Because Every Moment Matters (Whether it is Documented in Pictures or Not)

*This blog was originally posted in 2017 on Beautiful in Your Heart.

When my oldest daughter was born, my camera became my new best friend. I captured every facial expression, every outfit, every event, every everything. Not only did I capture them, but I printed each and every picture and placed them in carefully labeled picture books by week and month. So the first five years of her life are basically documented to the day. You want to know what she was doing in year 2 month 5? No problem! I can break out the albums any time.

When my son came along, it became harder to keep up. But I managed to keep documenting both of their lives up until he was 26 months old. That’s right…I was still “mommy” enough to count by months at that point. But then I realized that our house would be overrun by photo albums if I didn’t figure out a better system of keeping up with my sweet babies.

So I turned to blogging. I posted cute pictures of cute kids with cute descriptions of all their happenings. And a few years into that hobby, I found that you could print your blog. My blog wasn’t quite as detailed as the photo albums, but it was still divided up by month with all of the major highlights. So I have each year from 2008-2015 printed in book form.

But in 2014, baby number 3 came along. And all hope of keeping up with month by month detailed descriptions of their lives went out the window. I did backtrack enough to put 2015 together, but then the magic stopped. Thankfully, I post a lot of major things and pictures on Facebook. And what do you know? Now you can print your Facebook posts. So…2016 and 2017 should be arriving in the mail any day now. I am officially caught up. For now. (Update: ’18 and ’19 have yet to be printed…)

Today as I sat anticipating my new books’ arrival, I got a little sad. It hurt my heart to think how my baby girl’s facial expressions and outfits and events have not been captured with the same care and attention that my oldest daughter’s were. A collection of Facebook posts can hardly compare to every printed picture organized by week and month in sweet photo albums. I was lamenting the fact that I had let my youngest down. But then the Lord reminded me of something:

He hasn’t missed anything. And He has seen what matters most.

Every moment hasn’t been captured on camera, but He has been with me every second of every minute of every day. He has seen the silly giggles and funny faces. He has seen the tears and muffled cries. He has seen the nights of rocking babies to sleep while singing praise songs to Him. He has seen the cooking and the cleaning and the dirty diapers. Oh, the dirty diapers!

He has seen the birthday parties and July 4th fireworks and Christmas mornings. He has seen the bedtime prayers and kind words spoken between us.. He has seen the frustration and the angry words as well. He has seen the time trying to memorize Bible verses and the time singing good ol’ country songs. He has seen us dancing in the kitchen and the many minutes sitting in time out. He has seen it all.

And it has all been for His glory as every moment has been recorded by Him.

“So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.” 1 Corinthians 15:58 NLT

In this world of mommy comparison and social media, it is easy to become convinced that every moment needs to be recorded, shared, and posted for all to see. Almost like if it isn’t, then it didn’t happen.

But that is a lie. 

Nothing we do for our husbands or children or work or friends or even strangers, is ever useless or unnoticed, if it is done for the Lord. He is the only audience we need. He is the only one who matters. And He is the only one who can take our inadequacy, our failures, and the moments when we just don’t feel like we’re enough, and grow us into something beautiful.

Our children may not see every moment of their lives. But the One who matters most does.

When we plant seeds for Him by showing love and kindness and gentleness and patience, He is right there. When we water what we’ve planted by teaching them scripture and telling them about a Savior who loves them with an amazing love, He’s still right there.

But we need to remember this:

“So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.” 1 Corinthians 3:7 NIV

We can be the best moms in the world. We can plan amazing birthday parties to celebrate life and involve our kids in cool mission projects and teach them respect and manners. We can show them responsibility by making them do chores and empathy by letting them in on other’s lives that are not just like them. We can help them with school work and sports and piano and any other list of things. We can even keep amazing picture books for them.

But in the end, God is the only One who makes things grow from the seeds we plant.

So I am challenged tonight not to worry so much about how many pictures I take or albums I keep. Because in the end, they are just pictures. Providing them with moments to love and learn and grow in the Lord is what matters most. And He will use them for His glory.

When my littlest grows up, I imagine she won’t be asking what she did in year 2 month 5 of her life. And she’ll probably be glad she doesn’t have as many picture albums to keep up with! But I do expect her to reminisce about the times we laughed together and cried together and grew in the Lord together. And those are things that can’t be lost just because they weren’t printed in a picture book. They will be saved in our hearts and minds. They will be seen by a good, good Father. And they matter.

So fellow mamas, keep living and loving and laughing and crying and just BEING. Be strong and IMMOVABLE in the Lord. Live ENTHUSIASTICALLY for Him. PLANT seeds and WATER them. Nothing you are doing is useless. No moment too insignificant for the Lord.

Snap a picture…or don’t. But keep your focus on the One who matters most. He loves you and your babies so very much.

 

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How to Battle for Brothers and Sisters in Christ-One Relationship at a Time

Y’all, in the past few months, weeks, and days, the Lord has been making it so clear that now, more than ever, as Christ followers, we have got to stand for and with each other. Satan is attacking on every front from the public arena to the privacy of our own homes. These are battles that can’t just be fought on a mass scale, but are going to require us to get out of our comfort zones and become courageous fighters for and with the people closest to us in personal relationships that will have a domino effect for God’s people:

In 2 Samuel 10: 9-12 and 15, David sent Joab to fight the Ammonites (who brought in reinforcements to fight with them) and this is what happened:

When Joab saw that he would have to fight on both the front and the rear, he chose some of Israel’s elite troops and placed them under his personal command to fight the Arameans in the fields. He left the rest of the army under the command of his brother Abishai, who was to attack the Ammonites. “If the Arameans are too strong for me, then come over and help me,” Joab told his brother. “And if the Ammonites are too strong for you, I will come and help you. Be courageous! Let us fight bravely for our people and the cities of our God. May the Lord’s will be done.”… The Arameans now realized that they were no match for Israel.” NLT (italics mine)

There are four things the Lord shared from this passage that we need to think about as we go to battle with our brothers and sisters in Christ:

1. The Enemy comes at us from every side, so we must have a plan of attack.

When Joab saw that he would have to fight on both the front and the rear…” (2 Sam.10:9)

Joab knew that he had to assess and evaluate the war situation he was walking into before he got there. He realized that he had to strategically place his men and himself for victory…battling evil is not something that can be taken lightly. He found that he would face adversaries in the front and the rear, so he called in reinforcements himself. We must follow his example in preparing wholeheartedly for struggles ahead and prayerfully consider the who, what, when, where, why, and how of claiming victory.

2.We need to share the responsibility of battle with our brothers.

“He left the rest of the army under the command of his brother Abishai…” (2 Sam.10:10)

You may say, “Well, I don’t have a brother in my family.” But this is a calling to recognize our brothers and sisters in Christ as allies and allow them to use their gifts, abilities, and the power of prayer to help us when we are struggling and vice versa. It might be a family member, a friend, a colleague, or even an acquaintance who you know loves the Lord and will battle beside you when you recognize that you can’t battle alone.

3.We need to keep an eye on one another so that if the battle becomes too strong, we can come to the other’s aid.

If the Arameans are too strong for me, then come over and help me,” Joab told his brother.And if the Ammonites are too strong for you, I will come and help you.” (2 Sam.10:11)

So this is huge. Not only should our brothers and sisters in Christ battle beside us and us with them, but we should keep watch over one another so that we can be ready to join in fighting with and for them when they need us. It most likely will not be literal fighting, but becoming prayer warriors, speaking truth to each other, fasting and standing in the gap for those who need us by using our voices and actions. Claiming victory in Jesus’ name and just being present to “weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice.” To become a community of believers who will call each other up and express our struggles. Then as one prays for another and that one for another and that one for another, these small victories will push us on to greater victories together.

4.Be confident that when God’s people stand together in His name, the enemy is no match.

“Be courageous! Let us fight bravely for our people and the cities of our God. May the Lord’s will be done…The Arameans now realized that they were no match for Israel.” (2 Sam.10:12, 15)

There is power in standing together in the name of the Lord, y’all! We have got to bind fear, rebuke complacency, and claim Truth to each other and those around us, believing that we WILL see a victory in Jesus’ name. We must choose to live courageous and fight for the Lord’s will. No matter what battles you, your friends, or our nation are facing, we can face them and fight them together!

Y’all, this life is not going to get any easier. Jesus told us that in this world we would have trouble…but we don’t have to fear because He has overcome it. And we don’t! But sometimes, when your eyes and ears and heart and mind are bombarded with things that bring sadness, frustration, anger, and confusion (all tactics of the enemy), it can be hard to accept Truth.

I know the Truth. I study the Truth. I tell other people the Truth. But sometimes, I need someone to tell it to me out loud and remind me that I am in a battle that has already been won! A battle that I know the ending to. And that the things of this world are temporary. I need to hear that God is good and just and faithful and will never leave me. I need to hear a sister in Christ praying out loud for me because there is power in the name of Jesus spoken for all to hear!

If you need someone to pray for you, I would consider it an honor. Please don’t fight your battles alone. And don’t let those close to you. We are all one in Christ Jesus. Let’s show that to the world, one relationship at a time.

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New Article Links

These are more article links from other websites since April. Hope they are a blessing:

Believing We Are Right…But Still Being So Very Wrong

https://www.crosswalk.com/devotionals/your-daily-prayer/your-daily-prayer-may-23.html

https://www.crosswalk.com/devotionals/your-daily-prayer/your-daily-prayer-june-2.html

https://www.crosswalk.com/devotionals/ibelieve-truth-a-devotional-for-women/ibelieve-truth-a-devotional-for-women-may-19.html

https://www.ibelieve.com/devotionals/ibelieve-truth-a-devotional-for-women/ibelieve-truth-a-devotional-for-women-june-9.html

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What is the Lord Asking You to Do? Speak Out, Speak Up, or Both?

A few weeks ago, I posted an article on my personal Facebook page about Ben Carson, reflecting on the death of George Floyd, because I respect him so much. An African-American friend and brother posed this question in my comments section:

“So have you spoken out on the social injustices that have occurred? The article states you are a part of the problem or the solution. What have you done to be part of the solution?”

His question was sincere, and I answered that I am praying about what the Lord would have me do and gave a number of actions I am taking or have taken in my own life to hopefully be a part of the solution to the racial dissension in our world right now, but the Lord laid something else on my heart as I prayed about his question.

I felt like the Lord told me, “Maggie, it’s not for all to speak out – some may only be supposed to speak upward.”

Words in themselves are meaningless. It’s the power and the truth and the wisdom and the prayer and the guidance and the discernment and the heart of the person behind the words that matter.

For Christians who are seeking the Lord, silence is not always consent. Silence may show thoughtful obedience to making sure that when words are spoken, they are spoken from the right person-to the right person-in the right place-at the right time-with the right motives.

We carry a huge responsibility with our words. Each time I write an article, I read and reread and read it again while also having my mom or close friends read to make sure that my heart and God’s purpose in the writing is clear… that there is nothing hurtful or off-base scripturally, because in everything I do, I strive to be a representative of Jesus.

Proverbs 18:21 says “the tongue has the power of life and death.” And our words, spoken or typed, cannot be erased or taken back once they have left our hearts.

Words inevitably mean more when they are spoken to someone you have a relationship with – when people know your heart. Sometimes, words in person may be advised instead of posts on social media.

And sometimes, our words are only to be directed upward to the Lord. The power of prayer cannot be denied. And for some, that may be all the Lord is asking them to do.

So for all of us whose hearts have been broken by the racial dissension in our country, I pray we would seek the Lord’s will in the if and when and where and how anything should be spoken out publicly.

“When she speaks, her words are wise, and she gives instructions with kindness.”
Proverbs 31:26

There is “A time to be quiet and a time to speak.” Ecclesiastes 3:7

Let’s not be too quick to judge or make assumptions about those who are not speaking out publicly, or those who are, because only the Lord knows their hearts and His purposes for them.

But may we ALL speak upward, crying out to God for repentance, healing, and restoration in our land.

Other tongue verses:
Proverbs 15:1,4,28
Proverbs 21:23

*This photograph was taken by Game Changer Photography at the Unity Prayer Event hosted by Backpack International recently during our prayer time.

**Let me be clear that the purpose of this writing is not to suggest we should do nothing…but we should prayerfully consider our words and actions and timing before moving forward.

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Looking Beyond What We Can See With Our Eyes: 3 Ways to See a Heart

This article originally appeared on Blogs by Christian Women Nov.30, 2018, but I felt it was relevant today. This is the longing of my heart for all of us:

HOW TO SEE THE HEART OF OTHERS

This post may contain affiliate links. Read the full disclosure here

Since my children were born, there has been a list of things I have prayed for them.

To be protected.

To know how special they are and how very much they are loved.

To find good friends who will stand by them.

To have their hearts and minds guarded from the things of this world.

To speak life into others. And to do the right thing, even when it’s hard.

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But most of all, after coming to know Jesus as their Savior, I have prayed that they would see people the way the Lord does and love them as He would. The longing of my heart is that they would look not at the outside, but at the inside, and see that beautiful hearts are what count most.

A God Idea

In October 2016, the Lord placed it on my heart to share this message with others through a children’s book called Bumper.  Now here we are two years later, and this little story has become a reality! Based on 1 Samuel 16:7, which says that “man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart,” Bumper, a frog, and his best friend Hazel, a toad, set out to show others that there is more to friendship than meets the eye.

In a world where outer beauty rules, it is easy to make quick judgments about others simply by how they look.

Fancy car, fancy house, brand new clothes, and a nanny in tow: she must be a spoiled, uptight snob. Old beat up car, mobile home, 5-year-old clothes, and a line of dirty children in tow: she must be lazy and beneath me. Different skin color, different economic status, different language…we make assumptions every day.

And y’all, if that is the model we give our children, what will they do?

They will do what we do. And the divisions in our schools and towns will continue to get worse. But ladies, if we choose to take the time to look past the exterior, we might just find the blessing of a friendship we might have otherwise missed. And we have the amazing privilege of teaching a new generation to follow our lead.

I have had the joy of sharing Bumper with different groups of children recently, and when I ask them to look at the heart of the person next to them…they look at me like I might just be a little off my rocker!

Because really, how do you look at a heart???

The Bible shares in numerous places that the Lord looks at our heart, examines our heart and is greater than our hearts. And I believe He gives us three ways that we can “see” a heart and help our children to also:

1. We listen to the words people speak.   

Luke 6:45 says that “A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart.”

Do you hear kind words being spoken? Words that uplift and encourage? Or words that belittle and tear down in gossip? The things and people we listen to, watch, and spend time with will infiltrate our hearts. There is no doubt that the things we see and hear will be stored, waiting to come out at the first opportunity. And the words of others give us an open window into their own hearts. Don’t just listen, but truly hear what people are saying.

2. We watch the things they do. 

When asked in Mark 12:30-31 what the greatest commandments were, Jesus said to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.”

How do you see people spend their time and money? Is it all on themselves? Do they give to others generously, expecting nothing in return? Or do they want to gain recognition and praise for their actions? Do they interact with “people of low position” (Rom.12:16) or are they conceited? Do they treat others as they want to be treated? Don’t just watch, but truly see what people are doing.

3. We wait to see how they respond when they mess up.

Oh, y’all. We listen to the words and we watch the actions, but nobody has it together all the time. We are all sinners in need of a Savior, and we will mess up! We will say something we shouldn’t. We will do something we shouldn’t. But the question is…what will we do to make it right? Don’t stop listening and watching right away. Wait to see what happens…

“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” Psalm 51:10

Will the person apologize and ask for forgiveness? Will they correct the wrong? Or will they keep on with life with no regret? You will see the heart. You will.

One of the age-old songs reads, “Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight, Jesus loves the little children of the world…” and we should too. Look past the things of this world y’all…it is very temporary. Put your eyes on the things of eternity and help others to do the same. Be kind. Love others. And create a circle of friends that would make jaws drop! We are all so much more than meets the eye…

How You Can Help

I am so thankful the Lord has opened the door for me to share Him and His heart for others through this sweet story. If you have a group of moms, school, or other organization who want to help others see the heart as well, I would love to share more! You can email me at maggiecooper25@gmail.com or message me on Facebook.

Get Your Copy of Bumper

ORDER ON AMAZONGet the family history of how Bumper came to be here.

May we all choose to see that beautiful hearts are what counts most!

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Color Should Just Be an Adjective: Praying to See Others as Jesus Sees and Teaching our Children to Do the Same

The past few weeks have taken a toll on my heart. Starting with the death of Ahmaud Arbery and now George Floyd and all that has happened since then. It’s painful to watch the news and see the destruction that is taking place in cities across our country. Hate bringing more hate. Destruction bringing more destruction. And I can’t imagine how it grieves God’s heart to see His people in this place.

Three years ago, I wrote this blog, and I wanted to share again. But with some revisions. At the time, I said, “Color is just an adjective.” But in reality, I should have said, “Color should just be an adjective.” I think it’s very clear that today, it has still not come to fruition. I still believe the change we want to see can come in our children’s generation, but what I didn’t state enough in this piece was that it MUST start with us. And that requires all of us to do some real soul-searching through fervent prayer. For the hidden to be revealed. For us to face our own depravity. And for Truth to win. This is not a battle against flesh and blood, but against the Enemy to us all who wants nothing more than to divide and destroy. I am praying and will continue teaching my children to love and see people like Jesus the best I can. 

I hope this will be an encouragement, my sweet friends:

When my son was four, he came home from Pre-K one day and asked, “Mama, what color am I?” I asked what he thought, and he said, “Well, Derek is dark brown and Josh is light brown and Bo is really white…and I guess I’m kinda pink?” I told him that looked right to me! Why was he asking? Because he wasn’t sure what crayon to use in his self-portrait. 

Today I asked my 5th grade daughter to describe herself. She said she has long brown hair, is smart, likes to tumble, and is responsible. I asked her to describe another good friend in her class. She said she has pierced ears, is smart, always wears cute earrings, and is sweet. That particular friend happens to be black. But you didn’t know that, did you?

That’s because skin color is not the first attribute my children think about. 
Color is just an adjective to them. Like tall, short, old, young, kind, or mean. 
It does not define who a person is. 

My heart hurts when I see the news. It hurts when I see others choosing death over life, in their words and actions. It hurts to think of my children growing up in a world that puts the most importance on outward appearance and not the heart. But how can we change it?

Deuteronomy 6:4-9 says:
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates.”

Our children’s hearts are the key to changing the culture. The culture of hate. The culture of comparison and prejudice. The culture of never enough. The culture of “I want.” The culture of “I deserve this.” The culture of “It’s someone else’s fault.” The culture of selfishness and pride that exists in all of us. But our hearts must be right first.

Talk about the Lord and why He came. Talk about His love for everyone.  Talk about His forgiveness for all who call on His name. Talk about obedience to Him. Talk about the sinner that you are and the amazing grace that saved you. And tell them that in Christ we are all one! 

Then walk the walk that you’ve been talking.

Invite friends of other races over to play. Have conversations with your black friends about how you can help them. Make an effort to understand others points of view and really listen. Speak up and do the right thing, even if it’s hard. And make your actions match your words.

Matthew 22:36-40 says:
“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

The Lord has given us the amazing responsibility of teaching our children to love God and love others. Not just white others. Not just black others. Not just the ones like us. All others. And in order to do that, we must honestly look at our own hearts. 

Many times our children get it right before we do. Watch your children. Listen to them. And learn from them as well. (Matt.18:3)

Describe people by who they are on the inside.
Believe the best about them.
Truly try to see them as the Lord sees them. 
And shine His light with your love.
His saving grace defines all of us.

Color should just be an adjective.

But the LORD said to Samuel, “Don’t judge by his appearance or height…The LORD doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”1 Samuel 16:7
Dear Jesus,
We need you so desperately. Draw us closer to you as we seek your face. Help us to love others like you do and teach our children to do the same. Give us ears to hear and eyes to see like you would. Fill our hearts with a longing to have more of you and less of ourselves. Give us courage to truly look at our own hearts and the prejudices that may have taken root. Then help us speak and act boldly as representatives for you to help bring healing to our communities.
In Your Mighty Name,
Amen
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Encouragement for Walking Through Hard Times

Y’all, these past few weeks have been tough as I’ve asked the Lord to help guide me on a number of issues. For family, friends, kids, work, quarantine wisdom. To help me shine a light and for all to see, by the way I am loving and kind and patient. And I can honestly tell you…that I’ve failed miserably on a number of occasions. My stubbornness and frustrations and anger have gotten the best of me at times. But it doesn’t mean the Lord has left me in those places.

Thankfully, he is merciful and gracious and has given me sweet reminders of how to walk through hard weeks, hard days, and even hard minutes.

Psalm 37 is where He has taken me, and I want to share with you these four things He continues to remind me of, in hopes that they will encourage you too:

1.”Day by day the Lord takes care of the innocent…” Psalm 37:18

According to Mirriam-Webster, “day by day” means in small amounts every day. I don’t know about you, but I sometimes want God to just give me a big whopping helping of whatever He’s got for me: peace, joy, patience, goodness, etc. I just want Him to pour it over me so much that I’m drenched and good to go for awhile. But that’s not how He works, y’all. Day. by. Day. In small amounts, He gives us our daily provision. What we need for those 24 hours. It can seem frustrating, but the truth is that if He didn’t, we would not see our need for Him or feel it necessary to call on Him as often. Trust Him and pray for Him to meet your needs…for each day alone.

2.”The Lord directs the steps of the Godly. He delights in every detail of their lives.” Psalm 37:23

I remember having a fever blister many years ago and praying for the Lord to please make it go away before I had to take pictures for something. I had a friend who laughed at my request, but y’all, I don’t doubt that God understood how much that little detail meant to me. I don’t think He ever looks down on our earnest requests and thinks we don’t matter. He delights…in every detail. And as we talk to Him about the concerns of our hearts, little or big, I believe He listens intently and helps direct our steps down His path for our good. It doesn’t mean He always answers like we want Him to, or when we want Him to. But these verses are written reminders of the actions we have seen Him take and can trust that He will do again.

3.”Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand.” Psalm 37:24

Oh, y’all, I have made so many mistakes in my life. And a large amount in the past two months for sure. From a worldly standpoint, my kids have had way too much screen time, way too much junk food, and have seen their mama react, rather than respond, on one or two occasions. Being confined with those I love most can be a recipe for disaster waiting to happen. I’m not afraid to show my true feelings. I let my guard down and my frustrations can be directed at those I love most. But when I have stumbled, when I have fallen away from being the woman the Lord wants me to be, He has always picked me back up. He has given me a number of  “sacred echoes,” or reminders, of Him holding my hand, over the past few weeks, and I continue to reach out for Him over and over. We are going to make mistakes, some big and some little, but don’t stop reaching out and allowing the Lord to hold your hand through hard times. He won’t let go. (Ps.73:23, Is.41:13)

4.”Put your hope in the Lord. Travel steadily along His path.” Psalm 37:34

Steadily: in a controlled or unwavering manner. This one is hard for me. It is so easy to want to jump ahead and see what’s up the road…or fall behind because of fear or anxiety over what’s to come. But the truth is that we are always traveling, y’all. Down our path or His. One or the other. And when I look to see which road I’m on, it usually is dependent on where my hope is. If I’ve gotten frustrated or tired of waiting on the Lord to come through, it’s amazing how that inner need for control can come out, and sometimes unknowingly, my hope shifts to being in myself. In my own skills or desires. But generally, if this happens, I find myself at a dead end or stuck with a flat tire on the side of the road, pretty quickly. When I’m on His road, though I may not be moving at the pace I’d like, I have no fear or concern for my safety. I see His light and His “footprints” ahead of me as needs are met and doors are opened. But it is as I take each step, one by one, following His, that this happens. Don’t waver in the hope you have in the Lord, y’all. He will guide us, steadily along, in His time.

Our God is a good God. He can be trusted. And He will continue to be with us, y’all.

Day by day. In every detail. Holding our hands. As we travel steadily with our hope in Him.

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For Those Who Wonder if God Will Be Faithful…To Them

A couple of weeks ago, I shared with a sweet girl’s bible study group about the word “faithfulness.” We talked about faithfulness as a Fruit of the Spirit and what that looks like in our own lives. We talked about God’s faithfulness to His people, and we talked about faithfulness as a quality we would look for in friends.

Now let me say, I believe every word I shared with those girls wholeheartedly. I find joy in telling others about the amazing gift of God’s faithfulness to Joseph and Ruth and so many other heroes of the Bible. I have no problem sharing how God will be faithful to them in their own lives. But can I be honest? In the past few weeks it has been hard, and there may have been days I have started to wonder if God would be faithful to me, personally, in spite of what I know to be Truth.

It doesn’t make sense, does it? That I could tell others over and over that God will take care of them, stay by their side, love them, provide for them, protect them, and bring them comfort and peace. Yet still feel uncertain in my own heart for myself?

But here’s why it does. Because Satan, the ultimate liar and deceiver is alive and well. He knows our weaknesses and would love nothing more than to silence those who know the Lord and are willing to share His goodness. The little doubts, the little whispers that tell us we’re not enough, that we have failed, that we are insignificant, and that our hearts don’t matter as much as others are straight up lies, my sweet friends. And I rebuke them in Jesus’ name. For all of us. For you. And for me.

When those times come, the only thing left to do, the thing we MUST do, is remind ourselves of Truth. So, here are the three things I shared with those sweet girls (that we should all remember) when we doubt God’s faithfulness in your own lives. Post them. Claim them. Memorize them. And share them with someone else who may need your encouragement as well:

1.God has been faithful in the past, and He will be in the future.

Faithfulness is defined as “true to one’s word” or “consistent with trust.” My definition is “when you can believe someone is going to do what they say they’re going to do.” And y’all, God lives up to these definitions. Time and time again, in the Bible, in my friend’s lives, and in my own life, I have seen God be faithful. It wasn’t always in my timing. Or in the way I would have chosen. But He has never abandoned or forsaken me or those I love. And because I have seen His goodness in the past and believe His Word…I am assured it will continue in the future.

“Understand, therefore, that the LORD your God is indeed God. He is the faithful God who keeps his covenant for a thousand generations and lavishes his unfailing love on those who love him and obey his commands.” Deut.7:9

“God will do this, for he is faithful to do what he says…” 1 Cor.1:9

“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.” Hebrews 10:23

2. Actions speak louder than words, and our God is a God of action.

Y’all, we can trust that God’s words are true because He is God. But if you need even more confirmation of God’s faithfulness, just look to what He does. I don’t know that there is any passage in the Bible that doesn’t include some sort of verb-action word-to describe the Lord at work. Next time you read, try to underline/highlight the action words for assurance that the Lord is not absently standing by, but is actively working in your life. In Psalm 23 alone, it says “He leads, renews strength, guides, protects, comforts, and prepares the way.” I challenge you to make lists of all the action words you find in relation to what the Lord is doing in your life, even when you can’t see it, and pray for Him to make those things real to you.

“For the word of the LORD is right and true; he is faithful in all he does.” Psalm 33:4

“But Jesus replied, “My Father is always working, and so am I.” John 5:17

3. The faithlessness of people does not affect the faithfulness of God.

Oh, y’all. This one is hard because so many of us relate what we know about people to what we think we know about God. But let me tell you this. People will disappoint you. People will hurt you. People will be unfaithful to their word. Because people are imperfect and sinful. But God is not people.

The actions and words of “mere mortals” on this Earth should not and cannot be compared to the actions and words of Almighty God. For all of those who hurt…whose pain and uncertainty has turned to fear of ever trusting anyone again…including God, please give Him a chance to heal your broken hearts.

Read His word, ask Him to come near, and remember that when others are faithless…He will always be faithful.

“What if some were unfaithful? Does their faithlessness nullify the faithfulness of God? Certainly not!…” Romans 3:3-4

“God is not a man, so he does not lie. He is not human, so he does not change his mind. Has he ever spoken and failed to act? Has he ever promised and not carried it through?” Numbers 23:19

 

My sweet friends, when life is uncertain like it is right now, we may wonder if God will be faithful. Not necessarily to the world at large or our state or our church because it’s usually easier to speak boldly in general terms. But we may wonder if He will be faithful to us, individually.

In our own little homes, in our own little corner of the world, where we feel unseen and very small in the grand scheme of things. But I tell you now, don’t fear. Don’t turn away. And don’t doubt how very loved you are. He will be faithful…to you.

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Maggie’s Article Links from Other Websites

Hey guys! These are some of the articles I have had published in the last few months! I hope they are a blessing.

Following Jesus in 2020: Is It Worth It?:

https://www.ibelieve.com/devotionals/ibelieve-truth-a-devotional-for-women/ibelieve-truth-a-devotional-for-women-january-7.html

Is God Trying to Stir Your Heart?:

https://www.crosswalk.com/devotionals/ibelieve-truth-a-devotional-for-women/ibelieve-truth-a-devotional-for-women-january-23.html

3 Ways to Be A Peacemaker:

https://www.crosswalk.com/devotionals/ibelieve-truth-a-devotional-for-women/ibelieve-truth-a-devotional-for-women-february-11.html

The ‘Rite’ Person:

https://www.crosswalk.com/devotionals/ibelieve-truth-a-devotional-for-women/ibelieve-truth-a-devotional-for-women-february-19.html

The Most Powerful Choice:

https://blogsbychristianwomen.com/the-most-powerful-choice/?fbclid=IwAR3bygtJ7dvEBToybXqv_KINK6JdcQZ1iQ9qtvrImnh_6H3q5gXvk5tVJ30

When Our Children Face Rejection and Failure:

https://www.ibelieve.com/devotionals/ibelieve-truth-a-devotional-for-women/ibelieve-truth-a-devotional-for-women-march-20.html

What to Do When You Feel Depleted:

https://www.crosswalk.com/devotionals/ibelieve-truth-a-devotional-for-women/ibelieve-truth-a-devotional-for-women-march-24.html

Dear Mama, I Have Seen that Look Before:

https://www.crosswalk.com/devotionals/ibelieve-truth-a-devotional-for-women/ibelieve-truth-a-devotional-for-women-march-31.html

Is God Really Big Enough?:

https://www.crosswalk.com/devotionals/ibelieve-truth-a-devotional-for-women/ibelieve-truth-a-devotional-for-women-april-7.html

For Those in the Waiting:

https://www.crosswalk.com/devotionals/ibelieve-truth-a-devotional-for-women/ibelieve-truth-a-devotional-for-women-april-14.html

Hope For Every Generation:

https://connectingministries.org/hope-for-every-generation/?olink=%2Fnews%2F&otitle=Blog&otx=16%2C82%2C77%2C89

The Crooked Tree

When I was a little girl, there was a tree in the curve of the road that I looked for with wide eyes each time we went to see a friend of mine. It was a young pine tree, mixed in with others that were much larger, but it wasn’t just any old tree. Its’ trunk had grown in the shape of an S…and we lovingly referred to it as our “crooked tree.” I had not been able to find it in many years, but not long ago, my sister went for a run and sent me a picture…of our crooked tree, all grown up.

You see, I couldn’t locate it because I had been looking for it as I remembered it. But as the years have gone by, our tree has grown with a straightened trunk and now stands above the others around it. I didn’t recognize it and couldn’t help but wonder how the base of the trunk straightened itself out, so I decided to do some research.

As it turns out, I found this on a blog by CLC Tree Services:
“…sometimes a tree gets a little crooked, not because of people or natural disasters, but because it is searching for the best place to grow. It’s called phototropism and it is when a tree grows towards the light…”

And it hit me. That crooked tree is a lot like me, y’all. And maybe, a lot like you.

When we start to grow up, we are surrounded by the voices and opinions and invitations of others, many older than us, to do things that might not be best. We may take a crooked path as we make mistakes and try to find our way. But above us, and around us, without fail, is the Light, Jesus, who is always trying to draw us to Himself. If we continue to seek Him, even though we get turned around and twisted up along the way, we will find Him. Just like my crooked tree.

But here’s the coolest thing. The S shape is still there. Just because my tree straightened up eventually, the bends that had been made over the years did not go away. They remain as a reminder of the growth journey that tree has had.

So, if you are in a crooked place right now…don’t stop looking for Jesus. Don’t stop trying to grow! On this weekend, thousands of years ago, Jesus came for the crooked. For those trying to find their way. For those who have made mistakes…and need the Light to straighten them out. He didn’t die for nothing, and His sacrifice must not be forgotten. He died for you…and for me. For all of us who so desperately need a Savior to straighten us out.

If you are “straightened out” to some degree right now (please know, we will still make mistakes). Don’t forget where you’ve been. Don’t take for granted the One who forgives and saves you over and over again. And don’t keep His gift to yourself. Share what Jesus has done for you, and don’t be afraid to stand boldly above the others as you show them the Light of this world.

And for all of us, Lord please open our eyes to really see others around us. I didn’t recognize my old tree because I was looking for something that was still small and bent. But plants grow. People grow. And by the Lord’s grace and mercy, many of us get straightened out.

Love Jesus. Love others. Be thankful for the crooked places in your life, and use them to grow toward the Light.

Happy Easter season, y’all.
Jer.29:13, 2 Cor.4:7

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