I am an Oklahoman by birth, a Texan by current living situation, but claim the world as my playground.I love to travel and hope to someday soon take our family on adventures to far off lands, where we can share God with others and experience all the wonders He has created.
I am a mother of 5 crazy, homeschooling children ages 10 & under, wife to an amazing man, and daughter of the King of the Universe!I enjoy reading, making my kids laugh, cooking, all things natural, learning to play guitar and dusting off my piano skills.One day I hope to run again, but until then I’m learning patience.
Oh, Lord, your ways are not my ways, but I want your ways to be my ways. Many times, however, I struggle and fight your ways. Does anyone else but me seem to have this issue? I’ve had my share of Gideon moments. I’m not always hiding out but sometimes I struggle to understand if this is REALLY what God wants.
I think I struggle with accepting what God wants when it tends not to go along with what I initially want. I don’t always know what I want but there are times, I know I don’t initially want what He is calling me to do. Can you relate?
I think that is why when I read the story of Gideon, I feel like I can relate a little. Here I am feeling like I am not the best choice for the position God is calling me to, but feeling called nonetheless. And I just want to make sure that I know I’ve heard God right!
Gideon said to God, “If you will save Israel by my hand as you have promised—look, I will place a wool fleece on the threshing floor. If there is dew only on the fleece and all the ground is dry, then I will know that you will save Israel by my hand, as you said.”And that is what happened. Gideon rose early the next day; he squeezed the fleece and wrung out the dew—a bowlful of water.
Then Gideon said to God, “Do not be angry with me. Let me make just one more request. Allow me one more test with the fleece, but this time make the fleece dry and let the ground be covered with dew.”That night God did so. Only the fleece was dry; all the ground was covered with dew. Judges 6:36-40
My latest Gideon moment
It started a handful of months ago. An idea popped into my head and I thought, “Well, that’s not a bad idea but I don’t necessarily think I need to do it.”
Like all ideas, I started to vet them out, because if they are not from God, I want to know and stop them immediately.
Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 1 John 4:1
So, how do I vet these thoughts?
I bump them up against God’s word. If all is good, then continue to the next point.
Pray about it.
Specifically ask if this is something God wants me to do.
Then ask if this is something God wants me to do now or does He have a different timeline in mind.
Then pray about accepting it, especially if it is something I didn’t initially want to do. Asking for forgiveness for not following God immediately typically falls in this step for me, too.
Over the past several months, I have been going through this process. I kept getting the green light from God, even though most of the time I would have preferred a red. And then my Gideon moment finally came.
I did everything I felt I was supposed to do to get the ball rolling. I obeyed. But I wanted to make sure this was really what He wanted me to do. I didn’t want to go against His will at all and just felt very torn. So I laid my garment out and said to God,
“You know I want to obey you. I want your ways to be my ways but I’m torn. I’m not sure this is even going to work out because after committing to do a certain job, I realized I forgot to mention that I might be moving, I’m going out of town for a bit, and my availability isn’t flexible at all. Lord, I have to tell them this and if it is not your will, help them to not accept my help. Let me know once again that this is from you and I’m not doing this outside of you. Let them say yes, if it’s from you.”
Truly, with what I had to share, it would have been very easy for them to say no and I sorta hoped they would, but instead I received a cheerful yes.
And then I cried. I cried for many reasons, one being that right now I’m just extra emotional. (We’ve had a tough year. Even though I see and feel all of God’s blessings, it is still a little difficult.) Then I cried because doing this means I will be away from my kids for a little bit. Last but not least, I cried because I realized my pride was standing in the way of what God was calling me to do.
It was the last that got me the most. I always want to be open to whatever God is calling me to do, but in this case, I stumbled over my pride.
I’m thankful for God’s grace, mercy, love, and forgiveness. I’m thankful for God finding ways to show me where pride is still lurking in my heart. He is molding me, just like He is molding you.
When setbacks happen in your spiritual life, realize He will use them for His glory and to mold you into the person He needs you to be. He is merciful and full of forgiveness. May we all seek His forgiveness as He continues to shine light on the darkness lurking in our hearts.
May you be encouraged the next time you too have a Gideon moment. God can take you where you are and then show you why you should wholeheartedly put your faith in Him!
Just for fun, here is a hilarious song about Gideon that a local congregation created for their VBS week:
How many of us grew up with the kitchen etiquette: No dirty butter knives in the jam jar! Use a spoon!
Maybe you are laughing at the absurdity of trying to convince four kids and a husband to follow such etiquette, as you survey a breakfast table laden with glaciers of peanut butter, jelly and Cheerios, lakes of milk, juice, and coffee, and in the distance, slopes of dishes the size of Kilimanjaro threatening eruption… You are grateful to not have one more spoon to wash!
It’s not that it’s a bad rule. The jelly thinks it’s a great rule. But how many of these rules do we hold so tightly to, to the extent of interfering with our joy?
The enemy, often successfully, uses too many things to rob our joy.
It’s time we make a couple of new pacts for Grace’s sake:
NOTHING Blocks Out the Joy of the Lord.
“Neither death nor life, angels nor demons, fears for today nor worries about tomorrow…can separate us from the love of God.” (Romans 8:38, NLT) Since nothing can separate us from God’s love, that in itself should be enough to keep us filled up with His joy!
GRACE Flows Freely Through Me.
“So we praise God for the glorious grace he has freely poured out on us who belong to his dear Son.” (Ephesians 1:6) Extending that grace we’ve accepted from God to those around us will in turn add another drop of joy in our heart.
The list of replaceable things:
Those fancy dishes from that one fancy store that you secretly use when no one else is home because naturally, no one else can be trusted.
That cute vase knocked over by a house guest (wasn’t it a garage sale find anyway?)
The DIY project it took 6 months to complete between sick kids, school projects, birthday cakes, broken things requiring immediate attention and priority repair…
The list of forgivable things:
An excited voice waking the baby
Trash day forgotten, again
Oh, those dishes–is there no one who will automatically rescue the mound without solicitation?!
Toast crumbs in the butter dish
Gloppy remnants of butter in the jar of jam
We can choose to focus on “all the things” that irritate us and allow dissension or we can swing our thoughts in the direction of the graceful, compassionate peacemaker and emanate His character.
— BEFORE WE CAN SWING, WE NEED TO CLEAN! —
How can we change the focus of our thoughts?
Stress, worries, annoyances: these all gluttonously consume much-needed valuable space in our precious heart, emotion & memory vaults. Think about how a vault locks it’s valuables tightly inside, so that without a key, code, or thief, there’s no way in or out. Praise God, there’s a key (to the Kingdom, Christ Jesus), and a code (the Word of God), to protect us and to help us stand strong against Satan the thief! Satan wants nothing more than to break into your heart vault, steal your precious joy, deceive you into forgetting you have God’s Grace, and fill your mind with frustration, bitterness, loneliness, and misery. We have to clean out our vaults and seal them with the things of God.
The list of things that can be removed:
Fretting over mud on the floor
Nagging to lower the toilet seat
Harsh disciplining for an accidental spill
All the other things going through your mind right now
What if we choose to do a clean sweep of the unessential annoyances & worries from within our precious selves, and decide to be un-offend-able (unable to be offended).
Think of the space in our hearts and brains that would be suddenly empty, free, and clear! Like a freshly cleaned out pantry, ready to be restocked. I don’t know about you, but I could use all the extra shelf space I can get–in the pantry and the brain!
Once we get all that sticky stress, anxiety, nagging, fretting, micro-managing, control-freaking, OCD-ing, perfecting and pet-peeving thrown out, we’ve got SO MUCH EMPTY space to fill!
I guarantee by switching our focus to things of real & lasting importance, it will:
1) put us in a better mood–which leads to people who actually want to be around us! (So they weren’t avoiding me because I forgot to wear deodorant?!)
2) gives us energy–no workout session or green grass drink necessary this time (though I am an advocate of all things healthy!) and
3) makes room in our “pantry-vault” to think about lots of other cool stuff.
The list of things to keep safe:
So, think instead on these things. Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is …
Truth – God IS good, His mercies are everlasting (Psalm 100:5, KJV)
Honor – God looks at the heart (1 Samuel 16:7); He looks past the person to the position (child of God).
Right – God will always do what is right. Not opinion vs opinion, His justice triumphs over that which is morally wrong (Isaiah 41:10; Deuteronomy 32:4)
Lovely – How lovely is your dwelling place! (Psalm 84); How lovely are the works of His hands – flowers, butterflies, a hug between siblings, a smile.
Commendable – All that Jesus went through for our sake; It is commendable if someone endures the pain of unjust suffering because they are mindful of God (1 Peter 2:19)
Virtuous – He gives wisdom to all who ask; Be strong and courageous; Display modesty and self-control; She who has clean hands and a pure heart will stand in the Lord’s Holy Place (Psalm 24:3)
Praiseworthy – Why am I discouraged? I will put my hope in God…Yet I will praise Him (Psalm 43:5); Though the house is a wreck…yet I will praise Him. Though there’s yet another toddler mess to clean up, I will praise God for this creative child, and praise the creation made with those tiny hands!
The list of things that summarize:
Clean out all the things from within you that are robbing joy and keeping you from receiving and extending grace. Swing your thoughts to the things of real and lasting importance. May God’s grace and the joy of the Lord fill you. May you share the never-ending bounty of grace with all the people in your life.
I am a recovering Army brat who loves to travel and start new adventures. My handsome husband and I met at Oklahoma Christian University and he whisked me away to Kansas. So, I bought some ruby red high heels and made Topeka my home. I have a rough and rowdy Princess 4-year-old girl, amazing twin boys (almost 3) and a newborn baby girl who all make every day an adventure. We are grateful to be part of an amazing church in Topeka who regularly challenges and encourages our whole family. I have been both a full-time working mom and a stay-at-home-mom and/or both at the same time at one point or another. I am constantly seeking God’s wisdom on “balancing it all” and following His plan for my life, not mine.
A mentor I deeply respect once told me, “Busyness is not a spiritual gift.”
This sage piece of wisdom has resurfaced in my mind more frequently as my family grows. To some degree, life is just busy! It is busy in all sorts of ways, and honestly, we are busy in some way or another in every season of our lives.
How many times have you answered, “Oh, we’ve just been busy!” when someone has asked how you’ve been doing lately? Is that what we should accept as the norm for our families?
As we face a spring and summer full of extra busyness with graduations, trips, weddings, family events, block parties, and holidays, I want to encourage you to consider a couple tips.
Tips to Un-crazy a Busy Summer
1. Don’t let a busy summer and routine change keep you from reading your Bible and spending time with God. As we see with Martha in Luke 10, Martha was anxious and troubled with all her preparations but Jesus wanted her to sit and listen to the “good portion” like her sister Mary. Guys, if I’m like anyone in the Bible, it’s Martha. Don’t be like Martha and me, spend extra time with the Lord.
2. If you have kids, try not to over-extend your kiddos for the sake of attending something. Sometimes, certain family gatherings scheduled smack in the middle of nap time just aren’t going to work. That’s OK.
3. Be intentional about days of rest. My family recently went through a four-day event binge which ended on a Sunday evening. My husband and I realized we never got a day of rest together as a family. There’s a reason God built that in…and even Jesus encouraged his disciples to rest in Mark 6:31. Anyway, that’s not a schedule we plan to replicate any time in the near future.
4. If you’ve committed to “bringing something” find three easy crowd-pleaser recipes for rotation. Easy and delicious is the key. One of my favorites is below. It’s fresh, healthy, and so easy.
In the end, there are some things we need to do and some things we don’t. Setting boundaries for yourself and your family through your decisions on calendar commitments can make all the difference.
Pray for your leaders.Encourage your leaders. Pour into your leaders. Love your leaders. Sacrifice your time for them. Inconvenience yourself.
I had the privilege of praying with a few friends this morning in my home. I guess you could say I called an intervention on behalf of someone who has spent about a decade pouring into me, mentoring me, and loving me, even when I could be oh-so-yucky in heart. No more accepting surface answers that would allow this friend to change the subject away from herself. It was time for it to be about her. (It was actually past due, but better late than never.)
I called in two other dear friends of hers who are business owners with full schedules, at the last minute, to drop what they were doing on a Friday morning and just shower her with love and prayer. Was it hard? Did I have to pull their teeth and convince them to make it work in their busy schedules? No. Why? Because of the way this friend has poured out and sacrificed and supported those in her life without reserve. They asked no questions. Literally, not one question other than “what’s your address”; they just said yes and showed up. It was time to give back what we had so graciously been given from our dear and loyal friend. This was our opportunity to take the initiative and help carry her burdens without waiting for her to ask.
Take a second to picture the leaders and people of influence in your life. Let their faces sweep through your memory right now. Call to mind the specific times in your life that you know their support had a major impact on your life. Now, when was the last time they reached out to you for support? Told you they needed someone to lean on? Showed the slightest amount of weakness? Are those memories harder to recall than the memories of when they were there for you in times of need? These instances are likely few in number.
I sat at a table of leaders yesterday, all women who are leading the charge in some area or another. Strong, competent, capable women. None of them alluding to the slightest ounce of discontentment in conversation or otherwise. My assumption in these situations is that if they appear so put together, there must not be anything too heavy going on in their lives, because otherwise there would be some evidence of it. WRONG! We started off by praying for each other and soon after each lady started sharing what they could use prayer for, my false assumptions were incinerated.
Death in the family, tragic diagnosis in spouse’s health, financial struggles, loneliness, cancer..
This is a small list of what was shared among these women of faith. I was stunned. I could not have imagined the group sitting around this small table was carrying so much pain. Sometimes we have no choice but to press on, so it can appear we are okay, and it can be easy to fly under the radar with our struggles while the pain goes unnoticed. The very true reality is that we cannot walk these trials alone. Leader or not, there is a pouring in that our souls will ache for when we are in a season of suffering. That is why scripture offers us this little tip…
Share each other’s burdens and in this way obey the law of Christ.
I’ve noticed (this is just my observation) that leaders and people in positions of authority are less likely to reach out. We can try to evaluate why, but I think we have much more important questions to ask ourselves:
Are we willing to be more observant in regard to this?
Will we resolve to help them carry their burdens in an appropriate capacity, no matter how big or small the situation calls for?
This can be a little tricky to approach. What do we do when it is time for a shift in the dynamics in a relationship, and the one who normally is pouring out, needs some pouring in? There is no uniform answer or formula. It is going to require us to use discernment, prayer, and put some of that maturity they’ve modeled for us into practice and maybe, for some of us, a little bit of courage.
For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.
2 Timothy 1:7
The last thing we want to do is create another problem for those who are in need of encouragement. If we are not careful a well-meaning but awkward attempt to help could be just that. Another problem. A safe place to start would be to ask yourself some questions about your ideas before jumping the gun. I would encourage you to consider the following:
Have you prayed for them yet?
Will this attempt to help preserve their privacy?
Will this attempt to help cause any kind of inconvenience to them?
Have you first acknowledged it is not your job to try and fix whatever the situation is?
What can you do today to help give your leaders the ability to continue to lead with joy and help renew their strength? Ask God to show you how it is that you can be a blessing of encouragement to those who have already prayed the same for you. I promise you, they have.
Obey your spiritual leaders, and do what they say. Their work is to watch over your souls, and they are accountable to God. Give them reason to do this with joy and not with sorrow. That would certainly not be for your benefit.
Toni Burns was raised in a missionary family, they lived in Italy until she was 11.Upon returning to the states her family worked in South Dakota. While in college at Oklahoma State Toni did a summer mission trip to Ukraine. The following year she moved to Lubbock, Texas to attend missions school.She interned in Kosice, Slovakia for 13 months.After her internship she finished missions school and got a degree in Human Development from Texas Tech.Toni and her family lived in Guadalajara, Mexicofor 10 years.During that time they helped plant churches and minister to the Mexican people.Toni and her husband, Cory, mentored 21 year long interns during their stay in Guadalajara. Currently Toni is a Realtor® in Lubbock, Texas and enjoys ministering to those she helps buy and sell houses.
Summer is my favorite time of the year. I love the warm weather and traveling. Over half my life, I have been blessed to do mission work and travel to other countries. I have worked in Ukraine, Russia, Slovakia, Italy, and most recently spent ten years in Mexico.
There is no greater joy than traveling around God’s creation sharing Jesus with others. Many of you might be preparing to leave, or have a loved one leaving for summer mission trips. I would love to share some things with you that I have learned about missions to prepare you for this great experience.
1. The American way is not the only way.
Yes, we live in a great country and are very blessed in many ways. Please do not expect or want natives to act as Americans do. They are God’s creation just as much as you are, but they might do things differently than you do. It’s not a question of right or wrong–it’s just different. Embrace the differences and praise God that we are all different even though we are made in His image. Praise God for the diversity in cultures.
Enjoy the culture you are visiting. Try new foods, activities, and enjoy the sights.
2. Bless the people, but at the same time make your work simple and reproducible.
It’s fun to bless the natives with neat gifts and crafts from the United States. Just make sure that you are not making it an environment where they think the only way they can bless others is by having neat things that they might not be able to get. Help them see that sharing God’s message can be simple and is reproducible.
3. Don’t make promises you can’t keep.
You will fall in love with people and places on your trip. Please don’t tell them you will come visit or promise to send them gifts, etc. Remember, “let your yes be yes.” It is easy to build a deep love for those you will serve. As you leave you will want to promise them that you will see them again. Hopefully that is true, but realistically you might not ever get to go back. They will hold on to that promise and will be disappointed or bitter when you can’t fulfill your promise.
4. Be more like Jesus every day.
While living on the mission field my husband and I mentored twenty-one interns. One of the most important things we tried to instill in them was that being more like Jesus every day is all that is expected of them. God will do the rest. We go on these mission trips wanting to save the world. If we go with expectations of baptizing and converting we might come home feeling like a failure. This is one of the devil’s ways of discouraging the church. Did you come home more like Jesus? Do you have more of a vision for what God wants? Did others see Jesus through you? Don’t define your success with things that are out of your control.
5. Don’t expect those at home to understand what you have experienced.
You will come back a changed person. Unfortunately many people back home will not understand how life-changing the experience was. They might not even think to ask you about how it went. Before you leave, set up some times to meet with people when you come back. Maybe you can host a breakfast or lunch for your supporters, missions committee, and family. Plan times when you can talk about your experience so you can bless others with what you learned.
6. Have a great time and keep your eyes open to His blessings!
The year was 1982. When I was twenty-seven years old, God began the breakthrough to His prodigal daughter. I was pregnant with our first child. Realizing that my husband and I were not capable of raising a child without God’s help, I decided to find a place to worship. I knew we needed to get back to God. A co-worker suggested a particular church so I went there. It’s difficult to walk into a place where you don’t know anyone, but I met a lot of “friendly strangers” that first visit. I was so happy to begin my walk with God again.
Each Sunday for the next few months, I encountered these “friendly strangers” once a week at worship, bible class, and other church activities. In my ninth month of pregnancy, I waddled down the aisle to the front pew, asking for prayers and to be restored and to become a member of that congregation. What a glorious day for me!
Just a few weeks after placing my membership, our first child was born. A few weeks later, one of the church ladies contacted me about hosting a baby shower for our baby girl at her home. I didn’t want to be impolite and ungrateful, so I agreed to it. But immediately, I started to think, who would I invite? My family lived out of state. I had a few friends from work who might come. This could be an embarrassing experience–a baby shower given in your honor and no guests! I begged my sister to travel from Tennessee to Houston for the baby shower. At least I would have her to share in my embarrassing moment.
On the evening of the shower, I was so nervous. My sister and I arrived early, and the hostesses were so kind and welcoming. I didn’t know all the hostesses, and they hardly knew me. It felt strange for these women to host my baby shower. I began to experience a lump in my throat which lasted throughout the evening. This act of love was a humbling experience. The table full of food triggered another anxious thought: Who is going to eat all this food they have prepared? If a few “friendly strangers” from church attended I would be so excited. And then I had another anxious thought: Who attends a shower for someone who is a mere acquaintance? I admit my head talk was crazy!
The next part of my story is God’s story! He showed me a beautiful picture of his church that night. As a baby Christian, I had never experienced an outpouring of love like this before. When the doorbell rang and guests began arriving, my nervousness turned to excitement. It continued to ring and soon women, both young and old, filled the home. These ladies came together to celebrate and encourage this new baby Christian and her newborn baby. Love, laughter, fellowship, friendship, and food filled not only the home, but my heart as well. God poured out his showers of blessings on me through these wonderful Christian women.
With each gift I opened, I fought back tears of joy for a beautiful church family, tears of joy for God’s sweet provision. This baby shower was God’s version of the feast He prepared for his prodigal daughter who had come home. I don’t remember conversations that night, or who attended, but I do remember how the church made me feel: loved and encouraged.
God used a baby shower that night to demonstrate his love, encouragement, grace, compassion, kindness, and hope. It reminds me of the song “My Story” by Big Daddy Weave.