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!

IMG_3524
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’.

IMG_0062
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

Don’t Know What You’ve Got Until It’s Gone

If you are a child of the 80’s, you might be humming a rock ballad right now.  However, that is not where I am headed.  Many of us make the statement, “Don ‘t know what you’ve got until it’s gone,” when someone divorces, dies or looses a job, etc.

Today, this thought came to me in an entirely different light.  Gratitude has a way of changing how you view things that otherwise would depress you.  I have some of the most profound thoughts when I am driving or when I am in the shower.  That is proof that God has a sense of humor.  (There’s nowhere to write when driving or taking a shower.)

While in the car,  marveling in the beauty of fall leaves, gratitude filled my heart.   Sometimes, God closes doors.  We fight it.  We wrestle with God to keep us somewhere that we think we need or want to be.  All the while, God is shutting door after door; sending message after message.  We get so caught up in what we don’t have, that we forget to be excited about the exact same thing.  Today, I am thankful for what is gone.  Oh my! I am elated over the peace I have because things are gone.  What I had, was stress, dread and anxiety.  Constant nagging of not being good enough riddled my mind.  Dread of time passing, because a deadline was looming, guilt of over-zealous ambition and reminders of past failures have weighed me down for years.  Thank you Lord for shutting the doors.  So often, what is gone is the biggest blessing of them all.

As I reflected on my life today, I saw so many times where God shut doors.  Just in time, God spared me.  Jobs, relationships, life choices….I battled to keep doors open that God shut.  Time after time, I looked back and saw God’s provision through the slamming of doors.  Not only does he shut the door, but he heals us of the hurts of past decisions.  In today’s world, we can so easily be confused by the messages coming at us at the speed of light.  Messages that are sold to us as positivity, sometimes wrapped in a couple of scriptures, cripple our thoughts. The world wants you to be wrapped up in you and what you want.  The scripture teaches that we are to focus on what God wants.

Today, I heard comedian Steve Harvey talk about passion and gifts.  He reminded his audience that passion is not what we should chase, but work with the gifts that God has given us.  Way to go Mr. Harvey!  Thanks for that reminder.  God has gifted us with certain talents and means for us to use them for His glory.

“Self-love” is a common term thrown around in self-help books disguised as Christian. You may also be hearing messages of “you come first” and “your happiness is up to you.”  Stay at home moms are attacked for not jumping on the ambition and dreams bandwagon. Let me tell you, raising your children in a Godly home is the ultimate success. God comes first and  your happiness and joy come from the Lord.  That’s good news.  If it was all up to us, we would fall flat every time.

Today, I am thankful that God has cleared my head of the muddled up mess of lies that I was believing.  Just because scriptures are sprinkled like rose petals in a message, doesn’t mean that the message is from the Lord.  Be diligent to read and know His Word.  Pray for discernment so that you will not be sidetracked by the world’s messages.  “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Ephesians 6:12

Don’t know what you’ve got until it’s GONE.    The lies of the enemy wrapped in pretty paper are GONE!  No longer do I have to feel “less than” because I didn’t go all in on a materialistic goal set by man instead of God. Those distracting thoughts are now replaced with “a peace that passes all understanding.”

If you hear some doors creaking, maybe it’s time to watch in joy as God shuts them.

#proofthatgodcanuseanybody

Beth

Little Things

When I was a kid, my daddy had a firm rule that if you got up to go tinkle in the middle of the night, you better turn on a light.  He knew that a burgler wouldn’t turn on a light.  So, that was his litmus test for who to shoot if there was a bump in the night. That sounds a bit scary, but it was the 70’s and we lived in the south.  We had fear but it was of our parents and for the Lord.

Now, in this Jetson’s day in which we live, we all use our phone flashlights for our middle of the night potty visits to keep from waking the whole house. We are not abiding by Daddy’s rule these days. We use one small beam to keep from breaking a toe rounding the corner of the bed.

Last night, while at the 10th Avenue North/Mercy Me concert, I was reminded that if only one person shines one small beam of light it could be lost in the darkness of a large space.  However, if we all shine our lights together, they can quickly illuminate the darkest of spaces.  When asked to turn on our phone flashlights, maybe a third to half of the attendees participated.  Little things can produce large results.  This otherwise dark arena was shining with light.  Oh what would it have been if everyone participated!Mercy Me lights

The Lord has provided us with his Word to teach of his light. Matthew 5:14-16 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

“This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine…..let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.”

Those little lights illuminating the arena in the early part of the evening, served as a reminder to open up my heart more as the worship continued.  It’s so easy to loose your light in this ever darkening world.  It’s easy to give up.  But, God.  But, God uses seemingly small things to move our hearts.  Watching Christians lift Holy hands to Heaven in worship lifted my heavy heart. Mercy Me hands

The universal sign of surrender is to lift your hands in the air.  When we lift our hands in praise to the Father, we are surrending to Him all that hurts us, burdens us and the sins that bind us.   1 Timothy 2:8 “Therefore I want the men everywhere to pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or disputing.”

What a blessing to see him at work in all those around me.  Little things like phone flashlights and raised hands created a visual for what Heaven must look and sound like.

We are surrounded by little things that mean so much.  The sound of a child laughing, a grandmother humming while she cooks, the bubbling of soup on a cold day, these are the little things that God has given to keep our hearts and souls lifted when the days are dark.  “I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds” (Psalms 9:1).  “So I will bless You as long as I live; in Your name I will lift my hands.” (Psalms 63:4)

Shine your light.  Lift your hands.  Praise the Lord!

Beth

 

 

A Day in the Pig Pen

close up of hand feeding on tree trunk
Photo by Leah Kelley on Pexels.com

If cleanliness is next to Godliness, then, I was wallowing in the pig pen today.  Is my house dirty?  Yes, but that’s not the point here.  Can I be real and honest?  When God calls you to something, the enemy flips out.  Discouragement, doubt, fear, anxiousness, anger…..he sends it all.  I have a scarred past and a forked tongue!  The ugliness of my past reared its nasty head and yanked me square in the mud today.  Ugh.  The enemy works overtime and I hate to give him credit.  Me.  It’s my fault.  I got side-tracked before finishing my devotional time this morning.  Smack, he nailed me.  The Bible says to arm ourselves in the Word.  I didn’t have on the helmet of salvation and I have some spiritual mud in my hair!

You know that you have reached a level of awareness, though, when you hear yourself yelling, “Get thee behind me Satan in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.”  Better to be screaming at the enemy than just screaming.  Things are hard.  There, I said it.  I resigned my “position” with my company and decided to follow this call to teach and speak His Word to women.  My checkbook and my mind tell me that I need a job to support this ministry and our daily life.  My heart and faith tell me that God will provide my portion in his due time.  Things are hard.  Yep, I said it again.  It is easy to teach (with words) that God is faithful and provides for the call.  It’s a whole different story to teach that with actions; and, today I fell in the mud.  I lost my spirit, my control, and my mind.

Tomorrow will be better.  Why?  Because, it has to be.  Because, God is bigger than my obstacles.  Because, I will arm myself in the Word before doing ANYTHING else.  Because, He says to live by faith and not by sight.  Because God is equipping the call.  “Because, because, because, because, because of the wonderful things he does.”  Sing it.  That quote will make sense then.  Yes, I know that was from the Wizard of Oz.  However, I was singing it about Jesus.

That’s all for now.  Thanks for letting me spill my heart all over your shoes.

#proofthatgodcanuseanybody

Beth

Proof that God Can Use Anybody

I have walked the valley of the shadow of death and even set up a tent there.  For four years, the ups and downs of life have been more downs than ups.  Searching and praying, I have sought the Lord’s will for my life.  Through a new Bible study that I have been teaching, God answered my four year prayer.  I left my job of nine years to start a new ladies’ ministry.  Welcome to Grace Time Ministries.  

My husband Brad is an ordained minister and we serve as the music ministry at Old Austin Baptist church.  I am a mom to my grown daughter, Shelby and her husband Shane.  My grands, Audrey and Benjamin, call me Zsa Zsa (like Zsa Zsa Gabor, just not so many husbands).  I am a story-teller, a people person, a relationship builder, and have a flair for saying what my friends call “Beth-isms.”  I truly believe that studying God’s Word is how we hear from Him.  I want to share what He has been teaching me and encourage you to listen to Him.  Mercy, we talkers have to work hard to learn to listen.  Shhh.  He likes to whisper.

I accepted Jesus as my Savior when I was eleven years old and was blessed to be brought up in church.  I have sinned, made messes in my life, and thank God for His sweet forgiveness.  My husband was not a preacher when we married.  However, a few years of living with me ran him straight to Jesus to surrender!  I have a sharp tongue and quick wit, neither of which serves me well.  Hence, the “proof that God can use anybody” hashtag was born.  Pray for Brad.  Living with me is no small task.

Coffee is a must and new coffee cups make me happy (and Brad sad).  I start my mornings with Jesus and coffee.  You will find my daily devotions recorded and shared on my Facebook group and Facebook page @gracetimeministries.  Please join there as I work to build this site.  Speaking to ladies’ groups is where I strongly feel led.  Pray with me that God leads this crazy, southern, Bible toter to the groups that need some laughter through the tears.  Drop a comment, send an email, and follow me on Facebook and Insta.  You will be a part of sharing God’s Word, and I thank you.

Have a great day in the Lord,

Beth