Author Archives: April
“He is not here; he has risen just as he said.” Matthew 18:6
The above picture is one I took early morning while at sea on a cruise. It is a miracle that I got these shots because I am not usually an early riser. Yet, while on this trip there was this urgency of wanting to get up and see the sun rise over the ocean at least one morning. As Jim and I sat out on the deck with our coffee talking, I saw the sun begin to rise and I insisted that we cease our conversation for a few minutes. I wanted to soak up the Master bringing in a brand new day. God’s creation was waking up. It was not only beautiful but it was a renewal of the heart and a reminder of how God’s Son gives light into the soul. It was as though that no matter what had been troubling my heart in days past or present, the sun rising was a message from God saying; “it’s gonna be alright.”
This Sunday will be Easter. Many people will be getting up early to attend sunrise services. It will be a time of reflection of Mary finding the tomb empty. Just as the sun rises our Savior is risen. This is not only a time of reflecting on the empty tomb but it is a time of God awaking our hearts to the new life Christ gives when He lives in us.
For some, you may not be an early riser like myself but I encourage you to sometime to set your alarm clock to get up to watch the sunrise. As you stand and watch, inhale the newness of life that Christ gives. Be aware of the Risen Son’s presence. Soak it up. Be renewed. And, know that no matter what you have gone through or are going through, God is telling you; “it’s gonna be alright.”
May you and your loved ones have a blessed Easter!
Originally posted on Thoughts From The Porch:
Today, I watch television. As like other days, I see people hurting, feeling abandoned, some are lost and some who want freedom. People are wanting freedom from the hurts, disappointments, and sin in their lives. Maybe you are one of these people who are looking for answers and all you want is complete freedom.
I glance through highlighted portions and side notes taken in William Young’s book The Shack, I stumble on page ninety-five where Papa explains to Mack about true freedom. She says to Mack:
“Mackenzie, the Truth shall set you free and the Truth has a name; he’s over in the woodshop right now covered in sawdust. Everything is about ‘him’. And freedom is a process that happens inside a relationship with him. Then all that stuff you feel churnin’ around inside will start to work its way out. “How can you really know how I feel? Mack, asked, looking back in…
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Originally posted on Thoughts From The Porch:
As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come follow me”, Jesus said; “and I will send you out to fish for people.” At once they left their nets and followed Him.
A couple of weeks ago Jim and I went to his home church to worship with his family. As the service began, the minister did his greeting and in his greeting he shared this thought: “When we invite someone to church, we are asking them to be part of God’s family and to join us on the journey to heaven.” I loved this statement and it made my heart smile.
Have you ever taken a trip with a group of friends? If you have, you probably experienced…
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Originally posted on Thoughts From The Porch:
2 Corinthians 4:7-17
7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 8 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 11 For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. 12 So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.
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It Was Going To Be A GREAT Day!
Today was going to be a GREAT day. I was finally getting back to my morning small group after being pulled away due to family events and personal illness. The weather was finally going to be like Spring after so many winter snowy days without sun. After group, I would be on my way to the grocery to pick up a few things including a couple of steaks to initiate the grill for the season this evening. Then, home for lunch on the porch and some reading and possible writing.
It was great getting back into group and discussing the importance of forgiveness. We discussed the importance of asking for and accepting forgiveness. Along with asking for forgiveness and receiving it, we also discussed that once forgiveness takes place we need to let go and move forward. We walk in God’s grace, practice God’s grace and are aware of God’s grace in ALL of our daily interactions. After all, this is the example Jesus set for us as He walked this earth.
Off To The Grocery
When leaving small group and heading to the grocery, I did not realize how soon God was going to give me a lesson in grace. I enter the grocery and in no time have all the items I needed. Off to the check out counter I go. As I approach the many lanes I see long lines. Well, I got what I needed in timely fashion but it looks like it is going to take forever to check out I said to myself. Walking to find a short lane, I find a lane with no one in it except for one lady who was looking at magazines just before you get to the counter. Ma’am, are you in line? I asked her because I did not want to jump in front of her. She sweetly smiled and said; oh, no. Please go on ahead of me. I am still looking. I politely thanked her and proceeded to check out.
As the transaction was being completed, I was still fumbling with my wallet and purse and had not placed the bags in my cart. Without realizing it, the clerk had sweetly put my bags into my cart. I thank her and she smiled and said; my pleasure. You have a wonderful afternoon. Needless to say, I walked out with a smile on my face and in my heart.
Suddenly, I Get That Feeling In the Pit of My Stomach as I Hear Metal Crunching…
Car loaded up and ready to head for home for that much look forward to lunch on the porch and that quiet time of reading. As I got in the car I noticed that the cars that had pulled in beside me had made it a little tight for me to get out. Aware of my surroundings, I knew that I needed to be fully focused on getting out of this tight spot. I began to slowly back out of my place with the awareness of a car a couple of spaces behind me getting ready to back out. Slowly pulling out and watching this car, I suddenly hear the sound of metal going crunch!
Oh no! Where did that come from? What did I hit? I was watching what was around me? As I looked to my right I see a red vehicle much bigger than mine. Yes, we had collided. Although, the day had been off to a good start, my heart sank. Tears rolled down my eye. I cried out to God; Can I just get a break?! It seems lately I get back on my feet and something happens! With tears in my eyes, I get out of my car and immediately call Jim to come to the parking lot that I have been in a minor accident. After I hung from Jim I approach the young lady I had collided with tears still rolling down my face.
I am so sorry were the words I spoke to her as I approached her. She saw my state of mind and threw her arms around me and hugged me. She said it is okay. It is fixable and only metal. I told her that it has been a rough couple of months and this was something that I just didn’t need. Her response was oh, I am so sorry. Bless your heart. I immediately told her that I did not see her. She replied. it was no one’s fault. It just happened. You were watching for a car and I was doing the same. Thus, we were in each other’s blind spots and it simply happened.
The police arrived and asked what happened. He also agreed that in situations such as these that it happens and there is really no reporting anyone at fault. As we handed our insurance and license to the officer, Jim noticed we had the same insurance carrier. We agreed with having the same insurance already put us in the right direction of getting the vehicles fixed.
The young lady, Jim and I talked and exchanged other information while we waited for the report to be written up. As we talked, we had the feeling we knew each other from another time and place but could not recall. Our paths had been in similar places but we could never pinpoint where they may have crossed. Yet, it was a time of getting to know someone else.
Once the officer gave us the information we needed. The young lady, Jim and I shook hands. As we shook hands; this sweet young lady said; it was a pleasure meeting you and talking to you. I just hate it was in this way. We agreed we would be in touch with repairs and said we knew it would all work out.
What Does This Have To Do With Grace/Forgiveness?:
You see from the time I was ready to check out with my grocery items I had encounter God’s grace. I had seen him at work blessing me. He blessed me with the kind lady who told me to go ahead in line. Then as I got out of my car after hearing the crunch of fenders hitting another, he blessed me with a sweet, understanding young lady who reached out hugged me and assured all would be okay. She may not realize it but it was her spirit that ministered to me whether she realized it or not. What sometimes can be an ugly scene was a moment of kindness and patience. All along, God was blessing me through these chain of events.
Yet, as I went to get in my car, I had not seen the blessings just yet. Once again, I broke down in tears this time in Jim’s arms. As he held me in his arms, I told him I was so sorry for the inconvenience I put him through by pulling him from work and the inconvenience it would be to get the car fixed with all that has already taken place and is still going on, he just held me and said; it is okay Peanut. This is why I pay an insurance bill every month. I have been married to you for twenty-nine years and this is the first real accident you have ever had on our watch together and it isn’t that big of a deal.” He hugged me tight and told me to go home have some lunch and just relax.
The afternoon progressed and in that I had my little pity party. Yet, in the midst of this pity party, I got down on my knees and asked God to intervene. I asked him to bring me peace. It is in doing this my eyes and heart were opened. I began to see God’s hand in ALL that I had been through earlier that day.
How It Could Have Been But Wasn’t
You see, the grocery could have been so busy that it could have taken me longer to get the things I needed. Instead of the lady with the full grocery cart telling me to go ahead, she could have told me she was in line and gone ahead of me. The clerk did not have to place my things in my cart for me but she did. And, when the accident occurred, the young lady could have been anything but nice. When Jim arrived on the scene, he could have been put out being called away from work. Upset and question me if I was paying attention. But, such was not the case in each situation.
In each situation grace was extended to me. Grace by allowing me to get head in line. Grace with the clerk helping me with my groceries and especially grace was shown to me from the young lady I collided with me. You see in a time of inconvenience and frustration, God blessed me with his grace. He blessed me with putting kind and caring people in my path.
Praise God From Whom ALL Blessings Flow
As I write this, I feel God’s peace. I see all the blessings God had planned for me in each situation I was placed in. All in all, I can only say these words; Praise God from whom ALL Blessings flow! God is good! All the time!!
No matter the daily situations we are placed in good or bad, God is there as long as we acknowledge his presence. He is ready to bless us. We just have to be willing to accept the blessings and walk in his grace. It is in all the situations that he places us in we are being molded even more into his likeness.
Had a bad day? Sit down and reflect on that day/situation and see where God was at work. Seek the blessings he placed before you.
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.
Had a bad day/situation? Watch the video and see how a bad day can turn into something good.
After all, God is good ALL the time and there are blessings through it all!
God, I Simply Give Up!
The beginning of 2014 has been a rough start for my family and especially me. It seems that when I begin to get into a routine something else happens. There are times when I want to throw my hands up in the air and say; God I simply give up! It is NO use! Yet, I know that throwing my hands up in the air is not the answer to all that has happened.
How Are You Holding Up?
Some people have asked how have I held up in the midst of all the calamity that has taken place. I smile and say; it is just one day at a time. I know it is all a part of God’s refining me and sometimes refining my family into more of His likeness.
Yet, there is more to acknowledging that it is part of God’s refinement. It is more than just taking it one day at a time. Over the years and especially even more so in recent months, I have come to realize that in the midst of calamity, that we must seek refuge just as we seek physical refuge in the midst of a storm.
What, who and where is my refuge? My refuge is sitting quietly in a room and opening my heart to his holy presence. In other words, I seek refuge in the arms of his Son, Jesus. It is in my prayers that I lay all that is happening at the feet of Jesus. As I lay these things at the feet of Jesus, I simply ask God to embrace me in his arms. It is no different from when a small child wants to be held by a loved one when they are hurting.
In the midst of this quiet time and allowing God to embrace me in his arms, is where I find peace. I see how far God has brought me. He assures me that he will not leave me. There is affirmation that God has my back and he is my shelter. And, as the storms calm down, he will raise me up and take care of me beyond what I think I need.
There are many verses in the bible reminding us that God is our refuge. This morning, I turn to Psalm 46:1 which is a simple verse that anyone can engrave on their heart.
God is our refuge, and strength, and ever-present help in trouble.
How To Seek Refuge
On the days when the walls seem to be closing in and you simply feel like giving up, I encourage you to stop wherever you are and quote Psalm 46:1 to yourself. Find a quiet place and seek his holy presence. Seeking refuge in God can provide strength no matter the situation. Allow God to hold you and raise you up.
I was pushed back and about to fall, but the Lord helped me.
The Lord is my strength and defense, he has become my salvation.
We’re here! Were the words my father spoke to the security guard standing out in the Nation’s Capital drive area. You see, my family was on vacation to see the sites of Washington, DC and to visit with my aunt. After many long hours of riding and my brother begging my dad to stop and talk to a sign from time to time (the fast food drive-thru), we arrived in DC at the peak of rush hour!
It was like a scene from European Vacation
As my dad tried to navigate through the metro area of DC, he was quick to learn that streets and lanes change to accommodate the traffic. After many u-turns and barely missing a few flower beds, Dad thought he had reached a parking area or at least where he could find some sort of direction. Thus, pulling up to our Nation’s Capital and dad rolling down the window to announce the security guard that we had arrived. The look on the security guard’s face was priceless. Looking back, this real life adventure reminds me of the movie, European Vacation where Clark and family keep going in circles in the round-about.
A Simple Trip To The Mall
This incident was many to come as we vacationed in DC that summer. Dad noticed that one of our tires was in bad shape when we arrived at my aunt’s condo. The decision was made that we would take the car to a Sears the next morning to get the tire fixed. How hard would that would be and how long could it take? After all, Mom and I could do a little shopping and the guys could hang out and look at tools. Then, we would be on with our site seeing of Washington. WRONG!
Dad, Mom, my brother and I loaded up the car for the day. We are heading to Sears to get the tire fixed. Dad had found out where the closest Sears was and off we went. As we traveled the interstate to Sears, Dad saw the mall coming up on his right side. He was sure the next exit would take us to the right destination. WRONG!
Yes, we were back in that scene from European Vacation with Clark and family stuck in the round about. Dad would take an exit and then turn around. For a while we were up and down the interstate seeing the mall and all we could do is wave at it as we passed. I don’t quite remember how Dad finally figured out how to get to the mall but we made it. The tire was fixed. Mom and I shopped. Then, we were off to see the sites of Washington, DC.
Mom Reads The Wrong Sign
After a day of site seeing, we returned to my aunt’s place to clean up and go somewhere nice for dinner. My aunt would be in meetings that evening so we thought a night out on the town would be fun. Mom had found a travel guide of places to eat in Washington. She had read about one that she thought we would all enjoy. Again, we load up the car and off to a nice dinner we go. As we pulled out of the drive of my aunt’s place, Dad asked Mom where was this restaurant was located. She read off the directions and said it will be on “M” street. Dad goes in the direction of where this place was to be located. As we began to travel to our destination, Dad told Mom to look for “M” street. Suddenly, Mom says; there’s M Street. Yes, it was a sign that said “M” with an arrow pointing in a direction. However, it was not getting us to our destination. Instead, we arrived in the roughest part of Washington, DC. Needless to say, my dad did not roll down his window this time and announce our arrival but only to put the pedal to the metal to get us out while my brother and I ducked down in the back seat in fear of our lives. You see, the “M” Mom was seeing was the sign directing you to the Metro stops.
Once Dad got us out of a dangerous area, he looked at the city map and navigated our way to the planned destination. After fearing for our lives and taking wrong turns, we arrived to the restaurant for the dinner we had anticipated an hour earlier. Needless to say, Dad pretty much let us order whatever we wanted on the menu that evening.
Our Journey in Life
So many times in life, we forget that God is in control. In our effort to get to where God wants us to be we take the wheel in attempt to get to the destination he has set for us. As a result, we arrive but not at the intended destination.
There are times in life where we see where we need to be but we keep passing it by. In other words, we keep going in circles seeing where we need to be but we just seem to not be able to get there. We are stuck in the round about.
Along with wanting to take the wheel, and getting stuck in the round about, we think we see a sign that is telling us that is where God wants us to go. Yet, after following the sign, we find ourselves maybe not in a dangerous place like my family in DC but we arrive anywhere but where God intended us to be.
As a teacher I once worked with use to say, God has a plan. It is a good plan. He has a plan for our path. Thus, we have to pay attention to his guidance. Proverbs 3: 5-6 tells us:
Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in ALL your ways submit to him.,
and he will make your paths straight.
In other words, there is no need to have to make u-turns, drive through flower beds and end up in dangerous areas in our life when we give God full control of our lives. Each day when we get up we need to get our map (bible) and ask God to direct our paths for the day. We have to pay attention to his leading every second of the day and watch for signs. It is important that we pay attention to his voice within because he will tell us if we are about to take a wrong turn.
Yes, there are times when we will forget God is in control. We are going to make wrong turns. It is my prayer that we don’t end up in a dangerous situation. However, we all know that there are people who have landed in a bad place because they did not allow God to lead them. It is in these times, when we need to pull up to the security guard (God) and let him know; we’re here and allow him to guide us back into the right direction.
The Rest of the Story
My family and I did enjoy our vacation to Washington, DC that summer. I can say that it was one of the most memorable vacations we took except the one trip to Florida one summer. However, that is for another day.
Disclaimer…Please note that this trip was taken many years ago before GPS and guys would not dare ask for directions.
A New Day
This video/song seems to be the new rage at this moment. It is easy to see why it is catching on and why people like it so much. As you listen to the song, you will find yourself tapping your toe, dancing in your seat and if you are not careful humming it under your breath hours after you have listened to the song.
As I listen and watch this video this morning, I turn to Psalm 68:3.
But may the righteous be glad and rejoice before God;
may they be HAPPY and joyful.
For those of you who are Peanuts fans, you are familiar with the drawing of Charlie Brown and Snoopy with the saying;
Happiness is warm puppy.
Yes, I can see how happiness is a warm puppy. My precious Smokey brings me happiness every day. Yet, there is more to happiness than a warm puppy. Happiness is seeking joy in ALL things that life brings us.
There are situations/days where we feel anything but happy. The times in life where we wish we could just runaway and hide. We want to go back to bed and pull the covers over our head and simply escape from the day/situation. We have all been there a time or two. However, it is on these days where it is essential to seek happiness and find the joys.
How do we find happiness on the days we just want to go back to bed and pull the covers over our heads? We must seek the blessings. It is in these moments when we have to fine tune our hearts to hear God’s voice and open our eyes a little wider to see the blessings he puts in our path. Instead of staying in bed, we must get up and start singing praises to God. It is when we do this that the situation before us seems to get a little easier to handle. After all, God has woken us up and given us one more day.
Over the years, when I have known people going through tough times, I have encouraged them to begin a blessings journal. In this journal I encourage them to write down five blessings from that day. When I began encouraging people to do this I suggested the end of the day. However, over the years, and after doing this several times myself in tough situations, I have found doing the blessing journal twice a day is good. In other words, start out the day seeking and acknowledging the blessings God is already giving us as we begin our day. Then, at the end of the day, write five more blessings that we experienced throughout the day. It has been my experience that once a person gets going with this blessings journal they will begin to exceed the five blessings. Thus, no matter the situation we can face it with a joyful heart.
I love Psalm 118:24;
This is the day the LORD hath made;
Let us REJOICE and be glad in it!
God gives us each new day. In this new day, he has blessings planned for us in ALL situations and in ALL that we do. If you haven’t already, start beginning your days by singing praises to God. It is when you do this you will feel happy and want to clap along. After all, it is a new dawn; a new day; it’s a new life and you should be feeling good no matter your circumstance.
Last Thursday evening as Jim and I sat in our Coffee Talk small group, Mary brought her knitting. She asked if it would be rude if she knitted while we had our share time together. No one objected because we knew that this piece she was knitting would one day be prayed over and given to someone who is in need of God’s loving and comforting touch.
Our lesson taken from Psalm 23:3 he leads me along the right paths for his name sake. The focus for our lesson was our purpose in this life and God’s calling us to this purpose. In other words, we need to be in tuned to God’s still small voice and allow him to guide our path.
Purpose/calling. When we hear that word we sometimes think of the evangelists, the missionaries, the song writers/singers and writers that up there front and center fulfilling their purpose. It can be intimidating at times and make some of us ask if we are actually hearing God’s voice and fulfilling our purpose in life.
For some of us, we have had different callings in our life time. In other words, just as the seasons change in nature, our seasons change. Some of us question if we are truly listening to God’s voice and following his leadership when our seasons change. We may feel guilty that we are not continuing the same path we have been on for many years. Know that there is nothing wrong with this change in path. There are times when we fulfill one purpose and God is ready to move us on to a new task. It is all a part of his refining us into his likeness.
In Kentucky this winter we have had winter in all its glory. In our life there are seasons where our purpose/calling may be up front/center stage. There is no doubt we know our calling just as there has been no doubt that we have had winter.
Then, there are times when the seasons are calm. Last year, Kentucky had a very quiet and mild winter. No big headlines were needed. It is in seasons such as these we sometimes question God and his purpose for us. We wonder if we are truly answering his call. Are we actually hearing his still small voice from within.
As these thoughts were bounced around our small group the other night, I looked across the room at Mary’s knitting one stitch at a time and yet seeing this beautiful prayer shawl come together. Seeing her loop one thread over another one, I saw a connection.
There are times when we are called to do big things. But most times we are called and our purpose is to do small things. We think that these small things really don’t mean much and aren’t making a difference. It is this thinking that causes us to miss the lesson that God is teaching us. This can result in our missing the blessing that God has planned for us.
You see, it is the small things/callings that make the big difference. It is the opening the door for someone who has their hands full and smiling as we do it. It is that simple phone call to that one friend that came to mind or sending them a message/card. It is taking time to stop to help that stalled car get pushed to the side out of harms way. A simple wave to someone next to us. It is posting that one encouraging thought on Facebook.
Just as one thread being looped over and over, each one of answering those simple callings eventually become a beautiful blessing and they bring glory to God. We may or may not see the impact from answering these small callings while on earth. I do know that when we reach our eternal home that we will see the results of people answering the smallest of callings. We are going to see the most beautiful tapestry that is beyond our earthly comprehension.
In the days ahead, God is going to call you to various things/purposes. There will be different seasons with different callings. Just know no matter what season and/or how great or small the calling that you are making a difference.
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 1 Peter 2:8-9
Take a moment to listen to the video below. As you listen, think about God’s calling/purpose for you.