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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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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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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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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Tick Tock

We all have 24 hours in a day, the only thing that is different between my time and yours is, how we spend it.  I don’t know about your time but mine is split up into basically 3, 8 hour segments.  One is sleeping (on a good day), 2 is work and 3 is free time.  The question is, how do I spend that 8 hours of free time and is it really 8 hours of “ME” time.  No way! I have many things that pull and tug at my “free time”.   My husband, my extended family, my church, my friends, my home and me.  Oops, God was left out of that list.  I feel like some days go that way, God is an after thought.

Matthew 6:33

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

Tick Tock time is passing right in front of my eyes.  My kids have grown up, my grands are getting too big and my body is feeling the time that is passing.  What have I not done with all that time?

Today a friend from work was talking about not feeling like he spends enough time with God. But then he started telling me all the things he does with God, in prayer, listening to devotions and sharing his witness by praising God to others.  And I know this man, he’s a server and a steward of God’s blessings.  Is he perfect, no!  Does he spend as much time with God in silence as some others may, no!  Is his heart desiring to devote his life to  HIM, ABSOLUTELY!  So what else would God expect?

Ecclesiastes 3:1-10

A Time for Everything

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:

a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.

I say to my self, I was doing what needed to be done.

I shared with him that I have the same struggles.  I don’t feel that I spend enough quiet time with God!  In this season of my life, I have to give myself some slack.   I have my own “time for everything” list.  My quiet time with the Lord may look differently than that of a women that is able to be a home maker (w/o children).  My devotion time may look different from that of a women that is home and raising a house full of kids.  The point is our time with God will look different according to what season of life we’re in.  Give yourself some slack!

I have 8 hours of free “ME” time.  Some would say that I need to use some of that time for things other than what I choose.  But it’s my time!  Time I can’t get back.  So I choose to use it spending a little time with God and allowing Him to speak through scripture to me so that I can share what He shows me to you.  I choose to sit one of one with ladies, living life together, sharing joys and trials, encouraging each other to seek God more in our lives.  I choose to serve others in church and community.  I choose to love my family with my time, share God’s love with them, tickling my grands and laughing out loud, singing songs & making silly faces.  I pray and I share my life with Him many times a day.  Right now a lengthy chat is not available.  There will be time in a different season of my life to sit for a couple hours in the mornings, talking to Him and waiting to hear Him speak. There will be time to do lots of different things but for now, I have 8 hours and I believe that as long as my heart desires for my life to be devoted to praising God and loving others, then that is all that HE expects of me.

Give yourself some slack!  That’s all HE wants from you too!

Ephesians 5:15-17

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.

Jesus too, had only a certain amount of time.  He had lots to do in that short few years in his mission to save us.  He carved out the time he needed to be alone with God.

Matthew 14:23

And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone,

So, don’t be foolish but understand what the will of the Lord is for you.

 

He has an overwhelming, never ending, reckless love for you and me.

Lord, you give me time, help me use it wisely, help me hear your leading and help me love with my time.  Amen!

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He has Risen

1 Peter 1:3

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

I was brought to know God through a neighbor.  She had no idea what I had already been through or what my future would hold for me.  But she did know that I didn’t know where to find hope.  She knew that my life would find pain, as it does for everyone.  She knew that there would be trials and temptations, as everyone has. She knew that I didn’t know Christ, as we all need to.  She took me and choose to be intentional with me.  She knew that I would need Him, as everyone does. So she was brave and shared with me .  That bravery saved me!  Without Him, I would be nothing, with Him I am enough.

“I will Rise” by Chris Tomlin

Christ did that for me.  Even before I was a thought, Christ died so that I could be free and he was resurrected so I would have hope.

Grateful! Amen!

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Chaos

1 Corinthians 14:33

For God is not a God of confusion but of peace. As in all the churches of the saints,

John 14:27

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

1 Corinthians 14:40

But all things should be done decently and in order.

I don’t watch the news!  Or do internet searches to see what all the hype is about.  And rarely do I share my thoughts on social media.  I just don’t!  It’s enough just to make it through a day, love the people in my life and trust in my Lord for tomorrow without bringing bias opinions into my world.   I catch what I need from my trusted sources, I form my thoughts on the subject and if action steps are needed from me, I take them.

This world we live in is full of chaos.  Sometimes that chaos distorts the truth.  Most of the time it distorts God’s truth.   I don’t want to be ignorant about the issues that are MOST important but I also don’t want them to steer me away from what’s MOST important.  And that is my trust that God has this handled.  Whatever THIS is!

There is a lot of bad in this world, people making decisions for other people, all you have to do is open up social media, listen to the radio, read the news papers or ask your neighbor, it’s everywhere.  We can easily jump on that bad wagon and spread that bad.  Yes, we do sometimes need to be proactive and use our voices to make change but there are ways in which we should do that.  The bible lays those ways out clearly for us.

Chaos is going to happen, we live in a broken world but if we are leaning on God with all trust that His plan will prevail, then there isn’t a band wagon around that will bring about unruly anger, gnashing of teeth and lashing out with our voice.  Use that voice to bring TRUTH to this world.

Jeremiah 29:11 

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

 

Lord, help me keep my mouth closed when necessary and speak of your love boldly always.  Amen!

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Love: For the Sake of Family

1 John 4:19

We love because he first loved us.

Family……

We all have one.  Some are small, some are large, some know God and some do not.  Some financially prosper and some are scrapping by.  Some live on this side of the tracks and some on the other.   Some are very doting over each other and some barely realize you’re in the room.  But the one thing that we all have in our families is baggage.  Baggage that has been carried for generations.  Some have learned how to unpack their baggage and some are carrying a full load and continue to stuff more in.

I have been on a several year journey of unpacking.    My load has become lighter.  My blessing have become greater.  DSCN0010

Ephesians 4:2

With all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love,

This has not been an easy process.  Many tears have been shed both by me and others.   I would love to say that it was always done with a humble and gentle spirit and with much patience but I can’t.

The thing about baggage, is that it’s been shoved in that space for a long time, seeping, stewing and sometimes resulting in great sin.  So when  you’re unpacking it what do you do with all of it.  I had to give it to HIM.  A great God, who covers all the sin (baggage) with his blood and forgives with an overabundance of grace.  He is my example of how to unpack my baggage.

Luke 6:37

“Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven;

The most recent “stuff” being unpacked was the reunion of a father, who had been absent for almost 50 years.  I have been unpacking this particular stuff for a little over a year but this was not only my baggage it was also the baggage of generations before me.  I refused to let it pile on baggage to the next generation.  Everyone doesn’t unpack as quickly as others, some unpack neatly, with gentleness and understanding, and some unpack with flailing arms, judgement, anger and resentment.  We all have to have “our time” of unpacking.   But at the end of the unpacking process, we should all come with the same mind as in Luke 6:37.

This weekend I witnessed the unpacking of much baggage.  The dad and mom, who raised me and the dad, who gave me life along with his wife gathered with my family to celebrate the 6th birthday of my granddaughter.  Baggage being unpacked little by little.  Anger, judgement, resentment being released and smiles replacing it.  No more tears only joy.

Isaiah 44:22

I have blotted out your transgressions like a cloud and your sins like mist; return to me, for I have redeemed you.

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So some baggage was all laid out for God to cover over with grace and love.  Redeeming generations and giving a lighter load to carry.  From my right is my dad, the man who gave me life and his wife, my step mom. On my left is my mom and my dad, who cared for my needs.  The rest of that crazy looking bunch is my husband and kids.  Can’t get much more blessed than that on this earth.

So there will still be some unpacking to do, I’m sure.  But we each have seen how God can replace the old with the new and release us from our pasts.  To the future with joy, peace and love.  I encourage you to do some unpacking of your own but put as much love back in as possible.

Lord, I become more grateful as the days go by.  Amen!

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25 Years and Counting

25 Years and Counting: If we’d been in high school and named in one of those year book type contest, you know the ones……. “Voted the best/least …………………..”, the vote would have gone something like this, “Least likely to make it.”

Boy, am I glad that God is in control and not man!

Here is where it started…… continue scrolling to see more…….

 

 

 

wedding41

God works even if you aren’t asking Him to.  Tom was introduced to me by one of my coworkers.  He was told some pretty grandiose stories and quickly figured out that it wasn’t so grandiose.  But he hung around anyway.  I was a mess and didn’t realize it.  He wasn’t where he needed to be and didn’t realize it.   It started out stormy with literally the “Storm of the Century” for the Carolina’s. Our original date was 3/13 but ended up on the 14th of March.  God knew exactly what he was doing.

Together we were a volcano awaiting eruption.   Lots of baggage being unpacked little by little and cobwebs being swept away.  It was hard but it was so worth it.

Both of us ready to give up on each other many times, but something, someone, God, kept us together.  Working on us individually so we could see past our self and see our spouse.  God placed many people in our lives that gave sweet words of wisdom that would stop us in our tracks and keep us hanging on for dear life.

God created marriage, designed for life…..

Genesis 2:24

Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.

Man is who has changed that design…….

1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

God put a stubborn streak in each of us and thankfully we were able to use that stubborn streak to hold on tight.  But it takes 2……

Ephesians 5:22-33

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.

Ephesians 5:25-33

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, …

We did a lot of things wrong but God is the redeemer of those that love Him and He redeemed this marriage and this family, 10 fold.  And I am grateful!

So, we get up each new day and keep holding on because this marriage was designed until Death do you Part.

Psalm 85:10

Steadfast love and faithfulness meet; righteousness and peace kiss each other.

Thank  you Lord!

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Changing and Loving it!

This tree, which once stood grand and proper, shaded and protected those who admired it.  Year after year, seasons come and go, storms beat away at it’s body and drought withered it’s roots.  Through the seasons, storms and droughts it stood firm until the day it shaded no more.  But yet it still stands,  stump of beautiful artwork from God.  To be admired for it’s resilience.

A change in the beautiful creation of God took place, what once stood firm, shading and protecting, changed and is still beautiful.

The same is, will be and can still be for you and me.

2 Corinthians 3:18

And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. biblegateway-com-logo_orig

Much change has taken place within this soul of mine.  I’ve sought, I’ve learned and I’ve loved deeply even more.

I’ve suffered much and I’ve miss understood the meaning of love.  There’s been times when I was done.  Or at least I thought I was.  I’ve seen that God was not done with me.

Over the years I have read many books, other than the bible, that would make huge changes in my mind and soul.  They each came into my focus at certain times, times that God had laid out for me, times that only He knew I was ready for.  The first book came to me, I’m not even sure through who, called “Are you there God, it’s me Margaret”, as a child this was my first remembrance of the seed being place in my mind of a God who is always there for me.  That seed lingered for many many years before it started taking root.  But it was all in God’s timing as he worked on me.  Then in 1991, during a very soul searching time in my life, my relationship with Christ started blooming, the seed began to sprout.  That sprout grew slowly but continued and change began, I began allowing Him to use me.  Trials, storms, pain, drought, hit and hit hard many times. And around 2006, “Boundaries- When to say Yes and when to say No” came to me.  Change started happening quick and the seed started blooming.  Now for a little fertilizing to strengthen the roots with “Celebration of Disciplines”.  This was a time of deep dependence on Christ, on his faithfulness, on his grace, on his forgiveness, on his strength, on his resilience and on his love for me. This was a game changer for me.  I knew that he was calling me to MORE.  And I was ready to say  Yes.  I have read many books since then, “1000 Gifts” by Ann Voskamp,  “The Longing in me” by Sheila Walsh, “Uninvited” by Lysa TerKeurst just to name a few.  But I recently read the book “Braving the Wilderness” and currently reading to “If you wan to walk on water, then you must get out of the boat” by John Orteberg, see the information below on Resilient People. See links below to some of these.  This book pointed out to me just how much I have changed and how much I still have to learn.

Resilient People:

  1. Refuse to be the Victim
  2. Refuse to betray their values
  3. Have a deep dependence on God

3 Qualities of Resilient People:

  1. Exercise control rather than passive acceptance.  With God we are never helpless.
  2. Remain Committed to their values – when tempted to compromise. Loyalty to values is powerful even if it leads to suffering.
  3. Find meaning and purpose in their storm. Storms have a way of teaching like nothing else can.

John Orteberg says, “You’re heart is revealed and your character forged when life doesn’t turn out the way you planned”.

I’m excited about the growing, changing that He is placing in front of me.    I pray that you will change with me.  I pray growth and a deeper dependence on God for your life.  I pray that you too will be resilient.

Thank you Lord for your Son and thank you for loving me before I even knew You. Amen!

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ref:

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/are-you-there-god-its-me-margaret-judy-blume/1100171660#/

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/boundaries-henry-cloud/1100007927?ean=9780310247456#/

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/celebration-of-discipline-the-rev-ed-richard-j-foster/1128006821?ean=9780060628390#/

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/braving-the-wilderness-brene-brown/1125897045?ean=9780812995848#/