Restore

Oh how He will Restore!

#fmf

When I thought of restore, my mind immediately went to my flower garden behind my house and next to my porch.  It has always been full of beautiful things and I was looking forward to the spring when green would start popping up from the earth.  But then………… we were doing some work around the house and had to run a water line from the house to the back of the property.  The plumbers were specifically told NOT to go through the flower bed but when I came home there was a 2ft wide, 2ft deep trench dug all the way through my bed and my fountain was just thrown over on it’s side.  I had to stop and take a deep breath before I reacted.  I knew this was work that had to be done and if anyway possible for it to be done without this painful process and the up rooting of things, I knew it would happen.  But there wasn’t anyway to accomplish what was needed without working through the ugly first.  So I breathed deep and I did the work necessary to restore my flower beds.  Thankfully it wasn’t really that much because most everything in there were perennials and the digging wasn’t as painful for them as it was for me.

Then the thought jumped to myself.  The restoration process of myself hasn’t been that easy.  I had to dig through some pretty tough roots and clean away some pretty thick weeds to find restoration.

Acts 3:19-21

Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago.

He did that for me. He gave me the strength to keep digging. Raking away the old and filling in with the new.

Psalm 51:12

Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.

Believing in His restoring power, I trusted, I waited and I believed it would come.

Matthew 6:33

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

Hosea 6:1

“Come, let us return to the Lord; for he has torn us, that he may heal us; he has struck us down, and he will bind us up.

When we set out to restore something, it’s not always to make it like it was before.  I find that comforting.  I’m able to take old, unusable things and make them useful and beautiful again.

Jesus did the same with me.  He restored me to a new me.  A better me.  A happier me.  A more grateful me.  A more confident me.  A more willing me.  He restored me into a me who was more like Him.  I’m not perfect and will not be until the day I sit by His side but until that day He will continue the restoration process in me.

Lord without You my life would not be as beautiful. I am so thankful that You never gave up on me.  I know that you had to take some very deep breaths at times but You waited until that perfect moment, You allowed me to drudge through hard stuff and heal.  You are my strength and my shield forever.  Amen!

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Preacher’s Kid

J28378557_10160318267525495_6813805649657481212_neanye Mercer:

I’ve known Jeanye for almost 40 years.  It’s been quiet some time since we’ve lived close to each other and the last time I physically seen her was in 2003 but she is always on my heart.  Even though our childhood lives were very different, we started out our young adult lives the same, married and trying to figure out exactly what that looked like. We both have learned a lot about life over the last 40 years, we both have grown our personal relationship with God, seen some weaknesses in ourselves, sought healing, love our children and adore our grands.   God has made us more than conquerors.  Romans 8

I’m the preacher’s kid.

I’m 55 years old, and that’s still one of my favorite descriptors. I have the faintest memories of a time before my dad was a preacher, but not many. When I was between 2 and 3 he enrolled in preacher’s school. (That’s the fancy way the church of my upbringing described seminary.) I remember him studying the Old Testament kings and prophets – and all the important begats. And I remember many evenings spent with their new best friends (who eventually became their old best friends) eating goulash and laughing. There was always lots of laughing!

I remember traveling with my family on Sunday mornings so Dad could either preach as a guest – or on the more stressful occasions “try out” for the preaching position. Mom would get Jamye and me up early, tease our hair in French poodle buns complete with clip on barrettes and pack our cinnamon toast and chocolate milk to go. We ate many a roast for lunch on those days at the family’s house whose turn it was to entertain the traveling preacher and his family. Then we would have Sunday night church and drive home late that night. On one of those Sunday nights we stopped at Dairy Queen for burgers, fries and chocolate shakes. Dad managed to back into a pole in the parking lot (he could tell you exactly what car he was driving) and all our shakes spilled into our laps. I’m not sure we were all laughing at that point. However, we’ve laughed many times over the years about that memory.

26993301_10160183671985495_3501762350244674524_nI remember vividly the night my Dad baptized me. I must have been in 3rd or 4th grade because I was wearing the long calico dress Mom had sewn for me to wear when performing with the world famous ukulele ensemble, Pickers and Plunkers. Many years later he would baptize both of my children. He performs all the family weddings and those of friends who are like family. He also blesses those in our circle who have died by speaking the most gracious words of acknowledgment and love to the grieving  friends and family left to honor and celebrate life. Anytime we need important, moving words for an occasion, Dad is our go-to guy.

My favorite memory from my childhood years of Dad’s preaching is such a simple one. Following each service Dad would walk to the back of the auditorium during the closing prayer and greet each member on their way out the door. We called it “shaking them out.” Jamye and I would wait off to the side because we knew our turn was coming. Dad would give us a big grin and a bigger hug and we would lock up and head home until the next time the church doors opened. (Cause you know a preacher’s kid is there every time the doors are open!)

It wasn’t all unicorns and cinnamon toast. Money was often short. Demands on the preacher and his family were often many. Dreams and plans were sometimes destroyed by the relocating that was common among preachers back then. But don’t worry! Every time we were asked to leave, there was a potluck luncheon, a homemade quilt and all 4 verses of Bless Be the Tie that Binds were sung to soften the blow. (Perhaps I have a tiny bit of bitterness hiding out in these memories.)

The gifts of being a preacher’s kid are many. My family and I have friends near and far who love us dearly and hold our memories as treasures. We sing great 4-part harmony – even acapella. We know a bit of Bible trivia – definitely more than the average Jeopardy player. And we are good people to have around during tough times.

There is one gift that easily stands out among the others. It is this: I never doubted my Dad’s love. Ever.  (even when I questioned and eventually left the church of our upbringing). Because of that extraordinary love, and the many years of listening to Dad preach words of grace and mercy to his people, I am able to accept the truth that God the Father loves me unconditionally as well. That’s extraordinary. Life altering. Undeniably central to all that I am or will ever be. And I am grateful. So very grateful.

I’m a preacher’s kid. My Dad’s kid. And I wouldn’t change that for the world.25594411_10160025151805495_7821467540334020693_n

You can find the art that Jeanye has created @ https://www.facebook.com/JeanyesArt/?pnref=lhc.  Art has been one way that she has been able to dig deep and heal.  Look her up on Facebook and encourage her.  If you find something you love, I’m sure she’d love to hear from you.

 

Lord, I thank you for bringing people in my life who are going to challenge me.  I thank you for reminding me that we are all fragile, in need of your love.  I ask  you to continue to be with Jeanye and her family.  Wrap your arms around them.   Amen!

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Fly

I not only want to fly away at times, I also want to soar!

#fmf

We find many ways of flying.  Getting that feeling of being higher than others.  The feeling of being free, faster, better and more equipped.  We do that in many fashions.

Excelling in our schooling, careers and positions

Abusing drugs, sex and alcohol

Placing ourselves at a higher status level with bigger homes, expensive cars and elaborate things

We miss use or abuse the things that are here on earth to elevate ourselves to fly high out of our heads or over the heads of others, we are heading for a crash that we may not survive.

If only we would realize that the only way to really fly and soar with great power is to allow God to provide our strength and endurance, our honor and our might.  He will show us if we trust how to fly with integrity and might, being able to bring others to Him and give grace and mercy, preparing others to fly.

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.
Then there will be allowed time for rest.
I said, “Oh, that I had the wings of a dove! I would fly away and be at rest.
Lord, let me lean on You and You alone.  Amen!
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Return

#fmf

For anyone that has a prodigal return to them will understand the joy and love that is in abundance within them.  I for one have had that! When you have had a parent, spouse, child or friend so far away from you that your heart hurts and the fear is strong, you get it!

Same goes for the parable in the bible where the son was lost.  Did he say things that were hurtful?  Did he do things that were harmful?  Did he suffer?  Did those he left behind cry out? Yes is the answer to all those questions.

Luke 15:11-32 (Read for yourself)

Yes, he was wrong but the love the father has for him was stronger than any wrong that he could do.

God has that same love for us!

Some may not understand that love, they may question your allegiance to them.  But until they understand that unconditional love, they can never give it.

Luke 15:31-32  “‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’”

God’s love is so great that we can leave Him and do unimaginable things but when we return to Him with a heart of repentance His love is still great!

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Rom. 5:8

As the water always returns to the shore, may we go through ours days and sleep through our nights, let us wake each morning and return to Him.

Lord, help me remember Your love for me each day.  Never wandering too far!  Help me show others the love You have and if it’s the first time they have met You or a time to return to You, let them know Your love.  Amen!

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Pause

#fmf

When would you like to just pause?

1 John 4:1

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.

From the moment our feet hit the floor, most of use have schedules to follow, places to be, people to see and things to do.  Do we ever take the time to just pause?

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Pause to listen to the trees wrestling

Pause to smell the flowers on the side of the road

Pause to skip a rock across the water

Pause to hug a child

Pause to watch the butterfly move gently from flower to flower

Pause to see the bee drink up the sweetness

Pause to breath deeply

Pause to consider the words before the leave the mouth

Pause to give a smile of encourgement

Pause to look at someone in the eyes so they know you truly see them

Pause to make funny faces

Pause to reminder yourself of your blessings

Pause to consider your next step

Pause to be in the moment

Pause to hear the heart of another

Pause to read a poem

Pause to jump in a puddle

Pause to play with a rollie pollie and remember your childhood

Pause to see what He has placed before you and jump at the opportunity

Pause to the voice of God and soak in His guidance

Pause to ask for His forgiveness

Pause to accept His grace

Pause to remember His mercies

Pause to give Him the Glory

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I do not pause enough. Do you?

Lord help me pause today.  Help me to recognize the pause moments you give me.  Help me disconnect enough from “me” so I can pause and see others. Lord help me pause. Amen!

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Endurance and Encouragment

May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Romans 15:5-6

I would have NOT gotten by the last 38 years in a semi sound mind and body if it hadn’t have been for Him.  Really wouldn’t have made it through the previous 19 years prior to that either, but I had invited Him into my life 38 years ago.  I’ve had some very difficult things happen during those 38 years.  They weren’t anything that anyone else hasn’t encountered but they were difficult none the less.  Without His strength giving to me to endure hard times and the encouragement of His promises which gave me hope for tomorrow, there would have been days that giving up would have been easier.  Life’s road has faced me head on and it’s been rocky and full of pot holes.  But MY LORD has never left my side.  There were times that I did’t recognize His presence but He was there.  There were times that He had someone here on earth do His work for Him.  Without those people for me to lean on, I would have been on the ground.

And that is where I’m going now with this……….

“Give you the same attitude of mind towards each other”!  There has been many opportunities I have had to be THAT PERSON for someone else.  Some I have enjoyed, some have been hard to bare but all have been a blessing to me and prayerfully to the other.  But there have also been those that I refused to walk with.  Yes, He simply used someone else more willing to do that job but what blessings did I miss out on because of my refusal?

What opportunities has He placed you in?  How many have you used your right of refusal?

Lord, I pray that I am open always.  Difficult or not, I want to be available and willing to help others endure and give them hope through my encouragement.  Ultimately Lord, I pray that in every action I take and word I speak it will show others Your glory and bring them closer to You. Amen!

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Secret

#fmf

Secrets, they can bring extreme joy to your life or extreme pain.  Which one is it for you or have you carried both?

Ecclesiastes 12:14

For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.

Secrets……

I’ve kept many secrets.  Holding on to the secret of an upcoming child, of the celebration of a birthday party, of what Santa brought and many more that brought joy to my life and the lives of others.  But I’ve also had secrets of hiding my sins and of painful memories.  These secrets can eat away at our flesh, our soul and our joy. They will deteriorate the relationships you have with others and with God.

At times we are to keep secrets, things that will slander others and bring great harm.

Proverbs 11:13

Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets, but he who is trustworthy in spirit keeps a thing covered.

Secrets…….

They are simply part of our day to day life.  But never are we to think that we are keeping secrets from God.  He already knows without us uttering a sound.  We are to rejoice with Him in our joyful secrets and we are to allow Him to heal our painful ones.  For those secrets that could slander the reputation of others, He is also the one to share those with.  He will give you wisdom on how to carry those so that the other will allow Him to heal them.

Secrets……..

They may have a purpose for a while but they are never to be kept hidden forever.

Luke 12:2

Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known.

Lord, thank You for being my safe place for all my secrets.  Amen!

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My Miraculous Journey

 

 

13007201_10209328508989193_1485573346067823033_n13/1/18 Amber Fields Hull:  A Beautiful Soul, that is who she is.  That is who I see but not for only that reason, simply because she is God’s child.  I have known Amber just a few short years.  I have seen a person who was so broken bloom into a woman who realizes her worth in God eyes.  A person who takes all the past ugly and is making the future beautiful.

My past is shameful to say the least. I was a drug addict from the time I was 15 years old. I didn’t find true Recovery until I was 30. By 20 I was a full-fledged junkie who would do anything to maintain my buzz. I was a natural at lying, stealing, and manipulating doctors to get an unheard of amount of pills. I am not proud of who I was. The cops would always tell my grandparents that I would end up in 1 of 2 places: prison or 6 feet under. I believed it myself! Nobody had any hope in me and I had no hope in myself. That is until God redeemed me and all my hope is now in him! This is my story…

I was raised in a good home by my grandparents. My mom died when I was 6 months old and my dad was an alcoholic so he gave me to my grandparents. I’m so grateful they raised me. I was taught right from wrong, went to church regularly, and knew good morals. But that wasn’t enough to protect me from myself.

E5F49097-33CD-4680-8567-61375F42C16CI met my first husband while I was selling pills. We got along great and loved each other very much. However, we loved the drugs way more. A couple years after we started dating we were both arrested on drug charges. I was in jail for almost 4 months. This was the cleanest I had been since I was a teenager. I started reading the bible and attending Celebrate Recovery every Wednesday, mostly because they brought us coffee.  Even though I went for the coffee, the seed was planted.

Once out of jail we actually stayed sober together for a couple years. We started going to church, got married, and had goals for a future. But my old ways kept trying to creep back in. One night I begged him to get high with me. He finally agreed and we did way too much considering we hadn’t done any in a while. Rob (my husband) told me he was going to lay down for a nap. I thought nothing of it and ran to the store. When I got back and went to check on him it was something I will never forget. He was laying in his own fluids, gurgling, and as I tried to wake him up I realized something was very wrong. By the time the paramedics came it was way too late. They tried but Rob was braindead. I would make the decision to pull the plug that evening. I will never forget that night. The picture of him lying in our bed is forever engrained in my mind. I still miss him every day. I thought my life was over when I lost Rob. But a few months later I finally let God help me.

I had made the decision to try and get sober again and this time I wanted to stay that way. I checked myself into detox and was there for a week. Once I got out I knew I needed to stay on track. I changed all my friends, didn’t visit the places I used to, and started attending meetings every chance I could. I began attending the Celebrate Recovery that Juanita (the lady who came to jail) helped lead at. 5AE7EA45-297C-4EDD-B466-BB3EAA51F4E3I dove into a step study, built a support team, took leadership training as much as I could, and built a relationship with my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I realized that if I kept coming back I could be successful in recovery.

God really blessed me by putting Juanita in my life. When I was 6 months sober I approached her about an idea I had to honor Rob and others lost to overdose. She listened to me and believed in me. We began meeting once a week and the Rally4Recovery came to fruition. That September we hosted our first Rally4Recovery. We had a free spaghetti dinner, worship music, live testimonies, a kid’s zone, a remembrance walk for those lost to addiction, and a 5k race. It was a weekend long event that was for the whole family. It was extremely successful because God showed up! This September will be the 3rd annual Rally4Recovery and it’s amazing to see what God does each year!

When I first lost my husband I ran into a guy, Brandon, whom I had went to elementary school with. In fact, he was my first ever boyfriend. He became my best friend during that dark time.  We decided to get sober together and eventually began dating. It was very rocky at times but God had his hand in it and he gave us both the opportunity to go through step studies. I know that is what saved our relationship and I’m so blessed we listened! It’s amazing the progress we can make if we let God have control of our lives.

In August of 2017 I found out I was pregnant. I was perplexed. Rob and I had tried for 10 years to have a baby to no avail so I just assumed I couldn’t have kids. I was shocked but so excited I could barely stand it! God blessed us with the most beautiful baby girl on April 25, 2017. She was beyond perfect. She brings us so much joy!

16B530E0-6F41-4E76-B841-20EFC2E50DC0Brandon had another 8 year old daughter from a previous relationship that he only got to see every other weekend. God gave us the opportunity to step up and get primary custody of her so we ran with it! We adore her and I love her just like my own. She is an amazing child with a bright future. You see God is in the chain breaking business. We never thought, because of our pasts, that we could win custody of her. God is faithful!

We have dreamed of being homeowners for years but because of bad credit due to our addiction we thought it would be a long while before that dream would be a reality. Boy God is amazing isn’t he? He placed a couple in our lives who took a chance on us. We are now homeowners! Our children can grow up in a house that we own and that just makes me ecstatic.

I worked to pay off a great car when I first got sober so my car is dependable. Brandon, however, was driving an old beat up Toyota that was dangerous to drive. One night at bible study our friends asked us to stick around for a few minutes. They went on to tell us they had prayed about what to do with a 2012 Chevy car they had and God had told them to GIVE it to us. I had become so anxious about him driving that old car but why? God has always taken care of us!

Brandon and I became husband and wife on January 29th, 2018. We were married at our church (Grace Baptist) right before our Monday night Celebrate Recovery meeting. We were surrounded by all of our friends and family who had worked together to pull off the most perfect wedding. We didn’t pay for a thing and yet it was absolutely spectacular! We had a beautiful cake, a photographer, an amazing dinner, and I wore a stunning dress. You see, when you make things right in God’s eyes, he works out the details.

Ever since Juanita and I hosted the first Rally4Recovery our goal has been to start a recovery center in our town. We now have that center, all glory to God!  We named the center A*R*T (Achieving Recovery Together). We are working hard to combat the addiction epidemic. We hope to help as many people as possible find recovery. We want to serve those that most people have given up on just like who I was before I found recovery….image

We will soon be starting an Angel Program at our local emergency room. We will visit with those that overdose and talk to them about their recovery options. Our goal is to get them into rehab but if nothing else we will be planting a seed. In April we are having an art contest with our local schools for Alcohol Awareness month. The students will decorate paper grocery bags and return them to us. They will then be given out to customers by our local grocery stores. Anything we can do to get the message to our community! In December we will be having a Christmas party for local kids whose parents are in rehab because of drugs/alcohol. To celebrate them for one day and hopefully let them have a good day without worry of the future.

All these things I have been able to accomplish have nothing to do with me. God has blessed me with every single one of these opportunities. None of this would be possible without him. He has blessed me beyond anything I ever imagined. Beyond anything I have ever hoped for. I want to glorify his name in all that I do. Having a servant’s heart is important to me. I owe God everything. I want to be his vessel. I want to spread his love.

C0E39874-5A54-4E50-ABE8-9BA3050C3583I now am a certified Adult Peer Support Specialist, I have my recovery support specialist diploma, and will soon be a licensed recovery coach. God has made me what I am today. I am no longer a hopeless junkie. I am a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister, a friend, and most importantly a child of God.

Philippians 4:19 And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.

Isiah 4:10 So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

 

Lord, Thank  you for placing me in Amber’s life and in the lives of others who continue to amaze me in their growth and service to you.  Also helping me remember that with You everything is possible.  Amen!

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Psalm 139:13-14

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

Psalm 139:13-14

He created my inmost being, he knit me together in my mother’s womb.  I am fearfully and wonderfully made; I am wonderful and I know that full well.

I am really just understanding what that means at 56 years old.  Why did it take me so long to understand that every vein in my body, every freckle, every stray hair, even dimple, every brown spot, every winkle, every not quite symmetrical part and every other fiber of my being is perfect because He made me?

I’m learning, I’m starting to understand that I have value. And my value in Him is all the value I need.  I haven’t totally grasped it yet.  I still struggle with the self doubt thoughts, the dissatisfied words that run through my head and the sin that comes out of me because of my uncontrolled desires to be loved, right, seen and needed. I’m learning, still striving to value myself enough to expect value from others.  I’m learning that others struggle with the same.  I’m learning to value their struggle.

But today, I know without a single doubt that He loves me just as I am.

And He said, “It is Good”.

Lord, help me feel as You feel.  Amen!

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Include

#fmf

I can already tell that this is going to go over my five minutes that the rules say I have to write.  But sometimes God puts more than five minutes on our hearts.  So here we go.

I love flower gardening.  This year I added an additional garden to my yard. In that garden, as in most of my others, there is a focal point and then I will add around it.  It  includes other shapes and sizes and colors to give it character and beauty.  Don’t get me wrong, when I see a field full of tall, strong standing sun flowers, they are beautiful, but after I gaze for a while, I’ve seen all that I can see.  When I saw the word for this morning, I thought of my garden.

I am the focal point of my world.  God has made be strong, standing firm on who he created me to be.  Beautiful in who I am!

Ecclesiastes 3:11

He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.

But if I were the only thing in my world or even if there were many of “me”, my world would be beautiful for a while but then become dull.  So I choose to include others in my life.  Those others can not be just like “me” if I desire for my world to be beautiful and full of character.  I include many others in my world, different shapes, sizes, colors and textures.  Each bringing it’s own beautiful and each teaching me how to love different. My world is all but dull because I choose to include.

John 6:37

 All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away.

Look around you, do you see a lot of the same?  Have you forgotten to include a little different into your world?

Lord, I want to Thank You for each and every person that you have brought into my life. All teaching me something about living, loving, facing fear & pain, growing and more about You.  Amen!

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