Happy Thanksgiving!

To all my faithful followers and readers of this blog: Thank You. I appreciate you more than you know. May you have a very blessed Thanksgiving!

Norma

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The Art of Listening

 

“Listening means responding to what you hear.” 

Jennifer Dean 

The Lord has drawn me to become more like Mary of Bethany, who sat at Jesus’ feet. I’ve asked Him to show me what she looks like. A few weeks ago while praying, Holy Spirit whispered, She wasn’t in a hurry.  

He took me to Luke 10:39 and unpacked that statement. “She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what He said.” Mary sat. Sitting is a position of stability and waiting. She didn’t stand and listen as if she was ready to go on to the next thing on her to do list. Mary sat. She gazed and focused on Jesus. Mary wasn’t distracted by the good, but focused on the BEST, the words of God. 

Mary’s posture of sitting, displayed to Jesus that He had her full attention, much like when a parent squats down eye level to their child and holds their face in their hands. When that happens, the child knows their parent is listening and they have their complete attention.  

I confess, I’m not a good listener. I’m easily distracted by the next question I want to ask those I’m listening to and blurt out what I want to say, before I forget the thought. I hear their words, but my inattentiveness prevents me from remembering what they said.  

Mary of Bethany listened to remember. Listen means “to pay attention in order to hear.” Mary sat to listen in order to remember what Jesus said. When she recalled His words, then she could do what He talked about. Mary listened to obey. We hear, to heed. Hearing God’s voice proceeds obedience. We listen to Jesus speak to align our lives with His thoughts in order to do what He says.  

Mary wasn’t in a hurry. She sat to give her attention to the One who loved and accepted her the most: Jesus. Mary of Bethany listened to His words in order to remember them so she could obey them. Could we do anything less? 

“Before we can hear the Divine Voice we must shut out all other voices, so that we may be able to listen, to discern its faintest whisper. 

Mark Rutherford 

Relevant Reflections: 

  1. What is the posture of your heart, when you spend time with Jesus-sitting or standing? 
  2. Spend at least five minutes sitting at the feet of Jesus, listening to remember His words in order to obey. 
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I Choose You

 

“We cannot have a change in behavior without a change in the way we think.” 

Steve Backlund 

Christmas celebrations have come and gone, but the pleasant memories still linger in my mind. One of my favorite Christmas songs is called “I Choose You” by Matthew West and Jayme Thompson. The lyrics are addressed to Mary, the mother of Jesus. Even though others saw her life as ordinary, God still chose her to bring the Savior into the world. “I have called you to leave your fears behind, to walk by faith and not by sight. Mary, I know it’s all a mystery, My hand is leading if you’ll only believe.” 

Like Mary, you may consider yourself ordinary, but God sees you as extraordinary, because you’re His child. God chose Mary to give birth to the Messiah, and He chose you to _______ in 2018. He’s given each of us an assignment-not because we’re worthy, but because of His worthiness. A few years ago, the Holy Spirit brought tears to my eyes when He whispered, You were created for greatness.  

Mary became the mother of the Son of God because she believed. She declared, “I am the Lord’s servant, may it be to me as you have said.” (Luke 1:38) What promises of God do you need to believe? What if we made New Year’s declarations, instead of New Year’s resolutions?  

Declarations build our faith and increase our anticipation to see God’s goodness. Our faith is determined by what we believe. But like a cold car that needs a jump start, declarations warm our faith up.  

I used to struggle with God’s call to write, thinking I wasn’t creative. Then I began to say out loud, “I am a creative writer because the Creative One lives in me.” Eventually, my head knowledge of that truth, dropped down into my heart and revelation turned to faith. 

Declarations help us to believe God has chosen us. When faith is released, we are then able to fulfill God’s destiny. Start 2018 by making New Year’s declarations and believe God’s promises for your life. He chose you for greatness! 

What we believe is the determining factor of whether our lives move forward or backward. We can have a ‘Super Christian‘ pray for us, but ultimately our own beliefs are the key to spiritual advancement.” 

Steve Backlund 

Relevant Reflection: 

Make a list of God’s promises for your life and declare them out loud. 

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Hope you have all had a Merry Christmas! Our kids are almost here and I’m so excited! Thank you for following the restoring hearts blog in 2017. I look forward to what God has up His sleeve for us in 2018. May you have a special time with family and friends, ringing in the New Year!

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To Us a Child is Born

 

“Christmas is the gift from heaven of God’s Son given for free; If Christmas isn’t found in your heart, you won’t find it under the tree.” 

Charlotte Carpenter 

One of my favorite Scriptures during Christmas season is Isaiah 9:6: “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah prophesied the Messiah’s coming and he listed four descriptions of God who became man. 

Wonderful Counselor: God has been my counselor and confidant. I have journals full of entries when I poured out my heart to God. He has listened to my hurts and frustrations. God has validated and comforted me, and shared words of wisdom and understanding. As a result, my heart has been restored. 

Mighty God: I can testify to God’s mightiness, as He expanded my energy level-physically and mentally in our preparation to move. God is a force not to be reckoned with, as He possesses great strength and power. In my weakness, He flexes His muscles and shows Himself strong on my behalf. 

Everlasting Father: My Daddy is always there for me. He promises to never, ever leave me or forsake me. I will never be abandoned by Him, because He is an everlasting Father. Like an earthly dad, God is my provider and protector. He is compassionate and when I’m fearful, I can climb upon His lap. My Father, picks me back up when I stumble and fall and He speaks destiny into my life. His love for me is unconditional and undeserving. 

Prince of Peace: These past few months while packing up and unpacking a house, while disorder and confusion have ruled and reigned, He has been my peace in the midst of chaos. When I have had to process so much of the unknown, the One who knows, makes what is needed, known to me.   

This Christmas, get to know the baby in the manger, and experience the Messiah’s attributes: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and the Prince of Peace. 

“You can never truly enjoy Christmas until you can look up into the Father’s face and tell Him you have received His Christmas gift.” 

John R. Rice 

Relevant Reflection: 

Which of these four attributes of the Christ-child, do you need to experience the most this Christmas? Ask Him to show Himself to you in that way. 

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God’s Favor

 

“Other people may have more talent, education, or experience but God’s favor can cause you to go places you could not go on your own.” 

Pinterest 

My high school Young Life leader encouraged us to simply say thank you when we’re given a compliment. Our tendency can be to discount it, to appear humble. Instead, she instructed us to receive the affirmation and express gratefulness. Receiving God’s favor is similar. There is nothing we could ever do to earn His kindness. Like a compliment, it is a gift from God, which when received, we need to thank Him. 

During this Christmas season I am reminded of Jesus’ mother Mary. Luke 1:30 says, “But the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God.'” The kindness of God gave a virgin the ability to give birth to the long-awaited Messiah. God’s favor turns ordinary people into extraordinary. It’s God’s kindness which turns the natural into the supernatural. You can tell when God has touched a situation with His favor. Doors open quickly, and things happen faster than normal. It’s obvious when His fingerprints are all over a relationship. Strangers open their hearts and confide in you. 

A few months ago, God was speaking to me about His favor and how to respond to it. This is what I heard: Use it, but don’t abuse it. Utilize the favor I have placed upon you – maximize it – for My glory. Don’t hold back, like you’re tempted to. I have given it to you because I know I can trust you with it. I know you will not abuse it to get your way or for selfish ambition. Use it to get more people into My kingdom. Use it to gain access into more hearts that you can restore through Me. Use it to lead more of My children into My bedroom chamber, where intimacy awaits them. Don’t ignore, shrink back, or hide from the position of favor that I have placed you in. Embrace it and always turn to Me, for Me to receive the glory. 

Just as I learned from my Young Life leader, I thank God for the gift of His favor that He has bestowed on me. And like the Holy Spirit shared, I want to use God’s favor to maximize His kingdom, for His glory, and never abuse it. 

“When a king’s face brightens, it means life; his favor is like a rain cloud in spring.” 

Proverbs 16:15 

Relevant Reflection 

Describe a time when you experienced God’s favor. Take time to thank Him for it. 

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The Weaver

 

“Suffering is unbearable if you aren’t certain that God is for you and with you.” 

Tim Keller 

Life is like one big tapestry. God weaves each person, place, and situation to create a beautiful tapestry. Even the suffering we go through, are threads carefully woven throughout our lives for the sole purpose of our good. Even in the pain we experience, the master weaver has a purpose in His plan and it’s for our benefit. 

Last Friday, on my birthday, I “happened” to read my life verse during my quiet time. Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that in ALL things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.”  

I am reminded that even though this transition and move to Wichita has been difficult to leave those I love, I know God has chosen this path because He loves me. In my head and in some parts of my heart, I believe all this change is for my good, my husband’s welfare, and for the benefit of my family and friends. I just can’t fully see it yet. 

The Apostle Paul wrote in I Corinthians 13:12, “Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror, then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then shall I know fully, even as I am fully known.” To be fully known by God, is a description of an intimate relationship. Only the master weaver has in mind what the stunning tapestry will look like when it’s finished and He alone knows the circumstances in life to thread in and out of our personal looms, in order to create what He desires. 

A year ago, on my birthday, I went out to lunch with one of my favorite friends, and throughout the lunch I wept, as I shared my fears that a drastic change, even a possible move, was on the horizon. This year, I grieved my loss again, but this time, it was with a heart filled with gratitude and peace, knowing that God has done all this because He has my best interest in mind. 

The master weaver is in the process of creating an attractive tapestry out of my life. I can’t wait to see what it looks like when it’s finished! 

“…Some suffering has no purpose other than to lead a person to love God more ardently for Himself alone and so discover the ultimate peace and freedom.” 

Tim Keller 

Relevant Reflection: 

In what ways have you seen the master weaver make a beautiful tapestry out your pain and suffering?  

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There’s No Place Like Home

 

“Home is where God is. He is inside you, so home is wherever you go.” 

Lindsay Donovan 

It’s a process to make a house, a home. John and I are still in the beginning stages of turning our Wichita house into a home. Numerous boxes are unpacked, but we have many more to go. Pictures need to be hung. Furniture needs to be chosen and arranged. Smells from traditional holiday baking need to be inhaled. And family and friends need to visit, in order to deem this new place, Home Sweet Home. 

I’m thankful for my daughter’s reminder in a recent note, that Home is where God is. It’s the Presence of God, no matter where we live, whether Wichita or Omaha, that becomes our home. When I find my home in God, then my stability, nourishment, and all that I need to thrive, will also be found in Him. It’s from this platform that all other life will spring. 

One of the churches we’ve visited in Wichita, has a sign outside, above the entrance that says, Welcome Home. I can only imagine the Holy Spirit whispering those words each time I go to Him in prayer, spend time in His Word, and listen to His voice. Welcome home, my daughter. 

Just as many of us go home for the holidays, I wonder if some of you reading this post, haven’t found your home in God. Jesus said in John 14:23, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.”  

Others in this audience, may have had situations that have separated you from your true home in God, and you need to return home. No matter what happened in your past, or what struggles you may be going through today, now that I’m a Kansas gal, I agree with Dorothy, in the Wizard of Oz, There’s no place like home. It’s especially true when you find your home in God. Go home to Him today. 

“But the more I read the Bible and the more I get to know Jesus, the more I realize that this life-even with all its quirks and turns and tragedies-is meant to be amazing. Not because circumstances are always perfect, but because our souls have found their homes in God.” 

     Judah Smith 

Relevant Reflections: 

  1. Have you found your home in God?  
  2. Do you need to return to Him? It’s never too late! 
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