Teach Me To Number My Days [Free Graphic]

gain a heart of wisdom

A couple of years ago, when I went through some health issues, the Lord graciously directed me to this verse and, through lots of time in prayer and reflection, prompted me to make a series of life changes centering on balance between work/family and abiding/rest/self-care.  I’m still learning – and re-learning – some of those lessons, as this verse remains in a central location over my desk.

As we journey toward becoming more intentional with how we spend our time – and specifically, how we use and unplug from technology – I’d encourage you to consider this verse, as well.  In motherhood – and life – it is so true that the days are long but the years are oh so short.

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As my oldest is now seven (and a half, as she reminds me) and my “baby” three (yes, and a half, sigh), I realize this often while looking back at old pictures that seem but a few months ago with a catch in my throat.  None of us know how much time we have here on this earth, but we can certainly do our best daily to make the most of it.  That’s my heart in writing this series.

Lord, “Teach me to number my days, that I may gain a heart of wisdom.”  As a reminder, you’re welcome to download and save the verse graphic to use as a phone or computer screen background, or however you choose.

 Click here to read the other posts in this series.

Shine Your Light – Online & Off

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My Dear Daughters,

It’s been a sad week – and really, a sad couple of months – for our nation and world.  Mass shootings, devastating hurricanes, terrorist attacks… the news – and my social media news feed – is a lot to take in.  And most days, I honestly have to limit how much I do take in.  The state of our surroundings, and even our own hearts sometimes, can point us toward feelings of despair.  But… praise God, we don’t have to stay there, for He has made a way for us to experience hope in the face of adversity.  The Lord’s love, faithfulness, and provision in difficult circumstances are repeated themes throughout the Bible.

Through trusting Jesus, even in our troubles (which should come as no shock, as He shared that we will have trouble in this world) we can step into His promise-command to “Take heart, for I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).  But Jesus didn’t tell us to live hopeful, contented lives while quietly keeping it all to ourselves.  In the sermon on the mount, he commands His disciples, and others in the crowd, to “let [their] light shine before others…” (Matthew 5):


13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.

14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.


I’ve been studying the sermon on the mount with some precious friends from small group.  We recently had such a good discussion about salt and light and how important of a function they play in our lives.  Can you imagine food without salt?  Even in sweets, salt enhances the flavor.  A little bit goes a long way.  And we take for granted the power of light until the power goes out on a stormy night… but remember it’s power when a tiny candle’s flame or flashlight’s glow helps us to see again.  Likewise, we hold great power – and great responsibility – as the “salt of the earth” and “light of the world” to fulfill our purpose to glorify God.

So, what does letting our light shine look like in this day and time of seemingly constant connection?  Obviously, we can shine Jesus’ love and hope through our daily words, actions, and interactions with the people physically around us.  But what about in our online presence?  How can we be intentional about shining our light there as well?

A good place to start is simply by focusing on love.  Love for our Lord, and love for one another – the greatest commandment.  You can’t go wrong by celebrating and sharing love – and the True Source of that love, Jesus.

What might that look like?  I don’t think there’s necessarily one “right” answer, and we should each pray about what we should do on a daily basis to step forward in obedience.  Here are a few ideas…

  • Search for the good in the world around you – what you dwell on, what you notice, you will find, whether good or bad!  Cultivate, and share, an attitude of gratitude.
  • Look for the helpersTake it from Mr. Rogers… “If you’ll look for the helpers, you’ll know that there’s hope.”  Seek out stories of those selflessly helping in a tragedy.  And figure out how you can come alongside them or add to the efforts to help in your own way.
  • Be an encourager – There are so many hurting hearts around you.  Look for needs and symptoms of hopelessness in others’ lives/posts, and as you can, be faithful to pray for, encourage, and point them back to the Truth and hope of the gospel.
  • Share the Word – What is the Lord teaching you through the Bible that could encourage someone else, or point them to the Truth?  The Lord promises us that when His Word goes out, it won’t return empty (Isaiah 55:10-12).  Of course, we should be careful to not take isolated Bible verses out of context.  But if you feel prompted to share something with someone, you should obediently do it!

There’s plenty of darkness and negativity to go around on social media, for sure, but that just means there’s all the more space for light.  I pray that, as you grow in grace and truth, you are continually able to see the good, be the good, and shine your light ever more brightly – online and off.

“Let us hold unswerwingly to the hope we profess, for He who has promised is faithful” (Hebrews 10:23).

Love and Light,

Mama

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A Heart Like His in a Constantly Connected World

A Heart Like Hisin a Constantly Connected World

Photo Credit:  Jeff Coleman (my talented husband)

We live in a world of constant connection.  The Internet and handheld tech tools have changed the way we do life in constant connection and information… arguably, for both the better and worse.  From the time we wake in the morning until the time we go to bed at night, we’re juggling between what sometimes feels like a never-ending stream of texts, calls, emails, Google searches, social media notifications, and to-do’s… not to mention our (over?)scheduled “leisure” activities of choice.  Busy has truly become the 21st century American condition.

But what if our quest for activity, community, and relaxation is actually handing us the opposite of their intended outcomes?  What if what we really need is more stillness… margin… rest?

Stillness is a repeated theme in Scripture.  The Lord calls us to “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).  But it’s hard to be still and sit in silence when our phone, laptop, Netflix, fill-in-the-blank is an arm’s reach away.  A decade ago, when you were waiting in line, what did you do?  Maybe talk to someone next to you, or just sit quietly and think?  Nowadays, my tolerance for stillness, for boredom seems a lot lower.  There’s always an email that needs attention or something to see, to read, to learn, to do.  I’m too often reminding myself to put my phone away and just be.

For the past couple of years, the Lord has been prompting me to examine my heart as it relates to how I focus my time and attention, to how my habits are cultivating stress or rest.  And, if I’m going to be effective in doing that, I must take a hard look at how I’m being intentional about connecting with – and disconnecting from – technology.  Activity isn’t bad, and technology isn’t bad… but anything in excess can distract and numb our hearts, and if we are honest with ourselves, even become idols.

Constant connection has a tendency to leave me feeling frazzled, overwhelmed, striving, even apathetic.  But, praise God, Jesus calls us to something better – to set aside our Martha ways and sit at His feet like Mary.   To be intentional about setting aside distractions and focus on the one thing that is needed (Luke 10:42). To soak up His goodness and enter into His peace, freedom, and rest – the only true, lasting rest for our souls.  To redirect our hearts and desires to become more like His – for our good and His glory.

Each day, you and I have a choice to be intentional about how we connect with Jesus and with people – both in-person and through our devices.  May we be granted grace and mercy to choose well, and to get back on track when we fall astray.

This morning during my walk/worship time, I was greatly encouraged by the words of a favorite song.  This is my prayer today for me, and for you:

Heart Like You by Love & The Outcome

“Burn bright
In my life
Burn away the things
I hold tight
Give me
Eyes to see
Your Kingdom
The way You want it
To be

What can be worth more than You
What do I have I wouldn’t lose
If it means You and I
Look more alike
That’s what I chose

I’d give up the world to find my soul
Pour out my life, give You control
I just want to be what You want me to be
I just want a heart that’s true
A heart like You
I just want a heart like You”

Oh, for grace to trust Him more!

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Fear, Faith, & Following on the Day After Easter

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Yesterday was Easter – what many consider the most significant day of the year in the Christian faith.  Perhaps you experienced a glorious Easter, filled with beautiful worship, family time, laughter, and traditions.  Or maybe your happiness was subdued this year by grief, loss, or loneliness.  In either situation, we can choose to cling to the joy of Christ’s resurrection, which pervades all circumstances, and find great hope in relationship with a real Savior, who humbled himself to an extent to be able to truly relate to both the mountaintops and valleys of this world.

For our family, this Easter weekend was a beautiful, memorable time, with many awesome reminders of Jesus’ sacrifice and celebrations of His resurrection.  The older I get, the more I try to live in, treasure, and soak up moments like this – knowing from past experience that each day is a gift, with the good times graciously sprinkled across difficult times of pain and suffering.  Having come to faith in Christ as a child and growing up in the church, the story of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection is very familiar, though sacred, to me.  Once again this year, in the days leading up to Easter, I prayed that the Lord would reveal to me a fresh perspective on the Easter story, and He did.

In one of the services we attended, the preacher focused on the element of fear at the scene of the Resurrection, and in another service, the theme was how the resurrection changes everything.  As the women approached Jesus’ tomb to anoint His body, they were surprised to see an angel, who commanded them to not be afraid, and explained that Jesus had risen from the dead and could be found in Galilee (Matthew 28:5-7).  “So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples.  Suddenly, Jesus met them. ‘Greetings,’ he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me'” (Matthew 28: 8-10).  This same series of emotions mirrors the Christmas story, when the shepherds encountered the angels in the field where they worked, afraid – then sent to the experience the newborn King firsthand and go tell of the Savior’s birth.

Do you see a pattern?

  1. Experiencing Jesus
  2. Emotions of fear/awe/joy
  3. Obedience – go/tell/do

When we truly experience Jesus, we can’t help but be changed.  It’s a natural overflow of encountering the love and power of the God of the universe.  Fear is also a natural, inevitable part of that experience – that we, as flawed, sinful men/women might even be allowed to enter into the presence of a Holy God, much less be invited to participate in His work, is mind-blowing.  We have two choices in reaction to these feelings of fear:  1. Focus on the fear, and allow it to paralyze us, or 2. Trust God through our fear, as we step forward in obedience.

A few months ago, I found myself awake in the middle of the night, struggling with a bad sickness and pondering a decision with big implications.  I came across a video of Jill Briscoe, a missionary in her eighties, and the Lord used her passionate message to speak straight to my heart and situation.  The part of her story that stuck out to me was her wisdom on fear and faith.  In essence, fear precedes obedience, and obedience precedes courage.  We first obey what the Lord is calling us to do; then, the courage will follow.  The Lord delivers courage as a result of our faith.  This principle is evident throughout the Bible, and in the testimonies of countless believers since.

“Courage isn’t a feeling that
you wait for. Courage is doing when you don’t have courage. Courage is
doing it scared.” – Jill Briscoe

So, what do we do on the day after Easter?

We allow the Truth of the gospel message to penetrate our hearts.  We humble ourselves before the Lord and listen intently to what He is calling us to do.  We feel the fear, and walk forward in faithful obedience to follow Him anyway, often in defiance of our personal comfort zone or conception of logic, knowing His path is better than anything promised by this world.  As Briscoe said it best, “you go where you’re sent, and you stay where you’re put, and you give what you’ve got until you’re done.”  Oh, for grace to trust Him more!