If

#fmf

The word “IF” has all sorts of possibilities. I know in my life I have used it to finagle my words so that my mind or the person I was talking to would understand which direction I wanted to go.  What the end result would be!

“IF” it wasn’t for the the use of the word “IF” would a man be standing on the moon.  “I know it hasn’t ever been done but if………………………..”. What would the tomorrows be without “IF”

 

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Then there’s the “IF only”s .  Thinking back!  “IF only” I’d made a different choice.  “IF only” he’d been more committed. We use it to question our past or reminisce about the possibilities or out comes.

But “IF” I use the word “IF” today.

If I believed I was truly a child of God…….

John 1:12

But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God,

If I understood the love HE has for me…………

Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!

If I grasped HIS unconditional love………….

John 3:16

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

Romans 5:8

But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

If I trusted HIM……………..

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.

Psalm 28:7

The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him.

Jeremiah 29:11

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

Matthew 6:25

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?

 

If I walked my day knowing that the ONE who got me through yesterday is the same ONE that will get me through tomorrow and will also help me through today.

Hebrews 13:8

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

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Lord, I’m going to use the word “if” to draw me closer to you.  And I pray Lord that “if” I write these words someone else would also draw closer.   Help me believe, understand, grasp, trust and walk in You. Amen!

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Beauty

There is beauty even when some would say the beauty has faded!

As I spend more time in my gardens, I see more and more beauty.  The varied shades of color.  The varied shapes.  The varied sizes.  The varied ways they sway in the breeze.  The varied way they speak to the bees & butterflies.  The varied smells that penetrate the air. The varied ways they penetrate my soul.  I find peace the the varied ways different makes me feel.  But one other thing that I’m starting to see, the more I pay attention, is that “there is beauty even when some would say the beauty has faded”.

The picture is of my Allium after they have finished showing themselves this spring.  In the prime of their season they were a beauty purple ball on a long slender green stem.  They are very interesting and very beautiful.   As their color started fading and I left them standing in my garden I found them still very interesting but it wasn’t until I started to pull them up and toss them in the compost pile that I found another form of beauty.   That is when my mind went to myself and if everyone were honest, we would all say that we have felt that time when our beauty seemed to be fading.  Probably the 1st time I felt that was in 1991 when I was forced to file for divorce.   Who I was and who I represented felt as if it had been stripped away and my beauty had faded over night. But what I’ve learned through many other situations, that brought the same feeling,  is that my beauty is not of man but of God.

1 Peter 3:3-4 

Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.

In all of my varied seasons of life, my beauty is that of my inner self.  The inner self that I have allowed God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit to indwell.   I have not always lived with a vibrant color, glowing with His Spirit and gentle nature but He still formed me and was patient with me.    This has taught me much.  This has given me comfort in the ugly times. Knowing that I again would emerge with much beauty.   This has also shown me the beauty in others.  Not to discount them and not to simply toss them in the compost pile because I believed they had out lived their beauty.

So I encourage you to look for that varied beauty in others.  Cherish it because He is the One who dwells within.

Lord, You are everlasting, ever patient, ever forming, and ever loving.  Amen!

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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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