Write It On A Rock

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December 2nd, 2013 by Sarah

From the Heart


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“For whatever is in your heart determines what you say.”  Matthew 12:34b

Do you ever find something coming out of your mouth and then wish you hadn’t said it?  I do this often.  Or I leave a situation and wonder why I felt the need to talk so much instead of listen.

Jesus said that what comes out of our mouths is a reflection of what’s going on in our hearts.

I listened to a message on this subject last Monday by Chip Ingram and I wanted to share with you a helpful tool he shared.  It can help us to discern what’s in our hearts or even our kids’ hearts by the things that come out of our mouths.

He said that if you find yourself speaking…

  • Words of harshness…. they reveal a heart of anger.
  • Words of negativity… a heart of fear.
  • Overactivity of words, talk talk talk… our hearts are unsettled/not at rest.
  • Words of criticism… heart of bitterness.
  • Words of filth … a heart that’s impure.
  • Boasting words … an insecure heart.
  • Encouraging words… a heart of happiness that wants to build up others.
  • Gentle words… a tender heart.
  • Truthful words…  an honest heart.
  • Kind words… a loving heart.

This isn’t an exhaustive list by any means, but it could help us determine if we need to forgive someone, stop watching/listening to some type of media, put ourselves in more godly environments etc.

I have been asking my kids these questions a few times a week before bed.  Has anything hurt your feelings lately?  Are you mad at anyone?  Is there anything you’ve been wanting to tell us?

These questions get at the heart and allow us to teach and pray through what is going on in their ever important hearts.

On another note, my friend Stephanie is posting her Christmas Advent Devotions for families on this blog that she published last year, called “Preparing for Christmas, 25 Devotionals for Families.”  It’s already day two, and she will add a new one each day until Christmas.

It’s a great devotional and I really liked doing this with our kids last night.

I love Christmas time because we are celebrating the hope we have in Jesus, but I know for some it brings along heaviness and sadness.  If there is anything you want me to be praying for during this time please feel free to comment below anonymous or not and I will be sure to pray!

June 5th, 2013 by Sarah

Something Better


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If we plan a vacation to somewhere beautiful we usually have a brochure or pictures we can look up on the internet… something tangible to hold on to, but with heaven we have only small descriptions given to us in the Bible.

Because this world is fallen, I don’t believe we can even begin to grasp the world that awaits us.  Jesus says things like, “I am preparing a mansion for you,” or describes it as “paradise” but we don’t completely know what to imagine.

I just finished my study of Genesis and I was encouraged to see that every single promise God made in Genesis has come to pass thus far.  And there are more to come…promises that we, as Christ followers, wait for.

Just as God kept every promise to Adam and Eve, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, He will keep His promises to us. Philippians 3 20-21 is one promise I have been reading almost daily for the past couple of weeks.

It says, “ But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior.  He will take our weak mortal bodies and change them into glorious bodies like his own, using the same power with which he will bring everything under his control.”

I need to be reminded of verses like this ever day, really.  I am too easily fixated on this world, its problems and it’s joys.

Verse 20 uses the word “eagerly.”  How “eagerly” am I waiting for Jesus to return?  Most days  it is only when I am in pain that I really have an “eager” expectation and hope for eternity with Jesus.

The last couple of weeks I have been doing something many would consider weird.  I have been looking up into the sky, reminding myself that Jesus is coming.  Thanking Him, praying for Him to come.

In verse 21, Paul describes how our bodies will change after Jesus comes.  He says that our “weak mortal bodies” will be changed into “glorious bodies.”  That means my back won’t hurt anymore from picking Jasper up.  There will be no sickness or bruises, and I’m guessing no wrinkles.

It says “glorious.”  I can’t wait to see exactly what that means.  I know it is much better than what we could ever imagine.

Here is my point.  When God told Abraham to go to a new land Abraham had no pictures, no idea of what it would look like.  Some of God’s promises didn’t make sense to Abraham, but now we see that God kept them.

From the moment we wake to when we fall asleep naturally we all have “things” that fill our days, and it is easy to focus only on the temporary things of this world.

How refreshing is it to know that whatever country we are citizens of, whether we live in a good country or a bad, those who are in Christ have our first citizenship in heaven.  That means we are foreigners here, just passing through.

No matter what you are going through right now, as a foreigner in this world, this life is going to be over in a blink of an eye and Jesus has something far greater waiting for us.

One thing is for sure, He will keep His promises to us.  Look up in the sky, we don’t know when, but He promised He is coming.

How do you remember God’s promises in the midst of busy life?

If you are wanting an intimate relationship with God and a hope for eternity but don’t feel like you have that, click here .  I love the simplicity of how this website helps us to begin a relationship with Jesus, and that anyone, no matter what our past, is invited into a relationship with Him!

Have a great rest of the week friends!

 

 

 

December 2nd, 2012 by Sarah

Just Go With It


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I share in my last post that I am working on dealing with stress in a healthier way.  In light of that, I wrote this post for the EBC Marriage and Family Blog, but wanted to share with you as well.

A few months ago I could not find my iPod anywhere.  I use it mainly to listen to the Bible or sermons when I am getting things done around the house or falling asleep at night.  I felt semi lost without it.

In the meantime I had been, and still am, working on trusting God in all areas of my life including little annoyances.    Sometimes the finest details of my life, the silliest little things are the things that throw me over the edge and cause arguments.

I for some reason always have an opinion on what route Jason should take to get to our designation when I’m in the passenger seat.  Yes I’m one of those.  And, if he takes the wrong way and we get stuck in traffic I find myself really irritated, as if the five extra minutes would have drastically changed my life.

I think at the heart of the issue is that I want to control my little world.  I want my day to go as I have planned.  And that plan does not ever include unexpected traffic, honey spilt all over the floor, or a temper tantrum given by my two-year-old when I am trying to get out the door.

How much better would our family life be if we gave each other grace and did not get uptight with one another on small and large matters?

I want to have patience with my family and with the frustrations that come about during my day, but it’s difficult.

Hebrews 11:6 is one of my favorite verses.  It says, “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”  Think about that for a second.

What pleases God?  Out of so many things we could do to please Him it is faith.

Faith is proved in our actions on a daily basis.  As silly as it sounds I have been internally reminding myself to trust God with the phrase, “just go with it.”   If I’m running late, “just go with it.”  Kids have another cold virus, “just go with it.”  I am not going to be able to control every area of my life so I might as well just get over it.

If I really believe that God will bring good out of all things, then I can trust Him with every single detail of my day and life.

So, the iPod.  One of my sons has a habit of getting out of the bath or shower and then running around without drying himself off, leaving puddles to follow wherever he goes.  On a recent occasion I sat down in our baby’s light blue glider and felt water seep into my pants.  My son had went right from the bath to the chair hoping the chair would dry him off.

In my head I thought, “just go with it,” then I politely asked my son to dry himself with a towel next time he gets out of the bath.  He apologized.  I normally may have spoken in an annoyed tone of voice, but this time I used a soft tone, flipped over the seat cushion and there under the cushion lay the iPod that I had just asked God to help me find.  Hidden under a small annoyance lay an answer to prayer.

What are some details of your life that you find yourself trying to control and how would you and your family and benefit if you trusted God with every day living?

 

November 21st, 2012 by Sarah

God’s Big Story


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Happy Thanksgiving!  No matter what today looks like for you, I hope you get some time in to just sit and thank God for who He is and the many undeserved gifts He gives us.

My brother and sister in-law are here from Kansas City last and my sister and her family are coming tomorrow from Wisconsin.  I will be making cranberry sauce, green bean casserole, spoon bread, and squash.  These sweet potatoes are a favorite thanksgiving recipe of mine, but this year my mom requested squash, so squash it is.

The day after thanksgiving we are putting up our Christmas tree and that is like another holiday in itself. We blast the Christmas music, and deck out the house.  Our kids love to help bring the decorations up from the basement.  Then I make a bunch of appetizers for our family that night and we stay home to enjoy each other in our newly decorated house.  It is a treat every year to watch the excitement in our children’s faces throughout the Christmas season.

I am studying Genesis right now.  Last week we studied Genesis 10 and 11, the story of the tower of Babel and the genealogy of Noah’s sons.

To be honest I was bored as I read the genealogy, not sure what I could take out of it, and I all too often move through familiar Bible stories, missing lessons I could be learning because of its familiarity.

Yet as I sat in our sun room this morning reading my Bible study notes on this genealogy I was struck, once again, by the fact that I am a part of God’s Story.  I know the end, I know that my time on this earth is brief and yet God cares about each and every one of us.

He knows our names, what we looked like in our mother’s womb, how many years we will live and every intricacy of our lives in between.

Every day I struggle over decisions, small and large.  I fret over mishaps of my day and I often care too much about how I appear to others.  

Yet when I read a genealogy it all seems so clear.  This is God’s story and not my own.  I get WAY too stressed over small matters…  Someone used the last of the milk I needed for the dinner I am supposed to make in 10 minutes.  Or my kids just messed up the floor I just cleaned, and something is added to my “to do” list that I didn’t plan.

I am working on this.  I catch myself, stop and pray, thank God or just acknowledge He is with me when I find myself getting stressed.  My blood pressure is rising just thinking about how I overly react to my circumstances on a daily basis.

Why do I fret?  Maybe it’s because I think that this world should revolve around me.  Maybe it is because I don’t trust God that He has a greater purpose for everything, even the small difficulties of our day.

Yesterday I was having a hard time making a few small decisions that had snowball effects on me and others.  I immediately recognized my temptation to stress about it.  I prayed that God would make the right decision clear to me, recognized that God is in control, I calmly waited a few minutes and went with a decision.  It felt so good, and looking back my way would not have turned out well anyway.

1 Peter 5:7 says “Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.”  I love that even though our lives are such a tiny part of God’s bigger story, God cares for US.  He cares for YOU.  He doesn’t want us to worry, He wants us to give Him every concern we have.

I told Micah and Hudson this week separately “you are a part of God’s big story.  God has given you gifts and talents like no one else and He has a plan for your life.”  (And I may have added something about how we know the end of the story where God kicks Satan’s butt and evil loses, because without a battle they don’t seem too interested in what I have to say).

As a side note, I am reading the book “The Blessing” which is about the importance of giving our children a blessing using words (written or spoken) along with physical touch.  It’s a great book for parents.

You are a part of God’s great story.  It is so easy to get sidetracked in life, forgetting that what matters most is trusting in Christ and living for His glory instead of our own glory.   No matter what circumstance you are in right now know that our lives are about a greater purpose of God’s big story.  Even though His story is big and we are such a small part of that, He tells us in His Word that “He cares for You.”

I pray that we all can be all about doing Jesus’ will and asking Him to use our lives.  Because in the end when we are no longer here, when we are a name in a genealogy, living for God’s purpose is the only thing that will really matter.

July 31st, 2012 by Sarah

Feeling Overwhelmed?


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Do you ever have days where you feel completely inadequate to do what’s been asked of you?  Days when you want to throw in the towel.  Maybe it’s your job, parenting, marriage, finances, a relationship, health or other responsibilities.

I have more moments where I feel inadequate than I care to admit, but as much as I hate moments where I feel inadequate or overwhelmed, they have become somewhat of a blessing.

Sometimes you have to get down to nothing before you’ll believe that you need to rely on God.

You have to be at that point where you feel like shouting, “I’ve had it, I can’t handle this. God this is too much for me.”  If you are having one of those moments I encourage you to get on your knees for whatever it is you’re struggling with.

Sometimes we trust Jesus to save us for eternity but then act like He’s left us to deal with life on our own.  His grace is overflowing into every crevice of our lives if we rely on Him to live through us.

That is why we need bad days, moments of frustration and humility.  It shows God’s glory in our lives when we call out to Him and He answers.

A year ago, I was pregnant with Jasper and taking care of our three preschoolers.  I was sick, tired, hormonal, and many days feeling like a failure as a wife, mother and friend.  The sickness of the first trimester of pregnancy was causing me to want to crawl in a hole.

At the end of one of those particularly hard days, the day felt like a blur of putting out fires with the kids, to yelling out of frustration when they misbehaved.   Yet I felt too tired to problem solve or fix any of it.

As I rocked my one-year-old daughter before bedtime, I thought, “how am I going to mother four little children well?”  I knew we could do it, but well?  With sanity?

It was that moment of humility.

God I need You to show up because this battle isn’t happening without You.  In that moment I remembered the Old Testament stories I had been reading in the Bible and hope filled me up, leading my soul from downcast to peace filled.

I remembered that God has always been faithful to me.  He has never let me down, though I’ve had disappointments in life.  He has always been with me.  He always provides what I need.

I lifted my open hand up in the air as a sign of surrender while rocking my little girl in her pitch dark room, and whispered “Jesus, You are faithful, You are faithful, You are faithful,” over and over until I remembered that truth fully.

Something amazing happened in that moment.  All of my problems became so small, so trivial, as I remembered who my Father is.   I knew that He was big enough to provide all that I need.

A year later I can see answers to prayer and that, yet again, Jesus has been more than faithful as I trusted Him.

The story of Gideon from the Bible fed my soul that summer day, and has encouraged me since that even when I’m the underdog, when I’m discouraged, God has a greater purpose, which is to show His strength .

Gideon was the youngest son.  And if voted on for a position, he would probably be voted “the least likely to succeed.”

Yet God came to him and called him a “valiant warrior,” and told him to lead his people out of the oppression under the Midianites, who were ruining all of their crops and leaving them with no food.

Gideon could not believe that God would choose him.  It didn’t make sense, but God did anyway.

I love this because I feel like I am an unlikely candidate for many of the tasks I attempt to do.

But, when does God ever choose the most likely candidate in the Bible?

Not only did God choose an unlikely candidate to lead Israel, but He took their decent sized army and decided to make it almost nothing.  He wanted to show that it wasn’t their army winning the battle, it was God.

You can guess what happened.  God’s people won the battle that day, and they did not lose one life with their tiny army.  (Scroll down to the bottom if you don’t know the story.  It’s a good one).

God could have used the whole army and done the same thing, but that would have given the Israelites a reason to think it was their strength that won the battle.

God got Gideon’s army to almost nothing, to a point of embarrassment, and yet in the end He won.

We all have moments where we feel lost, overwhelmed, and in need.  When you find yourself in one, remind yourself that there is a gem of goodness in the midst of that battle.

If God did not bring me to a place where I know that, if He doesn’t show up this battle is lost, I unfortunately would probably take the credit for the win.

I don’t know that I would believe it is truly God who is answering my prayer, not just coincidental, if I were not brought so low.  I would also miss out on the opportunity to learn more about God and His mercy that He is willing to work in my life.

Do you have a task at hand that you feel inadequate to perform?  Maybe God has brought you, as well, to this battle so that you can trust him, and see His glory more fully.

 

Story of Gideon Continued …

[Gideon had thirty-two thousand people to fight, while their opponents were “as numerous as locusts.”  There were a whole lot of solders that they were up against, and yet God goes and tells Gideon to send all but three-hundred men back!  Three hundred men!  I am no military expert, but it is easy for anyone to see that this does not make sense. God says to them, “I will deliver you with the three hundred men.”

The Israelites have learned the hard way that when God says to do something, no matter how ridiculous, you do it.  So, God gives Gideon instructions to divide up the 300 men, and have them take torches in one hand and trumpets in another.  He had them make a lot of noise, yell, break pitchers, and blow trumpets.

Their enemies thought that the Israelite army was too large based on the ruckus, so they got scared and confused.  They turned on each other with their swords and self destructed.  The Israelites won the battle that day.  They did not lose one life.]

If you want to read the story of Gideon in its entirety, you can read it here or find it in your Bible in Judges 6:7- 7:23.

June 26th, 2012 by Sarah

My First Love


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Sorry that it’s been so long since I posted on here, and thank you for putting up with me learning about this blog thing.  I am technologically illiterate and all the while a bit of a perfectionist.   I know, I need to get over that if I am going to post what I write.

I mentioned in my last post that Jason and I were able to get away for our anniversary.  It was a beautiful and refreshing getaway.  Jason and I have not had a two night getaway without the kids since Micah was born seven years ago!

And… we still were not totally without kids this time.  Jasper came, while our other three were with Grandma and Grandpa.  Jasper is a peaceful baby though and one child is much more peaceful than four, so for us it was still a nice getaway.    We did not get one picture of Jason and I.  It’s always one of us and then Jasper ;).

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We went to a lodge on a tiny island in Wisconsin called Stout Island Lodge.  The lodge was built in the early 1900’s so it was full of character.  The lake surrounded the lodge, as well as beautiful gardens, lawns and trees.  We enjoyed peaceful dinners, and hikes around the island.

 

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Jason gave me the most thoughtful gift he’s ever given me.  My love languages are words of encouragement and quality time.  I also love tea.  He doesn’t.  So, he gave me the gift of one night a week after the kids go to bed having tea with me to specifically encourage me and give me that quality time with him that I love.  This is on top of our weekly date night, so he is a pretty super husband.  When basketball season comes around he may be wanting to rethink this gift :).

I was reading Revelations the other day.  In the second chapter Jesus writes to one of the churches and praises them for their morals, their hard work, and their ability to recognize false teaching.  But then He says this to them, “Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first.” Revelations 2:4.

In other words, similar to how marriages can often go through the motions, Jesus is saying, you do lots of good things, but have forgotten to love me like you did at first.  I can relate to that because sometimes I go through the motions.  I have set into place habits of reading my Bible, prayer and church, which are all good things, but sometimes I am doing it because I know it’s a good discipline, rather than really wanting to get to know God and have Him speak to me.  My mind can be elsewhere.  Can you relate?

What does this have to do with our getaway?   When Jason and I got home things were different.  We looked at each other longer, felt closer, gave each other more affection, and had more grace with each other.

I can honestly say that there are times where I still feel butterflies when Jason holds my hands, and it is usually a result of some acts of intentionality, forgiveness, encouragement, and time spent with each other.  I know it’s not realistic to have that in love “feeling” constantly in a marriage, but we also need to be intentional about doing things we did when we first loved each other, and our love grows even deeper.

I think it’s the same with God.  Do you remember when you first learned of Jesus’ love for you, that He died on the cross to pay for your sin?  Do remember when you believed that God heard your prayers, or when you opened up your Bible and read with anticipation that He would speak to you through it?

I am guilty of getting busy and not entering in with my relationship with God.  When I notice myself lacking in zeal, I usually repent of that and thank God that He’s waiting for me, willing to forgive.  Then I spend that time seeking Him through prayer and His Word.

I am so thankful for the unfailing, never giving up love that Jesus has for me, as well as the commitment that Jason and I have for each other.

Do you have any tips on how you keep up your love life with your spouse or God?

 

 

 

 

May 25th, 2012 by Sarah

If I Could Go Back: Lessons for Marriage


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I wrote this for the EBC Marriage and Family Therapy Blog but wanted to share it here as well.

Jason and I will be celebrating our ten-year wedding anniversary in two weeks.  I am thankful that our love has become richer and deeper through all of the ups and downs of life.  We have grown and learned in ways I never expected.

Ten years ago I was an almost 22 year-old who had just graduated from college.  I looked forward to our marriage with excitement, a little reality, and a lot of expectations.

We did the premarital counseling and filled out the worksheet where we each stated our expectations, but lets get real, you don’t really know what you expect until you get there.

In my head we were going to clean the toilet together, grocery shop together, and pretty much everything else in between… together.  Jason, as you can imagine had some different expectations.

If I could go back and teach my 21-year-old self a lesson (and I know I still have many more to learn), this would be a biggie.  If I had learned this lesson earlier it could have kept us from many unnecessary conflicts and hurt feelings.

I am an advocate of books that teach us to fill each other’s love tanks because God has called us to love each other deeply.  BUT when rely too highly on our spouse to fulfill our needs and not enough on God we make our spouse an idol.

An idol is anything we put before God.  In Deuteronomy 5:7, one of the ten commandments, God says, “You must not have any other god but me.”  Marriage is a blessing created by God, and is a good thing. But idols can be just that, “Good things that we’ve put before God.”  Has your spouse become an idol in an unhealthy way?

If you find yourself upset often with your spouse or constantly disappointed maybe you are not seeking Christ first to meet your needs for love and acceptance.  Applying these four things will hopefully improve your marriage and lead it in the direction that God intended it to be.

First, confess to God that you have looked to your spouse to meet unrealistic needs and turned him/her into an idol.  You will fail your spouse and your spouse will fail you.  Use those moments as a reminder to run to the One who is perfect and will never fail us.

Seek God through His Word and prayer, and ask Him to fill you with His love and presence.  Say to God, “I want you to be in your rightful place, number one in my heart.” God is the only one who can meet our deepest needs.

Matthew 6:33 says, “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.” What a great application to marriage.   This verse pertains to our emotional needs as well as our physical needs.  God will give us everything we need when we seek Him first.

Second pray for your spouse.  Bring your need to God, asking Him to show your spouse how they can love you in that specific way  you are desiring.  I have never had someone tell me that they changed their behavior because their spouse nagged them for long enough.  God can change hearts, and we cannot.

Third, use actions and kind words.  This is challenging because for most of us our first reaction when we don’t get what we want is to whine.  I know mine is. Instead, ask your spouse in a kind tone for what you’re wanting.

For example, if you want quality time, explain that it’s important to you and ask in a loving tone instead of a complaining tone.  Or if it’s more affection you’re desiring, explain why it’s important to you in a non-threatening tone, and then help them get in the habit by modeling it yourself.

Take action to love and respect your spouse.  Be the first to show kindness.  Be the first to forgive, out serve, and encourage.  1 John 4:19 says “We love each other because he (Christ) loved us FIRST.”

Fourth, reevaluate your expectations.  As Gary Thomas says in his book Sacred Marriage, “Marriage is not given to us to make us happy but to make us holy.”  That’s a profound statement.  It means that your spouse isn’t going to meet your every need.  It means that you may have moments where there’s conflict and unhappiness, but it also means that God has a greater purpose.

Marriage is a training ground for holiness.  It’s an opportunity for us to grow in selflessness, serventhood, and sacrificial love.  It’s an opportunity for us to hold our tongue instead of lashing out in anger.  It’s an opportunity to forgive instead of hold a grudge.

Holiness is a completely different expectation than happiness.   And here’s the good news.  I’ve found that my marriage is more joyful than ever when I’m not creating an expectation that my spouse is going to meet my every need.

I find more joy when I am trying to serve Jason rather than thinking about myself and what I am not receiving.  I need to grow by God’s grace in this area.  So next decade of marriage here I come.

May 1st, 2012 by Sarah

From Weary to Strengthened


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Last fall, while I was pregnant with Jasper, our fourth baby, I was having one of those long difficult days where everything seemed to go wrong, and I was exhausted from the pregnancy.

I made it to the afternoon and as I rocked my daughter by her crib before nap time I realized it was the first quiet moment I had had all day.  It was like I forgot that I could call on God and had been scurrying around aimlessly all day.

I whispered a quick prayer for Isabelle in her ear and then one for myself as well.  I prayed, “Lord, I am so weary, please give me your strength.”

I laid Isabelle down in her crib and ran downstairs to round up my two boys.  It was not a minute after I whispered my plea to God that I stepped outside, and up in the sky an eagle came soaring over our heads.

“An eagle!”  Micah and I both yelled.  We ran through the grass watching it until it perched on a branch in front of us.  I had never seen an eagle in the wild before and it was beautiful.  Right when I saw it my prayer came to the forefront of my mind and I remembered a verse about eagles.

It says, “Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall;  but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”  Isaiah 40:30-31.

I have carried that verse with me throughout these last months, but still I forget often.

We are in the midst of a trial at the moment.  Only five days in and I am weary.  I have taken my stress out on my husband at certain times, and I have worried when I should have prayed.  I was reminded of that last night of how faithful God is, and that He will bring good out of this.

God wants us to trust Him, and how quickly we forget in our current trial that He was faithful in our last.  I went to bed last night reminding myself of God’s faithfulness and He showed Himself so evident today.  It wasn’t free of hardship, but wow was He evident.

In fact, this morning I opened up a letter from one of the children we sponsor through Compassion International and the verse our child wrote at the end of the letter was Isaiah 40:30-31.  I needed that reminder.  Hope in the Lord Sarah and your strength will be renewed.

Then I read this quote by  J.I. Packer.  “The weaker we feel, the harder we lean. The harder we lean, the stronger we grow spiritually, even while our bodies waste away.”

It is not bad to feel weak, and it is inevitable to go through trials.  God doesn’t tell us the outcome of our situation because when He doesn’t we wait on Him.  We long to hear His voice.

God knows what He’s doing and we can trust Him in the midst of hardship, asking Him for help and strength.  I am constantly growing in this, but I want to lean hard on Him.  I want to hope in God’s promises and in so doing experience the strength that only He can give.

“So after you have suffered a little while, he will restore, support, and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation. 11 All power to him forever! Amen.”  1 Peter 5:10

 

April 21st, 2012 by Sarah

Don’t Forget Your Shoes-Part 2


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cheap Toms shoes 2012

 

If you have not read the first part of this blog post you can read part 1 here.

I have read and reread Ephesians 6:10-20 on the “armor of God.”  I have taught it to my older children as well, but it struck me as I studied each piece of armor that though I would say the passage out loud, I did not apply the passage as best as I could.

Paul, the author of Ephesians, had a reason for each piece of armor that we need to put on so that we “will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil.”

I hope you are inspired, as I have been, to put these things on everyday.  I talk about two of the six pieces of armor in Part 1, and here is what I have been applying from my study of the other four.

The shield of faith.  Shields, at the time Paul wrote this passage, were large and used by Roman legions.  They were held above their heads to protect their whole body from flaming swords.  Paul used this figuratively because Satan will fire arrows of doubt, fear, lies, and hardships at people, and we need to have a way to defend ourselves.

Paul says to take up the shield of faith in “all circumstances.”  Taking up the shield of faith means trusting that God loves us and wants the best for us no matter what circumstance we’re in.  There are some circumstances that really make you wonder “why?” And, in those times we have to trust in His promises, and obey Him, knowing that He is good and has good in store for us.

How do we increase our faith?  I often simply ask God to increase my faith, as it is spoken in Scripture as a gift from God.  Romans 10:17 also says that “faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.”  Listening to and reading/studying our Bible is another way we can increase our faith.

I want to have a faith in Christ that will withstand the hardest of trials and even death itself.  We have no idea what kind of hardships the future holds, but with a strong faith in Christ we will be able to extinguish the flaming darts of the evil one.

The breastplate of righteousness protects our hearts right?  Proverbs 4:23 says “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”  I often hear people say that they will follow God when they’re older and done “having fun.”  That is satan’s deceitfulness right there.  Sin is not fun.  It turns on you.  It is pleasurable for a moment, but there are devastating consequences that hurt our hearts when we don’t obey God.  He wants the best for us, and is not a kill joy.  He wants to give us the best joy!

I have experienced trying to do things my own way, only to end up with a wounded heart.  What can we do to guard your hearts?  We can choose to obey God’s Word, even when it goes against what “feels right.”   We can share our sin and temptation with other Christians and ask for accountability.  We can remove tempting situations or bad relationships.

No sense in buying a bag of Oreos, that stare you in the face every time you look for a snack, when you’re trying to eat healthy.  This same concept goes for guarding our hearts.  I know that when I am struggling with coveting or discontentment the best place for me to hang out is not at the Parade of Homes or the mall.

We can only be “righteous”  through the strength of Christ. 1 Corinthians 1:30 says “Christ made us right with God; he made us pure and holy, and he freed us from sin.”  We can never be right with God on our own.  One single sin separates us from Him, but when we trust Jesus for what He did on the cross we can be made righteous because He traded us; our sin for His righteousness.

The belt of truth is what holds everything together.   Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth and the life.”  In contrast, John 8:44 speaks of Satan as the father of lies.  When Satan lies he is speaking in his native tongue.  One of the ways Satan ruins people’s’ lives is through getting us to believe lies about ourselves, God, and others.  When we speak the truth we are arming ourselves against satan.  I think we can “put on” truth in a few different ways.

One would be to be honest with others.  It is easy, when we are afraid of what others think of us, to not share the whole truth about our struggles or sin.  Adam and Eve, when they sinned, innately tried to cover it up.  It is scary to share our sin with others, especially if it will hurt someone, but in the end John 8:32 says “the truth will set you free.”

The second way to put on truth is learning and telling ourselves the truth about God and who we are in Him.  I hear people say things like, “there is no truth, what’s right for you is right for you and visa versa.”  That statement in and of itself is a contradiction.  How can there be “no truth” when that is a truth claim in and of itself.

You cannot say two contradictory ideas are true while being intellectually honest.  It’s just not possible.  We do need to be humble in our pursuit of Truth, not thinking that we are better than anyone else.  I believe that Jesus is God and raised from the dead for intellectual and experiential reasons, and making that truth claim doesn’t mean that I believe I am better than someone who does not believe it.  I do however want everyone to find the joy that I have found by putting my trust in Christ.  I love the quote, “Christians are just beggars telling other beggars where to find food.”

And last, as shoes for your feet put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace.  I never realized that Paul, being the Old Testament scholar that he was, probably got this illustration from Isaiah 52:7.  It says “how beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace.”

Sometimes I get preoccupied with prayers for myself, and my own friends and family.  It is so important to be praying for ourselves, but I have been praying more lately that we, the body of Christ ,will proclaim boldly the good news of Jesus.  I have been praying for churches to be started all over the world and for God to send out workers to share the gospel.

We have peace with God through Christ.  All of us have turned away from God leaving our relationship broken.  We started it.  It’s our fault, not His, and yet rather than getting back at us, He gave His only Son to take on our sin and give us His goodness so that we could have peace with God and with each other through forgiveness.

We can put on this piece of armor by preaching the gospel to ourselves every day, remembering when we sin or fail that we can come to God and turn away from our sin at any moment, and He will forgive us… we have a friend, a perfect Father in Him.  Lets live joyfully knowing that we have the peace of Christ, but lets not keep it to ourselves.  As my Grandpa says when I leave his house.  “Sarah, don’t keep the faith.. share it.”

“How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news.”  Don’t forget your shoes.

 

April 12th, 2012 by Sarah

Don’t Forget Your Shoes- Part 1


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Last week I called my mom on the way to Bible study and told her how thankful I was to be going.  Every week I feel so blessed and encouraged by it, and that day I felt like I really needed the time to be refreshed with other women by God’s Word.

We parked our car, arriving a little late after a hurried morning, and out of the mini-van steps a shoeless boy.

“Hudson, did you forget your socks and shoes?” I ask.

He looked down and said, “oops.”  We live 25 minutes away from Bible Study Fellowship so I wasn’t about to go home.  I felt a like I was going to cry because it’s a minor miracle for me to get out of the house with three little kids and an eight-week-old by 9:00, and here we are in the parking lot with a missing pair of shoes.

I said a quick prayer, and then I saw a friend pull in and I began to tell her about my circumstance.

By the time I turned around, still deciding what to do, Hudson said “look at my shoes Mommy.”  Both of my boys were gleaming with proud smiles on their faces.  Micah had taken two covers off of his booster car seat and put them on Hudson’s feet.  His shoes looked like little slippers, and they fit perfectly on his feet.

I laughed and said, “great creativity!  Lets go with it.”

When I told Hudson’s wonderful teacher our story, she looked at Hudson and said, “well Hudson, we’re learning today about how God provides for our needs and look how He provided for you today.”  I love it!

Here’s a picture of Hudson’s shoes for the day.

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I left Bible study not only feeling encouraged and blown away at how great out God is, but also more motivated to pray than I’ve been in a long time.

We were studying Ephesians 6:10-20, a passage I’ve read many times before.  This time studying it gave me a whole new vision on how to apply it.

When you find yourself discouraged, doubting, afraid or struggling in a relationship what do you do?

Here is a synopsis of what I learned and how I am attempting to use this passage of Scripture and apply it to my life.

We are in a battle whether we are actively engaged or not.  Ephesians 6:11 says to “put on the whole armor of God.”

It may sound weird that we are talking about a cosmic world going on around us that we can’t see, but when you look around at some of the evils in the world it is not so difficult to imagine.  I watched a video the other day about the number of little girls and boys who are kidnapped and forced to be prostitutes at a very young age.  It makes me sick to my stomach to think about.

More close to home we see marriages and families being destroyed every day by anger, selfishness, and sin.  Every one of us is tempted to sin on a regular basis, and there is no doubt a spiritual battle going on around us.

Ephesians 6:12 says  “For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.

Are you struggling in a relationship?  Paul says that we aren’t fighting against flesh and blood… remind yourself of that when you are in a fight with your spouse.  It is easier to stop and pray in the midst of conflict when we keep that in mind.

Satan is real and the Bible says that he is at work in our world attempting to “devour,” “steal, kill and destroy.”  No one is immune so it is important that we apply God’s Word by putting on the full armor of God.

Paul gives us six ways we need to be prepared for battle using the analogy of literal armor.  Here are two of them, and I will write briefly on the other four in Part 2.

The Sword of the Spirit: This is the Word of God and prayer.  Isn’t it interesting that this is the only weapon mentioned that we can fight with, rather than just defend ourselves.  The sword of the Spirit is the Word of God and then Paul mentions prayer.  Paul says, “Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere,” verse 6:18.

We are to be in communication with God all throughout the day.  We may forget momentarily but like the loved one you text or call, you stay in contact throughout the day.

I am  trying to “take up the sword of the Spirit” by stopping to pray when I notice any doubt, fears, discouragement, lack of joy or disharmony in relationships.  I pray for myself, for others, for faith, and that God will help me to obey Him when I’m tempted.  I recite or read a Scripture that has to do with what I’m going through.

I have been more motivated to pray for others and looking for ways I can be praying.  It is easy for us to be deceived into thinking that our prayers don’t make a difference.  When we hear about children being kidnapped as sex slaves we can pray knowing that we may never see the result of our prayers until we get to heaven.  When we see an ambulance, pray, our child struggling in an area, pray.

Prayer and the Word of God are our only offensive weapon.  Use them, they are powerful and effective.

Here are some ideas of ways we can get Scripture into our souls… write Scriptures and tape them on places you look so you can read and memorize.  Get the Bible for free on your phone, computer or Ipad here. There are different Bible reading plans there, and you can even listen to the Bible, all free!

Have a time and a place to read your Bible and if you get out of the habit don’t give it up, get back in.  Another great way is to join a Bible study at your church.  I also recommend Bible study fellowship.  The groups are nondenominational and are offered all over the country.

Another piece of armor…

The Helmet of salvation covers our head, and I am guessing Paul used this metaphor because we need protection for our mind.

Many of us trust in Christ for salvation and then we walk around frowning in defeat as if we are not saved.  I know I am guilty of doing this.  We act as if we aren’t good enough, or maybe we depend on ourselves instead of Jesus.

In difficult circumstances, Satan wants us to be discouraged.  To think this is it, we will never be delivered.  But when we look around at this world that is so easily shaken and uncertain, we can put on our helmets and look to Jesus knowing with certainty that He has and will save us.

On our own we are easily defeated, but with Christ we cannot be defeated.

In Part 2 I will share practical ways that we can “put on” the other four pieces of armor from this passage.

 

 

 

March 23rd, 2012 by Sarah

Going Unnoticed


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I spend a lot of time doing tedious tasks. Making and cleaning up from meals, picking up toys, changing diapers, and filing away our bills.  It doesn’t feel very important.  If I am honest,  I can get a bad attitude when my work goes unnoticed for long periods of time.

I have always loved this verse.  On days when I worked outside the home and wanted to please my boss or on days as a mom when I feel unnoticed, this verse is a great reminder.

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart as if working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward.” Colossians 3:23

In mundane moments I try to remind myself that even if my husband doesn’t notice that I just put away his laundry for him, or that I picked up his bowl, God does.  I am reminded that God asks me to do a good job because it’s good and pleases Him, not merely for the praise and recognition of others.

My children may not thank me for changing their diaper or coming into their room at night for the fifth time when what I really want is a break… but God sees when I work with all my heart.  This attitude has given me a joy in doing tasks that I don’t particularly love doing.

People may notice our hard work when we are working hard to please God, but that isn’t even the best reward.  The Bible says we will receive an inheritance.  An inheritance from the Creator of the world and owner of all things… that sounds amazing to me.

This poem for wives and moms by Roy Lessin really encouraged me.

CONTINUE ON

A woman once fretted over the usefulness of her life.

She feared she was wasting her potential being a devoted wife and mother.

She wondered if the time and energy she invested in her husband and children would make a difference. At times she got discouraged because so much of what she did seemed to go unnoticed and unappreciated. “Is it worth it” She often wondered.

“Is there something better that I could be doing with my time?”

It was during one of these moments of questioning that she heard the still small voice of her heavenly Father speak to her heart.

“You are a wife and mother because that is what I have called you to be.”

Much of what you do is hidden from the public eye. ” But I notice.”

Most of what you give is done without remuneration. “But I am your reward.”

Your husband cannot be the man I have called him to be without your support. Your influence upon him is greater than you think and more powerful than you will ever know. I bless him through your service and honor him through your love.

Your children are precious to me.. Even more precious than they are to you. I have entrusted them to your care to raise for me. What you invest in them is an offering to me.

You may never be in the public spotlight, But your obedience shines as a bright light before me. Continue on. Remember you are MY Servant.

Do all to please me.

By: Roy Lessin