Category Archives: December 2016

father knows best

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father knows best

While traveling to see family over the holiday, my husband reserved a rental vehicle as is our norm for driving such a long trip. We enjoy traveling in something much newer offering less mileage than either of our ’99 and ’05 models have to offer, as well as more space for a comfortable road trip.

We thoroughly enjoyed the minivan we had at our disposal for nearly 2 weeks. It took us 15 hours west of where we reside. It felt so luxurious as we took turns driving throughout our journey. The van boasted heated seats & steering wheel, contoured seats, automatic sliding doors, back-up camera and all the other bells and whistles a new vehicle offers. You can imagine how sad we were to say goodbye to our rental this evening. It had such a smooth ride with plenty of room for all our loot. Heck, it still had that new car smell that reminds you that you are, in fact, driving a new vehicle. To us, this ride was luxury. As we hopped back into our ’99 tired, smaller SUV, we tried not to feel jealous of whoever would be driving the van next. In our minds, we longed for the much newer vehicle over our ride.

It was about that time that God reminded me that He is our Provider and that His timing is perfect. Sure, we’d love to have a newer, bigger family vehicle BUT, we enjoy not having another monthly bill to pay since both our vehicles are paid for. Yes, our family vehicle is wracking up the miles but it serves us well. We rarely have to have it serviced. God knows what we need…and when we need it. We know what we think we need, or just want. Can I get an amen?!

We can easily be deceived to believe ‘if I just had that car, or that house, or that piece of furniture, or (fill in the blank), I’d be happy’. That, my friend, is a lie from the pit of hell. Admittedly, as a SAHM, sometimes it’s easier than not for me to fall into such a trap set by our enemy. I’ll hear that voice: “you deserve it” or “you’ve had a tough day” or “it’s just money” and if I’m not on my game by being in tune with the Lord, I buy into the lie, quite literally. The problem is, whenever I do indulge, it hasn’t brought me the happiness I’d hoped for. More often than not it has caused great guilt for spending money that I shouldn’t be spending. The truth is the grass isn’t greener on the other side. It just isn’t. We want so desperately to believe that it is but time after time, you and I both have witnessed situations where someone stepped out and found out the hard way.

Through it all, all the wrestling taking place in our minds, God knows best. You remember the popular TV show from way back when, “Father Knows Best“? Our heavenly Father really does know best and He wants to lavish good gifts upon His children just as a parent wants to lavish upon his child(ren). As a parent, I know that if I lavish too much upon my son, I will spoil him. To me, there’s nothing worse than a spoiled brat; someone who believes he’s entitled. We are a blessed people and God knows better than we do what we have need of. We only see what we think we need when most of the time it’s a want.

And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19)

Oftentimes, when I’m feeling like I’m in lack of something that I believe I need (more like a want that I rationalize to be a need), I take a step back and look at all that He has already richly bestowed upon me and my family. My goodness, we have a home, 2 paid for cars, jobs, health, a beautiful son, a happy marriage. Then I think back to a time prior when I wanted so desperately to be a wife and a mother, to have a home and I remember how God answered each of those prayers in His perfect timing, not mine. You see, I would’ve settled for far less than what He desired to bless me with. I’ve been known to remind my husband of this very thing when he falls into “the trap”. It doesn’t take long for us both to realize how truly blessed we are. I challenge you to do the same the next time you find yourself in “the trap”.  It really does put things into perspective!

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. (James 1:17)

 

 

 

 

 

Generosity

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Just today I had a conversation with a friend and the subject of generosity came up. Honestly, I guess I’d never really thought of it apart from the giving of money. You know, “he made a generous donation,” or “she was so generous with her giving this year”.  As I think on topic, the giving of money is but a facet. In fact, there are various ways to demonstrate generosity.

Perhaps the Christmas season has sparked an interest within me on this subject; after all, it is quite assuredly the largest (retail) season for giving of the entire year. I began to ponder the concept of what it means to give of yourself. Whether or not it involves money is immaterial. My friend and I were discussing the fact that some of us are quick to offer our money, perhaps because it is a commodity we have, rather than giving of our time. Maybe our time is quite scarce and so, it is easier to turn loose of some cash.

Case in point: several years back, a dear couple friend of ours with young children hadn’t been out on a date night in quite some time. So my husband and I offered to keep their kids for them for a few hours so they could enjoy a rare night out. To us, it was a mere gift of our time; we weren’t babysitting for money. While they thanked us for watching their kids, truly we received the blessing! We felt overjoyed to be able to do something for our friends whom we love so much. We were able to be generous with our time and desired to bless them with a night out. We enjoyed giving of ourselves! (*)

To effectively give of oneself, the heart is a package deal. When our heart is in the right place, then we find we are acting out of a pure heart, and with the right spirit. This is the quintessential art of giving. Giving of yourself is an act of selflessness. Again, sometimes this generosity involves money and other times it does not. More important is that you give of yourself because you really want to, not because you feel manipulated, or desire notoriety for your philanthropy. Our heart matters. How is yours?

So, this Christmas as you’re wrapping up your gift buying, or just beginning your shopping, don’t buy into our culture’s model of overspending in an attempt to purchase just the perfect gift. Try thinking outside the box! Perhaps a simple card with heartfelt written words would mean so much more than the random $20 gift you were planning to purchase. Offering your time to cut someone’s yard throughout the summer, helping to provide meals for a widow or a working single Mom would be so appreciated. Purchasing a newspaper subscription or paying for winter snow removal for a parent or grandparent on a fixed income would be well received. As long as it comes from your heart, you’re giving a generous gift. In this, we demonstrate our love for one another.

*(Note: my intent in sharing this is not to brag or to receive accolades, rather to illustrate what giving looks and feels like.)

Christmas is just around the corner!

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Christmas is just around the corner!

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Are you one of those who loves a big countdown to Christmas? You know, “only 10 days until Christmas!” Or, are you one of the many who love to go out in the midst of the hustle and bustle of Christmas shopping? Perhaps you are like me and rather despise the anxiety that can be brought upon us with all the marketing, countdowns, and crowds of people everywhere, fighting for the perfect gift at the perfect price.

Regardless of where you stand on the rush brought on by the holidays, one thing remains common to us all: the heart. If you’re reading this, you are living and breathing and your heart is beating. I can’t really take credit for the point I’m about to make because it isn’t original to me. A gal and I were chatting about whether or not we’d decorated our homes for Christmas. It was her goal to put her tree up that day. Since my family and I had just returned from a long car trip, my focus needed to be unpacking suitcases, doing laundry, unpacking our car & buying groceries, all the things that go with being out of town. We both agreed that the house has to be clean before we can decorate. This added some stress to our otherwise fun plans! She shared how her 5 year old loves to decorate the tree and help her put all the decor out around the house. What a lovely thought; I however, imagined doing my decorating while my son was at school.

Our conversation quickly turned to the heart. My friend simply said “if your heart isn’t in to the joy of setting out the decor and preparing your home for Christmas, it is being done with the wrong intent and motive“. This resonated with me in the season of life I’m in as I have debated whether or not to even put up a tree. Lest you think I’m the Grinch over here, let me assure you that Christmas has always been my favorite holiday. I used to look forward to getting all the decor out, unwrapping all the precious and memorable ornaments to flock my tree. I loved setting out my beautiful nativity scene, wrapping the garland around the banister, hanging our stockings and sitting back to enjoy the warm glow of the lit tree.

Where is my joy? It’s there. Down deep. I feel as if it’s yet another chore to add to my never-ending “to do” list. Sad, isn’t it? Remember, I told you I’m not the Grinch. This is where the heart comes in! Just as you would prepare your home for the Christmas holiday, so should you prepare your heart. I’ve been pondering what that means. I want to be “all in” and celebrate. What does this look like for me? I want to usher Christmas in by being in the moment. I want to put myself and my thoughts into that day so many ions ago when Christ Jesus came to earth as a babe, born of a virgin to bring joy and hope to a dying and sinful world. Jesus would live here with us as a human being before the plan was fulfilled in which Jesus would die a horrifying and tortuous death upon a cross, taking on our sin (yours and mine), yet 3 days later raise from the dead! It is during the Easter season that we celebrate the hope there is beyond the grave for those who believe and place their trust in Jesus Christ. Whew! What a humbling thought. What amazing love was displayed for you and me!

Slow down your busyness. Be intentional with your time. Take time for yourself to read the Christmas story in the book of Luke. Set out your nativity. Ponder what that day must have looked like on that day so long ago when Jesus was born. Listen to Christmas carols with meaning to help prepare your heart for the reason, the true reason, we celebrate Christmas. Quiet yourself before Him and thank Him for the gift of His Son. Share these truths with your children, as you pray for ordained moments. Help them to understand the season isn’t about Santa or presents, parties or candy. Give them a glimpse into your heart. Christ is alive and well and waiting for us to meet with Him, if we’ll give Him some time.

Merry Christmas!

what’s REALLY important?

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Recently, I attended a memorial service for a sweet sixteen year old who was in a horrific car accident. While I’d only interacted with this girl a handful of times, I knew her parents. It was heartbreaking to watch the video put together by one of her besties portraying her friend’s short life through pictures. The testimonies shared by two of her coaches as well as 6+ of her classmates. It was allot to take in. The community honored this sweet sixteen darling in huge ways, showing their love and support to this dear family. Even more, was the fact that her death, along with two others within our county were all killed in car accidents, all sweet sixteen, within 2 weeks. Heart wrenching for sure. I cannot imagine the deep hurt, the loss, the questions, the why’s and what if’s of it all.

What impacted me most of all, however, was when this girl’s father, who’d just lost his daughter days prior, chose to speak at her service. To witness a loving father share about his only daughter’s short life was moving and thought-provoking. He shared that he, along with his wife, had lost sight for awhile of what really matters. He spoke of their desire for not only having a nice home, working hard to achieve nice flower beds and a nice yard, wanting the right carpet and floors, furniture and decor. He then said, all of a sudden, none of that stuff matters anymore. What he shared next was really inspirational: he said that when we’re so busy keeping up with and striving to have all the right stuff in this life, we won’t have the time to focus on family, which is all that really matters.

Of course, it isn’t a crime to want nice things in this life. That wasn’t the point. Rather, it was the temporary loss of focus of what really matters in this life. Not meaning to sound morbid, none of us is promised another minute, hour, or day. My takeaway from this former Sunday school teacher of mine and his tragic loss, is what are we doing with the time we’re given? Are we being kind and loving? Are we selfless? Are we making a difference? Are we intentional in our relationships?

Lastly, this Daddy shared in the midst of emotion, that his daughter’s best friend came to him and said she knew that her friend had accepted Christ and been baptized, securing her a place in heaven. She shared that she wanted desperately to see her friend again. This Daddy and his wife shared how she could be sure she’d spend eternity with Jesus, in heaven, with her dear friend, leading her to salvation in Jesus. It didn’t end there! She brought several boys from their school who also wanted to know how they could know Jesus and live eternally with him after their life here on earth is through. A couple of them also prayed to receive Christ. All 3 will be baptized as a testimony of what transpired within their hearts. This Daddy shared that his daughter’s life wasn’t in vain. Although he desperately misses her and the daily texts he sent to her, “good morning, beautiful,” he knows that others’ lives were touched and impacted through her short life not only this side of heaven, but for eternity.

Let’s live our lives well. Be intentional. Love well. Risk sharing your heart as well as your faith. Smile. Don’t be judgemental. Give of yourself. Look for the good in others. Be selfless. Invest in others.