I Was Down 0-2

we have an advocate…(1 John 2:1)

Many years ago, while playing fastball softball as a child, I was down in the count 0-2. I felt a bit defeated, questioning myself and wondering if I really had what it took. It was then, when I heard someone from the crowd say, “You got this Heather, it only takes one.” One pitch was all I needed. Sure I had missed the last two and this voice of encouragement was what I needed as I stepped up to the plate in confidence.

With this new found confidence spurred on by simple encouragement I took the next pitch and hit a line drive that one hopped itself to the fence. Had I not received that encouragement to get up and try again I might have just struck out.

Friend, there are many believers in Jesus who have messed up and want to do better. They need an advocate, someone who will support them and believe in them despite the fact that maybe they’ve messed up big time.

Jesus serves as our advocate before the Father. Truly, it is remarkable that He would do such a thing for us. His example should compel us to have the same kind of grace and compassion for those who sin. Advocating for them as they live this life as a follower of Jesus.

I saw someone do this in my husbands life a few years ago. He was so defeated and the simple love and care of someone who showed that they believed in him gave him the confidence to keep moving forward. My hope in this life is to be that person for others. Think about it, you know you have them in your life, the person who keeps falling and failing. You wonder if they’re ever going to get on the other side of this. Why not be an advocate for them? Even though they’re down 0-2, you can choose to pick them up, speak words of encouragement and be the person who helps them see their worth instead of living in their past mistakes.

Lord, I want to be an encouragement to others. When they are messing up and doubting themselves, help me to speak words of life instead of shame. Use me to do that for them, in Jesus name, Amen.

When Light is Present

The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world….(John 1:9)

The other day, my daughter was given a little flashlight by one of her teachers at church. Of course, when we got home, we had to try it out all over the house. Of course, her light didn’t work outside. I tried to explain to her that we can’t always see light in the light, but we can see it in the darkness.

As I was pondering light this morning a thought flashed across my mind, “Light offers a satisfying and rich presence.”

Friend, what about you and me? Is that true for us? Does our light so shine that we are so present with others that they experience the richness of Christ by just being present with us? Think about a warm campfire and the serenity it brings. Turning a light switch on when you’re trying to fumble your way through a dark room brings such relief and a candle offers comfort as it burns upon the wick. Do we as Christians offer the same kind of comfort, relief and serenity to others?

This is my hearts desire, to be present with others, offering them the light of Christ in me. But friend, to do that, we’ve got to be still long enough for them to experience the warmth of God’s love in our hearts. Won’t you choose to be present with others today?

Lord, I want to be your light. Forgive me when I’m not. I want to walk in the light as you are in the light. Use my life to bring light into the darkness around me, in Jesus name, Amen.

Be a Person of Forgiveness

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you…Ephesians 4:32

Last night, my husband apologized to our daughter. He had to raise his voice to get her to stop something that was going to hurt her. She got scared by the loud boom of his voice. So after a couple of minutes, my husband approached our daughter, gently swept her up into his arms, spoke very tenderly to her and said, “Daddy is sorry for raising his voice at you. I just want to keep you safe.”

Since I’ve raised my voice at her numerous times and needed to ask for her forgiveness she says back to him, “Do you forgive me?” Forgetting that was daddy’s part, not hers. Which of course, prompts my husband to say, “Will you forgive me?” She said, “yes.” Then gave her daddy a big hug. It was all such a sweet thing to watch and it reminded me of something. The gift of grace and forgiveness. The reality that we will experience hurt from others in life. One of the most rewarding things we can give to the those we have hurt is the gift of, “Will you forgive me?” It serves as a gift to them and to us.

This past week, in my Bible study group, our speaker shared a story from Corrie Ten Boom. One of her persecutors had come to Christ. Which prompted him to seek our Corrie and her sister and ask for their forgiveness. Her initial response was to think, “I don’t want to forgive him!” But she prayed a quick prayer, asking God to supply the right feelings if she would take the next step to forgive. She quickly thrust her hand out to the man and as he held it she felt a wave of grace sweep over her entire body as she spoke the words, “I forgive you.”

Friend, you don’t have to keep carrying around that anger towards the person who hurt you or the guilt you feel for how you personally hurt a friend. You can go and seek to restore that relationship by following the simple steps of forgiveness. By taking some cues from a two and a half year old who understands the process of forgiveness.

We would do well to train ourselves at every age to follow the process of forgiveness and right wrongs before they embed themselves in bitterness. Because friend, when we do, the Lord will meet us with grace. We might not feel like forgiving or seeking forgiveness, but our feelings should never dictate our actions. The truth of Scripture should always be our guide. Let it lead you to freedom in Jesus today.

Father, may I always be a person of forgiveness. Help me to forgive, even when I don’t feel like it, in Jesus name, Amen.

I’m Not Good At Resting

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest….Matthew 11:28

Resting and waiting are two of my most challenging spiritual disciplines. I find it so difficult to sit back and wait, to rest and find enjoyment in being still. It is by far one of my biggest hang ups. Yet, here I am again, the Lord has been gently reminding me as I have been in prayer with Him, “Heather, you need to practice more rest if you want to hear from me.”

Part of me fears rest. It feels unproductive. Rest puts me in a place where I’m no longer in control. It forces me to deal with my fears, because all of my fears come rushing to the surface. My hang ups and struggles are revealed during times of rest and if I’m being totally honest, what I really want to do is get up and keep moving again so that I don’t have to sit in the discomfort of letting them go.

Friend, if you’re wondering why you’re not hearing clearly from God, it could be that your life is lacking rest. At least, that’s why I find is usually true of my life. As a busy mom, wife, leader, and employee I find myself wearing many hats throughout the day and it can be exhausting.

But if I don’t wear this hat, things will fall apart or something bad will happen. Those are all lies the devil tries to whisper into me. Yet, the Spirit leads me beside quiet waters where the Lord provides for me in a place of rest. Whenever I start to feel pressure that things will not succeed without my involvement in them, I have to put things into perspective and remind myself that the Lord holds all things together. I am the best wife, mom, leader and employee when I’m operating from a place of rest. Because my investment will have greater reward when I choose to let go of the things I feel like I need to control to let God grow them as I give them back to Him each day.

Lord, you know how I love to be busy. Forgive me for letting busyness be something I let sneak in far too much. I pray that I would submit myself to rest, even when I don’t want to. Help me to do that, I pray, in Jesus name, Amen.

Our Children Need This

Children are a heritage from the LORD….(Psalm 127:3)

A few weeks ago I took my daughter to the family museum. It was a very busy day. Some of the kids from the different summer programs were there along with a number of other children.

Adah and I were playing together in the bakery, which was filled with a number of busy bread and muffin making children. I sat her down on my lap as she was playing with an oversized strawberry muffin, held her close, kissed her on the head and said, “i love you, you’re beautiful.”

I noticed, out of the corner of my eye, two girls who both locked eyes on me, but their expressions seemed empty. It communicated something to me that brought me a sense of sadness, because their expression said something to me along the lines of, “I wish someone would say that to me.”

Now, I don’t know these children and I’m sure they have many people in their lives who love them, but their reactions said something to me that bothered me. Their faces have since stuck with me. They’re expressions remind me just how much are children need the closeness, love and care of a parent.

Friend, we can never tell our children enough how much we love them. For young women, they can never hear the simple words, “You’re beautiful,” enough and for our young men, they can never hear the words, “You are strong and courageous” enough.

I have worked with many children over the years who come from families where one or both parents have chosen no longer to be present. Friend, I don’t think I’ll ever understand that.

So whether you’re sister, brother, aunt, uncle, mom, dad, grandpa, grandma or friend, hold those children in your lives close and remind them every day just how loved they are.

Lord, help us all to show deep love to the children in our lives. To build them up and encourage them. To show them their value. Forgive us when we get so busy we forget. Help us to speak words of life to our children, in Jesus name, Amen.

Sometimes We Must Be Shipwrecked

Unless these men stay with the ship, you cannot be saved….Acts 27:31

Years ago, the Lord impressed upon me to rest and be still for some financial needs my family had, but if I’m being honest, I just didn’t believe that God would come through for me and my family. Instead of facing my fears and trusting God, I let fear run me around hoping I could fix the situation.

Fear does that. It runs you ragged. It keeps you from being still. Don’t follow it. It never leads you to joy or peace and you’ll never see the hand of God do the miraculous for you if you just keep trying to fix things yourself.

This morning, as I was reading, I was struck by Paul’s words to those whom he would be shipwrecked with. Some men were trying to escape, to avoid being shipwrecked, but God had spoken to Paul that no one would die, but that all those on the ship would be saved. Paul says to those trying to escape, “Unless these men stay with the ship, you cannot be saved.” (Acts 27:31)

The Lord spoke into my spirit as I read those words, “Heather, sometimes we have to be shipwrecked in order to be saved.”

Friend, sometimes the bottom has to nearly fall out for you to be saved from your issues with control and fear. Sometimes everything has to blow up in order for your pride to be undone. Stop trying to flee the ship. If you know the Lord, He’ll take care of you if you’d simply let Him do it.

Those are hard words for me to hear and accept, but, I’ve seen God do it for me in my life. When I have left Him shipwreck me, chains of pride, fear, anger, criticism and control have fallen off in my life.

So friend, if you feel like fleeing a situation that seems like it’s heading towards a shipwreck, but God has gently reminded you to be at rest with Him, then do just that. It could be that the shipwreck, just as it has been for me, is the way God is going to provide something better for you. Trust Him, He loves you and longs for you to know the fullness of Christ in your life. Truly, this only takes places when we are made new through the furnace of affliction. But friend, it is so good to be made new. Won’t you trust Him today?

Lord, why would I ever doubt your ability to provide for me and my loved ones. Forgive me of my fear. I want to stay put and rest in you. I want to trust you in all things. Help me to stay put when fear wants to drag me away, in Jesus name, Amen.

God Can Do Anything

I was so obsessed with persecuting them that I even hunted them down in foreign cities….(Acts 26:11)

It is true that most people don’t change. However, it’s also true that God can change anyone.

I know you’ve been praying. For that child, friend, or loved one. You wonder if they’ll ever truly come to their senses and go all in with Jesus. You’ve shared, encouraged, backed off, waited, and prayed, but it seems like nothing is happening.

But friend, God is always working fervently behind the scenes. Putting together beautiful stories He’s about to unveil. Stories we’d be overcome by if He showed us even a peek. Sometimes we forget how much He worked for us before that we start to convince ourselves that He isn’t working for us now.

Maybe it’s because of what I’ve walked through these past few years, but something inside of me is different now. Something inside of me really does believe that God will take care of me and that He can change hearts, including mine.

Friend, the Lord took Paul, a murderer of Christians and flipped His life completely around. Why don’t you think that God can do the same for you or your loved one? The truth is, in order for this to happen, we must encounter Him and respond with a contrite heart. A willingness to be humble enough to admit our mistakes and let God pull us up from the ashes. Friend, that’s the only way we’ll be changed.

So keep praying, God is working. Please don’t believe the lie that He’s not or that they would never come to Him. God loves to take people and situations that seem too far gone and create beautiful, life-giving stories of redemption.

Lord, I trust you. Please, first, change me. Make me more like Christ. Keep working in my loved ones who don’t know you. Draw them to yourself, we pray, in Jesus name, Amen.

Speaking the Truth in Love

 I have fulfilled my duty to God in all good conscience to this day….(Acts 23:1)

Speaking the truth in love is hard, isn’t it? Fear, insecurity, and all sorts of emotions usually keep us from having conversations like these. But friend, nothing grows without something breaking first. You must break the ground in order to plant your seeds and you must be willing to break the silence to speak the truth in love.

The other day at the park, I met a woman who considers herself an atheist. As we were talking and I was listening to her words I said to her, “If I may, and I do not mean this disrespectfully, but as I hear you speak, I’m hearing you say you believe these things, but I’m also hearing you say that you believe there has to be something more.”

She didn’t disagree with me. In fact, I noticed the statement made the wheels really start to turn in her head. We continued talking and as we left the conversation she had no interest in receiving any resources, but I am praying that our conversation is being used of God to bring her closer to Him.

There have been other moments, in my marriage, when I have spoken the truth in love and respect to my husband. Whenever he hears me, things always produce fruit from those conversations. They always produce a better result than had I simply kept my mouth shut.

Then, there have been moments when friends have spoken a hard word to me. Something I didn’t want to hear, yet it was something they were brave enough to tell me. Something about myself that needed to grow. Praise God for friends who are willing to speak those hard truths into my life. They have been like a fresh drink to me and friend, we can do that very same thing for others if we are willing to speak the truth in love.

Paul did it in the Scriptures, and he was persecuted. That’s happened to me too. So don’t be surprised if you’re met with a heart not ready to hear what you have to say. They very well may lash in someway to protect themselves from the area they just aren’t wiling to grow in yet. Don’t take that personally and don’t let that keep you from speaking the truth in love to others. God could very well use you to be the fresh drink of water they need to grow up in Him.

Lord, this day I give you praise. For you are so good to me. You meet my needs according to your riches in grace. Whom have I in Heaven but you and earth has nothing I desire besides you. Oh Lord, let it be! Grant me opportunities to speak the truth in love so that I might make your name known as I care for others, in Jesus name, Amen.