summer bee devotiona 6-15

Peace Keepers!

“Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification,” Romans 14:19 NIV.  

Paul was addressing Christians who were debating dietary restrictions. Paul saw their argument as insignificant, teaching them instead that God’s kingdom is more than food or drink and is of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. 

We often allow ourselves to become bogged down in petty disputes. Trivial disagreements can often blow up to gargantuan proportions. Sometimes we are so determined to be right that we fail to realize when an argument is no longer relevant in the greater scheme of things.

Paul instructs us to make every effort to be peaceful and do what leads to “mutual edification.” We are implored to build one another up, not tear each other down.

When we go to extremes to prove our point or have the last word is that really satisfying? We can either draw people nearer to God with our actions or push them away. Do you have what it takes to listen to others, let alone respect their right to a differing opinion?

We won’t always agree with everyone but we should at least be able to communicate in a civilized manner. It isn’t necessary that we jump on every opportunity to prove others wrong.

We would all do well to evaluate the words we choose. Are our words helpful? Can they change a situation for the better? Or do we choose to expose the faults of others only to feel better about ourselves?

solitary white rose side 2014  Sometimes silence is the best solution. What we choose not to say is just as significant as the words we utter. When we choose not to condemn, criticize or gossip we perpetuate peace, not chaos.

“Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body, It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell,” James 3:5-6 NIV.

Every situation does not require our commentary. How often can we mirror God’s love by keeping quiet? Instead of commenting on what other people do, what if we prayed for them? What if we focused on correcting our flaws instead of exposing those of others?

God commands us to love Him and our brothers and sisters.

It is easy to love God. Loving our brothers and sisters is often much harder.

“My command is this; Love each other as I have loved you,” John 15:12 NIV.

“As I have loved you.”

Jesus showed compassion. Jesus forgave the very people crucifying Him. He even prayed for them! Jesus didn’t cast stones. Jesus met people right where they were, imperfections and all.

It isn’t always easy to love like Jesus, but shouldn’t we at least try?

“Blessed are the peacemakers; for they shall be called the children of God,” Matthew 5:9 KJV

FATHERS 2015 BLESSED DEVOTIONAL

Fathers…

“Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise: “that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.” And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.” Ephesians 6:2-4 NKJV

One of my first memories of my father is standing in the yard with him as he examined a blooming hydrangea. I have several planted in my yard in his memory. Like my mother, Daddy enjoyed working in the yard.

He wasn’t the most talkative Dad but the bits of wisdom he offered certainly stuck with me. He wasn’t one to preach, but rather taught by example. He was loyal to his friends and never shied away from having a good time. Daddy believed in the merits of hard work and giving everything you did your very best.

Daddy was also a humble man. I didn’t learn about many of his greatest accomplishments until I read his obituary. We often take for granted the people closest to us and the ones we love the most. I didn’t get to tell Daddy I loved him that one last time as planned. He slipped away just hours before I could make it home.

DSC_0950 (2)  Thankfully, our eternal Father never leaves us.

God is always present, yet I believe even He appreciates an “I love you” or a “thank you from us as flawed as we are.

Our Heavenly Father wants us to believe that He is here for us, provides for us and that we can trust Him even as the people in our lives disappoint.

If your earthly father was less than stellar, God is more than able to fill that gap.

Trust God.

Like a good parent, God doesn’t always give us what we want, but definitely provides what we need. If only we would seek Him and run toward Him with childlike faith could we begin to grasp just how much our God cares for us!

And should you happen to have a father still here on earth, love him. Enjoy Him. Appreciate him.

HAPPY FATHER’S DAY  to all those fathers, uncles, teachers, coaches and other great men who tackle the role of “Dad.” Bless you who are strong when we are weak, provide wisdom and shelter us from life’s storms. Thank you who pulled us up when we fell down.

In memory of fathers who served and sacrificed, held thankless jobs and simply did the best they could…

“I will be a Father to you, And you shall be My sons and daughters, Says the LORD Almighty.” 2 Corinthians 6:18 NKJV

 

new 2 b is for blessed devotional

Renew!

“But those who wait on the Lord Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31 NKJV

“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Romans 12:2 NKJV

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory,” 2 Corinthians 4:16-17 NKJV

new 2015 b is for blessed devotional  Take a few moments to enjoy your weekend.   

Relax. Refresh. Renew!

DSC_0840 (2)

HEAR! HEAR!!

“Today, if you will hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion…” Hebrews 3:8 NKJV

Today my oldest son stated that I’m “less judgmental than I was five to seven years ago.”

Surely, I hadn’t heard him correctly. “Excuse me?!”

Was I a terror those years ago?

Maybe.

My mini-me calls it like he sees it.

He views most churches as “hypocritical.” He believes many Christians are judgmental and don’t even attempt to love their “neighbors” as Jesus instructed.

Teenagers.

So, annoying when they are correct.

Thankfully, the kid does believe in God.

Faith in organized “church?”

Not so much.

DSC_0216 (2)  Yet, he managed to hear something today that penetrated his thick skull.Today’s sermon focused on the second chapter of James, especially the verses about favoritism and mercy.

The chapter ends with “Mercy triumphs over judgement.”

“Less judgmental.”

Seven or so years ago, I had a lot going on. Lots of changes, not all of them positive. I’ve had my “trials” that effectively served up a fair dose of correction, humility and mercy.

Like most people, I was trying to do my best. However, it was not good enough. I’m pretty sure I was left tired, angry, and bitter. I thought I was keeping my feelings to myself.

Apparently not.

Cam’s comment made me realize that people tend to be most judgmental when they are angry, broken and in a state of struggle. Lashing out at others is one way insecure and bitter people vent, release anger and irrationally view themselves in a more positive light.

What are we really doing when tearing others down?

Are our motives pure?

Is condemning people the way to draw them to God?

Judgement is not the love Christ commanded. Let alone mercy.

Jesus loved the people who needed Him most. Tax collectors. Harlots. Sinners.

People repented when healed, loved and touched by the Master. It is the “sick” who need the Physician. We are all “sick” at various times in our lives.

God’s love transforms people.

I am grateful God has made me less judgmental, at least in my child’s eyes. I am trying to parent by example. Trying.

Most of us strive to behave better, but how can we gauge our progress?

My oldest child provides checks and balances for me. Even if unsolicited.

If we take time to truly listen to others, we may learn from them where we are in regards to the changes we seek.

Is a compliment on my new outfit an indicator that I’m stylish, or a reminder I’m spending money I should be saving?

If someone comments they haven’t seen you in a while, does it mean you’ve abandoned “questionable” company or confirmation your church participation may not be what it should be?

God often speaks to us through other people, if only we have ears to hear…

“He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” Matthew 11:15 NKJV

BLOOM AUTISM DEVOTIONAL 2015

Bloom!

My inspiration for my blog God autism and me turned sixteen this month!

As I look back, I realize the progress we have made is miraculous. My tears are no longer out of frustration but from joy.

I’m not sure exactly when I was able to breathe without fearing a phone call from the school. Yet today, my youngest is increasingly independent and learning to solve problems on his own.

He began this school year taunted by bullies and almost removed from his favorite class because of them. Yet, he finished the year on the honor roll earning the opportunity to play in the marching band next year with his brother.

Somewhere among the midst of IEPs, after school tutoring and endless hours of homework, Lan and I both began to bloom.

We are no longer closed off from others but rather optimistic instead of dreading what lies around the next corner.

Lan’s symptoms haven’t disappeared. However, we now manage them instead of stifle them.

Here are sixteen things God has taught me via autism.

How to improvise

How to find hope in all circumstances.

I am not in control. God’s got this!

How to open my mind up for the improbable

How to open my faith up for the impossible

Love and encouragement produce more than strict regimens

It’s okay not to be okay

I don’t have to be perfect

Perfection doesn’t exist on this earth

What once worked won’t always work.

With God, I am stronger than I ever imagined

My child is tough, resilient, and aware of everything!

How to bend without breaking

Sometimes you just have to make your own way.

Angels are among us in the guise of teachers, counselors and others

God’s not done with us yet!

You see, the photos of the flowers featured here “should” have bloomed nearly two months ago.  My lilies have always bloomed around Easter no matter what. Yet, here they stand blooming far later than usual, lovelier and stronger than ever before.

God autism and me devotional bloom 2015  We can do the same.

Sometimes we give up our joy when we don’t meet expectations created by others. It is easy to close up and fail to discover the gifts God places within us. We can’t acknowledge our talents let alone nurture them if we always focus on the “negatives.”

I challenge you to “open up” to possibilities you may have never considered before. Explore alternatives you may have once dismissed. Dare to reach out to new people and see if God doesn’t reveal fresh solutions to old problems!

With every passing year, my lilies grow taller and stronger. The dormant bulbs weather the frozen ground. Their strong stalks withstand spring storms. Their colorful blooms don’t wilt under the sun.

And that is exactly what God wants for us.

Like lilies, we go through seasons of dormancy where it looks like nothing is happening. But under the warmth of the sun, there is always the potential to produce something beautiful. Unlike the lily, we make the choice either to bloom or withdraw from the Son.

I choose to trust God.

Lan chooses not to be defined by a diagnosis.

What about you?

Choose to Bloom.

HOME B IS FOR BLESSED DEVOTIONAL 2015

Home!

A few days ago I enjoyed the opportunity to go home.

Not to the house in Georgia where I live with my husband and two boys but back home to my mother’s house where I grew up and lived for nearly twenty years.

Everyone should have a “safe” place to turn.

Not necessarily a physical structure, or even a destination but a corner of the world where one can retreat and just…be.

We are often called upon to be many thing in our lifetimes. A spouse. A parent. A child.

Employer. Employee.

Supervisor, facilitator, worker bee.

We are often labeled by others and even label ourselves to such a degree it is quite easily to forget who we were created to be.

I can’t always run home to mom when the urge hits me like a hammer, but my Father is always near.

Unlike people, God understands every hurt and pain. He is ever-present waiting for us to ask Him, like a small child, for direction. Why this and not that? God protects. God is patient. I don’t even have to drive for hours to find His understanding.

There is a quote “you can’t go home again.”

I beg to differ.

Yet, home will inevitably change.

What once loomed large is now quite small. What was once so small now towers over you.

Roles change.

Perspective changes.

The things you took for granted can become oh, so precious.

My daddy planted Magnolias in the yard when I was about two years old. They were very small plants when he placed them in the ground. I doubt he ever imagined how tall they would become. They are several stories tall.

He passed away years ago but when I look upon the trees, I can smile.

NO PLACE LIKE HOME B IS FOR BLESSED DEVOTIONAL 2015  Likewise, I planted ivy the year I married and moved out of my parents’ house and it is now everywhere!

I know my mother shakes her head each morning as she walks by it to get the paper. I’ve left a bit of myself (maybe too much!) there in the shadows of trees my father planted.

Just like my physical father, God “planted” things for me and even in me to grow.

Faith. Love. Hope. 

I can smile at the growth from the many “trees” God planted for me now. I didn’t always appreciate the “trials” necessary for them to mature but in hindsight I am so glad He did!

Home is any place where I can just be me.

The “me” God created me to be!

Not a person scrambling to meet the expectations of others. Or, a person failing to meet my own goals and aspirations in what I perceive to be timely manner.

Home is where I can sit and smile and hear God talk to me. Leisurely. Familiarly.

I am grateful I don’t have to travel to God.  He is always near.

What about you? Are you home yet?

The curse of the Lord is on the house of the wicked,
But He blesses the home of the just. Proverbs 3:33 NKJV

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In Remembrance …

As we celebrate a long Memorial Day Weekend here in the States, let us be mindful of those whose sacrifices allow us the freedoms we have today. Take time to remember those who serve, have served and especially those who gave their lives that we may enjoy the blessings we so often take for granted.

“The memory of the righteous [is] blessed,” Proverbs 10:7  NKJV