Hearing and Acting

The strongest foundations are built on rock.

I recently came across a passage in Matthew 7:24-27. It’s often called, “The Wise and Foolish Builders.” It’s a familiar story for me, one I learned in Sunday school as a child. I think there may even have been visual aids.

Jesus tells the story of a wise man and a foolish man. He says that people who hear His words and put them into practice are like a wise man who built his house on a rock. When the rain came and the streams rose and the wind blew, his house did not fall because its foundation was on the rock.

Then, He says that people who hear His words and do not put them into practice, are like the foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rains came; the streams rose; and the winds blew and beat against that house and it fell with a great crash.

But, as a child, I couldn’t fully appreciate the importance of foundations. Sand and rocks were things I played with, not things I would build on.

Fast forward and I know all about sandy ground and sink holes and what happens when houses aren’t built on sturdy ground.

I’m also much more aware of Jesus’ wording here. It’s not enough to hear His words. In other words, sitting in church once a week, or tuning into a television sermon and simply listening, doesn’t fit the bill. He says to be like the wise man, we must first hear his words and then put them into practice. Hearing is not enough.

Our faith is not passive. It also requires some doing. That doesn’t mean we have to go on mission trips in far off lands. That doesn’t mean we have to become pastors. It means we have to do things like love God and love each other. It means we have to care about the widows and the orphans, and all of those who are less fortunate.

These are the actions that grow our faith and we need our faith to be strong because in both instances, Jesus said the rain and the wind came.

Storms come at us on this side of eternity whether we are faithful or not, but those who are wise and listen to Jesus’ words and put them into practice, are able to stand, for their foundation is built on the rock. That beats the alternative any day.

A story of sand and rock reminded me. Perhaps you needed reminding too.

Have an awesome day!
Wendy

Categories: Biblical Wisdom, Building Christian Character | Leave a comment

Choosing to Trust

Frustration is certain on this side of eternity, but trust and obedience is a choice.

One morning last week I was struggling. I was running late for work. I had a million things on my mind. My to-do list seemed impossibly endless, and I was having some serious doubts about my decision to return to work full-time after being at home with my kids for so many years.

The list of tasks waiting for me on my desk that morning seemed insurmountable as well. As I drove, fighting the urge to speed, I prayed. There are those days when we just need to call out the name, “Jesus.”

The Bible tells us that there is power in His name and at the moment, I felt completely overwhelmed and powerless. Hadn’t God led me to this place? Hadn’t I listened very carefully? Had I heard wrong? As doubt and uncertainty filled my restless soul, I desperately pleaded with Him to show His face to me in all of the chaos.

And in my own despair, I weakly asked that I be given the opportunity to be His face too.

I was only two minutes late to work. My day was busy as expected and I had to go and run some school errands. When I arrived at the grocery store to pick up some sandwiches for a meeting, they weren’t ready.

I had ordered them hours earlier. They were supposed to be ready, but they weren’t. They only had three done and I had ordered seven. The woman working there was very apologetic. I smiled and told her it was fine.

As I waited, I read the daily devotion I had neglected earlier that morning. As I waited, I took some deep breaths and felt a calm come over me. As I waited, I acknowledged that this situation was completely out of my control and to be honest, so are the majority of the situations in my life.

There was a line forming in the deli and they were very busy. The woman who was making the sandwiches breathlessly told me that there was only one more to go. I assured her that it was okay.

A moment later, an older gentleman with completely white hair, wearing hiking boots, carrying a shopping bag, walked up to me and said, “You are being very patient.”

Then, he just walked away. I was stunned. I had no idea who he was, or where he came from. I called back, “I hear it’s a virtue!” He grinned and kept walking.

Moments later, my order was complete and I checked out. I walked out of the store much lighter than when I walked in.

I always stand amazed at the way God reveals Himself in so many small ways. I am also amazed at how He blesses us when we choose to bless others.

Frustration is going to happen on this side of eternity. But, obedience and trust is a choice, a choice that often leads to unexpected blessings.

A trip to the store reminded me. Perhaps you needed reminding too.

Have an awesome day!
Wendy 🙂

Categories: Building Christian Character, Choosing to See the Bright Side, Trusting God, Watching for God | Leave a comment

The Best is Yet to Come

To begin the next chapter, we have to turn the page on the old one.

Last week was a blur of activity for me. I work in an office of an elementary school, and it was the last week of school. The activity was nearly constant. We had visitors and speakers. We had a flood of parents coming for lunch just one more time. We had a step up day where each grade level got to visit the next and meet the teachers there. We had a day where the high school seniors who attended our school as children, came through in their caps and gowns and walked the halls one final time.

We had fifth grade graduation to middle school. We had lots of parents and grandparents with lots of cameras all along the way. The kids were all smiles and happiness. But, the parents, had tears mixed with their smiles.

The parents know that each step in their child’s journey is a tiny step away from them and towards independence.

My own daughter, graduated from high school last week. My week was mixed with joy and sadness. I cheered for her on honor’s night as tears slid down my face. I celebrated with her as she donned her royal blue cap and gown, and my eyes swam with tears on and off all day long.

As she marched in with her graduating class, I thanked God for the gift He entrusted me with almost 18 years before. I thanked God for her health and for her beautiful spirit. I thanked God for the friends He has blessed her with along the way and for the new ones He has already sent her to travel with her along her new leg of her journey.

I thanked God for my family who made the trip to come and be a part of her big day. My heart was filled with joy and sadness as I fought tears.

I knew that her world and mine would change forever once she crossed that stage and received her diploma. I knew that it would be the end of a beautiful chapter in both of our lives.

But, I also knew and embraced that it was the beginning of a new chapter as well. As I have poured my heart and soul into loving and nurturing her all of these years, Jesus has done the same. He has sent many other prayer warriors along the way and I know that she has been protected on her journey whether she knew it our not.

I also knew that she would continue to be protected. And as I heard her name called out, I cheered loudly for her, allowing some tears to escape. I felt Jesus hold me close and a little voice inside told me the best is yet to come.

This is how it’s supposed to be and although this mama’s heart mourns a little for the past, I also can’t wait to see where God will lead her and what big things He will do with her.

Change can be hard. But, we simply cannot begin new chapters until we turn the page on the old ones. A high school graduation reminded me. Perhaps you needed reminding too.

Have an awesome day!
Wendy 🙂

Categories: Building Christian Character, Choosing to See the Bright Side, Watching for God | 2 Comments

The Blessings in Adversity

Adversity has a way of forcing us to de-clutter our lives.

A few nights ago, my hubby and I were cleaning up the dinner dishes. I opened the cabinet door underneath the kitchen sink to get out the dishwashing detergent and I found everything in that cabinet wet. There was standing water inside the cabinet.

My heart sank. This was not good. We had a leak somewhere. I reported my findings to my hubby who also doubles as our resident plumber. He joined me as we proceeded to remove everything from the cabinet to dry it off and find the source of the leak.

I have to admit that I was kind of surprised at the amount of stuff that had accumulated under there. I would love to say that I’m one of those people who does yearly spring cleaning and tosses out the things I no longer need, but alas, I am not. We have been in our house for twelve years and I don’t think I have ever cleaned that cabinet out.

I found cleaning items I haven’t used in years. I had a bunch of empty jars, that I had never used. I probably tossed half of the stuff down there.

After some investigation, the leak turned out to be from the garbage disposal. We bought a new one and replaced the leaky one.

I was amazed at how organized and neat the cabinet was after I put the thinned out items back.

That leaky sink made me take stock of what I had and throw away what I didn’t need. It also reminded me that adversity has a way of making us do the same in our lives.

When unexpected and unwanted circumstances rain down on us, we realize that we too, need to take stock of the baggage we have accumulated, whether physical or emotional. We find ourselves asking if the baggage is worth hanging onto. While things like anger, fear, resentment, guilt or pain that we are carrying around, may have served a useful purpose at some point, do they still serve a useful purpose now? Is it possible that those things are just cluttering up our hearts and souls?

When adversity strikes, we often find ourselves praying a lot more and through prayer, we are often able to let go of the negative and hold on to only what we need. It takes a lot of energy to carry those things around and we need that energy to deal with whatever the storm may be.

Eventually the storm passes and when it does, we find our heart and souls more grateful and lighter because we threw away the stuff we no longer needed. I find a lot of grace in that knowledge.

Perhaps you needed a little grace today too.

Have an awesome day!

Wendy 🙂

Categories: Building Christian Character | 4 Comments

A Busy Night with Family

Due to a painting project that I worked on with one of my teens and then a cooking project for a Spanish class, that I worked on with the other one, and the fact that one of the main ingredients for the cooking project, got inadvertently used by my hubby and required another trip to the grocery store, I had no time for a post today. But, I will say, that I’m grateful for my family and their varied interests. I’m also grateful that this school year is drawing to a close. While I’m utterly exhausted as I write this, I feel incredibly blessed. I pray that you find something on this day to make you feel grateful and blessed as well.

Have an awesome day!
Wendy 🙂

Categories: Uncategorized | 1 Comment

What We Plant

We get to choose what we leave behind.


Last weekend my hubby and I attended a celebration service in honor of the passing of one of our church members. He was an older gentleman who was a retired horticulturist. He loved to plant things and had been in charge of planning and planting all of the landscaping at our church. He was also an adult Sunday school teacher and he loved the Bible.

On the day of his passing, he worked on the grounds at the church and then went home and worked in his own garden. He went to sleep that night, next to his bride of 35 years. Sometime during the night, Jesus called him home.

As the pastor and the speakers talked about all he had planted, it occurred to me that I will think of him each time I drive into the church parking lot. When you plant a lot of things, you leave a lot of life behind. You leave some beautiful reminders for those who are still living on this side of eternity, of your time here.

It also occurred to me that he planted some different types of seeds in his Sunday school class. Those seeds have sprouted as well. The members in that class have likely spread some seeds of their own, that they got from him. Those too, are beautiful reminders of his time here on this side of eternity. His memory will live on for a very long time, physically as well as spiritually.

My grandmother planted trees and flowers that are still growing and thriving and she’s been in Heaven for forty-seven years now. I never met her, but I’m named after her and I’ve always held the stories of her close to my heart. Although, she’s not physically here, her memory lives on, not only in the physical plantings she left behind, but in the spiritual ones too.

It seems to me, that we all have a choice of how we will spend our time on our finite journey here. We can spend a lot of time being angry about what was or wasn’t or what is or isn’t. We can spend our time mourning the past. We can spend our time fearing the future. We can spend our time focused on all of our shortcomings or on our own greatness, or we can plant.

We can plant physical seeds to leave reminders, but more importantly, we can plant spiritual seeds of the faith, hope, and love, that is Christ, and those seeds will never die.

A celebration service for a faithful servant reminded me of the many choices before us. Perhaps you needed reminding too.

Have an awesome day!
Wendy 🙂

Categories: Building Christian Character, Choosing to See the Bright Side | 2 Comments

When the Church Gets it Right

Perhaps we should be as excited to share stories about our churches getting it right as we are when they get it wrong.

Yesterday in church, our pastor presented my daughter Caroline, who is about to graduate from high school, a gift from the Ladies’ Group. As he called her up, he said he had music to play for her and the song, “Sweet Caroline,” began to play. The gesture was so thoughtful as was the gift. This mama’s tender heart was moved to tears.

A few more announcements were made and then our pastor recognized a widow who was in attendance. She had just lost her husband the week before. The celebration service had been the day before. Her attendance, when she literally had a dozen reasons not to attend during her deep grief was remarkable.

Both recognitions drew applause from the congregation and I was once again, moved to tears. I held them both close to my heart and I thought about them hours after our church service.

We love to talk about how the Christian Church gets it wrong. The Church is made up of people and people are broken. People will sometimes gossip. People will do and say inappropriate things. People will hurt your feelings.

But, the Christian Church was always meant to be much more than the individual weak and broken people who make her up. The Christian Church was born at Pentecost, baptized and anointed by the Holy Spirit. Its purpose is to spread the love and truth of Jesus Christ. Its purpose is to offer hope to a dark world in dire need of it.

With people involved in that mission, we will inevitably mess it up from time to time. There are those who just cannot accept humanity’s failure and will write off the entire Church Universal, over words or behaviors of one or two people in particular churches.

But, the sad truth is that if we stop attending and participating in the community of church because of something that people did, we weren’t attending for the right reason anyway. When a Christian stops attending worship with other Christians, over hurt feelings and elects to stay at home, who wins?

It’s not God.

What would happen if those of us in strong church communities, chose to share what our churches do that is good?

Yesterday, I witnessed two Christians on very different legs of their journey. One was joyful and one was grieving. Our church reached out to and loved both. We got it right and as we did, I’ve no doubt Heaven rejoiced.

Jesus loves the Church and we are called to as well. A graduate and a widow reminded me. Perhaps you needed reminding too. Perhaps you need to share.

Have an awesome day!
Wendy 🙂

Categories: Building Christian Character, Community | 2 Comments

Fishing Encouragement

When Jesus tells us to cast our net, we should expect big things.

Sometimes we wonder if God can do big things through us. We reason that we are not great speakers, or great at memorizing scripture, or even strong enough in our faith. There are times when we don’t even feel like we are very good people. But, those are the times when Jesus can really step in and show His power.

The Gospel of John tells us that after the resurrection, some of the disciples decided they were going fishing. They apparently fished through the night and caught nothing. Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not know it was Him.

He called out to them and asked them if they had caught any fish and they told Him “no.” He told them to throw their net out on the right side of the boat and they would find some.

They did as they were told.

I think we might be looking at the key to their success. They obeyed Him. They had been out all night and they had to have been exhausted. Haven’t we all found ourselves in similar circumstances? Exhausted. Discouraged. Frustrated.

When we feel raw and ragged, we often want to give up. When we don’t feel up to the task on our own, we are often willing to quit. But, that’s when Jesus can use us the most. That’s when we come to know that our succeeding in His plans for us are not about our own failing human abilities, but His limitless power.

When they obeyed Him, their net was so full of fish they couldn’t even haul it into the boat. Their success was far better than they could have ever dreamed.

The scripture says that there were 153 fish, but the net was not torn, which leads me to believe that under normal circumstances it would have been. Don’t you just love God’s economy? He can use a few fish to feed thousands. He can put an enormous amount of fish, on command, into a net that shouldn’t be strong enough to support them, yet it did.

Just because God created the laws of nature, does not mean He’s subjected to them.

I love this story because it’s a great reminder that we don’t have to be strong enough, smart enough, old enough or young enough to succeed in any endeavor that God calls us to do. We don’t have to be enough of anything because He is more than enough for everything.

And that gives me great encouragement. Perhaps you needed some today too.

Have an awesome day!
Wendy 🙂

Categories: Biblical Wisdom, Building Christian Character | Leave a comment

Bird Lessons

When we trust Jesus, we become truly free.

My family and I were recently working outside on our deck. My hubby left the screened porch door open and a small bird flew in. My hubby and my son immediately went in to try to get the little bird safely out.

The bird was terrified. It desperately flapped its wings to get as far as possible away from its would-be rescuers. It didn’t know they were trying to help. It flew into the screen several times and I was very concerned that it would injure itself.

The door was wide open, but it couldn’t seem to find its way out.

Eventually, they were able to shoo it close enough to the door that it finally was able to fly through it to freedom.

I thought about the struggle with that little bird long after it was over. I thought about how much easier it would have been if the little bird would have worked with its rescuers instead of fighting them. But, it did not understand and so it was afraid.

That little bird made me think about our own struggles in life. Like the little bird, we sometimes fly ourselves into scary places and find ourselves unable to escape. We also often find ourselves flailing about, scared silly, flying into walls.

But, we have a rescuer in Jesus. We have a Savior who reaches for us to help us to safety and to freedom from whatever chains us. However, just like that little bird, we often find ourselves afraid to trust Him. We sometimes have a difficult time believing that His love is real and that His way is the best for us.

And so we continue to fly frantically into the walls of our own making. Until, we have some kind of soul shift. Somehow, for whatever reason a light clicks on for us and we finally get it. Finally, we understand what is so amazing about grace.

Jesus reaches for us and we reach back and then we clearly see the wide open door to freedom. The real beauty is that it was there all along, we just have to be willing to trust Him wherever He may lead.

A little bird reminded me. Perhaps you needed reminding too.

Have an awesome day!
Wendy 🙂

Categories: Building Christian Character | 2 Comments

Birthday Reflections

With every sunrise, we are reminded that God is not finished with us.

As I write this post, I have just celebrated my 47th trip around the sun. While that number blows my mind sometimes and I find myself wondering how I got here, I mean there are times when I literally feel like I should still be getting ready to graduate from high school, not getting ready for my own child to graduate; for the most part, I feel grateful.

I feel blessed to have lived this long. In a society that tells us that every gray hair and wrinkle is something to be ashamed of and that we should all strive to be perpetually young, I feel blessed to have the wisdom that all those trips around the sun have allowed me to acquire.

I sometimes find myself having conversations with my daughter about issues that trouble her and I try to convince her that this or that issue will not matter in the big scheme of things. She sometimes believes me, but I suspect that she often doesn’t. I suspect that many things that trouble her young heart will only be resolved by her own trips around the sun.

I have come to believe that birthdays and age are something to be celebrated, not dreaded. Both are gifts that not everyone is given. Every time I blow candles out, I am reminded that the Giver of my life is not finished with me yet. With every year that passes, He has new things to teach me and new trails for me to blaze.

He has plans for me to make some kind of Kingdom impact. Every tear shed, every blessing, every health scare, every tragedy, every triumph and every trip around the sun, are part of that plan to make me the most effective on my journey here on this side of Heaven.

The same goes for you. But, we have a choice. We can choose to embrace the unique place that we find ourselves at the moment, our age, our health, our circumstances, and give it all to God and ask Him to use it for His glory, or we can become bitter and angry. We can long for yesterday. We can languish over mistakes we have made. We can choose to believe that our best years are behind us.

Perhaps the greatest step that we can make in our faith journey, is the surrender of the idea that we are in control. When we truly do that, we are free to see everyday as a gift and an opportunity.

We are not here by accident. We are here for a reason. A recent birthday reminded me. Perhaps you needed reminding too.

Have an awesome day!
Wendy 🙂

Categories: Building Christian Character, Choosing to See the Bright Side | 2 Comments