Am I Generous?

June 16th, 2017

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Many long years ago when my hubby was about to graduate from Bible college, a friend of a friend gave our family a generous gift of $500. Back then, money was tight. Seminary families are not living the high life if you’ve ever been curious. Matter of fact, to us…that $500 was more like $5000 to us in today’s money. It was a huge blessing and we were blown away by his generosity. He had no reason to gift us that money but he did and it taught me a huge lesson in generosity.

Give…. even if it costs you something.

For most of our married life we’ve been on a strict budget with our money. That’s probably normal for most folks living out the American dream. Still, we’ve tried to be generous with what God has given us. You’ve probably heard of or been the recipient by now of someone PAYING IT FORWARD. One of my daughter’s has this gift and loves to pay it forward every chance she gets. It’s a wonderful way to love on someone and show generosity for no reason at all other than your heart is over-flowing with kindness for those outside of yourself.

Being generous doesn’t always involve paying for someone’s coffee or hamburger in a drive-thru. We can be generous with our time, words, actions, attitudes and more.

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God reminded me this morning to be more generous in how I love the people He has put in my life. I pondered over it for a few minutes and came to the conclusion that I could use to be a little more giving when it comes to loving people. It’s easy to say you love someone when all is right in the relationship….but when you feel slighted or overhear a snarky comment it can be a challenge. Still, God expects us to love on in spite of how the other folks behave. Always. It’s important to remember to be a generous FORGIVER!

A good lesson for me who loves to love with abandon.

The truth of the matter is this — life is tough. Don’t make it harder on yourself or others when you can be a cushion of generosity. Love when it stings a little, give when it costs ya and spread generosity around like you’re a millionaire!

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Now go on, be generous! Give it all away!

What’s Important?

May 3rd, 2017

let it be love

The older I get the more I come face to face with who I am and what my purpose has been while living on this earth. I’ve been here 50 something years which means I’ve had plenty of time to get some important things accomplished. However, every day it seems as though I’m bombarded by voices telling me that I’ve fallen short and that I’ve wrecked some of the most important assignments God has given me.

As a follower of Christ, I really really really want to be faithful to what God has for me. I don’t want to waste time (yet, I have wasted so much selfishly) nor do I want to be superficial to anyone needing to see Christ in me. For years, I’ve thought foolishly that by being real to people (my friends & family) I was portraying a truthful look at what walking the Christian faith means. Fall down, get back up. Live forgiven. Do better.

I don’t know what God is doing in my life these days. My life feels like it’s on a perpetual high-speed wooden roller-coaster and I cannot get off when it screeches into the station for more passengers. Just more crazy thrill-seeking people hop on and I’m still strapped in for ONE MORE WILD SCREAMING RIDE! Like I can handle it.

I’m not really handling it well. I go up with my emotions and then crash down like a violent wreck that no one walks away from. Maybe that sounds a bit dramatic (remember, it’s my life not yours – don’t judge). In spite of the very real and frustrating reality of my husband’s unemployment for the last 8+ months (September 9th 2016, not that I’m counting!!!) I’ve got bigger issues that are nagging me and pulling me towards sadness.

I’m at a real turning point in my life. It’s a “here on out” kind of time and what I do from now on is just as important as what I was doing when I was tucking kids in at night and making chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast. Only this time, I have a lot more freedom. No one is relying on me for guidance or protection or personal care. Matter of fact, they don’t even want me to offer a suggestion or opinion.

After a lifetime of parenting….they reach a point of NOT EVER LISTENING TO YOU AGAIN. That’s cool. I get it.

I’m faced with the question, what’s important?

Not all the things that I placed value on truly mattered. Some did, but not all. I mean, who cares about tons of home-cooked meals? Or spiffy, yummy smelling clean clothes? Those are just perks. Not true necessities. Kids who ate drive-thru meals and repeat wore so-so clothing are fine people and function perfectly well in society. Right?

I had a thought bubble pop up last night while I was loading the dishwasher – I wasn’t always very nice to my kids. As soon as the thought hit me, I felt a stab of regret. I was mean. Not all the time but enough that it hurts me to reflect on it. Maybe all moms are jerks at some point or another. I honestly don’t know how anyone purposefully hurts their kids (I did not do that…. but there were times I wasn’t as loving or kind as my kids probably needed me to be). I’m sorry for it.

Still, what’s important from me as a mom? To be nice? To be fair? To make homemade mac-n-cheese? To show love? To give of my time and energy? To let them make their own choices? To pick who they want to be or where they want to go? To butt out? To zip my lip and not point out weaknesses or celebrate strengths?

I’m here to tell you, all of that is important. Afterall, I am standing on the other side now and looking back….I can see clearly what worked and what didn’t. Instead of relishing all the things I did wrong – I think it’s important to focus on what I did right. I can’t help what anyone else does with their life (even my own kids) but I can tell you that if you don’t try your best to make an impact on the people in your life — God will hold both you and me accountable for it.

I chose to parent my kids under the headship of Jesus Christ and I would do it again. If my kids have children, I will continue to teach the love and forgiveness of Jesus to my grandchildren. It’s in me and it will always be until the day I die. I’m a Christian (a sinner saved by grace) and I will not waste my time or His while I’m here on earth being silent about my faith. If I’ve learned anything in 50 years it’s that life is fleeting and there are no guarantees of a tomorrow. Being nice and not offending someone with the gospel of Jesus Christ is dangerous. While I don’t want to live with earthly regret…. knowing I’ve shied away from sharing Christ with someone who dies and goes to hell is a consequence beyond regret.

It’s important to do the good work of Jesus as a parent, friend & stranger. This world doesn’t just need “nice” people it needs the faithful who care about the eternal destination of those around them.

What’s important to you?

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Do This….or Something Better

April 12th, 2017

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There are prayers for help and then there are beat down heaven’s doors begging for mercy kind of help prayers. I’ve done both. Over the last season of my life, I’ve mulled over my circumstance (much like anyone would do in my position) and I’ve sought God’s direction for what’s felt like impending doom once another month comes and goes…..and my husband is still unemployed.

How long, Lord? How long can this go on?

It’s only human to ask and I know God isn’t the least bit surprised at my human nature pondering. I’m terribly adept at questioning every little thing, just ask my family. I’m a questioner. I question. I analyze and roll every detail of the answer around just in case there’s a scenario that could switch things up to equal something else. I cover every base.

You’re welcome, world.

Still, here I sit in pretty much the same boat I was in back in September. Only this time I’m closer to a wedding of one of my daughters’, at the end of my school year and any subbing days I might get and filled with a whole lot more cynicism than a person should possess. What next?

Bad bad bad. Never ask that. More trouble coming your way, fool.

This Sunday is Easter and the sermon last week was so good that I left church with a brand new perspective on the damage done to my heart over the course of this last year. Betrayal. No one knew betrayal the way Jesus did. His experience with it opened my whiny complaining heart to understanding that I CAN GET OVER what’s been done to me. I can forgive and I can move on. I can trust that it’s all part of the journey to where God wants me to be eventually.

God never leaves us where we are, He’s always pushing us forward.

So, back to all the praying and begging God to work a miracle in my life. All these months, He’s listened to me. I’ve blown my horn loud and obnoxiously for Him to hear every little detail of what I need and when I need it by. He is so gracious.

I’ve not gone hungry…but, I’ve worried about how to pay for groceries.
I’ve not gone without a home or electricity…but, I’ve played magic tricks with my funds to pay both.
I’ve not had to sell my belongings…but, I’ve learned to be content with everything I own when I’d really like to purchase something special.
I’ve kept my dignity…but, the devil has shown up almost daily to remind me just how pathetic it is to be jobless and living with the fear of it never ending.

Oh, how gracious my God still is.

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In all that, He still listens to me. He above all knows my every need and He is at work. My weak faith or belief that He’s going to do something bigger and better is tainted by my lack of understanding just how big God really is in the great scheme of things.

HE IS SO BIG, Y’ALL!

I do not have the mental capacity to understand all that God is and will be…but I know that all I have to do is ask and He will go exceedingly above and beyond whatever it is to answer me.

My new prayer?

Lord,

Do this…..or something better.

Amen

Good People are Sinners

March 8th, 2017

broken heart

I need help. I have a condition that cripples me from living the fullness of my life as God promises. It’s called human being thinking. Also known as worldly thinking.

What is human or worldly thinking? Well, in a nutshell…it’s believing that I’m the only person I need to worry about pleasing or satisfying. It’s thinking that I owe no one or thing any allegiance but my self.

The truth is, I’m not qualified to be my own God and Judge.

    My heart is wonky.

It’s dirty, full of sin and ready & willing to turn to whatever feels good instead of running hard & fast after what is Holy. One of the biggest lies we tell ourselves is that one about being a GOOD person.

I’m a good person … therefore, don’t judge my decisions or choices. They’re mine, butt out!

The problem with that is that a lot of good people end up in hell. Being “good” isn’t what offers you and me a place in eternity with God.

be holy

While I believe there are good people in the world, I know without a shadow of a doubt that not one of them is perfect or spotless in the eyes of God. It just isn’t possible. Only Jesus Christ has the ability to be that. We are liars, thieves, cheats and more. We trick ourselves by justifying the sin in our lives and that’s where we get the uncanny ability to overlook faults or weaknesses that make us everything we never want to be (or to be called), wrong.

Look, sin is a human condition. Not one person gets to walk through this world without falling into its hole. We are all sinners. You, me, your grandma, your pastor, your best friends’ Sunday school teacher….. every. single. person. sins.

The problem we have isn’t just admitting it. It’s admitting it and believing we need a Holy God to forgive us. To repent and or change.

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Which brings me back to thinking like a human being. There are times when my head wants to gloss over what I know is wrong in my life. I can make whatever is ugly look and feel really lovely if I work at it long enough. Except, the Holy Spirit never lets me enjoy it truly because it’s genuinely gross and disgusting. It doesn’t belong where I’m trying to force it to be.

During this season of Lent, I decided (secretly, between God & Me) to give up something that was literally owning me. It’s not something that others would find bad or unhealthy…but it’s something that I know God doesn’t want for me. When I decided to remove it from my life, I was driving down the road in my car when a simple thought came to my mind that said, “Let it go!”.

Now, that seems simple. But, it had a great hold on my every day life. I liked it. I planned my day around it. It was ruling me. Once I decided to get rid of it, it left. I haven’t longed for it, I haven’t wished for it, I haven’t even tried to figure out a way around getting back to it.

It’s not something I want in my life anymore.

That’s exactly what God desires for us in every aspect of our lives. He wants us to CHOOSE HOLY over worldly. His plan for us never involves sin. We do that to ourselves. We lock ourselves into sin habits or sin thinking. Then, our hearts twist up the truth with the lies we tell our brains and the result is a lifestyle that doesn’t match up with God’s plan for us. But, then….there’s grace.

If there ever were a poster child for GRACE, there you’ll see me.

See, there’s nothing so bad….not one sin that God isn’t ready and willing to forgive us for and to help us overcome in our lives. He is in the forgiveness business. He sent His Son because HE KNEW we would need that kind of sacrificial love and mercy.

Listen, if you’re believing the lies you tell yourself that you don’t need God or His ways….you’re wrong. You do, I do … we all do. He knows that. He’s ready and willing to turn you around. Don’t buy into what the world is selling. It’s cheap and it’s costly all at the same time.

You’re worth more than that.

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Showers of Blessing

February 27th, 2017

I’m in deep with some big firsts. My baby whose only 11 (in my head) was honored with a beautiful Bridal shower this past weekend.

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See what I’m talking about? She’s just a little punkin!

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The truth is that she’s in love with a wonderful young man who has no idea that she is still a baby in our hearts. He just sees the young woman of his dreams and that’s pretty much how it’s supposed to be.

We raise them, watch them grow and learn, invest in them as humans and set them free to start the whole process over again in their own lives.

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When I snapped this photo, I had no idea I was sitting beside the two most amazing young women in my life ALL GROWN UP! This is real life! I’m a mom to women who can do all the things women do. I AM SO PROUD OF THEM! Not only are they beautiful creatures on the outside, they are both unique and incredible people on the inside. My heart beats wildly for all the joy and excitement of their futures.

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For Gates, she’s inheriting a new family and they’re wonderful people too. Her new “sisters” are a treasure. They love her already and showed her just how much by hosting her very first bridal shower. Gifts and food, meeting new friends and family, fun games and sweet stories…. all of the ways you begin a new life together.

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This is how it all begins.

8 8 more days until I DO!!!

When God Isn’t Your God

February 23rd, 2017

I get so fed up with the garbage I see all around me. Just today, I watched a video of a BRAVE teenager speaking out against an article published on Teen Vogue about gift ideas for the friend whose had an abortion.

What the?

Seriously! World, stoooooooooooop!

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Look, when a teenager has more human decency than an adult writer blabbing about disgusting gift ideas to help cheer on the brave person who killed her baby – we catch a glimpse of a world that STILL HAS HOPE!

The world needs more Autumn’s in it. God give us more young men & women who see wrong for what it is, wrong!

I can’t get all in a tizzy! The world is just acting like the world and the people who walk and talk and write garbage such as that don’t know and love the God that I do. The God who created this world and all the people in it doesn’t accept abortion as an answer. However, He will repeatedly wrap His loving and forgiving arms around the person who chooses it, every time they come to Him for mercy.

My biggest issue with understanding how people justify their choices, lifestyles and lack of beliefs links directly to their faith or lack thereof.

See, a lot of people say they believe in God. A lot of people claim to be “Christian” and yet live like hell. Or better than that, live exactly however the heck they want to live. You know, as if there are NO CONSEQUENCES for their choices.

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Here’s the dirty low-down. Not everyone who says they love God genuinely loves God. They love the idea of God. Otherwise, they’d live their lives completely different. It’s just a fact. Choosing to follow Christ with your whole heart and life is a huge decision. It’s a costly one too. Choosing to obey God and His rules (His Word) for your life will cause people to walk away. It will end relationships.

Being a Christian in today’s world is to risk being called every foul name in the book. Have you turned on the tv lately or scrolled through your Facebook or Twitter feed? Even your “friends” are making fun of believers and lovers of Jesus. Publicly admitting that you are a Christian can get you practically beat up these days.

So, why do your friends and mine act so vehemently ugly over yours/my faith? Because they haven’t experienced the Saul to Paul encounter with Him that’s changed their heart. For them, faith is a weak & unnecessary crutch that holds back real progress. They believe more in the world and it’s ever-changing hot topic agendas than a God who saves and will return someday for the faithful of this earth.

They’re just acting like humans. God isn’t their God, they’re the only God they need.

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Link to the video of Autumn the brave young teen who has the courage to call abortion wrong. Go HERE!