Category Archives: Encouragement

nester

March 12 house 3

Looking back . . .

For the last four years we’ve been “raising” baby blue birds.  Well actually, we’ve been providing them a place to build their nests, to lay their eggs, and to raise their young until the babies are ready to fledge, spread their wings and fly.
I have been fascinated at how meticulously the mothers build their nests, layering twigs and grasses, delicately intertwining all the many different pieces to create a home for their babies.  In watching this whole process, one thing I’ve noticed is the mother takes great care at preparing her haven that will be “home” for them over the weeks to come.  There is a constant sense of activity as she puts everything in order, not putting off everything that needs to be done.  And even in the sense of the world, even though this home is only temporary the mother nester puts all her energy and efforts into creating the “just-right,” not perfect, but welcoming environment for her family. 

Looking forward . . .

I want to be like my blue bird nesters.  Coming into a fresh season of life, I look forward to the change of pace, adjusting to not being in the classroom and on the clock, and reacquainting myself with some skills that have become a bit rusty over the years, creating the “just-right,” not perfect, but welcoming environment for our new home.   Even if it’s just temporary!

She carefully watches everything in her household
    and suffers nothing from laziness.
Prov. 31:27 

 

 

 

 


praying for blessings

blessings as tears .001

Seems life has been like riding a rollercoaster the last few months.
Up . . . Down . . . Twists . . . Turns . . . Upside-down . . . then, right side-up.
Catch my breath . . . then hold on for the ride.
I pray.  I continue to pray for
peace . . . comfort . . . healing . . . clarity . . . relationships . . . restoration . . . fear to leave . . . understanding . . . patience
  . . . protection . . . suffering to cease . . . 
I know God hears each word I’ve spoken . . . But today, my heart asks . . .But what tone does God hear in your voice?

Does He hear the same tones that I hear in the voices of others?
The tone in my own voice as I speak?
You know the ones that fuel all the negative emotions.
Of course, He does.
He hears the discontent . . . grumbling . . . complaining . . . whining . . . disappointment . . . self-righteousness . . . 
anger . . . muttering . . . indignation . . . displeasure . . . doubt . . . betrayal
I know He hears each word  and that He knows my every need . . .
and today, He reminded me that often times I let my fear take the joy away.
So today, I’m not white-knuckled or feeling my stomach in my throat, or letting out a blood curdling scream as I ride the rollercoaster.  This time, I am facing those fears that want to steal the joy away from me and seeing the trials as Mercy in disguise.
Blessings
by Laura Story

We pray for blessings
We pray for peace
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
We pray for healing, for prosperity
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering
All the while, You hear each spoken need
Yet love is way too much to give us lesser things

‘Cause what if your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

We pray for wisdom
Your voice to hear
We cry in anger when we cannot feel You near
We doubt your goodness, we doubt your love
As if every promise from Your Word is not enough
All the while, You hear each desperate plea
And long that we’d have faith to believe

When friends betray us
When darkness seems to win
We know that pain reminds this heart
That this is not our home

What if my greatest disappointments
Or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy
What if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are your mercies in disguise


what to do . . . today

to-do-list

Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.  Philippians 2:12–13

Thinking about what to do today and came across some good directions of where to start.   It doesn’t really matter what I put on my check list for the day, whatever I do I need to be about my daily work – my ministry.  And what exactly is that?  My ministry is my work . . . whether I’m a teacher, videographer, law enforcement officer, stay-at-home mom, landscape worker, veterinarian, lawyer, clerk at a store, CEO of a company, plumber, minister, administrative assistant or . . . and that list goes on and on.  I am called to work at it, believing in His promise that in this day God will be at work in me to will and work for His good pleasure

So whatever I find written on my “to-do” list today . . .

  • groceries
  • plants for planter
  • mail
  • pick up birthday cards

. . . I know that with every moment God is graciously with me. I am filled with confidence, hope, and energy for the day because He doesn’t just “show up” – He is there as the decisive worker in my day.  

Whatever I am to do today, I don’t do it on my own.  I have the grace of the living Christ — always there to work for me at every moment today that I enter.   

 


a history lesson

looking up

One of the special things most mornings bring is our reading, sharing together The Word and the Truths revealed to us as we linger over breakfast and coffee.  Some mornings though with schedules and appointments, the time is unable to be shared together, but we both know even if one of us is not physically present we are still share in this time.  Today happen to be one of those time alone mornings.  And what a sweet Truth God revealed to me in the stillness of my surroundings.  

For the last week or so, we’ve been reading through 1 Chronicles.  I know most will probably react with the same questions that have rolled through my mind.  “Why read through this book in the book in the Bible?”   Afterall, it’s nothing but long lists of genealogy and the basic recording of events from Genesis through the kings of Judah, and the exile and the people returning to Jerusalem after the exile. It reads a lot like a history book, an ongoing account of events.  In fact, much of what’s in Chronicles is repeated material from the earlier books.  So much so my mind keeps asking, “Why does all this need to be repeated over again?”  “Why do these people keep doing the same things over and over?”  “Why don’t they learn from their past?”  “Why? Why? Why?”  I know God does all this for a reason.  So the student in me wants to try to put all the facts and pieces together and figure out all the Whys.  I want to focus on the horizontal look at this panoramic picture of the Old Testament.

But today was different.  Today as the mind started to ask these same questions over again, the heart responded directly. The Lord was telling my heart to stop focusing on all the Whys and to look at the Who.  At this time was it really important for me to know who was reigning and who ruling?  Was it important to figure out who had absolute authority and why was this one overthrown, or that one dethroned?  Was it important to question why these people kept doing the same things over and over?  The Spirit told me to stop looking all across the pages – going backward and forwards . . .  from one commentary to the next . . .  and to look up.  

So for today, my answer was right there as I looked up.  Who was reigning and ruling?  – GOD.  Who has absolute authority? – GOD.  Always has and always will.  He has never been overthrown.  He has always been on his throne and always will be.   I was getting so caught up in looking at things horizontally, from the side-to-side, the back-and-forth, that I was forgetting to look up.

Today was different.  Today reminded me that recently I’ve become so caught up in all the hoopla of the worldly things going on in my life, the lives of those ones I love and care deeply for, and the conundrum of details that seem to surround me.  I’ve become caught up in all the horizontal details of life – all those nitty, gritty frustrations of the details of life that want me to take my eyes off Jesus.

Looking across, side-to-side, front-to-back is full of unknowns, of fears, what ifs, unrest, upheaval, distrust and discontent.  Looking across and around is mucky and off-center.  I can’t truly gaze if I’m looking horizontally.  He tells me to put down the hoopla of the world.  To not fret over the horizontal details of life that really do not matter – those details that want to pull me down, to pull me apart, to pull me away.  He tells me those things do not matter because He is on His throne.  He will not step down, nor will He be pushed aside.  He IS in control.

He has all my details covered because He knows my story.  Seeing all my details, He moves in His own time and at His own pace.  I need to stop looking across at all the earthly details and fretting over the earthly “kings” that change at the drop of a hat. He calls to me, “Daughter, look up to Me, your Heavenly King.  I have all the details of your life covered. Surrender them all to me and leave them at the foot of the Cross and at the foot of My throne. The one and only throne that has never or will ever change.”

Yes, today is different.  Looking up and over the page. I fix my gaze – I see the One that is unchangeable, full of grace and mercy and peace. Looking up is transformational.    

 


hold my hand

child-holding-fathers-hand

 He knows what is in the darkness,
    and the light dwells with him.
Daniel 2:22


Fear according to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary

fear

noun

: an unpleasant emotion caused by being aware of danger : a feeling of being afraid

: a feeling of respect and wonder for something very powerful


Some fears can be healthy, protecting me from something that could be potentially dangerous.  But other fears cause me to think and react irrationally, becoming imprisoned by whatever it is that is causing me such an adversion.  This kind of fear can even keep me from obeying God, from hearing the Spirit speak to me, from feeling His pricking at my heart.

Instead of running or hiding from this emotion called fear, I need to go to the words spoken in Daniel 2:22.  There is no mystery with God and he’s never surprised or caught off guard.  He never wonders how in the world is He going to deal with this thing.   I need to remember, I am not alone here.

God is with me here in this moment of darkness, this hour of adversity, this season of not knowing why.  It is not darkness to Him because He is Light.  He is in complete charge of the mysteries of my life, those things that cause me to feel fear.  He holds me, my fears, my mysteries in His hand.  And because He does, I do not need to run, or hide.  I rest in Him, my Abba Father.


broken

broken ornament

Invariably, it happens every year. A wagging tail brushes a limb of the tree, or a little hand reaches out in curiosity, or sometimes it’s just a mystery – it just happens.  All followed by the familiar sound of crashing glass on the floor crying out, “broken.”

My first inclination is to quickly sweep up the pieces and toss the broken Christmas ornament into the trash.  But this time while carefully picking up the broken fragments, those jagged, sharp pieces, I am reminded how Jesus meets me in my brokenness.  And unlike how the world views brokenness, my Savior doesn’t quickly sweep me away and nonchalantly toss me into the trash heap.  He meets me there, in the middle of the mess of my brokenness. When I come to the end of myself, He meets me there in the brokenness.

Through adversity, in the disappointments, in the failures – I see my weakness, my need to depend on Him. And when I come to the end of myself, I do not see these as shortcomings, but am reminded that God works best through me when I am broken.   

So in this season of celebrating the birth of Jesus, I stop to reflect on the cradle, the cross, and the crown.

I’m not in a hurry to sweep away my brokenness because I know it is there He meets me.

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
    a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
Psalm 51:17 

 

 


in her Momma’s arms

sleeping AB

I sit quietly in awe. Quietly watching this precious little one nestled snugly in her momma’s arms.  Their breathing is in harmonic motion, in and out . . . in and out . . .a quiet, a peaceful rhythm.

Her momma gently whispers words of love over her as she has her tucked safely close. In her mother’s arms she is safe, protected, nurtured.  Momma’s arms hold her close to her beating heart, that heart that was the familiar sound this little one heard day in and day out while her mother carried her for nine months.   And now out in this world, this world that is so filled with chaos, her momma continues to hold her close, to cover her with mother wings.  A stronghold of love.

I sit watching, pondering in awe. Pondering meditatively.

As I see my very own little girl embrace her own little girl, my heart is full.  My heart is full of love for this new little one who has been  remarkably and wonderfully made.  My heart is full of love for the one who was remarkably and wonderfully knitted together inside my own body.

But most of all, my heart is full of reminders of the One who covers me in His arms, who holds me close in the midst of the chaos.

I am reminded of the times my life has been crumbling to pieces around me, troubles were crashing into me right and left, life seem to be imploding.  I was alone, or at least that is what the enemy wanted me to believe.

Clinging to Psalm 46, He pulls me in to cover me with His Love, to be my stronghold against all that is clamoring to tear me apart.  He is always there to whisper His words of Love into my heart.  Pulling me close, the chaos turns into peace.

I can hear His heartbeat because He created me to be His.

God is my refuge and strength,
A very present help in trouble.
Therefore I will not fear,
Though the earth should give way,
And though the mountains fall into the heart
of the sea.
Though its waters roar and foam,
Though the mountains quake at its swelling pride.
Psalm 46:1-3

So as things of this world are vying to pull me away, to create disharmony, when I have to hold it together, even when I don’t feel like it . . . it is here, here with my God, my Creator, that I find solace, my stronghold.  It is here, I can let it go.  I cling to His arms and hear His tender heart calling me close.  It’s here in the magnificent, or the insignificant, in the joyous moments, or the disappointing times, the uplifting, or the casting down, the contentment, or the perplexities and uncertainties that I rest secure. Resting secure in the harmonic motion of His peace and His grace.

Rest in His arms, just like that precious little one in her Momma’s arms.  Rest no matter what the world throws your way. Find His peace in the chaos.


new every morning

sunrise

One of the beautiful reminders of a sunrise . . .

His compassions do not fail us 

They are new every morning, no matter how dark the night has been.

His faithfulness is there from sunrise to sunset . . . and through the night.

He is my Hope. 

I have deep appreciation for sunrises, which is really kind of funny because I’m not really an early morning person.  My husband loves to catch a sunrise whenever he has an opporutnity and I’m usually just trying to “sleep just a little bit longer. . .” But you know I am never disappointed with losing that little bit of extra sleep, even if I haven’t had my first cup of coffee.

Sunrise – the beauty of Creation paints the morning sky, a reminder of His mercy and His faithfulness.  A reminder that I have been called out of the darkness into the Light.  

Yes, there is something very special about a sunrise.  Yesterday is gone.  Tomorrow is yet to be.  With the rising of the sun, I have His promise of today.


building a palace

c4f9ddcfae73e68e5cf3748c2fc95fad

 

 


how to let go of regret [reblog]

The Kids

I love how God sends me words of encouragement exactly when He knows I need it!  Today is the birthday of one of my three and as any Mama would do, I was mulling over some things in my heart and head today, reflecting on some precious memories and the word REGRET was trying its level best to take over.  So when I was reading through some emails and posts . . . the word REGRET jumped right off the screen.
Call it coincidence . . . I don’t!

So thankful to Robin Dance for sharing some links today . . .

How to Let Go of Regret [reblogged from Life on the Wild Side ~ Shelly Wildman]

I see you, mama. The one with Regret written all over your face and on your sagging shoulders and in your sad eyes. The one whose hopes and dreams consist of words you wish you had said, deeds you wish you had done, or those you wish you could undo.

“If only” has become your mantra.

I see you and I know you because I am you.

Seems, sometimes, like Regret is a mother’s best friend.

We walk with it, chew on it, and let it weigh us down. None of us are immune.

I’ve certainly had my share of regrets over the years—things I wish I had done; things I wish I had said. More often, though, things I wish I had not said. The words, they do poison.

In the past few weeks I have spoken to two friends—both amazing mothers—who are filled with regret over children who are not currently living in the way these parents have raised them. One child has rejected the faith with which they were raised; the other is on the brink of making some important decisions about how to live.

In both conversations, I noticed that both of my friends expressed serious regret about their parenting.

Maybe you’ve felt this, too.

Here’s the thing, mamas: we are not made to regret. And I think our regrets come from our forgetfulness about three important things.

  1. We forget that we are ultimately not in control.

In other words, we give ourselves way too much blame (or credit!) for the way our kids turn out. As much as we’d like to make the way easy for our kids, we have to remember that some kids very simply will not learn from our mistakes. They may not even learn from their own. We can give our children the tools (whether that be an education, a faith heritage, a stable family—whatever it is) that can make paving the way a bit easier, but it’s up to them to use them.

Don’t blame yourself if your child rejects the tools you have given him or her. Just be faithful every day.

  1. We forget that we are forgiven, just as much as our children are.

Forgiveness is a powerful arsenal in our parenting strategy, and we must remember to also practice it on ourselves.

I recently read the most beautiful definition of grace: “Grace says, ‘There you are, I’ve been waiting for you and you’re welcome here. All of you. You are beloved.’”

Mama, you are beloved—all of you—whether or not you’ve messed up. Or your kid has. Or your husband has. It doesn’t matter. Grace is here, waiting for you.

Mama, forgive yourself because God already has. Don’t let the regret that you’re feeling limit you from the power of forgiveness and grace in your life, which will move you ahead to do the next right thing.

  1. We forget that the story isn’t finished yet.

I’ve known parents of some seriously messed up kids. Some have let regrets stop them from doing what they should be doing—whether that is acting with tough love or gently loving them back home. But some parents I’ve known have simply said, “My son’s (or daughter’s) story is not yet finished. God has not given up on this child, and neither will I.” They have prayed continuously for their child. They have opened the door to their home. They have shown, in very practical terms, what the love of Jesus means.

Mama, your story is not yet finished—thank goodness for that, right?!—and neither is your child’s. Our stories continue to grow and to change and to mold us into the people we are today, and that’s true for our kids as well. If you have regrets, remember that your child’s story is still being written and that the way he or she is living today is not the end of the story.

Even more important, remember that God has not walked away from your child, He still loves them, and He will never give up fighting for them.

So mama? For the sake of your family (and your sanity) will you give up your regrets? Don’t dwell on those things that are over and done. Realize that, ultimately, you are not in control. Move ahead with grace and forgiveness.

And thank God that the story is not finished yet.

Thanking God for allowing me the precious opportunity and blessing of being a mama . . . and yes, thanking Him that He is not finished with our story yet!


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