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It is Well

I woke up on this week with such a heavy heart.  My heart is heavy trying to understand what is happening in our world today.  Like many of you, I’ve had feelings of frustration, anger, hopelessness and sadness.   I question where the good is in all of this and how are we going to overcome so much hate in the world.

Then, as I was praying,  God brought me back to an old hymn that many of us sing today, “It is Well with my Soul”.   The words in this song have brought many people so much comfort and peace over the years.   As I listened to this song over and over again over the past couple of days I wanted to find out who wrote the song and what caused him to write such powerful words.

It is Well with my Soul was written by Haratio Spafford.  He was a wealthy Chicago man, a thriving lawyer, a husband, a father to four daughters and one son and he was a devout Christian.

At the very height of his financial and professional success, Horatio and his wife Anna suffered the tragic loss of their young son.  Shortly thereafter in 1871, he lost almost every real estate investment to a great Chicago fire.  In 1873, Spafford scheduled a boat trip to Europe to give his wife and daughters for a much  needed vacation.   Spafford sent his wife and daughters ahead of him while he remained in Chicago to take care of unexpected business.

Several days later he received word that his family’s ship had encountered a collision.  All four of his daughters drowned and only his wife survived.

Spafford had experienced so many tragic events that most of us would never experience in our entire life.

He booked the next ship to go and be with his grieving wife, Anna.  As he was on the ship the captain called Spafford up and showed him where his daughters took their last breath.   As Spafford looked over the ocean I can only imagine the emotion that he must have been feeling.  Not only did he lose one child, but all four daughters.  He probably felt a lot of what many of us are feeling today: Anger, frustration, hopelessness, and a sense of loss.

Instead of becoming angry, he reached out to God for help on the only thing he knew to hold onto: his faith.

 He immediately went down to his cabin and wrote the words to It is Well With My Soul.  Here are some of the powerful words that he wrote:

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,

When sorrows like sea billows roll;

Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,

It is well, it is well with my soul. 

It is well (it is well),

with my soul (with my soul),

It is well, it is well with my soul. 

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,

Let this blest assurance control,

That Christ hath regarded my helpless estate,

And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

 My sin, oh the bliss of this glorious thought! 

These words are powerful.  Horatio knew what it was like to almost loose everything.  He knew that the only peace that could settle his soul was the peace that comes from God.  That is what the world needs today!  We need to get on our knees and pray like we have never prayed before.  We need to keep our eyes on Jesus even when it looks hopeless, and we don’t know what to do.

3 things to do in when things look hopeless: 

1.    Pray - Hold on to these words from Phil. 4:6-7 “Do not be anxious about anything but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and mind in Christ Jesus.” When you don’t know what to do, pray!  Prayer should not be our last resort but we need to realize that it’s our only option.   When we pray, things happen!

2.    Seek – God desires to have a relationship with you.  He wants to hear your desires and your hurts.

 Matthew 6:33, “ But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

Deut. 4:29, “But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you look for him with all your heart and with all your soul.”

1 Chron. 16:11, “ Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always.”

When we spend time with God we can’t help but be filled with who He is.  Filled with his peace, strength, love and hope.

3.     Love – We need to love those around us.  Those who make us uncomfortable, those who don’t look like us and show love to all.

 John 13:35:, “By this all men will know that you are my disciple, if you love one another.”

Mark 12:31, “The second is this, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself…”

I Cor. , “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love.  But the greatest of these is love.”

I John 4:18, “There is no fear in love.  But perfect love drives out fear…”

Love drives out fear.  Where does fear come from?  It comes from hurt.  When we began to bring love it’s amazing how the fear will go away.

If you don’t know what to do,  start by doing the above 3 things.  Surround yourself with God’s work and Pray, Seek and Love.

I don’t have all the answers but I am trusting in something that is much bigger than me and believing that only He can bring HOPE to a hopeless situation. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5 simple Ways to Teach Kids to be Thankful

One of my favorite holidays is just around the corner, Thanksgiving!  I love this holiday not only for all the delicious food but what it represents, creating an atmosphere of thankfulness.  I have so much to be thankful for.  My kids, my husband, my family, Jesus, and the list could go on and on.

I have two beautiful children, Peyton who is 7 and Charlotte who is 4.  As a parent my goal is to raise kids who are thankful and appreciate what they have but if your kids are anything like mine it’s sometimes can feel like a hard task.

One morning I was praying and I was thinking of ways on how I can teach and lead my kids in having a heart of gratitude.  Here are a couple activities to do with your family to help cultivate a heart of thankfulness.

5 ways to teach your kids on how to be thankful:

  1. Create the ABC’s of Thanksgiving: This was a fun activity to do as a family.  We wrote what we were thankful for with each letter of the alphabet.  There were some funny things like bugs, toys, and orange juice ABC's of Thanksgivingand there were some heart felt things such as Jesus, food, our house and our life.  After we completing the list we put it in a place where we could see it every day to remind us to be thankful.
  2. Create a Thankful Turkey: I bought a thankful turkey from a craft store and we wrote what we were thankful for on each turkey feather.  Again this reminded us of all the blessings that God has giving us everyday.
  3. Write Thank you notes: Who doesn’t love to get a thank you card or a card in the mail?   I had my children pick 2-3 people that they wanted to write a thank you card to.  My son picked our neighbor, his aunt and a friend and my daughter picked her teacher’s.  It was a great way for them to express why they are thankful for that person and to take time to write and mail them a card.
  4. Adopt a family:  We have adopted a family that we know is in need and have bought them all the food to have a thanksgiving dinner with their family.  Call your church or local shelter and see how you and your family can serve and help in your community.
  5. Make something special and give it away:  We will be making cookies and passing it out to our neighbors and letting them know that we are thankful for them.  It seems small but can have a hug impact!

Turkey Pic 1These activities were so fun to do together as a family.  My kids really enjoyed being apart of the activities and thinking about how they could give. Just pick a couple of the activities to do with your kids or do them all.

As you are with your family, eating your turkey remember, “In all things give thanks.” 1 Thess. 5:18 

Give thanks for the good things that make you happy, the hard things that make you stronger and the little things that we take for granted. 

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

 

 

“We all need someone to lean on”

Ever try to do something that you thought you couldn’t do?  This time last year some of my best friends and I thought it would be a good idea to do the YMCA stair climb in one of the tallest buildings in Los Angeles.  Sounds easy enough, right? Wrong!

We wouldn’t be climbing just 10 flights of stairs but 75 flights of stairs!

As my friends were asking me if I wanted to sign up to do the stair climb, I thought, “There is no way that I can do that!  I get tired just going up my one flight of stairs!” They encouraged me to do it and said that we would do it together and that we would be raising money for a good cause.

The more I thought about it the more I thought I need to do this.  Not only to help the kids at YMCA but to push myself and do something with and for somebody else.

The day had finally come for the stair climb.  I am not going to lie –  I was really nervous.  I had images of myself fainting, throwing up or not being able to finish.  We started to walk up the first flight of stairs, then the second flight, third, fourth and so on.  The five of us girls were encouraging each other every step of the way.  When one would get tired we would take a break, drink some water and continue to move.  Volunteers were encouraging us on every flight of stairs and strangers began to encourage each other too. stair climb

Have you ever tried to do life alone?  If you have then you know that it can be pretty boring.  There was no way that I would have finished the stair climb if my friends weren’t there encouraging me.  They encouraged me when I wanted to give up.  They gave me the motivation to keep going.  They never left me for a second and we were able to celebrate because we finished something together!

Here are a couple of verses that talk about how we are supposed to encourage….

 1 Thessalonians 5:11 “So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.” (NLT)

1 Corinthians 12:26 “If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.” (ESV)

Hebrews 10:24-25 “Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.” (NLT)

Ephesians 4:29 “Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.” (NLT)

Colossians 3:16 “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” (KJV)

Sometimes life can feel like going up 75 flights of stairs.  You may feel like you’re not going to make it and you want to give up.   Make sure to surround yourself with people who will encourage you, challenge you and be there with you until you cross the finish line.

God clearly says in the Bible that we need each other.  We were not meant to do life alone!  We need each other.

I am so happy that God has blessed me with friends who are not only there for me in the good times but they are also there for me when life gets hard.

They encourage me to not give up, to keep going and they push me to be who God has created me to be!   As the familiar song says, “We all need somebody to lean on.”

Thank you to Tanya, Kim, Andrea and Val!  Thank you for pushing me and helping me accomplish something that I thought I could never do.  Your encouragement helped me to cross the finish line and for that I am so thankful!  Love you girls!!

 

Overcoming Back to School Stress

It’s that time again- back to school time. For parents we are thinking, “where did the summer go?” and for some kids they are excited with new haircuts, new clothes, new backpacks and ready to make new friends.

My kids have just finished their first week of school and I am already exhausted. I look at the pile of paper work that needs to be filled out, the homework that needs to be done and I become overwhelmed. Do you ever feel that way?

Then, I tell myself to breathe, and whisper to myself that it’s going to be ok. I remind myself that this year is going to fly by just like the last year did and before you know it my kids will be going off to college and making a life of their own.

The 3 P’s for making this a good year:

  • Be prepared: Mornings are so crazy and hectic for my family and sometimes I fell like I turn into crazy mom. I told myself that I was not going to be that person this year. Make your kids lunches the night before; lay your kids clothes out the night before, give your kids and yourself enough time to get ready.
  • Pray: It’s amazing that when we stop what we are doing and pray as a family, we begin to become calm. My kids love this time because we pray for the day, pray for their teacher and pray for their friends.
  • Stay Positive: The school year can sometimes bring challenges for you and your children. Maybe they will have a hard time in a certain subject, maybe they will have a hard time with a friend or maybe it will just be a challenging year. Do your best to stay positive and trust that God will take care of it all. I have to remind myself that God created my kids and he loves and cares for them much more than I ever could. If I do my part as a parent I believe that He will take care of them.

Here are two verses that have helped me to trust God and stay positive with my kids:

“Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.”  Proverbs 22:6 

“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.  Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed.  And in Your book they all were written, The days fashioned for me, When as yet there were none of them.” Proverbs 139:13-16 

These verses have really helped me when I want to start worrying about my kids.   I have to remember that God gives you and I the tools to raise our kids and the Bible says they will not depart from it.

I love the second verse too because it tells me that God created our kids and that He has a purpose and a plan for their lives. He has fashioned the days for them and they are fearfully and wonderfully made. What a great promise for our kids!

So when you become stressed or want to act like the crazy parent in the morning remember to Be Prepared, Pray and Stay Positive. I pray that this year will be the best year yet for your kids! Have a great year!!!

 

Sunday is Coming!

Waiting, a word many of us do not like to hear.  Waiting on a new job, waiting for an answer to a hopeless situation, waiting for God to restore a marriage and just waiting.  Waiting is one of the hardest things for me to do.

In the society that we live in today we are so use to getting what we want and when we want it.  It’s funny because even in the line at a grocery store I notice when people are getting annoyed because they have to wait an extra minute.  They began to become uncomfortable as if they don’t know how to be still and just wait.

The disciples were in this position, the position of waiting.  They had just finished having the last supper and Jesus had an intimate conversation with them.  Jesus told them what was going to happen.  He said I am going to die but not to worry because I will rise from the dead and that “Sunday is coming.”

The disciples were probably filled with confidence because Jesus was just in their midst but as soon as the soldiers came to arrest Jesus doubt and fear began to settle in.  What Jesus had just told them seemed to not hold true because the situation went from a peaceful situation to a situation filled with chaos.

The disciples saw Jesus get beaten, spit on, a crown of thorns on his head, nails in his hands and feet and saw him hanging on the cross.  Then the disciples heard, “It is finished.”  They thought it was finished.  They thought that they had lost and that it was over.

As I sit here thinking about what it would have been like to be in that waiting period, I can’t help but cry.  Not only thinking about the pain and anguish that Jesus went through for me but thinking about how many times I have doubted Jesus even right after he was in my midst.

There are so many things in my own life that I am waiting on and instead of trusting that my “Sunday is coming” I worry.  I become fearful.  I began to doubt.  I give up.  Sound familiar?

I am not sure what you are waiting for but Jesus is here to tell you to hold on.  It looks like it’s hopeless but I keep hearing God saying your “Sunday is coming.”

In order for us to hold on we need to hide God’s word in our hearts.  Here are some verses that will help you to hold on:

“I remain confident of this:  I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.  Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait on the Lord.” Ps. 27: 13-14

“But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Is. 40:31

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.  The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of god, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Gal. 2: 20

“Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him.” Ps. 62:5

Memorize the above verses.  Put them in a place that you can see everyday.  It’s amazing what happens when you began to quote scripture.  Though your situation might not change right away your attitude begins to change.  You began to have a peace that can only come from God.

Jesus went through too much on the cross for us to not live a life of victory!  The Bible said that he bore our sins; he took our sickness, our past and so much more, so that we could live a life of hope and peace.

Though today may be a day of waiting remember your, “Sunday is coming!”

He has not forgotten you, He will prove himself faithful and hold on!!!

 

 

 

4 Simple ways to Show Love to your Kids

Are you hearing the word “love” a lot this month?  They pink and red color hearts are everywhere and love is definitely in the air.

We tend to use the word love for many things.  We say we love our kids, we love a certain color, we love our family, we love God, and the list can go on and on.

I don’t know about you but I am usually running from one place to another whether it’s soccer, doing homework, making dinner or just trying to keep up with the daily tasks of life.   Sometimes we become so busy that we can forget to stop and tell the most important little people in our lives how much we love them.

4 simple ways to show our children that we love them:

Listen to them:  It’s amazing to me but God usually gets my attention through my children.  Sometimes it’s what they say, the love that they show to a friend or the joy that they have.   Jesus told us to become like little children for a reason.

Laney and Peyton PB and JMy son and I were in the car a couple months ago and we saw a homeless person.  As my son usually does, he asked me a ton of questions about the man but his last question really stuck with me.  He said, “Mom, why aren’t we helping him?”  For some reason I just couldn’t just give him a status quo answer.   I asked, “What do you think we should do?”  So we came up with a solution and we now keep lunches in our car with a special note and every time we see a homeless person we give him the lunch.  We have had a chance to pray with some people, love on them and meet a need.  Take time to listen to your children.  You never know what God may be trying to tell you.  They might be small but they have big hearts and a great perspective that has not been tainted by the world.Peyton PB and J

Obey: You may be thinking, “Obey?”  Yes, Obey.  Set up boundaries.  Kids need boundaries, and God has called us to do that for them as parents.   They need guidelines and we are there to be able to set those guidelines for them.  Be consistent.  Kid like to test us as parents and they know when we are serious or when they can get away with something.  Being consistent will teach your kids that you will follow through, even when it’s hard.  Love no matter what!   Raising kids will be a challenge but our kids need to know that our motive in having them to obey is always driven by our love for them.  We love them when they are being good and we love them when they are not making the right choices.   We are modeling the love that our heavenly father has for us.

Value Them:  Kids need to be told that you love them, care about them and value them.  Remember that feeling you had when you first held your baby in your hand?  I remember thinking, “Wow! God has entrusted me with this precious life; this valuable life!” Time goes by so fast and we only have our children for a small amount of time.  Remember to value them!

Encourage them: Kids get discouraged just like you and I.  They sometimes are struggling in school, fight with a friend or just have a bad day.  I love leaving special notes for my kids.  I put it in their lunch boxes, in their room or on the kitchen table for breakfast time.  For the month of February, I put a heart with a note of encouragement on my kids door for each day of the month.   Encouraging things that I love about them, like their smile, when they are being kind and attributes that I see in them.  We need to be encouraging to our kids daily because, as we know, it’s a hard world out there and our kids need to know that home is a safe place.  Home is an encouraging place.

Did you know that the word love is used over 300 times in the Bible?  God knew that there is power when we give love, show love and teach love.  Go and love on those around you and especially show love to your children.  It’s a matter of time before they will be grown up, out the door and showing love to their own kids.  What you are doing today is making a difference and the love you show will carry them through the good days, hard days and everything in between.

May you feel the love that Christ has for you as a parent and that his love is never ending!

 “Give thanks to the God of heaven, for his steadfast love endures forever.” Psalm 136:26

 

 

 

Unwrap Worship

I am so happy that you are participating in this family devotional this Christmas Season!   I have written the devotionals to coordinate with my church new series call “Unwrapped”.   Over the next four weeks we will Unwrap Worship, Unwrap Generosity, Unwrap Love and Unwrap Hope 

 I have divided the devotional into 4 sections:

1. Take a Look will focus on what the devotional will be about.

2. Dig Deep will be the Bible reading section.  We want kids to know that the Christmas story doesn’t come from a story book but that it comes from the Word of God.  It’s important that our kids see us opening the Bible and reading it as a family.

3. What’s Next? will give you practical ways our children can apply the lesson to their lives.  There will also be a coloring sheet or an activity for some hands-on fun.  

4. Parents Corner will be my challenge to you and some practical application to do with your family.

Taking time to do this devotional with your family will be very beneficial.  It’s amazing what happens when we stop with all the hustle and bustle and we spend time together in God’s word as a family.

Before you start the devotional do these 3 things:

1.    Pray- Pray that this time will help you grow as a family. 
2.    Stay Committed – Set a day and a time that you will meet, and stay committed.  There is so much going on during the holidays that other activities will compete with this family time. Make this a priority! Set up the time as a family and honor that commitment.  
3.    Have Fun – Use this time to enjoy being with your kids and allow them this time with you.  Believe it or not your children want to spend time with you and what better way to connect with them than through a little fun?

God is going to do some amazing things in your family this season.  I would love to hear any special stories or how this devotional has strengthened your family.  Please email me at hermelinda.simon@watermarkoc.org

 

 Kids Family Devotional - Week One: Unwrap Worship

Bible Verse:  “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God.  You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus.” 

Take a Look: Definition of Worship: To assign worth or value to something.  To worship God is  to assign the proper worth to God.   We worship God in many ways.  We can worship God by praising Him through song.  We worship God when we obey our parents, listen to our teacher’s, and when we make good decisions in our every day lives. 

Ask your children:

  • What is your favorite worship song that you sing at church?
  • How can you worship God with your life?  Being kind, listening to my parents, helping others

Dig Deep:

Bible Reading – Luke 1: 26- 35 (read this passage with your children)

  • How do you think Mary felt when the Angel appeared to her? Scared, nervous
  • What did the Angel tell Mary to give her comfort? He said, “Do not be afraid”
  • After telling Mary not to be afraid, what was the Good News that Mary received? She will give birth to a son named Jesus. He would be great, and called the Son of the Most High.
  • Even though Mary was scared did she still obey God? Yes
  • Is it always easy for you to obey? Let your kids respond
  • When we obey we are honoring God and worshipping Him with our lives. 
  • Do you want to obey and honor God with your life? Let your kids respond

What’s Next?

  • There are many words in the English language that mean obedience or “pleasing to God.” Virtue, goodness, holiness, righteousness, honor, uprightness, integrity, and morality are a few. When these characteristics are missing, the person is not complete. But a person who obeys or who is pleasing to God and pleasing to others can be used in a mighty way. That’s how God used Mary above all the other virgins to be the mother of His only Son. How wonderful! Who knows what great things are in store for all of us when we choose to obey?
  • Activity with your kids:   Have your kids write down 3-5 ways on how they are going to worship God with their lives –  helping someone in need for the Christmas season, working on obeying, being kind to a brother or sister, etc. 

 Parents Corner: The Christmas season can be so busy that it is so easy to forget the true meaning of Christmas. I encourage you to do a service project with your kids.

1.    Help a family in need.  Buy food for the family or gifts for the kids.  Go together as a family and pick up groceries or gifts for the kids, but make sure to do it together. 
2.    Go to a mission and serve the homeless as a family.
3.    Make cookies together and take them to a neighbor or someone who need some extra cheer this season. 

  • Close in prayer with your children.  Pray that God will help you as a family to worship Him through your lives. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No matter what season you are in, God is always faithful!

It has been a little while since I have been able to write and I am going a crazy!  I love writing!   Writing has been a stress reliever, a way for me to communicate and helps me to relax.   So, today I decided that I needed to write.

God has a funny way of doing things.  About 6 months ago, my husband and I had a conversation of the possibility of me going back in to ministry.  I had been a stay- at -home mom for the past 3 years and now my son was in school full -time and my daughter was starting preschool, so it seemed like a good time.

My husband and I decided that we would just pray and wait; something that is not very easy for me.  I didn’t send my resume out or even look for any churches that were hiring.

Too be honest, I always had the heart for ministry but was a little tired of the politics of ministry.   The church I was at was more concerned with the #’s I was producing, having the “WOW” factor, and giving more time to the ministry then to my family.  I knew that wasn’t what God wanted me to do, so through a very hard process I resigned.  When I am ready I may write another blog on that experience. Lol!

I left that church thinking that God was done with me in ministry and I really had nothing else to give.   I was broken, tired, overwhelmed, and I was exactly where God wanted me to be. 

Psalms 9:10 says, “And those who know Your name will put their trust in You; For you, Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you.” 

So, that is what I did, I sought God and trusted him.  I know- sounds easier said than done, but nothing else seem to be working.   There were hard times, good times and just time of waiting, but the experience has truly taught me so much.

What God has taught me in the process:

1.  Remember it’s only a season:  When we read about people in the Bible who ever did anything for Him, they were always put through many different seasons.  Some were good, bad, hard or just a season of waiting.  The past couple of years were my season of waiting.  Though it was a hard season as well it was a complete reliance on God and realizing who I truly am in Him.

No matter what season you are in, whether good or bad make sure that your heart stays free from any bitterness or anger.  It’s amazing what God can do with us if we are obedient in the season that we are in.

2.  Seek God no matter how you feel:  Our feelings can sometimes get in the way of who God really is.  Just because we are going through a hard time doesn’t change that God is still faithful.  He is our provider.  He is our strength. He is our Hope. He gives Peace, and the list can go on and on. 

The Verse in Psalms says that God will not forsake us when we seek Him.  No matter what you are feeling, continue to seek Him.  Even when you don’t feel anything, He is still at work on your behalf.

3.  He is not finish with you yet: This is so refreshing to know.  When we go through hard times we can see it as a defeat or as an opportunity for what God has next! 

In Philippians 1:6 It says,  “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it…”

The past couple of years I held on to this verse, knowing that God would call me back in to ministry again.  That’s sometimes hard to believe when you listen to what other people say or when you listen to the enemies lies.

Remember, that what God has started in your heart today or many days ago He will bring it to past.  Stand firm in who He is and know that He is not finished with you yet!

4. Reconcile:  When I left my last church it wasn’t that I left on a bad note but I felt like I didn’t have closure on a couple of things.

I was in church on a Sunday and the Pastor was talking about how in order for God to work in our lives we need to be willing to forgive and reconcile with those around us.   Immediately the previous Pastors that I worked with came to my mind.  I tried to ignore it and I couldn’t so I reached out to them to meet with them. I needed to make sure that my heart didn’t have any bitterness or resentment.

 In Hebrews 12:14 it says, “Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.” 

In Colossians 3:13 it says, “Try to understand other people. Forgive each other. If you have something against someone, forgive him. That is the way the Lord forgave you.”

I met with the Pastors and I can honestly say that when I left that meeting all the bitterness and resentment that I had was left in that office.  When we step out in obedience to what God has asked us to do, it’s amazing how he will lift that burden and stress that has been weighing us down for so long.

The Bible says, to try to understand people and make every effort to live in peace with everyone.   That doesn’t mean that it will always turn out the way we would like it to, but it doesn’t change the fact that we are responsible for what God has called us out to do.

I wouldn’t change the past 3 years because I have seen God’s faithfulness through it all.  Was it always easy? NO!  Did everything work out the way that I hope for it to? NO!  Did God prove himself faithful? YES!  Though at times it was a really hard season it has given me a new passion for people, for ministry and for broken people.

Many people in ministry want to reach broken people but they have never been broken themselves. 

I have been back in ministry at a wonderful church for about a month, and I am loving it!

The best thing that God did for me was taking me out of ministry for 3 years.  For so many of us in ministry we forget why we got in ministry in the first place.  Not being in ministry helped me remember that there are is a lost world out there, hurting people who live right next door to me and that ministry is not about me.  Don’t get caught up in all the details, conflicts, egos, frustrations but remember that the church is suppose to be the hope of the world. 

 Hold on to the desires that God has placed inside of you.  Remember that it’s only a season, to seek God, and He is not finished! !  I know from experience that He is faithful and He will come through.

Stand on His word know that the….

 “The grass withers and the flowers fade, but the Word of God stands forever.” Isaiah 40:8.  

Have No Fear The New School Year Is Here!

The last couple weeks have been full of so many changes.   My daughter turned 3 and both kids started school this week.  I know, many of you are doing the happy dance right now because your kids are back in school!

My son will be starting Kindergarten and will be in school all day and my 3 –year-old daughter will be going for a couple hours a day for 2 days a week.   So, I will actually have a couple hours a week to myself! I can’t even imagine what that would feel like. First school day pic

I know, I know most of you probably have kids who are already off to college and you are a pro at this whole parenting thing, but me?  Not so much!

I find myself happy because I will actually be getting 2 hours to myself but sad because the kids are growing up.  It’s so true what they say, “time goes by so fast so enjoy every moment”.

Though this week is filled with many joyous times it also is a stressful time for moms.  There are endless forms to fill out for the kids, soccer has started, homework has started and let’s not forget about all the perfect picture moments that we want to get of our kids.

Being a parent is interesting, frightening, rewarding and frustrating, sometimes all at once. 

5 Things to remember as you go into the school year:

1.    Relax: I know this might sound easier said then done.  I don’t know about you but I’m usually running around a hundred miles a minute in the mornings and rushing around to get the kids ready, lunches ready, homework in the folder and if I have time brush my teeth and run out the door.  I know that’s probably just me.  I’ve had to remind myself already to take a deep breath, calm down and do the best that I can.  The last things our kids need is feeling our anxiety as they go into their day.

2     Pray with your kids:  This is something that I started to do in the car before my kids go into their class.  It not only helps the kids feel a sense of calmness but it really helps me too.   You will also be modeling to your kids how to pray and to pray on every occasion.

3.    Be Prepared:  I’ve realized to help me in the morning that I need to be more prepared.  I usually try and do everything at the last minute and it causes stress for the whole house.  Make the kids lunches the night before, lay their clothes out the night before, get backpacks ready, etc.  To be honest I am not the greatest at this yet, but it is definitely something that I want to work on this year.

4.    Take your me time: I know this sounds crazy but I thought that when I had a couple hours to myself that I would be jumping up and down with joy, but that wasn’t necessarily the case.  I found myself a little sad because my kids were gone.  Then I found myself busy doing stuff for the kids.  I thought,  “Wow! I can do laundry without any interruptions, or clean the house without hearing someone say ‘mommy’ a million times!”  Though it’s a great feeling to get those things done, make sure to do something for yourself.  As moms we are so busy taking care of everyone else that we tend to forget about ourselves. Go have coffee with a friend, go get a manicure/pedicure, get that haircut that you have been wanting to get for the last year and do all this without guilt!  It’s ok for you to have some “me time!” You deserve it and God knows that you have earned it!

5.  Trust your kids to God: The hardest thing for a parent is to see our kids go through hard times.  I know my kids are young but I’ve already experienced this for myself.  My son getting picked on, crying because a kid was mean to him on the playground, etc.  I don’t know about you but Mamma Bear wants to come out right away, but then God reminds me to trust their sweet lives to him.  It is not our job to save them from every situation but it is our job to raise with the God given tools that we have so that they will become a blessing to society.  I’ve learned that my son learns the best lessons when he learns how to handle the situation himself.  He feels better about the situation and realizes that Mommy doesn’t always have to save him.  This Bible verse really helps me when I start to worry.

Peyton K “Train up a child in the way he should go,
 And when he is old he willnot depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6

As parents we need to remember that if we do our part with what God has given us then He will do His part.  We can send our kids off to school in confidence knowing that He will take care of them!

Take a deep breathe, enjoy the special moments because our kids will grow up way too quickly and get ready for a great year!

God is good even when we don’t understand: An update on Pastor Bayless

Today I got to witness one of the best things I have seen in a long time- Pastor Bayless’  first sermon since his boating accident.  It has been 5 ½ months since he Pastor Bhas been able to speak to his congregation at Cottonwood Church, where my family and I have attended the past 3 years.

Pastor Bayless Conley is one of those pastors that you know are the real deal.  They aren’t  concerned with entertaining you or making you feel good; he speaks truth and speaks from the Word.

He is a recovering drug addict and received Christ in his early 20’s when a 12 –year- old boy told him about Jesus for the first time and his life was radically changed. He has a huge heart for the lost and has a salvation message at every service because he does not want any one to ever miss the opportunity to receive Christ.

On January 22nd, 2014 while traveling to Catalina and doing what he loved to do, spear diving, he was in a terrible boating accident.   He was traveling with 2 friends, when their boat hit a cliff off of Catalina Island head first.

He does not remember anything until 10 days after the crash when he woke up in ICU.  He had bleeding in his brain, his throat was crushed, his artery was bleeding and they weren’t sure he was going to make it through the night.  He had to eat through a feeding tube and didn’t have a drink of water or swallow food for over 2 months.   He lost lots of blood and the doctors said that if he had come 15 minutes later to the hospital then, he wouldn’t have survived.

I remember hearing the news for the first time when I was at a women’s bible study and we all began to pray.  The church came together like never before and prayed earnestly during that crucial time.

I have always had respect for Pastor Bayless but hearing him preach today what God has shown him over the past 5-½ months causes me to have even more respect for him.

Here is what Pastor Bayless has learned over the past 5 months.  

1.  The Promises:  Every promise will be fulfilled!  Not one of his promises has or will ever fail.   The promises have already been given! God’s promises connect us to the nature of Christ.  His peace, truth, love, health, and wholeness.   We have to believe and embrace God’s promises in order to receive them.  If you are going through a hard time, then find a promise that covers your need.

2.    The People – We need each other!  It’s amazing how much we realize we need each other when we go through a hard time.  Pastor Bayless said that people were praying, bringing over meals for their family, and sending encouragement any way they could.  God has designed us to need each other and we truly experience what the church family is when we lean on one another. 

3.    Patience:  We need to be people who endure even when it gets hard.  Most of what God does is part of a process.   Do not complain during the process.  When delays come, you must guard your soul and guard your tongue.   Rejoice in the process and keep your eyes on Him.  Trust that God knows what He is doing and rejoice before, during and after the process.  He will prove himself faithful!

 4.    Pride:   Pastor Bayless said this has been a very humbly experience.  God has given him the gift to preach and not to be able to do that for 5 ½ months has been very difficult.   His speech was impaired and is an ongoing process.  He told a funny story about his 3-year-old grandson.  Everyone has been telling him that he sounds great and his voice is improving every day.  His grandson told him one day, “Papa, why does your voice sound so weird?”  It’s funny how kids will always tell us the truth.  He knows that he is a work in progress that that God is healing him more and more each day.

5.    Peace – The Prince of Peace:  Pastor Bayless has an intimate relationship with Christ.  He knows that Christ binds things together what has been ripped apart and brings peace.  Though he didn’t have all the answers and didn’t understand all that God was doing he could have peace because he knew that Jesus was in control!

Pastor Bayless is truly a walking miracle. The Coast Guard that was practicing the night of the accident was not normally there and it was a miracle that they were Cottonwood Mottoable to help in a matter of minutes.   The doctors were amazed when the bleeding in his brain just stopped.  When the doctor went in to stop the bleeding on his artery the doctor told him that the bleeding had suddenly stopped.  He knows that it wasn’t just a coincidence but that God was working a miracle in his life.

He continues to give all glory to God!  He said, “I believe that God is good even when I don’t understand.”   He has allowed this circumstance to not make him bitter but to make him better and through his commitment in Christ many more people will come to know Him!

Thank you Pastor Bayless for being a man of integrity, a man of great character and a man who points us all to Jesus even in the hard times.  You are truly an example of God’s Grace, miracle power and goodness!

Whatever you are going through today, remember to trust God in the process.   Don’t give up and keep going!  He is faithful and he will fulfill his promises!!!