Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Finding a Little Gem of Hope





As I opened up the devotional book to read to my princesses today, I found myself mesmerized by a handwriting from yester-year! A handwritten note with letters that I hadn't seen for quite a while...maybe 12 years ago.

There was a faded highlight over certain words.

Forgive
He loves you
in your place
God has promised
forgiveness
turn away
Jesus as Lord and Savior

I immediately knew who wrote it, and tears came to my eyes. I was full of hope in the knowledge that somewhere deep inside one of my lambs was the introduction of eternal life, sin, hope, salvation, and promise. Somewhere along the way of life he has faltered and allowed many things to crowd out the most essential things. Hurt, pain, anger and idols, among other things, yet I have a renewed confidence in my powerful Savior that He is working all things together. The path looks ugly right now. It hurts.
There is separation and anxiety. There are choices being made that are damaging. But my God is a healer. Lord Jesus, help my unbelief.

But today, I was reminded that over the years, God has been faithful. There is a big boy who at one point in his life was a little boy with a tender heart. And I trust those truths received will not turn void. So I pray again today, as like every day, that God would do the miracle only He can do.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

The Life Giving Home

I think all moms want this. A life giving home. A home where all residing feel safe and loved. A home where all negative emotion is kept at bay and all loving and kindness exude from everyone. After all, we know how easy this is to accomplish, right?

NOT!!!!

Sally and Sarah Clarkson, mother and daughter author team of The Life Giving Home, do a very beautiful job of encouraging moms to push as hard as they can to create a beautiful home: physically, spiritually, and emotionally. At first as the reader begins this book journey one word that comes to mind is overwhelming. But keep pushing through. Their transparency comes to light as they remind you, the reader, that it is a daily challenge for them as well. They have set up the book to have each chapter represent a month in the year and give very practical advice and ideas to help develop this "air" in the home. Love, kindness, patience....the fruits of the spirit are essential; as well as, selflessness...something that every person struggles with; intensely, I might add.

Personally, I am a SERIOUS type A personality and struggle to get away from my checklist. This book has helped me to make a list that can help me daily as I help to develop the "who" of the little (and not so little) people in my house.

I am very thankful I came across this read. This is now a staple next to my Bible and nightstand. For I am constantly aware that I need daily refreshers and reminders.

Note: As a part of the Tyndale Blogging Network, I received a free copy of this book.



Sunday, January 17, 2016

Brilliant Light

This last week, my oldest daughter and I went to an appointment for a program through our local school system, called Vocational Rehab. They offer free help for "special needs" students as they get close to graduation; in order to find jobs or even get vocational training. (Even though she has always been home schooled, we can still use this service.) My sweet "Marie" is a junior in high school, almost 17 years old. She entered this life with so many struggles. She continued persevering in life and school even though many things seemed to be against her. And she has become a beautiful woman who loves God with all her heart.

As we entered the appointment, her nerves were on edge and neither of us really knew what to expect. As we left the appointment, I wanted to just cry. She did an amazing job, although the amazing part wasn't her poise, or knowledge of what she could articulate. It was her love for Jesus and she had no inhibition to express why she lives the way she does. Her worldview screamed loud and clear. When questions were asked about her blog or about her relationships with her parents, it came down to, "I write about what Christ has done for me..." or "sometimes I disagree with my parents, but I know they are trying to protect me and help me to do what is right."

The counselor that interviewed her was stoic and did not express emotion either way to "Marie's" responses, but I would have loved to get in her head.

One thing I am certain of is this: my sweetie's light was bright that day. She allowed the world, especially the counselor, to see what she lives for. She can't tell you her birthday some days. She can't tell you what the date is, how much money a cashier needs to give her back, or what time it is. But she is confident of this one thing: HE WHO BEGAN THE WORK IN HER IS STILL WORKING AND WILL COMPLETE IT!

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Letters of Encouragement

This week marks a special time in the life of a special ministry. Joni and Friends is a unique ministry started by Joni Earickson Tada after her life was radically changed by a swimming accident 40+ years ago. She is quadriplegic who testifies daily of God's grace in her life via her radio spot.

The girls and I have been listening to it via podcast weekly and it has become a great thing to catch up on while we are on the road too. Joni is one of my spiritual heroes. She has truly been used in so many ways to speak the truth of God's Word and His will.

This week on her program she has started a series called, Hearts for the Handicapped. Each day, for a week, she highlights a special family, and gives the listener an opportunity to write to encourage that family. The disabilities may include anything from autism to paralysis.

So as part of our school week we have incorporated a time to pray and write to these families.

It gives us perspective.





Monday, January 4, 2016

Just a Little Poem; A Hymn

If thou but suffer God to guide thee,
And hope in Him thro' all thy ways,
He'll give the strength, what-e'er betide thee,
And bear thee thro the evil days;
Who trust in God's unchanging love
Builds on the rock that naught can move.

Over, thou restless heart, be still
And wait in cheerful hope, content
To take what-e'er His gracious will,
His all discerning love, hath sent;
No doubt our inmost wants are known
To Him who chose us for His own.

Sing, pray, and swerve not from His ways;
But do thine own part faithfully.
Trust His rich promises of grace,
So shall they be fulfilled in thee.
God never yet forsook in need
The soul that trusted Him indeed. Amen.

- George Neumark

Monday, December 28, 2015

Living Out the Talk

Words come so easy. But when the rubber hits the road, so often what we have said is certainly hard to live out.

Job's friend, Eliphaz, reminds him of this truth.

Job 4:3-6
“In the past you have encouraged many people;
    you have strengthened those who were weak.
Your words have supported those who were falling;
    you encouraged those with shaky knees.
But now when trouble strikes, you lose heart.
    You are terrified when it touches you.
Doesn’t your reverence for God give you confidence?
    Doesn’t your life of integrity give you hope?

Job's friends didn't do such a great job in the area of encouragement amidst his tremendous suffering, yet as I read these verses today, I thought of how these truths in our lives flesh out.

"Everything will be ok."

"Trust God. He knows what He's doing."

"God is sovereign over all. Doesn't that bring you peace?"

"Fight for joy."

These are all things I have said in the past to others in the midst of trials. Yet, I know when I have been in the midst of my own suffering that sometimes I just want  people to sit with me and be still and quiet.

And I have doubted all these truths. I have strayed from trusting. I have asked, "WHY?". I have been terrified. I have lost heart.

But two things I know for sure. My confidence must be in my Savior; even when my feelings are frail. My hope lies in Him and Him alone.

And these truths won't ever change! Even when I doubt. Even when I fear. Even when I feel far from my Savior.

Friday, December 18, 2015

A Very Special Gift

Do you have one of those people in your life that no matter how many days go by since you have last talked or seen each other, you remain kindred spirits?

I do. And today was one of my favorite days.

I met this dear friend for our annual Christmas get together. We eat, drink coffee, exchange gifts and yada yada yada...you know gab about kids, life, family. But most importantly, we encourage each other. Sometimes it involves tears, like today, and always it involves laughter.

Sometimes we head to our favorite costume jewelry store after eating our soup and salads. Sometimes we have our favorite Trim Healthy Mama dessert brought from home to share over coffee. Today over lunch, we shared our struggles, cried over burdens. Being real with each other is the most important thing. And being a great listener, which I cherish in this dear friend. She always knows what to say, and when to say it. The talk always goes back to the Gospel and our need to grow in Christ, be bright lights and keep Him central in our lives.

After having eaten lunch, we exchanged gifts. As I opened my bag I knew there was something special inside. One of those gifts that speaks of love and heartfelt thoughtfulness. Something that can be a constant reminder to be of what I need to be doing each and every day.

Choose joy.

Believe.

Two things that I find daunting, yet required by my Lord. Two things I want to do more than anything else. Life spits out lemons so often. It is a choice in how to respond.


We both spoke of how this journey is fleeting and now both of us, heading into midlife, have much to contemplate.
What and how are we believing.

Are we choosing joy even when the burdens seem to weigh us down? Weigh us down like drowning. Sorrows multiply. Bad things happen. YES, We can choose joy!

So I will wear these reminders around my neck as a beautiful weight. One that will keep my eyes on the prize of the upward call in Christ Jesus.

After tears were shed and grace was multiplied we grabbed a beautiful fattening cupcake from a gourmet shop and headed to coffee. We both found it ironic that we were armed with the new THM cookbook in one hand, a gift to her, and a delectable cupcake in the other. But, hey, that's what friends do!


Women Helping Women

Discipleship. Mentoring. Counseling. Life Coach. Friendship.

Whatever you happen to name it, the Titus 2 mandate is essential. Older women helping younger women through their physical, emotional, and spiritual  journeys in life. This is one of my more passionate issues in life that I tend to get on my soapbox about.


So I was all too happy to Dana Yeakley's book, The Gentle Art of Discipling Women.

Mrs. Yeakley writes this book out of a passion and longing to see the women in the body of Christ put to work this "art". She has lived it out herself and delivers her message in such a way that is truly gentle.

She reminds the reader that one must truly know her God intimately if she is to help other women. We have to examine our own lives to see if we are motivated by acclamation or simply wanting to see Christ glorified as we invest in each other. Our own walks must match our talks. So she takes the first part of the book to speak to the one doing the discipling. Have we worked through areas in our own lives where we might be struggling with areas of sin: unforgiveness, idolatry, etc? Do we have an intimate relationship with the Lord? Are we in His Word regularly? Are we prayerful as we consider who the Lord might be leading us to invest in?

The second half of the book is one that helps the mentor to know how to go about helping other women. She does such a great job in making this job joy-filled and "natural". The body of Christ is to be about this, whether one is sitting do a study with someone, or just inviting a younger gal over to dinner to see how Godly mothers do their job in a casual setting. The goal is to help each other grow closer to Christ and be latern-bearers of bright lights.

Every women is capable of intentional relationships. This book helps us immensely in finding our niche, examining our own lives in view of helping others, and seeking God for help.

As a part of the Tyndale Blogging Network, I received a free copy of this book.

Monday, December 14, 2015

My Name is Mahtob: Book Review

I am intrigued by autobiographies!

My Name is Mahtob, written by Mahtob Mahmoody, follows the story of a little girl's life before, during, and after the kidnapping of her and her mother across the borders of many countries. They were taken from America to Iran in the early 80's by Mahtob's father. He was an Iranian who lived in America from the age of 18 until his departure with his victims. He became a radical Muslim after moving to Detroit, Michigan. But enough about him. Because this story is really about the resolve and determination of a girl who becomes a young woman. A beautiful young woman.

As Mahtob describes her journeys it is remarkable to just imagine what she went through, and yet, the bulk of the story that impressed me was how she conquered her fears and anxieties. Forgiveness was key to this! After returning to the United States, she was diagnosed with Lupus, that almost killed her. Yet again, she is spared. As she aged, she realized her faith and belief in God was vital to continuing on....you see, her father didn't give up. He continued to try to contact her and even did things to increase those fears; living day to day with weird "coincidences" happening that only increased her dread.

Through many important people that God placed in her life, she was able to finally forgive him and change her entire view of life. Thankfulness and seeing her daily blessings was key to overcoming this mental anguish.

The story invites the reader on a journey that will not be easily forgotten! It may even cause one to examine one's own way of handling life's circumstances. Most importantly, it will confirm to the reader that no matter how hard life seems, our faith in God and attitudes makes the hope attainable.

As a part of the booklook blogging network, I received a free copy of this book.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

The Great Exchange

I was struck by a certain truth today!

God exchanged our wretchedness for His perfect righteousness.

He could have come down as a warrior to defeat sin. But He chose the form of man. Not just man, but a babe. It was the ultimate form of humility. A baby totally dependent on man, specifically his mother, to fulfill his every need. He grew up in great wisdom and stature and favor with God and man. Then chose to leave all, not to just go back to heaven, but to save the very people (and mankind) that He was dependent on as a babe. And not just taking us back to heaven with him, but choosing to die to pay the price that our horrendous sin required!

NOT ONLY THAT!

He became sin! We will never understand what that entails. Think of all the most wicked and evil sins that man has committed; sins that every single one of us has the ability to commit. He became that. He became the adulterer. He became the pedophiliac. He became the liar. He became the terrorist. He became sin so that we could become the righteousness of God! Just think on this friend.

What kind of love could drive Him to this! A love we can't even fathom, yet a love that is to drive us to love just like that!

Another beautiful picture of this exchange is wealth. We arrive in this world spiritually poor and deprived of any chance to gain riches or wealth due to our sinful state. Yet, our merciful Maker, through His grace, provides riches, immense and overflowing. He takes our poverty as His own. Dust to Riches. That's us! And He, deserving nothing but majesty and riches becomes the beggar groveling for every bite.

Oh, the mercy! Oh, the grace!