Thursday, March 30, 2017

Honor Thy Mother (& Mother-in-Law)

Hey Friend,

Have you ever read a segment of scripture that you've read hundreds of times thinking there's nothing new to glean?  I have, and that's exactly how I approached this scripture on the first miracle where Jesus turns water into wine at the wedding feast.

Will you take another look with me again and let me show you what I was hit with, squarely between the eyes, by the Holy Spirit?  Okay...let's read:

John 2:1-12Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)

The First Sign: Turning Water into Wine

On the third day a wedding took place in Cana of Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and His disciples were invited to the wedding as well. When the wine ran out, Jesus’ mother told Him, “They don’t have any wine.”
“What has this concern of yours to do with Me,[a] woman?” Jesus asked. “My hour[b] has not yet come.”
“Do whatever He tells you,” His mother told the servants.
Now six stone water jars had been set there for Jewish purification.Each contained 20 or 30 gallons.[c]
“Fill the jars with water,” Jesus told them. So they filled them to the brim. Then He said to them, “Now draw some out and take it to the chief servant.”[d] And they did........
11 Jesus performed this first sign[e] in Cana of Galilee. He displayed His glory, and His disciples believed in Him.
12 After this, He went down to Capernaum, together with His mother, His brothers, and His disciples, and they stayed there only a few days.
Take a look at what happens.  Jesus accompanies His mother and his brothers and his disciples to a wedding feast.  The, host, mortified and embarrassed, runs out of wine.
Jesus' mother told Him, "They don't have wine."
Jesus' replies,  "What has this concern of yours to do with Me, woman?...My hour has not yet come."
Maybe it's just me, but when I read those words I can envision a defiant toddler or even an insolent teenager.  Is Jesus questioning His mother here?  I'm not 100% sure, but here's the part that gets me - look what comes or doesn't come next.
1.  Mary does not get into a pleading contest with Jesus.
2.  Mary does not reason with Jesus as to why He needs to do something.
3.  Mary does not rebuke Jesus or chide Him.
No, she basically ignores His complaint. I'm no theological scholar, but Mary, the good Jewish mother, basically takes charge - as is a mother's right and honor to do - and she tells the servants, "Do whatever He tells you."  And, in essence, she tells her son...come on, let's get on with it.  Look what comes next??
1.  Jesus does not remind Mary He is the Alpha and the Omega.
2.  Jesus does not argue with His mother.
3.  Jesus does not flat out refuse her command....what does He do?
"Fill the jars with water, "  Jesus told them.....and He goes on to perform the miracle at His mother's direction.  He obeys.
Hmmmmm.......Jesus the Son of God, Creator of the Universe, the Lion and the Lamb, honored his mother.  Wow!
I think of all the times I've disagreed with my mother, muttered under my breath when told to do something, been rude or disrespectful.  Yet the Bible, in the Ten Commandments, specifically tells us to honor our parents.  
1.  Even if we know we're right.
2.  Even if their request is unreasonable.
3.  Even if we disagree or are angry or upset or hurt....honor.
Take this a step further.  What about Mother-in-laws.  Did I hit a sore point? How hard it is to honor a woman who didn't raise you?...perhaps one you feel conflicts with you with regard to your husband...perhaps one who meddles in your business?
My son is twenty-four and has a girlfriend.  There's a part of me that wants to say, "That's it, just step in here after all the hard work's been done and bat those long eyelashes of yours and capture his heart, attention, and affection.
Where were you when he was up puking all night, or when he wet the bed, or when he had to be rushed to the emergency room?"
I know my son will one day take a wife and because he loves her, I will love her too.  I hope that because I am his mother (and if it weren't for me he wouldn't be here) she will honor me as well.
So back to my can I better honor my mother AND my mother-in-law?  
I DO love them both dearly and I'm so thankful to have them.  But, when they have the nerve to be human and do something that gets on my nerves, what do I fall back on? 
1.  God's command to Honor thy mother and father (and look there's even a promise built in):

     Exodus 20:12Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)

12 Honor your father and your mother so that you may have a long life in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.

2.  Look back at the example of Jesus (WDJD) - What did Jesus do?

      I have no better way than to take my cues from Jesus. 
If there ever was someone who had the right to trump his mother's directing, it was Jesus.  But, Jesus chose to follow the example set before Him in the Ten Commandments given by His Father in Heaven so that those who follow them would prosper and have a long life.  
Is it hard for you to honor your mother?  Your mother-in-law?  Have you been hurt and struggle with honoring one who hurt you?  Is it hard to honor people who can be difficult?  or...How have you been blessed in obeying and honoring? How can you model this to your children?  
Dear Heavenly Father,
Thank you for the Ten Commandments you have given me - not to make my life harder or more difficult, but because you promise me that you will bless my obedience.  Help me to choose to follow your commands and to take my cues from the life of Jesus.  Grow me, mold me, teach me, Lord that I may be more like Him.  Thank you that Your Word is always alive and living.  Thank you for the new revelations you give me from these ancient teachings.  May Your name be glorified.  In Jesus name I pray, Amen.
Be blessed...
Ps.  Thank you to all my readers who have taken part in our "sCARves for a Cause"  campaign to get a reliable vehicle for our school in the Middle East. Check in on our website in the next week or so to see how this story ends.  On behalf of the Board of Redeemer Christian Foundation, Inc. 
I thank you from the bottom of my heart!!   Bev xo

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Let Me Turn Your NOT ENOUGH into MORE Than Enough - (Guest Post)

Hey Friend,

I am so pleased to introduce you to my friend, Jana Schmitt, who is guest posting here this week.  Texas born and bred, Jana lives and works in the small but growing town of Celina, TX, on the outskirts of Dallas.  She has been married almost 34 years to her best friend and partner in life, Darron.  She is mom to two grown children and grandmother to one sweet baby boy, who will soon celebrate his first birthday!

Jana went back to school in her forties to pursue a longstanding dream of becoming a licensed professional counselor and is now enjoying her "second calling" in life as a counselor in private practice.  She works primarily with adults struggling with depression, anxiety, life transition, and a host of other issues. You can check out more about her practice at

She is happiest when she is neck-deep in a creative project like remodeling a house, planting a garden, or hosting a gathering of some kind.  She believes we are called as followers of Jesus to leave a trail of restoration, repair, and beauty wherever we go. Her life is a work in progress as she seeks to live out this calling.  

Jana has been a source of inspiration and encouragement to me in my blogging and in my work with Redeemer Christian Foundation, Inc.  Jana, my friends, is the "real deal". Will you join me in welcoming her?

Let me turn your NOT ENOUGH into MORE than enough ~ 

These are the words I wrote in my journal this past Christmas as I sensed Jesus speaking them to me. I was feeling inspired by the story of the feeding of the 5,000 in Mark 6… “Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves.” We all know how the story plays out. They all ate and were satisfied and the disciples gathered twelve baskets full of leftovers! Jesus turned their not enough into more than enough.

But first He gave thanks.

Can you imagine the joy the people felt that day? The food just kept on coming! I want to experience that kind of joy every single day. Who doesn’t want to feel that deep joy the ancient Greeks referred to as “the good mood of the soul”? As a counselor, I hear stories of depression and anxiety and shame and loneliness. People want to feel the joy the Bible talks about and yet, honestly, it sometimes seems so elusive.

But what if there was a simple practice that we could insert into our daily lives that actually produced joy? What if joy is not so much a feeling that just happens to us randomly, but something we cultivate?

Two summers ago my husband and I were seeking respite from the Texas heat in the mountains of North Carolina. We took daily walks and breathed in the fresh pine and drank coffee on the porch and slowed down enough to feel the awe and wonder of God’s magnificent creation. I was reading The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown and her words about joy & gratitude were leaping off the pages at me.

Brene Brown is a research professor who studies things like shame and vulnerability and wholeheartedness. Through countless interviews, she began to discover a direct link between joy and gratitude. Without exception, she found that the people who described themselves as joyful were people who actively practiced gratitude. They kept gratitude journals or created gratitude art. They took time out of their busy schedules to reflect and give thanks. 

She discovered that the opposite of joy isn’t sadness; it’s fear. She calls it scarcity. It’s that fear of not having enough or doing enough or being enough. This is what keeps us from experiencing the joy we were created for. She puts it this way: 

“We think not being grateful and not feeling joy will make it hurt less (when we lose something we love). We think if we can beat vulnerability to the punch by imagining loss, we’ll suffer less. We’re wrong. There is one guarantee: If we’re not practicing gratitude and allowing ourselves to know joy, we are missing out on the two things that will actually sustain us during the inevitable hard times.”

Brene Brown’s words stirred something in me. Then a client told me that Ann Voskamp’s book, 1000 Gifts, had changed him and helped him find joy during the hardest year of his life. It’s a book about cultivating gratitude. This intrigued me. God was challenging me to go deeper.

Throughout this past holiday season I was asking God to give me a word for 2017. One word to be my focus as I moved into a new year. I kept hearing “gratitude…gratitude…gratitude”.

I decided to accept Ann Voskamp’s challenge to write down 1,000 gifts this year. She calls it “a dare to name all the ways that God loves me…the True Love Dare”.

I started naming the gifts each day, writing them in my journal in red.

#1) bright red berries in a winter landscape 

#2) friends staying in our guest bedroom 

#3) kisses from Cyrus (my grandbaby :) ) 

 #7) my new email penpal, Bev

What would happen if all of God’s people did this?

What if our first thoughts in the morning and our last thoughts before falling asleep, instead of thoughts of not enough, were whispered prayers of thanksgiving?

What if, instead of being on constant alert for facebook-worthy moments, we lived our lives on the lookout for gratitude-worthy moments?

I decided to begin looking at my life as a photographer looking for beauty. I began snapping photos, not to post on social media, but into my own “gratitude file” on my laptop that I will open at the end of 2017 and share with my family and we will remember and give thanks and re-experience the joy together. 

So here it is March already. Usually by this time I’m wondering where the year is going, my New Year’s Resolutions lost under a pile on my desk. But this one is different. This one requires very little time, no special talents or abilities, no money, and I can do it with or without cooperation from other people.  

It’s simply about being present. It’s about showing up for my life with eyes wide open in wonder. It’s about paying attention to the gifts God scatters all along the path. 

And what I’m finding… 

I’m finding that the practice of gratitude turns the mundane, every-day into something glorious. That life is a beautiful mystery to behold. 

I’m finding that I spend a lot less time worrying about not doing enough or being enough and that He truly is MORE than enough. 

I’m finding that practicing gratitude even in the midst of the hard stuff, the challenging, the painful – it lifts me and sets me on a higher plane where I don’t get so bogged down in the muck, where my vision is clearer because God always has the best vantage point and gratitude ushers me into His Presence like nothing else. 

#236) perfect starry nights 

#237) friends around the fire pit

#238) Mom’s chocolate cake 

#239) a thank you note from a client

I’m finding that He really does love us so much. We only need to open our eyes to see His gifts. They’re all around us.

 “So here I am in the place of worship, eyes open, drinking in your strength and glory. In your generous love I am really living at last!” Psalm 63:3 The Message


Be Blessed...and please, friends, leave some lovin' for Jana in the Comments....

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Try Harder, Try Harder, Try Harder

Hey Friend,

Have you ever had one of those weeks that you want to take a big, old, red sharpie and draw a line through it...crossing it off your mind and out of your life? Sure you have, and I just had one.

Not that we need to analyze every move we make, but I am trying to look back over this week and find out where and when it really took its detour south.  

It started out well after a weekend of refreshment, but not long into the week interruptions began piling up.  I am a task-oriented achiever and so for me unwelcome interruptions can be the kiss of death.  I'm not talking pleasant interruptions like a friend stopping by, but people (especially one) who can get under my skin like none other.

I had a big project I was working on and all of a sudden everyone was demanding a chunk of my time.  I was allowing them to force their agenda on me and I was beginning to resent it.  Part of my problem is that I allow people to do that because I am, at heart, a people pleaser.  Perhaps that's why I agreed, against my better judgment, to babysit my son's two year old lovable, but full of boundless energy, dog.

As I sat at my laptop, trying to get some work done, she'd bring over one mangled, drool encrusted, squeaky toy and plop it in my lap and then sit back and cock her head as if to say, "This one...will you throw this one?"  "Leesi, I'm busy, I'd grumble." 

So she'd go get another toy...the raccoon who was about to have a tailectomy. this it?  She'd sit smiling expectantly at me.  With each new toy she brought to me, I felt my blood pressure start to rise.  Why do I let people (and even pets) encroach on my precious time?  Don't they see I have a non-profit ministry to run?

"I"...."me"...that's usually where it begins.  I even tried reading my devotional and my Bible, but I found myself skimming the words.  Yeah, yeah, yeah...I know this. Finished, done.  Now I can get back to my work.  Just when I thought it couldn't get worse, the interruptions, trouble, frustration mounted day by day.  

My response?  Try harder, try harder, try harder.

If I just tried harder I could get accomplished what I had set to accomplish.  My husband will tell you that by Thursday I was a growling grizzly bear and then Friday I was finally reduced to tears in the Walgreen's parking lot because I realized I had failed miserably this week.  

After my cathartic cry, in the quiet, His words came to me...I cast my eyes unto the hills.  Where does my help come from?  My help comes from the Lord, maker of Heaven and earth (Psalm 121: 1-2).

Once again I had been spinning my wheels so desperately that all they did was sink farther down in the muck.  Try harder obviously wasn't the answer.  So what was?

Instead of pushing my foot down harder on the accelerator, what I actually needed to do was let my foot off the gas, get out of the car, and let God drive. I had been relying on MY driving skills when what I needed was to let Jesus take the wheel. (cue song) 

Today, I have been meditating on the rest of Psalm 121 that came to me in my crumpled pile of exhaustion. Will you read it with me??

Psalm 121

The Lord Our Protector

A song of ascents.

I lift my eyes toward the mountains.
Where will my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
He will not allow your foot to slip;
your Protector will not slumber.
Indeed, the Protector of Israel
does not slumber or sleep.
The Lord protects you;
the Lord is a shelter right by your side.[a]
The sun will not strike you by day
or the moon by night.
The Lord will protect you from all harm;
He will protect your life.
The Lord will protect your coming and going
both now and forever.

Fifteen of the Psalms are categorized as Songs of Ascent.  Many scholars believe that these psalms were sung by worshippers as they ascended the road to Jerusalem to attend the three Pilgrim festivals.  Perhaps that's why they are also called "Pilgrim Songs".

Instead of trying harder (this pilgrim that I am, wandering my way through life), I sure wish that I had pulled away and let quiet reign.  Nothing was really accomplished by my trying harder other than to build my mounting frustration.

When life gets frustrating, distraught, and despair filled, I need to pull myself away to His Word because in it is where I will find hope for what ails me.

This Psalm is filled with cheer, and comfort, and hope.  Read the number of times that the Lord offers protection.

He protects me night and day because He does not slumber. 

He protects me by being my shelter - my refuge from all the people and problems that assail me.

He protects my very life.  

He protects my coming and my going.

In short He protects me even when I don't realize He's protecting me.

All I see is what I see.  I don't see all the things God protects me from every day.  

Likewise, when I am caught up in the muck and mire of my problems, I lose sight of all the wonderful things that are good in my life - all the people and things that are gifts - all the love He pours out on me everyday.  

Gratitude, I'm learning is the antidote for grumbling!!!  Can I get an Amen? 

So how can I do this week differently?  If this week starts detouring south, I need to immediately lift my eyes unto the mountainous hills from whence my help comes from.

I need to take my foot OFF the accelerator and spend time in His quiet presence to hear what He would really say to my heart.

I need to offer prayers of thanksgiving - even in the midst of the unwelcome interruptions.  

I get interrupted from my work.  I have work that I love and is fulfilling.

My ex drives me crazy concerning issues with our kids.  I have two beautiful children because of him.

My son's dog comes whirling into my house for a day.  I have a house to live in and a place that people like to come to...not to mention a big back yard for running.  

My phone pings, and beeps and calls keep coming in.  On a global level, I am one of the wealthiest people on earth.  I can afford a cell phone and a laptop with an inbox that continually fills.

I get frustrated because I'm not accomplishing anything.  I am saved and eternally secure because of what Christ accomplished.  Thanks to Him it IS finished. 

Try, I think I'll try it HIS way next time... 

What are you spinning your wheels on?  What makes your day/week take a detour south?  What is God calling you to do to change your mode of operation? What truth is He speaking to your heart?

Dear Heavenly Father,  This week my heart has yearned for the quiet place, but I was trying harder, so much so, that I couldn't let go and just let myself go there....go to the place where Jesus holds me, the small, helpless lamb in His ever so strong arms, and gently carries me close to Himself where I can hear His heart of love beating for me.  Let this always be my safe place - my place of protection - where I am your beloved and where you delight in me.  When the world piles up - let me go, no run, to you and let you embrace and quiet me in your loving arms.  In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

Be blessed,

ps.  I invite you to join me at our Website for our "sCARves for a Cause" campaign going on right now.  Donations will not only help us to purchase a MUCH needed vehicle for the school, but donations of $75 or more will get you a beautifully handmade scarf by the impoverished women and widows who live near our school.  Come check this out:

Thank you.....

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Why My Heart Bleeds The Way It Does

Hey Friend,

A good friend of mine recently returned from a medical mission trip to Haiti - which is so needed.  Listening to her stories and seeing the sweet faces of the children, especially, that they were able to help brought tears to my eyes.  They were able to set up their clinic in a local church there.

She said that while they were there they ran into several other missionary groups.  One was a group of opthamologists who were there, most likely, to provide eye exams, provide glasses, and treat diseases/injuries of the eye.  

My daughter has served on mission trips to Kenya.  Again, they were able to love on the children in an orphanage and helped to build a well and reservoir for clean drinking water.  One of the highlights of my daughter's trip was worshiping with the people there and sharing their love of Jesus together.

On one hand I was so encouraged that people like my friend and my daughter are called to help out in these countries, but at the same time I felt a deep sadness for my poor orphaned and destitute children in Pakistan that we serve through Redeemer Christian Foundation, Inc.  

There are no missionaries that go to Pakistan...only martyrs.

The last time a western mission group tried to go into Pakistan and offer a medical clinic, they were bombed and killed by extremists that didn't want any Western/Christian influence (even though the mission group was there vaccinating children against diseases like polio that still run rampant).  It truly breaks my heart.  

Perhaps that's why I have such a passion for Pakistan - because they are the "unreachables".  Any Christian ministry groups that have tried to survive there have been run out.  All that is left is less than 1% of the Pakistani population that is Christian to bring the Good News to the destitute people of that country.
For the beautiful Pakistani Christians who, literally, risk their lives every day to bring the good news of Jesus, offer humanitarian aid like food and shelter, provide medical assistance, and oh so importantly - offer education to these impoverished children who cannot afford to go to school, I feel called to come alongside and go where few dare to go.

They are rescuing children who otherwise are made to be slaves or are caught up in sex trafficking...the horrors are endless. These children live everyday wondering if they will lose their lives or their friends in the continual extremist bombings.  70% of the women in Pakistan have not completed a primary or grade school level of education....there really is little hope. 

For these reasons and many more, I just have to help out.  I cannot leave them to be forgotten and persecuted.  

That is why with the help of selfless Christian Pakistani servants of the Lord, we have started Redeemer Christian Foundation, Inc. We not only provide a Christian education, but food, shelter, medical and humanitarian aid to those who have nothing.  We give them the love of Jesus Christ and the hope of a future.  

Specifically, right now, we have a great need for a CAR for our school.  Can you imagine running a Christian school, smack dab in the enemy's back yard, without a reliable form of transportation?
Here are some reasons we need a vehicle:

*Transport school supplies, equipment, and Bibles.
*Transport groceries to the school for daily meals.
Transport 25 pairs of jeans and 30 sweater dresses so that the children will have a Christmas gift.
*Transport supplies and food so that they can provide humanitarian aid to the poverty stricken near the school.
*Be able to provide Christmas and Easter programs to celebrate Jesus.
*Transport sick children to the doctor.
* Safely pick up money wires to run the school.


sCARves for a Cause
Car Campaign

A good used car will cost us $6,000.  We can do this!  A passionate donor to RCF, Inc. has purchased scarves handmade by needy women and widows who live near our school.  

For every donation of $75. or more, we will see that you receive a beautiful scarf from a Pakistani woman in need.  

Your ENTIRE donation will go toward purchasing the Car and is tax deductible.  The scarf is a gift to you for caring enough to help.
Can we count you in??

 Donations of any size are always welcomed.  But wouldn't you like to be able to wear a uniquely beautiful scarf knowing it's helping not only the children at our school but also the women trying to provide for their families?

Two ways to give:
send a check to:
RCF, Inc.
103 Silver Lining Lane
Cary, NC  27513

or visit our website and donate online:

and....even better:

The first $1,000. donated will be matched with a gift of $1,000 from Jana S. (dedicated RCF, Inc. contributor and me - I believe in putting my money where my mouth is).  So dollar for dollar your gift will be matched and doubled. * Scarf eligibility is based on an original gift of $75. and not the doubled amount. Please allow 4-6 weeks for delivery.

This is why my heart bleeds the way it does...please let these children know that they are not forgotten...

Pure and undefiled religion before our God and Father is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself unstained by the world.  (James 1:27)

Be blessed...

ps.  To my blogging friends...would you be willing to share this or the RCF, Inc. website link on your blog?  Or provide a link on your blog to this post, asking your readers to consider this wonderful (and fashionable) opportunity to share the love of Jesus?  If so, I would be truly grateful. Please, for safety reasons, only share on blogs and not on Facebook which can be scanned by those who would wish to do harm to our ministry. Thanks... xo