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Walls of Protection?

Matthew 6:33 (AMP) But first and most importantly seek (aim at, strive after) His kingdom and His righteousness [His way of doing and being right—the attitude and character of God], and all these things will be given to you also.

Have you ever had a week, a month or even a few months that you became off focused because of words someone said to you? More than likely the transaction you had made you feel rejected, as to why you became off focus. This happens to me. My first reaction is to withdraw. I want to put up wall of protection. I want to put policies in place so that I do not hurt like that again. It is a distraction, because all my thoughts are on how that hurt. It distracted me from being able to write on Monday. The sad part is that I gave it the power to do it. What I learned yesterday is that I cannot beat myself up about that. During that week of distraction I was still aware of my need for my Father. I cried out to Him knowing that I needed His help to take control of my mind. Does that mean He is disappointed? Should I scold myself to get over it? Definitely not!!!Although I had a week of distraction, He still is not mad at me. That brought me comfort and peace. My mind was still focused on Him.

2 Chronicles 16:9a (AMP) For the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth so that He may support those whose heart is completely His.

Isaiah 26:1-4 (AMP) In that day this song will be sung in the land of Judah: “We have a strong city; He sets up salvation as walls and ramparts. “Open the gates, that the righteous nation may enter, The one that remains faithful and trustworthy. “You will keep in perfect and constant peace the one whose mind is steadfast [that is, committed and focused on You—in both inclination and character], Because he trusts and takes refuge in You [with hope and confident expectation]. “Trust [confidently] in the Lord forever [He is your fortress, your shield, your banner], For the Lord God is an everlasting Rock [the Rock of Ages].

He is my fortress and my shield. I do not need to erect walls of protection because He is my protection. Our purpose is too great to shut ourselves in. It takes great faith to allow God to tear down your walls…it was by faith that the walls of Jericho fell. It takes great faith to keep your gates open to relationships. His is the best relationship. When we put up walls because of hurts and rejection, we inadvertently put up a wall to not allow access for the Father in that area of our life. We are saying that we have to protect it because we do not trust Him to protect it. It takes great faith to trust Him with your heart. It took about a week this time. The time periods are getting shorter and shorter. I celebrate in that progress!

Do you struggle with rejection? I would love to hear from you and share some tools that I have used to help me in this area. You can message me at amanda@desiringformore.org.

One Year Later

It has been a year since the Stay at Home Order in Alabama. We were told that we should only go out of our homes to get the essentials (i.e. groceries, toiletries, home repair, etc.). Masks were not mandated yet, but you saw people wearing them in public, as well as, gloves of all sorts. There was toilet paper, disinfectant wipes and spray shortages.

Our kids were on spring break at the time. Since my kids are athletes, and how else are we suppose to get teenagers away from electronics these days, I made them run every morning. We lifted weights together, at the house, every day. I tried to keep them as active as possible. It brought me back to the days when I was growing up and my grandmother would keep us outside during the summer so we would not just watch television all day. We would ride our bikes to a friends house or they would all come over to my grandmother’s and swim. It was too cool for the pool to be open, so one rode his bike all over the neighborhood and the other learned to climb ladders and hang out on the roof.

What made me want to write about this was because as pastors my husband and I had to adjust, but we did not want this to change the core of what we believed the church should be. There was a quote being posted around Facebook, it said, “Your Pastor has never pastored a church through a Pandemic before. When he opens people are going to say he should have closed. When he closes people are going to say he should have opened. When he shakes hands people are going to say he has faith. When he shakes hands people are going to say he’s foolish. He’s going to make some difficult decisions to protect the flock considering everything from your spiritual growth to legal liabilities that you aren’t even thinking about. He has the incredible responsibility of looking over the well being of his flock. Remember this:No one wants things to go well at church as much as your pastor. Your pastor needs your prayers and support right now. And although you can’t touch him, give him an air high 5. 😄 support your pastor in prayer.”

Ephesians 4:11-13 (AMP) And [His gifts to the church were varied and] He Himself appointed some as apostles [special messengers, representatives], some as prophets [who speak a new message from God to the people], some as evangelists [who spread the good news of salvation], and some as pastors and teachers [to shepherd and guide and instruct], [and He did this] to fully equip and perfect the saints (God’s people) for works of service, to build up the body of Christ [the church]; until we all reach oneness in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God, [growing spiritually] to become a mature believer, reaching to the measure of the fullness of Christ [manifesting His spiritual completeness and exercising our spiritual gifts in unity].

This is our calling and our role. It breaks my heart that the body was separated during that time physically, but we should not have been separated spiritually. There have been many things that have happened in the past year. A real shaking occurred. The shaking could have gone two ways: 1) it could have shaken us awake and brought us closer together to unify, or 2) it could have shaken us to divide us. Whatever you are going through in your life right now, I pray that things were shaken to draw you closer to Him. That is what I chose to do this past year.

It breaks my heart that the body was separated during that time physically, but we should not have been separated spiritually.

Yes, my family did get hit with COVID-19. It effected me different than everyone else in my home. Both of my grandparents passed away this past year. Both of my husband’s and my parents have had long term effects of the virus. They are coming out of it, it has taken a few months. We know of those that have been put on a respirator and recovered. It has been a year that changed our world. So please continue to pray for us (your pastors and leaders) as it has been a year of not knowing what to do and still doing it. We did not give up on you. We are here wanting to see you grow in His spiritual completeness and exercise your gifts in unity.

Construction Zone

Living in a construction zone

Philippians 1:1-6 (AMP) Paul and Timothy, bond-servants of Christ Jesus (the Messiah, the Anointed), To all the saints (God’s people) in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, including the overseers and deacons: Grace to you and peace [inner calm and spiritual well-being] from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I thank my God in every remembrance of you, always offering every prayer of mine with joy [and with specific requests] for all of you, [thanking God] for your participation and partnership [both your comforting fellowship and gracious contributions] in [advancing] the good news [regarding salvation] from the first day [you heard it] until now. I am convinced and confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will [continue to] perfect and complete it until the day of Christ Jesus [the time of His return].

What is your view of a construction zone? They are often not the places of peace and contentment. They are chaotic and dangerous. Most people say that they are slightly messed up places, dangerous places and often times unsightly places to look at. Construction zones have falling hazards. They are dirty, noisy, disorganized, confused, untidy, hectic and disgusting places.

What is your view of a construction zone?

To the architect’s perspective, they will say that the construction zone is beautiful despite all of the chaos going on. They envision the end product. They know what they are looking at is the process of progress.

1 John 3:2 (AMP) Beloved, we are [even here and] now children of God, and it is not yet made clear what we will be [after His coming]. We know that when He comes and is revealed, we will [as His children] be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is [in all His glory].

I am under construction and so are you. Contrary to what we may look like on the outside, we do not often times have it all together. You may look at me and my beautiful family and think that I have it all together. What you do not see and you do not understand is what you are seeing is a work in progress, a real live construction zone. There may be some hazardous materials that fall of with all the hammering and drilling going on. Be patient with me, God is not through with me yet.

Seven years ago a leak was found behind the wall of my kitchen sink. The sub-floor had gotten so wet that a complete gutting of my kitchen had to go under way into the adjoining eating area. They had to tear the sub-floor out and replace it. We were without a kitchen for nearly three months. The end result was a total transformation of what my house looked like when we bought it. That leak exposed areas so that improvements could be made.

Getting to the issue

It is okay to be in the process of progress. It is okay to be under construction. I am better than what I was, but I am not yet where I want to be. Truthfully, we are all in the process of progress. We are at different levels in the process. Our progress is going to be different!

Going back to our first scripture. Verse six, I am convinced and confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will [continue to] perfect and complete it until the day of Christ Jesus [the time of His return]. I know that I know that I know, that you will make it. You are going to be finished. We are under construction now, but we will be completed. It may seem like a long way off, but be encouraged that you will be finished. It does not appear yet what it will be. We have this promise, that is will appear, we will be like Him. We will see Him as He is. He has begun a good work in you and He will see it to completion!

Do you need prayer during this construction process you are at? If so, please message me at amanda@desiringformore.org. I would love to encourage you and pray with you.

After three months of construction!

Friendship Strained

Hebrews 10:24 Discover creative ways to encourage others and to motivate them toward acts of compassion, doing beautiful works as expressions of love.

Have you ever had it happen where you knew someone and you did things together, but all of a sudden they dropped off from your life? Being a pastor, we have it happen quite often. It is one of the hardest relationships with people to navigate, but it is also the most rewarding. Like anyone else, if I did not get joy out of seeing the light come on (fresh revelation being revealed to them personally) then I would not be doing it.

Yesterday, my husband and I were walking around a local thrift store. He is a big thrifter and likes to find items to resell. My kids and him have a Youtube channel called Bama Pickin’ and Grinnin (click on the link to see what they have been up to). I saw someone out that I had not seen in years. I went up to them and said hello. I was met with, “I did not know you were in here,” as their eyes darted in all directions but me. I complimented her on some things and then went on my way. I wondered, what had I done to muster such a look of discomfort from an old friend.

My question was, did I offend them? What stronghold are they holding on against me? Then my heart hurt for them. I never want to spur others to anger. I want to do what the above scripture says. I prayed their hearts would be softened to the Holy Spirit and prayed Luke 6:36-37 (AMP) over them and myself: Be merciful (responsive, compassionate, tender) just as your [heavenly] Father is merciful. Do not judge [others self-righteously], and you will not be judged; do not condemn [others when you are guilty and unrepentant], and you will not be condemned [for your hypocrisy]; pardon [others when they truly repent and change], and you will be pardoned [when you truly repent and change].

There are always two sides to a story (more than one perspective). When we do sit down and talk to each other, really listen to each other. Just because a person has a different perspective than you does not mean they are your enemy, or that they are wrong (this is not talking about the Word of God). The body of Christ is stronger when it is unified and not divided in an issue. So let us (Ephesians 4:32 in the amplified) Be kind and helpful to one another, tender-hearted [compassionate, understanding], forgiving one another [readily and freely], just as God in Christ also forgave you.

Is it really worth holding onto something for so many years? Is it really worth losing compassion? Is it really worth hardening your heart? Christ forgave me, therefore, I need to be readily and freely ready to forgive others.

Happy International Women’s Day

I am a woman in ministry that is allowed to speak to the whole congregation on a Sunday. It is not an opportunity that I take for granted, because unfortunately there are many churches that do not allow women to speak outside of a women’s event or a youth/children’s ministry. This is quite sad because there were many disciples of Jesus, that were not men, that He sent out. It is sad still that today in mega churches (not all…Elevation Church and Transformation Church, well done!) that do not have a woman speak in a main service. The body of Christ is really missing out on this gift.

John 4:7-38 tells the story of Jesus’ encounter with a Samaritan woman at a well. For those of you who do not know this story, I urge you to read it.  I will paraphrase it for you right now.  Jesus and his disciples are traveling and his disciples went to buy food in the city.  Jesus sits down at “Jacob’s well” and he asks this Samaritan woman for water (a woman, culturally, His people would not be seen talking to).  He goes on to talk to her about there being a water that she could drink that she would never have to thirst again.  This woman was out at this time of day, that no one else would be drawing water, was because she was living with a man that was not her husband, and had had five husbands before that.  Women were property back in that day and if this woman had been married and divorced so many times, culturally they thought something was wrong with her.  Jesus reveals to her that He is the Messiah and she receives what He says.  His disciples come back and are astonished.  Jesus talks about having food to eat, but they hadn’t given him any yet.  What food was He talking about?  John 4:34-35 (MSG) Jesus said, “The food that keeps me going is that I do the will of the One who sent me, finishing the work he started. As you look around right now, wouldn’t you say that in about four months it will be time to harvest? Well, I’m telling you to open your eyes and take a good look at what’s right in front of you. These Samaritan fields are ripe. It’s harvest time!

Jesus sits down at “Jacob’s well” and he asks this Samaritan woman for water (a woman, culturally, His people would not be seen talking to).

Here is the adventure the Samaritan woman and the harvest that Jesus saw.  Historians have discovered that the Samaritan woman’s name was Photina.  She was at Pentecost.  After her encounter with Jesus at the well, she did not stop spreading the Word of Jesus.  It completely changed her life.  She spoke so much of Jesus that she got the attention of Nero.  She was responsible for converting Nero’s daughter and many of his servants.  How fascinating to know that Jesus saw that harvest at the well. He saw the value of this woman!

Some may argue that is woman was a missionary and that was why she could lead in that capacity. It is often glossed over that the day that Jesus was presented to the Temple, as customary after eight days of His birth, there were two in the room that blessed Him, Simeon and Anna, a prophetess. God does not see less of a value on women, as being the physically weaker sex, He sees great value in them as why He chose Deborah to lead the nation of Israel.

My husband and I co-pastor our church. I am submitted to my husband as He is the head of our home, but that does not mean he dominates me or has a greater voice than I do. When we presented the verses on Ephesians 5 on how a marriage is modeled to the congregation on Valentine’s Day Sunday we presented this verse first: 1 Peter 3:7 (NLT) In the same way, you husbands must give honor to your wives. Treat your wife with understanding as you live together. She may be weaker than you are, but she is your equal partner in God’s gift of new life. Treat her as you should so your prayers will not be hindered.

When we start seeing women in ministry as equal partners, there is so much more that can be offered to the Body of Christ! Women, you have value! You are a gift to the body of Christ!! Lisa Bevere posted today, “God would have never GRANTED WOMEN A VOICE if He intended for them to remain silent.”

Willing Vessel

When you love someone, or something, you are willing to make an investment into it. You will take time and resources into making it successful. They want to see their dream a reality. When they have a set back they do not give up!

I never pictured myself as someone who would willingly get up and speak in front of people. I was quite reluctant and not at all good when I started doing it. Moses was the same way.

Exodus 4:10-16 (NIV) Moses said to the Lord, “Pardon your servant, Lord. I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.” The Lord said to him, “Who gave human beings their mouths? Who makes them deaf or mute? Who gives them sight or makes them blind? Is it not I, the Lord? Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.” But Moses said, “Pardon your servant, Lord. Please send someone else.” Then the Lord’s anger burned against Moses and he said, “What about your brother, Aaron the Levite? I know he can speak well. He is already on his way to meet you, and he will be glad to see you. You shall speak to him and put words in his mouth; I will help both of you speak and will teach you what to do. He will speak to the people for you, and it will be as if he were your mouth and as if you were God to him.

Check out the grace God gave to Moses. I would like to point out that they were still under the Abrahamic Covenant. The Mosaic Covenant of the law had not been established yet. So even in Moses imperfection, God put steps in place for Moses to be able to fulfill what He called Him to do. We will eventually see, later on, that Moses was bold in his speech.

(If we apply our life to the way things manifested from the time of the Mosaic Covenant and to the cross, then we are not walking in the fullness of this New Covenant. We need to read those passage now through the eyes of the cross. They should speak about the great need for the cross and not what we have to go through any more).

In the past, I was satisfied with setting up the church events. I did all of the prep work. I would do the research for particular people for them when they taught. I would come up with the themes for the events and do all of the preparations and then hand it over. I liked being in the background. I still do. Before church on Sundays I am there thirty minutes before my teams. I walk through the building setting up areas, making sure their tools are ready to go before they walk in the door.

What I love though is that God calls inadequate people so He can work through them. He in turn will receive the glory that is only His. I am a vessel, but I have to be a willing vessel. He uses imperfect people! I just love that. I love that in my desire to see His Kingdom established, I get to be a part of it. I am not waiting on the sidelines for Him to put me in. You may be asking, when do I get to be a part of the game? Now!

What I love though is that God calls inadequate people so He can work through them.

1 Peter 4:7-10 (NKJV) But the end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers. And above all things have fervent love for one another, for “love will cover a multitude of sins.” Be hospitable to one another without grumbling. As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.

1 Peter 4:11 (TPT) For example, if you have a speaking gift, speak as though God were speaking his words through you. If you have the gift of serving, do it passionately with the strength God gives you, so that in everything God alone will be glorified through Jesus Christ. For to him belong the power and the glory forever throughout all ages! Amen.

When we start to do the works of the ministry as it talks about in Ephesians 4, we will start to grow. God knew that if He could get Moses to start, Moses would start to grow. He is not asking you to have it all figured out. He is asking you to start. When we keep waiting, we are putting it on pause. I understand and know that in the Word it says to be still, or when you have done all then stand. This is not a physical reference though. This is talking about your inward, spirit being. We can become anxious in the waiting, that is what He is telling us to be still. Be at peace.

I love this verse and I will speak it over myself and you continually: 1 Corinthians 6:11-13 (MSG) Dear, dear Corinthians, I can’t tell you how much I long for you to enter this wide-open, spacious life. We didn’t fence you in. The smallness you feel comes from within you. Your lives aren’t small, but you’re living them in a small way. I’m speaking as plainly as I can and with great affection. Open up your lives. Live openly and expansively! Please hear my heart! I want you to live!! He wants you to live!!!

If you need prayer or someone to talk to, please message me at amanda@desiringformore.org.

My van overheated

This past week started off tough for me. It started off with stress and anxiety over getting items ready for a consignment sale, which were exasperated by how I was “tolerated” as a consignor by the new owner. Also, on Monday my van started to overheat. We had just gotten back from a trip to north Alabama, where the temperatures were still below freezing and they had gotten snow. We let the van run for longer periods of time in idle than we usually do. We added antifreeze to it as we found out it had none and by the next day it was low again.

On Wednesday I took my van for an oil change and asked them to look into the coolant issue. That I could smell it and that it was leaking somewhere. They gave me a quote and sent me on my way telling me to be very careful. I traveled from there about twenty miles to see my mother and have a visit. On the way back from my mother’s it started over heating again. I pulled it over to the shoulder and call a town truck.

Just that morning I had posted: Yesterday was rough. I was stressed and anxious for most of the afternoon. I spent the past two days hanging, tagging and preparing items for a local consignment sale (this will be my last time doing it). While doing it I binge watched an episode on Netflix. Really interesting and entertaining…I like a good crime series.Today I am reading and came across this nugget:“The Bible shows us that there is a direct relation between hearing and seeing Jesus, and the health of our bodies. The more we hear and see Jesus, the healthier and stronger we become! Our mortal bodies infused with His resurrection life and power! If we are constantly feeding on the news media, it is no wonder we feel weak and tired. There is just no nourishment for us there.” From “Unmerited Favor” by Joseph Prince. Now I don’t watch the news but I do like to get into a good series. It’s comforting, but then when I’m away from it I feel anxious. Hello! Doesn’t that seem like symptoms of an addiction? I read my Word every day. I spend time in worship. I know the Holy Spirit. Here is what He is trying to tell me: stop putting time limits on what is His time and what is my time. I do not have as much stress and anxiety when I give Him more of that “me time.” I had an amazing time in the Word and a really good visit with my mom. I had accomplished everything I needed to do on my checklist and now I am on the side of the road. I did not freak out, I did not get into an over anxious mess ball, I had peace.

I got my van home and called the one place I was trying to avoid, my service center. I had not had good experiences with them in the past. When we bought the van my husband also bought an extended warranty that is good as long as we own the van, no renewing required. It is bumper to bumper, but not for normal wear and tear (tires, oil changes, fluids, etc.). Since this was a leak in a hose I did not think this was covered, so that is why I was seeking elsewhere for the repairs. I get it to this service center and guess what…it is covered. What I was willing to pay over four hundred dollars to get fixed only cost me a hundred and fifty.

This is my take away from this. That extended warranty was put into our payments at the beginning of the purchase. It is one hundred percent paid for now. I would not have known the benefits of it completely if I did not get it checked by the service center. We can be just like that with our relationship with God. There are some benefits and blessings that we know are available to us because of the cross, but others we are not sure of so we go someplace else to get our resources. Then we know we should be blessed in an area and think if we make ourselves small and keep a good attitude that God will give us just enough to get us by.

There are some benefits and blessings that we know are available to us because of the cross, but others we are not sure of so we go someplace else to get our resources.

Luke 12:22-24 (AMP) Jesus said to His disciples, “For this reason I tell you, do not worry about your life, as to what you will eat; or about your body, as to what you will wear.  For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes.  Consider the ravens, for they neither sow [seed] nor reap [the crop]; they have no storehouse or barn, and yet God feeds them. How much more valuable are you than the birds!

Ephesians 3:20 (AMP) Now to Him who is able to [carry out His purpose and] do superabundantly more than all that we dare ask or think [infinitely beyond our greatest prayers, hopes, or dreams], according to His power that is at work within us

These are just two verses that should give us an assurance that we have the promise of favor, of abundant blessings and nothing in it tells us to make ourselves small. What about John 3:30 then, “He must increase, but I must decrease”? This is telling us that nothing should be more important in our lives than Christ. John the Baptist wanted to point others to Christ. When we take this verse out of context we start to put the smallness onto ourselves.

If I had stayed in my good attitude and went to the other place, the place where I knew they would not make me uncomfortable because I had never had a confrontation with them, then I would not have known all that was available to me. You know what else, this visit to the service center was the most pleasant experience I have ever had! Favor and blessings all around!!

I pray this blessed and encouraged you. If you need prayer or need to chat, message me at amanda@desiringformore.org.

God causes the growth

Ugly Christmas sweaters at church

1 Corinthians 3:6-7 (AMP) I planted, Apollos watered, but God [all the while] was causing the growth. So neither is the one who plants nor the one who waters anything, but [only] God who causes the growth.

Today my oldest son turns seventeen. He will be a senior in just a few short months. Last week we went to watch him wrestle for state (his first time making it to the qualifiers after four years of trying). He had to step out after the second round due to a possible concussion. Ari fought two really tough competitors. In his first match, the guy was a senior and had placed second the year before, and was undefeated so far this year. Ari lost that round. In his second match, Ari and the other wrestler collided right off the start, head first. Then they pulled back and did it again. It was a tough one, it looked like a brawl from the stands. When done, Ari had a mark under his eye and it was starting to swell. The other kids head gear had got him. Since he woke up with a head ache the next day they took him out. It was a little disappointing for him, but he said he is looking forward to doing it again next year.

So today I am reflecting on how we got here. On this day after thirty two hours in labor, and twelve days after his due date, Ari was born weighing eight pounds and twelve ounces. He was (and still is) beautiful. We had some struggle moments when he was a baby and in his toddler years, really we should have known he was going to be strong willed when he spent the full forty two weeks in the womb. There are some really great moments too. We taught him a few words in sign language before he started talking. He could tells us he wanted to eat, some milk, if he wanted more or if he had enough food. Meal times were when we got to sit together, since I worked full time. It was not until he was almost four that he would be able to stay with me all day.

Then he started going to school, kindergarten. That was my very first parent/teacher conference about behavior. I got to have one of those, within the first nine weeks of school, every year for seven more years. There was one year the principal called me so much that I would make a sigh before I answered the phone. On top of all of this he was a straight “A” student!

When Ari got into eighth grade, he tried out for wrestling and fell in love with the sport. We tried putting him in soccer, in baseball and football. He did not enjoy them, but we knew he needed an outlet. He was passionate about wrestling though. Guess what? I have not been called in for a parent/teacher conference in four years!! I love wrestling. I will take him every where to train. I will get him to any club that had it going on. I will hire a personal trainer to teach him foot work.

What is also amazing is that he honors and respects his parents. He will get up from what he is doing in his room and help me with things around the house, happily. At church, he puts the signs out and makes sure the duplication process for the CDs is ready to go. He hands out the CDs after service. We sit down every school morning, along with his brother, and we read a devotional and pray before they walk out the door. What is most important is that he not only does these things because we ask, but he sees his parents do them. He sees us spending time in the Word daily. He sees us serving in the church. When we do service projects in the community, I do not drop them off, we serve together.

What is most important is that he not only does these things because we ask, but he sees his parents do them. He sees us spending time in the Word daily. He sees us serving in the church. When we do service projects in the community, I do not drop them off, we serve together.

In my beginning verse, it says that I get to plant the seed. From what you read above you would think that now I have the perfect son. He still has his moments. He still can be rude, disrespectful and a jerk. Actually two weeks ago we got into a really big discussion on how his communication needed to be improved. He had all electronics taken away for two days (that included his cell phone). Then when he got it back, he binge played on his XBox and came out of his hole an emotional wreck. Fun stuff, right?! Like him, there are days that I lash out at the people I love too. He needed grace in that moment.

He still needs our guidance. Ultimately though, he is God’s. He will be leaving home in a few years to start his life on his own. I pray that we have laid a good foundation for him. I pray he grows. I want him to grow and mature in God. I want him to succeed. Although we may want them to, my goal is that he will not NEED me (it would be selfish of me if I did not do this). I need to point him to Christ. I need to show him where real growth and success comes from. Before a match we thank God that it is through His strength that Ari gets his power source. Ari has done his part in weight training, practicing endurance and learning technique. Now he can rest, and not feel anxious, in how God puts it all together through him when he wrestles. What a difference that perspective has made in his wrestling this year.

If you know how that feels hit the like button on this post. Let me know your struggles and celebrate the successes with you. If you need prayer you can message me at amanda@desiringformore.org.

Enough to share

Colossians 2:6-7 (AMP) Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, walk in [union with] Him [reflecting His character in the things you do and say—living lives that lead others away from sin], having been deeply rooted [in Him] and now being continually built up in Him and [becoming increasingly more] established in your faith, just as you were taught, and overflowing in it with gratitude.

As I was reading these verses yesterday, three things jumped out at me: (1) I need to reflect His character, when I do this I can lead others to Him; (2) Being deeply rooted in Him helps me accomplish number one; and (3) This will result in me becoming increasingly more established in my faith.

John 15:1-8 (TPT) I am a true sprouting vine, and the farmer who tends the vine is my Father. He cares for the branches connected to me by lifting and propping up the fruitless branches and pruning every fruitful branch to yield a greater harvest. The words I have spoken over you have already cleansed you. So you must remain in life-union with me, for I remain in life-union with you. For as a branch severed from the vine will not bear fruit, so your life will be fruitless unless you live your life intimately joined to mine. “I am the sprouting vine and you’re my branches. As you live in union with me as your source, fruitfulness will stream from within you—but when you live separated from me you are powerless. If a person is separated from me, he is discarded; such branches are gathered up and thrown into the fire to be burned. But if you live in life-union with me and if my words live powerfully within you—then you can ask whatever you desire and it will be done. When your lives bear abundant fruit, you demonstrate that you are my mature disciples who glorify my Father!

I have to be attached to the vine (Jesus). His roots run deep! Rooted there I am going to grow. When I grow I will begin to produce fruit. The amazing thing about this fruit is that the nourishment that comes from it is meant to be shared. When I share my fruit from this vine, others will want to see where it is planted and will eventually become rooted as well. This is what increases my faith. My expectation and passion will grow. I start making more Kingdom impacts. I am beginning to reflect His character.

The amazing thing about this fruit is that the nourishment that comes from it is meant to be shared.

Whenever I think of reflecting God’s character it makes me think of His glory. We are to glorify His name when we pray, when we worship and when we talk about Him in the streets. It also makes me think of Moses and how his face glowed after being in the presence of the Lord. I came across this verse, 2 Corinthians 3:13 (AMP) and we are not like Moses, who used to put a veil over his face so that the Israelites would not gaze at the end of the glory which was fading away. The glow from Moses face would eventually fade. Then we go a few verse down, verses 17-18 (AMP) Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty [emancipation from bondage, true freedom]. And we all, with unveiled face, continually seeing as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are progressively being transformed into His image from [one degree of] glory to [even more] glory, which comes from the Lord, [who is] the Spirit. I am no longer bound to my mistakes and my short comings. I like how it says that we are “progressively being transformed.” This year my goal is progress. Part of that progress is coming out of my comfort zone. I am an introvert by nature. I feel awkward when I have to start a conversation ( I feel like our teenagers today who do not know how to answer a phone). When I see the fruit of what my God encounters do bring, it increases my faith.

I want to lead others to a fulfilling relationship with the Father like I have. In order to do that, I need to reflect His character. I need to be attached to the vine (Jesus). Growing in God is so very rewarding. Giving nourishment to others will increase your faith. The Holy Spirit will draw those to you, but He cannot do that if we refuse to leave the comfort of our homes. This is me too. I need to get out more and I need to step into more serving opportunities (outside of my church). Fruit is meant to be shared. People need to see that it is not perfection He is after, it is progress. They need to see me mess up and depend on Him in my recovery. His glory does not fade anymore, like it did from the face of Moses, it radiates through me because I am in Christ (whose glory never fades).

I pray this encouraged you today. Wherever you are in your walk with Christ, know that we should never feel pressured to be at any faith level, just keep making progress. Keep growing. Stay rooted in Jesus, He is the vine. Take a step to give nourishment to others, it will increase your faith when you see fruit growing in their lives.

Please feel free to message me at amanda@desiringformore.org if you need prayer.

Begin Again

Yesterday was Valentine’s Day and for the past few years my husband and I take the time to talk to the church together about marriage and relationships. This year it was important that we talked about managing conflict and walking in forgiveness. This year with the pandemic we have spent more time with our families, especially if you were in a stay at home order like we were.

I think we did pretty good with it. The stressful activity we did was to paint the outside of our house. We have a ranch style home built in 1968, addition was done in 2000. Part of the house is on foundation, the other is crawl space. It is a brick home that was painted a sea foam green. When we moved in thirteen years ago I had always wanted to paint the house, I did not like the color. The home has sixteen windows that looks to be original to the house (except for the addition) and they have the pained glass. We had gotten quotes to get the job done. They ranged from six to eight thousand dollars. The pandemic hit, and we all had to stay home together. My husband and I went out and bought a paint sprayer, rollers, brushes, paper, tape and lots of paint. Stay at home did not mean we could not go outside, and I did not want my kids playing video games all day.

Marriage, more than any other relationship, is going to highlight your flaws. A project of this magnitude with two teenage boys, was going to highlight some flaws as well. We each had a job, and we assisted each other when our job did not need to be done at the moment. The struggle that we found was when we needed help, how to communicate that. In the middle of the frustration on not being able to do this task or problem solve it, how to communicate without filtering that frustration in how we talked to each other.

Ephesians 4:1-3 (TLB) I beg you—I, a prisoner here in jail for serving the Lord—to live and act in a way worthy of those who have been chosen for such wonderful blessings as these. Be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Try always to be led along together by the Holy Spirit and so be at peace with one another.

We each have faults. In love, we must make allowances for each other. Grace needed to be applied to each other. Be patient with your children and spouse. Have faith in what your marriage/family can become. Do not heap on expectations on where you think you should be. Enjoy the journey.

Hebrews 12:2 (MSG) Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. 

If in the process of painting the house we fixed your thoughts on the faults and failure’s of each other the project would probably had never gotten completed. Our family relationship would have suffered a great loss. The problems in our marriage/family are going to be magnified if we do not keep our eyes on Jesus. Study how He lived His life. He had some different personalities to do life with.

The problems in our marriage/family are going to be magnified if we do not keep our eyes on Jesus.

The bigger picture is that I want my children to have lasting relationships. The highlighted flaws that their parents have are going to come out in front of them. When my husband and I first got married my reaction to a question or statement would have been returned with a quick straight to the point answer. I filtered my responses through defense. I thought I was always under a microscope waiting for someone to point out my flaws, this person now being my husband. In return, how I answered was not clear or was often misunderstood because of how I said it, not in what I said. This escalated the conversation into a fight. My husband when he is flustered can come off as very aggravated, this combined with filtering through defense was a combination for disaster. One of us needed to do something. I went to a really good source. I went to my Word.

Colossians 3:13 (NLT) Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.

Philippians 4:8 (TLB) Fix your thoughts on what is true and good and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely, and dwell on the fine, good things in others. Think about all you can praise God for and be glad about.

When tensions started to flair, we had to go back to this. Someone was not ready to change how they approached the problem, that is okay because they need grace in the moment and we are going to give it to them. Did we have a few blow ups? Yes! We are not perfect. In the end, I do not recall what they were about. I do know that the house is painted. We have to redo the porch, we did not seal it…oops! We still love each other. We still enjoy each other’s company. We have had to tackle other projects together and did not dread it!

It is not too late for your marriage or your family. For us, it started with one person making up their mind that they were not going to hold onto offense and to be quick to forgive. I just so happened to be that person in my home. I had to lay down my pride and me wanting to always be right. In turn there was a change in me. I no longer responded in defense. Peace was raging in me, so it was also becoming a part of what our home would be.

You can make up your mind to begin again. What if you spouse is not wanting to make the change? You make the change. Let God work on them. At the end of all of this, we will give an account of what we did, not what they did. I want to hear “well done good and faithful servant”. We are not going to hear “well done perfect servant.” So please stop putting that expectation on the people you have relationships with, including leaders. I want to point out that He uses the word servant. Are we serving in our families? If not, you can begin now. It is not too late. I do not regret making that change. I have my moments, because I am not going to be perfect at it all the time, in return my family have made allowances for me as I have made allowances for them. It is pretty nice.

If you need prayer or would like to talk about anything feel free to email me at amanda@desiringformore.org.