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

 

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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

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

Words ~ the power to hurt or heal…

One of the little rhymes I heard as a child that I never understood {and actually, I really hated it!} was the one that goes, “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” Have you heard that one?

What a pile of rubbish!!!!

Words hurt sometimes!!! A lot!!! They cut deeper than we can imagine. Whether those words are spoken to our face, behind our back, or through the glorious glowing screens of social media platforms.

Words are powerful ~ not only do we need to be careful about what we say to others but {almost} more importantly, what we say to ourselves!

From the First5 devotional app, that I was reading today (Day 6 of Return to Refuge plan, by Kellye Schiffner Carver), she writes Habakkuk recalls God’s character and resolves to trust in Him.” This referred to Habakkuk 3:18-19, “Yet I will [choose to] rejoice in the LORD; I will [choose to] shout in exultation in the [victorious] God of my salvation! The Lord GOD is my strength [my source of courage, my invincible army]; He has made my feet [steady and sure] like hinds’ feet And makes me walk [forward with spiritual confidence] on my high places [of challenge and responsibility].”

Look at all of those positive things that Habakkuk speaks back to the Lord…characteristics that He has given us as His children…strength, courage, salvation, steady, sure, confident…not one thing uttered here is of discouragement.

How many times this month (or goodness sakes…just today!) have you said something negative over yourself? Maybe you don’t even realize you’re doing it because it’s become second nature?

Let me share a story…

For the many years of my adolescence & early adulthood, I truly believed I was ugly.  Not just slightly  unattractive or not really pretty…but really and truly ugly. I mean, I must be because people made fun of me for how I wore my hair, what clothes I wore to school, the gap in my front teeth, oh, and the fact that growing up our family didn’t eat sugar.  Like we were “that family” before eating healthy was cool.  We made our own peanut butter, my mom made cashew milk for our whole grain hot cereal, we made our own grain free granola.  Oh and the sugar free peanut butter was mostly enjoyed between TWO huge rice cakes! {Hello 1970’s when Whole Foods was only known at a few stores called Mrs. Gooch’s}!!

{all the glory that was me in the 8th grade!}

At any rate ~ the teasing was endless…the whispers were terrifyingly loud…my weirdness factor was off the charts.

It wasn’t until I was in my early 30’s that I was able to break free of the “I’m ugly” curse that I had spoken over my life. There were times in-between those years that I felt pretty, but not many…Senior Prom, Senior Pictures, my wedding day and honeymoon, and the days my three daughters were born. That’s about it.

Thanks to some super deep talks in the dark with my husband and some difficult conversations with a dear friend, they helped me walk out into the light of who God saw me as, who God called me to be, and who they saw me as. The hardest thing that my friend asked {okay…she TOLD} me to do was to say, “I’m fearfully and wonderfully made by God and I am beautiful.” But that wasn’t all of the mandate…I had to say to myself…IN THE MIRROR!

Ugh!

I had to look at myself and say it out loud…every…day! Until I could say it confidently without looking away and without disbelieving what I was saying. It took at least a month but maybe more. It was painful and I hated it. But I did it.

At first I did it because we were raising three little girls. I could see that it pained them whenever I said something demeaning about myself. My husband could see the far-reaching potential of those hateful things I said out loud about myself, and the affects they would have in our daughters’ lives. Only I had the power to change that. So I said the words. I said them until I began to see myself the way God did. The way my husband and children did. The way my true friends did.

I haven’t felt ugly since then.

Ephesians 4:29 {AMP} warns, “Do not let unwholesome [foul, profane, worthless, vulgar] words ever come out of your mouth, but only such speech as is good for building up others, according to the need and the occasion, so that it will be a blessing to those who hear [you speak].”

People!  This is not just talking about what we say to other people, whether to their face or in gossip. This verse is about how we speak to our self!

STOP SPEAKING LIES OVER YOUR LIFE!

Some of the things we say about ourselves don’t even register as a lie because we’ve said it so many times, we believe it’s true.

“I’m so overwhelmed.”

“I’m such a bad mom.”

“I’m a horrible wife.”

“I’m never gonna be like her.”

“I’m never going to amount to much.”

“I’ll never find a husband.”

Oh my friends….let me give you a great encouragement here…none of those phrases were ever said about you by our amazing Heavenly Father! NONE of them!

The first blessing God spoke over us was this from Genesis 1:26-28, 31 “Then God said, “Let us (Father, Son, Holy Spirit) make man in Our image, according to Our likeness [not physical, but a spiritual personality and moral likeness]; and let them have complete authority over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, the cattle, and over the entire earth, and over everything that creeps and crawls on the earth. ” So God created man in His own image, in the image and likeness of God He created him; male and female He created them. And God blessed them [granting them certain authority] and said to them, Be fruitful, multiply, and fill the earth, and subjugate it [putting it under your power]; and rule over (dominate) the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and every living thing that moves upon the earth.” God saw everything that He had made, and behold, it was very good and He validated it completely. And there was evening and there was morning, a sixth day.”

Did you catch that last part? Does it talk about us being good enough to be made? Perfect enough to be given authority? Unflawed enough to deserve to be created in the image & spiritual likeness of the Trinity? Nope…not once!! Did we have to work hard & prove our worth? Nope, not even that! Yet He validated us COMPLETELY!!!!

And everything He saw that He’d made ~ which includes you and me ~ He thought it was good!!!

We are sealed by His words of creation, and sealed forever by the salvation through Christ, the Living Word!!

All through the New Testament, the Lord calls us His beloved, His children. He calls us precious, restored, renewed & reconciled. He provides the free gift of salvation. He calls us by name and declares us wonderful!

When you don’t have words of your own, speak Psalm 139:14 (amp) over yourself, “I will give thanks and praise to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it well.”

Here’s another one to speak over yourself from Psalm 141:3 (amp), “Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; Keep watch over the door of my lips [to keep me from speaking thoughtlessly.]”

When we speak lies over ourselves, we begin to allow the spirit of that attribute to cover us. When we speak the truth of God’s Word over our life, we allow His character to cover us.

Either way, how we live is affected by what we speak. Our heart is affected by what we speak over ourself. And our mind listens to it all.

I still have body issues that I’m dealing with, my I know that I’m not ugly. What I do know is that I’m beautiful because God made me. I’m joyful because I live for Him. I’m happy because I know how miserable I used to be. I’m grateful that the Lord (and my fantastic husband and sweet friends) wouldn’t let me stay in a miry pit of sadness and depression. I can smile and laugh because I know my life has a plan and purpose that only God has orchestrated for me to fulfill!

The power of words is important for us to understand. It is vital to speak truth over ourself, our spouse, our children, our families, those in our circle of influence, and really, to speak God’s truth over & into the lives of anyone the Lord puts in our path!!

So if you feel like you can’t say something nice…pray a Psalm out loud instead!!

Blessings,

René

{Living out a special day with family in the beauty that is Waimea, HI ~ Big Island ~ and I actually ASKED my daughters to take some photos of me!}

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

Gratitude is a Weapon…

Have you ever smiled at someone as you pass them in the grocery aisle? What about complimenting a stranger on their cute outfit? Or the beautiful silvery coif of the elderly neighbor walking their dog?

{But seriously…if you’ve never done something like this…you’ve got your assignment for today…go out and pay a stranger a truthful and encouraging compliment!}

These are just a few little ways we can help change the attitudinal landscape from complacency to gratitude.

The definition of gratitude is actually very simple ~ the quality or feeling of being grateful or thankful.”

So how does a compliment bring on gratitude?

First of all, when you compliment a stranger, it’s known by both parties that it’s an actual real compliment.  It’s not something you feel you have to say or something you are obligated to do. Letting someone know that they are seen, that they are appreciated, that they have been noticed ~ well, it can turn their day around…and maybe even their month! In this way, we’ve helped to shift that person’s perspective on life a bit. They will absolutely remember what you said and how it made them feel. And that feeling can turn into at attitude of gratitude. And I bet they are going to be more likely to pass it on!

But gratitude as a weapon?

A weapon is anything used against an opponent, adversary, or victim, according to the dictionary.

Okay…go with me one more time down the “road of words” here as I put together both definitions of gratitude and weapon…

When we are being attacked verbally, emotionally, or via social media, we can combat all of that garbage by taking on a stance of thankfulness for what we know the truth is.

Too hard you say?

Jesus did it all the time…and it’s in and through His living word that we can gain the tools necessary to use gratitude as a weapon.

I Corinthians 8:3 (AMP) says, “But if anyone loves God [with awe-filled reverence, obedience and gratitude], he is known by Him [as His very own and is greatly loved].”

If we remember the truth that we are KNOWN by God, then we can choose to be grateful and thankful in situations instead of offended and crushed.

I Thessalonians 5:16-18 (AMP) tells us, Rejoice always and delight in your faith;  be unceasing and persistent in prayer;  in every situation [no matter what the circumstances] be thankful and continually give thanks to God; for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.

I will admit…this is a hard one to grab hold of sometimes!  When someone wrongs me {or God help them…wrongs one of my people!} the first thing that comes to my mind isn’t usually how I can give thanks to the Lord for the situation we are in. But if I’m going to take the word of God literally as the inerrant and living Word of the Lord {and I do!} then I have to take it ALL literally. These verses above say those three little words…”in every situation.” Well dagnabit! I don’t always want to. Okay, let’s be real, I never want to…but it is what God is calling me to do on the daily!

Oh and the “continually give thanks to God” part ~ that gets me every time! How can I always be in a posture of thankfulness when a loved one is dying? When I see stories of severe abuse and trafficking on the news? When my friends’ marriages are experiencing painfully deep betrayals? When finances seem to disappear like a puffy dandelion blown in the breeze? I’m sure you can add your own items to this list as well.

Note that God does not ask us to be thankful BECAUSE a bad situation is encircling our camp. His heart does ache with ours when we experience sorrow and disappointment. He is our GOOD GOOD Father and just as my heart is saddened when my kids go through difficult circumstances, how much more does the heart of our Heavenly Father twinge with affection and love when He knows we are hurting!!

I Peter 1:2-5 sheds some light to us about the WHY we are to have that ‘attitude of gratitude’…according to the foreknowledge of God the Father by the sanctifying work of the Spirit to be obedient to Jesus Christ and to be sprinkled with His blood: May grace and peace [that special sense of spiritual well-being] be yours in increasing abundance [as you walk closely with God]. Blessed [gratefully praised and adored] be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant and boundless mercy has caused us to be born again [that is, to be reborn from above—spiritually transformed, renewed, and set apart for His purpose] to an ever-living hope and confident assurance through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,  [born anew] into an inheritance which is imperishable [beyond the reach of change] and undefiled and unfading, reserved in heaven for you, who are being protected and shielded by the power of God through your faith for salvation that is ready to be revealed [for you] in the last time.”

When we closely walk in relationship with the Lord, He will increase our spiritual well-being so that we can live in new mercies every day BECAUSE of the extravagant FREE gift of His salvation. Even when it doesn’t feel like it sometimes, we are always protected by the heavenly armies because God loves us that much! This makes living a life of gratitude that much more attainable.

Living apart from God’s redemption is what we are saved from having to endure…that is more than enough of a reason to live a grateful life.

In the MOST powerful example of using gratitude as a weapon was when Jesus offered Himself up to die on the cross. He took upon EVERY SINGLE SIN of the whole world {past, present, and future} in order to save us from an eternal death away from Him. Salvation is the most exquisitely crafted weapon against satan and all his demons.

Satan loses. And he loses every time.

When we call upon the name of Jesus to save us and to be with us in our every day life, satan loses. Satan is a loser and a liar, so shut him down!

Hebrews 12:1-3 is a beautiful encouragement to us ~

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses [who by faith have testified to the truth of God’s absolute faithfulness], stripping off every unnecessary weight and the sin which so easily and cleverly entangles us, let us run with endurance and active persistence the race that is set before us, [looking away from all that will distract us and] focusing our eyes on Jesus, who is the Author and Perfecter of faith [the first incentive for our belief and the One who brings our faith to maturity], who for the joy [of accomplishing the goal] set before Him endured the cross, disregarding the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God [revealing His deity, His authority, and the completion of His work]. Just consider and meditate on Him who endured from sinners such bitter hostility against Himself [consider it all in comparison with your trials], so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

In His grace, in the gracious way that Jesus loves us, He used gratitude as a weapon against any evil that could ever be formed against us. We have an enemy but we also {and more importantly} have the victory! We have already won!

Jesus showed His kindness and His compassion to the woman at the well, to the woman who washed His feet with precious perfume, to the man healed of leprosy, to the man healed of blindness, to the woman accused of adultery, to the woman at the empty tomb…and so much more!

John 8:10-11 paints a picture of the gracious love of Jesus & what happens when He trades our sin for His salvation ~ Straightening up, Jesus said to her, “Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?” She answered, “No one, Lord!” And Jesus said, “I do not condemn you either. Go. From now on sin no more.”]

May I challenge you with something today? Okay good, here it goes ~

Begin to arm yourself every day with the weapon of Gratitude , with the tools of Joy, with the song of Prayer, and with the adornments of Thankfulness! Now talk about being dressed for battle! You’ve got this!!

Have a powerful day!!!

Blessings,

René

 

1 Thessalonians 5 vs 16-18

 

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

Gossip is Murder…

Have you ever given this some thought? I certainly had not. Until a few months ago, the Holy Spirit whispered to my heart (mid-gossip might I add),

“You are murdering that persons reputation with your words.”

Whoa! Right between the eyes with that one!!

Before I truly begin…I want to start out with a verse from scripture that Paul was writing to Timothy. Paul {used to be Saul, before his conversion} had treated Christians horribly. Believing he was acting in the best interest of the Law (before Christ’s death and resurrection) he was the chief proponent of brutally executing follower’s of Christ. So this is why he says in I Timothy 1:15 “This is a faithful and trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptable and approval, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost.” Paul knew firsthand the grievances caused by his refusal to allow Christ to truly reign in his life.

So here we go…

Hi, my  name is René, and I’m tempted to gossip on a daily basis.

There it is…out in the open…

I don’t necessarily want to write this blog about gossip.

It’s been sitting in my “drafts” for several months now and I can’t keep scrolling past it. I can’t say that I’m no longer tempted to participate in gossip…I’m just becoming more and more sensitive to the pathways that lead to gossip.

I think it’s a worthwhile topic to delve into because, let’s face it, if we’re honest with ourselves, we are ALL tempted to gossip!

Just thinking of this makes me also think of two passages in Romans ~ 7:15 “For I do not understand my own actions [I am baffled and bewildered by them]. I do not practice what I want to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate [and yielding to my human nature, my worldliness—my sinful capacity]. “ and 7:25 “Thanks be to God [for my deliverance] through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind serve the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh [my human nature, my worldliness, my sinful capacity—I serve] the law of sin.”

I immediately feel convicted in my heart by the Holy Spirit when I’ve gossiped. I don’t want to do it. I don’t mean to do it. But I fall into that quick trap way more than I want to admit. But this has taken time…I have lived too long where I ignored those promptings of the Holy Spirit that were telling me not to gossip, or even to listen to gossip. I was more concerned with people thinking I was trying to “act spiritual.” Oh brother!  What a fool I was!!

I mean, the world is right out there in the open with gossip…”hot Hollywood gossip”…”Gossip Girl”…TMZ…BuzzFeed…and well, every news outlet on the planet. In the Christian world it can be much more subtle…

If we are not careful, we can turn a meaningful prayer request into a conversation full of gossip.

The dictionary definition of gossip is this ~ 1. idle talk or rumor, especially about the personal or private affairs of others: the            endless gossip about Hollywood stars. 2. light, familiar talk or writing. 3. Also, gossiper,   gossipera person given to tattling or idle talk.

Did you catch the part in #2 ~ even in writing we can be gossiping. Want to know why?

Because gossip comes out of our heart ~ it pours out through out mouth or through our fingertips.

Whether we talk about someone behind their back or via a text or email, it’s still gossip.

Now you may be wondering a bit more about the title of this article. How can gossip be murder?

Gossip is murder because you are annihilating someone’s character with as much impact as if you were to shoot them with a gun. The pain caused to someone’s life can sometimes be irreparable. I know, because malicious gossip spread about me when I was in high school (at church no less…spread around by the son of a pastor!!) pretty much ruined my character and cost my parents some of their friends.  Well, I guess if those couples were really friends of my parents, they would have stuck around to find out if the rumors were true or not. But hey, a 9th grade hormonal boy who happens to have a dad that is a pastor isn’t capable of lying…right???

{Disclaimer…I did forgive that boy and all the other people who believed – and continued to spread – the gossip many years later. Forgiveness is key people!!)

The Bible is VERY clear on God’s stance on gossip. 

Gossip is: malicious, untrustworthy, divisive, offensive, greedy, selfish, contentious, unrighteous, wicked, evil, arrogant, jealous, immoral, brutal, hates good, and it’s just plain mean!

The Lord tells us to steer clear of anything smelling (or tasting) like gossip!

It may feel good in the moment, but it’s forever a mark on our own character. It truly tells you more about the person gossiping than the person being gossiped about!

It wasn’t until I was in my 40’s that I began to realize (yeah….I can be a slow learner sometimes) that when I was participating in gossip, where someone was speaking ill of another person in our circle of friends, that they could very easily be speaking ill of me to other people that I knew too.

I mean, that was totally one of those “Duh!” moments in my life but I really believed that it couldn’t happen to me. We women can be so petty with one another. So vindictive. We’re a better mom because we don’t let our kids eat sugar. We’re a better wife because we cook three meals a day seven days a week. We’re a better housekeeper because we know how to prioritize. Garbage! No one is that perfect! NO ONE!

Instead of climbing up on the precarious pedestal, looking down upon all the other women around us, we gotta get real, hop off that thing, link arms together and lift each other up!  Find out what our friends truly need and help them achieve their goals. No one has it all together and shame on us for making others feel like they are less-than because they do things differently.

You know that phrase “hurt people, Hurt people.” It’s so true! ALL gossip comes full circle {because IT ALWAYS DOES!!} and the pain that is caused is truly heartbreaking.

We have to stop being in competition with each other. We have to stop comparing ourselves with each other and for sure with every unrealistic image of “womanly perfection” that is drowning the lives of every woman every where!

Will you commit yourself, with me, to practice “Mouth Control”?

It’s hard at first, but if we are in this together, we can combat the temptations of gossip together!

We can gather together in true prayer for one another.

We can keep confidences where they belong.

We can shore up the reputations of one another in our circles of influence and direct conversation AWAY from gossip instead of a slippery slope down into the pit.

And before you get offended that a few of the verses I found here only seem to direct ‘not gossiping’ to women…let’s be real…we females are the worst offenders of gossip. If God didn’t think that we would be the ones tempted to gossip the most, He would have phrased things differently.

Not one of the words written down in scripture has been put there by mistake.

Whether we like it or not. They are all there for a purpose. And that purpose is to draw us closer to the Lord so that we look more like Him when we are walking around in this world, and less like the world.

Please be encouraged to read through the following scripture passages. Even if you have already read them, read them again…it’s worth the reminder!

Let us decide TODAY that we will be champions of one another, lifting each other up and not shooting them down with malicious gossip. Think and pray before you speak…for that is the best way to stop gossip from even coming out of your mouth in the first place.

Leviticus 19:16 “You shall not go around as a gossip among your people, and you are not to act against the life of your neighbor [with slander or false testimony]; I am the Lord.”

Psalm 41:6 “And when one comes to see me, he speaks empty words, While his heart gathers malicious gossip [against me]; When he goes away, he tells it [everywhere].”

Proverbs 11:13 “He who goes about as a gossip reveals secrets, But he who is trustworthy and faithful keeps a matter hidden.”

Proverbs 16:28 “A perverse man spreads strife, And one who gossips separates intimate friends.”

Proverbs 17:9 “He who covers and forgives an offense seeks love, But he who repeats or gossips about a matter separates intimate friends.”

Proverbs 18:8 “The words of a whisperer (gossip) are like dainty morsels [to be greedily eaten]; They go down into the innermost chambers of the body [to be remembered and mused upon].”

Proverbs 20:19 “He who goes about as a gossip reveals secrets; Therefore do not associate with a gossip [who talks freely or flatters].”

Proverbs 26:20 “For lack of wood the fire goes out, And where there is no whisperer [who gossips], contention quiets down.”

Romans 1:29 “until they were filled (permeated, saturated) with every kind of unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice and mean-spiritedness. They are gossips [spreading rumors],”

2 Corinthians 12:20 “For I am afraid that perhaps when I come I may find you not to be as I wish, and that you may find me not as you wish—that perhaps there may be strife, jealousy, angry tempers, disputes, slander, gossip, arrogance and disorder;”

1 Timothy 3:11 “Women must likewise be worthy of respect, not malicious gossips, but self-controlled, [thoroughly] trustworthy in all things.”

1 Timothy 5:13 “Now at the same time, they also learn to be idle as they go from house to house; and not only idle, but also gossips and busybodies [meddlers in things that do not concern them], talking about things they should not mention.”

2 Timothy 3:3 “[and they will be] unloving [devoid of natural human affection, calloused and inhumane], irreconcilable, malicious gossips, devoid of self-control [intemperate, immoral], brutal, haters of good,”

Titus 2:3 “Older women similarly are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor addicted to much wine, teaching what is right and good,”

Blessings,

René

 

Proverbs 11 verse 13

 

 

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

Waking up early….

I’ve recently been getting up an hour earlier than normal time…

{hold the applause…my “early” is 6:20am!}

…to make sure I’m spending time with the Lord. It was hard the first few days, but now I’m starting to kinda wake up even before my alarm goes off! It’s the beginning of a new routine that I’m committed to keeping. It’s so worth it!

You may not be in a season where you can spend an hour sans interruption & I get it…this is a new season for my husband & I as our last kiddo moved out a few weeks ago to live in a dorm…yeah…she’s like 22 minutes away from our house (in SoCal, we count travel by minutes not by miles) and I still miss her like crazy!

I find myself now in the place of being able to have an uninterrupted quiet time for 30 minutes, or an hour (or sometimes more!) and I remember the younger mommy version of myself ~ when I would hear things like that I would just roll my eyes and frustration and wonder how that woman could talk like that?  She was clearly deluded in not being able to remember the difficulties of having a house full of kids. “Quiet Time”? Seriously?

But I do… I do remember…and I do get it.

I remember thinking when my last child went off to full day kindergarten that I would suddenly have all of this time to myself between the hours of 8:30 AM to 3:00 PM, to do whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, however I wanted…Or quite frankly to not do anything at all!

But even so, I would find that my day was still packed with this parent meeting I needed to attend, for that class party, or the never-ending 15 loads of laundry that still wasn’t done or having to go to the grocery store again for the third time that week!

And some days I just simply wanted to take a nap!

Those are the seasons that I had to get creative about Bible study and my time with the Lord. There were plenty of times where I force myself to wake up at 6 o’clock in the morning so that I could have 45 minutes to finish my Bible study because after all, I was the leader of the whole Bible study and how bad that would look if I showed up without doing my homework! And inevitably, as I’m sure you have found for yourself, you read something in that Bible study homework that definitely could have helped you to have a better week. And it was a constant reminder when I would have that thought, “Well, if I would just do my Bible study every week, every day that I should be committed to, then I won’t be missing out on those daily blessings that the Lord intends for me to have that day.”

Guilt. Guilt. Guilt. UGH!

So how did I get creative with three kids at home? Then with three teenagers at home…

In the days when my youngest was still half day preschool, I would choose a day that week to bring my Bible study material with me and after dropping her off, I would find a little coffee shop to go to… And that was back when Starbucks really was the only place I could go…and I would commit those 2 1/2 hours to reading scripture and working on whatever Bible study it was that I had going on the time.

As my girls got older, and we never seemed to live in a place where we are five minutes away from church, I still wanted our girls to be as involved as possible. So on the evening that they had their small groups during high school years, I again would pack up my Bible and study material and find a coffee shop or restaurant to hang out in for two or three hours…because come on here, we are dealing with high school girls with A LOT of emotions and Bible study small group never lasted for only two hours. But who am I kidding, when I go to meet a friend for coffee as I’m walking out the door my husband says, “Have fun at your five hour coffee date!” He thinks it’s quite funny but it’s totally true and there’s always more to talk about as the timers start ringing on our phones to remind us that we have to get back to “real life”.

But I would enjoy that weekly time away from the house, knowing that I could enjoy (or at least deal with) the 30 minute drive in traffic taking my daughter to small group because I knew it would be beneficial to me as well.

So take a look at your schedule, your week, the activities that your kids are in. Instead of begrudging the job of being a chauffeur for many many years, use those opportunities to read your Bible, dig into your Bible study, or simply to just read a good book. If you can’t see a window of opportunity, pray and ask the Lord to help you carve out that time you desire to spend with Him and He will absolutely answer your prayer.

As my girls grew older and began leaving the house to go to college, I realized that my daytime hours were so busy, and then they started driving themselves to small group.  I was losing my ‘time away’ opportunities. Then I realized what I had to give up…one of my most precious commodity…Sleep!

I love to be able to wake up without an alarm, knowing that I have woken up naturally, rested, and ready for what the day ahead. I really hate waking up to an alarm! But I began to do this, I has never disappointed by my time with the Lord. An afternoon nap sometimes needed to be worked into the schedule! LOL! Isn’t it funny how when we are little children we fight nap time tooth & nail. And then when we are adults, we crave naptime! I saw a bumper sticker one time that said, “Nap time is wasted on the young!”

Can I get an AMEN on that!

I did that just about every day for about 1 1/2 years (not the nap time…the waking up early thing!) and then I stopped.

There was really no rhyme or reason, except it was summertime and the schedule of the family was more relaxed. I kept thinking I would pick it back up ~ I didn’t. My heart and soul suffered for it.

I became a ‘collector’ of books and bible study material. Not a reader of them or even a real reader of the Word. I downloaded a few bible study apps on my phone, but even those were haphazardly read, if at all.

What was wrong with me? I loved the Lord and I always love to read the Word to see what new nugget I can learn about God and who He is. I’m involved with several different ministry areas, so why on earth could I not get myself together to be consistent and disciplined to be with my Father.

For the past year and a half actually, I knew what something off in my life and I knew the solution needed to be the simple act of waking up early.  For the purpose of  spending time with the Lord and find out how He wanted to direct my day.

So I am back at it!

I started about two weeks ago and it has become so precious to me! I’ve already started thinking about how we are going on vacation soon and I want to make sure that I keep this going. I am committed to doing this ~ catch my Instagram and you all can help me stay accountable!

So why are things different this time around? How have I gained a renewed commitment to waking up early? Oh, and by the way I’m not talking about 4:30 AM or 5:00 AM… My early is 6:20 AM. Why 6:20am?

The first day I set my alarm for 6:30am, because after all that was an hour before I usually book up. AN HOUR!!! And yes momma’s…there will come a day when you will be able to sleep past 6 o’clock in the morning, it’s coming! But for now enjoy those little faces they come into your room at “o’dark 30” breathing into your face saying things like “I can’t find my teddy bear” or “Can we have pancakes for breakfast?” I do so miss those little faces, even when they would be nose to nose with me and completely freak me out when I sense that “someone is watching me” feeling! You know what I’m talking about!

At any rate, back to the plan. I set my alarm for 6:30 AM on that first day and I decided to prepare the night before… I know, what a novel idea! I set the space as if I was setting up for a special seat for a guest visiting our home. I put water in the kettle, chose a special mug, and picked out some wonderful smelling tea and got it already for the next morning so all I would have to do is plug in the kettle and let the tea steep. After that first morning I realized it took me 10 minutes to get up, brush my teeth, have a glass of water, get the kettle and tea ready. Those ten minutes were cutting into my precious hour with Jesus.

The next day, I decided I would get up at 6:20 AM. Seriously those extra 10 minutes early felt like a HUGE sacrifice for the first week! But not only would I get all of my tea items ready, I would also get “my spot” ready. I still have the rocking chair that I rocked my babies in and it now sits by the window in our living room. There is a little desk next to it that has a small lamp on it that I can turn on in the morning without completely disturbing are sleeping dog.

Hot tea in hand, I make my way quietly through the house and get settled in the rocking chair with a nice soft blanket over my lap and I close my eyes and pray and ask the Lord to show me Himself and show me how I can be a light and honor Him during the day.

It is absolutely the best part of my day!

One of the funny things that is happening now is that I am beginning to wake up a little bit even before my alarm goes off.  What??? That is so funny to me! Remember how I said before that I absolutely hate waking up to an alarm? God is so good to whisper to my heart that it’s time to wake up. However, there are plenty of days that I need that alarm to wake me up! Even in this, the Lord has blessed me because as my alarm goes off instead of dreading the day ahead of me, He reminds me that I am waking up FOR Him. Which means I am waking up for my family, for myself, and for the opportunity to serve Him the best that I can. That is a miracle for sure!

There’s a book I’ve been reading (and following the author/ministry on Instagram) about setting aside intentional time with God. (Not paid to say this…but go get Kat Lee’s new book called Hello Morning & follow on social media). It’s so practical and I really believe that is the key. Find something that works for YOU and stick with it. The timing will change, the study will change, and all that is okay ~ it all depends on your season of life. The beauty of God’s Word is that it DOES NOT CHANGE! No matter what time of day, or study, or book that you study, His Word will absolutely come alive for you every day that you intentionally spend with Him.

God bless you in your journey of time with the Lord!  I’d love to hear how you work out a new solution too ~ message me here or via social media spots. You will always come away refreshed!

Blessings,
René

Psalm 143 verse 8

 

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

Did God Disappear….

Have you ever felt this way? Like God has completely disappeared from your life? I will admit that the thought (and feeling) have crossed my mind. Especially when I’m going through a difficult situation.

I feel lost!

I want answers!

I need help!

Sound familiar?

There is usually a reason why at times, I don’t feel God’s presence in my life, and it does always lay at my doorstep. We don’t want to take responsibility most of the time, let’s just be honest here, but feeling far away from God usually means that we have continued walking on our merry way down a path that God has not intended for us to travel. There’s a saying I heard years ago, but it’s so true, “It only takes one step in the right direction to find God again.”

He is always right there when I need Him. Always!!

But sometimes, there might another reason why we feel that God has seemingly disappeared from our life. Maybe it’s because He’s shielding us. Maybe He’s behind us, protecting us from something coming, something striving to devour us. I Peter 5:8 {AMP} warns us to be alert, “Be sober [well balanced and self-disciplined], be alert and cautious at all times. That enemy of yours, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion [fiercely hungry], seeking someone to devour.”

There is SOMETHING seeking to destroy us and his name is Satan. He and his demons really do have a plan to completely screw up your entire life.  He wants to get us so anxious, worried, depressed, angry, etc., that we think God has disappeared. All of those distractions become like a thick fog over our spiritual vision and we can’t see our own hand in front of us. But let me assure you…God is still at work in your life when things seem upside down.

If you go back into the verse above, you will see that the devil is “like a roaring lion” ~ he is NOT a lion though…but he sure makes us think he has that kind of power when he’s lurking about. The devil’s job is to poke around in our mind, confuse us, cause us to doubt the truths we know,  and quite simply bring us to a point where we lose hope.

Matthew 22:37 {AMP} says, “And Jesus replied to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’”, and we are told this because we are cautioned in Ephesians 6:11-13 {AMP} saying, Put on the full armor of God [for His precepts are like the splendid armor of a heavily-armed soldier], so that you may be able to [successfully] stand up against all the schemes and the strategies and the deceits of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood [contending only with physical opponents], but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this [present] darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) places. Therefore, put on the complete armor of God, so that you will be able to [successfully] resist and stand your ground in the evil day [of danger], and having done everything [that the crisis demands], to stand firm [in your place, fully prepared, immovable, victorious].”

So although God is working on our behalf, He also calls us to be an active participant in the process of keeping the Lord close and the enemy far away.

But for those times when we are actively pursuing what God has called us to do, how He asks us to live, the way in which to raise our children, our attitude at work ~ whatever it may be ~ and we still feel alone, let me take you to the Old Testament for quick minute and give you some encouragement.

In Exodus 14:19-20 {AMP} we read, “The angel of God, who had been going in front of the camp of Israel, moved and went behind them. The pillar of the cloud moved from in front and stood behind them. So it came between the camp of Egypt and the camp of Israel. It was a cloud along with darkness [even by day to the Egyptians], but it gave light by night [to the Israelites]; so one [army] did not come near the other all night.” 

To put these verses in perspective, the Israelites were in the middle of escaping Pharaoh. Now, the Pharaoh had let the people go with Moses, but then he had a change of mind when he realized that he no longer had anyone to do the manual labor around town. So he sent hoards of his chariots and armies to get them back.

The Israelites were already anxious about leaving the life they knew in Egypt (even though they hated it…it was what they knew), and God knew this too.  He knew the depth of anxiety they felt as they walked across the land. I’ve always thought that the people who were in the front of the pack, walking closer to Moses and Aaron, would’ve been quite a bit more at ease than those closing up the ranks. I mean, come on, if they were attacked, who was gonna die first?

But check this out…those folks in the front also could see the cloud that God was in, the one leading and guiding them, seemingly disappear. That must have been incredibly unsettling. Can you imagine the conversations, “Hey – did you notice the cloud left us?” “Um, I think God just disappeared.” “What do we do now…where do we walk?” Those people in the front were suddenly forced to believe that although the cloud was behind them and probably looked a bit smaller way at the back of the pack, it was still there!

It had moved but it was still there!

The cloud offered a massive amount of protection…one that was not even quite realized by the Israelites. It offered a source of light for them to walk by night and it appeared as darkness behind them so that the armies of Pharaoh could not see them, or each other.

The cloud that God was in, stayed there until the Israelites were safe!  The whole group (which was probably more than a million people) came to the Red Sea.  Once again, the people had to trust that God was still there. Moses had to trust that he was hearing God’s instruction. The sea parted, the people walked across on dry land…and that cloud stayed behind them all along the way to the other side. God caused confusion for Pharaoh’s armies and they were annihilated by the Lord when the sea walls came crashing back together. {Exodus 14:21-30}.

It only looked like God has disappeared, leaving the people to fend for themselves…but He didn’t.

And He hasn’t left you!

Look around your life and see where the hand of God has protected you? Shielded you from injury or attack? And if you can’t identify something right away, pray and ask the Lord to show you how He has protected you.  He WILL absolutely reveal to you where He has been in your life.

You left your keys in your unlocked car ~ and it was still there when you got back?

You left for work later than usual, causing great irritation, only to pass a horrific car accident on the freeway that possibly could have been you?

The anonymous grocery gift card that is dropped off on your front porch when you’re in need.

And so many others…

If you look hard enough, meaning, if you take your eyes off of yourself and lift them up, you WILL find the Lord. You will see Him guiding you, protecting you, shielding you. He is not far from you ~ just turn around and you will see.

He’s been there the whole time!

Blessings,

René

Exodus 14 verse 19