and I will [free you and] gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you,’ says the Lord, ‘and I will bring you back to the place from where I sent you into exile.’

Anywhere in scripture where you read that Jesus ‘will’ do something…He absolutely will! He will hear your prayers. He will hear your unique voice, be it a whisper, a groaning, a celebration, or a cry of desperation. He hears you!

And everyone who knocks persistently will one day find an open door.”

~ The Lord may have you in a season where you are about to go through a new door. I myself feel that I am in that place and boy oh boy do I want that door to open. TODAY! But I have walked with the Lord long enough to know that if I kick that door down before He opens it before me, I will miss the true beauty of what is next for me. Humans are inpatient. That is why we need our companion of the Holy Spirit to quiet our minds and remind us of the beauty that is in the waiting.

And hey, windows are to be looked out of or in to…not climbed out of. When the door isn’t opening yet, don’t be tempted to use that proverbial window. When God opens the door that you have been persistently knocking on, you know it will be the right time to walk through in the fullness of all He has planned for you.

Be persistent, be a seeker, be a door-knocker ~ but first be obedient to His plans in all that you do.

Blessings,

René
What door are you knocking on

 

 

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

It’s all about Perspective…

I recently joined my husband on one of his business trips to Sicily and it was incredible. I’m very grateful that I’m able to accompany him and have these opportunities to explore various countries that otherwise would be short of impossible. But it didn’t start out that way.

When we checked into our hotel, we noticed that the covering over the large sliding glass doors were actually metal. We found that a bit odd, but there were little holes throughout that let sunlight in. However, we then noticed we could hear people talking and saw their shoes quite close to our shutters. The ground was wet and we could see the legs of what appeared to be pool lounge chairs.

My first thought was, “Oh great, we are in a room that is directly in contact with the pool area. We won’t be able to open up this shutter at all on this trip!” After a disgruntled sigh, I reminded myself that we were in Sicily for goodness sake, and didn’t have to pay a dime to get there.

No matter what, we would have a great time!

We broke the cardinal rule of international travel and promptly took a nap. Later in the afternoon, we freshened up and went out for a lovely walk along the waterfront and had a wonderful dinner. We didn’t remember anything about our “horrible view” until the next morning.

We listened and didn’t hear anyone by the ‘pool’ yet, so we decided to open up the shutters. We’d since found the electric button that began to slowly reveal something far better than we had imagined. As we pulled all the curtains back and opened the sliding glass door, we were greeted by a large private patio with a balcony…complete with a chaise lounge, a table with two chairs and an L-shaped couch! And the view ~ WOW! We had a view of the ocean and the lovely city that we were in! What a difference it made to open those shutters!

My husband and I laughed (and I repented a bit again for my discontented attitude of the previous day) as we walked out on to the balcony, breathing in the fresh ocean air, thankful that we discovered the true reality of what a gift we had received in this trip. I swallowed hard as tears welled up in my eyes as I felt the Holy Spirit whisper to my heart, “What you see isn’t all that God wants to reveal to you. Open your eyes to His revelation and you will experience more joy and contentment that you can ever imagine.”

So many times we see what we want to see, not what we need to see.

Sometimes the Lord places us in situations where we have no choice but to trust in Him, that His plans are intended for our good. Not that we will run about rejoicing when hardship crosses our path, but keeping close to our heart the knowledge and truth that God is always good.

I thought of the verse, Jeremiah 29:11, that everyone quotes with abandon. It’s on t-shirts, mugs, blankets, and those darling wooden painted signs at your local Hobby Lobby:

“ – ‘For I know the plans and thoughts that I have for you,’ says the LORD, ‘plans for peace and well-being and not for disaster to give you a future and a hope.”

My friends, let’s not miss the importance of this verse in context. This is in no way a statement from the Lord that our lives will be always filled with earthly goodness and easy paths. We must remember to look at scripture in context to receive the full knowledge of the truths God intends to teach us.

The verses surrounding Jeremiah 29:11 are a reminder to the Israelites who had been exiled for so long in Babylon. The Lord had allowed them to become captives of the Babylonian Kingdom due to their disobedience to Him. He allowed hardship to be heaped upon their lives. It’s difficult to understand how He could do this, but the Lord is “the same yesterday, today, and forever”{Hebrews 13:8}. When we choose to go in the wrong direction, the Lord has to retrain our steps to go according to His will. How many times do we, and ridiculously so, think that our will and our way is better than His? That is a battle we will never win ~ and trust me, you don’t want to win that one!

Jeremiah 29:10 says, “For thus says the LORD, ‘When seventy years [of exile] have been completed for Babylon, I will visit (inspect) you and keep My good promise to you, to bring you back to this place.”

The Lord was reminding the people of His punishment.

And also the fact that His promise’s will come to fruition.

The story/lesson continues in verses 12-14, “~’Then you will call on Me and you will come and pray to Me, and I will hear [your voice] and I will listen to you. ~ ‘Then [with a deep longing] you will seek Me and require Me [as a vital necessity] and [you will] find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. ~ ‘I will be found by you,’ says the LORD, ‘and I will restore your fortunes and I will [free you and] gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you,’ says the LORD, ‘and I will bring you back to the place from where I sent you into exile.’”

Isn’t that beautifully reassuring? Wherever it states in the Bible that God will or will not do a certain thing, it is a promise that we can count on.

When we call out to the Lord, He will hear us.

When we have a deep longing to seek His will for our life, the Holy Spirit will fill us with the truth and understanding we need.

When we come back to the Lord after a period of disobedience, He will welcome us with open arms and restore us to full relationship with Him.

But think about this for a moment, there cannot be reconciliation without some kind of exile.

Whether we are separated from God for a moment in our day, or for a longer period of time, we cannot hear the wisdom the Holy Spirit desires to share with us for our life. When I allowed dissatisfaction to enter my heart about what I thought the view from our hotel room windows would offer us, I shut out God. It was as if that big metal shutter had come down over my spirit, squelching the light of God’s truth.

What if I had never pushed that button to raise up the shutter? We would have been ‘exiled’ in a sense to the confines of our room. I would’ve missed out on part of the generosity of our hosts. Part of their gift to us of having a private patio that overlooked the oceanside of Sicily would have been lost on us. How very sad that would have been!!

When I choose to trust God in the little things {like opening up a shutter on a window} it’s easier to handle the bigger things in life.

When my eyes are on Him, seeking His will, searching His heart, then the view of the world He has placed me in will always be one of contentment. Not because this earthly life is always good, but because my God is always good and He always has a good plan for my life!

Blessings,

René
perspective

Women's Ministries

Free Refills….

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

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

So what fills you up? 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Simple answer ~ God’s Word!

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

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

And here’s the real secret….

JESUS OFFERS FREE REFILLS!!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

…read the Bible and pray!

Here’s another secret…

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

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

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

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

Prayer can happen all. day. long!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blessings,

René

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

Authentic Joy…

What come to your mind when you hear the word ‘joy’?

Candy ~ Almond joy?

Songs ~ Joyful Joyful We Adore Thee

Or different variations of the word JOY ~ happiness? Delight? Pleasure? Enjoyment? Bliss?

Or maybe on a more serious note, you’re wondering when the last time it was that you actually felt joyful?

So much of the idea of success in the world today is based on individualized aspects…What makes you happy? What lights you up? What moves you? What’s your passion? What drives you? Do those things!

But what happens on the mornings when you wake up and the answer to those questions are a big fat nothing? Then what do you do?

John 15:11 says “I have told you these things so that My joy and delight may be in you, and that your joy may be made full and complete and overflowing.”

So this is what I want to focus on the blog today ~ how to have joy everyday no matter what the circumstances.

Joy is defined as, “the emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying; keen pleasure; elation; a source or cause of keen pleasure or delight; something or someone greatly valued or appreciated; the expression or display of glad feeling; festive gaiety.”

There are over 300 references to ‘joy’ in the Bible, so I’m going to throw it out there, this is something that is important to the Lord…something that He wants us to understand and embrace for our benefit. As opposed to the word ‘happiness’ which is only mentioned a mere eight times. Joy and Happiness are totally different…even though the definition of Joy contains the word happiness.

Happiness is fleeting and is usually attached to an event or how a person makes us feel.

Joy on the other hand, is a state of being. It is a way we can feel no matter what circumstances we are experiencing.

Oh…but there’s one more word I want to touch on before I share a story with you ~ FEELING.

The most important thing I can tell you about feelings is that many times, okay, most times, they aren’t to be trusted as the absolute in how we respond to a situation. Feelings are temporary. I love the quote, “Never make permanent decisions based on temporary feelings.”

Let me tell you a little story ~

In January 1999, we were six months in to living in our dream home in Pasadena…white picket fence and all. My husband had a great job in the entertainment industry, money wasn’t an issue, we had two healthy daughters and decided to try for a third. Life was fantastic. I was so happy because I had everything I wanted. Did ya catch how many “I’s” were in that last sentence??

And then God decided to change the course of our life. It wasn’t horrible, but it was hard!

My husband came home one evening and said, “I’ve been praying a lot lately and I really feel that God wants me to quit my job and open my own company. I know this will mean that we will have to trade in our cars for less expensive ones and figure out if we can keep the kids in private school, oh yeah, and we’ll have to sell the house.”

Well, he told me how he felt, so I was gonna tell him how I felt…

I can still picture the scene in my mind; he was standing by the staircase and I was one stair up so we were just about eye to eye. I non-to-politely (honestly, I was downright rude about it), told him that he couldn’t possibly be hearing from God and I didn’t care what he felt because he was wrong. It was definitely NOT one of my proudest moments as a supportive Christian wife. But my husband truly loves me like Jesus does and he was so patient with me.

He just smiled, asked me to pray about it, and said that when I was ready to talk about it, to let him know.

That made me FEEL so mad!

Had I allowed my feelings to continue to prevail, I would have missed out on experiencing what true Joy can be.

It took the next 9 months to deal with all the things that I was feeling. How my heart ached at the thought of selling our dream home and moving again. How sad I was to be losing a very comfortable salary. Then I started realizing that all the things that were making me sad, were just things. I would still have my family and how could I walk away from doing what the Lord had asked us to do.

To step out in faith requires that we operate in the Fruit of the Spirit. Galatians 5:22-23a says, “But the fruit of the Spirit [the result of His presence within us] is love [unselfish concern for others], joy, [inner] peace, patience [not the ability to wait, but how we act while waiting], kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”

I love how the Amplified version of the Bible describes peace as being something “inner” ~ and what is on the inside of us is what ends up coming to fruition on the outside of us. Through this passage we can see that authentic joy has nothing to do with our happiness; it has everything to do with where our identity comes from.

The worst thing my husband said to me that night was that we would have to sell our house. It was MY house. I had big plans (literally…we had just finished paying for an architect to draw up remodeling plans a few weeks prior). I had already imagined our future Christmases, our girls coming down the staircase for prom & taking pictures in front of the Batchehelder fireplace, how incredible our back yard would look as we hosted friends and family for their weddings amidst fragrant bouquets of flowers and covered in a canopy of fairy lights.

I felt cheated. I felt mad. I felt slighted. I felt my dreams weren’t important.

And for what….a house?

The last day of work for my husband at his original job, was November 19, 2000. For the next decade, I learned quite intimately how I must trust the Lord to be my strength, my hope, my delight, my joy.

Proverbs 10:28 is quite thought-provoking, “The hope of the righteous [those of honorable character and integrity] is joy, But the expectation of the wicked [those who oppose God and ignore His wisdom] comes to nothing.”

Yeah, the Holy Spirit doesn’t mince words here.

And I battled between spiritual integrity and selfish expectations for a long time. It was not pretty.

On the outside, I would plaster on that happy face. But deep down, and many days it bubbled barely beneath the surface, I was angry. And I’m sure you know this…but you cannot be both angry and joyful at the same time. It’s like expecting to bite into a luscious donut and all you get is tofu…they don’t go together…like at all…ever!

Why did we have to struggle so much? Paying our bills, the mortgage, keeping food in the fridge, and gas in the car….seriously? Didn’t GOD tell my husband to quit a perfectly good job and create a new one? Wasn’t it GOD that whispered to the heart of my husband to do his work for Him?  How can GOD direct us to start a Christian company and not bless it?  I mean, really. I was even dyeing & cutting my own hair (oh yeah…it was not a good look…) and stopped getting manicures.

I knew it was petty. I knew that God was in charge. I knew that we would receive blessings from God that would be nothing less than miraculous. I knew all of that in my head, but my heart was in complete denial & filled with frustration pretty much every day.

Proverbs 17:22 summed up my life, “A happy heart is good medicine and a joyful mind causes healing, But a broken spirit dries up the bones.”

Well, the second half of that verse sums up my life for far too long.

We moved ~ God graced us with a beautiful new home.

We tried for a third child and had a healthy daughter.

Our cars were different but they were great ~ and paid for!

Our girls were able to remain at their private school ~ total miracle.

We had the support of our church community.

And I still loved my husband.

Things were looking up.

Then the ceiling in our kitchen started to fall down…because of a burst water pipe…from the upstairs bathroom…

Really?

Happiness disappeared like a vapor and Joy…inner peace…that wasn’t even part of the plan anymore. I moved into survival mode.

For the next 18 months, the Lord took us down a road that I still look back on in amazement. Within the first few weeks, I realized that I needed to change my perspective real quick or I was going to implode.

Actually, I didn’t realize it on my own…thankfully I have wonderful mentors and friends who spoke hard truth to my deaf ears and hardened heart. God wasn’t punishing me, my husband, or our family. He was using this time to prune out of my heart what didn’t need to be there in order for His purposes to be completed within me and throughout my life as a witness for Him.

I was broken but knew deep down I was still blessed. I had to pray often for my joy to be renewed. Very often in the beginning!

Psalm 16:11 promises this, “You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forevermore.”

Where is my joy? It’s in His presence.

Where are the pleasures of life? In His right hand.

Hello! Life changer right there!

We lived in a local hotel for 6 months then moved to a furnished apartment for one year while our house/kitchen went through insurance denials, mold abatement, insurance stalemates, lots of waiting, finally remodeling, then suing the insurance company and moving back home.

I had to learn how to have joy ~ a joy that didn’t come from anything around me or from anything I could produce. I had to rely on the Lord to move within my heart, mind, and soul to create His perfect joy.

I had to ask Him for it…and He gladly answered that prayer!

Part of my responsibility as a wife was to be a support to my husband however I could…happy wife happy life…but not just happy…joyful. As a Mom, my daughters needed as much stability in their lives as possible. At 2, 6, and 8, none of it made sense.  And sleeping together in a pull-out sofa lost its charm pretty quick!

What’s a momma to do…pray!

So I found things I could be joyful about…

Living in a hotel meant I had room/cleaning service…every day!

Apartment laundry rooms meant I could get 15 loads of laundry done in about 3 hours instead of 12…yeah…Every.Week!

Apartment living meant it only took 45 minutes to clean house instead of all day at home.

In both locations, I brought in photos from home and hung them on the wall with those fabulous 3m hooks. I brightened up the beige walls of the apartment entry way with big colorful maps of the USA and one of the world that I found at Costco. I restored part of my sanity by donning a mask & going to our house and getting my sewing machine so I could be creative. I mean, I had all that “free time” that I didn’t have to spend doing laundry or cleaning, right!?!

One of the best ways that the Lord humbled me to learn how to receive His joy was to receive help from others. I didn’t want to be a charity case. But a very wise friend reminded me of how I felt when I was able to bless others with a home-cooked meal, or free babysitting, or a paid-for date night…people wanted to do that for our family now. It’s hard to be on the receiving end, but it’s so worth it.

My attitude began to change and I began to see our reality through the lens of authentic joy. A joy that is not borne out of circumstances, but out of following Christ and choosing to be obedient to what He calls me to walk through.

Once we were able to move back into our house, our life didn’t suddenly become easy.  The money struggles were still there but my husband and I would pray, “Okay Lord, you love to show off to Your children how well you can provide…let’s see what You’re going to do this time!” And we really meant it! And He would always come through. There isn’t enough time to recount the miracles of how God provided for our family during that decade, but it was phenomenal!

Just one quick story, that is still a bit emotional for me to think about, was how we literally had no food in the fridge. We finished up the last of the cereal, eggs, and milk, and used up the rest of what we had to make three little lunches for our girls to take to school. My husband and I prayed before I left to take the girls to school, that God would provide a miracle for us to be able to feed our family. I won’t lie, we were nervous but we trusted God.

As I exited car line and went down a side street, I pulled over and cried and knew I needed to discard my pride and call my parents to help us…and now that I have grown children, there really isn’t an age where that momma heart doesn’t kick in to want to help out your kiddos.

As I held the phone in my hands praying for God to give me the courage to call, it rang…it was my husband…he said, “Everything is great and I’m fine, but you need to come to the office before you go home.” I told him I was about to call my mom about the grocery dilemma and he told me to “wait. Come to the office.” Fine!

I pulled in and walked slowly to his office. He sat there with tears streaming down his face holding a card in his hands. He held it out to my and said, “Just open it.” It was a beautiful floral design, “Thinking of You” kind of card. Inside it read, “Dear Bancroft Family, You are always in my thoughts. Love, Jesus”. Then my husband handed me another little envelope that had been inside the card.

It was a $300 gift card to Ralphs grocery store, written on it with a black sharpie, “To the Bancroft’s ~ Love, Jesus”.

He provided more than enough.

And I still have the card as a reminder that Jesus sees our needs. And that He shops at Ralphs!

Romans 12:11-13, “never lagging behind in diligence; aglow in the Spirit, enthusiastically serving the Lord; constantly rejoicing in hope [because of our confidence in Christ], steadfast and patient in distress, devoted to prayer [continually seeking wisdom, guidance, and strength], contributing to the needs of God’s people, pursuing [the practice of] hospitality.”

I learned that there is no “last minute” with God ~ it might feel like MY last minute, but it’s His perfect timing! God has shown up for us every single time.

We have known plenty and we have known want.

But most importantly, we have always known that our joy rests in Him and not in our circumstances.

That is true authentic joy.

To trust the Lord with EVERYTHING! You don’t have to be happy when you go through difficult times, but it is possible to be joyfully content in the midst of the struggle.

Blessings,

René

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

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