Looking UP in a Fallen World

Steph Looking UP

Are you praying for your pastor and elders?

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Praying for your pastor and elders is based upon Paul’s first letter to the church in Thessalonica. These scriptures are:

1 Thessalonians 5:12-13 ~ But we request of you, brethren, that you appreciate those who diligently labor among you, and have charge over you in the Lord and give you instruction, and that you esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Live in peace with one another.
1 Thessalonians 5:25 ~ Brethren, pray for us.

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Trials and Tribulations

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One of the biggest tests as a Christian is to stand up for the truth no matter the consequences or outcome. What if you knew that telling the truth would lead to rejection? What if it lead to unemployment? What if it lead to people mocking you, and your own people group shunning you? Or your own children being wounded? What if you knew it would lead to your own death?

God does not promise us that things will be easy or turn out the way we want if we tell the truth or stand up for it. In fact, the scriptures give us example after example of the opposite. Jesus came to testify to the Truth, and He was rejected and killed by His own people group. I also know Jesus asked God to not hold these sins against them, because they didn’t know what they were doing.

Have you ever disagreed with someone? Have you ever been angry with them over it? What if they have wounded you? I would say if you are letting this anger get in the way of love, then you need to start having a relationship with the one true God. If His spirit lives inside of you, truly you will not be able to hate another person, if you are walking in the Spirit. We are supposed to be examples, and point the way IN LOVE, not in pride, or hatred.

My family has traveled this road. Our character has been refined, and each of us is more like Christ as a result. I am thankful that God has done these great works through the trials we have experienced.

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Love One Another

LoveOneAnother

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. ~ John 13:34-35

*Update* to A Jagged Rock…

A jagged rock started rolling. One of which I was unaware and could not stop. It was rolling over my kids so I cried out to the LORD. He comforted me and reminded me that my children are His… Since before creation He knew this day would come. The rock hurt and felt crushing, going down a path… Taking bits of me with it. Once I knew my kids were clear from the devastation, I let go of the rock, and sought refuge. Crash landed, exhausted at the feet of Jesus. The rock traveled, gaining momentum as it destroyed trust, relationships, and hope for some along its destructive path. I watched from the safety of my Father’s protection, and no longer feared the future of this out of control rock. Knowing He is in control, He can and will restore, and holding on to the promises He gives.

My cage had been rattled. I could hear the roar and feel the tremble of this rock heading our way for quite some time. The anticipation of its arrival was almost more than I could bear. Once I had relented, and let it out of my hands, I felt a tremendous burden had been lifted… Only I know it in reality it had been transferred to another, instead. I realize none of this is our story, but rather it all points to Christ. I prayed the devastation was kept to a minimum, that God used this rock to heal all wounds, and it wasn’t picked up and thrown in hatred.

I now know it WAS picked up and thrown in hatred. And, by the grace of God, it was not only caught with a mitt full of grace and compassion, but IN LOVE and not returned.

The following are not my own words, but those from a dear Sister in Christ: “And though our circumstances are difficult and rocky, we know that ALL things work together for the good of those who love Him. To find His purpose in suffering and to glorify Him in all things is most trying but for our sanctification and blessing!”

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#Integrity – What’s in your wallet?

Integrity

He who speaks truth tells what is right,
But a false witness, deceit. . . .
Truthful lips will be established forever,
But a lying tongue is only for a moment.
Deceit is in the heart of those who devise evil,
But counselors of peace have joy. . . .
Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord,
But those who deal faithfully are His delight (Prov. 12:17–22).

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I see the shark fin circling…

Did you know your very life is under attack? Satan absolutely loves it when you are all stressed out and everything is chaotic. Are you going to let him knock you down? There is power in the name Jesus. Speak scripture out loud. You will see yourself gain strength and peace from the author of everything.

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Are you up for counseling?

 

Counseling

If more people were comfortable with counseling , Satan would not have the hold that he has over so many people. It is one of Satan’s biggest lies, that you do not need counseling. Jesus is the Wonderful Counselor (Isaiah 9:6). So, if you remove the need for counseling, then you remove the need for comfort from Him. And that is Satan’s lie.

Psalm 16:7
I will praise the Lord who counsels me.

 

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Batteries NOT Included

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I prided myself on my diplomacy and calm demeanor. I thought I was pretty unflappable, actually. I never considered myself impatient or short-tempered. I worked AND I was a mom. It was hard. It was really hard. I had to get a kite up in the air every morning, and hand it off to someone else. I hoped it would stay up all day, but inevitably the kite crashed (and burned) more often than I would like to admit. Then add another layer (and a big one at that) and the kite not only crashed frequently, but it was so bent out of shape that I really didn’t think it would ever fly again. Ever.

I started homeschooling.

Some of our friends raised their eyebrows. Others just slowly disappeared. Grandparents voiced opinions for and against. Homeschooling friends celebrated. How do I get started? What curriculum do I buy? How do I know they’re learning? What do I do if they’re not? How do I test? What if they fail the test? What if my kids are weird and obnoxious? What if I fail? And what if I started…then stopped? That was the biggest fear. Would some friends come back and homeschooling friends grieve and disappear? Would I get more raised eyebrows? Oh the pressure I placed on myself. I thought teaching my children would be hard. I expected it. In hindsight – I had no clue. Something much uglier was the issue. And it was me. I shoved my kite way back into the farthest corner of the messiest closet.

I started teaching my children.

I slowly began realizing that my children cannot learn (and I cannot teach) when we are frustrated. Or tired. Or hungry. Or distracted. Or mad. Or lazy. Or…I could go on and on. I knew what my children needed. They need a schedule. They need some fun. They need field trips and memberships. They need school desks, and chalkboards, and computer programs. Very excitedly, I took the broken and ugly kite out of the closet, dusted it off and…it didn’t work. It still wouldn’t leave the ground.

I started looking UP.

In trying to figure out the “problems” with my kids, I discovered something. I had a very divided heart. Every single character flaw I identified in them was actually firmly rooted in me. I realized that I had been expecting my children to “catch” the kite as it goes flying by them (you know…before it crashed). God showed me that. He took this hidden kite of mine, and with a very sharp needle, he began repairing it one stitch at a time.

“I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” Romans 7:15

I started being a mom (again).

I stopped “teaching” them. We cuddled. We focused on identifying bibical character traits and how to improve them in each of us…in the entire household. We admitted our mistakes and held each other accountable. We slept in and cooked together. We went camping and played board games. We did some academics, but mostly we focused on reading and encouraging one another. I took the kite out again and began planning a proper re-launch.

I started learning.

My kids have taught me much more than I could ever teach them. They taught me how to wear my heart outside of my body, to get over the baby drool, and to stop looking around for approval. They taught me I am impatient and short-tempered. They taught me that I need to make sure my facial expressions match my words, how to cry when I hurt, how to cuddle even when I am mad, and to always smile even if I have food in my teeth. And most of all they taught me that my batteries need to be recharged. I didn’t even know I had batteries. Come to find out batteries are not included with kites. We fly the kite every day now. Every morning I recharge my batteries with God. He speaks to me in prayer and through His word. I hope it stays up all day, but inevitably the kite crashes (and sometimes catches on fire) more often than I would like to admit. But it still looks UP.

“No matter how calmly you try to referee, parenting will eventually produce bizarre behavior, and I am not talking about the kids. Their behavior is always normal.” – Bill Cosby

Written by Steph J. for Heart of the Matter

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A jagged rock started rolling…

falling-rock

A jagged rock started rolling. One of which I was unaware and could not stop. It was rolling over my kids so I cried out to the LORD. He comforted me and reminded me that my children are His… Since before creation He knew this day would come. The rock hurts and feels crushing, going down a path… Taking bits of me with it. Once I knew my kids were clear from the devastation, I let go of the rock, and sought refuge. Crash landed, exhausted at the feet of Jesus. The rock is still traveling, gaining momentum as it destroys trust, relationships, and hope along its destructive path. I watch from the safety of my Father’s protection, no longer fearing the future of this out of control rock. Knowing He is in control, He can and will restore, and holding on to the promises He gives.

My cage has been rattled. I could hear the roar and feel the tremble of this rock heading our way for quite some time. The anticipation of its arrival was almost more than I could bear. Now that I have relented, and let it out of my hands, I feel a tremendous burden has been lifted… Only I know it in reality has been transferred to another sister, instead. I realize none of this is our story, but rather it all points to Christ. I pray the devastation is kept to a minimum, that God uses this rock to heal all wounds, and it isn’t picked up and thrown in hatred. And if it is thrown, that it is caught with a mitt full of grace and compassion.

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We are living in a material world, and I am an eternal girl…

Do you all remember the Madonna song? I do. I didn’t really know what it meant when I first heard it back in the 80’s. I just knew it had a good beat, and sounded cool. Sometimes friends are like that, too. You don’t really know what they’re all about until you stop dancing and listen to their lyrics. I might sound a little disenchanted right now…I probably am. I have been through the ringer the past 6 months. We all think we have friends…sure we go through the weekly pleasantries at church or in mutual settings. But what if a crisis happens and there’s controversy surrounding it? What then? What are you supposed to do when friends begin whispering about the crisis…you know, as a “prayer request?”

This all feels very discouraging and much like my middle school years. Perhaps that is why I’m allowed to go on this field trip…because apparently there’s still a little middle school girl inside of me that’s afraid to show up to school…only to find out her best friend has torn up her picture, placed it on the public bulletin board, and the entire grade is pointing and laughing at you (true story). What’s that all about? Why do I care then or now? It hurts. You find out someone really isn’t your friend after all. Their loss, right? At least you find out sooner than later, and you move on. The problem is…it gets more and more difficult as you get older to trust another “friend” with your heart again.

Some women will say this kind of stuff doesn’t happen. They lie. Either they are one of the gals “jockeying for position” or, they are one of the gals getting ran over by the herd. It all sickens me. None of this stems from jealousies. Women are prone to gossip, and don’t easily share knowledge with other women (Titus 2). It is our sin nature, and we are tempted to sin. We hoard everything we have, then we “show” the others how they are lacking. It stinks. If you have a shred of insecurity…then you know exactly what I’m talking about. If you have none whatsoever, then move along. There’s nothing to see here. I used to think when I worked in the corporate world that the women were cut-throat. They were nothing. Nothing compared to homeschool moms. Homeschool moms are smart, opinionated, well-versed in manipulation, self-righteous, and proud. Hard to compete with that. Well, I’m a homeschool mom. But, you win. I’m a loser, and I concede to this loss. I don’t care if you look down on my supplementing my children’s education with public school classes. You put your own in public school funded sports. Where’s the speck in my eye now?

How do you show someone love, which has shown you hate? You do it because Jesus showed us and commanded us to (John 15). I have a clear heart, and seek God’s reassurance often. He has sustained me through all of this. He is slowly weaning me off of people, and reminding me to come to Him for security and love. It is hard, but I continue one day at a time.

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Steph’s Stuff

You too, can sell a little of yourself

Well, I did it. I sold my 1967 Mustang Fastback. I posted it on Craigslist last week…10 days later it drove off into the sunset. As I was fielding a slew of emails from prospective buyers (“Is the car still for sale?” or “Can you send me some additional pictures?” or even “Is your price negotiable?”), my husband asked me if I was worried whether it would sell. I said no. I knew it would sell. Because God has been urging me to sell this car for well over a year.

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