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Inquisitive wonder

At five-month-old, our puppy Blue looks at the world with such wonder. When he sees a bug moving on the ground he stares intently, watching its every move until he decides to touch or maybe taste the fascinating object.

When we take Blue for a walk, he is amazed at the falling leaves. He tries to pounce on them until there are too many for him to get, or until something else begs for his attention. He has such wonder for the world. Such curiosity. It’s similar to a little kid seeing fireworks for the first time or noticing an airplane in the sky.

This reminds me of our faith journey. When we are young, we are easily impressed with the world around us. As we age, the marvels of the world can become mundane. I appreciate watching my puppy explore the world. It reminds me how amazing this place is that God created. Do we still look at this world with wonder and interest? Do we marvel at the little things? Most importantly, do we gaze at the Bible with focus and intentionality?

While Blue’s attention span might be limited, his ability to notice the interesting in the everyday does not escape me. You don’t have to go out and buy a puppy in order to pay attention to the details of life. It just takes some intentionality and the ability to slow down long enough to observe the beauty around you.

I pray we all take time to marvel at the world around us, at God’s creation, and appreciate His works.

“How great are your works, O Lord!” (Psalm 92:5)

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Puppy Passion

We recently got a new puppy and named him Blue. Our three daughters adore him. My husband and I have also grown quite fond of him. Blue doesn’t deserve this love. In fact, he’s destructive and bites everyone non-stop. His actions don’t merit our unconditional love for him. Yet, we give it to him anyway.

Blue rips holes in our shirts, unties our shoes, and steals our sneakers. A few minutes after he is naughty we come to tell him how adorable he is. He can hardly do wrong in our eyes.

This reminds me of our faith journey. We can be like this puppy at times. We know what we are supposed to do but still choose to make poor decisions. We mess up all the time. We forget to praise the Lord. We don’t show gratitude and we lack trust and obedience. For all of our mess-ups, God is still waiting for us to come back to Him.

It’s amazing if you think about it. We sin over and over again. We only need to come humbly to our Father and ask for forgiveness. My family’s love for Blue doesn’t change based on his behavior. Neither does God’s love for us.

We hide from God embarrassed of our mistakes. God wants us to come to Him. Sin separates us from God when we let it. Don’t let pride or anything come in between you and our amazing Father. Repent and turn toward Him.

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Clean Slate

One afternoon I was tinkering with my phone. For a long time, I haven’t been able to add my husband to any calendar events. With a new school year starting, I was determined to resolve the problem. After getting some help from someone way more technologically savvy than myself, the problem was fixed. The only downside was all of my calendar entries had been removed.

I had a clean slate. Literally, nothing was on there. I kept waiting for myself to freak out, but I never did. It was oddly freeing. I actually sat there and relished the brief moment. I wasn’t ready to load up the calendar again. I knew, that as soon as I entered the fall activities and the school schedule, my clean slate would be gone.

This reminds me of our faith journey. We get a clean slate every day, all we have to do is ask for it from our Heavenly Father. He washes us clean as we repent. Just like my calendar had a fresh start, we get that same new beginning, just by asking.

God wants us to bring our sin to Him. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)

We are all in the same boat. We all mess up. God already knows what we’ve done. Thankfully we have an amazing Father who wants to free us of our burdens. Let Him.

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Galled Goats

My girls and I were visiting Lancaster County in Pennsylvania. We were walking through a small animal farm admiring some goats. Of the three goats, the largest didn’t have horns. The fascinating part is I don’t think he realized he didn’t have horns. He would jump up and butt heads with another acting as if he had them on. All his actions and movements mimicked the other goats, other than he was hornless.

This reminds me of our faith journey. We are going to experience trouble in this world. In fact, the Psalms predict this. “Our days may come to seventy years, or eighty, if our strength endures; yet the best of them are but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away.” (Psalms 90:10)

Our struggles are not against flesh and blood, but rather the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (Ephesians 6:12) This goat reminded me of our struggles with Satan. He will continue to attack God’s people, but the good news is God has already won the war. Satan may knock you down, but he can’t take you out unless you let him.

The goat we observed fought as if he had horns. Satan attacks us as if he were god, but he’s not. God tells us to “put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground.” (Ephesians 6:13)

Equip yourself with God’s infallible word, and protect yourself with prayer. Don’t be surprised when the struggles come, but remember the hope that comes in Jesus Christ.  

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Savoring the Smile

We’ve had a lot of dental work done lately. Lots of lost teeth, spacers being put in, molds being made, braces, etc. This is probably why teeth are on my mind.

My kid’s joke I should have been a dentist, or a dental hygenist. I find all teeth-related things fascinating, especially when my kids have an adult tooth trying to emerge into its new home. My kids get annoyed when I keep asking them to open their mouths so I can see how the new teeth are coming in. It’s amazing to me how one day you can see a tiny little white spec, then weeks or months later, an adult tooth or moler is in its resting place. How is that possible? How do they know where to go and how fast to travel down the path? Watching this process happen is enthralling. God is amazing in how he designed us.

How could teeth possibly remind me of our faith journey? Well, they arrive slowly yet surely. They move in such small increments we can’t visibility see them. We only see movement in days, weeks, and sometimes months. Isn’t that like our faith journey? God slowly works to sanctify us, one act of repentance and forgiveness at a time. He slowly molds and changes our hearts. He doesn’t work quickly, but rather over the long run. You can’t judge the changes in your heart daily, you need to look at the long view. Only then can you identify how He has been working in your life.

When you look at an x-ray, you can see the teeth that are not visible from a human eye, the ones coming down the track. You can’t rush them, they come in at their own pace. Even with modern medicine, a dentist or orthodontist doesn’t have a way to fast-track the process.

God does not rush our sanctification process. His timing is perfect and divine. We may wish He would hit the fast forward button but it’s to our benefit He doesn’t. He will teach us what we need to learn in His timing, not ours.

When He calls us home, hopefully we have a beautiful set of adult teeth all perfectly in their spot. Ok enough with the dental analogies. Our goal is to become more Christ-like on earth. To grow and develop in the areas He wants us to. We won’t ever achieve perfection like Jesus, but we can still grow and be strengthened in Him.

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Suddenly Spraying

We were on a family vacation one summer and traveled west to a dude ranch. My sister-in-law and I decided to go on a hike. We were heading back to the ranch following the dirt road when I grabbed something out of my backpack. As I swung my backpack around, I heard a thump on the ground. We both looked at each other wondering what had made the loud noise. Before I turned fully around it dawned on me what the item was. It sounded like a soda can falling to the ground. Only we didn’t have any soda with us. The bear spray I had in the side pocket had slipped out, crashed to the ground, and popped open.

As this realization dawned on me, I took off running and yelled for my sister-in-law to get out of there. When we were a safe distance away, we turned around and watched the can spinning in circles. Thankfully, somehow when it popped open it was facing down and sprayed the dirt road instead of into the air around us. We were extremely lucky to have escaped its harmful ingredients. Of course, after we were out of harm’s way, we looked at each other and started laughing. How in the world did that happen?

We went back later to pick up the can and dispose of it. We were grateful to have escaped the situation. I was a little disappointed I had used our one and only bear spray container.

This reminds me of our faith journey. The way my sister-in-law and I took off sprinting away from the bear spray is also how we Christians should run away from sin and temptation as if our life depended on it. The Bible says, “So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.” (2 Timothy 2:22)

1 Corinthians 6:18 states, “Flee from sexual immorality.” 1 Corinthians 10:14 says, “Flee from idolatry.”

The Bible is clear about running away from sin. May we turn and sprint from these things. We are called to, “Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness.” (1 Timothy 5-6).

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Mortifying the Mint

One beautiful spring day, I was planting flowers in pots. My eleven-year-old daughter came outside and joined me. We finished planting all the pots and decided to tackle the beds which needed to be weeded. Someone who lived in our house prior must have planted mint and it has taken over. Every year we try to exterminate the mint, but it proceeds to come back.

My daughter and I headed over to the beds and started pulling the mint up. You can pull it out, but underneath there are more roots you must find. Mint sends out runners that spread above and just below the ground. It quickly takes over an area. We discovered groups of it growing up into other flowers. We spent about an hour pulling up piles of mint. My daughter commented on how fun it was. Thankfully the roots come up easy and it’s very rewarding to make a lot of progress quickly.

This reminds me of our faith journey. Mint is like our sin. It will continue to spread and reappear until we mortify it. We must keep digging and digging until we find the roots, pull them up and dispose of them.

Pulling up the mint from our beds was tedious, tiring, and overwhelming at times. However, it was worth the effort. I can now gaze at the flower beds and appreciate how pronounced the flowers are without the mint resting aside them.

Unless we truly mortify our sin, it will continue to reappear and cause havoc inside us, spreading to areas of our lives we didn’t intend it to impact.

Thankfully we have a loving Father who can help us and is there to forgive us. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)

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Arriving Ahead

One year we were on vacation with my family. My kids were having a blast spending time with their cousin. We were headed out to dinner and were a larger group, so some were going in the rental car, and the rest were riding in a shuttle van. The van showed up and was ready to load passengers. We were hustling around grabbing last-minute items before we left.

The kids (there were four of them) wanted to ride in the shuttle van so they jumped aboard. A few minutes later the van pulled away. We quickly realized there were no adults aboard the van. The kids spanned ages from thirteen to six and were a fairly responsible group (for children), but we never intended on sending them alone. The impressive (or scary) thing is how they convinced the van driver to leave without a parent. Once we realized the kids were on their way without us, we hustled into the car and hurried to meet them.

The kids, sure enough, were waiting for us at the restaurant. They were beaming with pride from their adventure and were surprised when we didn’t match their enthusiasm. We chatted with them about how we were glad they made it safely, but next time they are not to leave without an adult. We expressed our concern for their safety and explained why their decision to drive off without us was not safe.

This reminds me of our faith journey. Sometimes we like to forge ahead, we make our plans and ask God to bless our path. This usually turns out how the adventure with my kids went. We might reach the destination, but if it wasn’t God’s plan for us, something is usually missing. We rush ahead convinced we know what is best, forgetting to ask God to align our will with His will. When things don’t work out as we planned, we are disappointed.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9)

May we keep in step with the Spirit, for the steps of a man are established by the Lord. (Galatians 5:25 & Psalms 37:23)

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Cheerfully Chosen

My husband and my daughters submitted a video to be considered in a photoshoot for a hunting organization. My husband Jonathan loves to hunt so this was a natural fit.

I helped them take a few videos and pictures while dressed in head-to-toe camo, and Jonathan sent them off. A week later, he was told he had been selected and they also wanted one of our daughters.

My husband was out of town when he got the news. We called him and I put my daughter on the phone. She hung up the phone after speaking with him and had the most precious look on her face. Her smile got huge, she looked into my eyes and tenderly said, “They picked me.” She spoke with surprise, humility, and delight. She seemed shocked they had chosen her.

This reminds me of our faith journey. We all desperately want to be known, seen, and heard. My daughter’s humility spoke of her character. I was excited for her. It feels good to be chosen, and it was important for this pre-teen girl to be seen and selected.

The great news is God sees you and me every day! He loves you and never takes His eyes off you. Wow! That is hard to comprehend. If only we walked around with that confidence every day, letting the negative comments bounce off us.

God knows you and loves you. Getting that information into our hearts takes some work, and an enemy is trying to block that truth from penetrating. Psalm 139:1 states, “O Lord, you have searched me and known me!”

If I could share her joy that afternoon, I would. That same joy felt by my daughter can be felt by you. You are known, loved, and cared for by the One that matters most.

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Flying with Freedom

How Christ’s sacrifice was meant to set us free from sin.

In the back of our house, we have a screened-in porch. The screen is starting to show signs of aging but there are no huge obvious holes. There are a few small slits, but it should keep out larger animals, or so we thought.

One day my eye caught motion inside the porch. When I went out to examine, I found a bird flying around fluttering from one corner to the next, obviously very distressed. I opened the door to the outside and walked at an angle towards the bird to entice it to fly away from me, towards freedom.

The first time this happened it took us by complete surprise. After the third one, my husband and I now take turns freeing the birds. I still don’t know how they make their way in, but I’m thankful we have been able to help them find freedom.

This reminds me of our faith journey. A lot of people find themselves like those birds, stuck inside four walls, not being able to find the exit. They fly around stuck in their sin not seeing a way out. Satan is good at helping us find this spot. He likes us here, convincing us we don’t deserve otherwise. God says something very different.

Jesus has ALREADY made a way out for you and me through His sacrifice! You don’t have to wait for someone to come open the door and let you out, He took care of that when He died on the cross. He made a way out for all of us! It’s pretty incredible if you think about it.

Are you ready to accept the freedom waiting for you outside those four walls? Are you ready to experience the path God has for you? Are you ready to turn over your sin to Jesus and follow him?

“For freedom Christ has set us free.” (Galatians 5:1)