Don't Eat That
“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts."
When my son started to crawl, he loved putting every little thing in his mouth. I remember one particular instance, when he was 10 months old; he was trying to put a piece of plastic in his mouth. I took it out of his hand, and he was so mad at me! I was thinking to myself, “You have no idea that I’m keeping you from harm.” In his baby mind, he couldn’t understand why I was taking something away from him, something that he thought was a special treat. But from my motherly perspective, I knew that I was potentially saving him from harming himself.
When we get older, we understand why we shouldn’t put things like pieces of plastic in our mouths, because they can bring us harm. There are, however, still many things that we don’t understand. We don’t understand why certain things happen to us, or why things or people are taken away from us. We don’t understand why something was not given to us that we desperately wanted. In our finite minds, it may make no sense to us why He would allow these things to happen, but from His Fatherly (and infinite) perspective, He knows the exact reason. In Isaiah 55:9, God tells us, “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.”
In 2018, my husband and I suffered a miscarriage. A couple of months later, we decided we wanted to try to have another baby. Little did we know how long we would be waiting. As each month went by, and each pregnancy test came back negative, our hearts would hurt. However, throughout these months, God pressed on my heart that, although I did not understand why He allowed me to miscarry our last baby, and now we were not getting pregnant again, I could rest in the fact that His plans were higher than my plans and desires. His Word also tells us in Jeremiah 29:11, “’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.”’ When I was finally able to surrender to this truth, it actually brought peace, because I knew if God did decide to bless us with another baby, it would be His perfect plan and timing. I also knew, although difficult to grasp, that if His plan was for me to never carry a baby in my womb again, it would be for my good and His glory. I’m so thankful that we serve a God who is sovereign over all, even when we don’t understand. As we walk through trials or are showered with blessings, we can always trust in our Father, knowing His ways are far greater than our own.
(I am so thankful to be able to tell you that after 13 months of trying, God blessed us with a positive pregnancy test and that sweet baby is due at the end of September.)
Watching Spring Unfold
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, and look, new things have come.”
I recently had the privilege of watching Spring unfold as I was visiting my Mama in Tennessee. It was so amazing to experience God’s handiwork! Where there was just dirt in front of my Mama's porch, He brought forth lush Hosta plants. Each day, they grew and became brighter in color. Tulips bloomed, along with a variety of other flowers my Mom grows and takes care of; beautiful, vibrant colors blossomed. Flowers would appear in random places around the yard where they weren't the previous day.
I also got to witness a hardworking Mama bird building an intricate nest that will house her and her future baby birds. Moment by moment, she would flutter about gathering moss and twigs for her dwelling place. Oh...and the baby cows! Those little ones were so much fun to watch as they ran and jumped around the field. Two of the calves would get into a head-butting contest almost every night before dinner, which was hilarious! The joy they found in their new life was contagious.
The songs of the birds each morning awakened us to the new day God brought forth was beautiful. The sunset out of my Mama's back window kissed us goodnight with colors of pink, purples and oranges. A reminder that God is there all the time with us. And the stars! Clear and bright under the blanket of night in the country.
As I was exploring the yard one day with my three year old son, Asher, admiring all that was around me, these encounters reminded me that God creates all things new, and along with the birds of the sky and lilies of the valleys, He clothes His children in vibrant, beautiful clothing as well.
Last fall, I attended a Beth Moore Simulcast. She challenged us to clean out our closets, get rid of the things that don’t fit us as daughters of the King: shame, doubt, fear, failure. And to put on the clothes that fit us as coheirs of Christ:
Let’s clean out the closets of our hearts. Jesus is waiting to clothe us in His beauty.
“He is not here; He has risen!”
A couple of years ago, my husband and I were driving in Georgia and saw a sign outside of a country church that really confused me. I repeated it several times before I finally understood it. The sign stated:
Please read it again- maybe a couple of times until the truth sinks in - because when you get it - you will never forget it!
There are so many lies in this world that we desperately need real eyes to realize those real lies. Lies such as: Things will make me happy.
That was the day Jesus the Christ, the sinless only begotten Son of God the Father was crucified; nailed to a cross for you and for me. That was the day the father of lies thought he was victorious over God the Creator. That was the day when Jesus said, “It is finished” and gave up His Spirit (John 19:30). A day when Mary, the mother of Jesus, the disciples and all those around Him were devastated because the perfect Man they had walked with, ate with, loved, had seen perform countless miracles, was beaten beyond recognition, mocked and then died.
Darkness came over the entire land on that Friday (Luke 23:44, NIV). Saturday would have brought more of the same: people walking around in a daze, weeping and mourning. At at that moment, everything appeared hopeless! If you are facing a challenging situation, remember….. that was Friday and Sunday was coming! On Sunday, their grief would turn to joy (John 16:20, NIV).
On Sunday, Abba, Father, breathed life back into Jesus. Jesus got up, folded His burial clothes (John 20:7, NKJV) and exited that borrowed grave. When the women went to visit the tomb, they found the stone had been rolled away and the angel of the Lord said, “He is not here; He has risen!” (Luke 24, NIV) Let’s all shout, “HALLELUJAH!!!” That, my precious friend, is TRUTH - that was the power, the wonder-working power of Almighty God that is still available for us today.
On that day, their eyes were opened. Jesus said, “you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in Me, and I am in you” (John 14:20, NIV). As we confess Jesus as Lord, He is in us! He has given us real eyes to realize those real lies that are trying to steal our joy! Fix your eyes on Him, and soon your grief will turn to joy.
Walking in Wisdom
“But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.”
If you’ve been reading the Word of Encouragement for any length of time you will know I have a good dog who makes very bad choices. Last week he once again tested the limits of my patience.
My family and I just sat down to a steak dinner. I began to pray over our meal, (heads bowed, eyes closed) when my son Alex yelled, “GET DOWN!” Stunned by the sudden outburst in the middle of our prayer, I looked up to see our dog, Tahoe, pulling a steak off the counter and gulping it down.
After we got Tahoe out of the kitchen, his belly full of steak, we sat down and continued to pray. Again, in the middle of our prayer Alex shouted, “GET DOWN!” Tahoe was back on the counter looking for another steak. I know I may be giving him more credit than he deserves, but the fact that he did it twice convinces me that he was just waiting for us to close our eyes to pray so he could steal that steak. Merriam Webster’s third definition of wise is “clever or crafty”, so by that definition I have a wise dog.
Isaiah 5:21 says, “Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and think themselves so clever.” (ESV) Proverbs 16:25 gives us further warning “There is a way that seems right to man, but in the end it leads to destruction.”(ESV) James 3:14-16 tells us worldly wisdom produces “bitter jealousy and selfish ambition” and the fruit of this wisdom is “disorder and every vile practice.” Worldly wisdom is full of pride. It says, “God you won’t give me what I want, so I will get it myself”. Worldly wisdom refuses to seek the Lord’s direction and in the end it “leads to destruction.”
Godly wisdom is different. It is a combination of knowing what the Lord wants you to do and taking it a step further by walking it out. King Solomon is a good example of the contrast between being wise and walking in wisdom. 1 Kings 3:3 tells us that Solomon loved the Lord and followed all the decrees of his father David. 2 Chronicles 9:22-23 says, “So King Solomon became richer and wiser than any other king on earth. Kings from every nation came to consult him and to hear the wisdom God had given him.” (NLT)
But later in life, Solomon began to trust in his own wisdom instead of following God and his life ended poorly. Solomon disobeyed the Lord and took many wives, 500 to be exact, and 300 concubines. These women led Solomon into idol worship. The worship of these idols included child sacrifice and prostitution. Because of Solomon’s sin Israel was divided into two warring kingdoms. The story of Solomon’s life demonstrates the kind of worldly wisdom that James described as resulting in “disorder and evil of every
James also wrote about the wisdom that comes from God. God’s wisdom is meek, kind, gentle and full of mercy and peace. The fruit of this wisdom looks like Jesus.
In the midst of the world health crisis, we face a choice, will we walk in worldly wisdom or godly wisdom? Will we lean on our own understanding and become selfish, looking out for our own interests? Or will we walk in godly wisdom that produces fruit that looks like Jesus to a lost and frightened world? By the power of the Holy Spirit I want to choose godly wisdom, don’t you?
My precious husband, Bill, and I have been planted in Fort Myers, Florida for almost 35 years. As a newly married couple, God most graciously had placed people in both of our jobs to share Christ with us. Its hard to believe it has been almost 34 years since we asked Jesus into our hearts! Bill and I have been blessed with four children, 3 daughters, then a son. These blessings came quickly, all within 6 years!! During these years I'm so thankful I was able to be part of women's ministry classes at our church, helping me to grow in my walk with Him. Then came the day when I was asked that question that stretched me way outside of my comfort zone...will you teach a class? Its hard to believe that I have now been teaching more than 20 years. Bill and I love to travel, most of the time going to visit our 9 grandchildren, oh ya, and their parents! I also love reading, walking and hanging out with some very special young moms in Beloved that bless my socks off!
Julie is a Kansas girl who resides in sunny Southwest Florida. She's been married to her husband Sean for 23 years and they share two boys ages 21 & 17. She enjoys baking and biking, but her absolute favorite thing is snow skiing which is a little difficult to do in a sandy 80 degree land.
She became a follower of Christ at age 10. She loves studying and teaching God's Word. She has a passion for encouraging moms to love and follow Jesus.
Beth grew up in a loving home; however, in her early 20s she faced a very lonely time. During that time, she cried out to God and asked “If You are real, please show yourself to me!” God met her where she was and she trusted in the Lord Jesus at that time. Her life verse and desire is “no matter what happens, to conduct herself in a manner worthy of the gospel.” Philippians 1:27
Beth now resides in Tampa, Florida with her husband Larry. The Lord has blessed them by blending their family of five children. They currently have eight grandchildren and are hoping that there will be more grandchildren in the future.
Donna accepted Jesus as her Savior at the age of nine and has been amazed at God’s goodness and faithfulness throughout her life. She has been blessed to have had many mentors through each season of life, who have shown her what trusting God looks like. Donna and her husband, Bryan, make their home in central Arkansas. They have five grown children and are grandparents to wonderful grandchildren. Donna enjoys spending time with her family, laughing with friends (usually over coffee), going for long walks with her husband, and reading a good book (which may also be accompanied by a cup of coffee).
Sarah is a true Florida Cracker. She was born and raised in Southwest Florida. At the age of 6, Sarah accepted Jesus as her Lord and Savior, and she hasn't looked back since. Hebrews 13:8 is one of her favorite verses, "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever." Eating delicious desserts, spending time with her family and friends, and teaching people about Jesus are a few of the things she enjoys to do in her spare time.
Sarah has been married to her best friend and husband, Brandon, for 7 years. They have been blessed with one beautiful, determined son, Asher, who keeps them on their toes. Sarah and her family live in the Tampa area. They love exploring their community together, family hugs, and eating pizza whenever possible.
Katie Flint just recently moved back home to Fort Myers, Florida with her husband, Ryan and two children, Collins and Madden. At the age of 5, Katie accepted Jesus Christ to be the Lord and Savior of her life, after attending Vacation Bible School. Through each phase of her life, God has shown her that He alone is trustworthy. The verse that has been her life source is Psalm 46:10- “Be still and know that I am God.”
She is a stay-at-home mom and enjoys exercising and baking. She has been married to her husband Ryan for almost 9 years, who is her high school sweetheart. They enjoy trying new restaurants, family trips to the beach, and relaxing at home.
Marsha grew up in a small rural town in upstate New York. In 2006, after finishing college, she moved to sunny SW Florida where she met her, now husband, Shawn. Together they enjoy spending family time with their two fun-loving toddler boys Zachariah and Kairos.
Marsha enjoys living an active lifestyle, which is helpful, considering that her favorite hobby is baking.
Though she attended church as a child, Marsha was not saved until adulthood when her eyes were finally opened to the love and mercy of Jesus Christ.
Since being saved, God has placed a loving burden on her heart to share the truth about God’s healing grace with those who may feel like forgiveness is not possible for them.