Working Unto The Lord by Bombi

I can still recall my tween-age days when my older sister, Rocky, and I would be in our room practicing for a duet “special” we would do on an upcoming Sunday morning service at church. Amy Grant, Sandi Patti, Crystal Lewis, the late 80’s and 90’s great contemporary Christian songs, how we loved their songs and we loved to sing their songs. As much as we loved the Lord and loved singing, we’d find ourselves clashing at some point. It never failed. Every single time some disagreement would arise regarding who was singing what line, or how we should do it. Then one of us would raise our voices or storm out, run and tell mom and dad that, “We don’t want to sing on Sunday anymore! She’s not listening to me. She’s not letting me sing the line I want to sing!”  I recall my parents’ reaction every single time. It went something like,  “Mijas (my little daughters), you aren’t singing for each other or other people, you are doing it unto the Lord. Go back and keep practicing. You’ll do great, it will be awesome.”

You know what? They were right. It was a blessing every time. God would use our songs to touch hearts and glorify Him. The immediate release and relief we felt after was so rewarding because we knew God heard us. Wow, good times!  You know I experience this process as a grown up to this day. I was just reminded of it when I felt like I “hit a wall” so to speak with my job. I raise money for an amazing organization. Essentially, I am the bridge between a donor and the field (which includes those who are in need of the basics of life). I pretty much get paid for praying with, talking to, and building relationships with people. Really, I get paid to be me.

The Bible says in Colossians 3:23-24, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”  Sometimes I don’t see eye to eye with my colleagues, superiors, and those I serve. The wall I hit leaves me silently angry and I want to run to mom and dad and say, “I don’t want to do it anymore. They aren’t listening to me. They’re not doing it my way!” My Heavenly Father gently reminds me of my parents’ encouragement, which really is encouragement straight from the word of God. So here I go back to my desk, back to the phone knowing full well that I don’t do this work just for a paycheck. I work as unto the Lord, and in Him I find my reward.

Do Not Grow Weary by Trish

Take just a moment and pause on this phrase. If something is to grow, it has to be covered and protected in an environment that nurtures what is necessary for it to become bigger than the seed itself. What are you covering that is causing you to grow weariness in your life? What seeds are being nurtured under the surface that is feeding the feeling of doubt and hopelessness? As women we can very easily cover the seed of disappointment, hurt, rejection, etc. and from the outside everything looks good but the Bible cautions us to not grow weary. Growth is an interesting facet of life. You can’t see it all too easily with the naked eye but it’s a process where every moment contributes to its increase. What are you trusting God for that seems as though you’re constantly getting the “red light” or a flashing neon sign that screams at you, “Not now”? It can be difficult to wait for a promise to be fulfilled but just like natural growth, the spirit of weariness can grow and develop without ever “seeing” it take place. You know how it goes, ladies. You stay busy with your work, your family, and your hobbies so you don’t have to think about those unfulfilled promises and if you’re not careful you’ll entertain thoughts of doubt and discouragement and within time it produces the fruit of weariness. Have you ever been so tired and fatigued that nothing made sense? Your vision was blurry and your words lacked meaning? When our spirits our weary, our vision is affected, we speak from our situation or how we feel versus the Word and there isn’t much that makes sense to us in those moments. So then, how can we guard ourselves from growing weary?

1) Protect your thought life; what you meditate on becomes your reality.

As a man THINKETH so is he (or she). Your thought life is like a GPS, whatever information you choose to input into the program determines the direction of your journey.

2) Be mindful of your company.

Ever heard the saying, “Misery loves company”? Some people find pleasure in wallowing in self- pity and apathy tends to be the greatest form of entertainment and excitement. Be cautious of this.  To bring balance to this, be mindful of those who are only “yes” people in your life but dare not caution you of the bigger picture. It is imperative to have those in your life that can encourage you and speak the truth in love so that there is a healthy balance. My mom had a friend who was excellent at this. Whenever my mom was facing a hardship her friend, who was also my godmother, would tell her, “Cry about it…go ahead…cry! Get it out of your system”. Then when she was done she would say, “Okay, we’re done now, what do we do to fix it and move on?” I love that! If you only cry and never move to a solution, you’ll exhaust not only yourself but also everyone around you. However if you NEVER cry and confront the hurt, or disappointment, you’ll grow weary from the weight and pressure building behind the scenes.

3) Watch that mouth!

There is creative power in our words. We have the ability to produce life or death by what we say. Guard your words and if it is not edifying, it is not worth wasting breath on. Not only do we need to be mindful of what we say but also mindful of what others speak over our life! Words create “worlds”. For example, if you continue to say you’re tired, the more you say it, the more tired you become. Confession is powerful!

4) Find your strength in Him.

In His presence there is FULNESS OF JOY (Psalm 16:11) and we know that we obtain our strength through the joy He provides! (Nehemiah 8:10) Be encouraged ladies, God is faithful to His promises! Write these power verses down and feed your faith and watch doubt, defeat and weariness die! Psalm 28:7 (Amplified Bible) “The Lord is my Strength and my [impenetrable] Shield; my heart trusts in, relies on, and confidently leans on Him, and I am helped; therefore my heart greatly rejoices, and with my song will I praise Him.” Psalm 84:11 (Amplified Bible) “For the Lord God is a Sun and Shield; the Lord bestows [present] grace and favor and [future] glory (honor, splendor, and heavenly bliss)! No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly.” Galatians 6:9 (Amplified Bible) “And let us not lose heart and grow weary and faint in acting nobly and doing right, for in due time and at the appointed season we shall reap, if we do not loosen and relax our courage and faint.”

Make Investments In Parenting by Sonya

I truly believe that raising a Godly family brings glory to God.  HE has entrusted us to take care of His children and family. We are to take this job seriously. I know there can be a lot of sacrifices in raising a family but it is definitely worth the investment.  As the Graber Family, we’ve made up five family values that we want to live by:

1.        Honor God with our words and actions.

2.        Love each other.

3.        Honor your parents.

4.        Forgive others.

5.        Always do your best.

We have these values framed to remind us what we stand for as a family and how important God is at the center.  Teaching them in God’s ways will sow seeds into your family and to the next generation and next. “Sow your seed in the morning, and at evening let not your hands be idle, for you do not know which will succeed, whether this or that.”  (Ecclesiastes 11:6)  There are expectations that we teach our children that help guide them into the future.  For our family we have taught our children first time obedience where they need to listen to us the first time and not waiting to count to three to finally do it.  We expect them to honor us by obeying right away when we ask them to do something.  This is also a form of respect so that when someone else in authority asks them to do something, they will respond in the same way.  Respect and honor is huge in our family and we expect them to treat their siblings in love and respect as well. Treating others, as we would want to be treated is a golden rule that we live by and loving God and others as stated in the greatest commandment, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind and love your neighbor as yourself.” These teachings take time and consistency as parents.  It is worth the investment to see your reward of respectful kids.  It is just not respect for people but for property as well.  We have taught our kids not to litter and to pick up someone else’s litter if we see it.  Also we expect them to leave things in order the same way it was when we arrived to a certain place. This could be at a restaurant, friend’s house, the pool, any place it is respectful to leave that place better than how we arrived.  These examples are just a few of our expectations that sow seeds into a Godly character.  Investing the time into parenting is priceless and you will see the reward as you raise up the next generation. Putting forth the hard work and effort towards your family is worth the investment. Don’t grow weary, as you will reap the harvest of Godly children, which is pleasing to God!

Live As If Drianna’s Watching by Kenika

 

I was born into a rather large family. My mother is the oldest of eleven, and my father is one of ten siblings.  In case you didn’t pay attention to the math that is 19 aunts and uncles.  In addition I have great aunts, great uncles, countless cousins, second cousins and so forth.  Surprisingly, with all of this family on both sides, I can only boast one niece.  Her name is Drianna and she was born to my brother, and his then girlfriend, when I was a preteen.  That was one of the happiest days of my life! I felt like I was getting the gift of my very own baby doll.  I absolutely loved dressing her up in her super cute outfits, and doing her hair complete with headbands and bows.  It was such a joy having this little person around, her father and mother never had to press hard for a babysitter as I was always willing.

Ever since she was born, I always had awareness that she was watching me (and my older sister).  Drianna is biracial, but at a very young age would get upset if we referred to her as anything but black like we are.  She has absolutely gorgeous, curly hair, but when she was about five or six years old, she would make statements like, “Auntie, I want my hair to be straight like yours.”  At one point, she took scissors to her head and (tragically as I see it) chopped off all of her beautiful hair.  I hope she’s not embarrassed by this story…too late. Today she is a well-adjusted, college student who is fully aware of who she is and where she comes from, but I have to think that our influence on her led her to pose those questions about identity.  As a middle school student, she was determined that she was going to go to college at Grand Valley State University, study abroad and then move to Florida one day.  My mother, her grandmother, would chuckle when she said this because she knew it was exactly what I had done.

Knowing that she is watching me has been a huge motivation in my own life. It has helped to shape my decisions, the way I conduct myself, and the example that I am attempting to lead by.  When I think of striving, I think of her.  In times when I’ve considered giving up, I think of her.  There have been moments recently when I didn’t want to fight for what I believe in, and all I could think was what would that show her if I gave up?  She’s the easiest girl in the world to love with her bubbly personality, and warm and caring heart.  I never ever want her to be disappointed in me in a way that could have been avoided.  Her eyes have always been watching me, in my book, and they always will. It is a humbling way to live life knowing that your decisions not only affect you, but those around you.  For some it’s your children, or other family members, or even friends.  I always want to live a life that she can be proud of, and if she desires, would be able to model herself after.