This post is written by my favorite man on the planet – Will Taylor. It is a great illustration of a beautiful reality. Be sure to watch the short video at the end. It is so heartwarming. Enjoy!
This post is written by my favorite man on the planet – Will Taylor. It is a great illustration of a beautiful reality. Be sure to watch the short video at the end. It is so heartwarming. Enjoy!
Today’s post is on OurCityOnAHill. Please click here http://www.ourcityonahill.net/when-the-giants-fall-by-katie-taylor/ or on the picture below to read. So thankful that when we know our Daddy is on our side, we can watch the giants fall!
We hear a lot about baby Jesus in December, but not much this time of year, so I wanted to share this little heartwarming moment today. We love to read children’s Bibles with our kids, and it is neat see each child identify with the stories. John’s favorite is David and Goliath and every time Goliath dies, John slaps the book as hard as he can and roars. It usually scares his sisters, but he is a precious little warrior. Mary’s favorite stories include the Marys; Mary Magdalene, Mary of Bethany and Jesus’s momma all captivate her because she shares their name.
But Anna, at age (almost) 2, usually just wiggles around and tries to eat the books. She has just started talking more and wanting to read books by herself, so I handed her the Jesus Storybook Bible the other night. There was one (and only one) person she wanted to find:
“Oh baabeee Jeeee-Zus….Where are euuu?
She flipped and flipped and flipped the pages until she found Him lying in a manger, and then her face lit up with joy.
“Der’s baby Jeeee-Zus!” she squealed with joy when she found him.
It blows my mind that the One who made the gigantic sun became as tiny as a baby. The One with all Heavenly power arrived powerless. The One who can hold all creation in His hands needed His mother to hold Him.
The Living Word had to learn how to talk just like Anna. And so she, one of the the least of these, can relate to Him! I find it incredible that we don’t have to change and grow to get close to God, but that He changed and became small to grow close to us. What a beautiful upside-down Kingdom; what an amazing love!
As Anna was pointing to baby Jesus in glee, I asked her if she remembered his momma’s name.
“Mar-wee!” she said with excitement.
“That’s right! And what about his daddy?” I asked.
“Moses!” she said confidently.
I chuckled. Anna may not know Jesus’s earthly father’s name yet, and she may not know His Heavenly Father either. But…He knows little Anna. And He loves her so much that He made Himself small so that she could know Him too. She may be little, but she matters in a big way to that baby Jesus.
And that is worth a joyful squeal!
Today, I wanted to say how much I appreciate you as someone who reads my blog. Thank you for sharing life with me! I hope your Valentine’s Day was filled with extraordinary love. Today’s post is on OurCityOnAHill. Please click below to read. YOU OWN THOSE GATES! Read, and you’ll see what I mean!
Each year at Christmas, new memories are made and old ones are relived. As I opened the box of our tree ornaments, memories from over the years spilled out into the room. Remember that trip? Here’s that one from my childhood! Awe look, the year we got married? And look, our first Christmas with a baby! Years and years of memories all hung in one place. And then I pulled out the little wooden sleigh from her…my aunt Kitty.
Kitty was my mom’s older sister who lived a few doors down. My childhood memories are flooded with Aunt Kitty. Our grandparents lived far away and she was a grandmother and an aunt all wrapped into one. She was so jolly and had a belly laugh that made you feel so good and special when you were with her. She gave out king-sized candy bars to hundreds of neighbors on Halloween; she was recklessly generous. And when I say she did Christmas, I mean she DID Christmas!
That’s why I will never forget twelve years ago on Christmas Eve when we got a call from a neighbor saying there was an ambulance at her house. We hung up the landline and my sister and I sped over. The stockings were hung, the gifts were wrapped, the food was made, she had worked so hard preparing a magical Christmas that only Kitty could prepare for her eleven grandchildren. She went to sleep on the couch after a long day of finishing touches, and she never woke up. As soon as we pulled up to her home, we knew. We just knew.
As I sat in Kitty’s funeral next to my younger sister and saw her fingers shake as she held the program…those fingers that had dialed the numbers to Kitty’s landline at least once a week since she was old enough to talk…I looked around at those Christmas trees in the front of the church and just sobbed. Christmas Eve. She was taken from us on Christmas Eve. It just didn’t seem right.
Twelve years have passed, I have gotten married and now have three precious children to soak in the magic of Christmas. They are absolutely adorable and hilarious this time of year. But even as new memories are made, I can’t get through this season without thinking of Kitty and having at least one good cry.
Because I miss her.
Maybe there is someone you miss this time of year too. It’s the happiest time of the year, and I dearly love it, but Christmas also brings us memories of people who are no longer here to share in the season; the family member who isn’t at the dinner table any more, the address in the Christmas card list you have to delete. Death is real. And it hurts. It’s not how it is supposed to be.
And this year as I got out that wooden sleigh, I feel like God was right there with me. And He reassured me that it’s okay to be sad. It’s okay to have a good cry. It’s okay to have these emotions and not feel the need to stuff them down. It’s okay not to be okay with death.
Because He isn’t.
At the tomb of His dear friend, Jesus wept. I know He would have wept with us that day in Kitty’s living room. He felt the sting of grief I know so well, and He too cried. And then He did something about it. He commanded his friend Lazarus to come out of that grave. And shortly after that, He did something even more miraculous. He went to the cross.
He came in all humanity and all power to look death straight in the eye and swallow it so we wouldn’t have to. He loves us so much He came to set us free of the shackles of sin and the sting of death. Because we matter.
We miss our loved ones, but we won’t always have to. “He will remove the cloud of gloom, the shadow of death that hangs over the earth. He will swallow up death forever! The Sovereign Lord will wipe away all tears.” (Isaiah 25:7-8) That hole in our hearts that yearns for things to be made whole again…He came to fill it, and He’s the only One big enough.
My wish list is long and exciting, but I think what we all desire most deeply this time of year is for the death of the people we love, and the brokenness both inside and around us, to be overcome and gone forever. That’s the cry of my heart and I believe that’s what Christmas promises.
Yes, there is death and darkness. But the birth of Jesus introduces us to the life and light that cuts straight through the heart of it, victorious.
“In him (Jesus) was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:5)
There is something stronger than death; the love that broke into the universe on Christmas Day. The love that is making all things new.
And sometimes new memories shine light on the old. My children asked today if we could get out our birthday sign for Jesus. I told them not yet, and reminded them they needed to wait until the 25th. John, who is three, started jumping up and down. “Are we going to heaven, mama!? Are we going to get to sing to him in heaven?! Can we go and see him on his birthday, mama, please!? Can we go…”
I listened to his joyful request as his precious words began to cut straight through the heart of such a painful memory…it was the moment I lost it this year. I immediately thought of Kitty and how she went home to be with Jesus on the Eve of His birthday. She was with Him that night. John asked about my emotions, and I reminded him about Kitty. He was thrilled to know that she made it to heaven just in time to sing.
As I rejoiced with John, the words of “Oh Come All Ye Faithful”, my favorite Christmas hymn and one that comforted me greatly in the years after Kitty’s death, played through my mind,
Sing, choirs of angels, Sing in exultation, Sing all ye citizens of heaven above…Glory to God…Now in flesh appearing…
Those of us who miss loved ones at Christmas, we are invited to sing along triumphantly with all of the citizens of heaven, and perhaps with more volume than before,
Oh, come let us adore Him…Christ the Lord!
“Fear Not, Little Flock” is something I wrote for a community blog last month, but wanted to share here as well. I hope it encourages you!
My three-year-old stood at our back door in his ninja turtle cape and plastic sword in hand. Nose pressed to the glass, he longingly looked out.
“Come with me, mommy!” he begged.
I was cleaning up dishes and told John to go out by himself for a minute.
“I don’t want to, mommy. I’m scared.”
I explained that the fenced in back yard was perfectly safe.
He looked down and muttered, “but what about the cat?”
A fat, orange cat had come to visit the other day. We had never seen it before and didn’t know which neighbor it belonged to. As soon as we opened the door to go say hello, it leapt back over the fence and fled.
But it’s fluffy size terrified John.
Until that orange surprise visitor came, John was fine going outside alone. But I understand his fear. When we are surprised, we want to arm ourselves against those kind of surprises again. That phone call, that diagnosis, that accident, that heartbreak caught us off guard. We want to move forward prepared for it. If it comes, darn it, we’ll have predicted it. We are on the inside looking out for it.
The tender words of Jesus came to mind, “Fear not, little flock.” (Luke 12:32) I knelt down and looked John in the eyes. I told him he was twice the size of that orange cat. I also pointed out the plastic sword in his hand.
“If you see him coming, run after him with your sword and he will be so scared, he will run away. He’ll jump that fence so fast, it will be funny. Remember last time?”
His little eyes lit up with visions of being a superhero in action.
“Why don’t you go out there and look for him and scare him away?” I suggested.
He plunged out the door, sword in hand. After a few minutes of no cat, he was running in circles, playing on the new swing set, pushing his plastic mower and digging in the dirt. It was a great, sunny morning that John got to experience instead of watch from inside.
And that cat….would you believe it….never showed up.
This conversation reminded me of a talk with my husband recently. Only this time, I was the fearful one. He asked me to tell him what I was afraid of, and while some of my fears seem so silly and selfish, I was honest. It helped to say them out loud and bring them to light. It helped me see where I wasn’t believing God. And that if these worst case scenarios were to happen, even death, I would be okay in Christ. God doesn’t promise we won’t have trouble, but that He will be with us and has given us power to overcome it. He never says that cat won’t come, but that in the name of Jesus, it will flee.
Then Will helped me look back at the last time something scary happened. While painful, I am okay. In fact, each surprise, hard situation in life has served to mold me more into the image of Christ. I am more than okay. Then he pointed out my sword, my Ephesians 6 armor already in hand “the sword of the spirit which is the word of God.” It says,
“The one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” (1 John 4:4)
“I (Jesus) have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy…” (Luke 10:19)
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)
I thanked my husband for the reminder. In Christ, I am twice the size of what I fear. It helped give me the courage to step back out of my comfort zone, victorious sword in hand, and ready for what comes. I’ve seen a lot of neat things since…but not the cat.
When it comes to things we worry about, did you know that:
40% never happen
30% are in regard to unchangeable deeds of the past
12% focus on opinions of others that cannot be controlled
10% center of personal health which only worsens when we worry about it
8% concern real problems we can influence
(Max Lucado, Come Thirsty, p.101.)
And I’ll add…0% outside of the redemptive power of God and victory in Jesus Christ.
“Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” (Luke 12:32 ESV)
“Are you sure Mary can wear her princess dress to school?” my husband asked before they walked out the door.
“Yes! I’m positive.” I explained how a second grader had told me all about “gold day” and how there was a concert, and the girls were supposed to wear gold princess costumes. Lucky for us, we have Belle’s beautiful gold dress in our playroom ready for such a day. Mary goes to a Christian school where the children wear uniforms, but today was different.
As he pulled up to the school for drop off, Will called me. “Are you sure? It doesn’t seem like anyone else is wearing a princess dress.”
Just to be sure, I texted the teacher. I told her that Mary had on a gold princess dress for the concert like she was supposed to, but that for PE she had on a yellow shirt and khaki skirt underneath. See, I think of everything.
As they were pulling up, she texted back.
Big gulp. What in the world? I recalled my source. A precious second grader. I flipped to the newsletter and read about the day. It was not a concert, but rather a prayer gathering around the flagpole and the children were to wear the color gold to support childhood cancer. No concert. No costumes. Huge gulp.
I felt terrible. How could I have missed the details of such an important day for such a worthy cause SO badly? And, I had actually read the newsletter yesterday!
Will did what any good husband would do and called me after the awkward drop off. He was rightfully frustrated. He took this time to vent a few other things that had frustrated him lately, a few other balls I had dropped, and suggestions for how we (and he meant we) could do better. Will and I have very different personalities, which makes us work so well. He never misses a detail and I miss a lot from big picture land. In these conversations, sometimes the enemy has a way of making me think there is something wrong with me. The “I’m not good enough” lie has a way of getting through to me, of no fault at all to my gracious husband.
While we were having this challenging conversation, my one-year-old climbed on a chair and started eating the jewelry on my dresser. Gold earrings were being shoved into her mouth at warp speed. Did I feed her breakfast? My three-year-old son was running around in his new batman cape crying because I wouldn’t let him watch the superhero show on Netflix. Not just a cry, but an all-out fit the neighbors could probably hear. I glanced at the clock, twenty minutes till we were supposed to be out the door to Bible Study, and I had not showered. No time to defend myself, I told Will I had to go.
I need a break. I need a day off. I am just not good at this. I cannot seem to get it all together. I keep forgetting things. I bet other moms don’t do this.
As I was putting on the kids’ shoes to get out the door, John cried about leaving the glow-in-the-dark spiders we had just gotten for Halloween. We had actually bought the spiders for other little kids we were “booing” in hopes of making them feel special by anonymously dropping off a pumpkin of candy with a sign. A sweet gesture, but as I looked at the spiders, I recalled a recent message relating spiders to sin. Maybe I am just spreading darkness to my kids and others with these silly candy buckets.
It’s crazy, isn’t it?! Insane! But if you’re a mom, you’ve walked through this mommy condemnation. It comes straight from the pit. You take one wrong turn and suddenly everything you do is seen through the microscope of that cloak of shame labeled “bad mommy.” It spirals out of control so fast! As crazy and silly as these thoughts are, when you’re in them, they are real.
Shame led to self pity as I crashed into a full mommy meltdown. You may know the kind. I texted my husband to tell him I was sorry for everything. I added, “I’m just tired of being me.” It was exactly how I felt. Maybe someone else would be better at this. Tears welled up as I looked at the clock and saw how late we were. I gave up. We won’t go to Bible study. We won’t go anywhere today. We’ll just sit here. I thought of Mary and her princess dress and how silly I made her look for such a respectable cause and I cringed.
And then, the next thought came. Maybe I should just go back to work. I was good at that. If I missed details there, it was all on me, not on my poor 5-year-old and husband. I got a paycheck, people told me I was good, and while I know God clearly called me out of that into this…this is HARD. Maybe I should just go back to that.
And in my pity party on the floor, in the chaos of John and Anna running circles around a crying mommy holding their little shoes, I heard the Holy Spirit whisper these two powerful words: “MOVE ON.” Earlier I had read those very words in the story of the Red Sea crossing in Exodus. While I’ve read it many times, it’s as if a divine highlighter showed me those words and said, “these are for you, sister.”
And I pray that by sharing this raw moment that they might be for someone else too. They come when the Israelites are about to cross the Red Sea. We know that, but of course, they don’t. All they can see are the 600+ chariots of Egyptians coming after them. They are terrified and cry out to God, “what have you done to us…it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert.” (Exodus 14:11-12) Oh, how I get them! Oh, how I just said “it would be better if I just went back to work.” That plan when someone else owned my time was so much easier than this crazy plan!
Moses encourages them to trust God and then God says these powerful words, “Tell the Israelites to MOVE ON.” (Exodus 14:15 NIV) The ESV version says “tell the people of Israel to GO FORWARD.” He doesn’t address their questions or complaints in that moment. He just says “MOVE ON.”
I sometimes hear and say “move on” in a condescending way, implying the things to move on from are not a big deal and should be forgotten. But I don’t believe the Lord has that tone or that this isn’t a big deal. Also, I don’t believe He is ever condescending to His people. I hear His words more as a loving and very firm command: MOVE ON.
Because in order for them to be delivered into freedom, they had to participate. He was doing the AMAZING miracle of parting the red sea and drowning their enemies, but they HAD to move forward for this to happen. They had to stop staring at the Egyptians in terror, turn the other way and take a step forward.
Those words fell on me like a waterfall in my puddle of self pity on the floor. I can either stay here or I can follow His instructions to move on and go forward…both in my mind and my day.
By the grace of God, I got everyone’s shoes on and we made it to Bible Study. Wednesdays are some of my favorite days with my kids and it was great! I was able to hear another mom share about not feeling good enough. I was able to laugh about my morning. My kids learned about the Gospel of John and sang songs. We enjoyed a lunch outside with friends. It was a life-giving time I would have missed had I not chosen to move on. That territory was mine today, but I had to step forward into it.
I believe I have been delivered, and that God has freed me from the bondage of sin once and for all. I believe that when I received Jesus Christ as my Savior, I was rescued from my sin, past, present and future, and that I became a new creation. Deliverance has happened in my life, praise the Lord.
But I also believe that the Lord delivers me every day. Today was a big one. The mommy condemnation is a big one. My thought process can spiral into defeat and I need deliverance. I need freedom. I need to get to other side of that sea and I need the voices that drag me into the slavery of shame again to be drowned.
I believe the key to it is in those two very powerful words tucked away in this grand story. When we are in the pit, we can stay there or we can do as God says, “MOVE ON, GO FORWARD.” He is ready to do a big work. He is ready to do the miraculous. The sea is ready, the plan is unfolding, but we have got to turn direction and take a step forward. That’s our role to play. I pray someone out there needs to hear those powerful words as much as I did today. Whatever your pit, whatever your bondage, whatever your crazy…maybe you find these two firm words spoken from the heart of a loving Father who longs to deliver you to freedom as life-giving as I do: move on.
My family has loved the Olympics this summer, and we have been so inspired to see the athletes walk out their amazing God-given talent with courage. Dreams become reality in these gold medal moments, but we know it is the countless, private, unseen hours of training that have brought these athletes to this place of victory.
This week I felt like I was watching the Olympics when I saw Beth Moore speak in Nashville. After all these years, that woman is more on fire with the Holy Spirit than I have ever seen. She is living out her calling with courage and walking in victory and freedom. She is completely alive and surrendered to God’s purpose for her. What would it be like if we were all surrendered to God’s anointing, power and purpose in our lives? We wouldn’t look like Beth Moore, but in our own unique ways, our lives would look like victory and our gifts would be shining for His glory.
And how that happens is something Beth not only talked about, but walked out. This woman has been speaking to people for decades. After all these years, she’s probably used to it, right? She could probably see a crowd of 10,000 women and say, “I got this.” But as the worship music stopped and the lights went out, Beth, who I (being a bit star struck) was watching from my second row seat, went onto the stage and privately kneeled. While the introduction movie played on the screen in the dark room, she stayed on her knees. This was not meant for anyone to see, but it spoke louder to me than any word she said. When the lights came on, she was up and full of holy fire. She began by saying she was completely inadequate, and that she was completely dependent on God to show up. I believed her and believed He would.
Just like the Olympians, it’s those private hours of training that pave the path to victory. For believers, it’s those private moments in prayer and Scripture that equip us. Beth encouraged us never to give that up or depend on other people to do the praying or the digging into God’s word for us. When we blaze the path, the territory is ours.
I went on this trip to Nashville with four amazing women. They have been following Jesus for many years and each have that special sparkle about them.
When my alarm went off at 5:45a for a 6:45 departure, I was shocked to see one friend showered and headed to the lobby with her Bible and notebook. Another was already dressed, sitting down to journal, read and pray. Here we were about to hear from one of the most gifted teachers of our day, but these ladies knew nothing could replace hearing directly from the Source. No extra hour of sleep was going to change that. These small deposits of time, one day at a time, have a powerful cumulative effect.
And when pressure comes, tragedy strikes, lies attack, a decision needs to be made or life hands us a microphone, what’s inside of us comes out. And what’s inside of us is grown in those private moments with God. Every single day.
What came out of two friends on the trip was the desire to serve. They graciously volunteered to sit in the overflow room at the conference even though they blessed us with the tickets. They had already seen Beth live and wanted to give the rest of us the good seats. We were elated to be so close to the stage, and even more elated to hear that they unexpectedly got to meet Beth in the overflow room. Not only that, but she prayed over one of them! Isn’t it amazing how God blesses us when we bless others? “The greatest among you will be your servant. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” (Matthew 23:11-12) As Beth said, “there is no limit to what God will do with someone who has the humility to handle it.”
She encouraged us that as believers in Jesus we are anointed with the Holy Spirit of the Living God. We have not just received “an anointing” but the real, live anointing of Jesus Christ. And the Holy Spirit gives us power to live out our calling. As believers, we are all called. She encouraged us that our calling is between us and God, and no one else. No one else can put it on us or work it out in us. And when we are true to work out our unique calling with God through the power of the Holy Spirit, we will never have to be jealous of anyone else. Isn’t that awesome!? We will never have to look to someone and want what they have if we are if we are surrendered to God’s unique plan in our life.
Beth said in this day of tweeting, she is still committed to deep teaching, and was faithful to deliver that. But there were three great one-liners I have to share:
“Jesus is the best thing that has ever made me crazy!”
“When our passion exceeds our fear, we can do anything in Jesus’ name.”
“If you don’t believe in a God of wonders, WHAT BIBLE ARE YOU READING?!”
Can I get an “Amen”?!
My takeaway from Nashville was more than the teaching. It was the living proof of what I saw behind the scenes. I heard many words from the stage and from my companions, but it was the private prayers I glimpsed that I heard the loudest. What leads to victory is not striving, but surrender. That gold is ours to receive, and it’s found in that time on our knees, in that time in the Word expectant to find treasure, in that time of quiet when we can hear that call, and in those moments of trust when we follow that voice. For anyone who walks in victory, it’s in those private moments of training when the gold is won. Those private moments of prayer and Scripture are what bring to life the champion…that Champion who lives in us.
“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” (Mark 1:35 NIV)
“But you have an anointing from the Holy One…” (1John 2:20 NIV).
“Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run with purpose in every step. (1 Cor 9:24-26 NLT)
“For You meet him with the blessings of good things; You set a crown of fine gold on his head.” (Psalm 21:3 ESV)