Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Heart Talk - Boo Boo's

So, if you read this blog very often at all, you'll know that I try to share with you those things I feel God is showing and teaching me. I do that in hopes of encouraging you if you find yourself there. This blog is also to record those things for myself so I can go back and be reminded of them when I need to. I've said it over and over again, I don't have it "all together" and I often find myself with bandages on my own knees and elbows (and heart) because I've taken another tumble. Just because I write it, doesn't mean that I have a black belt in that area. No, it's because God is working on me IN that area.

I've been writing a lot lately about exposing my heart, the dark, ugly parts that I haven't wanted to deal with to God. I've talked about Him gently "un-peeling" me like an onion - one layer at a time. I suppose it's kind of like the great Physician is doing major surgery in my life. Like anyone who's ever had surgery before knows well, an incision takes time to heal. It is often extremely sensitive. There is often pain during the process of it healing too. It takes a while sometimes before it can be exposed to the world. I think it's just like that when God begins to work within us. As He takes out the infected pieces, we are instantly better no doubt, however, it still takes time for us to completely recover.


I say all that to tell you that today I have had to go back and be reminded of nuggets of truth He's shown me in previous days. That I'm a work in progress! That is takes time. I'll admit, I've had a hard time "singing" today. I found myself curled up on my couch, in a fetal position, crying out to the Lord for help. I'm learning to cast my cares upon Him and sometimes it looks really childish. Do you ever find yourself there? I'm sure you do. It's OK.

I'm so thankful that I don't have to act like I've got it all together. He knows better! I'm glad that I can bring all my broken pieces to Him. You can too. If we happen to have one of those "bad" days like I've had today, if we fall and skin our knees up, we can be encouraged in the simple fact that He's not afraid of our messiness. He'll even kiss those unsightly boo-boos. He is a God of compassion.

Our song may sound a bit off key today. Indeed, it may sound more like a joyful noise than a beautiful melody; that's a lot better than not singing at all though. 


One day, we'll be completely whole. Until then, let's not be ashamed to admit we need Him desperately. We don't have to look like perfection. If it looks ugly or childish, or even downright ridiculous, it's alright. We're each a work in process. Healing at different speeds. In different areas. God doesn't care if we need more time, He cares if we won't admit it and bring it to Him and allow Him to touch those sensitive places which are still in the healing process. He's always waiting to hold us close. 

Tomorrow will be a new day... note to myself, and you as well:

Hang in there! 


  "Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is."
I John 3:2 


Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Yes, Jesus Loves Me #thankfulin(F)All

From my backseat, I hear the voice of a sweet, little, six-year-old boy singing softly, "Yes, Jesus loves me. Yes, Jesus loves me. Yes, Jesus loves me, for the Bible tells me so." And...as the melody leaves his sweet, little, lips, I feel the my heart thump a little louder and quicker. It feels so good to be loved. A simple truth.


His love is so wonderful. So amazing! To think that the God of glory would know me and love me. Just like I am. Unconditionally. I wonder how sometimes. However, I only need to open His love letter to me (and you), the Bible, and I can see it time and time again. Yes, Jesus loves me!

There's nowhere we can run to escape His love!


This is the season we celebrate the birth of Jesus. He came as a baby, born in a manger, because He loved us so. 

"...God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him." I John 4:9

After the first chorus, this little guy started over again, singing either in another language or in a make-believe language all His own. I continued to listen, basking in the glory of the moment. It didn't matter that I didn't recognize the words, it was simply understood. Such a simple tune, but oh, so beautiful. I could just envision the two of us sitting at the feet of Jesus like the pictures we see illustrated in children's books so often. Complete peace. His undivided attention upon us. Oh, how He loves us. 

I wonder often times if I can even grasp the fullness of it all. I decided that, no, I'll never be able to wrap my head around how someone so perfect, so majestic, could love us like He does. Yet, I know it's true just the same. He's proven it time and time again. And...in my heart I join this little guy's song...

"Yes, Jesus loves me!"


It's not because of anything I have done, but simply because of who I am. The same is true for you too, my friend. He loves you, just because you're you. Not because of anything you've done, not done, or anything you will do. Let's sing it together as we enjoy this season. As we celebrate together, remember it's all because He loved us so.  It's simple. That is the reason for Christmas!

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Internally & Eternaly Different #hope

My home is strewn with toys and so many shopping bags that we can't deny we spent some time Black Friday shopping yesterday. What a wonderful Thanksgiving! Unexpected, last minute plans ended up with my entire immediate family (minus the little princess) being here in Georgia with us. Since it was a last minute gathering, we found ourselves eating our turkey and sides at Golden Corral - this was a first for us. (No! There were no leftovers to enjoy this year!) 

Would I choose do the whole crowded buffet thing again? I don't know, it was kind of nice not to have all the hours of pre-prep while meal planning, grocery shopping, cooking and then the chore of cleaning it all up 30 minutes after it all began...but isn't that all part of the journey anyhow? Needless to say, it was definitely a great Thanksgiving, but slightly DIFFERENT. That is the point I'm trying to make. Other things were different this Thanksgiving too.

There were new places added in at the table for new family members we didn't have last year. There was more rambunctious noise making and playing since my grandson is now in his terrible twos. (I might add, still just as precious to this Noni.) Not to be outdone, my niece and nephew are more grown than I could have ever imagined being at their ages. How does that happen anyhow?!

Those are all external things which were different. I'm sure if I sat here and thought about it long enough, I could come up with a multitude more to share. There were some things that were internally different though...and eternal too.

When the Lord begins to work, He does it up right. Remember? I've talked in several different posts, like The Un-peeling, that God has been working with and in me. As my sister and I had some "heart to heart" talks over the last few days, we were able to share how God has shown us different things during hours of darkness in our lives. God's been growing us in different areas. (He does that, you know, to make us better.) As we go through life, we often pick up extra baggage that we don't realize we're lugging around. Sometimes we're so loaded down and exhausted from carrying it all that we collapse under the weight. True story!!!

As God gently peels back the dark corners we don't want anyone else looking at, much less ourselves, He also gives us the courage we need to stay on the wheel while He does the work. I can honestly say that this Thanksgiving, there was more things different than just where we ate, last minute plans and guests who made surprise appearances that made my heart do crazy stuff...

      There was more different than what could be "seen"...some excess baggage was missing.


 When we allow God to begin to relieve us of unnecessary baggage (it comes from all types of places, in all shapes and sizes too) we've accumulated simply by experiencing life and the effects sin has upon every part of it, the sky is the limit. It's simply an amazing process. Our entire perspective changes. (I think I've written about that recently too!)

With excess baggage eliminated, there becomes more room for meaningful life. We give God permission to allow us to experience more abundant life. He won't force us to give up this baggage we've acquired; however, He does encourage us to give it all to Him so He can bless us beyond imagination. When we are brave and obedient enough to give it all to Him, He carries the load and we get to enjoy freedom. What a swap!

Freedom comes in all shapes and sizes too. The beautiful thing about God is that He takes away our baggage and the chains that bind us too. We aren't responsible to lug any of it around any more; instead, we're blessed with undeniable testimonies to share with others who are struggling in places we once were. It's a beautiful cycle we can become a part of. In the process, we are healed.

Are there things that need to be different in your life? Have you been lugging unnecessary baggage around? This is a great time of year to take inventory of our hearts and go on an anti-clutter campaign with the Master. Once we give Him the key to those ugly places we'd rather forget about, He can do amazing transformations. 

When we give Him the black, ugly pieces of a heart that's intended to beat vibrantly with life, in turn, He gives us freedom, healing, peace of mind and joy unspeakable. 

There will always be the opportunity for this exchange because we live in a world infected with sin. God stands willing and ready at all times...even at this very moment, we can send up a prayer and let Him know we're handing over the key to those wounded parts of our lives. Let Him come in and do some remodeling of His own. He'll make something beautiful, I guarantee you. I can testify to it!

Won't you join me? There are people in all of our lives that need this wonderful news of HOPE. What greater gift could someone receive this holiday season that to experience an internal difference? And eternal! What greater gift could we give than to share our testimony and tell of the hope we've found? Share today! 

God bless each of you and have a happy holiday season~

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

More Un-peeling! thankfulin(F)All

Lately, I've been doing a lot of internal inventory...actually the Lord has been doing a lot of "un-peeling." You know, the "onion" concept? (I'll admit this too, amazingly I'm finding it an enjoyable process.) I love it when He just places the jagged puzzle pieces  of life together and I'm able to see more clearly. He's so patient and gentle, even when we take forever to get it right, and He's faithful to stick by us when we fall flat on our faces time after time. Aren't we all thankful for that!? 


We make decisions each and every day. I think it's safe to say that, more often than not, we attempt to do what we think is right. Make the best choice. Choose the options that make the most sense. What will be most effective. There are all kinds of examples. For instance, I remember when I was younger, thinking my parents were so "off the mark" with the decisions they made for me. Meanwhile, they felt that they were making the best decision for my life based upon their own experiences and opinions. (One can only admit this after they've finally grown up and experienced life themselves.) I imagine they (and you) felt the same way about their parents or guardians too. It's part of life.

It's true, when I was a teenager, I thought I knew what was best (like every other brilliant teenager who has all the answers to life's challenges) and I made choices that I thought were the right. Then, I became a mother and I made decisions for my own children...again, I thought the choices I made were right and the best for them. After all, I wouldn't want anything but the best for my offspring. Right? We try to do right as friends, wives, employees, etc. Even as a Christian, I attempt to give it my best shot to make the wisest choices and decisions that would be pleasing to God. And guess what...

I've made some mistakes and wrong choices along the way -    in spite of my best intentions.


What? You too? Isn't that amazing?! The Lord showed me, with the help of a few different verses in His Word that people in my life who have brought hurt, aggravation, or pain to me might have been doing what they thought was best at the time too. Yes, we make mistakes....and so do others we love...why, even the stranger in the supermarket may react out of stress and pain in their own lives. Our words, actions, decisions and choices may seem right and logical to us at the time, while causing hurt and pain to others. Do we mean to hurt others? No, not usually, but it happens. It's part of life.

I've been challenged to look back over my life and look at different experiences and places where I've been hurt or disappointed - and to look at the bigger picture. Is it possible that those individuals were also doing what they thought was best? Were they doing what they thought was right? Did those words come out like they were meant to? 

       Can people give it their best shot to love us and simply        come up short? 


Can we give it our all and simply fall short too? Can we say the wrong thing and hurt someone unintentionally? The answer to all these questions is simply - YES!!! It happens.

I think it's safe to say we all intend to give our best but sometimes our best and what we think is right causes pain and hurt for others. And another "yes!" we can say is that we can choose to forgive and extend grace to those individuals. We all get it wrong occasionally! I hope I'll be more observant and give more consideration in the future. It's part of life AND part of our growth process. 

When we're trying to get that front parking space at Kroger and someone else whips in before us, or someone cuts in line at the checkout on Black Friday, or when someone we love hurts our feelings, we can choose to consider them before ourselves. We can do this on every level of life. 

Here are some questions for us to consider: What is that person going through? What are they experiencing in their life that is causing them to act like such? Is there an emergency in their life? Are they hurting? And ultimately...how will we choose to respond? Will we do what we think is right in spite of the actions of others? 

I'm sure I'll get it wrong again, and you will too, but let's do our best to make the right call and extend grace. If we look at things in this perspective more often, we'd be less likely to let those unintended wounds fester into bitterness and un-forgiveness. Let's consider each other - it's worth the risk. Let's be quick to extend grace and be willing to forgive often. Remember, what goes around, comes around! Enjoy the un-peeling in your own life...it's worth it!

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours~


Saturday, November 19, 2016

Bonfires & S'mores #thankfulin(F)All

I posted earlier this week about having pneumonia and the sweet nurse who brought a delightful ending to a horrible ER visit. Did I mention in that post that both myself and my husband have the same diagnosis? Double fun. Double medicine. Double...


We've been medicating and resting and...I must admit I've had to remind myself to cancel the "pity party" on more than one occasion. 

It's easy to get all dressed up only to realize there's nobody else coming and there's really nowhere to go.


Have you ever been there? Scheduled a party of your own? It's no secret that when we're sick, we're vulnerable to attacks from our cowardly enemy.

Yesterday, I had just ended a phone call with my Mamaw. Our conversation hadn't been a very encouraging one. We also received the latest doctor's report concerning my husband. It wasn't the one I wanted to hear. That happens anytime the word hospitalization is included. 

Then, I reminded myself that we had only been to CVS for prescription pick-ups more in the last month than we had all year. That the refrigerator and pantry was getting bare again. What were we going to do? What was God going to do about it? And...I found myself on a downward spiral! See how it works? I found myself sitting in a puddle of tears. Yes, I showed up for the party with bells on.

The phone rang and I reluctantly picked it up. To my surprise, the sweet voice was on the other end was my prayer partner. She was at work, but just felt led to call me. Yeah...did I mention that I am blessed, sick girl?

AT THE EXACT MOMENT I WAS HAVING A MELTDOWN! GOD IS GOOD!!!


She talked with me for a few moments and I told her what wasgoing on. I swallowed my pride and admitted that I was struggling, feeling weak in body and spirit. I opened my heart and told her I was having a hard time praying right now and ask her if she'd offer up some prayers on our behalf. The next words she said were amazing:

"You've got wood stored up for such a time."


What in the world does wood have to do with any of this? Let me explain. I mentioned that she was my prayer partner. We've spent a lot of time together praying. She reminded me that I had prayers (wood) stored up to carry me through during times like these. She also took me to the Word and reminded me of Romans 8:28, "...all things work together for the good..." and she didn't stop there. She said, "We're going to agree together right now..." and we began to pray. The floodgates in my eyes opened wide as we prayed; and one would have thought they were visiting Niagara.

What a moment. What a God moment. I realized God sent someone else an invitation to join me at my "party" after all. The blessed gift she had brought for me was sweet reminders directly from the throne.  I was immediately encouraged and felt strengthened both in body and spirit. 

I hung up the phone and thanked God for a wood pile I have stored up to use in case of such an emergency...and for providing someone to help me build the fire. I was so grateful to have someone to come along side of me to offer a bit of encouragement and reinforcement. What a faithful God I serve. He can't be outdone! 

I'm thinking...from now on, instead of invitations to a pity party, I will start sending out invites to a strength-building, encouraging, heart-warming, bonfire. 


Won't you join me? Let's make some S'mores!

I'm thankful for bonfires and S'mores




Thursday, November 17, 2016

Misery & Miracles #thankfulin(F)All

After spending a couple hours this evening helping my daughter prepare for a speech she has to give tomorrow, I find myself tired, but extremely thankful and feeling beyond blessed.


She has received her GED and is now enrolled in college to obtain her Associates Degree in Information Technology. She is almost finished with her first semester and doing well. She's even been selected to represent our county for Adult Education. She's learning to juggle college, jobs and life as a productive adult. Not only that, but she is walking down the right path again spiritually. And...I am elated, my heart is bursting with thankfulness.

You might say to yourself, "What's the big deal? That's normal", and I'd say you're right, but I know her story. It has been part of my own, and at one point I would have hung my head low and would have said it was highly unlikely and very likely impossible. I'd say all this, while in the back of my head knowing the Word says, "all things are possible" with God. (Wow! That's vulnerable!)

Choices made often lead us down the wrong paths. Paths headed straight for destruction. Paths one never would've imagined. Bad influences from hanging around the wrong kind of people can wreak havoc and leave a person rocking and reeling - even gasping for life. There were a few moments there when I wondered if she'd survive to see her next birthday. I won't go into all the ugly details, so please just trust me. 

Remember, good and bad happen to all people, nobody is exempt. My family was no exception. We loved God, raised our children in church, and tried to be good examples...but the ugly came to our home. 

"Coming to a home near you!"


I was listening to a preacher last night as he was talking about something quite eye-opening: one can't have a miracle without a burden (misery). I've admitted before that I'm a slow learner at times, but those words pierced my heart and brought light to some dark corners that the Lord has been bringing light into lately. (Isn't He good like that!) There has been misery, but there's also a miracle.

What I'm trying to say is that there have been many nights of misery, of waiting, wondering and pleading with God to spare her soul and life. There have been many days of stress and anxiety as I've not completely been able to release it all to God. (Just being honest!) Fear has a tendency to grip the heart when your child is wayward and walking along the wrong path not heeding to warnings given. What could I have done different? Where did I miss it? There are often unfair questions which taunt our mind from those fiery darts. We're none exempt from the chance of ugly happening to our babies!

So, maybe you can see now why tonight was so precious to me. As I looked at her and listened as she recited her speech, I had to silently thank God for the miracle in her life. I thanked Him for answering prayers of a struggling mother. She isn't perfect, neither am I, and I'm sure there will still be some mistakes along the way, just as there will be in my own life. However, the final words of her speech are a quote of her own making which brought delight to my soul:

 "I am a living testimony that you can get here from anywhere, and anywhere from here."


It's true...God is still in the miracle working business and still full of mercy and grace. He can still take the ugliest things and make them beautiful. The enemy may give it his best shot but he'll never win the battle. The dark times that seem to never end - do end. (I can say that now, but have not always been able to.) Take heart, my friend. Your dark night won't last always either. There is hope in the hands of the Master. 

I'm thankful that miracles and misery do work hand in hand. It's often hard to give thanks in the difficult times, it's hard to understand why bad things happen to good people; but I'm learning day by day. And...I hope when she concludes her speech tomorrow, that her final words will give yet more praise to the Lord...yes, you can get anywhere from here. I have a testimony also. And your ugly situation can be one too!



Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Hope in the Basket #thankfulin(F)All





I was reading the story of Jesus feeding the hungry multitude with a tiny lunch consisting of 5 loaves and 2 fish. Most of us know the story and were probably introduced to it on a flannel board during Sunday school class. Just in case you need your memory refreshed, let me remind you that Jesus took the lads small lunch, blessed it, broke it, and gave it to the disciples to feed the people. Then, when it was all said and done, they took up twelve baskets of leftovers. Those leftover, broken pieces are what caught my attention recently. 


Think with me if you will, of how many baskets it would have taken to feed that many people compared to the twelve that was left over. I imagine the scale wouldn't easily be balanced out. In my mind's eye, I can visualize the grocery haul of a large family preparing for Thanksgiving dinner, complete with every trimming imaginable, with family members from near and far. Compare this spread to the amount of food fed a homeless person on Thanksgiving at a local shelter. I think that will work! Do you get the picture?

The leftovers weren't substantial, but were significant.


We're spoiled here in America and a lot of people think very little of throwing away the leftovers after a couple of days. Why, some people I know won't even think of touching leftovers. That's fine, to each his own, but look at this beautiful visual God gave me: 

He never lets any fragment that He's allowed to be blessed and broken go to waste.

 

After feeding the multitude, Jesus didn't discard what He had broken and blessed. I heard it said recently that God can't use anything without first breaking it. That's great news for you and I! When I think of those leftovers, I think of how lives are broken, dreams are shattered, people with hurting, wounded hearts who wonder at times if there's anything left to live for. Individuals who feel they have nothing left to offer. Nothing to give. We all know people who fit into this category, and we might even place ourselves there at certain seasons in life when we feel there's no hope.

The beautiful thing about our Lord is that He never chooses to waste anything. Those pieces which are no longer needed or useful to feed the crowd, He carefully sees that they are gathered together again. He doesn't choose to waste brokenness in our lives either. When we're broken, He sees an opportunity for His strength to work in our lives. He can work with that. When we're torn, He sees a chance to shine from deep within our places of hurt. He loves to work with leftovers. Our shattered dreams can still be salvaged when we place our lives in His hands. 


He longs to take up our broken, "un-useable" fragments and 

make something beautiful out of them. 


He longs for us to bring Him glory as He shines brightly through what we deem as ugly and broken. Friend, don't let what your situation looks like presently determine your worth. God can redeem even the most useless pieces when we allow Him to do the work He desires. Broken into beautiful! If your life is a botched up mess, there's hope in the basket.

How exciting to be a broken fragment or a leftover! True, we might not feel substantial, but we are significant to God. We are of unmistakable, unimaginable worth. We don't need a lot to offer Him, He can do amazing things with our brokenness.  There's hope in the basket ~ just you wait and see.


Tuesday, November 15, 2016

A Warm-Hearted Nurse in a Cold ER #thankfulin(F)All

Today, I'm thankful for a kind, warm-hearted nurse who took care of me in an ice, cold emergency room.  

So, I'm sitting there waiting....

and waiting....and freezing....

and waiting.


You know, the typical emergency room experience where nobody gets in too big of  hurry? When you sit in a little ten-by-eight room for what seems like eternity. As the person drawing blood exits, you find yourself wondering how many hours it might be before you see another face come through the door again. My husband considers it pure torture.

So, today I was given a breathing treatment. I obediently sat there puffing on the "peace pipe" as my family jokingly calls it, until all the solution was gone. I quietly sat and waited. Mind you, the oxygen was still on and the respiratory personnel had said she'd be back to check on me before she walked out of that heavy, wooden door to my iced cubical.  I continued to sit there as patient as possible, trying to block out the sound of the air pushing its way through the small tubing. Hisssss!!! 

After thirty minutes of that, my husband had all of the hissing noise he could stand and promptly got up and disengaged the hose from the oxygen receptacle. And...we waited. Still nobody came through the door. My patience was running thin at this point, not to mention my husband's patience who had run out about ten minutes after we were introduced to our holding cell.

Finally, about an hour or so later, the door opened. A cheery voice proclaimed, "And, you're ready to go now!"  I looked over at the smiling face, then down at  the discharge papers in her hand. YES!!! Deliverance has come! We were SO READY to get out of the ER. But...somehow, this nurse had other ideas.

She sat down and gently took the IV out of my arm, then carefully applied gauze and a piece of tape to catch any extra blood. Then she went over every detail of my diagnosis, which was Pneumonia, medication regime and then....

Yes, about thirty minutes later we walked out of the unwelcoming ER...smiling. The sweet, caring nurse had talked and talked. She had taken time to make us feel cared for. She had shared stories that made us laugh. She was one of those nurses that you'd ask for when you go back the next time. A nurse you'd also gladly accept as a friend. 

It's amazing how taking a few extra moments out of the day to say something kind, to share a smile, or to stop and chat with someone for a few moments can change the course of lifetime. We really kind make a difference. It is a trickle down effect. 

One person touches a life, then that person touches another life...that's the cycle of life we should all strive for. 


I left the ER today with prescriptions...a smile on my face...and a challenge to make a difference in someone's life each day. Pneumonia? Yeah, that will go away in time, but the deposits we make in the life of others by being kind and caring and going the extra mile will make ripples in our world that will last for eternity.

 I know this has been quite lengthy, but can I encourage each of us to give it a try the rest of this holiday season? Let's greet someone with a smile, take a moment out of our hurried schedule to show some love...let's make a difference~

Monday, November 14, 2016

The Perfect Gift Giver #thankfulin(F)All

It's that season again...a holiday season filled with givings of all things good...and the occasional lump of coal.


We search for the "perfect" gifts for our friends and loved ones, often spending hours scouring store shelves or page after page on the internet. We look for the perfect gift that will make the receiver feel special, cared for, and deeply loved. With such intense striving, I often wonder how we ever arrived at the phrase, "it's the thought that counts." Shouldn't a tiny box filled with a little treasure be just as exciting and make just as much of a statement as the shiny, new, red sports-car sitting in the driveway on Christmas morning?

I'm reminded of James 1:17, "Every good and perfect gift is from above..." - what a blessed truth to hang our hats upon in this crazy world we live in today. While stores are preparing their Black Friday circulars and store displays for record sales, I'm reminded once again of where the best gifts come from. 

We can get some pretty awesome stuff at Kirklands, get great buys at Khols or rack up on the BOGO sales at Bath & Body, but I'd dare say the best gifts don't come from these places or any other department stores we might name either for that matter. Sure, goodies from these stores bring a smile to our faces, but I think the best thing about those gifts are simply the underlying facts of who gave them to us and that we'll think of them every time we use or glance at the item.

The newness will wear off, but we'll never forget the giver. 

 

I'm not one to want to open gifts in front of anyone. My preference is to take my surprise and go into my room, away from everyone, and savor every moment of unwrapping, carefully opening a box with much tenderness and being able to enjoy the moment completely uninterrupted. When I give a gift, I usually take as much time in the presentation as in the actual searching for the gift that will be just right. I enjoy making memories of every moment.

Then, I think about the best Gift Giver I know. He is the giver of every good and perfect gift...and, He's constantly giving to me. Every day. He wraps each priceless gift up in a unique package and if I open it correctly, I'll never forget who gave it to me and will treasure it always. Such sweet memories of how He came thru at just the right time and offered me peace. How, just when I thought I couldn't make it any more, He lifted me up on wings as eagles.

His gifts aren't always tangible, but are always good and perfect.


After all, who can put a price on peace of mind? Who can really estimate the value of having sustainable hope? Unconditional love? How much would you pay for an eternity spent walking with and worshiping Him on streets of gold? Yes, these are only a few of the many gifts He gives us that can't really be unwrapped with our physical hands, yet they warm our hearts and bring such wholeness to our lives. The true definition and meaning behind the phrase "abundant life" - and it can only come from the Perfect Gift Giver.

So, while you're searching for that perfect gift to give to your family or friends, let's not forget to stop long enough to receive and fully appreciate those gifts God longs to give to us - on a daily basis. We are cared for and deeply loved beyond imagination. He goes out of His way to give only the best gifts.

Let's stop what we're doing today and just take a moment to pause and receive all He has for us, and let's give something back to Him too. The gift He desires most, the best gift we can give to Him, is to offer our lives and hearts to Him unreservedly. 

What a gift swap...our feeble life for His abundance!

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Perspective #thankfulin(F)All

These last two months have been a time of reflecting, searching and allowing God to speak into my heart. It's been amazing! In October, I focused on seeing God in my every day. It was a challenge I took with many others to write for 31 days. It became so much more than that however. I think it was God at work in my life. This month, I've been writing about what I'm thankful for and it seems to come ever so easily. It's amazing how a perspective change will make such a difference in ones life.



I think sometimes God has to totally crush the clay and start anew. I can see how, during the past two months, God has totally taken my heart and exposed every single corner that needed His attention. It's humbling, yet freeing, to be completely broken and exposed upon the Potter's wheel. There's that blessed moment when all shame is gone, all feelings of guilt are vanished and there I stand, finally ready, completely surrendered to His will for my life. 

It's amazing how much stuff we can stuff in a lifetime. I'm a stuffer. No, I'm not proud of it, it's something I struggle with on a regular basis. However, God is working from the inside out and is helping me one step at a time. I'm always ready to BE THERE NOW, but He desires a walk. He's not interested in my having it all put together and having everything in order so I don't need Him. He wants me to walk hand-in-hand, wooing me, teaching me to trust in Him step by step. He is amazing!

As He's unpeeled me, layer by layer, and shown me places that needed attention, I am finding new strength, learning to enjoy a new perspective, and leaning upon Him more than ever. It is so true that His strength is made perfect in our weakness. What a gift! When we stuff, our focus becomes blurry. And...why would we want to stuff things when we can be free by just opening ourselves up completely to His healing touch? It's taken me so much longer than it should. I've got the T-shirt to prove it!

So, today, I'm thankful for a new perspective that can only come after being stripped down to nothing, and allowing God to start from Ground Zero to rebuild my life and make all things new again. Do you find you need a new perspective? 

This is the perfect time of year to allow Jesus to open you up and give you a new chance at life...His way. 


It's an amazing journey of miracles! Hope, joy and many, bountiful blessings~


Friday, November 11, 2016

Christmas Wish List #thankfulin(F)All

I know it's not quite the Christmas season. We still have to celebrate Thanksgiving and give our thanks to God for all things. However, we must get started on something now.

During this time of year, people both young and old, consciously or unconsciously scribble down wish lists. 


Some ladies wish for diamonds, a piece of furniture or that certain kitchen gadget they've been eyeing. Men wish for guns or boots or maybe a particular tool they saw advertised in the most recent Home Depot flyer. Teens wish for electronic gadgets, hip clothes and lots of money. And children...their list is often the most lengthy and detailed as they make out their wish list for piles and piles of toys.

At one point, I had the new-yet-vintage Fischer Price toys from Barnes & Noble on my Christmas Wish list. I even added it to the wallpaper on my trusty cell phone.

 Then...things in my world changed and so did my wish list.

 

Those memorable, little toys on my list were replaced with desperate pleas and prayers to God to fix stuff in my life.

Yes, life certainly has a way of bringing about change. And, change is difficult. It can be painful. It can take time to become accustomed and used to the idea of change. We can hate it and fight against it, but sometimes change is inevitable...and NOT on our wish list at all.

So, what's a girl to do during those times? Something that has absolutely nothing to do with our wish list at all. It's not something we can be given, it's quite opposite in fact, and requires us to take action:


GIVE IT AWAY!

We can choose to give up our wish lists, including our disappointments and broken dreams, to someone far better than Santa. Our heavenly Father knows what its like to feel the pangs of hurt and loss when things in life change and we're left disoriented and reeling from the craziness of it all. He also knows how to give us the best gifts. Isn't that exciting?!

Romans 15:13  "Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.

God can take the ugliness life has dealt and, in return, give us hope and joy in spite of it all. 

 

So, if you find yourself scratching out those items on your wish list that seem not to matter any more, and replacing them with desperate, heart-felt desires and wishes, take heart. This season, let's give our lists to the One who can really make the difference. The God of all good and perfect gifts can take any situation and change...and make it all better. He doesn't allow something to be taken from us without replacing it with something far better. 

Hope is what Christmas is all about!

 

Maybe now it's time to sit down and make your grown-up Christmas Wish List. What do you want most this Christmas? Thank God for even knowing and being concerned with our wish lists! 

There's still time to pray over that list, give it to the Gift Giver and prepare our hearts for the absolute and perfect will of God to be done. He can handle change and He longs to fill us with the most important things - which includes joy and peace - during this season and every other too. 

Blessings~

Thursday, November 10, 2016

"Normal" Changer #thankfulin(F)All

Today I find myself sitting in a motel room, looking out of a big picture window, at the beauty of nature as God's handiwork. I never cease to be amazed at the glorious glamor of fall. I love the colors, aromas, and tastes that identify fall. Yes, the weather too. A wonderful break from the squelching heat of summer. While I'm enjoying my time away from the normalcy of life...God still finds me here and speaks to my heart. Oh, how I love Him for that!

Today I'm thankful for the "NORMAL" CHANGER.


As I was reading about blind Bartimeaus (Luke 18:35-43), my eyes were opened to something I've never seen before. Bartimeaus was a blind man. True. He was a beggar who sat on the side of the road in Jericho asking for alms. True. He had been labeled but it wasn't who he truly was. True. Day in and day out, he was there. True. Same time, same station. He had been coming there for quite a long time. It was natural. True. It was comfortable to him now. True. It was NORMAL! True.

It was at this point in my study that God dropped this into my heart:

  Sometimes we go through seasons in our lives, and things change. Dreams are shattered.  Hearts are broken. Life seems to take us to hell and back. 

 

 

 During these long, drawn out seasons when we think the pendulum will never swing in the other direction again, we can lose hope and become accustomed to life "as it is." It can become normal. "Here we go again. Same ole, same ole!"  I can say this, I've been living in this state for five years. I've become a candidate, much like Bartimeaus, desperate for change.

Just like Blind Bartimeaus, I have gone about my days doing whatever is necessary to survive in the condition I was in. My situation and status of life became as normal and natural to me as his did to him - until I realized where I was at. A friend said something to me about depression recently and I responded back quickly with a heart-felt, "I hate that word!" Why? I thought about it and realized it was because it seemed to have become my identity. My label. Guilt. Embarrassment. Shame. It's easy to wake up one day and wonder, "How in the world did I get here?"(Oh, how I'm thankful for someone who isn't afraid to speak the truth even when it hurts for a moment.)

Normal. The truth is, sometimes we can become blinded and fall prey to the enemy and not recognize him at work. We become tired and exhausted by life and all it throws our way. Although it's not where we intended to end up, we wonder how we can ever gain our true identity back again. Normal. It's a warped way of thinking. However, God wants to be the "NORMAL" CHANGER. He came so that we might have life abundantly!

There's just one catch. Like Bartimeaus, we can't be too proud to be real about where we are and cry out, "God, change my normal! Change me!" We can't listen to those around us who tell us to be quiet, that we'll never change, that we'll always be remembered this way. 

We have to be shut everything out and shut ourselves in with God. 


We must step out of that "comfort trap" that's designed to keep us from God's purpose. He has so much more for us. He longs to bring about healing and wholeness and to make something beautiful out of our lives. I can look back now and see beautiful works He has done...but I couldn't always.

That's where I've been. My story. Yet today, I find myself glorifying God from a point of new perspective and newness of life. It wasn't easy getting here. I've been through a lot of "I quit!" moments. There have been days when I thought I'd never do anything but fail, days I wanted to crawl under a rock and die or just go to Heaven and be done with it all...BUT GOD. The NORMAL Changer. 

As I continue to be transformed into who He wants me to be, I never want to forget where He's brought me from. He has turned my mourning into gladness. I thank Him for His mercy and grace in my life.

Are you struggling today? It might not be depression, fear or doubt for you, but whatever IT is, don't allow it to become the norm in your life. It's not God's will that we live below our privileges as His children. I'm so thankful for a God who will stop and ask, "What will thou that I shall do unto thee?" 

When we wake up and realize that He can go to the root of the issue and not just heal the symptoms, we can receive whatever we ask.  


This is my testimony and I hope it will encourage you today. I pray you will allow the NORMAL CHANGER to do a work in your heart. This could be a new season in your life too. Not only outside but inside your heart. Blessings~


Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Aha Moments #thankfulin(F)All

Another "aha" moment for me today...God is using this season to open my eyes and show me things I've never seen before. I am amazed and thrilled by it all.

Eph 6:12  "For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places."  

I've been questioning God for a few weeks now about "fighting." Am I supposed to fight or rest in Him? (I wonder if the Lord must shake His head in dismay at me on some days. Why does it take me so long to get it?)

I know the scripture, about the battle not being ours but the Lord's. I know we say it often, that the enemy is defeated. I wonder how can we fight an enemy that's already defeated? How can we fight what we cannot see? We cannot "see" what Paul proclaims in Ephesians that we fight against. Not literally anyhow. It's only seen through spiritual eyesight. And, we already know who wins in the end. I've heard all this since I was a little girl in Sunday school....today it hit me like a ton of bricks though. REVELATION!

I've often wondered how we can fight and be still (rest) at the same time. Here's what God showed me today:

We don't have to fight, we simply have to STAND. We only need to put the armor on so we'll be protected - and then just stand there and watch God fight our battles. Resting in Him. Trusting Him to do whatever needs to be done. The battle isn't ours, it's the Lord's! Makes so much sense now. (See? I told you I'm a slow learner. lol) Here are the things I have to DO:

  • I have to know the truth and speak it to myself during times of battle.
  • I have to live a life of righteousness to the best of my ability.
  • I have to speak and seek peace.
  • I have to trust God and have faith.
  • I have to have God's blood and name applied to my life through salvation.
  • I have to dig into God's Word daily and allow Him to speak to me.
  • I have to spend time in prayer so I can have an intimate relationship with Him. 


I can do all these things! That is all it takes for me to do MY part in the fight. This is how I rest in Him. The rest is up to God! How mind-blowing!? It really is basic. Simplicity! I've made it so hard all my life. Goodness. Felling a praise break coming on about now~ hold on a moment. :)


James 4:7  "Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you." 

When those fiery darts come, and they will, if I've submitted to God's plan and have my armor on, I don't have to worry or do a thing - I just stand there and smile in the face of the enemy. I cannot lose! Those little pesky darts will just ricochet off of my armor causing the devil to flip out and take off running for cover. That's what I'm talking about.

Want to be my "fighting" partner, friend? We've got this. We are victorious!!! I've read the back of the book and now it all makes sense to me. WE WIN!

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Hope #ThankfulIn(F)All

Today I am thankful for HOPE~
 

In a world where everything seems unsure, when there seems to be no sure answer and people are anxious and fearful of what tomorrow holds; I'm thankful I know Who holds my future.

My hope. It's not in what I see in this world. It's not in what's going on around me. I can't find it from those around me or even in my own abilities. It's not found in being well-off financially, highly educated, in the best physical condition possible or achieving a certain status in life. Jobs fail. Health fails. Finances won't sustain. 

Psa 39:7  "And now, Lord, what wait I for? my hope is in thee."


It really is a simple plan. I can choose to fret and worry or choose to find my hope in Him. A friend told me the other day, "It's your choice." (An aha moment for sure.) I can choose to drive myself crazy or I can choose to trust God and drive the enemy crazy. Could it really be that simple? Yes! Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus, just to take Him at His word.

Psa 71:14  "But I will hope continually, and will yet praise thee more and more."


Let me be transparent here: my day planner is full of notes reminding me lately not to fear, to choose to trust in God, to find my confidence in Him, to let Him shine in my weaknesses.

I suppose I'm at that season in my life. He's doing new things in me! I'm finding it a bit exhilarating...and tiring at times...but truly amazing. The beautiful thing is that as I place my hope in Him, He beckons me to draw even closer to Him and draw strength from Him like never before. To begin again. To be expectant on Him!

 Jer 17:7  Blessed is the man that trusteth in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is.


I'm thankful today, for HOPE.

Monday, November 7, 2016

For God's Love #thankfulin(F)All

Today I'm thankful for God's promise of unfailing, perfect love.


"The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee." Jeremiah 31:3
Always available to me. Always searching me out. Always waiting on me. Yeah, I know. That's a lot of "me's", isn't it? Sounds a bit selfish even as I type out the words, but it is true. God is a personal God and I don't suppose He minds me being selfish with Him. After all, He is a jealous God! 

He knows every detail about me. He knows what makes me happy, what makes me sad, what thrills me beyond words and what devastates me to no words. He is concerned about me and made an individualized plan for my life. That set of plans came complete with ups and downs, victories and defeats, skinned knees and trophy moments. He knew I'd fail at times and He's alright with that too. He knows I can't make it without Him and patiently waits on the sidelines at times for me to remember that as well. He knows I'll mess up frequently and that He'll find me on my knees again at an altar crying out to Him for help. He's always there waiting.

He scoops me up and tells me I can make it. What affirmation! He places me just right so I can hear His life-giving heart beat. He encourages me to continue on because, after all, I CAN make it. I can overcome any obstacle or tragedy with His help. Sometimes He has to break a leg when I get too far away and try to do things on my own. He doesn't leave me there in my pain however. He gently, and without condemnation, carries me in His gentle arms until I heal from the brokenness. He is a faithful Savior. When I find myself buried beneath the weight of the world, He is there, beckoning me to come to Him. He invites me to take His yoke and learn, for He is gentle and can always be trusted. Oh, how He loves me! He gives me strength to make it through every valley, all the while, inviting me to trust in Him a little more than I did the day before. 

Although He is a God of judgement, right now He is a God of grace and that is more than enough for me. He never gives me what I "deserve to get", He never says, "Girl, tough luck, you had that one coming! Deal with it." He gives me what never should have been possible...His love, second chances and all His promises to boot. He only wants me to live a life...more abundantly than ever before. Who else could ever provide that for me? And there's no one who desires it more for me that He does either. If that isn't love!


I know I said this sounds a bit selfish, but the beautiful thing is...He feels the same way about you too. 


He longs to show us His unfailing love. He longs to demonstrate to us exactly how He feels about us. He desires us to rest in Him. To trust Him. To give Him all our hopes and dreams, no matter how shattered and broken they have become. Why? Because He loves us and no matter what we may look like at this moment, He knows the difference His love can make in our lives. He is love. He can change the scenery of area landscape to fit our exact needs. And He wants to do it for us today. Not tomorrow, not yesterday, but NOW. 

Aren't you thankful for that kind of love? What a warm embrace from our heavenly Father. What a hope to know that He loves us so. Take that bit of hope as you go about your day. We don't have to worry about not being good enough or beyond His reach. Let Him in and allow Him to hold you in the hard times when it seems like there is no hope, but also in the good times. He wants you and I to enjoy each of our days with Him...living in His perfect love. Let's rest in that promise today ~

Sunday, November 6, 2016

My Church Family #ThankfulIn(F)All

I'm thankful, today, for my church family.


We're all a little different and unique in our own quirky ways, aren't we? Today is Sunday, so of course I found myself at church with some pretty wonderful individuals. What a family! From the little old lady who is quiet and keeps her words on a leash to that crazy brother-in-law of mine who is a crazy, cut-up you hear way before you see, to each and every one of you - I'm thankful for each of you.

Sweet, rambunctious children bring a smile to my face as they grab me in a tight "leg hug." Faithful elders are solid as rocks and I look up to them. The prayer warriors, worshipers and even the greeters...there's something about every single person that captures a special place in my heart. Every singer and every person who plays music (or makes a joyful noise), I'd like to thank you for making my worship experience a little more amazing. I appreciate you. Sunday school teachers who teach me how to live for God better and an amazing Pastor who breaks down the Word for me to understand more fully, thank you for sharing words of wisdom with a godly passion.

God bless each of you! Not long until we'll be joining those who have gone on before us. Yes, I'm thankful for those people too. What a day that will be when we're all together worshiping the Lord for eternity. I'm glad we're all a part of God's family

To each of you, new and old, from front to back, and left to right...you add sweet dimension to my life. I am grateful for each of you today. I do not tell you enough I'm sure, and probably even take you for granted often, but...today I want to pause long enough to let you know I am thankful for each of you.


Saturday, November 5, 2016

A Unique Date #Thankfulin(F)All

Today, I'm thankful for a date with my hubby.  

I had a unique date with my hubby this afternoon. Actually, it was the first time he's ever asked me to go hunting with him. While I'm not the gun-type, I do love nature and was excited to spend this special time with my man.

It was perfect. There I sat, basking in the warm sunshine as gentle breezes teased with colorful, falling leaves. Only the sounds of the deep woods could be heard. I watched for a moment as a bird soared overhead a time or two then disappeared. Yellow butterflies fluttered about playfully. Oh, and I can't forget the occasional gnat and fly buzzing about! We sat for about an hour and caught sight of a sneaky racoon scampering quickly down the lane and over the rise.

 I was disappointed because we saw no deer; but what a wonderful evening we had enjoying the great outdoors together. All became still and quiet as the sun began to set and things settled down for the evening. Simple but perfect. Me and my man walked hand in hand over the hill and through the woods back to our vehicle. I felt a little bit like God must have at the end of His days in Creation....and He (she) saw that it was good. 

Thank you, Lord.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Home #Thankfulin(F)All

Today, I am thankful for home.

I've had the privilege to stay-at-home all day today. I've enjoyed it! Fully and completely. There's nothing too fancy about it, but it is my place. My space.

Ah! Mellow music playing softly in the background, the still-too-warm-November sunshine beaming through the windows and door, the whirling of the old washer cleaning my family's clothing and a welcoming, fall, fragrance wafting from my trusty wax warmer...home. 

I'm thankful for a home to clean (most of the time), for a place to share life with family, and a place to come to at the end of busy, exhausting days. A safe, peaceful haven. A place to enjoy the quietness or, on occasion, the noise of laughter and the bustling of family nights...home.

While I'm thankful for my actual dwelling place here on this earth. I'm also thankful for my other home...prepared especially for me by my Maker, the one I've yet to see. Yes, a place where I'll see Him face-to-face, worship at His feet, and walk with Him on streets of gold forever and always. Home.

Thank you, Lord, for HOME. I am blessed~

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Eye Sight #Thankful In (F)All

Today, I'm thankful for my eye sight. For the ability to see. For natural and spiritual eyes. Thank you, Lord.

I often take it for granted, but lately things have been getting blurrier and it has been harder to focus. Natural eye sight. I've relied more often than not on my trusty Dollar Tree readers the last couple months. ("Over 39 1/2 eyes," the doc said.) I've went from having one pair to having several strategically placed in different rooms of the house. I can't read without them.

In the kitchen, I can't read recipes or directions. In my living room, I can't read my computer or books. In my bathroom, I can't read medicine labels or identify which bottle is shampoo and which is conditioner. I rely on my readers.

When I go out and about, I need them too. I'm good to drive, but cannot fill out forms, operate gas pumps or do the business on the little pad at the Walmart checkout. I cannot fill out a deposit slip at the bank either. I rely on my readers.

I find the same is true of my spiritual eye site. Just like our natural eyes can become feeble and need help, so can our spiritual eyes. Things can become blurry quite quickly during those times. Things look different to me than they do to others. I've found myself asking God multiple times recently to help me see more like He sees. Lord, clear up my sight so I can view things from your perspective. I want to put on my spiritual readers!

When I don't have my spiritual readers on, every situation seems to be blown out of proportion. I can get confused and not know which path to take. I may even find myself stuck in a pit that I didn't see coming. BAM! Teach me to look at things from your point of view, Lord.  My sight gets cloudy and I find myself in a rut more often than I'd like to admit. I need those spiritual readers in every room of of my spiritual life too. How about you? Are you praying this prayer with me today?

Through His eyes anything is possible. From His vantage point, what seem like mountainous , victory-stealing obstacles are merely tiny molehills.  Those things that appear blurry and impossible to overcome are but light things for Him. That sickness? Disease? Only a word from Him and it has to vacate the premises. We only need to clear our sight and rely completely on Him. A choice we have to make! Will we continue throughout our days not trusting God, or will we put on our Faith readers and trust Him completely?

Lord, thank you for my natural eye sight and for the ability to see in the natural, but I also want to be able to see correctly in the spiritual.  And, for those times when readers aren't enough and I need a new prescription straight from the throne of glory, please help me to see that too. Help me to trust you and look through eyes and lens' of faith. Help me to always focus upon you...to rely upon you in every circumstance and situation. 

Thank you today, Lord - Day 3 - for my eye sight.




Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Relationships & A Loving Father - Thankful In (F)All

I intended to begin writing yesterday, November 1, but here it is day 2. Better late than never, right? Life happens like that. So unpredictable!

I'm attempting to continue on with a new challenge: to spend 30 days of being truly thankful. I suppose I'll call it the  -

Thankful In (F)All Challenge

November 1:  I would have to say that I am especially thankful for every relationship in my life. The ones that are healthy and growing, the ones which are struggling and need work, and also the ones which have yet to begin. I'm thanking God for each person in my life past, present and future...for what they've brought to the table of my life. Thank you, Lord!

Today: I thank the Lord for His love and for teaching me, day by day, to truly trust and depend upon Him. (Even while I've been acting like the children of Israel and going around the same mountain over and over!) I thank Him for teaching me the hard stuff and showing me where I fall short...but He doesn't stop there. I'm thankful  He never leaves me alone and expects me to do that changing and figuring it out on my own. He is truly a loving Father. My heart is grateful. I want to be yielding to Him in all ways. Headed toward the Promise Land~ Thank you, Lord!

"I will bless the Lord at all times: his praise shall
continually be in my mouth." Ps. 34:1