The Peace That Surpasses All Understanding

Thoughts From The Porch

April’s Testimony on God’s Peace
(February 29, 2016)

Bible with heart

It is Day Five of Week Four of Priscilla Shirer’s Bible Study, Armor of God. On this particular day there is a place to reflect and write about someone who has a peace-filled life. The assignment is to reflect on their qualities, how do they display this peace and how you have seen this peace protect the person from the enemy.

cup of tea

Yet, as usual, I have my own drumbeat I would like to reflect out of this week’s lessons and lesson on peace. As I sit here typing, early Spring breezes are flowing through my screen door, birds are singing, favorite tunes are playing softly in the background, and, as usual, Smokey is sitting at my feet quietly looking up at me with his dark brown eyes. This is one afternoon I don’t think it could be any more peaceful. I definitely…

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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?

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” 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 Corners Don’t Have To Be Perfect

Thoughts From The Porch

christmas wrapping tutorial 059 “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.” Isaiah 53:5

Dawn Gibson is a blog writer that have followed from the time I began to write. One of the first blogs I read of her’s was in 2010 called Gift Wrap Envy. In this post she shares how the time has come to wrap her Christmasgifts but does not look forward to the task.  Apparently, gift wrapping is not her specialty and worries that the packages won’t be perfect. She is like me in wanting that perfect Norman Rockwell Christmas! Yet, in the end of her post, she resolves that she will wrap her gifts to the best of her abilities and will get nothing but pure joy out watching the expressions of those who will unwrap the gifts…

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First Things First

Thoughts From The Porch

There is a picture of a tear that has been going around on Facebook that says; “ever have a memory to roll down your cheek?” I recently had one of those moments. For me, it was hearing the song,  Don’t Blink and not some Christmas song that caused this gal’s dam to break.

tear

As I listened to Kenny sing about how life goes by so fast, I reminisced on Christmases past. As I reminisced, I looked about the family room and other rooms of little reminders of not only Christmases past but of those who have had a special influence and place in my life and heart.

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 In the picture there are four items that represent Christmases  past and the meaning for Christmas for me. The first item is the train under the Christmas tree. Growing up it was  a tradition  for Dad to set up the train under the Christmas…

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Things To Remember

Thoughts From The Porch


christmas listIt is that time of year again where we have multiple lists that we are checking off. These lists include added items to the usual grocery list, baking list, gift list, party list and the lists go on. You cannot imagine having yet another list. Yet, I am going to give you a list to remember this Christmas Season.

Things To Remember:

Stop.

We all have to just sit down and rest at some point and time.

Take a deep breath.

It is in those deep breaths we can relax and inhale the joy and love of God into our souls.

Look at all that is around you.

Give thanks to God for the daily gifts that surround you.

Remember to keep it simple in the gift giving. 

The most cherished gifts are not the most expensive but the ones where thought and love were put into them.

After all…

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