Shout and Sing!

On my way home from MS to AL, I almost missed this sunflower field as I drove by. I had to smile! God knew I was tired and could use a little pick me up in the form of one of His blessings. I turned the car around, walked down the dirt road and took the best pictures I could get on my phone. He has scattered blessing in your path. Sometimes we just have to slow down, turn around, and breathe it in. Be on the lookout! Be blessed! To God Be the Glory!

Hills and Valleys

Whether you find yourself on a hill or in the lowest part of the valley, rest in knowing that God  is right there beside you. There is respect and praise that can be afforded in either location. If you are on the hilltops, you may be tempted to take your eyes off Christ and mistakenly believe that you are responsible for the view.  From the high places, never forget that you are there by the grace of God. The glory is not yours.  Praise is the best response to mountaintop experiences, not pride.

There are also lessons to be learned in the valleys, and opportunities to feel the presence of God like you never have before. He bestows grace when we are overcome by tears, despair and marching toward a full on meltdown. Be still and feel His hand holding yours as He “restores your soul.” (Psalm 23:3)

There is cool water and green pastures in the valley where we can rest in God’s arms in the most difficult of times. Praise in the valley is just as important as it is on the hilltops. Praise Him for His love, His Presence and His promise of Heaven where one day we will see His face. Look for what God wants you to learn in the midst of the pain. He never wastes a hurt.

The song “Hills and Valleys” by Tauren Wells is such a beautiful reminder of all of this.  Enjoy the song and God bless.  To God Be the Glory!

Conspicuous Absence

For those of you who thought I was no longer writing this blog, guess what–I am back! Please allow me to elaborate on my whereabouts during the past few months.  I can sum it up in two words…my dream.  I have been pursuing my dream.  This has been a scary process.  Many people never share their dreams for fear of being thought silly.  Dreams are notoriously BIG desires which seem unattainable by most.  However, when you add God into the mix along with His calling and purpose for your life, all things are possible.

My dream has always been to write a book that would glorify God.  Throughout my life, God has allowed experiences which have more than provided the subject matter needed for such a book. My dream was on the shelf, pushed way to the back as something that I would pursue one day. Deciding I was not getting any younger and forcing my hand by enrolling in a She Speaks writer’s conference, I bit the bullet. I will confess to the fact that withdrawing in time to receive a full refund was in my thoughts until the date passed.

I have to admit this has been a most difficult, emotional experience. Perhaps that explains my procrastination. You can dream about something forever, but you ultimately must face the reality that a dream requires much work and commitment.  Yes, God has helped me tremendously through this process, but He was not going to type the words on the computer for me. A dream requires action.

This was so beautifully demonstrated to me while walking in the park last week.  I apologize for the picture, but it was almost dark and the picture from my phone is out of focus. There was this baby duckling sitting all alone on a rock just above a stream of rushing water. He was terrified.  I wanted so badly to help him to smoother waters, but that was out of the question. I watched for a long time before walking away. He would barely dip his webbed foot into the water only to draw it back in fear. If only he knew that just a few feet away the water was more peaceful. He was still there twenty minutes later. 

Pursuing my dream has been much like that. I had it locked away somewhere safe in my mind as a future project. This blog has been an example of me dipping my toe in the water while being to fearful to take that leap of faith towards the dream. Of course, I had imagined many reasons for the delay.  God took them all away. Time was not a problem after a recent move and a lengthy delay in obtaining a dental hygiene license in a new state. It was clearly time to take the leap of faith.

The writing of my book has made it necessary for me to revisit and chronicle some very difficult experiences in my life.  I have cried, lost sleep and prayed diligently  through this process. Only God knows whether this book will one day be offered to the public, but I am better for the journey. You see, the time spent writing this book has caused me to revisit the presence and provision of God in every situation I have encountered throughout my life.  He never left my side, and God has used the most difficult of times to mold and shape me into His likeness. Hindsight is always 20/20. He is a good, good Father.

There has been a constant battle against Satan.  Fear–that is what he has used  to discourage me–fear that I have misinterpreted God’s plan for my life, fear of failure, fear of rejection. He knows these are all areas that would cause me the most pain. I am stronger for that battle.  I have learned a multitude of things about computer operation and book proposals.  Many thanks to my daughter, Miriam, for being my editor-in-chief throughout this part of the journey!

The dream is no longer mine.  I have placed it at the feet of God to do with as He will. If  this book is His will for me, I will be thrilled.  If God has other plans, then I know they will be better and serve a higher purpose. I am learning huge lessons about faith.

Please pray for me as I have the opportunity to present my book proposal to several publishers in the next few days.  Please pray for God’s will and Satan’s defeat. Thank you very much and may God bless you.  To God Be the Glory!

 

 

In Spite of Me

God is such a patient Heavenly Father, especially regarding my inconsistencies. I walk by His side for a while, but then like a willful child I jerk my hand away from His and reach for the reins. My demand for expediency in what I want takes first place and I get too big for my britches. I eventually find myself in the mud with the pigs like the Prodigal Child (Luke 15:11-32), miserable and longing for my Father. I come to my senses, repent and sheepishly slip my hand back into His welcoming, waiting hand. (Isaiah 41:13)   

On long road trips alone, I listen to Christian music, Joyce Meyer, and Beth Moore. Church in a car! Worship and praise in song followed by inspired words from anointed teachers.  Yesterday, God used Joyce to remind me (once again) I am not in control, never will be, and shouldn’t even want to be!  In my car, I prayed for God’s help in overcoming my yo-yo existence. It leaves me exhausted and truly only our Father knows best.

The answer to how to handle all those things we seek to control is well explained by Beth Moore. Download her “Living Proof Live” app and listen to the “The Basket Case” series. I am a recovering fixer/controller. Heck, that’s probably actually code for worrier, right!? My favorite part of the series is when Beth suggests that we handle any problem or concern like a “hot potato” and “cast it off to God.” Love the visual that evokes. Here’s a little mantra for you… PRAY, PITCH and PRAISE! I literally pitch my problems toward heaven while I pray.

We all grow closer to God and become more like Christ when we come against Goliath’s in our lives. We can’t have growth and control at the same time because we can’t see down the road to how God will use these tough times. Our job is to keep our eyes on God and not on the problem. The problem blinds us, worries us, makes us want to find a quick way out, and gives Satan a foothold.

The words of the printable above (found under Freebies) are from the movie “The Shack” an allegory based on the book written by Wm. Paul Young. I walked away from the movie realizing that continued focus on my pain and staying in the ditch I was wallowing in kept me from experiencing God’s love, joy and all that His Son, Jesus, died on the cross for me to have.  I have wasted way too much of my life staring at my pain and instead of the Lifter of My Head. (Psalm 3:3)

Better to “cast off” my burdens one at time like a “hot potato” than to drag them behind me in a fifty pound sack or allow them to become a mountain that blocks my view of God. (A joint Beth and Joyce analogy!) Time to armor up (Ephesians 6), fight to keep my eyes on God and follow His lead in the midst of the trials that most certainly will come our way. (John 16:33)  Lets press on, remembering all the while that Heaven awaits us! It will be worth it all when we see Jesus! To God Be the Glory!

 

 

 

New Every Morning

Last week Spring arrived in Huntsville in full glory. Though many flowers and trees in the valley had already bloomed, the trees on the mountain still looked brown and barren. On Monday, I could see spots of green popping up on my morning walks with Max. Each day, more and more trees leafed out, and on Friday the mountainside was completely garbed in varying shades of green. It is beautiful!

The shrubbery around our apartment complex also caught my attention. Literally, from one morning to the next the existing plants were topped off with bright green, new growth which stands out  in stark contrast to the leaves that had weathered winter.

The fresh, newness of each day reminded me of this verse:

Lamentations 3:22-23  (ESV)  “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.

How awesome! We are blessed to begin every day with a clean slate in the eyes of God. What happened yesterday did not, does not change His steadfast love for us. Why? If we have confessed the sins of yesterday, God has no memory of them. His love is unconditional and faithful. Praise the Lord!

Enjoy the beauty of Spring around you. As rains soak the ground to nurture all of this new life, allow the living water of God’s word to promote growth and beauty in yours. Greet the dawn of tomorrow with arms wide open to receive His mercies for the day. Smile! Then go tell somebody about our good, good Father. To God Be the Glory!

Modern Day Disciples

When Jesus sent out His disciples in Matthew, Chapter 10, He had very specific instructions, warnings and words of wisdom. The disciples were given “authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.” (vs. 1) I feel sure that sounded pretty awesome. However, they were also informed in vs. 17 and 18 about imprisonment and floggings. Jesus said in vs 16, “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves.” Not sounding quite so awesome…right?! Let’s dig a bit deeper into the chapter.

As a child I remember being particularly disturbed by vs. 37-38 which says, “Anyone who loves his father or mother more that me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.”  At seven years old my dad did his best to explain this to me.  I wanted to be worthy of Jesus, but I loved my family so much.  How could I ever choose one over the other?

This verse is definitely one that requires more Christian maturity and understanding than the mind of a seven-year old. Yet years later at 57, I ask myself would I decidedly choose Jesus over my family, my friendships, my own life ?  In truth, we want to believe these are choices we would never have to make, but  this scripture is quite clear. Current events bear truth to this as we witness people choose Jesus, standing firm in their faith, and losing life on earth to gain eternity in Heaven. It can and does happen.

“Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge before my Father in Heaven. But whoever disowns me before men, I will also disown before my Father in Heaven.” (Matthew 10:32-33)

When my devotional time led me to this scripture, I was reminded of the cost of following Christ. I was reminded I need to live my life more intentionally, sending down deep roots in my relationship with Him because we never know what tomorrow will bring. Not that we are to worry, but we should be prepared to stand for our Lord, making Him and His will for our lives  first choice.

People need to see the light of Jesus shining through us no matter what the cost. Untangle yourself from anything forcing Jesus off the throne of your life. Seek first The One who is most important, not the things, the people and approval this world offers instead. Your family members are dear to your heart, but you minister to them the best when you are led by God to bear witness to them.

Please take time to read the entirety of Matthew 10 to hear more of Jesus’ words to the disciples. Take note, be encouraged, live with purpose. Walk in grace, in trust and in faith, knowing Jesus will never leave your side. This world needs disciples. WE are those disciples, and two thousand years later, this scripture holds true for us. Prepare a way for The Lord! To God Be the Glory!

Another Unbelievable God Wink

God’s timing is always perfect. He knows the best and the worst of what we are going through each day, even when it concerns a beloved pet. He knows about the specials things we love that minister to our souls when life is going crazy bad. God often scatters these special comforts along the way to remind us of His presence and never-failing love. Yesterday, He did that again for me, and I call them God winks.

We received word yesterday that our dog, Max, has cancer. Now I know he is just a dog, but he is a very special little fellow given to me at a time of great loneliness.  He has provided countless daily smiles, made us laugh and love, and been a friend when I felt like I had none. He has been our empty nest child who chewed up my Crocs as a puppy… only the left shoe of several pairs mind you. Perhaps he was attempting to save me from a fashion faux pas. My daughter certainly thought so!

As my tears fell, Max decided he wanted to go outside. Just four steps into the grass was this beautiful Tiger Swallowtail butterfly seemingly stuck to the ground. I rushed back inside to get my camera praying it would be there when I returned. I am a lover of all butterflies and I wanted to document this perfectly timed God wink. I wanted you to witness first hand His faithfulness.

I have never seem a butterfly shiver, but this one was. I am sure it was must have wondered why its presence was required on such a cold day certainly too early in the season for butterflies to be out and about. It sat completely stationary (except for the shivering) for a series of seven photos before flying away.

Only God could have arranged that moment… the moment when Max needed to go outside, the direction he walked, and the sighting of this butterfly just minutes before it flew away. This was not a coincidence. It was a moment of comfort, a gift from God and a reminder of His presence through this time. I was praising through the tears and the photo shoot.  It’s a wonder any of the pictures were correctly focused!

God does these things for you, too.  Purposefully look for him in your every day moments, through the good and the bad.  He’s there for you with your own specially tailored God winks!  When you see them, praise God for His steadfast love and presence. What a comforter! What a wonderful Father we have! To God Be the Glory!

(Search God Winks on the home page to read of other moments like this!)