Are you an Overpacker?
Then Jesus asked them, “When I sent you out without a purse or bag or sandals, did you lack anything?” “Nothing,” they answered.
When you go on a journey, do you under pack? Over pack? Or pack exactly what you need? Admittedly, I am an overpacker. Oftentimes, I don’t know what our plans will be, and because I want to be prepared for everything, I pack every potential item that might be necessary for any possible activity. Oh, and don’t forget to factor in the weather changes - that leads to additional wardrobe options. Can you relate
Recently, my husband and I returned from a getaway. After putting away all of the unused clothes, shoes and other items, I promised myself that next time, I would NOT overpack. Shortly after making that promise, I was reminded that the Lord has a sense of humor. I read when Jesus sent His disciples out to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick, He told them, “Take nothing with you for the journey - no staff, no bag, no bread, no money no extra tunic” (Luke 9:3, NIV). Did Jesus really say “take nothing”? How can you go on a journey without taking everything you might need? They took no walking sticks to help them walk, no bags to carry their necessities, no road-trip snacks; no money for lodging or food and no extra tunics - what if they got cold or one tunic got dirty? Really, take nothing? That is a mystery for overpackers!
The Lord wanted His disciples to depend on Him and not themselves in every situation. They needed nothing because He would provide everything! They took the Word of the Lord and the experiences they had with Jesus and nothing else. Later, “Jesus asked them, ‘When I sent you out … did you lack anything?’ ‘Nothing,’ they answered” (Luke 22:35, NIV). The Lord WILL provide. When we depend on Him we can trust that He will provide and we will lack NOTHING!
When I need to make a decision and over analyze every possible outcome before making a decision, I am definitely overpacking my mind. Recently, after being unable to make some decisions and running out of time for a deadline, I finally cried out, “Lord, I am a hot mess, I need You! I need direction!” When I surrendered, I felt as though the Lord smiled at me and lovingly said that He knew me (and all of my imperfections), He created me, He loved me and He would provide. No condemnation, just a loving response to my honest cry for help and a reminder that in Him, I will lack nothing.
Each day, I need to remember that sometimes I am called to “to take nothing.” To stop packing burdens from yesterday to today and not try to plan for every future activity. Whatever we face, we may totally depend on the Lord and trust that He will meet all of our needs and we will lack nothing.
Serve the Lord With Gladness
“Serve the Lord with gladness…”
If you are a mom, you may feel as though you never get a break! You spend everyday taking care of your family. Although you love them with all your heart, you wonder will this ever get easier? Will I ever get a full night’s sleep? Will my girls ever stop fighting and be friends? Will I ever have a minute alone in a bathroom? Will my boys ever learn how to pee in the toilet and not all over the bathroom wall? Will I ever stop feeling like a taxi driver? Will I ever get to enjoy a piece of “good” chocolate without having to hide it on the top self of the pantry behind the flour, so every time I want a piece I have to make sure no one is awake, find my step stool with all the lights off in the kitchen, just in case they are not really asleep and discover my hidden stash? (I have some experience with this, one can you tell?)
Several years ago, while my boys were still in high school, one played hockey and the other played football. Keeping everyone’s schedule straight was extremely challenging. One particularly crazy night, I came home from work to quickly cook dinner before rushing out to practice. The kitchen was loud, everyone was talking and asking me questions at the same time and looking for things they needed. It felt like a tornado was going through my house. I just wanted some peace and quiet for a little bit.
I was getting very annoyed and the tone of my voice was becoming rude. Just when I was about to snap, I heard the Lord whisper to my heart, “Thank me for your full life.” Tears swelled in my eyes as I realized the Lord had given me an incredible husband and two terrific boys and I was treating them like a burden.
In Mark 10:36-42, the disciples were arguing about who would be the greatest in His Kingdom. In verse 43-44 Jesus said, “Whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be a slave to all.”
The night before Jesus died, he demonstrated His most loving act of service. John 13:3-5 tells us, “Jesus knew that the Father had given him authority over everything and that he had come from God and would return to God. So he got up from the table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his waist, and poured water into a basin. Then he began to wash the disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel he had around him.” Jesus’ position and authority did not keep him from serving, rather it caused Him to do whatever he needed to demonstrate how He wanted his disciples to love and serve each other. As moms, we have been given an opportunity to demonstrate to our children how to serve like Jesus.
Psalm 100:2a says. “Serve the Lord with gladness….” This Psalm is part of a larger Psalm that carries the title “A Psalm for Giving Thanks.” How do we serve the Lord with gladness? By serving those He has placed in our lives with thanksgiving; this leads to gladness instead of seeing our blessings as burdens.
I know being a mom can be a thankless job, and often times it seems like no one notices the ways you serve. But you have a Heavenly Father who sees you. When you serve your family you look like Jesus and He loves to see His Son in you. I challenge you, next time things get crazy and you don’t want to serve one more person, stop and thank Him for your full life. When I choose to do this it always changes my outlook and helps me to “Serve Lord with gladness.”
If Jesus Came to My House
“Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear My voice and open the door, I will come in and we will share a meal together as friends.”
When I was a little girl (six years old, to be exact), a dear family friend gave my sister and me a book. It was entitled, “If Jesus Came to My House,” and was written by Joan Gale Thomas. There are delightful illustrations on each page and the text of the book was a poem.
We kept this book on a particular bookshelf, not with the books that my sister and I could look at any time we wanted. This was a special book and I loved it when my mother read this story to me. The story begins,
“If Jesus came to my house
and knocked upon the door
I’m sure I’d be more happy
Than I’ve ever been before.
If Jesus came to my house
I’d like Him best to be
About the age that I am
And about the height of me.
I’d run downstairs to meet Him,
The door I’d open wide,
And I would say to Jesus,
‘Oh, won’t you come inside?”
That story impressed upon me at a young age, that Jesus wanted to be with me and wanted to be my friend. I could totally relate to the little boy in the story who played host to Jesus on that day. He showed Jesus the most special places in his home and garden, picking flowers for Him and apples from the family tree. The little boy even showed Jesus the places that frightened him in the darker parts of the house, realizing that with Jesus there, those places weren’t so scary any more. He shared his toys with Jesus and let the little Lord Jesus pick out one to take home with him. It seemed like a perfect day to my little imagination.
The story goes on to explain that while Jesus cannot physically come to visit us in our homes, we can gather with others to pray and learn about Him and worship Him. And we can be kind to those around us, sharing what we have and giving our best to them.
Fifty years later, I still have that little book and I keep it on a particular bookshelf. There are days when I still imagine how it would be if my friend, Jesus, came for a visit. We would share a cup of coffee and I would show Him all of my favorite things and places in my home. We would talk and laugh and I would probably even tell Him about my worries and my fears. We would have a lovely day together and I would be sad when it was time for Him to leave. But the happiness we shared that day would linger after I closed the front door as He walked away, and I would smile throughout that evening, thinking of all the sweet time we shared together.
Jesus is always willing to spend time with us. No, He doesn’t physically come over, but He is with us just the same. And He would love nothing more than for us to sit with Him, and tell Him all that is on our minds and in our hearts.
“He has made everything beautiful in its time.” \
Here in sunny Southwest Florida, we don’t experience the Fall in the same way as they do up north. Up north it’s obvious, the colors change, the trees shed their leaves and the weather becomes noticeably cooler. In Florida not much changes in September; it is still hot, humid and we are on hurricane watch. If you’re not paying attention, it is easy to miss the fact that a new season has begun.
For nearly 10 years after being saved, I was very much like the Fall in Florida; I was changed, (saved through faith in Jesus Christ), but I was still experiencing the weather conditions from the previous season of my life. I continued to carry around my shame and regrets, unwilling to release them to the Lord. I thought that somehow if I kept lugging them around that I could make up for the wickedness of my youth. You see, I was a saved Christian, but I was not experiencing my salvation as God intended. I was in a new season, but I was missing out on the fullness of its beauty, because I was too focused on the ugliness of my past.
The Bible says in Psalm 146:8 that, “the Lord gives sight to the blind, the Lord lifts up those who are bowed down, the Lord loves the righteous.”
We serve a God who loves us so much that He refuses to idly watch as His children stay bowed down, cowering in the shadow of what used to be. Instead, He mercifully reaches down and draws us out of the darkness of yesteryear, so that our eyes may be opened to the beauty of a new day lived for Jesus Christ.
Last year in September 2019, God made an obvious change in my spirit as He lifted me out of a season of lingering despair and opened my eyes to a new era of joy. He had given me healing from hurt that I never thought I could get over. Until that moment, I was unaware of what it truly felt like to live as a new creation in Jesus Christ. I learned that God does not just want us to be saved, but that He truly wants us to thrive in our salvation.
The Lord has ushered me into a new season and He has plans for me. When I was still carrying around the burdens of my past, my hands were not free to do His work, but now I live with my palms open wide, without shame and ready to serve Him. I may not be able to see what the future seasons of life will hold, but I know the God who holds the seasons. I know that He is faithful and that He will make all things beautiful in His timing.
If we aren’t thriving in our salvation, then we are missing out on the glory of what the Lord has done for us. He has given us new life. He has said that, the old is gone and the new has come. Oh, sweet friends, like a northern Fall, let the change that we experience through faith in Jesus Christ be beautiful and obvious.
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.