I’m sitting on Jaxon’s bed, and it is covered with knives, guns, throwing stars, and every other device of hunting, fishing, and general maiming of the animal kingdom. The bed is covered because Jaxon has been ordered to de-weaponize his room for pending houseguests, which include a one-year-old toddler with curious hands.
My mother-in-law went to Heaven last week and now I’m putting away throwing stars, listening to the Cowboys game in the other room, missing my Nana, and being so thankful to God who knows the intimate and unspeakable hurt that this kind of event leaves behind. He knows every word that’s in my head, He knows every tear that has fallen, and He knows the tears that have yet to fall.
God is so good in the midst of absolute hell. He is the One who does the special thing that you didn’t know you needed, but it was exactly what you needed. His faithfulness astounds me.
The next few days will be hard, no doubt. But without the Comforter, they would be unbearable.
Don’t let another moment pass without knowing Him.
Some sharks will take a little nibble and decide you don’t taste good and spit you out. Bull sharks will have a bite and then come back for more. Some sharks will circle you and test the water and sniff around to see if you smell good. Bull sharks will go straight for their prey and eat it without stopping for a sniff. Some sharks will only eat fish. Bull sharks will eat license plates.
Do you see where I’m going with this?
If you’ve read my blog much, you know I usually bring things back around to the subject of faith. And Shark Week has me all stirred up.
I don’t want to settle for anything less than what God has provided for me in His Word and through Jesus Christ. I don’t want to be held back by the cares of this world and the attacks of the devil. That doesn’t mean that things aren’t going to happen, because I know they are. I also know how to deal with them when they do. And when there’s something out there I want, I learned a few things from the bull shark.
Grab on, and don’t let go. Don’t quit. Don’t throw away the blessings that are all around you. If you don’t get it done on the first pass, hit ‘em again. And most importantly, stay in the game.
And if I can keep myself in the game, I know Almighty God is right there, backing me up.
If you’ve never seen Anjelah Johnson’s “Beautiful Nail” bit, then this won’t be nearly as effective. So you better watch it here: Nail Salon. Lynn and I have adopted lots of this into our daily dialogue. We are weird like that.
The other day we were talking about stuff in the natural that are not sin, they won’t keep you out of Heaven, they won’t make God mad at you, because nothing can do that, but they’re just not good for you. To stay away from those things is just, It’s better for you. It’s not a sin, but not doing it is better for you.
Smoking cigarettes… not sin but not healthy.
Abusing drugs or alcohol… not sin but not healthy.
Overeating… not sin but not healthy.
Not taking care of your body… not sin but not healthy.
I’m sure there are lots more examples, but those were the things we were talking about. Take spending time with God and in His Word. If we don’t take that time and consistently renew our minds (Romans 12:2), our lives suffer. We are still saved, we are still going to Heaven, but the victorious life we want to live will stay beyond our grasp.
I don’t want to live a non-victorious life. I don’t want to live outside the fence of the Promised Land. Now I know that storms come, they definitely have come to my life. But as I have said in this blog from the very beginning, God is faithful and His tender mercies are new every morning… in my life and in yours.
I’m endeavoring to live that victorious life. I’m choosing to do what’s better for me. I pray that you, my sweet friends and readers, are doing the same.
When I was a little girl, I was a bit of a tomboy and spent a lot of time outside. On nice days you could find me up a tree or walking through woods or wading through a creek. I also loved to dig holes. I really cannot imagine why and probably need therapy, but I dug holes. I remember digging down through the sandy soil, down to the hard clay level, and it would be cool. No matter how hot the topsoil was, that clay level was cool.
The things of God are like that. It takes time and dedication to get down to the cool level. The Bible says that the Word of God is life to those who find it, and health to all their flesh (Proverbs 4:22). That says to me that we have to find it. Finding something means you had it look for it, you had to pursue it.
Life is hard and the sandy topsoil level can be really bleak, but if we’ll dig into God’s Word and pursue His precious promises that are there for us, we’ll find relief.
We have some wonderful ministry friends, Pastor Jim and Ireta Willoughby, who I adore. They are a great family, and they are real people, my favorite kind of people. Ireta was a guest on Lindsay’s program (Make Your Day Count) a few days ago and she said something that stopped me cold. She said, “God doesn’t want you to carbon copy somebody else’s prayer; He wants to hear from your heart.”
Sometimes when I hear ministers give wordy and highfalutin prayers, I admit I get kind of irritated… maybe because somewhere inside me I feel a little less qualified. But in my heart, I know that God doesn’t care how fancy the words are, He just wants to hear from me. I also feel funny when I hear people talk about their prayer closets. I don’t have a prayer closet. I really can’t pinpoint a place where I do my praying. I guess the world is my prayer closet.
I pray in the car, I pray in the shower, I pray at work, I pray while I’m doing dishes. I pray when I need to, I pray when I want to. I just pray. And I think that’s the key. God wants to hear from us, anytime and all the time.
He wants to hear from us when we are in trouble or triumph, when the day is awesome and when it’s not. I know that I don’t like it when people only reach out to me when they need something. I imagine God doesn’t appreciate it either.
My friend Ireta reminded me that my Heavenly Father is my friend. He is tuned into my heart. He speaks my language. And He speaks yours too.
Lynn is a hard taskmaster. He’s recently found CrossFit and has been forcing this brutal regime on me. Just kidding. But I have been doing some exercises at home in the privacy of my living room.
Last night he told me I was going to do 100 squats. And I resisted the urge to slap him. But then he told me to just get 10 and rest, or just get 5 and rest. And then when I was really hurting, he said just get 3 and rest. And when I was at 70, I stopped and did my push-ups. 50 of those. And when I thought my arms were literally going to fall off, he said, “Now get the last 30 squats,” and I wanted to slap him again. But I started squatting and was shocked to discover that my legs had recovered a little and I was able to knock out 10 without too much agony. Then I took them 5 at a time until I reached my goal. I was exhausted and a little nauseated, yes, but I did it.
You see, the thought of doing 100 squats was pure insanity to me. There was no way to wrap my brain around it… until there was. And that’s how we have to approach a lot of tough situations in life. Problems may seem huge and insurmountable, but if we take a small step of faith, and then another, and then another, then we find ourselves moving steadily through the problem until one day, we look up and realize we are on the other side.
That’s how faith works.
We do not see the whole picture, we do not know how it’s all going to work out. But we have to do what we know to do, a step at a time, a day at a time, or sometimes even a moment at a time, all the while putting our trust in Him, our answer-giver, our way-maker, knowing that God works all things together for good to those that love Him and are the called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). That means He can use every drop of blood, sweat, and tears along the way to bring something beautiful out of our journey.
I have been writing this blog for about 2 ½ years. This is the 219th post. In the very beginning, I learned from WordPress that I should “tag” each post or categorize it so that when people search for a topic, my blog will show up in search engines. I did not know how to categorize my posts so I just began with the obvious ones: faith, Bible, Holy Spirit, encouragement, and real life. I have probably used a dozen or so different categories but those are the 5 that I have used the most. (As evidenced by my nifty screen shot.)
It was not at all on purpose, that’s just the way it came out, and that’s exactly what this blog is. It is encouragement in real life using my Bible, my faith, and the constant help of the Holy Spirit. And that is my journey; that is my life.
I’m a working wife and Mom. I drive an SUV in the suburbs to baseball games and the like. But it takes those same entities to make life work in New York City, Los Angeles, or Timbuktu. Those are the necessities of living this bumpy Christian life. And boy, does it get bumpy.
Whatever bumps you may be traversing tonight, take this with you: You are not alone, your situation is not hopeless, and God’s mercies are new every morning.
What a great week I’ve had in Branson. If you know me at all, you know I joke about being at a preacher convention and sitting in nonstop church until my tail hurts. I joke about wearing layers of makeup and using a half a can of hairspray. I lament the prices of food in the hotel and how all I really want is a pbj, not a $30 steak. Not that I don’t enjoy a good steak, but when you’re in a hotel for a week, you just want a piece of toast, or a bologna sandwich… Things from your own kitchen.
But this week was especially outstanding. I received so much good stuff from the sweet presence of God. I sat under anointed teaching and took notes until my hand hurt. I worshipped God with my hands in the air until my shoulders ached. I stood on hotel ballroom carpet in my bare feet, heels kicked off, basking in the Spirit of God until all hours of the night.
I drank gallons of coffee. I shook lots of hands and hugged lots of necks. I gave of myself and I received in kind. I made the most of it.
I didn’t have to do that. I could have slipped in and out unnoticed, I could have doodled and daydreamed my way through the meetings. I know all the tricks… I’ve had a lifetime of practice. But I wanted all that God was serving up. I wanted the biggest piece of cake with the most frosting. I wanted the coveted corner piece, and you can’t get that if you’re late to the party.
It may be a hassle or uncomfortable or a downright pain in the butt to get to the party, but if they’re serving up heart-lifting, soul-nurturing, life-sustaining cake, it is totally worth it.