Friday, December 25, 2015

Unto us a Child is born...GRATEFUL !

"For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."  Isaiah 9:6

My favorite time of the day is very early in the morning, I don't know, just seems like in the quietness in between night and day, I can sense God's presence more. Everyone is different, but for me that is my time to hear what He has to say to me and I can spill my "guts" out to Him.  :-)

It is even more special this morning because it is Christmas...a time when even the world celebrates. All may not acknowledge Him as the "Reason for the Season", but I believe that God in His Love for mankind, the One that can see beyond all the crazy, silly and what some may call "paganistic" ways that some people may celebrate...and He stills yearns for all to understand and receive the true Gift. God searches the heart and offers the Gift. John 3:16 says it perfect :

"For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life."

I was looking at a TV show about how celebrities spend so much money on gifts for Christmas, $50,000 for a handpainted Purse (and the painter wasn't even Michael Angelo !) now that is ridiculous! I'm so cheap I find it hard to buy a Coach bag, though I really want one.  Sometimes I have little patience for such nonsense and would throw my hands up and say "That's it! they don't know what Christmas is really all about, I give up on 'em!"  But thanks be to God that He NEVER gives up! They are trying so hard to fill that God shaped vacuum in their lives and it cannot be filled with cars, houses or stupid handpainted purses. Only Jesus can fill it up and make us whole. Thank God He never gives up. Thank God He never gave up on me! 

"The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance." 2 Peter 3:9

God sent His promise of salvation, His Gift to us through His Son Jesus. Jesus gave His life to fulfill that promise, so in order to receive the Gift of salvation, we have to receive the Gift of God's Son. God is not willing that anyone should perish and spend eternity away from Him and THAT is why we celebrate the Gift.  I celebrate because I am so very grateful that God looked at me, saw the mess that I was and as a line in composer Dottie Rambo's song

says "He looked beyond my faults and saw my need." His Grace is truly amazing!

I am so grateful that when that Angel came to Mary, that she was strong  enough to receive his message, she knew the ridicule and  shunning that would come, but she humbly obeyed. I am so grateful that Joseph stepped up to be a real man, finally shouldering

God's request and took charge. I am so grateful that the Wise Men allowed God to use their talents and "gifts" (in more ways than one) to pursue the desire to see the newborn King. I am so grateful for the shepherds that overcame their fears and believed the angels and were able to be among the firsts to behold the lamb of God!

I am so very grateful this morning that many years ago at the darkest point in my life, the Gift heard my cry. I was so tired of trying to figure life out, on the outside I had everything that a person could want. Christmas was huge at my house in Philly then, I used to have so many gifts under the tree that we had an overflow area in the dining room. So many gifts...

except the True Gift.

Then one night sitting on the steps of our row home at the time, I looked up at the night sky and said in tears "Lord, I have heard about you all my life, but I don't know you, if you are real please come into my heart, I am so tired of trying to live out this life, there has to be more than this."  That was it...I would love to tell you that things changed overnight and from then on it was all sunshine and roses.  Now I am going to be very honest with has been quite a journey, but you know what? I would not change a thing.  Why? Because God has been so very faithful to me...through thick and thin HE has been there. He has walked with me and proven over and over again that He is not "slack in His promise". He is helping me to become what He created me to be and if it was not for His Gift...I would be nothing!  NOTHING!  So yes I celebrate! I celebrate because I am so very GRATEFUL for God loving us so much that He chose to send a Promise Child to grow up and become the sacrifice for my sins...and yours.

So let us accept the Gift of Jesus this Christmas! He is so very WONDERFUL! He is the best COUNSELOR! He IS a MIGHTY GOD! He is a precious  EVERLASTING FATHER! and most certainly He IS the PRINCE OF PEACE!  

Allow Him to be all those things and more to you today, celebrate this Christmas by accepting the TRUE Gift...Jesus the Christ.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

The Solid Rock

Jesus said...“Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock:  and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.
“But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.”
Matthew 7:24-27

On a recent trip to Georgia , I had the opportunity to visit Stone Mountain. We had reservations to eat at the restaurant in the Stone Mountain Park that overlooked the mountain surrounded by a beautiful lake.  The scenery was awesome and something to behold. I kept thinking as we were driving up to our destination and looking around at the trees, rocks and lake, how beautifully God had made all of this for us to enjoy.

We had a delicious dinner and the service was very accommodating, but every chance that I got I would stare out the multi-windowed view at the mountain. Majestic, solid, ancient, stable are just a view words that came to mind as I looked in admiration of God's creation.  The Lord has afforded me many opportunities of seeing the "natural" wonders of this country, thanks to my adventurous son and his wife: the mountains of San Simeon, California (Hearst Castle), The beautiful ride up to Cambria, California on the Pacific highway to see the Mountains on one side and the Pacific Ocean on the other, then there was the Red Rocks of Colorado, The Garden of the gods, Colorado, and a visit to the mountains where the Ute Indians used to inhabit. All beautiful mountains created by the one true God.  All majestic,solid, ancient,and stable. 

This time though I looked at this mountain with a greater vision...perhaps because I am older (no wise cracks lol), maybe a little more wiser and more experienced with this blessing called life. The journey through life will do either of 2 things, make you or break you. Maybe it sounds better to say you can be molded to become what God intended for you to be or you can become your own creation.  The latter gives me the willies...when I think about living all this time and at the end only becoming what I think I should be...sheesh now that's scary! I think we all agree that God certainly has a better plan for us! Much better to at least try living by His Word, than to do our own thing and blow it! Trust me folks, our only true hope is in Him and His plan, His Word.

Looking at Stone Mountain through my eyes at this season of my journey, I saw and understood God's ongoing stability, His never changing dependability if you will. His promise to never leave me nor forsake me...that He would ALWAYS be there.  

After having major brain surgery years ago (no wise cracks please lol), that experience definitely took me to another level of trust. Then watching my husband pass into eternity with his last words being "Thank You Lord" and "Praise You Jesus" on his lips, that certainly gave me a view of God's constancy and reliability. But it has been my day to day walk that has shown me that He can be counted on, that He is stable, that I can rely on Him even when I do not understand it.  He is the Ancient of days, always was, always is and forever will be.  He is solid, unmovable, everlasting.

Listening to recent events in the news can be frightening, if you are not careful one can easily become a recluse, not trusting anyone or plagued with agoraphobia, a fear of going outside. Believe me the thoughts have crossed my mind...but we cannot truly live that way. Instead of allowing fear to grow and take root, we must allow God  to be who He says He is...The Rock. No not Dwayne Johnson, the former wrestler turned actor either...The One and only True Rock is none other than Jesus Christ!

The name that is above any other name, the name that some are ashamed or afraid to mention, the name that some think is politically incorrect to mention in public, the name that some use to profane and swear is STILL the name that is above all others, it is the name that gives me peace in the midst of the storm, it is the name that rocks me to sleep when I am anxious, it is the name that comforts my grieving soul, it is the name that calms me when I am afraid, it is the name that gives me hope when I am weary, it is the name that gives me joy when I am sad, it is the name that encourages me when I want to give up, it is the name that helps me to go on each day...THAT name can be counted is Majestic, it is Solid, it is Ancient, it is Stable and forever will be!

In Him we can have Hope, in Him we can depend upon, He is our Rock!

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Body Parts...

 "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. For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully." Romans 12: 3-8

Whenever I venture out to go on a trip to another state or as close as the store around the corner, I usually say a quick prayer not only for safety but that the Lord will make it known to me any person that I should especially reach out to. By reaching out, I mean by a smile, a conversation, a touch...basically whatever I feel lead by His Spirit to do. See I believe that while some folks are looking around for that BIG opportunity to be used of God, there are people walking right by them everyday that He wants us to be a beacon of light that points towards Him.

It was one such occasion the other day: I was on my way for a third time to a store to try to get the correct part for an appliance in my home. Feeling a little frustrated? Yes, but I still said in my mind, almost by habit ,"OK Lord if there is someone you need me to reach out to, make it clear."  Yeah I wanted to "reach out" alright...reach right over that counter and grab the person by the collar and say "Do you realize this is my THIRD time here, think you can get it right THIS time?" But thank God for His mercy and sense of humor. LOL

By the time I get to the store I am in a different frame of mind and just want to get the part and leave for other errands. Sort of forgot about looking for anyone to reach out to for the Lord.  I am at the counter and about to leave after unsuccessfully getting the correct part, when I turn to my right and there stands a young man I have not seen in years. He had overheard the conversation (He could not have missed my voice as I tend to raise it and overly pronounce my words when I. am. TRYING. to. explain. something. to. someone. for. the. THIRD. TIME!  But I was nice (insert sweet smile).

This young man offered to come over and take a look at the appliance to see if he could help and to catch up with what's been going on in our lives. At first I was hesitant, then remembered my quick prayer and since I have known him and his whole family including his parents for decades, I said yes.  We set a convenient time for both of us and he came

After a 2 hour visit on my back porch, I knew why I "ran" into him; This young man is desperately seeking The One and True God. He knows the Bible and He knows about going to Church, but He does not know God, he does not know God's character. As he went on and on expressing his doubts and questions, I knew that all I could really do was to give him the simple message of God's love through Jesus Christ and His sacrifice. To share with him how that has worked and is still working for me. This young man has been hurt and deceived by those that he thought were his example, representatives of Christ on this earth.  Even though we know that we should not look to men, because none of us are perfect, as humans we still uphold those that profess to be one thing when actually they are not. God help us to forgive them, for "they know not what they do."  When any of us mis-represent Christ, we must realize the damage we may leave in our path. I pray that I am never guilty of this charge, but if I ever am, I pray that I am willing to allow the Holy Spirit to "lead and guide me into all Truth" about myself, so that I can get it right.

After this young man left, I began to have doubts if I had really done anything to help him. Did I say the right thing? Did I say too much? Who am I to help anyone? Many doubts about if God could really use me to reach and encourage someone that is broken just as I was.  Then today I received a note in the mail from a friend, thanking me for having been an encouragement to them...such kind and encouraging words. Encouraging me that I CAN be all that God has called me to be and that they have been praying for me.

I find it so interesting that sometimes the very thing that you pour out of your life, you need the most. I LOVE to encourage people, to help them see all that they can be in God. I LOVE to encourage people to use their gifts and talents and am so excited for them when they do! I LOVE seeing them used by God!  And yet I need to hear those very things the most.  On a scale of one to ten, my self esteem sometimes is a minus zero. For real. Yet I LOVE helping people to see how truly great and gifted they are. Go figure THAT one!

 Basically, we need each other. The scripture above talks about we who are believers in Christ are a body made up of many members, each of which are important.  Just as the members/parts of our natural body need each other to function at its maximum capacity, so it is with the Body of Christ.

I was there for that young man to remind him of Christ's love, something that he has heard all his life but is now going through a rough time.  Afterwards I doubted my effectiveness, but God used someone to encourage me, to remind me that God CAN use my gift. This is just one of the wonderful ways God works in our lives and I am so glad He does!

If only one good thing came out of my conversation with that young man, I hope that will be that I am praying for him...that God cares so much for Him that He stopped a frazzled, slightly frustrated woman (me) in her tracks to listen and encourage him that God sees, He knows and He cares. I am praying for him, just as someone is praying for me...

Saturday, October 24, 2015

My Peace I give to you...

"Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." John 14:27

 Peace... a valuable state of being, something that many people have lost their lives for throughout the years of war. And yet I believe that the greatest battlefield is in our minds and thoughts. If everyone would apply God's peace to their minds and their way of thinking I do believe wars would cease. And before you even go there, yes... God has the power and ability to supernaturally stop all wars BUT, He has given us a free will remember? If we, throughout time have chosen to settle things OUR way then war it is and at that point necessary.

I have this thing that I have done most of my adult life...and it is called TRYING TO FIGURE OUT AND FIX OTHER FOLKS PROBLEMS...there I've said it. Hey don't look at me like I'm crazy, you have probably done it too.  I am just now finding out that when someone shares something that they may be going does not mean that is an invitation to get anxious, worried and try to figure out a solution. I am learning that it may be a time to just listen (you can hear all kinds of things not being said, when you just listen).

The Holy Spirit is so graciously teaching me that when I get anxious over what others are going through, that I am trying to give them something that He has given me. Now while that may sound gallant, you know how people say "I have given all of myself"? Well honey you ain't suppose to be giving them all of yourself, that goes to the Lord. You are suppose to give others the direction, by your example, to the giver of Peace, God.

 I'm understanding now why I used to get so physically tired and "wrung out" after worrying over other folks trials they were experiencing, I was "working" to give them "my peace" that God had given me!  You see, the scripture says "...My Peace I give unto you," that you is me. God has made each of us very unique and He knows just what it takes in this life to give each of us as individuals peace in the midst of our storms.  What may give me peace, may not do the same for you. He wants us to get to know Him better so that He can give us His custom designed Peace for our lives.  Peace is a gift and in the book of James:1:17 it says that every good and perfect gift comes from God, who never changes or turns away. God never turns His back on us, He never shirks His duties, when we ask Him for peace He gives it to us. He gives it to individuals that are looking to Him for that peace.

So basically what I'm trying to say in too many words (as I always do...sheesh) instead of getting upset, worried, anxious and fretful over trials and problems that we hear loved ones or friends are going through...instead of trying to give them OUR peace that God has given us, pray for them that they will receive God's peace...peace that He so willingly paid such a high price for. Isaiah 53 says that it was part of the debt He paid for our sins on the Cross, He was "chastised for our peace."

Our peace is very important to us, we need it in this old world like never before. We cannot afford to fall apart and lose our peace while thinking that we are helping others. We must "hold our Peace" and pray like never before for ourselves and our loved ones and friends that are going through trials. Pray for their peace.

In the book of Exodus chapter 14 when Pharaoh was chasing the Israelites and they were becoming afraid. God spoke to Moses and told him to tell the people to "stand still and see the salvation of the Lord". Then verse 14 Moses spoke to the people and said "The LORD shall fight for you, you shall HOLD YOUR PEACE."

Are you "holding YOUR peace" today or are you worrying and fretting trying to give it to others that you love and care about? Trust me there is enough Peace in God for everyone, so hold yours and pray for others to receive the wonderful gift that God has just for them.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Changed from Glory to Glory...

"And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into His image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit." 
II Corinthians 3:18

Back in December 2008 while on one of many visits to California, the Lord dropped the idea for this blog in my heart. There was no great revelation, just an urge to write down what I felt that He was teaching me. I am not a person big on being "deep", in fact it sort of irritates me when someone tries to come off as being "deep" by acting so spiritually profound; saying big words and statements that are actually rambling and confusing.  Yep, just give me plain 'ol words that make sense. 

So while praying about what the theme of this blog would be, I felt in my heart that it would be about how I experience God's wisdom in His Word through everyday experiences. Isn't

that how God works?  I mean, why would He desire that we get to know Him and then make it so hard that we could never meet the goal...that is SO unlike Him!  Grant it, life is full of complexities and sometimes you may never on this earth, get the answers to some things, but trust me, He has surely given us THEE answer, and that can only be found in Him.

With this in mind, I am always looking for ways in which He may be teaching me, it can be very amusing sometimes. I chuckle a lot to myself, sometimes in public (I know folks may think I'm crazy); but when He drops a lesson in my heart so simple and yet profound while doing an everyday chore like grocery shopping, I have to laugh...and snort...there I admitted it. And yes I have gotten some strange looks in the progress, but I smile, nod my head and move on and pray that the wagon with the men in white coats don't arrive to take me away. 

It happened yesterday while repotting some plants. It was a beautiful fall morning and I wanted to check on my plants I keep on the back porch before bringing them in from the cooler temperatures.  Sure enough several of them had outgrown their pots and needed to be re-potted. I made preparation on the front porch with the bag of potting soil, larger pots and the pot bound plants. The season of summer with it warm temps and humidity were

good for the plants, they are lush and green and have grown quite a bit! So it was time to come out of the old containers and into a new ones with fresh soil added and more room to grow.

Repotting plants can be a messy job, but I don't mind because I love getting my hands in the soil, something so earthy about it. A side note here: if a plant had feelings mind you, it could be temporarily a little uncomfortable with it's roots being exposed and the pruning that may occur during transplanting. However once it goes into a larger pot with more soil and room to grow, it can stretch out it's roots and go deeper. I have repotted many plants in my day and even with the messiness and "discomfort" while transplanting, in time, the plant ALWAYS benefits from the process and grow even more lush, stronger and beautiful.

Can you see where I am going with this? While I was re-potting, this lesson from the Lord dropped in my heart, I chuckled, no matter of fact I laughed, out loud...yep.  See the Lord wants us to continually grow in Him.  We should not be the same person that we were a year ago. We will always keep our same personality, and some of our physical attributes, but spiritually we should be growing into His image. Some people pride themselves in being the same, that they have not changed in 50 years!  But what is that really saying? That you don't have a "teachable spirit"? That maybe you have all the answers? Or maybe you have settled into a comfort zone and have lost the desire to know God better?

The scripture above, II Corinthians 3:18 says that as we look at God's image (who He is, His character) then we should emulate Him, follow His ways and be changed, as one translation says "...from glory to glory..."  

I'm not trying to come off as someone that has made the goal, but through this life's journey I am learning to desire to be like Him. It is sometimes very uncomfortable to go through change. Sometimes, just like that plant being re-potted, your roots get exposed (meaning: what you really stand for), ever heard of the phrase "Shaken to your very roots"?  Well your roots, your foundation, really show what you believe, who you are. Come to think of it ladies, our hair "roots" shows what our REAL hair color is, just sayin' .  If our "roots", our foundation is strong in God, that is the advantage to going to the next level. 

After we have made it through the "transplanting" process, then God graciously allow us to get into a more roomier environment. A place we have never been before, uncharted territory, but more room to grow in Him.  And though we may have been pruned a bit, may have lost a few friends and acquaintances along the way, may have lost some bad habits and attitudes, may have lost some erroneous beliefs, still it will be a season to grow and spread our roots deeper in Him; making us stronger and closer to His image. 

I pray today for myself and you that our desire will be to know God better, to be willing to be "transplanted" and "re-potted" so that we can grow deeper and stronger in Him...

 "Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in Him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep His love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God."

 Ephesians 3:17-19

Saturday, September 12, 2015

"...But David encouraged himself..."

I will never forget the Christmas when I received my first bicycle, it was blue and silver with a basket on the front and colorful streamers on the handlebars! It also had training wheels attached for safe learning, but they didn't stay on there long.  My Dad taught me to ride my bike and I remember how patient he was when weaning me off the training wheels. It seemed like it was so hard to keep that bike in balance and to stop it from wobbling after my Dad released me; but after a time (and after many skinned knees and elbows from falling) I was able to keep my balance and ride a short distance unaccompanied, with him cheering me on!

There was an incline on the street that I lived on, we actually called it a "hill".  To me as a small child the "hill" looked like Mount Everest. My cousins and I have sacrificed a whole lot of skin from our knees at the altar of that "hill" while trying to run down it at a high speed.  I still can't figure out why in the world we felt it necessary to run and chase each other down "Mount Everest" KNOWING that we would probably trip and tumble down head first because of loose shoe laces, small rocks or just the inertia and gravity of the stunt! But that didn't stop us. So it was only natural that the "hill" would be my greatest challenge after learning to ride my beautiful blue and silver bike...

It was scary at first looking up that incline and imagining myself not only pushing my bike up it, but actually reaching the top and enjoying the easy ride back down. But I wanted it so badly until I was willing to try over and over again; each time I fell and at times really hurt myself (I still have a scar to prove it) I would say through my tears, "I can do this".  I don't know why I was so determined to push my bike up that incline and ride down, but to me it was something that I felt I needed to accomplish. In my young mind it was like a rites of passage to prove to myself that I was strong and independent.

After much trial and error, one day I was able to push that bike up and ride down smoothly and over time I would show off by riding down with my hands in the air or feet up on the handle bars (oh to be able to do that ain't happening though)  LOL

That was a very long time ago, though I remember like it was yesterday: my Dad encouraging me, holding the bike while I learned to peddle and balance myself, him cheering me on as I finally got the knack to stay on without falling and him smiling when he saw me riding down the "hill" with arms up raised.  It amazes me now when I visit home and see that through time and the wear and weight of many cars traveling over the "hill", that it is not a "hill" at all anymore. My sisters and I wonder if it really was that high at all back then or was it our view as children that it seemed so challenging and insurmountable.  At any rate it was a life lesson for me...

When I feel discouraged and challenged, I rehearse God's faithfulness. It does not come easy at first because it is much easier to flow with how you are feeling at the time, but I have to shake myself and remember...Remember how He brought me through so many times before. Times when I wanted to give up, He helped me to go on. Times when I felt useless and unwanted, He was there to remind me that I am important to Him. Times when the situation seemed like a Mount Everest and insurmountable...He encouraged me that "You can do this".

In the book of I Samuel chapter 30, David had returned to find that the enemy had ransacked the city and stolen all their goods and worst of all had kidnapped his family. The people understandably began to weep and grieve, and the scripture says that  "... but David encouraged himself in the Lord his God". To me I believe that he began to remind himself of how God had helped him to overcome all his previous challenges (and he had many). And in doing so it buoyed his confidence that if God did it before, He will do it again. So David began to seek the Lord through prayer and God in His faithfulness gave him clear direction on how to overcome his situation.

I was at a committee meeting recently and one of the members had lost her spouse a few weeks before. As she described what she was going through, I remembered having gone through that part of the journey and my heart went out to her. The Holy Spirit brought to my mind and heart how far I had come, things that were once giant hurdles, Mount Everest if you will, now don't seem as unbearable. God did it! He helped me through it and now I can encourage myself and others of His faithfulness.

Today if you are experiencing challenges, no matter how big or small, if it is concerning you, then it is important to God.  Give those challenges to Him, then remember the times that He was faithful to you before, remind yourself of His goodness; then take your hands off the handlebars and ride with hands up raised thanking Him!

Friday, August 21, 2015

The Treadmill of Life...

But Jesus said to him, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” Luke 9:62

Funny how things come to mind while you're doing just regular least that how it happens to me.  While at the gym on the treadmill doing my regular routine it came to me how similar it is with traveling the journey of life....

I would love to paint a picture of me in a cute and matching gym outfit (preferably in fuchsia and turquoise) oh! and with a matching headband, socks and shoes. No visible perspiration on my face or armpits and of course perfectly coiffed hair and full makeup in the vision that I would like to see of me on the treadmill.  But honey, first of all I have to fight to get to the gym to get ON the treadmill, so most times that means a T-shirt with a faded logos,

oversized gym pants, my gym shoes that I have broken in and don't care if they match my outfit, no socks, hair combed back from my face in prep for all that sweat that will drip down my face with a smidgen of makeup (I have to at least put eyeliner on or I would scare folks...can't have that.)  Not quite the "vision" I would like to see of me on the treadmill, BUT I get there and begin...

I start slow at first, getting myself acclimated to walking against the belt. Lots of times I get distracted by the change of music or folks coming in and out and when that happens it makes me begin to concentrate on how much longer I have to stay on this blasted thing! The distractions seem to get my mind off the the good results of the exercise routine and instead it makes me become weary of what I have to do to get there. The distractions make the act of going "forward" tedious instead of a joy for what is ahead. So I have to stay focused on my goal...yes the belt is going in the opposite direction, but as I continue to walk forward it is making me stronger.

I am a people watcher, so as I am looking around I begin to notice how some people use the treadmill: you have your slow walkers, they take it nice and easy, no hurry and know their limitations and just thankful probably to be able to get on a treadmill. Then you have your runners, that seem so confident, they are there for a workout (and a little showoff I think sometimes) and they want to do this routine, and reap the results quickly. Then you have your moderate walkers, like me...start off slow, increasing gradually, trying to stay focused, keeping the goal in mind so the routine won't become a chore instead of a joy and did I say SWEATING up a storm!  Is any one of these the correct way?

To be honest with you, I don't know, all I know is what works for me. In this life's journey we are reminded in God's Word to constantly go forward, to not look back.  Going back is actually no longer an option, but we sometimes spend so much of our time and energy worrying about things that we can not change. Yes the belt of the treadmill is constantly going opposite, but it is the going forward that produces the desired results.  Imagine if you will a person walking backwards on a treadmill, I see a crash landing and broken limbs, hardly what we would want. Even if life seems to want to pull us backwards, we have to constantly allow the Holy Spirit to help and encourage us to go forward.

Distractions will come, but we must stay focused on this walk and the goal of being successful only comes with being more like Jesus. Not one of us is perfect, we each have our own "style", some are slow walkers, cautious and laid back, some are runners, very confident and fast, and some start off slow, but increase as they stay more focused. We are all on a treadmill of life (I know that sounds corny, but there ya go). We are all given an opportunity to go forward and become what God intended us to be. My prayer is that I will continue to hold steady, not be distracted, to stay focused and to keep my eyes on the learn more about the character of God and to become what He wants me to be. As we walk in His Truth and Light, we will accomplish all that He has for us on this earth.

"Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead,  I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. " Philippians 3:12-14

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Jesus Loves me...this I know.

One of, if not THEE most profound, liberating Truth ever to be spoken.  Jesus LOVES ME...can you say it with me..."Jesus LOVES ME". It sometimes gives me goose bumps when I say that, mainly because I know the things that I've done, the things that I have said...I know the Real me...and yet there is One who knows me even better than me. He sees beyond my faults and sees my needs, He sees past the rejections, heartbrokenness, and confident façade and sees...ME and He STILL loves me, without restraint, without condition.

The little song "Jesus Loves Me", author unknown:
Jesus Loves Me, this I know
For the Bible tells me so.
Little one to Him belong,
They are weak, but He is Strong.
Yes Jesus Loves me, Yes Jesus loves me
Yes Jesus Loves me, for the Bible tells me so.

I sang this song for the first time when I was a tot in Sunday school and today many years later it still rings true in my heart. In the midst of chaotic situations, the singing of this song still brings me peace and reminds me of the simple yet dynamic Truth that in spite of it all Jesus LOVES ME!

I have seen this simple song turn the hearts of some of the most unhappy souls. Once while preparing to sing during a prison ministry service, as I watched the inmates file in to be seated, I noticed their faces and body language. They had heard it all from folks coming in to preach at them, they knew they had sinned and disappointed their families, society...themselves. The songs that I had prepared to
sing no longer seemed fitting to share with this group of people that seemed to have no hope. When it was my turn to sing, even though we had brought in all the equipment to make each song sound as if it was being accompanied by a full orchestra, I left it off and began to sing accapella  "Jesus Loves Me This I Know."  One by one each inmate's head began to lift, their body language began to straighten and soon each and everyone was singing along with me, "Yes Jesus love me, Yes Jesus loves me."  Needless to say there were many tears and then smiles.  That little simple song changed the atmosphere of the whole service.  Many of the inmates later shared how they remembered singing that song as a child and how it reminded them of God's love for them.

The real author of that little song is not known and I think the reason why is that we can all write and add a verse to it. We can tell the many ways we know how much He loves us, how He allowed us to be born, kept us from all harm, met our needs, was always there, etc. etc.  I know that I could write a million verses!

I have sang "Jesus Loves Me , this I know" in Nursing homes where many felt discarded by their loved ones and were preparing to leave this earth; I have sang it to babies and children, who had their future before them and maybe not fully able to understand, I have sang it to teens with walls of  indifference seemingly so high and impenetrable and yes, many times to harden criminals without hope of ever having a second chance at life; and that little simple song always has the same response.  It has nothing to do with my singing skills or lack thereof...but it is the simple words of this age old song that rings true in their hearts.  Those words make you stop...listen and meditate on that fact that God LOVES us...He really matter if we can feel it...or see is so true! He loves us and there is not a thing that we can do about it, but receive it and allow Him to make us better.

"For God so loved the world , that He gave his only Son, that whosoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life."  John 3:16

Friday, July 24, 2015

Early in the morning...

"But as for me, I shall sing of Your strength; Yes, I shall joyfully sing of Your lovingkindness in the morning, For You have been my stronghold And a refuge in the day of my distress. " Psalms 59:16

There is something about the early morning and "meeting" with the Lord.  It has always been my most favorite time to sit in His presence. I think what started it was many years ago when my late husband got up his usual time (around 6:00 AM) to get ready for work and he saw our son, who was a teenager by then in his room praying and reading scriptures at that early hour. My husband was an avid Bible reader, but would do his devotional time usually after dinner; and let's face it , how much can you really get out of reading the scriptures when you're tired with a full tummy? But what he saw our son doing that wee hour in the morning inspired and encouraged him to get up an hour earlier each morning and spend time not only reading the Bible, but really allowing God to meet with him.

What can I had a rippling effect and before long instead of dragging my body out of bed around 6:30 to make my husband coffee, pack his lunch and see him off...I was getting up earlier to spend some time in God's presence. We each had our own meeting places.  For some reason my husband found the bathroom to be his "sanctuary"...go figure, but it worked for him  :-).  Me...I loved sitting out on the back porch, no matter how cold it was.  It just seemed like the right place to be early in the morning, with the birds singing and the sun slowly coming up over the horizon. I can feel Him in the quietness of the earth waking up to a new day.  When I read the Bible it is like Him speaking directly to me, when I pray it is me speaking directly to Him. It's an invitation, for the Holy Spirit to come and sit with me a while.  He reminds me of His Goodness and Mercy. I recount the times that He saved me from things that could have destroyed me, of times when I knew that He was there for me. Times when it has been lonely, but I KNEW that I was never alone.

My heart weeps for this world because what I see is a whole lot of people without Hope.  To be hopeless is very sad.  I know what it is like to feel as if there is no hope. As a young person before I met God for the first time...I thought a lot about ending it all by taking my life.  And then there was that time as a young married woman, I did try to end my life.  Thank God that I did not succeed, but it was very embarrassing in the ER trying to explain to the medical staff why I did what I did.  When the words were coming out of my mouth they did not make sense "I give up and no longer want to exist" wonder they all looked at me like I was crazy.  But I wasn't crazy... I just had no hope that things would get any better. And that is what being hopeless feel as if your situation will never get better.  What a lie! I believed that lie for a very long time, until one day, after a neighbor had been praying for me (unbeknownst to me) , that I surrendered my heart and life to Jesus Christ. Not only did I received Hope, but Peace and real Joy.  And He is the only One that can restore your Hope and give you real Peace and Joy.

So my early morning times are very precious with Him, because not only did He save my life, He has rescued me time after time again and again. So many devastating moments and yet...He whispers " I am with you" Times when I have lifted my hands and said " I can not and will not go a step further because this thing is too hard"...He whispers "Yes you can because I am with you."  Times when I've messed up big time and say to myself "I'm not worth it."  And He whispers " You are worth it to Me" and I am reminded of His Sacrifice...for me...and you.

Yes those early morning times restore my strength in Him, it puts the gas in my spiritual tank so that I can get through the day with the assurance that I am not left alone to figure this journey out. He is my stronghold and refuge and He desires to meet with me. When I come early to meet with Him, He is already there, waiting and eager to listen , comfort, even chastise and most of all with love.

"Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls." Matthew 11:28-29

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Are we really free?

July 4th, declared a day of Independence from Britain's rule over what was to become the United States of America. Freedom from Britain's tyranny, a real reason to celebrate, especially with  all the lives that were sacrificed to attain that freedom.

I wonder sometimes if people think of the sacrifices that were made so many years ago, while they crank up the barbecue, enjoy the beach, family picnics, etc, etc.? Of course there is nothing wrong with celebration, but why do we really celebrate this holiday? To be honest I think that the farthest thing from our minds are the young
soldiers that willingly left their homes to fight in the war, or the older soldiers that left wives and children. I think that basically to us nowadays it means a day off of work, family reunions and cookouts. How do we get so far from celebrating the real meaning of the holiday?

Well on a more personal level, what about me? Have I allowed the day to day activities of life to diminish the true meaning of sacrifice? Have I allowed MY personal circumstances in life to override the great price that others have paid so that I could be a beneficiary of better living.  I think of my parents that sacrificed so that all of their children could have a better education than they did. There are so many benefits that we all have in our lives that have
come because some else LOVED us so much they were willing to go without so that we might have.They gave their all, maybe not seeing the results in their lifetime, but by faith doing it so that we could enjoy. So instead of me, and I make this personal, complaining about what I don't have, I should be celebrating what I do have. Instead of seeing all that is wrong in life, I should be rejoicing over the fact that I have so much that is right! Instead of having a pity party and inviting who so ever will listen to come, I should be thanking God for the Grace He has given me to make it in this life and inviting others to trust Him.  I should be celebrating my True freedom, my freedom in Him.

He indeed gave the ultimate sacrifice. So when we shake our fists at God in our grief and say "You don't understand how I feel!" We are so very wrong, He knows...He knows very well what it is like to not only see a loved one die, but to also see Him suffer. The men and women of the America Revolution gave their lives, sacrificed themselves so that freedom would come to their remaining loved ones and their country. God sacrificed His Son Jesus who willingly laid down His life so that anyone that accepted that gift and trust Him would have True freedom on Earth AND throughout eternity. That calls for celebration!

I think that I am speaking more to myself through this post...I am so blessed! Some things in life we don't choose...who our parents are, how we were raised, physical and some health limitations and when we lose loved ones. These things can have a major negative impact on our lives, but even though we do not choose these things, God can use them for our benefit. We must trust Him to show us how to live this life to its fullest. Only He can show us through His Word how to walk in True freedom. "If you abide in my Word you are my disciples indeed and you shall know the Truth and the Truth shall make you free!"John 8:31

 He has already paid the price and greatly sacrificed so that we can succeed. We are Free in Him!  And for that we Celebrate!  "Therefore if the Son sets you free, you are free indeed."  John 8:36   
 Happy 4th of July Everyone!

Friday, June 19, 2015

His loving kindness and faithfulness...

This will be a different kind of post. One not so much about learning more about God through my everyday experiences; but more about reminding myself of what I already know about Him...

I don't know if it was the news of the recent passing of a longtime friend, or the beautiful memorial for another dear friend that went to be with the Lord several months ago...or maybe it is that Father's Day is approaching, but I am missing my late husband.  Maybe it is a combination of all three of these things, but at any rate it has all affected me with a sharp reality of my husband's absence from my life.  Many of you will understand what I mean.  Even though it has been over 13 years since he has passed and through God's comfort and healing of my soul, there are still times when there comes a sharp reality of the absence of a loved one that has passed.

I am not depressed, nor do I feel sorry for myself. I am just experiencing a grief moment as I process the sad news (local and the media) that I have been hearing over the past few days and even the wonderful news of a life remembered, but sorely missed, as I converse with a wife and a mother and feel with compassion their grief.

I am reminded of what Pastor A. has been teaching about the Holy Spirit (God's Spirit) and how He is grieved at times (Ephesians 4:30); He grieves out of love, not anger nor frustration.  How grief is not from loss, but love. So I don't grieve for my husband because I have lost him, I know exactly where he is and I will see him again someday. But this grief is out of love, love that the Lord blessed the two of us with and will last forever.  Come to think

of never goes away...yes even though that person has been gone from my presence for over 13 years.  Love is eternal...God is eternal...God IS love...and "Love never fails". (how my husband always signed his cards and notes to me) I Corinthians 13: 8a

So what I am experiencing is all about love, how God loves us and how He has blessed me to be able to love others and miss their presence. How He has blessed me to feel with compassion for others that are fresh on a journey of living without the presence of a loved one. How He has blessed me to be able to turn my eyes upon Him and see HIS beauty and know without a shadow of a doubt that He knows what I am feeling at any given moment and does not judge me, but takes my hand and walks with me. He lifts my head, wipes my tears and assures me that I am not alone, He will never leave me nor forsake me. He IS my Glory and the lifter of my head. Psalms 3:3

Pastor A. mentioned this old hymn a couple of weeks ago. Written by C. Austin Miles in 1913, but it still rings so true for me today. It was one of my mother's favorite hymns and I
can still hear her singing it in her light soprano voice when I as a child, sat beside her in the choir loft at St. John Methodist church in South Carolina so many years ago...

I come to the garden alone 
while the dew is still on the roses, 
and the voice I hear falling on my ear, 
the Son of God discloses. 

And he walks with me, and he talks with me, 
and he tells me I am his own; 
and the joy we share as we tarry there, 
none other has ever known. 

He speaks, and the sound of his voice 
is so sweet the birds hush their singing, 
and the melody that he gave to me 
within my heart is ringing. 

And he walks with me, and he talks with me, 
and he tells me I am his own; 
and the joy we share as we tarry there, 
none other has ever known. 

"It is good to give thanks to the Lord, and to sing praises to Your name, O Most High;
To declare Your loving kindness in the morning, and Your faithfulness every night..."
Psalms 92:1-2

Thank You Lord for your faithfulness and thank You Holy Spirit for reminding me that I have so much to be thankful for.  :-)