Resting in Action: being still is stewardship

I like to think of myself as an independent, go getting, overly productive person. I am on my feet the majority of the day, and with our move from the city to a farm there is even more to do outside. I have no shortage of tasks to keep me stewarding over all the blessings we have received. The one task I am not great at is resting. I want to charge headlong into my to do lists at full steam until it is done, but sometimes I make things a little harder than they should be.

Recently I brought home a new little dog, but he met my big dog in my lap in our car. It didn’t go so well because the little dog was scared of my big dog. Both held their ground and got into a snapping match that resulted in a deep cut and several bruises around my knee. No one was biting, neither dog was hurt, they are now inseparable buddies, but the claws of an 80 lb dog are do joke. 

I decided to soldier through worship and church the next morning, went to a friends birthday party, and would have charged further into our Sunday functions if not for a sudden change in my leg. It started swelling down into the lower leg, got immensely more painful and we headed to the nearest Emergency Room. After a quick evaluation with a doctor I was given penicillin, a tetanus shot, and the experience of scrubbing out an infected cut. Then we were given the instructions to ice it, take pain medication and above all REST with it elevated for a few days.

 Now you would think that after caring for my duckies for years, I would welcome a break from housework but it is hard to let things go and not step in to ‘fix’ things. My older kids did a great job of helping with some chores, and my mother in law took over my lunch duties for a few days. That is when I realized that even overdoing my stewardship can be hazardous to my spiritual growth and sometimes rest is a powerful thing.

There are several verses in the bible that encourage rest, but my favorite passage on rest in action is Mark 6:30-44. This comes after the death of John the Baptist when the disciples had taken his body to be buried in a tomb. 

‘And the apostles gathered themselves together to Jesus and told him all the things, both what they had done, and what they had taught. And he said to them, Come you yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest for a while: for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat. And they departed into a desert place by ship privately. And the people saw them departing, and many knew him, and ran afoot thither out of all cities, and proceded them, and came together to him. And Jesus, when he came out, saw much people, and was moved with compassion toward them, because they were as sheep not having a shepherd: and he began to teach them many things. And when they day was now far spent, his disciples came to him, and said, this is a desert place, and now the time is far passed: send them away, that they may go into the country round about, and into the villages, and buy themselves bread: for they have nothing to eat. He answered and said to them, Give you them to eat. And they say to him, Shall we go and buy two hundred pennyworth of bread, and give them to eat? He said to them, How many loaves have you? Go and see. And when they knew, they say, Five, and two fishes. And he commanded them to make all sit down by companies on the green grass. And they sat down in ranks, by hundreds, and by fifties. And when he had taken the five loaves and the two fishes, he looked up to heaven and blessed, and broke the loaves, and gave them to his disciples to set before them; and the two fishes divided among them all. And they did all eat, and were filled. And they took up twelve baskets full of the fragments, and of the fishes. And they that did eat of the loaves were about five thousand men.

Many of us know the miracle Jesus performed by feeding the five thousand with five loaves and two fish. This is a sunday school lesson taught to our kids, a sermon for God sustaining our needs in hard times, but for me it is a lesson in the power of rest. The disciples had worked for Jesus. Then Jesus sent them to rest, and that act of resting was the catalyst for the people coming out of the city, Jesus having compassion for them, teaching them into the evening, and then the miracle happened. That miracle was built on the disciples being obedient to Jesus’ plea for them to rest. If you think about rest as the first step to our discipleship everything else falls into place. A good nights rest on Saturday night gets us ready to actively participate in bible studies, worship and the sermon the next morning. 

I am not saying that we should be at rest all the time because we should still be working hard to be great stewards of all our blessings. I can’t tell my kids to cook their own food because I am resting, but I can take a moment to sit and be still. We should be active disciples of Christ until our last breath, and we should be working towards greater wisdom and spiritual growth by being in the Bible. However, resting in the knowledge of how God works all things together for our good is resting wisely. 

My backfired dog introduction lead to an injury requiring me to sit down for three days, ended up in a social media post that got me inspired by a friend to keep rest as a topic, and ultimately brought me to the bible passage above. Before I started digging in Mark 6 I had no idea that a miracle had started with the act of rest. My act of resting opened my eyes to a wisdom that is often overlooked in our impatient culture of instant gratification. 

Here I am with a leg that is healing, two dogs that act like they came from the same litter, and a better understanding of how to make rest the beginning of a greater stewardship. So take some time this week to rest in God, meditate on a bible passage, and get a little rejuvenation in your soul. 

God is my everything! Here is why…

Father’s day is this weekend and I have been blessed with great dads whom I love dearly. I have a dad, step dad, have said goodbye to a Papaw and a Father in law. Each of them has shaped how I see the world. I have learned a great deal from them, but since this is a Christ centered blog I want to tell you about my Heavenly Father. He found me in my darkest hour and has brought me through several more. This is my testimony and the reason I choose to follow Jesus with all that I have:

I was in a very abusive relationship at the age of 15 with a man who was old enough to know that it was illegal. This went on for a year and a lot of choices were taken out of my hands. In that time, the people I reached out to rejected me, mocked me and I felt completely alone. Except for one kid at school. He always spoke kindly to me, and since I knew he was a Christian I would ask him questions about God. The more questions he answered it seemed like the harder things got in my personal life. On the day that the last person I could think to turn to for help dismissed me, I decided I didn’t want to live anymore. Seeing no way out of my abuse and being to scared to tell my parents I felt that suicide was the only way to escape the pain.

I planned on sitting outside that November night until I froze to death. There had already been a couple deaths due to exposure, so I knew death would happen. As I sat out there waiting, I kept thinking of my family and how sad they were going to be. I thought of how my baby sister will only know me by a note on my pillow, and how the person who tormented me constantly was warm and cozy. I thought of how everyone I love would wake up in the morning, but I would be dead. My mind kept drifting back to all the questions I had about God and I got so angry that I cried out through my tears, “Why God?! Why won’t you help me! You help everyone else, so why not me?!”

But I already knew the answer from the time my Christian friend had spent witnessing to me. I knew I had to repent for God to make a change. So half frozen and completely exhausted from the spiritual battle, I accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior that night.  We wear shirts at our church that say I Am Alive, but for me it is the most literal phrase I can wear. If not for the love of God and him sending his son to die in the cross I would have had no hope beyond a fridgid death.

Given that choice I was still terrified to go back to my neighborhood. I was alive but what would happen to me at the hands of my abuser? How could I stop this? I didn’t have to. The next day I came home from school to find out he had been evicted from his home. I only saw him a handful of times after that in the past 10 years.

I have had people argue ‘how can you say God is so great when he let that happen to you?’ The answer is that if that had not happened in my past I wouldn’t be as sensitive to others when they tell me their story of abuse. I wouldn’t fully understand that kind of pain had I not lived through it. I wouldn’t have known how to help others who have come to me. My testimony is a rough one but God was still wise to have brought me through it, and to deliver me from my tourment. My life really did end that night in the field, but my new life in Christ has been amazing! It hasn’t always been an easy walk, but without Jesus’ sacrifice I would have no hope. This is why I serve God with everything I have. This is why He is my joy even though trials and valleys to worship Him.

So I invite you to seek out Jesus if you don’t know him as your savior. I plead that whatever trial you are facing that you trust it in the hands of God, our heavenly father, and that you give your life over to Him. Above all never give into the lie that you are alone.

God Bless

I Am Not Called To Be My Kids’ Best Friend

My Duckies have some really great friends inside and outside of church. We celebrate birthdays and accomplishments with them, they have tons of fun when they play together, and sometimes they can get down-right rowdy. That’s when I have to step in and spoil the fun by reminding them to quiet down and be thoughtful of other people nearby. Not many people want to hear my kids going nuts or yelling as loud as possible just because they can. I love them. I don’t even want to hear the yelling, and there is always so much yelling. 

We have rules because the reality is that rules exist outside our home, and the penalty for breaking those rules can be much worse than a time out corner when they are grown. While the norm may be shifting to ‘just let them be kids’, we aren’t doing them any favors by allowing them to misbehave. It does them no good to have a rule, break it and have me tell them it’s okay, either. I have to stick to my guns when they break a rule or don’t listen to me. By being my kids’ buddy I am teaching them that I will be there to fix the situation so they aren’t in trouble, and that there is no authority. I tried that in our house and I got total anarchy! My kids need authority because their voice of reason isn’t fully developed. When I cave because my toddler is screaming, I am teaching her that if she screames long and loud enough she will get her way. That is just unacceptable and careless teaching on my part. When she is an adult and she tries to yell to get her way I hope she gets thrown out of a store by management because she shouldn’t get away with that. I hope to teach each of the kids how to despute without raising their voice and to bring a solid argument.

 Here is the society we live in: we want to stomp out bullying, but we raise bullys and teach people that throwing a fit gets you your way. My duckies will not be a part of that problem because I am raising them better. They will be able to accept the word ‘no’ at a check out counter without wanting to yell at a manager because I am conditioning them to hear ‘no’ when they are young. Am I saying they will never loose their cool? I can’t guarantee that, but I can tell you they won’t learn ‘temper tantrums equals their end result’ from me.

 I will add that if your kid is screaming and having a fit in a store and you aren’t giving into them then you are doing a great job! However, it is maddening to be put through 15 minutes of wailing just to see a parent cave in. Save our ears and don’t draw it out if you are going to give in. Plus, and yes I have done this, if your kid doesn’t want to leave a place and throws a fit don’t forget that you are bigger and can carry them out. I have been the mom with the stubborn kid screaming in the cart, and I have had to take my kid to the car while leaving my items there. Sometimes raising them is more important than the shopping list.

Another target I painted on my back was giving my Duckies chores. I make sure they are age appropriate, but yes my youngest Ducky can put away her own toys at the end of the day and my preschooler can make his bed. When I first brought the idea of chores in the house I felt like a drill sergeant having to constantly remind them to do a task. Those Ducks are stubborn and can drag out cleaning their rooms for days. After a few times of letting them know they missed a activity because they weren’t done cleaning their room they got the hint. Momma Goose doesn’t back down just because they really really really wanted to go to the movies. If they don’t learn how to keep a house now, there isn’t a magical adulting app for later. I am the one equipping them to take care of themselves. I don’t like it when they are mad at me, but they will learn to finish their tasks.  I had to learn over ten years how to keep a house. If I had started when I was a kid I wouldn’t have been so clueless and overwhelmed later. It is important that they learn to pick up after themselves.

We just moved to the country to start a new chapter in out lives as homesteaders. While my husband still works outside the farm, we will be utilizing the land as best we can. Trust me when I say that the duckies have plenty of ideas as to what kind of animals we can get. We are leaning towards Alpacas long term, but Ducky 3 still has his heart set on a Polar Bear. Don’t worry I will be sticking to no on the Polar Bear issue! Anyway, I agreed to let them get chickens as a start and the older Duckies are going to help build the coop and tend the chickens. It isn’t because of a lack of effort on my part, but more a desire for them to earn the right to get chickens. My eyelid twitches at the thought of all the nails I am going to have to pull back out, mistakes in levelness I will have to fix, or the arguments that are bound to happen. The reality is that the coop is going to be a great learning experience for them. They are going to know what it means to work hard for something they want, how to work together, and how to use a hammer. I want them to have the feeling of accomplishment that comes from finishing a project with their bare hands. If they grow up and work in an office that is great, but I want them to understand how hard manual labor is. Papa Goose works in a factory and tells me it is very easy to pick out the supervisors who came off the line and the ones who don’t understand the physical demand of the jobs they oversee.

I can’t tell you how many times I have been made fun of or even scolded because people feel I am being ‘too hard’ on my kids. I am not being their best friend all the time and deviating from the norm makes people uncomfortable. I stick to my guns and find comfort in Proverbs 22:6 ESV ‘Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.’ Now I get compliments on how well behaved they are, how quickly they step up to help others, or how great they are at doing what they are asked without talking back, rolling their eyes, or downright refusing.

Like it or not my Duckies are going to leave the nest. They are adults in the making and right now I am called to mold them not be their best friend. It is my job to be their conscience until theirs is mature enough to do the job. It is my job to make sure they are equipped with all the life skills then need to survive without me. When they grow into thriving, well mannered adults I will know they can soar and live their dreams because I taught them how. When I know that they have got what it takes to make it in this world only then can I be their best friend.

Big Questions from Little Hearts

 I cannot tell you how many times I have had all the Duckies piled into our car, jamming out to the local Christian station, when one of those little voices pops out a BIG question. Besides the akwardness of the ‘where do babies come’ from talk, they have a ton of questions about God, church and sin.
These questions range from ‘why do people go to church and still sin?’ to ‘what is adultery?’ Now those are some big questions for such small people, and kids always seem to be a never ending source of them. I won’t lie and say it was easy to explain adultery in a kid friendly way, but it happened anyway. The topic isn’t the most crucial part, but how I choose to answer them is beyond important.

I could say I will tell them when they are older, but the question has been laid on their heart in that moment. I may be hindering their spiritual understanding of the world if I put them off. I could tell them to wait until we get home and I will look up scripture to answer their question, but by then they will have lost interest in what we were talking about. The best way to handle hard topics with kids is to take a second to think your answer over, answer the question the best you can and then look it up in the bible together. If you get proven wrong by the word then explain to them that everyone makes mistakes but God’s word is always true and is never wrong. Not only do you get to show them how to look up things in the bible, but you get to help them grow spiritually and show them that they are important to God’s plan, too.

Everytime I get to answer them on a spiritual level I think of Jesus scolding his disciples when they tried to keep the kids out of the way in Mathew 20:14-15 NLT ‘but Jesus said, “let the children come to me. Do not stop them! For the kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.” And he placed his hands on their heads and blessed them before he left.’

Kids are the next generation of our churches, the next to inherit heaven and they are the next to run the planet. So the way we answer them and foster spiritual growth is amazingly important. The examples we set now when it comes to their big questions about God also speaks to the importance we place on our kids themselves. Kid’s know when we value them over the other tasks in out lives, and that translates into how much we love them. Salvation won’t seem so out of reach later if we help them grasp the basics now, show them how much Jesus loves them, and teach them how big their little voices really are.

You may be wondering what to do if you really don’t know how to answer their question. That happened recently when Ducky 2 came to me  saying that she when she came forward at the age of four and was baptised she didn’t know if any of it was real or what it meant to her. In other words she was led through the motions but nothing clicked inside, and she didn’t understand the commitment she made. I answered her as best I could, but I wasn’t sure how to explain uncertainty in salvation to a child, so I turned to our Family Pastor, Eric, and he talked to her the next day. Even though I tried to explain it I let her know that he may have a better explanation for her and showed her it is okay to seek counsel from a wiser church member. After having a chat with him we determined that she has a basic understanding of salvation, but the repentance needs to be real and unforced. That will happen in God’s timing, but now we know to be ready. 

The most important thing any of us can do until the next BIG subject comes up is to study up on the bible. I can’t answer their questions about God if I don’t know what is in His Word, so it is kind of like studying for a pop quiz. There may be questions on a chapter I haven’t read yet and that is fine as long as I am willing to learn the answer with them on my lap. The last thing I want to do is say something that would lead them away from the truth. Studying isn’t just important for my soul, it is also critical for my kids’ souls. Our church just got finished with VBS this week, seeds were planted and now it is up to the adults in those kids’ lives to keep that fire burning.

Jesus warns us in Mathew 18:6 ‘but if any of you cause one of these little ones to sin, it would be better for you to have a large millstone tied around your neck and drowned in the depths of the sea.’ Teaching kids the Word of God correctly and raising them into powerful christians was something Jesus did not take lightly. We shouldn’t either! Now here is the BIG question for you: the next time a kid asks you a tough spiritual question will you be ready? If not then it is time to study up on the Word so we can better apply it when they do. 

God Bless!

Are We Statues or Pillars In Our Church?

James 2:14-18 NLT

What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you can say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone? Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing and you say, “Goodbye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well”, but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do? So you see faith by itself isn’t enough; unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless. Now someone may argue, “Some people have faith, others have good deeds.” But I say, “How can you show me your faith if you don’t have good deeds? I will show you my faith by my good deeds.”

My favorite time period to study in Art History was always the Renaissance, and it was all due to the wonderful marble statues. When you look at them you can tell just how much time was poured into them by the master sculptors of that time. They are intricate and amazing pieces of art that are admired the world over, but other than being pretty they don’t do much. Their only function was to bring glory to the artisans who created them. Sculptors who are dead and can no longer hear the admiration they once did. Even though some of them depicted biblical scenes, when it comes to functionality they wouldn’t be of much use for day to day activities. 

I do remember trudging thru the chapters on Greek art history because nothing there ever did catch my imagination. Looking back at all the modernization and technological advances made during the time it is amazing what they accomplished.  The Egyptians also had amazing breakthroughs in all manner of ancient technology. People still can’t come to a definitive agreement on the history of the pyramids, but something the two cultures had in common was the use of the pillar. A pillar has two definitions 1: a firm upright support for a superstructure. 2: a supporting, integral, or upstanding member or pillar of society.

A flip back into any art book can show off some very ornate pillars, but these proved to be more than a decoration and they served a purpose. The craftsmen who fashioned these works wanted more than just beauty; they demanded functionality from their work over all else. What good is an ornate pillar that cannot support a roof?

Psalm 139:13-15 ESV

‘For you formed my inward parts in my mothers womb. I will praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth.’

It is in these verses we get the image of God being the master craftsman, putting together flesh and bone creations that are all unique. He gives us all different talents to use together for His praise. God doesn’t just make us to be something to look down at and marvel. God has blessed us by creating us to be more intricate than the best Renaissance statues, and He made us with the capabilities to serve a purpose in His kingdom. James said it pretty plainly that faith without good deeds is good for nothing. 

If we sit by and don’t use our talents to further God’s kingdom then we are as useless as a statue. We may dress ourselves in pretty clothes on Sunday, but if we don’t serve then what good does it do? Churches are full of volunteer positions that need to be filled. We don’t need a special invitation in order to step up.  A special request for our services does nothing more than serve our ego and exalt us over God’s will for the church.

How many church events have we attended where we left thinking, ‘well if it only had _____? If it just had more songs, or lights, or comfier pews, or more activities, or more and more and more…. Did we ever stop to think that the missing piece to the prepwork on that event was ourselves? There are so many ways we can help our church, and all we have to do is humble ourselves and ask to be of service to it.

We hear of people being called pillars of the church because they rolled up their sleeves and got behind church leaders with their good deeds. These people see a need and fill it before anyone even asks. They make a commitment to be a part of something greater because they know what they sew now will be their harvest. 

Summertime means VBS is taking off like wildfire, and with it the opportunity to reach the heart of a child for Christ. We get the privilege to show them the love of Jesus and sew a seed of faith for later. 

This is just one example of how God can use us, but there are countless other ways we can use our talents. What we do with our time is beyond important, and it is the difference between being a statue or a pillar. So my challenge is to be more than a weekly ornament in our churches. Search our talents and serve the kingdom so that more people can know Jesus. God set the foundation for that kingdom. Now it is time for us to step up and be the pillars for God to build on!

The Second Day

Most of us who are Christian know the gospel. We know it from the birth, to Jesus working miracles, teaching parables, to his death and resurrection. We know that Jesus told his desciples of his up coming betrayal, that he would die, but he also told them he would come back and bring them happiness.

John 16:22 ESV

So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.

Our faith hinges on the joy found in the resurrection. It is what sets Jesus apart, and without it we have no hope of eternal life. On the Eve of Easter Sunday I can’t help but wonder what the desciples must have been going thru on the second day.

They had just seen their leader, who they gave up everything to follow, killed by the high priests in Jerusalem. Not just killed but sentenced to death by an angry mob and publicly tourtured. They saw Jesus betrayed, rejected for Barabas, sentenced to death, beaten beyond recongnition, treated like a criminal, paraded thru town, nailed to a cross, and mocked thru the whole ordeal. I am sure the shock of everything that happened was still fresh in their minds. They saw evil men rally together the hearts of the unbelievers.

Peter was probably still ashamed of denying Jesus to the crowd. Mary’s cries of anguish for her child were still probably haunting their minds. The cries from the crowd mocking Jesus still echoing as they tried to process what had happened. The crowds were proud of themselves so much that they beat their chests as a sign of victory as they walked away from Jesus’ body on the cross. Their pride blinded them from the truth, and the desciples heart break drowned out the words Jesus had spoken earlier about joy.

John 20:19 says that when Jesus came to find them on the day of the resurrection they had the doors locked in fear of the Jews. I can understand thier fears because Jesus was proclaimed the son of God, and the crowds had no fear in killing him. They probably thought they were next on the list. I can’t say I wouldn’t be jumping at everything and leaving my door open.

It is easy to read the last few chapters of John and say that the disciples were acting silly, but we are reading that with the knowledge that Jesus rose. They hadn’t experienced that hope yet. Even though Jesus gave them a spoiler before the cross, those words were being snuffed out by the reality of the pain they felt at loosing him.

They were seeing life through the reality of what they had seen. That reality said evil had won. That reality said that Jesus had died. That reality said Jesus’ body was still sealed in the tomb.

Jesus shattered that reality when he rose from the grave, but it still took a while for the desciples to shift their view. Mary Magdalene found the tomb empty that day, but mistakenly asked Jesus where they had taken his body thinking he was a gardener. She didn’t realize that it was even Jesus until he said her name. She couldn’t believe it was Jesus and not the gardener because she had to transition into believing the impossible.

Jesus was still willing to help the desciples shift their thinking that extra bit. He showed them his hands and his side, so they would believe it was really him. Jesus sought after Thomas’ heart to be filled with the joy of the resurrection, even after he doubted the other disciples. Jesus allowed him to touch his wounds in his hands and his side.

John 20:29 ESV

Jesus said to him, “have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

The death of Jesus on the cross brought unimaginable horror, the second day brought shock and fear, but the third day sparked the new reality that hope conquered everything.

What day do we linger on in our walks with Christ? Do we get distracted by the tragedies of the world, or do we show the world a different reality of hope? Tomorrow we celebrate the miracle of Christ having risen from the tomb. We will also be celebrating with family and friends who may not have made the decision to accept Jesus as their Savior. I pray that we be their proof of hope with an attitude of joy. Not just for tomorrow but in every day we spend outside the doors of our churches. Amen.

(Photo sourced from


Trauma No Longer Lives Here

Palm Sunday is tomorrow and I was thinking of doing a guide thru the last week of Jesus’ life, but I can’t shake the feeling that I need to go deeper. I will admit that when I was in prayer this morning over what to write I didn’t start out thinking of trauma. Those that know me do know that I am no stranger to it or it’s lies.

If you look at my life from my teen years thru my twenties you will notice that overcoming sexual abuse is not something I am new to. I have seen my fair share of affliction as being that one person out of three, and helping loved ones out of the same place. I had struggled with the pain and scars left behind in my mind. I constantly felt useless, afraid, unworthy, and ready to end my life to stop the pain. That moment of suicide is what drew me to Christ all those years ago and what drives me so passionately to follow Him. Christ was not an after thought. If I had not cried out to him thru my pain in repentance I would not be alive today. The power of his forgivness is my all or nothing. 

I got swept up in the world in my later teen years, but I was drawn back to Christ when I had to bring someone else I love thru the same peril at the hands of someone else. Watching someone you love know the same pain you have known is heart breaking. 

I ended up renewing my faith in Jesus, but realizing that I needed to revisit my counseling for my past. I decided to go with a biblical counselor this time as traditional methods hadn’t worked. Why go thru that again? The painful process of putting someone back together after they had suffered such unspeakable terror made me realize I still struggled with my own traumatic experience.

I had buried that giant in the back of my mind, but not deep enough to keep it down. Thru helping someone else it had violently torn back up and tried to come back into my mind. It was raging with its fearful lies and harmful teachings that challenged my self-worth. My husband gave me the support and my counselor gave me the tools to destroy it with the Word. I will put a list of some of my favorite scriptures that speak to trauma at the end of this post. For now I want to stay in 2  Corinthians 4:7-18

But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to dispair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you.

Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, I believed, and so I spoke, we also believe and so we also speak, knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence. For it is all for your sake, so that grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God. 

So we do not loose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

Paul is no stranger to affliction. This man lived the latter part of his life proclaiming the resurrection of Christ. As a result of speaking the truth he endured beatings, rejection, persecution, was thrown in jail, and in the end lost his life at the hand of unbelievers. I like this passage of scripture because Paul was one of us and he knew how little power affliction held when compared to the resurrection. 

Paul realizes we are fragile vessels of God when he refers to us as’jars of clay’. He lists all the ways we can be brought down by this evil world, but acknowledges that God has kept us from destruction when we carry the hope of Jesus with us. We are followers of Christ so we are to manifest the teachings of Jesus’ life in ourselves. We are constantly given over to death, so people can see us rise thru adversity for the glory of God.

We know there is hope in our suffering because God will raise us to Heaven when we die. Our traumas are no longer alive in us when we open our lives to the power of Jesus! They fall and the lies born from them die. The evils that try to steal our worth can not survive the hope of the resurrection… hallelujah! We have the promise that our God will restore us with an eternal life in Heaven where pain is no more. 

Paul also encourages us to rejoice in spiritual growth. We need to keep our souls ready with the word daily, so that when our bodies give out we will be ready for eternal life. If I look at my trauma from the hope of eternity, it goes from a giant to a skipped heartbeat on an EKG. It is nothing in the face of Heaven.

Something to remember is that we live in a fallen world, so bad things are bound to happen. The marvelous truth of Jesus being risen from death is that now we have a choice. In our free will we could decide to dwell in trauma and wall ourselves up there, but Jesus offers a better choice.

We have the choice to replace evil moments, lies and fears with hope. I chose to pull out the weed of my trauma by the roots, and replant the vine of Jesus. I was renewed in my faith by replacing my past with joy, love, hope and the promise of eternal life.

Palm Sunday marks the week leading up to Christ’s death on the cross and urges us to remember the sacrifice that was given for our souls. We are that important to God. Easter declares that trauma no longer lives here because Jesus has risen despite the evils of the world. He won the battle against dispair, and thru accepting Him we can rise above trauma as well.

(Some of my favorite verses dealing with trauma)

Job 11:16, Psalm 91, Psalm 147:3, Jeremiah 29:11-14, Lamentations 3:22-32, Isaiah 40:28-31, Micha 7:8, Romans 8:18, 1 Corinthians 10:14, 2 Thessalonians 3:16, 2 Timothy 4:18, 1 John 5:4-5

Pausing, reconnecting and recharging this week.

It has been a very long week. I will admit I haven’t slept very well at all since I was sick on Monday. My husband and I are taking some time sans Duckies to reconnect and recharge as a couple. I feel now is the time and both of these are good for marriage. That being said, I am not going to post tomorrow. I will resume with more blog posts next friday. While I am taking downtime this week don’t forget to pray, read the word, and find ways to open up your life to fully serving God!

If you would like a Bible Challenge then I invite you to dig into the book of James. Do your history on it before you dive in so you get the context. Remember to really look at what this book says about the characteristics of our God instead of just what it says about you as a follower. I would love to hear your comments on what verses stick out!

As my Father in Law would say, ‘Have a great day and God Bless!’

‘I want a cup of Milk In It!’

Psalm 23 (ESV): The Lord is My Shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in the path of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely the goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever…
“Mom, Mom, Mooooooom!” Yes the glorious hour of 6 am when ducky number 4 comes into my room to pat me awake. I will never understand how my almost two year old can be so stealthy as she sneaks into my room, pats me on the nose, waits for me to open my eyes. I know exactly what will happen when I make eye contact with this morning person, too. The next statement that comes out of Ducky 4’s mouth is by far the cutest run on sentence/question I have ever heard jammed into one giant word, “Iwantacupofmilkinit?”
She doesn’t exactly want a cup of milk, she just wants a drink of something. When I am in the process of fixing her cup I am always struck by how over reaching her request sounds. I know her needs and I know that sometimes she doesn’t need milk. Sometimes she needs water, sometimes juice and every now and again I spoil her with tea and honey. Her special request for milk every time is just her basic understanding for thirst.
I often wonder if I sound like Duck 4 when I pray. I have a dream of raising livestock and chickens, but the first year I looked into it I was dead set on sheep. I even micro managed my plan into a spreadsheet, paddock rotation, and budgeted down to the dollar. I know it is wise to plan ahead, but do you know what happened? I never bought a single sheep.
Life kept getting in the way. Loan approvals would fall through, we would get busy, but still I would pray. Not that God would bless us with the capability to raise animals and work from home. That was what I needed, but I prayed for what I wanted….sheep.
As you can imagine the sheep never happened but a year later the market on them took a hit. Was I disappointed that I didn’t get my way all at once? Of course I was until I realized that God saved us from a wooly flop.
Had I gotten that $100,000 loan and not been able to sell a sheep we would have lost everything. God didn’t answer that prayer because he knew my needs beyond my wants, and I praise him so much for it!
God knows I need a drink in my cup, but he knows it doesn’t always need to be milk. He went beyond that when he gave us Jesus. John 3:16 is a familiar passage. ‘For God so loved the world that he gave us his son. That whosoever believes in him will not perish, but have everlasting life.’
John 7:37-38 ESV On the last day of the feast Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me as the scripture has said, out of His heart will flow the rivers of living water.” God gave us living water to satisfy our need for salvation. As the gospels pointed out numerous times, Jesus was far from what the Pharisees wanted, but he was everything that they needed. Do we have faith in what God knows we need, or do we still long for what we want?
Think of when God watched as David sinned in his desire to have Bathsheba. David thought he got what he wanted and that he could hide his sin, but in the end he mourned his choice to send her husband off to war to die, and lost their baby shortly after it was born. Luckily for David he repented before God, but not after being fully exposed. He followed after his wants even when they were sinful.
It is wise to walk in the attitude that God knows our wants and needs, but he knows what is best for us. Today I am going to be meditating on how to trust God to meet my needs over my own will. Beyond what kind of drink I think belongs in my cup, God always knows best.

The Vinedresser, the Vine and The Branches John 15 1-12

Try and think back to how you were when you first accepted Christ as your Lord and Savior. You are new to the faith, been baptized and are so excited about Christ that if you tried to cover your light with a bushel it would set that basket on fire! You want everyone you know to go to Heaven and there is no fear in you when it comes to sharing the good news!
Then you settle into a stride of attending every Sunday, and maybe even Wednesday night for fellowship and to attend a bible study. That is awesome in and of its self to want to dive into God’s word with your brothers and sisters in Christ. Growing spiritual fruit is an important first step, but it isn’t the last step.
Maybe you serve in one of the ministries at your church. There are so many different types out there aren’t there? Being a part of what helps move the church is a blessing. Even when sometimes it can get overwhelming trying to plan out those big events, volunteering those extra hours every week, or pouring out your love into those kids in Sunday School. Hang in there volunteers because God is equipping you to handle what he has called you to be a part of.
In fact he has equipped all of us to be a part of His kingdom. Some of us aren’t comfortable serving in certain areas in the church, but that doesn’t mean God doesn’t want you working for Him. I know that I am not meant to work in the Sunday School classes that are below 4th grade. For some reason little kids don’t like me much but I do further the kingdom in other areas. I am on the praise team, part of the women’s ministry, lead studies, and reach people with this blog. I serve in several small ways, and each bit of slack I pick up takes a strain off someone else.
Now here is a big question: Are you still waiting for that big voice telling you to get involved in the works of His Kingdom? Well, great because it was already written in God’s word in John Chapter 15. Verses 1-17 Jesus is bringing us the last of his I Am sayings:
I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the father has loved me so have I loved you. If you keep my commandments you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. This is my commandment that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one but this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what the master is doing, but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father, I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he me give it to you. These things I command you, so that you will love one another.
What a wonderful metaphor Christ gives us here. He being the vine is the source of our life as we abide in him. Personally I can see exactly how God is the vinedresser. We come up to trials and conquer through by using His word in our lives. Sometimes those trials prune us and we learn new lessons or gain a new outlook on our faith and prayer life. How beautiful that we are the branches? We are a direct extension of our Lord Jesus, Amen!
Then further reading shows us that God will know us by our fruits. I am in no way saying that if you are in a hospital bed that you should shake it off and go chase toddlers for an hour. That wouldn’t be very compassionate on my part to say suck it up and go help. If what you are doing is truly all you are capable of doing then you just keep mastering the fruit of the spirit and witness where and when you can. God understands fully where you are in your life.
Here is the heart of what I am saying: those of us that are able and shrug off helping in the church, God knows fully where you are in your life also. He knows where I am in mine, and He sees into the very core of my spirituality. He knows when I am meditating on Him and when I am occupied with life.
I don’t work a normal job during the week, and what I do work on is on my own hours so God sees my free time. He knows where my priorities lie when I am not working on this blog. You can bear fruit during the week even if your work schedule doesn’t permit a trip to church on Wednesday night, by opening up a dialog with a co worker. My father in law used to end his phone sales calls with a simple ‘Have a great day and God Bless’.
Something I do want to discuss before I go any further. A question that springs from this passage of scripture is how can we abide in Jesus and be cut out and burned? I feel it depends on what kind of abiding you are doing. Think of it like this Jesus chose Judas to be a disciple knowing Judas would betray him for silver. Judas traveled with Jesus, abided with him and the other disciples, but the fruit he bore at the end was greed. Judas may have started out with the best of intentions, but never really got what it meant to be a true disciple of Christ. Not to say he didn’t desire to learn all he could about Christ but in his heart he didn’t accept Jesus as the Messiah, so his works reflected that and he was cut out.
At the end of this teaching Jesus gives us the command to love one another as he loved us. He goes further to say that no greater love can we have for one another than to lay down our lives for one another. To me this is Jesus talking about the sacrifice he will make, but also it also can say to sacrifice our time for one another. You know the child care worker and the kitchen worker who have been doing their job forever? They are always super nice and sometimes say that you would be good at this job.
Well, they are right. You are perfect for helping out because you can sacrifice a Sunday morning to help behind the scenes. Jesus goes one step further to say that he chose us and appointed us to go and bear fruit that would abide. He also says that whatever we ask the Father in his name that will grow fruit that abides in him, the father will give it to you. Do you feel unequipped or unmotivated to serve? Pray for Strength and wisdom, but keep yourself available to fill a position in the church.
I will give an example of how serving in a small way can have a huge impact by telling you about last summer. There was a huge VBS week at our church. My husband and I serve on the praise team every week, but I felt a great need to help fill a spot. I had no idea which one I would be put in because by the time I signed up I was an extra. I am the person who tends to make little kids cry. I have no idea why but little kids don’t care for me at all, so I was a little intimidated by helping out in the first place.
I did what I thought was right before going in and I asked God to put me where He needed me. So when I came in I was told to help out in the 4th and 5th grade class. The second day the 4th and 5th grade classes were so big that they had to divide them up, so I ended up teaching 5th grade with a lovely woman who became a dear friend. The class was 30 minutes and the lessons were read out of a book so it was pretty easy.
I remember close to the last day the lesson was on God keeping us safe in a troubled world. That discussion took off and branched into, ‘where was God when ______ happened on the news?’ My friend and I took turns reassuring the class that God is still loving, still offering salvation thru the cross, and still waiting for us to take that step.’
On the last day, one of the girls came on stage and said that she had given her life to Christ! My breath caught in my throat and tears of joy ran down my face. Now before you say good for you, I want to clarify that I had not had the discussion with her about her personally accepting Christ and there were so many people playing instrumental parts that week in the different activities that I cannot claim it was because of something I said by itself.
You should know that I was crying those tears because God allowed me to plant a tiny little seed that he brought to fruition, and He allowed me to see it. I could have missed out on that moment of pure happiness had I just gone home that week after drop off, but I chose to stay open and available to God’s will. Bearing fruit is a privilege, spiritual fruit is important, but choosing to serve your brothers and sisters is a blessing.
So now think about your church family that is already serving week after week. How can you lay down your life, your time, your energy to help them? How can you do this to further the kingdom of God? What ways are you allowing God to use you to bear fruit? How awesome will it be when you see a seed turn to fruit?