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.

Rearview Mirror On Life

Rearview Mirror

Today’s Devotion: Deuteronomy 1

Have you ever stopped to think and took some dedicated time to contemplated your life? It can be a dangerous journey to let your mind venture down memory lane where you evaluate where you’ve been and where you are now. Image life as though looking through a rear-view mirror. You can see the road ahead, but just so far. At a glance you can see the pass behind you and that road stirs up all kinds of emotions.

Deuteronomy chapter 1 is like that to me, but from Moses perspective. He gives a recount of the good decisions and experiences and then he rehashes the bad decisions and consequences that resulted from them. It’s neat to read this chapter and have the whole context of the wilderness march through the books of Exodus and Leviticus to be able to fully appreciate what Moses is saying in regard to the actual account of the journey it took them to get there.

Our lives are like that. We have made good decisions and have had some great experiences. Then there are those times when hindsight is 20/20 and if we were to do it all over again, we would have done things differently. The future could be paved with excitement, adventure, anxiety, uncertainty, fear or pain. While the past made up of beautiful memories, daunting challenges, hard lessons, major milestones and even some unsettling regrets.

Life is full of experiences (good and bad) and sometimes, let’s admit it, we have diverted from the right path – maybe even veered into the ditch. Our God is a God of grace and mercy, love and compassion. All of the bad and good of our past is also God’s hand in developing us into who He created us to be. Isn’t it exciting when you think of it this way?

Our promise land is on the horizon and God will take the wilderness journey of our life and make it purposeful. I feel like I have really bonded with Moses over the past several months and chapters of the Old Testament and can relate to his reflection on where he as been and why staying the course assures of a beautiful future. I value that all that he endured and the people that God entrusted Him to lead has given us a perspective into our our journey. And the best verse of this chapter is  21, “See, the LORD your God has given you the land. Go up and take possession of it as the LORD, the God of your ancestors, told you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”

Get In YOUR Place

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Today’s Devotion: Numbers 2

Numbers 2:1 – 2 The LORD said to Moses and Aaron: “The Israelites are to camp around the tent of meeting some distance from it, each of them under their standard and holding the banners of their family.”

What is your standard and if you had a banner for your family, what would it say?

God has Moses gather all the families to surround the tabernacle in a specific order and each of them is allowed to represent themselves according to how they want to be represented. This is God’s army of people who He gathered. I’m so fascinated by the order and even more fascinated by God’s logic. God really has things all figured out.

It makes me realize that God has each of us in a specific place in the world, at a specific time and for a specific purpose. We need to be who were are. Have you given up on trying to be what everyone else wants you to be? I became a Christian about 10 years ago and I learned that my life wasn’t created to be molded into what the world wanted me to be, I was created for a specific purpose that God created me to be.

That was the day I stopped taking anti-depressants. I didn’t need them anymore. When I was working hard to fit in and be what I thought the world wanted me to be, I was burdened so heavily that it was actually doing me harm. Once I came to accept who I was, in Christ, and focus on doing what God created me to be and do, I was set free from that bondage of pain, suffering, depression, anxiety and stress.

Not sure how all of that came out of my reading of Numbers chapter 2, but I was prompted to write it. Perhaps to encourage you today? For whatever reason God laid that on my heart, I hope you can be encouraged that God is with us and it’s such a beautiful picture to know we are exactly where he wants us and it is our turn to create our standard and hold our banner that best represents who we are.