My Journey Continues

 

 Challenges Ahead

You have searched me, LORD

and you know me.

You know when I sit and when I rise,

you perceive my thoughts from afar.

You discern my going out and my lying down,

you are familiar with all my ways. Psalm 139: 1-3

September, 2014 I journeyed with my Potter’s Clay Small Group  in the Bible Study, Stronger by Angela Thomas.  I don’t believe in coincidence but I believe things unfold by God’s design. As this study began, I was in a difficult season of my life. And, as I opened this study, it was what I needed for this particular season.

Stronger

On the days ahead of this journey of the study, Stronger I not only continued to pray but I had never-ending conversations with God. In this midst of this journey, I attempted to continue writing and sharing what God would place on my heart. I must admit writing did not come easy at times. After all, how could I encourage others while being stuck in the mud. Not only did I pray and have these long conversations with God, I also went back and re-read some of my own writings. It is very convicting when you read the words you have shared to encourage others on their journey.  The saying; ‘physician heal thyself” really hit me in between the eyes.

stuck in the mud

It seemed I was stuck in the mud and I could not get out. Just as a car’s wheel spins when stuck in the mud, my wheels were spinning but I was not getting anywhere. Frustrated. Overwhelmed. These are the words that describe where I was at as I began this new study, Stronger.

Morning Coffee

On the very first day of this study, God made me very aware that I was carrying things that I should be surrendering to him.  My grip was tight on the wheel and I was reluctant to let go and let God have full control.  Yet,  on day one of this study, Angela had this prayer.:

God, I want to know you more. I want to learn and grow and understand Your 

powerful words. In so many ways, I desperately  need to become stronger., so teach

me about who You are and the strength You give. Bring your light into my dark places.

For these next pages help me focus on You. Just you LORD. Amen (Stronger page 9)

Wow! This prayer spoke expressed exactly what was on my heart. At that moment and other moments throughout this journey, I got on my knees and surrendered ALL at the feet of Jesus.

giving up

Healing did not take place right at that moment. Instead, the healing was a process. It was one day at time and one prayer at a time. As the days progressed in this study, my eyes began to open more as well as my heart and ears were opening up to hear God’s voice.

As I continued my walk with Stronger, I was on iTunes late one evening. In the midst of finishing up my downloads, the song, Baptism by Kenny Chesney/Randy Travis popped up as a suggested song that I may like. I clicked the play button. It was at that moment where I began to feel  the Holy Spirit nudge me. Tears filled my eyes. I could not wait until morning to share this find and experience with Jim.

Since that night, Jim and I both have about worn this song out. The more I listened to the song, the more God spoke to my heart. The Holy Spirit nudged me even more.  I knew I needed to remove the old sack cloth and put on the new cloth of Christ that God had planned for me.

I have shared in my article, Go how God led me to a place of healing.  In another article, It’s On!, I share the results of being obedient and following God’s leading to a place where I could heal.  As I sit here writing, I have my new book, Stronger by Angela Thomas opened to day one.

Beginnings End

You see, I did this study in the Fall, 2014 with my Potter’s Clay small group. And, now the Wednesday night Bible Study group has chosen to take this journey. Yes, I find myself taking this journey of Stronger one more time.  Tears are in my eyes as I read the introduction to this study. It is in reading this introduction, I see where I have been and where I am now. I see God’s hand in everything that I have gone through over the last year. I now see how and where he has made me stronger.

Oh! The joy that fills my soul! It is no coincidence that God has brought me to full circle. It is not a coincidence that I am doing this study for a second time. It is all in God’s divine intervention of my life. My journey continues.…and I can’t wait to see where God is going to take me!

my heart will ever sing

He has made everything beautiful in its time. 

Ecclesiastes 3:11

Bible with heart

This post is dedicated to two very special loving group of ladies, Potter’s Clay and my Wednesday night Bible Study. So glad God has blessed me with these wonderful ladies on my faith journey.

“It’s On!”

running

The phrase “it’s on”  was a phrase our son, Drew used quite frequently while in high school.  It was  part of his getting mentally prepared for a race.  On race day, he would take his place on the start line and as the start gun would sound off Drew would say; “it’s on!”  By saying this phrase, Drew was proclaiming that he was ready to run his race and to run it to the best of his ability.

starting line

In recent weeks, the phrase, “it’s on”has been playing through my mind.   If you are familiar with my story, you will know that of recent years there have been challenges.  I share in my post, “GO” how God responded to me as I cried out in the midst of those challenges and surrendered all at His feet. As a result, God placed a new  path for me to take on my journey to be with Him one day.

Changes

Rewind to early Fall, 2014. At my former church home, I was asked to lead Sunday School one morning. I cannot remember the name of the book the class was studying and discussing but I remember on this particular morning the variations of church doctrine was being discussed.  As I was preparing the night before and as I began to lead the class in discussion that Sunday morning, a voice within told me to be careful how I choose my words and thoughts on baptism.  You see, I was in a Methodist church/Sunday School where infant baptism takes place at the parents choosing. Along with that, Methodist accept baptisms from other denominations.

Wrestling With God

It was on this particular weekend where God started really working on me. He was already telling me to “go” to not only a different church but a different denomination. Just as Jacob wrestled with God ( Genesis 32:22-32) I was in a wrestling match with God. In the midst of God telling me what I needed to do be healed, he was also telling me I would be baptized by immersion. Again, I could relate to how Moses felt and the many others after him felt when God gave instruction and expected those instructions to be followed.  It was through this back and forth battle where I began to evaluate my own personal walk with Christ. I even went back and re-read some of my own writings.  Conviction was coming on strong and hard on my heart and life.

My way

Asking God to Lead and Guide

Sunday morning approached for me to teach the lesson. Before going I said a prayer asking God to lead me and guide my leadership and words. Needless to say, the lesson fell into place that morning. When baptism came up we were led into discussion more about the significance of the baptism and acknowledging the different ways people are baptized.  In essence, the lesson became less about church doctrine but more about the relationship with Christ when we are baptized into the Christian faith.  I look back on that Sunday morning and I see how God intervened on that lesson and how he spoke to me even louder as I prepared and taught the lesson.

fast forward

Fast Forward

It is six months later.  Jim and I both have obeyed and followed this new path that God put before us. As scary as it is was for Jim and me to step out on faith and make the change,  I can honestly say that we both have been blessed beyond measure. We can look back and see God’s hand in all that has happened to lead us to where we are today.

Three  weeks ago, as worship was closing in song and our pastor had given the altar call, Jim and I stood up to sing. We both looked at each other but the other did not say a word. It was at that moment I wanted to run down to that altar and tell our pastor that “it was on!”. Yet, I didn’t because I had told Jim that when it came to joining this new family I wanted it to be a decision we made together. I was waiting for his lead. As the song continued, I so prayed that Jim would take the lead and go down. Yet, it didn’t happen. My thoughts were; ” God, I know you are nudging me but I know it is in your time when you will have Jim’s heart ready to make the move. Help me to be patient. God, just know my running shoes are on and I am ready to run to your arms and be made new.”

water ripple

However, as worship ended and Jim and I gathered our belongings, Jim looked at me and told me he had to speak with Pastor Dan before we left church.  My response was; “okay” thinking he wanted to tell Pastor Dan he enjoyed the service or had a particular question for him. Yet, the Holy Spirit was speaking even louder within me. As Jim approached our Pastor, my heart pounded louder and louder.  Jim shook hands with Pastor Dan and as he did this he said; “April and I are ready to make the next step to become a part of this church family.”

Of course, baptism came into the picture. Jim and I had been baptized as infants. We both had accepted Christ into our lives during our childhood. Our families did a beautiful job bringing us up in the Christian faith. Yet, Jim and I both felt we needed to rededicate our lives to Christ and be immersed.  When told that we would need to be immersed we did not give it a second thought.  As far as we were concerned “it was on!”.

 In previous days, Jim and I had searched the scriptures, discussed and prayed about being baptized by immersion even though we were baptized as infants. It was in our searching and discussion where we came across Acts 19:1-5.

Acts 19:1-5New International Version (NIV)

Paul in Ephesus

19 While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus. There he found some disciples and asked them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when[a] you believed?”

They answered, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.”

So Paul asked, “Then what baptism did you receive?”

“John’s baptism,” they replied.

Paul said, “John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus.” On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.

(Bible Gateway)

In this scripture Paul is on his third missionary trip. He encounters these men who were baptized by John the Baptizer. These men had repented of their sins but did not understand the significance of Christ’s death and resurrection or how the Holy Spirit worked in their lives. After talking with Paul on the significance of Christ’s death, resurrection and the Holy Spirit, Paul baptized them once again and the Holy Spirit came upon them. From there we read that they spoke in tongues and prophesied.

eye of love

This scripture opened up our eyes and hearts. We both have believed in the risen Savior for most of our lives.  Jim and I have known, felt and experience the Holy Spirit working in our lives many times. After all, it was the Holy Spirit nudging us to bring us to this pivotal point in our lives. Yet, Jim and I both had a yearning  for emotional and spiritual healing. We knew at that moment we had to put our running shoes on and tell God; “it’s on!”.

Cross at Lake Junaluska, NC

Easter Sunday

Easter Sunday/April 5, 2015 could not come soon enough for us. I found it difficult to sleep on Saturday night. The sleeplessness were not from nerves but from excitement. It was the same kind of excitement/anticipation that I would have on Christmas Eve waiting for Santa to come and bring our gifts. I knew Sunday morning I was going to receive the most precious gift I could ever be given in this earthly world. The gift was new life.

baptism water

Not only was I excited about Sunday coming but I reflected back on where I was a year ago.  In this reflecting back, I saw God’s hand in every situation that brought me to this moment.  I will never forget the very first Sunday when I entered the place where God told me to go. As I sat down in the back pew and began to worship, I felt like  dead skin  was falling off of me.   In my obedience to God, paying attention to the nudges from the Holy Spirit and surrendering all at the feet of Jesus, healing is taking place.

“Down with the Old……Up with the New”

As soon as Jesus was baptized he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, "This is my Son, whom I love with him I am pleased."  Matthew 3:16-17

As soon as Jesus was baptized he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love with him I am pleased.”
Matthew 3:16-17

Sunday morning arrived and just as Drew would gather his things in preparation to go run his race. Jim and I gathered up our things in preparation for what would happen within the next couple of hours. We were ready to take than next step of faith and enter the race God has called us to.

Our Baptism Easter Sunday April 5, 2015

Our Baptism
Easter Sunday
April 5, 2015

 As Jim and I stood in our white robes, Pastor Dan asked who would want to go first. Without hesitation, this girl who for years said she would never be immersed said she wanted to go first.  I was ready to get on that start line and begin a new race.

April baptism one

As I sit here and write this post of testimony, my heart and eyes are filling up with tears.  Words cannot express the feeling of me  going down and the water rushing over me  and then coming back up. I can still feel that water rush over me. Since I came up, I feel this warmth around me twenty-four/seven. It is an unexplainable warmth but I know it is the Holy Spirit wrapping around me in all that I do.  There is no more fear instead my running shoes are on and I am ready to run a new race for Christ…….‘it’s on!”. 

Take a moment to not only watch this video but carefully listen to the words:

Randy Travis and Kenny Chesney describe how I felt with the lyrics; “I felt like a newborn baby cradled up in the arms of the Lord”.  In days ahead, I know that there will be storms to weather and challenges to face but it is okay because I know my loving God has his arms wrapped around me and his SON lives in my heart.

Imprinting

Originally posted on Thoughts From The Porch:

imprintin bible

Several years ago I worked in a Christian Bookstore.  When customers would come in and purchase bibles for themselves or for other people, it was customary to ask if they would like to have the bible imprinted. Imprinting meant using material to press down on the leather that would place the name on the bible for a lifetime.

old bible

In life we are constantly imprinting whether we realize it or not. How? We imprint by the words we speak, how we react in certain situations and how we carry ourselves on a daily basis. Through our imprinting, we show our true  appearance. This appearance is what  God sees ALL the time, our heart.

In the video above, a four-letter word flies out of the little boy’s mouth and the dad realizes he has made an impression on his son. The father’s eyes are opened to how much his son is watching…

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It’s Gonna Be Alright

Originally posted on Thoughts From The Porch:


“He is not here; he has risen just as he said.” Matthew 18:6

 

 

 

The above picture is one I took early morning while at sea on a cruise. It is a miracle that I got these shots because I am not usually an early riser. Yet, while on this trip there was this urgency of wanting to get up and see the sun rise over the ocean at least one morning. As Jim and I sat out on the deck with our coffee talking, I saw the sun begin to rise and I insisted that we cease our conversation for a few minutes. I wanted to soak up the Master bringing in a brand new day. God’s creation was waking up.  It was not only beautiful but it was a renewal of the heart and a reminder of how God’s Son gives light into the soul.  It…

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Play It Through

Originally posted on Thoughts From The Porch:

This picture popped up on my Facebook news feed the other day.  Immediately, as I laughed, I recall the many times in high school band when a piece of music was put in front of the group to site read. I never will forget the moans and groans when the piece was first handed out. Before playing the piece, we were given time to look it over and our director would sometimes point out potential trouble spots. Then, the time came to play the piece for the first time. Oh, it wasn’t a beautiful piece the first time played. Over time and multiple practice sessions, however, the piece would begin to sound more like what the composer meant for it to sound. Some of those pieces that were thrown down to site read eventually became the best played and favorite pieces of the band.

In life, there are times when…

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We Don’t Talk Anymore

April:

As we approach Easter the celebration of the risen Lord whom came so that we can have new life through Him, let us begin new by turning off our phones and talking to one another.

Originally posted on Thoughts From The Porch:

Does the above picture look too familiar? How many of us are guilty of being out with family and/or friends and instead of visiting with them, we are busy with our phone? To me, I feel as though the art of conversation is becoming more and more obsolete as Social Media continues to grow. Now, don’t get me wrong, I do see the advantages of Social Medial. Social Media has connected and re-connected us with family and friends. It is a tool for people like me to share thoughts of encouragement and share the story of Christ. But, there comes a time when enough is enough.

When you look at days gone by, there is the remembrance of siblings fighting over the phone in the evening, conversations at the dinner  table and/or in the family room. And, how many of us grew up in families where there were evenings…

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No One Wants To Be Locked Out

Originally posted on Thoughts From The Porch:

 

 While out running errands, Jim calls me up only to tell me he has locked his keys in his truck. He wanted me to come to the rescue with the spare key that was supposedly on my key ring. Then, as the conversation progressed, it was brought to our realization that the spare key was the key locked in the truck! I had given Jim my copy of the truck key when his key broke one evening. Needless to say, a locksmith had to be called to get Jim back into his truck.

Ironically this incident happened the day before we begin lent which will lead us into celebrating  our risen Saviour. In the beginning when God created the world, he created paradise where he allowed Adam and Eve to live. But, Adam and Eve had boundaries which, in the end, were tempted by the serpent. They crossed those boundaries given…

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