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The Playscape of Heaven

Allyson Joy1 comment

Over the past several months I’ve had the privilege of co-planning our church’s Ladies Retreat. Between the three of us mommas who are leading the committee, we have seven children which means planning meetings are interesting to say the least. Early on in the planning process we met at the church so the kids could run wild in the confines of the playscape (the indoor playground). At best, we had about five minutes to discuss topics before a little came strolling out to “help” with our meeting.

One event that brought about a lot of pulling, whining, and a few shed tears boiled down to a toy that everyone wanted. A slinky-not even a full size slinky but a mini one. My friends and I just smiled and looked at each other as we watched the kids try to figure it out, eventually intervening by removing said slinky from the situation.

I usually stand in disbelief each time these events happen. Granted, the kids are young and still learning the hard lesson of sharing. But more than that, the toy that is often fought over pales in comparison to what they could be playing with. In this case, they had an entire playscape just waiting to be explored.

The words of correction and exhortation had not left my lips before I realized the message was more for me than for the children. God has called us to something bigger and better than what we often settle for on this earth. He has given us freedom in Christ and we bind chains of the law. He tells us he will never leave us or forsake us yet we worry about money. We store up possessions on earth that will soon be destroyed and he offers lasting treasures. He has given us the playscape of heaven and we grovel over the slinky of this life.

It’s pretty simple. God offers us riches in Christ and ultimately heaven. Let’s stop pulling, whining, and shedding tears over things as insignificant as a slinky and just enjoy the playscape that God offers us through Christ.

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7 Things Every College Freshman Should Know

Allyson Joy

Every time I have the opportunity to talk with a soon to be college freshman my heart beats a little faster. Four of the most fun and challenging years happen in college. For me, this was a time of moving to a new state, meeting people from all over the world, traveling abroad, choosing a career path, and discovering who I was as a new adult. It certainly wasn’t always easy but it was definitely worth it.

Because college is a time for many firsts, mistakes will undoubtedly be made. But being aware of some of the “biggies” (as my dad would say) will help mitigate those times and at the very least, allow you to grow from each and every experience.

  1. Choose friends wisely. Before college I had always attended a small school. So it took me a full semester before realizing I could actually choose my friends. If you don’t connect with a group of people, move on until you do. This is not to say that you should avoid someone who is alone or refrain from associating with people who are different than you. This is to say that your friends are some of the most influential people in your life, so be choosy.
  2. Go to class. Does this really need to be stated? Having taught in a couple of universities I have seen that the most successful students are the ones who show up (obviously). Be in class. Ask questions. Complete all of your work. Get help early. There is really no excuse for failing a class. Most professors are happy to help, but they must know you need it. Emailing a professor after you have earned a D and asking for extra credit will never work. Be diligent in your studies. That is, after all, the primary reason you are in college.
  3. Count the cost. Freshman year brings a new sense of adventure and independence. Possibly for the first time you will have the freedom to make choices without mom and dad looking over your shoulder. But the reality is, you will live with every choice you make. Forever. There is no such thing as a decision without a consequence. Some choices obviously have bigger consequences than others, but choices come with consequences nonetheless. Count the cost and take responsibility for the outcome.
  4. Begin with the end in mind. This can apply to college as a whole-thinking of where you want to be at graduation and planning accordingly. Or this can apply to small choices along the way such as staying out with friends instead of studying for a test. As we discussed in #3, you are responsible for your actions. So think about possible outcomes and work backwards from there. This concept applies to school, friends, dating and everything else you will encounter in college.
  5. Have fun! College can be 4 of the most fun years of your life! You obviously need to be responsible and disciplined but those should position you to relax when it’s time to relax. Do some traveling. Go home with friends for the weekend and get to know their families. Study abroad. Stay out late. Sleep in late. Even try to enjoy those late nights studying because there is a good chance you will be doing this with friends. It’s very unlikely you will ever be positioned again to spend so much time with friends. So enjoy it!
  6. Live within your means. Simply put, if you have $0 in your bank account you have $0 to spend. Accumulating thousands of dollars of debt during college eventually must be paid back, plus interest. Apply for scholarships. Get a job. Live like you are in college because you are, after all, in college. If you are unsure how to handle money, checkout Dave Ramsey. You’ll be glad you did.
  7. Own your faith. Whether you grew up in the church or are just hearing about Jesus for the first time, college is a great time to discover what the Christian life is all about. You cannot rely on parents, friends, or professors to do this for you. Even if you attend a Christian university, there very well may be misinformation taught about God and the Bible. Dive into God’s Word and experience it for yourself. Your soul depends on it.

College is awesome-but only if you can live with yourself afterwards. Be wise in the small things and the big things will add up to one amazing experience.

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Noise

Allyson Joy

Today you will be encouraged by the words of a dear friend of mine, Laci Richardson. We originally connected over a fitness program but our friendship quickly grew deeper than just a business acquaintance. Laci is a giver, loves people, and serves in ways that most people will never realize. She has offered me much encouragement and support over the years. I know you will be blessed by getting just a glimpse into Laci’s wisdom and what God has put on her heart this week.

Enjoy!

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I have been thinking recently about all the noise in my life.  There is A LOT of it.  And, it’s not just audible noise, but visual noise as well – billboards, advertising, store windows, text messages, emails, etc.  The noise in my life is not getting any less, either.  The noise levels have increased exponentially over the years.  In a video I watched once, I learned that there is a man who records nature sounds for his profession.  In 1968 he said it took him 15 hours of recording time to get one hour without any outside noise (voices, car horns, etc).  Today, it takes him over 2,000 hours of recording time to get that same hour without noise!

A few years ago, I had the privilege of taking a three-day sabbatical.  I stayed in a secluded house all by myself, with no distractions – no TV, no phone, no music, no computer.  I spent those three days alone with God.  I had a lot of silence.  At first, it was difficult to decompress from the fast-paced life I had come from to a place of silence and calmness.  The longer I was there, the more I enjoyed the silence.  I realized just how much noise is actually in my life.  I thought about all the times that the TV is on in my house, not because anyone is watching it, but because we are just so used to the noise.

In 1 Kings 19:11-13, the Lord tells Elijah to go to the mountain because He is about to pass by.  First comes a powerful wind, but God was not in the wind.  Then comes an earthquake, but God was not in the earthquake.  Next comes a fire, but God was not in the fire.  Finally comes a gentle whisper (some versions say a still, small voice), and that is when Elijah hears God.

Do you ever feel like God is distant?  Do you sometimes have trouble hearing His voice?  Could it be that we are so used to all the noise, that we might be missing the most important voice of all?  I think there is a connection between the amount of noise in our lives and our inability to hear God.

Jesus Himself practiced the discipline of silence.  The Bible says in Luke 5:16 that “Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.”  What about you?  Have you spent the same amount of time worrying and discussing difficult things in your life as you have being silent and listening to God?  Maybe God is waiting for you in the silence.

Habakkuk 2:20 – “But the Lord is in His holy temple; let all the earth be silent before Him.”

Psalm 37:7 – “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him.”

Psalm 46:10 – “Be still, and know that I am God.”

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8 Reasons Why My Sister is Awesome

Allyson Joy1 comment

One of the best parts of growing up was having Kelli for my sister.

One of the best parts of being an adult is having Kelli for my sister.

The ability to truthfully write both statements is extraordinary in and of itself. There are people who had rough relationships with siblings growing up and as adults have reconciled those relationships. The opposite is true as well. But to have been close as children, adults, and every season in between-that is a blessing I do not take lightly.

Two years ago for Kelli’s birthday I wrote about my Sister. Since today is National Sisters Day and because she is a “words of affirmation” person, I think it’s time to write again. I say “words of affirmation” but they have to be the right words. She doesn’t do sentimental phrases like, “The best part of having a sister is that I always had a friend” or “God made us sisters, Love made us friends.” While these statements are true, it would mean more to Kelli to say something like, “Hey, you’re really cool.” In fact, don’t actually say that to her. Just write it down. Or send it in a meme.

Speaking of memes, something that makes Kelli really cool is her passion for ridiculous memes. Reason #1 for Kelli being one of the most awesome people I know: she is on Pinterest just to look at memes. Here is one of her favorites.

Classic.

Probably one of the reasons she needs memes is because she is a teacher. Of 9th graders. How in the world is she supposed to keep her sanity without memes? Reason #2 that Kelli is cool: She is in public education. Have you ever considered what it’s like to spend 9 months of every year trying to teach and control a hundred children who you cannot discipline or punish or make do anything? Or even give a reward for that matter. Long gone are the days of mommas bringing cupcakes to school. And (bonus!) society has tied the hands of educators to enforce any rules. Yet there she is. Loving. Connecting. And finding a newfound patience for toddler-like behavior in teenage bodies.

Now that I mention toddlers, we arrive at Reason #3 for Kelli’s awesomeness. I happen to have two toddlers which means that Kelli is “Auntie” to two nieces. When Annabelle was born, I watched this new side of Kelli emerge, and it has only grown since Sutton’s birth. There were these voices, expressions, sounds, and smiles that I had not previously witnessed. She crawls around on the floor with them. She does bath time and diaper changes. Kelli is all in. Except when Annabelle asks her to pray.

I’m not sure if I can count this as part of why Kelli is so cool. I guess I will because it’s part of who she is. Reason #4 for Kelli being fantastic: she won’t pray out loud in front of me. Definitely with her friends when they make her but not with me.

Let me explain.

When we were kids, if one of us was required to say the prayer, I would take the lead. I was the older and more vocal one so praying was usually my job (I even try to order for her at restaurants. Hey, it comes with a territory.) As we got older, it kind of became a joke and I continued to say it. So now when Annabelle says, “Auntie say the prayer,” we keep laughing harder the longer that AB keeps insisting. It’s just one of those things.

While Kelli refuses to pray out loud with me, she does have deep spiritual roots. Being close with a sister is a gift but being close with a sister who loves Jesus, that is priceless and truly changes eternity for both of us. Reason #5 that Kelli is awesome: she has a firm foundation. I started seeing this develop in high school and it has deepened ever since. Several years ago her faith called her to Italy where she taught English using the Bible. That experience cultivated a desire to live overseas long-term. After finishing graduate school, she had the option to move back but for a variety of reasons made the difficult choice to stay in Texas. All of this was rooted in her faith. She trusted God more than feelings. And she trusts Him enough to stay put until she is called somewhere else. I pray for her all the time, usually with a PS of, “Please change Kelli’s desires to align with mine so we will always live close.” I don’t think it works like that but I tell God my wants anyway.

Kelli’s roots are deep and so is her desire for coffee. Reason #6: Kelli loves coffee. I’m not sure when this started but was most likely refined in Italy. It was a common practice of the Italians to have a shot of espresso often, even before going to bed. An after midnight bedtime? Doesn’t matter. “Leave the gun-take the cannoli.” And take the espresso.

Why my sister is awesome, Reason #7. She is down to earth and genuine. What you see is what you get. She loves over-sized t-shirts and sweat pants. Flannels are a must. Some of her clothes are mistaken by Annabelle as my dad’s. She takes about 20 minutes to get ready. It doesn’t take long to put on makeup when your makeup doesn’t actually cover your face. The face you see is the face God gave her. She is beautiful. But don’t be discouraged if that beautiful face looks mad at times. It’s not. Annoyed, possibly, but most likely she is contemplating a meme. Or where she can get another cup of coffee.

We will end with one more reason that Kelli is awesome. I love so many things about my sister, but because 8 is her favorite number (She actually mentioned staying in high school an additional year just so she could graduate in 2008.), I will wrap up here. Reason #8: Kelli loves the lost. I have witnessed this with people who do not know Jesus and also with some of her friends who have just made poor choices. She hangs in there with those who are struggling. She is drawn to people with different views, backgrounds, and cultures. Kelli loves them not in spite of the differences; she loves them because of the differences.

All of these reasons can be summed up with this: I love Kelli for being. Just being, just existing. No strings attached. I am thankful for this soul that God gifted to me in the form of my sister. And, like me, I hope you are one who is blessed to call her “friend.” If not, find a good cup of coffee and offer to say the prayer. You will be friends for life. And you may even get a taste of what it is like to call her “sister.”

But the blood sister- that is an exclusive blessing I proudly claim as my own.

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Baskets & Burdens

Allyson Joy

A few weeks ago I had the rare opportunity for some alone time with my younger daughter. Sutton loves toddling around the house and exploring everything that eye level has to offer. I followed a few feet behind, captivated by an overwhelming love for this little one who can’t even speak.

As Sutton waddled into her room, she made her way to a basket filled with stuffed animals. She threw all of the toys on the ground, squatted down, and picked up the basket that is almost as big as she is. She then started the journey across the house to the play room, arms full and her mom in tow.

The basket proved to be quite a struggle. Carrying something so cumbersome is no easy feat for a little one. Sutton is strong for her size, but she wasn’t going to make it to her destination while carrying the object of choice. But for me to carry the basket would have been no problem at all.

That moment struck me with the realization that I, too, carry baskets that are too big for me to handle, and I’m usually left exhausted just from trying. Some of the fatigue is simply a life stage, but much of it results from carrying burdens I was never meant to carry. Problems come in all shapes and sizes, yet God never intended for us to carry them alone. He is always in tow waiting to carry the burden for us.

There are at least 2 times that Jesus offers us the invitation to lay down our burdens and find rest in him. Matthew 11:28-30 says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Again in Mark 6:31b, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”

Jesus’ life was one event after another of meeting people’s needs. He was constantly traveling and teaching, healing and investing. His mission did not afford much down time. So how did he re-energize? He pulled away. Alone. And gave all those baskets to his Father.

My guess is that an invitation to rest strikes a desire deep within your soul as well. While genuine, this desire is likely laced with doubt, an uncertainty that real rest can be a reality. But the reality is, if Jesus offered rest, then rest is what we will find. We just have to know where to look.

We always have a choice. Both of these invitations start with, “Come.” This is a simple offer but we must choose to accept. We often try to seek rest in physical ways, but real rest does not happen apart from a choice to be with Jesus. Go with Jesus, and go with him often.

Make some time to be alone. All. Alone. This may seem like an impossibility depending on your life stage. It does for me. However, if I honestly evaluate my day I do have small windows of opportunity to be alone. I just need to wisely choose how I spend that time.

Acknowledge whose yoke you are carrying. There are certainly burdens we do not choose like the untimely death of a loved one, illness, job loss, etc. But many of our burdens are voluntarily carried. Some of the most cumbersome problems are not our battles to fight. When we feel helpless and overwhelmed by a situation, we need to take inventory to see who handed us this basket in the first place. Whether it is from ourselves or the problems of others, if it’s heavy, it’s not from Jesus. His yoke is easy and burden is light.

Be quiet. In other words, shut-up and unplug. Quiet time most days can be a reality but not with phones, TVs, iPads, music, games, and moving mouths. These distractions come fully loaded with a silent setting and on/off switch. Let’s re-introduce ourselves to the power button and the capability to close our mouths so we can plug into the real source of power.

Enjoying rest can be our reality. We just have to accept the invitation, and stop trying to toddle across the house while carrying a basket.

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Christmas in July

Allyson Joy

I love celebrating Christmas in July. Holiday music and movies are the usual this month. But several years ago for my birthday my dear friend Carolyne surprised me with much more than the usual. She went all out, complete with a colorfully lit tree, a delicious Christmas dinner, and the movie Elf. Stuart and I even spent the night at her house for “Christmas Eve” to let the whole experience sink in. Christmas morning breakfast just happened to be at Disney’s Vero Beach Resort which was the follow up to coffee on the beach. Oh, and she had my family send letters that she read to me at the beach. She is awesome.

While that experience is pretty hard to top, I enjoy the music and movies anyway. Since my birthday just happens to be today, I feel doubly entitled to celebrate Christmas the entire month of July just because I want to. So you can have a piece of Christmas right now, too.

You’re welcome.

The birth story of Christ is most often told one month out of the year. Culturally and even in our churches, Jesus’ birth is mostly explored during the month of December. You may disagree with this observation but if a minister preached a sermon about Jesus and the manger on a Sunday in August you would think he was starting Christmas just a little too early (you know it’s true). We should probably change that tradition and share the wonder and awe year-round. But for starters, let’s take a journey back to Bethlehem for a bit of Christmas in July.

There are numerous aspects of this miraculous story that we could focus on. No room in the inn. A virgin birth. Wise men. Nativity seen. The cattle were apparently lowing. But one of the most significant pieces that brings hope for us today is found in the words of the angel, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.” (Luke 2:14)

Peace. To Men.

This peace was prophesied about in Isaiah 9:6, “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” And again in Micah 5:4-5a, “He will stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God. And they will live securely, for then his greatness will reach to the ends of the earth. And he will be their peace.”

Peace is what Jesus brought. It’s what his birth declared and his ministry confirmed. “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27) Don’t these words from scripture bring, well, peace?

I sometimes wonder what life was like before Christ. There were a few people, namely the Israelites, who had hope in being the chosen ones. Then Jesus came and suddenly everyone was included. Samaritans. Greeks. “Sinners.” Everyone can choose to believe in this hope that brings peace.

In a world of trouble, uncertainty, and many times fear, we are all looking for reassurance. We search for ways to reconcile what is happening, leaning on our own understanding, and longing for peace. And Jesus is exactly where we discover peace. It is exactly what his birth brought to the world, from that wonderful, mysterious night through all eternity.

The realities surrounding the birth story may or may not have actually resulted in a silent night. But I am confident of this. The minute that baby cried his first breath, the world changed. Forever. The trouble, uncertainty, and fear diminished when Jesus entered the world as a human. This birth brought forth the Prince of Peace who has been reigning ever since.

We are reminded of this during Christmas season but I needed this reminder today. The one who brings peace is with me year-round. I just have to remember to celebrate him, Jesus, the Prince of Peace.

Even in July.

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Things that Matter and Things that Don’t

Allyson Joy

My favorite television series of all time is Downton Abbey. Set in the early 20th century, Downton Abbey chronicles the lives and events connected to a great English estate and a slowly changing way of life. Everyone from the earl to the housemaid is impacted by this change, war, death, heartbreak and hope. The lifestyle of and distinction between the various classes is fascinating. The writers stayed true (mostly) to much of the history, giving us a glimpse of what life must have been like during those years. And while Downton Abbey is obviously a television drama, it makes me appreciate the growing pains that so many experienced to give us the freedom and equality we enjoy today.

World War 1 opens the beginning of season 2. Everyone from the elite to the ordinary were called to serve in one way or another. In one scene, while in the trenches of the battlefield, the heir to the Grantham estate (Matthew Crawley) is having tea with one the footman (Thomas Barrow). In the setting of war, there was no longer a chasm between the upper and lower classes. All were working. All were fighting. Matthew ends the scene by saying this, “War has a way of distinguishing between the things that matter and the things that don’t.”

Yep, I’m about to pull a spiritual application from Downton Abbey.

Most of us will never experience physical war. But as Christians, we ARE in a spiritual battle every day. We are constantly pulled towards this world, enticed to invest in things that are passing away. I am the first to admit a tendency towards losing patience about inconsequential matters, my focus distorted by distractions. But when we challenge ourselves to see everything in light of a spiritual war, then we begin to easily distinguish between the things that matter and the things that don’t.

A couple weeks ago we discussed this very topic so I won’t dive into it much more. For today, I simply want to remind us that we are in a spiritual battle. When you feel the pull of this world, weighed down by trials and temptations, remember that we are, in fact, waring for our souls and the souls of those we encounter. With this in mind, distinguishing between the things that matter and the things that don’t just got a little bit easier.

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What Children Teach Us About Desiring God

Allyson Joy

Early one morning I was awakened by a thud. Sleepily, I rolled out of bed, only to find our oldest asleep on the floor against the dresser. At some point during the night she came into our room and fell asleep. I carefully picked her up and carried her back to her bed.

For a couple of months Annabelle went through a phase of coming to our room during the night. Sometimes she would just sit outside the door. Other times she would ask for water. Still other times she would say nothing and I would carry her back to bed. As annoying as it is to be disturbed from sound sleep, these moments bring a smile to my face. More than anything else, our daughters want to be with us, even if it means laying on the hard floor.

This simple experience called to mind Psalm 84:10, “Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked.” In Psalm 27:4 David expressed a similar desire, “One thing I ask of the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord, and to seek him in his temple.”

To have one desire, only one ask of God and these writers chose to seek the Lord’s presence. What would it take for us to have that same desire? I long for many things but unfortunately the Lord’s presence does not always top the list. There were times that David neglected basic needs because he wanted to be with God more than satisfying those needs.

One of the amazing gifts of the Holy Spirit is that he lives inside of those who are Christ followers. So yes, we can commune with and hear from the Lord as we go about our day; this should certainly be our lifestyle. But these psalmists express something even deeper-a longing, a yearning to stop everything else and be in the presence of God.

We see evidence of the same desire in the life of Jesus. He would often spend hours praying, sometimes all night. Jesus knew that being with his Father would bring strength like no physical act can.

So I ask the question again: What would it take for us to have a similar desire? Obviously I cannot answer that for everyone. But I do know that in many cases we want what we consume. The more we eat cake, the more we want cake. The more we stay active, the more we want to stay active. The more we watch Netflix…oh, you know you do it, too. 🙂 The more we invest in people, the more we want to invest in people. And the more time we spend with God, the more time we want to spend with God.

Just like Annabelle desired to be in the presence of her parents, I want a desire to be in the presence of my heavenly Father. She didn’t overthink it and wait for the perfect moment; she wanted her dad and mom and went to them. Let’s not make it complicated. Start spending time in the Lord’s house, seeking his beauty and waiting with eager expectations for an increased desire for Him. Because the truth is, one day in the Lord’s presence is better than a thousand elsewhere.

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4 Reminders from a Walk Down Memory Lane

Allyson Joy

Six years and seven months had passed since we loaded the moving truck and drove away from our first home as husband and wife. We called Fort Collins, Colorado home for our first two years of marriage. And just days ago we visited this blessed place for the first time since moving.

Fort Collins is this fantastic town that sits at the base of the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. During the time we lived there it was ranked the fourth best place to live in America. Part of Disneyland’s Main Street was designed after Fort Collins’ Old Town. Quaint. Charming. Beautiful. These words accurately describe this town we once called home.

Visiting places we have lived is always a nostalgic experience. No matter if the actual experience was good or bad, happy or sad, there is something special about seeing the spaces that used to be our usuals-the grocery store, apartment, school, work, streets, gym, and church. You know, just the everyday spots.

Walking along the paths we used to frequent was a little surreal. I guess it shouldn’t be so weird but it was, like an out of body experience, like no time had passed at all, as if we were still there-a broke graduate student and his new bride who couldn’t find a full time job for a year and a half. (Fourth best place to live in the country, remember? EVERYONE was searching for a job.)

When looking in the rearview mirror of life, there are certainly things I would do differently if given the opportunity; hindsight is always 20-20. But I try to focus on lessons learned, not regrets, and apply those lessons to my current situation. What am I doing right now that my older self would do differently? We may not always know the exact answer but applying what we have learned from the past is a great place to start. As we walked the streets of this beautiful city, as we recounted stories from the first days of marriage, here are a few simple reminders that I hope apply to your journey as well.

Attitude effects everything. More times than not, what I would change comes down to my attitude. Money, location, job, relationships, and position all depend more on how we view the situation than the situation itself. Charles Swindoll says it like this, “I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you…we are in charge of our attitudes.” My dad has always taught me this. And as it turns out, he continues to be right.

Enjoy the journey. People who have been where I am continue to share this nugget of encouragement. High school, college, graduate school and the early days of marriage-“Just enjoy it,” was a common admonition. And in my current season with babies at home, I am being told the same thing. Enjoy. Every. Season. Because one day this current season will be the follow up to the statement, “Remember when.”

Begin with the end in mind. While enjoying the season is important, it is equally important to plan for the future. We were reminded last weekend that our current reality was once just a dream. God is the one who provides but often we must position ourselves for the provisions. I mean, you can’t sit on the couch eating bon bons and expect everything you want to be delivered to your door. Better put, our choices today effect our tomorrow.

Invest in relationships. Of all the stops on our walk down memory lane, my favorite by far was visiting the church we used to attend. The smiles, hugs, and worship left my heart full. I was moved during the singing as I remembered that God is who He is-always has been, always will be. He has moved so powerfully in every season of life. The God who worked then and is the God who works now.  At one point during the service I was brought to tears, touched by the relationships that once were and will always be because of our connection in Christ. Even when time and distance separate us, we will always be family. And I am certain that on Sunday we experienced a little taste of heaven.

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When Understanding Clashes with Reality

Allyson Joy

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6

I was recently speaking with a mentor about life and struggles and how to reconcile it all. He shed new light on this verse, a familiar verse, one I commonly reference. Sometimes the familiar overshadows the powerful, and I had lost sight of the power behind these words.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.”

How many situations are you dealing with right now that you just can’t make sense of? My uncle has cancer, and I don’t understand it. A friend of mine has chronic pain and cannot care for her child. A woman desperately wants a child and God says no to the pleas for a pregnancy. Family relationships are dysfunctional. You want to be in a different place or phase and yet there you are, still waiting. Job loss. Health problems. Marriage problems. Life. Sometimes it just doesn’t make sense.

And lean not on your own understanding.

Logic is often the enemy of faith but trust trumps critical thinking. Every. Time. My mentor reminded me of this. The Bible is full of stories-examples, not exceptions-that display this truth.

Barren women became pregnant.

The sick were healed.

The dead were raised.

The weak defeated the strong.

Rulers released slaves.

God remembered humans.

God spoke to humans.

Relationships were restored.

Food fell from the sky.

Murderers became Christ followers.

And this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Whatever your impossible situation is, take heart! Trust must follow when our own understanding cannot suffice. Before these ordinary people experienced the extraordinary side of impossible situations, their understanding would not and could not reconcile their doubt. But they leaned not on their own understanding and trusted in the Lord with all their heart. They acknowledged him in all their ways, and he made their paths straight.

And He will do the same for us. We just have to hold tighter to trust than to logic.

Photo source: Yuriy Seleznev/Shutterstock

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