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When I am shaken…

Sometimes it feels like I am in the world’s biggest shaker bottle. I am shaken and tossed about so that I cannot find my footing. Life is like that sometimes. It usually happens to us unexpectedly because if we were to anticipate it we could counter with appropriate action. So what’s a girl to do when she is shaken and tried?

As I was reading, Psalm 46 this morning, I kept rereading verse 3, “Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah.” In order to anticipate and see what to do before this happens, I have to return to verse 1-2. Because God is a refuge, strength, and help, I do not have to fear when I am shaken up. I can recognize the shaking for what it is a testing of my faith. Dr. Henry Blackaby in His book, “Experiencing God“, calls these testings of the faith, markers, that we can look back to and see what God has done in the past and how He brought us through them. I am a planner by nature. I like to know what is coming and be ready with a battle plan, yet often life shakes us up with things we can’t possibly plan to handle. So, I have a new plan for me. When the shaking occurs, run to God immediately. Find refuge in His presence. Let His divine strength radiate through me. Ask for help that is beyond my ability, but comes directly from the Father. Will I ever falter? Sure, I will. Will I have a lapse in executing this new plan? More than likely. Yet, in this, I would hope that next time life shakes me, I will bounce back a little quicker than last time. I will trust God more than last time.  I will rest in God’s presence more and as I learn and grow He will make me over into the Christian He wants me to be.

The shaking of life is going to happen. It is inevitable, but, sweet friends, we are not alone. God is there.

Blessings to you!

#psalm46challenge

When Compassion Meets Opportunity

And of some having compassion, making a difference.’ Jude 22

Well, we are headed back to the ball field. Tonight our little corner of southwest Georgia has begun our annual church softball league. I will say up front that as a former player of this sport, I love when the season comes around again. There is something electric when you get to the ball field. I loved playing softball in high school. I loved watching my boys play baseball growing up. Now, I get to watch them in the church softball league. I’m excited.

I do know that there are times when stuff that takes place at the ball field gets a “bad rep”. Parents going overboard, or kids having meltdowns etc., but in all fairness there is a lot of positives that can happen on our favorite diamond. One it teaches our younguns teamwork, and how to get along well with others. When they get out on the work force after school has ended, they are going to have to know how to get along with other people. It teaches to pursue excellence and doing your best. Also, great lessons to learn before thrust into the situation in your twenties. So for all intensive purposes, you can learn what to do when the pressure is on, and also what not to do.

It really warms my heart when I look back at the coaches my boys had at the ball field. They both had ones that worked with them and helped them, and above all showed them compassion when it was needed. They took the opportunity to show my boys the character it takes to achieve greatness. The boys often discuss the ball field antics now that they are older. The coaches that they remember are the ones that showed them how to strive for excellence, but also understood that character and compassion would be what they would benefit from the most.

So for all those sweet folks that will be out there on ball field across America. Remember, your kid might not be the next great one on the ball field, but if he is wouldn’t it be better for him to have character and compassion before he takes on the world of sports. We sure to need more of those!

Beautiful You

This week I watched a powerful video. It focused on women, all different, yet all beautiful. So often, I think we miss out when we look in the mirror. I am guilty of looking in the mirror, and seeing only my flaws. The weight I have put on over the last several years, the wrinkles that have etched their way across my face, the gray hairs poking out in abundance have had me buffaloed into thinking this is all and only what everyone sees. Gone are the days of looking in the mirror and seeing the beauty of bright eyes, lines that are evident of a life filled with laughter, and strength in a face having endured and overcome great trials and circumstances. I need those days back. How do you get them back?

Upon more reflection and soul searching, I believe to find our way back to the beauty in the mirror is learning to look at ourselves the way the Lord (and those that love us best) see us. “We are the apple of His eye.” “We are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus.” (Ephesians 2:10) “Beautiful are the feet of them who bring good news.” (Isaiah 52:7) “He made all things beautiful in his time.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1) God doesn’t look at us and see just our individual features. He sees us as His child, the one that He loves. The more we become a reflection of Jesus; the more beautiful we become.

If you look up beauty in the Bible, you will most often find when beauty is spoken of it is spoken about the Lord. The most beautiful women I know are ones who allow the beauty of the Savior to shine through them. It shows in their eyes and smile. When we look at them, we see the reflection of Jesus. Don’t get caught in the trap of the devil. He will tell you that you are not beautiful, and you are not good enough because you don’t look like the women you see in the world. Have you noticed you may see someone, and think “they sure are pretty” then you find out they have an ugly spirit, or they open their mouth with cutting words. Our perspective quickly changes, doesn’t it?

When you look at yourself in the mirror, look for the reflection of Jesus in you, only then will you see real beauty. You will see what God sees…A Beautiful You!

“And let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us: and establish thou the work of our hands upon us; yea, the work of our hands establish thou it.” Psalm 90:17

God Bless you as you find your beauty!

Amy

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!

It’s all about trust!

Every day we face the fact that we do not know what the day will bring. With each day the potential of joy, celebration, and expectation may be realized. We may find disappointment and heartache when the day has concluded. No matter what the day will bring we have the undeniable assurance that God is with us. We have the belief that no matter what circumstances overwhelm us our God is a constant presence to under gird and uplift us.

So often in the life we live, we fail to place our confidence in God to face the trials and tribulation in front of us. Trials will come to us all. They have a way of rearing their ugly head when we are weary and attack us when we are down. Often we place our confidence in other sources than to rely on the one who is ready to share our burden and give us peace. Psalm 118:8 reads, “It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man.”

We know in our heart that we must turn to God in tribulation because He alone knows best how to face each problem, but how often do we fail to turn to Him in time of need. The Psalms are full of precious promises and if we focus on these in our times of indecision, we would be lead in the right and true path that leads straight to our Heavenly Father.  Psalm 37:3 reads, “Trust in the Lord…” as does Psalm 37:5 and countless others. God wants us to follow his leading and trust Him with the results no matter what that results may be.

If we let God be who He is, we would find ourselves in the perfect place to worship and praise Him with the results our circumstances bring.  Psalm 31:19 reads, “Oh how great is thy goodness, which thou hast laid up for them that fear thee; which thou hast wrought for them  that trust in thee before the sons of men.”  It is all about trust. Who are you going to trust your day to day living to? Yourself, others, or God? Whether we want to admit it or not, the world is watching us. As Christians, they want to see people who are real and those that have a great trust in a great God. When they look at you and me what do they see?

I put my arm around my son last night as he was facing a disappointment. Something that in the grand scheme of things may not be that important, but it was real to him and to me. We discussed the disappointment and shed a few tears too. What can I say, we were hurting, yet as we worked our way through it we talked about God and how he was there for us in the middle of it all. We trusted God to know what was best for us and surrendered our will to His will.

We had great trust in a great God, and in the midst of the circumstance we experienced a great peace!

In My Weakness

Over the past few days a song has been playing over and over in my mind. This seems to happen to me quite often. Most of the time I find it is a song that I don’t want playing over and over in my mind. It is usually one that I gets on my nerves, or one with extremely weird or “hokey” lyrics going dun, dun, dun in my brain. This week however it has been different. It is a song that came out several years ago recorded by the “Singing Americans” which was a gospel group based in North Carolina. The name of the song is “In My Weakness”.

In my weakness, he is strong. In my need he lingers on. When I come to the end of all I am, and I place my trust in him, that’s where his strength begins… in my weakness.”

I really feel like God placed that song in my mind for a particular reason. The last few weeks have been crazy. My family has been fighting sickness, and to be honest I have been weak and just plain weary. A tiredness that has settled over me and I can’t seem to catch my breath. Then day before yesterday, this beautiful song began to resonate in my brain. When a moment of quiet overshadows me, the music washes over my heart and mind, and plays the sweet harmony of “In My Weakness.”

Maybe you are where I am today, you are tired and weary fighting the good fight of faith. Maybe you are just tired with the overwhelming amount of things that have to get done today.  Sometimes when we are the most weary are the times we can’t stop and rest. Yet, we have the promise of His strength.  How can we truly know the depth of the strength of Christ till we come to the end of what is in our power to do? His strength takes control when our strength comes to an end. Many times in my own life I find I try to go forward in my own strength thinking I can handle all the problems of day to day life, but it is not about what I can do. As much as I try to tell myself I am strong, I see my weakness, but that is okay. When I recognize just how weak I am, It frees me to rest and rely on the one whose strength is perfect.

Paul said it best when inspired by God in 2 Corinthians 12:9 to write, “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

The world will tell you that you are strong enough to handle all that life throws at you. Be strong and pull yourself up. In his word however we find the true key to making it along in this life.  Be willing to admit you are weak, and rely on the strength of one who is more than capable and willing to carry your burdens for you. Paul rejoiced in his problems. Why did he do this? He knew that when he did the power of Christ would rest upon him. We need to give to God the cares and problems of this life and stop wearing ourselves out trying to carry them alone. We don’t need to be afraid to show our weakness before our Heavenly Father. He knows all things. We do need to recognize it for ourselves. Have you come to the end of all you can do and all that you are? His strength is there. Claim it.

“I place my trust in him, that’s where his strength begins… in my weakness.”

A Call To Courage

Dr. David Livingstone was a famous missionary working in the uncharted areas of Africa. A group of friends and supporters wrote him a letter proclaiming: “We would like to send other men to you. Have you found a good road into your area yet?”

Dr. Livingstone sent this message in reply: “If you have men who will only come if they know there is a good road, I don’t want them. I want men who will come if there is no road at all.”

What challenges lie ahead of you? What roads would you be willing to go down if you knew you would not fail? God has given to us so many places in his Word to cling to when we are faced with a trial or challenge that is bigger than we are able to handle. In the first chapter of the book of Joshua, Joshua was faced with an incredible task which was to take over as leader of the nation of Israel. I am sure he had much anxiety knowing he would have to fill Moses shoes. Joshua would be following one of the greatest leaders in the history of the world. The Lord came to Joshua and spoke to him these words in Joshua 1:9, “Have not I commanded you be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.”

We can also take great comfort in these words. During the times of our lives when fear has surrounded us, He shows to us that we can have courage because He is on our side. I am reminded of Paul the apostle, when faced with an overwhelming challenge, penned these words, “For when I am weak then He is strong.” Perhaps God places these trials and challenges before us to see if we know who to run to in the midst of adversity. He wants us to rely on Him for all of our needs. He wants us to trust Him when the way before us is dimly lit. He wants us to follow Him with faith knowing He will not lead us astray. We may find ourselves in the situation where we cannot see the hand of God, but we know and can always trust that he has our best interests at his heart. You and I can have the courage needed to face the challenges before us. All that we need is readily available in Jesus Christ. We must run toward him and then go forward with Him and face the obstacles and challenges with courage and conviction.

Don’t let obstacles keep you from moving forward. Jesus is looking for people who will be willing to venture into uncharted territories and face whatever lies ahead.

Be a trailblazer for God!

“We never become truly spiritual by sitting down and wishing to become so. You must undertake something so great that you cannot accomplish it unaided.” —Phillips Brooks

The Wall

As we look through history there are many famous walls or barriers.  The Great wall of China is an awesome sight to behold from all the pictures I have seen. It also has been featured in many movies and documentaries. It is a wall of beauty and magnificence. One of the wonders of the world that is amazing in its construction and ingenuity.

Yet, there are other walls that stir in us a feeling of anger or sorrow. I can’t imagine how it must have felt to those who were separated at the time of the building of the Berlin wall. Families upon countless families were separated by every brick. I can almost hear the cries and even screams of those who were pulled away from loved ones not to be able to have any contact with them and knowing deep within your heart you may never see them again. It was a joy to witness the documentary and news footage of the barrier covered in graffiti  being broken down.  It was wonderful to see this wall that was once impregnable now removed and new hope springing forth.

How often in our own life do we construct barriers of our own? and What causes us to build walls to separate us from those who we love and love us? It could be fear of being hurt or our own past failures. Or perhaps, it could be a lack of confidence or fear of new failure.  Several factors come to mind as I ponder why we build walls of self protection around ourselves.  In Ephesians chapter 3, God’s Word tells us how Christ has quickened us and that he loved us so much that he made a way for us to have a new life through his Son, Jesus Christ. He has made a way for us by faith in him. We do not work for it, but believe it by faith. 

So often I see people who do not know who they are in Christ. They have accepted his gift of salvation by faith, but they live defeated, unhappy lives. Due to fear and failure the walls around them are built higher and higher. Maybe you find yourself in this situation.  How do we stop the cycle? 

In Ephesians 2:13-14, we read, “But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ, For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us.” Just as Jesus broke down the wall so we would be able to reach to God through what he did on the cross, he can also break down the walls of our own making.  Do you have fear? These verses tell us that he is our peace. Do you feel hurt or failure in your life? Jesus is near ready to draw us close and be our strength and our success.  We all are nothing outside of the grace of God.  Jesus chose the road of suffering and anguish so we could be free.  If he can break down the wall between us and a holy, righteous God,  He surely can break down our walls of hurt, fear or failures!

The next question is “Will we let Him?”

The Confidence Factor

As I was growing up my mother was the person who had the greatest impact on my movie and television watching. For the most part I guess you could say, we watched what she wanted to watch.  This is the reason I developed a great love for musicals. She adored them. We would watch them often and she also had the 33′ long playing records for the most memorable ones, and we would listen to them for hours.  There is just something about a person running out on a hillside and bursting into song.  (Some may call this corny, but I happen to love it! 🙂 )  Which brings me to one of my favorite movies of all time is “The Sound of Music”.  I remember the awe I felt as a little girl watching it for the first time. It was fantastic!!!

When Maria leaves the convent to go and work for the Von Trap Family, Maria sings as she travels the song, “I’ve got confidence.” She sings joyfully of how great she will be and how the children will respect her. As she sings her voice gets stronger and stronger and she gets more and more confident in herself and in her abilities.   Then she sees the house how large and looming it is and she stops completely in her tracts, and whispers a prayer,  “Oh, help!” When it was crunch time, she knew where she needed to go for her strength and comfort.

How often I feel that way myself. I find myself running along and thinking that I have the confidence I need to do the massive amount of things I have to do.  Too often the Lord has to stop me in my tracts and show me it is not about the confidence I have in myself, but the confidence I have in Him.  There have been many times lately when I my whispers of “Oh Help!” have resonated through my home, at work, and even at church.  I am thankful we have a God who is patient, kind, loving and especially patient with this child of His.  In my distress I know I am not alone.  He hears and answers my prayers though many times those prayers are prayers of desperation or confession of my own shortcomings that have placed me in the deperate circumstances in which I find myself entangled.

While having my devotions yesterday, I came across this verse in 1 John 5:14-15, “And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will he heareth us: And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.”  When my confidence wavers, I can have confidence in him in all things.  He knows what I need and what is best for me, therefore I need to ask him what his will is for me every day.  God is the only one who is truly worthy to carry our confidence. Over and over He has proved himself true and faithful in my life. I can give him all my burdens and hurts and have confidence that He can carry them without any help from me. 

This is my Confidence Factor. I need not have confidence in any other.