Wednesday, July 27, 2016

"Voice Your Vows"

"Voice your vows" is a phrase I heard Joni Erickson Tada use in a radio interview the other day and I loved it. She was sharing about her walk thru cancer and all the work her husband had to do to care for her as a paraplegic. At one of the more trying moments, he simply said to her, "This is part of the for worse." They went on to talk about the difference it made in their marriage to simply remind each other, and themselves, of the vows they had made.

I hadn't thought much more about this until today on the eve of our 15th anniversary. This was a day that didn't look anything like I expected, which can be hard for a planner like me. Forty years on a farm, where things rarely go as planned, is slowly helping me change though. So I set aside my agenda and tried to embrace the one that was taking place.

We're in the midst of combining oats and my husband, Job, asked me to take some wagons to another farm. I agreed, completed the task and was then asked to unload the wagons I was pulling home. I tried, but didn't have the brute strength to move the equipment. So I gave Job a call thinking my work on the farm was done. I was wrong and humbly received a different job.

I say humbly with joy because not long ago I may have outwardly submitted and took the job, but inwardly my thoughts were a negative direction. All my married friends know that's not a good thing! Today part of me wanted to grumble...this wasn't my plan for the day. I could have to-do list was long. Thankfully I chose to die to self, shut my mouth and do what needed to be done.

As I did what I didn't expect to do, God gave me time. Time to think, time to pray, time to be still, time to reflect and time to remember. I spent close to 5 hours on the road, but never went more than 4 miles from home. Tractors are slow and our fields are not that far away.

It was good to be quiet and let the Spirit speak to my heart. I needed to remember where and who I've been and reflect on all God has done. Twenty-five years ago, I was a teen in love with basketball who swore I'd never marry a farmer. Seventeen years ago I was a new teacher struggling with depression and fearing a life lived all alone. Today I'm a day from being a farmer's wife for 15 years and I'm grateful for the life we live and family we have.

I truly am blessed, but today I was reminded...there's two sides to every story, every situation brings some good and bad. Life on the farm is a great opportunity to work together and raise a family, but there's also the work that never ends and pressure that accompanies weather and prices you can't control. Being a wife is a role I thank God for...I'm truly blessed by Job's encouragement, provision and love, but as any married woman knows marriage isn't always easy. The joy that comes with being a Mom is really immeasurable, but that role too has its challenges.

Friend, no matter what roles you play, I'm sure you could say the same. We live in a fallen world and Jesus assured us we would have trouble. So the question is not - "Will trouble come?", but instead - "How will we respond when it does?"

For the purpose of this post, I'm going to look at struggles in the arena of marriage - if this isn't a place you find yourself, I trust you can substitute a different role and apply the same concept. I believe Joni's three words are a powerful tool. When struggles come, voice your vows.

Let me ask you, have you ever repeated your vows since your wedding day? I haven't and I was so nervous that day I'm not sure I even knew what I was saying! But speaking truth is important...this is a great reminder and attitude changer. Remembering the promise you gave and covenant you made puts things in perspective.

Friend, I encourage you the next time trouble comes, plans change or your feelings are hurt - voice your vows. You don't necessarily have to speak them out loud to your husband, but say them to yourself and see the difference it will make.

This strategy doesn't just work with our earthly husbands, but also our heavenly Father, whom Isaiah 54:5 says is our husband. God has made us countless promises...the Bible is full of them and when trouble comes it's vital that we voice His vows.

Just for starters...

Feeling unloved? He promises love that never fades - "No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. And I am convinced that nothing can ever 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." Romans 8:37-39

Feeling anxious? He promises peace - “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid." John 14:27

Feeling weak? He promises strength - "He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless. Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion. But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:20-31

Feeling tired? He promises rest - Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls." Matthew 11:28-29

Today is there a vow you made to your husband that you need to remember? Voice it now!! Are you forgetting a vow God has made? Remember it today!!

Sunday, July 24, 2016

When will it end?

"It rained again," the first words my husband said as a new day began. Here on the farm we have oats cut, combining that needs to be done and weeds that need to pulled. This can't happen when the ground is wet or the rain falls, which has been the case the last few days. 

I sensed a bit of frustration in my husband's voice and in my mind thought - "when will this end?" As that question popped in my head, I instantly thought of friends walking thru hard times and also had memories of difficult seasons of my own. 

When life isn't going like I wish, hard things happen and situations are beyond my control, I want it to be over. How about you? My husband wants to harvest the crop and provide for his family. We want to feel better, we don't want others to suffer, and we want to be able to do what needs to be done. 

As I think about all of this, I'm reminded sometimes life is not about our wants. God knows what we need. Right now there's no farmer in our county who wants rain, but that desire doesn't keep it from falling. Not a single person walking thru disease or grief volunteered for that path, but it happened. Nobody battling depression or financial struggles is excited to be in that position, but that doesn't change the fact that they find themselves there. 

Friend, what's the rain in your life right now? Has it been falling for awhile? Do you feel like your drowning in the floodwaters? Do you just wish it would end? Does this situation leave you anxious? Are you worried about how it impacts your future? 

It would be easy to let this rain overwhelm us...the crops we harvest put food on our table. But friend, we don't depend on oats, corn or beans...we depend on God. He is the One in control. He does the growing and the watering. It's by His power the sun shines and rains fall. Ultimately, He is our Provider, and He is yours as well. He knows what we need and has the resources to provide. It may not happen like we expect or come when we want, but He will do it.

Does that mean, it's easy? No. We sometimes do get anxious, worry can creep in and our thoughts can wonder, but that's when we must go to His Word. God's timed my Bible study for such a time as this. I'm currently working thru Wendy Blight's book, "Living So That" and this past week have been in a chapter titled, "Trials Come So That." 

Take a minute and sit with our memory verse - "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." 

Friend, these two sentences say so much...the "rain" that's falling in your life, the trial you are walking thru it's there for a reason. Satan may have created the pain, but our great God allowed it as part of His plan. Your faith is being tested and as you persevere, you are maturing. Becoming more like Christ is a hard thing, but it is a very good thing. Don't run from the trial or beg God to turn off the rain...go to Him, take hold of His hand and trust His plan. 

As you walk the path that's rocky and seems all uphill, depend on the One who is walking with you. Lean into Him, dig into His Word and share your heart with the One who makes it beat. Learn from Him and look for Him...He is working - in you and your circumstances. 

One day it will end, the rain will stop and you will be changed. I truly believe one purpose for our trials is spelled out in 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 - "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God."

He not only shapes us and strengthens our faith during the stormy seasons of life, He also prepares us to encourage others. Today if the sun is shining and the rain has stopped, look around you and reach out to one who's in need of shelter from a storm. Point them to the One who carried you through. 

Today I'm thankful for these words from my husband - "It's a good drying day." In our physical world the rain has stopped, the wind is blowing and the ground is drying. Ultimately, God is working. And we are grateful. But my heart still hurts for those I know trying stand in the storm. 

Though my heart hurts, my mind day their rain will stop too. While we wait for that to happen, I will do the only thing I can - pray to the One who has it all in control...

Dear Heavenly Father,
Lord, you are sovereign. You have a plan we don't always understand. You work in ways we don't always appreciate. Sometimes you bring the rain when we'd rather have the sun. And as every farmer knows, sometimes you turn up the heat when we'd rather have the moisture. God, we often think we know best, help us remember You always do what is best. You have a plan and it's for good. Sometimes that means hard stuff, difficult situations and overwhelming circumstances. In those moments Lord we ask You to fix our eyes on you, the author and perfecter of our faith. Our rock and redeemer. Our Savior and our Lord. Our refugee in times of trouble and our anchor when the winds blow. We are grateful we can depend on You and we are sorry for our unbelief. Comfort us in our troubles and then Lord use us to comfort others in theirs. Our health may fail, our spirit can grow weak, but You Lord are the strength of our heart - may we remember that always. Lord we do ask for the rain to end and life's storms to step, but if it's your will that they rage on, do your work and carry us through. Perfect our faith in the process and make the spiritual fruit grow with the rain you bring. In Jesus' powerful name I pray...Amen

If the rain's falling in your life...I pray this song provides some perspective - 

Here's another song that provides Truth to encourage when the storms rage - 

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Heart of a Champion Camp

Join us for a faith-building sports camp
 in memory of Grace Harken! 

All 4th - 8th graders are invited to join us for a day of basketball or football instruction, powerful speakers and fun team games. 
When - Friday, July 29th 9 AM - 4 PM
Where - Saratoga Community Church
Questions - Leave me a comment or call Christine Harken at 641-985-4040.
Cost - $10 which includes lunch.
Print a registration form today!! Click HERE. 

Friends, I'm excited to see what God will do as we carry out something Grace was passionate about - combining faith and sports! Grace is my niece who left this earth far too soon last July 29th...our hearts are still grieving, but the God she loved and served is still working. We are grateful for the hope of heaven and thankful she is in her forever home. Our prayer is to share the faith she lived and shared and serve the Lord who saved her. 

As a young girl Grace shared her faith with her pee wee softball team. Girls were cheering for a teammate up to bat and said, "Just believe in yourself!" Little blond haired Jesus loving Grace responded, "Don't believe in yourself...believe in Jesus!!" Our prayer is to help other young people understand what that phrase means.

 I appreciate your prayers as we press forward! Thank you and if you have children in the area I look forward to seeing them on the court soon!!

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

The Sin of Selfishness

"He ruined everything!"

"No, I didn't!!"

"Yes, you just do what you want to do."

This was the conversation I heard take place between two of my children. A sister upset with her brother...a boy she normally loves, enjoys and looks after, but as he messed up her project and changed her plan, she had different thoughts. And God had a good reminder for me.

As I heard this exchange my thoughts started to daughter's last phrase had my attention. "You just do what you want to do," instantly had me thinking about selfishness.

Friend, I know that's something we don't like to talk, or even think, about but the reality is it still exists in my heart...and your's. My daughter was so right...selfishness ruins things. It ruins marriages, friendships, ministries and our witness.

Selfishness puts self above others. My plans above yours. My desires, my needs, my everything. Webster defines selfishness like this - "having or showing concern for yourself and not for the needs or feelings of others."

Just this past Sunday our pastor revisited an old illustration during his children's sermon. He talked about the gold medal stand and how in a spiritual sense that is where God, and God alone, belongs. The silver medal stand goes to everyone else and we belong on the bottom.

Humility is what it's all about. Let's stop for a minute and define that key word as well - "Not thinking of yourself as better than others, putting others before self."

My son was not acting out of humility when he messed up his sister's work. He acted on impulse and didn't consider her at all. It comes pretty natural for a young boy, but that same sin nature is in me as a grown girl. Friend, it's in you too.

I've been challenged to ask God to examine my heart and reveal the selfishness in it. I'd like to encourage you to do the same. If you think this is something you've outgrown, I want to caution you. Typically it's when we think we've mastered something that we fall into trouble.

Our struggle with selfishness probably won't lead us to destroying a child's simple project, but it can do damage that has life-long implications and may even impact eternity.

Think for a moment where selfishness can lead. Affairs. Lies. Wrong choices. Pain. Hypocritical living.

Selfishness may feel good, and maybe even right in the moment, but eventually the pain and consequences come. We hurt others. We hurt God.

Selfishness doesn't just put our wants above others, but above God as well. He sometimes asks us to do hard things. To follow Him down a crazy path. Selfishly we may want to stay put, we may want to quit, we may want to twist the Truth. But friend, in those moments may we remember Isaiah 55:8, "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,' declares the Lord."

In those moments when His ways are hard and not what we want, we must replace selfishness with humility. This is a good time to visit 1 Peter 5:6-9; in verse 5 we read, "Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time." 

If we set selfishness aside, God's perfect plan will unfold. Our humility leads to His exultion. Our selfishness leads to our humiliation.

Verse 6 gives us some advice, "Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you." In the moment of temptation when all we want is our desires met or our plan to work, we must go to Him...God cares about what we want and friend He alone can provide what we need. His provisions always out-do our desires.

Finally in verses 8 and 9, we are reminded of important Truths that we must consider in this battle with selfishness. Here Paul tells us, "Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings."

I have to believe Satan loves our sinful, selfish nature. It plays right into what he does - steal, kill and destroy. Like my daughter expressed, "It ruins everything!!"

Friend, if your selfish struggles seem small and maybe like no big deal, can I encourage you to address them? It's often said a great journey starts with one small step, well I think we can flip that around - a slide into a sin often starts with one small, selfish step. One step of obedience often helps us take the next, but the same can be said about sin often leads to another. Like one of our family's favorite TV character says, "We must nip it in the bud!!"

Heavenly Father, we come to You today knowing there are times we selfishly put our thoughts, our plans, our desires above Your's. And also above those of the people we love. Forgive us Lord. Open our eyes to the selfishness in our heart. Then Lord feed us Truths that will transform our thinking. Tender our hearts and humble them Lord. Draw us closer to Yourself. You have a good, perfect plan that not only affects us, but others and your kingdom, don't let our selfishness ruin it. Father God we trust You to do this good work in us. In Jesus' Name...Amen

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Sometimes you have to stop!

Rock picking...a common summer job on the farm. If this is unfamiliar to you, it is what it says - we go up and down the rows of corn or beans and pick up the rocks. It's really not a terrible job, but it's not fun either. It can be hot and dusty, cold and windy. Sometimes the kids are crazy and others a bit grumpy. But often while I'm out there doing what I swore I'd never do as an adult when I was a kid, God speaks to my heart. The other day He did just that.

It was just our two little boys (4 and 6) and myself so we jumped in one ranger and headed off to do some work. At this age, they often start out enjoying it and love to show me how strong they are, but as we approached the top of the hill the excitement quickly faded. This field is bad, there are rocks everywhere and my little Jed was ready to quit before we even began. The work was a bit overwhelming and the process was a bit different than usual. Typically we can drive along, jump out when we see a rock, grab it and keep going, but this time we stopped, shut the ranger off and all unloaded. We picked rocks, filled buckets and seemed to get nowhere. Eventually though we'd clear about a 10 foot circle around the ranger so I'd pull it ahead, shut it off and start all over again.

After doing this about 4 or 5 times, I saw a correlation between this process and life. Often life is like our typical experience out in the field...we go along, do what we need to do and keep pressing on. But sometimes, things are different. Circumstances change and seasons end. God works and/or Satan attacks. In those moments, we need to do what the kids and I did - we just need to stop.

Maybe it's just for a moment when anger tempts you to explode or gossip entices you to talk. Sometimes it's for a day when life's been busy and the Sabbath comes. Yet others it can be for an extended period of time. Perhaps it's when grief overwhelms or God's sanctification demands.

Friend the rocks in that field really did leave us overwhelmed. It impacted attitudes, changed perspective and momentarily created feelings of hopelessness. 40 years of living has taught me life can do the same.

That day in the field it didn't make sense to do what we had always done...the approach just didn't work. Things had to change; we had to stop. Do you need to do the same?

Has life thrown you a curveball? Do circumstances have you down? Is God working in you before He can work through you? I don't know, but God does.

Stop for a moment and go to Him. Seek His direction. Humble yourself and submit to His plan. All the while remembering who He is - a good Father and a mighty God with the perfect plan and exact provisions. He knows what He is doing and will be faithful to complete the good work He has begun, but we need to stop long enough for Him to do it.

This isn't always easy I know. I can be tempted to respond just like my little boys did - "Let's just go home. There's too many rocks. We'll never get done. Can't Dad do it?"

Friend it's tempting and easy to grumble and complain, feel overwhelmed and distraught. The desire to quit is one we need to fight and the longing for someone else to do what we need to do is a thought we must release.

If the rocks in your life are immense and the speed is too fast, may this lesson from the farm provide insight. Sometimes we need to stop. Sometimes we need to say, "No." Always we need to trust. Constantly we must walk the path God has us on...sometimes it's just a bit rockier and slower journey than others.

May these words and truths bless your heart and feed your soul -

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28

"I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint." Jeremiah 31:25

"Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and His understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." Isaiah 40:28-31

Friend, I know this stopping is hard. Life is busy and schedules full. The world rushes on and we feel like we must too, but sometimes God has other plans - remember His ways are not our ways. Pushing pause and sitting in the stop has its place and purpose. We eventually finished the field and did what we initially thought we couldn't, but it only happened when we changed our plan.

This season, day or moment of stop may look different than you expected and may be something you'd never schedule, but trust the One who orders our days. He knows and He is always working...even when we're not!

Dear Heavenly Father, Lord sometimes life seems so demanding, there is always something I could be doing. Often I feel like it's more that I need to be doing. But You, my Creator, You know what You created me for and You alone will equip me to do what I need to do. Sometimes that doing is nothing more than simply stopping. Help me to do that when you command it. I want to come to You for rest and trust You will refresh. May I remember You are the One who never grows weary. Today help me stop and be still and know that YOU are God. In Jesus' Name I pray...Amen

Thursday, July 7, 2016

A Gate-Watcher

Gates...a very important thing on the farm. I have memories of gates left open and unchained as a child. I also remember watching some gates with fear...I was scared I'd let a cow, pig or sheep out or simply afraid I'd get run over in the process.

Honestly, I haven't thought much about gates until the other day when my husband stepped into the house and said, "I need a gate-watcher." The kids were scattered and I wasn't in the middle of a job, so I slipped on my shoes and headed out to do the job.

This time it wasn't fear that took over my thoughts and my heart wasn't anxious, but my mind went to work and I started thinking about scripture. I knew John said something about Jesus being the gate, but this job on the farm led me to dig deeper.

John 10:7-10 gives us Jesus' words - "Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full."

I've read these words before and had a basic understanding of what I thought Jesus was saying, but I found myself wanting to know more. So friend, I'll share a bit of what I discovered with Jesus' time flocks of sheep were much more common than they are in our day. Most families had a few wooly animals and often times at night families would put their little flocks together and take turns watching over them.

Often they would gather all the animals in a small pen made from rocks that had thorns around the top edge to keep animals and thieves out. The shepherd or gate-watcher would often lay at the opening...keeping the sheep in and predators out. Jesus likened Himself to the gate...He didn't call Himself the gate-watcher, though He does that too, but more importantly He is the way in and out.

He used this picture to illustrate our way into heaven. Friend, He's not simply standing there deciding who gets in and who doesn't. We can't show up with a list of the good things we've done and expect Him to open the gate. It doesn't work that way. Read again what Jesus, our Lord and Savior says..."He is the gate." We are the sheep.

We must decide to go through Him. We must receive Him as Lord and Savior. We must confess with our mouths that He is Lord. Acts 4:12 says, "Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved." Scripture is clear, but yet the world can leave us confused - we hear all sorts of messages about heaven and eternal life.

Friend, just like it was important for me to watch the gate for my husband as he fed cattle it's even more important for you to understand that Jesus is the way, the Truth and the life. Your good works won't save you nor will the lack of a criminal record. Your parent's faith won't get you to heaven and neither will your church attendance. It's a choice we must each make individually and it's a choice that will impact us forever.

Once we walk through that gate we're not just guaraunteed eternal life in heaven, but He promises us abundant life here on earth. Does that mean it will be easy? No...Matthew 7:13-14 assures us of that as we read more of Jesus' words - "Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few."

Our shepherd won't force us to walk through the gate, but He will lead us and guide us. Once we make that choice to follow Him, He will protect us and watch over us. He will make us lie down in green pastures and lead us beside still waters. Walking thru this gate will impact us forever.

Gates on the farm are important...I'm thankful when my little guy lets me in and out as I feed cattle. His efforts make my job easier and make things go faster. But friend, whether you live on a farm or not, I pray you can appreciate the gate we all need. Jesus is the gate and He's the way to our Shepherd! If you've never walked through Him, I pray you do today! If you have, I pray you cling to our Shepherd, listen to His voice, follow His lead and trust His plan. Remember He cares for you and is protecting you!

Blessings from the farm!

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

A Word of Encouragement

Life...sometimes life is hard. Often it's hard...there's big challenges and daily problems. Relationship struggles and financial troubles. Illness and accidents. Death of loved ones, death of relationships, death of dreams. Sometimes these situations are our own fault and others they are beyond our control. Regardless of the reason, they create pain and can lead to worry.

Are you in a hard place right now? Does life have you down? Is Satan on the attack? 

If so, please know you are not alone...I've been there. My heart hurts for you. My prayers go out to you. I hope my words encourage you.

Today in this dark place can I offer a suggestion? Make a choice. Choose to trust God. Choose to embrace His love. Choose to remember His faithfulness. Choose to believe His plan is best. 

In 1 Kings 18:21, "Elijah went before the people and said, "How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal is God, follow him." 

Friend, I doubt your struggling with choosing between Baal and God, but what about comfort and God? Self and God? Familiarity and God? Man and God? Sometimes when I'm in a hard place these things can be a struggle for me. I may not like the hard place, but sometimes staying there is easier than doing the work it takes to leave. But maybe that's just me. 

Other people can hurt us and life can bring us down, but God is in control. If His Spirit is inside us we have the power to overcome whatever life, people and Satan throw at us. Easy? No. Possible? Yes. 

I'm trying to put myself in your (my hurting friends in hard places) shoes right now and I know when I'm there sometimes I don't need one more person telling me what to do. Friend, I don't want to be a noisey gong, but I want to share what God put on my heart. It's His Word that has the power to transform, so please join me for a minute and reflect on a few important Truths.

 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

"Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour." (1 Peter 5:8)

"What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?" (Romans 8:31)

"You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world." (1 John 4:4)

"Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it." (Proverbs 4:23)

"Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming." (1 Peter 1:13)

"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." (Phil. 1:6)

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." (Romans 8:28)

"Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses." (1 Timothy 6:12)

"So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." (Isaiah 41:10)

Friend, what do you take from these Truths? Which one did God bring you here to hear? Life around us can and will change, but God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. He has the same plan for you today that He had when time began. Chances are it doesn't always look like you expect, but He knows. And He is working. 

My heart has really been burdened for those who are hurting and that's a good thing...we are to bear one another's burdens, but I know I can't change them, fix them or remove them. Only God can do that, so I'm casting my cares to Him. Will you join me in doing the same? 

Below you will find a message from my heart to yours...I haven't done this much, but really felt God prompting me to use my mouth not just my words to encourage you. So asking Him to do just that. Friend, if I can pray for you specifically leave me a comment or send me an email at and I'd be happy to lift you up. Until then, may our loving and faithful Father renew your mind and restore your joy!

Friday, July 1, 2016

"Who am I?" - O-V-E-R-W-H-E-L-M-E-D

Facebook does this thing now and shares memories with you, which basically means each day it will show you what you posted in year's past on this day. So today on July 1st, it brought up a blog post I wrote 5 years ago. Life was a bit different then - I was pregnant, which says enough!! Though that has changed, somethings are the same - I wrote about being overwhelmed. I'm no longer anxious about adding another child to our family, but life has a way of leaving me overwhelmed with other things - the busy schedules of my 5 kids, sickness, hurting friends.... You know, chances are you've been overwhelmed before yourself. If you find yourself there today, my prayer is these words encourage you and put things in perspective! 

I've been away from my blog for awhile and the title of this post is part of the reason - I have found myself a bit overwhelmed at times! There have been moments this description of me has defined me - not always a good thing, but God has used this to teach me.

You see we are weeks, or possibly days from delivering our 5th child, and though I've known about this and had 8 months to prepare thinking about it still overwhelms me at times. I mean I'm the gal who survived on nutty bars, Diet Mountain Dew and macaroni and cheese my first couple of years out of college. I'm on the verge of being responsible for feeding 5 little ones - that alone is a scary thought!! It's not just the physical feeding (or cost of raising a family) that has consumed me but the spiritual growth and training I'm responsible for as well.

Then there are the events outside the walls of my home as well - the pain, the grief, the sin, the lost, the change...if I allow myself to focus on this in the wrong way the overwhelming feelings intensify! But, the other day as I took a walk down our quiet country road God reminded me being overwhelmed isn't always a bad thing.

Initially this thought surprised me, but then I was reminded of the times God has overwhelmed me and that is a good thing!!! I paused and took a moment to let this thought sink in and as I did I looked out across the field to see our cattle and God reminded me of His, "I have no need of a bull from your stall or of goats from your pens, for every animal of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills." (Psalm 50:9-10) The thought of His resources overwhelmed me and took the worry of my lack of them away!!

My lesson in the great outdoors didn't end there, overhead there were birds and I was reminded of the sparrow, "Not even a sparrow, worth only half a penny, can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it. And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to Him than a whole flock of sparrows." (Matthew 10:29-31) God cares about the birds, He sees them fall...though others may be unaware of my struggles, He is in the midst of them. The overwhelming thought of feeling all alone was replaced by awe for the value my Father sees in me!!

Then an internal kick changed the course of my thoughts and God changed the reason for my overwhelming feelings. At times I've focused on the change that lies ahead and the work that mothering 5 children will involve, but as I recalled Psalm 127:3 my perspective changed. These words say, "Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from him." I was still overwhelmed, but now it was for a good, Godly reason - the God of the universe has chosen me to be these little ones Mom, that is unbelievable! They truly are gifts I must treasure!!

Thinking about the responsibility these gifts require is a bit overwhelming, but God kept the lesson going as I recalled Isaiah 41:3, "For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you." This is not a job I can do on my own and when I think about it that way I am overwhelmed, but knowing God is there and not just offering His help, but assuring me of it, I am overwhelmed for a new reason. A good reason, a Godly one!!

Friend if you find yourself overwhelmed today can I suggest you take your concerns to the Lord, listen to what He has to say. Let Him overwhelm you with His love, His power, His provision and His strength!!

Back to 2016, as I reflect on the last 5 years, I'm grateful. Shortly after this post God blessed us with our little Jesse Clay Beran. And just yesterday, as this little man blessed my day with laughs and funny stuff I found myself thinking - "Everyone needs a 4 year old boy in their life." God didn't just bless us with a healthy baby, but also brought us through the transition and has taken care of us in the years that have followed. Oh there have been overwhelming times, but God gets us through. So thankful for the reminder to be overwhelmed by Him today!! 

Friend, today in place of whatever is overwhelming you, I pray you put your thoughts on God - may His goodness replace man's evil, may His faithfulness replace the world's rejection, may His resources replace your lack. He is good, He has a plan and He is working!! Run to Him today!!