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How to not miss seeing God

The religious leaders who spent a lifetime studying God didn’t recognize Him when He stood right in front of their faces before Christ would die for our sins.

The people who worshiped Him as God, didn’t recognize Him as their eternal King and the Son of God when they shouted “Hosanna!”

It’s easy to view with a critical eye in hindsight. With a backward view, we see the full picture to the place we stand in the present. We see all the pieces fitting together that brought Jesus to where He stood the week of His crucifixion.

Jesus didn’t come the way man expected. Jesus wasn’t the picture the people envisioned of the Messiah. They missed God because He didn’t meet their personal expectations.

Father, let me not miss seeing You because You appear in a way I’ve not envisioned. Guard my heart and give sight to my eyes.

How often do I attempt to define God’s ways? How often do I place expectations on Him? How often do I question circumstances that seem to move in the opposite direction I want them to go?

Some of the ones crying out for a king wanted immediate relief from Roman rule. They couldn’t see eternally because they were so focused on the harsh brutality they walked in. While I can’t begin to imagine walking in the shoes of the people who lived when Jesus walked the earth, I can relate in how easily I place my focus on the here and now rather than eternity.

When I watch my children hurting, I want to fix it right away. I want to take away the pain and make their worlds right.

Jesus loves us with a love so pure, so holy, and so unconditional.  

The heart of God is love. A love so enormous it would go to an extreme no human mind could conjure up. A love so magnificent it would come in a way that seemed ridiculous. A baby in a manger. A man riding a donkey into the people who would nail Him to a cross within days.

In our personal walks with the Lord, we become disheartened when we don’t see faster results to our prayers. We begin to wonder if our prayers are being heard.

And if we are completely honest with ourselves, at times we convince ourselves we are trusting God, but our souls know better. Buried deeper in our hearts than we want to go, whispered lies from the enemy have found a secret hiding spot. They live in the dark places so they are hard to identify. They whisper in a low tone so as not to draw attention to themselves. When they surface, they retreat faster than they arose.

One of our pastors preached a sermon saying he has learned to change his question from “God, why are you allowing this?” to “God, what are you up to?”

I love that perspective. That question is full of trust and curiosity. It’s from a position of knowing the character of God and surrendering to His Lordship.

Today, may we choose a deeper level of surrender than we’ve yet offered.

May we surrender to the love of our King.

May we allow the truth of who He is cleanse the infections attacking the affections of our hearts.

May we humbly confess that we’ve attempted to define an undefinable God. We’ve expected Him to do a certain thing or appear in a certain way. Therefore, maybe we’ve at times missed Him while looking for the “Him” we created or imagined.

May we receive new sight today to see truth in order to worship in spirit and in truth.

May we quietly reflect this Holy Week on who God is by the light of His Word.

Because He is the great I Am, I can simply be who He created me to be, abiding in Him as a child of the King.

Lord, give us a holy hunger for You. Today, we choose to lay down our own agendas and reach for Your hand. Today we walk with You, open to seeing You afresh. We open Your Holy Word today and ask You to speak to us through Your Holy Spirit. Amen


If you want to quietly reflect on the character of God, I invite you into a 14 day experience through

Illuminate – Seeing God by the Light of His Word.

audio devotional

It’s 10 minutes a day for 14 days.

If you are hungry for deeper intimacy with God, Illuminate is for you.

If you are tired of fear, anxiety, frustration, and pressures of life having their way in your heart, Illuminate is for you.

It’s Time To Take Back Ground – Are You With Me?

“What if what we need….is to go back to remembering who God is?”

The weight of that question laid over us like the blankets cocooning us against the howling Lake Michigan wind.

Huddled like teens away at camp, the questions from deep within bounced back and forth between us.

With tenderness we held the holiness of the ponderings leading us to the question we believe was God-breathed.

Who is God? Really? Not the version the world creates. Not who others tell us He is. But who He is as revealed by Him!

We know God. We walk with Him. But He is infinite and we forget. Or worse, we harbor lies deep in our souls that we don’t even know are there. Lies like God isn’t good all the time. Or I have to take care of myself because God might fail me. Or I need to prove myself because I have to earn God’s love.

There are so many lies that bury themselves inside our hearts without us even realizing it. That is until we find ourselves in a situation that requires complete and total trust in God. And we have to go back to remembering who He is.

When we focus there, everything begins to change.

What if the answer to our biggest challenges in life is found by one simple practice or discipline? Actually, I now believe it is.

Lord, You light my lamp;
my God illuminates my darkness.

With You I can attack a barrier,
and with my God I can leap over a wall.

Psalm 18:28-29, HCSB

 

You, Lord, keep my lamp burning;
    my God turns my darkness into light.
 With your help I can advance against a troop;
    with my God I can scale a wall.

Psalm 18:28-28, NIV

Friend, it’s time to take a stand. Time to take back ground the enemy has taken from you. No longer will you allow him to bully you. No longer will he use fear tactics, depression, anxiety, or diagnosis. No longer will he use your pain as a weapon against you. No longer will he use your illness against you. No longer will he use your insecurity.

Nope. He’s done. You know why? Because God is bigger.

It’s a simple truth we know but forget to live into. For too long we’ve allowed the devil to speak too loudly. Why do we listen to him? Have we forgotten he’s a liar?

The enemy tells us God’s not good.

God is good.

The enemy tells us God won’t catch us when we fall.

God tells us He will never leave or forsake us.

The enemy tells us to protect our hearts because no one is looking out for us.

God tells us He bottles up our tears.

The enemy tells us no one sees or understands.

God tells us He’s numbered the hairs on our head. And the stars he calls by name. Yeah, He sees alright.

Take that satan, you liar!

God has been showing me for a year it’s time to go on the offense.

Too often we wait to start fighting when the weight of the world feels it may crush us.

So God woke me early one morning, only a few short weeks after I sat huddled like a teenager with my friend at a writer’s retreat. He woke me with His Presence and His Words. His Holy Spirit began to pour out over me, and I experienced a time with Him like nothing I’ve ever experienced before. And now I finally get to share it all with you.

I have a few questions for you:

  • Do you find yourself facing problems, grief, difficult people or situations and feel it will swallow you right up?
  • Do you find yourself walking under the whispers of insecurity, doubt, guilt, shame, or fear? (You aren’t alone)
  • Do you feel distant from God?
  • Do you wonder how others hear from God and you don’t?
  • Do you simply need a heart renewal and revival?
  • Are you hungry for that which sustains?

You are not alone. It’s time to illuminate the darkness.

I have written and created a devotion just for you.

Illuminate – Seeing God by the Light of His Word is available for purchase here.

Here’s a post with all the questions you might have.

Or you can visit here for a video trailer and reviews.

 

 

 

 

 

How to solve impossible problems and situations

“I can’t do it. I’m so frustrated. I’m not good at this.”

“You can do it. Just take a deep breath.”

“Every time I try to solve it, I get it wrong.”

I can relate.

I sat on the edge of my son’s bed, peering over his shoulder at the math lesson on the screen.

He had worked and re-worked the problem only to come up with wrong answer after wrong answer.

I know the feeling. I bet you do too. How often have you faced a situation you have attempted to solve to no avail.  You begin to hear the taunting whispers that you’ll never get it, clothing your soul with fear and frustration.

I looked at the problem facing my son from a different viewpoint. I stood at the top of the hill looking down into the valley. I spotted the cleared trails and paths leading to the place he needed to go.

He stood down in that valley, right in the cluster of tall, tangled weeds. He couldn’t see the path because he was on the same level ground of the path he sought.

“Ok, listen. I see exactly what you need to do. I need you to start by taking a deep breath. Then take a step back. You need a new viewpoint.”

He shot a quick, questioning glance my way.

I watched his shoulders release the clutches of fear and frustration. I heard the held air leave his lungs.

“Ok, now step back. You need a wider view. Ask yourself this question – what is this problem asking me to do? You see, you are jumping to trying to solve, but you are missing the big picture. What is it even asking you to do from a big picture view? What is the logical path to get there?”

When I realized I had his attention, I continued.

“It’s actually easier than you realize. You approached it with a negative attitude, assuming the problem was out to get you and you would never get it right. But if you approach with a different attitude and a broader mindset, you might be surprised to find the answer was right in front of you the entire time.”

I tossed out a question. He answered. I tossed another. He answered. Each question served as the stakes tossed to mark his trail.

He arrived at the answer with no fighting or clawing. It was there in all its simple glory.

The next day a similar problem awaited him. It was the same type of problem, only it was asked with a slight variation. I watched as he began to march into the tangled weeds. It’s the way most familiar to him. He called out to me. I stood by his side.

“Remember, take that wide angle view. Switch lenses. Step back.”

He followed my guidance. I watched him climb out of the choking weeds and make his way to to the top of the hill.

I never said another word. I simply reminded him to choose the right view first.

He solved the problem.

For the next several days, I watched him reminded of the days he took his first tottering steps, unsure of his newfound skill. I remember those steps clearly. With each step, his smile grew. He’d glance back for reassurance. I’d smile back. You can do it, my smile prompted him. I’m right here to catch you when you fall.

Don’t fear the fall. I’ll help you up. Each fall brings you one step closer to your next steady step. I love you. I love you. I love you.

After a few days of my son calling out to me to guide him through these types of math problems, he realized he actually could do it. It took practice. Each one became easier. The answer was always right in front of him. He only needed to look through a wide angle lens rather than a zoom lens.

“Mom, can you come here. I think I need help.”

“I think you’ve got it, buddy.”

He got to work. I watched him take it step by step.

“It’s weird. Sometimes you don’t even need to say anything, but just your presence helps me. I wish I could do all my math problems with you by my side. I feel like I’d get them all right.”

His words hit my soul in the most healing of ways. God’s Presence is my good. His Presence is sometimes the only thing I need.

But as for me, God’s presence is my good.
I have made the Lord God my refuge,
so I can tell about all You do.

Psalm 73:28

When we stand in our impossible problems, we forget God stands high above us, yet right beside us at the same time. He has the wider view.

To solve my impossible situations and problems, I simply need to call out to Him. I need to seek Him. Sometimes He will guide me step by step and show me paths I couldn’t see on my own. But sometimes His Presence is the only thing I truly need. I just need the reminder that He sees me, He loves me, He is for me not against me. He is my everything.

He calmly caresses my back as He whispers, “Daughter, I’m here. I’m your refuge. All you need is me. I’ll guide you. I’ll care for you. When you fall on the path, don’t be afraid of the fall. I’ll be here to lift you up. I’ll wipe the dirt from your knees. I’ll bandage your wounds. Let me care for you, for I’m tender and gentle. Let your tears fall. I collect them in a bottle. I have numbered the very hairs on your head. You are my great treasure. Just seek my Presence, and together we will walk.”

 

 

 

 

What Role Do We Play After We Pray?

 

To listen to the audio version of today’s post, click this link.

 So they broke camp to cross the Jordan River. The priests who carried the ark of the promise went ahead of the people. (The Jordan overflows all its banks during the harvest season.) When the priests who were carrying the ark came to the edge of the Jordan River and set foot in the water, the water stopped flowing from upstream. The water rose up like a dam as far away as the city of Adam near Zarethan. The water flowing down toward the Sea of the Plains (the Dead Sea) was completely cut off. Then the people crossed from the east side of the Jordan River directly opposite Jericho. The priests who carried the ark of the Lord’s promise stood firmly on dry ground in the middle of the Jordan until the whole nation of Israel had crossed the Jordan River on dry ground.

Joshua 3:14-17

Trusting in God means we lay our requests at his feet before moving. Then we get up and take the next step, then the next, then the next. We take those steps no matter the obstacle we see in front of us. No matter the terrifying terrain ahead. We move expecting that as we move with God, God will move before us.

Each time our family has relocated to a new state, we’ve learned to trust God in a deeper way. We’ve learned that He is completely faithful. Each move God has showered us with rich relationships. Of course He would. God is relational. He created us to be first in relationship with Him, second with others. His desire is to be glorified in and through our relationships with His people.

Because of this, one of our top prayer requests since moving a year ago revolved around friendships.

I think sometimes we pray for situations then we simply sit back not realizing we might need to take an active role. Over time we see nothing happening and we become frustrated or disillusioned. We believe the lie that God doesn’t hear us.

We desire the miracle, yet we don’t always fully trust the Miracle Maker.

One of our greatest privileges as parents is to cultivate a wonder for the God of miracles in the hearts of our children. If my children develop an attitude of God as a far off God in the sky who may or may not listen when we speak, that will be a tragedy.

I delight with each opportunity to point the hearts of my children to their Creator. To teach them to watch and wait with excited expectation just how He will respond. And He will respond.

Sometimes to see God’s answers requires active participation. God created humans, not robots and puppets.

God invites us into His great big story. We have a choice in how we will play our role.

At some point a few months into new life in Nebraska, a friend invited me to a meeting about a homeschool group for teens wanting to serve the community. I showed up late to the meeting and quietly slipped into a seat in the back of the room.

I listened with interest but quickly discovered the dates wouldn’t work with our other homeschool group commitments.

I knew God had me at that meeting for a reason.

A woman sat in that meeting with her three boys. They looked about the same ages as my boys, who were not with me at the time. They seemed to be respectful and kind boys. I noticed they actually listened during the meeting rather than distract themselves in the world of phones. I wanted to meet this family.

As the meeting drew to a close, I wrote my phone number on a slip of paper and stalked the woman to her car.

She might have thought I was crazy, but the way I looked at the situation is like this – I’ve been praying for friends for my boys and here might be some. Now is my opportunity to actively participate with God.

I caught up with this woman in the parking lot, told her we had just moved to Nebraska, were fairly new to homeschooling, and we’d love to have their family over.

Then she and I actually followed up with each other. We invited them over. They came. Then another outing and another. Fast forward many months and this family, and these boys, have become friendships we absolutely treasure.

This is what I want my boys to see. God is a God of abundance. He does nothing on a small scale. Everything He does is miraculous and other-worldly. We can expect with 100% confidence that when we ask according to His will, He will respond with a resounding YES.

Now this is the confidence we have before Him: Whenever we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.  And if we know that He hears whatever we ask, we know that we have what we have asked Him for.”

1 John 5:14-15

When we asked for rich friendships, we already knew God said yes. The exciting part is waiting and watching as His yes after yes unfolds.

The day I met my new friend, I came home elated. Not because I knew I had a new friend (though this was exciting to be sure) but because I had just tasted the Lord’s goodness in the land of the living.

“I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.”

Psalm 27:13

Nothing lights my fire like seeing God at work. Nothing.

When my faith fire dwindles, all I need to do is blow on that flickering flame with my whispered request. He answers by setting that fire ablaze all over again. Those sparks spread to my family.

I view my primary role as mom to be teaching my children to know God truly. Not the version the world has created, but the actual One True God. The only God. Yahweh.

The way to know Him is through His Word. First and foremost. The Word is first a story of who God is. Once we meet Him there, it’s easy to see Him everywhere in our world.

And so on a Friday night, a year into moving across the country, Steve and I sat on the sofas of our family room. I curled with a book listening with contented peace to the loud ruckus in the basement as 6 boys played ping pong, basketball, wrestled, ate pizza and brownies, and ended their night with a movie.

I marveled at the graciousness of God.

When God, with supernatural speed, brought us a buyer on our North Carolina home, He blessed us with a home in Nebraska with a basement of our dreams that we knew exactly what to do with. That basement and this home would be a place to invite people in as often as they would say yes. To fill it with love and laughter, gifts from our Father. To have a home to graciously and generously show the love of the Father.

The key in parenting is connecting the dots of God for our kids until they learn to do this on their own. Actively participating with God is drawing it out for them until they learn to connect their own dots.

“Boys, remember how we prayed and have continued to pray for friends? Well, think back to how we met this family to begin with. We prayed, but then we had to take a step. We had to place ourselves in places where we’d want to meet friends. And then when we noticed people the Lord was divinely bringing our way, we had to step again.”

I explained to the boys that the day I followed my friend to her car, I could have simply left the meeting that day, never crossing paths with her again. I wouldn’t know what I had missed. It makes me never want to miss an opportunity the Lord puts in front of me.

He answered my prayers for friends by nudging me to the meeting, bringing our families together, but it took a step only I could take to bring it to fruition. How cool is God?

This is what I desire my kids know. God is real. He is alive and active. He inclines His ear toward us. He desires to pour out His blessings.

If only the whole world knew the God He really is. I can’t change the world, but I can influence the very ones He has placed in my life. For as long as I have breath, I will proclaim His goodness.

“Praise the LORD, my soul, and forget not all his benefits–“

Psalm 103:2

I have created a tool to help our souls forget not all His benefits. Illuminate – Seeing God by the Light of His Word releases soon. You can find more information here including a video trailer. Illuminate is for us all. Women, men, and parents who desire to remember who the Lord is. It’s to encourage us to create the discipline of keeping our eyes fixed on who God is. Practicing the art of remembrance.

In our home, we’ve used this as a time of family devotion. Gathering in the family room and listening together. Continuing the conversation throughout the week.

It’s 14 days that I believe will change your life. It’s changed mine because it’s gotten me into His Word to seek out His character as revealed by Him.

“Renee Robinson has used her gifts to bring us one – a 14 day primer for anyone desiring to go deeper as a disciple of Jesus Christ. Unwrap it and be blessed.”

–Tara McClary Reeves, speaker and author of Is Your Dad a Pirate and Point Me to Jesus.

 

 

 

7 Symptoms of a Distracted Life and How To Break Free

“Mom! What are you doing? This isn’t a road!!!”

“Oh my goodness! What have I done??”

I hit the brakes hard darting my eyes swiftly to see how many people were watching me at this most embarrassing moment. Leaving a soccer game many years ago when my boys were still in booster seats and car seats, I’d taken a right instead of a left. A left led to the main road. A right led onto a walking trail. Through the woods where cars don’t fit. A walking trail wide enough for walkers and runners, not minivans in need of turning around.

One would think I might have noticed something as branches scratched and banged against my car. But no, it took the shriek of my ever-cautious first born to bring me back to attention.

I was on the wrong path and needed to get out quick. I needed to get back to the place I’d started.

I find myself facing these situations in life. Most of us can relate. We find ourselves disciplined, living purposefully in a particular area. Over the course of time, we let a thing or two go. Then another. Slowly, we find ourselves slightly off course.

At times we don’t veer too far off course, and it takes only slight adjustments to make our way back. At others we feel near lost, and it takes great effort to find the path we should be on.

The encouragement is that it is never too late to start again. Often it takes reflecting on the beginning of something. Remembering where we once started, our hopes and dreams for that thing, and where we’ve missed the mark.

Do the thing you did at first.

Revelation 2:5 “Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.

While this verse is to the church, it applies to our spiritual lives as well. When we start out on our spiritual walk with the Lord, we walk with intention, closely following His direction. But over time we listen a little less to Him and a little more to the world. And if we spend a good deal of time on the internet, especially social media, we will surely hear the world louder than we hear His voice.

I try to remind myself in these seasons to do the thing I did at first.

What was/is our vision for our family. What did we do at first to accomplish this that we aren’t currently doing? How can we make small adjustments and get back on course?

“Mom, can you stop bouncing your leg? It’s making it hard for me to read.”

“Hmm? Oh, yeah sure,” I replied bringing my attention back to him.

Teaching a struggling reader to read requires stillness and patience. And total presence.

My far-off thoughts and nervously bouncing leg brought to my attention something I’d been attempting to ignore in my soul. I’ve been living distracted on the inside.

While I may be physically present with my family, my mind and soul can be far away. Symptoms begin to present themselves to me hinting that something is wrong. I can ignore them to a point, but eventually I must make a choice.

7 Symptoms of the distracted life:

1- Irritability – little things begin to annoy me. Normal childhood and adolescent interruptions bring out frustration in me rather than compassion, understanding, or a sensitivity to work through them.

2-Impatience- My mind races and jumps from one thing to the next. Therefore, when things don’t flow according to my expectations, I’m quick to react with impatience. The words “hurry up” and “come on” seem to be the most frequently used. As my kids tell stories I find my mind telling them to hurry up.

3- Anxiety – Everything begins to feel like a worry or concern. Settling into sleep is difficult. Waking in the night becomes common. A running to do list is ever present.

4- Loss of train of thought – Lists are everywhere because I find myself mentally incapable of keeping track in my mind. I’m relying on my smartphone for everything. Reminders, lists, schedules. I find myself forgetting what I started to do.

5 – Fatigue, exhaustion – I lack energy to do the things that once brought joy. All I want is sleep or escape.

6 – Procrastination- I find myself putting off even simple tasks. Daily duties mount creating more anxiety.

7 – Constant reach for the phone- And because it all feels too much, or I’m too grumpy, I reach for my phone every few minutes. Just a quick scan of newsfeeds. A quick check on what I might be missing. And this begins the cycle all over again.

Break free in order to live free.

I tell my boys a key to growing in wisdom is to know yourself well. Know God intimately, and know yourself. I need to know my weaknesses, my temptations, my inclinations.

The 7 symptoms above I don’t need a doctor to diagnose for me. I have a Great Physician and a Helper. If I seek Him, He promises to be found. If I desire truth, I will find it. And if I want to truly deny myself, take up my cross, and follow Him, then I must do something different than the world.

For me this often looks like removing myself from social media completely for a time. Honestly, I would love to leave it completely most of the time. I’ve noticed that social media creates cynicism in me. The constant opinions wear me down. The lack of reverence for God in our culture disgusts me. It causes me to lose my love for people.

Matthew 22:36-40

“Teacher, which command in the law is the greatest?”

He said to him, Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important command. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.”

If the greatest command is to love the Lord and the 2nd is to love others, then I should pay attention to the things that make me love people less.

When I see the opinions and beliefs of people, I see causes and issues rather than the person. Jesus always looked to the person first. The lifestyle of the person that was in opposition to God changed AFTER Jesus looked into their hearts, showed them love for them, and revealed the truth.

Our culture twists love attempting to separate truth and love. Culture tries to make everything “ok” by holding the love banner. Jesus didn’t do that. He spoke truth always, yet He showed love at the same time.

Jesus met people where they were, but when they truly encountered the Messiah, they didn’t stay where they were. The love He had for them was so other-worldly that following Him took the place of their once sin-filled life.

The love of Jesus compels me to love in a way that makes no sense. And when I find myself lacking love on the inside, something must change. Because God is love.

Our family has practiced the discipline of screen fasts for many years. When we started taking electronics fasts, it was directed by my husband and me. We simply set a family fast for a week, a month, or however long the Lord led. By instilling this practice in our home with joy, our children now recognize in their own souls when a fast is in order.

At this stage, our children direct the course of their own fasts. They are learning to lean on the Lord rather than us. They are learning to listen to their own souls and tune into the whisper of the Holy Spirit.

Often one of us will begin a screen fast and it encourages another family member to do the same. Then another. It contagiously spreads, and the entire family benefits from it.

Our screen fasts have been accepted with joy because we’ve always made a practice of replacing what we remove with something even better. In the case of a screen fast, we remove what is a poor substitute for life and replace it with the real thing. It’s like taking a diet that has consisted of chips and soda and replacing with a banquet of juicy steaks, colorful vegetables, juicy fruits, and desserts of every kind. It’s feasting on what we didn’t even realize had been missing and wondering why it took us so long to find true nourishment.

Here are a couple of posts I’ve written on taking a break from screens.

5 Benefits of Electronics Fast

Why Shutting Off Electronics Is Good

Taking a screen fast as a family requires a little planning and intention, but I promise you it will return more to your family than you can imagine.

The family comes together again as family. We work together and we play together. Dinner prep is done together, chores we all do. After dinner we all clean and then play. We read aloud together, have family devotions, play games. Sometimes we simply sit on the sofas together with no agenda at all. Just like in the “old days” as my boys say. We sit and have nothing at all planned. We allow space and time for conversation to form and move naturally.

I’ve realized how much families are missing out on simply sitting together and talking. Face to face. No screens, no dings, no distractions, no lectures, no to-do lists. Just time together.

This post went longer than I expected. It happens when I write on screen topics. I’m passionate about the family and this is an area I feel the enemy uses against families everywhere.

When my husband recently decided to take a social media break, I decided to follow. At first I felt it was impossible considering I write online. My audience is on the internet. But as I prayed, I could sense God telling me to simply trust Him.

I worry about offending people. Will they wonder why I’m not “liking” their posts anymore? Will they think I’m mad at them? Should I announce a social media fast? (John Crist had a hilarious tweet about this)

All of these worries I can’t really concern myself with. I can only hope that friends don’t take offense. But that can’t be my primary concern.

My family is my first ministry. They deserve my absolute best. My soul is showing me I need a break. And since removing myself from social media I’ve noticed a drastic difference in our home and in my own heart.

I’m truly present with my kids. I’m not thinking about sharing any moment in our home with the social media world. The moments feel more sacred now. I’m more patient, less easily frustrated. I’m laughing more with my kids. My daily duties bring me delight again. The clock is less bossy now. My heart rate has slowed. My thoughts are clear. I can keep track in my own head rather than 20 different lists. I see the eyes of my kids. Truly see them. I hear God’s voice clearer. My love for humanity is returning because I’m not listening to the news and the issues at war against each other.

Is it possible to live in this state forever? I don’t know. I’m learning to quit trying to figure out the future and simply live in step with the Lord one day at a time.

If you enjoyed today’s post, I’d love to have you join our community of readers by clicking here. I post once a weekish. The post will quietly slip into your inbox, and you can read at your convenience. I record many of my posts on Soundcloud.  Often these links will be included in the post.

I write on topics of faith and family. My main goal in writing on the internet is to encourage and inspire you and your family to see God in all of life and follow Him wholeheartedly. I sometimes write on cultural topics as well.

If you are new here, welcome! If you know of friends who would enjoy the posts I write, I’d love for you to share with them!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do You Fear or Trust When the Road is Scary?

“Guys, start praying. Now!”

Though my husband said these words, I’m confident each of us in that car prayed vehemently on our own before he uttered a word. The situation wasn’t one that left an option other than to pray for God’s hand of protection and guidance.

The silence in the car was loud.

I broke the silence as I prayed out loud. Steve’s hands gripped the steering wheel as he focused on driving our car out of the Rocky Mountains of Colorado through a snow storm that left the roads a sheet of ice covered by snow.

Our van slipped along the road, desperately seeking traction and finding none. Steve’s parents were ahead of us.

At one point we began the ascent uphill and our car slowed to a crawl of no more than 7 mph. Our prayers intensified as we asked God for an army of angels to get us up the hill, to push the van, to not let us come to a stop as we knew once we stopped moving we were done.

We asked for barriers of protection around our cars, to make us untouchable.

The GPS showed 47 more miles of mountainous, snowy, icy terrain.

The silence breaking in between times of out-loud prayer became deafening. My hands drenched the seat I clutched. Then the Lord brought His Word back to me. The portion of scripture I read that very morning during my quiet time before we left our ski vacation headed for home. The verse that hangs above my son’s bed. A verse that calls me to remember – to remember who God says He is.

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

My breathing began to slow. My grip loosened on the van seat. I began to instruct my heart and mind with truth. He is here. He is on this mountain with me. He is with me wherever I go. He sees what I can’t see. He tells me not to be afraid. I have the God of the universe with me.

I began to remember.

I remembered who He is. I remembered what He has done. I remembered what He promises. And I remembered the armor He instructs me to put on. I remember reading in Beth Moore’s book Praying God’s Word how she quoted Francis Frangipane in The Three Battlegrounds as saying that our peace is a secret weapon against the devil.

Peace in the face of fear tells the devil he can’t bully us. We are rooted and grounded by the very Word of God, we can’t be shaken because God can’t be shaken.

I remembered that I don’t have to become a victim of my circumstances. I have a choice to rise above the fear.

For 50 miles we prayed. We never stopped. The car was complete silence other than times of praying out loud.

All of the sudden the roads turned from complete ice to wet slush. Our vision ahead became clearer. The falling snow decreased in intensity. We became more confident in our car’s ability to deliver us safely, knowing completely it is the Lord who truly delivers us no matter the circumstance.

A road sign just ahead flashed a message. A message so startling I raced for my camera unable to capture it in time. The neon road sign read “Warning – Bright Sunshine Ahead.”

And just like that the sun shone with all its glory. The roads boasted in their dryness. Every single thing looked 100% different in a split second.

What if I always kept in mind that the road ahead always has bright sunshine when we are led by God?

Life shifts in microseconds.

One minute you are praying for your life in a snow storm, the next you are standing in the sun. One minute you are in the dry land, the next you are covered by the clouds.

If I knew at the beginning of our dangerous journey that within an hour, the shining sun would be the biggest threat, maybe I would have breathed a little easier?

The fact is God guides us for the steps we will take but we can’t see too far ahead. It’s a practice of faith, a discipline of trusting in Him when we can’t see where we are going.

We were never promised this life would be easy or look the way we want. What we are promised is that we have a God who goes with us wherever we go. And on the day we stand with Him in eternity, that is the moment that we will know it was all worth it.

An hour and a half later, we pulled in McDonald’s to meet up with Steve’s parents. Each of us in our own personal state of shock. Each knowing it was the hand of God alone that delivered us.

On the drive later that day, Andrew said, “You know how I got through that drive? I just tried to do like Peter when he walked on the water. I just imagined I was looking into Jesus’ eyes and kept looking there.”

Beautiful.

He is here. With us. We know this, but in the heat of the moment, we forget.

May we practice the art of remembrance. Remembering who God is as revealed through His Word. This is the theme of my heart these days. I shared with you a couple of weeks ago that I’m working on a new audio devotion titled Illuminate – Seeing God by the light of His Word. A 14 day devotion intended for us to journey together closer to the very heart of the truth of who God is.

We know Him, yet we forget on a daily basis who He really is. In order to strengthen us in the battle of life, we will practice remembering together.

Illuminate is almost ready for you and I absolutely can’t wait! Stay tuned this week as I share details about release dates and what you can expect. Be sure to share with your friends so they can be on the lookout. Illuminate will be released here on the blog, but you must sign up for email updates so you don’t miss it.

audio devotional

 

Do You Worry or Ask God?

 

 

Periodically, I take a break from social media. My soul knows well when a fast is in need. My mind becomes more scattered. My heart races. I find myself reaching for the phone every few minutes. When there is a lull for even 20 seconds, I fill it by scrolling.

My thoughts change. Seeing so much of the lives of others creates in my heart dangerous ground if I’m not careful in my navigation. I become wearied of the opinions of people. Cynicism creeps in. Pride grows, love decreases.

I love the online world, but in order to walk it well, I find it necessary to remove myself at times to allow for a reset. I never plan for these breaks. It usually is a snap decision in a moment.

The timing of my recent break couldn’t have been better. Days after I began my social media fast, our family left for our first ever road trip. 2300 hundred miles round trip in a rented RV. We traveled from Omaha to Badlands National Park in South Dakota. From there we headed to Custer State Park in South Dakota on to Grand Teton and Yellowstone.

Without a doubt, this trip was the best trip of our lives. It wasn’t restful. We stayed on the go with three active boys. But the memories will last the rest of my life.

Since returning I’ve pondered what made that trip so amazing. Experiencing the wonder of God’s creation? Seeing God in science and history? The ages of our kids perhaps? The timing with our recent move away from friends and family leading us to draw closer and tighter as a family? A little of it all?

I think each of us has a different list of reasons this trip ranks number 1. But what stands out to me most is the great adventure we took together. We journeyed far from our comfort zones, which meant we had to rely on God.

That might sound silly since I am talking about a vacation. But stay with me.

When we moved to Nebraska, we realized that annual beach vacations were to be no more. For the last 17 years, we’ve been to the beach at least once a year, sometimes more. My entire life I’ve taken for granted living near the coast. Living in the middle of America requires a different kind of vacation.

We’ve longed for the days our boys were old enough to take adventurous vacations. Skiing out west, exploring national parks, extended road trips.

This was the year. Our boys are 13, 12, and 8. The ages couldn’t have been more ripe.

I see the spiritual in all of my life. I believe all of life is spiritual. We live in the physical and forget the physical is a manifestation of the spiritual. When I began planning this trip, the anxiety began. It was a big trip. To go as far as we planned to go, to spend as much money as would be spent, I began to feel the pressure to get it all right. To make it perfect in every way.

Living for perfection opens the door to an anxious mind. I began to stress over every possible angle of this trip. What if the RV broke down? What if we got lost in the middle of nowhere. What if we slid off a cliff? What if we were attacked by a bear? What if we didn’t know how to operate the RV and ran the wrong gas source and never woke up? What if. What if. What if.

I began to dread the trip because the entire thing was full of unknowns to me. We’ve never camped more than a night or two. Now we would camp for 8 days straight.

My social media fast came at the right time for two reasons. I was fully present with my family. And my mind was free from clutter and distraction giving me space to hear, see, and feel God.

I’m a planner and rarely deviate from a plan once it is set. Day 3 plan was to leave Custer, SD and stay overnight in Thermopolis, WY before heading to Yellowstone. For some reason, days before our trip I began to question if that was a waste of a night. Should we have tried to squeeze in Grand Teton? I discarded the thought because it was too late to come up with a new plan. To plot a new route, plan new activities was too much given all it took to get out of town for a week.

However, Day 3 of the trip arrived. We sat around the campfire, and I announced to my family that I had a rather crazy, wild idea. “What if we take a different route into Yellowstone through Grand Teton?” Secretly, I hoped they would tell me I was crazy and I could leave it alone. But instead, they all said they were open to anything.

One thing we are not is spontaneous. We are planners. And planners dangerously rely on themselves more than God at times. I had this trip carefully planned. I needed God for protection, but I didn’t need Him to provide because I had planned it all out.

Suddenly, I found myself in a situation where I had spotty internet, which meant I couldn’t research and plan. It was almost time for bed and no time to plan.

The family decided Grand Teton was the new route. I called the campgrounds and every RV site was filled. The lady suggested we try to get there early for a first come first served dry site. But those fill by noon typically and we wouldn’t arrive until much later. My family was at total peace with no plan in sight. I was not.

I woke in the middle of the night in complete panic. What had I done? Why did I open my mouth? What if we drove 8 hours and had nowhere to park and sleep safely? Why is everyone else sleeping peacefully and I’m the only one awake worrying about how we will pull this off? Maybe when they wake up I suggest we scratch my ridiculous idea and stick to the plan, which is safe and comfortable.

Then God spoke. “Stop worrying and ask me.”

In that instant my heartbeat slowed. I took a deep breath. I realized I wasn’t debating a moral issue in my head. This wasn’t a situation of deciding if it was God’s will or not. This is a route on a vacation. I’m limiting God by acting like there is only one good choice and it all hinges on me to choose the right path.

This is God’s creation we want to explore. We want to see His glory. We want to experience Him. Satan wants me to agonize, fret, wring my hands and choose comfort and safety. Because in comfort and safety I will miss seeing God magnified when He breaks through.

So that moment, I took another breath and simply prayed, “God, we want to see your creation in Jackson, WY. Would you please save us one RV electric hook up site?” I fell asleep.

The next morning we awoke before dawn, unhooked, and hit the road with no reserved site. My cell service was unreliable and internet access would come and go for brief moments. I hopped online as soon as I had a signal, found the park’s info and read that campsite reservations typically fill by January for the summer season. Of course, I’d already called and been told nothing was available. But I prayed and trusted God would provide what we needed.

My internet went out again. I kept praying. Internet came back on so I hopped back on, went to the online reservations, and again saw the only thing available were tent cabins. As I stared at the screen, right before my very eyes, the screen popped up a new reservation opening. One RV hookup site. I frantically typed in all my info, received the confirmation, and within seconds lost access to the internet for almost the entire remainder of the trip.

He had saved us one RV site like we’d asked.

We arrived to Grand Teton NP after hours and found our name on the corkboard. Reserved for Renee Robinson. And I smiled. Thanked God who is intimate, personal, and adventurous. He is amazing and fun, and why for the love of all things do I forget to have fun with Him? Why don’t I allow Him into every aspect of my day and life?

I felt His Presence as dusk cast its glow on the campground corkboard.

You know what my very favorite day was out of 8 days across 2300 hundred miles? It was that day. That day which was not planned by me. The day that we gave to God to guide and provide. The day we surrendered to Him was full of spontaneous adventure. We were excited and alive. We experienced Him so tangibly in such a fun way.

When we arrived in Jackson, we went at a friend’s request to the ski resort. We took the tram to the top of the mountain. Ate waffles and gloried at His glory. We hiked down a mountain and marveled at the sights. We stopped, took a million pictures, breathed in all He had for us in those moments. After a couple of miles hiking down the mountain, we hopped on the gondola and rode down the mountain.

We made our way to our newly reserved by God campsite. We hooked up and had a safe place to sleep. We walked by the lake and stood in awe at what His hands made. We ate pizza at the campground restaurant. We laughed, we played, but mostly we spoke in awe of our God who cares and provides not only in the moments of life that we truly need Him for survival, but even in the fun and light moments of life.

We realized He is in those too. God is fun. He created laughter. He delighted in watching us race to explore His creation giving Him glory.

We didn’t fail to thank Him throughout that day. And I haven’t stopped thanking Him since because since God healed my stomach ulcer, I’ve watched Him guiding me more to enjoy Him. To laugh. To rest. To have fun. Life isn’t all serious. He is the God of it all. The serious and the light. The planned and the spontaneous.

And for the rest of my life, I will hold dear to me the sweetness of that day watching God work so that our family could marvel at Him while laughing and feeling wild and free. No plans needed because we have a great big God who holds the world in His hands.