Mary, Did You Know?

 

Maybe it’s because I have a newborn so close to Christmas, but for the last couple of days “Mary, Did You Know” has really been resonating with me.

Mary, did you know
That your baby boy will one day walk on water?
Mary, did you know
That your baby boy will save our sons and daughters?
Did you know
That your baby boy has come to make you new?
This child that you’ve delivered
Will soon deliver you

She had to have known some of this. I mean an angel did appear to her and tell her what was about to happen. An angel did appear to her husband and stop him from divorcing her. The angel appeared to him again and directed them to Egypt- saving the baby’s life.

Surely, she knew that this baby was special. Elizabeth confirmed it during her visit when John the Baptist leapt in her womb, and Elizabeth prophesized over Mary and her child! Surely, she had an idea that BIG things were going to happen with him. But what was about to happen, I’m sure her human heart could not foresee.

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Mary, did you know
That your baby boy will give sight to a blind man?
Mary, did you know
That your baby boy will calm a storm with His hand?

But did she know- no way. Even if she were told exactly what would have happened- she was human. Life would get in the way. I’m sure there were days when Baby Jesus was just a baby- crying, pooping, and wanting to be held.  Days she was tired, worn-out, and just going through the motions.

Did you know
That your baby boy has walked where angels trod?
And when you kiss your little baby
You’ve kissed the face of God

I’m sure that Mary’s role as mom was a blessing, but I’m also sure there were days that weren’t glamourous. I’m sure that though she knew what the angel had told her, those thoughts would get pushed to the back of her mind and the day ahead was all that was on her mind.

As He grew into a boy, was it obvious He was the Son of God? Did he get sick? Did he enjoying working with dad in the shop? Did he need reminders to do his chores? Only Mary knows. (Well, probably Joseph, too.)

Mary, did you know?

Did she know what He would do? Probably not. But did she know that there was amazing potential? I’m positive that’s a yes! The first public miracle Jesus performed was at her request. She had faith in her Son though he responded his time had not yet come.

The blind will see
The deaf will hear
And the dead will live again
The lame will leap
The dumb will speak
The praises of the Lamb

As these song lyrics ring through my head, I just look at my baby boy in amazement. I know God has big things in store for him. Will he be a carpenter, office worker, artist, missionary, evangelist, a pastor? I have no idea. Will it be easy, no- but it will be worth it!  Will he need motherly direction- you better believe it.  Am I equipped to give it? No, but with the Lord’s help and guidance I pray he gets it from me.

Did Mary, too, wonder if she was equipped to be the Mother of our Lord? Did she wonder if Jesus would follow in Joseph’s footsteps and become a carpenter? Could she have imagined him becoming a teacher and mentor to so many people?  Could she have ever known the miracles that would happen because of Him? Did she wonder just how exactly would He save His people? When? Where? So many questions, so few answers. But one big thing- Faith! Faith in God. Faith in His word. Faith in His promises.

Mary, did you know
That your baby boy is Lord of all creation?
Mary, did you know
That your baby boy will one day rule the nations?

If young Mary had any idea the difficulties that lie ahead- how rejected Jesus would be, the blaspheming, the Cross…  could she have even bared it?

Did you know
That your baby boy is heaven’s perfect Lamb?
This sleeping child you’re holding
Is the Great I Am

I hope she was just full of Hope. Those days that motherhood and wifely duties got the best of her, I hope that she remembered that God had a plan and had invited her to have a front row seat to it. I hope she remember what she prophesized about her Son when she visited Elizabeth. I hope that she always shined a light of faith everywhere she went.

Did Mary know? I doubt it, but she did have faith! She walked by faith not by sight. God, however- God knew, and He chose her. He led the way, prepared the path. She experienced life as a mother, just like you and me. She had highs and lows. Days of joys and days of sorrow. She was able to witness her Son grow into a ministry that she may or may not have chosen for him. She bore witness to miracles. She had her heart pierced just like the prophet had said.

Mary had a front row seat to God’s mighty plan to save His people from themselves. Only one person was there from the beginning to the end of Jesus’ earthly life- that was Mary. I think it’s safe to say now that Mary did not expereince joy in that moment. But if she could look back now and see God’s mighty plan, she would be filled with Joy! If she looked back now, her joy would have out-weighed her sorrow.

Let’s not forget when we look at that Nativity Scene- that same Mary kneeling next to the manger also knelt before the foot of the Cross. Christmas is just the beginning of the most beautiful love story of all time.

Did Mary know? She didn’t have to. She walked by faith from the moment the angel spoke to her. All throughout the stages of Jesus’ life, she, too, walked by faith.

Whether or not you have a newborn, I hope this season of Christmas brings you hope. Hope that there is a God who loves you and cares for you. SO much that He sent His only Son to Earth to die for you. While Mary could have never known what was about to unfold, she definitely had faith in a mighty and powerful God who could do all things- including allowing a virgin to give birth to the Savior.

So for all you mothers out there, be like Mary. Have faith even when things are hard!  We may not see all the moving pieces of God’s plan, but He knows! Let him lead the way. Walk by faith!

While we have not been given the mission of being the Mother of our Savior, we have been given the gift of this Savior. We have been given the opportunity to live with God because God came to us!

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“For we walk by faith, not by sight.”

2 Corinthians 5:7

 

 

Part of the Story

My boys have gone a kick where they enjoy making books. They draw sequential pictures to their stories and occasionally add some words. Then they will assemble their books with a three-hole punch and three pieces of yarn.

Earlier today my son was sharing one of his books with me. I opened up what I assumed to be the cover and started to “read it.” He quickly corrects me flipping the book to the last page. “Mom that’s the end. Start here.”

Oh, my bad… I didn’t realize that I was starting at the end. Or that his book was assembled backwards. Nonetheless, I needed to read the book in “order.”

This got me thinking. How many times do I start in the wrong spot of a story?

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It’s easy to walk in on someone else’s story and assume I know the beginning, middle or the end. I may have one important detail; therefore, I know everything… This couldn’t be further from the truth!

For people who “know” me, it’s easy to make assumptions about who I am. You may read my blog, follow me on Facebook, or watch my family while we’re out and about. Based on all these interactions you may assume you know me or know my character. I’ll be honest, you may make some pretty accurate assumptions. But I know you may give me too much credit… or possibly not enough…

Some people may know me from high school or college. These people have a part of the story but have missed chapters that have made me who I am today. These people have a piece of the story that some people I know today do not have.  When I was younger, I was crazier. I was wild. I chased what the world had to offer. I did not really know God, and I definitely did not try to walk with Him.

Other people may not really know me, but they know someone who does know me. The stories they hear about me are filtered. Whether or not these people like me is completely dependent on the perspective of the person who claims to know me.

If I’m really honest, not many people have the full story of who I am. Parts of my story are purposely not told. Not because I do not trust you with it. Not because it is not important. But because some things have a time and place to be shared.

It does no good to share a sob story when everyone is celebrating life. It does no good to share my success while others are mourning. The Bible tells us to rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who are mourning.

I think all too often people forget to realize that everyone has a story. Everyone experiences joys and disappointments. Just because someone responds, “I’m good,” doesn’t actually mean that’s how they are doing.

There are so many days that I do that. So many days I put on my Sunday best- including a smile, and walk into Church. These days can be crazy and hectic. But as I walk into church, no one knows the story of the morning.

Like last Sunday when I had to go to the grocery store before Church. I only had 3 items to check out- but they had to be purchased before leaving for church. I had these items in the cart and ready to check out in less than 5 minutes… But I got in line at 8:57… three minutes before Schnucks will sell alcohol.  Guess what the four people in front of me were trying to purchase… beer, liquor, wine, and wine coolers. I guess the cashier decided to scan the alcohol before nine o’clock, so when the first person in line tried to pay, he was unable to do so. Instead of re-scanning the items, they decide to wait. Well, at 9:05… now 8 minutes after I had been standing in line… she calls a manager. This manger cannot figure out what’s going on. So more waiting. And more waiting. And finally the four people in front of me check out with their adult beverages. I can check out. But the cashier decides she needs to talk to the lady at the next counter about what just happened. Here I am- trying really hard to stay patient with my six children in and beside the cart. Knowing I have to be at church- 30 minutes away- in 40 minutes.

I am frustrated. I just want to leave. My time feels wasted. I feel rushed. But I am holding it all together. I turn on my Jesus Jams and head to church. As soon as I get to church, I start smiling at everyone and telling them I am good. I am good. I just had a rough morning. It’s part of the story that feels inappropriate to tell even my mother-in-law sitting beside me.

Every single person at church had a morning story. I bet some of them had a happy breakfast with their families. I’m sure someone overslept. I’m also positive someone else felt rushed. Me- I had a frustrating shopping trip.

We are all human. We all have stories that do not feel worthy of being shared. Share them anyways. Someone can relate. But more than that, we are the body of Christ. If I am feeling off, it is important to ask someone to pray for me. They don’t need all the details about why it was frustrating (we need to avoid gossiping and putting down others), but there really is something powerful about knowing you are not alone. What is even more powerful is inviting God our heavenly Father into the situation. He cares and wants to be apart of it, but God will not force His way into it. Invite Him in and watch what a difference it will make.

Remember we all struggle. We all fall short. We all have days where we feel like we are on top of the world, and then days where nothing seems to work in our favor. But as sisters and brothers in Christ, it is important to ask each other for prayer and support. We do no have to do life alone.

One of the most amazing realizations I had, was when my husband and I were sharing our early marriage struggles with another Christian couple. They laughed at each other and then said, “What do you think we used to do?”   I don’t know what they did- I wasn’t there for that part of their story. But those few words lifted a burden off me. I wasn’t alone. We weren’t alone. They’ve been there. They got through it. We can get through it too.

So don’t judge someone based on the part of the story you know. But more than that, be willing to share parts of your story that may not be glamorous, so that others can see the hope you have in Christ! You never know how much a simple, “I’ve been there,” can change a person’s outlook.

 

“Where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am.”

Matthew 18:20

 

 

 

Thank God He’s Not Like the Weatherman

I’ve lived in St. Louis for the last nine years, and something happened for the very first time this month… The weatherman got the snow forecast right!!! Granted the snow forecast for St. Louis was 2-10 inches of snow… but we actually got what was predicted.

People in St. Louis really do not count on the weatherman’s predictions. This is why schools do not close until the morning of the snow. People who live outside St. Louis probably think, “St. Louis? Oh, the Midwest- they’re used to all the snow- right?” WRONG!!!

We rarely get snow that actually covers the grass. Instead we get bitter cold winds and icy roads. Please remember- this is the first time in 9 years that the predication was accurate!!! (Unless they were simply calling for a dusting…) So, for those of you not from St. Louis, let me tell you how it works.

A few days before: Snow is in the forecast.

                   Yeah right? I’ll believe it when I see it.

2 days before: Snow is still in the forecast.

                   Maybe I’ll go to the store for my French toast supplies- milk, eggs, and bread. But  I still don’t think it will snow.

The day before: Snow is still in the forecast.

                  Go to the store along with everyone else in the area to get French toast supplies only to find out they are out of milk or eggs.

Day of the predicted snow:

                      Oh, snow did fall… barely… but the roads are covered in ice. Better listen to the radio and not go out unless I have to… even once the roads are cleared… stay inside where it is warm.

Unless you are my husband… then you will take your truck out and spin circles                   on an empty interstate because you can…

Winter in St. Louis is interesting for sure. You never know what you are going to get.

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Praise God that He is not like our weatherman! When God speaks, His people should listen.  We can be sure that He is faithful, and His words are true! The Bible is full of God’s promises and His plans to fulfill all those promises.

Just to name a few: Noah- to never flood the Earth again, Abraham- His descendants would be a numerous as the stars, Moses- He would deliver Israel out of slavery, David- to establish his throne.

I am sure that Abraham and Sarah probably felt like God was like our weatherman while waiting for their promised child. Our weatherman was a little vague about the snow fall. 2-10 inches is a huge difference. They were promised a son, but when? They were unsure. Though they tried to get their son through their own scheming, God had a plan. And God did come through at an unexpected time. He gave Abraham and Sarah a son in their old age for HIS glory!

But God’s promises are not limited to the characters in the Bible. He extends promises to us as well!

After man fell in the Garden of Eden, God had a plan to restore creation. That plan was Jesus Christ. Jesus came to Earth as a baby to fulfill the promise God made to Adam and Eve in Genesis 3:15, “ I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heal.”

God was talking about Jesus! From the beginning He had a plan to save us from ourselves! Because of the work Jesus did for us on the cross, we can have eternal life with God! But there’s even more- we can be in relationship with God while we are living on Earth through the Holy Spirit!

It can be so easy to fall in the traps of the world. The world says build yourself up. The world says you need more stuff- more money, more possession, more, more, more. The world tells you to keep chasing. But Hebrew 13:5 says, “5Keep your lives free from the love of money. Be happy with what you have…” God has said, “…I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

If we have Christ, we have all we need.

We don’t have to wonder if God is telling the truth-we know He is! For those who have accepted Christ, we have the Holy Spirit residing in us! A promise fulfilled and a gift to us all!

God has started a good work in you, and He is faithful to see it out to completion. Trust him.

 

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.

Hebrews 11:1

 

Swinging the Bat

Sunday after church my kids were playing in the gym. My kids love to “play sports,” but they have not really been trained or taught how to play most sports. They have some basic knowledge of how to use the equipment, but proficiency is not a reality. They definitely do not know the rules of the sports.

Anyways, two of my children decided to try to play “baseball” with a plastic bat and ball. One of them threw the ball like it was the perfect pitch. The other swung the bat as if the ball had come straight to her. Then she yells, “Awe man, strike.” The problem… the ball went behind her… If she understood the game at all, she never would have swung the bat.

Of course, I’m an outsider looking in. I know the rules of baseball. I know the ability level of my children as well as their knowledge of the sport. But I, mom, sat back, laughed, and watched. I just let them pretend to play.

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There have been so many times in my life that I have done the same thing as my kids- just pretend like I knew what was going on. Play the game by the few set of standards I knew. I mean… seriously, every new stage of my life I pretty much lived by the motto, “Fake it till you make it.”

Life doesn’t come with instructions. You maybe able to read a good book with helpful suggestions, but even a one, two, three approach will not work for everyone.

I can remember sitting in the hospital after having our first baby. It was like the nurse handed me a tiny living human and said, “Here you go.” I had no idea what I was doing. The first time I changed his diaper, I got a golden shower. Then I had to call the nurse to help me swaddle him back up. I felt completely inadequate. I had no idea what I was doing.

I can also remember being led to read my Bible as I began my faith walk. I had no idea what I was doing. I knew a few passages. I had been prompted to read a couple others. But beyond that, I had no idea what to do.

Being the introvert that I am, I did not exactly reach out for help. I really have to give my husband some major kudos here. He could see a shift and desire to draw nearer to God. I started reading like crazy. But he also saw that I was reading a lot of books about the Bible and not very often was I actually in my Bible. He tabbed me a new Bible and started encouraging me to look up the scripture those books were referring to. Once he saw me actually taking his advice, he slowly prompted me to start reading one of the Gospels. Before long, I was in my Bible regularly.

Instead of sitting back and laughing as I swung and missed, he guided me. He didn’t ridicule my slow progress. He recognized the direction I was comfortable with and used it.

Now this could have gone in a completely different direction. If he would have just come out swinging, telling me I needed to get in my Bible and to put those silly books up, I probably would not have taken his advice.

Sometimes I think, we as Christians, expect other Christians to be in the same spot as us on their walk and hold them to that standard. I can remember being convicted to turn off the TV and only watch or listen to shows and music that would enhance my walk. Someone very close to me (my husband), did not have this conviction. I was being convicted to guard my heart and be still. At times it was frustrating that my husband was listening to secular music or entertaining a silly pointless sitcom on TV. However, pointing out that those shows were senseless, and those songs were about worldly things, did no good. The Holy Spirit was working on me in this area- not him.

He was being worked on in another area that I did not struggle with.

Looking back, it’s clear why the Spirit moved on me in this direction. I lived a life of distraction, of noise. I needed to turn off that noise, so I could learn how to walk with God and learn how to hear from Him.

I think it is extremely important to realize, other Christians need us to come along side of them in their walk. They need encouragement, love, and support. What they do not need is someone imposing their convictions on them. The Holy Spirit works on every single one of us. Sometimes we may have the same convictions as another, but that may not always be the case.

I am forever grateful for the people God put in my path to help me learn. Instead of watching me swing the bat when the ball was nowhere around, they came into my life as Godly examples. They encouraged me. They offered suggestions on where to start.

We are called to build each other up in love. We need each other. We need support. If you see someone swinging the bat when the ball in nowhere near them, come along side of them and gently guide them.

Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.

1 Thessalonians 5:11

 

 

 

Change of Perspective

My children love to do the Hidden Picture puzzles in magazines. We have a stack of Highlights magazines on our books shelves that have accumulated over the years.  Yet, these magazines continued to be viewed over and over again specifically for the Hidden Picture Puzzles. Recently, my girls realized how much they enjoy doing these puzzles, but it takes them a little longer to do them than it does my boys.

A couple days ago, my 4 year-old asked for my help to find a certain item in the picture. We looked and looked. I almost told her to go ask her brother. Then she says, “Hey mom, let’s just turn the page to the side and see if that helps.” Within a minute or so, she had found the item she had asked for help with.

A change in perspective. That’s all it took.

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Does this ever happen to you? Could you have ever just need a change in perspective? I know I have.

A few years ago, I had a coworker that literally drove me crazy. Just the sound of her voice made me cringe. I was working as an elementary school teacher, meaning my adult interaction was very limited and much appreciated. But when I did get a break and I caught sight of this woman, I tried to turn the other way. At one point I actually felt like she was imposing on my ability to do my job. She was a very strong woman with strong opinions… and I am a more of the keep the peace type of person. I really did not like this woman though I am not sure that many people knew this.

At this point in my walk, I was heavily being convicted on my desire for drama and gossip. I really wanted to vent my frustrations to another coworker. They would understand. They may be able to give me some advice on how to handle her. However, I also knew that doing this would turn into a gossip session… and I was trying very hard to only have positive conversations about others.

So, what’s a girl to do? I came home to vent my frustrations to my husband. Now, my husband is not really the kind of person to just give you a listening ear. He’s more of a Mr. Fix-it type of person.

So, when I took a break in my venting session, my husband looked at me and said, “Are you done?”

Oh, I wanted to keep going, but I knew I probably shouldn’t. So, I nodded and waited.

My husband then said to me, “Renee, it sounds like you need to pray for her.”

WHAT! Pray for her! I can’t even stand the thought of her name! How am I going to pray for her?

“Trust me, Renee. Pray for her,” he assured me.

I did. Reluctantly at first. I don’t really know what I expected. I knew she wouldn’t just magically turn into Mary Poppins. But I started praying for her, her family, her happiness.

As I started praying for her, I did notice a difference. But not so much in her, but in me. I was no longer so easily annoyed by her. My thoughts swaying in my mind when she spoke were no longer the negative- please just stop talking. But I was actually listening. When I saw her during breaks, I would have a short conversation with her and go about my day. I actually ended up enjoying this woman’s company before long.

So what changed? My perspective. By offering up God my frustrations with this person, He was able to change my heart towards her. I no longer saw her as an enemy or as an annoying coworker to escape. I started seeing her as a person, as an image-bearer of God. I started noticing I was taking things she said too personally. She was not trying to impose on my classroom but offer friendly suggestions. She was a person, too. She just communicated differently than I did.

I can honestly say that after seeing the result of praying for someone who drives me up a wall, I have started praying for other people much more quickly and much more often.

When we can see people as people, as an image bearer of God, we can start to see that they too have highs and lows, problems and joys, limited time, different ways of communicating, and the list goes on… But that is no reason to treat them any differently than we would want to be treated.

Sometimes problems we encounter, whether another person or a physical barrier, need a change in perspective.  I have had to learn to stop wallowing in self-pity about things I have no control over and just give it up to God. Instead of feeling like a victim of a circumstance, I ask God how can I grow from this? What lesson are you trying to teach me? Or show me another way Lord.

I truly believe that sometimes God closes doors and tells us no because we need a change in perspective. We need to see people, things, situations, and ourselves the way God sees them.

 

 

 

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,”

Matthew 5:43-44

 

Embrace Change

Well, I think it’s officially fall in Missouri! One day it was over 70 degrees, then a cold front came through, and now it’s 40. The cool crisp temperatures have been anticipated, but when they finally arrived it shocked us all.

This morning my kids wanted to go outside after breakfast. One of my children came to the door in shorts and a T-shirt. “Honey, you need pants to go outside. It’s a little chilly out there.”

She reluctantly went to change. Seconds later, the older children were asking for hats and gloves. Within a few minutes, my child who was dressed for summer suddenly looked as if it had snowed outside. She was bundled in her winter coat, hat, gloves, and a scarf. Though I thought it may be overkill, I let them go outside dressed for the snow.

While I know my child still needs to learn the appropriate clothing to wear for the weather, I realize that change, even when expected, takes some time to adjust.

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Now I will admit, I have struggled with change. Especially when it came to my Walk with Christ.

I grew up in a very traditional church. I held onto those traditions, without fully understanding the reasons behind those traditions. They were habits, not time set aside to grow closer to God.

Attending a different type of church felt all kinds of wrong. I was used to a certain order. I was used to certain songs. I knew exactly what to say and do and when to do it. It was comfortable.

However, these new churches we were attending, were not. First off, they gave us coffee when we entered and offered a time to talk to each other before service started. I was used to just blending in, coming and going without having to talk to a bunch of people.

They usually started service off with a band or a group of people jamming out and worshiping Jesus. I was used to traditional songs at set times throughout the service.

Then the pastor would give a sermon. These sermons were usually very good, biblical, and practical. However, it didn’t feel like Church. It felt like Bible study.

Finally, there would be some sort of closing, usually with a song. That was exactly what I was used to.  However, sometimes we would have communion in the middle of service, sometimes we wouldn’t. Sometimes they would take tithes and offering at the beginning, sometimes at the end.  Sometimes there would be a Baptism in the middle of service. Sometimes they would ask us to get up and find a group of people to pray with. It was unpredictable.

In my old church I knew what to expect. I knew what to do. Yes, maybe most of the time I was just going through the motions, but I didn’t have to experience that unknown. Nine times out of ten I couldn’t even tell you what songs we sang or what the message was about, but I was there.

I struggled with the change at first. See all my family and friends still attended the traditional Churches. I felt like I was doing something wrong. In fact, for almost a year I didn’t tell any of those people that we were no longer attending that type of service.

As I started seeing a growth in my walk and understanding what it meant to Walk with Christ, I slowly let my guard down. I began to share that we were now attending a non-denominational Church. I began to share the changes that were happening in my life. Surprisingly, no one really cared that I no longer attended the traditional Church.  They only cared that I was going to Church.

I slowly began to recognize the Holy Spirit and His prompting in my life. I became more and more open with my faith and much more willing to share my faith.  Though I knew a change was needed and anticipated that change, it was still uncomfortable. It still took me some time to adjust and share. But as I look back, each change, no matter how long it took me to adjust, has completely impacted my Walk with Christ.

Please know, I am in no way telling you to stop going to a traditional church. Each person is on their own spiritual journey. For some people, they can grow closer to God through traditions. My stumbling block was not the Church or the traditions, but the way I approached Church. I had the problem of just going through the motions that needed a radical change. I needed to step out of my comfort zone and trust God to lead me.

Something I have learned is that God does not call us to be comfortable. I have heard many people say that they believe God wants us to be happy (implying that we should just overlook our sin that makes us happy). But that’s not really true. God doesn’t call us to be happy, but He calls us to be holy. The process of becoming holy, being like Christ, is a life-long journey full of uncomfortable moments and changes.

By embracing a radical change, I found myself experiencing God in a way I never knew was possible. Each day I am growing in relationship with Him, learning more of what it means to be His child, and striving share this with others.

Change may not feel good in the moment, even if you are anticipating it.  But God is faithful.

Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

Philippians 1:6

It Takes Some Practice

This morning I was working with my first grader on his math assignment. I looked at the problem and said, “What’s six plus six?”

Within a matter of seconds, he spewed out, “Twelve.”

I read the next problem, and just as quickly he answered it. Suddenly his eyes widened, and he said, “Hey- I know this! Mom, how do I know this?”

“You’ve been practicing. Remember all those games I made you play that you didn’t want to play.”

“Ohhh!” He grabbed his workbook and went back to the table to finish his assignment.

The situation had me laughing, because just a couple weeks ago he didn’t want to play all those games I opened up on the internet. He didn’t feel like he needed to practice his facts. He was perfectly content with counting on his fingers. And now he knows those facts a little better, he can recall the information a little bit faster. Now math assignments are a little bit easier.

Maybe next time I open those games up for practice, he will happily practice- knowing that they are helping him grow… maybe… but my son is stubborn just like his momma. He will probably forget, drag his feet, and reluctantly play the games I am “forcing him to play.”

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This is very much like spiritual discipline. Praying, mediating, reading scripture, fellowship, fasting, stewardship, all these things sometimes feel like things I HAVE to do. But through obedience, practice, and time I grow to appreciate these disciplines and see the results because God meets me there.

For example, when I first became a Christian, I didn’t have a problem consulting Google for Bible verses. But after spending time in prayer, reading my Bible, and even memorizing verses- I have seen these verses come to me in unexpected ways.

Sometimes this happens to me at Church. Someone I am sitting next to may ask for prayer. As I start to pray over this person and I open my mouth outcome the words of scripture that I had locked away in my heart. Timely words. Placed into practice. Prayers I offered up, but were 100% inspired by the Holy Spirit prompting me to say what I had been studying.

Other times those words I have been studying come to me as conviction. One time I was having an argument with my husband. I grabbed my blankets and decided to sleep on the couch. As I went out to the couch I started praying, “God, please convict my husband of what a jerk he is being. He did this, that, and this…”

As I sat there listing my wrongs, I felt this stir in my heart, “Love keeps no record of right and wrong.” Convicted!

Had I not spent time studying, meditating, and memorizing scripture, I am not sure that the Holy Spirit could have worked in me the same way.

Much like my son was shocked that he suddenly knew his addition facts, I tend me be shocked that the words I have been studying come to me when needed.

Don’t be content counting on your fingers. Learn your facts.

Don’t be content looking up verses online. Read them. Memorize them. Mediate on the word. Lock those words away in your heart.

“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,”

2 Timothy 3:16