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Monthly Mashup #5

Welcome to my monthly mashup! These are some of the things I’ve enjoyed or pondered this month:

Book I’m reading: “Your Power in the Holy Spirit” by John G. Lake. 

This book was compiled by Roberts Liardon and published in 2010. The material comes from sermons and papers given by John G. Lake around 1908 to 1920. This is a beautifully tender, powerful book. Here’s a little taste: “We live in order that our souls may grow. The development of the soul is the purpose of existence. God Almighty is trying to obtain some decent association for Himself. By His grace, He is endeavoring to have us grow up in His knowledge and likeness to that stature (see Ephesians 4:13-15) where, as sons of God, we will comprehend something of His love, of His nature, of His power, of His purpose, and be big enough to give back to God what a son should give to a great Father—the reverence, the love, the affection that comes from the understanding of the nobleness and greatness of His purpose.” P. 124 It’s hard to find a book about the deeper walk with God that isn’t stuffy or too heavy with dry theology. This tender story of transformation and the impact of John G. Lake on hundreds of thousands of people will walk you into the goodness of God.

Song I’m enjoying: “When I lock eyes with You” by Maverick City Music.

This is eight minutes (that’s the short version) to linger in God’s presence. I love the expression “when I lock eyes with You” because we don’t “lock eyes” with strangers. No, to lock eyes, or to gaze intently is an intimate thing. To take the time in our busy, fragmented world to gaze into the eyes of God and linger with His Holy presence, is so refreshing. Here’s the short version: https://youtu.be/mVlv0hSJGSw Here’s the long version: https://youtu.be/5xvCY0_vaDA

Quote I’m pondering: “The Fading of Forgiveness” Tim Keller quotes Baylor professor Alan Jacobs: 

“When a society rejects the Christian account of who we are, it doesn’t become less moralistic but far more so, because it retains an inchoate sense of justice but has no means of offering or receiving forgiveness. The great moral crisis of our time is not, as many of my fellow Christians believe, sexual licentiousness, but rather vindictiveness.  Social media serve as crack for moralists: there’s no high like the high you get from punishing malefactors. But like every addiction, this one suffers from the inexorable law of diminishing returns. The mania for punishment will therefore get worse before it gets better.” Read the entire article here: https://www.cardus.ca/comment/article/the-fading-of-forgiveness/

T-Shirt I’m smiling at: You stay safe, I’ll stay free

Thanks to my young friend Lauren standing up for medical freedom. She asks, “Will you stand against segregation? It’s simple, but it won’t be easy. Pledge to not support or participate in anything that segregates human beings. History will thank you.”

Have a beautiful week everyone! Please share my book, Gracious Living, creating a culture of honor, love, and compassion with anyone needing some inspiration!

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Host or Guest?

I learned a new word this week and have already put it into practice. The word is XENIA. It is an ancient Greek concept of hospitality, translated as guest-friendship. The Greek god Zeus is sometimes called Zeus Xenios in his role as protector of strangers. We are much more familiar with the negative use of this word, as in Xenophobia, which is a fear or dislike of people from other countries or who are different from us in some way. But I prefer the positive use of the word.

Xenia is a big part of many Biblical stories. In fact, many times that we as modern western readers don’t understand a story, it’s because of xenia elements that are foreign to our culture. The story of the Good Samaritan is an example of this. We secretly wonder if we meet Jesus’ definition of a neighbor. Let’s consider several references to anchor the idea of xenia: 

“Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.” (Hebrews 13:2) In the first century church, hospitality was included in the job description for leaders. Our western culture does not value this Biblical requirement for church leaders today, but what if it did? What if the church, specifically Christians, were where someone could go when they were a stranger in town or needed help? I don’t know if I’ve entertained any angels but I do know that every time I’ve shown kindness to a stranger, I’ve been blessed in some way.

Jesus said, “For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; in prison, and you came to Me.” In the story the righteous asked, “When did we do these things for you?” And Jesus answered “To the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.” (Matthew 25:35-40) Truly this is one of the most sobering passages spoken by Jesus.

And going back even further in time, to the very beginnings of the Judeo-Christian faith just after the Ten Commandments were given, we read: “You shall not oppress a stranger, for you know the heart of a stranger, because you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” (Exodus 23:9) So there it is, the foundation of xenia. We understand what it is like to be a stranger because we each have been a stranger in some context. We understand what it is like to be the new kid at school, starting a job, a stranger in a town. We understand being vulnerable, unsure, lonely, or insecure. We have been a stranger in some Egypt somewhere.

In California we walk right past people—at church, in our neighborhood, standing on the corner, shopping next to us. It would be odd to talk to a stranger. But in Idaho, we have had the privilege of being the new kids in town. The number of people we know in Hailey/Ketchum, Idaho can be counted on one hand. I decided to try out my new word, xenia. At the little 4th of July parade in town, I invited people on the street to come to our home afterward for a BBQ. The hilarious thing is that they came! It turns out many people around us feel like strangers. They are grateful for hospitality. Hopefully we have deepened their definition of Christian to include xenia, a kindness toward strangers. Either way, I’m happy to meet new friends!

Check out Romans 12:13 this week. At first glance it tells us to show hospitality, but if we dig deeper, we find it expresses a command to eagerly pursue hospitality. We are called to be a host, not a guest, in almost any conversation or encounter. Pursue xenia this week and see if you are not blessed!

Next week I’ll post my monthly mashup. Be sure to subscribe to my blog and visit www.MargaretAllen.org for resources. Please share your stories of xenia in the comments. Have a beautiful week, everyone!

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Give Me Understanding

Do you ever find yourself returning to a passage of scripture but not knowing why? I am stuck on Psalm 119.  I want to look away, I promise. But God keeps turning my gaze back to this Psalm. So here I am, in the longest chapter of the Bible, almost dead center of The Book. I’m sure He can feel my squirming.  Verse after verse about the word of God, the testimony of God, His precepts, judgments and decrees (eight different Hebrew words are used to refer to God’s Word in this Psalm) A few weeks ago I mentioned how precious His testimonies are and the very reference to His testimonies in this Psalm wrecks me! This week I’ve been struck by the phrase, “give me understanding,” which is repeated six times in Psalm 119. Have we not whispered this prayer as we read the day’s headlines? Haven’t we shaken our head and said this as we consider our friendships or perhaps even our marriages? What are these patterns in our life? What’s our purpose? Why do we struggle to walk out the Christian life in this world? Lord, give us understanding.  Let’s dig deeper.

In Psalm 119:34 we read: “Give me understanding, and I shall keep Your law; Indeed, I shall observe it with my whole heart.” It makes sense that we can follow whole heartedly if we only understand. Clarity is curative, right? Lord I so want to understand to be whole toward You. C.S. Lewis said, “The most valuable thing the Psalms do for me is to express the same delight in God which made David dance.” Our hope, delight, and trust are in God. Our head knows this but sometimes our heart has to catch up!

“Your hands have made me and fashioned me; Give me understanding, that I may learn Your commandments.” (Psalm 119:73) Our identity and purpose flow out of this fact: God made us and fashioned us.  Yes, how desperately we need understanding on this point today. WHO we are is designed; we are not an accident. God made us for His heart. At the most basic level, our identity is literally stamped on every cell in our body. But so much greater than that simple fact, God chose every unique aspect of our existence: our eye-print, lip-print, fingerprint all unique. Our laugh, our gait, our thoughts, family background and experiences are unique. Who doesn’t want greater understanding in the why behind their identity?

“I gain understanding from Your precepts; therefore I hate every false way.” Here in verse 104 the writer shifts from asking for understanding to stating an impact of clarity received. We hate the false, fake ways that lead us away from real life. When we see the truth, beauty, and goodness in God’s ways, we realize the short-comings of all other options.

In verse 125, the writer states: “I am Your servant; Give me understanding, that I may know Your testimonies.” I’ve prayed this one. I’m all in, God. My answer is Yes to You. Help me understand what You are saying right now! I don’t want to be the person who reads story after story of Jesus feeding the 5000, the 4000, taking care of people and not understand He wants to take care of me! Give me understanding that I may know Your testimonies! Jesus healed every.single.person who came to HimGive me understanding when I need healing Lord! We want His testimonies to be our story as well.

“The righteousness of Your testimonies is everlasting; Give me understanding and I shall live.” (verse 144) I’ve questioned this one: are His ways right? It hasn’t always felt right but the older I get the more I see the rightness of God’s ways and the permanence of them. Give me understanding and I shall truly live.

“Let my cry come before You, O Lord; Give me understanding according to Your word.” (verse 169) Give me understanding clearly communicates I have no resources in myself. I’ve exhausted all of my means of problem solving and gathering insight. An understanding remains which can only be revealed. God is hiding things for us not from us! He is waiting on that prayer of Lord, give me understanding!  Dear friends, may you dig into His Word this week and dance in God’s presence! May His understanding and revelation be the highlight of your week. I would love to hear what catches your heart in Psalm 119

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Reader’s Question: Overcoming Difficulty

Here is a question I get from young and old alike: how can we overcome difficulty? Failed marriages and broken relationships. Financial strain and poor health. Disappointment and shame. We will never rub shoulders with someone who hasn’t experienced some kind of pain or struggle in life. Knowing that we each carry burdens and sorrows, the question deserves careful thought.

How can we overcome difficulty? I think of a time in David’s life that roiled in pain and trouble: returning home after several days away, he discovered his city burned and all the women and children carried away. (See 1 Samuel 30:4) “Then David and the people who were with him lifted up their voices and wept, until they had no more power to weep.” Have we ever cried until we couldn’t cry anymore? If this wasn’t bad enough, the people then talked of stoning David because of the tragic loss of their homes and families. Everything David knew and cared about was gone-his house burned down and his wives and children kidnapped and then his own people wanted to kill him! How did David overcome this tragedy? “But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God.” (v.6)

He strengthened himself in the Lord. David got with God. In the middle of confusion, weeping, and pain, David turned his broken heart toward God. He reminded himself of the goodness of God. He remembered all the times that God provided for him and protected him. He fed his heart with hope in God. David then asked God a very direct question: should I pursue this troop? God answered him, “Pursue, for you shall surely overtake them and without fail recover all.” (v.8) David trusted that he heard God right and he went after his enemies and recovered all that had been stolen.

Do we have difficulty in our life? Are there broken relationships and discarded dreams? Are the struggles of daily life sometimes too much to bear? We must strengthen ourselves in the Lord, dear friend! How do we do that? Just like David, we remember the testimony. “Blessed are those who keep His testimonies, who seek Him with the whole heart! Your testimonies also are my delight and my counselors.” (Psalm 119:2,24) Do we see it? Blessing rests in keeping His testimonies. The testimonies of God are a delight and our counselor. Remembering all the good things God has said and done throughout our lifetime as well as throughout history will strengthen our heart in the day of trouble.  Our hopefulness anchors in the God stories we share and remember. They will be our delight and they will give us strength to follow what God says.

Do we have a testimony of God’s goodness in our lives? If not, take someone else’s! That’s right, take someone else’s God-story as our own, because if He did it for them, He will do it for us. Let the testimonies in scripture become delightful counselors. Relive those God encounters—remembering who God has been and what He has spoken —and we will be strengthened in the Lord. God alone has the encouragement, strength, and direction we need to overcome our difficulty.

*A personal side note to this: Psalm 119 WRECKED me this week. I cried my way through this psalm as God opened my eyes to His wonderful truths hidden in these verses. This psalm is an alphabetic acrostic divided into 22 stanzas with eight couplets in each stanza. All the couplets in the first stanza begin with the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet, aleph; the couplets in the second begin with the second letter, beth; and so on to the end of the poem. This appears to be an expansion of David’s Psalm 19:7-11. Wow, God’s Word never gets old. I hope you get wrecked by His love this week!

For more good stuff, check out my book, Gracious Living, creating a culture of honor, love, and compassionanywhere books are sold. Keep those questions coming and feel free to share my blog with anyone who might need an encouraging word!

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Inspired by Meekness

I want to brag on someone today and it’s not to exalt them but to instruct us. Recently I heard an inspiring talk from my friends Jeremy and Debora Anderson. A little bit of context might help: they are campus ministers at UC Santa Cruz and they oversee all the Chi Alpha campus ministers in Cali, Az, Nevada and Hawaii. They also send teams into Asia Pacific and the Middle East. Many of you will recognize their name from the foreword in my book. Debora had a dream that I wrote a book called Gracious Living. She was so impacted by this dream that she had canvas bags made with Gracious Living printed on them and gave them to me as a gift. Her prophetic dream focused my journey of writing and was the reason I titled my book, Gracious Living.

Hearing Jeremy and Debora speak; shoot, just being around them brought something to life inside my heart and mind. I became more sensitive to what the Holy Spirit was saying. Psalm 19:12 spoke to me: “Who can understand his errors? Cleanse me from secret faults.” This resonated for me and it led me to James 1:21-25 “therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.” When my eyes fell upon the word “meekness” I stopped. Receive with meekness the implanted word. Jeremy and Debora are my living examples of meekness. Right in front of my eyes, they live and love from a pure heart. They don’t spend energy protecting and defending. They just give and trust that God will protect them and fill them. They don’t try to argue anyone into the Kingdom of God; they simply bring an experience with God’s holy presence that is winsome and inspiring. Jeremy and Debora are parenting the next generation of college students to love Jesus and to follow Him. They mentor grads on how to run their business with joy and humble hearts; they instruct young couples to walk out their marriages with service and gratitude. Just being around their precious family brings peace!

I realize you can read this and think well what a nice couple, I’m happy for them but I guess I’m wanting to stir up something more than that. Let me ask the questions I’ve asked myself after time with them: Can people come to us for prayer? Do they? Are we leading people to Christ through our words and lifestyle– or are we simply ‘nice’ folks? Do we carry the power and anointing of a holy life? What I find striking is that the meekest couple I know has the most impact on the Kingdom and on me personally. When I heard them speak, they didn’t talk about sin at all but I was convicted of sin. When I’m around them, I just want to be a better person—more of who God made me to be. 

Matthew 11:12 contains a fascinating verse that sums up what I’m observing in Jeremy and Debora: “From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violent assault, and violent men seize it by force [as a precious prize].” Students at UC Santa Cruz are seizing the Kingdom of God, pursuing Christ as a precious prize because Jeremy and Debora are representing Him well. And I want to do the same!

Who’s inspiring you lately? If you are looking for something significant to give toward, please consider investing in Jeremy and Debora’s ministry at UC Santa Cruz and beyond. Learn more about them at www.WCXA.com

Remember to go to www.MargaretAllen.org for free resources and to sign up for the blog. Just scroll to the bottom of Mondays with Margaret to get this blog in your email every Monday. Have a great week everyone!

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Way Maker

Sometimes the ridiculous hopefulness of God can rush over us like a river.  We sang Way Maker by Leeland at church: “Way maker, miracle worker, promise keeper, light in the darkness. My God, that is who You are.” The truth of that song flooded my heart this week. God makes a way where there is no way.

Biblical stories rush to mind on this point: Moses leading the Israelites out of Egypt. “They had asked from the Egyptians articles of silver, articles of gold, and clothing. And the Lord had given the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they granted them what they requested. Thus, they plundered the Egyptians.” (Exodus 12:35-36) God then parted the Red Sea so that they could flee but the Egyptian army drowned. I thought of the Babylonian captivity ending with Cyrus, King of Persia, not only commissioning the rebuilding of the temple but also returning all the beautiful articles of the house of God that had been stolen in the captivity. “This is the number of them: thirty gold platters, one thousand silver platters, twenty-nine knives, thirty gold basins, four hundred and ten silver basins and one thousand other articles. All the articles of gold and silver were five thousand four hundred.” (Ezra 1:9-11) I couldn’t tell you how many of anything we own–but here exists an exact record of items from the year 538 B.C. Maybe God outlined such specific accounting because He wanted us to know His blessings aren’t random or haphazard.

And, of course I thought of personal examples I’ve witnessed over the past month of God making a way where there was no way. A new friend shared how God took her from debilitating addiction into the total restoration of her family, faith, and health. He was restoring to her a family experience richer in forgiveness and joy than they had ever known before.

How has God made a way for you, my friend? Has He provided, protected, envisioned for your life? I feel this is a season of restoration and return. I believe that God is wanting to restore what has been stolen. He is wanting to return beauty and joy in our lives. And we know that when God restores, He doesn’t skimp! God brings richness and fulness beyond what we can ask. He counts it out to us in greater detail than we can imagine. How many of us hunger for a restoration—of our health, relationships, career, and dreams? God is a way maker. He provides streams in the desert (Isaiah 35:6) We have experienced His refreshment during dry and weary times. Does He not make a highway through our desert? No matter what heartache we may be suffering, whatever obstacles or losses we face, we must trust God to make a way for us.

Take time this week to reflect on what God may be restoring to you. Ask Him to be your Way Maker and give God honor for all the good He has poured into your life. Be encouraged dear friends, His restoration is on the way!

Visit www.MargaretAllen.org for more resources. You can get Mondays with Margaret as an email each week—just scroll to the bottom of Mondays and sign up! Follow me on Insta @MargaretAllen.GL

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Monthly Mashup #4

Welcome to my monthly mashup! These are some of the things I’ve enjoyed or pondered this month:

An app/TV show I’m enjoying: The Chosen. Maybe I’m late to the party, but I am obsessed with this show! “The Chosen is the first-ever multi-season TV show about the life of Jesus. Created outside of the Hollywood system, The Chosen allows us to see Him through the eyes of those who knew Him.” Very simply, download The Chosen app onto your phone and play it on your TV. I think you can also subscribe to The ChosenYouTube channel. There is nothing smarmy about this show – it is absolute fire and you will love it! Watch your response to Jesus grow in affection and discover insightful conversations with everyone viewing the show. Already a fan? Post in the comments your favorite episode!

Goals I’m pursuing: building playfulness in my life, along with better overall strength and agility.  Why do we as grownups forget how to play? Several simple additions to our yard have introduced a fun way to move through my day. We have a rope swing right out the front door and a contest within our family to see who can swing out and land the furthest away. I run at it at least three times a day! We also have aspens laid out horizontally to form a balance beam maze. Whenever I need a break from the computer, I just run on the balance beams. Yes, I have completely wiped out and bruised more than my pride but I am seeing my balance improve. All of us probably have a park nearby, a beautiful hike, a beach, or someplace that we can run and play. When life feels too serious, try skipping!

Makeup and Skincare products I really like: I use two products that land on opposite ends of the price spectrum. I love everything e.l.f. cosmetics makes. When my daughter first started working for e.l.f. she brought all kinds of products home to try out. I couldn’t get over the quality and simplicity of design—sponges, brushes, primers, brow pencils, all fun and affordable. I really like e.l.f. and I seem to get something new every time I run by the store. Not in stores, and on the pricey side of skin care is a company called Saranghae.  www.lovesaranghae.com Saranghae is a skincare company that “simplifies the complicated world of Korean beauty.” The complete 5-step routine feels pretty darn fantastic. (These are not paid endorsements, by the way.)

A quote I’m living right now: “Where the deer bound, where the trout rise, where your horse stops to slather a drink from icy water while the sun is warm on the back of your neck, where every breath you draw is exhilaration – that is where the Aspens grow…” (From Peattie’s Natural Histories)

Next week marks one year of blogging and a year since my book, Gracious Living was published. Let’s celebrate the milestone together next week as we talk about the power of Consistency and doing hard things. Blessings to you and have a wonderful week! 

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The Kindness of Strangers

Our family visited a small church last month. We chatted with the couple sitting in front of us and then an amazing thing happened: they invited all five of us over for dinner! She made a beautiful ham; I brought a sweet potato casserole and we had a fantastic time. Laughing I told them, “This has never happened in California! We’ve gone to a church for years and never been invited to anyone’s home!”

When Jeff and Jodi invited us over, it reminded me of a fun story that I share in my book about a Peloton delivery and God’s honor- “as a delivery team was setting up our bike, I asked if they wanted something to drink—water or because it was a chilly morning, hot tea. One of the young men perked up and said, “I’d love a cup of tea.” He had just moved to the coast from Arizona and was cold all the time in our Northern Cal weather.  When I went into the kitchen to make his tea, I reached for a mug but distinctly felt I should give him one off the top shelf. I grabbed it and made the tea. The mug had printed on it, ‘God will always give me the victory’. I turned it so the words faced him, and said, “This is a true word for you today, my friend, God will always give you the victory. I don’t know what you’re going through, but you’re going to come out on the right side of it.”

Well, what do you think happened next? He just stared at me for an awkward ten seconds. I thought uh-oh I’ve stepped in it now! “But he let out a big sigh and said that he’d just moved to Cali after finishing a career in sports. He was trying to get his life together with a fresh start. He was wondering, even that morning, if God knew where he was.  We talked openly for a few minutes, and then I prayed a blessing over his life and plans.” (Gracious Living, p. 185)

Honoring the person in front of you doesn’t take hours or a Ph.D. It requires listening to God’s direction and caring about people.

We sat behind Jeff and Jodi this week at church and watched them graciously reach out to a visitor nearby. Seeing their warmth, humility, and generosity has caused some self-reflection over here: have I given in to shyness or self-centeredness? Are my heart and mind positioned to share the love of God and “entertain angels” as the Bible puts it? Have I missed out on ministry opportunities because I was rigidly committed to my own schedule? Didn’t Jesus say, “I was a stranger and you invited me in”? (Matthew 25:35)

These are the questions I’m pondering over here. How about you, my friend? Do you have God-encounters to share this week? If you are looking for inspiration, check out my book Gracious Living, creating a culture of honor, love, and compassion. Find it on my website www.MargaretAllen.org or anywhere books are sold.

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A Long Shelf Life

Fun fact: our prayers have a long shelf life. No Biblical story demonstrates this more than the story of Zacharias and Elizabeth. When an angel appeared to Zacharias and told him “your prayer is heard and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son” and Z replies to the angel, “How? For I am an old man, and my wife is well advanced in years.” (See Luke 1:13-18) We realize by his response, Zacharias and Elizabeth hadn’t prayed for a son in many years. They had given up on that dream, but God did not forget!

In Acts 10 a roman military officer, Cornelius, is described as a prayerful, generous, God-fearing man who encountered an angel in a vision. The angel released this amazing revelation: “Your prayers and your generosity have created a memorial before God.” The prayers of this one man were answered miraculously while the disciples witnessed the Holy Spirit move among gentiles in ways they did not conceive as possible. (See Acts 10 for this wonderful story) 

So, dear friend, if our prayers create a memorial before God, meaning they are remembered by God and for a long, long time, what’s on our prayer list? If we could sit out on the back porch with God, what would we talk about? Our loved ones? Our future, direction, and purpose? Would we pray for our family, our school or work, our nation to walk with God in fresh ways? Long after we forget these prayers, God continues to remember them and honor the cry of our heart.

One month before my 40th birthday I gave birth to our son, Samuel Cooper. Every day of my pregnancy I blessed him and prayed for him. And every night (until he stayed up way later than us) we would bless Cooper before he went to bed. We prayed about little concerns of the day like tests coming up or friendships happening, but we also prayed for God’s vision for his life. We blessed him to be a man of integrity and wisdom. We blessed him to love God’s word and to walk in His ways. We prayed all kinds of prayers I can’t even remember but God still has them. You see, prayers I’ve long forgotten are just now coming up on God’s to do list!

Cooper returned home this week from his freshman year at Baylor. Like Samuel in the Bible, it appears that a razor has not touched his head and also like the Biblical Samuel he does not let God’s word fall away from him. Cooper likes to read his Bible with me in the mornings. We sip our coffee and share insights from what we are reading. When he was a chubby little toddler and I prayed he would love God’s word and walk in wisdom, I had no idea how beautifully God would honor that prayer! I could not have imagined the young man he would become or the impact he would have in his world.

Our prayers matter– they are not forgotten! In fact, the throne of God is described in Revelation as being surrounded by twenty-four elders worshipping before the Lamb, “each having golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.” (Revelation 5:8) If our prayers are this precious to God, please dear saint, don’t let up, don’t get weary or distracted! Pray the prayers of heaven and watch God do amazing things!

Sign up for my blog at www.MargaretAllen.org and find my book Gracious Living, creating a culture of honor, love, and compassion anywhere books are sold.

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Celebrating Moms

Does anyone else have mixed feelings about Mother’s Day? Maybe our mom wasn’t so great and Mother’s Day is a painful reminder of what we never had. Or maybe our mother has passed and we just miss her. Maybe we long to become a mom but it just hasn’t happened. 

I know it’s supposed to be a special day with family but when my kids were young, I just wanted a day off! It took me a few years as a mother to realize that I need to communicate in the week leading up to Mother’s Day what I would like to see happen.  Moms, set the expectations for your day! No one can read your mind or guess what feels honoring to you. Let your family know ahead of time what makes you feel uniquely loved, appreciated, and honored.

When Mother’s Day is no big deal, everyone loses: our children don’t learn how to demonstrate honor and respect toward women, a watching community fails to perceive the value of motherhood. And let’s face it, us moms are giving it all we’ve got 24/7 and a genuine expression of love would be like oxygen to our soul!  We live in a culture where women haven’t always been honored. To swim upstream from that current creates a space where mothers are celebrated and treated with respect.

I like to think of the week leading up to Mother’s Day as a great time to hit all the love languages as we honor the mommas around us. I reach out to the women who have played the important role of mentor in my life. I recognize the great moms in my community. Women can encourage each other this week– with words of affirmation in what we say or write. We can create quality time together or send a gift that shows our thoughtfulness. We can find ways to serve each other, honor each other, and show affection. We all long to know that we are doing a beautiful job as a mom and that perhaps others see it and are inspired.

Whenever I begin to doubt my impact as a mother or question the worth my role, I reflect on the honor that Jesus displayed toward His mother. In His final act of honor, love, and compassion Jesus spoke to His mother from the cross. He charged His number one disciple, John, to care for His mother. And then He released His Spirit to God. Think about it–in a cultural context where women were not honored or esteemed, Jesus cared for His mother in a practical and profound way.

Do you have a spiritual mom in your life? A woman who took the time to mentor and disciple you? Honor her this week! If you are blessed to have your mom in your life or to be that mother to little ones, take time this week to celebrate this privilege. And to all the mommas out there, God bless you this week and thank you for all that you do to make this world a beautiful place!