Tending the Garden

The leaves were heavy and droopy, and the dirt was excessively dry. In my hurrying and scurrying about that morning, I figured I would just give it a good soaking upon my quick return. Plans changed, and the hours past, and I returned to a very sullen wilted garden. As I stood in the heat of the day watering my thirsty plants, I couldn’t help but think about how we are similarly affected when we don’t take the needed time to water our own spiritual garden. 

When we start allowing commitments to steal away our time, we can hurt ourselves and those lives we touch. It is important to understand our own limitations and realize when our cup is almost empty. Spending quiet time with the Lord and getting into His Word renews our strength. And just like the plants in the garden, we will perk back up! It is like drinking a cool glass of water on a hot parched day. Isaiah 58:11 tells us,  “The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.” What a wonderful promise from the Lord!

Just as the plants wilted in the summer heat, so can we when the heat is turned up in our life, and we have not taken adequate time to drink from the living water that is found in a relationship with Jesus Christ. So next time you are feeling overcome, I encourage you to find a quiet place and spend some time with the Lord. John 4:14 tells us, “But whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.” And to that I say, AMEN!

I have attached a song for you. Please click on the link below and let the music minister to your soul!

O Come to the Alter

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Roadblocks

Smile! You’re on camera! The sign was posted on a chain link fence that had been put across the running trail. I smiled, waved both arms up high in the air, and then did an about-face. I was disappointed about the roadblock, detour, and unexpected route change, especially since it was a place I had been routinely running for years. I couldn’t help but think about how this sort of thing frequently happens to us in our life journey.

When we have a routine, it is what we know and what we do. It is comfortable. So when all of a sudden we are faced with an unexpected change, it can be challenging for us to switch gears and go with it. However, that is exactly what the Lord wants us to do. 

One of my favorite verses, found in Proverbs 3:5-6, tells us to “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.” It takes faith and trust in the Lord to be at peace when we are being stretched in new and unknown directions. But if we can just take that step of faith, believing that the Lord has our best in mind, we will find the unfamiliar route, although uncomfortable, full of pleasant surprises and beauty. 

We must be able to stay focused on the Lord if we want to experience the fullness of joy He has for us. If we are busy complaining about how hard things are, chances are, our attitude is going to reflect just that. Jesus doesn’t want us to feel overwhelmed or discouraged. In fact, He wants us to feel excited and follow His lead down the new path He has for us. Trusting in Him, step-by-step, makes it much easier when we encounter the potholes, bumps, or grueling hills of life.

If you are able to take your focus off the detour and the rough road, you will find the Lord places much beauty along the way. And when we start seeing those things, and having a thankful heart, and praising the Lord for all the good in our life, something beautiful begins to blossom. It is a joy that comes only from being content right where the Lord has you, embracing what He is doing in your life. 

I ended up running back on a rough rocky road instead of the smooth dirt trail I was used to running. There were hills, and I was hot and tired. However, as I set out, I discovered I was under an umbrella of towering pine trees, which provided cool shade. The rolling hills were actually refreshing, as I was able to pick up my pace on the downward side. It was quite beautiful with the carpet of pine needles and scattered pine cones that covered the uneven rocky terrain. There were purple sweet peas and wild yellow daisies in the greenery along the banks of the canal. There was a refreshing breeze, and the birds were singing their praises! 

Had I continued with a disgruntled attitude, I would have missed out on the joy. I was glad the Lord had rerouted me. It was a challenge I needed, and I enjoyed the new adventure. The Lord always knows just what we need. It is up to us to rise to the occasion and embrace that roadblock, detour, or unexpected route. Take that step of faith. Psalm 119:105 tells us, “Thy Word is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path.” You won’t be disappointed!

The Only One

We all have a go-to in life. That something we do when we are upset, or feel bad in some way. For some it may be food, alcohol, smoking, drugs, or other not-so-healthy choices people turn to when trying to escape their own pain and confusion. Some of these activities offer temporary relief. However, the feeling or problem is never really released or dealt with when one seeks to be comforted or numbed by such practices as these.  

I routinely reach for chocolate as a quick mood elevator. Chocolate fixes everything, I always joke! I also love a good run. Running clears my head and releases endorphins into my brain that actually create a feeling of euphoria. These are both also temporary in the way they change my mood, or distract me. Although these both help me and make me feel better, when I am truly troubled there is only one place for me to turn to that offers me complete relief. 

Psalm 46:1 tells us, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” He is the ONLY ONE who truly understands each of us. There may be people close to you that get you, but the Lord, He sees your heart, understands your intentions, and knows just what makes you tick. And when we bring our troubles to Him, our pain to Him, our worries to Him, He is the ONLY ONE who can truly calm our spirit completely. I thank the Lord for all He has done in my life. He is the One who has seen me through hard times. 

Even if our circumstances do not change, just going to the Lord with the issue or problem will, in fact, change things up! When we bring our brokenness to Him, He makes things happen inside our hearts. When we allow the Lord to minister to us where we hide and hold our pain, and have that connection to Christ, He provides amazing strength and peace of mind. Going to the Lord surpasses all other habits or resources. 

If you want to truly be set free of your pain, turn to the Lord. All you need to do is ask for His help and get into His Word. A whole new world and life awaits you when you allow the Lord into your life and give him your failures, pain, or whatever issue you are struggling with. As it says in John 8:32, “ Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

Wake up Call

As I peeked down the hall stairwell, I saw it too. It was inside our home. And, it was alive and slithering! Surrounded by paved streets, fenced yards, and plenty of neighbors, I had felt a sense of relief. We live in town now… I don’t need to worry about running into snakes anymore. 

I can’t help but realize my own complacency and false sense of security just because things seemed fine. When we lived out in the country, surrounded by wildlife, I was vigilant about praying. I was concerned about the kids running into snakes, especially rattle snakes. I prayed, according to the promises of Psalm 91. I prayed a hedge of protection around our home and the entire property, that the snakes would not be allowed to enter onto our property, that it would be a safe place for us to live, and that we would NEVER have a run in with a snake. When people would show concern or warn me of the possible dangers, I would tell them, they are not allowed here. Period. No surprise, the Lord was Faithful. We NEVER saw one in all the years we lived in rural wooded properties.   

Seeing this snake inside my home has been a good wake up call for me. I have noticed in my own life, that I need to be vigilant in seeking out time with the Lord, especially when things are going well. Praising Him and having a thankful heart is so important! Spending time with the Lord intentionally, without presenting a need or agenda on our part, is just as essential for our growth in Him during the more peaceful seasons of our life. The Lord enjoys our setting aside special time just for Him. He wants us to be purposeful in seeking Him out. Matthew 6:33 says, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” 

On the other hand, when life presents challenges, pressing into the Lord is magnified in our lives as we seek strength and peace of mind. Being in the Word, looking for that nugget of truth to hang onto, knowing in our hearts that the Lord is with us, and that we are going to get through such tough times is imperative. We might fast and pray, and really search out extra time with the Lord. Our prayer life, as a result, is deepened, along with our relationship in the Lord. Beautiful fruit can come from a life of struggles and tumultuous times. Isaiah 43:19 tells us, “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”

That snake is now outside of our home. But, the memory is imprinted on my mind. I will always remember the shock of seeing it in my hallway. I thank the Lord for His visual reminders that quicken my spirit into realizing just how easy it is to become complacent when things appear to be fine. Pressing into the Lord, especially during the more peaceful seasons in our life, is just as important for our growth and relationship with the Lord. He deserves our praise, adoration, and most importantly, our attention.

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The Truth Is

The Truth is…

We are in the hands of The One True Almighty God. He is the Creator of ALL. And, HE has given us this day…

To live.

To love.

To laugh.

To know Him.

To praise Him.

To talk with Him.

To walk with Him.

To tell others about Him.

Let’s do our part in the place that He has us. Let’s be about the business of the Lord. Let’s focus on Him. Let’s press into Him. He is our Strength. He is our Hope. He has things for us to do. He has given us a life to live.

We each have our purpose. He is in control of what goes on in the world. He is our Refuge. He keeps us safe. We are not to worry. Instead, we are to press forward with Him in our day, and do the things He sets before us. He will not allow us to be overcome. He is our Shield. He is our Buckler. He is The One we trust. He will never leave us. He will never forsake us. He gives us peace that surpasses all understanding. We trust in Him.  “Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say rejoice!” Philippians 4:4

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Scripture References:

Colossians 1:16 “For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.”

Psalm 118:24 “This is the day the Lord has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it.”

Luke 2:49  And He said to them, “Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?”

Matthew 6:33 “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”

Exodus 15:2 The Lord is my strength and my song; he has given me victory. This is my God, and I will praise him— my father’s God, and I will exalt him!

Psalm 33:20-22 “We put our hope in the LORD. He is our help and our shield. In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. Let your unfailing love surround us, Lord, for our hope is in you alone.”

Exodus 9:16 “But I have raised you up for this very purpose, that I might show you my power and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth”.

Luke 12:22-26 “Do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?”

Philippians 3:14 “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

1 John 4:4 You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.

Psalm 18:2 “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.”

Deuteronomy 31:16 “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake.”

Philippians 4:7 “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

The Success Formula

It was a dark grey day, the first rain storm after a hot parched summer. As I sipped my warm cup of coffee, curled up under a blanket on my comfy sofa, I didn’t feel like going on that planned run on that seemingly dreary dismal day. I just felt off my game. The neighborhood was unusually quiet as the gentle rain turned into a pelting downpour, and the thought of running down the canyon trails alone, in the wet slippery mud, was a sharp contrast to that of my snuggly spot on the sofa. Bottom line, I just didn’t feel like going. I knew, at the time, I was struggling with my flesh. I knew that not doing what I was supposed to do based on my feelings was, in fact, a poor choice.

Yet, I did it anyways. I went with my feelings, and I skipped that rainy day run.  The desires of our flesh are strong and when our mind decides to partner with our feelings and it comes up with a great justification, we are in real trouble! Basing decisions off our feelings and emotion can have some pretty negative consequences. I admire those individuals who are able to hold steady day after day, doing the right things, steeped in obedience to the Lord.  The result being, a harvest of what is good and right. Bottom line, they make good choices. They seem to have the formula for success, striving in excellence, in spite of difficult or challenging life situations. They are steadfast, even when they don’t feel like it.

How do we overcome our emotions and the temptation of our own self? BUT GOD. Matthew 26:41 tells us, “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Often, we are called to do remedial tasks on a day to day basis and get no affirmation or thanks from those we are serving. When our flesh gets lazy, if we can keep our obedience and reverence to the Lord, it can make unrewarding tasks much more doable. Colossians 3:23 states, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.” There is comfort and strength in that verse. When doing a task that you are less than excited about, doing it unto the Lord with a good attitude can help you get through it. Just knowing we are seeking to please God, and not man, helps tremendously.

A common struggle is that of wanting affirmation and approval from our fellow man. People go to great lengths to please those around them. Often times, however, a person’s kind deeds or actions are taken for granted, or not noticed. When this happens, a sort of frustration and emptiness can set in, which can sway our attitude out of alignment with what the Lord has for us to do. What do we do with such feelings and thought patterns? It helps to put things in proper perspective. Who are we truly supposed to be pleasing? Not ourselves, or others, but… THE LORD! Romans 8:1 says, “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, “who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.” When we seek to please the Lord first, above others, things have a way of turning out for the better. The Lord knows our heart and our desires. Matthew 6:33 reminds us, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” When we do what we are called to do, in obedience and reverence to God, there is a satisfaction in that. It’s like we skip right over the pain and disappointment that can come from trying to please man, and the Lord then showers us with His own affirmation and blessing. He provides great peace and contentment in such situations. Romans 8:6 tells us, “…to be spiritually minded is life and peace.”

What about self-care? We each have certain things we should be doing to take good care of ourselves. Diet, exercise, down-time, sleep, balance and boundaries in our schedule, and much needed time with the Lord all need to be worked into our busy days. These are all incorporated into whatever daily tasks are required of you! It is easy to grab a donut, skip that run, stay up too late, over schedule, and rush through our quiet time with the Lord. But if we don’t make the effort of disciplining our own self-care, it will not only hurt us, but those whose lives we touch. In order to function properly, and well, obedience is necessary. If we can keep the Lord as our priority, seeking to please Him in all areas of our life, He will give us the direction and plan that best suites what we need to be doing to function properly. We are each different, so seeking direction from the Lord for His best for you is the secret formula for success! Being yoked with the Lord, daily, will give us the strength we need to do those things we should be doing, for ourselves, even when we don’t feel like it. And when you do those hard things throughout your day, and you are victorious, give praise to the Lord, for He is your Strength!

Look at this promise from the Lord found in Deuteronomy 30:9-10 “Then the LORD your God will prosper you abundantly in all the work of your hand, in the offspring of your body and in the offspring of your cattle and in the produce of your ground, for the LORD will again rejoice over you for good, just as He rejoiced over your fathers; if you obey the LORD your God to keep His commandments and His statutes which are written in this book of the law, if you turn to the LORD your God with all your heart and soul.” Wow! What a promise! This verse is so encouraging. Think about it… the Lord rejoices over us!

Snuggling on the sofa on a grey raining morning felt nice at the time, but a short time later I was reminded why I needed that run. Without that run, that release, I was too tightly wound. When my cup was tipped, things spilled out that shouldn’t have. Had I been diffused, I would not have had such an emotional reaction. It is important that we understand God’s best for us. May we not give into our feelings and our flesh. May we have the strength to do the right thing. Seek the Lord’s will for your best and ask for His strength to be obedient to Him. Whatever your struggle may be, you can and will overcome it through obedience in Christ. “… for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.”  (1 John 4:4) You and God got this!

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God’s Unseen Best

The sun had set and dusk had given way to darkness. Waiting for the light to turn green, I glanced over at the SUV in the lane next to me. The gal driving was engaged in conversation, and I thought it strange that her SUV was slowly rolling backward. And so, I kept my gaze, until my neck could turn my head no more. All the while, I was thinking to myself… “why in the world is that lady backing up?” As I turned back to check the status of my stoplight, I was shocked. It was my car that had been quietly rolling forward. This is a simple silly illustration but, I have found in this life, things are not always as they seem at face value. Often times what we think we see or understand isn’t really what’s happening at all!

There is a whole heavenly realm that we can’t see, or hardly fathom. Yet, it is there… it is true. Revelation Chapter 4 tells us about the Lord and His throne in heaven. What a magnificent picture! As believers, we have the promise that one day we will be there! However, the Lord is also with us here and now. In the book of Zephaniah 3:17 we are reminded, “The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.”  Even though we cannot see into the spiritual realm, it is real. There is so much more going on around us than we can see. Proverbs 16:9 tells us, “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.”

Have you ever been running late, only to become even later because some crazy fluke thing happens to you, which delays you all the more? When such things happen, instead of getting frustrated (ya, rightyou are thinking), thank the Lord, for this could very well be in your best interest. Perhaps that delay caused you to miss being in a harmful situation. “The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them. ” (Psalm 34:7) If you are a believer and follower of Christ, the Bible tells us in Psalm 23:6, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.” Yes, we have the Lord’s favor wherever we may go!

What about when we need to make a big decision. The situation presents itself and we are perhaps, befuddled. We try to figure things out logically, and think “…this or that would be perfect,” pray about it, and commit it to the Lord. But then, something completely different presents itself. We pray about it and have a conviction from the Holy Spirit, and just know it is from the Lord. It might be totally different from what we were originally thinking would be great. BUT GOD. His ways are ALWAYS THE BEST. He thinks of things we never would. He plans for everything in our lives. We are limited in what we can see and plan in our finite existence, but God is infinite in all wisdom, knowledge, understanding, and power. He sees our entire picture. And, when we step out in faith, trusting in Him, He will surprise us with EVEN MORE than we ever expected. Because… HIS WAYS ARE PERFECT. He knows our hearts desire even better than ourselves! So, trust Him… He is always working on our behalf, even when we can’t see His plans, sometimes, until they actually come into fruition.

How about a day you have scripted out on your calendar. You have your plans, your to-do list, your agenda. But then, everything changes in that given day and nothing you had wanted to do gets done. Don’t fret. (I know… I’m doing it again!) It is best to roll with it. God has other plans for you. He is doing something in your life and if you can rest in Him, you will see, He has your best in mind. Some of my most peaceful down times are when the Lord decides to change things up for me, canceling commitments and deadlines. Someone once said, “write your plans in pencil, but give God the eraser!” Walking closely with the Lord enables us to be more fluid in the way we function, which frees us up, making us more readily available to serve the Lord in our daily walk with Him. I am thankful we don’t have to navigate through this life all on our own! Matthew 28:20 tells us, “…And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Is there more to this life than what we can see? You betcha! Remember, the Lord is always working on our behalf, for our best. Trust in Him. Rest in Him. Believe and follow Him. And, “look not to the things that are seen, but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:18) So, don’t stress. Don’t fret. Be content right where the Lord has you in this day and moment in time. Breathe. Embrace all that He is doing in your life. And if your day is a little off and you are thrown for a loop… praise the Lord.  God may be doing something unseen that is for your best good!

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The Lord is our Hope in Times of Despair

“As a drain that goes spiraling down into imminent darkness, so is the feeling of despair.” The worship leader’s words hung in the air. With a twinkle in her eye and a radiant smile, she continued on, sharing how her faith in the Lord and her focus on Jesus kept her from going down the tunnel of hopelessness, even though she has felt herself standing at its very edge. It is true. The Lord can save us from such anguish. However, for some, life happens and we do find ourselves in that dark and seemingly lonely place of pain and despair, spiraling down into that tunnel of darkness. We are all susceptible to our emotions, stress, and feeling overcome by life situations. BUT GOD. If we turn to the Lord, He will be our hope and strength. He will see us through the tough time. Our relationship with the Living God will grow in intimacy as we seek, rest, and trust in Him.

When we are in a place of brokenness before the Lord, His strength and provision become very real. When life feels like you are in a snow globe and you’ve been turned upside down and you are shaken and dizzy, not knowing which way is up, remember the words of Jesus. In 2 Corinthians 12:9-11 Jesus tells us, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

Being in a broken place before the Lord is an opportunity for us to truly surrender ourselves to Him. Sometimes life circumstances can be so overwhelming, we don’t know what to think, which way to turn, or how we are going to go on. It is then that we must truly trust the Lord in all situations, for His very best. For His ways are not our ways. Proverbs 3:5-6 tells us, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”

Have you ever been stuck in a loop of hardship that just doesn’t seem to let up? Sometimes it seems like trials of the same sort happen repeatedly. However, even in the worst of lives storms, the Lord has our very best in mind. Try asking the Lord, what are you trying to teach me? This puts us in a position of being proactive in our faith and learning what the Lord has for us. Embrace what the Lord is doing in faith, resting and trusting in Him. Romans 8:28 tells us, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”

Paul, after having an encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus was blinded for three days, but later radically healed by the Lord. He received his sight and was filled with the Holy Spirit. In Acts 9:15-16 the Lord, speaking to Ananias about Paul says: “… he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel. For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake. Paul went on to be a most faithful apostle of Christ, but suffered many hardships in life. He learned to be content wherever Christ had him, even in beatings, shipwrecks, weariness, sleeplessness, nakedness, hunger, and thirst. (2 Corinthians 11:22-28) In Philippians 4:12-13 Paul tells us, “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 things through him who gives me strength.”

As a Christ follower, He is with you, always. “And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.”(Romans 8:27) He will never allow anything to come into your life that He will not equip you to handle, through His strength. The God of the Universe puts limits on what we experience, and if He allows something harsh and painful, He has a very good reason and plan. Jeremiah 29:11 promises us, “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 hope and a future.” The pain and heartache we experience here on this earth are limited to just that. We are passing through this life, as sojourners for Christ. We have so much more to come! This life is certainly not the end all. Will we understand the why, on this side of heaven? Probably not. But, we must trust in the Living God who loves us more than any one person ever will. “The Rock! His work is perfect, for all His ways are just; a God of faithfulness and without injustice. Righteous and upright is He.” (Deuteronomy 32:4.)

During hard times, focus in on the Lord and remain steadfast in Him. “… acknowledge the God of your father, and serve him with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind, for the Lord searches every heart and understands every desire and every thought. If you seek him, he will be found by you;” (1 Chronicles 28:9). It is important to continue in obedience to the Lord even through confusion, sorrow, and anguish. Know that the Lord holds you in the palm of His hand. Be obedient to Him in the small things of daily life. He will see you through. Even in times of sadness or loss, rejoice in the Lord always. (Philippians 4:4) We are to praise the Lord and give Him reverence no matter what our present life situation, not just out of our gratefulness unto Him, or because we are having an emotional experience, but due to the fact that He is Almighty God, Creator of all things! Jesus tells us in Luke 19:40, “…if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”

If you feel you are struggling, be encouraged. The Light of Christ will lead you up and out of the darkest of places in life. Did you know that if you light a match in the dark, the fire has no shadow? So it is, with Christ! The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:5) If you feel you have spiraled down that drain, look up and grab hold of the Lord’s hand! He will pull you out. Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12) The Lord is SO Faithful. Keep your eyes fixed on Christ. And when you reach the top of that drain with the Lord, you will have an incredible testimony of what He alone took you through, or delivered you from. Then you, like the worship leader, will have a twinkle in your eye and a radiant smile ear to ear, as you praise the Lord for all He has done for you! As you traverse the path you are on with the Lord, remember the promise found in Psalm 119:105, “Your word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.”

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Divine Appointment

While at a public pool, a gal pulled up a chair and joined me poolside. She immediately reminded me of the Cyndi Lauper I remembered from the 1980’s, with her bright skirt, cutoff fishnet stockings, and hair of different colors piled atop her head. Her bright blue eyes danced wildly as she we watched our kids in the water and began to speak. Within minutes, she had spilled out the details of her life to me. She shared her broken marital status, a recent move to the area, her negative opinion of her religious in-laws, and how she refused to teach her children that being gay was wrong. Here was a gal who was being open and visibly transparent about the pain and hardship she was experiencing, along with her belief system.

In the Christian church, the catch phrase Live out Loud or Let Your Light Shine are often used to encourage us to share our faith with those around us, whether it be in word or deed. Billy Graham was also quoted as saying, “The world judges a Christian by his life, not by his belief.” Being socially aware and available, play a huge role in being used by the Lord to share your faith.

The Apostle Paul, in his letter to the Philippians, exhorts… “And this is my prayer; that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ- to the glory and praise of God.” (Phil. 1:9-11.) As we draw from the Lord’s love, so will it flow from us out unto others.

Being socially aware, simply put, is first of all being aware of your environment and those that surround you. And then, being able to interpret and react in an empathetic manner to the emotions and feelings of those around you. It means being less self-absorbed, and being open to being used by the Lord wherever you may go.

John 14:16 promises us, “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever.” Staying in communion with the Lord is key to being able to hear the prompting of the Holy Spirit. When you are in tune with the Lord and actively seeking ways to point people to Jesus, you will be sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit. Joshua 1:9 tells you to be strong and courageous! The Holy Spirit will embolden the believer to speak out words of truth, hope, and encouragement. When you put your trust in the Lord, He will provide the words for you to speak out. “Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving… that God would open to you a door for the word, so speak the mystery of Christ…” Colossians 4:2-3

Speaking about the Lord our Savior requires faith! Matthew 21:22 reassures us, “And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.” If you ask the Lord to use you to share the good news of salvation and hope in Christ, and are willing to step out in faith, He will provide the message of truth for you to speak out. The Lord will provide the words of hope that person needs to hear at that exact moment in time when you surrender yourself to the leading and guiding of the Holy Spirit who works in and through you. He will never fail you. We must walk closely with the Lord and be willing to act upon what He tells us to do or say.

Colossians 4: 5-6 tells us to “Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time. Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.” When a person is hurting, often, they are open to receive a word of encouragement or even an offer of prayer, in spite of their own beliefs. Pain can open the door to the heart and allow one to receive hope from the Lord. Ephesians 5:15-16 says, “See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.”

If you would like more opportunities to share your faith with others, be socially aware of the opportunities the Lord presents before you in your day-to-day walk with Him. 2 Corinthians 5:7 reminds us, “For we walk by faith, not by sight.” Each interaction you have with a stranger could be a window of time for you to share the word of truth and hope into a soul that desperately needs the Light and Life of Christ. Be prayerful in your day, communing with the Lord. Be watchful for situations to share the good news of Christ. Step out in faith as the Lord leads you. Surrender and trust in Him, and He will use you at a precise time. Colossians 4:17 exhorts us to, “Take heed to the ministry which you have received in the Lord, that you may fulfill it.

”In closing, I leave you with ONE… MORE… THOUGHT… the Bible reminds us, “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.” Hebrews 13:2 Imagine that!

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The Most Needed Fellowship of All

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The Most Needed Fellowship of All

by Annette

I had arrived a bit early, sinking deep into the soft leather chair. It was a beautiful spring-like day, and I had been looking forward to spending time with a friend. I patiently awaited her arrival at the local coffee shop. While sipping my chocolate sprinkled hot latte, I began to think…hmmm, where is she? It’s getting late.  Moments later, reality set in.  She wasn’t coming. As I pulled away from the coffee shop, disappointed, I couldn’t help but think about the Lord and how often He anticipates our sweet fellowship, only to be let down by us when we don’t show up.

How easy it is to be distracted in this life and rob ourselves of the most needed fellowship of all… that of our Savior. Most of us have good intentions but, often times, the distractions of life just get the best of us. Being rushed or busy can result in us pushing our time with the Lord off to the side.

             “… you left your first love.” Revelation 2:4

It can be difficult when something or someone becomes front and center in our life, but choosing to get back on track with the Lord is well worth it. It is important that we do not allow the demands and distractions of others to pull us away from our fellowship, study, and prayer time with the Lord.  2 Timothy 2:15 tells us to “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.”

What about making decisions we are faced with throughout our day? When situations and stresses occur, we are to go to prayer prior to making important choices. Matthew 6:6 tells us, “But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. “This can seem unnatural at first, but thinking we have something figured out and making a snap decision often steeped in emotion can result in a negative consequence down the road and can affect our walk and relationship with the Lord, and even others. Life ebbs and flows much smoother when time is spent at the onset of a situation to consult with the Lord. Taking the time to commune with the Lord will also help us to have the peace we need to push forward when we are dealing with an issue in life. Often times the Lord will lead us to a Scripture to meditate upon as a promise from Him. Having the Lord’s wisdom and discernment brings us the peace of mind we need in order to cope with the challenges of life.  Philippians 4:7 “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

The Bible tells us that we are to put Christ first in all things. Matthew 6:33 tells us “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” That means, setting aside time for Him FIRST when we start the day. That means, going to Him FIRST before making an important decision in life or seeking advice from another. That means putting Him FIRST and not giving in to the distractions of others or things during our time with Him. 1 Kings 2:3-4 says, “…and observe what the Lord your God requires: Walk in obedience to him, and keep his decrees and commands, his laws and regulations, as written in the Law of Moses. Do this so that you may prosper in all you do and wherever you go and that the Lord may keep his promise to me…”.

Matthew 11:30 tells us, “For my yoke is easy and My burden is light.” I have found this to be so true! When we are living out our life by walking closely with the Lord, communing with Him throughout the day, He truly does lighten our load. And, along with that, He gives us His perfect peace which surpasses all understanding. Philippians 4:7.

Life isn’t easy, and friends let us down, but the Lord’s love for us never fails. God said in Hebrews 13:5, “ I will never leave you nor forsake you.” I am so grateful the Lord is with us, always. As children of God, we have this assurance.

However… if you have never asked the Lord into your life, Revelation 3:20 says, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door I will come into him and eat with him and he with me.” And from that moment on, life as you’ve known it will never be the same. You will have eternal security in the Lord. You will NEVER be alone, and will have the assurance of eternal life with our Lord and Savior. Can I get an amen to that?!

 

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Does God Care About the Details

The sealed box was difficult to open, so I cut into it with a sharp knife. Once opened, I emptied out the 500 pieces and began to separate out what would form the boarder. As I assembled the frame of the puzzle, I began talking to the Lord. I shared my thoughts on the puzzle and thanked Him for this piece and that piece. I was having a good time fellowshipping with the Lord, and the puzzle was coming together smoothly. But then, I had a separate thought. Why am I talking to the Lord about puzzle pieces?

Excusing my puzzle chit-chat as an unnecessary prayer, I quieted my mind and continued on with the puzzle. However, as I pieced together the remaining frame pieces I realized something very odd. There were two pieces that seemed to be missing. Mind you, this was a brand new puzzle, straight out of the unopened box.

For the next half-hour, my pursuit of puzzle pieces shifted to an all-out search and rescue mission. I sorted through all the pieces on the table numerous times. I doubled checked what I had already connected, making sure something wasn’t misconnected. I checked the chairs beneath the table. I crawled around on the floor scanning the carpet surface and spreading my hands out, hoping to find those pieces. I even extended my hunt to other rooms throughout the house just in case the pieces had mysteriously stuck to my cat’s foot and been carried off to a strange new location. There were no pieces to be found.

For me, the boarder of the puzzle is like putting in the foundation of a house. It must be completed first, as it is the framework for the adjoining pieces. It was hard for me to move on without it, and so I continued on in a state of frustration and wonder… how could there be missing puzzle pieces when it was an unopened box? But, an even bigger question I was grappling with was, does God care about even the tiniest of details in life?

If we feel there are certain things in our life that are not worthy of mention to the Lord, we will only cheat ourselves in the end. Deuteronomy 10:12 tells us, “…what does the Lord your God require from you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways and love Him, and to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul.” This would be impossible if we purposely hold back sharing certain areas of our lives with the Lord. Besides that, the Bible tells us that there is no hidden thing from the Lord. He already knows our innermost secrets! Psalm 139:3-6 tells us, “You know where I go and where I lie down. You know everything I do. Lord, even before I say a word, you already know it. You are all around me- in front and in back- and have put your hand on me.”

Our life is a beautiful picture, like that of a puzzle. We can try to figure out how the pieces of our life fit together on our own, or we can seek the Lord’s wisdom for our life, through a relationship with Him. Proverbs 3:13 tells us, “Blessed is the one who finds wisdom, and the one who gets understanding.” Either way, the puzzle will be built. However, if we walk closely with Jesus He will make sure all the pieces in our life come together as they should. “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” Proverbs 16:9

As the boarder was the framework for the puzzle, so Christ is to be the foundation of our life. Without this foundation and relationship with the Lord, our life will be lacking and incomplete. Just as the puzzle had a hole, so too will our lives. God designed people to commune with Him. If we are not walking and talking with our Savior on a daily basis, we will really be missing out.

God used this visual illustration of the missing puzzle pieces to show me just how important it is for us to be continually communing with the Lord, no matter what we are doing. God does care about even the smallest details of our life. In Matthew 10:30 we are told, “And the very hairs on your head are all numbered.” What amazing detail! Nothing is too minuscule to share with the Lord. The more open our communication with Jesus throughout the day, the better off we are. Micah 6:8 tells us we are to, “… walk humbly in the company of your God.” He wants us walking and talking with Him throughout our days. He desires that sweet continual fellowship with us in everything we do.

The puzzle, once completed, was of a stunning scene. It had a sparkling lake dotted with boats of varying primary colors, a pier with brightly painted houses, and a backdrop of majestic purple snow topped mountains. It was more than inviting, with the exception of the top left corner. In the place of the frame, was my old hardwood table. Those puzzle pieces…They never did turn up!

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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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A Sweet Aroma

300c9a5444b41c5b05ca3bf18ef12516[1]The scent of pine needles on a warm summer day brings me back to days of trout fishing with my family when I was a child. The smell of creosol reminds me of the newly built fence that housed my horse as a kid. The smell of a skunk triggers a memory of the time I drove through its spray as a teenager, in my 1965 VW Bug, only to arrive home and be ushered quickly out the back door and told to drop those stinky clothes! All these memories are attached to a certain scent. It is interesting how our sense of smell can trigger memories from our past and even influence our outlook on life. We each have a fragrance that permeates our lives.

One day, I came in from a run. Although I was very hot and sweaty, I ended up dinking around in the kitchen before showering. I was doing some dishes when I picked up a strong stench of what I thought was rotting meat. I figured it was coming from our trash can. Moments later, my son walked into the kitchen and asked, “What stinks mom?” I told him I couldn’t pinpoint it, but acknowledged it sure smelled terrible. As I drew closer to my son he shrieked back exclaiming, “It is you!” Mortified, I realized, he was right! I have since learned that eating large quantities of asparagus can result in stinky sweat smelling like sulfur.

Just as the food we eat oozes out from us, so also will other influences, experiences, and memories we hold in our heart. As a result, we can emit anger or joy, selfishness or sacrifice, cruelty or kindness, hate or love, judgment or compassion. What happens to us during our lifetime will certainly effect who we are. This is why it is so important we fill our minds with the truth of God’s word.

By filling our minds with the inerrant word of God, our hardened hearts can be softened and our minds can be healed. Hurt, pain, and sorrow can be released. The root of anger, hate, and bitterness can be plucked out and replaced by the seed of forgiveness and new life. “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17

For those who are dealing with some stinky situations in life, be encouraged. Isaiah 43:19 says, “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” With Christ, we can work through the stench that comes from hurt, pain, disappointment, anger, hate, and bitterness. As we continue on our path of healing with the Lord, the odors that once permeated our life will begin to lessen. 2 Corinthians 2:15 tells us, “For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.” As we draw closer to Christ, we will begin to pick up the sweet fragrance that comes from walking closely with Him.

Ephesians 5:2 tells us we are to, “Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.” Even though we may get hurt in this life, we have the hope of Christ to release us from negative thoughts and behavior, restore our relationship with the Lord and others, heal our minds and bodies, and make new again our very lives! Jeremiah 29:11 is a promise of that. It says, “For I know the plans for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” We are to fill our minds with the truth found in God’s word. When we are doing this, we will see changes in the very fragrance or our lives. “And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32

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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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Clothe Yourself in Kindness

20150517_SundayScripture_Colossians-3-Graphic-Image-SMALLThe Lord has been speaking to my heart about kindness. He has gotten my attention by showering me with more kindness than usual lately. It is amazing how an act of kindness can change a person’s day or even complete outlook on life. There is power in the act of being kind to one another and even more so is the power of a prayer.

Simply said, kindness is the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate. It is far reaching and can be accomplished in countless ways. I enjoy trail running and am fortunate to live in an area where I can easily access mountain trails.  It is the norm for me to be running along in my zone when all of a sudden I am face to face with a guy whizzing towards me on his mountain bike. I usually jump off the trail out of harm’s way or stop running so he can fly by me on the single track trail.  However, the other day, a guy who was approaching me on his mountain bike completely stopped. He got off his bike and moved to the side of the trail, then waited for me to run on by.  As I did, he was smiling and cheerfully greeted me and wished me a good day! This never happens so when it did, I felt like I was being treated as a lady of honor and with great respect. It was almost as if he took a knee for me! This random act of kindness was very courteous and polite and left me feeling flattered and even a bit smitten!

The act of pay it forward is always such a blessing. This happened to me twice this month. The first was when I was in a drive-thru at Star Bucks and a complete stranger in the car ahead of me bought my hot latte and morning inspiration. What a surprise that was! I left that drive-thru in shock and a bit beside myself that a random person would reach out to me when I did nothing at all to deserve it. I was so caught off guard and touched by the kindness of this stranger. It made my day and I felt like screaming it out to everyone on social media! Just a couple weeks later my neighbor was in the Taco Bell drive-thru and guess what she did? Yep, you guessed it. She bought the tacos and burritos the kids and I had ordered. I was blown away! I was filled with gratitude, which caused me to want to bless her back. So, the next day she got brownies and a bouquet of flowers from me to brighten her day. When someone is kind, it is contagious and can inspire us to be tender-hearted in return. It’s a win win. The giver is blessed by the act of giving, as it is a very rewarding experience. The one receiving the kind act is pleasantly surprised and ever so grateful.

When my dad passed away unexpectedly, my Aunt reached out. She provided nutritious homemade food that could be ready to eat with minimal effort on my part. She had my favorite comfort soup, fresh bread, prepackaged salad, a roasted chicken, and delicious pumpkin bread made from scratch. As if that wasn’t enough, she included a fresh bouquet of flowers to brighten our home. Having her reach out to me encouraged my grieving heart. She made a hard time more bearable. I was able to easily sustain myself and my kids over that next week. Her act of kindness was far reaching into both my heart and home.

It was during this same period of time while I was grieving the death of my dad that I became completely overwhelmed and depressed. It was one of those complete meltdown moments in life. I had gone to my quiet place in my home where I could be alone with the Lord to pray. I had my Bible, my journal, and had also been texting a friend who was concerned about me. The tears began to flow and quickly turned into loud sobbing. It was not only the pain of the loss of my dad I was feeling, but other hurt that I had been carrying, which all came tumbling out. It was in the middle of all this pain and crying that my phone rang. It was a long-time Christian friend of mine who rarely called. But, call me she did and it was all I could do to say “hello”. This friend went right to prayer, speaking loudly and with authority, as I cried into the phone. She continued in prayer for me until the sobs quieted and completely stopped. We then discussed why my heart was so troubled. As she listened, the heaviness of my heart lifted. By the end of our conversation she had me laughing and planning a girl’s getaway together with her! Her phone call and intercessory prayer changed me, for good. Her timely call and prayer lifted my spirit and broke the bondage of past hurt that was burdening my soul. I am so thankful for my friend who cared enough to reach out to me during a painful time in my life. Because of her prayer covering, listening ear, and encouraging words I was able to pull out of what overwhelmed my heart and soul. I thank the Lord for my praying friend!

These different acts of kindness each had a tremendous effect upon me, each one in a completely different way. The result of each was, of course, all good! They were all uniquely different and with equally diverse outcomes. I thank the Lord for the people who touch my life with their love, kindness, respect, compassion, and most importantly, the love of Christ. When people are thoughtful and caring it brightens our day, encourages our heart, and can lift our spirit! It can also inspire us to reach out to others. And when kindness is paired with prayer… “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” Psalm 147:3 Thank you Lord… Amen!

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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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Breathless!

Struts_00[1] (2)The door slammed shut, grabbing my attention. There, across the room, stood my son, a young man of 14 years old. He was distraught and trying to speak, but all he could say was, “the…” and then gibberish, followed by incomplete thoughts that made no sense. I abruptly ended my phone call and ran to my son. He was shaking and out of breath. He finally pulled together his first sentence. “The hood of the Toyota slammed shut on my hands and I was stuck!” I immediately sat him down, then dashed to get Advil and an ice pack. He quickly swallowed the pain relief pills and we soothed his hand with the ice. I then began to pray, “Dear Lord Jesus please heal my son’s hand…”

He was still shaking as I held his hand to examine the extent of his injury. As I did this, he recounted the incident. He had been under the hood, replacing a valve cover gasket when the hood shock broke. The hood slammed down on him, pinning his left hand. He was trapped and in tremendous pain. He had called out to me, but with the house being tightly sealed, I heard nothing. Thankfully, he had been holding a flashlight with an extended handle on it. It lessened the blow to his hand, and, as a result, was completely cut in half by the weight of the hood. His cell phone was within eyeshot, but he could not reach for it. In his desperation, pain, and panic, his adrenaline kicked in and he was able to partially lift the hood off his hand and slip it out, leaving a large warp in the hood that is now our visual reminder of the incident.

I thanked the Lord my son still had his fingers. But, I thought we would probably be taking a trip to the doctor followed by x-rays in the morning. I dreaded the thought of a possible break or even worse, nerve damage. His hand was pretty banged up and one finger was especially cut and traumatized, plus, he was having trouble moving his fingers. As the evening progressed I watched for swelling and discoloration and asked about his pain level. It was not swelling as I had anticipated and he kept telling me, “Mom, I can’t feel anything.” This led me to believe he may have some kind of serious damage. We continued icing and praying throughout the evening. By bedtime the Advil had worn off and my son still told me he couldn’t feel anything. It was then that I realized what he meant was, he had no pain! The fingers that he could not move earlier were now beginning to bend. We continued to pray and thank the Lord for saving my son’s fingers and for the healing work He was doing. Then, we drifted off to sleep

The next morning, I expected to see swelling and possibly black or blue bruising on my son’s hand and fingers. However, there was none. He had no pain and had almost completely regained mobility in his injured fingers. The Lord had healed his hand! Jeremiah 30:17 says, “I will restore you to health and heal your wounds, declares the Lord.” What an incredible promise. Yes, God, the Creator of the Universe is our Great Physician.

I continue to thank the Lord for His faithfulness in taking care of our son and how our Heavenly Father gave my son the power he needed to get out from under the hood of that car, saved his fingers, and miraculously healed his hand from the trauma of the weighty hood that crashed down on him. I thank the Lord that as His children, we are never alone. He is always with us taking care of us. Joshua 1:9 tells us, “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.” Thank you, Jesus, for your faithfulness, always. Great and mighty is the Lord our God.

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A Humbling Spoonful of Spiderlada

giant-house-spider1A friend had asked if her son could stay with us for a couple of days while she and her husband went away on a marriage retreat. I had willfully agreed, and our kids were having a great time together. On the last evening of his stay, I was thinking back upon the weekend and how good I felt about helping my friend and also providing a nice weekend for her son with plenty of delicious healthy hearty meals. It was this very thought that would get me in trouble.

As I prepared dinner that night, I put together one of my family’s favorite meals. It was chicken enchiladas with sour cream and cheese in a green tomatillo sauce. I was feeling pleased with myself and was thinking how wonderful it was that I was feeding my friend’s son so well, hoping he would appreciate his time with us and every tasty meal I fixed too.

Dinner time came and we all seemed to be enjoying the delicious meal I had prepared, to the pride of my heart! Everything seemed just perfect. We had fun dinner conversation and smiling faces, while the food disappeared from each plate. Then, there came a screech from the corner of the table where our guest of honor was eating. Much to my shock and dismay, as I approached the end of the dinner table, my eyes honing in, there in the middle of his plate, was an ugly, gigantic, unidentifiable slimy brown spider, covered in green enchilada sauce! My heart sank, and I felt as tall as that smashed flattened spider on the plate.

Oh dear Lord! How in the world did this happen? Was it in that spicy green sauce I poured from a can onto my tenderly wrapped chicken in tortillas? Was it lying in the pan dead and I didn’t notice? Did he crawl in my casserole dish when I turned my head and then become my victim? Or, was he a destitute spider who had just decided life was not worth living and to end it all he jumped right in just as I slid it all into the oven?! I had no answers. This, I thought, was crazy and quite repulsive.

How humbled I was, along with being mortified and embarrassed! There, on the plate of our guest, the one person I was trying to impress with delicious food, prepared from my heart, sat an ugly arthropod with eight legs and chelicerae with fangs that inject venom. All eating at the table had come to an immediate halt. Jumping up and quickly scraping the dead disgusting arachnid from my guest’s plate was not enough to encourage further eating at that table. And so, the weekend had come to an end and I had reached a new pinnacle of being humbled.

That was eight years ago, and I am still impacted, even today. How easy it is to get puffed up with our silly insignificant selves. We tend to try to do things with our own ability, thinking we got it going on, and, if that isn’t bad enough, with the motive being to impress others. “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.” Proverbs 11:2

Instead of trying to impress others, the Bible tells us, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.” Colossians 3:23. I have found having this mindset is the most rewarding way to live. When we seek to please our Father in Heaven, not mere man, it really does change everything. God sees our hearts and when we are doing our work unto Him, He blesses and affirms us in ways that will never compare to the words of affirmation that come from man.

Remarkably, in spite of the revolting revelation of a spider in our chicken enchiladas that night, my kids still embrace and enjoy eating that meal. For me it is a constant reminder and message in being humble and seeking to serve and please the One True Living God, not people. It makes me chuckle as I reminisce how God used a dinner we have now coined as Spiderlada, to humble my spirit. I am grateful to the Lord for His love, grace, and mercy as I realize God can teach us much, even in the simple everyday tasks of our life. It’s important to remember, “For by the grace given me I say to every one of you; Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.” Romans 12:3.

This article, “A Humbling Spoonful of Spiderlada” 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.

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.

 

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