The Words of My Mouth

When my son was just a little guy, he spouted out a curse word in the middle of Walmart! I was mortified.  I quickly looked around to be sure that no one I knew heard my sweet boy’s words.  15+ years later, I still am not sure how he knew the words most less how to use them in context.

As soon as we got home, I made him eat butter….(which may seem strange but he literally gagged at the taste of butter back then).  After a spoonful of butter and a good explanation from me as to why we don’t use words like that, I went to the Bible looking for a verse that he – and I – could memorize to remind us that our speech should honor the Lord.

This verse has been one that I have never forgotten.  Since he was around 3 at the time, I simplified it for him but I can assure you that over the years, I have reminded him of our learning the meaning of this verse.

Recently I have been reminded of the importance of this verse.  I try not to be careless with my words but sometimes, well…it just happens.  God’s Word tells us that our words are to encourage and lift others up.  The old saying about stick and stones – I just don’t believe it.   But did you know that it’s been around for a very long time? Since 1862!! That’s 155 years of taunting on the playground.  I’m blown away.  Here is the other thing that got me.  It is reported that it first appeared in The Christian Recorder which was a publication of the African Methodist Episcopal Church.  Here’s what Wikipedia (I know, please don’t judge me) says about the phrase, “The rhyme persuades the child victim of name-calling to ignore the taunt, to refrain from physical retaliation, and to remain calm and good-natured.”  But it’s just not true. Words hurt!

I just have to say it again…..words HURT!!

Psalm 64 is a plea for protection from an enemy, from the wicked.  But verse 3 speaks the truth of what is on my heart here.  It says “…bitter words like arrows,”.    And when they pierce us like an arrow and forgiveness is sought and given, there are times that those hurtful words are like a branding on our brains and on our hearts.  I have four words that haunt me.  For over twenty years now, these four words have effected me.  And not in a good way.  Because someone who, at one time was very important to me, said something hurtful I struggle with self-esteem. It’s a hard truth for me to type out loud.

I love what Proverbs says about our words.

Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.

~ Proverbs 16:24 ~

Isn’t this what we should strive for?  Giving “sweetness to the soul” of those we love? Of course, there are times that truth, that is hard, must be spoken.  But God’s Word addresses that too!  In Ephesians chapter 4 when Paul is preaching to the church at Ephesus, he shares that “speaking the truth in love” helps us grow towards Christ.

I’m on a journey in this life.  I am not perfect but I praise the Lord for laying things on my heart that I need to give attention to.  The words of my mouth are something I need to pay more attention to.  I need to let my “yes be yes” and my “no be no”.  I need to use my words to give “sweetness to the soul” of others.  And if there are hard things that need to be said, I need to say them “truthfully in love”.

Until next time……

Joy to You!

 

 


More Than We Ask Or Imagine

Life has been full of ups and downs for our family over the past 5 months.  My husband is in full time ministry.  And ministry comes with challenges.  One of my dearest friends often says that,

Ministry is never easy or convenient!!

She is right.  The hardest part about full time ministry is that sometimes the Lord’s plans take you to a new ministry.  That is where we are right now.  We have been where we are for 5 years.  We have loved and been loved by a congregation of precious people.  We have had the honor and privilege of being in a strong homeschool community.  We’ve done ministry in our small town and grown to love the people here.

Within the next few weeks, we will move on.  I’ll write more about the details of our new place soon but today, I am overwhelmed at what God has done in our family in the past few months.  We have seen answers to big prayers and small prayers.  I wasn’t surprised by answered prayer.  Just reminded that He hears us and that He does answer.

I’ve been doing a Bible study on prayer and a few weeks back the focus verses were Ephesians 3:20-21.

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I was immediately humbled.  For months I had been asking God for the obvious.  These verses reminded me that He will do more than just the obvious.  He will answer the things I pray for, in His will, and even the things I didn’t know to pray for.  He will answer my needs and sometimes, He may just give me the desire of my heart.  I know all of this…I just really needed the reminder on that particular day.

The last part of these verses stuck out to me.  Three words almost jumped off the page:

“…throughout all generations,…”

This is about my kids.  And my grandchildren.  And my great-grandchildren.  And many more after that.

God wants to show up and show out in our lives so that what He does impacts the lives for generations to come.  That is an incredible thought to me.

Today is Good Friday.  I have no idea what the cry of your heart has been to the Lord.  What I do know is that He desires to give you more than you can imagine.  Think about the disciples.  Even though Jesus had been telling them exactly what was going to happen to Him, I’m not sure they really understood.  And then, they met Him after His resurrection.  Can you imagine what they felt?

I am praying the lives are changed this Easter season. That hearts are turned to the Lord and that those touched will experience more than they ever “asked or imagined” through their life in Christ.  I expect Him to continue to show my family His plan and purpose for us.

What about you?  What do you ask or imagine from the Lord?

Look to the cross and know that He went there for you.  For me.

Joy to You!

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Refreshment?

 

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Beginning in 1929 and continuing on through at least 2013, Coca – Cola has used the theme of “refreshment” in their slogan.  I’ve shown a few above. Personally, I am a Coke girl.  I can actually tell the difference between Pepsi and Coke.  You can’t fool me.  And I will admit that when it’s ice cold and really fizzy, I am refreshed.

So what does “refreshment” mean?  Webster’s 1828 dictionary says:

Act of refreshing; or new strength or vigor received after fatigue; relief after suffering; applied to the body.

Obviously drinking Coke, or any other drink, would fall into the “act of refreshing.”  So, why am I writing about this?

Our family has been facing some challenges over the past few months that, honestly, have worn me down.  I’ve tried to be brave and strong.  I have prayed and cried.  And I have cried and prayed.  I have talked to my closest friends and my dear extended family members.  (And those conversations are “refreshing” to my soul).  Through it all, I have said over and over again,

I trust the Lord!

Or on the days that trusting was hard, I said,

I HAVE to trust Him!

Recently as I was writing my thoughts and prayers in my journal, I was prompted to go to a familiar passage in Proverbs.  I can paraphrase it but I felt like I was supposed to really read it.   It goes like this:

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I have read chapter 3 of Proverbs many times.  I have listened to sermons focusing on verses 5 -6, which are probably the best known verses in the chapter.  But I read further and discovered verse 8.

God’s Word is so cool.  It tells us what to do and then, without fail…when we keep reading, it tells us the result.  The result of trusting in the Lord is healing and refreshment.  Not cold drink refreshing but down in your bones refreshing.

Isn’t that wonderful?

Just think, the Lord wants to refresh us.  Our trusting in Him and not in ourselves, will bring healing to our broken and hurting hearts.  You see:

We may not know what tomorrow holds

We may be saying a final good-bye to a loved one that we aren’t ready to let go

We may not understand decisions that our kids or our spouse make

We may feel like our families are falling apart

We may be caring for aging parents

We may have lost a close connection with friends that we once had

…but we can still TRUST in Him.

How do we trust Him?  We have to get to know Him first.  It only makes sense.  We would, most likely, not immediately trust someone that we’ve just met.  We want to get to know them first.  Our trust in the Lord is an outward expression of our faith and yet, we need to know Him to trust Him.

I discovered a beautiful scripture the other day when looking up reference verses for a Bible study that I am working through.  I was so excited about the verse that I just had to add it to my journaling Bible:

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Hosea shares a promise for refreshment.  When we “press on” to KNOW the Lord, the result is Him “coming to us as the showers of a Spring rain that waters the earth.”  If that’s not refreshment, I don’t know what is!!

That is what I want.  It’s what I need.  Refreshment like rain from the Lord.

And so, I continue on the journey that God has me, and my family, on.  We are pressing on to know Him and we are looking forward to the refreshment (down to our bones) that His Word promises.

I hope that you also have that kind of refreshment every time you meet with Him.  His Word is a great place to find it.  That’s my prayer for you.  And for me!

Until next time…Joy to You!

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Forget ~ A Five Minute Friday Post

I’ve taken a little time away from writing but have much on my heart that I want to say so I’ll be back at it soon.  In the mean time, I thought I’d do a Five Minute Friday Post teaming up with Kate Motaung and other bloggers who also sit and write for 5 minutes about one word.  No real prep.  No fancy photos – at least not for me.  Just writing.

So here I go:

Today’s word is FORGET

This is a word that really hits home.  Seems I am forgetting everything these days. I often chuckle and say that I birthed my memory.  Somewhere between 12 and 17 years ago, I now remember nothing and my kids….well, they remember EVERYTHING!!!

But I think the word FORGET is bigger than that.  I’ve been thinking alot about God’s grace and forgiveness lately and was reminded that He forgets.  He forgets our sins.  He forgets our bad attitudes.  He forgets our short comings. He forgets our blatant sin.  True repentance is part of the equation with this but when we do repent in our heart of hearts, I believe that He does forget them.

Psalm 103:12 says, “as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”

That means that He doesn’t hold them against us.  They are gone.  They don’t return to be held against us.  For me, that means that He forgets them.  I won’t stand before Him one day and have my sins listed out before me.

 

What a beautiful thing!

 

So now I’ve decided that I, too, want to FORGET.  I want to follow the example Christ gave and forget the bad attitude that my kids have about cleaning their room, our doing their school work, or whatever makes them cranky.  I want to forget that the cashier at the grocery store wasn’t very nice to me.  After all, her bad mood doesn’t have anything to with me but with the rude person in line before me.  There are a plethora of examples that come to mind as I encounter people daily.

 

Instead, I want to remember that God extends grace and mercy to me every day.  And everyone.  I mean everyone that I come in contact with deserves the same.

 

I doubt my memory improves much but in some cases, that’s not a bad thing.  Sometimes it’s good to FORGET.

 

Joy to You!
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Still I Will Say – A Monday Meditation

Mon_meditations_revdI am often keenly aware of the fact that this life is full of trials…sorrow…disappointments.  I listen to the prayer requests at church where people I care about tell of aging parents, friends and loved ones that have been diagnosed with cancer – or some other disease.  Folks share of relationship strains, difficulties in their jobs, financial difficulty, and how they feel distant from God.

As I read God’s Word, I am reminded that none of this is really new.  The Old Testament – as well as the New Testament – had it’s share of all of the above.  And more.  So I have to ask, why am I surprised when trials come? Why do I think that my family, or friends, should be immune to them?

Last night at church, our music minister lead us through a beautiful song that really sums all of this up.

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This song has special meaning.  It reminds me of friends who lost their precious baby when he was almost full term.  Her due date was very close and he went to be with his Heavenly Father.  Their strength, their testimony lived out during the days following his passing was simply amazing.  The mom, my sweet friend, reminded countless people that even though she had lost her child, she was blessed.  I stood in amazement of her.  I still do.  To this day, I get tears in my eyes when I hear this song.  Hearing it humbles me.  It reminds me that in ALL, I am to be thankful.  In ALL, I am to praise Him.

I have no idea what you may be facing but I do know that He is with us “in the desert place”…He is with us “in the land that is plentiful”…He is with us when “the sun’s shining down” and “on the road marked with suffering.”

And so….Still I will say, “Blessed be the name of the Lord!”

Joy to You!

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Dwell ~ A 5 Minute Friday Post

There are a group of ladies that get together across the internet world and write about a word for 5 minutes each Friday.  Today, I decided to join the community.  So, for the next 5 minutes I’m contemplating what it means to DWELL.

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When I think of dwelling, my mind automatically goes to the word abide.  I think of Psalm 23:6 that says “…I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever”.  That’s comforting.  So to me, it means to stay.  To hang out.  To be at home.

Isn’t that a wonderful thought?  Dwelling with the God of the universe forever.

I am doing a 6 week study on the names of God.  The first name covered was Jehovah-Jireh which means “The Lord who Provides”.  I’ve been reminded all week that He provides all things for us.  Most of all, He provides an eternal dwelling place.  It’s almost more than I can comprehend yet I know that it’s the most precious gift I have ever received.

My dwelling place on earth may be made of brick and mortar but praise the Lord, that I have an eternal dwelling place.

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If you are interested in seeing what others have to say about the word DWELL, hop on over to katemotaung.com.  There are lots of great reads.  

Joy to You!

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In The Light

I am NOT a morning person.  Never have been and I seriously doubt that I ever will be.  I’m so convinced of this that my morning mantra is that if God wanted me to see the sunrise; He would certainly let it come up later.  {smile}

That being said, I also love my son very much.  He is growing up into a godly young man, taking on responsibilities like learning to drive and getting a job.  This is where me NOT being a morning person comes in.  My grown-up boy is now a lifeguard at our local YMCA.  When he accepted the job, one of the things we knew up front was that one, or two, mornings a week he would work the 5 to 9 AM shift.  Yes, I said 5 AM.  For those of you who don’t get up that early, the sun is definitely not up at that time.

Anyway, he has to be at the Y by 4:50.  And I am his primary transportation to work right now.

My car was in the shop last week so at 4:45 AM we hopped in my husband’s truck to head to the Y.  We drove there and after bidding my boy goodbye, I headed back home.  As I was driving, I took note that there really isn’t anyone out at this time of the morning.  And then, I saw blue lights behind me.  The speed limit right through town is 25 mph and I knew for a fact that I was not speeding.  I couldn’t imagine why I was being pulled over.

I stopped and greeted the officer as he came to the window.  Turns out I knew him as he often visits our church.  I asked him if there was a problem and he asked me if I realized that I was driving with no headlights.  I was literally dumbfounded.  He was, of course, right.  My headlights were not on.

I explained that I don’t often drive my husband’s truck and that the lights are automatic in my car so I never thought to check them.  He gave me a verbal warning and told me to have a nice day.  Grace given in the wee hours of the morning.  So thankful for that!!

I turned on my headlights and drove home.  As I crawled back in bed to sleep for another hour or so, I kept asking myself how I could’ve driven with no headlights.  Then I realized – the short distance between our house and the Y is lined with bright streetlights.  Even in our neighborhood, there isn’t a place on the route that there is real darkness.  I was brought to tears thinking of the protection that the Lord had afforded us that morning.  After all, it is dangerous to drive without headlights in the dark hours of the night/morning.

Then it hit me that I often live my life the very same way.  I roll along on the light devotions, a good sermon, verses posted on Facebook or Pinterest, or even just by opening the Bible and reading a Psalm a day.  I can get caught up in checking that off my list and not having any real illumination of truth.

This got me to thinking about how I read and study my Bible.  There are probably hundreds, maybe even thousands, of reading plans.  There are tons of tips on studying the Bible, ways to memorize Scripture, etc., etc.

The Bible says:

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. ~ Psalm 119:105

The unfolding of your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple. ~ Psalm 119:130

God’s Word is light.  It is our road map…our GPS.  We can bask in the “light” of those other things – the good sermon, the devotion book on our nightstand, the Psalm a day.  But to REALLY live in the light, we have to be in it.  We have to read and study.

There is nothing wrong with a good devotional or a Bible study course.  Just remember that they are written by someone and will have the opinion of the author.  The Scripture holds the ultimate opinion.  One we can’t go wrong with.

I’ve started writing down key verses that really speak to me as I am reading.  That’s how I learn, by writing things down.  If I am using a devotional, I write down key comments from the author of the devotion.   Because of the influence of my friend Candace I often pray the scripture that I am focusing on.  You can read more about that over at His Mercy Is New under “praying the scriptures” section on her site.

What I’m trying to say in my ramblings is be in His Word…in His Light.  Don’t roll down the road of life believing that you are where you need to be.  God wants to constantly, consistently be seeking after Him.

My prayer is that I am more and more intentional about studying His word.

Until next time…Joy to You!

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