Cling Tight Dear One

When life seems to keep knocking you down and you start to wonder when will you see the sun again just remember to cling tight, dear one. This has been the four words that God keeps pressing on my heart these last few months. Oh how I wish that I could tell you that the Christian life was all sunshine and roses, but truth is that it’s not always easy. Yes, there are times when It’s full of sadness, disappointment, and hurt, but there are also times full of happiness, joy and love. Thank goodness for that, because can you image how hard it would be to even get out of bed each day if it was only the hard stuff? Here’s what I will tell you — I’ve grown more as a believer in the hard times than in the easy times. Sit there for a minute. It’s a hard truth, for sure, but it’s true. It’s when things are tough than we run (not even walk) to God. It’s not when things are going smoothly. So, what’s one supposed to do when you are buried deep in the middle of the hard times? Well, that’s where these four words come in handy…cling tight, dear one. These four words have been on my mind for months now. Every single time I cry out to God for help, relief or comfort I feel Him say to me, “cling tight, dear one”. Why those four words and why every single time I pray these days? I think I’m beginning to understand and it’s my hope that these four words will...

From the Inside Out

One of my favorite snacks is a generous scoop of peanut butter on a fresh stalk of celery. When I grabbed the celery out of the refrigerator recently, I was already imagining how it would taste once I slathered it with peanut butter. But when I took the celery out of the package, and tore off the first stalk, I noticed the inner stalks were discolored. Although everything looked fine on the outside, something had caused the celery to begin rotting on the inside. Who would have thought I could learn a valuable spiritual lesson from a vegetable? A comparison We can be just like that celery – appearing fine on the outside, when there is something (sin) on the inside that is making us spiritually sick. Jesus put it this way when talking to the scribes and Pharisees: Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess. Matthew 23:25; KJV Although following rules might trick us into thinking we’re spiritually healthy, only a right relationship with the Savior can provide the cure we need (click to tweet). When we realize we can’t measure up to the standards of a Holy God, we’re in a position to receive some very good news – He already provided a way to bridge the gap between us. Bridging the gap  He sent His perfect Son, Jesus, to fulfill the law and make the payment for our sins: For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life...

Stop And Smell The Roses – Taking Time For A Year End Review Of Your Life

  But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. Joshua 24:15b ESV All the hustle and bustle of the holiday season is coming to a close: the house is a mess, the decorations might still be up, and yet now is the perfect time to stop and smell the roses and make time for a year end review of your life.  As a matter of fact, apart from the major holidays this specific week (between Christmas and the New Year) is my favorite time of the year. Do you want to know why?  Every year I take this week to sit and review what worked, what didn’t work, what needs to be improved and what I hope to do in the next year. It’s not a complicated process, but it is a strategic process that my husband and I do every year. We started doing this about ten years ago and it’s turned into the most thought provoking and productive week for both of us. Chances are you do something like this either mentally or on paper, so why not make a plan and see what you learn in the process. I’m going to share with you what I do, you take it, then tweak it to fit you and your family. Here’s what you need to get ready; paper/giant sticky notes/notepad colored markers/pens/highlighters calendar (last year and the coming year) music (this is very important for me) – I love to listen to “Epic Soundtracks” on Pandora so that I don’t get distracted by the words in the songs. I put those giant sticky notes...

Why It’s Important To Forgive, Even When…We Don’t Want To

I can almost hear the sighs of exasperation. You are probably thinking to yourself, “seriously, she’s going to talk to me today about forgiveness? She has no idea what I am going through, what’s been done, what’s been said or how far off track things have gotten lately.” You know what, you are absolutely right! I don’t know what you are going through or have been through. I don’t know how bad it is gotten in your world lately, nor do I need to because I can tell you this, it has been a doozy of a run in my world too. As a matter of fact, I’m pretty sure I have stamped my foot (a lot here lately) and cried out to God that this just isn’t “fair”. This is just as hard for me to write as it is for you to read because I have been wrestling with God over this one and here’s what I’ve come up with. but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. Matthew 6:15 ESV (underscoring mine) But. I never thought about it that way. But..if you do not, neither will your Father. But…I don’t want to. I still hurt from it. Oh my friend, you have no idea how much this pains me to write, but here it goes…we need to forgive much because we have been forgiven much. There, I said it. This is not to say that you agree with what has happened, but that you are cancelling that debt against you. When we hold on to that anger, resentment,...

Get Over Yourself

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Psalm 51:10 ESV Listen, I know when you first read the title you were probably taken aback a bit, but I hope you hear my heart on this–sometimes we really do just need to get over ourselves. We live in a world where it’s all about ourselves and what makes “me” happy. The problem starts when we live a life that is only focused on ourselves then we can become entitled, self-righteous, judgmental and sometimes downright ugly. When our thoughts and lives are filled with only thoughts about us and our needs/wants, then the rest of our relationships become strained or even nonexistent. It’s hard to have a relationship with someone who only thinks about themselves. So, what’s a person to do who is struggling with this? First, I’d say get a copy of Tim Keller’s book, “The Freedom of Self Forgetfulness”. It has radically changed my thoughts on this whole concept. In his book he talks about a gospel-humility that takes thinking of ourselves right off the table. How do we even do that? Through lots of prayer, lots of patience and lots of practice. I read this book over a year ago and it’s still been something I wrestle with daily, but something that I intend to keep on wrestling with and working through. We spend our days scurrying around trying to fill our lives with more of stuff to make us happy, but the reality is that the “stuff” we long for isn’t really going to bring us the fulfillment we...

No More People Pleasing! It’s Okay To Be YOU!

For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ. Galatians 1:10 ESV Do you want everyone to like you? Do you spend time trying to make sure everyone is happy? Does it worry or bother you if you think someone doesn’t like you? Then chances are, my friend, that you are a people pleaser. Oh, I am right there with you on this one. Honestly, I’m not exactly sure when it started for me but for the most part, I can remember that most of my entire life I’ve wrestled with wanting people to like me. I guess it was one thing when I was an awkward teenager, or the constant “new girl” in school (yep, went to 3 high schools), but for crying out loud, I’m a grown woman now: what’s the deal? It wasn’t until the last few years, particularly this last year, that I’ve really started to wrestle with letting this whole people pleaser thing go. I’m sure I’m not the only one who is or has wrestled with this, so let me share with you what God has been teaching me about what’s wrong with being a people pleaser. I’m not being true to who God has called me to be if I’m trying to be something I’m not. I am fearfully and wonderfully made. (Psalm 139) I am not perfect. (Romans 3:10) I can’t make other people like me and it’s okay if they don’t. (Galatians 1:10) Listen,...

A New Lens For Relationships

True encouragement can’t take place in isolation.” Matt Mashburn   A people person who pulls away from people. A person who has been hurt, wronged, and wounded by others’ actions or words. A person who would like hide in a cave away from everyone. What do all these things have in common? They are all at times me…and maybe even sometimes you too. No, you would probably never admit it out loud, but if you were looking deep down into your heart, you might see that it’s true. It wasn’t until church one Sunday that I discovered these things about myself. As I feverishly wrote down notes from the sermon (which you can listen to here, on 7/28/13 with the same message title) it struck me that he was talking about me…and to top it off, that “he” was actually my husband. He and I had not talked about his sermon that day, which is rare since we usually do, so the frankness of his message hit me even harder when the reality of his words started to sink in.  As a people person who has been in ministry for over ten years it was funny to me that this actually rang true in this season of my life. Let’s dig into his sermon a little bit and see what we can uncover together. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. (Hebrews 10:24-25, ESV) Chances...

Vending Machine God…and our twenty five cent prayers

We drop our quarters in and wait for our selection. How many times have we done the same thing to God? Drop in a few quarter prayers and wait for God to give us the answer that we’re looking for. Here’s my twenty five cent prayer, do something incredible with it. Clink. Clink. We press in our request, we’ll take E3 please, …and then we wait. ”I’ll take a handful of blessings and a bag of M&M’s please God. I’d love for my marriage to be better, my kids to be more considerate, and my job to be easier please.” Sounds incredible, doesn’t it? Only that’s just not the way it works in real life. We don’t serve a Vending Machine God, do we? We do, however, serve a mighty, awesome, loving God who knows what we need even before we do. How do I know this? It says so right in His Word, “Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” Matthew 6:8 ESV This whole idea of the vending machine came to me one night while at community group with my friends. We had an incredible time digging into the sermon that week and sharing our prayer requests at the end of the night. It was your typical list of needs, concerns, desires. Nothing was wrong or out of line, in all honesty, it was actually quite beautiful to hear our friends come together and share so honestly and transparently with each other. But somewhere in the middle of it the thought hit me, that I’ve turned prayer time...

How To Get Your Heart Right This Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is just a few days away and yet if I’m being honest there are days in this season of life when it is just plain hard to be thankful. Shocking, I know. I shouldn’t be saying that to you, I should put on my Patty perfect pastor’s wife hat and pretend to have it all together…but, I just can’t do that anymore. You and I both know that being real with each other is so much healthier than some pretend story of how someone else’s life is more put together than yours. Plus, it is a reality that many can relate to right now. I can count my blessings, I can try to be positive, but let’s face it–life is hard sometimes and it’s not enough to know that fact in your head, you’ve got to give it time to get your heart. So, what are you supposed to do when you should have a heart of thanksgiving but your heart and your head aren’t talking to each other? That’s a great question and I’ve found some incredible wisdom for us right here in this verse; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God,which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7 ESV Let’s dig right in because this is just too good to wait on…if we are anxious then chances are we aren’t going to have a heart of thanksgiving, will we? We’ll be, well…anxious. Worried, frazzled, distracted and trying...

Ask The Hard Questions

In an effort to get to know each other better we need to be ready to ask the hard questions. Especially when it comes to our marriages, but truth be told, these questions can also be tweaked and applied to your family or your ministry as well. It all started a few weeks ago when my husband and I had the opportunity to sit down with two youth pastors and their wives. Being in ministry for over fifteen years we have a heart for young families in ministry. Both of these couples that came over are newlyweds and both are serving their local church. To be honest, I couldn’t wait to spend some time with them. They are so passionate about serving Christ and their love for their spouses and the ministry is a beautiful thing to see. It was our hope to be able to encourage them as they walk the road of marriage and ministry but before the end of the night we quickly realized that we were the ones being encouraged. Listen, I’m a firm believer that we are never too old to learn and never too young to teach so this was a perfect example of God preparing all our hearts for an honest, real and transparent look at life in the ministry. It was also a sweet picture of Titus 2 in action. 2 Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. 3 Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good,...