Building the New…

Are we focused on fixing the past? Or building the new?

Jesus has the power to make all things new….and one glorious day He literally and physically will. But, while we are still here, He helps us too.

He doesn’t erase the past, but He provides wisdom from it. He doesn’t change what hurt us, but He equips forgiveness for it and provides a testimony from it. He doesn’t remove the people, He teaches us new ways of relating to them.

In heaven, all our troubles will vanish. Until then, looking to Jesus in our hurts can lead to better decisions, courage, and change.

He doesn’t call us to live like our parents did, He doesn’t call us to live like our friends do. He doesn’t call us to cower to human beings. He calls us to follow Him. The King of the universe calls us to make Him the King of our hearts. And, when we do, we should expect change. Changes in ourselves and in our circumstances.

 Watch for the new thing I am going to do. It is happening already—you can see it now! I will make a road through the wilderness and give you streams of water there. Isaiah 43:19 (GNT)

He goes to work. Change is scary, but when we make Him the King of our hearts, we can also expect His help in these changes. He asks us to.

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you. Psalm 32:8 (NIV)

Sometimes, the new things He’s doing don’t seem good at first. They may even appear opposite. I’ve come across this many times. What I thought was a disaster, was Him making His way. So, I will trust You Lord. You are working. This is how You create change. In all things. We need to know He is still good and always good even and especially when things are not.

Last week, I apologized to my daughter for mistakes I’d made. Almost immediately, He lifted a burden. Today, no matter even her opinion of me, I’ve done what He called me to do. And, I thank God for that fresh start. May we trust His love enough to be human. To admit where we’ve messed up. To humble ourselves, receive His mercy, and show our kids how to do that. I believe God put that on my heart to better our future relationship. And, I thank Him for that.

Building the new is exciting. With Jesus in our hearts, we can expect help when the waves crash. He may not stop the storm, but He will show us how to maneuver and how to receive His peace and strength in it.

We can’t change our past, but we can learn from it. We can’t change people’s minds, but we can love them anyway and from a distance when necessary. We can’t force our way, but we can ask God for His and then follow step by gracious step.

What are you doing today to better yourself? Your relationships? Your health? Your finances? Your future? Your new? Let’s build.

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What Are You?

What are you? Male, female, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, American, immigrant, Republican, Democrat…? How about human?

If I were to ask you what church you go to, we’d also have many different answers. Some may not even go at all…But, when the religion question comes up, what do you say first? Baptist, Catholic, Seventh-day Adventist, Methodist…? How about Christian? I think this says a lot about what we value most.

Do you consider yourself your denomination over Christian? Are we all brothers and sisters in Christ first? Or does your particular denomination shame or discredit others for being different? What was Jesus? His nationality was Jewish, but it’s because of Him that we can even claim Christianity at all. Did He belong to a certain church? He preached in synagogues, on sea shores and mounts, but He also seemed to get on to the church folks more than any others.

He’s why we worship or should be. Denominations are formed by different interpretations of the Bible. Personally, I am a Christian who, at this point in my life, attends and serves at a Seventh-day Adventist church. I love my church and the people in it. I may not be happy with everything going on in it, but maybe that’s exactly why I’m there.

Since there are no perfect people, I can assume there must be no perfect church on earth either since they are made up of just that, people. Their ideologies, theologies, policies, doctrines, interpretations of scripture. I also think there are wonderful churches everywhere because I think there are wonderful Jesus following people in them. May we each be one where we are.

May we all serve Him where we are called and shine His light in all denominational congregations. May we love like Jesus to the best of our ability right where we are and especially in church. Sometimes they need it the most. May we go where He asks us to go. Because, one day, one sweet day, we’ll all be together. Regardless of the biases and prejudices associated.

There are enough prejudices in this world already, may we be increasingly aware that denominations do this too and may we try to be different and gracious about it.

I believe each one of us who claim Jesus will worship together in heaven. There won’t be six different churches to choose from on the streets of gold. We will be Christians who proclaimed His name above all others and clung to Him here like He clung to that cross for us.

So…what are you??

The Day I Almost Quit

This is a post about when I wrote my sign off and rather than sharing it, I saved it. This is the day I almost quit…..

“Today, I ran out of words. May this blog point you to Jesus and open your mind and heart to what He asks of you. May it encourage questions, conversations, and a thirst for the entire Word of God. May it point to His compassion and grace for all of us.

I’ve quoted Forrest Gump in this blog before, but today I’m sharing this one…”I think I’ll go home now.” If He inspires me to write again, so be it. But, I sense a strong, “You’ve done what I’ve asked you to do. Rest.”

May everything I’ve written show you the journey I’ve walked and desire to continue to.  Peace be with you…”

Since this draft was written, He has inspired me to write again and I’ve been lifted up and encouraged by men and women alike. Even in criticism, God shows His calls and desires for us.

I write for my daughters and other women looking for their significance in this world. Our significance and our worth is found in our Creator and Redeemer. Nothing this world has to offer here can match that.

I can’t wait for that ultimate reunion when all shame, fear, and hurt will be in our eternal past!

So, I will share until that day. Until the day God Himself removes the words. Because, this is my way of reminding myself and pointing others to Him, our Best Friend and Savior. Our Hope and our Teacher. He humbles me and He lifts me up. He keeps me going. This call as Christians, is never done.

I share my stories, but ultimately, this is not about me. It’s about Him. The way I share may change, the format may change, but I pray the content never does. Whether, it’s over coffee with a friend or on my daughter’s bed at night, may the sweet story of Jesus, be the best story ever told in my life. Ever.

And, I can’t wait to hug Him!! Because that means this is all over. The nightly news, the family stuff, the fear in raising kids today, the arguments we can’t get passed, the political strife, the heartache of missing loved ones, the financial strain, cancer, the stuff I write about, all of it. That’s heaven.

As much as I would love to, I can’t fix any of it. But what I can do is write and share about the One who will. The only One who can. We have joy and hope in Jesus! This is not our eternity, He is. We need only choose Him in return. He’s already chosen us. ❤

 

Supper Club

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I read a book recently by Jen Hatmaker called “For the Love”. In it, she talks about how getting together face to face gets harder and harder as we all get married, raise kids, separate, reconnect….just life. But, it’s important. So, her idea was to start a Supper Club. In her book, they get babysitters and make fancy food. Each home would rotate the sole responsibility of hosting and the others could just come and enjoy. I, on the other hand,  thought it would be a great idea to set up a “Supper Club with Kids”. A few friends with kids of similar ages. A few friends who would like to connect without struggling to find a sitter. Oh, and everyone bring something! So, I planned.

There are few things I enjoy more than hosting friends. The kids were excited and so was I. I was energized and all smiles buying groceries, practically skipping down the aisles at the store, picking out ingredients for new hamburger and black bean burger recipes. I straightened up the house and had the music up loud anticipating my house FULL of friends and their beloved littles. My “master plan” was that the kids would entertain themselves while us grown-ups could talk and play games.

By 6:30, I had 13 kids and 8 adults at my house. Within the first hour, we had a hair catastrophe that led to 2 hours of trying to untangle, a clogged toilet, a rug that was ruined by nail polish, a teething toddler in tears, a broken scooter, and a broken toy golf club.

To quote Will Smith in Hitch, “I saw that going differently in my mind”, nailed it.

I went to bed frustrated and sad that my plan had been thwarted. But, I woke up thankful for grace. Thankful that we can see now more than ever that we are all in this parenting thing together. That even when our big plans turn into pipe dreams, there is love and understanding and togetherness. Even if our togetherness just increases our sympathy for one another, the togetherness is worth it. With all that, do you know what the kids said first thing this morning? “When can we do that again? That was so fun!” Of course, they did.

One of our dear friends and mentors was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer recently. The news broke yesterday. We all discussed it last night and feel heartbroken for her and her family. She’s much too young and loved and respected and….there is just no good explanation. As is so true for way too many heartaches in this world. The sad news breaking made me even more grateful to be getting together with friends. You really do never know what will happen tomorrow. Who it will happen to. Or, when your own time on this earth is up.

So….let’s love today. Let’s laugh when we can. Let’s get together when we can. Let’s engage in each other’s lives. Let’s welcome new people. Let’s reconnect with old friends. Let’s encourage each other as parents. It makes me even more eager for the “Ultimate Supper Club” in heaven. Where there will be no more sad news, tangled hair, painful gums, broken toys, or plumbing issues whatsoever. Just the joy and relief of togetherness. Forever.

What’s in a Name?

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A lot…that’s what. I’m sure there are names you hear that make you cringe and names that just as quickly make your heart swell. Names that you may have a hard time dating because of a person in the past and names you have lovingly picked out for your babies.

Every girl puts their boyfriend’s name behind theirs to see how it sounds and writes it to see how it looks. Every divorcee wonders what to do with her last name. Keep it for the kids? Go back to maiden? Make a new name? A name marks a person. For good or bad, first and last, there’s a lot to a name.

One of my dear friends lost her mom this week. She passed away and left her daughter reeling as to how to go on without her. Understandably so. We all have, would, or will. It’s a huge loss. Huge. As I was walking and praying for my friend on my lunch break, the name “Reuniter” came to mind. There are many names for our God, but this one had never crossed my mind before. And, He is our Reuniter.

As the song goes…”Sweet name (sweet name), dear name (dear name), There’s no other name like Jesus, Sweet name (sweet name), dear name (dear name).”

There is no other name like Jesus. I’d like to share a list of some other names that come to mind….

  • Deliverer    The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer.Psalms 18:2
  • Lover           I have loved you with an everlasting love…..Jeremiah 31:3
  • Provider      My God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19
  • Forgiver      If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins……1 John 1:9
  • Redeemer   Our Redeemer—the Lord of hosts is his name—is the Holy One of Israel. Isaiah 47:4
  • Creator        For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. Psalms 139:13
  • Comforter   ….who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves  receive from God.  2 Corinthians 1:4     
  • Carrier         In the wilderness, where you have seen how the Lord your God carried you, as a man carries his son….Deuteronomy 1:31
  • Counselor    …..and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6
  • Vindicator    He who vindicates me is near. Who then will bring charges against me? Isaiah 50:8
  • Convicter     When he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment… John 16:8
  • Liberator     He brought them out of darkness, the utter darkness, and broke away their chains. Psalms 107:14
  • Reuniter      Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds….1 Thessalonians 4:17

These names are so sweet to me. Growing up legalistically, my innate name or character trait for God was “condemner”. That’s how I inherently viewed Him. A God I could never please. A God I wanted so badly to please, but always felt like I fell short. That was a lie. The true condemner himself put that in my head and I took it to heart.

Now, I take John 3:17 to heart and choose to believe it.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

He is not our condemner, He is our Savior….and so much more. There’s A LOT to a name.

Behind the Smile

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I was reminded today, ever so blatantly, of the brokenness in this world.  Today, the tears flowed with nowhere else to go but down. Remember, that most of us have been broken by the loss of a loved one, a marriage, a childhood, a family member, or an illness. There are countless ways we may feel broken. This great sense of loss will change a person. Behind the smiles, you may not know what people are going through or have been through. Be mindful that others may have been touched by tragedy. Think twice before you envy someone’s seemingly “perfect” life. Remember, that brokenness is a part of this life…only.

Yes, there are blessings to be found in brokenness. Yes, finding out that God has never nor will ever forsake us is the ultimate blessing we discover in our trials. But, that doesn’t mean the pain isn’t real.

Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Romans 12:15

Our human race was broken in the Garden of Eden. The shame, guilt, grief, and separation from God is still evident in our brokenness today. Our souls long to be complete in Him. Cultivating a relationship with God does not guarantee we won’t be broken again, but it does show us where to turn when we are. It reminds us that He is still in control and keeps us ever homesick for heaven.

Open your eyes and hearts to others around you. Be aware that there has been pain behind their smiles. Pain is increasingly evident in this world. Today, I was at a loss for words. I couldn’t encourage, all I could do was empathize with and feel the pain and loss. We are called to be the hands and feet of Jesus….there are times when this simply means lending an ear and following up with a heartfelt “I’m so sorry”. Sometimes there are no words, answers, or clichés to relieve the pain. There are times we just have to feel it, let it roll down our cheeks, and pray for comfort. I do believe it’s better to feel it than deny it. To honestly feel it allows for healing and growth.

Being honest about our own pain may strengthen another to open up and receive healing in theirs. I have witnessed and personally experienced that just knowing we aren’t alone can bring the most comfort. Let us actively love each other by recognizing that we are all broken, living in a broken world, and getting by the best we can. Let us also be reminded that God is good, in the good times and in the bad. God is good, in the pain and in the pleasure. God is good, in the loss and in the gains. And let us continue to praise God from whom all blessings flow…

Yearning for heaven where our hearts and circles will be forever unbroken.

No More Bills?!

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When we think about Heaven, we tend to think about how there will be no more death, sadness, or sickness. The absence of these three things is enough to make me want to go….yesterday. But, today I was thinking about how there will be so much more to experience and not experience in this truly glorious place.

Have you ever thought about the fact that we won’t have mortgages in Heaven? We get to live in our dream home, free and clear! No mortgages, light bills, water bills, trash bills, phone bills, or internet bills. We won’t have them, nor will we need them.

In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” John 14:2,3

It’s mind blowing to me that He’s not only preparing a place for us, but also that He wants us where He is. No matter the size, architectural style, paint color, flooring, or acreage of the homestead He graciously GIVES us, it will be our personally ideal home. A home like no other. A home like our humanly minds can’t comprehend. Our resting place. And we will have Jesus as our neighbor! I can’t imagine a warmer welcome.

Have you ever thought about the fact that there will be no more grocery bills, school bills, medical bills, day care, vacation costs, or taxes? We work and work and work and pay and pay and pay. We work hard to pay our bills and hope for some leftover money to entertain ourselves and our families with. In Heaven there will be no need for any of these expenses.

We won’t need checkbooks, ATMs, credit cards, insurance, retirement accounts, or new tires. No travel costs. No baggage fees. No security lines. No gas pumps. No oil changes. No tolls. No hotel costs. Life will be an eternal all-inclusive vacation from what we’ve grown accustomed to. I can’t even imagine…

No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined the things that God has prepared for those who love Him. 1 Corinthians 2:9

Where the streets are paved with gold and the gates are made of pearls, there is no need for online bill pay, stamps, or paydays. The relief of all financial responsibilities is not something I used to think about when I thought of Heaven. Now, raising 2 girls, it strikes a much deeper chord. There are so many reasons I yearn for Heaven…..

No more death, seeing our loved ones again, no more physical or emotional pain, no more violence, no more diseases to catch or panic over, and living in the light of The Lord’s physical presence gives me more hope and excitement than I can articulate with this keyboard!

Coolest part? God wants us home with Him even more than we want to go home! Now, that’s hard to imagine. He is the ultimate Provider. He sent His Son to die for us so that we could live with Him there….forever. ALL EXPENSES PAID!