Love without hypocrisy

Nothing gets to me more than a hypocrite. Hypocrisy ruins a testimony. It’s a tool of the enemy to attempt to destroy the church. I struggle to be in relationship with people who are not authentic, who will say one thing yet live another. For this reason one small verse recently took my breath away.

Romans 12:9 “Love must be without hypocrisy.”

If you follow me on Instagram, you know that love is the theme God is working on in my heart right now. Every verse I’m drawn to, the sermons I’m hearing, my quiet time readings. It’s all about love right now.

Our family is one month into a cross country move. Months of busyness and activity, stress, changes, sadness, new beginnings. At the end of my limit last week, it struck me that in our home, we were struggling to love each other well.

When God brought me to Romans 12:9, I couldn’t move past it. All day this verse ran through my mind. It’s one thing to say we love, it’s another to act on it despite our feelings. But to read that our love must be without hypocrisy, I realized that the work was a deeper work. One that needed to get to the roots in my heart.

To love without hypocrisy, I first must deny myself. A hypocritical love has self at the center. A love without hypocrisy, is a love that flows from the Holy Spirit through us creating in us the power to deny ourselves and pick up our cross and follow Him. Follow His leading of love, His sacrificial love.

Selfishness puts my needs first. My desires. My thoughts and ideas. Everything I encounter will begin to feel like a disruption, irritation, or inconvenience. That’s because everything is competing against me. It’s a ruthless battle determined to get its way no matter what.

Until we determine that love will win no matter what.

To love without hypocrisy is to love wildly free.

I heard the pounding of footsteps before I heard my son’s voice crying out, “They need your help. They are stuck in the mud with their bikes.”

“I hope you are kidding.”

“I’m not.”

“Why were they riding through the mud?”

“I don’t know, but they need you.”

I walked to the soon to be construction area that is nothing but dirt mounds, to find two of my boys covered in mud. Their bikes were literally stuck. Their feet stuck.

My reaction wasn’t pretty, and I often pray that my children not develop a picture of God based on my parenting.

“You got yourself into this, now you have to figure a way out.”

And I walked back home. Time passed and I made another visit to the mud. This time I coached them out of the mud and waited back at the house with clear instructions for beginning the clean up. I watched as they hosed the mud off their bodies, clothes, bikes. I berated them on why they would have done something like that.

The answer. It looked fun. We thought it was dry.

Of course, they were simply being boys. Adventurous. Carefree. Risk-taking. All I saw was the mess left to clean up and the damage done to bikes and clothes.

Carrying the weight of ourselves and our selfishness is like riding our bike through the mud. It appears dry. It promises to offer you a ride you won’t forget. It entices you in by appealing to your sense of desire. Once in, you begin to see the trap. Before long, you are stuck and crying out for help.

When you are deep in the mud, which quickly begins to feel like cement, you can think only of yourself. How to get out. You cry for help and have no capacity to think of anything but yourself.

When the mud begins to harden, and you feel yourself sinking, this is the point that anger, rage, despair, discouragement, bitterness, and regret begin to ooze.

When we reign, we think we are free, but we are walking through mud. The cleanup and recovery is a process. But love washes it clean.

“Love must be without hypocrisy. Show family affection to one another with brotherly love. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not lack diligence; be fervent in spirit; serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope; be patient in affliction; be persistent in prayer.” Romans 12:9-12

So this is what God is showing me. Love comes from Him. God is love. To love without hypocrisy, to outdo one another in showing honor, I have to put off my own selfishness in order to put on love.

To put off self is to kill my pride. When my pride rules my heart, I develop a critical spirit. I see the flaws of everyone around me. I am quick to see how I am right and they are wrong. Pride is the ultimate love slayer. Pride never puts another before itself. Therefore, love isn’t free to love. It’s put in chains.

My heart’s cry right now is to let love reign in my heart. To let Christ have His way in me. To allow me to think so little of myself that I allow myself room to think of serving Him only. With love.

How To Use God’s Word In Daily Raw Moments of Parenting

I sat at the farmhouse table with 2 of 3 boys. Bibles out, breakfast being consumed, ready to start the homeschool day. Boy 3 arrives on the scene with an apology for being late to the table. He opens the pantry, pours a bowl of cereal, opens the fridge, and….finds the milk empty.

He wheels around looking for the person who dared take the last of the milk. A brother offered a smile with a raise of the red dixie cup that housed the last drops of milk. The fuming brother stepped with pounding feet toward his spot at the table. I held my breath afraid to inhale the smoke exiting his ears. And then it happened.

The brother who drank the milk made eye contact with the brooding brother, he took a deliberately slow sip while winking from behind the tilted cup. Brooding brother bursts out in his anger. The fighting words start. I attempt to calm the boys down, and I make the mistake of walking away for a brief moment, long enough for brooding brother to push provoking brother to the point of spilling a cup of water.

I send angry brother to his room to calm down. And then I take a deep breath.

I’ve been listening to a book that is daily challenging me in how I parent. It’s revealing to me the sin in my heart that parents from a wrong perspective most days. It’s encouraging me to look at every single parenting moment as a gift from God. Every frustration. Every heartache. Every outburst. Every moment we have our kids is an opportunity to be used by God to live out the gospel, to be used by God to point them to their desperate need for the cross, and to fall madly and deeply in love with the One who is worthy of our everything.

The book I’m reading, or listening to, on Audible, is Parenting – 14 Gospel Principles that can radically change your family by Paul David Tripp.

My first reaction is NOT to point to the cross. I want that to be my first reaction. But it depends on my fatigue level, how many issues I’ve had to parent through when the next one strikes, how hungry I am. You get the picture. If you catch me fresh in the morning, I’m high on His new mercies and I can point away to the cross. But grab me at the end of the day, and you might think someone has replaced me.

On this particular morning, I’d enjoyed a long quiet time alone with the Lord. While showering I listened to the end of this book I’ve been savoring. I was fresh into my day, yet my first reaction to this situation was in my head, “Seriously??? Monday was great but Tuesday is now Monday??” Then I sent a vent text to my husband for good measure. (Good man he is just lets me vent away…then I think he prays for me)

I opened up my file box I keep in the kitchen drawer. It’s full of sacred. It holds God’s Word as I’ve stumbled upon it in my quiet times or at various points when God has spoken to me. I’ve jotted key verses on these index cards for years. If they fall into a particular category, like anger, I write the topic at the top of the card.

These cards aren’t beautifully created. I would never post them on Pinterest as they would be overlooked. They aren’t color coded, organized smartly, written with beautiful calligraphy, or doodled on for extra charm. But they hold God’s Word etched in paper.

When I began to read God’s Word every single day, not only did I find myself falling more in love with God, but I found myself shocked at how practical and alive God’s Word is. Each time I sat to read the Word, I’d find myself grabbing an index card out and writing down a verse that I knew I would need eventually.

I didn’t know God’s Word well enough in my early years of parenting to recall a verse and point my kids to Jesus with His Word. So when I discovered a passage of scripture, I’d write it down, labeling if possible and tucking into a file box that I kept near at hand in the kitchen.

When boys complained, I’d grab at my index cards and quickly pull out the verse about complaining. When boys argued, I’d reach for the cards and find scripture on loving others. When anger reigned, I’d find the verses on anger. When we found ourselves choosing not to watch movies that friends might be allowed to watch, we’d pull out the cards that talked about keeping pure hearts.

While there are books out there that give a topical index to finding scripture to use in parenting, I found that discovering it on my own held the most power. I was relying on God to show me Himself through my own study time. Taking the extra minute or two to write the Word on the card was an active step in hiding His Word in my own heart that I might not sin against Him. My kids actually seeing me reading, studying, writing, and relying on His Word has impacted them and their own reliance on God’s Word.

Back to the story. I grabbed my file cards and started thumbing through them before I sat with my incredibly angry child. Then I sat on his bed and we prayed. We thanked God that He is gracious, kind, compassionate, and forgiving. We thanked Him for His Word that lights our path. We asked Him to guide us in righteousness for His name’s sake.

I read the first card to him.

“Proverbs 19:20 says ‘Listen to advice and accept instruction, and in the end you will be wise.’ I hope you will listen to my instruction now. I’m going to read to you some scripture as it relates to what just took place.

Proverbs 19:11 ‘A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense.’

Proverbs 17:19 ‘He who loves a quarrel loves sin; he who builds a high gate invites destruction.’

Proverbs 16:32 ‘Patience is better than power, and controlling one’s temper, than capturing a city.’

Proverbs 29:11 ‘A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control.’

You know why I send you away to your room before I talk to you? This is why…

Psalm 4:4 ‘In your anger do not sin; when you are on your beds, search your heart and be silent.’

I want you to sit with your heart and let the Holy Spirit speak to you before I speak to you.

James 3:18 ‘Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness’

Proverbs 14:29 ‘A patient man has great understanding, but a quick tempered man displays folly.’

Ecc 7:9 ‘ Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger resides in the lap of fools.’

Ecc 7:8 ‘The end of a matter is better than its beginning and patience is better than pride.’

James 1:19-20 ‘Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.’

Psalm 37:8-9 ‘Refrain from anger and give up your rage; do not be agitated it can only bring harm. For evildoers will be destroyed, but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land.’ ‘

After I read the scriptures jotted on index cards that have been used repeatedly over the years, I looked into his eyes. They’d softened. His shoulders had relaxed.

I continued, “I understand your feelings and thoughts from that incident, but I want to point out something you might not be aware of. Were you upset because your brother used the last of the milk?”

He nodded his head.

“That was selfish of him to think of himself right? He didn’t consider anyone else when he poured the last drops. I’ve done the same thing before. Thought of myself only.”

He kept listening.

“But who were you thinking of when you realized there was no milk?”

Quietly, he answered, “Myself.”

“Right. You thought of yourself first. You wanted cereal. You had no milk. So you see,  both of you had selfishness in your hearts. The anger we experience is typically birthed from another sin hiding in our hearts. Something drives that anger out, and we need to identify the sin in our heart producing the anger. That anger then caused you to sin. That’s why I love the verse that says ‘in your anger, do not sin.’ We have a choice when we feel anger to NOT sin in the anger. It’s hard, but that is why I send you away. I’m trying to help protect you from sinning further in your anger. Then you can get into the quiet moments with God.”

I finished by praying with him showing how to ask God for forgiveness and asked him to go to his brother and ask forgiveness. I sat with the brother and shared words with him to show how selfishness hides in our hearts and we don’t even recognize it most days. I told him initially he wasn’t trying to hurt his brother, but he didn’t think of anyone other than himself when he took the last of the milk. And one step further, when seeing the brother fuming, continued to stoke the fire, provoking him to anger.

This process can be exhausting. It takes time, patience, and diligence. There was a season where we simply didn’t have time for an exercise like this. We were running from here to there. There was no time to sit and talk. However, we are in a season now where we have much greater margin in our days.

Do I handle every argument this way? No. Do I wish I did? Yes.

Many days I take the easy road. I simply slap a band aid on the injury and rush us onto the next item on the agenda. But I know deep down that this isn’t what my kids need most. Yes, I temporarily regain peace in the home, but their hearts were shaped, and they didn’t see Jesus at work.

Often in my parenting, I let my own selfishness rule my heart. I want peace. I want quiet. I want time. I want. I want. I want. Therefore, I don’t take the time needed to truly point my kids to Christ.

We have a small window of time to instruct our kids, to train them up, to shepherd them. We have limited time to influence them more than the world will. It’s our privilege to take every moment as a gift and use it to the glory of God.

Lord, I confess I parent selfishly many days. Forgive me for not taking every moment to point my kids to you. Grant me wisdom. Give me strength to parent well. Show me how to do this task You’ve called me to. Thank you for the gift of parenting.

 

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Is the dream worth the work involved?

 

“Mommy, I’m going to write a book.”

His older brothers are learning keyboarding. Like many little brothers, he wants to do what they do. So he takes his place at the computer, a blank screen illuminating his face. His fingers search and peck with slow precision.

“Mommy, how do you spell ‘attitude’?”

“A…t…t…i…t…u…d…e”

The slow peck finds its pace again. A sigh. Backspace. Backspace. Backspace. “This is harder than I thought it would be.”

“Mommy, how do you make the letters capital?”

I leave my position at the stove and make my way into the mudroom where he sits working diligently. I show him how to capitalize. How to space. How to return. He finds his place again.

“Mommy, I don’t think any kids will really want to read this book. So I guess I’m writing it for the parents because they are the ones who will buy it.”

I smile at him with a knowing look. “You are exactly right.”

Peck. Peck. Peck.

“Mommy, I don’t know what to write next. Can you help me?”

“That is the thing about writing. It takes work. Sometimes the words flow and sometimes they trickle. Keep thinking. The words will come.”

“It’s way harder than I thought.”

Peck. Peck. Peck.

“Mommy, I am going to write a booklet instead of a book. I think the kids will like that better.”

I smile again as I ponder my own rationalizations of taking the easier road.

An hour later he asks me to print.

How often do we feel an urge to move on something. To design, create, build, form. To make something new, do something bold, something big, something small. The idea ignites a desire that grows inside us. But then.

The work. The work it takes isn’t quite as exciting as the dream of the work.

The questions begin. Is it worth the effort? Will it matter? Am I wasting my time? Will this impact anyone? Will I fail? Am I cut out for this?

It’s safe to hold a dream in our heart. Do we believe it’s safe when we let the dream escape our heart and place it in God’s hands? When we keep it inside, it’s our little secret. We can dream and ponder. When we begin the work, now there is a level of accountability. Others know our dream. Our fears and failures might be discovered.

When God has placed the dream in our heart, only He determines what success and failure look like. Our tendency is to analyze from a human standpoint.

God began to teach me this when He placed a dream in my heart and an idea in my mind to write Seeking Christmas. Success to the world looks like a book on a bestseller list, an author becoming known, writing more books, and so on. Success to God looks like someone who can hold that dream in their heart, move as He directs with one vision- following God no matter what the outcome may be. For Seeking Christmas, God’s dream wasn’t for me to become a well-known, best-selling author. It was to enter a season of growing in Him. Learning to trust Him with open hands.

What dreams has God placed in your heart that you are keeping in your heart? Is there something God wants you to give to Him with open hands, but fear is causing you to clench tightly?

Dreams come in so many sizes. Some are so small you might feel silly calling them a dream at all. Some are so enormous you feel silly even thinking of them. Some dreams are romanticized in our minds until we begin allowing them to find their way of escape. Then the realities of the work hit, and we begin to reshape that dream, turning a book into a booklet.

The greatest dreams in our hearts should be to glorify God. We glorify Him when we walk in the gifts He’s placed in us, releasing all of our fears of failures and disappointments to a God who has never failed His people. When we begin to walk in our gifts, the gifts grow. They get practice being used. They shine brighter. Our hearts our filled with a joy from the Father, the body of Christ is built up, and we encourage our brothers and sisters to walk in their own gifts.

Satan loves to whisper fear in our hearts that tell us it’s not worth the effort. When God is placing the dream in the heart, it’s worth the effort. No matter what the outcome is to the world. Remember God looks not at what man looks at. God looks at the heart. Let God begin to refine that heart today by taking one step towards a dream you know He’s given you. Give that dream back to God, hold your hands open to Him. Release it all to Him and ask that you be His vessel of blessing through a dream He designed.

 

When No One Knows You, You Are Still Known

Our family is unpacked in our new home in Nebraska. I have shared little on my blog space about the miracles we’ve watched God perform to get us here. Partly because I’ve had no time to write. I’ve shared snippets on Instagram or Facebook, but God deserves more glory than snippets. I’ve written in my prayer journal, and I hope to share soon a few of these stories online. I’ve been sharing the stories with anyone who will listen.

In the span of eight short weeks, we learned of our move, listed and sold our house in 3 days, bought a house over a whirlwind trip, I spoke at a women’s retreat, we set out on a goodbye tour, wrapped up loose ends, watched our house packed and moved cross country, now here we are two months later.

As I unpack boxes, I feel my soul unpacking. It’s been holding and storing quite a bit over the past two months.

When God moves you from a place you felt well planted to a place of unknown, you begin to notice hidden areas of insecurity. You begin to see idols you failed to notice in your well-planted home. You begin to see areas you thought your identity was firmly rooted in Christ but in reality it was actually trying to find roots in reputation, ministry, or being known.

When you live around people who know you, you have nothing to prove. You are known by the ones you do life with. If you mess up, they know you, they give you second chances. You can live with your guard down because they know your heart. They know your affections and priorities. They know Christ is your center.

Then God moves you away from the comfort of being known. He moves you away from that safety net that entangles your identity with things of this world. Suddenly, you find yourself with God alone. What a glorious place to be.

I find myself challenged. Do I believe what I’ve told myself? Is my identity solely rooted in Christ? In Christ alone? Am I living every day for the single purpose to glorify Him? If so, then it doesn’t matter where I live or who knows me or doesn’t know me. My eyes locked on Him, all else matters little.

I’m noticing that my eyes are on life around me more than I realized. I’m seeing that I’ve said I don’t care what people think about me because when my life is given for His glory that’s all that matters. But God has me in a place where no one knows me. There is a temptation to try to prove myself. To show that I am a good person, a trustworthy friend, a loyal confidante.

Quietly, He’s been whispering to me to simply abide in Him. There is nothing to prove. He wants me as a vessel for Him.

I pray this often- “Lord, use me however You want. In any way you see fit. Make me wholly yours. Bend me, shape me, use me for any purpose. Make me all of yours.”

We stood singing praises in church yesterday. I felt His Spirit. Tears filled my eyes for no reason other than I felt the Holy Spirit. I heard a voice in my head say, “Don’t quench my Spirit.” I began an internal dialogue with God because my heart felt it might explode with love and joy. It was unexplainable. Simply His Presence falling over me filled me to the point I felt I might burst. And I heard that voice tell me not to quench the Spirit.

So I laughed in my head. I responded in my heart, “God, if you want me to raise my hands right now, you will have to force me to do it.”

You know why? Because I’m unknown. I’m uncomfortable. I’m worrying more about being unknown and what people might think of me rather than sitting in my identity in Christ alone.

You know what He did? The pastor asked the band to play the end of the song again and said he wanted everyone to raise their hands as we sang the song.

Yes, you read that right. I told God He would have to make me. And He did.

I could do nothing but laugh as I raised my hands in praise. Praise to the God Who hears our cries. Praise to the God who desires we live proving nothing to the world around us because we are living sold out to Him so the world will see Him without the distraction of us.

Lord, You are beyond comprehension. Your ways are too glorious for me to understand. Make me all of yours. Remove the distraction of me so I can be all you have made me to be. Set before me the path You desire I walk, hold my hand along the way. Let me hear the intimate ways you speak to me. Let me not miss one of your whispers. Increase my sensitivity to Your voice. Let me treasure your Word in my heart that I might not sin against you. Make my heart love you and your word more than anything else in this entire world. I love you, Lord. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

 

About International Women’s Day – the Christian Response

When satan first revealed to us his plan to influence the world for his purposes, he started with a woman. The first International Women’s Day began in the Garden of Eden.

When the man and the woman had everything in complete perfection. They had everything they could ever desire, and more. They actually walked with God.

There was only one thing. One thing God told them was not theirs. Everything else was theirs but this one thing. The fruit from the tree in the middle.

Satan went to the woman first. Maybe he said something like this to himself before approaching the woman with his lies, “Let’s get to the woman first. She will believe our lies then she will influence the man. They will fall in my trap and become mine. Then I will be like God.”

Maybe satan began to say things like this, “God has given the woman everything she could ever desire. Let’s get in her head to make her solely focused on the one thing she can’t have. Let’s make her think that God is withholding good from her. Let’s create in her a desire for more.”

In my mind the first international women’s day happened in the garden. It was the day the woman decided she deserved more than she believed God had given her. Satan first went after the woman, and today he still goes after the woman.  Satan isn’t creative. He uses his same tricks. And we keep falling for them. What was in her heart she didn’t see? Discontentment, covetousness, greed, pride -a desire to be her own God?

One of satan’s oldest tricks is to get in our mind and begin his whispers. “Did God really say?” “God didn’t say that.” With a few crafty words, He takes what God says and twists it causing confusion in our mind, planting seeds of doubt, creating a sense of entitlement, sowing jealousy and envy, breeding anger and bitterness. Of course, we don’t see that. Until it’s too late usually. We’ve walked in his trap.

We don’t see the deception at the time. It’s in hindsight we see. After Eve fell for satan’s lie, God confronted Adam and Eve. Adam blamed Eve, Eve blamed the snake. She said, “It was the serpent. He deceived me, and I ate.” (Genesis 3:13)

He deceived her and she ate. Today, he deceives women and they eat.

International Women’s Day is a day crafted from the pit of hell, giving birth here, and now disguised as something good.

International Women’s Day website says this – “Women unite to transform the world. Join us to ignite a global sisterhood. International Peace · Global Coherence · Promoting World Peace”

International Women’s Day is a trap, a lie, and it’s meant to divide and destroy. Christian women, don’t fall for the lie satan is feeding to you.

There is only one way to peace. One way to global sisterhood. And God has already shown us the way. He rescued us, redeemed us, we are His. We don’t need to fight for what God has already said is ours!

During the election season, one of my boys asked me what rights women don’t have that men have. He asked with genuine concern in his voice.

“What do you mean?” I questioned back.

“I keep seeing all these commercials that say women need to fight for their rights. What rights don’t you have.”

Even kids see the messaging pumped into women of this age.

My husband and I flew to Omaha on a house-hunting trip. He sat in the seat next to me. Two women entered and had no seat to sit in. My husband stood and offered his seat. He insisted. He couldn’t sit while a woman stood. No other man budged to offer their seats.

The woman looked at me and whispered, “You have a good one. Men these days aren’t like they used to be.”

I smiled at her and responded, “It’s probably because women demand to be treated like a man and men are confused about how a woman wants to be treated.”

She agreed.

Culture has placed men and women in competition with each other. The Bible doesn’t. Biblically, men and women are created equal in God’s eyes, made in His image. Yet they are very different. They complement each other in beautiful, unique ways.

Our culture is interesting in how far we swing. How far to the opposite side we go to right was seems off balance. One extreme to the other.

I saw this on Facebook recently. A new boys’ t-shirt Target put out that says Strong Like Mom.

So what’s so wrong with being strong like mom? Well, nothing except that it fits in with the rest of the messaging against men. The messaging that tries to elevate women above men. To make our boys look to mom as a picture of strength rather than dad. The messaging which satan intends to use to divide, he disguises as a message of unification. He is pitting women against men.

It’s all an effort to tilt and twist what God created so we accept and esteem something out of order. It’s meant so that we believe that God is withholding something from us. It’s meant to create a sense of fight in us. Fight for our value. Fight for our rights. Fight to be heard. Fight to be equal.

Women. We are fighting the wrong battle. The battle isn’t against men. The battle is against the prince of this world, given a short time, to win as many to him as he can before he is thrown in the lake of fire for eternity. (Rev 20:10)

So what’s the right fight for christian women? What is the good fight? It begins with Romans 12:2 “Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.”

Women, we must renew our minds daily. Culture is not our guide. Culture is influenced by the devil. It is not truth. It may hold pieces of truth, enough to make us blind, but it isn’t truth.

Women, don’t conform. Don’t conform to the patterns of this world, the patterns that say we must fight for rights we already have, or fight to be heard because we’ve believed a lie that says no one sees us or hears us. Don’t conform to the patterns that tell us to make our boys in our images, strong like mom.

Instead, be transformed by the renewing of our minds. Women and men are strong from the strength of God. He is the giver of strength. I’m raising boys who I want to love and cherish women. I want them to not see a competition of who is stronger or better or smarter. I want them to see a man and a woman the way God sees them. All created in His image.

I want to raise glory-bearers. Boys that become men who will protect and shield their woman. Who will be tender and compassionate to her. To believe in her and encourage her to use her God-given gifts for the glory of the Father, whether in the workplace or in the home or both. I want my boys to be in partnership with their future wives, seeing her as the helpmate she was created to be.

While satan is using women in creating this movement, which is no new movement, he is influencing the minds of our youth.

Our roles as christian adults is to protect the minds of these kids to see the truth of God’s Word. The only way to know Truth is to know Him. And the only way to know the difference between a lie from satan and the truth from God’s Word is to read the Word for ourselves.

Christian women, here’s how we interact with International Women’s Day.

1- Pray. Pray for women everywhere who are believing the lies that they must fight the wrong fight. Pray for eyes to be opened to the truth. Pray against satan’s deception. Pray for our youth. Pray for our little girls and boys growing up in this culture bent to destroy them.

2- Read God’s Word – Know it. Let it transform you. Let it illuminate the darkness.

3- Don’t focus on the issues. Focus on Christ. When satan can’t get a christian to believe his lies, he will create in them an intense focus on the issues. He will get them to fight the wrong battle still. But when our eyes are on Christ, we are looking at the Victor, we are covered in peace, and we can love our brothers and sister well.

4- Love one another- Love others well. It’s not a feeling. It’s an action. Satan stirs up division and hate. God stirs up love. Fight the division and anger and hate with love. “A gentle answers turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” (Proverbs 15:1)

Live and leave well

A friend once told me that when their family relocated they knew it was for a short 2 year assignment so they didn’t invest well in relationships. They thought it was pointless since they would leave so quickly. Her advice to me when we moved with our first relocation was to live like we would never leave. We took her advice.

I want to live with no regrets over how I spend my time.

Before we moved from Georgia to Virginia in 2008, I’d registered the boys for sports and we went to church the first week there. Each friendship we formed, we loved like we would have them forever. And some I know we will. Naturally, not all friendships last the distance, but many do.

We moved from Virginia to North Carolina after only 2 1/2 years. It felt longer. The friendships felt like we’d had them longer than a mere 2 years. To the point one of our dearest family friends has visited us every single summer since we left! Amazing.

I grieved after we moved to Charlotte in 2011. It took me weeks to get over having to start over again. But God. I have a lot of “but God” moments in my life.

God brought and multiplied friendships and relationships. He poured out blessings on them to the point of overflowing.

I have no regrets over how we spent our 6 years in North Carolina. Life has been full but not busy. The strange thing is that I feel different as we move into our 3rd relocation. I’m sad over what we are leaving behind, but I’m excited about what God will bring ahead. I know God better now than I did when we arrived. I trust Him more now than I did 6 years ago.

He desires that we abide in Him and live abundant life through Him. No matter where I am or who I’m with, I know my God is with me. I know He is faithful. I know He gives good gifts and delights for us to delight in Him. I know that when I pray for Him to surround us with godly friends, He will answer us in abundance.

When we found out we were moving to Omaha, I told Steve I wanted to leave well. I didn’t want to be so busy preparing to leave that we left no time for the people who made our lives here so full and rich. I’m normally one who will fill a calendar only so full being quite careful to leave plenty of margin. Busyness makes me crazy, and I’m not a good wife or mom when I run with little margin. As we make our exit, we are running with little margin in a good way. We are filling up the time with our people.

Each time we spend with friends in these final weeks, we can’t seem to let it be the last. So we end with a promise to try to squeeze in at least one more. With my girlfriends, we put on the calendar multiple dates. And in between those dates, we are squeezing in coffees, walks, lunches.

God is a relational God and has created us to be in relationship with Him and with others. Friends are a gift from God. Sometimes that gift must be left behind but parts of it will always stay with us. Friends grow and stretch us. They teach us and shape us. They comfort us and entertain us.

In our effort to make the most of the time we have left, we have decided to become hometown tourists while it’s still our home. Seeing the places we’ve not yet seen, visiting our favorites one last time. Soaking up all of it. Every last sip.

Our hearts are full of gratitude for the gifts of time and people. The best part is that the best of this world can’t even come close to comparing to what God has in store for His children in eternity. When I hug my dearest christian friends here in North Carolina, if I never see them again on this earth, I will see them again in eternity. And that is one reason it is worth it to live like you are staying forever. Because in a way, we are. Only better. In Heaven.

 

 

 

When God Leads You To A New Place

Someone asked me recently if I’d unfriended them because they haven’t received a post in their feed from me in so long. If you have wondered the same thing, let me assure you I haven’t removed you from my list. Our family has been in a bit of a whirlwind since the last post I wrote.

My husband’s job is taking us from North Carolina to Nebraska, and we are soon on the move again. This will be our third move since 2008. We are incredibly excited for this new adventure the Lord is taking us on.

Toward the end of January we knew we were moving. From the moment we received the green light, we’ve been in preparation and preparing mode. With supernatural speed, God has miraculously opened up doors only He could open in a span of time that has our heads spinning. We’ve known less than one month that we are leaving, and in that short span of time, we’ve prepared our house for the market, listed the house, sold the house, visited Omaha, placed a contract on a house, and here we are only weeks away from leaving.

In God’s kindness He prepared sweet gifts for me on the front and back end of this first phase whirlwind. A cruise before we came home to the storm of activity. And a retreat on the back end. One in which I spoke at and wondered initially what God was thinking having me speaking at a retreat in the process of preparing for a cross country move. Now I see His kindness in giving me time to rest in Him while experiencing the miracles He always performs at women’s retreats.

Weeks before we left on our cruise in January, I had a dream that we were on the cruise and found out Steve received a new job and we were moving. That was before I knew his new position was even open. As we approached vacation, and he began the process of interviewing for this new role, I knew he was getting the job because I knew God had shown me in my dream.

I believe God revealed that to me to give me the complete assurance and confidence that He was leading our family. When you know that God is opening doors, you can’t help but feel the excitement bubbling forth.

Within days of returning from our vacation, the flurry of activity began. Painting the house, purging, cleaning, rearranging, meeting with person after person. With each person along the process, God brought a gift of some sort. We began seeing God everywhere we turned.

In a span of two weeks, we had the house ready to list. The listing activated on a Friday. The same Friday Steve and I hopped on a plane to check out Omaha and search for our new home. Over the weekend, the house was shown 18 times. By the time I returned to North Carolina, we had multiple offers waiting. And we had found the house we wanted in Omaha. How like God.

On a Monday morning we signed contracts on the sell of our home and the purchase of another.

If I had planned for an entire year I couldn’t have put together the pieces the way God has. I couldn’t have worked out the timing with such perfection.

I’ve wondered if God has performed so many miracles to continue to give me peace in a transition of this magnitude. People have asked my husband how I feel about this move. His response is something along the lines, “Renee, would go to China if she knew God was leading us there.”

There is truth in that. When we see God’s faithfulness day in and day out, you begin to trust that no matter where He leads you, He won’t leave you. He is a good Father. He leads His people where He wants them and asks us to follow Him wherever that may be. No matter where I am, He is with me.

I pray constantly that God will lead my husband and trust that God leads me well through him. That He will give my husband wisdom and discernment. That He will use Him in mighty ways. And God is faithful. He does that. When God leads my husband, I desire to follow that leading.

Change can be both exciting and terrifying at the same time. Leaving the comfort and “safety” in what we know forces us to rely not on ourselves but on our Father. Our independence and self-sufficiency begin to decrease. Walking into unknown territory primes our hearts to hear from God in new ways. It sensitizes us to His voice if we allow our circumstances to soften us rather than harden us.

I will miss much about North Carolina. Our church, our friends, our ministries, the beach, the mountains. So much. But. I trust God. I trust in His goodness, His faithfulness, His kindness. He is doing a new thing in our family. It’s time to grow in new ways in Him. It’s time for new borders and territories. And I can’t wait to see what God will do.

One thing I’m most excited about is having more time to write when we move. I won’t have a social life or a women’s ministry to lead, so I’m guessing you will hear from me quite a bit more.

I would love your prayers for our family during this time. Our move is mid-March!