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“Give your attention to what God is doing right now…”   – Matthew 6:33 (MSG)

When my first son was young I got stressed with all the end-of-school-year activities – especially when he was in preschool.  There seemed to be some special party, event, occasion, or fun day scheduled for almost every school day in the last couple of weeks.  Didn’t the teachers realize they were infringing on the last of my ‘personal time’ while my son was in school?  Didn’t they know I had things to do before he was out of school for the summer and I’d be on Mom Duty 24/7 until school resumed in the fall? 

As frustrated as I was by all the end-of-year events I had to attend, I have to admit that I was always glad I was there.  I would have regretted missing any of those occasions.

While my first son prepares to move on to high school, my younger son is coming up through elementary.   How did we get here?  In the blink of an eye one son became a teenager and the other son is keeping pace behind him!  I look back and am ashamed that I used to get frustrated about having to use ‘my days’ for school activities.  I see now how fast that time goes and how very precious it is! 

Instead of trying to strategize ways to have more time for myself, I look for time I can spend with our boys.  As a family we have as many meals together as possible.  We attend as many activities and events together as a family as we can.  I savor the short seven-minute drive I have in the mornings with my older son as I take him to school.  It’s often the only dedicated time I have with him (when his younger brother isn’t also with us).   Since my husband takes our older son to work out at the gym several times a week, he makes it a point to find dedicated play time with our younger son, too.  I try to do my work and take care of errands when they’re in school so our time together can be about other things instead.  Often my younger son and I rest together on the couch after school.  That’s much more enjoyable than dragging him through the grocery store! 

The best way I’ve found to spend time with our sons is to make their interests my interests. That’s not alwasy easy since I don’t know a lot about sports — and even less about playing them!  (I’m usually good for a laugh when I try to play sports with them.)  I spend time with each boy watching tv shows they like.  Since my younger son loves to do projects and play games, I do my best allow time for those things and participate with him.  Doing things together isn’t just about having fun and spending time together.  It also helps me keep pace with them and stay connected with them as they grow and mature. 

Another end-of-school-year is here and I’m enjoying all that I can.  Once again I’m finding that activities and celebrations are taking up the last of my ‘personal time’, but that’s ok.  God willing, I’ll have years later for personal time.  In another blink of an eye my younger son will be getting ready for high school while my older boy (who’s actually a young man) starts a life of his own.  It will only be a few years before our house will start getting too quiet and we’ll be missing our boys, longing for the days that are happening now.

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What joy for the nation whose God is the LORD, whose people he has chosen as his inheritance.   – Psalm 33:12

Memorial Day:  A national American holiday set aside for the remembrance of soldiers who gave their life for our country

When you think of our great nation and the many lives lost to protect and defend it, do you think about WHAT they gave their lives to protect and defend?  Now, more than ever before, it’s imperative to recognize that for more than 200 years, American soldiers have given their lives to protect and defend freedoms and liberties birthed from a Christian heritage.  This country was founded to be a Christian nation! 

Author/researcher Wayne Haynie writes that in December of 1606 three small ships (The Susan Constant, The Godspeed, and The Discovery) set sail to establish a new colony in what is now known as the United States of America.  This voyage came 20 years after a former attempt commissioned by Queen Elizabeth I for main the purpose of aquiring resources to help finance the current war with Spain.  That attempt proved to be ill-fated when the entire colony disappeared without a trace.   In contrast, the crews who set sail in 1606 did so for the purpose of taking Chrisianity to a new land where freedoms of religion (within the Christian context) could be established.  Haynie writes of these times in great detail, noting the challenges of the long and uncomfortable voyage.  On April 26, 1607, land was sighted.  Rev. Robert Hunt requested the men to remain on board for a few days for “personal examination and reflection”.  Three days later the men went ashore, naming their landing sight Cape Henry.  Most important to note in this entire piece of history is that they did not go ashore to stake their claim with a flag for the rights of man. 

These courageous men staked the land they found with a seven-foot cross that had traveled with them from England to stake their claims for CHRIST, not man. 

Haynie reports the men knelt before the cross, recited prayers, and dedicated the land with the words of Rev. Robert Hunt that included this quote: 

“…from these very shores the Gospel shall go forth not only to this New World, but to the entire world.” 

 As we give rememrance to the many men and women who gave their lives to defend and protect the freedoms and liberties of our great nation, the United States of America, let us especially remember that these freedoms and liberties were based on the principles of Christianity, with this land being staked for CHRIST, not man.  

Just as Rev. Robert Hunt suggested the voyagers take a few days for personal examination and reflection, I suggest that we honor his memory by taking time to pray and reflect about what it means to be an American, and ask God to examine our souls that He might make known to us the ways we can continue to defend and uphold the Christian values and foundations so important to our nation today.          “Lord… be not far from every one of us.   – Acts 17:27

Today I’m writing from my heart, asking you to pray for others.   Please take a few moments to pray for those who are:

Struggling in these tough financial times

Facing uncertainty of their futures

Possibly losing their homes and everything they’ve worked hard for

Facing illnesses and/or possible disabilities

Tending to loved ones who are ill

Scared for loved ones who are awaiting test results and diagnosis

Overwhelmed by their life’s situations

Feeling the burden of poor choices

Finding out that their marriage is over

Worried about the rebellious ways of their children

Worried about poor choices their children/grandchildren are making

Shamed by mistakes of their past

Victims of cruel actions of others

Trying to overcome addictions

Who don’t know God

Who are struggling with their faith

Trying to find a reason to live

Doing their best to hang on

Who need to be saved by grace through faith

These people aren’t ‘other people somewhere else’.  These are our friends and neighbors, family members, people we go to church with, work with, encounter in our day.  These are our brothers and sisters in Christ, and they need our love and support. 

Give thanks to God for the good things He does, and pray for His goodness to be with others.  Please pray for God to be with others in amazing ways and for them to recognize His hand of grace in their lives.  Claim Romans 8:28 that states God can work good in all things for those who love Him and are called according to His purposes.  Pray that He will indeed work through the tough and trying times of others to bring about His good will.  Pray for the children affected by these situations, that God will show them special favor, kindness, mercy, and protection when needed.  Pray especially for those losing the will to keep going that they will come to know that Christ is the way, the truth and the LIFE.  (Gospel of John)  Pray that God will make rainbows to appear in their lives – reminding all of us that He keeps His promise to be with us. 

Thank you for taking a few minutes to pray for others.  May God’s special blessings and rainbow moments be yours in return.  God bless you.

In Micca Mondo Campbell’s devotion, “Greener Pastures” she uses the following scripture from the 23rd Psalm as her main verse:

“He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside the still waters, he restores my soul.” Psalm 23:2-3 (NIV)

(To read Micca’s devotion, go to www.Proverbs31.org , Encouragement for Today, May 18, 2009.)

I’ve seen or heard this verse countless times before, but as I read it today, it occured to me that the Lord calls us to rest, not to stress.

Are you in a state of rest or stress?  If you are stressed, something in your life is not of God.  Possibly you’ve bitten off more than He’s called you to chew (proverbially speaking).  Maybe you’ve shut the Lord out altogether, trying to manage everything on your own.  Or maybe life has simply happened to you in unkind, unfair, or overwhelming ways.  Whatever your reasons, don’t stress, seek rest.  Find your rest in Him.  Go before Him with whatever is stressing you, and don’t be shy or afraid.  There’s nothing you can tell Him that He doesn’t already know!  He wants to help.  He wants to lighten your burdens.   (See Matthew 11:28-30) 

Many things are too big for us, but nothing is too big for God!  And nothing is too little or insignificant.  If it matters to you, it matters to Him!  

For me, stress is usually caused by having too much to do and not enough time to do it.  My stress spills over onto my husband and kids.  That’s not right!  And it’s not of God!  HE won’t give me too much to do, so I’ve either taken on too much, OR I’m not managing my tasks and time well enough.  When this happens I take a minute to give it all up to God.  I tell Him I’m doing a bad job of managing things and need His help.  I let Him take over and follow His lead.  I’ve never been sorry yet.  And I’ve never given anything up to Him that He hasn’t helped me take care of.  He helps me make my way through seemingly impossible days.  When I’ve taken on too much, He helps me sort things out.  THEN I find rest and lose the stress. 

For related posts, see “Are you burdened?  Take My yoke.”  – Jesus  (march 2008 archives), and “Saving the Sabbath” (april 2007 archives).

Remember, God calls us to rest, not to be stressed.    Be blessed, not stressed!

God speaking:  “I will continue this everlasting covenant between us, generation after generation. It will continue between me and your offspring forever…Your part of the agreement,” God told Abraham, “is to obey the terms of the covenant.  You and all your descendents will have this continual responsibility.”  – Genesis 17:7-9

Moses speaking: “These are the commands, laws, and regulations that the LORD your God told me to teach you so you may obey them…and so you and your children and grandchildren might fear the LORD your God as long as your live.  If you obey all his laws and commands, you willl enjoy a long life.  – Deuteronomy 6:1-2

“You must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands I am giving you today.  Repeat them again and again to your children.  Talk about them when you are at home and when you are away on a journey, when you are lying down and when you are getting up again.  Tie them to your hands as a reminder, and wear them on your forehead.  Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”   – Deuteronomy 6:6-7

If you’d have asked me what all that meant seven years ago, I’d have had no idea.  Further, if I’d been asked to do what the scriptures said to do, there’d have been no way!  I’d have been desperately asking: What covenant?  What IS a covenant?  What are the terms of the covenant?  How can I obey the terms if I don’t know what they are?  And I’m supposed to teach them to my children?!

My biggest question would have been:  WHERE DO I FIND THE ANSWERS?! 

Hearing our Mother’s Day sermon yesterday reminded me how important my role is in my children’s life – not just as a Mom, but also as a parent.  It’s up to me/us (my husband and I) to teach our children well.  How can I give  them the right answers to life if I don’t know them myself? 

Seven years ago I started finding answers through Disciple Bible Study.  I knew answers for right living were in the Bible, but didn’t know what the answers were.  Even if Idid, I had no idea where  in the Bible to find them.  The Bible is a big book!  I needed answers for myself and I needed them for my children.  Even though I didn’t know much about the Bible at the time, I somehow knew it was the best reference guide for parents. 

What about you?  Would you like to have better answers and references for life’s questions?  Do you want to teach your children well?  If so, I encourage you to find a Bible study.  Many churches will soon be offering sign-ups for next fall’s classes.  Some churches might have studies continuing through the summer.  You can also gather friends and start your own Bible studies.  Our church offers a wide variety of Bible and Christian book studies throughout the year.  Most popular have been Disciple Bible Studies and Beth Moore studies.  For more about Disciple Bible Studies, go to www.Cokesbury.com     If you live in the Charlotte/Weddington areas of North Carolina, join us for studies at Weddington United Methodist Church!  We’d love to have you!  For info go to www.weddingtonchurch.org    or contact me at ReneeMyers@carolina.rr.com   I’ll be glad to help you any way I can. 

Not sure what to do?  Say a prayer and ask God to lead you to the right study or course of action.  Then call area churches to see what they offer, and talk to friends to see what they recommend.  Maybe they’d like to join you!   

The Bible has become my all-time favorite book.  It’s fascinating, informative, insightful, and most important…it speaks to me.  God speaks to me through His written Word.  He teaches me, convicts me, leads me, and inspires me.  I hope to be studying the Bible my entire life!  Never should there come a day when I feel I’ve learned enough.   I hope you’ll become a student of the Word, too!   Or continue studies you’ve already begun.    Most importantly, I hope you’ll take what you learn and pass it along to others as God commands us to do, and teach His children well.    God bless you.

“And you shall do what is good and right in the sight of the Lord, that it may be well with you…”  ~ Deuteronomy 6:18

Every morning, after blow-drying my hair, I get down on the floor with a damp paper towel and wipe up the loose hair that has been blown around.  One morning, as I wiped along the baseboards and reached into the corners, I chuckled to myself as I realized that I was ‘reaching out to the four corners’ like the Bible tells us to do.  The Bible isn’t referring to cleaning floors, though.  It’s telling us to take the Good News of Jesus to all the world.  As I reached into the four corners of our bathroom and prided myself on what I was doing, I heard God speak through my own thoughts to say, “Yes, you’re reaching out to the four corners, but you’re not taking care of where you are!”  What?  He was right!   I’d been reaching out to the corners, wiping along baseboards, and cleaning all around me, but was failing to clean the very center of the floor where I was!  As this realization hit me, a greater realization hit even harder.  God wasn’t speaking to me about my bathroom floor.  He was talking about my life! 

I’d gotten so busy with activities at church and my boys’ schools (reaching out to the four corners), that I wasn’t taking care of where I was (my responsibilities to my husband and children at home).  How could I?  I was hardly ever home.  A stay-at-home Mom?  What was that?  I’d dubbed myself the ‘van go’ mom because I was always on-the-go in our mini-van.  I’d gotten involved with Bible study, choir, helped with children’s activites at church and school, attended meetings, and often jumped in to help wherever help was needed.  These were all good things to do, but in my efforts to reach out to the four corners, I was failing to take care of where I was.  I was so busy tending to the needs of others, that I wasn’t tending to my own family! 

In that moment, while crouched down on the bathroom floor, God put me in my place…and my place was at home.     God had given me a marriage, home, and family.  Those were to be my first priorites —and in that order.    God needs to be first; marriage second; and children third.  God showed me that at times the world around me will be my mission field, but my most important mission work was right at home! 

Today’s world makes us think we need to be super-parents who do it all.    For a while, I was doing it all.  In fact, there were times when I was quite proud of myself for all I’d managed to squeeze into my days.  What I  didn’t realize was that by squeezing everything else in, I was squeezing my family out.  And aren’t they what it’s all about? 

Dear God, Thank You for dragging me away from the crazy busyness that was taking over my life and keeping me from those whom I love the most, my husband and children.  Thank You for helping me keep a better balance between family and outside commitments.  Doing so has relieved stress in our household, given me more time to be with my family, and makes it so much easier to tend to them and their needs.  It’s also given me more time to devote to You and the work You lead me to do.  Life is good, Lord.  Thank You!  Amen. 

God did something really awesome today!  He reached out to someone who was struggling during our prayer time!   

A dear friend from church was struggling with anxieties caused by her husband’s job situation.  His previous job was terminated – a result of current economic troubles, and the job they’d prayed for did not work out.  Emotional with worry, she shared her concerns with our small prayer group.  While the others took their turns praying, I silently prayed to God asking if there were scriptures from the Bible that we could offer our sister-friend.  Immediately He put a verese in my head.  While searching for that verse in my Bible, He led me to a second verse! 

I’d like to share the verses with you.  Maybe they’re words that God wants you to hear, too.  Or maybe you know someone who’s struggling with financial concerns and uncertainty.  If so, please share this message with them, as well. 

Words spoken by Jesus in Matthew 6:32-34:

Your heavenly Father already knows all your needs, and he will give you all you need from day to day if  you live for him and make the Kingdom of God your primary concern.  So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries.  Today’s trouble is enough for today.

Phillipians 4:6-7        Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything.  Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.  If you do this, you will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand.  His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

Dear God, Thank You for speaking to us through Your Living Word today!  It’s always amazing when You respond to our prayers!  I hope and pray that those who need to hear Your words of truth will be encouraged.  In Jesus’ name I pray.  Amen. 

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