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Balm for my soul

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭122:1‬ ‭KJV – “I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the Lord.”

Yesterday was a tough day for me. I was tired from traveling all weekend. I had lots of work to do. But also, yesterday was the one year anniversary of the home-going of my grandpa. It was also the day that we had a funeral at our church for a local family whose 2 year old daughter drowned last week. My heart was super heavy.

Yet, we had Ladies’ Meeting last night. I brought a lesson on Hannah. We shared some laughs while getting God’s work done. It was good.

As I was sitting there listening to the wrap up of the meeting, my heart was just overwhelmed at God’s love toward me. He knew that I was tired. In fact, we were all tired. The majority of the ladies there had served at the church all day long trying to provide a meal for the huge amount of people who attended the funeral. God knew that we were all spend – physically and emotionally. Yet, He brought us all together to give balm to our souls.

Some people have the misconception that church is boring and doesn’t do anything but tell you all the ways that you are wrong. Well, that’s not true. Church is a “called out body of believers”. Church is a place where your additional family abides. Church is a place to be lifted up and encouraged. It is a place to share your burdens with others and receive comfort in knowing that someone is praying with you and for you. Church is a place to develop eternal relationships – with God and His people. And sometimes, church is the place where God brings us to remind us where we have gone wrong but at the same time to provide us with the opportunity to make things right.

You see, I have found that when I am obedient to His Word and attend a service of some sort whenever it is offered, I am blessed in one way or another. Even when things are tough or down-cast or joyful or bewildering, I am brought closer to Him when I am with His people in our local New Testament church. And that makes me want to say – “I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the Lord.”

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The longest night

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭7:7-8‬ ‭KJV – “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.”

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My husband and I had a weekend away this last weekend. We had a lovely time away – enjoying the sights, eating the food and just making some great memories together.

He stayed in town because he had meetings this week. I flew home…or at least I tried to fly home.

The day that I flew home, the airport I was planning to fly into had so much rain that the gates were flooded. The airplanes could land but could not get up to the gate.

At my departing city, the plane’s air conditioner was acting up (not in an unsafe way but rather an annoying and slightly unsanitary way – it was dripping on the passengers). The airline had to call in maintenance to repair the problem. Oh, did I mention that my flight was supposed to leave at 9pm and arrive at it’s destination at 1145pm? Yeah, that didn’t happen. We left around 1030pm. We landed in a different city than our original destination at 1am.

God had directed my heart to sit at the front of the plane. So, when we debarked the plane, I was one of the first people off. The airline had police officers at the gate because they knew they would have a lot of very angry people. When I heard from the gate attendant that they MIGHT have some buses to take us to our final destination, I left and headed for the rental car companies. I just heard God whispering to my heart, “Don’t wait around on this. It is not going to turn out good.”

Sure enough, after I had finally found a rental car company with vehicles to rent (this storm had been diverting flights all day) and was on my way to my overpriced rental car, here comes half of my flight running off the transport headed toward the scantly stocked rental car companies. God is good.

Long story short, I had planned to arrive home between 1230am and 1am. I ended up pulling into my driveway at 415am. Long night.

So, I’m sure you are wondering what this has to do with spiritual matters. Well, I had the opportunity to get really upset and angry (like a lot of my fellow passengers did) about this situation. I saw our delay at the departure place as a blessing – storms were still raging in the area of our destination. God was providing time for them to clear out before we even entered the area. Our unplanned destination was relatively close to our original destination – at least we could drive there. God provided. He knew that I was traveling alone and don’t like it when things don’t go as planned. He wouldn’t leave me alone that night. I promise you, I could feel Him next to me the entire time – His whispering and guiding of my thoughts was so tangible that when I did truly realize it, it nearly made me cry. All I could do while I was driving to my original destination was praise His name.

He knows me. He knows what sets me off. He knows what calms me down. He knows when I am about to break down. He holds me together. I know that there is no way that I could have made it through this longest night without Him.

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.

Bearing burdens

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

Galatians, chapter 6, verse 2. A simple verse with profound meaning. But what does it mean to “bear … one another’s burdens”?

Last night, we had our monthly ladies’ auxiliary meeting. We had our Bible study. We conducted our meeting and finalized the plans for our upcoming mother/daughter luncheon. And then, we had prayer requests. 

Now, when some people hear “prayer requests time”, especially amongst women, they might tend to think that this is a time to gossip about others. But I tell you the truth, it is anything but that. 

This is the time when we share the intimate thoughts and concerns on our heart. We share things that we might not share when we are out in public. We express concerns and frustrations and longings that God has placed within our hearts. It is a special time. It is an encouraging time. And occasionally, we even get a good chuckle out of some of the things we share. 

But this is the way we “bear … one another’s burdens”. 

Too often, the devil wants to keep us isolated. If he can keep us from reaching out to our sisters and brothers in Christ, he can keep us right where he wants us – in the pit of despair. He knows that when we share our burdens things become less bleak. 

This simple act of sharing creates hope. We know that someone else is praying for us. We know that we are no longer facing this challenge, this frustration, this fear alone. We know that God has provided someone else to come along side of us and, literally, hold our hand. I know, God is with us and willing to hold our hand anytime we ask. Yet, God also knows that sometimes we need that human touch; sometimes we need our sisters and brothers in Christ. 

So the next time that something has got you down or maybe something has gone incredibly right, share. Tell someone. Tell lots of someone’s – the more the merrier! God has provided people in your life for that very reason. And be a good recipient. “Bear … one another’s burdens” with gladness and seriousness. And remember, you never walk alone. 

Still waters

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭23:1-2‬ ‭KJV‬‬ – “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.”
I have not been walking beside still waters lately. Oh, nothing has been terribly wrong. I have just been so busy that still waters seems to be a distant memory. 

Last weekend, we went to the beach. The place where we were at had some pretty energetic waves. My nephew and son took quite a face full of sand a few times while boogie boarding. Yet, as I walked along the beach, doing what I love to do – hunt for cool shells, I heard a jingling sound. When I looked, that jingling sound came from the amount of shells that the waves were dropping in this one particular location. They were congregating at this one spot but the waves were so rough that you couldn’t get in there to see what was being left behind. Trust me, I know. I would attempt to get to them and the wave would crash bringing with it pieces of coral and broken shells that rammed into my feet and legs. It was not pleasant, let me tell you.

But if I waited, if I stood there for a significant length of time watching the waves go in and out, a time would present itself, for just a short period, that I could run out there and view the plethora of shells that the ocean had left behind. I found 2 really large clam shells, a very old and small conch-type shell and many very pretty little shells. But I had to be fast. Those still waters didn’t last long.

That’s the way I feel my life has been since my last post. Nothing really exciting or earth shattering has occurred. My waves have just been energetic and and sometimes a bit rough. But when those still waters come and I’m able to be still, man, the things I find are beautiful and sweet. They are rare and beautiful treasures that I can store in my heart.

Part of a story

‭‭Luke‬ ‭15:7‬ ‭KJV‬‬ – “I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.”
We had junior church on Sunday. My husband and I always enjoy those Sundays because it gives us an opportunity to interact with the younger ones. They are so fun. They have great stories. They love to giggle. They get excited over the smallest things. And they have a heart for others that fills the room.

We were studying about Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch. We were talking about getting out of you comfort zone and talking to others about Jesus. We were talking about being obedient even when we don’t understand what God is telling us to do. 

And then, someone encouraged one young man to tell us what he was doing on that Sunday. He shyly admitted that he was going forward to let everyone know that he had accepted Jesus Christ as his Savior. We were all so very excited! This young man has been coming to church for some time. He has been attending junior church for as long as he has been coming. 

The way this really touched me was that God whispered to my heart that part of this joy was mine. It really belongs to all of us who have spoken Jesus to this young man in any way, shape or form. We rejoice. We know that it is God working in his heart. We know that we helped plant the seeds. We know that God drew him to His side. And we rejoice.

I love that God gives me the opportunity to be a part of someone’s story. I know in my own life, I can look back at friends and family members who demonstrated Jesus and taught me the lessons of the Bible in so many different places and at so many different times in my life. Our journey to Christ and with Christ is one of people and relationships. It is learning from others by their words and actions. These experiences help to write our story in such a manner that each one is unique and extraordinarily special. 

I don’t necessarily have any deep, spiritual advice or words of wisdom on this subject. I just want you to be aware that you never know how God is going to use you in someone else’s story. Each story is beautiful and unique and each story is longing to have Jesus be the Author.

Thanksgiving week

1 Chronicles 16:8,9 – “Give thanks unto the LORD, call upon his name, make known his deeds among the people. Sing unto him, sing psalms unto him, talk ye of all his wondrous works.”

It is the week of Thanksgiving. I agree with the statement that we should be thankful more often than once a year. I try very hard to live a life of thankfulness. As you can see here, I wear a bracelet to remind me to be grateful and thankful.

What does it mean to give thanks? 

I think that being thankful can take many forms. 

Prayer – Reaching out to God in prayer just to tell Him how appreciative you are for Him being active in your life.                    Songs – Singing praises to God with a heart in a position of humbleness and gratitude.                                                         Conversation – Have you ever taken the opportunity to turn the spotlight off yourself and turn it on God? Giving Him the glory for an achievement in your life is a great way to show thankfulness. All too often, we are so focused on ourself that we take away the opportunity to praise Him and give Him glory.                                                                                                                                      Giving –  I think that when we take the time to give to someone else out of the abundance that we have, we are, in a way, giving thanks. When we give with the heart of humbleness and the desire to help someone else along, we are telling God thank you for supplying my needs and giving me the opportunity to help someone else.

Just like anything else, all of these acts of thankfulness can be corrupted by our heart-itude. If our heart is focused on ourself, if our motive is promoting self, then each act is torn to pieces in front of the throne of Christ. Our acts of thankfulness becomes acts of pride and selfishness, neither of which is honoring or glorifying to God. 

So, as you enter this week of busyness – planning, traveling, buying, cooking, cleaning, preparing and all the other craziness that I know goes on at my house – check your heart. Make sure that you determine in your spirit that you will choose to plan, travel, buy, cook, clean and prepare with thankfulness in your heart because all of these actions require prayer, singing (to keep from going crazy), talking with others and giving of yourself and what you have out of your abundance. Thanksgiving is a time for giving thanks. Make sure THAT is your primary priority.