Don’t Worry, I’ll fix IT

I’m a fixer.  I fix things.  It’s what I do.  Someone’s got a problem?  Tell me, and I’ll fix it.  My friends even gave me the nickname “Miss Fix It” in high school.  This personality trait can get me into trouble, however.  I have the tendency to attempt to solve the problem immediately in a manner I think is best instead of consulting the Ultimate Fixer, God.  I can be impatient, determined that the problem must be solved ASAP, and convinced that my way is clearly the best.

Abraham’s wife Sarah and I have this trait in common. God has told Abraham and Sarah that their descendants would be as numerous as the stars, despite the fact that they are both very old and at the time childless. We then learn in Genesis 16 that Sarah takes the matter into her own hands and tries to fix it. She sends her slave, Hagar, into her husband’s arms:

“Go, sleep with my slave; perhaps I can build a family through her.” Genesis 16:2b

Notice the keyword “I” in that verse. Long story short, this plan doesn’t work out. The results of that decision include hostility, catfights, and homelessness. We may not have much patience but thankfully our sovereign Lord does. He has the patience to let us make mistakes but receive us with open arms afterwards. Even though Sarah tries to fix it, God still blesses her with a son and her and Abraham’s descendants are indeed as numerous as the stars.

As I’ve gotten older and tried to fix oh-so-many things, I’ve learned that life is a lot easier if I sit in the back seat and let Him be the driver. He doesn’t even need me to be the navigator! I can take a nap, drink a Coke, listen to music, and do whatever I want (I’d probably choose the nap option to be honest).  And, that’s not a bad way to live. Consider Jesus’s own words in Matthew 11:28-30 NIV and let His peace wash over you:

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.

The Message translates the last part of verse 30 like this, “Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Wow, what a concept! The Creator of the universe doesn’t need me to fix it . . .

About the Writer:
Natalie is a stay at home mom to two young boys. Additionally, she occasionally works as an emergency room nurse and is studying to become a Nurse Practitioner. She and her husband have been called into the medical mission field and are excited to see what the Lord has in store for their lives.

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Finding Comfort Where God has Placed You

When you look up the name Joshua in the Bible, you find words like conqueror, leader, and warrior – all inspiring titles. But from where I sit, my days look anything but heroic.

I know there are many lessons to be learned from Joshua’s courage and obedience during his conquests towards the promised land.  However, in this season of motherhood where I find myself battling the world’s pressure for an explanation of my life’s purpose, I crave a way to connect more deeply with Joshua’s story. All of our stories start somewhere, after all, and as someone who feels as if I’m floating around in that ‘somewhere’ part of life, I wanted to look at where Joshua came from. What made him who he was? How was he able to discern the will of the Lord so clearly? How was he able to lead so confidently?

The very first mention of Joshua in the Bible occurs in chapter 17 of Exodus. We open on his life somewhere around the age of 40-45 years old when Moses chooses Joshua to lead the Israelites against Amalek. Moses tells Joshua,

Choose men for us and go out, fight against Amalek. Tomorrow I will station myself on the top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand.” Joshua did as Moses told him, and fought against Amalek; and Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. So it came about when Moses held his hand up, that Israel prevailed, and when he let his hand down, Amalek prevailed. Exodus 17:9-11. 

After Moses’ arms grew weary on top of the hill, Aaron and Hur supported his body as he held up the staff until the Israelites had won. Verse 14 continues, Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Write this in a book as a memorial and recite it to Joshua, that I will utterly blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven.’ ” (Exodus 17:14).

We see God giving Joshua an opportunity to learn first-hand what courage and obedience looked like in Moses, a man who knew God face-to-face. Moments like this were used by God to prepare Joshua both mentally and spiritually to become the successor to Moses who 40 years later in leading the Israelites into the promised land. Now you and I may not be leading a nation anytime soon, but the message I take from this is to live today exactly how God has instructed you. Walk in obedience. Absorb every moment. God has divinely planned these circumstances to teach and prepare you for the purpose to which He has called you.

Our obedience fills the gap between having faith IN God and experiencing victory THROUGH God.

Every time I read this story, I linger on verse 14; God tells Moses to recite it back to Joshua after writing it down. Joshua needed to be trained from the beginning of his leadership role that any victory experienced was a demonstration of God fulfilling His promise.Women, we are to recite the faithful promises of God to those around us. Through this, glory will always be given to God and we will recognize how our obedience in faith can be used by God to accomplish victory.

Just as Joshua’s future was forever defined by the example he had in watching the faith and leadership of Moses, we too can learn from the generation before us. And then we can turn around and fill that same role for the generation  after us. You are exactly where God wants you to be. Lead and be led.

About the Writer:
Audra has a passion for encouraging women in their roles at home in both marriage and motherhood. She enjoys sharing her journey of refinement and learning through these important transitions on her blog called The Homegrown Project.

Put Your Family First . . . Right?

Wife.  Mother.  Daughter.  These titles come with joyful responsibilities (most of the time.)  We work hard to take care of our families.  All other commitments are under the umbrella of our primary task which is to provide for those we love.  They are “our job;” very often, they are our responsibility in addition to the work outside the home, making them our second, third, or even fourth job.  Many times, we sacrifice ourselves to ensure they get what they need.  But in our determination to fulfill these responsibilities are we forgetting the One who gave us this task in the first place?

Abraham is known for being a faithful follower of God.  He was always willing and ready to do whatever the Lord told him to do, even sacrificing his only son.  According to Genesis 22:2-3a

He said, “Take now your son, your only son, whom you love, Isaac, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I will tell you.” So Abraham rose early in the morning and saddled his donkey . . . 

Abraham obeyed. The Bible never mentions him protesting or coming up with an alternative plan.  In fact, in Genesis 22: 12b (NIV) we read, “Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.”  God stopped Abraham from sacrificing his son Isaac and provided a ram in some nearby bushes.

Notice how many times the phrase “your only son” is used.  Throughout this chapter the Lord uses this phrase 3 times. The first time He used the phrase He made a point to say “whom you love,” just to be clear.  The Lord emphasized this phrase because this account was foreshadowing how God was going to save us.  He sacrificed His Son, His only Son, whom He loved as a sacrifice for us so that we might believe and get to spend eternity with Him (John 3:16).

God wants all of our heart.  And he should get all of our heart.  He sacrificed His only Son for us after all.  He demands to be our top priority, even ahead of our family. Nothing can be more important than Him (Exodus 20:3). We have been given stewardship over the blessings God has given us, and that includes our families. Anything that replaces God as a priority in our hearts becomes an idol, even the blessings He gives us to manage.  Abraham realized this and lived it out, despite not having an example (or multiple examples) of faithful men before him as we do.

About the Writer:
Natalie is a stay at home mom to two young boys. Additionally, she occasionally works as an emergency room nurse and is studying to become a Nurse Practitioner. She and her husband have been called into the medical mission field and are excited to see what the Lord has in store for their lives.

Will he know where I am?

I can remember this one Christmas at the age of  six or seven.  We were making the trek to Dallas from Houston, and the only real issue I had with this trip was that this was the year I was supposed to get an American girl doll.  It was a big deal, and I needed to know if Santa would know where I was.  Would he be able to find me and bring me my doll?  Would my doll be all alone in Houston while I was in Dallas?

For my little girl heart, it was a real question.

Later in life I learned the truth of Santa and the realization that my doll was never going to be alone in Houston.

But have you ever asked yourself these questions of God?Will He know where I am? Will I be alone in this new city or new adventure?  Will He be able to find me?

The beauty of Christmas is the reminder that God loves us so much He sent His son for us.  In that truth, there is the hope and peace that He knows where we are always, and loves us so much that He sent His son to this world so that we may be saved through Him.

What a calming peace!

I remember walking down the stairs Christmas morning to see my doll there waiting for me.  The joy that I found at that moment is one I can still remember.

How much more joy is found in knowing that I never have to question if God knows where I am.  I never have to wonder and wait for a sign. I can stand boldly on the truth that he knows everything about me.

Psalm 139 teaches us this:

Lord, you have examined me
    and know all about me.
You know when I sit down and when I get up.
    You know my thoughts before I think them.
You know where I go and where I lie down.
    You know everything I do.

As a child of God, I am sure He knows me, and,  if you are a believer, He knows you, too.  There is no question, no reason to wonder! This Christmas rest on the truth that Christ came because of God’s love for us.  And, in that loves comes the truth that He knows us personally.

About the Writer:
Liz, just a girl who spends her days teaching 6th graders the value of math and science while also displaying the love of Christ, and her evenings with her friends laughing and challenging the definition of community to be something much deeper. If you need her you can probably find her watching Dancing with the Stars while on Pinterest.

Christmas Traditions That Point to Jesus

Many Christian moms strive to make sure the Christmas season doesn’t get swept away in commercialism, but is truly a time of joy. What an opportunity we have to celebrate with our family the greatest miracle the world has even known!  God coming to earth as a baby named Jesus to rescue us from the curse of this world is worthy of jubilant celebration. Christian moms know this and desire this for our families, but cutting through the expectations of the season and getting to the heart of Christmas can be difficult. What’s the solution?

There is no formula. What works best for one family doesn’t create a mandate for others to do the same. Some mothers excel at and relish in Pinterest-worthy advent projects.  Others find doing simple things like reading stories that point to Jesus’ coming in the Old Testament best for their family. I humbly share a few things our family does with our young children to celebrate Christmas. Perhaps one of these strikes a chord with you or gives you an idea all your own.

  1. Our girls love playing the “Star from Afar” game. My husband and I move the star every night, and the girls wake up each morning to search for the star. Upon locating it, they move the wise men under the star as they follow it on their path to meet the new King! When my girls wake up Christmas morning the star is over the manger and they along with the wise men find the Savior!
  2. We host an annual Happy Birthday Jesus party, normally on Christmas Eve. It’s small and simple. We have a cake and sing “Happy Birthday” to Jesus. We sing a few Christmas songs and read the Christmas story from Luke 2. The children put on a play of the Christmas story using things we have around the house like sheets, sticks, and blankets as costumes.
  3. We snuggle on the couch and watch a YouTube video of Joy Williams song “Here with Us” set to scenes from The Nativity Story.

Children thrive on rhythms and routine. Having a few traditions in your family that clearly point to the wonder and awe of Jesus’ birth will seal in the lives of your children the miracle of Christmas. Celebrate and rejoice!

About the Writer:
Caroline is a wife and mom who loves Jesus. She also has a career in commercial real estate investing. God has given her a heart for encouraging other women. She and her husband, Eric, are the directors of the Fellowship Class, a young married Sunday School class, at First Baptist Dallas.

Strong Hand With a Soft Touch

I use to dream of being gentle. Then I was hurt. Again. Again. Again. I wanted to be mean. I wanted to be heard. If not for the grace of God, I would be that person still. Then entered the gentleness of God (1 Kings 19:12) like a soft breeze speaking words of truth and direction.
God, among other things, is gentle. He was described as gentle by the prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 40:11). Jesus even called Himself “gentle” (Matthew 11:29) and said those who are gentle are blessed (Matthew 5:5). He called us to be gentle (Ephesians 4:2). He said gentleness is an expression of the fruit of God’s Spirit in the life of a believer (Galatians 5:23).
What then makes the gentleness of God possible for Him and difficult for us? For me, it is desiring my gentleness to be rewarded—naively holding onto something like a chimera, the idea that, if I am thoughtful and kind enough to someone else, he will be happy and never do me harm—quite different from God’s calling to walk in gentleness.
When Christ showed gentleness, most people were mocking Him, spitting on Him, saying false things about Him, even crucifying Him. Yet, He was gentle. When Apostle Paul said, in Philippians 4:5, “Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near,” he was in prison. In 1 Peter chapter 3, where Peter was urging wives to be gentle in their attitudes and behaviors to their husbands, it was amidst an exhortation to women with unbelieving husbands. None of those situations promise a change of heart or a good response from the ones we are called to show gentleness to. 
Someone once said that “gentleness is a strong hand with a soft touch.” It is the ability to speak the truth in love, guarding overtones and expressions so that the truth might be more easily received. It is a tender, compassionate approach toward others’ weaknesses and limitations. 
So why do it? Why not speak the truth without love? Why not close one’s heart when it hurts so deeply? Why put up with someone else’s weaknesses when you could even more easily abandon ship? Why not write off others’ faults as “their” problem? The answer is clear! Do not think for a moment that you can experience the abundance of the kingdom of God while walking in opposition to Him (Galatians 5). 
The promise in the Beatitudes for the gentle is that they will inherit the earth. And, in Psalm 37, this promise is again repeated: 
Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him;
Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way,
Because of the man who carries out wicked schemes.
Cease from anger and forsake wrath;
Do not fret; it leads only to evildoing.
For evildoers will be cut off,
But those who wait for the Lord, they will inherit the land.
Yet a little while and the wicked man will be no more;
And you will look carefully for his place and he will not be there.
But the humble will inherit the land
And will delight themselves in abundant prosperity…
Wait for the Lord and keep His way,
And He will exalt you to inherit the land;
When the wicked are cut off, you will see it. (Psalm 37:7-11, 34)
If the hope of God’s faithfulness to a courageous woman who trusts in the Lord is not enough, if rising up to the example set by Christ Himself is not enough, if compassion towards the weaknesses of another sinful human being is not enough, ask God to whisper His Word in your heart…”A bruised reed He will not break and a dimly burning wick He will not extinguish; He will faithfully bring forth justice” (Isaiah 42:3).
About the Writer:
Lyndsay has been many things in her past, but no career, experience, or calling define her more than the desire to follow after Christ in response to His gracious work in her life. At present, she teaches movement classes and works as a wellness consultant in addition to loving her amazing husband and raising her daughter to know and love the Lord.

Great is Your Faithfulness

 

It doesn’t take long to realize that nothing we see stays the same.  A trip to the beach illustrates this as the coastline changes yearly.

Also obvious, is change in people.  Don’t babies change seemingly overnight?  Consider a high school reunion’s effect: “Tell me the truth, do I really look that old?”  No one remains physically unchanged. No human always behaves consistently.  Even the most dependable disappoint.

Some people experience change through betrayal or divorce.  The sweetest relationships endure unintentional mistakes, and, inevitably, loss through death.

The Bible described a life-change: “In the land of Uz there lived a man whose name was Job.  This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil.” (Job 1:1 NIV)  Job was enormously wealthy and had ten children.

Unknown to Job, God asked Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job?  There is no one on earth like him.” (Job 1:8 NIV)  Satan stated the only reason Job feared God was that God had blessed him.  If you take away what he has, Satan suggested, he will surely curse you “to your face.” (Job 1:11b NIV)

God allowed Satan to destroy all of Job’s wealth, children, and health.  After devastating loss, Job responded as follows: “Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?’  (Job 2:10 NIV)  In all this, Job did not sin in what he said.”

We wonder at Job’s faithfulness.  Many struggle to cling to faith under far fewer  difficulties.  However, Job’s response to three friends who came to explain why he was suffering revealed his secret. (Job 19:26 NIV) declares, “ . . . after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God.”  Job’s faithfulness was based on his understanding of God’s faithfulness, not on his own performance or ability to explain what was happening.

Job declared finally, “My ears had heard of You but now my eyes have seen You.” (Job 42:5 NIV)  This echoes the words of Jesus in (Matthew 5:8 NIV),  “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.”  When change rips our faith away from things that won’t last anyway, our wandering hearts are purified by recognizing Who remains worthy of our faith.  Our hearts are finally able to find rest in the absolute faithfulness of God.

The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease,
For His compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.  Lamentations 3:22-23

About the Writer:
Nan Haines is so grateful to belong to God’s people. She loves getting to know all kinds of people and enjoys discovering new places, which is a good thing since she’s moved twenty five times. She has been married to Jim, a pastor, for 34 years, and together they have four grown kids, a son in love, and three grand puppies.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m One of the Others

“Some people are naturally good, you know, and others are not. I’m one of the others. Mrs. Lynde says I’m full of original sin. No matter how hard I try to be good I can never make such a success of it as those who are naturally good. It’s a good deal like geometry, I expect.”
~ “Anne of Green Gables” ~ Lucy Maud Montgomery

Like my favorite red-headed literary heroine, “Anne with an ‘e,’” I’m “one of the others.” I struggle with mastering both goodness AND geometry! Anne would be relieved to hear what Jesus said about being “naturally” good. In Luke chapter 18:19, Jesus declared, “No one is good except God alone.” Only God is inherently, completely, and, by His very nature, good.

Jesus very clearly states his oneness with God in John 10:30: “I and my Father are one.” In John 14:9, Jesus says, “…Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.” Anything we know about Jesus is true of God, and anything we know about God is true of Jesus.

The whole of Scripture points to the goodness of God, and of His Son, Jesus Christ. Here are two of many descriptions of God’s goodness:

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing . . . Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life  . . .  Psalm 23:1:6 (NIV)

I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. John 10:11

In contrast, we read of our lack of goodness in Romans 3:12: “…there is no one who does good, not even one.” Thank goodness, (pun intended), we aren’t left to our own resources.

Because Jesus is God and has all the attributes of God, anything God has given to Jesus can be given to me, through the power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus said, in John 16:15, “All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.” (NIV)

“His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.” 2 Peter 1:3 (NIV)

God’s goodness is mine through the gift of His Son, Jesus, the Only One who truly is “naturally” good.

About the Writer:
Nan is so grateful to belong to God’s people. She loves getting to know all kinds of people and enjoys discovering new places, which is a good thing since she’s moved twenty five times. She has been married to Jim, a pastor, for 34 years, and together they have four grown kids, a son in love, and three grand puppies.

 

 

 

 

 

How to Tame a Tiger: Parenting Tips and Tidbits from my Grandmother

She opens her mouth in wisdom, And the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. Proverbs 31:26

Because my family and I lived with my grandparents for the first six years of my life, I have very many precious memories of living in a multigenerational home.  My grandfather owned and milked cows on a dairy.  My grandmother was a homemaker, and lived in a time when there were no dishwashers, no microwave ovens, no fancy kitchen gadgets, and with only a wringer type clothes washing machine.  Most of her wonderful home cooked meals came from the garden she had planted and vegetables that were either fresh or canned.  Out of her home came the best pies, made-from-scratch cakes, homemade candies, fried chicken and steaks, and lots of joy and fun.  During my first few years of school, all of my clothes were made by hand by her and my mom. I can remember being so excited about having five new dresses – one for every day of the week at the beginning of each school year.

Grandmother demonstrated to us all the lovingkindness which God shows to us. There were no extracurricular activities, except an occasional baseball game in a nearby field with my cousins. Some of my best memories are just being with my grandmother learning to sew, crochet, and cook; working by her side, or just spending quality time with her fishing off a dock. She led by example and worked tirelessly to see that all our needs were met.  All of us grandkids knew where she stood when it came to doing what we were supposed to do and respected her high behavioral expectations. I never remember her even having to raise her voice with any of us.  Even though she died when I was only eighteen, I am so thankful to have had her example of how to parent and lead a family with respect, love, and kindness. She was truly the Proverbs 31 woman.

As a grandmother now, I hope to pass along some of those parenting tips and tidbits I learned from her, as well as a few of my own.  Here are some of the things those include.

  • Read scripture daily – schedule a quiet time for yourself to reap the benefits of God’s wisdom. (Colossians 3:16) And pray, pray, pray. (I Thessalonians 5:17)
  • Read scripture aloud daily with your children, talking about it in daily activities, and memorizing with them. (Deuteronomy 6:5-9)
  • Keep high expectations for behavior, teaching (Proverbs 31:26) and explaining to them your expectations, and train them as you go. (Proverbs 22:6)
  • Don’t be afraid to discipline (train) age- appropriately with consequences related to the action. (Proverbs 13:24)
  • Set clear rules and boundaries always with their own safety in mind.
  • Be clear to the children when disciplining that you love them, but are not happy with their choice of wrong behavior, or actions. (Proverbs 3:12) And never let your own emotions get out of control.
  • Spend quality time with your children, stay connected, and know what is going on in their lives, always!
  • Finally, do all things with love and kindness, demonstrating the love of Christ, as He has done for us. (Ephesians 2:7) Don’t give up! It takes time to tame a tiger!

Do not let kindness and truth leave you; Bind them around your neck, Write them on the tablet of your heart. Proverbs 3:3

 

About the Writer:
Beverly has been a long time teacher and administrator who alongside with her husband have taught numerous Sunday school classes. As a grandparent today, she loves to share with others God’s Word and make it applicable to daily living.

 

Beyond Being Nice

As my son approached his second birthday, I held my breath and waited for the rebellion to begin. I gathered several books about discipline theories and how a toddler’s brain works and stacked them on my bedside table.

I felt so ill-equipped, as each day brought new challenges, but the more closely I looked into my son’s eyes the more I saw a child who wanted desperately to be taught. I saw a child who learned by watching and needed an example, a child who craved personal connection and needed to see, hear and feel how loved he was. This child was learning his place in the world and had a heart that was ready to be molded.

Our children are growing up in a world that is new and exciting to them, but it’s growing more perilous every single day (2 Timothy 3:1-3). We sing the song ‘This Little Light’ and tell them to go out and shine in our dark world.

My husband and I continually pray for a long list of traits that we want our children to develop. But at the top of that list is kindness because of the powerful effect it can have in winning hearts for Christ. Romans 2:4 says ‘Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?’ It sounds simple but here’s the catch . . . kindness requires us to be vulnerable.

Kindness requires an inner security that runs so deep that we are not shaken when the other person rejects or mistreats us in return. We must put aside our pride and show a gentle and genuine compassion. Our opportunity to respond is not based on the other person’s deserving of our forgiveness, but on mercy alone.

But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men. Luke 6:35

By teaching our children the principles of kindness, we are teaching them a multitude of other qualities like compassion, empathy, patience, and forgiveness. But all of these qualities are hollow without understanding the lovingkindess of God. This understanding can only be gained by experiencing it first hand in our lives, by having a personal relationship with Christ.

So, as parents teaching our kids about the meaning of kindness, let’s not confuse its definition with that of “niceness”. Let’s instead impress on them the grace and mercy that is at the core of kind actions. Let us point them to Christ.

About the Writer:
Audra has a passion for encouraging women in their roles at home in both marriage and motherhood. She enjoys sharing her journey of refinement and learning through these important transitions on her blog called The Homegrown Project.