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I’m back

Yes, it has been a while. And I’m sorry. I could give you a million excuses as to why I haven’t been writing, but let’s just say that I let life get in the way. I think we have all been there and done that. We let this and that get in the way of what we know that God would have us to do.

So…

Let me fill you in on what has been going on during my hiatus.

To begin with, we just got back from a cruise to Alaska. Oh. My. Goodness. Start saving now and do it. I promise, you won’t regret it. I didn’t see the wildlife I would like to have seen (that just means I need to go again) but the scenery was out of this world amazing. Which brings me to my verse for today –

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭61:2‬ ‭KJV – “From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I.”

‬‬For me, this verse 100% describes how I felt the entire time we were gone. And believe you me, I saw so many rocks that was higher than I.

I remember hiking on a trail near Mt. Rainier and saying to my husband, “Wouldn’t it be so cool if the rocks cried out right now?” I remember seeing a whale surface and flap his magnificent tail and think, “Wow, I am fearfully and wonderfully made indeed!” I remember riding down a mountain on a bike near Skagway Alaska on Independence Day and singing in my heart “America the Beautiful”. I remember walking on a rainforest path in Ketchikan Alaska and just being totally blown away at the beauty in destruction.

I’m telling you, this trip really made me see over and over again how magnificent and creative our Creator really is.

I’ll leave you today with this – my heart was so overwhelmed with gratitude to our Lord and Savior on this trip. I am blessed beyond belief and spoiled beyond imagination. I can’t begin to appropriately describe how big everything is that I saw. But in everything, I saw the handiwork of my God. I saw His love, His compassion, His attention to detail, His creativity and His desire to show Himself to us in everything around us.

Picture taken from the White Pass Railroad tour in Skagway Alaska.

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Rejoice!

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭32:11‬ ‭KJV‬‬ – “Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, ye righteous: and shout for joy, all ye that are upright in heart.”

It is a time of rejoicing at my house. The boys’ soccer team at school has advanced to regional finals. For us, that is HUGE! It is the first time in the school’s history that this has been accomplished. We are super excited!

You know, I believe that if it is important to us, then it is important to God. I feel that He desires to be intimately involved in everything we set out to do and accomplish. I believe that applies to everything from grocery shopping to school sports to major life decisions. God wants to be a part of it all.

I know that in the scope of eternity that winning these games really doesn’t matter. But was does matter is how we approach them and how we win them. Do we do it with integrity and a desire to be fair or are we in it to win it no matter what? Do I tell my son to play hard and fair or do I encourage a hateful attitude toward the other players? Soccer games can get rough but it is the heart behind the actions that I want to be upright before God.

God already knows the outcome of all these games. I leave it up to Him. I’m just so very proud of my son, his hard work and his dedication to the team even during the difficult times.

So whatever you have going on this week in your life – rejoice. Remember, “This is the day that the Lord has made. We rejoice and be glad in it.”

What a day…

‭‭Galatians‬ ‭6:2‬ ‭KJV – “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.”

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Yesterday at church, before preaching even got started, nearly brought me to tears. Let me give you the run down on the song and prayer portion of the worship service yesterday morning at a little church on the side of the road.

The first thing to happen was during prayer request. A young woman we have all been praying for for so long reported to us how well she is doing in her battle with cancer. Her positive outlook and joy in her voice just touched me in a way she will probably never really realize. In fact, it wasn’t just me who noticed it. I think everyone was elated over her progress and touched by her infectious enthusiasm. It was beautiful!

And then the “little folks” got up to sing. Our “little people” have been running short on numbers as of late, but that doesn’t stop them from bringing a special every Sunday morning. But this one song was a bit more complicated than their little voices could carry. So they asked us all to sing with them. “This is the day that the Lord has made” has never sounded so good.

And then, the icing on the cake – a lady, who shouldn’t have a voice due to cancer and subsequent treatments, sang for us. She had difficulty getting the song she was singing to match the song being played on the piano – so she went “a cappella”. And it was beautiful – a few voices in the audience came alongside and sang with her. It overwhelmed my heart.

The whole 15-20 minutes that this all occurred in was so touching and so moving. It reminded me of how we are to come alongside one another – in each and every situation. When someone needs prayer, we pray. When things are lean and sparse, we step in with a helping hand. When we feel like we just can’t get the job done, we have our brothers and sisters come alongside us. Sometimes the request is not even uttered. Our loved ones just know when we need them.

That’s the beauty of our church family. Sometimes we ask for help and sometimes help just shows up.

It is an honor and a privilege to serve beside fellow followers of Christ at my local New Testament church. If you don’t have one, start looking today. Ask God to show you where you should be serving. Believe me, on the side of the road in the middle of the swamp is one of my most favorite places to be!

Be an Angel

Luke 2:9-14 – “And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”

I was listening to Christmas music again the other day and I heard a song proclaiming that we should be more like the angels. Hmm, be more like the angels. Be good? Be singing all the time? Be observing and stepping in to help others? Be dressed in bright clothes? 

How should I be more like an angel?

Praising and proclaiming. That’s what I need to do more of – praising and proclaiming. These Heavenly beings have the tremendous duty to praise God, all the time, no matter the circumstances, regardless of the weather or time of day.  I can look all through the Bible and find instances of angels making an appearance and helping someone see God more clearly. Isn’t that what I am supposed to do? Isn’t it my responsibility to help people see God more clearly? Be an angel.

Sometimes I see angels protecting people from bad decisions. Remember Balaam and the talking donkey? There was an angel ready to destroy Balaam before allowing him to make a bad decision. The angel meant business. Sometimes I have to be the one stepping in and calling someone out. That’s a tough place to be but it’s a necessary place to be. We all need that person in our life that isn’t afraid to call us out. Be an angel.

In these verses of Scripture, I see the angels praising God. Here was the event they had been waiting for – the birth of the Savior. It was finally time! God took on flesh and was ready to dwell among men. What a glorious time this would be! Everyone needed to hear about it! Break out the chorus and bring on the praises! I have so much to be grateful for in my life. I have blessings upon blessings that I could name for days and days. Yet, how often do I break out the chorus and bring on the praises? Oh, in my heart I may be praising God, but I need to let my heart overflow. I need to proclaim His praises more often and more boldly. Be an angel.

Being an angel isn’t about the clothes you wear or how good you are or anything like that. Being an angel is really just fulfilling the instructions of Ecclesiastes 12:13 – “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.”  That’s it. That is what it means to be an angel – fear God and keep His commandments. Fear is obedience. Keeping His commandments includes telling others about Him, praising Him, glorifying Him and being kind and compassionate to others. Now, this isn’t an exclusive list – no, it’s more like the tip of the iceberg. 

So this weekend as you wrap gifts, bake cookies, attend Christmas parties and do whatever else you have to do this weekend, be an angel. Happy Friday.

My story

Mark 5:19,20 -“Howbeit Jesus suffered him not, but saith unto him, Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee. And he departed, and began to publish in Decapolis how great things Jesus had done for him: and all men did marvel.”

Yesterday in Sunday school, we were discussing sharing your story or telling your testimony. For many, this is the key to bringing them to Christ. They are able to see what He has done in your life when you share it with them. And that is great…

But it made me think, what about me? I grew up in church. I have been going since before I exited my mother’s womb. I have known nothing but getting up and going to church every Sunday morning, Sunday night and Wednesday night. I was taught how to study The Word. I was encouraged at home to pray and discuss my life with my Savior. 

Do people want to hear about that? Does that really make that big of an impact on people? Isn’t it way more interesting and awe-inspiring to hear how God changed an addict to one of His saints? 

I discussed this with my husband. When I look at my life, I see God’s faithfulness. I see His hand at work in every area I have ever invited Him to be in and some that I didn’t. I see His guidance and compassion. I see His love during trials and His kindness when I very stubbornly learn a lesson. 

But there is no major change in my life. And I’m okay with that, don’t get me wrong. I just let the devil make me think that my story isn’t important. No one wants to hear about year after year of Sunday school lessons. No one wants to hear about my so-called problems that really don’t amount to a hill of beans. Right?

Wrong. This is the story that God is writing that is called My Life. My Life is different that Your Life, even if we grew up with the exact same principles. We all have a story to tell. Some stories may seem less dramatic than others but they are just as important and can make just as big of an impact. God is still writing my life. That, in and of itself, is amazing. He still cares enough about me to write His story on my heart each and every day. He wants me to live each chapter with gusto and to share the entirety of it with anyone that will listen. 

So this week, don’t let anyone tell you that your story isn’t good enough or interesting enough. Your story is your own. Your story is unique and special. Your story is something that someone needs to hear to be encouraged or maybe it is something that someone needs to hear to bring them to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. Tell your story.

Praise the Lord

Isaiah 9:6 -“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.”

I was listening to one of my favorite artist yesterday, Crowder. His music is very raw and really hits home to me. He has a song called, “Praise the Lord.” When you first hear the lyrics, they sound almost disrespectful, but if you keep listening, you hear the real message. Here is the gist of it.

How do you see Jesus? Do you see Him as a magic 8-ball that you occasionally ask a question to? Do you use Jesus as a gun, shooting down thoughts and feelings that are different from your own? Do you swing Him like a hammer, forcing your ideas and beliefs upon someone else? Do you keep Him under the steeple or in the Book? Or do you use Him as a prescription – only when something is wrong?

That is not Who Jesus is. That is not His purpose or His plan for you. Praise the Lord.

Sometimes we think that His love is more of a river rather than an ocean. Narrow and wide, deep and shallow, we fear that it will run away. But His love is more of an ocean that is vast and deep and constant. Others might think of His love as a song, wrapped up with a neat beginning and ending. But His love is more like a symphony that is filled with all kinds of notes and instruments that is woven together to create the most beautiful melody.

We try to make God’s love so difficult, so challenging. But Jesus is way more than we can ever imagine if we just let Him love us and be Who He is supposed to be in our life.

When we consider Jesus and who He should be in our life, we need to remember that He is endless – He always has been. I don’t think we can ever truly grasp it. It is a mystery that will one day be revealed when we are with Him. But the decision to be with Him needs to be a joyful choice, not a fearful leap. 

I think that too often we try to put Jesus in our neat little box or use Him as a weapon to drive fear and coercion into people. That’s not Who He is. Jesus isn’t a genie in a lamp or a lightening bolt throwing being or a fair weather friend. No, Jesus is so much more than that – Praise the Lord.

Jesus is The Leader. Jesus is Wonderful. Jesus is The caring Counselor. Jesus is The Mighty God. Jesus is My Everlasting Father. Jesus is The Prince of Peace. Praise the Lord.

Sweet, sweet memories

Psalm 77:11-12 – “I will remember the works of the LORD: surely I will remember thy wonders of old. I will meditate also of all thy work, and talk of thy doings.”

As I sit here this morning, I’m remembering the excitement and nervousness and joy that this day brought me 22 years ago. It was the night of my wedding rehearsal. We had so much fun. We laughed. And we laughed. And then, we laughed some more. 

And then the next day, the big day, was full of love and celebrating and nervous jitters and yes, more laughter. I can see it all in my head. I can hear my Southern accent. I can see the big hair. I remember the look in my Daddy’s eyes as he walked up the stairs to bring me to my future husband. I remember the one candle that did not light at the altar. I remember people yelling at me to watch out for fire ants while I tied balloons along the sidewalk leading up to that old farmhouse where we had our reception. I remember the magnolia trees bloomed that morning. 

But more than all the memories of those two days 22 years ago, I remember how we got there – God. I remember that it was Him that brought my husband and I together. I remember that it was Him that grew the love that continues to grow in us. I remember praying to find my husband while I was still in high school. 

I have so many precious memories. But none of them would be possible without Jesus in my life. I KNOW that it was Him that brought my husband to me. I KNOW it was Him that showed me what it means to have a good marriage by giving me the parents He gave me. I KNOW it is Him that keeps us together to this day. 

So when I look back and remember, I don’t want to neglect His fingerprints all over my life. And I want to make sure that I give Hin the honor and glory He deserves for His work in my life. Thank you God, for all that You have done in my life. And thank you for all that You will do in my life because I KNOW You’re not done with me yet.