Sunday, September 17, 2017

No, No, No

"No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it."  1 Corinthians 10:13 (ESV)

I am sure we have all been around a two-year old who, in a moment of independence, screams, "No, No, No".  Of course, these times always seem to happen in the middle of a grocery store or during a church sermon.  It's always difficult to navigate through these situations, but eventually, the independence moves on and the sweet child returns.

Move forward 13 years and the independence returns.  Now, our child is a teenager and those words seem to return back to their vocabulary.  Maybe we are asking them to clean their rooms.  Maybe it is to attend a family function versus going out with friends.  Whatever the situation, the words of, "No, No, No" return, now in greater defiance.  Yes, we manage to navigate through these situations as well.

Funny, though, as we grow older, how those words become more difficult to say.  What was once so easy to come out of our mouths, even at a young age, becomes difficult.  Work asks for commitments and we say, "Yes"!  Friends ask for commitments and we say, "Yes"!  Family asks for commitments and we say, "Yes"!  Church asks for commitments and we say, "Yes"!  We are supposed to do good, correct?  We are supposed to help others, correct?  Yet, what happens when, by saying yes, we find ourselves over-extended, stressed to exhaustion, and feeling resentment each time the word "Yes" comes out of our mouths?

I have been in this situation multiple times.  I am certain that all of you may have found yourselves in these times as well.  It is so hard to rationalize saying No.  People come to us for a reason - because they need something, they need help.  That is why I love this verse so much.  We are tempted for many reasons to say yes in all situations.  Helping others makes US feel good.  There is a sense of pride that comes with "doing it all".  These are all common reactions.  Yet, when the"yes" overcomes us, we can fall into many negative behaviors that are not Christlike.

When I get overextended:
  • Sleep evades me
  • Happiness turns into constant seriousness
  • Worry takes over 
  • Resentment sets in
  • The tone of my voice can be bitter
God will never give us more than we can handle.  Many times, especially during times of trial, it feels like He does - but He always provides a way out - a light that shines on us.  The same happens when we get to the "no" point.  What am I supposed to say "NO" to Jesus?  Talk to our Jesus, let Him know your anguish and pain.  HE will tell you, He will provide you with the words.

  • "I wish I could, but my plate is a bit full right now.  I wouldn't do your request justice.  Maybe there is someone else on the church council that can assist."
  • "I would love to take on this work project.  Maybe you can assist me in prioritizing my work so I can ensure a quality job."
  • "Gee sis, I just can't get together this weekend - but let's make a date for next Wednesday".
Saying "no" can be difficult, especially for us "yes" people.  Yet, in can be freeing.  In saying no to certain things, we will be able to do the "yes" things with our full attention.  God doesn't want worry and resentment in our lives.  He will guide us to a less-stressed life with His power to say no!

Heavenly Father, I don't find it easy to say, "no".  I want to help others and be of aid.  Yet, when I over-extend myself, I know the stress of the situation can become unbearable.  Help me and guide me to go to you FIRST before saying YES.  Guide me to situations where I can say "no" with greater confidence and in love to all.  In your gracious name I pray, Amen.




Sunday, September 10, 2017

No Secrets

"Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight.  Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account."  Hebrews 4:13 (NIV)

We were sitting around the kitchen table with all the kids, now young adults.  We reminisced about days gone by and how those "teenage years" weren't exactly moments of heaven, for them or for us!  As each child shared things that were done "against the rules", there was a bit of a pride factor they has that us,  as parents, never found out about their secrets.  They had actually gotten away with going against the rules and us parents were not aware.

It made me think of my teenage years.  Certainly as a teenager, I as well, did things that I would be less than proud of and also didn't tell my parents (statute of limitations is up Mom!).  I guess, down deep, there was also a sense of pride that I had when I got away with breaking some rules.  Of course, there were plenty of times that I didn't get away with breaking the rules!  

Fast forward a few years (okay, quite a few years), to my life today.  Even today, there are thoughts that I have or sins I have committed that I think, "well, at least nobody is aware of those sins."  I breathe a sigh of relief and move on.  Yet, I don't move too far.  For I realize very quickly that there is someone that knows about those sins.  As in our verse for today, "Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight".  He knows everything that I do, everything that I say, and everything that I think.  Therefore, with God, there are no secrets!

No Secrets?  Don't we all wish that there were some secrets that don't need to be shared?  Maybe, but with God, there are No Secrets!  There is no ability to run and hide, no ability to think that I got away with something, not ability for someone not to find out.  I have to share, that verse has come into my mind many times when I was thinking thoughts that may not be desirable or about to say something that I shouldn't.  Knowing that God is watching my every move and knows my every thought does make me stop in my tracks.  It has stopped me from doing or thinking something that was of a sinful nature.  I sin; I know that!  God certainly knows that even better than I do. 

So, if God knows everything and I sin all the time, then what is it worth to not sin and not try to be a good person?  Why don't I just live in sin all the time?  Because, with God, there is forgiveness.  No matter how bad my "secrets" are, God knows them and forgives them.  "For God so loved the world that he fave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."  John 3:16.   Although I might want to have secrets in my life, the Dear Lord sees it all - there are no secrets.  Better yet, though, there is forgiveness!  

Heavenly Father, help us to remember that there are no secrets in our lives.  You know all of our thoughts, words, and deeds.  Help to guide us to do as you direct, Jesus.  When we fall from your path, please help us to remember that you provide us unconditional love and forgiveness so we may get up the next day to do your will.  In your name we pray.  Amen

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Missing You

"As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you; and you will be comforted over Jerusalem."  Isaiah 66:13 (NIV)

It's that time of year when children go back to school.  Some are entering grade school, others heading back to high school; still others are off to college.  When the children headed off to school, there was always a piece of my heart that went with them.  I have to say, when they went off to school through high school, it wasn't too bad - I knew they were coming home at the end of the day.   

College was a bit different.  When we dropped off our children at college, it would be days/weeks before we would see them again.  Yes, it is different now compared to when I was a kid.  Through modern technology, we can "see" our kids (when they choose to answer our Skype)!  Yet, again, we knew that at the end of the semester, they would be home again.  Although those times, as they entered adulthood, were harder to navigate, I still knew they were coming home.

These days, our goodbyes are more difficult for this mama's heart.  As we move our children from our home into their new homes as they begin their adult lives, I know that they are moving on with their lives.  Yes, I still long for the days that they would be coming home.  Bottom line?  I miss them!  I miss the rowdy conversations around the dinner table.  I miss the picking on each other.  I miss the laughter.  I even miss taking care of their needs, cooking meals for them, and hearing about their heartaches.

I thought about my role as a mom this weekend, and how that role is changing.  Will my children still need me?  Will they still find time to talk to me, tell me about their days, the good stuff and the tough stuff?  I pray for each of them and hope that their lives find time to come home and chat~~  When they call or stop by, I am certainly comforted.

This reminds me of our Dear Lord.  Does He miss me?  Am I coming home to Him each day?  Does He get to "see" me?  I am certain that Jesus' heart longs for us, just as a parent longs for their child.   When we 'move away' and are not coming home to Jesus like we should, I am very certain that His heart pains for us.   Life today can be busy - very busy.  Much can interfere with our time of devotion and worship.  Yet, we need to remember how much Jesus gives to us; everything we have is a blessing from Him.  Going home to Jesus, talking with Him, telling Him how your day went, sharing the good and the difficult, gives us the comfort that we need.  

During these days, as our children head off to the next chapter in their lives, whether kindergarten or adulthood, may we be reminded of the days when we say grace together, have devotions together, and pray together.  We need to have simple faith that our Dear Lord is there with them, when we can't be.  We need to have simple faith that Jesus will be their "go to" person if we aren't available.  We need to have simple faith that God is with them, and in them, as they head off to their days.  We may miss them, but God's got them!!

Dear Jesus, as our children head off too school or work, we ask that you be with them.  We may miss them, but we know that you have them Jesus, in the palm of your hand.  Walk beside them as they go through their days and let them always know that we are a phone call or visit away.  May we, as parents, have simple faith that you will guide us all on this journey.

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Thank you for visiting my blog. I hope we can share how God's grace has been life changing and that SIMPLE FAITH, getting back to a life that is rooted in the basics, can truly set us free to achieve so much in our lives.