Stopping in the Fast Lane

Today I have the privilege of bringing you a guest post by my precious sister, Shanda Oakley.  If you're thirsty for some orange juice, I'm posting on her blog today.  You can like her here, follow her here and you definitely want to read more of her stuff here.  I know this post will be a refreshing stop in your day.  Please give my sweet friend some comment love!

This morning, as I was driving to my weekly bible study, I was praying aloud in the car. It is the only place I am completely alone and no one but God can hear me. There are no disruptions. I cannot even answer my phone as driving and talking is illegal in California. I know that as I have already been pulled over twice. So this is the one of the most peaceful times I have to pray. 

I came to a time in my prayer where I asked God to impress on my heart anything He desired. I drove silently, waiting for Him to speak. 

It dawned on me that I was driving in the fast lane and that this was a pattern for me. It had nothing to do with the speeding ticket, lying on the kitchen counter, due to be paid. I actually live in the fast lane of service and over commitments. I long for slow walks in the mountains, leisurely lunch with friends and time to read the many books I have started but remain unfinished. Yet, I have so many commitments that I cannot afford to move over into the slow lane.  
As I was listening for God to speak, the fast lane came to a sudden halt and I was sitting, unmoving on the interstate. Could He have said it any plainer? I did not need to move to the slow lane, I needed to get off the road all together and just stop.  
If God took a day to rest, and expected the Israelites to honor ‘the Sabbath’, then that rule should also apply to me. Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still and know that I am God.” It is in the stillness that God speaks to us and fills us with the energy to carry on our service to Him. He also gives us wisdom to plan our schedules in a way that is honoring to Him.  
I believe we need to come quietly before Him every day. But there are times when we need a whole day, or even more, to step back from activity and dwell in His presence. Mark 6:31 reads, “Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, Jesus said to the apostles, 'Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.'” (NIV)  

When we rest our bodies from activity and rest our souls in His presence, He restores us, recharges our batteries, and then sends us out with renewed energy and passion. 

Not only is it crucial for us to practice rest and relaxation, it is also important that we teach that as a priority for our children. We often keep them moving from one activity to another to keep them busy when we should also be teaching them the importance of being still. Let’s model rest for our children just as Jesus modeled it to his disciples.


Positive, Encouraging...Carynnie

Proverbs 18:21 The tongue has the power of life and death.

As my girlfriend explained her repulsed reaction to a talk given by a nationally known speaker, my stomach wrenched.  She had been totally turned off by the speaker's enthusiasm, counting it forced and fake.  I tend toward a positive presentation myself and immediately wondered if my speaking caused a similar reaction in the hearer.

Today's passage is Psalm 33.  David lauds the power of praise and impact of words.  The Word spoke creation into existence.  The Word of God is right and true.  It is powerful.

Human words also wield great power.  My friend's innocent remark sent my mind into a tailspin of introspection and self-doubt.  It wasn't even aimed at me.

Our local Christian radio station here is K-Love; their tag line - Positive and Encouraging.  We sometimes joke that our Carynnie should have been named K-Love.  She is both positive and encouraging.  She builds others up.  She looks for the best.  Her words breath life into our family.

For every word of life Carynne speaks, I could speak a word of death over my household.  When I vomit critical or harsh words, I deflate and defeat.  My words have power.

Jesus, I ask You today for Your power.  I want my tongue to be a vessel of life.  Let my words be few and Your words plenty.  Positive.  Encouraging.  Me powered by You.

I Can See Clearly Now

Hebrews 2:8-9 Yet at present we do not see everything subject to him. But we see Jesus...

Clara (5) has great hair. It grows easily and quickly in honey tresses for which many women would pay big bucks.  Unfortunately, she's taken the scissors to said locks not once but three times in her five years.  Most recently she did a bang-up job of haphazardly cutting the front and a lock from the back.  I suspect the back whack was an attempt to see if her hair would turn brown like Rapunzel in Disney's Tangled

I still have no idea why she butchered the front but her older sister, Hannah's, excuse from years ago echoes in my ears, "Mommy, I had to cut my hair because I couldn't see the TV."  Perhaps she couldn't see Tangled.

Today's reading is Psalm 32.  David understands the joy of allowing God to cover our sin.  He also gets the pain of attempting to cover sin by ignoring or justifying it. 

Like Clara's hair, my view of God is sometimes obstructed.  When -

Worry clouds my vision.  I focus on my problem instead of the Problem-Solver.

Doubt blocks my window.  I see my inadequacy instead of the Sufficiency.

Pride closes my blinds.  I see my paltry participation instead of the Provider.

Jesus, thank you for opening the curtains of my life to see You.  Cut away my worry, doubt and pride.  With an unobstructed view, I can see clearly now.

Life is a Highway

Psalm 31:14-15 But I trust in you, O LORD; I say, “You are my God.” My times are in your hands.

What are we eating for dinner? When are we going swimming? Clara (5) peppers me with questions from the moment she opens her eyes.  She want the who, what, where and when of every day. 

Sometimes I patiently answer her questions.  Other days I don't.  I want her to discover the joy of not knowing what's around every curve. 

I love to wander down a road I've never been on.  It's an adventure as you pass homes and businesses you never knew existed.  The kids will ask me where I'm going and I proudly answer, "I have no idea."

Today's passage is Psalm 31.  As David praises God, I thank Him for guiding me down His paths.  This psalm is home to the words Jesus murmured from the cross, "into your hands I commit my spirit".  In Jesus' greatest pain, He trusted God.

In my adventure of faith, I want to trust God.  There is great delight in not knowing what's around every bend.  He takes me down new roads.

Like Clara, I want to toss questions.  Where are you taking me God?  Why are we going there?  What will we do when we get there.  He doesn't answer every question.  He is a loving parent that understands the greater joy in not knowing.

Jesus, into your hands I commit my spirit.  I trust You to lead my heart and plan my steps.  My life is a highway and I'm gonna ride it with You...all day long.

What if it's NOT About Me?

A Note to my Regular Readers:  Taking a slight departure today to report on my weekend at She Speaks.  Back to the Psalms tomorrow...

James 4:6 But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

I breathed God.  I felt His brush against my skin.  God was so evident in conversation and inspiration during my weekend at Proverbs 31 Ministries She Speaks Conference.  I attended She Speaks but it was God who spoke into the hidden pathways to my heart.

I heard Him through Lisa Wingate's heart to write words to bless and not receive.

I heard Him in Rob Eagar's admonishment to produce a value-added newsletter that ministered to the recipient.

I heard Him through Lysa TerKeurst's wise advice to give your talents away to others expecting no favor in return.

He spoke an unexpected message.  What if my weekend at She Speaks wasn't about me?  What if it were about how I could pour myself out for others?

What unexpected words is God speaking into your heart today?

Jesus, Your gifts surpass expectation.  Your kindness exceeds wonder.  Your love is incomparable.  You speak.  I listen...even if it's NOT about me.

JOY - Jesus Over You

Lift up your eyes and look about will look and be radiant, 
your heart will throb and swell with joy.
Isaiah 60:4-5

I climbed all night - one torturous step after the other.  Many times I wanted to turn back but had been assured the view was worth the climb.  I reached the top of Mount Fuji to the greeting of dawn's first rays. 

I was one with the sky and clouds far from the thoughts and worries I'd toted up the mountainside.  I walked as close the edge of the volcano's edge as I dared.  It was almost 300 years since the last eruption but I still expected my hair to be blown back by its' force.  There on the mountain I stood firm.

Today I am studying Psalm 30.  This chapter is home to the famous words "joy comes in the morning".  Many nights a volcano threatens my heart.  It may be worry over one of the children, a hurt in a relationship or a financial concern.

When I stand at the edge of life's volcano, I can look down and believe it will erupt or look up and know God makes my mountain stand firm.  A night on the edge held by God brings joy in the morning.

Jesus, You make my feet firm.  You calm my heart.  I look up from my momentary issue and see You.  There I find JOY - Jesus Over You.

Hangin' on my Heart

Proverbs 3:3 Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart.

In my house there are precious things that hang on the wall:
  • the painting my husband commissioned one Christmas of Venice to remind me of our honeymoon
  • the hand blown glass lamp from Murano
  • the montage of each of my children at 3, 6, 9 and 12 months
Visitors to our home see these items and immediately recognize their value.

The frame hanging just to the left of my bedroom dresser looks ordinary by comparison.  It is a simple black design and home to my most valuable wall hanging.  Its' value can not be measured in money because its' worth lies in the words written there.

This ordinary black frame houses the letter my husband wrote me describing our first kiss.  His tender words claim his devotion to me and his belief in God's work in bringing us together.  When I read it my heart is transported back to that first kiss - a touch so overwhelming yet satisfying it felt like heaven and home combined.

Today I am reading Psalm 29.  David describe the glory and might of the Lord.  His value can not be measured in material wealth.  Any earthly comparison pales when contrasted with His glory.

Yet when David finishes his Psalm, he summarizes all God is by the way He gives strength and peace to His people.  To think that the Creator of the universe cares so deeply for me is both overwhelming and satisfying.

The simplest of things remind me of God's faithfulness - children who giggle, a husband who caresses, eyes that peak during dinner prayers, teenagers who stand up for what is right and lips that transport me to a first kiss.

Jesus, thank you for these reminders of Your tender care for me.  Every time I read Your love letter, I remember just how much You care.  Today I will frame these symbols of Your love in my mind and hang them on the wall of my heart.  

Hold You

Psalm 28:1-2 To you I call, O LORD my Rock...Hear my I call to you for help, as I lift up my hands.

Her strawberry blond curls bounce as she tilts her head and lifts her arms.  I know the words soon to follow.  The moment this little two year old girl met Hayleigh (12), their hearts connected.  When Hayleigh is present, no one else will do.  As soon as she spies Hayleigh, she raises her hands and proclaims, "Hold you."

Today's passage is Psalm 28.   David fervently calls the name of the Lord.  He has something to say and he wants it heard.  David doesn't stop at asking; he lifts his arms out to God.  It is surrender he gains his victory.

Growing up in the church many of us were taught an acronym for how to talk to God. P-R-A-Y. The P stood for the praises we should first give to God.  R was repent when we list things we've done and tell God we're sorry for those.  A represented ask and was the time you brought your requests for others to God.  Your prayer ended with Y when you asked for things you needed yourself. 

I never really use a tidy formula, I just talk to God.  However, long ago I shifted the Y from you to yield.  No matter how long I spend in prayer, it is a useless exercise if I am not willing to yield my will to God's. 

I think of Hayleigh's spunky little friend.  She doesn't just ask for what she wants, she reaches for it.  She surrenders herself into the arms of a friend.

Jesus, I may think I need to ask You to hold me but You already are.  Help me lift my hands as I lift my heart's requests to You.  I want to confidently declare, "Hold You." in sweet surrender. 

The Thrill of Defeat

Psalm 27:1 The Lord is my light and salvation.

She stood on the top pool step slumped slightly to one side. Her eyes moved pensively over the surface of the water. I tried to hide my own distress with a smile. I reached out my arms though they were far out of her grasp. She had to swim to reach them.

From the moment Carynne (4) entered the world, she screamed in the bath. How in the world could a baby developed in water have an inherent fear of it?  Isn't that against nature?  Carynne had no interest in the rules of nature, she loathed water.

With five girls in the house we've instituted a strict "no whining" policy.  Baths and trips to the pool are no exception.  My baby needed to conquer her fear.

We did it together.  We used the sprayer in the bath making certain no water landed on her face.  We laid down in the tub and learned to relax our shoulders.  We went to the pool and put just our faces in the water.  Eventually we "swam" by holding Mommy's hands a few feet at a time.  Two weeks ago she took her first shower.  Graduation (i.e. a real swim) was the final test.

We headed to the pool.  After two weeks of swim lessons, Rynnie knew how to swim but still wasn't sure she could swim.  It wasn't skill she lacked; it was nerve.  As she stood in trepidation, I heard her mutter to herself, "Let me think about myself for a minute."

I'll never know exactly what she told herself .  I imagine she went to the place of strength and asked Jesus for help.  She glided into the water.  By the end of the day she swam the cross distance of the pool.  Fear was defeated. 

Today's scripture is Psalm 27.  David wonders some of the same things Rynnie probably did on the top step of the pool.  When fear threatens, David knows his source of strength is God alone.  Fears left untouched become strongholds - impenetrable places where we shut God out.

David proclaims he fears no one.  He goes to God and finds his shelter there.  By the water, Rynnie found strength.  Her heart found courage. 

Jesus, when I hide in You, fear is defeated.  Hiding in Your shelter allows me to step out in faith.  My heart finds confidence and I experience the thrill of fear defeated.

Standing on Love

Psalm 26:3 For your love is ever before me, and I walk continually in your truth.

A popular car game for the Milholland crew is the Who loves game?  Each person in the car selects someone and asks, "Who loves _____?"  This often goes around for several rounds starting with the immediate family members and widens the circle of influence from there.  Often aunts, uncles, grandparents and cousins are included in the roll call.

A few days ago, I started a round with, "Who loves daddy?" (my question of choice).  From there, the questions quickly expanded beyond the typical format:

"Who loves Shannon's husband?" one asked.  (The answer to which is Scott)

Another piped up, "Who loves Shannon's brother?"  (This answer is also Scott since my husband and brother share a name.  Aren't they clever?)

In no time, we were beyond our usual boundaries.

A voice offered, "Who loves God and Jesus?"

Another inquired, "Who loves God's church?"

"Who loves God's people?" the other bantered.

I laughed and cried at once.  My four and five year old have a better grasp on our true purpose on earth than many adults.  Love God.  Love His people.

The chapter for today is Psalm 26.  In this passage David makes some statements I desperately want to be apparent in my life:
  • I have trusted in the LORD without wavering (Verse 1)
  • Your love is ever before me, and I walk continually in your truth (Verse 3)
  • I lead a blameless life (Verse 11)
  • My feet stand on level ground (Verse 12)
Overwhelmed is how I feel when I survey this list.  Can an ordinary girl like me who just trusts Jesus one day at a time ever measure up to such an insurmountable list?

Then I remember my preschoolers and I know with God all things are possible.  If I love God and love His people all the above will follow. 

Jesus, I'll keep my feet squarely planted on You.  You are my level ground.  You are my place of love.  The more I fall in love with You, the better I love Your people.  Today I'm standing on love.

High Flyer

Psalm 25:1 To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul

Donned in my red and black best featuring $1 beads from the Dollar Tree, I screamed until I was hoarse.  In fact, I may have out-yelled the actual competitors.  Hayleigh (12) and her middle school team are competing in Orlando, Florida at the National Cheerleading Championship.  I am the crazy cheer mom down on the floor screaming like I was just stung by all 1,000 members of a beehive.

Hayleigh's team position is flyer.  This means she's the little cheerleader they put at the top of all the stunts and pyramids.  As a mom, I'm expected to be all nervous and freaked about what could go wrong.  I just can't live up to other's expectations.

When I see my little girl held in the air, my heart soars.  I fly with her through every stunt.  I feel only parental pride as I witness her give her all on the floor.

Today's passage is Psalm 25.  David extols the benefits of following God closely.  Guidance, grace, mercy and forgiveness are among those listed.  I notice, however, following God starts where this chapter begins - by lifting our hearts up to God.

When Hayleigh is up in the air, she concentrates on her contribution.  If she were to get all bogged down in every tumbling pass and sign holder moving below she'd lose her focus and cause a potential stunt drop.  This is a major no-no in competitive cheerleading.  It garners big point deductions from the judges.

Likewise when I hold my heart up to God, I rise above the fray below.  My problems, concerns and burdens are placed in perspective by my upward posture.  I give God my all.  He gives me wisdom, grace, mercy and forgiveness.

Jesus, when I lift my heart to you, I can be nervous or I can rest in Your grace and peace.  When I choose the latter, my heart soars.  I fly high on the wings of Your love.

Stop Living in the "-ed"

Psalm 24:7 Lift up your heads, O you gates; be lifted up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in.

She was the picture of a star-spangled beauty.  Her blond tresses were braided in an intricate pattern pulling her hair back so your eyes were drawn to the bright blue of her own.  Her eyes danced with joy as she twirled her glow-up necklace and sipped a grape slushie.

When said slushie hit the ground, her eyes pooled like two miniature oceans.  "I dropped-ed my slushie and I cried-ed," she moaned.  I wanted to chuckle at her addition of an ed to every word but it would have only added to her distress.

Today I am reading Psalm 24.  In this chapter David considers who can draw near to God.  A holy God can only be approached by the holy and upright.  The mistake I make is that holiness is something I do.

Are you ever tempted to bring up your mistakes to God? We affix an "ed" on our life and live in a perpetual cycle of yesterday's sin.  Jesus wants us to lift up our heads to invite Him into our today so we move beyond our yesterday.

Jesus, thank you for giving me a glimpse of You.  When I take my eyes off my flaws and look squarely into Your eyes of love, I am flooded with Your grace.  You take the "-ed" out of my life.

Wanted: Travelling Gas Station

Isaiah 54:11 O afflicted one, storm-tossed and not comforted, behold, I will set your stones in antimony and lay your foundations with sapphires. (ESV)

The yellow light on my dashboard glares accusingly at me.  "You never fill me up until I'm running on fumes," I imagine my engine mouthing off.  My engine is right.

I didn't learn my lesson when I ran out of gas on the interstate in college.  I didn't learn my lesson when I was a single mom and kept praying my way into the station. I still haven't reformed by behavior entirely but at least now I do pull into a station as soon as the dummy light appears.  Why do I wait until I'm running on fumes to pull into the gas station?  The excuse I use is inconvenience.  I think I don't have time to pull off the road and find a station.  Someone needs to invent a travelling one that fills up your tank on the go.  Just sayin'...

Today's passage is Psalm 23.  I allow the familiar words to wash over me.  The Lord is my shepherd.  I shall not be in want.  He makes me lie down in green pastures.  He leads me beside quiet waters.  He restores my soul.  Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil...

Before my mother-in-law's surgery in Spring 2009 my husband whispered these words into her ear.  I've sat in many funerals and witnessed these words bring hope and healing to the grieving.  This passage is one we turn to when we need God most.

In this passage God portrays Himself as our shepherd.  While we cling to this passage in times of crisis, a shepherd is with his sheep in every season.  He guides the flock to water.  He watches over them at night.  He fends off predators and danger.

God is ever present waiting to fill my tank.  Why then do I sometimes only stop in for a nibble of grass when I'm nearly empty.  The shepherd's presence is so soothing to a sheep, I ought to stop in at regular intervals to "top off the tank".

Perhaps this is what Paul meant when he admonished us to pray continually (1 Thessalonians 5:17).  He knew we needed constant contact with the Shepherd to keep our dashboard lights from going off at the most inopportune moment.

Jesus, You are the foundation.  I run on empty and get tossed about when I stray from the side of my Shepherd.  Your filling station is never out of my way.  You travel with me.  I shall not want.

Evidence Demands a Verdict

A note to my regular readers:  I am taking a little side trip today from the usual format for this blog.  Back to the Psalms tomorrow but today I want to take you on a tour of my home...

Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this...

A sweet friend recently purchased the movie Tangled for my daughters.  At least once every day five little girls from age 4 to 40 sit to watch the compelling tale of Rapunzel.  She not only has an inexplicable ability to grow hair twenty feet in length, she is portrayed as a domestic diva.  Every morning she has her tower spotless in less than fifteen minutes.  She fills the remainder of her day with baking, chess, ballet, knitting, guitar, climbing, reading and painting. 

This of course is how I know I'm watching a fairy tale.  Today I began my usual morning line up with dishes, laundry and tidying the house.  As I carried a pair of shoes here and a batch of clothes there I began to see little evidences of God's unfathomable love scattered around my house. 

  •  A 1" square of petrified cheese that could double as a Scrabble tile if I could only find a Sharpie to give it a letter
  • Six tubes of Chapstick splayed in my kitchen towel drawer
  • Two mysterious bright pink carpet stains I suspect may be frosting
  • A Hi Ho Cherrio cherry who returns like a magnet to my Master Bedroom no matter how many times I remove it
  • An unwritten heart shaped note taped to my side of the bed with enough tape to affix a museum painting to the wall
  • Mysterious stains that accent my comforter in various hues of grease brown
  • Six stuffed spider legs who dangle between the cracks of a semi-closed toy trunk
This collection may seem strange to you.  Why would I consider these signs of God's love?

Each is a reminder of the real life lived inside this home.  These objects have been dropped, tucked and smeared by the five individuals who are gifts to me from the very heart of God.  God's love cannot be contained.  It overflows into every corner of this house and my heart.

Jesus, today I let myself be judge.  I'd slam down my gavel but with my intimate familiarity of the happenings in my house, it would smash into a million tiny pieces on the kitchen floor, wake the kids and make the dog bark for the next hour.  So just imagine my gavel rap as I loudly declare Your great love abounds here.  The evidence I see all around demands a verdict...Your love is immense and abundant.

Sixteen Candles

Psalm 103:17 From everlasting to everlasting the LORD’s love is with those who fear him.

I sat at our rugged kitchen table and peered dreamily out the window.  Our house overlooked the Tennessee River and its' original owner constructed the back as a bank of windows to soak in the view.  Where the riverbank should be, I saw the face of my boyfriend.  His rugged yet boyish features played in front of me as I breathed in the scent of roses.

I was sixteen and life seemed perfect.  Perfect boyfriend.  Perfect present.  He'd sent me a dozen roses as my present.  That day I thought perfection would last forever.  It was short-lived.  A few months later I would be as Anne of Green Gables puts it, "in the depths of despair".  My perfect boyfriend had smashed my perfect world into a million pieces.  He'd moved on to another girl and left wilted roses as a painful reminder of my once ideal existence.

Today's reading is Psalm 22.  This chapter is often associated with Jesus' death as the words "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?" appeared here first.  Jesus was quoting this Psalm when He spoke them from the cross.

Today I can laugh about how devastated I was by my first big break-up.  At the time it felt like those sixteen candles burned a hole of pain right into my heart.  I wish I'd known then how close help was.

Twenty-three years later the true love of my life would be diagnosed with cancer.  I ran to Jesus.  In His arms, I found strength, hope and encouragement amidst the most trying of circumstances.  God had not forsaken me.  He was near.  He enveloped me with a tangible, everlasting love. 

Jesus, Your love dwells deep in my heart.  Even today love comes and goes in my life.  Friends move.  Loved ones pass away.  You remain.  At almost forty-one candles, my life isn't perfect. I stare dreamily out my window thinking of Your eternal love and grace.

Surrender to God's Strength

Psalm 21:13 Be exalted, O LORD, in your strength; we will sing and praise your might.

My fall scarecrow is a wonder of engineering.  He is constructed entirely of wrought iron with sinewy arms and a huge pumpkin head attached to a stick of a body.  Every year when I put him in the ground, I ponder how he remains upright.  It's as if his rod body is reinforced with titanium instead of run-of-the-mill wrought iron. 

The winds come. He stands.

The rain falls.  He stands.

The ice pelts.  He stands.

If he were living in a modern day Wizard of Oz, he'd have the scarecrow asking for more than a brain.  He'd be asking the wizard for the strength of his friend who stalwartly stands watch in my yard each fall.

Today I read Psalm 21.  David rejoices in the strength of God.  In fact he refers to himself as the king in this chapter.  He is an earthly king captivated by the might of his Heavenly King.

I walked with a good friend this morning whose husband recently lost his job.  As we chatted she wisely stated, "Shannon, we didn't lose anything.  A Christian doesn't lose a job.  We gain a new assignment.  We work for God so we can't ever lose our job." 

Her faith is unwavering.  It is resolute.  Like my scarecrow, she stands in the midst of the storm.  Looking from the outside one would think her strength is impossible but her Engineer sees it differently.

She isn't standing upright all alone.  The Engineer holds her with His strength.  His strength becomes hers.  She doesn't see her problems; she sees His perspective.  She doesn't see her situation; she sees His solution.

Yesterday I got a letter.  It was one I didn't want to read.  The tears flowed from an aching heart.  I wasn't sure I could stand.  Today I realized I couldn't.  God can stand and hold me safely in His arms.

Jesus, I celebrate Your strength.  The winds may blow but I will stand.  Held.  Cherished.  Strengthened.  I stand like my scarecrow with arms straight out.  I am surrendered to Your strength.

I'm Bankin' on God

Psalm 89:28 I will maintain my love to him forever, and my covenant with him will never fail.

It was a small decision.  The kind we make dozens of every day.  I didn't know it would be a life changing one.

I needed to go to the bank.  Our particular bank isn't particularly close to our house.  A fifteen minute drive is required either to the west or south.  I debated which direction to venture and settled on the southerly route.  As I pulled into the bank parking lot, I received an urgent news bulletin on my phone.  The other branch had just been robbed at gun point with shots fired.

God's hand of protection guided me and three of my four children literally out of the line of fire.

Today I am reading Psalm 20.  This passage is a prayer for guidance and protection.  The question raised is in whom do I trust?

On a trip to the bank, it is tempting to place my trust in what is stored there.  The security of savings.  A nest egg.  A financial plan well executed.  As our money itself proclaims, the true source of trust is in God.

David echoes this sentiment in this passage.  Some trust in chariots and some in horses but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. (Verse 7) 

We can place our trust in people, possessions or even plans but it is only God who never fails.  He is worthy of our trust because He has proven Himself trustworthy.

Jesus, thank you for Your protection.  Your loving hands guides me even when I don't recognize or acknowledge Your work.  I could choose to deposit my trust in many vaults but today I choose the only secure transaction.  I'm bankin' on You.

Until the Morning

I could hear the sound wafting down from upstairs.  Scott was reading Bible stories to our two youngest and praying with them before bedtime.  I smiled and pictured them all snuggled on a twin sized bed.  His long, muscular body making them look like little fairies in his arms.

He never asked me if I wanted him to take that chore.  He just voluntarily started giving me thirty minutes off every night.  My preschoolers cherish those moments with their daddy and look forward to his undivided attention. 

The last thing Scott does before they change into jammies and brush teeth is give them a snack.  He feeds them physically and then leads them spiritually.  He gives them what they need to rest peacefully throughout the night.

Today's reading is Psalm 19.  In this chapter, David praises God for His creation and Word. 

Clara and Carynne's bedtime snack satisfies them physically until morning.  More importantly, their daddy's spiritual nurture satisfies them spiritually.  The name of this blog implies I spend time with God in the mornings.  Could I take a cue from my little ones and have a bedtime snack with Jesus?  In today's passage, David outlines four benefits of consuming God's Word:
  1. Energy for Your Soul (Verse 7) - As my body is restored physically by sleep, so is my soul revived by spiritual food.  Even a morsel of Scripture is a double shot of spiritual espresso.
  2. Wisdom for Your Mind (Verse 7) - Bedtime is a time of reflection and contemplation for me.  Evaluating my issues in my own strength is draining and leads to worry.  Considering with wisdom from God's Word leads to peace-filled sleep.
  3. Joy for the Heart (Verse 8) - I have observed over the years, many heart attacks happen at night.  A joyless existence is a spiritual heart attack.  Scripture clears my vessel to receive God's joy.  It lowers anxiety faster than Lipitor lowers your cholesterol.
  4. Light for the Eyes (Verse 8) - I sleep in the dark but consuming God's Word before bed, covers my sleep with His light.  As I dream and refresh my mind and body, His Word fills me. 
Jesus, I love having orange juice with You but think I'll add a midnight snack of Your word to satisfy my cravings until morning.  You'll give me everything I need until the morning.