Rebecca Duvall

In His Way

Through this site I hope to…..Encourage you through the daily trials of life……Inspire you to look to God as your source of strength……and Uplift your spirits to help you see the many blessings around you.

  • Speaking ~ God has filled me with the desire to share the stories He has given me.
  • Book: In His Way ~ When I continually find myself In HIS Way, God shows me through His grace and love how to do things In HIS Way.
  • About ~ I use to think I had to do everything myself. Since becoming a Christian in 2008, I’ve realized God is there to equip me with all I need, along with an entire community of people, the church.
  • Faith ~ Romans 12:12 “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer”.
  • Blog ~ I believe, as Christians, we are called to share with others how God is working in our lives.  I invite you to follow me, on my blog, as I follow Jesus through life.
  • Contact ~ I would love to hear from you!

Please pray for me as I embark on a new adventure. I’m taking a Chaplaincy course through Emergency Chaplains to serve citizens in crisis. I’m excited to see how God will use this to build His Kingdom.

 

In His Way

My book ‘In His Way’ is out and available on Amazon in paperback and ebook (Kindle). It’s also available at  Barnes & Noble and Christianbook in paperback.  It’s a story of the trials and triumphs of being married to a Law Enforcement Officer and coming to faith.

Check out this video from The 700 Club. It’s a peak into my story. You’ll see how forgiveness played an important roll in my husband receiving a new kidney and the restoration of my marriage .

 

 

Love ~ June 27, 2016

StrawberryThe Fruit of the Spirit this week is Love. I’ve chosen a strawberry since it’s often used to represent love due to its shape that’s similar to a heart.

When you love someone, their happiness is important to you. You behave in a kind and caring way toward them and wish to protect and support them, in a selfless manner.

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.1 Corinthians 13:1-3

The above scripture tells us that it’s pointless to say, know or do anything without love. Love is the key to making an impact for the Kingdom of God. What are ways you can demonstrate love in the way you speak, through what you know or how you react?

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

These verses tell us, as discussed in an earlier post (Godly Love), what love, in the eyes of God, look like. I use this scripture as a checklist to see where I’m struggling (usually in multiple areas). It helps me know what I should be praying for. I find myself having a hard time not keeping a record of people’s wrongs, which then causes me to have a hard time trusting. What aspect of love are you struggling with right now?

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:8-13

This piece of scripture opens with the statement ‘love never fails’ and ends by telling us that the three gifts from the Holy Spirit to remain are faith, hope and love, with love being the most important to have. The speculations, words and knowledge of man will fade away, but our faith, hope and love in God will never fail us. This makes me want to focus my attention more on the Word of God, than of man, because the Bible is the key to our hope and faith, which will lead us to a love that never fails.

My prayer for us today ~ Father God, thank you for Your Word, and the guidance it gives with the help of the Holy Spirit. I pray we would love You and others, even those we see as enemies, the way You love us, Amen.

Joy ~ June 20, 2016

watermelonThe Fruit of the Spirit this week is Joy. I’ve chosen a watermelon because it’s a fruit I usually eat in the summer months, which means the weather is most likely hot. Experiencing the heat (90+) brings me great joy.

Joy is a feeling of great happiness. It’s when you are pleased or happy. Joy is when you experience an emotion of great delight caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying.

Rejoice always ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:16

When you encounter joy you can’t help but rejoice. You show or express outwardly, the joy you feel. When I’m experiencing a joyous moment, my go to reaction is usually to cry or weep. For example, I recently sent my son off, on his 13th birthday, to camp with a group from our church. I was extremely happy for him and excited to hear, when he returned, how he encountered God while there. This brought me great joy, so of course I had many moments, while saying our goodbyes, of secretly sobbing behind my sunglasses. How do you usually react when overcome with joy?

Clap your hands, all you nations; shout to God with cries of joy. ~Psalm 47:1

Praising God during worship on Sunday mornings fills me with joy and I often find myself unable to sing (not that I could). I become overcome with joy thinking of what God has done for me through His Son, Jesus. I use to try desperately to hold back the tears, afraid it would make someone uncomfortable or I would be seen as an over emotional weirdo. I can handle the later, because in reality, I am. What brings you great joy?

Do not be full of joy when the one who hates you falls. Do not let your heart be glad when he trips. The Lord will see it and will not be pleased, and He will turn away His anger from him. ~Proverbs 24:17-18

There are times, as explained in Proverbs 24, when it is not a proper time to feel joy. When we do let ourselves express joy, outwardly or even within our hearts or minds, we can lose a blessing from God.

True joy is a gift given to us through the Holy Spirit. When our hearts and minds are focused on the goodness of God we can experience joy, regardless of our circumstances.

My prayer for us today ~ Father God, thank you for the gift of the Holy Spirit, which enables us to see the joy you offer us rather than the joys within the world. I pray we would keep the worldly things behind us as we focus on Jesus and what He has done for us, Amen.

 

Peace ~ June 13, 2016

grapesThe Fruit of the Spirit this week is Peace. I’ve chosen grapes because they grow together in a group, a community. We grow best, when together with a community, rather than alone. A community does better as a whole when its members feel at peace and not restless.

Peace has many different definitions and is described in assorted ways by various people. How would you explain peace?

Those who experience peace are not easily disturbed and feel calm and not worried about life in general. People who encounter peace live and work well together with others in a friendly way.

When you are at peace, you feel secure, your mind is free from annoyance, distraction, anxiety and obsession. You are untroubled, tranquil and content. Are you at peace within your circumstances today?

Experiencing peace has nothing to do with having an easy life or your circumstances. How you react in different situations in your life can show others if you are at peace or in turmoil. Would other describe you at a person at peace or in turmoil?

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:4-9 

I find this passage in Philippians is comforting as well as encouraging. It reminds me to bring every situation, with a thankful heart, to God, because God alone can offer us peace as we walk through the trials and tribulations of life. As we pray, talk with God, seek to have a relationship with Him, He will be with us. God doesn’t wish for us to be anxious about anything. He calls us to bring all our troubles to him, so we can experience the peace He desires us to have. How have you experienced God’s peace?

My prayer for us today ~ Father God, thank you for the peace you offer us, regardless of our sinful nature. I pray we would turn our troubles over to you before they can cause havoc in our heart and mind. My we seek Your peace and not the peace offered from the world, Amen.

 

Patience ~ June 6, 2016

pomegranateThe Fruit of the Spirit this week is Patience. I’ve chosen a pomegranate because it’s a fruit that takes time and effort to eat. You cannot simply grab it and take a bite. You must work at it. First open it, and then get through the maze of its inner pieces to get to the scrumptious juicy morsels inside. This my friend takes patience.

Patience is being able to stay calm and not get annoyed under any circumstance. A patient person can also bear provocation, misfortune or pain without complaining, losing their temper or becoming irritated. A patient person is quiet, works with steady perseverance and is even-tempered.

Patience is the one thing I often hear we should not pray for, because God will answer by giving us a situation in which patience is needed. I don’t know about you, but I think patience is the most difficult Fruit of the Spirit to master. When have you seen someone demonstrate patience? How did it affect your mood or behavior?

For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. Colossians 1:9-14 

As it says in Colossians, we as believers in Christ Jesus, have the ability to call upon His power, which will strengthen us, equipping us with the patience needed within our circumstances. When we lose our temper or become irritated, it’s because we have taken our focus off our heavenly Father and looked to our own selfish desires or needs. You see, only God, through Jesus and the Holy Spirit can enable us to demonstrate true patience in all situations.

I lack patience with my family more often than I should. I lose my temper when they don’t treat me the way I think they should and then I fail greatly at being quiet. I can even get irritated when they don’t take my advice and do what I think they should. Imagine that! When have you lost your patience? Without a doubt, I always seem to lose mine when I don’t take that second to call upon Jesus in the difficult times.

My prayer for us today ~ Father God, thank You for Your patience with us. You shower us with love, grace and mercy every day, offering guidance. I pray we would call upon the power of Jesus and the help of the Holy Spirit, so we too may serve with patience in all areas of our lives, Amen.

 

Kindness ~ May 30, 2016

AppleThe Fruit of the Spirit this week is Kindness. I’ve chosen an apple to represent kindness because students often give teachers an apple as a way of saying thank you, or at least they use to. When a student gives a teacher an apple, it’s an act of kindness.

Kindness is a state of being. It’s when you choose to be friendly, generous or considerate of others. I think kindness is contagious. When we act this way toward others, it inspires them to respond kindly to those they encounter, which causes a ripple affect.

You are acting with kindness when you behave in a gentle, caring and helpful way toward others. When you make an effort to help clean up a mess, even when you didn’t take part in making it. Kindness is shown when we check in on someone that we know is going through a difficult time. Who in your life is God calling you to check in on?

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. Ephesians 4:29

Kindness is not causing disruption or preventing something from happening, as it should. I have a hard time with this one. I tend to argue with God and His plan and timing of things. I get excited, then impatient, and try to make things happen in my way when I think it should happen.

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

We are not being an example of kindness when we behave in a mean, harsh or cruel manner, showing ill will or hostility toward someone or something. This means that when you don’t get what you wanted (when eating out or going to a movie) having a bad attitude is not an acceptable behavior. It’s seen as being rude and unappreciative. I know I’m guilty of being one of the first to point out when someone else has a bad attitude but am usually blind to my own bad behavior.

Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. 1 Peter 3:8-9

As it says in 1 Peter, we are to be a blessing, show kindness, even when kindness is not being shown to you. Who in your life can use a dose of kindness?

My prayer to us today ~ Father God, You lavish us with your kindness daily, even when we do not deserve it. I pray the Holy Spirit would open our eyes and heart to see how we may lavish others with kindness, Amen.

 

Goodness ~ May 23, 2016

bananaThe Fruit of the Spirit this week is goodness. I’ve chosen a banana to represent goodness because a banana is a good addition to many things, such as pancakes or oatmeal. People have the choice, multiple times a day, to be a good addition or not so good addition to circumstances throughout their day.

Goodness is the quality of being kind, helpful and honest. When our actions portray these qualities, we are choosing to bring goodness into our situation or circumstance. Other characteristics of goodness are when we strive for moral excellence, act generously or think and do what is right.

Too often, people act in a way that is not good because they let their feelings over ride their common sense. This could cause us to act in an unfriendly way, create white lies or intentionally hinder another in their efforts.

We constantly pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may bring to fruition your every desire for goodness and your every deed prompted by faith. 2 Thessalonians 1:11

Isn’t that verse in 2 Thessalonians encouraging? We can ask God to fill others with His goodness. When we feel someone is not being good in a situation, we can pray for God to give them the desire to do the right thing as well as help us see the goodness in this person or situation.

Better yet, we can ask others to pray for us to be filled with His Goodness. We don’t naturally have the desire to be good. Naturally, we want to do what we feel is good for us, which is usually not good for us or anyone else around us. By God’s power, and His power alone, we can be filled with the desire to do what is good, in God’s eyes, in all situations. We still have to act on this desire, but having the desire is half the battle.

I often have a hard time knowing the difference between what is good for me or a situation or circumstance. Others easily sway me, especially when they speak passionately about something. That’s why I lean heavily on the counsel of the Holy Spirit to discern between what I feel is good and how God desires me to portray His goodness. When have you made an effort to show goodness when you felt like acting badly? How do you think that situation would have turned out if you let your feelings run the show?

My prayer for us today ~ Father God, You are good to all, regardless of our circumstances. I pray You would teach us to be good to one another, regardless of how we are feeling, Amen.

 

Faithfulness ~ May 16, 2016

lemonThe Fruit of the Spirit this week is faithfulness. I’ve chosen a lemon to represent faithfulness because a little lemon goes a long way. If we add a little to avocado it keeps it from turning ugly and brown. Adding a little to water gives it a sweet refreshing taste. If we add just a little faith in Jesus to our daily life, He can quench our thirst in the areas of our lives that are dry and parched.

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. ~Hebrews 11:1

Someone who is faithful will remain firm in their belief and support of something and/or someone, regardless of what the world around them says.

Faithfulness is having the ability to give an accurate account of things without speaking falsely.

Remaining faithful means not neglecting something and/or someone because it’s easier or more convenient. When have you avoided something because you felt the task was just to big or difficult?

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man.  God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. ~1 Corinthians 10:13

This verse in 1 Corinthians is one of my favorites. It a beautiful reminder of God’s faithfulness to people. God not only knows about every temptation I’m faced with and what I need to defeat it, but He offers me His help to defeat it while filling me with His peace. That’s pretty amazing don’t you think?

So what does it look like for us to be faithful to God in our daily lives? For starters, I think it’s spending time in God’s Word every day, along with quiet time with Him so He can reveal His truths to us. I think being faithful to God also includes being faithful to those He puts in our lives, whether it is for a brief season or a lifetime.

Someone who is faithful to others is known as reliable, loyal and trusted. They are true to their word, meaning their actions match what they say they will or will not do. Do others describe you this way?

My struggle with faithfulness is my expectation of others being faithful. I take it too personal when they fail to be true to their word or when they neglect me or something I need/want. I often put my happiness or contentment in the hands of others. I must remember my true happiness, joy and peace can only come from God. When someone falls short of being faithful to me, it’s because of their struggles and temptations. It usually has nothing to do with me. These are times I can be faithful to God, by offering my grace to those who disappoint or hurt me, just as Jesus offers His grace to me each and every day.

My prayer for us today ~ Father God, You are faithful and true and sent Your Son, Jesus to be our perfect example of faithfulness. Lord, I pray for your compassion so we may be faithful to others, Amen.

 

Gentleness ~ May 9, 2016

Peach

The Fruit of the Spirit this week is gentleness. I’ve chosen a peach to represent gentleness because they are easily bruised, so we need to handle them with care. Similar to the people in our lives. We must treat every relationship delicately, because people are easily bruised.

Having gentleness is behaving in a kind, calm manner, being polite and soothing regardless of the people or environment around you.

The dictionary says gentleness is a person with a mild temperament or someone who isn’t harsh or rough. It also says it’s someone who isn’t affected by criticism.

Gentleness is an attribute of God I struggle with daily. I find myself being more abrasive than mild when seeking things to fulfill my to-do list. I often show up to the church mid week with a list of things I need to take care of or check on and feel like I’m always on a time crunch. I know it should always be about the people I work with, not the job or task I do with them, but I struggle it. I think I more often than not, run in, blast a list of needs and run back out leaving everyone’s heads spinning. It takes every ounce of effort I have to interact in a gentle manner and not like a crazy person who’s had too much caffeine.

Let your gentleness be evident to all. Philippians 4:5

Gentleness is asking someone how their day is going before asking for help. It’s gently encouraging someone to make a change without judging their actions. It’s a willingness to accept a decision or suggestion gracefully from another. It’s being friendly and social in an uncomfortable or awkward situation. Do people find you easily to approachable?

Gentleness is not yelling when someone accidently breaks a tile on the kitchen counter. It’s not reacting harshly when a flying dart hits you in the face. It’s choosing not to tell someone how much they annoy you when they’ve decided to let you know how stupid they think you are. It’s politely explaining yourself even when it’s the 20th time. It’s completing a task for someone, without being asked, and expecting nothing in return. When was the last time you stepped in to help someone without being asked?

“Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:29

Jesus is our one true example of someone who is gentle. He offers us the gentleness we need to experience in our life as well as teach us, through the Holy Spirit, how to be the example of gentleness to others.

My prayer for us today ~ Father God, You gently call us to You, through Your word and those You place in our lives. I pray we would be a reflection of Your gentleness, Amen.

 

Self-Control ~ May 2, 2016

Lime SelfControlThe Fruit of the Spirit this week is self-control. I’ve chosen a lime to represent self-control because when we don’t have self-control in front of others it can leave them with a sour taste.

Having self-control is the ability not to show your feelings or not do things that your feelings make you want to do.

The dictionary states self-control is to refrain or avoid or be stable, calm or harmonious. It also says having self-control means not to agitate, excite, indulge or upset. I don’t know about you, but that sounds like a very tall order. I find myself challenged with all of the above almost hourly, especially when with my family.

Self-control is not cursing loudly when you step in a pile of cat vomit as it squishes between your toes. It’s not reacting rudely when someone interrupts you. It’s not screaming at someone when they accidently ram their scooter into your leg.

Self-control is asking politely with a smile, even when it feels like it’s the 100th time you’ve asked. It’s being careful with others things, even if they have not been careful with yours. It’s smiling and calmly listening when someone’s yelling at you because they’re upset. It’s resisting a third cupcake even though you know it would taste oh so good.

Self-control is not letting your circumstances dictate your thoughts, words or actions. Having self-control is putting the feelings of someone else above your own and acting or speaking in a way to be helpful, not harmful.

For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ Titus 2:11-13

As hard as I try to be an example of a wife, mom, daughter, friend or Christian who has self-control, I fail miserably every day. Whenever I do appear to have self-control, it’s not by my own doing. It’s only by the grace of God, the help of the Holy Spirit, that I am able to resist reacting in a hysterical awful ridiculous manner throughout my day. Praise be to God for His goodness!

What does self-control look like to you? When have you witnessed it? How have you been an example of self-control? When do you find it difficult to have self-control?

My prayer for us today ~ Father God, You gave us Your Son, Jesus, who was the perfect example of self-control. I pray for strength to choose what is right, even though it may not be easy, Amen.

 

Fruit of the Spirit ~ April 26, 2016

Over the past few months I’ve been meditating, studying and praying over the attributes of God because I desire to know my Creator, Abba Father, more intimately. While doing this, God has given me the desire to know the attributes He calls all who live by the Spirit to live by. The attributes He enables all who believe in His Son, Jesus, to have.

LiveTheFruit

Galatians chapter 5 tells us not to get caught up trying to justify our actions within the law. We are to faithfully follow Jesus, who is all about relationships. We are to act in a way that mimics how Jesus lived while here on earth. Our lives are to be pleasing, glorifying and honoring to God, our creator and sustainer.

We should not blame others for our actions because we are each given freewill and the ability to make choices. Do you choose to be persuaded by the lies of Satan, who wants to steal, kill and destroy everything good? Or do you choose to look past the frustrating, hard, painful, sorrowful circumstances you may experience occasionally throughout your life? Which do you think is pleasing to God- causing confusion or bringing encouragement to others? Which do you prefer, being confused or encouraged?

We are reminded that the freedom we are given through Christ Jesus was not so we could gratify our desires, but rather to humbly serve one another in love. The law we are to focus on and live by is to love our neighbors as ourselves. We are to treat everyone, regardless of how they treat us, the way we wish to be treated. Would you rather receive love, grace and mercy from those around you as you stumble through difficult times in your life? Or would you rather everyone around you have high expectations and demands regardless of the your personal struggles?

The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions  and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. Galatians 5:19-21

Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other. Galatians 5:26

Galatians chapter 5, verses 22-23 is where we find the Fruit of the Spirit. Over the next 9 weeks I will take a look at each attribute to see what it should look like in our lives as we live them out in our every day lives. Today I’d like to look at verses 19-21 and verse 26 where we are given attributes not to live by, which are as follows:

  • Sexual Immorality~ Going beyond proper bounds with our bodies
  • Impurity~ Doing things to please man, not God
  • Debauchery~ Lack of restraint, easily allured from your duties
  • Idolatry~ Placing something above God
  • Witchcraft~ Seeking wisdom, guidance and understanding from something other than God
  • Hatred~ Intense dislike or hostility toward
  • Discord~ Lack of harmony with others, being harsh with others
  • Jealousy~ Desiring what other have
  • Fits of Rage~ Violent anger toward another
  • Selfish Ambition~ Doing things to help yourself not others
  • Dissensions~ Quarreling with others
  • Factions~ To purposely cause division
  • Envy~ Being upset others have things you desire
  • Drunkenness~ Overcome by power
  • Orgies~ Uncontrolled gratification of desires
  • Conceited~ To flatter and talk about yourself above others
  • Provoking~ To purposely annoy someone

I don’t know about you, but I struggle, on a regular basis, with many of these attributes. I often find myself feeling jealous when hearing of others doing things or going places I wish I could. Sometimes I purposely do something to annoy someone just because I can and I find their reaction funny. It’s cheap entertainment. The word debauchery sounds like such an evil thing (at least in my mind it does). But I must confess, I’m easily lured away from my duties. SQUIRREL! Which attribute listed do you struggle with most often?

The wonderful news is God does not expect us to change who we are or stop being who we think we need to be. God knows we can’t. As we seek to know God, study His Word, spend time with Him in prayer, He and He alone will change our heart. This will cause a ripple effect that will cause our thoughts, words and actions to change. The attributes of the old will fade away as the new attributes of the Holy Spirit, the Fruit of the Spirit, will pour out of us naturally.

My prayer for us today~ Father God, You know our heart and our deepest desires. I pray You would show us an attribute of ours that does not bring glory to You and help us replace it with an attribute that honors You, Amen.

 

Ashes ~ March 10, 2016

Justina PageMeet Justina, and take a peak into the moment her life was dramatically changed forever.

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As a child of God it is hard to believe that something horrible can happen to you. But when the unimaginable happens how does it affect your perception of God? How does it affect your perception of yourself?

At the crack of dawn on March 7, 1999, our family faced an unimaginable nightmare.

Me, my husband and six sons awoke to explosions, smoke, and utter darkness. The house was on fire.

Our family was jolted from our peaceful bliss and thrown into chaos in a home totally engulfed with flames. The sound of appliances exploding was deafening. The heat and stench threw us into confusion and shock.

My husband, James, began frantically jumping in and out of windows, desperate to save me and our young children. The three oldest boys grabbed their younger autistic brother and waited at a pre-designated point for their father.

I was the first to be dropped from a window, and I was hysterical. I reentered the inferno, determined to reach my twenty-two-month-old twin boys. I was pinned by a large, burning, oak bookshelf that fell on me. I was trapped, burning, and unable to speak above a whisper. My husband saw me under the bookshelf and shoved me out our bedroom window again.

I crawled from the window to the front lawn, leaving pieces of burned flesh as I went. My hands were so badly injured that I could no longer use them to support myself. I shouted from the edge of the street where a neighbor was steadying me by pressing her head to mine.

“I have six sons! Get my babies!”

But the count of sons who made it out never reached six.

The house collapsed before my husband was able to get our son Amos out. He died in the fire.

Amos’s twin, Benjamin, and I were severely injured.

I drifted in and out of oblivion. The paramedics tried their best to rouse me. “Breathe,” one of them said. “Please breathe, baby!”

Tears were falling down his face. That can’t be good, I thought. I heard panic in his voice.

Then I heard another voice, an unearthly voice, the cry of a fearful, wild animal. But it was Benjamin’s voice.

I could not bear the thought of Benjamin feeling the horrific pain I was experiencing.

I passed out, succumbing to utter darkness.

I awoke from a six-week coma, intubated, disoriented, and in excruciating pain. I plummeted into a full-blown panic attack. The fire! Who lived? Who died? Do I have a home? The pain was severe; it hurt to think. I wanted to talk, but I was unable to. I had lost the ability to do anything on my own. I was dependent on everyone for everything. My orderly world was out of control, and I was not in command of anything.

I had lost every earthly possession I owned. Most excruciating was the loss of my precious 22-month twin son Amos. Everything in my life as I had known it had turned into ashes. Residue of a past life of joy turned to deep sorrow.

Despair said I was nothing. I had to reach deep to clothe myself. I knew I was a fighter, but I never had to fight at this level before. I was a woman of faith; the horror of the devastation brought that to the surface. I loved my kids. I had run through and not away from fire to save them. I loved and trusted my husband. He was a source of consolation daily. I loved Jesus. I trusted him to bring me through. I was blessed. The evidence was everywhere.

I have now shed the layers of pain, anger, unforgiveness, fear, and guilt. Beneath that skin is a more stable, wise, and thankful person. My faith is intact and as strong as ever. Life is wonderful, not because trials have never come my way nor because I believe they will never surface again. Rather, life is perfect simply because I have it. I feel better prepared for it.

Who we really are is normally buried under visible things, such as clothes, friends, status, and accomplishments. A burn trauma has a way of stripping you bare, showing you for the person you really are. I found myself lying in a hospital bed, owning nothing but my integrity. After the fire destroyed my home and ravished my body, who was I then? I was known to be the lady who loved purple, an enviable homemaker, and a confidant. But when I owned nothing, and purple didn’t matter, when I didn’t have the ability to take care of my household, and couldn’t shoulder a burden for the life of me, who was I then?

I was more than my ashes. In Christ we are more than conquerors. All things work together for good to them that love God and are called according to his purpose~ Romans 8:28. But it is work.

Never let the trials of this life dictate defeat. If your world has been set on fire and all you see is the ashes of defeat…take courage. You are not your ashes. Stand on top of the pile and build again.

—–

Circle-of-Fire-cover-250Justina has dedicated herself to helping families affected by burn trauma. She is the founder and Executive Director of The Amos House of Faith, a nonprofit organization established to provide post burn support to children and families affected by burn trauma. She’s also the author of The Circle of Fire, a journey of discovering that personal tragedy is not a life sentence to despair, anger, and continual pain and suffering. Instead, it is a discovery of how something positive can be salvaged from every agonizing experience, even when your faith has truly been tried by fire. You can find out more about Justina and The Amos House of Faith at justinapage.com and theamoshouse.org.

 

Forgiveness ~ March 7, 2016

forgivenessDid you know that 1 in 9 American adults have Kidney Disease and 1 in 3 who don’t already have it, are at risk to get it? There are currently over 101,000 Americans on the Kidney Donor List waiting to receive a donor. Of that 101,000, twelve of them will die each day while waiting.

March is National Kidney Month and Thursday, March 10th, is World Kidney Day. It’s all about bringing awareness to the world how important the kidneys are, and different ways to keep them healthy.

The National Kidney Foundation lists 5 easy things we can be doing today to help keep your kidneys healthy.

  1. Find out the condition of your kidneys with an ACR urine test or GFR blood test. Go to www.kidney.org/KEEPHealthy to find out how you can be tested for free.
  2. Reduce your intake of over the counter pain meds with an anti-inflammatory component (NSAIDs).
  3. Eat more foods rich in nutrients and less that are processed. They suggest the DASH Diet
  4. Exercising at least 30 minutes per day.
  5. Manage your blood pressure and sugar levels. High blood pressure & diabetes are the leading causes of kidney disease and kidney failure.

So what about those who already have kidney disease and are in kidney failure? There are many ways you can help them as well.

  1. Cash donation
  2. Donate an old vehicle
  3. Give a stock gift
  4. Join a kidney walk
  5. Participate in a NKF Golf Classic Tournament
  6. Volunteer
  7. Become an organ donor

You can go to the National Kidney Foundation Donate page for details.

The kidney is near and dear to my heart because over three years ago, God gave me the opportunity to save my husbands life by giving him a kidney. Since doing this, God has also given us many opportunities to share this story; a story about God saving my husband, as well as renewing our marriage. This video, from The 700 Club, is a peak into our story and how forgiveness played an important roll in how my husband received a new kidney.

Another way God has allowed us to share our journey to a renewed marriage is through the book I have written, In His Way, which is available on AmazonBarnes and Noble and Christianbook.com.

Throughout much of my married life, I lived under the illusion that I had it all together – it was everyone else that needed fixing. Several years into my second marriage my husband, a Deputy Sheriff, became a workaholic and was never home. Meanwhile, I became a volunteeraholic, too busy to face the fact that we had become two strangers under one roof, raising three kids.

God revealed Himself to me through the different women I volunteered with. As my heart slowly opened to God’s presence, my marriage came crashing down around me. As I cried out for God’s help, I discovered my husband’s affair. I found myself surrounded by faithful people who gave me the strength to face the problems in my marriage and the tools needed to begin fixing it.

Over the next four years, my husband’s health deteriorated and he was forced to retire. Through this God continually showed me I was In His Way and then, when He knew He had my attention, He would proceed to show me how to do things In His Way. In the end, what God told me to do, saved my husband’s life, and our marriage. What was broken is now fixed by the grace and love of God.

My prayer for us today~ Father God, thank you for the forgiveness we receive through Your Son, Jesus, who died on the cross for our sins. I pray we would extend forgiveness to everyone in our life that has, or will, hurt us, Amen.

 

Finding Your Place ~ March 3, 2016

Hannah 2016 HeadshotHannah has a heart to connect with women of all ages and demographics in a way that is authentic, simple, and relatable. Hannah’s desire is to ignite an understanding, so women live with value and a knowing, that God is unconditional love and has great purpose and intention for all His daughters- regardless of their mistakes and stories.

FINDING YOUR PLACE IN THIS CRAZY WORLD

I walked towards the gate of Sunny’s new school this morning, behind the bars was an enclosed area for children to sit. My eyes found four children in wheelchairs. One little boy dangled bare feet from his chair, while another had his eyes closed and dribbled quietly in the corner of the school yard.

I gulped, took a breath, this is now where my boy ‘belongs,’ the revelation taunted me. I shut the gate behind me realising the severity of Sunny’s disability- it is worse than I thought. I heard a conversation in my head replay itself. “He can’t go to the local school; it doesn’t accommodate his needs- this school will be a better match.”

I felt my eyes prick with tears and my heart cracked just a little bit more. I cleared my throat and saw a teacher, introduced myself and felt my chin quiver. I could barely speak, “This is Sunny and it’s his first day here.” The warm, smiling face directed us to his classroom. I felt his hand touch mine, as he became scared, a child was walking towards us screaming, another was wearing ear phones to block the surrounding noise out.

I tried to still the noise in my head. “Hold it together Hannah. Hold.It.Together.”

I slide the glass door open to find his teacher calming more crying children in the classroom. I hung up Sunny’s bag, pulled diapers out and placed them on his desk and then put his lunch in the fridge. I stood wide-eyed and looking around, doing my best to ooze positivity. A short amount of time passes and I knew it was inevitable; I must leave for the day.

I found my car, placed keys in the ignition and turned it on. I can’t hold it in, I break, sobbing silently.

I feel sadness oozing out, like hot lava from a volcano.

My grief struck me and took my breath away. I tried to stop the tears, as it was the first day that I was actually wearing make-up in a long time, and of course it was now down my cheeks. “Typical” I think to myself- my sense of humour stops me from weeping for a moment.

Before Sunny was born, I thought he’d be ‘normal and healthy.’ The reality is he’s seven, wears diapers, can’t have a proper conversation with me, has melt downs in public where I would like to tell people to “Please stop staring, as we are not a circus,” And my life, my family’s life is strained daily.

A strange feeling washed over me as I wept against the steering wheel. I felt displaced all of a sudden.

Who do I fit in with?

Have you ever felt displaced?

The type of feeling where you just don’t.quite.fit.in?

Oh, it may only be one degree of separation from those surrounding you, but that tearing is just enough to make you want to become invisible at times. A nagging feeling fills the pit of your stomach causing angst, you try to ignore the pull which brings you down…even if it’s just a little bit, but it lingers.

You might be in a room filled with people who you’ve known your whole life, yet the truth be known, they are strangers to you and you to them.

Or you hold the attention of those around you in social settings, oozing confidence, yet if you’re truthful; you’re the loneliest woman standing in front of others and who would never suspect.

Displaced.

There’s lack of finding a home, a tribe, where you identify with others and they identify with you.

There are barriers, some you can’t express or put language to, as they are unintentional and others you have built which are blind spots in your life and work as a repellant towards those who attempt to connect with you. They barb and spike people and send them retreating quietly but quickly.

The girl who is willing to look at her blind spots by getting on her knees and asking God to reveal them, is the girl who reflects great courage and strength.

And if you’re really honest, you might fess up to being the girl who deliberately places a wedge between yourself and friends, as you use distance to protect your heart. You hate the thought of being displaced but what scares you even more-is to be deeply known by someone.

This breeds a cycle which spins around and around which contributes and heightens your feelings of not belonging, but isn’t that safer than being known?

For being known, seen and loved by another, runs at a risk of being hurt, for revealing your heart requires authenticity, and authenticity demands truth. And who in the world really wants to be truthful?

So you submit to fear and the enemy who brings it to you, permitting the lies to swirl around your mind, you listen to the snickers and believe the quiet whispers. You swallow the deceit like a pill, which is digested deep within, and what we allow to be planted in our lives is manifested through thinking, behaviour and actions- it’s an outpouring.

  • You hear the word ‘courage’ and believe it’s for everyone else,
  • You hear about being ‘valued’ yet that’s for the girl next door,
  • You hear stories of others having their hearts healed, but that’s not for you, surely not?
  • Yet the truth is, you have been formed for relationship, connection and a joyous life.
  • Isn’t that why Jesus left the heavens and came to earth?
  • Isn’t that what Christianity is built on?

Relationship.

So I beg you friend, if you, like me, have felt displaced, than I pray, that you have the courage of a lion to rise and face the lies which keep you chained up, to rebuke the fear which wants to settle in your life, to smash the walls which keep you caged, to call out to the God of the Universe who leans in and hears the cries of his daughters, and live in friendships that are full of joy and satisfy the innate and very real feeling of needing a place to be seen, heard, known and loved.

_____

RavishingHannah’s newly released book, Ravishing, is written candidly, vulnerably and with transparency about the journey of being married to a Pastor and discovering God’s relentless love along the way. Ravishing is a story where Heavenly grace trumps every time and shows that God is truly in the game of changing lives. You can find out more about Hannah on her website, hannahbryant.com or follow her on instagram – @Ravishingcollective.

 

Daily Reminder ~ February 29, 2016

leaning treeEvery day, when I took my daughter to and from school, I drove down a street that cauesed many scary scenarios to run through my head. It’s a nice stretch of road with country homes on one side and a golf course on the other. The lanes are wide, with a nice open middle turning lane between the two-way traffic.

You might be wondering, how such a simple road could cause so much stress and fear to run through my mind as I drove down it each and every day. Along the side of the road with the golf course, the side I would drive down, three large trees stood leaning over the entire side of the street.

For years I drove up and down this street with no concern. Then, I heard of a tree, off the side of a freeway, not far from us, that fell on a windy day, onto the freeway, crushing a car. I was traumatized by the thought of a life being taken like this. One moment your headed somewhere, with something to do and someone to meet, and the next, your life is gone. No warning what so ever!

Shortly after hearing of this horrifying event, I became aware of the large trees and how far they were leaning over the street. I found myself driving on the far left side when on this particular stretch of road. Often, I found myself getting so upset over the possibility of being crushed by one of the trees, I would become flush and my eyes would tear up.

During the summer, I feared the ground would become dry and cracked, unable to hold up the trees. In the spring and fall, I worried the winds would force one of them over. The stormy days in the winter were the most terrifying. It’s hard to see on dark stormy days, so it could fall, with no warning to try and get out of the way.

Several months ago, at church, we were making a video which I quoted Joshua 1:9

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.

After running Joshua 1:9 in my head for a few weeks, I decided I was no longer going to let this stretch of road bring me to tears. I was not going to let it terrify me any longer!

The next time I found myself on that stretch of road, I began praying. I thanked God for the beautiful drive and the car I was able to make it in. I thanked Him for the beautiful trees that lined, and leaned over the road. I told God I believed He loved my family and me and knew what was best for us. I told Him I trusted Him with my life. I then began to explain to God my fear of being crushed by the trees and asked Him to protect me from them. I told Him I would prefer not to be crushed by one of the trees, and hoped that no one else would be hurt by one of them, but if it were His will, then so be it. I asked God to remove the trees, but if that wasn’t His will, then please remove my fear of the trees and help me see them as a beautiful creation of His.

Weeks went by, when I realized, I had driven down this street, passing these trees, without giving it a single thought.

A month or two later, while driving my regular route in the morning, I noticed trucks pulled up on the curb near the trees with orange cones around them. I was curious what they were doing, but didn’t think much about it. Later that day, while driving back around in the afternoon, I could see the trucks were still there, but the large leaning trees were not. One small tree that leaned toward the street, by not over it, remained.

psalm 55-22

Now, as I drive down this street, I am reminded of God’s goodness and His faithfulness. God cares deeply for us, and the little things matters to Him as much as they matter to us.

My prayer for us today ~ Father God, thank You for the ways You care for us. I pray we would seek You, thank You and praise You more often throughout each day, Amen.

 

Reading Maps ~ February 17, 2016

IMG_5533I’d like to introduce you to Renee Ronika. She commits to honest faith and bold vulnerability as a writer, speaker, event host, and minister. She publishes poetry, non-fiction, and fiction. I hope you enjoy this lovely piece she is sharing with us today.

How I Learned to Read a Map

I’m the girl who likes to ask questions, especially when I need directions. I’m inclined to trust others’ judgment over my own. When I was 21 and lost in Edinburgh, I stopped a local—a man about 90—to get directions to a restaurant. He’ll know, I assured myself. Old Scotsmen have wisdom. His accent, however, was thick and his speech, hurried. I thanked him and stood squarely on the cobblestone street, wondering how I’d pinpoint the few words I could decipher to reach my destination.

I took out my map again and navigated myself. The streets, wound about the city, felt haphazard and bleak. It was December. I found my way to the restaurant, and I warmed myself by the fire. I ate stew with a baguette.

My life story remains the same from there: I doubt my way and seek out someone’s help, only to find their communication foreign and obfuscated. So I wait in the quiet and scrounge up some courage, maybe patience, and seek out the answers myself.

“It then occurred to me that this was not the first time I had been given a map that failed to show many of the things I could see right in front of my eyes. All through school and university I had been given maps of life and knowledge on which there was hardly a trace of many of the things that I most cared about and that seemed to me to be of the greatest possible importance for the conduct of my life. I remembered that for many years my perplexity was complete; and no interpreter came along to help me. It remained complete until I ceased to suspect the sanity of my perceptions and began, instead, to suspect the soundness of the maps.”– E. F. Schumacher, A Guide for the Perplexed

In my twenties, I prided myself in honoring others first, in deferring to an elder’s wisdom, a pastor’s authority, a friend’s insight. I heard Jesus’ voice through the prophets, priests, and kings surrounding me, and my dutiful obedience lit my path.

By my thirties, I saw the road behind me illuminated by a lamp that I did not hold. All those years—of trusting, deferring, rendering others as more able—dimmed my trust, my strength, my ability. I was hard of hearing and poor of sight. I could not read maps because I had dropped them along the way of consulting others.

As I lay silent and blind, the prophet within me spoke and saw. The prophet foretold a story rife with conflict, wanting resolution, with ambient light and a stalwart protagonist.

Once the story began, the priest within me emerged. The priest listened for the voice of Jesus and heard it in the crisp autumn air. His voice remained through winter. It arrived again in spring and stayed through summer. After I listened, seasons begetting seasons, I could speak.

When I spoke, the king within me stood. The king was draped with all that had been heard and said, all that had been obeyed and rejected, all that had been fought against and won. The throne was lit by a light that was entirely mine yet not mine at all.

___

People stop to ask me for directions. Sometimes I’ll advise on a few turns, but then I refer them to their maps. I know enough to know their maps are accurate, if not entirely legible, and my perspective might skew the horizon. I don’t want to confuse a journey, particularly not someone else’s.

I know enough to know the Jesus I heard at 18, at 21, at 25, at 35, really is the way, the light, in every manner imaginable, and authentic, and real. He’s my map, and I don’t want to trust anyone else to read it for me.

___

Renee is Prism Women’s founder and visionary. Renee resides with her husband Gregory, a pianist and composer, and their three children in the Wild West—her hometown of Phoenix, Arizona—where she’s discovered green grass and true community after fifteen years of living abroad and throughout the country. To read more from and about Renee, visit www.prismwomen.com. You can also find her on Twitter and Instagram as @reneeronika or @prismwomen.

Godly Love ~ February 8, 2016

Bible heartFebruary is the month everyone is talking about love; how good it makes them feel when they receive it or how much they wish they had it. Many people talk about love as if its something they should receive because they are entitled to it.

In Matthew 22, Jesus says the two greatest commands are to love. We are to first love God with all our heart, soul and mind and then love our neighbors as ourselves. But what does it look like to love?

  • Love is patient
  • Love is kind
  • Love does not envy
  • Love does not boast
  • Love is not proud
  • Love is not rude
  • Love is not self-seeking
  • Love is not easily angered
  • Love keeps no record of wrongs
  • Love does not delight in evil
  • Love rejoices with the truth
  • Love always protects
  • Love always trusts
  • Love always hopes
  • Love always perseveres
  • Love never fails

Over the past few months, 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 has been rattling around in my head. In this passage of scripture, God gives us a clear definition of what love is and is not. I confess, the first time I read this passage, I used it as a checklist for others and how they were failing to love me the way God wanted them to. I use to pray for God to help them love me the way I deserved to be loved.

Then God changed my heart. He gently reminded me I didn’t deserve love any more, or less, that anyone else did. We were all equal in His eyes. Because God loved me first, I was to love others first, to be the example of love.

We are called to love everyone, no matter what. If you come across someone you feel you can’t love, which we all will, many times throughout our lives, we can ask for God’s help. Pray, confess the difficulties you are experiencing while trying to love this person. Ask God to change your heart. Ask God to help you see this person the way He sees them. Ask God to show you, and help you understand, the gifts He has given them. Ask God for opportunities to love this person in a way only you can. I believe God will give you the ability to love this person, because He will change your heart, soul and mind.love never fails

I looked up each of the words that describe what love is or is not in the dictionary. This is what I came up with:

  • Love bears provocation, annoyance, misfortune, delay, hardship, pain, etc., with fortitude and calm and without complaint, anger, or the like.
  • Love desires to help others, is considerate or helpful.
  • Love does not feel discontent or covetousness with regard to another’s advantages, success, possessions, etc.
  • Love does not speak with exaggeration and excessive pride about oneself.
  • Love is not having or showing a high opinion of one’s own dignity, importance or superiority.
  • Love is not discourteous, impolite, harsh or ungentle in a deliberate way.
  • Love does not seek one’s own interest or selfish ends.
  • Love is not easily displeased.
  • Love does not intentionally remember being treated unfairly or unjustly.
  • Love does not receive pleasure, satisfaction or enjoyment in wicked, harmful, or immoral acts.
  • Love is delighted and joyful with acts of honesty and integrity.
  • Love always defends or guards from attack, invasion, loss, annoyance, insult, etc.
  • Love always sees others as confidently reliable.
  • Love always looks forward with desire and confidence.
  • Love is always steady in a course of action especially in spite of difficulties, obstacles, or discouragement.
  • Love never falls short.

I don’t know about you, but this list seems overwhelming. Thankfully, God loves us and offers His grace to us regardless of how we fail to love the way He loves us. Also, we are not called to love in our own strength or ability. God will enable us to love, but we must first seek Him and His love for us.

God gifts us each in a way we naturally love. I usually find it fairly easy to be patient and kind toward others. How has God gifted you to love? I struggle with protecting and trusting others. I’m fearful of being hurt. What part of loving others do you struggle with?

My prayer for us today ~ Father God, thank you for the love you have for everyone everywhere. I pray Your love for us would pour out onto those in our lives, Amen.

 

Exploring Possibilities ~ Feb 1, 2016

A few years ago, I published a book, In His Way, for the purpose of sharing how God had radically changed my life and my marriage. I was walking around lost and broken, not even realizing it. My perception of the world around me was in 2D and black-n-white, dull and flat. Once I began to open my eyes and heart to God, I could suddenly see the beautiful 3D vibrant world that God created, all around me. The possibilities ahead of me seemed endless and fascinating!

As I’ve said before, and will continue to say, I am not a writer. I like the simplicity of numbers and equations. So when God planted the desire in my heart to write my testimony out in the form of a book, I put it in His hands when I published it. Through people, places and circumstances I realized the importance of sharing what God had done (or is doing), but had no idea how to get this into the hands of others.

They (believers of Christ Jesus) triumphed over him (Satan) by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony ~ Revelation 12:11

I know God has a plan and purpose for this book, my testimony, and has it timed out perfectly. Since I published In His Way, and left it in God’s hands, He has brought many wonderful opportunities to me, with very little effort or thought on my part. God is so wonderfully good isn’t He?

I’ve been featured in a few magazines and newspapers. I’ve also been blessed to participate in a few radio interviews and even a local northern California television show, Love Your Life Ministries.

God has done it again! A few months ago, the 700 Club , a television show on the Christian Broadcasting Network, contacted me. They said they wanted to explore the possibility of doing a segment on my husband and I about our testimony, which they discovered through my book. I was walking on clouds! God continues to amaze me! I don’t know why I’m always so surprised. Probably because I can’t understand how or what I could possibly do to make any kind of impact on any ones life. Thank goodness there is no need to understand what God will do or how He will do it. We must simply be willing to obediently act when He calls upon us and trust He will, in all ways, enable and equip us.

Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. ~ Hebrews 13:20-21

About a week before Christmas, I received the call to schedule the interview. They wanted to come and film for an entire day, in our house. I was excited and felt as though I could barely function. My head was spinning and my to-do list suddenly grew a mile long with the thought of having them over to film in our house. The dusty blinds and cluttered corners were no longer acceptable, but how would I find the time or energy to get my house prepared for such a big event?

Thankfully, not only were we praying, but many others were praying for us as well. So I was warmly comforted by God’s peace and reminded He would give me the time and energy to get done what He desired I attend to and nothing else. I have to confess, we did have a moment of panic, worrying our house needed something to make it look presentable. We found ourselves at the store about to lay down a lot of money for new valances for the front room, which is where we planned to do the interview.

I’m glad God knew we would have this moment of weakness and made sure there wasn’t enough of anything we liked. After we stood around trying to figure out what we were going to do, we came to our senses and left the store, empty handed. We remembered God had it covered and it was going to be exactly what He wanted it to be regardless of what the valances, or lack of, looked like.

The day of the interview has come and gone. It was a beautiful cool Northern California day, perfect for a few shots outside. I enjoyed getting to know the ladies who came to film. I think I might have asked them as many questions as they asked us. They were kind, thoughtful and extremely talented in their field of work. I was sad for them to go. I could have chatted with them for hours. I find their jobs intriguing. They get to travel, meet with people in their homes and hear how God has transformed their lives. Sounds like a slice of heaven to me! I don’t think there are many other jobs as wonderful as that out there.

So stay tuned! I will definitely post a link to the interview after it airs. I’m excited to see what God will do through our testimony. I’m also ecstatic to see what God will do next, for and through my book.

If you haven’t read my book, but would like to, you can find it on AmazonBarnes & Noble and Christianbook.com in paperback and for the kindle.

My prayer for us today ~ Father God, thank you for the testimony you have given to ever believer all across the world. I pray we would obediently and boldly share it with those You place in our lives, Amen.

 

Hope ~ December 31, 2015

31 HopeI’m thankful for the hope I receive through my faith in Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior.

 

 

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead ~ 1 Peter 1:3

I’m confident in the strength, wisdom and power I receive daily from the Holy Spirit, which was given to me by Jesus, through the gift given to the world by God. I know I cannot do the things I do, such as write, speak, love and live with passion, on my own. It’s only with the guidance, wisdom, courage and strength given to me through the Holy Spirit by Jesus that’s allowed by God.

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. ~ Hebrews 11:1

I cannot see these things being given to me, but I am sure I am receiving these gifts by God, because there is no one else able to give such gifts to another.

My belief, my hope, is that every circumstance, whether good or bad, will be used for good by God. There is a silver lining to every situation, even if we can’t see or understand it. We must trust God, who is Omnipotent, Omniscient and Omnipresent-all powerful, all knowing and everywhere.

31 Romans 12-12

My prayer for us today ~ Father God, thank You for the hope we have through Your Son, Jesus, who You sent for us. I pray You would open the eyes and heart of those who don’t understand what the death of Your Son on the cross means, so they may truly grasp the love You have for them, Amen.

 

Laughter ~ December 30, 2015

30 laughterYesterday, on date night, we watched the newest Hunger Game movie. It was intense and extremely scary. Thankfully I had my man with me to protect me. I’m sure he had a good laugh watching me freak out in the theater. It’s a good thing we were sitting in the very back of the theater. I kept closing my eyes, covering my eyes and looking anywhere except the ginormous movie screen. I was tempted to leave the theater with the excuse I had to use the restroom, but was afraid I’d miss something important.

A time for crying and a time for laughing, a time for mourning and a time for dancing ~ Ecclesiastes 3:4 CEB

Earlier today we watched something I could calmly sit through. Well, I don’t think calmly is the right word. It was something I could sit through without getting scared. Oh, and for reference, I think the Indiana Jones movies are all scary. Back on topic, we watched Ellen Degeneres: Here and Now from 2003. She’s not scary, but very funny. Who makes you laugh?

A happy heart is good medicine and a joyful mind causes healing ~ Proverbs 17:22 AMP

I’m thankful for the gift of laughing. I enjoy laughing, especially with family and friends. Not just the kind of laughing that happens from watching something funny on television, but the kind of laughing that happens when your being silly.

A few weeks ago, my husband and I went to a Christmas party. We each brought a gift for the gift exchange where you could steal gifts from one another. The gift I opened had silly Santa hats in it and then later, after my husband’s gift was stolen, he ended up with a gift with two more silly Santa hats. My husband was about to put the Santa hat on, when I said he should wear the elf hat. The moment he put on the hat I started laughing and could not stop. He looked absolutely ridiculous in the hat, but what made it hilarious were the funny faces he kept making. It was awesome! He owned the fact that he looked ridiculous and went with it. Now that was funny. I laughed so hard that night. It was in deed a fun night filled with amazing food, great fellowship and lots of laughter created by silliness. When was the last time you laughed because of something silly?

RobReb2015

My prayer for us today ~ Father God, thank you for the gift of laughter and how it brings healing and joy to our heart. I pray we would let our guards down more often and be silly, Amen.

 

Date Night ~ December 29, 2015

Two Platinum or Silver Rings - Reflected CandlesMy husband surprised me and we have a date night, tonight! Woohoo! We haven’t had a date night in a while. We’ve both been so consumed with what we were doing and getting things done to accomplish this, that we lost sight of one another. I think we felt we were getting in the way of each others plans. Thankfully we have a loving, gracious God who helped us see the error of our ways. He recently showed us we are each others plan. He has many things planned for both of us, but we are to do them together as a couple. With us together, united as one, with God leading us together as one, nothing can stop us from accomplishing the plan God has for us. What great plans does God have for you and your spouse?

Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to adorn themselves. They submitted themselves to their own husbands, like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her lord. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear. Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers. ~ 1 Peter 3:1-7

Off we go for our first date night in a while. The kids are gone for the night and we are headed to dinner and a movie, then back to an empty house. I’m thankful for date nights. I’m thankful for having time alone with my man. I’m thankful to have someone to share my laughter and my heartaches with. What are you thankful to share with your spouse?

My prayer for us today ~ Father God, thank you for the beautiful bond You have created between a man and a woman, a husband and a wife. I pray for protection over our marriages. I pray we would love one another in a way that’s honoring to You, Amen.

 

Entertainment ~ December 28, 2015

28 EntertainmentI finally went to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the movie almost everyone is talking about. I think it was a good movie with a lot of action. Sadly, I can’t say I wasn’t disappointed. I don’t want to give anything away to those who have not seen it yet, but I never like to see any bad guys win in any part of any movie, even if it’s not real. Remember, I like sunshine and rainbows, all the time.

I’m thankful for those who have created such amazing technology and the ways it’s used to entertain. My daughter is studying animation, so I get to hear a little about the time it takes to create anything animated. I’m thankful for the gifting and patience of those who spend hours creating characters and stories to entertain us.

Star Wars might just be a movie, but it’s similar to real life; the struggle between bad and good. We each deal with this internal struggle from time to time. The desires the world tells us we need to be concerned with and the desires God gives us. Some disregard the desires God gives us, because they can’t understand them. Others struggle because they try to understand them but can’t. Others seek the desires given to them by God and find them, because they don’t try to understand them. What is God asking of you that you can’t fully understand?

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. ~ Isaiah 55:8-9

My prayer for us today ~ Father God, thank you for allowing our minds to think in such creative ways. I pray this creativity would be used to glorify and honor You, Amen.

 

Teachers ~ December 27, 2015

27 teachersI’m thankful for those who teach. I’m thankful for those who teach children in preschool all the way up to college. They dedicate their lives to helping others better themselves. They are encouragers and motivators. When we struggle with understanding, they remind us we can do it. They are creative and inspiring. When the typical way of learning doesn’t work for us, they come up with new exciting ways to teach.

As things change, they continue to improve their teaching skills to better teach others. They seek to continue their education so their students are being taught the latest and greatest. Teachers can have an amazing impact on our lives, if we let them pour out their knowledge without resistance.

I’m thankful for the patience of a teacher and how they go above and beyond to help us understand what they are teaching. They give of their time, talents and money to better those put in their care as a student.

“We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach;” ~ Romans 12:6-7

My prayer for us today ~ Father God, thank you for those you enable with the ability to pass on wisdom and knowledge. I pray we would always treat them with respect and show our gratitude for the ways they are teaching us, Amen.

 

December 26 2015 ~ First Responders

26 first responderI’m thankful for Firefighters, Law Enforcement and Paramedics that come to our aid when we are in need. They see us when we are at our worst, but give their very best. They train long and hard to make sure they are prepared to help, no matter what the situation. They put themselves in harms way to keep us safe. They go toward the problem, while we run away from it.

Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you. ~ Hebrews 13:17

I’m thankful for the many ways First Responders keep us from harm. I’m thankful for the ways they help when tragedy, of all kinds, hits. How has a First Responder helped you or a loved one this past year?

My prayer for us today ~ Father God, thank you for the wisdom, strength and courage you equip all first responders with. I pray we would show our appreciation and support for their service to the communities, Amen.

 

Jesus ~ December 25, 2015

25 babyJesusI’m thankful for the birth of Jesus, the Son of God, the Messiah, my Lord and Savior. Have you chosen Jesus as your Lord and Savior? I’m thankful for the gift of eternal life in heaven I have been given because of Him. Have you received the gift of eternal life?

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” ~ Luke 2:8-14

My prayer for us today ~ Father God, thank you for the greatest gift of all, Your Son, Jesus Christ. I pray all the world would know and understand the true meaning of this day, Christmas, Amen.

 

Joseph & Mary ~ December 24, 2105

24 joseph maryI’m thankful for the obedience of Mary and Joseph when the angel Gabriel told them about the baby they would have. I wish I were as obedient to God as they were. I know I can be, but it’s so hard. It can be very difficult not to worry and let fear of what might happen take over and rule my mind. I’m thankful for the inspiring story of Joseph and Mary’s faith.

In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.” “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. For no word from God will ever fail.” “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her. ~ Luke 1:26-38

Back in Mary’s day, a woman becoming pregnant before marriage was a sin, punishable by death. I would have been freaking out if I were Mary. Did Mary freak out? No, she simply asked a question so she could better understand what the angel Gabriel was talking about. I can’t fathom trying to comprehend having the Holy Spirit ‘come upon me’ causing me to become pregnant. Not even today. I think that explanation would bring hundreds of questions into my mind, leading me to say ‘thanks, but no thanks’. Mary did nothing even close to this. She answered calmly (I say calmly because there’s no exclamation point at the end of her answer) “My it be as you have said”.

This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”). When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus. ~ Matthew 1:18-25

Then there’s Joseph and how he reacted to the news. Joseph was worried about how Mary would be treated, so he was going to quietly divorce her. I love that he was concerned for her, so sweet. Since he was to stay with Mary, not divorce her, an angel spoke to Joseph in a dream. The angel explained the baby was conceived by the Holy Spirit, and was fulfilling what God spoke of through the prophet Isaiah. Can you imagine waking up from a dream about the actual crazy circumstances going on in your life and thinking ‘oh, okay, time to take Mary home as my wife’ without a second thought?

I think the humble obedience of Joseph and Mary should be an example to all of us, how we should respond when God speaks to us. Joseph and Mary were protected and taken care of for their obedience. How has God blessed you for your obedience?

My prayer for us today ~ Father God, thank you for Joseph and Mary, who are examples of true obedience to You. Lord I pray we would seek clarity to know you better, not question due to disbelief, Amen.

 

God’s Creation ~ December 23, 2015

23 fall treeThe last few nights there have been some amazing sunsets with vibrant swirls of yellow, orange and red. It takes my breath away. Can you picture the colors of a recent sunrise or sunset in your mind that you had the pleasure of experiencing?

One of my favorite parts of God’s creation is the changing of the seasons. In the spring when the cherry blossom trees are in full bloom and a gentle breeze hits. It looks like it’s snowing on our street when this happens. That’s my kind of snow, beautiful without the chill. In the fall, I’m surrounded by the brilliant bright colors in the trees. It stops me in my tracks! What’s your favorite part of the changing of seasons?

God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning-the sixth day. Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array. ~ Genesis 1:31-2:1

The beauty of God always surrounds us, day and night. This should cause us to fall to our knees and praise Him. Why don’t we? Have we become so occupied with ourselves that we fail to see God’s glory all around us?

23 fall tree

I’m thankful for the rain that quenches the thirst of the earth and all that’s in it. I’m thankful for the sun and the life, and warmth, it brings to the earth and all in it. I’m thankful for the lakes, rivers, mountains and fields where we can come together and play, regardless of the season. Which is your favorite season to get out and play? Where is your favorite place to play? I prefer to play in the warm summer months. I don’t have a preference where I play, as long as it’s somewhere I can soak in the heat of the day.

My prayer for us today ~ Father God, thank you for the wonders you have surrounded us with here on Earth. I pray we would not forget You are the creator of all the earth, Amen.

 

Sales Clerks ~ December 22, 2015

22 shopping bags

Have you been out shopping lately? Of course you have, it’s Christmas time! It’s crazy out there! Last weekend, I made the mistake of going to a mall on a Sunday afternoon. All I had to do was return something. I thought it would be a quick in and out. Wow, was I wrong!

First, we circled the parking lot, for what felt like forever. When I was about to give up and head home, someone pulled out in front of me. Of course I was on the far side of the mall, needing to walk, what felt like miles, to enter. The store we had a return in was on the other side of the mall, so we had to slowly squeeze our way through the crowds of people. I think Disneyland would have been less busy.

We finally made it into the store and immediately got in line. There were two lines leading to four cashiers. I watched as each customer made it to the cashier and the interaction they had with them. It seemed that no matter what the customer’s demands, they always had a smile on their face and bent over backwards to meet their demands. Yes, I do realize this is the way a cashier should be, but the attitude and expectations of some of the customers was a little much.

22 Luke 6-35

I’m thankful for the sales clerks who remain helpful and friendly, regardless of what crazy things I might need. I hope these sales clerks know they help make my holiday merry and bright. The kindness they show me fills me with the desire to help another.

22 Proverbs 3-3

Doesn’t it make you feel good when a cashier tells you to have a nice day? It always brings a smile to my face. Unfortunately, I don’t always respond to their kindness the way I should, which is “thanks, I hope you have a nice day too!” My mind gets stuck on the next errand or thing I need to do and I miss out on the opportunity to bring a smile to their face. How do you respond when a sales clerk says something nice to you? If they don’t tell you to have a nice day, do you tell them to?

My prayer for us today ~ Father God, thank you for the kindness you offer us through your Son, Jesus. I pray we would, under all circumstances, offer kindness to those we encounter throughout our days, Amen.

 

Pastors ~ December 21, 2015

21 ShepherdAs I’ve mentioned before, the church my family and I attend are between Pastors. We’ve had the pleasure of listening to a different person preach each week. Some are Pastors, and some are not. The most important thing to me in a sermon is that it’s the word of God. I think everyone who’s preached has done a good job at writing their sermon based on the Bible. I’ve enjoyed having a variety of speakers, but have to say, I am looking forward to consistency in the way the message is delivered.

21 Jeremiah 3-15

I’m thankful for the ability to go to church every Sunday morning and be taught the word of God. I’m thankful for the pastor who not only teaches the word of God, but also helps those listening know how the message from long ago applies to our lives today. I’m thankful for the Pastor who paints a vivid picture in my head of the scripture being taught. I’m thankful for the Pastor who includes me in this picture and then helps me see how God is speaking to me through it. I’m thankful for those who answer the call to shepherd His people.

Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood. ~ Acts 20:28

Today’s sermon was about the birth of John the Baptist, Luke 1:57-80. The point of today’s sermon that I took home was when the mouth of Zechariah was opened he began to praise God. Zechariah’s mouth was closed because He didn’t believe the angel Gabriel when he told him his wife would have a son. It was to remain closed until the birth of his son took place. We were pointed to the fact that Zechariah didn’t complain or whine about what he just went through, no, he praised God. It made me think of the times I’ve failed to praise God when He’s delivered me from difficult situations. When was the last time you praised God for the miracles He provides? What was your ‘take away’ from the last sermon you heard?

My prayer for us today ~ Father God, thank you for those You call to shepherd Your people. I pray we would be open to how You are using them to speak to us, Amen.

 

Furry Friends ~ December 20, 2015

20 Kitty

I can’t remember a time I didn’t have a pet. Growing up we always had at least one cat and on occasion a dog. My mom was a softy when it came to puppies, so she would often come home from the grocery store with one. We never had the puppy for long. It would either chew up everything in sight or my brother and I wouldn’t help take care of it, so it had to go.

I’m a cat person myself. I think dogs are high maintenance, and there’s only room for one thing that’s high maintenance in this house, and that’s me.

A few years after our last move, my family decided the only thing missing was a dog. We had three cats, which seemed like more than enough animals to me, but they insisted they needed the comfort of a dog. Of course I was promised everyone would help take care of the dog and I wouldn’t even notice it was around. I knew, in reality, I would be the main one doing all the work. I soon gave in and within a few months, we had Layla, a yellow lab from Canine Companions for Independence. She was meant to be a breeder dog in their program, but flunked out due to chronic ear infections. The day we brought her home, she was two and fully trained with over twenty commands. She’s now eleven, and continues to bring us comfort.

20 Layla

Recently, we welcomed a black lab into our family. Her name is Kepi. She’s also from Canine Companions for Independence. She didn’t flunk out of the program. She’s a facility dog and works with my husband, who’s a Law Enforcement Chaplain, as a Chaplain dog. She lives with us and goes out on chaplain calls with him. She brings a smile and comfort to those who are hurting.

20 Kepi

This is a difficult time of year, when many of us mourn the loss of our loved ones. I’m thankful for the way our animals bring us comfort. I think they can sense when we aren’t well or when we’re feeling sad. How do your pets bring you comfort?

Emma and Kitty, two of our cats, are sisters. Emma’s a princess, tiny and petite, and Kitty is a scaredy-cat, fluffy and squishy. Earl, a stray black cat my daughter found out in the country hanging on to life, is the only male pet we have. He follows us around, like a dog, and is quite the talker. I’m thankful for the different personalities each of our pets have.

20 Matthew 5-4

I’m excited to see how God will use my husband and Kepi to bring comfort to the community. How has God brought comfort to you and your family this year?

My prayer for us today ~ Father God, thank you for the comfort you bring us through the animals in our lives. I pray You would protect them from those who wish to bring harm to them. Help us to see that animals are part of your creation, Amen.

20 Emma20 Earl

 

Restaurants ~ December 19, 2015

19 restaurantToday, Amy and I had the pleasure of visiting with Ashley and her boyfriend Scott during lunch. Going out to eat is an extra special treat because I don’t have to cook the meal (like usual) or clean up after it.

I’m embarrassed to say, I found myself getting irritated while at the restaurant. We had to wait to be seated, even though there were many tables and booths available. Then, they took too long to take our order after we asked for a few extra minutes to look over the menu. I even decided it was taking them way to long to fix the meal, as if I have any idea how long it would take to prepare any meal.

I’m ashamed to have let myself be so critical. I should have been focusing on the company I was with, not on judging those serving me. I have no right to judge them. Even though I was their customer, I’m not the center of their world. I don’t know the circumstances of the server’s life, or what may be going on in the kitchen or with other customers.

As I grew up, my parents owned a few restaurants. I never worked in any of them, but I do know it’s hard work and the pay isn’t all that great either. I’m thankful for those who give their all and do their best, even when dealing with annoying, over demanding people. I’m thankful for those who keep a smile on their face and let the ignorant comments slide off their back as they bend over backwards to satisfy the unsatisfiable customers. I’m thankful for having the choice where to go out to eat and the funds to do so. I’m thankful for those who prepare the food, serve the food and then clean up after it.

19 John6-35

I find myself continuously surrounded by food. We seem to have become a society that has the need to feel full. When we start to feel hungry, we over exaggerate by saying “I’m starving!” If we focus on the one thing that can truly fill us, Jesus, we won’t feel the need to constantly gorge on other things, for He is the bread of life.

19 revelation 3-20

Are you feeling empty?  Can you hear Jesus knocking?Have you opened the door to your heart and invited Jesus into your life? He desires to come into your life and fill you with His love, grace and mercy. Let Jesus, the only One who knows how to fill you, feed you.

My prayer for us today ~ Father God, thank you for the many ways Your Son, Jesus, fulfills our needs. I pray we seek to be filled eternally by Jesus, not temporarily by the world, Amen.

 

Social Media ~ December 18, 2015

18 Social MediaIn January of 2010, I first ventured out into the world of social media to help promote a district wide campaign to raise funds for schools. I think the ‘world wide web’ is a great tool to get people’s needs known by others. It gives others the opportunity to help, if they desire. Sometimes we just need to know how to help. The needs of others can be met more efficiently when there’s a greater number of people aware of the help needed.

18 Proverbs 16-28

Unfortunately, the ‘world wide web’ isn’t always used for a positive purpose. Often it’s used to be hurtful and bring shame or embarrassment to others. People use it to glorify themselves as they judge and tare down others. When you see someone talking disrespectfully about another, beware. They may talk that way about you when you’re not around. It does tell us in Proverbs 16:28 that someone who speaks falsely of others becomes isolated from friends.

18 John 15-12

The greatest commandment is to love God and the second is to love one another. This doesn’t mean ‘only when we are face to face’. We are to love everyone, always, in all ways, even when on social media. Everything you post on social media should be truthful and done in a loving kind way. There is no reason, ever, to do or say anything in a hurtful or disrespectful way. Are you using social media in a loving, kind way? How can you be a positive influence on your social media sites?

I’m thankful for those who offer kind and encouraging words, to inspire and uplift, through social media. I’m thankful for the opportunity to share what’s in my heart, to possibly help another through a tough time. I’m thankful I can connect with people all over the world. I’m thankful for the many smiles and laughter I experienced from other social media sites all over the world. I’m thankful for those who share their silly, crazy moments in life to bring laughter and comfort to others.

My prayer for us today ~ Father God, thank you for the Holy Spirit, which offers us encouragement and comfort. I pray we would be more aware of the words we chose to speak and write. May our words always be helpful, not hurtful, Amen.

 

High Maintenance ~ December 17, 2015

17 NailsYears ago, while on a camping trip, I was told I was high maintenance. My response was, if having my hair done and wearing makeup means I’m high maintenance, then yes I am. This was even before I started getting my nails done.

I’m thankful for those who work in salons to help make us beautiful on the outside. I’m thankful for the whining and complaining they put up with day in and day out. They always make those they’re with feel special. I’m especially thankful for the beautiful ladies, on the inside and out, who take care of me each month.

17 1Thes 5-11

I’m very blessed to have friends who take care of my beauty needs. One puts up with my indecisiveness regarding what color my hair should be each month. Dark with a touch of red, no forget the red, not to dark, but not to light. Oh, and don’t forget to make sure those annoying sparkles (grays) are covered! Another friend takes wonderful care of my nails. We chat and catch each other up on what’s been going on in our worlds. It’s like friends meeting for coffee, but not. I’m thankful for the way they make me feel, loved and beautiful on the inside.

I’m thankful for the time I have to get my hair and nails done each month. I’m thankful to have the money to spend on such a luxury. I’m thankful for the husband who’s okay with my beauty needs. I’m thankful for the familiar faces I run into while at the salon and the new friends I sometimes make.

My prayer for us today ~ Father God, thank you for the wonderful and unique ways we are each made. I pray we would see each other as beautiful talented gifts, with a special purpose for You, Amen.

 

Friends Who Bake ~ December 16, 2015

15 holiday treatsA few days ago when I arrived at Bible study, I was greeted by a delicious bag of goodies. A few days later, I was tempted by a counter filled with scrumptious holiday cookies in the lobby at church (I did give in to this temptation), and moments ago, I was pleasantly surprised by one of Santa’s helpers dropping off mouth watering homemade sweet treats. (Pause as I lick my fingers and wipe crumbs from my face)

16 Heb 13-16

I’m thankful for those who have been gifted with the ability and desire to bake. I’m thankful for those who share what they bake with those not gifted with the ability or desire to bake. That would most definitely be me. (the no ability or desire!)

I’m thankful for those who spend many hours and lots of money to make delightful holidays treats to be shared with friends and family.

My prayer for us today ~ Father God, thank you for the many gifts and talents You have given to us. I pray we would use them for the good of others, Amen.

 

Home ~ December 15, 2015

15 pillowsTo me, a home is a place where you feel comfortable and safe. A place to gather with family and friends. A place to keep your stuff. A place where you can just be yourself.

I like to be cozy when I’m in my home. As soon as I get home from a day out and about, doing this and that, I like to get my PJ’s on, even if it’s 4 o’clock in the afternoon.

I’m thankful for the home God has allowed me to live in. I’m thankful for the many wonderful ways God provides for us to be here. I’m thankful for the family He allows me to live in the home with. I’m thankful for the floors to scrub, toilets to clean and windows to wash.

15 John 14-2-3

Have you ever tried to picture what the room Jesus is preparing for you in Heaven will look like? The room you will have in God’s house?! It blows my mind to think I will someday live eternally with God in His home! I think my room will be filled with kitties and squirrels with a rainbow across the ceiling and a heater (turned up high) hanging down in the center of the room. There will definitely be a lot of pillows and blankets to cuddle up with when I take my mid-afternoon naps too. What do you imagine your room will look like?

My prayer for us today ~ Father God, thank you for the eternal room in heaven being prepared for all believers. I pray all believers would recognize the urgency in spreading Your word those who do not know or believe, so they too may have a room with You one day, Amen.

 

Music ~ December 14, 2015

14 Music notesAs I mentioned in an earlier post, the worship part of Sunday service is my favorite. Why you ask? Because music makes me smile. Music can make me cry and get depressed too (yes, I’m a very emotional person if you haven’t figured that out yet). I prefer to listen to fun inspiring music because I would rather smile than cry. I love to dance. I can’t dance, but I love how music can make you want to get up and move. I love to sing along to the songs, but I can’t sing either. That’s why my favorite place to sit at church is up front on the side near a big speaker.

14 Psalm 98-4

I’m thankful for the ways music warms my heart and gets me moving. I’m thankful for those who God has gifted with the ability to sing. I often wish I could sing, but know that if I could, I would never want to stop.

I’m thankful for those who desire to share their hearts with the world through music. Those who spend hours upon hours learning how to sing, write a song or play a musical instrument. What’s your favorite kind of music? What song touches your heart? What song makes you want to jump and dance?

This song from Jamie Grace makes me smile and giggle and helps me laugh at myself. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

My prayer for us today ~ Father God, thank you for the creation of music and those You have placed this blessing upon. I pray we would be open to the ways music touches our heart and moves us physically, emotionally and spiritually, Amen.

 

Holy Spirit ~ December 13, 2015

13 courageI’m thankful for the Holy Spirit. God is so amazing! He knows I have a difficult time remembering what it is I’m suppose to do, so I have the Holy Spirit to help me out. All believers in Christ have received the Holy Spirit! I’m thankful the Holy Spirit not only helps me, it teaches me. It speaks to me, like a gentle soft loving voice deep within.

13 John 14-26

To me, the Holy Spirit is like a warm fuzzy blanket I get to carry around with me on the inside, where know one can disturb the comfort it brings me. How would you describe the Holy Spirit within you?

Just as it says in Romans 15:13, the Holy Spirit brings us hope. When we listen to the wisdom and guidance given by the Holy Spirit within, we will receive joy and peace, which leads to hope. Hope that all things will work out just as God plans and all He plans is good.

I’m thankful for the strength, courage and confidence I’ve received from the Holy Spirit. How has the Holy Spirit helped you this holiday season?

rom15-13

My prayer for us today ~ Father God, thank you for sending each who believes in Your Son, Jesus, a helper, the Holy Spirit. Lord I pray we would always look within for it’s guidance and wisdom, Amen.

 

Friends ~ December 12, 2015

12 friends necklace

I’m thankful for the friends God has placed in my life.

A friend…

 

 

  • is someone who loves you for who you are
  • loves you through your craziness
  • offers advice when requested
  • supports you, even when you don’t take their advice
  • prays for you when you ask
  • prays for you even when you don’t ask
  • is someone to laugh with
  • is someone to cry with
  • is someone to enjoy life with
  • can see through a fake smile
  • stands by you, always
  • stands the test of time & distance
  • offers sympathy & comfort
  • can never lose a place in your heart
  • is someone to share your thoughts with, without judgement
  • is a gift from God

12 Proverbs 17-17

My prayer for us today ~ Father God, thank you for the friends you place in our lives. I pray we would draw closer to them as we draw closer to You, Amen.

 

Bible Study Fellowship ~ December 11, 2015

11 candleSeveral years ago when I felt the desire to study the Bible to draw closer to God, a friend told me about BSF (Bible Study Fellowship) and encouraged me to check it out. I was told they went through one book or topic per school year and they were preparing to start a study on Genesis. It seemed like the perfect place for me to start, the first book of the Bible. So I joined!

At BSF they encourage you not to read commentaries until after you’ve done each study. This way, God can speak to you as you read each lesson and reveal what He has for you. I thought this was good at the time; the less reading there was the better. A couple of months into it, I was struggling to understand what the lesson was about, so I ‘googled’ the question. What I thought would be helpful wasn’t, it only confused me further.

I find it best to read one section at a time, looking over the questions and asking for God to open my heart and mind to receive what He desires me to know. What do you do that helps you study and retain the Bible when you read it?

I’m thankful for BSF because it keeps me in the word daily. At BSF I have a group of ladies that I see every week to discuss the lesson with. It’s a time to talk about what the chapter is about and what God is revealing to us through it. We also get to share how God is working in our lives, changing us, as we study His word.

I’m thankful for the structure of BSF. We study the lesson individually and then discuss it in a group. We then listen to a lecture about it and then receive notes to read that help us tie it all together. The discussion is my favorite part. Hearing the perspective of others opens my mind and heart to God. Each week, there’s a nugget from God, I receive from someone who shared. I enjoy the lecture because it helps me understand how to apply it to my life. The notes pull out the facts of the lesson, list other scripture that goes with it and offers helpful analogies to get the lesson from my mind to my heart and used in my daily life.

11 Psalm 119-105

I’m thankful for the prayers and encouragement I receive weekly from the ladies God has surrounded me with at BSF. I’m thankful they help point me to God, not myself. They bring smiles to my face and joy in my heart.

My prayer for us today ~ Father God, thank you for opportunities to study your word with others in Bible studies. I pray you would create a way for everyone who desires to study your word to do so, safely, Amen.

 

Prayer ~ December 10, 2015

10 torn curtainI’m thankful for the gift of prayer that was given to us when the veil, that kept us from a direct relationship with God, was torn.

At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. ~ Matthew 27:51

The more I pray, for myself and others, the calmer and more joyous I feel. You would think this would cause me to pray everyday all the time, but I have to confess, it doesn’t. I let myself get caught up in the circumstance and forget to invite God into it.

10 Colossians 4-2

I’m thankful God never leaves me, even when I forget to include Him. He’s always there waiting for me to speak, pray, to him. Because He desires me to be in constant fellowship with Him.

God doesn’t want us to pray, as if it’s just another thing to do in our day. We’re also to be watchful; be aware of how He answers our prayer, because He will. We’re to be thankful; be grateful and give God praise for the way He does answer our prayers. We are to shout to the world how awesome, holy and loving He is! How do you see God answering your prayers?

My prayer for us today ~ Lord Jesus, we thank you for tearing the veil that allowed us to be in constant fellowship with God the Father. I pray we would have the desire to be in constant communication with Him, Amen.

 

Rest ~ December 9, 2015

9 restingUnder normal circumstances, my favorite time of day is bedtime. I enjoy a good nights sleep. I’m one of the few, it seems, who needs and looks forward to, a full eight to nine hours of sleep. I appreciate sleep so much, that I often anticipate it throughout the day. Then when my head hits the pillow, I’m out within minutes, if not sooner. Often, my husband says I fall asleep while he’s talking to me.

The rest I’ve experienced today, I can’t say I find enjoyable. Having a lazy day in bed watching television all day is a fun way to rest. Staying in bed because you’re sick and your body aches is not a reason I would like to stay in bed. Why are kids always so good at sharing their germs, especially with mom?!

9 Genesis 2 2-3

I’m thankful God made our bodies with a need to rest. I’m thankful God modeled for us that it’s okay to rest after hard work. In fact, he commanded it.

Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work,  but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. Exodus 20:8-11

I find my to-do list gets longer and longer each week, with very little sense of accomplishment, especially this time of year. I have decorating to do, gifts to buy, hide, find and wrap and parties to attend. I’d like to have a new dress or shoes to wear to one of these parties, but that’s not likely to happen.

God makes it very clear with the 4th commandment; we are to take time to rest. I don’t think God expects us to all take Sunday off and do nothing, like they did in the Old Testament. I think we are simply to make time, weekly, to rest and enjoy the fruits of our labor. Take time out to fellowship with one another and share what we see God doing in our life. When was the last time you stopped to enjoy your hard work and the people God has placed in your life?

My prayer for us today ~ Father God, thank you for allowing us time to rest. I pray we would set the to-do list aside from time to time and enjoy what You have allowed us to accomplish, Amen.

 

The Church ~ December 8, 2015

8 church peopleI used to look forward to the weekend because it meant time to catch up on sleep and be lazy. Now I look forward to the weekend because I get to hang out with my church family Sunday morning. I find myself making excuses to be there for both services. I do enjoy sleeping in, but if I only go to the second service, I’ll miss seeing half of my church family. I don’t want to miss seeing anyone! I love my church family!

I’m thankful for my church family because….

  • they love me for who I am
  • they comfort me when I’m feeling down
  • they inspire me when I’m feeling defeated
  • they pray for me, even when I don’t ask
  • they praise God along side me
  • they worship God with me, even though I sing off key
  • they thank God for the gifts He has given me
  • they encourage & support me & my family during our trials
  • they help me be accountable to God
  • they point me to God, Jesus & the Holy Spirit
  • they allow me to pray for them
  • they offer guidance through God’s Word

Sunday mornings are the best! First I have the privilege of talking to a few to find out how their week went and maybe share what’s going on in my corner of the world. Then when the service starts, I get to praise and worship God together with everyone as one body, which is my favorite part of the morning. Especially when they sing one of my many favorite worship songs. What’s one of your favorite songs to sing in church?

8 1Cor 12-12

During the sermon I feel like a little kid having a story read to me. It’s awesome! The best part about the sermon lately is we have a different person preaching each week. I know some people don’t like that, they need consistency, but I love hearing different peoples perspectives. Each person has different stories to share about how God is speaking to them through His Word. To me, a great sermon is hearing God’s Word as well as something from the heart of the speaker. What do you enjoy about the sermon?

I’m thankful God uses the church, to bring different people together. People who, outside of the church, would never cross paths. He brings people of all ages, talents, stages in life and areas of the world together to be unified in Him, with one purpose, to love & worship Him.

My prayer for us today ~ Father God, thank you for creating a place where we can come together to worship & praise You. I pray we would hear You during the sermon, regardless of who is speaking, Amen.

God’s Word ~ December 7, 2015

7 open BibleA few years ago, when I first became an Elder at the church we attend, I went to a seminar offered to those in our church who were in leadership. I thought it would give me a clue as to what was expected of me. Toward the beginning, the speaker asked us to close our eyes, and then to raise our hand if we had read the entire Bible. I didn’t raise my hand. After opening our eyes, we were told only three people did, and there were about twenty of us in the room, all in leadership or about to step into a leadership role.

The majority of the seminar was about the importance of knowing Gods word, especially leaders within the church. God’s Word is our shield and our sword. We use it to protect us as well as fight our battles, but we can’t use it for either if we don’t know it.

7 2Tim3-16

I left this seminar feeling convicted. I decided to jump into action and start reading the Bible. I didn’t like the idea of possibly being the only one who had not read it and certainly didn’t want anyone to know I hadn’t read it. I spoke with the Pastor to let him know what I was doing, but he encouraged me not to read it from cover to cover. He suggested doing a chronological reading or to follow a planned study to read the Bible over a year. That sounded to complicated and would take way to long. I thought ‘it’s just a book filled with stories, how difficult can it be?’

I think I made it to somewhere in 2 Kings. Trying to read it like a book, a chapter at time, was insanity! Some of the chapters are short, so reading one or two wasn’t good enough. I felt like a wimp, so I pushed through three to four chapters at a time. My brain was on overload. There was too much going on with to many people. I couldn’t keep up with who did what to who. Once when the Pastor asked how it was going, I said, “It’s like reading a soap opera”. I wasn’t getting anything out of it except the feeling of inadequacy, so I stopped.

I believe God spoke to me through the speaker at the seminar that He wanted me to know His word. My problem however, was jumping into action to make this happen, instead of waiting on Him. I wanted to accomplish the task He had put before me, the quickest most efficient way possible.

7 Hebrews 4-12

It’s been four years since that seminar and I still can not say I’ve read the entire Bible. I’ve discovered it’s not ‘just a book’ and have learned to let God guide me through it as He sees fit.

I’m thankful for God’s Word. I’m thankful it’s alive and active and meant for us today, just as much as it was meant for the people who lived thousands of years ago. I’m thankful for the way God speaks to me when I read and study His word. I’m thankful for the hope, encouragement and love I find when reading God’s Word. What do you find when reading the Word of God?

My prayer for us ~ Father God, thank you for the encouragement and hope you poured out in Your Word for us. I pray we would each be filled with a deep desire to know You through Your Word, Amen.

 

Family ~ December 6, 2015

6family-treeI’m thankful for the family I have that live outside the walls of my home. It’s comforting to know that when things get overwhelming or seem confining, I can reach outside my home to others, who are also my family, for help.

Family are the people in your life that you don’t get to choose (parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, etc). They’re the people God places in your life. I’ve learned from experience, that God does not randomly place people in your life. There’s a purpose, a reason, behind each person in your life. Whether you meet them at the check-out counter or know them for a life time. Either you are to be a help to them, or them to you, or maybe you are to experience something together. Regardless, there is a reason each person you encounter is in your life.

6 1Tim 5-8

I love my family because we get to experience life together on a more intimate level. There are times when I need help or encouragement, like when my husband was ill, and they offered support and their unconditional love. There are other times when they looked to me for prayers or help when going through something tuff. Then there are those times when we come together to celebrate a happy occasion or lean on one anther when devastation hits.

There are times when families don’t get along. You have different opinions or thoughts about things, so you chose to distance yourself from each other. Sometimes we need to remember it’s not important that everyone agrees with us. We each have our own opinions and sometimes it’s best to agree to disagree. Different ideas is a wonderful thing, otherwise things would be boring. Who in your family do you need to reach out to and reconnect?

6 Romans 12-10

God calls us to love one another, even when we know their flaws and have seen them at their worst. I’m thankful for the family God placed in my life. These are the people God gifted in a special way just for me. Only He knows what gift that is and when it will be used. It’s as if each family member has a special hidden gift for me. How has someone in your family helped you in a time of need?

There are also times when God gifts me in special ways so I can be of help to my family. Like when my mom was diagnosed with Cancer and I was able to care for her and be what my family needed at the time. How has God enabled you to help someone in your family?

I’m looking forward to living life with my family, as we, together, experience the gifts God has placed in our lives.

My prayer for us today ~ Father God, thank you for each family member you placed in our life. I pray we would recognize the ways you have gifted them. I also pray we would boldly use the gifts you give us to help them when needed, Amen.

 

God’s Mercy ~ December 5, 2015

5 praying hands crossHaving mercy on someone is not treating them as they deserve. God showed great mercy on His people, you and me, by providing a way for us to be forgiven for our sinful ways. Because God is holy, He can’t ignore or tolerate sin, there must be a consequence or sacrifice made. This consequence is death, which keeps us from having a relationship with Him.

He saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit. ~ Titus 3:5

God deeply desires to be close to us. This is why He sent His Son, Jesus, who was sinless, to pay for our sins. God’s mercy for us is allowing us to live eternally with Him, even though we don’t deserve it. I’m thankful for the mercy I received, and continue to receive daily, from God.

One of the definitions of mercy in the dictionary is ‘an act of kindness, compassion, or favor’.

5 luke6-36

God calls all who choose to receive His mercy to pass this mercy on to others. We are to treat others, even when they’re having a bad day, with kindness, compassion and love. Even when they have no excuse for being rude, hateful or disrespectful, we are to be forgiving and merciful. We are to look past the actions and see the person in front of us. Which is what God did for us. He looked past the sin and provided a way for the people to live!

The amazing thing is, God doesn’t expect us to do this on our own. He wants us to call out to Him and ask for His help. What sin do you need God’s help to look past, so you can love on the person behind it?

I’m thankful God equips us with His love, compassion and mercy to pour out onto others.

My prayer for us today ~ Father God, thank you for the mercy you offer us, which brings us eternal life with you. I pray we boldly & courageously show mercy to those around us, Amen.

 

Children ~ December 4, 2015

4 parentingWhile I was growing up, I always thought kids younger than me were weird, gross and had a funny odor. This stuck with me as I became a young adult. I was never the one to offer to hold a baby, and if you asked me to, I would look at you as if you were crazy, as I said ‘No’. I didn’t even want to be near a baby, or anyone much younger than me. I just couldn’t relate.

The first fulltime job I had while I was studying Accounting was as a Bookkeeper for a daycare center. I thought, ‘no big deal, I’ll be back in an office. I won’t even notice the little smelly people with runny noses’. That didn’t work out very well for me. You see, my desk was in the front lobby so the parents could check in with me as they dropped their kids off. I was able to see every screaming kid as they walked in. Lucky me!

For the first month or so I didn’t seem to notice the little monsters as they arrived. I was busy learning the routine of my job and putting names to faces, parent’s faces that is. I had no desire to get to know the strange little people being carried in.

4 Mat 19-14

Then it happened. One of the little monsters walked over and handed me something. My heart melted! I don’t remember what I was handed, probably because I was hypnotized by the adorable little voice. In that moment my heart changed. I suddenly had a strong desire to know more about the little people who spent their days there with me. After that day, you could always find me on my breaks in the toddler room. Actually, I think I spent more time in that room than at my desk.

I’m thankful God changed my heart toward children. I’m thankful God gave me the gift of three beautiful children (2 daughters and 1 son). I love how each of my children are completely different from each other and I get to be at center stage watching them grow and change as they experience life. They each help me see the world in different ways and I am incredibly thankful for that.

Sure, there are some extremely difficult things to go through as a parent, but the joy, laughter and fun far out ways those times. I simply need to trust that God gave me these 3 to raise because I have what they need. I also need to remember that God will enable me to be what they need when they need it.

4 Eph 6-4

My prayer for us today ~ Father God, thank you for the gift of children and the way You allow us to teach them. I pray we would courageously raise them in a way pleasing and honoring to You, Amen.

 

God’s Grace ~ December 3, 2015

3 grace heartGod’s grace is a powerful thing. Many people have no idea what God’s grace is or simply don’t believe it’s something they could possibly need. I use to be one of those people.

I use to have a hard time seeing beyond myself to the world around me, because I was so busy. It was always about getting something done, never about loving, or even seeing, the people around me.

Receiving God’s grace means receiving something that is not deserved. Eternal life in heaven with God is offered to everyone through His Son Jesus, but we don’t deserve it because we are sinners. Everyone is loved by God equally, but at the same time, we are all sinners. The punishment for sin is death, eternal death.

Jesus conquered sin through His crucifixion on the cross and resurrection. Jesus died on the cross for the sins of the world. If you choose to believe this is true and accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior, believing he saved you from sin, then you will be forgiven of your sins, past and present. You will receive eternal life in heaven, not death, with God when you pass from this life.

3 grace Eph2 8-9

Since I’ve chosen to believe and accept Jesus, my perspective in life has changed. It hasn’t changed because of anything I’ve done, it’s changed because God has changed my heart. He has helped me see the people in my life, not the tasks or circumstances of my life. I’m thankful for the grace offered to me by God through His Son Jesus.

My prayer for us today ~ Lord Jesus, thank you for giving of your life so that I may be forgiven of my sins to receive eternal life in heaven. I pray for opportunities to share God’s grace with others, Amen.

 

My Husband ~ December 2, 2015

Hus utensilsWhen I was growing up, my mom always tried to get me in the kitchen to teach me how to cook. I had no interest in learning and didn’t believe I would need to know how. I always had the same response when my mom tried to convince me how important it was to know how to cook, which was “mom, someday I’m going to be rich and have my own chef.”

I have to say, I am blessed with some earthly riches and have heavenly riches waiting for me in heaven, but I don’t think it’s enough to be considered ‘rich’ in the eyes of the world. I can, however, say I do have a chef. His name is Robert and he’s my husband. He’s not a chef by trade. He’s a retired Law Enforcement Officer who now volunteers as a Law Enforcement Chaplain.

When it comes to food I must admit, I am as lazy as it gets. I can cook, not well, but I can. I’ll cook when needed for the kids. Things like hot dogs, mac-n-cheese, tacos or grilled cheese. I can do chicken or pork chops on the Foreman grill, but when it comes to making myself something, forget it! I’ll grab a banana or yogurt before I’ll make eggs and toast. Pathetic I know!

Don’t worry, my kids eat just fine. How is that possible you ask? Simple, my husband enjoys cooking. He says it soothes him and makes him happy to know he’s made something we enjoy eating. We have a deal at our house, he cooks it and I clean up after it. He even does most of the grocery shopping. Pretty sweet deal if you ask me!

husband 1Cor7-3

My husband spoils me! He’ll make anything I want to eat, almost anytime I want it. He’ll even go to the store to buy it if we don’t have it. One minute I mention ‘enchiladas sound good’, the next thing I know, that’s what’s for dinner.

I’m thankful for the husband God chose to bless me with. I never have to think about food, it simply appears. Each week, before heading to the store, my husband asks each of us what we would like for dinner. He also asks the kids what kind of snacks or lunch items they would like, so they don’t get bored eating the same thing week after week. I’m thankful for the special ways my husband cares for the kids and I. How does your spouse, or friend, perfectly care for you?

My prayer for us today ~ Father God, thank you for the ways you have gifted my husband, I pray for opportunities and ways to express my appreciation to him, Amen.

 

God’s Love ~ December 1, 2015

heart crossI’m thankful for the great and mighty love God has for me.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. ~ John 3:16

Isn’t that amazing! God loves us so much, regardless of how messed up we are, that He offered us His Son, Jesus, so we would have the choice to be in a close relationship with Him. There is truly no greater love than the love God the Father has for His people, us.

I find it fascinating that when God created us, He knew we would turn from Him and sin. He not only created everything on heaven and earth, He also created a plan to redeem us. A plan that would allow Him to look past our sinful ways and pour out His blessings upon us. He has continually pointed His people to this merciful and gracious plan since the beginning of time.

Romans 8 38-39

Romans 8:38-39

God’s love for His people, us, is so intense, that nothing can ever come between His love and us. For those who choose not to believe in Him, He still loves them and continues to reach out to them through the people and circumstances surrounding them. For those who have wondered away from Him and been captivated by the world around them, His love will never fade. He continues to patiently wait for you, while offering guidance for a safe return to Him. Have you wandered from God? How is He calling you back to Him?

Those who earnestly seek after God will continue to see Him through answered prayer, the words or actions of others, His Word and His stunning creation. How has God revealed Himself to you recently?

My prayer for us today ~ Father God, thank you for your plan to save us through your Son, Jesus, so we may draw close to you. I pray we would feel the love you have for us in our heart, mind and soul, Amen

Giving Thanks ~ November 30, 2015

open-gateNovember is traditionally the month everyone lists what they’re thankful for. Since I’m not one to do things just because everyone else is, I’m going to close the year by giving thanks each day in December.

This has been a challenging year for me. There have been many overwhelming changes within the church I attend and I’ve been struggling to find peace and balance within my marriage. I believe with all my heart the challenges I’ve faced this year are meant to draw me closer to God.

Within the storm this season of my life has brought, I know there have been, and will continue to be, many blessings. I simply must choose to see them, trusting God is in control of the good, as well as the bad. He is amidst the storm with me offering all I need to get through it, and sometimes the only thing He offers is Himself. I need to accept that and continue moving forward with Him as my shield, because He is all I need.

Psalm 100_4

Please join me, starting tomorrow, as I go through the month of December, describing why I’m thankful for different things in my life. What are you thankful for? Why?

My prayer for us today ~ Father God, thank you for loving us, even when we fail you. I pray we would see You and not the storms around us, Amen.

Praying Scripture ~ November 9, 2015

light buldYou know that moment when something clicks? That light bulb moment when something sinks down into your heart that’s been bouncing around in your brain, for what feels like forever?

While I was working on my BSF (Bible Study Fellowship) lesson this week, reading Ephesians 4:25-32, I thought “I want/need to stop doing these things and start responding in the way Paul is calling the church to respond. But how will I do this?” That’s when it clicked….I don’t have to do it. I can’t do it, not alone anyway. I am to call upon the power of Jesus by praying over the scripture. Turn the scripture into a prayer and let God change my heart. I’ve heard the term ‘pray the scriptures’, but didn’t understand what the real purpose of it was. Now I get it!

~Seek the strength of God for ALL He requires of you~

Have you, or anyone you know, ever wished there was a manual for life; a book that would tell you what you should or shouldn’t do, or how to get things done. Something that would tell you the secret to being more productive or how to deal with the annoying people in your life? Well guess what?! There is such a book! It’s called the Bible. It’s the word of God, given to you and me as a gift.

Bible

Are you a believer? Do you believe God sent His one and only Son, Jesus Christ, to die for the sins of the world? Do you believe Jesus was crucified (died on the cross), and then rose again and later ascended into heaven, to sit at the right hand of God the Father? If you do believe, you also have the gift of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will help you interpret the Bible, and what God wants to tell you through it, as you read it. If you don’t believe, I would love to commuicate with you about what’s holding you back. Please send me a message through the ‘contact’ page of my website (www.inhisway.net) so we can chat.

Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body. “In your anger do not sin”. Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need.

Do no let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:25-32

plug power of prayer

Father God, You call us to be like you, righteous and holy. I pray to carefully select my words, so they would be filled with Your truth. I pray to let go of any anger that begins to stir within me. I pray the devil would not be allowed to dance around my head; but cast out of it, so my mind may be filled only with thoughts that are pleasing to You. I pray I would not steal precious moments in the day that You have given me, to fill them with empty things that distract me from You. Lord, help me discern Your will for me. I call upon your wisdom and strength to accomplish the tasks You call me to.

I pray You would guard my mouth; let only words that build up or encourage escape my lips; may my words be filled with Your wisdom, guidance & discernment to benefit others. May I never forget the gift of the Holy Spirit that You gave to me, that dwells within me, the moment I chose Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. May I always call upon the power of the Holy Spirit so it may transform my heart, mind & soul. Lord, I pray the bitterness, anger and rage that stirs within me be cast out and replaced with a kind, loving, forgiving and compassionate heart. Thank you Lord for the many opportunities You have given me to serve You. To You be all the honor and glory, Amen.

My prayer for us today ~ Father God, thank you for the gift of the Holy Spirit and Your words, the Bible. I pray we would have a deep desire to read Your word and draw closer to You, Amen

Armor of God ~ August 2015

armor of GodI find it a little funny that some people think being a Christian means your life is easier because God is involved. I’ve been seeking God since November 2008 and have faced more trials since then than before dedicating my life to Jesus. Prior to inviting God into my life, my only enemies were those in the world who opposed me and myself. Now that I have the power of God, the love of Jesus and the guidance of the Holy Spirit, there’s another enemy that wishes to steal, kill and destroy all God has for me. This new enemy is satan.

Control yourselves and be careful! The devil is your enemy, and he goes around like a roaring lion looking for someone to attack and devour. ~ 1 Peter 5:8 

A few weeks ago, I was sharing with a dear sweet friend something I’ve been struggling with. Toward the end of our conversation, she looked at me and said very seriously, “Are you putting on your Armor of God everyday?”. My answer at first was “yes”. Then after a pause, I think I said, “I try to”. Since this conversation, the idea of the armor of God has been rattling around in my brain. The more I thought about it, the more I realized I know what the Bible says about the armor of God and where to find it, Ephesians 6:14-18, but I didn’t understand why God offered this to believers or how it was to help us.

I’ve been reading, thinking (ouch!) and praying about the armor of God and this is what I’ve come up with:

belt of truthBelt of truth ~ The definition of truth is the quality of being genuine, exact, loyal or honest. I believe our belt of truth is the knowledge of who God is, what Jesus has done for us and how the Holy Spirit dwells within us. We can receive this when we read, study and learn God’s Word, the Bible. Are you fining it difficult to call upon God or pray? It’s hard to seek someone who you don’t know. The more we understand God’s almighty power, the more we will desire to call upon Him through good and bad. The easier it will be to trust in His glorious plan and timing of it.

breastplate of righteousnessBreastplate of Righteousness ~ The definition of righteousness is being morally right or justifiable. The point of a breastplate is to protect the heart. I think we are to protect our hearts from satan and the lies he wants us to believe. Satan wants to destroy the fellowship we have with God. God desires for us to do what is right and just, but satan would rather we settle for what is easy. If we believe the lies satan is telling us, it becomes hard to lean on God for His wisdom and strength to do what is right and just. So how do we put on the breastplate of righteousness? I think you’re already wearing it if you take the knowledge of God’s Word and apply it to the way you’re living. Take God’s word and act it out in your daily life. Have you moved the knowledge of God’s Word down into our heart?

gospel of peaceGospel of Peace ~ The definition of peace is freedom from disturbance, quiet & tranquility, serenity and a mental calm. I’ve always thought the word gospel simply meant Word of God or the Bible. Meaning we should know the Bible and it will bring us peace. In Ephesians 6:15 it says ‘with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace’. It’s more than simply knowing. It’s seeking, daily, the will of God. Seeking to know more about God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Satan wishes to cause chaos in our lives and to distract us from seeking God’s will and keep us from the peace we can receive in Christ Jesus. How can we become fitted with the gospel of peace? Praise God in all circumstances, good or bad. Give God the glory in all your accomplishments. Thank Him for all you have and trust He will provide for all your needs. This will fill you with a peace only God can give and satan can not touch.

shield of faithShield of Faith ~ The Bible, Ephesians 6:16, says the shield of faith is to ‘extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one’. The Biblical definition of faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see, Hebrews 11:1. Our hope comes from believing God sent His Son, Jesus, to die for our sins. Believing the death and resurrection of Jesus gave us not only access to God the Father, but forgiveness of our sins, so that we do not have to pay the penalty of our sins, which his death. Believing that accepting Jesus as our Lord and Savior allows us to have eternal life in heaven, when our life here on earth is done. Believing we have been given the gift of the Holy Spirit, which dwells in us, as a guide, while we finish our days on earth. I hope for God’s will in my life (if I could only get out of His way, and stay there) and eternity with Jesus. I cannot see God, Jesus or the Holy Spirit, but I am certain they exist and love me more than words can express. Our hope in the trinity protects us from the deception of satan and distractions of the world.

helmet of salvationHelmet of Salvation ~ Salvation is the deliverance from sin. The moment someone accepts Jesus as their Lord and Savior they receive salvation. Salvation cannot be lost or taken away, but a believer can certainly stray from the path God has for them. I think the helmet of salvation is referring to always remembering why you gave your life to Christ and drawing closer to Him each day. Don’t let what Jesus did for you become an old fact that’s rattling around in your brain. Learn what it means for you. Praise Jesus for what He did for you on the cross. Give thanks for what He offers you today, tomorrow and eternally. Filling your mind with all that is of God will not leave room for satan to come in and fill it with lies.

sword of the spiritSword of the Spirit ~ In Ephesians 6:17 it says the sword of the Spirit is the word of God. I think carrying the sword of the Spirit with us means to not just know what the Bible says in our minds, but carry it with us in our hearts. Believe the Word of God to be true and boldly use the knowledge of the Bible in our every day lives. This will help us fight the temptations of sin and satan. Proclaim the Word of God and the name of Jesus so you can become victorious against satan.

prayerPray in the Spirit ~ The scriptures are also to be used in prayer. Pray the scriptures over all the details of your life. There is nothing to small or big for us to lift up in prayer to God. We are to be alert and always pray for all.

I know this may seem like a tall order, but you can pray and seek God’s help with a piece of His armor, or even all of it, if you need help putting it on. I’ve been struggling with receiving the peace God has for me. I’ve let my sandals of peace wear out and find myself needing to be fitted for new ones. I need to get back to praising and thanking God, regardless of my circumstances, trusting He is working because God is good….all the time, not just some of the time!

How do you put on your armor of God? How has wearing your armor of God helped you? Do you find a particular part of God’s armor more difficult to put on?

My prayer for us today ~ Father God, thank you for offering your armor to believers so we may fight the good fight against satan and the world. I pray we would be persistent in wearing your armor so we may boldy and confidently give you all the glory, Amen.

Power ~ September 2015

PowerHave you ever had a song stuck in your head that you could not shake? Well, for the past 2-3 weeks I have had ‘There is Power’, by Lincoln Brewster, stuck in my head. Usually, I wouldn’t think much about it, especially since this is an amazing song. It started getting a little weird, when almost every time I got in the car or turned on the radio, that song would be on. I don’t mean somewhere in the middle of the song, no. I mean as soon as I would turn the car or radio on it would be right at ‘There is power in the name of Jesus”. The first few times I thought “oh, that’s that song I have stuck in my head, funny.” Then after it happened about the 4thtime I thought, “oh, I better pay attention and figure out what God’s trying to say to me.”

I think God wants to make sure I truly understand the power available to me through His Son, Jesus. I think God is telling me He is waiting patiently for me to take action and call upon this power. I think God would like me to take action NOW, because there are things He desires to put into action and His timing for these things is NOW.

As a believer in Jesus, someone who accepted Jesus as her Lord and Savior, I have the power of the Holy Spirit, which dwells within me. The Holy Spirit intercedes in prayer for me when I can’t express what’s in my heart. The Holy Spirit can also encourage or convict me when necessary. But as the song says, ‘there is power in the name of Jesus’ too.

The Holy Spirit can’t intercede for us in prayer if we don’t pray. The power of Jesus is available to us 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, but it’s up to each of us to call upon the power. God wants us to utilize the power, that’s why He makes it available. This power is what makes the impossible become possible. Most believers call upon the power of Jesus when praying, but their prayer time is scarce.

…those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs-heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. Romans 8:14-17

In Romans 8 we are told that those who are led by the Spirit are children of God. As children of God we are heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, Jesus. When we pick up our cross daily, seek God in everything, regardless of our circumstances, we will share in the glory of God. How exciting is that?!

So how can we seek God daily? One way is by reading the Bible, the Word of God. We are just like the people in the Bible, always looking to ourselves or other things and not God. So we can learn from their mistakes. We can learn from Jesus and how He taught his disciples and the people. I encourage you to pick up the Bible, ask God to speak to you through it, open it up and read a chapter. Then sit in silence and listen for God. I know He will reveal himself to you because God loves you and has so much to say to you.

Another way we can seek God is through prayer. When I say prayer, I don’t mean shooting up wishes or demands to God whenever we find ourselves in a tight spot. I mean participating in a relationship with God. The definition of prayer is a spiritual fellowship with God; sharing of thoughts or emotions; intimate communication. In order to experience these things with God you must pray regularly and passionately. Tell God your inner most thoughts, hopes, fears, dreams or whatever comes to mind. Yes, God already knows all of this, but He is waiting for you to invite Him into them. God will not push himself on you. He patiently waits to be invited in so He can help you and pour out His blessings upon you.

Another way we can seek God is through worship. When I say worship, I don’t mean singing necessarily. Yes, we do worship God through singing, but that’s not the only way to worship. Praising and thanking God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit is a way to worship. Giving God the glory for our accomplishments and all we have is a way to praise and thank Him.

A few weeks ago I saw the movie ‘War Room’ with my husband. I enjoyed it so much I went back a few days later with friends to see it again. If you haven’t seen it yet, I strongly recommend it. It lit a fire in me! I haven’t started a prayer room, but I have started a prayer journal. I have pages for every part of my life and every one in my life. I spend more time lifting up all the areas in my life to God. I don’t just babble a list of wants and demands. I thank God for what I have and ask for Him to use me for His glory. I pause often while praying so the Holy Spirit can intercede and prompt me. Before moving onto a different area in my life or person, I thank God for His good and perfect plan and His answers to my prayer. I pray with an expectant heart, believing God will answer in a mighty, amazing and bold way.

My prayer for us today ~ Father God, thank you for the power offered to all believers across the world. I pray we would take the time to fellowship with you daily to deepen our relationship with You, Amen.

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