Great Expectations 2

More hope, less fear.  More love, less condemnation.  More power, less helplessness.  More joy, less worry.

I pray these things over my kids.  I expect that because they know the way to walk with Christ that they will have hope, love, and joy.  And I pray that when they get handed a flier announcing the “Coming Judgment and Wrath of God” that they will be confident of their salvation.  But WILL they know that they have hope against all odds?  WILL they know that their trust is not in riches, power, or politics?  WILL they embrace each day with joy, peace, patience, kindness, and love?

Recently, my college student received a tract from the boisterous evangelist on the Syracuse University campus.  He was visibly disturbed.  As he waited for us in the doughnut shop, he read the packet. When we came in, he said, “This is pretty awful. There’s a lot of bad stuff that happens.”

So true, so true.

If we live apart from Christ, there is a lot of bad stuff that happens.  We face eternal death in the lake of fire designed for the devil and his angels, and we face separation from God.  To fear death is good motivation to trust in the one true God.  But is this enough?

As we discussed the packet and the in-your-face evangelism that the local preacher demonstrated on the side walk in Syracuse, I was reminded of a verse.

1 Corinthians 15:55-57 says, “Where, O death, is your victory?  Where, O death, is your sting?  The sting of death is the law.  But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”  Death is real!  It is inevitable!  BUT WE NO LONGER FEAR DEATH! Because of Jesus’ death on the cross, we have victory over sin.  So we do not fear death.  We have the opportunity to live righteously on the earth knowing that our hope is in Christ.

So I continue to pray. I expect my kids to be turned to the Lord and embrace their walk with Him.  I pray that the Holy Spirit will guide them.  And I expect many, many discussions in the future about the scriptures and how it impacts them.  The love of Christ is manifest in many forms and verses.  I pray that ALL my kids would know the fullness of Christ and fellowship with Him, whether they are in college, school, home, or the community.  I have great expectations for them in Christ.

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Great Expectations

The snow fell as we made our way to the Carrier Dome.  The air was crisp, and we hiked the hills with gusto with crowds of young, old, and in between, all dressed in orange.

The entry was simple.  Ticket ringer, security scan, and searching for a seat.  Higher, higher, and higher in the dome.  The seats were on the VERY TOP.  It made my 10 year old a little dizzy, but we savored the moment.  Just the three of us cheering, shouting, and savoring.  Soon, the rest of the family showed up.  The air in the dome electrified as students shouted during the basketball game.  Balloons flying, whistles blowing and fun cheering, “Let’s Go Orange!”  The Orange stayed ahead the whole game.  They pulled out a win, and the fans stormed the court. Next stop, the Mighty Oaks basketball game just down the street.

In the small school gym, we saw a great game between the ESF Mighty Oaks and the Vaughn college team.  The Mighty Oaks maintained a two to ten point lead the whole game…except the last 2 minutes.  Vaughn caught up, scored to get ahead, and forced ESF to foul at the end.  Final score: Vaughn 79, ESF 69.  Another loss.  However, next week our struggling student gets reinstated to the team.   According to him, if he had played… they would have won.  When he makes changes to his work and finishes a great essay, then he’s back on the court.  When his professor changes his grade, then he’ll be able to play again.  He’s learning his lessons and how to work hard.  He has great expectations.

We visited our college student today and saw him in his element.  He’s on the basketball team, he’s got a girlfriend, and he’s a “big” man on campus.  Our adopted son is growing up.  He’s seen the hard work needed to do well in classes, and the consequences of losing focus (probation with the basketball team), but he’s got great expectations.  There’s much more to come from this young star…

 

Building Your Home

Right up there with coffee, chocolate, and new baby smell is the scent of freshly cut wood as my favorite. I just love walking into new construction or a project, seeing what isn’t yet complete, but imagining the finished work.

Proverbs 14:1 says,

Every wise woman builds her house, but the foolish one tears it down with her own hands.

My house, my home and family, is my domain, my place of influence from where all else flows. Even though I desire to be wise in the building, many times I find myself tearing it down brick by painful brick.

How do I, desiring to be that woman of wisdom, build my house?

I build when I take time to spend with the Lord in worship and prayer. I read His word and study it for living a life out of a security that rests in His unfailing love for me. This is my FOUNDATION for all else.

I build when I set boundaries and make margin in my life, taking the time I need with my husband and family. I use this margin to rest and focus on the most important things in my life. These are my WALLS that protect me from burning out and turning into a stressed out nightmare for my family. This keeps a peaceful tone in my home.

I build when I make the effort in relationships with other women, allowing myself to be real and vulnerable. These are the WINDOWS that allow others to see me and keeps me from feeling isolated and alone in my motherhood journey.

I build when I receive counsel, letting people into our lives, letting go of misconceived ideals of perfection. I build when I get rid of negative influences that harm my family. These are the DOORS to my life, doors that open my family up to good things and doors that close, protecting us when necessary.

I build when I cry out to God in prayer, praising Him, and entering into thanksgiving for all I have. This is my ROOF, my covering, my atmosphere changer. It keeps me from complaining, comparing, and despairing. It opens up my life to the power of God and an atmosphere of joy and gratefulness in my home and family.

I build when I invest my time in things that matter, when I am present with my family. I am truly listening and seeing the heart needs of my husband and children, loving them the way I want because I have built my house on the correct foundation. I build when I teach them to be present in things that really matter as well, taking the atmosphere in our home to the world outside us. This is the INSIDE of my house, the features and beautiful touches I build into our lives for my family, treasuring them and my calling as a wife and mother for all that it is.

A Charge to Christians After This Election

As I scrolled through social media today, I saw people grieving, gloating, blaming, praising, all based on their take on this presidential election. Some were saying, “if you voted for (or against) ______, that makes you a ______.”  I kept telling myself to take the day and log off, but I found myself getting on over and over.

What I saw made me feel shocked, offended, and at times, in agreement with certain statuses. I felt shocked when I saw some people who I really thought would have voted one way say they voted the other. I was offended and struck with emotion when I saw anger, gloating, name calling, and other strong opinions expressed that I don’t agree with. Then some expressed themselves in a way that was seasoned with love, even for those who didn’t get their way last night.

Then I came across the best status: this verse.

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Today I have held my tongue and not responded when I didn’t agree with what I read. However, these verses encourage us to go a step further. We have to make room for people’s opinions when we see fault in them and forgive those who are offensive when they express their thoughts. The beginning of these verses remind us to be patient, gentle, kind, tenderhearted, and show mercy and humility. People have many emotions after last night’s results. Many are airing out their laundry on Facebook for all to see. Let’s give them room to say what they want to say, even if they say it in ugly, unloving ways. Much mercy has been given to us, and we are to extend that to those who express opinions that are different than ours.

So today and over the next few months, will you join me and stop to check your own heart when you read something you don’t agree with? Then offer a prayer of blessing for that person. Ask God to give you a heart of love for them. Only then will we show the world we are truly Christ followers who’s hearts are set toward the kingdom of heaven.

Power in the Gathering

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Claire was a guest writer at Raising Generations Today this week:

Every mama was so different and each one had a story, one that had shaped them into who they are as a mother. The room was filled with all types and ages, from glowing mamas expecting new babies all the way through grandmas walking that road of grace-filled perspective. It was a get-to-know you night before we started our discussions of the book, Triggers. What an amazing experience to see the thread weaving through each of us, the common factors tying our hearts together. I could see almost immediately the power that was in the gathering. It was the ultimate example of Ecclesiastes 4:9-12… Read more here…

Another Healthy Recipe

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Here’s to feeling good and something tasting great!  This recipe from Women’s Day Magazine and nourishsnacks.com is supposed to help get rid of achy joints and give you energy.  Try it!

Lemon-Ginger Cooler

Place a lemon-Ginger tea bag in 1 cup hot water and steep for 5 minutes.  Remove the tea bag and allow the beverage to cool in the fridge. Once cool, stir in 1/4 cup 100% grapefruit juice, 1 tbsp chopped mint and some ice cubes.

Pretty Pumpkin

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Here it is!  Fall is in the air already!  The season for pumpkin lattes, pumpkin pie creamer, leaf decorations, sweaters, homecoming, and then…Thanksgiving.  The excitement is already brewing for that beautiful holiday that leads into our Christmas celebrations.  Time flies!  It’s enough to make us either stressed, hungry, or embracing all the memories.  One of my favorite memories is being called “Pretty Pumpkin” by my Dad. Whenever we would drive by Pumpkin Lane, he would chant “Pumpkin Lane” and give my leg or arm or whatever was within reach a tickle.  Pumpkins take on special meaning now as I think back to how special that made me feel.  My Dad made me feel special by complimenting me.  He made me feel “pretty” by calling me a pet name.  What things make you feel special?  It may have nothing to do with pumpkin!  What memories do you have that remind you that you are special to your Heavenly Father? Not everyone has an earthly father to give them compliments and provide for all their needs.  But we have our precious Heavenly Father who calls us “chosen” (Colossians 3:12), “beloved” (Deuteronomy 33:12), “treasured possession” (Deuteronomy 7:6), and the “apple of his eye” (Psalm 17:18.)  Let’s ponder some special memories and toast our pumpkin dishes to our Father who meets all our needs and calls us His own.

Now try this yummy, healthy pumpkin smoothie recipe!  Thank you Women’s Day magazine!

Pumpkin Smoothie

Blend 1 banana, 1/2 cup nonfat Greek yogurt (vanilla or plain), 1/2 cups milk (regular, almond or soy), 1/2 cups pumpkin purée, 1 and 1/2 tsp maple syrup, 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon and 3-5 ice cubes until smooth and frothy.  Makes two servings.

Hanging On to His Coattails with All You’ve Got

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A prophetic friend recently wrote the following on Facebook: “I keep seeing a vision of someone trying to get a kite up in the air, and then WHOMP, it nosedives into the ground! I hear the Lord saying, ‘You’ve struggled with believing that you could do the things that My word says you can do. Your old thinking tells you that it’s impossible, and even though you try to go higher, you crash back down into a lack of success. But I say to you, who do you believe: your doubting nature, or Me? I say to you, BELIEVE! JUST BELIEVE! Believe My word, believe My heart for you! As you believe, you’ll tap into a spiritual power of faith that is deposited in your spirit that will cause you to SOAR HIGH without the THUD of crashing! Stop expecting to crash, and get ready to succeed! Stop sabotaging your future. Shift your expectation, and begin to BELIEVE that I am with you and will bring manifestation to the promises spoken over you! Get up into the atmosphere and SOAR HIGHER! I’ve created you to do it!!!!'”

This is a good word, it boosts my faith, and there’s a ton in it for me to really chew on. But I’m going to share my first reaction to it and what I heard the Lord say to me in response.

You see, over the course of the past 5 years, I have come to a place where I don’t trust God like I used to. A very dear friend of mine lost her son to brain cancer 5 years ago. We were praying full of faith for his complete healing, and when he died, everything within me expected him to rise from the dead during his funeral. But he didn’t. And then, just a few years later, another friend, in the same faith circle as the first, found out her daughter had the same kind of cancer. She died a year and a half ago. When my husband was out of work, I feared foreclosure on our house (which didn’t happen). In the past, I would have been so sure that God would miraculously take care of us before anything like foreclosure would happen. This time, it was a real struggle to believe in God’s goodness. I’ve seen how high my faith can soar, only to come crashing down hard enough that I wondered if it would ever be the same again.

So when I read this prophetic word, I thought, “But what if the nosedives have hurt so much that I don’t want to go high anymore? I have a trust issue with God, and I don’t know if I want my faith to be strong again if I’m going to take any more hard blows.” I told my husband, “I love this word, but nosedives hurt so much that it makes trusting His heart for me a little difficult.” He challenged me, “What’s the alternative? Not trying?” When I shared this with Claire, she said she’s told her boys, “no matter what happens in life, no matter how hard things get, hold on to Jesus and don’t ever let go.”

I told God, “A tiny bit of me wants to go back up, but I don’t know the first step.” Then He showed me a mind picture of a woman timidly holding on to Jesus’ coattails, the very end of his clothes, like the woman with the issue of  blood did. He showed me that the reason I’m still holding on is because I remember His faithfulness in the past. I’m standing behind Him, holding on, because I cannot see the future. The future looks cloudy, and I imagine there is just more disappointment there and an unchanged me there. But I have just enough trust left to hold on, because what’s the alternative? Then He asked me, “Do you trust me enough to hold tight to my coattails? Do you have enough resolve to not let go?” The woman with the issue of blood sure did. I’m sure she wasn’t afraid, but if I can sneak up behind him and timidly hold on, I bet that little amount of faith could still let me witness some pretty powerful stuff! Jacob also chose not to let go. He wrestled with the Angel of the Lord and said, “I won’t let you go until you bless me.” He walked away with his hip out of socket, but he and a whole nation were forever blessed.

Sometimes (heck, many times) life hurts even enough to almost crush a person’s faith. I keep coming across people who have decided that even if God never answered another prayer or gave them another blessing, that what Jesus provided for us on the cross was more than enough for them to give their whole lives to serving and loving Him. I’m not sure I can say that myself. I’ve read too many stories about God doing amazing miracles in the Bible and countless times in the lives of people who have lived since Bible times. I believe that God is “the God who performs miracles,” and displays His “power among the peoples.” (Psalm 77:14) My heart longs to see people that I pray for healed, people delivered from addiction and oppression, lame people get up and walk, and dead people rise right before my eyes. That’s the kind of God I serve, and He still does miracles today. I’m sick of only hearing the stories from far away or long ago. I want to experience God’s power personally, over and over again.

I’ve been taught to take prophetic words and see if they line up with what the Bible teaches. If they do, it is a confirmation that the word came from God. In the word above it says, “As you believe, you’ll tap into a spiritual power of faith that is deposited in your spirit that will cause you to SOAR HIGH without the THUD of crashing!” 1 Corinthians 12 says that one of the spiritual gifts is a gift of faith. So the faith the Bible and this word are talking about is a spiritual kind given from God, not something I can produce myself. My job is to believe God and what He says even if my experiences and my “doubting nature” (see above) say something different.

After I was honest with God and He challenged me, I can say that He has assured me that if I believe and won’t let go, He’s going to grow my faith. The cloudy, disappointing picture of the future is slowly being replaced by a new glimmer of hope, hope that is growing like a glorious sunrise. If I don’t let go, I’m going to be blessed just like Jacob and the woman with the issue of blood.

Will you believe just enough with me that He can ignite your faith once again? Let’s hold on to him with a tight fist and soar once again. Whether we crash or not, He’s trustworthy!

 

You Are More

After telling my redemption story, I wanted to share this poem a friend of mine wrote, so you can see there is hope, freedom, and life on the other side of a failed marriage. If your marriage has ended in divorce know that you too can have a redemption story, because nothing is impossible with our God.

You Are More…

My Story of Abuse and Recovery

by Leanna Green

She listens to the things he says to her everyday.

A beautiful woman now turned to gray.

Lost in his image of her, but it started long before him. 

Her mother’s words engraved in her head,  

She’s been branded from birth with no self worth.

Her mother always acting like she’s the one who’s wrong,

Like she’s crazy and has nothing good in her, all she is is wrong.

So is this man right, or is her mother delusional and lost within her own fight?

 

 

She believes in a Savior.

Knows that Jesus is the only one that can save her.

Goes to church every Sunday.

But she feels so trapped, doesn’t know where to turn.

Can’t run away because he holds her mind captive.

Will this ever end?

 

 

Alone in this mess, because she is too afraid to let anyone in.

She hides it well; behind her smile she has a horrifying story to tell.

He spits in her face telling her she’s worthless.

His actions make her have to pay such a high cost.

She’s so scared and lost.

Just wants to do what’s right, but she’s walking through fog with no lights on

And has no directional in sight.

So confused. Help her Lord she can’t do this on her own.

 

 

He strikes her with his words; he strikes her with his fist.

Hits her, always sorry after it’s been done.

But he never means it, because it’s the same ending everyday.

So much damage has been done.

The next day it’s right back to the same old thing…

She just falls to the floor, because she’s so tired of being missed.

Missed by the people she prayed would see.

See the pain underneath her painted on smile within her misery.

She doesn’t know what to do anymore,

Just lost and broken, shattered on the floor.

 

 

He can’t stand his own reflection, so he deflects it on her,

Making her feel as if she is the one who’s wrong.

This has been going on for so long.

She prays to God every night for direction and some insight.

She married him, so isn’t she supposed to stay?

This isn’t that black and white.

Is it?

Isn’t there some other way?

She has a little girl who looks up to her now.

She doesn’t want her to grow up thinking that this is okay.

 

 

She finally gets the courage to walk away.

Sitting in her room holding her baby girl, sobbing,

Praying to God that He will be with her

And help her to continue to do what she needs to to be free

From this prison that she’s been in for so long.

Praying that God would remove his voice from her head and replace it with His.

Make him loosen his grip so her soul could be cleansed.

And find herself again.

Find her worth.

Become more than she’s ever been told.

 

 

Forgiveness she has now found.

Because in order to be free, she had to send all the hate away and just let it be.

Forgiving the man that hurt her and the mother who she could never please.

This was the only way.

She’s worth so much more than the lies she’s been told.

Her mind starts to become clear.

She finally doesn’t have to live in anymore fear.

 

 

A new voice in her head

Telling her not to listen to the awful things they have said.

Taking her hand and telling her how beautiful she is inside and out.

Her mind starts to become clear with so much less doubt.

God took her pain and used it for her good.

She put down what she thought was good and picked up what was best,

Knowing now that’s what she deserves.

Nothing but the best.

 

 

This man is unlike any other.

He saw her beauty inside and out.

Helped her erase all of the built up doubt.

With God and this man she started to understand.

They were wrong, and she was not to blame.

She is a beautiful woman that was unrightfully put to shame.

 

 

Understanding now her worth,

Nothing can stop her.

She is going to change this earth.

Her voice will resonate through the minds of

People who are still stuck where she was.

She will change their minds

And help them to no longer live in their own personal hells.

Showing them the God who saved her from hers.

Helping them see there is more than

Just living and accepting the lies they’ve been told.

With Jesus she is going to save so many souls.

 

 

I know this story all to well, because that woman I speak of is me.

And now I will help others to see.

There is a life beyond the pain.

There is a life beyond the lies you’ve been told.

Come walk with Jesus and free your soul.

 

stickers that won’t stick

“The stickers only stick if they matter to you.”imag0517315235

I sat down to read Max Lucado’s book You Are Special to my two youngest boys. In the story the townspeople go around giving each other these stickers, either plain ones or stars, depending on how pretty or talented they were or what they could do. We finished the book, and they ran off to conquer the newest foe in the battle. I sat there, reminded of how recently I had seen a comment on facebook that was directed at me. Immediately following that, I could feel the pull of that rejection tainting my other interactions with thoughts of that “sticker” that was put on me. Oh, how we hurt one another with stickers that we put on each other. Labels that stick and cause us to believe lies about ourselves, our children, or our marriages. Even labels we put on ourselves when we compare ourselves to other people.

John 8:31-32 says, “If you abide in My word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.”

The little guy in the story sees that the stickers don’t stick on his friend, and he wants what she has. So she sends him to his maker. And the truth of HIS words set him free from the stickers put on him.

“The stickers only stick if they matter to you.

The more you trust my love,

the less you care about their stickers.”

His love, His words, His truth- it’s what sets us free from the labels given to us, free from the lies we believe. 1 John 4:18 says, “There is no fear in love because perfect love casts out all fear.”

Fear of not being enough

Fear of not being able to change

Fear of not being accepted…

Because of HIS love we are enough; we are becoming more and more like Him; we are accepted exactly the way we are. And as we become more sure in His love, we find the stickers don’t stick as much. We don’t believe the lies. We are free from the labels as we trust in His love for us.