Hope for the Future

Psalm 3:3 “But you, LORD, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high.”

1 Corinthians 15:58 “My dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”

Joshua 1:9 “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”

1 Chronicles 29:11-12 “Yours, LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, LORD, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all. Wealth and honor come from you; you are the ruler of all things. In your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all.”

Exodus 14:14 “The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.”

Job 11:18 “Having hope will give you courage. You will be protected and will rest in safety.”

Isaiah 40:31 “But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

Romans 5:3-4 “Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.”

Hebrews 10:23 “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.”

Philippians 1:6 “Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

Matthew 11:28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

Philippians 3:20-21 “But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables Him to bring everything under His control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like His glorious body.”

Zephaniah 3:17 “The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty One who will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness; He will quiet you by His love; He will exult over you with loud singing.”

2 Corinthians 4:18 “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

Revelation 21:4 “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

 

Is There Anything I Can DO?

My youngest baby girl told me on New Years Eve that she didn’t want to stay up until midnight. She wanted to go to sleep and forget about everything. She is 8. Yikes. Apparently, her class had taken a math test before Christmas and she didn’t think she did well. We chatted about how worrying doesn’t solve anything and she felt much better. Her teacher later told me that this particular test is one that allows each student to keep going until they get a certain amount of questions wrong. Kaitlyn kept getting them right and took longer than other kids. She did well on the test but made assumptions and worried herself into a tizzy. Sounds familiar to me….

Worrying never accomplishes anything. I told my girls this week that the next time they find themselves nervous about something, they should ask themselves, “Is there anything I can do?” If there is, they should do it. If not, they should move on. There are certainly times we can do something, but plenty more where we can’t. This is a good method of determining if the anxiety is valid or not.

I recently began letting go of the future. As I said in a post a few weeks ago, we are hoping to foster and/or adopt a child or children. We haven’t been to the information session or done the many hours of training yet, but by golly, I had it all figured out. In the summer of 2018, we were going to adopt a 5 or 6 year old from the foster care system. I would find a new part time job, since I can’t take days off in my current one. Seriously, it was a definite plan! It got too overwhelming, wondering if all the exact pieces were going to fall into place. I decided to wait and see. We will start fostering at the right time. If the option to adopt comes up and it feels right, we will do it. Children’s lives are too important to God to let them fall through the cracks. He will work it all out. In the meantime, I am excited instead of a ball of nerves.

None of us can change the score on a past test. We can’t take back words spoken in anger. BUT we can study hard or differently for the next test, and we can apologize and make it up to our friend. We can’t wonder and fret about the future productively, but we can make wise decisions now. The future is safely in God’s hands. Let’s leave it there.

Linking with Holley Gerth

More Flies with Honey

When you accuse someone of doing something bad, do they admit they did it? When you tell them they are a bad person, do they readily agree with you? Probably not. When we humans are confronted, our instinct is to defend ourselves. Even if we did what they are saying, we think they have no right to come in here accusing us!

In church on Sunday, the topic in both our children and adult services was Zacchaeus. The kids service had a skit about him that was hilarious, but that is neither here nor there. Something occurred to me. Not only did Jesus see Zacchaeus when he climbed that sycamore tree, he didn’t condemn him. He said, “Zacchaeus, you come down. For I’m going to your house today.” (Sorry, I couldn’t resist putting the song in your head.)

What would have happened if Jesus had lectured the infamous tax collector about his wicked ways? Do you think he would have sheepishly told Jesus he was right? Most likely, he would have defended his thieving ways. “Well, Jesus, I needed all that extra money. You don’t know my bills!” Or “What right do you have to come accusing me? You just met me!” It would not have gone well.

Jesus was kind and showed that he loved this sinner, who probably felt like he was the worst of anyone around. Everyone there hated Zacchaeus and wanted nothing to do with him. Not Jesus. Jesus wanted everything to do with him!

How do you handle people when they let you down, lie to you, take something of yours, or hurt your feelings? Do you yell at them or show compassion? When someone disagrees with you, do you think about their side and why they feel that way, or do you assume there is nothing redeeming about them? I can tell you when you lash out at someone, they aren’t going to suddenly see things your way. They won’t agree that you are right, because you put them on the defensive.

Zacchaeus felt loved, seen, and known by Jesus because of one simple action Jesus took. Might we think twice the next time we think someone needs a good telling off? Would it be a better idea to take a deep breath and try to understand them? This person standing in front of us has a heart designed by God and lives a life we don’t have all the insight for.

If Jesus can know everything about Zacchaeus’ life and the condition of his heart and still love him, can we not show compassion to the person who cuts us off in traffic? Is it not possible to remember that we all make mistakes and cover over someone’s mistake with love? I guarantee the results will be better if we have compassion instead of judgment.

Is there someone in your life who routinely makes you angry? I suggest you begin praying for them and for your interactions with them. You can’t react like Jesus without His help. He will guide your words and help you show love and compassion!

Linking with Holley Gerth

Help Anyone and Everyone

Those who give to the poor will lack nothing, but those who close their eyes to them receive many curses. (Proverbs 28:27)

These days I feel like we are fighting a war within our country. Do we take care of our own citizens or do we help those who need it around the world? Should we feed the homeless, give the best medical care to veterans, and keep single mothers working so they can keep their families together? Do we need to accept all the refugees, feed starving children, and help the widowed and orphaned in another country? Everyone seems to have a different opinion.

I think the Bible makes it clear what God’s stance is: help others. God doesn’t seem to care so much whether someone is our next door neighbor or lives on the opposite side of the globe. He wants us to see needs and fill them.

Give money to a homeless person you walk by-awesome.

Deliver a meal to a family whose mom just had surgery-awesome.

Sponsor a child in Africa-awesome.

Buy fair trade items so a family can stay together-awesome.

There is no degree of awesomeness. If you help one person, you are helping God. Period. You aren’t more right than someone who helps differently than you. The only way someone is wrong is if they do nothing. We are all aware of how bad many people’s lives are. If we spend all of our time and money on ourselves, our lives won’t be fulfilling and other people will suffer.

My suggestion is to pick a cause that is important to you. Orphans, veterans, animals, women, homeless, and special needs. There are so many and at least one of them will call out to each of us. We are all put here with different passions and ideas. None of us have the same experiences and talents, so it is important that we all get in the game.

When I think of what makes my heart cry the most, it is families. I long to keep families intact when possible. I love purchasing fair trade products so women have jobs and are able to support their families. These women need training and education so they can continue to be moms. I love our sponsorships with organizations like Compassion so kids can get an education and food while living at home. I think we need to strengthen families here in the US too.

God wants all of us to contribute. We need to think of what issues He has placed on our hearts and do something about them. Whatever is the biggest burden we carry, that is where we individually should focus. Instead of saying someone else is wrong, we should try to make the world better, however we can.

When we see the pain in the world, people don’t need us blaming and name calling. They need our assistance. There is no right or wrong answer in who we should help. You do your part, and I’ll do mine. If we all work together, we can help the whole world. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Linking with Holley Gerth

Lesson from Tom Brady

After being in Georgia for 2 decades, it was exciting to see the Atlanta Falcons get to the Super Bowl, even though they lost. As I am like my Grandma, I like to pull for the underdog and the Falcons certainly qualified!

As the first half progressed and the Falcons were actually way up on the Patriots, the cameras would pan around the stadium. They kept showing the faces of players, and the Patriots were not looking happy. The Grandma part of me started feeling bad, but not for long. They have enough Super Bowl wins! 🙂

After the Patriots tied the score and then won in overtime, I did some thinking. We all have choices when life gets hard. There are times life will manhandle us, (like the Falcons defense did to Tom Brady.) How we handle those times is crucial to success.

One option we all have is to give up in defeat. We can say we are tired of fighting, we aren’t good enough, or any number of excuses. We can return to our safe place and lick our wounds in privacy. This way won’t lead to excellence, but it is always an option.

The other way is the way the Patriots went. They let the setbacks of the first half of the game drive them forward. Instead of curling up in a ball and admitting defeat, they figured out what wasn’t working. They never gave up and wore down the Falcons until they eventually won.

Determination is a skill we must have in life. We need to know what our goal is and keep our focus on it at all times. Now, I don’t plan on playing football, but I have goals in life. I can get distracted or discouraged if I let myself. I can feel like I am not doing as good as the next person and give up. Or I can fight.

My goals are pretty simple. I want to have a strong marriage and raise kids who are kind and loving. I want to show love to others who need it. How I do that may change, but those goals don’t. If I ever give up on those goals, game over. Instead, when setbacks happen, I want to dust myself off and move forward. I have failed many times, but each failure just means I need to change my method.

How about you? Do you want to allow failure to push you to the next level? Remember, who you are and what you do matter. Make your time on earth count, and don’t give up!

Birthday Love Note

My child, You had a birthday this week! That day is so special to me because I designed you. I thoughtfully put everything in you that you would need in this world. I gave you a heart that beats for me. I included a brain to think and reason and figure out ways to help others. Because of My work, you have the capacity to make others feel comfortable and appreciated. Please don’t discount any of that.

The day you came into the world is important to people. Let them show it. Let them celebrate you and the life you live. Some knew you from that day and others a shorter time, but you are special to them. Brushing off the day is not something you need to do. Just because you are not a child anymore doesn’t mean the day means less. In some ways it means more, because there are more people affected by you. Just like you love to celebrate their birthday, they want to celebrate yours.

This world has so many stressful days, so it is all the more important to embrace your birthday. Often you feel unseen or unappreciated. When people give you a card, a cupcake, or a birthday greeting, I want you to soak it up. They are loving you for Me. They are showing My love for you in tangible ways. Don’t make them think it is silly. These words from them mean a lot. In the dark moments, you can look back on this day and remember how very loved you are.

When someone says, “Happy Birthday,” please smile back and thank them. Don’t make a self deprecating remark or tell them it is just another day. It is not an ordinary day, for you are not ordinary. Everything I create is special and one of a kind. YOU are one of a kind. I put you right where you are and right when you are because of My plan for your life. There is so much good in you and so much of Myself. I want you to see all you are and all the ways you are loved. Let people show you that love. For Me.

I never regret designing you. In fact I smile when I think of you. So do many others. I have you celebrate your birthday so you never forget that.

I will cherish you forever,

Your Father

Linking with Holley Gerth

Attack of Unbelief

The world is full of misguided beliefs these days. Many people don’t believe in God, and others believe in Him, but believe in themselves more. They feel scared and helpless and decide that, if there was a God, He wouldn’t let bad things happen. That is where we come in.

Notice how when something bad happens, people disappear? When we need to talk something through or need a favor, they are no where to be found? Let’s be the one who sticks around, closer than a brother, as Proverbs says.

I have friends I can count on no matter what. Even when I have been awake half the night and look scary, they still have me over for coffee to figure things out. I can call them to come over, and they will drop everything. When I need a friend, I know them by name.

When I want to be a friend, I try to be honest and vulnerable. People can tell when we put up walls or give a fake answer. I don’t want to be plastic. Plastic will melt or break when tested. I want to give answers that can guide and will hold up when questioned.

Lately, I have been hearing the word unbelief in my mind. There are times when I doubt and have questions. God gave me a brain and wants me to use it. I don’t think He gets angry with me over my lack of faith. If I bring it to Him instead of wallowing in it, God will honor my relationship with Him. He helps me straighten out my frantic side.

If someone I know is having trouble believing and trusting for the best, I shouldn’t judge them for it. I should walk alongside them. Listen to them. Give my opinion only if asked. If they need time to work through pain or anger, the best thing I can do is make sure they know they have it. It can takes time to work toward faith. It isn’t always instant and unwavering.

I love the story in Mark, where a father brings his son to Jesus for healing. He tells Jesus, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief.” How often are we that honest in front of others? How often are we even that honest with Jesus? We put on a show and act like nothing gets to us. “Nothing makes ME have doubts.” Well, I will tell you I doubt. Any time I am fearful, that is a lack of faith. Any time I wonder what is going to happen in this country, that is my lack of faith coming through. When I wonder how things can ever get better, I have unbelief.

When I want God to use me to the fullest, I have to let Him guide me through unbelief. I have to be vulnerable to those around me and show them that we can bring those doubts we have to God. Then I have to ask God for help to overcome that unbelief.

There is nothing wrong with questions and doubts, but what we do with them matters. And how we help others with their faith matters too.