Grace and Peace Multiplied

2 Peter 1:2-4  Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

I choose to look at today and reach for the promises of tomorrow instead of looking back.  The only thing looking back with regret brings is the promise of heart ache.  I choose to grab hold of the grace and peace that I have in the knowledge of my Lord Jesus Christ.  His way is the only way for me.  His promises are the only promises I seek.  I have escaped my old ways and entered in the glorious ways of Him.  God allowed me to sit in my own sins, knowing that it would teach me things about needing Him.  I choose Him without reservation from unknown.  I can walk in the dark knowing that He will lead me where I need to be. Faith is my darkness and Hope is my flashlight guiding me straight to heaven with Him.

Dear Lord I pray that I will never again fear the unknown, understanding that You have the answers that I’m seeking.  I pray that I will not look into the past with guilt and I will rejoice in the opportunity to grow closer to You.  Thank You so much for being my rock, shield and guiding light.  I pray that I will feel You around me, gently touching my shoulder turning me when I am wavering and strongly wrapping Yourself around me when I totally go off the  path.  You are my savior!  Amen!

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Friday’s Question

Do you believe this statement?

God cares more about our presence than our performance!

ref: You are Free by Rebekah Lyons

Revelation 3:20

Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.

Give Him your presence and you will be filled with Him.

Lord I pray that my actions will only be motivated by the desire to be close to You. Amen!

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In the Beginning

Genesis 1

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.

Full Story – Genesis 1 & 2 (Click here) BibleGateway.com-Logo

As I walk around my yard this weekend, I marvel at all the different shapes, sizes and colors of God’s creation.  And in my yard those shapes, sizes and colors change on a regular bases, with the old wilting and the new rising from the ground.  His creation is a marvelous story of His love for me. He knew there would be “Me”.  A lover of beauty and oh how it calms my soul.  I know in my own life that the old will be a thing of the past and the new will represent growth.

Take a moment, soak it in and rest in His creation.

I share with you what calms me and I pray that they calm you as well.

Lord thank you for creating such beauty for me.  Thank You for blessing me with a yard to enjoy them and a home to rest in.    And thank You for providing me with a way to share them with others.  Amen!

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Friday’s Question

How important is family?

Psalm 115:12-15

The Lord has remembered us; he will bless us; he will bless the house of Israel; he will bless the house of Aaron; he will bless those who fear the Lord, both the small and the great. May the Lord give you increase, you and your children! May you be blessed by the Lord, who made heaven and earth!

Psalm 127:3-5

Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.

Psalm 83:18

That they may know that you alone, whose name is the Lord, are the Most High over all the earth.BibleGateway.com-Logo

 

 

Family is important! There are times that family are the only ones that will fill in for God to be that human touch, that listening ear and that loving voice and will say “it will be okay”. Family can come in many shapes, sizes, colors and nationalities.  Family can be blood or not.  Their only  specification is that they love you unconditionally! No strings attached, just unconditional love!

Thank you Lord for putting those people in my life that I would gladly call “FAMILY”! Love and blessings to them all! Amen!

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You Have This

Mark 11:22 So Jesus answered and said to them, “Have faith in God.” BibleGateway.com-Logo

Blind faith, why is this so hard?  We have faith that our job is going to be here tomorrow, that the grocery stores are going to have that 1 particular food that we love, that our cars are going to start in the mornings, that the dentist will make that tooth stop hurting, that the trees and grass are going to be green, that the sun is going to shine brightly in the sky during the day, the stars are going to glisten at night and the ocean is going to be beautiful on vacation.  So I wonder how we can have faith in these things, when we don’t have control of them at all, they just happen!  The only thing really that we have control of is our own behavior, our own belief system and our own bodies (and sometimes not even that). So why can’t we have total faith in our Lord God? He is the one that provided that job so we can feed our families, he provided all sources of food for us to give us nourishment, he allowed us to have cars to make transportation easier, he gave the dentists/doctors the skills to help us, he made the trees, grass, sun, stars and ocean for us to enjoy.  So again why can’t we have faith in Him!  If our faith is weak, we will not be alert enough to hear Him calling us to that better way of life.  To that more peace and joy filled life!  Stop and think of all the things we just believe and see if God is on the top of that list and He is the one who actually provided it.  It’s not enough to say with our mouths “we have faith” and then try to control our surroundings.  Having faith is letting go of that control and letting God take the steering wheel. If He can provide all that we have, shouldn’t we think that He can provide all that we need?

Dear Lord Father…………………….I Believe, I have Faith!  I say this with my mouth today Lord and I pray that You will show me a glimpse of You working in my life.  I know with my heart that You have this and today I pray that I will trust with my mind that “You Have this!”.  Amen!

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Life on the Edge

29901Janet Townsend: My Friend!  She is a blessing.  She is gentle yet strong.  She amazes me with her knowledge of the word and is not fearful to share it.  I’ve seen her struggle more than once and I’ve seen her pick herself up and dust herself off.  People have tried to break her but she is unbreakable because she knows where her strength comes from. She trusts in her Lord with all her might and all her strength.

Whenever I hear the Stevie Nicks’ song Edge of Seventeen, I still crank up my radio and sing right along with it just like the white winged dove, signs a song sounds likes she’s signing.  Oh that song takes be back to being 17 again, a time when I had my life ahead of me.  I would ask myself, what would I be when I grew older?  Who would I marry? How many children would I be blessed with?  Would I be rich? Would I be happy? Would I travel the world or stay close to home?  Endless possibilities and nothing to hold me back.  One question I did not have to ask myself, would God be a part of my life?

As a young child, my parents would take my brother and me to church.  We didn’t attend regularly, but I embraced the lessons I learned in Sunday School about how much Jesus loved me and that I was a child of a King.  I truly felt the presence of God in my life and never really questioned His love for me even at a young age.  When I was seven years old, I was diagnosed with a severe case of Rheumatic Fever.  It took several months before the doctors were able to diagnose my condition correctly and begin an effective treatment.  I was in and out of the hospital so many times that all the nurses knew me by name and would recognize me immediately when I was admitted in the hospital.  I could see the look of sadness on their faces when they rolled me into hospital room yet again.  I had so many intravenous injections in my hips, they had to start giving them to me in my legs.  I was in constant pain and it didn’t seem like my tears would ever stop flowing.  I watched the worried looks on my parents faces when nothing that the doctors prescribed would help.  I remember the agony of not being able to walk due to my joints being so stiff and swollen, my parents would have to carry me from my bed to the bathroom where I would soak in a hot bath just to get some relief.  The pastor, lay members, and my sweet, sweet Sunday School teacher from the church we attended occasionally – Church of the Nazarene – visited the hospital and our home to pray with me.  Everyone knew that I was truly sick and wasn’t quite certain what to do about it.  But even during the midst of my pain and illness, I felt God’s presence and I knew I was in His hands.

My medical experience as a child helped me to appreciate Matthew 18:4 (NLT).  So anyone who becomes as humble as the little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.  I have always tried to live a life of true humility even at a young age.  As I grew older, we did begin attending church on a consistent basis.  At 12 years of age, I was baptized in a creek next to a river bank.  I  still remember that day as if it were yesterday – the water was so cold and the sun was warm.  My family was there and my mother was so happy.  What a joyful time for me.  It was a reaffirmation that God was still present and real in my life.

As I grew older, I drifted away from the church.  In my mid-twenties, after a short lived marriage, I felt the desire to get back into the church and a life of service.  I started working at a small Methodist Church and then went on to work for a larger Methodist Church and a Christian College.  While working at the larger church, I met an associate pastor.  Three years later we were married.   He had two pre-teen children, so I instantly became a mother and a pastor’s wife.   One of my favorite Bible verses is Jeremiah 29:11(NIV) For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans to give you hope and a future.  I felt that this was God’s direction in my life and I was living out His purpose.  Our ministry required us to move every three to four years.  It was becoming increasingly hard for me to stay close to God and I was losing the sense that I was living in His purpose.  I am certain that sounds surprising, but true, especially being part of a ministry team with my husband.  The place where you think you could easily find God, the church, I could not find Him there.  My life became consumed with church meetings, women’s Bible studies, raising two children, working a full time job to help make ends meet, and endless demands from the church.  It became too much and my desire for humility was replaced with anger and disappointment.  Unfortunately, I turned from God and turned to alcohol.  The child like faith that I once embraced was gone.  I struggled with my addiction for about ten years.  Finally I conceded I needed help. After many years of feeling abandoned by God, I found him in the most surprising place – AA.  Just like the day of my baptism, I could feel the warmth of God’s presence in my life again.  Even my child like faith returned and because what God had done for me, I was once again embracing a desire for a humble spirit.

A few years later I was faced with another personal heartbreak.  After close to 25 years of marriage, my husband essentially invited me to leave our marriage informing me he was no longer happy and felt I would be happier returning to Kentucky to be closer to my family, we were living in Destin, Florida at that time.   I accepted his invitation and packed up everything that I could get into my car and returned to Kentucky.  Although this pain was different than what I experienced as a child, the tears flowed with the same intensity nonetheless.  Instead of getting angry, I tried everything within me to remain humble and keep my childlike faith.  1 Peter 5: 6 & 7 NLT says So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time He will lift you up in honor.  Give all of your worries and cares to God, for He cares about you.  God brought me through some dark, dark days.  And He took care of me; every need –  physical, emotional, and especially spiritual He met with great swiftness and clarity.  I knew I was in His hands and He would see me through.

As the days go by like a strand in the wind is the web that is my own, I begin again as the song goes.  I am now on the edge of 56.  My friends have told me that turning 56 is much harder than turning 55.  You are now closer to 60 than to 50 they say.  Most of the questions I asked myself when I was 17 have been answered.  Yes, I would get married, but divorce after 25 years.  I have no biological children but helped raise two step children like they were my own as well as being the best grandmother I could to three beautiful grandchildren.  I am certainly not rich monetarily, but definitely happy.   I have had the privilege to travel domestically and internationally.    The question that remains what will I be? I find myself moving in a different direction professionally.  No longer being part of a ministry team or parenting team, I am now asking myself what will I do with my life?  I have decided to embark on a Master’s Degree in Ethical Leadership.  My heart is leading me to focus on women in leadership and how women relate to one another in the workplace.  After years of working professionally in Human Resources and seeing the struggles, and enduring a few of my own, that women have in the workplace, I believe God is calling me to use my gifts, skills, and now my education to make a difference for women who are coming behind me that need a voice.  With God’s help, I want to be that voice.  I must be honest, I am so scared striking out in a new direction especially during this phase of my life.  Most people tell me to play it safe, get that job that will sustain you and live a quiet, comfortable life until you retire and then just have fun.  I don’t believe God brought me through a life threatening illness as a child, alcohol addiction and recovery, a painful divorce, and professional disappointments to play it safe.  He is calling me to do something more, something bigger with my life.  Throughout the Bible, God uses His people at every phase of life:  David as a child then Israel’s anointed King as an adult, Sarah’s birth of Isaac at a later age, and Moses leading the Israelites out of Egypt at 80 years old.  Now, I believe that God is using me to live out His purpose, the building up and empowerment of women.

Let me end by saying, as much as I enjoy listening to the songs of my youth and getting that rush of nostalgia, it has always been scripture, prayer and my daily quiet time with the Lord that sustains me.  As I start this new phase of my life I ask for your prayers.  Pray that I don’t grow weary and can stay the course that God has put me on.  God has put a new song in my heart, the lyrics have yet to be written, and the melody is a small note in my mind, but I am confident this song will blare for God as He walks with me as I live my life on the edge for His glory.

Thank you Lord for placing women like Janet in my life.  Amen!

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Harmony

In a world of me, me, me there naturally comes a state of disharmony.  Which means a lot of discordfrictionstrifeconflicthostilityacrimonybad blood, bad feeling, enmitydissensiondisagreement, feuding and quarreling.

DO I NOTIs this how God intended it? Is this why Jesus died on the cross?  Is this how I really want to live my life?  I am the only one that can make that choice for me.  No one else!  But I do have the choice!

Philippians 2:1-4 

Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion,  then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind.  Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves,  not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

WE MUST HANGSo to take away the selfish ambition, to think of others more than myself is really hard. But that is what is expected of me.  To get along with and join with others that are different than myself.  To love those who in my mind might not be that lovable. To care for one another.  To live in harmony is my choice.  Is it yours?

Love, it can be hard sometimes.  Jesus lived a life in love and still paid the ultimate price for me.  Please help me walk each day worthy of His love. Amen!

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Friday’s Question

Am I doing too much or too little?

Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke,thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “WOW”! What a ride!  – Anonymous

Ecclesiastes 5:18 

Behold, what I have seen to be good and fitting is to eat and drink and find enjoyment in all the toil with which one toils under the sun the few days of his life that God has given him, for this is his lot.

Matthew 25:35-40 

For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’

Matthew 25:45

 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

Help me Lord have the wisdom to serve when I need to serve and to rest when I need to rest.  Help me feel your nudges and hear your voice. Amen!

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June is Over

This month has been a whirlwind!  Good but Crazy!  Started out the 1st weekend visiting out of state relatives in SC for a long weekend, then the next weekend with out of state relatives at my house for a long weekend, then out of state friend at my house for a long weekend  and then lots of friends at my house for a friend gathering this past Friday night.  I am bushed!  A good bushed!  But I have to admit that I walked around dazed on Saturday and was very thankful that I was going to have a quiet couple days at home.  There is nothing better than spending time with people you love.  They love me well and I love them well.

1 Corinthians 16:14 Let all that you do be done in love.

But I found myself a little lonely.  Feeling like I was disconnected and apart.  As I was driving to church yesterday morning, it hit me!, I hadn’t connected with Jesus “well” in almost a month.  I was connecting with everyone else but not with Him.  I can always tell when it’s been too long since I’ve had a nice long chat with Him.

So I’ve reminded myself that it’s good to love others and connect well with them but I MUST NOT let it draw me away from my best friend, Jesus.  He is what carries me through so that I can love well.  And without Him, I am reminded that I will be lonely even when my life is full of others.

John 4:13-14 (click for verse)

Psalms 1:2 (click to see verse)

I thank you Lord for reminding me that I can find rest in You.

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