Don’t Wait Until You are in Prison

“I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all things through Him who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:11-13)

Paul wrote this from prison. Many Americans in middle class housing can’t say this. Contentment really is a learned attitude!

Being content means acknowledging that we have what we need. There will always be things out there that we would like, but it doesn’t mean we can’t be happy with what we have. No matter how little any of us thinks we have compared to someone else, we have more than we need.

If we have food for today, we have enough. If we have a roof over our heads and clothes on our backs, we have enough. If we have money to get us through today, we have enough. Really, none of us knows what is going to happen today or tomorrow. We could win the lottery and have millions of dollars. We could lose our jobs and have to start back at square one. We could pay off our mortgage after years or have a storm take out the whole house. Good and bad will always happen on the earth.

When we only see the lack of nice things and not the abundance of regular things, we aren’t acknowledging God’s love and care for us. Ultimately it is up to Him to provide and up to us to praise Him for it. He won’t let us down or forget about us.

God never expects us to go through life alone. He doesn’t expect us to be strong or have patience, joy and peace without Him. He provides all that! Everything we have in life is from God and all He asks in return is for us to truly feel it is enough. A big bank account or a small one is enough because God can take away or multiply. Why should we worry?

The next time you worry about having what you need, remember the times God came through. Woven through your life are times you doubted and God came to the rescue. Hang on to those times and know you aren’t in this alone. Know you have all you need.

Linking with Holley Gerth

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To the One who Made Me Different

God, I thank You for making me different. Thank You for making me feel like I don’t fit in and for reminding me that I am created to stand out. You made me who I am and not someone else.

You put me on a different journey than everyone else. I get caught up in what others are doing and making and winning. I falsely believe that I am not enough, but I am enough in You. I can only compare my life to….my life. It is mine to share with You. It is mine to follow You and shine for You. No one else can do it quite like I can.

The world can make me feel discouraged and alone, but You are always beside me. You whisper in my ear of Your love for me. Sometimes I am too busy to hear You and miss out on that love. When I pause and listen for Your heartbeat, it is there. Steady. Steadying me. Your presence is all I need.

When I don’t feel like enough, it takes away from Your design. You put me here in this place and gave me a purpose. Me doubting myself does nothing but drive a wedge between You and me. Your creation of me is wonderful. I know that full well.

The days I forget of Your great love are forgiven once I come back to You. Your delight in me knows no bounds. Great are You, and greatly to be praised.

My path is like no other, and that is a good thing. It is good because YOU are good. Your love is never ending. Your peace and joy are mine to share and give to others. I am everything in You because You are everything in me. Thank You forever.

Linking with Holley Gerth

Distractio-What was I Saying?

Do you ever think about what distracts you? Do you think about the wasted minutes in your day that could be used to get closer to God? Here is a list of my distractions.

-Too much social media scrolling and internet surfing.

-Negative thoughts that lead me down dark paths about my life. (for example: my health, marriage and children, and even what someone has said or implied about me.)

-Thinking I have it all covered, so time with Jesus isn’t as needed. Ahem.

-Knowing I have no control, so why bother with this if stuff is just going to happen anyways?

-TV shows that aren’t gratifying.

-Friendships with people who only bring me down or who think God is not real.

-Thinking I don’t have time, but then frittering time away.

-Assuming I will fit it in later in the day and then I forget.

-Other people don’t read the Bible and THEY seem fine.

-Yelling at my girls and then allowing guilt to creep between God and me.

-I am not in a bad place now, so why?

-God and I are good so I can go a day or so with no time with Him.

-God will forgive me if I skip today.

While none of these are horrible, none are good either. They are all lies meant to deceive me into distancing myself from God. I really don’t have any excuses to not spend time with and praise my God. What distracts you?

Linking with Holley Gerth

 

Be all There

Here is a weekend challenge: Do something just for fun and be present.

Hike with your family or best friend. Go at the right pace for you and enjoy the nature around you.

Have a bonfire and roast marshmallows. Try rolling the marshmallows in my husband’s concoction of cinnamon, paprika, and chili powder before roasting. I promise it is good.

Host a tea party for your kids. Make sure to also serve scones or some other sweet treat.

Drink coffee. That’s it. No social media scrolling. No standing over the sink making breakfast while you drink it. Just enjoy the flavor and the feel of the warm mug.

When your child tries to tell you something that is important to them, really listen. (Unless it involves Minecraft. Then you have my permission to zone out.)

Meet with a friend for good conversation and some belly laughs.

Sit with a book and read until you decide to stop, unless you have small children who decide for you.

Walk around your favorite store with no intention of buying anything. Look and really see what is there with no agenda.

If you like house work, knock yourself out. Organize, purge, pull weeds, whatever makes you feel satisfied. Then come to my house!

Create something that isn’t for a specific purpose. Do it just for fun, even if you aren’t the best at it. Maybe especially if you aren’t the best at it.

When you take time for yourself, the stress of the world melts away and your priorities become clear. Take care of yourself, because this is the only body and mind you get.

I’ll go first.

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Linking with Holley Gerth

Slighted

People tell me how great a mom I am and how great my kids are doing often. What do I listen to though? I often only hear the voices telling me the opposite.

On the way to church Sunday, my husband and I were talking about where we are going to put cookbooks. Twelve year old Lauren chimes in from the back seat, “We use cookbooks? I thought we only use Pinterest!” When I told her that I do, in fact, use cook books, her response was that she thought we either go out to eat or I bring leftovers from work. Ouch.

Cooking dinner is not my favorite part of house work. It feels like I can never make meals everyone will eat. If I can make something my pickiest child will eat, someone else will have an issue with it. When I do meal planning each weekend for the week ahead, I often feel deflated already. I put a lot of work in our meals, but my child picked at that most sensitive spot in my armor. I wanted to cry. Or yell at her. Somehow it made it worse that she didn’t seem to understand she had hurt my feelings.

Later in the morning, during the service, our pastor had us quietly listen for God. When I did, I heard the word “cherished.” No matter what anyone says or how they make me feel, it really doesn’t matter. I am cherished by God. We humans are fickle and don’t know everything, (especially these of us who think we do,) so we can’t judge our worth by what others say. The only opinion that truly matters is God’s, and He thinks we are special and made in His image.

Hopefully the next time I feel slighted by someone, I will be able to brush it off. I want to remember that God sees all of me and loves me still. His is the voice I want to hear above the rest.

Linking with Holley Gerth

He Remembered

The story of Hannah and Samuel is a story of hope, perseverance, and God coming through. We can all relate to something in Hannah’s life: Her simple dreams, her unfulfilled longings, or maybe seeing every one else having what she wanted. Her humble life made a huge impact for the kingdom of God after all was said and done.

1 Samuel 1 tells about how Hannah was unable to bear children for years, while her husband’s other wife kept popping them out. (Yes, that is the technical term used by the author.) Hannah had her husband’s love, but her heart longed to also be a mama. It must have been sheer torture to see children running around that were not hers. When you think about the culture of the day, a woman’s purpose was to have kids. There were no fertility treatments available. She would have been looked at like there was something wrong with her for her to be punished like this.

Poor Hannah.

Many of us today feel forgotten and overlooked. Sometimes it is because we have a desperate desire for a spouse or child. It may be for a close friend or a fulfilling job. None of these things are bad, and yet they are denied to many of us.

Verse 19 is my favorite verse in the story. “The Lord remembered her.” Now, God had not forgotten Hannah in the years leading up to her conceiving Samuel. He knew everything about her and her heartache. He knew this time tested her faith and strengthened her for whatever may lie ahead. It also gave her a great story for when other people came up to her at the well with their own tales of sadness. She would be able to say to them, “I kept praying for a baby and God gave me more than I asked for.” Maybe she even dropped the mic after that. What more would need to be said?

The problem we often have is we give up asking for what we want or don’t even ask for it in the first place. Hannah didn’t give up her dream and she didn’t blame God. She didn’t decide God was against her. She simply kept pouring her heart out to God and trusting Him for the outcome. Samuel’s name literally means, “I asked the Lord for him.” She put it out there for all to know.

God gave Hannah the gift she had pined for. He didn’t hold back on her and He won’t hold out on you. Trust God and hold tight to His promises. When you do, you won’t be able to hold the blessings He pours over you.

Linking with Holley Gerth

Gardening and Electronics

Linger. Persist. Prevail. Stand. Endure. Perch. Reside. Remain. When we remain with Jesus, we stay well watered and nurtured. When we pull away and do our own thing, we wither.

Jesus is the vine and we are the branches. I don’t know about you, but I don’t think about vines and plants that much. That may be because I kill everything I touch, but maybe not. I love the idea of remaining in Jesus and Him in me, but a vine is difficult to picture.

Thinking of Jesus as my power source makes sense to me. When I stay plugged in to Him, I am calm and at peace. I have more wisdom and understanding and can share it with others. However, the days I don’t make time to connect to my power source, I am more frazzled and easily irritated. I make bad choices and don’t give people the benefit of the doubt.

I don’t let my phone battery get low, so why would I let my spiritual battery drain? Isn’t the condition of my soul worth more than a Facebook status?

People fall away from their faith when life gets hard. I want to be one who stays strong and remains with Jesus. I want to be one who bears fruit and whose actions lead to big things being done for His kingdom. I want to be one who lets Jesus shape her and who wants what He wants.

I don’t want to lose my connection by wandering too far from my Wi-Fi signal. I can’t allow myself to put down my charger because I decide I am fine without it. On my own I am unable to do anything, just like my electronics need their sources.

When I have endured with Jesus the rest of my time here on earth, I will have much waiting for me in heaven. I can’t forget my daily doses of Jesus or forget all He has done for me or else I will strive to live on my own power. I will wither like a branch who has lost its vine or a phone who has lost its power cord. Whether you relate to plants or electronics better, both of these are bad outcomes.

If you are an iPhone or a leafy branch, there is only one good option. Stick close to Jesus, your source of life, and you will thrive and maybe even light up the world.

Linking with Holley Gerth