To Walk Where Jesus Walked

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As You therefore, have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving. Colossians 2:6

Over the years I have had family and friends who have taken trips to the Holy Land. I always marvel at their pictures and wonder what it would be like to walk where Jesus walked. I recall seeing a video on Facebook of gospel singer,  Karen Peck standing at the tomb of Lazarus and singing her popular gospel song, Four Days Late. I can only imagine what it would have been like actually being there in person to experience that moment.

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As we walk through the Season of Lent, I think about the places Jesus visited and taught as he began to make His journey to the cross. I think of  the streets where He walked and place my feet in the very spot He placed His footsteps as He healed and told people  they have a God who loves them.  Then to put my feet on the path He  took to  Golgotha. I can only imagine what one experiences as they look at the hill where our Savior took on the sin of mankind so that man can have eternal life.

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Going to the Holy Land is on my bucket list. I understand that once you have experienced being where Jesus walked that you never read the Bible the same way again. I don’t know if I this bucket list item will ever be marked off and that is okay.

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You see, I may not get to the Holy Land to walk where Jesus walked but because I have invited Him into my heart and life. I get to walk with Him every day.  This daily walk starts when I rise up in the morning and I invite Him into my day. He walks beside me in all that I do. He not only walks with me but He talks with me in my quiet time and through study with others and daily life experiences.

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Though I may not make the journey to the Holy Land, I know without a doubt that I am on a journey that is far  greater. It is the journey to the place where it won’t be where Jesus walked. But the journey will take me to the place where I will stand in His mighty presence and stand right before Him. I won’t walk where He walked but I will be on the streets of gold where He is walking and reigns forever. Oh, how my heart leaps for joy!

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Abundant Life

 

Therefore Jesus said again,, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal kill and destroy; I have come that they have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10)

In this verse from John 10:10 the following sentence has been quoted many times. I have come to that they have life, and have it to the full.” There are translations that word this sentence as to having abundant life. I have heard comedians such as Mark Lowry use this sentence in his routines about having abundant life. There are so many interpretations and thoughts regarding what Jesus meant in having abundant life.

Abundant life. As the year 2017 nears to a close, I honestly say my husband, Jim and I have experienced abundant life. It is because of the abundant life I have experienced this year that I have gained more understanding of Jesus’ teaching in this passage.  This is definitely one year for the books.

Rewind December, 2016

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

Before 2016 ended I found myself sitting in a hospital room with the rest of my family absorbing all the time we could with my mom. We said good-bye to my mom on December 27th. She had fought a long and hard battle with cancer. On New Year’s Eve afternoon, the remainder of the family that had been at Mom and Dad’s departed. Thus, leaving my dad and I alone in a very quiet house. It was as though time stood still and I wondered to myself how I would take the next step and how would time move on without my mom by my dad’s side.

Memorial Day 2017

The calendar did flip over to 2017 and little by little I learned to take new steps and learn a new normal without having my mom around.  Memorial Day approached and as tradition has it for Jim and me we would attend the Gaither Family Fest in Gatlinburg for the weekend.  This would be a weekend of Jim’s family and friends from Louisville and my family would meet up for a time of music, spiritual renewal and fellowship. It was a wonderful weekend and a time for healing for my family.

When Jim and I attend these weekends we usually prolong our stay in Gatlinburg for another day or so just to avoid the holiday traffic. Yet, Jim’s schedule would not allow for us to prolong our trip this year. Thus, we departed for home Memorial Day morning along with the many other travelers.

Jim and I usually take back roads from Gatlinburg to  the interstate that would lead us to home in Kentucky. However, as we approached the interstate there was no movement. It was one big parking lot. At this moment, Jim decided this year we would try an alternate route. In the words of a James Taylor song, “Home by Another Way”, we would go home another way.

There was a parkway that Jim and I needed to watch exit signs to take on this new route home. However, we did not realize that the name of the parkway had changed and somehow or the other we missed the exit.  Jim pulled over and googled  how to resolve this mistake without us backtracking and losing time.

We ended up on a two lane road that took us through some  beautiful Kentucky territory that really had Jim and me captivated.  We passed a lake with a beautiful camping area and were curious as to the name of the lake. I began to google our location to find out specifics of the area. Just as I looked down at my phone Jim shouts to me, “hold on!”. Coming straight at us is a camper that had become disengaged from the truck that was pulling it. The camper was in our lane. From that moment all I remember is seeing a grove  of trees that our car was heading for and nothing but white rushing passed the driver’s side.

The car finally came to a stop and I looked over to the driver’s side anticipating seeing that half of the car gone as well as Jim. Thankfully, the car was in tact and Jim still had a tight grip on the steering wheel. He looked over at me and said, “we are blessed because we were almost killed.” As he spoke those words, I looked in my side mirror and saw the camper go over the car that was behind us. My reply to Jim was “and we have just witnessed an accident and I don’t know if there are going to be survivors.” Once again, Jim looked over at me and said, “stay here because you know what I have to do.”

Jim along with other motorist who had witnessed the accident sprang into action. After busting the back window out Jim and other volunteers began checking the victims. There were two small children with their grandparents. The grandmother and three-year-old were responsive and did not seem to have many injuries but the grandfather/driver and the baby behind him were not responsive.  Jim felt for a pulse on the driver and he said it was very faint for only a minute and then the driver was gone. Jim said all he could do was pray over the victim and for the family.

Once the status of the driver was established they began pulling the other victims out of the car. As Jim lifted the baby out and handed to a nurse who had witnessed the accident, he knew the baby was most likely brain-dead. The baby was life flighted to a Children’s Hospital and passed away a few days later. The grandmother and three-year-old were taken to the local hospital and were treated and released.

As you can imagine this was a horrible event for us. One of the most heartbreaking moments of the ordeal was watching the emergency personnel telling the lady that her husband did not survive the crash. I can still hear her screams in my head as I go back to that day. The other heartbreaking moment for Jim and me was when learned that they were not believers. Their family had tried to witness to them about Christ.  I believe that afternoon and evening Jim and I prayed more from the gut than we ever prayed in our lives as individuals and as a couple.

Mr. Snapping Turtle

Mid-summer Jim and I arrived back into our neighborhood after Jim had worked a weekend shift at the hospital.  As we came around the curve approaching our home, there was this huge turtle in the middle of the road. I told Jim we needed to move Mr. Turtle so that he would not get hurt or worse crushed by another car.

Again, Jim to the rescue.  At first we thought it was just a regular old turtle but soon learned by seeing his tail that he was snapping turtle.  Jim tried to think of how to approach this turtle to get him moved out of the street. He thought maybe he could slowly approach the turtle from behind but soon learned that was not an option.

Jim walked up to the house to get a shovel as I stood guard by the turtle so that no one would hit him or a child dare try to approach him. Jim was able to scoop Mr. Turtle up with his shovel and place him in a nearby ravine where the turtle would be safe and people would be safe from the turtle.

Four Day Weekend Turns to Thirteen Day Stay

This past October we celebrated our granddaughter’s first birthday.  Campbell was so precious in her birthday dress.  We all cheered her on as she attempted to stand up by herself and as she tried to figure out what to do with her birthday smash cake. It was a fun celebration.

Monday arrived and it was time to depart from my Dad’s home and head for Kentucky.  As part of our routine, Jim and I always stop at the QucikTrip just before getting on the interstate. We made our stop. I got my sweet tea.  As Jim was paying for the gas, my phone rings. It is my dad.

My dad is calling to ask  about  where we were as far as  location on our trip. I found this odd since we had left him only forty minutes earlier.  He began to explain that he was having some chest pain and was not feeling very well. The blessing was he was on Chaplain duty at the hospital and one of the nurses he knew was wheeling him over to the emergency room.  Dad began to tell me not to worry if I could not turn around and come back.  Jim gets in the car and I give him the details and instead of turning right to get on the interstate we take a left and head back into to town. Our four-day weekend turned into a thirteen day stay.

Dad ended up having open-heart surgery. It was so hard to for me to see him go through this without my mom by his side. Mom was always the one who could calm any of us down in a tense situation. She always knew the right words and knew just what to do at any moment. Yet, she was not there. My brother was on a trip with his family. Thus, it was up to me with Jim by my side walking through this procedure with my dad.

Again, a stressful moment but as we walked through this journey I could hear the words of my mom, “we will get through this.”  And, we did get through it and we were not alone.  God blessed us with wonderful doctors, hospital staff but most importantly loving/praying friends that over the years have become like family to us. It was all of these people along side God doing His work that we got through Dad’s surgery.

Life Abundantly

I have mentioned a few life events that have occurred to the Hawkins’ this year. In the midst of these events taking place and coping, every day life that we all deal with took place as well.  Needless to say, life happened in its abundant form for us this year.

Jesus said, I have come that they may have life, and have it full.”  What have I learned from this verse in John 10:10? I have a saying, “God didn’t promise us perfect days but He promises us A perfect day.” Each one of these experiences that Jim and I went through this year the thief (Satan) could have had a field day if we had let him. Yet, as a couple and as individuals we chose to keep our eyes on the cross.

In each situation, we sought God’s blessings. As hard as it was losing Mom, we know she is in a better place and we have the hope that we will see her again because we believe in Jesus Christ. The blessing from the Memorial Day wreck  was seeing a group of strangers pull together to help a family in crisis.  We had the opportunity  to pray with the family at the hospital and we continue to pray for the survivors each day and that they will become a believer.

Is there a blessing with the snapping turtle? Yes. The blessing was we found the turtle before a child found it and had their finger bitten off. It also gave us something to laugh about after going through some stressful days. Regarding my dad’s surgery, we experienced God’s love, grace and felt the prayers of praying friends and family.

Being given life abundantly doesn’t mean everything goes our way, we have everything we want, nor we are free from trials.  Life abundantly through Christ means experiencing His power and seeing His hand at work not only in the trials but in the everyday living of life. It means taking God by the hand and trusting Him as we walk this journey on planet earth. Through our trusting God, having Christ in our hearts, and involved in all we do we experience Him in abundance and we live the abundant life He has given us.

Yes, this has been a year for the books for the Hawkins. We are ready to put the year behind us. Yet, before we move forward to 2018, we will stop and count our blessings even from the storms we encountered this year. We will give thanks to God for bringing us this far and will take Him by the hand and follow His leading in 2018.

Today, I challenge you to stop and reflect on your 2017. Seek the blessings that were in the midst of the trials you may have experienced this year. Take God by the hand and tell Him that you trust Him and will follow His leading in 2018.

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If you have not asked Christ to come into your life, right now at this moment I invite you to accept Him into your life.  All you have to do is say, “here I am, Lord.” “I give you my heart and I want you to come into my heart.” Pray the prayer below and then begin to live a life of abundance that will ultimately be filled with many blessings.

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Have a blessed Christmas Season and a blessed 2018!

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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

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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

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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!

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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)

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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. 

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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.

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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

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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.

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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!

 

The Peace That Surpasses All Understanding

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.

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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 hear my Father’s voice in all that is going on around me. Yes, in the midst of it being Monday and a ‘Leap Day’, Jesus is ever present and accounted for in this very room I sit.

Smokey Monm's Day

As I reflect over this week’s lessons on ‘peace’, I have to go back a little further than just this week. Two years ago I was sitting in this very room searching for that peace only God can give. I knew it existed. I had experienced it before. Yet, my humanness took over. It was there and then where the only thing I felt was the chaos of the world swirling into warp speed. Gasping for air, I was crying out to God seeking his guidance and his peace. The more the world spun the more I searched scriptures, sought wisdom, sought help and clung to the cloak of my Lord and Savior.
Life for me at that moment was going through the motions, being emotional and just trying to get through one day at a time. Yet, somewhere in the midst of the chaos, I felt a tug on my heart. It was the Holy Spirit telling me there was hope.

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It was a slow process but I began to sit and really listen to what the Holy Spirit was saying to me. I knew I had to be like Mary and simply sit down at the feet of Jesus and listen to His small still voice. In the midst of these meetings, He began to heal me and lead me to healing waters.

water ripple

It has been in these healing waters where I have experienced an inner peace that I cannot explain. I have been a believer most of my life. Yet, there was that little piece of humanness that interfered with that peace only God can give. And, the enemy knew it and used it as a weapon against me.
This afternoon, I sit here where I sat two years ago spinning in a world of chaos. I am sitting here with a smile on my face, a smile in my heart and so thankful for so many things and for the many ways God has used these last couple years to mold me. It is like a slow fade in a movie scene.

slow fade

As I reflect, I see where God was at work even on what I thought was the hardest of days. He had a plan and just like the potter spinning the pottery on the wheel, he took me for a spin. Then, little by little he began to chisel away the hurt, the questions, the frustrations and the world I was caught up in.

potter's clay picture two.

In this reflection, I see how God has taught me every step of the way and he is still teaching me what it means to walk in His peace, live in His peace and to seek Him in all that I do. I have learned to smile more, be thankful for the life God has given me. Yes, I have even become thankful for the obstacles, the afflictions and whatever the world brings me. In each every little detail that happens, God’s hand is at work.

eye of love

You see, I had to change my perspective. I had to change how I looked at things and life. God reached his hand out to me and said; “trust ME”, “allow me to lead”, ” I can show you a peace like no other.” I placed my hand into His, re-dedicated myself to Him, allowed to Him to lead me and it has become the most beautiful dance anyone could ever imagine. I’m gracefully and peacefully dancing with my Heavenly Father.

Angels dancing

“How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.”
(Isaiah 52:7 ESV)

(Dedicated to Women’s Ministries at Macedonia Baptist Church, Owensboro, Kentucky)

 WHO AM I

CASTING CROWNS

#ArmorOfGodStudy

Healing Waters

storm

In my distress I called the LORD:

and he answered me.  From deep in the realm

of the dead I called for help, and you heard my cry.

Jonah 2: 1-2

Late summer of 2014 I found myself sitting in a counselor’s office.  I sat on the sofa of this counselor’s office in tears, broken and completely drained.  Just as Jonah found himself sitting in the belly of a big fish I had felt like I had been swallowed into the belly of a big fish. I was crying out to God.  Yes, I believed in God and had been trying to find solace in him. Yet, emotionally and spiritually I had hit bottom.

water ripple

Fast Forward

The first of this year I found myself sitting on the very sofa that I landed on in late Summer of 2014. Yet, this time as I talked with my counselor, I had a smile on my face, renewed energy and I had found the girl God created me to be. As my appointment came to a close, my counselor asked if I thought I needed to come back.  She felt as though I had been healed and saw a renewed spirit in me. How did I make the change of sitting in the belly of a big fish to crawling out of the belly and seeing hope again?  The answer is simple. God.  In the midst of working through the tunnel of darkness, he called me to go to healing waters. These healing waters were located in the Baptist church across the street from my neighborhood.

It has been through a lot of prayer on my part and prayers of fellow believers that has brought me to healing. Not only was it prayer warriors but it was the unconditional love extended to me by this community of believers that helped me to continue to crawl out of that tunnel of darkness.  Along with the  prayer, love and support of family and friends I was actually immersed in healing water. In other words, I choose to be baptized by immersion. It was in the midst of coming up out of the water where I felt the embrace of the Holy Spirit. I came up to a new page, a new heart and a healing that I had needed for so long. My heart began to beat again.

waiting

Do You Know Someone Who Is Broken?

There are people out there that are sitting in a room feeling broken. They are sitting in the belly of a big fish wanting to get out but they don’t know how to even begin. I encourage you that if you know someone like this to pray for them.  Not only pray for them but to love them unconditionally and let them know they have a God who loves them very much. Remind them that no matter what is going on or has happened that their heart can be healed.  Maybe, God is leading you to lead them to healing waters. 

bowing before God

Are You Broken?

Maybe, it is you, the reader that for some reason God brought you to my page. You are hurting and all you can see is darkness surrounding you. Please do not be discouraged. There is hope for you. There is nothing you are going through and/or you have done that God can’t change. Your Father in heaven loves you so much. I encourage you to lift your hands up, cry out to God just as Jonah did  and ask God to lead you to healing waters.  These healing waters may include getting back into church, finding a group of believers that will pray with you and for you. Healing waters may include seeking wise counsel to lead you to new light.  Maybe,  you need to ask Christ into your life and allow him to heal you from the inside out and/or be immersed in the healing waters of the Holy Spirit.  In the words of Danny Gokey; “tell your heart to beat again.”

seeking the heart

Even youths grow tired and weary,

and you men stumble and fall;

but those who hope in the LORD

will renew their strength.

They will soar on wings like eagles;

they will run and not grow weary,

they will walk and not be faint.

Isaiah 40:30-31

Take time to listen to the video below:

Emmanuel….God IS With Us!

eye of love

One thing I ask from the LORD, 

this only do I seek;

that I may dwell in the house of the LORD

all of the days of my life,

to gaze on the beauty of the LORD

and to seek him in his temple.

Psalm 27:4

This psalm is about the anticipation of being in the presence of the LORD.  It is a reminder of how we should desire to live in the presence of God every day. With the desire of living in God’s presence every day and seeking God in ALL that we do, there is no doubt that we will experience God in ways and moments we would have never thought we would experience him.

God IS With Us

Over the last month I have heard carols being sung about the Messiah’s birth.  I am reminded of what the name Emmanuel means; God is with us.  As I sing and hear these carols and reflect on the words; God is with us, I see where God has been with me and how I have experienced his mighty presence over the last year. If you have read any of my previous writings like A Glimpse of Heaven, you will know that I believe that God does give us a little taste of  heaven and the affirmation that he is with us in ALL we do and experience.

As the year begins to come to an end, I wanted to share some of the moments I have experienced God the most this year.  In other words, God has given me just a glimpse of what heaven will be like when it is time for me to go to my eternal home.

Easter Sunday 2015

Our Baptism Easter Sunday April 5, 2015

Our Baptism
Easter Sunday
April 5, 2015

April baptism one

On Easter Sunday of this year, my husband and I were baptized by immersion. Yes, we have been believers most of our lives. Both raised in Christian homes and baptized as infants. Yet, Jim and I had been led to a Baptist church that was to be and has become our church home. As we made our decision  to make Macedonia our church home, we knew we would have to be baptized by immersion.  A lot of thought, searching the scriptures and prayer went into our decision.  So, on Easter Sunday, Jim and I stood before the congregation that would become our family, professed our faith and were baptized by immersion.

As I look back on this particular Sunday, I see where God gave me a glimpse of heaven. In the song, Baptism that is sung by Kenny Chesney and Randy Travis, there is a lyric that I am reminded of as I reflect on that special Sunday. The lyric is “I didn’t seen any angels just a few saints on the shore. ”  Each time I hear this song and it comes to this particular lyric I feel the embrace of the Holy Spirit that I felt as Pastor Dan raised me out of the water. In reflecting on my baptism on Easter Sunday, I  don’t see a congregation just looking on as Jim and I were baptized. What I do see are the saints on the shore just as they are described in this song.

My baptism on Easter Sunday gave me a glimpse of what it will be like as I arrive to my eternal home.  There will be angels there but there will also be saints. The saints are the people God placed in my life as I walked this earth. They are the people who mentored me in my faith, lived our their faith every day in everything they did. Just as I looked out from the baptistery on Eater Sunday and saw a family ready to embrace me, I see familiar faces, smiling and ready to embrace me once again to welcome me home.

Nassau Bahamas 2015

I Danced With an Angel

DSCN2588

A little over a month ago Jim and I took a cruise to the Bahamas. It is a cruise that we have done several times before and never get tired of it. One of the destinations on this cruise is Nassau. Nassau has become one of our favorite places.  Jim and I like it not only for its beauty but for its people. Over the years and visits that we have made there, we always seem to experience God in the most unique ways.  As we have shopped in the straw market, we have heard testimony of faith and the love of God from venders. One year, we even saw the people have worship with song, prayer and testimony in the middle of the Straw Market before beginning their day.  We have had tour guides show us with pride the church they attend as they guided us through the history of the Bahamas.  Yet, this year to Nassau was unique not only because Jim and I were celebrating our 30th wedding anniversary but because I experienced God and his Kingdom in the most amazing way. I danced with an angel.

Jim and I had been on a tour earlier in the day. As the shuttle was taking us back to the beginning point of our tour, I saw a few things that I wanted Jim and I to go back and look at on our own. My mind was on taking pictures, absorbing the spirit of Christmas in Nassau with their decorations, music being played on street corners and nativity scenes being displayed in front of churches.

Jim and I step off the shuttle and thank our driver. We look at each other as to where we wanted to begin our adventure on foot. As we walked down the street, we were drawn to the sound of a band playing. This band was playing Christmas carols and songs that Jim and I remembered from our years of Sunday School as children. The closer we got to the where the music was being played the more we found ourselves dancing down the street to be where the action was taking place.

DSCN2657

There we were in a park area outside the straw market. Along with other tourist and locals Jim and I were enjoying the music and dancing along. Then, over to my right, I see this man. He probably had only one or two teeth in his head. However, he was singing and dancing along with everyone else. He was raising his hands to heaven praising God as the band played.  In the midst of the music and movement, I ended up beside this gentleman ( I say gentle because I sensed he had a gentle spirit about him).  Before I knew it, I was dancing and singing with this kind old man. As the song leader led the crowd in the song; Michael Rowed the Boat Ashore, this kind man took my hand with his and raised our hands towards heaven singing;  Jordan’s river is deep and wide, Hallelujah…And I’ve got a home on the other side, Hallelujah.  

DSCN2664 (2)

It was in that moment when I knew God had given me another glimpse of heaven. In heaven, we  will hold hands with fellow believers whether we knew them on earth or not and lift our voices in praise to our Father, our Creator, our God.  It was in this moment of  dancing and lifting my hands towards heaven with this man I had never met I felt the holy spirit embrace me once more.  Yes, “there are angels among us”.

The Angels Sing

Christmas Eve Worship 2015 two

Last week,  at Christmas Eve Candlelight  worship, I experienced another glimpse of heaven. Worship began with Christmas songs and greetings.  Along with the Christmas songs and greetings, we had communion along with our Pastor sharing the gospel and the meaning of Christmas. After our pastor spoke, the candles that each person held were soon lit and the congregation joined celebrating the birth of Christ with singing more carols.

As we sung the familiar Christmas song; O Holy Night, I closed my eyes. Further into the song, I heard extra voices especially while singing the words; “Oh hear the angels’ voices..”.  At first,  I didn’t think anything about the extra voices. I was sitting on the front row with many people behind me and the sanctuary being fairly full I thought that was what I was hearing. Yet, the next time we came to those words I knew I heard extra voices and voices unlike you hear in congregational singing.

I opened my eyes to look and see if there were people in the balcony because the voices sounded like they were coming from above me. However, there was no one in the balcony but the sound and audio technicians. As I turned back to continue to sing, I close my eyes again and I heard the extra voices coming in again on the song.  There is no doubt in my mind that the angels were singing and proclaiming Christ’s birth with us just as they did on that first Christmas.

Emmanuel…God IS With Us

Bible with heart

These are just a few moments that I wanted to share with you. As I have shared these moments with you, I am again reminded that God’s presence is with me at all times. It is up to me to desire to be in his presence, to acknowledge his presence and keep my heart, eyes and ears opened to experience his presence.

My New Year’s Wish For You

Christmas Eve Worship 2015

As the New Year approaches, I ask you to stop for a moment and reflect on this past year. Reflect on where and how you have experienced God in your life.  You may want to journal these experiences or share them with loved ones as you say good-bye to this year and hello to the New Year.  Most importantly, give God thanks and praise for these moments.

In the New Year, I challenge you to take Psalm 27:4 to heart.   As you go through your days, your weeks and months this year, seek God in ALL situations and in ALL that you do.  Emmanuel….God is with us!!

Take time to listen to the video

May you experience HIS presence as you walk through the New Year