End of the World?

I like to take walks when my schedule allows during my workday. The fresh air is wonderful and the sunshine warms my face and fingers. It feels good to get the blood moving when I’m in a cold office all day. Usually, I’m listening to music. This particular day, I was listening to Christina Aguilera, singing, knowing I sounded nothing like her and also glad I didn’t care.

Walking, I noticed the sky. A beautiful path of sunshine shining through a darker cloud. Breathtaking, but also a pale comparison to what I imagine the clouds will look like when Jesus returns. When the skies open up for all to see. When life as we know it will be forever changed for those who believe. Our bodies made new, our debts paid, and our future secure in His presence forever and always. The end of our world.

I took a quick picture and kept walking, thinking about that glorious day in our future. I sampled a few filters on my photo but went back to none. It looked the best. A glimpse of Glory in real life.

As I continued to walk, I noticed cars driving into a recreation center nearby. It was surrounded by political signs and I saw a line of people waiting to get in. It was the line to vote.

This year, 2020, has been tumultuous, to say the least. So much unrest. So much change. Unprecedented closures and restrictions. Viruses and protests. Anger and sadness. Fear and change. Loss and political bias.

This year’s election feels exceptionally electrically charged. Emotional. Like it is THE cause and THE cure for all our problems. Like the outcome of this election may very well be the end of the world to many. Like they won’t be able to bear living here if one or the other is elected. Both sides. Like it’s the end of the world.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t vote. I’m not saying our votes don’t matter or make a difference. I’m just saying the outcome is not the true end of the world.

I feel like God pointed out the legit end of this world to me when He drew my attention to that little bit of sky opening. Like His kind heart was reminding me and hoping to remind others, that what seems so important and life-altering won’t change one iota of His plan for us.

He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.”And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!” And then he said to me, “Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.” Revelation 21:4-5 (ERV)

THIS will be the true end of our world.

With voters in line on my right and the sky opening on my left, perspective was graciously given. An eternal perspective. A reminder that God is bigger still. Just like the picture I took shows a glimpse of what His return will be like, this election pales in comparison to what His plans for us are. Regardless of who gets elected. God already knows and His plans won’t be deterred because of it.

The devil would love for us to think that whoever our next president is will fix everything or ruin everything. And hang our lives on it. But, just like the rest of us, they are both fallen human beings too. And they won’t have all the answers or perfect solutions.

Problems will still be here. Death will still be here. Crime will still be here. Corrupt cops will still be here. Racists will still be here. Because sin will still be here.

Our country’s next president pales in comparison to what God did for us and will do for us through His Son, Jesus Christ. HE is bigger than all this and HE is coming back and bringing with Him the real end of this world.

May we lean into that joy and promise when the grief, confusion, or disappointment of this year takes hold. The enemy wants us to think the end of our world is coming on November 4th, the day after. My gut tells me we’ll still be counting or recounting ballots, although I hope not. My gut and my Bible also tells me things will only get worse after this election. Regardless of who is elected. Until His glorious return. That’s how it’s written. But, for those of us who claim Jesus as our Savior, we GET to look forward to those clouds parting. When it’s all said and done. When God says so.

So, for those who think the world will end if your guy isn’t elected, I say “I hope so!!” Because that means the clouds will open and future elections and airborne viruses will be no more. And we’ll be on our way to a place where donkeys and elephants will lie as peacefully together as lions and lambs. With the rest of God’s creations.

Continue reading “End of the World?”

Rockabye

When I had babies in the house, by favorite time of the day was rocking them before bed. I’d hit rush hour traffic to get to them as soon as I could, make dinner during “witching hour”, and put them in the bath. As soon as that lotion and sweet baby smell took over, pacifier was popped in, and it was time to rock. Just baby and me.

This was when we could both get still and quiet. Sometimes, it took longer to settle down, but most of the time, once we hit that rocking recliner with jammies on, it was time for us both to chill.

I think about how this must also be God’s favorite times with us, when we rest in His arms and let Him rock us. He’s there for all of it. The hard times, the rushing, the washing, the crying, but in those precious moments when we let Him hold us, I imagine how happy it must make Him too.

As parents, holding our sweet smelling and contented babies, is when we can look past all the rushing and worries, and know it’s worth it. Sweetest times ever were holding my baby girls and feeling them relax into my arms. I miss it.

I know our Father in heaven must too.

We can do this anywhere. At our desk, in our beds, in our car. Let Him hold you. Let Him rock you. You are His precious child and that has never changed.

It’s Not “Supposed” to Be This Way..

I write a lot about the difficulties of divorce. So many get them without considering the consequences. Some know full well and some are clueless. As a child of it and an adult who went through it, I want to clue some of you in.

Some sign in tears gasping for breath and some easily and nonchalantly sign papers. Some spend their retirement fighting for custody and some need a push accepting the inevitable. Some hire detectives and some throw parties. Some wake up and some shut down. Because people grieve differently and some don’t grieve at all, they are each different.

No matter what, it’s an epidemic that needs attention. Divorce causes confusion about how marriage was intended from the beginning and not only the pain of separation for the one left behind, but separation from our children. It’s not supposed to be this way…

Divorce is a life event never to be celebrated in my book. It has caused me so much pain over my lifetime, that it must be my calling. It hurts my heart for every child and adult that encounters it. It’s not supposed to be this way…

My prayer is that these articles comfort those who have been or are going through similar situations and that they warn others. That couples think twice, three times, four times, that they do the work needed, that they consider their examples, that they communicate, and get healthy…together. Because families are torn apart and it’s not supposed to be this way.

That they don’t just stay together for the kids. And never, if it’s abusive or unfaithful without repentance, but to show kids and others what marriage is “supposed” to be. Not easy, but strong. A union of two sinners who have to learn to forgive and how to be forgiven. A testimony to grace.

Once we “get over” the separation of the person we vowed that we never would (whole other article), the separation from our children is brutal.

I’m about to embark on my first month away from my girls and my heart just aches. One week away at camp pales in comparison to a month away. It’s not supposed to be this way..

I know divorced moms do this all the time. I also know it’s hard for them all. I know some travel, some rest, some work more, and some just sulk. I plan to do all of the above. I need to….

The ache in my heart reminds me that Jesus can feel it too. It reminds me of how it was the separation from His Father on the cross that killed him. It wasn’t the physical pain, it was THAT pain that He cried out over. “Father, why have you forsaken Me?”

Sin separates us from our Father. He took on ALL of our sin so that we would never feel the separation that He did. This separation needed to happen in order for us to never be separated again.  And, it killed Him. He knows the pain. It broke his heart. And, still does.

Let us keep looking to Jesus. He is the one who started this journey of faith. And he is the one who completes the journey of faith. He paid no attention to the shame of the cross. He suffered there because of the joy he was looking forward to. Then he sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:2 (NIRV)

Do you know that this “JOY” He looked forward to as He was beaten, nailed to a cross, and separated from His Father for absolutely nothing He did Himself was being with us forever! That outcome was worth all the pain He endured. Oh, how He yearns for that day too. He must after what He was willing to do in order for it to happen.

I also get the pain that dads feel separated from their kids. I get it. I’m married to one who misses his. While mine will be gone, we’re happy to have his kids for a month. But, we both know that they have a mama who will be missing them too. We both agree that it’s not supposed to be this way. Kids shouldn’t have to pick or miss the other parents. We didn’t bring them into the world to share them. Neither of us.

We both KNOW why God hates divorce.

Whether it’s camp, college, divorce, distance, or death, may the Lord comfort us in our separation and may it be a blatant reminder of how much He hates separation too. Enough to die for it. May He fill in the gaps as only He can.

Last night all I wanted to do was spend time with my girls. They were both caught up with their friends and games. They don’t understand. But, my husband (who does) sent them to spend time with me. He knows the hurt and that time is always ticking….He knows because his time ticks too.

Next month, I’ll lean on him and the people God sends who will listen, care, and accompany me. And, may all of you other separated parents do the same.

Because, it’s not supposed to be this way…..And, because of the separation Jesus endured, one sweet day it won’t be.

The Best and Worst of Times..

To say the last seven years have been hard would be an understatement. There were times I thought it would kill me or admit me. But God…

He sustained me.

This morning, I’m sitting in my new office in our new house. The space I set up to write. My loving husband asleep upstairs (there were times I never knew if I would be able to write those words). Our kids asleep. Our dogs asleep. Home. A beautiful new home (there were times I never thought I’d write those words).

I knew I wanted them all (a loving husband, a new home, a book)..but THE PROCESS of each one seemed insurmountable.

I’ve received all three of these in three months. To say the last three months have been a whirlwind would be an understatement. But, God…

He will steady me.

I didn’t just want a husband, I wanted a faithful, loving, God-fearing one who lived here and loved me enough to commit and to wait. At fourty years old. And, I would have waited until eighty if I’d had to. I knew I’d only have peace with a man like I’d want for my own daughters one day…

I wanted a new house that gave us more room, but I wanted a very similar location. Just more room. We hoped to move this summer, but when we listed our house last month, we had an offer and signed contract in ten hours. Our pictures hadn’t even been uploaded yet! This was happening so much sooner than we’d planned. One month after getting married and we were packing up. Time to find the new place…

Done. And less than a mile away. I look around and still can’t believe it’s mine.

I was a single mom for seven years. My girls were one and five, too young to realize what was going on, too young to understand, too young to have a clue what was happening or how hurt I was by it all.

At the time, I thought how unfair that was on top of everything else. I didn’t want any of it. And, I sure didn’t want to share them, they were still literally my babies. One in diapers, the other in pull ups.

For five of those years, I bled all over my keyboard. As God would speak to my heart, I would write. I would hope the words would one day somehow touch others. I would wait for the next topic and look for His lessons in each and every heartache. In the midst of the pain and loneliness and stress and confusion and grief. I would listen and ask what I needed to know. And, still do.

I can’t clearly express the pain I’ve experienced, I’m sure there are many of you reading this who can’t either. Pain can’t be put into words, it’s felt in the heart. But, so is God.

Our words could never do Him justice, but still we write and praise and sing.

He may have spoken light and animals and plants into existence. But, He BREATHED us to life. So, with every breath, may I return my gratitude for His mercy, His faithfulness, His presence, His forgiveness, His desires in my heart.

With every breath, may I thank Him for not only what I have now, but for the past seven years of what felt like my desert. Because, it was in those seven years, that He was not only my Savior, but my husband, our provider, my sustainer. He is the giver of every single good gift that we have and there are many.

Even in pain, He gives. And, what I needed the most in my whole life was Him. He revealed Himself to me in that pain. So, I thank Him for it!

My husband with a heart for Him wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for those seven years. This house wouldn’t be ours if He hadn’t sold ours when He did. My book wouldn’t be written, much less published, if I hadn’t experienced that pain with Him. He called me to write long ago, but I didn’t have the content.

To Him be the glory of it all.

“I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten—the great locust and the young locust,
the other locusts and the locust swarm—my great army that I sent among you. You will have plenty to eat, until you are full, and you will praise the name of the Lord your God, who has worked wonders for you; never again will my people be shamed.”
Joel 2:25-26 (NIV)

 

 

I’m Just Your Mom..

This title keeps bouncing around in my mind. Time to write…

It came to me when I was driving my oldest daughter to school a couple weeks ago. It was cold and she was leaving on a class trip that morning. Coldest weekend so far this year and she was leaving for a class trip a few hours away.

All she wanted to take to fend off the cold was a sweatshirt. She told me over and over again that’s all she’d wear. Still, I insisted she bring a coat, my ski coat, because it was the warmest one in the house. I told her she’d be thankful for it, that she’d want it.

She didn’t agree.

So much so, I was pretty sure it would get left behind somewhere. In a car, at the hotel, at the school. She didn’t want it. It was cold, wet, and getting colder.

I could send the coat, but I couldn’t make her wear it. I couldn’t make her remember it. I couldn’t make her want it. As hard as it would be to force her to wear it even if I were physically with her, I wouldn’t be. So, I had no control over whether she would wear it or not. Just make it available and hope that she’d not only wear it, but actually bring it home.

Makes me think of how we, as moms, love our kids like no other. We have a lot of “power” when it comes to where we let our kids physically go when they are young. But, we can’t control everything and we can’t make all their choices for them. So much is out of our hands. We may “control” some of their activities, but we can’t control their hearts or minds. We only have so much. The love is infinite, but the control is minute.

As much as I hope she learns from my mistakes, forgives me for them, and chooses Jesus for herself, I can’t make her. Only pray and hope that she does and brings Him to her home one day.

All this from how little control I had over whether she wore the coat I sent or not.

Her life’s path is different from mine. God has a specific purpose in mind for her. My prayer is she follows IT. Him. And, that takes a lot of trust in her and Him from me.

We can take our kids to school and put friends in front of them, but we can’t make them choose them for themselves. We can allow phones or not, but we can’t control their friends devices. We can take them to church or not, but we can’t control their desire for  God.  We can make them food, but we can’t pick their food when they are away from us or make them like certain things. So much is theirs to control. So much more than I ever knew prior.

We can make them say they are sorry, but we can’t make them mean it or truly forgive. We can’t make them stay faithful or pick their spouse. We can’t control their spouses hearts or actions either.

I can send a coat, but I can’t make you wear it.

I can’t make you value yourself. Just hope and pray you do. I can’t put Jesus in your heart. Only pray you do.

I hope, as scary as this may sound to us moms, that it also helps us relieve the coat of all the pressure. There’s a lot we can do for our kids. But, so much that we can’t and is God’s job.

All I can do is the best I can at all of the above with God’s help, pray some of it rubs off,  and that the bad stuff falls away by His grace alone.

I heard after the trip that she not only wore the coat, but was so thankful she had it. Made me smile and strengthened my resolve that I sent it regardless of her resistance. I high fived myself in my mind. Go, Mom!

I gave birth to you and carried you, but He formed you and gives you life to this day.

I can wear my coat and hope you do too. But, I can’t control your heart. Only keep turning it over.

After all, He’s your Savior. I’m just your mom.

Brace Yourselves..

I’m writing this in the middle of the ocean…on a cruise ship. On our honeymoon. I haven’t written since Christmas. To say I’ve been busy is an understatement. From a new job to a wedding, my mind has been preoccupied. I’ll write more on that later..

But today, the waves are crashing. The wind is blowing. Our breakfast dishes are swaying and vibrating from the windy conditions outside. This is the rockiest the boat has been all week. I’m hearing it’s because we are moving from 80 degree weather to, from what I hear, the 30s.

Two fronts colliding in the Gulf of Mexico.

Last weekend, we had a 70 degree outdoor wedding. In February! Completely unexpected. And today, one week later, I hear it’s COLD, as we expected it to be on the big day. We live in Texas, so you really never know what to expect weather wise. We laugh about it because it’s so true…

As the ship rocks back and forth on our last day, I can’t help but think about transition. We are heading back to our new lives as husband and wife, parents to four children rather than two each. Huge transition! The Lord says “Expect the wind, expect the rocky times, expect the unknown, but I am with you. As I always have been.”

Just like moving between warm and cold fronts, with all change, comes movement, uneasiness, new challenges, and at times, fear. This boat is rocking, but I fully expect it to get me where He knows I need to be.

The captain of this cruise ship could see the rocky conditions coming and turn around for fear of sick or scared passengers or continue full steam ahead. We all have that choice.

We have to be willing to sustain the wind in order to keep moving forward…Home is the goal for the captain and all of us aboard.

The devil can throw all kinds of wind and debris at us, and He has. But, the Holy Spirit is also referenced to us Wind in the Bible. So, when the waves are crashing and we are grabbing at hand rails to keep our balance, we need to trust that the Lord is stronger still. One breath of God brings life.

We want to share the love of Jesus and wherever we can be used for Him most, we ask Him to take us. Amidst the storms only He can calm, we will endure and trust Him.

Whatever brings You glory, Lord! We will rock with and for You…You alone are our steady.

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??

Two Points..

Last week I had the privilege of sharing a worship thought with my daughter’s middle school basketball team. I’d love to also share here…

Fouls are part of the game in basketball. More than likely, you won’t play the season or even a game without getting fouled or fouling someone else. Sometimes they are intentional, you know that player. But most of the time they are accidental. Nonetheless, fouls will get called and a free throw will be given because of it. Two free points available…

In life, we also foul each other and get fouled. To forgive these fouls keeps us moving forward in peace and love. Don’t be that person who fouls on purpose, you just gave your opponent two possible free points. But, know that when you’re fouled, you’ll get those two free points too. We can’t out foul God’s grace. Scripture says it is sufficient. (2 Corinthians 12:9)

Sometimes the free points are received and sometimes they are not, but they are always offered. Isn’t this also so much like the grace of God? We are allowed a swish of grace each and every time we foul. But, this grace isn’t cheap. It was bought by His death. His grace was given when He walked this earth and died for us. I am SO thankful for this gift! Because as long as I’m on this earth, I know I’ll foul others. May they receive His grace. May I. May we know that even if the two points are not scored, it was still offered.

What about those fouls that happen and don’t get called? No free throw doesn’t equal no grace. God still sees. And, His grace is still there. Trust Him in that and offer forgiveness anyway. He sees that too. Even if the referee doesn’t. Offer him grace too. Us humans miss things. We just do.

No harm, no foul takes on a whole new meaning when it comes to life. But, just like in the game of basketball, fouls are a part of life. May we give and receive grace as often as those fouls are given and received. This is God’s will for us.

Jesus said: “If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you.  But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Matthew 6:14-15 (NLT)

When we see a free throw taken in the game of basketball, may we always think of the grace God offers after a foul. And may we offer it to others as freely as He offers it to us. So that ours will also be forgiven.

The ball may miss the basket, but His grace never does and we all need it.

 

FREEDOM!

When we hear the word “slave”, the opposite of freedom comes to mind…

Nonetheless, we are FREE to choose (God doesn’t force). We are FREE to love (God made us to). We are FREE to worship (God delights in it). We are FREE to live (Make choices). Thank GOD we live in a country with so many freedoms.

Paul calls himself a slave to Christ many places in the scripture. This is because He was sold out to the gospel. He came from a place of strict Jewish upbringing. He knew the law and followed the rules, better than anyone else in his expert opinion. He condemned and even killed those who didn’t.

Until Jesus Christ Himself shut Saul down (put scales over his eyes) and opened his heart (reopened his eyes) to the truth of who He was and why He died, he persecuted others for believing it. It was then, that Jesus revealed that He died for Saul (the one who thought he lived perfectly), for all of us. No one else could have convinced him, he would have spit on anyone who even tried.

What a stark difference to what he writes here…

Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. — Paul (1 Timothy 1:15)

On the road to Damascus, Paul’s name and life was forever changed. He was set free and became a slave (servant) at the same time.

As Jesus followers today, we are freed from the bondage of all kinds of things as we learn what it means to be in personal relationship with Him. He reveals more and more each step of the journey with Him. To live as a slave to Christ is freedom from other people’s opinions, agendas….desires for you. Whatever He speaks to your heart and through His Word is the direction you find yourself starting to move.

To follow Jesus may look differently to people. He calls us to different ministries and mission fields as distinctly as He entrusts us with different gifts. Going His direction is the freedom He calls us to. He breaks the chains of the direction our ultimate enemy wants us to go.

Satan plants circumstances and earthly enemies in our paths to deter us. But, Jesus tells us how to deal with both of these. (Give thanks in all circumstances and forgive and pray for our enemies). They are only pawns in our ultimate enemy’s plan for us.

Personal relationship with Jesus breaks those chains and we start to follow Him…We want to when our eyes and hearts are opened to His love for us.

Paul went from persecuting those who followed Jesus to preaching why we all should. Because He is the answer. His grace saves us. This is what it means to be a slave to Christ instead of the world or to people. To think there is anything other than the blood of Jesus that can save us or anything that could keep Him from loving us is to live in bondage rather than the freedom of Christ. He never stops loving us. He’s already chosen us, but He also allows us to choose. A forced love is not true loyalty or love in return.

I am both humbled and honored to use my gift to proclaim His name and my 100% dependency on Him. I know there is no other way to do it. I pray my kids do the same, but even if they do not, may my heart’s cry never change. That He loves us better than anyone ever has or will. That what the enemy throws at us can and will be used for the good of those who love Him. And that God is good no matter what Satan wants us to think.

We take every thought captive and make it obey Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:5 (GNT)

His love is the freedom we’ve been looking for. He loves you. Learn it. Live it. Become a slave to it…Ironically, as a slave to Christ, more freedom than you’ve ever experienced will come from it.

If we are free to choose, so are others. Respect yourself and respect other people’s choices. We are called to share His love with others, but there is also a whole lot only the Holy Spirit can do. Release yourself from the Holy Spirit’s roll in people’s lives. Share His love and release.

This is another way the Kingdom of God is polar opposite from the world’s…In slavery, there is freedom. Who/what are you a slave to?