Redirection

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One of the greatest and most effective discipline methods for children is “redirection,” meaning, the parent or teacher directs the child AWAY from the action that is hurting themselves or others and focuses them on something more positive.  This is what I sense this morning as I spend time with Jesus.  He wants to “redirect” me.

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In Psalm 71, verses 7 & 8, the “anonymous” author declares, “My life is an example to many, because you have been my strength and protection.  That is why I can never stop praising You; I declare Your glory all day long.”

Well, because I do have people (especially the little people in my home) watching me, I believe my words, actions, and tone are incredibly important.  Unfortunately, though, at times (too often), I behave as if those things really don’t matter, and well, “I’m me, so just get over it.”  Whoa, really?!?  Very wrong attitude, indeed.

So, when this attitude seeps in and my heart and behavior don’t line up with His Word or the calling He has placed on my life…  Well, I need a Holy Spirit redirection.  Maybe it’s just me, but I definitely need it today.

May I live out Paul’s words today…  And yes, just today.  I’m taking it one day at a time.

Acts 20:24 (NIV), “However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.”

Does God Lie?

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Mic drop. WHOA… What did she just ask? Poignant question, if you ask me. But WHY would a Bible-believing, Jesus-loving woman even pose such a question? Trust me, I know that the Bible is full of His promises, but many times, I allow my emotions, questions, and doubts cloud my heart and keep me from a vibrant faith-filled life.

Does God Lie?

 

Faith. It’s one of the greatest gifts that God gives, but it’s also one with a great number of demands. Trust, obey, believe… Believe in something. Trust Someone our naked eye cannot see, touch, smell, feel, or taste. Faith goes beyond our human senses.

 

I often see faith as a wrestling match. If you’ve never grown up watching one or have a child who participates, let me explain because I’ve certainly watched plenty with my two younger brothers participating in the sport. Two young men (young women can join in the fun now too), walk on to a very large, square foam mat, meet in the center circle, hunch into a fighting pose, shake hands, and essentially dance around the mat trying to out maneuver each other to score the pin (both shoulders of the opponent touches the mat for 3 seconds). They often perform crazy, mind and body bending moves, and if done correctly, these matches are quite exciting to watch. However, every once in a while, you come across two fellas who pretty much just touch hands, stall, or scuttle around the mat for three periods. Disappointing, for sure!

 

Well, back to faith. I love how Hebrews 11:1 defines faith, “Faith is the confidence that we hope for will actually happen; it give us assurance about things we cannot see.” (NLT) The Message paraphrase of the Bible puts it this way, “The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It’s our handle on what we can’t see.”

 

Ok, confession time: sometimes when I read something like this, I think, “Now, that’s for someone else WAY more talented, anointed, or blessed than me. They CAN have confidence because they have a special ability in which to place that confidence.”

 

But then, the sweet Holy Spirit chimes in and reminds me from Jeremiah 17:7, “But, blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence,” (NLT). Notice here that those who are blessed trust only in the Lord and make Him ALONE – not talents, abilities, or earthly resources- their hope and confidence.

 

Confidence, assurance, trust, firm foundation, a life worth living… I don’t know about you, but those words pulled from this scripture describe the kind of life I so desire to have.

 

However, it’s not an easy life, but it’s an exciting life! Faith is lively, active, and pretty much like… a wrestling match. We may not see the spiritual realities in the here and now, but when we grapple with our faith, get deeper in the word, take time to worship, serve those who may not serve you back, maintain a confident hope in Him, take risks and make moves to get that “pin…” oh, how sweet that victory will be one day be! “So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord. Remember the great reward it brings you!” Hebrews 10:35

Alignment Issues

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alignment-issuesHave you ever driven a vehicle that is out of alignment? I used to drive an old 1987 Buick Century, and due to a car accident, it was FOREVER out of alignment.  I’m pretty sure that most of the time, the steering wheel was turned to the right when driving straight!  It was so difficult to drive this car effectively, and I was oh-so-glad when I got my 1998 Saturn, and that car was in good alignment.  It seemed like such a small thing, to drive seemingly crooked, but it took quite a bit of energy to keep that silver beast on the road!

Lately, I’ve been out of alignment. I’ve focused too much of my time and energy on things, events, and quite honestly, people who either suck the life right out of me or should not be at the top of my priority list.  It’s something I’ve known for quite a while but chose to either ignore, or I kept myself so busy I simply didn’t have the time to examine my heart and life closely.

I’m done with that way of living… For now, at least.  I’m sure I’ll have to “realign” again soon, but I’m drawing a line in the sand.  It stops here.

I love how Shauna Niequist put it in her book, Present Over Perfect, “Picture your relationships like concentric circles: the inner circle is your spouse, your children, your very best friends…Aim to disappoint the people at the center as rarely as possible…We disappoint people because we’re limited.  We have to accept the idea of our limitations in order to accept the idea that we’ll disappoint people.”  What a gut-wrenching reality for me to face.

I took her suggestion of making a concentric circle diagram to realign my priorities. It seemed that those things or people I talked about the most or worried about often were on the outside circle.  COME. ON. YOU. CRAZY. PERSON!  It’s true.  I could hardly believe it!  To make matters even worse, those people I put in the core circle, the circle that holds that which is most important, I often put on the backburner.  Too often, they got my leftovers.  My leftover energy and leftover time was what I offered them, and it was terrible.

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A few days ago, I took my three kids to the playground and was amazed at how I felt like a mom again.  Watching them play and playing along with them, I realized I wasn’t just a friend, counselor, volunteer, the “do-everything with everyone” girl.  I was a mom enjoying the company of her amazing kids, and I was left wanting more.  More time to spend and invest in them.  More tickles, more “Mommy, watch this,” more crumbly snacks and sugary treats are exactly what needs to be at the top of my priority list.

I certainly don’t plan to swing to the the extreme side of pendulum, forgoing normal service and activities, but I am choosing to wisely live according to the priorities God has given me.  May I be faithful to all He has called me to.

I Don’t Have It All Together…

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Dear Anna, Emily, and Caleb,

It’s been a while since I’ve last wrote you a personal letter on the blog, but I do hope everything I’ve written over the last few years has given you perspective into my life as your mom, a wife to daddy, and everything else I’ve gotten myself into!

Last week, a very well-meaning (and delusional) person said to me, “Christa, you always seem to have it all together.” I almost choked on the gum I was chewing, but somehow was able to respond with, “Oh, no. I really don’t,” while laughing it off nervously.

Seriously, stop laughing!  I know you find this absolutely hysterical.  (Stop snickering RIGHT NOW!) This person thinks YOUR MOM has it all together. However, she doesn’t see me running frantically around the house looking for my coffee EVERY. SINGLE. MORNING. (My mugs need their own “find my iMug” app… You know like, “find my iPhone.”)

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This person doesn’t see me forgetting to send in your field trip permission slip on time or get in trouble for going around the “car rider” line right around a police officer who was so kind to offer some correction to me. (Thanks for not servicing a ticket, officer.) Yep, for those of you there that fateful morning… That was ME!

I’m sure she doesn’t think I get snippy when you don’t pick up those socks laying in the middle of your bedroom floor or when you allow Rosie in the house with muddy paws.

Nope. Quite honestly, I don’t have “it all” together. Just like everyone else in the world, I’m human, flawed, and desperate to NOT misplace my coffee every morning!

I’m not the only one, though. No one has it all together. Sure, we all like to give the notion that our life is hunky-dory and problem-free. However, it’s never completely true.

There’s an old saying, “The grass isn’t greener on the other side.” Often, we hear stories from our friends, watch TV shows or movies, or read books that give us the impression that they “have it all together.” We covet their beautifully decorated bedroom, or want their house or car. Sometimes, we wish our parents were cooler (oh wait, your parents are SUPER cool), or that we could have all the greatest toys and clothes we could ever want. Stuff is good, for sure. But, even better? You have parents who love you unconditionally, pray for you regularly, and want God’s best for you.

Do I have it all together? Absolutely not. But no one else does either.

 

Love you forever,

Mom 🙂

What I like about you…

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In honor of Valentine’s Day and our 1st date 18 years ago, here’s a list of “what I like about you…”

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  1. The way you never say I look “fat” even when I’m 9 months pregnant. You say things like, “Wow, that’s different” or “I think I like the other shirt you had on.”
  2. You fold the dreaded laundry, especially since you know I REALLY don’t like that chore.
  3. You’re protective of our girls and their wardrobe. Leggings are NOT pants!
  4. How you believe in me and my dreams. Your encouragement means the world to me!
  5. You allow me to buy you flashy shirts… Oh, how I wish you’d wear those from time to time!
  6. How you serve people who can’t (or won’t) serve you back. You love as Jesus does.  Well, at least most of the time. 🙂
  7. You play Super Mario World with Caleb even though you’ve beaten the game at least 5 times… Just because he wants to play with you.
  8. You show deep love and respect toward your parents… You are a treasure.
  9. The way you play and wrestle with our puppy… You love her WAY too much!
  10. You remind me where my priorities lie. My relationship with the Lord, you, and the kids are first.  All others come after.  You keep me accountable with my time… Thank you!

Happy Valentine’s Day, Josh.  Who would have thought we’d be still celebrating 18 years later?

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By Faith: Pleasing God

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checklistOk, let’s start by a show of hands today… How many of you want to please God?  Me, me, me, me!!!!

How many of you believe God is pleased by you? (Crickets, ahem.)

For me, I believe God loves me and forgives me, but I’m often unsure (until I look at His Word to remind myself) that He is pleased with me.  As humans and even as parents, we love others. We love our children. However, whether or not we are pleased with others (our co-workers, spouse, children, President, etc.) is mainly based on their performance, right? When their performance is adequate, then we are pleased.  The good news? This is SO NOT the case with God!

If pleasing the Lord is our goal (and it should be, by the way), here’s what God says in His Word in Hebrews 11:6, “And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.”

Did you notice that PLEASING God isn’t only about the checklist we often apply to our lives:

  • Church (check),
  • Nice to spouse (check),
  • Give in the offering (check),
  • Honest on my tax return (check)…

We often believe that if we just DO those things, even with a crummy attitude, then we’re pleasing God. Again,  pleasing God isn’t only about the checklist we apply to our lives.

However, when you do these things on the checklist (which are often good, godly, and God-pleasing things), when you pray, read your Bible, help those in need, serve in the church, give of your time, resources, and energy, and so on ALL while trusting the Lord and knowing that your faith is in Him alone…. Whew. That is what TRULY pleases the Lord.

Remember this too, “Faith without works is dead.” James 2:26 says, “Just as the body is dead without breath, so also FAITH is dead without works.” So, without FAITH, it’s IMPOSSIBLE to please God, but that doesn’t negate the WORKS part of FAITH.  It’s still a worthy cause to do good for and to all you can.

What is faith?

Faith is a confident CONVICTION that God is who He said He is and that He will do what He said He will do.

Faith is a necessary FOUNDATION and FUEL for every Christian.

  • Faith is a foundation because it supports us.
  • Faith is a fuel because it sustains us.
  • Our Christian walk cannot survive without faith.

Faith is BASED on God and on His Word.

  • Faith is not based on what we see or what we feel.
  • Faith is not based on a person, a system, or on our own ability.
  • Faith is based on God and on His Word.

“To trust God in the light is nothing, but to trust him in the dark – that is faith.” – Charles Spurgeon

“And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.” Hebrews 11:6

When one analyzes the original language of Hebrews, which was Ancient Greek, the word “please” as in “to please God” translates into euaresteo which also means “to walk with God.” So, in other words, it’ is impossible to “walk with God” without faith.

Let this be our goal: to have faith so that our lives are pleasing to God, so that we walk with God. Remember, pleasing God and walking with God are the same in this context.

Here are 2 determinations we can use to gauge our FAITH:

When we have faith, when we walk with the Lord, when we please Him we know that…

  1. By faith, we trust that God is REAL: “Anyone who wants to come to Him must believe that God exists.”
    • Have you ever thought about your brain?  You know that mass inside your skull that controls ALL parts of your body?  Your brain processes everything your eyes see, ears hear, tongue tastes.  It knows the keyboard on the computer, how to boil an egg, and remembers your grandparents phone number!  Not only does it know and recall all of those things, but all the things you see, hear, taste, touch, read every second of every day…  It filters out all of the UNNEEDED information!  WOW!  And, that is only ONE part of the body that God created!  God EXISTS!
  2. By faith, we also trust that God is a REWARDER: “He rewards those who sincerely seek Him.”
    • Do you believe God rewards? Sometimes, we allow our personal feelings of inadequacy block our God-given rewards because of
      • our past,
      • what others have said to and about us
      • our own personal battles with addictionsYou are MORE than your feelings.
  • What kind of rewards can we expect from God when it comes to faith?
    • You will be surrounded by mercy: Many sorrows shall be to the wicked; But he who trusts in the LORD, mercy shall surround him. Psalm 32:10
    • You will be kept in perfect peace: You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You. Isaiah 26:3
    • You will not be moved: Those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion, which cannot be moved,but abides forever. Psalm 125:1
    • You will be happy: He who heeds the word wisely will find good, and whoever trusts in the LORD, happy is he. Proverbs 16:20

Too often, our expectations of God’s rewards are of the temporary nature: new car, large house, a raise at work, and so on. However, the rewards He offers (and I only named a few) are often more INTERNAL & ETERNAL!!

I love how John Piper sums up pleasing God with our faith: “What pleases God is that our hearts and minds display God’s being and God’s beauty. That we display God’s existence and His excellence. That we display how real he is and how rewarding he is. This is what pleases God, and this is faith.”

By faith, may we walk with Him.  May we please our Heavenly Father. Amen.

 

Looking Ahead

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calendarAs a new year looms, I often think of things that I’d like to change about myself and thus start the list: lose weight, grow out my hair, start a new savings account, more efficient meal planning and cleaning schedules, etc., etc., etc.  However, this year, I’m vowing not to make that list, even though there areas of my life in which I’d like to see some change.

 

Instead of all these outward changes, I’m asking the Lord to change me from the inside out. With the Lord’s leading, Romans 12:9, 10 will be my focus for 2017.  Here’s what it says:

Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good.  Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically.

From this passage, I have found a few key areas on the INSIDE in which I would like to grow…

  1.  REALLY love others.  In word, deed, and heart, LOVE people.
  2. Acknowledge wrong and despise sin, but CLING to and FOCUS on the good.  Assume the best about people and pray for a new perspective when they disappoint.
  3. Honor others.  Don’t interrupt, look to serve rather than be served, consider others thoughts and feelings first before interjecting an opinion.
  4. Always work hard.  Laziness in Kingdom work is not acceptable.  Always give 100% to Him.
  5. Do everything with ENTHUSIASM.  Yes, even when my feelings don’t line.up.

 

It would be easy to make this list and just chalk it up to good intentions.  But, I’m choosing to place this passage of scripture AND “the list” in the most accessible places.  Fridge, computer monitor (at home and at work), mirror, cupboards in the kitchen…

 

I’m believing God for some incredible breakthroughs as I look to grow to be the best wife, mom, and friend, as well as increase in my leadership skills and anointing.  However, I’ve come to the realization that leaders lead best when they are humble.  So, I’m laying it all out.  Lord, I need You.

On the horizon

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Sometimes, it’s hard to see what lies ahead.  I get caught up in the here and now that I don’t take a look at the BIG PICTURE!  In a season of changing diapers day in and out, I wasn’t sure there was a time in which tushie wiping would cease.  I don’t know about you, but I get stuck, often forgetting the great promises that are on the horizon.

 

One of my favorite stories in ALL of the Bible has to be that of Moses leading the people of Israel through the wilderness and then passing the baton of leadership to Joshua, who led them into the Promised Land.  There are just SO many great life lessons to be learned here!

 

Many Bible teachers have used this story as a parallel to the Christian life, especially those who seem to be walking in the theoretical “wilderness,” meaning pretty much a difficult season.  I have several friends who are walking in a “wilderness” season of life, and quite frankly, I get frustrated for them (not with them) because I don’t understand why.

 

However, in that frustration, I also KNOW beyond a shadow of a doubt that their PROMISED LAND is just on the horizon.  The Israelites journey began with an incredible miracle of God’s hand.  He parted the waters of the Red Sea, so that the His chosen people could escape the Egyptians, walk on dry seabed, and arrive safely on the other side, looking on as the waters crashed onto their pursuing enemies.

 

After that incredible miracle, the people of Israel were doomed by their complaining to wander the desert for 40 years, and in that time, the mantle of leadership shifted to a new leader, Joshua.  Joshua, although not a perfect leader, learned key leadership lessons and was now directing the people of Israel into their Promised Land.  However, before rushing in and taking over the land, Joshua stopped and asked the people to, “Come and listen to what the Lord your God says.” (Joshua 3:9)

 

Instead of hurrying their way across the Jordan River in their own strength and method, the Israelites wilderness experience ended with another parting of waters.  They crossed the river on dry ground following the priests who carried the Ark of the Covenant.  What incredible bookends to the desert wandering!  An impossible parting of two bodies of water at two separate times.

 

Maybe you’ve seen miracles.  Maybe you’re in a “wilderness” adventure right now.  Maybe you’ve come out on the other side. You don’t have to “do” everything right.  You’ll make mistakes.  Just keep trusting Him.  Continue trying to live as His Word encourages.  Wherever you are, believe that your Promised Land is on the horizon. I’m believing it for you, too.

Talking fast

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Yes, I do talk fast, especially when called upon to rehearse announcements at church.  For some reason, I find it my personal mission to make “announcements” the most exciting part of the morning.  *Sigh*

As I was reading Proverbs 31 (in the Amplified Bible) this morning, I came across verses 26 & 27 and almost became weary…  **In reality, it was the Holy Spirit giving correction to this area of my life.**

“She opens her mouth in skillful and godly Wisdom, and on her tongue is the law of kindness [giving counsel & instruction].”  (Verse 26)

Initially, I thought, “Yep, that’s me.  I often give counsel and instruction.”  Kids, church members, extended family, and my husband often receive some sort of counsel and instruction from me.  In fact, I’m asked quite often for my opinion on things.  But, then, I read on…

“She looks well to how things go in her household, and the bread of idleness (gossip, discontent, and self-pity) she will not eat.” (Verse 27)

Excuse me while I go and wipe the bread of idleness off my mouth.  I have a few crumbs left over…

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So, as I was confessing my shortcomings to the Lord in this area of my life, I wrote in my journal…”Maybe I should go on a “talking only when necessary” fast.  You know, like a “fast from food,” but instead of food, WORDS!  As I prayed through this, I realized (OBVIOUSLY) that I can’t walk through my day without talking at all.  Everyone will think I’ve lost my mind or am seriously upset.  However, I am going to do a few things before I speak:

  1. Think first (duh, right?)
  2. Consider the best way to communicate my point of view
  3. Those bread of idleness words will not be given a chance to rise… gossip, discontent, and self-pity, will not even exit my mouth: With God’s help, of course.
  4. Put on a smile

This is a difficult task, for sure, but I’m believing what Jesus said in Matthew 19:26, “With man this is impossible, but with God, ALL things are possible.”

I’ll let you know how it goes… 🙂

But God

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Mortality is not something I ponder on a regular basis.  In fact, it’s something I don’t often think about except when another young mom passes away and leaves a husband and kids behind.  Then, I worry about all the details after my inevitable death, not so much in the way I will die.  To say I was close to death last Friday night (November 13, 2015) is not an understatement in any way.

Women of Purpose…  Whew.  What a start to a conference all day on Friday.  My lovely friends and I had a blast learning, worshipping, and growing closer to the Lord, and I just dropped them off at our church (thankfully) and was on my way back home for the evening.  As I was approaching a traffic light, another woman turned left to get on another highway right in front of me, and there was no time to stop.  I slammed on my brakes, screamed, and braced myself for the worst.  CRASH!  I hit her passenger side and completely crushed the front of my van.  When I came to, I rushed out of my van, ran to her vehicle, which was pinned to the guide rail overlooking the highway below, and tried to open her doors to no avail.  A nice man came, calmed me down, and we called 911.  In MOMENTS (whew, very fast response), police, fire rescue, and ambulances came to our aid.

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My husband, Josh, came to get me after our gracious neighbors came to stay with our kids as they peacefully slept.  As we sat on the couch and I relived the experience with Josh, we just took some time to recount God’s faithfulness in this situation.  SO MANY variables could have made this accident so much worse, BUT GOD.  There’s no other way to dress it up pretty…  BUT GOD.

~ I had no other passengers… BUT GOD

~ I wasn’t distracted (my phone was in my purse behind my seat) or going too fast (if you know me, this is a MIRACLE!)…BUT GOD

~ The other vehicle had no other passengers… BUT GOD

~ I don’t have to buy new car seats because I took them out to fit everyone riding with me to the conference… BUT GOD

I woke up Saturday morning with a little boy snuggling in my arms and a song on my heart… “He’s ALWAYS Been Faithful.”  While it could have been “my time,” He’s not finished with me.  I still have a mandate, a job to do for His honor and glory.  I still get to cuddle and love my kids.  I still get to rest in the strong arms of my husband.  I still get to be blessing.  I still get to teach.  I still get to write and learn.  I still get drive.  I still get to sing.  He’s ALWAYS Been Faithful…

While there are still some unanswered questions as to insurance and adjusters and appraisers and other things I don’t know much about because I’m new at this whole “accident” thing, we’re believing God for continued faithfulness.  We need a new van (because we see that even a full-size car doesn’t fit our three car seats) at the RIGHT price.  We’re praying for favor in the eyes of the insurance adjusters.  Would you pray with us?  While we don’t worry because we know our lives are not our own and in the hands of our able Father, we still do have concerns.

 

***UPDATE 2-26-16…  I have recovered FULLY and can even drive without too much anxiety when coming to the intersection!  We LOVE our “new to us” Buick Terazza mini-van and are still awaiting some settlements with cleanup of the accident.  Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your continued prayers, love, and support.