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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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.
“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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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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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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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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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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“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 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:
- Identify the fear.
- Is it based on truth?
- Identify what is true.
- 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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The 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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Proverbs 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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The 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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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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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 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.
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Staring 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.
We 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.
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Off in the distance, I could hear its roar. I encountered it often on my morning runs. I was breathing heavy as I had started up a hill that now led directly up to the tracks. There, I would meet it face to face, as it would stop me from continuing on my planned course. Being so close to the train always triggered a sense of fear, as years ago the train had actually derailed in this very area. As much as I wanted to, I could not dismiss the thoughts of it possibly derailing and crushing me under the weight of the massive box cars. How often we feel this way when it comes to real issues in our life.
As the train approached, it was clanking along loudly and rhythmically. It was moving at a rapid pace. The ground seemed to be shaking. Yet, there I stood watching it go by, car after car. I was not going to be afraid. It was a long train and as I stood staring at it, my mind moved onto the spiritual parallels of this train. I knew the Lord was with me and I did not need to be fearful, as a scripture came to my mind. Psalm 16:8 says, “I know the LORD is always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me.”
TRAINS CAN BE…
Trains can be likened to the trials we face in life.
There are the rapid moving Amtrak trains, the lengthier box car trains, and the train that comes to town and just stops and sits on the tracks with its engines running. It does not come and go quickly, but it stays and waits, until given the green light to pull out and move on. Sometimes, these are the most annoying because they are in the path blocking the way and continuing on cannot happened until they move on by. Just as these trains come down the tracks, so do life’s hardships.
Loss of a loved one
And, all the smaller miscellaneous things that just happen, like the family dog getting hit by a car, empty cupboards, behavior challenges with the children, paying that inflated energy bill, and the unending consequences of a lost marriage, that can add up to a heavy burden for one to carry alone. But, just as that train, they all have a beginning and an end. And the Lord never gives us more than we can handle.
What are we to do when these trains of life come barreling into our own lives? God’s Word says, “Surely he will never be shaken.” Psalm 112:6. We are to stand firm in our faith, trusting the Lord and resting in Him as the train either comes and goes quickly, lingers on car after car, or sits at a dead stop. We are not to fear nor be disturbed. Isaiah 41:10 says, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” That is an AWESOME promise to us, from the Lord, the Creator of the Universe!
When hardships in life feel as though they may crush us by their weight, we are not to fear. We are not to be overcome. We are not to be shaken. The Lord our God is to be our Strength. We are to keep our eyes fixed on Him, trusting in Him, standing firm in our faith that He will get us through the hard times. When we stand firmly grounded in the Truth of God’s word, we will stand the duration, trusting in our Savior to work things out for our best good and holding onto the promise found in Romans 8:28,” And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
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Running a red dirt trail in the still quiet morning hours, with rays of sunshine beginning to light the tips of the tall pines, I often wonder what is lurking beyond the reverent beauty before my eyes. As I run the path through the wilderness, I contemplate the spiritual symbolism of this path I am running on and that of the life we live.
Everything is seemingly picture perfect as I run this path, mile after continuous mile. The scenery is stunning green and gold foliage mixed with lavender flowers creeping through the tall weeds, wild daisies that seem to smile, and majestic pines that whisper in the wind. The rushing sound of the water along the trail is like a faithful friend running by my side. The crisp cool air of the early morning fills me with vigor and anticipation of a new day!
Running through this earthly paradise, I realize there are numerous dangers that I am not able to see or perceive. My limited vision won’t allow me to see all that surrounds me, as there is a canopy of camouflage that distorts the clarity of my vision. Often, I am startled by a lizard jetting beneath my feet, a squirrel scampering up a tree, or even a deer bounding through the brush. These animals may startle me, but in actuality are harmless. It is what I am not seeing that could potentially cause harm.
Scanning the horizon for a bear or lion is futile due to my inability to decipher what I am truly seeing as I pass through the forest. Eyes dart as they may, and peering into the brush, neck crooked, to see what a scuffle beneath the brush could be provides only a distraction, at best. How important it is to focus on the path straight ahead on the running trail and, yes, in our day to day living. “Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you.” Proverbs 4:25
How often our vision is obstructed by the world we live in. With a continual barrage of craziness that is dished out by the world and fed to us on a daily basis, it is no wonder it can be difficult to decipher the truth and depth of deception occurring around us. 1 Peter 5:8 says, “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” We must be aware and discerning, seeking Christ in all things and situations so we will not be deceived or overcome by the world’s godless ways. “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you.” Matthew 6:33
Lavender flowers, wild daisies, and tall pines with soft rays of sunshine provide a pleasant trail to trek, even though there are unseen dangers in the camouflaged forest. Keep your eyes straight ahead and focused on the path with Christ instead of the distractions of this world and you will see just how truly beautiful life will be.
It wasn’t but a few short weeks and those darn stains were back and the carpet seemed as dirty as before, if not even worse! The spots weren’t lifting as easily as the prior scrub, so my mind began to formulate an alternative plan. We needed a type of covering to help keep the filth from getting into the carpet. The use of a clear carpet runner to cover the areas that were prone to stain would be helpful. Yes, a covering was needed to help remedy this problem from continuing to fester. Just as the carpet needed a covering to keep from stain and harm, how much more the children of God!
Let’s look at the meaning of the word covering. The English definition is, an object or substance that goes over or on top of something especially in order to hide or protect it. Source Merriam-Webster Learner’s Dictionary. Now let’s see what the Hebrew translations have to say. There are three Hebrew words we need to look at. Sakak, which means to overshadow, screen, cover. Kasah, which means to cover for clothing or secrecy. And, kaphar, which means to cover, purge, or make atonement for sin, make reconciliation. Source Strong’s Concordance.
When we pray to our Heavenly Father, we are covered in prayer. Looking back at the above definitions we can derive from this the importance in having such a covering. For this reason, we are to have other believers that we can call upon for prayer. We need people we can be accountable to that will listen and lift us up in prayer, as needs arise. Romans 7:18 tells us, “For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh, for I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.” When struggling with sin in your life, don’t go at it alone. The enemy wants to isolate and condemn you, and tell you how rotten you are. As you share with another in words and heartfelt prayer, the darkness will be brought into the light. You will enter into freedom as the Holy Spirit ministers to your very soul. Matthew 18:20 tells us, “Where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” With Christ you can overcome and will be victorious.
Philippians 4:6 tells us “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made know to God.” We are to pray without ceasing. Whatever is bothering you, upsetting you, causing you pain and misery, or confusion, bring it to the Lord. He will give you the strength and ability to deal with the situation. “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Ephesians 6:12. During our times of intense spiritual battle, we must unite in prayer with other believers by sharing our troubles and sin issues. The Lord will be faithful to hear your cry and deliver you from all your troubles. Psalm 34:17
In Psalm 91 of the Bible, the Lord provides us with a complete shield of protection that can only be found in Him. He promises in Psalm 91:4 “He shall cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you shall find protection; His faithfulness shall be your shield and wall.” If we faithfully pray this prayer of protection, the Lord will be faithful to protect you and your loved ones from all wickedness and harm. What an awesome promise the Lord has given to us! Our hope is not is our own strength or wisdom, but from seeking divine protection from our Creator. Yes, the One who created the heavens and the earth will also take care of you. “Why, even the hairs of your head area all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.” Luke 12:7
The stains on the carpet are a consequence from an unchanged behavior pattern that is still occurring, that being, living life and making messes! These stains, like sin, are ever recurring as we live and make messes in our lives, some intentional and others unintentional, due to our sin nature. With God as our strength and refuge we will be victorious over sin and able to live a life that glorifies God. Enlist the help of other believers to pray with you. Do not be anxious about anything, but instead, pray without ceasing. And most importantly, pray the shield of God’s protection over the ones you love. You will be safe under God’s covering, for great and mighty is He.
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Dirt, spills, and ground in unidentified particles make for a filthy carpet. Day after day the grim continues to spread and multiply, along with the guilt of not getting it cleaned up. The worse the carpet looks, the more ignored it gets, as if there is absolutely no hope at all to ever rid it of its stain. It is depressing to look at and an embarrassing way of life. Until, a choice is made to do something to change its condition. That feeling of putting something off that needs to be cleaned can be carried over to our spiritual life.
Down on my hands and knees scrubbing the filthy carpet stains, a sense of relief swept over me as the stains begin to lift. Pretty much all hope was gone that this carpet would ever even appear remotely clean again. I had even gone so far as to buy numerous throw rugs in an attempt to cover and hide these filthy and embarrassing stains from the sight of others, as I was so disgusted by it all and the thought of what the possible ramifications would be when we move out of the home. So, when to my surprise the stains began to vanish before my very eyes, my hope was restored and joy overflowed my heart and mind! There was a remedy for these stains, and I found it, and it worked!
As I continued to scrub, to my hearts delight, I began thinking about the spiritual symbolism of stains and sins in the human heart. How often we sin and don’t even know it. Add to that the wrong things we do, and say, and think, that we are actually aware of. And then, on top of that, all the sin we keep hidden in our hearts that we are too embarrassed or shameful to admit to others, ourselves, and our Lord God who actually sees it all.
The Bible says we are to take every thought captive to obey Christ, 1 Corinthians 10:5. We all have sin in our lives. We all have certain sin tendencies and areas of weakness that we struggle to overcome. Do you feel dirty and possibly embarrassed by your past? Do you wish you could free yourself of the stains you have acquired over the years? What about the consequences of living a life of sin? Would you like to be clean? In Isaiah 43:35 Jesus promises, “But I wipe away your sins because of who I am. And so, I will forget the wrongs you have done.” What an incredible hope we have in Christ! All that filth found in our hearts can actually be cleaned up with the right stain remover, JESUS. And what a relief it is when the filth and stains are gone.
A changed life!
There is a section in the Bible referred to as the Romans Road to Salvation. It teaches and explains how Jesus died to cleanse us of our sins that we may be clean and have eternal life in Him. “Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.”
How to Accept Christ
The Romans Road to Salvation:
In the Bible, in the book of Romans, is a clear message to us; we need salvation. These Scriptures also tell us exactly what we need to do to be saved! Please take a moment to read through the Scriptures.
Romans 3:10 “As it is written, there is none righteous, not even one…”
Romans 3:23 “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
Romans 5:12 “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned.”
Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Romans 5:8 “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
Romans 10:9-10 “If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you shall be saved; for with the heart man believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth confesses, resulting in salvation.”
Romans 10:13 “For whosoever will call upon the name of the Lord will be saved.”
If you would like to accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior you must do what Romans 10:9-10 says. You just need to make this the prayer of your heart. Here is an example. You may use your own words.
Dear Lord Jesus, I come before you acknowledging You are Almighty God, Creator of the Universe. Please forgive me for all my sins now and in the past, (you may speak of specific instances that you would like to repent of and seek forgiveness). Please come into my heart and life and be my Savior. Thank you for dying for me and my sin on the cross. Please help me to seek You and draw near to You, and may You rule over my flesh, as I now turn to follow you. Please, become Lord of my life. In Jesus name I pray, amen.
If you have just prayed this sinner’s prayer you are now a child of the One True King! Jesus has forgiven you and cleansed you of all sin. You are a new and clean person in Christ. He has wiped away all your stains and sins. You are free and victorious in Christ. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.” John 3:16
To God be all the glory!
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Father’s Day in America is a day set aside to revere the dad in our life. It is a day we focus on our father’s and just how truly great they are. We rejoice in our Papa’s, give them gifts and words of praise, and barbecue in their honor. If we give this sort of praise to our earthly dad’s, how much more we should give praise to our Father in Heaven!
The Bible tells us that we are ALL children of God. “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!” 1 John 3:1 Think about what this truly means. What a heritage we have, as we are heirs of the One True King!
The scriptures reference our Heavenly Father as our Abba Father. The relationship we are to have with God is to be as that of a child to their dad. Abba is Greek for father and is used as the term of tender endearment by a beloved child – i.e. in an affectionate, dependent relationship with their father; daddy or papa as cited in the Strong Concordance. We are children of the God of the universe who created all things. “Yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.” 1 Corinthians 8:6
As we celebrate Father’s Day, let’s also remember and celebrate our Heavenly Father in heaven who loves us like no other. Matthew 23:9 says, “And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven.” Let’s rejoice, and give praise and honor to our Abba Father this Father’s Day. Happy Father’s Day, God!
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A good solid run is satisfying, as it is both mentally and physically challenging. It clears the mind, strengthens the body, and refreshes the soul. There are parallels in the physical exertion of running that can be carried over and applied to living life closely with Christ.
Running hills are strenuous, and depending on the elevation and terrain involved, can be down right grueling. Breathing heavily with muscles that are screaming, runners press on. They overcome by not giving in to the pain and exhaustion their body is feeling. They endure. And with every hill they climb their bodies get stronger. These are like the trials and tribulations of life. We must stay strong even when something in life appears to be too big, overwhelming, or daunting. We must choose to stay the course, trusting in Christ to keep us strong in Him. And with each trial He brings us through and each giant He has us overcome, our strength will increase. Philippians 4:13
Mountainous terrain can be dangerous. Rocks, loose granite or shale, sand or mud, creeks and cliffs, lizards that jet beneath moving feet, and snakes that slither are all a par for the course. To navigate such a trail you need a sure footing, or what the Bible refers to as hind’s feet. This can only come with time and continued experience out on the trail by logging in distance and overcoming challenging variables. It is easy to lose a footing or catch a toe on a rock, resulting in a fall that is physically painful or a hit to our pride. And, so it is with the Lord. As we run our race through life with Him, He leads us through perilous times that are difficult, hard to navigate through, painful and often times, humbling. With each challenge we grow and learn to persevere just as runners do on the trail, ultimately receiving spiritual hind’s feet as we stay on our life path with our Lord and Savior. Habakkuk 3:19
Whether it be on a damp foggy trail or parched desert terrain, the threat of dehydration is on every runner’s course. It can sneak up quickly, causing weakness and confusion, and can put a stop to even the strongest of runners. Totally preventable, every runner must hydrate. And, so it is in life. If we don’t quench our thirst, if we don’t drink from the Living Water of Christ, we will soon tire and lose focus as spiritual dehydration sets in. As you run the race of life, continue drinking in the truth found only in God’s word. You will stay the course and finish strong. John 4:14
The spiritual parallels between the physical run and the spiritual run of life are genuine. As hard as it may be, embrace the hills in your life. Better yet, conquer them! Keep a sure footing by gaining your hind’s feet. And, most importantly, stay strong in the Lord by drinking in His word. Let the Lord renew and refresh your soul. You will be glad you did!
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Only a relationship with our Heavenly Abba Father will fill the human heart’s desire for love. Knowing Jesus our Loving Savior is like no other love. Be thankful ladies, you are loved by Jesus! He knows what is best for you. Trust Him with your whole heart and life. He has a plan. Stay on your life path with Him, developing into the woman of God HE wants you to be.
If your Abba Father has a man for you in the future, then He will bring him about in such a way that you know he is from your Heavenly Father. It is not up to you to be looking or searching, but keep your focus fixed on Christ as you go about His business getting to know Him better and making Him known to others.
Single ladies, trust in Jesus. Wait upon Him, His plan, and His timing. While you are waiting, grow and blossom in Him and live out the adventure that awaits you as you seek a life with The One True King. Jeremiah 29:11 “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. ” God’s way is best and it will be well worth the wait!
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It was a tumultuous time. The genre of country music seemed a refreshing change from the secular rock and pop I was used to. But, listening to it produced an attitude of melancholy. It seemed like life was being consumed by storm clouds.
I began filling my head and home with as much of God as I could. I was going to church, Bible study, reading books by Christian authors, listening to preachers on the radio, and clinging onto my Bible as a life-preserver that kept me from sinking into the depths of despair. In fact, I would not even leave home without it, as within its pages were my Hope and Security.
It was then that I rediscovered Christian radio. What a God send! Truly! Flooding my head and home with Christian music was powerful. I found that it truly lifted my spirit. As I began to sing along, the depression I was feeling would lift. As I sang praises to the Lord, my soul would rejoice! I began to feel the freedom and victory I had in knowing Christ and that He would see me through this. The joy of the Lord became my strength.
As I continued to choose the genre of Christian music, I realized the power of it. There, embedded within the lyrics of song were Scripture, God’s Word! No wonder listening to Christian music chased my blues away. I was infusing my head with the Truth, receiving renewed life and strength for my spirit. It was so simple, and yet, so incredibly powerful!
That was three years ago and I have not stopped listening yet! For me, Christian music is a way of life. It is good input into my soul. It renews my strength. It speaks life and Truth into my mind. It puts my focus on Christ and others, not my selfish self. The Scripture floods my mind with the perfect peace and rest that only comes from knowing our Savior.
I thank the Lord for His redemptive love and the giving up of Himself on the cross for me and my sin, and for all of humanity. I love the choice I have made in my genre of Christian music. It ministers to my soul, lifts my spirit, speaks truth into my heart and mind, and, cultivates the worship of my loving Savior. “Rejoice in the Lord always, and again, I say rejoice!” Philippians 4:4
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Copyright 2015 Goldie
This delicate little flower caught my eye. Such a joyful yellow with dark flecks and uniquely shaped petals. It’s stem a deep healthy green, holding its head up high. Its innocent beauty is alluring. But even more beautiful was seeing where this shining star of a flower was rooted.
Growing from beneath the side of an alley building, it had sprung up between the structure and the asphalt. Surrounded by rock and even covered in debris, it was growing strong in spite of its harsh conditions.
This little gem of a flower is a great visual of how we should live. We are to be rooted deeply in Christ and grow strong and beautiful even when enduring adverse conditions in life. “The joy of the Lord is our Strength.” Nehemiah 8:10
“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose hope is the Lord. He is like a tree planted beside waters, that stretches out its roots to the stream. It fears not the heat when it comes, its leaves stay green. In the year of drought it shows no distress, but still bears fruit” (Jer. 17:7-9).
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