I am a new convert to Duck Dynasty.
I really like the show… its funny, its interesting, and all the people on it seem real. Like, really real.
But my favorite thing about it is the story behind the people.
They love the Lord and they testify His name.
They go on national television is proclaim the way of Jesus of Galilee. They share the true message of the Gospel.
And I cant help but think its totally awesome.
Have you seen Duck Dynasty? What do you think of the unabashed proclamation of God’s holy word?
I saw this online and it moved my heart. Saying a prayer for all the moms today… hope you are feeling as blessed as you make others feel!
I have been getting caught up in the world lately.
When someone I thought was a friend lied publically about me, I obsessed about it for weeks. I lost sleep. Spent precious time methodically defending myself. Lost time with my family because I just had to prove their lies wrong.
Who was the loser? Me. I failed to recognize that Jesus is in control of my reputation.
When I witnessed a great injustice that affected many of my blogging friends, I jumped in and did everything I could to correct that injustice. Time was spent writing and researching and planning the best ways to Make TRUTH Known!
Hundreds of times since then my integrity has been questioned and I have been threatened with law suits and malicious threats meant to scare and deter. Bitterness has crept in with every angry ignorant comment made about the issue. Soon, seeing people as God’s children and loving them as He calls me too became a distant memory. I couldn’t even see their perspective in it I was so wrapped up in fighting the fight.
God was an afterthought.
Then the world. You know, because its my job to make the world a better place. There is so much evil and lies in the world. Seeing people whom I thought were Christians perpetuating and encouraging and falling for Satan’s lies has been a Great Discourager. I am getting so caught up in what other people are thinking and saying and doing, and again, allowing the bitterness and the evil creep in and eat away at the Joy I know through Him. That saying “carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders” seems to apply now more than ever.
Sad truth alert:
Focusing on the sins of others is a fantastic way to forget the sins in my own life.
image from christianfunnypictures.com
What I am coming to realize is that my faith has be fruitful. Others need to SEE my actions and know whom I serve.
The reality is, my actions are not fruitful, they are self serving.
And I want to say I am sorry.
But dwelling in a pit of shame and bitterness is certainly not helping me nor anyone else. So here is how I am choosing to handle this from now on out.
These trials should be turning me towards the Savior.
No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.
1 Corinthians 10:13 (ESV)
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
James 1:2–4 (ESV)
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written,
“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:35–39 (ESV)
We are meant to be more than conquerors! God knows we will face trials and stumble and fall. What is important is what you do after you fall.
Will I stay down? Or will I look up?
Today, I choose to look up. To stand up. Even if I am standing alone!
Let me get real down and dirty here.
I dont know what to pray.
In August my Father in Law died suddenly of a heart condition. Six months later my husband was diagnosed with the same condition. So I prayed, “Dear Lord, we trust you with Chad. Whatever Your will, may it be done.”
I re-evaluated our lives and tried to pinpoint sin. I had conversations with God about acceptance and faith. I told God, ” I believe that You will only bring us through trials to draw us closer to You and further Your kingdom. Its all about Your glorification.”
That is what I am supposed to say right? That is what I am supposed to believe? I mean, I do. God loves me and wants the best for me. His greatest desire is to fully know me and be in a relationship with me. He would put any trial in our paths that would ultimately lead to a greater trust and faith in Him.
I never so much as let myself entertain the words, “Just heal him Lord. Just make my husband well. I know you can do anything God, please just heal him.”
I don’t dare.
My faith is strong! My faith is steady! I know God can heal, I just don’t want to test Him.
The truth is, I desperately just want to beg Him to make Chad whole. When I sat in the room and watched them shock Chad’s heart, there was peace. Seeing his heart go from a normal sinus rhythm right back into AFib… its like I could feel God there. The pain and grief of knowing that this treatment didn’t work…it wasn’t overwhelming. There was a calmness. Like I knew it was God’s will. (Even just saying that feels awkward, please don’t think I am minimizing the situation in any way.)
I am afraid. Terrified.
Afraid to ask for His healing. Afraid that for some sovereign reason we wont get it. Afraid of feeling rejection. Afraid of losing my husband and not being able to praise God like Job so graciously did.
And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.”
And most of all, I am afraid of losing my relationship with God.
Maybe healing Chad is not in His plan. He knows the big picture right? Who am I to walk in and say, ‘Nope. Not this trial God. We love and trust You just fine thank you very much. Lets just get some healing now OK?”
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.
God even goes so far as to guide me when He knows I am lost praying. He searches my heart! But are the desires of my heart all that matter? Or do I need to say the words… and believe He will provide?
What if my prayers are wrong… and not answered like I want them to be.
Just feeling confused and a little broken.
And my question is, Do you expect God to answer your prayers? What do you do when He doesn’t?
God answered the question for us over and over again. I have heard it a million times, but have I really listened? I just wanted to share a little trick a friend taught…
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7 New International Version (NIV)
(picture origin unknown)
Now, replace the word LOVE with your name.
Amanda is patient, Amanda is kind. Amanda does not envy, does not boast, is not proud. Amanda does not dishonor others, is not self-seeking, is not easily angered, and keeps no record of wrongs. Amanda does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. She always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
I dont know about you, but that humbles me and inspires me simultaneously. I cant say with honesty that I am any of those things.
God calls us to be love.
I came across this quote recently and couldn’t help but take notice.
“When you forgive, you heal your own anger and hurt and are able to let love lead again. Its like spring cleaning for your heart.”
I sorta dismissed it because I generally disagree with the concept of “healing thyself”. But dismissing it right away wasnt right. Because dont we need to let God in so He can do the work He needs to? Dont we need to make the choice to forgive before forgiveness can begin its healing properties?
Recently the value of this quote shed some light.
I have been struggling with rejection. Worldly rejection. Familial rejection. Just… rejection. And I just happen to be that person that lets things fester.
The other day I woke up and it was wonderful. I worked out, had great devotional time, started the kids homeschooling… everything was going well.
Quite by accident, I found out that some friends had decided to exclude me from a new project.
Now, I have no idea why they made this choice. It could have been because they had too many people with the same name as me. Or because it was Wednesday. Or because they needed a change. Or because they truly didnt think about me and knowingly reject me.
But in my mind, it was completely intentional rejection. How could they do this and not include me? It had to be intentional. They made a conscious choice to exclude me.
I was devastated and it proceeded to ruin my entire day. I just couldnt let it go.
In bed that night, the situation kept running through my head. Since there was no logical way to reason out the situation, I decided that my only option was to reject them back. Without them knowing why, I was no longer going to support them and their choices. If they didnt want me as a part of their project, then that choice was going to ultimately remove me from their lives.
I could almost feel the bitterness growing. My choice to react and reject based on a situation that I had no clear facts on had planted a seed of resentment in my heart. It grew when I fed it. It grew when I didnt. It was quickly growing beyond my control.
The only remedy to this kind of bitterness is forgiveness. The absolutely only way that I would be able to get my heart back would be to forgive them.
To forgive them. To make the choice to let go of any hurt I had perceived they caused me.
I had to pray, “Lord, you know my heartache in this. But I trust you. I know that sometimes you put people in my life to teach me just like you remove them to teach me. Lord, help me to truly forgive these precious ladies and to simply love them. Remove my judgement. Remove my bitterness. No matter what they may say or do, help me to love them as You love them.”
In all honestly, prayers such as that are not life long in their healing. Since I still do not know the reasoning behind my friends actions, I still have occasional doubt and insecurity when I interact with them. But now, instead of feeding into bitterness, I know where to direct those un-godly feelings. And remember to look to Him for my value. To trust Him that when I am in His will, He has me exactly where I need to be.
Funny things is that they will never know the heart struggle that their actions inspired.
But I am thankful for their actions non the less, because through them, I am learning to lean more on God.
I volunteer at my church’s youth group. There are a few reasons why this is completely ridiculous.
1. I am old.
2. I am exhausted.
3. Being hip is apparently a cool thing and not someone calling me fat. Not that anyone has called me fat. To my face.
But there are a also a couple reasons why this is exactly where God wants me.
1. It is completely overwhelmingly acutely awesome seeing young people of faith. How jealous I am of their love for the Lord at such a young age!
2. I get to hear cool young music.
This brings us to this song that I would be remiss not to share.
The youth group has a worhsip team and they are pretty awesome. And the first time I heard this song it totally crept into my heart and has embedded itself there ever since.
photo credit spiritualinspiration.tumblr.com
When they started singing the chorus I pretty much had to strap my hands to my sides. (Sidenote: cause as much as I love Jesus, I am MORTIFIED to raise up my hands in church. Seriously, I have issues.)
“And oh, I’m running to your arms
I’m running to your arms
the riches of your love
will always be enough
Nothing compares to your embrace
Light of the world Forever Reign!”
Even listening to it now I just close my eyes and feel myself being drawn closer to Him. These words and this music is truly a worship experience for me.
Now dont go telling those kids that they are a big influence on me. I want to remain as cool and hip in their minds as possible.
Hillsong Music can be purchased here.
I just wanted to share a story with you that really touched my heart. I hope it will yours as well!
Not a lot of press coverage was given to the tough Argentine golfer Robert De Vincenzo, but one story from his life shows his greatness as a person.
After winning a tournament, De Vincenzo received a check on the eighteenth green, flashed a smile for the camera’s, and then walked alone to the clubhouse. As he went to his car, he was approached by a sad-eyed young woman who said to him, “Its such a good day for you, but I have a baby with an incurable disease. Its of the blood, and the doctors say she will die.”
De Vincenzo paused and then asked, “May I help your little girl?” He then took out a pen, endorsed his winning check, and then pressed it into her hand.
“Make some good news for the baby,” he said.
A week later as he was having lunch at a country club, a PGA official approached him saying, “Some of the boys in the parking lot told me you met a young woman after you won the tournament.” De Vincenzo nodded. The official said, “Well, she’s a phony. She has no sick baby. She fleeced you my friend.”
The golfer looked up and asked, “You mean that there is no baby who is dying without hope?” This time the PGA official nodded.
De Vincenzo grinned and said, “that’s the best news I’ve heard all week.”
“Godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.”
1 Timothy 6:6-7
The preceding story is from Gods Little Devotional Book, published by Honor Books. Its a great book and I encourage you to get it if you need little boosts of faith.
I love Thanksgiving and Christmas. Having hubby home, the spirit behind the seasons, the amazing food… its all enough to make me dream about these holidays for weeks before hand.
But there is another side to gatherings, one that can be sometimes stressful.
The truth is sometimes we just dont get along.
I’ve been thinking a lot about how I deal with family. Sometimes I look for the negative and not the positive in the people I love. Sometimes I react to them in defensiveness based on my own issues, not on what they have actually said. Sadly, its been easier for me to be in a pattern of critical thinking during those long holiday gatherings.
I forget how impactful the words I say are, and how lasting their impression is. Even if what I am saying is not a true reflection of my heart, but simply an indication of a sour emotions or a bad attitude.
I came across these verses and I believe they have a direct correlation to how I can choose to think about extended time with family.
1 Peter 3:10-11 NLT
For the Scriptures say, “If you want to enjoy life and see many happy days, keep your tongue from speaking evil and your lips from telling lies. Turn away from evil and do good. Search for peace, and work to maintain it…”
I love that part, “search for peace”. What if I looked for good in others? On purpose?
1 Corinthians 2:1-2 NLT
When I first came to you, dear brothers and sisters, I didn’t use lofty words and impressive wisdom to tell you God’s secret plan. For I decided that while I was with you I would forget everything except Jesus Christ, the one who was crucified.
This is Paul talking to the Corinthians. One interpretation I heard of this message was that he was saying to them, “I am not here to listen to the gossip or the quarrels. I am not focusing on this things of this world, I only want to focus on Jesus.”
I can only imagine the changes that others would see in me if my focus was truly on Him! If I did not get caught up in strife, yet set my focus to the Lord.
Proverbs 19:11 ESV
Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.
One observation that I have noticed is that the deeper you love someone, the more vulnerable we are to feeling hurt. I dont know about you, but I have heard words from family or close friends that cut like a knife. Coming from a stranger would not have nearly the impact.
I know that those people love me, and want the best for me, but I cant help but be torn up at how painful their sharp words are. The above verse speaks to that so acutely for me. I know I would want my family to forgive me when I say things I shouldnt, and here God is telling us that it is wise to do this right away! Dont let things fester and turn into bitterness. Forgive and let go.
Here are a few more versus that can help a troubled heart:
1 John 4:19-21 ESV
We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.
Romans 12:18 ESV
If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.
John 13:34 ESV
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.
Hebrews 12:14 ESV
Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.
From the OpenBible.info.
I pray that your holy words will be permanently cemented into my heart. That I will look for the good in others always. That I will seek positive and loving words when speaking. That I will honor you with my thoughts and actions.
Lord, please bless my family and our time together. Help me to overlook things that may hurt, and to forgive as readily as You forgive me. Help me to be an example of Your peace and love. Help me to love others as You love them.
Thank you for this wonderful time we have together, where we can celebrate the birth and life of your Son.
In Your precious name I pray!