Father’s Day

On Father’s Day weekend 2017, our family decided to drive to Fort Bragg, California to spend some time with Chris’s father.  While we were there, we took our 12-year-old daughter, Peyton, to Pudding Creek Beach, a small and inviting beach not far from the family home.  The 70 degree weather was a cooling reprieve from the 107 degree scorching heat in Sacramento, just four hours away.

Chris and Peyton went off to walk the beach and look for shells, and I chose to stay back and just sit near the water’s edge, listening to the sound of the waves and watching the people surrounding me.  As the ocean waves rushed in and out every few seconds, I watched the foamy surf attacking a small child’s feet.  The bubbly waves would, on occasion, come in a little strong and the little girl would become nervous and unsteady in the wet sand and water.  From several yards away, her daddy saw her fear and walked over to the little girl, the older hand calmly resting on this younger girl’s arm.  As the wave would roll in, he would softly grip her upper arm, not in a hard squeeze, but with a gentle pressure to keep her steady.  This gave that sweet little girl the confidence to know she wasn’t alone and wouldn’t get swept out into the endless ocean while she enjoyed the salty water on her toes.

How sweet is it that our heavenly Father does the same thing for us?  As a wave of trial hits, He stands right beside us.  Yes, that wave may or may not be strong enough to knock us off of our feet, and it’s not likely strong enough to toss us around in those harsh and unyielding waves.  It may possibly, though, hold us back and prevent us from having the courage to stand still and weather the issue.  We step back from the unknown out of fear and uncertainty, not sure if we can handle it.  But God is there.  Know that you can have confidence in that whatever trial or hardship you may face, Jesus said He would never leave us.  He sees us.  He knows us.  He’s right there, His hand on our arm, applying that gentle pressure to keep us steady and secure.  We never have to weather the uncertainty alone.

Today, ask God to sow the following words into your heart:  Have I not commanded you?  Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9.

When Liars Become A Distraction

The enemy engages with us when we are least expecting it.  Often the enemy uses those around us to “get into” our head.  Occasionally, the circumstances seem genuine. Sometimes red flags are raised.  That’s how spiritual warfare works…sometimes subtly and other times overtly.

A “friend,” who I hadn’t heard from in years, contacted me via social media. This is a woman who I have had a challenging past with.  It’s also someone who thinks she has a vested interest in knowing about my life. Furthermore, it’s a gal who is very much into pagan paths of spiritualism.

Despite that past and her religious thinking, I wanted to believe the best of her intentions.   I chatted via emails over the course of a couple days.  Then she wrote something about one of her recent accomplishments, but it just didn’t make any sense to me.  I asked several questions, to which she had some interesting answers that also didn’t sound right.

God bless my Spidey-senses. God bless the Google-machine.  God bless a best friend who listened to my thoughts, helped investigate, and agreed with my assessment.  I reached the conclusion that her story was false. It was a farce. An untruth.

This seems like a fairly small and possibly benign daily encounter.  Except it interrupted my day. It took up space in my mind.  It made me question her motives.  And it frankly took time away from my family and my own endeavors.

Satan wants our minds to be cluttered with nonsense so that we lose focus on what is most important to us. I could have been reading with my son, exercising, cooking, or studying.  Instead, I was surfing the internet to investigate this woman’s claims.

A subtle form of spiritual warfare.

Exodus 23:1 (NIV) states, “Do not spread false reports. Do not help a guilty person by being a malicious witness.”

What can you do if there is a liar in your midst that is causing a distraction?

  1. Pray. There’s nothing better than prayer to calm a troubled heart or mind. Bring the situation to the Lord and allow Him to work on your behalf.  When we bring our angst to the Lord, He opens our eyes and our ears to truth.
  2. Create Distance. This may require a few days away from the individual. It may require a social media break. It may require a complete severing of the relationship. Distance allows us to evaluate a situation and it allows us time to spend with the Lord.
  3. Evaluate Yourself. Ensure that you reflect on your role in the situation or scenario. Have you encouraged or discouraged behavior?  Perhaps there is nothing you have done…perhaps there was.  God will help you with that self-reflection and the conclusions you come to.

I don’t need a false friend, nor do I want to condone untruths.  Yet, I didn’t want to assist the negativity by confronting her or escalating the situation.  I didn’t want to become a malicious witness.  I simply deleted the conversation.  I blocked the individual on social media.

This scenario is one small example of how we can discern if the interaction is glorifying to God.  Or if it’s one that the enemy is using to distract us.  I choose to be focused and undistracted.

I pray that God continues to allow the gift of discernment to work in my life. I pray it works in your life as well.

~Emily

Liars

 

 

Tremble

I am a music person.  Always have been.  From the time I was a little girl, I always loved to sing…at church, in the car, the grocery store, at home.  It didn’t matter.  Music was like air.  One of my fondest memories of childhood is singing to my mom’s records of Reba!

There’s something about finding the right song to match your mood or lyrics that are exactly what you wanted to say but couldn’t figure out how to say it.  I’ve spent hours searching for the perfect piece of music that would hold me captive to what was going on for that day.  Anyone else like that?

I was struggling recently with a decision I needed to make.  I couldn’t wrap my head around what to do.  I had been praying so fervently for God’s answer.  I pored over scripture, looking for the clarity that I wanted to have. I knew what God was saying, but I was struggling with His answer to me.

Full disclosure, I haven’t been to church in many weeks.  I’ve felt the absence in my heart.  But Sunday morning, I just knew I needed to be back.  I needed to find peace in His answer.  And because music is so wired into who I am, I knew I needed to worship through music.

I walked through the doors of the church and when worship began, it was as if the Holy Spirit poured right over me.  I begged God to remove distractions from the devil, show me that I didn’t need to fear the answer—to know that He gave me the answer in love, and I was to trust Him.  And then the band began to play Tremble…..”Jesus. Jesus.  You make the darkness tremble.  You silence fear.”  Just like that, this perfect peace settled over me.  It was almost unnerving.  In that moment, I felt so calm and I knew I was supposed to let go of the fear in the answer.  It was a true gift.  It was one of those moments you have in your life that you know you’ll never forget.  It was that powerful.

My words are for you who may be struggling with a decision.  Maybe you’re not sure what you’re hearing from God because the answer seems so different from what you thought it would be.  Perhaps you don’t know why your circumstances are what they are.  You’re afraid of the question.  And you’re even more afraid of the answer.  Lean in.  Speak His name over you.  He silences the fear.  His name is so powerful, it brings a peace that only He can give.  There’s no need to be afraid anymore.

Is there a worship song that has been spoken over you that has changed how you heard Jesus?  Share with us in the comments below.

~Erin

Jesus, Jesus

 

The Shell Seekers

The first full day at the beach started with the boys leaving at 4:30am to go fishing and me headed to the shore to watch the sunrise over the waves.  While walking, I spent my time chatting with God.  About a mile into my conversation, I came across three siblings who were gathering seashells into plastic buckets.

The youngest girl was grabbing any shell in a willy-nilly manner.  She had no concern whether the shells were whole or broken and jagged.  She simply wanted an abundant collection and it seemed her only discriminatory thought was if they were “pretty.”

The boy was only picking up shells that were deemed “perfect.”  He disregarded dozens before he would place one gently into his bucket.  Unlike his younger sister, he had very few shells in the bottom of his bucket.

The oldest of this group was only selecting shells that had a small hole near any of the edges.  She wanted the shells that had a “pre-drilled” hole from their time with relentless ocean waves.  She was planning to string these shells into a necklace but did not want to have to create the hole herself.

I continued walking, but these three shell seekers stayed on my mind.  It reminded me that during our Christian walk we fall into one of these three categories when we allow people to speak into our lives: The abundant collector of people, The seeker of perfect people, and The one who searches purpose in people. Shells

If we are the youngest girl, we allow anyone to speak advice into our lives.  These people could speak the truth, but there is a risk that they won’t.  They may not be saved and therefore will speak from the world rather than from scripture.  I’m not saying we can’t have broken-jagged people in our lives, but rather I think we need to be careful about how much influence they have over our lives.

If we are the middle boy, we search only for the seemingly perfect people to allow into our lives.  These people are a façade.  They frankly don’t exist.  Because there has only been one perfect person to walk the earth, we will be disappointed in the lack of people we can associate with.

If we are the older girl, we align with people who serve a purpose in our lives. We know they may not be perfect on the edges, but there is something in them that is useful for enhancing our walk with Christ. Perhaps they speak truth into our situations or they offer new study techniques or they may even encourage us in a manner we weren’t expecting.

This week think about those who you allow to influence your life.  Are you the youngest, middle or oldest child?

~Emily

“Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm.”        ~Proverbs 13:20 (NIV)

The Shell Seekers

Why Was I Scared?

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately.  When is the right time?  When is the right time to share Jesus with someone?

Sometimes, it feels hard to share my testimony.  There’s that moment before I contemplate if now’s the right time to share and the moment I share where I wonder what they’ll think of me.  Will they think I’m going to shove the bible and religion down their throats?  Maybe they’ll see me as a fanatic.  Or as someone who pretends to play the part of a Christian.  I wouldn’t say it’s ever stopped me from sharing, but there seems to be a brief second where I allow satan to try and convince me that it’s not the right time.

I felt this way recently.  I was nervous to talk to someone about who I am in Christ.  I found myself alluding to it, but never really being brave enough to come out and stand strong in my faith and what that means for my belief system.  I caught myself holding off saying “I’ll pray for that” out of fear that they would think I was weird.  And honestly, this devastates me even writing this now.  Why?  Why would I be scared?  Because they might think differently of me?

Friends, let not be afraid to shout our love for Jesus from the rooftops.  He has provided for us.  He has sustained us.  He came to earth as a man and became a living sacrifice so that we could escape that penalty.  The gift of salvation in that is free, and we should be sharing it joyfully!

Shake off the fear of what people may think!  The very Spirit-led happiness that is given to you by God may be what causes someone to ask you, “What is it that you have, and how can I get it?”

Today, I ask Jesus for forgiveness for being afraid.  I stand firm in my faith and salvation, what I believe, and how I should live.  I encourage you to stand firm, too!

Share a moment when you were joyfully shouting about God’s love for you in the comments below!

~Erin

Burn The Shirt

There is a huge burned hole in my shirt!

There is a huge burned hole-size piece of blue fabric adhered to my iron!

There I was.  Standing in the dining room in my cute pants, with my cute necklace and matching earrings, with my cute shoes…and a bra, while ironing my shirt. And then.  I literally burned a hole in my shirt with the iron.

That wasn’t even the worst of the morning, but rather the culmination of it.  You see, I had been woken up an hour before my alarm with an elbow to the jaw from the wild sleeper I happened to marry.  I got out of bed rubbing my jaw to promptly step in cat puke.  I dropped my toothbrush on the floor by the toilet (thank you Jesus that it wasn’t INTO the toilet). I spilled my coffee across the counter trying to avoid stepping on the Legos that my cats thought were new kitty toys.  Then I burned my shirt.

That’s a lot of stuff in one morning that could make for the foundation of a crummy day!  Our crummy days are full of circumstances…but they are full of choices too.

As I stood in my bra and pants in the dining room, holding a ruined iron and looking at a ruined shirt, I thought “this is my chance to realign my attitude towards today.”  I brought to mind Psalm 121, which I’m in the process of memorizing for a women’s small group that I’m currently co-leading.

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot slip—
he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord watches over you—
the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all harm—
he will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.

~ Psalm 121 (NIV)

My help comes from the Lord.  He alone will get me through those crummy mornings when I have a choice to acknowledge that circumstances sometimes are “blah,” but those “blah” moments don’t have to dictate the day.

He will not let my foot slip.  He will watch over me.  He will keep me from harm.

He alone will protect me from things that are truly detrimental to my soul.  His gift of salvation through the death of His Son, Jesus,  has already proven He protects me through all things.

The reality is that cat puke, toothbrushes & Legos on the floor, spilled coffee or even a burned hole in a shirt is truly a minor thing when it comes to the help the Lord provides to us.

I pray your crummy-shirt-burning mornings can be turned into thanksgiving to the Lord!

~Emily

Burn the shirt

 

 

Prepared for Action

There’s nothing quite like being completely unprepared for weather.  I’m a meticulous weather watcher when I’m planning a trip.  I look at the 15-day forecast no less than 23 times before I’m scheduled to depart.  Part of that comes from living in Wyoming for 26 years.  Unpredictable weather is a staple on those beautiful plains, so I like to make sure I know what I’m getting myself into.

Last week, I took a trip to Wyoming to spend a couple of days with my daughter and grandson and watch my daughter’s best friend walk across the stage for college graduation.  It was supposed to be a fairly normal spring week with some rain showers.  So imagine my surprise when on Monday afternoon, they announced a winter storm warning.  And not just any winter storm warning.  We were to be blessed with a very heavy, wet snow that would accumulate 5-8 inches.  Really Mother Nature?!

Despite my said meticulous weather watching combined with my many years of Wyoming weather experience, I failed to bring a coat, hat, gloves, a long-sleeved shirt…anything that would protect me from the elements.  That left me with a light sweater over my t-shirt, slogging through slush, wiping 5” of a snow-cocoon off my rental car with a giant plastic bag (since of course the rental car had no scraper).  I really should’ve been better prepared.

We should be prepared the same way when we face surprise trials every day.  Many times we think we know how our day is going to turn out.  We’ve planned our outings, scheduled our meetings, or prepared ourselves for the final we’re taking in English class.  We become so comfortable in what we see or think we know that we find ourselves blind-sided by the devil’s traps he has set for the day.

One way to be ready for those sudden attacks is to have scripture memorized.  By having those verses from the bible committed to memory, we can not only bring them to thought, we can say them out loud.  We can speak Truth over satan’s attempt to weaken us.  Speaking it out loud lets satan know we mean to be doing God’s business for the day, and that he has no place in that moment.  It allows us to stand firm in the Lord and remind ourselves that God’s word is a strengthener for us.

You may want to learn verses for different situations, or maybe it’s just one verse that you hold dear.   Learn it.  Write it down.  Memorize it.  Use it to block those sudden surprises.  Let’s be prepared!

Do you have a go-to verse you use when you’re struggling with a sudden attack?  Share in the comments below!

~Erin

Your word I have treasured in my