Lift Your Eyes

Psalm 121

Good afternoon!

I’m sure you have heard the saying – “when it rains, it pours”.  And it has sure felt like that around here the last couple of weeks.

As I spent some quiet time this morning on my bench out front, this psalm came to my mind.  As I opened my bible and read the familiar verses, I let it soak in deep.  It was like salve to my aching heart.

We all go through tough times; we all deal with struggles.  I pray that these words soak in deep to your soul today as well.

I lift up my eyes to the mountains – where does my help come from?  My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot slip – he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.

The LORD watches over you – the LORD is your shad at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night.

The LORD will keep you from all harm – he will watch over your life; the LORD will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.  Psalm 121

Blessings,

The Johnstons

Freedom Was Never Free

Good morning and Happy 4th of July!!

There are so many things to be thankful for today as we celebrate freedom.  Freedom and independence that has been fought for, died for, and bought with a price.  Freedom was never free.

Freedom… What does that word mean to you?

Freedom (2)

I’m sure there are lots of different opinions of what freedom means and why it matters.  But for me, the word freedom means so much, it’s hard to put words to.

It’s about sacrifice.  It’s about love.  It’s about humility.  It’s about giving.  It’s about selflessness.  It’s about the laying down of One’s life.

It was now about the sixth hour, and darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour, for the sun stopped shining.  And the curtain of the temple was torn in two.  Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.”  When he had said this, he breathed his last.  Luke 23:44-46

As Jesus died, He shed his blood for our freedom.  His blood poured out so we could stand in unity with the Father, free from the sin and bondage that held us captive.  Those chains that hold you down, they are broken in the freedom we gain in Jesus!

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

2 Corinthians 3:17

Freedom has continued to be bought and paid for by the shedding of blood and sacrifice of those who have served our country well.  We get the opportunity to choose.  We are not forced as slaves have been forced.  But in our own personal opportunity…what have we chosen?

Are we choosing to embrace our freedom to serve others?  Are we choosing to give of our lives, our time and our resources to help where it is needed?  Are we choosing to use our freedom to enhance or to hinder others?  Are we choosing to use our freedom, that was bought and paid for by the blood of Jesus, to help a world in need?

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.  Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.  Galatians 5:1

Let us stand firm.  As a country in the midst of turmoil and as individuals in the midst of struggle, let us not be burdened by the yoke of slavery, but instead step out in our freedom and rise up.

Let us rise up to bring comfort to the hurting.  To bring encouragement to the depressed.  To serve the Father with every good gift He has given us to in turn serve a world that is in need.

As we celebrate today, enjoying the festivities, let’s ponder how we are truly using our freedom.  The freedom that was gained through the blood of Jesus and the freedom protected by our military heroes.

Blessings,

The Johnstons

 

When Life Bombards Us

 

Good morning!

Anyone else feel absolutely bombarded by life lately?!  I know, I know, it’s summer right!! But along with swimming pools, T Ball, bike rides and frog catchin’ there is still work, chores, cleaning, etc. that needs done.

I totally feel like life has been controlling me lately instead of me putting life together in a planner.  LOL

But when we get bombarded and overwhelmed with all the activities that make our worlds go ’round I am learning that as long as my heart is grounded where it should be…everything else will work itself out.

There is no one holy like the LORD; there is no one besides you; there is no Rock like our God.  1 Samuel 2:2

There is no one else in the whole world that will ever fill our hearts like the Father does.

There is no other Rock that will ever be firm enough to hold us when life bombards us.

So, as we all dive into the second half of summer, let’s plant our feet firmly on the Rock, keep our eyes on Jesus, and our hearts set on His Word.

Blessings!

The Johnstons

Our Necessary Quiet Retreat

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You are my place of quiet retreat; I wait for your Word to renew me.

Psalm 119:114 MSG

Good morning!

In a world full of distraction where do we go for a quiet retreat?

As a mom to young children it seems like every direction I turn there is something calling out to me; piles of toys, dirty dishes, spilled milk, laundry baskets overflowing just to name a few.  It’s even hard to go to the bathroom by myself, with calls of “mom!!” coming through the door.

Some days our assignments are overwhelming.

Some days our jobs are hard.

Some days it feels like we are regressing and not gaining.

Some days we struggle for air as we can’t seem to look up over the mess of it all.

But throughout this journey I have learned that as I press into Jesus, He brings my quiet retreat.  It doesn’t mean that we have to follow a set of “rules” or wake up before our children to get our bible read.

It is in the freedom of relationship with the Father that we find our quiet…

It is when we call out to Him in the middle of the mess, in the middle of the dishes, in the middle of the laundry stacked high and the never-ending clean up.  It is when we open up our hearts, our lives, and let Him be in the center of it all.

He alone will bring us quiet retreat…and He alone will renew our strength.

Blessings,

The Johnstons

 

An Absolute Masterpiece

You are God's masterpiece

Good morning!

“Nothing short of an absolute masterpiece…” I thought to myself as I looked out over this body of water and gazed at the mountains before me.  “But that’s what you do Father, you make masterpieces.”

It’s so hard to feel like a masterpiece isn’t it?  This world tends to make us feel like we aren’t measuring up to its standards… But who set those standards anyways?

When we dive into God’s Word it tells us in Ephesians that we are God’s masterpiece, His workmanship, created anew (new or different in a positive way) in Christ Jesus.

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As we enter into relationship with the Father, giving him our heart, we are no longer bound by our sin, our mistakes, our past, our “old self”; but created new through the blood of Jesus to do the good things the Father planned for us in advance to do.

We don’t have to run the race of this world, be good enough, or measure up to its standards in order to feel like we are complete.  We just need to press into our relationship with the Father and follow His lead.

God is making us a masterpiece…day by day as we yield to his ways, his words, his teaching.  We can walk in confidence today knowing that we are His masterpiece.

Blessings,

The Johnstons

Dear Father

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When I was born you held me.  As I grew you guided me.

When I was scared you protected me.  When I was excited you would hug me.

When I needed guidance you shared wisdom with me.  When I felt alone you stayed with me.

When I wandered away you kept your eye on me…never letting me out of your site.

When I felt hopeless you held my hand.  When I doubted you encouraged me.

There have been days I have messed up, ran away, felt ashamed.  But your love never wavered.  It stayed steadfast, strong, relentless.

You have loved me with an everlasting love.  A love that is undeniable and constant.  A love that never fails, never gives up, never fades.  We don’t have to earn it, we don’t have to work for it, we don’t have to prove ourselves for it.

A love so amazing…

I personally have been blessed with an amazing earthly Father, whereas, some may not have been so fortunate to have that same experience.  See a father’s love comes from our heavenly Father. People here on earth attempt to replicate this love but it can only be perfected by our heavenly Father.

A love so perfect it is impossible to describe.

There is no other love like the love of a father…for it comes from the Father.

With Love,

The Johnstons

 

 

 

Summer Here We Come!

Summer Here We Come

Good morning!

Time, routine, schedules.  All words that have been floating around in the mind of every mother whose child/children are about to be out of school for the summer.  The “normal” routine of life is about to drastically change gears as school comes to an end and summer begins.

What do some of your summer schedules/routines look like?

We have thought a lot about this lately as our boys are set to head into their first fall of full time school.  What do we want the next three months to look like?

We know one thing for sure… We want to spend the summer pouring life into them.  So a few things on our list are:

  • Camping
  • Fishing
  • Swimming Pools
  • T-Ball
  • Hikes
  • Bible Camp

But life isn’t always about fun and games is it?  We also want to pour into our boys a work ethic.  A drive to grow into the kind of men this world needs.  So with that comes responsibilities, chores, helping around the house and the barn, as well as tending the garden and all the flowers they wanted to plant.

It’s never too early to teach them about the responsibilities that they will one day have.

Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.  Proverbs 22:6

 Let’s start off the summer full of fun, but also let’s instill in them the values that will help them reap a harvest later down the road.

Blessings,

The Johnston’s

The Slowness of Progress

 

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So the LORD God appointed a plant and it grew up over Jonah to be a shade over his head and deliver him from his discomfort.  And Jonah was extremely happy about the plant.  Jonah 4:6

Good morning!

Have you ever been completely frustrated?  Almost annoyed at the slowness of progress?  It doesn’t matter if we are parenting children who seem to not be getting the message, trying to grow our online businesses, or working at a relationship that seems to keep coming up short.  Sometimes it is easy to get worn down, stressed out, and flat frustrated at the slowness of progress.  It feels like a mountain we keep climbing yet the top doesn’t seem to be getting any closer.

I was feeling this very frustration when I read this verse out of Jonah while working on a bible study I am currently doing.  The words literally jumped off the page at me.  God appointed a plant…a plant! To provide protection for Jonah while he sat and sulked under his own man-made shelter and had his pity party.  After he had prayed to die, by the way.

While Jonah sat there feeling sorry for himself, God was still at work.  Don’t you love how God never stops working on our behalf.  Jonah had prayed to die, sat sulking under his shelter as God was working on his real protection.

We can sit and sulk and feel sorry for ourselves too, and we do, don’t we?  And honestly, it doesn’t do anybody any good.  Why we are throwing our pity party and wondering why our children won’t listen, why our business isn’t growing, or why our relationship isn’t working God is ALREADY working it out.  He is going to provide exactly what we need, when we need it.

If he can appoint a plant to provide protection for Jonah, I am confident that He can provide absolutely whatever it will take for us as well.

Let’s let our frustrations go.  They aren’t doing us any good…and let’s start trusting Him to provide what we need, when we need it.

Blessings,

The Johnstons

Finally Friday!

Boys tree

Good morning!

It’s finally Friday!! I don’t know about y’all, but this week.  Shew!  Coming off of Mother’s Day and celebrating all the gifts that encompass being a mom had me on this high, so to speak.  And then this week has just been one of those weeks.  One of those parenting weeks that has just been hard. You know the ones, when your children seem to fight and whine more than play and enjoy? And I felt my mood slipping from joyful to cranky in a hurry.

By Tuesday I felt like the week had already run me over already and I was desperately clinging to any strings left of my patience.  (Which, by the way, I didn’t get a hold of)

As I sat this morning in some time of prayer I read these verses out of Psalm

But you, O Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.  Turn to me and have mercy on me; grant your strength to your servant… Psalm 86:15-16a

The Father always knows exactly what we need to hear when we need to hear it.  He is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in love and faithfulness.  He is completely whole.  And for that I am so grateful.  He had already extended me the grace I needed and renewed my soul to continue on this good fight of parenthood.

In the next breath I prayed for His strength.  Not just any strength, but HIS strength. I don’t know about you, but we need every ounce of His strength we can get on this parenting journey.  It is not for the weak of heart.  And in the very next moment I felt Him speak to my heart… “It’s yours”.

Isn’t it amazing that we get to serve a God who is with us?  All the time He hears us, He loves us, and He is our Rock. He is behind us and there to encourage us and strengthen us when we turn to Him in our times of need.

Where do you need Him to provide you strength right now? Ask Him… He is always listening.

Blessings,

The Johnston’s

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