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Only Today…

I have in the past week been on a trek of profound reflection. It could be the fact that I became a great-aunt a week and a half ago. It could be the fact that my friend who graduated from high school the same year I did proclaimed on Facebook that she graduated 30 years ago. Wow. I’m not sure which one did it, maybe it was the combination of the two. However, I began to look over my life of the past, ahem, 30 years and began to take stock of what I have accomplished in those years. On first glance and pondering, it didn’t seem like much. As I looked deeper I realized that I have gone through quite a bit in those years. I have gained a wealth of experience and knowledge. I met and married an awesome man. I had two amazing boys who are Jesus loving, well-rounded, and daily amaze me. My husband and I have served in ministry for all of our married life together (almost 24 years at 3 churches). We have a great family and a wealth of friends. To you it may not seem that much, but that doesn’t matter. What truly matters is have I taken the time the Lord has given me and served Him to the best of my ability. Have I done everything perfectly? Not a chance. On reflection, I feel I have followed the Lord faithfully to this point. Would I have liked to have accomplished some great things? Well, Sure! but I know that this is not the end. I have today. I am not promised tomorrow so I will take the day I have been given and live it out how I know Jesus would want me to do. I can show compassion, I can love Him with my whole heart, I can serve others in the work place and in my home, and I can live out the plan He has set before me for today. No matter what amount of time I have left, I can finish well the course the Lord has for me. Paul wrote to Timothy in II Timothy 4:7, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:” This is what I want. I want to be counted among the faithful. A lifetime is made up of what we have done with all of our “todays”. We cannot do anything about yesterday or tomorrow. We have today. Let’s take our today, and put in it all that God would have us to do with it. Serving Him, Trusting Him, Loving Him, Worshiping Him, and Living Life with the purpose of bringing glory to His name will be my goal today. It is indeed a worthy calling!

How’s My Love?

Jesus said unto him, ‘Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.’ ”  ~ Matthew 22:37

One of the things I have tried to practice in my home is to tell each member of my family how much I love them. I wanted my boys to know as they were growing up that in any situation whether good or bad they were loved by me. Of course, I loved doing things to show them that I loved them. I feel this is indeed very important, but equally important is to say the words, “I love you!” Every time they were leaving to go anywhere or even off with friends. I would tell them to “Be careful, and I love you”. This did get a bit tricky when they moved into that age when saying “I love you” around other people can be embarrassing for a fellow to hear from his mother. So, we used code 143. (I Love You). It was something we did not explain to anyone. It was just something we did. It kind of cracked me up when sometimes when they got older. I would tell them 143 and they would respond back with, “I love you too”. We said it so much that it got to the point when it didn’t matter anymore. Our saying “love you” grew beyond the code. It became our second nature.

In our relationship with God as in our human interaction, we tell others we love God, and we even show our love by our actions, but when was the last time you told God, “I love you!” Maybe this has never occurred to you and that’s okay. I was talking with someone not long ago and this was the case with her. She began telling God she loved him and it made a difference in how she viewed God. She stated that it encouraged her to hear someone praying telling God that they loved Him. Our verse today in Matthew encourages us to love God with all that is in us, our heart, our soul, and our mind. Leave nothing out. We must love completely and love big! God has done so much for us. God shows his love to us, but He also tells us He loves us. (John 3:16) God is the very essence of love. (1 John 4:8) With all that He has done to extend love to us should we not want to love Him back with all that is in us: Heart, Soul, Mind? With our whole heart, the essence of who we are, we serve and love God and others. With our soul, spiritually seeking to love God as He loves while following his commandments. With our mind, using the knowledge and wisdom God has bestowed upon us discerning when we need to go the extra mile in loving.

So I give it to you, my friend. How’s your love? Do you love God with all of your heart, soul and mind. I have to say for myself, I have come a long way, yet I have not arrived. It is something that I am striving for daily. I want to love God the way He wants me to. I do need to remember that this is an area God can help me with.  ‘And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God. Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, ‘ (Ephesians 3:19-20)  God wants us to know his love! He can do more than we ask or think. So together, Let’s ask!

 

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!

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!

 

My Plan for You

Plans can change in an instant. You may get up one morning and have your day planned out in the greatest detail, but often things do not always work out the way you plan. Sometimes what God has planned for you that day is completely different from your well, laid out, detailed plans. How important is it that each morning we give our daily agenda to the Lord? I would say very important. This was made even more clear to me on Wednesday two weeks ago. My agenda was set, and my plans were made, but in a brief moment everything changed. I don’t know how to even comprehend  how drastically things were turned around that day.

I am sure as I am here today that God knew everything that would happen that day and prepared the way before me. Psalm 23 comes to my mind “thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies, thou anointed my head with oil…” On Wednesday, two weeks ago,  I was in a bad car accident. I know that in the midst of the storm I was facing; God was preparing my path. He showed his mercy to me in a person He put there to hold my hand till the paramedics came. Also, in someone calling my husband after calling 911. He showed grace to me by letting my husband get there to talk to me before the paramedics pulled out.  He had the helicopter ready to take me to Tallahassee, and a trauma team ready to help me upon arrival.  He had each group of people in the right place at the right time. Though the road was rocky, He prepared the way before me. Though I was unaware of His plan for me for that day, I know He was by my side through it all.

Maybe you are facing a time that is trying the soul. You may have made plans and in a moment those plans changed. Please know that even when plans change, God is there. Though pain and fear may be surrounding you, God is there. He is waiting to show you His love, His mercy, and His grace. In my devotions today, God lead me to Jeremiah 29:11. God had a special plan for me today. His perfect plan leads me to hope and a future. Let us never forget that as Christians God orders our steps. His will for us may not be exactly what we plan. We may not see all that He is doing because our wisdom is limited, but we have the ability to trust Him with childlike faith that His plan is just what we need.  May God be with you all today and as His plan for you unfolds, just put your hand in His and go through the day together.

Sunday Worship/Monday Ministry

I love the Sunday Worship Services at our church. It is a wonderful blessing to be able to go with my family, and worship our Lord together. As I reflect back on my childhood, A large part of my life was spent in church. My family went to church whenever the doors were open. Most of my closest friends were a part of my church family. We spent time in their homes, and they spent time in mine at least every other week. I am so grateful for a Christian Family,and a heritage of growing up actively participating in worshipping the Lord in his House. I believe this is one of the reasons I accepted Christ into my life at an early age. I would have to say that my church family had a supreme impact on the person I am today. Godly men and women taught our kids classes and took us on activities. In a few years, Youth group became an integral part of my church experience. We were taught Biblical principles, and a deep lasting love for God. 

As I have grown older, chronologically and in my faith, I see more than ever before the importance of Worshiping God  in my life. I know that there are those of the opinion that worshipping together as a group is not as important as personal worship. Please don’t misunderstand me.  We can worship God through praying, reading our Bible, journaling, etc., and we should indeed do these things every day. Daily Worship is important to the building of our faith.  However, I strongly feel that some have come the conclusion that it is the only worship we should experience. To me there is something special about coming together to the House of God with fellow believers, and worshipping together as a church body. Through worship, we are able to strengthen each other.  I know I am strengthened when I hear other believers share testimonies of what God has done for them that week. I am strengthened by worshipping the Lord through singing praises to Him, and bowing my heart before Him as the sermon from the Pastor speaks to me. One of my favorite times of worship is while the Offertory is being played, and I talk to God experiencing sweet fellowship with Him. Even participating in the Lord’s Supper has become another time for me to worship God as I remember all Christ did for me on Calvary. When my boys were little, I would whisper to them throughout the Lord’s Supper of all of the beautiful pictures we can see in all Christ has done for us. Worship is so much more than just showing up for a church service. It is active participation on our part that if we are not careful we will miss all the wonderful blessings Christ has waiting for us.

Sunday Worship has impacted me in other ways also. I may not have realized it at the time, but Sunday Worship was preparing me to reach out beyond the door of the church. God does not want us to have our Worship with Him on Sunday to end when the church doors close. I believe God wants our Sunday Worship to propel us into Monday-Saturday Ministry. We should take time to pray for those in the community, and reach out to them when they are in need. The methods for getting out into the community may vary from church to church. Our church has had some good success with Block parties in the surrounding communities, and ministering to boys 12-18 at a motorcross track that moved into our community.  The methods may be different, but the message does not change. We need to go out into “highways and hedges and compel them to come in.” Our Communities need the message that Jesus saves. They need to know that there is a church that cares about them and loves them.  They need to know that Sunday Worship is not the only thing the church does every week.

Sweet Wisdom

I called home from the office knowing that in a little while I would be heading out to the grocery store. I wanted to double-check with the family to see if there was anything they needed to add to my list.  While chatting with my youngest son, I asked, “Is there anything you need?”  To which he enthusiasticly replied,”Oreos!” Now what 13-year-old really needs Oreo cookies? Apparently, mine does! He was craving a sweet bite. Can’t say that I blame him to much because often enough I crave a sweet bite too.  We have to face cravings in life every day. We often crave things that are not good for us. Now I know that I shouldn’t have gone there should I?  🙂  Here you were hoping to be uplifted today then I started messing with your “Oreos”.  My own healthy eating plan has had its ups and downs so I am speaking today merely as a student of this, not the master. God gave me a nugget of truth today so I thought I would pass it along. God does have a “Sweet bite” He wants us to crave.  Are you ready?

In my devotions, Proverbs 24:13-14 grabbed my attention. It reads,”My son, eat thou honey, because it is good; and the honeycomb, which is sweet to thy taste: So shall the knowledge of wisdom be unto thy soul: when thou hast found it, then there shall be a reward, and thy expectation shall not be cut off.” It never ceases to amaze me how God speaks to me through his Word. It not because I have a special gift, I’m just His child.  If you are a son or daughter of the King then you have the same access to Him. God has a special portion available for you today. Dive in His Word, and find out what  He wants to say to you. In the verses above, God wants us to crave wisdom. He wants us to go after it as someone goes after something sweet. When the craving hits, you just have got to have it. Why don’t you go for it? Get in God’s Word, and search it out. Proverbs 3:15 speaks of wisdom in this way, “She is more precious than rubies: and all the things thou canst desire are not to be compared to her.” The desires and cravings we face are not to be compared to wisdom. Wisdom is a precious commodity. We need it!

Not only do we need wisdom, but it is also good for us. Often the things that I crave do not have good nutritional value. When faced with temptations, do verses come to my mind that help me? When I need comfort and direction in trials, does the Holy Spirit guide me to biblical truth? Wisdom is the key. The more wisdom I have the better it is for me when I am faced with the daily tribulations. The more I hide God’s Word in my heart, the more wisdom I have access to.

The Last sweet morsel of Proverbs 24:14 to me is, “thy expectation shall not be cut off.” I will never be disappointed in going after wisdom. The more I dig deeper into God’s Word, the more wisdom I will receive. This should be a daily challenge for me. Every day I should strive to learn more about God. There is great reward in gathering sweet wisdom.

My prayer is to crave more of Him than anything else!

Before You Ask…

Have you ever found yourself in a situation when you wanted something badly? It is not a big thing, or something that will make the world a better place.  It’s just a “it would so nice if this would happen” moment. Let me share such an experience with you.

I had been saving some money toward a new dining room table and chairs. One by one my chair were breaking beyond the point of repair and my table top contained a permanent maker doodle by a young man who will remain nameless (because it was done accidentally, of course). So whenever I had a little extra, I put it in the dining room fund envelope. I was looking at furniture stores in my spare time trying to decide which one would look the best and be the most affordable. I scoured every sale paper waiting for just the right fit for my room and to match the cabinet that my husband and dad had built for me several years ago. The week after Christmas several stores were having end of the year sales and I had invited my sweet in-laws for an after Christmas celebration. I found the perfect set and Gordon and I had saved enough to purchase it. (Great deal, by the way!) I did think and pray on it for a day or two just to make sure I had peace about this one because it was an important purchase for me.  I felt I could go forward with this so I stopped by the store to buy it and have it delivered to my home. After the transaction was complete,  the saleslady said that my table and two chairs would be delivered. I had purchased 6 chairs, but she said that they only had two in the warehouse and the other 4 chairs would not be delivered for two weeks. She asked me if I wanted to go through with the purchase. I was disappointed, but told her to go ahead and then wait and deliver everything  together when all the chairs were in and ready to go. 

I will admit I went home with a heavy heart. I really wanted to use the new set for the special dinner I had planned with Gordon’s parents. I had been experiencing all kinds of emotions since Christmas Eve when Gordon got so sick and I had been trying to keep upbeat and encouraging. I prayed and asked the Lord to strengthen me and to help me not to be disappointed, but to be happy to share this special time with my family. He really helped me when I needed Him that day. I got out a special tablecloth and began to plan my dinner. It would be OK.

Imagine my surprise when on the morning of the day my in-laws were coming, I received a knock on the door at 8:30 a.m. A furniture truck was in my driveway and the workmen were pulling out a table and not two chairs, but all six chairs. I was so excited. God gave me a wonderful blessing that day. God showed me that even the small thing that I did not ask Him for, He gave to me anyway.  God heard my heart’s cry and showed me that the desires of my heart mattered to Him. I felt the love of my Heavenly Father in a very real way. In all that was going on in my life, He gave me an extra ounce of his goodness and love. He took the time to say, “I love you, my child.” In this moment, He whispered, “I just care so much about you.”

The verses that came to my mind are in Ephesians 3:17-20, “That Christ may dwell in you hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love. May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God. Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,”  He loves us so much and wants us to experience the fullness of who He is. God wants us to know His love in such a real way that it overcomes us, and we just have to stop and bask in his goodness. I feel He also wants us to share this love with other believers. I know He is a God who can do “exceeding abundantly above”.  He responded to my heart before I could ask or think. He is ready to do that for his children. God loves us just that much.  I have trouble comprehending that kind of  love, but He still wants me to try to comprehend it. Christ wants us to know that He offers this kind of love to us all.

What are you thinking of, but are afraid or reluctant to ask God for? Go ahead and ask Him!

 He knows what you are thinking anyway. 🙂

Bacon and Bits

I live in a small town. I realize that there are those who love the city and all the perks that city life entails. I am glad to say however that I like living in the country and serving the wonderful people the Lord has given me to minister too.  Today, as I was standing in line at a local restaurant waiting to order, I realized that this was the day for the annual hog show in our town.  I don’t know how I missed this fact. I had been wondering why the restaurant was overly crowded for a Monday.

This restaurant has two dining areas: one is toward the back and enclosed so it can be partitioned off for birthday parties and special events and a large open one up front. Five days a week at lunch the back one is open for overflow because this is a very popular place to visit for lunch. This place always serves good food and more often than not you will see one or more of your friends any given day of the week. It was in all of my contemplating that I saw a sign over the counter. “If you are with the hog show, please sit in the front dining room.”  How funny is that.  I think they were afraid to coop these individuals up in the enclosed dining area. 🙂 I admit this cracked me up. This could only happen in a small town.

How often I wonder do we tend to do this in our churches? Do we approach with open arms those that may look different than what we are used to? I often wonder how many snap judgments we make when someone sits down in our church. Do we try to change the outside of this person without taking time to find out what is in their heart?  Jesus himself chose to spend his time with publicans and sinners showing them how much he loved them. In my case, I am glad Jesus chose to be with me rather than turn up his nose at my sinful condition.  I think it’s time to start looking deeper into our hearts and check our motives. Our churches show be a place where people are loved and made to feel at home in the presence of God. Sometimes I think we even get territorial about the section we sit at in our church. We should get to the place when every place in our sanctuaries and our hearts are completely open to everyone.

I wonder what reaction we would have in our churches if we put up a sign, “Welcome Everyone! Please sit any where you would like!”

*Hey, Friends. Just wanted to give you all a shout out and a quick update on the Clouds. Gordon is doing some better. We are still working on regulating his blood pressure. He has had some good days and some bad days.  His leg is better and We are working on our diets. He goes back to the doctor on Wednesday for a check up. For all those who have kept us in your prayers, I wanted to say, “thanks.” I have felt them. Also Thank you for all your concern. It means so much to have friends and family who support you in times of difficulty. May God bless all of you as you have truly blessed us!

**Gordon has updated everyone on his health issues on his blog. Blessings.

Blessings in the Storm

I trust that all my friends and visitors to this blog have had a wonderful Christmas and are looking forward to the New Year to come.  God has truly blessed my family this Christmas with a great family, church family, and a wealth of friends. I say all of this to say that this time in my life has not been without its struggles and things to lay at the feet of our Lord. Many times throughout our walk with the Lord we will face the unforeseen. It will come out when we least expect it and for a moment even hold us so tightly we cannot see which way we should turn. Storms can come upon us suddenly and dark clouds can bring fear to our hearts, yet in all of this we know we have someone who is there beside us in the midst of the darkness and fierce wind. Then it begins, the rain pours down. I have not thought of the rain as blessings, but it truly is so.

We need the rain. The rain nourishes the dry areas. It gives us something that watering from the hose in the yard will not. It cools the atmosphere around us. The leaves of the trees turn upward to receive the rain from the clouds. Sometimes the leaves will actually turn upside down to receive the rain at the place that will give  the most benefit for its delicate root system. The hard ground  softens under the impact of the rain upon it.  When you think about it, the rain has the healing properties in it to make things better for the earth, yet to receive the rain it must be accompanied by the storms.

I have found recently that in the midst of my storm, the Lord has sent his blessings of rain to overwhelm me.  The blessings have covered me at times with small drops and other times with large torrents. Over and over I have felt the love of my heavenly Father cover me with his strength, encouragement, love, and the cascading rain of His blessings. In my time alone with Him, I lifted my hands and heart to accept what He has for me as His spirit pours down like the rain. It has been what I have needed to help me when fear has taken hold of me. I wish that I could say that I am strong enough on my own to weather the storm. We try to hide our weakness so often for fear of what people will think of us, or put on a brave front because we feel it is expected of us. If you could see inside of me, you would know I am so weak and fearful. It is God who has been my strength. If I did not have Him with me I could never face the storms of life.

Not only have I received the blessings from the Lord, but also from the gracious friends and family who have interceded with prayers for me and my family. I do appreciate all of the prayers that have been sent on behalf of us. Thank you. You have been apart of the sweet rain that has covered us.

Blessings to you!