He’s Already There…

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My friend’s parents have both been diagnosed with cancer.  The diagnosis of her mother came first then that of her father and just weeks apart.  My heart breaks because I know the pain of hearing words such as “terminal”, “cancer”, and “chemo therapy”. I remember how scared and angry I felt.

I talked to her this week. My sad attempt to comfort her turned into encouragement for me. She said, “ You know… I can see God all in this.” Her mother is not a believer but in the midst of this time of shock and hurt she is reading the devotional Jesus Calling.  My friend told me, “He is being glorified through the whole thing.” I only wish I had seen the good in the sickness and death of my parents. I didn’t. Not at the time.However my spiritual eyes are being opened now by this sister in Christ as she stands firm, BELIEVING He’s got this too.

There’s comfort, hope and encouragement in music. Casting Crowns’ He’s Already There is speaking volumes to me. Verse two reiterates God’s plan and purpose for each one of us even while in the valley of the shadow of death.

From where You’re standing
Lord, You see a grand design
That You imagined
When You breathed me into life
And all the chaos
Comes together in Your hands
Like a masterpiece
Of Your picture perfect plans.

 

 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13

My friend exudes peace and overflows with hope and it is only by His power and love that she does so. As I type this morning I praise Him for putting before me a precious woman of God who is setting a godly example of faith for me and so many others.  As much as my heart hurts for her I am filled with hope KNOWING that when life throws me another curve ball He’s already there and has the situation in hand… His hands.

Thank you sweet lady for living out the life of Jesus before me.

Thank you friends because I feel confident in your prayers.

He’s Got This Too!

I’m in a different season of life right now than I’ve ever been in before. I’m getting close to 50 and my husband and I are experiencing health issues. My grown children have their problems and of course I want to fix everything for them. I recently had surgery and I am having a hard time getting back into the swing of ordinary life. But in light of these momentary trials my God reveals Himself in it all. He assures me that in all things He will bring good out of it and He will be glorified somehow in the process.

 Today I am thankful for a Savior who understands how I feel about life and the hurt that comes with it. Despite my bad attitudes and questioning He never forsakes me and never will. Jesus is the friend I’ve never had and I feel at ease showing Him my true self. After all He knows me better than I know myself. I am blessed that out of the billions of people on this earth He chooses to hear me, chooses to love me and chooses to bless me in spite of myself.

I am more in love with Him today than ever before. I think maybe it’s because I must lean into Him more and more and He proves His faithfulness each and every time. Of course the problems in my life still exist but as long as I trust that HE HAS GOT THIS I can get through each day with the peace that passes all understanding.

Can We Really Be Wonder Women?

This is a post I wrote over a year ago but I think it bears printing again. Enjoy.

wonder woman

Wonder Woman! I remember watching her as a child and I always wanted a pair of those bracelets she wore. With those bracelets she could defeat any bad guy that came up against her. Wonder Woman was beautiful inside and out and could do it all with both hands tied behind her back.

As I grew older Wonder Woman really became more like the super standard that women felt they had to meet. We joked about other women who were Wonder Women but deep down we wanted to be like her too. Oh yes their kids were perfect, houses immaculate, marriages happier than any other and careers were booming whether in home or out. Every hair in place, time to work out every day, help the kids with homework, cook two awesome homemade meals a day and still have time alone to read their favorite book at night. And their spiritual lives were right on target. One hour in the morning with God before getting the family up, church at least two times a week and serving wherever needed.

What a life. I mean I’ve dreamed of having such a life. I’ve wanted to be this Wonder Woman. I’ve even tried to make other women believe this WAS me. I pretended and wore masks for years. But why?

Fear of failure? Pride? A competitive spirit? Fear of rejection? Low self-esteem?

Eventually burnout set in. I could not keep up with the other women I so admired. I tried and worked and strived but failed. My children weren’t perfect neither was my marriage. I didn’t like to cook and still don’t. My house was never immaculate although it is much better now that the kids are grown. But serving in the church… that I did well. I served in every area I could. All. The. Time. My kids and I were there every time the doors were open. However, because I did this so well the other aspects of my life were given less attention. Husband, kids, home, and my personal relationship with God were all put on the backburner.

But my Heavenly Father just wouldn’t leave me on that endless cycle of pretending…

Although I had accepted Jesus as my Savior at the age of 21 I was missing a piece of the puzzle. Finally the pieces came together about years ago when I “got” the truth of His immeasurable love and grace for me. As I grew in His grace and understood His love the masks began to fall off
or maybe the Father very gently took them off for me. I was able to see myself more clearly and what I saw was eye opening. Underneath the masks of fear of rejection, failure, low self- esteem and issues of pride was a woman chosen, loved and made holy by her great God. Because of Christ in me I am a woman of love, humility, compassion, forgiveness, kindness, strength, Christ-confidence, and patience.

Underneath all the masks and pretending was a real authentic Wonder Woman after all. Guess what? You are a Wonder Woman too!

References: Philippians 4:13, Colossians 3:12-14

So Life Didn’t Turn Out The Way You Wanted (2 Min. Devo)

English: Rest and be thankful Looking up the R...

English: Rest and be thankful Looking up the Rest and be Thankful from the old road. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

(2 minute devo)

What do you do when things don’t turn out like you thought they would?  You’ve been praying and seeking God and you were expecting the best but right now it doesn’t seem like the best.

I’m struggling with this now. I thought this situation would be different and better by now. After all, I really thought I was in His will. And it seems if I was in His will the problem would be solved by now.

Sometimes things don’t work out the way I want them to but God will do what’s best. I’m thankful for that. I’m thankful I know something about His character. And because  I know Him I can believe that no matter what happens He is bigger than  my circumstances. The question is “do I trust Him enough?

So tonight I am choosing to trust  He has worked it all out for my good and His glory. So I will wait. Please pray for me.

Just Jesus… Is He Enough?

woman givng it to Jesus

His love is not a human love it is a God-sized love that has no conditions or boundaries. In fact He crosses human boundaries to get to me every day. There was a time in my life when I walked away like the prodigal, thinking I knew how best to live my life. He waited and He watched then He took action and caused a series of events to happen that brought me to what I would call a “terrible time in my life.” It wasn’t. In the end it has been one of the many miracles He has worked in my life and that of my family.

I have to admit it was hard to come back to Daddy because the pleasure of sin seemed so worth it. It wasn’t. It was hard to come back home to Him but He still wanted me even after I messed up my life so bad. He longed to make it right.  He DID make it right. I am His daughter and His love is above all I can imagine or think. I can never be separated from His love no matter how far I go or what I do while I’m gone away. It simply doesn’t change anything for Him. I am the same in His eyes no matter the sin I fall into. Roman 8:28-39 Nothing, nothing and I mean nothing can cause Him to pull His love from me.

This realization changed my life. Though my family and friends could only accept me to a certain point God accepted everything about me: the good, the bad and the ugly. Acceptance and approval are very important to me. I have spent most my life trying to attain them, However  I discovered through divine revelation that GOD IS LOVE, that I was His forever and even on the worst days of my life He was still there  It was then that I could really love Him right back. I am complete in Him even though there are still times I attempt to find satisfaction in other people, things and circumstances. But it’s just Jesus. No matter how I look at it…its just Jesus, it’s all Jesus.

I am so thankful I was chosen by Him and that when He did choose me I received the forgiveness and mercy He offered me. How about you? Is it just Jesus for you?

Thankful His Faithfulness Does Not Depend On Me

This week I will face a challenge different from any I’ve ever faced. I’m so thankful that God is my strength in every way. He gives enough grace for each day. He gives enough of everything for every situation. Some days I need more physical strength than others and He provides. Some days I need mental and emotional help and He gives what I need just when I need it. Even on those days I don’t put my trust fully in Him He is faithful to care perfectly for me.

So  as I come face to face with this trial I have every confidence that my God will uphold me every step of the way even when I begin to doubt or step into self pity or fear. That’s what’s so awesome about God, His faithfulness does not depend on me. And for that I am thankful!

Isaiah 25:1 LORD, you are my God; I will exalt you and praise your name, for in perfect faithfulness you have done wonderful things, things planned long ago.

1 Corinthians 10:13 No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.

1 Thessalonians 5:24 The One who calls you is faithful, and He will do it.

2 Thessalonians 3:3 But the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one.

 

Prayer In Times Of Trouble

2 Chronicles 20: 5-9 And Jehoshaphat stood in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem, in the house of the Lord, before the new court, and said, “O Lord, God of our fathers, are you not God in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. In your hand are power and might, so that none is able to withstand you. Did you not, our God, drive out the inhabitants of this land before your people Israel, and give it forever to the descendants of Abraham your friend? And they have lived in it and have built for you in it a sanctuary for your name, saying, ‘If disaster comes upon us, the sword, judgment,or pestilence, or famine, we will stand before this house and before you—for your name is in this house—and cry out to you in our affliction, and you will hear and save.’

I think I can take a few lessons from Jehoshaphat here. When in trouble he called back to God who He is. He recalled God’s mighty work in his life in the past. And he believed and declared that no matter what happened God would hear and SAVE!

Oh Father,

As I face these new obstacles I am full of fear at times but I know You are my God and in Your hand is power and might. I believe no one or nothing can come against You and because I am Yours You will keep the enemy from coming against me. Thank You God!

You have saved me in the past. You brought me through every hard time I have ever experienced. And I have confidence that when I pray, when I cry out in my time of trouble You hear me and You will save me. I am resting in these truths as this is Your word to me.

May You get all glory and honor from this situation and all circumstances in my life.

In Jesus Precious Name,

Amen

To read the whole prayer and account of what happened  check out 2 Chronicles 20.

How God Speaks

God speaks. In those quiet moments through His word. In the voices of family and friends, pastors and teachers. In a song on the radio. In the clanging of the windchimes. In the brilliant sunlight on this beautiful autumn day. Through email, Facebook, e-books, blog posts, the telephone and snail mail. In the calamity and chaos which is life.

He doesn’t have to speak. He’s God.

Yet He chooses to reveal Himself to me in a million different ways. Every day.

He’s speaking to you too. Listen.

 

Oh I’d love it if you’d share how God is speaking to you. Tell us on Facebook or leave a comment below.

Women Need Women

Welcome to your home away from home. Come here with a good cup of coffee and sit a spell. You’ll find refreshing devotionals, Bible study lessons, posts from some of my favorite teachers, leaders and friends. And…. there’s inspiration, encouragement and lots of love and support.

You’ll get news about church and religious culture and ideas and resources to help you in your daily life. All you need to do is subscribe by email or RSS feed and you will receive news from GraceFull Women a few times a week.

The fact is women need other women. But sometimes its just not possible to be with like-minded women face to face. GraceFull Women is here to give you that place of grace for those times in your life. We need each other. Join us today!

Now go ahead subscribe and/or “like” our facebook page so you can get involved right away! You’ll be glad you did.

Have a personal prayer request or an idea for a post? Email me at gracefullwomen@gmail.com. You email will be kept confidential unless you specify otherwise.

In His Grace All The Time,

Julie

2 Min. Devo: Captured by Julie

I’ve been captured by You. Thank God You caught me when You did. I was on my way down for the last time, but You swooped in and saved me from destruction. The enemy had me imprisoned, chained to the wall and You stormed the cell doors and broke those chains forever. I followed the evil one to hell and You rescued me for eternity. I was a victim; You are my victory. I was dirty; You made me pure and clean. I was a liar; You are my truth. I was held captive; You freed me to live. I was jealous; You are jealous for me. I was dead inside; You made me alive in Yourself. I was hungry; You fed me. I was parched dry; You gave me living water. I was a legalist; You gave me grace. I was bound to the world; You delivered me. I was stressed and worried; You gave me peace. I was grieved; You gave me joy. I was in darkness; You shined Your light. I was lost; You found me. I had no home; You gave me refuge and shelter. I was drowning; You gave me breath. I dug a grave; You called me out of it. I was empty and You filled me. I was unworthy; You gave me value.

There is no place Christ cannot and will not go with me. I can take myself to the depths of the earth, sink into a deep depression, turn to the world and ignore Him, but He will not fail me. He is always faithful. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. I cannot take myself so far down that He cannot uncover me. I cannot push Him away; He will never leave nor forsake me. I cannot run so fast that He cannot catch up. I cannot hide behind any circumstance, wall, barrier, or sin that He will not find me. He is not surprised by anything I do, say, or think. He loves me despite everything He knows about me. He knew it all beforehand yet He still chose to die so I might live! I A-M H-I-S. I have been captured by the one and only God.

Captured by Love

Today’s 2 minute devo is the featured article Captured over at Christian Women’s Online Network. It will actually take closer to 4 minutes to read. Sorry. But you probably won’t regret it. When I began to write I wasn’t really sure what was going to come out of it. But as I wrote it poured onto the page. I will never know another love like this one. Go check it out and give me some love by “liking” it.

2 Min. Devo: Regrets And Missed Memories by Julie

I fell behind on the 31 Days Of 2 Min. Devos. Surprised are you? Not if you know me. I procrastinate. Sad to say but true. I know I have things to do but I often wait to the last minute to do them. It’s hard to keep up with life’s demands sometimes isn’t it? We have so many hats to wear and so many people to please.

But what if we slowed down a bit. Enjoyed the hugs from God. Played with our children, grandchildren or in my case our dogs more. I admit after my second child I did not take as much time to drink in my kids. I regret it because I missed a lot of special moments. I got so wrapped up in taking care of people and staying busy that I forgot to breathe in my babies. So many  precious memories slipped by without me even knowing.

I have a dream that it’s not too late. I have a dream that we will make beautiful memories to last a lifetime. Father make my dream come true. Show me how to capture, to breathe, to hold, to live this life one slow moment at a time.

Love,

Julie

31 days of 2 min. devos: What Forgiveness Is and Is Not by Julie

1-     Forgiveness has nothing to do with whether or not the person DESERVES forgiveness.

2-     Forgiveness is not saying what the person did or did not do is right.

3-     Forgiveness is taking the person off our hook and putting them on God’s hook.

4-     We are cutting them loose from our backs and giving the burden to God.

5-     We are no longer allowing them to hold us captive by holding a grudge.

6-     2 Cor. 2:9-11 Unforgiveness is a trap set by satan.

7-     Forgiveness does not mean we put ourselves in a position to be abused or mistreated again.

8-     Forgiveness does not mean I must trust the person I have forgiven.

9-     We cannot be bitter and get better at the same time.

10-  Forgiveness is not absolving the person from taking responsibility for their actions.

11-  It is not denying that the wrong occurred.

12-  It is not pretending the abuse did not happen.

13-  Forgiveness is letting go of your need for revenge.

14-  Forgiveness is leaving the past behind so that it does not control your actions and emotions.

Now that we know what we have- Jesus this Great High priest with ready access to God- Let’s not let it slip through our fingers. We don’t have a priest who is out of touch with our reality. He’s been through weakness, testing, He’s experienced it all – all but the sin. So let’s walk right up to Him and get what He is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help. Hebrews 4:14-16 The Message

Extending forgiveness is one of the hardest things to do sometimes. But when we realize it is not a natural act but a supernatural act done through us by God Himself it makes a little more sense.

Some of this post is  from Your Scars Are Beautiful by Sharon Jaynes. Good stuff.

31 days of 2 min. devos: Letting Go

 

 

 

 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. Philippians 2:12-13

  As I studied for the Bible lesson it was as if these four words “for it is God” were embolden on the page and they rang in my head all day. Have you ever just been certain He wanted you to know something? Well after hearing these words all day I think I’ve finally connected the dots.

 I struggle with letting things go.  There’s this “thing” I want to hold onto and He wants me to just let go of it. It’s pride that keeps me from releasing it. I know that full well. But as long as I’m holding on, the words might as well say “for it is Julie” because that’s how I’m living it out. I’m trying to do it myself and it just won’t work. I’m trying to create security for myself and He’s telling me “Don’t you know by now I want the best for you. I am your all in all. It is ME not you.” For it is God Himself at work in me and if I will just take my hands off oh what blessing is in store for everyone involved! And it’s gonna be beautiful.

Living in His grace,

Julie

31 Days of 2 Minute Devos: Just Because

Matthew26:39
And going a little farther He fell on His face and prayed, saying, “My
Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I
will, but as You will.”

I’ve read this verse many times but today I felt a lump in my throat as I meditated on this passage. The thought occurred to me that even though Jesus did not want to drink from this horrible cup He was willing to do it for me.

He lost so much at the time of His suffering but I gained eternity and a love relationship like no other. What kind of love is this that He would do such a thing? It’s the one and only kind. It’s a love that saw me in my sin and shame yet chose to die in my place anyway just becauseJust because that’s His way. Just because He’s good. Just because He’s gracious and merciful. Just because He wanted a relationship with me. Just because He thought I was worth it.

His love drove Him to the cross for you too… just because.

31 Days of 2 Minute Devos: His Intimate Love by Julie Moore

And we are His portion and He is our prize, Drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes, If His grace is an ocean, we’re all sinking. Oh He loves us, oh how He loves us…

I love this song. This truth changed my life about six years ago. I had been a daughter of the King for many years but didn’t understand His love for me until a wise woman in our church took me through a Bible study about God’s love and grace.

Just today He showed His love as I checked my Facebook account and had a message from my cousin. She said, ”I am praying for you and thinking of you every day.” I responded and then she sent back, “Everything will be okay. I know it. I love you.” Although the message came from a family member I knew it was from the Father as well. What comfort there is in knowing He loves me enough to prompt someone else to contact me with His message at just the right moment when I need it the most.

You know He didn’t have to do that for me. But in His Father’s wisdom and care He knew I needed just those words at just that time. Oh how He loves me… and you.

When I thought, “My foot slips,”
your steadfast love, O Lord, held me up.
 When the cares of my heart are many,
your consolations cheer my soul. Psalm 94:18-19

In His Love and mine,

Julie

Christ In Everything by Heather Tyson

Do I see Christ in every single thing? I ask myself that question a whole lot lately. I’ll say that if you sit and over analyze it, it seems almost weird. For example, upon emptying the dishwasher (which I hate with a passion by the way) or brushing my hair (ahem, not always on the top of my list either), do I literally see Christ in that? The fact that I can do neither of those things without Him and the actual breath He gives me each minute to sustain my life is nearly overwhelming if you think about it. Do I see Jesus in every task that I’m doing – the fact that I can’t do it and also the desire to know what He is doing IN me through that task. WILD!

So as I sit here working today, it’s easy to get mired down in performance reviews and new fiscal year goals and how is my success going to be measured. Fact is, though, none of those things will measure my success. Those things will show that I am doing my job well, but they don’t define my success. Jesus does. I’ve already succeeded because of Him. And every moment at my job is about Him. Don’t get me wrong, we show up to work and we do our jobs. And to the best of our ability. Because it is where He has placed us, but there is a reason that is not of the corporate variety. We are there to be a light. For Him. In every conversation. In every written communication. In every interaction. And not necessarily in our words even, but just in our general persona – are we letting HIM do through us? Think about it! It’s freeing!

And there are things like Facebook. Twitter. Instagram. All things I love to use on a daily basis. For what? Mainly, to share His love. I mean literally through social media, we can share the gospel like the speed of light – instantly out there for millions to see. Through words. Through conversations. Through interactions. It’s freeing!

We are free to be who He made us to be. But it is really not as much about being diligent about every word or thought or motion. It is about surrender and letting Christ do His thing. In emptying the dishwasher. In brushing our hair. In showing up to work. In social media. In writing a blog. It’s His time to shine, we are simply the vehicle.

It’s been an overwhelmingly busy week for me and having this settle in my brain has given me a breath of fresh air. I can’t fail with Jesus in my heart. The victory is won. He has risen from the dead. SO I WILL RISE.

In His Love and Mine!

Heather

A Journey Through High Places

Welcome back to my sweet friend Rhea Riddles. I so love to read her writings. There is something peaceful about her words. Enjoy and visit Rhea  http://rbriddle-blog.blogspot.com. You won’t be sorry.
 
 
This autumn day we have been on the road for four hours or so now and soon we will exit this death-deifying roadway. The highway curves steeply down in a graceful arc. Beauty has stamped itself on our eyes this day; it has been a venture into splendor all along our way. Leaving the golden crowned rolling hills of Kentucky, aka Paradise, behind with a sigh slightly tinged with expectation we enter the land of Promise, Tennessee, and into another level and depth of jeweled-toned bio-degradable nature.
 
God is so gracious, He gives us a season of indescribable beauty before the withering and falling takes place. I could dwell on this thought for a while but we are rolling on. We skirt the City of Nashville, a musical city with country in its heart. It is a city that holds memories of great shopping pleasures for me. A city of seven hills whose people move languidly on their feet, but at warp-speed on their wheels. My racing heart becomes calm as I see the silhouette of stacks of brick and mortar growing smaller in the reflection of our rear view mirror.
 
We drive on toward the edge of middle Tennessee. Crossing the meandering little river of Caney Fork, for the fifth time, we began the slow sweeping approach in a gentle rise to the Cumberland Plateau. In a jarring shock to our senses the beauty of the “God breathed” landscape intensifies. In times past, in this eye teasing high land we have met almost all the forces of nature, driving through blinding sheets of rain, blizzards, ice storms, monsoons, and I swear that once there was a tornado prowling around below us.
 
Today a late arriving sun is bathing the awesome view before us in glory. God has been lavish with His paint brush. After a hundred “Ooos”and “Ahs”, we reach a spot along out route that calls for much louder “OOOS”and “AHS”. The shoulder of the highway seems to drop off into nowhere and if we dare to lift our eyes we can capture in an instant, miles and miles of forest studded horizon far, far below. Thank goodness Don is a steady driver for the effect of this view causes me to have a sensation of vertigo as well as the feeling of being caught in a dizzying vortex and I fight the urge to veer towards a place where no road goes.
 
My breathlessness is under control, as we are nearing the end of this day filled with a cacophony of neon images that somehow work together as a whole. We have left the race on the interstate behind us, with the pushed back hills and fields and now we are up close and personal with red, orange, and purple that is reflected on the body of our van and in oil slicks and wet spots on the black top road. The hills are somewhat gentler, but only for a short while for soon they will become the offspring of the Smokey Mountains.
 
The trees surrounding us are now back-lit and seem to swagger in the wind shouting “Look at us too” and we do. The hollow; we have reached the narrow span that dips far below the towering banks above us; suddenly we are in a dark green and gray world where monsters live. The stalwart trees and their once golden hue have been gobbled up by the monsters called Kudzu; however soon they will depart for a season leaving a desolate, foreboding path for passersby.
Out of the Hollow and up the hill and the promise Tennessee holds is near. We could have arrived by the much-traveled county roadway, but we needed a last shot of adventure. The scenery is once again in party mode and so are we.
 
This world holds much beauty and today we have experienced it abundantly, but there is a greater beauty and it enters the eyes or even through the pores of your body and it settles in your heart and thrills your soul, and in a couple of heart beats we will be right in the midst of that beauty, at journey’s end. The promise that Tennessee holds for us, and a blessing from God will be fulfilled, beautiful ending of a beautiful day, when family gathers.
 
Psalm 127:3-5
Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from him. Children born to a young man are like arrows in a warrior’s hands. How joyful is the man whose quiver is full of them! (NLT)

The Nameless Given A Name

I’m so glad you stopped by today. What an honor that you would read our posts. I hope you won’t mind checking out my article over at Christian Women’s Online Network today Jesus is the One Who Names the Nameless. The woman who wept at Jesus’ feet has so much to teach us.

Don’t Just Talk About It. Do It. By Heather Tyson

 

How much do we talk and how much do we actually “DO”? I mean, let’s face it – it’s a legitimate question. From our jobs, to house work, to grocery shopping, to fitness, to adventures we dream about taking. The easy part of all of those is SAYING we are going to do it. The easy part is TALKING about it. What’s the hard part – getting up early every morning for the job. Actually vacuuming and doing laundry. Really, truly going to the grocery store for more than the four ingredients you need just to make dinner that night. Going to the gym and completing that horrifying workout. Booking that trip and lifelong dream adventure and just doing it. It’s easy to talk about those things, but what happens when it comes to DOING it? Sometimes we talk and just don’t do. It’s the truth – for all of us at one time or another, right?

It’s what we do with Jesus and our walk too. And then we beg the question, but HOW do we do it? Well, here is what I know – we don’t. He does. Scripture tells us in John 15:5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” Get that last part, folks, apart from me you can do NOTHING. NOTHING. That’s where we miss the how. We still try to do stuff on our own.

This weekend, my fabulous husband and I had the awesome opportunity to serve alongside some friends. Now let me tell you this – I’m boring. I mean I go to bed at about 8 p.m. most nights. I’m tired from my day! I just am. Friday night, we sat with friends til nearly 2 a.m. – until we could hardly keep our eyes open any longer talking about JESUS. That is all we talked about the whole night and it was AMAZING! Here is my point – we could sit and talk about any other topic and it wouldn’t even matter – we’d be talking rather than doing. But by sitting there with our friends, talking about Jesus, we were DOING – we were investing in each other. We pointed each other to Jesus. AND THAT IS DOING. Because it wasn’t us, it was Him. We shared stories of seeing Jesus in everything, from a dripping bathtub to bacon. Because the truth is, Jesus is in all of those things and when we allow Him to work through us, we see Him everywhere.

 

Then on Sunday we were able to spend the morning support our friends as they allowed God to use them to begin planting a new church. I was humbled to be there and to serve alongside so many people that had a heart to minister to the lost and hurting. Let’s face it, that should be everyone’s mission, right? And it is because our heart is of Him, but when we try to do it, we mess it up. As we walked the streets talking to people, sharing with people and just allowing God to minister, we found we didn’t really need the words so much. Sitting with them was sometimes enough. Giving to them things to meet their basic needs was enough. Laughing and smiling with them was enough. Loving them was enough. See, it wasn’t about talking or what we said, it was about what we allowed God to do through us. It was about DOING. And not US doing, but HIM doing.

Here is my point – let’s all be conscious this week of DOING. But not US doing, Christ doing through us. Let’s let Him work. Let’s step out of our comfort zone. Wherever you are, you are in a mission field – allow Him to work through you. Stop talking, start doing.

We are the hands and feet of Jesus. May we love like He loves.

 

How To Love Your Husband

I’m linking up with Audra at Rediscovering Domesticity.

 

“I just don’t know who I am anymore, especially separate from him.” I knew how she felt because I had been in that place myself. There was a time I needed my husband so much that nothing else mattered. My whole world revolved around him and his happiness. This sounds good on the surface, right? Who wouldn’t want a wife who loved so completely? Yes I loved this completely at the expense of my own identity. I felt I was no one without him. He was my life.

For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Colossians 3:3-4.

I had my priorities mixed up. It was Christ who was my life, not my husband. At this time in our marriage we were trying to work through some hard problems and in order to make it work I felt I had to be everything to him and do anything for him. Life was difficult for me as I lost my identity and became a woman I was not meant to be. My husband was an idol in my life and there was no room for a growing relationship with Jesus.

I became stagnant spiritually and burned out physically, emotionally and mentally trying to make my husband happy. Striving to be perfect drove me to the point of exhaustion. My feelings told me I needed him more than anything so I worked hard to keep him. I thought, “Who would I be without him.”

Fast forward to today. I don’t need my husband I want him. There’s a huge difference. Needing him led to bitterness and resentment. I could never be perfect no matter how hard I tried so my failures were ever before me. Wanting him creates a real love and respect between us. Now I am a woman set free by the grace of God. Knowing who I am in Christ Jesus gives me confidence to live life being myself, taking off the masks of pretending and letting my husband know the real me. Guess what? He loves the real me, the imperfect me, the me I was created to be.

When people control our actions and thoughts they become life to us. The truth gets distorted and we lose focus. But the truth is Jesus is LIFE and we should never allow a person to take His place. If we need someone so much that we think we have to put on a mask and be something we are not then it’s time for a change. Change can only happen when we come to the realization that people are not perfect, people will disappoint, people will betray, and people can’t fill our emptiness with their love. God is love and His love fills every need we have. He never betrays, disappoints or leaves us empty.

1 John 4:16 So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.

When we live out of Christ’s life in us we love others with the love of God. And in those moments when they let us down we can give grace because it isn’t us giving it, it’s Him giving and loving through us. Now we can love others and want relationship with them but we don’t need that relationship to survive because we know we have abundant life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

I am praying for my friend to find her identity in Christ and not in her husband. When she begins to live as the woman she was always meant to be she will love and respect him so much more fully than she ever could do while wearing a mask. It’s out of the fullness of God’s love that Christ lives His life through us and that’s where real freedom and true love is found.

Galatians 5:1 For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.

LIVE FULL!

Julie

Can We Really Hear God Speak? by Heather Bryant Tyson

God speaks. All the time. You know, for much of my life – during trials and hardship – I’ve posed the question I think every believer has at one point in their life – “why is He so quiet? When am I going to hear from Him?” What we are looking for is an answer, right? We are looking to hear something comforting. We are looking to hear something that helps us – that gives us hope – that gets us through the tough times. But what does that look like? I will tell you – that is simply His voice. It’s not ever going to be in what you hear. It’s never going to be in the answer you wanted. It’s never going to be an outcome or a change of circumstance. Yes, those things may make us feel better momentarily and say what an answer to prayer with rejoicing. But the ONLY thing that will help us is His voice. Just Him. Because He is the answer. He is hope. He is the change of circumstance.

My husband and I have walked a really tough road this week. A painful road. One that feels like devastation. We’ve struggled. We’ve cried. We’ve been angry. I admit – I don’t understand sometimes and while I know that God is on His throne and while I know that He makes EVERYTHING GOOD, it sometimes does not feel like that right? So this week I’ve been just sad and even felt myself asking the why question – even though I know in my head that’s wrong. But we can’t help it. It’s what we do. And honestly, I felt like He was quiet. Yes, I know in my head He was there – but didn’t feel it every second in my heart. And that is not because He hasn’t been there – He is always there. It’s because my heart was seeking answers – not Him. And as I wondered why He wasn’t speaking to be directly – why He was choosing to stay quiet in the storm, He showed me Himself mightily. See, God speaks. All the time. And when we aren’t in tune to listen to Him speaking directly to our hearts, He uses other routes. People. I can imagine Jesus saying “I love you too much, let me try to tell you this way.”

Here is how He spoke to me through other people this week. None of it gave me answers, but all of it showed me more of Him.

Random texts “I’m thinking about you” or “I can’t get you off my heart and I’m praying” – from people who didn’t have a clue I was struggling. Thank you to those for your obedience.

A phone call asking me step forward and lead women’s bible study Wednesday not because I was needed but because “the Holy Spirit is heavily laying on my heart that you need to teach this one.” To teach a lesson amidst my storm? I don’t know why, but I knew it was from Him too. Thank you, friend, for your obedience.

An outpouring of love from those closest to me just to let me know they were there and that they love me dearly. Thank you, family, for your obedience.

A phlebotomist at the doctor’s office, who upon assaulting me with her needle said as she poked me “breathe in the goodness of God. Now breathe out His mercy.” And then shouted to me as I left “BE GLORIOUS!” Thank you, Ms. Louise, for your obedience.

See, none of that was about people. It was about Him. It was about Him speaking to me in my storm – using other people. And their obedience blessed me beyond measure because they put themselves aside to show me HIM.

I stand in awe of my Maker. The one who created everything from nothing and loves me so much that silence isn’t enough for me. Yeah, I don’t always get answers – but I always get Him. Because He shouts through the darkness, He chases in the dark and He exists in the stillness.

Hebrews 13:8 “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”

He is the same. Yesterday – before the storm. Today – during the storm. Forever – after the storm and neverending.

Why Disciple Others? by Heather Bryant Tyson

“And what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” 2 Timothy 2:2

Are you in a discipleship relationship?  Over the past few years, I have learned so much about discipleship – what it means, what it does and why it is so important! I want to share with you my story about coming into my first ever “real” discipleship relationship. There  were times when I thought I was being lead but it wasn’t the right kind of relationship.

Almost four years ago as I found myself in a horrible spot by my wordly vision – facing divorce, confused on why things were happening to me, wondering how God could bring me through this for good and yearning and longing to just feel His presence, I felt a pull to have a mentor. To have someone that would help to teach me – I could read my bible all I wanted, I could pray a million times a day – those were GOOD, however I just needed my “person.” I prayed through how to determine who was a good person to help me out. How would I know? I spoke to a couple of really Godly ladies, who I trusted dearly and got some great advice. Most notably “you’ll know when it’s the right person.” Guess what? I knew when the time came.

There was a fabulous lady at my church that I “knew” but I didn’t “know” if that makes any sense. I knew her because I saw her face at church, saw her interaction with her family and friends and had heard nothing but wonderful things said about her. More than that, I just had a strong pull towards her. I don’t even know why because I didn’t even “know” her – I didn’t even know her entire story and testimony. Nonetheless, in church one Sunday as the service ended, I felt overwhelmed to go talk to her and I obeyed. Here is how it went. I walked up to her and said hi then blurted out “WILL YOU PLEASE DISCIPLE ME???” She looked at me with a little bit of shock I guess and blurted back “YES, I WOULD LOVE TO!!!!” That was pretty much the extent of our conversation. WEIRD! But I knew it was right.

Over the next almost 4 years I got to meet with this fabulous person who has taught me so much about Jesus. Who has shared joy, laughter and tears with me in my best and worst times. I have had the honor of watching her walk through trials and heartache and mountaintops of joy of her own. I have had the pure privilege of calling her my friend. Not because we started that way, but because we ended that way. She is the kind of mentor and friend that will laugh at my stupidity then set me straight and hold me accountable for my actions. All in love. She is a shining example of what the love of Jesus looks like. Not because she is perfect on her own, but because she knows she is perfect to Him and it is the very fiber of her being.

We all need our person. I encourage you all to seek a godly discipleship relationship with another woman. Someone who will love you through good times and bad and help you grown in Him and equip you to teach others about HIM and to show others HIS love, because that is what we are called to do. If you want to have a lasting effect on our generation – do THIS. Be discipled and disciple! Get poured into and pour out!

In Him,

Heather

Just For Me, Two Minute Devo by Julie

Just For Me

In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew.  And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!”Isaiah 6:1-3.

I read these words aloud to the women’s Bible study I was teaching last week. This portion of Scripture wasn’t new to me; I’ve read it many times before. However this night as I spoke those words I cried.

 These verses were not a part of the original lesson but God laid them before me several times that week so I thought the women needed to hear them. As I read “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts: the whole world is full of His glory”, the tears fell. At that moment the love and gratitude I felt for Him was overwhelming. I sat on that stool trying to gain my composure but the more I read the more emotional I became. I’ve been known to cry a tear or two when speaking of His goodness but this was different. I was humbled before Him to the point that I could barely speak. There was no vision like the one Isaiah had but I knew in that very moment 100% that my God was holy, good and perfect. And I knew that even if no one else got that point it was okay because He had made Himself crystal clear to me. Turns out those verses were just for me.

Engraved On His Hands! by Heather Tyson

 

One of my favorite scriptures is Isaiah 49:16.

“Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of My hands; your walls are continually before me.”

I love this scripture – it gives me comfort and it gives me joy and it keeps me focused on HOPE.

In the past few years I have grown to realize that I don’t want to just like a bible verse; I don’t want to simply enjoy scriptures; I want to LOVE what Christ is telling me in each and every individual word.

So for this one, let me break it down for you as it has settled into my heart recently and why I LOVE this scripture.

Behold – This word is used to garner attention. In today’s terms I can see Jesus saying “Hey, listen to THIS” or “I have GREAT news for you!” or “Get this awesome sauce!”

I have ENGRAVED you…….ENGRAVED. There is gravity in that. That is permanent! This isn’t just a “hey, I have a mark that reminds me of you” or “well look at that, isn’t that kinda cool.” This is an ACTION verb here folks. I have engraved you. I took action and PUT YOU PERMANENTLY somewhere. Permanently. Forever.

On the palms of my hands…..not engraved you on a coffee mug so I could occasionally look at you with admiration. Not engraved you on a plaque on my wall so I could be reminded of you when I walk past. Not engraved you on a necklace that I will probably never wear because it doesn’t match my outfit (that was for you ladies). Engraved you on the PALMS of my hands. How many times a day do you look at your hands? You use your hands every day! They are an instrument of doing.

Your walls are continually before me…….Now this one isn’t just a “well, if you have trouble, let me know and I will see what I can do.” This is your walls – the things that BLOCK YOU – that you have to figure out a plan around or a strategy to get beyond. And they are continually before me. Not a reactive statement but a proactive protection. I can see Jesus saying “I have got this before you even get there”

Now get this picture, Jesus is telling us, through this scripture, that He has engraved us permanently on His palms. He hung from the cross with nails through his hands. It is how He paid the price for us and that is a reminder of how much He loves us. And he chooses to keep that there forever and loves us so much He tells us “hey children, I’ve got you in my hands FOREVER. You cannot slip out of my hand, because you are engraved there. Letting go is not an option.” And then with those same hands, picture Jesus literally pushing a wall before you. Pushing it with what? HIS HANDS. His hands where YOU are ENGRAVED! What a beautiful picture of Him doing through us. That’s what we are striving for – getting out of the way and letting God do His thing through us, right? And here He paints a picture (for me) of Him pushing my obstacles away – always before me as I simply follow and He is pushing with ME because I am on the very hands He uses to accomplish this.

Humbled that I am forever engraved in my Maker’s hands and that He has always got my back. Always. He has it before I even get there. He is continually before me. Continually – which means neverending.

By His stripes we are healed…..

Heather

Worry and Anxiety- How These Emotions Can Mess Up Life

As I sit here wondering what the outcome of this situation will be I am comforted by the words of Jesus, “Let not your heart be troubled… John 14:1 I’ll admit not being troubled is hard sometimes but knowing that He is “already there”, beautiful song by Casting Crowns, gives me security. Now looking back on the past and seeing what He has done in and through me builds my confidence all the more in my God.

Remembering how He upholds me during the painful times and loves me through rebellious times gives me hope that He will do it again. He is so good like that. He’s personal, real and available to me through it all.

You see, God sits outside time already knowing what, when and how I will do, say and think everything. Psalm 139:1-4 All the days of my life were written before any one of them came to be. Psalm 139:16 He is not surprised or shocked by the circumstances I am experiencing now. He’s taken care of it as it should be.

In uncertain times He is my stability. He is my answer. He is my peace. Sometimes I don’t go straight to those truths and I might linger a little while in fear and worry. I begin to think about the “what ifs”, then imagine the worst scenarios and that’s a natural response to life’s situations. However if I allow myself to live under the bondage of fear and anxiety I open myself up to the lies of the devil. In fact when I get this far I have already believed his lies. He tells lies like, “God’s taking too long to fix this maybe you should just do something yourself”, or “God’s punishing you”, or “Hey your faith is too weak that’s why this isn’t turning out well.” Jesus tells us the devil is the father of lies. He waits for an opportunity to take ground and then forms a stronghold. And although the truth is that he has been defeated by the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross we still often open up a place for the enemy to steal, kill and destroy. John 10:10 When worry and anxiety become a stronghold it can go deep and last a long time.

So let us destroy the enemy’s hold and lay claim to who our powerful God really is and who we are in Him.

1-     Greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world. 1 John 4:4

2-     Therefore there is no condemnation in Christ Jesus. Romans 8:1

3-     I am victorious in Christ. 2 Corinthians 2:14

4-     Jesus is my peace and strength, therefore I will not be worried and in a state of unrest. Ephesians 3:16, Philippians 4:13

5-     I cannot give myself a peaceful mind and heart but Christ in me is Peace and He is my life. Ephesians 2:14-16, Philippians 4:7

6-     God did not give me a spirit of fear but of power, love and a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7

7-     God is perfect love and perfect love casts out ALL fear! 1 John 4:18

8-     I know that no matter what happens my God will bring good out of it and glory to Himself. Romans 8:28

You know, I feel better now, and relieved that it’s not up to me to be peaceful and worry free. It is Jesus in me that brings such good and perfect gifts into my life. It’s when I surrender my burdens to the only Answer that peace will abide, love will conquer and my relationship with Jesus will grow.

Come lay down your circumstances with me and let us declare who we are in Christ Jesus and take hold of the truth that God is God and we are not.

Ephesians 4:23 … and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.

My Merrin By Heather Tyson

Today is my sweet little girl Merrin’s birthday. She’s four as of today. And she acts every bit of 12. From talking about boys (already) to having a sassy little attitude that I would imagine rivals that of any 15 year old, she has the sweetest spirit and the greatest smile.

As I reflect back on the short yet long life of my little Merrin, I can’t help but think about what my prayer for her is. Yes, I know, we all have those things we are supposed to say – that she will love, that she will be successful, that she will be healthy. Yes, I want all those things! BUT, I can truly say that my one prayer for her is that she will come to know Jesus at a very early age. As soon as she is able to grasp His great and mighty love for her, I want her to fall deeply and madly in love with Him. Forever. And her little life will be forever changed.

My mom and dad have done so many great things in life to point me straight to Jesus but of all those things one that I count the greatest is that they made sure that the first thing all of their grandkids heard when they were born was the gospel. With the birth of both of my girls, my mom let me know after her first little private conversation with them (which was minutes after birth), that they had heard the gospel. She shared that first and foremost because it’s all that matters. So while I sit here reflecting on that, I know in my heart that IS all that matters.

We as parents have a need to control our kids life. To protect them. To provide for them. To help them. To teach them. To mold them. To love them. Those are all great things, my friends, but in my prayer – I fervently pray that she will KNOW HIM. Then she will KNOW HER WORTH and all those things I want to do as a parent won’t matter. She will KNOW she is holy, blameless, chosen and LOVED. And man, what greater thing could you want for your child. Or for anyone?

May we be bold and mighty in proclaiming the gospel to the lost – from our own children to strangers on the street. May we love like Jesus and make a change in the world because we let HIM live through us.

IN HIM,

Heather

Why Are You Jealous? by Heather Tyson

Yeah ya’ll Heather got married! And she’s back with a word that hits where it hurts. But opens our eyes to the truth.

That would be God ya’ll.

 

Have you ever been jealous of someone else? Ever sat and wondered why someone else is so much more blessed than you?  Felt sorry for yourself or like you can’t do anything right to get that kind of life? Moreover, isn’t it hard to hear people say things like “well, she is blessed because she is faithful” or “Well, she loves God so much He has blessed her immeasurably”?

Let me tell you why statements like that get under my skin. My God doesn’t work that way. My God is a fair and just God. He gives and He takes away and He blesses all who love Him. Here is the kicker – He loves us all and blesses us all. Seeing our lives as blessings and as immeasurably provision is all perspective. Let me explain. When we are jealous or when we covet or when we plain don’t think God is giving us enough it’s because our focus is on US. ME, ME, MEEEE. The times where we feel most blessed and most loved and most cared for are when our focus are on HIM, HIM, HIMMMMM. It’s our perspective people. It’s how we choose to see things. Will we see through our own eyes or through the eyes of Jesus?

There are plenty of things in our lives that we could constantly complain about – money, relationships, kids, friends, jobs, etc. Truth is, God is working in all of that. Every single bit of it. Because we are faithful, we SEE that. We aren’t blessed as a reward – He is blessing us every single day – our faithfulness, or our choice to see things through His eyes – allows us to focus on and see the blessings. What that means then is my life is no less great than one who has millions of dollars or one who has all of the material things I want or the one who seems to have the perfect family life and perfect job. Nope, not less blessed than them because I know that God is working in my life. I KNOW that He is working all things for good in my life and my perspective is that I am BLESSED.

I encourage you to choose to see things through HIM. Everything is about HIM. We can’t unload the dishwasher, or dry our hair, or even BREATHE without HIM. Choose to see every second about Him and His glory and I promise you that you will see yourself as blessed. How could you not in a relationship with the Creator of the whole universe who loves you dearly.

I look forward to getting back into the swing of writing on Wednesdays!

In Him,

Heather

Want A Great Site For Christian Women? Check It Out.

Okay I’m over at Christian Women’s Online again today with my latest article Got Anxiety? Got Worry? Get The Answer. What happens when uncertainties hit us square in the head? Often we become worried and focus on the “what ifs”. Go to this link and find the answer to your questions. And check out all the wonderful posts and see what’s in the archives too!

My Love Story In A Nutshell

1981 

2012

In the year 1979 a young 15-year-old girl went on a blind double date with a good looking, long-haired, popular guy from school. She really didn’t know how to act as this was her first date. They went to a drive-in movie where they saw Meatballs starring Bill Murray.

After this date the two fell in starry eyed love. The girl’s parents were not too excited that she had gotten so serious so young but agreed to allow her to date the “hippy”, as her dad called him, IF he would get a haircut and take the loud muffler off his car. Which he did because he wanted to date the girl.

They dated two years to the day and got married August 1, 1981 with one stipulation from her father, she had to graduate high school. Which she did, proudly, and only missing 51 days of school! Can you believe the school system allowed her to graduate anyway?

They lived life together, had two children, moved to two states other than Georgia and even lived in Germany a year because he was stationed there with the army.

These two grieved together over the loss of parents, animals, aunts, uncles and various other things. They rejoiced over healings, salvations, triumphs of their children and each other. They supported and loved each other as they walked and sometimes ran down the hardest roads any two people could travel. But they did it together.

These two sweethearts have never given up,  have held on for dear life, they sat and listened, laughed and cried, fought and made peace, forgave and made a life they adore. But the greatest gift the two have given and received is love, love that only a loving God could implant in their hearts for one another. This love has and will endure, this love will grow old together, this love will hug grandchildren one day, this love accepts one another, this love protects, gives unselfishly, is kind and everlasting.

This life and this love is mine. The man I love and live it with is my husband Ed. I am thankful for all God Himself has given us together. Happy Anniversary baby!

Who Is God?

When we know who God is to us it enables us to trust and love Him. How can we trust someone we don’t know? It’s imperative that we realize who our Father is and just how much He loves us. So today I’m declaring who my God is to me…. and you.

Gen. 15:1 He is our shield and our very great reward.

Jer. 32:17 Nothing is too difficult for Him.

Ephesians 3:20 He is able to do immeasurably more that all we ask or imagine according to His power that is at work within us.

Romans 8:31 If God is for us, who can be against us?

Romans 8:38-39 Nothing in all creation can separate us from His love.

John 17:23 He loves us as much as He loves Jesus

Isaiah 40:12-31 He is absolutely sovereign and He knows the end from the beginning

Psalm 103 His love for us is greater than the height of the heavens above the earth. He has removed our sins from us and has compassion on us as a loving father has for his son or daughter

Hebrews 13:5 He will never ever forsake us

Psalm 86:15 He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, and abounding in love and faithfulness

Matthew 11:29 He is gentle, tender and humble in heart

Ephesians 3:16-19 His love for us is beyond our natural mind’s ability to grasp

Colossians 3:12 He has chosen us and loves us dearly

Psalm 23 & John 10:14-15 He is our Shepherd and supplies all our needs, restores our soul

Gen. 15:20, Romans 8:28 He has everything rigged to work out for our good

Philippians 1:6 He will complete the work He has begun in us

1 Corinthians 1:30 he is our wisdom, righteousness, holiness and redemption

Just to name a few…. His Word is loaded with so much more. Meditate on a few of these verses and decide for yourself what they mean for you in your own personal life. Take who He is and apply it to your life and the lives of others.

I don’t know about you but my trust level rises when I believe God is who He says He is.

The Words That Spoke Strong

I sat in my oversized chair in my newly painted office. Feeling a lack of peace and uncertainty I needed to know God was in control of my circumstances. I wanted to know it was going to be okay. I was desperate to know He was true to His Word and that His love was strong. When I opened up iTunes on my computer I had no idea what song would play first. And then He spoke loud and clear.  I heard these words as if they were written for me…. and I believe they were.

Beautiful by MercyMe

Days will come when you don’t have the strength
And all you hear is you’re not worth anything
Wondering if you ever could be loved
And if they truly saw your heart
They’d see too much

You’re beautiful, You’re beautiful
You are made for so much more than all of this
You’re beautiful, You’re beautiful
You are treasured, you are sacred, you are His
You’re beautiful

Praying that you have the heart to fight
Cuz you are more than what is hurting you tonight
For all the lies you’ve held inside so long
But they are nothing in the shadow of the cross

You’re beautiful, You’re beautiful
You are made for so much more than all of this
You’re beautiful, You’re beautiful
[ From: http://www.elyrics.net/read/m/mercyme-lyrics/beautiful-lyrics.html ]
You are treasured, you are sacred, you are His
You’re beautiful

Before you ever took a breath
Long before the world began
Of all the wonders He possessed
There was one more precious
Of all the earth and skies above
You’re the one He madly loves…
Enough to die!!!

You’re beautiful, You’re beautiful
In His eyes

You’re beautiful!
You are made for so much more than all of this
You’re beautiful!
You are treasured, you are sacred, you are His
You’re beautiful!
You are made for so much more than all of this
You’re beautiful!
You are treasured
You are sacred
You are His

Thank you God for using your vessels MercyMe to show me the love I so needed at that very moment.

Loved by Him,

Julie

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Being Intentional EVERY DAY by Heather Bryant Freeman

 

 

 

Today I am just thankful. Thankful for life. Thankful for grace and mercy. Thankful I know Jesus.

Do you ever wonder how anyone makes it through every day life without Jesus? Think about the worst storm in your life – the most horrid of circumstances you can imagine. What got you through it? For me – only Jesus. So often I wonder how people just simply make it day to day without knowing HIS love for them. And it makes sense why the world is so crazy and bleak sometimes – because people are lost…..and desire acceptance and unconditional love….and they don’t know that the ONLY place they will find it will be with Jesus. Not the concept of Jesus. Not the idea of a savior….but Jesus. The savior.

We had a guest speaker in church Sunday – Danny Egipciaco – he is from Miami and works together with our missions ministry on global outreach. I am so incredibly blessed to go to a church that is dead on with the gospel and the message of grace and moreover one that puts so much emphasis on mission work – both locally and globally. So Sunday Danny is speaking about his calling to share the gospel in Miami and preached about our responsibility to share the gospel. To share the love of Christ. He brought it with his sermon and I loved it. What struck me most was how real he was in saying “I don’t know how we are going to do this. We don’t have enough people. We don’t have the right skill sets. We don’t have a strategy and it’s a big God sized vision. But I’m here and I’m willing.” That’s it folks – plain and simple. Are we willing?  The rest is up to God. We talk and talk and talk about how we trust God and know He has got it under control, but how willing are we? How willing are we to share with those people who are lost – the ones we wonder about making it through any given day without knowing His love for them? It’s our responsibility. I was refreshed Sunday with a willingness to just DO – to stop talking and just DO. I’m so thankful for Danny’s willingness to share and to make a BOLD calling to all of us to go where the Lord leads us. To pay attention to stirring in our hearts and to act. I, for one, want to be used. Here I am. Send me.

So what does that mean? I’m going to be so much more intentional. I talk about Jesus every day. It’s my favorite thing to do! Seriously. At work. With my friends. With my family. In these blogs. On facebook. It’s what I do. But here is what I’m going to do – be more intentional with sharing love with the lost. Every day while I am out, I commit to asking at least one complete stranger if they know Jesus. We should be doing that with EVERYONE and guess what? I don’t. I know, I know, you’ll say “well the time isn’t always right. The circumstances have to be right.” For me, hogwash. The time is now. Pray for me for awareness and intent to start locally sharing with the lost – and I will only know who the lost is if I ask! OR, join me in a challenge to ask one stranger a day if they know Jesus.

Let’s be a light in a dark world. Love them like Jesus.

Heather

Real Life, Attitudes, And Jesus by Heather Bryant Freeman

 

The past week has been a tough one for me. I’m going to be honest, I’ve just plain struggled – with everything. Struggled with stress, with work, with being nice to my friends, with respecting and loving my soon to be husband, with being pleasant with my kids, with desiring to teach my women’s group, with praying, with keeping my focus right – just EVERYTHING! I’m embarrassed to tell you that but there ya have it – it was a bad week last week! It happens to all of us – and often so I figured I’d talk about why that happened.

It’s simple: our focus and perspective gets off base.

That’s it, the end. End of blog. That easy.

Seriously, though, it is that simple. Here is what I experienced this week – I was so testy with people in general. Why can’t anyone do anything right? And I was stressed out with wedding crap  – what needs to be done and ordered and planned and on and on and on and on ad nauseam. What I should be saying is “oh look how wonderful and God’s got this. It will be perfect.” La la la, chirping birds and butterflies and stuff. BUT, things just don’t always look like that now do they? I digress…. So stressed with wedding stuff, work has been a bear lately – so much to do for year end. Also, no one is as smart as me. Ever. Or so I thought last week when my patience fuse was the length of a toothpick. BOOM. My friends – well they were just irritating in general. Stop asking me questions already – I kinda don’t have time to talk what with all my other pity parties going on. OH, and then there is my incompetent, selfish, zero help husband to be. I mean really? Do I have to do EVERYTHING by myself and is our life together going to be this fabulously irritating all the time or what? And my kids – forget about it – I mean can y’all just go to time out until about 2017? Thanks.

WHAT WAS WRONG WITH ME?! Because I kid you not, people, that was my attitude. Oh, and I was mean. But here was the problem – guess who wasn’t having their quieeetttttt time lately? Guess who wasn’t prayyyyying lately? Guess who was even feeling an urge to stop and be still and listen to the voice of her Creator and she didn’t have timmmmmeeee for all that? THIS GAL! Well, I mean, dang. And it was like a smack between the eyes about Thursday of last week as I sat crying thinking my world was crumbling around me because I was SUCH A VICTIM – and God said to me for about the 800 millionth time that week “talk to me.” And so I did. And guess what? I had a sweet, sweet time with Him and really got my focus back where it should be which is just Jesus. All the time. Just Jesus. He didn’t love me any less because I was focusing on life MY WAY rather than what He was calling me to do. He didn’t love me any less because I was mean and arrogant and prideful and spiteful. He didn’t love me any less because of my rotten attitude. Instead, He reminded me that He created me for more than to experience life that way. He created me to live life and live it abundantly and my husband to be, and my kids, and my work, and my family and my friends were all a GIFT and for that I was and am and forever will be grateful!  So I left that conversation with apologies to family and friends and I went into lifegroup Sunday WANTING to teach and to talk and be real and to share His love. Because He is my focus.

Praise Him that He is so patient and loving to me. Praise Him that He blesses me despite my shortcomings and what I perceive to be failures. Praise Him for declaring me holy, blameless and loved.  Jesus, I take refuge in YOU alone.

“How precious is your steadfast love, O God! The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings.” Psalm 36:7

The Truth About The Holy Spirit- Stuff You Might Not Know

One of my most popular posts is Does The Holy Spirit Convict Of Sin Or Not? Not too many comment on it but it is read ALOT. Although readers are not talking to me about it I often wonder what they (you) really think about it. I mean after all it’s not a teaching we hear from the pulpit too many times if at all.

The Holy Spirit is God in us and He is love and does not condemn see Romans 8:1 and 1 John 4:8. However Scripture does teach that The Spirit convicts those who do not believe, of sin. He convicts believers of righteousness and reminds us that the ruler of this world has been judged and Jesus won!. IT IS FINISHED! John 16:8-11 Sometimes circumstances cause us to forget that truth so the Holy Spirit may say, “Remember you have the victory through Christ.”

He reminds me that I am righteous, holy, snow white before my Father. My sins are forgiven and forgotten because of the shed blood of Jesus. Circumstances and sin often lead us into a belief  we are no longer who God says we are and the Spirit reminds us, “Hey you, no matter what this looks like right now remember who you are and remember who your Father is.”

In a sermon at my church today the pastor spoke on Exodus 3. The part that really stuck out to me was when Moses asked God,”Well who do I tell them sent me?” God said, “You tell them I AM sent you.” And guess what? He is everything I am not. He is my completion. When I am up to my neck in sin or circumstances He IS everything, my total provision for anything in life. So when I’m in the midst of “stuff” the Holy Spirit reaffirms that God’s got this too. FYI the sermon was fabulous and was delivered by a guest Pastor Kevin Campbell from a new church plant in San Diego, Elevate Church.

Why did I write this today? Because I’ve been reminded of who I am because of what He did and it makes me warm and peaceful. Have some for yourself. He gives freely.

My Independence Day

 

 

Today, July 4, 2012, we celebrate our great country and independence and freedom. What a tremendous opportunity we have in the United States of America – to live totally free. The adoption of the Declaration of Independence in 1776 marks when we were set free as a nation – independent  from the Kingdom of Great Britain and set apart.

As we celebrate freedom today, I ask: when were you truly set free? When was your Independence Day? See, In Galatians 5:1, we are told:

“For FREEDOM Christ has set us FREE; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” ESV

This means that Christ has truly freed us – and for freedom for US did He die on the cross – to change our identity. To make us independent from sin and to SET US APART.

I accepted Christ at the tender age of 5. I was in Awana at Community Bible Church, being presented the gospel by my Kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Kohl. I remember truly understanding what Jesus had done for ME. I don’t know why it was that night that I actually got it. I don’t know why it was that particular presentation of the gospel that struck a chord with me. Strike that, it wasn’t the presentation of the gospel at all, it was JESUS that struck a chord with me that day. It was my Independence Day. He set me free that day. Since then, I have learned so much more about grace and mercy and love and forgiveness and everything that Jesus encapsulates, but THAT was the day that I was truly set free.

If you are not sure of your freedom, if you don’t feel free – if you don’t think you truly get what Christ did for you on the cross, please email me at hmmfreeman@gmail.com as I would LOVE to talk with you about it. There is no greater joy than to walk in the freedom of Christ.

Celebrate Independence today.

GOD Bless America and every other nation on Earth and everyone in it. HE is love and HE is freedom.

In Him,

Heather

 

 

My Week Of Relaxing, Renewing, and Romancing by Julie

“Father, Let this be the best vacation we have ever had. Let us make memories we’ll have for a lifetime.” This was my prayer the morning we packed up and left on the 6 hour drive to Myrtle Beach.

After being on hiatus for a few days it’s a little difficult getting back into the swing of REAL life. At the beach hubby and I did everything at OUR own leisure in OUR own time. We got up when we wanted, stayed on the beach as long as we wanted and ate whenever and whatever we wanted. I call this “the week time stood still”. Real life isn’t like that is it?  No, we have other people and responsibilities to consider. But all I wanted was this time away to be special, a time we would never forget, one of our best memories as a couple…. and it was.

The weather at Myrtle Beach was perfect for those of us who tend to melt in the heat. One day was overcast and cool, the next sunny but cool and the last day was a bit hotter but not unbearable like our former trips to the beach. The ocean was almost too cold for hubs and I but we ventured out a few times, but mostly we relaxed in our chairs and soaked in the beauty of the ocean, people watched and listened to books on our Ipods. This is by far the best getaway we’ve had with just the two of us. It was as if we were in our own little world enjoying our surroundings and each other to the fullest extent.

I am thanking God for our time away and the closeness it brought between me and my lifetime sweetheart. Isn’t it just like the Father to bless us with more than we could have imagined? As we left home Monday neither of us expected the gift He had prepared for us.

We took many walks down the beach chatting and looking for seashells. We had dinner each night at a different restaurant. We sat on the balcony listening to the tide roll in. We laughed sometimes and sat in silence sometimes, because its okay if you don’t have anything to say. I know all this sounds squeemishly romantic  but it was more than that. It was a feeling of security, of lifelong committment, of true lasting love.  I am blessed and feel renewed in my relationship to my husband of almost 31 years. We were fortunate enough to get away from the stress and pressures of every day life which gave us a chance see things differently. And this week I was given a glance into what my future holds and it made me full of thankfulness and joy. To God be the glory great, kind, personal, beautiful things He has done. Amen

Grace in Obedience and otherwise

I’ve heard it said “obedience is all that matters.” I can agree with this statement and then part of me disagrees with this statement. Let me explain why. Obedience to the calling of Christ in every single moment of every single day – allowing Him to do what He wants to accomplish through you – IS where it’s at, friends! However, there are times we don’t obey and I am not suggesting that is right – it’s just not – but it still matters. Why? Because EVERYTHING matters to Him. HE WORKS ALL THINGS FOR GOOD – so it has to matter. The fact that we are sometimes not obedient also works for His glory because He is sovereign and mighty. Please don’t think I am suggesting disobedience, I certainly am not – just want to say that EVERYTHING matters to Him. Everything. And His goal is a deeper, more intimate relationship with Him – whether that is accomplished by success or failure, highs or lows, laughter or tears, or even obedience or disobedience. He uses it to draw us closer to Him. And it matters.

Have you ever KNOWN God was telling you to do something very specific and you just didn’t do it? I am talking about the kind of overwhelming, zero question, man this is very clear kind of calling. I believe we are called to act every day but there are very, very few times in my life I’ve been absolutely, 100% overwhelmingly convinced that God was sitting literally right beside me, poking me on the shoulder and saying “do this. Right now.”

One weekday a few years ago, I was driving to my sister’s house to pick up my daughter. In driving to her house, there is a cemetery – a small, quaint little cemetery. I drove past the cemetery that day and noticed a car there and a man standing at a gravesite. I was going down the road so of course I don’t remember all the details, but the picture was clear. It was late in the afternoon and it was raining. As I approached this picture, God said to me ever so clearly “go pray with that man.” Guess what I did? Laughed. I am embarrassed to tell you that I laughed. I’m further embarrassed to tell you that the conversation that ensued between God and me was a bit ridiculous on my part. My response was “okay, really? “ Him “yes. Go pray with that man.” So in my head I had the following thoughts:

  1. God is NOT telling me to go pray with a stranger in the middle of a CEMETERY – that’s dangerous. He’d never put me in danger like that.
  2. God wouldn’t tell me to stop in the rain to pray with a STRANGER – much less a man – that’s dangerous. He’d never put me in danger like that.
  3. I have to pick up my daughter – that’s NOT fair to my sister  – That’s what He would want.
  4. I am crazy. I make up stuff in my head too much. Do I really know God at all that I would have such an asinine thought on my own? I can’t do anything right.

After each one of those thoughts He said to me “turn around and go pray with that man.” I ignored it. I drove down the road and to my sister’s house. I even felt guilty. I KNEW I was being disobedient. I just knew it. And I had that feeling in your gut you can’t shake. So after I picked up my daughter I drove back past the cemetery to see if he was still there. He wasn’t. I can’t even explain to you the feeling of missed opportunity I had. I don’t know why God called me to go pray with that man and guess what? I won’t know this side of heaven why He was calling me to that. I do know, however, that I missed out on a blessing He would’ve given me and who knows – maybe that man as well. I missed the chance to be used by Him. That is a crappy feeling, is it not? I cannot tell you just how many times I have driven by that cemetery saying “please God, let him be there. I promise you I will stop and pray with him.” He hasn’t been there again in the MANY times I’ve driven past. God wanted to use me in His timing and I ignored it.

I will never forget that day and I wonder all the time what He was trying to do in that. Here is how God used that in my walk with Him – I know I was disobedient. I know I didn’t do what He was telling me to do. I know it was Him calling me to act and I didn’t do it. However, He loves me so much, He simply used it to remind me of the following by moving simple words in my original thought:

  1. God is NOT telling me to go pray with a stranger in the middle of a CEMETERY – that’s NOT dangerous. He’d never put me in danger like that.
  2. God would NOT tell me to stop in the rain to pray with a STRANGER – much less a man – that’s NOT dangerous. He’d never put me in danger like that.
  3. I have to pick up my daughter – that’s NOT fair to my sister  – That’s NOT what He would want.
  4. I am crazy. I make up stuff in my head too much. Do I really know God at all that I would have such an asinine thought on my own? I can’t do anything right ON MY OWN.

Be obedient! It matters! And when you find yourself disobedient – let Him speak to you on what matters and what He is trying to show you!

Friends, Forgiveness and God’s Amazing Grace

 

I am so incredibly thankful for the people in my life. I can’t even put into words how humbled and amazed I am that God would bless me (first and foremost) with His love and His grace, but secondly with the love and grace of my family and friends.

I haven’t always been the best friend to everyone. There are a few I’ve taken advantage of and a few I’ve not treated in the most respectable way. I’ve not always showed loyalty and I’ve not always been graceful and loving and forgiving. I have always had plenty of friends but looking back, I just did not display the kind of a love a true friend displays. I just didn’t.

There’s one particular friend in my life that has seen me at my highest and at my lowest. She cared for me when I was in a place where I knew no one. She shared love and laughter with me. We shared tears. We relied on each other. Our kids were born very close together and they became friends. It was so idealistic. And then my world started to shake. As much as I hate to admit it, I knew something was amiss in my marriage before it crumbled completely apart. It’s almost as if I sensed it coming. And I chose this friend to be my scapegoat. I lashed out at her. I made sure I told her all of her faults and even blamed my faults on her – projected it all to her. Told her how draining she was. And I let a friendship fall apart. And I left her not understanding what happened. Then a couple of weeks later, my world did actually fall apart. I was too prideful to call her even though I needed her. I was too prideful to apologize even though I knew God was calling me to it. It made me feel better about myself in a way I guess – made me feel more in control of my world when I knew I wasn’t. What’s so crazy is that I was in a good place with Jesus at this time – or I felt like I was. I just was not displaying love or grace in the least.

I moved away and the friendship was just dead. This was about 4 years ago. I didn’t really look back but I thought of her often and even something I’ve never told her is that I wore a bracelet she gave my daughter to remind me of her. A silly plastic bead bracelet (albeit cute as can be!) just to make me feel better. About a year ago, Jesus began working on my heart for her. One day out of the blue He made it abundantly clear that I was to attempt to reconcile that friendship. Now. Oh man, really?? Isn’t that the worst feeling? Be honest – you know it is! Because you KNOW it’s something not of Him that you need to address and that is just tough. But I obeyed. I emailed my friend. I apologized. I told her I did not blame her for never speaking to me again or forgiving me but that I wanted her to know that I was incredibly sorry. And I truly was. I told her I loved her and wished I had been a better example of it. As I hit send on that email, it almost didn’t matter to me anymore. I cared for her greatly, but I knew my obedience was all that mattered and God held me in that moment. BUT, because His blessings are overflowing and His grace abundant, my friend emailed me back almost immediately. Her basic response was how much she loved me and had forgiven me a long time ago without my ever asking because she just LOVED ME. Man. Thank you Jesus for showing your grace and love through my friend. It was so humbling.

So we reconciled our friendship and have had precious communication over the last year. Because God is mighty and great and sovereign and because HE ALWAYS KNOWS and always has the perfect plan in play with EVERY SINGLE THING, our friendship grew stronger and as my friend began walking through a very difficult time in her life I was able to be there for her and understand things that not everyone could. To talk in a way that not everyone could. Amazingly, God put us on each other’s hearts until we had a conversation that was very real and hard and tough about “junk” going on in our lives. And it was and is beautiful. What a precious friend I have – one that didn’t forsake me despite my actions and words that weren’t always of love and grace – that weren’t exemplary of Christ. Yet she loved. Like Jesus – she loved. And then she needed me and God is using me to help her through some tough stuff. I love Jesus so incredibly much and I love my precious friend and her example to me. I pray daily that I can be the kind of loving and forgiving friend that she is.

You know who you are – I love you dearly and you and I both know that He is STILL on the throne.

“A friend loves at all times.” Proverbs 17:17

Let us love. At all times.

Heather

Remembering the Good Things About Daddy, by Julie Moore

1- He loved to sit on the porch and listen to the rain.

2- Storms never frightened him. He even went outside when a tornado was close to see if he could get a glimpse. Mama had me and my brother huddled in the stairway of the basement. I was always afraid a tornado would take him away.

3- All Daddy’s shirts had a pocket. The pocket held his cigarettes and lighter.

4- He played “giddy up horsey going to town, ride a little Julie to get some cannndddyyyy.” When he said candy he opened his knees but held my hands and I dropped. I laughed so hard my stomach hurt. He continued this game on with my kids. They loved it too.

5- He loved his family fiercely.

6- My daddy kissed us goodbye and said “I love you” every morning before he went to work. This went on until I got married and moved out. 

7- He read the newspaper every morning. After he retired and my kids went to school I joined him in a cup of coffee while he read. I remember his reading glasses slid down on his nose. This was a special time for me.

8- Daddy didn’t go to church but he got up early on Sunday mornings to watch gospel singing. It was funny because most the time he had a beer in hand. This way he could keep from being a hypocrite. That’s why he said he didn’t go to church.

9- He loved to cook after he retired. Garlic was his favorite spice and he used it in almost everything he made. Justin Wilson was his favorite and he watched that show every day.

10- My dad loved to eat anything but rice. He said rice had no taste or purpose. He ate slow as to enjoy every bite sometimes stopping to smoke before finishing. Daddy always cleaned his plate and finished anybody else’s plate too.

11- His mom and dad raised 8 children and they were a close knit family but poor. He told us many times of the long, hot days he spent picking cotton. He had no toys except a half of a brick which he pretended was a car. My daddy made due with whatever he could get and was happy for it.

12- He quit school in the ninth grade to help make money for the family but he was one of the most informed, intelligent men I have ever known. He educated himself through, books, newspaper and the news on television. Daddy knew a little bit about everything.

13- He rode motorcycles with Chuck Norris in the late 60’s. True story.

14- He taught me how to drive and had a lot of patience with me even when I drove on the wrong side of the road into oncoming traffic.

15- He grew a garden every year up until he passed away. His favorite vegetables were tomatoes and okra. Fried okra.

16- He had the biggest, strongest hands of any man I’ve ever known.

17- In 1963 he began working at Ford Motor Company in Hapeville Georgia and retired 30 years later. They gave him a catalog from which to choose a retirement gift and instead of getting something nice for himself he got my Mama a three strand genuine pearl necklace.

18- In 1999 his colon ruptured and six weeks later on Sept. 5th he died at Emory University Hospital. His whole family gathered round hours before he passed and sang hymns. My heart was ripped out of my chest that day. God healed my heart but there will always be a piece missing.

Daddy I love you still….

Okay it’s your turn. Tell me something you remember about your Dad.

A Tribute To My Dad- by Heather Freeman Bryant

We are all in the process of leaving a legacy here on earth. What kind of legacy are we building for our families? To all the dads reading, are you modeling the love of Christ in your homes? As we approach Father’s Day, my prayer is that fathers are making a huge impact for the kingdom in their homes. It matters. It mattered to me and I want it to matter for my kids as well.

That said, sorry ladies and gentlemen but MY DAD is the best human father that has ever existed. In honor of Father’s Day I wanted to share with you all a little about my dad. Here are a few words that I would use to describe my dad: funny, loving, manly, respectable, endearing, caring, kind and lastly, godly. Ironically, Father’s Day this year will mark 2 years since my dad went to be with Jesus and I miss him so incredibly much.

Growing up, I knew how great my dad was – I knew that he was loved, adored and respected by pretty much everyone he came in contact with – minus the few random high school boys that dared to disrespect his little girls in any way, shape or form. They, of course,  would never be fans of my father. And that is because he protected us. I have an older brother and two younger sisters – he protected all of us. Just like God does, my dad protected us. My dad showed us in real and tangible ways the love of God. He always led us straight to the cross. I knew this growing up.

Then when I no longer had my dad here with me, I realized even more how great he was. And I missed him. I missed having him to call for advice. I missed going fishing with him. I missed taking him to Gritz on Thursday morning to have breakfast with his friends. I missed listening to him snore on the couch. I missed how loud he would keep the TV. I missed all of those things. And in missing him, I learned so much about the legacy he left behind.

Growing up, my dad and I played a game called “Gotcha Last” – before bed we would have a contest to see who could get the other last – a simple tap on the leg would do. Sometimes a good punch was used. I always got him last – just before I ran to bed. I always won. Until years later – well into college – when my mom shared with me that every single night when I was growing up, after I went to bed and fell asleep, my dad would sneak into my room, touch my leg and whisper “gotcha last.”

My brother told this story at my dad’s celebration of life service – which as a side note, was the GREATEST celebration service in the history of life celebration services. And I am not just bragging, I am telling you it was a GREAT service – the presence of Jesus was incredible. So my brother told the story and it warmed my heart. I wrote the following letter to my father that was shared at his service, and in memory of him and his great life, I wanted to share with you. It pretty much sums up the impact he had on my life. Choose to make an impact. It matters.

My dad has an amazing legacy. I know he has led so many people to Jesus and I know he has filled in as a father to so many who have lost or who never knew their own dad. I know he faithfully taught bible study until two weeks before he died. I know his passion was sharing the gospel and he would do so at sporting events, restaurants, at home when visitors dropped in or any other place he happened to be. I always thought I knew his legacy but now I realize I missed so much of it or never even knew the half of it. The past week has been eye opening, humbling and nothing short of extraordinary. I almost feel I have learned more about my dad since he went home to be with Jesus than I did in the 35 years I knew him on this Earth. I knew he was at work for Christ – every day, but I didn’t realize the vast impact on God’s kingdom he has made – I knew it was big….huge….but there isn’t a word to describe just how big or just how huge. I pray I can make even half the impact for Christ that my dad has made. I’m writing this before the service but I’m going to go on a limb and say just look at all the people here today – and that’s only one small piece of my dad’s legacy.

You heard my brother talk about the game of “gotcha last” I played with my dad growing up.  Here on earth, I touched him last.

Daddy, I gotcha last but you won, because you touched Jesus first. I love you so much and I miss you every second. I am so thankful for the time I got to know you as my earthly father – and I look so forward to spending an eternity with you as my brother……sharing our amazing Father. I love you.

Heather

 

 

A Letter From My Mama… by Julie Moore

I share this with you because I know many of you can relate. I share this as a tribute to my mother. I share this to allow you to see me as I am.

I found a letter stuffed in the back of a drawer yesterday. It was the letter my mama wrote to me for the last birthday we spent together. July 12, 2005. She recalled the day I was born and the events that occurred. Funny story. Then she went on to tell me how much she loved me and how a mother’s love is unconditional and goes on forever and ever.

I had forgotten about this letter and feel pretty bad that I did. Last night I kept thinking and replaying things I wish I had known about her especially how she felt while she was sick. I don’t think I knew how much she loved me until now. Reading that letter and some cards I found with it makes me realize I never knew the intense love she had for me, I didn’t know the dread she must have felt knowing she would be leaving us all, I didn’t know how proud she was of me. I’m trying to understand where I was and what was I doing! Did I just check out mentally while she was sick?

Guilt is a terrible thing. If I could go back and do it all over again I would show more compassion, encourage her to talk about how she felt and hold her tight. She was so very afraid of dying and I didn’t know it. Who wouldn’t be? I kept thinking she just really wasn’t going to die so I pushed her to get stronger, which never happened. I pushed her to do things for herself and all the while I should have done it all for her because she was weak and sick and wasn’t going to get better and she knew it.

I believe now all she wanted was for me to spend all the time I could with her caring for her with compassion, spending quality time together, and giving her hugs and words of encouragement.

My hubby says I did everything I could, that I was a great daughter. But deep inside I know different. I know at times I was resentful because my life was put on hold during this time. I know I should have spoken gentle, healing words to her. I know I should have laid down with her and just held her and reassured her of my love for her. It seems I was always in such a hurry and time is something I didn’t have between taking care of her, my family and all the other obligations I had.

Obligations? What a wrong view of things. My family is not an obligation, taking care of a dying parent is not an obligation. No, they are sweet blessings from God. If only I had seen it that way then.

I think I finally came around to this conclusion after I got home from a weekend retreat. God spoke to me at that retreat and let me know my mama would not be with me much longer. I had decided to devote every minute I could to loving and caring for her with a new attitude. She went in the hospital a week later and never came home. However, I spent the next six weeks by her side or outside her door watching over her. Even though I feel I came through for her at the end I know I failed her in many ways for two years while the disease took every part of her away from me.

One thing I am thankful for today, right this minute, is I KNOW my mother loved me until the day she died. And that love was not an ordinary love. It was a desperate, forever, hard, strong love like no other.

As hard as it was to find that letter yesterday, I am so thankful I did find it. My tears are steadily flowing because I miss the woman who changed my life, the mother who was my best friend, the one who loved me for me with no exceptions, the one who knew every secret I have and always loved me anyway. Thank You Lord Jesus for the blessing of a loving mama and the privilege of knowing and loving her too.

Miracle of Mercy My McKenna…. by Heather Freeman Bryant

Mercy seems like such a simple word. It goes with Grace, right? Grace and Mercy! Well, I didn’t always really understand what that meant. I mean, I get the definitions. Traditionally, Grace is getting something that we do not deserve (for example, blessings). Mercy is not getting something negative that we do deserve (for example, punishment). So that means then that grace and mercy work together right? Well, they do, but it’s amazing how much more God has to show us each and every day….

My oldest daughter is 7. Her name is Makenna. She is the most tender-hearted, loving, kind and compassionate little girl ever. Yes, I’m partial. She can also have a little attitude about her even at the young tender age of 7 – so that should be fun in the next few years! The most awesome thing about her is that she is a child of the King – she accepted Christ last fall and was baptized on Christmas Eve. No greater joy!

Makenna came into the world two months earlier than planned. She is what we like to call our little miracle baby. From the beginning of my pregnancy with her I had problems. I will spare you all the details, because you probably wouldn’t understand them – I sure didn’t. The important point is that several of these “problems” would miraculously disappear. Now I’m talking about issues that would have the doctors call other doctors in and say “what do you say about this? This is what we read about but never see!” and they would take pictures and they would look up in journals and say scary things. So we prayed – I prayed, my family prayed, my friends prayed. And then we would go back to the doctor, and the issues would be gone. And the doctors would call other doctors in and pull up old pictures and say “clearly this was here before, why is it not there now? What could’ve done this?” And I knew. Prayers were answered. It was a miraculous process! Then in March 2005 I began to bleed. And freaked out. My then husband was out of town and (as God would have it), my mother was in town with me. Went to the hospital, was assured it wasn’t anything major, but they kept me overnight just to monitor things. Turned out to be a great thing. As they monitored the little baby, the heart rate would spike really high, stay there, then go back to normal.  Would happen again 2 hours later.  Then happen again a few hours later and so on and so on. I had ultrasounds every day. Fluid was gone yet my water hadn’t broken. Doctors again were baffled. They even drug tested me. Pretty sure all they found there was pizza, donuts and diet cherry pepsi addictions.

After more than a week of this routine, our precious specialist doctor entered the room on Friday, April 1 and said “I can’t do this anymore. We need to deliver this baby.” What? It’s too early! We aren’t ready! What if the baby is not ready? To which the response was “I don’t know what’s happening and I feel safer dealing with the baby outside here than in there. There will come a time when that little baby won’t have the strength to recover from whatever is happening. We need to do this.” So we prayed.

Makenna was born at 5:46 p.m. on Friday evening. We saw her and she was immediately taken to the NICU for specialized care. Upon leaving the operating room, the doctor said to my mom “we did a good thing here today.” The following days were a blur, but I will wrap this up neatly with she is a normal, healthy, fabulous 7 year old today with ZERO problems. Praise God.

I told you all of that to tell you this – the day after Makenna was born, my Mom leaned over my bed to kiss me and said “God showed us a lot of mercy with this one.” I was so taken aback. I knew the definitions of grace and mercy and I knew that mercy meant not getting something negative that I deserved. Was my mom saying I deserved for my baby to die?? I didn’t like that statement at all but I just nodded.

Here’s what’s beautiful, God has shown me SO much about his grace and his mercy the past few years that now I really, truly get it. He DID show me mercy that day. I hate to be blunt, but I didn’t deserve a baby at all, much less one that survived or that turned out healthy. Why? Because we don’t DESERVE anything. But through His grace and His MERCY, we are blessed. He makes us a new creation and gives us eternal life through His Grace. And we don’t live eternity in Hell because of His mercy. And now my mom’s statement to me is one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever heard her say. Oh how thankful I am for His mercy.

Grace and Mercy – opposite ends of the spectrum. Only one thing can bridge the two and make them make sense harmoniously….Jesus Christ.

“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ— by grace you have been saved” Ephesians 2:4-5 ESV

When Life Sucks The Life Out of You/ by Julie

Mary followed Jesus everywhere. She was a disciple and believed His words. She loved her Savior deeply for more reasons than one but the miracle He did in her was a life changer.

Mary was possessed by 7 evil spirits. Her life was chaos and turmoil. She was tormented mentally, physically and emotionally for years. I’ve wondered what her life might have been like before she met Jesus and it seems it would be terribly lonely. I mean she probably freaked her friends out and if she had family they might have stayed but were afraid and desperate for help.

 When Mary was in her right mind she was a pleasure but when one or several demons took over she became unbalanced even hurting others mentally and physically.  I cannot imagine she could even venture to buy food for fear of what the demons would do in her. I’m sure Mary never wanted to hurt anyone but the evil spirits wreaked havoc in her life and the lives of many others.

Perhaps she was kept locked up because she had become too dangerous to roam free among people. Demons are evil so imagine for yourself what they caused her to do, say and think. Poor Mary had no control of her life. Miserable, afraid, paranoid, lonely and hopeless would describe this woman’s existence.

Maybe we don’t have 7 demons in possession of our souls but we can be tormented by our imaginations, sickness and others who aim to hurt us. Miserable, alone, afraid and paranoid might even describe our lives at times. I once knew a woman who believed her home was infested with demonic forces. I know a woman now who talks to her dead relatives. There are people who have loved ones with Alzheimer’s, cancer, and other crippling diseases. Tt is torture to sit idly by as someone you love suffers. I have a friend with a child who is tormented mentally by his father and another who has a child that has been abducted. This is the world we live in.

I’m sure Mary felt there was no hope. But she saw HOPE Himself. She witnessed miracle after miracle in her life and the lives of others. Jesus cast out those demons and allowed Mary to be the woman she was created to be. From then on she was with the man who saved her life. For those who have been changed and forgiven much, they love much. She loved her Savior more than her own life.

John 19:25 but standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.

When all the disciples had run in fear she stayed at the cross knowing that being an associate of Jesus was cause for death. He was her priority. He was her life.

Mark 15:47 Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses saw where he was laid.

Mary stayed and watched where Jesus was buried. She lingered after He died because she had to know where He was. Her heart for the Lover of her soul, the Savior of her life was broken, ripped from her chest. Her own life was of unimportance, everything was about Him.

Mary’s hope lay in Jesus. Now it appeared her HOPE was gone.

John 20:1 Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb.

What drew Mary to the tomb that day even before daylight? I can only imagine it was her great love. Again she risked her life to be near to Him.

Jesus appreared  first to Mary of Magdelene before anyone else. What joy, and excitement she must have felt. What a privilege that Jesus would show Himself to her that early morning.

He is with you before daylight, in the darkest hour. He is alive! This world belongs to the enemy but Jesus has already won the victory. You may feel defeated, exhausted, ready to give up. But your HOPE is here now. He holds on to you even when you can’t grasp His hand. He’ll never let go.  Like Mary in her horrible state of circumstances, believed she had no good thing in her life, we too may believe that. But Jesus Christ has already paid the price for those awful things that cut deep into your heart. You may feel the pain but His blood makes you the victor over the circumstances. It’s hard, it hurts and maybe you feel dead inside but He has given you life. Let Him be your life today. His love is unyielding. Rest in your HOPE and live again believing in the joy of daylight.

Psalm 30:5b Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.

He Already Knows/ by Heather Freeman Bryant

 I have not felt it today – just NOT feeling it at all. I don’t know what to write about. All of my experiences seems kinda “ehhh” or “whatever” and then I feel like it’s not anything impactful and how can that be used and so on and so on into the pit we go, right? SO, let’s talk about honesty! How honest are we with ourselves and with God all the time? I think if I had to guess on behalf of us all, I’d say that sometimes we are and sometimes we just aren’t. A lot of times we aren’t – we put on those masks and hide behind those THINGS we are supposed to do and say and think and live up to – all to make ourselves feel better about where we are with Him. And for what? Because the truth is we don’t have to do any of those things – God’s goal is more intimacy with us – a closer, deeper relationship every day. What would help that? Honesty! Just like our earthly relationships – honestly is key. The difference is we don’t HAVE to be honest with God all the time because He already knows exactly how we feel. Annnnnd, therefore, NOT being honest with Him is like us pushing ourselves away a bit.

So while I sit here not feeling it or wondering how I can be used in writing something out to share with you, He knows how I’m feeling. I know He is going to work in whatever I write about and in my honesty in how I’m feeling about it. See, that is where we have to depend solely on Him. We can do NOTHING apart from Him (John 15:4-5). Folks, we can’t even BREATHE without Him. We just can’t. He is the sustainer of our very LIFE.

Let me give you a few examples of where I have seen God work in my life in my complete honesty:

I shared last week – very transparently – my unbelief. It happens and it’s bad. But He works in that. I presented how I really felt to Him about not believing I would ever be brought into marriage and guess what? He already knew.

Lesson Learned: He already had that taken care of.

When I was going through divorce and in counseling, I was urged to pray for my soon to be ex husband. And so I did. Guess what I prayed for? Lightning to strike him. For him to get sick. For him to suffer. That’s what was in my heart. Then, after praying completely honestly about all of that, God started changing my heart – softening it towards my ex husband. I presented how I really felt to Him and guess what? He already knew.

Lesson Learned: He already had that taken care of.

There was a time in my life that I felt SO alone and abandoned and just down and out. I prayed to God and told Him how angry I was. How hurt I was. How I felt like He was leaving me out there to suffer to learn some kind of lesson. I told Him exactly how I felt about His “plan” all the while acknowledging I knew He had one even if I didn’t like it. I presented how I really felt to Him and guess what? He already knew.

Lesson Learned:  He already had that taken care of.

The way I see it is this – drum roll – He already has that care of. Whatever THAT is. He has got it. It’s a shame we have to be smacked upside the head so many times to be reminded of that but it’s true! And I further see it as it relates to honesty, like this – if we hide how we really feel from Him, we are pretending, we are having a superficial relationship with our creator and the master of the universe. To be honest about how we feel, presenting that in prayer, we are acknowledging what He already knows and what He already has taken care of FOR US.

I urge you to be honest in your struggles. In your joys. In your sorrow and in your laughter. Our God is mighty and sovereign…..and personal and intimate. He knows what NO ONE else does, which sets us up for the MOST intimate relationship possible.

Honest or not, He knows. And He has that taken care of. For His Glory.

Rest, Does It Equal Lazy?/ One Minute Devo by Julie

Today as I prayed the word “rest” came out as in “Father let me rest in You this day.” Some folks think when I say “rest in Jesus and let Him do the work” that I mean sit down and be lazy. Of course I would never suggest such a thing. Rest in this context means as you go about your daily routine let Jesus be the guide for everything you do, say and think. When He is in control there is rest in everything we encounter. Rest is peace in Jesus, to trust Him to lead you in a way that glorifies God.

As you begin your day take time to surrender your lfe to Him so you can live in Him. This precious rest only comes as we make an intentional decision to let Jesus live in and through us. So go ahead and seize the day but rest while you do it.

A special note to moms who have begun summer vacation with your kids: Enjoy every minute. Look for those teachable moments and make good memories. Some of my favorite childhood memories were made during my summer vacations from school.

Resting in Him,

Julie 

I’m Waiting To Hear From God/ One minute devo from Julie

You are answering my prayer I know You are . Thank You for Your warm love while I wait. I KNOW You care about every bit of my life. Yet I wonder how, because I make such messes. I know You are moving in the situation but I do not understand how just yet. All I know is I trust You to bring about the best for me. I pray I will KNOW the difference between You paving the way to my heart’s desire and the enemy enticing me to walk down the wrong path.  I wait with anticipation while certain doors close and others seem to be opening. I don’t have to tell You my patience is short and I want to know all the answers NOW. I’m thankful You understand my heart, You love me, You rejoice over me with singing and You take delight in me ( Zeph. 3:17) How can that be Father when so many times I step off the road into the ditch making a complete mess of things. But You know every move I will make, You know how many hairs I have on my head and Your thoughts of me are more than the grains of sand. Psalm 139:17-18 I cannot comprehend this love but I believe it is true.

So I am Praying. Watching. Listening. Trusting. Eagerly waiting on Your next move.

In Your Precious Son Jesus’ name…

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2 Minute Devo:Me and Depression

The day I threw one of my husband’s prized golf clubs across the living room I knew there was a real problem. Common sense told me that was a bad idea. However my hand reached over, pulled it out of the golf bag and threw it! Not at him per say but in his direction. I don’t even remember why I did it now. What I do know is he and I both knew something wasn’t right. The next day I made an appointment with my gynecologist. I sat in the chair opposite him and described what was going on. “My family thinks I hate them and I’m not so sure they don’t hate me.” The tears flowed as I listened to the doctor describe PMS syndrome that could cause depression. “Sounds just like me.”  I said.

That was the beginning of my journey through depression. It was a pit I could not climb out of by myself. The doctor gave me Prozac which helped for a while but eventually my body grew immune to it and I had to switch. I’ve tried so many antidepressants I can’t remember them all. Some helped while others didn’t.

Why am I even telling you this? Because many women struggle with depression and probably don’t know it. Maybe they do know it but aren’t sure what to do about it. I want to give some hope here. I am on a mild antidepressant now and it keeps me stabilized to the point that I can enjoy life. But there is another Source, the main Source for my recovery and that’s Jesus. I understand that depression is not a state He wishes me to live in. He came to give life and give it more abundantly. John 10:10. And I’m taking His gift that keeps on giving… every day.

Bad days still come. I do have times of depression but they are much shorter than they were at the beginning. When I realize what’s happening I pray “Father lift me up out of this pit. Give me Your joy and peace and live through me today. You are the lifter of my head and I’m asking you to lift me up now cause I cannot do it myself.” It’s not the same prayer every time but similar. I’m so thankful that I can be honest with Him about how I feel. He is so faithful to me. Praising my God today.

Love,

Julie

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