Sacrifices Remembered {5.30.16}

memorial day prayerThis Memorial Day I am remembering all those in my life who have sacrificed on my behalf. They include family members and friends who have given up their wants for my needs. They include those I have never met to fought for the freedoms I have and sadly sometimes take for granted.

In the midst of our “holiday weekend”, let’s take time to remember with thankful hearts those whose service have allowed us this freedom to celebrate. THANK YOU seem such simple words but I don’t know of any better ones to use so I say THANK YOU to you all.

The best and most lasting sacrifice and service given for all of us was memorial day Jesuswhat Jesus did for us on the cross. I thank God for the love that we can’t even comprehend. Praise His Holy Name! Thank you, Jesus. I’m counting my blessings today with love and gratitude. Have a blessed day.

God’s Word: Know it, Pray it, Live it {5.21.16}

I hope you will bear with me in this blog post. It’s a bit of a testimony of my Christian walk and maybe similar to some of yours. We weren’t all “born in the church”; some of us (like me) “saw The Light” much later.  This journey we are on as believers in Christ is an amazing journey but sometimes it’s hard to see “God’s guideposts” as He directs our paths. Do you ever feel like that? Trying to discern where your will ends and God’s will begins is sometimes hard to see. I don’t know how long you’ve been on your Christian walk. Maybe you have not yet accepted Christ and started down that narrow path. If not, the steps are simple. You simply come as you are. Here’s what God says is required: (Romans 10:9) “That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Once we confess our sins and accept Jesus as our Savior, here’s what God says in (Luke 10:27) “He answered, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and Love your neighbor as yourself.”  Of course, loving like that in our own strength is impossible. That’s one of the great blessings we receive – God’s strength will work in and through us and His love will enable us to love others. Now, back to the topic at hand…

My husband and I both accepted Christ in our thirties. Our Christian walk seemed to head down the road fast and furious. However as we look back, it really took us quite a while to “get it”, “connect the dots”, or “see clearly”. Neither one of us grew up in the church. My husband did go occasionally as a child and knew many of the Bible stores. I was, on the other hand, clueless. I only have one memory of attending church as a child. It was Easter morning when I was 5 years old. What I remember is walking into the church and my Sunday school class wearing a new dress, patent leather shoes and white gloves (I felt so wonderful in those things). My mother tells me that we attended a few times after that but I really don’t remember those times. I did not know any of the Bible stories that most children learn. So, when I accepted Christ at age 30, my learning curve was huge! Unfortunately, we were raising 5 children at the time and they suffered from our lack of knowledge and understanding of God’s Word. We all went to church whenever the doors were open. My husband and I read our Bibles but, it took us a long time to figure out how to walk out our faith in Jesus. Therefore, we didn’t show/teach that to our children. We simply didn’t know how ourselves (at least I didn’t). You know this saying is so true – “You don’t know what you don’t know”! Something was missing but I didn’t know what it was. I didn’t even realize enough to pray and ask God for it! I do, however, remember spending my lunch hours in God’s Word. It seemed like I could not get enough of it. I felt like I was so many years behind that I wasn’t sure how I would catch up and move forward. I knew that we needed to somehow incorporate our faith at home with our kids either reading or doing some sort of devotion or Bible study with them. But, frankly, it was all we could do to keep up with their school work, extra-curricular activities, keeping up with cooking, cleaning and laundry – not to mention all the outside chores. Thankfully my husband got home from work before me so he got to be the “homework helper” when needed (I do thank God for that one!). Our priorities were misplaced. Well, we can’t go back and change the past or re-do those years. We can only go forward and pray for God’s grace to cover our mistakes. Three of our five children are serving God and we are so very thankful. We are still praying for the other two and know that their salvation is for sure within the will of God. He wants all to come to Him through Jesus.

Knowing God’s Word: The only way to know God’s Word is to read it. To truly understand God’s Word, as a believer, you have the Holy Spirit to guide you into understanding. The more I read my Bible, the more I see and understand. Even after reading it through many times, it is still fresh every time I pick it up. God seems to speak to us just where we are and gives us answers when we are seeking them. He truly loves us so much that he provides all we need. To summarize, we must know God’s word in order to: (1) obey it, (2) recognize the counterfeit and deceiver’s lies, and (3) share it with others. That brings me to the next part of today’s title…

Praying God’s Word: There is no better assurance of praying in God’s will than praying His Word back to Him. What a journey of prayer God has taken me on! I was terrified to pray out loud for years. I thought I had to pray a certain way. After all, I had heard preachers and others pray and their prayers sure didn’t sound like me talking to anyone, let alone our Creator! I didn’t know and couldn’t feel right speaking in their words and ways. It just wasn’t me. Did I need to change? I wasn’t sure but I knew I didn’t want to embarrass myself in front of a group of people. Remember, I was the one who didn’t know anything about God’s Word and was frantically trying to catch up. Well, God, in His infinite wisdom and patient guidance, taught me to pray as I was ministering to children and praying with them. He is so gracious! It was a long journey and God was pushing and giving me strength all the way. Praying is like second nature to me now. All I had to do was finally realize that I didn’t have to speak in a certain way or use special words. God just wanted me (and all of us) to talk to Him. So, however you speak – that’s it. I made something so simple seem so hard. As I begin this new ministry (blog and prayer gatherings) I wonder…was God preparing me for this all along? Funny how hindsight is so clear.

Living God’s Word: Now we come to where the rubber meets the road (had to use that analogy – it’s May in Indiana and the 100th running of the Indy 500 is almost here. Yes, I’m a Hoosier.) The only way we can live out God’s Word is through His power at work in us and the Holy Spirit guiding us. In January 1997 I changed jobs. It was by far the best job and best company I had ever experienced – a perfect fit for me. The funny thing is that I wasn’t looking for a job but a previous co-worker kept hounding me about it until I finally created a resume and applied. I got the job and shortly after I started, one of my new co-workers shared with me that she had been praying for God to send a Christian to fill the position I had taken. It didn’t take me long to realize the blessing was mine! God led me there because I needed her guidance and example. She truly walked her talk. God was (and is) in every part of her life. She saw Him at work everywhere and included Him in all things. Through her example, I kept seeking and finally found what I was looking for – clear vision.  I will never forget the day my eyes were opened and I could actually see God at work around me. I can’t explain it but I just knew that I knew that I knew and the light bulb has been on ever since (thank you, Jesus). People at work were drawn to my new friend because the love and light of Christ were evident in her. She truly cares about others and shows it. She is a wonderful encourager but is brave enough to hold you accountable to God’s Word if you are a Christian. That is what we are all called to be and do. She retired a few years ago and is sorely missed. We are still dear friends and maintain our relationship. If you don’t have a Christian friend/mentor/prayer partner, I encourage you to ask God for one. It’s an incredible blessing.

So, where are you on your walk? Are you on the narrow path yet? Have you been wandering around for a while? Are you “comfortable” or allowing God to nudge you into the unknown? I would love to read your story. Simply comment or reply to this post.

Whatever point you find yourself on this path, please keep moving forward. Your life depends on it.

p.s. I have a bonus for all of you living in the Avon, Indiana area. On Saturday, June 4, the dear friend that I mentioned above will be sharing with us at our next “prayer gathering” before we get down to the business of praying. You can find all the details on the “gathering” page of this blog.

False Fantom Feelings {5.11.16}

Before I begin, I’m sure some of you are thinking the same thing I did [that is NOT how you spell phantom]. Well, I looked it up in the dictionary because I just had to keep with same letter words for this title. I can’t explain it – just one of those weird things about me. Now that the spelling issue is out of the way, on with the story…

On Mother’s Day one of our sons took me to see Phantom of the Opera. I had never seen it before and did not know the story. I was immediately impressed with the singing (and the capacity of those singers to hold notes for so long). The set design and changes though were amazing. I was enthralled just watching it all. I’m sure I had my mouth open part of the time wondering how they came up with the idea and then pulled it off. Of course, I liked the dancing too. As we came to the end though, I was overwhelmed with the sadness of the story. I have thought about it afterwards and realized that many of us have had similar thoughts as that of the Phantom. He felt alone and isolated. He was disfigured, avoided, mocked and feared. He lashed out at others because of those feelings. Don’t we often do the same? How many times have you let yourself fall into a “self-pity party” and blown things out of proportion, causing you to act unkindly to others or fabricate motives for certain actions or words of others? Like all of us, the Phantom wanted to be loved for who he was. What is so sad is that all that time, God’s amazing love was waiting for him, just like it is waiting for all of us. The Phantom’s feelings were false. For truth, we must go to the ONE TRUE GOD and HIS WORD which IS TRUTH.

God created all of us, just as we are. There is nothing in our creation that surprises or disgusts Him. We were perfectly formed and are perfectly loved. In case you have forgotten, read His Word that assures us of this fact.

Psalm 139:1-18 says:  O Lord, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O Lord. You hem me in – behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain. Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” even the darkness will not be dark to you. For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful. I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand. When I awake I am still with you.”

If you ever begin to think you are not good enough for God to love and that He doesn’t know all the “uglies” about you, please read these verses above. There is NOTHING about us that God does not already know. His love for us is unfailing and the depth of His love is more than we can comprehend.

He loves us enough that He sent His Son to die for us. He’s waiting for us to live with Him in Heaven (John 14:1-4). Christ has gone to prepare a place for us – for all who have repented and accepted the free gift of salvation through Jesus. If you have not done that already, would you accept His free gift now? God loves YOU (just as you are)!  The extra bonus of God’s love is that He doesn’t leave us as He finds us. When we allow Him to be Lord of our lives, He will change us and mold us to be more Christ-like so that our light might shine before men to bring others to this incredible lover of our souls. Here are just a few other scriptures that confirm God’s love for us.

Psalm 13:5, Psalm 25:10, Psalm 33:22, Psalm 36:5, Psalm 63:3, Psalm 100:5, Psalm 107:1, Psalm 108:4, Psalm 149:4, John 3:16, Zephaniah 3:17, Ephesians 3:14-19, 1 Corinthians 2:9, Romans 5:8, Romans 8:38-39, Matthew 10:29-31

But, we do have a responsibility to share that love. Read Mark 12:30-31 and Luke 10:27.

As you read this post, please pray to God to reveal His great love for you and then return it back to Him. I assure you that if you do that, your attitude will reflect Christ and His Light will shine through you as you go about your day. Remember, Fantom Feelings are False! STOP them in their tracks and reflect on TRUTH – God’s Truth, His Word, His Love. HE IS TRUE and can be trusted! God Bless!

Soaring like Eagles {5.6.16}

We have been blessed to see a pair of eagles in our neighborhood and community the past few years. I’ve been told they have a nest in one of our parks. It must be hidden from any walking or driving paths though because I’ve searched but never found it. We saw a pair of eagles land in the field behind our house once. That was pretty cool. However, the best sighting to date is when my husband walked out to his truck one day and came back to get me. They were soaring above and around our neighbor’s houses. I had no idea they were that fast! They were dipping and soaring quickly back and forth and then down to the pond (we think because we couldn’t see behind the houses). soaring eagle 2 We watched for quite a while. Evidently they were looking for a meal. Yesterday, again my husband was walking out to his truck and spotted one dive behind our neighbor’s house. He called to me but I missed it. They are incredible to watch and so majestic. Part of why they seem so majestic to me might be that they are our national bird but there is something about their size and the white head and tail that just make me watch in awe.

I did a little “googling” and found this: The American bald eagle was adopted as the national bird symbol of the United States of America in 1782. The bald eagle (Haliaeetus Leucocephalus) was chosen for its majestic beauty, great strength, long life, and because it’s native to North America. In the wild, an eagle will live 30-35 years (up to 50 years in captivity). A full-grown bald eagle has a wingspan up to 7 feet. They fly up to 30 miles an hour and can dive at 100 miles an hour! Eagles feed primarily on fish, supplemented by small mammals, waterfowl, and carrion. [that explains their speed]

Isaiah 4:28-31 says:  “Do you know know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, The Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary and young men stumble and fall; But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; They will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” 

This scripture says that those who hope in the Lord will soar like eagles.

Here is what the Webster 1828 dictionary says about hope. “Confidence in a future event; the highest degree of well-founded expectation of good; as a hope founded on God’s gracious promises; a scriptural sense. To place confidence in; to trust in with confident expectation of good.”

As we put our hope in the Lord, let’s think about our lives soaring like eagles. After all, with God, ALL things are possible. Joyful Soaring!

Comfort Food {4.22.16}

When you hear the words “comfort food”, what comes to mind? We all have specific foods or types of foods that seem to bring comfort. Last week a dear friend brought us a meal. When I saw what she brought, it was certainly some of my “comfort food”! Wonderful memories of my two grandmothers came flooding back as I saw and then tasted her delicious food. She brought chicken and noodles, green beans and pie crust cinnamon rolls. The green beans brought memories of my grandmother who we used to visit every year when school let out. They lived in Florida and she always got up early and started cooking for the day. I say early but to us, it seemed like the middle of the night because it was dark outside. However, we woke to the smell of green beans cooking and that was comforting (and later delicious).  My other grandmother lived closer to us and we visited almost every week. One of her meals I absolutely loved was when she made noodles. It was hard to resist going back for seconds (and I’m not sure I did). Another thing she always did (and the rest of us have latched onto) is to make cinnamon rolls frocomfort foodm the leftover pie crust. We all liked them so much that she started making extra pie crust just for the rolls. So, as I said, when I saw this meal, it was so special. Now I have one more memory to add to this “comfort food” – that of my dear friend and her sweet act of love to us. Thanks again Judy! You brought more comfort than you knew.

God has given us even better “comfort food” than any of these I have listed or those you are thinking of right now. He has given us His Word.

Deuteronomy 8:3: “He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known from the mouth of the Lord.”

Matthew 4:4: “Jesus answered, ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”

John 17:3: “Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.”

Revelation 21:2-4, 7: “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”, “He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son.”

These verses are so comforting to all those who follow Christ. Sometimes, however, God speaks to us individually and personally as we read His Word. We can’t explain it because it’s often taken out of context but that does not make it any less real. Here are a couple of scriptures in which God gave me a “message” that He had taken care of my prayer request. I just had to trust Him and wait to see the answer.

Proverbs 3:5-6: ”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 path straight.”

Acts 3:16: “By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through him that has given this complete healing to him, as you can all see.” [This story I will have to post sometime as it is a true healing miracle.]

So…what is some of God’s Comfort Food that you enjoy? Please share your personal “comfort food” from God with us. You can simply ‘comment’ on this post.

Remember…the next time we want to reach for ice cream, chips… or noodles, there is something even better waiting for us in God’s Word. EAT WELL and ENJOY!

Disrupted – Dependent – Devoted {4.14.16}

DISRUPTED – Life is full of disruptions, isn’t it? This past Monday I had surgery as a result of a disruption I had not planned for in my life. We don’t plan for them because we don’t see them coming. While I believe not all of our disruptions are caused by God, many of them are. I have been thinking of the many people we read about in the Bible whose lives were disrupted by God for His purpose. Here are just a few that came to my mind.

David: He was minding the sheep (minding his own business) out in the middle of nowhere. Just one example of the fact that God watches over us even when it seems like we are alone. I’m sure he never in a million years would have dreamed what God had in store for him. However, because of his faith in God, he was bold and obedient to go where God called him. He trusted God and once again, God proved Himself trustworthy.

Joseph: Do you think he recognized the hatred and jealousy of his brothers? I’m sure the thought that they would try to kill him never entered his mind. What a journey he had as a result of a disruption! When we read the story it sounds terrible until we start to see the unfolding of God’s plan in the process. God’s plans always have eternal benefit. Like David, Joseph trusted in God and proved faithful. God had everything under control.

Disciples: They were at work (fishing, collecting taxes) when Jesus disrupted their lives. Has that ever happened to you? God doesn’t just speak to us when we are sitting in pews at church, does He? He calls us when we are in the world. That way our “light” can shine. I always wonder what it was about Jesus that caused them all to drop everything and follow Him. They didn’t ask him the typical “20 questions”, they simply followed Him. Their lives were disrupted in a big way, for God’s glory and God’s purpose.

DEPENDENT – We like to think of ourselves as independent people and to some degree we are but when our lives are disrupted, we come face to face with our dependence upon others. This week I depended upon the surgeon and medical staff to use their skill and knowledge for a successful surgery. I was dependent upon my husband for transportation to and from the hospital, help navigating the stairs when I got home, lifting and carrying things, etc. All of us are dependent upon God. We depend on Him for the air we breathe and everything else that keeps us here on this earth. We can do nothing without God but, All Things Are Possible With God!

David: David was dependent upon God to defeat Goliath, which God did through David. He was dependent upon God to give him strength and power. God delivered in a mighty way and His plan and purpose for David was fulfilled. David was human and made mistakes but he had a heart for God.

Joseph: Joseph depended upon God to hold true to the dreams He had given him, even though from the earthly perspective it seemed impossible. He was dependent upon God to defend him and the truth, even though he suffered consequences of the lies of another. God blessed Joseph and took care of him and his family.

Disciples: They left their homes and livelihoods to follow Christ. They certainly walked out into the unknown. They fully trusted and depended upon Christ. He took care of their spiritual and physical needs, often in miraculous ways. They were dependent upon Him for everything.

DEVOTED – Webster’s 1828 dictionary describes it this way: The state of being dedicated, consecrated, or solemnly set apart for a particular purpose. A solemn attention to the Supreme Being in worship; a yielding of the heart and affections to God, with reverence, faith and piety, in religious duties, particularly in prayer and meditation; devoutness. devoted

When we have had our lives disrupted and been dependent upon others, we tend to be devoted to them. Of course I am devoted to my husband. I love him and he has proven himself to me over and over again. However, both of us are dependent upon God. Devotion to God takes on an entirely new level/dimension. We have known His faithfulness through the generations. Our lives are in His hands. He loved us so much He sent His Son to die for our sins so we could live with Him in a righteous relationship both here and in Heaven. David, Joseph and the Disciples were devoted to God. The next time we are faced with a disruption in our lives, I pray we will take a closer look to see if perhaps it is God disrupting us for His Purposes and His Plan. What He wants from us is our availability, obedience and devotion. Will we give it to Him? He Alone Is Worthy of our full devotion!

Daffodils and Doves {3.20.16}

Today is Palm Sunday and the first day of spring. I welcomed the day with joy! daffodils Yellow daffodils are in full bloom in my front garden and the doves are again cooing on our porch roof. It is hard not to smile when you see sunshine and spring flowers. They don’t usually last very long but while they are here it is beautiful and fragrant. I love the hyacinths because they smell heavenly but the daffodils are bright and cheerful.

Song of Songs 2:11-12 “See! The winter is past; the rains are over and gone. Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come, the cooing of doves is heard in our land.”

dove
This dove was not scared at all by my face in the window with a camera but both eyes are on me.

Psalm 104:12 “The birds of the air nest by the waters; they sing among the branches.”

Job 12:7-10 “But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds of the air, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish of the sea inform you. Which of all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this? In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind.”

So, as you wake up tomorrow morning (even though it is Monday and for most it means back to work), let the beauty of creation speak to you of God’s goodness and join in the praise! I assure you that it will create a cheerful attitude. Happy spring!

Love {2.21.16}

Love means a lot of different thing to a lot of people, doesn’t it? To a child it might mean a kiss and Band-Aid on a hurt knee or a hug when they are scared. To a teenager it might seem like the do all or end all of their daily activities. To a young couple, it might mean flowers, movies, love notes (probably in the form of text messages). To an older couple, it might mean taking care of and helping each other remember things. No matter what stage in life, we all hunger for love.

valentine flowers

A friend showed me the Valentine’s Day gifts her husband gave her this year. She received a beautiful necklace and earrings. Her smile beamed as she showed them to me. It made me very happy for her. I am a romantic at heart, I have to admit. The rub comes in that my “valentine” is not so much. But, he shows me love in a million ways and after many years together we know and accept each others differences in how we share and show love.

There is one expression of love, however that all of us need and desire (even if we don’t know it). It’s the unconditional love of God. It’s a redeeming love, a saving love, a true love –  that Christ died for all of us so that we may live a victorious life here on earth and an everlasting life in Heaven after this life is over. Once we receive (accept) this love offering from God, we are able to share it with others. Sometimes it’s easy to love others. Sometimes it takes the divine intervention of the Holy Spirit to enable us to truly love. I think this quote is a great expression of our responsibility to love others. love others

As you go about your day, look for those who seem to need some love and share yours. I’d love to hear your stories. Please share here – it will encourage the rest of us.