How Delightful!

How Delightful!

The room was dimly lit with the sleepy light of a late summer day of rain. The rocking chair I’d settled into was neatly angled from the corner of our comfortable living room, and in close proximity to the fresh country air pouring in from the wide open window. The sound of water up against the porch awning was gentle and unobtrusive, more comforting than any lullaby.

I rested my head on the back of the rocker as it glided back and forth. I found myself overwhelmed with gratitude. I was thankful that my husband was off working at a job that provided for our family, that my son was sitting in classes he enjoyed, and for the bliss of being nestled beneath the weight of a sleeping baby.

(Photo credit: Danielle Dolson)

“This is Heaven,” I thought. I knew even then that it was one of the best moments I had ever, and maybe would ever, experience in my lifetime. I was deeply contented and my heart was truly delighted.

“Trust in the Lord and do good. Then you will live safely in the land and prosper. Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires.”

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭37:3-4‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Oh, those traveling verses! Have you ever come across a line of scripture that begins to follow you around? You start to see it on wall hangings, on a passerby’s t-shirt, or maybe more subtly in a book you’re reading or in conversation with a stranger.

This Psalms passage has been making itself known and as I read it again, a line jumped out at me: “take delight in the Lord”. Do you ever find that there are some common phrases in the Bible or church setting that we kind of take for granted and may not have spent time figuring out? This line occurred to me as a “taken for granted” kind of line, particularly because of what is said next: “take delight in the Lord, and He will give you your heart’s desire.” Well sign me up! The last part peeked my interest because of course, who doesn’t want to be granted their heart’s desire?! It’s like the Bible is saying- God will give you whatever you want, just follow this simple instruction! So naturally you backtrack to examine the instruction more carefully, (and while there is more to it) its true meaning becomes clearer.

(Photo credit: Monika Grabkowska)

To get a better grip on the phrase “to delight in”, I tried to plug it into my own life. Here’s what I came up with:

  • I delight in peaceful rainy days with the windows open like the one I described earlier.
  • I delight in funny cat videos.
  • I thoroughly delight in long slow walks through Joann Fabrics with a hot coffee in my hand.
  • I delight in seeing my kids play well together and not push each other into piles of Lego’s.

The phrase begins to take shape. “Where is your heart?” it seems to say. Now I could edit my post and put “I delight in doing God’s will and studying His Word” at the top, but if I’m being honest, it wasn’t the first thing I thought of. The little joys in life- which are certainly supplied by God- were my more immediate thoughts. Of course there is delight in living a God-led life, but it’s often His blessings that catch our attention first.

While it’s good to enjoy what God has given us, we shouldn’t allow it to replace our delight in the Lord. As the passage says- take delight in the LORD and he will give you your heart’s desires. The gifts in this life are to be enjoyed, but soon pass away. Our heart should find its happiness in the One who never fades or ends or changes, because then our joy will be unwavering, too. If we delight in the Lord, our desires will naturally evolve to ones that are good and pleasing to Him, and I believe He will in turn grant them.

(Photo credit: Lesly Juarez)

“He led me to a place of safety; he rescued me because he delights in me.”

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭18:19‬ ‭NLT‬‬

So what does God delight in? He delights in us- our hearts devoted to Him! There’s no need to get caught up on figuring out any more than that. Just as we delight in our children, so God delights in us. Psalms makes sure to rule out the unnecessary as well:

“You take no delight in sacrifices or offerings. Now that you have made me listen, I finally understand — you don’t require burnt offerings or sin offerings.”

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭40:6‬ ‭NLT‬‬

God doesn’t need us to check serving, attending service, or activity in a small group off of our list- even though those are things that often come naturally as a result of a devoted heart. He just wants to be the priority on our list. When we study His Word and really grasp what it is to have His Holy Spirit living in our hearts, we will find delight in Him and doing His will becomes a natural side effect.

“I delight to do Your will, O my God; yes, Your law is within my heart. [Heb. 10:5-9.]”

‭‭Psalm‬ ‭40:8‬ ‭AMPC‬‬

It’s the beginning of what I hope is a delightful holiday week for you all! Enjoy your many blessings as you reflect on them this week- and feel free to share a little about them in the comments below!

Advertisements
Things My Kids Say Thursday #9

Things My Kids Say Thursday #9

Son: What are we having for dinner?

Me: Chicken à la King.

Son: Wait, what? Chicken Al, the king?

– • – • – • – • –

He had never heard of this dish before and he was genuinely confused! I couldn’t stop laughing so I told him to go draw me Chicken Al, the king. He did not disappoint!

Things My Kids Say Thursday #8

Things My Kids Say Thursday #8

My 8-year-old son is such a trooper!

Early last month he broke his arm (his left arm- and he’s a lefty, of course.) There were no tears in the ER or even at the office when he was having his cast put on. The weekly X-rays he had done afterward were looking good for a short time- but then one revealed healing wasn’t happening quite as it should and so we scheduled a procedure to have the issue corrected.

He kept his cool as the medical team prepped him, but I could see that the IV was nerve wracking for him. After all was said and done, (and the procedure went well,) he recapped his experience with his dad. Since I was the only one able to be with him in the prep area before his procedure, he was telling Dad all about what they did to get him ready. He then explained his stress at having the IV started:

Son: When they started talking about an “IV” the first thing I thought of was poison IVY!

– • – • – • – • –

In all my careful explanation before taking him in for his procedure, I had apparently failed to explain just what an IV actually is. This poor kid- no wonder he was stressed about it!

What are things your kids have misheard or misunderstood that have made you laugh?

Best Dad Ever

Best Dad Ever

Every once in a while I catch a case of wanderlust and sneak onto a travel site. I check out different locations and see how many mortgage payments it would cost to go to my dream location. I wonder what it would be like to slip on some giant sunnies, board a plane, and step off of it in a Mediterranean paradise. Or what it would be like to take an Instagram-worthy photo of the best foreign food- assuming my camera was faster than my fork.

(Photo credit: Shifaaz shamoon)

While I’ve never been overseas, there are countless pictures, personal accounts, and even movies to tell me what it must be like. It seems so different from what I know, but it becomes easy to imagine and wish for. Even with all the information I can find online, having never experienced it, I don’t really know what it’s like in those distant countries I admire.

(Photo credit: Zach Ward)

Sometimes there are aspects of our relationship with God that can be difficult to experience or understand because of lacking elements in our earthly relationships.

One aspect of our connection to God that I’ve always loved and held dear is our relationship with Him as a father. Understanding who God is as a father is a crucial part of understanding His importance in our lives. But how can you do that if you’ve never had a right relationship with your own earthly father?Understandably, it’s difficult.

How can I know what a fresh cannoli tastes like in a mom and pop Italian bakery if I’ve never been to Italy? How can I know what it smells like when it rains on the streets of Paris if I’ve never walked them? And how can I experience God’s fatherly love and the consistency of His presence in my life if I’ve not had that from my human father?

(Photo credit: Derek Thomson)

For starters, know that this is a place for your faith to grow.

“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.”

‭‭James‬ ‭1:2-3‬ ‭NLT‬‬

It’s said that there are things concerning how God works that we’re not meant to know or understand in this life, and this may be one of them for some of us.

But if you peek into the lives of others, you’ll see that you are not singled out- that there are opportunities for faith to grow in them, too. For those who struggle with addiction, their opportunity may be in the long recovery process. For those who are limited due to illness or inability, their opportunity may be in their limits. And for some of us, our opportunity for faith to be grown may be in a hurt or missing parental relationship.

If we lack these things- sobriety, physical ability, emotional stability, etc.- how do we fill the space they should inhabit? What a beautiful empty room those things create to be filled with God’s presence, beauty, and great ability to provide.

(Photo credit: Philipp Berndt)

If you don’t know what to expect from God as your father or how to identify Him in that way because of a lacking relationship, Psalm 145 gives great representation of our Heavenly Father:

Fatherly Characteristics of God (According to Psalm 145)

God is……..

  • Merciful (v. 8)
  • Compassionate (v. 8, 9)
  • Slow to anger (v. 8)
  • Filled with unfailing love (v. 8)
  • Good to everyone (v. 9)
  • Promise keeper (v. 13, also Psalm 146:6)
  • Gracious (v. 13)
  • Righteous (v. 17)
  • Filled with kindness (v. 17)
  • Protector (v. 20, also Psalm 144:2)

In His grace, God has planted in His Word all the information we need to have a clear picture of who He is as our father. Though we may not have the chance to experience these qualities in our human relationships, God is faithful and fulfills them all- not just some! In the emptiness a broken relationship can leave behind, God fills the space and overflows from it with his abundance of loving qualities. We can relate to Him because we learn through His Word who He is, and we build trust by relying on Him consistently.

Some of us may never get the social media-worthy photo of extravagant travels or Norman Rockwell family moments. (Even if we did, surely we’re wise enough by now to know that there is always production magic going on behind the scenes to make those things appear better than they really are.) But there are no special effects in the image scripture gives us of God the Father. It’s cut and dry- a candid depiction of the constant qualities of the only unfailing parent we will ever know.

And what’s more, God is eternal and omnipresent. That’s forever. That’s everywhere. That’s never waiting on the front porch in disappointment realizing He isn’t going to show, or living life after He’s gone. He is always with us, completely constant in all of His perfect qualities.

If you’re left wanting from your earthly parental relationships, take heart in this scripture from Psalms 27:

“Even if my father and mother abandon me, the Lord will hold me close.”

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭27:10 NLT

What great encouragement it is to know that we are never alone, even if our most foundational relationships in this life fail! God is always close to us, and always able to supply His perfect peace if we are faithful to ask for it.

What quality of God as a father are you most thankful for?

Things My Kids Say Thursday #7

Things My Kids Say Thursday #7

Sometimes my son says things that come out of left field and make me laugh. But sometimes he speaks wisdom without even realizing it.

The other day he had taken note of all the long hours my husband had been putting in at work, and his observation really showed his heart.

Son: “(Dad) works so hard everyday and all he gets is money.”

– • – • – • – • –

When we work hard we think, ‘yes! What will my paycheck look like?!’ But my young son reminded me with this one comment that money of any amount is of minimal value. I love how he looks at his dad and sees a man he believes should be rewarded with so much more than money, and also that he sees there is greater reward to be had in life than money.

Thanks for the fresh perspective, Bubby!

(Photo credit: NeONBRAND)

Why I Choose Not to Post Consistently

Why I Choose Not to Post Consistently

There are times as a blogger that I sit and stare at my stats. I get anxious when a post gets less likes than normal, thinking ‘this is just going to fizzle out- is it really the calling I thought it was, or just a hobby?’ Then I get anxious when the views start picking up, feeling as if I need to keep pushing content in order to feed the momentum.

But I choose not to. And here’s why….

(Photo credit: rawpixel)

My prayer for my writing is that God leads it. I pray that He gives me the words, and then I pray an even scarier prayer: that He allows me to complete these things in His timing.

(Remember that whole (wo)man with the plan thing? God loves to challenge that!)

I’ve been through more in my 25 (plus tax) years than most ought to, and if I’ve learned anything it’s that God can be trusted. He is like the super hero in the movies who swoops in at just the right moment- even though sometimes it feels like you’ve already weathered an explosion or two waiting on Him. Still, He arrives with the perfect solution that we couldn’t have even imagined. I’ve experienced this sort of faithfulness more times than I can count, and so when the Lord says “wait,” even if I have to fight reluctance, I wait.

A perfect example of this occurred on a recent post. I had written it somewhat more easily than usual, proofread it several times, and was ready to hit ‘publish’. (Ah, yes! Sticking to my preferred posting schedule for once!) But when it came time to do so, the blank title space at the top might as well have just told me to go make myself a cup of coffee and settle in to enjoy my day because it was not happening. My mind was blank. Blanker than blank. Nada. Nothing.

After staring for several long minutes I went on to other things, but all day long I kept opening my finished blog post and staring at the title line, flabbergasted by my inability to think of one single word to type. I tried a few things, but they were obviously ill fitting. Finally I put it away and decided God just didn’t want that post in the world that day. I went to sleep that night, and waited as I sensed I was being told to do.

(Photo credit: rawpixel)

The next morning I got up, tried again, and this time the title came easily. The blog was published and I walked away feeling like a weight had been lifted. Not long after, I began receiving messages and comments all expressing the same thing- “this was perfectly timed, this was exactly what I needed this morning.”

God had said to wait. The people who needed the words He’d given me just weren’t ready to hear them yet. And when He does allow the opportunity for these things to be shared, you can trust that there is more purpose behind the details than little old me or you could ever foresee. He plans the party. I just buy a gift and show up when He tells me to.

Yes, I want to watch the stats climb. Yes, I’d love to have a following. But if the followers are here for me, and I’m not adding to God’s following, then my blog is just offering distraction, not direction.

So I’m not afraid to sit on an idea and see what wisdom God shares over the following days through reading His word. I’m not too concerned over whether or not I’ll be breaking any personal stat records. I’m trusting that whoever needs to read these words will read them, and that anyone who isn’t ready won’t be distracted by them.

I’m thankful for this blogging community and the support all of you offer! I pray you stay encouraged even in the dry seasons and trust that God is at work behind the scenes. What you do is important. Sharing His message is important- and so is patience for His timing.

God bless, friends 💛

Guard Your Chocolate

Guard Your Chocolate

In my house, I have a secret, hidden stash. The chocolate kind. I cannot even speak its coordinates to you all because there are blog readers in this house who may or may not be trusted. 🤷🏻‍♀️

Photo credit: Jennifer Pallian

Let’s just say I have my reasons for keeping my stash undercover. You know- there are a million things I have and share in a day: my time, my resources, the food off my plate. And even though I would probably share my chocolate too if my kids gave me the puppy dog eyes, it’s better if I don’t. Those little pieces of Heaven create a moment in my day. It means more to me than it does to my kids and it’s something that keeps me going on long days (not to mention I’m avoiding sugared up kiddos.) I keep the location protected so my supply doesn’t dwindle, or get stolen away. Yes, it’s a small thing, but it makes a big difference for me, and so I do what I can to guard it.

But my chocolate stash isn’t the only thing in my life that is small and needs protecting. There is something else worth defending- (and it’s oddly synonymous with chocolate, if you ask me)- my heart.

We give so much from our hearts, and it’s easy at some point to find ourselves in a position where we’re giving too much, or giving to the wrong people or situations.

Proverbs cautions against wrongly depleting this precious resource:

“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”

‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭4:23‬ ‭NIV‬‬

I have been guilty of an unguarded heart. I have at times felt that if God is leading me somewhere I need to sacrifice all of my energy and resources into that one place. Sometimes that is what’s asked of us, but sometimes we’re not being asked to tend and harvest the whole field- only to plant a seed. While it’s imperative that we act when God calls us to, the way we approach the situation is also very important and needs to be accomplished with wisdom and tact.

As it’s said, “everything you do” flows from your heart. What would that look like if you’ve poured out the last drop of that resource because you’d been trying to replenish what God never asked you to repair? An unbeliever who isn’t ready to hear the truth, a casual listener who refutes your every point, or a relationship not based on good moral ground could all be examples of heart-draining situations if God has not personally called you to those people for a purpose. Of course we will be led to encourage those who are distant from Him, but ‘who’, ‘when’, and ‘where’ are all details best left to the Lord. When we try to make up the details on our own without first seeking His will and guidance, we’re always left feeling drained.

I’ll put it like this: Have you ever left the lid open on the diaper wipes container? It doesn’t seem like a big deal. There’s a whole container of them so what does it matter if you get distracted and leave that top wipe free to dry out? If you leave them for a few minutes, no big deal. You pitch the top wipe. But if you keep leaving them unattended in that compromising situation, then before you know it the whole pack has gone bad.

Not guarding your heart dries you out.Little by little, when we devote our time and attention to the wrong things- or even when we are investing too much in the “right” things when we haven’t been led to do so- we end up feeling empty.

I can’t say I’m always an expert on the art of balance, but I can certainly admit I’ve left my heart unguarded and been drained a time or ten. In my experience, these are some things I’ve found to be helpful in that self-protection I believe Proverbs talks about:

Helpful Hints To Guarding Your Heart

1. Protect your time with the Lord. The task lists, the dirty dishes, the stack of paperwork- it will all still be there when you’re done. Don’t let those things steal you away from this time.

2. Make time for the Lord. Let’s backtrack a little. If you’re going to protect something, it has to be in existence first. One on one time with God in prayer is imperative to a God-filled, God-led life. Set apart time to be still and seek Him, and use this time to ask God for wisdom on all matters- big and small.

3. Take a step back and ask yourself- “Is this leading me closer to or farther away from relationship with God?” And act accordingly.

4. Don’t try to do it all on your own. Listen to Philippians 4:6-7 (emphasis added):

“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”

While we can expect hard work ahead in our mission to be a light to others, I hope it encourages you to know that we are all equipped with God’s peace to guard our hearts along the way. I hope if you are feeling depleted today that your spirit will be renewed through Him and you will stay steadfast on the path He’s set before you.

Happy Monday, friends!