25 Days of December: Matthew Chapter 25

Good Morning! We are almost finished with the book of Matthew! What has been the biggest lesson you have learned in this chapter so far? -I hope to write a post that will wrap up the book and mention the biggest lessons I learned too. :)-

Let’s dive in!

Main points for this chapter:

  • You can take the light, but don’t forget the fuel
  • It’s criminal to live too cautiously
  • The needy are more than just people 

 

  • You can take the light, but don’t forget the fuel

Matthew 25:1-12 (NKJV)

“Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish. Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them, but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept.

“And at midnight a cry was heard: ‘Behold, the bridegroom is coming;[a] go out to meet him!’ Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise answered, saying, ‘No, lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.’ 10 And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut.

11 “Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open to us!’ 12 But he answered and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.’”

We can go out with intentions of spreading the good news, but if we are not prepared with THE WORD, we will be left behind. The Word is what fuels the message. It is impossible to stand our ground without knowledge of the Word. That’s why studies such as this one are important! For student AND TEACHER!

  • It’s criminal to live too cautiously

Matthew 25:14-30 (NIV)

14 “Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them. 15 To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag,[a] each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. 16 The man who had received five bags of gold went at once and put his money to work and gained five bags more. 17 So also, the one with two bags of gold gained two more. 18 But the man who had received one bag went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.

19 “After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. 20 The man who had received five bags of gold brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five bags of gold. See, I have gained five more.’

21 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things.Come and share your master’s happiness!’

22 “The man with two bags of gold also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with two bags of gold; see, I have gained two more.’

23 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things.Come and share your master’s happiness!’

24 “Then the man who had received one bag of gold came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. 25 So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’

26 “His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? 27 Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.

28 “‘So take the bag of gold from him and give it to the one who has ten bags. 29 For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. 30 And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

The Message translation have a verse that drove it home for me:

Matthew 25:26 (The Message): “‘That master was furious. ‘That’s a terrible way to live! It’s criminal to live cautiously like that! If you knew I was after the best, why did you do less than the least?'”

We are not to hoard our material possessions, our money or our faith. How on Earth can we “hoard our faith?” By not sharing it! By not spreading the good news to others!

God is whispering to us all the time. If we decide to stay comfortable right where we are at, never taking a chance – we WILL miss out on what God has for us. The more we ignore those “gut feelings” or whispers from God, the more we will start to notice those whispers disappearing. The more we act on those whispers, the more whispers we will hear.

We can not be afraid to “invest” in what God has given us to work with. We can not hoard what we do have and sit on it. We can not (out of fear) hold our fists so tight onto what God has given us that we never open our fist back up to receive. If our fist is never open to give, it will never be open to receive either! God will see a closed fist and move on.

Does that make sense?

  • The needy are more than just people

Matthew 25:34-40 (The Message): “‘Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Enter you who are blessed by my Father! Take what’s coming to you in this kingdom. It’s been ready for you since the world’s foundation. And here’s why:

I was hungry and you fed me,

I was thirsty and you gave me a drink,

I was shivering and you gave me clothes,

I was sick and you stopped to visit,

I was in prison and you came to me.

Then those ‘sheep’ are going to say, ‘Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and five you a drink? And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you? Then the King will say, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me – you did it to me.'”

So, there it is folks. The things we do (or don’t do) unto others….are things we are (or aren’t) doing to our King! If the Lord calls you to help the homeless, orphans, enslaved etc then definitely do that! If you don’t feel led to do that, please don’t feel like you don’t have a mission. I guarantee you we have hurting people as neighbors, coworkers, friends and acquaintances.

 

 

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25 Days of December: Matthew Chapter 24

I’m here! Didn’t fall off the face of the planet lol I have a good report though! In an effort to jump start my New Years Resolution of “balance” I have put more focus on my homemaking and this week has been fabulous because of it! So much relief, having the budget done, meal planning done, laundry caught up every single day, no waking up to dishes and the kids and hubby seem to be enjoying the results too. SO….I’m sorry about missing a few studies. I am still really enjoying them! I hope you are too. 🙂 So in terms of soul food, let’s EAT!

Main points for today are:

  • Don’t praise material things, for they will not last forever
  • Stay focused, do not fear and do not be deceived  
  • The message will reach the entire world
  • The metaphor of the Vulture
  • Be prepared

 

  • Don’t praise material things, for they will not last forever

Matthew 24:2 (NIV): “‘Do you see all these things?’ he asked. ‘Truly I tell you, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.'”

We have been told not to put our focus on material things but when we read it like this….we can see. Nothing we currently have will exist forever (aside from our soul). If you ever watch end of the world movies, it’s easy to visualize what this may look like. If you haven’t seen movies such as these, it looks a little bit like this: ghost towns, people traveling to look for food and supplies, families separated, and people changing from what we knew them as before.

If you know me personally, you probably think of me as a pretty optimistic person. I believe I am most times. So reading a chapter like this leaves me sitting here staring at my bible with my eyes wide open wondering how in the world I will get through something like this. Thing is….it’s part of the bible I believe in and if I truly believe it, I can’t go changing the parts I don’t like! This brings me to the next point.

  • Stay focused, do not fear and do not be deceived  

Matthew 24:4-13 (The Message): “Jesus said, ‘Watch out for doomsday deceivers. Many leaders are going to show up with forged identities, claiming, ‘I am Christ, The Messiah.’ They will deceive a lot of people. When reports come in of wars and rumored wars, keep your head and don’t panic. This is routine history; this is no sign of the end. Nation will fight nation and ruler fight ruler, over and over. Famines and earthquakes will occur in various places. This is nothing compared to what is coming. They are going to throw you to the wolves and kill you, everyone hating you because you carry my name. And then, going from bad to worse, it will be dog-eat-dog, everyone at each other’s throat, everyone hating each other. In the confusion, lying preachers will come forward and deceive a lot of people. For may others, the overwhelming spread of evil will do them in – nothing left of their love but a mound of ashes. Staying with it – that’s what God requires. Stay with it to the end. You won’t be sorry, and you’ll be saved. ‘”

*Eyes wide open in amazement* again…. This all seems so harsh as we read it, but look around. Is it really much different than what we already see happening all over the world right now? Most of us are very fortunate to not have to be experiencing any of these things, so maybe we don’t see it. We are truly surrounded by it. War, suicides, bombings, shootings, terrorist attacks, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, etc. How are these different than what scripture describes? We already hate each other for political views, sexual preferences, race, religious backgrounds or whatever else may make us different. We are at each other’s throats all the time, even with those closest to us.

We have to stay focused. We have to stay in the Word. We have to apply the Word. We have to keep our faith in the fact that Jesus said, if we stick it out til the end he will save us. We have to cling to His promises. We can’t be deceived or led astray by any of the enemy’s sneaky ways. Thing is…..if we aren’t studying the Word, we WON’T KNOW when we are being deceived.

  • The message will reach the entire world

Matthew 24:14 (The Message): “‘All during this time, the good news – the Message of the kingdom – will be preached all over the world, a witness staked out in every country. And then the end will come.'”

Well that makes me feel better. My husband and I were just having a conversation the other night about people getting saved and if everyone on the planet will have a chance to be saved. My husband has a good heart and he said to me, “I just have a hard time believing that people of different religions, children, people who are living in secluded areas of the world…..that they would go to hell. What if they didn’t get a chance to hear about Jesus and make their choice?” When he asked me that, I teared up. Then I had a sudden feeling of almost guilt…or a mission I needed to start right that second. Slip my boots on over my pajamas, because I needed to go out and reach people so this didn’t happen! But then we continued to talk and study and now coming across this verse, we can rest knowing that everyone will hear the Word. HOWEVER, that doesn’t give us a free pass to sit back, say we are saved and leave everyone else to fend for themselves. We DO have a mission! Each of ours may look a little different, but they all have the same common goal! To reach the world with the good news!

  • The metaphor of the Vulture

Matthew 24:26-28 (The Message): “‘So if they say, ‘Run to the country and see him arrive!’ or, ‘Quick, get downtown, see him come!’ don’t give them the time of day. The Arrival of the Son of Man isn’t something you go to see. He comes like swift lightning to you! Whenever you see crowds gathering, think of carrion vultures circling, moving in, hovering over a rotting carcass. You can be quite sure that it’s not the living Son of Man pulling in those crowds.'”

The way this translation describes this metaphor helped me to really understand! A vulture circles a rotting carcass and feasts on it the same way the crowds will circle around the deceivers and feast on their lies. WOW! So the old idea of not following the crowd, really holds true here. Follow what you know to be true, not what others tell you is true.

  • Be prepared

Matthew 24:39-51 warns us to be prepared for the Son’s Return and to always do what we know to be right, for we never know when the time will come. He may catch us in the middle of serving ourselves or the world instead of serving the kingdom.

25 Days of December: Matthew Chapter 15

Good morning everyone! Well it’s 11 am here, but no matter what time it is there I hope you have found time to sit down with the drink of your choice and enjoy this chapter with me! I am feeling especially grateful for this study today after watching videos of the tragedies currently going on in Syria. It is paralyzing to watch. How big of a blessing it is for us to have the freedom to sit down and read through scripture!

This is post #12 in the 25 part series where we are studying the book of Matthew in hopes of finding some “soul food” during this season of busyness and distraction!

The main points we will be going over today are:

  • What goes in means nothing. What comes out defines a person
  • Those who remain faithful against all odds will see breakthrough
  • Jesus had compassion for those who showed endurance 

 

  • What goes in means nothing. What comes out defines a person

Matthew 15:17-20 (NIV) explains this idea as a physical metaphor: “‘Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? But the things that come out of a person’t mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. For out of the heart come evil thoughts – murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These are what defile a person; but eating with unwashed hands does not defile them.'”

(“Defile” means to make unclean or spoil)

I see the metaphor in these verses. Just as someone ingests food or drink, they can attend church every Sunday but if it is not digested and regurgitated (sorry for the image!) then nothing will come of it except for waste. The word and our studies must not only be taken in but it must be processed and used again. We must put our studies to use! What good is our knowledge if it is not shared with others?

  • Those who remain faithful against all odds will see breakthrough

Matthew 15:26-27 (NIV): “He replied, ‘It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.’ ‘Yes it is, Lord,’ she said. ‘Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.'”

I struggled with these verses, because I didn’t know how Jesus (the sinless, compassionate person that he was) would ever choose certain people (children in the metaphor) over other people (the dogs). I looked into it and learned that Jesus was on special mission to share the word with the Jews now and then the gentiles later. He was simply saying that it was not fair to take time and lessons away from the Jews in front of him and get distracted with a different mission at this time. However, the gentile lady remained persistent and even broke the law of that day to go to Jesus and beg for his help. Through her persistent faith, Jesus rewarded her and gave her what she had asked. When she says even the dogs eat the scraps from their master’s table, she was saying that she would take anything he was willing to give to her even if it was leftovers. She was hungry and if scraps were what she got, she would beg until she got even a taste of the food the master had.

  • Jesus had compassion for those who showed endurance

Matthew 15:32 (NIV):” Jesus called his disciples to him and said, ‘I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and nothing to eat. I do not want to send them away hungry, or they may collapse on the way.'”

To me, this talks about the people who have been faithful in listening to the word and following His lead but have not seen breakthrough or are suffering through their current circumstances and are becoming weak. Jesus has compassion for these people and wants to give them not only what they need but more! He wants to fill them up, make them strong again and give them enough leftovers to share with others!

 

25 Days of December: Matthew Chapter 14

Hi guys 🙂 Welcome to Day 11 of our series I call, “25 Days of December” where we are studying the book of Matthew, chapters 4-28 in hopes you are able to find some “soul food” during this season of busyness and distraction!

During this series I will be mostly referencing The Message and NIV translations, but will occasionally reference biblehub.com where many translations can be found.

In order to respect your time and holiday vacation, I will go ahead and get started!

Main ideas to be discussed today are:

  • King Herod
  • Feeding five thousand
  • Walking on water

 

  • King Herod

Matthew 14:3-12 (The Message) tells the story of why John the Baptist was beheaded: “Herod had arrested John, put him in chains, and sent him to prison to placate Herodias, his brother Phillip’s wife. John had provoked Herod by naming his relationship with Herodias “adultery.” Herod wanted to kill him, but he was afraid because so many people revered John as a prophet of God. But at his birthday celebration, he got his chance. Herodias’s daughter provided the entertainment, dancing for the guests. She swept Herod away. In his drunken enthusiasm, he promised her on oath anything she wanted. Already coached by her mother, she was ready: “give me, served up on a platter, the head of John the Baptizer.: That sobered the king up fast. Unwilling to lose face with his guests, he did it – ordered John’s head cut off and presented to the girl on a platter. She in turn gave it to her mother. Later, John’s disciples got the body, gave it a reverent burial, and reported to Jesus.”

This is deep. So many things going on here! Adultery, fear of being found out, revenge, peer pressure, manipulation, murder, and so many more. We may think this is pretty far fetched, but is it? It may not always end in murder, but adultery is all around us even if we are unaware. People stopping at nothing to make sure their secrets are not found out. Going to great lengths to seek revenge on someone who brought light to the truth at your expense. The unfortunate results of giving into peer pressure. People manipulating people in order to get what they want. What can we take from this? Well…..the person behind this whole scene is the very king, himself. Don’t always believe that because someone holds a “leader” title, they have pure motives! We are all human and we all sin. Do not place people on a pedestal that they don’t deserve to be put on!

 

  • Feeding five thousand

Matthew 14:16-21 (The Message): But Jesus said, ‘There is no need to dismiss them. You give them supper.’ ‘All we have are five loaves of bread and two fish,’ they said. Jesus said, ‘Bring them here.’ Then he had the people sit on the grass. He took the five loaves and two fish, lifted his face to heaven in prayer, blessed, broke and gave the bread to the disciples. The disciples then gave the food to the congregation. They all ate their fill. They fathered twelve baskets of leftovers. About five thousand were fed.”

We have all heard this story of the bread and fish being multiplied. I remember it from Sunday school, but I always thought it was about the miracle behind the food. What I didn’t realize until tonight is that this is a metaphor! If the little food they had is the little bit of service we provide in God’s name, all we must do is pray a blessing over our ministry and it will be multiplied to feed the thousands! Our “ministry” does not have to be a big building with a fancy name! We serve in our ministry each time we share our story or help the homeless person sitting in the cold. We are all called to do different things and if we truly believe that we have a purpose and we walk in that, our efforts will be multiplied and go on to serve more and more people!! I don’t think there is any greater reward than that!

  • Walking on water

Matthew 14:29-31 (NIV): “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”

Two things here:

  1. Peter, through faith, was able to walk on water but when he started to fear he was no longer able. Not only is that pretty awesome to be able to do such a thing as walk on water (see where faith can take us?), but the first hint of fear prevented him from “walking” in that miracle any longer. In the same way that we must learn how powerful faith is, we must also learn how powerful FEAR is!
  2. Another thing, that sometimes gets neglected in this story, is the fact that Jesus didn’t hesitate for one second to save Peter from the waves he threw himself into. Peter, with his lack of faith, started to drown in the waves and Jesus didn’t punish him for it or ask questions first- he saved him from his own mess first, then asked questions. Like parents, letting their children make mistakes then discussing the situation with them in hopes of highlighting the learning moment. Jesus knows we are human and we will not walk in 100% faith all the time. He does encourage us to have faith, but is also there to save us when we have failed to have that faith.

God’s Grace and Direction in a Time of Great Sadness

There are thousands of “my ex did me wrong” stories out there, but this one is different. This one ends with God’s grace and direction. Please join me in my first attempt at telling this story in text.

I’ll skip over our relationship and why it didn’t work out. I’ll even spare you the details of the aftermath, disagreements and court battles. This story begins in July of 2014, when our daughter was halfway through her 4th year of life. Her precious and fragile 4th year. She was on an overnight visit with her dad and his girlfriend over the summer and everything seemed to be going fine. I am a mother and always have anxieties while my children are out of my care, but things seemed to be going OK.

Until……

I woke up early one morning to NINE missed calls from the local POLICE! Thoughts immediately started racing through my head. I was wondering if my sister and her husband were OK. Was it my mom or dad? Please tell me no one got in a car accident! For some reason, I just trusted that my daughter was OK with her dad because if she wasn’t, her dad would have called me!

I can’t even tell you what the voicemail from the Police said except, “we have made sure your daughter is taken care of and you can call us back to come pick her up.” WHAT?!?!? OMG omg omg. It took several phone calls, a bunch of panic and some adrenaline driven actions to figure out where she was and how to get to her.

Of course, at the Cops attempt to keep me calm, they gave me a pretty watered down version of the story and assured me everything was OK. They told me that her dad had attempted to hang himself (before being cut down by his girlfriend that just happened to show up at the right time) and that he was recovering at the local hospital.They assured me that my daughter was asleep for the whole thing. She was in the care of his girlfriend at their house.

You guys, I can’t even explain the following weeks very well because it all turned into a blur of sleepless nights, nightmares (for both her and I), tons of phone calls, counseling sessions, lots of investigating on my part and a large number of prayers. As time went on, I learned through my poor little girl’s counseling sessions that she had seen the whole thing. I also learned that there was domestic violence involved, lots of alcohol and physical force from the cops that was needed to resolve this case. All the while, I was being told that she was asleep and didn’t see a thing.

For a mother to learn that her precious 4 year old daughter not only witnessed such a horrific event, but potentially could have been left alone out in the middle of the country with no one to care for her and no idea how to get a hold of anyone (had her dad succeeded in his attempt) just totally dropped me to my knees. I think you can imagine the feelings I was having about myself as a mother. Guilt and helplessness being among the top contenders!

Fast forward through short supervised visitations with her dad, his time away recovering in a hospital and plenty of court sessions and phone calls……we came down to the day that would change everything. After a 9 month battle in court, I pulled up to the courthouse parking lot preparing myself to walk in and have a judge tell me what would be happening moving forward. I had no control over the situation. I was at a place of no feeling. No tears, no anger, no arguments, no nothing. I felt like I was floating in space, no connection to anyone or anything. Just there…..floating. I was terrified when the judge gave us his ruling. Her dad had earned back every other weekend visitation including overnights!!!!

Needless to say, the next year or so was a very rough road. It was full of potty accidents, emotional roller coasters, night terrors and a very unknown dark time for me. I continued to pray, because I knew God was the ONLY ONE who could pull us out of this. Can I also tell you that her grandpa (her dad’s dad) passed away just 5 short months after the suicide attempt, throwing her dad into an even deeper spiral and adding to my daughter’s sadness and confusion.

Where is the grace and direction in this story? It appeared out of nowhere, just like God loves to do. It was May, 2 years later……things had been going fairly decent with her visits and we had finally made some progress on her emotional healing. However, this harsh and relentless world wasn’t done with us yet. My husband was laid off at his 10 year career and we were about to lose everything. GOD didn’t stop there either! He gave us a phone call that would change everything! Family in North Carolina wanted us to move near them so they could help us out! They had a job, house, everything. (I need to write a post about that blessing of a move too!) We would be moving from Colorado all the way to North Carolina.

Problem is: how will my daughter see her dad? How will he react? Will he approve of the move? Will we be able to get through court before we have to move? Everything was back to the place of the unknown! Me floating in space again. I made the very hard call to her father and to my surprise he approved of the move. WOW. Of course, we didn’t agree on visitation or any of the details and if we wanted the judge to decide it could be anywhere from 6 months to a year before we reached a decision, meaning my daughter and I would have to stay back while the rest of our family moved on.

God spoke to me and instructed me to show grace as he has shown us and to have a sit down lunch with her dad with a plan to work things out. This was a long shot. We hadn’t agreed on anything other than the fact that we both loved our daughter up until that point. Do you want to know how that lunch ended? We came up with a full agreement, signed papers and he even bought my lunch! Now if that isn’t God, I don’t know what is. In that moment I learned that when we are in our times of most uncertainty, we need only turn to God and react how He would. God is a God of forgiveness, grace, second chances, love, kindness, selfless acts and transparency. He is a God who heals broken hearts and reacts out of love, NO MATTER the situation!!

As of today, her dad has plans to travel across the country in January and attend a father-daughter dance for her girl scouts. When I tell this story to people or they were there in the thick of it, they don’t understand my actions. They don’t understand my trust or forgiveness or how much I “allow” him to see our daughter. Truth of the matter is: she is not my daughter, she is God’s child. I have been given the honor of caring for her on this Earth and I will try with everything I have to care for her like God would.

 

 

When the number of years you’ve lived and the number of houses you’ve lived in are the same.

I’ll start with my high school writing assignments. You know the very memorable ones you keep in scrapbooks? The ones that ask you to collect memories, traditions, family trees etc and compile them into one big beautiful portfolio of your life up until that point? Those ones.

Some of the assignments were easy for me and I loved them! Especially the ones about personality, hobbies or dreams. I have always had an interest in what makes people different, and still love it! The assignments I had trouble with, however, were the ones about memories. The ones where you had to pick your favorite family tradition or describe the home you grew up in. I struggled with these because, like the title suggests, I didn’t feel like I had that.

Now- this isn’t pity party time where I tell you about how awful my upbringing was. I had many wonderful things about my childhood, including but not limited to the times my sister and I would jump and play on big round hay bails til the sun went down, or the walks we would take with my grandma down back country roads to collect pop cans. I also have memories of going with my dad to work for 3 weeks on “the big truck” all across the country, eating at the buffets and taking pictures of all the beautiful places we visited. I’ll never forget how good my mom was at stuffing stockings! In fact, there aren’t many big presents I even remember but I remember almost every stocking I ever opened!

The part I felt I missed out on, was growing up in one house where all of these wonderful memories took place under one roof with the same close family members and close friends. I was envious of the fact that many of my friends got to experience both parents under the same roof (my parents separated when I was in 7th grade). I would watch as a friend from school would move and just be totally taken over with emotions of missing their house, neighbors, school and friends. I didn’t understand it. Moving came easy to me. It was like it was just another thing you do along with eating, drinking and going to school everyday. I became so used to moving, that I put up a wall towards people and they became acquaintances to me instead of close friends. I was simply preparing for the next move.

It wasn’t until I had children of my own that I came to see how this effected me. Because for the first time, I experienced an outpouring of sincerely uncontrollable happy emotions towards another person. I felt what it was like to be so close to someone that you would do anything for them. What hurt my kids, hurt me. What made them happy, made me tear up out of happiness for them.On the other hand, I saw what my mom saw when she looked at us kids. I experienced the feeling of not knowing the best way to raise them. I felt what it was like to have to make tough decisions even if my kids didn’t understand it. I had to go through tough circumstances that I hoped my young kids would never remember. I felt the feeling of comparing myself to other moms and wondering if I was doing a good enough job. For the first time, I understood my mom.

It was during our cross country move from Colorado to North Carolina this past summer, with my (mostly) happy little family of 5, that I saw my craving for a “home” burst wide open into a tangible dream! It took heartache, lots of it, to get to this point of making such a large move but I couldn’t be more thankful. The most ironic part of the whole thing is that because of this move, my husband and I are far away from anything we have ever known and away from 90% of our family. I have learned many, many things about myself during this journey (and it’s just beginning!)

Things I have learned:

Watching my husband get to spend time with his dad (his parents divorced when he was around Kindergarten age), is top 5 most amazing and humbling things I think I have ever experienced! My heart just explodes with happiness each time I get to see their relationship blossom again after 20 years!

Although, moving all of the time was hard, it also allowed me to experience many different places and types of people. I consider myself a very open person because of this. I don’t see skin color, political views, sexual preferences or circumstances when I see people. I see the person for who they are- a broken person doing their best- just like the rest of us!

Being alone and away from family is extremely hard but teaches you so much about yourself! It has also taught me that being apart does not make you distant, it makes you closer! I am far closer to my friends from CO and to my mother specifically since our move, than I ever was when I had them living down the street.

Making a choice to put your own spouse and kids in front of your sibllings, parents and extended family is a choice to break generational patterns. It is when you start over in a new place and are left with no choice but to be close to the people under your own roof, that you start to see the value in those relationships!

The past has no control over you when you choose to leave it behind and focus on the present. Maybe there were too many memories there? Maybe it was feeling like I was stuck in an ever revolving door of circumstances presenting themselves over and over again just with different faces on them. Maybe it was being too close to grudges I’ve held a large portion of my life. Whatever the reason, getting away from my past and starting over one last time was enough to ignite a flame inside of me that won’t easily be distinguished!

Finally, I learned that God is the author of our stories and whatever plans we think we have for our lives are no match for the plan God has already set aside for us. Just when we start to feel absolutely hopeless, he shows up and makes good out of it. He gives us hope!

 

 

What Freedom Really Looks Like

Following a weekend of celebrating the brave Veterans of our country, it only seems fitting to really reflect on the idea of FREEDOM.

I had a question to ask myself this morning and it was this: If we live in a FREE country and we serve a FREE God, why do we feel so UN-free? Imprisoned, hopeless, inferior, guilty, shameful, suffocated, and overwhelmed were some common themes that seemed to come to mind when I think of a lot of Americans these days.

After talking with God on my morning walk, he left me with this……Every negative feeling we feel can be traced back to one of our needs not being met.

I narrowed it down to 5 needs we must have met to be as successful as we can be here on Earth:

  • Survival (water, food, shelter etc)
  • Faith (something greater than us, quiet time)
  • Love/Relationships (significant other, family, friends)
  • Self Esteem (confidence, self worth)
  • Personality (interests, hobbies, fun)

God also clearly defined for me 3 ways in which we react when our needs are not met or are met poorly.

  • Emotional Reaction (anger, sadness, jealousy, greed, selfishness etc)
  • Put up a wall/Shut Down
  • Find a vice/Numbness

Thank you Lord for this clarity! If I can sit down at the table with God (as people do when they cherish a relationship) and just have coffee with him and bring him my hurts, I believe I can put it in one of the 5 categories of unmet needs and hopefully identify how I am trying to meet it with the 3 reactions. So you may think, although this list is interesting, what do I do once I’ve figured all of this out? How do I fix it? How do I get closer to feeling FREE?!

Through my own recent experiences, and a few little whispers from God, I’m thinking some answers may lie in the fruits of the spirit! Hang in there for a second while I try to make this connection for you. If we root ourselves in the holy spirit- we will bear the fruits of the spirit which include:

  • love
  • joy
  • peace
  • patience
  • kindness
  • goodness
  • faithfulness
  • gentleness and
  • self control (Galatians 5:22-23).

I have had times through my suffering, though, where I don’t know how to “root myself in the holy spirit,” know how to hear from God or wonder why he’s not answering. I’m learning that when I’m in that moment, if I turn to one of these fruits and try to apply them to the situation……that I start to receive answers! And blessings on top of that!

If I choose to treat other people (especially those who have hurt me) with love, patience, kindness, self control……(insert any of the above)…..I start to see it cycle back around to me and I start to hear God’s whispers again! I feel like sometimes I just need some concrete steps I can take to give myself a little bit of relief instead of always relying on this huge overwhelming idea that there is a God up there listening and then trying to figure out how to hear him, when my physical eyes and ears try to test me. Am I right? This is me, being totally raw with you guys. I can’t pretend like it’s 100% easy to be a Christian all the time. Our flesh and just the nature of being human, sure do love to test us and make us ask questions! I believe God wants us to experience FREEDOM in such a way that we can be open and transparent with our friends and love God and grow in him together! I pray you are able to feel some relief and experience true FREEDOM through some of these strategies I’ve been trying lately!