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Good Morning, Grace

So, it really happened. The very thing I tried to avoid happening did indeed happen on the platform of our church in the Sunday morning service. Let me explain. My husband and I were going to be singing a special in the service with our Minister of Music and his wife. I was really excited about this. We had been planning it for some time and it was our first time to be singing as a quartet. We had practiced and were ready to go. The song was placed in the order of service after the 2nd song sung with the praise team and congregation. For the first two songs I was singing in the choir loft in my normal spot. I would have to make my way down around the corner of the band in an opening to the platform. I motioned to our guitar player and asked him to move the music stand over so I would have room to slip through the opening easily when it was time to sing. All was well till I was about to round the corner and my foot caught on the music stand. It made a loud noise and I did catch it from falling over. Good Morning, Grace!

I did something this time that years earlier I would not have been able to do. I took a deep breath, smiled and let it go. Can I tell you straight up that this is not because of a work of Amy. This is the evidence that Jesus has been doing something in me. It is all Him, not me. Over the past few years, God has been teaching me that there are times when you have to let things go. Before I probably would have not have been able to concentrate on singing my part because I was so embarrassed about tripping. I would have fretted and wondered if everyone was thinking, “Wow, what a klutz?” or “We had a beautiful flow of worship going and you messed it up.” Psalm 126:2 reads,  “Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing: then said they among the heathen, The Lord hath done great things for them.”  Now I realize that this verse is in the middle of a praise song that is sung in the Old Testament how God had released Israel from captivity. It is a song of degrees that they sang over and over each round with more intensity than the time before. However, I could relate to this verse on reflection this morning. The Lord has taught me it’s okay to laugh at yourself, to sing on, and let the small stuff go! This has not been an easy lesson to learn, but I am grateful that the Lord loves us where we are in our walk and helps us along with patience and wonderful grace. Remember, You also may be an encouragement to someone who has been struggling to not sweat things that need to be released. So with His help I will laugh and sing it loud, “Let it go, Let it go, Let it go!”

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“Shoulda, Woulda, Coulda”

I should have handled that in another way…

I sure would have handled that differently…

I could have done it so much better another way…

How often does the tape recorder of second guessing yourself play the same tune, different verse in your head? Me? Quite often I would have to say. For years, I have struggled on and off with the business of perfectionism. As a disclaimer, I will say upfront that I am aware that I am not perfect, painfully aware. Most of the time, with the Lord’s help, of course, I have learned the signs of perfectionism coming out in my life and dealt with it quickly with the help of His Word. Sometimes though I experience the tape recorder playing over and over in my head with all the “what if’s?” and “If Only’s…”

We, perfectionists, at one point or another, find ourselves falling in the trap of evaluating every minor issue in our lives thinking we could have done it better, if only… I find that when I find myself susceptible to this trap is when I being to turn my thoughts and feelings inward rather than focusing my thoughts upward on Christ. Proverbs 23:7 reads, “As a man thinketh in his heart, so he is…” It is in my mind and my heart where these battles are fought. We know that when we pull negative thoughts toward what we did or said it brings us to the place where we feel we are lacking and come up short of what we really wanted to do or say. Our negative thinking can be our undoing. So, when we feel these negative thoughts coming up, call it what it is “stinkin thinkin”! I heard this term several years ago, though I am not sure where, and it resonated with me.

I need to let go of the “stinkin thinkin” thoughts of I shoulda, woulda, or coulda done it differently. Sure hind sight is 100%. The Bible tells us in Philippians 2:2 that you “be likeminded”, and then in verse 5 of chapter 2 to, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.” We need change our frame of mind and focus on how Christ thinks about us. Scripture reveals to us over and over how God feels about us. He loves us. (1 John 4:8; John 3:16). We are valuable to Him (Luke 12:6-7; Matthew 10:31). The list can go on and on. Once and for all we need to take Philippians 4:6-8 seriously. Do not fear and think on things that are true and right before God. Will we still struggle from time to time? Yes, the devil wants to see us beat ourselves up to the point that we cannot be effective for Christ. When the negative thoughts arise. Quickly squelch them with what God has to say about you.

We do not have to live by the shoula, woulda, coulda merry-go-round! We can overcome with the power of Christ and His Word. May you find your freedom from “stinkin thinkin” and rest in Christ alone.

Blessings to You!

When you can’t see His hand…

“Trials dark on every hand and we cannot understand all the ways that God will lead us to that blessed promised land, but He guides us with His eye, and we’ll follow till we die. for we’ll understand it better by and by.” ~Charles Albert Tindley (1905)

The third verse of the hymn “By and By” has always been the one I think of first of when singing this song. I am not sure exactly why that is. The third verse or stanza is probably one of the verses of the hymn least sung, because growing up in a small rural church our tendency was to sing the first, second, and fourth (or last). Can I get a witness? 🙂 As I contemplate the meaning of these precious words, I can’t help but think that the message is as true today as it was back in 1905. When we look on our own life and the lives of those around, we cannot always see what God is doing. The trials and circumstances taking place in our lives can cause us to doubt that He is even working at all. If you were to visit your favorite Christian bookstore, you would find a wealth of options on finding God’s will for your life. While the principles many of these books resonate with us, we must realize that God is the God of the individual, and carries out His plan in each life according to that person’s needs. While there may be some things in common between us, God may also choose to move in another’s life in a way that might be a mystery to them and to us.

Have you ever said to yourself, “I don’t know what God is doing in this situation, but I hope He’s doing something!” Believe me when I say, God is working! Sometimes we only see the trials and the dark places. The places may feel like they are closing in and around us and we are overcome with the gravity of them. We feel weighed down and sluggish as if we were wading through a bog. We cannot find relief and feel our path will never change. We want God to step in and pull us out of the mire of our circumstances. ‘I sink in deep mire, where there is no standing: I am come into deep waters, where the floods overflow me. I am weary of my crying: my throat is dried: mine eyes fail while I wait for my God. ‘ Psalms 69:2-3  My friend, you are not alone. David felt these same feelings. Let’s see what God did. ‘Let not them that wait on thee, O Lord God of hosts, be ashamed for my sake: let not those that seek thee be confounded for my sake, O God of Israel. But as for me, my prayer is unto thee, O Lord , in an acceptable time: O God, in the multitude of thy mercy hear me, in the truth of thy salvation. Draw nigh unto my soul, and redeem it: deliver me because of mine enemies. I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify him with thanksgiving. ‘ Psalms 69:6,13,18,30 The answer is seemingly simple. David sought the face of God, and God heard and answered his cry.

The Christian life is full of mountain top experiences. Those are the fun times. When we see God move, work, and show out all that He can do. Equally, the Christian life has a valley between the mountains. In the dark times, when we don’t understand and have a rough time seeing His hand moving in our life, Stop. Lift up your head and your voice and seek the face of God. In my life’s darkest places, I have learned more about God in the valleys than on the mountains. I have learned He works and moves in ways I cannot begin to understand. Really, it is not my place to understand. It is for me to seek Him and trust the one who sees both the mountain and the valley in a glance. So I with faith will follow till the end of my life. Hold tight to Jesus, my dear friend. “We will understand it better by and by.

Blessings to you!

Jesus and The Homeschooler

What pops in your mind when you hear the word “Homeschooler”? It has been a term that has been coined by those who feel the calling of God to teach their children at home. Some of you out there may only have encountered a home school student at the time of the year when the National Spelling Bee is shown on Television. May I just say in the kindness of your heart don’t judge all home school children by these few. My boys would keel over if they thought the world saw all home school students in this light. My boys were good students, smart, active in the community, active in church, active in county sports programs, and were happy, healthy, “dirt under their fingernails” fun kids. We made our decision to home school our children because we felt it was in their best interest and we did feel called to do it. I will state that if you do not feel called to home school, “DON’T DO IT!” It will be a recipe for disaster.  We all have to do what is best for our families. I do not look down on anyone who chooses to use the traditional system, yet I would like the same courtesy from you! 🙂 Thanks in advance. I will go on to say that this system worked for us, and now that we have crossed the finish line, I am glad that we did it. Can I say also that I have two great guys! At 20 and 21, they are well rounded, awesome guys. I am a proud mama!

You might wonder what brought on this particular post at this time. I spoke with one of my fellow home school friends who has a ways to go to cross the finish line of homeschooling. She has 5 amazing kids, the youngest three being adopted. She needed someone to talk to about her junior in high school. We had a great conversation! We were there for each other. It’s what we Home School Mama’s do! As I began to think on the journey we have taken. I know that when I had moments of doubt, God was there with me to help me through it. I was reading in my quiet time today in the book of Matthew and saw something I had not seen before, or maybe just read over it. Today, I saw it in a new light. In Matthew 11:28-30, we read, “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 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. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” The middle verse of this is what caught my attention. We all need to stop, listen, and take on what Jesus is trying to tell us. We need to learn of him where we are. We do need that corporate worship each week where we meet with other believers, (Please do not stop meeting at your church with your brothers and sisters in Christ. This is needed for all of us) yet, we also need that daily time alone with Him in our homes.  What do you need to know? “Come unto me!” What do you need to let go of? “Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden!” What do you need to feel less stressed?” “Come unto me… and I will give you rest.” What do you need to take on? “Take my yoke” Pray over every situation, before you commit to it.  We can only do all of these things by learning at His feet. We need God’s wisdom and guidance. We need to be his student. We need to be his homeschooler!

Okay, maybe you think I kind of roped you in with that last line. I do promise I will not ask when you will be on TV at the National Spelling Bee. Because if you are, Hey, I am okay with that. Seriously though, I have found in my own life that some of the greatest lessons God has taught me was when I was studying and learning from Him in the quietness of my own home. The fact of the matter is we need to sit at His feet every day. Take some time today to “learn of Him”. These lessons will last a lifetime.

I love the song by Jennifer Deibler,

“In the calm of Your presence
I am listening, Lord
I am still, I am quiet
I am Yours

Let Your Word speak to me
Let Your Spirit draw near
I will obey
The truth that I hear

In the calm of Your presence
I am listening, Lord
I am still, I am quiet
I am Yours”

Blessings to you!

Till I See More…

As one of the masses that is beginning to embrace technology as a force to be reckoned with, I have found a new way to make it work for me. I installed a Bible app on my smart phone. I have had the app for a few months, and enjoy being able to access God’s Word at any given moment. This app also picks a verse as a daily power verse every morning and evening which is super cool when its notification pops up on my home page. Saturday morning, my verse was Psalm 19:1, “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.” Awesome right? As I went outside a short time later, I was all ready to admire “the firmament.” Then I saw a grayish, dreary mass of clouds blocking the warm rays of the sun. As my hubby and I were driving to our next destination, I began to think, “wonder why God let Psalm 19:1 be my power verse for the day?” As I began to focus on the dark masses, I realized that just because I cannot see the brightness of the sun or the beautiful blue sky does not mean that it is not there. Right now, the beauty is only obscured from my view.

Often in my life, circumstances often obscure from my view what God is doing in my life. Circumstances have a way of getting in your face, and sadly that is all that we can see. Our focus can only see the darkness and the ugliness of the situation. Our bodies can only feel the pressure and pain inflicted. Our hearts can only be weighed down by hurtful words or hateful actions of another. Yet, when I with blind trust look for God who is working behind the circumstances, I see Him by faith. I can see beyond the ugliness and see His beauty shining bright with the warmth I receive from Him. I understand the pain I feel Jesus endured and overcame with help that was not of this world. I gather from His Word the pain and agony He felt when betrayed and abandoned by those close to Him. I trust and base my faith in the One I cannot see, but who knows all and sees all and has been beside me all along.

Dear Friend, I don’t know what you are having to go through today. Circumstances may be weighing you down where you can’t find your way. It is in these moments we can cling to God. He will be there till you see a clear sky. Remember Romans 8:28-31 is still true. Pray and wait for the Son!

‘And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? Romans 8:28-31

Strength for a Weary Soul

Here it is! Wednesday they call it. This day is also known as “Hump Day”. It’s time to get excited, folks. We are halfway through the week, and, yet… I am tired. I need a great dose of strength. In my ramblings, I am reminded of a story I came across several years ago. Let me share it with you!

A young boy was on a hike through the woods with his father when he came upon a mid-size boulder.

“Dad,” he asked, “Do you think I can move that boulder?”

The father replied, “Yes, son, you can move that boulder if you use all of your strength.”

The boy pushed with all that was in him. He pushed and grunted and pushed some more, but the boulder would not budge. Frustrated, he said, “You were wrong, Dad, I can’t move it.”

The father replied, “You could have moved it if you used all of your strength, but you didn’t use all of your strength because you didn’t ask me for help.”

Many times in life we get weary, tired, and weak in God’s service. In my own life, when I become weary I have to go to the One who has endless strength. God is the only One who never tires, or grows weary. He has strength readily available to lift us up and sustain us. We can find rest for our body and soul at His feet. I have to admit that when I feel myself growing weary many times it is because I have not leaned on the Lord and gained the strength I need from Him. So I go! I go to Him. I sit beside Him and let Him teach me. I find comfort in His words and strength to continue with Him through my day.

Psalm 18:1-2 reads, “I will love thee, O Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust.”

Why do you suppose that David began this Psalm in this way?  By reading in the forward of the Psalm, you will find that this Psalm was written when David was being pursued by an angry Saul who wanted to kill him. David was living on the run, hiding in caves, sleeping on the ground and just trying to survive.  We can certainly see how weary and tired David had become physically and emotionally.  In this state, He chose to praise and declare his love to the one who was his daily strength. David may have been running, but he knew who to run to for the strength and encouragement that he needed.

Are you weary today? my friend. I know someone who has strength for your weary soul. Don’t wait. Sit with Him. Jesus has all the strength you need.

Let Go What’s Gone

I love a good heartfelt story. I guess I have always enjoyed them. I was watching a movie one day where the main character was trying to comfort a friend who had been hurt both physically and emotionally by someone. The main character put her arms around her friend and said, “Honey, you have to let go what’s gone!” The depths of those words have been going over and over in my mind the last couple of days. How often to I try to hang on to the things that are past. They need to be let go, yet I find myself grasping for the edge of those things and fighting to keep my fingertips on them. Like dandelions in the wind we chased as children, they flew away and were gone before we realized it. And yet we continue to reach back to grab the negative rather than turn forward and embrace what is positive.

This morning I was reminded of Hebrews 12:1, “Wherefore, seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,”  There are two types of baggage Paul is dealing with here. First, Paul talks about weights. When I came across this verse for the first time, I kind of read it all together as “weights and sins“, but they are two distinctly different things. Weight, I have learned, can be anything that is holding back our progress. Negative feelings and actions can bind us tight. Trappings of the past and the “what if’s” can burden us to the place where can’t put one foot in front of another.  Hurtful words or actions by someone or regrets of our own makings can be weighing us down. A weight could also be a seemingly good thing. Perhaps longing for the way it used to be can stop you from moving forward. Sometimes I long for the days when the boys were little. Looking back and cherishing the memories of them is good, but it can become a weight when I focus solely on all the changes I would have made, and mourn all my mistakes.  Regrets can be cumbersome, they can tie us up and not only hinder our progress moving forward, but also can be so heavy it pulls us backward dragging our spirit low. This can also lead to depression if we are not careful. We need to lay the weights aside. Often we carry weights that were never meant for us to carry. Friend, what are you trying to hold on to that is locking you down from moving forward for God?

The second part of the verse is “the sin which doth so easily beset us.”  Believers all have sins which seem to give us a fit. We are tempted and find ourselves drawn to the same sin over and over. Our human nature did not dissolve when we became a Christian. It became something we would continue to deal with every day. Before we gave our life to God we didn’t care if we were sinning or not, but now that we are a Christian, and our goal is to be like Christ, we have to deal with our sin as it comes up. That’s where 1 John 1:9 comes in. Confessing our sin to God and receiving forgiveness that God offers moves us forward. It’s time we get serious about letting go of that sin we are trying to hang on to. It is time to let go and let God cleanse you. You must ask yourself, “Is the sin I am holding on to worth what it is doing to me and my relationship with God?”

Whether it is a weight or a sin you are fighting so desperately to hold on to, it is time to let go. Letting go will free us to do what the last part of Hebrews 12:1 tells us, “and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.” We all have a race that God has given us to run. It stretches before us and lasts a lifetime. In our hearts, we know we want to run the race well. If something in the past is weighing you down, or a sin plaguing  in the present and regret is locking you down, let go what’s gone. Do not keep dragging it back up. Brake free and run like mad in the race that is before you.  Philippians 3:13-14 “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before. I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”  Let go what’s gone, my friend. Jesus is waiting for you.