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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adapt

#fmf

Ephesians 2:2

in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.

Romans 12:2

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

How well do you adapt?  We have to adapt to many things in life, if we don’t we’ll be miserable or more miserable.  Adapting from summer to winter is the hardest for me.  I love warm weather and haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaate the cold.  Truth is I hate clothes so the fewer I have to wear the better.  Coats are simply uncomfortable.  But I must adapt!

Some can adapt easily to any situations they are put in, small crowds large crowds, picnic in the park to dinner at the Ritz and boss in business to wife and mom.  Adapting is just a way of life.    But we are not to simply adapt to the ways of the world.  We may have to live in it but we don’t have to join in.  We may need to love others but we don’t have to tag along.  We may have be here now but we want to be in eternity forever.

So don’t simply adapt, be the change for the good.

Be with me Lord daily as I adapt.  Amen!

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Speaking the Truth

Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.

Ephesians 4:15 NIV

I have not lived in “truth” all my life.  Honestly it’s only been the last few years that I even really knew what that was.   I’ve been a believer in Christ since my senior year in high school but living it, much less speaking it is not where I was.

We live in a society that loves to be pumped up.  Awards are giving out like candy without true regard for what they stand for in future generations.  Accolades are sometimes not earned they’re expected.  Getting off subject but these things prove a line of deception, which is not Truth.

I have definitely spoken words that were in my current mind, I felt were truth.  And in some instances or to some extent they were.   And in some instances they were needed but not always.  My words were my truth.

But that is not the words I speak of today.  The words of bible, the words to live by, the words of love and some times the words of sin.  These words are not always easy for me to hear.  But they are words that are needed always. I have people in my life that are willing to “speak words of truth” to me.  I am grateful for them but not always happy about what they mean.  But I listen anyway.  I pray that I grow from them.

How do you take it when someone “speaks words of truth”, to you?  Do you rebel with a demanding “NO, I will not listen to this!” or a feeling of undeserving anger?

You know Satan will speak all kinds of words to us.  A lot of the time they feel good.  They says what we want to hear.  They build us up!  They are not ever truth!  Because he does not want us to see ourselves for who we really are at that time.  He wants to keep us in our sin.

When you “know the truth” and you are working daily to live it, Satan will still speak to  you also.  Words that bring feelings of doubt, shame, unworthiness and fear.  These are also not words of truth.

Listen to only the 1 truth, Jesus.

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Stuck

#fmf

I have felt stuck.  Stuck in the muck of life!  It’s not been pretty.  Sometimes I’ve grieved being stuck in my own skin.  That is one thing that you can’t run from.   It’s ugly, it’s painful, it’s untrue and sometimes sinful!

Then I found out………….

Hebrews 12:1-2

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,  fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Jesus died to pull us out of that muck, whatever that muck looks like.  But it’s still hard.  Hard to walk out of that abusive marriage, step away from the person that you feel love from because God would not honor that relationship,  leave a job that is over taking your life because your financial decisions have made you depend it on, unhealthy relationships, the shadow of your own past or anything that is weighing you down so that  your head can not see the face of Jesus.

I have felt that “stuck” for many different reasons until I got it!  Until I found the “ONE” that got me unstuck!  I found courage, strength, endurance, comfort, security, forgiveness, faithfulness,  peace, joy and the greatest of these is unconditional love.  Never taking my eyes off His I was able to not live in a world of “stuck” any longer.

Philippians 4:12-13

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

He who gives me strength helped me find that place and it lead me to wanting to honor Him with my life in whatever situation I was in at the time.  Learning to be content or, if needed, finding a Godly way out of that discontent.

He is my way………….. Is HE yours?  Your way out of “stuck”!

Thank you Lord Jesus! Amen!

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Boundaries & Grandchildren

Deuteronomy 28:1-68

“And if you faithfully obey the voice of the Lord your God, being careful to do all his commandments that I command you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth. And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, if you obey the voice of the Lord your God. Blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the field. Blessed shall be the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your ground and the fruit of your cattle, the increase of your herds and the young of your flock. Blessed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl. …

Boundaries and Grandchildren……….. these 2 words shouldn’t even be used in the same sentence.  Grandchildren are our blessings for allowing our kids to become adults. I hate to say it but sometimes, I felt that way.  Child rearing was hard, good, but hard.  Grandparent-hood is nothing short of spectacular!   I spend as much time with them as possible.  Loving, laughing, playing and running out of steam.  And there has been times when I’ve had to explain to them how it works at “Lollie & Pops” house but even still nothing short of spectacular.  Until today! My oldest is learning that she loves playing at Lollie and Pops house but she also loves being with her friends.  Today she had to choose and regretfully the choice was painful for her.  I explained to her that if she made the choice to go home, her friends may not be home or they may not be able to play, but she wanted to go, and that was fine, until we got to her house and she realized they were not home.  She immediately decided she wanted to come back with me.  Now it was my turn to make a choice, could I say, OK or let her deal with the choice that she made.  With many tears, hers and mine, I let her suffer the pain of a choice that didn’t turn out as well as she expected.  Yes, this was a minor deal and I could have just let it blow by and not took the opportunity to let her suffer little so that hopefully, eventually, she won’t have to suffer big.

We all have made those choices………… you know, the ones we wish we hadn’t.

Luke 14:28

For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?

As a child, our choices are small and usually so are the sufferings but as we grow older these things no longer are small.  Our choices effect every corner of our lives, our relationships, our finances, our health, our joy, our pain and our eternity.  An emphasis on “eternity”.    I didn’t make all the right choices when I was growing up and I certainly have not as I’ve become an adult.  But I’ve realized that I have helper, a guide to walk with me through those choices, all I have to do is listen and choose to follow.

“And if you faithfully obey the voice of the Lord your God, being careful to do all his commandments that I command you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth. And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, if you obey the voice of the Lord your God.

I have 5 more chances to walk through life with the greatest blessings I’ve received.  I’m being intentional with my love for them.  Hoping that what I’ve learned about having good boundaries and  learning from my own suffering, I can help guide them in their choices, letting a small suffering be a stepping stone to having less big sufferings.

We, you and I, still have that choice to make daily.  Are we going to faithfully obey the voice of the Lord our God?

Lord, help me be courageous and loving all at the same time.  All the while, leaning on the Holy Spirit’s guidance, Jesus’s forgiveness and Your Strength.   Amen!

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