Thursday, August 1, 2013

My Messed-Up, Beautiful Friends

I have a lot of friends.  Probably because I like to talk which generally includes other people (although I do talk to myself, but that's a whole other story).  I'm one of those people that has never met a stranger.  I love meeting people and hearing their stories.  There is something so fun to me about hearing people tell of where they've been in life.  

Yesterday I got to spend some time with some ladies that I'm honored to call my friends.  They shared with me some stories from their pasts.  They were stories of hurts, but also of God's grace.  They were stories that had me in tears, but also stories that filled me with excitement and wonder of God's love for us.  You know the kind.  You've heard them before from your friends. Stories of hard times, but great victories.  Stories that will make your heart hurt, but will leave you with praises on your lips for Him.  Messes in lives, followed by God's grace and love and mercy and victory!

God reminded me yesterday day that we are all broken, messed up people. We ALL have messes in our past.  I actually can't think of one of my friends that wasn't a little messed up at some point. Do any of you have perfect friends?  If someone has told you they are perfect, well they are not because they are lying and that makes them a liar.  Just saying.

God took me to the following verse today:

2 Corinthians 1:4
He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.

I love this verse.  When we are in our time of trouble (whether self-inflicted trouble or trouble God has allowed for a season) God will comfort us.  But the next part is the part I really dig.  It says we will be able to comfort others with the same comfort we have received.  Did you hear that?  Do you know what that says to me?  It says, "Stephanie, I'm going to love on you and hold your hand through your struggle, and then you'll be well equipped to love on someone else that is struggling."  God is teaching us to pay it forward!

I want to challenge you today.  I want to think about your messed up past.  I want you to think about how God has brought you through those messes.  And then, I want you to look for ways to love on others as God as loved on you. PAY IT FORWARD, SISTERS!

I love you, my messed-up, beautiful friends.  I can relate to your messes, and you point me to Jesus when I hear about your victories in Him.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Church Camp Makes Me Cry

She was so excited about going away.  We carefully went over the list of items she was to take with her.  As with most children, Leanna doesn't usually like doing chores.  But I guess there's something about packing your bags to go on an adventure that makes the chore of packing a little fun. So she packed with a smile on her face.  I helped her pack as I could feel my heart sinking inside of me.

Leanna is 12 years old and she is going to a church camp for four nights.  She will be surrounded by leaders that will be pointing her to Jesus.  She will be swimming and playing and worshipping and zip-lining and many other fun things.  So why am I, her mother and the person who loves her almost as much as Jesus, upset that she is leaving to do these things.  Well, it's apparently because I'm her mother and the person that loves her almost as much as Jesus.

I was sulking yesterday morning as we were getting ready to take her to get on the bus at the church.  I kept remembering the day she was born, which was yesterday in my mind!  I remember how much she needed me and how much I have loved her needing me.  As I was sulking and remembering, God spoke to my heart.  He reminded me of His story in Luke 2 when He was 12 years old, the same age as my sweet Leanna.  It was when Jesus was 12 years old that He left His parents and stayed in the Temple.  Mary was less than thrilled about this, because she too had a momma's heart.  But Jesus reminded her that He was at His Father's house doing His Father's business.  Wow.  I was taken back by this.  Why? Because God was clearly reminding me that Leanna was HIS child first and she needs to be about seeking Him before all things.  

So she left.  She got on the bus smiling and ready to go on her adventure with Jesus and her friends.  And me, well, I still cried.  But I told God "Thank you" for His reminder.  I pray she will grow in wisdom and in favor with God.
Leanna and one of her more spiritual moments at camp.  (-:

Luke 2:  41 Every year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the Passover festival. 42 When Jesus was twelve years old, they attended the festival as usual. 43 After the celebration was over, they started home to Nazareth, but Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents didn’t miss him at first, 44 because they assumed he was among the other travelers. But when he didn’t show up that evening, they started looking for him among their relatives and friends.
45 When they couldn’t find him, they went back to Jerusalem to search for him there. 46 Three days later they finally discovered him in the Temple, sitting among the religious teachers, listening to them and asking questions. 47 All who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers.
48 His parents didn’t know what to think. “Son,” his mother said to him, “why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been frantic, searching for you everywhere.”
49 “But why did you need to search?” he asked. “Didn’t you know that I must be in my Father’s house?”[d] 50 But they didn’t understand what he meant.
51 Then he returned to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. And his mother stored all these things in her heart.
52 Jesus grew in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and all the people.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

2013 - A Successful Year in the Making

I've made some commitments for 2013.  I guess most people will call them New Year's resolutions, but I'm calling them commitments.  I haven't done that well on keeping my resolutions, so I'm committing to these commitments!  (-:  I want to end 2013 better off than I was at the end of 2012.

I know what you're thinking.  I bet you're thinking something like, "She's got a weight loss goal like everyone else.  She's going to get fit."  Well, that would be semi true, but actually, my main goals are spiritual goals.  You see, in 1 Timothy 4:8 it says that physical exercise is good, but spiritual exercise is even better.  I am making some spiritual goals.  I want to purposely set out to grow in my faith this year.

And what are those spiritual goals?  My first goal is to re-read the Bible this year.  You know, if you read the Bible for 30 minutes a day you can read the complete Bible seven times in one year!  Wow!  Why don't we do this every year?!?!?!?  I was given a Daily Walk Bible, and I'm going to use it to guide me through the entire Bible.  It's only taking me a few minutes each morning and I can tell you I feel like I've already grown in my faith.

Secondly, I'm going to commit to memorizing scripture.  This is harder for me, but I've found that hiding God's Word in my heart is very useful in helping me conquer my sins.  For example, when I am fearful I like to recite Jeremiah 29:11.  It says God has GREAT plans for me, and plans not to harm me but to give me a hope and a future.  When I'm feeling defeated I like to think about Romans 8 and the verse that says, "If God is for us, who can be against us?"   God's Word is truly a lamp for our feet and a light for our paths.  As my children memorize scripture for school each week, I'm going to memorize those scriptures with them.

What are your goals for 2013?  Have you thought about making spiritual goals this year?  What if we all purposely set out to be closer to God in 2013 and actually accomplished that goal?  Heck, what if we all set out to accomplish that goal and only got 1/2 way there?  We'd still be better off than we were in 2012!

Jesus, thank You for loving me.  Thank You for giving Your life for me.  I love You dearly and I want to be closer to You each day.  I need You, Lord.  I commit to following You in 2013.  I commit to running to You and Your Word for comfort and knowledge.  You are my hope.  Help me, Lord. ~ Amen

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Being Thankful in ALL Circumstances

Well Happy New Year!  2013 is off to a great start, with one exception.  The flu has hit the Blakeslee home.  (long sigh.......)  We all had our flu shots, but apparently this year that wasn't quite enough.  My son came down with a high fever this past weekend, and since then I've played nurse, got up in the middle of the night to check on him and give him medicine, put Lysol on more door knobs and light switches than my husband would say is necessary, cancelled appointments, rescheduled appointments, and a multitude of other typical chores that go along with being a wife and a mother.  

When the doctor confirmed he had the flu, I was frustrated.  I'm sure I rolled my eyes and started thinking of how inconvenient this was going to be.  I had plans for this week and they did NOT include the flu.  This was going to be tough for me!  

Interestingly enough my son, the one with the 103 degree temperature and the flu, didn't react the same way I did.  When the doctors and nurses poked and prodded at him, he replied, "Thank you."  When they told him he had the flu he responded, "OK."  And yesterday, when he was laying on the couch he said, "Mom, I'm still so blessed even though I'm sick."  We were both walking this together, but his reaction was very different from mine.

Last week I taught a class of high school leaders to not have problems in 2013, but yet to have opportunities.  This week I'm complaining about the problems that have just entered my life.  Do you see the "opportunity" here for ME?  What is wrong with me?!?!?!?  God did not give me a problem!  God loves me and only wants what is best for me.  I don't know why He allowed my sweet child to get the flu, but I know He only allows me opportunities to grow and He does not just throw problems my way to pick on me.  It took my son's attitude to remind me of what I had been teaching!

God, thank you for sending the flu to my house.  Thank you for the time I have had with my son this week and for the lesson I have learned through it.  Thank you Lord for growing me through opportunities, not problems.  Thank you, Lord, for healing my son and for protecting the rest of us from getting sick.  Thank you, Lord, for living in my son's heart and speaking to me through his little mouth. Forgive me for my selfishness and bad attitudes.  I love you and I want to be more like you.  You are the reason I can have joy in all circumstances.  For in You, there are MANY reasons for me to have joy. ~ Amen

 1 Thessalonians 5:18 "Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus."