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

Don’t Eat the Honey…

In the summer of 2001, we downsized and moved to a new house.  It was move #9….little did we know that we had 5 more moves ahead of us!  Actually, I’m thankful we didn’t know because God gave us the grace we needed each time ~ another post for another time!

So in this house, although smaller, was still a fairly large home and we were very comfortable.  We had downsized because we had started an animation company and were making loads of changes!  For the first few months we were very happy and pleased with the house and believed that God led us there.  I still think he did but that house came with a lot of baggage that we weren’t aware of.  Even the home inspector and appraiser missed it…missed what you ask?

BEES!!!

One day our sweet next door neighbor (they owned a local bakery and would bring us amazing french pastries almost every month!!) came over and said that they would appreciate it if we would take care of our bee problem before their dog ended up being stung.  I had no idea what she was talking about.  Bees?  In our house?  So, she asked me to follow her outside and we walked down the side of our home and there they were.  Hundreds of bees flying in and out from a small opening in the siding of our house.  That’s when I realized that I wasn’t losing my mind ~ our bed was on the other side of that same outside wall, and every now and then when I couldn’t get to sleep right away I would hear a buzzing noise!

So, I made some phone calls for bee removal and it is pricey!  And bee relocation was more than double.  Money was super tight…so we didn’t schedule anything right away hoping the problem would go away and we kept praying the neighbor’s dog wouldn’t get stung.  God answered our prayer about the dog….not about the bees!

In the new year we finally had a bee removal company come out and take care of the problem.  Before he started digging around outside, he had to come inside to our bedroom and take a heat measurement of the wall to see how large the hive was.  How large the HIVE WAS????  Say what now?  Thankfully he didn’t have to go through the inside walls because it wasn’t “too big.”

Next thing I know, the guy is dressed in his beekeeper outfit, trudges a few buckets and a huge ladder down the side of the house and off to work he goes.  I asked him to not bag anything until I could take a look at what he found.  Of course, I wanted to take pictures to show Tony and the girls later too. However, what I wasn’t prepared for was how absolutely beautiful that honey was!  It was glorious!

In a moment those bees went from being a nuisance (and a possible danger to pets and my small children) to being one of the most magnificent creatures God engineered.  These little insects that, according to scientist, shouldn’t be able to fly, not only fly but they help to create something as amazing as honey.  A food that has numerous health benefits and bottom line, just tastes good!  God created something so fantastic…and I couldn’t touch it!

That day, the bee-guy removed over 150 POUNDS of bee, hive, and honey into 6 huge plastic bag lined buckets.  I took pictures of the hive, which was almost 2 feet long by a foot wide; I took pictures of the intricately lovely honeycomb too.  I was able to keep a piece of it in a plastic bag and promised the bee-guy that I would NOT take it out of the bag and that I would toss it in the trash after showing the kids and Tony.  We all marveled at this beautiful sight!  Oh, and if we could have kept that honey, I could have passed out a jar of honey for everyone up and down our street, to our entire family, and still probably had enough to keep our little family in honey for years.  It was so sad.

To go through this process once is bad enough….you guessed it! Two years later, they came back and brought some of the Africanized Honey Bee friends with them.  We did not wait once we saw those little guys…”Hello Mr. Bee Removal Guy?  Can you come over again?”  We found out that our house was in direct line with a large bee farm that was over the hill from where we lived.

Once bees are used to a pattern, they don’t like to alternate from it.  That day the Lord showed me that when I am in a pattern of reading His Word every day and spending time with Him in prayer every day, I am less apt to alternate from His path!

Okay, so this second time of bee issues….almost 200 POUNDS of bees, hive, and honey.  Yeah…and the honey seemed to glisten in the afternoon sun even more than the time before.  Man, I gotta find those pictures!!

Can you tell I still think about that honey?

It was a brilliant amber color, twinkling in the sunlight.  It was rich and thick and beautiful!  And you could smell how good it was.  If it was bottled up, you could sell it at a Farmer’s Market for a pretty little penny.  It just looked so perfect!  But if I’d eaten any of it, I would most definitely have fallen ill and quite frankly, I would have run the risk of dying because of it.

Because it was a bee-removal process, instead of a bee-relocation process, there were chemicals used to extricate those little honey bees, the hive, and the honey out of my house.  Trust me…it was sad but necessary.

How many times in my life, in your life, have you gone ahead and “eaten the honey?”  You dated someone that was completely wrong for you? You spent money on something that you shouldn’t have? You allowed gossip to spill out of your mouth? You went somewhere you knew you shouldn’t be going?  And that’s just to name a few.

But what about those times when things looked great?!  You wanted something so badly, and believed that after praying about it that it was God’s will that you have what you wanted?  The suffering we go through when we have walked off God’s path for us, when we’ve allowed our pride and desire to blind us, causes pain for ourselves and often times for those around us too.  Don’t be deceived by how good and beautiful something looks ~ it may be tainted so we have to pay attention to where the desire came from or from whom is making the tempting offer.

In the Old Testament, Proverbs warns us in chapter 25, verse 16 & 27, how too much of a good thing will indeed make us sick, (16)“If you have found honey, eat only enough for you, lest you have your fill of it and vomit it.” (27)“It is not good to eat much honey, nor is it glorious to seek one’s own glory.”

I’d say that was pretty clear!

Having nice things isn’t a bad thing.  Driving a nice car isn’t a bad thing.  Having money isn’t a bad thing. Drinking fancy coffees in a posh little coffee shop isn’t a bad thing.

When those “things” become overwhelmingly shiny in the afternoon sun of our minds…that is when those things become a danger to our health ~ spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and yes, sometimes, physically.  Digging into God’s Word and eating the good food of His teaching is what will keep us healthy on many levels!

Psalm 119:103 is proof of this (and proof that God loves honey!!), “How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!”  There are over 60 verses where honey is referenced as something beyond good…but also something to be wary of having too much!

I would love to encourage you today that as you begin to ponder what that “thing” is in your life…what your “golden honey” looks like…stop looking at it as something that God is keeping from you.  Start looking at it for what the truth of the matter is….God is keeping YOU from that thing because He knows you will get hurt somehow.  He doesn’t want you to get sick, or get stung.  He loves you so very much!  AND…He will still be there to tend your wounds should you decide to go forward with your own plans too.

There is good honey out there ~ BEE patient and God will lead you to greater fulfillment of His riches beyond your wildest imagination!

 

Blessings,
René

Proverbs 16 verse 24

 

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

The Ram has been Dispatched…

Yes….the title is not a typo or anything like that.  Today I want to encourage you in whatever situation you are in, about to go into, or about to come out of ~ God has ALREADY dispatched “the ram” of provision for you.  This isn’t some kind of genie in the bottle kind of philosophy and it absolutely is NOT some kind of recipe for a quick fix to your problem.

This idea came from a message I heard a few months back that focused partly on the story of Abraham and Isaac.  The history of Abraham & Sarah becoming parents to Isaac (at the ripe old ages of 90 & 100…yep…miracle of God for sure!) is a spectacular part of scripture where you see how God’s promises will unfold when we trust in Him.  With this in mind, as we get to Genesis chapter 22, it seems inconceivable that God would ask Abraham to trust Him once more with Isaac, and present him as a sacrifice.  WHOA!

As Abraham took each step up that mountain, to sacrifice his only son, the son that God has promised to bring him as a legacy for generations to come ~ how conflicted he must have felt as the journey proceeded!

But with each step up one side of that insurmountable mountain terrain, God was providing the miracle on the other side of the mountain.  Abraham couldn’t see the other side of the mountain AND he trusted God at the same time.  He trusted that God would provide a way.  A way to spare his son.  A way to honor his commitment and obedience to the Lord that would bring about a peaceful outcome.

Genesis 22:13-14, shows beautifully God’s process of redemption, And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, 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 as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called the name of that place, “The Lord will provide”;as it is said to this day, “On the mount of the Lord it shall be provided.”

The ram that God provided didn’t come prancing (to ram’s prance?) up the mountain and present himself to Abraham.  No, the ram was BEHIND Abraham.  Picture the scene that Abraham was engrossed in ~ his son was bound on an altar, with his hand raised, poised with a knife, ready to do what God asked him to do. He had laser focus because I’m sure he was still replaying in his mind what God had asked of him. So focused that God audibly spoke to him again telling him not to harm Isaac.

Hearing God’s voice caused him to stop what he was doing and did you catch that part in the beginning of verse 13? And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked…”  Not to be disrespectful, but he had to literally, “stop, look, and listen”!!

There have been so many times in my life where God has provided in my greatest time of need. Whether it be emotional, spiritual, physical, or financial.  Sometimes it took a bit of time for me to see the provision.  But as I have matured in my faith, I am able to notice God’s Hand moving in my life much easier.

Just this morning, I knew I needed to go to the bank and cut checks for our tithe, some bills, and our rent check.  Knowing that would deplete our accounts, however, incredibly thankful to have the finances to do it.  Also knowing, due to the nature of my husband’s business, where were the finances coming from to cover us for the at least the first part of July?

Because this kind of thing has been “our life” for the past 16 years (that’s another blog for another time) I can tell you that I wasn’t nervous or doubtful this morning.  I prayed for God to give me the peace and faith that He would provide.  I do not say this lightly…it’s taken A LOT OF YEARS and a lot of experience in learning how to trust the Lord for me to say it so simply.

When I got home from picking up our youngest daughter at church (she just got home from a 2 week mission trip to Brazil…super excited to see her again!!), I casually glanced at the mail and guess what was there….yep!

God’s provision!!

While I was doing errands and picking up my sweet girl, God was bringing a check via the postman to our home to say…”Hello My daughter!  Look what I brought you today!”  I felt a smile spread across my face and sensed a blanket of peace rest around my shoulders as I opened up the check that my husband had invoiced for weeks ago.  Only God can offer provision at the most precise time that it is needed.  God provided the ram!

Whatever  you are troubled by today, whatever you find that occupies your mind with worry ~ here’s my encouragement to you today:

God is already sending you a “ram of provision” to cover the issues that you are concerned with.  Why does He want to provide for what concerns you?  Because He loves you so very much!  Sometimes you are walking a level path, sometimes it’s a bit of an uphill climb, and sometimes, yes, you feel like you are scaling a mountain!

Don’t let a shadow of darkness consume you or make  you forget what it is to bathe in the light of God’s goodness and provision.  You can pray your way out of that sense of despair.  You may still feel depleted in your spirit, but every single time you STOP what you’re doing, then LOOK to see what God is doing around you, and LISTEN to His Word ~ you will absolutely be comforted.

I’ve seen it a hundred times in my life and in the lives of those around me. There is nothing like the feeling you get when you are able to keep the negativity and doubt out of your mind and heart, and be immersed in the truth of God’s love and watch it envelope you heart, mind, and soul.  The joy that explodes within you when you see how God provides for you is incredibly freeing!  Free to walk in the presence of your Heavenly Father who loves you unconditionally and wants to shower you with His provision!

~ STOP ~ LOOK ~ LISTEN ~ PRAY ~

Genesis 22 verse 14

Blessings,

René

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

Eve didn’t have Social Media…

In this day and age, in the year 2016, we have so many outlets by which to compare ourselves.  Each generation that has come before us, have also had their levels of comparison, but aspects continue being added all the time.  There are a bunch of areas I could delve into today, but I’m going to stick with the one I know the most intimately…comparison of self.

{Although I’m writing today’s blog from a woman’s perspective, I know that there are some great guys out there that read it too….so if you want to continue reading, I would like to encourage you to take a portion of this and share it with your wife or girlfriend, or even your mom or sister.  What a blessing it will be for them to hear compliments from a man they love.}

When I was thinking about this topic, it occurred to me that the most perfectly created woman of the world was Eve…the first woman.  She was fashioned by a loving God who chose characteristics of His own to give this woman everything she needed. Eve was made for Adam; not to serve him but to be a helpmate to him; to be a support and comfort; to be a friend and a lover.  The first woman literally had everything!  A husband that was perfect for her, a garden to tend & be nourished by, beauty beyond anything that had been created yet, and best of all, she could walk alongside the God of the Universe and had conversations with Him whenever she wanted.  Who needs a cup of coffee in the morning when you can get to hang out with the Lord!

Yet…that wasn’t enough for Eve…

Genesis 2:18 is a beautiful statement and I want to share it two different versions so you can truly grasp the joy God had in creating woman:

“Then the LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper as his complement.” (HCSB)

“Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” (ESV)

We are a complement and a fit helper to our husband.  I don’t want to turn this into an argument, but I do wholeheartedly believe that the man is the head of the household (if you are married) and as a wife, I am called to be a support…not subservient, but not overbearing either.  I’ve made plenty of mistakes in my almost 26 years of marriage where I have not honored the God-given position in our marriage that God has intended.  But oh the joy that enters our household when I am working alongside my husband!  We have a true partnership, but the buck stops with him.

If you are a single woman, or a single mom with kids at home…let me be clear that you are not lacking!  God will give you the strength and resources to fulfill the call that He has on your life as well.  He will also give you men in your life who will be able to come alongside you when you have moments of need ~ please do not believe the lies of this world that says you don’t need a man.  You are missing out on the blessing that God intended to be a partner between men and women!

But let’s get back to the ever so fun topic of self-comparison….

Reading further into the chapters in Genesis, we see a very short story of Eve’s life in the Garden of Eden. Just before Eve was created, we see in Genesis 2:15-17 it says, “The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.  And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”  It was after these verses, that God made every living creature and Adam named them all; and then seeing that there wasn’t a partner suitable for Adam, God created Eve.  All was good and all was beautiful and all was as God intended.  And just a few verses later, we read the opening verse in Chapter 3 of Genesis, “Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made.  He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?”

What???  Studying these verses made me realize two things:

  1. The commandment not to eat of the tree of knowledge was given to Adam.  It was his responsibility to convey this instruction to the woman God created for him.
  2. What in the world happened between the good life for Adam and Eve, being fruitful and walking with God…to Eve chatting it up with a serpent and getting pulled in to the trap of the enemies lies.

{and one more thing…do you ever think about how God had the serpent talking…hello world of ‘Narnia’….seriously, I do wonder about that part of how Adam was able to give all the animals names was because he was able to talk with them and find out what they liked…I hope I didn’t lose any of you here…just where my mind wanders sometimes.}

Okay, so here we have Eve alone in the garden and she’s talking with the serpent.  He seems to have asked her just one question, and it very quickly turned into a downward spiral. In the midst of that, I wonder if Eve was trying to prove how well she knew what God said by adding more emphasis to the story. Genesis 3:3 has Eve saying, “but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.'”  God never said anything about touching the fruit, only eating the fruit.

The serpent continued on, goading her to twist her thinking.  The serpent used Eve against herself….making her doubt that she was indeed a perfect creation.

The serpent didn’t have to show her Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and every other commercial on tv showing people having a “better” life than she had.  All he did was make her question herself.  He made her doubt her identity as a woman created by God.  He spoke to her instead of to Adam (who was incidentally standing right next to Eve when this whole debacle occurred…Gen. 3:6) giving her a misguided sense of authority.  Don’t get me wrong, Adam and Eve were completely together in this journey of disobedience.  They were equal partners in this deception.

What is it in us that were are tempted to compare ourselves to others?  To compare our life to the “what if” life we think is out there that we are somehow missing out on?  That’s where we as women struggle so much.  Some more than others, some days more than others, but we all struggle with remembering our identity…our God-given, God-created identity.

We. Are. Enough.

Genesis 1:27-28 declares, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that does on the earth.” 

God gave us everything that we need! We are created in HIS OWN IMAGE!  God is the Creator of the Universe, so if there is nothing lacking in Him, there is nothing lacking in us that cannot be made whole through having life in Christ.

We do not need to compare ourselves to anyone.  We need to get out of our own heads and stop believing the lies from the serpent (satan) because when we do, we miss out on the blessing God intends to daily give us. Genesis 1:31a says, “And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.”  

There you have it my friend….you are very good and God is pleased with you!  Look to Him and trust in your identity in Him!

Blessings,

René

Image-1

 

 

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

Reboot….

This has been my mind set pretty much all day, which is why I’m finally getting to my writing at 7:30pm!

Yesterday, when I went to open my “blog ideas” list on my Notes app…I panicked!

 It.Was.Not.There!  

Like, at all!  Tons of other non-essential lists to myself are there, but my “go to” blog ideas list was gone.  My wonderful husband looked up some ideas on google and then we just decided to call Apple tech help.  Sweet Ashley from Austin, TX led me through the process of erasing my iPhone (yes…I said, ERASING!!), which at first totally freaked me out, but she assured me that if I followed her directions, talking out every step of the process, my phone would reboot in about 5 hours.  Then she said, “But wait…before we go through this process, do you have an automatic back up set up on your phone?”  Thankfully, I did (hard lesson learned from the last time something like this happened!) ~ I was confident that Ashley was going to be my saving grace and I’d get my LIST back!

I hope I haven’t lost you with this computer talk of erasing, rebooting, back-ups ~ but hang in there….

The one thing she kept asking me was, “Are you sure you saw your list before the last back up at 6:33am this morning?”  I was fairly sure I’d seen it that afternoon, so we chose that back up to reload.  There was also a back up performed 12 hours earlier ~ were my notes on that one?  Well, we’ll never know!  As I went to sleep last night, my phone had completed its 5 hour long reboot…everything was there right where I left it…except for my list!

Today was an odd Monday in that I didn’t have a concentrated day of writing, but it did give me a lot of time to think about what I would write, what could God bring to my mind, what could I remember from MY LIST!  (Another panic moment!)

Then a friend of mine, who encourages me on “blog days” checked in with me.  I texted her my tale of woe and she had the audacity not to join my pity party!  She wrote back, “Guess you have to reboot your thoughts?”  My eloquent ~ and most Christian-like ~ reply to that was, “Dangit!”  To which I got her response, “An exercise in trust and patience.”  I’m so thankful that God keeps friends in my life who keep me real and keep me grounded!

So, with my day of school activities and committee meetings, my brain kept tossing around the idea of “rebooting my thoughts.”  What does that look like?  How could I tap into that today?  Or any day for that matter?  What does a reboot look like for you?

In the dictionary, reboot refers to literally shut down and restart.  Yes, this phrasing was coined in the early 1980’s with the dawn of the computer age, but read that again ~

“to shut down and restart”

But here is the twist my dear friend….you cannot undertake this process alone.  You must consult with a professional…with one who knows how the manual works…with someone who can guide you through the rebooting process with minimal (or without any!) loss of information.

Had I tried to figure out how to reboot my iPhone, I may have lost precious photos (uh..yeah…I am currently downloading all my photos to my computer while I write this!), or other various apps and programs on my phone.  But because I followed Ashley’s directions, and did not try to second-guess her (she’s the expert here!) or jump ahead of the process, the reboot was successful.  My precious list didn’t show up (it’s floating around in cyberspace I’m sure!) but the reboot was a success.  Everything that was on my iPhone during the last back-up, was returned.

Can you see where I’m going here?  I hope so….it took my all day to figure this one out!

What is it in your life that is out of whack?  Just a hair off?  Something slightly damaged?  What is God asking you to shut down and restart?  What “data” is God asking you to erase?  NONE of these things are easy or comfortable…they are sometimes downright frightening!  But when the God of the Universe, the Father who loves you dearly, is asking you to trust Him through the process of “rebooting and starting over,” He can absolutely 100% be trusted!  He is the expert of your life!  He is the professional that you can run to in times of trouble and distress!

But before you can reboot anything successfully, you have to have made a back-up plan.  Now, my iPhone can be set to do it automatically so I don’t have to think about it.  Seriously, if I have one more thing I have to remember every day…ugh!  Not a good thought!  But with the Lord and His Word, it’s not an automatic anything.  We have to be actively involved in uploading (I know….another computer term) the Living Word of God into our hearts and minds.  When we are daily in process of reading God’s Word, praying throughout our day, we have a back-up of truth that we can draw from when we have to shut down and restart.

We have Old Testament truths in Deuteronomy 11:18-19, Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” and in Psalm 26:2, “Test me, Lord, and try me, examine my heart and my mind;” and in the New Testament we read beautiful verses like Mark 12:30, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’” and a favorite of mine and so many others, Philippians 4:6-8, Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.””

I would like to challenge you right now, when you are done reading this, to go to the Lord in prayer.  Part of this time in prayer can most definitely include time spent in His Word (the best ‘owner & operator’ manual you’ll ever have)!  This is not a “get an answer quick” kind of attitude here, but one of reverence for the fact that the Lord is the ONLY one you can turn to who can help you to be confident through the rebooting process.  Allow Him to take out the thought patterns that are filling your mind with “spam” (sorry…I couldn’t help but get one more computer reference in there)! Let Him clear out the filters of lies that the enemy has been feeding your way. And then…FOLLOW His directions!  This is key!

Jump in and let the professional erase the unnecessary and damaged views you may have about Him, about your life, about the world you are living in.  Allow the Lord (yeah..the professional!) do His work in your life so that you can be made new again.  So that you can move forward freely to accomplish the tasks He has for you, and so that you can do them well.

The rebooting process takes some time.  Just like my iPhone, some of the apps came back right away and worked fine, while other more detailed areas took longer.  There is no way to rush the process ~ because if you try, you will negate the process and it will have to start over.  But thank you Lord Jesus that you are a patient Father, who desires to take the time (when I choose to place my life in His very capable hands) to get me back on the path to restoration and wholeness.

My friends, trust Him today with your reboot!  It’s worth it!!

Blessings,

René

Philippians 4 verse 7

 

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

In the Shadows

On a recent trip out of town with my husband, we took a bunch of photos…and of course posted them on social media!  In many of them, I was in the shadow of my tall husband because the sun was so bright.  I couldn’t open my eyes in the photos, and I don’t like taking photos with my sunglasses on.  I know, I know…big problems of life here!  One of my darling witty daughters commented on one photo saying, “So sad that you’ll always be in dad’s shadow.”  It actually made me laugh since I had CHOSEN to be in his shadow so I didn’t have to squint into the sunlight or leave my sunglasses on.  I wrote a reply saying, “I like to think of it as shelter from the heat!” And the next moment, I heard the Holy Spirit whisper to my heart, “In MY Shadow is exactly where you are supposed to be.”  Whoa!  I love it how God can even speak to my heart through social media!  LOL!!

I’ve been mulling over this whole idea between “in the shadows” and “in shelter of” for the past two days now.  And here I sit now chatting with you!

Shadow ~ “a dark figure or image cast on the ground or some surface by a body intercepting light; shade or comparative darkness; darkness especially that of coming after sunset; shelter; protection.”

Shelter ~ “something beneath, behind, or within which a person, animal, or thing is protected from storms, missiles, adverse conditions, etc.; refuge; protection from blame or incrimination; a dwelling place or home considered as a refuge from the elements; to be a shelter for; to place under cover; to protect; take under one’s protection; find a shelter.”

Psalm 91:1, “Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.”

Isn’t that beautiful!  This verse in Psalms completely captures the unique quality of the beauty that combines being in the shadow AND being sheltered by the Lord ~ at the same time!

Take a quick look back at the dictionary definition of the word shelter.  Now think of this meaning in spiritual terms.  When we are sheltered beneath the wings of our Heavenly Father (Psalm 36:7*), we are able to sing with confidence!  He is able to protect us from the storms of life, from the missiles of discontent blasted off from the enemy, and from conditions in our life that are meant to distract or make us dissatisfied with the Lord.  When we make our home with the Lord, we can take refuge from the arrows of the enemy and trust that He will extinguish the deadly fires of dissatisfaction.

Notice as well what I’m pointing out here….the attacks from the enemy WILL COME!  They are inevitable simply because we are children of the Most High God.  We are reminded in 1 Peter 5:8, “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”  And how do we maintain a sober and alert mind?  As we read scripture, we are sheltered by the Word of the Lord and all that comes into our mind from Him enables us to wage a victorious battle against the lies of Satan.  This verse maintains that the enemy is “like a roaring lion” ~ it doesn’t say that the enemy IS one…big difference there!  It also doesn’t say that we as Christians are like sitting ducks waiting to be picked off ~ we are moving targets that the enemy tries to pin down, but we are NOT to be passive!  NO my friend ~ we are to be ever-moving about our life, navigating the path that God has set us on, and be ready to press into the Lord when the battle wages.  And the battle will be tougher on some days than others.  There will be seasons of hand-to-hand combat, and seasons of less contention ~ but every day we should be ready for whatever comes our way.

Another reason to remember to put on the proper battle gear ~ the Armor of God!! (Ephesians 6). Oh, and here’s one of the most comforting pictures in scripture to me ~ I don’t have to worry about constantly looking behind me to see what’s coming.  I can use all my energy (mental, physical, and spiritual) to move forward knowing that I’m protected because God has my back!  Isaiah 52:12 says, “But you will not leave in haste or go in flight; for the Lord will go before you, the God of Israel will be your rear guard.”  YES!!!  My God and His angel armies are sheltering my life from all that I cannot see as I move in concert with what I can see and follow God’s leading in how to combat the enemy as he tries to throw me off course! I don’t know about you, but I gave myself chills here!

We have an endless supply of reminders in God’s Word of how the Lord protects, shelters, and shadows us.  But we have to be IN and involved in spending time in the scriptures to know this.

When the heat of battle is beating down on your head ~ hide in the cool shadow of the everlasting God.

Blessings,

René

Psalm 91 verse 1

{ photo taken on our trip as we drove through the Presidio in San Francisco }

 

All Bible verses found on http://www.biblegateway.com, NIV version
 * Further reference: Psalm 36:7, “How priceless is your unfailing love, O God! People take refuge in the shadow of your wings.”

 

 

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

Life Quakes

Have you ever experienced an earthquake?  If you live in Southern California….I bet you have!  With the current El Nino going on, there’s been a lot of information in the news lately about natural disasters ~ floods, rains, winds, and even some earthquakes.  In fact, yesterday (1-17-16) was the 22nd anniversary of the devastating 1994 Northridge Earthquake.  I will never forget that event.  And I still can’t understand how they went from declaring it a 7.9 all the way down to a 6.7 ~ it’s got to do something with insurance and what they pay out after a certain pointage.  But that’s another blog for another day.

That day, in the wee hours of the night, my husband and I awoke to the most violent shaking and rolling ~ it was absolutely terrifying!  I remember standing up in bed because I couldn’t get my footing on the floor; I jumped off the edge of the bed, through the doorway and landed in the hallway.  Still haven’t figured that one out yet, but that’s really what happened. Our oldest daughter was only 4 months old at the time and in her own room.  Because the quake was rolling up and down, AND shaking side to side, we couldn’t get her bedroom door open.  We finally did and it took us a bit to find her…bouncing all over her crib.  Those minutes we experienced are something that will always live with us; and will always be thankful we survived!

My parents and sister were living just a mile from the epicenter.  My sister woke up looking out her bedroom window…which was about 5 feet ABOVE her bed!  True story!  My parents have a CalKing bed and they weren’t able to grab on to each other because the shaking was so violent.  Once they could get out of the house, they ended up staying in our little 600 sq. foot apartment for about 8 days before they could go home.  One day when I came in from the daily washing of bath towel, everyone was watching a video clip of a man shoveling the bits and pieces of kitchenware into a trash can, items that had previously been dishes, bowls, platters, cups, mugs, and family heirlooms.  Now, when I had left the apartment to put the towels in the dryer everyone had been watching the news.  So, upon returning and seeing the video clip, I thought they were still watching the news.  I commented on how awful it must be for that family who’d lost everything.  My husband, parents, and sister all turned and looked at me as if I’d said something odd.  I reiterated that I felt really bad for those people and how it’s going to take a long time to get back to normal.  That’s when my Dad looked at me, tears in his eyes, and said, “Rene’, that’s OUR house.” I was stunned….words failed me.  It did takes years to recover, but recover and rebuild they did!

A few years ago, when I was homeschooling our youngest daughter, we were studying earthquakes in her science book and it talked about the Northridge quake…so of course, I recounted the story of our experience.  🙂

While we continued studying together, it was interesting to me as I read through the points and terminology they used in the science book as it related to earthquakes: focus, fault, creep, and epicenter.  We’ve all heard those words before, and living in California, we hear those words A LOT!  But as I was reading through the definitions with my daughter, I couldn’t help but feel the nudge of the Holy Spirit revealing to me how these particular words relate to us in a spiritual sense.

Let me share with you these definitions:

Focus: the point underground where an earthquake starts.

Epicenter: a sudden movement of Earth’s crust.

Creep: slow movement of Earth’s crust along a fault.

Fault: a crack in the Earth’s crust.

So, have you had any “Life Quakes” lately?  Anything been creeping down a fault line in your life?  I found it very interesting that it is not the epicenter that is the place where the earthquake begins and originates – that is called the ‘focus.’  So where is our focus? What is at our center – what is centered at the core of our heart?

Earthquakes happen when there is too much pressure in the core of the earth and along the underneath area of the earth’s crust.  When pressure builds up near a fault line, there is sometimes a sudden movement (epicenter) or a slow movement (creep) in the earth’s crust to relieve that pressure.  Earthquake!

I bet you didn’t think you were going to get a mini Science lesson this morning when you woke up!  Well, hang in there with me…by the time I’m done writing this post, I hope you can see how we experience “Life Quakes”, but thinking in terms of the above definitions.

When we have cracks in our facade, and the pressure builds from all the stuff we have going on underneath, my friend, there is gonna be movement that happens ~ some will be a slight little shudder that we barely notice; some will be a shaking so intense we cannot help but to seek cover and rebuild.

Life Quakes come in many different shapes and intensities ~ car accidents, bounced checks, losing a home, losing a family member, difficulties with friends or children, job loss, marital issues; and the list can go on and on.  Sometimes when God shakes things up in our life, we wonder “Where the heck did that come from?” And sometimes, we know exactly where it has come from.

Sometimes the pressure that builds up in our life is from our own doing ~ worry, fear, anxiety, sinful actions, etc.

Sometimes the pressures comes from spiritual bondage or warfare.

Either way, the Lord IS going to allow a “life quake” to happen in order for that pressure to be released; for the sake of rebuilding to occur!

Isaiah 43:1-3 says, Now this is what the Lord says— the One who created you, Jacob, and the One who formed you, Israel— “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are Mine. I will be with you when you pass through the waters, and when you pass through the rivers, they will not overwhelm you.  You will not be scorched when you walk through the fire, and the flame will not burn you. For I Yahweh your God, the Holy One of Israel, and your Savior, give Egypt as a ransom for you, Cush and Seba in your place.”

These verses have long been a calming passage to me.  It’s not “if”, but “when.”  Our response to the shaking is not only an indication of where our focus is but it is a visible sign to those around us of how we are choosing to deal with those events that shake up our life…those life-quakes.

If we go running and screaming into the unknown, we may experience severe injuries by falling debris.  But when we stand firm, under a stronghold, with our head down and our neck covered, we can walk away from the disaster virtually unscathed.  We can walk through the rubble, out into a clear space.  We can look back and get rid of the unimportant stuff that was causing confusion, and we can sift through the pieces to find what really has true meaning.

Psalm 9:9-10, The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble.  Those who know Your name trust in You because You have not abandoned those who seek You, Yahweh.”

Psalm 18:19, He brought me out to a spacious place; He rescued me because He delighted in me.”

During the Northridge earthquake, numerous new stations shared a variety of survival stories.  Some were humorous ~ yes, there were plenty of folks who ran outside in their birthday suits!  Some were terrifying.  Some were extremely tragic. Everyone had a story to share. Everyone experienced the very same earthquake, but depending on how close they were to the epicenter of the quake made a difference in what kind of story they had lived through. My little family and I were 14 miles away from the epicenter.  We had a few things fall off shelves, but did not have any damage or loss.  My parents were less than one mile from the epicenter and lost everything in their kitchen, most of all their photos fell from the walls, their house moved off the foundation, and every single window in the house was shifted out of their framing.  Because of the varying proximity to the shaking, our rebuilding and recovery time was vastly different.

Psalm 34:17-18,The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears, and delivers them from all their troubles. The Lord is near the brokenhearted; He saves those crushed in spirit.”

When those tremors begin in our spirit, we must pay close attention to them.  The Lord is getting ready to do some remodeling ~ and maybe even some relocating.

LET HIM!!

God has brought me nearer to Him in the past decade as never before, and it’s all due to a variety of life-quakes our family has experienced.  But the remodeling and rebuilding I have personally gone through with the Lord is completely worth it!  It doesn’t mean that I’m not freaked out a little when I feel a tremor.  However, in the back of my mind I can choose to be excited to see what God is going to do next!

Read the following verse and let it wash over you as a balm to any “quake wounds” you may be experiencing today ~ Psalm 19:14, May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to You, Lord, my rock and my Redeemer.”

Just as we cannot predict earthquakes, we cannot necessarily predict life-quakes.  But as with earthquakes, we can be prepared for them when they occur.  We can do the same with life-quakes ~ we can prepare our hearts and minds as we daily read God’s Word and choose to trust Him with our life.  We can put on the Armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18) so that we are protected in the stronghold of the Almighty Hand of God.

Take heart my friend ~ He will provide a way out!

Psalm 34 verse 17 and 18

Blessings,

René