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...

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...

The Call to Worship

In the small, traditional church where I grew up, they passed out bulletins every Sunday. The service order always began with the call to worship. It was almost always a piano solo, which caused everyone to quiet, find their seats, and prepare their hearts and mind to worship. Recently I read Psalm 89:15 (NLT) that says, “Happy are those who hear the call to worship, for they will walk in the light of Your presence, Lord.”  When I read this, I couldn’t help but stop and ask myself two things: Am I hearing the call to worship? And if so, what is my response? In life’s day-to-day circumstances, am I hearing the call to worship? Do I view the call to worship only as the times when everything falls into place? When the stars align, my children are perfectly behaved, I get that job I’m perfectly gifted for, when my husband is ‘perfect,’ loving and responsive? Or – could it be that the call to worship is there regardless of my circumstances?  Here’s the hard truth: worship really has nothing to do with me, or anything going on in my life, but everything to do with Jesus.  Sing to the Lord, all the earth; proclaim his salvation day after day. Declare his glory among the nations, His marvelous deeds among all peoples. For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; He is to be feared above all gods. … Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and joy are in His dwelling place. … Ascribe to the Lord the glory due His name; bring an offering and...

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...

Worship Between The Tides

This week, my family and I are packing for a beach trip. While I’m thankful for an opportunity to disconnect, I long even more to be in a place where I feel the Holy Spirit is tangible. I’m convinced—these feet are shaped for standing on sandy shores, contemplating the miles of majesty in an emerald green sea. Looking out, there is something perplexing and mysterious, yet certain and timeless. Today, this has me thinking of the tides. What I’m learning is that it all boils down to gravity and forces pulling in and out, causing water to ‘bulge’ in high tide, and later retract in a low tide. There’s meaning here… TO EVERYTHING there is a season, and a time for every matter or purpose under heaven [Ecclesiastes 3:1 AMP] If we consider the rising and falling of the tides as our lives in highs and lows, we must also think about the ‘between’ time where the ocean continues ‘as is.’ Our lives, as they are, may have us going through the motions. They can seem long and daunting in the between times. Right now, my family is in this place—living between the tides. Maybe you’re there, too. Think on this… He has made everything beautiful in its time. He also planted eternity in men’s hearts and minds [a divinely implanted sense of purpose working through the ages which nothing under the sun but God alone can satisfy], yet so that men cannot find out what God has done from beginning to end. [Ecclesiastes 3:11 AMP] Every single change concerning us — the time, season, moments of it —...

It’s Almost A New Year! Is It Time For A Fresh Start?

He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord. Psalm 40:3 ESV A brand new year — filled with excitement and anticipation. There is this sense of awe, wonder and expectancy.  This is the chance we have been waiting for to start new, to make a fresh start!  I think this is the reason why New Year’s resolutions get started, because the New Year feels like it holds lots of endless possibilities for each of us. The week between Christmas and New Year’s is a great planning week.  Every year during this week, my husband & I get away to rest, recover and relax. We find a sweet little get away spot, bring some of our favorite Christmas gifts and take some time to unplug for a bit. We also use this time to prepare our hearts, minds and family for the next year in our lives and ministry.  It is good to stop and celebrate all that we were a part of the year before, talk about our highs and lows as a family, as well as taking some time to map out what we hope to do in the next year.  It also helps us to reconnect after a busy Christmas season. In taking the time to reflect on our year, it helps us to better prepare for the next year.  It also helps to provide incredible insight as to what worked, what can be improved, what we would drop, add, or change all together. God made my life...

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...

You Don’t Know Jack!

“Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; Luke 6:37 ESV Chances are you see just a peek into the window of the world that others live in and with such limited information it’s time for us to stop and admit that we really don’t know jack! Oh, I know I am going to be stepping on some toes today, my own included. It’s so easy to make a remark and a snap judgement about how someone handles the pieces and parts of their world that others see. You know, how they act with their spouse, kids, job, any or all of these (and many more) are out front for others to “see” and watch. What we don’t know is what’s really going on in that person’s world and why they might have acted or responded the way they did. Listen sweet friend, this is something that I’ve wrestled with for some time now. Here’s the deal, God will not let me let it go. But before I go much further I want to stop and make sure that you hear my heart, please oh please, hear my heart, because my words don’t always say the right thing. You and I have got to stop judging people and start giving out great big whopping dose of grace to those around us. Now, I’m not talking about any situation in which you are physically in danger. If that is happening then seek immediate help. I’m talking directly about the part of us that looks at another...

The posture of prayer

I’ve prayed sitting in a pew. Balanced on my knees on a cushioned kneeler. Standing at the altar, hands on another’s shoulder. In a circle at prayer group, joined hand to hand in unity. I’ve pressed my face into my carpet, distraught and wordless, and I’ve stood with both arms raised high above my head with confidence and praise. It’s all prayer. It’s all good. And however you approach it, I’m not here to tell you you’re doing it wrong. What I know, though, is that so often we get stuck in a routine. Before long, actions that once held deep meaning no longer carry any weight. Emotion is replaced with familiarity. Familiarity can be good. It comes with comfort and peace. You don’t want to lose that. But I’d like to suggest that maybe you should shake things up once in a while. ** A few months ago, on a Sunday morning, I went to the altar to pray. I’d been closing in with God, doing a lot of writing, thinking of Him as a friend. Sitting beside me. Walking next to me. But that day, as I knelt in prayer, I realized something. I’ve spent time side-by-side, but not enough time at His feet. It’s a posture of surrender. The physical position is important. Because as I sit at His feet, I remember how big He is. How powerful. I realize that for generations and generations, kings had to grant special approval to let someone enter the throne room. I’ve done nothing to earn that kind of access. But He allows me to approach Him in His...