A Mom’s Advice To Her Graduate

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Congratulations! I want to take this opportunity to tell you how proud of you I am. Today is a day you will remember for the rest of your life and today is the day that your life will drastically change. Mostly for the good, but the path ahead isn’t going to be as clear as graduating to the next grade and living within rules preset for you. With each passing year from here on out, you get to choose… it’s kind of scary, but it’s fun. At least I hope you see it as fun; an adventure that you get to create through your decisions, goals and dreams. What is beautiful about today, for me, is that I know you are ready. You have grown and matured, become your own unique person and you are equipped with everything you need to prosper in this life.

After today you are empowered to make decisions that will ultimately determine the kind of life you want to lead, who you want to become and what you want to be. Of course I have some Motherly wisdom that I can only hope you will find valuable as you “take on the world.”

1st and foremost, make God the leader of your life. The sooner you do, and the more frequently you remind yourself that you did, you will minimize regrets, find your life’s purpose faster and eliminate the senseless floundering; being tossed and turned by the distractions of the world and all the confusing messages it gives you. I didn’t find Jesus Christ until I was 32 years old. Your bible is your guide through this life; God’s instruction manual. Oh, if only I would have taken that advice when I graduated from High School, I wasted so many years trying to figure it out. I know you gave your life to Christ, but as you venture out on your own, you need to make your faith your own too. You need to consciously and sacrificially make him a priority. If there is anything I pray for you most is that you take this one nugget of my wisdom and do this one thing – devote yourself to growing in your grace and knowledge everyday.

2 – Chose your friends wisely. I can’t say I always did this either. I like to have fun and have always gravitated towards people who were “fun.” What I found is that those relationships are fickle, empty and temporary. Being the social butterfly that I am, I have made connections with a broad and diverse network of “friends” and what I have learned is that my born-again, God-fearing, fully-committed Christ followers are the most loyal, honest, genuine women and I can trust them with my life. They speak truth that sometimes hurts, they hold me accountable to what God’s Word says and they don’t compromise. They epitomize tough love. They help me be the best version of me and help me grow. They accept my faults and shortcomings and most of all, they are forgiving, loving, and a living example of grace; they role model how to be better in every area of my life. I pray you find them and grow with them through every season of your life. I know you have a great start and you have been wise in this area, but I simply want to encourage you to be diligent to seek Godly girlfriends and treasure them. On the topic of friendship, should you choose a life-mate (a.k.a. husband) I beg you to not yoke yourself to an unbeliever. The man is the spiritual head of the home and you will always desire leadership from him. God has a design for marriage and it is too long and significant of a commitment to live outside of His will in this particular area of your life.

3 – Protect your name. Proverbs 22:1 says “A sterling reputation is better than striking it rich; a gracious spirit is better than money in the bank.” Your name is your identity and your actions show the world what your name means. Decisions you make have a cause and effect; a bad choice can tarnish your reputation and it takes ten times the effort to rebuild or restore – if it is even possible. The phrase, “It’s a small world” is so true and for some reason bridges burned and a bad reputation make the world awkwardly smaller. You also never know when people you have offended or the actions that cause a division will come back to bite you. Take the higher road, whenever and however you can.

4 – Forgive others, don’t carry grudges and never seek revenge. Never walk out on a job and don’t use condemning, hurtful or malicious language that cannot be retracted; no matter how mad or justified you feel you are. Regretfully, I’m sure I have demonstrated this for you in my own faults and flaws. I will never profess the be the perfect Mom, Lord knows I wish I could take back many things that I have said and done over the years. To that end, if there are any harsh words that linger in your memory and I have hurt you in the past, I pray you will forgive me. A weight will be lifted if you do and I want the opportunity to do whatever I can to apologize and take ownership for my actions – I want the opportunity to right my wrongs. We give the devil a foothold if we carry that kind of hurt and pain.

5 – Call me, talk to me and let me know you are thinking about me even if it is a heart emoji. (Selfishly daily, but weekly at a minimum please.) Whatever time you give me from this day forward I will cherish. I know your life will be busy and I am going to be the last person you think of when you are focused on your career, your life, your future, but I am your Mom and know I will be thinking about you everyday and praying for you fervently. If we could find one event a year (Mother-Daughter Retreat, Bible Camp, shopping day or some other crazy adventure), let’s make it a priority to start and keep a tradition so we can stay close and continue to build great memories. Our relationship requires time together and experiences to build upon so we can continue to grow together. If you have your own children someday you will understand; for now, if you could please grant this request, I promise you will be glad you did someday.

6 – Set aside Sunday as a day for church and the opportunity to step away from the busy-ness of life. Yes, God’s Word says it and God will bless you for honoring it, but one thing I have found is that keeping Sunday free of other commitments gives you a chance to renew and refresh. You’ll be a better friend, student, employee and person. I love to use Sunday’s to do things that build up (like bills, reading, meal planning, yard work, etc…) At different stages of your life the stuff that builds up will look different, but the one day to focus on it truly sets you up for success all week long.

7 – Lastly…. Volunteer! You have been blessed beyond your imagination in health, gifts, talents, material possessions and socioeconomic status. I know I committed you to things when you were younger, but my intentions were to help you develop an appreciation for all you have, a spirit of humility and a generous, caring heart. Now you are going to have to figure out where you want to make a difference in the lives of those less fortunate than you. Here is the truth about serving others – no matter how much time, energy and money that you sacrifice for betterment and help of others will always bless you far more than you can ever be a blessing to others. It’s one of the most ironic paradigms that exists in this world; what you pour into the lives of others will come back into your own life ten-fold. If you ever want to experience true fulfillment and the greatest sense of joy, make this one of your life’s goals. I promise it will change your life for the better.

My hope is that you don’t read this as a list of tasks to be accomplished or a lecture from a Mom who thinks she knows everything, but that you receive it from my heart. I tried to be as succinct as possible to share what I believe you need to be successful as much as it is possible to find and be successful in this world.

With all my love,

Mom

 

To The God Girls In My Life

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Sing it with me, “We are family, I got all my sisters with me.” I’ll spare you the rest because I have no intentions of making this about Sister Sledge or worse, getting this catchy lyric stuck in your head. However, I do wish to recognize that today was a day that I particularly appreciated having my sister’s in Christ alongside of me and for those of you reading this, I want to remind you of what a beautiful gift God has given to us in our godly girlfriends; read on…

The best part about a life surrendered to Christ is that God gives us this amazing peace and if we keep our eyes on Christ, it is truly amazing how it can seem as if our world is falling apart, but there is still the assurance that God is sovereign over it all.

I say “if we keep your eyes on Christ” because it is so easy to take our eyes off of Christ as the apostle Peter shows us in Matthew 14, Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” Are you getting this? The dude was walking on water, but when his eyes started to look around at his circumstances, he sank!

In truth, that was me this morning. I was having one of those heart-to-heart’s with God on my morning commute. I started out pretty well, but instead of telling God all the things that I am thankful for and focusing on all the blessings that are so overwhelmingly evident in my life, I adopted the “wandering in the desert like an complaining Israelite” attitude instead, and starting whining about “stuff.” By the time I got to my first meeting, my attitude changed from gratitude and joy, to discontentment and discouragement. Of course I walked into my meeting imposing all of my woe’s onto the first set of ears that could hear. “Oh wretched man that I am”, to quote the apostle Paul in Romans 7:24.

Fortunately, my meeting was a group of strong, God-loving women and they could tell I was metaphorically drowning and guest what they did? They prayed! Not only did they pray, but they prayed in a way that helped me get re-centered on truth and put my head back on straight. It is so beautiful to have that kind of acceptance, support, love, encouragement and concern without judgement and rejection.

Solid, Godly, Christian friends are like medicine to the soul. Thank you Sonia, Trish and Heidi for being there and putting my eyes back on God where they needed to be.

 

 

 

Perspective

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Over the past year my life has been taken a detour. I started the year with a great job, in a great company and thought I had a promising future. As I begin the new year I am filled with hope of finding a new job and am wrestling with that mid-life question, “What am I going to be when I grow up?”

I thought I had it figured out, but HA! God obviously has a better idea. He just hasn’t clued me in on what that is yet.

If you are a student of God’s Word you know about detours. One of my favorite characters and stories, is Joseph’s. The poor guy was sold to be a slave by his brothers, was falsely accused of raping Potiphar’s wife, was then thrown in prison, then forgotten (for two years) and when he was finally remembered, he was summoned because Pharaoh needed someone to interpret his dream and FINALLY he is  promoted and put in charge of Egypt. Talk about the most ironic turn of events and most unexpected outcome…  that’s not even the end of the story. Unbelievable!

There are many stories in the bible that prove that life is unpredictable and the best part is… they bring us hope in our circumstances. God also gives us confidence that He will make all things work for the good of those who love Him. (Romans 8:28)

But here’s the thing, detours take us down roads we otherwise would not travel. Especially in our fast-paced world when our google maps (career, relationships, fast-food etc…) take us on the fastest route from point A to point B; we miss out on so much.

A couple weeks ago, my daughter and I found ourselves on a literal detour. We had the opportunity to see things we never would have otherwise seen. We also learned that it may have taken us longer to get to our destination, but we got to enjoy more time in the car enjoying conversation.

I’m not sure where this journey will take me and I’m not sure how long it will take before I see God’s plan revealed, but I am so grateful to have been given this time. Time with my family and the dedicated time needed to train a new puppy in our home. With each passing week I am getting the opportunity to catch up with people that I miss and friends I have not been able to stay in touch with. Not to mention, the pleasure of having quality time in my bible and uninterrupted, focused prayer time. I get to sit and read books, schedule middle of the day work-outs and increase opportunities to volunteer in my community and church. I see blessings everywhere and every day. With that great job that I had a year ago, I was missing out. Missing out on some pretty neat things.

So if you are on a detour – be encouraged, not discouraged. God allows detours, He has a plan for it, He is in it  and He will most certainly be on the other side of it. It will not last forever and while your waiting, seek Him with all of your heart. It brings you peace that surpasses all understanding and is a gift to be embraced.

The Source of True Truth

Crossing out Lies and writing Truth on a blackboard.

Today’s Devotion: Deuteronomy 4

Of all of the chapters that we have read in the bible on our chapter a day through the bible journey, I wanted to cut this one out and paste it as my blog today. What a mighty chapter of lessons! From the importance of obedience, how to raise our children, forbidden idolatry, the love of God and proof that God himself exists. Huge, big, powerful message that Moses offers one last time to the Israelities before entering into the promise land.

Verse 2 caught my attention. “Do not add to what I command you and do not subtract from it, but keep the commands of the LORD your God that I give you.” This verse reminded me of a blog that calls out Joel Osteen and Joyce Meyer for their misuse and misrepresentation of God’s Word to deceive people through what is being called “The Prosperity Gospel.”

The blog is titled, “The False Promise of the Prosperity Gospel: Why I called Out Joel Osteen and Joyce Meyer.” This article made my heart jump. For years I have been uncomfortable with the teachings of Joel Osteen and Joyce Meyer, but remained private about it because we all have our own taste when it comes to biblical teachers. I commend Rick Henderson for his blog and John Piper for his video explanation of how prosperity preaching twists scripture in the most harmful way. I suspected that false teachers might be represented in the form of popular evangelists like Joel and Joyce, but I didn’t have anything to support this except a “gut feeling” until now. Rick’s blog, and many I found after further research, reveal those who are not heeding to the warning God gives us through Moses in verse 2.

This chapter affirms our need to hear directly from God – from His Word – not authors, speakers, and prosperity preachers. Sure, I love Dr. David Jeremiah, John Piper, Dr. John MacArthur, Dr. Vernon McGee, Billy Graham, Chuck Swindall, and Dr. Tony Evans and dozen’s more. They are all credible, trustworthy, God-fearing leaders who have been instrumental in helping me develop good disciplines in my faith journey. Even with that being said, I am confident they would agree that God’s Word is the truest source of information for us to feed our starving souls; not their ministries, sermons, podcasts or books.

As incredible as Deuteronomy 4 is in its entirety, God laid on my heart the need to be reminded that He is my one and only source of truth and that I should not add to it. There is a skewed interpretation of what prosperity is on this side of heaven and I need to guard my heart from believing the lies that some preachers preach. Despite the gloom that this perspective brings to some of the Joel and Joyce supporters, it is amazing what peace there is in the assurance of spending eternity with God and because of THAT assurance, which comes directly from the WORD of God, I am moved to keep His commands and because of that truth, we will prosper.