“And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” Romans 5:5 NIV
Good morning children of God and Happy Thursday. It’s Forgiveness Thursday, which is a reminder to start anew forgiving yourself and others.
With the recent destruction of Hurricane Michael, I find myself busier than ever trying to make a difference, but with the same demands from people. Actually with more demands from other people. I know and see the needs and do not feel angered. Yet, sometimes I think bureaucratic requirements that will not make a huge difference in how life goes on from day, should be maybe more reasonable considering the circumstances.
Then, I face the day-to-day problems of life. Last week our Great Dane died unexpectedly leaving a hole in our hearts and lives. Our cat is not at all happy either. My husband burned his hands badly. Then, the part the took the cake for me, was sitting in the doctor’s office for the second time with vampire red eyes and painful joints listening to the doctor tell me there is nothing else he could do for me until a new drug is developed that will not lower my white count so much.
I’m no different than you or anyone else. We all have struggles. It’s how we respond that determines how happy we will be. Where do you find your hope?
Monday night my husband and I attended a For King and Country concert, which touched our hearts and provided good Christian praise music and entertainment. I was even impressed with the t-shirt sales staff, who prayed with the volunteers and taught them how to make a difference in the lives of the concert attendees. Then, yesterday, after hitting my point of exhaustion, I led the teen group at our church. God showed me the hope I needed again. There may be lots of bad in the world, but there is always hope when we take time to listen and train our youth.
So, today I encourage you to listen to Holy Spirit God has poured into our hearts. He is provided for our comfort and for us to use to comfort others. God bless you.
“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV
Happy Friday. I haven’t posted in a few weeks and I feel like I owe my readers an explanation. Sometimes explanations are easier to feel than to relay. Last Spring I took on an additional duty at work of writing newspaper articles weekly. I love this new part of my job. I have the opportunity to hear stories and convey them in a positive light. It’s not like regular news reporting. It’s promoting businesses and how people feel about themselves. So, weekly I interview people and write two to three articles which appear in two newspapers. I was very blessed to have one article appear in two larger, regional newspapers. I had experienced some heartbreak at home and this new venture, although stressful when meeting deadlines, left me feeling like I helped people.
Then, October 10th the world as our community knows it changed when Hurricane Michael wiped out our town. The workload in our office increased dramatically. I sometimes feel my head is spinning with tasks I’m juggling. Again, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I want to help with housing, economic recovery and spiritual health. So, about two months ago I began working more closely with others on housing provisions. Then, about a month ago I decided to get involved with the long term recovery team. This is on top of my already too busy workload. Yet, it feels good to make a difference in whatever small way I can.
In the middle of all this recovery work and writing, I decided to join the gym on January 1st. I want to be healthier and lose weight. I haven’t lost weight, but I have been faithful to going to the gym six days a week for 1-2 hours a day. Also, around this time we learned our daughter is going to have a baby. How exciting! I knew I needed to finish up my classes, so I could make her a quilt.
Then, one other thing happened. I had been hearing the call for a while, but for whatever reason, I wasn’t responding. One morning while leading Sunday School a grandmother conveyed her concerns about what was being taught in history at the local public school and how it conflicted with what the Bible tells us. So, I knew I needed to step up. Now, I’m leading a teen group on Wednesday night. For a church that had few children attending Sunday School, I feel so blessed to have 5-9 teens coming every week to learn. What a blessing!
Well, no one can do it all, and I’m no exception. In the midst of my own stress, I felt Satan’s daily attacks. Before I knew it, I wasn’t keeping up with my classes. I was studying my Bible to teach, but not for my daily reading, and I quit writing my blog. Most days I was going to work at 7 am and getting home around 9:30 pm. My husband has been supportive and helpful with the house work, but my life lacks balance. In the middle of it all I was spending far too much time on social media.
So tonight I realized that I need to give up a few bad habits and add back the good. While I will not be posting every day. I plan to post one to two times a week. I also plan to study my Bible daily for my relationship with God. I’m going to work more on my classes and spend less time on games and social media.
There are a few good things that have occurred over the course of the last year. God has brought some special Christian friends into my life. One friend is my gym buddy. Another is my spiritual friend, who fasts and prays with me. Also, about a year ago I joined a Women’s Bible Study class in another town and with another denomination. I love these ladies. We study together every week.
I have come to realize that none of us are perfect, but I have been growing despite setbacks. Satan knows our weaknesses and when I’m under attack the most, I must be doing something right.
It has now been over four months since the storm hit. I was in a meeting on Wednesday where six of the eight people present still did not have phone and Internet service. Our community was hit by one of the largest storms recorded, but we were forgotten. I live in a rural area with lots of trees, or maybe I should say we had lots of trees. The damage we have dealt with is different from what others have experienced. The storm hit right before the election and the California fires. We have been forgotten by many. Yet here we are, a community already economically depressed, with businesses and residents gone. This morning I was told that a school bus never picked up some of the children. Why? It’s easier to leave than to struggle in the aftermath. There were not enough school bus drivers. This is one of the many issues we face. Depression is another. I heard a report of seven suicides related to the storm. Just driving through the debris daily is depressing and many are not able to use their church buildings. Our church has this problem. Yet, our blessings are more. Hundreds of people have helped our community and we have each other. Above all we have our sweet Lord.
I request prayers for our community. God bless you.
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds,”
James 1:2 NIV
Happy Tuesday! Since Hurricane Michael came through the Florida Panhandle, I talk to depressed people every day. Honestly, the feelings have washed over me from time to time. It’s difficult to find joy in your world when it has been devastated. Every time we walk out the door we are faced with it again. So, we face daily trials, which will last for many years. Of course, we all have many things to be thankful for, and we are all thankful. Yet that is not enough.
Many people face depression and trials that still their joy. It doesn’t have to be a hurricane. It could be a situation at work, or with family. It could be a problem with finances, especially with the government shut down. Many people worry so much about their children that they lose their joy. It’s a common problem. We look to the past have regret. We look too far into the future and have fear.
I was listening to a minister this morning who said “if you are not joyful, then there is a problem with your priorities”. This statement is powerful. Where do you find your joy. How many times have you posted photos on Facebook or Instagram to get likes. Do you think likes determine friendship? I use Facebook, but we can’t let it rule our life. Most of us have a few friends we can call on in emergency, and they aren’t the many who like our photos and memes.
True joy comes from a heart with God as the top priority. If you are finding your joy is gone and you are in despair. Check your heart and priorities. Don’t look to what’s around you. Don’t look to the past or too far into the future. Look to God and place him first. Realize that whatever trial your facing is temporary and is being used to shape you.
“And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”
2 Corinthians 12:9 KJV
Happy Thursday and happy 2019! In the panhandle of Florida, as in many places, the new year provides hope: hope for new opportunities; hope for answers to difficult questions; hope for forgiveness for past mistakes; and hope for the return of our pre-Hurricane Michael world. While our city will not be the same and our hearts are broken, there is always hope when we place our faith in God.
Sunday I was studying my Bible and a verse jumped out at me. The Apostle Paul explained to the Corinthians that he had been taunted by Satan and asked three times for Satan’s torment to be removed from him. Jesus explained that Paul’s strength was mad perfect in weakness. Therefore, Paul should be pleased to experience illnesses, persecutions and distress.
God always knows what we need and when we need it. Of course, these verses were not new to me, but still spoke to me. Every time we are tempted, sick and/or distressed, we become stronger with God when we resist. We pass the test and are stronger every time. These verses bring back a children’s song we all know, “Jesus Loves Me”. The song s ays “in our weakness He is strong”.
When things get tough, we don’t have to turn to partying, drugs, alcohol, or affairs. All we need to do is study our Bibles, praise God in songs, and pray. Trust me when I say, you will be stronger. It’s hard to be mad when you are doing these things.
“Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.”
Romans 5:1-6 KJV
Happy Thursday! I was able to take a few days off during the holidays and found myself sick with a nasty upper respiratory infection. The upside is I slowed down and took time to ponder my decisions and life. Over the past couple of years I have learned that my Christian growth cannot be rushed. God’s timing is not my own. I love setting goals and timelines, which is helpful in daily life. However, in my Christian growth I’ve found God holds me accountable to certain lessons along the way. Although it’s tough, I’m thankful.
Have you ever slipped up in one area of your life and suddenly found your entire life spinning out-of-control? I was watching television yesterday and heard a story about a man who had a horrible fungal infection in his lungs. The fungus baffled physicians, not only wondering the origin, but also how to slow its growth. I listened carefully thinking of a slice of molded bread and how quickly the mold spreads. As it turned out, the man enjoyed sniffing socks, and in this unusual pastime inhaled the fungus.
This story seemed a little gross and silly to me. However, I was reminded of how even a small slip can lead to overwhelming changes outside of God’s light, if not kept in check. The sin could be something simple as worrying about our children, or it might originate with pride. Regardless, if we don’t ask for forgiveness and make a concerted effort to turn our lives around, the sin continues to grow like a fungus. Even worse, we start justifying the sin and the spiraling continues.
The Apostle Paul taught the first century Romans that we can grow through our tribulations. Just as the Penicillin that cures our infections comes from that nasty looking mold, we can gain patience, experience and renewed hope without shame through God’s love. Christ already made the sacrifice for us.
Forgiveness is a simple process, which can be difficult and take time. However, when we keep pushing through the pain, we receive a peace beyond all understanding. Have a wonderful Thursday. God bless you.
“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”
Colossians 3:13 NIV
Happy Thursday! It’s a rainy day, but the sun is shining within me.
Have you ever felt like your heart was hard from bad circumstances and rumors? In my line of work I have to take an unpopular position more often than not. After 20 years of hearing people say that I wanted to destroy the City that I love very much, I felt very bitter toward many people. I had seen their ugly side. I would hear others speak wonderfully about different people I had seen behave with disrespect and insolence. I couldn’t understand. I wanted to warn my friends, but you and I both know that never works. Plus, my friends didn’t have the same experiences for obvious reasons. So, guess who looked even worse. One night I hit the bottom and went to our church after a late City Commission public meeting where someone I called a friend spoke horribly about me. I cried and prayed for understanding.
God works in mysterious ways. As I grew closer to God, studying His word and taking theology classes, he opened opportunities for me. It’s funny how we think it’s our idea, but it is Him working in our lives. While many adventures were and still are awaiting, one of the opportunities was to write articles for a local newspaper about businesses in our city. I would be interviewing some of the same people who had spoken to me with strong language, contempt and anger. These were the same people who had spread untrue rumors in the community.
When God opens a door, we need to take advantage of the opportunity. Not long after I began writing weekly articles about local businesses, another newspaper requested my articles. I even had an opportunity to submit an article to two larger city newspapers. With my position of not working for the newspaper as a paid writer, I was able to take a different perspective. My articles are about the people owning and managing the businesses.
As each person shared their story, my hardened heart understood and felt what they were sharing. Be careful what you pray for, because some of the stories you simply can’t forget. I sometimes want to share the stories that are not confidential, but I realize that it might drag down someone else’s heart. This was my request and I am so thankful. However, there is another side to understanding and it can be painful. I also realized I’m really not that much different. I sin too.
The good news is Paul explains to the people in Phillipi in Phillipians 4:7 that “the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” How did Paul know this? Paul knew from personal experience of persecuting Christians and having an encounter with Christ.
The same holds true today. We need to forgive ourselves and others. Ask God to forgive you. His peace is amazing!
“You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.”
James 4:4 NIV
Happy Wednesday! It seems a little more like hectic Wednesday here. We have the hustle and bustle of Christmas combined with people frantic to build roofs on their homes with more rain in the forecast. Nearly every building still standing in our town is without a roof or has a huge blue tarp.
Last week a friend and I went to see Natalie Grant and Danny Gokey in concert. We had VIP tickets, which made the event even more special. In the Q&A session, the two told of how they hadn’t realized how severe the destruction and damage associated with Hurricane Michael had been. It’s almost like we’ve been swept under the rug due to all the political events taking place. The concert was absolutely amazing! The singers collected gifts for children and visited an elementary school while in the area. I was surprised to learn yesterday that a friend of mine, who is from Milwaukee, went to school with Danny Gokey. It really is a small world if you think about it.
Have you ever felt like your life was spinning out-of-control? I felt that way recently. Sin is a slippery slope. Satan takes advantage of our weaknesses, which are always changing. Once we allow him to influence us, we grow further and further away from God. One of the most painful things a married couple can experience is an affair outside the marriage relationship. When we grow away from God, it’s like an affair with Satan. It’s amazing how quickly he can slip into our lives and turn us upside down. I couldn’t see it in my own life at first. Then, I heard the song below by Natalie Grant. “It’s hard to stand on shifting sand. It’s hard to shine in the shadows of the night.” For me the night was darkness. Darkness can be so overwhelming. Yet, before I allowed Satan to influence me, I was so happy. Now, once again I feel “like my soul is flying when my feet are on the ground.”
Have you ever felt this way? David struggled with darkness. Yet, he always sought to make God happy in everything he did. This is opposite of what the world teaches. We are taught to fight for positions, titles, awards and jobs, when the most important thing for us to strive for is God’s love and making God happy. You never have to be in the darkness. The battle has already been won. Just ask Christ to forgive you. If you haven’t accepted him as your Lord and Savior, it’s never too late.
When we are in the light with God, we can help more people. We can share the light, instead of the shadows of darkness. When you use your gifts to change the world today, share them in the light. God bless you.
“Jesus saith unto him, Rise, take up thy bed, and walk.”
John 5:8 KJV
Good Morning and Happy Monday! Today, it has been two months since Hurricane Michael came through our town. My good news is we are slowly recovering. It’s going to take a long time for life to get back to normal, but officials are meeting day after day, and constantly looking for ways to help businesses and people with housing issues.
Have you ever felt so depressed that you didn’t care if Christmas just passed you by? I have felt that way at times. Our minister shared a story that warmed my heart yesterday. His wife wanted a live Christmas tree, which is their tradition. The box stores in our town did not have any because their corporate offices decided we didn’t need them here after the hurricane. He went on to explain how he traveled to find a live Christmas tree. The best part of his story was how we are strong despite the setbacks we may face in life. God made us that way. We shouldn’t let the corporate offices of box stores determine how we are going to celebrate the birth of our savior.
It’s normal to feel sorry for ourselves now and again, but we need to pick up our beds and walk. We need to take the initiative to make things better. Speak positive words. Sing Christmas songs. Get out of the house. Give to others. Do something fun and enjoy Christmas! When we do our part, we’ll notice God stepping in to handle the rest. Plus we will feel better.
In past years I have gone to see the Nutcracker and many other different things. This year I plan to go with a friend to see Natalie Grant and Danny Gokey’s Christmas concert. What better way to enjoy the holidays!
I hope you have a wonderful day and enjoy the holiday season. God bless you.
“And Joshua, and all Israel with him, took Achan the son of Zerah, and the silver, and the garment, and the wedge of gold, and his sons, and his daughters, and his oxen, and his asses, and his sheep, and his tent, and all that he had: and they brought them unto the valley of Achor. And Joshua said, Why hast thou troubled us? the Lord shall trouble thee this day. And all Israel stoned him with stones, and burned them with fire, after they had stoned them with stones.”
Joshua 7:24-25 KJV
It’s Forgiveness Thursday and a great time to forgive yourself and others.
Have you ever known something was wrong and did it anyway? Was the temptation just too much at the moment, even though you knew what the right thing to do was? It could be something as simple as not taking care of your body by overeating or choosing not to exercise. After all your body is the temple of God. Maybe it’s a temptation to have an affair or take something illegally? We all have temptations and if you haven’t ever made the wrong decision on purpose at some point in your life, you are definitely in the minority. Does that mean that it it’s okay? No.
My husband and I were talking this morning about the story in Joshua, where Achan did not follow the instructions given to him and hid the silver. His entire family was killed. How much worse it would be to watch your family be killed, than to die? This is the kind of crime we see in movies and real life.
I’m so thankful that Jesus paid the price for us. It is simple to ask for forgiveness. Yet, how many times do we make the same mistake repeatedly? Is that okay? No. We need to make a conscious effort to live a life that is pleasing to God.
I hope you have a wonderful Thursday. God bless you.
“My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed: I will sing and give praise.”
Psalms 57:7 KJV
It’s Wednesday and camels around the world are happy! What will you do today to make the world a better place?
One thing I have found that always works is to listen to praise music as much as possible. You would be surprised how many of the lyrics come directly from the Bible. The sounds will put your heart, soul and attitude in a better place. You might ask how could that make a difference in the world. When you are in a better place, others will notice. Plus you will respond differently to stressful situations. No one is perfect, but praise music helps.
So treat yourself to beautiful praise music and share your happiness all around! God bless you!