What is "Building A House"?

"Building A House" is a blog about my journey back to God. The name comes from Proverbs 24:3-4 (The Message), "It takes wisdom to build a house, and understanding to set it on a firm foundation; it takes knowledge to furnish its rooms with fine furniture and beautiful draperies."

No, this isn't going to be a blog about making my house look pretty - at least not pretty on the OUTSIDE. But, I'm going to be working on getting my house
"pretty" on the SPIRITUAL side. I'm coming back from a pretty dark place in my life after losing 8 babies to miscarriage. This blog is about my journey back
to the Lord.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Proverbs 27:9

"The heartfelt counsel of a friend
is as sweet as perfume and incense."
Proverbs 27:9 (NLT)

Ahhhhh... I can attest the truthfulness of this Proverb. Last night (Jan. 26, 2012) I bared my soul to my dearest friend about something I wrote about here, but was unable to write about. I've decided I'm not going to share that here on this blog. Perhaps someday I'll change my mind, but it's just a bit too personal to put on on the worldwide web.

I felt the Lord guiding me to share this information with my friend, Terri so I could get the opinion of someone who isn't trained (and paid) to make me feel better (my Christian counselor). I needed to know if the things my counselor was telling me were really true or if she was just saying what she thought I needed to hear.

So, I bared my soul to Terri. My emotional self was so scared to broach this subject with her. But, my spiritual self kept reminding me that the Lord pushed me to do this, so he would be with me. I just let it all out and then sat back - knowing, in my heart, that she wouldn't condemn me, but being afraid, in my mind, that she might think I was a loser.

And just like the smell of sweet perfume can make you melt in comfort, the words my dear friend shared with me made me feel like I was floating in a room full of incense. There was no condemnation. There was no judgment. There was acceptance; there was compassion; there was understanding; and there was love. She gently corrected me on some of the things I believed that she felt were not quite right (such as me saying all I needed to do was ask for God's forgiveness and he'd forgive me. She said he has already forgiven me.)

I felt like a huge weight was lifted from my shoulders and that I didn't have to carry the guilt and shame I had been carrying for over 20 yrs any longer. I have been forgiven and I am on the way to forgiving myself. I can't say I'm quite there, yet, but I'm a lot farther than I was yesterday afternoon, that's for sure!

I have said it before and I'll keep on saying it: I am so blessed to have the friends that I have. And my friendship / sisterhood with Terri is one of the things in my life that I'm so incredibly grateful for! This blog post is for you, my sister! I love you!

Psalm 40:1-3

"I waited and waited and waited for God. At last he looked; 
finally he listened. He lifted me out of the ditch, 
pulled me from deep mud. He stood me up on a solid rock 
to make sure I wouldn't slip. He taught me how to 
sing the latest God-song, a praise-song to our God. 
More and more people are seeing this: they enter the mystery, 
abandoning themselves to God." 
Psalm 40:1-3 (The Message)

If you've been reading this blog, you'll probably notice that I just recently did a blog post on this passage. But, the Lord brought me back to this passage today as I think of a friend who is soon to be going home to be with the Lord, leaving behind extended family, a dear husband and two darling little boys. As I read this passage tonight, the Lord placed a vision in my head of Him taking Sandy when it's time for her to go, standing her up on a solid rock in Heaven and teaching her a praise song to Him. I saw her surrounded by an army of angels all praising God together, with Sandy. And I am praying that more and more people abandon themselves to God because of her life and because of the peace her family has during this time.  

My dear friend, Sandy: May the Lord bless you and keep you. May he make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you. May he look upon you with favor and give you peace. In the mighty name of Jesus - Amen.

Deuteronomy 4:9

"Just make sure you stay alert. Keep close watch over 
yourselves. Don't forget anything of what you've seen. 
Don't let your heart wander off. Stay vigilant as long as you live. 
Teach what you've seen and heard to your children 
and grandchildren." 
Deuteronomy 4:9 (The Message)

Vigilant:  alertly watchful especially to avoid danger 

I have not always been vigilant in my life. Oh, I'm on alert when I go shopping at night. When I go for walks, I take our dog with me. I don't go into the neighborhood that's close to us where there's a sexual offender unless my husband is with me. I'm vigilant to the physical dangers in this world, but I haven't always been vigilant with the spiritual dangers in this world. 

I have let my guard down numerous times and guess what happens each and every time? The Enemy gets a hold of me or someone in my family and all hell breaks loose. I have less patience and tolerance for the kids' noise level. My husband I become distant. My kids fight and bicker. My kids get mouthy with us. They lie. And worst of all, we ALL feel distant from the Lord. 

I have begun doing regular home-blessings. Not the kind that FlyLady talks about, but the spiritual kind. Praying over all the rooms in our home. Anointing openings to our home with oil. Laying hands on my family members and praying - usually while they're sleeping. Praying over my husband while he's sleeping. Binding Satan and replacing his presence with the presence of the Holy Spirit. And I've seen a bit of a difference in how my family interacts with each other. Not drastic changes, by any means, but God's gentle touch is definitely moving in our lives. And I plan to teach all this to my children as we go.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Mark 4:12

"These are people whose eyes are open but don't see a thing, 
Whose ears are open but don't understand a word,
Who avoid making an about-face and getting forgiven."
Mark 4:12 (The Message)

I have so much I need to say about this verse, but my fingers just don't want to do the typing. Fear is a horrid thing. 

Taking a deep breath...

The last line in this verse really hits home with me tonight. I've stated before that I see a Christian counselor. She's helping me so much in many ways. I have some things from my past that I really struggle with. Things that I can't forgive myself for. Things that I can't ask God to forgive me for. Things that my counselor has said I don't need to seek forgiveness for because I didn't do anything wrong. That opens up a whole can of worms for me. 

I'm not ready to make this all public yet, so I apologize for the cryptic speech...

Taking another deep breath...

My eyes keep going to the words in that last line... "avoid... getting forgiven". 

"Avoid... getting forgiven."

This is one area that has always held me back from feeling truly forgiven for ALL my sins. Was it even a sin or am I believing a lie from Satan? Why am *I* holding on to guilt and shame when God wants me to "get forgiven" and be set free?

I feel the Lord is wanting to open my eyes up about something here. I think I need to end this post and go sit somewhere in quiet...


I just spent the most amazing time in prayer! I'm really feeling like the Lord is moving and is about to work some amazing stuff in my life in regards to what I wrote above! It's so awesome, but also a little frightening. Please pray for me!

Proverbs 26:18-19

"People who shrug off deliberate deceptions, saying, 
'I didn't mean it, I was only joking,' 
are worse than careless campers who walk away 
from smoldering campfires." 
Proverbs 26:18-19 (The Message)

So, parents - how many times have you ever heard one (or all) of your children say, "But, I was just joking!" when they get caught being mean to a sibling or a friend? If you're anything like me, you've heard it more times than you want to admit. I have one child who says this every.single.time he gets busted being mean with his siblings. It makes me want to scream! I have told this child that from now on I will not accept that answer. I mean seriously, would the Hot Shot Fire Crews accept an answer of, "Well, I didn't MEAN to start a forest fire when I left my campsite without putting the fire all the way out?" Uh.. No. The person gets the bill for the cost of fighting the forest fire! So, the child should get the consequence for his behavior. 

I just haven't figured out a good consequence yet. Any tips?

Needless to say - my kids will be memorizing this verse. They ALL do this, just one does it more than the other.

Psalm 41:12

"You know me inside and out, you hold me together, 
you never fail to stand me tall in your 
presence so I can look you in the eye." 
Psalm 41:12 (The Message)

It used to freak me out that God knew me inside and out. "He knows my thoughts?!" I had every reason to be freaked out! My thoughts weren't (and still aren't) all that great! Today, it comforts me to know that he knows me so well. There are times I don't know what I even need - but God knows. All I have to do is sit in his presence and I know that I'll be okay. 

And because he knows me so well, I don't have to try to keep anything from him. Let me tell ya - it takes a lot of effort to try to hide things from God! And it's all pointless because he knows it before I even do! It's craziness! LOL 

In all seriousness though, God does know me. And despite knowing every dark thought, every negative deed, he still loves me. He accepts me because I've accepted Jesus. He wipes my slate clean so that I CAN stand before him. Without Jesus, I wouldn't have a chance! But, with Jesus, I am no better or worse than the next person. And because of Jesus, I can go to the Throne of Grace and he will meet me there, accept me and wrap me in his powerful arms. 

Because of Jesus' love for me, I can stand before the Father unashamed! There is no greater gift in Heaven or on Earth!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Mark 3:5

I want to talk about the Pharisees and how some of us Christians can live like the Pharisees of the New Testament. In my last blog post, I talked about what I was like as a mother a few years ago and how angry and bitter I was. Part of that anger and bitterness was due to the fact that I have PPMD (the severe PMS, sorry for the TMI, guys!) but A LOT of that anger and bitterness was because I was trying desperately to live according to the LAWS of God. For me, it's impossible to be a joyful Christian when I'm too busy failing at being a perfect Christian. Mark 3:5 tells us what Jesus thinks of religion that just focuses on following the rules...

"He looked them [the Pharisees] in the eye, one after another,
angry now, furious at their hard-nosed religion."
Mark 3:5 (The Message)

The Pharisees had just watched Jesus heal someone on the Sabbath. When he did heal the person with the crippled hand, the Pharisees left, sputtering. They were so focused on the LAW that they failed to see that Jesus had helped someone! Who cares if it was on the Sabbath!

Well, who cares about all these stupid things that religion says we have to do. Don't wear certain clothing. Don't watch certain TV shows. Don't listen to certain music. Don't do this. Don't do that. Because IF you do - you're destined to hell! And God forbid if you dye your hair or get your nose pierced! Woe to him (or her) who does these things!

I'm sorry, but Jesus hung out with the riffraff - in fact, the Message Bible says Jesus was "acting cozy with the riffraff" (Mark 2:16) No, this doesn't mean I can do whatever I want because I'm a Bible believing, baptized Christian so God's got me covered. But, it also doesn't mean I have to kill myself trying to live up to MAN'S standards!

Being a homeschooler, I used to attend homeschool conferences. Used to. For some reason, the homeschool world is filled with people who live legalistic lives and who try to shove those legalistic beliefs onto every other homeschool family out there. I nearly killed myself trying to live up to those standards. I'm not just being overdramatic here. I was suicidal because I was failing so miserably at being a good Christian! Good Christians don't question God! Good Christians don't feel angry! Good Christians are perfect mothers, perfect wives, perfect friends and they certainly never share about the struggles they're going through!

Let me put it this way... I was willing to end my life rather than face the truth that I needed a Savior. I was willing to make my husband a widower and leave my children motherless because I couldn't measure up to man's standards. I thank God for a wonderful Christian counselor who helped me see that the legalistic way of life is not the way for me. That God's grace covered all my failings. That ALL I needed to do was believe in Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior and everything else was just moot. I had to get back to the basic tenets of Christianity in order to be able to become the wife/mother/friend/daughter God created me to be. I needed a personal relationship with God that was based on what I believed, rather than what I did (or didn't do.) I needed a Savior who would meet me exactly where I was, accept me - flaws and all - and gently mold me into the child of God HE wanted me to be. I needed Jesus. The Jesus of the New Testament, not the Savior the Pharisees were expecting. But, the real deal. Son of God who became flesh, suffered and died for my sins so I could truly be set free. And that, my friends, is the exact type of Savior I have today! 

Proverbs 25:11-12

"The right word at the right time is like a custom-made piece of jewelry, 
and a wise friend's timely reprimand is like a gold ring slipped on your finger." 
Proverbs 25:11-12 (The Message)

Oh my. This verse really rings true. And what I'm about to write is really putting myself out there. I'm a little scared to do it, but you know what - God wants us to bring things out into the Light, so I'm praying that someone is blessed by what I'm about to say...

There was a time where I was a very angry woman. My heart was bitter, although I had so much to be grateful for. I was stressed out, adding 2 children who didn't speak English and didn't know how our family ran into our home. My husband's business was taking off and he was rarely home. I was recovering from a miscarriage and my faith was shot. And I was not a nice mama. :-(

Then, a wise friend said some pretty harsh words to me. She told me I had a vindictive spirit, among other things. I was speechless when she said that, because she said everything I was thinking about myself! (I love how God speaks through other people to get our attention!) I KNEW, in my heart, that I was not even close to being the mom God created me to be, but it took hearing it from the mouth of someone I really cared for, someone I wanted to emulate her - she had so much patience with her children and always appeared calm, no matter what she was going through. Plus, she had adopted children as well and was someone I could go to for wisdom in the adoption arena.

I really took her words to heart. I sought counseling. I spoke with my doctor and was diagnosed with PPMD and began taking medication to help with my moods. And I begged God to change my heart. He didn't do it overnight, but he DID do it. I am not the same mom I was 3-4 years ago! I sought their forgiveness for my attitude in the past and my family has forgiven me. They often comment how I never yell anymore. In fact, my youngest son's memory of that time is slowly fading. Sure, I get frustrated with my kids still. But, I cannot tell you the last time I disciplined them in anger. Grace is seen more in our home now and healthy, strong relationships are being built.

Thank you Jesus!

Psalm 40:1-3

"I waited and waited and waited for God. At last he looked; 
finally he listened. He lifted me out of the ditch, pulled me up from deep mud. 
He stood me up on a solid rock to make sure I wouldn't slip. He taught me 
how to sing the latest God-song, a praise-song to our God. More and more people 
are seeing this: They enter the mystery, abandoning themselves to God." 
Psalm 40:1-3 (The Message)

Waiting is not my strong point. In fact, I stink at the waiting game. Just ask those who waited with me as we waited to bring our two children home from Haiti. Oh boy! Was I a whining, sniveling child! What was supposed to take 6-9 months ended up taking 2 1/2 yrs! We hit one obstacle after the other. We even had people tell us that maybe the obstacles were God's way of telling us not to adopt! I just thought, "Get behind me Satan!" My husband and I prayed about adopting our children more than we had ever prayed about anything before or since. We clearly heard God tell us these were our children. So, we knew we were doing His will by adopting. We also knew that he had a reason for the adoption to take so long - not that knowing God's will was perfect made me any more capable of handling the wait. ;-)

Today, I look back and the wait doesn't seem that long at all. I still don't know why we needed to wait so long - other than God was teaching us patience. I DO know that when things get tough - as they almost always do when you adopt older children - I look back on that time of waiting so that I can remember how my heart longed for these children. I would be lying if I said I never thought, "Did we make a mistake?" when things get tough. I would be lying if I said I never questioned what God was thinking by calling us to adopt. (Those are definitely not my better days.) But, all it takes is a quick peek at my journal from back then to see how my heart ached and longed to be able to hold our children in my arms. That reminder is enough to tell me that all the difficult times are so incredibly worth it.

Thank you God for the wait we had in bringing our children home. Those memories remind me of how precious even the most difficult moments are with my adopted children. My children are HOME so we can have those difficult moments, instead of living in an orphanage somewhere, being abused and feeling abandoned and unloved. I'll take the snarkiest attitudes they can dish out! :-)

Numbers 30:6-8

"When a woman who is living with her husband makes a vow or 
takes a pledge under oath and her husband hears about it but says nothing 
and doesn't say she can't do it, then all her vows and pledges are valid. 
But if her husband cancels them when he hears about them, then none of the 
vows and pledges that she made are binding. Her husband has cancelled them 
and God will release her. Any vow or pledge that she makes that me be to her 
detriment can be either affirmed or annulled by her husband. But if her husband 
is silent and doesn't speak up day after day, he confirms her vows and 
pledges - she has to make good on them. By saying nothing to her when he 
hears of them, he binds her to them. If, however, he cancels them sometime 
after he hears of them, he takes her guilt on himself." 
Numbers 30:10-15 (The Message)

Have you, as a woman, ever committed yourself to do something when you have felt overwhelmed with life as it is? I have. My husband doesn't always intervene - he doesn't hold his authority over my head as a thing of "I HAVE POWER AND YOU WILL DO AS I SAY, WOMAN!" He rarely even speaks up and "lets" me do pretty much what I want. But, there have been times where I've agreed to do something for someone and he has spoken up because for me to follow through with what I said would truly be to my detriment. 

Just tonight, we had a meeting for our daughter's class trip. They needed volunteers to help with fundraising and I was just taking notes left and right for what I was going to help with. He just leaned over and gently whispered, "Jen. Remember you have Mono." So, after the meeting, I spoke to the person in charge and simply said, "I have Mono, but I really want to help out. I have to take things day by day, so if I say I can help out but I have a setback, I'll try to let you know asap, but I may have to cancel last minute at times." (or something to that extent - I can't remember my exact words now.) She completely understood and instead of feeling angry that my husband showed his authority over me, I felt so loved because he was watching out for me and making sure I didn't over-commit myself. 

Ladies, if you're married and your husband grows concerned that you're overdoing it, listen to him. He just might know what he's talking about! 

And girls living at home with your fathers... Numbers 30:3-5 says something to you as well! I challenge you to look it up and really take it to heart. Fathers really do "know best" - especially when they're living under the veil of God.

Psalm 39:1

I'm having a bad morning due to a bad attitude from one of my kids. So, I decided to read from Psalms and what do I read?

"I'm determined to watch steps and tongue so they won't land me in trouble. 
I decided to hold my tongue as long as Wicked is in the room. 'Mum's the word,' 
I said, and kept quiet. But the longer I kept silence the worse it got - my insides 
hotter and hotter. My thoughts boiled over, I spilled my guts." 
Psalm 39:1 (The Message)

This description is so accurate! The more I hold my tongue, the more I just want to spew my thoughts out for the world to hear - or at least for the child who's giving me trouble to hear. I'm not one who can hold her tongue very easily. I come from a family who knows how to have a good verbal fight. When I'm angry or hurt, I can usually speak my mind quite "well". But, in this instance, speaking my mind is only going to make things worse. The thing that this dear child of mine is upset about is so minute that it's not worth me saying anything more about. However, since I'm holding my tongue, my insides are burning up. 
There is a release for this. One that won't hurt anyone or cause me to need to make amends. That is releasing it all to God. Time to go pray...

Mark 1:7-8

John the Baptist said the following as he was baptizing people in 
the Jordan River: "The real action comes next: The star in this 
drama, to whom I'm a mere stagehand, will change your life. 
I'm baptizing you here in the river, turning your  old life in for 
a kingdom life. His baptism - a holy baptism by the Holy 
Spirit - will change you from the inside out." 
Mark 1:7-8 (The Message)

And he really will change you from the inside out! In magnificent ways! Not in boring, dull ways! My life today is filled with so much joy! Sure, I have painful times, even gut-wrenching times, but in the midst of it all, I have total joy knowing that this is all temporary. 
Sure, I make mistakes - sometimes dreadful mistakes that cause me incredible angst - but, I can seek forgiveness and know I am forgiven (sometimes it's really difficult to forgive myself, though). God has made incredible changes in my heart in the past couple of years. I am not the same person I was 3 yrs ago. I am nowhere near perfect, but I am most definitely forgiven!

Proverbs 23:9

"Don't bother talking sense to fools; they'll only poke fun at your words." 
Proverbs 23:9 (The Message)

Makes me think of when I try to talk sense to my kids in the heat of an argument. It just doesn't happen! LOL 

(So, WHY did I attempt this again tonight with one of my dear children? Hmmm... maybe that child wasn't the only one who was being a "fool"...)

Psalm 37:39-40

"The spacious, free life is from God, it's also protected and safe. 
God-strengthened, we're delivered from evil - when we run to Him, 
He saves us." 
Psalm 37:39-40 (The Message)

So many people say I'm not free because I'm a Christian. They are so wrong! I have so much freedom as a believer! Yes, there are some things I won't do because they go against my belief in Jesus, but I don't do them because I think I'll go to hell if I do. I don't do them because I don't NEED to do them. Those things don't bring me joy. 
I'm not talking about happiness, which is contingent upon what I have or what I get. I'm talking about pure joy that is contingent upon one thing and one thing only... Knowing that my God loves me and that I will be with Him for eternity. Nothing else matters! I can have joy even in the midst of sorrow. But I've never felt "happy" when bad things happen. I AM free!

Psalm 37:5, 7-8

"Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust him, and he will help you...
Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for him to act.
Don't worry about evil people who prosper or fret about their
wicked schemes. Stop being angry! Turn from your rage!
Don't lose your temper - it only leads to harm."
Psalm 37:5, 7-8 (NLT)
This. This is what I'm trying to do with some situations in our lives. I'm trying to commit the things that are making me so angry towards some people in our lives to the Lord. I'm trying to trust in his holy plan for our lives - for my husband's life - and I'm trying not to be angry. I know this situation doesn't please the Lord, but I also know my husband has done what he can do. It is now in God's hands. And God WILL act. Maybe not in the way we'd like, but he WILL act. And when he does, I know that everything will be ok, because I trust in Him.

Proverbs 22:10

"Kick out the troublemakers and things will quiet down; 
you need a break from bickering and griping!" 
Proverbs 22:10 (The Message)

And this, folks, is why I sometimes kick my kids outside for an hour or why I send them to walk the dog and tell them they can't turn around to come home until the alarm on the cell phone goes off. God really does know what he's talking about! LOL

Proverbs 22:6

"Point your kids in the right directions - 
when they're old they won't be lost." 
Proverbs 22:6 (The Message)

Yes, this verse is talking about training our children in the way of the Lord. But, does that look the same for each child? Nope. Every child is different and God has a specific purpose for them. One of our goals as parents is to figure out - with God's help - what purpose God has for our kids and then guide them and train them to follow His will for their lives. Not always an easy task when we have so many dreams and aspirations for our kids. Having dreams for our children is fine and dandy, but do OUR dreams follow GOD'S dreams?

Psalm 26:5-6, 8-9

"God's love is meteoric, his loyalty astronomic, his purpose titanic, 
his verdicts oceanic. Yet in his largeness nothing gets lost; 
not a man, not a mouse, slips through the cracks." 
Psalm 36:5-6 (The Message)

and because I like both vers
ions, I'm going to put the NLT version here as well... (I couldn't decide which one I liked best. LOL)

"Your unfailing love, O Lord, is as vast as the heavens; 
your faithfulness reaches beyond the clouds. Your righteousness 
is like the mighty mountains, your justice like the ocean depths. 
You care for people and animals alike, O Lord. How precious is 
your unfailing love, O God! All humanity finds shelter in the shadow 
of your wings. You feed them from the abundance of your own house, 
letting them drink from your river of delights. For you are the 
fountain of life, the light by which we see." (added verses 8-9 
because I just like this version so much!)

We can't even begin to comprehend how much God loves us!

Numbers 14:18

"God, slow to get angry and huge in loyal love, forgiving iniquity
and rebellion and sin; Still, never just whitewashing sin. 
But extending the fallout of parents' sins to children into 
the third, even the fourth generation." 
Numbers 14:18 (The Message)

The 2nd part of this verse used to cause me so much angst. How can children be held accountable for their parents' sin?! What kind of a God would do that?! Then, I realized how true this is. Think about it - generational sins DO happen. I mean, how many children from abusive homes grow up to become abusive parents themselves? No, not every single one, but very, very many do. How many children from alcoholic families grow up to become alcoholics? A lot. How many children who have thieves or murderers for parents grow up to become thieves and murderers?

THAT is generational sin, folks. However, just because we may come from families with these issues, doesn't mean we are doomed to a life of addiction and crime. God's forgiveness, grace and mercy can set us free. If you're a Christian who has things like these in your past - ask the Lord to set you free from those past sins of your family. He can and He will do so!

My dad is a recovering alcoholic. He has been sober for over 30 yrs. He's also a former smoker (something else that very often gets passed down from generation to generation). My dad is also a Christian who has sought forgiveness for his past and received it. I firmly believe that because of this, I have been set free from the possibility of being an alcoholic. Does this mean I should go out and drink as much as I want? No way! But, I can have a glass of wine and not NEED more.

I am also a former smoker, who tried again and again to stop smoking. It wasn't until I was pregnant with my son that I was finally able to break free from that - and that was because I prayed and begged God to make me get horribly sick if I ever smoked again. I tried it again after he was born and got horribly sick. God set me free! Why? Because I asked his forgiveness. 
God's love is extravagant and he is a loyal God.

Matthew 27:54

Upon Jesus' death on the cross, the Temple curtain was torn in two, there was an earthquake and dead believers rose up from the ground, coming back to life. 

"The captain of the guard and those with him, when they saw 
the earthquake and everything else that was happening, were 
scared to death. They said, 'This has to be the Son of God!'" 
Matthew 27:54 (The Message)

No more words are needed.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Matthew 27:1-10

It's amazing to me how blind the high priests were not to see that Jesus was the Savior they had been waiting for. So many things that happened to him had been written about in scripture. (Matthew 27:1-10 is just one of many examples of this) The Message paraphrase ends this passage by saying, 

"And so they unwittingly followed the divine instructions to the letter." 
Matthew 27:10b (The Message)

Oh, that I won't be as blind as they were!

Proverbs 21:12, 23

"A God-loyal person will see right through the wicked 
and undo the evil they've planned." 
Proverbs 21:12 (The Message)

Sometimes people don't actually PLAN evil, they just do things without thinking about how their actions will affect the people in their lives. It's still ends up being evil and it still ends up bringing great pain to people. 

As a wife, I have the opportunity to undo the hurt that has been brought upon my husband. I'm not sure how to do this, but I do know that God will guide me. And I also know that God's got this and He knows best. 

I also know that God will help me - 
"Watch my words and hold my tongue" (Proverbs 21:23)  

because doing this will save me a whole lot of grief. (But, I obviously have a lot to learn in this area since I'm having a hard time holding my tongue right now by even posting this one.)

Matthew 26:39

"...He fell on his face, praying, 'My Father, if there is any way, 
get me out of this. But please, not what I want. You, what 
do YOU want?'" Matthew 26:39 (The Message)

In Matthew 26 Jesus goes to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray. It is while he is there that we see that Jesus is suffering because he knew he was about to die a violent and horrible death. I believe he was feeling raw fear here. This just proves to me that Jesus knew all our emotions and he knew fear quite well. 

Why was he afraid when he knew what the final outcome was going to be? Because he was here as the SON of God. At this point, he was human and despite having the ability to make all his suffering stop, he continued on because he knew it was God's will and he knew that his suffering would cause all who believe in him to have life eternal with God in Heaven. 

Why do "I" get afraid when I know what the final outcome is for my life? Because "I" am human and I don't have the ability to make it all stop. But, I believe in a powerful God who will give me the strength to face whatever I need to face in this life. 

Now to remember this the next time I'm faced with with a situation that brings me fear...

Proverbs 20:2-3, 7

"Quick-tempered leaders are like mad dogs - cross them 
and they bite your head off. It's a mark of good character 
to avert quarrels, but fools love to pick fights." 
Proverbs 20:2-3 (The Message)

Yup... tonight, I was a quick-tempered leader. Please Lord... help me have better character and not be so quick to react to my kids' misbehavior!

"God-loyal people, living honest lives, 
make it much easier for their children." 
Proverbs 20:7 (The Message)

Yup... if I had been putting God first tonight, I would have made it much easier on my kids. But, because I wasn't patient, I missed an opportunity to parent with grace. Thank God for HIS perfect grace which covers my sins - and for a humble heart that can seek forgiveness from my family!

Psalm 34:17-18

"Is anyone crying for help? God is listening, ready to rescue you.
If your heart is broken, you'll find God right there; if you're
kicked in the gut, he'll help you catch your breath."
Psalm 34:17-18 (The Message)
Really needed this tonight. It was a rough day for me physically and emotionally. My heart felt broken and I felt as if I had been kicked in the gut, but God - through the help of a dear friend and a wonderful just-listening husband - did help me catch my breath. I'm so blessed!

Proverbs 19:13-14

"A parent is worn to a frazzle by a stupid child; 
a nagging spouse is a leaky faucet." 
Proverbs 19:13 (The Message)

"House and land are handed down from parents, 
but a congenial spouse comes straight from God." 
Proverbs 19:14 (The Message)

Yup - there is nothing more wearing than a brilliant child who tries to act like they don't have a brain! LOL And Lord... forgive me for nagging my spouse so much tonight! He IS a gift straight from you - may I never forget that!

Proverbs 19:8

"Grow a wise heart - you'll do yourself a favor; 
keep a clear head - you'll find a good life." 
Proverbs 19:8 (The Message)

This is what I want. A wise heart.

Proverbs 19:2

"People ruin their lives by their own stupidity, 
so why does God always get blamed?" 
Proverbs 19:2 (The Message)

So many people - myself included - blame God when we try to live life our way and it flops. Many of those people don't even claim to believe in God, yet HE gets the blame when things go wrong. I was guilty of this in the past during times when I questioned my faith. If things were going ok in my life, it was because "I" was in control. But, when things got difficult... oh my! Was I gettin' on God's case for it! 

Funny how we humans are so quick to blame God for the bad stuff, but not "blame" him for the good stuff...

Psalm 33:20-22

"We're depending on God; he's everything we need. 
What's more, our hearts brim with joy since we've taken 
for our own his holy name. Love us, God, with all you've got - 
that's what we're depending on." 
Psalm 33:20-22 (The Message)

God IS everything I need. I have many... too many... wants, but all that I need is in Him. My body can fail me. My friends can fail me. My family can fail me. If I have God, I can get through any of it.

Psalm 33:12

"Blessed is the country with GOD for God;
blessed are the people he's put in his will."
Psalm 33:12 (The Message)
I really wish our great country would get back on track with this verse. We're not going to be blessed for much longer if we keep going the way we are. :-(

Matthew 25:35-40

"I was hungry and you fed me,
I was thirsty and you gave me a drink,
I was homeless and you gave me a room,
I was shivering and you gave me clothes,
I was sick and you stopped to visit,
I was in prison and you came to me...

Then the King will say, 'I'm telling the solemn truth: 

Whenever you did one of these to someone overlooked 
or ignored, that was me - you did it to me." 
Matthew 25:35-40 (The Message) 

Nothing else needs to be said.

Matthew 25:1-13

The story of the 10 Virgins in Matthew 25:1-13 reminds me to be ready for Christ. It is one I wish one of my kids would get. You don't want to live your life by your own strength and say, "I'll just accept Jesus when I'm older. For now, I want to have fun." It just might be too late because once Jesus comes again.. that's it. 

If you're the praying kind, please pray that ALL my kids accept Jesus without delay. I can't force it. I can't MAKE them believe. I can only teach and lead by example and hope the Holy Spirit brings a conviction into their hearts that they need him NOW, not just later. But, man - I sure do wish we could just force them to believe - it would be a lot easier on the parent's hearts! Alas... just as God doesn't force us - he didn't make us to be his puppets, he wants us to WANT to have him in our lives... I guess I have to give my children the same respect and let them make up their minds about it all. These are the times where I feel powerless as a parent. Thank God, HE is in control and His Spirit can work in ways that my mouth cannot. :-)

I am praying for you as well. If you're not a follower of Christ, please accept him today. Don't wait. He loves you and wants to be in relationship with you. It is as easy as praying this:

Dear God,
I admit that I am a sinner in need of a Savior. I have tried 
living my life my way but I now know that I need You to guide 
me. Please forgive me of my sins [if you'd like to, list some here]. 
I want the freedom that a life with Christ can bring me. I believe 
that Jesus died on the cross for my sins. I believe he rose again. 
I want to live with him in eternity. Thank you for forgiving me. 
Thank you for sending your Son, Jesus Christ, for me. 
In His name I pray. Amen. 

If you just prayed this prayer, please leave me a comment. I would love to pray for you as you begin your journey with the Lord. I encourage you to contact a local Christian church in your area. You can also read this article at Focus on the Family for more information as to what to do next. You may also contact them and they can help you as you begin your walk with God. I encourage you to get yourself a Bible and start to read it. The Book of Romans or the Book of Mark are great places to start. If you don't have the money for a Bible, please contact The Gideons and I'm sure they would love to give you a free Bible. (This is the group who provides Bibles in hotel rooms.) May the Lord bless you as you begin your new life with Him! 

Proverbs 18:10, 19, 24

"God's name is a place of protection - 
good people can run there and be safe." 
Proverbs 18:10 (The Message)

Just saying the name of God in my mind can calm my spirit and ease any anxiety.

"Words kill, words give life; they're either poison 
or fruit - you choose." 
Proverbs 18:19 (The Message)

Something I really have to watch is my tongue. It is definitely a powerful tool of the spirit that can wreak so much havoc or bring so much joy!

"Friends come and friends go, but a true friend 
sticks by you like family." 
Proverbs 18:24 (The Message) 

I am so blessed to have so many TRUE friends! Friends who are as close as sisters to me in so many ways! (Brothers too!)

Psalm 32:1-5, 11

"Count yourself lucky, how happy you must be - you get a fresh start, 
your slate's wiped clean. Count yourself lucky - God holds nothing 
against you and you're holding nothing back from him. When I kept 
it all inside, my bones turned to powder, my words became daylong 
groans. The pressure never let up; all the juices of life dried up. 
Then I let it all out; I said, 'I'll make a clean breast of my 
failures to God.' Suddenly the pressure was gone - my guilt dissolved, 
my sin disappeared... Celebrate God. Sing together - everyone! 
All you honest hearts, raise the roof!" 
Psalm 32:1-5; 11 (The Message)

When we don't confess - not only our sins, but also our thoughts & feelings to God, we can become bitter and that's what I was becoming a few years ago. An angry, bitter woman who couldn't even look at my Bible, let alone sit happily through church. When I finally confessed how I was feeling - the ANGER I was feeling towards God (I mean, he already KNEW what I was feeling! Why not just TELL him myself?) the dam broke. The weight on my shoulders was lifted and all the guilt I was carrying for feeling the way I did dissolved. And I was able to sing again. :-) Thank you, Jesus!

Leviticus 26:11-12

"I'll be your God; you'll be my people. I am God, 
your personal God who rescued you...
I ripped off the harness of your slavery so that you 
can move about freely."
Leviticus 26:11-12 (The Message)
God was to be our PERSONAL God. Not just some 'off-in-the-distance' God, but a God who KNOWS us. A God whom WE can know. He is our rescuer. He is the one who allows us to be free. So many people think Christians are slaves to God. That we don't have any fun or we don't have any freedom, but the opposite is true. It is BECAUSE of Christ that I am set free! It is IN Christ that I can live as a free woman! I am no longer a slave to my sin. Yes, I still sin on a daily basis - but I have forgiveness for my sins, which makes me more free than I've ever been! Thanks be to God!

Matthew 27:30a

"The arrival of the Son of Man isn't something you go to see. He 
comes like swift lightning TO YOU! [emphasis mine] Whenever you 
see crowds gathering, think of carrion vultures circling, moving in, 
hovering over a rotting carcass. You can be quite sure it's not the 
living Son of Man pulling in those crowds... It will fill the skies - no 
one will miss it..." 
Matthew 24:27-30a

Discussing the 2nd coming of Christ Jesus warns about false prophets. There have been religious leaders down through the generations who claim to know when Christ is coming again. People sell all they have or panic. People say where he is going to be or what day he is going to arrive. But, the Bible tells us we don't have to go looking for him. He is going to come to us - we won't have to go looking for him. We'll see him with our own eyes...

Matthew 23:11b

This verse says what my heart is trying to say... "If you're content 
to simply be yourself, your life will count for plenty." 
Matthew 23:11b (The Message)

This. This is what I'm trying to do here. Just simply be myself and allow others to see WHO I really am.

Proverbs 17:22

"A cheerful disposition is good for your health;
gloom and doom leave you bone-tired."
Proverbs 17:22 (The Message)
Trying to get my kids to understand this one. Particularly my eldest son, who seems to latch on the negativity all too easily. I think this is the next verse I'm going to write on their bathroom mirror...

Proverbs 16:6

"Guilt is banished through love and truth; 
Fear-of-God deflects evil." 
Proverbs 16:6 (The Message)

This reminds me of something someone very dear has had to tell me over and over again: "You cannot parent out of guilt. Use your guilt to convict you, seek forgiveness and then change, if change is needed. But, forgive yourself or it will only get worse." 

I think this can be said for any relationship that we have with anyone. Let go of guilt. It gets us nowhere. This doesn't mean we shouldn't feel CONVICTION. Conviction motivates us to make it right and change. Guilt just keeps us stuck in the same behaviors. If we believe the Evil One, we will stay stuck in that guilt-thinking of "I can't change." or "I'm a horrible mother." or "I stink at marriage." But, if we believe the Truth and if we accept the Love that God has for us... well, then we KNOW we are set free from guilt! Just admit your wrongdoing and then ask God to help you. :-)

Psalm 30:2-3,5

"God, my God, I yelled for help and you put me together. 
God, you pulled me out of the grave, 
gave me another chance at life when 
I was down-and-out." 
Psalm 30:2-3 (The Message)

I like that this paraphrase uses the phrase "yelled for help". When we are knee-deep in the muck of this life, we don't necessarily speak quietly. At least I know I don't! I've yelled at God. I poured my heart out to God. In fact, I screamed at God. And you know what? I'm still alive to tell about it. God is a big enough God to handle my anger, my fear, my frustration, my grief. And he's big enough to handle yours. Cry out to Him. He WILL hear you and He will help you. He WILL give you another chance at life.

Another verse I love from this Psalm is verse 5:  
"The nights of crying your eyes out give way to days of laughter."

This has definitely happened to me. My days are now filled with laughter. I love to be silly with the kids and they love to break out in unable-to-stop laughter with me. There is nothing like laughing so hard you cry with your kids. Nothing. :-) Ok.. so maybe laughing so hard your kids wet their pants... ;-)

Psalm 30:11-12

"You did it: you changed wild lament into whirling dance;
You ripped off my black mourning band and decked me with wildflowers.
I'm about to burst with song; I can't keep quiet about you.
God, my God, I can't thank you enough."
Psalm 30:11-12 (The Message)
God did do this for me. I was deep in the grips of grief and mourning and he rescued me from that. He didn't do it immediately; it took a couple years, but he did it nonetheless! My mourning has turned to dancing and I can no longer keep quiet about what he has done for me. I truly cannot thank God enough!

Matthew 20:1-16

A twist on the Parable of the Vineyard Workers found in Matthew 20:1-16 (I'm not going to write it all out today). 

This parable talks about the last workers to be hired at the end of the day getting paid the same amount as the workers who were hired at the beginning of the day. Something clicked as I was reading this. What if this isn't just a parable about the last being first and the first being last? What if it's also God telling people that even if they accept Christ later in their lives - or even on their deathbeds, that they WILL have just as good a place in heaven as those who accepted Christ as children/teens/young adults? It could be a message to people that even in your old age, you can come to have a relationship with Christ. That there's a place for you in Heaven even if you waited until last minute.

Hmmm... makes me wonder...

I just looked up the passage in Matthew in my husband's Life Application Bible and in the notes it talks about this same thing. And it appears I was right - that this passage IS about people who accept Christ later in life. I love when I have my eyes opened about something in the Word! :-)

If you're not a follower of Christ, please accept him today. Don't wait. He loves you and wants to be in relationship with you. It is as easy as praying this:

Dear God,
I admit that I am a sinner in need of a Savior. I have tried 
living my life my way but I now know that I need You to guide 
me. Please forgive me of my sins [if you'd like to, list some here]. 
I want the freedom that a life with Christ can bring me. I believe 
that Jesus died on the cross for my sins. I believe he rose again. 
I want to live with him in eternity. Thank you for forgiving me. 
Thank you for sending your Son, Jesus Christ, for me. 
In His name I pray. Amen.

If you just prayed this prayer, please leave me a comment. I would love to pray for you as you begin your journey with the Lord. I encourage you to contact a local Christian church in your area. You can also read this article at Focus on the Family for more information as to what to do next. You may also contact them and they can help you as you begin your walk with God. I encourage you to get yourself a Bible and start to read it. The Book of Romans or the Book of Mark are great places to start. If you don't have the money for a Bible, please contact The Gideons and I'm sure they would love to give you a free Bible. (This is the group who provides Bibles in hotel rooms.) May the Lord bless you as you begin your new life with Him!

Proverbs 15 (select verses)

"A gentle response defuses anger, but a sharp 
tongue kindles a temper-fire." 
Proverbs 15:1 (The Message)

"Kind words heal and help; 
cutting words wound and main." 
Proverbs 15:4 (The Message)

"Hot tempers start fights; a calm, 
cool spirit keeps the peace." 
Proverbs 15:18 (The Message)

I'm learning this with my teen daughter. If I REACT to her reactions, oh boy - can a battle of wills be fought! But, if I RESPOND gently to her reactions, it cuts back on her negative responses as well. Sometimes it stinks to have to be the more mature one... LOL