Oblivious to the Blessings


blessings

I was living an almost charmed life.

My adopted home town was a very safe and livable community where everything I wanted or needed was nearby. The schools my children attended were great. I had wonderful, close friends, and a good job. I was a member of a significant church that reached out to everyone and had programs for all types of people. I lived in that community for 20 years. I expected life to always be that way. I thought I had a grateful heart, but looking back, I was oblivious to how fortunate my circumstances were.

This past summer we moved to another state. My expectations were that we would live in a similar community and attend a church similar to the one we just left. I thought I would find a job quickly and make new friends easily. I expected life to be the same, I would just have a different address. The truth is, it’s been an adjustment.

Thinks are different here, not wrong, just different. It is more than the names of streets and where to shop, the local culture is different too. It’s a way of life that in some ways doesn’t value what I took for granted. This difference has made me appreciate all I had even more. I was truly blessed living in in that small community in Texas. At the time, I didn’t see, and certainly didn’t appreciate, how God was showering me with His Love all the time I lived in that other city. He was feeding me, nourishing my soul. He blessed me in so many ways, but most of all, He blessed me with Himself.

Now that I am not experiencing the same circumstances I feel like my spiritual life is parched. I’ve been thanking God for what I had, and have asked Him to relieve the drought I am experiencing now. But that request is wrong. There’s a passage in the Old Testament explaining that when there is drought do not lose confidence because God has blessed you with deep roots.

Jeremiah 17:7-8

“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord,
whose confidence is in him.
They will be like a tree planted by the water
that sends out its roots by the stream.
its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
and never fails to bear fruit.”

This passage reminds us that God will keep us filled, despite difficult situations. But the passage goes on to instruct us to bear fruit in every season, even during a dry spell. I can’t (and shouldn’t try to) recreate the same situation I was in. Instead, I should use my experiences to be a blessing to others. I didn’t realize it at the time but our great God was preparing me to go out into the world to do just that. Luke 6:45 tells us, “A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.”  God filled my heart. Now it’s time to share what I was given.

Someday I will experience abundance again, but this time, I pray to not be oblivious to the blessings God sends my way. James 1:17 reminds us, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” It doesn’t matter what the situation is, God is all I need.

May the Lord richly bless your day as you share your blessings.

betheblessing

Scripture: www.biblegateway.com

Images: google images.

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100 Reasons We Love Our Mom


mothersday

I’m reblogging this post from May, 2013. Enjoy.

Most of us rarely consider the influence and impact our families have on us, and in particular, our Mothers. We start to realize that when we have a child or a loved one becomes ill, or they are gone. Our Mom’s impact us more that we really know (or want to admit). We are who we are largely because of our Moms. (For brothers, moms are critically important, but in a different way, but that’s another story.) My sisters and I decided to come up with a list of all the different ways our Mom has impacted us.  We believe most women will identify with these examples and come up with more for their own Mom.

 HERE ARE A FEW OF THE REASONS WE LOVE YOU

  1. She gave birth to me.
  2. She is my sister’s mom.
  3. She loves my Dad.
  4. She always took me to church (whether I wanted to go or not).
  5. And Youth Group.
  6. She made sure I had a nice smile (braces).
  7. She made sure the Weddings were “over the top.”
  8. She was there (holding my hands) at the birth of that first grandchild (and      more).
  9. She loves all her grandchildren and treats them all “fairly”.
  10. She loves her son-in-laws
  11. She taught me to cook.
  12. She taught me manners.
  13. She told me to always act and look like a lady, and wear lipstick.
  14. There’s always a couple of dollars in every note/card she sends.
  15. She loved me even when I was a “pain in the butt” and endured my “teenage drama” years.
  16. She’s got great decorating advice.
  17. She always knew the families before I was allowed to play with the kids.
  18. When you really care about something she will also care about it.
  19. She will always tell you that you look very pretty / nice, etc.
  20. She taught me to always write thank you notes.
  21. She thinks I am creative.
  22. She still spoils us at Christmas, anniversaries, birthdays, etc.
  23. She taught me to look for a bargain, or buy “on sale”.
  24. She taught us to always take a hot meal to a new neighbor and sick friend.
  25. She taught me how to entertain friends and do it well.
  26. There’s nothing like a home-cooked meal.
  27. It’s ok to have a glass of wine.
  28. She taught me to do laundry, correctly.
  29. She made me change the sheets every week and how to do “hospital”      corners.
  30. She taught me to set a pretty table for holiday meals.
  31. Having a family dinner together (almost) every night is wonderful.
  32. Say Grace.
  33. We always had handmade Easter dresses (they were usually matching).
  34. Our Easter baskets always had a Chocolate Rabbit and at least one toy.
  35. There was always a Hidden treasure in Christmas Stockings.
  36. Always save room for dessert.
  37. Fresh bread is always the best.
  38. A little prayer sure helps.
  39. Spoil your dog.
  40. She’ll send you a postcard when she goes on vacation.
  41. Wash your hands before you eat.
  42. Eat breakfast every day.
  43. Shopping is a sport.
  44. She told us to play nice with the other kids.
  45. Always told me to be nice person (period).
  46. She gave us piano & flute lessons
  47. Swimming and gymnastics lessons too.
  48. Shoes don’t have to match your purse.
  49. Wear clean underwear.
  50. You can do almost anything with a hot-glue gun.
  51. Brush and floss your teeth.
  52. Always take a jacket, and often an umbrella too.
  53. She never forgets a birthday/anniversary or other holiday.
  54. Took me to see grandparents quite often – the trip was across country.
  55. She told me to always keep a few dollars in my pocket for emergencies.
  56. She’s proud of us no matter what.
  57. Be sure to send Christmas cards.
  58. You can never have too many photos.
  59. She always made me try new foods, and made me eat my veggies.
  60. Have a hobby.
  61. Look for the good in everything and everyone.
  62. She passed down Grandma & Great Grandma keepsakes.
  63. She taught me to darn a sock and sew on a button.
  64. She taught me to share, especially ice cream cones and M & Ms.
  65. She always found ways to surprise us.
  66. A sack lunch is great.
  67. Always make the time to have lunch with friends.
  68. We always got a little gift when she returned from trips.
  69. Carry 2 pens, someone might need to borrow one.
  70. Carry lots of Kleenex, someone will need one.
  71. She cooked over an open campfire and can pitch a tent.
  72. She took me to a dermatologist.
  73. She picked great clothes and jewelry.
  74. Be sure to get your hair done, often.
  75. She still remembers my favorite dinner and dessert from childhood and still prepares it better than I do.
  76. Photos of my kids are on her fridge.
  77. Goes overboard when we come to town.
  78. She sends cards for all occasions
  79. Her fudge and pumpkin nut bread are “to die for.”
  80. She always makes my favorite pie.
  81. She always took a picture of us on the first day of school.
  82. She made me do things myself.
  83. Plan a get-away with your spouse at least once a year.
  84. Have a savings account and don’t break into it.
  85. Take care of your skin, even when you are young.
  86. Nurture your friendships; motherhood can be very lonely sometimes.
  87. Vote.
  88. She made sure we always got to see fireworks.
  89. She pumps her own gas
  90. Know what the organization really does before you donate to them.
  91. She sent really great care packages to me when I was stationed over seas.
  92. Don’t complain.
  93. She taught us how to make a decision, there are consequences to everything.
  94. You can have a good time without spending money.
  95. Use sunscreen and chap-stick.
  96. She doesn’t understand my jokes but she still laughs.
  97. She taught me to go above and beyond in my career.
  98. Visit the gravesite of loved ones when you are in town.
  99. She backed me up when I was blamed for something that I swore I didn’t do.
  100. She put up with all my childhood shenanigans and loves to tell everyone about them.

The list could go on and on, but we are stopping at 100.  Life is a constant learning experience. Some of us are fortunate enough to have our Moms with us for most of the ride. We still learn from our Mother and so do our children. We are who we are because of her. How would our lives have been different if our Mom was not a strong, compassionate and loving woman? We’re grateful that we will never know.

Blessings on your day.

Encouraging Confidence in our Ourselves and Our Children


“I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth.” 3 John 1:4

I’m participating in a Bible Study on confidence. The book seems to have been written specifically for me, but the all the ladies in my group feel the same way. How could they feel any lack of confidence? They are all prettier, smarter, thinner, or more educated than I am. Each one seems to be a better mom. The truth is many people struggle with a lack of confidence.

How early in life do our perceptions, attitudes, and circumstances begin to affect our confidence? We know our attitudes and behaviors start to be shaped when we are small children. As kids we let the words and actions of others have a deep, lasting impact on how we value ourselves. Circumstances can have a disastrous effect on us and we believe many lies. Adults often live with leftover negative emotions from their childhoods. Sometimes these feelings of inadequacy penetrate our adult thinking and have a negative effect our confidence. I know these incorrect thoughts have caused me to lose confidence.

I don’t want this to happen to my children.

My daughter, Elianna, just turned 10. She’s been doing gymnastics and cheerleading for years. I’ve watched her confidence shattered by the words and actions of certain coaches and even other parents. Several years ago she came to believe she couldn’t do a back handspring. Elianna was little. The right choice at the time was to change coaches. Now she can do several back handsprings in a row. She got her confidence.

ellie

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6

Now that confidence teeters because she’s struggling with another stunt – being a cheer flyer. Although her confidence is wavering, this time the process is different. Her coach is encouraging her, helping her with every step of the process. She sets smaller goals to help my daughter gain confidence. My husband and I also encourage her, and we let Elianna know what we expect from her. Our standards are high, but not so high she can’t reach them.

That’s how it is with God. He encourages us and prepares the way for us. If we put our trust in Him, our confidence will soar and we will be able to accomplish the tasks he has set before us. Proverbs 3:26 tells us, “For the Lord will be at your side and will keep your foot from being snared.” And Isaiah 41:10 states, “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.” Those verses are more than verses for cheer leaders who want to perform stunts; they are promises from God for all of us.

I pray for my daughter (and son) to have the confidence of God, not just for sports, but to have the confidence to accomplish all that the Lord sets before them. It’s a big prayer, but it’s what God wants for all of us. He’s all we need to accomplish His will for our lives.

“Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God.” 2 Corinthians 3:5

 Our kids are going to face many challenges and dilemmas as they grow. We are forced to work with people who want to bully us, or try to shatter our confidence in other ways. Sometimes people will withhold love if we don’t behave a certain way. We need to teach our kids to believe in themselves and have the confidence to stand up to people who are less than nice. That confidence comes from our Lord. Are we modeling that truth for our children?

 “I can do all this through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13

We must learn to replace falsehoods with God’s truth. But we need to do more than use these tools for ourselves. We need to pass these tools to our children so they will grow up to be confident, godly men and women. The Bible gives us a lot of information about our identity in Christ. Let God’s perspective fill you, and your children.

 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” 2 Corinthians 5:17 (ESV)

 We are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14). As we let go of the falsehoods others have said, or circumstances that shatter our confidence, we must teach our children the same truth. As you talk to God about changing your thinking, ask Him to help your children develop correct thinking and confidence in Him. The Message paraphrase of Romans 12:2 urges us to reject the flawed thinking of our culture and those who surround us: “Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You will be changed from the inside out.”

We must teach the confidence God gives us, and His sufficiency early in life, but how do we do that? I think the answer is simple, but hard to do. We have to let go of our strong wills and turn ourselves over to God. We have to ask Him to increase our faith, so we aren’t tempted to try to solve problems in our own strength. Then we need to pass that truth onto our children. We also need to learn to forgive ourselves, and those who have hurt us.  Forgiveness doesn’t excuse someone else’s behavior; it merely prevents their behavior from destroying our confidence.

“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32

May you and your children feel and believe the full measure of the confidence our Lord desires you have.

 

Scripture: http://www.biblegateway.com

Photo: Gerry Garro

Bible Study: A Confident Heart by Renee Swope

They Are Watching


Cousins 11-28-2013

Psalm 127:3 ESV

Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.

We don’t see my brother-in-law or his family very often, they are a 12-hour drive away; but they drove in a few days ago for a family visit. My children looked forward to their arrival; my 8-year-old even kept checking the door and asking, “When will they get here?” They did arrive, and it was wonderful to see everyone again, and see how much the children have grown. It was such a joy watching the cousins play together.

As adults caught up on family news, the voices of our children and laughter filled our home. It reminded me what a great gift our children are. Our lives are richer and fuller because of our children. At the dinner table, conversation was fun. From sports to the pet lizard, we tried to cover all the topics. Eventually, the conversation turned to a discussion about our faith. I was so pleased to see my children participating in a conversation expressing their faith, and equally pleased that my in-law’s faith is strong.

Some days can be such a struggle. Getting the kids off to school, then sports practices, homework, and trying to get a family meal on the table can be trying, because the same rushed routine happens day after day. Weekends are even busier with games, errands and chores. Keeping our faith at the center of our lives is hard work. Sometimes it seems that everything we say or do falls on deaf ears. Then there are times you feel too tired to cook the meal for a sick neighbor, or you don’t really have time to lend a helping hand, but you did anyway. You try to set the example.

Then one day, you realize the children were listening, they were watching…

3 John 1:4 ESV

I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.

Blessings on your day.

Scripture:  Openbible.info

Photo:  Rod Garro

Leaving a Spiritual Legacy


legacy21

2 Timothy 1:5

I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.

 

I have some treasures to pass down to my children. There’s my great-grandmother’s Bible that she brought with her from Ireland. I also have a bracelet from another great-grandmother. It has her name engraved on it. I have a few of my own treasures, special Christmas ornaments, jewelry and other collections to pass down. There’s the Bible, with hand-written prayers in it, when I prayed for my babies. With any luck, we can also leave them a financial inheritance. But these objects don’t really matter. The greatest gift I can leave my children is my faith. That is not a one-time gift. The gift of faith is a gift my husband and I give by example every single day. I can take my kids to church, but if I don’t practice my faith, what good is it? I’ve come up with a short list of ways to help leave a spiritual legacy for our children.

  1. Pray for your kids every day. And pray for guidance for yourself too.
  2. Pray for your children’s friends, acquaintances, teachers, coaches and other mentors.
  3. Encourage your kids to invite friends to your church.
  4. Be an active member of your church family.
  5. Talk openly about your faith, and what God has done for you.
  6. Read the Bible as a family, have family devotions.
  7. Pray in front of your kids – not just saying grace at meal times. Let them see you pray.
  8. Let them see you live your faith, like taking a meal to a sick neighbor or participating in mission projects.
  9. Let them see you give your gifts to the church, and teach them to tithe too.
  10. When life lessons come up, discuss with them how to handle them in a godly way, but talk to them on their level.

What would you add to this list?

I also thought this was a good article on leaving a spiritual legacy: http://www.growthtrac.com/5-ways-to-leave-a-spiritual-legacy-for-your-kids/#.Uo3qicSkqDs

Blessings on you and your family.

Scripture: biblegateway.com

Image: google images

Invited to Speak


JPG -Fade Version

I have been invited to speak at the Fun Fearless Female Conference in Overland Park, KS on February 22, 2014.

I will be speaking about how our Lord planted a God-sized dream in my heart, then walked with me and encouraged me every step of the way, until God made that dream a reality. God desires to use every single one of us. We just have to stop and listen to God’s plan, step out in faith – yet let Him lead the way.

If you are in the Kansas City area, or want to make a fun road trip, here is the link for more information: http://www.funfearlessfemale.org/

To Be a Proverbs 31 Woman


 

Oh how I wish I could emulate the Proverbs 31 woman, but so often I fall short.

Don’t we all? However, I have come to believe it’s not so much about being exactly like a Bible character, but rather using their example as a guide to Christian living. The Bible gives us many examples of Christian living. I could list many passages, but I picked just a few:

1 Peter 2:21-22

To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.

 “He committed no sin,
and no deceit was found in his mouth.”

 Ephesians 4:32

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Obviously we will fall short, because we are not Jesus. But what is important is these verses are examples to follow, models of how to live.

So it is with Proverbs 31:10-31.This passage is giving us a lengthy example of how to live the Christian life. These examples are so important in a culture that does not provide godly examples. Without examples of how to live, we would fatter all the more. 

Psalm 143:10

Teach me to do your will, for you are my God;
may your good Spirit lead me on level ground.

Can I be the Proverbs 31 woman? Doubtful.

Can I use her as an example to follow? Yes. 

Proverbs 31:10-31

Epilogue: The Wife of Noble Character

10 A wife of noble character who can find?
She is worth far more than rubies.
11 Her husband has full confidence in her
and lacks nothing of value.
12 She brings him good, not harm,
all the days of her life.
13 She selects wool and flax
and works with eager hands.
14 She is like the merchant ships,
bringing her food from afar.
15 She gets up while it is still night;
she provides food for her family
and portions for her female servants.
16 She considers a field and buys it;
out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
17 She sets about her work vigorously;
her arms are strong for her tasks.
18 She sees that her trading is profitable,
and her lamp does not go out at night.
19 In her hand she holds the distaff
and grasps the spindle with her fingers.
20 She opens her arms to the poor
and extends her hands to the needy.
21 When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
22 She makes coverings for her bed;
she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is respected at the city gate,
where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them,
and supplies the merchants with sashes.
25 She is clothed with strength and dignity;
she can laugh at the days to come.
26 She speaks with wisdom,
and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
27 She watches over the affairs of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children arise and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
29 “Many women do noble things,
but you surpass them all.”
30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
31 Honor her for all that her hands have done,
and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.

 

Blessings on your day.

Scripture from Biblegateway.com