The settled conviction that God sovereignly controls the events of life for the believers’ good and His glory. Spiritual joy is not an attitude dependent on chance or circumstance. It is the deep and abiding confidence that regardless of one’s circumstances in life, all is well between the believer and the Lord. No matter what difficulty, pain, disappointment, failure, rejection, or other challenge one is facing, genuine joy remains because of that eternal well being established by God’s grace in salvation. Thus, Scripture makes it clear that the fullest, most lasting and satisfying joy is derived from a true relationship with God. It is not based on circumstances or chance, but is the gracious and permanent possession of every child of God. -John McArthur
Linking up with Internet Cafe Devotions for Word Filled Wednesday!
Hi friends! Kelli and I just returned from Lifeway’s .MOM conference in Birmingham, Alabama and it was just so wonderful! We were blessed to see speakers, Angela Thomas, Vickie Courtney, Angie Smith and Priscilla Shier… among many others who gave break-out sessions in between. I’m sure you’ve all attended a conference like this before… they are SO packed with encouragement and enrichment that it’s a little overwhelming, but in a really good way.
As, I sat down today I wanted to try and decide on one thing to share with you from the conference and I loved Angela Thomas’s message on “Be the Light,” based on Mathew 5:14-15. Here’s a snipet of what she shared…
Angela’s point focused on that last line. She reminded us that we as mothers provide the light of Jesus to everyone in our own home. It’s a responsibility we are given by God and in order for us to fulfill that godly position we must remember…
-It is the Lord that puts the light in us
-Jesus IS that light
-Only those who surrender have access to that light
We get caught up trying to be and do so many things as moms that this responsibility to “be the light” easily gets pushed aside. She reminded us to “Learn how to get with God in the season we are in,” so that we don’t take on so much that our lights begin to flicker because we neglect the care of our soul.
She shared this quote by Jill Briscoe that spoke to my heart…
So, true. And as I start this new week, though I am a little worn out and suffering from a little sickness, I am still focused on the greater things. I am whispering a prayer of surrender to the Lord and asking His light to shine bright within my mommy heart.
I’m also praying for you… that you are powered up today to BE THE LIGHT!
Counting on with Ann…
144. The dot mom conference!
145. much needed BFF time with Kelli
146. encouragement and wisdom from a new friend
147. the gift of motherhood
148. husband who takes care of everything while I’m gone
149. my friend Stephanie moving to an after care facility
150. divine moments on airplanes
152. confidence to speak up
153. winning an AWESOME give-away from Jenifer at Sweet Blessings
154. the honor of being nominated for fun blog awards from Debbie Dillon at Writin’ for Him Cafe
155. seeing God’s goodness in the hard stuff
It’s all caught on film. My dad snaps a picture at the beginning of an Easter Bunny throw down.
Oh, yes, the moment my footed pajama wearing self threw a hissy fit when the Easter Bunny hopped away without leaving a Marie and Donnie Osmond Barbie is frozen in time. A little girl’s egg dreams cracked in a matter of seconds.
My fist hiked up with finger-snapping attitude as it rested on my four-year old hip. Y’all know those fine lines between your eyebrows? Well, they’re caused by moments such as these. Not getting your way kind of moments—The tot-is-hot kind of moments.
The phrase mama always used during times like these, “Beauty is as beauty does.” It’s a phrase she used as a disciplining tool. She even created an annoying jingle to go with it. In other words, true beauty isn’t found in superficial appearance, but how one behaves and carries oneself defines the beauty in a person.
My granny took things up a notch as she’d holler, “That woman was so ugly…. until she opened her mouth.”
You get the point.
It’s more than skin deep.
It’s not high fashion at its best.
It’s not a Noxzema smooth face every morning.
It’s not tighter, firmer abs either.
I have a confession.
When I read this, I get distracted by the “don’ts.”
Don’t wear pretty jewelry; don’t fix your hair; and for heaven’s sakes don’t wear cute clothes.
Instead, my focus should be on the “do.”
Do be devoted to God.
Do beautiful-on-the inside sort of things.
God is letting his girls in on a little secret here. He’s providing a biblical recipe for true beauty in this verse.
It’s a beauty that sees beyond osteoporosis, receding hairlines, and extra padding around the middle.
It’s a beauty that’s so transparent that others see Jesus in you, working through you: A beauty that causes others to wonder what’s different about you.
I would love to hear your thoughts. Please leave a comment today about what you did or didn’t do that made you beautiful to God and those around you.
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I listen to the crickets chirp.
I see lights flicker after bedtime.
I smell the perennial garden on the kitchen table. It winks at me, but I don’t smile.
Instead, I slide the steam mop across the floor one more time. It makes a girl feel useful.
I wonder if the simple things will delay the tears? Could the sting of persecution be suspended until daylight?
The unforgiving hands twist around the clock and I know. It’s time. It’s time to stop and pray, but the hurt gets in the way.
I normally don’t ask people to pray for me – it makes me feel weak. But I do it anyway. With the click of a keyboard, a desperate cry launches into cyber-something.
The kids jump into bed yet they sense my frantic. I’m frantic for a verse – Scripture that can slap healing salve over this open wound. Maybe words of encouragement – how Paul endured when he was persecuted.
Then I hear it. The phone chirps like crickets after sunset. Suddenly, my prayer partner is on the other end, only the call is to pray with me not simply for me. The oxygen words of encouragement hum into my ear from across town. “God’s got your back, He is present with you, He is fighting for you, He’ll never leave you,” he says.
Suddenly, the flood of emotion stops like a dam holding back rushing water.
It reminds me of the early church in Acts. The Bible says believers endured harsh realities of the time. They were heavily persecuted for spreading the Gospel. So for them, church wasn’t a place to hear great worship music. It wasn’t a place to show off their Sunday best. It was the place they received a breath of life — encouragement to keep going when they felt like giving up — encouragement to keep the fire of faith burning when the coals wanted to grow cold.
God has my attention now, not the pain.
I feel a little like Joshua probably did when God said, “Stand up! What are you doing down on your face,” (Joshua 7:10)? This crisis isn’t the end of you. It’s the beginning of my power—a power that will blow your socks off, if you’ll let me show you.
So my sweet sisters (and brothers) in Christ, if we treat adversity as an opportunity to trust God more, to dig our heels deeper into the foundation, we will experience the glory and the goodness of God shining in and through us like never before.
After all, if we’re going to be over-comers, we need something to overcome, right?
Love him….no matter what.
Praising His Holy and matchless name for the living Word. Pages and pages of…
Linking up with Internet Cafe Devotions for Word Filled Wednesday!
I attended a Core Dynamics mini conference earlier this year and these words were presented…
THINK. ACT. FEEL.
And the question… What is your firing order in the midst of conflict? I see it in two scenarios…
Feel – Act – Think (F.A.T.): You feel first; act based on your emotions and then think about how you maybe should have responded… often ending in regret.
Think – Act – Feel (T.A.F): You think first about how your actions will make you feel, then act based on logic and deal with your feelings last.
So, I seem to get into trouble at the grocery store. I can’t understand it; really, I’m perfectly polite and kind to others. I try to keep my kids and myself in line as much as possible. But, alas, I tend to get into something ugly.
For example, there was the time when my son was just months old and he cried and cried in the check-out lane. The woman behind me became highly annoyed with him and actually yelled at me to… “Shut that kid up!”
Yes. She. Did.
And my firing order was a big ole F.A.T. I was speechless at first. Flabbergasted describes it best. Completely embarrassed. And offended beyond belief. But, then I said some stuff. I didn’t cuss, but it wasn’t pretty. Something about her obviously not having any children… and she followed me out to the parking lot screaming obscenities.
Not my finest moment… I “thought” on the way home.
Then there was another time when I had the beautiful chance to shop alone. I love grocery shopping alone. It’s freedom to peruse and thoughtfully consider each of my purchases. Love. It.
So, I was doing just that and I confess I was taking up slightly more aisle space than my cart and I needed when round the corner comes a large, rather scary man barreling towards me with his cart. Before I even knew what was happening he rammed my cart as hard as he could while at the same time screaming “MOVE.”
Yes. He. Did.
Well, this time I was only slightly more thoughtful first. Actually, truthfully, my feelings sort of shoved my thoughts right out of the way. And then I went to find him.
Yes. I. Did.
Walked right up to him and sweetly said, “I am so sorry I got in your way. It seems you’ve had a very bad day. I hope it gets better from here.”
That didn’t go over very well. I’m pretty sure God covered my ears because I really don’t remember what he said, but an on-looker ran for help and the man was 86’d from the store and told to never return.
So, what’s my firing order? I don’t know. It changes depending on the circumstances. But, my desire is to T.A.F. no matter what conflict I face. Thinking first allows the Holy Spirit to lead me into the right action. And I know I will always “feel” better afterwards knowing I responded in a godly way.
I am completely dependent on the Holy Spirit to give me a continual dose of Galatians 5:16… “I say then, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.”
What about you? What’s your firing order… please make me feel better by sharing your finest moment unleashed!
While I am being funny about this today the F.A.T. method has caused me some really hard lessons too. You can read about that here and it continues here. The good news is even when we’re wrong God uses it to make us right again.
It’s a day just like any other day. She glances at the kitchen floor and reaches for the broom. A chore mastered from many years of sweeping practice. She knowingly places her right foot on the dustpan to move in the dirt, but the sweeping stops. Her foot is numb. Completely numb. The broom drops and she makes her way to the bedroom, to the bed where thoughts begin to stir. Fear edges in. What is wrong? But her mind shifts as her foot finds feeling again.
Several days pass. She is at work… doing her job, but the doing stops. This time both feet numb. They don’t move at all. That fear shaken off days earlier instantly returns in fast bursts of breath. Red hot skin travels quick over chest, ears and face.
What is wrong? She calls for help.
The feeling returns, feet moving, but fear staying. She is taken to the emergency room. Tests are run. Results come. And fear stretches further yet as words spill. A tumor. On her brain. Cancer. Running through her body.
She is discharged. Anxiety medication for the truth… the “I have cancer” truth that might not let her rest. Pain medication for the pain… but what pain? The pain she’s not feeling yet, but will come? Maybe just the pain of truth.
Family comes. They swarm. They pray. And worry. A week goes by and they wonder… maybe it’s not so.
Another trip to the ER… a different ER. One by one the facts confirm. They admit her. IV is in. More tests. A mass in her colon stops the scope from seeing. Results trickle in saying more. More that ushers in more. More fear. More worry. More.
Uncertainty settles on her. Smothers her. Thoughts emerge of the weekend before the sweeping stopped of a trip to Napa, playing and laughing with loved ones. She is sixty-four. Independent. Young swirls about on her inside.
But the truth. It cannot hide. Cancer. In her chest. Her liver. Her lymph nodes. Everywhere. Her chart reads… incurable.
Yet she remains hopeful. Cheerful. Miracle seeking. Faithfull. Resting on a different Truth. Those things fight the welling up of fear. She will do the now. Tackle the next thing. Surgery to remove the mass just last night. She rests. Chemo tomorrow. More cutting in three weeks at the brain.
And I think. We can’t seem to do it. To live fully right where we’re at. Can’t keep it up anyway. We get lost, twisted up in the rush and the worry of tomorrow. When the now is here. But a reason presents itself and I want to try harder than ever before. Because one day the sweeping, the doing, this very life… will stop for me too.
Please join me in prayer for Stephanie. I’m indulging deeply in that selfish prayer for healing… for my friends that call her mom… for her grandchildren that call her Nana… and for me along with many others who are blessed to call her friend.
Counting on with Ann…
128. when darling daughter makes brownies
129 a piano
130. a good week of math
131. connecting on facebook with bloggy friends
132. anticipating the dot mom conference with Kelli
133. homeschool co-op
134. cooking for friends
135. fun at the aces game
136. cooler mornings and evenings
137. the challenge to stay within our budget
139. knowing You are always with me
140. husbands eggs benedict for breakfast
141. playing monopoly with the kids
142. having husband home for a long stretch
143. prayer… that we can… that you hear… and that you answer
Why can’t I figure out what everyone else seems to know?
Why do I lose track of the Truth sometimes?
Why does perfectionism extinguish the oxygen words, the life resuscitators?
Why does it suffocate the syllables of promise that weave into the fabric of emotion and logic?
Why do Jesus girls stumble over hurdles of needing everything to be just so?
The organized calendar, I can’t seem to keep.
The home-cooked meal, I can’t seem to get on the table by 6:00 pm.
The to-do list, I can’t seem to check off.
Like a humid breeze whistling through the thirsty grass, God exhales a much needed reminder in my direction.
Stop trying to make everything perfect.
The state of your home (and your to-do list) is not a reflection of the state of your heart.
I am the God who pursues imperfect people and you’re no exception.
I am the God of the “Come and be still with me.”
I am the God who thinks your problem is just the right size, even though it’s too big for you.
I breathe a sigh of relief.
God doesn’t expect us to be perfect.
What he does expect:
Our prayers; he anticipates them.
Our praise; he created us for worship.
Our thanks; he has given so much to be thankful for.
One thing to remember ~ Perfection doesn’t define world changing Christians. Take some time to read about Hebrews’ hall of faith inductees. It’s quite the opposite.
What makes them unique and audacious is their understanding of God’s perfect nature, perfect power and perfect purpose. Their faith fueled ability to allow God to be the One who answers their why.
If we become tangled in a web of “whys” today, let’s remember to lean into the One who provides a sticky free plan for making the whys more manageable and not so overwhelming…