My daughter is the joy of my life. Yes, I seriously mean that! But I must admit that the joy of my life can sometimes seem like the thorn in my flesh. Do you ever feel that way? Most, if not all of you, do; I’m sure of it!
As parents we may feel this way quite often when our children are constantly calling our name, complaining, arguing, or being disobedient in one way or another. It can be quite a challenge to keep our cool. In fact, sometimes when we are so tired and weary of these actions, we lose it. We collapse. We explode. We instantly snap into emotional frustration and anger. Where our tongues were once kept in check with methodical consciousness of what to say and what not to say, they now become like a loose canon shooting forth destructive words that slam into the ears of our precious children. It’s not until our lungs release, the smoke clears, and with a big sigh we return to reality. We realize we have just hurt our children. We have caused pain with the most powerful part of our bodies - the tongue.
Looking back on my childhood, I am reminded of how words spoken to me had a great effect on my life, both in encouraging and destructive ways. Most of the destructive words spoken to me were fueled by anger. Both of my parents displayed this kind of anger occasionally, but let me just say that I believe that my parents raised me to the best of their knowledge. I believe they never meant to hurt me with their actions. I believe that my parents loved me; they just did not always speak the way God intended for love to be spoken.
As a parent myself today, I, too, struggle just like my parents did. I, too, believe that I am raising my daughter to the best of my knowledge. I know that I do not ever want to hurt my daughter, but on occasion I do. And I believe that she knows that I love her even though there have been many times when I have not spoken love as God intended me to.
A few years ago, something happened to me that made a huge difference in my life concerning anger and words. There was a period of time where I was really getting angry with my daughter a lot. I would get angry about silly little things like what she decided to wear that day or if she made a mess in the kitchen and so forth. I started realizing the severity of my anger when the range of decibels in my voice was so high that I knew next door neighbors could hear me. The words I chose to speak in those moments were definitely destructive. I began saying really hurtful words like “Are you stupid?!”...“What’s wrong with you?!”..."Why can’t you be normal?!” As God began to open my eyes to this destructive pattern (which I myself had witnessed as a child), I asked Him to help me overcome it. I prayed every day about my anger. I searched the scriptures on anger but also on speech. What began to happen to me was a miracle that only God could do. Every time I would get angry and raise my voice at my daughter I would start to cough. The coughing was so bad that I had to stop lecturing her on her imperfections to get a sip of water. Time after time I coughed, unable to speak to my daughter. As the coughing increased, the destructive words began to decrease. I became more aware of the poison I was spewing out of my mouth. I began to see the terror and fear in her eyes as the tears streamed down her precious face. I had asked God to help me. I did not know how or in what way He would help me. I just believed. In that belief, I found my miracle - the cough. But the miracle did not stop there. God began to heal me from the inside out through the counsel of His Holy Spirit and His Word. Several Scriptures lighted my way …
"May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to You LORD, my rock and my Redeemer."
"A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man holds it in check."
"Be angry and do not sin. Don’t let the sun go down on your anger, and don’t give the devil an opportunity ... All bitterness, anger and wrath, shouting and slander must be removed from you, along with all malice."
Ephesians 4: 26, 27, 31
"My dearly loved brothers, understand this: Everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger, for man’s anger does not accomplish God’s righteousness."
A transformation took place like a butterfly from a cocoon. I began to speak to my daughter with a calm voice. I began to speak encouraging words, hoping that they would somehow over time replace the ones that tore her down. I began to realize the true power of the tongue when used as the Lord intended. Now this doesn’t mean that I never disciplined her when she needed it, but it does mean that I responded in a way that would be pleasing to the Lord. I chose to no longer be a loose canon blasting destructive words into my daughter’s ear but more of a butterfly in flight with beautiful phrases.
The miracle was the cough, but it’s not what God used to answer my prayer. What answered my prayer is my willingness to go to Him and say that I was weak and that I could not overcome this weakness on my own. That’s when God responds to us. That’s when miracles happen.
Keep it up and carry on,
I have been taking pottery classes with my mom for over a year now. It has become the highlight of my life each week. I thoroughly enjoy the process and the people I have encountered, not to mention spending quality time with my mom. One of the things I love most about clay is that I can reshape the clay if it starts to look deformed or not like what I had envisioned it to be. I have done this many times, which usually results in a finished product that I can be proud of. I can’t help but think about how the Lord has done this many times to me, remolding me over and over again only to see something He is proud of.
In Jeremiah 18:1-4, the Lord tells him to go to the potter’s house to hear His words. Jeremiah says, “Then I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was, making something at the wheel. And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter; so he made it again into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to make."
As I read this passage, I couldn’t help but notice that the potter took the same clay and molded it again into something that was good in his eyes. He could have looked at it and said, "Look at you. You're good for nothing. I can't use you. What purpose do you have? How can you be used in such a state?” Or he could have looked at it and said, ”You poor thing. You’re so messed up. If only you would have stayed on the wheel. If only you would have listened to my voice. If only you would have allowed my hands to shape you. Now there’s nothing I can do for you because you messed yourself up.”
How many times does the deceiver send that message your way? How many times does he accuse you of such or make you feel so guilty that there’s nothing that can be done? How many times does he say to you, "You're worthless; you're garbage and need to be thrown away"?
You see, the potter could have thrown the lump of marred clay away, but he didn’t! He looked at the clay and saw good! God looked at YOU and saw good! You see, the Lord God is the potter of our lives. If we let Him, He will reshape us into good. He created our vessels for good. Sin marred our vessels for evil, but God looked at us and said, ”You are beautiful! I can see what you can become. I can take what was meant for evil and turn it into something meant for good. It will be painful. I will have to take you off the wheel and knead you several times to re-form you so that I can put you back on the wheel to reshape you. If you trust Me, I will make you a vessel to be used over and over again … a vessel with a purpose.”
How many times have you heard the Lord say that to you? Are you listening to Him or have you turned a deaf ear to His love for you? I can testify that listening to God is not easy. My flesh is so used to sin. My flesh is comfortable being marred. It’s hard for my selfish ways to be reshaped. Many times my mind is in a battle, being kneaded either for good or for evil, depending on whether I trust God or I trust myself more.
Who do you trust more?
Is it worth it?
Trusting God is a decision YOU must make. It isn’t going to be easy. You will be uncomfortable as you allow the Lord to mold you because your flesh will fight against you. Your selfishness will complain; your greed for the lusts of this world will moan and groan, and your mind will whine like a child with phrases like ... "I don’t want to. Give me what I want. Give me what I want!" The thing is, the potter will not force you. You have to be moldable. You have to be willing to be kneaded His way; otherwise, the Master Potter cannot mold you.
The reason why the kneading process is so necessary is because the potter is trying to get all of the air bubbles out of the clay. The air bubbles can cause deformity in the clay as it is shaped. It can cause a vessel to be marred as it is molded. You see, that is why the kneading process is so painful. The air bubbles represent the sin in our lives. When the Lord kneads us, He is trying to knead out the sin with His gentle hands and loving words. This only happens when we come to Him and say, "Forgive me, Lord, of my sin. Forgive me of my selfish ways. I want to live a life for good and not evil. I want to be reshaped into a vessel of purpose. I trust you to do that. I give you my marred vessel. I am willing to be kneaded no matter how painful it may be. I give You my life and ask You to form me into a beautiful piece of art.”
A beautiful piece of art … that’s what I want to be. I know you do too. Would you do me a favor? Would you examine your heart? What state are you in right now? Are you moldable or unmoldable? Would you meditate on those questions for a while and then talk to the Lord about them? I know it’s not easy thinking about really uncomfortable, hard questions like this, but I can testify that it is worth it. In fact, to be honest, I’m doing the same thing right now. You’re not alone in this. I too am struggling. Together, we can come to the Lord, lay it all down, and allow Him to make us into something good ...
into a beautiful piece of art.
From my heart to yours,
God… is my cheerleader! Yes, I said cheerleader. No, I don’t mean that kind. Of course, He doesn’t wear a skirt and carry pompoms everywhere He goes, but He does cheer us on. He’s rooting for us every day to run down the court, shoot for the goal, and receive the prize of the high five. Now, I know you must be thinking … why am I running? What goal? The prize is a “high five”? What does that mean? Well, I am glad you are asking these questions because my hope is that you’ll understand why God is my cheerleader and why He can be yours too.
When I was in high school, I played basketball. I usually played two positions which were the small forward or the power forward. Both required a great deal of running as I was closest to the goal. So in order to be able to run without losing my breath, I had to build up my endurance. The best way my coach knew how to do that was to get the team to run drills. Whoever came up with the name of the drills we were doing wasn’t kidding. They were called “suicides.” That’s right, suicides! Those drills nearly killed me most days, but when I tell you they worked, I mean they REALLY worked! With every practice, I was building up my endurance. Every breath became a little easier, and in time, I became a runner -- at least on the basketball court. You see, the one thing I know about running is that it takes effort. It takes effort to decide that you're going to subject your feeble body to pain. Yes, running is painful when you begin, but over time, as you practice the sport, your body gets stronger. Where I was once weak, I now was made strong as I began to practice more and more.
You see, God is my cheerleader because when I choose to make an effort, no matter how hard or painful the task, He is there giving me strength and whispering to me, ”You can do this! Press on and fight hard! Don’t surrender and fall beneath the white flag. You’ve got this! I believe in you.” His words of encouragement cheer me on.
Did you notice I said He whispers? Just as God doesn’t wear skirts and carry pompoms around, He also doesn’t shout at you. He prefers to cheer for you with a still small voice. He’s hoping that you will be still enough to listen and believe what He is telling you. God wants and desires to see you grow, to be all that He created you to be. So as you're running, take time to focus and listen to God’s voice.
Now that you know the answer as to why you need to run, what about the goal? What is the goal and when will you know you’ve reached it? I’ll never forget what my coach used to teach us about the goal. He said, “Aim for the square. If you hit the square, then you’ll make the goal.” The square is an outline of a square in the middle of the backboard right above the hoop. It is the target. In order to aim for the target you have to have the right position. You have to make sure you bend your knees and when you jump, throw the ball up and over with a slight hook of the wrist. Of course, I must admit, that was not the easiest thing for me to accomplish. I would always try too hard, forcing the ball just a little too much, which in turn caused the ball to bounce off the backboard instead of falling right through the hoop. It took great skill and focus to hook the ball with just the right amount of strength.
You see, God is my cheerleader not only when I run but also when I shoot for the goal. The goal is simply to overcome. To reach it you have to get in the right position to overcome with just the right amount of strength. The right position includes choosing righteousness, keeping a sense of self-determination, and focusing on the prize ahead. Waking up each day to decide that you CAN and WILL overcome the adversities that come your way no matter how tempting, how painful, or how hard it may be. God gives you just the right amount of strength to do so. All you have to do is use it. Are you willing to put forth the effort? Practice the right position? Shoot for the goal? God knows you can do it and so do I!
So you know why you must run and shoot for the goal, but what about the prize? Why is the prize a “high five?” While playing high school basketball, I felt such a great sense of accomplishment with every goal I made. It felt so good to know that all my hard work paid off. One of the things I enjoyed the most was the high five I got from all my team mates every time I made a goal. It was a great reward. The high five meant that my teammates had confidence in me. It showed me that they were proud of me and that I could be proud of myself.
You see, God is my cheerleader not only when I run and shoot for the goal, but also when I receive the prize of the high five. When I choose to make the effort to overcome in righteousness with his strength, God is proud of me. His confidence in me shows me that He is proud of me and that I can be proud of myself. This sense of accomplishment helps me to keep running, to keep shooting for the goal, and to keep receiving high fives from Him!
So what about you? What will you choose? Will you choose to allow God to be your cheerleader? If you do, you’ll never regret it. Because in the end … You WIN! Not on the court but in LIFE!
Keep calm and journey on,
“Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the weak; and to those who have no might, He increases strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall. 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: 28-31
Hello, my friends!
My name is Amy.
And … this is my JOURNEY.
I’m a homegrown MISSISSIPPI girl who uprooted to Slidell, Louisiana, 7 years ago with my husband, Blaine, and daughter, Sarah. I have been married to my Prince Charming for almost 15 years. Our birthdays are six days apart, and for five days a year I get the opportunity to brag about being younger! However, I think he quite enjoys that. My beautiful daughter, Sarah, is 10 years old and in 5th grade. She's my little fish in the sea that loves to swim and draw mermaids. My husband and daughter are God-given treasures whom I cherish. But there is a greater treasure I love even more. You might be thinking, "What treasure could be greater than her family?" Well, I’m glad you asked! That treasure is my salvation in Christ Jesus, my Lord and Savior. I received His gracious gift back in 1992 and have cherished it ever since.
You may have noticed some of my words are in different colors and fonts. That’s because one of the talents the Lord has given me is CREATIVITY! Yes, I actually took the time to make each of those letters a different color! That's the quirky, detail-oriented side of being blessed with a creative mind. I have several different hobbies I like to indulge in which include scrapbooking, making pottery pieces, making jewelry, and making hair accessories. I am always looking for ideas, and I confess that Pinterest has become my new best friend.
I also love being a SERVANT. For the past 6 years, I have served as Creative Arts Coordinator for Northshore Church where I attend with my family. I have the privilege of working alongside our Worship Leader and the Creative Arts Team in creating stage designs for each sermon series. This position of service has been most rewarding because it allows me to use the gifts God has given me to serve Him and my fellow sisters and brothers in Christ. It can't get any more rewarding than that, right? Well, another opportunity to serve in creative ways came my way also!
That opportunity was Total Woman U. I have been blessed to be on faculty of TWU for two years now. I decided to join this organization because I needed to be a part of it. For most of my life, I tried to conform to the standards of others so that they would be pleased with me. I was a pleaser, not a believer -- that is, a believer in myself. I had such a lack of confidence that I was always worried about what others thought of me. Since joining TWU, I have learned SO much about the “Amy” that Christ designed and the purpose for which He created me. I have learned that I am a UNIQUE creation and that I am BECOMING more and more in His image as I strive to live for Him till the end. The good news is It’s not the end! There’s work to be done! So will you join me? Let’s journey together, shall we?
Keep Calm and Journey On,
Become … a short but beautiful word. As I thought about this word something drew me into it. Something simple. Something so simple that most of us can’t even see it. Something like… the syllable. Yes, I’m talking about the dividing line that separates the word “become” into two words “be” and “come.” Then I knew. I knew that this is where it all begins…the journey. And your journey begins with…”Be.”
“Be?” Yes. You see your journey begins here because you became. You became because the most powerful force in the universe designed, constructed, and patterned your very existence out of the particles of dust from the earth. He, Almighty God, formed you and gave you radiant physical attributes that were carefully thought of. Attributes that He patterned after your mom and dad whom He also created.
David, a man after God’s on heart, said in Psalm 139:13-16…”For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well. My frame was not hidden from You, when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.”
This Designer skillfully created everything that you are. Your personality, what you like and don’t like. He knew what would make you happy, what would make you sad, what you would be afraid of, and most importantly…what you would become. He brought you into being hoping that you would simply…come.
Would you come to the one who designed you? Would you draw near to him in your distorted view of what he created you for and allow him to reform that view into what it was intended to be. The view that you were uniquely designed for a God given purpose to simply…become.
Become all that He designed you to be…to be like Him, to know Him, to follow Him, to worship Him. He brought you into being to come unto Him.
So…as you journey, be …and know that the Almighty God perfectly designed every part of you; as you journey, come … and he will give you an abundant life; as you journey, become … more of Him. The created ... in the likeness of the Creator.
Reading between the lines,
As we all know, a vehicle has many components, but one of the main components is the lights. There are lights that are needed on a daily basis and some that are needed for special occasions. At the front of the vehicle, there are headlights, brights, and fog lights. At the back of the vehicle, there are tail lights, brake lights, and reverse lights. Then there are our hazards - our emergency lights - that are on the front and back of the vehicle.
We'll be taking a look at all of these different types of lights to see how they are a physical representation of our “inner vehicles” that we need to maintain on a daily basis for ourselves, others, and God. Today, let's start with the front of the vehicle where the headlights, brights, and fog lights are.
Your headlights are used to light the way in front of you and they are used on a daily basis. You use them at night when it is dark out and when it is raining. You really have to keep those maintained because you use them daily. Your brights are used to illuminate more than what you can see with just your headlights. They have the specific purpose of exposing more of the darkness outside than what you’re used to. Your fog lights are also used for a specific purpose. They are used only when it gets cloudy outside and you can’t see in front of you.
What I thought was interesting about headlights is that they are at the “head” of the car. They are like the “eyes” of the car. When you turn them on, they light the road in front of you so you can see in the dark. If you don’t maintain them, you won’t be able to see.
The Bible talks about our own “headlights”? It says in Matthew 6:22-23, “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness."
What this tells me is that I must turn my lights on and keep them maintained so that I can see my journey in the midst of the darkness around me. They reveal what is real. And the same is for your eyes. Now you may ask…how is that so? Well, have you ever looked in the mirror…I mean really looked in the mirror at your own eyes? I know I have done this many times. I remember looking straight in the mirror and asking myself…Who am I? What is my purpose? Am I being real with myself and others?
Your eyes can reveal so many things about you. So my question is…are you being real and transparent with yourself and others, are you lying to yourself and others, or are you keeping things inside because you’re afraid of what others will think of you?
You’re on a journey. Maybe on your journey you have your headlights on. You can see clearly and you know what direction you going in. You can see how God is making a difference in your life. Or, maybe you THINK your headlights are on and you THINK you can see clearly but deep down …your heart is telling you something different. It may mean that you have to turn your brights on and illuminate the darkness that is invading your inner vehicle. You made need to tweak your lifestyle. You may need to make an adjustment in your schedule and find some time to spend with God that will keep you tuned up to lead others.
Or maybe your lights seem dim because of all the fog. You can’t see clearly. You have no idea what direction you’re going in. Maybe it is because of the trials in your life, your past, or just too much busyness where you have no time to even look at who you are. I want to encourage you to MAKE TIME! You are worth it! Others are watching you whether you realize it or not. You have influence whether you are choosing to or not. Maintain the lights in your vehicle so you can not only see your own path, but so you can help others see theirs as well.
What do others see in you? Can they see you clearly or do they have to strain their eyes to see your transparency? Your true beauty of who you are in Christ. I want you to know that you are uniquely designed for a God given purpose with a God given identity. No matter what your front lights look like, turn them on and let God guide you as you lead.
Keep Calm and Journey On,
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