Month: August 2017

A Place of Refuge

20864277_10154534999866511_985972911_nHey y’all… how’s your mama and ‘em?

My “baby” girl started college at Co-Lin this week.  To say that I am proud of her is an understatement.  Dacey is an all around good kid.  She is fun to be around.  She is quiet and reserved (until she knows you well), but vocal and opinionated when it counts.  She is stubborn to a fault, but it is that stubbornness that gives her the resolve to succeed at whatever she puts her mind to do.  More than all of that, Dacey has a deep, abiding love for Christ and a faith walk that naturally invites others to follow where she is going.

Dacey breezed through her high school homeschool years working mostly independently and finishing with good grades.  Her ACT score qualified her for a partial academic scholarship which also brought the perk of having a private room at Co-Lin. 20883545_10154534999901511_952048137_o

We went over to Co-Lin three separate times last week to prepare Dacey’s dorm for her arrival.  It was important to me that her room be set up nice in order to give her a quiet, peaceful place of retreat from the chaos and noise that surrounds college life.  With many items she’d received as graduation gifts and others that we had already laying around the house, we were able to transform her drab dorm into a safe haven that is fit for royalty.

God has provided His children a similar place of retreat.  Proverbs 18:10 (ESV) says, “The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe.”   When the circumstances of this life and this world become too much to bear, He assures us that He is always there with us.  In Psalm 139 the Psalmist asks, “Where can I go from your presence?  If I rise on the wings of the dawn or settle on the far side of the sea even there you are with me.”   Throughout the book of Psalm, David refers to God as his refuge.  In Psalm 18:30 he says, “This God—his way is perfect; the word of the Lord proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him.”

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Whatever you are facing this week, let Jesus be your place of retreat.  Take refuge in Him.  When you do, He promises that His peace that surpasses all understanding will guard your heart and your mind.

Have a blessed week, y’all!

The Effect of Your Focus

Hey y’all… how’s your mama and ‘em?

Focus on JesusPhotography has long been a therapeutic hobby of mine.  I find great delight in capturing images that bring joy to my soul.  If you follow my Sivils and Gold page on Facebook, you’ll quickly see that my children and/or dogs are usually the subject of my pictures.  Pictures are especially important to me because they take me back to a time otherwise forgotten.  They are keys to all of my favorite memories.  I am not the world’s best photographer, but over the years, I have found my niche and know my limits.

A few weeks ago I was asked to do Senior portraits for the son of a close friend. I was hesitant because of how important the pictures would be to the family.  I made my friend promise that if she was not 100% happy with them that she’d take her son to a professional photographer.  Since I do not charge, she wouldn’t be out any money.  She happily agreed.  We spent a few hours one Saturday going to various locations to shoot the pictures.  Towards the end of our session, it began to rain; so we called it a day.  Once I got home and began editing the pictures, I was mostly pleased with the pictures, but noticed towards the end of our shoot, several of the images were blurred (meaning they were out of focus).  In an attempt to “beat the rain”, I did not take the time to carefullyIMG_6562 make sure that the pictures were as sharp as the ones at the beginning of our session.  I was able to do some fixes in the editing, but once an image is out of focus, there isn’t a whole lot you can do to improve it.  We did end up with several great pictures that the family appreciated, but I deleted a few without showing anyone because of the obvious imperfections.

A few days after I’d sent the pictures to the family, the Holy Spirit nudged my heart.  He reminded me that a life that isn’t focused on Christ is filled with distractions and can also become a blur if not corrected.  Hebrews 12 1b-2a (NIV) says, “And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.”  When our eyes are fixed on Christ, life becomes more focused and better balanced.

Creating a focused photograph directly depends on the amount of light that passes through the lens of the camera.  Creating a focused life directly depends on the amount of light that passes through the lens of our heart.  John 4:5 (NLT) tells us, “The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.”  As we spend time in the Bible and in prayer, the light of Jesus shines brighter in our lives.  It causes shadows to dissipate and brings us more in line with His perfect plan for each of us.

Proverbs 4 talks about ways to attain wisdom.  Two of the ways are described in verses 23 and 25 (NLT).  “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.  Look straight ahead and fix your eyes on what lies before you.”

As you go out this next week, I pray that your eyes are fixed on Jesus.  When He is the subject of “the big picture” of your life, the distractions of this world will fade away.

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Have a blessed week, y’all!

What Weddings and The Boy Scouts Have in Common

Hey y’all… how’s your mama and ’em?

This past weekend I was honored to attend two very different ceremonies for some very awesome young folks that I’ve had the pleasure of watching grow up through the years.  The first was the wedding ceremony of one of my daughter’s oldest friends to her high school sweetheart.  The second was an Eagle Scout Court of Honor Ceremony for Daniel Youngblood.  Though it would seem that the two had nothing in common, as I listened to the speakers I found a common theme woven throughout both ceremonies – servanthood.

The hallmark of a happy marriage is the husband and wife mutually striving to put the other’s needs ahead of their own.  In serving one another, each find fulfillment.  When one of the two insist on putting themselves first, disagreements and conflict will ensue.

The central purpose of the boy scouts is to serve others.  As the scoutmaster pointed out during Daniel’s Eagle Scout Ceremony, with each badge a scout earns a new skill that is learned to assist in better serving others.

Before anyone can become an effective leader, they must first learn to serve.  Jesus said in Mark 10:45, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”  God asks us to do the same.  “But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.” Galatians 5:13b

In today’s society, the word “serve” often makes people cringe.  Somehow the word has become associated with tasks that no one wants.  We imagine trips to Outer Mongolia or washing the feet of a dirty child.  More often than not though, a servant’s heart is developed at home in little things that families tend to do for one another daily.  Those actions trickle down into how we treat those outside of our homes and in our communities.  They become opportunities to minister to others in simple ways that oftentimes are overlooked.  Holding a door open for a stranger, picking up and returning something someone dropped, or sharing a cold water on a hot day says more to people about who we are than the best written biography.  In all of our actions and especially in serving, our sincerest goal should be to be a reflection of the love of God in our lives.

UntitledEphesians 6:7 challenges us, “Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people.”  This week be mindful of your actions and look for ways in which you can serve God through serving others.  Remember, even just a smile goes a long way.

 

Have a blessed week, y’all!