Wednesday, May 18, 2016

I DO, I WILL, I PROMISE


Fouryears today since I stood holding your hands and the words, “i do, i will, i promise” spilling out of me with so much joy. I’m often hard headed and hell bent and yet you have learned when to get out of my way and when to stand firm. You bend me, gently enough, without ever leaving me broken. You are the sand that smooths my rough edges and the one who makes me feel like a cherished diamond. I shine in your love, Pete.





Thursday, March 3, 2016

YOU GET A NEW DEVIL







When I'm serving God with all my heart and spending more time in His Word than ever, why is it that instead of circumstances getting better, they got much harder? A friend of mine recently said, "I think when you go with God to a new level, you get a new devil."

Satan hates the radically obedient soul. He hates it when a person jumps off the fence of complacency and into the center of God’s will. A spiritual battle is raging around us and because of that, life can be hard. While saying yes to God does bring blessing, it’s not easy.

One of my favorite love stories in the Bible is that of Jacob and Rachel. Jacob’s love for Rachel gave him purpose and perspective, which led to amazing persistence. He served Rachel’s father for many years to earn the right to marry Rachel because he loved her that much: "So Jacob served seven years to get Rachel, but they seemed like only a few days to him because of his love for her" (Genesis 29:20, NIV).

Do you see what love can do for a person’s view of his circumstances? When you are crazy in love with someone, you’ll do anything for him — and do it with the highest level of sheer joy. I want to be so crazy in love with Jesus that not only do I serve Him, but I do it with absolute delight — even when life gets hard and messy.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

READY FOR GREATER?


I’ve been sick for days now. My motivation lately has come to a screeching halt. I’ve ignored everything and everyone the past few days.  I’ve also ignored phone calls, but that’s not new for me – I do that whether I’m writing or holding the phone in my hand.  It’s so bad that my mom has replaced her normal, “Hi, how are you?” with “Hi, thanks for answering!”  See, it’s not just you.  I ignore phone calls from my own mother.

I have not ignored eating.  That would be preposterous and ludacris (I actually like spelling ludicrous like the rapper–I feel like it gives me street cred with youngsters.  Although since I just said “youngsters,” I’ve lost all street cred.  It’s like one step forward and two steps back.) I digress.

One email I’ve tried to avoid was from one of my pastors (@bertsnyderiv) and his lovely wife, asking us to be a host home for our church’s outreach endeavor called “Greater.” Two sentences into the email, I pushed my chair away from my desk and walked away, telling myself "we don’t qualify! What is he thinking?!" The unfinished projects/remodeling makes it very clear where our priorities have not been. Our home is so very lived in that we practically have our guests sign a waiver, ensuring they 1) are nonjudgmental 2) possess no allergens to dog hair and 3) won’t file a lawsuit if injured by toys strewn amok.

I experience God’s faithfulness so clearly, all the time, and we are regularly called by the Spirit to extend ourselves more in community, yet I almost allowed a lapse of doubt and insecurity to paralyze me with fear all while questioning whether or not I have value to God and could He possibly use me?  Can He use me? There are so many others who seem better qualified to host. 

I’m learning this at a snail’s pace --> None can do the work He has prepared for me. And, none can do the work He’s prepared for you.

He has wired us uniquely, creativity, and passionately for the work He prepared for us (see Ephesians 2:10 if you don’t believe me).  He’s marked out a course for us, the goal is the same, but the beauty is in the unique journey.  Don’t let fear, insecurity, doubt, and comparison steal your resolve.  Be you!  Do the work! Remember His faithfulness.

I’m determined to cheer you on as you pursue the work He has made you for. (However, I probably won’t call.  Expect a text.)




Friday, January 8, 2016

LIFTING UP OTHERS

I have been thinking a lot lately about light. Like our cat, I find the light shining in through the windows and lounge there, to feel the warmth on my body. I imagine myself being outside when it's above these freezing temperatures we’re having, and being enveloped by the sun, feeling warm pavement. I want to go there and be there and dance around in that like Maria in the Sound Of Music (minus the terrible dress and being a nun).

In thinking about everyone being stuck inside because of the cold temps lately, and I imagine we're probably trolling the internet much more. At least I am on Pinterest a heck of a lot more than usual. Things just slow down in the cold.

I always come across this quote on Pinterest, “A candle never loses its light by lighting another candle.” It hits me every time I read that and lights up areas in my heart that have become hardened. It’s a constant reminder to me to encourage others and make lives brighter.
You don’t have to speak with the oratory of a William Jennings Bryan. Or write with cryptic language like Churchill. Much less speak with the power of Roosevelt, in which he used to sway an entire nation. The internet and the blogs and the Facebooks and Instagrams and Twitters gives us opportunity to do this in real life, with just a few words or a click of a button, so just look at it as a window into all of our hearts. But there are people stingy with ‘likes’ and @'s and mentions. Our lifting others up. “Because we're really important.” “Because our "like" isn't cheap.” “Because they may take my ‘like’ as a sign of my weakness.” “Because I am better than her.” “Because they are unworthy of my ‘like’.”

C’mon.

Turns out, according to the Bible, you're sheep.

You’re stingy with our comments because you think you’re super important. Or we don't comment because we are jealous of that person. “I'll show them by punishing them with my non comment! My non-‘like’!” 

I see this behavior, even among supposed Christian women, and I find it ridiculously hilarious.

I remember walking into a grocery store years and years ago with two small children. I probably looked like a normal whoever. But I had just lost my grandmother and my life was in turmoil and when the sliding doors opened and I saw all the people, I wondered if they could tell my life felt like it was falling apart. ‘If I can just buy a couple of groceries without crying...’ I thought to myself.

Did I need someone to ask me if I needed paper or plastic? No. I sure didn't. Because it. Doesn't. Matter.

What I needed in that moment was someone to push my cart out for me and say, God is with you, or you're doing a good job with your kids, or here’s $5, go to Starbucks over there and get you a cake pop. Heck, a sincere smile would be enough.

Truth is, that we're all trudging through this life doing the best we can, and we could do a better job at rallying around one another and lighting other candles that have been extinguished by hardship and suffering. We don't have to be stingy with our flames because, at the very base of your knowledge, you can rest knowing that you're not the judge. God is. You're not the sheriff. You're not the big deal on the internet. You are, however, dearly loved by God who cherishes you and gave you specific gifts, some different from others’. He made you to love those difficult to love and not lord over them with all your harsh opinions. Opinions! Say it again, ohhhh pinnnn yunnns.

Love is the command, people. Extending warmth, love in comments with kind words and likes and @'s and responses. They are the small yet bright sunny windows in the harsh winter we live in. They are light to those around them. These small gestures envelope people in love.

And as it turns out, God is love. 
And the Bible says that I might have so much faith that I could move mountains, but I am nothing if I do not have love.

Happy Friday and all that. Oh, and I blog more over at Instagram --> www.instagram.com/mandi411



Friday, October 23, 2015

INSTAGRAM | MANDI411


If you could see me right now, I’m sorta cowering down with my tail between my legs. I feel THAT BAD for letting my blog go neglected the past couple of months. I never EVER thought it would come to this. I always MADE time for writing before, so what gives?! Do I have time management issues. (Yes. Highly likely. Among other issues.)

Life ebbs and flows, I’ve discovered. Some seasons are slightly more full than others. And I do believe I’m in a very full season. This, however, doesn’t fly well with me. I’m a big fan of freedom, of wide-open spaces, of not being confined and imprisoned and stuck.

Otherwise, why did Jesus set us free? So we would be free. That’s basically it. He emancipated us from everything that imprisons because freedom is its own reward. To hear the Bible tell it, Christians should be the freest, most unstuck, unrestricted, liberated people breathing air.

(Also, to the dear teachers out there, thank you for the bazillion hours you invest in our kids, but we need to make a deal that after April testing, we assign no more projects and/or homework. K? K.)

The one and only social media outlet I appear to be most loyal to, is Instagram. There’s a bond between me and a camera, yes. And I guarantee you, it’s still me. It’s still my real life. It’s still the usual stuff moms deal with – kitchen sink overrun by dishes, toddler drawings on the wall, someone having a meltdown in Target.

So, please, come visit me on Instagram when you’re taking a break in your day. I will still be sharing much of the same as you experience here, with maybe fewer words and more hashtags.

XOXO



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