Thursday, September 29, 2016

Pink Eye and All

My youngest daughter woke up the other day from a nap and her eye was slightly pink and I knew right away what it was....pink eye. I hate pink eye. Of all the things my kids could get, this is the one I hate the most. Why? Because it's so easily contagious and the last time one of my kids got it it was shared and passed around for 3 weeks! 3 long weeks of washing everything everyday. Disinfecting everything everyday. So far my youngest is the only one who has it and I thought we were in the clear and then she woke up with it yesterday in her other eye! Sigh. So last night my oldest daughter brings the youngest down to me in the middle of the night. Apparently she had been crying and we didn't hear it. So she snuggled up next to me and i held her and we cuddled all night long. When I woke up this morning I started to strip my bed and the pillowcases and then I checked to make sure she didn't share her pink eye with me & the Holy Spirit started ministering to my heart and He reminded me that this is how He is with each of us. He doesn't wait for us to clean up our messes or illnesses or any of the things we bring to the table that make us think we're unworthy. NO! He's there, waiting for us to stop trying to heal ourselves and waiting to cuddle up with us and show us that He loves us and He wants to be our protector and our comforter in our time of need. He's not worried about us infecting Him. He just wants us. Mess and all. So if there's something that prevents you from going to the Father, don't think you have to lay it down before you go. Just go. He'll show you how to lay whatever it is down. Pink eye and all. 

Julie 

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Singleness Perks

Singleness perks. 

Yes there are some. I know it sounds nuts. I am the single one in a sea of married friends. 
But I got a good reminder of that recently. My friend, Julie, had death in her family. I got a phone call asking me to help in a time of need. Because I am single, I was able to drop everything to help her. I was able to minister to her family, fill a need. 

Am I always okay with being single? No. 
But if I am married, I would not be able run to help my friends in their time of need. I would have my own family to tend to. So in this instance and many more, my singleness is a blessing. I am okay with being able to fill a need. I enjoy getting to be the hands and feet of Jesus. Serving for the bigger picture. 
So today I am content. My heart is full. 

Jamie C

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Reflections

I am very much a processor. As I go through life and encounter different experiences, I often have to process those experiences. It takes time for me to discern often what God is teaching me or showing me. As many know, the last several weeks I walked beside my grandfather day in and day out as he fought to have one more day. I learned so much from him and his last weeks and for as painful as they were at times, I'm forever changed because of them and I owe that all to him. He taught me to never take for granted the gift of each day. Far too often we wish seasons away, but I watched as he embraced each day as a gift. His days were long and hard and he endured so much adversity in his final weeks of life but never once did I hear him complain. He always said he was thankful to be alive. And he made me appreciate each day too. I was thankful for one more day with him. 
But most importantly, he taught me the gift of investing in relationships. My grandfather was bed bound the last 8 weeks of his life. He no longer was interested in television or the news or any outside distractions. He was focused on the individual who was before him. The last several weeks, I would sit on his bed with him and we'd hold hands and we'd just talk. Every single day. Neither of us grew tired of it although some days he would be very tired and he didn't have a lot to give so we'd hold hands and he'd sleep. These last few weeks reminded me of something Rick Warren once said: "Time is your most precious gift because you only have a set amount of it. You can make more money, but you can't make more time. When you give someone your time, you are giving them a portion of your life that you'll never get back. Your time is your life. That is why the greatest gift you can give someone is your time.
It is not enough to just say relationships are important; we must prove it by investing time in them. Words alone are worthless. "My children, our love should not be just words and talk; it must be true love, which shows itself in action." Relationships take time and effort, and the best way to spell love is "T-I-M-E."
We may accomplish much in this life, but at the end of it all, relationships are what matter most and how we invest in one another. How we love one another. So, put down your phone, turn the tv off and be present in the moment with the people God has placed in your life. 

Julie

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

What Matters

I was standing in the middle of a room staring at caskets listening to the funeral director explain the differences in caskets. All I could think was do people really care what gage the casket is? Does it really matter if it's 18 or 20? Does the wood really matter? Ecclesiastes 12 is just playing through my mind as I hear him explaining the different caskets. I really wanted to stop him and say who cares, it's just going into a hole in the ground. What matters is the soul of the person who is being laid in that box. That's what matters. As I followed my grandmother around the room and watched her pick a casket for my grandfather the cost of the casket came up and someone said get what you want, you have life insurance. You've got plenty. Then I started thinking about life insurance and how what's really important isn't life insurance but soul insurance. Not everyone is fortunate enough to be able to afford life insurance. Thankfully my grandparents are but not everyone has that luxury. And while that's nice for them, that too doesn't really matter. Once you find yourself standing in a room full of caskets, all those things no longer matter. What we all need is soul insurance. And luckily we all have access to it. It's there. For you, for me. But sadly, most don't take heed. As Ecclesiastes 12:4-7 reminds us:

4 Remember Him before the door to life's opportunities and the sound of work fades. Now you rise at the first of the chirping birds, but then all their sounds will grow faint. 

Remember him before you become fearful of falling and worry about danger in the streets; before your hair turns white like an almond tree in bloom, and you drag along without energy like a dying grasshopper, and the caperberry no longer inspires sexual desire. Remember him before you near the grave, your everlasting home, when the mourners will weep at your funeral.

Yes, remember your Creator now while you are young, before the silver cord of life snaps and  Him the golden bowl is broken. Don’t wait until the water jar is smashed at the spring and the pulley is broken at the well.For then the dust will return to the earth, and the spirit will return to God who gave it.

A week after standing in that room my grandfather took his final breath and I was reminded again of what matters. Jesus. 


Julie

Monday, August 22, 2016

An Honest Question

Tonight I am questioning our judgment on man. When a man or woman that reaches so many with the love of Christ has sin in his life, can he serve?
Do you wish to serve God? Do you feel left out because you have sin in your life? We all have sin. David's testimony is documented. Saul was transformed. God is always working. We are all fallen human beings that are slaves to something we are working out with God. Where do we get to judge and tell someone they are not allowed to love on someone because they sin. I sin. I'm not proud of it, but it happens. That does not deter me from following Christ. It does not make me feel like I cannot love you the way Christ has asked me too. It exemplifies the commonality between us all. Are you to idolize a man, and expect him/her to be perfect? What if we instantly knew every pastors heart. You are looking to the wrong person. Christ came and gave the perfect example. He came and asked us to love His children. He didn't say love the perfect. I wish I was perfect. I wish my pastor could give me that perfect example, but unfortunately we are all human. We cannot look to each other to compare ourselves too. Yet, we do have Christ. We have a perfect example, that if we are willing to look to Him, we can find that perfect person. Should our leaders be seeking something better, yes! Should we be able to look to them for Godly leadership and guidance, yes. However, if you are removing people with the heart of God from leadership for their sin, you are missing the mark. No man will ever live up to the expectations that we have decided are essential. We are not here to judge a heart. We are not here to dig so deep into someone's sin that we can discount their heart for God. We are here to unite together as sinful humans in Christ. To lift each other up and encourage each other to rise above our sinful shortcomings. We all, including our leaders/pastors, will struggle with something in this life. We are here to lift each other up, not throw each other out of the kingdom of heaven. I pray that we can encourage each other to seek that life in Christ. That life that only Christ can make a reality. We can lift each other up to that, instead of trying to rise above our neighbor. We can pray with, love on, and encourage anyone that is struggling. Even that person that you put on a pedestal that failed you. They failed God first and need an encouraging word, not a judgmental word. When we unite, we heal, and then we do what Christ has called us to do. 

Rachel

Monday, August 15, 2016

Proverbs 31

It was 5:30 on Friday night when I had a flash back to my sister calling me the previous week asking me if I knew what I was wearing to our 30th birthday dinner. At the time, I was too busy to think about it or care. But for some reason, an hour before I was supposed to go out the door, I started panicking a little bit. '30' finally hit me and the enemy started to attack. Thoughts filled my head: I should have gone shopping for a new dress or I should have at least planned on what I was wearing. I should have spray tanned... gotten my hair or nails done... anything to make myself look and feel better! 

God was gracious and quickly convicted me. The whirlwind in my head was quieted as I started to pray. I was reminded of Psalm 119-( I am fearfully and wonderfully made). Everyone who would be coming to dinner with us loves and accepts me as the person God designed me to be. Satan was trying to steal my joy. Proverbs 30:31 is very clear on where our focus should be- Charm is deceptive and beauty fades away but a woman who honors the lord deserves to be praised. My thoughts shifted away from my outward appearance and toward the qualities that I want to continue pursuing into my 30's:

Self Worth- My value is not defined by the opinions of people but by who I am in the One who made me. (1 Samuel 16:7). Trustworthiness- I want to be so trustworthy that my friends, family and God have confidence in me. I want to be known to follow through with commitments, no matter how small they may seem (Col 3:9-10). Goodness- I want to be a vessel of joy and kindness, like medicine to the soul. Bringing life through my words and actions (Galatians 6:10). Servant's Heart- Having joyful desires for serving, loving and blessing others (1 Peter 4:10)

 As Christian women, there are so many other qualities as well that Jesus has called us strive toward. The only way we can become the women we are called to be is by becoming intimate with our creator. My prayer today is that God continues to work on my heart and allow me to become the Proverbs 31 woman  He has given the desire for me to be. 

Bekah


Thursday, August 11, 2016

Seize the Moment

Ten years ago I had a small medical procedure done and found myself bleeding uncontrollably for days. We went to the ER twice by our house and they tried to help, but the bleeding wouldn't stop. The second time I went the ER dr told me "I'll try this, but if it doesn't work you need to go to the hospital that your dr who performed the procedure has rights and they need to help you". That was Saturday night. Initially I thought I was ok, then Sunday morning, Easter Sunday, I found myself in the bathroom worse than I had been. Ryan went and did his duties at church as I stayed home and prayed on my knees until he returned and took me to the ER. I knew then, as I pleaded with the Lord that my issue was larger than a physical one. I didn't quite understand what he was doing, but I was keenly aware he was doing something.
 I was partnered with the dr who was on call for the dr who performed the procedure. Dr. Chandrasakhara who we would later start calling Dr. C. She stitched me up and sent me home but not before the Lord spoke to me & bound my heart with hers. I did not know this woman. We had never met and I had never heard of her but as we were there in that ER we locked eyes and the Lord locked our hearts. I walked out of that ER relieved I was physically better but my heart was burdened for this woman I didn't know. A few months later I found myself pregnant with our first child and I went back to see her. She came in the room and she told me "I'm so glad to see you. I always wondered what happened to you". I didn't think much of it then but I understand now that the Lord was doing something in both of us. 
Over the last ten years we have birthed 7 babies with her, walked through the pains of miscarriage and a million things in between. The last ten years has been full of love, laughter, and heartache with her as I have come to know she is devoutly Hindu. We've talked so much about Jesus and she's asked me so many questions over the years. We've prayed for her non-stop and we've loved her deeper than I ever imagined. Five years ago the Lord told me we'd have a son & we were to name him David. David Ryan Christopher. After Dr. C. This past July we finally were fortunate to meet the son we've long awaited and long prayed for. After I birthed him she came and sat with me, hugged me told me she loved me and then rubbed my head as she told me there are no words for all we've been through. And she's right. In that moment, the last ten years flooded my mind and I became speechless and choked up. 
Time may be measured in minutes, but life is measured in moments. And some moments are larger than life. That was one of them for me. There are a few places, a few experiences, and a few people that leave their imprints in ways that become parts of our souls. I've learned over the years that God is in the business of strategically positioning us in the right place at the right time, but its up to us to seize those opportunities that are all around us all the time. I have no doubt we seized the moment back in April of 2006. I also have no doubt that even though I never got to see her accept Jesus that my ten years with her wasn't in vain. I'm confident that the Lord did something in her heart as I know he did in mine. What seems like hard work that’s taking an eternity today — is exactly what may make the most difference in eternity. I rest in that. 
Julie