Fix Your Gaze

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One of the things I do every morning before I get out of bed is  read a quick devotion.  Nothing long or elaborate, just something quick to get my day started on the right foot.  I don’t know about you, but I KNOW there is no way I will make through each day with out the supernatural strength and peace of God.

Yesterday morning and this morning, I read from a devotion book called Jesus Today written by Sarah Young.  One of the things Sarah does, is she writes devotions from the perspective that Jesus is talking directly to you.  I love reading them.  They are always timely and I so often feel like she wrote them just for me.

The thing she talked about the past two days was what we are gazing at.  The first line of yesterday’s devotion was

Gaze at me; glance at problems” (Sarah Young, Jesus Today March 2)

As I read that I really took a minute to think about what that meant.  There are so many times throughout my day where I get fixated on my problems.  Then, not only do I fixate on them, I start to try to come up with ways to solve them on my own and in my own strength.  If I continue down that path, before I know it, I have left God in the dust, I am running rampant, trying to fix something that I have largely exaggerated in my mind to be a huge problem when it probably isn’t even something I need to worry about right now.

Then as if she read my mind, this morning’s devotion said this

“Invite Him(The Holy Spirit) to alert you whenever you get overly focused on problems so you can redirect your attention to Me” (Sarah Young, Jesus Today March 3)

One of the things that I think we all need to remember is that we need to fix our eyes on Jesus.  Romans 12:1-3 says this:

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Roman 12:1-3

When we gaze at our problems, they begin to take up more space in our mind than they should.  When we are fixated on them, we start to obsess about them. When we do this, we then do nothing more than glance at God.  This can be a recipe for disaster.

The more time we spend with our eyes fixed on our troubles, the more alone, afraid, and overwhelmed we feel.

However, the other side of that is, the more we fix our eyes on Jesus, the more, joy, peace, and secure we feel.

The truth is that gazing at our problems, really doesn’t solve anything.  However, gazing at Jesus sure does!  When we are so in tuned with Him, when we are listening for His voice, He will let us know when it is time to act and when it is time to just rest in Him.  Then when we do need to act to fix something, we aren’t doing it in our strength, we are doing it in His.  That is when problems get solved!

So today fix your gaze decidedly on Jesus and do nothing more than glance at your problems.  Invite the Holy Spirit to be the voice of guidance to keep your eyes where they need to be.  Let Jesus be what consumes you as you go through this day and watch and see how the problems and troubles of your life fade into the background,  shadowed by his glorious light.

 

 

 

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A Valentine’s Day Reminder For Single-moms

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This morning I got up and thought about what I wanted to write today that would encourage single-moms this Valentine’s Day.  After a less than enjoyable morning of getting kids off to school I sat down to write feeling less than loved. I then looked back at what I had written last year and I realized it was something that I really needed to be reminded of today.  So I decided to re-post this blog entry from last year.  Whatever your morning has looked like so far this Valentine’s Day and whatever this past year has brought into or out of your life…know that no matter where you are today….YOU ARE LOVED!

A Valentine For Single-moms

Here we are, Valentine’s Day again.  And maybe this morning, all you wanted to do was hide under the covers and not even think about it.  Personally, I have never liked Valentine’s Day, whether I was single or not.  To me it just seemed such a sad thing to put one day aside to show people you love them…shouldn’t we do that every day???

But regardless, today I wanted to take a minute to let you know something that perhaps, in the craziness of the life of a single-mom, you have forgotten.  YOU ARE LOVED!

It’s true!  Did you know that you have the most amazing valentine that anyone could ever ask for?

Well let me tell you a bit about him,

He loved you from before you were born, even before the creation of the world.
He knows everything about you, the good, the bad, the ugly and He loves you anyway.
He loves you at your worst and at your best
He loves you in such a way that he even knows the number of hairs on your head
He gave up everything, including his own son, so He could be with you forever and
nothing, Nothing, NOTHING can separate you from His love.*

Wow, someone actually loves me like that?  YES! God does and He has shown us all this through Jesus.

Romans 5:8  “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

And all of these words aren’t something out of a card, they are truths, promises that God has given us in His Word.

Maybe today, you didn’t receive a Valentine’s Day card, or flowers, or candy but in truth you have something far better.  You have an entire book(The Bible) reminding you of how much you are loved.  You have greatest gift ever given to you, JESUS, and you will have the sweet hugs and kisses from those little miracles you were blessed with that made you the best thing you could be, a mom.

So get out from under those covers, and boldly declare today, YOU ARE LOVED! then show all those around you the same love!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

*Bible references: Ephesians 1:4Psalm 139, Luke 12:7John 3:16, Romans 8:38-39

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Dart Board

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“I hate you!”, “You’re the worst Mom ever!” have you heard those words fly at you from your child’s mouth?  For me, one of the hardest things about being a single-mom, is becoming a dart board.  Do you know what I mean when I say that?  It is like all the hurt that is bottled up inside your kids, all the things that they want to say to their Dad but won’t or can’t, all the pain they feel over what has happened in their lives is shot at you, taken out on you.  You end up being the target for the darts of your kids hurt and sometimes, that dart goes straight to your heart.

This week just so happened to be a worse than normal week for that kind of thing in our house.  Sometimes, I know exactly where it comes from.  Sometimes it is legitimate hurt that my kids are trying to deal with and sometimes, it is just them using their circumstances as an excuse to get their own way and when that doesn’t happen, backlash occurs.  Regardless of which it is, having hurtful words hurled at you is heartbreaking. And when you are the only disciplinarian in the house, it only gets worse.  There is no break, no saying to your spouse…”you handle this one”  No one to back you up or support you in what you are trying to  do, and always the constant fear that you are doing it wrong and everything is going to blow up in your face.

I don’t know about you, but these types of weeks really wear me out.  I feel overwhelmed and when that happens, I often allow self-pity to begin to creep in.  As I know I have said before self-pity can be a very slippery slope, one that I don’t particularly like to get near the edge of.  By the time Friday morning rolled around, I felt pretty down.  Since I was pretty much all set at work and only had a few quick things to do, I made plans to go snowboarding.  Snowboarding is something I love, something that gives me much needed time to myself and much need time alone with God.  As I left work and headed out to the ski area, I took some time to just pray and really praise God.  Even though at first I didn’t really feel like doing that.  I wanted to complain and whine but instead, I just sang my own worship song and thanked God for who He was and for all he was doing in my life.  The more I did this, the further away from that slippery self-pity slope I moved.  By the time I as sitting on the chair lift ready to take my first run, I felt like a different person.  As the day went on and I headed home, I felt God remind me of few important things in dealing with this whole “dart board” scenario.

Most all the answers come from Ephesians 6.  Specifically in the passage on the Armor of God.

The Armor of God

” 10Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. 19 Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.

First I need to remember that I am not in a battle against my kids.  vs. 12 clearly tells us that our battle is NOT against flesh and blood, that means not against my own flesh and blood either!  Second, God has given us all we need to combat those darts.  vs 16 tells us, take up the shield of faith.  This shield can extinguish ALL the fiery darts of the enemy.  And no I am not saying that our children are our enemy, as we already established in vs 12, we know who our enemy is!  The enemy would like nothing more than to get me on that slippery slope of self-pity and he will use whatever means he can to accomplish it.  Last, PRAY! pray in the spirit on all occasions.  Prayer is one of our most powerful weapons and when combined with Praise as I talked about above…it sends the enemy running for cover!

So start each day with the armor of God.  Commit those verses from Ephesians 6 to memory.  Remind yourself of who the real enemy is.  Pray continuously.  Praise him always.  I love to recite Psalm 34 to myself.  It starts with “I will extol the Lord at ALL times, His praise will  ALWAYS be on my lips.”(Psalm 34:1 ,emphasis mine) Don’t allow the hurtful darts being thrown at you to undo you, rather use them to fuel you to a closer and deeper relationship with God.

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Why Worry?

corrie-ten-boom

Each year as the new year arrives, we choose a family bible verse for the year.  In addition to that I like to pick a personal verse as well.  This year, as I was reading through my Bible in One Year devotional by Nicky Gumbel, a verse in the New Testament passage for the day basically popped out at me.  As soon as I read it I knew this was my verse for this year.  It was Matthew 6:34 from the message translation, which reads:

“Give your attention to what God is doing right now and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow.  God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.”  Matthew 6:34 MSG

One of the things that Nicky said in the devotional was

Think ahead, plan ahead, but don’t worry ahead.

Now I don’t know about you, but I am notorious for worrying ahead.  Not only that, but I excessively plan ahead for what I am worrying ahead about!  That is not only exhausting and unnecessary, but is actually completely pointless.  As Jesus tells us in Luke chapter 12, vs 25-26

“Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life ? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?”

Jesus makes it pretty clear that worrying does absolutely nothing to change what is going to happen.    One of my favorite quotes is from Corrie Ten Boom who said;

“Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, but it empties today of strength” Corrie Ten Boom via Bible in One Year

All worry does is ruin our day, get us worked up, and  cause us to miss out on the amazing things that God is doing in the present!

Now, I have gotten better over the past few years at leaving more and more things to God, because when you get put into a situation where you are just completely overwhelmed and at the end of yourself, you then realize…I can’t do this and you cry out to God “HELP!” But there are still times when I allow myself back into that pattern of worry and excessive planning about what I am worrying about.  It is then that I need to remember what my verse of the year reminds me of…..and the bottom line of that is: Trust God!  I need to pay attention to what God is doing now, at this moment in my life and not worry about what may or may not happen in the days, weeks, months, or even years to come.  I need to remember that my future is in his hands.  He is a good father and I am his daughter, whatever he allows not only will he help me through, each step of the way, but he will also bring good out of it.  So why worry?!

 

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At Years End

Well here we are staring down another New Years Eve and for most of us, we are saying we are glad to see this year go and we look forward to what a new year can bring.  As I was doing my devotions this morning, and I looked back at what I had written last year I found this quote from Oswald Chambers

“Leave the irreparable past in His hands and step out into the irresistible future with Him”  From My Utmost for His Highest.

Then as I logged on to my computer, I saw in my facebook memories that I had written something about that quote last year too.  Here is what I wrote:

“Hard to believe another year has come and gone. My son said something in the car yesterday that was so true, he said, “today was a great day and a terrible day” I responded by saying “that’s every day…we can either focus on what went wrong or we can focus on the blessings God gave us.” I think many of us feel the same away on New Years Eve when we look back on the year…we are glad to see the year go because of the bad things that happened during the year…but each year has its share of good and bad, it all depends on where our focus is. Oswald Chambers wrote “Leave the Irreparable Past in His hands and step out into the Irresistible Future with Him” So today, as you look back on the year, leave all those bad things that happened where they belong, with Jesus, and start the New Year knowing that God has a plan for you and be willing to follow Him into it. In the new year, I am going to be doing that, following God into some of what I feel He is leading me into, starting with creating a blog. It will focus on Faith, Family(specifically being a single parent) and have some fun stuff thrown in as well. I will post the link here on Facebook once I start! Would love to have everyone check it out. Thanks!”

As I sat down to write this post a smile came to my face. I hadn’t remembered that I had even said any of that last year and here I am coming up on the one year anniversary of my blog.

There is so much truth in remembering that God is the one who holds our future in His hands. It is His job to lead, our job, is to follow.  That is how he created us.  As Sarah young said it in her devotion Jesus Calling..

I designed you to have no sufficiency of your own.”

or as the Bible puts it in John 15:5

….apart from me you can do nothing.

We like to think that we are in control and as we look toward a new year, we may feel like this year was out of control and next year is going to be better.  The truth is…every day is out of our control, but no day is ever out of His control.  What has happened over the past year, both the good and the bad are part of His plan,  and as I said in my last post He promises us that ALL things will work together for our good.  

So however you look back on this past year.  You probably can say something similar to what my son said last year..this was a great year and this was a horrible year and although it may feel that way, remember that we only see a piece of the puzzle, but God made the puzzle.  He knows every step of our journey.  As we move forward into this next year, lets leave the past where it belongs, in His hands, and lets move forward into the future knowing that while the journey may be hard, we never walk alone and the view from the top is worth it.

 

 

 

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All Things

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This morning an interesting thing happened as I was waiting for the bus with my kids.  My daughter is currently studying The Protestant Reformation and The Renaissance Era in her Global History class.  They had been talking about Henry VIII so she started singing this little song that they had learned from a Horrible Histories video in elementary school. You can watch by clicking if you are interested.  Anyway…one of the lines in the song talks about how Henry ruined the lives of his wives.  For some reason this morning, my daughter thought it would be funny to replace Henry’s name with her father’s name at the part about ruining the lives of his wives.  Well since I was/am his only wife thus far, I said.  How do you think that he ruined my life?  I asked if that was really how they felt.  They both said no, and said that actually in a lot of ways they felt like things are better this way.  Now I personally feel that way, but it surprised me that they said that.  My husband and I never fought, literally, I can probably count just a few times in our entire 13 years of marriage that we ever actually got into a fight. We got along great and we did everything as a family.  I honestly thought that they would love nothing more than their father to be back home.  So it was a bit surprising to me that they would feel that way.

However all of this brought about an opportunity to speak some much-needed truth to them as well as myself.   The truth that we were experiencing without really realizing it.  That is the truth of Romans 8:28

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[ have been called according to his purpose.”

Often I think we miss the “ALL THINGS” portion of that.  It doesn’t say, good things will happen to bring about your good, it says that in “ALL THINGS” God works for our good. That means even in the bad things that happen to us, God is working for our good.  So as they walked out the door, I said, that is why the bible says .”..ALL things work for our good…” we are seeing that biblical promise in action in our lives.  What a great way to send my kids off to their last day of school before Christmas break.  What a great way to head into Christmas, knowing that just as God kept his promise to send  a savior all those years ago in Bethlehem, He is the same God today and He keeps his promises!  All of them!

              

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One Stair Closer

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Back in August, I wrote a post titled Another Stair Climbed (you can read it by clicking the title).  Recently, I climbed yet another big stair for me.  This may sound silly to some people, but since my husband left 3 years ago, I have not sent out family Christmas cards.  The first 2 years I did nothing.  Last year I did manage to send out a few funny cards, but I have not been able to bring myself to send the usual picture cards.  This year, I figured out how to use the timer on my camera and spur of the moment, we took a picture of the four of us in front of our Christmas Tree.  It actually came out pretty good and I decided this was the year I was going to have family photo cards made up.  Like I said, for most people this is no big deal, but to me, it not only represents another stair climbed, but another step in the healing process.

Going through an unwanted and unexpected divorce is not just heart-breaking, it breaks things inside of you that you didn’t know could be broken.  Healing is a long process that looks different for every person.  I don’t think when I started this journey, I realized just how many stairs there would be to climb or just how slow the climb would be.  I am not a patient person by nature, but God has used this journey to not only help me to slow my pace, but to be more patient with myself, my kids and in turn with others.  He has also taught me how rely on Him each step of the way.

I don’t know what your healing journey looks like or where you are on your staircase, but I pray that you would take a moment as we come to the end of this year and look how far you have come.  Rejoice in where God has you on that staircase and thank him, not just for bringing you this far, but for the promise that one He will never leave you on that staircase alone.  The promise that one day your climb will be over as  Jesus returns and sets everything right!  That is our ultimate hope, that is the destination of the staircase.  So no matter what step you are on keep climbing, look to God to be your strength and look ahead to the new year with the joy of knowing we are one stair closer to our destination.

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