Bring on the Rain

God gives rain in their season to yield crops and produce fruit.Leviticus 26_4We’ve had lots of rain in Georgia this winter and spring. I’ve missed sunshine, but I know we need the rain to recover from last year’s drought. Our fruit trees and berry bushes will produce plenty in its season because God has watered them. Yes!!!!

I love sunny days and mild weather. Designed by God to be orderly and structured, I like things to be calm and predictable.

Aren’t we all like this to some extent? We like safe conditions so we can live the status quo. We get a little of God in us, do our thing, and live in our safe, comfortable, do what we want kind of life.

We don’t like storms. Rainy weather aggravate and disrupt our plans. Constant clouds and rain makes us moody and depressed. So, we complain and gripe. Yet without rain, vegetation can’t grow, food would be scarce, and we wouldn’t have water to use.

Through the rainy days I’ve come to understand how God allows conflicts, challenges, and even crisis in our lives to grow us up. They are the rain which will produce the fruit of God’s character in us. These fruits are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. With each trial, I can tell God is growing these fruits in me. I have more of these fruits in me than I did ten, five, or even a year ago. But, I still need to continue producing them each day God allows me to live.

We humans despise hard times because it disturbs our way of doing life and makes us uncomfortable. It forces us to deal with our issues, the ugly and less than desirable things we try to hide from others. Except we can’t hide it from God. He wants us to face our failures, shortcomings, unhealthy habits, and stubborn ways so we can be free to enjoy life, to love him, and to pour into others.

Can I just be honest? I’m coming out of my rainy season now. The rain has been brutal. But God has been my safe place. He is producing in me better, deeper, and authentic fruits. Granted, I hated the rain water he sent. At the same time, I’m thankful for the rain which has healed deeply hidden wounds, cleanse me from the me-first way of living, and brought me to a deeper connection with my husband and my God.

When you’re in the rainy season, soak up God’s healing waters. Let it nourish your soul and heal your wounds. Don’t reject God and hate his maturing work in you. He is producing healthy and good fruits in you. Fruits which will last your whole lifetime and remain forever. Fruits that will benefit you and others for good. Fruits which will bring those who are hurting, confused, shamed, and guilty to him so he can redeem them into his new and beautiful beloved children.

May we be bold enough to tell God, Bring on the Rain, in its season. Because rain will produce in us the good fruits of his character. Fruits which will help us become whole, live well, and love purely.

Posted in Christian Living, Daily Life, faith, Freedom, Growth & Maturity, storms, Suffering, Wellness | Leave a comment

Sailing with Jesus

IMGP3040If you’ve ever been out in the middle of the ocean with nothing in sight, you’d understand the might of its currents and the hopelessness of your human frailties. And you’d also see the power of its creator, God. You’d see how the winds and waves obey its master creator. Then you’d never forget the awe of witnessing the power of this strong God.

Indeed, I’ve been there. I’ve witnessed it. It’s why my faith can stand firm through the turbulence of life. I know I’m never alone in open water when I cry out to God. Despite how I feel and what my human eyes can see, God never forsakes those who call out to him. Never.

It’s why I’ve made Jesus my master. He guides me through the waters of life. He gives me the strength to endure when crises comes crashing at me. He gives me his power to overturn the tides of affliction. His wisdom helps me with the twists and turns as I sail through the currents of life.

Hebrews 11:1 says, faith is being sure of the things we hope for, even though we can’t see what is coming. Faith keeps us confident because we trust in the might an unfailing love of God. We aren’t tossed back and forth by the waves of affliction. Winds of uncertainty won’t blow us from here to there because we fix our gaze on him. He is unchanging and faithful. He keeps us afloat in raging waters.

Yes, we are fragile vessels in the vast ocean of uncertainty and changes. Yet, we are made sturdy by Captain Jesus. With him, we can sail through the waters of life. For He knows every twist and turn. He sees the impending storms on our path. He steers us onto the right course. Jesus calms us when storms roar within and around. He brings us to safe harbors, never in the way we expect, for that would make him predictable and within our control. But, he has promised to carry us through our stormy gales, whatever they may be. Seas of suffering will not drown us. Instead, we will rise above the currents of challenges, stronger and more faithful to Him as we experience his power at work in the middle of our chaos. He is a God of order, who is able and willing to settle our conflicts, and give indescribable peace to our anxious hearts.

The God who made heaven and earth, sea and sky, and everything in it, will rebuke the winds and waves threatening us. They will bow at his command. In His mighty, protective arms, nothing can overtake those who claim Him as their leader, master, and saver.

So, sail on with Jesus as your skipper :). He walked on water for goodness sake! Is there anything too hard or impossible for him to do for you? You bet he will do it! He will work on your behalf because he loves you fiercely! And, he will do it for the sake of his reputation.

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God Writes Your Story

20180416_073906The author of life is still writing your story. Don’t give up just because the script is different than you anticipated.

I love good endings to every book. When good overcomes evil and all as it should be, my heart is delighted.

God, our creator, is the author of every life. Sometimes it’s hard to believe how hurts, brokenness, deceit, shame, and failures can be a part of our story. So we want to hide, run, and escape from the reality of our story.

If we know the author of life, we don’t have to hide in shame and guilt. We don’t have to turn to sex, drugs, food, money, drinking, shopping, or whatever our pleasure is, to escape from the pain.

We run to God, the author of life. Because he who began a good work in us will bring it to completion. His stories always has good endings. Evil will be defeated. He will redeem the broken pieces of our life. He will use the bad for good. And our story will end beautifully well.

Be encouraged. Jesus is not finished writing your story. Press on toward your calling. Don’t give up hoping and trusting in God. He is the author of your life. He writes amazing stories!!!

Posted in Christian Living, storms, Suffering | Leave a comment

Living With Real Power

cropped-img_20170619_1339444511.jpgI’ve been with Jesus for nearly 24 years. Each year with him gets deeper and better, but also harder.

When I first asked Jesus to be a part of my life, I thought I was in the clear. No more problems. No more failures. No more mess. No more hurt. I’m done with bad things coming at me because I put my faith in Him. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. And wrong!

In my spiritual immaturity, I believed that having faith in God meant life would be smooth and I would no longer face hard times. I couldn’t be more wrong. The faith life is actually harder in some aspects than living without faith. Here’s what I mean.

My life without faith was carefree. I didn’t know God’s standards for right living so I did what I thought was right and felt good. I mimicked the actions of the masses because well, why not? If everyone is doing it, it must be the thing to do. Ignorance is bliss right? Not quite. When I lived this way, I didn’t know I was sinning against God. Life worked for a while, until my heart hurt because I was living contrary to God’s intended purpose. My soul ached too, for it was made by God to know the treachery of immoral living. Though it was easier to live according to myself, the consequences of such living was chaotic and nearly destroyed me.

In contrast, my 23 plus years with Jesus has been more meaningful and tremendously better than when I had lived apart from him. But, it has not been without challenges. Actually, the closer I get to God and the deeper I go with him, the stronger my faith becomes but I have to fight harder to believe in him.

The longer I know Jesus, the more I experience his deep and extravagant love for me, even when I continue to fall short of what he says is right and best for me. I have fallen more deeply in love with him because I’ve experience his unconditional love for me. And because I love him, I want to do what he says. Even though God loves me and I obey him, I find that unwanted things can still happen because I live in an imperfect world. So, while my strong faith in God leads me to obey him, it also causes me to question God’s goodness when things go wrong in my world. The human side of me continues to wrestle with God.

Still, God lends me his strength to hang onto my faith. I surely don’t understand everything God does or doesn’t do. But my faith in Jesus gives me the power to do impossible things and to overcome unbelief. By his supernatural power, God raised Jesus from death to life. God says we have access to this resurrection power and more when we believe he brought Jesus back to life. This is the story of Easter. It is the hope of God’s resurrection story. Because Jesus lives, we have God’s power to overcome all of life’s challenges.

But what does the resurrection of Jesus has to do with faith? Everything! For without the power of God bringing Jesus back to life, those who believe in Jesus has no real power for living a life of faith. We would have no power to live any different than those who live without faith in God.

I have lived with and without faith in Jesus. The difference in my life before and after faith in Jesus is Power. The resurrection power. Because Jesus lives, I have power.

Faith in Jesus gives me the power to continually mature into God’s intended design. Jesus gives me the power to be kind, generous, forgiving, and to treat others how I want to be treated. Without the resurrection power of Jesus in me, I cannot do these acts on my own because the human part of me wants to do what is contrary. Faith in Jesus gives me the power to turn from a self-gratifying being into a person who wants to serve God by putting others before myself. This is what the resurrection power of Easter does for anyone who chooses to put their faith in Jesus.

Life is hard, even if you are a follower of Jesus Christ. But, having the resurrection power of Jesus in us makes the hard doable and the impossible possible. Jesus said in the gospel of John chapter 16, in this life we will have trouble. But, we can overcome anything by his resurrection power. And we have full access to this power when we believe God raised Jesus from the dead and confess with our mouths that He is our Lord and life saver (from the book of Romans, chapter 10).

Tell me. Who doesn’t need this resurrection power of Jesus in their life? It’s real. It’s legit. It comes only from God and is available to all who want it. You can’t truly live a satisfied, meaningful, and impactful life without it.

Haven’t you waited long enough? Choose faith in Jesus today. He’s the hope and help you’ve been searching for and still waiting on. I promise you won’t regret choosing Jesus.

Because Jesus lives, we have power. The power to live with confidence, peace, contentment, and hope. All we have to do is believe in Him.

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All We Have is the Present

20180307_171336Ten years flew by just like that. People told me it would happen. I just didn’t believe them.

March 8, 2008 was the beginning and the end for me. It was my entrance into motherhood and exit out of the “paid” working world. What an unpredictable ride it has been in the past decade!

Isaiah turns ten today, and he is taking it harder than I am! He was sitting in my writing nook yesterday, deep in thought. “What’s on your mind hon?” I asked. He answered, “Oh, I’m just thinking about all I want to do on my last day being 9. I won’t be in the single digits anymore after tomorrow night.”

The boy knows how to make his momma tear up :(. So, I gave him an extra school day off to enjoy his last day being 9. What can I say? I’ve mellowed a bit since his kindergarten days :).

Isaiah’s thinking stirred my thinking too. His single digit years blurred through my mind. I thought of how I could have done things differently.

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If there is one thing I regret most as a mom, it’s being too hard on my boys. Especially on my firstborn. My controlling tendencies combined with a bent towards structure and organization has its side-affects. Unfortunately, Isaiah has been on the receiving end of my madness. I’ve come to expect more from him than his age can handle. I should have relaxed more and be present in the moment, to enjoy each phase of his life instead of rushing his maturity. How I wish I could rewind and re-do the last 9 years! I’d definitely push less and love way more. But, all I have is the present.

And in the present is where I’ll begin. Thankfully, God has opened my eyes to see the errors of my youth. It’s what happens when He is a part of your life. You talk to him and he helps you out. He gently corrects you and shows you how to align your failed practices with his right way of doing everything. His grace helps you let go of stubborn, harmful habits and gives you the encouragement to do things significantly better. God continues to show me the essential thing is to love my family by being present in the present. He’s helping me to focus on loving, instead of hyper-focusing on trivial things like order and control.

So with each passing age, I’m learning a simple truth: All I have is the present. I’ve failed many times as a mom, but I can’t live in the past. I can learn from my failures without replaying mistakes to beat myself up over and over. And I can’t worry about how I will mess up the boys with my blaring issues still beckoning work. The future in not in my control. But, I can influence the present in a positive and healthy way as I allow God to work in me to change unfruitful habits.

Isaiah and Caleb

All I have is the present. I can be present to guide, to teach, to nurture, to love. I can be present for and with my sons. Because the present is really all I have. For the past is gone and the future is not guaranteed.

All we have is the present. Literally. Moment by moment. Even in the mundane.

How fitting of God to bring the following verse to my mind as we celebrate our ten year old today ❤. From the book of Isaiah chapter 43 in the Bible, God tells us to forget the former things and not to dwell in the past. He says, “See, I am doing a new thing!” Friends, God is doing a new thing for us in the present! If we beat ourselves up over past mistakes and are consumed about what will happen next, we can’t be present in the now. And if we can’t be present, we can’t enjoy our present life as we should. We will miss out on precious…present….moments which can never…..be brought back.

Therefore, I encourage you to live as if all you have is the present. Because the present IS truly all you have!

 

 

 

 

Posted in Christian Living, Daily Life, Family, Love, Motherhood, Parenting | 2 Comments

Can’t Keep Up With the Joneses

20180227_204303This picture is the best depiction of my confused and scattered state from keeping up with the Joneses. I never thought I’d be keeping up. It wasn’t a materialist kind of keeping up, but still superficial and just a tad hypocritical for a woman who calls herself a follower of Jesus Christ. Yuck :(.

It began with a desire to improve as a writer and progressed to me building a platform for such writing. If you want to make a name for yourself in the world of writers, it’s what you do. You build. And you do what it takes to get your name out there among the myriad of writers. You work to get followers and subscribers because they are the ones who will supposedly get you where you want to be. Known. Successful. Published.

There’s a story in the Bible which parallels mine. The book of Genesis, chapter 11 tells about a people who were building the tower of Babel high into the sky to make a name for themselves. They used their own methods and materials thinking it would make them famous. Because of their pride, God confused them by giving a different language to each one. Consequently, they became confused and scattered. Not able to understand one another, they stopped building.

This was where I found myself, in trying to keep up with the Joneses. I became confused about the purpose of my writing. My thoughts and ideas were scattered because I stopped listening to God and began mimmicking people.

It started when I joined a faith-based writing community in 2016 to sharpen my craft. I wanted to be more effective at communicating the lessons I had learned from God to encourage others. The resources were helpful and my writing did improve. But, I felt constant pressure to apply what I was learning in order to keep up with other writers. I feared missing out on opportunities to make it as a writer if I wasn’t putting every learned skill to use.

I succumbed to “social” pressure and began building a name for myself. I became more interested in attaining followers than in following God. Like a robot I stopped using my brain, and began copying the patterns of people, working exhaustively to keep up with the Joneses of the writing world. As a result, I got confused and scattered about what and why I was building.

Pressure. Pressure. Pressure. The pressure to succeed as a writer was my driving force. I was overwhelmed with information overload. In the past, I just wanted to write for God. I was passionate about sharing words of encouragement and hope. In keeping up with the Joneses, I forgot my purpose for writing.

I exhausted efforts trying to write as often as I could. I convinced myself I was doing it for God. In reality, I was doing it for myself. And the worst part is, I neglected my family in the process. I’ve missed out on quality and quantity time with my guys. Time I will never, ever get back.

God had been nudging me to stop. Unfortunately, I ignored him and forged ahead with my own plans. And He let me be for a while. But not without consequence.

I got more and more pressed for time every day. I couldn’t focus on any task at hand. I’d be thinking about the next thing I wanted to do while half-heartedly doing what was required of me in the present moment. I felt trapped into doing the same thing I had always done because I had invested so much time into building my writing. At the time, my passion to write felt more like a curse than a gift.  But, shifting gears and changing methods meant wasted time and effort. And even worse, it felt like I was giving up.

About mid-December 2017, I finally stopped to consider where I was headed. Do I want to continue on the road of distress and discontent? Or, do I want to stop building myself and let God build me.

So, I gave myself permission to give up. But I didn’t give up on writing or on building my skills. I just gave up my plans, my ideas, and my ways in exchanged for God’s plans, his wisdom and his ways. Oh, and I gave up the subtle ways I had been working to keep up with the Joneses too.

You see, the fear of missing out on making it as a writer had me hyper-focusing on what other writers were doing. I pressured myself to constantly produce in order to keep up. When I wasn’t writing, I was thinking about what I should be writing. It was an exhausting way to live and I’m glad God put some sense into me to stop before I fell apart completely. Since then, I’m learning that there are times when giving up is better than continuing in the same wrong direction and creating even more waste.

Once I let God lead, I haven’t felt the need or have the desire to keep up with other writers. He has taken away my fear of missing out and given me his peace. My love of writing and my passion to encourage the hurting has returned. I trust God will use the words he inspires me to write however, whenever, wherever, and in whatever capacity he chooses. Even if I never get hundreds or thousands of followers and likes, I’ll still write. Because God has put words in me to encourage, and doing so gives me the satisfaction of a life lived with purpose.

No more burning the candle at both ends trying to write when my body needs rest. I’ve eliminated distractions by intentionally becoming a social media misfit. This removes the temptation for me to compare and keep up with what others are doing. I’ve been able to give full attention to my boys during school time and I’m not distracted from my family during mealtime because I’m choosing not to keep up with other writers. I get outside more, to play and enjoy God’s world, instead of burying behind my computer every spare moment. The trade-offs are a no-brainer. For what does it matter if I gain followers and fame, but lose joy and satisfaction in the process, because I’ve neglected my God and the family he has given me to love and enjoy?

Dear ones, there is no need to keep up with the Joneses in any area of your life. Romans 11:29 says, God’s gifts and calling for you are irrevocable. No one and nothing can take away what He has made you to do. Ecclesiastes 3:11 is our reminder that in His time, God will make us and our work beautiful as we continue to follow his lead. He promises to be our light and shield; showing favor and honor to us as we do life his way (Psalm 84:11). And this my friends, is why we do not need to keep up with the Joneses!

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Rethinking Lent: Giving of Myself

20180219_151915I began fasting for Lent a few years ago and have always given up something in order to remember how Jesus gave his life for me.

I planned to give up sweets this year as in recent years. But as I pondered my decision, I asked myself whether I am fasting for me or for God? I have never asked this question, so it took some soul searching to get an honest answer.

The truth of it is, I have always given up something outside instead of within myself. Fasting from things like TV, social media, food, and technology has helped me kick some unhealthy and unwanted habits. However, it has become self-serving because I tend to focus on me rather than on God. I’m merely giving up something outside of myself and not giving of myself for God.

With this decision, I’m learning that giving of myself takes fasting to a whole new level and demands more from me than I can give on my own. It requires a leaning on Jesus for strength. The focus has shifted from me to the God I want to remember during Lent. I’m fasting from the self-focused, me-first way of thinking that orders my day.

There are many things I can give up for Lent, but this year I’m giving of myself to God instead of giving up something. And I’m doing it by giving of myself to my family, the priority God has assigned me for such a time as now. I’m giving of myself to:

  • Be present in the day-to-day moments and fully focused on how I can serve rather than be served.
  • Speak kind and gentle words consistently, even when I’d rather not.
  • Put others first (specifically the ones under my roof) by letting go of the desire to be in control of the trivial details in my day.
  • Yield to my husband’s leadership (this is no easy task for my strong-willed personality!) and build him up daily with words of affirmation.

Rethinking Lent means giving of myself to God instead of giving up something. Throughout Lent and beyond, I pray God will form new habits in me which will stick permanently going forward. I want the habit of being like my Savior and master, Jesus Christ, who gave of himself for me and for all of humanity. I’m giving of myself to remember his sacrifice. I’m giving of myself to honor him and thank him. I’m giving of myself because I love him and because he is worthy of all I can give him.

Most importantly, I’m giving of myself with the hope that the change in me will be contagious. I want my expressions of God’s love and kindness to spread and infect the world around me so many lives will be changed for the better.

How about you? Will you rethink Lent and give of yourself for God? I hope you will! Let’s give it a go and see what God does for, in, and through us! We can change lives for the better with God’s love and kindness. But change has to begin within us. The time is imminent. We have been given life for such a time as now. May God’s love and kindness flow through us to others for the changing of many lives as he changes us from the inside out :).

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