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Scattered Together…

Scattered Together blog image

Photo by João Ferrão on Unsplash

We are in crazy times right now where a lot of things don’t make sense. The onset and aftermath of the coronavirus has put the whole world off-kilter. We are all trying to make sense of what it means to quarantine, stay at home, what businesses are essential and what aren’t. I wish that hair salons and nail salons were considered essential! Lord have mercy on my roots!

One of the things I’ve been thinking about during this time is the usage of various words. Words that will most definitely be added to new versions of the dictionary. And some words that now clearly go together but are oxymorons.

Oxymorons are all around us:

  • Jumbo shrimp
  • Deafening silence
  • Invisible ink
  • Electric candles
  • Sweet sorrow
  • Accurate rumors
  • Alone together

But what about this new one that has descended upon our world ~ Scattered together.
How can people be scattered but be together at the same time? Let’s take a quick look at the definitions of these two words:

Scattered: distributed or occurring at widely spaced and usually irregular intervals
Together: into or in one gathering, company, mass, place, or body

I mean, “distributed widely” and “in one gathering” simply do not make sense when put together. They are complete opposites.

How can we be so widely spaced from one another but still experience the joy of gathering? One of those ways is to remember that we are ALL going through basically the same thing. We are all being told to shelter at home, stay safe at home, wear face masks, be as isolated as possible only going out for absolute necessities.

My heart goes out to the mom’s with little ones at home, they have little to zero time to themselves. The widow/widower who is riding this out alone in their homes. To the grandparents who live in assisted living and cannot leave their rooms or see their families. Weddings that are live-streamed and new babies being born without waiting rooms filled with well-wishers. Graduations are being postponed to unknown dates.

It’s. Just. All. So. Much!

But…

There. Is. Hope!

The Lord is with us and He is not surprised by any of this worldly chaos. He did not create this disease but no matter how hard it is to wrap our brains around, He is allowing it.

There are so many examples of the Lord scattering His people in the Bible, and it is ALWAYS for a purpose.

In Genesis 9:18-20 (AMP) we read about what happened after the Lord flooded the earth and what needed to happen to fill the earth once again,

“The sons of Noah who came out of the ark were Shem and Ham and Japheth. Ham would become the father of Canaan. These are the three sons of Noah, and from these [men] the whole earth was populated and scattered with inhabitants. And Noah began to farm and cultivate the ground and he planted a vineyard.”

Sometime later, the people of the land got together and thought they could create a tower that would enable them to reach God. Because the Lord knew this would eventually cause more problems than good, we see in Genesis 11:8-10 (AMP),

“So the Lord scattered them abroad from there over the surface of the entire earth; and they stopped building the city. Therefore the name of the city was Babel—because there the Lord confused the language of the entire earth; and from that place the Lord scattered and dispersed them over the surface of all the earth.”

In the New Testament, we see how God worked through two guys arguing about what was best for the ministry of the Gospel. These were two apostles of Jesus named Paul and Barnabas were great friends and passionate missionaries for the Gospel. At one point, they argued about where to go next and who to bring with them. They both felt very strongly in their opinions.

Towards the end of the 15th chapter of Acts, we see that they did indeed end up going to minister in different areas. Paul and Silas went on a second journey to Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia; while Barnabas and John Mark sailed to Cyprus.

This disagreement was between two human beings who made choices. Satan thought he had won a small battle when they stopped ministering together. But we know that he absolutely did not! In the case of Paul and Barnabas, they and their new companions ended up reaching even MORE people with the saving grace of salvation. One strand of that ministry reached into Europe and eventually America.

God, in His wisdom, will always use what the enemy plans for our destruction, to ultimately be for our good and God’s glory.

In this time of being scattered together, the church buildings are empty and gatherings are indefinitely postponed. Yet, we are together through the genius of technology. Sunday morning services are being broadcast all over the world. People who’ve never stepped foot into a traditional church building, are hearing the Good News of the gospel in their homes. Students who had been enjoying weekly gatherings are still able to fellowship with their friends and leaders on their phones. Social media has ramped up encouraging messages of hope and grace.

The Lord is still in this. He is completely aware of our fears, worries, and anxieties. And He is here with us to weather the storm.

Psalm 91(AMP) is a beautiful chapter of biblical poetry that sings of the joy we can have in knowing our security lies in Jesus. The entire chapter is worth the read, but I’ll share this first verse:

“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High Will remain secure and rest in the shadow of the Almighty [whose power no enemy can withstand].”

There are several more verses in Psalms that are full of encouragement and this truth ~ Jesus is our stronghold and our true shelter. In all the places you feel scattered today, give all the pieces to the Lord and let Him hold them for you. Trust that He will put them back together. The pieces may look different when they are replaced, but they will be stronger and more secure in the hands of a gracious God.

Stay safe at home during this Covid-19 pandemic, shelter your heart in the shadow of the Lord, and look forward to the day when we can gather together in person and share community face to face!

 

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What do you “fill in the blank” with…

Blog - fill in the blanks 4-2020
Photo by 童 彤 on Unsplash

This is a crazy season and I’ve been thinking a lot about what our lives look like during this covid-19 pandemic. I’ve gone through so many emotions in the past two weeks, and I bet you have too! So I wanted to share my heart with you today and be vulnerable with you.

What it has shown me, more than I want to admit, is that I have decisions to make every single day, whether in quarantine or not, to fix my eyes on Jesus and fill in the hollow places of my mind and my heart with Him.

However, too many are filling in the blank with fear.

Two weeks ago, I was doing just that.

I was allowing myself to be consumed with the news. It was on all. day. long! It was like a bad accident that I couldn’t look away from. I wanted to. But I chose the opposite. After about 5 days, waking up feeling miserable and fearful, I cried out to God in the shower and asked Him what I needed to do. I knew what the answer would be but I had to CHOOSE it!

The Holy Spirit was so kind and whispered to my heart, “Look up! Look to the Father! Turn off the news.”

There was no condemnation in His voice. Simply love and encouragement.

So I did ~ I turned off the news and each time I would begin to feel fearful, I would give it to the Lord. I decided that anytime fear was tempting me to walk down the path of lies, I would pray.

I would love to tell you that life immediately got easier on all levels, and it did but not in the way I expected.

As I began to embrace the quiet, embrace the rest, and settle into the slower pace of life, it allowed the Lord the opportunity to speak louder to me about how He wants me to come out of this ‘safe at home’ season a new version of who He has created me to be.

And as wonderful as that sounds, it kinda freaks me out! The process of change is not fun. Whether you are seeking it or it is seeking you ~ change is hard.

I was recently on a zoom bible study group (as many of us are in this covid-19 season) and my friend that was sharing, said that God was bringing her “to the end of herself.”

All of the things that God was peeling away was drawing her closer to Him, but it was not necessarily an enjoyable experience.

A lightbulb went off in my head ~ these were the words that finally made sense to me as to what I was going through for the latter parts of March 2020.

The Lord was bringing me to the end of myself.

And here we are.

I have not done the things I could. I have not done the things I thought I would do “once I had the time” to do them. I have not read the books in the stacks around my house. I have not spent dubious amounts of time reading the Bible.

But I know that I am coming to the end of myself so that God can fill that void of my self with His power and wisdom.

It will not happen all at once, but I know when we are allowed to roam free in our neighborhoods, gather in our churches, have coffee in cute little shops around town, and hug everyone that walks across our path, I know that I will be a different person.

So with all of these revelations, what will I be choosing to “fill in the blank” with, in the coming days and weeks?

• Joy
• Peace
• Study of God’s Word
• Writing
• Virtual coffee dates with friends
• Zoom meetings with our LifeGroup
• FaceTime chats with family
• So much more!

And when the temptations come to give in to fear or worry, I will remember this: the Lord has brought me to the end of myself so He can fill me with the fullness of Himself!

Blessings,
René

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Closer than you think…

Closer than you think - blog with text

The promises of God are closer than we think.

More often than not, we have to fully give our dreams and hopes back to God and trust that He will sustain us and bring them to fruition in His perfect timing.

Reading through the book of Ruth, it could seem at first glance that life for Ruth and her mother-in-law Naomi was destined for brokenness. But when you dig deeper and really look at all they went through, you see the perfect picture of redemption, healing, and promises fulfilled.

Check out these verses with me in Ruth 4:4-6, 12, 17, and 22 {AMP}

“So I thought to let you hear of it, saying, ‘Buy it in the presence of those sitting here, and before the elders of my people. If you will redeem it, redeem it; but if not, then tell me, so that I may know; for there is no one besides you to redeem it, and I am [next of kin] after you.’ “And he said, “I will redeem it.” Then Boaz said, “The day that you buy the filed from Naomi, you must also acquire Ruth the Moabitess, the widow of the deceased, to restore the name of the deceased to his inheritance.” The closest relative (redeemer) said, “I cannot redeem it for myself, because [by marrying a Moabitess] I would jeopardize my own inheritance. Take my right of redemption (purchase) yourself, because I cannot redeem it.”

Further, may hour house be like the house of Perez whom Tamar bore to Judah, because of the offspring which the LORD will give you by this young woman.”

The neighbor women gave him a name, saying, “A son (grandson) has been born to Naomi.” They named him Obed (worshiper). He is the father of Jesse, the father of David [the ancestor of Jesus Christ].

Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of David [the king of Israel and the ancestor of Jesus Christ].”

If you aren’t familiar with the book of Ruth, I would definitely recommend you taking a few moments to read it the four chapters. The significance of these verses above are a culmination of Ruth and Naomi (both widows) being provided for and taken care of; essentially being saved from a life of poverty and despair.

In the midst of Naomi’s sadness, she knew the only thing left to do was to go back to her people. Even with this plan, she had zero confidence that the town would accept her back into the community.

As someone who has moved 14 times since getting married in 1990, it’s never easy. It’s a strange mixture of excitement and pure terror! Dealing with all the new things ~ neighbors, grocery store, restaurants, different ways to get to church, work, or the kids’ schools. All the things!

But Naomi made sure that everyone knew that she knew, her life had changed. And not for the better. She tells everyone in Ruth 1:20,

“She said to them, “Do not call me Naomi (sweetness); call me Mara (bitter), for the Almighty has caused me great grief and bitterness.”

Thankfully I’ve never moved with that kind of greeting to new neighbors!”

Even though Naomi was beyond distressed, she obeyed the whisper in her heart and moved back to her people. That first step of obedience brought her to the next one and the next one and the one after that. Good things began happening for her and Ruth.

In the passage I shared at the beginning of this blog tells a brief story of how Ruth came to be able to marry Boaz. Prior to this gathering of town folks, it is clear in scripture that Boaz was enamored with Ruth. There is an age gap, and he was a man of great authority in the community, so this meant that he had to remain above reproach. There were enough signs of his affection to encourage Naomi to tell Ruth how to let Boaz know she would return his affection. Even so, there were still hurdles.

Naomi and Ruth could’ve chosen to fall full force into despair and doubt, but they remembered that they served a mighty God.

Can you imagine the tension though at that town meeting? Boaz and Ruth wanted to be together but they had to go through the proper channels. Too long to go into {so yeah…go read Ruth!} but these two decided to trust the Lord that there would be a good plan for them.

And indeed, there was! This next step of obedience on all the parts of Naomi, Ruth, and Boaz brought the world one step closer to the celebration of Jesus being born.

The birth of the Savior of the world was closer than they knew.

It would take seven more generations before Jesus was born, but His lineage was written by God since before time. {In all, from Abraham to David was 14 generations.*}

What is that thing you are waiting for? Anticipating? Dreading?

The Christmas and New Years’ seasons are full of so many different emotions for so many of us. As you read this, I’m sure there is a lot going on in your life and in the lives of those around you.

Waiting is hard.

Moving is not comfortable.

Change is not always what we want.

But God…

He will not let you fall.

He will not abandon you.

He simply calls you to take the next obedient step. Then the next one and the one after that. The answer to what you are questioning is most likely closer than you think. It also will most likely not come when you want it to come, but it will unfold at just the right time for you.

Especially as we have a new decade beginning ~ 2020 ~ it’s a perfect season to seek God and find out what He has for you. Spend time in prayer, reading the Word, and reflecting on what He says, and you will not be disappointed.

Be patient, defeat the temptation to become bitter, invest your heart in trusting God’s goodness for your life.

My prayer for you today and always is to remember that Jesus is closer to your heart than you might think. Trust Him.

Blessings,

René

 

 

 

 

‭‭Ruth‬ ‭4:4-6, 12, 17, 22‬ ‭AMP‬‬

https://www.bible.com/1588/rut.4.4-6,12,17,22.amp

“So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen; from David to the Babylonian deportation (exile), fourteen generations; and from the Babylonian deportation to the Messiah, fourteen generations.”

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭1:17‬ ‭AMP‬‬

https://www.bible.com/1588/mat.1.17.amp

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We are not Avatars…

Have you seen the movie Avatar? I will admit to you that I loved that film! To be real with ya, if I’m sitting down to fold a few loads of clean laundry and come across Avatar on TV, I’ll totally watch it. I appreciate the story. I appreciate the art design. I appreciate the animation. It’s just a fun film.

But we are not Avatars.

Yet, I think we sometimes try to live like we are.

The definition of avatar is: an embodiment or personification, as of a principle, attitude, or view of life. Digital Technology. a graphical image that represents a person, as on the Internet.”

There is nothing real about avatars.

Social media is an avatar of sorts. We all love scrolling through posts on Instagram and Facebook, and from what I hear you can get lost in Pinterest (it’s the one I won’t get on because I know I would get lost in it too!) But what do we see? For the most part it’s picture perfect living rooms with just the right amount of light that invites us in; it’s the luxurious master bedroom with loads of pillows that you can imagine sinking into; it’s the spa-like bathroom that begs us to have a ‘treat yo’self’ kind of day; it’s the country club backyard that beckons us to throw a party. You get the idea.

But what did all those rooms look like before the picture was taken? That space was crafted in such a way to convey a certain feeling. And after the photos were taken, the people could get back to “real life” and live in their homes like regular people. Toys, piles of laundry, stacks of papers and bills, backpacks and shoes by the front door, and unmade beds. Okay, okay…might sound like an extreme, but it’s true. The majority of the time, we make our bed every morning because I like the way it looks when it’s all done up. But today, today I was okay with pulling up the sheets & blanket, and then smoothing out the comforter on top without all the extra pillows and cutesy stuff on top.

What about our self? How do we ‘avatar’ ourselves?

We take a bunch of selfies to find just the right one to post. No one tells you that the pic they finally posted was ‘take 50’ or that they used about three different filters to find just the right lighting. We put up the version of ourselves, the image that we think is going to be acceptable to those taking 3-5 seconds to scroll past our photo.

I mean, no one really wants to see pics of your dishes piled high in both sides of the sink or how your dog threw up all over the couch. We want to put our best self forward to others, and I’m not saying there is anything wrong with that. The danger lies in the desire to become the image we are putting forth with such an effort as to hide our real self.

Not to ruin the movie for ya…but that’s what happens at the end! For a lot of reasons, the guy decides he’d rather become the avatar-being than to go back to the real world of being human. He leaves it all behind. In the movie, it feels very altruistic and makes sense. But what happens in our real-world situations when we are consistently walking around in a fake body?

We have all met someone, or have been that person, who walks around with a smile plastered on our face and everything is always fine. Or the other side of things, walk around with our head hanging down complaining about how life is unfair. These are both extremes, but I know there is someone coming to your mind right now that fit one or both of these caricatures.

Me too.

I’ve been both.

I think immediately back to a span of time that I realize I wasn’t able to truly build solid friendships with some of the people around me because heck, I didn’t even want to be around me. I was stuck in a cycle of depression, doubt, confusion, self-hatred…all of it! I was allowing those negative attributes to become who I thought I was. I repelled the idea from anyone who tried to tell me different. Admittedly, we were going through some difficult financial times but I was letting Satan tell me who I was instead of believing the Living Word of God tell me who I actually was!

I am beyond thankful that my husband, my daughters, and my true friends didn’t give up on me! I didn’t turn a corner until I CHOSE to believe that God created me to be a loving person, a competent mother and wife, a genuine friend, and one who was seen, known, and loved by the Creator of the Universe. Part of that transformation was in the form of some tough love from a good friend (Thanks Jenn!)

She told me that every day for a month, I was to look in the mirror and say (OUT LOUD!): “I am beautiful. I am loved. I am created by God for a good purpose.”

And then I had to call or text her to let her know that I did it. Those 30 days were the worst best thing that could’ve happened to me. The day I could say those things to myself in the bathroom mirror, while my husband was in the room at the same time, well, that’s when I knew I was beginning to actually believe it! That month was pivotal in the transformation God had in store for me.

I stopped wishing that my life was different.

I stopped dreaming away the day with all my “When I ___________ then I’ll be happy.” kinds of self-talk.

I stopped imagining what life would’ve looked like had we made different financial decisions.

What did I START doing?

  • Choosing to honor the Lord with my “yes” before my feet hit the floor every morning.
  • Choosing to have a view of my life and of the community I lived in with a Biblical view instead of a world-view.
  • Choosing to believe that I was worth loving and that I was enough.
  • Choosing to trust that I was who God said I was.

I’ll be honest, there are still days that I have to really fight to choose, let alone BELIEVE, all of those truths. But when I do it’s totally worth it!

My encouragement to you today ~

Start living into the life that God has called you to.

Trust that He has a good plan for you…better than you can imagine.

Give the Lord your ‘yes’ every single morning and look for opportunities to be a light for Jesus during your day. 

Read God’s Word and pray every day ~ keep Him the foremost part of every thought!

All of these things take active participation in the life that you are currently living. Put away the ‘avatar’ version you’ve created of yourself and your circumstances.

Real life is better than an imagined one.

Blessings,

René

avatar blog - theme - What do you imagine_

Photo by h heyerlein on Unsplash

 

 

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Making new friends…

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

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

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

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

It’s just like that with us as adults.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There is something to be said about shared experiences.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blessings,

René

Making New Friends...blog 11-2019

Photo by Seemi Samuel on Unsplash

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

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

 

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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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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