Forward Friday: One Word 2018

December has been a whirlwind, y’all! A good whirlwind, though. I spent less time on social media and more time with friends and family face-to-face. How about you? In fact, lately, I’ve been thinking about the time I spend. Time on social media. Time with my laptop. Time with family. Friends. Time with Jesus. 

Some days I feel the quantity but not the quality. 

I’ve been praying a lot about what God might have me place my focus on this year. It’s going to be another whirlwind–it’s true that the older you become, the faster time seems to pass. I have three books and one (maybe two) novellas releasing this new year. My daughter will be home for one summer before she truly will live somewhere else. My son is entering high school. Things are stirring in other personal areas, in my church. So, Lord, what should my focus be?

I learned several years ago, that resolutions don’t work for me. I give up. Of course, I set goals. I think it’s important to do that. But the ONE WORD or PHRASE for the year keeps me focused.

These past few months, the Lord has really pressed a word on my heart. It whispers through my lips in prayer. A friend ordered me a book and journal with the word and topic for Christmas, not knowing this word has been burning through me. 

AWAKE. I have to admit there are areas where I’ve been asleep, spiritually sluggish. Exhausted to the point of not being able to rouse myself. And the Lord in His tenderness has brought this to my attention and given me a good shake.

What exactly does AWAKE mean? What will this look like in my life? 

I want to be awake mentally, emotionally, spiritually, physically. I want to SEE all that God has for me and be growing daily. I want to heed what the Lord says and be on guard for distraction and temptation so I can bypass it! I want to be observant like Joseph when he noticed the countenance of the butler and the baker and saw they were upset (you know at one time he wouldn’t have noticed that). 

I want to be AWAKENED. Breathing in God and breathing Him out. 

So each week I’m going to unpack some verses that will help us all awaken, help us all grow and meditate on His word and what it means. I hope you’ll join me, share with your friends, and this year, be awake with me! 

What say you? Are you in?

Forward Challenge: Be awake in all things. Be present. Be observant for what God is doing. Be heedful and obey. 

Forward Scripture: “The angel of God came back, shook him awake again, and said, “Get up…—you’ve got a long journey ahead of you.” 1 Kings 19:7 MSG

Forward Prayer: Awaken us, Lord. In every area where we’ve been dozing or full-on snoozing. Waken us to Your heartbeat. Your calling. Your Word. Breathe into us and make us live again. No more dry bones. Only life and life more abundantly, in Jesus name. Amen.

Do you have a New Year’s resolution, goal, one word or phrase, or a particular scripture for the new year? I’d love to hear it. 

Happy New Year, Friends!

Forward Friday: Sheltered From Fear

The morning was overcast, but beautiful. The leaves were golden, crimson, burnt orange. Glorious. The weather was crisp but not cold and I spent the better part of it outside with my earbud in and worship music playing. Intimate worship–my favorite. Just me, the Creator of heaven and earth and ground to eat up as I walked and prayed and praised.

It started to rain (just a sprinkle but it was cold!) and I came inside and opened the curtains to our glass doors so I could view the pond and woods. One of the random cats in our neighborhood likes to roam around that pond, fishing I guess. Who knows! As long as he eats things I don’t want in my house, I’m happy and he can hang out as long as he’d like.

I was listening to Dara McLean’s song:  Find Rest  (so powerful, give it a listen!)  

The cat was strolling the bank, pausing, dipping his paw into the water then moseying on. I was worshiping inside. 

And all of a sudden, out of nowhere, the cat spring into action and high-tailed it across the property. So. Fast. 

Something had startled him, frightened him. Threatened him–could have been a snake! He bolted.

That blur of white beelined it straight into our barn. At first, I thought maybe he was sick of getting wet. But the way he ran–the way it hit him out of nowhere…couldn’t be. It was barely sprinkling at this point.

He was afraid of something.

Ugly Cat (mean name but I can’t help it. He’s not an attractive cat!) raced right into the barn. But he never would have found shelter from his fears if the doors hadn’t been open. But they were.  

He found safety inside.

You and I have fears. Sometimes they hit us out of nowhere. Sometimes we see them creeping up on us day by day. Minute by minute.

It’s a loved one making choices that are going to affect them in horrific ways.

It’s the disturbing news.

The bad report from the doctor.

It’s a threat.

Circumstances.

Finances.

Loss of insurance.

Loneliness.

You fill in the blank.

But like that cat, we can run to safety. We can find shelter in the arms of our God. They are always open to us. Always a safe place to run. Always trustworthy.

Oh, but we run in so many other directions, don’t we? We run aimlessly which is exhausting, especially if we sprint. We run to things we call “guilty pleasures” and to comforts like food, shopping, entertainment etc…good things. Bad things. Doesn’t matter. We will not find rest. We will not find peace. We will not find joy unless we’re running to the LORD. Into His arms. Into His grace. Into His unfailing love. 

So many things ruin us. Let us be ruined for better, not worse. Let us be ruined for any useless thing because it’s in HIs shelter where we’re blessed, changed, made new. It’s in His shelter we find our identity. Our passion. Our purpose. You’ll find it nowhere else, friend. 

Let’s run to Him today, and not go back. 

Where do you run when you feel afraid? 

Forward Challenge: Whatever has you anxious, afraid, nervous–take it to the powerful arms of God today. Lay them at His feet. Let Him crush them for you today. There is nowhere safer to run than to His shelter.

Forward Prayer: Lord, thank you that we can run to Your loving arms when we’re afraid, nervous, insecure, concerned or even when everything is okay. They are always open under any circumstance. Today, Lord, show us somehow, some way how much You love us and want to secure us in Your arms. In Jesus’s name. Amen.

Forward Scripture:  

 

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Forward Friday: Serving Family

A couple of Sundays ago, one of our pastors, Kevin Hauman, made a statement when talking about families that struck a chord in me. He said, “We have to serve our families.” Sounds simple and common sense, but I have to admit, I never really equated what I do at home as serving. Not really. I cook, clean, keep laundry (except my man’s because he likes to do his own and I don’t argue ;)) up and groceries bought etc…It’s just, you know, what I do as mom. Not that my husband doesn’t do any of these things, he does them often and my kids help out. But for the most part, I do these things. I do them without much thought. It is a labor of love but I haven’t thought of it as that.

Late that Sunday night after the sermon, my husband had a terrible toothache and his stirring with pain woke me. A quiet whisper entered my mind, “He needs an ice pack.” So I thought, “Great! I’ll tell him to go get one!” And Kevin’s words came back to me. “Serve your family.” The Lord spoke to my heart. “You go get him one.”

Was I tired? Yes. Would I have to go all the way downstairs? Yes. Would I probably be wide awake the rest of the night? Probably. But He was right. And so I did. I went downstairs and came back up and brought him an ice pack which helped! Did I lay awake awhile? Yes. But it felt good to serve him out of love. To do that simple task.

Like Mother Teresa said. It’s not how much we do, but how much love is behind it.

What are some simple things you do for your family that you don’t have to, but want to in order to show them how much you love them and want to serve them?

Forward Challenge: Do one thing for each of your immediate family members today that is small, but served with a lot of love. Note how it makes them feel and how it made you feel!

Forward Prayer: Lord, it’s easy to serve our family when it’s things we enjoy doing, but sometimes cooking one more meal, dropping off forgotten books when we are already running late for meetings, or cleaning gooey gum off shoes doesn’t feel loving. Help us to do it anyway and to love like You would. Fill us with overwhelming love and let it shine through our actions.

Forward Scripture: 

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Forward Friday: The Hard Truths

I enjoy spending my time asking friends to tell me all the bad things about myself. I thrive on it really.

Said no one ever. 

Someone I love once a hundred times told me, “You don’t listen. You’re the most hardheaded person I’ve ever met.”

Ask me how that went over. 

Not.  Well.

Pretty sure my insides heated to 950 billion degrees and my reaction came in fiery breaths and words. Because when you’ve been struck with the arrow of a hard truth, the initial response is to fire back with whatever the enemy has poisoned and placed in your quiver.

Hearing hard truths from loved ones…hurts. It raises our defenses. It can get nasty. 

This is one of my husband’s favorite verses (ESV). Maybe because it gives license to call someone stupid (just kidding). 

Correction, discipline is necessary to grow as a human being. To grow spiritually. But it’s hard to hear. Hard to take. “For the LORD corrects those he loves, just as a father corrects a child in whom he delights.” Proverbs 3:12 NLT

If we don’t listen and examine ourselves–if we don’t let God examine our hearts and reveal to us the hard truths, we’ll continue to repeat the same mistakes. And repeating the same thing hoping for new endings is the definition of insanity. Let’s not be stupid and insane. 🙂 

Lately, I’ve been advising a loved one about relationships. But this person doesn’t want to hear the hard truths, and it’s going to cause yet another downfall. It’s frustrating to watch. It’s painful to endure. This person will not see they might have some behaviors they need to change. Some issues in their heart that needs refining and softened. And this person refuses to step back and let words of wisdom reign.

And while ranting to the Lord about this, He reminded me that I haven’t dealt with all of the hard truths I’ve been given. I don’t want to see I might have some behaviors I need to change. Some issues in my heart that needs refining and softened. And I’ve refused to step back and let the words of wisdom reign.

I handle the hard stuff much better when it comes from God–straight to my spirit. I guess I don’t like flawed people pointing out my own. Maybe it’s the plank and speck scenario. Maybe I’m just prideful. Probably a bit of both. Maybe you are too? And sometimes, even when I do listen to God’s conviction upon my heart, I don’t always follow through. But I want to. How about you?

 

Forward Challenge: If you know you’ve been given a hard truth and you handled it badly, ask God and the person who delivered it in love for forgiveness, then commit to working on that truth. God is gracious and merciful and He’s the Potter! He can transform us inside out. If you have to deliver a hard truth, pray thoroughly, then make sure you’re going in love. Season your words with grace. And trust God to handle the rest.

Forward Scripture and Prayer: 

 

How are you at handling hard truths? 

 

 

 

 

 

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Forward Friday: Watch that Mouth!

Hey everyone! It’s been awhile. How are you? What have you been up to? I’d love to hear in the comments. I’m gearing up to do something new. It’s called Forward Fridays. Each Friday, I’ll share a small devotion, a forward-thinking challenge, and a forward prayer with you. Because let’s be honest, no one should be moving backward spiritually! So let’s get on it with it, shall we?

“Sshh! My Mom or Dad might hear.” Ever tell someone that growing up? I did. I can also remember watching my mouth at church, in front of my grandma, and around my parents. But away from them, the things I said weren’t always pretty.

My parents had standards on what kind of talk could come from our mouths and when it was anything but acceptable, we knew! I can’t remember ever having soap shoved in between my gums, but I bet some of you may have.

This morning I was reading Ephesians 5:3-5: “…Though some tongues just love the taste of gossip, those who follow Jesus have better uses for language than that. Don’t talk dirty or silly. That kind of talk doesn’t fit our style…” MSG

In the NKJV, the word is “foolish talk” and I had to wonder exactly what is foolish talk, because I can say all sorts of ridiculous things. So I headed to find the Greek word. It’s mōrologia and it comes from a compound word made up of: mōros which means impious (irreverent or godless) and legō (this has nothing to do with those tiny plastic devil-made toys that kill your feet in the night) which means to point out with words, to intend, to speak, to call…

Not too long ago, my daughter facetimed a friend while I was in the room. The minute her friend answered, my daughter yelled, “My mom is here. My mom is here!” She didn’t even lead in with, “Hey.”

The Lord reminded me of this scenario this morning and His words to my heart were: She didn’t want you to be offended by what her friend might say. She respects you. But I still hear. I’m still offended. And my heart wept. Because I’m guilty of this. I might say something in front of one person that I wouldn’t say in front of another. But God still hears. And it still might offend Him! It still might disrespect Him. Maybe you’re guilty of this too.

The good news is, God’s mercy is new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23). He’s not holding a grudge and planning on smiting us for being irreverent or disrespectful. But He is offering grace and He does expect us to get ahold of ourselves, repent and not do it again. Grace isn’t tolerance. Grace isn’t a license to keep sinning. It’s a humbling reason to repent and honor God.

Forward Friday Challenge: The challenge to myself and to you this morning is to be consistent in your speech. If you wouldn’t gossip, make a snide comment, tell an inappropriate joke in front of say a pastor or a particular friend who might be offended, then don’t say it to anyone. Because either way, God hears and let’s honor Him. Be reverent.

Forward Prayer: Lord, you are worthy to be revered and glorified. Help us through the power of your Holy Spirit to think before we speak and that what we say is always respectful to You.

Forward Scripture: “…Though some tongues just love the taste of gossip, those who follow Jesus have better uses for language than that. Don’t talk dirty or silly. That kind of talk doesn’t fit our style. Thanksgiving is our dialect.” Ephesians 5:3-5 MSG