Slow Down the Scroll

“But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear.” Matthew 13:16
I was just scrolling through Facebook.  To me, it is a tool to help me know how to pray. It tells me who needs prayer on this particular day.
There is a family who is grieving the loss of their 23 year old daughter from a drug overdose.  There was a dog found buried alive in Georgia, that died the next day.  It’s the one year anniversary of the loss of a best friend for another.
Prayers of comfort are needed.
There are the usual political posts from friends on both sides of the fence.  Lots of people are enjoying the summer.  Yard work is being accomplished today by friends in Florida.  There is pool time being enjoyed in Pennsylavania and people heading to work in California.
Prayers of thanksgiving are lifted.
There are scriptures.  I always wonder what it is about that scripture that made them post it?  What is going on in their life that it touched them?  What point are they trying to make?  Is there someone specific they are hoping will read it?  Is God telling me something?
Prayers of discernment are asked.
I’m always amazed at the ads.  My husband and I share our Facebook page.  He was searching for a generator the other day. Now ads for generators pop up in my feed. That feels very intrusive to me.  How does Facebook know what we’re shopping for so quickly?
Prayers of protection for us.
All in a quick scroll through a social media page.
I’ve heard more than one message about Facebook.  How it’s people posting their highlight reel of their life.  That can definitely be argued.  Or you could look at it from another perspective.  If this is their highlight reel, how sad is the rest of their life?
I always try to look beneath the surface of the post for the motivation of it.
Often, it is pure.  People are just sharing their life.  Sometimes, there is more.  There is sadness, loneliness  and even despair.  We can miss it though if we scroll to quickly.  Within a few minutes you can see all spectrums of life.  People hurting, people rejoicing, people living.
Slow down the scroll.  Look beneath the surface.  Don’t just assume it’s a highlight reel.  Ask yourself is there more to this post than just the picture and the words?  How can I pray for them?  Do they need more than a “like” or a “comment”?  Do they need a phone call, a text or even a hug?
Who needs prayer in your life today?

Peanuts

“Ask me and I will tell you remarkable secrets you do not know about things to come.” Jeremiah 33:3
One of my favorite stories…
George Carver Washington, a renowned botanist started his mornings with prayer and Bible reading. He took this verse very seriously. One day he asked the Lord to reveal to him the secrets of the universe. The Lord said he couldn’t handle knowing all of those secrets. George then asked him, “Tell me the secrets of the peanut.” Over the course of the next several years God revealed to him the secrets of the peanut, over 300 uses. When he asked the same thing of the sweet potato, God revealed to him over a 115 uses for it.
Do you have the courage to do what George Carver Washington did?  Do you have the courage to ask God for some of His secrets?
When George did this, it revolutionized his life.  He went from being the son of a slave to a great American scientist.  He served on the faculty of Tuskegee University teaching sustainable farming.  World Leaders Mahatma Gandhi and Joseph Stalin sought his advice.  Thomas Edison told him “Together, we can remake the world.” Henry Ford, as well as Edison offered him state of the art facilities and resources to do his work.
He preferred is laboratory which he called “God’s little workshop.”
He was bold and courageous and he sought God’s secrets.  God answered and as a result, George changed the world and left a heck of a legacy.
What about you?  What secrets do you want God to share with you?  What are your motives?
George’s motives were to grow more intimate with his Creator and to help his fellow man and his nation.
As I prayed over this verse this morning, I wanted to know only one thing.  I wanted to know that a friend of mine that is going through a very difficult time would be ok.  That’s all I wanted God to tell me this morning.
He hasn’t told me what the future holds for her.  He has given me peace that He loves her more than I ever could. He told me He’s got this.
He answered my prayer.
That’s enough for me to know today.  Maybe tomorrow I’ll ask Him to tell me something else.
What do you want to know today?  He’s waiting to answer.

In God We Trust

“It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in people.” Psalm 118:8
This is one of my favorite verses, it comes to mind often when dealing with people.  There are many different translations.  KJV says, “It is better to trust in the Lord…”.  It is so true, it is in God we must trust, not man.
I played a golf tournament yesterday with a lovely group of ladies.  One of them was a retired banker.  We were joking at one point about the motto of her old softball team:
“In God we trust, all others we audit.”
I think it’s a great paraphrase of Psalm 118:8, which by the way is the center verse of the Bible.  I don’t think that’s a coincidence.  In the very heart of God’s word, He tells us to trust Him.  That seems about right.
The truth is, we do need to audit people.  We can’t put all of our trust in humans.  For one thing, it’s not fair to put that much pressure on a person.  Secondly, no one can live up to that expectation, not even me.  Only God can be completely trusted.
Trust is such a fragile thing and can be so easily fractured.  Sadly, once broken, it is hard to repair.  When someone lies to me, it breaks my heart in ways that nothing else is capable of doing.
I wonder why they felt the need to lie?  What is it about me that makes them not feel comfortable telling me the truth?  It makes me feel that I have failed them as a friend.  It’s something I don’t understand.
Ironically, often times we lie because we think we’re protecting the person.  Inevitably though, it hurts worse than if the truth had been told in the first place.
Thankfully, we aren’t called to trust people.  We are called to love them.  You can love people you don’t trust.  They may not be your closest confidante, but you can still love them.
Jesus knew better than to trust people:
“But Jesus didn’t trust them, because he knew human nature.”  John 2:24
But He does love us, and we’re to love others:
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” John 13:34
It’s true, it’s hard to have a close relationship with someone you can’t trust.  Even truer is the statement, we’re to love them anyway.
I’m grateful that Jesus has set the example.  He’s a hard act to follow, but it is definitely worth the effort!

Choices

“In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps.”  Proverbs 16:9
I’m reading through “The Power of a Praying Wife” by Stormie Omartian with a friend.  When I was reading today, this sentence struck me:
“History tends to repeat itself without the intervention of God.”
Wow!
Stop!
Think about that!
Think about your past.  What are things that keep repeating themselves in your life?  As you answer that question, you probably have just been given a clue to the areas of your life where you are not letting God intervene.  Mind blowing!
I always have defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.  I think I may just change that definition a bit for my life.  Insanity in my life is doing the same things over and over again and not letting God into the mix.
When I was single, my relationships didn’t start to change until I started letting God into them.  When I started to apply His principles I started having healthy relationships.  Because I consult Him now, I maintain healthy relationships.
When I was in debt, nothing changed until I decided to let God into my finances.  I wrote my first tithe check when I was on unemployment with over $40,000 in credit card debt, student loan debt and a car loan.  Hard to make the minimum payments on unemployment.  I was receiving $250 a week and I started writing that $25 check.  It was actually easier because it wasn’t a large amount at that time.
God honored that obedience.  Five months later I found a job that was more than double what I had been making previously.  Ironically, it became much harder to write the tithe check because the amount was much larger.  Yet I did.  That was almost 20 years ago and one thing I learned, God honors the tithe, always.
I didn’t become debt free immediately.  It took years.  During that time I struggled with the thought, “God, you have all the money in the world, why don’t you just cut me a check so I can be done with this?”  I asked myself that quite a bit.  It took me awhile to realize the answer.
God wouldn’t of been doing me any favors if He’d paid off my debt because I wouldn’t of learned the lesson.  I wouldn’t of learned self-control.  I wouldn’t of learned how to budget.  I wouldn’t of learned the root cause of my overspending, which had a lot to do with insecurity. I wouldn’t of learned any of that if God had wiped out my debt.  Odds are, history would of tended to repeat itself if God hand’t intervened.
Now I live debt free.  When I married my husband, I was debt free.  On our honeymoon we created our first budget.  We live within our means because the Lord intervened in my finances all those years ago.  One quarrel my husband and I don’t have is about money.  Who knew, that in teaching me how to handle money the Lord was actually helping my future marriage?
Thank God the Lord intervened.

  • Where do you need God to intervene in your life?  The answer to the question, “What history keeps repeating itself in your life?” is probably a good place to start.

Seasons

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens” Ecclesiastes 3:1
I have an amazing group of women that I meet with every two weeks.  It’s a new group. Today was only our fourth meeting.  The connection we have made in this brief period of time can only be described as a God thing.  They are why I love groups.  They are why I know everyone needs a group.  They are why I give my time away so other people can experience and share what we experience and share together.
Today’s topic was on seasons of life.  My favorite quote was “Sometimes good seasons have to end so great seasons can begin.”  All of us, in our group, are in different seasons of life. Sharon inspired this blog, as we talked about the different seasons of our lives.
As I pulled on my reading glasses in the midst of describing this season of my life, she astutely pointed out that “they” are an indication of the season I am in today.
I am in mid-life.  Mid-life comes with indicators.  My eyesight isn’t what it was five years ago.  My body takes longer to recover from a work out.  I have a hard time guessing someone’s age under 25.  They all look young to me.
Our study this morning challenged us to love the seasons that we are currently experiencing.   The question becomes, “How do we do that?”
How do we do that?
I think first we have to recognize that there are seasons.  That things don’t last forever.  In fact, you can bank on the fact that whatever you’re going through right now, it’s not going to last forever.  It will change.   It will end.  It will become a new season.
I struggle with identifying seasons sometimes.  It is why I am so grateful for women like those I shared time with this morning who help me identify my seasons.  You can’t love something if you don’t even know it exists.
Learning to identify seasons isn’t as apparent as the changing of seasons in Mother Nature.  If we pay attention, we will see the identifiers.  The day you become a teenager.  The day you get your driver’s license.  The day you graduate high school or college.  The day you get married.  The day you have your first child, then your second.  The day you put on your first pair of reading glasses.  These are just a few, but they all identify a new season.  Just like the cooler temperatures in September indicate Fall.
Once we recognize that our lives are divided into seasons, we can start appreciating them.  When it is Summer, I appreciate the warmth.  When I received my driver’s license I appreciated the new found freedom.  When the leaves change in the Fall I appreciate their beautful colors.  As I place my readers on my nose I appreciate the clarity they give me.
The seasons of life vary from person to person.  From Mom’s to women who never had children, there are still seasons.   Whether single or married, there are still seasons.
I’m grateful for my current season.  It isn’t all a big bowl of cherries.  Even in the struggles, I am grateful.  I am grateful because I have a God that is bigger than any struggle I will ever face.  I am grateful because there is nothing new on earth.  I am grateful for the people God gives me to help me through whatever season I am in at the time.  I am grateful because I have a God who will never leave me nor forsake me, no matter what circumstance I face.
I am grateful, because I know, that He does the same for you.  I know He loves you more than I ever could.  I know He has a plan for you.  I know it’s a good plan, one that will prosper you and not harm you.  Do you know how I know?  Because His word says so:
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9
And:
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  Jeremiah 29:11
If I can count on it, so can you!
 
 

Love Your Enemies

 “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”  Matthew 5:44
One of the most common conversations I’ve had with people is about praying for your enemies.  People are very resistant to praying for those they have categorized as their opponent. My pat answer has always been because it changes you.  It changes your heart.  It changes your perspective.
I’m currently reading through “The Power of a Praying Wife” by Stormie  Omartian.  I love how she describes it:
“The safeguard you have with prayer is that you have to go through God to do it.  This means you can’t get away with bad attitude, wrong thinking, or incorrect motives.  When you pray, God reveals anything in your personality that is resistant to His order of things.”
I love this new way of thinking about this verse, about praying for your enemies.  When you enter into prayer with God, in sincerity, you can let it all hang out.  You can rant and rave and give it all to Him.  He can handle it.  What He does with it will amaze you.
He doesn’t hit you over the head with a hammer.  He doesn’t berate you or call you names.  He loves you.  He loves the person with whom you are mad.
He will gently remind you that you have your flaws.  He will help you recognize that you have a part in the disagreement or conflict.  He will show you where you need to change.  He will do it all cushioned in such unconditional love you will be grateful.
He safeguards you from yourself as you go through Him to process your anger.  He will calm the seas of your heart.  He will give you direction.  He will help you gain perspective.
First though, you have to go to Him.

Land of the Free

“Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7
I performed my first wedding two days ago. I still can’t believe that I can now add marrying someone to my resume.  Wonderful friends who honored me when they asked me to join them together in Holy Matrimony.
It was a beautiful ceremony.  The sun was shining.  It overlooked the James River.  There was a beach and an arbor. Everyone’s hearts were full of love.
I was nervous.  As I walked to my place to begin the ceremony, I had a simple prayer.  “Help me Lord.  Help me honor You. Help me honor them.”
He surely did.  As I opened my mouth to speak, I was amazed at the words that left my mouth. They sounded sure and confident.   They sounded like I had done this a million times.  I even ad libbed a joke.  It all felt so surreal.  I wasn’t sure if it was even me.
It wasn’t me. It was all God.
He honored that prayer in such a wonderful way.  I’m still reeling in amazement.  Grateful for how He showed up for me.  Thankful for the honor of being able to bless two dear friends in such a special way!
I cast my anxiety onto Him and He showed me how much He cared, not only for me, but for them as well.
That’s how easy it is to cast your anxieties onto Him.  A simple plea for help.  He’s just waiting to show us how much He cares.
This Memorial Day I can’t help but think of all the prayers our military men and women have lifted to Him.  I am so humbled by the sacrifices they make every day for someone like me.
“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”  John 15:13
There are men and women who are doing that for me today.   There are men and women who have sacrificed their lives so that I could live in a land of freedom.
I spent this weekend free.  In addition to performing my first wedding, I played cornhole and golf.  I camped with my friends and family.  I cooked out and even went to the batting cage.  All because men and women who don’t even know me are willing to sacrifice their lives for me.
I am humbled by your sacrifice.  I am thankful for your commitment.  Words cannot express the deep gratitude that I have for your service.  I can never repay you for giving me such a gift.
From the bottom of my heart, thank you!  My prayer for you is this, the Psalm of Protection:
Psalm 91
1 Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
2 I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”
3 Surely he will save you
from the fowler’s snare
and from the deadly pestilence.
4 He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
5 You will not fear the terror of night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,
6 nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
nor the plague that destroys at midday.
7 A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.
8 You will only observe with your eyes
and see the punishment of the wicked.
9 If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,”
and you make the Most High your dwelling,
10 no harm will overtake you,
no disaster will come near your tent.
11 For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways;
12 they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread on the lion and the cobra;
you will trample the great lion and the serpent.
14 “Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him;
I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
15 He will call on me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him
and show him my salvation.”


 

Filling the tank

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10
I posted on Facebook about my gas tank.  My literal gas tank in the Prius that I drive.  I so rarely need gas in it that I inevitably drive it until the gas light comes on and it’s running on fumes.  I’ve never done this with any other car, yet since I’ve started driving a Prius, I am constantly letting it get to low.
I made a joke about how I need to put a reminder on my calendar to fill my tank so this wouldn’t happen. It occurred to me in the moments after posting it that we do the same thing with God.  We let our tanks get too low.  We forget to fill them up and then we find ourselves running on fumes.  The only problem is, we don’t have a warning light that tells us to get to the fuel pump.
Or do we and we just ignore them, like I ignore my fuel meter in my car?
Could the warning light in our lives be the irritation we feel with the people around us?  The tiredness we feel?  The lack of hope?  These things creep into our lives and we just accept them as status quo.  Yet that isn’t how God wants us to live our lives.  Jesus came so we can have life and have it to the fullest.
I am convinced that is why we need to make time with God a priority.  It needs to be on our calendar and we need to make it happen.  I believe it should be daily.  In one 24 hour period, your tank can hit empty.  We need to be refueling daily.
Why else would so many devotionals be called “Daily Bread”?
“Then the Lord said to Moses, “I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. In this way I will test them and see whether they will follow my instructions.”  Exodus 16:4
This verse comes from Exodus, when Moses is leading the Israelites out of Egypt and slavery.  God is very specific that they are only to gather enough for that day.  The only exception is Saturday, when they gather enough for two days because of the Sabbath.
It’s interesting, the people don’t listen.  They take too much at first.  By the next morning, the extra is full of worms and inedible.  God said only take enough for that day.
Aren’t we the same as the Israelites?  Don’t we want to fuel up in church on Sunday and expect that to keep our tank full for the entire week?
That’s not enough.  We need more than that if we want to keep our tank full.  We need to “top off” daily.
For me, it’s first thing in the morning.  That’s my time to open my Bible and read.  It’s my time to thank God for what He has done and what He is doing.  It’s my time to dedicate my life to Him once again.  Turn it all over and pray He can make something of my humble efforts.
For you it might be at lunch.  It could be in the car on the drive to work as you listen to the Bible or a podcast.  It could be in the evening or right before bed.
It doesn’t matter what time of the day it happens, it just matters that it happens.  If we want to live life to the fullest, we can only do that by staying connected to the fuel.  Finding ways to re-fuel daily is the key.  Whether through reading God’s word, listening to worship music or a podcast, or spending time with another Christ follower.  One thing is certain, once a week on Sunday is not enough to keep your tank full.
Check your gas tank, is it time to head to the gas station?

Ode to Mom!

“So soldiers cut the lifeboat and let it drift away.” Acts 27:32
The other day while I was studying I read the story of Paul’s shipwreck.  It’s a good read, Acts 27: 27-42.  This verse jumped out at me, I’ve been thinking about it for days.  The sailors are freaking out, so they put out the lifeboats “just in case”.  Paul tells them if they jump ship they will surely die.  They trust him and they cut the lifeboats and let them drift away.
The first thought that entered my head was, “What is my lifeboat that I need to cut away?”.  It just struck me that what Paul was asking them to do was to cut their ties to what the world would have them do and trust God.  I started thinking about all the “lifeboats” we have.  Things, people, places we cling to because we think they will keep us safe.  We think they will protect us.  But they won’t, they can’t.  Only God can do that.
Today is Mother’s Day.  I think for the majority of us, our Mom’s were or are our first lifeboat.  They picked us up when we fell down.  They kissed our boo-boos and told us everything was ok.  When our heart was broken for the first time, they held us as we cried.  When we accomplished anything, from taking our first step to graduating, they were and are our biggest cheerleaders.
My Mom was my hardest lifeboat to cut.  It’s not a cutting from your life, but it’s realizing she can’t protect you from the storms of life.  No matter how hard she wants too.  I think our storms are harder for her to bear than her own storms.  Watching your child suffer has to be the hardest thing a person can endure.
When I was in second grade I found a poem in my Mom’s Bible.  It had been read at her brother’s funeral. She had written on it that she wanted it read at her funeral.  It made me so sick to my stomache that day I missed school.  The thought of life without my Mom was unbearable.  I could live without a lot of things, but I couldn’t imagine living without her.
I was incredibly blessed.  My Mom and I had a very close relationship.  By the end of her life, she was more than my Mom. She was and always will be my best friend.  It has been three years since she passed.  I feel closer to her now than ever.
God helped me cut the lifeboat that was my Mom, but in true God fashion.  When I cut the rope, I didn’t lose her, I found her.
It was March 6, 2010 when we found out my Mom had Pancreatic Cancer.  She had a blockage in her colon and they were able to remove it.  The cancer had grown down into her colon instead of up through her body, which is what pancreatic cancer typically does.  She was 7% of the people that could have it surgically removed.  That gave us another 4 and 1/2 years with her.
During that time God transitioned my life.  I was 41 years old when that happened and had never been married.  On Oct. 21 of that year he brought my husband into my life.  My Mom was able to watch our relationship grow.  She was there the day we were married.  He was there the day she died.  God gave me a new lifeboat when He took away the old.  Or that is what I thought, until I started thinking about this verse.
The truth is God is all I need.  The people He gives us in life, they’re not lifeboats, they’re blessings.  It isn’t fair to put that much pressure on one person, even your Mom.  God gives us people to help us in life.  He gives us things that make life easier.  He creates places where we feel safe.  All of those are gifts from God, to be treasured.
It was because of God in my life I could accept my Mom was dieing.  It was because of God in my life, instead of fearing the future without her I enjoyed the days I had with her.  One of my most precious memories of my Mom is holding her hand as she went to meet Jesus.  I still see the smile on her face as she slipped away.  I didn’t cut a lifeboat, I let my friend enjoy heaven.
One of the things I know my Mom is most proud of me for is reading the poem at her funeral.  The same one I found in her Bible when I was in second grade.  The same one that made me realize she would one day die.  The same one that made me appreciate how great she was.
Now, when I think of my Mom I smile.  She is evident in every part of my life.  I hear her words come from my lips daily.  I watch her actions play out in my life.  I love my husband because she taught me how.  More than anything, I have a rich and full life because she introduced me to Jesus.  She set the example with her actions, not her words.  St. Francis of Assisi quoted, “Preach the Gospel always and when necessary use words.”  My Mom did that incredibly well, he would be proud.
I always say, if I can be half the woman she was, I’ll be doing alright.  Well Mom, you taught me how to do that by leaving me with your favorite Psalm.  A fitting way to end this post dedicated to her:

Psalm 121

1 I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
where does my help come from?
2 My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
3 He will not let your foot slip—
he who watches over you will not slumber;
4 indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
5 The Lord watches over you—
the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
6 the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.
7 The Lord will keep you from all harm—
he will watch over your life;
8 the Lord will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.

The Hope Anchor

” Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:4
I’ve just started the study, “Looking for Lovely” by Anne F. Downs.  In today’s homework she asks this question: “How different would your life be if you made a commitment to persevere-to not quit?”
My answer, I’d be 25 pounds lighter!!!!
Seriously, that is one area that I constantly struggle.  It made me think, we all have areas where we are constantly trying to persevere.  Every day I talk to friends or family who are all “persevering” through something.
Perseverance can be defined as a steady persistence in adhering to a course of action, a belief, or a purpose; steadfastness.
Here’s the catch, in order to be persevering, that means in some way, shape or form you are suffering.  After all, when you’re having fun it’s easy to keep going.  It’s when things are tough that we want to give up.  It’s not so easy to be steadfast when you’re in pain.
Yet according to James 1:4, it is letting perseverance finish its work in us that makes us mature and complete, lacking nothing.
Perseverance takes work!
Perseverance is exhausting on so many levels, both mentally and physically.  It can leave you bone tired or emotionally spent.  There are days when it would be so easy to quit, then there are days when you feel like you could conquer the world.
What is it that makes people keep persevering?  What stops them from giving up? Why do I constantly get on the band wagon every time I fall off?
Is it because suffering leads to perseverance, perseverance leads to character and character leads to hope?  That is what Romans 5:3-5 says, that at the end of the road is hope.
Hope is why we keep persevering.   It is hoping that today will be different, that this time will be different.  It is hope that is the light at the end of the tunnel.
A single strand of hope is a very powerful thing.  It can move mountains, cross oceans, save lives.  Hope is the anchor to persevering, without it there is no reason to keep going.  Hope is what keeps us on course.  It is the belief that there is something better.  Hope is what gives us purpose.  Hope keeps us steadfast.
“…Hope is the anchor to the soul…”. Hebrews 6:19