Tag Archives: sacrifice

Whether You Have A Valentine or Not

celebrate valentine

I love love.

It’s the basis of the stories I write. There’s nothing I adore more than a swoon-worthy story about a man and woman falling in love.

So, you’d think I’d love Valentine’s Day, right?

Truth is, I don’t. I think it’s a semi-ridiculous holiday that’s commercialized and doesn’t really celebrate anything except spending money. It can be fun, sure, but it seems rather silly to me to feel obligated to celebrate something on one day that should be celebrated every single day.

And another truth is that not everyone has a Valentine.

There are those who are single because they are still waiting for Mister or Miss Right.

There are those who are single because they’ve chosen to be.

There are those who are in relationships that are anything but loving.

Not everyone has someone who loves them the way that God intended love to be.

Yet, we can still focus on love and let it warm our hearts and our souls.

If we’re supposed to celebrate love today, let’s celebrate LOVE. The kind that breaks down barriers and goes beyond cards and teddy bears and chocolates. Let’s celebrate the love that binds people. And let’s celebrate the ultimate Love.

Let’s celebrate the love that allows a man to escort his niece to a father-daughter dance because her father can’t attend.

Let’s celebrate the love that has a little boy deliver flowers to his favorite aunt at work.

Let’s celebrate the love of a woman being there for a friend who is going through a tough time.

Let’s celebrate the love of a solider putting his life on the line to save the life of a fallen comrade.

Let’s celebrate the love of an adult caring for his aging parents.

Let’s celebrate the love of a teacher who goes above and beyond for her students.

Let’s celebrate the love of a grown son who is helping his own father turn his life around.

Let’s celebrate the love of those who are willing to open their homes to children in need of a safe place to sleep.

Let’s celebrate the love of families serving overseas to save lives and bring the Gospel to the lost and hurting.

Let’s celebrate love.

(The above examples all came from people I know.)

Let’s celebrate the ultimate love– the love of God for all of humanity. He loves us so much that he was willing to send his son to die on a cross for our salvation.

hands reachingYou might be in a place where you, too, think Valentine’s Day is ridiculous.

Perhaps you’re waiting for your forever Valentine. This season of waiting can be very challenging and some of you may even question whether or not you’ll ever find someone to love you unconditionally.

Whether or not your true love will ever come in human form, the blessing of your life is that today, right now, you can celebrate a True Love in a form that is greater than can ever be demonstrated by humankind. God’s love for us is overwhelming. It’s unconditional and it’s real. It is a reason to celebrate!

My prayer for all of you, friends, is that you will celebrate today, even on this silly, commercialized holiday, whether you have a Valentine or not. Celebrate demonstrations of love all over the world–celebrate the Ultimate Demonstration of Love.

Celebrate how love changes the world, one life at a time.

Share with me: What act of love have you seen demonstrated lately that really touched your heart?

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For Those of Us Who Are Bad At “Quiet Time” — How To Do It

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Yesterday I posted about how I’ve always been pretty slack at having a regular Quiet Time.

It’s only been in the past calendar year that I’ve established a Quiet Time, but it has made all the difference.

Yesterday I discussed Why We Need Quiet Time.

Now that you know why you need it, here are some tips on how to make the most of devoting daily time to God.

Tips for establishing your own Quiet Time:

— Become a morning person. Okay, I’ve probably lost some of you now. I know that for some of you it’s impossible to find time in the morning for this. I also know that some of you are murderous before 9 am. But it’s worth it.

I’m going to tell you what you need to do. And you won’t like it. And you know it’s coming. Yes. You have to get up earlier.

I know, I know. I happen to be a morning person (don’t hate) but I also love and cherish sleep. So when my alarm goes off and it’s still dark out and no one in my house is stirring, it’s painful. The bed is warm. I get little sleep as it is. It would be so easy for me to hit that snooze bar again and roll over.

But Jesus is more. He is more important. He is more precious. He. Is. More.

Isn’t he? If I believe it, am I willing to get up early to show him? If I’m not willing, what does that say about me– about my dedication to following him?

Some would argue that Quiet Time at any time of day is acceptable. Let’s be clear– I agree 100%. God doesn’t care what the clock says, as long as you are spending time with Him.

But having quiet time in the morning isn’t as much about God as it is about you.

When you establish your quiet time in the morning, before your day has begun, you set a precedent for your entire day. Your focus is on the things of God, and your day begins at the feet of God, hopefully in peace, with your mind and heart resting in His presence.

Imagine that– starting your day peacefully with God instead of rolling out of bed and scurrying to get out the door on time.

Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul. Psalm 143:8

Since I began getting up earlier to have regular quiet time, there has not been one day– not one— that I have regretted getting up early. The promises He has revealed to me and the prayer time I have had have made it more than worth it.

This is the part I crave– what I’m learning about God and in return, what He’s revealing to me about myself. I look forward to my quiet time because I know it’s the time of day when God holds me close and whispers His love to me.

Some days I need those whispers more than others, but the time is always a blessing.

But I will sing of your strength, in the morning I will sing of your love; for you are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble. Psalm 59:16

— Find a quiet place to focus. No matter what time of the day you devote to God, try to get away to a spot where you are truly alone, even if it’s just behind a closed door to the bathroom. Do what you have to do to find solitary time.

— Dive into scripture. You can do a “Read the Bible in A Year” plan or pick a chapter and just jump in. Grab a devotional and read that along with your scripture. There’s no “correct” way to spend your quiet time in scripture, just make sure that you’re reading God’s word.

I am currently reading Jesus Calling (by Sarah Young), one or two pages of Jesus Today (also by Sarah Young) and I’m reading through the Psalms. When I finish those, I’ll move on to another book of the Bible and another devotional.

— Make time for prayer. Make sure that some of your moments of quiet are dedicated to praying.

— If you have kids, make sure they understand that this is your time with God and they need to let you have it. Boy1 and Boy2 tend to be early risers, so I have had to set some boundaries for them so that I can make sure I get my quiet time done. They have a clock in their room that lights up– when it turns green, they are allowed to come out of their room. If they wake up before the clock is green, they have to stay in their room and play quietly until it does turn green. This is the perfect way for little ones, especially those who don’t tell time, to understand that Mama needs moments to herself. When they do come out of their room, I often tell them about what scripture I was reading and what I was praying about. I want them to see that I value my time with God. (If you want a clock like this for your kiddos, check this one out.)

— Journal. Write out your prayers, concerns, emotions, what you are learning about scripture, etc. Sometimes I find that journaling really helps me focus, especially on prayer requests.

— Extend yourself a little grace, but not too much. It’s okay to miss a day or two, but make it a regular part of your routine and don’t make excuses.

Show God how important He is to you and He’ll show you His majesty.

Spending time with God has become a highlight in my day. After all, he’s the One who knows me best.

This song by Meredith Andrews is perfect for setting the tone for your Quiet Time.

Share with me: What devotionals or quiet time readings can you recommend?

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For Those of Us Who Are Bad At “Quiet Time” –Why We Need It

Bad at Quiet Time 1

Quiet time.

As a mom of three boys, that phrase is a magical myth. Like unicorns, elves at the North Pole , and wizarding worlds, “quiet time” is up there in the La-La Land of “things I wish were real.”

In today’s world of constant connection, trying to find the time in the chaos of life to sit quietly and focus on God is nearly impossible for many, including me.

Quiet time– moments of peace and literal quiet set aside to spend with God while reading scripture, meditating on it, and praying.

I’ve never been any good at quiet time. While I’ve been a follower of Jesus for most of my life, I’ve spend the majority of my adult life listening to other women talk about “quiet time,” resulting mostly in me feeling jealous and guilty. They had time set aside for God, I didn’t. That was convicting.

But I justified my lack of regular quiet time with the fact that I’ve always been insanely busy– the kind of gal with too many irons in the fire at any given time.

It wasn’t until this past school year began that I finally established a routine of regular, daily quiet time. That’s right– it’s only been a recent addition to my life.

And I have to say, I wish I’d done it years ago. I know now what I’ve been missing. I’ve become a quiet time junkie. I crave it.

That’s right– I crave it.

Now, don’t get me wrong– it is a sacrifice. It’s often difficult to rearrange my time to “make time” for God.

But (and not to dump a ton of conviction on you, but…), the sacrifice that Jesus made for me, the sacrifice God made in sending His only son into this world to take on the ugliness of my sin–it is so huge that the “sacrifice” of my time is nothing NOTHING nothing.

Quiet time becomes my number one priority when I remember that I am God’s number one priority. So are you. Number one.

Why do we need quiet time?

— In this demanding world of instant gratification, we’re glued to our cell phones, computers, tablets, and TV screens. We desperately need time to just sit, connected only to God, which means disconnecting from everyone else. Yes, even our family members. We need to be alone with God, even if just for a few moments. We need to be still. God commands it.

Be still and know that I am God… Psalm 46:10

— Quiet time gives us the opportunity to talk to God uninterrupted, and even more, to listen to God–uninterrupted.

— Quiet time forces devotion and helps us learn dedication.

— It gives us the opportunity to show God that we truly value Him and his word. We make him a priority.

— We need quiet time to help us focus on the things of God, not on the things of this world. When we neglect alone time with God, it is much easier for us to fill that time with things that, in the grand scheme of life and eternity, mean nothing.

— When we feel far away from God, like He can’t hear us or He doesn’t care, quiet time before Him–with Him– is the best way for use to draw closer to Him.

— Dedicating yourself to daily quiet time is worship.

— If we really want to know God, we have to spend time with him. Think about your significant other. How did you get to know this person? Most likely it was by spending one-on-one time with him or her. That one-on-one time was invaluable to your relationship and brought you close together. It’s the same with God. We won’t know him if we don’t spend time with him.

So why do it? What are the benefits?

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— Focusing on God first thing in the morning gives us the proper frame of mind to handle whatever comes our way throughout the busy day.

— God rejuvenates. Better than a cup of coffee or a protein bar, quiet time focuses our thoughts and our hearts to accomplish everything on our to-do lists. He is our source of energy and strength.

— Peace and trust: the two things we long for most. When we take time to be still before God, we establish that kind of relationship with him. We get to know Him so well that peace and trust become easier for us. Not easy, but easier.

— We focus on discerning God’s voice. When we shut off all of the other voices in our lives, hearing God’s voice becomes much easier.

— We learn and study scripture. We get into God’s word which not only helps us to know God, but helps us to know who we are in Jesus.

— We make time to pray. All those things we tell other people we’ll pray about– make time to do it.

God honors and loves obedience. When you are obedient to spending time with Him, he blesses that.

So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you. Romans 12:1 (The Message, emphasis mine.)

But the most important reason we should have daily quiet time, or alone time with God, or whatever you want to call it– is because God WANTS us.

He wants all of us. Every part.

Jesus gave every part of Himself for us. The least we can do is give some daily time to Him.

Want some tips on how to get the most out of your quiet time? Check back for tomorrow’s post!

Share with me: Has Quiet Time always been part of your daily routine, or like me, have you spent too much time struggling to make it part of your routine?

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