My Throwback Thursday

‘For through me your days will be many, and years will be added to your life.’

Proverbs 9:11

It is a Thursday afternoon as I sit down to write this tribute to my son, Drew. In social media it is better known as Throwback Thursday. The day where people share pictures and stories of the past on Facebook.

Not only is it Throwback Thursday but it is the eve of Drew’s thirtieth birthday.  Drew is now a dad himself. He has a precious four-month old baby girl. As he shares the newest things Campbell has discovered and/or things he is doing with her, my mind goes back to  Drew’s childhood.

In these flashbacks, I can see a little boy sitting in his daddy’s lap early in the morning reading the paper and talking together before starting their day.  As Drew got older, these early morning conversations and reading the paper together transpired at the table and eventually with a cup of coffee in hand.  Nowadays,once a week, in the early hours of the morning, I can hear father and son having conversation together with a cup of coffee in hand. The only difference is it is over the phone.

Then my mind goes back to all the trips we took with Drew over the years. The beach trips, the Disney World trips, trips to the mountains and the list goes on. My favorite pictures of Drew on these trips are the pictures of Drew with his dad sitting on the beach planning what kind of sand castle they would build.  As they planned, they would discuss what would be the foundation and how they would form this foundation and build their sand structure. It was all diligently planned out.

Out of these conversations, I think of the advice, the do’s and don’t’s Jim gave Drew. The  most pivotal conversation I remember is the following on Drew’s thirteenth birthday.

Son, you are turning thirteen. The gift I want to give you is an assignment. The assignment is to read the entire book of Proverbs and imprint the wisdom from this book on your heart.” Drew took what his dad said to heart and not only read the book of Proverbs but also memorized quite a few which he has quoted back to us on occasion.

As I reminisce over these conversations and words of advice between father and son, I see where God was guiding a father to guide a son. God guided a father to showing and teaching his son the importance of making wise choices, listening to others and building his life and home on faith in God. Jim wanted Drew to have a solid foundation and relationship with God.

Today, as I write this I have no real advice to Drew.  It is  my prayer that as he watches his little girl grow up to absorb all the moments he can.  I pray Drew takes time to have those early morning conversations with his little girl in his lap that one day will evolve into conversations at the table over coffee.  I have no doubt that Drew will pass on the legacy of love and the foundation of faith that was given to him through the years. It is without a doubt he has Proverbs 22:6 imprinted on his heart and living it out with his daughter.  “Train a child in the way he is to go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.”

Drew- Have a wonderful birthday. This video pretty much sums up the wishes your Dad and I have for you on your birthday  and in the days ahead. We love you and are very proud of you!

 

My Soul Provider

heart and crown

June 19, 1989 Michael Bolton released the hit song, Soul Provider. This song is about a guy who wants to provide all of his love’s needs. He says he will wait patiently  and will hold their heart in his hand.  Although the song, Soul Provider was and is a good song, this is not about Michael Bolton nor his hit song. (Sorry about putting that ear worm in  your ear. I do hear that chewing gum does get rid of ear worms. )

Christmas Night

grief

Of recent, I have seen God’s provision at work for me. I don’t mean the daily roof over the head, food on the table and other necessities of life being met but His provision for my soul.  The last month has been a bumpy ride for me. If you read my previous post, Fearless, you will know my mom lost her battle with cancer. Thus, there has been a lot on my mind as I try to comprehend and accept all that has happened.

looking-back

There are times when you look back and see God’s provision. In my case, this would be this past Christmas night. Jim and I pull out of the hospital  parking deck of the hospital after spending the day with my mom and having an improvised Christmas celebration with my family at her bedside.  Jim begins to asks me where do I want to eat. Keep in mind it is Christmas Day night and the chances of finding something good to eat open were probably slim. Yet, we were determined to find anything but a McDonald’s or a Waffle House since that had been what we had lived off of for the last couple days.

After passing many exits and scouting for places with their lights on, we find a TGIFriday’s and it is open! We pulled into the parking lot and due to the few choices of places to park  we see that we might be there a while. Jim and I enter into the restaurant and we put our names on the wait list. The hostess tells us it will be a half hour to forty-five minutes before we are seated. We were okay with that as long as we could get a good meal.

Then It Happened

black-and-white-vintage

Jim and I found a place to lean as we waited for our table. To kill some time, we both pulled out our phones to catch up on messages. However, we barely got to the first set of messages and a young man comes up and calls our name and party number. Jim and I were stunned we were getting seated after only ten minutes and there were others ahead of us.

It was within a matter of seconds that a beautiful young lady came up and introduced herself and said she would be our server. As she introduced herself, she looked at us with such grace and said, “can I get you two a glass of sweet tea?” We both nodded in agreement that a cold glass of sweet tea would be much appreciated.

sweet-tea

Our server returned with our drinks and began to take our order. Again, she apologized that it might be a wait due to the crowd and the orders ahead of us. Jim and I told her we were okay and we understood. Yet, in a matter of minutes our food was at our table and it was steaming hot. Again, Jim and I look at each other acknowledging God was looking out for us.

Jim and I  joined hands and said our blessing and began to enjoy the flavors of our steaks and all that went with it. As we enjoyed our meal, we would realize there was something we needed and before we could even ask for the item it was already being brought to our table by our server or her helper. Our needs were met without us having to really ask for anything.

As we left the restaurant, I told Jim we just experienced God throughout the entire time. We both looked back at the sequence of how things unfolded as we enjoyed our Christmas night dinner. I asked Jim  if he thought  that it was odd that our servers knew what we needed or wanted before we asked but yet then again was it odd? We looked at each other and smiled. We knew God had known our needs even before we knew what they were and He provided.

Homesick

homeisck

This past weekend marked a month of laying my mom to rest. It was also Jim’s weekend for hospital duty. I dreaded the weekend with passion.  Jim and I live about six hours from my family  in Georgia and about two hours from his family in Louisville. I knew my brother was having a get together for his youngest son’s birthday and Dad would be going to join the fun. On Dad’s way, he would stop in downtown Atlanta to meet up with my son and great-granddaughter for a visit. Knowing all of this was taking place, Jim at work and us not having family here in the town we live, I began to throw myself a little pity party. I was homesick to the point I actually felt sick to my stomach. It was just Smokey {my sidekick and service dog} and me and the house was too quiet.

Trying to keep my mind busy, I would read and attempted to knock out some chores around the house. Yet, the heartache of being away from my family, Jim being at work and it being a month since I said good-bye to Mom, my heart broke all the more. It was one of those get the ice cream out of the freezer with no need to scope  but to only eat it with a spoon out of a container while binge watching Gilmore Girls. 

Jim had called me while on his lunch as he usually does and I told him how my heart ached and the loneliness I felt. He did the best he could to console me but he knew that what I was feeling is only something time and God could heal.

god-shows-up

Then it happened again! God showed up! God provided! about forty-five minutes after I talked with Jim on the phone, a friend sends me a text, ” Are you going to be home around 2:30? We have a cake to bring to you. I replied back that I would indeed be home.

As I finished picking up around the family room, the doorbell rang. I opened the door and there stood a dear friend from church/Bible Study with her mom holding what I consider a very big cake for two people. But it wasn’t the cake that overwhelmed me. It was the smiles on their faces they had as I greeted them at the door. You know the kind of smiles where you don’t just see the smiles but you see the light of Christ in the smiles. Yep, it was one of those moments. Though the visit was short, my spirits were lifted. Again, God provided just what my soul needed.

Sunday Morning

alive-blessed

Sunday morning arrives and again Jim is off to work at the hospital. I get myself up and ready for Sunday School and worship. My heart still working through my grief I knew Sunday School and worship was what I needed.

As our worship came to a close with the Gospel being presented and the altar call, a child of one of the gals in my Wednesday Night Bible Study went up to profess his faith and to request to be baptized. I think this child would have gone on up and jumped into the baptismal font clothes and all at that moment. He was so excited about his new life with Christ! To see that enthusiasm for God warmed my heart. Yet something else happened that personally warmed my heart.

After the closing prayer, this young man and his mom were asked to stand up front at the altar for the church family to congratulate and welcome this young child into the congregation and most of all welcome him into God’s Kingdom of believers. While I was standing in line waiting my turn one of the ladies I had been in Bible Study with began to talk to me and then all of sudden she embraced me with the most loving hug. She began to tell me what I meant to her and how she loved me. At first I didn’t know, how to respond but then I asked if all was going okay with her. We chatted a few minutes as we made our way through the line.

Once I got home, I immediately messaged this sweet gal that grabbed and hugged me. I told her I needed that hug because it had been a rough weekend for me. I told her it was a month to the day that I was sitting in my mom’s funeral.  She messaged me back saying she just suddenly felt the urge she had to hug me. Again, God was at work using someone I knew to bring me comfort and letting me know how much He loves me.

Along with what happened on Christmas Day, the cake and smiles arriving at my front door and the hug at church, I have been leading the study, Redeemed by Angela Thomas-Pharr. The scriptures for the last two weeks have been exactly what I needed. In this week’s video session, she discusses justification, sanctification and glorification of redemption. As she explained glorification, it brought comfort to my heart knowing that Mom is now fully redeemed and she is with her King. It is through my salvation that I will be with her again one day. Does that completely take the homesickness and the hurt that is so raw away? No, but it gives me that blessed assurance of the love and grace God has given me. It reminds me that God is walking with me in this storm and to continue to seek the blessings He puts in my path.

Our Soul Provider

fear-not

There may be a time where you are going through life’s storm. You wonder where you will get the strength to take that next step forward. You will have had nothing but Waffle House, McDonald’s, hospital food or whatever else you can find in a vending machine and you long for that hot meal with a glass of sweet tea. Maybe you are sitting at home in silence at your wit’s end indulging in that carton of ice cream while binge watching Gilmore Girls. Whatever the need your soul longs for God is there and He is taking care of those needs. You may not realize it right now but there will be a day you will look back and see that God was providing all along. Those things that happen that some people all coincidence are not coincidence they are divine interventions of God taking care of your soul.

Paul reminds us in Philippians 4:19 that God will meet all of our needs according to his glorious riches in Christ. Matthew 11:28 Jesus says, “Come to me all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.”  Psalm 147:4 says, “He counts the number of the stars, He gives names to all of them. What a blessed assurance that we have a Father who meets our needs, who longs for us to come to Him when we are weary, and just like He names the stars, He knows our name and longs to be our soul provider and holds our hearts in His hand.

Blessings-

Fearless

be-fearless

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong

and of good courage, do not be afraid,

nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God

is with you wherever you go.”

Joshua 1:9

 Two weeks ago my family and I began a new chapter in our lives. This chapter opened up not only as a New Year but it also began a new normal. My mom went to her eternal home after a hard fight with cancer.

Mom pictured with my dad on the right and my husband, Jim in the middle.

Mom pictured with my dad on the right and my husband, Jim in the middle.

The Word Cancer Came Into Our Home

Five and a half years ago mom learned that she had cancer.  Once hearing this news and sharing with immediate family, Mom very firmly requested that we say nothing to no one. Yet, she did allow me to share with my Ladies’ Bible Study group, church family and Jim’s family here in Kentucky. I was allowed this privilege only because I live in Kentucky and she  lived in Georgia.  I am so grateful that Mom allowed me to share with these select few. They have held me up with love, prayers and encouragement as I took this journey. It is difficult for a girl to live away from her family especially her Mama. There is just something special about mother and daughter relationships.

Mom and me.

                         

Mom and me on my wedding day.

      

The Struggle

Over the last five and a half years, my brother and I struggled to keep a tight lip on what was going on with Mom. Deep within our hearts we so much wanted to share with others so that she would have more people praying for her and a support system for Dad. When the topic would be brought up it was quickly put to an end. Mom would have nothing to do with people knowing what she was going through.

Needless to say, not only did I struggle  carrying  this secret in the presence of those who knew her but there were times when I would become frustrated and question why Mom was so hush-hush about her battle with cancer.  I questioned how Mom was going to field the questions given to her as she would lose weight and she began to wear wigs. What was Dad going to tell people when Mom was not up to be out with him after a chemo session. (Mom and Dad did everything together!)  What would the response be to all of those inquiries?

dscn2239

” I’m Fine”

Despite Mom losing weight and wearing a wig, Mom would respond those inquiries of how she was feeling with the phrase, “I’m fine.”  When Dad or any of us were seen out and about without Mom we were told specifically by Mom to tell people she was fine. Mom did not want anyone to make a fuss over her. She chose to battle this beast with her own Southern Belle style and dignity.  She lived fearlessly knowing that she was a Daughter of the King and that she could face anything placed before her because  her strength was drawn from Christ. ( Philippians 4:13)

In her daily walk with Jesus, it was Mom’s choice to focus on the needs of others. She preferred sending cards and words of encouragement to others who were going through a storm.  Not only did she chose to encourage those fighting a life storm but she chose to encourage others in their ministries, their walk with Christ and celebrate life’s celebrations with others.  Mom was also my encourager in my daily walk with Christ and in my life as a mom, wife,  blog writer and Bible Study leader.

gods-presence

God’s Presence

On the morning of December 27, 2016, Mom took her seat at the Great Banquet in Heaven. This date was already significant to our family because it was her late daddy’s birthday.  Later that morning, I opened a box of pictures to sort for the slide show that would be shown at the funeral home. The first picture I picked up was of Mom on her wedding day on her father’s arm waiting to be given away to marry my dad. What a beautiful message  God gave me at that moment. Mom had taken the arm of her heavenly ushers to be presented before her King.

Mom with her dad on her wedding day.

Mom with her dad on her wedding day.

On the evening prior to Mom’s visitation, I prayed to God asking Him to send me something assuring me that Mom was ‘fine”. Perhaps this sign would be a butterfly in my path, a word from a friend or a feather from an angel.

As we gathered outside the funeral home to go in, Dad opened the door to let me go in first. Before I took the first step into the building, I looked down and on the threshold of the doorway was a feather. This *feather symbolizing that Mom had crossed the threshold into eternity and that I along with my family were and are under God’s care and protection.

red-cardinal-two

Sunday, New Year’s Day, it was just Dad and I left at the house. Dad and I were eating breakfast and watching the birds come to eat at the feeders on Dad’s deck. Then, for just a few moments three red cardinals appeared on the deck. Again, another reminder that God was and is with us. The last three years Jim and I have lost someone of significance this time of year. The first being his dad losing his battle to cancer, the second being Jim’s favorite aunt and the third was my mom going home. For me, those three cardinals represented these three precious people that had and will continue to have a great influence on my life.

To Live Fearless

april-fearless-pose

Mom may have fought in silence but in her silence she taught me the true meaning of what it means to live fearlessly in the days ahead. No matter the battle that is put before us God is with us. When we acknowledge God’s presence in the battle we are able to face the fight ahead of us and fear less.

I have adopted this “Fearless” motto for my journey ahead of me. It is through my faith through Christ Jesus that will give me the courage and strength to face whatever is before me. I can hear  my sweet mama singing the  lyrics below  from the hymn, I Know Who Holds Tomorrow in her soprano voice.  I know she didn’t worry about the future in her fight because she knew who was walking with her and she walked fearlessly each day.

I don’t worry o’er the future,
For I know what Jesus said.
And today I’ll walk beside Him,
For He knows what is ahead.

Jacqueline Ward Daniel Hill November 2, 1943-December 27, 2016

Jacqueline Ward Daniel Hill
November 2, 1943-December 27, 2016

*I have a collection of feathers all the same coloring that I have found in my path over time. They are always found in places in my path where you wouldn’t think a feather would fall. The feather found on the threshold of the funeral home is probably the most precious one yet.

Remember Who You Are

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possessions, that you declare praises

of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

1 Peter 2:6

remembering-who-you-are-in-christ

Remember Who You Are

Remember who you are. Growing up in a minister’s home, these words were often to spoken to me as I would go out with friends or when I would be out with my family. Those spoken words meant behave yourself, use your manners and know that people are watching you.  In other words, my identity and reputation would be defined by my actions and by the words I would say.

Fast Forward

In 1987, I became a mom to a precious little boy named Drew. As I began to raise him and send him out, I soon heard my mom coming out of my mouth as he would leave the house. Remember who you are I would say to Drew as he would head out the door.  These words were spoken even more often as he began to drive, date and do more things without Jim and I around.

One evening, Drew asked why we kept repeating this phrase before he would leave the house. Jim and I explained that when he is out and about he is representing our home and what we stand for and what we don’t tolerate as a family. We also explained that we live in a small town and chances are we will know where he had been before he got home. Yes, we did know where he was and who with before he returned home on several occasions. Jim and I also explained that it is important of being mindful of how one acts and what one says because it also shows his  heart  condition and what he believed.

Drew is now grown with his own family. He and his wife have just had a  precious baby girl, Campbell over a month ago. As Jim and I watch Drew and Megan with Campbell, we can’t help not only hear the words of what we said to Drew as we raised him but also the voices of our parents are even stronger. The words, remember who you are seem to be even louder for me these days.

Conforming

"The cross before me, the world behind me."

“The cross before me, the world behind me.”

As of recent Jim and I watch very little “new” programs on television. Just last night the television was on and we had tuned into a sitcom we thought would be entertaining. After about five minutes into it, we looked at each other and said, what is this world coming to? As we spit these words out of our mouths, we looked at each other and there was a moment of silence.

Jim and I began to talk about how the world is so much different from it was when we were growing up. We were both born in the mid 1960’s, grew up in the seventies and graduated high school in the early 1980’s.  Back then our grandparents thought the world was going crazy.  Yet, I look back now and see how much simple life was than it is now.

It seems we have forgotten who we are, whose we are, what is right and as Christians we are facing intolerance of our faith. Not only are Christians facing intolerance of their faith but they are facing  pressures to conform to this world.  As I write this I am reminded of Romans 12:2

Do not conform to this pattern of this world

but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.

Turning From The Faith

daniel-in-the-lions-den

This past Sunday in Sunday School. We looked at Daniel 1:1-7. In this passage we learn of how God has handed King Nebuchadnezzar Judah.  In the process of this siege,  Nebuchadnezzar has ordered for the  young men from the royal family and noble families of the Israelites to be brought to serve in his court. The qualifications of these you men were they had to be   good-looking and who would most likely conform to his instructions and way of life.

It was the King’s plan to change these young men to conform to his rules, his lifestyle and to forget who they were meaning to take God out of their lives. Nebuchadnezzer expected these young men to bow to his gods. He went as far changing the names of these young men.  Their current names were names that represented God thus the need to change their names.

Through this process, the King ran into a snag. The snag was Daniel. Daniel refused to conform to the King’s ways. He refused to eat the same food as the King and to bow down to the King’s gods. As you read the book of Daniel, you will see where God showed up, used Daniel to turn the King’s heart around.

There Will Be A Day

keep-watch

In my NIV Life Application Bible, Matthew 24’s sub heading is Jesus Teaches About the Future.  In the beginning of this chapter, Jesus comes out of the temple and the disciples call Jesus over to admire structure of the temple. They are impressed with the architecture. Yet, Jesus tells them the building is only temporary. As Matthew 24 continues Jesus warns the disciples ( including us) about there will come a time of false prophets, deception, Nation will rise against nation, and there will be famines. Jesus went on to explain to the disciples that they and we as Christians will be hated because of Him. Then in Matthew 24:13 he says what I believe is the most pivotal and important phrase, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.

Standing Firm

stand-firm-in-faith

It seems these days there is so much going on. People doing things out of greed, out for themselves, no concern for fellow-man, and manners seemed to be a thing of the past. I see families against one another and the list goes on. If you are on any type of social media you see such things every day. Our television shows and news also reflect this culture that has been created.  Thus, all the more reason that we as Christians need to stand firm in what we believe. Each morning when we rise,  we  need to pray for wisdom, guidance and discernment. Just as Daniel stood firm in his faith we must stand firm in ours.

Remember Who You Are

cropped-girl-looking-at-the-moon2.jpg

Yes, as a child my mom would remind me each time I left the house to remember who I was and how my actions spoke loudly to those I would encounter. Today, as I go out and about my business, I realize even more so the importance of remembering who I am and who I represent. I don’t just represent my personal home and family but I represent God’s Kingdom.

1Peter 2:9 tells us that we are a chosen people and  a royal priesthood.  Each one of us  made the decision to step out of darkness and ways of the world to step into the light of Christ and represent His kingdom.  It is my prayer as we go through the Christmas Season that we remember who we are and whose we are and that our words and actions demonstrate who we stand for and what we don’t stand for.  Let there be no question of who we are in this world.

Christmas Memories

Christmas Blessings

 

The Pink Chapel

The Pink Chapel

The Pink Chapel

Be completely humble, and gentle, be patient, bearing with one another with love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.   Ephesians 4:2-6

Over the last week, I have been participating in a photo challenge through social media. Each day there is a category of which a photo is to be posted. For example, one day it was “bloom” and I posted a picture of a rose bud in bloom from my yard. As each day passes there is a new category.

One particular day the category was stone. I scanned through my photos trying to find a picture that would be unique but yet fit the category of stone. I had many nature pictures of rocks and various other pictures of buildings/churches that fit into the category of “stone.”

Through my scrolling, I came across this picture of The Pink Chapel I had taken in St. Simons, Georgia several years back.  The building is made of stone and with the Spanish moss I thought this would be something unique to share not thinking about the story behind it. So, I posted the picture with appropriate tags for this photo challenge.

Then, it happened.  There were “likes” for this picture and then the organization that was hosting the photo challenge commented back, ” Wow! What is the story behind this chapel.” It was then when I had second thoughts about what I had posted.  Yes, this is a chapel but a chapel with a very sad story.

Teardrop

The more I thought about the story and shared the story with the organization the more I questioned my sharing the picture. Yet, as I prayed about it and thought it through, I came to know even more how God can use ALL things to get his message to his people. Thus, after many re-writes on the response on instagram to the comment, I shared an brief explanation of the Pink Chapel’s story.

The Story of the Pink Chapel

The Pink Chapel

This chapel was built in 1838. It got its name from the pink lichen that grew on the walls and surrounding area.  Just like other historical places on St. Simons Island it has its own share of ghost stories, myths/folklore. Some of the untrue stories include that it was a place where slaves were beaten and some stories claimed it was a place for devil worship. However, these stories are far from the truth regarding the chapel.

 In 1838 there were two families, the Wylly family and the Hazzard family. Col. William Hazzard owned the West Point Plantation. His brother, Thomas owned Pike’s Bluff Plantation. There was another plantation called The Village that adjoined Col. Hazzards property.  John Wylly was the owner of the Village Plantation.  Both of these families were members of Christ Church.

The bitterness between Col. Hazzard and John Wylly was over property lines. It seems they couldn’t even agree to disagree. Thus, bitterness tension grew between these two men.

duel two

 It got so bad that Thomas Hazzard and John Wylly were called to come to Brunswick to settle this dispute. It was decided that the dispute would be settled with a duel. John Wylly was shot by Thomas Hazzard in cold blood. Thomas Hazzard was later acquitted for this act of murder. Due to Thomas Hazzard being acquitted for the murder, the neighbors began to turn their backs on them. Needless to say, bitterness and hatred between the Hazzard and Wylly families only grew to be very intense.

The Rubber Meets The Road

rubber meets the road

The tension between the two families became so great that they would enter the church grounds through separate gates.  Over time the Hazzard family grew tired of the hostile enviroment that had been created so they decided to build their own church. Thus, the Pink Chapel was built. This was a place where the Hazzard family  and the people of the West Point Plantation and Pike’s Bluff Plantation would worship.

This  particular chapel was built out of hostility  towards a neighbor, church family members and the unwillingness to seek and extend forgiveness and God’s grace.  I told you it was a sad story.

It saddens me to think and realize that there are pink chapels being built today. Church families can’t agree on certain things. Someone has hurt/offended someone. Instead of seeking and extending grace and forgiveness, they simply store up the anger and the bitterness. A hostile environment is created instead of a hospitable environment.  They enter the building on opposite ends and doors. Then it happens one day where they have had enough and one or the other leaves to  build their own church. I can’t imagine building a church that is not out of the call of reaching out to others, and glorifying God.

heartbeat

The church is not just a building. It is a place that has a heartbeat. The heartbeat is the people within the church. As Believers, we are to love one another, encourage, forgive, seek and extend grace. It is important that we  walk the talk of what being a  Christian means.  There are times when we all are going to stumble. None of us are perfect. It is in those moments of when we stumble we need to swallow our pride and ask for forgiveness. There are times where there are those in our church family that are going to stumble. As Christians, we are responsible for helping the person back up on their feet, pray for them and ask for God’s grace to intervene.

Grace card

Have I ever  been offended? Yes, I have experienced such moments in my lifetime. It is called being human. Early on in my growing up my mom taught me what it means to forgive. No matter how bad someone hurt me I was encouraged by her to forgive them and ask for their forgiveness even if I didn’t do anything or think I did anything  to create the situation.  In those moments, I forgave and extended the hand of friendship and grace. I see those moments as life lessons.  In some situations, I received some of the greatest blessings along with the lessons. Over time, I have learned how important it is to forgive and move on. I must keep my eyes on the cross seeking God’s grace and allow him to lead.

fast pace world

Today, we live in a world that is moving at a fast pace. More and more people are looking for answers. The non-believers are watching how the Believers  act and react to one another especially within the walls of the church. I love the quote from DC Talk’s song, What If I Stumble,” The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians who acknowledge Jesus with their lips. Then walk out the door and deny him by their lifestyle.  That is what an unbelieving world  finds simply unbelievable. “

At this moment, I ask you if a neighbor has done something to make you angry? Is there a dispute with someone and it just seems it never will be resolved? Is there someone within the church that has hurt/offended you? Is there bitterness being harbored within your heart?

If you said yes to any of these questions, I encourage you to kneel at the feet of Jesus. Place the person (s) and/or situation(s) at His feet. Extend the grace God has so freely given you through the blood of his Son, Jesus.

surrendering to God

May we remember that the church is for the broken. It is a place where we can come and be loved on no matter our flaws, our falls or stumbles we make in life. It is my prayer that pink chapels are not built. Instead, churches are built to glorify God, aligning their footsteps with the Word of God.  The people of the church need to be living  out loud the scriptures. We must reach out to an unbelieving world and let them know that there is life eternal.  Most importantly, walk in His grace every single minute of everyday that is given to us.

restoration in Christ

How about it? Instead of building pink chapels, let’s make the heartbeat of the church even stronger so that those looking from the outside in will want to come in and  experience that wonderful joy that we receive when we experience God’s marvelous grace!

God's amazing grace

Take time to listen to this beautiful song, Forgiveness by Matthew West.

Twist and Turns

The Lord is my salvation-whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life-of whom shall I be afraid? Psalm 27 :1

For I am the LORD you God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear, I will help you. Isaiah 41:13

Are there perfect days?

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“We are not promised perfect days but we are  promised A perfect day” is a quote that I have found myself quoting to people often times when they are in the midst of a struggle. Yet, there are days I forget to put this phrase into practice for myself. Yes, I am human. I am not perfect. I have flaws. I have fears. Life has taken my husband, Jim and I on many twists and turns.

The Celebration

Anniversary at church

Last November, 2015, Jim and I celebrated our thirtieth wedding anniversary.  To celebrate our anniversary, Jim booked a cruise for us. We were to leave the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Along with booking this trip, Jim surprised me on a Sunday evening at our church’s Thanksgiving dinner with having our pastor renew our wedding vows in front of our church family. He even surprised me with a cake after we renewed our vows. It was a very special evening.

The Storm

storm

The following Monday Jim comes home complaining of dizziness. We both figured it was his vertigo acting up and with him being a physical therapist he knew what he needed to do to get it settled down.  He tried the typical procedure and he did get some relief. Yet, in the next couple of  days this dizziness would only get worse. On Wednesday, the eve of Thanksgiving, I found myself in the ER with Jim. By this time Jim was so dizzy he could not even stand up. As the ER doctor examined Jim, he suggested a MRI to rule out stroke. Jim tried to talk his way out of the MRI and tried to convince the doctor to treat him for vertigo. Yet, this is one time I sided with the doctor. I knew we were on our way out of the country on the ocean blue in just a few days. At this point, Jim did not have much say other than to agree to have the MRI.

After patiently waiting, the doctor comes in with the MRI results. The doctor asked Jim if he had MS or migraines because there were lesions that only migraines or MS would have on the brain. Jim said he had a history of migraines. At that point, the doctor treated Jim for vertigo, gave us medication for Jim to have on the trip with a promise from us we would follow-up with a physician on our return home.

As promised, we did follow-up with a neurologist on our return home. This particular doctor has been a doctor Jim has worked with for many years. Thus, they know each other pretty well. When we went into the Dr.’s office the doctor asked Jim if he wanted the soft version or just out with what was wrong. Jim said he knew him well enough to just shoot straight with him. The neurologist said Jim had MS. I about fell out of my chair when hearing this news. It was the last thing I expected.

The Twist

The Dragon's Tail

Once the shock wave settled down, the doctor pulled up Jim’s MRI and went over what was going on regarding lesions. As the visit progressed, the doctor went over a treatment plan for Jim. He assured Jim that this would not affect his work and with medication the progression could be slowed down. In the midst of the consultation, the Dr. says that there is a meeting that very evening that we could attend to learn more about relapsing MS. Jim and I agreed we would attend the meeting.

The Blessing

heart and light

Believe it or not, Jim’s diagnosis was a blessing for us. For many years I have dealt with auto-immune issues. I have bounced from doctor to doctor trying to find out what was going on. Many times Jim asked some of these doctors to check me for MS but they would shake their heads, “no”.

As the meeting began, the doctor went over the main indicators for MS. The more the doctor talked the bigger Jim’s eyes got. You see, I had all of the main indicators for MS. Needless to say, Jim spoke with the doctor about what I had been through over the years and asked if he would evaluate me.  I went in the following week for evaluation and MRI. It turns out that our prayers had been answered. The mysterious dragon we had been fighting was finally given a name. The name being MS.

Though Jim’s episode and  landing him in the emergency room was scary and his diagnosis caught us off guard, a prayer was answered. For so long Jim and I had prayed to find out what was going on with my health. It is not the way we ‘thought’ God would answer our prayers but our prayers were answered.

There is more to the story.

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Two years ago this coming Fall, God led Jim and I to the church we now attend. Looking back, we see God’s hand in laying the foundation to send us the answer to our prayers. In this church family God has placed a dear sweet friend who is a nurse and has MS along with another friend who is a nurse with a lot of wisdom on this disease. Not only did God lay the foundation of placing these two precious people in our path but he placed us with a very loving church family who have and are walking with us and praying with us.

There are no perfect days but there is A perfect day!

God's timing

Last Fall, Jim and I stood before our church family renewing our wedding vows. In those vows we once again vowed to be there for one another in sickness and in health not knowing in a few days this particular vow would be put to the test.  I do believe this was also a part of God’s divine plan for us to renew our vows so that we would be reminded of what we had pledged to one another in front of witnesses and before him. Thus, when we were given the news we knew what we needed to do for one another.

Today, you may be praying a prayer that you have long waited for an answer. You wonder if God has forgotten you. Maybe you have been told no when asking for an answer. The water is rough right now and you are longing for smoother waters.

Let me encourage you to keep praying those prayers. Seek God in all you do in everything everyday. Count the blessings God gives you every day. Be in tuned to his leading and follow his lead. There will come a day when your prayer is answered. Trust me, it won’t be answered the way you think it will be answered. It may come in the midst of another twist and turn in life. Then, when you get the answer to your prayer, I encourage you to look back and it is without a doubt that you will see where God’s hand had been at work.

There are going to be many imperfect days in the days ahead. Realize it is God molding you more into his likeness, he is wanting you to grow deeper in your relationship with him and preparing you for that perfect day.

It is the imperfect days where I have no fear because I know who walks before me,who walks beside me and behind me.(Psalm 27:1) I know that it is in his time that he makes all things beautiful.( Ecclesiastes 3:11)

Leave in God's hand

Divine Appointment

 

Not A Morning Person

I hate mornings

  It is early morning. Jim and Drew are up reading the paper together and talking current events.  Jim tells Drew to go to the bedroom to see if I am interested in getting up. Drew very carefully tip toes into the bedroom. He approaches the bed like a special forces soldier would approach the enemy. He evaluates the situation of how to approach me. Does he stand at the bedroom door and ask if  I am interested in getting up. Or, does he slowly approach the bed and nudge me awake. If he does the latter, he may not fare too well. Sometimes, it is like waking a bear out of hibernation.  You see, I have never really been a morning person.

Jim heard a comedian one time talking about people who are not morning people. The comedian compared it to being like evolution. First, they get up and they are in the ‘Reptile Phase”.  Thirty minutes later “we have speach”.  By noon, “they are walking erect.” The family knows not to approach them during those primative earlier moments. Instead, non-morning people need time. As the morning progresses they gradually become human. 

Now, do not get me wrong. If I have to be somewhere like a job, classes or event, I will get up. I may not seem human but if I was meant to pop out of bed, we would sleep in toasters. 

Garfield sleep in toasters

The Awakening

Awakening

For the last seven weeks, I have been leading a Bible Study group through Priscilla Shirer’s,  Armor of God.  From the beginning, she has led us through Ephesians 6 and how we need to put our armor on each day. Each week we would learn and discuss a different  piece of armor and how we should put it on and apply it to our lives.

Priscilla goes on through the study about how God can change us from the inside out. When we align our lives with God’s WORD our hearts change. Not only do our hearts change but our desires change and how we live in the world changes.  It is a matter of  putting our trust in God, taking a faith step to where God is calling us into deep waters, and putting our armor on every single day just as we dress for the day.

God Corner part three

As each week has passed, I have seen where my desires have changed.  There seems to be more contentment in my life. Each day I  am excited to see what God has planned for me.

What Is Different?

Change ahead

Several weeks ago I had to go on some very strong medication for an MS episode. This medication really messed with my sleep and appetite. I wasn’t sleeping full nights. Instead, it was like I was taking naps and then I would be up. On these sleepless nights, I found myself moving to the family room to the recliner as not to wake Jim from his sleep. During this time, I found myself doing a lot of talking with my FATHER.  It was through these middle of night conversations where God really began his work on me.

Over time, I was able to go to bed and sleep. However, I still could not sleep all night and certainly not sleep in late. Then, it happened! I woke up at four o’clock AM. And, I didn’t just wake up but I WOKE up! My eyes came open and there was this tug for me to get out of bed. There was anticipation like a kid ready to see their gifts on Christmas morning. Thus, I quietly got out of bed, threw my bathrobe on and grabbed my Bible and went back to the family room. Once again, I was talking to my FATHER.

As the time drew closer to five am, I thought that since I was up I would make Jim breakfast. On this particular morning, he got up (he has always been an early riser) and as he approached the kitchen, he had to check to make sure he wasn’t sleep walking and/or dreaming. The reason he had to check was because he found on the table chocolate chip pancakes, bacon, a glass of milk and orange juice. And, my brother and sisters he found that I had cleaned up the mess I had made while making breakfast. Though he looked a little puzzled, he liked the special treatment and I know he wasn’t thinking; this is nice but it won’t last long. Well, he is still chewing on those thoughts as each morning since he has had breakfast on the table.

Drew and Jim

Our son, Drew usually calls Jim once a week to have their father and son chats. It works well for them to have an early morning phone call and talk while getting ready for work. It is also a tradition they started when we were raising Drew. Every morning, Drew and Jim would get up early (letting sleeping dogs lie) and would have devotional time, read the newspaper together, talk about current events, school and have breakfast together.

On this particular morning, Drew called as he usually does once a week. Jim’s phone rang just we were sitting down to say the blessing.  I told Jim to go ahead and answer because I know how important those phone calls are. As Jim answered he said; um, Drew can I call you back in about fifteen minutes? Mom has breakfast ready and we were just about to eat.  At that very moment you could hear dead silence. I could tell just from what I was seeing on my side of the table that Drew had gone into shock on the other end. I know he was wondering what his dad had done with his mom.

Divine Appointment

Appointment with God

When I look at my life I see a potter at a wheel shaping the clay pot and making changing on the clay pot from time to time. This is what my FATHER had done and is doing  in these last few weeks. This girl who has not been a morning person her entire life. The wife and mom whose family had to plan a combat strategy to wake her is now getting up every morning at 4:30 grabbing her Bible and going to the Family room for her morning talk with her FATHER.

Yes, there have been a couple of mornings where I have been tempted to turn the alarm clock off and roll over to go back to sleep. Yet, the Holy Spirit has a hold of my heart. He has been changing me from the inside out.

The Results

Bible opened

Out of this divine appointment, God has put before me new steps that he wants me to take. Some of these results are as follows:

I’ve become more disciplined in conversations with God and starting my day with his WORD.  My Bible study usually took place later in the day. 

It had been a while since I had really sat down and wrote thoughts of encouragement to share with other. I am back to writing again. Thoughts and ideas are just flooding my mind. 

I have created a prayer wall in my laundry room. There I place the names of my Bible Study group, the church activities, and other prayer request on the wall. During the day, I will retreat in there and have prayer time putting prayer request of others into my FATHER’S hands.

I have a chair by one of the family room windows that I enjoy especially in the Spring when the birds are out and the flowers in bloom.. I have created this little corner in my Family room to be my ‘God Corner.’ It is here where I read, work on Bible Study, write and reflect on God’s WORD.  During these times, I will have some sort of praise and worship music on and all other media is turned off.

God Corner

It is out of these moments of reflection where I have began posting on Facebook in the early mornings little reflections, devotional type things in hopes to encourage someone who needs encouraging. I also post an evening reflection.

God Corner four

Each morning, I message my Bible Study sisters in Christ a scripture, thought for the day and a praise song to get their day going. Since we are doing the Armor of God, I try to send something that fits in with that week’s study.

My desires have changed. My perspective on things have changed. I seem to have more patience these days.

It is also through this divine appointment that Jim and I have become closer as a couple in our faith walk as a couple and individuals. We have shared with one another how we can look back and see the hand of God at work in all that we have experienced; the good, the bad and the ugly.  We become more and more grateful for God’s provision every day.

There are some mornings I am already up before the alarm goes off because I am so excited to talk to my FATHER and see what blessings he has planned for me for the day.

heart and light

And, yes, Jim is still getting breakfast every morning.  Speaking of Jim getting breakfast every morning, my Bible Study group has asked if Jim is suspicious of me  being up early and making him breakfast.  My response was that I think of the seen in the movie, War Room where Tony has come home from business and Elizabeth knows he has been tempted on the business trip but she covers him with grace. Tony is suspicious of her being so nice and switches the dinner plates. I told them I wondered how many times Jim has switched the breakfast plates when I have not been looking in the last couple of weeks.

My Encouragement To You

Heart

 Are you like I was not a morning person. You dread hearing that alarm clock go off in the mornings? Maybe your family has to plan a combat strategy to get you up out of bed. Are you looking for contentment, peace that surpasses all understanding and want to seek the purpose and plan God has for you?

Let me encourage you to start today. You can start by reading Ephesians 6 and learning how to put on your armor every day and step out in faith to fulfill your purpose. Next, make a Divine Appointment to meet with your FATHER every day. Turn off the media, turn on some praise and worship music, open your Bible, open the eyes of your heart and listen to the words God whispers to you. As you begin doing this you will find as time goes on that you are not going to want to miss that Divine Appointment. You are going to be like  a little kid on Christmas morning anticipating running into the family room to see what is waiting for you.

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” Therefore I urge you brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God-this is your true and proper worship. Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is-his good, pleasing perfect will.”

Romans 12:1-2

God is good! All the time!

Have a blessed day!

 

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