Trusting

My husband picked up a pretty cool hobby while I was pregnant with one of our more recent babies. Tree climbing… but not like when we were kids jumping from branch to branch… more like climbing a rope to the top of a tree. As he was doing all the research and beginning to do it, I was a little envious. My growing belly would not allow me to partake in this new found hobby.

This may surprise you- we’ve been married almost 10 years. We have six kids. This means I have pretty much been pregnant half our marriage. I just accepted that a lot of these activities I will not be able to do for a while. So, I don’t even have a list of things I want to do when I no longer have a baby growing in my belly.

Well, recently my husband pulled out the climbing gear to do a project, realized I hadn’t climbed a tree yet, and said, “Wanna climb a tree?”

Heck yeah, I did! I put on the harness and listened as he explained what each little gadget was and how to use it. Then it was time to go up the tree. As I was climbing, I actually considered not going all the way to the top branch.

My husband told me, “Just trust the equipment.”

If I am being honest, I have no problem with heights. (I can be a little bit of an adrenalin junkie. I’ve gone sky-diving three times.)

I also had no problem trusting the equipment. I had just seen it support him all the way up and down the tree.

I didn’t trust myself to properly use the equipment.

trusting

I am definitely in that spot in my walk with Christ. I trust Him fully (well that’s what I say anyways…) I know he can do all things. I’ve witnessed Him change me, give me peace, give me a new purpose, work in the lives of those around me.

But in some areas of my life, I trust myself first, and turn to God as a back-up plan…

I’m a parent. I love my kids with all my heart. I truly want what’s best for them… but sometimes I wish it were a little easier.

I’m quick to say I trust God with my kids. I know God has a plan for my kids. I’m excited to have a front row seat and witness that. However, that also means I have to do the not-so-fun parts of parenting- training, guiding, disciplining, instilling positive characteristic.

Let me just say, this is not something that comes naturally to me. I am a peacekeeper by nature. I want to just overlook issues and help everyone get along. That does not work with rearing children.

They have to be taught right from wrong. When they make a poor decision, we have to correct it and teach them why it is wrong.

A few days ago, my boys got caught watching something they were not given permission to watch on YouTube. So, I grounded them from the tablets. (They were already grounded from the television.) Seemed like a fair punishment (and even my boys agreed…)

But that didn’t stop them from telling me how much they didn’t like me, how unfair it was, and so on.

What did I do? I would love to tell you I stopped, prayed, and asked God for direction.

But I didn’t. I tried to talk to my boys.

Yep, that was a mistake. I ended up getting my feelings hurt by their words that were really just a reaction to a feeling.

I called my husband. Let me just tell you, God blessed me with an amazing husband.

When he got home from work, he had a conversation with my boys. I listened from the other room, and honestly, I was in awe over the direction of the conversation.

He started off asking them who taught them to tie their shoes. (mom) Who taught them to ride their bikes? (dad and mom) Who taught them to lie?

Wait no one…

Who taught you to be disrespectful?

No one…

“No one had to teach you that, son. It’s part of the fall of man.” He then went on to get out a Bible, read the fall from Genesis, and explain to the boys that sin is part of our nature. And that is was our job, as parents, to teach you right from wrong, to help you overcome the temptation to sin. But we all sin. We all fall short. We are going to mess up. But when we mess up, we have to make it right. (Seriously it was good. So good, there may be an early chapter book in the making.)

Parenting win, because of my husband.

Me? I went to bed defeated. Somedays I feel like I’m a rock-star of a mom! Somedays I wonder how I will survive another 18 years…

As I went to bed, I had an honest talk with God. I let him know I was defeated. I let him know I didn’t know what to do. And I got this conviction- Do you trust me with your kids?

Of course, God.

No, Renee. Do you trust me with your kids? You have to lean into me. Every second of everyday. Stop trying to do it on your own.

You see… I do trust God… but only in some areas… in most areas, I trust myself. I look to my own knowledge, my own understanding, my own abilities. It’s like I get in the car with God, but I want to be holding the steering wheel. I have to take my hands off that wheel and trust.

Do you think Moses had any idea what God could do when he came to the Red Sea with the Egyptian Army not far behind? If he had tried to do things his way, they would have all died. If he had asked God to only do things the way he wanted them, they may have survived (and returned to slavery I’m sure.) They definitely would have missed walking through the Red Sea on dry ground.

When Jesus’ disciples needed to feed the crowd of thousands, how do you think they would have solved that problem. Me, I would have sent them away. Or I would have prayed that someone would have enough money to support a large, large pizza delivery. But Jesus, multiplied what they did have.

We have to have faith to fully trust God, or we will miss out on what He is doing around us! Lean not on your own understanding, but in all your ways submit to Him!

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.

Proverbs 3:5-6

Looking for the Blessings

 

It’s finally spring in St. Louis! This winter seemed like the longest winter ever!!! But spring in St. Louis is just about as unpredictable as the winter.

Sunday afternoon my kids were outside playing, and I called them in because of a random thunderstorm. They came in to draw and color at the kitchen table.

Suddenly my oldest looks up seeing a bright light shinning in from the window. “Mom! Mom! The sun is out, and it’s still raining. There’s a rainbow. I know it.”

“Well, go find it,” I responded.

Quick as a flash, he sprinted out the front door and within seconds he was shouting, “I found it! I knew it! There’s the rainbow!”

Before I knew it, we were all outside in the rain looking at a beautiful “ark-ed” rainbow! (That’s how my kids put it- yes, it’s a pun off of Noah’s Ark.)

As I put my kids to bed that night, the girls’ prayer included the line, “And thank you God for the rainbow you sent.”

How blessed am I to witness my kids recognizing God’s blessings! I mean, even before they saw the rainbow, they saw the signs that there could be a rainbow, they looked for it, and they praised God for it!

They were looking for the blessing, and they saw it!

1553797999500

The entire earth is filled with God’s blessings! We are blessed abundantly.

However, sometimes we get to caught up in our daily lives… our routines… our agendas to recognize it.

I’ll be honest. I never would have went looking for that rainbow had my son not pointed out the facts and went looking for himself. I would have completely missed it.

I’m currently doing a small group Bible study called Experiencing God. (It’s a very good study so far!) One of the questions that was brought up at the very beginning was- Is God always at work?

Yes!

John 5:17, “But Jesus answered them, `My Father is working until now, and I am working.”

God is always at work. The Holy Spirit is at work in the lives of all believers. He is leading, convicting, inspiring, and directing them.

The problem is, some people just say Jesus is the King of my heart which is on paying lip service to the statement. The reality is that the throne of their life belongs to his/herself. When your thoughts are selfish and turned inward, you miss the blessings around you.

The whole earth sings praises to God! All creation glorifies Him! Jesus says in Luke 19:40, “He answered, ‘I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.” Jesus said that because His disciples were praising Him as He road into the city on a colt, and the Pharisees were ticked off about it.

God is always at work, yet somehow me miss it… Somehow our sin nature sways us to glorify ourselves. We overlook the obvious blessing right in front of our eyes.

A few years ago, I was at a wedding, and we needed a way to get a huge group of people up the mountain for a wedding. Someone just happens to accidently get a 14-passenger van instead of the SUV they requested. That was God blessing us with transportation! How amazing!! God had a better plan for our transportation needs, because we hadn’t thought that far in advance.

Your kids want to learn to play Chess. The library is giving free lessons. And their teacher sends your kids home with a free board. That’s a blessing from God! Yes, he used other people to accomplish that blessing!

You can’t find your car keys… End up running late for that appointment… But as you get in the car and head that way, you hear a traffic report of a car accident backing up traffic in the direction you would normally go. Yes, maybe an inconvenience, but definitely God’s protection and provision.

Your child sees flowers, picks them up, and gives them to a random worker at Walmart. Now, you and this random person get to have a conversation about God with your kids!

Guys, if I didn’t know God, His character, or anything about His ways, I could chalk all these things up to luck. But luck is chance. This is not luck. God does not deal in luck; He deals in well thought out blessings that we clearly could have never thought of.

On another note, isn’t it funny how we blame God when things go bad? Yet, He is right there providing blessings while we try to give the credit to luck or something other than God… like ourselves.

He is always at work. To this very day.

Our job is to see where God is at work and join Him! When you get the silent tug at your heart to talk to the person behind in you while standing in line, do it. Don’t worry about what your plans were, go do what the Spirit is leading you to do! When you get that urge to help a young mom with several kids unload her groceries, do it. Don’t be afraid to show Jesus through you! When you see an older person, smile and make small talk. Engage them in that talk! It might be a game changer for their day. I get it, these things will require you to stop being self-centered, but that’s the point. Let me say this with as much force as I can in text, JESUS DIDN’T DIE FOR YOU TO BE SELF-CENTERED; HE DID IT SO YOU COULD BE GOD CENTERED!!

You have no idea how God is using you to bless others. But I can 100% guarantee this: once you start allowing God to use you to bless others, your eyes will begin to open to all the ways He is already blessing you.

Just because you don’t see it, doesn’t mean it isn’t happening. I promise- Look and you will see.

Buttered-Up

So, I have been making an effort to eat healthier. I looked into all those fad diets, but decided that ultimately, I needed to have a healthy relationship with food and eat a balanced diet.

Let me be honest, I have been a yo-yo dieter since I realized I could lose-weight. As a result, I have struggled with eating healthy. God created everything good- right? So why should my food taste horrible? I had to find a way to eat healthy foods and enjoy it.

I realized that as I have made this shift in my eating habits, my kids want to as well. They have started requesting salads and omelets for lunch and seem to always be asking for a bite of whatever I am eating.

However, I made broccoli to go with dinner a couple nights ago. Let’s just say, not one of my kids was happy to learn that broccoli was on the menu. But I put some butter and seasoning on the broccoli and all the sudden they were all asking for more.

I would like to think that’s because they learned broccoli wasn’t all that bad. But really, I buttered and spiced up the broccoli, so that they would like it.

1552509808259

All too often, we, as Christians, try to appeal to non-believers with Christianity that is all buttered up. Accept Jesus as your Savior and you will be blessed. Come to church on Sunday, follow a few rules, and now you are going to Heaven.

We sell this religion… this way of life… but we are missing a key element. The Gospel!

Why do we need Christ?

Who is Jesus?

Why did He come to this world?

It’s foundational, but without this missing component of our need for a Savior, we are simply being good people. Anyone can make a choice to be a good person.

But Christians aren’t just good people. We are God’s people. We are imitating Christ! We love because he loved us first.

It has nothing to do with our works, and everything to do with His love for us.

We are sinners. We live in a world created by a loving Creator. But sin has destroyed our world. We need a Savior. God loved the world so much that He sent his only Son to die for us, to take on the punishment we deserve. Three days later He rose from the grave, defeating death and giving us the hope of eternal life.

The Gospel needs no butter. It is a perfect, beautiful gift on its own.

However, walking with Christ is not easy. This is where we add all the butter and spice and everything nice. We say things like, “God won’t give us more than we can handle.” (Which is not true. God will give you more than you can handle because he wants you to rely on His strength not you own.)

We tell people God is always with them, and they can do all things through Christ who gives them strength. When these people attend Church, they see people who appear happy and blessed honoring God. It seems to be all sun-shine and roses. But right now, the seed we are throwing is not reaching fertile soil.  We have only sold the life-style not a real and personal relationship with Christ.

While this is good-intentioned and may have some foundational truths, we need to equip new believers. We need to teach them to read their Bibles. We need to teach them to pray. We need to invite them to fellowship. When they are struggling, we need to be the hands and feet coming along side of them, so that they know they are not alone. We need to help that person realize it will not be easy, but it will be worth it.

If we fail to do this, we are simply bringing another person to Church. We are not making disciples. We are making false claims to Christianity.

How can you be a Christian without looking like Christ?

I ask you, was Jesus’ life all sunshine and roses? (No.) Did he need to know and study the word so that it would be in his heart when the enemy came to tempt him? (Absolutely!) Did people oppose Jesus? (yes!) Was He misunderstood? (you bet!)

Did Jesus tell new believers, come to Church? No! He told them repent… Sin no more… your sins are forgiven.  He called them to change their ways.

Jesus is our model. We need to follow His example. Somehow, Christianity took on a religion and stopped mirroring Christ. When people were first called Christians, it wasn’t a good thing. It was meant as degrading, “Man you look a lot like that Christ guy…” or, “You Christians…”

Just like the cross, those things that were meant for bad, became symbols of triumph! However, let’s not forget where they came from.

If we are going to say we are Christians, we need to try to be like Christ. He is the example. We can never measure up, but we can grow and learn with the help of the Holy Spirit.

You cannot sell a butter-up version of the Gospel to nonbelievers. Jesus calls us to change our lives. But He doesn’t make us do it alone. He gives us the free gift of the Holy Spirit. He blesses us with other Christians to do life with! Take advantage of the fullness of the Gospel!

 “In your lives you must think and act like Christ Jesus. Christ himself was like God in everything. But he did not think that being equal with God was something to be used for his own benefit. But he gave up his place with God and made himself nothing. He was born to be a man and became like a servant.  And when he was living as a man, he humbled himself and was fully obedient to God, even when that caused his death — death on a cross.”
Philippians 2:5-8

Hitting the Nail

The first Saturday of the month I try to take my kids to the Home Depot children’s workshops. They love using the hammers, nails, screwdrivers, and screws while building the project of the month. I’m pretty sure their favorite part of the project is the painting though!

This month, I told the kids they couldn’t paint… mean mom, I know. (We had places to be afterwards, and I didn’t want to have to mess with paint covered kids.)

Anyways. There’s only one of me and now five children who are trying to follow directions, build, and properly complete the project. My older kids have gotten pretty good at reading the directions and working on their own.

However, as I was helping #4 hammer some nails into her project, one of the kids comes to me with frustrated tears. “My nail is bent.” I helped “said-child” pull the nail out and get another.

Seconds later another child has a similar complaint, “My nail won’t go in straight.” Once again, I pulled the nail out and gave the child a new nail.

“Guys, your nails are not the problem. The way you are hitting them with the hammer is the problem. You have to hit it straight on. If you hit it sideways, the nail will go sideways.”

I watched each kid hit the nail, made some slight adjustments, and then sent them back to complete their task.

However, I realize I have bent some “nails” in my daily walk with Christ. Specifically, with my prayers.

1551637465355

I so quickly throw up my arms and wonder why God isn’t hearing me when I pray.

I want things my way. Why don’t I see results?

Well, the truth is that there is no problem with God; there’s a problem with my prayers.

Prayer is a gift from God. A way of communication with Him.

When I pray me focused prayers, I miss the mark. When I start treating God like a fast food restaurant demanding things “my way,” I will always be disappointed.

See, everything around me is HIS work. He has graciously invited me to be part of it. Instead of expecting God to do things my way, I need to recognize His ways. I need to submit to His will, His plan, always.

A bent nail I come in contact with often is when my praying is more of a “wish list.” Even my “wish-list” for others. It’s good to present our request to God, but prayer has the power to be so much more! Prayer is not meant to be solely an intercessory thing. It’s communication with God. It’s glorifying Him. It’s acknowledging how Great He is!

Ok- Here’s another bent nail that I don’t like to admit. Sometimes when people ask me to pray for them, I don’t. I used to keep a list of prayer request. Then in my alone time, I would present these requests to God. This is a really good thing to do. It helps remind you of who you agreed to pray for. However, I am a mom of many small children. Many times, the people I said I would pray for never made it to my list. I needed to make some sort of change.

At the same time, I was playing a game called “Clash of Clans.” I have been part of an awesome Christian clan for a few years now. One of the members recognized she did the same thing and said she was going to stop saying, “I’ll pray for you,” and start praying for them. So now, when people ask for prayer. I stop what I am doing and lift that person up in prayer. If I am scrolling through social media and I see a prayer request, I stop scrolling and specifically lift that request up to God.

Prayer is a powerful tool that Jesus gave us by taking our place on the cross. And it works…when done with the proper heart and posture.

But so many times I feel like we all miss the mark. Prayer should not be just about us, but all about Him! Our prayers should praise God, thank God, ask for forgiveness, pray for provision, pray for intercessory, peace, understanding, and ask for God to show you where He is already at work so that you can join Him.

When we simply pray prayers centered around us, we are hitting the nail… but slightly to the right or left. Something’s not quite right. If we keep hitting the nail like that, it will bend or break the wood.

I’m sorry to say that people stop praying when they don’t feel like their prayers are being heard. So instead of setting yourself up for a broken nail, pray that the Holy Spirit will guide you and show you how to realign your prayers to be within His will.

 

king of my heart

“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people,” Ephesians 1:18 (NIV)

 

 

But, I Want to Help…

So… our washing machine and dryer decided to stop working properly. The washing machine slowly stopped spinning out fully. As a result, our dryer was having to work overtime and slowly stopped working correctly too. For the last couple of days, I have been in denial as the laundry pile continues to pile higher and higher. I never actually realized that dirty laundry stinks… Usually, I have it in and out in the same day.

My wonderful husband went out and bought a new (to us) washer and dryer. Within the first hours of owning these machines, they did three loads of laundry with a huge stack to go. Then it happened… our new(ish) dryer broke. (Don’t worry my husband has already ordered the parts and is fixing it.)

But here I am with at least 4 more loads of laundry and 2 wet loads… I have to go to the laundry-mat… with six kids…

Immediately after breakfast, we piled the laundry baskets, laundry soap, coloring books, crayons, books to read, and the Chess board into the van and headed to the laundry-mat.

When we arrived I told my kids to make themselves at home in the corner next to a seating area. Coloring books scattered, Chess began, and I was off to put the loads into the machines.

I have really good kids. They did exactly what they were supposed to do. When I asked for help switching the loads, I had five eager helpers (the baby was asleep.) I asked one of my children to stay next to the baby. He did not like that request.

The look on his face was like, `But mom, I want to help.’ He had no idea how much help he was actually being by staying with his sleeping baby brother, so that I could do what I needed to do.

1551230745901

I get it, kid. I do.

Some of you may know that my husband is now a youth minister/pastor. It’s so exciting to see him doing exactly what God called him to. And I really want to volunteer to help out at youth. I really want to be involved.

BUT… I have six kids… and dad doesn’t usually get home on youth nights until well past bed-time.

At first, I was supper bummed. I want to be involved. I want to volunteer. I want to impact the Kingdom like my husband gets to do.

As I was praying about this (and many other frustrations) I was gently reminded that THIS IS my ministry. My kids. My home. My family. I have 18 years with each kid. If they live to be 70, that’s not even one-fourth of their lives. But these years are so important, so formative.

I love to listen to people share their testimonies. One thing that every testimony has in common is the mentioning of parents. Sometimes it is positive… sometimes it is negative… but no matter what, your childhood effects your testimony.  Parents are part of every person’s testimony.

I have six children that I pray grow up to impact the Kingdom in big ways! I know that I am in no way a perfect parent, but I hope I am pointing them to their perfect Heavenly Father.

So right now, volunteering for all these other ministries and such can take a back-seat to my role as mom.

It’s just a season. This season will end. When it does, I can happily accept roles in other areas. But my first, primary, and most important earthly role is to my family. Seeing the importance in my role helped me be at peace with this season in my life.

So when I recognized that look on my son’s face at the laundry-mat, I knew, I recognized, I understood.  He had no idea just how important the job was I asked him to do. After I explained to my son why I needed him to stay with his baby brother, it was like a lightbulb went off in his head. “OHHHH… ok no problem mom.” He went and sat down next to his sleeping brother and happily read a book.

Sometimes the jobs we are given to do, don’t seem that important. It’s hard to see all the moving pieces of the big puzzle of life. Sometimes I wish I knew the big picture. I wish I knew where I would be in 20 years. But then I am selling myself short. I would be just like the Michael in the movie “Click.” (Who kept fast forwarding to the big events and realized he lost what matters most in the process.) The process, waiting, the unknown journey, is just as important as the big events. The big events are awesome, but we have to submit to what seems less important. It’s in those moments that character is made. That learning is going on. The growing occurs.

Sometimes I forget, “We are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them (Ephesians 2:10 ESV).” God knows what he’s doing. Even when we can’t see it. He has a plan. And we are so blessed to be part of that plan!

It’s not our job to understand. It is our job to trust Him.

 

“Trust in the Lord with all you heart, and lean not on your own understand; in all your ways submit to him, and He will make your path straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV

The Chore

Sunday evening I sat in the recliner happily crocheting. Then my oldest brought me up a basket of laundry to fold. I sat in the chair and continued to crochet. Eventually it seemed as if the laundry basket started screaming at me, “Renee, do you see me?” “Renee, it will only take 10 minutes to fold me.” “Renee, fold the laundry.”

But I continued to sit and crochet. I do not want to fold laundry right now. Besides, another load will be up in an hour to fold anyways.

Renee- go fold your laundry.

No- I don’t want to!

This conversation went on in my head for a little bit, before I finally just stopped, folded laundry, and then went back to crocheting. I probably spent more time arguing with myself than I did actually folding the clothes.

Honestly, I’ve had this same conversation in my head with many different topics.

Renee, you really should start cooking dinner.

Renee, you really should clean that bathroom.

Renee, you really should get out of bed and go read your Bible before the kids get up…

Wait a minute. Did I just put God in the same category as my chores?

1548707258081

Why am I not excited to spend time with God? Why am I treating Him like a chore?

If I treated my husband like a chore, I am positive I would hear about it. If I treated my friends like a chore, I am sure they wouldn’t be my friends very much longer.

Why is it ok to treat God like this?

There is only one reason that I don’t really like to admit- it’s a heart problem. It’s a pride problem. It’s definitely a sin problem.

It’s funny, when I can see and feel God moving, I am eager to spend time in prayer with Him. I am eager to pick up that book and grow closer to God. I have on-going conversations with Him throughout the day. I will randomly turn on “Jesus jams” and just worship where I am at.

But sometimes… sometimes I don’t see the movement. Sometimes I wonder ‘God, where are you?’ I forget, He’s right here with me. I try to take the wheel and steer my own life. But every time I end up broken down on a dirt road, and He chooses to fix it putting me back on the proper path.

My pride tells me to follow the world. My pride tells me when things aren’t moving the way I want them to, I need to make it happen. My pride leaves me broken and in need of my Savior.

So how do I fix my pride… I don’t. I can’t.

No matter how hard I try. I fail. I end up chasing the wind. I have to lay it at the foot of the cross and pray that God will help me overcome it!

20190213_092231

Each morning, my kids read “The Jesus Storybook Bible” together after breakfast. I have been so blessed to be part of this. This particular Bible tells the major Bible stories, but at the conclusion of each story it points back to God’s mighty rescue plan to save his people- Jesus.

Every story. Adam and Eve. Noah. The Tower of Babble. Abraham. Isaac. (That’s as far as we have read.) Each story ends with reflecting on how God knew, loved, and used these people despite their sin nature for His glory. God knew from the beginning we couldn’t do it on our own. He had a rescue plan from the beginning to save us from ourselves. That plan was Jesus.

I will fail. I will fall short. But God already knows that. He already sent His one and only Son to die for me. All I have to do is reach out to Him, accept the gift of His Son that was freely given. Once I embrace this reality, I can start living in the fullness of the Spirit. I can grow in relationship with the Father.

Some days it may feel like a chore. Do it anyway. Pray. Ask God to change your heart. Ask God to help you grow and change your perspective.

It’s not a gimmick. It’s a reality. Don’t let life get in the way of the most important relationship you have!

Intentional

A few days ago, my husband called for me to come to the computer. He opened up a video from 2010 of our oldest as a baby. The adorable little baby (that looked strikingly similar to our current baby) rolled back and forth on a jungle floor mat happily playing by himself. Then he rolled over and our old puppy came in and gave him kisses. It was so adorable.

“Aww!!! That’s so cute! Do we have any videos like that of our other kids?” I asked.

My husband shook his head, “not one.”

I know, I know. It’s the joke that only baby #1 has a completed baby book, perfect month by month pictures, and the like. But baby #2 has an almost blank baby book, thrown together pictures, and so on… Sadly, it’s funny because it’s true. We have sooooo many baby pictures and footprint/handprint art from our first child. He also is the only one of my children to have six “Baby’s first Christmas” ornaments. We were so intentional about documenting and recording his life events.

Then we had more kids. And more kids. And now poor baby #6. When someone ask me how old he is, I’m like, “Well he was born on November 1. You can do the math.” When someone asked me how old my oldest was, I was like, “3 months, 2 days, and 16 hours.”

 

1549500639818

Intentional.

I wonder if I treat my relationship with God like my first child or my 6th child. Somedays I think it’s more like my 2nd child. He has a baby book. He has a ton of pictures. But not as detailed as the first. Not as intentional as the first.

There’s a reason God wants to be first in our lives. He wants us to be intentional about our relationship with him. He wants us to want to document our lives with Him. He wants us to want to grow deeper in faith, obedience, and trust.

When I was a kid, I knew the 10 Commandments. I knew the commandment said, “You shall have no other gods before me.”

Great! I’ll just keep a list of my loves. As long as God is on top, I am ok, right? WRONG!!! When God said this, he did not mean like a check list. He meant, no other gods in my presence.

He wants to be around nothing else that consumes your heart. But in our human minds we can justify our choosing to have other gods.

Well, I’m a wife/mom, my role there is the most important… Be careful not to make your family or your role a god.

Well, I’m their parent, they have to honor me above all else… Be careful not to make yourself their god.

Well, doesn’t God want me to be happy? He will overlook this desire that is pulling me away from His light. First, this is not true. I cringe every time I hear a Christian tell me this. This is the world justifying your sin, not God’s desire for you. Don’t make your secret (or not so secret) sin your god.

Please hear me here- it’s a trap! No one and no thing should ever have more importance in your life than God! Your role as a wife, parent, friend, and (you fill in the blank here) is important. But our primary reason for existence is to bring glory to God! If you have a role that is taking away from God, you need to reevaluate your heart.

If you have been expecting your spouse or children to make you happy, you are in for a sad and rude awakening. They are not God. Nothing you do for them. Nothing they do for you will satisfy that longing in your heart. There is only one that can satisfy. And that is Jesus. Your spouse and your kids were never meant to take the place of Jesus. Remember first and foremost, He took their place. They are gifts from God to point you to Him.

If you are a Christian, you must be intentional about making God part of your daily life. Church should be the dessert to the rest of your week, not the main course. Many times, we do not take advantage of the fullness of the cross. Jesus died so we can have salvation, but also so that we can be in direct communication with God! Are we being intentional at taking full advantage of what we have been given through Christ? Or are we checking the box and giving God our wish list?  Prayer, mediation, devotional life, and fellowships are just a few things we can do to be intentional with our relationship with God and grow towards Him.

If you are a Christian but your walk is not as strong as you would like it to be, you are not alone! Walking with Christ is an absolute blessing, but its not easy. It takes time. It takes practice. You will mess up. He will take you right back. Surround yourself with people and things that point to him. Spend time in prayer. Look for the blessings around you. Be intentional about making God part of every aspect of your life.

“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.”

1 John 1:7