Your Table: Strengthening Families

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I love to gather around our small table with my family. There’s just something about food and fellowship. Most families gather two times a day to eat, may be just one. Those can be refreshing and influential times if we’re intentional. I love to talk to our boys about most anything when we gather. I see it as just another chance to nurture. When I read some of Sally Clarkson’s post on this topic, I was inspired and wanted to share some great ideas as you gather with your loves ones.


Faith is always a topic at our house. Our boys are 10, 9, and 7, but from the womb they’ve heard verses, praise songs, hymns, and teachings. We like to talk about school verses and faith in general. We can nurture them by sharing lessons in our faith and letting them share also. Our kids (young ones are always underestimated) understand more than we think, so let them share and it may boost your faith. Their journey of faith should begin at home. They should see and hear of our faith as their guardians.

Dreams are something else we like to talk about. Talking about plans for the future is always fun. As boys, they have plenty of wild dreams. Some may come true, some may not. All we can do is inspire them to seek ways to go after those dreams. Listening to them plan forts, stake outs (for critters of course), and discuss battle plans is amusing. We can learn a lot from our children and how to dream big. Never turn your ear from listening to them, no matter your child’s age. I know as they get older their dreams may become more of a reality, so it’s good to learn to listen while they’re young.

Morals are always a topic for us too, not just around the table either, but all day. In this day and time, it seems morality is lacking, so what better topic to talk about? One can be moral, but not redeemed. For us, you’re morality ties right into the Father and His Word. Talking about what’s going on in our world and how to respond is something important we should do with our children. We’re pretty open parents and would rather teach evil and good from a Biblical stance so we always try to be real when talking about events going on. Instilling Biblical morals is the best foundation for our families. With evil being called good, we have to have a standard to base our morality on, which would be the Father’s Word (laws/instructions).

When we do all these, we build connections. Conversation creates a bond. Cutting off the t.v. and talking is healthy for us. That’s what we desire to create with our boys, so they can create one with the Father. So what’s your table like? Our families need that time, so don’t skip gathering together. Don’t forfeit encouraging conversations around your table because your family needs it.

Father, You give us so many chances to influence our families. As we gather to share meals, let us always share our hearts. We live in a very fast paced world, so slowing down to gather for meals is so important. Help us to talk and dream together. We want to inspire our families to be all You want them to be. Help us to be real, open, and encouraging. Honor our efforts to instill Biblical morals in our home. In Jesus’ name, Amen.


These words that I am giving you today are to be in your heart. Repeat them to your children. Talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.

Deuteronomy 6:6-7

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Deep Roots

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Gardening is something I find relaxing and fun. For a girl who doesn’t care to get dirty, there is something about gardening. Hands in moist soil, handling seeds that have potential to bring life. Then watching those seeds burst forth from the dirt and seeing the little roots grow. It’s so amazing!

Till a heavy rain comes or a storm. Then it’s time to see how strong those roots are that we have no clue about.

Our relationship with the Father is a lot like that. We are born again, receive His Spirit now it’s time to grow. One can only grow because of trials and resistance. So naturally the Father tests us with trials, struggles, and hard times. It’s not to show what a failure we are, but to strengthen our relationship with Him, to build our trust in Him.

Our roots grow deep when our faith, our ability to know why, is tested.

Think of marriage or friendships for instance. We wouldn’t bind together and grow if the friendship or marriage wasn’t tested. You form a bond because you have went through something difficult and overcame. It’s the same with our relationship with the Father. We go through difficult circumstances and we either grow or don’t grow. After several hard trials, we can look back and say, ‘I can trust because You did this. You have been steady and constant.’ He has won our trust because of His reputation.

We are supposed to be rooted in Him, so that when winds come, because they will, we can stand. I believe we can get to a point in our lives that when trials come, we don’t doubt the Father is in control. I believe we can have that much trust and faith in Him to know all will be well. That’s what He wants for us.

The next time trials come your way, stop and think back to what He has done for you.

Remind yourself…

He is constant,

He is good,

He is sovereign.

It is all to build your trust and grow your roots.

Father, all that You do is good. Teach us to let You do the work in us to build our trust in You. We want our roots deep so when storms come we can hold fast to Your truth. Life won’t always bring easy circumstances, but they are for our good. They teach us to trust You. May we cling to You when things become hard and let Your peace rule in our hearts. Adjust our perspective to see life how You do. We want our lives to bring You praise. In Jesus’ name, Amen.


So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.

Colossians 2:6-7

Word-Filled Wednesday

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There’s something awesome about seeing someone stand for truth. It’s almost contagious. The believers during Paul’s time knew that feeling all too well. When Paul was imprisoned, he wrote a letter to the believers in Philippi. He spoke of how others gained confidence because of his imprisonment.

When I first read it, that stunned me. How would they gain confidence and become bold because Paul was thrown in prison? It dawned on me after more studying though. When they saw Paul preach without fear, it stirred something inside of them to be fearless also. It’s amazing how standing for truth can empower others to stand too. Now, that’s not always the case, but when it does happen, it’s beautiful to see.

Sometimes you may start off as the only one standing for truth.

You may feel scared.

You may feel insignificant.

You may feel alone.

But what if your stand gives others boldness to also stand?

Paul was persecuted, but he knew it was for the glory of the Father. We will be persecuted for taking a stand, but when you know that you know it’s the right thing, the Spirit will give you boldness. That boldness is like a spark that ignites a fire. It spreads to others when they see the Spirit working through you.

Regardless, we should choose to stand on the truth of Yahweh.

Whatever position you’re in, just remember the Holy Spirit will give the the boldness you need and hopefully others will be urged to do the same.

Father, thank You for these examples in scripture that You have given to encourage us. Help us to always stand for truth, no matter what. May our stand give boldness to others and spread like a wildfire. Help us to be empowered when others stand and to become as bold as they are. Man can only touch the body, but You have power over the soul. Teach us to walk as our Messiah walked and stand for truth. We want to make Your name know no matter the cost. In Jesus’ name, Amen.


Just one thing: Live your life in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or am absent, I will hear about you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind, working side by side for the faith that comes from the gospel,

Philippians 1:27

Slowing the Pace

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As the world comes to a close on the year, everyone is thinking, planning, and regretting. What didn’t I get done this year? What can I do next year? Can I make it another year? The gears for most people are always turning.

Our world and society today moves at a much faster pace than it did many years ago. We move from one project to the next, from one event to the next, and from one milestone to the next. Slowing down is not in most people’s vocabulary.

We really don’t take much time to just take moments in during our days. I know for me, I am working from sun up till after sun down. Cooking, schooling, cleaning, and everything you can think of seems to sweep me off my feet, but not in your fairy tale kind of way. I let all it crimp my style sometimes. I am very driven and like things done pretty quick and well life isn’t that way. Life is a process, and a slow one at times.

I used to write pretty lofty goals, but slowly started making more realistic accomplishments. The ending of last year was a little more bleak for myself. We were going through some major changes and sorting out some circumstances. I just wanted to start with a fresh slate. So my major “goals” were to love Yahweh and love my neighbor. I didn’t have a long list of things to accomplish. I had realized if I love Yahweh with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength, I could love my neighbor as myself. Those two are the key that unlocks a whole lot of good.

This coming year I want to be more intentional in moments, savoring them and embracing them. My focus will be myself, my husband, my family, and my friends. People, not goals. I want to squeeze every second and learn, laugh, and grow. It’s a lot similar to last year’s desire. I know we’ll have challenges and I know we’ll have some great times.

I want to let Yahweh take my brokenness and make beauty out of it, His beauty. I just want to be a vessel pouring out His love to those around me.

Here’s to a new year, a fresh slate, and new beginnings!


And my tongue will proclaim Your righteousness, Your praise all day long.

Psalm 35:28

Boys, Not For the Faint Hearted

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In case you weren’t aware, rearing boys is not for the faint of heart.

They can be loud (very loud), energetic (I need to borrow some of this), and just plain rough. When we found out that our first child was a boy, I must admit that I was scared slap to death. I grew up with a brother and a lot of boy cousins. They were always so noisy and rough. So all I could envision was them putting me into a headlock. Well, not really, but you get my point.

If we look through the scriptures, there are plenty of accounts that tell us about unruly boys or men. On the flip side, we can find some awesome accounts about boys and men. Though it may be a daunting task, we need to raise strong men who will stand when others run. Here’s some thoughts I’ve had concerning our boys lately.

We can encourage our boys that God can and will use them. Just tell them of Samuel. He was very young when he begin the ministry of serving. Of course, he wasn’t perfect, but he listened to the voice of God and He used him in mighty ways. We need men to lead our homes, churches, and businesses. Throughout scripture we see when God-fearing men led, the kingdoms were victorious.

We can also encourage them to be a voice of truth, one who the Father uses as a messenger. This world and the body need men who will speak truth with boldness and love. They can be a mouthpiece for God. Speaking in love doesn’t mean to stray from speaking truth. Moses spoke boldly to the children of Israel, but he was loving when he did it. They don’t have to be perfect, but striving to obey the Father and have a humble heart.

We need our boys to grow into men who proclaim truth with their lives, not merely  words.

Remind them of Daniel when he was in captivity in Babylon. He was a wise, educated man who took a bold stand for truth. He didn’t use a lot of words, but his actions did all the speaking. He decided to pray and worship Yahweh even when it was going to cost him his life. They can act on their beliefs and be a light to others. Words are very important, but sometimes our actions do more than our words can.

Though it can be tough raising these rugged boys, it’s not impossible. We need to first yield ourselves to the Father so we can do as He desires. These boys had mothers who obviously were devoted to Yahweh. So it begins with us, being devoted so we can teach and be an example to our boys who are growing into men with every day that passes. Just when you want to pull your hair out, first go to our Father in prayer.

Father, parenting the opposite gender can be tricky. We don’t know exactly how they’re wired and it can make us feel inadequate. You have give us these boys to rear in Your admonition. We ask for Your wisdom and guidance. Our job isn’t far the slothful. We have to be hidden in You so we can hear You. Help us to teach our boys all that You desire. Give them strong examples to look too, starting with our husband. May our boys grow in You and learn to love Your ways. Strengthen us as we rear them each day. In Jesus’ name, Amen.



He gives strength to the weary and strengthens the powerless.

Isaiah 40:29

Surrendering Is Beautiful

As I drove the back roads, the leaves were all so beautiful. Shades of yellow, red, and orange were popping out here and there, but it seemed not all the leaves were those brilliant colors. They were some trees that still had green leaves. Others trees had a mixture of green and the earth tones. It made me wonder why some of the leaves were so hesitant to the change, the dying off.

Fast forward a week or so and during a science lesson we learned why the leaves we’re changing colors. The changing of color is actually the leaves dying. So the beauty of the brilliance colors are due to a dying process for Winter. It made me think of myself. Why am I so hesitant to die to my wants and my desires?

Dying to my wants and desires is not fun or easy, but think how beautiful we must look to the Father.

When we think of letting go of things that are dear to us, it can hurt. We can feel torn between what we desire and what we know the Father desires. What if letting go (sometimes for a season) is the most beautiful thing that takes place? We have many wants in life, but if it’s something the Father wants you to let go of, we have to make the right choice. For me, it’s writing and blogging. I wold love to blog every week again. I would love to just sit and write and make beautiful photos with awesome quotes every week. If I’m honest, the Father doesn’t want that for me right now. I have boys to teach and care for, not to mention a husband to love and help out.

Why are so we hesitant to let go of mindsets, desires, people, and things? Why don’t we follow the Father’s lead? When He is obviously telling us what’s best, why do we resist? We look most beautiful when we surrender to the Father. His plan is glorious and His way is good.

What are you refusing to let go of? The dying process is painful, but so beautiful.

Father, thank You for using Your creation to speak to us. Dying to ourselves isn’t easy. It’s painful and can be heartbreaking. Help us to see the beauty of surrender. Give us the strength to surrender our wants to You and embrace Your desires. We want our lives to honor and respect You. Help our desires to line up with what You desire for us. Help us to see how necessary the process of dying to our desires is to our character. We praise You for all that You do for us and through us. In Jesus’ name, Amen.



Then He said to them all, “If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me.”

Luke 9:23

A Time To Give Thanks

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Thankfulness is a hard trait to cultivate in our hearts. I can say for myself, it’s like a roller coaster ride when it comes to thankfulness. I will thank Yahweh for a blessing and the next thing you know, I’ve found something to be annoyed about. It’s the human nature within that fights the Spirit of Yahweh. It’s a serious battle raging in each of us. The fight between contentment and dissatisfaction.

Speaking for myself, I have much to be thankful for. Sure I have problems in life, who doesn’t? I know for me, the good outweighs the bad or what I perceive as bad. I love the quote by Ann above. Joy is always possible. It is possible because it does not depend on our circumstances or feelings. If we have nothing else to thank Yahweh for, we have one that we can thank Him for every single day.

Redeeming us through the blood of His Son, Jesus Christ. For tearing down the wall of separation, so we can boldly come to His throne and enter the Holy of Holies.

If you’re like me struggling daily to remember to give thanks instead of complaining, ask Yahweh to teach you how to stop before the complaints come rolling off your tongue. Ask Him to teach you how to give thanks no matter what because there is always one thing to be thankful for: Jesus Christ our Sacrificial Lamb.

Father, forgive us for seeing the “bad” instead of all the good You do for us and give us in life. Teach us to stop and filter our thoughts before they become spoken words. Teach us to choose joy even in the midst of hard times, pain, and loss. We desire to be a fountain that brings forth blessing and not cursing. Train us to speak of Your faithfulness and mercy. May we praise You more than one time a year or one day a week. Train us in Your ways. In Jesus’ name, Amen.


Give thanks to Yahweh, call on His name; proclaim His deeds among the peoples.

Psalm 105:1

You Are Not Alone

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A few months back, I was doing this amazing study on my You Version Bible study app called Overwhelmed By My Blessings. It was such a blessing for myself to receive some encouragement and wisdom from another Mama who was once where I am. It has felt so good to here someone else say, ‘They’re making me crazy!’ or ‘Do they have to fight all the time?’ Some days I feel like I’m the only Mom who is stuck in Lego land or a boxing ring. When we’re around our kids all the time, we can start feeling we are all alone in the trenches.

I found myself thinking after reading the morning devotion from this study how good it felt to not feel alone. I even said out loud, ‘I’m glad to know I’m not alone.’

There are other Mothers who are right where you are…

There are other women right where you are…

There are other wives right where you are…

I think one of the greatest tools of the enemy is to make us feel alone in our journey, whatever it may be. Whether you are struggling to conceive a child, if your marriage is on the rocks, or you are a single woman trying to make it in this world, we all face challenges. No one, since the fall of man, has escaped trials no matter how big or small. To believe we are alone only creates a self-pity and we all know that isn’t good. We begin to believe more lies from Satan. It’s like a bait that draws us farther away from God’s truths. The good news is: You are not alone.

If we start to believe the lie that we are alone, we begin to isolate ourselves from others who could potentially help us.

That is what Satan wants. When we pull away (for fear of judgement) and isolate ourselves, we have done him a huge favor. In the animal kingdom the one that is alone usually never makes it. We’re the same way. When we choose to believe the lies and pull from our group, we will be preyed on and hunted until we can’t fight off Satan. No one is perfect and we all have struggles. The enemy will try to deceive you even about your group or tribe, don’t let him. They need you and you need them.

If we can confess those struggles to other believers we trust and know won’t spread our business, we can grow, be encouraged, and take guidance. Another person that knows your struggles is Jesus. He is our High Priest and it says he can empathize with our struggles. He knows our pain. So even when other may not be able to relate, he can. He went through many emotions and trials.

We were never meant to do life alone. If that was the case, God would have left Adam alone. He wouldn’t have wanted a people for Himself. He would have just wanted one man and that isn’t the case from Genesis to Revelation. Refuse to believe the lies of Satan and know you are never alone.

Father, thank You for never leaving us. Thank You for giving us others in our life to do life with and be encouraged by. Help us to refuse the lies that Satan tries to feed us. May we take those thoughts captive and realize every person has struggles and faults. Help us to cry out to You for help in our time of need and also confide in someone trusted. We don’t want to be fake people putting on masks portraying a perfect life. We want to be real and to be healed. We want to be transformed from our ugliness to Your likeness. So take us and remove the dross. Help us to know we are never alone, no matter what. We praise You for always being our help and refuge. In Jesus’ name, Amen.


 

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tested in every way as we are, yet without sin.

Hebrew 4:15

Hearts of Flesh

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Some days I think I pray more than I ever thought I would. Having children is hard y’all. I was just thinking the other day about the verse in Ezekiel where he talks about stony hearts being turned into fleshy hearts. I thought about how I want out boys’ hearts to be transformed into those fleshy hearts. The more I thought about it, I realized it will be more than a one time thing.

It will also be that way for us, the parents. Over time and through various circumstances, our hearts can become hurt badly. We can feel pain so deep it feels like our heart is breaking. Other events can make us to angry that we turn to bitterness. If we’re not careful we’ll let the event that caused so much pain, overtake us with anger. When our children face similar situations that can cause pain, anger, or bitterness, we want to be able to help them navigate through the emotions. So we have to continually ask the Father to check our hearts.

Once we realize our hearts have become stone cold and broken, we break before the Father and He mends us.

The act of stony hearts being changed into flesh happens more than once in our lives. I have been very hurt, have looked depression square in the face, and have been so angry I couldn’t see straight. I humbly asked the Father to heal me and turn my heart back to flesh, back to a heart that is beating for Him. If we’re not careful, we could ignore that drawing back to the Father and continue in our hurt which will turn into bitterness. We don’t want that, not only for our sake, but for our children’s. We want to be whole people who can help our children and others.

As parents, our children are watching us and we show them how to respond to situations in life. So when we’re praying for our children’s hearts to be fleshy and molded by Him, don’t forget to pray for your heart. We can’t teach what we don’t know. Sin rules here on earth and our hearts are prone to turn to stone at times. Trials and circumstances can give us the option of turning cold and bitter leading our hearts to become like stone. Instead, we have to ask for healing and transformation leading our hearts to become like flesh

Father, thank You for using our children to teach us important lessons and for drawing us closer to You. They help keep us accountable and help us to look to You. Help us to be the examples You desire for our children. When our hearts become hurt, help us to let You heal us so we don’t turn to bitterness. We really don’t want to become bitter and empty. We want to come to You in our broken state and allow You to heal us however You see fit. We want to be a vessel that is full of You so we can pour out to our children and others. In Jesus’ name, Amen.


I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will remove your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.

Ezekiel 36:26

 

Holy Spirit, You Are Welcome Here

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Mid February our part of the U.S. started to warm up. Shortly after two record snow falls and frigid temps, Spring began to creep upon us. Everything was covered in a thin layer of pollen. You couldn’t touch anything without the yellow powder showing up on you. It was funny to watch our boys touch or brush up against something then exclaim, ‘There’s pollen on me!’

As we’ve been counting to the feast of Pentecost, I thought about the Holy Spirit. It can be compared to pollen relating to our lives. We should want His Spirit to cover us, every area of our lives. When Jesus breathed his last breath and the veil was torn, it opened the way for The Father’s Spirit to dwell in us all simultaneously. On the days leading up to Pentecost, he told His disciples to wait for him in Jerusalem and the Comforter would come. When it came upon them on the day of Pentecost, they were bold and did things they couldn’t before.

The Holy Spirit will work through us to do things we never thought possible.

If we don’t have His Spirit in us and helping us, we are missing out on so much. It should be obvious that we operate in His Spirit versus our own strength. That’s what helps us overcome our flesh and temptations.

When tragedy strikes, His Spirit will empower you to act in ways you normally wouldn’t.

When fear tries to creep in, the Spirit gives us the boldness to rebuke it in Jesus name.

When we’re testifying of the Father, His Spirit will speak through you to glorify His name.

We desperately need His Spirit in our lives. The disciples had walked with Jesus and now it was time for them to do miracles only he had performed. It was time for them to be the hands and feet and to testify of the Father. If they walked with the Messiah and they needed the Holy Spirit, how much more do we? We’re no different from them when it comes to needing boldness, strength, and comfort. He longs to have His Spirit in His children so we can walk out all He commands.

When we don’t think we can, the Spirit will give us the strength. Letting the Spirit invade every area of our life and convict us where we need to change is one of the most important things we can do. He desires we have it and operate through it. It empowers us to do things beyond our capability. So let His Spirit invade you and operate through you.

Father, thank You for Your Holy Spirit and the ability to have it dwell inside each of us. We desire for it to help us do what we cannot do in our own strength. We want it to convict every area of our lives and help us to make the changes You desire. We need Your Spirit to comfort us, guide us, and convict us. We want our lives to honor You. We want the power to walk out all that You command and instruct us to do. We can’t do that in our own strength, but only through the power of Your Holy Spirit. We praise You for giving us such powerful weapons to fight this fight. In Jesus’ name, Amen.


 

But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit—the Father will send Him in My name—will teach you all things and remind you of everything I have told you.

John 14:26