Lessons I Have Learned…

This summer has been one for the books…I think I say that every year. The year goes too fast, the summer is too short. Time is slipping away. You too? As I fight to always stay in the moment, I feel that many times I am trying to hold on to something. But really, what are we grasping for? Moments to last, so we take a picture; people to stay, so we bribe our bigs to stay home with their favorite meals or their laundry done; or our littles to stay small with play dates, treats, or Defy Gravity. Littles don’t keep and bigs don’t stay… and NOTHING is being taken from us.

It feels that way though doesn’t it…that something is being taken from us?

My oldest left for college, number two and three are on his foothills, my fourth son is starting middle school, the youngest has already started year round school. Truth is, change is all the time. It is like those moving sidewalks in the airports. Life just keeps carrying us along. Last year I probably wrote a similar dialogue about change and growth, so it seems that there is no way around it.

Truth is, we really don’t want life to stay the same as today, we do actually hope that we are headed somewhere and life will bring with it, lightness to our souls. Hope, that is a wonderful word bearing so much meaning. It is often left behind in the trio of FAITH, hope, and LOVE. I have recently been considering the gift of hope. Why else would we get up and do the same things over and over again, if we didn’t hope that good would come from it. The promise of mercies being new every morning, is a gift of hope. The feeling of expectation that there waits for us a new day, a new beginning, a new life and certainly, a real eternity in Heaven, are all because of hope. Hopeful.

With God, He gives, outside of our understanding and many times our expectation, but He gives. Somehow. Always hope.

Honestly, the horizon is full of new expectations, new dreams, and new experiences. As our people, whoever and wherever they are, tell their own stories as they live their lives out or through a memory, our horizon expands and our view of the world broadens. We join a bigger story and our expectation grows. Jesus. He is our expectation, our hope, our dream come true, and we can experience Him new every morning, new at any moment, and new in the lives of others.  So very thankful for the journey onward and for the promise that He holds it all together, birthing new desires that open up all kinds of new possibilities. Praise Him.

Lessons I have learned:

  • I can actually go seven days and only interact with the six men in my life and love it
  • I can go three week without a dryer as long as you have a mother near by
  • You can travel for weeks on end w/ pre-cooked hamburgers and shredded chicken
  • As long as the boys are fed they don’t care much about what it is
  • AAU basketball is really a bummer
  • Only God can be trusted w/ your kids futures
  • You don’t really need to clean your house to have company
  • Coffee is a must have, always, everyday, anytime
  • Having all your boys under one roof is priceless
  • Having all you boys under one roof for days is gold
  • Seeing how they actually like each other and look out for each other is Life-giving
  • Having friends with babies helps when your babies are growing up
  • An entrepreneur husband is really the best
  • Also, really hard
  • Jesus always provides what you need
  • Trusting Him is like an adventure in itself and His servants are such gifts
  • We need each other
  • Our boys show a bit more of who they are becoming each year and God is faithful
  • Having chickens in your yard and real plants in your home= LIFE is around you
  • The gifts that He gives us are eternal, they last forever
  • I don’t know how, but I do believe it to be true
  • My kids do come home, even though they do leave
  • My kids do grow up but they are still growing up
  • Mostly, this….

God isn’t taking away my kids as they grow and mature and leave the nest, He is adding to me the privilege of watching them go into all that He has for them. He has had them all along. I have influence, prayers and perspective, new people to meet and welcome into my home, new possibilities of family and future girls 🙂 My eyes get to see what my faith was hoping for, one moment at a time. I have hope. Always.

Be encouraged, take a long deserved nap, linger as you shop or drink that coffee and know that your reward is in the future and there is such confidence in the God that holds that future. He makes up for the lost moments, He turns what was lost into that which is found. He brings to life our future as we trust Him. He is our living hope, so keep dreaming, keep setting your eyes on the horizon, fix them on Jesus.

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Soul Happy

The first great and primary business to which I ought to attend every day is to have my soul happy in the Lord~ George Mueller

George Mueller (Muller) has had a profound impact on my life. I have come to respect this man through his journals and the words of those who knew him. He took, very seriously, his relationship with the Lord as his primary concern. As a result, his testimony is full of provisions for his ministry as totally the Lord’s work, in that he took his burdens and requests to the Lord and to Him alone. When the provision would come, he would know that it came from the Lord’s hand, through the hands and feet of His people.

This is so challenging because of social media, not to mention all the discussion around community and belonging. We use up many words these days sharing all that is on our minds and all that concerns us. I wonder if it comes with a heavy price. It is often at the expense of doing honest work with the only One who can move the mountains that we are talking to others about. There is little room for the Lord to work on our behalf, because we are not looking to Him as our first great and primary business to which we ought to attend. 

Our souls need uplifting and our burdens, too. Today is a good day to have a fresh encounter with the Lord, I know I could use some soul happy. How about you?

Psalms For Living Journal Download

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A Psalms For Living Journal Sheet From My Devotion With Psalm 1

I am so excited!

The reason that I love the Psalms so much is that the writer gives me permission to feel emotions and to struggle through them. I can lay my heart bare before the Lord, be honest about how I am really feeling or what my thoughts really are. The Lord knows, anyway. I can tell myself and others the right way to think about something, however, sometimes those feelings, the really hard ones and really deep wounded ones, need to be confessed to God, and I need to know that He cares about how I feel and that He does not condemn me, no matter how irrational they may be…

These are the words that I penned in 2013 and they are still true today. When I started this blog, Psalms for Living, it was a space that I was able to share my heart and all that I was learning in the Psalms. The Psalms are, no doubt, a life-line for me. They became significant to me back in 2004 when I miscarried my first baby. Over the next ten years, I would remain in the Psalms through one of the darkest seasons of my life, and I can echo the Psalmist in Psalm 119:49-50, 92-93 “Remember the word to Your servant upon which You have caused me to hope. This is my comfort in my affliction, for Your word has given me life.” and “Unless Your law had been my delight, I would then have perished in my affliction. I will never forget Your precepts for by them You have given me life.

A few years ago, I put together a journal that I used in a class that I taught on the Psalms. The class was just an extension of my own time in the Psalms as I encouraged others to use the Psalms in their own journey with the Lord. The questions were meant to be a guide that helped them to engage with the scriptures in a fresh and new way. And to really take the time to get personal with how they were actually doing. You know that rhythm that feels off when life quiets for a bit and gets you really uncomfortable. I encouraged those in the class not to busy themselves away but instead use the Psalms to engage in a conversation and learn to listen to what God may have to say. I do know this. He has something to say to us. It is the only way to know Him experientially. When He begins to show you things that only you will understand, make no mistake, you too will find life.

I want to get these journal pages into your hands as well because I believe in them so much. There is work that only the Lord can do, and we need to create space in our lives to sit and hear from Him, get to know Him in the context of our own story, and then give away all that we learn to another generation that needs the same encouragement.  Click here for your own download of the Psalms for Living Journal Page and use it in your journey through the Psalms. I want to be able to continue this conversation with you, get into your hands more tools for your journey and be able to give you the preview of the rest of my story through the Psalms in my book that is finished and in the editing stages. To get the download at a discounted price, all you need to do is sign up with your email. You can also find the journal page in my Etsy Store, which I look forward to adding more tools for your encouragement. Please feel free to comment and share the page.

I consider it a great privilege to walk with you on your journey of faith!
Blessings,

Heather

P.S. My communication and blogs will begin to be posted through our email list. Join here to get the posts in your inbox. Thanks! Heather

What do we do with it all?

You know those times when your mind races from one thought to another and all the sudden you realize your pulse is racing and you feel overwhelmed? That is me right now.

Shooting guns

Dead bodies

Halloween

Friendly Costumes

End of quarter grades

College

Flu shots

Hurricanes victims

Dinner

Work

Bills

Christmas Vacation

Christmas presents

Election

Voting

Illness

Black lives matter

Immigrant lives matter

Jewish lives matter

High School Bible study

FCA

White supremacy

Blue lives matter

Babies matter

White lives matter

Men matter

My life matters

I. CAN NOT. EVEN. STOP

What do we do with it all? How do we never forget yet live in light of it all? The bible says that Jesus died to give us life and not only that but abundant life? Doesn’t feel much like it to me, does it to you?

As you search for the words to share with your families and friends and whomever, about the current state of our national affairs, let us consider, what is that one message that needs to be heard loud and clear. IF I only had one shot to get it right.

I would say, REMEMBER THE LORD. Time and again throughout the pages of scripture, after trial and devastation and death and bondage, wrongfully accused, or profound sin, God took over the story: mostly because it is HIS story, but also because He alone is able. Our only response is to stop still in our tracks and watch for the salvation of the Lord, then to join Him. He takes our mess and makes something beautiful.

I am a co-heir with Jesus. That means that all that is His is mine, but that does not make me Him. I am the hands and feet of Jesus, but that does not make me Jesus.

As a result, I am VERY careful to watch my mouth and how I insert myself into God’s story. Even now, I pray that the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in His sight.

To remember the Lord means to remember first and foremost, that He is the Most High God. Secondly, it would be awesome to remember that I am not God, nor other people. Next, make much of His great salvation, which is perfect, complete and lacking in nothing, for all who will believe on Him.  Then, after much praise and adoration for all that He has done and is doing, remember a most precious gift, His Spirit. The same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead LIVES inside of Every. Single. Believer. SAME. Neither different nor divisive nor against Himself.

So what will we do with this truth and how will you spend your words. Let us exalt His name above every other name and make sure our eyes are set toward Him, the Author and Finisher of our faith.

“I lift my eye to the hills, where does my help come from, my help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.” (Psalm 121)

#wetoo

Heather

#wetoo

Love covers. I try to teach my boys this every time they tell on each other. The motivation behind their “telling” isn’t for the one who did wrong, or funny, or stupid, or whatever. Rather there is a sense that someone was wronged, maybe themselves or maybe another, but most of the time, they tell on each other because one does not want the other to get away with “it.” Whatever “it” is. We tell other peoples stories all the time. It’s like it is our nature to expose, e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g.

We talk so much. Maybe this is a little more of a contrast for me because I live with six men. I can hardly get them to speak at all, unless, they are sharing someone else’s story and even then, it is only a few details. Not always is it a negative story, but nonetheless.

Also, we are sharing so much; our social media feeds are full of everything under the sun; vacations, family portraits, children’s milestones, and athletic accomplishments. We will post prayers needs or touching stories. These are good things.

Generally, however, my news feed is pretty depressing, pretty controversial, and with very little hope on the one hand. It is juxtaposed next to empowering messages of “love everybody, especially the marginalized, oppressed, orphaned or foreigner.” It is so confusing. Are we loving or exposing?  Are we sending out messages of love or hate? It sounds like love but doesn’t feel like love.

What if we were on the same team? So many are advocating for those who cannot “speak for themselves;” seemingly women and immigrants and diversity, yet each message is one-sided and divided.   I am a white female, raising five men in a pretty affluent community with many opportunities and privileges. I have many friends that are not white, and some who are immigrants and many are female. I want to learn and make an impact and bring change.  We adopt children and foster others. We send out tangible goods to those suffering all over the world. Many travel in person to pass out these items; and are the hands and feet of Jesus to the hurting and suffering. We sit in the hospitals and wait and comfort, we hold the hands of those who are fighting cancer or losing the battle. Suffering and shame have no favorites. We are all trying to raise and support our families.

Not one of us can change our past, our lineage, our heritage, our skin color or our origin of nationality. Having traveled to many places and cultures around the world, what I have found to be true is that all cultures have women who are barren, miscarry, or lose children. All suffer loss due to diseases. All have stories of abandonment or relational conflict and abuse. We are all generally the same, yet we exasperate our differences that should unite us and allow them to divide and even tear us apart.

Our stories, may have drama, poor choices, pain and loss, confusion and even worldly pursuits, as well as the parts of our stories that we had no control over. They led us to our Savior.

What He offered us was newness of life. Restoring years that locusts have eaten, bringing us into a new family and filling the gaps in our past with restoration and hope for a different future, one for ourselves and one we can give away to others.

You need to tell this story if this is you. If you have found Jesus in the middle of your mess, somehow, heard Him calling your name, you are changed. You have been made new, and the old has passed away. This does not erase your past or origins, but it does free us from them. What we should be advocating for is this same freedom for others. Our stories should be full of His grace and saving power.

Maybe you need reminding of this. We read about it, even comfort friends with it, but the victory will be powerful when we all live in the truth of His love and grace for us, personally. Our words are too many, and our lives are full of fear.

We need to join a new movement, a movement of newness. Ecclesiastes tells us that there is nothing new under the sun. Hatred, oppression, evil, lying, deception, fear, abuse, anger, death are not new. Yet, here is One, who has made a promise to make all things new, with the old passing away. Gone.

I want to start the #wetoo movement. If your broken story has led you to the One, True and Living God, then your past no longer defines you. You are a new creation in Christ Jesus. Let us join together and change the message that we are sending to the generations across our world and those that we are raising. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. There is nothing new under the sun. However, He is making all things new for us. You are not alone, I. Nor are you singled out, me. But you belong, we. #wetoo

I want to lift high the banner of love, the Love that we can know because He first loved us. When we unite around the banner of love and we stand united in the saving grace of Jesus, it is there that we can change our parts of the world, which can be so very different from each other, and help bring beauty from the ashes. Will you join me?

Share this page, tell your story of His saving grace and let us watch as the Banner of Christ is lifted high and we give glory to Him who ALONE is worthy of all praise.

Blessings to you!

Heather #wetoo

So Thankful

After a whirlwind of a summer, it is brought to a close, a little early, because of the year-round schedule of my two littles. The last little, as I stood on the curb of day two of first grade and public school, I just watched him climb the stairs of a school bus and thought, there he goes. Just like that, my last boy off to brave the world, seemingly, all alone. I have had a little one home with me for eighteen years.

I do not have another one to turn my attention to; actually, the other three that are still waiting on their first day of school are home, and this reality is not helpful as they too are accelerating through life at rapid speed.

My flesh wants to cave, fall inward on myself to despair. However, my faithful, near, God (who has promised me NEVER to leave nor forsake), is constantly whispering into my ear, I have them. I have them all, each one. My flesh wants to believe that the years are slipping away, the Spirit is telling me that the years are their journey to Him. He reminds me of the prayers that I spoke over and in the gap for them, He has them all. He has heard them all, even led me to pray them all and He. Has. NOT. Forgotten.

This is the deepest of breaths. My chest loosens its hold, and I rest in the sure, steadfastness of the creator of it all. Praise Him for He is worthy of all praise. As I consider Him as my Strong Tower, I crumble into my weakness and desperation, and He catches me. He holds me, and I am comforted that this life does not depend on me. I am too fragile to hold anything together, and I am thankful to Him who is not only Able but the Author, Sustainer, and Finisher of it all. Glory be to God, Almighty is His Name.

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Bittersweet

I have spent the last ten minutes looking up a word to describe the last few months. I could not find a word that adequately articulated my heartstrings. They are certainly playing a robust melody these days: From exuberance to deep pain. My friend touched on it pretty succinctly; “ there is a time to weep and a time to laugh; and a time to mourn and a time to dance.” (Ecclesiastes 3:4) It is a daily mixture of bitter and sweet. A happy moment is never far from the weight of a hard moment and to be present in each moment is an act of stewardship. Moments, no matter how hard or devastating or accomplishing and celebrated, we must be present.

I will jokingly say while moving through a big milestone, “my mantra is to feel nothing.”  Those words are telling to the condition of my feelings, and it helps me to keep it light in the moment. I have had several of those moments recently. First, my husband and I decided that God was leading us to do discipleship and leadership development full time. A huge career change that took months to discern and in early May, we launched from our current ministry position where we have served for almost 18 years. There is so much to say about this decision, but mostly, we are thankful to have raised our family in this community. It is our family. Bittersweet.

May also brought with it three graduations and two, really big birthdays. My youngest son, the baby, finished kindergarten. I have had a child on the preschool hall at our church for the last eighteen years:  So weird. Next, the middle guy finished middle school with a date to the dance, how is this possible? My fourth son turned ten. This is a big birthday around here because they can invite their friends to a sleepover, does not matter how many! That’s not all, my oldest baby, turned eighteen and graduated from high school. I keep looking back over my years with them and consider so much. If I linger too long, I cannot breathe and yet, there is anticipation of what is still to come. Bittersweet.

In the midst of all the celebrations and tear jerking moments, my friend battled cancer with her five year old baby and as devastating as that was and still is, she can say that Jesus won, not cancer, praising God for hope and the feeling of peace and the promise of the resurrection, in the most unbearable circumstances. All the while, another sweet friend was preparing to say goodbye to the baby that God had privileged her to conceive. She has watched the Lord do the miraculous over and over as she was able to give birth to him and hold him and though we are still praying fervently for His complete healing, she is testifying to His presence and nearness during this uncertain time; so very bitter mingled with hopeful sweetness.

These are only a few of the circumstances that I am praying through and for. I am heavy for those who are preparing or have already sent their children off to college, those battling sickness, hearing loss, infertility, depression, loss of a baby, suicide, loss of family members, unhealthy relationships, and political uncertainty, to name a few, all so very bitter. Yet, celebrating new birth, graduations, career change, marriage proposals, baseball, basketball, and all the fun summer activities, such sweetness.

I read a quote, recently, from Lysa TerKeurst, it said, “ Lord, please help us remember each day that You gave us emotions so we could experience life, not destroy it.”

This is just so good. This is the sweetness. To experience life is to bare each other’s burdens and to celebrate all the goodness of God, even in suffering. The suffering is not good, but God is. He gives us green pastures along the way as well as times of refreshing. He is the goodness. We cling to Him. I cling to Him, for myself, for others, and rest in the knowledge that other friends are clinging to Him for me. This is using our emotions to give life; stewarding well.  My daily salvation is found only in Him, but it is manifested in hard seasons by the faithful prayers of the righteous. To all of you who have prayed for our family, invested in my children, offered a meal, a helpful hand, an encouraging word…I lean into my helplessness on the prayers and thoughts that you have towards my family. It has saved me from desperation, many times over. Thank you. Please do not stop.

I consider it an honor to do the same for you as I think on you and your circumstances. May I never forget how your prayers have sustained me and I will seek to be faithful to each of you. Enjoy the pictures as a glimpse of all that the Lord has in His hands and only this is a very, very small view of the whole world that He is sovereign over. Glory is to Him who is able to do exceedingly and abundantly more than we ask or imagine: With our pain and with our milestones. We cannot even imagine the more He has for us, for you. Our emotions are meant to give life, not to destroy, let us be the sweet to the bitter.

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Congratulations!

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Class of 2018!

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HaPpY bIrThDay!

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That smile! MHS bound!

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Ten years, I cannot…

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Kindergarten done for #5!

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Bravery for Avery, we will never forget, you can still help… https://www.youcaring.com/parentsofaveryandyandemilyneill-1047204

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Pray for sweet Daniel!

I have no words.

Lately, it seems all I have to offer is prayer. I have SO MANY friends that are suffering through the hardest and most tragic seasons of their lives. Most of them involve their sweet children; their little babies. I have zero words to offer them. When I talk to them or ask about them, the questions are shallow. How are you doing? Do they need anything? There is so much more in my heart for them, but words are empty—minus God. I so desperately want to run to them, bring the meal, clean their spaces, watch the other children, and mostly, to say, “I see you and your suffering and I cannot imagine what you are going through.”

Yet, all I have to offer them is prayer. What an equally shallow statement. I may have zero words to offer them, but I have many words to offer on their behalf.   The work of Christ has enabled me safety in the presence of God, therefore, I can boldly enter the Holiest of places (Hebrews 10:19).  I can now approach Him with acceptance. I am welcomed there in His presence. So are you. Stop everything and consider this for a moment and be overwhelmed. You are accepted in the presence of God through the finishing work of Jesus, for you who believe.

Therefore, the best I have to offer them is prayer. This is truth. In some wonderful way, the Lord is moved with compassion by the prayers of His people. To express our broken hearts to Him, to bring our questions and concerns and fears to His lap, acknowledges Him as the only One who can do anything with our suffering. Even those who reject Him offer up to the cosmos positive thoughts or they hope to the wind that someone or something is listening. No one turns down a prayer in his or her time of need, I would assume. Yet, I am thankful that He is collecting our prayers in golden bowls of incense (Revelation 5:8). He does not miss even one.

When we get to the end of our “doing” and all we have left is prayer, please know that you are offering your best. To lift high the name of Jesus, who is the Author and the Finisher of our faith, is to call on Him who can move mountains, Who will raise dry bones to life again (Ezekiel 37), and will bring the peace that surpasses all understanding. Mostly, He will bring Himself, and that is everything.

Heather

Fear of doing it all wrong.

You know, just because there is a bandwagon, it doesn’t mean that you need to get on it. Even if it is going somewhere cool, that doesn’t mean it is for you. Over the holidays and snow days, I found myself on social media and the Internet more than usual. I was searching out gifts, design and reorganizing ideas, and even just inspiration for the home. Each search took me on a rabbit trail as I was led away to consider Whole 30, Paleo recipes, new exercise techniques, home remedies to fight the flu and cold, immunity boosters, anti-inflammatory foods. I looked at non-chemical cleansers, and Essential oils. In each of those pursuits, I wanted to find what was the best, the safest, most inexpensive, most recommended products or ideas. I also found many friends, and others, complaining or complimenting a certain “must have” or “this saved my life.” Of course I want to save the lives of my family and have the best “whatever’ that is out there. However, what it got me was depressed and frustrated.

We are naturally driven, as we are created in the image of God, to create, discover, and even to want to know everything. Knowledge is a beautiful thing. Sharing that knowledge is equally noble and encouraged as we learn new and better ways of doing this or that. Especially if we learn that the ol’ boxed cake mix that saved our grandmothers hours in the kitchen and a “must have,” would actually be a contributor to health issues in the modern age. What about the cleanser that was found to attack disease and germs that “saved their lives,” literally, is now found to be toxic? However, the criticisms and blame to the generations before us is pretty shallow of us. Especially if history repeats and some of what we are doing today will be found to have similar repercussions in the future. Honestly, where does the healing and the innovation and the discovery come from and who should get the credit? We are stewards of this creative process. Yet, we are often throwing the baby out with the bath water. Regardless, it is too much for this busy momma of five with kids in five different schools and a full time ministry to support with my husband. I have very little margin and finances to research and bring the change that my computer is “guilting” me into considering.

That is what I feel most days, guilty. In addition, I worry about ignoring that claim or not implementing that change and what if my children get sick or have heart disease or if I am the cause of allergies and inflammatory diseases. I am the mother and I should know and do better for my family. If there is an answer, I need to know it and do something about it. Truth is, it can be noise in my head, drowning out the still small voice that I am so desperate to hear. I need His voice; saying to me, this is the way, walk in it.

I had four children before I had access to the Internet on my phone. I had three before I really had access to the Internet, as we know it, now. I nursed babies in the middle of the night before I had Pinterest or Facebook to entertain me. I was forced to pray and ask for answers and beg Him to help them go to sleep before there was an online community to console my tired heart. Then I had one, who by now, after four sons, I should have a little confidence and clarity on what to do. Twelve years of experience should offer me more context than any of the others before. Not to mention that I have walked through these early years with many of my “daughters.”

With this one son, I had more fear and more uncertainty than any of the others before. To be fair, the entirety of my motherhood experience has been pretty overwhelming and at times full of fear. However, this is different. When I would search the Internet early on, I was really trying to remember or seek advice on a method, or suggestion in my heart, to consider. What I often found was validation for all the reasons I had fear to begin with. Over time, I became full of fear, anxious and doubting. I spent so much of my time wrestling with my flesh to believe God and trust Him and not succumb to the “realities” portrayed on-line.

The Internet is not infallible and all- knowing and worthy of our trust. It is not God or His Word. We have become so proficient in computers that they have become our go-to for everything. Some answers are not found there. Some answers require fasting and prayer. Some answers require submission to the All-knowing, Infallible and Trustworthy, Creator of us all. Yet we are often so spiritually numb that we cannot discern His voice over the voices of others and find ourselves sucked into the cycle and pull of gravity away from intimacy with God and dependence on His voice alone. My fear and anxiety is only calmed by remembering and turning to Him who is able to do exceeding more than I could ever ask or imagine. It is amplified by my time on social media and most times I leave more discouraged than when I began.

If this is the “year of the woman,” (and I will come back to that on another post), then what a better start than to get a handle on our computer access, and even the authority we allow it to hold in our lives. Let us get busy making that difference in our worlds by modeling a devoted life, yielded to the Word of God, busying ourselves with the work of our hands and living a quiet life, and many times, minding our own business (Thessalonians 4:11). We will only effectively change the World by being committed to the Word of God and being able to discern His voice over all the others. The Internet, and its opinions and advice are not going anywhere and I will acknowledge it has a place of goodness in our lives. To place boundaries, and maybe even un-follow or disengage with certain sites or people that provoke fear, is wise.

A true community is one that you meet with face-to-face or is a trusted source that the on-line community allows for you to maintain over the miles. We all benefit from people that can help us sort through questions and discern a plan of action where needed. Many times I have faced uncertainty and sought out Godly, trustworthy people to help me by telling me if I was thinking correctly, offer me advice and most often just pray for me while I wrestled with the uncertainty in my heart. The value of the community of Christ, who are in His Word and reminding me of His faithfulness and love for me and my family, has more than once, saved me from myself and the hopelessness that sneaks around seeking to destroy me.

May we be Women of the Word-confident in this one thing-that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. May you seek a community of Faith-filled encouragers to stay the course, run your race and cheer you on to the finish line.

Blessings,

Heather

You belong here.

It is hard to follow a blog post titled, “I Think I Am Mad at Jen Hatmaker.” I recognize the title is intriguing and it was meant to be so. However, to expound on the point that I was trying to make is continued here.

Something is happening around the table these days. Words like gathering, breaking bread and authentic community are describing a movement of acceptance. With the current climate of diversity and division, many are inviting others to their table for communion. A demonstration of love to say to their guest, “you belong here.” Having grown up in the South, this idea of hospitality is familiar to me. I have shared a meal with others who were invited to join the family holiday. When we carry that same hospitality throughout the entire year, bringing others to the table is a powerful demonstration.

When I offer someone food to eat, I feel as though I am offering my heart to them. I am saying without words, “I care about you.” Food satisfies a basic need and to prepare it is a labor of love. Many times, I leave in tears after I drop off food for some event or person in need. It is such a tender moment of provision. However, when some one does not receive my offer of food or if I fear that they will not like it, I battle the personal feeling of rejection. Similarly, when some one feeds my family, I feel so loved and cared for, and when I am serving the food, I am saying, “you are loved.”

The connection that is made around the table with food is so incredible that it lends itself to a deeper question. What is the purpose? There is something much greater represented in the exchange of food, and if we are not intentional, we might miss it entirely. Something spiritual happens when we share a meal together whether we acknowledge it or not. There is a Creator God who is so intimate in the pursuit of His creation. It is communicated so lovingly through the breaking of bread. When we share the table with the marginalized, the lonely, a new acquaintance, old friend, or even family, we bring them into a space of intimacy. We are experiencing that which the Lord desires to give to each of us, a place at His table where we are fully accepted and fully known. This resonates as true authentic fellowship, yet it is only a shadow of what He desires to give to each one who will receive His invitation.

In the beginning was the Word and the Word was God. Further, man cannot live on bread alone, but every word that precedes from the mouth of God. The intimacy and acceptance found around a table of communion is that which is offered in the reading of the Word of God. If we are not careful, we will satisfy the deep craving of belonging with the temporary sharing of a meal when He offers us a permanent seat around His table; His feast. Through His Word, He gives us our daily bread, He leads us beside the still waters and He restores our soul.

The sharing of food is a profound exchange. The Lord felt it very important to have one last supper before He walked down Calvary Road. He communed not only with the disciples, but also with the one, who would soon after, betray Him. The table of acceptance and the fellowship of community only served as a means for Jesus of Nazareth to offer Himself to them for the greater purpose of knowing Him and His eternal provision: Salvation. “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger and he who believes in Me shall never thirst” (John 6:35).

When we gather around the table this holiday may we be very intentional to offer more than the food that we have prepared, may we offer Jesus, the living, breathing, active Word of God: Our Daily Bread.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Heather