Words have power. Written words provide proof. You can read them, and reread them whenever you want. They can speak life to someone who needs encouragement. They can speak death to someone who is being deceived. The choice lies within you. How is it that you want people to remember you? Encourager...that is the gift that God has laid on my heart. To use my written, spoken, and/or sung words to lift people up. To be one link in their road to healing, restoration, joy. I have been without those things, and I claim them to be mine again. If you want me to seek God on a prayer for a specific situation...that is why I am here. I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to pray God's Word of Life over you.

Monday, January 27, 2020

What Was Her Worth?

We said our last goodbye to the earthly shell of my Great Aunt Nancy today.  While I sat and thought back on the impact that she made, God spoke so clearly to me.

'What was her worth?'

If you sought after an answer of her worth in the eyes of the world...you would find that it was almost nothing.  Her monetary possessions were not impressive, nor were they many.  Her bank account was humble.  Her closet was not filled with fashion.  To the world, she had little of value.

But I know that the world cannot offer the kind of worth that would impress the God that Nancy loved.

So, what was her worth?

Her worth was found in the way that she worshipped her Savior.  She was always loving in the way that she knew she was called to love.  She was always serving in the way that she knew she was able to serve.  She was always praying to the One who she knew could move mountains.  She was always encouraging with a soft voice and a genuine smile.  She served her King for all of the days that she was able and after that only her prayers remained.  And her Father was well pleased.

Her worth was found in the way that she gave of all that she had.  There was not a member of her family that didn't receive a small gift from Aunt Nancy.  And no matter how much you liked it or didn't like it...you loved it because you knew the heart that gave it.  She showed her love through countless hours baking in her tiny kitchen and endless trips to yard sales.  And her Father was well pleased.

Her worth was found in the way that she spoke.  In my 38+ years of life I never heard her speak poorly of anyone.  Not a single person.  It's as if she never forgot that it was the breath of God that breathed life into her lungs and she was not willing to waste a single one on gossip or slander or hatred.  She chose her words.  They didn't spew out like a bottle under pressure.  She had control over her tongue and she used her words to uplift the world around her.  And her Father was well pleased.

Her worth was found in the way that she lived after sorrow came after her home.  When her helpmate and earthly provider was gone in an instant...she still had a long life left to live.  She had reasons to give up.  To become angry and hostile towards God.  To let depression take away the years she had left.  To complain about how hard it was going to be to recover from such a tragedy.  While I was not there in the first years after her husband passed...I saw who she became.  There was not a day that she  was not filled with joy and gratitude.  Death did not break her spirit and sorrow certainly did not control her heart.  And her Father was well pleased.

I would love to turn out to be more like my sweet Aunt Nancy.  Choosing my words wisely.  Giving of whatever I have.  Blessing others as often as I am able.  Always having candy in my pocket for any kids that I may run into.  Joyful no matter what. --She was a worthy example of what a follower of Christ looked like...and I am better for having known and loved her.  Her Father was so so proud of His sweet baby girl.  And now that He has her Home, he will enjoy her hilarious jokes and contagious laughter for the rest of time

What is your worth?  If you reach for your bank statement or open the door of your home to prove your worth...you've missed it.  Your worth can not be measured in such things.  They will not be there on that final day.  The day that you see the King of kings before you and He asks...why should I let you into my Heaven...your bank, your car, your home, your jewels...they will not be there.

If Nancy's death could convince just one of her family/friends towards a relationship with Christ...know that she would have done it years ago.

That is how much she believed in the God that she loved.

That is how much she loved the people that God entrusted to her care.

She warred for them/us in prayer more than they ever knew.  She loved them/us no matter how long it had been since we came around.  She lived in a way that represented Christ well and I am so proud of how she clung to the joy of her Lord.

Her worth...was priceless.  It could not be taken away and it could not be measured.  It was too great for anything this world had to offer.  I can't wait to see the crown that Jesus designed for her.  His generous and sweet little girl.  I guarantee she has never seen anything so grand and beautiful....and she deserves every jewel in it.

Her Father was well pleased with all that she did in His Name and for His Glory.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Finish Strong

Being the wife of a worship leader, I get the chance privilege to be a part of a number of different occasions and methods of worship.  Tonight was no different.  Tonight I found myself; along with my husband, our four children, our two pastors, and our friends...at the bedside of a dear, sweet woman who is approaching the end of her days here on earth.

She is weak.
She is frail.
She is tired.
She is ready.
And still...she longs to worship.

We surrounded her bed and opened up our hymnals.  As we began to sing I made what I thought was my first mistake, and it had nothing to do with the notes I was singing.  I found myself intently watching.  

I watched her face as we began to sing.  She was hearing our words and she meant every one that we sang.  She soon began to cry...and that was all it took for me too.  When she was able she would mouth the words with us.  Worship connects

I remember the last time I saw a weakened, frail woman mouth the words to her favorite hymns.  It was the days after the sudden death of my grandfather.  My grandma sat in her living room as my husband played her piano, eyes closed, mouthing the words.  She was tired.  She was weak...and yet she longed to worship.  Worship soothes.

My favorite part of tonight was a tiny and simple gesture from her submissive heart to her Savior.  Her King.  Her God.  As we sang, she lifted her hand in worship.  It barely left her side...but I saw.  Her heart was clear and if no one else noticed...Heaven was watching.  Her Father was well pleased with her worship tonight.  Worship sacrifices.

Tonight was not about any of us who gathered there.  It was sad and yet so so beautiful.  I can not imagine not being by her side tonight.  As if my comfort would ever be more important than hers.  And in true God-like-fashion...although I went hoping to be just a tiny blessing amidst the sorrow...I left humbled by her unwavering obedience and love for her Creator.  Worship obeys

Tonight was an instruction for ME to raise my standard.  To stop making excuses in waiting for my purpose jump out at me.  I, too, want to finish strong.  I want to worship with every ounce of strength I have.  I want to raise my hands in submission to God until I can't anymore.  I want to walk in immediate obedience.  I want to sacrifice my comfort just to show God how much I adore Him.  I am raising the bar in my life.  I have seen what a gentle warrior looks like, and I am unwilling to stay where I've been.  Not everyone gets the chance to witness such a powerful display of surrender.  I will not waste the moments I spent with her.  I promise...I will let them forever change me.

Dear Sweet LaRue...
You truly are a treasure.  A beautiful example to anyone who has had the chance to see your heart.  A worthy representation of what the love of Christ looks life.  A true worshipper.  A mighty warrior.  A kind and gentle helpmate to your family and friends.  A lover of Truth.  A strong, meek daughter of the King of kings.  A follower of the Word of God.  A patient teacher.  A storyteller.  A lover of bad jokes. (<--Emil)  You have blessed too many people to count.  Your legacy lives on in the hearts of the ones that you have touched.  Finish strong Rue.  You. Are. Loved.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Free At Last

Explain to me why it is that slavery so often appears to be freedom?  How has the enemy continued to successfully convince us (over and over and over) that his path is easier and without consequence?  How is it that we so quickly forget that our sin always costs us more than we intended it to. (Certainly more than he told you it would.)  And why do we allow it to last longer than we ever 'planned' ?

If you haven't figured this out by now...let me just be blunt for a moment.

satan is seeking you out with a sly and crafty scheme in mind.  And that scheme always comes with a hefty consequence.  Not a single person on this earth 'gets away' with doing wrong.  The father of lies is throwing bad idea after bad idea at you and convincing you that they are your own.  he is strategically placing pitfalls in your path to trip you up every time you are close to revelation. grace. hope. freedom.  he is stealing your peace one poor decision at a time. 

You see...he loathes us because he is terrified of the unmatched potential that God has placed within us.  he can't compete with God's character in us.  As followers of Christ...we get what he once had...and he is being an absolute baby about it.  he is well aware of his future. he chose it.  he also knows that his days are numbered...and rapidly coming to an end. 

When Christians fall/walk away from their relationship with God; it doesn't always look the same. It very well may look like we tend to picture it. A hurting heart turned to sex, drugs/alcohol, foul language, visibly corrupt morals seemingly without a conscience. All of that may be true for some. Sometimes though....sometimes I'd bet that for Christians, falling away from our relationship with God isn't quite so obvious. It's gradual. Sometimes I believe it just looks like apathy. Some days it is just being busy without purpose, and not caring enough to change it.  Some days it is just a refusal to admit how far you've slid. 

James 4:17 states it simple and clear for us.  "Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin."

Ouch!  I know that verse might sting a bit.  Do not let the enemy shame you into the darkness!  Let the Light of Truth shine bright so that darkness must FLEE in Jesus Powerful Name!  The Truth found in God's Word does not change.  It does not move.  It does not cower.  Those are traits of the evil one...not of the Holy One.

If you are lacking spiritual energy, think hard about how often and how consistently you feed your spirit.  If you go from Sunday to Sunday before you are fed again, soon you will become critically unhealthy.  Lethargic. You'll feel as though you can handle anything this world throws at you at noon on Sunday....and by Tuesday (or before) you'll be throwing in the towel. 
We must remember to Feed. Our. Spirit. Daily. (at minimum!!)
Going without nourishment leaves us tired, weak (and most likely irritable).

Luke 15:8-10~The Parable of the Lost Coin
“Suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Doesn’t she light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’ 10 In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents."

I would love to rejoice at your repentance!  You DO NOT have to tell me the what...but I would love to hear if God woke you up today.  I would love to celebrate your freedom from the grasp of the devil.  I would love to shout praise to the King above all kings!

Right now.  This day.  If there are things that God has been asking you to recognize for what they are...look up.  Look at the darkened and unclear path you are on.  Would God send you where you are?  If He wouldn't, He didn't.  It is going to take a plan to change lanes.  The enemy is not going to make it seem easy...but don't sell yourself short.  Keep your peace as the prize.  It is waiting right there in the Light!  Today, you can be FREE AT LAST!!!!!

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Tears of Worship

Emotions.  They are soooo often misunderstood.  There is always something that lies beneath them. Something unsaid. 

There are people who fake them.
There are people who refuse them.
There are people who can't escape them.
And there is every dynamic in between.

If you know me, you most likely know that I am an emotional person.  Surprisingly, I can reign it in when God equips me to do so for a specific purpose. Most of the time though...my compassion for the struggles of others, forms in a single stream down the front of my face.  It often catches people by surprise.  Almost as if they aren't expecting someone to feel with them.

Some may view my emotional response(s) as a weakness...and I am actually okay with that.  You see, I know Who God designed me to reflect.  I know that when I prayed that God would break my heart for what breaks His...He did. (Click here if you would like to read about how embarrassingly LONG it took me to realize that He had answered that prayer I prayed back in 2009.)

What I want to try to explain today, is why so often I shed tears during times of both personal and corporate worship.  I am sure...because the enemy is always lurking...that my tears are also misunderstood.  I can not speak for everyone, so I will only speak for myself.  For me, the days that I lose it emotionally in worship, is usually for one of three reasons.

#1- God is revealing and dealing with the deepest wounds within my heart.
When all of the other voices that have been competing for my attention are silenced...God speaks up.  And some days, that is the exact moment that my healing begins.  The Truth is non-negotiable and evident beyond human explanation.  It is those days that it takes all that I have to worship my King through the song He has prepared for me to lead...before I crumble in thankful adoration.

#2- I am warring (as in spiritual warfare warring against the powers of darkness) in prayer for someone I love.
I could have said I am praying for someone I love...but during times of corporate worship, when I am surrounded by angel armies, it is so much more fierce than that.  It is a refusal to bow down to the author of lies.  It is a standing firm on the promises of the Word for those who are being deceived.  It is an intense focus on the one and only God who can speak to this mountain and command it to move.  It is aggressive and it is intense, because I know that freedom came with a price that we did not have to pay.  

#3- I am suddenly flooded with examples of God's never-ending supply of Grace, Provision, Faithfulness, Favor....and I can not help but to be humbly grateful.
I do not deserve God's Grace, because I don't always extend to others what I expect from Him.
I do not deserve God's Provision, because I don't always invite Him into the plans for it.
I do not deserve God's Faithfulness, because I fail.  So. Many. Days...I fail Him.
I do not deserve God's Favor, because I don't always seek out His Truth for my days.
When you get a handle on the reality of what you do and do not deserve...it has a tendency to wreck you. We deserve to pay for our wrongs.  We deserve to suffer as a result of our poor choices.  We deserve death as the cost for our sins.
Grace revealed.  It is a beautiful act of love without condition.

Just about any given Sunday you can find me next to my absolute favorite worship leader.  My husband.  God has given Him an obvious gift and responsibility to lead a congregation in corporate worship.  While he doesn't usually display his emotions in an evident way...it is still visable when God is working on his heart.  He gives a testimony and God's heart is heard.  He prays and God's Words pierce through the walls in people's hearts.  His emotional response is genuine to him just as mine is to me.  I wouldn't want it any other way.  I would not want to stand and war in worship beside any other person in this world.

Psalm 30 says...
"I will exalt you, Lord,
for you lifted me out of the depths
and did not let my enemies gloat over me.
Lord my God, I called to you for help,
and you healed me.
You, Lord, brought me up from the realm of the dead;
you spared me from going down to the pit.
Sing the praises of the Lord, you his faithful people;
praise his holy name.
For his anger lasts only a moment,
but his favor lasts a lifetime;
weeping may stay for the night,
but rejoicing comes in the morning.
When I felt secure, I said,
“I will never be shaken.”
Lord, when you favored me,
you made my royal mountain stand firm;
but when you hid your face,
I was dismayed.
To you, Lord, I called;
to the Lord I cried for mercy:
“What is gained if I am silenced,
if I go down to the pit?
Will the dust praise you?
Will it proclaim your faithfulness?
Hear, Lord, and be merciful to me;
Lord, be my help.”
You turned my wailing into dancing;
you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,
that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent.
Lord my God, I will praise you forever."

Worship is my weapon.
Worship fuels my fight.
Worship clears my heart of the nonsense that the deceiver has cast on me.
Worship is never about the singer and forever about the Savior.
All to Him I owe.
If tears fall when I finally lay my burdens down...it is not an emotion that I am chasing after.  It is the response to what God is doing in me that I can not hide; nor would I want to.  I am well aware that Christ has paid a price that I never could and I can not be silent anymore.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Almost Destroyed

he came close.
I still remember saying these words out loud..."The enemy can do nothing to me that would make me give up my place in ministry."  It was as if I was almost asking daring for him to break me...

And then...
he hit me so fast and so hard, that I was left breathless...
gasping for air...
looking up at him from the pit he'd thrown me into...
and through the blur of my own tears...
it was as if the enemy was smiling at me...
pleased that he had indeed found what would destroy me.
sneering that he had knocked me right off that pedestal people had put me on.
It was as if satan was taunting me with these words...
"Look at what being a leader gets you.  Look at how deep those arrows pierced.  You will never heal from these wounds.  Ministry is not worth this.  Say it.  SAY IT!  Worshipping God is not worth this type of pain.  Reject Him!  I will never stop.  I will send legions of demons against everyone you love.  What do you have to say now?  Your fight is weak.  Speak up."  

he came close.
Closer than I want to remember.

But there is this one thing he must have temporarily forgotten. (Although I am not sure how?!?)

My Daddy is the King.
I am ROY - AL - TY  baby.
I was struck down...but I will not be destroyed.

Do you ever look at people in ministry and think..."Yeah, but they are in tune with God.  I am sure they don't even struggle.  They don't understand what is like to be in my shoes."  You aren't alone in those thoughts.  I am guilty of subconsciously thinking those things about people that I respect in ministry.  I place them on a different playing field completely.  It's like I am fighting off lions & tigers & bears in my life and they are off petting puppies who may occasionally "playfully" nibble at their pant leg.  The reality is...satan hates us all.  He is seeking to devour the human race entirely.

Here is your lightbulb moment for today.  The enemy relentlessly pursues those who are effectively reaching out for the cause of Christ.  Those who are leading a church.  Those who are speaking truth. Those who are raising up a generation to love and worship God.  Those who are serving and blessing because of the abundance that God has entrusted them with.  satan hates these types of people.  And if he can't get to you.  If he is running out of tricks and schemes.  He will begin to attack the ones that you hold close.  Husbands.  Wives.  Sons.  Daughters.  Sisters.  Brothers.  Friends.

he. does. not. care.
he delights in the wicked and casts fear and destruction onto the innocent.
he will do anything to try to destroy your faith in the God that he once worshipped.
he is in forever torment and he constantly schemes on how to bring the world down with him.

So what is the difference between those who walk as if nothing phases them and those who feel they get nothing right?

We can see ourselves as victims or we can see ourselves as victors.
We can choose to magnify the struggle or we can choose to magnify the Savior.
We can whine or we can worship.
By not choosing...I guarantee we are choosing.  It is not likely that we are going to be Godly by accident.

The difference?  Those Christ followers that you most respect...ARE absolutely struggling BUT they are FIGHTING!  They are stubborn in their faith and they are not giving up! They are unwilling to let the enemy define them.  They are refusing to lay down and die at the hand of darkness.  They have known what it is to be in plenty and what it is to be in want...and they know that Hope is closer than the enemy leads them to think.  And in their own suffering...they are still warring with anyone that God places on their path.  Because it is THEN that they realize it is He that is strong even when they are weak.

Sit down and talk testimonies with people in your circle of influence.  Listen to how God used each trial in their life to build their faith.  Get real.  Be vulnerable.  Cry if you need to.  But always let God be the one who gets the glory for the victory!  Invite them to pray over you and watch as Hope becomes the Light you are chasing after.  God has big plans for this mess you are in.
Do. Not. Give. Up. The. Fight.

"Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: "Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Messiah. For the accuser of our brothers and sisters, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down.  They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death." Revelation 12:10-11

Sunday, July 29, 2018

What You Hear Isn't Always...True

We can choose to hear.
We can choose to ignore.
And we can choose to entertain thoughts that never had the right to get trapped in our thought pattern.

Two totally seperate conversations. Yet the same truth needed to be applied.

Conversation one happened a few years ago while I was away for a weekend with some friends. Twenty four hours....out of the 365, 24-hour days we have each year...we carve out time to gather together. We rent a condo at a local ski resort...and we.....

Laugh. Cry. Eat. Share stories. Confess struggles. Encourage. Laugh until we cry. Eat more. Play silly games. And when we find the time between all of the awesomeness...we craft/scrap/sew/knit until the wee hours of the morning...when half of us have a headache from lack of sleep (and possibly a lack of oxygen from laughing too much). <-- That last one might just be me. *shrugs shoulders*

So there we all were. Gathered around the dining table in the condo. Seven of us in all. All in different phases of life. All doing our own things most of the year. This night though...we could just be. Be serious. Be silly. Be sad. Be lifted. Whatever the night would bring...we would embrace. Because all too quickly we would be right back to our own routine. For this night...all agenage were out the window.

I heard the words being spoken from one of the women...like they were coming from my own mouth. I was focused on her now.
"I feel insignificant, like I am not doing anything that matters or makes a difference." My eyes immediately fixed on her as if it were me. I wanted to shout....IT. IS. A. LIE! (Getting a word in withOUT flat out interrupting, when seven women are a part of the same conversation, can be difficult. Haha!)

To some, it could have seemed like a cry for attention. That is exactly what I thought when I thought these things about myself several years ago. And then when I first spoke it out loud...I was SURE that people just thought I was wanting to shift their focus to me. Like I was THAT desperate to be praised. The truth was...I bought what I was saying. I believed it. And I didn't want attention...I wanted prayer. I wasn't showcasing my weakness to be puffed up. In my eyes...I was being brave enough to make myself vulnerable to those around me, in hopes that someone would speak life into what I couldn't see as a lie.

That night as I listened God said to me...there are more. There are many more Christians in this world that believe this exact lie. What will you do? How can you help them? Will you help them?

I can't seek them all out. I can't travel the world asking every. living. human. if they have ever believed lies about themselves from the enemy. BUT, I can write. Some days it seems like it is all that I want to do...but rarely get to do. Tonight...I will choose what is right. I will choose obedience. Tonight I will write for anyone that believes that they are not making a difference.

To the one who feels boring and alone...I write.

To the one who feels like no one really wants to be near her because she has nothing of value to offer...I write.

To the one who feels too biblically (or generally) uneducated to engage in conversation with actual adults...I write.

To the one who once had a vision for their future and for one reason or another no longer believes it...I write.

To the one who hears words spoken against her and allows them in deep...I write.

Conversation two happened one Sunday morning. I had just sat down when I saw my daughter running towards me before church. I could see tears streaming down her splotchy red face. She buried her head into me and hugged tight as if I was her refuge. I gently pulled her back to ask what had happened...but she buried her head into my shoulder again.

As a mom, I can tell the different cries of my children. There is a hurt cry, and then there's a REALLY hurt cry. A sick cry. A mad cry. An embarrassed cry. A tired cry. A scared cry. (The list goes on...) On this particular day...we were dealing with none of the above. On this day my daughter's tears where a clear sign to me that she had gotten her feelings hurt. (I could almost immediately rule out that they were NOT caused by one of her brothers because she wasn't tattling.)

After a minute or two she picked her head up and told me in a hushed voice..."She said I was weak." The who is not relevant. I wasn't nearly as concerned with who said those words to her...it was the words I wanted to take captive. My conversation with my daughter was not about forgiveness because she easily and naturally gives that on her own. I was concerned only with what she believed about herself.

If I can teach her now. If she can only remember this one thing. If she can take this one thing with her in life. She will be stronger than I ever was.

I asked her a simple question...


There are so so so sooooo many times in my life that I believed something about myself just because it was spoken out loud. I let it ring in my ears. I let it sink deep inside of me. I let it become a thought entertained. I let the conversation play over and over again in my head. I let it beat me down again and again. With each repetitive thought I gave the enemy room to press that seed of discouragement deeper. Until the root was so deep that those thoughts 'appeared' as truth. Lies disguised.

What I' ve realized as an adult is this; I can take my thoughts captive just as it is found in chapter 10 of 2 Corinthians. Verse 5 says this, "We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ."

In other words, we (you and I), can completely destroy arguments and every claim that sets itself up against the knowledge of God. And we can confine, restrict to an area, every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

You know your Father's voice.
Ask Him to weigh in on the things that your heart believes.
Now.... Listen intently.
Your Savior died so that you could remain free from the lies that satan tries to attach to you.
You need only to believe who God says you are, beloved.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Love Language

To some it was just toast.  Bad toast at that.  To me...it was a young boy's effort to show that he cares.  To show kindness through his love language.  To serve the way that he knows how.  And I felt what was intended... even though everyone else seemed to miss it that morning.

There I sat, quickly eating cold cereal at church, on an early Sunday morning.  I had only a few minutes before we were to begin practicing the songs that we would lead during that morning's worship service.  My youngest son, Levi (7), sat across from me still working on his own bowl.

"Mommy, can you make me toast?" said my cute little 7-year old son.

I had not yet spoken...but my face must have shown that either I did not have the time or did not really want to.  (If I am being truthful...everyone in my house loves toast.  In the same breath, they also loathe making toast...which means it usually falls on me to do.)

"I'll make him toast!" said this little boy we had met only weeks ago, when he showed up at our church with a friend of ours.

I have come to know that this little boy has every reason to be destroyed.  He has endured much pain in these first years of his life.  He has seen and heard things that I can guarantee would make me cringe.  And yet...he remains sweet.  But how?  The day he walked into our church may have very well been his first experience with God and His followers, but I can assure you...someone in his life; a grandparent, an uncle, a friend of the family, a teacher...someone has been praying for this little boy.  And it is evident that Heaven heard every request for the safekeeping of his heart.

At his offer to make my son toast, I felt a slight twinge of guilt.  *Insert inner sigh here*  Just as I was about to tell him I would do it...he turned to me.

"I will make you toast too!  Would you like toast, Vanesa?"

As I told him that he did not have to do that for me; he responded, "I know, but I want to!"

"Sure, that would be great," I said Levi spoke up with his toast topping requests.

"Make mine with jelly and butter," my son said with a huge smile.

"Mine too!"

He seemed a little bit confused as to why someone would want both jelly and butter.  He even asked us both separately to be sure. I wasn't sure what was going through that mind of his...but I was about to find out.

A few minutes later he sat this plate in front of me at the table.  *Remember the order of the toast toppings....jelly AND butter.  Therein lies his confusion.  Who would put butter on TOP of jelly?  Hahahahaha!*

When the serving heart of a child, makes you toast with jelly and a cold chunk of margarine on top...I highly suggest you smile and say THANK YOU!  It was not his culinary skills that God was pleased with that morning...it was his sweet heart. (Let that sink in for a moment.  Those who doubt their ability to do what God is asking.  Your heart is what He sees!)

I sat and ate every last bite of my toast.  As I chewed...I was completely in awe of how good God has been to this boy who is just now getting to know and experience Him.  I thanked God for the display of His all-powerful protection over this little boy's heart, through this act of love.  

It was not about the toast.  It was a tactical lesson for me. (A cold chunk of margarine really sticks with a girl....both literally and figuratively! Hahaha!)  To me the toast served as a reminder that God truly is a good good Father.  It was a glimpse into the love language of one of God's infant warriors.  He was just learning how to love like God intended it...and he. was. killin'. it!

What about us church?  Are we seeing broken children(people) as damaged, beyond our ability to repair...or as opportunities for restoration.  We don't have to do the impossible.  We serve The One and ONLY TRUE GOD who does that.  We need only to be obedient in Love.

Can we strive to follow the example set by Jesus, Himself?

Can we pray without being asked?
Can we love without expectation?
Can we show grace for behavior that we deem 'unacceptable', according to our upbringing, with the realization that they too need to be taught right from wrong?
Can we gently guide with a soft answer of Truth?
Can we give without expecting even a thank you in return?

That last one can be a hang up for us.  Thank you.  It is simple.  Some would even say it is common sense.  And yet...when a thank you is not offered when it clearly was the appropriate response...it has even the most generous of Jesus followers want to throw in their apron and go home.  Who wins when we stop serving because of what WE did not receive?  Who is likely to have authored that thought anyway?

Jesus came, when He did not have to.  Jesus gave, right up until His time here was done.  Jesus finished the work that He began even when the world hated him.  The thank you's didn't come until the hearts of the lost could grasp the weight of what He had done for them.  The same concept applies.  We expect fruit from a tree that has not yet found living water.

Do not underestimate the power in your prayers for the least of these.  When God lays it on your heart to pray...for a child walking through Walmart with an adult that is yelling insults and cuss words...do not hesitate.  Heaven hears you.  Heaven wars with you.  That child needs someone to love them enough to intercede.  Let it be you!

Matthew 25:39When did we see You sick or in prison and visit You?’ 40And the King will reply,‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did for Me.’