A God Perspective

Ministry Mom

Erin PetersWritten by: Erin Peters

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7

The clock read 11:37pm. The curtains were drawn and everyone was asleep, except my son. He sat in my arms, wrapped in his soft green blanket, smiling. Oh that smile. Cute, but not at 11:37pm.

So many thoughts ran through my head. Why he was still awake? Why is my husband sleeping? Doesn’t he know that I have to get up at 6am too? Yes, he has a “real” job, but my “job” gets the kids fed, clothed and keeps them from fighting all day. Plus I have a meeting in the morning. And we need lightbulbs from the store. I get to have coffee tomorrow. Haven’t had it four days. Ugh! Why is this child not sleeping.

Them bam! I felt it. That God tap. That reminder of what love is.

It’s patient with what comes throughout the day, or night.

It’s kind when my child interrupts me because he needs a snuggle.

It’s not envious that my husband gets to go to work and talk to adults all day long.

It doesn’t boast over how much I do for those I love.

It’s not proud at what I’ve accomplished.

It doesn’t push my own selfish “needs” before those that I am trusted to care for.

It doesn’t seek to elevate my position.

It doesn’t get angry when my plans get changed.

It doesn’t keep a record of how many times I’ve taken the “night-shift” with the kids.

It doesn’t get joy out of another mom’s struggle.

It always protects.

It always trusts.

It always hopes.

It always perseveres.

It was then that I realized that I hadn’t been loving those whom God gave me to love. I was crushed with the overwhelming sense of conviction and the need for repentance at what I had been truly feeling in my heart. This was the health of my heart and I didn’t like it.

So I prayed. Prayed for His forgiveness and His help, because it’s easy to be the opposite of loving. That part comes naturally.

In the morning, I was refreshed despite the loss of sleep. But I woke with a different perspective. A God perspective seeking the Holy Spirit to guide me in loving all those in my path. This is my prayer.

Have you checked the condition of your heart lately?

One Love

Faith

margaretWritten by: Margaret Connolly

My husband is an Air Force man, and he has been for nearly 15 years. He joined the Canadian Forces just 6 months before we got engaged and about a year and a half after we’d been together. His career has taken us to England, Eastern & Western Canada, as well as coastal California. It has been a fantastic journey that I would never trade. The tricky part is, that when you move around a lot, you are almost always the new person .. the newbie, the newcomer, the rookie. While I am not horrible at being the freshman on campus, it is not my favorite either. Being new means having to really put yourself out there, which in my case means blabbing on until I feel like people think I’m super weird, but not weird enough to avoid. Wait, is that just me?? The other thing that comes along with being the newbs, is that oftentimes you are judged, or to put it less harshly, you have people make assumptions about you. For as many assumptions as people have made about me (Hello, that I had my first kid at 16! C’mon now!! I was 28, in case you’re wondering ….), I have made just as many assumptions about others. Sizing a person up .. checking out what they’re wearing, what kind of car they drive, how their kids behave, you name it, I’ve thought it.

In last weeks post, which you can read here, I wrote about how God doesn’t play favorites. He loves us all the same, regardless of how we feel about that. A friend of mine read and commented to me that yes, those annoying people are hard to love, but so are the ones who seem so perfect – you know, the ones that we make all those assumptions about. The ones that have that awesome car, nicest clothes, best hair, great cottage, perfect kids, and the list goes on.

Years ago, I observed a Mom at my husband’s roller hockey game one evening that made me feel just like this. You can read a post on my then-blog from 2013 here if you’re interested. It sounds cliché, but she literally seemed to have it all together. Her 5 kids had beautiful, clean, matching outfits on. Bows in hair. Sitting quietly … like literally not moving. Mine were all a hot mess! It was so easy to feel judged in that situation. It was so easy to think she wouldn’t want to talk to me because we were being loud and crazy and making a big mess of toys and activity books, which was clearly not acceptable behavior for her children .. It was easy to feel like she was looking at me and thinking ‘Wow. Just wow.

We women just love to bog ourselves down in comparison, don’t we? If you’re like me, you might sometimes feel like you are just not good enough to reach out to those around you that may seem to ‘have it all’. As the old adage goes ‘comparison is the thief of joy’. Comparison doesn’t allow us to love, or embrace, or help or encourage. Instead, it traps us and convinces us that we are not good enough. That, my friends, is a lie. A lie which we must run from … flee! Run! Don’t give in to the lies.

That beautiful, amazing person you are acquainted with has struggles just like you do.
She dislikes herself some days, just like you do.
She’s done things she’s not proud of, just like you have.
She has painful memories, just like you do.
She has problems in her marriage just like you do.
She is always questioning her decisions as a Mom, just like you are.
She has insecurities about her body, just like you do.
She is also God’s child, and He loves her the same as He loves you.

He sees beauty, amazing promise and giftings in both of you. He’s got one big love for us all. Don’t think she’s His favorite just because you’re blind to the beauty and promise that He sees in you <3

The Vineyard Keeper

Screen Shot 2016-08-15 at 3.19.40 PM

FullSizeRenderWritten by: Melissa Lefevers

There is this really beautiful hanging basket on my mother- in-law’s porch. It has beautiful pink and white blooms and the stems reach up toward the sun. Lately, however, it hasn’t been so beautiful. It hasn’t rained in awhile and we have neglected to water it. Slowly but surely it has browned and withered and is almost dead.

My sweet six-year-old, who has more of a green thumb than I do, has been watering it every single day. Just a little bit here and there. Slowly it has come back to life. It’s leaves are green now, and in the midst of what seemed like certain death, there is life. The plant’s true beauty is coming back.

This morning after a nice little argument with my husband—yes we have those, we are human, I decided it was time to cut away what was still dead on the plant and allow the good some room to grow. I snipped and cut away anything that had not come back. I thought and thought about what my husband and I talked about.Then something he said really struck me.

Maybe we are going through this because God wants to show us something we need to get rid of so we can do this life together the way He wants us to.

The exact moment I replayed those words in my mind I thought about God being the true gardener. Here I was snipping away the old, dead stems of the plant so it could be what it should be— at the very moment God was pruning away the weeds in my life.

I am the true vine, and my Father is the vineyard keeper. Every branch in Me that does not produce fruit He removes, and He prunes every branch that produces fruit so that it will produce more fruit. John 15:1-2

So simple, yet profound. My husband and I are being pruned. Pruned to be what He has intended us to be. Pruned to bear more fruit for His Kingdom and glory. He removes the dead, lifeless stems that bring nothing.

I will be honest with you— pruning hurts. It hurts to see my flaws, know I are stumbling or lacking in anything. It hurts deeply to disagree as a couple and not be walking in step with each other. I am glad the hanging plant cannot scream out as I often do during the pruning. It is so easy for me to see these times as hard instead of these times as beneficial. However, we must remember it is for a purpose.

By cutting back the plant it will return to its beauty and be even better than before. God is a good God that is pruning you and I to make us even more beautiful. We must keep our eyes focused on him, just as the plant stems reach for the sun. That plant knows where it’s life source comes from and it grows in that direction. We too must not ever forget our life source is found in Jesus and then follow that light.

You and I are beautifully loved children of the most High God and we must never forget He is the good vineyard keeper. Whatever you may be going through in your marriage, relationships, life— He is for you. Maybe this is a time of pruning and you need to stretch your arms up to the Son.

Sweet friend, lean in and allow God to do what only he can do.

Avoiding The Definition of Christianity

Faith

NathanWritten by: Nathan Hill

There is a saying that I heard once, and it goes like this. “Good Christian girls don’t drink, smoke, or chew—and they don’t go with boys that do!” You may have heard this or some variation of it throughout your years in the church—only the lucky or the very new may have been spared from this mindset.

What is implicit in this statement is that Christians are defined by the practices that they avoid, and Christian young women ought to date only those young men who are defined by the same avoidances as they are. Being defined by a negative, however, is not really a definition at all. Suppose you were asked by someone to describe to them the color red. Would you tell them that it is not black, or gray, or blue, or yellow? Would you tell them that pink is not red, although it is too close to the line for comfort? Or, would you tell them that red is the color of the sun when it sets, the color of a rose in a wedding bouquet, and the color of a ripened cherry hanging from a summer tree. I suspect the latter would provide a much better explanation.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German Lutheran pastor and theologian in the early 1900s, said that “being a Christian is less about cautiously avoiding sin than about courageously and actively doing God’s will.” I have to agree that often times our messages and conversations within Christian circles are more about character reformation than about actively pursuing God’s purposes for our lives and churches. Even when I think of some of my recent teaching series—one on the parables of Jesus comes to mind—there is much more time spent on behaviour modification than there is on discerning God’s plans. We often teach and talk about the perils of our heart, attitude, sin, self-centeredness…and the list goes on…but fail to define our Christian experience in terms of what we are doing, not what we are avoiding.

Paul defines the kingdom of God in a positive sense in his letter to the Romans, saying “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking” (as the discussion of his day was whether to eat meat sacrificed to idols) “but of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 14:17). We are defined by righteousness (which is imputed at salvation, not something we strive to earn and cling to), peace, and joy. Jesus also defines the nature of the kingdom of God at his first preaching gig, saying “the Spirit of the Lord…has anointed me to preach good news to the poor…proclaim freedom for the prisoners…recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed… “(Luke 4:18). Moreover, James defines our faith as “looking after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world” (James 1:27).

Notwithstanding the call to personal holiness that resounds throughout the New Testament, would people define you as someone who caries peace and joy? Do you care for widows and orphans in their distress—those who are the most avoided in our society? Are you walking in a path towards freedom that compels others to walk behind you? Have you defined your faith by what you do instead of what you do not do?

Take a personal assessment and begin to define yourself by who you are in Christ, not by what you no longer are associated with. You will find that the Scriptures provide great insight into what our faith is about, from a positive sense. Dig in and explore!

What did you say…?

Motivational Monday with Marisa

IMG_0015Written by: Marisa Aud

Happy Monday and welcome to the first full-fledged week of Fall!

If you don’t read anything else in this post today, I want to remind you that Monday is not a day to skip your workout or your healthy eating habits. Monday is the day that sets the tone for the rest of the week. So take a deep breath and be kind to yourself.

I’ve started taking my kids to the gym with me four times a week, which sounds crazier than it actually is. Our gym has a wonderful P.E. program for homeschool kids and I cannot tell you what a blessing it has been to this mama – I need my 45 minutes of exercise!

One of my favorite classes to take whenever possible is Yoga. I know what you’ve heard, and it’s true. Yoga is not just an exercise class, it is something you practice: posture, flexibility, breathing, and strength. It’s a very quiet and relaxing form of exercise that actually energizes and strengthens me. As a Christian, I choose to meditate on the word of God and His abundant mercy in my life. I feel no guilt over practicing better posture or breathing with other individuals who may or may not subscribe to my faith. I like the idea of not being so immersed in my church-bubble that I have to intentionally meditate on the Lord in the middle of crowded room …that’s not inside of a church building.

Just this past Monday, in the middle of such a class I had a profound moment with God. This particular Yoga class was for beginners and reviewed all the basic positions with lots of guidance from the Coach who reminds us to breathe. Breathing sounds like a no brainer, but you’d be surprised how often you forget to breathe deeply when you are in the middle of downward-facing-dog! Towards the end of the class, the Coach asked us to take a moment to reflect on how we were speaking to ourselves when we found a new position challenging. I thought about her question for a moment and then I just about burst into tears.

What had I been saying to myself all along? What were the words that flooded my mind when I felt challenged?
You’re awkward, unbalanced.

You can’t do this.

Your body is crooked.

You’re never going to master this.

I was horrified when I realized the thoughts I was allowing to creep in without consent.

As I reflected on this the rest of the day, I realized that the words I had impulsively used towards myself in an exercise class were actually similar to the thoughts and feelings I was having towards myself in my day-to-day tasks!

Could you please be a little less awkward?

What’s wrong with you?

Why can’t you get it together?

My friends, those are not the words of love and grace. Those words are lies that you and I have accepted from the enemy and his number-one job is to trick us into becoming hopeless, full of fear, or stuck in a rut before we even realize it. This is what the scriptures mean when they say to take every thought captive (2 Corinthians 10:5, Hebrews 10:19-24).

I want to remind you today that there is no place God’s love cannot find you. There is no power or shame that can prevent you from experiencing the mercy and grace of Christ.

If I can be redeemed of my own negative thoughts in a crowded Yoga class on a Monday then you can too, wherever this day finds you.

You are LOVED, exactly how you are!

You are CALLED, to love others extravagantly!

You are NEEDED, in a world that is so broken and desperate to belong!

So go make Monday great! Try a new exercise class or go for a walk and talk with your neighbors! Be kind to yourself and know that the love that God has for you is not limited to how perfectly you perform!

xo Maud

Redemption Ranch

CC
Cindy1Written by: Cindy Morrone with Conny Varga

Many God callings are not individual. As a family we can serve the Lord together in our ministries. There are unique considerations and we pray you are encouraged in this sharing.
I was so thankful for the Coulter family’s sharing (see Sisterhood Sunday video—you don’t want to miss it!). They are Living The Dream as a family. Their God-callings include homeschooling and fostering and they exemplify a family working so well together and glorifying the Lord! It is my pleasure to introduce to you my dear friend, Conny and her family.

When we walked into our first class for fostering I cannot tell you how thankful I was to see her familiar and smiling face. Even more so as the classes progressed and the realities of a broken world set in, her and her husband was and continues to be Christ-centered pillars that we lean on.

Be inspired as this family shares their God-callings!

Conny, thank you so very much for your willingness to share. I’ve been in your home and in it abounds with love, life, and a welcome to stay. You are a homeschooling, fostering Mom and you all run a ranch! You have chickens, grow your own vegetables and churn your own butter. You make the best hummus and guacamole. There are horses to feed and muck to muck up! And all the while you are schooling and mothering!

Cindy: Your ranch is called Redemption Ranch. Please tell us about your ranch. Can you share with us how you all made the decision to offer such an opportunity.

Conny: We were at a crossroad back then. I was 6 months pregnant with our youngest son, Riley. My husband, Mark, was working at Chrysler at the time and was offered a buy-out package like everyone else employed there. He felt God leading him to leave Chrysler, defying all logic, especially since I was expecting and there would be no health coverage or any other job lined up. We took this step in faith, not knowing what God had in store for us in the future. However, within a very short time, He brought our attention to a ministry in Oregon, called “Crystal Peaks Youth Ranch” and we fell in love with the concept of reaching out to the needy children, youth, and families in our own community. Over the course of two years, God provided two beautiful horses that were in need of “rescuing”, a 5-acre-property – pony included, a horse trainer to work with some of our horses and also the children who came, and family and friends to support us in this endeavor. And so, 5 years ago, Redemption Ranch was born. The name was chosen in light of the two-fold purpose of this ministry: to rescue horses and offer God’s hope and healing to the children and families that come here.
Never in our life could we have guessed that God would use this adventure to open our eyes to the stark reality of broken homes, families and lives around us. We were appalled and devastated by the stories of these precious children who visited our ranch and who found so much joy and healing here. And slowly, little by little, God opened our hearts to something even more radical than just running a ranch – fostering!

Cindy: Fostering is a family affair. Can you please share with us how you came about with your decision to foster? You have determined to provide a home to teenagers, what brought you to that decision?

Conny: We thought reaching out to some of these children on a weekly or less-regular basis was what God wanted us to do. But then we were confronted with the instructions in the Bible that commanded us to care for the fatherless, and for the distressed and oppressed, etc. We knew that we had to open our home and hearts to God’s leading. We started out opting for teenagers, since they are the neediest age group in our county, and homes are scarce and hard to find. However, with each desperate phone call we have received from the agency (looking for a home for the children); we realized that ALL children need to experience a home where God’s love is evident and abundant, and where grace is extended freely. We’ve had children of all ages and backgrounds in our home, and with each come different joys and challenges.

Cindy: Can you share with us what the Lord has shown you and your family in your experience with fostering?

Conny: We have only fostered for about 2 ½ years, but we have felt a passion grow within us for these children that can only come from Jesus. Do we always like fostering? Absolutely not. It is hard, sometimes desperately hard. However, with each struggle came strength from God, with each valley came immense blessings. God is showing us over and over that He adopted us into His family, even though we didn’t deserve it and still don’t deserve it. He has shown us that His grace is never-ending, no matter how often we grieve His heart. Out of gratitude for Him, we long to pass on this same love and care to the children who have no one and be family to them.
We have learned that God does often give you more than you can handle. And He does so intentionally so that His strength and His power can work in and through you. He does it so that we can learn to fully depend on Him and pray to him about everything. He deserves to get all the praise and glory!
On a more practical level, our parenting has improved since we had a chance to deal with behaviours and issues that we would have never encountered, had we only ever had our own biological children. Our three children have learned how to extend love and grace to children who are so very different from them. They have truly shown the heart of Jesus to these kids. They also learned to stand up for themselves and draw lines and stand up for the truth.
God has also stirred in us a desire to raise awareness among His Church. Too many Christians are completely unaware about His special love and passion for these children, and about the dire needs around us as well as around the world.
And slowly, little by little, God opened our hearts to something even more radical than just fostering – calling Christians everywhere to wake up and defend the cause of the fatherless! To show the world that we are His disciples by the love we have for these His little ones!

Cindy: Do you have a favourite Scripture verse behind your heart motive to be a conduit of healing for so many?

Conny: There are so many verses that come to mind, it is hard to choose one. I would have to say that the following two passages are probably the most compelling for us:
Sing to God, sing in praise of His name, extol Him who rides on the clouds; rejoice before Him – His name is the Lord. A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in His holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families. (Psalm 68:4-6)
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. (James 1:27)

Conny, thank you so very much for sharing. You and your family are an incredible blessing! God’s best to you and yours!!

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About Conny:

Conny is a homeschooling mother of three children, foster mom, and farmer in Amherstburg, Ontario. She and her husband of fifteen years are passionate about the calling of God to care for His forgotten treasures – orphans and foster children. They are actively involved in their church, have been on several missions trips throughout the world, and are following the Lord’s direction to raise awareness and mobilize His people to defend the cause of the fatherless and those without a voice.

Fear and Anxiety

Faith

IMG_6200Written by: Christianne Williams

It hit me all of a sudden, it gripped me and I couldn’t understand why. My heart started to race, my breathing picked up, and I got a pain in the pit of my stomach. I felt like something bad was going to happen, like I was about to have my life thrown into a tailspin, and yet, there I was, sitting in a chair in my living room as safe as one could be. I looked around and no one seemed to notice that I was being hit with the fist of anxiety. It is after all, a relatively silent thing. You can become pretty good at hiding it all behind a smile because you don’t want anyone to think you don’t actually have it all together. You don’t want to feel like you’re the only one on the block who sometimes feels this way, let alone the only Christian on the planet who has these moments hit them like a Mack truck at an intersection.

I refused to tell anyone how badly I was feeling at times because any time I did I was always met with the platitude of, “Christians don’t have anxiety, they have God.” or “God’s got it all under control so you shouldn’t be worrying.” Or my very favorite, “It shows a real lack of faith to have anxiety.” Now, I’m not talking about worrying occasionally about something, I’m talking about the panic that hits you in the stomach and no amount of talking yourself out of it helps. I know that God is good, that He doesn’t want us to suffer, and that He can deliver us from all anxiety and fear. I know it’s not His plan for us to live in this prison. But I also know that it can be really hard, from the inside looking out, to get this feeling to just go away by talking yourself out of it.

Anxiety and fear are a tool used by the enemy to cripple the children of God so they believe that they are powerless and thus, stay where they are, not brave enough to step out and try the things God is calling them to do. Anxiety calls to mind the ‘what ifs?’, it tells us that bad things are in store if we proceed any further. It’s the voice that tells us that God really isn’t for us, that He’s there waiting for us to mess up so He can punish us. It’s the voice of a liar. Fear of man, fear of failure, fear of a new direction, the list goes on, these are all things that will steal the joy from our journey and the fulfillment of our destiny. Doing things for God will mean confronting these lies head on, even when we feel like running away, we must put one foot in front of the other.

1 Peter 5:7 “Cast all your anxiety on Him for He cares for you”

Lately I’ve been choosing to be more real about the anxiety I feel from time to time. I believe that the struggles we face, we go through for a season and a reason. One of those reasons is to help others who are facing the same thing. I remember hearing the speaker at a conference one time say that if we go through a valley, even if it takes the stuffing out of us, we can choose to let it kill our testimony or we can use it as a platform to help others find refuge in God. I really want to step past the fear and allow God to use my struggle to support others who feel that they can’t go on. Another reason is because I find that if I can talk to someone about the thoughts in my head, it actually doesn’t seem so bad. Memorizing scripture, truth, that you can repeat over and over again will help to redirect your thoughts, bringing peace to your spirit.

2 Timothy says, “For God did not give us a spirit of fear, but the spirit of power, of love and of a sound mind.” Another of my favorites says, “In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety.” In my life I want to accomplish all God has for me, and I want that to be the cry of all our hearts, even those who are right now crippled by fear. Let us allow God to have complete control of all of those anxieties, being completely open with Him and giving Him permission to deal with whatever hurts or events that brought us to this place. Having complete freedom in Him is possible if we’re willing to lay aside our feelings and begin to make a concentrated effort to fill our minds with His words of truth.

Tearing Down The Idol Of People Pleasing

Ministry Mom

image1 2Written by: Ashley Sigrest

It’s natural to want people to like us, but what happens when that want overshadows our need to serve Christ?

A few years back a close friend seemingly disappeared from my life. To put it more bluntly, I was friend dumped! We never had an argument or anything and I was distraught on what could have made her just walk away from our friendship. I begged God for answers and prayed often about confronting her, but He never answered either of those longings.

About a year after our friendship ended, the Lord called me to help with a group whom this friend did not agree with. During this time God stretched and grew me in incredible ways. One day the Lord showed me had He not ended that friendship, my loyalty to her would have kept me from stepping out in faith for Him.

My heart was broken! Conviction choked me like a noose and I knew God was right. I immediately repented and was able to lay down the hurt I held onto from losing that friend. Our friendship had become more important to me than my walk with Christ, but I never even noticed it.

Far too often we build idols out of our relationships with others. Our pride rises up and we try immensely to ensure people think the best of us. On the surface this doesn’t appear to be bad, but underneath we have forgotten our first Love and turned ourselves over to an idol of people pleasing.

Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ.
‭‭Colossians‬ ‭3:23-24‬ ‭

Living a life for Christ means that we will make others angry. The Bible guarantees us we will be persecuted for our faith. In order to tear down the idol of people pleasing we must keep Christ at the forefront of our decisions.

Are you serving in your church to be noticed or to please one of the leaders? Or are you serving because you genuinely want to honor God? Satan can turn even good and honorable things just so that we don’t even realize that our intentions have changed.

Let’s challenge ourselves today look at our relationships with others; bosses, spouses, children, leaders, and make sure we are not striving to please them above pleasing God. Whatever it is that we do, let us work for God and through our obedience to Him, we will shine for others to give Him the glory, and not ourselves.

Playing Favorites

Faith

margaretWritten by: Margaret Connolly

Several years back I watched an episode of The Andersen Cooper show where he discussed the idea of parents having a favorite child. There were guests on the show (with their children!) who openly and unashamedly declared that they had preference for one of their children over another.

I was aghast. I couldn’t even believe this was real. I mean, okay, I know there are a lot of shocking things happening in the world around us all the time, but for a mother to sit there and say that she prefers one of her children to another was just shocking to me. How hurtful. How sad. How damaging. How unfortunate that she couldn’t recognize the beauty and wonder in each of her children. The qualities that made them unique, made them special, made them so worth her undivided love and devotion.

Now, let’s be real. I get that some of our precious blessings are easier to love than others. Believe me, I so get this! I have one kid so much like me it drives mad, and another so much like her Dad that it drives us both mad. Add another kid in there who’s still kind of a question mark to us, and well, you get the idea. There are many moments where I find myself thinking about one or more of my daughters: ‘Ahh! Why can’t she be more like her sister?! Why does she have to do *this* or *that*?!’

But, if she was more like her sister, she’d be less like her. She’d not be the complete version of herself that God has fearfully and wonderfully created. With all the quirks, all the character, all the love and heart that makes her just who she is.

The Bible has umpteen stories about people who didn’t seem particularly loveable. Or, who made really really really poor choices. And yet, in amongst many of those stories we see how God used these people for His purposes and plan (Jacob, Samson, Jonah, Peter and the list goes on!) Despite all the troubles, and character flaws and major mistakes, they were used by the most high God. This gives me such confidence in knowing that God sees each of us just where we are, and as just who He made us to be … and we are all His favorites! His love is multiplied across the nations, generations and ages.

Let’s take it one step further … we all know those people, or that person .. the one(s) that are so much harder to love than others. They are definitely not our favorite. They irk us, annoy us, irritate us, anger us even. The thing is – God loves that person just as much as you .. that person is His favorite too. God sees in that person the most wonderful things that you don’t. He looks at that person and He sees hope, and promise, potential, giftings, uniqueness, and He loves and extends grace to that person as much as He does for the rest of us. I don’t know about you, but that is a humbling thought for me. As I reflected on this I thought of us all through the lens of our Creator. We are all his kids, we are all His special beloved amazing creations.

Believe me, I need this reminder just as much as the next person – but let’s try to remember this the next time we are finding it particularly hard to love on *that* person.

Margaret

The Best You

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FullSizeRenderWritten by: Melissa Lefevers

It is still summer and yet like many of you—I am ready for Fall. I am ready for the seasons to change and I am ready for some relief from the hot weather. I can’t wait to see the leaves turn their beautiful shades of yellow and red,and all the wonderful food that comes along with this fun season. However, it’s not quite time yet. There are still a few days of summer left and I will have to wait for fall.

Seasons change and there are so many wonderful things wrapped up in each unique one. Adventures to be had in each season and new things to learn. Life is like that. Wrapped up in each season of life there are adventures and new things to learn. Sometimes, maybe to often, just as I am wishing for the change in the weather; we are wishing away the season of life that we are in.

I find myself in a strange season right now. I would call it the season of busyness. Adjusting after a move, adjusting to a new school for my children and adjusting to a new job for my man. We love it, but we are without a doubt in a season of busy and overwhelmed. A season of looking ahead and at the right now. Planning, dreaming, working, and loving on people.

We are doing good things and we get the chance to do it together. But there is danger in all this busy. We are exhausted— yes, exhausted. The good kind where you know what you are doing is serving a kingdom purpose but we are still tired. We used to joke all the time and say “If we are exhausted let it be because we are focusing on God’s kingdom more than anything.” Little did we know we would actually get to experience it!

The danger comes when we are so tired or busy that we are not the best we can be for ourselves or for each other. We can be a little short and snippy. We can take something the wrong way and assume incorrectly about a situation. Maybe we just don’t talk at all.

The danger is a slow fade into silence, and not living as one in our relationship. We get so wrapped up in our to do list that we forget about what matters. How do we keep ourselves from getting so worn out?

Rest.

I know, your thinking, “really Melissa, that’s it? I could have told you that myself.” Yes, rest but maybe not the rest your thinking about. This season that we are in right now is hard. Getting a lot of rest is not possible. There is nothing that can come off of “our plate.”

The rest I am talking about comes from Jesus. A sabbath rest. A moment to sit back and relax and see all God is doing in your life. A time to draw away from the busy and see Him. I might not get an entire day to do this, but a couple of hours are fine. Even in the New Testament Jesus would draw away from the crowd and go pray. He would rest and talk with God. If it was good for Jesus who is the Savior of this world, how incredible it it that we too get to experience it. We would be good to follow Jesus’ example and rest.

I find that when I spend and hour or two alone where I reflect, listen, and be still with God it makes me the best me.

Jesus says in Matthew 11:28Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

He will give you all the rest you need —you just need to go to Him. This life you live, the marriage you’re in, the kids you have, your job, all the demands of life can wear you out. But, Jesus can give you rest. He wants you to come to Him, be with Him, and He will make you the best you that you can be.

When you are the best you that you can be it will show in your relationships. I challenge you today to get away, spend some time resting and see how it changes things. Your marriage will not be the best it can be if you are not the best you that you can be. Sweet friend take a break and rest today. Allow God to give you the strength you need to press on. He truly loves you and wants you to be the best you can be.