Sunday, February 23, 2020

God Saw That

God saw everything.

You can be sure of that absolutely undeniable fact. If you've ever been the recipient of cruel behavior in any form, cling to that truth. God saw what you saw. And God also saw what you didn't see, which is sometimes far worse. He listened in at every table where you were the topic of hateful conversation; every phone call where your name was unfairly smeared. He saw and heard it all.

The eyes of the Lord are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good. • Proverbs 15:3

It's so hard to let things like that go and move on from a painful hurt. No one likes being misunderstood and mistreated. It can be so hard to forgive; to drop the bitterness and anger. But you cannot change other people. Only God can do that. The only thing you can control is your response to their behavior. Pray for them and let it go. Be at peace knowing that God is watching and taking note.

“I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind, to reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve.” • Jeremiah 17:10

Most importantly, if He's concerned with their heart, He's also concerned with mine and yours. Man, imagine if God took screenshots and tucked all of our behaviors into special folders with our names on them. 😳😢 Let's keep that in mind when we are the ones in the wrong. We cannot hide anything from our Creator. We need to pray for wisdom and discernment; we need to ask God to cleanse our hearts. ❤

Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. • Psalms 139:23‭-‬24

Who can hide in secret places so that I cannot see them?” declares the Lord . “Do not I fill heaven and earth?” declares the Lord . • Jeremiah 23:24

God is everywhere.
Check yourself and pray.
Pray for everyone else, too.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Nature's Splendor

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Psalms 19:1

Sipping on a Coke Zero and dreaming about the garden. 🌱 We've definitely hit that part of winter where everything is a bit less magical and a lot more muddy.
I'm anxiously waiting for everything to turn green again and I'm hopeful that spring is coming soon because the backyard is changing and the birds are busy. 
Since my connection to nature has always brought me closer to God, I found myself in the book of Psalms for a little mid-week encouragement.
I wanted to share a quick message on my heart about showing up for God:

Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let the sea resound, and all that is in it.  Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them; let all the trees of the forest sing for joy. • Psalms 96:11‭-‬12

Read those beautiful words! This is just one of many beautiful scriptures that illustrate for us how the sky and seas, land and trees, flowers, plants, and animals proclaim the Lord's handiwork.
No doubt about it, nature SHOWS UP for our Creator. To rejoice like this is goals. To say so much about God without ever speaking a word is beauty to behold. The splendor of nature is such a true testament of God's glory. But what's more awesome is this -- we are His creation, too, friends. Don't forget that.
To know God is an unfathomable blessing. To love Him, serve Him, and make Him known is our greatest purpose. It can be so easy to get sucked into earthly comings and goings, become lazy, and forget the magnitude of our existence. But we are created in God's own image, for His glory. Fearfully and wonderfully made. Let's be like nature and exalt our Creator the way the sea and the fields and the trees do. Let's be glad and jubilant, make waves, and sing for joy. Let's make some noise. 🌊

Let's show up for God.

Messes Don't Last

My house was trashed this past weekend.

I couldn't even take a picture of what it looked like because I was so overwhelmed before we got started on it. Besides, I'm not going to normalize the mess by showing everyone my filthy kitchen and telling you that messy houses = happy kids. Because that's not true for me. And that's mostly because I don't do well when my house is super messy. I can handle it here and there. But I don't usually allow things to get too out of hand because it gives me anxiety and makes me a grumpy wife/mom. Leaving the dirty dishes doesn't always mean you win at happiness. Sometimes it makes you snappy and unkind. And that makes no one happy. But I've been training myself to let things go a little and be present in the moment. I'm trying not to obsess over the messes.

And that's how the house got trashed this weekend.

It all started with a snow day. We've had such a strange winter; full of ups and downs in weather patterns and no snow, apart from some windy flurries. So, waking up to a thick blanket of snow was glorious. The school issued a two-hour delay, which quickly turned into a snow day. We had a nice, slow morning and then happily suited up, anxious to make the most of the snow before the weather changed again.
We played outside all day, coming in only to warm up and throw all the icy mittens and hats into the dryer. We had a quick lunch and went back out again. We ordered pizza for dinner, watched a movie, and the kids played until bedtime. We didn't really clean. There were coats, boots, and snow soaked towels all over the floor when we went to bed. I took a deep breath and ignored it.
The next two days were as gloriously spent as the first. And again, without much tidying up,  but just doing the bare minimum to keep mommy sane. I did wash all the bedding in the house, which is a serious task when you have a bunch of kids.
We visited my sweet sister and my brother in law, snuggled our brand new niece/baby cousin, then slept in again and played all day Sunday before going to youth group.
The perfect weekend. And a perfectly messy house to freak out over while the kids were at church. But it got cleaned up. It wasn't the end of the world.
I didn't take a picture of the mess. But I took lots of pictures of the fun. And of the super cute baby, the cousin love, and the sibling snuggles.

I took this picture of my clean kitchen to remind myself that messes don't last.
But memories do.

Mustard Seed Faith

How big is your faith? How big is your mountain?

Jesus says your faith can be as small as a mustard seed and you can move mountains.
He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you." • Matthew 17:20

That’s tiny, you guys. A mustard seed is tiny. That means that even if your faith feels small and you struggle with doubts and fears — nothing is impossible for you, according to God’s plan. We are not promised a perfect life free of trials and hardships. Open up your Bible and you’ll find a TON of evidence that knowing God, and even being close to Him, doesn’t keep you from bad times, sickness, hardship, and difficult people. But we ALWAYS have a mighty God by our side to help us through everything we are going through. And with just a little bit of faith, He can and will do amazing things through us.

The size of our faith doesn’t have to be great because we serve a God that is GREAT.  But the more we grow in faith, the better equipped we are to fight the works of the flesh and allow the fruits of the spirit to flourish in our lives.

Here are a few ways to get started:

• Love God and love your neighbor.
• Do all things for God’s glory.
• Be an imitator of Christ.
• Devote yourself to others in love and honor.
• Show kindness wherever you go, through actions and words.
• Tell people about Jesus.
• Read your Bible!
• Take care of your body.

God Equips the Called

God doesn't just call the equipped. He equips whoever He calls.

Putting a leadership spotlight on Moses today. The development of his character is really an inspiration. 1 Samuel 16:7 tells us that God isn't concerned with our outward appearance. He looks at the heart. That's evident as we see many instances in the Bible of God using unexpected people to carry out His will. Moses is one of those people. The Exodus journey is one of those times.

The book of Deuteronomy completes a long, important section of the Bible where, to summarize, God uses Moses to deliver His people from slavery and then lays down the law for them. Throughout this important story, we watch Moses rise into the position of a mighty leader. It's such a gradual transition, as we read the trials of the journey and see the Israelites test Moses' patience and challenge his authority so many times. Before his death, Moses addresses all of them with these powerful words and then blesses the tribes before he departs up the mountain to die, knowing he won't get to join them in the land being promised to them by God. The prophetic words are long and inspired, an appropriate closure to Moses' years spent with the Israelites -- time after time convincing them of God's faithfulness. When we arrive at the end of Moses' life, you almost can't imagine him being anything other than a strong, persistent, humble, and encouraged leader.
But remember in Exodus 4, when God first called him to confront Pharaoh and lead the children of Israel out of Egypt? Let's visit that passage [Exodus 4:10-13] real quick:
Moses said to the Lord , “Pardon your servant, Lord. I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.” The Lord said to him, “Who gave human beings their mouths? Who makes them deaf or mute? Who gives them sight or makes them blind? Is it not I, the Lord ? Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.” But Moses said, “Pardon your servant, Lord. Please send someone else.
That was Moses, the same man who would later deliver that long speech to the entirety of Israel, straight up telling God at the beginning to send someone else because he wasn't good at speaking and didn't think anyone would ever listen to him. Yet we see all that was done through him!Was it easy? No. And Moses learned hard lessons along the way. But God was with him and provided for Moses everything he would need, including exactly what to say and even someone to say it for him at the beginning.

Be encouraged. God equips the ones He calls. And where He guides, He provides.

Little Things Matter

We don't have to do big things all the time.

I know there are seasons for big things and times for being busy, I get that. But I've been thinking lately about the pressure we have in this world to do more, be more, and accomplish all the things. All the time. It's exhausting.
I'm only recently making peace with the realization that I do not have to do all kinds of other things to be significant and worthy. I am enough, just as I am, in my current season. I am right where God wants me.

"I have found it is the small things. Everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keeps the darkness at bay. Simple acts of kindness and love." – Gandalf, The Lord of the Rings Trilogy

This quote from Tolkien is such a comforting reminder in this busy world that the little things matter. The little, everyday things combat the darkness, too. We don't have to do big things to make a difference. We don't need full calendars, newsworthy activities, and heavily advertised events to fulfill our purpose.
Sometimes, just being present and loving our family is the most important thing. Tending to sick kiddos and washing laundry so that everyone has clean clothes means something. I love what Mother Teresa said about washing the plate because you love the one who will use it next. That stuff matters.
Putting in a productive work day matters.
Smiling at strangers and showing kindness to others. That matters, too.
Finding joy in the mundane things like grocery shopping, pulling weeds, taking out the trash, and changing diapers. Those things matter.
Opening your door to a friend in need for a cup of coffee, a simple prayer, or even just sitting with them in silence.
Being present and enjoying special moments with our kids. It all matters.
The little things add value to the ones we love and the people around us we don't even know. Sometimes, we make the biggest impact quietly doing the things we think are insignificant; the small stuff we don't share with the world. It's in the little acts of love and kindness that people see Jesus through us.