June 14, 2013
My sister got married about 7 years ago and looking at all the pictures from her wedding and reception, one of my favorites has always been the picture of her and our dad dancing. They are looking right at each other, smiling, and the love between them practically jumps right out of the photo. Then, a couple of weeks ago, it was my turn to dance with dad at my reception. It was no different than Emily’s picture. While we were dancing, dad looked at me and said, “well, are you happy?” Of course I answered yes and he replied with, “good…that’s all I want.”
I thought about dad’s love for us. It is unconditional. We can do whatever, go wherever, but his love has never once wavered. He has listened and put up with the drama and emotions that a house of girls has brought. He has loved us when it seemed that nobody else did or could. In my 30 years, I have never heard him raise his voice. He has been a role model, an encourager, a help, and a friend. He has been our dad first, and our pastor second. He stands on his beliefs, but has let us sort through our own.
His love for Emily and I is so great, but it pales in comparison to God’s love for us. Just like dad, God’s love is unconditional and doesn’t waver. He listens to all our problems and complaints. He sees something in all of us that is lovable: Something that nobody else can see or know. He doesn’t yell or berate us when we make mistakes. He only picks us up and helps us find our footing again. He is our encourager, our motivation, our friend, our support. He is everything. He wants us to enjoy life while serving Him. He provides us with blessings that not one of us deserve, but I think every now and then He’ll whisper to us, “Well, are you happy? Cause that’s all I want.”
“…There you saw how the Lord your God carried you, as a father carries his son…”
Deuteronomy 1:31 NIV
June 9, 2013
A couple weeks ago, I was driving along and came upon a bird that standing in the middle of the road. I kept on going, assuming it would move, but when I got closer to it, it seemed to hunker down and brace itself. It sort of puffed out its chest, pulled its wings in real tight, and waited: anticipating the rush of wind from my passing car. I passed the bird, swerving a little so I wouldn’t hit it, and looked back in my rearview mirror. The bird was still standing in the center of the road. It was obviously hurt or something was wrong, or else it would have flown away before my car passed it.
Immediately it came to my mind what I’ve heard my dad say a million times when preaching…when you’ve done all you can do and can’t do anymore, just stand. Just like that little bird, rushing winds pass us by in life: winds that try to blow us here or there. We are already down for the count…something was said that hurt us, we lost a few steps with the Lord, or whatever else causes us to feel low. It’s in those times that we have to just brace ourselves and simply stand. Sure, we’ll feel the rushing wind around us, and it might rock us a little, but we just have to stand.
I'm not really the avid "bird watcher", but I was so blessed by the little bird and I’ve thought a lot about it since. During trying times, sure we all pray that we can walk away or fly, but sometimes the Lord doesn’t answer our prayer that way. Sometimes He merely provides us with enough strength just to stand. And in that moment, it’s enough.
“ You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you…”
2 Chronicles 20:17 NIV
June 2, 2013
I’m nowhere close to a “fashionista”, and never have claimed to be, but I like clothes. I like getting dressed and wearing makeup and fixing my hair. I like to feel presentable when I go places. I’ve never been more aware of my appearance though, than for my wedding.
Months have gone into picking just the right dress. Finding the perfect shoes and jewelry to compliment it. Choosing a veil that looks good with the dress. Going for trial runs for my hair. Choosing the perfect shade of lipstick. And the list goes on. This was the most important day: the day I would present myself, not only to 200 friends and family members, but to my husband, and God. I thought about how anxious I was and how my eye focused on every tiny detail, because I was on show…I was scheduled to be center of attention(which I’m not always too fond of, lol).
My mind wandered to Queen Esther. How she must have felt when she prepared herself to go before, not before a crowd of people, but simply one man…the King. How she must have spent time carefully choosing the right outfit and making sure that not one tiny detail of her appearance was left undone. She was presenting herself to the King.
Every day, we present ourselves to the King. He’s not just any old King, but He’s the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. Our Savior and Redeemer. It does us no good to only care about our outward appearance when we go before Him. He cares about what’s in our hearts. Just as we put time and effort into our appearance for big events, we should use the same energy on our hearts when we present ourselves to Him. Hopefully, we’ve spent enough time working our hearts that when the King sees us standing before Him, He is pleased.
“On the third day Esther put on her royal robes and stood in the inner court of the palace, in front of the king’s hall. The king was sitting on his royal throne in the hall, facing the entrance. 2 When he saw Queen Esther standing in the court, he was pleased with her…”
Ester 5:1-2 NIV
May 26, 2013
Memorial Day is bittersweet. It makes you grieve for the individuals who gave their lives for our freedoms and for their loved ones left behind, but it also stirs up feelings of determination and purpose. The verse “greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends” has somewhat set the example of service for our country. Men and women are laying their lives down everyday across the world to protect ours and provide us with freedom. As we remember these individuals, we also need to remember the One who laid His life down for all humanity.
He didn’t die on that cross for it to be in vain. The after-effects can still be felt. We have freedom because of His sacrifice: we can choose to worship how we want, we can freely read and carry our Bibles, we can attend church without being afraid. We also have life because of His sacrifice: the life we have through Him isn’t just here, but it’s for eternity.
It’s easy to “forget” things…it just happens, it’s natural. But “remembering” something is a conscious decision that we make. We, as Christians, need to consciously decide to remember every day, that we are in a battle. The battle we face is good versus evil. We need to demonstrate our loyalty, our faithfulness, and our obedience to our Commander. There are people who are enslaved by sin and to be victorious in this battle means that we have won a soul for the Lord.
I’ve never felt the call to enlist myself for my country and I truly appreciate the ones who do feel it and heed to that call. But I felt the enlistment call for His service a long time ago and I am trying my best to suit up every day for that battle.
“Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”
Ephesians 6:11-17 KJV
I pledge allegiance to the flag, of the United States of America. And to the republic, for which it stands, one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
I pledge allegiance to the Christian flag, and to the Savior for whose kingdom it stands. One brotherhood, uniting all Christians, in service and in love.
May 19, 2013
“I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.”
Psalm 121:1 KJV
I have always liked this verse and have proven it to be true time and time again. When you think about it, if you are looking up to the hills, you are lower than the hills, or in a valley. Isn’t that so true? When we go through a valley or just feel overwhelmed by life or situations, we tend to look a little higher…up toward our help, because we know where it comes from.
I thought about this verse a little different though. The battle of “Mountain vs. Valley” has been a common theme for a long time, usually with the mountain coming out with the win. People associate the mountain with victory or peace and rest. However, when you think about mountains, they are steep, rocky, and difficult to climb. The journey to the top is winding and sometimes dangerous. It is the mountain that causes shadow on the valley.
Then, there is the valley…associated with hard times, disappointments, dark days, etc. I’m not saying that’s not true, but what if we think about it in a different light. The valley is where you see beautiful rivers flowing and lush grass. The valley isn’t necessarily the difficult part of life, it’s the commonplace. It’s the ordinary everyday things and situations. It’s what we are used to. The difficult part of life isn’t the valley; the difficult part is the climb up the mountain. The climb gets hard. There are obstacles to face, split second decisions to be made, and we have to hold on pretty tight. We’re so comfortable with life at the bottom that when God gears us up for a climb, it’s a daunting task. He removes us from what we know and places us in different situations, which are out of our comfort zone. He wants us to navigate the obstacles, obey Him and get a little higher, a little closer to Him.
Anyone who has ever been on a climb up anything knows that when you are in the midst of it, you always look ahead, up. If you look back, you might get scared or discouraged with your progress. The Bible urges us to look up when we are on our climb. There are different, new, and sometimes better things waiting on us at the top. It isn’t until we reach the top that we look out and see where we were that makes us realize how far we came, simply by fixing our eyes “up”. So enjoy life in the valley. Enjoy the beauty of your days there and remember it’s not always a battle down there. But when the Lord asks you to climb, keep your eyes on Him…it will be rough, rocky, and sometimes you might want to give up, but don’t. The view from the top will be worth it! So in my opinion, the battle of “Mountain vs. Valley” is a hands down tie, every time!