Thursday, December 27, 2012

My Journey With My Love Map

Twenty years ago I couldn't have told you the words to any hymn. As I stood next to my husband in church for the first time, the song I remember hearing was, "Amazing Grace". It's the first hymn I learned. Our son was just a baby in my arms when I felt the sweetest feeling come over me. At the time I couldn't have explained what was happening, but now I know that it was the Holy Spirit. The tears came as I handed my son to my husband and my feet left that pew close to the back row quicker than I could say, no. I walked forward and in that moment I asked, Jesus to be my Savior. My life forever changed on that day. A day just a few weeks away from Thanksgiving.

I found my way back to the pew and my husband stood with tears streaming down his face as he held our son. From the moment my husband and I met, he had been praying. He was praying that I would one day accept Christ as my Savior. He sweetly shared the love of Jesus with me. A girl who knew nothing about faith, who would one day share her faith with her children and be near as they too accepted Christ Jesus as their Savior.

Our spiritual journey is just that. A journey. There is so much to learn. Each day is an opportunity to know Him more. I have learned I must be dedicated and disciplined. Faith must comes first by believing. It's when I believed, that I learned to see. I mean, really see as though it was the first time. It's through having faith in Jesus that everything in life comes to have meaning and purpose. When we seek Christ, we will never come up empty. He will fill us with all we need.

Say we meet a new friend we really like. We invite them to coffee. Lunch is next. Pretty soon we are talking everyday. Sharing our deepest secrets. We share our great moments. We treasure time together. Milestones point out what makes are relationship wondrous. It's giving time to one another. It's being there always. It's knowing the other so well, you can finish their sentence. You know what they are going to say before they speak the words. You laugh at the same silliness and you know when the other is in need. You know when tears are about to fall. A sweet friendship such as this doesn't just happen. It is made. It's created over time. Friends, this is what our relationship with Jesus should look like.

Remember being a kid and having that one friend who stuck beside you like a brother? You would go somewhere and there was always someone who would say, "Where's your buddy?" We need to be so close to Jesus that when others see us, they know that He is present with us! Our steps should be in tune with His. Our words His and our actions a reflection of Him.

When I married my husband, my mom gave me a Bible as a wedding gift. It was my first Bible. I couldn't have shared with you one single scripture. I didn't know where to begin. In church when the pastor would say, "Please open your Bibles and turn to John 3:16", my husband would help me find it. Yes, John 3:16 is the first verse I ever memorized.

I started reading. It wasn't everyday that I read. I would pick up that Bible and just turn to a random page and read. Over time that reading turned to daily opening my Bible. The more I read, the more I yearned to read. This Living Word was feeding my soul. It wasn't just a book any longer. Not just a wedding gift, but part of my life. The pages came to life. The words were sweet nectar to my lips as I read them out loud. There are days I will read for a few minutes and others that I can simply remain in His Word for hours.

If you could see my desk now, there are four different Bibles sitting next to me. There are study Bibles next to my bed. Bibles are everywhere in our home. This, coming from the girl who grew up in a home without a Bible. If I'm honest and I must be. There have been times where those Bibles have collected dust. Times along my journey where I left my first love. Praise Jesus, there is no dust today. Oh friend,  how His holy Word is wisdom for my weary soul. It gives guidance and love. Discipline and strength. I guess you could say it's a love  map. Today, I simply can't get enough of this love map.

Soon, I was reading the Bible to my children. I was sharing the stories with them that I had learned. This newbie in Christ wanted nothing more than for my children to fall in love with the Word of God. As I read scripture to them, scripture I thought I had known, I learned even more. It's amazing to pick up the Living Word of God and read a scripture you have read a hundred times and still gain more insight than ever before. There is always something new to learn. Something new to share.

The more I seek Him, the more of Him I desire. The more of Him I desire, the more of Himself He shows me. The deeper I dive in, the more my perspective changes. Jesus is all about change and creating. I didn't have to be all cleaned up before He accepted me. I didn't have to change my ways before He entered my heart. All I had to do was surrender to Him and accept Him. He does the rest. Once He enters the heart of man, we are remade. We are born again. The old is gone and the new is being created. Jesus is a miracle worker. If He can a sinner such as me and move me to follow Him, anything is possible. He didn't look at my past and say, "I don't want her". He looked at me, His daughter, and said, "Come to Me, sweet daughter, just as you are. I created you to love me. Let Me take your life and show you My greatest mercies."

I look back in my life when I didn't know Jesus and I can see over and over again times where He was leading me to Him. He was making a way for me to see Him. We are on a divine appointed journey. He has that perfect and exact moment where we meet and all in life changes. He designs us with a desire for more than what this world can give. It's up to us to seek Him and to know Him.

Friends, He is right before you. He has been waiting and anticipating your meeting. He has been praying for you to come and unlock the door to your heart. May today be that day your life changes forever. I don't have all the answers. There is so much to learn. But one thing I do know. My Jesus is real!

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do, and He will show you which path to take."
Proverbs 3:4-5

"Seek the kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and He will give you everything you need."
Matthew 6:33

"Show me the right path, O Lord; point out the road for me to follow. Lead me by Your truth and teach me. All day long I put my hope in You."
Psalm 25:4-5

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

His Love Brings Hope Secure

You know what gives me hope? No matter what circumstances enter my life. No matter how much I change. No matter who enters or leaves my life. Jesus remains the same. He is steadfast and sure. He is present always. How sweet to have hope in Jesus! I can't imagine my life without Him.

We set Him on a shelf and pull Him out when He is needed. He isn't our genie. Our relationship with Him is not a give and take. You give me this and I will give you that game. But isn't that what we do? We tell Him our wants and needs and we expect Him to send each one special delivery. We want to stamp the date on the box and we never want to see a return to sender. We tell Him promises only to break them weeks later. Sometimes  only days later. The wondrous thing about Jesus is the fact that His promises are true and lasting.

We are forever changing people. I'm not the same girl I was twenty years ago. Sure, there are aspects of my personality that are the same, but once I accepted Christ as my Savior, He created a new me. That old chick is long gone. Oh, there are times she shows her face, but she is quickly reminded she has nothing on this new God chick.

Praise Jesus, He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. I just think that is the coolest thing ever! As I am changing from yesterday, to today and tomorrow, He remains the same. Never faltering. Never moving. Yes, that gives me hope. A hope in my Savior. I can trust in Him. 

People are wishy washy, aren't we? We change our minds many times a day. It is such a blessing that our Lord knows the plan for my life. He sees my past, my present and knows my future. He has every last detail planned out. Every breath I take has purpose in His kingdom.

We can take a life time searching for who we are or we can seek Christ today and give Him room in our lives to show us just who we were created to be. I mean, we have His Word to guide us on our journey. We have prayer to allow the Holy Spirit to move through us. Oh, how sweet it is to just be able to be totally honest with Jesus. You know, just to open up and talk with Him gives the heart peace. It eases those difficult days. He has a way of lighting up our life in ways no one else can.

In Him there is total perfection, yet in me, I am a work in progress. Progress that will reach perfection when I meet my Jesus. We are on a growth journey. We are either moving forward or backward. I have learned that there are times where I have had to take few steps back to learn how to take one step forward. Each step has meaning. Each step is a choice. That choice belongs to me. Yes, in Christ, we have freewill. He never forces us to accept Him or His will for lives. He doesn't demand us to surrender to Him. He leaves that choice to us.

Friends, I can tell you, my life became sweeter when I surrendered to Jesus. When I gave Him my heart my life changed forever. When I have my eyes on Jesus my steps tend to take a forward movement, but wow, when I take my eyes off Jesus and place them on me, my steps take a backward slide. But praise His holy name. He is with me on this journey. It's a journey to everlasting. Where He is, I want to me. I never want to be anywhere He isn't.

Whatever today brings, I can know without a doubt my Jesus is with me. He has covered me with His love. He was washed me in His grace and He gives the sweetest mercies. Friends, there is no love like the precious love of Jesus Christ.

"Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever." Hebrews 13:8

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is new creation, old things have passed away, and look, new things have come." 2 Corinthians 5:17

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Love Wrapped With Light

Remember playing with a Lite Brite? You could pick out your design and add the little lights by punching them through the paper. I loved this as a child. I would fill this little gadget full and turn off the light in my room and watch it light up! Think back to how magical this was as a child. Think of the joy. We are to let our Light shine bright. Christmas Day, the day we celebrate the birth of our Savior, is the perfect day to allow our Light glow bright.  

I wake this morning as my husband is driving home from Chicago. My son is just down the hall and Daisy is wrapped up tight laying next to me. My thoughts turn to my Savior and I say, "Happy Birthday, Jesus".

I wonder. Just how do they celebrate His birth in heaven? Are the angels singing? Is all of heaven a glow? Is there dancing? Just what do you get Jesus for Christmas? What is it that He would want more than anything? That's gotta be one whopping birthday cake!

Down here on earth, things look a bit different, don't they?

We all have this perfect vision of what Christmas should be. We dream of a Norman Rockwell Christmas. A home filled with family and friends. We hope to hear from everyone we know. We wish for the greatest gifts under the tree. We dream of snow and merry gatherings. The kitchen smells of homemade cookies and pies. The table is decorated and laced with delicious treats that will be left overs for the next day. We hope for smiles and laughter. To sum it up, we wish for the most wonderful time we could imagine. We dream of perfection.

But perfection does not come and disappoint sets in for a long winters pity party.

We wait for invites to Christmas parties. We wait for the door bell to ring. Our phone is sitting close by as we wait for that call from our children. The weatherman says snow, but as we look out the window, snow isn't in sight. The tree is bare with no gifts under to unwrap.

We turn the radio on with a  hope that Christmas music will shake away our lonely sadness. But it only leaves us longing home of long ago.

Why do we do this to ourselves? It would still be Christmas if there were no tree, no gifts, and no guests. It's still Christmas without snow and carolers gathered at the door. Whether our phone is ringing off the hook or if the drive way is empty of cars, it's still Christmas.

All of heaven is celebrating the birth of our Savior. Friends, we have reason to celebrate, but we allow the ways of the world to bring us down. We measure the happiness of our day  by the commercial worldly standard. May I just add, this isn't a holiday, but a celebration! We look at it all wrong. Somewhere along the way our vision of this day has been altered. Lets exchange the world view for a heavenly view.

Why do we wait for this idea of a perfect Christmas and count on that to make it a grand day to remember? Why can't we just fill our hearts with Christmas cheer of the joy from our Savior's birth?

You know, I wonder today, how many of us are really celebrating the birth of our Savior. Hey, I'm right there with you, friends. We get so lost in the idea of what Christmas is to be. We count our Christmas blessings on whether our stockings are full. But in the end, it's not our stockings that matter.

We can be alone and have the most wondrous day. We already have the best gift that money can't buy. Nothing created on this earth by man's hands can even come close to what our Savior has given us. He gave Himself. He is our gift. He is our life. He is our joy. He is our Everything. He is the Light of the world.

Christmas isn't about all that other stuff. We make it that way, don't we? We measure our Christmas by the world's standards and that is just the wrong attitude to have. We wait on others to make us smile. We wait on someone else to wish us Merry Christmas. Friends, pick up the phone today and call someone and make their day. Christmas is simply about love and nothing more. Everything else is just decoration.

We celebrated our Christmas with our family a few days ago. We shared a Christmas breakfast and opened up gifts. Today our home is quiet. I have music quietly playing in the back ground. It smells of sausage and french toast. Daisy is now curled up on the couch and Jake is off visiting his grandparents. Our children are all celebrating with other family and friends.

I'm going to wait for my husband to get home and he will rest this evening and leave again tomorrow with another lay over. So, why am I sharing this with you? To tell you that Christmas is what we make of it. Don't leave your joy up to someone else. I pray your heart finds the truest meaning of Christmas today.

I could sit here today and be sad that my dad isn't here to share in this day. But again, he is in heaven and I can only imagine the celebration taking place there. So, I look back and remember. I take joy in the time we had to share. Sweet memories make the heart soar.

Lets think for a bit. The hospitals are filled with people today. There are families who are mourning the loss of their loved ones. Nursing homes have rooms that are filled with elderly who many times have no one to visit them. People are working and away from home today. Soldiers are stationed all over the world today waking to a whole different scene that what we can imagine. Hearts are hurting and people are in need. Some have no home today. There are those who have no food. A job would be at the top of their Christmas list. Our country is in need of great repair.

Today I think of the family of our friend, Walter, who just went home to meet His Jesus. Our friends, the Reeds, who just said good-bye to sweet Beth. My sister is mourning the loss of her boyfriend, Jim. Flags are still flying at half staff. People are tired today. They are weak and burdened. There is a sadness that is deep and isn't going away anytime soon for these families.

Friends, Christmas can live within our heart. Oh, how I wish we could all get in through our heads that it isn't about how many gifts we collect. It's about Jesus. It's about love. It's about giving from the heart. It's reaching out and touching your neighbor with kindness. It's looking beyond our own needs and filling those of others. Christmas is sharing Christ.

Toss perfection out the window and celebrate today as Jesus would want you to. I can't answer as to how that would be for you. That's something between just you and your Savior. Enjoy today and spend it as if it were your last Christmas here. Is there someone who needs forgiveness? Is there someone you have walked away from and your relationship needs rekindled? Friends, don't wait for your phone to ring. Pick up your phone and make the call. Don't wait for someone else to make your Christmas one to remember. Create your Christmas memories today. Be the love this world needs. Be the giving hand. Be the heart of prayer.

As all of heaven sings, "Hallelujah" today, raise your hands in praise of the One who came and is coming again.

"You are the light of the world. A city situated on a hill cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and puts it under a basket, but rather on a lamp stand, and it gives a light for all who are in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven." Matthew 5:14-16

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas From My Nest To Yours

Friends, I want to wish each of you a Merry Christmas. For those of you who take time to stop in at my nest, I just want you to know you bless me. When you share with me, from your heart to mine, I am overwhelmed with gratitude. This is my little spot to share the Jesus I know. It's my little home to share how my life is richer just by knowing my Savior and having a relationship with Him. I get to share my happiness and sadness with you all. It's the place where I can be totally honest and unveil my heart that so longs to follow Christ and His example. I fall short. I am a sinner. But by His grace I have been saved. Hallelujah!

Christmas is not always what we expect. We dream of happiness and peace. We dream of snow and a home filled with laughter. We have pictured in our minds a work of perfection. Circumstance has a way of changing our attitude at Christmas. If all is well, we have a great Christmas. If something is missing we call it a bad year.

Friends, Christmas isn't determined by our circumstance. Christmas is the season of hope because it is when we celebrate our Savior's birth. Jesus came into the world to save us. When we keep our focus on Him and only Him, it changes our view.

My husband and I have five children between us, which makes our family complete. It's not always easy for us to celebrate on Christmas Day, so we take turns and we just get together when we can. It just so happened last Saturday we shared Christmas breakfast together. This just may be a new tradition in our family. It was wonderful to share breakfast, to open gifts and just share in laughter and good times.

Friends, celebrate where you are. Make your day special, no matter the circumstance or who is with you. Worship our King and His birth. Share His love with others. Listen to Christmas music you love. Break out the scrapbooks. Whether your sharing a huge dinner of ham and fixings or a bowl of tomato soup with grilled cheese, smile and enjoy each moment. Don't just dream of a perfect holiday, live the precious moment in the hope that Christ has given us. Most of all, spend time with our Savior. Read about His birth in Luke 1-3. I read these chapters and find myself in awe of this Babe who was sent to be the Savior of the world.

Enjoy your worship. Attend a children's Christmas play. Grab a few old classics and add some popcorn to the tree. Be where you are and enjoy each moment. There are blessings just waiting for us to unwrap. We just first have to realize the gift before us. Don't waste your time comparing your Christmas to those of your friends. Don't worry about who is coming and who is not. Enjoy those you are with and pray for those who are not in your company. Christmas begins in the heart and as we seek our Savior, some how something magical happens, and His light is spread to warm the hearts of those we meet.

Have that winter wonderland in your heart. Pray for your family and friends. Be thankful for the blessings you have and spend time blessing others. Lets continue this season of hope that Christ has given us and share His love with all we meet.

Merry Christmas and many sweet blessings to you!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

He Gave All

Isaiah 53:3-12

"He was despised and rejected
by men, a man of suffering who knew what sickness was.
He was like someone people turned away from;
He was despised, and we didn't value Him.
Yet He Himself bore our sicknesses,
and He carried our pains;
but we in turn regarded Him stricken,
struck down by God, and afflicted.
But He was pierced because of our transgressions,
crushed because of our iniquities;
punishment for our peace was on Him,
and we are healed by His wounds.
We all went astray like sheep;
we all have turned to our own way;
and the Lord has punished Him for the iniquity of us all.
He was oppressed and afflicted,
yet He did not open His mouth.
Like a lamb led to the slaughter and like a sheep silent
before the shearers,
He did not open His mouth.
He was taken away because of oppression and judgement;
and who considered His fate?
For He was struck because of our rebellion.
They made His grave with the wicked
and with a rich man
at His death,
although He had done no violence
and had not spoken deceitfully.
Yet the Lord was pleased to crush Him
When You make Him a restitution offering,
He will see His seed, He will prolong His days,
and by His hand, the Lord's pleasure
will be accomplished.
He will see it out of His anguish,
and He will be satisfied
with His knowledge.
My righteous Servant
will justify many,
and He will carry their iniquities.
Therefore I will give Him the many as a portion,
and He will receive the mighty as spoil,
because He submitted Himself to death,
and was counted
among rebels;
yet He bore the sin of many
and interceded for the rebels."

Sunday, December 16, 2012

A Prayer For the Reed Family And Friends Update

This is a post I wrote on January 4, 2011. I am posting once again here on September 27, 2012. I am now giving you all an update.

Beth fought a long battle with cancer. Friends, she has gained victory. She went home to be with her Savior Saturday December 15. Her journey has not ended, but in many ways has just begun. Her legacy will live on in the lives of all that loved her. She touched many through her contagious giving heart. She was a woman of God. She walked in faith and she is now seeing her Savior face to face. Praise Jesus!

Beth's memorial will be held on Wednesday, December 18th at 10:00am at Bethel Baptist Church. Visitation will be held on Tuesday from 2:00-8:00pm on December 17th at Russel Funeral home in St. Clair, Missouri.

Friends, I am asking that you pray for Beth's dear family during this time. This morning she is in heaven with Jesus Christ, her Savior. There are times He heals us here on earth and others that He brings complete healing in heaven. Beth has not lost her battle, but has gained complete healing in the arms of Jesus. She is victorious in her battle!  She leaves a legacy of  inspiration to live strong in faith and to walk with grace as we travel this unknown journey. Beth would tell you that no matter the circumstance you face, Jesus is your strength, and with Him all things are possible. Just thinking of her brings a smile to my face. We will miss her sweet face while we are on this earth, but one day we will meet up again and sing praises together in all of God's glory.

Below is Beth's story and the address to her home church if you would like to share a card with the family or just share words of comfort. Blessings to those who have prayed and I am so grateful for your prayers.

To the entire Reed family my heart and prayers are with you.


I am asking you to please join me in prayer for Beth and to please share this prayer so that the floors of heaven will be saturated. As Christians, as prayer warriors, God calls us to pray for those in need. Can you imagine if we all come together in prayer, just what will happen? God is so good and prayer carries His mighty strength.

You may say, "I don't know, Beth", but friend, if you did, you would call her friend. She is quiet and has a tender spirit. I can tell you, she loves the Green Bay Packers! As our ladies at church have gathered for many destinations, Beth is always that lady who speaks up and says, "I'll drive". She has a heart filled with compassion and she is always ready to do the Lord's work.

She is a friend who needs a miracle. A friend who is my sister in Christ. She is part of my church, which makes her family. We have attended church together for years now. I have watched her children grow into adulthood, to have the same loving heart as their momma.

Beth Reed is a woman of God, a wife, a mother, sister, grandmother and friend. Beth is fighting a battle. Her battle is cancer. Although Beth has fought many battles throughout her life. I am sure if you asked her, she would say this by far is the greatest she has ever faced.

Beth is blessed as she is surrounded by her husband, Gordon, and all her children. This is one of the sweetest, most giving families I know. Beth is quiet and content. She is a giver and servant of God. She is a woman I admire. I cannot imagine the trial that Beth and her family are enduring. But I do know where her strength comes from. Beth is rooted in her faith in Christ. Does that mean she isn't fearful? Not at all. Who wouldn't be? But, Beth faces her fear head on. She is fighter. She knows that Christ is her strength. He is her Refuge.

I cannot imagine the burdens that this family are carrying today, but Jesus does. He knows the trials that are touching them. As you can see, I first posted this a year ago in January. This has been a long battle. A journey not expected, but one that has been traveled by this sweet and tender family.

She is an inspiration for those watching her face this battle she did not ask for. Beth isn't that girl who asks, "Why me, Lord?" She is that woman who says, "Okay, what now, Lord?"

I am asking you, my friends, I am begging you, to pray for Beth and her family. To lay them at the foot of the cross and ask God to bring healing to their hurting hearts. To wash them in His mighty strength and surround them with a love that is greater than any mountain to be crossed, along with peace that surpasses all understanding. Encouragement and inspiration as they face each day. Pray that God's blessings be showered upon them as they close their eyes each night. Pray for God's will in Beth's life. This is the prayer she would ask for. Pray for healing from this cancer that rages throughout her body. This disease has taken its toll on her body. She is tired. Beth is weary, but she isn't giving up. She knows God is faithful and true and she can trust in His promises. She too knows that He is in control.

Beth, as part of  your church family who loves you, we lift you up in prayer. As your friend, I send  encouragement, love and hugs your way. As your sister, my heart is with you. I hope you know just how loved you are.  You are an example to us all.

It would be a tremendous blessing if you could reach out to Beth. As you can imagine her family has a great many needs right now. Please send Beth Reed a card. Here is the address of our church. As you send a card here, it will be given to the Reed family.
Bethel Baptist Church
569 Bethel Church Road
Lonedell, MO. 63060

"Have you never heard? Have you never understood? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth. He never grows weak or weary. No one can measure the depths of His understanding. He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless. Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion. But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint." Isaiah 40:28-31

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Create Memories of Laughter With Your Babies

When I married my husband at the sweet age of twenty-three I had no idea how to cook. That isn't the picture a husband has in his mind. After all, don't they say, the way to a man's heart is through his stomach? This young bride was going to have to figure out another way into his heart. It sure wasn't going to be through the kitchen.

Well, I knew how to make five dishes. I could do beans and corn bread, hamburgers and fries, vegetable soup, chili, and pizza, which I might add that was out of a box. Oh sure, if it was out of a box I could follow those directions pretty easily. Not that those things were the most delicious meals put together, but I gave it my greatest effort. The kitchen was not so friendly to me.

When I was a little girl I was never allowed in the kitchen. I always asked my mom if I could help and her answer to me was, "I can do it much faster and do it without a mess". That wasn't the answer I was looking for, especially when my friends were always cooking with her moms. I never even made cookies with my mom. I don't remember a time at all that we made anything in the kitchen.

Stepping away from the kitchen to the bedroom wasn't much better. I hardly knew how to make a bed. Oh, I think I did just fine, but if you asked my mom, she would have just removed the quilt and sheets and did it all over. This happened so often that pretty soon I wasn't even allowed to make my bed. I would ready for school and she would make my bed and clean my room after I was off to school. I never tucked the corners right and I always had wrinkles in the spread. To this day I can walk by my bed and straighten the quilt. That fitted sheet always gave me problems. I never knew how to fold it properly and that drove my mom mad.

Washing clothes? Are you kidding me? I might have done that wrong too. So, I knew how to do pretty much of nothing when I married. Growing up I felt as though whatever I attempted was corrected because some where along the way I had done it wrong. I know this was not my moms intention. She just wanted things done her way and she knew how to do them. Maybe she just needed to feel needed. I truly think she enjoyed doing everything for me and my dad. The thing was, I don't think she realized just how much she was hurting me in the long run.

I remember being a little girl and I wasn't allowed to play in my room after it was cleaned and after she made my bed I sure wasn't allowed to sit on it with my dolls.

My mom was from that generation that everything had to be neat and tidy. She spent her days cleaning and preparing meals. Our home was always immaculate. Nothing out of place. I applaud my mom for her hard work and her generous heart, but I missed her. Looking back I can't even remember a time where we just played. I missed her.

There were times she had to work outside the home, so when she came home she worked in a frenzy to accomplish all her tasks at hand. She was a hard working mom. But I missed her.

So, why would I share all of this with you? So your children don't miss you. Do more than be there. Be present in their lives. Be active.  Play and have fun. Make believe and make that kitchen a total mess. Take the blankets off the bed and make a tent city. Eat cookies in bed while you watch movies. Make up stories and play dress up. Let your babies wear your high heals and apply that beloved lip stick. Make a birthday cake just because and celebrate each day with a passion.

Sure we must be teachers to our children. We must give them the tools they need to grow into adulthood. We want them to soar and do more and have more than we ever did. This is all good, but what is it to teach our children without laughter? Time spent with our children means more to them than any gift under the tree. Presents cannot take the place of presence. I needed the time to have my mom show me how to do things to prepare me for life. I also simply needed her to spend time playing with me. That is something I miss dearly. I envy others who have those memories of baking at Christmas and catching fireflies after dark.

It's okay if the bed isn't made and the dishes are still in the sink. Friends, there will always be time to do cleaning. There will not always be time to make memories with your babies. That time goes by so very quickly. If anything get that sink filled with bubbles and wash dishes with your children as you blow bubbles through the kitchen.

I look back and wish my mom would have paid less attention to the floors needing vacuumed and more attention to me needing her. I wish she would have played paper dolls with me and made angels in the new snow.

Keep your jammies on and have a fun day. Do things your babies love to do. You just might learn to enjoy it too. Take time and read, color and paint. Make cookies and dive into those chips and dip. Make time for your family and for each child just one on one. Make memories that bring smiles forever to your children.

I couldn't play out in the cold and couldn't stay up past my bedtime. My mom lived in total fear that she would lose me. I was that baby in intensive care on my first birthday. Christmas was spent in the I.C.U. It seemed I was always sick. From Pneumonia to falling down the steps. It was like she wanted to protect me from everything, but in doing so I wasn't allowed to discover me. I wasn't allowed to explore and just be a little girl who wanted to just run and climb trees. Oh, I climbed trees and ran through the corn fields, just no one knew. But how much more fun would it have been with my mom by my side.

Growing up I knew my mom was always there to take care of me. Gosh, the first sign of a cough her hand was on my forehead checking my temperature. She was a mother filled with love. I think she just didn't know how to express it. She came from a large family of boys. Being the oldest and the only girl it was her job to take care of the rest. She grew up fast in the cotton fields and there was no time for play. I think she probably missed out on just about as much as I did.

I love my mom. She would do anything at all for me. I learned much from growing up with a mom so concerned with housework and keeping things in order. I learned to let lose with my children. It wasn't so easy at first. My mom's traits were there to follow me. Do you know today I never fold my fitted sheets. I Just grab them and kind of wad them up in a square. lol I know that sounds kind of quirky, but it's a way for me to let go and realize everything doesn't have to be perfect.

So what if company comes and the living room is a mess with toys scattered and spilled cool aid on the carpet. Here's the thing. Learn to giggle. Let yourself laugh with your kids. Give yourself room to be messy. Life is so short and time is precious. Would you rather have a clean house of perfection or a child well rounded and happy?

My kids had clean rooms, but they were allowed to messy. It's funny, when our grand babes are here it just doesn't much matter to me what is spilled or if something gets broken. Friends, stuff is stuff. Our babies is what truly matters and when we allow them to simply play it fills there hearts and they soar. Just giving our time gives them room to dream and grow.

I home schooled my children. When asked by a home school group what advice would I give to a mom who was home schooling her kids my answer was, make time to play. Make time to explore with your kids. I remember my oldest daughter, stick in hand, exploring the back yard and claiming it for Columbus. My son used our drive way to make ramps for his dump trucks and our back yard for his army men. My youngest daughter picked every flower possible and created an office made of cardboard in her bedroom. Frogs, lizards and wild cats were frequent members in our home. Okay, the cats didn't go over so well, but the others did.

We went to the library each week and gathered books until they were all read. We started over and I learn to make up stories for them. We played softball and kickball in the yard. Snow meant grabbing every possible warm piece of clothing and running outside. We would put curlers in our hair that made us look like we had reached our finger in a socket much too long. We face painted with a chocolate cake. Yes, our son was put in a dress way too many times, but it brought such laughter and sweet memories. Our kids used our old encyclopedias and lined the hallway wall with them creating condos for the barbies who happened to be married to G.I Joes.

Live your time with your babies as it's just you and them. Keep a journal, penning each day you have created blessings. One day your babies will grow and read the words their momma penned and realize just how blessed they were. My babies grew me to be the woman I am today. Precious are the memories we hold.  I pray I can be that Nanny that leaves a legacy of love and fun behind that teaches my grandchildren to live with laughter and joy.

Friends, this is how dreams are created. We teach our children to soar by allowing them to simply be children.

"The best things you can give children, next to good habits, are good memories." Sydney J. Harris

"Your children need your presence more than your presents." Jesse Jackson

"Do not ask that your kids live up to your expectations. Let your kids be who they are, and your expectations will be in breathless pursuit. Robert Brault

"Each day of our lives we make deposits in the memory banks of our children." Charles R. Swindoll

"You will always be your child's favorite toy."  Vicki Lansky

If I had my child to raise all over again,

I'd build self-esteem first, and the house later.
I'd finger-paint more, and point the finger less.
I would do less correcting and more connecting.
I'd take my eyes off my watch, and watch with my eyes.
I'd take more hikes and fly more kites.
I'd stop playing serious, and seriously play.
I would run through more fields and gaze at more stars.
I'd do more hugging and less tugging.    Diane Loomans

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Reconstruction Of The Heart

Here in Missouri we have a lot of reconstruction taking place on our highways. For those who travel these familiar roads, it can be a difficult adjustment. Many try to divert these pathways and steer clear. Some don't pay attention to the construction signs that say, slow down or detour.  It takes time and it causes change in all those who travel this route. I suppose the outcome is all a matter of choice.  The outcome is better roads, safer roads and an easier route without so much congestion.

God's reconstruction isn't always how we would map out the blueprints. We tend to sit back and ponder the details not fully seeing the entire pathway. If we are honest, most of the time, we are searching for an easier route for us to ride. We don't enjoy bumpy roads and this girl sure doesn't like curves I'm not ready for. I am one to get car sick. But what if we looked at reconstruction as a whole?

I have become a girl of change. I love change. I'm ready for change. As long as it's my kind of change. It should be easy change, right? Well, I don't think the Lord sees it that way. He wants us to be motivated for change and prepared for the journey. It wants us to have hope in His design, not complaining, but boldly saying, we are ready for whatever is to come.

Have you ever changed your furniture around? I do this a lot. I mean, a lot. So much so that when my husband would return home from a trip he would carefully maneuver through the living room. He got use to bumping into things and had enough toe run ins with the legs of our couch that he soon learned to be aware that things may have changed. So instead of running full speed ahead, he slowed down and took his time. Hmm..this is something we are not akin to, are we? Change is okay as long as it doesn't affect us. Friends, change affects everyone. Change is a like a ripple in the water. It reaches everyone. For this reason, it is so important for us to follow the leadership of the Lord. For too long I traveled about on my own, thinking this "Fixer" knew what was right for all those I loved. Pretty soon, I felt the nudging of the Lord. Okay, maybe not a nudge, but a shove to get me out of the way. He didn't need me arguing with Him about what was right and what should happen.

Sometimes the road long is the road that helps us see the clearest. Of course, the best route is to totally follow the Lord, but stubborn people like us don't often take that route. God is prepared for that. He knows us better than anyone else. When we turn left instead of right, He sees. He's prepared and He is ready to steer us back to the right path. He will place roadblocks, detours and many stop signs to grab our attention.

A few years ago I had thyroid surgery. My entire thyroid was removed, leaving me with a scar. Going into to surgery, the surgeon was prepared for anything. My thyroid and my goiter had grown backwards and wrapped around my windpipe. What should have taken forty-five minutes took three hours. This left me with a scar and a life time of medication. I wasn't prepared for my scar or the year long journey back to health. But the Lord was prepared. He had foreseen my surgery and He knew every last detail. He knew that year of reconstruction in my health was going to get my body back to where it should be. A healthy state. But in order to get there I had to travel a road that was not a bucket of laughter. He was long and hard. At times it was scary, but you know what? I made it. My faith grew and I learned to live with the scar that would remain forever. When people see my scar, I now I have a story to share with them. Not just any story, but a story of miracles (That will come later) and one of healing with the reconstruction of my Savior.

We often think change is devastating. We go through much in life, don't we? Things unexpected. But friends, God uses those unexpected journeys to bring about possibilities to share His goodness and glory. If everything was expected and went the way we think it should, would we really call upon the Lord? Would we really seek Him? I think that may be an answer we are not ready to own.

Over the years my husband has been laid off from time to time. The longest was for three years. God has prepared us. We knew what to expect, but not three years of change. I can tell you, theses three years changed our lives. We grew in faith. Our marriage grew. We became closer than ever. We witnessed God do things in our life that we could have never imagined. Although this time of reconstruction was a difficult road, I saw my husband grow into the man God was creating him to be. He grew to depend on the Lord more and more. Our lives became a witness of what God can do when all seems hopeless. Friends, there is always hope. Hope remains.

We have recently been visiting other churches. This is a huge change for us after attending the same church for twenty years. This is the only church I have ever known. It's been home. God grew me in this church. So, as we visit other churches each Sunday, God is reconstructing our hearts. Although this change is uncomfortable, God is doing a work in my heart. I'm learning more. I'm seeing new ways in which to worship. God is introducing new people in my life and bringing me to a new place in my worship.

See, the thing is, we are all a work in progress. Reconstruction is always taking place in our lives. God know the outcome. He knows what He is wanting to create in us. He has given us every tool we need for the journey. It's our choice whether we look to Him for the pathways or if we step out on our own. When I follow Him I feel it in my heart. I know I am right where He is calling me to be. When I travel out on my own I soon know I'm in the wrong place. When I look to the Lord for the pathway back to Him, He is quick to guide me and bring me back.

This month I will turn forty-six. I've never really feared getting older, but for women, body change is a difficult process to swallow. I mean, cellulite enters our life and okay, just where does that come from and why don't men struggle with this? Okay, back on subject..I like being forty-five. It's like the cool age and most of all, I really like myself. I'm growing into the girl God has created me to be. I'm not that same girl I was at twenty-two. He has done a lot of reconstruction in my life. Some I didn't quite understand at the time, but as I grow into who I am to be, I'm able to see just what He had in mind. It all comes together in His perfect plan for our lives. Which is to bring glory and honor to Him.

So friends, don't fear change. Allow God to reconstruct your lives. Prepare yourself by digging deep into His Word and walking with Him. The more time we spend with Him the more we get to know Him. By the way, the more I know of Him, the more I learn of myself.

Don't become stagnant in your walk. Don't just settle for what is, but see what God has in store for you. It might not look like a blessing at the time, but believe me, He is in the blessing business. Give Him your path and trust Him for the journey. Change the heart, change the man.

"Throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God-truly righteous and holy." Ephesians 4:22-24

"This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!" 2 Corinthians 5:17

"This is why we never give up. Through our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won't last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don't look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on the things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever." 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

"For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for Me wholeheartedly, you will find Me." Jeremiah 29:11-12

Monday, December 10, 2012

"A Man Of Honor" written by Loree Lough

I have been honored to receive and review many of Loree's books. The "First Responders Series" has been a favorite and I promise, "A Man Of Honor", will not disappoint. It will leave you blessed and wanting more of these blessed characters. Loree is one of the very few gifted writers that brings reality to her penned words. I've read many novels that bless, but Loree adds something more. Every novel doesn't end with the happy ending we long to see happen. She shows the lasting impact that Christ can bring through every situation according to His purpose and plan. I find real beauty in this.

Honor is grown through circumstance and trial. We learn to put down self and allow Christ to live through us. We die to self and put others first. This is what Dusty Parker has done with his life. He has chosen to give. He has given his life to Christ and laid down his rocky past, trusting Christ to turn his present into a lasting future that holds promise. I admire his character and his integrity. He is a man to look up to and one that changes the lives of others by opening up his self and his past. He shares how Jesus has changed his life for the better, giving praise where praise is due.

Grace is one of those characters you just fall in love with. She holds a strength that surpasses anything found in this world alone. She knows who to call upon in times of trouble. She seeks her Savior in every situation. Even though everything is always changing, she knows her Savior remains the same. She opens her home and her heart. I can only hope to be half the woman she is.

We learn forgiveness and hospitality to all. Throughout this novel we learn about hope and change through simply loving those around us with a Christ-like love. Honor comes from giving self and Grace can stand in honor right along with Dusty. Through their lives they leave a legacy sure to live on for generations to come.

We too can learn what reaching out beyond our comfort zone can do. God is bigger than our deepest fears. He can bring joy in the moment when we are unsure of the outcome.

This is a novel that brought tears and left me with a great joy. We see the affects that 9/11 has on these characters. They are rich and real. They feel pain and understand that they can overcome with faith. We get to see each of them grow as they let go and allow love to touch them. I love walking away from a novel having learned powerful lessons while being blessed by a wondrous story. Honor is a calling. It is one to be lived out in faith.

If your looking for a great series, Loree Lough, is a gifted writer, who will bless your socks off. This would make for a wonderful Christmas gift for that book lover in your life. It's filled with love, giving, redemption, healing and overcoming loss.

You can find this book published by Abingdon Press.

This book was a gift from Loree Lough. Look for, "For Love of Eli", out February 2013

Bestselling author LOREE LOUGH once sang for her supper, performing all across the U.S. and Canada. Now and then, she blows the dust from her 6-string to croon a tune or two, but mostly, she just writes (88 novels that earned hundreds of industry and "Readers' Choice" awards and 4- and 5-star reviews). Loree enjoys sharing learned-the-hard-way lessons about the craft and the industry; her comedic approach makes her a favorite lecturer for writers' organizations, book clubs, private and government institutions, and college and high school writing programs in the U.S. and abroad. A writer who believes in giving back, Loree dedicates a generous portion of her income to favorite charities. (Click the "Giving Back" tab at Loree and her real-life hero split their time between a home in the Baltimore suburbs and a cabin in the Allegheny Mountains, where she loves showing off her "identify the critter tracks" skills.

The Lord Will Move In Your Fear

Do you live with fear? Last night a friend and I were sharing our fears. Only those close to me know that I battle anxiety. It started over ten years ago. When my panic attacks first arrived to greet me I seriously thought I was dying. I had no idea what was happening to me. I was fearful to go to sleep at night. I was pretty much fearful of everything. When they first started, I stayed awake for days at a time, in fear that I would die in my sleep. They came at the same time my migraines really hit hard. So,  I was totally thrown for a loop. I felt as though a noose was around my neck and the horse was gonna bolt at any time. Living in fear is not living. 

Over the years they have gotten much better. I've been under the care of some amazing doctors who have helped me get it under control. But my attacks still come. Most of the time out of no where. I have learned all the signs that one is coming. Many times a migraine will follow. We aren't sure if the migraines caused the panic or the panic caused the migraines. Either way, it is a toxic combination for me. Let me tell you, my migraines also brought a deep fear.

You just gotta love those people who say, "It's all in your head", or "Just learn to breathe through it". I've had people in my life who haven't understood. Some think it's a weakness. I've even had people say, "Maybe your just not right with the Lord". Really? I gotta tell ya, that one hurts. I'm sure some just think of me as being far from my faith. That couldn't be further from the truth. But for the most part I have been blessed to have loving people surround me. One of those being my husband who is forever at my side.

My faith has grown through my fears. Yes, I know, people say there is no fear in faith. I have heard it said that, fear is the absence of faith. Not so. It is through my fear that I have found my Savior holding my hand. I have witnessed Him calming force wash over me. I have seen His strength move through me. It is my fear that call upon the Lord. He forever answers. He is my Keeper. He is my Calm in the storm. When the tears are flowing when I'm in the midst of an attack He is there to weather the storm with me. There are times He removes that attack and there too are times when the attack remains, but He provides me with all I need to get through. I know with my Savior at my side everything is going to be all right.

It has been in my deepest fears that I found how strong and mighty the Lord is. It is when you feel like your at the end and you have nothing that you find you have everything in Christ.

I have fear of big crowds and being alone in the midst of a mob. This could be why this girl has never gone out to shop on Black Friday. I hate elevators. One of the sweetest gestures from my husband occurs when we step into a crowed elevator. He gently takes my hand. He knows the fear that is about to erupt from inside me. Just feeling his gentle hand brings comfort to me. Lately I have even feared driving. We all have some kind of fear. The thing is, does it hold us back from living? In my case, for many years it truly did. I was in fear in leaving home because I had no idea when a  panic attack would hit and then what would I do?

Over time I have learned to accept my panic attacks. My panic attacks have been due to my thyroid, or lack of one if you will. It's one of the signs that my thyroid meds are not working as they should. So, if you could call a panic attack a gift, it's my cue to go in and see my doctor to have blood work done. Sure, I pray the Lord will remove them, but so far, He hasn't. He has brought comfort to me and has given me strength to face each and every one. Just knowing I'm not alone makes all the difference. But see, I believe He has used these attacks to bring me closer to Him. Remember, God can bring beauty from ash. He can take our darkest moments and bring light to them.

He has taught me much about myself through my fears. Most of all, He has taught me to simply open my hand to Him and surrender all. Friends, this is one of the fears I have struggled with. Losing control. Now this one is a mind game because there isn't much we have control over. So, I had to come to totally trust my Savior. No matter what happens in my life He is there. He is there before it happens. He is there during the circumstance and He will be there long after all others have left.

I have struggled with the fear of failure. There are times I am soaring high and others where I feel so very small. In my lowness I cry out to the Lord and He lifts me up above my fears and gives me encouragement to press onward, never giving up, but always trusting Him.

I have heard His voice in the dark of the night. I have felt Him take my hand as I sit in the silence of my truck. He has moved from the pages of His read Word and has given me hope. He has delivered me through those fears that try to hold me captive. Strength rises as the Lord fills us with empowering hope that reminds us that we can conquer all through our Savior, Jesus Christ. There is nothing that can hold us back when we call upon the Lord.

"We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because He has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with His love." Romans 5:3-5

"For You are my hiding place; You protect me from trouble. You surround me with songs of victory." Psalm 32:7

"God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble." Psalm 46:1

"Be still and know that I am God!" Psalm 46:10a

"For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control." 2 Timothy 1:7

"Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." Isaiah 41:10

When I'm alone at night and fear hits me I open the Word of the Lord. One of the verses that has brought me comfort and strength is Hebrews 4:12-13. Just knowing He knows every detail of my life brings a peace. It lifts up past my fear and gives me the assurance that through all my Savior is there with me and it is through Him that I find victory.

"For the Word of the God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. Nothing in ALL creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before His eyes, and He is the One to whom we are accountable."

So with each new day I press on, knowing the God of my Salvation, is in total control of my life. He was there from the beginning and He will remain with me until that pure moment of grace when we meet face to face. This life cannot give me perfection. I will face fears and trials I don't want to experience, but through it all, Jesus is there to guide me to safety. It is in His arms I my refuge.

"I don't mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing; Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling." Philippians 3:12-14

What fears are you facing today? Are you afraid of what is to come? Are you facing an illness your not prepared for and didn't see coming? Is it those who are unsaved that stir your heart to fear? Is it losing your loved ones? Failure? Exposure? Could it be just letting go? We face all kinds of fear on a daily basis. Mine just happens to be met face to face as anxiety. But this is nothing God can't handle. Run to Jesus today. Call upon His name. He can bring a calm. He can stir a prayer. The Holy Spirit is with us, alive and present, ready to move on our behalf. Friends, don't let your fears control you. Meet them face to face, head on, with the knowledge that Christ has the victory. You too can have victory over your fears through letting go and trusting the mighty Savior, who is bigger than any Goliath we will ever encounter.

"We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies." 2 Corinthians 4:8-10

Lord Jesus, may You bring healing today for those hurting. Bring comfort to those facing fear. Surround those facing fear with a strength that can only come from Your mighty hand. Remove all doubt and fear from those facing trials today. Ease their burden and give them a peace that surpasses all understanding. Remove their chains of bondage today and bring them a life of freedom. Jesus, thank You. Thank You for being with me and allowing me to face my fears. Giving me all I need to soar above them trusting You are in control of all. As they breathe You in, may You release in them victory that conquers all fear.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Where's Your Nineveh?

We can read the account of Jonah and know that God was sending him to Nineveh to shout at the roof tops. He was to tell them Judgement was coming. He was to give them a warning. Only Jonah didn't want to go. He turned and went in the opposite direction. In his disobedience to God he found himself in the belly of a big fish for three days. Jonah found himself crying out to God. "Then Jonah prayed to the Lord for God from inside the fish. He said,'I cried out to the Lord in my great trouble,and He answered me.'" Jonah 2:1 Jonah's prayer continues through verse 10. Jonah now finds himself being spit out from the whale. We see God calling out to Jonah one more time. This time Jonah is a little more quick to answer the call. He obeys and goes to Nineveh. Funny, how we listen that second time. Can you imagine our lives if we listened the first time every time?

Too many times God is calling me one way and I run the other. Where is your Nineveh today? Where is God calling you? What is He calling you to? Who is He calling you to? We hear His call, but in fear we run the other way. We run for many reasons really. Sometimes we are too caught up in ourselves and we are just plain old selfish. Others we are afraid of failure. We are fearful that we will be rejected by those we are to face. What will I say? What will I do when I face my Nineveh? Whatever our reason, doesn't it all come down to fear? God will never call us to something without empowering us with all we need.

God was calling Jonah to go and warn the people of Nineveh, but many times He is calling us to forgiveness. He is asking us to be the bigger person. He is asking us to reach out to the one who has hurt us. To reach for those dreams. To take that new job. To move out of state or out of country. To help one you've never met. To give of our time. To invite that stranger to know Christ.  He is asking us to be His hands and feet. We are called to do His work and in fear we run. We run for the boat and then we end up jumping ship because we don't like where that road has taken us. We not only see Jonah run, but we see him angry at God for not doing what Jonah thought he should do.

Ever find yourself there? You hear God's calling and you go, but what happens? Not what you expected, right? We want that other person to accept us. We want to find forgiveness when we ask of it by the one we have hurt. We want to simply be accepted in love. We want others to listen as we show them to Jesus. Like Jonah we seem to want revenge. We want judgment on our enemies. We want to see God move in the way we wish, but it just simply isn't our place to do the planning. Oh, we can plan all we want, but shouldn't we be praying for God's will? Too many times I find myself praying for my own self desires.

When God calls us all we are to do is simply answer. In answering and following His will, He will do the rest. He is working behind the scenes after we have spoken and turned to leave. He is still in that home after we have shared the gospel. He is in the heart of the one needing forgiveness. He is in that gift we have shared with a stranger. Everything is in God's perfect timing.

Wherever your Nineveh is today go in faith. Don't let your fear hold you back. In our obedience to God we will find blessings we never expected. It is when we choose not to listen and go the other way that we find ourselves outside of Him and His will. The powerful thing is, no matter how far we stray He is there ready to accept us in love and grace. Don't jump ship today. Find your way to your Nineveh. In faith you will find yourselves on solid ground. Don't fear the call. Walk in boldness knowing God will guide each of your steps to victory.

Philippians 2:3-5 "Don't be selfish; don't try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don't look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had."

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Have You Heard I'm Proud Of You?

I had recently showed my husband an article I wrote that was in Christian Women's Voice magazine. He quietly sat at the table and read my penned words and soon he had tears. He reached for my hand and said, "I'm so proud of you". Hearing those words from him just about made my feet come off the floor. My heart was beating just a little quicker as those words soaked in.

I heard these uplifting words from those close to me. So, when I sat this magazine down before my mom, I was anticipating hearing that she was proud of me. This is not what happened. My heart sank as she said, "Oh, is this all?" I could feel the tears welling up and ready to flow, but  holding them back, I smiled and said, "Yes".

Later on, she told me that it was nice, but it was almost too late for my heart. Have you ever anticipated hearing, "I'm proud of you", and you hear the opposite? It can be devastating to the heart. We all want to be accepted and we just want to hear those words. As a child we need those words, and as an adult, it really doesn't change much.

Yes, we want our hard work to be recognized. In the words, "I'm so proud of you", I hear much more than it being something I have done, but something much greater and of more value. The simple fact that the Lord moved in me. He moved through me. He used me to bring a blessing to someone. He gave me a gift to share and to hear that someone is proud of me, is hearing that the Lord really did do something out of this world. He makes our dreams possible. He fills us with an eagerness to move on His behalf. When He is at work in us, He shines through us.

When I was little my dad always told me how proud he was of me. No matter what I was doing. When he was teaching me to play baseball and my nose was broken because I didn't catch the ball, he was proud of me. Not that I missed the ball, but that I picked it up again. Before my dad went to meet Jesus, one of his last words to me was that he was proud of me. I gotta tell you,  I miss hearing those words from him. There are times I yearn to hear them. I know if he were here now, he would be cheering me onward.

When we hear those words we feel that we can do anything. Nothing is impossible for us. Jesus cheers us onward in our walk with Him. When we don't hear those words often enough that too can make a great impact on our lives. It can keep our dreams stagnant. It can squash us like a bug. Nothing can kill a dream faster than negative words. If we aren't careful we can have a critical spirit and all we are doing is telling someone they can do better, without recognizing what they are doing right.

It's like asking a writer to critique your work. Yes, they are to be honest. You want to hear what needs more work, but you also need to hear what is amazing. Our words have a huge impact. Many times the critical words we share may cause one to just completely give up. I mean, why keep trying if they just can't seem to get it right? While the encouraging words another hears sets them to soaring and onward to achieve great and mighty things.

There are many who have heard discouraging words and have ignored them, going on to do great works. But what about those who just couldn't forget the words that set them back? What about those who have only heard disappointment? One person can give another words that change the course of their life. Encouragement goes far beyond the words spoken. It's like a budding rose. Over time the bloom opens. The beauty and the fragrance reach many.

This has happened to my son lately. He has heard discouraging words. No matter how  they were meant to be received, he heard the discouraging, "You can't do anything right, so there is no hope left in you". We cannot lift up a friend with discouraging words. They hurt and they do damage to the heart that just wants to soar and get it right.

It's like the mother who never tells her daughter just how proud she is of her. My parents came from a generation where they just didn't share. When I was growing up a hug was unheard of. Hearing I love you was close to never. I made sure my children heard they were loved daily. When they did something grand I made sure they knew how proud of them their momma was. I still send texts to tell them how proud I am of them. It doesn't have to be something huge. We can be proud of those small moments in life. In those small moments much is achieved. It gives us the green light to keep going. If we have heard, "I'm proud of you", it's going to set them on a course to always striving for greatness. It just puts a giddy up in your step.

At the end of my journey here on earth I hope to hear my Savior say the words, "Well done my daughter. Well done." It is my hope that I use up every gift He has bestowed upon me. I pray that I live each day giving Him my all. I'm learning I can't find all I need in those around me. My encouragment comes from the Lord. It is He that fills me and makes me whole.

But friends, isn't it a precious gift to the words, "I'm proud of you", from those we love? We are to encourage one another. We are to esteem others before ourselves. We are to be the hands and feet of Jesus. In that gem of a gift we can encourage others in their walk and inspire them to use their gifts to the fullest. Never giving up, but always striving to see it through and follow the dreams placed in our heart.

Encouragement can motivate. It can inspire. It can kill insecurities. It can give one hope. It can simply fill a heart with joy. When we give encouraging words it's like reassuring one that we believe in them.

Take the time today to encourage. Be a cheerleader! You never know the power your encouraging words can do for the one who needs to hear them so very much. May we check our words before they are spoken. Even when we must wound a friend in love, we can do so with encouragement. Remember, encouragement is from the Lord. Discouragement is from Satan. Give words of inspiration and set a heart in motion to soar. Be the giver of encouragement to a heart in need of hearing, "I'm so proud of you", today.

"Experience is not what happens to you; it is what you do with what happens to you."
Aldous Huxley

"What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the master calls a butterfly."
Richard Bach

"You are valuable because you exist. Not because of what you do or what you have done, but simply because you are.
Max Lucado

“Pretend that every single person you meet has a sign around his or her neck that says, Make Me Feel Important. Not only will you succeed in sales, you will succeed in life.”
Mary Kay Ash

“...there are persons who seem to have overcome obstacles and by character and perseverance to have risen to the top. But we have no record of the numbers of able persons who fall by the wayside, persons who, with enough encouragement and opportunity, might make great contributions.”
Mary Barnett Gilson

"Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”
Deuteronomy 31:6

"I am able to do ALL things through Him who strengthens me."
Philippians 4:13



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