Top 10 Lessons Learned from 2013

generic_clock-150x150The clock ticks…the calendar rolls over from one year to the next…time continues as it always has. But the first day of a new year always feels special. What will define 2014? And what defined 2013?

For me, it began in January with a spiritual battle. At times, it felt like a tailspin- a close call to a crash and burn. But I  experienced gradual progress- clawing my way back. I saw glimpses of hope that helped me keep going forward. Was my struggle self-perpetuated? Was it a refining fire from God to get my heart clean and righteous? Or was it an attack from Satan? I could barely take it. I don’t ever, ever, ever, ever want to go through that torment again. But what has resulted? Humility. Dependence. Intimacy. Clarity. Grace. Mercy. Love. Compassion. Joy. Boldness. Becoming engaged in God’s Kingdom once again. Understanding. Creativity. Passion for studying God’s Word. Passion for being in His Presence. Fresh, renewed spirit within me. Hope. For those things, I am eternally grateful.

I still battle nerves and a racing heart- which is so physically uncomfortable and exhausting. Not sure if it’s from changing hormones in this aging body of mine, but whatever it is, I endure and I’m learning to turn my weaknesses over to the Lord. Oh, the flesh. Such a battle.

As I reflect on 2013, what were the lessons I learned? With all the battles, it was such a rich year for spiritual growth and victory. I feel compelled to share my ‘Top 10’ with you.

10) Learn from the past and then let it go. (Replaying negative past events is counter-productive. If I’ve asked for forgiveness, trust God’s promise to forgive, cleanse and heal. Then place those things at the foot of the Cross and leave them there.)

9) Don’t waste time evaluating everyone else’s spiritual condition. I’m not  an accurate and objective judge of other people, or even of my own heart. Seek and ask the Lord to reveal areas that need to be addressed and then obey what He says in His Word. (Doing a spiritual inventory is a healthy thing, but comparing my ‘good lists’ and ‘bad lists’ to others is not. God’s holy and perfect Law is my standard- and only by faith and in Christ’s grace can I be empowered to live it out!)

8) Thank God continually for His blessings- His love and presence in my life ARE my greatest reward! (And thanking Him for my trials, as well.)

7) One day at a time. Focus on what the Lord has for me, what He wants from me, right here and right now.

6) Be informed, but not consumed about world events. Look at all things from a biblical perspective, always having His eternal plan in focus.

5) Ask, “Okay, what now? How can I be a part of the solution, rather than just being a complainer?”

4) Separate ‘good things’ from ‘God things.’ There are many opportunities and time fillers available to me- even self-fulfilling and gratifying things. But what does God the Father want me to do?

3) Don’t hold on to the things of this world too tightly. Only clutch to one thing- the Lord…. and don’t ever let Him go!

2) Honor and invest in my commitments to my husband and children.

1) Forgiveness is freedom to my soul. (Forgiving others and forgiving myself.)

I’m sure there are many, many more things I could add. And each of us has our own unique list. But whatever it is, I pray that we each recognize how the Lord is working in our lives and then walk in it. God bless from our family to you and yours!


But Why, Daddy?

photo-35“But why, Mommy?” “Because I said so.” This could sum up many of the conversations that filled the early days of my child-rearing- at least with one of my children.

My firstborn was not much of a questioner or tester. He wanted to please Mommy. He followed the rules. He rarely asked me why we had certain rules, he just focused on obeying them. Ah, that’s dreamy music to a young mom’s ears, right? Well, it definitely made life easier at times.

Then our secondborn came along. She didn’t seem to pick up the ‘don’t ask, just do!’ code from her older brother. Every other word was ,”Why?” Because I said so just didn’t fly with her. “Why do you say so, Mommy?” I could sense the tension and impatience in my body grow with this constant interrogation! Why can’t she just accept my authority and do what I say?  

The mind of my inquisitive daughter is like my Cutco knife sharpener. She definitely keeps me sharp! ‘As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.’ (Proverbs 27:17)

Then there came a day, a few years later, when I personally started questioning some things I had been taught over the years. ‘What had always been done’ was being challenged by what I was learning through God’s Word. My heart so badly wanted to know the truth and to know the why about what I believed. Every fiber in my being begged for clarity. I was almost paralyzed from my aching to know what was right that I could barely move one step forward in my spiritual life. My mind was full of questions, not doubts. I wanted to go deeper. I wanted to understand God’s Heart! And if there was any wrong thinking in me, I desperately wanted it corrected right then and there. I wanted God’s blessing and peace in my life and wouldn’t let him go until He gave it to me.

I think maybe my questioning made my Father smile. As a friend of mine once said, “Be honest with all things before God. He’s got broad shoulders and He can handle it!” More than that, He wants to handle it. So, I took that advice and concluded, better to be honest about all things with God, because He knows my heart and every thought anyway! So, I started to ask away.

Why do we do this tradition in church? Is it really biblical? Or are we following some man-made ritual that has just been passed down from generation to generation? And if ‘principle A’ is to be followed, what is it suppose to look like in my life? If the first generation church lived out their faith in a certain way, how are we to also live it out in 21st century Suburbia, USA? “Why, Daddy?” “How, Daddy?” Surely my heavenly Abba felt the constant tugging on His Holy Garment from a child who was demanding answers!

And how did He respond? Patiently. Graciously. And with answers and wisdom. Not every question was answered immediately. He gave me just the right amount of understanding I could handle at once. He brought Godly teachers of the Word to direct me. Intercessors to pray and ask for discernment with me. Testimonies of many followers of Christ who were asking the same questions and discovered the why. Let me tell you, that when I started asking, God opened the floodgates and poured into me! If ever I could think of a time in my life where I could see the Holy Spirit working deeply in my heart and mind, it was at this time. The Holy Spirit prompted me, revealed to me, mentored me and brought understanding to me. But this was not without a battle. Satan did not sit idly by and watch God do His thing! No, I had to work for it. I had to guard my heart and defend my mind so that the riches that were given to me were not stolen by the enemy. With God-given treasures of truth comes sanctification. With sanctification comes opposition from the outside.

I look back and compare my daughter’s curiosity for the wonders of the world to my later-found curiosity to God’s wonders. It all has the same root- a hunger for understanding. As most of us moms may do from time to time (look back and wish we’d done things differently now that we are much wiser!), I have a much better appreciation for a child’sScan 107 questions. I see those questions as windows into their heart that they have opened with a trusting soul. What an honor it is when a child reveals their wonders and seeks understanding! And I believe that this is one of God’s great desires for us- to ask Him the question, “But why, Daddy?” so He can grant us great wisdom!

Proverbs 2:3-10

‘indeed, if you call out for insight
    and cry aloud for understanding,
and if you look for it as for silver
    and search for it as for hidden treasure,
then you will understand the fear of the Lord
    and find the knowledge of God.
For the Lord gives wisdom;
    from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.

Then you will understand what is right and just
    and fair—every good path.
For wisdom will enter your heart,
    and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul.’

Matthew 7:7-8

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”