Peace of My Heart

An encouraging voice to drown out the noise

~Grateful Mommy~ January 17, 2016

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Some days I look at any one of my babies and think surely my heart will explode from the love I feel for them. Today it’s Bella, with her sleepy eyes and tousled hair, straight out of bed in her Elsa slippers. She makes a beeline for me as I sit reading with coffee in hand and lays across my lap. There’s nothing spectacular about the moment. She does the same thing nearly every day. But today when I look at her squishy face with the dusting of freckles across her nose, I tear up.

One day she’ll stop greeting me this way. One day she’ll walk right past me to the kitchen to fix her own breakfast. One day she’s going to stop pressing her nose to mine as she promises to love me forever, even on her birthday. Thankfully, today is not that day. However, I can’t know when that inevitable day will come.

I’m not sure what’s wrong with me, why I’m so overcome with emotion, maybe I’ve been reading too many books that pull on the heartstrings!! What I do know is my children are gifts. Even when I’m worn, hurt or furious, they are my prize, my biggest accomplishment and the joy they bring far outweighs the nuisances that pepper our daily routines.

So when Isaiah puts his big man feet on every available surface, Peyton cuts me to the quick with his sometimes curt words, Autumn rolls her teenagry eyes at me, Emma stomps off in defiance or Bella dissolves into a puddle of tears over the word “no”, I pray I can recall these tender moments when love is almost tangible.

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“Don’t you see that children are God’s best gift? The fruit of the womb his generous legacy? Like a warrior’s fistful of arrows are the children of a vigorous youth. Oh, how blessed are you parents, with your quivers full of children!” (Psalm 127:3-5 The Message)

 

~A New Day~ August 20, 2013

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Sunrise-and-Clouds1“Light is sweet; how pleasant to see a new day dawning.”

(Ecclesiastes 11:7)

This verse made me think of my daughter’s favorite movie that we literally watch at least twice a day, Chicken Little.  Poor Chicken Little decides that he’s had enough of being the walking mistake and proudly announces, “Today is a new day.”  Sounds simple, but when said with conviction it can be transforming.

These words remind us that each day is a gift and we should awake with joy in our hearts and praise on our lips for the privilege of living one more day.  Whatever your yesterday was like, it is now a part of your past.  Today is what matters right now.  You and I have been given a fresh start in this day, full of promises from God.  We don’t have to live in defeat because of yesterday’s mistakes.  Nor do we glide along on the triumphs of days gone by.  We have a choice to make today our priority and appreciate the beauty that it brings.

“This is the day the Lord has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it.”

(Psalm 118:24 NKJV)

 

~Concert Of Thanksgiving~ June 19, 2013

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psalm40My family and I love music so we have followed the show The Voice all 4 seasons.  Last night while watching the finale, I was drawn to the crowds.  While the performers where on stage giving it everything they had, the people in the audience were going bizerk.  They were screaming, singing, jumping up and down with their hands in the air and clapping wildly.  If one of the singers walked close enough to touch, the excitement would nearly overtake them as they stretched out their arms just for the chance to briefly connect hands.  I get it.  As I said, lover of music here, so I am certain the adrenaline was pumping in that room.

What I don’t get is how it is people can be so excited in a concert setting where the main focus is a mere mortal but show as much enthusiasm as a wet noodle during worship at church when it’s all about our magnificent Creator.  There is something seriously wrong with this picture.  If you go to a concert, nearly every person in the room is clapping or fist-pumping and singing along.  At church, some days you’d be pressed to see half the room with lifted hands.

I realize that some may feel a bit uncomfortable with raising their hands during worship but when those same people will act a fool at a Springsteen concert, I have to wonder what’s up.  It got me thinking, maybe they don’t know what the Bible says about worship.  So I did a little digging to explain why I worship the way I do.

Singing:  “Shout joyful praises to God, all the earth!  Sing about the glory of His name!  Tell the world how glorious He is.  Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds!”  (Psalm 66:1-3 NLT)

Clapping:  “Oh, clap your hands, all you peoples!  Shout to God with the voice of triumph!”  (Psalm 47:1 NKJV)

Raising of hands:  “Lift up your hands in the sanctuary and praise the Lord.”  (Psalm 134:2 NIV)

God has given us every reason to praise Him simply by granting us salvation.  But just in case you need one more reason to show up ready to worship this Sunday, try Psalm 30 out:

“You did it: You changed wild lament into whirling dance;

You ripped off my black mourning band and decked me with wildflowers.

I’m about to burst into song; I can’t keep quiet about You.

God, my God, I can’t thank you enough.”

(vs. 11-12 The Message)

 

~Graduate~ May 31, 2013

graduationThese last couple weeks have been full of major milestones in the lives of our children.  First we had Emma’s preschool graduation, time for big girl school!  Then my beautiful step-daughter, known around here as Kiki, graduated from high school.  Next up were the two 5th graders, Peyton & Autumn, who celebrated their final year of elementary school with a promotion ceremony.  We small town Southerners like to celebrate every step!

Each program was different but they each held the same theme.  It’s time to move forward.  The kids were encouraged to leave the things of their previous years behind, to use them as a learning experience and to embrace what their futures held for them at the next stage of life.  It was funny to me how the same message could apply to a 5 year old, 11 year olds and a 17 year old!

Then I got to thinking how we go through many “graduations” in our lives; again, the message often being the same.  When we move through the various stages of our lives, we have to leave behind the former things and focus on what’s to come.  However, we become so consumed by things of our past, that our present is neglected and our future seems nonexistent.

While we are young, we can make the mistake of living a care-free life, using the excuse that we are young and just want to have a good time before the responsibilities of adulthood kick in.  Scripture warns us:

“Don’t let the excitement of your youth cause you to forget your Creator.  Honor Him in your youth before you grow old and say, “Life is not pleasant anymore.”

(Ecclesiastes 12:1 NLT)

As we get older and make the common mistakes that teens and early twenty-somethings often do, we can allow the shame and embarrassment of those mistakes to haunt us.  We can become gripped by fear that someone from our past will pop-up in our present and cause those in our lives now to look down on us with disdain.  Don’t worry, there is a Word for that too:

“Do not be afraid; you will not be put to shame. Do not fear disgrace; you will not be humiliated. You will forget the shame of your youth…”

(Isaiah 54:4 NIV)

Now you’re an adult and you’ve blown it big time.  You had a child out of wedlock, you’re divorced, you filed bankruptcy, you had an affair…this list could rattle on forever.  You are so wrapped up in the mistake that you made that the future looks dim at best and insignificant at worst.  Try this approach:

“…I focus on this one thing:  Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead.  I press on…”

(Philippians 3:13 NLT)

No matter what season of life you currently find yourself in, there is no sense in living in your past.  You must graduate on to the next thing God has in store for you.  Even if your past holds no regrets or mistakes; (first of all, you’re fooling yourself, we ALL have something lingering from our past where we’d like a redo); you can’t live off your past victories either.  This may very well be one of if not the best “life” Scriptures:

“But forget all that-it is nothing compared to what I am going to do.  For I am about to do something new.  See, I have already begun!  Do you not see it?”

(Isaiah 43:18-19 NLT)

The point being, if you are so busy looking back, you’re going to miss what’s coming right at you!  Who wants to realize they’ve missed God because their past was at the forefront of their heart and mind instead of the present?  There is a reason why our eyes are in the front of our heads and not the back!

 

~Life is but a Breath~ May 22, 2013

Lord, remind me how brief my time on earth will be.  Remind me that my days are numbered-how fleeting my life is.  You have made my life no longer than the width of my hand.  My entire lifetime is just a moment to You; at best, each of us is but a breath.”

(Psalm 39:4-5 NLT)

Every day we are faced with reminders of just how brief our time on earth will be.  Horrific tornados have claimed the lives of many, including little children.  Closer to home, a young girl lost her life in a tragic accident.  The moment I heard the news, this scripture came to mind.  When my momma’s heart was breaking, all I could think about was God’s Word.

What really bothered me, after the news set in, was how I reacted.  Immediately I softened towards my children, thankful that I had every one of them in my presence.  The remainder of the day, I let things slide that normally would provoke my irritation with them.  I could feel a rebuke in my spirit.  Why does it take some horrific event to make me truly cherish each moment with my family?  If I keep these words from Psalms at the forefront of my mind, maybe I would not be so careless in taking my loved ones for granted.  I turned the words on the page into a personal prayer, “Lord, help me remember that my days are few.  Tomorrow, I could be the momma faced with devastating news.  Help me, Lord to be grateful for every moment you give me here on this earth.”

As I was hurting so deeply for this broken family, one of my boys was getting lippy with me.  He was completely unaware that anything was bothering me, he was simply being his typical pre-teen self.  And I couldn’t help but thank God that I had my boy here even if to fight with.

I hope that each one of us would take to heart just how precious our time here together is.  Let us not wait for the next national or local tragedy to open our eyes to how blessed we truly are and be thankful for every day, even the bad ones.

“You do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.”life-as-but-a-vapour2

(James 4:14 NIV)

 

~Psalm 15, the Expanded Version~ May 3, 2013

Photograph by Carl Waltz-this is a place in Wisconson called Holy Hill. So striking, I had to share!

Photograph by Carl Waltz-this is a place in Wisconson called Holy Hill. So striking, I had to share!

Psalm 15 is all about who will be allowed to live in the house of the Lord.  It is basically a guide as to how we should live if we desire to please the Lord and ultimately, one day, ascend His holy hill to live with Him forever.

In reading this psalm, I thought I would break it down, verse by verse, and elaborate on the meaning of each instruction that is given.

First, the question is proposed:

“Lord, who may dwell in your sanctuary?  Who may live on your holy hill?”

The first response is, “He whose walk is blameless and who does what is righteous”

Let me start by pointing out that living a blameless life does not mean that perfection is required of you.  It says in 2 Peter 3:14 that we are to “make every effort to be found living peaceful lives that are pure and blameless in His sight.”  Making an effort means you are trying for something, not that you have already obtained it.  In addition to this, in Philippians 2:14-15 we are given further direction on how we should behave in order to be counted as blameless: “Do everything without complaining and arguing, so that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people.”  In other, more simple, words, be a light amongst the dark.

The second response to the question is, “(he) who speaks the truth from his heart and has no slander on his tongue, who does his neighbor no wrong and casts no slur on his fellowman”

I would venture to say this is probably one of, if not the, hardest for most people.  Because we’re not just talking about malicious words, we are talking about gossip.  Maybe you’re not going around spreading lies about others but if you have ever started a conversation with, “Well I heard…” then you have gossiped, (preaching to myself here people).  Whenever an uncomfortable topic comes up among friends, like another’s financial situation for example, if you feel it would be rude to correct the chatty group, simply say, “I don’t feel comfortable discussing someone’s private matters” and excuse yourself from the conversation.  This one is for my fellow southern lady friends: it does not erase what you said about someone when you follow it up with, “Bless their heart.”  Just throwing that one out there!

Next up on our list of responses on how to dwell in the house of the Lord: “(he) who despises a vile man but honors those who fear the Lord.”

I would think that this is fairly self-explanatory but for the sake of making my point, I’ll add my two cents.  We are not to go around praising the works of the morally corrupt.  Remember, if they’re not serving God, they are serving somebody!  Who do you want to give your honor and support to?  Those who fear the Lord will do so by honoring Him in all that they do, in public and behind closed doors.  Those who don’t, well, they’re pretty easy to spot!

This next one is kind of rough, “(he) who keeps his oath even when it hurts”

No one in their right mind would choose to do something that is painful!  There will be times in your life that the commitments that you have made will be almost unbearable.  This could be the sacred institution of marriage to the man (or woman) who is wearing on your nerves so bad you don’t think you can survive another moment in their presence.  What about those kids you promised to raise up and train in the way they should go?  Don’t try to tell this momma of five that there haven’t been days when you would gladly trade them in for billy goats!  Here’s the thing about an oath, it is a solemn promise with God as your witness, that you will fulfill the commitment at all cost.  Life is full of painful moments but they are not an excuse for washing your hands of your responsibilities.

Last, but most certainly not least, “(he) who lends his money without usury (interest) and does not accept a bribe against the innocent.”

If it is within your means to give, do so out of cheerful heart.  If you give with the mindset of what’s in it for me or what will I get in return, then you might as well keep your “gift” to yourself.  God wants us to love our neighbors and offer a helping hand as often as possible.  It has been my personal experience that even when I don’t think I have it to give, when I obey the Lord, He always provides.  Always.

In closing, the last verse of this beautiful psalm says,

“He who does these things will never be shaken.”

From this point going forward, I will always see Psalm 15 as my own personal road map on how to climb the most treacherous of hills in order to spend my eternity with the One who gave it all.

 

~God’s Love~ April 24, 2013

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My husband loves me in spite of my flaws.

-God loves me because of them.

My mother loves me when no one else can.

-God’s love is still infinitely greater.

My children love me because of all I do for them.

-God’s love is not based on what I do for Him today.

My friends love me because I’m always outgoing and up for a good time.

-God loves me when I am at my lowest and couldn’t smile if I had to.

My church loves me through the service I do for them.

-God loves me most when I spend quiet time doing nothing more than loving on Him.

Is there anything more beautiful than the simplicity of falling into a loving embrace?  It brings a feeling of saftey and warmth that cannot be compared to any other sensation.

The love that is expressed from those around you may have strings attached.  You may have to do something in order to earn it.  The love that comes from God knows no limits.  It has no boundaries.  It cannot be lessened by your actions any more that it can be increased by your good works.  Love from God is the truest form there is, for we know that God is love.

Now imagine running into the always open arms of a loving Father.  Who wants nothing more than to love you and receive your love in return.  He never grows weary from holding you close.  He is never too tired or worn to comfort you when you’ve reached the lowest low.  He is never too busy to celebrate your life’s greatest moments with a pat on the back.  God’s love will never run out, not for you or for me.  It is never ending, never failing and readily available to all who seek it.  Let the love of your heavenly Father fall on your face today.  Let it warm you like the rays of the sun that he sent to shine just for you.

“Your unfailing love, O Lord, is as vast as the heavens; your faithfulness reaches beyond the clouds.”

(Psalm 36:5)

 

~Focus on God~ April 22, 2013

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London to Brighton Veteran Car RunIf you have turned on the news lately, you have seen countless acts of violence in varying degrees.  A mad ex-boyfriend shoots at his ex and takes down a couple others in the process.  Marathon runners are struck down by explosions moments after celebrating a major accomplishment.  Even schools are no longer safe from acts of terrorism.

When someone attacks our nation, whether on a small scale or as a whole, we have a choice to focus on the evil that they are doing or we can choose to see the good that it brings out in others.  By giving attention only to the evil-doer, you are giving them what they crave which only adds fuel to their fire.  Besides, what difference does it make which terrorist group they belong to?  Or what their childhood was like?  Do we really want to know how their minds work?! However, if you take the talks away from the who, what and why that caused the attack and turn the news feed into stories of victory, then the good trumps the evil.

If you are like me, the constant negativity in the news is just too much to bear.  I would much rather hear the stories of what good is coming out of the horrible situation.

Tell me more about the ordinary spectator who becomes a hero in an instant as they shield another’s body with their own.

Show me images of first responders who are running in while everyone else is running away.

Replay stories of the victims and the history of their lives rather than that of the attackers.

I was reading in Psalms the day after the second Boston bomber was captured.  The non-stop news coverage was exhausting.  All the reporters were going on and on about how now we can find out why they did it, if they were a part of a bigger scheme and so on.  I was growing increasingly frustrated.  Then I read these words:

“The wicked conceive evil;
they are pregnant with trouble
and give birth to lies.
They dig a deep pit to trap others,
then fall into it themselves.
The trouble they make for others backfires on them.
The violence they plan falls on their own heads.”

(Psalm 7:14-16 NLT)

There you have it folks.  Why should we worry and fret over the evil that runs rampant throughout our world when we are already guaranteed the victory.  We will suffer here for a little while, but the Lord will have the final say.  He will crush the enemy and all his evil works will be turned back onto him.  Those who do evil will be repaid the same and those who love righteousness will be rewarded.

So while the majority of media outlets focus on the bad guy, you focus on God and the good that He brings out in people during times of tragedy.  Don’t let the negativity consume you and make you bitter.  God is still at work even amongst the devastation but it’s up to you to look for and be the light amid the darkness.

**EDITED after initial post**

Ok…so I’m reading “The Shack” by Wm. Paul Young and I have to share this excerpt as it relates to my post from this morning. This is God or “Papa” speaking:
“Mack, just because I work incredible good out of unspeakable tragedies doesn’t mean I orchestrate the tragedies.  Don’t ever assume that my using something means I caused it or that I need it to accomplish my purposes.  That will only lead you to false notions about me.  Grace doesn’t depend on suffering to exist, but where there is suffering you will find grace in many facets and colors.”
Seriously, just wow.

 

~Delight in the Lord~ April 12, 2013

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“Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you your heart’s desires.”

(Psalm 37:4)

To delight in someone or something means to experience complete satisfaction.  When is the last time you truly delighted in something?

You can rejoice simply in who the Lord is and be satisfied even if the only thing He ever does for you is provide you your salvation.

However, I find quite often that new believers and even those who have a seasoned faith, find it difficult to find joy in the Lord unless He is meeting their every request.  Take note that in the above Scripture, the call to delight in the Lord comes first, then it says He will give you your heart’s desires.  I do not believe this verse to mean that God will give you whatever you want.  I think that if we take pleasure in being in His presence and focus on Him, that He will change our heart’s desires to line up with what He wants for us.  Then we will be satisfied that our wants have been met along with our needs because they will be what God desires for us and not our own selfish yearnings.

Today when you pray to God, instead of rattling off your list of “I wants,” try starting out with words of thanksgiving and praise to the God who has saved you from an eternity in the pits of hell.  Then ask Him what He wants from you, and not the other way around.  Try this.

  • Replace your prayer for more cash-flow with “God, what are you trying to teach me through this financial struggle?”
  • Rather than beg Him to send you a better job, cry out to Him “Lord, show me how to be thankful for the employment I have when so many are desperate for work.”
  • As opposed to fussing and complaining to Him about the wide array of difficult personalities He has plopped into your life in the form of your children, say “Thank you, Lord, for the gifts that my kids are to me.  Help me to embrace them for their individuality and show me how to love them for who they are and not who I want them to be.”
  • When you start to question God as to why He had you marry this person who is so obviously your polar opposite, say a quick, “Lord, thank you for this partner to walk through life’s joys and pains with; even when they drive me slap nuts, thank you for the blessing of marriage that is sacred to You.”

When you change your perspective to see what God wants for you as opposed to what you think you need, you will see every circumstance of your life in a new light.  You will be able to delight in the Lord at all times.

 

~Devoted to God~ April 11, 2013

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BabyBellaFrameToday is my baby girl’s 2nd birthday!  It seemed only fitting that my post today would be all about her.

She came into this world with difficulty.  I was mentally and physically exhausted after she made her arrival, so much so that we did not even name her until the next day!  I couldn’t wrap my mind around a single name that was appropriate for our newest, (and final), addition to our little family.

Throughout my pregnancy, I had been completely convinced that this baby would my line-backer so I had not considered any girlie names.  I had always been fond of the name Grace so that was a given, but I was coming up empty handed on first names.  Cue the hubs.  He and my mother both loved the name Isabella and having no better suggestion myself, she was given the moniker Isabella Grace.

Just recently, for Easter, I decided to look up the meaning of my children’s names to print & frame as part of their gifts.  I know this is something I should have done before I named them, but hey, lesson learned.

Very much to my surprise, we had unknowingly named our baby girl perfectly.

Isabella- Devoted to God

Grace- God’s Favor

I can’t think of a better namesake for our girl who already sings praises to Jesus and asks, “I go church?”  She is full of life & love and is the happiest child in the bunch!  She has brought me more joy just by being herself.  Her ability to make anyone laugh is not unlike that of her father.  The fact that she also is the spitting image of him has earned her the nickname, L.J. (Little Jamie), while her daddy calls her Belly Grace based on her extreme love of food.

I can not imagine my life without this girl.  I would like to think that I am molding and shaping her into the godly woman I pray she becomes but truthfully, I think she is making me the better person.  There is much to be learned from our children and my beautiful Isabella has taught me to slow down and enjoy each day for what it brings.  Whether that day be filled with non-stop requests for more of everything, fits of tears when I tell her no, shouts of joy as we run through the yard, or quiet cuddle times as we watch her favorite movie.  I am forever thankful that God has given me this precious gift in the form of a stocky, short-legged cutie-pie, who may be a girl but I haven’t completely ruled out the possibility of her future football career.

Happy Birthday, my sweet, sweet girl.  Your smiling face is a reminder of God’s abundant love for me each morning.  Why else would He trust me with the most wondrous creation of all?

“Children are a gift from the Lord;

They are a reward from Him.”

(Psalm 127:3 NLT)