How are you doing?

Almost four weeks in and I thought I would see how you are doing.

In the beginning, things shifted so fast and the response was like a threat of a hurricane or a possible power outage because of a winter advisory; this was our crisis context and everyone stocked up on food and essentials 🙂 Four weeks later, we have had to replenish our pantries and we have a better idea of this new normal. Maybe for many of you, life hasn’t become too uncomfortable. I have heard of new gardens being planted and home projects rising to the top of the list. However, I also know of many who are leaving their family’s serving others so courageously while their significant others are braving the homefront. Well done and many prayers for you.

Maybe, like me, you might be resting and recovering from a long, over-extended, several seasons long of over-stimulated, worry-filled hustle from one urgent need to another. Those are too many words to say –I was done. I had zero bandwidth to handle many of life’s basic decisions. I felt like everything was spiraling out of control.

I think it is wise to stop and really consider how you are, and also those around you. Maybe you are busying yourselves to distract from the present reality or avoiding the reality all together trying to maintain sanity.  Think about how quickly you might have drifted into autopilot or old habits. Someone asked me how we were doing and I responded that it felt like summer. My early intentions of order and reclaiming my children quickly shifted into summer routines of late nights and later mornings. My familiar.

I, like so many of you, want to steward this time carefully, I want to emerge from the house, a better person, more devoted to God, my family, and my neighbor. Devoted in the ways that actually matter. I want my children to be better people, more devoted to God, their families, and their neighbors. Devoted in the ways that actually matter. Yet, where do we begin? How do we cultivate something new that will yield something different and lovely?

Earlier this week, I was reading scripture and praying. I was reflecting on the Holiness of God. In the quietness of my own heart, I was seeking God and asking Him for many things, “be Holy, as I am Holy” was this topic of my devotional. I reluctantly offered a soft question to the Lord, “is my marriage holy? Is the relationship with each of my children holy?” I could not go any further. I asked the Lord to make me willing to hear His answer. To engage in the hard work of purification feels like a “do better” assignment.  I am tired, I want to rest and wait for this pandemic to end. I want to busy myself in organizing my house or getting my boys on a schedule of chores and more discipline. I want to skirt this issue and put it off to another day.

The next morning, as I was reading and praying again, I was reminded (and maybe avoiding the Lord about holiness) that He is made perfect in my weakness. I was encouraged in my own insufficiencies, that this is the environment/context for the Lord to do His greatest work. Most likely, the reason why it seems this topic of holiness is so hard is that it is so important. These relationships matter the most to me on this earth. They scare me the most. I have dreams for them, expectations for them. I have sought God the hardest for them. I have shed the most tears. They are my weakest spot. It feels hard because it is hard. They reveal so much about me and my relationship with God.

So imagine how encouraged I was as I connected my previous day of asking, rather gently, for the Lord to show me where I needed to pursue holiness in my relationships. It is easy to sing about the holiness of God but it is another thing entirely to consider my own holiness. My natural response is shame or condemnation because so often I do not measure up.  However, to know that it is not me trying to do better but rather me letting Him have control, to yield to Him, “not my will but thy will be done.”  These may be the hardest words to come out of my mouth.

How is it with you? Honestly? Having everyone under the same roof, while it is wonderful, it is also the perfect environment to really see how we are handling each other. It shines a light on the true condition of our own hearts. Are we lazy, hiding, afraid, bitter, worried, tired, ignoring, or undisciplined? Are we kind, loving, gentle, patient, joyful, peaceful, and practicing self-control?

It is hard to re-engage our people into meaningful conversations. I remember Chad telling me to work on asking the right questions when I was complaining to him about getting our teenagers to talk and open up.  So I googled it. Anyway, being intentional with your people is crucial in that you are not doing this to satisfy some need you have for connection or emotional validity. Rather, this is about softening their hearts that they may hear God when He speaks to them, connecting the dots of God’s provision or activity in their lives. Maybe, most importantly, helping them to see God’s nudge of faithfulness and love for them, maybe you need to be reminded, too. It is also important to pay attention to the people in their lives so you know how to pray.  Do you pray for their friends? Their co-workers? Important opportunities?

During this holy week, as we remember and lift high Christ and all He has done for us, be willing to look upon His gaze and take courage to consider your own heart. Would you softly ask the Lord as David did, in Psalms 139:23, to search me and try me and see where there is any unclean thing within me and then ask as he did in Psalms 51 to create in me a clean heart and to renew a steadfast spirit within me and to restore to me the joy of Your salvation?

It is hard to consider, but the longing or emptiness in our hearts will not be alleviated with the return of our work and freedoms. The emptiness will only be filled with yielding to the Lord and letting His strength prove Himself faithful in the scared, fearful, controlling places of our hearts. Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind (Roman 12:2). He has certainly helped us with the first part by pushing pause on the world as we know it and now for us to allow Him to do the second part of transformation.   Let us do this together and come out on the other side more devoted to our God and to our families and to our neighbors, and I would bet, we will be more fulfilled and effective with God’s plan and purpose in our homes and communities.

Our relationships will be stronger. The fight will be worth it.

Heather

Salvation is Here…

Looking to Jesus, the Author and Finisher of my faith. I have read and concerned myself with what others are saying. I am an information gatherer, I cannot help myself, I read, take in, contemplate and then I discuss my “findings’ with God and others, mainly with God and myself, many times, just myself.

I cannot add any more to the already numerous stories circulating from the health professionals. Those who are on the front lines are doing their jobs to keep us informed.  (Bless them all!)  Also, I am definitely being reassured by all the scriptures and songs and messages that are posted to remind me where my help, and hope, comes from, (Jesus) and that He has not given me a spirit of fear (so true and I need this voice screaming the loudest in my head). These truths keep me grounded and then, only then, can I hear the next steps for me and my family. This is so hard. Lord, may your voice be the loudest, AMEN.

When all the voices are screaming at the same time, I am reminded by George Mueller to make it my first priority to be happy in the Lord, I stop and restart. This is more revealing as to the actual state of my heart. Reveals more of where my confidence is coming from, an unsteady heart is an evidence that I need more of Him to fill in the gaps.

So, I hopped on here to share where my thoughts are right now about all that is going on.

Many years ago, God taught me through personal study, underscored by my early influence of Henry Blackaby, to look to where I see God working and join Him. I expand this to include, listen to what God may be saying, corporately, and hear Him. We can sometimes get so individual with our spiritual lives. Our time with the Lord becomes so personal and about our own family and their needs, that we sometimes forget the birds-eye view of the Nations. I believe that if we are not careful, we will miss God’s mercy in all that seems pandemic. As the children of Israel were being rescued out of Eygpt, it looked a lot like a pandemic, of greater proportions, yet it was God rescuing them from bondage and slavery. I believe most of them may not have even realized they were in bondage to Eygpt. They were content to live and work for another culture and a system other than the one God had promised them many, many years before.

This story of the Nation of Israel was written to teach us something about God, the Exodus certainly upset the people of Israel, their days in the wilderness would prove hard and the normal exchanged for something new. So many of us have used the analogy of wilderness living and looking to the hope/promise of the Promised Land. Desert lands of our souls desperate for the waters of God to satisfy. He does say that He is our daily bread and will satisfy our thirst forevermore. We get that, there is a day when all that is hard and unbearable will pass away. Many desperate prayers have been offered up, begging God to move, redeem, rescue, and bless. Is He answering us now? The circumstances of life are not the result of an un-present God leaving life to random events. It is His story unfolding. He is the same, never-changing God and we need to listen up.

Maybe, just maybe, God is remembering His promises to His children, maybe He is answering our prayers, maybe when we look back on this season we will see clearly God’s rescue, redemption, and great merciful blessing. Let me connect the dots.

  • List the most recent, fervent prayers. The ones that have persisted for years. Prayers for your family’s salvation, prayers for your children and their spouses, to love God with all their hearts, soul, mind and strength. Prayers for the lost. Remember the Bible says that the fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. This scare has every persons’ attention. The Lord will speak the loudest in the ear of man when they are stripped down to wilderness, basic, living.  What is He saying? We do not have to guess, we just need to remember. He has already spoken. Read the scriptures, make it the focus of our conversations. The nations are listening, what will they hear?
  • IF you are like me, as your children and family members get older, time feels like it is running out and we are losing the battle. Time is slipping away so fast, and the world with it, as the news is constantly bombarding us with all the catastrophes, persistent evil, and natural disasters. We escape into our world of distractions and fantasize about better days. We entertain ourselves non-stop and watch others’ dreams come true on-line and on TV. We take in so much of the world and it begins to numb us of reality and we forget why we are here. We begin to hope for that which is already given. Our confidence shifts. We give lip service to our God when our hearts are fighting to stay close to Him yet we are slipping farther away. I feel this often as the Psalmist says, why are you cast down, oh my soul, hope in God. Remember how he rescued you from your enemies and did great things for you.
  • Having a hard time remembering, are you wondering where God is and why He seems silent? He knows we need reminding, and He also knows that we so quickly turn our eyes to other things and resists His nudge. Today, He is waking us up from our slumber. We cannot run from the discomfort in our hearts. It is His mercy. We can certainly explain away the weirdness in our hearts to the current circumstances, there is wisdom there. Yet, do not let it mask the greater question in your heart, is it well with my soul?  Will you choose to remember? His word is His revelation to us about Who He is and we can be reminded by reading what it says. Make it your utmost priority to settle this in your own heart. Jesus asked his disciples in the gospels, “Who do you say that I am?” We get much comfort from others and their profession of Christ, but do not let the momentary testimony of someone else, bandage the deprivation of longing in your own heart.
  • Maybe He is speaking to you. Are you so busy consuming more of the world and its suggestions and findings that you are missing His presence? Can we look up and see Him standing, fighting for our gaze to be placed on Him? He has always been about the Nations, and the Nations are made up of people. The people are you and me and He will corporately accomplish His plan, yet he is so personally concerned with each of us. So much so that He will pause life as we know it, remove the obstacles that draw our attention away from Him, so that we might see Him.
  • He has removed the distractions, using that which is closest to our hearts, our lives and the lives of others. Sports, concerts, public gatherings, of all kinds, that are relevant to your interests, and schools, etc, are canceled. He is forcing our hand to reset. He is giving us an opportunity to regroup. Remember last month when we thought the time was flying so fast, I think God heard you and He has slowed down the time. Remember when you wished you had more time with your family, I think God heard you, and He has made a way for you. Remember when you hoped that all their activities would not be a distraction for your children to know God and hear from Him, but rather a platform for good? I think God heard you and He is reminding them that all things are fleeting and hold on loosely and be thankful for the gifts and talents. Let us thank Him. Time and presence are a gift from the Lord, but let us not stop there. Prioritize time and presence with the Lord, the healing balm of Gilead.
  • Do you see where I am going with all this? We have been given a gift to help us redeem the time. For me, I am desperate to capitalize on it but very scared that I will miss it, it will be hard to reset my boys, their habits are strong. I am asking God for strength, for steadfastness and to push through. Chad and I just might get some projects done around the house that their extracurricular activities have squeezed out! (though I am so sad for the cancellations of sports, we are a sports family and have a lot of expectation of the aforementioned “platform for good” statement) Also, we might have many dinners around the table and my littles will have their big brothers home more. Lemons turned to lemonade. Truly, though, it is not about spring cleaning and chores, it is about keeping the hearts of my boys soft and tender. I want them to exercise the muscle of responsibility, hard work for others to benefit, sacrifice, and self-denial. The more they seep out into the world, the more they drift into self-preservation and gratification. At the end of this time, if we only have clean houses and organized spaces with memories spent around a table, it will be shallow if we do not consider the greater work of sowing a seed of righteousness. It takes courage to chase after our kids. They will bow up and push back, but this is not the time to cave. This is the time to stand firm.
  • Spring is here, it is the season of new birth. After a long and dormant winter, we always look to spring as a reminder of life after death. Do not mistake the fear, the anxiety, the change of plans that causes uncertainty to confuse you. The hard work of holding our families close and seeking the Lord with all our hearts and confronting our own brokenness is the pathway to life. Just as the pollen can wreak havoc on our sinuses, and cause us much discomfort yet without it we would not have all the beauty of the blooming trees and flowers. Let us consider that maybe God is pollinating our lives preparing us for new-birth. Today life and death have been set before us, let us choose life over and over again. The uncertainty in your heart may be an invitation for God to fill you with His love, don’t run from it or try to fill it with another distraction, run to Him and let Him fill in the gap with faith, with Himself.

I am certain that what the enemy means for evil, God means for good. Rest assured, it is hard to know that many lives are being lost and there is much suffering around the world, but that isn’t new news. This isolation is the daily concern for so many all the time. This global microphone is just highlighting the reality for humanity that life is fragile, and that at any moment it can all be taken away. It removes the smokescreen of stability and we realize that we really do not have control over it. Yet, this is the good news. While it seems scary and uncertain, it is meant to remind us that we have a living, breathing, very certain, sustaining and everlasting hope in Christ Jesus. Rather than doom and gloom and despair, maybe it is a “now that I have your attention, will you return to your first love, and ask Him to return to you the joy of your salvation, that souls may be saved and that His will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. It is not hard to feel that the world is in a most desperate and impossible place.

But maybe, just maybe. We can look up.

Look up and see the salvation of the Lord. For any who would believe on the Lord Jesus will be saved. For anyone who confesses their sins, He is faithful and just to forgive them of their sins and cleanse them from all unrighteousness. The Bible says in Romans 14:23b, for whatever is not from faith is sin. Let us repent from our faithlessness and turn to Him in faith and receive all that He has for us, with expectant hearts. For the Lord is strong and mighty to save. At the end of the day, that is our heart’s loudest cry, whether you recognize it or not, for salvation to come to our people. Rest assured, Salvation is here.

Could this restlessness that you are feeling in your heart actually be an invitation to come to Him and find rest, rest for today as we cast all our cares upon Him and rest for our souls, that we would know Him and His great salvation to come? For there will come a day where there will be no more tears, no more pain, and no more suffering, until that day, He has promised to never leave nor forsake. Will you trust Him at His word? For we will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.

Heather

Dreams do come true…

I wonder how many of us have become so complacent and dulled to life as we know it, that the memories of promises made years ago, that are deep in our hearts, have long faded? I’ve mulled over this for days now. Do we even remember what they are? As seasons come and go, so often, so go our expectations. Did God say that He delivered us, set our feet in a broad place, and counted us as worthy of brotherhood, co-heirs with Jesus? Is there a purpose, higher than the day to day grind? Is pulling up my bootstraps each day the catalyst for doing the hard stuff, getting past the opposition?

Often, our current attitude resembles that of bondage, hardship, struggle, and more of the same. We are bombarded daily with hassles that forge a reality so different than the One we sing about in worship on the weekends or the One we read about in our few minutes of devotion. Life as we know it, the days turn into weeks, weeks turn into months, months turn into years. Dreams disappear. Life becomes about survival, trying not to die, and in the meantime, we forget to live.

The Israelites found themselves in Egypt for over 400 years. Josephs’ family of seventy people that joined him there during the famine had grown to over a million. Life as they knew it in Egypt, maybe a promise long ago, was forgotten or was hidden by the day to day while living among the Egyptians. Generations had come and gone. Complacent? Maybe. Normalized into a different culture? Most likely.

It wasn’t until a new Pharaoh came on the scene who did not know of Joseph and the favor the Israelites received during the famine over 400 YEARS BEFORE. He looked around and saw how many Israelites were among them and decided that they just might, suddenly, take over. Slavery, oppression, and bondage are words that are often used to describe this time for the nation of Israel. They cried out to God. He heard their cry. He remembered (and no, He never forgot) His covenant and promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He made a promise to make them a great nation, to give them a land to dwell in, that they would be His people, and He would be their God. A hope and a future, abundantly.

It would seem, based on the text, it was not until they were suffering under the hand of Pharaoh did they cry out to God for deliverance. They were pressed down in their circumstances and began to ask God for help. We know from reading the story that God heard the cries of His people, but it would still take time for His plan for the Exodus to manifest itself in an actual journey. He would raise Moses, send him back to Egypt, and then bring along Aaron to help confront Pharaoh.

We have the insight as to the purpose of the plagues and all the hardships. We even know the end of the story. It was never the plan to remain in Eygpt. They were uprooted. The day to day life became one of slavery and oppression. They became desperate and wanted relief. It was through the struggle that God was delivering them up and out of a land of bondage to fulfill a promise made so many years before. I am not sure they knew that they needed delivering until the hard times came, they most likely would never have even asked for help had it not gotten so hard. Yet, a bigger story was still hanging in the valence, and the future of a nation was at stake: A picture of a Kingdom to come and God’s will, yet to be done. Life everlasting.

It would not be a comfortable journey for the nation of Israel to relocate to the desert on their way to a land promised generations before. However, it is in this time of rescuing, that the Lord removed the clutches of the familiar world. He begins to awaken in them a longing that there is something more. He begins to show them who the God of Israel is. Pretty crucial for the days ahead. Pretty essential for us, too, as believers.

It makes me consider the clutches of today’s’ culture on the people of God. We live in a world that, at the heart level, is no different than the days of old. There is low hanging fruit, and glittering lights all around, that distract us, draws us in, and causes us to forget why we are here and the more significant work of the Kingdom. We settle for temporary satisfaction while thirsting for real impact and purpose, which dulls the God- placed desires in us to be used with our talents, dreams, and lives, for His glory and renown.

The grip this world has over us is manifest in our obsessions: Family, money, health, safety, experiences, comfort, fighting for injustice, or politics. These are all important things when placed the right order. Could it be that all that we see, and maybe all the oppression and frustrations we are feeling, are just the beginning? It compels us to cry out to God for all the uncertainty and confusion; for all the pain and suffering we see around us, in us. There are new desires that awaken in our hearts, big dreams remembered, and the same promises of deliverance to a generation.

I believe that He has heard our cry and that He is actively working right now to bring forth leaders like Moses and Aaron, like you and I, to unveil the Glory of our God. We are reminded of His promises, and we are on our way to a Promised Land. The uprooting is His deliverance. Every day there is more uncovering of the heart of man. The exposure of all that hides in our hearts reminds me of Who this God of Israel is. He is the Most High God, the only One worthy of our praise, and He deeply desires for His Kingdom to come on earth as it is in Heaven. He is also Holy, powerful, and working to accomplish His will. It should caution us to remember, we should allow Him to search us and try us and see if there is any unclean thing within us and lead us in the way of righteousness.

He is the gift-giver. He is the dream-fulfiller. He gives us the desires of our hearts. We do not need to be greedy and hold on to the worldly passions but offer ourselves to Him for the manifestation of His glory in us and through us as He fulfills these desires.

Let us look to the God of the Nations, see Him moving mightily to the rescue, and let us behold Him and proclaim to the world His redemption to all humanity for anyone who would believe in His Son, Jesus. Come, just as you are, for He who is Holy, has made the way for you to enter His Promised Land, to be used, all that He has made you to be, for good works. To Him, be all glory and honor and praise. Amen.

Happiest of Thanksgivings to you and yours,

Heather

 

Remember…

On Tuesday, September 11, 2001, I started my morning, as usual, caring for my one-year-old son. My neighbor, Kendra Graham, knocked on my door and asked me if I had seen the news? I turned on the television and we stood there in my living room and watched the replay of the morning events. We spent most of that day watching the coverage on the news, praying often/constantly, and just in disbelief. 

The next day, Chad, preached a message in the little chapel at our church from Psalm 33. I remember it so vividly. He asked the question “Where is God?” Certainly, after such a day of devastation, that was a normal question. What does this mean now? This is what the Psalmist had to say and this is what Chad’s message reminded us of and this is still true today.

Psalm 33:10-22

The Lord brings the counsel of the nations to nothing; He makes the plans of the peoples of no effect.

(This really was something, fearful, devastating yet God will not let this change His plan)

 The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the plans of His heart to all generations.

(This was but for a moment, but God is faithful to each and all generations, Praise!)

Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people He has chosen as His own inheritance. The Lord looks from heaven; He sees all the sons of men.

(Where is God? He is looking and watching and sees all)

From the place of His dwelling He looks on all the inhabitants of the earth;

(He has not moved from His dwelling)

 He fashions their hearts individually; He considers all their works.

(He is watching and considering)

 No king is saved by the multitude of an army; a mighty man is not delivered by great strength.

(We do not need to worry or put our trust in man)

 A horse is a vain hope for safety; neither shall it deliver any by its great strength. Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him, on those who hope in His mercy, to deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive in famine.

 Our soul waits for the Lord; He is our help and our shield.

(Wait on the Lord!)

 For our heart shall rejoice in Him, because we have trusted in His holy name.

(Rejoice in Him)

 Let Your mercy, O Lord, be upon us, just as we hope in You.

(Stand confident in HOPE!)

As we remember 9/11, I thought this was still a pertinent question considering the continual onslaught of devastating stories that can fill our news feeds and therefore fill our thoughts. This reminder is timeless. 

Trust in the Lord, His plans will not be removed, He has not left His dwelling place and His eyes are locked in on His beloved. We need not to worry or put our trust in man or worldly provisions, wait on the Lord, for salvation will come and has come, so rejoice and stand confident. He is our Hope!

Women Warriors…

My soul melts from heaviness; strengthen me according to Your word. Remove from me the way of lying, and grant me Your law graciously. I have chosen the way of truth…

My soul melts from heaviness…what a visual picture this is. Snow melts away and is no more. Ice turns into a liquid and evaporates. Heaviness melting our souls away…till we are no more. This is tragic. Yet I understand it so well. The feelings that things will never, ever, ever change. Thinking how hard it is to get up and do it all over again tomorrow. Being so afraid to go to sleep because I had worked so very hard that day to believe. It is so tiring somedays just to be. Putting one foot in front of the other; is this all? When will it be different? Or more daunting, can it ever be different?

Yet the Psalmist here seems to insist that the remedy to our heavy hearts are the words of our Lord…remember the word to your servant upon which you have caused me to hope…What follows next is quite insightful…remove from me the way of lying and grant me your law graciously…chosing the way of truth and removing the way of lying is the remedy for the heavy heart. It is the healing Balm of Gilead.  Interacting with the Word of God is interacting with God Himself. When we come face to face with Jesus and hear from Him, why is it that we suppress the truth and believe the lie and therefore, stay in heavy places? The lie that He has abandoned us, the lie that He does not care or that He is not, actually, able. Maybe it is that I am not good enough or that applies to others, not me. 

What if the heaviness of our heart is an indication that we are struggling to believe what is true? This does not mean that we are not rightfully in a hard, heavy place, but our heaviness is a symptom that shouldn’t be ignored. Most of the time we give into the struggle and allow our words and our responses to compromise what we profess to believe about God.  Our thoughts go wild in worry and defeat. We then, unknowingly, begin to tell a different story about who God is.

The psalmists response to his own heavy heart is to chose the way of truth…cling to Your testimonies…run the course. The result? This is just too amazing and so like God. He takes the heavy heart and He enlarges it. He expands our ability to handle life as it is coming at us so fast and so impossible and grows our ability to believe. The fight for truth is an important fight of faith. Women warriors, those women of great faith, are trained in the midst of hard, heavy places and will tell the testimony of our great God of whom there is no comparison. May the story we tell be consistent to the goodness of God and His unfailing love for you.  Remember the words He has already spoken, allow the truth of who He is to enlarge your heart in faith and trust, and let us praise Him, in whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.

With love,

Heather

Psalm 119:28-32 adapted, John 1 referenced, James 1 referenced

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