Psalm 40:8

I take joy in doing your will, my God,
    for your instructions are written on my heart.

Psalm 40:8

 

Lord, this is what I want.  Give me the joy that comes from doing your will.  Amen.

Just Out for a Walk

Yesterday was our neighborhood-wide garage sale.  We chose not to participate this year because I simply could not get it together, but the older kids asked if we could walk around and see what others were selling.  I told them we could get out before the weather turned unbearably hot.  Against my better judgment I let the younger two ride their bicycle and tricycle.  With their money in hand I set out with my little shoppers.

As we travelled down the sidewalk I quickly realized the error in my plan.  If 2 of my 3 kiddos were riding bikes, how would they carry their loot?  Not long after that, I realized that wasn’t my only issue.  We were walking a path we’ve walked many times before.  I was accustomed to helping my youngest over the bumps and cracks in the sidewalk.  Usually a little push is all she needs every now and then, but there was so much to look at with the garage sales she found it hard to keep her eyes on the sidewalk.  She kept veering off the sidewalk and getting stuck in the space between the path and the lawns we were passing. I had to repeatedly pull her trike back onto the sidewalk. Talking to her and repeatedly saying, “Keep you eyes on the sidewalk” did not help.  Eventually I found myself getting frustrated because it was happening so often.  As I was opening my mouth to say, “Please just follow the path!”, I felt the need to close my mouth.

All of a sudden I could hear the voice in my head say, “Like you?” I couldn’t say a word because all these words started flooding my mind. “How many times have you been so distracted by everything around you that you ended up off track? There is a path laid for you and yet everything else grabs your attention and you struggle to simply continue ahead on the ‘sidewalk’ I’ve given you.  I’ve helped you over bumps in the road only to see you distracted by something you thought was greener pasture.  I’ve tugged and tugged at you to help set your ‘handle bars’ straight again and again.”  Wow! I was NOT expecting that.  We were just out for a walk.

The truth is for me it’s been really hard to follow the path.  I’ve asked for God to simply give me the next step and there have been many days I parked myself on the side and refused to move.  Other times the life I think I want or should have looks as interesting to me as the box of stuffed animals that caused my little one to roll into the grass.  Apparently it’s hard for me to follow the path too.

Lord, thank you for all the ways you continue to speak and guide.  Thank you for reminding me what kind of child I am.  Thank you for all the times you wouldn’t allow me to stay stuck where I was.  Thank you for your loving patience and kindness.  If I for a minute thought I could be frustrated after a few minutes, I cannot  imagine how you have felt after years. I pray you will give me the strength and courage to follow your will and stay the course. Amen.

Seek his will in all you do,
    and he will show you which path to take.

Proverbs 3:6

 

Moving Forward

My oldest two have been attending VBS at a friend’s church this week.  Tonight when they came home I asked, “What was the lesson today?”  After some back and forth with my son, who originally couldn’t remember, he finally answered, “Oh yeah! We talked about how to listen to God’s will.” Yep, that sounds about right.  That’s what I’ve been hearing every day this week.  I love God and his confirmation.  It just keeps coming.  God, help me to keep moving.

What Does The Lord Require of You?

I feel like I don’t have much to say right now, but I can’t get this verse and song out of my head tonight, so here I am at the computer.  Over and over I keep hearing “What does the Lord require of you?”  There are so many things God has spoken to me; sometimes I find it hard to prioritize, but lately, I’ve simply been frozen by my fears.  I’ve been allowing the “what if’s” to crowd out His voice.

God is faithful at sending messages and nudges and beautiful people to continue to provide flickers of light.  I hear the words of one of my dearest now, “Your problem isn’t clarity; it’s obedience.”

Maybe you are like me.  Maybe you know what God is calling and requiring of you, but scared to move forward.  He’s shown you over and over again how faithful He is, but still you hesitate. Maybe you are scared of what it will cost you. We know how to make things more difficult than they have to be.  I don’t know what your call is or what’s holding you back, but I pray you too will start to move forward.  Please pray for me too.

But he’s already made it plain how to live, what to do,

what God is looking for in men and women. 

It’s quite simple:  Do what is fair and just to your neighbor,

be compassionate and loyal in your love,

And don’t take yourself too seriously-take God seriously.

Micah 6:8 MSG

 

Conviction

A few nights ago, my heart was convicted during evening devotions with my older kids.  The devotion was taken from Exodus 16. The reading was about the Israelites in the wilderness. They were complaining against Moses and Aaron for leading them to the desert to starve.  The Lord heard their complaints and decided to send manna and quail.

As I was talking with my children, I asked if it reminded them of anything or anyone.  My oldest immediately admitted it reminded her of herself and how much she has complained about our move to Georgia.  I had to confess she was not alone.  I felt God speaking to me about my own complaints.  I have often thought of our move to Georgia as my desert place, and in that moment I felt the burden of my groaning.

In verse 8 Moses tells the Israelites, “Your complaining is not against us but against the Lord.” OUCH!  I’ve spent the last couple of years complaining against my husband for bringing us here and the losses I felt we’ve endured.  God is really the one who brought us here, so my complaints have actually been against him. Wow! Did that make me pause.

Just like he provided for the Israelites needs, he has done the same for us.  He has provided and continues to provide new friends.  He has allowed us to continue homeschooling, and provided medications and special foods for my children.  Many things we never needed before he has provided and more.  We have not lacked in one need, yet I have complained incessantly about our new life here.  I have complained about HIS path and HIS plan for our lives instead of being content and thankful for his grace.  Worst of all, I have led my children down the path of discontentment instead of demonstrating gratefulness.

Even as God provided for the Israelites again and again, they failed to follow his instructions. Boy, that sounds familiar! He told them only to gather enough for their daily needs.  Some gathered more and found the next day that it had spoiled.  Seeing this the Lord responded, “How  long will you refuse to keep my commandments and instructions?” (Exodus 16:28)

How long will I refuse to change my attitude?  How long will I refuse to submit myself to the Lord’s instructions and my husband’s leadership?  How long will I refuse to forgive?  How long will I refuse to respect?  How long will I refuse to trust?

God has made it clear many times that I must change.  “The Israelites ate manna…until they came to a habitable land;…until they came to the border of the land of Canaan.”(Exodus 16:35)  They struggled a long time.  Lord, I’m tired of fighting your way.  I want to be at the border of my Canaan.  I know you have a Promised Land for me, if I will follow you and your commands.

Thank you for these words.  Here I am again asking for forgiveness.  Your ways are not my ways.  Your ways are so much better.  You have shown me that so many times.  Help me to release all the fears that have kept me from following your instructions.  I’m convicted. Now, I need to do something about it.

Reminders

I have been struggling with my emerging preschooler during school time lately.  She is no longer content to sit by with busy work while I work with her older siblings.  She does a lot more lately to try and grab my attention if it isn’t given quickly. She wants her own dedicated time and she deserves it. I’ve been trying to rearrange our schedule so I can sit with her first, but this morning I was not moving fast enough for her and it led to a great deal of frustration for both of us.

Part of my frustration is my mommy guilt because I feel like I don’t do enough with her most days. I struggle not to compare what I do with her with what I was able to do with the other two when they were her age.  We played this.  We read this many books.  We spent this amount of time outside.  They had this class or that activity.  And then the clincher, they knew how to do…

But she is such a different beast.  She is much more temperamental and easily distracted. So this morning when she wanted to do her “schoolwork” I wanted to give her my full attention.  I needed two minutes, tops, to get the other two started on their independent work and she interrupted the entire time.  When I turned my attention to her and the work she chose, her first response was, “I don’t want to do that now.” Steam from my ears and deep breaths. I tried to focus her attention on her letter sounds and could feel the upset rising within me and her at all that I had not taught her yet.

I wish I could say I didn’t allow it to bother me or that I didn’t beat myself up, but that would be a lie.  While I didn’t go overboard, I did have a sense that I was failing to teach her the things she should know. The worst part was I was wondering how would I ever figure out how to help her.

Later this afternoon I called my mother in New Orleans after seeing the weather reports of Tornado watches and severe storms.  My littlest listened to her siblings ask me about the reports and about their grandmother, and when they left the room she asked a few more questions of her own. She then did something that took me completely by surprise.  As she walked by my side, she grabbed my hand and said let’s pray for Grammy and the tornados.  She recited the sweetest prayer to God asking him to protect her grandmother from the tornados and to keep her safe and all the people there.

At that moment I couldn’t help but think, “Thank you God for the reminder of what is really important.”  Of all the things I can want my children to know and learn, God is at the top of the list.  That sweet smart girl knew to go to God to ask for protection and comfort in the time of a storm. If that’s not a reminder I don’t know what is!

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Matthew 6:33

 

 

Ash Wednesday 2016

The first day of Lent and I overslept.  I woke up later than I planned and immediately started thinking I’m failing my new commitments on the first day!  By the time I woke up this morning, according to my self imposed schedule, I should have already completed prayer time and exercise.

Then I heard the question in my head, “Why is that failure?” God is so faithful to remind us of his truth versus the enemy’s lies.  The truth is the only failure is giving up.  I chose not to.  Even though I was “late” I had plenty of time to sit and be blessed in his presence this morning.  I am so thankful I did not rush off to the next thing.  I was able to write down the following prayer:

Lord,

Please be with me today and silence the voice of the enemy that tells me there is no way I can succeed.  I must rest in your strength to accomplish anything you have called or are calling me to.  You have not taken away this cup.  Help me to focus on your will.  There is so much that needs to be cleaned from my heart that I didn’t even know resided there.  Lord, please bless this day of beginnings.  Amen

I fasted today for the first time in a long time.  I had intended to do a Daniel Fast this morning, but during my TAG (Time Alone with God) I felt led to go without food this first day of Lent.  My schedule for the day was truly turned upset down, but I felt calmer than I have in weeks.  I guess the word would be peaceful.  I am looking forward to this season and seeing God work.  I would not presume to think that everyday will feel like today, but I feel like God blessed my effort to not give up this morning and obey his voice.  Lord help me to listen intently for your voice and to obey quickly. Thank you, Lord, for a day of blessed beginnings!

 

Happy New Year!

I am a procrastinator to my core.  So it should not be surprising that I am writing, “Happy New Year” at the end of New Year’s Day.  Like many people, my mind has been replaying the ups and downs of 2015, and wondering what 2016 has in store.

The last few weeks of 2015 proved to be slightly challenging.  You would think I would be filled with ideas of how I’m going to attack 2016 differently, but I feel just as clueless as I normally do this time of year. Even thought I gave up New Year’s resolutions many moons ago, it’s hard to escape the feeling of hope that comes with the beginning of a New Year.  I have no grand game plan for 2016, but I look forward to this new start  simply because I’ve been blessed with it.

Today, I thank God for his grace.  I thank God for new beginnings in every way He wishes me to experience them this year.  I pray that as hard as it feels sometimes, that he will continue to align my will with his.  I pray for wisdom to hear his voice and the courage to follow it boldly.  I pray that I will be more grace filled, not only with those around me, but also with myself.  I pray that I will learn to silence that voice that beats me up and tells me I’m a horrible mother, wife, teacher, fill in the blank, and remember every day I am striving to grow in his grace.  I am a child of God, not Jesus himself, so I will make mistakes.  I pray I will remember to look for the lesson and keep on moving because the only way to truly fail is to stop trying.

I wish these same things for those of you who will read this.  2016 let’s do this!

Psalm 95:1-7

A dear friend of mine shared this great “Thanksgiving 30 Day Scripture Writing Plan” on her page.  It’s a pdf file found at http://www.swtblessings.com. Our family already has a few traditions for my favorite time of year, but I loved the idea of purposely copying what God’s word has to say about thankfulness. I saw the post yesterday and my original desire was for us as a family to copy the verses together before starting our regular homeschool work.  Sometimes plans work and sometimes they don’t.  Yesterday they didn’t.

This morning during my devotional time I decided to copy the verse myself from day one.  I’m already 4 days behind, but I didn’t think God would mind.  I just had this desire to start because I did not know what this morning would hold.

O come, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving;  let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!  For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods.  In his hand are the depths of the earth; the heights of the mountains are his also.  The sea is his, for he made it, and the dry land, which his hands have formed.  O come let us worship and bow down, let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker!  For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand.  O that today you would listen to his voice!

There is so much truth beauty and truth in this passage!  What a wonderful praise to our Lord. But the part that particularly spoke to my spirit this morning was the last line, “O that today you would listen to his voice!”

For me there is a huge difference in hearing and listening.  I know I have this discussion with my children often.  To hear means 1) to perceive with the ear the sound made by (someone or something). 2) be told or informed of. 3) be aware of; know of the existence of.  To listen is defined as to give one’s attention to a sound.  Lord, let me not only hear from you, but obey your voice when I listen.

I don’t want to just perceive you saying something to me.  Let me listen and give my full attention to your voice.  Let me worship you with my whole being and heed what you are telling me.  Let my focus today be squarely where it should be_on you.  Let me yield myself to your voice and follow your will for me today.  I want to listen to your voice as you guide my interactions with my husband, my children, and anyone you choose to allow to cross my path.  I want to surrender myself to the blessing of your voice.

Amen.