Good News

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I can hardly watch the news anymore. It’s depressing. All the hate, needless violence, and anger are unbearable. I see evil being embraced, virtue being mocked, campaigns of character assassination, and Christianity being dismissed as old fashioned and, even, hateful. It’s would be so easy to get overwhelmed with all the negative if I didn’t have good news.

The good news is Christ. The good news is salvation. The good news is that even when we are being pushed, pulled, mocked, or persecuted; we are not crushed, despairing, abandoned or destroyed. 

We have Christ in us. We rise up in the power of His Holy Spirit to face another day. We cannot be destroyed by the enemy.

As believers, we should not be surprised at the trajectory that the world is on. It’s in the Bible. God is not surprised, pacing the floor of Heaven, or wringing His hands over the condition of the world. He wrote down the events a long time ago through godly men.

Sweet warrior friend, do not despair. You are on the side of Right. Continue to fight on your knees. Continue to share the love of Christ.

When you see evil spreading, know that God is still working His will. Know that you are His Child and, someday soon, you will be with Him. That is good news.

 

24 Hours

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For everything that happens in life—there is a season, a right time for everything under heaven_

There is a time for everything,

    and a season for every activity under the heavens:

    a time to be born and a time to die,

    a time to plant and a time to uproot,

    a time to kill and a time to heal,

    a time to tear down and a time to build,

    a time to weep and a time to laugh,

    a time to mourn and a time to dance,

    a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,

    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,

    a time to search and a time to give up,

    a time to keep and a time to throw away,

    a time to tear and a time to mend,

    a time to be silent and a time to speak,

    a time for war and a time for peace.

 Time. There never seems to be enough.

Everyday the Lord gives us 24 hours to do what we need to do; what He has called us to do. Every purpose has a season. Life is constantly in a state of flux. Children are born, learn to walk, go to school, graduate, get married and the cycle begins again.

Seasons of life pass like water down a rushing river. It seems like yesterday, I was holding my firstborn, gazing upon the wonder of this precious, miraculous life. Now, she is a freshman in college. Our tiny triplets are juniors in high school, thinking about college and next steps to adulthood.

My parents grew old when I wasn’t looking. All of the sudden, there are health concerns, medical directives, and unspoken contemplations about the “what if…”

There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under heaven….

 A reminder that nothing on this earth lasts forever. Everything has a season. A beginning and an end. Childhood ends. Youth slowly transitions into mid-life. Suddenly, without warning, we have become our parents…then, our grandparents.

My parents and both sets of my grandparents have passed on legacies. Legacies of faith and faithfulness. Long-lasting marriages. Hard work and grit that provided for their families. Was it always sunshine and roses? No. Some of the time there was exhaustion and conflict. But they persevered through the difficult times. They did the best they could with the time they had. They lived life well. 

A time to be born and a time to die….

In between birth and death, there is life.

I’ve been thinking about “a life well lived” as I reflect back on my own life.

Between my birth and my death, what kind of life do I want to live? Do I want to live a life to the fullest? Do I want to fill the in-between with fulfilling God’s purpose? Do I want to have a life well lived? YES, I DO!

The 24 hours that we are given everyday is enough.

 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them…

Maybe we need to take a few things off of our over-full plates.

Maybe we need to start something that we have been putting off out of fear.

a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing…

Maybe we need to mend a rift in a relationship.

Maybe we need to end or release a relationship.

a time to search and a time to give up…

Maybe we need to look for the good in life and stop pursuing toxic people

a time to keep and a time to throw away…

Maybe it’s time to cling to what is not tangible: love, peace, joy…

Maybe we need to stop looking for empty happiness in things.

Things that we cannot take with us when life is over.

a time to tear and a time to mend…

Maybe we need to tear down walls that keep us isolated

Maybe we need to allow the Lord to mend a broken heart.

a time to be silent and a time to speak…

Maybe we need to learn that fewer words are best in conflict

Maybe we need to speak up for the defenseless and speak against evil

a time for war and a time for peace

Maybe it’s time that we go to war on our knees in prayer.

Maybe it’s time to make peace within the body of Christ.

24 hours is enough to live the life that I have been called to.

You have the same 24 hours. What are you going to do with them?

The Life Coach

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Proverbs 22_6 The Voice Teach a child how to follow the right way; even when he is old, he will stay on course.

The past 8 months have been interesting for our family; specifically for my husband and I. Our oldest, Faye, is nearing the end of her first year of college. It seems like we dropped her off last week instead of last August. The apprehensive, slightly frightened girl that we drove to college came home last week for spring break. The person who walked in the door was a confident, more mature young woman. The growth and changes are really quite amazing.

The biggest changes have happened in our relationship with her. We are slowly shifting to “life coaches” rather than “hands-on parents”. It’s not a process that happens in one day. It takes time.

Over the past several months, she has faced some challenges, made mistakes, and had some dorm drama to deal with. It would be so easy as a parent to jump in, tell her exactly what to do and “fix” all the problems. We had to refrain from doing that. Instead, we started asking her questions.

“How can we show up for you?”

“What do you need from us right now?”

“What do you think is the best strategy to solve this?”

“How can you avoid this in the future?”

“Where can you get help with this on campus?”

“Are you wanting advice or just to vent?”

Asking questions instead of providing instant answers has forced her to figure out problems. She has a lot of knowledge, tools and experience on which to draw from because we have trained her in the ways of the Lord. We have shown her how to work through problems and deal with relationship conflicts.

As our children grow and mature, we have to start trusting them to make their own way. It’s slow and, often, painful. We have to sit back and watch them succeed or fail on their own without rushing in to shield them from consequences. It’s hard. But I know that because we have done our very best to raise her in a loving, Christian home with Biblical values, the Lord will be faithful to us and to her.

Skin Deep

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let your adornment be what’s inside—the real you, the lasting beauty of a gracious and quiet spirit, in which God delights.

1 Peter 3:3-4 Don’t focus on decorating your exterior by doing your hair or putting on fancy jewelry or wearing fashionable clothes; let your adornment be what’s inside—the real you, the lasting beauty of a gracious and quiet spirit, in which God delights.. Rather it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.

Several years ago, I was going through Beth Moore’s Esther: It’s Tough Being a Woman. It’s a spiritually challenging study. Such a needed study for today’s women who are constantly bombarded with the message of “you are not enough”. We are constantly being told that we need to be thinner, blonder, taller, richer, healthier, more fashionable, workout more, be more accomplished, and more educated.

One point that Beth Moore brings up that has really stuck with me is this: “It’s tough being a woman in a world where beauty is a treatment.”

Americans spent upwards of $11 BILLION on cosmetic surgery. Now, I’m not talking about reconstructive surgery due to catastrophic incidents that cause physical injuries or deformities like breast cancer, burn victims or car accidents. I’m talking about elective surgeries. These include 13 million cosmetic procedures like facelifts, 286,000 breast augmentations, and 6.1 MILLION Botox injections. Americans also spend over $2.6 BILLION per year on gym memberships. Women in America spend $426 BILLION on cosmetics every year.

Now before you think that I am against these types of things; let me set you straight. I am not giving up my make up, facial creams, gym membership, my collection of shoes, my hair coloring appointments or my Spanx. I feel no conviction or guilt about using them.

Look at what the verse says: Don’t FOCUS.

When we place too much focus on the outward; then we start to find our worth and identity in the outward.

My hair, makeup, clothes, etc. don’t define who I am. Christ is my identity. Redeemed daughter of the King is my status. My worth is found in the ultimate price that Christ paid.

Peter wasn’t against those things either. He was basically saying, “Ladies, you are beautiful from the inside out. Being so elaborate in your dress, hairstyles and jewelry is distracting from who you really are. The work that Christ is doing in you through your words, your countenance and your actions is what God values.”

I must admit that this is something that I have to remind myself of often. I have to fight my insecure self. That little nagging voice that says, “You should be thinner. You have smoother skin. You have cellulite (hence the Spanx). You’re not as together as you should be. Should you be wearing that?” Oh, that voice! It sounds just like me! I know that I am not alone in this struggle.

Our beauty will fade. Our breasts cease to be pert and slide sideways into our armpits when we lay down. (You know exactly what I’m talking about!) Our hair will become less shiny and full. Our eyes will need glasses (or in my case, tri-focals!) Our thighs might look like a relief map. Our hands and feet may have more spots than a leopard.

All these things can happen. And probably will. Maybe they have already started to happen. Let me remind you of Psalm 45: 11 “Let the King be enthralled by your beauty.”

The Lord is enthralled with your beauty! He loves you body, mind and soul. You are his beloved daughter. You are enough.

If all we have is our outward appearance; then we are beggars indeed.

Proverbs 31:25a, 30. She is clothed with strength and dignity….Charm is deceptive, and beauty if fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.

Twisted Scripture

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@Lifeinthecarsonvalley

“God never gives you more than you can handle.” the woman said to her friend.

That sounded nice but it didn’t sit well with in my spirit. Why? It’s a misunderstanding and misquote of 1 Corinthians 10:13. What the woman said didn’t sit well with my spirit because it’s not Biblical truth. Frankly, God often gives me more than I can handle so I will go to Him as my Father, Supplier, Comforter, Strength and Guide.

These days, a lot of people are going around glibly handing out “Christian” platitudes and giving inspirational messages that seem good on the surface. Their messages might even stir our emotions. But when their words are lined up with God’s Word; they are not even close.

I’ve especially noticed this with a lot of women’s groups who claim to be faith-based. Words like “empowered”, “fierce”, “it’s all up to you”, “find your truth” and “independent” are used a lot in order to appeal to a bigger audience. There is a lot of self-reliance and self-fulfillment and making yourself happy. It sounds really good until you dig down and find out that these messages are not lined up with Biblical truth and Jesus is nowhere to be found.

I’m reminded of 2 Timothy 4:3 which says this:

“…a time will come when some will no longer tolerate sound teaching. Instead they will live by their own desires; they will scratch their itching ears by surrounding themselves with teachers who approve of their lifestyles and tell them what they want to hear.

Biblical truth is hard. Especially when it conflicts with our own wants and desires. We want to feel good about ourselves all the time. We want to have happy feelings all the time. We don’t want to stub our toes on the Rock of God’s Word.

Here is the wonderful news about God’s truth: it sets us free! (John 8:31-32) Then we can be truly empowered by God’s Spirit. I don’t have to find my truth because Jesus is the truth! (John 14:6). I am free from the idea of everything being up to me and rely on God’s perfect will (Romans 12:2). I am free from relying on myself because I can rely on God’s love for me (1 John 4:16). I am free to rely on His strength not my own (2 Corinthians 12:9).

The world and even some “Christian” ministries are going to say a lot of things that sound good; that may seem like truth but feel just a bit off. Sweet friends, whenever you hear something that sounds good but doesn’t quite land on your heart right; get out your Bible and search for God’s truth.

 

Kicked to the curb

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You are Seen.

It’s been a year. A long year of ups and downs. Grief ebbing and flowing. Loneliness. Anger. Resentment.  Healing. Growth. All the things that come when unexpected situations fly out of left field and hit square in the chest. Knocking the wind, joy and peace right out of your life.

The place I had worshipped for 17 years was no longer home. The ministry that I had been able to participate in, work for, love, write, teach, and fellowship for 13 years…gone. The new ministry for young families that the Holy Spirit had placed on my heart…evaporated. People that I had known for many years…nothing but silence…abandoned.

It’s a deeply painful thing to feel like you never mattered; like it was all for nothing. You were a means to an end. You were used and then discarded. Kicked to the curb.

Have you ever faced a time in your life like that? You were rejected, abandoned, used, abused and then set aside. You become persona non grata. Invisible. Nobody.

In Genesis 16, Hagar felt very much the same way. Sarah, resentful that Hagar had become pregnant; even though it was Sarah’s idea, abused and mistreated Hagar. So, Hagar does the only thing that she can think of….she runs away. The messenger of the Lord finds Hagar, alone, by a well. He tells her that God sees her. He knows what is happening in her life. God has not abandoned her. He has a purpose for her life.

There have been several times this past year when the Lord has specifically sent reminders that He sees me. I call them “Holy Sprit hugs”.  When I was feeling useless, the Lord gave me speaking engagements.  When I felt aimless, the Lord sent writing opportunities. When I was lonely, the Lord sent faithful friends to encourage my heart.

Sweet friend, I want you to know today that the Lord sees you. He loves you. He has purpose for you. Even in the midst of the most painful situations, God sees you.

 

 

The Mummy

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A few years ago, an archaeological team discovered a mummy at 22,000 feet above sea level, near the Llullaillaco volcano in Argentina. She is estimated to be 500 years old. Her frozen body is one of the best preserved Incan mummies ever discovered. Her hair is intricately braided. She looks like she is just resting. She was perfectly preserved in a frigid mountainside tomb. According to historians and archaeologists, the Incans considered it a great honor to be offered as a sacrifice to enter the realm of the gods. Young children and adolescents were often chosen as they were considered “pure”. The chosen young people would be lead up the mountain; then given large amounts of alcohol made with corn. They would also chew on coca leaves to ward off exhaustion and pain during the long mountain trek. Finally, upon reaching their destination, the sacrificial people would enter a tomb. They would be dressed in their finest clothes. The warmly dressed priests would stand by waiting for the chosen people to fall asleep; life slowing ebbing from their bodies. Then, the tomb would be sealed. The inhabitants would die slowly, painlessly in their sleep from the freezing temperature and a lack of oxygen.

I found this story fascinating and thought provoking.

What struck me was that the “chosen people” were so complacent. They laid down and died. Peacefully. No struggle. They gave up. They accepted the slow death.

I started to wonder about myself and my sisters in Christ. Are we dying the slow death? Do we look at ourselves and say, “We’ve arrived. No need to go any further.” So every Sunday, we sit in our favorite spot in church and die. It’s all very peaceful. We look like we are alive; singing the songs and listening to the sermon.

Are we so overwhelmed with our lives that we just say, “Eh, it’s good enough.”?

Are we so hurt by the past that we say, “It’s not worth the effort.”?

Are we so complacent in our comfortable lives that we say, “This is all I should expect.”?

Are we so unmotivated that we just say “I’m not going any further. I’m saved. I’m good where I’m at.”?

Are our hearts so calloused that the Spirit cannot move in us?

I’m going to reject that way of thinking. I’m going to challenge myself to breath in deep from the Holy Spirit, to continue to nourish my soul on the Bread of Life, and exercise my faith while continuing to push toward Christ. I am not going to accept mediocrity in my Christian life.

I’m refusing to become a mummified Christian.