Be Ready

One of the foundational principles of our Christian walk is the command to Be ready.

There are many times in our lives when we can be taken off guard due to a circumstance, a question or a life shattering event. These are the moments when it is evident if we have been building our foundation prior to this moment. Just as James 3:7-11 reminds us we can’t have blessing and cursing come from the same mouth and what we are filling our hearts and minds with will always spill out. In this same way if we don’t establish boundaries prior to a temptation, or take all thoughts captive when they run willy nilly threatening to derail our peace our and joy, we can’t walk as effective Christians in the world we live in today.

Case in point, after hosting a group of boys for our churches DNow event for the last two years, we decided due to our crazy travel schedules and the work I’m doing getting ready for a book release, we would not be host home this year. We did opt in to our class helping for a meal prep and serve, but our home wouldn’t be invaded with the boys who never sleep. Seriously..no sleep.

But last night during our small group dinner we got the call. Host home was sick and couldn’t house the boys this year after all and could we help. I refuse to tell you that I was thrilled with the news and couldn’t wait for the boys to arrive. But the reality was that they didn’t have another home to go to and we had the room.

Years ago when we bought this home we weren’t 100 percent sure why God has chosen this home for us. It was way larger than what we needed or wanted and had lots of open space for large groups. Through the years we have always been of the mind that God gave us this home and since it was his anyway that we would be sure to entertain small groups, small parties, and yep 9th grade boys for the weekend as well.

If this wasn’t our mindset it would have been so much easier to stick with our busy schedules and the very real legitimate reasons we had for not hosting this year. We already had a busy weekend with a small group dinner, hosting dinner for the DNOW kids and a baby shower. But our commitment was already in place long before. We long ago established that our home was a ministry opportunity whenever and however God saw fit to use it. So there was our yes.

You can’t make wise decisions in the midst of difficulty. These have to be made in advance. Just like you can’t harvest a crop you didn’t plant, (Prov. 20:4) you can’t be ready without advanced preparation.

Sluggards do not plow in season; so at harvest time they look but find nothing.

We have many opportunities to choose to be ready in our Christian lives. But we must prepare in season when seas are calm and life is easy. To be adequately prepared and ready, we MUST take advantage of the time in between.

  1. We are told to be ready in season and out of season to give an answer for our faith, and to encourage others in the faith.

2 Tim 4:2 Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage–with great patience and careful instruction.

Col 4:6 Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person.

I Pet. 3:15-16 but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence; and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame.

Philippians 2:15 so that you may be blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and perverse generation, in which you shine as lights in the world.

Titus 2:8 and wholesome speech that is above reproach, so that anyone who opposes us will be ashamed that he has nothing bad to say about us.

How do we prepare? Daily walk with God – reading and studying our Bibles, praying and meditating/memorizing Scripture each day. Letting our walk talk louder than our talk.

  1. We are told to be ready for conflict

     *Be battle ready because of conflict.

Eph 6:14,15 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.

*Be battle ready  because of the offense of the gospel

I Cor 1:18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”

*Be battle ready because of fiery trials and temptations

John 16:33 These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”

I Pet.5:8 Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

 I Cor. 16:13  Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.

 2 Tim 3:12 Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.

Matt 10:22 You will be hated by all because of My name, but it is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved.

  1. We are told to be ready for eternity whether because our physical bodies die, or because the Lord Jesus returns to capture us away.

Matt 24:42-44 Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming. But be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what time of the night the thief was coming, he would have been on the alert and would not have allowed his house to be broken into. For this reason you also must be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will.

Matt 25:1-13 Then the kingdom of heaven will be comparable to ten virgins, who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.  Five of them were foolish, and five were prudent.  For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, but the prudent took oil in flasks along with their lamps. Now while the bridegroom was delaying, they all got drowsy and began to sleep.  But at midnight there was a shout, ‘Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps.  The foolish said to the prudent, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’  But the prudent answered, ‘No, there will not be enough for us and you too; go instead to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.’  And while they were going away to make the purchase, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding feast; and the door was shut.  Later the other virgins also came, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open up for us.’  But he answered, ‘Truly I say to you, I do not know you.’ Be on the alert then, for you do not know the day nor the hour.

Luke 12:40 You too, be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour that you do not expect.”

John 14:3  If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.

I Cor. 15:52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.

What is it that God is calling you to Be Ready for today?

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Monday Mornings for Moms

My children all were once so small,

Now they are so very tall.

Some days were long and filled with tears,

Others filled with laughter now passed in years.

The seasons come, the seasons go

As we drive them to and fro.

Lean in sweet mama and hear me say,

“You’ve got just one job to do today.”

Love them hard and love them well,

Listen to each tale they tell.

Soon you’ll miss this precious face,

Respond to the challenge filled with grace.

They won’t remember each meal you make,

But they will recall the time you take,

To help them feel special and safe,

because of the smiles you share and the love you display.

By Victoria Duerstock

©2018

40 Days of Decreasing Mom Guilt

by Angela Jamison

Mom guilt, the sinking feeling deep in your gut that you’re completely failing your children, scarring them for life and certainly destroying their future. The desperation to do everything right in your attempt to raise decent human beings. Mom guilt, the plague that attacks each and every one of us at some point in our lives regardless of the age of our children.

If you read that first paragraph and don’t connect with my definitions of mom guilt, kudos to you! Unfortunately though, I think more of you than not will be nodding your head in agreement. Mom guilt is something we don’t ask for, but oftentimes receive in abundance. The worst part – it’s self-inflicted!

As I thought about the Lenten season and how I can spend forty days growing closer to God, I thought about my mom guilt. Mom guilt decreases the joy I should be experiencing, takes my eyes off the One who gifted my precious children and does not honor the job I’ve been designed to do.

As many of you give up chocolate, soda or donate a piece of clothing each day, I am spending my forty days decreasing the mom guilt. I’ve created a list of ten ways to help decrease mom guilt and slowly but surely, I hope to find myself embracing the call of motherhood with more joy. Slowly but surely you can too!

  • Believe you are doing a good job. It’s wonderful to be told from time to time that we are doing great at this motherhood gig, but you need to actually believe it. Trust your instincts, root your actions in love and believe in yourself. God designed you for this path.
  • Don’t sweat the small stuff. The dishes in the sink, laundry on the counter and floors that haven’t been vacuumed do not define you; they are not the indicator of your success or failure.
  • Take a break from Pinterest (and social media). Comparison is an instigator for mom guilt!
  • Create an identity outside of your children. It is ok (and healthy!) to have a passion or hobby outside of your children. Allow yourself the freedom to be more than a mom.
  • Take a deep breath, walk away, respond. When we allow our emotions to run freely, we overact. Overreaction leads to delayed mom guilt when we’ve come down from the moment and realize we just needed to breathe.
  • Do the chores … or don’t. These moments with your children are fleeting, enjoy them. The chores can wait, but on the flip side, it’s a necessary evil and doing housework doesn’t mean you’re neglecting your children.
  • Find a balance. Your balance will be different from mine and from your best friend; it will be uniquely yours. When you find it, hold tight and know life is a constant juggling act and you will occasionally drop a ball or two. That’s ok!
  • Check your expectations. We often have high expectations of ourselves that leak over into the expectations for our children. We need to remember they are in fact just children learning how to navigate the tricky waters of this world.
  • Limit multi-tasking. Multi-tasking has become our enemy as we try to accomplish more than one thing at a time. We then find ourselves in a rut of mediocrity instead of a cloud of accomplishment. I say limit because eliminating would be nearly impossible, however, we can be conscious of concentrating on one thing at a time, specifically when it comes to listening and spending time with our children.
  • Have grace. Motherhood is not for the weak of heart! Grace for yourself and for your children is imperative. You won’t be perfect and neither will they, but offering grace allows you to continue and try again.

Motherhood is difficult enough without the added baggage of mom guilt we tend to carry around in our handbag. We need the grace and love of ourselves as much as we do that of our perfect Father. I pray the next forty days allows you to focus on the beauty of the job God designed for you, drawing you closer to Him through the decreasing of your mom guilt.

You are doing a good job! Believe it.

The Value of a Good Attitude

As a mom who has worked with my own children and many others in my music studio for more than twenty years now, I have realized that if I could encourage parents along the journey with something in particular it would be in the area of life lessons.  I began a blog and outlined a book about life lessons with this sole purpose, and still believe it to be one of the biggest things that I would love for parents to hear and understand.

Learning life lessons that enable children to become better, more responsible adults truly begins in our homes.  Reading this week here, I was surprised to find that many millennials when asked what age adulthood begins respond with the age of 30 or even 40!  What?!  How did this happen? Why did we allow them to believe that their adolescence should and could stretch this far?

While I cannot and will not say that I have all the answers because I truly don’t, I think that we can as parents take an active role in helping our children in their maturity.  We can then encourage those young families with young children to begin the same process in their homes.  While we can’t reap mature adults right away, we can begin to make progress and turn this ship around!

Read the rest over at my post on w2wministries.com

Reclaiming Laughter!

We are plagued in today’s society and our homes by a real travesty.  One that is sneaky and underhanded but devastating nonetheless. Today our homes are in dire need of some humor and lightheartedness.  Dare I even say – we just need to laugh more!

Lest you think this is an easy task for me or even possibly one that I have personally mastered, you must understand that I am type A, only child, goal oriented INFJ who has a tendency to think that laughter is not necessary.  That is until it’s missing for a bit, and everyone is on edge and the mood is miserable.  Then…I stop and try to figure out what’s going on!

This happens in our home when my husband travels.  Certain times of the year he can be gone for several days or even a week or more at a time.  We tend to roll along our merry way for a day or two, but eventually things tend to get a bit tense.  There are three females in the house after all…can I get a witness!  My poor son, y’all pray for him!  Needless to say, my husband who is very even tempered and quick witted tends to keep our home lighthearted and when he’s gone, his absence is definitely noticed.

So what’s a girl to do?

Read the rest of the post over at w2wministries – just click here!

The Importance of Prayer Ministry

One of my favorite books on prayer, Quiet Talks on Prayer, relates a story from DL Moody’s evangelistic ministry. The story hinged on one woman’s prayers during a season of sickness. Homebound and heartsick, she found instead a greater calling to a deeper prayer time. She spent time in prayer for her church, for the services, and for salvation of the lost souls in her community.

She read a story in a journal, sometime into her new season of life, about Mr. Moody and the work he was doing in the United States.  Her prayer became an almost daily petition.   For more than year, she prayed that he would come to London and preach in their church. Yet during all this time she had no sign that her prayers would be answered. No encouragement. No confirmation.  Nothing.

This is an except of a post I have up at Woman to Woman today – you can read the rest here…

4 ways to Thrive not just Survive

This blog post is featured in my weekly column at woman to woman ministries today – I hope you’ll head over and recieve encouragement there as well.

God does not intend for us to only survive the rigors of this life.  Sometimes in the course of life, certain seasons carry more burdens than others certainly, but I believe that God’s desire is for us to thrive through each of the seasons. Scripture reminds us in many different verses – but here are three passages to consider:

  • John 10:10 tells us in Christ’s own words that he came for us to have life “more abundantly.”
  • David describes it in Psalms 23 as an “overflowing cup.”
  • John 15:11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.

This is much easier said than done though.  It’s difficult to think of thriving for instance when you are busy:

  • Picking up the dirty laundry off the floor for the hundredth time that day
  • Changing that dirty diaper again when you just got cleaned up from the last one
  • Preparing one more meal in a day (especially if you homeschool – right mamas?)
  • Feeling and sharing the intense pain of rejection and heartache from our teenagers as they navigate the path to adulthood.
  • Dealing with the threat of loss of financial stability, health, jobs, and much more

Read the rest of this post here…