Embrace Your Inner Martha

Mary and Martha, the eternal struggle within every woman’s being. Our hearts’ desire to be Mary: fixing our minds on things above, leaving our “To Do List” for tomorrow to sit with our Father today. Keeping our mind away from the Martha mentality: diligently working on daily duties, forgetting to nurture our relationship with God.

How do you handle the struggle?

“Surely, I have a Mary attitude,” we think if we attend a bible study, read through the bible in a year, do our devotion, listen to Christian music, write #blessed on every post, constantly pointing our hearts and minds back to heaven and God.

Comforting ourselves when we ignore the desire to dig deeper with, “I don’t have time because…” or “It’s not my season right now,” and “I will have more time one day when…” These words replay in our heads while we prepare for the day.

“So many things to do, never enough time Lord.” We silently whisper to the Lord, while we fill our planners, hour by hour.

Sweet friends, we are Martha.

As we read Luke 10:40, “But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.” Looking up Greek and Hebrew definitions, we see “distracted with much serving” means she was over occupied with an abundant amount of preparation. Bustling about, creating overabundance, when a basic meal was all they needed. Jesus, poor on earth, seeking food and shelter from friends, did not need extravagance but sustenance. The sin is not her busyness, or her preparations to bless her guests; it was her consumed spirit with every detail. The sin was her anger she put upon herself while creating the picture perfect meal. Poor Martha. Her excitement to make a simply delicious meal, allowing her time to enjoy the thing that could never be taken away from her (Luke 10:42) should have been her concern. Not frustration over Mary not helping.

The world needs Marthas; women who think and prepare for the needs of others. Preparations were necessary. Someone needed to be concerned with the meal and home, but not engrossed in details, missing the blessings in front of her.

How can we avoid being consumed?

Simplify.

Precious women who love Jesus, we need to keep our lives simple. Don’t throw away your schedule! Simplifying means not being anxious about the things of this world (Luke 12:25-32), but remembering how God desires us to live: “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you (Luke 12:33).”

Everyone’s picture will be different.

Simplicity for me means creating deliciously simple meals, allowing time to enjoy my peeps and make memories at the dinner table. Allowing dishes and laundry to pile, dust bunnies to live another day in order to make time for family or friends. Saying NO to serving opportunities and favors, realizing I cannot possibly serve everyone. Simplifying will bring rest to my spirit. It will allow the time I need during devotions to dig through chapters, write down things that stand out in God’s word, do topical studies, and enjoy my time with Him.

HOW DO I SIMPLIFY? Stop and pray.

Pray the Holy Spirit to reveals it to you. When you begin striving and stressing, and the anger bubbles, ask the Lord to show you ways to make things simpler. Then, LISTEN to the Holy Spirit and be blessed with rest! We ask but forget to listen! Remember the reply Jesus gave to Martha in Luke 10:42 “But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.” When you stop and nourish your soul with the thing nobody can take, your heart will be at peace to listen and receive. So stop, put your schedules down, and pray. Embrace the inner Martha! Prepare and plan. Listen when God says STOP, even if it feels out of character. Don’t be consumed with things but rather with the Creator of all.

Praying for you as you embrace your inner Martha 🙂

Ruby

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Look Up

“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” Romans 8:18

Stories of war, plague, famine, illness, murder, kidnapping, trafficking, job loss, job loss, financial stress, homelessness; the sadness just doesn’t end.

Seems like the heat on life has dramatically increased in the past years. As though the Lord is shaking up His people, allowing hard situations that their hearts may be tried and tested, increasing their perseverance, which will build character, and ultimately, hope.

Romans 5:3 “…but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. ”

Knowing this truth, our hearts should be so set on our future in Christ, we have a peace through trials, recognizing they are only for a time, and the glory in heaven we experience will be indescribable!!

“But you don’t know my suffering! You don’t know my situation! It is too much to bear!”

Look up dear friend….look up.

That’s what Paul is saying in Romans 8… look up friends, we are no longer bound by the law but have grace through the Holy Spirit. There is so much to be hopeful for!! Before you were bound by the law, with your sinful flesh binding you to a nature that cannot please God. but now you have been set free by Christ! you have been given the Holy Spirit, lives in you, will lead you, and will intercede on your behalf. You have been made a child of God through Christ. Now think of the future and how glorious it will be! Don’t worry about these cares of life because God’s plans, no matter how they appear, all work for a greater and bigger purpose; to bring God glory. And despite hardships, nothing will every separate you from His love. Jesus loves you so much He is interceding in your behalf now! So don’t worry about whatever may come or mistakes you may make because nothing can separate you from His love. Don’t lose hope because if God, the creator of all, is for you, who can be against you?

Wow!! What a wonderful hope we have in Jesus! What a wonderful reminder we can cling to! Lay down your trial, trust He is at work, working all things together for good, and keep looking up towards the hope of heaven!

Praying for you always…Ruby

Just Another Christmas…

My heart has been longing to share all day…

Dearest friends…

Christmas is here!!

Let me not begin with the frilly chatter, let me not talk about the desire of getting through the season, let me not talk about making it easier because let’s be honest… it never will get easier. Christmas has drifted so far away from the truth, it makes it almost impossible at times to keep our eyes affixed on what the true meaning is. We have plays, dinners, potlucks and parties. So many traditions and so little time. Christmas eve is greeted with an exhausted spirit and a puzzled heart. As we contemplate where all the time went, we comfort ourselves with the thought of all the good things we have experienced. Hearts are consoled as we reminisce on the new memories we made, not realizing the older memories slowly fade with every new one we create. Then… we fly into the new Year with dreams and plans while we begin to pack away another accomplished Christmas.

Why?

Why have we allowed it to go this far away from the birth of our precious Savior?

Why do we share about His birth in a way that lacks emotion and passion for the birth of the only one who could save our soul?

Why do we say Merry Christmas and sing carols but forget to share this joy with others?

Gazing on the holiday ornaments, pondering the price we are willing to pay to have this beauty in our home, why do we forget so often to count the cost of the cleansing we have received through salvation?

In the “JOY” of the season… although the story can be recited with ease, hearts lack zeal for the true reason we have this holiday. Listening to sermons, reading through the gospels, celebrating advent, we are reminded of why He came and died…

And yet… the simplicity of it all, the simplicity of us sinners needing the saving grace of a Savior can become nothing more than a truth we know and tuck away, hidden behind events and plans.

Well… Today I refuse to follow the current of our Christian culture. I refuse to live a life of mediocrity. I refuse to continue to recite the birth story of the Prince of Peace with a monotone voice! I refuse to lack zeal! I refuse to lack passion! I refuse to lack true joy for this season! I refuse to let the long lines and busy season rob me any longer of the true reason why I continue to live!

So, how can we change our hearts… by remembering!

Remember who God is. Remember what He has done for you. Remember who you were without Him and how your heart felt (Eph. 2:12). Remember how He has healed you of brokeness, redeemed you by the shedding of His blood on the cross (Eph 2:16), reconciled you back into relationship with the Father through forgiveness, and remember the truth… He is preparing a place (John 14:2-3) for all who confess Jesus is God’s Son and believe God raised Him from the dead (Rom 10:9).

You see friends… God loves you more than you could ever imagine.

As He created the world, before mankind was created, he knew. He knew sin would happen. He knew it all, and yet, he created us. Knowing who we would be, He still created us. With the ability to enforce our belief in Him, he still chose to give us free will, allowing us the option to choose Him. Knowing we would sin until we reached heaven, He knew He would need to send His only Son to remove the stain of sin by his death and resurrection. He still chose it; for you and for me. Now… that is a reason to celebrate all year long!

So as Christmas approaches… will you stand with me?

Will you refuse mediocrity?

Will you succumb to all the normal season or will you allow yourself to truly begin to celebrate in a new and fresh way?

Will you choose to take a few moments to remember and reflect on who you were so you can truly reignite the fire of who you are NOW in Christ??

It doesn’t mean we trade in our ugly sweater, stop the parties, avoid all potlucks (although that would help our waistline). Taking a stand simply means we will remember why we have hope. We will not allow the story of the birth of Jesus to pass our lips without truly contemplating the truth of it! We will invite people to come to church with us! We will pray for God to speak to us in a new and fresh way. We will stand in line, thankful for the opportunity to share Jesus with those standing in front and behind! It means the gift list and traditions will not reign over you but rather be a result of that joy; they will bring fresh perspective… “Because I am so thankful for our Savior… I want to celebrate His birth with these people on my gift list!”  you will take time to truly rejoice with other believers; truly fellowshipping as you talk about God’s love and the awesomeness of the saving grace of Jesus. Praise him through song with your whole heart. Be prayerful for opportunities to share this joy and grateful heart, allowing it to overflow onto others… until the day we hear the Lord descend from heaven and give a shout for the believers to come home (1 Thess. 4:16)!

Praying your season is truly joyous as you celebrate the birthday of our Savior!

Ruby

Your Testimony

And let us continue to consider how to motivate one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another even more as you see the day of the Lord coming nearer. Hebrews 10:24-25

 

I am the crazy review lady. I hardly make any purchases without searching for a review or asking someone about it. SO many times I have stopped in the store and checked reviews on items; from toys, food, face cream, appliances, and more. Sometimes it takes so long, the store clerks stop and ask if I need help (usually its because I have kids in the aisle wrestling, racing, or acting as though this is their first experience in a store. Checking the reviews, allows me to deem whether a product is valuable or worthy of purchasing.

Our testimonies of God’s faithfulness remind me of reviews. As we share with others, all God has done in our lives, people hear and are encouraged to continue on. People who have not heard of God or believed before, hear your testimony and become inquisitive, desiring to know more about this “God” who saves you from your sin.

So what is our testimony?

Our testimony is just sharing or testifying to what God has done and is doing in our lives. It is not what you have been doing for God. This seems like such a basic definition but as a young Christian, studying the word, I did not understand what testifying meant. I thought it was something they only did on the wacky religious scenes in movies where the preacher would loudly yell, “Testify” and people would dance around, flailing their arms.

Our testimony is easy since we are experts at our own lives! We can share so much with everyone we meet! You can have coffee and share with a friend how He has loved me despite the seasons where I have lacked faith, lost trust and hope, and when I lost the vision of heaven. Share with your husband as you debrief about your day. Your kids can learn so much in your day to day interactions as you  share of His provision and faithfulness. Family members can learn from you as you gather for a meal and through conversation you share God’s sweet hand at work in your family life. The Wal-Mart employee can learn so much in your 3 minutes at the register as you share that your day is going great because you have hope in a God who is real and promises you eternity and abundant life if you merely believe! The librarian can discover your event of the day that is building your faith. So many ways to share God’s handiwork!

What if life has overwhelmed me and breathing is so much effort right now and I can’t see God active in my life?

First, just rest in knowing that every single person is allowed trials. It is through these trials and seasons that are faith is tested and refined. We need the difficulties to remind us who is in control and where we put our trust, and what our faith will produce: perseverance.(1 Peter 1:6-7) Testing of our faith develops a deeper relationship with Christ.

Second, remember the word and all it says.

Isaiah 41:10 Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

James 1:2-8 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters. whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.

Revelation 3:10 Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth.

Hebrews 2:18 For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

God is using these situations to grow you but He will strengthen you and walk with you along the way. Later, you will be able to share and bless others. How wonderful our God is to use these situations for our good.

So as you walk today, pray for opportunities to share your testimony.

Praise God that He is a God who gives you experiences that will draw your heart closer to His. praise God when you share your faith building experiences, God will use it to not only refresh others but your soul as well.

Proverbs 11:25 A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.

Praying you are refreshed & you take your opportunity to share today.

Love…

Ruby

Draw Near

Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them….

Matthew 5:1-2

I have read this verse  so many times with this familiar  part of Scripture, never seeing the entire picture.

Often  when I envision  Jesus teaching the people, I see His standing, sharing God’s love, as He addresses the crowd. Not as an orator,  full of pride, but as a gracious Father instructing His children. But here we see a different picture.  

Drawing away from the crowd, Jesus desired to seek the Father; His comfort and support, His fullness and peace, and be rejuvinated by the Spirit. When He was alone, the outside noise and distraction faded, leaving an open and ready heart, prepared to listen and obey. Jesus knew the benefits of being alone in the presence of the Father. He desired the same closeness for His disciples. He truly wanted them to experience God in a way that would change who they are, reaffirm their faith in such a way that they would not waiver and would be forerunners and leaders of “The Way” or the early church. He was setting Himself in a place where the disciples could listen to the heart of their Master and Teacher; while allowing them time to ponder the lessons, and life. 

What a loving God we have to desire to draw us away to hear Him and not expect us to hear Him through all the noise. 

Unfortunately,  we often think the opposite. “Lord, I can’t hear you! I hear the pastor talking about being able to hear you but…”(insert notification on your phone, a ring, or you wander off as you begin remembering another thing on your to do list).

Our culture spends so much time enveloped in life, and the doing of things, we miss this very key part of the Christian walk, drawing away. 

It is when we draw away from the noise can we listen. It is when we draw away that we can truly begin to hear the Spirit as He ministers to our hearts, and begin to be refreshed in ways only God can. 

If we choose to ignore taking time to draw close to Him in the still quiet moments, we miss out on one of the most important parts of relationship with God. We miss hearing the heart of our Father. 

The Dance

Leading is always easier when we follow the examples and advice of others before us. You can watch the ideals and patterns of others, discerning through prayer which pieces are meant for you and your family, learning  from every single step. Paying close attention to the reasons why things were done, recognizing every step has a purpose. As you watch each decision, you can begin to envision a dance of sorts, from one situation, carefully contemplating the potential outcomes for every twist and turn you make.
Throughout this dance if life, we learn every step, learn to not squash toes, not to bump others as you turn, learning that in every dance, one must lead and one must follow. These lessons are sometimes short, wearing out the soles of our shoes quickly, and exhaust us as we learn new steps. And other times, we can dance blindly, having done the routine a thousand times before. 

One afternoon, pondering the dance of life, I imagined an instructor, showing us which steps to take next, to complete the dance correctly, transitioning from one step to another flawlessly. Envisioning the patience my teacher would have as some steps would be harder to grasp than others. Attempting to lead when I should still follow because I have not mastered the routine. Finally, when I have an understanding of the dance steps, the instructor let’s go, allowing me to be led by another for further practice, or allows me to lead another, knowing he will be available to aid and correct, should I need it. 

While I dance with another, I remember the soft and gentle hands of my instructor, hoding mine, how every missed step was enveloped with laughter and love. No matter the beat of the song, it felt as though we were dancing on a cloud: effortlessly, freely, and peacefully. 

Every new partner feels different; never like my instructor. Men and women, children, and the elderly, we all take turns spinning, waltzing, tapping, leaping, and even and little salsa (love keeping life spicy). Smells of their clothing, texture of their hands, and even their breath effects my every move. Rigid, flowing, or the constant toe stepping reveals their time spent on this particular routine, or my need for more practice. Despite my experiences, my heart longs for the gracious steps, and gentle instruction of my instructor.

Can you hear the music? 

Each day, every moment, the music changes: a symphony to beating drums to as tribal tune. Partners switch without notice. But you still dance… waiting for the moments when your instructor returns to to guide you through the next steps; whether new or old.

Can you feel His gentle hands holding yours?

My wonderful dance partners in life, we forget so often we have as mighty instructor. He not only knows the next dance moves, He has created the art of the dance itself. Desiring to lead and guide you; will you let Him? Will you allow Him to hold your hand as he leads you through what feels like an impossibility to master? Will you allow the tempo of the song to take your eyes off of His lead in fear of your mistakes to come? Will you choose to forget all you have learned in the past, trusting His movements will guide you to perfection? Will you trust His instruction to carry you through each new partner and each new song? Will you keep dancing even when your shoes are worn, the exhaustion has set in, and your partner is not only stepping on your toes, but drooling on you, and smells like gravy? 

As you dance through today, remember your instructor who watches over you, constantly grabbing your hand and letting go so you can receive more experience, in hopes you will master the routine. How wonderful He is to always watch us, hold us, twirl us, chuckle at our mistakes, gently correct, and trust us enough to allow us to lead others, knowing we will step on their toes and possibly knock others over! He just wants us to listen and learn, always pondering each step, and trusting His instructions. His hands are outstretched towards you: will you follow His lead? 

Grab someone and dance today! Who cares if you know the steps! Remembering who your instructor is and His incredible love for you! Remembering He will lead, just follow Him, even if it’s hard, keep walking sweet friends. Trying to mimic the love of your instructor when you dance with others who smell funny, knock you over, and drool while they focus. 

Love, your dance partner,

Ruby

Peaceful Sickness

Having a cold puts life into perspective.

Your body weighed down by the germ foe, while your body prepares antibodies to defeat this monster, all while you cough and live in a state of misery. Life itself appears distorted as you wait for the comforting return of your “natural” self. With every cough, every ache, every fatigued breath, you wonder how long this cycle will last.

On this day, as I sat, dreaming of a return to ultimate health, taking every vitamin, herb, and natural remedy possible to shorten my sickness, life seems to be slowing.

I hear differently, see differently, live differently.

Sickness  left me exhausted; long periods of sitting are about all my body can handle.

While I  embrace the quiet and still life during this time, I notice sounds, sights, and ponder less.

In the still of this particular afternoon, I witnessed a plethora of movement and life I often miss. Birds fluttering about my heart; stopping at times to consume small victims and morsels near my door. Juliet (my dog) enjoys viewing and imaging the possibilities of the outdoors while comforted at my feet. I can hear her as she peacefully nods off and notice her startled snuffle as she awakens. Watching the swaying trees as though the slight thought of the wind were causing them to shiver. Witnessing the contentment of the goats as they gaily consume bits of our plum tree. balancing on their hind legs, extending their reach, all for the hope of just one more leaf. Watching the imagination of my daughter as her mind begins to envision a thousand impossibilities, and in her world, she creates reality. With every bounce, she takes another breath as though she is competing for an Olympic medal. Her heart and inquisitive nature, as she inspects blades of grass that fill her dream land. Bees, who I thought were touring the yard for potential pollen, have actually created a home outside my patio door, in the eves of the house. While I gaze outside, the stagnant hum of the refrigerator brings a calm to my tired body. The dishwasher breaks the silence with every rinsing whir. My mind is thankful for the quiet as every blink and every cough have taken up every bit of energy my body can barely muster.

But my mind… that’s another story.

My mind is empty, hallow, longing to ponder great things, desperate for God’s word to flood and fill it but the coughing and headache leave it exhausted and ready for sleep. The day is long as I attempt to remain upright. As the night creeps in, the quiet has returned as everyone retreats to their beds, and my mind is awakened with countless words.

As I embrace the truth: I am sick again, I wonder what the Lord will teach me through this. How will the Father of all use the common cold to show me His truth, His love, and His perspective?

Normally, I am embracing quiet to hear the leading of the Spirit. I rejoice in the still as I ponder His mighty nature.  But on this day, I didn’t hear Him. I didn’t feel Him leading, and truly, all I could do was internally repeat, “Keep your eyes open a few more hours and you go to bed early tonight.”  Dry and dull, I remember to breathe in lifeless breath, despite knowing breathing is an involuntary function.

Days come where we don’t hear Him, we may not feel His presence, our eternal perspective may be blurred, and we wonder what good can come from this? Sweet friend…there is always good!!

Lifeless moments remind me of the Psalmist, David. He was far from lifeless. Passion and fire were his life partners regardless of his circumstance. When the seasons were plentiful, victorious, and prosperous, his responses would be praise to the Lord, rejoicing in the Lord, and songs of thanksgiving. But, when the seasons were filled with tragedy, fear, sadness, and burdened, his responses would reflect his distraught nature. When he questioned God, regarding His plans, he reminded himself of God’s sovereign character. David, never allowed the quietness of life to distress him to the point of unbelief. He embraced the quiet with hope to trust his God, his Father.

Quiet may enter your season, whether it be for a few days or for a season. Embrace it as David did. Trust in God as David did: with his entire being, knowing that his Father in heaven was mighty and powerful, worthy, full of grace and mercy on every living soul. Don’t reject of shew away when the Lord allows still moments. Savor them. Be reminded of His goodness that has cradled your soul with a peace and rest despite your surrounding season. Allow the questions of your heart to be asked with an open heart that desires to know, remaining at ease as you expectantly wait for an answer.

And if the quiet scares you, remember David the psalmist and his passionate cries. The Lord heard every single whimper or praise (1 john 5:14). Don’t be alarmed but allow your soul to be at rest, trusting in the one who has given you eternal life through Jesus ( 1 John 5:12). Remember as you are in those still moments, He is God (Psalm 46:10), and rest in that truth. Remind yourself of all the characteristics of God,  that He is never changing (Malachi 3:6), that any discouragement from the enemy may be thwarted. Finally, wait patiently, and in His perfect time, He will answer.

Sometimes the still and quiet is a good place to be to discover beauty in its simplest form. Don’t rush out of it. Ask God to allow you to remain as long as He desires, that you may grow and see the obvious that you have been missing. the delicacy of a blade of grass, the blooming tiny seedling that has begun to wither, the sights and sound of nature itself. Your father, the Creator, has created all of it for you to breathe in and enjoy. Trust it is all for a season. Enjoy the rest for your soul. Refresh your heart on how wonderful and perfect God is to complete every bit of His thought in not only the formation of mankind, but in every blossom, every bird wing, every lady bug, and even in the dependability of the ant. Breathe it in and refresh your soul in the still and awesome perfection of His handiwork.

Psalm 62:1-8… “I wait quietly before God, for my victory comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will never be shaken. So many enemies against one man— all of them trying to kill me. To them I’m just a broken-down wall or a tottering fence. They plan to topple me from my high position. They delight in telling lies about me. They praise me to my face but curse me in their hearts. Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will not be shaken. My victory and honor come from God alone. He is my refuge, a rock where no enemy can reach me. O my people, trust in him at all times. Pour out your heart to him, for God is our refuge.”