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  • Bitter and Sweet

    Happy Thanksgiving Girlfriends!

    Even though today is a busy day for many of us, I wanted to jump on and wish you all the happiest of Thanksgivings!

    I am so thankful for each one of you. As I have spoken at events and retreats over the past few months, I’ve been deeply reminded of how much we need each other. We have a lot going on – and so much of it is painful and hard.

    One of my favorite memories as a little girl was to visit my grandparent’s farm in the Fall. My grandmother, my mom and I would walk into the woods on Sunday afternoon and go searching for a beautiful vine that hung from the trees called, Bittersweet.

    An invasive plant, Bittersweet climbs and winds its way around the branches of trees. After the first frost, it’s little yellow berries burst open and inside, a smaller orange berry pops out.

    In November, when the leaves fall off of the trees, the vine is exposed. It hangs like a garland from the bare branches. Its vibrant orange and yellow berries remind me of Thanksgiving ornaments dangling down to welcome the holidays.

    Both my mom and grandmother used Bittersweet to decorate their homes at Thanksgiving, and for as long as I have had my own home, I have too.

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    I’ve been thinking — what a perfect name for a vine that appears just before the holidays.

    The word ‘bittersweet’ means, ‘to have two conflicting emotions all at the same time’.

    Anybody? This is exactly the place where I find myself today, and I imagine it is the same for many of you too. As I have prayed with, listened to and learned from many of you this Fall, I know all too well the kinds of situations you are dealing with.

    A loved one whose chair will be empty at the table

    Missing your kids because of shared custody with an ex-husband

    The angst of interacting with a family member who struggles with addiction

    Estranged relationships with parents or siblings

    A marriage that is distant and disconnected

    Loneliness

    Financial stress

    And so on. It seems the holidays just amplify it all – and if we are not careful, the bitter will overtake the sweet.

    Yes, you have a lot going on and I do too. But here’s the thing — there may be some bitter in our circumstances, but the sweet comes from our relationship with Jesus, and that is what we need to amplify.

    We can be thankful at Thanksgiving and have true joy at Christmas because we know He’s got it. He is in control and working everything – not just some things — but every single thing out for our good.

    We may not know exactly how our circumstances will turn out, but we can trust in the ONE who does.

    My prayer for you is that you will feel the love of your Father tomorrow and as you navigate your way through the busy weeks leading up to Christmas.

    Get some rest

    Take a walk outside and get some fresh air

    Carve out time out to sit at His feet with your Bible open and listen

    Let His truth pour over you and bring you thankfulness and joy. Wait for it – it will come.

    And above all else – fight for it. Don’t let anyone steal it from you. Wield the sword of the spirit and the shield of faith any time you feel the bitter coming on. The enemy is no match for a sister with her shield and sword!

    I love you all. Thank you for supporting me, interacting here on the blog and for sharing your stories when we meet. You are precious and dear to me.

    I thank my God on every remembrance of you – Philippians 1:3

    Happy, happy Thanksgiving,

    laura

     

    Wednesday, November 23, 2016 | 13 Comments
  • This is the Way, Walk in It

    There have been moments in this election season when I have felt like I was about to lose my mind. You too?

    The level of anger, the sophomoric behavior, the name calling, and dishonesty on both sides have been flat-out depressing. What is a Christian to do?

    As a women’s ministry leader for almost two decades, I fully understand that women can be wounded for years – if not their entire lifetime – because of names they have been called, sexual boundaries that were violated, the aftermath of an abortion, and so on. I have tended to many, many broken hearts – including my own.

    Those of us who serve women in ministry know very well how these hurts can paralyze and wound on the deepest levels. Listening to it day in and day out is demoralizing. It is very dark – and it is not ok.

    I don’t need to tell you – there’s so much about this election that is seriously not ok.

    So…I have been tuning out most of it. I’ve unfollowed a few folks on social media and have turned off the national news. I have tried receiving information from more neutral outlets. It’s helped. Boundaries are a good thing.

    But what has helped me the most has been to stay focused on what is true – to watch my own attitudes and thinking. I need to keep my head straight and listen for the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

    You see, we are the ones who stand on the rock. We are the ones who follow a God of peace, not a God of confusion (1 Corinthians 4:33).

    In fact, He does not want us to be confused at all – His word is clear that both of the candidates are His beloved children.

    He has set up His church on this earth, to be a light in the darkness with a big old neon WELCOME sign on the open door. He promises us that the gates of hell will not prevail upon it (Matthew 16:18).

    In other words – we’re good.

    This is nothing new in the grand scheme of things. For over 2,000 years, Christians have not only survived – but thrived in morally decaying cultures. 

    “The Church’s mightiest influence is felt when she is different from the world in which she lives.” – A.W. Tozer

    Christ followers have carried out the great commission under Godly leaders as well as the ungodly. Those that have gone before us understood that it is ultimately the Father who leads, protects, and provides – not the government or any human being.

    That isn’t to say we should bury our heads in the sand and pretend there isn’t an important decision being made on November 8th. No – we must be informed and prayed-up before we decide who will receive our vote.

    I love this verse from Isaiah: 

    Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it.”  Isaiah 30:21

    Now, Isaiah wasn’t speaking of democrats and republicans when he spoke of the left and the right! :-)  Instead, he says that no matter where you and I go, or what decisions we need to make, the Lord will guide us. One commentator states that ‘word’ in this verse means “our conscience – guided by the Holy Spirit.”

    He will illuminate the path and tell us which way to go.

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    We can have confidence because He is sovereign. We can experience calm instead of being anxious, because He is our peace.

    And because of this, we can set the tone instead of joining in on all the fretting and chaos.

    To flip Tozer’s quote around: We have an opportunity to greatly influence the culture for the Gospel when we handle ourselves with calm, peace and confidence in the middle of crazy!

    What a contrast!

    So, we carry on. We move our eyes away from the darkness and onto the light.

    And as Billy Graham famously declared,

    “I’ve read the last page of the Bible – It’s all going to turn out alright!” 

    Love to all,

    laura

     

     

     

    PS. It’s almost Halloween and just for fun, I’ve posted two of my family recipes that have been designed on pretty printables! Simply tap the ‘freebies’ tab at the top of the page or click the live link here. I hope you enjoy them as much as we do! 

    Thursday, October 27, 2016 | 13 Comments
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