Monday, March 26, 2018

Quiet Time

Sometimes I am hesitant about sharing specific things from my time with the Lord. As a “pastor’s wife” (fyi, I have never been introduced to someone as “this is my plumber’s wife” or “this is my realtor’s wife." Just saying.), I realize that many people look up to me—particularly new Christians—and would want to copy exactly whatever I am doing. I know this because I have done this, too! If someone I respect is doing something just so, then maybe the way to do it is just so.

So I preface this post by saying there are SO MANY ways to spend time with God! And you can’t go wrong with any of them. If you are spending time with God, you are already doing it right. That said, I am a sucker for new ideas. And I do love to peek in at how other people do things.

I keep all my “quiet time” stuff in one place. Maybe you call it “devotional time” or “time with God” or maybe you don’t label it at all. I have no idea why I started with “quiet time”, but it has stuck! And we have a saying in our house that we read somewhere long ago--if I miss it one day, I know it. If I miss it two days, Jason knows it. If I miss it three days, the whole world knows it. Why? Cause I need Jesus rubbing off on me all the time! Every day! So I keep all my stuff in one place to make it easy.

What is this stuff I speak of? Mercy, it has varied quite a bit over the years. Different books and Bibles, notebooks, gratitude journals, pens, tissues, devotionals, highlighters. Of course, I have never met an office supply store I didn’t love, so I have to work to keep the stuff at a minimum. And since I am on a simplification kick, these days I only have my favorite Bible (a New Living Translation soft covered study Bible), a pen, a pair of headphones to listen to worship music on my phone (my favorite at the moment is Rita Springer’s “Battle”), a notebook to write Scriptures in, and a sweet little book my husband bought me 17 years ago called “Daily Light” that has Scripture readings for each day. That’s it.

Recently I bought a new bag to keep it all in. A cheerful bag that would make me happy every time I look it! Its all together for me to sit down with on my couch, or scoop up and take to the porch, or wherever my heart wants to sit with God. Some great advice I got after learning about spending time with God was simply keep your Bible and what will help you study it in one place, at the same place, so you don’t have to go chasing all over creation to find it. When that happens, its all too easy to say forget it when we go through seasons when we are a bit weary, or busy, or hardened.

So I pass this on to you. This is nothing new to many of you. But to those who know it but haven’t gathered it all together—whatcha waiting on? Go ahead. To those who haven’t heard this little tid bit, it's simple advice that has proved beyond helpful over the years for me.

Now, as much as I like to gather, to prepare, to plan—the trick here is to actually use it!! Just spend some time with the Lord. Again, no wrong way to do that. Pray. All that is is talking to God—we forget that sometimes, in a world of formulas and outlines. Just talking. How sweet is it that He listens to us?! And then do some listening. To worship music, sure, but to God mainly. Open up your heart. Read His Word. He’s got all sorts of neat things to say to you in there! Happy things, wise things. Things that will help you live out today, right where you are, just what you need.

Being a light to others starts with being ignited on the inside. That is exactly what I believe happens as we spend time with Jesus.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Festive Praise!

1 “The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me,
    for the Lord has anointed me
    to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted
    and to proclaim that captives will be released
    and prisoners will be freed.
He has sent me to tell those who mourn
    that the time of the Lord’s favor has come,
    and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies.
To all who mourn in Israel,
    He will give a crown of beauty for ashes,
a joyous blessing instead of mourning,
    festive praise instead of despair.
In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks
    that the Lord has planted for his own glory.”
-Isaiah 61:1-3

I love this passage of Scripture. Jesus read the first two verses of this chapter in the Temple in Luke 4 and followed up with the words, “The Scripture you’ve just heard has been fulfilled this very day!” GOOD NEWS! I love it!!

I’ve been playing this chapter on audio the past couple of days. Sometimes I just want to dig into a passage and I want to hear it over and over again! So thank you, Bible app for making that possible!

The whole passage is breathtakingly beautiful, but one thing that has jumped out at me is the phrase “festive praise”. God is promising to give us festive praise instead of despair. What a word picture! Not just regular praise. Not some sort of rote praise, if that can even be true praise. But festive praise!! And the fact that it is a gift is so beautiful to me! I don’t have to work it up. I don’t have to find it somewhere. God is going to give it to me INSTEAD OF my despair! So He takes the yuck and gives me the fun. What a good, good Father.

Would you think on this passage with me? Meditate on it? Roll it over and over in your mind. What would that look like for you? If you just trusted God with great abandon and took Him at this Word and gave Him all the things you may be despairing over. Big things. Little things. In between, you don’t know where to put them, things. Things that cause despair when even the whisper of the thought comes to you.

Despair means absence of hope, and that is something that you can be 100% certain God does not want for you. He is all about hope! He sent His Son for us so we could have hope for eternity, and hope for today, and hope for all the days between the here and the there. So that despair—it's not from God. He has hope for you. He is going to make a way where there seems no way. He’s going to order your steps so that you get to where you need to be. He’s going to give you festive praise.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Simplify Romance

Well, Valentine’s Day is a whole month past us now. Whatever it was for you, there’s not another one for eleven months. Womp, womp. Or hooray. Wherever you stand! I love romance. I love celebration. And I love any chance to have some fun with my husband. It can be a bit overwhelming sometimes for those of us who have a lot on our plates—which is to say, of course, ALL OF US.

Here’s the thing—my husband is never better than when I am spoiling him. When I am adoring him and blessing him and just loving on him in general. At the same time, it can take a lot of planning and work to spoil, to adore, to bless, to love on. Isn’t it ironic…don’t you think…

So I simplify. I simplify romance. Don’t check out on me cause it sounds boring. There’s something to be said for keeping the romantic fires burning instead of having a big old bonfire once a year.

I plan big dates, yes. I make big gestures, yes. But mostly, I just simplify romance. I keep a stack of cards and a pen in an easy to get to place so I can jot him a love note. I send him a love song on iTunes. I write him silly notes on a chalkboard we keep in our entryway. I buy him peanut m&m’s at Publix and put them fun places for him to find. I throw confetti at him when he walks through the front door on a random day just to welcome him home. Simple things. Silly things. But romantic things.

Takes me two minutes. No time at all. And it makes all the difference. Not according to me! According to him. As I was leaving to teach Glow not too long ago he told me he really hopes I encourage the women there to do nice things for their husbands. He tells me over and over again that me treating him this way makes him want to be a better man. So there’s the man’s point of view if you need a little nudge.

Now, of course you don’t have to do what I do. Maybe your husband hates peanut m&m’s and would only gripe at the confetti. But you know him. You know what blessing would mean to him. Do it! What do you have to lose? Take 10 minutes—come on…you know you have 10 minutes!—and list as many things as come to mind that would be simple and appreciated.

Simplify romance and be a light to your guy. Jesus told us we’re to be the light of the world in Matthew 5:14. What better place to start shining bright than in your own marriage?

Thursday, March 8, 2018


And not even the very, very first of March! THE FIRST WEEK IS NOW OVER MARCH.

Some of you are like, come on already, while the rest of us are like, wait—what has happened?! And isn’t that always the case.

I hope January and February were wonderful to you! And speaking of…all those January goals. How are they going? I bet we’re about half and half as a group. Is that being optimistic?! Half of us are killing it, half of us don’t even want to remember the goals we’ve set. Or maybe all of us are killing it at half our goals and have stumbled over the rest. Eh, it happens. We are…wait for it…human.

You do remember that, right?

You’re not a superhuman being that suddenly can accomplish every single thing you can dream up just because the calendar page turned to January. Or February. Or March. SHOCKER. You do, however, have access to supernatural wisdom and strength as a child of God. So let Him into those wishes and desires you had as the clock struck midnight back on the last day of December. Tell Him if you can’t figure out the how. Tell Him you want to know how not to fail in that area.

I am surprised by how many people I talk to that think some things are out of God’s field of concern. Like He really cares if you read your Bible every day, but has no interest in your desire to eat healthier. Or He is extremely concerned about you resurrecting that prayer life, but isn’t even remotely interested in your wanting to put some spice back in your marriage. Like we think God has a column of things for us: “spiritual” and “nonspiritual”.

Hmmm. Let’s think this through. When your kids have a concern, a goal, a hope, do you do some parental discerning and put those things into categories? Do you push some aside as not concerning you? I hope not! You may not understand it—that’s your humanity showing again—but you are certainly interested. If it's your kids' desire to teach your dog to say “I love you” (I have experience here), you will watch 1000 youtube videos to help them achieve this, even though you wouldn't have dreamed that up.

See where I’m going here?

God cares! And He is not human, so not only does He care, He delights in you and in helping you and doesn’t have that pesky not understanding you to deal with. He gets you. Read that again.

He is FOR you. On your side. On your team. Your biggest cheerleader. Your biggest fan. Let Him in! Even if you feel like you’re failing, or it isn’t a “spiritual” goal. All of our lives are spiritual if we are Christ followers! We are so intertwined with Him. Psalm 37:4 even tells us He gives us the desires of our hearts. That means He places them within you! He puts in you the want to want certain things. A great marriage? Check. A strong body? Check.

So toss the whole thing to Him! Cast your cares on Him! Let Him show you the how and the what and the where and when. ASK!

I mean, how could our old dog Jeb, ever have learned to say “I love you” if the kids hadn’t asked for my help?!