"The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives." Psalm 37:23 (NLT)
How well do you sleep at night? My hard-working husband is a great sleeper! In fact, he has “nappetizers” on a regular basis. Nappetizer is a word I created that describes his nap before bedtime. After dinner, he can fall asleep within two minutes of sitting on the couch, sleep through one or two movies, get off the couch, go to bed and quickly fall into another deep sleep. He definitely has the gift of sleeping! As for me, sometimes, I lie in bed awake. Praying. Planning. Reflecting.
Recently, I was laying in bed, reviewing the day. My thoughts were like this:
This was a really good day, I was able to spend time in the Word, visit with family, but I….
should have called my sister.
should have mailed that card today.
should have taken time to exercise.
should be a better Christian. Wife. Mother. Step-mother. Nana. Daughter. Friend. Neighbor….
Quickly, I felt defeated and discouraged as I was drowning in “shoulds.” Do you ever do that? Let your thoughts spiral downward? We should stop doing that - I mean - we need to STOP doing that!! There are many distractions in this world and many things, important things, competing for our attention. How do we know what, when and how to get it all done? Regardless of what season of life you are in, this struggle is real!
We are busy; busy serving the Lord, our families and others. The woman described in Proverbs 31 was busy and productive. “She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for the task.” And, “She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness” (Proverbs 31:17, 27, NIV). Sometimes, I am very busy yet unproductive, and, I confess, sometimes I simply waste time. Thankfully, I am a work in progress.
As I was struggling with all that I should have done that day, the Lord brought these words to mind: “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord; and He delights in his way” (NKJV). Another version states: “The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives” (Psalm 37:23, NLT). Since that evening, I have been asking the Lord to order my steps; who and what to pray for, who to call or visit and how to plan my schedule.
When we surrender each day to the Lord and He directs our steps, we can be confident that we are doing exactly what needs to be done. Additionally, we experience freedom; knowing that if we are following Him and something we thought we should have done, didn't get done, we know that what we did — was His best. Also, we can have joy knowing that He delights in every detail of our life!
Remind yourself on a daily basis that the Lord will order your steps and He delights in every detail of your life.
“Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts!” Psalms 139:2
I can say and do some crazy things when I am excited. This past February, my family and I were on vacation and I was broiling meat in the oven for dinner. Five minutes into the cooking process, smoke started billowing out of the oven. I opened the oven and discovered the grease from the meat was on fire. I pulled the meat out of the oven and extinguished the flames. The condo was full of smoke and the smoke alarm was blasting. While the boys fanned the smoke away from the alarm, I flipped the meat over and stuck it back under the broiler.
In an effort to clear the smoke from the condo faster, I tried creating a cross breeze by opening the sliding glass door and the front door that led to a hallway. As I opened the front I looked back at the oven. Once again smoke was billowing out and when I opened the oven door I discovered that the grease from the meat was on fire again!
While the smoke alarm was going off, I said to my husband Sean, “We need to call the front desk so they know we don’t have a fire.” Just as I finished my sentence the fire alarm in the hallway started screaming. Now the whole building is fully aware of my inability to safely broil meat.
Just then the phone rang, I forcefully pointed to the phone and yelled at the top of my lungs “WE ARE NOT ON FIRE!” My husband simply said, “I know”. He calmly answered the phone with “Hello?” like nothing was going on. Condo management was calling because their central monitoring system indicated two activated fire alarms and they wanted to know if they needed to call 911.
After the smoke cleared and the fire alarms stopped, we sat down to charred meat and we began laughing uncontrollably. No one could figure out why I put the meat back in the oven after it caught on fire the first time or why I yelled, “We are not on fire!”
Although there is some humor in this situation, the things we say and do under stress can be surprising and can reveal what is really going on in our hearts. C.S. Lewis gives some keen insight in his book Mere Christianity when he explains how our sinful actions often occur when we are caught off guard by unexpected, stressful situations. He remarked, “Surely what pops out before the man has time to put on a disguise is the truth.”
So often we pray for a trouble-free life, but it is these troubles that help us see the sin we excuse or ignore. When life is easy and things are going our way, we can be blind to the sin that is lurking in our hearts. The Lord will use the pressure and stress of life, to reveal what is really going on deep inside. David prayed, “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!” Psalms 139:23-24 (ESV)
This is a very different prayer than the prayer for a trouble-free life. This prayer expresses a desire for the Holy Spirit to conform us into the image of Christ. This is the kind of prayer I want to have the strength and faith to pray.
: “But Ruth replied, ‘Don’t ask me to leave you and turn back. Wherever you go, I will go; wherever you live, I will live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God.”'
I have never liked change. Never. Ever. I once heard a pastor say that change creates momentum. I doubted his words. But over the last many years I have realized that change can create momentum; change can be inspiring.
As a child, change bothered me, sometimes deeply. I always wanted to be the person who grew up and lived my adult life in the same small town. But that is not what God had in store.
My family moved twice during my childhood. When I married a man, who had always lived in his hometown, I thought we would remain in that town forever. We didn’t.
In our second year of marriage, we moved to another continent. It was hard, but it was also good. After that first BIG move, my husband and I moved five more times, taking our growing family with us. It was always hard, but it always turned out to be good.
A few years ago, I was sitting with my mother-in-law in her hospital room. In a quiet moment she looked me in the eye and asked if we would move back to my husband’s hometown to be close to her. I immediately said yes.
A simple request and a simple answer. But to uproot ourselves from our family home of 17 years would not be easy.
My mother-in-law and I had never had a Naomi and Ruth kind of relationship, far from it. But God had done a work in both our hearts and in the final few months of her life, I was willing to do just about anything she might ask of me, including moving.
Naomi and Ruth had a beautiful relationship. Naomi had welcomed Ruth, the Moabitess, into her family. Naomi must have taught Ruth about her God, because Ruth came to trust in the God of Israel.
Naomi had experienced the loss of her husband in a foreign land and then the loss of her two sons. One of those sons was Ruth’s husband. But rather than remain in her homeland, the widow Ruth chose to travel with the widow Naomi to Israel.
Ruth’s loyalty to Naomi is admirable. Ruth worked to provide for herself and her mother-in-law. They made a home together. The people in that small Israelite towntook notice of the kind foreigner who was good to her mother-in-law.
God honored both Ruth and Naomi and provided for them in amazing ways. God redeemed the loss and change they had experienced through Naomi’s close relative, Boaz. And God would bless coming generations because Ruth and Boaz would become ancestors of God’s Messiah, Jesus.
Ruth embraced and befriended her mother-in-law Naomi; Naomi’s God embraced and befriended Ruth. The two women were given a place in God’s story of salvation for the human race. They endured loss, hardship, mercy, grace, and redemption. All of the change they braved was for their good and God’s glory.
During the last few months many have experienced change due to the COVID19 pandemic. For some the changes have been immense. For my husband and me, the pandemic occurred as we moved once again, back to my husband’s hometown. My mother-in-law is probably smiling in heaven. As we all adjust to new normals, may God bless you through all of the changes.
"This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!”
I’m pretty skeptical about infomercials, especially of the ones that are showcasing a new All-Purpose cleaner. They always show a ‘before’ image of a white t-shirt with a red wine stain on it and then the ‘after’ image of a now spotless t-shirt. I always think to myself, “there’s just no way that it works that good.”
When I think of stains, I’m reminded of a time when I was a teenager; my cousin Mandi was over and we were sitting at the table painting our nails. My parents had just recently re-carpeted the first floor of our home, which included the dining room where we were sitting. I’m not sure how it happened, but we managed to spill a drop of blue nail polish right onto the brand new mauve carpeting.
Oh boy, were we going to be in trouble! We panicked and all that we could think about was how we could get rid of that stain before my mom saw what we had done. In all of our youthful ignorance, we decided “duh, nail polish remover.” (I’m sure that you can guess how that turned out.) By the time that my mom got home, all that Mandi and I could do was beg for mercy, because what had started as just a small spot of polish, had grown into a colossal patch of discolored carpet. The more that we tried to scrub it out, the bigger the stain became.
We do foolish things out of fear! Perhaps that’s why God reminds us repeatedly in His word to not be afraid. As teenage girls, Mandi and I were scared of being punished and as a result, we worked really hard to avoid it. In the end, much like our attempted righteous works before God, our efforts were not enough to clean up the mess that we had made.
Eventually my mom came home and in her best efforts, she tried to repair what we had done, but after a while, she conceded to the irreversibility of the stain and just put a rug over it. The stain was covered up, but it wasn’t gone. If that rug ever gets moved, the stain will still be there, clear as day, on that mauve carpet.
For some of us, this is how we can feel about the sins and regrets of our past; like we have a permanent blemish that cannot be removed, only concealed. Even after finding salvation through Jesus Christ, we can still feel as though we are hopelessly and irreversibly stained from the guilt of our choices.
This is not what God wants for us. He didn't send Jesus to the cross for us to only experience partial salvation and restoration; He wants us to be made entirely new through His sacrifice.
(see 2 Cor. 5:17).
The Bible says in Psalm 103:12 that, “as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” You see, the Lord doesn’t just conceal our mistakes, leaving us with stains that are simply hidden from plain view, He removes them from us completely. He washes away our crimson stains and offers us a new life in Him. Jesus Christ alone, is the All-Purpose Cleaner that we need to become truly spotless.
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, have five children, one son-in-law, one soon to be daughter-in-law, and one wonderful grandson. Donna and Bryan have recently moved back to their home state of Arkansas after livingin southeast Alabama the past 23 years. 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.