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Living with open wounds…

I recently heard a phrase that broke my heart, “My wounds are still open.”

It is a simple, yet jarring statement. It is one that made me want to give the person a big hug and let them know that it was going to be okay. It just made me weep.

Almost as immediately as the tears came, the promises from scripture filled my mind. Jesus does not intend for us to live with open wounds. He is the Healer of Healers and in Him do we find the answer for what ails the deepest part of our spirit.

When my daughters were little, there would be the inevitable skinned knee or elbow as they played outside. They would come to me with those big crocodile tears and tell me how they got hurt. Of course, I would scoop them up and bring them inside with the promise that “Momma will make it better.”

Before I could put on the bandage though, my sweet girl would have to sit through the tough part first. To ward off infection, you have to clean the wound and it stings! I’d try to make a game of it, “I’ll sing a song and you blow on it.” Okay probably not super sanitary to blow on an open wound, but they all survived! Depending on the intensity of the wound, sometimes the cleaning out process took a few tries. Once I knew it was all clean, the antibiotic ointment was applied and then a fresh bandage. Ahhh….the tears dried up and the soul of my toddler was soothed.

It still wasn’t immediately healed but the process had begun. I mean, just the concept of skin growing back over the part that was skinned off (sorry if you’re eating right now…) is a phenomenal part of how incredible God created our bodies!  He knew our bodies would need protection and He created a perfect plan to accomplish this! He is beyond amazing!! All this to say, it takes time for the wound to heal; for the skin to grow back; for the tenderness to go away. But when it’s all completely healed, most of the time you can’t even tell where the wound had been. Sometimes it leaves a scar, but that also means that the wound is healed.

What about the wounds that happen out of our disobedience? Or the wounds that are inflicted on us by another person? A wound of the heart…the mind…the soul? You can’t put bandages on those kinds of wounds and more often than not, those wounds are the ones that take the longest to heal.

We’ve all had those kinds of wounds. The key is, what do you do with them?

From experience, let me tell you that if you are waiting for someone else to “heal” you ~ settle in. If you are waiting for the person who did the wounding to “make it better” ~ settle in. And if you are the one who is responsible for bringing hurt into your own life, you have to own up to that!

And if you don’t…

Settle in for a life of misery. Seriously! That is what you are asking for. And that misery is not the fault nor responsibility of the other person…that misery you bring it all on yourself.

When you decide to sit with your wounds open to the world, everything around you will cause that wound to sting. You don’t want to be around anyone who is happy, content, celebrating, joyous, or fulfilled. How dare they walk around with the a smile on their face when you are so miserable! And people who are sad, disappointed, angry, disillusioned, well, you don’t want to be around them either because they are taking away your spotlight of misery! You can’t win ~ and with a bitter attitude, you never will.

As you walk through your life with an open wound, you may develop a bit of a scab over it, but it’s still there. At any moment it can be reopened and the pain is deep. You feel the initial wound all over again.

The pain of the initial wound, when left untreated, only has one direction to travel…to the depths of your heart. You become irritable, untrusting, bitter, angry, and filled with rage. No one can get close enough to you to help the healing begin.

Oh my friend.

Stop.

Just.

Stop.

Proverbs 27:5-7 says, Better is an open reprimand [of loving correction] than love that is hidden. Faithful are the wounds of a friend [who corrects out of love and concern],
But the kisses of an enemy are deceitful [because they serve his hidden agenda].”

The enemy, the devil, satan, whatever you want to call him – all he wants to do is keep you in your misery. He wants you to miss out from all the good that God has planned for your life. He wants you to walk around feeling entitled to your wounded feelings. UGH! Satan loses in the end, well, he already has lost, he’s just prolonging the inevitable!

This is why it is so important to keep good friends in your life who will direct your gaze back to the Lord; back to the One who has your life in His hands. Jesus is a faithful friend to you as well.

It doesn’t mean that the healing process is going to be easy or fun. It’s gonna hurt! Cleaning a wound that has been left unattended…ugh!  Makes me cringe to think about it. But oh how worth it to live out your life with scars rather than open wounds.

Psalm 147:3-5 shows what the Lord does for us, He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds [healing their pain and comforting their sorrow]. He counts the number of the stars; He calls them all by their names. Great is our [majestic and mighty] Lord and abundant in strength; His understanding is inexhaustible [infinite, boundless].”

Remembering that Jesus lived as God and Man on this earth can bring comfort to your heart during the healing process. He is the only One who knows what it is to be wounded physically, emotionally, and mentally, AND be able to stop it in the blink of an eye. Yet He chose the opposite.

Jesus felt the pain from the death of a loved one.

Jesus felt the pressure that came from being hunted by those who wanted Him dead.

Jesus felt the betrayal of a friend.

Jesus felt the mental anguish from Satan who tried to lure Him into temptation.

Jesus felt the physical pain of beatings to horrific that He was practically unrecognizable as He hung on the cross.

Jesus felt the despair of taking upon all the sin of the whole world…all at once…from the beginning of time until He comes back to reign forever.

He has felt it all. His wounds were deep.

But He did not walk around defined by them.

He forgave.

And because He was able to forgive and become the “once and for all” wounded sacrifice on our behalf, the verses that were prophesied in Isaiah 61:1-3 were able to come true: The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed and commissioned me to bring good news to the humble and afflicted; He has sent me to bind  up [the wounds of] the brokenhearted, to proclaim release [from confinement and condemnation] to the [physical and spiritual] captives and freedom to prisoners, to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance and retribution of our God, to comfort all who mourn, to grant to those who mourn in Zion the following: to give them a turban instead of dust [on their heads, a sign of mourning], the oil of joy instead of mourning, the garment [expressive] of praise instead of a disheartened spirit. So they will be called the trees of righteousness [strong and magnificent, distinguished for integrity, justice, and right standing with God], the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.”

Whatever wound we have, whatever hurt you have been harboring, it is time to let it go! It’s not doing you any good to walk around with an open wound, bleeding on everyone when they inadvertently hit that tender spot.

The most difficult part of getting that wound cleaned out is to forgive {OUT LOUD} the person who hurt you. Stop giving them power of you and how you live your life! Out of that forgiveness comes a “oil of joy” and as it flows over that open wound in your heart, it begins to fill in the empty places. Over time, the wound heals, the tender spots dissipate, and the healing is complete.

It’s time to walk confidently in your healing. If you have a scar from it, go ahead and share about how the Lord healed you! There is no shame in scars. On the other hand, if you don’t have a scar you don’t have to prove to anyone what you have been healed from. Because, for by His wounds you [who believe] have been healed.” (I Peter 2:24b)

Not sure where to start? Just ask the Lord to come in and begin the healing process. Reach out to a friend who can help you along the way. You have to allow the wound to be cleaned and trust that the momentary pain of healing will be worth it.

Walk in freedom.

Walk in healing.

It’s time to rejoice that you no longer live with open wounds!

Blessings,

René

Defined by healing not by your wounds

 

 

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

You can’t push when you’re in Transition…

I recently heard this phrase and it really hit a cord within my deepest heart.

“You can’t push when you’re in transition.”

Um, yep…I’ve had first hand experience with this fact. The person who said it (and I wish I could give them credit for it but I heard it on the radio and don’t remember who it was exactly) well, they weren’t referring to childbirth, but that’s how it resonated with me. After having three children, one with an epidural and two without, I know the feeling of transition.

It was different with all three but the second birth I experienced was the one I remember the most of what it’s like to go through transition.

I started laboring around 5:30am and decided to sit in my rocking chair in the living room. I woke up my husband to join me but told him to go back to sleep on the couch. I was sure I was in for many many hours of labor ahead of me, but I wanted him to be near me just in case.

By 6am, things were moving along quite rapidly and I woke him up by throwing my slippers at him, told him to go shower and call the grandma’s…this baby was on its way!

By 6:30am, I was in full-blown transition. I just didn’t know it. This was nothing of what I had experienced with our first child and it was totally freaking me out!

There is not a lot of room in a woman’s body for the baby to do what it needs to do, so it still amazes me that the birthing process takes as long as it does. But God has a reason for that…He knows we are slow to take things in most of the time and our brain needs time to process the reality of what is happening.

I did everything I could do get comfortable.  The rocking chair wasn’t working, the exercise ball wasn’t working, walking or standing wasn’t working. So, by 7am, the way my husband found me in the living room was quite a shock…on my hands and knees doing “cat stretches”.  That was the only thing that was remotely comfortable…and I use that word sparingly. Ha!

What I was experiencing was in fact, transition. That sweet little babe of ours was making her way to meet us. And as slow as the process seemed, it actually happened quite fast. By the time we got to the hospital at 7:20am, I was in the birthing room at 7:30am and she was born at 7:48am!  Yep….very quick!

As much as I wanted to have that baby, I could not push in the transition phase. It wasn’t possible anyway. No amount of willpower could have worked.

I simply had to go through it!

So if you’re still hanging with me here through my story…here’s the tie-in for transitions in life.

You cannot make a transition in your life happen any faster than it is meant to be.

To graduate from college, you’ve got to take the classes and do the work and it will usually take ya about 4 years to accomplish this goal.

When you buy a house, it normally takes many months to find “the perfect one”, then you put in the bid, then you go through escrow, then it’s yours! Unless that first bid falls through and you’re back in the searching phase until you find the one that all falls into place.

If you’re cooking a gourmet meal, it takes more than a few minutes. You have to do all the prep of shopping for the ingredients, chopping, slicing, measuring, marinating, etc., then the cooking….and then the eating!

But the transitions that are something the most difficult is when there is not a specific timeline that you can count on. Those are the times where the faith and trust we have in the Lord’s plan for our lives comes in full force.

You can’t push past the lessons that need to be learned. I mean, you can, but instead of moving yourself forward, you are really taking tremendous leaps backwards. There are necessary reasons why the Lord takes us down one path and someone else down a different path. We are all different and we all have something special to learn and grow through in order to give us the story and testimony that God intends for us to have.

Transition literally means*: movement, passage, or change from one position, state, stage, subject, concept, etc., to another; change.

Just as baby must go through changes to become a toddler, then a young child, to a teen, then an adult (and various stages of adulthood!); we too have spiritual stages we travel through.

I Corinthians 13:10-12 describes transition to us this way, But when that which is complete and perfect comes, that which is incomplete and partial will pass away. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. For now [in this time of imperfection] we see in a mirror dimly [a blurred reflection, a riddle, an enigma], but then [when the time of perfection comes we will see reality] face to face. Now I know in part [just in fragments], but then I will know fully, just as I have been fully known [by God].

Each phase of life we go through, transitions will come and go. They have to make us feel unstable though. Standing firm in the foundation of God’s truth, we will always find stability to make it through each challenge we face. It is in those moments we can cry out to the Lord and ask Him to help us, to hold us, to keep us standing in the midst of transition and difficulty.

When a toddler is learning to walk and falls down, their parents don’t say, “Well, you tried that walking thing and it didn’t work out. We’ll just carry you around forever.” Quite the opposite!  They applaud that sweet child for their efforts and encourage them to get up and try again. I bet you can look back over your life, or over the past month for that matter, and see how God has used others to encourage you to get back up and try again. Because He knows that as you grow and transition into new stages of your life, you can use your experiences to encourage other people to do the same!  Get up and try again!

Isaiah 33:6 AMP “And He will be the security and stability of your times, a treasure of salvation, wisdom and knowledge; The fear of the Lord is your treasure.”

The Lord will always be our stability at each stage of life; personal, emotional, spiritual, and everything in between. He is the foundation we need to stand on (or kneel on!) when we are weaving through the stages of transition in our life. Going through something difficult is when we must rely on His strength. We can find a prayerful position to be in as we go through the transition. The pain, exhaustion, questioning, frustration ~ it’s all worth it in the end when we realize what God was getting ready to birth within us or from us!

Don’t fight it ~ engage in it!  There are various amounts of struggle that comes with transition…that struggle doesn’t mean you are doing the wrong thing. God is stretching you and what comes to fruition because of it, will be glorious!!

I’d love to hear what God is birthing in your heart & soul today!  Feel free to share!! Because when we share our dreams out loud, they are given a new life and the freedom we can experience is remarkable!

Ephesians 4:15 AMP says, “But speaking the truth in love [in all things—both our speech and our lives expressing His truth], let us grow up in all things into Him [following His example] who is the Head—Christ.”

 

Blessings,

René

 

*https://www.dictionary.com/browse/transition

 

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

Are You Just a Tour Guide…

Recently, one of my daughters {who is a full time missionary} posted a video in her IG story with a poll question that went something like this…”Should I become a tour guide?”…as she showed people around the place where she works. I sent her a message back that said, “So what was the consensus? Tour guide or missionary?”

And then I got an idea for this blog post!

When we are sharing the Gospel, are we a tour guide? Or are we a missionary?

Think about the last time you went on a trip somewhere and hired a tour guide to show you the sites. Or you visit a friend who lives in a different state and they want to take you to “all the good spots.”

We’ve had this experience a few times and it’s always been amazing! But what do you see on a tour? You see all the special things, the highlights of the location you are visiting, you enjoy a special meal at a local restaurant, you see the places that make you think “you’ll never be here again so take the picture”, and so on. What you usually don’t see are the rough spots in town, the dangerous places, or the “I won’t be writing home about that” kind of places.

No matter where you are in the world, or what kind of tour you are on, where does the tour ALWAYS end? Yep…in the souvenir shop! Literally every tour, or even most rides at Disneyland for that matter, end up in the gift shop. You want a souvenir to remember your trip. You want to bring home a little trinket for your kids and hope they like it even though they would’ve rather been on the trip with you {lol! all time time!}

When you get home, you place your souvenir on a shelf or maybe it’s a piece of jewelry you wear on special occasions. But eventually it becomes a fuzzy memory of good times gone by.

Is this how you share the Gospel?

Do you get excited about something God has shown you in scripture, something that will bless your life, something that “sparks joy”, and you want to share it with someone? So you meet up with a friend for coffee and share all the fantastic details of this newly found joy in your life and how great it makes you feel…only to end the conversation without sharing the hard stuff in your life that makes the joy you have tangible? Do you leave them with just a trinket?

Now, I’m not saying at all that we have to walk around with our proverbial dirty laundry for all to see. That’s not what the Lord wants either.

We’ve got to get rid of the stigma of what we think it means to be a missionary because as followers of Christ, we are ALL called to be missionaries. A missionary isn’t just a job for a few people.

A missionary is literally “a person who is sent on a mission.”** In the New Testament, when Jesus was commissioning the Disciples, we see in Mark 16:15, “And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” Jesus did not intend for those 12 disciples to be the only ones who would share the good news of His salvation.

While Jesus was still on the earth, and after commissioning the 12, Luke 10:1-3 shares this about Jesus commissioning 70 more saying, “Now after this the Lord appointed seventy others, and sent them out ahead of Him, two by two, into every city and place where He was about to go. He was saying to them, “The harvest is abundant [for there are many who need to hear the good news about salvation], but the workers [those available to proclaim the message of salvation] are few. Therefore, [prayerfully] ask the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest. Go your way; listen carefully: I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. ” 

Everywhere we go, we are to be missionaries of the gospel ~ as followers of Christ, He calls us to be sent out on a mission to tell people about the freedom that comes with salvation in Christ.

Yes, some our called to be missionaries that will go out into unreached people groups and to far off countries.

But we have ALL been called to share the gospel.

And not just the warm fuzzy parts. 

Did you notice that last verse that I shared from Luke? We are knowingly going out into the world “like lambs among wolves.” That’s why we need to be in community with other believers and why we need to cling to the Word of God to lead us as we go about our day.

If you’re a new momma at home with little ones, you’re thinking, “Oh great. I can barely get through a day without someone spitting up or peeing on me, and now I’m supposed to go preach the gospel to the world!!” Dear momma, you are exactly living in the mission field you are supposed to be in. Your home is the first place you can preach the good news. I can remember those days where I felt like I was the lone survivor simply battling to get everyone fed, bathed, and into bed at a decent hour. {Okay, sometimes baths didn’t always happen…especially in the summer…that’s what sprinklers and pool time is for!}

But trust me, you are right where the Lord wants you to be. New seasons of life will spring up as your children grow and mature and yes, eventually move out. I survived that and you will too. And might I say, it’s actually pretty fun to have adult children!  My daughters and my son-in-law are pretty cool people in my life!

We are all missionaries ~ God calls us to share the truth of the Gospel mixed in with the truth of how He has moved in and through our life. Our life is a testimony of the millions of believers who have gone before us…starting with those 12 disciples who chose to be obedient to the call of preaching the good news.

We are not called to be tour guides who only show the “Highlight Reel” to the people around us. 

I don’t want to sound cliché here, but truly, everywhere we go is our mission field. There are people around you who have only heard the name of Jesus used in a profane way. How awesome it can be to show those in your sphere of influence, who Jesus is to you. Of course, sharing the joys of what it means to be saved and have everlasting life with Jesus is a must! But even more important is to share with others, the joy you choose to have EVEN WHEN life doesn’t seem fair.

Jesus is not a genie in a bottle or a tour guide with the bright orange flag leading you down a delightful path of all the wonders of the world.

Being created in His image…that means we aren’t tour guides either.

We are made to be in relationship with Him and through that we can show other people the way to Jesus; the way of salvation. We have a mission {“an important goal or purpose that is accompanied by strong conviction; a calling or vocation” **} to lead people into the knowledge of who Christ is and what He has done for the world and for us personally.

To put it plainly ~ Your story is your mission. Only you can tell your story. God created you to be able to lead others in ways unique only to you. Whether in your family, your neighborhood, your kids’ schools, in third-world countries, or in bustling cities of fortune….you absolutely have something that everyone needs…you have the gift of salvation and you are called to give that away!

Tour guides are hired by the hour to put on a show and lead you to all the pretty places. Missionaries live boldly every minute of every day for the Lord no matter what that means. How do you want to be known?

Live out loud for Him every day…not just on the days where life looks pretty and ready for your Instagram close up.

Be real. Be authentic. Be truthful. 

Choose obedience. Choose joy. Choose to be transformed.

And watch what the Lord can do with a willing heart!

Blessings,

René

tour guide or missionary

 

** https://www.dictionary.com/browse/missionary?s=t

** https://www.dictionary.com/browse/mission?s=t

 

 

 

 

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

Are you in Good Hands…

You’re in your living room, half watching a TV show, when a certain insurance commercial comes on. You know the one, the guy with the super deep voice that just draws you in. The kind of voice that is talking about something that you now know you need even though you weren’t looking for it 5 minutes ago. And then he says, “Now that you know the truth, are you in good hands?”

Well, are you?

When I was a child, one of the most safe places I could find was walking side by side with my father while he held my hand. My father seemed bigger than life to me. I mean, he was a fireman…how cool was that! He ran into burning buildings when people were scrambling to get out. In his hands, he directed his team on how to best fight the fire. In his hands, he could guide the tremendous force of water coming through a fire hose to douse a blaze. In his hands, he could analyze the aftermath of a fire and figure out why and how (and who!) the fire started. But his strength didn’t just lie in the power of his job.

In his hands, he held a colicky baby (yeah…that’d be me) while he read the paper, patiently waiting for sleep to arrive. In his hands, he buried his first born son from SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). In his hands, he comforted other families who had lost children the same way. In his hands, he carried severely burned people out of fiery buildings. In his hands, he carried small children who didn’t make it out of a fire. In his hands, he taught a timid 17 year old how to drive. In his hands, he spent all year growing a cottony-soft white beard all so that he could play Santa to my daughters (which the two year old truly thought he was the real deal and was dumbfounded when “Santa” showed up at her front door on Christmas morning.) In his hands, he cared for our family and for his parents as they aged, with a quiet humility.

In his hands, I was never afraid.

I’m beyond grateful that I have a picture here on earth of how a father loves his child. It’s just a glimpse, because in all truthfulness, for as much as I love my father, he wasn’t perfect. He’d never claim to be. But he’s always been there when I need him. Or when I needed him to teach my children algebra, because math and I have never been friends. I have several friends who did not have a great relationship with their earthly father and in some ways it has made it more difficult to cultivate a deep relationship with Father God. But there is always room for improvement.

Because in God’s Hands, we know the truth and we can know the depth of love and care like we’ve never experienced.

I’m just gonna let the living words of the Psalms speak for themselves here ~

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

*Psalm 18:35 “You have also given me the shield of Your salvation, And Your right hand upholds and sustains me; Your gentleness [Your gracious response when I pray] makes me great.”

*Psalm 31:5 “Into Your hand I commit my spirit; You have redeemed me, O Lord, the God of truth and faithfulness.”

*Psalm 63:8 “My soul [my life, my very self] clings to You; Your right hand upholds me.”

*Psalm 92:4 “For You, O Lord, have made me glad by Your works; At the works of Your hands I joyfully sing.”

*Psalm 139:5 “You have enclosed me behind and before, And [You have] placed Your hand upon me.”

 

In His hands, I have been created. In His hands, I am secure. In His hands, there is a good path set before me. In His hands, I am made joyful. In His hands, I am protected. In His hands, I am saved. In His hands, I am redeemed. In His hands, I am loved. In His hands, I can choose to love Him back. In His hands, I can show others the truth of His words. In His Hands, I am redeemed. In His Hands, I am qualified. In His hands, I can be a good mother and wife. In His hands, I can be the woman He designed me to be.

In His hands, I have my life.

We are absolutely in good hands. We are in the best hands when we are firmly in the grasp of His Hands.

Now, I want you to picture yourself with the Lord. Hear the booming comfort of His voice. Let Him ask you, “Now that you know the truth, are you in good hands?”

Blessings,

René

Are you in Good Hands - pic for blog.png

 

 

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 3

Hey there ~ welcome to Part 3 of sharing God’s Truth without compromise. I’m transitioning into what it looks like to dig into God’s Word in the church. Just because we are within the church, doesn’t mean we all are in agreement about the Word of God. And that is truly a sad state for the Christian church. We have become too busy deciding what “our truth” is that so many have thrown out the idea that God’s Word is absolutely WITHOUT ERROR.

John Piper wrote this, “My feelings are not God. God is God. My feelings do not define truth. God’s Word defines truth. My feelings are echoes and responses to what my mind perceives. And sometimes – many times – my feelings are out of sync with the truth. When that happens – and it happens every day in some measure – I try not to bend the truth to justify my imperfect feelings, but rather, I plead with God: Purify my perceptions of your truth and transform my feelings so that they are in sync with the truth.”

Read that first sentence again…
“My feelings are not God.”

Feelings and emotions are given to us by God by they were never meant to determine or decide what is true or not regarding the biblical truths set by God from the before the beginning of time.

The dictionary defines feelings as, “the general state of consciousness considered independently of particular sensations, thoughts, etc; FEELING is a general term for a subjective point of view as well as for specific sensations: to be guided by feeling rather than by facts”

And emotions as, “an affective state of consciousness in which joy, sorrow, fear, hate, or the like, is experienced, as distinguished from cognitive and volitional states of consciousness. EMOTION is applied to an intensified feeling.”

This is why we cannot view the Bible and interpret what God’s laws and precepts look like against our own personal intellect.

Everyone who just sat in the main morning service, hearing the same message, has most likely “heard” something a bit different from everyone else. This is because we are taking in the words that have been taught and have sifted the words through how they are feeling this morning.

There are so many distractions from being tired, upset with a family member or friend, how “so and so” should be hearing this message, being too hot or too cold, and a whole host of other feelings an emotions that affect how we discern the message of what the Pastor, speaker, or worship leader intended for the message to be.

But here’s the difference, the interpretations of a message on a Sunday morning between congregants is all coming from a human standpoint.

The message of God’s Word is His Word…the inerrant word of God…the Living Word of God cannot be changed. There are definitely feelings and emotions that are woven through every single word of scripture…but they are God’s feelings and emotions. Yes, He has a lot of them…He created us to have them too.

But ours can be fallible, His never will be.

Because He is God, He knew we would struggle with this and so He left us a map of how to navigate our feelings and emotions.

I think most of us are familiar with Proverbs 3:5-6, but let’s read a few more verses that surround those two verses, beginning with verse 1 – 8:  The Rewards of Wisdom

Proverbs 3:1-8
“1 My son, do not forget my [a]teaching, But let your heart keep my commandments; 2 For length of days and years of life [worth living] And tranquility and prosperity [the wholeness of life’s blessings] they will add to you. 3 Do not let mercy and kindness and truth leave you [instead let these qualities define you]; Bind them [securely] around your neck, Write them on the tablet of your heart. 4 So find favor and high esteem in the sight of God and man. 5 Trust in and rely confidently on the LORD with all your heart And do not rely on your own insight or understanding. 6 In all your ways know and acknowledge and recognize Him, And He will make your paths straight and smooth [removing obstacles that block your way]. 7 Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the LORD [with reverent awe and obedience] and turn [entirely] away from evil. 8 It will be health to your body [your marrow, your nerves, your sinews, your muscles—all your inner parts] and refreshment (physical well-being) to your bones. There is absolutely nothing negative about believing in, trusting in, holding tight to, the obedience to the commandments of the Lord. We will always be in the “winning” side; we will always walk in victory when we cling to the Truth and goodness of the Lord.”

Enter in all the denominations and beliefs that are in full swing around the world.

According to calculations found via Google by: Paohow Popchavei, in August 27 2018 says: “Today there are some 4,300 religions of the world’s, this is according to adherent, an independent, non-religiously, affiliated organization that monitors the number and size of the world religions. Side stepping the issue of what constitutes a religious adherent divides religions into Churches, Denominations, Congregation, Religion bodies, Faith group, Tribes, Cultures, and movements.”

Here are some 20 largest religions and their number of believers.

1: Christianity (2.2 billion)
2: Islam (1.5 billion)
3: Nonreligious ( Secular/Agnostic/Atheist) (1.2 billion)
4: Hinduism (1.1 billion )
5: Buddhism ( 535 million)
6: Chinese tradition religion ( 394 million)
7: Primal indigenous (300 million)
8: African tradition & diaspora (100 million)
9: Sikhism (30 million)
10: Juche (19 million)
11: Spiritism (15 million)
12: Judaism (14 million)
13: Bahai (7 million)
14: Jainism (4.2 million)
15: Shirito (4 million)
16: Cao Dai (4 million)
17: Zoraostrianism (2.6 million)
18: Tenrikyo (2 million)
19: Neo paganism (1 million)
20: Unitarian universalism ( 800,000)

All those religions are man makes, tomorrow there will be 5,000 religions or maybe more, so whichever people belief all are similar ideology, because humanity are one root and one destiny.
(https://www.quora.com/How-many-different-religions-are-there-in-the-world)

Now, within Christianity, there are at least a good 20, various denominations that splinter off from a main foundation of Christianity.

We cannot take out the parts of the Bible that we are uncomfortable with or that is not socially popular.

God’s commandments were not really comfortable or popular for that matter when He first breathed them into reality. Jesus said that we would be persecuted because of our belief in Him. And we are. Constantly.

I’m not saying that being a part of a certain denomination with the true Christian church is bad; the sticky part comes in as to why that denomination is formed to begin with. This is where the battle of being non-compromising within the Christian church comes from.

Whatever the denomination, whatever the church, whatever community you are connected with, there are ways to figure out if they are Bible-believing and God-fearing people.

*******************************************************************************

God’s Word is True.

God’s Word is without error.

It’s really that simple.

 

Blessings,

René

 

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 2

Welcome back to part 2 of sharing God’s truth without compromise. One of the ways we do that is by sharing our testimony with others.

Our testimony to the outside world simply looks like how we live our daily life.

I heard a song on the radio the other day that said there are ‘millions of doorways that when opened, shine the light of Jesus and that doorway is you.’

At first I thought it was pretty cheesy and was about to change the radio station, but I decided to listen to the whole song. It still felt a bit on the cheesy side but the truth of the song is what hit me.

We are supposed to be that ‘doorway’ where when we open our life and share with other people what Christ has done for us and what God does for us every day, it is so exciting and enticing to a non-believer, that they can’t help but want to walk through and follow Jesus!

We have the Truth, capital T, and we should be walking around so obviously filled with joy that comes from God’s Truth, that it makes people around us so curious as to why we have joy… Why we have peace… Why we are able to be so kind and gracious and merciful. Our love for Jesus should be so obvious that people are drawn to us and to the light of the Holy Spirit, kind of like a moth to a flame.

But why is it so hard to share the truth of the Bible without compromise? Fear? Embarrassment? Not wanting to be judge mental? Not wanting to be misunderstood? Not wanting to be ostracized? Not wanting someone to think we are “that kind of Christian”. It is definitely not easy to share the principles of Christianity with people who have absolutely no desire to hear them nor follow them. There is so much “tolerance”, and I use that word very loosely, being touted in our society today but what today’s standard of tolerance really means is, “Here is my opinion and my beliefs and you are welcome to believe it. And if you don’t then you’re an intolerant hater.”

Isn’t it interesting that everyone in the world wants to be sensitive and tolerant to the religions of the world except for Christianity? Why do you think that is?

The one viewpoint that has plagued every decade is the fact that people want to be considered either good or bad. Why do good things happen to bad people…why do bad things happen to good people?

The fact is that quite honestly, none of us are good.

If we were all “good enough”, then Christ would have never needed to come and save us and reconcile us back to Him. I realize this is a rather bold statement, but none of us are good enough. No one in this world is good enough. In scripture it says that very thing, we are not good enough on our own. We are not saved to then go about our business and work our way into heaven or work our way into better parts of heaven or have better hierarchy in heaven.

We are born within us a sin nature; with the attitude that we have it all under control. The sin nature that we are born with tells us from a very early age that we should not have to be controlled by another person. That we are in various ways, better than the person next to us.

The thieves on the cross prove that is an inerrant concept because the difference is that one thief recognized his sin and the other did not. They both KNEW they were not good but pride and arrogance robbed the one from an eternity in Paradise. That one did not think he needed anyone to save him. And that is what it comes down to with people who choose Jesus and people who do not choose Him.

People who believe that they are good enough, do not want to look deep into their own heart and admit that they are indeed sinners.

No one likes to have that kind of introspection because it’s not comfortable. It’s not easy. It can be embarrassing and it can feel like a big failure. But what it really is, is the arrogance of sin to believe that we are “good enough” to go to heaven.

There is not one verse in scripture that says anything remotely like that. It actually says the exact opposite.

Ephesians 2:1-10 is crystal clear about this:

“And you [He made alive when you] were [spiritually] dead and separated from Him because of your transgressions and sins, in which you once walked. You were following the ways of this world [influenced by this present age], in accordance with the prince of the power of the air (Satan), the spirit who is now at work in the disobedient [the unbelieving, who fight against the purposes of God]. Among these [unbelievers] we all once lived in the passions of our flesh [our behavior governed by the sinful self], indulging the desires of [a]human nature [without the Holy Spirit] and [the impulses] of the [sinful] mind. We were, by nature, children [under the sentence] of [God’s] wrath, just like the rest [of mankind]. But God, being [so very] rich in mercy, because of His great and wonderful love with which He loved us, even when we were [spiritually] dead and separated from Him because of our sins, He made us [spiritually] alive together with Christ (for by His grace—His undeserved favor and mercy—you have been saved from God’s judgment). And He raised us up together with Him [when we believed], and seated us with Him in the heavenly places, [because we are] in Christ Jesus, [and He did this] so that in the ages to come He might [clearly] show the immeasurable and unsurpassed riches of His grace in [His] kindness toward us in Christ Jesus [by providing for our redemption]. For it is by grace [God’s remarkable compassion and favor drawing you to Christ] that you have been saved [actually delivered from judgment and given eternal life] through faith. And this [salvation] is not of yourselves [not through your own effort], but it is the [undeserved, gracious] gift of God; not as a result of [your] works [nor your attempts to keep the Law], so that no one will [be able to] boast or take credit in any way [for his salvation]. 10 For we are His workmanship [His own master work, a work of art], created in Christ Jesus [reborn from above—spiritually transformed, renewed, ready to be used] for good works, which God prepared [for us] beforehand [taking paths which He set], so that we would walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us].”

The best way to preach the gospel to those who do not believe in Jesus yet…besides trying to live a life that is honoring to the Lord in how we conduct ourselves on a daily basis…is to encourage that person to open the pages of scripture and read for themselves.

The Bible is the Truth and the Holy Spirit is incredibly adept in whispering to the soul of the unsaved and ushering them into a place where they can hear the knocking on the door of their heart from Jesus.

I have heard so many stories where people have come to salvation as they have a read through The New Testament and experience through the Living Word of God what it means to truly be saved and become a follower of Christ. Because there is power in the spoken Word, the written Word, and the shared Word of God.

We can testify about our love for the Lord, we can plant seeds of encouragement, but we cannot save anyone with our words.

God’s Word is without error; without compromise. He does not need us to defend His Word…just to share it with love, grace, and mercy.

********************************************************************************

Blessings,

René

 

 

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

The Audience of One…

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

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

So where is this all coming from?

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

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

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

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

Whoa!

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

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

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

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

But here’s where pride came in…

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

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

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

Then came in the fear…

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

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

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

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

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

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

I allowed the enthusiasm to turn into pride.

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

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

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

To know God, and to make Him known.

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

Live out your calling to the Audience of One!

 

Blessings,

René

 

psalm 89 verse 1

 

Women's Ministries

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

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!}