Mother’s Day Thoughts

 

Yesterday was Mother’s Day and it’s been fun to see all the greetings to everyone yesterday on Facebook. I’ve been thinking about this Mother’s Day and the ones I’ve experienced in the past.

Let me begin by saying I’m extremely blessed! I have three stepchildren and six grandchildren that I am extremely proud of. They are my delight and fill my heart with so much love. It hasn’t always been such.

Before I married their father/grandfather, I had no children or grandchildren to dote on. My first husband and I never had kids. When I was 30 I got pregnant and my husband and I were through the moon with excitement, but at eight weeks I miscarried and then went immediately into pre-mature menopause. The doctor said I would never have children. I was so heartbroken! I wanted kids so badly. When my husband and I went to premarital counseling before we were married, the pastor asked us how many kids we wanted …. we said 6, and now we were left with none! We tried for adoption and both attempts ended in dead ends…no children.

Mother’s Day became a very difficult day for me. Even though I had a baby in Heaven, I couldn’t call myself a Mom. I had nothing to show for it, no children that I could point to and say, “They are mine”, no pictures in a frame to show. One Mother’s Day was extremely hard because a lady in our church had dealt with infertility for many years, and like me, Mother’s Day was hard for her, but on this day, her heart was full because she and her husband had adopted a little boy. As she related her story to the congregation, tears started to fall down my face and I was a basket case. My poor husband didn’t know what to do. A couple of the ladies in our church saw my distress and after church, came up to me to love on me and encourage me. This happened 20 years after I had lost my baby. Some people would think that by that time I would have been able to get over it, but there’s one thing every mother who has lost a baby knows, and that is, you never get over it.

A couple of years ago on Mother’s Day the First Lady of our church (our pastor’s wife) was having every mother write her name on a slip of paper for a drawing she was going to do for a prize. She asked if I was a mother, I told her I had a baby in Heaven. The next thing out of her mouth was like a revelation to me! She said, “Well then, that makes you a mother, put your name down.” I had never thought I could call myself a Mom! It was like I was given permission to say I was a Mom.

After my husband passed away I was left alone for six years, and then God brought to me a most wonderful man! We fell in love and got married, and when I married him, I got an immediate family complete with children and grandchildren! The Bible says that God will give you the desires of your heart when you are committed to Him. Well, God went above and beyond ANYTHING I could even imagine! I have two beautiful stepdaughters, three handsome stepsons, and six incredible grandchildren.

Today my heart is full and my cup overflows! As I was thinking about my kids (even though I didn’t birth them, I consider them my kids) I began to think of my daughters and how proud I am of them as I watch them be Mom to their kids. They are strong women of God and are teaching their children to love God and are exhibiting before them the characteristics of the Proverbs 31 woman. Proverbs 31:29 (NASB) says, “Many daughters have done nobly, But you excel them all.” Amber and Kristen, I am so proud of you both, and the example you display before your families, of a woman after God’s own heart. I am honored to call you my daughters.  Your mothers are to be praised for raising such amazing women of God!

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You are my Shield

 

Last Sunday our church sang the song, “Shield about me”, and today it’s been running through my head. In my Bible Journaling today I looked for the Scripture that the song is based on, Psalm 3:3, “But thou O Lord, art my shield for me; my glory, and the lifter up of mine head.” (KJV) What a comfort to know that He is my shield! He is my protector, He encourages me, He plans good for me, He is my buckler and standard! How can I do nothing less than love Him!

As I write this, I have the song playing over and over, and my soul is at rest and in a place of peace. The words of the song follow:

Thou O Lord are a shield about me,
You’re my glory,
You’re the lifter of my head.
Thou O Lord are a shield about me,
You’re my glory,
You’re the lifter of my head.
Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
Hallelujah!
You’re the lifter of my head.
Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
Hallelujah!
You’re the lifter of my head.

All glory and honor go to Him! Can you imagine what Heaven will be like, as we who are Born Again Believers all join together around His throne proclaiming, “Holy, Holy!” The idea is just more than I can even think of. I think of those in my family who have gone before me, and my heart is so full at the thought of me and my loved ones gathered together praising God and worshipping Him. How awesome is that!

I love the thought that He is my shield! He protects me from all kinds of things, but I think mostly He protects me from myself. I can get myself into so much trouble, but He is always there reminding me of the pathway I should take and not the one I’m determined to take. He leads me and guides my steps. He is the lifter of my head! I think that means that He encourages me to the point of letting me know how special I am to Him and that He loves me more than I could ever imagine. And so, I can do no more than praise Him! Hallelujah!

This is a proclamation of praise and adoration to the One who died for me, who loves me more than anyone else, who walks with me day by day, who rejoices with me when I am happy and cries with me when I am sad. He knows me intimately, every fiber of my being has been created by Him, and He is on my side! He watches over me and I am so amazed at what He has done and who He is!

Thank you, Jesus, for being my best friend, Savior, Lord, Master, and King. Thank you for your sacrifice on the cross for me, for loving me so much that you gave completely of yourself to save me. I love you and worship you.

How He Loves Us

This morning God woke me with a song, David Crowder’s song, “How He Loves Me.” As I began to do my Bible Journaling today I am finishing up a series called, “Rise Up” and today’s journaling is from Hebrews 9:27-28, “And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this then comes the judgement., so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him.”(NASB)

At first as I read this I was having a hard time finding where the idea of being risen, or we would rise up to something, was in the passages. As I was journaling, the song kept going over and over in my mind, and then I focused on verse 28, “so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him.” I was thrown off a little in verse 27 where it talks about judgement. But then my husband reminded me that the visual of Jesus on the throne at the Judgement Seat of Christ, was not a judgement of our sinful deeds as we would normally think of judgement, but a rewarding of the Saints for their work while here on earth.

Then what popped out at me was that Christ was offered as a sacrifice for our sins, He bore them all on the Cross! Then the song and the verse tied in together! Jesus loved us, and still loves us, so much that He paid the penalty for our sins completely, and we never have to offer up a sacrifice for our sins as the priests did in the Old Testament. It is finished! That is the ultimate in love!

John 15:13 says, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (KJV) Jesus could not show His love any better than to offer Himself as a perfect, living sacrifice for the forgiveness of our sins. In our church we sing a song that says, “He paid a debt He did not owe, I owed a debt I could not pay, I needed someone to wash my sins away. And now I sing a brand-new song, Amazing Grace! Christ Jesus paid the debt that I could never pay.” How awesome is that! He was the sacrificial lamb, the final sacrifice, for the redemption of sins for all mankind. I can do nothing more than praise Him and thank Him for such a great love!

Set an Example!

Today’s Bible Journaling was taken from the TCT devotional, “Just for Today”, and focuses on II Chronicles 26:4, “And he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, according to all his father Amaziah did.” Uzziah became king at the young age of 16 when his father, the king, died. I find it amazing that a 16-year-old boy could have enough wisdom to rule a country. But then, when we read the whole story of Uzziah, we find that he had a good upbringing. His father, Amaziah, taught him the ways of the Lord. Looking back in chapter 25, we find that Amaziah also did what was right in the sight of the Lord, however; verse two says that he did not do it with a perfect heart. That means he made mistakes.

So, the take away I get is, we can follow God’s ways, but we’re not always going to be perfect, so it was, I’m sure, in raising Uzziah. Amaziah raised his son in the ways of God, but he wasn’t perfect. The devotional talked about living your example before your kids, not just speaking it. The old adage, “Do as I say, not as I do”, doesn’t work. Kids will model what you do before they model what you say. I can relate to this. I have no children, but my father was very strict. Kids were to be seen and not heard, we had no opinion on anything, and he would tell us in no uncertain terms what we were supposed to do. However, in some areas, what he said and what he displayed in action were polar opposites. I have become an awful lot like my Dad, and I work as hard as I can to fix the parts I don’t like.

My first husband and I were not able to have a family, so I have no experience raising kids, but I have observed a lot by watching other parents. I now am married again and have step-children and grandchildren, for which I am eternally grateful to God! They are the light of my life! I love them like they were my own. Actions speak louder than words, and when we say one thing and do another, our kids become either confused, or they decide that if we can’t follow our own advice, it’s not worth listening to.

I have seen parents yell and scream at their kids when they misbehave, and then when their kids act out in anger in the same way, they discipline them. This was my upbringing and I learned to be afraid of my Dad. When a parent reacts like this, the child comes to the point where they lose respect for the parent. I know for me when I get angry or need to discipline; my first reaction is to yell and spank. I have to fight with that. I have learned in dealing with my grandkids, a soft answer does a whole a lot better. When I get down to their level and whisper in their ear or speak to them face to face, they are more willing to listen to me.

Modeling Godly behavior before your kids isn’t easy because we are human, and we make mistakes. They see everything we do, and they are little copycats. This is where we must come to the point where everything we do and say is first brought before the Lord. Ask for His guidance in raising our kids, search the Scriptures for guidelines in disciplining. I think that sometimes when we follow Scriptural principles, we have a tendency to try to be perfect at it and follow the letter of the law. But, God doesn’t expect perfection from us, and we should not expect perfection from ourselves or our kids either.

Spanking is a prime example. The saying, “Spare the rod and spoil the child” is not in the Bible, however; Psalm 13:24 says, “He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes. (KJV) Some people think that means beating a child within an inch of their life…and that isn’t what the Bible is saying. Spanking and beating are two different things entirely. When it comes to spanking, I believe that moderation is the key. Don’t discipline in anger. For me, I have to step back first before I discipline. In that way, I am showing my grandkids how to react when things don’t go my way, or I need to correct them. Temperance in disciplining goes a long way.

Other areas we need to model Godly behavior is how we treat others, how to allow differences of opinion, showing how to put others before ourselves, being patient, showing that God goes first before everything and everyone. Let your kids see you studying your Bible, have devotions with them, pray with them, model before them what God is teaching you. They will soon pick up on that and begin to display Godly behavior themselves. Will you be perfect at it? No, and neither will they, but when you model it before them, they will be more inclined to follow in your footsteps.

So, today’s word is, “Be an example!”

Lord, I’m Amazed by You!

Music has always had a prominent part of my life. I started singing in public when I was 3 years old, and since the 5th grade I’ve played flute. Music speaks to me when nothing else will. My heart instantly connects with the lyrics and the melodies of the song. This morning a song has been running through my mind over and over again. It is a comfort, it is a song of worship, it touches the very deepest part of my heart. The song is “Amazed.” The words have sunk deep into my very soul. “Lord, I’m amazed by You and how you love me!” I’ve been running the Phillips, Craig and Dean version over and over while I’ve done my Bible Journaling this morning. It has impacted me so much that I could do nothing else but journal how I am so in love with my Lord!

I almost instantly thought of Romans 8:35-39 (NLT), “Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity; or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? (As the Scriptures say, ‘For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep,’) No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. And I am convinced that nothing can separate us from God’s love, Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow – not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below – indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

My heart is so full just at the thought of how much He loves me! I can do nothing but praise Him! It is so wonderful to have such an assurance, that NOTHING can separate us from His love. That seems so inconceivable! As humans, we have conditional love toward one another, but His love is unconditional! We don’t have to be perfect to obtain His love. He knows we’re not perfect, and the thought is almost laughable…us puny humans trying to be perfect like Him just to gain His love! I love the part of the song that says, “You dance over me when I am unaware.” He dances over me! How amazing is that! He’s head over heels in love with me!

I love how this Scripture lists everything we could think of that could separate us from God’s love…trouble, calamity, persecution, hunger, poverty, danger, angels, demons, fear, worry, not even hell itself, can separate us from God’s love! No power anywhere can separate us from His love!

Jesus proved His love for me by taking my sins on the Cross and dying for my sins. The Bible says, “No greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13 KJV) That’s the ultimate demonstration of love. He desires a relationship with us and He will do anything to show His love for us, even dying the most horrific death imaginable, just for us. Then He proved His love for us by conquering death, sin, and the grave. He lives now interceding for us with the Father. How amazing is that!

He cares about every detail of our lives, nothing is too insignificant to bring to Him. He hears the simple prayer of a child praying over a sick pet to our most devastatingly impossible situations, and each prayer is tenderly listened to and relayed to God, the Father, pleading for answers. Lord, You are so amazing! My heart is so full to think that You love me that much!

 

Worship

This Bible Journaling entry took me a couple of days due to printer issues.  The pictures I found on the Internet, and I do not know who to give credit to.  This is Revelation 21:6-7 with a focus on verse 7, “And I saw another angel flying through the sky carrying the eternal Good News to proclaim to the people who belong to this world-to every nation, tribe, language, and people. ‘Fear God,’ he shouted. ‘Give glory to him. For the time has come when he will sit as judge. Worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea, and all the springs of water.'” In this month’s devotion time there has been a focus on God as creator. Our study has focused on the fact that God not only created our world and us, He also created us to be creative.

Here in Revelation, we are again reminded that everything that exists is because God made it. We are instructed to worship Him, not only as Lord and Savior, but also as Creator! For me, I rarely think of worshipping God because He is creator. It is easy for me to worship Him as my Lord, Savior, and Master. Maybe it’s because I often take for granted this beautiful planet we live on that I forget to worship Him as Creator. I’m sure if I couldn’t breathe, I would be reminded very quickly that it is God who gives breath and life.

When I look around at this beautiful world we live in, it is hard to imagine that it all came into existence just by a spoken word. God spoke, and it was! Even the plan of salvation was already in the works before the foundation of the world was brought into existence. God had everything all planned out. That tells me He is organized. Boy, could I use some lessons on that! I’m about the most disorganized person I know. He had a plan from the very beginning.

I am in awe, to think that God loved me before He even created me, to the point of planning a way for me to come to Him through the shed blood of Jesus Christ. That alone makes Him worthy of worship. Then, He decided to go a step further and create a beautiful place for me to live. He created me to be in the family He put me in, with the joys, sorrows, struggles, and accomplishments our family has experienced.

I have often heard pastors preach about finding the gift God has given you and using it for His glory. For me, I often thought my music was my only gift. I play in the worship band and I also sing. I find great peace in my music. However, what I am discovering is that God has chosen to not only create me to be creative with my music, but He has also created me to be creative in my Bible Journaling art. Granted. I am not an artist by any stretch of the imagination, but I’m finding that it also gives me peace as I study His Word and then illustrate what He is speaking to me through the artwork I do. For that, I give Him praise! Obviously, the artwork is not perfect, but that’s kind of the point. It doesn’t have to be. It is my expression of gratefulness to a God who created me and who loves me. Through the artwork, He teaches me more about Himself, and so it makes a way for us to develop a close relationship, which is the desire of us both.

For me, the whole point of this series of devotions is to remember that God deserves all the praise, worship, and obedience because of His great love for me.

Do You Love Yourself?

 

Today’s Bible Journaling comes from Luke 10:27, “And he answering said, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself.” So, as I was studying this Scripture, I got to thinking that loving God in the manner this Scripture is telling me, didn’t seem to be a problem for me. I love Him so much and am so grateful for all He has done for me. My problem comes with the last part of that verse, loving myself.

All my growing up years, my Father taught us that we are not to think of ourselves as being better than anyone else, and what he said is true. He based this teaching on Romans 12:3, “For the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think, but to think so as to have good judgement, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith.” My Dad focused heavily on the “not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think” part of that verse. As a result, he had a very low self-esteem, and I guess because of his constant focusing on that part of the verse, I also have problems with self-esteem and the whole idea that I am to love myself.

I finally went to my husband and asked him to help me understand exactly what Romans 12:3 really was saying. He explained that the verse was meant to warn people not to be as the Pharisees and Sadducees, who thought they had all the answers, they were better than everyone else, not having compassion, being prideful, making laws that were meant for the people to keep, yet they didn’t think those same laws applied to them. My husband said that there was a difference between self-esteem and loving oneself. In my case, however, I think that self-esteem and loving myself seem to be tied together.

There are some times in my life I can point to where I was reprimanded by my Father for what he thought was being conceited, and it was not the case. I can remember hearing my Dad’s self-talk, where he would degrade himself because he made a mistake on something he was doing. I have come to be the same way. I will call myself “stupid” when I mess something up. My husband has pointed that out a few times, trying to help me see, that just because I made a mistake doesn’t mean I’m stupid. Today he was telling me how to deal with the low self-esteem to the point where I can actually say that I love myself, and not feel guilt about saying that I have worth.

It is often said that you cannot love others if you do not love yourself first. For me, I find it easier to show love to others than to show love to myself. I am more willing to do something for someone else that I wouldn’t think of doing for myself, forgive them for a wrong they committed when I wouldn’t forgive myself if I did the same thing, or treat them more loving than I would treat myself.

God has been so gracious to bring my husband into my life to help me deal with issues that have been buried, and to help me understand why I do and say the things I do. We had a good long talk, and I think I am able to at least start to understand how to see myself like God sees me. The hard part is being able to believe that it’s ok to love myself and to have a certain amount of self-esteem, still being careful to keep all things in perspective. This is where I need to take this whole issue to the Throne of Grace, lay it at my Heavenly Father’s feet, and ask Him to help me. Bible Journaling has really helped me face some of these issues. It gives me time in God’s Word, and time to connect with my Abba Daddy, and to learn from Him. I find that I’m able to focus more on how God wants me to live and learning how to put it into practice.

If you are facing issues with loving yourself, remember that Jesus died on the Cross for you because He loves you and He thinks that you are worth the sacrifice. Let Him help you with this area of your life. Allow Him to show you His love and ask Him to teach you how to love yourself. He will help you if only you will let Him.