What is that Song?

piano keys

“I have a song in my heart.”  I have heard people say that, maybe even said it myself.  Today, the meaning became more clear.  As I stood on the back  porch watching the rain splatter on the patio furniture, I noticed there was a song playing in my head.  At first, I disregarded it.  Have you ever gotten a song in your head and you only know a few lines of it, so it’s like it’s on repeat?  I normally get frustrated and want to make my mind shut it off.

But, today, my heart is heavy.  My mind has been swirling with fear, anxiety, sadness, and loneliness.  I was thinking about all of these things while looking at the rain.  Then, I heard that song in my head again.  What is that song?  I could hear the tune, but I was struggling to hear the words.  “Remember the lilies” is that a song?  I grabbed my phone to search for it.  No, not “remember the lilies” but “Consider the Lilies.”  The only parts that I could recall were, “We have a Heavenly Father above…” and “Consider the lilies.”  Hmmm.  Why is that in my head?  It’s an old song that I haven’t heard in a long time.

Sometimes, I think I am slow on the uptake.  I have been praying about a lot of things that have me troubled, things out of my control, things that have kept me up at night.  “Lord, please give me peace.”  “Lord, please let me know that you are hearing me.”  Have you ever been there?  I believe God still speaks to us through His Word, His people, a whisper and even through a song in my heart.  “We have a Heavenly Father above….”  Hmmm the song is still on repeat.

So, I found the lyrics to the song.

Consider the lilies, they don’t toil nor spin
But there’s not a king with more splendor than them
Consider the sparrows, they don’t plant nor sow
But they’re fed by the Master
Who watches them grow

We have a heavenly Father above
With eyes full of mercy
And a heart full of love
He really cares when your head is bowed low
Consider the lilies and then you will know

May I introduce you
To this Friend of mine
Who hangs out the stars
And tells the sun when to shine
And kisses the flowers 
Each morning with dew
But He’s not too busy to care about you!

We have a heavenly Father above
With eyes full of mercy
And a heart full of love
He really cares when your head is bowed low
Consider the lilies and then you will know

God loves us.  God loves me.  God loves me.  Say that outloud.  God loves me.  He knows me.  He created me and part of His creating me was giving me a love of music.  Today, He spoke to me by putting an old song in my heart.  He only let me remember a few lines so that I would go and look it up.  God knew in His infinite wisdom that I needed a reminder that He loves me.  Me.  In spite of my flaws, in spite of my sin, He loves me and is with me even when I feel alone. As the song says, “He really cares when your head is bowed low.”  Mine has been bowed low a lot lately.

I have a strong tendency to reach for the phone to combat loneliness, depression, or anxiety.  Reaching for the Father is the only real solution to those feelings.  God sent His son here to experience all the feelings, trials, and troubles that we feel.  He knows.  The Bible says in Luke 9:58 And Jesus said to him, “The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.”  There is no person here on this earth that can give you the peace that passes all understanding.  The only real peace (another fabulous song that my sweet Sister in Christ Mary Heffner sings at our church) is in the Lord.

“These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33  It is so easy to get caught up in the world.  We put our faith in our jobs, in our spouses, our family, our friends.  Our faith has to be in Jesus.  Life and people will disappoint you.  There’s nothing like needing a friend and your “friend” only wants to be there for the happy times and not the sad times.  God wants to hear from us constantly, happy or sad.  He never tires of us calling on Him.  Yet, we still reach for some earthly thing to try and solve our problems.  In His graciousness this morning, He slipped a song in my heart.  I believe He does these things more often than we notice.  We are too busy to listen.  The busyness creates more stress and we creep further from Him.

Today, I am listening.  Today, I am singing “Consider the Lilies”.  Today, I am grateful that He spoke through an old song.  Today, I am thankful for the opportunity to have a friend that sticks closer than a brother.  Today, I will praise him in this storm.

If you want to listen to this old song, here’s the version that I loved this morning. https://youtu.be/GEHMS-rFLzs

Beth

#proofthatgodcanuseanybody

Enough

Painful truth here…I have never felt I was enough.  Pretty enough, thin enough, tall enough, smart enough….enough, enough, enough.  Ugh.  I am fairly confident that I am not alone in these painful feelings.  Where does this inadequate feeling originate?  I’ve been pondering this the last few days.  I can draw a line back to a certain person in my teen years that actually said these things to me.  “Beth, you would really look good if you lost weight.”  Now, I was a normal size girl, but I started working out to become thin enough.  “Beth, her hair is so pretty.  Maybe you should try to wear yours that way.”  I had thick hair and was attempting to mimic someone with thin hair.  Again, I was not enough. “You should…you should…you could be….”

And, it continued.  Relationships into my adult years have been muddled with “you’re not enough.”  How does that happen? (If you are a psychologist, you are so wanting me in your office right now.)  This feeling of not being enough wears me out.  It clouds my thoughts.  It sets off depression.  It makes me question my purpose in life.  I am not proud of these feelings and know there are folks reading that are saying “don’t claim that over your life.”  Please understand, whether I voice it or not, it’s there.  As a matter of fact, I think that keeping things hidden and buried deep in our hearts keeps us from working through them.  I’ve been around enough women to know that this is a burden for many.

In a previous job, it was taught that if you didn’t like something about yourself to go get it fixed and move on.  Well, there’s so much that I don’t like about myself that I could never afford to fix it all!  So, what do we do?  As women, we are expected to look good.  So, we color our hair, wear 40 lbs of makeup, invest in skin care, go to the gym, get a tan.  But, is it ever enough and at what price?  I am a firm believer that fat looks better tan.  If you don’t believe me, then let’s look at bacon.  It’s pretty gross before you fry it!  So, I lived in tanning beds starting in my teen years when the first boy told me I needed a tan.  I recently had basal cell carcinoma removed.  So, I stay out of the sun and tanning beds.  However, I feel sure that I still, more than ever, need a tan.  So, it will come from a bottle.

You know what Dolly Parton always says, “It takes a lot of money to look this cheap.”  Maybe she should say, “this fake.”  Most of us won’t go into town without getting all gussied up first.  Don’t get me wrong.  I believe we should make ourselves presentable, but mercy.  Being fake is a lot of work!

Now, I have been trying to remember a time in my life that I actually felt pretty or enough and I can’t recall one time.  Not one.  Even as a little girl, my brother was the smart one.  My sister was the pretty one.  Seriously.  Maybe that is why I was comfortable dating someone who didn’t think I was enough.  I don’t know.

So, today I re-read Proverbs 31.  We have all heard of the Proverbs 31 Woman.  There are ministries named after it.  No where in that description of a Godly women does it mention her appearance.  She doesn’t color her hair, worry about her skin, try to tan her fat.  Nope.  She is a good wife.  She works hard for her family.  She makes good business decisions.  But, most importantly, she fears the Lord.  Proverbs 31:30-31 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.  Give her the reward she has earned, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.

Can we start teaching our little girls Proverbs 31 at an early age?  How often do you hear someone tell a little girl, “you are so pretty.”?  But, do you ever hear anyone tell a little girl, “Your love for Jesus shows.”? Let’s think about our older women, the great grandparents.  Do you love being around older women because of their looks or because of their love?  Can we change our focus of beauty from being something created and fake to something of love and reverence for the Lord?

Psalm 139:14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.  God created us in His image.  Let us all try to remind ourselves of that on the days that we are feeling “old, fat and ugly”.  Instead, let’s replace that with “loved, protected and holy.”

Men, if you have made it this far with me, I don’t know what stuff y’all battle.  I am open to messages to enlighten me.  However, I want to encourage all of you to uplift the women in your lives. From the little girls to the great-great grandmothers, remind them that they are beautiful in the eyes of the Lord and also in your eyes.  Please, please hold your tongue before you offer a criticism concerning her appearance to a female, no matter her age.

Our society is running opposite of the Proverbs 31 woman.  The magazines and social media remind us daily of what is considered pretty and it’s never “enough.”  Most of the pictures of these beautiful women have been altered.  Imagine what that does to the minds of the women in the photos.  Satan is doing a little dance every time we get messed up about our physical appearance.  It’s another way that he thwarts our attention on God to attention to self.

Whether we feel beautiful or not enough, we are focusing on ourselves.  I am preaching to the choir in this blog.  It’s a daily battle.  I am in the throes of it right now.  I’ll be spending more time re-reading Proverbs 31 today.  I so hope that I am alone in these feelings of inadequacy and you have it all together.  But, if you are struggling with these feelings, I want us to pray for each other.  I welcome your comments.

#proofthatgodcanuseanybody

You Deserve It?

deserve

Spoiler alert…….this “you deserve it” concept is NOT based on scripture.  AT. ALL.  I believe as Christians we are called to seek God’s truth not the world’s feel-good concepts.  Some of you may already feel that I have stepped on your toes.  However, if you are truly seeking God’s will for your life, let’s seek Biblical Truth right here.

Let’s start with Job, you know the dude in the Bible that had all manner of bad things happen?  He was wealthy, had a great family and the enemy went to God and asked to shake his faith. Job 1:1 In the land of Uz there lived a man whose name was Job. This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil. 2 He had seven sons and three daughters, 3 and he owned seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen and five hundred donkeys, and had a large number of servants. He was the greatest man among all the people of the East.

So, Job was this awesome guy.  He feared God and shunned evil, but if you go on and read his story, he looses his children and all his wealth.  According to our worldly minds, he didn’t deserve it, right?  I mean he was a great man.  He did everything right.  So, he deserved to continue being showered with blessings.

What about Mary, the mother of Jesus?  Did she deserve having to watch her son be beaten, spit upon, and hung up to die.  She was God’s chosen women to raise Jesus.  She was pregnant as a teen and had to try and explain to her parents, her fiance and the community how it was that she was pregnant.  Did she deserve that ridicule and suffering?

What about Jesus?  Did he “deserve” being mocked and beaten?  Did he “deserve” the crown of thorns?  Did he “deserve” to be crucified?

Now, what about your family member that had cancer or some other horrible ailment?  Did they “deserve” it?

We are so quick to ramble and repeat these modern day “feel-good” “prosperity-gospel” quotes, but how does it match up with scripture. 2 Timothy 4:3 For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.

You see, if you are a Christian, what you “believe in” is Jesus.  The Bible tells us Romans 6:23 ” for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,”  We are sinners.  Jesus took what we “deserve” when He was on the cross.  Praise God that we don’t get what we deserve.  To “believe in what we deserve”, runs very closely with making ourselves into idols.  Society  teaches that we are to focus on ourselves, what we deserve, what we want.  Where in the Bible are we taught to be so self-focused?

When Jesus was in the desert, satan tried to tempt him by saying that satan would give Jesus everything that Jesus saw.  That’s how the enemy works.  He shows you all the worldly possessions and tempts you to want them.  But, remember what Jesus said to satan in the desert, Luke 4:8 “Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.’”

Think about the people in the Bible: Noah, Abraham, Joshua, David, Ruth, etc.  Their stories were not filled with this “believe in yourself” “you deserve it” mentality.  Their stories were facing adversity in order to do God’s business and it was often difficult and thankless.  Ruth was the least selfish chic.  She stayed with her mother-in-law after they lost their husbands and wealth.  Ruth could have done something else that was better for Ruth.  You know, something she deserved, but she put Naomi’s needs first.  That’s God’s heart.

The “I, Me, My”, “I deserve it” mentality is not in God’s instructions for us.  Does this frustrate you or step on your toes?  I have had friends tell me that I didn’t succeed because my “deserve level” wasn’t high enough.  I have even had friends suggest books written by psychologists to “prove” this to me.  And, maybe, just maybe, there is some truth to it.  There, I said it.  But, hold on for a minute.  If satan had the ability to give Jesus all the world during that desert moment, don’t think for a minute he doesn’t have the ability to give you things here on this earth.  The enemy is the one fueling this “I deserve” “self-first” mindset in the world because he knows that he has taken the focus off of God.  So, yes.  You might just have higher success if you follow the enemy’s strategy to focus on what you think you deserve.  He can give you a taste of worldly success, but at what price?  How many others will you take with you, following the enemy’s lies?

Now, don’t get me wrong.  Success is great and God provides for us, but we don’t “deserve” it.  None of us is good enough.  None.  The Bible is plain about it. Romans 3:10 There is no one righteous, not even one. If that steps on your ego, it’s time to step off of your high horse.  Please take that with the Christian love from which it came.

The very idea that we are hearing the “believe in what you deserve”, “what you will attract” and the “self-first/self-love” concepts mixed in with scripture makes me sick and upset.  We have gotten away from reading the Bible in it’s entirety.  Verses are being yanked out of context and mixed in with the devil’s lies.   I hate to be the one to say it, but the enemy knows scripture better than a lot of Christians.  He knows how to twist it, turn it and add something to it to lead you astray.

Get your nose in the Word.  Let’s quick cherry-picking verses and start reading for content and context.  Reading God’s Word (not a devotional, not a book about THE BOOK) and spending time really talking to and LISTENING to God is the only way back to His Will for your life.  Not your will, not your passion, not your want, but God’s will for which he gifted and planned you.  God has given us grace and mercy for which we do not deserve.  Let’s get our hearts and minds back on that.  God deserves it!

 

 

 

 

Pray Like It Depends On God….

pray

Confession….I am a Christian that hasn’t always been faithful to read my Bible daily.  I have been in church by whole life,  but I have been guilty of saying that I wished the Bible had the answers to today’s problems.  Anyone else willing to admit that?  I am not proud of my past,  but I am grateful that I didn’t stay there.

Spending daily time in His Word is the way that you truly learn His ways.  History repeats itself, and history started in the Bible days.  Today, as I was reading 1 Samuel 13, God used this story of Saul to remind me that He does, indeed, provide answers to modern day situations.

Have you ever heard the phrase, “Pray like it depends on God, and work like it depends on you.”?  In a previous job of mine, I heard this repeatedly.  It sounded Godly enough.  However, a sweet saint of God at Christview Ministries pointed out to me that it was not a truly scriptural concept.  (Side note:  Isn’t it scary that if we hear a phrase or thought enough times and it mentions God, we can start to believe it?)  If we pray and ask God for something and then we force it to happen by pushing, making a way, finding a way, and maybe even side-stepping his law, then was it of God?  We pray saying, “Please God, I have this big goal/dream/need and I need you to intervene.”  Then, we try to “work like it depends on you” instead of Him. Is that really believing in faith that God can make a way? UGH!

Instead, we are to go to God FIRST and seek HIS WILL.  Then, we pray that He gives us what we need to do His perfect will.  In any other order, you will either fail or be plain miserable.  “But, seek you first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you.”  (emphasis mine) Matthew 6:33   We aren’t to throw our wishes up to God like He is a genie in a bottle.  When we focus on working like “it depends on you”, pride sets in.  We start focusing on what we did instead of God.

If you are truly praying for God’s Will, the work load may be heavy; but you will have His strength to do it.  Now, don’t misunderstand me.  We are to work and not be lazy.  But, we work for the glory of the Lord and not for the glory of self.  Don’t leave this post thinking that I am saying that goals aren’t good.  Just know that we are to truly seek God first and let Him determine your goals.  Seek Him first before dating.  Seek Him first when attending college and choosing a major.  Seek Him first before applying for a job.  I know the world has a different opinion and the enemy is blasting us with “do what makes you happy.  That “do what makes you happy” business will create pride and selfishness.  When you are out of God’s will and plan, you won’t find happiness.

In 1 Samuel 13, King Saul was headed into battle without seeking God first.  Then, he became impatient, decided to take matters in his own hands and did the work of the priest, disregarding God’s law.  Pride.  “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” Proverbs 16:18  When Samuel called Saul out, Saul started placing blame.  More pride.  Saul decided to seek God after the fact.  That’s a true example of “work like it depends on you.”

Dear Lord, please forgive me of all the times I have put my selfish goals before your perfect will.

You can find my full audio lesson on 1 Samuel 13 here.

Are you grateful for the history lessons that God gave us in His Word?  The more we read and study, the more we will become like him.  We get into the Word and God gets into us.  I would love to hear from you.  Leave a comment below.

#proofthatgodcanuseanybody

Beth

Work through and IN

Can I get a show of hands? Have you ever clearly heard the Lord direct you some place that you didn’t want to be?

If I had 10 hands I’d raise all of them.

Ok, put your hands down. Next question- did you obey?

Now I’d probably only be able to raise 7 of those 10 imaginary hands.

Put your hands down.

If you didn’t obey, did God make you do what He was directing you to anyway?

I’m raising hands again. Not happily. But raising them.

Last question, in that (or those) circumstance(s), did God work through you or in you or both?

You might need to think about that question for a bit. And that’s ok.

I’m in a situation right now that God clearly told me to put myself into. Like writing on the wall kind of clarity. (Daniel 5:25) Initially, I thought it was because God wanted to use me in this new place to reach others. So, I obeyed, showed up, and started doing exactly what I thought He wanted me to do.

But this week I noticed I was becoming discouraged and stagnant. In fact, I felt like I maybe I was just obeying for just my kids’ benefit, not for anyone else’s, including my own.

Then yesterday I let my kids have a movie-morning, and my son wanted to watch the VeggieTales Jonah movie.

No problemo! Let’s learn about God while we’re having a chill day.

Have you ever watched it? I love how they wrap it up. “Jonah was a prophet, but he never really got it.”

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve read Jonah or listened to a sermon about him, and every time I think, “How could he NOT get it. He was swallowed by a fish and spit out for crying out loud. Wouldn’t that have shook him up???”

Not really. He still did what God wanted him to do by going to Ninevah and delivering God’s message. (Jonah 3:3-4) But, in no way was his heart softened. (Jonah 4) He was still selfish and mostly concerned with just doing what God told him to do.

It got me thinking, our desire and prayer shouldn’t only be that God will work though us in our obedience, but that God will also work IN us.

Not to bring the brimstone out, but even the demons know who Jesus is. (James 2:19) Even they obey when commanded in His name. (Acts 16:18)

Showing up and doing what God wants us to is what’s right to do. But we miss out on so much when we don’t allow Him to work inside of us at the same time.

What is God calling you to do that you’re just showing up to? Are you asking Him (or allowing Him) to work in your life through that obedience? Through the experience in which you find yourself?

If the answer is NO, I encourage you to ask Him to work IN you, not just through you. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be like Jonah, a person who just obeys with no heart change, a person who people remember as “not really getting it.” That isn’t the impact I want my life to have. What about you?

Until next time,

❤ Lindsay

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The Bush is on Fire

Mistakes…I just keep making them.  When God called me to start this ministry, I knew with certainty that He called me to step down from my previous position.  In my heart, I felt God wanted me to focus on reading and studying his Word.  However, seeds of doubt regarding our finances were being planted by the enemy.  Worry and fear crept in and I even said, “I need a real people job to pay the bills while this ministry grows.”  The more I looked, the more stressed I became.  I had several Godly folks tell me to wait and see what God was going to do.

I applied for a job that I really didn’t think I would enjoy.  The on-boarding process was excruciating.  Everything felt wrong and my stress level was so high, but it was a “good job” with “good benefits”.  So, I kept pushing and striving to get it.  (Psalm 46:10 Be still and know that I a God.  In the New American Standard this verse is translated “Quit striving”).  I finally got the offer and official start date.  I wasn’t excited to start the first day, but prayed and went on.  Tears and more tears flowed when I got home that night.  I knew I had gotten ahead of God, but now what?  Do you stay and tough it out or quit.  Each day was painful.  I was praying and wondering.  My husband said to quit.  But, who wants to be a quitter, right?

We live in this new society that tells us to push, strive, keep going, succeed, make a way, find a way.  Judgement looms at every corner from all the “successful” people pushing the “if you have a positive attitude, it will all be perfect.”  I’ve got news for you today.  I am “positive” that if you are not in God’s will, you will be miserable.  Now, I am not saying we are not to have a positive attitude.  “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” Proverbs 23:7  However, positivity will not keep God from shutting the door.  We are to be joyful and joy-filled when he shuts it!

My pastor reminded us in a sermon a couple of weeks ago that the scripture says, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.” (Matthew 25:21)  It does NOT say “my good and successful servant.”  In God’s eyes “faithful” is true success.  That right there should make you shout!

So, back to the story…Sunday evening at church, one of God’s saints prayed with me.  I had told her that I didn’t want to make another mistake by quitting if that wasn’t God’s will.  She prayed and pleaded on my behalf for God to make His perfect will clear to me and to give me a “burning bush” moment.  Knowing me the way she does, she knew it would have to be big and clear like the burning bush story in order for me to get it.  True friendship.

Let me just tell you, when you pray and ask God for a burning bush moment, you better grab a fire extinguisher.  My day was so difficult that I started feeling dizzy.  My head started to hurt and I took a glance in the mirror to see that my face was beet red.  Now, I am a full face make-up gal.  So, for the redness to shine through that much makeup meant one thing.  High blood pressure.  It was dangerously high as was my resting heart rate.  Fight or flight is a thing!

I don’t work there now.  God answered the prayers of my Saintly friend and that burning bush all but singed my eyebrows off!

The boss called and offered me the opportunity to come back and transition into another position.  Again, my worldly desire for money tempted me.  After the conversation, my blood pressure went back up.  Another Godly sister reminded me of the story of Lot’s wife turning  into a pillar of salt when she turned back to what God had called her from.  Thank God for Godly sisters in our lives.  God speaks to us through his still small voice, through the Bible and through people.

How many red flags do you see in this story where God was trying to get me to pay attention?  It’s easier to see when it’s someone else’s story or when we are looking back. He was with me all the way but I wasn’t getting it.  Have you ever been there?

Learning and growing our relationship with God is what He wants first for us.  Now, I am not saying that we shouldn’t have jobs.  But, impatience often leads to making decisions without God’s will.  I am thankful that I know now.  I will mess up again, but am diligently seeking His direction.

I believe that God provides.  He has never let us go without before and I believe He will continue to provide our portion.  Again, the world’s view of success is so different from God’s.  If I have less material things and less money, but am in His will and have peace; then, I am rich.

Be encouraged today that you do NOT have to live by the incessant “strive to be wealthy” garbage being fed to you through social media memes.  God is looking at your faithfulness.  Are you reading your Bible?  Do you spend time praying?  Are you telling others about Jesus?

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”  Matthew 6:19-21

 

#proofthatgodcanuseanybody

If you have had a burning bush moment, drop it in the comments.  I want to hear from you.

Beth

 

Traditions, Healing and Hurting

We like to keep it a secret, but Christmas can be hard.  Social media posts of beautiful decorations and perfect family pictures mixed with the oozing-with-love Hallmark movies can overwhelm you at this time of the year.  If you have suffered a loss of a loved one, a broken relationship, or difficult financial situations this year, you may not be the first in line to scream, “Ho, ho, ho.”  This Christmas will be my first one without my daddy.  As each day draws closer to Christmas, the small details tug on my heart and my tear ducts.

When I was a little girl, my daddy started the 12 days of Christmas with us kids.  He didn’t grow up with much at Christmas or anytime of the year, for that matter.  So, he worked hard to provide a good Christmas for us.  Now, I do believe the 12 days of Christmas gifts were to help my mom get us out of bed, to the breakfast table and to keep us out of her hair.  Each morning, there would be a simple dime store (dollar store in today’s world) toy in our plate. I still remember the excitement of jumping out of bed to see what toy I would get.  As I got into high school, there would be a gift in a stocking for me to get before school.  My high school friends enjoyed and looked forward to seeing each days little gift too.  Daddy continued this until I was grown and pregnant with my daughter, Shelby.  That year, the gifts switched to baby gifts for her.  He, then, continued this tradition for Shelby until she got married.

This year in his memory, I decided to start this tradition with my sweet little grands.  As I have shopped for these small items, I purchased some of the same gifts that Daddy gave…nail polish, dime store games, and M&M’s.

 

Oh, these inexpensive gifts flooded me with warm, happy memories and then a flood of tears flowed.  Along with Daddy’s gift traditions, came his wrapping of gifts.  Bless his heart, his intentions were great but his wrapping was not.  Isn’t it funny how the thing that used to drive you crazy, is now one of the things you miss the most?  This is how one of my husband’s Christmas gifts came wrapped from Daddy a couple of years ago.

 

These packages have been the source of laughter for years.  There was nothing as fun as watching Daddy come into the house and explain how his wrapping took a turn for the worse.

So, when I started wrapping the grandbabies’ 12 days gifts, I decided to do it how it did it.  No box.  No tags or bows.  Just wrapping paper and their names written with a sharpie.  Each gift was numbered and gift #1 was always M&M’s.  As I wrapped for Audrey, the flavored chapsticks that Daddy always got for Shelby and for me, I wiped tears.  Daddy would be so proud that we are remembering him with this tradition.

package 12 days

So this year, as we celebrate the birth of the Savior; we remember those that have gone on to be with the Savior.  Continuing the traditions keeps their memories alive.  So many memories have swirled through my mind, some that hurt to the bone and some that brought healing.  I am grateful for growing up in a home where we were taught about Jesus and all that Christmas means.  My biggest prayer is that I carry the traditions and the message of Christ’s birth on with my kids, grandchildren and future great grandchildren.

“They say” that it gets easier with time and the firsts are the hardest.  We will see.  From my heart to yours, today we take comfort in knowing that God is the father to the fatherless.

Merry Christmas.  Hug your loved ones and make those memories.

Beth

Fudge for the Generations

Food, family, fellowship….awe the Holiday Traditions tend to center around food.  I won’t share my age, but by first Christmas away from home was at the ripe old age of 18.  That year my mom sent me a prized Christmas gift that I still cherish and use today.  It was a photo album full of pictures of me from birth to 18 and hand written recipes that were my favorites that mom made.  On that first Christmas away from home, my cooking skills included popcorn, homemade fudge, cornflake candy and hamburger helper.  I needed this book!

cookbook intro

Memories and traditions are held inside these pages.  The old school magnetic album started to loose its hold on the pictures.  So, I found a scrapbook to keep the memories alive.  Mom also used some old drawings of mine and the Christmas card sent to my parents from the doctor that delivered me.  This cookbook is out and on my kitchen counter for daily reference.

One of the first things I learned to make was fudge; not the marshmallow or easy fudge, but the old-fashioned kind like my grandmother made.  The smell alone takes me back to childhood and the memories of being with my grandma McCain.  In my teen years, I asked Granny to teach me how to make fudge.  She was ill and couldn’t be in the kitchen with me.  From the living room, she told me to get out the “big stir” (pronounced steer).  For those of you not from the south, that means big pot.  Her measurements are where I got lost.  She told me to scoop out 3 handfuls of sugar and add enough cocoa to turn the sugar to a pretty brown color.  Blah!  Ok, so this turned into a pan of goo, but not fudge.  So, I turned to my mom.  She measured it all out for me and that is the recipe that we will work from today.  Before I start cooking at Christmas, I need a few things:  Christmas decor, Christmas music, my hair up and out-of-the-way and a cute apron.

beth apron

Ok.  I am ready.  Are you?  Grab your tunes, apron and these items…

fudge ingredients

  • 1/2 cup of cocoa
  • 3 cups of sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups of whole milk (I mix evaporated milk and water)
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 1 tsp of vanilla

In your pot, combine the sugar and cocoa with a whisk to get the lumps out of the cocoa.  Then, add the milk and whisk.

fudge 1

Turn on the heat to high until the mixture comes to a full rolling boil.

fudge boil

Reduce the heat to a very small simmer.  Depending on your stove, this may cook for quite some time 30-45 minutes.  But, we don’t measure fudge in time.  This type of fudge is done when you can form a soft ball in water.  The consistency will change as it cooks.  It will have a glossy look as it gets close to being done.

To test it, put cold water in a small cup.  Pour a spoonful of the mixture into the water.  If it just spatters around the bottom of the cup and you can not move it together into a ball, it’s not quite ready.

So, wait a few minutes and repeat that step.  It’s ready when you can move the chocolate around in the water and form a soft ball.  When you can form the ball, remove the pan from the heat.  Add the butter and the vanilla flavoring and let it sit while it cools.  Give it a few minutes to cool before stirring.  Stir with a wooden spoon until the butter and flavoring are well blended.  Pour into a greased 8×8 pan.  DO NOT REFRIGERATE!!  Let it cool at room temperature.  Can you smell it?  Now, the best part is scraping the fudge off the sides of the pan and having a taste.  Yum!  I hope this one brings you and your family the joy that it brings our family.  It wouldn’t be Christmas at our house without a few batches of this being made from Thanksgiving until Christmas.  Family traditions are so important in this fast paced world.  Being in the kitchen with your family, the smells of chocolate simmering, licking the spoon…these are the memories that are handed down through the generations.

 

 

Not this year, Satan

When I was growing up, Thanksgiving was not my family’s best holiday. The week was usually pretty stressful, and the enemy sure knew how to use that to his advantage. (In case you didn’t know, the enemy hates families. Especially families who love and serve the Lord.)

In time, I think my parents learned that one of the best ways for our family to manage the stress of that week was to get out of town. So, we started traveling for many of our Thanksgivings when I was in my early teens. Something about not being in our house diffused some of the stress. When I got to “working age,” I volunteered to work on Thanksgiving if it was a year when we weren’t traveling. (I worked at a gym, and they’d open for a couple hours in the morning.) I guess I’d caught onto the “get out of the house” strategy.

When I got married I carried some of that dread surrounding Thanksgiving with me, even though my first several Thanksgivings were spent with my in-laws and some of my anxiety surrounding the day manifested itself in ways I’ve wished it hadn’t.

So, a year or so ago, I finally got the bright idea to start praying as soon as November started… Pray over Thanksgiving, pray over my spirit, pray over my attitude, pray over my mouth, pray over my husband, pray over my family, etc.

By this time I’d shared a little bit with close friends about how much I used to really dislike Thanksgiving, and to my surprise, it was not an isolated-to-Lindsay feeling. Lots of  my friends (who are like-minded in many ways) also dread the day.

I started asking the question, “Why?” I listened to their answers, blogged about it, and hurt a lot of people’s feelings in the process.

I missed the mark.

I hit the target but not dead-center; I was way on the outer most circle.

The truth is Thanksgiving is complicated- I think I could write a blog series on everything I’ve learned about why this is such a hard week for people.

Fast forward to present day. This morning I realized I was irritable for no reason. “Why?” Why did I feel this way? I had no reason to be stressed or irritated. Then it donned on me… Thanksgiving is coming.

For me Thanksgiving symbolizes a humongous cacophony of feelings- complicated feelings and hopes and desires all mixed in with the reality of somehow needing to simultaneously survive AND enjoy the season WHILE maintaining the every day requirements of my life (wife, work from home mom of 2 kids, Bible study, etc).

I desperately did not want to fall into the old pattern of my stress manifesting itself in ways I would either regret or that would simply ruin the holiday for others around me.

So I prayed.

There are a lot of practical strategies for getting through the holidays successfully, whether it be financial strategies (stay within budget, don’t go into debt), emotional strategies (like my family opting to get out of town most Thanksgivings), or logistical strategies (getting all the presents purchased, parties attended to, and turkeys roasted). But, I’m finally realizing that my only hope this season that covers every single facet of it is fully and wholly in Jesus.

The older you get, the faster these holidays just blow right by us. I want every opportunity to enjoy these special times of year (which is my primary argument for decorating and listening to Christmas music as early as I do). But, I just can’t do it on my own. Because when I rely on my own strategies, they won’t overcome all the complications this time of year brings. However, when I ask Jesus to get involved, when I opt to do things His way instead of simply relying on my own good-sense, I have a much better chance at not giving the enemy a foot-hold.

He hates families. He hates gratitude. He hates giving. He hates people gathering around the table and giving thanks to God before they break bread. No duh, he hates Christmas. But, I think he hates Thanksgiving too. So, he uses everything he can to wreak havoc on the day, so he can wreak havoc on families.

Will you join me this year in telling him, “Not this year, Satan”? Because Thanksgiving may not be about Jesus, but we’re going to prepare like it does. We’re going to pray, and we’re going to keep our eyes and hearts fixed on the One for whom we are most thankful, our Savior, Jesus Christ.

Until next time,

❤ Lindsay

Introducing… Lindsay

Hey y’all, Lindsay here. I’m honored and excited to be joining the GTM team as a blog contributor!

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Most current pic of me with my hair and make up done!

The Lord has been speaking through my fingertips, as I like to say, for over a decade now. I found my passion for explaining truths about Him while I was just a teenager in high school serving in my church’s children’s ministry. Since then He’s used these fingers to share many messages about His character and providence through letters printed and mailed to hundreds of people, drama scripts performed for both children and adults, and blog posts on my own personal blog(s) and other ministries’.

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We manage to get a picture of all four of us about every 6 months. Anybody else in this boat?

I’m married, work from home, and have two young children. My full testimony would take an entire memoire to cover, so I’ll have to share it with you in bits and pieces. But the anthem of my life is God is always faithful to make good out of the hard stuff.

One of the things that first struck me about Beth, and confirmed that hers was a wagon I would be willing to hitch mine to, was her dedication to take everything back to Scripture. That is exactly how my parents’ raised me, yet this is opposite to our learn-everything-through-social-media culture where context is irrelevant as long as it looks pretty and sounds catchy and 100k people re-post it.

When Beth shared with me that God was calling her into this ministry whose focus would be to teach women the Bible, she was speaking my language. And little did she know at that time, God had been priming my heart to join such a force in this very forum where you and I are currently meeting.

Until next time,

❤ Lindsay