Altars of Remembrance

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“For your steadfast love is before my eyes, and I walk in your faithfulness.”
??Psalms? ?26:3
I have talked before about the story in Joshua chapter 4 where God instructs Joshua and the Israelites to build an altar of remembrance near the Jordan River where God had just stopped the waters so they could all cross into the Promised Land. God wanted this to serve as a reminder to them and generations to come of His faithfulness. We are called to do the same.

Where is your altar of remembrance where you can take someone to and tell them the story of God’s faithfulness in your life? I have so many and more that were added just this year.  I could take you to the doctor’s office where the specialist who had been seeing me for almost a year informed my husband and I that getting pregnant again was not in the cards, and he would recommend a hysterectomy for me to alleviate the long time problems we were still having after hemorrhaging 3 years prior.  We could visit the room where my husband and I had made the phone call to the agency that would begin our adoption process because we knew God had called us to step out in faith on this journey. The places where we have done fundraisers for our adoption would show you God’s faithfulness as we prepared for the costs of an adoption. The doctor’s office where we scheduled the hysterectomy and then a few weeks later came back to find out that we would not be having any surgery because we found out I was pregnant. Or I could even take you to the many specialists appointments where we never knew what to expect with our very unexpected pregnancy that eventually led us to the delivery room where our miracle baby girl was born.  All of these places could hold an altar for our family so that we could take you there to share our story of what God has done for us.

However, every January 1, I get to go back to one place where I get to remember God’s faithfulness for me and my family that was the beginning of this story. The first night of the new year we went back to Target to pray and remember that even through the darkest nights, His mercies are new every morning. I got to share the story with Caroline about how God took care of us and always will. I got to take baby Elsie in her car seat, just like Caroline was 4 years ago, and see how far God has brought our family since a life threatening scare. I got to hear my husband pray, thanking God for hard times so that we are able to share our story to point others to our God who is so much bigger than we are.
Is it easy to remember difficult times? No. Were tears shed? Yes. Do we lean more on our fears than our faith sometimes? Yes. But Brannon and I have reminded each other that we can’t let our fear overshadow our faith. Our prayer in this new year is the same as it has been the last 4 years: that God allows someone to see Him through us.
Thankful for the opportunity to point someone to Christ.

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Fight the Good Fight

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My sons are gamers. They have played video games since they were old enough to hold remotes in their little toddler hands. I have watched them over the last 20+ years beat game after game. If you were to ask one of them how they do that, they would tell you they begin with learning each move that will bring down the enemy. This method is full of trial and error. Some days they win, some days they lose. It is only by continuing in the fight, that they learn more about the enemies tactics and use the weapons they have been given to successfully defeat the enemy. Once they understand how to use the weapons they have been given, the battle is half over.

This life is no game. We don’t have lives reserved for another play, we don’t get any second chances to do this over. But, this is what we do have… God has given us all the weapons we need to defeat the enemy in Ephesians 6:10-18.

Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore,

having girded your waist with truth,
having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 

having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace;
above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.
And take the helmet of salvation,

the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God;
praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints. 

The enemy has come to steal, kill, and destroy. (John 10:10) But when God’s children know the weapons they have been given to successfully navigate the battle, we will be able to withstand the evil day, and stand. Just because we get an eye blacked or have a bloodied nose, this doesn’t mean we have been beaten. It means we continue to fight.

Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6

Fight the good fight!

 

 

 

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Make This Year Different

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It’s that time of year: We are bound and determined to make a change in our lives this year. We’ve chosen our New Year’s Resolutions or chosen our One Word.  We’ve joined the local gym, stocked our fridges with fruits and veggies, and filled our water jugs.  We sync our Fitbits as we sit down to go over the budget and make out next week’s meal plan. Yes! This year is going to be different. This is the year to get fit, get organized, eat healthy, and save money.

 

Yet, by February, most of us will have binged on chips and Netflix while skipping the gym to snuggle up when the temperatures fall below zero.  Many of us will have ditched that water bottle for a Cherry Vanilla Pepsi because, well, caffeine.  Oh, and let’s not forget about that great Vi Bella sale (you can never pass up a 70% off sale when you are buying great jewelry and providing jobs and an opportunity to know Christ to those living in impoverished countries). Yes, by February, most of us will have long forgotten those resolutions and words. Yep. There goes that lasting change we were aiming for.

Regardless of failing to keep our New Year’s Resolutions, we can still make a lasting change.  This year can still be different.

 

Recently, my husband asked the children during church, “How can these big people grow closer to God this next year?” Their responses: Pray. Give thanks.  Read their bibles. Listen.  Put their phones down.  Don’t sleep in church. Clearly out of the mouths of babes!  But you know what?  That lasting change we are looking for…..well, that’s how we get it.  We must grow in our relationship with Christ, grow closer to Him.  He created us for relationship, a relationship with Him and for all our relationships to be rooted in Him.

 

So, how do we get there?

 

Listen to what Paul says, “You, see, everything written in the days of old was recorded to give us instructions for living. We find encouragement through the Scriptures and a call to perseverance that will produce hopeful living.” Romans 15:4 The Voice

 

Everything we need is found in Scripture.  Scripture will change us.  Scripture will give us instructions for living, hopeful living.

 

Need encouragement? Read the Scriptures.

Need to persevere through difficulty?  Read the Scriptures.

Need wisdom?  Read the Scriptures.

Need hope?  Read the Scriptures.

 

As I read my morning devotional, I was reminded of the importance of not being driven by instinct and emotions.  I must be driven by the Spirit if I wish to succeed.  I encourage you, Sister, to seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit.  Whether you are making resolutions or choosing that one word to live by this year, make sure you are prayerfully seeking God’s will in those things.  Sure, it feels great to finally wear those jeans, but being healthy enough to serve Christ effectively is so much better. The way to live, to truly live is to live fully, wholy in the Lord.

 

My prayer for all of us this new year is this…..

Dear Lord,

You are awesome and holy. You are so good, merciful, and mighty. Lord, you love us much, and we are so undeserving.  But Lord, thank you.  Thank you for wanting to be near to us. Thank you for pursuing us. And Lord, I ask this of you: touch our hearts, Father. Send your Spirit to give us that gentle reminder that your plans are greater than ours and we should seek You and not our selfish desires. Please align our changing goals and attitudes to your steady and unfailing will.  Lord, please up us to be accepting of the path you have laid before us.  Amen.

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2018, Here We Come!

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As I write this post, it is the first morning of 2018. The Lord is here with me in my little writing nook. He is showing me the blessings of 2017 as I close out my Prayer Journal. My new 2018 Prayer Journal is filled with blank pages. They wait for my pen to fill them with prayer requests, answered prayers, Scriptures for daily living, and no doubt many tears.

I am praying for you today. Do you have a verse that stands out to you for 2018? Do you have a word of the year? My words of the year are strength and joy. My prayer is that I live stronger in Christ and live out the joy of my Salvation. Share with us what you’re looking forward to in 2018, what has the Lord laid on your hearts?

My Verse of the Year:

Ephesians 3:20-21 NKJV

“Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”

 

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Here’s to 2018!

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Happy New Year from your crosseyedliving blog team! We love encouraging you in your faith walk and look forward to more inspirational stories in 2018.

As we anticipate 2018, trusting Him with everything, we challenge you to embrace your God-given purpose even more fully this year.

Forgive and forget the old, Dear Heart. Set your minds on Jesus, the apostle and high priest whom we confess (Hebrews 3:1).  Shine ever brightly, sharing Him as you go.

“Father, thank You for the close of another year and the excitement of 2018 with YOU! Help us stay in step with Your Spirit. Cover our thoughts and help us be your Peace wherever we go. Help us to use your standards of measurent for living, pressing into You with all that we are and all that we have.”

Here’s to y(our) walk with Him, our Great God!

~Shelly

 

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Ask and Receive

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Now if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives to all generously and without criticizing, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in FAITH without doubting. For the doubter is like the surging sea, driven and tossed by the wind.” James 1:5-6, HCSB [emphasis added]

I have had people tell me they wish God would speak out loud to them like He did to the prophets in the Old Testament. Well, I tell you what, sometimes God’s Word jumps out at me so hard that it’s like He IS speaking out loud to me! But it’s only those times when I am really paying attention, listening to His still small voice, and really seeking Him that He reveals Himself to me. Something He sent me is James 1:5-6. This verse has just been jumping out and I know God is drawing me into a deeper relationship with Him. Whatever my doubt, fear, anxiety, stress, any wisdom that I lack, I can ask God and He will GENEROUSLY give me wisdom on the matter. He will encourage me. He will strengthen my faith. The more time I spend with Jesus, the more I love Him. I feel more joyous, at peace, in love with the One who calls me beloved! He calls us beloved!

Thank You Jesus for calling us beloved! For loving us so much that You came down and died so we can have this personal, REAL relationship with You! I am so thankful that in my time of need, You are right there drying every tear! I love You, Lord and I praise You for Your righteousness and holiness. In Your precious name I pray, Amen.

~Lauren Ray

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His Birthday…Our Gift

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The Birth of Jesus Foretold 

Luke 1:26-38

The Birth of Jesus

Luke 2: 1-7

The Gift of Jesus–Our Salvation

“Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord” (Luke 2:11).

“For to us a child is born. To us a son is given; and the government will be on his shoulders. His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6).

Have YOU unwrapped the most important Gift of ALL?

Let’s share this Gift throughout the year!

Happy Birthday, Jesus! Thank You for giving us You!

~Shelly

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The Little Drummer Boy

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“I have no gift to bring…that’s fit to give a King…Shall I play for you…on my drum?” ~The Little Drummer Boy, Katherine Kennicott Davis

How many times have you heard this quaint little song during the holiday season? You may even hum it to yourself every once in a while. It’s definitely a classic and one of my favorites. But it wasn’t until I really focused on the words of the song and how they apply to my daily walk with Christ, that I began to appreciate this song all the more.

The premise of the song is a little boy, who plays a drum, is at the birth of Christ. He doesn’t have a gift “fit to give a King”, but he has the ability to play his drum. We are just like this little drummer boy. We have nothing to offer the King of King and Lord of Lords. He only asks us to obey Him. Our obedience is our drum. The little drummer boy is then given permission to play his drum and he sings, “I played my drum for him…I played my BEST for him” [emphasis added]. When we obey Christ and we do our BEST for Him, it’s absolutely astounding what happens. “Then He smiled at me…me and my drum.” Christ smiles at us too. He says, “Well done, good and faithful servant!”

We have nothing to offer the Lord, but He asks us for our obedience. When we obey Him and we do our best for Him, He smiles at us and shows us how amazing He is. We are exactly like this little drummer boy. Obedience to Christ is the key. I hope the next time you hear this song you will hear it with a new perspective. Blessings and Merry Christmas!

~Lauren Ray

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The Journey

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The last 17 years of my journey with Christ has not been easy. I am a Mama to six, Mimi to three, working from home, and we are a homeschool family. It seems like I am always racing against the clock. Setting aside time daily to pray and study God’s Word is super hard but I have found that it is harder to NOT spend time with Him than it is to creatively find ways to carve out a few minutes a day.

My first few tries were tough. I would get the kids involved in an activity or down for a nap only to be interrupted. Most days were frustrating and I would give up feeling defeated. However, looking back.. what I didn’t realize is that even in the interruptions of life, nothing could keep me from talking to Him. I would pray as I changed diapers, sing praise and worship music while doing dishes, and in those short breaks I would quickly write down a verse from a Bible study or sermon on an index card and post it where I could read it in passing. There were those occasional nap times that gave me a few minutes to journal and pour my heart out to Him. Many of my 10 week Bible studies took me 20 weeks to complete.

Serving others during those early years was simply cultivating my relationships with other Mama’s. My profession was helping them breastfeed their babies. As I developed relationships with them,  I shared easy ways to connect with Christ while raising a family. It was how ministry began for me. Now, I am blogging and speaking to women about how they can live stronger in Christ.

I don’t know where you are in your journey. I don’t know what distractions or schedules you keep up with. But I do know that Jesus is totally worth the struggle. When you lean into Him during those extra moments to speak to Him or memorize a portion of Scripture, He sees your struggle and draws close. Enjoy the journey, you may find your ministry just like I did!

Enjoying the journey,

Shana

 

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Process Pattern of Prayer

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Sometimes your heart is heavy about “stuff.”  You may not be angry…disappointed…not even sad. (“Well, maybe I have been a tad sad at times.  Smile.”)  Your heart is simply processing.

I believe that Jesus processed too, but He thrived in the process because He remained obedient.  He was fully human AND fully God.  Yet, Jesus showed His followers how to rightly process and remain obedient too. (“I want to thrive in obedience, Father!”)

The Bible illustrates how Jesus processed through the pattern of prayer.  The why’s, how’s, when’s (if you will allow me the word), and the other pictures of Jesus’ prayerful, process pattern guide:

Luke 5:16 shares how He prayed often and alone. Sometimes, we simply need to steal away and pray in the process.

John 17:9 shares how He prayed for others. Pray for others in the process.

Luke 9:28 shares how He prayed with others. Share your heart with those who have shown themselves to be trustworthy to pray with you in the process.

Luke 6:12 shares how He prayed all night.  Sometimes an all-nighter in the process happens.

John 8:31-32 shares how He prayed with the knowledge of Truth.  Truth will set you free. Pray with the knowledge of God’s Word in your heart.

God’s Truth also confirms our prayers will not always be answered as we expect.  Jesus knew this Truth, stating, “not my will but thy will…” (Matthew 26:36-44).

Is your heart heavy, processing something right now?  Do you know someone in the processing moment?  What has been your response? What is your method of processing?

The greatest desire of my heart is to glorify God.  (“Oh God, let this remain my heart’s cry!”) Nevertheless, sometimes, a “girl” must process. Let’s remember the pattern of prayer in the process, thriving in the Lord through obedience to y(our) Father!

Here’s to y(our) spiritual health!

~Shelly

P.S.  add your own verses of how Jesus (God’s Son) processed to the glory of God (His Father) and follow His process pattern of prayer!

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