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Have you noticed that God puts things on our heart long before He reveals it to us? I really struggle with this because I have a strong desire (need) to know exactly what is expected of me so I can figure out precisely how I will get done what needs to be done. I like to have a plan, an organized detailed plan.
Thankfully, God is always giving me opportunities to be patient and trust His timing and His plan. Of course I always have dozens of questions for Him as to how He plans for this and when. I also have many, many, many suggestions how He can get things accomplished in ways that I feel would be best. These are the times God is usually quiet, waiting for me to be silent so He can speak through His gentle loving gracious merciful whisper.
In the spring of 2002 my husband and I decided it would be best for me to stay home with the kids and be a Stay-At-Home-Mom. I was thrilled at the idea, mainly because I was bored out of my mind with ‘work’ and needed a change. About 13 years later, while in the midst of Chaplain training, God gave me the desire to ‘work’ again.
What would I possibly do? Go back to Accounting? Work as a Chaplain? Open a business? How would I have time for my family, friends and the church? What? How? When? Why? These are just a few of the questions I asked God while trying to figure it all out myself. So exhausting! The thought of creating a resume after, now 14 yeas of not ‘working’, overwhelmed me. I convinced myself no one would every want to hire me, so why bother.
When my anxious thoughts multiply within me,
Your consolations delight my soul.~ Psalm 94:19
Then, the funniest thing happened. A position for an Administrative Assistant/Bookkeeper became available at the church I attended. I mentioned I MIGHT apply and the next thing I knew, the job was being offered to me. Why is this so funny? Well, I was currently on Session, an Elder, over Admin and Finances and the CFO. I kind of had an idea about the job that needed to be filled. Of course I would have to step down from Session before being allowed on staff, but easily done.
I was excited to be the bookkeeper but terrified to be responsible for the weekly bulletin. Could I handle representing the ‘church’? What if I messed up? Could I handle having a set schedule every week? I made my own schedule for so long. What if I got bored? My days of sleeping in and getting up whenever would be over. Wait, who was I kidding, I was a mom of three, I almost never slept in or made my own schedule. Suddenly the thought of having a set schedule and a place to go and be organized and detailed sounded glorious.
I know I mess up or forget things all the time, but thankfully I work with an amazing staff and the best volunteers on the planet! I get to see and talk with my church family every day of the week, work with numbers and keep things organized. I’ve now been working for 14 months with no worry of EVER being bored. I never know what the day will bring except God’s goodness! I don’t believe there’s a better job out there for me!
I think I’ve adjusted well to ‘working’. I enjoy what I do and LOVE the people I work with. My family is having a slightly more difficult time adjusting. When they call to tell me about their day, which is great, I gently remind them I’m at work and will talk with them more when I get off. Well, I’ve been told, in a nice way, how my ‘job’ is sometimes inconvenient for them. I love seeing how God is working on them as He is working on me.
Ask and it will be given to you;
Seek and you will find;
Knock and the door will be opened to you.
If you are in the season of the unknown, maybe with a strong desire for change, ask God your questions about it. He would like to be invited in and can certainly handle your concerns. Don’t stop seeking God’s answers because they are usually better than you could imagine.
My Prayer for us today ~ Thank you Father God for the tender, loving patience you have with us. Lord, I pray for Your wisdom, courage and strength to continually seek Your plan for us. I pray we trust You are at work in all things as we patiently wait upon you, Amen.
As some of you may know, my husband is a Chaplain for First Responders. He works with local Police, Sheriff, Fire, EMS and Dispatchers. He visits these various stations and offers emotional and spiritual support and a helping hand when needed. The call he gets most often is to give a death notification. Which means he has the job of telling someone that their close family member has died, usually because of a tragic unexpected accident.
Very rarely does a week go by that he isn’t called out to give a death notification. As you might imagine, I hear about most calls he goes on, including the death notifications, as well as the follow-ups.
Death is something we all must face at a time unknown. When asked why we must die, the response is usually “because we can’t live forever”. As a believer in Jesus, I think we (Christians), those who believe in God and have accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior, can and will live forever. Not forever here on this earth, but eternally in heaven and someday the new earth with Jesus, who is seated at the right hand of God.
Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. Romans 8:34
Recently, I heard that a dear friend, who had been fighting her second battle with cancer, had weeks, possibly days, to live. My heart was overwhelmed with sorrow. I thought about her being a light in the community and to anyone she came in contact with. She has a true servants heart with a desire to build the Kingdom of God and share the love of Christ.
I immediately began lifting my sweet friend in prayer, asking God Almighty for a miracle. I believed that He had cured her the first time around, so I asked Him to do it again. A day or two later, I heard things were not looking good, so I added to my prayer. I asked that if He were calling her, His child, home that He would allow her to slip away from us into His loving arms filled with His peace, feeling calm and with no pain.
The next evening, the world lost an amazing woman, a true light.
For all those who are affected by this devastating loss, I am overwhelmed with sorrow. I pray God will reveal Himself to them in ways that fill them with peace and comfort as they process their grief and adjust to the loss of the relationship they had with her.
For my sister in Christ, I am filled with joyous praise. Why?
- She has reached her eternal home in heaven with Jesus.
- I will get to see her again, when God calls me, to my eternal home.
- Her sorrow, tears and pain have come to an end.
- God blessed me, and many others, by knowing her
And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away. Revelation 21:4
My heart breaks for everyone across the world who does not know God, chooses to hold Him at arms length or who simply reject Him. I cannot imagine living eternally without experiencing God’s love, grace and mercy, which we all receive at some level as we walk through this life here on earth.
My prayer for us today ~ Father God, thank you for the gift of eternal life with You, through the life Your Son Jesus gave for us. I pray you would soften the heart of those who do not know you so they would see You through the love, compassion and help they receive from others, Amen.
Meet Justina, and take a peak into the moment her life was dramatically changed forever.
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.
Justina 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.
Did 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.
- 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.
- Reduce your intake of over the counter pain meds with an anti-inflammatory component (NSAIDs).
- Eat more foods rich in nutrients and less that are processed. They suggest the DASH Diet
- Exercising at least 30 minutes per day.
- 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.
- Cash donation
- Donate an old vehicle
- Give a stock gift
- Join a kidney walk
- Participate in a NKF Golf Classic Tournament
- 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.
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.
February 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.
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.
Yesterday, 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?
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.
I 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.
I’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.