Category Archives: Relationship

December 18, 2018 expectation

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Good morning, DearHeart.

When my brothers and I were little we lived in Harrah. Every weekend we’d make the trip to Caddo County to visit my grandparents, one night with the Coons in Carnegie, and the next at Mom and Pop Reinking’s in Fort Cobb. Every weekend in the car we’d fuss over who got to lay on the ledge between the back glass and the back seat, and we’d ask Dad, “How much further?” to which he may or may not have “patiently” replied “Three more hours” even if we were only ten minutes away. It was a familiar ride on a familiar journey.

There’s comfort in familiar.

Much of my journey to knowing Christmas, and to knowing Christ is laced with the same kind of familiar. Some of the questions that children ask their parents like “why” and “how do I do this”, are questions I repeat to my Savior. And, He patiently answers even if it is the hundredth time.

He knows me.

He knows the way that I take.

He knows the questions I will ask.

There is something so reassuring about being known. Being known takes your expectations and turns them into promises.

Today is my Bryan’s birthday. Even as his life plays out, twisting and turning, he is the patient anchor in our twizzling family life. He reassures me often that there’s no need to worry because the foundation of our future is already set in place. God takes each question we ask, each fear we hold too tightly to, and each uncertainty about what’s next and changes them into His beautiful promises. Just beyond each trial comes an opportunity that God is moving us toward. That’s expectation.

Just as a mother knows her child, God knows every intimate detail about us. I can’t’ get enough of the reminder that God chose you and me even before we were born. Bryan’s the one that reminds me of the expectation that God has already planned out

every word,

sentence,

paragraph,

and chapter of our life story.

He had it all planned when we were just a twinkle in His eye. Even before each of my sons made their way into the world, I dreamed of their future and planned so many things for them. All the love I knew filled my heart as I waited for their arrival into my life. That’s also expectation.

God does the same dreaming and planning for each of us. He is doing the same for Bry.

And, for you.

And, for me.

He has a plan and a future and a story outlining everything He knows about each of us, just as He did for His son,

born in a stable,

the hope of all who seek Him;

the hope of our world.

“My sheep listen to My voice; I know them, and they follow Me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them away from Me, for my Father has given them to Me, and He is more powerful than anyone else. No one can snatch them from the Father’s hand. The Father and I are One.” John 10:27-28

Wake up.

Arrive today with expectation.

Go.

December 17, 2018 prepping

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Good morning, DearOne.

Yesterday we had our Christmas program at church. Those days are extra-special … memory making days for the families who make up my church family. My church is about 20 miles from home and the drive always adds a bit more time to get my heart ready.

I was wondering as I was driving, ‘what does “Sunday” evoke in me? How do I approach the day?

Most every Sunday I get to spend with my folks, Sunday dinner … sometimes there’s about 30 of us, sometimes it’s just Dad, Mom, Steve, and me. Yesterday, Steve was working so it was different – just Dad, Mom, Luke, and me. It is rare that we don’t have the extra leafs/leaves (?) in the table.

I love the ‘set-apartness’ of the day that is different from the other 6 days. I need that. The day is to be dedicated to worshiping God. It is to be a day set apart … different from the other six days.

In his book, “The Sabbath”, Abraham Joshua Heschel says “it is incumbent on every man to be very, very zealous in making the Sabbath day preparations, to be prompt & diligent as a man who has heard that the queen is coming to lodge at his house, or that the bride & her entire entourage are coming to his home. What would such a man do?” (p.65)

That was a fresh read so driving along I was thinking about that level of preparation, listening to my Christmas playlist, and this song came on:

“Joy to the World , the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven, and Heaven, and nature sing
.”
“…Let every heart prepare Him room.

If we are going to receive our King, then we are going to need to prepare Him room- in our hearts, in our lives. We must eagerly be ready & waiting for Him.

Our God patiently waits for us to come to Him. He is ready & waiting to bless us with His Presence & His Word.

It is, then … a mutual preparation … He for us & us for Him.

I asked myself on my drive … ‘What would this woman do this day to be prepared for the Sabbath?’

‘For her Savior?’

“Listen! It’s the voice of someone shouting, “Clear the way through the wilderness for the LORD! Make a straight highway through the wasteland for our God!” (Isaiah 40:3 NLT).

Clear the way through the debris that exists in our day. In our minds.

Make a straight highway into our hearts & lives.

As we hear concerts and programs and the jingles … let the sounds move you to make the preparations, and, it happens….

He comes!

What will you do to be prepared for your Savior …

this Christmas season?

this week?

this day?

this hour?

Wake up.

Make room in the inn of your heart.

Do it now.

Go.

December 15, 2018

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Good morning DearHeart.

Years ago, dad was asked what his favorite tv show was. He said “the news”. We laughed because growing up it was true. We had to quiet down and ‘quit horsin’ around’ so he could hear it. I think his answer now would be “the History Channel” because the daily news is so bitter and the History Channel is always on unless his beloved A&M Aggies are playing.

We live in a different world. Often, the news causes me to switch to Scripture. This season I keep rereading the story of the birth of Jesus. And, the more I read it, the more, as a mom, I read the untold parts.

We concentrate on the manger, the birth, the star, the wise men, the gifts. But something occurred right after the wise men depart from the manger. Joseph is warned, through a dream, to flee with Mary & the baby, Jesus.  Joseph flees that very night.

“Herod was furious when he realized that the wise men had outwitted him. He sent soldiers to kill all the boys in & around Bethlehem who were two years old & under based on the wise men’s report of the star’s first appearance.” Matthew 2:16,17 NLT

That was the world that Jesus was born. Can we even begin to imagine the panic that set in? Little boys being taken from their homes, perhaps ripped from the very arms of their mothers who were trying to protect their little ones. Mourning filled that little town of Bethlehem.

The mass murdering of little boys.

And Jesus came to be light in the midst of that darkness. He came to be hope in the midst of hopelessness.

He came

& lived

& died

to be our Savior.

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy & find grace to help us in our time of need.” Hebrews 4:15,16 NIV

He experienced all that we experience.

He KNOWS what it is like to doubt God,

to question His activity.

He KNOWS what it is to wonder if God has left us,

abandoned us

& left us to ourselves.

He KNOWS.

He KNOWS we are weak & frail & will be tempted with our questions about God in times like these. And He made a way. The way to make it through these times.

We approach the throne of grace with confidence.

We come to God with our doubts. With our questions. With our pain. With our grief. With our anger. With our fear.

We approach the throne of grace with confidence.

Why?

So that we may receive the grace & mercy to help us in our time of need.

Wake up.

Approach the throne.

Jesus.

Go.

December 14, 2018

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Good morning, DearOne.

My girls helped me decorate the tree about a month ago. That was a precious day. Sweet chatter as they loosened and placed every branch on my old tree. As I sit this morn in the stillness by this tree that is heavy-loaded with treasured ornaments from every year of our lives, I can hear the Oklahoma wind gusting outside. Maybe a sign that just as the Christ Child came to bring a new law and order, He sends winds of change to blow away the old to make room for new directions,

new roads,

new blessings.

Maybe the things we have learned this year are just the beginning to each of us walking in ALL that God has for us.

ALL.

Each struggle,

each pain,

each tear,

each laughter (come on, we can’t say it was all bad),

the connections,

the disconnections,

the challenges – maybe each one was exactly what we needed in order to go into Christmas a bit more humble and go into the new year accomplishing what He has deemed for us.

Just maybe.

Realizing this, I thought: there truly is a holy beauty when we can see that the thing we thought would kill us truly did not. To realize that perhaps that very thing the enemy designed to kill us & thought for sure it would, has served the purposes of our God in our lives. Our God –

-Who CHOSE US knowing all that this year would hold;

-Who loved us in spite of ourselves;

-Who adopted us knowing that we had something to add to HIS FAMILY;

-Who accepted us just the way we are knowing what we would become (there’s hope yet!!!);

-Who redeemed us and will redeem all that has happened in our lives to His great praise & glory;

-Who has forgiven us not because we deserved it but because He so loves us that deeply;

-Who blessed us because He delights in us.

How amazing to think of all that this morning.

The verse I turned to said this:

“You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of Your presence and the pleasures of living with You forever.” (Psalm 16:11 NLT).

This morning I am so grateful that we have God, who shows us the way. He doesn’t leave us stumbling & wondering. He shows us the way of life. He grants us the JOY of His Presence. His very Presence in our lives = JOY.

How amazing is that!?

He grants us the pleasure of living with Him forever. And, He began that in each of our lives the day we accepted Him into our lives & that gift is ours forever. Today may you find that joy & pleasure in a God that has found joy & pleasure in you.

Yes, He has.

Wake up.

Sit and experience the joy of belonging to Him.

Go.

December 12, 2018 baby

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“After they arrived at Capernaum and settled in a house, Jesus asked his disciples, “What were you discussing out on the road?” But they didn’t answer, because they had been arguing about which of them was the greatest. He sat down, called the twelve disciples over to him, and said, “Whoever wants to be first must take last place and be the servant of everyone else.” Then he put a little child among them. Taking the child in his arms, he said to them, “Anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me welcomes not only me but also my Father who sent me.” Mark 9:33-37 NLT

Good morning DearOne,

Some of you have seen this picture that I robbed from our Holly’s post. Our sweet baby Liv is a mighty mess and she, Levi, and Holly have shared their news of a new arrival coming in June. We are on the edge of our seats – so excited! What is it about a baby that changes everything? All that really matters becomes so very clear!

As I was reading this passage in Mark 9, with keeping Christmas in mind, it also becomes so clear as to why Christ came to us as a baby. In so doing, He showed us how to take that last place & be the servant of everyone else. With tenderness and open arms we tend to the needs of others … just how we welcome a little child into our family!

We hold them close,

we embrace them wholeheartedly,

we love away their discomforts,

their tears,

we feed them,

we allow their schedules to take priority,

we serve them and see the face of the Christ Child in their own.

We welcome them.

May you and I always welcome Christ into each & every day of our lives as we would welcome a newborn baby. May we welcome Him into our activities,

our decisions,

our thoughts,

& in all that we do.

In so doing, we also welcome the Father.

Today, I am reminded that He put a little child among them.

Wake up.

Be servant minded.

Welcome Christ in.

Go.

December 11, 2018 God with us

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Good morning, DearHeart.

We are always growing.

Ever-changing.

Through difficult times, scanning our environment to decide whether or not this is a safe place … choosing our response … ‘will I exercise my right here to fight or will I take flight?’ Recently, I was thrilled when asked how I successfully made it through a difficult conversation. I shared:

I planned for it.

I knew the agenda.

I walked in prepared.

My preparation included inviting Christ into the room with me. Into the very chair in which I would sit. Asking His Holiness to meet me there, to be waiting for me as I entered,

as I sat down,

to weave through my thought process,

to guide the words I heard,

and to be in the words I spoke.

“God, be with every part of this process. Be with me. Be with us.”

And, He was.

“The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”–which means, “God with us.”   (Matthew 1:22-23 NIV).

Sometimes I can read the Christmas story & miss things due to the familiarity that has grown over the years.

Immanuel.

A single name that means so much. ‘God with us.’

After the resurrection, Jesus is commissioning the disciples & says to them:

“Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”   (Matthew 28:20 NLT).

Immanuel.

‘God with us.’

Again we are told in Hebrews 13:5:

“God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” (NLT)

‘God with us.’

Wake up.

Invite Him in with you.

Never will He leave or forsake you.

Go.

December 10, 2018 JESUS

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“…he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he was conceived.” Luke 2:21 NIV

Good morning, DearOne.

It doesn’t happen often, but I inherited a soapbox gene from my dad. You really haven’t heard anything til you’ve seen Verle Coon completely wound up and making his point. You know you have witnessed pure passion when you witness it. He’s mellowed a lot in recent years so instead of daily bouts of frenzy, we only get one or two a year. A few of his grandsons let that same strand of DNA loose occasionally, too. When it happens, even if it is a touchy subject … just knowing it’s origin always makes me grin a little inside.

I’m a little worked up this morning. If you were here, I’d probably climb on my platform and slather you with a soapbox rant. Here’s my plight: why is it Christmas and we aren’t hearing the name “Jesus” at every turn?

Could it be that the Christ Child has been pushed out?

Could it be we have no room?

“While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born,  and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was NO ROOM for them in the inn.”  (Luke 2: 6,7 NIV)

A birth.

A manger.

No room.

Funny that we know that. Yet – my racing thoughts are wondering … are we really any different today?

Cards to write.

Parties to attend.

Gifts to buy.

Baking to be done.

Cleaning the house.

Wrapping the gifts.

Decorating the house.

Relatives to visit.

Lights to be hung.

Meals to be prepared.

Stockings to be hung.

Well, you get point. Still no room. We must choose to make room for Christ in our lives.

Let’s go on this mission together. Let’s see how many times we can say the name “JESUS” each day through this season. Let’s truly get passionate about bringing Him into absolutely every minute of our days. Oh, the thrill of honoring Him by bringing Him into every talk. Let His presence bless you and me and everyone each day as we meet folks on this Jesus journey. May each soul walk away from us lifted by the presence of Christ from our talk.

Wake up.

Count how many times you say “Jesus” today.

Go.

December 6, 2018 lead

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Good morning, DearHeart.

As our sons were growing up a common talk we’d have with them was that others … especially younger folks were always watching them. The power of their words, influence, attitude, work ethic, relationship with Christ, was always on display. And, even as young boys, they were leaders with followers.

They also decided along the way … well, to put it simply … and blunt … leadership is messy. And we all interact with leadership in some way.

Whether it is at school, work, church, with family, or relationships, our lives are impacted by leadership. If our desire is to lead well, we must continually develop and our leadership will require everything of us.

Great leadership is rare because it takes work. And, it is ever-changing.

It takes intentionality.

It requires sacrifice.

It takes resolve.

It involves heartaches,

disappointments,

and mistakes.

It requires apologies.

It entails a daily dose of humility.

It means relentless growth and

frequent failure. (sigh).

Extraordinary leadership isn’t easy, but it is possible.

I’ve always thought the secret to extraordinary leadership lies in this verse, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all you strength. The second is equally important: Love your neighbor as yourself. No other commandment is greater than these.” (Mark 12:30-31, NLT)

When you operate from a point of loving your people well, you get to witness little victories trickling from the people you lead as they lead others. You also gain courage to grow your skills through the challenges.

Notice today those who are following – intentionally, and unintentionally – those who are watching from a distance. Notice the power of your influence.

May we be committed to our growth because our God is committed to us through the long haul.

“And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.”
(Philippians 1:6, NLT)

Wake up.

Continue growing.

Go.

November 30, 2018 disappointment

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Good morning, DearOne. This little fella really wanted us to share our chips and salsa yesterday. He was disappointed when the waiter ran him off.

The other day I read a quote about disappointment that stuck with me by Ann Voskamp:

“God appoints people who do disappoint – to point to a God who never disappoints.”

Who of us has not been disappointed by those we thought would always stand by us?

And who of us has not disappointed others?

Yet I do not think I have ever thought in terms that they were appointed to disappoint. Since reading this quote, I have not been able to stop thinking about it.

The statement is so true. There has not been a time in my life when disappointed by a person that I have not turned to God. In my hurt & woundedness, there was no other place for me to go but to God. Why? Because He & He alone will never disappoint me.

He will never let me down.

I think the psalmist, David, expressed is so beautifully…

“Our ancestors trusted in you, and you rescued them. They cried out to you and were saved. They trusted in you and were never disgraced.”

Psalms 22:4-5

We need to let those who have disappointed us, off the hook. Seriously.

And quite frankly, I want to be let off the hook.

I want to be forgiven for disappointing my friends & family. Can it be that disappointment is a gift that is disguised?  Perhaps in disappointing us, they have done exactly what God called them to do … they pointed us to Him. And He will never disappoint.

Wake up.

Let it go.

Go.

November 29, 2018 leap

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“God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers. Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven.” (Matthew 5:11-12, NLT)

Good morning DearHeart.

People are, in fact, getting ruder and more sarcastic. They are shooting their mouths off. They just plain are. It should not come as a shock to me. Jesus warned that many will turn away and betray and hate one another. He said hearts would grow cold towards Him and to one another (Matthew 24:9-12).

We are further told what will become characteristic of people as time marches on …

lovers of themselves

and their money,

boastful,

proud,

scoffing at God,

disobedient to parents,

ungrateful,

unloving,

unforgiving,

counting nothing as sacred,

slanderous,

no self-control,

betraying their friends.

Ugly list, isn’t it? But check it out for yourself as I did not write the list (2 Timothy 3:1-5, NLT).

In order for our hearts to remain soft and feeling, we are surely going to need to do a better job of guarding our hearts. We are going to need to be deliberate if we are going to be counter-cultural and remain polite and kind and sensitive to one another.

I’ve noticed people who seeing nothing wrong with being sarcastic or making a rude comment to each other. They seem to think as long as they put “LOL” or a smiley face, the sting is lessened or made less offensive. We slap each other down or talk demeaning without a thought of how it may affect another person. For days.

And, thinking on this scripture, I did a commentary search on this part … –  “God blesses you.., Be happy about it…. Be very glad!” (and yes, the exclamation point is there in the NLT).

One says we should react with leaping and unbridled joy (!). Really. What is my response to be?

Am I truly being told to be happy at being hurt?

Jumping up and down with joy that words have stung?

No, rather I think this is what my response should be …

He blesses me at those times when words have stung deeply. As I respond in a way to please Him, somehow He steps in and brings healing to the sting. As He heals my heart, He refills it with compassion and understanding. He blesses me with more of Himself. And in that I experience unbridled joy. To retaliate and sting back would be to miss the blessing He has for me. The blessing which brings joy is in remembering –

He has called me,

I am His, and I

am fully and completely loved.

“Blessed are you when people insult you.”

Don’t miss His blessing.

Wake up.

Bless the sting.

Accept His healing blessing.

Go.