One

April:

Originally written and posted August, 2014

Originally posted on Thoughts From The Porch:

I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow.

So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything but

only God, who makes things grow. The man who plants and the

man who waters have one purpose, and each will be rewarded 

according to his own labor. For we are God’s fellow workers;

you are God’s field, God’s building.

1 Corinthians 3:6-9

The Power of One

ONE is a powerful number. I can think of many things that started with one.  One  person stepped out in faith.   One person responding to a yearning in their heart.  One person wanting to make a dream come true.  One person listening to the voice of God. Yet, at  the end of the day,  the outcome was more than one. 

Janine Stang

This morning as I was watching the Today Show they did an interview with Janine Stange. As of this evening, she will have…

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Standing On The Promises

Young woman reading bible

My Lesson in Discernment:

In the Wednesday night bible study that I attend, we are in the midst of a Kelly Minter study, What Love Is…the Letters of 1,2,3 John.  This study is a true eye opener of how important it is for us to stay in the WORD and truly KNOW our Lord and Savior. In days such as we live in, there is much deception going on.  As Christians, we need to  be even more in tuned to God’s voice and his principles.

One of the lessons in this week’s study is on testing the spirits, In other words, know how to discern what is ordained by God versus adding and/or taking away from the true word of God. Also, there are those who are twisting scripture to suit the moment they are in and/or to justify their actions.

As I continued with this lesson, God revealed to me a lesson I learned the Spring of my Freshman year in college. There was this  handsome young man whom I began to admire and date. He was very much a gentleman. His family was very loving and kind. Just being with him, one would think I had met my true prince charming. Yet, there was a stumbling block. He was of the Mormon faith.

When my parents found out I was dating him, they thought he was a very nice guy. Yet, when they found out he was Mormon, great concern arose. Of course I was the typical college Freshman who knew it all and was not going to listen to what my parents had to say on the issue. Not only my parents were concerned but dear friends were concerned as well. You see, though I had claimed Christ as my Lord and Savior, God was about to open my eyes to real truths versus man-made truths.

During this time period, Mom and Dad allowed me to continue to date this young man. I even went to Temple with him a couple of times. A very different experience from any other I have ever had in any other denominational church.  The catch was if I went to his church he had to go to worship with me. In other words, though he was trying to influence me with his faith, I could also be an influence on him. Thus, this was my first lesson on the importance of why God says it is important for a couple to be evenly yoked.

Seeking God’s Truth

Challenges Ahead

As this dating relationship continued, I sought counsel.  There were days when I spent my afternoons talking with the campus chaplain. I spent many hours with my choral director whom was a very strong Christian and Christian mentor.  One day while in her office, Judye shot straight with me. Her words were; “April, you are a strong Christian young lady. God has wonderful things planned for you. He has a mate that he is grooming for you.”   She also stated; “God is using you right now. This is your opportunity to be His witness. I can tell this young man has been influenced by you.  Don’t give up but don’t give in. Take it one day at a time. Be true to yourself, be true to God.  Then, she quoted this scripture to me;

“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.

Proverbs 3:5-6

After that conversation with my choral director, I began to search the scriptures even more. I spent hours in the library educating myself on different belief systems. I prayed like I had never prayed before. There were walks I took by myself on campus just talking to God and asking for his direction.

Listening to God’s Voice

over hearing

The Spring semester came to a close. I would be leaving college to go to Lake Junaluska, NC to work on summer staff. Lake Junaluska is a Methodist Conference center in the Smoky Mountains. A place where I had attended many youth conferences and a place where my family vacationed from time to time.  The evening came when I told this young man I would be leaving and more less “enjoy your summer.”  Later that evening, I prayed. I poured my heart out to God. My prayer was something like this:  God, I know you have someone out there who will love me. He will exemplify Christian values. He will be strong in faith. He will love me unconditionally. And, most of all he walks in the truth of your Word. He stands on your promises.”   As I fell asleep that night, I had a dream. In this dream, I was in the lobby of my dorm sitting and somewhat distraught/confused. While sitting there, someone comes up and sits beside me. This person places his arms around me and says; “not to worry. I will take care of you.” It was the most peaceful moment and my heart was more at peace than it had been in a while.

How God Answered My Prayer

Cross at Lake Junaluska, NC

A few days later, I was at Lake Junaluska moving into my summer residence. Not long after my parents had left, this young man by the name of Jim came by my room. He introduced himself and asked if my roommate and I needed help with anything. We told him we were pretty settled in and on his way he went to help others who were moving in. After he left, I got butterflies in my stomach. I told myself to shake it off and move on. Yet, the next day as I was going through the buffet line at orientation, I saw Jim walk into the room to get in line. It was at that moment that voice that told me that he would take care of me was telling me; “there is your Godly man. He is the one you are to experience life with and walk with you on your faith journey.” “But, don’t push the relationship. Let me set the pace.” I obeyed that voice and I am glad I did.

I didn’t run across the room and begin to flirt with Jim. Instead, I simply continued on with what I was doing with my new-found girl friends. In time, the opportunity would come where Jim and I would officially meet outside of his brief hello at the door when I first moved into my room.

The Rest of the Story

Later in the evening, we were having staff orientation. In this orientation, we were playing a get acquainted game where when the music stopped you had to get back to back with someone. Once back to back to someone, you had to turn around and tell them something about yourself. Each time it was something like where you were from or if you could be any animal what would it be and the list goes on. Yet, the last round of the game the music stopped and I found myself back to back with Jim. The leaders told us to turn around but this time there was no question to be answered. Instead, we were told to look directly into the eyes of the person we were with and not to say a   word for two minutes.  The purpose of this was to bring a point home to us summer staffers. The point was we were to see inside the hearts of the people we would be serving over the summer just as Jesus  sees the hearts of others.   Needless to say, it was at that moment I knew that Jim was the guy  God had planned for me.

Reflection

reflecting back

Whew! Over the last couple of days, I have reflected on this chain of events. I see God’s hand in it all. As I reflect, I am thankful for the people who God had placed in my life to guide me and keep me on the right path. I am thankful that I was raised in a biblically based faith and home. I am thankful that my eyes were opened to the fact  that there are people out there who can make something sound so good and so right and yet be so wrong. I am thankful that God showed me how important it is to discern and ask him for guidance/wisdom.

He makes all things beautiful

I share this testimony because in today’s world there is so much out there. You can google just about anything on the web and get multiple answers pro and con of what you are looking for.  There are people out there that are twisting scripture to make their wrongs seem to be right.  However, when it comes to salvation and God there is only one place where the real truths can be found  of how to live. The place where we find real truth is in the bible. There is only one way to enter the Kingdom of God and it is through his SON who came and died for our sins. In the Gospel of John, Jesus clearly states; “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. ” John 14:6

 Each one of us are going to encounter false teachings. Since Jim and I have been married, we have been faced with such teachings.  Yet, as we journey together we know we must trust in the LORD.  We choose to not lean on our own understanding but to stand on the promises of God.

jeremiah 29

May you stand on the promises of God and lean NOT into your own understanding but trust God’s leading.  

Time to Stop and Enjoy the Snow

Snow Days 2015

Snow Days 2015

For the last two days, Facebook has been inundated with pictures such as the one taken of my back yard. We are in the midst of Winter Storm 2015.  As I posted this picture with a couple more on Facebook, I received comments such as “how beautiful!”  My thoughts were “right…..just wait and see what it will look like in a few days.”

Snow is beautiful when it first falls and covers the ground. Yet, as the hours and days go by, you don’t see the beauty of the snow, but it is gradually becomes a brown/black slush due to cars commuting, and snow removal equipment coming through every so often.

Yesterday, as I took some pictures of the snow for friends and family to see back home, I was reminded of our Father. I was reminded of how he sent His Son to die so that my sins would be cleansed as white as snow. Thus, the snow reminding me of Jesus’ cleansing blood.

“Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the LORD.

Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they

are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.”

Isaiah 1:18 

Regarding the black slush that is to come with the snow, it  reminds me of our faith journey. When we become Christians, we are not promised a Rose Parade. There are going to be times where we are going to experience some sort of slush in our lives. The difference in being a believer and a non-believer is that when we receive Christ into our hearts, we are in a community  of believers that will walk with us and pray for us. We also have Jesus who is with us on every step of the journey.

But is we walk in the light, as he is in the light we will have fellowship with one another,

and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.”

1 John 1:7

The quietness and stillness of the snow is a gentle reminder of God wanting to us to sit in his presence for a while. He is saying to us; be still.”  This is a wonderful time to reflect on how God has blessed us and to share what is on our hearts. It is a time to be quiet and listen to that small still voice.

 He says, “Be still and know that I am God;

Psalm 46:10

Up until yesterday, this Georgia peach has never really liked the snow. Yet, as I looked out my window and as I took pictures, I realized it was time to stop and enjoy the snow (from indoors that is).

 et

Good Night John Boy

Originally posted on Thoughts From The Porch:

The Waltons

The Waltons a television show of the past that Hallmark has brought back. Stories of a simpler time, reminders of what it meant to really live on faith and lean on God. The most memorable character outside the famous Baldwin sisters was John Boy. John Boy was the writer in the family who would sit in front of his bedroom window writing about his family as he watched them carry on with daily living. This family stood together in the test of trials and they celebrated the joys and triumphs of life.

God, the creator of  our great big world. As He created each living thing, He would smile and say “it is good.” He, too, writes from His window as He looks down at his family carrying on with their daily activities. Yet, the times aren’t simple as in the times of The Waltons.  People aren’t loving each other…

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Only If The Shoe Fits….

Originally posted on Thoughts From The Porch:

trying on shoes

When I was a little girl the biggest frustration my mom had been finding shoes that would properly fit my feet. I have a small foot and a very short heel thus making it hard to find shoes that would not slide on my foot as I walked.  My small foot and finding a shoe that fit when I was a teenager was even harder. We wanted to find a shoe that looked more age appropriate for me but the only thing that would really fit my foot was a shoe from the little girl’s department.

little girl trying on shoes

Over the years, I have learned more about how to shop for a shoe that would fit properly fit my foot. I will admit that there are some shoes that I get from the little boys’ department as well as the little girls’ department. As a matter of fact, I found the cutest pair…

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“The Best Part of Waking UP”

Morning Coffee

 We are all familiar with the Folgers commercials like the one above.  The commercial is emphasizing that there is no need to dread the day or think about the chores when we wake up.  They tell us that all we need to do when we wake up is to smell the wonderful aroma of coffee brewing. Then, grab that favorite mug and fill it up with Folgers coffee. In most of the commercials, we see it ending with someone sitting, smiling and simply enjoying that first cup of coffee.

Time Clock

As I write this, it is the beginning of a new work week. This morning before I could even put my feet to the floor my phone on my bedside table was already sounding off with text messages, Facebook messages and phone calls.  We all have had mornings such as this one. Furthermore, I know that each of us wake up every morning with a list of things to do for the day. Some days there seems like there is not even much time to absorb the aroma of coffee brewing much less enjoy it in our favorite mug and look out the window.

coffee brewing

In our home, if you smell the aroma of coffee brewing in the early AM, you can be assured that it is not me doing the brewing except if I prepped it the night before and have set it on automatic brew.  Jim is the one up early in the AM. He gets up earlier than he needs to each  morning to have his quiet time with God. He starts his day out sitting at the feet of Jesus before he does anything else. All the while, I am still in bed enjoying resting in the arms of Jesus.  A morning person I’m not.

Not a morning person

If by chance I do wake up early, I have been at fault of disrupting Jim with a list of things that need to be addressed for the day. I get anxious when he does not rapidly respond to my requesting help in getting some things done before time to walk out the door.

Give Me Jesus "In The Morning When I Rise...Give Me Jesus

Give Me Jesus
“In The Morning When I Rise…Give Me Jesus

Time with Jesus is  important.  Mary’s actions in the story of Mary and Martha (Luke 10:38-42) demonstrate to us of what is really important. Mary is enjoying visiting and listening to what Jesus has to say. All the while Martha is preparing the meal, making sure the table is set and calculating as to when to put the bread in the oven so it would be hot at meal time. After much frustration, Martha complains to Jesus. She tells Jesus to tell Mary to get up and do something!  I can picture the scene n my head. Martha complaining and Jesus just sitting there smiling back at her. I can hear him now telling Martha to take a chill pill.  He explains that there are things to be done but there is something even more important. The top priority is stopping and taking time to be in HIS presence. We need to allow ourselves to be filled with HIS spirit and hear HIS voice before we do anything else.

Preaching to the Choir

By now, you can say that I am preaching to the choir. This story brings true to conviction to my heart. Yes, I do have my quiet time with Jesus but sometimes it is not before I have taken care of other items on my daily list.  Some days I don’t even have coffee or eat breakfast before I get a few things done. Sad but true.

Mary at Jesus' feet

Why was it  important for Mary was to visit with Jesus. In Mary’s mind, she knew that once the visit was over, she had absorbed the words that Jesus spoke that she would carry in her heart forever. Whereas, the cooking, the cleaning and whatever else needed to be done would still be there.

I am working

All of us get caught up in the business of life to the point we forget to realize what is important.  Instead of waking up to the aroma of coffee and grabbing that favorite mug, we wake up with our feet hitting the ground to conquer whatever chore and/or the demands that the world has on us for the day.  When we do this, we are allowing the world take priority over our relationship with God.  Yet, at the end of our journey here, the world and all of its list will still be here and all that will matter for us is our relationship with God and his SON, Jesus.

Enjoy Morning Coffee

My challenge for you and myself is  to take time not to just wake up and smell the coffee but to wake up to the aroma of HIS sweet spirit. Before starting the day, grab that favorite mug and spend time with Jesus. The best part of waking up is not only Folgers in your cup but it is waking up to say “good morning, LORD!  Allow Him to fill your cup for the day so that you can tackle the chores of the world.

Are you walking with Jesus?

As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked; “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”Martha, Martha, “ the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Luke 10:38-42

Take a few minutes and listen to the video below.

Allow God to fill your cup.

kneeling at Jesus Feet

You Can Call Him Anytime

The Dragon's Tail

Jesus answered, I am the way and the truth; and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.  John 14:6-7

My husband,  Jim and I met while working on summer staff at Lake Junaluska, NC.  Jim was from Kentucky and I was from Georgia. When we began dating that summer we said it was for only the summer. I had previously been burned in a long distant relationship and Jim did not want to have anything to do with one. Yet, as the summer progressed, we realized that this relationship was going beyond summer.

Through The Years

Through The Years

Thirty-two years ago when we were dating there were no cell phones, did not even know the meaning of social media. The biggest concern at that time in the world of communication was that Ma’ Bell was selling out to ATT&T which none of us liked.  Yet, in order for our relationship to work, we knew we had to both give it our one hundred percent. Communication was the key to our relationship working out.

"Blessings"

Jim and I wrote letters to each other every week. I knew the exact day when to expect a letter in my mailbox and sometimes was surprised to get an extra one during the week. Jim and I had a time set on Saturday nights where he would call me and we would talk. We shared about our week, our struggles, our joys and what was ahead of us in our individual lives as well as a life as a couple. Every four weeks, Jim would drive down to see me for a weekend. There were also opportunities for me to travel up to see Jim in Kentucky.  Our success was determined on how we communicated with each other and kept Christ in the center of our relationship.

Young woman reading bible

This morning I am sitting here in my chair with my bible opened to John 14:6-7. Jesus is telling the disciples and us the way to His Father’s House. Once we accept Christ into our lives, we have to keep the lines of communication open.

How do we communicate and nurture that relationship with Christ?

Just as Jim and I had a designated time to talk to each other each week, we need to have a daily designated time to talk to God. This is our time to pour our hearts out to him. He wants to hear our joys, sorrows, our petitions, and simply what is on our hearts.

little girl talking on phone

When Jim called me on those Saturday nights, we took turns talking. Jim would sit and listen to what was on my heart and then I would listen to what he had on his heart. We sought each other’s hearts. Just as Jim and I took time to listen to each other and seek each other’s hearts,  we need to seek God’s heart. It is important for us to sit still and listen to his voice and hear what is on his heart.

He makes all things beautiful

 I mentioned earlier how Jim and I would write each other letters in between seeing one another. God has also written many letters and stories for us to read and learn about his kingdom and his will for our lives.  You can find these stories and letters in the best-selling book, The Bible.  For those new in the faith, I always recommend starting in the Gospel of John. John is the greatest love story you will ever read. As you read the scriptures, be in tuned to God’s voice. What is he wanting to tell you from the readings and/or where is he leading you from the readings?

10622860_10152622922226740_1934228684971941411_n

Yes, God created you. He knows everything about you. Yet, he longs to have a relationship with you. Unlike Jim and I having a long distance relationship, your relationship with God through his Son, Jesus is right there where you are sitting or standing at this moment. You don’t have to schedule a phone call or wait for the postman to bring you a letter of invitation.  All you have to do is ask Christ into your heart and begin a beautiful relationship with Him. Then, each day sit down and have a chat with Him.  You can call Him anytime!

 

God’s Protection Plan….(continuation of living on a prayer)

April:

Part 3 of 3

Originally posted on Thoughts From The Porch:

As I sit having coffee and dessert in a quaint Chicago café, my son begins to tell me a story. The story unfolds and as it unfolds, I look at Drew’s dad, Jim and I look at Drew asking them if they are messing with my mind. Yet, Drew looks at me dead on in the eye and says; “mom hang with me, this is real stuff.”  Yet, it sounded like a scene from a Magnum PI television show or a James Bond movie.

After hearing what Drew went through only a couple of weeks before, I was speechless, dumb founded and yes that very moment was surreal.  I remember looking at Drew and asking him; “this really happened?”  The proof was in the pudding when he reached for his wallet and pulled out the bullet he found from the scene of the incident. At that point…

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Chili Dogs and Bullets. Just a Day at the Office.

April:

Part 2of 3

Originally posted on Thoughts From The Porch:

Below is a guest post written by my son Drew about an experience he had a couple of years ago.

The 9mm bullet from that day I keep at my desk

It was part of my weekly routine.

For just under two years, I had worked at Hinda Incentives, whose office was tucked into a neighborhood on the south side of Chicago. Sure, weird things happened there from time to time. There were a couple of bullet holes in the side of the building. Younger kids often tried to get me to buy them beer while I walked to the train. Occasionally there was a guy high as a kite. Other than that, it really didn’t feel that dangerous during the day. All that “weird stuff” happened at night, well beyond closing time.

Right?

Around once a week I would walk to a Nicky’s, a hot dog stand around the…

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Living on a Prayer

April:

Part 1 of 3

Originally posted on Thoughts From The Porch:

“God, I ask that you place your angels of protection around Drew and Megan throughout the night tonight and throughout the day tomorrow. Walk with them and keep your angels of protection around them in their cars, parking lots, parking garages, the streets, street corners, the subway and subway stations, their buildings where they work, and  parking lots and garages. No matter where they go please surround them and feather them with your mighty protection from ALL harm and evil and ALL harm and evil people.”

This is part of my nightly bedtime prayer. As you know, I am a BIG believer in prayer. All through my growing up and now in my adult life, I have experienced prayers answered. Yes, there have been times when I have wondered if God was really on the job. Yet, events happen or someone shares an experience with me and I immediately see…

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