Does your pride keep you from loving well?

Does your pride keep you from loving well?

Oh, pride.   The word in itself has so many different meanings.  We take pride in our country.  We pride ourselves on our accomplishments.  I’m proud of my children when they meet their goals.  I’m proud of the hard work I put into that project.  I’m too proud to admit that I let my children’s behavior dictate my feelings toward them sometimes.  I was too proud to admit I was wrong in an argument with my husband.  My pride keeps me from humbling myself and letting God work in my heart.

 

While feeling proud of hard work or an accomplish may seem innocent enough, I have found that many times I let that feeling of being proud turn into arrogant pride.  I took credit for the things that God accomplished.  You see, I now know good and well that I would never have been able to accomplish some of the things I have without Him.

 

Is your pride keeping you from loving others well? Jump into this 30-day Scripture writing plan and let God do His refining work in your heart!

 

My career has been a perfect example of this.  Several years ago, I taught middle school English.  I was a good teacher.  I knew it.  My data proved it.  I received the affirmations from my students and my administration.  Other teachers were sent to my classroom to see how they should be running their classrooms.  Oh gracious me… I found myself in such a heaping pile of pride that I couldn’t see straight.  I can see now how much damage and hurt I caused the teachers around me.  My friends.  I was absolutely not giving God credit for the great things happening in my classroom.  Sure, I acknowledged that He gave me gifts as a teacher, but it was MY doing that increased those students scores.  It was MY doing that the administration applauded my accomplishments.  Those other teachers should be doing things MY way.

 

Thankfully, God has done some bigtime work in changing my heart.  And if I’m brutally honest, it hurt.  I was humbled…. rather, my pride humiliated me.  True humility came later.  And it’s still an area where I’m still being refined.

 

In Luke 18:9-14, we read the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector.

Then, Jesus told this story to some who had great confidence in their own righteousness ans scorned everyone else: “Two men went to the Temple to pray.  One was a Pharisee, and the other was a despised tax collector.  The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed this prayer: ‘I thank You, God, that I am not like other people – cheaters, sinners, adulterers.  I’m certainly not like that tax collector! I fast twice a week, and I give You a tenth of my income.’ 

But the tax collector stood at a distance and dared not even lift his eyes to heaven as he prayed.  Instead, he beat his chest in sorrow saying, ‘O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner.’ I tell you, this sinner, not the Pharisee, returned home justified before God. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

 

Oh how I’ve been that Pharisee.  How I’ve judged and exalted myself above others.  By the grace of God, I can see how He’s working in me.  I hate my pride.  I pray regularly for Him to continue to humble my heart so I can love those around me.  I’m so thankful that God is a redeeming and faithful God.

Is your pride keeping you from loving others well?  Jump into this 30-day Scripture writing plan and let God do His refining work in your heart!

Starting on August 1, I challenge each of you to work through this Scripture-writing plan over pride.  I pray that God will move mountains to remove these hearts of stone that we hold on to.  I pray that we will humble ourselves to see where our pride has damaged relationships.  I pray that we will see where where we can love instead of judge.

 

Please join us.  I’ll be posting over in our Gather & Dwell Facebook group.  We’ll continue the conversation, pray for each other, and encourage each other as God does His refining and redeeming work in our hearts.  I’m so excited to see where He leads us through this next month!

 


 

 

 

20 Psalms for Your Prayer Time

20 Psalms for Your Prayer Time

Happy Thursday!  I’ve received a few messages that some of you are waiting on the Write the Word plan for July.  First, I’d like to say that I am beyond thrilled that you all are enjoying those and that they are blessing you.  They are so fun to write and I love spending that intentional time each morning with the Lord.  I’m glad they are serving you in that same way!  With that being said, the next plan will be published at the end of this month, for a start date of August 1.  For the month of July, I have something else for each of you!

 

A few years ago, a sweet friend of mine made prayer rings for each lady in our small group.  They were simple rings of index cards that she tabbed with each category of prayer.  Many of us use the ACTS model of prayer, so she included Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication.  Each of us used these rings in our own way, and they were such an incredible impact for our prayer lives.

 

In my prayer ring, I wrote verses for each of the categories.  As I’m in my prayer time, I would pray through a verse or two from each category as I added my own prayers.  I found that praying a verse first helped focus my mind on what exactly it was that I was praying.  I mean, let’s be honest… our minds tend to wander as we pray (at least mine does).  Side note: I’ve been of the mindset that we should not let ourselves feel guilty or shame over a wandering mind.  Often, those are the very things that we should be handing over to God in prayer instead of dwelling on it ourselves.

 

So today I’m starting you off with your own set of verses!  I’m giving you five Psalms for each category.  If you create your own prayer rings, I would encourage you to add to this list as you pray.  As you come across a verse that you love, jot it down and pray over it!  Also, if you would like to share the verses you find, please use #praytheword and we can all bless each other!

 

Looking to be more intentional in your prayer time? #PraytheWord with these Psalms each morning!

 

 

A ~ Adoration 

During a time of adoration, praise God for who He is.  This is not about you, but all about Him.  As I’m praying these, I love to listen to hymns or a favorite worship song.

 

Psalm 52:9 ~ I will praise You forever for what You have done.  In the presence of Your faithful people, I will put my hope in Your name, for it is good.

 

Psalm 63:5 ~ You satisfy me as with rich food; my mouth with praise You with joyful lips.

 

Psalm 139:13-14 ~ For it was You who created my inward parts; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I will praise You because I have been remarkably and wonderfully made.  Your works are wonderful, and I know this very well.

 

Psalm 96:1 ~ Sing a new song to the Lord; sing to the Lord, all the earth.  Sing to Yahweh, praise His name; proclaim His salvation from day to day.

 

Psalm 135:3 ~ Praise Yahweh, for Yahweh is good; sing praise to His name, for it is delightful.

 

C ~ Confession

During a time of confession, get humble and be real about where you have fallen short.  I have a series of questions that I ask myself to really dig deep.

 

Psalm 51:10-12 ~ God, create a clean heart for me and renew a steadfast spirit within me.  Do not banish me from Your presence or take Your Holy Spirit from me.  Restore the joy of Your salvation to me and give me a willing spirit.

 

Psalm 32:5 ~ Then I acknowledged my sin to You and did not conceal my iniquity.  I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,” and You took away the guilt of my sin.

 

Psalm 19:12 ~ Who perceives his unintentional sin?  Cleanse me from my hidden faults.

 

Psalm 25:11 ~ Because of Your name, Yahweh, forgive my sin, for it is great.

 

Psalm 69:5 ~ God, You know my foolishness, and my guilty acts are not hidden from You.

 

T ~ Thanksgiving

During a time of thanksgiving, give sincere thanks for His goodness.  His blessings are abundant, and we should be living with grateful hearts.  There is always, always, always something to be thankful for!

 

Psalm 100:4-5 ~ Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise.  Give thanks to Him and praise His name.  For Yahweh is good, and His love is eternal; His faithfulness endures through all generations.

 

Psalm 69:30 ~ I will praise God’s name with song and exalt Him with thanksgiving.

 

Psalm 75:1 ~ We give thanks to You, God; we give thanks to You, for Your name is near.  People tell about Your wonderful works.

 

Psalm 79:13 ~ Then we, Your people, the sheep of Your pasture, will thank You forever; we will declare Your praise to generation after generation.

 

Psalm 9:1-2 ~ I will thank Yahweh with all my heart; I will declare all Your wonderful works.  I will rejoice and boast about You; I will sing about Your name, Most High.

 

S ~ Supplication

During a time of supplication, ask God to give you His desires.  Seek His plan and purpose for Your life.  Go boldly before His throne and ask for what you need.  Remember that He already knows what we want, before we even ask… so pray without hesitation!

 

Psalm 5:3 ~ At daybreak, Lord, You hear my voice; at daybreak I plead my case to You and watch expectantly.

 

Psalm 34:4 ~ I sought the Lord and He answered me and delivered me from all my fears.

 

Psalm 6:9 ~ The Lord has heard my plea for help; the Lord accepts my prayer.

 

Psalm 119:169-170 ~ Let my cry reach You, Lord; give me understanding according to Your word. Let my plea reach You; rescue me according to Your promise.

 

Psalm 95:6 ~ Come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.

 

Throughout various seasons of life, I’ve found that my prayer life and daily time with the Lord looks different in each season.  There was a season when I was able to spend over an hour each morning in silence and solitude.  If I’m honest, I’m not in that same season now.  My quiet time isn’t always so quiet… and sometimes it’s broken up throughout the day.  But one thing remains the same… intentional time spent with the Lord is never wasted.  Praying the Word is something that sparks a deeper, more genuine prayer.  When I go through the intentional acts of worship, confessing my sin, and thanking Him, I find that my time of supplication isn’t as “drive through order” as it has been in the past.  My prayers are no longer just a wish list, but a desperate seeking of Him… and seeking to align my heart with His.

 

I pray that these verses bless you and spark something new in your prayer life.  Please share your #PrayTheWord and #WriteTheWord journals!  Also, if you haven’t joined the Gather & Dwell Facebook group, be sure to come join the conversation!


Why Should We Gather?

Why Should We Gather?

Happy first day of summer!  This warmer weather has me thinking about all of the backyard barbecues, family dinners, impromptu swimming parties down at the pool… all the gatherings.  I can smell the grill now!

 

One of my biggest prayers for our family is that we would be an inviting family.  I want our house to be filled with people gathering in the kitchen or around the grill… seated at the table and sharing a meal.  I want our boys to grow up hearing stories from all different kinds of people.  I want them to know that we are a family that loves ALL people, and that we love to share in their stories.

 

But you know, I don’t want it to just be about food.  While I love to eat, gathering is about so much more.   In fact, Scripture has a lot to say about gathering … both as a body of believers, and as human beings.

 

Every day they devoted themselves to meeting together in the temple complex, and broke bread from house to house.  They ate their food with a joyful and humble attitude, praising God and having favor with all the people.  And every day the Lord added to them those who were being saved.  ~ Acts 2:46-47

 

Carry one another’s burdens; in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. ~ Galatians 6:2

 

How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in harmony! ~ Psalm 133:1

 

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching. ~ Hebrews 10:24-25

 

What then is the conclusion, brothers?  Whenever you come together each one has a psalm, a teaching, a revelation, another language, or an interpretation.  All things must be done for edification.  ~ 1 Corinthians 14:26

 

Gathering together is Biblical for so many reasons….

*We honor God when we act in unity as one body of believers.

*We encourage each other toward good as we do Kingdom work.

*We praise Him with our thanks for His goodness.

*We support each other as we carry the load together.

*We create a larger body as we each bring our own skills, stories, and gifts to the table.

 

What's so important about gathering together?  What should it look like in a media-filled society with so many walls and barriers?

 

When we gather together, we are opening our homes, our hearts, our lives to each other.  In this social media driven society, sitting across the table from each other is almost a foreign concept.  Our garage doors stay closed and porch lights stay off.  How many of us have intentionally rushed inside to avoid being caught by *that* neighbor?

 

What would happen if we started inviting instead of shutting?  What would happen if we listened instead of avoided?  What would happen if we poured coffee instead of judgment?   The answer isn’t scary.  Stories would be shared.  Food would be eaten.   Friendships would be formed.  Seeds of the Gospel would be planted.

 

My friends, I want to be a family that plants seeds.  I want to be part of a community of women that encourages their families to do the same.  Will you join me in that mission?

 

The Gather & Dwell Facebook group is officially live.  I would LOVE for you to join us.  We will share simple tools for gathering around the table with your family.  We will share ideas for gathering with your neighbors and friends.  We will share resources for dwelling in His Word as we intentionally grow as daughters of the King.  Let’s gather together as we live on mission!

 

Are you ready?  If so, hop on over to Gather & Dwell and let’s connect!  I can’t wait to chat over coffee!

 

 

30 Verses to Abide in Christ

30 Verses to Abide in Christ

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Oh… it’s a beautiful day!  I’m sitting in my office with all of the blinds open.  My boys and I set some plants out on the back patio to get some sunlight.  My dog is laying outside basking in the warmth.  On days like today, it’s easy to just rest in His peace.

 

Other days… not so much.  One of the things that God has really been speaking into me lately is the idea of abiding in Him.  Not rushing His plans.  Not trying to check Bible studies off my list.  Not rushing through this season in anticipation of the next.  He’s asking me to remain in Him.

 

Dwell in His presence during this 30-day Scripture-writing plan over abiding in Christ.

 

Sometimes I know the teacher in me wants to read all the books.  I want to learn all the history.  I want to study all the things.  In this season, though, I’m hearing Him loud and clear.  I am to pause.  I am to linger a little longer in my quiet time.  I am to listen attentively to His Words.  I am to dwell in His presence.

 

Revelation 3:14 says, “‘The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Originator of God’s creations says: I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I am going to vomit you out of My mouth.'”  Yikes!

 

I most definitely do NOT want to be lukewarm.  I remember a song from my middle school youth group years.  I can’t remember most of the lyrics, but I remember the tune and words of two lines.  “I don’t want to be a casual Christian.  I don’t want to live a lukewarm life.”

 

As I’m transitioning into a season of being more present for my family, I’m longing to draw nearer to Him.  As I’m folding laundry and reading picture books… as I’m cooking dinner and gathering around the table… I’m longing to poke and prod that glowing ember in my soul until it becomes a roaring fire.

 

As we are often pulled in many directions during this day-to-day life, I encourage you to pause.   This 30-day Scripture-writing plan is designed to encourage you to linger over His Words, His commands, His love… and to dwell in His presence long after you’ve closed your Bible, gotten up from the table, and are right in the middle of the chaos of the day.  It’s designed to remind you to abide in Him.

 

Dwell in His presence during this 30-day Scripture-writing plan over abiding in Christ.

 

I’m starting today.  Join me on Instagram and use the hashtag #AbideInHim!  Also, be sure to subscribe to our newsletter and follow us on Bloglovin to never miss a post!

 

 

Menu Plan Monday {May 28, 2018}

Menu Plan Monday {May 28, 2018}

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Whew… I don’t know about your family, but for us, the month of May is exhausting!   The school year is coming to a close and that means wrapping everything up and trying to finalize things.  In particular, we are switching school districts this year, so we have an added level of finality and new beginnings.  Exciting, but exhausting.

 

There are some weeks when I plan a menu that I feel like it’s just … okay.  There’s nothing too exciting.  This week, however, I’m looking forward to the meals I’ve planned.  Knowing that I’ll have a little longer to linger in the kitchen during the days allows me to plan different meals than I can on rushed, busy nights.  It’s also getting HOT here in Texas, which means we need to squeeze in a few more patio dinners and dig into some summertime dishes!

 

Here’s what’s on the menu for this week!

Join us around the table for dinner this week!

 

Monday

Mushroom Bacon Quiche

(Can Opener Gourmet)

Warm Goat Cheese Salad

(Trader Joe’s Vegetarian)

Tuesday

Teriyaki Chicken

Carrots Glazed in Ginger-Lime Butter

(Can Opener Gourmet)

Fried Rice

Wednesday

Tomatillo Sauce Over Baked Potatoes

(Forks Over Knives Family)

Black Beans & Corn

Thursday

Taco Night!

Friday

Chicken Croissants

Green Beans

Saturday

Family Dinner Out

Snacks & Extras

Fabulous French Toast ~ First Day of Summer Vacay Breakfast

(Peas and Thank You)

Lemon Rosemary Roasted Chickpeas ~ munchy snack

(Peas and Thank You)

 

We’re linking up at I’m an Organizing Junkie’s Menu Plan Monday, so stop by over there to check out all of the menus!

 

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Our Summer Study {Breakfast with the Bible}

Our Summer Study {Breakfast with the Bible}

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Whew!  It’s the weekend!  I don’t know about you, but this week has definitely got me looking forward to summer!  I’m ready for the pause.  The months of April and May seem to stretch and pull our family in different directions.  I’m looking forward to the chance to breathe and to spend some intentional time connecting as a family.

 

While I’m looking forward to the next few months, I’ve also spent some time reflecting on the past school year.  I’ve watched my boys grow and mature over the past several months.  I’ve watched their friendships go through hills and valleys.  I’ve watched how the changes in this season of life affected them.  I’ve picked up on a few key areas where I’d like to be intentional in shepherding each of them.

 

During this season, I’m excited for the lazy mornings that allow us to spend a little more time gathered around the table.  I’m excited for the conversations that are able to flow and happen naturally… and not interrupted every few minutes with a reminder to pack a lunch, find their shoes, grab their backpacks.

 

Each summer, we spend our breakfast time in something that we call “Breakfast with the Bible.”  During the school year, we tend to find shorter devotionals or stories that are read before bed.  I enjoy those devotionals, and we’ve found a rhythm that has really been great this year.  But during the summer, we get to dig into a more detailed study.  My oldest especially will get to see the difference between a devotional and a full study.  We’ll get to spend more time with our Bibles open and pouring over passages.  I can’t wait.

 

Sit around the table with us as we chat about our summer Bible study selections ... for preschoolers all the way through adults!

 

I’m excited today to be able to share with you our final selections for this summer’s Breakfast with the Bible.  I always get asked what exactly we DO during this time.  It’s nothing super fancy, but here it is!

 

As I’m preparing breakfast, I turn on some sort of worship music.  Last year, we listened to a lot of Cedarmont Kids.  So many of these songs take me back to my childhood and the boys love the modern sound.  The music is a signal that I’m ready for them to come to the kitchen.

 

This year, because each boy will have his own study, we’ll do a bit of flip-flopping.  After we’re all at the table, I’ll start with Buddy Boy’s story.  For his particular Bible time, we’ll be using the Love & Kindness Bible Stories board book.  There are nine different devotions/stories, so we’ll focus on one each week.  We’ll read the story daily and then practice the memory verse.  I’m also planning to incorporate some object lessons and crafts into his time.  Other days, he’ll simply color from a Bible stories coloring book while Little Man and I work through his study.

 

 

Little Man and I will be working through a second Discover 4 Yourself study.  The first one we did, Lord, Teach me to Pray, was excellent.  I’m excited to work through this next one now that he’s a little older.  We’ll be doing Boy, Have I Got Problems.  I’ve noticed this year that self-control seems to be an “area of refinement” for him.  As I previewed this study, I found some excellent examples that directly related to situations I’ve seen him struggle with this year.  This particular study lines up well with the kindness stories in Buddy Boy’s devotional.  Because Little Man is older, I’ll be able to get him started, and then just sit alongside him as he works through the activities.  With both boys, I look forward to the conversations we’ll be able to have about this topic.

 

 

As for me, my Bible time will come a little later (or earlier, depending on the day).  I generally love the quiet and stillness of the early morning hours.  However, my youngest gets up pretty early, so he tends to wake up as soon as he hears movement.  This is real life.  I’m in a season that those perfect early mornings may not happen that often.  I’ll just embrace it.

 

I digress.  For my own time with the Lord, I’ve really been hearing Him ask me to just “dwell” in Him.  I have a stack of studies that I’ve started, but can’t seem to finish.  For this summer, I have said no to all of those studies.  I’ve given myself grace for not finishing them, and I know I’ll return to them when the season is right.  For the month of June, the Scripture-writing plan will be over the word “abide.”  I’ve been drawn to this idea of just resting and remaining in Him.  I’ll be doing this in two ways … well, hopefully more, but two intentional and “listable” ways.  I’ll be reading Sacred Rhythms as one of my non-fiction books in June (more on my nerdy bookish ways in another post).  It’s about practicing the spiritual disciplines of silence and solitude.  My dad gave it to me a few years ago, but I have yet to read it.  God must have known that I’d need it in a season like this.

 

As I work through the Scripture-writing plan, I will be using the Inspire Journaling Bible.  I simply love the idea of creative journaling as a method of dwelling in His Word.  I am definitely NOT an artist, so this will be an exercise in relinquishing my need to have Pinterest-worthy journals.  This will also be an exercise in listening for His voice.  I’ve stepped away from my women’s groups and the pre-written studies for this season as I fully pause and let Him steer me where He needs me to go.  I’m considering it a sort of spiritual retreat.  This is new for me.  I’m generally a very Type A, love my outlines and color-coding, let me go hunt for all the correct answers kind of girl.  I feel very certain that God has asked me to stop and listen for a change.

 

So there you have it!  I cannot wait to see how God grows our faith as we step into this new season … of life and of weather!  What will you be studying this summer?

 

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An Object Lesson on Joy

An Object Lesson on Joy

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Happy Wednesday, friends!  It’s a beautiful day here in Texas and I am just filled with joy!  This lesson was one of my absolute favorites! The object lesson was so super simple, but it has so much potential as our kiddos start to think more deeply about these concepts.  As we were going through this series of object lessons, we would read the page from Pups of the Spirit for the specific fruit of the day. For joy, the book related it to being happy and having a positive attitude. We took it one step further.

 

Finding true joy can only come from a cup filled with Christ.  See how one mom encouraged her children to find the meaning of true joy.

JOY ~ I will be okay with what I have.

Our verse for joy was Psalm 118:24.

This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.

For our conversation, I just jumped right into our object lesson. For this particular lesson, you’ll need a glass, enough marbles to fill it, a water dropper (or spoon, straw, whatever you want to use), and probably a plate or towel.

 

 

I placed the empty glass on the plate and asked Little Man to start naming things that make him happy.  He said things like Minecraft, our puppies, playing Legos, pancakes, pizza, dessert, video games, etc.  Each time he said something, I poured a dropper-full of water into the glass.  “Those things can make us really happy, huh?  They’re really fun!  But look at the glass.  Is it full?”  No.  The water never reached the top.

 

 

Then I asked him to start telling me things that God gave us and things that bring us closer to Jesus.  He said things like family, the sunshine, going to church, reading our Bibles, singing songs.  Each time he said something, I dropped a marble into the water.  “Wow!  Look at how full the glass is!  What do you think is going to happen?”

 

 

We finished the lesson by reciting Galatians 5:22-23 and dropping a marble as we said each word. “But the Fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  Against such things there is no law.”  “Look!  The water just overflowed out of the glass!  God fills us with joy just like that!  When we find our joy in Jesus, we will overflow and can spread that joy to others!”

Now, Little Man and I did not do this next part, but it could potentially be really powerful if you had a child who was old enough to comprehend it.  If you filled the glass with water with all the “happy things,” it could overflow.  Let it hang out on the counter for a week or so.  The water will evaporate.  When we fill ourselves with happiness from this world, we will never be fully satisfied.  It won’t last.  That happiness will evaporate just like the water and we’ll have to keep refilling ourselves.  The next week, fill it with marbles.  They obviously won’t evaporate.  When we fill ourselves with joy found in the Lord, it’s not easily lost.

Just as we did with our love lesson, we ended by praying over our verse using the ACTS model.

“Jesus, it’s so amazing that You can fill us with joy when things like video games and toys can’t.  I’m sorry that I don’t always choose joy.  I’m sorry that I didn’t choose joy when I got upset about _____.  Please forgive me.  Thank you for waking us up today!  Thank you for giving us the sun and the rain.  Help me to remember that I can be joyful and rejoice in You even when I am sad or upset.  Amen.”

I went off to clean up breakfast and he worked on a craft.  He would randomly think of something else that would fit into one of the two categories … happiness or joy.  He’d mention it and we’d decide which category it fit in.

So, I really loved the object lesson for joy.  I think there is so much potential for deep thinking and the teacher in me just loves that!  But it’s also so true.  Throughout the week, I found myself asking Little Man, “Are you choosing joy right now?”  In one specific moment, he reminded me that little ears are always listening and learning.  God’s really cool like that and uses our kids to humble us regularly.  I had an incident this week that just really upset me.  I was running my mouth to my husband (“I can’t believe she said that!  What kind of friend is she?”) and just being pretty ugly.  Well, Little Man overheard me and very politely reminded me that I should be choosing joy.  Yes, kid, I should.  I don’t need to seek approval from friends, coworkers, or anyone else on this earth.  I find my joy in Christ.  Thanks for the reminder, Little Man.  I think I’ll go refresh myself on some verses from the Gospel, Not Gossip plan.

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Just Be Still ~ Reflections on Exodus 14:14

Just Be Still ~ Reflections on Exodus 14:14

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Last night, my boys did something they often do.  They were playing with their toys after dinner, and they started to bicker.  My oldest was playing with a train set, and my youngest wanted to use the blocks as roller skates… and he wanted to skate right through the trains.  I’m sure you can imagine the scene.

 

My oldest asked nicely at first, but my youngest can be a toot sometimes and didn’t exactly respond nicely.  The train tracks started to fall apart.  Bridges crumbled.  Trains were scattered.  Blocks were thrown.  Voices were raised.

 

Little Man (my oldest) tried pulling Buddy Boy (my youngest) off the trains… and then the crying started.  Tempers flared quickly and the two boys were soon in a shouting match.  It amazes me how quickly things can go from calm to chaos.

 

I tried to step in and separate the two boys.  In my head, I could easily see the problem and was ready to offer a simple solution.  But here’s where it got interesting.  They kept fighting.  I had the solution available, and I was trying to put them in place to be content.  But they kept fighting.  I tried speaking to both of them with my “mom voice.”  I even told them what the solution was.  But they kept fighting.  They were so determined to solve the problem themselves that they missed hearing the solution.  They were so focused on the problem right in front of them, that they couldn’t see the solution was right next to them.

 

I was left just shaking my head and thinking, “If you would just be still and listen, I can handle this.”

 

Is the noise of the problem keeping you from hearing God's answer? How many times is God shaking His head saying, "If you would just be still..."?

 

Y’all… as a mom, I have begun to understand the relationship with our Heavenly Father in a completely different way.  How many times does He look and us and say, “If you would just be still….”?  How many times are we so determined to solve a problem ourselves, and we miss the “God voice”?  How many times have we missed being put in a place of contentment because we’re trying to handle all the things?

 

In the book of Exodus, God was very clear in speaking to the Israelites.  Exodus 14:10 says, “As Pharaoh approached, the Israelites looked up and saw the Egyptians coming after them.  Then the Israelites were terrified and cried out to the Lord for help.”  Pharaoh had just released the Israelites from slavery, and they were on the move.  Of course, then Pharaoh then changed his mind and set all of his troops after them.  So here are all of these families, standing in front of the Red Sea.  They see Pharaoh’s men coming after them.  I can only imagine the fear they felt.  They asked the Lord for help.  They verbally attacked Moses, accusing him of bringing all of them out into the wilderness to die.  They were so busy being afraid and trying to come up with the solution, that they couldn’t even begin to see a way out.

 

The thing is, they weren’t supposed to.  They weren’t supposed to find a way out on their own.  The Lord brought them out of slavery in Egypt.  The Lord took them through the wilderness.  The Lord would provide the way out of this situation.  And He did.

 

Exodus 14:14 tells us Moses’ response to the Israelites in their moment of fear.  “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”

 

Is the noise of the problem keeping you from hearing God's answer? How many times is God shaking His head saying, "If you would just be still..."?

 

The Israelites were commanded to trust.  To be still and trust that God would fight the battle.  Just like my boys were so busy fighting the battle on their own that they missed how easy the solution could be, we tend to get so caught up in trying to solve all the things that we miss the fact that God has commanded that we be still before Him.

 

Are you in a battle right now?  I encourage you to pause.  Still yourself before Him.  For me, that often means I literally stop talking mid-thought.  I retreat away from the situation at hand, and I put my face to the ground (or my prayer journal).  I give the problem to Him… and then I trust.  The Lord will fight for me.  I need only to be still.

 

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An Object Lesson on Love

An Object Lesson on Love

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Love is a funny thing.  We live in a culture that throws that word around so easily.  It intrigues me that I can use the same word to describe how I feel about my morning coffee, my comfy chair, my feelings about the weather, my affection for my kids, and my relationship with my husband.  Even more intriguing is that we use that word to describe how we feel about God, and the way He feels about us.

I use the word “love” to describe how I feel about my husband.  I know what that feels like.  I can describe what it looks like.  I know how it affects the way we treat each other.  I also use the word “love” to describe how I feel about God.  My entire life is based on what He has asked of me.  It affects my every move, my every thought, every word.  In all honesty though, I don’t think I can begin to fully process that kind of love.  Yes, it affects my behavior and I know what I feel when I talk about it.  But I can’t fully process the depth of that love.  It consumes me.

Let’s take it a step further.  God’s love for us.  I cannot even begin to come anywhere close to understanding the depth and power of that love.  Somehow it transforms my entire life.  It redeems all situations.  It makes all things beautiful in time.  It is a sacrificial, overflowing, never-ending, all-consuming Agape love.

How do we even attempt to define that kind of love in a way that our children can understand?  A few years ago, I sat down and wrote out some quick devotionals and object lessons for the Fruit of the Spirit.  In preparation for this year’s summer study, I thought I’d pull out that devotional and share it with all of you!

See how one mom talked with her children about the Agape love of Jesus and how it overflows into those around them!

So with all that said… here’s the first lesson in our Fruit of the Spirit study!  The first fruit is love.  Honestly, this was a little tricky.  The story we read daily, Pups of the Spirit, is super cute, but it keeps love at a surface level.  Hugs and kisses and whatnot.  I wanted Little Man to know that love in the Biblical sense is deeper than that.  With every fruit, I found a short phrase that describes it in ways our little ones would understand.

LOVE ~ I will put others first.

Our verse for love was 1 John 3:18.

Dear children, let us not love with words or speech, but with actions and in truth.

I asked some pretty basic questions.  How do you know Mommy loves you?  How do you show Mommy or Daddy how you love them?  How can you show your friends you love them?  I asked him about some specific situations we had recently dealt with… were you showing love then?  I read somewhere that whenever a certain mom saw her children arguing, she would stop them and ask, “Who are you showing love to right now?  Yourself, your brother, or God?  God first, then others, and then ourselves.  This is the primary point I wanted Little Man to leave with.

We’ve talked about how we love others because Jesus loves us and His love overflows from us into others.  When we are filled with His love, it’s much easier to put others before ourselves.  That led us to our object lesson.

For this lesson, you’ll need a paper towel, a red marker, a pen, and a bowl of water.  Draw a small heart down at the bottom with the pen.  “We all have hearts that need to be filled.  When we ask Jesus to live in our hearts, he fills them with love.”

See how one mom talked with her children about the Agape love of Jesus and how it overflows into those around them!

We colored in the heart with the red marker.  “Jesus lives in our hearts and He loves us very, very much.  We always know that we are loved because we are His children.”

See how one mom talked with her children about the Agape love of Jesus and how it overflows into those around them!

Draw some tiny little hearts around the top of the red heart.  “We have Jesus’ love in our hearts, but not everyone knows about His love.  Their hearts are still empty.”

See how one mom talked with her children about the Agape love of Jesus and how it overflows into those around them!

I asked Little Man how we could show love to those people.  He gave me answers like playing with them, being kind to them, telling them that Jesus lives in us.  “When Jesus loves us, that love can overflow into the people around us!  Because He loves us soooo much, we have lots of love to share!”  Dip the paper towel into the bowl where just the red heart touches the water.

See how one mom talked with her children about the Agape love of Jesus and how it overflows into those around them!

“Look how Jesus’ love filled all those other hearts!  He loves everyone and wants their hearts to be filled too!”

See how one mom talked with her children about the Agape love of Jesus and how it overflows into those around them!

Throughout the next several days, I focused on asking Little Man about showing love.  In the grocery store, a man knocked some stuff off the shelf…  “How can we show him some love right now?”  As Little Man had a *teensy* bit of an attitude with me… “Are you showing love right now or anger?”  Some friends were over and playing at our house and wanted to do something different than Little Man… “Can we show him love by choosing to play his game first?”  I’m sure you can think of a few (or more than a few) moments that these questions could be asked on a daily basis.

To conclude each of our devotionals, we prayed over our verse (using the “ACTS” model and the words from the verse).

“Jesus, it’s awesome that You have so much love for us!  I’m sorry that I didn’t show love when I ______.  Please forgive me.  Thank you for always loving us no matter what we do.  Please help me not to just tell my family I love them, but to show them with my actions.  Help me to know how to love people that aren’t my friends.  Help me to show them Your love.  Amen.”

Is this something you could do with your little ones?

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Are you sharing gossip more than the Gospel?

Are you sharing gossip more than the Gospel?

Our words. They can build someone up or tear someone down in the same moment.  Our words are so powerful that we can hear what someone else *might* have said to someone else *possibly* about us, and our entire emotional state can go from one end of the spectrum to the other.

 

As moms, our words have the power to encourage our children and affirm who they are in Christ… or our words can break them down little by little until they begin to question their worth and our love for them.  As wives, our words can speak love, support and respect into our husbands… or our words can belittle them into thinking they’re bumbling fools.

 

I read a study once that concluded that women tend to bond over negativity.  Two women meet and are engaged in small talk.  The conversation isn’t going well and it’s hard to really catch a topic… until they discover a common dislike.  Then, they can go on for hours discovering all the hate they have in common.  Confession time… I can think of more than one friendship of mine that started this very way.

 

My current Bible study, Discerning the Voice of God, asked us to name a few areas or behaviors that we would have never thought twice about before deciding to follow Jesus.  There were a few things on my list, but gossip was one of them.  I not only didn’t give it a second thought, I craved it.  I wanted to know how messed up everyone else was.  I wanted to know that “at least I don’t have that problem.”  And I wanted to be the one to heard the latest *news* first.

Are you sharing gossip more than the Gospel? This 30-day Scripture writing plan will help point your heart (and your words) back to God.

You know, it’s no wonder that many of my friendships during that season didn’t last.

 

But God.  He’s a God of forgiveness.  A God of heart-change.  A God of relationship.

Mark 16:15 tells us to “go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation.”   So friends, I ask you. are your words spreading gossip… or the gospel?

I’m a big believer in memorizing Scripture.  I believe that when we fill our minds with the Word of God, the lies of the enemy have no room to creep in.  When God’s Word is so firmly written on our hearts, those are the words we turn to in the heat of a moment.

 

Over the next 30 days, I’m writing through the Word.  I’ve selected 30 verses, and I’m praying the Spirit will work in me and sanctify my words, thoughts and actions.  I pray He will renew my mind and that my words will spread only encouragement, Truth, and Love.  I pray that I will flee from spreading the latest “news” and that I will spread only His Good News.

Are you sharing gossip more than the Gospel? This 30-day Scripture writing plan will help point your heart (and your words) back to God.

 

Join us on Instagram as we write the Word!  Let’s encourage each other as God works to refine each of us in this journey!

 


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