Toss it Overboard

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Toss it Overboard

I have noticed that occasionally the Lord will allow us to go through storms of life so that He can bring to the surface things that are hidden.

Do you ever feel like you are a ship, carrying too much cargo, and headed for stormy seas?  Sometimes the cargo we carry may be stored ‘under the deck.’  In other words, it is buried in the deep recesses of our heart.  God can see the rebellious attitudes, our never-ending quest to please man, bitterness, deep hurts that need healing, or even fears.  Whatever we may have hidden, God still sees it, and He wants to bring those things to light so that we can be free from them.

Paul was on a ship during a storm of hurricane proportions.  The ship took such a violent battering that they began to toss things overboard in order to lighten their load and save themselves. (Acts 27:13-44)

When God takes us through storms, He wants us to see those hidden things and toss them overboard.  He wants to help us lighten our load, taking on his yoke. (Matthew 11:28-30) When we learn to toss things overboard during our stormy struggles, God will help us to persevere, growing and maturing in Him. (James 1:2-4)

© 2006, Stacy R. Miller

The Quiet Hour

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The Quiet Hour

Quiet?  What’s that?  As moms, we can all relate to the having the feeling that we just don’t have enough time to read the Word and pray.  We mistakenly think that we can make it through the day in our own strength.

For those of us who are stay-at-home moms with young children, we may find that naptime is a good time to get alone with the Lord.  As the children get older and outgrow naptime, we can still institute an afternoon quiet hour (or 1/2 hour, if necessary).  You may find it helpful to have a timer on hand.  You gently instruct the children to find something to do by themselves until the timer goes off.  They are not allowed to play with each other, nor are they allowed to listen to music, play on the computer, or watch TV.  They can read a book, color, or quietly play with some toys, but they must be instructed not to bother Mommy until the timer goes off.  (Of course, a real emergency would supersede the instructions!)

We do our children a great disservice if we fail to teach them how to be alone.  Too often, we fall into the trap of entertaining them ourselves, or with the TV, or numerous other activities.  They need to have times of solitude so that they know how to be alone.  This will help them to be open to hearing God’s still small voice.

We can’t hear God speak above all the clamor and distractions, so we can’t expect our precious children to hear Him speak when they are constantly with other people, are busy, or are being distracted by many things around them.  Recently, my own daughter has come to me on many occasions, expressing her desire to hear God speak.  I wasn’t sure how to answer her beyond telling her that He often speaks to us in a still, small voice, not heard by the ear, but felt in the heart.  I find myself pondering on starting a daily quiet time.  I think my first prayer will be for her to hear her precious Father’s voice speaking to her….
© 2003, Stacy R Miller

Solitude

Solitude

Most women will admit that they feel guilty if they try to take some time for themselves.  We get so caught up in our “Martha” role that we forget to do our “Mary” role. (Luke 10:38-42)  Often times, we are so caught up being like Martha that we end up being uncomfortable when we try to switch and be more like Mary.

A precious friend of mine, whose name was Mary, went to be with Jesus recently.  Our pastor paid the ultimate tribute to her when he said that Mary was a marvelous example to us of someone who could be busy like Martha, yet never failed to take time at the feet of our Lord.  Mary certainly knew the importance of those times of solitude with Jesus.

When I first started teaching a Sunday school class, Mary was one of the ladies who faithfully attended.  At first I was rather intimidated, having a lady who was quite a bit older than me in attendance.  I was thinking, “She should be teaching me!”  As time passed, I got to know Mary better and deeply appreciated her wit and wisdom.  The ladies who attended the class really looked forward to coming every Sunday, not because I was some great teacher, but because we couldn’t wait to see what Mary had to say!  She was so much like the Proverbs 31 lady.  When Mary opened her mouth, wisdom and faithful instruction easily flowed from her lips. (Proverbs 31:26)  She will be greatly missed by many in the years to come.

What we must realize about solitude is that it is a MUST for us.  Even Jesus had times of solitude.
He spent forty days alone in the desert. (Matthew 4:1-11)
He spent time alone before choosing the twelve disciples. (Luke 6:12)
After the twelve disciples returned from a preaching and healing mission in Mark 6:31, Jesus called them to a quiet place to rest with Him.
After healing a leper, Jesus went off to be alone. (Luke 5:16)
He took only three disciples with Him to a solitary place for the transfiguration. (Matthew 17:1-9)
He went off by Himself to pray in the Garden of Gethsemane before giving His life for us. (Matthew 26:36-46)

If the Son of God needed times of solitude, how can we possibly think we don’t need it?
Solitude is not selfishness.  Rather, it is vital for us if we hope to accomplish the tasks set before us.  Rest and refuel before you try to meet the needs of your own ‘masses’ of people.

© 2006, Stacy R. Miller

Shifting Sand

Shifting Sand

When my daughter was a toddler, we frequently sang a song about the wise man and the foolish man.  I had no idea how the truths of that song would affect me I in years to come.

Part of keeping our house on the rock is to make sure that we refrain from choosing the better over the best.  Sometimes I see the need to give up some very good activities so that I am able to grab hold of the best.

In my quest to try and keep my house built on the rock, I frequently assess the activities in my life.  I usually try to do this about every three months.  Occasionally, I may need to do it on a weekly basis during excessively busy times of the year, such as the Christmas season.  There are also some days when our schedule is extremely hectic.  On those mornings, I will often surmise each activity, trying to place the most important ones at the top of my priority list.

For instance, I was looking forward to attending a dinner with our women’s group at church.  It started at 6:30.  That same evening, my daughter had PE class from 5:00-6:00 P.M.  Time did not allow me to do both, so I had to make a choice.  While the women’s dinner would have been fun and uplifting, my daughter is higher on my priority list, so my choice was to give up attending the dinner (the better choice) so that Rachel could still attend PE (the best choice).  By making this choice, I kept my house built firmly on the rock.  It also made a deep impression on my daughter when she realized that I saw her activity as more important than my own.

My normal routine is to attend church on Wednesday evenings.  However, one Wednesday, I could tell that my husband was incredibly stressed.  Since my husband is higher on my list of priorities than my church attendance, I chose to drop off Rachel at church.  I came home to be with my husband while we had the opportunity to be alone for a while.  Dean was very pleased to see that I viewed ministering to him as more important than church attendance. Giving him a chance to vent his frustrations of the day was very therapeutic.  Again, I set aside the better choice (church attendance), in place of the best choice (ministering to my husband).

Another opportunity for making a choice between building on shifting sand or the rock came when a friend discovered that her son had a cyst on the brain.  I had been unable to reach her, so I left a message for her to call me the next day, even if it was during our homeschool hours.  She knows that I am adamant about not being disturbed during those precious schooling hours.  Hearing my message let her know that I saw her need as one of top priority.

I went through a spell where I had not been able to write any devotions.  I simply did not have the time.  While I enjoy writing, and even feel the Lord has gifted me to write, I cannot let it take the place of my own personal time with the Lord.  I must also be careful to not let writing take priority over my family and managing things at home.

During that period of time, it would have been very easy for me to become frustrated over not having any new material to send to those on my mailing list.  Instead, I focused on building on the rock.  I knew that if I kept my priorities in order, daily choosing the best in place of the better, God would honor those decisions.

Eventually, I sat down one evening to write.  It was like a dam that burst forth.  Not only was I was able to write six devotions in a very short amount of time, but I could not seem to write fast enough to get my thoughts on paper.

As I have had to set aside a few of the things that I really wanted to do, in order to choose God’s best for me, I have had no regrets.  God is so faithful in pouring out His peace and granting clarity of mind to me.  The sense of balance I feel in making choices that honored Him has made it easier for me to say “no” to that shifting sand so that I can say “yes” to a firm, strong, and stable rock.

Are you choosing to build on the rock?
© 2006, Stacy R. Miller

Power Outage

Power Outage

Early one morning, our power went out.  I had no idea it was out until I opened my eyes and saw the lights flashing on my alarm clock.

Samson had a ‘power outage,’ and he was also unaware that he had lost his power. (Judges 16)  Just like Samson, we can also suffer from a power outage that can be very subtle in sneaking up on us.

Samson thought that he could ‘toy’ with Delilah and the Philistines, yet maintain his power.  He didn’t realize that day by day, as he played with them, he was becoming self-sufficient and even arrogant.  Next, he became less dependent upon God.

We do the same thing.  We play with worldly passions, and when we don’t see an immediate consequence, we continue in that path.  We think we can handle things on our own, so we quit committing our daily work to the Lord.  Finally, we face a power outage, and we never saw it coming.

The power outage may start like this:

A major event takes place, so instead of reading the Word in the morning, we turn on the TV instead.  We only intend to watch it for a few minutes.  Suddenly, we hear the rest of the family arising and we realize that we’ve been engrossed in watching the TV for forty minutes.  Now it’s too late to read the Word.

We manage to go through our day just fine, so we don’t feel too bad about missing out on our quiet time with the Lord.  It makes it easier the next morning for us to sleep in when we’ve had a rough night.  After all, we did just fine yesterday without our quiet time, so what’s one more day?

Since we still have some spiritual oil in our reserve tank, we manage to gracefully get through another day, even if we didn’t read the Word.

The following morning, we decide to quickly check our email before doing our devotions.  Before we know it, we’ve been online for over thirty minutes.  We realize that we still need to jump in the shower before the rest of the family awakens.  Devotions will have to wait again.  Now we feel a little pressured to get our shower finished before the others start yelling, “Mom!  I need the bathroom!”  The pressure builds during the day, making us feel like a pressure cooker that is ready to blow its lid.

The next morning we still remember the stresses of the previous day, so we opt to get a jump-start on our day.  We get our shower done early.  Next, we focus on finishing some chores.

By this time, we are having a severe ‘power outage.’  It manifests itself later when one child is facing a crisis with a friend at school.  With our power gone, we have no mercy to offer this child.  Our youngest child falls and gets hurt, and we lack in compassion.  As if this isn’t enough, another child is struggling with a new math concept and our patience is waning very thin.  For the friend who is in desperate need of a listening ear, we fail to notice that God wanted to use us to minister to her need.  Instead, we ask her if we can return her call later since we are busy.

The only way to defeat the Delilahs and the Philistines in our own life is to guard our time with the Lord.  We must remain connected to the Power Source so that we don’t experience a power outage.

What Delilahs and Philistines are leading you toward a power outage?

© 2005, Stacy R. Miller

Pop Goes the Bubble

Pop Goes the Bubble!

I remember when Rachel was only 2.  She was in the bathtub, and passed gas.  She looked down into the tub, and excitedly exclaimed, “Oh!  Bubbles!”
Needless to say, I cracked up.  Even now, she is still fascinated with bubbles.  She can be in the tub playing, and I will hear her yell, “Mommy, come here!  You have got to see this bubble!”  Invariably, the bubble which brought her so much joy would be gone before I could make it in there.

There are many things which this world offers us which can seem so appealing and so pretty, but just like the bubble, in an instant, the “beauty” of it all is gone.  Let’s take a look at some scenarios.

The job that offers such prestige – prestige, which could fade at any given moment.  The job market doesn’t seem to be too stable these days.  Pop!   There went the “bubble.”  (That same job could require you to be away from your dear family and miss out on precious time that could never be recaptured.)  The O.T. is so clear about how we are to diligently teach our children about spiritual things.  How can we do that when we are gone so much of the time?  When we are finally able to be with them, who would have the energy or the patience to be instructing them in righteousness?

Please don’t misunderstand, I am not knocking women who MUST work outside the home, but oftentimes, working outside the home is because we MUST have this new house, this bigger house, this fancy car, the fancy clothes for us and for our children…….It becomes a matter of working, not to provide for the family, but to get THINGS to satisfy us.  Oops, did the “bubble” just pop again?

The lure of the mall.  We get bored so we go shopping.  We get frustrated, so we go shopping.  We get happy, so we go shopping….. You get the picture.  The mall is a lure to many women.  While we are there, we tend to buy impusively.  Later, when we get home, and have to explain the charges on the credit card, or why we don’t any longer have the money to buy the groceries, the temporary “high” which we get from shopping so quickly fades.

The lure of activities for our children.  I see so many families, who get their children involved in so many activities.  So many, in fact, that they hardly ever get to spend much time together.  They miss out on the precious family meal times, or the chance to just spend an evening playing games.  Too often, it ends up being a time where everyone is rushed, Mom is yelling, the kids are arguing……and the list goes on.  Once again, the “bubble” pops, and the glitter of this activity fades away.

There are even some things which are good, noble causes.  BUT, if God has not given us the OK to be involved in these activities, the “bubble” will pop again.  For instance, maybe you want to be involved in Women’s ministries at your church.  But being involved there can put another demand on your plate, which is already full, just trying to take care of the family, the house, the laundry, the grocery shopping.  You may be maxed out with just the everyday tasks that HAVE to be done.  Being involved in women’s ministries may make you feel like you are being a better Christian, or that you are doing your good deed by being there, but it could also be the thing that leaves you frazzled because maybe this just isn’t the “season” for you to be heavily involved in anything besides your own family.

Let me explain a little further on these things.  The Bible says that there is a season for everything.  I can give you a personal example regarding the women’s ministry.  (I used that illustration because it fit my situation.)  Our women’s group would meet on Tuesday mornings.  I wanted to be there and be part of the group, but I homeschool, so which is my priority?  Yes, I could rearrange the homeschool day so that I could teach later, but for me, my better hours of the day are in the morning.  If I didn’t get school done in the morning, chances were very high that it wouldn’t get done at all.  The teaching and training of my child on Biblical principles and academics was higher on the priority list than attending the women’s Bible study.  (A side note on this – now the women’s group is meeting on Wed. nights.  Since we are there every Wed. anyway, this has turned out to be a real blessing to me.)

I Cor. 3:11-13 says “For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.  If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light.  It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work.”  (NIV)

II Tim. 2:20-21 says, “But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also utensils of wood and earthenware, and some for honorable and noble use and some for menial and ignoble use.  So whoever cleanses himself from what is ignoble and unclean, who separates himself from contact with contaminating and corrupting influences will then himself be a vessel set apart and useful for honorable and noble purposes, consecrated and profitable to the Master, fit and ready for any good work.”  (Amp. Bible)

Father, may you help us to see clearly the purpose you have for us at this time.  Yes, it may change down the road, but help us now to see it, to embrace it, and to welcome it.  Help us to be content in the ministry where you have placed us, and to find joy in the journey.  Help us to focus our energies on the things which would bring honor to Your Name, and to pull ourselves away from those contaminating, luring things which this old world would love to offer us.  Help us to find that life abundantly – the life which is in You, alone.  Amen.
© 2003, Stacy R Miller

Wretched, Poor, Pitiful, and More

Wretched, Poor, Pitiful, and More

Revelation 3:18 But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.

When the economic crunch hit our home, I was forced to return to the work place.  After being a stay-at-home mom for nearly thirteen years, I can tell you it was quite an adjustment.  My daughter begged me to continue to home school her.  Since she was now entering high school, the pressure was even greater.  On top of working full time hours and swing shifts, there were many nights when I would come home, and still spend two or three hours helping Rachel with her school work.  By the time I would find time to do devotions, I was too tired.  If I wanted to do anything, it was either sleep or “veg” on the couch, letting the TV entertain me.  Oh what a hard cycle to break!

I noticed a very quick pattern when I started failing so miserably at reading the Word.  My attitude changed (and I don’t mean for the better).  The words running through my head weren’t words from the Living Word.  Rather, they were more likely to be the four-letter kind that I often heard repeatedly at work.  I also found that the longer I went without reading the Word, the less I desired to read it.  Because I knew my passion for the Word was waning, I then began to deal with the guilt of not spending time with the Lord.  If I did read, it seemed to be more of a “Ok, now I’ve got that done for the day,” rather than truly having my heart into it, seeking to hear from my Father.

One morning, as I was getting ready for work, I turned on a Christian TV station where they were playing music, and showing beautiful scenic photos.  Suddenly, a scripture popped up on the screen.  It was one of those moments that became a quick reality check for me.  It was Revelation 3:18.  It says, “You do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.”  Except that now, I did realize that about myself.  I fit that scripture to a “T.”  When I fail to get into the Word, it isn’t long before my attitude is wretched.  Because I was slacking in my devotional time, I had allowed myself to become spiritually poor because I had no fresh “oil” flowing in me.  I was pitiful because I was neglecting to spend time with the One who died for me.  I was naked because, by my actions, I was choosing not to clothe myself in Christ every day.  It was clearly time for a change.

Now my quest is to return to my First Love.  I know He is waiting and watching, and He’s doing so with open arms.  And He’s also doing it for those of you who may also have fallen on this slippery slope.  Let Him catch you with those Everlasting Arms.  It will delight Him and it will give you a new lease on life.
© 2010, Stacy R Miller

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