Distractions in the Year of Yes

Listen to this blog post on my podcast Seeking God, Loving Others.

We were riding to church on a cold morning recently and my son asked me what my last name was before his dad and I got married. I was deep into explaining the importance of keeping my maiden name in my new married name when he interrupted, “I just saw a dog’s breath in the air!”

In a moment’s notice, he went from caring to hear about our family history to watching a dog breathe in the cold air. I was shattered!

But aren’t we all like this? Especially this time of the year if you’re reading this in January. We can be so focused on our New Year’s Resolutions. We’re hitting the gym, reading our Bible, eating better. Until we get distracted.

This is one of Satan’s favorite tools to use against God’s people: distraction. He may not get us to curse someone out or lie to your spouse, but he can get us distracted. His first recorded deception is of him distracting Eve from what God said.

When we get to heaven, I think Eve is going to go off on everyone who’s used her as an example of distraction. But we’re the same. God instructed them not to eat from one tree. God has given us instructions that we gloss over all of the time. Instructions regarding our finances, health, children, we take as optional suggestions.

I have a few ways that often distract us from giving God our best yes. And you know how I roll; they all start with S! Remember, there is nothing new under the sun (Ecclesiastes???) so The enemy just revamps things as times change.

Social Distractions – You had to know it was coming! Never in the history of man have we actually been able to carry distractions everywhere we go. When I’m talking about social distractions, I’m referring specifically to social media.

YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tik Tok and whatever else is out there or coming has stolen so much time from people. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been sitting at a table with people and instead of engaging in conversation, they are scrolling.

We are so concerned with what everyone is doing when as people of Faith, we should be worried about what God is doing. Paul tells us in “to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you,” (1 Thessalonians‬ ‭4:11‬ ‭NIV‬‬). But social media encourages us to do the exact opposite. We are in other people’s business and not working with our hands. I guess swiping could be considered work by the scientific definition but I’m not going there!

Aaron, the first priest of Israel and brother of Moses, had a major social distraction. In Exodus 32, he was so concerned with what the people wanted that he helped create a golden calf for them to worship. When Moses was taking too long on the mountain talking to God, Aaron collected their gold jewelry and melted it to form a calf to serve as their god.

When Moses came down from the mountain, he said to his brother “What did these people do to you, that you led them into such great sin?””
(‭‭Exodus‬ ‭32:21‬ ‭NIV‬‬) I love Aaron’s response in the next verses! He blamed the people and then lied. Really, you should read the Bible. It can be hilarious!

But isn’t that what Eve did? Isn’t that what we do? We rarely take responsibility for our distractions. We try to justify them or make excuses. My pastor from my previous church would say an excuse is a dressed lie with a hat on.

I’m currently practicing a time of fasting and prayer and one thing I cut out in addition to coffee, meat, sweets and intimate relations is social media and TV. I’m already not a huge consumer of either but I can get sucked in rather quickly if I allow myself. But by putting those things aside for a period, I’ve found myself talking to God more and in his word.

Schedule Distractions – Here is a sample of an average day for me in November 2019:

  • 7am- Kids to school
  • 8am husband to work (we had one car for 4 months!)
  • 8:30-11:30 Work at coffee shop
  • 11:45-12:45pm School Organization meeting
  • 1-2pm work out
  • 2pm pick up kids
  • 3pm Cook dinner and clean
  • 5pm Showers for church or rehearsal
  • 6pm Church or rehearsal
  • 7pm Church or rehearsal
  • 9pm Veg on couch until I can get upstairs

I was busy and overwhelmed and this didn’t include gymnastics and birthday parties and my stuff! But I recognized it. I began to trim back my schedule until I wasn’t busy and overwhelmed anymore. I cut out extra things I was involved in that didn’t fulfill me or add value to where I was going until all that was left was what was essential.

Busyness isn’t a new problem. When Jesus was visiting his friends in Luke 10, one sat at his feet listening to him while the other bustled around in busyness. She was so busy serving the Lord that she didn’t have time to sit with him. She was so busy preparing that she didn’t stop to praise the one she was preparing for.

I don’t know what your schedule is like but I can almost bet there are things in it that are not benefiting you. I’ve learned I don’t have to go to every party and I don’t need a reason why. Our schedules should work for us, not us for them.

Take a look at your current schedule. If you don’t have time to do things for God and for yourself, it’s too full. I heard this quote “If you are too busy to pray, you are busier than God wants you to be.” -Wanda Brunstetter.

Satisfaction Distraction – We all want to feel comfortable and satisfied but when our satisfaction distracts us from saying yes to God, something is wrong. I live in Green Bay Packer country in Wisconsin. I’m not lying when I say that our church has less attendees on the Sundays the Packers play. Some people are just more interested in being entertained than coming to worship. Its mean but it’s true.

We satisfy our desire for more sleep by skipping our morning prayer time. We satisfy our desire for sugary snacks by choosing a cupcake over an apple. We satisfy our desire for worldly materials by going into debt for things we don’t need rather than managing our money well. Every day we make choices based on what will satisfy us, not on what will sustain us.

But the Bible tells us these things will never satisfy us, only God can. “You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing.”
(‭‭Psalms‬ ‭145:16‬ ‭NIV‬‬)

But don’t feel bad. I’m certainly not trying to make you feel that way. I just want us to be aware of the traps we can easily fall into when we take our eyes off of Jesus. Paul had to correct the church at Corinth for the same things. But they were really going crazy!

The Corinthian church was full of new believers who were leaving an old way of life for a new life in Christ. But they were struggling! They were suing each other, people were creating divides based on spiritual positioning, and they had some major sexual immorality going on!

Paul corrected this church and let them know that while being satisfied is not necessarily a sin, not everything we do to satisfy ourselves is helpful.

“I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive. 1 Corinthians 10:23

I ran across a wonderful acronym just this week. Think before you speak. And for our use, I’ll say think before you speak or do.

  • TRUE- Is it true?
  • HELPFUL- Is it helpful?
  • INSPIRING- Is it inspiring?
  • NECESSARY- Is it necessary?
  • KIND- Is it kind?

Let’s agree to not let distraction rule over us in 2022. Examine your life to see what area you struggle most in and ask God to help you set boundaries so you can give him your best yes.

Building the Temple: Pt 2 Plan to Prosper

Listen to this blog post on my podcast Seeking God, Loving Others.

“Plans are established by seeking advice; so if you wage war, obtain guidance.”
‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭20:18‬ ‭NIV‬‬

It’s here! It’s finally here. My Christmas gift from my husband just came in the mail. Most people wouldn’t be excited to get the same gift every year but I like consistency!

For the past few years, I’ve been using the Christian Planner. This isn’t sponsored but people at the Christian Planner, feel free to hit me up! I use this planner because it allowed me to go from carrying around a to do journal, sermon note journal, budget journal and planner to having one place to keep all of these things.

So every year, this is what I ask my husband to get me for Christmas. There is nothing more sas tidying than opening a new, fresh, empty planner. I mean, there are but I just really love this planner!

Like the New Year, my new planner is a chance to start fresh. For many of us, the next few weeks are either going to be the groundwork for a great new future or the continuation of a stagnant, unproductive, mediocre life.

I know that sounds rough but it’s true. One of my favorite quotes says, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” Some people take this to the extreme and try to plan out every detail of their day and life, making them a slave to their plans. You also have the person who makes no plan at all and proudly, albeit mistakenly, labels it as spontaneity.

Either side of the extreme is not beneficial and will have you further away from your goals than you would hope.

Did you know God was a planner? He told Jeremiah “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah‬ ‭29:11‬)‬‬

And we are supposed to be imitators of God (Ephesians 5:1). If God has taken time to make plans for us, we should take time to make plans for our lives to steer them in the direction that gives him glory in every area of our lives.

Make sure you check out the podcast where we go a bit deeper into how you can plan for your best year!

Next week, we’ll talk about the next step: Take Care to Prepare.

Joy in the Lord

“Joyful are those who obey his laws and search for him with all their hearts.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭119:2‬ ‭NLT‬‬

‬It’s the Christmas season. I know we haven’t gotten to Thanksgiving yet but ads, commercials and stores are definitely telling us it’s time. The loud, colorful commercials want us to believe that we will find joy this season by getting or giving the right gift.

But we will only truly be joyful when we set our hearts to obey God’s word and seek him. He is the source of our joy and contentment.

Find more inspiration and hopefully a few laughs on my podcast Seeking God, Loving Others.

Run YOUR Race

Head over to my podcast for 5 ways to RUN YOUR RACE!! Seeking God, Loving Others.

“…let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,”
‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭12:1‬ ‭NIV‬‬

In 48 hours, I’ll be running my first marathon. I can’t believe that after almost 8 months of training it’s time. It’s time to run my race. My training has been interrupted more times than I care to remember but I’ve made it through.

I’ve learned so much over the past few months about both running and life. Many of the blog posts I’ve written were worked out during a run on the trails.

As I’ve been preparing for this race, I’ve come across Hebrews 12:1 quite a bit. In fact, the planner I use has a monthly verse and this month’s verse was Hebrews 12:1! Coincidence? I don’t think so.

This verse is such a powerful reminder that each of us has our own race to run that God has marked out for us. But many of us are too busy looking at other people’s races and envying their results.

I’ve found it so freeing actually running my own race. Both physically and spiritually. I use a running app that is basically like Facebook but for runners. We can see our friends’ runs and comment and like but I’ve heard many people say they feel bad about their own run after seeing others’ stats.

When we compare ourselves to others, it actually slows us down in our own race. We end up doing too much too soon or losing focus on what God wants us to do.

If I look at and envy the free time my friend has while her kids are at school, I won’t be content in homeschooling my children even though it’s the race God has marked for me.

If I envy the lavish vacation someone on Facebook posts, I won’t be content with sticking to the financial goals God has marked out for my family.

When we run the race that God has marked out for us in our homes, business, career or family, we can trust that he has everything figured out.

I know a few people who have a running coach. If ever I win the lottery, that will be one of my splurges. A running coach can create a plan tailored specific to your goals. You don’t have to think about what workout you need to do or how far you need to run; you just look at your plan. And if something comes up that interferes with your training, your running coach adjusts things and moves them around.

Now, a running coach is not in my budget (yet) but I do have access to someone who has created a tailored plan for my life. I don’t have to worry about what city to live in or what job to take, I can just look at his plan. I don’t have to know how long it will take for my blog to get noticed or my book to get published. I can look at his plan and know that “he who began a good work will carry it to completion” (Philippians 1:6).

When something interferes with my race, he can move things around so that “all things are working together for my good” (Romana 8:28). If you haven’t caught on, I’m talking about God! God has every detail of my life, and yours, mapped out and when we stay in our lane, stay in his word and stay in his presence, we WILL run our race and run it well.

What You Thought Was Dead

Check out this week’s podcast @ https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/jasmine-lozano-seeking-god-loving-others/id1562418663

In 2016, we moved into our current Midwest mansion. It’s not really a mansion but was one of the few houses we looked at where our visitors didn’t have to use our bathroom so it was a mansion to me!

One of the major selling points of our house was the beautiful apple tree in the front yard that didn’t yield crab apples but actual, grocery storish looking and tasting apples. 

Fast forward two years, and my storybook apple tree stopped producing apples. It looked tired and dry and my husband thought we would have to cut it down. 

Before giving it the axe, he decided to try a few things first. He removed the old mulch and replaced it with new mulch. He cut off the parts of the tree that were clearly dead. And lastly, (and you better not laugh at my man!!) he spoke to the tree. He told it to come to life and produce apples. He told it to do what it was created to do. 

And by the next summer, we still didn’t have apples. I know I set you up. You were expecting a harvest of apples like we were. But it didn’t happen. But he continued to talk to the tree. 

This summer, guess what happened? WE GOT APPLES!!! And this fall, WE ARE EATING APPLES!!! 

Our tree didn’t start coming back to life immediately. It took time. It took patience. It took faith. 

I’m reminded of the story of Lazarus in John 11. You can check out my podcast for a more in-depth discussion on this (small plug!). But when Jesus got to Lazarus’ town of Bethany, he was beyond dead! The Bible says he had been in the tomb for 4 days. 

When Jesus saw Lazarus’ tomb, he spoke 3 simple words to his friend. “Lazarus, come forth.” And I love that the Bible tells us that the same power that raised Jesus from the dead is in us (Romans 8:11)! 

There are dreams in my life that sometimes seem like they’re dead. Or are at least on life support underneath all of my responsibilities. But I think about what Jesus told his disciples when he heard of Lazarus’ death. “He’s sleeping” (John 11:11)

Could it be that what you thought was dead is just sleeping? That business, that book, that blog, that podcast, that invention or service? They’re not dead; they’re sleeping, waiting on a word of life to breathe on it and wake it up!

I believe that our apple tree began producing apples again because my husband told it. Neither of us is particularly skilled at gardening but we do know that power of words. And you can speak to the things in your life that aren’t producing and I believe with you that they will come forth!!

Who’s In Your Boat? Part 2 of 2

LISTEN TO THIS PODCAST @ https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/jasmine-lozano-seeking-god-loving-others/id1562418663?i=1000528345473

Last week, I talked about what happens when the wrong people are in your boat or your life, using the story of Jonah. Jonah never belonged on the boat to Tarshish and his very presence put others’ lives in danger.

If you have a specific destination or goal for your life, it’s imperative that you only take along the right people. The wrong people will only cause you unnecessary problems, setbacks, and cause your route to be filled with disorder, devastation, and delays. 

“You are only going to be as good as the people you surround yourself with, so be brave enough to let go those who keep weighing you down.” -Ziad K. Abdelnour

This week, we’ll discuss what kind of people you should not allow in your boat and also, what kind of people make good sailing companions. If you know me, you know I love some good alliteration, so for your reading and podcast listening pleasure, they all start with “C” (You are welcome). And they’re Biblical, too! 

WHAT KIND OF PEOPLE SHOULD NOT BE ON YOUR BOAT:

COMPLAINING PEOPLE

Now the people complained about their hardships in the hearing of the Lord, and when he heard them his anger was aroused. Then fire from the Lord burned among them and consumed some of the outskirts of the camp. (Numbers 11:1)

It is easier to complain than to do something. It’s true. Complaining about something only takes your opinion. Changing something takes action. There is a time to speak up when something needs to be corrected, but I’m talking about complaining just for the sake of it. 

I live in Wisconsin where we really have just two seasons. We have about 3 months of people complaining how hot it is and 9 months of people complaining how cold it is. We have entire websites and apps dedicated as places to complain. Have you ever noticed how many 1 star reviews places get? People often spread bad news faster than good news. 

When the Israelites were in the desert after leaving Egypt, they were set to take over the promised land but the Bible tells us that a group of complainers spread a bad report through the camp that caused the people to become fearful. As a result, they wandered the desert for 40 years.

Complaining is contagious. Why? Because misery loves company. Instead of figuring out a solution to a problem, complainers only talk about why something is the way it is. These type of people will not add value to your goals, they will only place unnecessary obstacles in your path.

COMPLACENT PEOPLE

The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the LORD’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death.” (Exodus 16:3)

Let me start by saying I am not talking about contentment. Contentment is defined as a state of happiness and satisfaction. It’s being grateful for what you have. I recently watched a documentary featuring a man living independently with Down Syndrome. When asked if he wished his life was different, he responded, “I’m happy with my life right now until something better happens.” That is my definition of contentment.

But complacency is something entirely different. “A complacent person is very pleased with themselves or feels that they do not need to do anything about a situation, even though the situation may be uncertain or dangerous” (collinsdictionary.com). 

The Israelites were reminiscing about the food they had in Egypt but they forgot one thing. THEY WERE SLAVES THERE!! They were longing for the complacency they had in Egypt. They were promised a land flowing with milk and honey, but they were longing for meat with a side of bondage. 

We’ve been promised an abundant life (John 10:10) but many believers have become complacent with a life far below the abundance we can receive. Complacent people often won’t challenge you to do and be better, just good enough.

CARELESS PEOPLE

“Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways.” (Proverbs 4:26)

I am a planner. I like to have an idea of what to expect for the day, week, month and year. As an aspiring writer, podcaster, ministry leader, business owner, and homeschooling parent, planning helps me to see my endeavors grow. 

One of my favorite quotes says that if you fail to plan, you are planning to fail. Careless people will definitely keep your boat from arriving at your destination. Careless people very rarely have a vision or plan for their life. 

I was talking to someone who has a dream that to some looks insurmountable. It is a big, bold, “only God can do it” dream, and they’ve encountered some push back from people they’d hoped would encourage them. I shared this with them: People who don’t have a goal or vision for their own life often won’t add much value to yours.

CONTROVERSIAL PEOPLE

“Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels.” (2 Timothy 2:23)

“What do you think about Christians drinking?” This is a trick question. When someone asks you this, they don’t really care what you think. They want to open the door to lay out their seven point presentation about the Troubles of Tonics. 

Some Christians love arguing about the Bible. Not defending it to unbelievers or debating it with an atheist; arguing with other Christians who despite their different beliefs on baptism will still be with them in heaven.

I steer clear of people who are intent on being argumentative because I know that it doesn’t get us anywhere. Controversial people often look for faults in others rather than seeing them through the loving eyes of God. They see the world as us and them. People who think like they do and everyone else is stupid or wrong.

WHAT KIND OF PEOPLE SHOULD BE ON YOUR BOAT:

CONSECRATED

“‘Consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am the Lord your God.” (Leviticus 20:7)

Holiness is not a bad word. I say this a lot because it is true. I am holy. And if you are saved, you are too. My kids don’t have to do anything to prove they are my kids. They are my kids because they lived in my womb for nine months and share my DNA. But because they are my kids, I do have expectations of them. 

And yes, God has expectations for his children. The Bible calls us a peculiar people. That doesn’t mean we are supposed to be weirdos who freak people out as we chase them down with a track entitled, “Be Right or GET LEFT!!!”. But there should be something distinguishable about our lives. 

I have friends from all walks of life, but have to be very mindful of who I trust with my vision and goals. Like-minded, consecrated people will give you the encouragement you need and you can trust it because you know they’ve been with God.

CONSISTENT

“Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain”. (1 Corinthians 15:58)

Consistency is key to reaching your goals. You need faithful, hard working people around you that will help encourage you and keep you accountable. 

COMPETENT

“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16,17)

God wants his people to be well equipped and prepared to serve. I think some people never reach their full potential not because they can’t but because they don’t prepare. 

My kids are still young but I’m teaching them how to prepare for a productive life. I want them to know how to organize their life and their thoughts. I want to show them how to build their relationship with God and the importance of serving him well. 

COMPASSIONATE

“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32)

In my opinion, compassion is one of the characteristics of Christ I’d love to see implemented more in the church. Jesus was a compassionate leader. He looked at the people around him that were hurting and he didn’t blame them or shame them; he had compassion for them. 

I’ve been very fortunate to know many kind, compassionate followers of Christ that have given me grace when I needed it. You need people in your life that will pick you up when you fall. 

My pastor used to say, “We’re a fellowship. All fellows in the same ship.” When we take inventory of who is in our boat, we can see why we’re making headway towards our destination or experiencing delay.

BOOT CAMP: Wk 2 Bible Study

Check out this week’s podcast @ https://anchor.fm/jasmine-lozano4/episodes/Boot-Camp-The-Importance-of-Bible-Study-evkn6i

“For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”Hebrews‬ ‭4:12‬ ‭NIV‬‬

In November 2019, my family visited Newport State Park in Ellison Bay, Wisconsin. It was one of the most magnificent experiences I have ever had. The park is located on the very tip of the Wisconsin Peninsula.

Because this park is designated as a dark sky location, artificial light is heavily discouraged. They ask that if you must use a flashlight, be sure it’s pointed to the ground. There aren’t even any lights on the bathrooms or in the bathrooms, which made it pretty difficult taking my 6 year old to use the unlit bathroom in 28° weather!

Because the weather was so cold at night, we would go back to the car for a few minutes to warm up, but encountered a major problem. Every time we’d turn on the car, my dim lights would still remain on. We knew there had to be a way to turn these off, but we just didn’t know how.

I’ve always been paranoid about keeping the owner’s manual in the car and with the help of it (and google) we found the way to keep the lights off when we started the car.

The owner’s manual for your car helps you to figure out the details of your car that you don’t know. Most of us know how to put the car in drive and we can figure out how to turn the windshield wipers, but there are some areas of our car that we have no knowledge of.

The same is true in life. For many people, there are areas where they are simply not knowledgeable. Maybe you grew up in a home where finances were never discussed so as an adult you struggled trying to make ends meet, get out of debt, or save money. 

Maybe you grew up eating fast food every meal, and now that you’re in your 30s or 40s, you’re finding out that type of diet is not sustainable. Whatever the case may be, we are privy to a wealth of information. Looking up how to solve almost any problem it’s just a few fingertips away. But there are some problems that go deeper than just a Google search. 

For me, there is no other book that can help me understand my money, help me to flourish in my relationships, help me to raise my kids, help me to change my diet, and a host of other problems that plague many of us. That book is the Bible; the word of God. 

2 Timothy 3:16 says “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 

That means every word of the Bible was inspired by God. There is a point to every book, chapter and verse, even the long, boring ones that seem to go on forever! (I’m sorry if you’re offended I called some of the Bible boring, but if you disagree, you’re lying. Come on, Leviticus!?) But they are there for a reason. 

We’ve been given the word of God as a tool to hear the voice of God and familiarize ourselves with his promises and yes, even his consequences. While we have been redeemed from the curse of the law (Galatians 3), there are still consequences to disobeying the word of God, just as there are benefits to obeying it.  

Isaiah 40:8 says “The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever.” 

We see nature changing all of the time in front of our eyes. We also see culture, trends and opinions change just as frequently. While everything around us is unstable and subject to change, the Bible is the one constant we can rest our faith on.

I challenge you to make reading your Bible everyday a priority this week. Decide beforehand how long you will read, where you will do your reading and what book you will read. Don’t leave your spiritual development up to chance. Be intentional about pursuing God’s word and see the difference it will make in your day.

Let’s chat: What are some obstacles you face when trying to be consistent in your Bible reading?

Teach Them the Language

“In those days also I saw the Jews who had married women of Ashdod, Ammon, and Moab. And half of their children spoke the language of Ashdod, and they could not speak the language of Judah, but only the language of each people.”

‭‭Nehemiah‬ ‭13:23-24‬ ‭ESV‬‬

I read this verse last week in my studying. I was reading about how Nehemiah helped orchestrate the rebuilding of Jerusalem and its walls after the Israelites were taken into captivity by the Babylonians. The people of Israel had been separated from their homes. They had married foreign people, which God had instructed them not to do so they wouldn’t be drawn away from him. 

As a result, their children were unable to speak the native language of the Israelites. As believers, we have a native language: Faith. I wonder if we are teaching our children that language.

My mother in law once said, “The kingdom of God has a language: Faith. If you can’t speak it, it’s going to be very hard to operate in God’s kingdom.”

When I went to Mexico a few years ago, I mostly stayed at a resort where English was spoken. But when I did go into the city, I needed to know the language. Luckily, I grew up in Texas, so I knew enough to get by. 

Unfortunately, this is the situation for many believers. They grew up in a home where they caught pieces of the language of faith, but because it wasn’t intentionally taught to them, they only know enough to get by. 

Jesus didn’t call us to just get by. He came so that we might have life and have it more abundantly! (John 10:10). We have to be intentional about instructing our children about the things of God. We have to teach them not just how to pray, but why we pray. Children will do what they see. 

Every morning, my son is up before most of us in the house. I wish I had his energy! He usually goes downstairs with my husband who also wakes up early to read and study the Bible. He had the habit of grabbing his tablet and headphones and just watching something until it was time to get moving for the day.

While we are not opposed to him being on his tablet in the morning, my husband and I decided it wasn’t the best way to start his day. Recently, he’s started beginning his day by reading his Bible before getting on his tablet. 

It’s not a punishment or a requirement we’re forcing him to do. We want him to see it as encouragement to start the day with time with God. That before anything else happens in the day, it’s important to see what God may want to speak to you.

Let your children see you worship, pray, and read your Bible. Teach them the importance of giving, serving and fasting. It is our responsibility to teach them the language of faith before they enter the world so that they can operate abundantly in God’s kingdom.

Don’t Forget the Main Ingredient

Last night, my husband and I were sitting on the couch, finishing our evening coffee we have every night together when he gets home from work.

It wasn’t a busy day, but the kids and I had run some errands in the afternoon, so I didn’t really make plans for dinner. I figured I’d make tacos because we all love them and they’re fairly easy, but I didn’t have any ground beef.

As I neared the end of my coffee, I told him I didn’t have a plan for dinner so we were going to pick up food. I told him that I was going to make tacos, but didn’t have any meat.

“Isn’t that the main ingredient you need to make tacos!” he laughed, almost spitting out his coffee. WE both laughed and then ordered a pizza.

For the past few weeks, I’ve been preparing a message for my women’s event at church. Today as I gathered what I needed for my message, I sat back to make sure I had everything. Notes, check. Bible, check. Clothes ready, check.

I felt ready to go. Then I remembered I was forgetting the main ingredient. I paused and dropped down to my knees.

Lord, will you be with me tonight? Will you fill my mouth with your words? Will you meet us as we gather and meet the needs of your women?”

What started as a quick, almost forgotten prayer, turned into hours of prayer and praise and worship. I almost forgot the main ingredient that would ensure that no matter who did or didn’t show up for the service, God would be there.

Have you ever made something and forgot an ingredient or used the wrong ingredient? Missing an ingredient can ruin an entire meal. Leaving out prayer and worship can ruin even weeks worth of preparation and planning.

No amount of preparation or planning can replace the presence of God. Make room for him and invite him into everything you do.

Spring Cleaning

I am not a naturally tidy person. My husband and I joke that my tolerance for filth is higher than his. Considering I had a housekeeper at age 21 when we met, I’d say he had plenty of notice!

Most messes don’t bother me much. I have no problem overlooking the pile of dishes in the sink, the multi room fort the kids like to create, or every pillow from the entire house stacked into a mountain. 

But the one mess I cannot tolerate is an unswept floor. There is nothing worse than a wet sock from stepping in spilled water or brushing crushed pretzels off of your bare feet. Ok, maybe childbirth is a little worse. 

If I do no other housekeeping task in a day, I will sweep the floor. I usually use my hard floor vacuum but every so often I’ll use the broom. My kids always ask, “Why are you sweeping the old fashioned way?!” 

It always amazes me the amount of mess I sweep up from just one day. The piles look like something from an episode of Hoarders! But despite how disgusted this makes me feel, it reminds me of how quickly our lives can become cluttered when we aren’t careful to maintain them. And like my floor, clearing the clutter of our lives is an everyday job.

Romans 12:2 tells us to “be transformed by the renewing of your minds” but many people think this is a one time thing. Imagine how much trash I would sweep up if I only swept once a month!

Many believers expect the trash of their lives to be handled with a one hour service on Sunday. We come to church and sing and clap and pray (maybe), then head back into the week and allow the dust of life to gather.

We have to be intentional about daily removing the things that clutter our minds and spirits. Do you have a daily practice of reading the Bible? Do you make time each day to talk to God? Do you feed your spirit with faith-filled words? 

If you aren’t careful to daily sweep out the junk of everyday living, it will begin to pile up and before you know it, what could have been a 5 minute chore could end up taking much longer.

If you haven’t already, make time to spend with God today. Ask him what areas of your life have hidden clutter you may not even see. Ask him to guide you in your day. Welcome him to be a part of it. It’s a practice that seems so small but if it’s skipped, you will notice!