Dehydrated Souls

Last week my husband and I had planned to have a ‘date night’ on Friday evening. That afternoon our youngest daughter started complaining of a stomach ache and a head ache. I could tell that she didn’t feel great, but figured that she could rest at grandma’s until we went to dinner. By the time we got back, she had been vomiting and started running a fever.

My husband carried her home (grandma lives next door), and we put her to bed after giving her a dose of Tylenol. She continued to vomit throughout the night and complained that her head was pounding. She was getting dizzy every time she would stand up, and so naturally, she rested all day on Saturday. I figured rest would be the best thing for her because she looked and felt so terrible. In the middle of the night on Saturday, her fever reached a very high 104.4* temperature, and she was completely lethargic. She would hardly respond and she had lost all color in her face. Her body was very limp, her face a pasty pale, and her skin extremely hot. We decided that we needed to take her to the Emergency Room right away.

We arrived at the E.R. and they checked her vitals, her temperature, and swabbed her to test for the flu. The Doctor came in to tell us that the flu test came back negative, but that the test wasn’t accurate for every strand of the flu, and that our daughter was visibly very sick, and therefore they believed that she did have some strand of the flu. Her heart rate was elevated, and according to the blood work, her kidney function was also a bit elevated because she was very dehydrated. What was most concerning to the Doc was that Aubrey was very “dry”, she said.

They did a quick finger poke to check her glucose levels and then called for the nurse to come start an IV. The most important thing was getting fluids into her body.

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We had tried getting her to drink at home, but with all of the vomiting and feeling so miserable, she just couldn’t bring herself to.

The nurse got the IV in and started the fluids. As the bag began to empty drop by drop into her little body, we could visibly see a difference in her face. Color began to come back into her pale cheeks. By the time the bag was half empty and her body half full of the fluid, she sat up in the bed and smiled at us. It was amazing to see how much the fluids were helping!

We watched as our very sick little girl was getting rehydrated and the results were literally mind blowing to me. She was barely responding hours earlier and now she was talking to us and even sipping on a cup of sprite that the nurse had brought her.

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I was so stunned at the results of this that when I got home, I “googled” it…

Here is what google says – “The human body needs food and water to survive. A human can go for more than 3 weeks without food, but water is a different story. At least 60% of the adult body is made of it and every living cell in the body needs it to keep functioning.

I started thinking….wow, I’ve always known that water was important…but, it’s not just that it’s important, it is VITAL… we NEED water, it isn’t just something that we should drink, but it’s something we NEED to drink….and then it hit me….

is it any surprise then… that Jesus is the Well of Living Water!

Yes, our bodies NEED water to live…..and our souls NEED Jesus to live!

In the Book of John, Jesus offers the woman at the well water that only He gives, and He offers all of us the same water that He offered her that day.

So many days we go without drinking from the Well that He has provided for us, and then we wonder why we start feeling so miserable.

We drink from every other “well” ….Television, Social Media, and even Other People….and it’s not that these things are bad in and of themselves, but when we spend all of our time “drinking”  down these things, and not near as much of our time drinking down His Life Giving Water, it’s no wonder our souls get dehydrated.

We feel weak in the faith because our heads pound with discouragement, and our bellies hurt from being full from other “wells”, and so we find it hard to drink from THE WELL. We get lethargic spiritually, and even confused on which direction to go in our lives because we aren’t communicating with Him in prayer and can’t get clear direction. We stumble around trying to find our own way. We get dazed and dizzy by the blur that we live in because we are no longer hydrated with His presence….His Life Giving Water!

We walk in and out of church services with dehydrated souls, hoping to drink just enough to sustain us until the next service….but friends, this is not the way God has designed the Christian life to be, and church is not the only place that the Well is located.

Jesus, Himself – He is the Well!

The Well is available for you on a Monday morning when it’s hard to get out of bed and start another week. He’s there on a Wednesday afternoon when the week already feels long, and you need strength to keep going. He’s there on a Friday evening when all is well, and you just want a refill of this precious water that only He gives. On the good days and the bad ones, He is there waiting for you and me to come draw Water for another day.

We don’t only physically drink water once or twice a week, our bodies could never survive that way.

So….what makes us think that our souls are going to stay spiritually hydrated on a couple of drinks of water from this Never-ending Well each week?

We’ll never survive that way!

We need Him, oh how we NEED HIM!

If your soul is dehydrated today, I encourage you to run to the Well…get rehydrated and drink as much as you can every single day because He’ll never run dry!

With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. ~ Isaiah 12:3

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Keep your souls hydrated, my friends ~ The Well is Always Full!

Taking Off My Mask!

The mask…we all have one.

Whether we admit it or not, it’s there. Some of us have been brave enough to take it off, but seems like before we know it, at some point we slide it back on.

There it sits, strapped on our face, hiding all the true colors of our lives, the things we don’t anyone to know or see.

If you’re like me, it’s such a relief to get home after an incredibly uncomfortable time of wearing the façade, ahhh- to slip it off and breathe.

Some of us wear our masks more loosely than others. We all know that friend who pretends, and for “their sake” we pretend with them…but is it really for their sake?

If we’re honest, we can say that it’s more for our sake…because it can be uncomfortable to see some folks without their mask. That might mean that we have to actually be a genuine friend and be with them in the mess of their lives.

To talk face to face, no pretenses, no false claims, or fake smiles…might even get a little dirty while delving into the grime of their life to help pull them up and lead them to the foot of the cross. To weep with them, pray with them, to feel with them.

So, even though this is hard to do and I have been very reluctant…today is the day!

This 2nd day of a brand new year  I am choosing to yield to the prompting of my Savior to take off my mask and be real….one day at a time…because let’s be honest, some days it’s easier to do than others.

On the days where everything is going as planned and everyone is looking just right, it’s easy to post pictures on instagram and post an inspiring status on facebook.

But it’s days like today… where I have looked long and hard inside myself and I see so much of myself that is broken, that’s when it’s hard to walk outside the door without my mask.

It’s hard because everyone else seems so …fine, so put together. But if we’re honest, we’re all a bit broken. There are those who miserably wear their masks and respond with snubs and snears, but there are also those who paint their masks with smiles and a friendly “I’m doing fine.”  Yeah, them too!

Ann Voskamp says that masks can be garishly embarrassing things.

And oh how I know it’s true…the times that I have screamed at children all the way to church and just before walking in the door slip my smiling mask right on. The times that I have cut my husband down with my sharp words and excused myself because I was just angry or hurt. The times that I have refused to use my gifts because I have allowed anxiety and stubbornness to use up the best parts of me. The times that I have sat back when I should have stepped up. The times that I have refused to live out my passions because it would just be too uncomfortable. The times I have chosen to enjoy the bliss of ignorance instead of applying my heart and mind to truths that would change me.

Yeah, this mask of mine has been my out…my disguise, my barrier. I have used it as protection.

In reality friends, that’s what we all do. We wear our masks to protect ourselves. To protect ourselves from being rejected.

It never feels good to feel the pain of rejection. But I’m learning that there isn’t a mask pretty enough, good enough, perfect enough that will protect you from it.

Jesus, Himself was rejected and He WAS perfect.

In the book ‘The Broken Way’, Ann writes : Being brave enough to lay your heart out there to be broken, to be rejected in a thousand little ways, this may hurt like a kind of hell – but it will be holy. The only way in the whole universe to find connection…is to let your heart be broken. Love only comes to those brave enough to risk being brokenhearted.

She says this…”In the woods where acorns have broken into oaks, where seeds have broken into wheat, your scorched soul can feel it: you were made to grow into something more, but that only happens if you will be brave enough to break.”

So, today I’m breaking my mask and I’m asking the Lord to break me, so that I, too can be made into something more….someone more…that He can use for His glory!

Won’t you join me? Be #maskfreein17

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Watch Mommy

Getting ready around here is much different than it use to be. All 4 of my children can independently dress themselves now, brush their own teeth, comb their own hair, and put on their own shoes. I remember a time though, that this was not the case.

I would be frantically zipping jackets, tying shoes, brushing teeth, and fixing hair…it seemed like a lifetime before we could actually leave the house. I felt rushed and flustered a lot of mornings before even getting out the door.

I must admit that it’s pretty nice having them be more independent, although there are many times that I miss them needing me like they once did.

I can remember teaching them to get dressed. “Watch Mommy” I’d say as I would show them how to put an arm in the sleeve, how to snap a buckle, how to brush their teeth in circles. The list goes on and on.

If you were to spend a day in the Neville home when my kids were learning to be more independent, you would have heard me say those words a lot … “Watch Mommy”.

It is by the ‘watching’ that we learn. Whether we realize it or not, we have all learned behaviors from watching those who were parenting us. Thus why we have the saying (and it’s one that I don’t like) … ‘ Do as I say, not as I do’.

Most times people say it when they’re doing something that they don’t want their children to do. In reality, we know that they will more than likely repeat something that they’ve seen us do, rather than just listen to what we say.

This morning in prayer, scripture rolled over and over in my mind, and I knew that the Lord was speaking to my heart.

In Deuteronomy 6, we see a commandment to observe the statutes of God and to teach them diligently to our children.

It is not enough that we just tell them about the Lord, but that they see us living out the life of Christ in this world.

Just like when I was teaching them to brush their teeth… “Watch Mommy”.

Paul says in 1 Corinthians 11:1 “Follow me, as I follow Christ”…

This should be us to our children, but so many times we wait for the preacher or the sunday school teacher to teach them of God and imitate Christ to them.

My heart aches at the thought that I will have taught them ‘by example’ how to care for their bodies and not their souls.

Their bodies will one day pass away, but their souls will pass over into eternity…will they have known how to yield their souls and submit their lives to the Lord by my example?!

Will they have heard me pray boldly enough? Worship passionately enough? Reach out to the least and the lost? Will they have seen me seeking the God of my soul enough to know how to do it themselves?!

I teach them everything else, by example…wash your face like this, make your bed like this, but this by far is the most important and somehow I neglect it the most. Thinking that they will just figure it out on their own. Thinking that going to church and having family devotions is enough…oh but it isn’t!

Living out my love for Christ before their eyes, in all that I do and say, and then crawling on my knees and not just saying a quick bedtime prayer with them, but a for real ‘God is hearing us’ kind of prayer, and then rising up the next day, ready to take action…reaching out, actually being the church instead of just taking them to church. This, THIS!! is what it looks like – ‘ Watch Mommy’ – this is what it looks like to love Jesus and serve Him with your life and soul, not just your words!

Oh… help me, Heavenly Father to lead my children to You! That they may know how to get to know You, by Watching Mommy! My greatest desire for them is that they will know You! Nothing else in this life matters if they don’t know You! Help me, Lord – not to neglect the greatest job that You’ve given me – to lead my children to You!

Amen

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Tell Me About Tabitha

We are introduced to a woman named Tabitha in the ninth chapter of the book of Acts. She is identified as a disciple. In the same verse that she is introduced it says that she was a woman full of good works and charitable deeds, which she did.

Notice the very first things that we learn about her… it isn’t what she looked like, we don’t know how old she was, how much money she had, not even how long she had been a Christian, but we do know that number one, she is a disciple of Christ, and number two, she has works that follow her faith.

She wasn’t satisfied with just being saved, but rather because she was saved she wanted to reach out to others with the same grace and love that she had experienced from her Savior.

There are many people who give to charity and do good things, but the only deeds that make an eternal difference are those that flow from hearts that genuinely belong to the Lord. Tabitha understood the strong thread of grace that had been sewn into her own life from the Lord, and therefore, with her ‘needle of love’ she decided to sew garments for others. All the while, she was sewing much more than just clothes.

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The scripture goes on to tell us that she became sick and died. We know that Tabitha was deeply cared for because when the people that knew her heard about Peter, one of the 12 disciples, being in the next town they sent for him to come to where she laid.

When he came, the widows stood by him weeping and showing him the garments that she had made for them.

I can picture it now… Peter standing before them, seeing their broken hearts as they tell him about Tabitha.

I’m sure they were sharing wonderful memories with him, as most of us do when we lose someone who meant a great deal to us. Memories about her kindness and friendship as she would stitch their garments with joy. Tabitha was much more than just a seamstress of clothes….she had stitched faith, hope, and love into the lives of those who knew her.

I’m sure they were explaining to him how great she was and how not having her with them was going to leave a gapping hole in their community and in their hearts and lives.

As I thought about the life of this wonderful woman, I stopped to think…would my death leave such an empty space in the lives of people who know me, would yours?

Tabitha’s life had made such an impact on so many other lives because of the impact that Christ had made on hers!

There is no doubt that sewing was more than just a hobby to her…it was a way to serve the lowly and worship the One whom her soul loved.

Peter sends the people out of the room where Tabitha is laying lifeless. He prays and speaks to her… “Tabitha arise.” She opens her eyes and sits up. Peter presents her to the people who loved her so much and she is alive. What a miracle!

I can only imagine the joy when they saw her!!

The news spreads throughout the town and many believe in the Lord and receive salvation because of this life-giving miracle that had taken place in the life of Tabitha!

Who would have ever known…

Not only did God use her life, but He also used her death for His purpose and glory!

 He used her kindness and compassion to befriend those around her, He used her hands to sew for them and He used her heart to love them.

He used her death to unite the people who mourned for her to seek help from Peter, the man that knew HIM!

He used her miracle to draw others to Him as they witnessed His power and majesty in her life.

Tabitha may have thought that what she had to offer wasn’t much. She was just a woman in a small town, threading needles and sewing garments for the poor, but God saw much more, and He used her in ways that she could have never imagined!

So, let me tell you about Tabitha….

There are only a few verses in chapter 9 that give us a glimpse of this precious soul named Tabitha, but as the chapters of her life played out, she lived a story, and o what a story it was!

When Trusting Is Hard

Definition of Trust – firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something.

It’s easy to say ” I trust”.

It’s a whole other story to live out the ” I trust”…

Friday evening my husband was “let go” from his job. It was only a short 6 months ago that we faced this very thing. He had worked for a company for 5 years and loved the people that he worked with and enjoyed his job. To make a long story short, the company was bought out and they laid quite a few people off. Scott was on that list. This now being the second job in 6 months he has lost has taken us on quite a ride.

I will admit that I was a bit shaken at first. I felt a bit fearful. As doubts and fears began to flood my mind I cried out to the Lord in prayer.

After laying my burden, my frustrations, my fears, my doubts, my anger, and all of my questions down at His feet….I turned to His Word for the renewing of my mind. I have been reading in the Book of Matthew, and I knew what portion of the scripture I was getting ready to read. I thought to myself “maybe I should look up some scriptures specifically about trust or faith to help me in my situation right now”, but as I opened the Bible, I opened up right where I had left off the time before.

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I have read this story multiple times, but not the way I read it today!

As I read verse 43 of chapter 27 in the Book of Matthew, I realized that trusting in God does not always look or feel like we think it should.

Jesus is hanging on the cross at this point, having been beaten and tattered and the people are mocking and saying “He trusted in God; let Him deliver Him now if He will have Him; for He said, ‘I am the Son of God!'”

Jesus fully trusted in God, knowing what He was able to do and how He was able to deliver Him. The people thought that if He trusted in God, that God should show up in some miraculous way. What they didn’t know was that His trust in God is what kept Him hanging on that cross.

I read on to verse 46 where Jesus cries out “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” Even Jesus had questions, He felt forsaken, He was forsaken at that moment…WOW!

In verse 50. He cries out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit. Although He is crying out, questioning His Father “WHY have You forsaken me?”…yet, He yields His spirit.

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His situation had not changed. He was still in agony, hanging on a cruel cross, and bearing the weight of the sins of the world. In a time where His question had not been answered, His pain had not ceased and He chose to yield, chose to surrender. He chose to trust, even when it was hard!

Tomorrow morning, I will wake up and my husband still will not have a job (not yet anyway), our situation will not have changed, but the position of my spirit is this “I bow in surrender to whatever it is that you’re doing, Lord”. I choose to yield to You in all of life’s circumstances. Help me to walk in the foot steps of my Savior, Your Son. His journey was much harder than the one I’m walking and yet, He endured. He trusted. He was faithful to Your will in His life. Help me to seek You as He did in the Garden of Gethsemane instead of trying to figure it out on my own. Help me to yield to you even when I’m asking “have You forsaken me?” Even though this is hard, I choose to trust You!

Amen

When God Cuts You

A couple of weeks ago, I was out in our flower bed pulling up all the weeds that had so quickly grown up.

Most of them were pretty easily removed. I gave them a good tug and up they would come, root and all.

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As I was pulling I came across a weed that no matter how hard I tugged it just would not budge. I had to dig and dig some more in order to get the root loose enough to pull it out. It had just sprouted above ground a couple of weeks before, but the roots were so established in the earth that it was a much tougher job to remove that particular weed.

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God spoke to my heart, and as I examined my own life I quickly jotted down this small prayer in my journal…

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Over the past couple of weeks the Lord has been revealing weeds, and as I yield, He pulls.

Today though, He begin to dig…

The Lord spoke clearly to me this afternoon, through the voice of my Pastor as he shared this little story…

“Once upon a time, in the heart of an ancient Kingdom, there was a beautiful garden. And there, in the cool of the day, the Master of the garden would walk. Of all the plants of the garden, the most beautiful and most beloved was gracious and noble bamboo. Year after year, bamboo grew yet more noble and gracious, conscious of his Master’s love and watchful delight, but modest and gentle withal. And often when the wind came to revel in the garden, Bamboo would dance and play, tossing and swaying and leaping and bowing in joyous abandon, leading the Great Dance of the garden, which most delighted the Master’s heart.

Now, once upon a day, the Master himself drew near to contemplate his Bamboo with eyes of curious expectancy. And Bamboo, in a passion of adoration, bowed his great head to the ground in loving greeting.

The Master spoke: “Bamboo, Bamboo, I would use you.”

Bamboo flung his head to the sky in utter delight. The day of days had come, the day for which he had been made, the day to which he had been growing hour by hour, the day in which he would find his completion and his destiny.

His voice came low: “Master, I’m ready. Use me as you wish.”

“Bamboo,” The Master’s voice was grave “I would have to take you and cut you down!”

A trembling of great horror shook Bamboo…”Cut …me… down ? Me.. whom you, Master, has made the most beautiful in all thy Garden…cut me down! Ah, not that. Not that. Use me for the joy, use me for the glory, oh master, but do not cut me down!”

“Beloved Bamboo,” The Master’s voice grew graver still “If I do not cut you down, I cannot use you.”

The garden grew still. Wind held his breath. Bamboo slowly bent his proud and glorious head. There was a whisper: “Master, if you cannot use me other than to cut me down.. then do your will and cut”.

“Bamboo, beloved Bamboo, I would cut your leaves and branches from you also”.

“Master, spare me. Cut me down and lay my beauty in the dust; but would you also have to take from me my leaves and branches too?”

“Bamboo, if I do not cut them away, I cannot use you.”

The Sun hid his face. A listening butterfly glided fearfully away. And Bamboo shivered in terrible expectancy, whispering low: “Master, cut away”

“Bamboo, Bamboo, I would yet… split you in two and cut out your heart, for if I cut not so, I cannot use you.”

Then Bamboo bowed to the ground: “Master, Master… then cut and split.”

So did the Master of the garden took Bamboo…
and cut him down…
and hacked off his branches…
and stripped off his leaves…
and split him in two…
and cut out his heart.

And lifting him gently, the Master carried Bamboo to where there was a spring of fresh sparkling water in the midst of his dry fields. Then putting one end of the broken Bamboo in the spring and the other end into the water channel in the field, the Master gently laid down his beloved Bamboo… And the spring sang welcome, and the clear sparkling waters raced joyously down the channel of bamboo’s torn body into the waiting fields. Then the rice was planted, and the days went by, and the shoots grew and the harvest came.

In that day Bamboo, once so glorious in his stately beauty, was yet more glorious in his brokenness and humility. For in his beauty he was life abundant, but in his brokenness he became a channel of abundant life to his Master’s world.”

(Author Unknown.)

Bamboo

God stopped by New Hope Church to speak to His “bamboo” this afternoon. He has been digging deep, revealing those weeds that have large roots that are further down in my life, and today as I submitted to my Master’s hand, He cut…

He cut my pride, my desire to be more than He has called me to be, my dreams that are fueled by my own carnal desires, my need for certain peoples approval, and my total dependency on their applause. Every vain ambition, every leaf and branch that may seem beautiful and right to me, but is not needed in the work that He has called me to…He is pruning me, cutting every weed and oh, what pain.

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I have agonized in prayer today and it has been both exhausting and exhilarating.

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I may never be the most grand in the ‘Garden of God’s Glory’, and that is ok… I can say that in all honesty, it is just fine with me!

Cut me, Master and make me useful for You! If I am to be only a channel for water to Your harvest for the rest of my days, let it be so, only use me that You alone will be glorified!

Amen

A Detour From God

A couple of weeks ago, on my way to take my son to his doctors appointment, I came across a detour.

I don’t know how you feel about detours, but I personally do not like them…at all!

One, because they usually take more time to get me to where I am going, and two, because it takes me on a route that I am unfamiliar with.

These things combined with the fact that I am one of those people who happen to be directionally challenged, the detour naturally spiked my frustration.

I didn’t think about why there was a detour, or what was going on that would have caused them to temporarily re-route me to my destination.

I just wanted to get to where I needed to be and not be inconvenienced.

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Today though, while reading in the book of Matthew, I read about a detour that was sent from heaven, straight from God.

Mary had given birth to the most important Baby in all the world and the enemy was using every tactic that he could to rid the world of Him.

Because King Herod did not know exactly where to find this Baby, who was such a threat to him, he commanded that every male child of the age 2 and under be killed.

Joseph though, had already been warned by God to take his family and flee.

Toward the end of the chapter, when Herod is dead, an angel of the Lord comes to Joseph in a dream saying “Arise, take the young Child and His mother, and go to the land of Israel for those who sought the young Child’s life are dead.”

Joseph arose, took them and went to the land of Israel…but when he hears that Herod’s son was reigning as king, he was afraid and turned and went to a city called Nazareth.

The very last verse of the chapter tells us that this detour was designed by God, Himself.

How, you ask? Read it with me.

And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, “He shall be called a Nazarene.”

God had a plan for the lives of Joseph, Mary, and of course Jesus, long before that day had come.

He used the prophets years before they ever traveled, years before Jesus was even born, to prophecy this very thing, and He designed their detour to Nazareth so that this prophecy would come to pass.

Many times in my own life I get frustrated at any inconvenience and try to do everything in my own strength to stay the course…not realizing that the God who created me has created me with a plan for my life in mind.

He has already paved each path I should take, and has designed every detour with a purpose.

The next time things don’t seem to be going as planned and your life is heading a different way than you think it should…look to Him, seek His face, and listen for His voice, because it just might be a detour from God!