Saturday, August 5, 2017

Fertile Ground

When I planted my flower bed this year, I prepped my soil well. I planted flower seeds, and had the ideal light, a good fertilizer and watered just the right amount. I ended up with many more flowers and plants than I was supposed to have and they got much taller than they were supposed to. My flower garden thrived because it had everything it needed from the ground up to do it's very best.

Had I just thrown my seeds onto the ground this would not have happened. The ground had to be broken and nourished. Just like the soil, we have to be broken up and cultivated by God in order to be fertile ground for His seeds to grow in.

I can see this to be true in my own life. It wasn't until I invited God into my mess and opened my heart widely to Him that He was able to do good work in me. In order for my faith to become deeply rooted, I had to be broken and open; for me that didn't come until I was ready. He could only go as deep as I let Him! Oh how I wish I had realized this sooner!

This soul, now so fertile, became so ready for what God had for me. I remember saying that I felt like I had a direct line to God. Do you ever feel that way? I want you to. I want you to know that you have nothing that you need to hide from God, nothing that will make Him leave you or love you less- nothing.

Once one lets Him in, they will never be the same again. His love is so moving and transforming. To be able to feel it and know it deep inside, you have to let Him deep inside. I know I had such a hard time trusting, that it was hard to trust Him fully, but I am so glad I did! Now there is no turning back for me! God's unconditional, agape love is nothing like human love. He is faithful without fault. Full of mercy and grace, He will add unique and lasting beauty to your garden.

Are you ready? Do you have fertile ground? Do you have ears that can hear? Can your heart comprehend? I pray that you are willing and ready for all that our God has for you!

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Jesus Take The Wheel

Those of us who like country music and Carrie Underwood may be familiar with her song "Jesus Take The Wheel." Like many country songs, it tells a story; this one of surrender to Jesus when a young woman has lost control of her car on black ice. The song talks about how she had a hard year, a lot on her mind and was low on faith. It doesn't sound like she surrendered until she had to, does it?

Well when my pain hits like a bolt of lightening, and I can't get comfortable, surrender is the last thing on my mind too. When medication isn't stabilizing the problem at hand, letting go isn't something I really think about, what about you? And then when other issues surface on top of the symptoms of my chronic illnesses, my tendencies are to try to get control, not to surrender it.

So then, how many times do we wait to completely surrender until we're desperate? How many times do we halfheartedly surrender only to take everything back again? I know what my answers to those questions are. I'm not proud of them either. 

Why is it such a struggle to surrender one's life to God? The answer that comes to me is the fear of the unknown. What will I have to go through to get to where He is taking me? 

The crazy part is that He has never let me down, not once. He doesn't give me everything I want, but God gives me everything I need- always! He always stands on His promises. He is always with me, I am never alone. When I look back I can see He has made something beautiful out of everything that has happened in my life- and you know what? A lot has happened in my life. I guess that is good reason to trust Him completely. Trust may be hard for me, and it may be hard for you- but we're talking about God, not people. 

So maybe now it's time- to let go and let Jesus take the wheel!

He "causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." Through the "things" in life, He molds and makes us into "the image of His Son" Rom. 8:28-29

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Come As You Are

When I was growing up I prided myself on not crying in front of other people, this was something I was not supposed to do. I fact, my mother told me not to cry, period. She got that from her mother who was British and grew up believing that it was important to "keep a stiff upper lip." Many of us were raised being taught to hide our feelings, and many church cultures taught us that handling things with grace meant not allowing our feelings to be a part of things. While relying on our feelings can certainly guide us the wrong direction, that doesn't mean that God doesn't want us to acknowledge what we feel and let ourselves feel our emotions.

Why else would we be created as emotional beings? We were created in the image of God. Jesus wept (John 11:35.) Jesus got angry and turned tables over in the temple (Matthew 21:12-13.) We also see several examples of God expressing a lot of emotion toward us from Heaven throughout the Bible. The truth is if we don't allow our feelings, they don't go away-- they sink deeper inside of us and gain more control of us and our lives.

Even in laughter the heart may ache, and the end of joy may be grief. ~ Proverbs 14:13

The worst things happen when emotions build up inside and then explode, like a cork popping out of a bottle. God wants us to express our feelings; he wants us to be real. More accurately, He wants us to bring them to Him.

For years I wore a mask, hiding what I was really feeling. I had people convinced I could handle anything. Inside, I was suffering. I kept my feelings at a distance and was not touch in touch with them. In fact the first time I sat down and actually talked about my feelings, I had trouble identifying them. It wasn't anyone's fault. There are so many people who believe that it is right to keep our feelings to ourselves.

For me those days are now gone. I believe God wants me to be real. I struggle to do that with grace, and I pray about it regularly. But when people see my Christianity, they see the real thing; that it is okay to not be perfect and that He loves us anyway. He wants us to come Him as we are; He is the potter and we are the clay. I am a work in progress and always will be on this side of heaven, we all are. He sees me as I will be when He is done with me, and it still amazes me that my God cherishes and treasures me.

It helps me so much to know that I don't have to hide my emotions anymore. Even when I get angry, I have learned that it is not something to be ashamed of, but something to be dealt with right away so the enemy doesn't have a way in.

Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil. ~Ephesians 4:26-27

God is so good, sometimes I think people don't realize how good. Thank you Lord that you made us with emotions and You help us with them. Thank you that joy does come in the morning!

Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning. ~Psalm 30:5

Saturday, July 8, 2017

I Will Rest In You

Sometimes I am so tired, and sometimes I am soul tired; weary of life and all that it entails. It feels like day rolls into night-- light fades into darkness with still so much unresolved and not yet done. The load grows heavier and anxiety deepens, the air grows heavy. After a while I realize yet again that I tried to do it on my own and wore myself down. You see Lord, I know I can't do life without you, and yet somehow, I find that I have taken the load back again. Unintentionally, subconsciously, I take back what I had laid at your feet. I need to lay it down once more. I need to have my soul replenished and my burdens lifted. I know there is only one place to find true rest and that is in you sweet Jesus.

When things pile up Lord, it can be overwhelming, especially when illness is active too. In the thick of it all, sometimes I just need to stop, breathe and be. I know that when it is all too much Lord, your peace will overcome. 
I may not be able to see more than what is right in front of me, but no matter where I am, you are with me, and that is all I need. Thank you Jesus that you never change yet you change everything! In you I find the kind of rest I have never had before

And so I will trust in you and I will rest in you. 

Saturday, July 1, 2017

My Safe Place

As I sit here listening to the rain hit the roof as it endlessly pours down, my beautiful beagle/basset hound approaches me shaking like a leaf. He is scared of hard rain and terrified of thunderstorms. The only way he feels better is to feel me by his side. So he comes over and lays as close to me as he can get, leaning against as much of my leg as he can. Then he almost always lays his head on my foot or my leg and tries to keep me from moving. He knows how much I love him, and he knows that with me he is safe.

As a human and an adult, I still become fearful. My greatest fear--is that of the unknown. What will happen? What will I lose? How much will it hurt? These questions plague me when I don't feel safe. Can you relate?

What do you do when you get scared? My natural tendency is to go to friends and close family members and ask them to pray for me, and to talk to someone close to me. Then if I am still feeling bad, I go shopping, watch a movie or find another way to distract myself. These are ways to push the fear away for a little while, but that's all they do. What I've been learning is that only God can truly erase fear.

When I was a young woman, I had social anxiety. For anyone who doesn't know what that is, I froze up when I was around more than a couple of people. I had trouble making phone calls, and I could not get up in front of people. When I had staff meetings at work, my hands would get shaky and they would sweat so much that I would leave handprints on the table. God removed that fear in me. When I took that fear to Him, He gave me what I needed, and He still does. I have taught classes, gotten up and spoken in front of churches, I make videos, lead support groups and can handle crowds now, because I know that Jesus is right there with me. What an awesome God we serve!

God tells us 365 times in the Bible to not be afraid. Knowing that the opposite of fear is not courage but faith, sends me to the Lord in prayer and to His Word. Is it always the first place I go? No. Does it need to be the first place I go? Yes!

Out of trusting Him comes courage. It's not big and flashy. It's being able to keep going. Courage is that still small voice that says "You can get through this." It is knowing that He will catch me or cushion me if I fall, and that God is always with me. With Him I am safe. Whatever it is, with God I know, I can do it, and I can get through it.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Keep Going

There have been times in my life when I feel like I have dark clouds that follow me everywhere I go. Times when there seem to endless struggles, beginning with one, extending into another, and never seeming to end. Not only do dreams shatter and plans fall apart, but the idea of just having life go on an even keel seems like a faraway dream.

It has been that way recently. What do you do when life goes that way? I know what I do, I pray, a lot. I keep trying what I can do, and then I keep putting what is out of my control into God's hands- over and over again, since I tend to take it back.

The more I meditate on scripture, the more I realize I am far from alone in my struggles. From the likes of Moses, Joshua, Job, Daniel and so many more, God's people have waited and gone through long periods of traveling through the "valleys" of life before finding the beautiful destination that God had in store for them.

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.  ~ Romans 15:4

The story that stands out to me is the one of Joseph and his brothers that is found in the book of Genesis. Joseph was the 11th son of Jacob, and was his favorite. He was gifted with prophetic dreams. He also was a bit of a tattler. When Jacob gifted Joseph with the beautiful coat that the oldest would normally get, and Joseph started relaying his dreams to his brothers, they built a lot of resentment toward him. They betrayed him and sold him as a slave.

After years of being a slave, and being falsely imprisoned, God was with Joseph the whole time, using his gift to bring him to become one of the most powerful men in Egypt. He also used his trials to transform him. In the end, Joseph got back together with his family, was reunited with his father and forgave his brothers, bringing all of them to the palace and giving them unimaginable resources. Once more they were a family, but in the best of ways. He persevered and was brought through to a much better place than he could have possibly dreamed.

Weeping may endure for a night but joy comes in the morning   ~ Psalm 30:5

As people with chronic illness, it is hard to go through so much for so long. Sometimes it feels like we never get a break and things only get worse. As Christians on a walk, Jesus is by our side, every hour of every day. God never stops working on us and our lives, as long as we are open to receive it. Yes, His purpose for us may be for a greater good, but the reward in the end will be worth waiting for.

From the beginning of the world, no eye has seen, no ear has heard, what God has prepared for the one who waits for Him.  ~ Isaiah 64:4

Friday, June 16, 2017

Saying Goodbye

I lost a friend a couple of days ago and I lost another friend the day before that. When I say I lost my friends, I don't mean we separated, I mean they died. 

It is so hard to lose someone to death. The thought of not seeing or hearing from my friends again causes me great anguish. I still miss people who were close to me that died a long time ago-- my grandparents, my first husband, my cousin, my aunts, my friends. Each time someone dies, it is a reminder of how temporary everything and everyone here is. Yet while a future with them is gone, I embrace the memories of who they were and the relationship we had.

As a Christian, there is great comfort in knowing that each of my loved ones that is gone, has gone to Heaven, and is in a new body, with no pain and no problems. They are with Jesus! What a thought!

While I am left here, I am held tight by Jesus, and each time it hurts, he collects my tears and wraps me in his precious love. I am comforted knowing that one day I will see my loved ones again when I stand in Glory with them. What a day that will be! 

Click here to listen to a song about how God comforts us in our sorrows

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Full Life Versus Fullness

Have you ever had numerous relationships but still felt lonely? Have you been in a crowd yet felt alone? How many times has your life been full yet felt empty? I've been learning through this walk that emptiness and loneliness aren't about how many friends you have or how many things you have going on, but more about the meaning of them. There is a difference between having a full life and having fullness.

Relationships can become obligations when they lack depth and authenticity. Fulfillment doesn't come with busyness but with fullness; it's about quality rather than quantity. No matter how many friends we have, or accomplishments we achieve, if God's hand isn't in it, they will not satisfy us. We will still crave being filled;  the holes will not be filled and we will not feel fulfilled.

I went through it, and still go through it at times. Sometimes seeking God's will becomes seeking His approval of one's own will when we're not careful. Sometimes, even the service we do for God can become wrapped in the wrong feelings and desires. It's never intentional, and can be very hard to identify. Doing that puts one on a road to burn out. And then of course saying yes to everything, doesn't mean saying yes to the right things. When we do things in and through God, we work in His strength and not our own. What a difference that makes!

Now, I always try to put things in the Lord's hands. It is amazing how things will fall into place when they are God's will. A perfect example is our mental illness ministry. I lived in a few states and was in three churches before it came to fruition. I worked so hard at it, and then when I got remarried, my husband and I worked hard at getting it in place. We met so many obstacles. It became clear that the timing wasn't right. When we moved to Georgia, the church we came to was looking to put a special needs ministry in place and the minister personally helped us get it in place. It is still going almost 6 years later.

God loves us for who we are, which is who He created us to be. One of the gifts of being filled is not having to fit in. If anyone had told me that need would go away, I would not have believed them. As one who felt like an outsider a good part of my life, I no longer feel that way. The need to fit in and feel like I belong is no longer there. When that happens, we are truly free to be ourselves, and can be comfortable in our own skins! It is when we can be authentic and real that we truly feel loved by others, because we are loved for who we really are. We are also free to set boundaries. For those who are not familiar with boundaries, it means drawing a line and sticking to it. I have learned to say a true "no" and while it doesn't bring me more friends, it does gain me more respect. God keeps showing me what isn't important. I wish my eyes and ears had been open to this much sooner!

In order to be filled by God, we have to be empty of the shallow, meaningless things that don't satisfy and pull us away from Him. Something I put in my prayers is for God to empty me out, cleanse me and fill me. I have found to be filled by Him, is to truly be filled. He is the only one who can fill the holes and make us whole. Then we come to our relationships healthier instead of needy and also attract others who are healthy. The need to be busy and fill my time so much isn't there anymore. It sure used to be. Is there anyone who had to learn to be still? I sure did. Now it comes easily.

In order to hold on to Jesus, we have to let go of the meaningless things we are holding on to. For me, it took a while to see that I was holding on to other things that were not helping me or my walk with the Lord. By true introspection and prayer, I was able to see these things and God has helped me to change them. Going through a very uncertain time in my life, holding on to Him and truly being filled by Him has been making a huge difference!

I pray for you, that God will show you the empty things that you hold on to as well; that He will empty you of those things, cleanse you and fill you with Him! I pray that you will be whole, that you will let go and hold on to Him!  I pray that you will know how loved and treasured you are for the unique individual that you were made to be, and that you will start loving that person too! Additionally, I pray that you will experience the freedom and peace that comes with truly being filled!

Saturday, June 3, 2017

The Gift of Today

This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it. ~ Psalm 118:24

Today is the tomorrow we dreamed about. It becomes yesterday and a memory very quickly. Today is also all that we know we have. It would be so easy to fall into ignoring today in pursuit of better days, but we live in a fallen world, and tomorrow may not be any better. Each day is a gift from God and we have a choice to rejoice. 

When today is a hard day to live what do you do about it? Many get caught up in memories of the past or worries of the future and miss the good that may be right in front of them. Have you ever done that? Have you missed an opportunity or something special because you were caught up in something else? Or missed out on something you thought was small and it ended up being something very important to you? I have. 

There is no time like the present. Each day is a day to make the most of and a day that will never come again. There will never be another day like it. There are many things that are not in our control, but we also have choices. We can choose how we see things. We can choose whether to be miserable or joyous. We can choose to be thankful for what we have, and to not take anything for granted. We can choose to look at things in a whole different way and see what we haven't seen before.

How many times do we look up and see those who have it better and avoid looking down to see those who have it worse? How many times do you look around and see all that are in need of what we need to be saying thank you for? I had one of those days and the memory lives on inside of my children and I.

We were getting ready to move to another state, cleaning out before we packed; putting out trash and things to be picked up. A young couple was walking down the street with a little boy. They stopped when the man was looking at the old weight bench my oldest son was getting rid of. Meanwhile, the little boy was grabbing old, torn up toys out of the trash pile. Long story short, the woman had 5 kids between 18 months and 17 years old and had left her abusive husband. He was not providing for them. She was staying with her sister, had no car, no home, no money, no way to take care of her baby and 5 year old twins, so no job. She slept on an old couch next to a washer and dryer. But she was grateful to not be beat anymore and have peace. 

The boy wanted the toys from the trash because she had no way to give him any and Christmas was coming. This made my kids and I rethink everything. All they were going to hold onto, or most of it, went to this family. Clothing, collectible toys, you name it. Five van loads of things. Things- that were extra to us- and everything to them. The last trip they made back- she brought all the kids and then came to me, hugged me and just cried. I will never forget this. It moved my daughter to start volunteering in high school and me to start giving as well. It changed our whole outlook. 

Life is a gift. Our blessings great and small are a gift. Today is a gift. Treat it well, and be grateful because you never know when it may change. 

God's love and faithfulness is the greatest gift of all, one to be treasured and joyous about every day. He has a perfect plan for each one of us, and though the road is long and sometimes hard, it leads to the most beautiful of places. So when it gets hard, look inside and see the hope that lives within you, put there by a God that loves you so very much and say "thank you."

Saturday, May 13, 2017

He Knows

"If only they knew"-- how many times have we asked ourselves this question? If only people could see what we go through, what goes on inside of us, who we really are.

Yes, a profound statement; but how many times do we all feel misunderstood, especially when we live with something that may set us apart from others? When we go to church, or to work people know us by what we let them see and by what they perceive. How difficult that can sometimes be.

If they did know, what would happen? Anyone who has been hurt becomes protective of themselves each time they go through another hurt. I know I can become self condemning enough- I don't need any help. So there are only a few that get to see past the surface. And although I am pretty "what you see is what you get," there aren't very many that get to see the daily struggles that I go through and the pain that I deal with.

There is One who is always safe. We don't have to worry about how He will perceive us. Amazingly He already knows what we are going through, who we are, all the down to the core. He knows every joy, every sorrow-- every doubt, every single feeling and thought that each of us has, He knows. Even though He created everything around us, and has so many to care for, He gives each one of us this much attention, this much love! We are His sacred and treasured creations, his very own children, and He loves us as our perfect Father and our most cherished friend!

The most beautiful part is that we are loved deeply for who we are, exactly as we are, right now!

As one who grew up believing that I wasn't good enough, when I finally realized that Jesus took care of that and that I am loved fully and unconditionally, it changed my life. He knows-- and it's okay! I don't have to be perfect or even close, I am loved anyway. I am accepted, and I will never be condemned. For me, that is a game changer. It's okay that there are people who don't understand and don't get me, because He does and that means everything!

Saturday, May 6, 2017

To Be A Friend

Friendship can be such a wonderful and yet such a challenging relationship. We can share such deep, intimate things and yet have such fun! Some of my best memories through the years have been with girlfriends.

Some of the hardest things through the years have also been with girlfriends. Have you ever been unfriended? Have you ever had someone walk away that you thought was a good friend? Sometimes it can be because of a bad argument or sometimes two people just grow apart. There are so many reasons this can happen, but regardless of why, it hurts, deeply.

I am in the beginning of a Bible study on friendship and it has caused me to reflect on friendships-- relationships of the past and present and my role in them. I am already learning a lot about friendship from a Biblical perspective and it has made me realize that I have a big part in deepening my present and future relationships. It begins with me!

Just like we drag past relationship baggage into our marriages, we also tend to do that with our friendships. Sure, our older than dirt relationships may be in great shape, the ones we have known forever have withstood the test of time and proven themselves. Think about it though, should others have to prove themselves for things that belong to other people? The answer is no. Trust issues are common because so many of us have been hurt. 

We live in a fallen world. The big mistake I have made is putting too much into people and not enough into my savior. We are all human, and we can't fill the holes in someone else nor can someone else fill our gaping holes. So maybe the answer is to go to our very best friend-our savior first, to get filled and then go to our friends. 

Becoming more, becoming whole though Jesus gives us so much more to give a relationship, and will make for a healthier one. When looking for answers about friendship in the Bible, one is hard pressed to find much about taking. What I have found is scripture about choosing well, being a team and giving.

In the book "Unfriended" by Lisa Jo Baker, Chapter One talks about friendship "PTSD." It was a revelation to me that so many others went through a lot with friendship like I did. I thought my problems were due to moving a lot and being different- like being a Northerner in the deep South or having chronic illness,  but apparently just being a woman qualifies! 

In Chapter Two, Lisa Jo talks about what it means to lay our lives down for our friends; being in it for the long haul. When one experiences a loss, a grieving that goes on for a long time, who is there to walk through it with you? I learned about this first hand a few times in my life, and while there were many there in the beginning, there were very few that stuck by me as time went on. That is the kind of friend we are called to be. Isn't that the kind of friend we want?

So the challenge is what kind of friend am I and are you going to be? It calls for us to be brave and to overcome the fear of being hurt and go the extra mile anyway-- like Jesus did. 

Jesus is the best friend we could ever ask for. He is always there, always reliable, always kind, gentle and comforting. He is a perfect example of the kind of friend I want to be. 

Saturday, April 1, 2017

The Light In My Darkness

When we keep struggling, it can be like being stuck in a dark, black pit. With Jesus, there is always light.

When You're the light in my darkness
And my eyes are Yours
I see what You want me to see
Which leads to so much more                                                   When You're the light in my darkness
And my feet are yours
You lead me the right direction
To what You have in store    
                                You light up the things Inside of me
I couldn't see before
When Your light burns
Deep within
I feel safe and warm
                                      When You're the light in the darkness         My heart is Yours
Open wide for You to shine inside
Even where light's
not been before

You are the light in my darkness
And I'm never alone
You shine Your light for me to see
Leading the way home

Kimberly Burnette

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

In The Quiet Stillness

In the quiet stillness, my breathing slows and quiets as I become more conscious of everything around me. Creation's wonders astound as small blessings become so apparent. As layers of all that overwhelms are peeled away, a simple peace enfolds and the realization that balance is so easily lost. The importance of slowing down, taking time each day for the things that feed my personal relationship with the Lord, and being fully intentional are clear to see. Reestablishing the habits of prayer journaling daily, scripture writing a couple of times a day, and spending considerably more time with my God make a difference almost immediately. Once again, that still small voice has returned and my heart feels full.

It is so easy to get caught up in the world. We look for other people and things to make us feel better. Social media and television provide escapes from reality. We look to others to fill the voids and make things better too often. Sometimes we ask others to pray for us, but we leave out going to God and talking to Him too often. Spending time with Him, trusting in Him, relying on Him, working in His strength, inviting Him to work in and through us--things cannot happen this way with other people, because none of us is perfect. We are all flawed, we all make mistakes, mess up, have weaknesses and are not always emotionally available for others.

So I have come to this conclusion: I need to, I have to make the time for my priorities, and my priority needs to be the things that feed my relationship with God. When I take the time, and  give the important things the time and full attention they deserve, I can live life from the inside, with joy and peace. I am able to lay my burdens at Jesus' feet, live each day at a time, not take on too much at one time, and make sure that I am relying on God, who is strong in my weakness. My own strength runs out very quickly, especially when I face challenges.

Forgive me Lord for allowing myself to be caught up in things less important than You. Help me to hold onto the balance I am starting to achieve again maintaining distance from some of the things I have determined through prayer to not be right for me at this time. Help me to continue to follow You and not people, and to keep that straight. Help me to stay in the Word, always putting It before any other book. Help me to keep myself connected to You, and to turn to You before turning to others. In Jesus' name I pray, Amen.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Holding On And Letting Go

Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous be shaken.   ~Psalm 55:22

Even though I have a bad back I have a habit of trying to do things myself. I'll bring home a carload of groceries which I got help with at the grocery store, and yet I try to bring in a fairly heavy load myself. I weigh myself down, leaving my cane in the car; so there I am with this weight I shouldn't be carrying and without the cane I should  have to keep me from falling down. I hurt myself when I do this, yet for some reason I do it repeatedly.

This is the same thing I do when I hold onto things that God asks me to let go of. It may seem easier, but I am carrying all this baggage that is weighing me down. God wants to take it from me, and handle it for me. I resist letting go because I think I know how life should be or I hold on too tight because I think what I am holding onto is good. I am resisting letting go of my will.

Deep down I know that He knows better, and yet when it comes to my children, or a situation where I have a deep desire for a certain outcome I have a really hard time letting go of my own will in the situation. It is very hard to fully release my loved ones to God even though I know they couldn't be in better hands. And there are times in some circumstances in my life when I just can't imagine that there could be a better answer than the one that is sitting right there waiting to happen and it's not.

God isn't the magic problem solver; He doesn't just make our problems go away, but He does have the perfect plan and the perfect timing. He does know better than I.

When He asks you or me to let go of
something, it's because He has
something better for us. Instead of holding on to what we want, we need to go of everything else and surrender it all to the One who loves us so unconditionally and completely. He wants us to let it all go and hold on to Him.

Let us pray: Father God, Thank you for being our perfect Father in Heaven and that You have a perfect plan for each one of us. Thank you for loving us so much that You make us wait for Your best. Help us hold on to the right thing which is You. Help us to let go of what belongs to You which is control. You are in control, and You use everything for the good. Help us to remember this when things don't go our way. Help us to surrender and let go of everything else and hold on tight to You. In Jesus' name I pray, Amen.

Father I place my life in Your hands.  ~Luke 23:46

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Above The Storm

Life has been hard lately. It seems like there has so many things happening at one time. Do you know the feeling? My husband lost his job, we have illness in the family to deal with, relationship issues, my chronic illness acting up-- like a storm system hitting hard, one storm after another. What happens when the storms come like that? I know for me it feels like I am alone. The real answer is probably that I pull back from people. I look for shelter that I know I can rely on, that will protect me and truly help me.

As I sit on my back porch watching the driving rains come down, there seems to be nothing but the small space around me. It's raining so hard that I can't see anything. When it lightens up, I only see the dark, heavy clouds looming over my backyard. This is how life has looked recently. If I went strictly by what I could see, I would truly be depressed right now. Thinking of the future based on what I can see would not look good at all.

I remember the last time I flew to see my in-laws. It was a stormy day when we took off in the plane headed to St. Louis. In the back of my mind, I was praying we wouldn't have to deal with turbulence while on the flight. When we flew above the massive, dark clouds, the higher we went the lighter it got outside. The rain stopped and the sun started shining. From the ground, I couldn't see the light. but as we flew above the storm clouds toward the heavens, the light appeared and was shining brightly before us.

I think of Isaiah 40:31. Those that wait upon the Lord will not only renew their strength, but they shall mount up with wings as eagles. It wasn't until recently that I understood why God chose eagles. I had previously thought it was because they were big and bold. That wasn't right. Eagles are the only birds that fly above a storm. When we rely upon God during our storms, He will lift us above them. When we wait for Him, he will give us His strength, so we can walk and run again!

We can't always see or feel God, and we certainly can't always see the light. Sometimes the light is hidden by the dark clouds and storms of life, but the light is always there--it just may take a while before we can see it.

I have to remember to not base everything on what I see, because that is not allowing for the divine, for God's part in things, which I don't get to know ahead of time. He wants my trust, He wants me to have faith in Him. God wants me to depend on Him, and to lean into Him for His strength, not just His wisdom. He wants me, and everyone else, to wait for Him, because He will always make Himself known when the time is right, although He already is present, sometimes we're just so caught up we can't see past our storm, just like I can't see past my porch.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Only You

Only You
I want it to be
Only You
In my mind
Within my soul
You're the one
To fill
The gaping holes
Only You

Only You
Can add soft colors
To my gray
Only You
Can show me
The one true way
You're the compass    
My true north                                            
Only You

Let it be            
More and more  
Of You
And less of me
Fill my heart
And my soul
Make me whole
In You,
Only You

Sweet Jesus,
Only You

Thursday, February 23, 2017

From Storm Clouds To Sunny Skies

Today as I was driving to an out of town doctor's appointment it looked like I was driving into a bad storm. There were dark, heavy clouds above me and it started pouring rain. I was filled with dread as I got onto the highway, wondering if I would be slowed down and late to my appointment. As I drove further, I was convinced that I would be driving through blinding rain all the way to my doctor's appointment.

All the days of the oppressed are wretched, but the cheerful heart has a continual feast. ~Proverbs 15:15

Then an amazing thing happened. All of the sudden, the rain let up and the sky was filled with bright white clouds which after 5 minutes became a blue sky with sunshine. The rain was gone, and it was now a sunny day.

How often have we done that in life? I know I have come across an uncertain, potentially bad situation and jumped to the worst conclusions, letting my mind run away with me thinking about worst case scenarios. Does this sound familiar? It is too easy to project into the future and speculate as to what will happen and could go wrong.

It is so easy to consider all the negative possibilities but why are we so fast to think about the negative possibilities and not the positive ones? We spend so much time preparing ourselves for the worst instead of trusting in a God who has never broken a promise to us, and who loves us so very much.

In Luke 12, we are told that we need not worry and that we will always be taken care of. In fact, we are told to seek His kingdom, and God will be glad to give it to us! What an amazing promise that is! So then why do we wait for the other shoe to drop? Could it be that our minds are trained to do this? I think this is very possible. In a fallen world where we hear about awful things happening every day, it is so easy to believe that the worst will happen. What we don't factor into the equation is the God who is in control and can do anything!

Have you had times in your life when God brought sunshine instead of storms after rain and dark clouds? I sure have. When the uncertain times come in your life, remember and hold onto these wonderful surprises that God has brought you. They have come to you before and they will most certainly come again.

Let us pray: Father God, We thank You that You are a God that loves us so much that You want to give us so much. You want to give us Your kingdom here on earth. You tell us that where our hearts are, there will be our treasures. My treasure is with You my Lord and Savior. Thank you for all the blessings and good in my life. Help me to trust You more. Help my unbelief. Help me to believe that dark clouds can still turn into sunny days in Your hands. In Jesus' name I pray, Amen.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

The Miracle of Mercy

What exactly is mercy? What is the difference between mercy and grace? For a long time, I did not understand mercy or the difference between mercy and grace. I knew that when I prayed, I thanked God for the mercy and grace He gave me every night, but I didn't truly understand the difference. I just knew how grateful I was that I was saved from my sins.

I am very grateful to understand now. Grace is the precious gift of salvation that we get when we accept Jesus as our savior. It is receiving a gift that we do not deserve. Mercy is not getting punished for our sins because of the grace we received by accepting Jesus as our saviour. It is not getting what we do deserve.

“The unfailing love of the LORD never ends! By his mercies we have been kept from complete destruction. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each day" ~Lamentations 3:22-23

Mercy involves forgiveness, kindness and compassion, something that God has daily towards his children. He loves us just as much despite the many times we mess up, sin and are weak. He overlooks our flaws, and sees us as we will be one day be rather than as we are now. What an amazing Heavenly Father we have!

“The wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy.” ~James 3:17

Mercy is also something people have toward each other. In fact, God tells us in several scriptures that He wants us to have mercy toward others; the following is one:

"Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you"
~Ephesians 4:32

What does that mean to us? It means that he wants us to be kind to others, even those who hurt us or offend us. He wants us to be quick to give second chances.  God also wants us to be patient with other people's quirks, like He is with ours. He wants us to have compassion, and to help others that we see hurting or who are helpless. And, God also wants us to reach out and love those who others don't want to associate with. Is He asking a lot? He isn't asking us to do anymore than what He does for us. In Matthew 9:13, Jesus says he would rather have mercy than sacrifice.

So, like many, I have a way to go on my journey when it comes to mercy. For me, the easy part is to help those that are hurting and to be kind to people I don't know. I am still working on turning the other cheek, and being kind to people who have hurt me deeply. I am praying for guidance, direction and answers. I have read that as we face ourselves, walk meekly before God, and thirst for righteousness, God produces more mercy within us.

What are your experiences with mercy?

"Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy" ~Matthew 5:7

Monday, February 13, 2017

How Does He Love Me? Let Me Count The Ways

Have you ever felt unloved- unwanted, like you didn't belong? I sure have. There have been different times in my life where I felt so alone even in a crowded room. I felt different and while different was okay, I felt unaccepted.

When we find people who truly love us it is something to be cherished; but people can't be perfect and can't alway be there. As much as my people love me, there are times when it just doesn't come together. But my God, well He is a different story!

One of the most wonderful things I have found in my relationship with my Lord, is the perfect, unconditional, unwaivering love He has for me! His love is like a song with a beautiful melody and lovely lyrics that He serenades me with. I know that He is always with me, and that He is there to help me. He will cover my every need. How amazing is that? Like a perfect Father, He does what is best for me, even if it's not what I think I want. He watches over me from above; He gave me Jesus who is always with me, and even died for me! On top of that He sent His Holy Spirit to live within me. Read more from scripture about this incredible love He has for me and for you:

1.   His love cannot be shaken:
"Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken." ~Isaiah 54:10

2.   He loves me at my worst:
"Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the worst." ~1 Timothy 1:15

3.   He never lets anything separate us from His love:
"For I am persuaded that neither death nor life nor angels nor principalities nor things present nor things to come height nor depth nor any other created thing shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Jesus Christ our Lord." ~Romans 8:37-39

4.   He loves us so much that He gives us grace that pardons us from our sins:
"Because of His great love for us, God, who is rich is mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions- it is by grace that you have been saved."               ~Ephesians 2:4-5

5.    His love endures forever:
"Give thanks to the Lord of lords: His love endures forever. to him who alone does great wonders, His love endures forever." ~ Psalm 136:2-3

6.    His love never fails:
" How precious is your unfailing love, O God! All humanity finds shelter in the shadow of your wings."  ~Psalm 36:7

7.    God loves us so much, that we give Him joy:
" The LORD your God is in your midst, a victorious warrior. He will exult over you with joy, He will be quiet in His love, He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy." ~Zephaniah 3:17

8.    His love is so big:
"Your love, LORD, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies." ~Psalm 36:5

9.    He loves us so much, He gave us His own son to free us from our sins so we could be in   eternity with him:
"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."  ~John 3:16

10.   He loves us so much that He will also love our descendants as well:
"Know therefore that the LORD you God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands." ~Deuteronomy 7:9

There are so many more than this! You can go through the whole Bible and find countless verses that tell you about God's love. You may or may not have a valentine for Valentine's Day, but remember how loved you are every single day!

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Where Do You Look For Your Peace?

On whom do you rely? Most people I know would initially say God. Now really think about it. When you need someone, do you go right to a friend, or do you go right to the Lord?

It is easier to go to a friend to fulfill one's needs. Many times a friend will say what one needs to hear, and give us the physical affection that feels so good when we're in need. We can get the instant gratification that we long for. The problem is that we can't rely on people like we can rely on God, in fact people can't even come close. Even the best people are fallible. We're all human with our frailty and weaknesses, with our own needs.

God on the other hand, doesn't change. He isn't human, He is so much more and so much bigger. Sometimes we forget how big He really is. He created everything around us, every single blessing that each of us has was made and formed by Him. Every good thing in us, was created by Him. He knew how many hairs were on our heads before we were born. He is our God of wonders.

So why would we ever rely on anyone but Him? I found myself asking the same question some years ago. I still rely on people to a degree, but now I rely on Him first and foremost. When people let me down, I'm not devastated like I used to be. My God is in control and He carries the weight of the burdens that I lay before him each day. What a relief! When I do that, He gives me a peace that knows no understanding; a peace that cannot be found anywhere else.

I hope and pray that if you don't put Your hope and trust in God already, that You will start. He doesn't break His promises. He is so caring and giving, and He always does what is best for us. He will always be there for you, no matter what. There is nothing like experiencing joy in the midst of the storm. This can happen when God holds us steady and takes our worries from us, it's so amazing! And I would love to see you experience His incredible peace and joy that only He can give. I pray that, for every one of you.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Song Of Hope

Have you been in that place? That place where you can't get back up again? I wrote that poem way back when I was in the middle of a nasty divorce, my teen-aged children were thoroughly confused, and each one had problems of their own on top of trying to deal with a sick, alcoholic father and a mother who finally realized she couldn't fix him. The abuse that came in drunken episodes triggered memories of my own childhood trauma and I was overwhelmed with so much more than I could deal with. I was told I had PTSD-Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I had come to the end of myself. I had run out of everything.

God met me there. In the middle of being broken in a thousand pieces. Instead of giving up, I surrendered and my new life began. I had given my life to Jesus many years before that, but this was something different. I let Him in to the deepest parts of myself that had been locked up for so long. I let Him! I had been holding on to all the wrong things and I had no idea until I sat there on the floor, a total mess. I had tried so hard to keep control of everything as I watched myself lose control of so much. Now here I was admitting I had no control and trusting someone other than myself. It was like a light bulb went on. A light, finally after the longest, darkest night! I didn't feel alone anymore. I couldn't explain it, but now I had hope. Nothing had really changed, except my heart.

All of these things I had read, studied, heard, and even said to other people had finally gone from my head to my heart. I didn't know how but I knew things would get better, and that I was loved by Him, the Sovereign God, who moves mountains. I knew He would take care of me and my children- and He has. My life and theirs have changed for the better and we have been blessed immeasurably. That doesn't mean more trials didn't come along, they have. I am so much better equipped to handle the trials now, especially since I am not the one handling them, but He in me. And He has taught me to focus on the blessings, ones that I never take granted.

Do you remember when God met you in your mess? Did you ever come to the end of yourself and completely surrender to Him? Have you let go of trying to control things and given the reins to the One who reigns? Please share below and join me in this prayer:

Father God, Thank You for being my Heavenly Father. You are the one who is in control, not me, please forgive me for trying to control what isn't mine to control. Forgive me for not surrendering my life and will to You. I surrender myself to You right now Lord, and ask that You help me to align my will with Yours. Thank You for having a perfect plan for my life. Help me to trust You and to have the faith of a mustard seed. You have never broken a promise to me Lord, and You have blessed me. Thank you for all the blessings. In Jesus' name I pray, Amen.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Fresh Hope

A friend of mine has chronic illness just like we do. She has Addison's Disease and severe Lupus. She is currently in an episode- struggling to make it through each day. She shared what she wrote here:   
They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations. ~ Isaiah 61:4
I'm revisiting a few of my favorite verses. The thing is....God knows exactly when our own walls fell and were devastated and why. 
But the amazing promise is....HE is going to rebuild them. Maybe not in the way we feel or demand them to be. But better. Perfect for whatever is going to give us unexpected joy, strength, hope....change. 
The walls for some of us needed to come down. 
They were probably hurtful...destructive and crippling...a comfort zone of chaos.
HE only desires the BEST for HIS Children
And sometimes we just need to start from scratch. A complete redo. A fresh new beginning. 
Well, we all started a new year on the same day...a 365 day blank canvas. Not tainted. Fresh and new.
So there is my resolution. Making better what was broken. But allowing God to build it. So it won't be as difficult to accomplish. And to truly trust HIM, believe HIM.
HE promised it...HE'LL do it. 
The passage in Jeremiah below is one of my favorites, one I pray to be.
But blessed are those who trust in the Lord
and have made the Lord their hope and confidence.
They are like trees planted along a riverbank,
with roots that reach deep into the water.
Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought.
Their leaves stay green,
and they never stop producing fruit. 

~Jeremiah 17:7-8 

What do you hear when you read this? I hear surrender, trust, renewed faith and hope. Everything may run out and we may feel like we have come to the end, I have before, more than once. So when the walls in your life have come down, remember it's when you're at the end that 
you find a new beginning. It's when we die to self that we are born again. If you aren't familiar with God's promises, or you need a reminder, I am including a printable copy at the bottom of this post. He has never broken a promise to me, has He ever broken one to You? 

My Bible Study group God-Living Girls begins our new study "Discovering Hope" tomorrow. Maybe 2017 is your year to discover fresh new hope.