Remembering the Purpose of Trials

“Search me [thoroughly], O God, and know my heart;
Test me and know my anxious thoughts, And see if there is any wicked or hurtful way in me,
And lead me in the everlasting way.”

Psalm 139:23-24 (AMP)

Whenever I read or think of this verse, I immediately start singing the old hymn that’s based on these verses.  Singing God’s word back to Him is wonderful way to communicate with and worship Him.

This morning it gave me pause to stop and consider the meaning, and the application of what these verses are saying.  If we give these words back to God as a prayer, we know that is a prayer He will answer because He can’t deny His own word.

So how do we react when trials hit?  James 1:2-4 tells us how we should react and the result:

 “Consider it nothing but joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you fall into various trials.  Be assured that the testing of your faith [through experience] produces endurance [leading to spiritual maturity, and inner peace].  And let endurance have its perfect result and do a thorough work, so that you may be perfect and completely developed [in your faith], lacking in nothing.”

Friends, oh how easily we seem to forget that this life here is not all there is.  We are on a journey here that is preparing us all along the way, for eternity in Heaven.  Every trial.  Every test.  Every hardship and grief along the way.  They are all shaping and molding us to be more like Christ.  We are His image bearers, and we are to be bringing others to Him.  But it seems instead of counting it all joy, our tendencies are to complain and plead for God to remove the trial.  We’re uncomfortable.  We’re inconvenienced.  So we are looking for a way of escape and we try to pray the trial away, rather than asking God to grow us and shape us, and that through the trial He would be glorified and His name lifted up.

Daily God is still searching our hearts, testing us and trying us.  He’s desiring to weed out any pride, greed, selfishness, resentment, etc. that likes to hide out in the corners of our hearts.  Every difficulty we have to go through – big or small – He allows it for a purpose.  Like my sweet mama used to say;

Trials are to make us better, not bitter.

What would happen if the next time we get hit with a minor inconvenience or a major trial, we first asked our Father what He’s trying to weed out of our heart, and we surrender it to Him to do as He sees fit?  I think we’d be having some major transformation going on in each of us!

Honestly, I tend to learn things the hard way.  It seems I have to go through all kinds of grief and anxiety before I finally “get it”.  I’m getting weary of this process in myself.  I want a heart that when the trials come just turns to Him first.  I want to remember the purpose of trials and testing, and realize He may be searching my heart to weed some things out and replace them with what glorifies Him.  I want to be more moldable.  I want these trials and difficulties I’m living right now to produce in me endurance, a stronger faith, a sweeter spirit, a heart quicker to confess and repent.  I want to truly count it all joy because I know He’s still working on me and hasn’t given up on me.  I long to hear “Well done good and faithful servant”, and to remember it’s not all in vain because He never wastes a hurt.

If you’re in a trial right now, if this is your struggle too, please pray with me…

Forgive me Father for acting so surprized and anxious at these trials like some strange thing is happening to me (1Peter 4:12-13).  They have come upon me for my testing.  Keep searching my heart Lord.  Thank you for not giving up on me.  I want to “pass the test” Father, that I may grow and glorify You.  Amen

“But He knows the way that I take; When He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold.”       Job 23:10

Enjoy the song…





Loving Well

When I write posts on Facebook or on this blog, I’ve noticed that when talking about spouses, children, or others, I keep using the phrase “Love them well”.  As I was thinking about what that even means, I thought about my mom.  Then I thought about Pastor Michael’s sermon today on the Proverbs 31 Woman.  I believe that we must know God’s love for us to truly know how to love others well.  I believe that as we grow closer to God, we become more capable of loving others well…more like God intends for us to.

I realized something yesterday that made me quite sad.  Those who know me know that my mom passed away from pancreatic cancer at only sixty-three years old…almost eighteen years ago.  I’ve talked a lot, and written about what a godly woman she was.  A prayer warrior.  Someone who didn’t have an enemy, and how all who knew her loved her.  She was the one who always made me see the lighter side of things and made me laugh when I was taking life too seriously.  She definitely loved well.  She always loved me well…even when I was unloving.

Though she always took my sister and I to church, and I made a profession of faith and was baptized at eight years of age, I became a bit of a rebellious teenager.  Oh I appreciated the sacrifices she made for me, and we got along fine, but I wanted to live my own life without her disapproval and “nagging”.  I moved out after high school graduation and married my high school sweetheart a few months later.  After a year of marriage I suffered a devastating miscarriage.  Two years later was the birth of our first son (and in two more years our second son).  Everything changed (for me).  I saw my mother with new eyes…and a new heart.  I began to truly appreciate all the sacrifices she made for my sister and I.  Suddenly I understood why she did the things she did.  God allowed me to “see” her heart and I was devastated at how I had hurt her…though she never complained, and never (ever!) seemed angry at me.  The closer I grew to the Lord, the more I was able to honor her and love her well.

I say all that for this revelation: Though Mom had always loved me well, from the time I truly started to love her well, to the time she passed away…was only about fifteen years.  My heart breaks at all the years wasted.

 But there is God…who is full of grace and mercy.

When I look back, it seems like we packed a lifetime into those fifteen years.  God does that.  When we do life His way, when we honor Him by putting others ahead of ourselves and stop living selfishly, just as He did for the Israelites He will restore for us what the locusts have eaten.  Without going into a whole lesson on Joel 2: 25-27, I’ll share this.  I found it so encouraging.

The damage to their crops from one invasion of locusts had a multi-year impact.  The previous year’s seed was destroyed as well as the harvest and the next year’s seed.  All gone.  It would take years to redevelop.  The restoring (from God) of what the locusts had eaten would be in abundance!  Because of rebellion and selfishness lost years can damage relationships and cause pain, guilt and regret, and more.  Friend, when we follow Him, he can take away the guilt and shame and restore (bring back, repair, renovate) all that was lost.  I truly believe that is what He so graciously and mercifully did for me with my mom.  That’s why it seems we lived a lifetime in those fifteen years.  They were undeniably years of abundance which I will be forever grateful for.

Back to that Proverbs 31 woman.  Mom, I believe truly lived that example out in front of us daily.  Without being preachy, Mom had a way of pouring life into those around her.  She at times dealt with things most people had no idea of, yet she remained faithful to God, and to her family.  Even when she was going through trials she would still encourage those around her.  She could be exhausted, yet she would still help and do for others.  Whether at her job or at home, she worked hard and shared what she had with her family and anyone who was in need.  She absolutely was clothed in strength and dignity, and full of grace.  I learned how to pray by watching and listening to her.  At times, she would pray for hours.  When she suffered from insomnia, no matter how tired she was, she always said it wasn’t time wasted because she would pray and pray some more!

The Proverbs 31 woman was full of devotion…to God first and foremost.  As Pastor Michael said today, when a woman walks in fear and reverence to God, all these virtues will pour out of her!  They did pour out of my mom. Yes, I still miss her terribly.  But I will always be thankful that God allowed HER to be my mom.  I will always be thankful for her example, her love and encouragement, her selfless, giving heart, her prayers for me and my family.  And though some lessons have taken me years to learn, I am grateful for her teaching me by her example how to live and to love well.

Thank you Mom.



Take Time To Be Holy


“But just as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.”  1 Peter 1:15-16

That is what quiet moments in His Presence are accomplishing within you and me.  As we sit with Him reading His word, talking with Him in prayer, quietly listening for Him to speak in that still, small voice that guides and directs us, we are being transformed into who He designed us to be.  We are being transformed into His image.

We can experience emotional healing.  We gain a new perspective.  We gain wisdom.  We experience joy that we didn’t have before spending time with Him.  We are able to walk into our day, our situation, with a peace beyond understanding.  Most importantly we get to know the heart of our Father and how greatly He loves us.

This nearness to Him is what strengthens our faith and fills us with peace.  We glean answers or direction for our problems.  He showers us with blessings…we only need eyes willing to look for them.

Making time like this with our Heavenly Father is truly the only way we continue to be transformed from the inside out.  Others will see Jesus in us and know we are a member of His family.  Hopefully, if they don’t know Jesus they will ask us about Him because they see a difference in us.  Oh what joy to live abiding in Jesus and to influence others to know Him as well!

“Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us.”  Eph. 3:20

Do you want to experience all that?  The choice really is yours and mine.  We have to make time, make room for Him in our lives.  There are no shortcuts.  No quick drive thru lanes.  He just wants a little of the time He allows us to live and breathe each day to be set apart, alone with Him.  Scripture says He’s a jealous God (Ex. 20:5), yet He behaves like a gentleman and waits to be invited in.  He won’t compete for our time and attention.  We have to choose to jump off the treadmill of life, put down the cellphone, turn off the T.V. and give Him our undivided attention.  He deserves nothing less, because He gave us life and He sustains our life.  In choosing to spend time with Him, we are blessed with far more than we ever could sacrifice.

Christmas is the time of year, maybe more than any other time, when our focus is – or should be – on the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ.  When Jesus was about to be born, there was no room for Mary and Joseph in the inn.  The town of Bethlehem was bustling and bursting at the seams with people who had traveled there to register for the census.  Not unlike today people were so busy, wrapped up in their own agendas that no one even noticed anything different happening.  They missed the miracle.  They missed the birth of the Savior of the world.  The greatest Gift ever given.  Don’t miss what He intends for you.

There is a space within each of us.  A space that nothing else can fill.  A space of longing and desire that nothing or no one but God can fill.  When we invite Him into our life, that secret place in us becomes a place for Him to reside and grow in us and grow us.  We can live our lives surrendered, so intertwined with His that His glorious Light will shine in and through us.  We can then be constantly transformed from the inside out and be living, breathing examples of Christ followers.  Those who are near us will know we belong to Jesus.

Can you make room for Him today?  Will you stop and make time for Him?  Let your surrendered heart and life be your gift to Him to thank Him for being the greatest Gift ever given.  The greatest Gift you’ve ever received.


“Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!”  2 Corinthians 9:15

That line – take time to be holy – is still resonating with me.  Let’s pray…

Thank you Father, for loving us so overwhelmingly much that you sent us Your only Son, the only One who could ever be the payment for our sin.  You sending Jesus, and His willingness to come…the greatest Gift that mankind could ever hope for…is ours.  We only have to accept it…accept Him as our own, and we can be made clean, holy and set apart for Your use.  Help us Father.  Help me, to take time…time set apart to pray, to seek Your face, to read and study Your word.  Then go out and love others as Your word tells us to.  Thank you Father for sending Jesus.  Help us to take time…to make room for You and take time to be holy.  Amen.


Merry Christmas.




Tomorrow is Thanksgiving,  It’s the day that is set aside for time with family, entirely too much food, football games, and for expressing what we are thankful for.  That’s nice.  It’s tradition.  But taking time to think about, and express what we are thankful for one day a year is not what pleases our Heavenly Father.  What brings joy to His heart is our attitude of thankfulness every day of the year.  It’s an attitude of the heart, and a lifestyle.

  • A thankful heart enables us to grow intimately close with our Savior.
  • A thankful heart rejoices.
  • A thankful heart prays continually.
  • A thankful heart gives thanks in all things, knowing that if God has allowed it, it is His will for us (to teach us, refine us, to shape us into His image.           See 1 Thess. 5:16-18)

I’ve said before that being thankful is not denying the reality of life’s hard trials and tribulations.  But in them we choose to humble ourselves before Almighty God and seek His wisdom, His strength, and His grace to endure through it in a way that brings Him glory.  We rejoice in Him, our Savior who is with us right in the midst of the messiness.

God is our refuge an strength (mighty and impenetrable to temptation), a very present and well proved help in trouble.  Psalm 46:1 AMP

Whatever you do [no matter what it is] in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus [and in dependence on Him], giving thanks to God the Father through Him.  Colossians 3:17 AMP

Being thankful is choosing to not grumble and complain about everything that irritates or annoys us.  When we do – as we all do at some point – we must humble ourselves and ask for forgiveness from God first, then maybe from a family member or friend who we’ve been complaining to.

The point is not that we never complain.  As long as we are in these human bodies we will always have a war between the flesh and the spirit.  The point is that we not allow the negative to have reign over our thoughts and attitudes of our hearts.

Lest you think I sit here piously typing away like I’ve got this all down, let me tell you a little bit about my day:  I took a break from writing this to take a shower, do some laundry, and get some lunch.  I was confronted with a situation that was not my responsibility to take care of, but since it had not been addressed it created another problem.  So if I needed it fixed, I was the one who had to be inconvenienced by spending close to an hour trying to deal with it.  Time I really did not have to spend today.  I then received a phone call that only further added to my irritation.  Note that.  An irritation…not a crisis.  Sad to say, had you got on my nerves right then it would not have been pretty.  I sent a not so nice text to my son (who was supposed to have corrected first problem so it did not grow into a bigger one…and he didn’t).  Then my dear sweet husband called with some news…something that I had already said “no” to.  The poor man had to listen to me go on and on about how I could NOT deal with all this AND cook Thanksgiving dinner too!!!  Thanksgiving.  Hmm….

I had to humble myself and ask my Heavenly Father to forgive me and change me.  I asked Him for wisdom to deal with what was in front of me.  He is so patient and merciful.  I apologized to my son who, bless his heart said he understood.  He took care of his end of the problem.  I had to apologize to my hunny too.  Sometimes, we just have to submit to their leadership ladies and trust the Lord to work it out.  They do have that right to make the final call sometimes.  It’s not always up to us…and our way.

When I write something, it’s not because I have it all figured out and have it all together.  It’s usually because I’m right where the Lord is putting me to the test and teaching me.  My circumstance did not immediately change.  One is getting fixed, the other I have to deal with it and mostly change my attitude about it.  But I can…and am thankful in all of it.  Thankful I started writing this today, and the Lord used it to put me to the test.  Thankful I quit throwing a hissy fit and let Him change my outlook and my attitude.  My prayer has always been that I would be a woman of grace and dignity.  Unfortunately I fall far short of that at times.  But I am thankful God always brings me back to Himself and helps me to obey and do what is right…even when I may not feel like it!

We have to always remember it is God who sustains us.  It is God who gives us strength when we have none.  It is God who saves us.  When we are thankful to Him for who He is and all He’s done, and does for us…then in our gratitude we can’t help but praise Him!  In praising Him our hearts are filled with joy.

We must praise Him daily.  We must be thankful daily.  For when we do not practice thankfulness…our joy dies.

In the absence of thankfulness…joy dies.

That does not have to be true of us.  We need to read and know God’s word, and ask for the Holy Spirit’s help to live what we know each and every day.

Constantly rejoicing in hope [because of our confidence in Christ], steadfast and patient in distress, devoted to prayer [continually seeking wisdom, guidance, and strength],         Romans 12:12 AMP

                            Enter His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise.                                                                  Psalm 100:4


I pray you each have a blessed Thanksgiving and a joyful heart filled with praise.







Birds & Valleys

This morning a male and female cardinal lingered outside my kitchen window, looking my way and singing.  It made me think of Mom, whose been with Jesus over seventeen years now.  She loved cardinals.  I never paid much attention to birds until after she passed away.  I then began to understand why they brought her such joy.

As they flew away I looked to the tree and noticed the resident woodpecker, once again furiously pecking away in search of that little meal hidden in the bark of the tree.  It seems they would jar their little brains out pecking at something so hard like that!

Now as I sit at my desk having my quiet time, I look out the window.  From the folds of material pooled at the corner of the gazebo emerges a tiny wren, out from the safety of his hiding place.

I’m grateful that God is my hiding place.  He is my safety and shelter in the storm.

“You are my hiding place and my shield; I hope in Your word.”  Psalm 119:114

We have had our share of storms recently.  This past year our family has been experiencing many storms.  Sometimes back to back.  Whether it has been physical storms or just those life storms that can leave you feeling battered and torn, they have been hard and trying times.  Sometimes gut wrenching times that can knock the wind out of your sails.  Don’t get me wrong.  There have been many blessings as well.  Times of joy and laughter that, at least for a moment, help you to forget the storms that may still be raging.  But I confess, there are times in the storms…times where you can barely lift your head to come up for air.  In those times, if you’re like me, you may ask someone to pray for you, but for the most part you don’t want to burden anyone.  After all, everyone has their own problems too.  So you smile and keep putting one foot in front of the other.

But God…

What I keep finding is this;  when we press into our Heavenly Father, when we seek His face…we will find Him.  The Bible, His word is living and powerful (Heb. 4:12).  When we sit and read scripture, it will speak right to our heart and mind…many times right to our specific need.  We find strength not of ourselves to carry on.  We glean wisdom from its pages.  And the Holy Spirit who is our Comforter is right alongside us.  It’s not just good old positive thinking.  It is so much more than that.  It’s a living, breathing relationship with Jesus Christ.  It is in that time spent with Him in his word, we come to realize that He truly is all we need in any storm…or anytime at all!

Once we land on the other side of our trials, no matter how unbearable they were, we can look back and see how we did make it through.  If we reflect, we can see God’s hand leading us and equipping us on our journey through the valley.

Friend, don’t discount the valleys in your life.  You may think;  I’ve had enough of these dark valleys!  I want to be back on the mountaintop where I can see and feel the sun shining again!  Don’t we all!  We will be.  But while in the valley we need to remember that though it may be dark, it is in the valleys where it is lush and green.  As the water runs down off the mountains, it runs through the valleys making the soil rich and fertile.  Our times in the valley are times of learning and growth.  When the time is right, you’ll be back on that mountaintop amazed at how far God has brought you.  Because you’ve been in the valley yourself, you’ll be better able to comfort others who are in their own valley experience.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to go through life furiously pecking my brains out like that woodpecker.  Always searching, striving and fighting.  I want to emerge from the safety of my hiding place like that little wren, singing a joyous song like the cardinal to face each day the Lord gives to me.

The Lord is my strength and my shield;
my heart trusts in him, and he helps me.
My heart leaps for joy,
and with my song I praise him. Psalm 28:7

God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.  Psalm 46:1

Are you going through a valley of your own right now?  Maybe a series of valleys as I feel I’ve been in?  Let me know in the comments.  I count it a privilege to pray for you.  No matter where you are at, remember to keep your gaze toward the Son and He will give you the strength you need to endure.

In His love,






How Is Your Fruit?

James 3:17 says: “But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.”

God wants to bless His people and guide us into a life of not only faithfulness, but also fruitfulness. We can’t just receive His blessings and hoard them for ourselves. He wants us to be a blessing to others.

If we are walking closely with Him, then we should bear the fruit of those seven characteristics James speaks about. In turn we are to become a channel of blessing to others, whether in our own families, our neighborhoods, workplace, or simply whomever God places in our path.

I often think about the fig tree in Matthew, chapter 21. Jesus approached it for some food, but all it had was pretty leaves and no fruit. He spoke to it and said: “No longer will there be any fruit from you.” At once the fig tree withered.

He wants each one of us to grow spiritually and bear fruit to be that channel of blessing to others. I don’t ever want to just be about bearing a bunch of leaves that may be pretty to look at but under the surface there’s nothing of value. I want to bear meaty fruit that is of value to others. I’m sure you do too. Don’t neglect your time with Him today. Be filled with His Holy Spirit, grow fruit that will be useful to others for His glory and His kingdom, and praise His holy name!


Love & Blessings,


What Do You Aspire To?

My heart is truly troubled.  This is more of an opinion than a devotion, so I am not looking for comments, and I most definitely will not engage in any debates.  But I have to share my heart, and I just pray that it may give someone some good food for thought.

Over the past several decades women have chased their dreams.  They have fought for success as they’ve struggled to raise their families and/or advance in their careers.  Women have become entrepreneurs, philanthropists, corporate leaders, doctors, law enforcement officers, attorneys and heads of state.  Women have fought to have opportunities and the respect they deserve.

It’s the women whose body goes under tremendous changes emotionally and mentally, along with difficult physical changes to carry a growing life within her.  She carries that precious life within her until it is ready to burst forth from the safety of his/her mother’s womb into the light of day.  Then the real work begins!

Women are strong, resilient, and keep on pressing forward, even when we feel we cannot take one more step.  Women teach their daughters to reach for the stars, to set the bar high then aim to grasp ahold of it.  They instill in their daughters that they can do anything they set their minds to.  Woman are to be admired, respected and loved.

All of that has been reduced to rubble almost overnight…by one word.


Suddenly smart, intelligent women are posting images and proudly wearing t-shirts displaying the word.  All this in support for their political candidate who was called a “nasty woman” by her opponent.  The fact that smart and successful women would display the word “Nasty” like some kind of badge of honor, I find deplorable…and sad.  Women, you are so much better than that.  You are worth so much more than that.  Your daughters are worth so much more than that.

The Bible has plenty to say about the worth of women.  One of the best examples is the Proverbs 31 woman.  This woman is married, but she has many qualities for all women to aspire to.

We find that she is trustworthy.  She does good by her husband and not evil – she treats him well.  She has skill and she works hard.  She gives of herself to care for her family as well as her servants.  She shows concern for them.

In the time this was written in the ancient world, there were many restrictions placed on women.  So it is remarkable to see that she herself would buy, sell, then build her own resources from the profits.  From those profits we see that she not only took care of her own, but she also remained concerned for others and gave to the poor.  Her husband held a prominent place in the city gates as an elder.  We can gather that part of his status came from his wife’s reputation, not just his own.  Then we see:

Strength and honor are her clothing.

She opens her mouth with wisdom.

She speaks with kindness.

That my friends is what we as women should aspire to.  Don’t ever lower yourself, and wear the word “Nasty”, or any other word like that as some kind of badge of honor in defense of anyone.  You are worth more than that.  You’ve worked too hard and come to far.  Mostly dear sister, you were created for a purpose.  And that purpose is a much higher calling.

“A gracious woman retains honor…”  Proverbs 11:16a

I just got a new pair of comfy pajamas. The pants are pink with little cups of cappuccinos all over them.  The top is grey with the words;dscn3562

“Make today Beautiful”

I aspire to be a woman of  Grace who seeks to make each day Beautiful.

I hope you do as well.



Monday Moments

Reposting this today because so much of it is applicable again today…to me…so I thought someone else may need it too!

Gazing Toward the Son

“From the end of the earth I will cry to You when my heart is overwhelmed; lead me to the rock that is higher than I.”                    Psalm 61:2

Beauty in Every Day

Have you ever had a Monday that just comes out swinging…before you’ve even rubbed the sleep from your eyes or had a cup of coffee?  Mercy!  This week greeted me with one of those Mondays.  It took every ounce of self-discipline I have in me, and major portions of God’s grace (which He promises is sufficient for me!), to stay calm and carry on.  Anyone who knows me well knows that the past few years I have gotten so I cannot multitask well at all.  Blame it on the Fibro…meno…age…whatever.  I simply get overwhelmed when too many things happen at once, and I can’t deal with it all.  Then all to easily, the tension and anxiety try to take over.  I’ve had…

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A Leaky Bottle of Lavender


DSCN3449I don’t know about you but I love the smell of lavender.  Every night I open my bottle of essential oil and inhale deeply.  It calms me and helps me to relax.  I occasionally rub it into my sore neck muscles and let it work its magic.  Unfortunately, my little lavender plant in our back yard has not done too well this year and I miss it.  When in bloom, I enjoy picking a few stems and then breathe in that wonderful scent.  But if you want to get the most out of those delicate, tiny blooms, squeeze them between your fingers.  It is when they are crushed that their fragrance becomes strongest….and more lovely.

When I think of a lovely fragrance or sweet aroma, it reminds me of 2 Corinthians 2:14-15 which tells us:

“But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place.  For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.”

When we have a close relationship with Christ, our lives are a fragrance that is pleasing to God first, then to the world.  We are a fragrance that attracts other people to Him (or repels them if they are rebelling against God).  The more time we spend in the presence of Christ, the more it (the fragrance) is noticeable to others.

 I know many who are feeling crushed by the storms in their lives right now.  So many have lost loved ones, are battling diseases and illnesses, or wearing the weight of all that’s going on in our world on their shoulders.  If you are feeling crushed by your circumstances right now, please press into the Savior.  He is producing in you a beautiful fragrance.  That beautiful aroma ascends to the Father, and also pours out from you so others may be drawn to Christ through you.

The past couple weeks have been a bit difficult here as well.  The pain and fatigue of Fibromyalgia have decided to park here awhile and be my constant companions.  It does get draining…and discouraging…especially when it doesn’t let up, and I’m unable to accomplish…or write…much of anything.  But I was very encouraged a few days ago….by some scripture notes, and a leaky bottle of lavender.

This particular day I needed to go out for my weekly chiropractor appointment and a couple of errands.  I was tired, generally not feeling well, and simply didn’t want to go out.  As I was trying to get ready a box was delivered.  It was an order from a company I have ordered from for years.  In this box of several items was a bottle of lavender essential oil.  As I was unpacking the box, all was well until I began to open the snuggly wrapped bottle of lavender.  As I snipped and tore the tightly secured bubble wrap away…the strong scent of lavender filled the room.  The lid had somehow come loose in the wrappings and the bottle had leaked and filled its tightly wound cocoon with the oil.

I set the bottle on the plastic and left it on the counter, thinking I’d just deal with it later.  I took care of the rest and continued to get ready to leave.  Every time I passed by…the wonderful scent would hit my nose and I would just smile and inhale deeply.  I could feel myself relax.  That’s when it occurred to me;  Just as we are the fragrance of Christ, a sweet aroma…so is His Presence with us.

I had read something a few days earlier that just spoke to my heart.  Psalm 34:7 says:

“The angel of the LORD encamps all around those who fear Him, and delivers them.” 

I have read that verse many times and it has been a comfort.  But what struck me so was the study note in my new Bible.  It reads:

“The phrase the angel of the LORD and the name of God are often interchanged.  With the sense of God surrounding or hovering over the believer in this manner, there is no need to fear — even in the most desperate times.”    (From The NKJV Study Bible, copyright 1997, 2007, 2014 by Thomas Nelson Inc. Used by permission.)

I absolutely love that thought!  No matter where I am, or how I am feeling, the very Presence of God is surrounding,  and hovering over me.  If you are a child of God, He is hovering over and surrounding you as well.  His Presence is not a feeling or something we can conjure up.  We just need to invite Him into our day, be still and notice.

So dear friend, what ever you may be going through right now, know that He is near.  He is right there with you.  Breathe in the fragrance of His Presence like the lovely scent of that leaky bottle of lavender and relax.  Rest in Him.  Let His all encompassing Presence calm your fears and anxiety.  He. Is. With. You.

Thank you for stopping by.  You are an encouragement to me.



What Are We To Do?

DSCN3453It is no secret that we are a people and nation in turmoil.  My heart is breaking along with many others.  Rather than just shaking my head at the news and walking away, today I have shed many tears in prayer.  Prayer for all of the families who have lost loved ones.  Prayer for our police force, and our nation.  Like many, we wonder; how did we fall so far?

Over the years, instead of being a society who holds differing beliefs on any given topic yet remains united…at least respectful in most,  we have become fractured.  Broken.  Far from united.  Friends, we are at the precipice.  And unless we want to fall off and be destroyed…we had better all work at becoming united once again…and quickly.  That does not mean we all think alike, nor does it mean we always agree with each other.  But we do need to learn…re-learn how to handle conflict without tearing others down and destroying one another.

How our Savior’s heart must be breaking over what we have become.  Yes, even His church.  We too, have become hateful, critical and self-righteous…no better than the Pharisees of Jesus’ day.  Oh there is plenty to be angry at.  You won’t get an argument from me there.  But it is what we do with that anger that matters.  We are not to sin in our anger, (Ephesians 4:26-32 ).

“So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.”  James 1:19-20 NKJV

Please let that sink in…as I have had to…be quick to listen. Listen to the heart behind the words.  Slow to speak…don’t just shoot off our immediate opinion.  Slow to wrath…don’t be so quick to get angry, because in our anger and wrath, it will NOT produce the desired outcome…the righteousness of God.  His Word is still true friends.  The rules and principles He set forth still need to be applied and lived out in our lives today.  But we’re far too quick to think they need to be applied to someone else rather than ourselves ( that Pharisee thing again).

We all have different opinions…and that is okay.  We are God’s unique creation, yet each with different personalities, mannerisms, thoughts, styles of learning, etc. etc.  What is not okay is to be rude and hateful when someone has an opinion different from our own.  What ever happened to “agree to disagree…respectfully”?  For one, it’s only basic human decency to do so.  For two, as Christ followers, we are called to a higher standard.  But sadly, as individuals, and as a body, we have not been doing a great job of living out that higher standard.   I have definitely not always lived out that higher standard myself.  I am learning to take my time and respond rather than react immediately.

 “But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do;  for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”  Since you call on a Father who judges each person’s work impartially, live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear.”  1 Peter 1:15 NIV

“Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.”  Philippians 2:4 NKJV

For every good thing about the World Wide Web, there are probably at least a half dozen bad things about it.  Oh how quickly half truths, blatant lies, and horrible images can be spread.  News journalists don’t even have to check facts anymore….at least it seems that way.  They spin the stories to highlight the negative or presumed intention to stir people up.  The media, though it can be good to be informed, they easily have everyone in an uproar….even inciting riots, before all the facts are even in.  Friends…

 Let’s not be part of that problem.

With social media, we are just as guilty as the news media in inciting anger and hatred.

Think about that.  Think about all of the political memes that are posted and shared.  Do they inform with useful information…or are they just plain mean?  It’s not harmless.  It is perpetuating the attitude that has gotten us to where we are as a society today.  I have some very strong opinions about our government and political candidates, but I learned….the hard way….a few years ago, that social media is NOT the place to have those discussions.  No good comes of it.  Even when we do have those discussions outside of social media, the same rules apply;

  • Let others have their opinions
  • Respectfully share your own 
  •  If necessary, kindly change the subject. 

As a Christian, we are still called to….

“Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.  And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.”  Ephesians 4:29-30

For every sarcastic political meme, for every heated opinion fired off in anger to or about someone, for every person who has justly or unjustly lost their life……they are ALL someone’s child, parent, sibling, friend.  And whether they are black, white, Hispanic or any other ethnicity, whether they wear a uniform or not………they all…..

We. All. Bleed. Red. 

Whether upstanding citizen or thug…honest businessman or crooked politician…rich or poor…each and every one was created in the image of God, and each life matters.

We should grieve, each and every time a life is tragically lost…no matter who it is.  I am not saying we have to throw our personal opinions out the window.  But I am saying we need to be kind with each other’s hearts.  As believers in Christ, we do need to speak truth when it is hard.  But remember…

“Truth without love is brutality, and love without truth is hypocrisy.”  Warren Wiersbe 

I was reflecting today on the story of the woman at the well in Samaria, John chapter 4.  “But Samaritan society had been degraded and debased by years of false religion and immorality.  Samaritans had a definite sense that they were sinners.” (Twelve Extraordinary Women by John Macarthur).  They were outcasts.  Yet Jesus went out of his way to reveal Himself as the awaited Messiah to an adulteress woman…and a sinful society.  Even more astonishing in that culture, not only was he talking to a woman who was “unclean”, but he also drank from an unclean woman’s unclean vessel!  What does that mean for you and me?

When.  When will we get out of our comfortable churches and homes and neighborhoods to show Jesus to others who desperately need Him…instead of condemning them?  Believe me, just like the Samaritans, people are usually well aware of their own unworthiness without us holding it over their heads.  Jesus did confront her sin, and she must have repented.  Because of her witness, many in that society believed in Jesus.  What we need to be doing as believers is to be following Jesus’ example and loving the unlovely.  Love the hurting.

We seem to politely avoid having these real conversations with others.  What if we opened up the discussion and started to have some real dialog with neighbors or others we don’t see eye to eye with?  What if we genuinely asked for their opinion, and respectfully really listened?  What miracles could happen?

Being real?  I’m still learning too.  I’m not entirely sure myself how to do this.  But I know that once we are personally convicted of changes God wants to make in us, and we are willing, He will be faithful to show us the next step.  I know we need to start living out the truth of God’s Word…the details…the small stuff.

Because the small stuff is really big stuff.

Show love to a neighbor.  Show love to those you think don’t deserve it…because they need it most.

“You are the light of the world.  A city that set on a hill cannot be hidden.  Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”  Matthew 5:14,16

The phrase “set on a hill” means “in a prominent place”.  Our nation needs help.  If all Christians started truly living the Gospel…we are each in a prominent place to be the light of Jesus to those who desperately need Him…for such a time as this.

Please take your time and read Romans 12:9-21.  I write it out here because I want you to see it now, and pray that God would help each of us truly live it. People are hurting, and we need to be living and giving the love of Jesus.

“Let love be without hypocrisy.  Abhor what is evil.  Cling to what is good.  Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality.  Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.  Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.  Be of the same mind toward one another.  Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble.  Do not be wise in your own opinion.  Repay no one evil for evil.  Have regard for good things in the sight of all men.  If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceable with all men.  Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.  Therefore, “If your enemy is hungry, feed him;  If he is thirsty, give him a drink;  For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.”  Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

Friends, let’s help each other.  The saying; “It begins with me” is so true.  One tiny drop of water will send ripples out far and wide.  If each of us were ourselves that tiny drop of God’s love to the hurting around us, think of the ripples to be spread far and wide!  In our words, in our actions,  let’s be the living Gospel to those around us…and on social media.  Let’s make a difference in the lives around us, because we are changed.  Let the first battle we fight…be on our knees.

Humbly grateful,