Dreaming into the New Year…

This is the week after Christmas.  Most of the gifts have been given.  Gatherings have almost all been attended.  Snacks and candies have been savored and devoured.  I hope you all had moments of happiness during this Christmas season.

At my house this week, everyone is home.  Work, school, and outside responsibilities are on hold.  Time for recharging, intentional play, togetherness, and snuggling reigns supreme.

It is easy during this week of winding down and relaxing with the ones I love most to feel as though anything can be accomplished.  (A couple of naps will do that for you!)  So many ideas, goals, and dreams flood my mind, and I feel an eagerness to bring everyone along.

I understand; however, that once school, work, and church begin again, we will once again be on a schedule that will dictate a lot of our time.  How I long to hold tightly to this time of unadulterated togetherness!

My goal for 2017 is to make more time than ever before for dreams.  Things I wish I could do more often need to be scheduled into my days.  Ideas need to be spoken out loud, so that everyone can have a say and come up with ways to flesh them out.  Goals need written out and planned, so they can be accomplished.

I don’t often do the whole “New Years Resolution” thing, but it is a good idea to reevaluate things once in a while.

If you’ve got some dreams or ideas you’ve been thinking about, I encourage you to speak them out loud and begin the process of fleshing them out.  And if some of your dreams, like mine, include more time to sit on the couch (or a blanket in the yard) beside a family member for some quality time, that’s ok.

If the Lord has been urging You to do something new, take some time to talk it out with Him and commit.  Anytime He gives us an assignment, He always equips us to carry it out.  That’s a fact.  So, maybe it’s time to simply trust, say, “Yes, Lord,” and step out in faith.

I wish you all a very happy and safe New Year!  I pray that in 2017 we all grow closer to God and feel His peace and His presence in our lives more than ever before.  I pray that we share His love with those around us, and pass out forgiveness and mercy generously.

God bless you,

jamie

Is your trough too clean?

Pr. 14:4:  “Where no oxen are, the trough is clean; but much increase comes by the strength of an ox. “

At times we think life would be so much easier without kids running around messing up the house, without having to make more trips to the store for food, without people constantly emailing, texting, or dropping by, or without people requiring us to visit and spend time with them.

However, as we see in this verse, that is just not so.  Well, ok…maybe the house would be cleaner if no one was messing it up.  Maybe we would have more money if we weren’t having to restock the refrigerator or entertain guests.  Perhaps we would have more time on our hands if we didn’t have so many people contacting us or counting on us.

Our lives, however, are increased by those around us.  Having people in our lives that care enough about us to come around gives us strength.  Having a family to care for us when it matters is an amazing gift from God.  Having friends reach out and help when we are weak or unable is a blessing like no other.

Sure, our home may be cleaner without little ones leaving messes, but without those little ones, we wouldn’t have giggles, unexpected hugs, imaginative play, or as many trips to the zoo.

Not having people reach out to us may indeed free up our time, but without friends and family who care, we wouldn’t have affection, unexpected gifts, meals when we’re down, or reactions to the new recipe we want to try out.

There is strength in numbers.  There may be a little more work in it for us, but it’s worth any sacrifice on our part.  Without others in our lives, we would simply find ourselves in a very clean, very unscheduled world…all alone.

Let’s make sure to be grateful for the oxen in our lives.  (And I mean that in the very best of ways).   Without them our lives sure would be boring and a lot more lonely.

Grateful for all those messing up my trough,

jamie

Nourishment to complete the tasks

Pr. 19:27:  “Cease listening to instruction, my son, and you will stray from the words of knowledge.”

It is easy for us to give in to busyness in this life, especially during this season of year.  There are so many things pulling at us each day.  We have countless responsibilities.  We are asked to help with many things from those around us.  We have personal things we want to do.  There is nothing necessarily wrong with being busy.  Currently, our “Christmas break” schedule is jam-packed with things to do.

The danger; however, is neglecting the only thing that really matters:  our relationship with God.  With all the busyness, it can be easy to put aside our time with God in an effort to get done all the things that are pulling at us.

Without God, though, we can do nothing.  He is our Strength.  He is our Provider.  He is the One who guides and directs us.  He is the One who instructs us.  If we put Him first, He will help us get done all the things we need to do, or He will direct us when we need to say no to certain things.

Because it is true that when we cease listening to instruction we are more likely to stray from the words of knowledge, we must be diligent and intentional in setting aside our time for the Word of God.

If we are going to choose to say no to something, we must make sure that something is not our time with God.  Above all else, we need to continue abiding in the Vine.  We must remain attached to Him, allowing Him to nourish and enrich us.  It is only abiding in Him that brings the fruit in our lives.

John 15:6 reminds us, “If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered, and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.”

We cannot risk not abiding in Him.  Once we become unattached, we stray, and eventually fall away, being then cast out and withered.  After that, we see what happens.

It may seem like I’m being overly-dramatic, but I’ve seen it before.  Sometimes it only takes a few days for the enemy to cause us to become so distracted that we get out of the routine of making time with God our priority.  Once that takes place, we are vulnerable to his sway.  His sway will always lead us away from God.

During this season, during all the busyness, giving, and frivolity, we must protect our time with God and in His Word.  We must ensure that abiding in Him is at the top of our to-do list.  If we put Him first, all the rest will fall beautifully into place.  “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”

Let’s remain in Him,

jamie

For whom are you making preparations?

Pr. 4:3-4:  “When I was my father’s son, tender and the only one in the sight of my mother, he also taught me, and said to me:”

Others can teach and encourage our children.  However, there are some things that only we can do.

David referred to Solomon tender more than once.  When the Lord revealed to David that Solomon would build the temple, he said, “Solomon my son is young and inexperienced, and the house to be built for the Lord must be exceedingly magnificent, famous and glorious throughout all countries.  I will now make preparations for it.”  So David made abundant preparations before his death.

He then called Solomon to him and charged him to build the house for the Lord.  He reminded Solomon of what the Lord had told him, and to keep the law of the Lord.  He reminded him that God would prosper him for being obedient.  David then commanded all the leaders of Israel to help Solomon.

Not only did David charge his son to do what he was called to do, but he made enormous preparations to make it possible for Solomon to do his work.  Before the assembly of all the leaders of Jerusalem, David again said that Solomon was “young and inexperienced.”  He called for all the leaders to contribute to the building of the temple.  He let the leaders know exactly what the Lord had said to him concerning Solomon.

In their presence, he also told Solomon, “As for you, my son Solomon, know the God of your father, and serve Him with a loyal heart and with a willing mind; for the Lord searches all hearts and understands all the intent of thoughts.  If you seek Him, He will be found by you; but it you forsake Him, He will cast you off forever.  Consider now, for the Lord has chosen you to build a house for the sanctuary; be strong, and do it.”

1 Ch. 29:24-25 says, “All the leaders and mighty men obeyed him, and also all the sons of King David submitted themselves to King Solomon.  So the Lord exalted Solomon exceedingly in the sight of all Israel, and bestowed on him such royal majesty as had not been on any king before him in Israel.”

The prayers and preparation of his father, David, set Solomon up for the job to which he was called.  Taking seriously what God spoke over Solomon, David did not just encourage Solomon to fulfill his purpose, he charged him to do it, he made abundant preparations for it, he spoke it to the assembly of all leaders, and he called the leaders to assist his son.  David’s actions spoke more loudly to his son than any words ever could.

We can encourage and speak life, but when we put our money, time, and preparations behind our words, we are making very clear what it is we truly believe.  Others may be able to encourage your children, your family, or your friends, but there are some things that only you can do.  What actions do you need to take today to teach that tender person in your life?

Preparing,

jamie