An Extra Seat At The Table

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I crack open my bible to the book of Matthew this morning and in reading chapter 21, I read about Jesus’ triumphal entry on a donkey. Prophecy is being fulfilled, he’s revealing himself as more than a prophet, he’s a King! It’s purely awesome. Being “just” Thanksgiving today this story hits me – Where is Jesus today?  Christmas is flashy with the lights, trees, nativity scenes and stockings hung by the chimney with care. Easter gets the bunny and eggs and pastel decor and the remembrance of the cross and crown of thorns, but thanksgiving is nothing religious per se; it’s just a day of food and family and a lot of it. Granted, we do – and should – pause and give thanks by counting our blessings. I, for one, actually do an mental inventory of all that I am thankful for, but where is Jesus?

Of course he’s here. He’s always here, but do we make a place for him at the table? Do we invite him to fellowship with us and make this day Jesus centered?  We should! Yes I am thankful for a roof over my head, good health, a closet full of clothes, running water, beautiful children and adorable dogs, but all of this pails in comparison to what Jesus did on the cross for you and me. My sins have been abolished, I am given the assurance that I will spend eternity in heaven with him AND above all, He died for me.  My sin caused separation from a perfect and Holy God, He took it all onto himself and died. I’m so undeserving and today of all days I cannot take that for granted.

So I pledge, as I sit at the table today, I will pull up an extra chair to honor Him and to make Him a part of my Thanksgiving day. Today is an important and significant day to say thank you to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Psalm 107

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
    his love endures forever.

Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story—
    those he redeemed from the hand of the foe,
those he gathered from the lands,
    from east and west, from north and south.

Some wandered in desert wastelands,
    finding no way to a city where they could settle.
They were hungry and thirsty,
    and their lives ebbed away.
Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble,
    and he delivered them from their distress.
He led them by a straight way
    to a city where they could settle.
Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love
    and his wonderful deeds for mankind,
for he satisfies the thirsty
    and fills the hungry with good things.

10 Some sat in darkness, in utter darkness,
    prisoners suffering in iron chains,
11 because they rebelled against God’s commands
    and despised the plans of the Most High.
12 So he subjected them to bitter labor;
    they stumbled, and there was no one to help.
13 Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
    and he saved them from their distress.
14 He brought them out of darkness, the utter darkness,
    and broke away their chains.
15 Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love
    and his wonderful deeds for mankind,
16 for he breaks down gates of bronze
    and cuts through bars of iron.

17 Some became fools through their rebellious ways
    and suffered affliction because of their iniquities.
18 They loathed all food
    and drew near the gates of death.
19 Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
    and he saved them from their distress.
20 He sent out his word and healed them;
    he rescued them from the grave.
21 Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love
    and his wonderful deeds for mankind.
22 Let them sacrifice thank offerings
    and tell of his works with songs of joy.

23 Some went out on the sea in ships;
    they were merchants on the mighty waters.
24 They saw the works of the Lord,
    his wonderful deeds in the deep.
25 For he spoke and stirred up a tempest
    that lifted high the waves.
26 They mounted up to the heavens and went down to the depths;
    in their peril their courage melted away.
27 They reeled and staggered like drunkards;
    they were at their wits’ end.
28 Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble,
    and he brought them out of their distress.
29 He stilled the storm to a whisper;
    the waves of the sea[b] were hushed.
30 They were glad when it grew calm,
    and he guided them to their desired haven.
31 Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love
    and his wonderful deeds for mankind.
32 Let them exalt him in the assembly of the people
    and praise him in the council of the elders.

33 He turned rivers into a desert,
    flowing springs into thirsty ground,
34 and fruitful land into a salt waste,
    because of the wickedness of those who lived there.
35 He turned the desert into pools of water
    and the parched ground into flowing springs;
36 there he brought the hungry to live,
    and they founded a city where they could settle.
37 They sowed fields and planted vineyards
    that yielded a fruitful harvest;
38 he blessed them, and their numbers greatly increased,
    and he did not let their herds diminish.

39 Then their numbers decreased, and they were humbled
    by oppression, calamity and sorrow;
40 he who pours contempt on nobles
    made them wander in a trackless waste.
41 But he lifted the needy out of their affliction
    and increased their families like flocks.
42 The upright see and rejoice,
    but all the wicked shut their mouths.

43 Let the one who is wise heed these things
    and ponder the loving deeds of the Lord.

 

 

 

A Mom’s Advice To Her Graduate

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Congratulations! I want to take this opportunity to tell you how proud of you I am. Today is a day you will remember for the rest of your life and today is the day that your life will drastically change. Mostly for the good, but the path ahead isn’t going to be as clear as graduating to the next grade and living within rules preset for you. With each passing year from here on out, you get to choose… it’s kind of scary, but it’s fun. At least I hope you see it as fun; an adventure that you get to create through your decisions, goals and dreams. What is beautiful about today, for me, is that I know you are ready. You have grown and matured, become your own unique person and you are equipped with everything you need to prosper in this life.

After today you are empowered to make decisions that will ultimately determine the kind of life you want to lead, who you want to become and what you want to be. Of course I have some Motherly wisdom that I can only hope you will find valuable as you “take on the world.”

1st and foremost, make God the leader of your life. The sooner you do, and the more frequently you remind yourself that you did, you will minimize regrets, find your life’s purpose faster and eliminate the senseless floundering; being tossed and turned by the distractions of the world and all the confusing messages it gives you. I didn’t find Jesus Christ until I was 32 years old. Your bible is your guide through this life; God’s instruction manual. Oh, if only I would have taken that advice when I graduated from High School, I wasted so many years trying to figure it out. I know you gave your life to Christ, but as you venture out on your own, you need to make your faith your own too. You need to consciously and sacrificially make him a priority. If there is anything I pray for you most is that you take this one nugget of my wisdom and do this one thing – devote yourself to growing in your grace and knowledge everyday.

2 – Chose your friends wisely. I can’t say I always did this either. I like to have fun and have always gravitated towards people who were “fun.” What I found is that those relationships are fickle, empty and temporary. Being the social butterfly that I am, I have made connections with a broad and diverse network of “friends” and what I have learned is that my born-again, God-fearing, fully-committed Christ followers are the most loyal, honest, genuine women and I can trust them with my life. They speak truth that sometimes hurts, they hold me accountable to what God’s Word says and they don’t compromise. They epitomize tough love. They help me be the best version of me and help me grow. They accept my faults and shortcomings and most of all, they are forgiving, loving, and a living example of grace; they role model how to be better in every area of my life. I pray you find them and grow with them through every season of your life. I know you have a great start and you have been wise in this area, but I simply want to encourage you to be diligent to seek Godly girlfriends and treasure them. On the topic of friendship, should you choose a life-mate (a.k.a. husband) I beg you to not yoke yourself to an unbeliever. The man is the spiritual head of the home and you will always desire leadership from him. God has a design for marriage and it is too long and significant of a commitment to live outside of His will in this particular area of your life.

3 – Protect your name. Proverbs 22:1 says “A sterling reputation is better than striking it rich; a gracious spirit is better than money in the bank.” Your name is your identity and your actions show the world what your name means. Decisions you make have a cause and effect; a bad choice can tarnish your reputation and it takes ten times the effort to rebuild or restore – if it is even possible. The phrase, “It’s a small world” is so true and for some reason bridges burned and a bad reputation make the world awkwardly smaller. You also never know when people you have offended or the actions that cause a division will come back to bite you. Take the higher road, whenever and however you can.

4 – Forgive others, don’t carry grudges and never seek revenge. Never walk out on a job and don’t use condemning, hurtful or malicious language that cannot be retracted; no matter how mad or justified you feel you are. Regretfully, I’m sure I have demonstrated this for you in my own faults and flaws. I will never profess the be the perfect Mom, Lord knows I wish I could take back many things that I have said and done over the years. To that end, if there are any harsh words that linger in your memory and I have hurt you in the past, I pray you will forgive me. A weight will be lifted if you do and I want the opportunity to do whatever I can to apologize and take ownership for my actions – I want the opportunity to right my wrongs. We give the devil a foothold if we carry that kind of hurt and pain.

5 – Call me, talk to me and let me know you are thinking about me even if it is a heart emoji. (Selfishly daily, but weekly at a minimum please.) Whatever time you give me from this day forward I will cherish. I know your life will be busy and I am going to be the last person you think of when you are focused on your career, your life, your future, but I am your Mom and know I will be thinking about you everyday and praying for you fervently. If we could find one event a year (Mother-Daughter Retreat, Bible Camp, shopping day or some other crazy adventure), let’s make it a priority to start and keep a tradition so we can stay close and continue to build great memories. Our relationship requires time together and experiences to build upon so we can continue to grow together. If you have your own children someday you will understand; for now, if you could please grant this request, I promise you will be glad you did someday.

6 – Set aside Sunday as a day for church and the opportunity to step away from the busy-ness of life. Yes, God’s Word says it and God will bless you for honoring it, but one thing I have found is that keeping Sunday free of other commitments gives you a chance to renew and refresh. You’ll be a better friend, student, employee and person. I love to use Sunday’s to do things that build up (like bills, reading, meal planning, yard work, etc…) At different stages of your life the stuff that builds up will look different, but the one day to focus on it truly sets you up for success all week long.

7 – Lastly…. Volunteer! You have been blessed beyond your imagination in health, gifts, talents, material possessions and socioeconomic status. I know I committed you to things when you were younger, but my intentions were to help you develop an appreciation for all you have, a spirit of humility and a generous, caring heart. Now you are going to have to figure out where you want to make a difference in the lives of those less fortunate than you. Here is the truth about serving others – no matter how much time, energy and money that you sacrifice for betterment and help of others will always bless you far more than you can ever be a blessing to others. It’s one of the most ironic paradigms that exists in this world; what you pour into the lives of others will come back into your own life ten-fold. If you ever want to experience true fulfillment and the greatest sense of joy, make this one of your life’s goals. I promise it will change your life for the better.

My hope is that you don’t read this as a list of tasks to be accomplished or a lecture from a Mom who thinks she knows everything, but that you receive it from my heart. I tried to be as succinct as possible to share what I believe you need to be successful as much as it is possible to find and be successful in this world.

With all my love,

Mom

 

To The God Girls In My Life

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Sing it with me, “We are family, I got all my sisters with me.” I’ll spare you the rest because I have no intentions of making this about Sister Sledge or worse, getting this catchy lyric stuck in your head. However, I do wish to recognize that today was a day that I particularly appreciated having my sister’s in Christ alongside of me and for those of you reading this, I want to remind you of what a beautiful gift God has given to us in our godly girlfriends; read on…

The best part about a life surrendered to Christ is that God gives us this amazing peace and if we keep our eyes on Christ, it is truly amazing how it can seem as if our world is falling apart, but there is still the assurance that God is sovereign over it all.

I say “if we keep your eyes on Christ” because it is so easy to take our eyes off of Christ as the apostle Peter shows us in Matthew 14, Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” Are you getting this? The dude was walking on water, but when his eyes started to look around at his circumstances, he sank!

In truth, that was me this morning. I was having one of those heart-to-heart’s with God on my morning commute. I started out pretty well, but instead of telling God all the things that I am thankful for and focusing on all the blessings that are so overwhelmingly evident in my life, I adopted the “wandering in the desert like an complaining Israelite” attitude instead, and starting whining about “stuff.” By the time I got to my first meeting, my attitude changed from gratitude and joy, to discontentment and discouragement. Of course I walked into my meeting imposing all of my woe’s onto the first set of ears that could hear. “Oh wretched man that I am”, to quote the apostle Paul in Romans 7:24.

Fortunately, my meeting was a group of strong, God-loving women and they could tell I was metaphorically drowning and guest what they did? They prayed! Not only did they pray, but they prayed in a way that helped me get re-centered on truth and put my head back on straight. It is so beautiful to have that kind of acceptance, support, love, encouragement and concern without judgement and rejection.

Solid, Godly, Christian friends are like medicine to the soul. Thank you Sonia, Trish and Heidi for being there and putting my eyes back on God where they needed to be.

 

 

 

Perspective

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Over the past year my life has been taken a detour. I started the year with a great job, in a great company and thought I had a promising future. As I begin the new year I am filled with hope of finding a new job and am wrestling with that mid-life question, “What am I going to be when I grow up?”

I thought I had it figured out, but HA! God obviously has a better idea. He just hasn’t clued me in on what that is yet.

If you are a student of God’s Word you know about detours. One of my favorite characters and stories, is Joseph’s. The poor guy was sold to be a slave by his brothers, was falsely accused of raping Potiphar’s wife, was then thrown in prison, then forgotten (for two years) and when he was finally remembered, he was summoned because Pharaoh needed someone to interpret his dream and FINALLY he is  promoted and put in charge of Egypt. Talk about the most ironic turn of events and most unexpected outcome…  that’s not even the end of the story. Unbelievable!

There are many stories in the bible that prove that life is unpredictable and the best part is… they bring us hope in our circumstances. God also gives us confidence that He will make all things work for the good of those who love Him. (Romans 8:28)

But here’s the thing, detours take us down roads we otherwise would not travel. Especially in our fast-paced world when our google maps (career, relationships, fast-food etc…) take us on the fastest route from point A to point B; we miss out on so much.

A couple weeks ago, my daughter and I found ourselves on a literal detour. We had the opportunity to see things we never would have otherwise seen. We also learned that it may have taken us longer to get to our destination, but we got to enjoy more time in the car enjoying conversation.

I’m not sure where this journey will take me and I’m not sure how long it will take before I see God’s plan revealed, but I am so grateful to have been given this time. Time with my family and the dedicated time needed to train a new puppy in our home. With each passing week I am getting the opportunity to catch up with people that I miss and friends I have not been able to stay in touch with. Not to mention, the pleasure of having quality time in my bible and uninterrupted, focused prayer time. I get to sit and read books, schedule middle of the day work-outs and increase opportunities to volunteer in my community and church. I see blessings everywhere and every day. With that great job that I had a year ago, I was missing out. Missing out on some pretty neat things.

So if you are on a detour – be encouraged, not discouraged. God allows detours, He has a plan for it, He is in it  and He will most certainly be on the other side of it. It will not last forever and while your waiting, seek Him with all of your heart. It brings you peace that surpasses all understanding and is a gift to be embraced.

How To Pick Our Next President

Oval Office“Ah, Sovereign Lord, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you.” Jeremiah 32:17 NIV

I passively listen to the news as I get ready for work and one of the daily topics appears to be who just announced their candidacy for the President of the United States in 2016. Every one of their nomination speeches tout, “I am proud to announce my candidacy for President of the United States.” Immediately followed by their prescription, “This is what America needs… my agenda.” This is great! We need to know who these people are and if they have the credentials to fulfill our nations top job, but they are mere humans declaring what they believe is best for an entire nation; that’s a bold decree which takes courage and confidence. I applaud them all, yet pause to question, “Whose agenda is best for us?”

Have you read 1 Samuel lately? I’m in chapter 13 where Saul gets his undies in a bundle because Samuel doesn’t show up at his said time and he decides to take matters into his own hands and disobeys God (and Samuel) by offering a sacrifice. We do that don’t we? We get anxious when God is not providing answers and take matters into our own hands. Instead of putting our faith in God and waiting on Him. We are prone to run to our religious rituals as if to speed up the process or control outcomes. Little do we know that God could be testing our obedience and patience; a tough place to be when our circumstances overwhelm us. Saul was feeling overwhelmed by the pressure of the Philistines. The world is overwhelming right now, let’s not be prone to wander away from God and cling to the most enticing nomination speech.

We don’t need a leader rushes in and tries to “fix” things.  In Saul’s case, God gave the people a king because they were asking for it, yet the king (Saul) was more about himself than he was of God and for the people. If we evaluated our presidential nominee’s to discern who are the God fearing men and women that would certainly narrow the candidate pool.

As a follower of Christ, I want a follower of Christ to lead our nation. Each nominee brings an area of strength that will make them best in some areas, yet ALL have weaknesses. On the candid roster, we have a blend of strong business acumen, military and foreign affairs guru’s, medical and healthcare experts, tenured government officials who “get Government”, but we don’t have one that is best at everything. In a time when understanding the world and the enemies in it is critical, when healthcare is overwhelming – yet necessary – for reform, our government is corrupt, economy waffling and our national debt compiling… Who IS the best man or woman for the job?

Here’s my proclamation. If we chose a Godly candidate, God will use their strengths for our benefit and he will fill in the gaps where he or she lacks. We don’t need a King Saul in the office of President, we need a committed leader of faith. So evaluate carefully America. A Christian doesn’t come with a party label of Democrat or Republican, race or ethnicity, age, gender, net worth, education or social status. God can use them all if they are true believers.

Godly Girlfriends On Break

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Godly Girlfriends is taking a break. God is at work in my heart and in my life. Right now I need to seek God’s voice and follow his leading with a focus on Him; being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 1:6)

Thank you for your faithful following. Please don’t unfollow during this time of my personal growth and restoration. After all, we need our Godly Girlfriends, right? What can you do?  Prayer for myself and my family would be greatly appreciated.

I guess you could say it’s one of those seasons of pruning. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunesso that it will be even more fruitful. (John 15:2)

So I guess you could say the best is yet to come.

A Time for Everything

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens:

    a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
    a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,
    a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,
    a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
    a time to search and a time to give up,
    a time to keep and a time to throw away,
    a time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,
    a time to love and a time to hate,
    a time for war and a time for peace.

Thank you for your loyalty, faithfulness and prayers. ~Sarah Schneider

God On Your Side

Champions

Today’s Devotion: Deuteronomy 20

If you’re going to be in a battle of some sort, of course you would want God to be on your side. I heard that the Seattle Seahawks prayed before the Super Bowl. According to The Gospel Herald, Pastor Mark Driscoll met with several players on the Seahawks team who are Christian. Among them is Rocky Seto who says, “Without knowing Jesus we are damned.” Something tells me these boys had God on that football field that memorable night. No matter how tough that other team was, they are no match for a team whose hearts, minds and bodies showed up to a game with God with them.

I have always appreciated when big, muscular, manly athletes revere to God in their lives, but what about us? Do we revere to God and show up to life everyday with Him in our lives?  We should. Stuff comes at us all day; our lives are a battlefield. I love verse 4, “For the LORD your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory.” Whether you’re a Super Bowl Champion or grocery gettin’ Mom , it is essential that we are not in it alone.

Deuteronomy chapter 20 is primarily the rules about war, but verse 4 set the pace for my takeaway of the day and I think it is a very practical verse and one to put to memory. A great reminder of who you have on your side and what that means in the bigger picture of life. The enemy [the devil] is relentless in trying to defeat us, yet he is no match for God.

Mark Driscoll asked Seto to define the Gospel, and Seto did so without hesitation – “Jesus saves. We all need Jesus – without Jesus, we are damned,” he says, stating that it is essential for people to understand their dire need for the Lord. “Jesus is everything … Jesus owns me, Jesus died for me – Jesus paid the debt that I couldn’t pay which is eternal death, and then ultimately He gives me everything I need … He’s the best King that I could ever hope to be under,” he says. – See more at: http://www.gospelherald.com/articles/50308/20140201/super-bowl-2014-life-on-and-off-the-field-with-jesus-%E2%80%93-pastor-mark-driscoll-interviews-seattle-seahawks-chris-maragos-clint-gresham-coach-rocky-seto.htm#sthash.iXxhtkD7.dpuf
Pastor Mark Driscoll sat down with several of the Seattle Seahawks players in January and asked them about how knowing Jesus Christ has affected their life – both on and off the field. – See more at: http://www.gospelherald.com/articles/50308/20140201/super-bowl-2014-life-on-and-off-the-field-with-jesus-%E2%80%93-pastor-mark-driscoll-interviews-seattle-seahawks-chris-maragos-clint-gresham-coach-rocky-seto.htm#sthash.iXxhtkD7.dpuf
Pastor Mark Driscoll sat down with several of the Seattle Seahawks players in January and asked them about how knowing Jesus Christ has affected their life – both on and off the field. – See more at: http://www.gospelherald.com/articles/50308/20140201/super-bowl-2014-life-on-and-off-the-field-with-jesus-%E2%80%93-pastor-mark-driscoll-interviews-seattle-seahawks-chris-maragos-clint-gresham-coach-rocky-seto.htm#sthash.iXxhtkD7.dpuf
Pastor Mark Driscoll sat down with several of the Seattle Seahawks players in January and asked them about how knowing Jesus Christ has affected their life – both on and off the field. – See more at: http://www.gospelherald.com/articles/50308/20140201/super-bowl-2014-life-on-and-off-the-field-with-jesus-%E2%80%93-pastor-mark-driscoll-interviews-seattle-seahawks-chris-maragos-clint-gresham-coach-rocky-seto.htm#sthash.iXxhtkD7.dpuf
Super Bowl 2014 Life On and Off the Field with Jesus: Driscoll Interviews Seahawks’ Chris Maragos, Clint Gresham, Coach Rocky Seto – See more at: http://www.gospelherald.com/articles/50308/20140201/super-bowl-2014-life-on-and-off-the-field-with-jesus-%E2%80%93-pastor-mark-driscoll-interviews-seattle-seahawks-chris-maragos-clint-gresham-coach-rocky-seto.htm#sthash.iXxhtkD7.4 For the LORD your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory.”