These are just a few of the questions that I have been thinking about lately. I’ve got spring fever and my brain is spinning in a million different directions. It’s been really difficult for me to get it under control. It’s a week into spring and with it comes those tendencies for me to clean out, get it in order, redirect, start over, and get new! I think for me, it is worse than January 1st and the beginning of a new year.
Along with spring also come thoughts of new life and Easter. I always get extra happy because it’s the season of my spiritual birthday! I’m very old! And then, of course, that thought sends me into a time of reflection and questions such as the ones above along with a voice in my head saying, “If you’re so old, why haven’t you done more for The Lord?” STOP IT! I have to remind myself of Romans Chapter 8. However, it’s good sometimes to ask yourself some of these questions to nudge you back on the right track. But when they lead to self-condemnation, then there’s a problem!
How deep is your commitment? At what level do you consider yourself loyal? What do you think about constantly? What is driving you? What is hindering you? At what cost is your devotion? Do your actions display your passion? Is your name associated or connected with a term or characteristic that brings honor and glory to God? If you lost it all, how would your respond? How are you investing into things of a spiritual matter, how much, and in what? Are others drawn to you or away from you? Would you be happy if you “started over?” Do you really want to “begin again?”
Life in the Spirit - Romans 8: 1-17 ESV
8: 1There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.[a] 2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you[b] free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. 3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin,[c] he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. 6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. 9 You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 10 But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus[d] from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.
Heirs with Christ
12 So then, brothers,[e] we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons[f] of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.
Because it’s my spiritual birthday season, I re-visit the moment I yielded my life to Christ. My conversion experience was very vivid and I remember every detail…except the actual date! I recall the pronounced emotion I had of imagining Christ on the cross, paying for my sin and realizing my need for Him. I recollect the flood of His love that swept over my heart. It is still unexplainable! The memory of the raging war for my soul that night and the intensity of deciding to taking a step of faith is just as real now as it was then. When I tell you that it was a war, it truly was…a tug of war! As I stood there in the church pew with tear filled eyes, I battled, questioned, and fought (I’m quite strong-willed) as Satan pulled and tugged me away from God, while on the other hand, Christ and His army fought to save me; to save me from sin and death. I stepped out and then back, time and time again! The next step I took was the last step I remember, for all other steps seemed as though I was briskly carried to the altar by a force that was not in my own strength. I remember imagining Christ scooping me up into His arms, flying me to the altar and standing me securely as I asked for new life in Him. On my knees I repented and as I arose, my insides felt as though they had been polished clean! Such joy! Such excitement! I had to share this event with others for I could not contain it! I wanted others to experience the love and cleanness that I had found in Christ. All was made new and I had received the gift of new life with Him.
What a great passage to read over and over again. I encourage you to do it. Read it again! Did you get it? So much to recognize. So much to learn. So much to believe. What is the Spirit speaking to you? But please take notice of the latter part of verse 17 that reads, “provided we suffer with him…”
This past week The Lord allowed me to peek in to this spiritual truth.
I tell you all this because of my abiding love for my Savior.
I will forever tell of His great deeds among the people. (Ps. 105:1)
The King of kings suffered for me.
He was persecuted, made lower than the angels for a little time and he tasted death…for me! (Heb. 2:9)
My peek this week was just that! A re-visiting of Him descending to earth, a life in human flesh, His teachings, His relationships, His love for people, Him serving, His persecution, suffering, and ultimately His death on the cross and resurrection so that we can become joint heirs with Him.
As believers, we are made heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. I have seen this played out in the pages of the Bible and also through the persecutions and suffering of some of my dearest friends. As I have witnessed personal incidents of suffering, it never seems as daunting to me as that of watching someone you love experience the same kinds of sufferings of Christ because of their love for people. My heart breaks for them! So as I keenly watch, I see wounded hearts made stronger, humbleness grows more humble and is laced with deeper servant hood. Prayers are authentic and selfless. Forgiveness is more rich and free flowing. More than anything, the glory of God is revealed in and through their lives. They are vested in Christ. To me, they are living examples of Christ and hold a level of spiritual maturity that is evident because of love for others.
The definition of vested is very interesting. It means secured in the possession of or an assigned person, protected, established by law or contract, and entitled to a future benefit. As children of God, He secures us, protects us, establishes us, and entitles us to all that is His, including immortality along with a place that Jesus is preparing for especially us!
Now, let’s go back to those questions that seem to rush through my mind and answer them through a Jesus lens.
His level of commitment and loyalty to me was so high that He yielded His own life for mine. He was constantly thinking about relationships and pursuing others to know the Father. He did that for me! He was driven by love and his devotion to us cost Him everything. His passion caused Him to seek, heal, reveal, and provide hope. All that He did brought glory to the Father. And when He seemingly lost everything, even hanging bare – clothes stripped away and skin and flesh stripped away, He completed the Father’s will by freely giving His life when He cried aloud, “Into thy hands I commit my spirit.”
When I look at those questions and wonder of my “maturity” as a Christian, a little fear begins to set in.
Then I re-read verse 15.
15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”
The Father has redeemed me. I am His own. All that He has He freely gives to me because of His perfect love for me. No one can remove me from the palm of His hand. (Jn. 10:28,29)
In the physical realm, I reproduce characteristics of my parents. Unknowingly, I have walked in the steps of my dad. Some of my “ways of thinking,” are like my mothers. I am, in a sense, a reflection of the two combined. As a daughter of the King, I have taken on the characteristics of Christ. It’s what happens when we become His! So as I think about my “spiritual birthday,” and how old or mature I am, I am reminded that spiritual maturity begins with loving one another…no matter what…or who! This is how others will know that I am a disciple of Christ. (Jn. 13:34,35) It’s not what I have done for Him, how devoted, committed, and whether I do Bible study first thing in the morning, or how strong my prayer life seems. It’s all about loving others in the same manner that He did…even in the midst of persecution and suffering. Would I want to go back and start over? Absolutely not! It is His faithfulness of the past that gives me hope for tomorrow!
Becoming another year older in my faith is a time for celebration! As a new believer, I so often quoted, “old things are past away, behold, all things become new.” (2 Corin. 5:17) Today I must remember that old things continue to pass away, He is making all things new! (Rev.21:5) And in the words of Thomas Obediah Chisholm, “Morning by morning new mercies I see!” He provides all I need to face each day and I, too, am vested!
Rejoicing in His Tender Mercies, Sherry
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I went on a very adventurous, exhausting plane trip to Boston last weekend. I was flying there to spend the weekend with my daughter Mary Elizabeth. She had musical theater auditions for the New England theaters and I was traveling to support her and spend a few days together. The weekend flying adventure began when I arrived at the Baton Rouge airport for a 7:30am flight. I noticed there was no plane at the gate. With my past travel experiences that is the first thing you learn to look for. Well, as I waited to board, of course, there was the dreaded announcement,
“This plane has been delayed for mechanical problems.” We wait. Another announcement. More delay!!
This was especially frustrating as I watched other planes take off for Atlanta and the connection time for my Boston flight get shorter and shorter.
Then there was finally the announcement. Boarding! But, after we were finally all on the plane sitting and waiting for about an hour the pilot began to speak.....
"We will have to deplane! It seems the mechanical problem isn’t fixed after all!....something about the air flaps not working properly! "
So all of us filed off the plane and got in line to wait to rebook our flights as I watched yet another flight take off in the air to Atlanta with me not on it! When I finally reached the counter, very unhappy, I was greeted with these words, “Oh, I’m so sorry but you have missed all of your connections. We will have to reroute you through Dallas. You will arrive in Boston around 10:00pm instead of 3pm....if all goes on schedule.”
Now I certainly don’t want to fly on a plane with mechanical problems, but I was losing sight of that as my plans fell apart.
Everything is out of my control. Everything is in His hands.
Several friends were praying for our travel safety and arrangements. We seem to always have issues.
Our choir even wrote a song about it - “Travel adventures in Drakeland!” It has lots of verses!
This trip was giving material for yet another verse!
Earlier in the day Sherry had emailed me her thought for the day:
“See God at work in every circumstance and join Him!”
Hmm... Well, if I'm really honest, I wasn’t in the mood. I was pretty frustrated and mad at the airlines
for messing up my plans!
So I called my daughter. Her plane was also going back to the gate with mechanical problems! We had arranged for our flights to arrive within minutes of each other in Boston so that we could go together to the hotel outside of the city. But those were our plans. Now she would have to maneuver the airport... find the shuttle to take her 45 minutes outside of the city, take another shuttle to the hotel, and check into the hotel by herself.
I guess it’s time?..... I know she can handle it...... It’s just the momma being forced to let go.
As I waited to board my next rescheduled flight, seven hours later than my original one, on another airline at another gate I once again kept looking out the window for the plane. I couldn't believe my ears when it was announced that this flight would be late departing! I just had to remind myself to breathe! Many hours later that day when I let Sherry know that I finally was boarding a plane for Boston out of Dallas, she reminded me of her email thought for the day and texted me - “must be a growing up experience for Mary Elizabeth and a trusting experience for you.”
And that it was!
As I settled into my second flight, in the middle seat of course, I heard the woman next to me talking to her dad and her husband. She was flying in from Sydney, Australia. I thought I was having a long day! I'm not typically one to be chatty with other passengers sitting next to me, but through the course of the flight we talked. She had traveled all over the world with her job and been to Australia twelve times and had made many friends there. This latest trip was business combined with a visit to the family of her close friend who had recently died of cancer. She said, “ I traveled across the world and found my “soul mate” friend in Australia.” As she spoke, she began to cry. I cried. She said, “I went to Sydney recently .We had planned a girl trip back to my friends homeland in Greece before it was too late. But she was too weak to go. I just wanted to be there for her.” She spoke of how hard it was to be so far away during her friends illness. As I listened, I knew why my flight plans had been such a disaster. This woman was tired and mourning... to the point that she bared her sorrows to a total stranger. She needed someone to listen, really listen and try to understand what she was feeling. I listened and let her cry. She showed me pictures of her friend with the big, beautiful smile that had brought her so much joy in their friendship despite the many miles they lived apart. I cried. Finally she slept. I am rarely able to sleep on airplanes no matter how tired I am, but I had plenty of time to pray.
It turned out we had several things in common. She was from Boston, but now lived in Maine very close to my family there. I always travel with my own tea bags and so when I requested a cup of hot water on the plane we began talking about how much we both loved a good cup of tea. In fact, she had brought some wonderful Australian tea home with her. And it was clear that we both cherished good friendships.
Later on in the flight as everyone slept around me on the plane, the words of that thought of the day from my friend came to my mind once more, “See God at work in every circumstance and join Him!”
Finally, I arrived at the Boston airport, very late and weary, but I was safe. We talked about where I was going pretty far outside the city and she advised me that it was best not to take the shuttle as I had planned because it was so late and might not be safe. Besides she advised that I wouldn’t want to wait outside so long in the Boston winter cold and snow. I was grateful for her wisdom and advise. I would have gone blindly into a situation I didn’t totally understand. So I took the very expensive 45 minute cab ride to the hotel, something I would never have done otherwise.
But, I sensed that the Father was at work in these simple conversations and difficult circumstances of my day. I felt that all of my delays had brought me to be there for this woman and that now He had placed her there for me.
I had learned to trust God’s hand in the whole situation. He was working in the midst of my circumstances.
Often we don't really know how the Father is working on our behalf.
Finally, about 9 hours later than expected, I arrived to a very relieved daughter who had managed just fine without her momma. I'm sure the whole experience had built her confidence in her ability to launch out on her own in NYC soon. We fixed a cup of hot tea and chatted about our adventurous day of travel. Her flight had also had small delays for mechanical problems with air flaps, too! I took a hot bath to wash off the weariness of the day and reflected on the lessons learned in the long day of travel. At this point I had been up for twenty hours.Then we settled in for a good nights sleep and a wonderful weekend!
This week will you trust that God holds the moments of your life in His hands? You too will most likely face unexpected circumstances, delays or changes in your plans, difficult situations, or possibly an opportunity to bring comfort to a stranger.
I hope that you will pause and reflect on how you see God at work in the everyday moments of your life. And then you will be faced with a choice.
Will you join him? He can be trusted.
Oh and here we are together waiting for our flight back home to Baton Rouge from Atlanta.....More delays...More mechanical problems....This time it seems the door to the airplane isn't shutting properly! Really??? Yes!!
But, eventually we made it safely home. He does hold us in HIs hands. When we finally got on the plane. I asked the flight attendant for 2 cups of hot water and some of those yummy cookies. She said, "I see you have your own tea bags". I had brought along my daughter's favorite, Lady Grey.
I smiled as we sipped our tea and savored the last moments of our travel adventure on our plane trip home and looked forward to having her home for her last college spring break.
As I post this, I am planning a trip up to Oklahoma City in just a few days where all of our family will gather for her Senior Musical Theater Voice Recital. I'm holding my plans loosely! My sister and mom are planning to come and my oldest daughter will be flying in to meet us with her husband and our grand daughter.
This time though I'm grateful that I will be driving!
Seeing God at work and trusting in His plans,
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The south has experienced quite a variety of weather as of late. Everything from rain, 85° F days, humidity, sleet, 20° F nights, and snow! One day it’s the heater and the next it’s the air conditioner! Should I wear a scarf and coat, or is it a day for shorts and flip-flops? With each crazy day of weather comes questions of “What is going on?!” merged with new perspectives of God’s faithfulness as He unfolds spiritual truths with life lessons and events that use the weather to get our attention! The following is such a story.
The grandest snowfall this winter blanketed Tennessee and Georgia, my home, with 8” of glistening wonder. The white and chilly flakes began as a lovely sprinkling of fairy dust and soon became a heavy “southern whiteout.” It was a majestic sight to watch the miraculous snowflakes silently bury the grass and walkways beneath a downy throw. I stood in awe beholding these pure and dazzling flakes frolic through the atmosphere looking as though a snow globe had just been shaken. My heart raced with excitement! However, I became somewhat perplexed when my mind questioned the outcome of this beautiful yet dangerous delight.
It is my pleasure to introduce to you my Aunt Judy, though I wish you could meet her in person, for words could never express the impact she has made in my life. She is “a creative” with the heart of a servant and often works in the background for Restore Ministries working on projects, praying for us, searching for retreat items, and helping me write lyrics for songs I have composed including “Restore, My Soul” our retreat theme song. She is a cancer survivor, greatly loves the Lord, and has a gift for expressing her thoughts through writing.
It is with great joy that we welcome Judy Ingle to be our guest blogger for the Monday Musings post today. Be Blessed, Sherry
Beneath the Snow
To my dismay, my conjecture was well founded. My husband would dauntlessly tread the several inches of snow to work and my Son-In-Law would be leaving work. Intently gazing as the snow covered and hovered aloft, I became keenly aware of its unpredictable flight. I experienced an awesome and blissful couple of hours until the realization of the inevitable confronted me with a vengeance. Immediately, I started worrying. I honed my self-proclaimed skill of problem solving only to be struck by the enlightening truth that I was powerless, I could do nothing, and I was scared. Driving conditions worsened while fervent pleas from the media were issued for motorists to, “Get off the roads and stay off.” Suddenly, my thoughts were counteracted by, “O ye of little faith (Luke 12:28).” My husband slid to work as the temperature dropped below freezing, thankfully arriving safely. My Son-In-Law, on the other hand was stuck. First, he was stuck in traffic with cars having slid off the road and abandoned … and was now stuck in a ditch. A Good Samaritan pulled him back onto the road allowing him to move a short distance to a parking lot. The roads were now hazardous and impassable without a 4-wheel drive vehicle. His only known hope, his brother, was also stuck (in his 4-wheel drive).
In the meantime, his wife and 3-year-old son were sledding in their back yard when pleasantly surprised by friends who were out on a snow adventure. She was surprised because the couple had never been to their home before. After a few minutes of snowballing they resumed their snowy excursion never knowing God had sent them this direction for His purpose. At this time, my daughter received the call that her husband could not make it home. He had walked to a nearby pharmacy for snacks and a drink only to find it had closed due to the inclement weather. The area had become a ghost town. He was now cold, wet, and alone. However, he was not alone. John 14:18 assures,” I will never leave you comfortless; I will come to you.” Unexpectedly, my daughter received a message of hope on Facebook from the friends who had just visited. They had returned home but were willingly going out again to help. God’s resource was in place long before their need arose. His provision materialized right before our eyes and His plan exceeded anything I could ever imagine. His provision came from a most unexpected source, unsurprisingly, it usually does.
Hudson Taylor once wrote, “Too often we attempt to work for God to the limit of our competency rather than to the limit of God’s omnipotency.” The jigsaw puzzle of our lives demands we put the pieces together only to discover they do not fit. Most of us were taught to begin a puzzle from the outside starting with the four corners gradually working in the central pieces. In life, God's working is much more refined and unerring. In our bewildered efforts Jesus steps in to remind us how He is the central piece. He should be the center of our lives as He lovingly fits all the pieces together working inwardly then outwardly. Matthew 6:33 admonishes us to, ”Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness; and all these things (all we have need of) shall be added…”
I found a spiritual lesson buried beneath the snowy drifts. I imagined I buried all the frivolous things that try to define my life; the empty activities, the business and the numerous things that simply have no merit. Underneath the frozen blanket of snow, I, for a moment, buried these things along with my doubts, my self-pity and the broken pieces of my life. I was very much aware that once the sun would rise and the snow melted those burdensome feelings would once again resurface. However, God in his mercy reminded me that the “Son” has risen and covered all my sins and blunders. The Son can melt any heart that’s grown cold and can dissolve the “slush” that often confuses our thoughts; all the while calming the snow squalls that restrict our vision.
Beneath the snow lay twisted twigs and shriveled blades of grass once lustrous from the sun. It was there I wanted my hauntings to lie forever dormant. The snow, having the property of reflection, demanded a response from me to let go and lay aside every burden and sin that so easily threatened me (Hebrews 12:1).” I recall a quote that said, “When it snows you have two choices: You can shovel snow or make snow angels.” I am finding that to embrace my circumstances In Christ is easier and more profitable to me than the hardness of “kicking against the pricks (Acts 9:5).” Boldness in prayer and expressing a constant need for Him delights the heart of God. Straightway, I experienced the greatness of God, His goodness and His mercy. My family was safe and Joy came in the morning. The sun shone and began to melt the gorgeous white fluff and my “junk” was still buried. I hope this will be an encouragement to all who read this because God can handle all the stuff we carry around and He has got us “covered.”
In thankfulness I proclaim Psalm 119:27, “So shall I talk of thy wondrous works.” God desires to bless us in so many ways; in this case it was through beauty and a great lesson in triumphing over 8” of snow.
It’s been one of those “mama” weeks for me. You know one of those times when your thoughts are filled with the hearts of your children. I don’t know that there is really ever a week when your mind is not filled with “mama” thoughts if you have children, but this one has been extra special. My girls live far away from our home now - one in Oklahoma City and one in Atlanta. So visiting them and being a part of their lives takes a little more effort than it did when the giggles and pitter patter of their little feet could be heard across our wooden floors.
Last weekend we went to Oklahoma City to see our youngest, Mary Elizabeth, perform in the musical Pirates of Penzance at Oklahoma City University. It was a treacherous drive up as we traversed snow and icy roads to get there - most unusual for Louisiana. I had made
a giant pot of gumbo with salad and french bread to share with all the visitors coming in to see the show, but when we arrived the snow soon began to settle in and I went into “mama mode.” We need more food! My sweet husband was sent out on the icy roads to the grocery to buy food to get us through the weekend. What if we were snowed in and the grocery stores shut down! Five inches of snow is quite a lot for this Louisiana girl.
Amazingly the shows were not canceled, at least at OCU, although other schools did shut down and we were able to see all 3 performances. Special friends from Baton Rouge even braved the treacherous roads to come show their love and support for Mary Elizabeth. That’s true friendship, commitment and love!
She was, of course, amazing, hilarious and oh so talented!!
In between shows I cooked and washed clothes and clothes - you know that “mama” thing we do. And we ate and ate! And I loved it!
I was at last satisfied when we left and all bellies were full, all her clothes washed and put away and large portions of “mama’s” taco soup and gumbo were safely waiting in the freezer to bring comfort on another day when I couldn’t be there. You see it’s not a burden.
When your children move away, you miss doing those special things for them like cooking and washing - those things that sometimes drove you crazy and to the point of exhaustion when they lived at home.
Of course, there were lots of tears when we left to drive home even though we will see her again sooner than usual for her senior recital and spring break. As we drove the long 101/2 hours home my mind was filled with how fast the four years have flown by. She will graduate in May! Oh my! And she plans to move to NYC to pursue her career in musical theater.
I walked that journey of pursuing a performing career years ago. I know how exciting it is. How fulfilling it can be to sing and perform great works on the stage. I also know how hard it is. How dark that world can be. How desperately the light of Jesus needs to shine there.
My mind was full of memories and thoughts as we drove home. I wondered what I could do to help her. She would ultimately have to find her own way I knew. The city is exciting and big and difficult. Our oldest daughter lived there for several years after she graduated in art. ( We’re not big on practical college degrees in our family!) We had watched her blossom into a beautiful young adult there, but also struggle with the demands and pressure of working and living in NYC. My girls certainly are not afraid of adventure.
I guess they get it honestly. I remember driving off in my car at age 22 - just me and my dog named “Troubles” - to Oklahoma of all places for my first professional theater job. I knew no one there, had no place lined up to live, just the promise of a job in a theater! It’s crazy now when I think of how young I was and how ill prepared I was. Now I know how my parents must have felt. Two years later, Ken and I moved to Salzburg, Austria three weeks after we were married to study music. I had received a fellowship to study music at the Mozarteum Conservatory. We had very little money, but big dreams. And we did grow tremendously as musicians. But, God had bigger dreams for me in Europe. I attended my first Bible study there at a little English speaking mission church. I thought I was going to Europe to study music. God was bringing me there to grab hold of my heart and His Word forever.
As we drove home I began to write down things I wanted my youngest to know. Wisdom I hoped she would value as she faced life truly on her own for the first time. Today I'm writing this blog on her 22nd birthday and when your children get to that age and stage of life you wonder..... Did we do it right? Is she prepared? What can I say to help her in this next stage of her life?
I began to think of how I could give her these “lessons for life” in a way that would last and linger when she moved to the big city and would surely face victories and disappointments.
I found myself thinking about our Restore Retreat. In our creativity party we make a box of “Soulcare” cards to keep for ourselves or give to others. They might have quotes from Scripture or favorite authors, faith lessons or just little cards of beauty. That seemed to be the answer for me - the perfect little graduation gift from “mama”. I would make a box of “Soulcare” cards for her. A gift from the heart to hopefully help nurture her soul. A few things I wish I had known when I took off for my first job in Oklahoma.
I imagine you have lessons that you could share as well. I know that many of these lessons run deeper and truer when you learn them in the experiences of life, but it seemed it wouldn’t hurt to package them all together as a reference for the future! Besides I’m still in serious “mama mode”!
A few days after we return home I look at the list I've made for my cards. It’s long, probably too long. It will take me until she graduates to complete the box of cards for her in my spare moments. I hope she’ll be blessed, read them, be encouraged and feel loved, a little touch of “mama” in her new home and life far away.
I pray that they will be a voice of wisdom, truth, and a beautiful visual reminder of home, lessons learned and lived.
I’ll share the list with you. It’s in process still. Perhaps I’ll post some pictures of her completed gift when she graduates. You see like so many gifts we dream up or make for those we love, it’s often in the process that we in turn are blessed. It’s been so good for me to make a list of the life messages that I hope my children will value as they make their own way in this life and journey of faith.
Making the list has caused me to examine once more the legacy I want to leave with my own life.
Worship the Lord - with your life, with your voice, with your service. Romans 12:1,2; John 4:21-24
Study and Meditate on God's Word. It's a love letter written to you, Jesus' Words of life. Psalm 1:2, 19:14
Surrender you life each day to the control of the Holy Spirit. He will be your counselor and guide, living water for you soul. John 14:26, Eph. 3:16
Give generously and offer grace. Mt. 6:21,
Eph. 4:29, Col. 4:6
Always remember that You are God's beloved, a daughter of the King. seek to live your life for His Kingdom purposes.
2 Cor. 6:18, Rom. 8:14-16
Love Lavishly. John 13:34
Create your own little sanctuary in your home. It's important to have a place where you have a history with the Lord in His Word and in prayer, an oasis where you meet with Him, even if it's just a simple chair with your Bible, journal and a candle to remind you of His light to guide your path.
Fill your life with art, music, beauty. Try to go at least once a week go to a concert, a play, a museum, a garden to nurture the creative spirit within you.
Practice hospitality. Open up your home for meals with others, Bible studies, those in need and celebrations with friends. The provision of a home is a blessing to cherish. 1 Peter 4:9
Nurture a heart of gratitude in your life. If you look for 3 gifts found in each day for which you are grateful at the end of a year you'll have over 1000 gifts! Write them down as a remembrance of God's faithfulness in you life.1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Work hard. For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11
Give yourself permission to rest. Mt. 11:28
Seek Wisdom - Exercise and educate your brain and talents. Take a class, read a book, live a life of learning. Proverbs 4:6-7
Guard your heart. Proverbs 4:23
Go to church. Make time to invest in your faith journey with a community of believers and teaching of the Scriptures. Acts 2:22
There's power in prayer! Phil. 4:6-7, James 5:16
Walk your days with Jesus- stay close and you'll be fine.He will show you which way to go, learn from Him and live in Him. He will carry your burdens and your dreams.
Offer forgiveness and ask for it. Luke 11:14, 1 John 1:19
Follow your dreams! Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 34:7
Be faithful-a faithful disciple of Jesus, a faithful friend, a faithful employee, faithful to your calling , faithful to use your gifts. Deut. 6:5
Trials will come, but you know the One who has overcome.
So trust in His faithfulness, and rest in His peace. They are part of your story and part of how God is conforming you into the image of His Son. Surrender to His work within you. James 1:2-4,12; 2 Cor. 2:14
Look for ways Jesus is speaking into your life - into the windows of your soul - through His word, His beauty in the world, your relationships, your dreams.
Live your life with integrity and offer the light and love of Jesus to those who don't know Him.
Practice the art of listening. Proverbs 2:1-5,
Invest in friendship. Proverbs 27:17, John 15:12-15
Remember who you are where you came from. Don't forget your southern roots. There's nothing quite like a gracious southern lady to usher gentleness into the hard places of life.
God is writing a beautiful story of His redemption, love and grace with your life. He has woven you into his eternal story. He has poured out amazing gifts into your life to be used for his glory and Kingdom purposes. Enjoy the privilege and the journey!
Celebrate your life and live it for His glory!
What would your list look like?
Consider taking a few moments this week and write down some of your own “soulcare” thoughts - things you would want to share with someone you love, a daughter, a son, a friend.
What are some valuable faith lessons you’ve learned to value in the story He is writing on your heart and through the adventure of your life?
I think it’s worth pausing, reflecting and writing them down. What life messages do you want to leave behind? For the years do seem to fly by and before you know it your children are living out their dreams and raising children of their own.
Resources: Scripture Images from Pinterest
Only 2 more rooms available for April Retreat!
It is no surprise to me that I am up at 5:30 am writing this blog. Early, you think? Yes and no! You see, early is relative. It may be early in the morning, but it is late in the week that I am writing to you. So late in fact, that it’s ironic that I would even choose to write about such a word! This morning I began to feel like the rabbit from Alice in Wonderland with his timepiece in hand, running frantically down the trail, chanting aloud, “I’m late, I’m late…”
Proverbs 2: 1-5
“My son, if you will receive my words
And treasure my commandments within you,
Make your ear attentive to wisdom,
Incline your heart to understanding;
For if you cry for discernment,
Lift your voice for understanding;
If you seek her as silver
And search for her as for hidden treasures;
Then you will discern the fear of the Lord
And discover the knowledge of God.”
I’m sitting in the dark. There’s nothing but a glow from the computer screen and the orange light peering through the windows from the streetlights. The sounds are few. A ticking clock. A few birds standing on the tree limbs right outside my front door, singing praise! The rhythm of my fingers clicking the keys, constructing words…phrases…sentences…paragraphs… Trying hard to create some sense from the random thoughts that continuously burst from my mind like a comet shower that zooms through outer space. “Focus,” I tell myself! “Listen.” God will not hide Himself from those who earnestly seek Him.
“I love them that love me;
and those that seek me early shall find me.”
Early. An interesting word, and one that I have given much thought about this week. There’s early childhood, early as relating to time of day, early in the week, month, year. Early detection, early maintenance, and in the Concise Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament, early can also mean on an animals shoulder or the upper part of the back; to rise early and get on one’s way. Hmm, interesting!
Of course what started this whole idea of early, was one morning this past week I actually had the opportunity to sit on the porch…early…and there was an early bird singing in the tree! The loveliest of music…and loud! Immediately my mind began to sing with him, “Early in the morning, my song shall rise to thee…Holy, Holy, Holy!”
I believe that creation sings for and to the Creator! But when I did a little research (inquiring minds want to know) on why do birds seem to sing the most in the morning, this is what I found:
Birds chirp to communicate, and you can blame that initial morning song on the males, who sing to announce that they are alive, alert and ready to defend their territory. Apparently, the earlier they make that announcement, the better.
Psalm 63:1 “…early will I seek Him…” What better way can you think of to announce to Satan that you are alive in Christ, spiritually alert and ready to defend and protect yourself from his fiery darts? Declare it early, as in the first thing when you rise.
Lift your praise to the Lord!
“Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of Creation!
O my soul, praise Him, for He is thy health and salvation!
All ye who hear, now to His temple draw near;
Praise Him in glad adoration.
Praise to the Lord, who over all things so wondrously reigneth,
Shelters thee under His wings, yea, so gently sustaineth!
Hast thou not seen how thy desires ever have been
Granted in what He ordaineth?
Praise to the Lord, who doth prosper thy work and defend thee;
Surely His goodness and mercy here daily attend thee.
Ponder anew what the Almighty can do,
If with His love He befriend thee.”
Lyrics by Joachim Neander 1650-1680
Wow! I’m not sure I have simply read the lyrics to this great hymn. I suggest you take a moment to read through the words and savor the message. They will bless and encourage you! Click here to read then use your back arrow to come back to the blog. What a way to begin your day!
(IT’S NOW 7:30am GEESE JUST FLEW OVER HEAD…and boy were they LOUD!)
Early indicates a sense of preparedness. God knows what we have need of before we even ask. (Matt. 6:7) It doesn’t hurt to pray ahead of time. He wants us to ask that He may be glorified. I remember praying about my future husband. God provided in due time. Before we were ready to move into a house, I prayed that God would begin the process of preparing for us just the right place! He did! I am praying now for the path that lies in waiting. He will reveal. My car has 232,000 miles. I am praying early for Him to begin the process of providing us with what will best suit our lifestyle. He has always been faithful! Do not hesitate in seeking Him early. He promises that He will be found.
Come early, as a child…. And he said: "Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." Matt. 18:3
As an elementary music teacher, I get to see and help kids explore and discover their musical talent. One division of my business is called Talent Spectacular! It is a fundraising program for schools via a talent show. Auditions are held and coaching is provided to help the chosen participants perfect their talent and be familiar with how to move about on the stage. There is such eagerness in these kids! No reserve! They jump in! I love the innocence and enthusiasm of children. Most kids I know are very trusting and their little spirit has not yet been quenched and squelched by the harshness of the world. We must come early, as children, with trust, zeal, passion, and eagerness to seek ALL that the Father has for His children. We are His chosen participants in this thing we call “doing life!” His job is to nurture us, coach us, and teach us how to move about on the stage of this earth. Oh that we would not be hindered and quenched by the wiles of the world. Let our performance (you know what I mean…presentation) be pleasing in His sight!
Early also denotes a sense of hope, beginning, and renewal. The resurrection story begins with Mary Magdalene (Matt. 28) and the other Mary, headed to the tomb of Jesus, early…before dawn! And it was early in the week…the first day, in fact! A type of beginning of time. Jesus is risen! What hope! What joy! The dawn of a new day, a new time, a new life in Christ. Because of this new day, we can have hope. Our joy is made complete in Him. Because of the Cross of Calvary, He can restore and renew us. We just need to ask and trust in Him.
I came across an interesting perspective this morning which referred to dead people as the “late” so in so… (late as in death and early as in alive!)
Likewise, “Life in Christ is like waking early, full of excitement, the world fresh with dew, and everything about to unfold. We are the early church. We have to allow such a view of ourselves to become real, and to shake off the slough of depression and fear that sometimes grips us. We are not dying; we are being raised to new life. There is no such thing as a dying church – the church in its reality is in fact always a place where people are waking up, coming to life. Otherwise, what is the Gospel? We are early Christians.”
“In the days before electric light and alarm clocks, people were simply woken by the dawn. We have made life much more complicated now. And perhaps we have done the same with faith. We worry about the future. We are tormented by worries about our own lives. We are anxious, as we must be, about the state of the world. But the wonderful thing about the dawn is that it always comes, sweeping away the darkness of night and offering a new beginning. The disciples must have thought that the cause of Jesus of Nazareth was well and truly over after the crucifixion – there could be no more decisive end. He was the late Jesus of Nazareth, sealed in a stone tomb, gone forever into the dark. But then, early on the earliest day, the dawn came and he was alive…” ref. Westminster College – Early (A Sermon for Easter Sunday)
There is great satisfaction for me when I am early. I love having my blog done way ahead of schedule (which is rare), I love completing tasks early, I love an early supper, early cup of coffee, early conversations, early confrontations before things get out of hand, early preparations, early birthday celebrations, and the more I think of handling things early, the more I realize that there is less of my procrastination; thus, less frustration! Less sadness and a happier heart! I love the quiet of the early morning and the freshness of a clear brain; and a heart that listens early for the voice of God before the clutter of the day begins to creep in. Whatever time you arise, seek Him first thing!
Early is often motivated by urgency! Meet with the Lord early; call on Him while He is near. Seek Him. Seek Him in the pages of His Word. Seek Him in all circumstances. Seek Him in His house. Seek Him among His people. Finally, seek Him on your knees and in your closet. Seek Him morning by morning with an expectant heart. He never tires of us. He is a loving God who desires a relationship with us, to commune with us, to carry us through all pain and suffering.
Psalm 5: 1-3
“Give ear to my words, O LORD, consider my sighing.
Listen to my cry for help, my King and my God, for to you I pray.
Morning by morning, O LORD, you hear my voice;
morning by morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation.”
With all of this talk about early, let me make one thing clear. I am most certainly NOT talking about jumping ahead of God, His timing or His plans! It is my desire to make Him first in my life. Early in my day! To talk things over with him BEFORE I mess everything up and then have to repent and ask for forgiveness! May early mornings be motivated by the urgency to gain instruction for the day ahead, instead of being sorrowful of the day before, walking ahead of you.
I do believe that God desires time alone with Him. How often do we really, honestly, take time and invest pursuing Him?
We have an opportunity available for you to do just that! The Restore Retreat is designed with an intentional break, away from others, allowing you private time with God. We do need fellowship, fun, prayer, worship, and Biblical teaching, but mostly, our souls need nurturing from spending time with Him. Won't you consider joining us as we learn Biblical truths from John 13-15 and the gifts of abiding in Christ, just before He spent time alone in the garden of Gethsemane. Make plans early so you won't miss out. There is still room and the "earlybird" rate still applies!
Click HERE for more information. Don't miss the beautiful sunrise on the lake. Spend time with just you and God!
With an expectant heart, I'm seeking Him.
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