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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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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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Smothering the Scent

One evening I headed upstairs to put my kids to bed. As I walked into my youngest daughter’s room (who is seven), I was blasted with a pungent smell. She immediately started saying sorry and explained the reason for the odor.

She had opened a container of nail polish. She didn’t actually put any on, but the act of opening the jar had smelled up her room. In our house nail polish needs to be done in the bathroom, and usually with mom’s permission.

When she realized the intense odor, she came up with plan B. Plan B involved taking hand sanitizer, rubbing it all over her hands, and waving them around the room. When this only increased the aroma in her room, she went to plan C, call in re-enforcements (big sister).

When I entered the room, older sister is by an open window (in the middle of winter) and I had a hard time distinguishing what scent I smelled. The two of them were scurrying around the room trying to make the odor disappear. I was especially light-hearted about this incident after I realized no harm was done, no property was destroyed, and no one was injured.

This reminds me of our faith journey. We sometimes try so hard to cover up our sin to God. We act as if we can hide things from Him. Instead of humbly coming to God and confessing our sins, we cover over them, or at least try to, just like my daughter did (usually making the situation worse).

Jesus died so we don’t have to carry around sin and burden we were not meant to carry. Don’t hide your sin from God, take it to Him, and let Him wash you clean. Remember the sacrifice He made for us and live in the freedom He desires for you. “For freedom Christ has set us free.” (Galatians 5:1)

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Clothes for the In-between

One beautiful fall Saturday, I took my oldest daughter shopping for clothes. I relish these opportunities when I get a chance to spend one-on-one time. Sometimes it takes a child growing out of her clothes to permit the occasion.

She is twelve but almost my height. She has long legs and everything in the kids’ section is too short and won’t fit after one wash. We found a few items in the ladies’ section, but most of the clothes were not made for a twelve-year-old body.

After a few hours of shopping, we pieced enough clothes together for her to have something to wear for fall and winter. It’s tough to be in between sizes. She’s not a woman, yet she’s not a little kid anymore.

This reminds me of our faith journey. As adult Christians, we are no longer children, ignorant and innocent. We are aware of our sin patterns and usually know the paths we should take. However, we retain our childish tendencies such as refusing to ask for forgiveness and wanting to do things our way.

Even mature Christians don’t feel worthy or deserving of the freedom and guidance God provides. It’s hard for us to step into and accept the unlimited help Jesus provides. We still like to figure it out for ourselves, leaning on our own understanding. I don’t think we will ever feel truly worthy of fitting in the clothes Jesus has for us.

We don’t have to think we have mastered everything in the faith. We are in the in-between place until Jesus comes again. We get to feel unqualified and unequipped because we have Jesus to fill in the gaps. He is there to cover our inadequacies. We get to be limited in our physical, mental, and spiritual abilities because He is unlimited. He loves us as we seek to know Him. He puts us back on the path when we wander off. He comforts us when the sin of this world is too much for us to handle.

As you seek Him, He will continue to clothe you with His goodness. “Put on Christ.” (Gal. 3:27)

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Hovering Horse

How God’s protection for us mimics that of a mare watching over her foul.

We had the opportunity to stay at a dude ranch in Montana. The ranch owned over one hundred horses. They had seven new fouls among the herd.

They begin training the fouls when they are very young to be comfortable around people. They separate each mommy and baby pair to work with the fouls individually. They halter the momma, and the foul scampers behind. It’s adorable to watch.

I snapped this picture one morning as I finished up breakfast. I observed the mare leaning over her young in a protective alert stance.

The foul was finishing a mid-morning nap. His mom never moved while he slumbered.

This reminds me of our faith journey. We are like that foul. Even if we have been in the Christian world for a long time, we still have so much to learn. God works with us a little at a time, teaching us more about Him.

Observing the mare watching over her foul reminded me of how God stands protectively over us. He watches out for us, keeps us from danger, feeds us, and cares for us. While the foul napped, her mom lovingly stood by to ensure its safety, just like God watching over us while we sleep.

Psalm 121:3 reminds us of His power and protection. “He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.”

God watches over us when we rest, work, play, etc. No matter what we are doing, He has a watchful eye on us. What a wonderful God we have.

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Deliberate Dolls

What a children’s book and our faith have in common

One evening I was reading to my six-year-old before bedtime. We were reading The Doll People by Ann M Martin & Laura Godwin. This children’s book tells a story of a doll Annabel and her family. They live in a dollhouse but can walk and talk. They only move about when their human owners are asleep or not home.

In the first book of the series, Martin & Godwin informs us how the dolls are created and made “real.” The dolls decide if they want to be a regular doll (giving up human abilities) or a doll person (can walk and talk). If they choose a doll person, they must take an oath.

Annabel is informed right before taking her oath that being a doll person is harder, it comes with great responsibility. It also comes with fun and adventure.

This reminds me of our faith journey. The Christian life is not easy. Although we don’t take an actual oath, we do commit our lives to Christ. We promise to live for Him instead of ourselves. This is no easy task.

In the book, if humans catch the dolls moving, they are thrust into doll state where they can’t move or talk for 24 hours. There are also rumors of a permanent doll state for serious offenses.

As Christians, when we mess up, thankfully we aren’t thrust into a paralyzed state like Annabel. Instead, we repent of our sins to our loving Father in Heaven. He doesn’t reprehend us, but rather washes our sins away. He doesn’t chastise us and shake His finger in our face. He accepts our burdens and mess. He cleans us off, and helps us get back up again. What an incredible Father we have!

Just as Annabel forgets, or chooses to ignore her oath on occasion, we sometimes forget who we are living for. Or we choose to go our own way knowing it’s not God’s plan.

Being a Christian comes with responsibility and risk. It also comes with a great reward.

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Blurry Vision

How God can clarify our blurry vision

I was sitting outside in Colorado in early March. The best thing about visiting Colorado in March is you get the benefit of abundant snow for skiing combined with slightly warmer weather. If you catch a sunny day, as I did on this particular afternoon, you can sit outside, absorbing the strong sunshine and feel like you are at the beach (with a few more articles of clothing on). After a long winter, don’t we all need a little time in the sun?

I was reading on the front porch and went inside to get something. As I walked into the dark house, I could hardly see. The combination of the snow and the bright sunshine made my eyes extremely blurry as I transitioned inside. I walked down the stairs holding onto the railing so I wouldn’t trip. My vision was foggy I could barely see the steps.

This reminds me of our faith journey. In life, we can’t always see what’s right in front of us. We can be blinded by distractions or sin. Our pace of life can move so rapidly we can’t even look where we are going. Our vision can be unclear, and our path hazy.

The longer I was in the house, the more my eyes adjusted to the lighting, and my vision returned. Similarly, the more and more we seek God through prayer and Scripture, the more vivid our vision becomes.

The more we turn to Him, the clearer our path appears. The sooner we can see what He has for us, the better. His plans are great, His way is right, His love for us is never-ending.

“In all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:6)

Don’t remain in the fog. Step into His house so He can bring clarity to your life.

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Quizzical Questions

My six-year-old daughter is full of curiosity. My favorite question she asks she has been repeating since she learned how to talk.

At various points during the day, she will ask me, “Can I tell you something?”

I never know what will follow this question. She could spit out something totally random, or ask me questions about an activity we have coming up. It could be something profound on her heart. Or it could be a funny story about an incident in her kindergarten class. The topic always varies and so does the seriousness. As Forest Gump would say, “it’s like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get.”

Although her thoughts are never the same, my response remains consistent. When she asks this question, I respond with one word… always. I always want her to come to me and feel comfortable discussing any topic. No matter how absurd, profound, or random her questions are, I want to hear whatever is on her heart.

This reminds me of our communication with God. He is always available, always interested, and always ready to listen to us. He never thinks our thoughts, desires, or concerns are ridiculous. He doesn’t want us to hide our joys, feelings, and worries from Him. He welcomes our voice, as often as we will share it.

Just like we embrace our children’s thoughts, God welcomes ours.

I communicate with my children to maintain a healthy connection. That same philosophy applies to our Heavenly Father. The more we commune with Him throughout the day, the more we can feel and recognize His presence. The more we share with Him, the lighter our burdens become.

Can we all go to God with the questions like my daughter asks me and say, “God, can I tell you something?”

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Lessons from the Lost

I attended my grandmother’s funeral recently. She passed away 98 years of age.

We all have spiritual icons in our lives, and she was mine. As I came into my faith, I realized what a rich and deep spiritual life she led. She didn’t necessarily talk about her faith, she just lived it out.

My grandmother, Gerry loved like Jesus. I’m sure she was aware of her own sin, but as her granddaughter, she appeared unflawed. She loved others as I have never seen. She poured out her gifts and love on everyone she came in contact with. They became part of her family. She knew their stories and how she could pray for them. She gave generously to those that were struggling or gave them a ride to church if they didn’t have one.

Here’s the ironic part. Gerry didn’t have a smooth childhood. She lost her mom at a young age and was separated from her twin sister. Her past was filled with rejection, uncertainty, bribery, and instability. She had a lot of justification to be bitter and angry.

Instead, she asked God into her heart at eleven. He healed her wounds and taught her how to forgive and love. She learned to depend on her one true Heavenly Father, the one person who would never disappoint.

I remember having sleepovers at Nana’s house as a child. As we lay down for bed, she went on her knees saying her prayers (never forcing me to join her). I’m quite sure I can credit some of my faith to her prayers being answered.

What does this have to do with us? Well, it reminds me that we have a choice in life. We can choose bitterness, anger, and resentment. Some of us have good reason for all of those feelings. Or we can choose Christ. We can choose to put our faith in our Heavenly Father who can heal our wounds, comfort our tears, and mend our broken hearts.

I look to my Grandmother in awe of what she overcame. Her story is a testament to what God is capable of doing in someone’s life. He is a God of healing and never-ending love. Will you ask Him into your heart?