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Tag Archives: Jesus

More Than A Name

Welcome to the Overflow! Whether you’re an old friend or a new one, I’m glad you’re here.  This is a place where faith is spilled and souls are filled. I hope you’ll pull up a chair and stay awhile. If you like what you find, I hope you’ll sign up on the side bar to receive a little trickle of inspiration in your in-box now and then.  Or, if you’d rather, we can stay connected on Facebook or Twitter.

Today I’m over at Proverbs 31 talking about how Jesus has a name to meet our every need.  If you haven’t had a chance to read it, you can find it here. But before you go, I’d love to tell you a story about a little girl who insisted she was more than her name and a mommy who is learning the same lesson about her Savior…

When my youngest daughter stormed into the world nine years ago, we named her Magdalene Hope.

It was a name that we had prayed over, dreamed over, and declared over her precious life long before we’d gazed into her deep blue eyes.

But in those precarious preschool years, Maggie Hope changed her name as often as she changed her underwear (which was quite often, since my daughter’s goal was to wear ALL the princesses panties in her drawer in one day).

My littlest girl’s obsession with names kept life interesting, indeed.  When I  tucked our Maggie Hope into bed each night, I never knew who would wake beneath those soft pink covers in the morning.

Some mornings it was Emma Rose who pattered down the hallway with Maggie’s floral fleece blankie in hand. Emma Rose looked just like my baby girl with bed head, but I didn’t tell her that. Instead, I kissed her tousled hair and ushered her to the breakfast table where my school-agers were filling their tummies before the school bus arrived.

Lucky for us, Emma Rose liked to eat Lucky Charms without milk for breakfast like Maggie Hope often did. And when she’d eaten all the marshmallow moons out of the cereal bowl, Emma Rose offered to stand by the window and keep watch for the big yellow bus. (Which was a good thing since our normal “look-out-lady” had gone missing during the night).

Emma Rose fit right into our morning chaos. She sang silly songs and pressed her nose to the window and made “fog prints” with her breath on the pane as we hurried around the house gathering snow boots and lunch boxes, permission slips and library books. She only yelled at me once when I mistakenly called her Maggie as I raced by her window perch in search of a misplaced homework folder.

However, Emma Rose must have had other things to do that day, because as soon as our big kids hopped on the bus, Emma Rose disappeared and left Annelise in her place. Annelise reminded me a bit of my fifth-born, too. She wore a pink tutu with bright red sparkle shoes and kindly invited me to a tea party spread out on the coffee table in my honor. She served me lukewarm tap water from a pink plastic teapot and called me darling a time or two. But I must have been boring company for such an elegant girl, because when Annelise went to the bathroom, she never returned, and I was left to finish my tap-water-tea alone.

I didn’t have to be lonely for long, though, because Emily showed up next in a shimmering green leotard and a bright-pink-lipstick smile. Emily greeted me with a warm hug and announced that it was my lucky day! She told me she was performing a dance show, and I could be her royal guest.  She quickly built me a “throne” of pillows and insisted that I relax and enjoy the show from my regal seat. Her performance was a blend of Disney musical moves and original three-year-old grooves. Her dramatic spins and twirls reminded me of another dancer called Magdalene Hope, but Emily insisted that she’d never heard of a girl by that name.

Bethany and Maryann stopped by later. And Daffodil and Bluebell made an appearance around snack time. But before the day was done, Magdalene Hope returned donning her last pair of princess underwear and a battered old cowboy hat.

While we loved Magdalene Hope most, we didn’t complain about the princesses and rock stars who appeared in her absence. We simply welcomed them into our chaos and marveled at the precious and peculiar ways they resembled our littlest girl.

While we expected Maggie’s grand imagination to wane over time, we secretly hoped that our lively guests wouldn’t disappear completely. After all, each four-foot “visitor”  gave us an endearing glimpse into our youngest daughter’s vibrant personality.

However, a few months after Maggie began attending preschool, her dramatic antics gave way to a subtle sullenness.

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Walk in Victory: A Guest Post and a Give-Away

When I first met my friend and Proverbs 31 teammate, Wendy Blight, I remember thinking, “I want to know my Savior like she does!” Wendy is a passionate pursuer of Jesus. An inspiring lover of His Word and a beautiful teacher of His truth. And the more I’ve gotten to know Wendy, the more I’ve realized that Wendy doesn’t just know Jesus; she loves Him with her whole heart. And she makes me want to love Him more, too.

Today it’s my great privilege to welcome Wendy to the Overflow to share from her new Bible study on 1 John, I Am Loved: Walking in the Fullness of God’s Love.  Plus she’s giving away a copy to one of my readers below! So, keep reading and be sure to enter for a chance to win before you go.

My husband and I began our marriage in a difficult place. Eleven months before we walked down the aisle, I was the victim of a horrific crime. For years, I lived in a prison of fear. It consumed my every waking moment. I avoided being alone at all costs.

Monty became my safe place. Being home alone terrified me. So, I never wanted him to leave me. When he chose to play basketball, or go to dinner with friends, I pouted, whining and complaining that he wasn’t putting me first.

This fractured our marriage. Days were hard and nights were long. Soon I began to imagine Monty looking elsewhere for the companionship he lacked with me. I demanded to know when and where he was at all times. When I couldn’t get a hold of him, I panicked.

Jealousy infiltrated my heart.

I knew these feelings were wrong. Even destructive.

 But I didn’t know how to overcome them.

As jealous thoughts took root, they became a mental obsession that fed me lies.

I felt my marriage, and my husband, slipping away. Completely at a loss to know what to do, I dropped to my knees and begged God to help me.

Thankfully, God made a way to release jealousy’s grip on me – and it was through loving Him. As I came to know God more intimately, my jealousy subsided.

God opened my eyes to see Christ in a new way … as my Savior and my “first love.” Until that time, I had found that love and security in my husband. I had confused love and need. I needed Monty so desperately that he became my savior. He was my defender and my protector from the evil in the world. I needed him more than anything else. If I was with him, I felt safe.

Monty sat on the throne of my heart; not God.

This, sister, is the perfect recipe for an unhealthy, destructive relationship. We should never “need” our husbands, our children, or anyone else more than Christ.

We should have only one Savior, and His name is Jesus.

We should have only one first love, and His name is Jesus.

This knowledge put my marriage in perspective. Jesus replaced Monty as my “first love.” Jesus is now my Defender, my Refuge and my Strong Tower. It was in Him and Him alone that I overcame all my fears.

And, Monty became the gift God had given me on this earth to reveal His perfect love to me. As God took His rightful place on the throne of my heart, Monty took his rightful place too.

God’s love left an indelible mark on my heart. His is a distinctive love that, when allowed to blossom and mature, becomes a driving force that nothing can contain.

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The “LIKE” that Matters Most

Welcome to the Overflow!  Whether you’re an old friend or a new one, I hope you’ll linger here where faith is spilled and souls are filled. If you like what you find, feel free to sign up on the sidebar to receive my blog in your inbox now and then. Or, if you’d rather, we can stay connected on Facebook or Twitter.  Better yet, I’d love to meet you face to face. I’m still scheduling speaking engagements for 2017/2018, and I’d be delighted to bring a message of encouragement to a ministry event near you. 

Speaking of encouragement, I’m over at Proverbs 31  today sharing about a life-changing truth once spoken to me through the peanut-butter-laced lips of a four-year-old:  Not only does Jesus love us; but (gasp!) He likes us, too. Keep reading and discover why He delights in little old you and me. And don’t forget to sign up for the give-away at the end of this post. It just might help you to delight in Him, too!

“Mommy, tell me what you were thinking the first time you saw me…” My eight-year-old turns her head to look at me with an expectant smile, already anticipating the answer she knows so well.

This “baby” of mine is no longer a baby; but she still loves to climb on my lap. So, on this evening not so long ago she’s stretched out across me,  her sun-kissed legs tangled in mine as we end our day together in the big leather chair by the window.

The book we’ve reading before bedtime rests on my knees, but tonight, my youngest daughter needs to hear those treasured lines of her own story. Again.

I close my eyes as if a mosaic of her birth is painted on the back of my drooping lids. And I recount the details of that bitter cold January day when this fifth child of mine moved from womb to world.

She already knows every detail of this familiar narrative, but I tell the tale again–The routine 38 week appointment that raised unexpected concerns, the doctor who decided we needed to get the baby out as soon as possible, the flurry that ensued and the fears that rushed in.

I recount how I hurried home to grab my suitcase and tucked her “big brother” in for a nap; how Grandma came to the door so I could slip out and gave me a hug that squeezed those tears from my throat to my eyes.

I remember aloud how I drove back to the hospital all alone and talked to God  every mile of the way.

And how right as those little feet tucked just beneath my stretched-out skin gave a mighty kick, God whispered assurance to my anxious soul.

“What did He say?” she asks, not because she’s curious, but because she loves to hear this part of the story we share.

“He reminded me that He’d already scripted every moment of your birth,” I whisper with a smile. “Every second of your whole life,” I marvel, my voice dropping to a holy hush.  “And He told me that however you came- healthy and whole or broken and sick- you were exactly the gift my heart needed.”

I bend my head a bit to kiss my daughter’s crown of tangled hair and she lifts her chin to look at me.”And then your heart stopped beating so fast, right Mommy?” this girl on my lap asks with pleasure.

“Yep,” I say as I recall once again the supernatural peace that rushed my trembling soul as I pulled my suitcase down that long sterile hallway to the OB ward.

I tell of how her daddy dressed in blue scrubs met me in that hospital room, his strong and gentle confidence buoying mine.

I recount how we prayed before the C-section began, how quiet tears of anticipation baptized my cheeks when we lifted our pleas to Heaven and asked God to guide the surgeon’s hands.

“And then FINALLY, you saw me!” my daughter exclaims.

I remember the moment shrouded in wonder and nod my head with a happy sigh. “Yes,” I tell my giddy girl, “That’s when I knew God’s words were true. You were the gift my heart had always needed.  You were my Magdalene Hope.”

Maggie wraps her slender fingers around mine and presses her chin against my chest. Then she voices the question that sits quiet on her heart. “And did you like me right away…Even though I couldn’t do anything like jump rope or tell you jokes or color you pictures?”

“I liked you the minute we met,” I answer. “And I loved you long before that…”

My girl exhales a satisfied sigh and the woods beyond the window alight with the golden glow of sunset. And as we sit there in silence I marvel that my daughter’s pressing question is simply this– “Did you like me even though…?” 

She’s not surprised by my love, this “baby” of mine. It’s my like that astounds her.

And then I realize that we’re more alike than different.

After all, I rarely doubt my Savior’s love.

He proved it once and for all when He took my place on Calvary’s cross—There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends (John 15:3)

His love does not surprise me anymore. It’s His like that leaves me speechless.

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When Jesus Asks for More

Welcome to all who are stopping by from Proverbs 31 Ministries today. I hope you’ll make yourselves at home. If you like what you find, feel free to subscribe to my monthly posts by signing up on the side bar. Or if you’d rather, we can connect on Facebook or Twitter.  Better yet, I’d love to meet you in person! I’m still scheduling speaking engagements for the upcoming year, so let me know if you’d like me to bring a message of encouragement to an event near you.

Over at Encouragement for Today, I’m sharing about that one small thing that has changed my life in a great big way. It’s a little prayer I learned when I was sixteen years old, and nearly three decades later,  I still pray it every day. Because I’m learning that in order to experience all of Jesus, I need to give Him all of me…

“I think Jesus is asking me for more…” my friend admitted as we lingered over steamy mugs of earth-brown java in the balcony of our small town coffee shop.

Her slender fingers broke her blueberry muffin into bitesized bits and she held my gaze as she fumbled with her food.

Our lives had been twined for years. We’d shared maternity clothes and potty training woes; carpooling schedules and marriage tips. We’d shared bleacher seats and book recommendations, prayer requests and parenting concerns. But just recently we’d begun to share the wee morning hours of our Saturday mornings.

Desperate for sisterhood in a season of diapers and discipline, short nights and long days, we hauled ourselves out of bed in the dark before dawn now and then and shared an hour of coffee and conversation before our children woke.

We were sleep-deprived and weary red-eyed, but we were learning the simple joys of bedhead beauty and yoga pants, unfiltered honesty and unbridled tears. And little by little, we’d  begun to share more than motherhood’s steps; we’d started sharing our strides of faith as well.

“What do you mean?” I asked in response to my friend’s forthright words.

“I don’t know,” my friend hesitated, her lips pursed into a soft pink question mark as she fumbled to explain the burden on her heart. “Lately I’ve been feeling like Jesus doesn’t just want just a part of my life; He wants all of my life.” 

I sipped slowly and pondered her words. And for a moment, I let my mind shuffle back to when I was  a sixteen-year-old girl lying beneath the stars at church camp.

That was the first time I’d been challenged to make Jesus my greatest dream, and the first time I’d had to admit that He wasn’t my defining desire.

I’d given Jesus my heart as a little girl, and I’d fallen in love with His lavish mercy and constant kindness. I’d valued His friendship and treasured His Word. But when the adventure of life had stretched before me like an undiscovered road, I’d wanted to blaze my own trail. I was content to have my Savior to travel beside me, but I wasn’t interested in inviting Him to lead and guide me. I wanted Him to fix me when I was broken, but I didn’t want to follow Him along the broken way.

I wanted all Jesus offered, but I wasn’t sure I wanted to offer Him all of me.

My friend squirmed in her seat and swatted a strand of hair that had slipped from her messy ponytail. “I don’t know if I’m brave enough to give Him all the pieces…”

Her honest declaration dangled over those muffin crumbs between us, and the first rays of morning light slithered through the dusty window beside us.

We peered beyond the smudgy glass and watched the sky alight with the pink-hued promise of a new day. And finally I asked in a raspy whisper, “So what are you afraid of?”

Quiet tears welled in my friend’s eyes; then she exhaled a jagged sigh. “What if I don’t like the life He’s dreamed for me?

The aroma of warm bagels and dark espresso beans wafted through the air, and I reached over those muffin crumbs and wrapped my fingers around my soul sister’s trembling hand.

I knew that flavor of fear. I’d drunk from that deep well of doubt for years.

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When You Don’t Want to Miss the Christmas Miracle

Hello!  Welcome to all who are stopping by from Proverbs 31Ministry today. And merry Christmas to my new friends and old!clip_art_illustration_of_a_chair_with_a_flower_pattern_0515-0811-2017-1316_SMU

I’m always honored to share a few minutes with you here at the Overflow! If you like what you find and would like a little inspiration to dribble into your inbox now and then, feel free to subscribe to my monthly posts on the side bar or connect with me on Facebook or Twitter. Over at Encouragement for Today, I’m telling a tale of a naughty toddler, an exasperated mama, and a lesson I learned about Christmas while huddling in a cramped corner.  But before you go, let me tell you about another little girl who helped me recover my waning wonder many Christmases ago…

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It happened thirteen years ago in a grocery store in Lincoln, Nebraska, but when I think about that awkward moment in the check out line, I can still feel the red hot embarrassment that rose from my neck to my cheeks. The store was bursting with holiday shoppers and my one-week-from-due-date belly was bursting with our third child. And my three-year-old daughter Lizzy was bursting with excitement as she anticipated the arrival of her new sibling and the thrill of the Christmas season that was unfolding in lights and color all around us.

Maybe it was the giddy gladness of those the tinny Christmas tunes streaming from the speakers overhead or the giant inflatable Santa Clause that had greeted us as we’d hurried through the doors of the grocery store that morning, but for whatever reason, my daughter could not contain her joy on that winter’s day long ago. So, as we in a slow, snaking line waiting for our turn at the check out counter, my curly-haired girl flashed an endearing smile to the gentleman behind us.  She sidled up beside him as if they’d been best friends for ages. Then, with a twinkle in her big blue eyes, she asked the silver-haired senior, “Do you see my mommy’s BIG tummy?”

Right on cue, the poor man’s eyes bolted from the smiling face of my little girl to my bulging midsection. I felt the burn of a rising blush as Lizzy drew nearer to her captive audience. She stood on her tiptoes and craned her neck so she could loudly whisper something in that poor man’s ear.

“You won’t believe what God is GWOWING in there!”  She paused for dramatic effect, batted her long lashes and then fired the punch line with breathy glee:  “I know it looks like a basketball, but it’s weally A MIWACLE!”

The old man feigned a look of shock to satisfy my daughter and then grinned over her bobbing head at my crimson face.  I flashed him a paltry smile and sighed with relief when the cashier gave me the go-ahead to unload my groceries on the moving belt. Of course, I tried to pretend that the cashier was just chuckling to herself because she had a joke running through her head, but the way she kept glancing furtively at my belly, I knew she’d overheard that my little girl’s declaration.

I sighed and wished my own excitement matched my daughter’s ever-growing sense of wonder. Lizzy’s awe had grown with each added inch of my skin-stretched middle. But sadly, as the press of the holidays hovered close and the aches and pains of pregnancy clamored loud, my wonder was waning fast.  And on that day in the grocery store, the miracle beneath my heart felt heavy and cumbersome rather than wistful and wondrous.

Please understand, I was incredibly thankful for the blessing of my third born. I’d hoped and wished and waited for the child in my womb. I’d walked through the treacherous waters of infertility with too many friends not to be keenly aware of the lavish gift I’d been given. But the closer the calendar inched toward the arrival of the baby, the more my eyes were fixed on the must-do’s in front of me instead of on the miracle inside of me. And when my eyes shifted from the baby to the busy-ness, my zeal was zapped.

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