Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Hay House Tour Derailed: God Sustains

photo @ en.wikipedia.org
As my husband and I celebrated our 24th wedding anniversary earlier this week, we spent some time touring locally and enjoying places we've never been. It seems quite ironic that a person could live in the same area for 38 years and yet never enjoy the local history! However, that is the case with me. I'm so glad we took a moment in time to do so. Now I can say I've been there and oh, how much we enjoyed ourselves! 
We toured the beautiful Italian Renaissance styled home in Macon, called the Hay House. It was also known as the Palace of the South and was built in the late 1850's. (Click here to see pics and learn more about the Hay House.) I especially love this style and period in time. I don't know, something about the symmetry and balance seems safe and peaceful to me and everything just oozes with art; it was my absolute favorite period to study in Humanities class during my high school years. 
This home was way ahead of its time for the Macon area. It had hot and cold running water, a speaker-tube system, central heat, and an in-house kitchen. Yet, the place I found most interesting was a room on the ground floor. While I can't remember what the tour guide referred to it being called back in the day, it was actually a pantry of sorts where meat and other foods were stored. What was amazing to me about this room, and stood out boldly in my mind, was the fact that it was the only room in this magnificent 24-room home with bars on the windows. You know, the kind of bars put there for protection of the contents within. It's true, other rooms held fine china, boasted of beautiful tapestries and displayed priceless pieces of sculpture and artwork, yet these rooms were not safely protected to the same level as the pantry. Something struck a chord within me and lights and sirens went off in my head...
...NOTHING in this house was as important or more valuable as the life sustaining properties of the contents within this room. (That's a fancy way of saying, "I'm not letting anything happen to my grub!) I totally disembarked from the commentary of our guide and muttered silently to myself, "Hmm, they protected and valued what would sustain them - food. The other "pretty things" in life weren't protected, but that which sustained them was - at all cost." Without the necessary elements to sustain life being present, nothing else would matter anyhow. Then I thought: what sustains me? The best and only answer I could think up was GOD! 
I thought of how God is the most important part of my life and the part that should be carefully guarded at all costs. I thought of how God sustained His grumbling children in the desert. The Bible says, 
"Yea, forty years didst thou sustain them in the wilderness, 
so that they lacked nothing; their clothes waxed not old, 
and their feet swelled not." (Nehemiah 9:21) 

What a beautiful picture of a loving God, who cares for and upholds us, even in the midst of our hardheadedness and times of complaining. He sustains us!
As the words of our sweet tour guide began to slowly penetrate my mind once again, I thought to myself: Yes, it is true, only God can satisfy my every longing and supply my every need. Only He can sustain me. And that's worth putting bars in the windows for. 

Hope you enjoyed this quick informal tour today. If you enjoyed it, please take a moment to click below this post to share it with your friends by email or on FB, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. We all need to be reminded to protect our most valuable resource - what sustains us. God bless~

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

But For Now

"For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come..." Hebrews 10:37

There's a little girl sitting quietly in her special place, hiding away from the bustle of the crowd. She's peeking secretly through cracks of a white privacy fence, just hoping to catch a glimpse of him coming down the road. Nobody can see her, as she sits alone, watching alertly, listening closely for those familiar footsteps to draw near. She whispers so only she can hear, "Just a while longer now, girl...hold on."

I have dreams, I hope you do too. I have longings, desires, hopes and many prayers on a list just waiting to be answered. I know there will be a "sometime" which will eventually sprinkle the landscape of my (and your) life with a beautiful display of flowers on a perfectly picturesque day. I know at some point the "coming to pass" will brighten our days and bring so much happiness and sweet laughter our way. How refreshing it will be then, probably a bit like those spastic blue-trimmed dragonflies feel as they dance upon cool pools of water on a bright sunshiny day. I know, on the inside, we'll all jump with joy like fluttering butterflies in the breeze on a hot, summer day when we witness the answers-to and healings-of. But for now, "Just hold on a little while longer, my dear." 

You see, at times, those perfectly, whimsical days we dream up take longer to come around than we anticipate, and those warm, spring days we long for can only surprise us after cold, harsh winters. Those precious dreams we pack carefully away in the recesses of our minds can only be realized after the darkest of nights. The longings and desires we've safely filed away within our hearts are often stained with disappointment and the evilness of living in a sinful world. The quiet, innocent smile of a sweet, little girl so often turns into a rather subtle grin that's almost completely missed if it's not being searched for. But for now, "Just hold on a little bit longer, girl."

Yes, we all dream. Long for. Anticipate. Pray for. Hope. And await...there's nothing wrong with that. But for now, in the meantime, while you wait...listen closely to the pitter-patter of raindrops upon your rooftop (it says you have a place to call home), savor carefully the piece of fresh-baked bread you eat at dinner time (yes, you have food to eat). Be thankful. As beads of sweat dampen your brow, work with all your might for there is strength in your body. Recognize the feel of soft, tenderness or gentle strength in the hands you hold in your own. Take time to love. There's a blessing to be savored in the simplest of things life affords us. Yes, we want our big dreams to become reality and our earnest prayers to be answered. But for now..."hold on, your answer's coming."

Very soon He'll come around the corner, His footsteps will draw near, and everything else will fade to nothingness. His sweet voice you'll hear: "I am here, my child, do not fear." No more waiting behind that white fence, no more watching, no more praying, no more dreaming or hoping - our every desire will be satisfied - we'll be with Him forever.  But for now...

Dear Lord, 
Help me to dream, hope for and wait well
While in this world, it might not come to pass
But there will always be something to celebrate
Let me focus on "now" and know
one day soon, You'll more than make up for 
each one that didn't come to pass.
And it won't matter a bit...but for now~ 

Friday, July 24, 2015

Learning "God Stuff"

"Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." - 2 Timothy 2:15

We were starting to burn the midnight oil...my daughter and I...which was just perfectly fine with me. I considered it a special blessing to have my eighteen-year-old want to talk with me about "God stuff". (I suddenly DIDN'T have the "parent plague"!) I was excited even though I was a bit tired. As we talked, the Lord began to open my eyes and I realized that the stuff we were talking about, the things I was explaining to her just so happened to be the same topic on which I'd been studying, reading and allowing God to speak into my own life about this week. I went from being tired to being excited! Isn't He awesome like that!?

Honestly, I'll be the first to admit, I don't have it all together. I still fall, makes mistakes, become disappointed, etc. "What? You don't have that problem?" (Asked with a sweet smile on my face.) I know I can't be the only one. Why, just today I'm reminded that even us adults sometimes have one of those tea parties we'd rather not talk about..you know the special, private ones - the "pity parties." We're none exempt from the struggles normal, growing, maturing Christians face. The difference is we have a loving, forgiving, patient God on our side while we're doing it!  Psst...here's a little secret....He'll even join our tea party if we'll invite Him. He longs for us to pour our hearts out to Him so He can help us grow. Our party can have a transformation with Him as Guest of Honor.

Anyhow, let me get back on track. (Train derail under control. It was a good side note though.) I was so excited about how the Lord worked it all out like He did. Did I mention? Amazing! As we chatted, the Lord brought things back to my memory which I had read earlier in the week - things I had studied. I was able to reply to my daughter's questions with confidence. (No accolades for me. All the praise goes to God.) I felt assured He was right there leading and directing me in what I was saying. I did my part, now He was doing His. It does take time to unplug from everything that's going on in our busy days, and it seems impossible some days; but, it's so worth it. Especially when we can see it so vividly unfold like I did last night. I was so thankful that I had set aside time to study and learn - that the Bible was coming to life right there in my living room. I felt privileged to share what I had learned with my sweet daughter and thankful to the Lord for making it all possible.

So, from the girl who still has the desire to learn more, who knows she's far from the goal of obtaining all God has for her, who often needs to be taught and instructed, and who definitely needs to study more...if I can do it, so can you. Just set aside a few minutes. It doesn't have to be hours. A few minutes each day will go a long way. We might not be able to provide all the right answers every time, but God will smile on us with His approval and help us if we make an effort to do our part. The new school year is quickly approaching...as children go back to school, let us adults dive headfirst  into learning more of "God stuff." Who's waiting on you to share what you've learned along the way? Happy studying~



Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Not Expected...But Accepted

"To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:"
Ecclesiastes 3:11


Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." - Albert Einstein

Well, I've come to the conclusion that I suffer from this condition called INSANITY. 

Not really. But you know, whenever I keep expecting things to turn out according to my "expectation meter" and I continually keep being disappointed time after time again because sometimes it just never happens...maybe it's time for me to re-evaluate my expectations. (I say "my" because I'm sure you don't have a problem with this same issue.) The truth is, sometimes it does happen. It's reality. It's life.

There are times when it's only logical to sit down and look at what season of life we're in and what's reasonable and what is not. For example, I cannot expect to enjoy sunny afternoons basking in the hot, summer sun beside the pool if it is winter time, right? I know that's quite an insane example but often we put ourselves in similarly ridiculous modes of expectation. For instance, I cannot expect to have a perfectly set and decorated dinner table (like the ones you see on Pinterest or FB), complete with a delicious gourmet meal, set out for my family every night of the week if I work a full-time job. On the other hand, if I am unemployed or retired, that very ideal might be an easy and a real possibility if that's what I desire.

Case-in-point from my own life: Almost every mother dreams of having their family close to home, kind of like the Waltons back in the day, you know. That doesn't always happen though in the modernized world we live in. My precious grands live miles and states away. (Most days I'm alright with that fact, some days I'm on meltdown because of it. The truth will set you free!)
My 2 Lovely Grands
The fact is, that's just life. We have to learn to deal with a new normal. Will I be there to see every milestone, to celebrate every holiday...probably not. I can choose to fall into the pit of despair (thankfully I have people in my life who help me out when I go there on occasion) and continually be disappointed or I can re-evaluate the situation. Re-evaluating for me means being satisfied using Skype to have face-to-face time with the little munchkins, it means saving a text that little princess wants Noni to come over and have a tea party with her, it means treasuring pictures and videos sent by family members of the little ones doing ordinary every-day things (like their rendition of a barking dog) and even looking forward to a 5-hour drive to meet half-way for a few hours or overnight. (Did I tell you I hate traveling?!) It's not what I expected, but its what I am accepting.

What is it that continually causes you to be "let down" over and over again? Are there relationships, situations, dreams that you've had for a long time that just aren't working out the way you'd anticipated? Do health issues or a disability keep you bogged-down? Are you unable to travel now that you're retired? Does the death of a loved one keep you from following through with the plans you had made together for this part of your life? I'm sure we can all relate in one area of another. But the Bible says, "to everything there is a season", this season might just look a little different. We can still find joy when we realize the old hopes and dreams are weighing us down and we learn to do it differently. Don't suffer from the insanity of it all, re-evaluate and learn to enjoy this season God has given you. Don't be ashamed or embarrassed for having to re-evaluate if you find you're having to be pulled out of the pit! After all, He knew just what your life would be during this season. It didn't catch Him off guard and He's a very present help. Remember, it's not what I (or you) expected, but it's what I am accepting. Be encouraged~


Blessings

You can now follow me on Bloglovin' - do so in the left hand column of my blog. If you like what you see, please pass the word along and share with your friends.

Hoping everyone has a beautifully blessed day...
remember, Jesus is the answer to every 
situation and 
He's more than enough for you today.

God bless you~

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

A Lesson from the Trees

Psalms 96:12 - "...then shall all the trees of the wood rejoice." 

The other day, I took a few lazy minutes to observe the trees. I watched and listened as their leaves rustled and danced, joyfully in the wind. While I could have thought of a million other things at that moment, the thought that crossed my mind was this: They are praising God and bringing Him pleasure, simply by standing there doing what they're meant to do...just being trees.

You know, when we were children, we dreamed big. Remember that routine question adults would ask, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" As if on cue, our creative, ambitious, little minds would shift into overdrive as we contemplated all the grand and glorious possibilities. A doctor. A firefighter. A lawyer. Even as a child, we knew not to settle for less than the best we could think up.

Although those childhood dreams might not have come to fruition, as adults we still dream. If we're a seamstress, we want to be the best around. If we're a realtor, we desire to be Realtor of the Year. No matter what we are, we're always striving to improve. We take classes, study, try to move up the corporate ladder, etc. (Just a note, there's nothing wrong with desiring to better ourselves if we remain humble and in God's will along the way.)

What about our service, in the Kingdom? If you're the church janitor, be the best one you can be. If you vacuum the sanctuary or mow the church yard, do it to the best of your ability. If you're a Sunday School teacher or lead a small group or Bible study, do it with all your might as unto the Lord. If you pick up people for church or feed the less fortunate or lead a youth group or if you're simply a greeter - bring God pleasure and praise from right where He's planted you. 

 "Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; 
and before thou camest forth out of the womb
 I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee..."
Jeremiah 1:5 

 The point I want to make is this: We don't have to be "all that and a bag of chips" to BE something in the Kingdom of God. He had a certain plan for us from birth and gave us certain talents to fulfill our role. We don't necessarily have to preach a huge conference overseas and see thousands of people give their lives to Christ or be used in the areas of healing or prophecy. (There's a spot and room for everyone in the body!) We don't have to be in a specific "position" to bring Him pleasure. All we have to do is serve God to the best of our ability - RIGHT WHERE WE'RE AT. You see, we don't have to be something "bigger and better" to give God our best praise. Be what God designed you to be, do it with all your heart... this will bring pleasure and praise to your Creator. There's no better place or thing for us to BE. A lesson from the trees~

Monday, July 20, 2015

Plug In

I decided to spend a quiet evening doing one of my favorite things...reading. I settled into my cozy spot with my book and glasses, then reached to turn on my reading lamp...nothing. I flipped the switch again...still nothing. I was getting up to search for a new light bulb, when my eye caught sight of the problem. The lamp wasn't plugged in! A simple fix...plug in.

I thought about my spiritual life. You know, the Bible says, "But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you..." (Acts 1:8) - POWER. We should be lit up and shining brightly in this dark, evil world. The point is, we must stay plugged in to the correct power source to do so. It does no good, as I found out with my lamp, to have the power source available and not plug in. It simply makes no sense at all.

Life happens to us all. Some days we need strength, sometimes we need healing. There are times when we need protection and still other times when we need peace or restoration. We cannot escape the possibility and probability of needing things in this lifetime. However, if we're plugged in to our Power Source, we'll have all we need no matter what we're faced with. If we're plugged in, we have an unlimited supply of anything and everything we could ever need. Philippians 4:19, says "...my God shall supply all your need..." and He can do it with absolutely no problem. 

Don't try to handle life on your own. Let's settle in to our cozy spot - underneath His wings - for our source of ____________.  (You fill in the blank.) Whatever we may need, God is. We can have the assurance that God is always in control and has the power we need to bring us through any situation. We need not worry about our light dimming during those hard times when we're plugged in to our Power Source. We can shine brightly, even in the midst of trials, tragedy, and pain. Be encouraged...plug in and stay put.


Go Get Grace



"Go get Grace...", she whispered and I quietly went to get her. Simple. I didn't think much about it at the time; however, while I was reading later on that evening, it hit me like a ton of bricks. GO GET GRACE!

You may be wondering, "Why do I need grace?" That's simple, my friend. We all fail, we're all guilty of sin, and no matter how hard we try each day, we'll never be good enough within our own abilities. It's something we understand best in the midst of sin, heartache, brokenness and suffering of this world. The wages of sin is death, but grace makes us alive. "But by the grace of God I am what I am..." I Corinthians 15:10, the apostle knew full well about the grace of God. We ALL need grace.

Yes, it's something every one of us needs. Something that none of us deserve. It can't be earned. Can't be bought. It is a gift God gives us, simply because He loves us. Amazing, huh? God's grace offers us salvation and the hope of eternity with Him. Yet, on a daily basis, His grace gives us strength to handle life's difficulties and trials. It provides us with guidance...but we have "Go get Grace." 

Remember, grace is a gift. God is a gentleman. If we want the grace of God to shine down on us and make a difference in our lives, we're going to have to go the the One who gives it - the Gift Giver. We can't be afraid or ashamed to admit that we need grace working in our lives. We have to unwrap the gift we've been blessed with and accept it. He's always there to help us, but we have to realize our desperate need. We can't do anything on our own without His grace. 

Today, I found Grace. When I did, I brought her back with me. God wants to bestow upon each of us this gift of grace. He has great things in mind for us. Now, we know where to find it. It's not a secret. We don't have to be hampered by the hopelessness of our sin and failures, Jesus paid the ultimate price to extend grace (and mercy) to us. All we have to do is go to Him, we're promised He won't send us back empty-handed. "But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound:" Romans 5:20. Now, go get grace.

Lord, I often forget that grace is a gift from you.
Help me to realize I don't have to be bound by the sentence of sin.
I can open this gift you've provided and grow in grace.
Thank you that your grace exceeds my sin,
I can rest in knowing your grace is sufficient for me.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Victory in the Tussle

Had an old song run through my mind today that I heard as a child. I can hear it being sung as I close my eyes and be quiet...

Me and the devil had a tussle
And I won
Me and the devil had a tussle
And I won
I hate the devil
He hates me
Me and that old devil just don't agree
Me and the devil had a tussle
And I won

Sometimes you've just got to stand in the middle of the ring (black-eyes, bruises, wounds and all) and proclaim, "I WON!" In your face devil! Even if you don't feel like you're winning, it just might be that strong, right hook of confusion which knocks him out. Faith in God will help us endure every round of the boxing match. I don't know who to give credit for this little tune, but I give God all the credit and glory for giving us the power to overcome - every time.

Hope someone is standing with me today. Arms held high in victory. It's alright if you're beaten a bit, and swaying under the pressure of the fight. Greater is He that is in us than He that is in the world. We are overcomers by the word of our testimony. Keep fighting....keep winning. Can I get an "AMEN!"

S.O.S.


I'm just like you, you're just like me...we're all human beings - flesh and blood. We all have times in our lives when we could use a little boost. Maybe its as simple as a pat on the back, an encouraging word, a small gift...a smile, a sweet card or even a homemade meal or a piece of pound cake. Sometimes the smallest thing done in a kind, loving manner can be just the dose of encouragement someone might need to brighten their day and help them hang on a little bit longer. 

There are hurting and needy people all over our world, in our country, state, neighborhood...and our local churches. We might not be able to make much of a difference in those far away, but we have every opportunity to make a difference in the lives of those we rub shoulders each week. What would happen if we took notice of a fallen countenance and said a prayer then reached out, wrote a note or offered to lend a helping hand...or just simply offered our hand to hold. What would happen if we stopped long enough to meet a need? To show compassion?

That's what Jesus' ministry here on earth included. As He went about teaching from city to city, He saw needs, was moved with compassion and reached out to touch those people. He touched them. He sat down with them. He ate with them. He spoke. He cared. He loved enough to temporarily cease His travels to take time for them. He showed us there are needs everywhere, He gave us an excellent example to follow and showed us there's a reward in caring for someone else and meeting a need if we are able.

Now, I know you and I can't meet every need and fix every problem. Only God can do that. Like I said, we're human; however, there are things we can do to make a difference - to lighten someone's load. That's what I'm talking about. We each have a unique, God-given way to do so. He's given us each abilities and strengths to, in our own way, reach out and make a difference. Let's not be intimidated to do so. The Bible is packed full of commands to prefer our brother, to show love and to serve. Let's do it. It is rewarding and it always comes full circle.

Someone in need is waiting right now, for us to put our own agendas aside and reach out to them. Will we take the challenge? Will we answer the call for help and allow God to help us make a difference? Not in a big, outlandish way...just a small, simple gesture will do. It's a blessing...I bet you can't do it just once!

"For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, 
which ye have shewed toward his name, 
in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister."  
Hebrews 6:10

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Lost Ticket...It's Required

Don't lose it...it may cost you more than you 
want to pay in the end.

Yesterday we arrived at the airport to pick up my mother, we waited in line to push a little red button, which would spit out a little parking ticket. Upon receiving it, we drove into the parking deck and found a vacant parking space. We walked hand-in-hand (yes, we still do so...after 24 years!) into the airport, found our favorite coffee shop, gave our orders, then sat down to enjoy our delicious "cup-a" while we waited for the plane to arrive. We sat and watched many passers-by scramble to catch their flight, a bouquet laden little boy anticipated soon arrival of a loved one, pilots and airline stewards slipped quickly in and out of the bathroom on their way to the next gate, etc. 
My mother arrived and we exchanged hellos and hugs, then headed toward baggage claim. Within minutes we were headed back out to our car with luggage in tow. (What a nice blessing, her luggage had come around the corner right as we stepped up to the conveyor belt. A small miracle!) After exiting the airport, my husband reached into his pocket to grab our parking ticket for quick-pay at the kiosk...and IT was nowhere to be found. No big deal, after looking in every place imaginable, we decided we'd simply tell the cashier we "lost" our ticket. Simple. Problem solved.
Only it wasn't. Much to our dismay, our "lost ticket" cost us the maximum daily parking fee of $36.00 and extra time wasted for the cashier to make phone calls to airport security, take down our tag number, and look at my husband's drivers license. Our little mishap had cost us $32.00 extra plus precious time!
I thought of the 10 virgins in Matthew 25. What a price they had to pay...sure, they brought their lamps but they had no oil. They missed out on meeting the bridegroom and being in the marriage ceremony because they were searching for what they should've already had. It's such a simple comparison, yet how often are we careless in our relationship with God? What does it cost us to go a day without praying? A day without reading His Word? A day of frivolity and not being sensitive to the Lord? A day without touching another heart? What does it cost us to lose our savor or for our light to become dim? (More verses from Matthew.)
It might not seem like much of a big deal at the time, but there will come a "pay-up" time and we will be presented to the Bridegroom. Will we be ready with what's required or will we find ourselves scrambling frantically for the important things we lost along the way?  It won't just be a parking ticket or a piece of luggage then. Certainly, a $36.00 parking ticket is a minor thing when compared to our soul in the light of eternity. Let's not allow anything to distract us...don't lose your ticket...IT'S REQUIRED.

Dear Lord, help us to be mindful that you are the most important thing
in our lives. Help us not to be nonchalant in our living for you. Help us to do
so with purpose. You are coming back soon and we want to have
everything in order and be ready. Don't let us lose
what is most important in the light of eternity.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Days of Our Lives

Some days we find ourselves moving right along through life, cruising along with the top down, singing loudly, wind blowing through our hair...everything is great.

Some days we find ourselves moving right along through life, climbing tall mountains, sweat dripping from our brow and our muscles are aching and tired. Everything is still good, but it seems a bit more intense and takes a lot of strength and willpower to keep on climbing. 

Some days we find ourselves moving right along through life, just struggling to stay on the path our life has taken. It's bumpy and the tires of our bike seem to be losing air pressure with each mile. Every mud puddle we hit slows us down and we are desperately looking and longing for the end of the trail. We're making it, but we don't know how much further we can go. We're weak and tired.

Some days we find ourselves moving right along through life, fighting for every single step we take. And suddenly...we fall flat on our face into a mud puddle. We were trying to hold out, to keep on keeping on...but we didn't quite win that certain battle. We find ourselves lying there with tears streaming down our face - feeling alone and afraid.

Yes, some days are like that...one thing always remains true no matter what kind of day we might have, but especially when we have those tear-filled days. We don't have to be ashamed of any tears we shed, even Jesus cried at times when He was overwhelmed with sorrow. The shortest verse in the Bible is "Jesus wept."

So, in those lonely, muddy, dark times, it's alright if you can't quite hold it together. Rest assured that God will wipe away every tear. He will strengthen and sustain you and before long you'll be having one of those days where you're cruising along, singing tunes and enjoying the wind blowing through your hair again. It won't be long now, just hold on.  Don't be discouraged or lose hope. He knows right where to find you and He hears the soft cries even now...have faith, little one, fear not, He is with you today no matter what the conditions are. He is near - every day of your life.

 "Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness."  Isaiah 41:10

Monday, July 13, 2015

Where We Belong

WARNING! We're on the edge of a cliff...we have a choice. To turn around and go back or hang on and enjoy this amazing new view. 

I wonder how David felt when, in one day, he went from being an ordinary shepherd to anointed King over Israel? I wonder how Esther felt in her role as queen after being just an ordinary girl for so many years? What about Peter, who went from being a rough fisherman to holding the keys to the kingdom? We know from reading their stories that these people stood out and became mightily used of God...but how did they feel at first? In the beginning? Did it feel awkward? Did they wonder, "How did I end up here? Is this really where I belong?"

The Lord tells us that when we are in Christ, we are new creatures. (2 Corinthians 5:17) It's easy to understand that. Yet, as we grow in Christ, things within us begin to change. We begin to take on His nature. We learn to overcome obstacles, respond differently, etc.. We grow. We change from what we were to more of what God intends for us to be - and that's the whole idea anyhow, isn't it?

Whenever the light comes on and I realize I'm making progress in a certain area, a few things happen. At first it feels kind of awkward. You see, it kind of goes like this for me:

1) There is a sense of relief as I realize I finally "got it",
 2) a moment of awe that God helped me through it
 3) and then, that moment where the enemy mocks quietly:
 "You don't really have it together, you're going to mess 
up again. You don't deserve to be here! Your fake, go back
 to what your comfortable with. This isn't YOU!"

Wow! That's a lot to take in, isn't it? He's such a wimp! He knows when we're weak and unsure - when we're learning to take baby steps in a new area. However, we know that God has wonderful plans for us. Our greatest enemy knows that too and he hates us for it. He'd rather us stay stuck in the muck or jump off the cliff - just NEVER move forward. He'll fight tooth and toenail to see God's wonderful works spoiled. Just give him a chance!

I wonder at times if David didn't feel totally out of his league. Was there ever a moment when he heard the evil whispers: "You belong with the sheep, not in the palace."? Was there ever a brief moment when Esther questioned God's plan for her - even in such a time as this? They were normal people just like us. Remember the anguish Peter felt as he realized he had failed Jesus? How the enemy must have laughed and mocked him during that low point in his life! But God didn't give up on Peter...and Peter didn't give up on God. It was a growing experience. He stood on that cliff with a choice.

When we find ourselves in a NEW place in God, if we're growing and changing with Him, we just have to hang in there, knowing that it won't always feel comfortable at first. We might even feel a bit fake at times. After all, we've always acted a bit differently in this situation before. True, it's a different view from up here, but as we grow into this new way of life, it will become second nature to us. Until that happens, let's not listen to the enemy who'd rather have us jump off and totally ruin God's plan. Don't listen to his evil whispers of "WARNING!" Let's trust our Guide to lead us completely and safely to new heights in Him. Soaring with Him to new and unknown heights is definitely where we belong.

 But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.  Isaiah 40:31

Saturday, July 11, 2015

BF's & a Latte

Sometimes a girl just needs her best friend and a cup of latte...nothing else will do...

And God will give her the desire of her heart, just because He can and because He loves us so much. You see, God made us to crave relationship; the first and most important, being with Him - absolutely nothing can take place of that relationship. Yet, He knew we'd need someone to walk this road of life with, to share our ups and downs, to help encourage in our low times, to help us stay focused and on the right path - and to celebrate with us when all is well. Friendships, I'd say, are pretty important in our lives and they are a blessing from above.

Friends help carry our burdens when life gets too tough for us to handle alone. (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10) A friend will always bring you back to Jesus when you lose your focus. There are so many things to be said about godly friendships that I won't even begin to try and mention them all lest I run out of blog space today. True enough though...friendships are a gift from God. If you have a such a friend, be thankful and take special care of that relationship. Go above and beyond. I thank God for the BF's He's placed in my life. I am extremely blessed!

Yes, sometimes there's nothing else that will do but to sit across the table from your best friend. There's nothing more therapeutic than sipping a latte and sharing your heart. There's nothing as beautiful in those times than seeing a smile spread across her kind face and knowing that she cares deep enough to sit there and listen to you download. Her reply of tender words then helps you regain your focus once again. A whispered prayer together. A squeeze of your hand. A hug. There's nothing like sharing those special times of God-ordained friendship. Refreshing. Strengthening. Encouraging. Uplifting. Just the way God intended friendships to work. "Iron sharpeneth iron..." (Proverbs 27:17)

If you have one of those friends, send them a special thanks today. Let her know how special she is to you and how much you appreciate and love her. Pray for her. Bless her. If you're in need of a latte today, let her know; she might need one too. Just might be that a table-for-two in your favorite, local, coffee shop is just what the doctor (or God!) ordered. Two lattes...coming right up...be blessed, my friend.

“You have not chosen one another, but I have chosen you for one another.” 

 - C.S. Lewis

Friday, July 10, 2015

Consuming Fire

There are some days when we need a forest fire...in our minds. At least I do. Maybe you're different and have it all together. God bless you if so. He's still working on me.

My adventurous, teenage son had been asked to burn a scrap pile around the back of the house. He willingly did so as I went about my business. I thought nothing of it; he had done this many times before. Except, on this particular day he was in a hurry to get somewhere...and apparently the fire wasn't completely extinguished before he decided all was well and left. I walked past the kitchen window a while later and saw...smoke. Wait, that was supposed to be gone by now! Upon further inspection I realized the wooded area around the back of my house was on fire...and I was now home alone! Needless to say, we were the new, not-so-proud owners of quite a large area of "black grass" in our backyard. The fire burned quickly, consuming everything in its path. 

I'll be transparent right here and admit: some days the thoughts that attempt to hang out in my mind are not "pure, lovely, of good report..." - Uugh! There, I said it. I didn't say these were the thoughts I wanted to be on my mind...it's just the ones that slip through the cracks occasionally. You know the kind:

"I keep messing everything up."  
"No matter what I do, it will be wrong."
" I think others will be better off right now if I just stay to myself till I get it together."
"I'm a failure! How can I please God?"
"There's no hope."

Maybe you can add to the list. Face it, some days we're just not as vigilant and on guard as we should be for one reason or another. (Am I by myself in this dilemma?) It's on those days that we need to let a forest fire burn within our minds. We have the best fire starter available. As much as He is a God of love, He is also a consuming fire. (Hebrews 12:29) You might wonder, "How can something that destroys - save at the same time?" Romans 12:2, "...but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind..."  - this is how it happens. Allowing God to issue a controlled burn - until all we're left with is a patch of proof that something was there. Those invasive thoughts aren't from God anyhow.

As Paul Harvey is known for...here's the rest of the story: Following the "black grass" stage, we were the proud owners of beautiful, luscious green grass...but only in that patch of the yard which had been burned. That's the way our minds can be once we allow God to purge them. We don't have to allow those thoughts to continually bombard us and make us feel defeated. We have a choice. Don't hide away because it's ugly, let Him transform your thoughts into something beautiful.

 

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

A Story for His Glory (Part 3 of The Cup Series)

"Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:" Philippians 1:6

He chuckled at my endeavor. (Just for the record, he didn't understand the whole concept.)
He had to keep coming back to check my progress. 
"How's it going? Are you getting it?," he'd grin and say.
Quite honestly, those questions kind of irritated me a bit. YES, I was going to get it and NO, it was not going to be perfect; but I was going to be completely satisfied with the outcome. Why? Because it wasn't meant to be perfect anymore...it was meant to be new. A story, an experience I can share.
 As I was gingerly gluing my cup back together, I quickly realized just how difficult the task was going to be. Wow! It wasn't as easy as I'd first anticipated. The pieces just didn't fit back together quite right and some of them were so tiny and fragile. There were gaping cracks, but I was OK with that! Finally.
I thought about how my sweet husband kept coming in to "check" on my progress and I wondered how many times that happens while God tries to put our broken pieces back together. How many times does the devil (or well-meaning "friends") or we ourselves come around to check up on how it's coming along? How any times are we tempted to be impatient with God's work and plan? How many lies do we believe? You know, those ones we often hear loud and clear: We'll never amount to anything. We'll never get it right. We'll always be labeled. We'll never have a chance to be what we dream. We'll always live under this unwanted chaos. How many times do we hear the ugly judgements? "Damaged! Flawed!" All the while, our God diligently keeps working. He never stops. He does not waver. He won't grow weary or quit. He just won't give up. He is always faithful to complete His work in us.  (Thank you, Lord!) We are safe in those hands.
So, with my cup project finally finished, I place a tiny candle inside to help illuminate all the imperfections - even the places with missing pieces. I'm perfectly OK with that! It's beautiful in its own way, especially to me. You see, I took the time and effort to put it back together. It became MY creation. The candle-light from within bursts forth brightly and I am reminded that the One who is writing the story of my life, and yours, can shine beautifully through our broken places. He won't quit His work until He's ready to perfectly display each of those imperfect places -  and He's OK with that. The One who has made the effort to mend the shattered pieces of our lives thinks we're worth it. After all, it's not about restoring us to our original condition...it's about us becoming something new. In spite of those who may laugh, mock or sit idly by waiting for our demise, for us to give up, rest assured. God's work always results in a beautiful masterpiece. 
Don't worry or become afraid.
I'm confident...and you can be too.
God is at work...He's making us new. There's no life He can't mend if we give ourselves to Him. He's busy mending us, giving us a wonderful story (testimony) to share...complete with those beautiful cracks. All for His glory!

Monday, July 6, 2015

Let Go (Part 2 of The Cup Series)

"...but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day...) Genesis 50:20
 
Quite honestly, I was having one of those "I can't have anything!" Mommy moments. Ever been there? (If you missed my previous CUP Series post, here's the link: M.I.A. Selah~) The pretty gold-rimmed cup that, at one time, had been whole, unbroken, complete WITH a handle gone. There I stood, in my sun scorched, driveway...holding the said cup above my head. Then I let go.
I watched it's quick journey downward play out in slow motion...it turned this way and that, then hit the concrete and exploded into a pile of shattered pieces. That was that. Broken. Shattered. 
What was once whole now laid, broken and unusable. Jagged edges. Razor sharp. I stood there and took it all in for a few moments. Then, I bent down and carefully gathered up all the different pieces...and I look forward to the next phase of The Cup Series...putting it back together again.
You see, life has a way of doing that very thing to our heart. What was once unstained and whole can become broken along the way. Sometimes we feel wounded, worthless and unusable. How can shattered dreams and hearts ever be put back together again? "There are too many scattered pieces! It's hopeless!" we scream out in our pain. We feel like giving up; but there's a secret amongst those broken pieces. PROMISE. Even as our friend, Joseph, found out and remarked to his brothers, (paraphrased Steph'sVERSION) "You were planning to break me and leave me laying there for no good use; but God still saw beauty and potential....possibility. Promise" (Read the actual story in Genesis 50.) 
What the devil throws at us, how he uses people to bring hurt and situations to bring brokenness in our lives, can definitely cause hurt and wounds. We may be laying there like Humpty Dumpty - in a million pieces. BUT GOD still sees the possibility of beauty and promise. I imagine He even gets a bit beside Himself as He eagerly thinks of putting us back together again. You see, He never leaves us like He finds us. He always makes something better out of our pieces...and He does it because He can. (He is an amazing Potter.) Simply because there's nothing He cannot do. My friend, don't be afraid if you find yourself broken and your dreams shattered...there's a whole lot of beauty and possibility wrapped up in you still - with God. LET GO! The results will be amazing.

*I write a lot about this topic because I know how real it is on a personal level, but also because I know there are so many of you out there with wounds and scars of your own. I want everyone who will listen to know, THERE IS HOPE in Jesus. Since I was a child, I have always loved the story of the Potter and the clay. He can restore, heal and make whole...He knows from personal experience too...He still bears the scars in His hands from betrayal, rejection, hurt, etc. I'd say we're in perfectly good company and in the perfect place to be beautifully and completely mended if we're in His hands.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Glory, Glory Hallelujah!

Never before have I felt quite as "patriotic" as I did this morning during church service. As Pastor took the lead and we recited the pledge to the American flag, my heart swelled with pride...one nation, UNDER GOD. As we lifted our voices in harmony and sang together, America the Beautiful and The Battle Hymn of the Republic, I sang with such conviction and reverence, and I must admit - to the top of my lungs at some points - "HIS TRUTH IS MARCHING ON." Somehow it felt a little different today and made an impression like never before. I was a bit more appreciative I think.
You see, no matter what it looks like and how crazy people may seem to act and react in this world today, regardless of how it may look, sound or feel at times, God's truth WILL NOT be interrupted. It will continue to march on strongly. It can't be stopped! It can't be discarded, discredited or edited. Why? Because truth is based upon God, truth IS GOD...a God that never changes. He's the same yesterday, today and forever. Full speed ahead...His truth will CONTINUE to march on through any obstacle designed to stop it. Period.
To know that I am a citizen of this great nation, with the liberty and freedom to worship as I choose, is a great privilege and blessing. And should the day come when it's no longer a freedom I can practice, I have this assurance: as long as I remain UNDER GOD, I will be fine. That's true for you too! Again, no matter what it may look like, sound like or feel like at times, if I (and you) remain in tune with and close to God, He and only He, will continue to hold my world in His hands. And all will be well! Staying near to Him, under the shadow of His wing, in His presence is the key...the correct formula.
Join me today in committing to march along with the only TRUTH there is - and to continuously and purposefully stay UNDER GOD. For truly, we should all be able to stand boldly and say, "IN GOD WE TRUST!" Nothing can take away that resound within our hearts. Glory, Glory, Hallelujah!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Good News & Cold Treats

"As cold waters to a thirsty soul, 
so is good news from a far country. "  
Proverbs 25:25
It's a hot, July, summer scorcher here in Georgia. Ice cream, snow cones, Popsicles and cold drinks seem to be at the top of the I WANT IT NOW list. Sweat beaded brows of workers being wiped down with cool, damp cloths; while the small children are longing to jump in a swimming pool or at least enjoy a quick run through the garden hose for just a bit of cool refreshing.
Yes, it's a hot, July, summer scorcher here in Georgia. Just as in the rest of the United States and beyond, terrible things are happening daily in our world. Evil and BAD NEWS is rampant everywhere! Murders, theft and robbery, arson, riots, kidnappings, earthquakes, etc. -- and that's just to name a few. As you browse the newspaper, read online news or tune into a newscast via the radio or television, you'll hear bad news at every turn. Seems as if our world turns more violent and unpredictable with each passing day. Bad news.
What a blessed assurance to know that this world is NOT our home, we are just passing through. We are on a pilgrimage. For the Christian, we are awaiting our glory ride home. How hopeful we can be in the midst of this messed-up world that we have GOOD NEWS from a far country. Our mansion has been built and has been made ready. Heaven is anxiously awaiting our arrival. Soon and very soon, we are going to see the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
No matter how bad our world gets, no matter how bad the newscasts become, we have this hope...and it's as refreshing as those ice-cold treats on a hot fourth of July. (Or any day for that matter!) Enjoy~

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

M.I.A. - Selah~ (Part 1 of The Cup Series)

James 4:14 " Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away."
While cleaning up around our home and the woods surrounding it, I stumbled upon something partially buried. I thought I recognized it but I wasn't 100% sure at that moment. It had been so long ago. You see, when you have 3 small children scattering about, a lot of miscellaneous kitchen items can end up MIA  (at least that's my experience) - they end up here, there and everywhere without busy Mom ever realizing it. I stooped down and dug into the red, Georgia clay to unearth this particular find. Sure enough, it was a once-upon-a-time, in a land far away...pretty, floral tea mug I once identified with a quick moment of "mommy pleasure". I reluctantly dug it out and wiped the wet clay away.
Thinking...do we sometimes lose ourselves, just as I did my cup, in the hustle and bustle of our busyness? Or do we find pleasure in pausing long enough to enjoy watching our children play just outside our kitchen window? Do we stop long enough to take a breath of refreshing, clean air following a summer thunderstorm? Do we sit long enough to savor and appreciate the flavor of food we intake? Do we give ourselves breathing space when we realize we are getting overwhelmed with daily tasks? Are we even aware of the many things God has made available for our enjoyment? In nature. In relationships. In spirit. I'm afraid, just like my cup, much of that becomes MIA too.
You see, this cup is now broken and permanently, dark-orange tinged with the color of the clay it was buried in. The fact is, cups can be replaced, lives cannot. My friends, we can't afford to allow the busyness of life to bury us and cause us to take on the color of our surroundings. This world is evil and will suck every bit of abundant life we are able enjoy right out of us if we aren't on our guard.
There's nothing wrong with setting the To-Do list aside for a few hours of fun in the sun or taking some time to enjoy playing with a grandchild. An afternoon with someone special, something out of the norm, a trip to the bookstore, a date with a spouse, a walk around the block, or a visit to the park...these are gifts from God we often don't open. Do we think about that? They're vital. Last but not least, we can't forget time spent in God's Word, praying, and communing with our Savior. (It's true...those things won't make time for themselves...we have to consciously plan it.) We cannot and must not deny ourselves the privilege of setting aside time to spend with Him. We are cheating ourselves! Plain and simple.
If you feel like you're buried in busyness or MIA, today is the right time to be found...dug up. Slow down and give yourself a Godly break, (Yes, even that thing which seems to have nothing to do with your spirituality does. Our busyness infects our spiritual beings.) This cup has become a constant reminder to me of how easily we can lose something and not even realize it. Why? Because we're too busy - distracted - doing stuff that won't even matter in the end. It's a gentle reminder that there is a time to cease from striving and working...a time to rest and refuel with God and others. We matter. People matter. God matters. Don't allow it to go MIA! Stop. Let's enjoy this life God has given us...it will all too quickly pass. Selah~