Lavishly Loved

Girls on the beachHave you ever thought about how you love others and the impact it makes on their lives? I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately. I just finished Bob Goff’s book, Everybody, Always. It’s challenged me to love more and deeper than I ever have before. I had a wonderful opportunity to be surrounded by my daughters and their friends for a week on the beach. I was determined to love them well. As it turns out loving others that look and act like we do is not where the challenge lies. It’s when we are faced with the ones that don’t that it becomes hard.

We’ve never had a problem with theft at the beach, but this year was different. It was our 2nd day on the beach at the end of a gorgeous day. My oldest and I were the only ones down on the beach. We heard a woman begin to question the ladies behind us about a pair of shoes. She went on to ask them where they had gotten them because she had purchased some just like them for her daughter, and they had left them at the end of the boardwalk and now they were gone. I was stunned to hear the confrontation as was Catherine. We never heard a response from the ladies being accused. They were silent. In their silence the mom continued, “I can tell by your faces and your silence that those are my daughter’s shoes, and I would like them back now please.” They gave her the shoes and she turned around and left.

I could not believe it. They really had taken someone else’s shoes, and they were sitting right behind us. Wow! I decided that was enough of the beach for me, so Catherine and I began to gather our things. I got a glance of the girls. They really weren’t that much older than our own girls. They looked to have been college age.

I figured that would be the last time I would see them. I definitely did not expect them to steal from us. That was a one time deal, right? Wrong!

It was time for a sunscreen reload before we all hit the ocean. I noticed as I reached into our beach bag that we were missing a pair of our goggles. We had 3 pair, but we were down to 2. I asked the girls where the green and black goggles were. No one knew they were even missing. I wasn’t really surprised because let’s face it, teenagers don’t always put things back to where they belong. I figured they must be up in the condo somewhere. We carried on with our day.

Later that afternoon, my middle daughter and I were the last on the beach. We had taken our beach chairs down to the ocean to put our feet in and allow the ocean waves to crash on our feet. We were just people watching and having mother/daughter talk. About that time, Lexi asked me, “Mom, are those the girls that stole the shoes?” I quickly glanced as the two girls passed us by. I affirmed that they were, and Lexi replied, “And are those my green and black goggles they are carrying?” What! Really? I couldn’t believe it.

Lexi looked at me and said, “I’m going to get my goggles back. I bought those with my own money, and I want them back.” That’s exactly what she did. She followed them up and ended up in the elevator with them. She confronted them just like the mom had two days before. They handed over the goggles to her, and she got them back. Yeah, the $12 goggles were salvaged. That’s when The Lord pricked my heart.

It’s as if I could hear Jesus himself whisper, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” Luke 23:34

After hearing that whisper it made me go to His word to read about why and when he said them. Look what I found…”Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. When they came to the place called the Skull, there they crucified him, along with the criminals – one on his right, the other on his left.” Luke 23:32-33

Lavishly lovedThere were 2 thieves that hung on either side of Christ when he was crucified. They were guilty, He was innocent. He prayed that prayer not just for the criminals but for the ones that were crucifying Him, for you and me. Sometimes we can get so focused on pursuing justice and what is right that we forget that there are lives that need saving, forgiving and restoring. I don’t know what caused those girls to need and desire to steal, but I know that they are lavishly loved by a Father that can forgive and save them.

So here’s how I need your help…will you say a prayer for these two girls wherever they are today? I believe in the power of prayer and that our God hears us and is mighty to save. Will you utter the same words that Jesus prayed? I can’t think of a better way to love our enemies than to pray for their salvation. That’s what Christ did! I’m a work in progress on this “Love” business, but I firmly believe that by praying for these girls we are loving like Christ. He’s in the judgment business. We are only in the love business.  Thanks for praying alongside of me. This is the kind of love that will leave an impact for eternity. I am expecting to meet these two daughters of the King one day.

“God himself, gave himself to save us from himself.” – John Scott

Rebuilding

CastlesI love to people watch especially at the beach. The most amazing things happen when I am drawn into their world by observation. My imagination starts to kick in, and The Holy Spirit starts to speak. I never fail to receive a tremendous amount of love and overflowing joy when these moments take place. They are just too good not to share.

Our morning had started like they always do. Ryan and I enjoy our first cup of coffee on the balcony of our condo around 5:30a. There are always a few people walking along the shore but for the most part it is quiet and still. As we were sipping our first cup and enjoying the crashing of the waves we both observed a man walk up to a rather large set of sandcastles that had been built the day before. He began to step on them and knock them down with great pleasure with his bare feet. Ryan and I looked at each other with disgust, and before we could utter a word another man from his balcony shouts out to him in a loud voice, HEY, to try to get the man’s attention. The distance was too much with the crashing waves for the man to hear. He continued to destroy the castles. My heart was heavy. I immediately began to have a conversation with The Lord. Why? Why do people have to be so destructive? Someone is going to wake up today without their sandcastles and be crushed.

My morning continued without an answer. We got ready for our day on the beach. The ice chest was packed. Sunscreen, shades, hats, books to read were ready in the beach bag. We got set up in our chairs with umbrellas and the day began. I had just gotten settled and was reading my first chapter of the day when Ryan pointed out to me that the man that yelled out from the balcony was in front of us talking to the family who had started building sandcastles. He asked them if they were the ones that had built the sandcastles the day before. They replied with a yes as he continued to tell them that he had witnessed a man destroy them that morning on the beach. He said he had yelled at him, but he didn’t stop. I couldn’t believe it. What are the odds that we would be sitting right behind the family that had built the castles and to actually see the man that had yelled out from his balcony? The Lord had my attention.

Castles 2The most precious little girl came up with her bucket full of sand. The dad was already busy at work rebuilding the sandcastles as the little girl continued to fill her bucket and bring it to him. All of a sudden I could hear God’s whisper, “Don’t be afraid of those who cause destruction. I am your Father that can rebuild anything they destroy and build it better than before.” Friends, tears swelled. Ryan and I have experienced this kind of destruction in our own personal lives. We had built something that was special for Him. We were serving Him through it when destruction had been done and caused us to let go of it.

We were both given front row seats at the beach to witness this precious family rebuild their sandcastles. They weren’t going to let the destruction keep them from rebuilding. It was such a confirmation from our Heavenly Father that He sees us. He knows our hearts, and He is faithful to help us rebuild our lives even better than it was before. All we have to do is keep filling up our bucket, being faithful day in and day out to do the work he is calling us to do, and take it to Him. He will do the rest.

Susie Larson quoteI continued to watch them throughout the rest of the day. The man had taken great delight and detail in making this set of sandcastles even better than the day before. I loved it. The little girl was so happy and carefree. She was without a worry in the world. When we trust our Father amazing things can happen. So what’s stopping you from getting out there and filling up your bucket today? Take your fruits of labor to Him and watch and see what He will do. He is able to do MORE than we ask or imagine. Trust Him!

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”
Ephesians 3:20-21

 

 

When Dreams Come True

Chan and JakobWhen you were a child did you dream of your wedding day? I remember playing dress up and changing my last name to match up with my crush at the young age of 12 years old. I even practiced writing my name over and over on a notepad trying to perfect my handwriting. It’s funny how I can vividly remember these desires that were within me at such a young age. Where did those desires come from?

This past weekend my family traveled in for the wedding of my best friend’s daughter. My oldest and I arrived early and made our way to save our seats. The Wedding Coordinator and her team were working diligently to finish up the final touches. I loved what I witnessed. There was a flower box resting on the steps of the gazebo full of white rose petals. They opened the box and began to grab handfuls of the rose petals and placed them along the inside aisle on both sides.  The wind picked up and began to scatter the rose petals away from their desired location. The sweet lady whispered, “Please wind… stop blowing, this is Chandler’s dream.” I love that I got to witness some of Chandler’s deepest desires and dream come true.

CeremonyThe wedding got underway with one of the Pastor’s that helped shepherd this beautiful bride when she was just a young girl. He pastored my precious children too. It melted my heart to get to see him have the honor of unifying these two as one. He stood on a crate during the most important part of the ceremony, with laughter coming from the congregation understanding his humor, so the groom could look him into his eyes. He said, “I want you to truly hear and understand the importance of these words.”

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is LOVE.” 1 John 4:7-8

Did you catch that truth? Love comes from God. The desire that was present within my heart as a young child was there because God gave it to me. He gives it to all of us. Our world paints love as a fairy tale, a princess dancing with her prince, where our emotions are wrapped up in how we feel. It’s as fleeting as the rose petals that get tossed and scattered by the wind. God’s love is not like that at all. God’s love is selfless, not self-serving.

“This is how God showed his love among us. He SENT his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This IS LOVE; not that we loved God, but that HE LOVED US and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” 1 John 4:9-11

In Bob Goff’s Everybody Always, he states it like this; “Love isn’t something that we fall into; love is someone we become. As the ceremony continued my thoughts raced back to my very own wedding day. I love the dreams that became a reality for me on December 19, 1998, but I love who we have become even more.

Us2My groom has learned the art of self-less love. He wakes up to serve his girls daily. I pray that our daughters have watched him adore his bride. I pray they have watched their Pops adore their Mimi. Love has been modeled well for them. This is the love that last a lifetime. It grows stronger by the second when it’s rooted like God designed. I am so grateful that I paid attention to the character trait that replicates God the most when choosing the man to spend the rest of my life with. If you find a man with humility, who thinks less of himself and more about others, you have found someone that will love you well. I love my groom. He’s become even more than I ever dreamed he would be. Dreams really do come true!

Best wishes to Jakob and Chandler Damstra. I know I witnessed something special with the two of you long before you said I do. With God by your side, your love for one another can’t help but grow stronger and stronger. Be blessed as you become a blessing of love to all who witness your union! Go and love each other and others well.

 

I Raise a Hallelujah

Ashley basketball campThey say a lot can happen in a year. I say they are right. One year ago we dropped this beauty off at basketball camp just like many parents do this time of year. On the very first day… on the very first jump shot she came down on her feet and felt a piercing pain. She knew something was wrong but was afraid to speak up and tell someone. She played all week on a double fracture to her back. She had to spend 12 weeks (3 months) in a back brace for 24 hours a day. She experienced  being a part of the team from the sidelines cheering on her teammates instead of being in the game. She had to learn how to see things from a new perspective. She had to learn how to sing in the middle of her storm.

When the storms of life come for you how do you handle the adversity? Do you keep your eyes focused on the raging sea and the whistling winds that continue to roar around you, or do you lift your eyes above the storm and lean in to the Maker of heaven and earth?

“Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and he brought them out of their distress. He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed. They were glad when it grew calm, and he guided them to their desired haven.” Psalm 107:28-30

Storm imageDo you know what happened to these merchants that were on the mighty waters right before they cried out to Him? Their courage melted away. They were at their wits’ end. (Psalm 107:26-27) Isn’t it funny how we have to come to the end of ourselves before we will look up and cry out for help. Some of you are in the middle of some pretty big storms. You’re still fighting against the raging sea hoping it will succumb to your ways. It’s important for us to remember that even the wind and the waves obey Him. He is the only one that can calm our storms.

One of the ways we helped our girl through her storm was we found ways to praise Him. We wrote down things that we were thankful for, and we kept singing. I will never forget coming home from her MRI after learning about her fracture. I crawled in bed with her and helped wipe away her tears that came down her cheek while we listened to a song that one of my friends had sent to help us keep our eyes on Jesus.

It was hard. It wasn’t easy to sing, but as the words sank into our heart we began to be filled with hope again. We helped her to take one day at a time as it came and soon 1 week became 2 and then 4 and before she knew it she had sang her way through her storm. The Lord calmed it to a whisper. She has been healed!

We dropped her off yesterday at camp again, you can visibly see her beaming smile. She was not scared to go. She is confident in the one who goes before her.

I hope this encourages you to SING! I hope you sing a little louder and find ways to give him PRAISE in the middle of your storms. I heard this song for the first time last weekend at the Bethel Heaven Come Conference. I cannot get over the words. They are life giving, chain breaking, hope restoring words! Listen to them. Raise a Hallelujah! He is worthy of our PRAISE!

I’m going to sing in the middle of the storm
Louder and Louder you’re going to hear my praises ROAR
Up from the ashes hope will ARISE
Death is defeated
The King IS ALIVE

I RAISE A HALLELUJAH!

I Am A Child of God

Do you know who you are? It seems like a simple and silly question, right? This question is one I have been asking over myself for over a year. At the start of 2017 I experienced a heartache that began to cripple me and over time I allowed it to down right paralyze me. I stopped being me. I retreated. I isolated. I questioned. I feared. I stopped sharing my faith because someone used their words to hurt me, and I allowed it.

“She’s a fake and a fraud.”

Those were the words that stopped me in my tracks and put me on my “mat” where I could not get back up. I’m afraid there are many of us in this condition. In John 5 you read about Jesus healing a lame man by the pool. Check this out:

Here a great number of disabled people used to lie – the blind, the lame, and paralyzed. One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time he asked him, “Do you want to be healed” John 5:3-6

I am going to pause the story. Do you see how the broken congregate together? Do you see that the man had been paralyzed for 38 years? He had remained on the same mat by the same pool surrounded by the same people – unchanging, accepting his condition, wanting to be pitied when Jesus came up and asked him if he wanted to be healed. Wouldn’t you think he would jump at the opportunity to say yes? Let’s pick up the story…

“Sir, the invalid replied, I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes in ahead of me.” John 5:7

Pause again! REALLY! That was his answer? He was waiting for someone else to do the work to get him to the water…after 38 years? Here are some amazing nuggets of  truth that I just learned from Christine Cain at the “Heaven Come 2018” Bethel Conference from this past weekend:

  • Sometimes we make our peace with our brokenness.
  • We believe the lie that it’s noble to be the victim.
  • The devil wants us to stay on our mat.
  • What about the generations that are counting on you to get up off that mat?

Then Jesus said to him,  Get up! Pick up your mat and walkAt once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.” John 5:8-9

Friends, my Lord has been stirring me to get up off my mat all year. ARISE is my word I felt him speaking over me for 2018. This weekend just affirmed it again. GET UP! ARISE! There are generations waiting on us to get up off our mats. Whatever has caused you to get down and into the pit, please allow me to encourage you to not wait for someone else to come and pull you out. You CAN DO THIS! Jesus will meet you in the broken! Healing will give you access to places you never would have gone before.

Write this down and remember it:

God’s words to Jesus after being baptized in the Jordan – “You are my son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” Luke 3:22

Satan’s words to Jesus following the baptism when being tempted – “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.” Luke 4:3

Brothers and Sisters, if we have accepted The Lord as our Savior these words are for us. We are HIS sons and daughters who He is well pleased.  Don’t allow Satan the opportunity to question your identity. YOU ARE A CHILD OF GOD!

This song brought me liberation and freedom after hearing this message of truth. Close your eyes and listen to the words. Claim them over your life. Those words that were spoken over me are gone. They will never be spoken from my mouth or thoughts again. I AM A CHILD OF GOD!

I will never forget these beauties and this moment in time. Thank you Jesus!

Heaven Come 2018 – Bethel Conference – May 31 – June 2nd 2018

Heaven Come Bethel Conference 2018

We Are…

CourthouseI cannot think of a better way to have spent Memorial Day Weekend. Ryan and I returned to our hometown of Mt. Pleasant, Texas. This small Northeast Texas town has more than charm and natural beauty for the two of us high school sweethearts…it has roots that helped shape us and form us into the adults we are today. Traveling down memory lane evoked emotions that brought about laughter and even tears, but it mostly brought about a deep sense of gratitude for this faithful community that has poured out love in more ways than we can count.

My houseWhen we get the opportunity to come into town we like to retrace our steps back to our homes, our elementary school, middle school and high school. It’s amazing how some things have changed and some have remained the exact same. This is the house that I lived in from 4 years of age until I graduated high school. I am so proud to have lived in this house. My parents worked so hard to provide for our family. We can remember washing many cars in that front yard and the countless family football games. You can still see the track our dog, Zach, made running up and down the fence line chasing cars even though it’s been over 15 years since my parents lived there. I drove up our street naming each of our neighbors by name and thanking the good Lord for each one of them. They helped shape me.

Then we drove by our schools. They have definitely changed with outward facelifts, but the halls within are the same. There is even a brand new building that is now the new Middle School that we drove by and were pleasantly surprised to see 2 coaches that we both had in school have their names in their memory on the building. I love seeing them being honored in this way. They both just did their thing and did it well. They loved kids, and we loved them right back. They helped shape me.

Our next stop was really special for my man. Ryan had the opportunity to walk back onto his high school baseball field for the first time since his Senior Year. They have a whole new stadium of seats, but it’s the exact same baseball field where he played 1st base. I had him walk over and stand by 1st base just like old times and visit the dugout too where he waited to bat and cheered on his teammates. We recalled all of his team by name, nicknames too, and smiled. We even reconnected with one of Ryan’s baseball coaches a few weeks back. Coach Jerry Baker was an Honorary Guest at our wedding almost 20 years ago. To say that these boys…now men have helped shape Ryan is an understatement.

Beth and NicoleI got to spend a lovely breakfast with two very special friends catching up, sharing laughter and remembering the good old days. It’s amazing how even though there has been time apart of not seeing each other we can pick up as though time has stood completely still. Our “Catherine Elizabeth” is named after these two beauties. They will ALWAYS be a part of me no matter what. I am so grateful for their friendship and how we still pray for each other and love each other through the many ups and downs. There are so many others too that I didn’t get the chance to see, but I did take the time to remember them all by name and give thanks for them. They helped shape me.

FreedomOur last stop on our visit was our favorite. We never fail to stop by to see our Taylor Brooke Coe. This is when the tears start to flow. When we lost our first daughter, this community that had loved on us all of our lives rallied around us during some of our darkest days. I will never forget the generosity given to us to allow us to bury our daughter at Neville’s Chapel. They donated three plots to us. One for our girl and the other two for us. It’s the most beautiful and peaceful place. When we drove in this is the flag and sign that met us at the entrance. I’m so grateful to live in this beautiful country, to have been raised in a beautiful community with amazing people and to be continuing to do the same for our own children. I can only hope and pray that one day my girls will walk back down their own memory lane and remember it as well as Ryan and me.

May we all REMEMBER and be full of overflowing thankfulness for our many many blessings. When you have time today, take a listen to the song “We ARE” by Kari Jobe. This is WHO WE ARE, so get out there and just do your thing and do it well. You may never know the people you are shaping, but I promise you this you are making a differenece in the lives of others. SHINE ON!

“So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and OVERFLOWING with THANKFULNESS.” Colossians 2:6-7

BELIEVE

Faith QuoteWe were on an old country road with nothing but green pastures on either side of us heading to College Station, TX to watch our daughter play for a State title.  Ryan leaned in and said, “I really don’t know how I’m going to handle all of this pressure.” I was so glad  he said it because I didn’t know how I was going to handle it either. We had watched countless tennis matches in our day, but none of them seemed to measure up to this.

Earlier that very morning I had studied a passage of scripture I had not ever focused on before, and I could feel God’s intimate whispers encouraging me to BELIEVE. I felt the nudge to share it with Ryan on our drive.

“Jesus left there and went to his hometown, accompanied by his disciples. When the Sabbath came, he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed. ‘Where did this man get these things? they asked. ‘What’s this wisdom that has been given him, that he even does miracles? Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?’ And they took offense at him.

Jesus said to them, ‘Only in his hometown, among his relatives and in his own house is a prophet without honor.’ He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. And he was AMAZED at their lack of faith.” Mark 6:1-6

I love how my study bible breaks down these verses.

“Jesus was teaching effectively and wisely, but the people of his hometown saw him as only a carpenter. “He’s no better than we are – he’s just a common laborer,” they said. They were offended that others could be impressed by Jesus and follow him.”

“Jesus could have done greater miracles in Nazareth, but he chose not to because of the people’s pride and unbelief. The miracles he did had little effect on the people because they did not accept his message or believe that he was from God. Therefore, Jesus looked elsewhere, seeking those who would respond to his miracles and message.”

After I read these words to my Ryan, I looked at him with tears in my eyes and said, “I don’t want our Jesus to not perform a miracle because of our unbelief.”

Listen guys, our Lord is not equal to who we are. He is so much bigger! We cannot confine him to our space and likeness. I knew that in order for our baby girl to walk away with a State Medal it was going to take a miracle because she would have to rely on HIS STRENGTH to be hers. I had to believe that He would do that for her. He is able to do ALL things, and I witnessed it with my own eyes this very week.

In the semi-finals match Catherine had come to the end of herself. She even verbalized to us on the turn over that she couldn’t do it. They were losing. They were tired. The heat index on the courts was 115 degrees. They had been playing in the heat all day. I could see that she needed Jesus’s help. I silently prayed for HIM to be her strength. “Give her wisdom Lord, help her to see the play. Help her to BELIEVE!” Right after that prayer our girl hit an alley shot winner that began to turn the match around. Every point gained momentum. Her energy began to come alive and she and her partner were amazing to watch. They truly were shining, and He had given them the strength to do it.

Tears after SemisThey won that match in a 3rd set tie break. The victory was sweet. You can see the tears in her eyes after the win in this picture. They had made it to the finals after an amazing come back from behind WIN! All of us were starting to BELIEVE! Our FAITH was moving the heart of our God to perform a miracle that only He could do. Have you ever had faith to move God’s heart? When we BELIEVE in HIM and HIS abilities to do the impossible, we stir HIS heart to move on our behalf.

What’s stopping you from BELIEVING today? I’m not sure what miracle you are in need of…some of you are in need of something so much bigger than a state medal. Some of you are needing healing from a terminal disease. Some of you are needing healing from a broken relationship. Some of you are in bondage of addiction that has held you in chains for too long and you think that you will never be set free. Let me encourage you today to pray to him for help with your unbelief. Our JESUS is not just a carpenter. He is our SAVIOR and LORD who reigns on high.  Nothing is too difficult for him. He came to set the captives FREE! BELIEVE!

This song came on the radio right after Ryan and I had our discussion. It was perfect! He’s making diamonds out of us sweet friends. When the pressure is high, he’s making diamonds! Don’t be afraid to SHINE!!!

 

2018 AAAA Girls Doubles State Champions – Georgia Rice and Catherine Coe #gloryup

State Winners

 

Brave Parenting

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

Be Strong and CourageousTwo weeks ago I attended a “Brave Parenting” Conference and this was the verse our speaker, Kelly Newcom, used to start the evening. She was able to grab my attention quick without her even knowing that this was my verse of the year. I love it when The Lord uses His word to draw us in close, and that is exactly what He did that evening with a room full of attentive parents who were ready to learn and be BRAVE.

The statistics I am about to share with you are alarming. It should awaken you to ARISE and take action in protecting your children. Keep in mind the verse above. We must be strong and courageous. This is not the time to grow fearful, afraid or discouraged. This is the time to take this knowledge and allow it to help us better protect our children and help them to grow in character amidst a culture of instant and limitless gratification through the media outlets they hold near and dear to their hearts.

In 2012, just six short years ago, 1% of children under the age of 8 years old owned a cell phone and 23% of children of the ages of 12 to 17 years of age.

Fast forward to 2018 and the numbers are startling. Now, 42% of children under the age of 8 years old have a cell phone and 89% of children 12 to 17 years of age own one. You guys…89%! Let that sink in for a minute.

Since 2012 we have seen a spike in depression in boys that is up 21% and 50% in our girls. Did you know that 5,000 adolescents die by suicide each year? It is the #2 cause of death in teens next to accidental deaths. Since 2007 the suicide rate in our children ages 10 to 14 years of age have doubled. That number astonishes me. Our youngest is 13 years old. Life should not be that hard for our children, dear friends.

Did you know that teens who sleep less than 7 hours per night are 68% more likely to have at least one suicide risk factor? This is huge! We think that Fortnite gaming is innocent so we let them play. Netflixing is the new rage and we are binge watching and missing our sleep in the process. Friends, our bodies need sleep. We were never designed to function with little to no sleep. Our phones are killing us. We have to have boundaries in place to help save and protect our families.

Did you know that sexting is the new 1st base? Teens today think that by sexting they are safe. They aren’t meeting the boy/girl face to face, so they tell themselves that it’s safer to sext than have sex. Did you know that 80% of self-made explicit images are stolen from the original upload location? 82% of sex offenders use social media profiles to gather personal information. They are out there lurking and on the prowl for their next victim.

Managing Media Creating CharacterThis is just the first page of notes I took that evening. I want to encourage you to go to amazon and buy the book, Managing Media Creating Character, authored by Kelly Newcom. She is full of wisdom from having gone through a very scary and personal fight to protect one of her own children. She grew a passion for research and study to learn about the pitfalls of media and now shares the knowledge with us today.

I am better prepared today to protect my family from the knowledge I have gained. We have new boundaries in place in our home. Our girls are getting better sleep. We are seeing more of their beautiful faces interacting as a family instead of being closed up in their rooms. The Lord is being faithful to His promise to GO with us wherever we go. Our job is to be STRONG and COURAGEOUS! Don’t be afraid! Technology is not going away. The answer is not to shelter them from it, but to teach them strong character and responsibility with it. You can do this mom and dad! I believe in you! Get busy learning and being BRAVE!!!

 

Be the One to Stand

1Thessalonians5.11It was standing room only at Boerne Middle School North last week for the 7th grade Academic Awards Program. Our family arrived just in time to find a spot along the back wall to cheer on our favorite 7th grader. The program was well underway when the most breath taking moment brought every single person in attendance to their feet applauding and cheering for two very well deserved students, and it all started with one brave young boy who was unashamed to stand.

“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11

It was the part in the program where the teachers were handing out the Outstanding Students of the Year for their classroom. Many of the names that were called were familiar as this had been the students’ third or fourth time to be called up to the stage. Things were going as planned, the same mundane handclaps as the names were called, until one of the boy’s down front in the middle stood to his feet clapping with his hands above his head. He even gave a shout of recognition. My immediate thoughts were it must be his girlfriend…how sweet. No one else stood with him. He stood alone. He took his seat when the next name was called for the same teacher. He immediately stood again with the same shout with clapping above his head in adoration, but this time other peers began to stand and then even more joined them. Soon the adults began standing too. Everyone was to their feet. The boy was not standing for a girlfriend. He was standing for two students with special needs that had not had their names called all night. As the teacher helped the young boy with autism back down the stairs you could see his excitement in his eyes seeing the entire audience standing for him. My eyes filled with tears.

Hebrews10.24In that moment we were all unified. Looking around the room, no one was concerned about their circumstances that surrounded them. No one was thinking about their political persuasions, their religious beliefs or lack thereof. No one cared about the color of their skin. In fact no one was thinking of themselves, but rather focusing on those two precious students that deserved to be cheered on.

When we encourage each other there is hope. When we encourage each other there is love. When we encourage each other life is beautiful. Oh sweet friends, may we encourage one another.

“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Hebrews 10:23-25

Standing alone quoteAfter we got home that evening, I asked my daughter about the boy who stood in applause. I wanted to know who he was, and I also wanted her to know that his bravery to stand started a movement of love. It was powerful. She looked at me with her beautiful green eyes and said, “Mom, that boy was the teacher’s son.” You guys, tears swelled again. This boy knew his momma’s heart. He watched her day in and day out pour out her love to these very special students. He, himself, had fallen in love with them by watching his momma do what she does best, LOVE. This is how love never fails. Our babies are watching us. They are learning from us in how to treat others. What are you teaching your children? It’s not so much in what we say, but in what we do. I hope this inspires you as much it did me. I will never forget this evening. It was not because of the academic award my daughter and others received, but because of this one boy who stood. Be the one to STAND! Love well sweet friends. #arise #go #stand #gloryup

 

Determining His Will

james1-5-6I have been walking very closely with someone I love who has a decision to make. I love how diligent they are being to the process. I know you have been there too. You come to the fork in the road and you have to decide to turn right or left. You often times find yourself fearful in deciding because you don’t want to make the wrong decision. This fear can paralyze you. Instead of moving forward you remain right where you are. Determining God’s will or desire (and His will is always consistent with His character) is not a one and done determination. It’s a process. It usually takes time and patience on our part. Here are 5 steps to consider.

1.​ Pray.
Growing our prayer life is key to determining God’s will for us. Spending time with Him in prayer and in His Word draws us closer to His heart. It helps us to know His voice. To sense His presence and know when He is at work around us.

2.​ Place everything before Him.
Evaluate your choices. As you seek whether what you are wanting to do/say lines up with God’s will and who He is, lay everything before Him. Make a list of pros and cons. Examine your gifts, talents, time commitments, values, passions. Be so very honest about yourself and with God. He knows your heart anyway.  Be honest about your fears, doubts, temptations.

3.​ Go to the Word.
The best way to ensure we remain on the path that leads to abundant life … to walk in God’s will and His ways … is to read and memorize Scripture. This is critical. Sometimes God’s Word will give a specific answer. But, oftentimes, it doesn’t. God will not give specific instruction but rather lay before you biblical principles to apply to your circumstances. It’s imperative that as you pray, what you choose to do/say lines up with the Word of God. God will never ever ask you or lead you to do anything that conflicts with His Word.

Proverbs3.54. Seek Godly counsel.
Notice I said godly counsel. Seek counsel from a friend or mentor who is steeped in the Word and who has a deep prayer life. Someone you trust and know will truly pray for you and speak honestly to you. Don’t look to a person or people you call upon to give you THE answer. Rather, ask them to seek God on YOUR behalf. To listen to God FOR you. God will often use other people to confirm what we are hearing. And, be humble and wise, willing to receive the hard answer. If it’s someone you trust, trust what you hear. Is what you are considering going to conflict with their counsel? That is significant, so prayerfully mull that over.

5.​ Peace of God reigns in your heart.
Some of the wisest words I’ve ever received were these: “Remain … be still … hold your tongue… unless you feel called out, led or moved by God.” It’s only when you know that calling out, leading or moving is from God that peace will come. When we lack peace. When anxiety gains a foothold. When we feel overwhelmed. When our soul remains in a place of unrest. THAT is clear evidence we are NOT walking in God’s will or in alignment with His character. It’s only in walking in wholehearted devotion to Jesus that life, and the circumstances and choices we have to make, will truly make sense. We will walk out the other side of each decision with PEACE, JOY, CONFIDENCE and ANTICIPATION.

Proverbs16.9God knows the plans He has for us. If
we take a misstep, we can trust Him to
lead us back on the right track. We just
need to stick with Him through it. Proverbs 16:9 is a wonderful verse for
us. “In their hearts humans plan their
course,but the Lord establishes
their steps.” (NIV)

Here’s to taking the next step sweet friends! Don’t be afraid! He has you and will not let go of you. Trust Him! Pray. Seek. Knock. The door will be opened for you! He is a GOOD GOOD FATHER!  #arise #go #trust #followhim