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Hold On

Our tree stood tall, magnificent, and beautiful in the living room. Only the day before, the kids and grand baby had been ripping open Christmas gifts with childish giddy and excitement, in my cute cozy forest home. To my surprise, the following night a storm set in with an unusual amount of snowfall for our area. It was about 12:30am when the house shook and I awoke to a loud mysterious SWOOSH outside. 

A gigantic oak tree had fallen and swallowed up our entire backyard, smashing everything in its path, and stopping just short of the house. The next morning revealed snapped power poles, downed lines, and fallen trees across the snowy roads. Seeing we had no power and no heat, I packed the things that were truly important to me, loaded the car, and drove away. In the back of my head was the idea of possibly never even returning.

When life gets us down, sometimes it seems the easy thing to do is just walk away from a difficult situation. You know, to just throw up our hands. To leave. To start fresh somewhere. To start over. To seek those greener pastures on the other side of the fence somewhere. 

BUT GOD. His Word teaches us not to quit, but to persevere. In spite of life’s curveballs, we are to push forward with the strength we find in a relationship in Christ. Philippians 3:13-14 tells us, “…But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead. I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” It is He that gives us the ability to keep going when we just want to walk away from a challenging life situation. 

Sometimes it takes time to work through or recover from a difficult situation. It can be anything in our life that is upsetting. Whatever the challenge may be, God is what will carry us through and be our strength. All things are passing by. Our life is made up of seasons that are always shifting and changing. Nothing ever stays the same. And when we are struggling and life is hard, if we can just remember that things won’t always be that way, and hold on to the promises of Christ, eventually life lets up and things change up! Phillipians 4:13 tells us, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.”

When times get tough there is always something in that season that the Lord is wanting to teach us. The key is being able to embrace that by asking the Lord to reveal what that lesson is. Trust issues, faith, perseverance, overcoming fear or worry, whatever the case may be, I believe there is always a lesson there, within, from the Lord. James 1:2-3 “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.”

Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Anything the Lord allows to happen in our life has a purpose for our growth and the Lord’s eternal plans and purposes for us. James 1:12 tells us, “Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.”

We were out of our house for nine days due to no power or heat. I prayed, searched my heart, and considered other living situation possibilities. Nothing turned up, and I felt the Lord prompting me to return to our home. We did, and it took another two months for a return to normalcy. During that time we were still in the midst of property restoration and clean up. And, no internet! 

My lesson was that of perseverance and some things the Lord wanted to change up for me. With no internet, life was different! He taught me new habits and gave me new hobbies that are actually much better and healthier. Although it was uncomfortable and a challenge, I am so thankful for all the Lord has changed in my life. 

It is spring now and I once again am enjoying our cozy little cottage in the forest. The sun is shining, the birds are visiting, the flowers are blossoming, the trees are budding leaves, and I am living life differently and am much more thankful for all we have here. The Lord is so Faithful and He knows just what we need and when we need it. He also knows just how to reach us so we can learn those lessons He has for us. He is our Father, indeed, and I am thankful we have a Heavenly Father that is looking after us, teaching us, making a way for us, and loving us for who we are and who are not. 1 John 4:16 tells us, “So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.”

When life gets you down and you just want to run in the other direction, trust in the Lord and just how much He loves you. Press into Him. Psalm 18:2 says, “The LORD is my rock, my fortress, and my savior; my God is my rock, in whom I find protection. He is my shield, the power that saves me, and my place of safety.” And, remember, He wants the very best for you!

For a little extra encouragement and to get stuck in your head, LOL, I have included the link for Toby Mac’s song, Hold On. https://youtu.be/CBVQEt04gxg

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Me, Me, Me

You know talking about you makes me smile…

But every once in a while…

I wanna talk about me, wanna talk about I

Wanna talk about number one, oh my me my

What I think, what I like, what I know

What I want, what I see

I like talking about you, you, you, you usually…

But occasionally…

I wanna talk about me, me, me, me, me

I wanna talk about me, me, me

Bombing down the road, singing and enjoying the drive through the countryside, suddenly I feel a conviction in my heart! The lyrics, that were a moment ago a laughable silly sorta story, are now pointed in my mind, as I think of the song in an entirely different way. I’m thinking about how when I am talking to the Lord it is more often, than not, about me!

Those lyrics are from Toby Keith’s country song, I Wanna Talk About Me. Do you ever feel like you spend way too much time in conversation about yourself when talking with God? The Bible tells us to talk to the Lord about everything, but how easy it is to hyper focus on our selfish self. The wants, needs, and desires of our hearts, the problems, disappointments, and hurts we experience, the healing we want. The list can go on and on!

Philippians 4:6-7 does say, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” And, 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” And, in Luke 18:1, “Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.”

It is biblical to talk to the Lord about EVERYTHING, but look at the other parts of those verses. They say to thank Him for all He has done, rejoice always, and give thanks in all circumstances. We are to worship Him and praise Him for His goodness, in addition to our daily communication of prayer. It is easy to get caught up in the me, me, me, prayers of our heart. What about this…

God, God, God, God

God, God, God, God

He is Number One. 

What He thinks, what He likes, what He knows

What He wants, what He sees… 

He likes talking about us, us, us,

But occasionally…

He wants to talk about

Him, Him, Him, Him

Him, Him, Him!

Haha! Silly, I know. But, pointed. God is our Creator and we were created to worship Him. He cares infinitely for us. Just as the human heart has a hole that can only be satisfied and filled with the love of God, man in his entirety is wired to worship. If man is not worshipping the Lord, he will surely be worshipping something else in this world. Just look around. Our society worships entertainment, objects, nature, mystery and wonder, just to mention a few! Everyone worships something in their life, whether they realize it or not.

There are so many Bible verses that talk about how we are to worship God. One example is from Psalm 100:1-5, “Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth! Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! Know that the Lord, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.” Yes and amen!

Our tendency is to focus on ourselves way too much, like in this song where I portray talking with God excessively about ourselves. Although it is good and necessary for us to be bringing all our needs and concerns to the Lord, it is also important to be worshiping Him. In Isaiah 25:1 it says, Lord, you are my God; I will exalt you and praise your name, for in perfect faithfulness you have done wonderful things, things planned long ago.” So, next time you hear this song may you think about your relationship with the Lord instead! For fun, here is the link to Toby Keith’s song, I Wanna Talk About Me.

https://youtu.be/DtaPRPCWDrE You’re welcome! 😉

Thank you for reading my blog. If you enjoyed this post, please use the share buttons at the bottom of the page instead of doing a copy and paste. All rights reserved by copyright. Thank you. Blessings to you!

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Our Thoughts

“Think good thoughts,” she exclaimed, when I asked what her secret was to living a long and happy life. This was coming from a woman wise in her years. She knew from her 89 years of life experience that it was key to a peaceful and victorious life. She had come to the point in life where she understood the harm that can result when we dwell upon worrisome, fearful, or disturbing thoughts. Our mind is the control center for our body. When our mind is upset so is our body. 

If we can commit our situations to the Lord, trusting Him for His very best purpose in our life, even when things are hard or scary, it will free us to think good and hopeful thoughts in the midst of the storm. If we can walk in peace we will live longer, happier lives. Romans 15:13 says, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” 

According to researchers at Penn State University, only about 8% of the things people worry about come true. This statement by Winston Churchill rings true. “When I look back on all these worries, I remember the story of the old man who said on his deathbed that he had a lot of trouble in his life, most of which had never happened.” It is easy to fall into the worry of the what ifs in life. But, when we turn to God’s Word we are told to do the opposite. In faith, we are to think, trust, and expect God’s very best. “But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.” Jeremiah 17:7-8

We are actually not in control of our life circumstances, even though we struggle with wanting to be in complete control. We all want a certain outcome in life and we may even have a plan we formulated in our mind to reach that hope or dream. Perhaps we have even played out just what that dream looks like and how it should go! But when things don’t go as planned and life gets uncomfortable, scary, or stormy, we need to remember that the Lord has us.

If we are walking in surrender, embracing all that He is doing, it comes down to a matter of trust. He has His reasons for allowing hard or challenging times, which we just cannot fully grasp or understand while we are in the midst of them or looking at them in someone else’s life. But, Psalm 62:1-2 tells us, “I am at rest in God alone; my salvation comes from Him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold; I will never be shaken.” He is always working things out for good.

In Matthew 11:28-30 we are told, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” We are to keep our focus on God, being confident of who we are as we walk in truth.

If our minds are bent on thinking negative, unhealthy, worrisome thoughts, there is still hope in the transforming of our minds. This can be done through the redeeming power of our Lord as we believe and receive our true identity in Christ. When the mind goes down a rabbit trail of negativity, one thing we can do is STOP and do what I call a TRUTH check. Ask yourself, are these thoughts based on truth or are they based on fear and the what ifs of life? Anything not factual needs to be thrown out and our mind needs to refocus on the truth of God’s promises. I have found the following quote by Andrew Murray to be both powerful and life changing: 

In time of trouble, say, First, He brought me here. It is by His will I am in this strait place; in that I will rest. Next, He will keep me here in his love, and give me grace in this trial to behave as his child. Then say, He will make the trial a blessing, teaching me lessons he intends me to learn, and working in me the grace he means to bestow. And last, say, In his good time he can bring me out again, how and when, he knows. Therefore, say, I am here by: 

1. God’s appointment 

2. In His keeping 

3. Under His training

4. For His time

It is our hope in Christ that sustains us through the storms of life; Those things that don’t set right with us, cause us stress and unwanted drama, things we can’t change, things causing us pain or confusion, or whatever our worse fears may be. We belong to Christ and He is our peace. In Joshua 1:9 it says, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” 

When we belong to the Lord, we can rest assured that He is keeping us for His purposes. 2 Thessalonians 3:3 tells us, “The Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one.” Through Christ we can overcome. Those lies from the enemy that are meant to break and destroy us, are just that, for 1 John 4:4 speaks of the victory we have in Christ!  “You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” The Lord is with us and He will fight the real enemy through us. We are victorious in Christ, always.

Ephesians 4:1 tells us we are to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which we have been called. If you are a child of God, saved by the blood of Christ and walking in surrender to Him then you are not your own, and, neither are you alone. You belong to the Holy Spirit who dwells in you. And, regardless of difficult situations, God is always there, taking care of you. You will never face a mountain on your own. The Creator of all things is helping you and He is faithful, forever, to the end. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6

We are empowered by God’s Spirit. We are to walk in faith and freedom, not being bound by fear of the unknown. We are to live life fully unto the Lord, following the leading of the Holy Spirit and being confident in His care and chosen purposes for each of us. And, we are to be thinking good thoughts of hope in Christ. We can transform our minds when we focus on the promises of God and stand on the truth, not the what ifs or lies of the enemy. 

Jesus Christ told us in John 14:27, “Peace I leave you; my peace I give you, not as the world gives do I give to you; do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.” Rest and trust in the Lord and He will give you the peace you need right here and now. “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7 

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God’s Got IT

Jumping and pulling and playfully barking, the pup pulled on the leash. She was excited and wanted to go play with the dog who was running freely across the green ball field. As I reigned her in, I thought about how we, too, often want to just run off, in pursuit of our own plans and ideas in spite of what is actually best for us.  

It came down to a battle of wills, as this pup was not being obedient. Bottom line, she saw what she wanted and sought to be in control of her circumstance. How often do we pull and tug and press-in for what we want? The will of a dog can be broken. But, what about us? God does not want us to have a broken spirit. Instead, He gives us freedom to make choices in life, be they good or bad for us. He gives us free will, unlike a master and his dog.

Holding back from what we desire is a challenge! Our flesh is really good at demanding what it wants, right… NOW. The power of our flesh can so overcome us that we are incapable of determining the consequence of a choice we are making in the moment. This is why it is so important that we bring everything before the Lord before making a decision. There are many choices to be made in life that demand our attention. We are to walk in obedience with the Lord by first bringing everything before Him. Philippians 4:6 tells us, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”

I recently watched a survival reality TV show where the guy got so hungry he decided to kill the little critter that he had befriended. The squirrel had become his only source of companionship on the lonely and isolated tundra island. He had gained its trust, so it would hang out with him and keep him company. He would talk to it as if it were his friend. However, when his hunger overcame him one episode, he killed it and ate it to satisfy his ravenous appetite. The result was him falling to pieces, an emotional wreck. He was so overcome with guilt and misery for eating his only little buddy that he resigned. He quit the game in a puddle of remorse and tears, and went home utterly defeated. 

Psalm 56:8 tells of Christ’s empathy, “You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.” Sometimes I have to chuckle, thinking about my tower of bottles in heaven! But, it also makes me realize how much Jesus cares about my troubles, sorrow, and pain. He never misses a single tear I shed. He is always aware and always there. Nothing is hidden from the Lord. Psalm 32:8 tells us, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.” He has purpose in our hurts and disappointments. Nothing happens to us that is a surprise to the Lord. Anything that happens in a believers life is approved and done with the watchful eye of our Heavenly Father. He never gives us more than we can handle. He only permits what will ultimately be best for us and also bring Him glory. 

So when we are hurting, frustrated, confused, or just don’t understand why we are going through something hard, it is important that we acknowledge who we are before God. We belong to Him. We are the clay that our Potter is molding into something much more beautiful than we can ever imagine. And, that can be a painful process. But, in spite of our discomfort, we are to embrace what He is doing in our life and rejoice in the Lord. We are to be giving God glory in our joyful moments along with times of sorrow, disappointment, and pain. The Scriptures tell us in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

In spite of whatever hardship we are facing we still need to acknowledge the goodness of God in our lives by thanking Him for all the abundantly good things we have and are blessed with. Anything we have is a gift from the Lord. James 1:17 tells us, “Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.” Many think that all they have is because of the hard work they have put in during their life to obtain it. Yes, but, ultimately, God is our Provider. He is the One who makes things happen for us and shines His face upon us, making a good way in life. 

Ever feel like you have exhausted all your resources in a situation? It’s like we try this and that, using our knowledge and logic, hoping it will solve or end a certain problem. It can be difficult when we don’t understand what we are to do in a particular situation we are dealing with, even though we are obediently waiting upon Him. We have sought the Lord on it, yet, we don’t see anything happening or feel the Lord telling us what to do. Try as we may, there can seem to be no end or answer in sight! The battle actually belongs to Jesus. To allow for that, we need to get before Him and give Him our problems. We must surrender to what God is wanting to do in our lives, to the will of the Lord.

If we are bringing our issues to the Lord in prayer, seeking Him for wisdom, guidance, and answers, He will work on our behalf. We can receive His perfect peace in the midst of the trials and challenges we face. Isaiah 26:3 tells us, “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.” And when we can’t change things and nothing seems to be working, we must continue to press-in to the Lord and wait upon Him for how he is moving in our lives. God is Sovereign. God is Just. God never changes. GOD IS GOOD ALL THE TIME. We are not in control of the situations in our life. God is. There is a point where we need to understand and accept this fact in order to keep our peace. Then, we must walk in faith.

This is a hard season to be in. BUT GOD. I like to look at it as if we have put in our request and know that the Lord is working on it, even though we cannot see any changes. It gives me hope knowing that He is taking care of things and I am not the one that needs to figure things out all on my own. Instead, my focus is to be on Him each day, not the problem, and be faithful in that day for what He asks of me, all the while waiting for His leading and prompting. There is peace in knowing and trusting that the Lord is in fact working all things out for our best good. Romans 8:28 tells us, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

Our life is not a game of chess where we strategically plan our moves until one day we are in check and BAM, life is perfect and it is all that we ever wanted. We have a winner! It just doesn’t work that way. Life is completely unpredictable. Ecclesiastes 10:14 reminds us, “No man knows what is to be.” 

Having a humble heart before the Lord is key if you want to walk in obedience with the Lord. Not our will, but His. We must trust Him with our life and that of those we love, knowing He loves us and wants the very best for us. Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” We are here for a purpose. We need to be open to living out the plans the Lord has intended for us. If we are seeking the Lord and walking in obedience then we can be confident in Proverbs 16:9, which tells us, “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” 

So no matter how hard life seems or how overwhelming a situation may be, we are to remember that God is in control and we just are not. No matter how much we so want an answer or understanding, or something to change, it truly is not our call, but the decision of our Maker who knows what we need and when we need it. His timing is always perfect.

Bottom line is, God’s got this. YES, HE HAS ALL OF IT. Whatever you are facing, just know if you are a believer and follower of Jesus Christ, then you are not dealing with IT alone. We are to lay it all down at the foot of the cross in an act of surrender. Not our will, but the will of God in our life. It is a daily surrender. We have to be able to walk in peace even when we are uncomfortable in our present situation. The apostle Paul said it well in Philippians 4:11-13, “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through Him who gives me strength.” 

Even though that green ball field looks inviting, and we can be head strong, let’s not run off and try to take care of things in our own make-sense, selfish, I’m tired of waiting, disobedient kind of way! 1 Thessalonians 5:16-17 tells us to, “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” God has a plan and a purpose for each of us, despite the challenges and difficulties we are facing. We are to join Him by embracing all that He is doing, even when we don’t understand and feel uncomfortable. Isaiah 55:8-9 tells us, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways.” And so, we must be patient in faith and trust the Lord for what He is doing. “… What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived, the things God has prepared for those who love him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9 The Lord is Faithful, always. Trust in Him. His ways are BEST.

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How to Overcome Rejection

Like an ever growing snowball tumbling down a mountainside, picking up debris with great speed and momentum, so is the propulsion of rejection in the heart and mind of the one who believes this deception to be true. Hurt upon hurt, lie upon lie, until one’s life is perceived as continual rejection, be it real or imagined. 

The lies we believe about our lack of self-worth can seriously trip us up. It is a vicious cycle that snowballs. The more we believe the lie of rejection, the more we embrace it and make it part of who we are. Wearing the identity of rejection as our persona, insecurities grow and are seemingly affirmed when things go wrong in life.

Rejection and self-pity are from the pit of hell. They are not attributes given to us by the Lord. Don’t allow the pain and toxicity from real or perceived rejection ruin you. The fact is, we are God’s Masterpiece. We are made in the very image of God! Psalm 139:14 tells us, “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”

We are not responsible for the neglectful behavior we receive from others. However, we are responsible for our response. If you have wronged someone, apologize and make things right. Otherwise, your sin will cause a separation between you and the Lord. If your conscience is clear and without conviction, trust the Lord to take care of hurtful or toxic people in your life. His ways are always best. It may seem that people get away with wrong attitudes or hurtful behaviors, but that is a fallacy. We are all accountable to God. Nothing is hidden from the sovereignty of the Lord our God, as He sees the most hidden places of the heart. 

Pray for those who have hurt you or let you down. Lift them up to the Lord. This enables you to be proactive in a beneficial manner. Let the Lord do the convicting and correcting, if need be. Let go of hurts that can’t be resolved and seem unfixable. Focus in on Him and let Him heal unexplained disappointments or hurts in life. Having a heart of compassion and desire for others well-being will help. The Lord is merciful, and so should we also be. When we put the good of others first, we push down the selfish desires of our flesh. Do what is right before the Lord. There is peace in doing the right thing, as we rest and trust in Him. Ephesians 4:32 tells us to, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

Our purpose is not to aspire popularity or flattery from others. Seek ONLY to please Him, as our affirmation needs to come from Him. He will honor that desire. If we are serving the Lord first in our life, and He is our confidence, other things will also plumb up! Matthew 6:33 tells us, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” We are loved and accepted by the Lord our God. He will provide comfort and peace, along with strength and new confidence. Isaiah 30:15 reassures us that, …In quietness and confidence shall be your strength.”

It is of utmost importance that you know your worth. Walk in the freedom of knowing who you are in Christ. Your identity is in Him. Having a correct perspective of yourself will be a complete game changer. Enjoy your life. Count your blessings. You belong, are worthy, and your are competent. I urge you to meditate on this. Ephesians 2:10 tells us, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Be the best you!

The following is a paraphrase model taken from a sermon by Dr. Charles Stanley of In-Touch Ministries on The 3 Steps of How to Overcome Rejection:

1. Identify your feelings of rejection

They stem out of feelings of not belonging, not feeling worthy, and not feeling competent.

2. Reject them 

We are God’s children. 1 John 3:1 says, “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.” 

We belong to God!

He gave His son for us. John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 

We are worthy!

We can do all things through Christ. Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” 

We are competent!

3. Affirm

We are unconditionally loved, forgiven, accepted, and complete in Christ. Live as a child of the Living God. LISTEN TO WHAT GOD SAYS ABOUT YOU!

Thank you for reading my blog. If you enjoyed this post, please use the share buttons at the bottom of the page instead of doing a copy and paste. All rights reserved by copyright. Thank you. Blessings to you!

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Our Hope in Christ

We are all on our own path and journey with the Lord. If we are seeking the Lord and walking with Him, then The Lord has us right where He wants us in this present moment of time. He knows what we need, so stay true to Him. He is Faithful to provide all our need. Only seek God’s affirmation. It is God’s approval that matters. Comparing oneself to another is unprofitable. Instead, let’s walk with the Lord and do our best, being confident and secure in who we are in Christ, and where God has us in life. We are where we are for a reason. We have purpose. Let’s learn what God is teaching us and use the gifts the Lord has given us. Let’s be who God designed us to be. We are His masterpiece. We are all unique and different, and that’s more than good. It’s perfect!

1 Peter 1:3-9

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.  Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”

Safe in His Arms

It was my son’s second semester away at Bible College. I was still adjusting to the idea of him being out of the house, and as we wrapped up our phone conversation, my son shared that he felt the Lord might be leading him to spend a semester abroad, in Israel. Wow, I thought to myself… my boy may soon be living on the other side of the world.

Sure enough, as the weeks rolled by, an application was submitted and my son was accepted into the program to spend a semester abroad studying and touring the Holy Land. I was thrilled, yet, obviously concerned as mothers instinctively are towards their children. Even though this was uncharted territory, I knew if the Lord was calling my son to Israel then he must go. The Lord’s way is always best and I wanted that for my son. He was 18 years old at that time.

The Lord was so kind and graceful. Weeks prior to my son’s departure, He gave my son a confirmation scripture that was passed on to me. This proved to be the promise that I hung to ever so tightly as my reassure from the Lord. The Scripture found it’s place on my refrigerator, and was a constant reminder to me. I had complete peace that surpassed all understanding.

It was interesting the reactions and feedback we would receive upon sharing my son’s plans to live in the Middle East. Some were extremely excited and supportive, and yet others just seemed to shake their heads in disbelief. In their minds, this idea was completely ludicrous due to the element of danger they believe it involved. However, when that happened, I was able to confidently share with them that the Lord was taking care of my son. He had given me a promise.

There had been much talk in the news about dangerous situations occurring in Israel, such as suicide bombers and missile attacks; a commonplace in that faraway land. To some, Israel seemed riddled with deadly terrorist attacks and eminent danger. And there I was, not only sending my eldest son off to live there, but being totally behind him and supportive in his endeavor.

Just prior to my son’s departure, a strange thing happened. It had been a wet February. The ground was saturated from the heavy rainfall. The kids and I had been cozy in our little home, tucked amongst the tall pines. Although the storm raged outside, we felt safe in our warm beds that night. However, in the morning, upon waking, I pulled up the blind that had covered my window throughout the night. To my shock, as we slept, an enormous pine tree had fallen. There was a gigantic hole and the tree roots stood tall. Following the tree trunk led us to the road below, which was now blocked by this towering giant that had uprooted in the night.

What was truly amazing was, had the tree fallen towards our house instead of away, we would have been crushed under its weight as it would have smashed directly onto our home. It was as if one of the Lord’s angels had pushed it away from us, keeping us safe from all harm. And, THAT, resonated deeply within me.

To me, it was the Lord’s way of telling me that HE is our Protector from ALL harmful situations. We aren’t at risk of being in harm’s way because we are in a more volatile area in the world. That really doesn’t matter. The Lord is the One who keeps us safe. We don’t need to leave the country to be in danger. There are dangers while right in the safety and comfort of our own happy homes! Thinking we are safe just because we are in a familiar place, is a false sense of security. Where is our security found? It is only found in the Lord! Psalm 18:2 tells us, “The Lord is my protector; he is my strong fortress. My God is my protection, and with him I am safe.”

So, when the missiles rained down on Israel and the terrorist did attack while my son was living in Israel, I was okay. I had complete peace that the Lord was my son’s Protector. I trusted Him with my son’s life. He gave me a promise through His Word and then backed it up with a visual right on my own property. Every morning, when I lifted that shade from my window, there was the fallen pine tree, a constant reminder to me of the Lord’s goodness and faithfulness in keeping the kids and I safe from ALL harm.

Psalm 121

“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 not sleep. The Lord watches over you- the Lord is your shade 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.”

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Alert Bold and Courageous

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It has been said, cats have nine lives. Upon adopting our little cat, who had outlived his previous owner, we came to find out he had barely survived being hit by a car. He had sustained much injury, and, as a result, he had poor vision, and head bob, was underweight, and very timid. However, as the months went by and we prayed for his healing and loved on him, our little Buddy got stronger, healthier, and became quite assertive, all the while maintaining his gentle sweet spirit.

Buddy was not a hunter, as he had no aggressive behavior within him. While our other two cats were out hunting it up, little Buddy could usually be found quietly sleeping in the safety of our home. However, as the months past, he began venturing outdoors during the day. He enjoyed our front porch and we had begun to grow accustomed to his company as we would come and go. At nightfall though, he always made his way indoors. He liked keeping us company, and seeing that his name was Buddy he got nicknamed all kinds of cute pet names depending where he was. When he was on our desk he was Study Buddy, while in the restroom it was Bathroom Buddy, on the couch with us… Snuggle Buddy.

One particular evening this little guy was out late with us. My son and I were hanging out in the bed of his new truck, chatting it up and enjoying the cool of the evening and admiring the beauty of the twinkle in the night sky. Tailgate Buddy was with us. His motor was running as he purred and rubbed and happily hung-out with us. Our conversation turned to Buddy and how he would make a great Truck Buddy.

Buddy was not a cat who stayed out at night. We were especially careful with him due to his poor eyesight. He typically was not even outdoors in the evening. However, on this particular one things went differently. Since he was ALWAYS indoors at bedtime, it did not even occur to us to double check that he was in. Apparently, he had wondered off while we were talking that night. We came in, and didn’t realize Bedtime Buddy was missing. The next morning, I immediately realized that Bathroom Buddy was not around.

That was a sorrowful day as a terrible discovery was made later, by my son. It was so devastating to see. In complete shock and dismay, we stood, crying together. Buddy had been attacked and eaten by a mountain lion. Never have I seen such a thing as that. We were devastated.

Everything happens for a reason. Why did such a gentle spirited animal succumb to such a death? I don’t have the answers, but do feel it was definitely a warning to us. Mountain lions had been sighted up and down our road in weeks prior to this attack. Was it the Lord’s way of getting our attention and alerting us to the danger lurking around in our very backyard? Perhaps. But, even more than that was a spiritual lesson.

The Bible tells us in 1 Peter 5:8-9, “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.” I can’t help but think of this. There we were, enjoying ourselves just the evening before in quiet conversation beneath the stars, making fun loving plans together. We did not realize there was a dangerous predator lurking in the shadows of the night. Our guard was down. We were naïve and unaware of the peril right there on our property.

How vigilant we must be in our lives and Christian walk! We must ALWAYS be seeking the Lord. How important it is for us to read His word, commune with Him, and ask Him the questions that bewilder us in this life. His leading and guiding is of utmost importance. If we become complacent in our walk with the Lord, we risk the enemy sneaking in and devouring us. May it not be! James 4:7 tells us, “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”

As Christ followers, we are to be of a gentle spirit. In God’s word, it mentions what is referred to as the Fruit of the Holy Spirit. There are nine attributes which are found in Galatians 5:22-23 “But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”  It is important that we have such characteristics as these. May the Lord be our strength and help to attain such Christ-like qualities!

In addition to these qualities of gentleness and most noble character, we are also instructed in Joshua 1:9-11 to be bold and obedient. “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” I thank the Lord that He has given us an instruction manual for life!

Our cat Buddy had escaped previous death. However, he was naïve and ill-equipped for the dangerous enemy that stalked him as prey. May we learn from this, the spiritual responsibility we have. May we, ourselves, BE AWARE of the adversary that prowls around looking for someone to devour. May we submit ourselves to the Lord. May we stay strong by reading His word, communing, and seeking Him in all things. May we be gentle, yet ALERT, BOLD and COURAGEOUS. “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7

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Leap of Faith

Leap-of-Faith-Square-1024x1024[1]Looking down from my vantage point I saw the side of the hard stone edge of the rock. Beyond that, the deep turquoise water that seemed so far away. My legs felt weak, not only because I was afraid, but due to the physical stress and exhaustion I had already been through, getting to the river. People had gathered around to watch this mama bear as she stood, frozen, peering down into the depths below. My teenage son stood confidently at my side to encourage me.

As I stood towering over the side of the cliff-like rock, I had asked Jesus to help me. I kept saying out loud, “I can do this. I can do this.” But, in spite of this, my feet seemed to be glued to the granite beneath them. My son had already jumped in several times to show me just how simple it was. Dripping wet, he stood patiently to my left with his toothy grin and dancing eyes. “Mom,” he said, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed… It’s a leap of faith.” With those words, I took hold of what he was saying. He was right. There was just no way I could make this jump into the water below on my own doing. It had to be a leap of faith. And so, I asked the Lord to catch me, and I jumped into His loving arms there in the dark water below me.

I remember the feeling of crashing into the water and going down, down, down. It was a strange sensation of being completely out of control in the utter darkness. Then, up, up, up I went until, pop! As soon as I surfaced I heard people cheering! Victory! I had done it. What a great feeling!

I followed my son, who had jumped in before me. We swam to the river’s edge and I tiredly pulled myself up the slippery craggy rocks. It was then that I realized we were on the same big outcropping of rocks I had just come from. He wanted me to jump again! Realizing this, I once again went to the river’s edge high upon the rock. As I looked down into the water, I had a realization. I was back right where I started, my feet once again firmly planted beneath me and not moving.

One leap of faith does not make the next jump necessarily any easier. Yes, we have that memory of success and remembrance that we were victorious in Christ, BUT, each faith jump is in its entirety it’s own faith moment. We are required  to trust, obey, overcome fear of the unknown, and relinquish control of the situation and outcome to the Lord our God. However, the natural tendency of most individuals is not that of surrender.

There may be times of darkness in our faith walk. However, we are not really in the dark. It only feels that way to us. When I jumped into the river, darkness surrounded me, but it was only my perspective, and, it was temporary. It was just a matter of time before I was back into the light. Scripture tells us, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.” Psalm 139:11-12 Where the spirit of the Lord is, there is no darkness.

Our human tendency is a desire to control, influence, or direct people’s behavior, or the course of events. Having authority over our lives sounds like it should be a good thing. However, there is no way of actually managing our world, even if we wanted to. Life happens. Sometimes good things happen. Sometimes bad things take place. But, ultimately God is the one in control of this world. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9

We all have things in our life that hold us back. Fear and insecurity can paralyze us to a point of not being able to move at all. It is during these times that we must jump right into our Savior’s loving arms. When we do, we will be victorious in Christ. He will never fail us. God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5. With faith as small as a mustard seed, we can take whatever leap of faith that is called for in our walk with the Lord. Do not be afraid. The Lord is waiting with His arms outstretched for you!

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Childlike Faith

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My daughter had the recent privilege of attending a Vacation Bible School. As usual, she brought home her CD from her week at camp. Seeing that she is passionate about music we, of course, had to play it in the car most every trip thereafter. As these songs played, my spirit lifted as I began to hum and then actually sing along! Hours later, when off on my own, I found myself continuing to sing the songs I picked up from the children’s CD. Although geared for children with the pep and extra fun flair, the VBS CD is chalk full of God’s truth.

Here are the lyrics to one of the songs on that CD. They are so applicable and true!

Thank you God for saving me. Rescued from the middle of the ocean deep. You set my feet on solid ground. I once was lost, but now I’m found. Everything I have I owe it all to you, for everything you are and all you do. I could write a book, fill every single page with a million reasons to thank you, Lord. Thank you God for the big blue sky and birds that fly so high. Thank you, God, for all my friends. Thank you, God, for your awesomeness. Thank you, God, for all you’ve done. You gave your one and only Son. Now I can have eternal life. Thank you for my opened eyes. Thank you, Lord. Thank you, Lord.  – Million Reasons by Joy Stockler copyright 2018 Group Publishing Inc.

The Bible tells us we are to have childlike faith. In Matthew 18:3 Jesus tells us, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” What a beautiful example the Lord has given us. Children trust. They have soft hearts and are eager to learn. They forgive easily. They naturally look up to their Father and desire to please him. Their minds are like sponges soaking things up. We adults should also have such character traits but, as children of God. Proverbs 3:5-6 tells us, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your path straight.”

In Psalm 16:5-8, King David acknowledges the joys and benefits of a life lived in companionship with God. “… you have made my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance. I will praise the Lord, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me. I have set the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.”

My daughter’s VBS music is such a beautiful portrayal of childlike faith. The words of the song speak of the truth of Jesus Christ and what He did for us. There is also much thankfulness. We are to be thankful even in the things we can easily take for granted such as the blue sky and our friends. “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” James 1:17 Yes, the Lord our God is the Giver of them all!

Based off our example of a child, how can we embrace childlike faith? We must trust in the Lord, keep our hearts soft, be eager to learn what our Father wants to teach us, look to Jesus, desire to please Him, and soak up the truth found in the Bible, which is God’s infallible, inspired, and inerrant truth. Childlike faith is to trust and obey.

To Listen to Million Reasons Click here

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We CAN Make a Difference

1f4161e8b426d5767fbb679c31371e82“You didn’t do anything to help, mom?” My teenage son’s question hung in the air as we drove. I had been telling him about an employee that fell at a store I had been shopping at. The guy had fallen hard, and as the sound of him hitting the floor rang out, my head quickly turned to see what had happened.

There on the floor lay a middle-aged man. He held his hand to his nose and was not getting up. People quickly crowded around him, as a co-worker ran to the back room for help. A passer-by shouted out, “He needs an ice-pack,” and kept shopping. I knew he needed much more than an ice-pack, as he was not getting up and continued to groan and keep a hand up to his head. I thought to myself. What can I do? And with that thought, I did the only thing I knew to do. I prayed for him and his healing, and quietly slipped out the door.

All that day that fellow lying on the floor kept coming to my mind. And, with each remembrance, I lifted him up in prayer. However, as the day progressed and after my son’s shocked response, I began to question myself. Perhaps I could have done something more. And so, I began praying… Lord, how could I have been of assistance? What should I do if I am once again in a similar situation? What are trying to teach me?

I am not typically a take charge type of person, especially in a crisis situation. I am more the soft spoken type who would wait for someone else to jump into action. As I prayed and mulled this over, I realized the Lord was telling me that I am actually very capable of helping. I could have called 911 or sat by his side and offered words of encouragement.  I could have prayed with him. How often do we walk away from a situation due to feelings of inadequacy, believing we have nothing to offer?

As believers and followers of Jesus Christ, we can make a difference. We have the Holy Spirit within us. He will provide wisdom and discernment. If we listen, we can help others even when we feel insufficient. “Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God.” 2 Corinthians 3:5. However, it takes willingness on our part to take the risk of stepping out in faith. We need to put ourselves out there and be vulnerable to make a difference in the lives of those the Lord puts in our path.  “Have I not commanded you? 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.

We can pray for healing but, their time could be up. As a believer we must realize in an emergency situation lifting someone up in prayer could mean the difference of someone living or dying. And, ultimatley, their eternal destination of going to heaven or hell could be at stake. So, we must choose to be proactive in our Christian walk and faith. We should be alert and ready to be called into action. “Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us? And I said, “Here I am. Send me!”  Isaiah 6:8.

It is easy to cop out during a crisis situation. It is much harder to step out in faith and get involved. It comes down to this. Do we want to make a difference in the lives we touch in our daily walk? If so, we should be active in our faith and living boldly. 1 Thessalonians 2:12 says, “We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.” We are to be encouraging, comforting, and live lives worthy of the Lord our God.

Since this emergency situation had such an impact upon me I couldn’t help asking about the employee’s condition upon my return visit, the following day. His co-worker told me he was in the hospital with a concussion, a broken nose, and a broken arm. He suffered some serious injuries, but thankfully he will recover in a matter of time. To God be ALL the glory!

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The Path to Peace

imagesThe traffic had come to a standstill. It was a stifling hot day to sit at a dead stop on the freeway. My teenage son, cell phone with GPS in hand, piped up. “We can get out of this traffic and take an alternate route, mom!” Always up for an adventure with my kids and relieved to hear there was another way home, I immediately took him up on his suggestion. Little did I know, there would be a surprise in this adventure that would abruptly stop us in our tracks and strike a deep cord of fear within me.

The winding roads took us through dry summer fields of gold, neatly manicured vineyards, and quaint off the beaten path towns. Later, we drove through a foothill region with no trees whatsoever. Instead, countryside was dotted with huge white windmills that were being harnessed for power. It was one of those moments in time that I filed in my mind, to remember and hold dear to my heart forever. It was such a happy day. We had the radio blasting and all four windows of the car rolled down. The kids were singing, laughing, and sticking their hands and faces into the wind, and our car was filled with joy.

As we continued to journey on, we drove through wetlands. We crossed many uniquely built bridges that safely connected us to unknown territories. This was all new to us, as we had never ventured into such areas as these before. As we drove, the land we traversed became increasingly remote. The road narrowed to a single car width, resembling a paved bike trail. The sun was now setting, as the road paralleled a huge river. We marveled at the beauty of the sky and the brilliant colors of hot pink, purple, and orange that seemed to reach right down to the fast moving waters beneath it.

Passing other traffic was now only an occasional occurrence. It was a quiet peaceful drive as I embraced our adventure, and marveled at this amazing route my son had come up with to get us home. Gone was the hustle and bustle of heavy traffic and being stuck on the parking lot of the interstate. It was seemingly just the kids and I, and the massive river that traveled with us like a faithful friend.

Nightfall was quickly approaching. Our journey continued as our path twisted, turned, and then came to a stop. Before my eyes I saw an electronic gate with arms. Posted in front of it was a large sign. It read…  Last Ferry 9:00 p.m. Last WHAT?! Looking beyond the gate and sign, I saw what looked like some kind of military boat. The idea of driving my car with my babies onto such a mechanical thing, in order to cross the expanse of the river completely paralyzed me with fear. We had only 20 minutes to make a decision. If we choose not to cross, there would be hours of backtracking on tiny roads into the wee hours of the night and then on top of that, additional hours of freeway driving. I felt I had no choice.

I contemplated. I prayed. I played out scary thoughts of driving my babies onto the submarine looking barge and my car rolling off and dumping us into the swiftly flowing depths of the river. I think what made this so difficult for me was that it was just so unexpected. Never, in my mind, would I have thought I would be challenged to such a strange situation as this! I was alone with my kids with nightfall closing in, and in a strange remote unfamiliar place. I did not even know such opportunities as this existed in my state. And, so we sat, waiting for the inevitable moment when I would drive my car onto this mass that would move us from one expansive shore to the other. Why was I so afraid?

Fear can grip us, and when it does it can stop us in our tracks. Yes, sometimes fear can be a warning and we must take heed. However, not always. Was my fear warranted in this situation? Nope. However, fear is real and when we are afraid, the only way out of that fear is to put our trust in the only One who we can truly count on, the Lord Jesus Christ. And, that is just what I did. I prayed, committed the situation to the Lord, and then in faith, I drove my car onto that ferry. 2 Timothy 1:7 tells us, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.”

I’m not going to say I did not still have fear and insecurity as we slowly crossed that river. It was there. But, as we floated across, a peace came over me and I began to enjoy the experience. It was quite amazing! My car was safely locked in place. The kids thought it was too cool! And, it really was! The ferry was lit up and on the horizon was a lingering tinge of orange color in the night sky, along with the first few bright stars. Dare I say, it was even a bit romantic!

Once safe on the other side, I was relieved and flooded with joy. Not just for our safety, but for the entire experience. What seemed so unfamiliar, foreign, and frightening to me was, in actuality, a fun, chance of a lifetime opportunity. The kids and I will always remember that moment in time when we traveled across a huge river safely in our own family car!

We can choose fear in our life challenges, or we can choose faith. When faced with fear there are four things we can do to help us overcome our fear, after first praying about our situation. Always ask for wisdom, discernment, and guidance from the Lord. In addition to  prayer, calmly and logically work through the following:

  1. Identify the fear.
  2. Is it based on truth?
  3. Identify what is true.
  4. Concentrate on the many blessings in your life.

These simple steps can help rule out unwarranted fears that are not based in reality, which will free us up to operate on faith. Hebrews 11:1, tells us that “faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”

This testimony about my fear of crossing the river on a ferry with my kids in our family car may seem silly. However, it is a good example of how in life we travel to unknown places and are continually faced with uncomfortable and unexpected situations. Next time you are faced with a decision to make and you are fearful, ask yourself… is this fear based in truth? If you are forthright with the Lord He will make things clear to you. In Matthew 17:20 Jesus tells us, “If you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘’Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.” Yes, we must have faith as the Lord instructs us.

So, while out on the highways and byways of life, I encourage you, when your life path comes to a surprising halt, and you are gripped by fear, choose instead to seek the Lord. He will flood you with His perfect peace and He will lead you and guide you in the way you should go. He is always faithful to those who call on Him.  “The Lord is good to those who depend on him, to those who search for him.” Lamentations 3:25 And, often times, when we are afraid, we need not be. Instead, choose to “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 You will be glad you did!

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THAT Open Door

open-doors-decorating-ideas-4-833x675Proverbs 16:9 tells us, “The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.” How important it is to allow the Lord to lead us!

To assure we are walking in the Lord’s best way and will for our life, we must be in constant communication with the Lord our God. This means reading His word, taking time to sit at His feet in prayer and worship, and denying ourselves of the things in our life that inappropriately steal away our time with the Lord. If we are not communing with the Lord as we should, we can easily begin to self –absorb our lives with things that are not God’s best way for our lives.

The Christian life often makes reference to an open door. This could be a new beginning such as a career opportunity or a myriad of other life choices. However, just because a door has opened in the believer’s life does not automatically mean it is God’s optimal way.  Often times, an open door will appear to be an amazing choice that seems to make complete sense. But the Bible, our instruction manual for living life, tells us in Isaiah 55:8-9, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” For this reason, the Christ follower must seek discernment and wisdom from the Lord before making such decisions.

How difficult it is when THAT open door is something we WANT. Maybe it is an unfulfilled dream or the desire to achieve a certain accomplishment. Personal gratification and the pride of life are huge obstacles that need to be overcome when seeking God’s best and perfect will for our lives. Our human minds cannot begin to grasp the depth of God’s plans and purposes. His ways are ALWAYS much better and bigger than our own.

What is ideal is when we are able to mesh our heart’s desire with that of the Lord’s. This can be done by a surrender of control and a submission of one’s life to the Lord our God. Sometimes that means denying what we think we want in this life and instead trusting the Lord for His best for us, even if it seems illogical or foolish through the eyes of those looking in and, perhaps. even to ourselves. Faith and trust in the Lord are essential, as Jesus tells us in Matthew 17:20, “For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

What can be tricky is when life is happening and things are moving quickly forward and things seem to be falling into place. But then, a lack of peace sets in that is disturbing enough to cause all forward motion to come to a complete stop. This I believe is a warning from the Holy Spirit, a quickening of our spirit that the Lord uses to get our attention in order to prevent us from making a bad decision or poor life choice that could have dire consequences in our life.

I recently experienced this, personally. It shook me up and stopped me completely. I had been striving hard and was becoming increasingly consumed by my own determination and goals that I had set before myself. I could sense other priorities beginning to slide in my life, along with my strength and peace of mind.

I am thankful to the Lord for His conviction in my life. He has since rerouted and refocused me on the correct priorities in my life. I admit, it was difficult for me to let go of my own selfish thoughts, plans, and pride of life ideas. But, thankfully, the Lord has given me His perfect peace. Surrendering to the Lord is the best place to be in life. “You  will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.” Isaiah 26:3 The Lord is my Provider and I trust Him to make a way for me. I am yoked to Christ. “For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:30

Letting go of a certain goal or dream in life can be tough, but totally worth it! The Lord always knows BEST.  I am so thankful for the Lord’s amazing love, grace, and mercy. He is the all knowing Sovereign God of the universe. Thank you Lord for your unconditional love! “And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:17-19 AMEN! Go out in peace as you seek the Lord’s best open door for your life. You will be glad you did!

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God’s Best

Honeysuckle-010[1].jpgThe green vine eloquently twisted and intertwined with the branches of the young sapling. But as this vine continued to grow, it began choking the life of the tree it was encroaching upon. The long vines had wrapped themselves around the width of the tree branches and began cutting into it. In other places the vine had completely tangled itself within the tree. What appeared as a representation of beauty and new life was actually choking the life out of the young tree. The vine would soon need to be cut-off; otherwise, the tree’s growth would be stunted and damaged. The symbolism of the vine is likened to things in the world that appear to be good for us, but are actually detrimental.

There are many beautiful things in this world that we intertwine our lives with. People, objects, activities, and habits can seem like good and healthy choices or lifestyles, but are they? What is good for one person may or may not be good for another. Just because a friend, leader, relative, or co-worker chooses to do, or not do something, does not mean it is the way for us to live. How often do we hear someone tell us their opinion regarding a life choice we are trying to make?  People gladly offer their opinions. We need to be cautious not to listen to the advice of others without first bringing it before the Lord.

Who knows your every thought, need, and desire? The only One who truly knows you inside and out is your Heavenly Father, your Maker. He made you. He wired you to think and operate for His purposes. “I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.” Psalm 139:14 But, how many of us are living our lives for His full potential?

The noise of this world is loud. Unless we choose carefully, we will live with a continual barrage of opinion being thrown at us. Most everywhere we turn we find an attitude, a belief, or a judgment be it through media, or an interpersonal relationship. No matter what is said to us, thrown at us or dictated to us, we must bring it back to God’s word, the Bible. The Bible is our instruction manual for how to live life. If anyone ever says to you, “this is what I think you should do,” do not do it. Instead, run swiftly to the One who does know what you should do. God, the Creator of the universe is the only One who truly knows what is best for you. And, don’t we all want the very best God has for us? You bet we do!

Is there a beautiful alluring something in your life that on its own, is a good thing, but for you, is not? Are you doing some thing because it is working for someone else? Are you listening to the advice of another? Whatever the case, I would encourage you to re-evaluate why you are choosing to live the way you are. We should be conscious of why we choose to do the things we do. After all, we are the ones who must live with the consequences of our life choices.

The world is full of the lushness of life that appeals to our flesh and minds, choking us when its vines wrap themselves around our neck and bind us. We must be proactive in our faith and on our knees before the Lord to be wise and discerning. I urge you to seek God first in all you do. We are to obey the Lord our God. Obedience is what truly matters in this life. Do not allow the world to deceive you with its cunning behavior and do not fall prey to listening to the advice of others without first consulting with Almighty God. “But seek first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” Matthew 6:33

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Press on Toward the Goal

pigpen-color[1]I was under siege. I felt like Pig-Pen, but instead of a cloud of dirt surrounding me I had a black cloud of gnats around my head, dive bombing my face and buzzing my ears. I began flailing and waving my hands in an effort to swat them away however, it only seemed to makes matters worse as if it egged them on to attack me all the more. The gnats were so distracting I was having a hard time focusing on my run, and that is when the Lord began speaking to my heart.

I had run this particular trail three times a week for over a year and never had this problem. But, the last few times out, the gnats would overtake me and cause me to bat my arms in the air completely throwing off my running focus. After miles of dealing with this, I would eventually tire. I found that if the gnats landed on my face they would succumb to their death by getting stuck in a pool of sweat and then they would get wiped out permanently, as I brushed their lifeless bodies off my face. I also realized that if I could remain focused on the run, I could actually temporarily outrun them by speeding up. However, inevitably, I would begin to slow down without the constant barrage of gnats pestering me. They would then return to me and continue in their harassment. It seemed the more I focused on them, the worse they got, which is what seems to happen when we focus on the problems in our life.

This brings me to what the Lord was teaching me. Gnats are incredibly DISTRACTING. Gnats are like the distractions we face in life. When we focus on a problem instead of Christ, we will begin to slow down, flail, and ultimately lose our focus, which can be quite costly in this thing we live call LIFE. We must NOT allow ourselves to fall into this trap. Thinking continually about a life issue will only make our head spin in circles and cause massive unproductivity and misery. We must stop pondering and focusing on problematic issues and resist the why is this happening thought pattern. The Lord does not call us to understand all that happens to us in life, but He does call us to trust in Him. Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”

The funny thing is, before I was able to put the finishing touches on this post, I went on another run and encountered more gnats! As I mentioned before, I found that if I would just run with the gnats, peacefully without flailing or swatting at them, which by the way is an extremely difficult thing to do, the gnats would land on my saturated sweaty face and I could just calmly wipe them away. This expends much less energy on my part, saving it for the run! And, so it is in life. Giving in, submitting to the way life is, tolerating it, embracing it, and keeping a focus on pushing forward with Christ is the answer and I believe, the way to go! And, so it is with our distractions in life. If we can keep our focus on the Lord, He will take care of our problems. He will wipe them away as we trust in Him to take care of us. Isaiah 26:3 tells us, “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.”

Instead of us focusing on our problems and negativity in life, we are called to a higher purpose in Christ. We must run fast and hard in life, staying focused on Christ, not slowing down for distractions or allowing ourselves to become overrun by them. We must keep our eyes on Christ, trusting Him completely in all things. If we do this, the gnats, the distractions in our life, will dissipate as the everlasting faithful love of our Father in Heaven floods our minds with His perfect peace. Keep running with the Lord and that distraction in life will soon be a thing of the past as the Lord faithfully puts it behind you. Philippians 3:12 tells us, “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

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Enthralled by His Splendor

santaynezStaring into the eyes of a wild animal is captivating. Spellbound, it seems as if I am looking deep into its very soul. For those brief sacred seconds it is as if time is standing still. Gripped by its beauty, not wanting to lose the eye lock, I barely breathe, let alone move. It is an intense privilege to encounter one of God’s creatures and stare deep into its eyes.

It was on a wooded trail with green and gold foliage and a meandering stream that trickled discreetly behind the suburbs and cookie cutter houses. An experience I will never forget. From the first step into this refuge of tall oaks, dirt trail, and knee high weeds, it was as if God had opened a window from heaven.

Gracing the sky, as I began my trek into the wooded land, was a Great Blue Heron cruising calmly and ever so elegantly overhead. As I padded along, soaking up the tranquility, I next saw a flock of wild turkeys marching through a nearby clearing. With the rustling of brush came two scampering brown squirrels, chattering their gibberish and jumping from the low hanging tree branches onto the trail just ahead. But, it was what I would find just around the upcoming crook in the trail that would charm me completely.

I was mesmerized by the very nature the Lord had shown me, as I slipped into this sanctuary of unexpected wildlife. It felt as if I had entered into a special land and was being romanced by the surrounding splendor, titillated by each step I was taking. In a dreamlike state of mind, I looked up, and with great surprise was face to face with a huge owl.

guenclose1We each froze. He sat perched on a branch. He was majestic and alluring. We had an eye lock on one another. I felt hypnotized and unable to look away. I could not look away. We stared and gazed and ogled at one another. Neither one of us dared to move. He seemed just as attracted to me. The longer I looked into his eyes, the more I wanted to stay. I felt as if I never wanted that stare to end. It was like he was looking deep into my soul. I was truly transfixed by that owl. He had my complete attention and adoration. The feeling I had in his presence was that of awe. He was stunning. And, for some strange reason, he seemed to be equally absorbed by my presence. I was so drawn to him I did not want to leave at all. It was like I wanted to stay there forever. It was a surreal experience.

The encounter I had that day left an impression on me. I felt the Lord had shared with me a piece of His lovely world that I had been unaware of and was right there the whole time, just waiting for me to find, to notice, to acknowledge, to receive. Such splendor and fascination, like a secret gift in life. This made me think of the gift of salvation we have through Christ Jesus.

What if you were enthralled, allured, and completely drawn to Christ, compelled by His love and adoration? What if you accepted Him as a gift? He would change your life. Your eyes would be opened and you would see there is another dimension to this life. There is more than meets the eye. Jesus is awestruck over you. Christ’s love is deep. He never looks away from you. He always has His eye on you. He is ever watchful. Once you experience His presence, you will never want to be without Him, nor will you have to. In Joshua 1:5 the Bible tells us that the Lord says, “As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Staring into the eyes of one of God’s creatures is riveting. The incident I had that day on the wooded path will never be forgotten, as it is etched in my mind forever. I was truly enchanted by God’s creature. But, how much more am I captivated by the Lord our God. Nothing compares to looking up into the eyes of the Lord, being enthralled by His majesty and allure, and staring into His eyes of everlasting peace.

This article, “Enthralled by His Splendor” is protected by copyright. You are free to share the link via social media, but this article may not be copy and pasted in its entirety to be republished and redistributed elsewhere without permission this includes pasting entire story to Facebook, Pinterest.com, email, etcetera.

 

Life is Beautiful

web-decker_2-trails-flowers1Running a red dirt trail in the still quiet morning hours, with rays of sunshine beginning to light the tips of the tall pines, I often wonder what is lurking beyond the reverent beauty before my eyes. As I run the path through the wilderness, I contemplate the spiritual symbolism of this path I am running on and that of the life we live.

Everything is seemingly picture perfect as I run this path, mile after continuous mile. The scenery is stunning green and gold foliage mixed with lavender flowers creeping through the tall weeds, wild daisies that seem to smile, and majestic pines that whisper in the wind.weimar-canal1 The rushing sound of the water along the trail is like a faithful friend running by my side. The crisp cool air of the early morning fills me with vigor and anticipation of a new day!

Running through this earthly paradise, I realize there are numerous dangers that I am not able to see or perceive. My limited vision won’t allow me to see all that surrounds me, as there is a canopy of camouflage that distorts the clarity of my vision. Often, I am startled by a lizard jetting beneath my feet, a squirrel scampering up a tree, or even a deer bounding through the brush. These animals may startle me, but in actuality are harmless. It is what I am not seeing that could potentially cause harm.

Scanning the horizon for a bear or lion is futile due to my inability to decipher what I am truly seeing as I pass through the forest. Eyes dart as they may, and peering into the brush, neck crooked, to see what a scuffle beneath the brush could be provides only a distraction, at best. How important it is to focus on the path straight ahead on the running trail and, yes, in our day to day living. “Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you.” Proverbs 4:25

How often our vision is obstructed by the world we live in. With a continual barrage of craziness that is dished out by the world and fed to us on a daily basis, it is no wonder it can be difficult to decipher the truth and depth of deception occurring around us. 1 Peter 5:8 says, “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” We must be aware and discerning, seeking Christ in all things and situations so we will not be deceived or overcome by the world’s godless ways. “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you.” Matthew 6:33

Lavender flowers, wild daisies, and tall pines with soft rays of sunshine provide a pleasant trail to trek, even though there are unseen dangers in the camouflaged forest. Keep your eyes straight ahead and focused on the path with Christ instead of the distractions of this world and you will see just how truly beautiful life will be.bridge

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