Finding Comfort

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I have written about this before, but I am a self-diagnosed stress eater.  When I get upset about work, overwhelmed by parenting,  or mad at my husband, I will sit and polish off a bag of chip with dip.  I won’t stop until the whole bag is gone! (I inherited this from my mother!)

Just the other day, I was reading a devotional.  I believe it was something written by Joyce Meyer, but I can’t remember for sure.  It said that each of us has an unfilled place in our soul.  This place longs for comfort.  Some of us fill it with food, others with retail therapy.  A few try to fill it in more dangerous ways with drugs or alcohol.

A minister at a church I attended years ago used to say that each of us had a “God-sized” hole inside of us.  This emptiness can bring despair and misery into our lives.  From this emptiness we have potential to make dangerous decisions, trying to fill the void.  I have known many young girls who try to fill that void with affection from men.  Occasionally, they get lucky and find a kind, caring, loving man to pacify the emptiness.  However, if the whole is God-sized, no human will ever completely fill the void.  No bag of chips will either.

We are created with a place in our souls to be filled by God.  We can search and search for other ways to fill it, but nothing will satisfy our soul like God can.  God intends for us to find comfort in Him. I am not saying that eating chips and dip in moderation is a bad thing, but it won’t fix your problems!  Believe me!  I have tried!  In fact, it just makes you sluggish the next day.

I believe God sends us comfort in many ways.  I believe that my husband was a gift from God.  He can’t fill the God-sized hole, but he tries to comfort me when I need it, encourages me, and helps me navigate through this life.  I often can find small doses of comfort in sitting on my back deck with a cup of hot coffee as the sun rises.  But this amount of comfort cannot fill the God-sized hole either.  Only a relationship with God can.

Here are some verses that remind us of God’s power and desire to fill the void within us.

John 14:1-3 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.

Romans 8:38-39 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

James 1:2-4 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

The next time you reach for the bag of chips, or seek comfort in your own way, reach for God.  Strengthen your relationship with Him and find comfort in Him.

Blessings!

Called to Action or Sit Back and Wait

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Wait for the Lord;
    be strong and take heart
    and wait for the Lord. Psalms 27:14

I will be the first to admit I do not know what God wants me to do with my life!  From day to day, I think it is changing. Some days I feel like He is calling me to get up off my couch and DO something.  Other days, I feel like He is saying to me, “Just wait.  The timing isn’t right yet.”

Last night I saw the VERY FIRST EVER printed copy of the book I co-wrote in the spring.  We met to put together a marketing plan.  Since all proceeds go directly to my church, a committee will help move along this marketing phase.

As I sat and listened to the options, it was clear to me that I have very little control over this process.  I wanted to jump up and DO something, but I have to wait.  I could clearly discern from God that He did not need my actions yet.  I felt like He was whispering to me, “Get ready.  You will need to act soon!”

The day will come when I need to travel around to local churches and try to market the book.  We have high hopes that this book will make enough money to help us build a church building.  However, I don’t have the power to make that happen!  God does, but not me.

We usually think that God is calling us to act, to do something, to make a change, to help someone. My calling from God, for now, seems to be to wait.  Brace yourselves! When the wait is over, God’s plan will be amazing!

Blessings!

Decisions…In Which Direction Should I Go?

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Okay!  I have a major decision to make!  This decision is career altering, and it could mean big changes for my life and the life of my kids.  I have the opportunity to get a second masters degree that would allow me to move into a different position.  Pros:  More money. Cons: Working 12 months instead of summers off with my kids.

Actually there are many pros and cons to taking on this new degree.  The problem seems to be that I just don’t know what to do.

I am not making a decision between a sin-filled path or righteous path.  That would be easy.  I can see opportunities for God to work through my life with either choice.  I have prayed about it, but I haven’t heard or felt an answer for or against either choice.

So what do we, as Christians, do when we are faced with major decisions?  We wait, patiently.  I know, you are probably reacting the way I did by trying to dismiss that as a bad idea.

But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. Isaiah 40:31 (KJV)

We seem to have in our head that in order to do God’s work or follow God’s path, we have to act and act now!  That isn’t always the case.  Remember, God’s timing is perfect.

As for my decision, I will wait.  I won’t make a decision yet.  I will continue to pray and wait for the Lord to give me my answer.  It will come, eventually!

Blessings!

Seeking, Finding, and Celebrating Our Joy

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Wow!  Yesterday’s post touched a soft spot for some of us!  Comments came pouring into my email.  A few posted to the blog.  It seemed that everyone had something to say about waking up and focusing on the joy in their lives.

I think my favorite had to be Rebeca’s comment.  You can find her at http://rebecajones.wordpress.com/.

“Beautifully said! How do I find the joy of the Lord? I think you nailed it in one word: seeking. If I actively look for the joy in my life, it is there. It is no less available if I do not seek it, I simply miss out on enjoying it. (Does that make any sense at all?) Nice reminder to seek His joy today. Thanks!”

She is absolutely correct.  We must seek the joy in our lives.  Opportunities to enjoy our lives present themselves each day.  We are commanded by God to be joyful.  Therefore, we must look for those joyful moments.  Once we find them, we must celebrate!

Here is the verse from yesterday.

Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10

We are to celebrate!  Then we are to send the celebration to those that have nothing prepared.  

Here is my interpretation:  Celebrate and invite others!  Once you establish the joy in your life today, go find someone who could use a good dose of joy.  Share the celebration.  Don’t let others drag you down; lift them up!  Each time we open our mouths to speak, we can either lift someone up or tear them down.  Use your voice today to share joy!

Blessings!

Motivated by Joy

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Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10

What motivates you to get out of bed in the morning? Many of us can label ourselves as either night owls or morning people.  What if the secret could be found in what motivates us to get up?

How did you wake up? Did an alarm wake you up?  Children come bouncing into your room? Spouse snore until you awoke? Are you one of those lucky people who gets up when your body naturally wakes up?

My alarm goes off at 5am on days that I work.  I get up, fix a pot of coffee, read my Bible readings for the day, spend a few quiet moments in prayer, work on the computer while drinking coffee, and then get ready for work.  Eventually, I get around to waking up the rest of the house.

This morning, when the alarm blared, I turned it off and just laid in the bed.  I thought about resetting the alarm and skipping my writing time.  This is the first day after a long weekend of sleeping later than usual.  I tried to justify staying in bed.  However, I realized that the joy I find in my quiet mornings motivates me to get up each day.

It is so much easier to move through life when we find joy in our daily schedules.  Other than my quiet mornings, I find joy in playing with my kids after the dinner rush.  I also find joy in the few moments I get to spend with my husband each evening once the kids are in bed.  I find joy in working with my fifth graders each day.

Seeking joy in our daily lives motivates us to keep going.  It fuels our soul and replenishes the weariness.  God tells us to seek joy in Him.  We can find joy in our relationship with Him and His promises for our future.  His blessings pour joy into our lives, and we are instructed to revel in our joy.  As Nehemiah said, “…the joy of the Lord is our strength.” That joy gets us going each day.  It keeps us going when we hit hard times.

How do you find joy in the Lord in your life?

Blessings!

Prayers and Nightmares

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Matthew 21:22 And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.”

Read more: http://www.whatchristianswanttoknow.com/10-awesome-bible-verses-about-the-power-of-prayer/#ixzz2YSbciVHf

I love when God teaches my son lessons about the power of prayer.  I learned long ago that I cannot parent without the grace and help of my Heavenly Father.   This week He pulled through for me again!

Superhero Son is struggling with nightmares about fire.  This stems from a few recent incidents.

We had a conversation not too long ago about why we can’t play in the yard when it is thundering.  I had to explain that when we hear thunder, it could mean lightning will begin soon.  He didn’t understand electricity very much, but he understood me when I said that lightning can cause fires.

A few days later he saw a forest fire on the news.  You could see homes going up in flames in the video footage.

This combination absolutely terrified Superhero Son so much that he began to have nightmares about trees falling and catching his house on fire.  He even had one nightmare at his sitter’s house during naptime.  The nightmares became so frequent that he was getting out of his bed and coming into my room every night. Finally, he decided he didn’t want to go to sleep in his bed.

What is a momma to do? My four year old was refusing to go to sleep in his own room, a room where he has slept since he was a couple of weeks old.

I got on his bed and told him to pray to God about his bad dreams.  I helped him pray that God would protect our house and send him sweet dreams.  He asked to dream of swimming pools, candy, and cupcakes.  The result?  He slept through the night for the first time in days.  He hasn’t had a nightmare since.

I am so grateful that God helps me parent my kids.  I cannot teach the lessons he needs.  I need help.  I know I could not do this alone!

Blessings!

Don’t be the “Average” Christian

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Amazing! I hope I can put into practice the words I read in my Bible!  Anna wrote this beautifully over at Journey of Faith.

talk the talkSometimes I wonder what Christians would look like if they stopped reciting the scriptures they have memorized in their head and start living by them, literally.

If instead of spouting out words when they seem to fit the occasion, we turn those words into action.

Because often times I see so many discouraged, purposeless, fearful, hopeless, faithless people and I wonder why.

It makes me wonder if we actually believe what we read in our Bible’s every day.

It makes me wonder how we would live if we lived by God’s Word, instead of read it for our morning devotion only to forget to follow it a few hours later.

If you believed that God cares about you more than you can imagine (1 Peter 5:7), that you have nothing to worry about because He will provide for you (Matthew 6:25-30), and that He has a…

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The Gift of Grace: Easily Received, Not Easily Given

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ballerina

When I was a kid, I thought grace applied to ballerinas only.  When I heard about God’s grace, I thought it meant His beauty.  I didn’t understand that grace is a gift He gives to us. I don’t remember the moment when I understood that grace had more to do with attitude than beauty, but I know that this is an area in which God is still working in my life.

I tend to be a believer in “you reap what you sow.”  I want those who work the hardest to gain the most.  I want those who follow the rules to come out ahead.  However, I am starting to understand God’s grace.

My pastor has said that the difference in mercy and grace is simple.  Mercy is not getting the punishment we do deserve; grace is getting the good things we don’t deserve.

I am aware of the many blessings I have because of God’s grace.  I wasn’t the perfect child, but I was given awesome parents and a great brother.  I am not the perfect wife, but I was given an amazing husband.  I am not the perfect mother, but my children are among the greatest blessings I could ever imagine.  I didn’t work hard or follow the rules to gain these people in my life. Their presence can only be explained by God’s grace.

Having accepted the fact that God has shown unrelentless grace in my life, I have to give grace to others.  Here is where God is working on me!  I am quick to yell at my kids, quick to fuss at my husband, and way too quick to judge others.  I pray that God helps me daily to remember to offer grace to others.

How has God shown his amazing grace in your life?

Blessings!

What is a Devotional?

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All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching,rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17, NIV)

Superhero Son asked me what “devotional” means.  He asked because he heard me talking about the upcoming book, With Unveiled Face, which is a daily devotional.  I tried to explain and found that my explanation was crazy complicated.  I decided my explanation better fit my adult audience rather than a four year old.

We learn from the Bible, Psalm 1 for example, that reading scripture allows a life source into our daily routine.  This life source is like a tree growing near a river.  The constant flow of information sustains us throughout our lives.

Devote means to concentrate upon or dedicate to something.  It comes from a Latin word from which we get the word “vow.”  I always thought of a vow as being a promise.  Therefore, if we are devoting our lives to living for God, we are promising to follow Him.  He explicitly tells us over and over to dive into scripture.  The New Testament tells us that scripture is “God-breathed.”  Whether you believe that God guided the hands that wrote the Bible or guided the decisions of which books to include in the Bible, does not matter. What matters is whether or not you devote your time to reading His Word.

A daily devotional assists us in that promise.  I don’t always use a daily devotional.  Sometimes I work my way through a Bible study or simply read through certain books of the Bible.  I bet you could have guessed this, but Proverbs is among my favorite books.  I am currently working through a study from my Bible app on my tablet.  I love technology!

My revised explanation for Superhero Son was that a devotional is a book we read everyday that helps us understand the Bible.  He proceeded to tell me that I wouldn’t need it if my Bible had pictures like his does.  If only it were that simple!

Do you study the Bible daily?  How has it impacted your life?

The Beliefs and Explorations of a Child

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I am amazed daily by my children.  Two of the greatest lessons they have taught me is how to explore this world and how to believe.

This past weekend, my family of four traveled to the lake.  The condos where we stay have a private beach where I took the kids in the mornings before my husband was awake enough to make plans for the day.  This was the first time Darling Daughter really played in sand.  She was so funny trying to figure out what all she could do with it.  She tried her best to clean up all of the sand by filling up all of our buckets.

I just sat back and watched her try new things with sand.  I realized that we should all explore our world this way.  Sometimes we are too afraid of getting dirty.  We won’t just dig in and see what life has to offer us.

Superhero Son is my instructor on believing in what I thought to be impossible.  He thinks Jesus is the greatest superhero in the world.  He is probably right!  When I feel frustrated or powerless toward a situation, he will tell me to just get Jesus to help me.  He demonstrates total submission and faith in God.

We were reading a library book last night.  Superhero Son asked me to read all of the words on the first page, the title page.  I told him about the author.  He asked what “author” meant.  I tried to explain that the author was the person who wrote the book, but a publisher made lots of copies of it.  He immediately told me that I was an author because I wrote a book, and maybe a publisher would make lots of copies so kids all over earth could read it.  I told him that would be nice, but unlikely.  He told me that Jesus could probably take it all around earth for me if I asked Him for help.

I just sat and stared at him for his complete faith that Jesus would do such a thing.  I realized that I need to listen to my kids and believe a little more in the power of God.

What lessons do your children teach you?

Blessings!