Stronger Together

“Red Rover, Red Rover send John right over!”  Of all the childhood games I played, I would have to say that “Red Rover” was not my favorite. Probably due to the fact that my hand grip was not very strong. In the game of  “Red Rover”, the line on the other side always seemed to know just the right place to hit to burst through our line. Children often are able to perceive the weakest link fairly quickly and where the line is most vulnerable. Unfortunately, I was targeted far more than I would like to admit. There came a time on the playground when I did what most children do. I grew. I got stronger. So only when I got stronger did the game of “Red Rover” become more fun. I was able to hold on tight. I was able to help my team out to a far greater degree. In those first few years of playing “Red Rover”, I would often wonder “I sure wish I could have some help down here on my end of the line.” Someone who would be willing to stand behind me, and help me hold my spot. Someone who could fortify my position so that I would not be the weakest part of the line. That is not how the game is played.

As in the game of “Red Rover”, I wonder if we have the same mindset  in the church. We band together to stand strong, but we are never hit where we stand the strongest. We are hit in the places where we are the weakest, and the most vulnerable. The Bible states in Romans 15:1, “We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves.” Often times we go to church and sit in our place, worship through song and message, fellowship with our fellow believers, or participate in the ministry God has placed us. These are all good things and we should be active in our churches and serve as God intends us to, but do we take the time to really see our fellow brothers and sisters  in Christ? Do we recognize the signs of one who is struggling? Do we pay attention to those who are trying to put on a good front, but in their eyes we see their pain? It is in these moments that we need to build them up in their faith. We need to take time to pray with someone who is crying in the bathroom, or mentions their frustrations in passing. If you are late for the service or singing in the choir, so what, it would be so much better to take hold of those “God divined” moments and bear up a brother or sister in Christ. We need to build each other up in our “most holy faith”. It is time to be proactive in our worship and our faith by putting our hands together and hanging on against the attacks from the outside. We can be so much stronger. We can be stronger together!

“Bear ye one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ.” ~Galatians 6:2

May God bless you in the journey,

Amy

Another Bend In The Road

One of my favorite lines from the movie, Anne of Green Gables, is “There is always another bend in the road.” The road I have traveled over the last 8 months has been one bend after another. About the time I get used to the path in front of me, another curve full of surprises looms ahead, and I wonder what new experiences I will have to face head on. I will say this last few months there has been some major changes in our family unit. My oldest son after graduating from high school began working at summer camp from memorial day through the last week of July. We then began focusing on getting him ready to enter college which is almost 7 hours away. The emotions that have gone along with all of this have been at times overwhelming. I am so happy and proud for him and all his accomplishments, but I sure do miss him. My youngest son began dual enrollment at a local college this semester so our homeschooling adventure has been  kicked into another gear. So life as we know it has drastically changed.

I am a planner by nature. To quote, Hannibal from the 1980’s show the A-team, “I love it when a plan comes together.” Surprises do not work very well in my daily routine. I wish I could say that I have learned the lesson of going with the flow or bends in the road of life, but I just haven’t achieved this yet. I wish for a moment that the road would spread out in front of me straight as an arrow with no curves, rocks to climb over, or hazards to avoid. This moment passes, and I realize that without the bends in life’s road there would be no variety. By seeing everything ahead of me would probably be even more scary. With the Lord by my side and a lantern to light the few feet in front of me, I press on. I let the Word of God be “a light unto my path” as it states in Psalms. Though there are many bends in the road ahead I have a blessed hope that the Lord will be with me every step of the way.  Perhaps you are struggling today not being able to see what will happen in the next few days or maybe the next few hours. Remember God is there no matter what you may face today. Be thankful for the bends in the road because God may be using them to grow your faith and develop a deeper relationship with him. The closer we are to Him the more ” the Light of the World” will illuminate our path. You may be climbing over some rough terrain on your path today. Take heart and press on for these moments will pass. Together we can move forward and when we look back on where we have been we will see that we have overcome. May God bless you today in the journey!

 

The Definition of Me

As you get to know the real me you might be surprised. We had a game at the Minister’s Wives Retreat. Let me explain how it worked. We had a list of several things that we had to find someone else in the room that had done that particular thing, and sign their name by it. The list ranged from anything from riding a horse to milking a cow or finding someone who has less than twenty pair of shoes which is very hard by the way especially in a group of women. As I was meeting all the different ladies, I realized the things that they had done or had not done did define them.
When I was 19 years old, my mother went to be with Jesus. Although this has reshaped my family unit, and the women I have become, this does not define me. I am a wife and a mother to two wonderful boys. They are a part of who I am, yet this does not define me. Another big event in my life came about when I was in a bad car accident 2 years ago. I broke one of my ankles and dislocated my other ankle. My life as I knew it had changed. I now deal with chronic every day. Again, The events that I have struggled through in my life does not define me.  My shirt size does not even define me. Am I making changes in my life and adopting a new healthy lifestyle? Yes, but all of this does not define who I am.
We all have bad circumstances and good circumstances that occur in our lives. Many of the things that happen are with in the realm of what we can control. However, A major portion of events and circumstances in our lives fall in the category of what we cannot control. Yet, these events do not define us.

Our definition needs to be set in one thing and one thing only,  our identity in Christ. You may like I have done in the past is spend more time focusing on what who I am and what I have done, rather than focusing on whose I am. I am God’s child! I am a daughter of the King! I have been forgiven those I did not deserve any compassion. When we come to Christ in humbleness and accept His gift of forgiveness when are forgiven and made over in the likeness of Christ. It is not about me! It is all about Jesus. Satan will try to come to you and discourage you with negative thoughts saying that you are unworthy and that you are defined by what you do and the women you are becoming. It is time to cast aside negative and discouragement, and let Christ cover you with the robe of His righteousness. Remember when God looks at me and you, He sees you with the filter of what Jesus accomplished on the cross. He paid for your sin and mine. Because I have accepted this gift He so freely offers, I have a new definition of me. It is a definition to build a life upon. “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature. Old things are passed away, behold all things are become new.”

‘Tis The Canning Season

The Canning and Freezing Season had arrived. It began week before last. It never ceases to amaze how quickly you have to jump in the middle of this, or you will miss the bountiful harvest. Long farms in Bainbridge, where we get all our veggies and produce, opens the day after Mother’s Day. It’s when our work begins. I put up ten gallons of squash because hubby is such a fan, and green beans and new potatoes have been coming from our sweet neighbors. Our corn has been ordered (20 dozen), and we will get it on Monday. Our Family is crazy about sweet corn! :)  During the summer months, if I don’t can and freeze my veggies, I will be sorry during the winter months. That’s the way it is with the harvest; you have to be waiting on it so as soon as it is ready you reap. Hubby and the Boys help me so much during this time! I could not do it all without them. I am glad that they like to enjoy all the bounty during the winter months. It gives us all something wonderful to look forward to.

Amazingly enough, The same principle applies in God’s Kingdom. You work and wait patiently for the harvest. When it is time to reap, you have to be ready or you might miss what God has for you to accomplish.  “But when the fruit is brought forth, immediately he putteth in the sickle, because the harvest is come. And he said, Whereunto shall we liken the kingdom of God? or with what comparison shall we compare it? It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when it is sown in the earth, is less than all the seeds that be in the earth: But when it is sown, it groweth up, and becometh greater than all herbs, and shooteth out great branches; so that the fowls of the air may lodge under the shadow of it.” ~ Mark 4:29-32

I can not sit idly by, and wait for the veggies to hop into the freezer. I have to process each one by working, praying, and gathering. With each process, small steps are taken. If you miss a step the end result will not be what is best. The aspects of sowing and reaping often apply to someone coming to the Lord in Salvation, and this is certainly true. However, the principles of sowing and reaping can also apply to our ministry. I need to be constantly working with the help of the Holy Spirit to reach others, and help them to grow and mature. In our Sunday School classes, the children in our neighborhoods, friends we meet shopping at Wal-mart, or any other ministry we are passionate about. I may see the results right away, but most often I have to wait for the harvest, continuing to work daily to cultivate the area where God has placed me. Then again, You and I may never know till we get to Heaven the impact we made on another’s life by encouraging and uplifting them, or being that voice of reason when others may fail them. Reaping is sweet, yet working in God’s Kingdom can bring you the greatest joy. We may shed tears over these dear ones, but joy will come.

Let us be busy sowing where God has placed us, and leave the result of the harvest up to Him. His Harvest will be a bountiful one!

Bitten By The Clutter Bug

Ok, I am here to admit it. I think my house has gotten the better of me. It’s time for things to go. So it begins. I have decided to take charge, and de-clutter my house again. Clutter seems to exist everywhere I look. I love to live by the philosophy: “A place for everything and everything in its place.” However, I must say that putting it into practice of late has been a struggle. My sweet friend is having a yard sale in two weeks, and she encouraged me to join in the fun with her. I heartily agreed. So I have found the perfect opportunity to rid the house of the clutter I have accumulated.

I must say that I thrive in a yard sale environment. I love them. If I see a yard sale sign, I will stop if it is at all possible. My husband may think that I have extra sensitive radar where yard sales are concerned, and He would be right. My problem, however, is that I often purchase things because they are a good deal, or I think I can repurpose them in some way. Often I will take stuff home that I don’t need (if that is even possible :) ), and my clutter is increased. I must be very careful to choose only things that I can truly use to make my household run smoother, or to make my home a more comfortable place to be.

In my spiritual walk, I often pass by mounds of clutter that I have let accumulate in my heart. These things are not necessarily bad things, but they shift my focus from the things that need to take priority in my life. We all take on the extra little things. These things can accumulate until there is so much to do that it overwhelms us. We find ourselves focusing more on doing things rather than being who God wants us to be. The Bible relates to burdens several times. One that comes to mind is Matthew 11:

29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

How often do we take on burdens that were not meant for us to bear. This is the clutter that I am referring to. God has specific tasks for each individual to perform. This is part of ministering in His Kingdom. Do we have so much clutter built up around us that we can’t see clearly the ministry to which He has called us? Are we overwhelmed with stuff, when we should be overwhelmed with God and His goodness?

It’s time to squash the clutter bug, and begin again fresh! Let’s remove the things in our lives that are causing us to falter in our walk, and renew our commitment to serve the Lord more faithfully. If anyone can help us remove the piles of clutter, God can. He can help us to see what our focus needs to be on, and carry out His kingdom work with a renewed heart.

God bless you in your journey!

The Power to Perform

I wish I had the gift of mastering one area of difficulty in my life, and then smoothly moving on to the next area that needs work without having to go back to said area again. The problem is that I do go back. You may call it the essence of my humanity, or you may call it a character flaw. I call it crazy. I try so hard to do everything I need to do every day. I have to do lists in my head, and most days I struggle with balancing what I know I need to do with what I want to do. Maybe by chance, I am not alone in this. The struggle to accomplish the base things on most days overwhelms me. Then I try to throw the areas that I need to change within the inner me on top of all this, I come close to losing my mind. As I was pondering all these crazy mixed up thoughts, I am reminded of Paul, and in Romans 7 penned these words:

18  For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.
19  For the good that I would, I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.

I know I’m not the only one who has conflicting emotions, and these thoughts on the human condition. I want so desperately to do what is right, but the struggle is great. I know that I am not perfect, but often that is my ideal when it should be the farthest thing from my mind. I feel I am constantly performing like a tightrope walker.

Several years ago, I had the opportunity to go to the circus, and see the tightrope walkers in action. It was amazing to me the balance that they were able to keep as they moved back and forth so high above the ground. I read later that the reason they are able to keep their balance is extreme concentration, and keeping their eye on a fixed point on the platform. They would begin with a rope just a couple of feet off the ground. The more experience they gained the higher the rope was moved up. The one point on the platform never changed. The jumps and even through the flips they preformed they did not waver in their focus. These arielists have the gift of balance. One thing I noticed is they did not panic when they appeared to be leaning over to far. They readjusted their focus, and remained calm. When I find I am struggling to keep balance, more often than not I have shifted my focus away from my focal point, Jesus Christ. The crowd may distract me, or I look at the location of my feet instead of at my focal point with my feet firmly planted on the rope. I need that daily steadying of the Holy Spirit, and the calming presence He provides. When I feel I am leaning to far over, I need to keep my focus on my Lord and His Word, remain calm, and let God give my feet a secure place to land.

Though the world may be watching us (and they are watching). We need to remember that we are performing for an audience of one, the Lord. Don’t feel the pressure to perform everything perfectly. Let us rely on God alone for our balance in a shaky world. Pleasing the Lord and solely focusing on Him should be our only concern.

Blessings to you!

Second Fiddle

Leonard Bernstein was once asked which instrument was the most difficult to play. He thought for a moment and said, “The second fiddle. I can get plenty of first violinists, but to find someone who can play second fiddle with enthusiasm–that’s a problem.
If we have no one to play second fiddle, we have no harmony.”

We have a wonderful opportunity to be the harmony in this life we have been given. In the “Me First” society we live in today, we can be the one who sets the tone in our homes, our churches and in our places of employment. When you put someone else ahead of your own desires and feelings, other people will notice and some may even ask “why”. You will then have the opportunity to tell them the difference that Christ has made in your life.

Whether you choose to acknowledge it or not, the world is watching you. They notice how you handle yourself in situations and how you react to adversity. They will also notice when you put someone else’s needs before your own.

Jesus continually through his public ministry put others needs first. He ate with publicans and sinners because he knew they had questions he could answer. He washed the disciples feet to show to them and us what being a servant really means. When Jesus was on the hillside teaching, He was sensitive to the needs of the people who were hungry, and preformed a miracle feeding 5,000 plus. He is a beautiful example of humility and sacrifice.

We need to willingly follow the example he set before us. If it was that important to the Lord, we can be assured that he would want us to live that way too. Living a life of service produces beautiful music that will touch the heart of God.

Let’s play the harmony with the notes of our life.