By Debbie Legg
I was overwhelmed and exhausted.
To one extent or another, every wife and mom modifies their own lives and desires to benefit their loved ones. I am happy to do so, but juggling multiple roles over multiple weeks with multiple issues was taking its toll.
At the end of a long day I was journaling my frustration, and what felt like selfishness, to God. I wanted to do what I wanted to do, when I wanted to do it, without having to make sure it fit everyone else’s whims and desires or feeling guilty about it, just once in a while.
Finally, I wrote the words, “Okay. Rant over, I guess. Help, Lord.”
Then I sensed in my heart, “I will show you the way if you will let Me.”
I took a deep breath. “Okay, Lord,” I thought, “shoot.”
“One day a week, schedule nothing. Choose a day and mark it off as your day.”
I blinked. Crickets chirped. This was an inconceivable concept to me.
“Wait. What? How? What would that even look like?”
“Only do what you want to do. Eat only what you want, go only where you want, be only what you want. I think you will be surprised at what you find and experience.”
Another deep breath. And another. Honestly, what did I have to lose by trying it for one day? I checked my calendar.
“Okay, Lord. I’ll try it tomorrow and report back.”
The next evening I did just that.
“Lord, wow. I read the book I wanted, ate the food I wanted (breakfast food, with crepes! No low carb today!), did laundry because I wanted, made the leftovers for dinner I wanted, watered the flowers because I wanted, stayed outside longer than I needed to because I wanted.
“I’m truly shocked at how much better I feel. I’m so used to putting everyone else’s needs first that I’ve forgotten to even consider my own. I was surprised that I actually wanted to do laundry and make leftovers. Nobody was neglected and I don’t feel selfish. I definitely need self-care/mental health days more often, and if I need to schedule them on the calendar, then schedule them I will.”
“Well done, My Daughter. You do need this. One day a week for yourself. The world will still turn. No one in your family will suffer, I promise. You cannot be all I created you to be, do all I created you to do, if you don’t take time to rest and be restored.”
And then it hit me. Sabbath.
This is what Sabbath looks like for me in this season of my life.
“Thank You, Lord, for making me lie down in green pastures and beside quiet waters. For teaching me how to let You restore my soul.”
There is a meme making the rounds that shows a low battery signal. It says “You wouldn't let this happen to your phone. Don't let it happen to you either. Self-care is a priority, not a luxury.”
What can you adjust in your life to make room for Sabbath?
If you’re not sure, ask God. I’m sure He has an idea.
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by Amy Kemp
"Get wisdom - it's worth more than money; choose insight over income every time." (Proverbs 16:16)
Because I like to write, I journal daily. My journal pages include scripture, prayer requests, tear stains, and a few drops of long-since dried milk from my breakfast cereal bowl - which tells you a little bit about when words are penned in these journal pages of mine. I've probably filled the pages of 50+ spiral bound notebooks. My kids know that a journal is a safe gift for me; it will inevitably be used.
Sometimes, after I've written a scripture and pondered over it, I'll recognize that God and I shared a unique moment. I will re-read it and think it potentially worth another person's hearing. That happened with my writing from April 30, 2018.
It was a family devotion morning in the Kemp household. When my kids were in school, we started our Mondays with a family sit-down at the table to share a word and a prayer before the week began. I remember it being my week to lead. I opted to read for my family what I had written just that morning. After I had finished, my youngest daughter said, "Mom, did you write that? I thought you were reading from a devotional." So, I put a star by that date in my journal and thought, "Someday, to some audience, I'll share this again." Today is that day. You are that audience. I hope my ponderings from April 2018 bless you.
"Proverbs 16:16 - 'Get wisdom - it's worth more than money; choose insight over income every time.' Every translation I looked at said to get wisdom. That's intriguing. If you get something, you probably didn't earn it or work for it. I tried to think about phrases we often use. We get sick. We get a raise or a promotion. When we go shopping, friends/family members might ask, 'What did you get?' Or, students in a classroom will ask one another, 'What did you get?' when test scores are revealed. We also use that word with emotions. We get excited. Or, we get nervous. We don't use get with intelligence, though. Intelligence is earned; it is sought after. I would think wisdom is similar. In fact, with wisdom there is even more complexity because I've always thought of wisdom as tied to experience. Time and life make one wise. Where would you go to "get" wisdom?
Solomon asked for it and received it according the the scripture, which teaches that you can ask the Lord for it. So, in this verse, "Get wisdom" may be David's call to us to "Ask God to make you wise." Why? Because of its worth! In other verses, the worth of wisdom is likened to gold and silver. I wonder what a 2018 translation might say, ". . . worth more than stock in Apple? . . .worth more than a warehouse of Taylor guitars? . . . worth more than Oprah Winfrey's portfolio?"
In the second half of the verse, there is action on our part. Initially, David says, "Get wisdom." Now, the Word says, "Choose insight." That implies that there are other choices. Insight seems like quiet intellect--watching and observing so that you might walk away having learned something valuable. We can choose to observe, to be silent, and to take away from a situation (a teachable moment) or we can be bull-headed and barrel through, never gaining insight and perhaps damaging people and relationships around us.
Lastly, the scripture says to make the choice EVERY TIME. It's just like us to struggle with these crossroads of choice. We seem to say, 'Just this one time I'll act recklessly' or 'Just this once I'll operate on instinct instead of surmising what God would want. . .just. this. once.' Nope. EVERY TIME, choose insight. Elect to get wisdom.
Pray about it. Speak less. Listen more. Gain understanding, and You will be rich - far beyond the world's standards for wealth."
Thanks for being my audience 15 months later. Now, go get wisdom and choose insight!
By Becky Payne
I am a Doodle Mom! (For those who don’t know, a doodle is a poodle mixed with another breed of dog). I adopted Winnie the Doodle, a 3 year old goldendoodle in June 2018 from our local shelter, and last weekend I adopted Whoopie Doodle, a 13 month old aussiedoodle who was rescued from a puppy mill.
Puppy mill dogs have had little to no socialization, and are often abused and neglected. They are only good for breeding. Their life consists of being locked up in kennels which are often in deplorable conditions. There are many who rescue these dogs from these environments; however the dogs do not know how to be a dog. They may be rescued from these situations; but it can take months or years for them to truly experience freedom. They are no longer stuck in kennels without human contact, yet they still act and respond as if they are. They often carry such terror, anxiety, and distrust.
These two dogs have taught me so much about God and His love for us. My dogs struggle with fear and distrust, though Winnie has made great strides in over a year. They both are working to overcome these fears and fully accept my love, though they often revert back to their past behaviors.
Christine Caine in her study entitled Unashamed talks about the difference between deliverance and freedom as she refers to the Israelites enslavement in Egypt. The Lord delivered them from slavery; however they were not truly free until they entered the Promised Land. The journey to the Promised Land should have only taken eleven days; yet it took forty years. They could have been free in less than two weeks, but God knew the Israelites would never be truly free until they changed their mindset...until they let go of the slavery mentality.
In Exodus 14:10-12, we see this mindset as they had left Egypt and before they crossed the Red Sea. They were terrified and wanted to go back to slavery because they were more comfortable as slaves than they were of the unknown freedom ahead.
The next 40 years God was not keeping them from the good things in life. Instead He was preparing them to fully enjoy their freedom whenever they arrived in the Promised Land. They were stuck in a slavery mindset which said they were better off working as slaves instead of receiving God’s best for them. If they would have continued living with this mindset, they would never have been able to experience true freedom. They would always be driven by fear instead of by the God who is greater than their fears.
As we celebrate July 4th, are you free? Has God delivered you from bondage only to find you going back to your old way of life? Are you holding on to what is safe and comfortable or are you trusting God to bring you true freedom? Wherever you are on this journey, allow Him to mold and shape you so you can be free. It will be uncomfortable and even scary, but it will totally be worth it!!
Make me a servant Humble and meek
Lord let me lift up Those who are weak
And may the prayer Of my heart always be
Make me a servant today
An old chorus that kept going through my mind this morning. What has happened? Am I still a servant? Am I humble or as I grow older have I become a bit proud of my service to Him? We just finished a week of Bible School in our congregation and someone asked how many years I had been a part of VBS. I was very proud to tell them I had helped for 65 years. PROUD with a capital “P”! I did indicate I had missed a year in all that time. 😊 Why would I feel so proud? God has blessed me in more ways than anyone can imagine in those 65 Bible School experiences. It brought me Joy (with a capital “J”.) No need to be proud…God had given me his greatest treasures as I taught his children and watched them grow to bring their children and then their grandchildren. What a privilege He gave me.
And I sing humble and meek… meekness is not a trait I am known for in my circle of friends. Google defines meek as: “enduring injury with patience and without resentment; submissive.” These are not characteristics that have increased as I have aged. As an individual ages, we often begin to believe that we have the answers to everything. 😊 Meekness coupled with humble becomes a beautiful combination the more it grows, and I continue to pray that as his servant I acquire these qualities.
I tend to dwell on my weaknesses rather than lift those who are ‘weaker” than me. I used to walk three or four miles a day. So, I can’t do that anymore, but I can still walk and help those who need assistance of a cane or walker. I can shop and do errands for those who are in wheelchairs or bed-fast. Not three miles, but a few steps may be all that is necessary.
Once I had a very visible active role in my congregation. Because of circumstances of my choice that is not true at this stage in my life. However, so many people need an encouraging word, a time of prayer, or a pat of love. All lifting of the weak that I can still do.
So as these words linger with me today, I search my actions and pray again “Make me a servant today”
And whatever stage of life you may find yourself in today, I encourage you to join me in this prayer.
By Niki Packer
Last week’s Called and Confident blog about dreaming by Debbie Legg was very motivating to me. What would I do if I could only do one thing? What dream has God put in my heart? These questions excite me and make me want to talk and dream with God.
However, there is a theme that God has been repeating to me the last few weeks as it relates to dreaming big in God’s kingdom. It's something that doesn’t really excite me. It’s something that scares me and keeps me from dreaming. It’s a word I dread. The forbidden S-word. Sacrifice.
Sacrifice plays in big role in fulfilling dreams. In order to accomplish something, we have to give up something else. If we want to buy something, we give up money. If we want to vacation, we cut costs in other areas. If we want to go to college, we give up years of "regular" life and income. And if we want to see dreams come to fruition, there are countless things we'll have to give up along the way.
But maybe a better word for sacrifice in God's Kingdom would be EXCHANGE. I am giving up something, but what I'm receiving is way better.
In 2007 God gave me a dream for a Sunday night children’s program similar to a mini-VBS. We've now been doing the J-team ministry for 12 years and while it is fulfilling, it also means there’s a lot of work and sacrifices involved. Sundays are very long days for many of us while J-team is in session. There is much we have to exchange in order to plant Kingdom seeds in the children of our community. But the blessings are so much better than what we're giving up!
Invariably, the things that I think I want are never as good as what Jesus knows will fulfill me. When I trust Him, even in the sacrifices, the exchange rate I get is definitely in my favor! God never asks us to give up something just because He wants to see us suffer. He doesn't delight in watching us sacrifice for the sake of sacrifice. But He does love for us to trust Him enough that what we give up will never be better than what He gives us.
So the next time the Lord asks you to sacrifice something, try trusting Him that the exchange will be to your benefit and the blessings far greater than the sacrifices.
By Debbie Legg
“Essentialism isn’t about getting more done in less time. It’s about getting only the right things done.”
In one of my favorite books, Essentialism, Greg McKeown teaches how to find the right things, including your Point of Highest Contribution, and structure your life so you can do it.
I believe Jesus revealed his Point of Highest Contribution (PHC) when He announced Himself in the synagogue in Luke 4:
The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor (Isaiah 61:1-2a)
Reading through the gospels shows me everything He did fit into these categories.
Nothing He did was a waste of time. Everything had purpose, and impact. Even His distractions, like stopping to address the bleeding woman while on the way to Jairus’ house, were perfectly timed divine appointments.
Jesus got the right things, and only the right things, done.
I’m learning to as well. My right things include responsibilities as a wife, mom, daughter, volunteer, and general doer of all things household. After much prayer and learning, I’ve discovered that my Point of Highest Contribution, outside of my daily life, is as a writer. I’ve been using the principles in Essentialism to cut out nonessentials and distractions so I have maximum time to write.
Let’s dream a minute.
What is your Point of Highest Contribution?
If you could do one thing and one thing only, what would it be?
Take some time and let your spirit and soul ponder this. Immediately discard any thought that starts with “yeah, but...” It’s not about what’s practical or realistic.
Would you start a homeless shelter? A daycare? Feed the hungry or clothe the needy? Would you provide logistical help to existing organizations? Plant trees or flowers? Cook meals? Work to free and heal victims of human trafficking?
If you could do this, and only this, what would your life look like?
What if everyone found their own individual Points of Highest Contribution and did that, and only that? Everyone would be happy and fulfilled, and the world would be an exponentially better place…
by Amy Kemp
Called and Confident Lessons from Babes
Psalm 8:2: "Nursing infants gurgle choruses about you; toddlers shout the songs that drown out enemy talk and silence atheist babble." (THE MESSAGE)
My 19-year-old daughter brought this scripture to my attention recently. She sent a simple text message that read, "Mom, explain Psalm 8:2 to me." I didn't recognize the verse as one that I might know by memory, and I waited until my devotion time to dive in. I read the above and paused.
After some thought, I shared the following with my daughter Belle:
“Sadly, there is so much I can't explain. Not because I don't read the meaning in the passage, because I do see incredible meaning here. But there is just something that happens when a woman births a baby and holds that baby in her arms. It is without words. So, some of my understanding from this verse I can't share with you because words will do no good. Once you hold a baby (your baby), you'll know.
Mostly, what I was thinking is that we are "too big for our britches." As we grow and mature, we add words to our vocabulary and our acts of service get bigger and bolder. We might not be out to impress God or man, but the nature of maturing is that we can do more and say more, so we do. However, the most innocent (the youngest among us) can communicate needs. Infants cry. Toddlers, when they learn even the simplest of language, sing. And, the scriptures say that this sort of communication, even at this stage of life, is enough to drown out enemy talk. Why? Because we represent God's handiwork.
Infants are close to God. Immediately before their birth (up to the second before exiting the birth canal), God is hand-crafting them in their mother's womb. His fingerprints are all over the skin of a newborn! How innocent and perfect! THAT. . .that moment, that cry coming from that baby. . .that is the most powerful, wonderful, God-honoring sound. It speaks to God's power and perfection. How did that baby know that at just the right moment he or she should take a breath of air? Because God whispered, "This is your time." From the depths of that infant (yes, their mouths but also their souls), God's authority is manifested.”
After I fired those words off to her, I marveled. You see, at 47 years of age, I'm somewhere between fully raising my own children into adulthood and becoming a grandma, with the honor of watching my children raise their own. The days of infants, right now, seem far behind me, but maybe not too far into my future.
I do have a son who, though not biologically mine, is mine nonetheless. He and his wife have three children. The youngest of which is my name sake, Charlie Sue. (Sue is my middle name as well.) Charlie Sue is 11 months old, and though she lives too many miles away from me, I've had the privilege of holding her as an infant (at only six weeks old) and listening to her gurgles. Now, this many months later, I've seen her mama and daddy call for her across the room, and I've watched as she wobbled to her hands and knees, trying valiantly to figure out how to crawl. I've seen her respond to those who call out to her. She hasn't mastered navigation yet, but she tries. Oh, does she try.
As a called and confident woman, here are a couple of take-aways from all of this. First, don't get too big for your britches. Keep your language and your acts of service simple. Take cues from toddlers and infants. Even their noises and shouts drown out atheist babble.
Second, look for the One who loves you and is calling to you. Find your way to Him; army crawl if you have to, but get to Him. Just like a babe learning to crawl and then walk and then run, remember the voice calling to you is the voice of the One who loves you. He will never leave you. You can have confidence in Him. He is calling you. Rest assured, He sees you trying to find your legs beneath you, and He is smiling with arms wide open.
There's just so much to learn from babes, isn't there?
by Clella Camp
The greatest love a person can have for his friends is to give his life for them." John 15:13 No greater love has any man than he will lay down his life for his friend. Do you have a friend like that? Are you that kind of friend? Laying down your life for a friend does not necessarily mean dying for them. What are you willing to give up for them?
Time is one item we don’t give enough of to our friends. I intend to call, but I get busy. I want to listen but right now I have some place to go. I know you are hurting, but I don’t want to get involved. I want to be a helper, but I don’t want to do that job. My excuses for not being the friend I should be are many and varied and rather weak most of the time.
Friends are those people who know all about you and love you anyway Friends hear what you say and know it is not what you mean. Friends show up three weeks after the funeral with plans for something to do together. Friends send you a card in the mail (not an e-mail) for no reason.
Friends laugh at your old jokes and know you cry when you are happy. Friends tell you they like your new hairstyle even when it is unbecoming. Friends tell you they miss you when you are gone.Friends share your love for Jesus.
Friends pray with you and for you. Friends never tell your secrets to other friends. Friends know you are afraid of the dark. Friends show up at the strangest times. Friends are God’s answer to loneliness. Friends do not intimidate you and don’t even try to. If a person is blessed with friends, he is truly blessed.
Friendship has different levels. An acquaintance is a friend that I know, find pleasant, and visit with them when I meet them in the Walmart. Do I love them, of course, but not as I love my friend that I play golf with or have a lunch date with.
These golf and lunch friends are ones I share cute stories about my grandchildren, funny things that have happened recently and all the latest news of town. I love these friends, but not as I love my close friends.
My close friends are the few people in this world who know all about me and love me anyway. These friends know I have faults, know I am not always the Christian woman I appear to be, nor the wife and mother that I desire to be, but they have seen me fall and get up. We are blessed if we have some of these kinds of friends. And when we reach old age and these friends are the ones who remain, we realize what true friendship really means. And I love these friends, but not as I love my best friend, Jesus. Here is a friend who surpasses all my other friends. Because of Jesus, I know how to love my earthly friends.
Consider how He loved us and how you love today? I pray we all might love like Jesus.
by Becky Payne
When I was 17, I was driving the family minivan a short distance from home when the accelerator stuck for the third time in a few months. The other two times I had been able to get it unstuck; however this time was different, I wasn’t able to stop the vehicle. I was terrified thinking I was going to die. Through the grace of God, I was able, while standing on the brake with all my weight, to get the car to turn it into the church parking lot next to my house. I didn't know what else to do, so I drove around in circles honking and waving trying to get the attention of my family.
My parents happened to be on the phone with each other, (Mom at the house and Dad at the church), while I was honking and waving like a crazy person. My mom thought I was being silly but my dad realized that I was in trouble as he saw smoke starting to billow from the engine. He quickly hung up the phone and ran out to the parking lot to save me.
Without a thought to his own life and more concern for my safety and well-being, he opened the car door while running alongside me. He jumped in the car, and somehow was able to get the car to do what I was unable to do.
Dad didn’t even think twice about what could happen to him. He just wanted to make sure I was safe. He expressed sacrificial love, and some may say he showed reckless love. He was willing to do whatever it took for me to be safe even if it meant that he was injured or worse in the process. As I remember this incident, I am reminded me of a popular worship song entitled "Reckless Love of God". Here are the words to the chorus and the bridge.
And oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God
Oh, it chases me down, fights 'til I'm found, leaves the ninety-nine
And I couldn't earn it, and I don't deserve it, still, You give Yourself away
Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God, yeah
There's no shadow You won't light up
Mountain You won't climb up
Coming after me
There's no wall You won't kick down
Lie You won't tear down
Coming after me
I am grateful for the reckless love my dad had for me back then, but even more I am eternally grateful for a God that loves me so much that He would sacrifice His place in heaven to suffer and die on earth so that I could spend eternity with Him. Thank you God for your reckless love for me.
By Niki Packer
Who are the most arrogant human beings on the planet? If you've ever spent time around middle school boys, I think you'll agree that they are arguably the most conceited group of people alive. At least in my household this is true. It cracks me up to listen to my son and his friends in the van after practices, comparing their great sports moments and telling each other about their awe-inspiring stats and plays.
But I’ll share a secret with you. Their arrogance comes from a lack of confidence. They don't yet know who they are or where they are going. They have a taste of independence, but not enough experience to back it up, so they find themselves displeased with this person in the mirror whom they barely recognize. Their arrogance is actually a cover-up for self-doubt.
And as adults we're the same. We also have the tendency to cover up self doubt when we are looking for identity outside of the Savior.
I was reminded recently that Moses was the most humble man on the face of the earth (Num. 12:3). This made me wonder where his humility came from and how I can foster that humility in my own life. Moses was raised in the palace of Egypt as the grandson of Pharaoh. But he was an adopted Hebrew, so he never quite fit in with the royal crowd. He had a speech problem, which likely caused him a lifetime of self-doubt. He killed a man in anger and vengeance. Are these the reasons for Moses' great humility? Did he think so poorly of himself that he was humble? I don't think so. "True humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less" (Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Life).
I believe Moses' humility came from confidence in his relationship with the Father. "The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend" (Ex 33:12). He had nothing to prove to the world because he was intimate with the One who had proven Himself faithful over and over.
We're all able to have the same humility that Moses had, and it comes from the confidence of being with the Father. When we KNOW our place and identity in our Savior, we can be fully confident, and that confidence breeds humility. Today I encourage you to spend time with your Father, asking Him how He sees you. I pray He gives you a beautiful picture from His eyes. I think it will bring you a confidence that will foster humility.
A Little Bit More
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