Coming soon…like tomorrow

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Okay y’all…we’re a little excited around here. I’m about to show you something I’ve been working on this since last October (no, not the book…but wouldn’t that be exciting news?).

In August I tried to find a designer to help me freshen up the ole blog. Well, I met Annie (from Be Small Studios …creator of gorgeous watercolors…) at the Allume Conference last October. When I dug a little further I discovered her husband, Ted, designed blogs (Contemplate Design). When I dug even further I discovered he had designed two of my favorite bloggers’ sites (www.aholyexperience.com & www.lisajobaker.com).

I loved how Ann’s site fit perfectly with her purpose (highlighting her photography, resources & content) & how Lisa-Jo’s site fit perfectly with her purpose (community focused & mommy friendly). So I reached out to Annie & she set up a Skype chat for Ted & I.

This is the fun “God part”…

Before our chat, Ted sent me an email…”I’m looking forward to discussing the focus of your site. I’ve actually met you before. I went to Taylor University and lived on your brother wing.” (each wing/floor of the dorms had a matching brother/sister wing/floor).

Cool, huh?

Once I saw his face on Skype I immediately knew who he was.

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The crazy part is I wouldn’t have known Ted if I hadn’t had taken a big step of faith back in college. You see I wanted to become the vice president of our class. But my hall director had a different idea. She thought I should pray about being a RA (Residence Assistant). But In order to be an RA that year I would have to move to a different floor…which at a small school is like switching sororities half-way through college.

I listened. I prayed. When I prayed I felt God nudging me to trust Him. Even though it would mean not living with friends. And even if I didn’t know any of the girls on the new floor.

It was one of the BEST decisions I have ever made. God brought 10 new freshman that year to my wing. These girls bonded quickly, were full of life & we had a blast!

You know what? Of all my college friends I am closest to this group of girls.

So when Ted said he’d met me before…he was on my brother wing…the year I was an RA…I thought, “Of course, because that was God’s decision & He knew back in 1997 where I would be in 2013. He makes our paths straight.”

Since that first Skype chat in October Ted and I have been discussing the vision & purpose of GodCenteredMom.com. He has done a fabulous job creating exactly what I wanted.

It’s a mixture of my fun side/my serious side/my mommy side. I hope you can find encouragement for those hard mommy days & resources to help you know God more. 

So come back tomorrow and you’ll see a whole new wide-open space with room to breathe & connect & spur one another on to good works!

(group hug)

Fahrvergnugen…time to enjoy the ride

It’s not a common practice…me running into the street (Northwest Highway, to be exact). I tend toward predictable and safe. Taking risks? Not so much.

So when Quade yelled with excitement and pointed out his window toward an object on the ground he wanted, I considered saying, “no” and “I can’t get out of the car and get that”…but instead I chose “yes” and “brave” (secretly knowing the serious mommy points I would earn).

Maybe I’m making this sound more cavalier than it was. I didn’t jump out of a moving car into oncoming traffic or anything. We were at a stop light and the treasured item sat only a few feet away. Checking to make sure no cars were coming down the shoulder, I hopped out of the car and grabbed this:

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That’s right…treasured.

You see, for the past week any time one of our clan spotted a Volkswagen, you heard the shout: “Fahrvergnügen”. (German for “driving enjoyment”… remember the VW commercials from back in the 90s?).

Finding VWs has become an obsession a healthy competition. It’s kinda fun to have a “thing” we share as a family…like a secret Fahrvergnugen society.

You know what’s amazing is how many VWs we see now that we are looking for them. I know there hasn’t been a rash purchasing of Volkswagens in the past week. But no joke in a ten minute drive we’ll count like 15!

The counting and searching makes the car rides more enjoyable. There’s something to focus our attention (instead of begging for a different song to be played or whining for a toy someone else has).

The other day I thought about our little game and how it relates to my hard days at home. Those days when the baby unloads every cabinet in the kitchen and the boys can’t seem to remember to sit down at the table to eat. On those days I can’t wait for them to all grow up. Hoping the next stage of development will be better than the one I’m in.

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I’m just hoping and waiting in the midst of my assumed “suffering” (a comparable ‘breeze’ to 99.5% of the world, mind you…but I digress). In Psalm 130 we read,

“I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; my soul waits for the LORD more than watchman for the morning, more than watchman for the morning.”

So what more can I do than “wait” and “hope” during my long days with little ones? 

The psalmist suggests I act like a watchman. A watchman is diligent, learns, studies people. A watchman is also confident that someone else owns the building he is watching.

Waiting does not mean doing nothing…It means going about our assigned tasks, confident that God will provide the meaning and the conclusions. It is the opposite of desperate and panicky manipulations, of scurrying and worrying. And hoping is not dreaming. It is not spinning an illusion of fantasy to protect us from our boredom or our pain.”–Eugene Peterson (“A Long Obedience in the Same Direction”)

Pause before you read this next line:

(Hoping) means a confident alert expectation that God will do what he said he will do.” -Eugene Peterson

Confident. Alert. Expectation.

Like the confidence, alertness & expectation my boys have when looking for VW emblems. There is no doubt in their minds they will see one while we are driving. Because every time we drive somewhere we see several.

When I’m home with the boys I need the same confidence, alertness, & expectation, that God will do what he said he will do. There is purpose in this season. And by “wishing” it away, it’s like letting all those precious VWs go by unnoticed. I have to make a conscious choice to see.

I know we’ve heard “sieze the moment” & “they grow up so fast” & “carpe diem”…but if you hear enough older women tell you something, I’m of the mindset that maybe we should listen.

So, for me, confident-alert-expectation means stopping and being present in the middle of a moment. Taking mental pictures. Or actual ones (although sometimes taking the pictures distracts me from really enjoying the moment…you know?).

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Practically speaking, Instagram has given me eyes for these moments (if you want to keep up with our day-to-day on Instagram…find me here). Even if my past motivation has been social, the habit has been formed. I see life in snapshots (and gifts I count).  I pay attention more to the details and the wonder of these amazing boys…like a watchman waits for morning. 

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What are you going to watch for today? 

(perhaps we can coin a new “carpe diem” phrase…”Fahrvergnugen”…enjoy the ride)

The one parenting question you need to answer

A few weeks ago I learned why we don’t often visit Bruce at work. Taking all four boys to eat lunch with Bruce to celebrate Quade’s 7 1/2 birthday and Knox’s 1st birthday was two bananas shy of a fruit basket.

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Watts greeted Bruce’s employees by lifting up his shirt. Price proceeded to pour salt & pepper out on to the table. Knox celebrated his birthday rightly by dropping his glass bottle on the floor and smashing it to pieces (like a Greek wedding celebration…opah!).

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had a ticket to attend dotMOM, a mom conference, that weekend. The conference actually started around the same time my boys were running circles around a lunchroom table. But I chose to skip the first keynote session with Angie Smith (one of my faves) and fulfill my motherly birthday duties. 

Later that night I finally arrived at dotMOM just as Travis Cottrell began leading worship (one of my highlights by the way). Unlike Angie Smith, a name I was quite familiar with, I had never heard of the evening keynote speaker before.

Apparently, John Croyle, used to play football at Alabama. The first question in my head was, “What could an ex-football player teach me about motherhood?” (arrogant much, Heather?).

Then as Big Mama & Boo Mama introduced John and gave his bio, I had the following inner monologue: “How could his oldest child be 57, when that’s about how old he looks? Did I just hear him say he has 26 children in college? And excuse me, how many total children does he have? over 1800?”

Then John Croyle explained he owns a ranch in Alabama for children who have been orphaned, neglected or abused (ohhhh). A ranch he started instead of pursuing a professional football career (maybe I judged him a little prematurely). He shows these children a love they’ve never known and gives them a hand up to a better life. When they arrive at the ranch John tells them four simple truths:

  1. I love you.
  2. I will never lie to you.
  3. I will stick with you till you are grown.
  4. There are boundaries. Don’t cross them.

How awesome are those?

This ex-football player really knocked this momma over the head with truth when he shared the ONE question he believes shapes every parent’s actions.

You ready? Here it is: 

“What are you afraid of for your children?”

Stop and think about it. What are you afraid of?

While I sat in the large conference room my immediate answer was:  I’m afraid of what people think about my boys. I’m afraid of them getting permanently hurt. I’m afraid of messing them up. I’m afraid they won’t pursue God as adults.

John Croyle argues, “If you don’t get control of your fear, your fear will conquer you. If you are afraid of your children not measuring up. Let that go because it’s not your line to draw. God’s got His line of what He wants your kids to be.”

powerful stuff.

John’s words lingered in my mind for days after…”What am I afraid of for my children?”. Taking note of my behavior, in light of my fears, I realized my actions often didn’t show my true desire to love, cherish and nurture my boys…for instance:

  • Getting upset that toys were left out–>fearful they will become adult slobs & fearful I’m not a good wife if I don’t keep the house clean.
  • Losing my temper because one brother hurts another brother (again)–> fearful there is more evil than good in their hearts.
  • Becoming Impatient when I have to keep nagging them to get ready to go–> fearful of how it looks when we are consistently late.
  • Embarrassed and then controlling when the boys act a little “wild” in public–> fearful others will think I’m a bad mom.

Yes, I want to train my boys to have good habits…but training in grace (not fear). Yes, I want to help them love one another…but by showing them gentle love. Yes, we need to be on time to commitments…but not because we need to impress others. Yes, we need to have self-control out in public…but not because we are consumed with man’s approval.

John’s right. “Guilt & fear are Satan’s biggest weapons.” Fear is robbing me the joy of mothering these precious boys. Because when I look back at the pictures above I see their smiles and realize they weren’t being “bad”… just being boys…in an office cafeteria.

Over and over in the Bible we read, “Do not fear”. Do. not. fear. “There is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus.” It all comes down to John’s last bold statement:

“You are a daughter of a King. Act like it!” -John Croyle

I’m already loved by the King of the Universe. Time to put on that big girl tiara and start believing it.

How do you manage your fears? Do you have Scripture memorized? Do you rationalize why your fear is unrealistic? Do you realize how much you are loved already?

Let’s tackle our fears ladies! for the children.

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What We’re Reading {Easter Edition}

A friend stopped me in the hallway at church last Sunday and said, “I remember you talking about getting your boys the book, “The Three Trees” for Easter last year. What other books did you buy them?” 

And here we go. The next holiday is coming, just as I tossed my son’s valentine’s cookies in the trash today (yes, he had been saving them).  After two months of celebrating birthdays and half-birthdays, Valentine’s days and an anniversary, I’m going to need the next month to get my heart in the right place for Easter.

Because this is the big one..the one holiday that really matters. The reason for Lent makes sense to me now. We all need a time to prepare our hearts to truly grasp the meaning of this holiday. Our kids need help knowing Easter is not just about bunnies, candy, and brightly colored eggs.

So I’m thankful for my friend’s question because she helped me be proactive in planning for Easter. Maybe you need help too as you recover from a Valentine’s Day coma induced by assembling 200 Pinterest perfect superhero lollipops. Whether you’re starting to think about how to talk with your brood about the life of Christ, his death & resurrection or you’re wanting to buy books for their Easter baskets, here are some books we’re reading…

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If you’re on the fence on whether or not to “do” Easter baskets…check out this post I wrote last year –> Making Easter Personal for Preschoolers <– (click this title)

Easter book ideas:

  1. The Three Trees **must own…three trees are transformed into manger, boat, & cross…but so much more to this story!
  2. Benjamin’s Box **goes along with the Resurrection eggs (see below)
  3. The Parable of the Lily **simple story illustrating the often undervalued gift of Jesus
  4. Easter Story (by Brian Wildsmith) **gorgeous illustrations (don’t own it though)

Here are a couple of our new favorite Children’s Bibles if you want to read the gospels leading up to Easter:

The Children’s Story Bible by Catherine Vos

We read a chapter out of this Bible each night (and by “we” I mean, “Bruce & the boys”). Beyond a typical picture Bible, I love the way the stories and historical events are written, not too advanced for my littlest guy (3yo) while still engaging for the oldest (7yo).  contains 110 chapters of old testament stories and 92 of new testament stories.

The Children’s Illustrated Bible (Selina Hastings, published by New Leaf Press)

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For the kids who need more than even the traditional picture Bible…my 5 year old (a tactile & visual learner) always chooses this Bible for our “tea time”. What makes this Bible special are the color photographs of real plants, animals, people, artifacts which coincide with the story. As he sees a picture of the Mount of Olives as we read about Jesus praying in the garden, these places become real. The Bible comes alive for him.

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For the next couple weeks leading up to Easter if you need some “tools” to help you talk with your kiddos. Here are a couple of ideas: 

Resurrection Eggs

Basically they are 12 plastic eggs with little surprises inside which become a talking point in the story of Jesus. I know these eggs have been around awhile, but my boys still love them. I find it’s best to do this activity before your first real Easter egg hunt. Otherwise the little guys are pretty disappointed to find a little piece of cloth instead of a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup (who can blame ’em?).

If you don’t have time to buy them before Easter or don’t want to spend the money here are some links to how to make your own: Homemade Resurrection Eggs (like how she did one a day & hung on an easter tree).

What’s In the Bible: Jesus is the Good News (Vol.10)

I don’t know if you’ve gotten any of these videos yet, but I think they are really well made. Silly, yes. But they deliver the Truth of the Bible better than any other video series I’ve seen. This one specifically tells the story of Jesus’ life, death & resurrection from the gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke & John).

What is your favorite Easter book? or favorite children’s Bible? (please help me fill some Easter baskets)

Monthly Mission: Paper for Water

Remember my fun blogging friend, Amanda (aka OhAmanda with the cute pixie hair), who invited me to be a part of the Little Praise blogging tour for Yancy? Well, Amanda always has great God-sized ideas for helping parents impress God’s love on the hearts of their children (things like Truth in the Tinsel…).

This newest idea of hers is fabulous. Truly.

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Each month this year she will highlight a different service project families can do together. Last month, Erin from Home with the Boys hosted the Nickels for Nets project. Her boys collected enough nickels to purchase 10 mosquito nets to protect children in Africa from contracting Malaria. So cool!

I’m thrilled to share Paper for Water as the March Monthly Mission.

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I love the family behind this ministry (not just because of our awesome carpooling situation…). (If you don’t remember their story…read this article from Yahoo Finance: Little Sisters, Big Hearts & Incredible Charity. or watch this video with your kiddos:)


Basically Isabelle & Katherine learned to fold orgami from their father who is half-Japanese. Around the same time they learned about the water crisis in the world…

11% of the world’s population do not have safe water to drink and coupled with poor sanitation, this results in 4,000 children dying every day.” (wateraidamerica.org)

They heard about little girls in Africa and India who spent time hauling water instead of playing and going to school. In wanting to help in some way, they started folding origami ornaments and selling them, donating the money to Living Water International.

When we met the Adams sisters they had raised $17,000 to build 3 wells. In the past year,  (with the help of a very generous matching donor) these girls have raised over a hundred thousand dollars to build water wells. Very, very cool. 

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What inspires me is their focus on this project. Spending hours during the week and weekends folding origami ornaments, teaching others to fold and spreading the word about the need for water around the world, choosing service over self. 

Like Erin wrote last month, “Monthly Missions are all about teaching our kiddos to do the “hard things.” Serving, giving, making a difference for those who are in need.”

And yes the Adams girls are receiving awards and meeting ambassadors and making television appearances, but they are also giving up some of their comfort and conveniences to save lives across the globe. They found there is great joy in serving others.

If your family would like to join us in helping out Paper for Water, here are the weekly project ideas/challenges for March:

1st week: Go through your craft supplies and collect paper to donate. Then Isabelle & Katherine (and their helpers) can fold the paper into ornaments. The ideal origami paper comes in squares of 3×3, 4×4, or 6×6. (no card stock or tissue paper; patterns welcomed).

2nd week: Go through your jewelry box or craft supplies and collect beads or charms the girls can add to hang on the origami ornaments (see examples of charms below).

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3rd week: It’s World Water Day on March 22nd. This week any time you would normally spend money on a soda/coke/pop/icedtea/coffee, consider saving that money & donating it to Living Water International (make checks payable to Living Water International…send to address below).

4th week: The Adams girls used their talent of folding origami to help others. Brainstorm with your children what gifts/talents/resources you could use to help others. For example, I thought my boys could make duct tape wallets to sell and give the proceeds to Living Water International. Or maybe since it’s spring cleaning time, have a garage sale and donate the money. Be creative!

“Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.” 1 Peter 4:10

Mail your donations (paper/beads/charms & checks made out to Living Water International) to: Paper For Water P.O. Box 720999, Dallas, TX 75372-0999.

Let’s help provide water to the thirsty through our few simple gifts!

What (& How) We’re Reading {Exodus}

By the time you’re reading this post, I’m hopeful the last minute of 3,000 minutes will have been read *update…we are at 2,876 minutes…with 3 days left*. (exhale)

This month has been a doozy (having two weekend conferences and getting a weeklong cold didn’t help our efforts).

I’ll tell y’all I haven’t had the best attitude when reading aloud to the boys. It wasn’t like I expected them to listen so perfectly they could write a 20 page book report afterward. But I did hope for quiet and few distractions. Trying to read when you can’t hear your own voice isn’t my definition of “quality family bonding”.

Frequently it took an hour for me to read 20 minutes…seriously. Just as I would settle down to read, an announcement would be made from the bathroom someone needing…ahem… “assistance”. Then I’d grab the book again only to see the baby climbing into the entertainment center cabinet. Back again to reading just as a fight would start over a Lightning McQueen car. I’d start reading a sentence just as one son asked a question about how birds fly.

y’all.

So here are some ways I avoided out-sourced transferred my reading duties. Bruce often read for 30 minutes at bed time. Or Quade read as we drove home from school. Or we took a trip to Sonic. After passing out slushes to everyone I would begin reading (although that only lasted 20 minutes before Watts crushed a hole in his styrofoam cup & the baby needed a diaper change).

I just wanted you to know when I write about these books we’ve been reading don’t picture in your head four boys sitting quietly by my side hanging on my every word and halos hovering over their heads.

It’s a mess over here. But they are developing a love of books…only by God’s grace.

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Here is the beautiful book I wanted to share with you today:

Exodus by Brian Wildsmith

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Summary: 

-For Kindergarten thru 4th grade (our 3yo likes it too!)

-“Wildsmith recounts Moses’s saga from his rescue in the bulrushes by Pharaoh’s daughter to his death on Mt. Nebo overlooking the Promised Land. The writing is straightforward and simple; the story is brief but accurate. The artwork is a visual feast. The double-page illustrations, framed in gold, are panoramas of activity, crowded with the figures of the Hebrew multitudes suffering in slavery, streaming out of Egypt, traversing the Red Sea between walls of water, wandering in the brown hills of the desert, and at last, triumphantly entering the verdant Canaan.

Filled with meticulous and decorative detail, glowing with rich colors, and arranged to maximize dramatic impact, the paintings show the awesome events with excitement and beauty. The pillars of cloud and fire are shaped like huge pointing fingers. Animals, birds, and sea life abound. God’s presence is shown by a multicolored, starry shape superimposed on a sphere. The endpapers present the Ten Commandments printed on monumental, gold-decorated arks against a background of intense violet and rose.” -(Amazon.com)

Why we love it: 

Just like the Amazon summary said, it’s a visual feast. The boys will flip through the pages and retell the story…even if they can’t read. Apparently this author also has an Easter story which would be worth checking out as a gift for those easter baskets (this is how we handle easter baskets).

Today I’d love for you to share some tips in the comments on how you read aloud to your kids…go!

The name I want listed in my movie credits

Apparently I have a reputation. After a full weekend of activities & birthdays & flat tires & sports games & conferences, while heading upstairs to put the boys to bed my husband yelled down, “Your award show is starting. Did you tape it?”

It’s true. I’m a bit of an awards show fan. Part of the obsession is the beauty…the gorgeous gowns & jewels. I also enjoy celebrating the art of great storytelling. And of course I love watching some of my favorite “famous” faces share one space. (Like seeing my best friend😉 Jennifer Garner cheer on her hubby Ben Affleck.)

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photo credit

Last weekend, like I mentioned, I attended a local mom conference. A conference with a few “famous” authors and speakers hanging around. One author, the beautiful, Melanie Shankle, just wrote a book which debuted #27 on the NY Times Best Seller list (if you watch her promo video have tissue ready…I’m not kidding).

Something inside me puts one human above another because of these statistics. Even if that person doesn’t assume this position and is kind (& humble & full of grace…) success still moves people into high positions. The desire to be close to those of high position to pull & push my way to the top.

God knows the heart. He knows the temptation to make my name great, instead of His.

As I drove the 45 minutes in Friday evening traffic towards this mommy conference, I tried to use the time wisely by calling college friends to catch up. But no one answered. So I drove and absent mindedly sang with the Seeds Family Worship CD (cuz sometimes I forget I can listen to grown-up music when my children aren’t in the car). My brain started to realize the message God had for me when I sang these words:

“All men are like grass,

and all their glory is like the flowers of the field;

the grass withers and the flowers fall,

but the word of the Lord stands forever.”

(1 Peter 1:24)

All the “famous” fades away, but the word of the Lord remains. Cling to what stays not the fleeting Twitter feed & Facebook status updates. 

I walked into the main ballroom of the conference just as the session began. Settling my purse in the chair I stood to join in this song,

“Our God is greater, our God is stronger, God you are higher than any other.
Our God is Healer, Awesome in Power, Our God! Our God!
And if our God is for us, then who could ever stop us.
And if our God is with us, then what could stand against.”
(Chris Tomlin)

God is stronger and higher. If He is for me what does it matter how many followers or retweets or likes or comments one gets. We are unstoppable if He has a plan for us to fulfill. We don’t need to befriend the famous to create a platform…because He holds the world in His hands. We need only rest in Him. 

When I wondered “Who am I Lord that you have called me to scribble out my story? Just a mom. Only a speech-language pathologist. Not a writer”, Then I read, in His word that lasts forever, when Jeremiah had his own “who am I” moment saying, “I am only a child. I do not know how to speak”. The Lord answered,

“Do not say, ‘I am only a child’ You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the Lord.  (Jeremiah 1:7)

I fill in the blank with my modifiers, “I am only a mom”. “I am only a pre-med Biology major.” “I am only 35 years old.” “I am only….”.

But He answers, “Don’t say that. It doesn’t matter what you are. It only matters who I AM. And I am who I AM. And as the great I AM, I will accomplish what I set to accomplish.”

In the book of Job, after losing it all, despite his faithfulness, and having friends fail in their attempts to comfort him, he cries out to God. God answers with a list of questions of about who Job thinks he is compared to the almighty God. Job answers,

“I know that you can do all things;
no purpose of yours can be thwarted.
You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my plans without knowledge?’
Surely I spoke of things I did not understand,
things too wonderful for me to know.” Job 42:2-3

People will fade away (the yearly Oscar tribute to past “famous” entertainers reminds of this fact). To pursue the fame of man is to leave behind the glory of God.

When Quentin Tarantino accepted his award for best original screenplay (aka writing a movie from scratch), he apparently only had one name in his movie credits…his own. He bragged, “I actually think that like…. if people are knowing my movies 30 or 50 years from now it’s gonna be because of the characters that I created, and I really only got one chance to get it right. I have to cast the right people to make those characters come alive and hope they live a long time… and boy, this time did I do it.”

At the end of my life when the credits roll, I desire one name to be displayed: Yahweh. (Maybe some of His other names: Jehovah Jireh (my provider), El Shaddai, Elohim, Lord, Father, Adonai….but you get the idea).

Lord, keep my eyes focused on you. Following your lead. Waiting on your timing. Promoting You more than myself. Amen.