By Aubrey Spencer –
Before we moved from Illinois to Kansas a few years ago, we spent time fixing up our starter home for the purpose of selling it. We knew that in order to get the best result, renovation was inevitable. Our time frame was short and our project list was extremely long. In a matter of weeks, we painted the entire outside of our house and hung new shutters. We removed carpeting, tile, and a banister from our front porch. Then we sanded, grinded, and painted the concrete on both the porch and the adjoining flowerbeds. And if that wasn’t enough, we took on the job of all jobs – the bathroom! We needed to re-do that little bathroom for a long time, but once we began the renovation process, we realized why we had put if off for so long. What a nightmare! At one point (and I have pictures to remind myself of the craziness) the room was down to the studs in half the room and debris was everywhere. We made countless trips to the home improvement store – thirty miles away – to get more supplies. Water was turned off for days – which was problematic seeing as how that was our only bathroom. And our son Oliver, who was only a baby at that time, had to learn to nap through the mighty hum of the shop vac.
The renovation was crazy, but all for a purpose. We were moving on, stepping out of our boat towards a new opportunity for Him.
Sometimes, it seems that “stepping out in faith” is a lot like our remodeling. Messy. Confusing. Stressful. Hard work. Scary. But all the effort is worth it when the outcome is revealed. Peace. Joy. Excitement. Beauty. It may be downright frightening to let the Master Builder hammer away a new life/opportunity/outlook for you. But, I believe that He has a remarkable masterpiece waiting at the end of the renovation.
PRAYER: Lord, although the process is rarely easy, I thank You for continually renovating my heart and mind and life. You amaze me constantly with how You create such beauty and peace out of chaos and confusion. Help me to remember that the next time I find myself “under construction.”
BIBLE VERSE: “Yet, O Lord, you are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand” (Isaiah 64:8 NIV).
By Aubrey Spencer –
Nana and Papaw’s house is the greatest place on earth. At least it is for my children. No matter how often my parents see our kids (which is quite frequent now that we live only ninety miles away), they treat it as a grand event. Oliver and Ava
are showered with attention and sugared with kisses. There is no doubt, they are both loved and adored.
The last time we visited there, I tucked Oliver in his bed for a nap, and thought back to the very first time we took him to his grandparents’ house. He was a few months old, and we lived thirteen hours away. So it’s not too surprising that it felt like a grand event. My parents were over-the-top excited for their grandson to be there. They told everyone they knew that he was coming. They bought him a new wardrobe. They bought him a great little mobile for his car seat (which came in quite handy on the thirteen hour drive home.) They also went out the day after we arrived to purchase him a totally tricked out exersaucer activity center, because they said he “needed” it. But the biggest display of grandparent craziness was Oliver’s room. That’s right – Oliver had his very own bedroom at Nana and Papaw’s house. (Both kids have their own rooms there now.) His room housed a crib bought just for him, complete with adorable construction truck bedding. Everywhere we looked, we saw diapers, wipes, trucks, decorations and more. They went nuts. We melted with gratefulness. There were even blocks with his named spelled out sitting on one of the bookshelves. It was too much! Talk about making us feel special. Oliver was a blessed little boy to have grandparents like that. And now Ava gets to enjoy the same sort of royal treatment.
I started thinking about my parents and their excitement over Oliver’s first visit. I wondered how many of us live with such excitement about our God. Does He consume our thoughts and dictate our actions? Do we smile every time we think about Him? Do we long to spend time with Him, eager to be in His presence? Do we tell everyone we know about Him? Do we clean out areas in our lives to make room for Him to dwell there? In fact, does He have His very own place in our hearts, or does He have to share space with other “gods” in our life? Is He the center of our attention? Is His name written on us, displayed proudly, like the blocks in Oliver’s room?
What a powerful reminder for me to check my heart, my priorities, and my excitement level for my God. What about you?
PRAYER: Lord, I long to fill my heart and my life with Your presence, Your will, and Your Word. But, I must confess that I can easily allow myself to crowd You out of my thoughts and my actions when I put other things before You. Help me to treat every moment with You as a grand event. Remind me to share my excitement about You with the world around me.
BIBLE VERSE: “Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him music and song. For the Lord is the great God, the great King above all gods” (Psalm 95:1-3 NIV).
By Aubrey Spencer –
I recently had to take our one-year-old daughter to get her blood drawn for a routine test. As I was sitting there with her on my lap, waiting for the tear-inducing ordeal to begin, I couldn’t help but to think back to our first experience with shots, after our son Oliver was born. He wasn’t very old when we experienced that inevitable, unavoidable, have-to-do-it-for-their-own-good, parental moment – the first set of shots.
I remember the day clearly. Oliver was asleep when we got to the clinic. Peaceful. Content. Unaware. Unprepared for what was about to happen. Jarrod sat him on his lap. Pinned his arms against his little chest. And, before we knew it, whammo! One awful shot down. One awfully sad baby. I think it had to be easier for Jarrod than for me. He might have had to hold him, but I’m the one who saw his face. Heartbroken. Scared. Shocked. Hurt. I wanted to pick him up and tell him that nothing else bad was going to happen. But, of course I knew better. He still had two leg jabbing, tear inducing, “what in the world did you just do to me?” shots left. Thankfully, in no time at all and three band-aids later, the whole ordeal was over. He ended up handling the situation pretty well. (His parents made it through okay too.) Tears only came when the shots did. And, he calmed down right away once we comforted him. Smiles even returned later that day.
I wonder if God has moments like that with us. Days when He has to let us go through something unpleasant, even painful, for our own good? Times when He allows the stabbing pain of loneliness, selfishness, bad decisions, or pride to prick our hearts? It must be awful for Him. He sees our broken lives, our hurt feelings, our scared souls. I’m sure He’d like to tell us that nothing else will ever hurt again like that. But, of course, He knows better. He knows us. We will mess up again. Life will be tough again. Tears will come again. He can’t keep us from experiencing all the shots we take in life. We oftentimes have to endure the pain in order to grow. He will, however, hold us, comfort us, and carry us through until the band-aids fall off and the smiles return!
PRAYER: Lord, I can only imagine how difficult it must be for You to watch Your children struggle, time and time again. But I praise You for always comforting us through the hard times and loving us through it all. Even though the process is most often unpleasant, I thank You, Lord for allowing growth to come from the pains we face in life, and for giving us reason to smile.
BIBLE VERSE: “For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations” (Psalm 100:5 NIV).
By Aubrey Spencer –
It seems I spend a great amount of time each day involved in battle. A heated battle. Often a losing battle. I honestly feel as if I’m up against an opponent that never retreats. It’s frustrating and oh so tiring.
You may be wondering what this fight is. Who knows? You might even struggle with the same enemy.
It is toys! Mounds and mounds of toys. That’s right, I’m battling toys. They are overtaking my house and they seem to multiply. I fight hard to keep things picked up, to put the toys where they go, but the reality is, I am losing the war. With a three and a half year old and a one year old at home, it’s a wonder why I even engage in this battle. It’s inevitable that the moment I can actually see the floor, one of my little darlings is right behind me, dumping out yet another basket of toys. I can’t count the number of times each day I crawl on the floor, bend over, or crouch down to retrieve one that has tried to escape. Seriously, do these toys clone themselves?
Just the other day, as I was on my knees picking up toys for the tenth time that morning, I thought to myself, “look at all this time I’m wasting.” And then it hit me. “Look at all this time I’m wasting!”
Instead of using all that time on my hands and knees griping, consumed in the task of clean up, I could be on my knees, picking up toys, praying for my children. I could take advantage of being on my knees. I could see it as a blessing instead of a battle. What a perfect opportunity. What a different perspective. It’s as if God reached down and smacked me with a fresh outlook. I now look forward to cleaning up the toys. I like knowing that I will have many, many, times throughout the day to cover my children in prayer.
Though it took me a while to realize it, but the battle really does belong to Lord.
PRAYER: Lord, it is so easy to see obstacles instead of opportunities. Help me to have a fresh perspective. Allow me to use my everyday to draw closer to You, to glorify You, and to make a difference for You. Remind me that every battle is an opportunity in waiting.
BIBLE VERSE: “…Do not be …discouraged…For the battle is not yours, but God’s” (2 Chronicles 20:15 NIV).
By Aubrey Spencer –
Paper plates are no longer safe with me around. Targets shudder. Even bowling pins are a bit afraid.
It’s true. You see – I’ve recently been to the gun range. For one afternoon, I was the star actress in “Wild Wild West, Aubrey Get Your Gun.” It all happened when we were in Kansas visiting my parents. My dad offered to take my brother-in-law and me to the gun range for an afternoon of target practice. What an experience! A hands shaking, palms sweating, heart racing, experience. It was my first time at the gun range. Any gun range for that matter. In fact it was my first time holding a gun, shooting a gun, basically anything with a gun. Now that I think about it, my dad and brother-in-law were awfully brave! It was a lot of fun. Scary. But, fun. I was a pretty decent shot for a first-timer. I came home that afternoon and told my husband and my mom that I felt like Angelina Jolie in an action flick. (So my imagination is grand – let a girl dream, will you?!) Who knew that “gun slinging” would end up being one of my favorite things I got to do on our vacation? It might have been scary, but I learned something new and had a great time doing it.
Of course, my ‘wild west experience’ got me thinking. Sometimes, we need to try new and scary things for God. The kind of things that make our world’s race and our comfort zones shake. We have to fill ourselves with bullets of bravery, imagination, passion, and willingness and take aim at the opportunities before us. Otherwise, we may never hit the target of what we’re meant to do, or be, for God. So, what do you think? Ready. . . aim. . . . . . . . .
PRAYER: Lord, please help me to be brave for You. Allow me opportunities to be bold for You and to try new things for You. But then grant me the courage to take hold of those opportunities. Help me to not give way to fear, but to be strong and courageous.
BIBLE VERSE: “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord you God will be with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9 NIV).