A God of love

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I have searched for many things in my life. And I have found some pretty significant answers. One being a solution to this world’s growing problems. That answer is love. Not just any “love” but a true, genuine, sacrificial love. Love conquers all. It says in the book of Corinthians that love never fails! What an amazing promise, and I believe it! Love looks for the best in people. It seeks the well being of others and takes our thoughts away from our own selfish ambitions. If driven by it one can achieve unimaginable things. But the only way to achieve this love is going to the source where that love comes from. To the one where it all began, to He who orchestrated the most eventful, historic times driven by love…our Creator….God. He is love. His Word says in 1 John 4:7 “for love comes from God.” You will not find a more life giving, purifying, powerful love than the love of God. There can be many emotions that “seem” like it, but nothing can measure up. It is authentic, it is real, and there is only one true source.

In verse 16 it reads, “God is love. Whoever lives in love, lives in God and God in him.” Meaning if we live in love, walk daily in love, let our actions be led by love then we live in God and God in us! But to walk daily in love is not an easy thing to do. It means looking past the faults of people around us. Whether they have hurt us, annoyed us, betrayed us, whether we think they are deserving or not of our love. God calls us to love even our enemies. ouch. And because the Word says he is love, if He indeed lives in us then everything we do should reflect him. However, that’s not always the case, is it?

I’ll admit my actions do not always reflect this love. When I lose my patience with my children, or am angered by what someone has done or said I am put in a place where I need to consciously make the decision to love. To act in love, to speak in love, to react in love. I am as imperfect as the next person and need of His guidance daily. But my prayer is that my family will see me love like He does. Then the days in my household will become uplifting, filled with growth and progress. Love lifts, heals, protects, perseveres in times of hardship, strengthens and takes you farther than you ever thought possible. It keeps you holding on! Love brings people together, dissipates anger, and brings forth forgiveness. Love is kind, not hurtful. It is selfless and merciful. It makes those who have it stronger, not weaker.

Love heals broken hearts, sustains marriages, and mends broken relationships between parents and their children. It fuels the desire to live!

If this world ran on God’s love it would be quite different. But love is not something we can force onto people, or force them to have. It comes from within, from the deepest part of a person’s being when they have encountered our loving Father. When His love is allowed to run through it brings freedom, joy and peace.

Our God is a God of peace and order. And we sure could use that on this earth right?  There is a solution to the pain and heartache of this world. You and I have the opportunity to encounter it, live it and share it!

Love truly is the answer to our problems. God’s love changes who we are for the better. It leaves no trace of ugliness behind. It cleanses, purifies, and believes.

God I pray that the world may know this love. That those who poses it will stop at nothing to share it, and will open their mouths to speak life. That we would all love each other as you loved us. Amen.

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Peace in overload

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I love God’s Word. In a world full of chaos and stress his word is what keeps me grounded and quite honestly sane. It’s easy nowadays to share information, opinions, kind words, hurtful words, scary words…..you get the point. The power to share is literally on our fingertips. But have you ever stopped and thought about the validity of these hundreds of billions of words that are shared EVERY single day? Anyone and I mean anyone can make a video, type a blog or even news article to claim anything they want, be it for good or bad. How can we be at rest when we are bombarded by all this information? Who can we believe? What side should we be on? Should I worry, should I prepare, should I ignore? Thoughts that I’m sure cross all of our minds at some point as we process what we receive, sometimes overloading our brains unnecessarily.

Philippians 4:6 says “Do not be anxious about anything…”. Clearly God has seen the turmoil of the earth the last four billion years….so if he’s telling me I don’t have to be anxious I feel pretty confident I can believe him. He tells us to pray and present everything to him, and that includes our fears and the nagging thoughts of a world without him. I love what verse seven says next; “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding , will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Meaning the peace he’s able to give us surpasses every logical reasoning.

God has given us the Holy Spirit, who is a promoter of peace, a comforter. It is possible to carry out a very active and purposeful life while having a still and peaceful heart. It all starts with our thoughts. Fill your thoughts with good, and good will reside in your heart. Fill with fear and you’ll feel the life drained out of you.

So how can we get rid of the thoughts already inside our heads that don’t promote the peace of God? By thinking on the RIGHT things. We can’t control what happens in the world, what others do or say, even what nature decides to bring our way. But one thing we DO have control over is our thoughts. By changing one thought we change our emotion. Verse eight reads “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy- think about such things.” This will help us stay focused on God and his promises, which he is faithful to see through.

And as for every article, latest piece of news, blog, or social media post you come across, my advice is be wise. Don’t be quick to believe, react to and share everything you come across. Look at the source, is it reliable? Do your research, and ask God to guide you. He will. There definitely is good information out there, reliable and worth sharing. But in the webs of communication there are also opinions, bad intentions, fear, worry…. Listen to the GOOD things. I’m not saying be ignorant of the world around you, but stop and think how you will allow this to make you feel and react.

When in doubt turn to God and his word. The one who will never let us down, HE alone is our security. I can put all my efforts in preparing for every bad thing that might ever happen, but in the end it’s all in vain if I lose my peace and sanity over it.  Think on the goodness of God’s words and promises. Believe in his faithfulness, he NEVER fails.

Keys to a marriage that thrives

Today marks eight years we have been married. And our marriage has been a book of good and rough moments, sometimes scary or funny. Other times heartbreaking and hopeful. But through it all we have found one thing to be consistently true; that when you have God as number one in your life as an individual, your life together becomes an adventure.

We realize having a thriving marriage seems something foreign or far off for many couples. But it doesn’t have to be. God wants everyone to live a fulfilling and thriving marriage. Not one that gets by just “making it”.

We’ve taken time to discuss and share as a couple some key points that have proven to be crucial in the strengthening of our marriage. These are meant for reflection, and it doesn’t mean our marriage is perfect. But we can honestly say that we walk each day feeling blessed. So here goes:

• Your individual relationship with God must be a priority in your life. He is the solid foundation your marriage will grow on.

• Turn to God about your frustrations. Not friends and family who can be biased and “feed” your negative feelings.

• Learn to love unconditionally. We are far from worthy of God’s love, yet he gives it to us. Don’t live with the mentality that your spouse needs to be “deserving” of your love.

• Seek to live out 1 Corinthians 13 in your life. Make a conscious decision to do so. The flesh wants what is easy, but a strong and thriving marriage is a result of intentional effort.

• Plan life together. You are no longer two but one. Meaning your goals and aspirations should always keep the well being of your spouse and marriage in mind.

• There’s no happily ever after without commitment.

• Never compare your marriage to another. Focus on reaching the best that you and your spouse can be, not who you can “be like”.

•You contribute to the state of your marriage. Meaning what you get out of it is determined by what you pour into it and your mentality about it.

We encourage you to take time in prayer and seek God in the areas your marriage needs improvement. Don’t hesitate to seek help from qualified individuals such as your pastors or counselors. They are in your life as a valuable resource from God to help guide, counsel, and teach. When your relationship with God is strengthened, so is your marriage, and as result so is your family.

But I don’t have time

If asked what are some things you wish you had time for, what would you say? It’s ironic how living in a time where everything is manufactured to be quicker, more time efficient, we’re still plagued with this all too known phrase “but I don’t have time…”.  I wish I could…but I don’t have time. Countless things could fill in that blank. I wish I could work out, I wish I could spend more time with my kids, I wish I could read my bible more, I wish I could pray more….but I don’t have time. I can’t even count the times I’ve heard this come out of  people’s mouths, even my own.

It wasn’t until I left my job and became a full time mom that I realized if I didn’t have time for something, it was my fault. For a long time I blamed having a job, responsibilities of ministry, and even having kids as an excuse for things I knew were important but I couldn’t get done. I’d constantly think “If only things were this way or that way, then  I’d have time…”. Then I found myself saying those exact same words even when I did have the time. I simply wasn’t making the time.

More than once I’ve heard my husband quote, “Excuses only satisfy the person that makes them…”. And he’s right. Excuses are just that, excuses. And unfortunately the thing people make most excuses for is their spiritual growth. We think God will understand that our lives are “just too busy” to pray, to fast, to serve in ministry…  We tell God “fix this in my life then I’ll have time to serve” or “then I’ll have more time to go to church”. Sound familiar? I hope not, but if you do find yourself saying this, think about Daniel. Daniel was a man of prayer, he had a deep connection with God because he knew the place God deserved in his life. When you intentionally give God the time he deserves, things will change. Everything will begin to align itself in your life, because you have given Him priority.

What a struggle we have sometimes, giving God his rightful place. Daniel 6:10 says that even while knowing the decree that had been placed Daniel prayed,  “just as he had done before.” Even in the face of death Daniel did not waver in his devotional time with God. But how many times do we give up just 5 minutes of morning time with God for 5 more minutes of the snooze button! It’s not that we don’t have time, we simply don’t make the time! When something is a priority in your life you make time for it. Even simple things like brushing your teeth, taking a bath, and eating a meal. You make time for it because you understand its importance. God forbid you go day after day without brushing your teeth because you “don’t have time.” Or go for weeks without showering because you “keep forgetting” or “things keep coming up”.  Excuses.

I’ll leave you with this, a bible commentary I was reading (because I’m nerdy like that) went like this: ” Daniel prayed openly and avowedly; and though a man of vast business, he did not think that would excuse him from daily exercises of devotion. How inexcusable are those who have but little to do in the world, yet will not do thus much for their souls!” Ouch. Priorities….they are priorities because you make them, not because they have the time to be. I encourage you to analyze your life. I don’t pretend to have it all figured out, or to have the perfect handle on managing my priorities. But God has brought this conviction to my heart, and I have to share it. I pray God may become the center of your life so you can enjoy His abundance of blessings. You will never go back!

Preserve my life

img_2327Growing up in a Christian home is not easy. What is meant to protect us can be seen as just rules, limitations, being excluded or ridiculed by peers because we can’t or don’t partake in the things they freely do. Without relationship with God, these can easily lead to frustrations, anger, or rebellion. It’s argued that we can’t be ourselves or express who we are because everything is a sin. The current culture mindset never helps, because many don’t realize anything that makes us the “center” of our lives only brings a halt to what can truly fill our lives.

The phrase “Live your own truth” is lived out in many lives. It’s labeled and used erroneously as expressing yourself and celebrating “individuality”. This causes many to view Christianity as just rules that block “being who you want to be”. Many soak up this advice and use it to justify what in reality is just an indulgence in our sinful nature. True expression and individuality can only come forth when you go back to the root of your creation, and your Creator. The one who KNOWS you, better than you know yourself.

What the world sees as being “narrow” or “closed” minded, is meant to preserve my life. What is taught in a Christian lifestyle, when guided by the Word and Holy Spirit is not because it makes us “better” than anyone. Nor does it bind us from being who we are. It PRESERVES who God created me to be and allows me to find myself in Him. Like an artist takes steps to preserve their painting, so our Creator seeks to preserve us.

Being a follower of Christ does not mean my life is limited, full of rules, or expectations of being a “perfect” person. If means true freedom, victory, living a life that is fulfilled, and knowing who I was created to be. It means now my life is preserved, through His Word, teachings and guidance from the Holy Spirit.

If you are searching to find yourself, looking to discover who you are and where you are destined to go,  I encourage you to start by asking the one who created you. His guidance will preserve your life. His Word says in Jeremiah 1: 5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you…”. So why start anywhere else.

 

 

He is good, even when he gives bad.

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When there are no words that comfort, no strength to hold us, no embrace that brings us peace, He is there and He is good. In that moment when our heart is in tears and we struggle to be strong because that is what we are “supposed to do”, He is there and He is good. When deep breaths and suppressing emotions feel like the only way to make it through the day, and when we “know” He will never leave us yet feel so isolated and misunderstood. In these moments in life that bring us pain we are not meant to handle, He is GOOD.

We need pain. It is what breaks us down and points us in the direction we need to go. Right into God’s loving arms. The earth is screaming in pain. Pain that you and I may not see but can experience through what God allows into our lives. We never want it, we run from it, and we sure don’t understand it. But through it all He is GOOD. And in His goodness He takes us through the process to perfect what He is doing in us.

No one likes to talk about the process. The ugliness of it, the questioning, the tears, the desperate longing to reach the end. Yet in the midst of our suffering God continues being God. No amount of pain can take away from who He is. And He is a GOOD God. His word says “Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always” (Psalms 105:4). In Him we WILL find the strength.

I currently walk through my own process as I deal with the pain of suffering a third miscarriage. My heart aches still as I watch my children play and long for the three who “should have been”. Yet after struggling and questioning there was nothing left to do but surrender. Surrender to the process that He wanted to take me through and allow me to discover more of who He is. And I saw more than ever that His goodness is eternal.

If you are going through a painful process, know that he is holding you, even when you have stopped holding on. Let his work be perfected in you and see the beauty in the process. He is infinitely good, even when he says yes to the pain that comes. His word assures us that his love surpasses all understanding. And love is fueling his every stroke in our lives. Believe in His goodness, even when He brings you pain.

I used to be scared.

wpid-wp-1432929881284.jpegI used to be scared. Scared about bringing kids into this world. Not about the labor pains or giving birth or even experiencing something so wildly new, but about raising kids in this fast changing world that seems to only point in one direction…away from God. A place where everything needs to be “accepted” and the lines of moral values have been blurred and shaded grey because now it’s all about “living your own truth”. Yes THAT scared me. Teaching my children to live in a way that is looked at as “old fashioned” or “closed minded”. I lived with this fear until our first daughter was born. When I got to experience first hand how powerful love can be. How overwhelmingly amazing it is to love someone so strongly that you’d be willing to give your life for them. How love drives everything you do, your thoughts, your decisions, your plans…..and I realized that’s how God’s love is for us. So strong that it goes beyond our understanding, yet we attain a humbling glimpse of it when we hold our child in our arms. I wanted her to know God’s love…. and to share it with the world. Yes it is a cold world, and it needs to be warmed with His love. The world needs an army to fight for and rescue all those who are walking without Christ. That is what I am raising. Soldiers. Individuals who are filled with the love of God and will stop at nothing to share it with the world. This transformed my thinking…and I was no longer afraid. I have experienced LOVE….God is love. And His love in us “rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love NEVER fails.” (1 Cor 13:6).  And my children will know His love. In their journey to encountering and knowing the living God, my husband and I will be right there….covering them with our prayers, and proclaiming the Word over their lives. Our home is a training ground, one that trains currently through crayons and puzzle pieces. So if you are scared of bringing children into this world or fear for the ones you currently have, be at peace. You are raising soldiers for an almighty God. And he is there every step of the way…. He NEVER fails.