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 sign 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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TRUST

How do you trust, when it feels like your life is out of control?

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Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6

 

 

 

I love swinging high!  The freedom of floating through the air and the smells of my surroundings rushing past me.  But if I go too high or too fast and the swing takes a turn of twisting and swaying then it can feel a bit out of control.  But with swing, I always have the option of putting my feet firm on the ground and the out of control feelings vanish.  Life is not like that.  My feet have been as firm as they could be on the ground beneath me and my life was still OUT OF MY CONTROL!

I’ve learned how to TRUST, when my life is out of my control!  STOP!  TAKE A DEEP BREATH IN! CLOSE MY EYES AND SEE “HIM” STANDING NEXT TO ME! SCREAM! BE SILENT! REST! What ever my emotions are telling me through this out of control-ness, I do it!  But I do it with HIM!

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6

Lord, thank your for being my firm ground. Amen!

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Hard (Deceitful)

Psalms 101:7 He who works deceit shall not dwell within my house; He who tells lies shall not continue in my presence.

Being honest and living with integrity seems to be a practice that is hard to do and a thing of the past.  Where there is deceitfulness there also lies a person that is living for self.

Definition:

de·ceit·ful -1. given to deceiving: A deceitful person cannot keep friends for long.

  1. intended to deceive; misleading; fraudulent: a deceitful action.

Synonyms:

  1. insincere, disingenuous, false, hollow, designing, tricky, wily. 2. illusory, fallacious.

Antonyms :

  1. honest. 2. genuine

A deceitful person will end up alone because they are unable to foster relationships.  To dwell in the house of the Lord we must be honest and genuine.  Ugg…….to do that we must let others inside our head, allowing them to see our thoughts, open up our hidden boxes of skeletons, feel our fears and see our failures.  But being honest and genuine with a friend (God) also allows them to balance out of thoughts, burn those skeletons, protect  us from our fears and give us grace from our failures.  God made us for relationship, He made us so that we would one day dwell with Him and He made us to care for others before ourselves.  We can’t do that if we’re not in open relationship.  Try it today.  Be honest, hiding nothing, being genuine in your relationships and see that the Lord knew what He was doing.

Lord Father, I come to you today with a full heart.  Desiring to be honest and genuine with You.  Allowing You to dwell inside me.  Directing my every move.  I know Lord that even if I didn’t verbally tell You about me, You still would know.  But the act of me opening up to You is more for me than You.  Talking to You is what brings me peace to my soul.  I am grateful Lord that You have placed in my life friends and family that I can be “REAL” with.  Never feeling that I have to hide from the truth about who I am.  I pray today Lord, that my family and friends will also understand the need for relationship with You.  Will be willing to be honest and genuine with You and they will be able to discern those that You have placed in their lives whom they can be “REAL” with.  I thank You with every fiber of my being.  Amen!

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Pain to Victory

TeresaTeresa Martin:  I understand her drive! Some are born with a driven personality and some are “gifted” it through trials. When you face the hard and push through it, learning all the while what God has in store.  Taking it and growing in compassion for other women.  That’s Teresa!  I’ve only known her for a short while but thrilled that the Lord has blessed me with another “gifted”driven woman in my life.  Can’t wait to see what God has in store for us as a team.

 

 

 

I always knew there was a God but I did not know him.  At age 34 I had not read or studied the bible.  I only knew what others said about God and I didn’t hang around people who followed his ways.  When my childhood sweetheart and husband of 19 years had yet another affair and I knew divorce was the choice I had to make, I became a follower of Jesus, not just a person who believed he existed.  I started to pray through my pain and go to church and then eventually attended a bible study.  I watched people who worshiped unashamed and I longed for a relationship with God like that.  As my life, as I knew it, crumbled before me, I began seeking to know God and understand who he says I am and how much he loves me and my life was forever changed.  I committed my whole heart and surrendered my plans for my life to His plans for me.

In John 10:27 Jesus says “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them and they follow me.”

We can mature in grace and live the Christian life through a personal relationship with God in Jesus Christ. If we fully respond and are serious about this relationship with Jesus, then we are his disciples. Discipleship is the process of becoming the whole person God calls each of us to be through our relationship with Jesus Christ.  A disciple embraces God’s highest purpose for his or her life – to grow in the likeness of Christ for the sake of others.  Upon the advice of the Christian counselor I was seeing after my divorce, I went to see the minister of a large church in Lexington to talk about divorce.  He listened to my story and told me I was a minister because I could minister to those going through divorce.  He said his church had 8000 ministers because everyone who attended thee had their own ministry from their life’s story.  You do not have to be a clergy-person to be a minister.  Ministry is helping people become the whole persons God calls them to be in Jesus Christ.  Jesus called common fishermen to become the greatest kind of fishermen they could be- fishers of people.  God uses the pain of my divorce for me to serve others who are suffering in the same way.  I experienced the pain of divorce ending a 19 year marriage.  I could not have survived the pain without Jesus.  We lived on a farm and I was the one to leave because I knew I couldn’t take car of it.  My son, my only child, chose to stay at the farm.  I lost all of what I knew at the time to be mine at that moment, my home , my son and my husband.  My husband had been my best friend for 19 years and was my high school sweet heart.  My mom has an entry in my baby book from kindergarten “Teresa has her first boyfriend” and it was the boy I married in 197.  In Isaiah 61:1, we read, “He has sent me to bind up the broken hearted” and in chapter 61:2, “to comfort all who mourn”.  The Lord showed me that he was all I could truly call mine.  The Lord does not waist a hurt and has put in my path women going through divorce so I could share the generosity I have experienced from God.  I had been in bible study a couple of years when I was asked to lead a small discussion group.  I did not feel adequate , however the leader told me if I did I wouldn’t need Jesus!  I lead that group through several studies and saw God work in amazing ways.  Then the leader’s husband was called to ministry in another state.  She asked us to pray about who would take the leadership position of this large group of women.  As I prayed I heard  in my spirit the words “feed my sheep”.  I felt myself saying I can’t do that Lord.  Again I heard a still small voice saying, “you can do all things through Christ”.  I  was driving at the time so I sat down with my bible when I got  home knowing that if I heard from God it would be through His word.  I found both of those in scripture and other women on the prayer team confirmed they felt God was calling me to lead the group.  I was 34 years old before I accepted Christ as my Savior and as I surrendered to His will He called me to disciple other women.  I have been remarried 16 years and life can still be challenging and painful. I am thankful for God’s word that sustains and fulfills me.

We read about two kinds of persons in the Gospels:

  1. The crowds- the thousands of persons who sought out Jesus.  They were hungry and wanted to be healed.  But most were curious, not committed.  They were more FANS than FOLLOWERS.
  2. The disciples- those few who heard the call to follow, committed their lives to Him and put their faith into action.

The same two types of persons exist in today’s church.  Each of us must decide which we will be.  Will we stop short of fully responding to God’s grace and Call?  Or will we gratefully and wholeheartedly respond by becoming disciples of Jesus Christ?

Lord Thank You for giving me women like Teresa to share life with.  I praise You for know exactly what we need.  Please help us hear you clearly! Amen!

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