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

Sharing God’s Truth without Compromise…part 1

I recently taught in our adult Sunday school class at church and wanted to now share it with you all!

I’ve been gripped lately on what it means to share the truth of God’s Word ~ WITHOUT COMPROMISE!  And not just with the world around us, but within the Christian communities we are a part of. And yes, there’s plenty of compromise that goes on within the church communities regarding the Word of God. But we’ll get to that…

So here goes Part 1 of 4 ~ hope you join me and let me know how you share God’s Truth without compromise.

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J.J. Packer once said, “There is a difference between knowing God and knowing about God. When you truly know God, you have energy to serve Him, boldness to share Him, and contentment in Him.”

This can be one of those topics that is both simple and difficult at the same time. It is simple because we simply need to look and see what God’s Word says about life and this world and live accordingly. But it is difficult because there are so many in our world today who view Christianity through an incredibly negative lens.

The reason why that is the case, is because we have not as a community of Christians, of believers, of people who are supposed to be Christ minded, have not set a good example. So many people walk around with the idea that, “What do I need to be saved from?” “Don’t tell me I’m a sinner.”, and my favorite, “Well I’m not as bad as that person.” I know I have been guilty of that mindset more often than I care to admit.

In Part 1, I would like to talk about how we share the truth of the Good News with people who have not come to know who Jesus really. People who we work with, neighbors, people in our family. There are so many different ways that we can share the Good News of God’s Word without compromise and without coming across as ultra-judgmental either.

Even though the fact is that we are all sinners with a need for the reconciliating power of salvation – and so many in the world do not want to admit this – it is better to have this realization in your life while you are here on this earth and deal with it here instead of waiting until the ultimate day of judgment after you have left this earth and stand before Jesus.

A very difficult concept to wrap around our mind is the idea of people that we know who die without being saved and the fact that we will not see them again in heaven. I think of the depth of sadness that my father experienced at the death of his father, knowing that he would never see him again after his death. As a parent, and as someone who has attended just a few funerals for non-Christian people, it is absolutely heartbreaking to me when I see the children of that person look up to the ceiling with comments like, “Well Mom, wherever you are I hope you’re doing well.”

Honestly, it was not until I was 31 years old that I attended such a funeral. I was completely heartbroken for these young 20-something children that they had nothing to give them hope of ever seeing their mother again. The entire family was not saved so it was not something that they had ever really talked about, but it was heartbreaking nonetheless.

I am beyond grateful that my children and my future grandchildren will never have to say that about me.

So how do we share Jesus with people who don’t know Him? One thing that has been encouraging to me is watching the way that my daughter Savannah shares the gospel. Very, very rarely {if at all} these days does she ever start a conversation with, “I’m a Christian so let me tell you about Christ.” Because the term “Christians”really puts people on edge.

What she has found is when she simply talks about Jesus, most of the time it completely changes the course that the conversation will take. She will say things like, “Well you asked me what the difference is in my life and I can honestly tell you the difference is that I really love Jesus. Have you heard about Jesus?”

In Philippians 2:9-11 Amplified Bible (AMP) It talks about how powerful the name of Jesus is: “For this reason also [because He obeyed and so completely humbled Himself], God has highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus [a]EVERY KNEE SHALL BOW [in submission], of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess and openly acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord (sovereign God), to the glory of God the Father.”

There is power every time we say His name. The mighty Name of Jesus.

There is power because of not only who He is but what He has done to save us and reconcile us back into relationship with Him. When you tell people that you love Jesus and then why, it is usually incredibly compelling. People don’t want to have verses and laws and rules quoted at them. They want to hear about experiences and feelings and a life altering moment.

This does not mean you have to have some crazy, sensational kind of testimony, it simply means you have a story to tell about who you are because of who Jesus is.

A few years ago I heard a speaker say, “If the testimony you share is the same one you’ve been sharing for the past 10 years, what does your relationship with Jesus really look like?”

They went on to say that our testimony should continually be changed and updated as we live our life for and with Christ. Our testimony is somethings that is supposed to be new and fresh all the time. The only way for that to be a reality is if we are in a relationship with Jesus where we are actively in conversation with Him and available to the Holy Spirit who can work in and through us, every day.

The Bible is filled with encouragement as to how to share God’s Truth. One verse I love is 1 Corinthians 16:13-14‬ ‭{AMP‬‬} “Be on guard; stand firm in your faith [in God, respecting His precepts and keeping your doctrine sound]. Act like [mature] men and be courageous; be strong. Let everything you do be done in love [motivated and inspired by God’s love for us].”‬‬
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That last sentence is key in being without compromise as we share the truths of God’s Word with others. Everything, not just the easy stuff, but everything we do must be done in love “motivated and inspired by God’s love for us.”

We have the absolute best gift in the world and we don’t share it! I know I have shrunk back at times, from being vocal about my belief in the Lord and how He has worked in my life. For what? Fear that people will think I’m a crazy Jesus freak? A conservative Christian who’s clueless about things “really” work in this world?

So lame of me! Jesus’ death and resurrection will always trump any possible embarrassment I may feel on this earth. If I’m sharing HIM with others, it’s not up to me how they receive HIM…it’s up to me to share.

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Be on the lookout for part 2!  It’s coming soon!!

Blessings,

René

 

 

 

 

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

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

 

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

Active Patience….

These words just do not seem to go together…Actively patient? Patiently waiting? Eagerly awaiting?…

Active: engaged in action characterized by energetic work, participation, etc.;

Patience: an ability or willingness to suppress restlessness or annoyance when confronted with delay.

So if we play the old teacher trick of learning how to use words properly and write a sentence using those words…so here’s mine ~

To be engaged with energetic participation while at the same time being willing to keep annoyance at a distance when faced with task of waiting. {rab}

Doesn’t that sound like fun? 🙂

Our brains just don’t seem to work that way to think that these words could actually be a complement one another. The season that our family has been in for the past several months has been one of excitement and sorrow, anticipation, joy, and sadness. As the day drew closer for her daughter’s wedding we were eagerly anticipating that special day and praying that God would be honored in that day. And He absolutely was! It is a surreal for sure to watch your baby get married and pledge her life to the man that you have been praying for years since she was a child. To see the reality of those prayers, those 24 years worth of prayers, come to fruition is joyfully humbling. To see how their lives have been shaped by a variety of events, how their paths crossed so many times, how they could’ve met on many different occasions…But God knew the exact moment that He wanted to bring them together and it was perfectly timed.

That is the kind of anticipation we all dream about and become giddy about when we see it coming true.

But what about the anticipation of knowing a loved one has the proverbial one foot in this earth and one foot at the threshold of heaven? When you know their heart is eagerly awaiting a moment of being Jesus and with those who have gone before them? How do we put that together in our mind? There is nothing you can do except to be patient while your loved one appears to be helplessly waiting for their time to come.

Twenty-five short days after the most joyful day of our year, watching our daughter as she got married, we watched my father-in-law and my grandmother called home to be with the Lord ~ within one day of each other. The sorrow that overcame me in those days was real, but just as real was the joy that they are whole and complete in the presence of the Lord…their Savior they both so dearly loved.

In the midst of all of that, my husband developed a terrible case of shingles on his face just a mere six days after the wedding. I’ve had my own issues with shoulder pain that seemed to come out of nowhere. And then we added some more joy (TRULY!  It’s fabulous!!) in the form of a new job opportunity for my husband and a very quick transition of our youngest daughter moving away to her dream college… finding ourselves in the proverbial beginning of being empty nester.

That whole empty nest part of life, well, I can tell you honestly it is not something that I have been eagerly awaiting. It is not something I have been longing for. Sure, there are days that I remember what our three girls were small children, and I would fantasize about having the house to myself…More importantly, having a clean house to myself. But I do not like the quiet. I do not like it at all. But this is where God is going to meet me and I suppose if I am being honest with myself, and with you as you read this maybe you find yourself in the same place, I am not necessarily eagerly awaiting to be alone or to be quiet with God.In so many ways it is nerve-racking to admit this. I have been a Christian for 40 years, I love the Lord and my heart is to serve Him, and besides that, are we supposed to admit these times when we are a little nervous or maybe even afraid to be alone with God?

I can say that I am nervous about what I will hear from the Lord.

What does He want from me in this new season of my life? What will he require from me in order to serve Him? Will it be hard? Are there decisions ahead of me that will be difficult to make? All of these things ramble around in my mind and I am grateful that the Lord is patiently awaiting my availability to be with Him. Oh sure, I will read devotionals, I will read inspirational books from fantastic authors, I will read the youversion Bible app verse of the day… but I know God is calling me to much, much more.

Psalm 37:7 {AMP} “Be still before the Lord; waitpatiently for Him and entrust yourself to Him; Do not fret (whine, agonize) because of him who prospers in his way, Because of the man who carries out wicked schemes.”

God is calling me to a place where I can be patiently waiting – actively patient – dare I say, eagerly awaiting even?

God wants me in a place every morning where I can honestly pray and tell the Lord, “Use me today however You want to, in the way that You need to, in order to bring You glory.” Even now it is really easy to write this because I have followed the Lord for so long, I know the right answers. I know the right things to say to make me sound as though I have my “Christian walk” all together. But until I put all of that knowledge to work, nothing that God has called me to do will be accomplished the way He intends.

I have researched hundreds of verses that talk about being patient, being eager, about waiting…And all of them point me to the same place.

I must seek him first. Always every day.I need to trust the voice of the Holy Spirit when He whispers to me an idea, something to pray about, someone to pray for, even the thoughts that come to me for ideas about writing a blog post or writing a book. After seeing how God has created so many opportunities in my life for His glory to shine through because of how He has provided for me and for our family, it is a wonder even to me that I doubt the call that God has placed on my life.

Where do you find yourself today? Are you in the same place that I am right now? Are you wondering how someone can call themselves a “good Christian” and have these doubts that I have? {but please please remember that our salvation is NOT based on works…we are only saved through the grace and favor from the Lord Jesus Christ ~ John 14:6}. What part of the journey that you are on, the call that God has put on your life, where are you at with it?

Are you simply sitting back waiting for God to show up and do something or are you eagerly anticipating thoughts and ideas that have been whispered to your heart in a way that is filled with actions and excitement? The beginnings of a new year are always full of resolutions, new promises to ourselves and others, and a sense of renewed hope for the future. But the one common denominator in all of those things, for any of those things to happen in the way God intended, is for us to be active participantsin the adventure! If I want to see God working in my life I have to be in direct communication with Him so that I can recognize those moments when they come.

This reminds me of a conference I went to last year where I met with the main speaker afterwards. She spoke a word over my life and shared an image that God gave her for me. She said, “I see you in a hot air balloon and God is asking you to become completely untethered. Let go of all those things that are keeping you safely on the ground. Trust Him to take you to height that you have never imagined…but God is asking you to cut the ropes.”

That word absolutely excited and terrified me at the same time! As you can well imagine I’m sure. I believe that there are several of those rope tethers that I have cut loose. But even now as I write this blog, God is showing me a picture of that hot air balloon still halfway tethered to the posts on the ground. It is off balance and the fire that is needed to lift the hot air balloon properly off the ground cannot be fully realize because if it is, it will simply burn a hole through the side of the balloon, and I will not be able to take off.

All of the ropes need to be untethered so that I can fully let the Holy Spirit’s fire burst forth in my life. I have to trust that that fire will not burn me…It will only shine a light and bring glory to the Lord as He leads me to the places He intends for me to be. When I sat down to write today, actually I am voice texting all of this into my Notes app on my phone while I drive home from Orange County. Honestly, sometimes the only time I feel that I have to myself, even though I am now an empty nester, is when I am driving in my car somewhere. Especially in Southern California there is a lot of traffic to sit through so it works out pretty good.

That aside, when I was beginning to say is that I had no intention of going so deep but this is what happens when I let go of my intentions, my agenda, my expectations, and let Jesus truly take control.

Psalm 130:5 “I wait [patiently] for the Lord, my soul [expectantly] waits, And in His word do I hope.”

My goal and prayer is that these words will cause a fresh wave of God’s peace to wash over you. Maybe that wave needs to knock you over like it does for me today, but He will not let you be overwhelmed. Have you ever done one of the “trust falls” ~ that’s what it’s like trusting the Lord a lot of time…lean back and trust that He will catch you when you lean back and/or pick you up when you fall.

My prayer is that you hear God’s voice in your own life, right now, telling you what your next step needs to be, what rope you need to cut and become unattached from. And of course, the verses that I am sharing with you today, I pray that you will find rest and solace in the truth of God’s Word. Don’t just take my word for it, go to His Word and dig deeper so that you have the awesome experience to encounter with what the Holy Spirit has been trying to tell you for so long.

Today is that day that you can start again……Where you can embrace the opportunity to patiently yet at the same time eagerly, a wait and see what God has for you!

Blessings,

René

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

Your View: Windshield or Rear-View…

Are You Looking Out the Windshield or the Rear-View Mirror?

I got the idea for this discussion topic from a sermon I heard the other day on the radio.There’s a reason why the windshield on a car is so large and the rear-view mirror is so small.

We need to have a wide view of what is out in front of us so that we can see where we are going. The point of driving somewhere is to move forward to get where we intend to end up. We don’t drive backwards to get to our destination. Right?

I know these concepts are not mind-blowing or something new…but I think it’s a good reminder every now and then to take notice of where our attention lies.

Rear-view mirrors, and side-view mirrors for that matter, aren’t bad though…they are completely necessary.

When we look up to check the rear-view or side-view mirrors, that’s just it…it’s just to take a quick look to make sure we are not in danger of being in an accident or causing an accident as we move about the road. We are not to allow our focus to linger because if we do, we are bound to run into the car in front of us.

Our past is like those smaller mirrors.

There’s a warning bell that sounds in your heart or your head, when you’re about to veer off course.  It’s the alarm that alerts us to check ourselves. Are we about to make the same mistake for the millionth time? Are we about to say the wrong thing to someone…again…knowing it won’t work? Did we forget what happened the last time? And if the mirror checks don’t work, then when we drive over those little bumpy-things (I’m sure they gave a name!) that’s a physical AND audible alert that we need to correct our path or we’ll soon be in trouble!

When we look into the side mirror, we can see that car speeding up really fast to our left and make that quick decision to WAIT to move over.

When we look into our rear-view mirror, we can see that car speeding up behind us or flashing their lights at us, and decide we need to move over and let that person go on their merry way albeit too fast and not get involved in their crazy. We can also see the red lights of a fire truck or police car, alerting us to move over because there’s trohbke ahead!

So how does that this translate into our spiritual life?

What side glances get you off track?

What kinds of things do you think you should be focusing on in your “front windshield”?

Let’s look at some scripture that talks about looking forward or behind.

Proverbs 4:25-26 (AMP) “Let your eyes look directly ahead [toward the path of moral courage] And let your gaze be fixed straight in front of you [toward the path of integrity]. Consider well and watch carefully the path of your feet, And all your ways will be steadfast and sure.”

 Right there in scripture ~ “…look directly ahead…”  When we direct our gaze straight ahead, like through a large windshield, we will see the path that clearly leads to integrity!

Hebrews 11: 23-29 (AMP) “By faith Moses, after his birth, was hidden for three months by his parents, because they saw he was a beautiful and divinely favored child; and they were not afraid of the king’s (Pharaoh’s) decree. By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, because he preferred to endure the hardship of the people of God rather than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin. He considered the reproach of the Christ [that is, the rebuke he would suffer for his faithful obedience to God] to be greater wealth than all the treasures of Egypt; for he looked ahead to the reward [promised by God]. By faith he left Egypt, being unafraid of the wrath of the king; for he endured [steadfastly], as seeing Him who is unseen. By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of the blood [on the doorposts], so that the destroyer of the firstborn would not touch them (the firstborn of Israel). By faith the people [of Israel] crossed the Red Sea as though they were passing through dry land; but when the Egyptians attempted it they were drowned.”

 I love that these verses in Hebrews remind us that it is not simply looking ahead & fixing our gaze on the Lord; it is through FAITH that we can accomplish this daily task.

 We are also instructed in God’s Word to take His direction for our life very seriously. When He tells us not to look behind us {dwelling on past sin; obsessing over something you think you’ve missed out on; staying stuck in a cycle of unforgiveness; etc.} then He means it!! 

Genesis 19:26 (AMP) “But Lot’s wife, from behind him, [foolishly, longingly] looked [back toward Sodom in an act of disobedience], and she became a pillar of salt.”

God also shows us through scripture how He provides the way out of a situation. One that is getting a bit frightening or unsettling. In Genesis 22:13 (AMP) we see just that…“Then Abraham looked up and glanced around, and behold, behind him was a ram caught in a thicket by his horns. And Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up for a burnt offering (ascending sacrifice) instead of his son.”

 Let go of the past and start moving forward! Maybe it’s an actual physical move out of the environment you’re in (work, neighborhood, state…). Maybe it’s a shift in your heart ~ an attitude you’re having is causing disruption in your spiritual life. 

Luke 9:61-62 (AMP) “Another also said, “I will follow You, Lord [as Your disciple]; but first let me say goodbye to those at my home.” But Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back [to the things left behind] is fit for the kingdom of God.”

Don’t linger on looking into the smaller windows. Look through the bigger lens of God’s Word…through His windshield!

Blessings,

René

 

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

Expectancy…

For many years now, I’ve heard stories from friends, read countless social media posts, and heard it talked about from the pulpit…”God gave me a word for the year.” Then I would listen as each person unpacked what it meant to them that God gave them a word.  Well, why did I never receive a word from the Lord for my life? For the year ahead?  Goodness sake, for the DAY ahead!

Simple answer.

I never asked for one.

Yeah, I know…kind of a “duh” moment.  Honestly, I never asked for it before because I thought it was just the trend of the decade.  Everyone was doing it and I didn’t want to follow along with the latest “Christian thing to do.” If I’m really and truly being honest with you though, I also never asked for God to give me a word because I was afraid of what it would be and what would be required of me to live into that word He had for me. I’m guessing y’all might be feeling the same way.

So…what to do?

Pray…and ask!

I John 5:14 is quite clear about this and says, Now this is the confidence we have before Him: Whenever we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.

There is so much in the Christian arena that has it backwards about asking the Lord for something in prayer.  There is absolutely NOTHING in the Bible that tells us that all we have to do is ask and we get whatever we want.  This is making God into a wish-giving genie and that is definitely who the Lord is.  The verse above says that whatever we ask that is in line with the plan and purpose He has for our life, that is what He will give.  And when we are close to Him, when we lay down our wants and needs at the feet of His throne, then the depths of our heart, mind, and soul are completely immersed in desiring what HE wants for our life…and we in turn want that too.

In January of this year, I went trembling before the Lord and asked Him to give me a word for the year of 2017.  Immediately I heard God breathe the word “Expectancy” into my heart.  “Did I hear You correctly Lord?  Expectancy?  Oh man…what do you mean by that?  As long as you don’t mean that I’m literally going to be ‘expecting’ then I’m good with your plan.”

{I’m in no way diminishing the joy of being pregnant and bringing a child into this world…we have three daughters and they are 23, 21, and 17…our oldest is getting married in November…and I’m 48 years old…that would totally freak me out to have a baby at this stage in my life!}

So, expectancy…okay…

The only questions from above that I felt I had a clear answer about was ~ Yes!  I did indeed hear the Lord correctly.  And No! Not a literal baby would be joining our family.  Whew…okay…lets roll!

This word has lingered in my heart all year long so far and every time something wonderful was about to happen or actually happened, I would smile up at my Father and thank Him.  But I felt like I wasn’t getting the full gist of what God intended with this ‘word of the year’.  I kept feeling like something is coming but I have no idea what that is.

I’m a planner.  I like to make lists.  I like to cross off tasks from my lists.  I am known to add things to my list that I accomplished just so that I can cross it off my list!  To walk around with a sense of expectancy every day is actually kind of frustrating and a bit mentally exhausting because I find myself In a constant state of waiting.

I don’t like to wait.  I really hate waiting.  No, like, I really really hate it!

But that my friend is a HUGE part of being expectant.

The Psalms are filled with wonderful verses to encourage us in the wait…

27:24 ~ Wait for the Lord; be strong and courageous. Wait for the Lord.

33:20 ~ We wait for Yahweh; He is our help and shield.

39:7 ~ Now, Lord, what do I wait for? My hope is in You.

40:1 ~ I waited patiently for the Lord, and He turned to me and heard my cry for help.

130:5 ~ I wait for Yahweh; I wait and put my hope in His word.

So much of our life is spent waiting and expecting.

You take a test in school to see if you will pass on to the next grade level or if you’ll make it into a Graduate program…and then you wait for the results…expecting the outcome you hope for.

You find out you’re going to have a baby…and you wait a long 9 months and wonder what incredible miracles are going on underneath the expanding skin of your belly…and  you wait…you are quite literally, Expecting!

You are dating and you are sure that the person you are with is “The One”…you wait for the proposal to come…expecting to have your dreams come true.

But what happens when the waiting lasts way longer than you want it to?  What happens when the outcome you expected to happen, doesn’t?  Do you feel like you’ve wasted your time, efforts, or prayer time? Especially when you feel like the thing you are waiting for, that event that you are so full of expectancy for, doesn’t come to pass…or at least not how you imagined it would?

What do we do then?  I know I have had those seasons in my life when absolutely nothing seemed to be going in my favor in that of our little family. Constant worries about finances, health, personal issues, and the future.  Would anything ever work out for us?  Would life be okay again? What kind of witness am I to unbelievers when they know I’m a Christian but it appears that God isn’t hearing me in the wait.

Look carefully and see the difference between what I just wrote above and the verses I’ve shared with you below.  What do you see?

Psalm 5:1-3, 11-12, beautifully captures the heart of the one who is waiting…

Listen to my words, Lord; consider my sighing. Pay attention to the sound of my cry, my King and my God, for I pray to You. At daybreak, Lord, You hear my voice; at daybreak I plead my case to You and watch expectantly. But let all who take refuge in You rejoice;
let them shout for joy forever. May You shelter them, and may those who love Your name boast about You. For You, Lord, bless the righteous one; You surround him with favor like a shield.

The difference is the focus of my heart.

When it’s all about me, the scope of life is quite small. When I remember that my focus needs to be on the Lord, my whole world opens up to see what it is that HE wants me to be interested in, focused on, who crosses my path that needs encouragement, and so much more.  Suddenly, the wait isn’t unbearable any longer.  I can walk confidently throughout my days and have a heart of expectancy because I know that I serve a God who created the Universe and has created a plan and purpose just for me!  That’s pretty amazing people!!

We won’t always see the fruit of what we’ve been waiting for.  We don’t always get the answers we want.  But we have a secure hope in the Lord that He has the answers and He knows what is best.  We also have the gift of His written Word…the Bible…which is full of encouragement with incredible stories of those who have gone before us in the wait.

Abraham and Sarah were actually told what they could expect to happen…but they had to wait for decades to see the promise. (Genesis 12 and 21).

Moses was saved from certain death because his mother hid him, Pharaoh’s daughter found him, God called him, he came up with every excuse in the book, and then trusted God would give him the strength to accomplish the task of setting the Israelites free. Although Moses knew the promises that would happen, he was disobedient in the wait and was able to move fully into the fruit of the promise. (book of Exodus). But he remained expectant.

Saul (of the New Testament) had an encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus ~ WHILE he was still beating and torturing Christians. Immediately Saul was blinded by the glory of the Lord, soon after was healed through prayer from a man who feared him (but completely trusted Jesus), and became Paul…a man whom the Lord built His church (Acts 9).  In Acts 9:15-16 says of Paul, But the Lord said to him, “Go! For this man is My chosen instrument to take My name to Gentiles, kings, and the Israelites. I will show him how much he must suffer for My name!” This is just one story proving that God sees the whole picture and He is trustworthy in His promises, His decisions, His plans, and in what He asks us to be expectant for.  It is not an easy task to do what God has set forth for us to accomplish, but it’s not about us and it won’t be easy!  That’s why we must constantly lean into the Lord and follow His plan!

Today, be bold in the Lord and ask Him to whisper to your heart what He wants for you.  Be it a word for the year, a task He wants you to undertake, a promise He has for you in the future…whatever it is, ask Him to show you how it is you are to move forward in the time of waiting, in this season of expectancy. When you are in line with His plan, He will be oh so good in showing you HOW do wait in Him.  How to rest in Him.

He will be faithful to bring you a sense of peace and calmness while you are expectantly waiting for His promises to come to fruition.  If for no other reason that your faith in the Lord will grow by and extraordinarily large amount!!

And whatever it is, it will be well worth the wait.

Blessings,

René

~~ Psalm 37:5-7a ~~ Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him, and He will act, making your righteousness shine like the dawn, your justice like the noonday. Be silent before the Lord and wait expectantly for Him;

Psalm 37 verse 5

 

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

A New Calling…

Today, I am living in an “in-between” frame of mind. It is Wednesday morning in Shanghai and it is early Tuesday evening at home in SoCal. My mind is in two places at once and so is my heart.

I had to write this quick before the memory subsides…that is, if it will.  I wasn’t even sure that I was going to post this for “all to see” but that is the point of sharing what God has laid on your heart.  Let others know so that they can partner with you!  Our stories and our experiences are meant to be shared.

I left the hotel after having breakfast with Tony (my man!), to walk down to the local Starbucks. Yeah, I know….but sometimes you just need the smells & tastes from home.

As I stood outside at the corner waiting to cross the street (or should I say, waiting to play tag with the myriad of cars, pedestrians, scooters, and bicyclists) I was struck by this thought….

“How many of these people know the Lord.” 

I can tell you that I normally don’t have that question running through my mind unless I’m in a situation that I’ve prepared myself to be in. Does that resonate with anyone else? I think living in America, I just figure that everyone at least knows who God and Jesus are. They may or may not believe in Him as their Savior, but they have heard His name.  I mean, I am a “tag along” on Tony’s business trip, not on a purposeful, planned for, missions trip.

The next moment, the Holy Spirit begins to whisper a directive to my heart…a promise of sorts. One that I’m totally unprepared to hear. 

“These are my people and I am calling you to love them. I am calling you to be available to serve my people in ways you have only begun to imagine. I am calling you to love my people around this world who are desperately seeking Me but don’t know how to find me.”

I began to feel completely undone in my heart, the tears started to well up in my eyes, and I was both thrilled and terrified to begin to ponder what all this means.  So I guess I was terrifrilled?

So, not wanting to scare anyone around me as I walked down the street, I let my heart ask the questions.  I was already crying, talking out loud would bring way more attention than I wanted to garner.

“What are You talking about Lord?” 

~ I’m telling you to love my people. You have Me so you have the ability to do that.

“How am I supposed to do what you’re asking?”

~ I gave you the gift of writing and conversation, so use that.

“Do you mean I’m literally going to travel the world?”

~ You have a passport & a 10 year travel visa to China, don’t you?

….ps….I love it when the Holy Spirit has a sense of humor in His answers…

“Okay, what do I do now?”

~ Just listen to My voice and you will know My plans for you.

Um….okay….

But being me, I want to know and I want to have it all figured out…now. 

I will tell you that even now, sitting at a window table in Starbucks, the tears are once again pouring down my cheeks. My heartbeat quickens as I think again about what I feel God just told me. And once again I think, “But what does that mean??” 

The Lord is so good…because as soon as I ask that again, He begins to bring memories to my mind of past conversations.

I’m remembering a conversation I had this past September with a sweet godly woman, Mrs. Jan Yaxley, as I sat with her in a lovely restaurant overlooking a small pond that was mostly covered with water lilies. I met her because I had the privilege to travel with Tony on a business trip to Snells Beach, New Zealand.  {seriously…it’s so cute!}

Her husband Trevor, owns a Christian animation company that Tony is connected to via one of their films.  On one of our last days in town, she asked to take me to lunch. It was one of those moments where you meet someone for the first time but feel like you’ve known them your whole life.  

We talked about our kids, stages of life, and what we saw the Lord doing in our life.

If you know me, you know that I love to write and speak/teach within church ministries to women of all ages. My hearts desire is to be a published author and speak to women all over. Admittedly, when I shared this with her, what I meant by “all over” was to be just around the country…the US…safe places. 

She said to me, “Why not the world? What about China?”

{insert sound of tires screeching here}

Wait now…what?!

I just about spit out my coffee! What in the world was she talking about?? What do I want to do that for? I’m a stay at home mom with stuff to do at home. {side note…don’t let anyone make you feel like you are “just” a mom….it’s the hardest job!}

You see, she & her husband have contacts all over the world including China. With their company, they do a lot of business with people in China. That coupled with knowing that Tony travels to China sometimes, she said, “The next time Tony goes to China, you should go with Him. God has a plan and I see you speaking to women all over the world about how much God loves them & wants to pursue them.”

Women from all over the world? Well, living in Southern California, that is definitely possible because of the melting pot of culture we live in. So, okay, sure…women from all over the world.  Check!

To be honest, when Tony found out that I could accompany him on this current trip to Shanghai, I didn’t remember that conversation with this lovely woman. I thought… “Yay…free trip to China? Let me go get my travel visa!”

Which brings another memory swirling to my mind.

When I picked up my Visa at a little Chinese travel office in Pasadena, the man & woman that were there were so happy to see me. I was greeted with smiling faces, “We have been waiting for you Miss René.” What? They are just being good business owners. But still…it totally caught me off guard. I got my wallet out of my purse to show them my ID & receipt of purchase, they checked all documents, and handed me my passport back. 

It was open to the page where my new 10 year visa had been secured. The gentleman said, “You have many trips ahead of you. Please enjoy my country and my people.”  

Um….okay….

Is that something he said to everyone? The woman behind the desk seemed just as enthusiastic in wishing me many good travels ahead.

Back to reality….My heart is once again struck with this memory, more tears are threatening to fall down my face. 

Isn’t that basically what the Holy Spirit just whispered to my heart a short bit ago as I decided to take a walk instead of going back to my room to read?

“These are my people and I’m calling you to love them.”

Right before we left for this trip, I took a friend out for a pre-birthday lunch at one of my favorite places in San Marino called Julienne’s. {If you go…buy a loaf of their Rosemary Currant bread…it’s amazing!!}

I was telling her about a funny thing that had come up for the trip. Tony actually has events & meetings set up with three different companies & the schedule was packed! So much so that he was double-booked one of the mornings. Lo and behold, the contact for one of the meetings asked if I would go in Tony’s place. Well sure, happy to help out. 

Then a few days later, I found out that I was expected to give a speech…in front of 50 members of the press, and about 150 other attendees. Good thing I’m not afraid of public speaking!! Thank you Jesus!!

I shared this with my friend at our lunch, and jokingly said, “My first speaking gig in China.” Haha!! She finished her bite of meatloaf and said, “Why are you laughing. It could be the first of many. You don’t know what God is going to do.” My friend is one who hears so clearly from the Lord, speaks with conviction, and does so carefully as to only share what she hears the Holy Spirit says to her. When she has prophetically spoken over me, I know it’s something to pay attention to.

I didn’t end up giving my 5 minute speech but that was fine.  However, I felt a stirring in my heart during the mtg, but didn’t know why…until I heard God tell me that Tony & I would soon visit this city. Really? Me too? That doesn’t make any sense?  Tony is the business guy. What will I be there for?

Nonetheless, I did my job as VP of our Animation company (Tony Bancroft, Inc.), and all was good. Then our contact came over to me & said, “Come over here. Someone wants to ask you a question.” Turns out that “someone” was a local newscaster from the city that was hosting the press conference; and along with my interpreter, we had about a 5-7 minute interview. All I know is, there were far more then 200 people who saw that.

What does God have planned??? 

I don’t have anymore to go on right now, but I tell you what…I’m gonna be paying extra attention from now on!  I never have really had an experience where God’s plan has been perfectly laid out before me to follow.

I’m not nervous about the future. I have lived enough of life’s joys and challenges, that I EXPECT to be surprised by God and how He chooses to work.

I’d be lying if I didn’t admit sometimes I wished that He worked according to my time table; but I’m always more grateful that He doesn’t. My journey of faith has been one of great triumphs and desperately low defeats. But my faith has grown stronger with each step. Strong enough that even when I get freaked out about life, I know beyond a shadow of doubt, that His plans are the best…that His direction for me is the most fruitful.

So now, I wait. And I watch. And I dig deeper into God’s word to receive His direction.

I share this with you to ask you to join me in prayer ~ to see God’s path & to boldly walk through doors of opportunity, to love His people all over the world. 

Thank you for reading this & thank you for your prayers!!

Blessings,

Rene’

Street in China by hotel

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

Careful, your mask is slipping…

I was recently watching a show that I had recorded on TV, called Kingdom of Heaven, taking place in the 12th century during the Crusades, set in Jerusalem. {http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0320661/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1}

It was very fascinating to me that the king of Jerusalem at the time was not a well man, he had leprosy. But that did not stop him from ruling the country. His birthright deemed it so and he did his job to the best of his ability. It was interesting how he wore a metal face mask to hide the ravages of leprosy that had attacked his face. For every day tasks he had a plain mask, where the only thing you could see was his eyes. It was a little unsettling to be able to hear him speak but not see his mouth or his lips moving. The mask was solid in the area all around his face except for his eyes. What I found very interesting was that when he knew he needed to go to war with the enemy, with all of his frailties and disfigurement, he knew as the king he had to be the one to lead his people, his army into battle.

He did not dress down for the battle either. He put on his full armor.

It was so astonishing to see him enter the battlefield dressed in his finest linen edged with intricate gold stitching and amazingly intricate patterns of other gold fabric that had been woven into the garment. But what was even more fascinating was his mask. The mask he wore was absolutely stunning. It had been carved with beautiful flowers and vines that intersected all over the whole thing. When he met his enemy in the middle of the battlefield he spoke with strength and determination and was able to settle their proposed battle without any bloodshed.

Upon his death he wore another mask that was darker in color to reflect the somber situation. The last words he spoke to his sister were, “Please remember me for who I am and what I used to look like in my youth.” You see, she had not seen him in his disfigurement.

He had servant’s that took care of him and his decaying body…and were sworn to secrecy. And I don’t believe it was from embarrassment, I think it was from a place of honor and respect. But after this king had breathed his last, the sister removed mask ~ his beautiful & perfect mask ~ to reveal a face that was hideously disfigured by the leprosy.

She was of course shocked, but you could tell the sadness in her eyes was simply because her brother was now gone. Not because of what he looked like.

So how many masks do we wear throughout our life, our day?

When we are feeling disfigured spiritually by the sin in our life, we put on a mask, and use beautiful garments to hide what is really going on underneath. We have different masks that we wear depending on who we are with. A mask with our family when we are out in public. A mask when we are with our family behind closed doors. A mask that we wear when we are volunteering at our kids school. The mask we wear at work every day. Maybe even the mask we wear with our spouse?

Most of the time I think that mask we tend to put on is just a regular, simple and fairly ambiguous mask. The one that says, “Life is great!” when it really isn’t.

The more beautiful the mask, the more disfigured the soul. The harder we try to distract from the ache of our soul, the deeper the lines are at carved into our mask. We don’t want to let anyone know about what is really going on…

  • Anxiety
  • Financial problems
  • Eating Disorder
  • An abusive relationship
  • Difficult children that are getting out of control
  • Addiction problem
  • And the list goes on and on.

So what happens when that mask slips? When our frustrations and fears get the better of us and we begin acting out of control?

Luke 12:2-3 says, “There is nothing covered that won’t be uncovered, nothing hidden that won’t be made known. Therefore, whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in an ear in private rooms will be proclaimed on the housetops. (HSCB)

How much of our life stays covered and hidden from the Lord?  NONE of it! The masks that we have so cleverly and carefully fashioned over the years, will fall away in the instant that we come before the Lord, humble ourselves, and ask Him to make the beautiful the disfigurement of sin.

I John 5:12-15 reminds us, “The one who has the Son has life. The one who doesn’t have the Son of God does not have life. I have written these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life. Now this is the confidence we have before Him: Whenever we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.  And if we know that He hears whatever we ask, we know that we have what we have asked Him for. (HCSB) {emphasis mine}

The Lord came to earth for YOU…to bring you back from the depths of sin and eternal death.  He does not want you to experience the death of sin, so He has given us the gift of His salvation.  There is nothing we can do to earn it.  There is no need to wear a mask of perfection for Him…because He can already see beneath the mask.

From personal experience, I know what happens when you remove the masks you where in your life. Freedom happens. But it isn’t easy. God expects us and wants us to be a part of the recovery. We have to be determined to operate within the power and strength of HIS might…not our own.  When we try to do it on our own, the mask will pop right back on!  Don’t save the mask, no matter how beautiful you think it is!  THROW IT OUT!

You find true freedom in walking the path as the person God created you to be, flaws and all. You will bring honor to the Lord when others see that you struggle in life, but more importantly, you put your faith and hope in the power of the Lord.  When the mask comes off, we are proclaiming that we are not perfect, but we are perfectly LOVED by the Creator of the Universe.

And if you have any doubts as to where “the mask” fits into the spiritual battle armor (Ephesians 6)  we are called to wear?

It doesn’t.

There is NO mask.

When the mask comes off, our countenance will tell the story of God’s redemption and His love.

Matthew 5:16 declares, “In the same way, let your light shine before men, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.” {emphasis mine}
Take off your mask today ~ choose to live in the freedom of eternal life ~ and share with others the great glory of God’s salvation!
Blessings,
 René
Luke 12 verses 2-3