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.

Is Different Wrong?

Yes, different is scary. But, different isn’t necessarily “wrong”. That’s the fear. That stepping out from how something has always been done is wrong. It goes along with how thinking differently than someone else must be “wrong”. Someone somewhere had to go against the grain and expectations of others to get you to where you are today.

Pray. Ask for yourself. God speaks to each one of us individually. That’s relationship. As parents, we hope to have special and individual relationships with each of our kids. So does God. Not only does He want it, but we don’t realize how much we do, until we do.

Our choices and paths will be different. God wants them to be. Our kids are different, He made them that way. Siblings are different, spouses are different, parents are different.

We are each created with different love languages, preferences, needs, sources of comfort, and talents. But, we are all created by the same GOD. Who loves each of us like crazy. May we lean into Him when He calls us to be different. When He calls us to choose differently. And trust Him like crazy when He does.

Different isn’t wrong, it’s just different. And we were all created differently. Because He wants us to reach the world, not just our neighborhood. But, also our neighborhood.

There are missionaries called to remote islands and also to our workplaces. Poverty stricken communities and also to reach the wealthy. Abused women and happily married women. Teenagers and widows. The motherless and the fatherless. The kids in private school and the kids in public school. The kids in dance class and the kids on the basketball team. The kids in the band and the kids on the field. The doctors and the patients. Single men and single women. Married men and divorced men. The mom who lost her child and the mom who has a dozen at home. The person who was cheated and the one who cheated. The porn addict and the food addict. We all need Him in very different ways. Thank GOD for those with callings to reach each. May we each reach one.

Even Paul and Barnabas had a “falling out” of sorts. Both men of God, different callings who went their separate ways because of it. To do God’s will and reach people they couldn’t have reached together. I trust God used the painful disagreement and separation. They stayed focused on spreading the gospel as He called them to different regions. Regions these days can be viewed as schools, churches, states, countries, workplaces, ministries.

The Bible says we were fearfully and wonderfully made, so it makes sense that we would also be fearfully and wonderfully called out. Separately. That’s the God we serve. He has a distinct purpose for you. We are not meant to be cookie cutters of how we were raised or how our parents were raised or even how they served. He made each one of us with a distinct calling.

My kids too. If I want them to be brave, then Mama should be too.

Go where He sends you. And, I can’t wait to hear and see the hearts you touch.

In Your Heart

It’s not in your day job or side gig. Your credentials or diplomas. It’s not in your trophies or alma maters. It’s not in your bank account or retirement account. It’s not in your likes or followers. It’s not in the concerts you attend or the books that you read. It’s not in the movies that you watch or the instruments that you play. It’s not in the spouse that you have or the child that you raise. It’s not in the school you attend or choir you join. It’s not in your social status or relationship status. It’s not in the car you drive or the boat you own…

It’s not in your parents choices or your grandparents wishes. It’s not in your past heartaches or future concerns.  It’s not in your mistakes, accomplishments, regrets, or failures. It’s not in your report cards or paychecks.

It’s in your heart.

The decision each one of us makes day after day as to whom we will serve, lean on, and trust is our own. Your spouse can’t make it. Your parents can’t make it. They may try, but they can’t. As a parent myself now, this is terrifying, but I turn this over. Over and over. My kids will make their own choices. As will I. As will you.

To love the Lord our God with all our heart, mind, and soul may look different to people. It may lead to choices others may not make. He gives us different gifts, passions, and paths. When we ask Him to lead, our lives may take directions we’d never choose on our own. But, the beauty before us is a life lived trusting Him. Let God be your guide.

We find Him in our trials, we help others with what we’ve learned, and we choose Him day after day. In the ups and the downs, we have faith He is with us. And, it’s in THIS faith, that our strength is found. Our callings may be every bit as different as the circumstances we face. But, pointing to the same God, brings us together in one accord.

Brothers and sisters. Hearts to hearts. Trials to trials. Victories to victories. Peace and strength abounds. In one name. The name of Jesus.

 

Laser Focus

laser-focus

The closer I get to Jesus, the less legalistic and judgmental I get. I think this is because the closer we get to Him, the more our own imperfections are highlighted. Not in a bad way, but in a way that helps us realize we need Him more than ever and how much we are all alike. Sinners searching.

Do not judge others, so that God will not judge you, for God will judge you in the same way you judge others, and he will apply to you the same rules you apply to others. Matthew 7:1-2 (GNT)

The closer I get to Jesus, although my own sinfulness is exposed, His love is amplified. He loves me anyway.

The closer I get to Jesus, the more I can empathize. Rather than seeing rebellion and hatefulness, I see the hurt behind it. I don’t necessarily engage or react like I used to (at least I try not to), but I do understand why it’s there. They are either trying to earn a love that is already there or they are not feeling the love that is already there. Both scenarios are sad. In these circumstances, remind yourself of His unwavering love and pray. Pray they will feel the Love they need. The Love we all need. The Love that is already there.

The closer I get to Jesus, the other “stuff” doesn’t seem to matter as much. A bad day at work is just that. A misunderstanding with a friend is an opportunity to grow. A temper tantrum thrown is an opportunity to practice patience. A tight month financially is an opportunity to trust. A critical comment is an opportunity to test my faith. A rejection is an opportunity to test my resolve. A mistake is an opportunity to show grace.

The closer I get to Jesus, the more thankful I get. It’s because of His love that any of us are here and it’s because of His love that we get to live with Him forever. It’s because of Jesus that I fight the fear to share. And, it’s because of Him, that I get to.

The closer we get to Jesus, the more He shines. My goal on this earth is to walk as closely as I can with my Jesus until that blessed day I get to look Him in the face….

Where is your focus? On the problem? The fight? The hardship? Focus on Jesus, take His hand, and don’t look down. Look full in His wonderful face. With laser focus on Him, the things of this earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace….

Missing Pieces…

missing

I was raised in the Seventh-day Adventist (SDA) church. I’m a product of SDA schools. Elementary, high school, and even colleges….I was raised a certain way and no other way.

I’ve struggled. I struggled with the legalism that I felt was an inherent part of our faith. I still do. It hurts my heart like I think it does God’s. The unconditional love and grace of God was missing for me. As my personal relationship with God grows and I get to know Him better, I see how legalism breaks His heart every bit as much as refusal to obey.

Legalism will leave you scratching your head thinking “well if not this, what about that?” “If this isn’t okay, why is that?” It’s a never ending cycle of hypocrisy and confusion.

Keeping the Sabbath growing up wasn’t a heart thing for me, it was required, plain and simple. We had very specific rules that we had to follow that felt like nothing short of ridiculousness to me. They literally did not make sense to me and I knew I couldn’t justify raising my kids that way…So, I don’t. But, they do know about the Sabbath. They know it matters to me. Because I do believe it matters to God. I think it’s a special day set aside by Him, for us.

Seventh-day Adventists get accused of harping on the seventh day Sabbath. In my personal journey, I’ve come to realize that what feels like harping to others, is just them not ignoring it. They recognize it, acknowledge it. Strive to honor all ten commandments, instead of just the nine. This is different from most other churches, so they find themselves having to explain it quite a bit which sounds like harping to those who don’t agree.

They REMEMBER the seventh day to keep it holy just like it says to in the 4th commandment. And, yes, this is different. But, if “Thou shalt not lie” was ignored by most and one denomination decided to take it under their wing, they’d be accused of harping on that. Those “Sabbath keepers” would turn into those “Not liars”. Doesn’t make sense.

Most people don’t argue that the other nine should be honored as the Word of God. But because they do still find it relevant and just as important as the other nine, they strive to keep it as well.

It makes sense to me and although I know I could never do it perfectly, that’s why Jesus came. It’s a heart thing, not an outward actions thing.

“Keeping it” looks different to everyone. There seems to be quite a bit of hostility over this belief because it’s different and challenges how life is set up for most people these days. I understand the challenge. But, what I don’t understand is how it can be dismissed and shrugged off as unimportant so easily and completely. It’s neatly tucked right in the middle of all the other commandments that are collectively agreed upon as important. Why is it left out? Why has it been disregarded?

Will I keep any of the commandments perfectly? No. Have I? No. That’s why Jesus sent His Son to die for us because we are UNABLE to keep God’s law perfectly. He knew we needed a sacrifice. The ultimate sacrifice. This is why we don’t sacrifice animals anymore to atone for our sins. He satisfied that. The perfect Lamb fulfilled the law. He did not abolish the law. Nowhere in the Bible does it say, please keep all the commandments, except the 4th (now that Jesus has died).

What broke Jesus’s heart and caused Him anger was how the Pharisees “kept” it. Looking to accuse Jesus of anything, they got angry when He healed someone on the Sabbath day (Mark 3:1-6). Are you kidding me?? They couldn’t heal anyone on any day of the week! Their hearts were in the wrong place. Jesus lived without sin and died for ours, so that we can be found blameless in the eyes of our Father. In light of this truth, I will still attempt to obey.

If you obey my commandments, you will live in my love. I have obeyed my Father’s commandments, and in that way I live in His love. I have told you this so that you will be as joyful as I am, and your joy will be complete. John 15:10-11 (GW)

True love WANTS to honor. I am fully convinced of the Seventh day Sabbath. I am not fully convinced on how to keep it. I think that’s personal between you and God. What brings you peace and alignment with Him. I do think it’s a special day and a gift, just like all of God’s commands are.

I am aware that Jesus says “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath” in Mark 2:27.  He said this when he was, once again, extremely irritated with the Pharisees for calling Him out for picking grain to eat on the Sabbath! Beyond frustrating because their hearts were all wrong. This is how I felt growing up, beyond frustrated. The Sabbath felt like an idol, and sometimes still does. More important than Jesus Himself. I imagined Jesus scratching His head as we followed the rules we were told we had to. Wondering why we focused so much more on that than on Him and His love and sacrifice for us.

God rested on the seventh day of creation, blessed it, and made it holy (Genesis 2:2). He asks us to rest on the seventh day and remember it (Exodus 20:8). Who doesn’t want a rest? A spiritually appointed rest? A divine excuse to stop what you’re doing, reflect on Him, spend time with your loved ones, relax, help and love on others, and trust God to provide. That sounds amazing! Not at all like a burden or an obligation. A requirement that I WANT to sign up for! Like the naps we despised as children and beg for as adults.

Don’t get me wrong here, I’ll happily go to church any day of the week. I love church. I love church service. I love praise music. I love being with other believers who love Jesus. I have no fundamental issue going to church on a Sunday, but because of my own personal conviction, I do have a fundamental reason for remembering the seventh day as special and set aside. I believe it’s mentioned over and over again for a reason. In others churches, I found the love and grace, but the 4th commandment was missing….Something was always missing.

I think God knew this commandment in particular would be forgotten or done away with. I think that’s exactly why He started this particular commandment with “Remember” as opposed to “Thou shalt not”. Do you think it would make a difference? Do you think if He had put “Thou shalt not forget the Sabbath day” like the others that more people would take note? Interesting thought.

Nonetheless, He put “Remember”. So, I will do just that. Humbly attempt to keep His Word and fully rely on His grace in my weakness is all I can do with a love like this.

Something was always missing in the puzzle to me….What’s your missing piece?

If this article leads to anything on your part, I pray it’s to study for yourself. Ask Him for yourself. Follow His leading. What does the Bible say? All of it. New and old testament. Pray about it. Ask God if it matters. In my opinion, if anything matters to God, it should matter to us. If it doesn’t, it shouldn’t.

Accountability?

accountability

Who are you accountable to? A few people pop into my mind…my boss, my kids and when I was married, my husband. Do you ever think about the fact that we are all accountable to God? At the end of time, we will be face to face with Him. Not these other people who we try to live and do right for. What about Him? Ultimately, it comes down to Him and me.

This fact actually helps me with forgiveness when I struggle. We will be held accountable by God Himself for our actions and reactions. How we live and what we do is seen whether we choose to think about it or not. Confession isn’t for God, it’s for us. Newsflash! He already knows. He’s God. And, He loves us anyway. Just get real with Him. Be real with your weakness, ask forgiveness, make amends, and move on….loved.

Knowing we are loved leads to a desire to obey. It rarely works the other way around. “Why should I do what you want me to do? And , if I do, it’s only because you’re forcing me”. We want to please those who truly love us as a way to honor them. We want to show our love, not just say it. We all know anyone can say “I love you”, the truth comes in the actions that follow and/or precede this term. Love is sacrifice. Love is patient and kind. Love perseveres and honors truth. Love never fails. We don’t have to be loved in return to love. We can choose to love anyway through our thoughts and prayers and let them be, if necessary.

As we go through our days and make our choices, remember who we are ultimately accountable to. I could trust a man who knows he’s accountable to Almighty God, not just me. If he is aware and seeking to honor God in his own life daily, I could trust him with mine. Neither one of us would be perfect, but we would both know that our actions towards each other are accountable to God and that would keep us on the same page. That’s a blessing and that’s being equally yoked. Once again, God knows best.

One of my dear friends gave me a book yesterday and on the inside cover she wrote a beautiful note. She signed with “Your accountability partner”. She didn’t know I was writing about accountability. She didn’t know I desired an accountability partner. But, God did. Her gift and love has been a blessing to me. I’m thankful for friends who lean on and look to God for accountability in their lives. They can help me with mine.

As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend. –Proverbs 27:17

Let us continue to help each other, love each other, and look to God for our accountability. He knows best and loves us the most.

 

What More Can I Give?

give

I was thinking today about how Jesus is the reason for the Christmas season, and so much more. God gave us the most lavish gift of sacrifice and salvation when He gave us His son. Jesus willingly became human in our broken world so that we could live with Him forever in His perfect one. He set the bar. Now, that’s a gift!! What more can I give?

When we buy for our loved ones, we try to think about what they would like personally. Some prefer experiences, others food, some sparkly things in little boxes, dolls that walk or talk, or trucks that dump and demolish. My girls asked for Legos and walkie-talkies this year. Bingo! Makes it easy to shop when there’s a list.

But, what can I give Jesus? Does He have a Christmas list? If so, what would be on it? Let’s not forget to give to the true Reason for the Season. I think near the top of Jesus’s Christmas list would be our TRUST, our TIME, and to TELL others about Him and what He’s done for us. Trust, time, tell. These are treasures in all of our relationships. It takes faith to trust, dedication to spend time, and courage to tell others. It’s no different in our personal relationship with Jesus. He doesn’t need us, He wants us. He chose us. He died for us. So, what more can I give?

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:21

God’s gift of His Son was the greatest gift we have ever or will ever receive. The ultimate treasure. What are we holding on to? That is our treasure. What are we holding back? That is our treasure and that is what He wants. Our hearts are naturally stubborn and scared. But, God’s presence in our lives will transform our hearts. He loves us right where we are and too much to leave us there. His presence will prompt us to follow Him and fight our fears rather than succumb to them.

Trust. Time. Tell. Treasure……My heart. What more can I give you, Jesus? Thank You for the best gift ever. You.