Christian Mentors, College age women, Moms, Parents, Stay at Home Moms, Teachers, Uncategorized, women, Women's Ministries, Writers

The Audience of One…

Have you ever heard that saying, “You’re getting too big for your britches?”

I heard it A LOT from my great-grandmother, Mrs. Hildegard Hentschke Reid ~ my sweet little German grandma ~ “Little girl, you are getting too big for your britches.  You need to mind your grandma right now.” Let’s just say I think I was born was a sassy attitude!

So where is this all coming from?

Well, as I was driving around in my car today, listening to a fantastic podcast (shout out to @wearedeclare @declarepodcast) on getting your goals organized in the new year, I started to wonder why I haven’t been writing. Like, writing anything. Before yesterday, I hadn’t posted since the end of October 2018. I’ve got two book proposals that have sat untouched since the about the same time as well. Why? I have plenty of ideas that I jot down in my “Blog Ideas” Notes app. Everyday, there is something the Lord brings to mind that I think could easily become a blog or Instagram post. But why do I choose to watch tv or play word search games on my phone?

Fear and Pride. Plain and simple…that’s the answer. But where did that come from?

Well, back to my drive in the car that prompted all of this.

I clearly heard the Lord speak to my heart and say, “You must remove that last post from your account. But keep it in the ‘trash’ section to remind yourself that you are always one temptation away from thinking you can live this calling on your own.”

Whoa!

So when I got home, I did just that. And I’ll tell you why.

Back in October of last year, I had listened to a podcast where a speaker/writer wrote a blog that unexpectedly went viral. She didn’t have a lot of readers on her blog as it was so it was a complete shock that this was happening. Her friends and family were clogging up her text feed with tons of comments and “Whoa, you broke your blogsite! Congrats!” And within a short period of time, she was being booked on podcasts, being interviewed in magazines and the local paper, and published her first book. The book publisher came to her…not the other way around. Part of her encouragement to the listeners was to write/speak what God was putting on your heart because you never know what will happen with it and who will read it.

Well, if she could do it, by golly, so could I!

I will say that the topic I wrote about was something that had been really bothering me (basically, all the ways we as Christians are not acting like the global body of Christ that He intends us to be).

But here’s where pride came in…

The whole time I was writing, I was NOT writing to my “audience of One” ~ nope ~ I was writing to the “hoped for audience of thousands”.

Honestly, I wanted to be discovered. I wanted to be known.

I wanted my blog post to go viral. I think I even posted links to the blog a few times via my IG and FB accounts. So much pride that what I wrote was going to turn the tide of insincere Christianity. Yet, I was being incredibly insincere with every key stroke in that blog post.

Then came in the fear…

No responses came in for that post. What if people were reading it but thought I was off my rocker and decided to not like my posts anymore. So I checked, and there were only two views. TWO!

{I’m pretty sure one of them was my own when I went in to copy the url address to add that to some IG posts and a few texts.}

When I first started blogging back in August of 2015, each post idea was prayed over and prayed over again before publishing.  I had a banner first year! {Go figure!}. The following May, my middle daughter was home from her time at YWAM and she said that she noticed I checked my WordPress stats all the time. I was a bit defensive at first (that should’ve told me something right then!) but I knew the Lord was using her to speak to me. She asked me that all important question, “Who are your writing for?” We talked a lot then about the “Audience of One” ~ the fact that it was the Lord who’d given me the talent to write and He would be the one to do something with it or not. My daughter then challenged me to not look at my WordPress stats for the entire month of June and to return to my first love…return to writing for the Lord…my audience of One.

By the end of that month, I had recaptured my joy of writing and was completely confident that if no one read what I wrote, I was still being obedient to the Lord because this is something He has called me to do for Him. And that was perfectly fine with me.

Fast forward a few years and I have admittedly gotten wrapped up in the numbers…again! If God keeps giving me ideas and things to write about, why don’t other people read it? I mean, my close friends and family read it but it’s not like I’m getting hundreds of people every day reading my posts. I allowed dissatisfaction to creep in. I allowed fear of failure to settle over my mind. And for all intense-and-purposes, I stopped writing.

September/October 2018 were great in that I began to edit my book proposal in order to prepare for a writer’s conference I was going to. I knew I needed to make it worth the time and money spent ~ and boy oh boy was it! (Thank you @declareconference) The speakers and the attendees I met there were phenomenal! So what happened to all that enthusiasm when I got home?

I allowed the enthusiasm to turn into pride.

I absolutely want to go to this conference again, but before I make the commitment to go, I must maintain my commitment to what God has asked me to do. To stick with my calling as He gives it, is what matters.

I’m thankful that the Lord has given me grace while I walked around “too big for my britches” for most of 2018, and has shown my heart mercy. I’m thankful for His discipline and His instructions today as I drove around doing errands. I know that one day He’ll lead me to permanently “empty the trash” in my WordPress account, but for today, it is a beautiful reminder to me ~ when I removed God from the calling, the calling becomes a resounding gong…and nobody wants to listen to that.

My friends, through this window of vulnerability, may I encourage you to see what you need to “put in the trash” and what you need to do to return to the joy of the calling that God has on your life. We all have different gifts and talents, but here’s a little secret…as Believers, we ALL have the same calling ~

To know God, and to make Him known.

How am I doing that today? How are YOU going to do that today? I’d love to hear from you…to encourage you and pray for you! And even if I don’t hear from a single human being…I am truly okay with that too!

Live out your calling to the Audience of One!

 

Blessings,

René

 

psalm 89 verse 1

 

Women's Ministries

Trusting God…

I recently heard a quote that was spoken by Ernest Hemingway, who said, “The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.”

Sounds easy enough, right?

But trust is one of the most difficult attributes to give to others.

I literally just shuddered in my chair as the eerie past whispers of ex-boyfriends haunted my ears. “Just trust me….” they would say. Trying to convince me to give in to physical desires and cross the boundaries I had set for myself. I wanted to wait until marriage to enter into a physical relationship and it was extremely important to me. How like the devil to make me feel shame in telling those boys “NO!” How ridiculous was my high school self to allow their dishonor of me, make me feel unworthy!  Seriously people…that’s twisted!!!  It took a long time to realize that I had nothing to feel shame about. On the day of my wedding (28 years ago thank you very much!), I knew that I would give all of myself to my new husband and I was proud of that. And God washed away all that shame!

{FYI to any of you reading this who are holding strong to your convictions to remain a virgin until you get married…keep holding strong! Anyone who makes you feel less than for your convictions is not someone you need to put your trust in. Walk. Away! And if you have crossed those boundaries, you can still come back from them. It only takes one step toward the Lord to reconnect with Him. When you feel far from Him, quite frankly my friend, it is you that have walked away. The courage to bring yourself back to the Lord is worth it!}

And giving our trust and putting complete trust in God, the Creator of the Universe, our salvation ~ that can be downright scary sometimes! And that’s if we actually believe that there is a God in heaven who created the world and is a part of the Trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

And how do we trust someone we cannot see? So many questions and so many doubts can be raised on a daily basis. But for every question, there is an answer.

The Bible is full of examples of what happens when we trust God and what happens when we don’t. One of most oft quoted verses in the Bible regarding trust are these:  Proverbs 3:5-6  AMP ~ “Trust in and rely confidently on the Lord with all your heart and do not rely on your own insight or understanding. In all your ways know and acknowledge and recognize Him, And He will make your paths straight and smooth [removing obstacles that block your way].”

But how do we trust in the Lord with our OWN heart but not rely on our OWN insights?

Psalm 40:8 ~ “I delight to do Your will, O my God; Your law is within my heart.”

Psalm 51:10 ~ “Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a right and steadfast spirit within me.”
Psalm 73:26 ~ “My flesh and my heart may fail, But God is the rock and strength of my heart and my portion forever.”

When our heart is aligned with the Lord and what He teaches us and how we obey Him is what makes it possible to trust in the Lord with our whole heart ~ because our heart is filled with Him and not our own prideful attitudes when we surrender our life to Him.

When reading the verses in Proverbs 3, I think you really need to read the whole chapter but at least the two verses that follow (vs. 7-8), Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the Lord [with reverent awe and obedience] and turn [entirely] away from evil. It will be health to your body [your marrow, your nerves, your sinews, your muscles—all your inner parts] and refreshment (physical well-being) to your bones.

Our family watches a lot of movies (A LOT!) and I will unabashedly admit that I truly enjoy all of the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movies. When I’m cleaning house or folding laundry, I’ll flip on the tv and find something that can just be playing in the background while I putter around the house. And if there is one of those movies playing, on it goes! So this past Saturday, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies came on and I let it play. I stopped during one of the scenes and had an interesting bit of insight between that scene in the movie and how my relationship with the Lord is sometimes.

The dwarves are fighting the orcs and the orcs appear to be winning. The dwarves have been cornered on tree filled precipice on the mountain with no where to go. So up into the trees they go. Oh, and the area is also on fire. The main dwarf is making sure his comrades are safe and he stays on the ground to fight the main orc and actually cuts off the hand of said orc. But he still receives a blow from that disgusting creature that slams him to the ground, unconscious. The orc thinks he has won.

Okay…do you need a break for a minute from my “Hobbit” geekdom? It’s okay, I get that a lot.

Just as you hear the crackling of the trees because they are on fire and you think the poor dwarf warriors are going to be cast down over the cliff and die, these HUGE eagles fly in and gently pick each of them off their precarious perches and fly to safety. Relief! The orcs of course are livid but you can imagine how thankful the dwarves are to have been rescued. But wait, after flying for a bit, one by one the eagles set each one down on the level area of a very tall mountain top. Really? They couldn’t have put them down on the ground amidst the green grass and the flowing river. That doesn’t seem like such a great rescue after all. Until one of the dwarves remarks, “Well, would you look at that!” Because of where they are standing, and how high up in the sky they are positioned, they are able to see clearly to a far off mountain and proclaim, “Home.”

So why did I share this with you? Well, I love it when movies tie into something the Lord is trying to teach me. Having a visual representation of the point I’m trying to get across helps too.

How many times in our life, or maybe just this week, does the Lord allows us to be fighting a battle. One where we feel that at any moment we will not make it to the next day. We have nothing left in our heart and soul to fight the evil principalities. We feel so small while we fight the intensity of the spiritual realms. Let me be clear….

Satan. Never. Ever. Ever. Wants. You. To. Win. Ever.

You ARE fighting a battle ~ but you ARE already victorious!!  You WILL win!!

Trusting in the Lord is how He rescues us; “with wings of eagles” He comes to us and whisks us away. He gives us the respite we need and we feel the calming breeze of the Holy Spirit wash over us. We are His delight and we can feel it as He rescues us.

But how quickly we can forget those feelings when God sets us down somewhere we don’t think is fair and right! We just fought a battle…we seriously don’t want to have to climb DOWN a steep mountain of emotions and difficult circumstances.

Oh, but the view!

The Lord doesn’t waste anything my friend! He will “set us down” in a new place most often because He wants us to gain a new perspective on our situation. One that we hadn’t noticed before, but has more than likely been there all along.

The Lord is mostly assuredly trustworthy. He will never lead you astray or convince you to do something you shouldn’t. If you’ve never trusted the Lord before, or if you are having some trouble currently in trusting Him, give it a shot. You’ll never the joy of wholeheartedly trusting in the Lord if you don’t take that first step…and trust Him!

Trust me…it’s worth it!

Blessings,

René

proverbs 3 v 5 and 6 with eagles

 

Christian Mentors, College age women, Moms, Parents, Public Speaking, Stay at Home Moms, Teachers, Uncategorized, women, Women's Ministries, Writers

I have Superpowers…

Yep…you heard it here first…I have superpowers!

In fact, we all do! Our superpower is who God uniquely created us to be.  The fun part about our superpowers is discovering how God intends for me to use it!

We are a “movie family” ~ like, we really really really LOVE going to the movies. Even if my husband wasn’t in the entertainment industry, I think we would still be avid movie-goers. When we were first married our weekend consisted of at least one movie night but sometimes up to three movies between Friday-Sunday depending on how many new movies were coming out. Our movie date nights were a hard thing to give up when we our family began to grow, but we still managed to get out at least once a month.  I know I know…first world problems.

At any rate, one of our family fave genres is the Super Hero movies ~ we’ve pretty much seen them all (but Marvel has our favorite characters…although my girls and I are fairly partial to Wonder Woman…can ya blame me…she’s amazing! And as a mom, what I wouldn’t have done to get my hands on the Lasso of Truth!!!)

There’s always something that happens, some experiment gone wrong, someone gets bit by some crazy insect, someone gets hit by lightening ~ and THEN…dundundunnnnnnn…superpowers arrive. I love that bit of the movie where they show a montage of the new superhero discovering their powers for the first time. They are usually pretty freaked out by their new abilities but eventually they lean into them, they push the boundaries to see how far they can go, and then they have to decide if they are going to pursue a life that includes their new power or keep it hidden.

For instance, in the first “Iron Man” movie, the character of Tony Stark almost dies in an explosion, but is helped by a crazy-smart scientist who helps him stay alive because of this power device he puts in Tony’s chest. Yeah, I would freak out too if I woke up from thinking I was dead and look down to see a glowing sphere coming out of the middle of my chest! Anyway, as the movie proceeds, there’s all sorts of bad guys that need to be taken care and good guys that want Iron Man on their team, but nobody knows who Iron Man really is because he fly’s around in a metal suit. When the secret is out to a small group of people, every government agency wants them on their side. Tony Stark has to choose what he’s going to do. After a huge battle and Iron Man victory ensues, Tony is supposed to make a brief statement that although his multi-million dollar company is involved with Iron Man, no one knows the true identity of this superhero. It’s all carefully written out on 3×5 index cards. He’s supposed to stick to the script. Of course he doesn’t.

The last line of the movie, as reporters are yelling out, “Who is Iron Man? Where did he come from?” etc., Tony Stark looks right at the camera and with a twinkle in his eye and conviction in his voice, “I am Iron Man.”

Hope you’re still reading this because it’s about to get really good ~ I’m about to reveal your superpower to you!!

It’s been in God’s Word this whole time ~ have you read it?

I Peter 4:10 {amp} declares, “Just as each one of you has received a special gift [a spiritual talent, an ability graciously given by God], employ it in serving one another as [is appropriate for] good stewards of God’s multi-faceted grace [faithfully using the diverse, varied gifts and abilities granted to Christians by God’s unmerited favor]. “

  1. You HAVE received a special gift
  2. God has graciously GIVEN it to you
  3. EMPLOY it by serving others
  4. Be a good STEWARD of your gift
  5. You have MORE than one spiritual gift to use
  6. OPERATE within God’s unmerited favor

There it is! One thing I know for sure is that when God promises us something either in His Word or when He speaks into our life, He is good on His word. His promises are ALWAYS fulfilled!

Just like an superhero in a movie, there are some bumps and bruises that come with the territory as they are “trying out” their new abilities, we very well may experience some bumps and bruises too.

And that’s exactly when the enemy comes along and tries to make us think that we aren’t as strong as we thought we were. Or that we don’t really have anything special to add to our little corner of this planet.  DON’T BELIEVE THE LIE!!

In 1 Timothy 4:4-5 {amp}, hear what the Lord says about you ~ For everything God has created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with gratitude; for it is sanctified [set apart, dedicated to God] by means of the word of God and prayer.

YOU are a part of the ‘everything’ this verse refers to. God has called you and you have been set apart and dedicated to Him to do good things!

You are good and will not be rejected!

You can believe this because of another passage of scripture that tells us why you will always be seen as good and worthy. You are created in God’s own image!! Genesis 1:27 {amp} says, “So God created man in His own image, in the image and likeness of God He created him; male and female He created them.”

You don’t have to compete with anyone; God did not create you to be in competition with any of His creation.

There is only ONE of you & YOU are needed on this planet at this very place & time!

Still not sure what your ‘superpowers’ are ~ well, look no further than (okay…actually do look further at all the scriptures, but this is just a phenomenal place to start!)

Romans 12:6-13 {amp} ~ “Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to use them accordingly: if [someone has the gift of] prophecy, [let him speak a new message from God to His people] in proportion to the faith possessed; if service, in the act of serving; or he who teaches, in the act of teaching; or he who encourages, in the act of encouragement; he who gives, with generosity; he who leads, [a]with diligence; he who shows mercy [in caring for others], with cheerfulness. Love is to be sincere and active [the real thing—without guile and hypocrisy]. Hate what is evil [detest all ungodliness, do not tolerate wickedness]; hold on tightly to what is good. Be devoted to one another with [authentic] brotherly affection [as members of one family], give preference to one another in honor; never lagging behind in diligence; aglow in the Spirit, enthusiastically serving the Lord; constantly rejoicing in hope [because of our confidence in Christ], steadfast and patient in distress, devoted to prayer [continually seeking wisdom, guidance, and strength], contributing to the needs of God’s people, pursuing [the practice of] hospitality.”

In every single superhero movie, all of them have different abilities. When one goes rouge, it messes up the team. But when they all come together, to work together for the good of the people they are trying to save, they are unstoppable!!

People of God ~ our greatest power will be found when we work together within the Body of Christ! Let’s stop trying to figure out who’s the foot, who’s the eye, who’s the arm, who’s the one with the great head of hair, or who gets to wear the cape! Let’s work together to keep the spine of the Body strong. When our spine is out of alignment, we cannot complete the tasks that are set before us in a cohesive way. We need to be men and women working side by side to bring about the Good News of the Gospel! When we do this, we will be unstoppable!!

So lean into your ‘superpowers’ today ~ put on your armor and fight!! There are people out there that God is calling you to welcome into the saving grace of salvation ~ and He has given you the gifts and talents to accomplish it!!

Stand tall, belt out that battle cry and be the Warrior that God created you to be!!

Blessings,

René

1 Peter 4 verse 10

{image found on googleimages by Revealing HIM}

Women's Ministries

Free Refills….

Our family went out for a special celebration dinner the other night, and our server was on top of the refills!  Our water glasses never completely emptied, and the lemonade our daughter sipped on was refilled several times.  When the server asked to refill it for the fourth time, my daughter politely declined, “Oh my no…but thank you. It was delicious though but I’ve had enough.”

Have you ever wished that your favorite macchiato or cappuccino would have free refills too? Oh yeah! Especially on those days when I decide to hole up in a local coffee shop and focus on my writing…a free refill would come in handy for sure!! But I’ll take the free cups of water you can get…probably better for me anyway!

So what fills you up? 

Is it the job you strive at day after day and feel you are getting nowhere?

Is it the daily responsibilities of being a mom? a wife?

Is it the accolades of the community you’re a part of?

Is it the message preached on Sunday morning at your church?

Is it how many “likes” you receive on your latest social media post?

What fills up your heart? your soul? your life?

I’ve gone round and round with ALL of the above questions and ALL of them cup up empty for me in the long run. Don’t get me wrong…I absolutely LOVE being a wife, mother, mentor, teacher, speaker, and yeah, I get sucked in to the social media game more than I’d like to admit. So what do I do?

Simple answer ~ God’s Word!

Simple solution ~ READ God’s Word and spend time in prayer with Him!

Reality ~ I don’t always make the time for it like I should!

And here’s the real secret….

JESUS OFFERS FREE REFILLS!!!

John 7:38 declares, “He who believes in Me [who adheres to, trusts in, and relies on Me], as the Scripture has said, ‘From his innermost being will flow continually rivers of living water.’””

Will you sit with me here for a moment and soak in this verse? Read it again and picture it? What do you see?

I see a beautiful meadow with a gentle river winding its way around the area, no beginning and no end. But it is continually moving! Which means there is a source from which water flows INTO it and there is a destination where it’s going to pour into. Jesus is the only person who can do this for us. I’ve struggled enough over the almost 50 years of my life to know that I cannot ever, like EVER, be my own source of a fruitful life! I just end up being poured out with nothing to fill me back up. When that happens, it’s like I’ve said to Jesus, “Oh…spend time with You in Your Word…not right now, but thank you. Those verses I read the other day were really great but I’ve had enough for a while. I’m good!”

Can you imagine that? ~ But we do it all the time!

Even for the most spiritual person that I know, I know they are not doing it alone. They rely on the Lord to fill them up with what they need for the moments they serve and pour themselves out to bless others.

I cannot be a healthy and happy wife, mother, mentor, friend, servant, teacher, or community member if I’m only relying on myself to do all of that.

I’m sure that whomever you are reading this, we are probably in different seasons of life. But there is a common strategy to keep you filled up…

…read the Bible and pray!

Here’s another secret…

There is no where (like…NO WHERE) in the Bible that says in order to be a real Christian, or to get a good spot in heaven, that we have to sit and read the Bible all day long!  So in the name of Jesus ~ be released from a prison of thinking you are under a time constraint!

He just simply longs to spend time with you! And that is going to look different for everyone in all the various seasons of life! 

Some days as a young mom, I’d run the shower to get ready in the morning and read a few verses ~ and then I’d pray them for the rest of the morning. Some days I would finally find some alone time after I got my girls to bed.  I love having the ease of devotional and bible apps that we have in today’s world and weave them into my daily routine. Now that my husband and I are basically empty-nesters (we just dropped off our youngest at college yesterday to begin her Sophomore year!) I do have more time. So I can take on that “Read the Bible in 90 Days” challenge. Which has been amazing to have started on that journey, using a journaling Bible for the first time has been so much fun!

But whether it was a few quick verses, a devotional book or app, or several hours reading a hard copy of God’s Word, there has been ONE consistent addition and that is prayer.

Prayer can happen all. day. long!

You’re simply having a conversation…but a conversation with the God of the Universe! The Creator of all things including YOU! He knows you intimately. He wants to hear how your day is going. He wants to hear what is challenging you and what is causing your worry. He wants to celebrate the big and little accomplishments with you.

If you’re having a hard time connecting with that, think about the conversations you have with your people…

You pick up your kids from school and your first question bound to be, “How was your day today?” or “What did you do at school today?”Really? Nothing? It’s so much more fun when they actually answer you instead of saying, “Fine.”, “Nothing.” Seriously!

When you talk with Jesus…TALK to Him! Share your joys and sorrows, your hopes and fears, your accomplishments and concerns, your wants and needs ~ He really does want to hear them all! And with any good conversation, there has to be a lot of LISTENTING too! Don’t talk AT Jesus…but WITH Him. Try this, before you begin to pray to the Lord, ask Him first to give you a heart and ears to listen to what He wants to share with you. As you pray, more often than not, He will begin to reveal answers and solutions to you about the problem you are bringing to Him.

John 4:10, 13-14 is the most beautiful picture of the living water the Lord gives {as He spoke with the Samaritan woman at the well},  “Jesus answered her, “If you knew [about] God’s gift [of eternal life], and who it is who says, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him [instead], and He would have given you living water (eternal life).” Jesus answered her, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again. But whoever drinks the water that I give him will never be thirsty again. But the water that I give him will become in him a spring of water [satisfying his thirst for God] welling up [continually flowing, bubbling within him] to eternal life.””

Doesn’t that just make you take a deep breath and slowly let the truth of God’s words here rush over your heart? Go ahead…close your eyes, breathe in deep and let it out slowly…thank the Lord for His living water. The life of His words in scripture. Jesus wants to give you refills of His love and direction EVERY DAY! Your first “cup” was the day you received Him as your Lord and Savior, and it was free! Through your free gift of salvation, like a glass of refreshing water on a warm day, we can be refilled every time we seek Him out.

Whether through scripture or prayer, you are receiving your free refill every time!

It doesn’t mean that you will live a trouble free life. This I know for certain. But my life is much better lived within the continual flow of His salvation and in the bubbling in my spirit of His words, than when I try to use other things to fill up the space and void in my life. Not one thing can ever replace or refill what the Lord can give me. Nothing I strive for or earn, no fame, no pats on the back, no “free drink reward”, can ever truly fill me up.

Give yourself the freedom in Christ today to receive fulfillment from Him ~ it’s free!

The only thing it will cost you is your pride and stubborn resolve to “do it on your own”, but how’s that been workin’ for ya? How about giving that a rest, so that you can have true rest in the soul refreshment that Jesus can give!

Drink in the free refills from Jesus ~ and you’ll have all the living water you need!

Blessings,

René

Christian Mentors, Moms, Parents, Public Speaking, Stay at Home Moms, Teachers, Uncategorized, Women's Ministries, Writers

Authentic Joy…

What come to your mind when you hear the word ‘joy’?

Candy ~ Almond joy?

Songs ~ Joyful Joyful We Adore Thee

Or different variations of the word JOY ~ happiness? Delight? Pleasure? Enjoyment? Bliss?

Or maybe on a more serious note, you’re wondering when the last time it was that you actually felt joyful?

So much of the idea of success in the world today is based on individualized aspects…What makes you happy? What lights you up? What moves you? What’s your passion? What drives you? Do those things!

But what happens on the mornings when you wake up and the answer to those questions are a big fat nothing? Then what do you do?

John 15:11 says “I have told you these things so that My joy and delight may be in you, and that your joy may be made full and complete and overflowing.”

So this is what I want to focus on the blog today ~ how to have joy everyday no matter what the circumstances.

Joy is defined as, “the emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying; keen pleasure; elation; a source or cause of keen pleasure or delight; something or someone greatly valued or appreciated; the expression or display of glad feeling; festive gaiety.”

There are over 300 references to ‘joy’ in the Bible, so I’m going to throw it out there, this is something that is important to the Lord…something that He wants us to understand and embrace for our benefit. As opposed to the word ‘happiness’ which is only mentioned a mere eight times. Joy and Happiness are totally different…even though the definition of Joy contains the word happiness.

Happiness is fleeting and is usually attached to an event or how a person makes us feel.

Joy on the other hand, is a state of being. It is a way we can feel no matter what circumstances we are experiencing.

Oh…but there’s one more word I want to touch on before I share a story with you ~ FEELING.

The most important thing I can tell you about feelings is that many times, okay, most times, they aren’t to be trusted as the absolute in how we respond to a situation. Feelings are temporary. I love the quote, “Never make permanent decisions based on temporary feelings.”

Let me tell you a little story ~

In January 1999, we were six months in to living in our dream home in Pasadena…white picket fence and all. My husband had a great job in the entertainment industry, money wasn’t an issue, we had two healthy daughters and decided to try for a third. Life was fantastic. I was so happy because I had everything I wanted. Did ya catch how many “I’s” were in that last sentence??

And then God decided to change the course of our life. It wasn’t horrible, but it was hard!

My husband came home one evening and said, “I’ve been praying a lot lately and I really feel that God wants me to quit my job and open my own company. I know this will mean that we will have to trade in our cars for less expensive ones and figure out if we can keep the kids in private school, oh yeah, and we’ll have to sell the house.”

Well, he told me how he felt, so I was gonna tell him how I felt…

I can still picture the scene in my mind; he was standing by the staircase and I was one stair up so we were just about eye to eye. I non-to-politely (honestly, I was downright rude about it), told him that he couldn’t possibly be hearing from God and I didn’t care what he felt because he was wrong. It was definitely NOT one of my proudest moments as a supportive Christian wife. But my husband truly loves me like Jesus does and he was so patient with me.

He just smiled, asked me to pray about it, and said that when I was ready to talk about it, to let him know.

That made me FEEL so mad!

Had I allowed my feelings to continue to prevail, I would have missed out on experiencing what true Joy can be.

It took the next 9 months to deal with all the things that I was feeling. How my heart ached at the thought of selling our dream home and moving again. How sad I was to be losing a very comfortable salary. Then I started realizing that all the things that were making me sad, were just things. I would still have my family and how could I walk away from doing what the Lord had asked us to do.

To step out in faith requires that we operate in the Fruit of the Spirit. Galatians 5:22-23a says, “But the fruit of the Spirit [the result of His presence within us] is love [unselfish concern for others], joy, [inner] peace, patience [not the ability to wait, but how we act while waiting], kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”

I love how the Amplified version of the Bible describes peace as being something “inner” ~ and what is on the inside of us is what ends up coming to fruition on the outside of us. Through this passage we can see that authentic joy has nothing to do with our happiness; it has everything to do with where our identity comes from.

The worst thing my husband said to me that night was that we would have to sell our house. It was MY house. I had big plans (literally…we had just finished paying for an architect to draw up remodeling plans a few weeks prior). I had already imagined our future Christmases, our girls coming down the staircase for prom & taking pictures in front of the Batchehelder fireplace, how incredible our back yard would look as we hosted friends and family for their weddings amidst fragrant bouquets of flowers and covered in a canopy of fairy lights.

I felt cheated. I felt mad. I felt slighted. I felt my dreams weren’t important.

And for what….a house?

The last day of work for my husband at his original job, was November 19, 2000. For the next decade, I learned quite intimately how I must trust the Lord to be my strength, my hope, my delight, my joy.

Proverbs 10:28 is quite thought-provoking, “The hope of the righteous [those of honorable character and integrity] is joy, But the expectation of the wicked [those who oppose God and ignore His wisdom] comes to nothing.”

Yeah, the Holy Spirit doesn’t mince words here.

And I battled between spiritual integrity and selfish expectations for a long time. It was not pretty.

On the outside, I would plaster on that happy face. But deep down, and many days it bubbled barely beneath the surface, I was angry. And I’m sure you know this…but you cannot be both angry and joyful at the same time. It’s like expecting to bite into a luscious donut and all you get is tofu…they don’t go together…like at all…ever!

Why did we have to struggle so much? Paying our bills, the mortgage, keeping food in the fridge, and gas in the car….seriously? Didn’t GOD tell my husband to quit a perfectly good job and create a new one? Wasn’t it GOD that whispered to the heart of my husband to do his work for Him?  How can GOD direct us to start a Christian company and not bless it?  I mean, really. I was even dyeing & cutting my own hair (oh yeah…it was not a good look…) and stopped getting manicures.

I knew it was petty. I knew that God was in charge. I knew that we would receive blessings from God that would be nothing less than miraculous. I knew all of that in my head, but my heart was in complete denial & filled with frustration pretty much every day.

Proverbs 17:22 summed up my life, “A happy heart is good medicine and a joyful mind causes healing, But a broken spirit dries up the bones.”

Well, the second half of that verse sums up my life for far too long.

We moved ~ God graced us with a beautiful new home.

We tried for a third child and had a healthy daughter.

Our cars were different but they were great ~ and paid for!

Our girls were able to remain at their private school ~ total miracle.

We had the support of our church community.

And I still loved my husband.

Things were looking up.

Then the ceiling in our kitchen started to fall down…because of a burst water pipe…from the upstairs bathroom…

Really?

Happiness disappeared like a vapor and Joy…inner peace…that wasn’t even part of the plan anymore. I moved into survival mode.

For the next 18 months, the Lord took us down a road that I still look back on in amazement. Within the first few weeks, I realized that I needed to change my perspective real quick or I was going to implode.

Actually, I didn’t realize it on my own…thankfully I have wonderful mentors and friends who spoke hard truth to my deaf ears and hardened heart. God wasn’t punishing me, my husband, or our family. He was using this time to prune out of my heart what didn’t need to be there in order for His purposes to be completed within me and throughout my life as a witness for Him.

I was broken but knew deep down I was still blessed. I had to pray often for my joy to be renewed. Very often in the beginning!

Psalm 16:11 promises this, “You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forevermore.”

Where is my joy? It’s in His presence.

Where are the pleasures of life? In His right hand.

Hello! Life changer right there!

We lived in a local hotel for 6 months then moved to a furnished apartment for one year while our house/kitchen went through insurance denials, mold abatement, insurance stalemates, lots of waiting, finally remodeling, then suing the insurance company and moving back home.

I had to learn how to have joy ~ a joy that didn’t come from anything around me or from anything I could produce. I had to rely on the Lord to move within my heart, mind, and soul to create His perfect joy.

I had to ask Him for it…and He gladly answered that prayer!

Part of my responsibility as a wife was to be a support to my husband however I could…happy wife happy life…but not just happy…joyful. As a Mom, my daughters needed as much stability in their lives as possible. At 2, 6, and 8, none of it made sense.  And sleeping together in a pull-out sofa lost its charm pretty quick!

What’s a momma to do…pray!

So I found things I could be joyful about…

Living in a hotel meant I had room/cleaning service…every day!

Apartment laundry rooms meant I could get 15 loads of laundry done in about 3 hours instead of 12…yeah…Every.Week!

Apartment living meant it only took 45 minutes to clean house instead of all day at home.

In both locations, I brought in photos from home and hung them on the wall with those fabulous 3m hooks. I brightened up the beige walls of the apartment entry way with big colorful maps of the USA and one of the world that I found at Costco. I restored part of my sanity by donning a mask & going to our house and getting my sewing machine so I could be creative. I mean, I had all that “free time” that I didn’t have to spend doing laundry or cleaning, right!?!

One of the best ways that the Lord humbled me to learn how to receive His joy was to receive help from others. I didn’t want to be a charity case. But a very wise friend reminded me of how I felt when I was able to bless others with a home-cooked meal, or free babysitting, or a paid-for date night…people wanted to do that for our family now. It’s hard to be on the receiving end, but it’s so worth it.

My attitude began to change and I began to see our reality through the lens of authentic joy. A joy that is not borne out of circumstances, but out of following Christ and choosing to be obedient to what He calls me to walk through.

Once we were able to move back into our house, our life didn’t suddenly become easy.  The money struggles were still there but my husband and I would pray, “Okay Lord, you love to show off to Your children how well you can provide…let’s see what You’re going to do this time!” And we really meant it! And He would always come through. There isn’t enough time to recount the miracles of how God provided for our family during that decade, but it was phenomenal!

Just one quick story, that is still a bit emotional for me to think about, was how we literally had no food in the fridge. We finished up the last of the cereal, eggs, and milk, and used up the rest of what we had to make three little lunches for our girls to take to school. My husband and I prayed before I left to take the girls to school, that God would provide a miracle for us to be able to feed our family. I won’t lie, we were nervous but we trusted God.

As I exited car line and went down a side street, I pulled over and cried and knew I needed to discard my pride and call my parents to help us…and now that I have grown children, there really isn’t an age where that momma heart doesn’t kick in to want to help out your kiddos.

As I held the phone in my hands praying for God to give me the courage to call, it rang…it was my husband…he said, “Everything is great and I’m fine, but you need to come to the office before you go home.” I told him I was about to call my mom about the grocery dilemma and he told me to “wait. Come to the office.” Fine!

I pulled in and walked slowly to his office. He sat there with tears streaming down his face holding a card in his hands. He held it out to my and said, “Just open it.” It was a beautiful floral design, “Thinking of You” kind of card. Inside it read, “Dear Bancroft Family, You are always in my thoughts. Love, Jesus”. Then my husband handed me another little envelope that had been inside the card.

It was a $300 gift card to Ralphs grocery store, written on it with a black sharpie, “To the Bancroft’s ~ Love, Jesus”.

He provided more than enough.

And I still have the card as a reminder that Jesus sees our needs. And that He shops at Ralphs!

Romans 12:11-13, “never lagging behind in diligence; aglow in the Spirit, enthusiastically serving the Lord; constantly rejoicing in hope [because of our confidence in Christ], steadfast and patient in distress, devoted to prayer [continually seeking wisdom, guidance, and strength], contributing to the needs of God’s people, pursuing [the practice of] hospitality.”

I learned that there is no “last minute” with God ~ it might feel like MY last minute, but it’s His perfect timing! God has shown up for us every single time.

We have known plenty and we have known want.

But most importantly, we have always known that our joy rests in Him and not in our circumstances.

That is true authentic joy.

To trust the Lord with EVERYTHING! You don’t have to be happy when you go through difficult times, but it is possible to be joyfully content in the midst of the struggle.

Blessings,

René

Christian Mentors, Moms, Parents, Public Speaking, Stay at Home Moms, Teachers, Uncategorized, Women's Ministries, Writers

The Coffee Grinder of Life…

With all three of our children involved in coffee/food services, especially the two that work at coffee shops, we really have become coffee snobs. Only now when we are desperate for a cup of coffee (or receive a gift card) do we even step foot in the land of the little green mermaid…local shops are the place to be and a fresh brewed cup at home is even better! So pretty much every morning, we open our bag of organic, sustainable, fair trade coffee and pour those glorious beans into the coffee grinder for just what we need for the day.

And one day, I felt like I was those beans. I was feeling a bit “ground up” to tell you the truth. I’m thankful it doesn’t happen often, and I’m grateful the Lord helps me to recognize when I’m starting to go to down a particularly dark path in my mind. But that day, I resonated with coffee in a totally different way.

So hang with me here in my little revelation about the similarities between that awesome cup of coffee and the paths of our life…

A loving gardener tills the soil of his farm and prepares a beautiful space for the seeds of a coffee plant to grow. He waters the seeds and the plant begins to burst forth from the ground, first just a little sprout and then into a lovely fruitful plant. The tiny fruit that comes from the plant is what the coffee farmer has been waiting for. At just the right moment, when the coffee berries are ripe, they are plucked off the branches. Even though they are ripe, they must go through an extensive period where they are processed, and then dried. The dull green of the coffee bean is not super appetizing to look at, but it has all it needs to eventually become a fantastic cup of coffee.

Before that can happen though, those beans have to be poured out into a roasting machine. They are in there with a bunch of other beans, being pushed around by a rotating metal arm to make sure that each bean is perfectly roasted without being burned by the heat. They slowly gain a shiny, almost bronze-like, appearance and the aroma is delightful!!

But they still aren’t done! You can’t just pour some coffee beans into your favorite mug, pour hot water over them and expect to have great coffee!

Nope ~ those beautiful beans have to be ground up because that is when their true flavor and vitality can be experienced. Once they are ground up to perfection, they must now endure the slow process of near-boiling water cascading over and through the grounds. Then and only then, will you produce a spectacular nectar of rich, warm, coffee to begin your day with.

Whew! Okay…hang on…I gotta go pour myself another cup of coffee!

Guess what…we are that dull green coffee bean.

Sometimes I think that just because I’ve seen growth in my life that has transformed an area of my life from a seed into a tangible fruit, that should be enough. I don’t want any more transformation. It’s hard to work for an actual seed to push its way through the top soil, just like it’s hard for us to push ourselves towards those new goals God puts in our heart ~ but the growth is not the end. How God uses the fruit that He produces in our life is what our goal needs to be. He is the consummate Gardener of our life ~ He knows us from the inside out!

I know that I’m not the only one who has those days where you feel like you’ve been through an emotional grinder. One minute your shiny and whole, and the next your soul feels crushed to dust. When I’ve been at that point, there is usually always something that the Lord needs to sift me from. It could be forgiving someone, it could be asking forgiveness from someone, it could be repenting from sin that keeps repeating itself, it could be removing yourself from an unhealthy relationship or activity….so many things!

That’s the part I think most resembles the “hot water pour over” if you will. The slow yet intentional working of the Holy Spirit to work through us in order to produce the best parts of us. The fresh new perspective we need to do the work that He has called us to do. The aroma that HE wants us to have that will be pleasing to those in our circles of influence. That “coffee ring mark” that He wants us to leave on the hearts of those we minister to and share the gospel with.

So the next time you have your coffee, maybe you’ll think of what kind of coffee you are…

Are you “instant coffee” out of a jar that has lost its flavor and vitality but still tries to pass itself off as acceptable?

Or are you the shiny little bean that is perfectly ground in order to produce the most genuine and delightful cup of coffee?

You get to pick everyday! So choose well! Now go get a cup of coffee and take Jesus with you!!

Blessings,

René

 

Colossians 1:9-11, For this reason, since the day we heard about it, we have not stopped praying for you, asking [specifically] that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom [with insight into His purposes], and in understanding [of spiritual things], so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord [displaying admirable character, moral courage, and personal integrity], to [fully] please Him in all things, bearing fruit in every good work and steadily growing in the knowledge of God [with deeper faith, clearer insight and fervent love for His precepts]; [we pray that you may be] strengthened and invigorated with all power, according to His glorious might, to attain every kind of endurance and patience with joy;”

Colossians 1 verse 10

 

Christian Mentors, Moms, Parents, Public Speaking, Stay at Home Moms, Teachers, Uncategorized, Women's Ministries, Writers

Coming Home to a Clean House…

If you’ve ever gone on vacation or even an overnight somewhere and you get to stay in a nice hotel…well, picture that…

You walk in to an immaculately clean room, a crisply made bed, towels that are perfectly placed in the bathroom, a desk that has been meticulously laid out with items you may need….awwww…so relaxing!  Oh, and even better than this is the fact that every day you are there, you can return to a room that is all cleaned up for you!!

{And after getting into our room, my husband will run the water in the bathroom sink as hot as it’ll go, soak one of the washcloths and walk around the room cleaning off the remote, the light switches, the door knobs, etc. because of watching one of those news programs on hotel germs. lol!}

But…There’s nothing like coming HOME after time away, to a clean house!

My husband and kids still think it’s kind of a silly thing…but I’m gonna keep doing it! What is “it”?  IT is the process of cleaning house before we go out of town. I mean, if it’s only gonna be a couple days or an overnight, I don’t go as far as I usually do, but still…that toilet better be clean and all the dishes are at least out of the sink into the dishwasher! {Can I get an Amen for the dishwasher!}

A few days prior to leaving, I do the big stuff…dust, vacuum, mop, and start the laundry.  The night before (or morning of…depending on how early we have to leave) I make everyone strip their beds and put clean sheets on {and of course, make their beds up before we leave!}, and I also switch out all the bath towels for new ones. Then when we come home from our trip, we can walk in to a clean house. We don’t have to waste time cleaning up before we unpack. And if we arrive home late at night, we can easily slip under the covers into fresh, clean sheets!

As I prepare for the leaving…I also prepare for the return.

Colossians 3:15-17 is a beautiful picture of the fact that we are God’s dwelling place…Let the peace of Christ [the inner calm of one who walks daily with Him] be the controlling factor in your hearts [deciding and settling questions that arise]. To this peace indeed you were called as members in one body [of believers]. And be thankful [to God always]. Let the [spoken] word of Christ have its home within you [dwelling in your heart and mind—permeating every aspect of your being] as you teach [spiritual things] and admonish and train one another with all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Whatever you do [no matter what it is] in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus [and in dependence on Him], giving thanks to God the Father through Him.”

Every day we are here on this earth, we are preparing to do two things:

  1. We spend time with the Lord each day to prepare us for the day when we will finally meet Him face to face.
  2. We go out each day as a light to the world to show them Jesus.

In each aspect, we are preparing a clean house for the Lord to return to dwell in! Through salvation,  He is able to return to a relationship with us through His grace of reconciliation.

I mean, seriously, just read the first sentence in verse 15 above…”Let the peace of Christ [the inner calm of one who walks daily with Him] be the controlling factor in your hearts…”

Yes please! I’ll take some inner calm every day of the week!!

When I clear out the cob webs of deceit, the dust of doubt, the piles of unbelief ~ there is room for the Holy Spirit to release His calm direction in my life.

When I take care of allowing the Lord to wash away my sins with His unlimited forgiveness, there is room for the fresh blanket of His grace to be wrapped around my heart.

When I take the time to cultivate the Word into my daily life, I will be a sweet aroma not only to Him but to those around me.

But here’s the most beautiful part…

The Lord dwells within us at the exact moment we receive Him as our Savior.

The. Exact. Moment.

He doesn’t wait for housekeeping to tidy things up and remake the bed before He knocks at the door of our heart. We have the astounding privilege of opening the door of our life to Him EVEN IN THE MESS!!

When we are in a season of sweet communion with the Lord, [think…clean house…clean heart…clean mind…} our relationship with Him is right on track and it is easier to follow where He leads. Because let’s face it, a clean house means you aren’t tripping over the bag that needs to go to the donation center (yeah, totally did that this morning!) or having our senses blown away when we pass the garbage can that needs to be emptied.

But even when ~ and sometimes especially when ~ we haven’t taken good care of the dwelling place of our own heart and mind, the Lord is still there. The Holy Spirit remains in the mess. His whisper is harder to hear amidst the junk, but He still speaks to us.

What will it look like today for you to “clean house” in your heart?

Imagine what the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit will look like when He has space to freely roam. Think about how much easier it will be to hear what the Lord is saying to you when He doesn’t have to compete with the noise of the unnecessary. Picture the garden of promises that you are resting on from His Living Word instead of rusty old broken dreams.

Clean your house.

Refresh your soul.

Buy the flowers.

Drink your tea wrapped in a cozy blanket.

Invite people in.

Ephesians 2:19-22 paints a lovely image of being a part of God’s house…So then you are no longer strangers and aliens [outsiders without rights of citizenship], but you are fellow citizens with the saints (God’s people), and are [members] of God’s household,  having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus Himself as the [chief] Cornerstone,  in whom the whole structure is joined together, and it continues [to increase] growing into a holy temple in the Lord [a sanctuary dedicated, set apart, and sacred to the presence of the Lord].  In Him [and in fellowship with one another] you also are being built together into a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.”

Oh my friend…did you catch that? We are members of God’s household! He wants a place in our life and invites us to have a place with Him. What a treasure!!!

Don’t wait another day.  If you have never asked the Lord into your life, He’s ready for you right now! If you need a refresher of the Holy Spirit because you have felt distant from the Lord, just turn around and open the door of your heart because He’s standing right there!!  Jesus will always be ready to come in ~ He’s just waiting for you to invite Him to stay!!

Be in fellowship with God and with each other…both aspects will fortify your life in every way imaginable!

Blessings,

René

Ephesians 2 verse 22