Trying to make it through life with His help.

Being in the Light

I was watching tv tonight when a commercial for the new Samsung Galaxy 7 phones came on. Have you seen this one yet? It starts off by saying, “All the best stuff happens in the dark…” then goes on to show and tell some of those things. What it’s doing is promoting how well the new phone takes photos in the darkest of situations. (Which, ok, I love my Samsung and its camera, and would absolutely LOVE to have this new one.) Anyway, back to it… Maybe I’m being too sensitive here, but no, all the best stuff does NOT happen in the dark. SIN takes place in the dark, in secret, because a lot of people are ashamed of what they do – or have done – and they keep it ‘in the dark’ in hopes that no one will know or find out.
How many of you have uttered the words of my parents, “Nothing good happens after midnight.”?  🙂 As a Christian, it seems to me that the world is getting darker and darker. Believe me, there have been PLENTY of things in my ‘former life’ that I would prefer to keep in the dark, but to do so lets the enemy win. Because if they’re in the dark, that means you’re still ashamed of them. But Jesus died for our sins and has washed us white as snow! Which, as hard as it can be at times, means we shouldn’t be ashamed of our past, or even think about it any more. Jesus doesn’t remember our sins, so we shouldn’t keep bringing them up, either. As Beth Moore says, our sins are like an old, tattered coat that needs to be thrown away. It’s the enemy’s M.O. to keep bringing up our sins. He just doesn’t understand that Jesus has taken care of all of that for us. Or, perhaps he does understand, but we’re the ones who forget it. Either way, it can be a very effective tactic for him to use against us.
Let’s all try to stop letting the enemy use our pasts against us!
And, wow, I love it when the Lord gives me confirmation about things to let me know I’m on the right track! After I finished writing my blog above, I came across this:
Christine Caine – First Things First
Today’s devotional was taken from Chris’ newest book, UNASHAMED. 
For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord (Ephesians 5:8).
The apostle Paul teaches in Ephesians 5 that bringing what’s hidden in the dark—our secrets of shame—into the light, into God’s merciful presence, is how they lose their power over us.
God’s light is tender, not harsh. As you trust Him with your pain, He will gently shine His healing light on all your wounds. He is for you, not against you—and will never shame you or humiliate you (see Romans 8:31). That kind of treatment is not in His nature. He is good, merciful and kind. He didn’t cause your pain, but He’s ready to help you through it.
Jesus paid for your guilt and bore your shame. He carried it all to the cross. But there He left it!
Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection were more than enough for you—for all of us. When He emerged from that tomb, He was no longer clothed in the sin and shame of this world. Sin and its shame were left entombed. Conquered. Vanquished. Paid for. Redeemed by His blood sacrifice. It is finished. The blood of Jesus has healed you. The blood of Jesus has set you free.
Jesus was wounded for your healing; He bore your shame so you could live free.

Being RE-Connected

reconnected

After searching for what feels like forever, I believe I have found my new church home! … or at least, my new Sunday School group, anyway. If you’ve read some of my blogs, you may know that I’ve been in a search for a new church home because I moved from Atlanta back home to the Nashville area a little over a year ago. This hasn’t been easy, but when God puts things together, they usually stick. At least for as long as He wants them to.

The journey to come to this church started almost a year ago when I decided that I really needed to go to the Priscilla Shirer simulcast. It was an urging to go that couldn’t have come from anywhere else but the Lord. Primarily, because to go, I would be going on my own to a new place, where I knew no one. (Which isn’t easy since that’s stepping outside my comfort zone.) So, I made my reservation and showed up that Saturday. When I was pulling into the parking lot, I noticed a woman getting out of her car and walking up to the building. Somehow, I just knew that she would figure into my day.

Turns out that….well, let’s be honest here, I followed her to her table and asked if I could sit beside her. She said I could, so I plopped my things down and that’s how and where I met my first new best friend after moving back home. Because there’s a bit of distance between us geographically, the last 10 months have been a relatively slow time of us getting to know each other. But we both felt that meeting each other was one of the reasons we had been led to come to the simulcast. (That and the fact that pretty much everything Priscilla said that day was directed at the two of us.) The Lord knew that we needed each other. And, as always, He was right. We just hit it off, and Janet has been quite the blessing.

The fact that the Lord has led me back to a Baptist church, instead of an Inter- or Nondenominational church is a bit of a surprise. But, I grew up in a Southern Baptist church, so, it is, I guess, like an old glove. It’s a comfortable fit. I wasn’t convinced by the services that this was where I was supposed to be. The church is searching for a permanent pastor, and, they don’t give an invitation at the end of each service like we used to do. There’s not even any mention of ‘if you have any questions, the pastor, (or a pastoral team), will be at the back to answer them’ kind of thing. That bothers me. Oh, after being there for a month or so, though, I did see it mentioned in the bulletin. I don’t know…it still bothers me. But I knew as soon as I went into the Sunday School class, that I felt comfortable. A ‘fun fact’ about my class is that the woman who teaches it is the same woman who taught me in Sunday School when I was in 5th grade! So, yeah, it was almost like coming home.

It has taken me several months, though, to start feeling like I really fit in. But, until the last few weeks, I wasn’t really able – or willing? – to go to any of the outside activities that they’d had. I had gone to a Women’s Dinner a few months ago, where I got to know a few of the ladies a bit better. But it was an organized event that was pretty loud and hard to hear too much across the table. (We all know what 200+ women in a large room sounds like, right?) 🙂 But, it was a start.

91lPd7K6VIL._SL1500_In the last week, though, I have been to two events. The first was a fun night of dinner and an enlightening game of Apples to Apples! Until last Friday night, I didn’t really realize just how much I had missed having, and being around, so many “girlfriends”. As we all sat around the large dining room table eating, it hit me just how much this new group of ladies meant to me. And how good it felt to be a part of the group. For me, it was a new beginning, a new adventure, and definitely a new learning experience. Each woman is so very special and I can’t wait to learn her story.

The other class gathering was the bible study group. This, too, is something I’ve really missed. Back in Georgia, I had a wonderful bible study group. We learned so much together. So, here was another chance to delve into the bible and learn more about it, as well as the women who came to the study.

Screen Shot 2015-02-11 at 1.39.22 PMJust by feeling like I belong, this new group of women has brought back the spark of learning that has been missing almost since leaving Georgia. It’s something I’ve missed so terribly. It’s hard to foster something like that on your own. Sure, you can read books, watch and listen to pastors on tv or online. But there is no replacement for fellowship. None. You can’t get a hug from a book or from your computer. You can learn things from either of those, but the physical interaction of talking about ideas, telling your experiences and listening to others’…. there’s just nothing like it! It’s exciting!

Do you have a church home? A Sunday School group you’re a part of? Oh, if not, I urge you to find one. It’s not always the easiest thing to find and you may have to push yourself to become a part of one. But, in the end, I think you’ll be so glad you did. There’s just nothing like a caring group of women.

 Friendship-Day-Timeline-Covers-For-Facebook-2014

Being First….?

Scarves

I’ve been crocheting scarves lately, and had decided it would be a good way to keep myself busy and make a few bucks. So, off I went, crocheting up a storm and doing relatively well in sales.

Last night, as I had a scarf to finish up, I decided to listen to a sermon from one of my favorite preachers, Robert Morris. So, I selected last Sunday’s sermon, “The Principle of First”. I thought it sounded familiar, but decided to listen to it anyway. Sure enough, as I listened, it was the same sermon I had heard before. But, figuring that the Lord had a plan, (even though I was tempted several times to skip to another sermon), I kept listening.

The sermon is about how we should always keep God first in our lives. We give Him our first and our best, as He gave His first and best to us. It is our tithe, the first 10% of everything we receive as an increase. When we don’t give Him our first, we’re stealing it from Him and it is cursed. Throughout the sermon, I kept thinking, “But I do this already. I don’t understand why I’m sitting here listening to this again.” Then, at the very end, Robert asked us to pray, “Lord, show me what You want me to do with this.”

And, I did.

And, He did.

I’ve been selling my scarves and have made some pretty good money doing it. But, and I’m ashamed to admit it, it hadn’t even occurred to me to give any of it to the Lord. Sure, my paycheck, no problem. But this is extra money, something different… I don’t know why, but it just didn’t click in my head as being ‘tithe-worthy’… So, right then, I logged on to the online banking site and sent a check to my church to cover what I had made from selling my scarves. Granted, in the scheme of things, it wasn’t that much. But what it was belonged to Him. Not me.

Please understand, I don’t tell you this to sound righteous or holier than thou or to even pat myself on the back. I simply feel – and have been directed to do so – I need to write it down. I feel that my actions, or lack there of, may help another some day when they read my blog. I am so very far from where He wants me to be, but I’m a lot closer than I had been several years ago when my life was a mess and I didn’t really even realize it. (Sad, but true.)

Are you giving your First to the Lord? It takes FAITH to give Him His first and then pay your bills. But you’ll be blessed when you do. All you have is His anyway. Why steal it by keeping it and having it cursed?

Click the link above and watch the sermon. If you’re on the fence about all this, or don’t understand it all, listen and you’ll learn. Robert puts things in terms we all can understand. And he’s funny, too!

As I told you in another post, I have a special relationship with keys. Not only do I have the set of keys in the photo I posted earlier, but I have several other keys that I have gotten since people know I like them. A couple of years ago, a friend gave me a set of keys she found. They’re big, substantial and dark. Beautiful. It was actually my first set of keys after I knew I needed to find the set of four.

IMG_6126Not long after getting that first set, I went to the LifeWay store at the Mall of Georgia and found necklaces on the sale rack that had a key attached to a black cord. Each key had a different word engraved on the front and a Bible verse on the back. I gathered all of them up, sat in the floor, got a Bible from the shelf and looked up each verse to see which one should be mine. I settled on Grace, Psalm 84:11

“For the LORD God is a sun and shield: the LORD will give grace and glory: no good thing will He withhold from them that walk uprightly.”

I’m not exactly sure why I picked this one, it just felt right. Plus, I went to Grace Fellowship Church, so it just seemed like it should be mine. After deciding on my key, I purchased it and have worn it almost every day since.

The Lord told me I needed to go back and buy one of each necklace – seven in all – and give them away. I knew He would let me know who should receive each necklace. So, later that week, I drove back to the store and bought seven necklaces, each one different from the other. I don’t remember all the words or verses, but they were beautiful words like grace, friendship, courage, love, and peace, each with a matching verse.

The first two I gave to a friend who had told me about one of her friends who was going through a really tough time. So, there went two of the necklaces. Her friend seemed thrilled to get the necklace. I just hoped that it would mean as much to her as it did to me.

The next four went to friends in England for Christmas. Which left me with one necklace. This one, I DO remember. I had this one for about four more months before I knew who it should go to. And the circumstances were such that I wished I didn’t have to give it away.

I was visiting my family for Easter. The day I was to come home, I got a phone call from a friend who told me that one of our best friend’s son had died. When I hung up the phone, I knew that she would be getting my last key. At the time, I had no idea what the word or verse was on the key, but I knew it was to be hers. I left soon after and drove back to the Atlanta area. I had been asked to bring a Bible with me when I went to see her. So, when I got to my apartment, I grabbed an extra Bible, ran out the door, and started driving to see my friend.

As I drove out the gate, I did a quick mental check to make sure I had everything I needed for her.
Bible? Check.
Necklace? Ch…
…..dang.
You know how your mind can race through entire conversations in a single millisecond? Well, I had a whole, long conversation with myself about how I could just take her the necklace next time I saw her. But the Lord had asked me to take it to her now. Today. I went back and forth with myself – and Him – several times in that split second. But, of course, He won out in the end. So I made a U-turn, drove back through the gated entrance, ran up to the third floor, grabbed the necklace and looked at it…….

I stopped.

I nearly sank to the floor as I read the word, then, the verse.

The word was Love.

The verse was John 3:16.

In case you don’t know what that verse is, this is what it says: IMG_6127

“For God so loved the world, He gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.”

I looked up and shouted, “Really?! THIS is the necklace You want me to give her?! The verse about how YOU lost Your only SON?!”

I couldn’t believe it. Never in a million years would I have picked this key for her, especially since she had just lost her only son. But, I’m not the one who can see the big picture here. He is. I can’t tell you how badly I wanted to leave the necklace in my apartment and not give it to her. But, I know He had chosen that key for her long before I bought it, and I needed to do what He was asking me to do. So, I found John 3:16, placed the key in the Bible and took it with me.

I argued with myself – and God –  the whole way, but I knew what I had to do.

I walked into the house, found my friend and gave her a huge hug. We talked for a few minutes. I opened the Bible, then I held up the key necklace and reminded her that the Bible, and all it represented, was the key to her getting through this tragedy and the necklace was a reminder of that fact. In my head I kept praying, “Don’t read the necklace. Please don’t read the necklace.” And, thankfully, to my knowledge, she didn’t. At least not while I was there. But, I think even if she had looked at it, she would have understood the meaning of it and been ok. God would have made sure of it.

A few days later, my friends and I went to the funeral service. It was beautiful. Several people spoke about her son and what they remembered most about him. One of the last people to speak, was the father of her son’s best friend. He had a lot of wonderful things to say. And, boy, could that man preach! But the last thing he spoke about was John 3:16….

I can’t tell you much about what he said after that because I was so shocked that he quoted the very same verse that was on the necklace. It was, for me, confirmation from God that I had done the right thing by giving her the necklace. Even though it was not what I would have done, it was what He wanted done.

I have to believe that the necklace was a comfort to her. I was told it had been the night I gave it to her. But I hope it continues to be a source of hope and comfort, because the death of a child isn’t something she will ever get over.

Don’t ever put off doing what He asks you to do. If you do, you could be denying someone a source of comfort they could never get from someone else. And, it could come from something as simple as a necklace. You never know what God will use to console another.

Oh, and by the way, it turned out that if I hadn’t taken the necklace with me that day, I wouldn’t have seen my friend until the funeral, several days later. So, obey Him when He asks you to do something. His timing is always perfect and best.

Personal Note: Thank you to my friend S.C. for granting permission to publicly publish this part of her personal story. I love and miss you daily. I’m so glad to know that God is keeping you safe and helping you heal. It makes my heart happy to hear that you continue to grow closer to Him, and that the key has a special place in your heart.

Being A Little Lonely

I miss my best friend.

My best friend is in Georgia. Five.Long.Hours.Away.

Laurie and I did so much together, yet we never got tired of each others company….at least I didn’t, anyway… ha ha  We even lost weight together a few years ago. That’s the kind of friend she is. Everything was so much more fun because of her. We especially loved to go shopping together. Even if we didn’t buy anything. About the only thing that wasn’t good about our friendship was that we both can be pretty impulsive. And that got us into ‘trouble’, especially when we’d go shopping! We learned, though, (finally), not to just jump into buying something without stopping, talking it over and taking a little bit of time to think it over, too.

Laurie and I worked together for 13 years. So, we saw each other almost daily! Not having her close is just hard. I thank God every day for email, Facebook and FaceTime! If it weren’t for those things, I don’t know how I would have coped with moving back home to Nashville, and being without my bestie.

91g4Xp-mNoL._SL1500_Having a best friend, someone who knows everything about you and STILL loves you, makes living life easier. Laurie and I can talk for hours on end. I mean, that’s just what best friends do, isn’t it? Being best friends for so long, you tend to have a lot of memories together, and personal, inside jokes. Which just makes being friends even better.

We’ve been through a lot in the last few years, too. We found our way back to church and the Lord together, too. Which is great, because now we give each other sound Christian advice, something that can be rare in today’s world. And, when questions are asked, and advice given, we know the advice is given with a wonderfully loving and honest heart and the best of intentions. No punches pulled.

Friends, for some, are easy to make. I have – or had, while in Atlanta – a lot of people I considered friends. But a real Best Friend is somewhat rare. I’ve had a few people in my lifetime whom I’ve thought of as a best friend. But looking back, some weren’t quite as good a friend as I thought at the time. Unfortunately, I’ve had more than a few ‘best friends’ who turned out to be little more than ‘users’. But, I was young, and a totally different person back then. Life, and dealing with all kinds of people, has taught me to realize – for the most part – when I meet a manipulative person. I don’t tolerate them well at all, and generally, they aren’t allowed to stay in my life for long at all. People like that are what makes you really appreciate the good people in your life.

People who don’t want anything from you, who want only the best for you, push you to be better than you are, want more for you than you do, believe in you and love you no matter what, THOSE are the ones who qualify to be best friends.

I thank God every day for ‘my Laurie’.

I hope you have good friends, but I pray you have a best friend. If not, keep looking. She, (or he), is out there somewhere. And, they’re worth their weight in gold.

I know mine is.

550261_10200423899418449_1514918989_n

Our first, (but certainly not our last!), Girls Weekend. Savannah, GA

Girls-Weekend

Being Thirsty

DROUGHT_Program-Cover

I realize it’s been a while since I’ve written a post. I just haven’t felt like I’ve had much to say. The Lord has been relatively quiet these last few weeks. But in His silence, there’s still plenty to learn.

I have been to three churches in my search for a new church home, so far. I have enjoyed each, but haven’t felt that ‘at home’ feeling I would love to have. When thinking about that feeling, I realized that, most likely, it’s not going to happen in one visit. I felt SO comfortable at Grace Fellowship in Georgia that it is going to be really hard to find anything that comes close to it. GFC became my family.

The three churches I have attended so far have ranged from small, to the very large. It’s a bit frustrating because I’m not sure exactly what I’m looking for, other than a place that feels like home. I told my pastor in Georgia the other day that if I could have him, TD Jakes, and Robert Morris all rolled into one I would be a happy camper! But, unfortunately, I don’t think that’s going to happen. I have a list of churches that I want to visit. I’m hoping I’ll know the church is the right one after I have been there. But that’s not a guarantee. Thankfully there are websites, and sermons online that you can listen to now. That has both helped fill the ‘gap’ until I find my new church home and narrow down the list of churches to visit.

There have been good qualities at each church. And, for me, the music is going to be a large part of my decision-making process. I love to sing. When I was a young girl, I always heard my mother singing alto, so I guess I just picked it up. While in the youth choir I sang soprano. But anytime I sang a ‘special’ in church with one of my friends, I always sang the harmony. That’s the part I love the most, because there’s so much you can do with it. And now, I try to find the unusual, and the unexpected harmony. So, I guess there are a few things I know I’m looking for. But as always, I’d like to hear it plainly from Him, but I kinda doubt that’s going to happen.

As I’ve said before, sometimes the Lord speaks to me so plainly that what He has to say is unmistakeable. Other times, like before I decided to move, and now, it’s been a bit hard to deal with the quietness of Him. Times like this make me thirsty for His Word. Thankfully, I have received little messages from others that tell me He’s still there waiting and watching, but it’s just not the same as hearing from Him directly. But, I would rather have those Words from others, than nothing at all.

The other day, I received a message from one of my friends at GFC. The message was based on I Kings 18:41 which says:
Then Elijah said to Ahab, “Go get something to eat and drink, for I hear a mighty rainstorm coming!”

The Samaritans had been in a drought for three years, then Elijah comes along and says there’s going to be a rainstorm. This can go along with our own lives. I know many times I’ve felt like I’ve been in a drought of some kind. Right now, I’m unemployed, and, (thankfully), living with my parents again until I can find a new job and a place of my own. I think that would qualify as a drought of some kind, don’t you? But it’s what you DO during the drought that will set you apart from others. And what you do during your drought will prepare you for the rainstorm and get you through the storm to the other side. 

4741583Getting this Word from my friend was a gentle push from Him to let me know that He’s still there and that He will still make good on the promises He’s made to me. I just have to keep doing what I’m doing and keep believing He’s working on the best job I’ve ever had. And, I totally believe that. I know that there is a ‘dream job’ out there for me. I just haven’t found it yet. I’ve sent out bunches of resumes, but it hasn’t been to the right place yet. I know that at this job I will make enough to pay for the things that He has in store for me, like that house with a porch that has a beautiful view. That view will inspire me to sit and write the books that I’ve been told I will write. So, I’m not just searching for any ol’ job. I want THE job that He has prepared for me.

So, I continue to do what I believe He wants me to do during this drought I’m in. As well as listening for His voice letting me know what He thinks I need to change, those things He impresses upon my heart that I need to do in order to move on in my spiritual journey. I have recently taken care of one of those things, but another isn’t as easy to do. Simple, yes. But easy? No.

drought-23Are you in a drought? I believe there are all kinds of droughts, but what is yours? Do you know? Take a little while to think about it. Pray about it! Then, become thirsty for the Lord and His Word. Listen for His voice to let you know what you need to do while in the drought and what measures you need to take to move you through it. Pray for the rain. You’ll get through it if you just listen to Him.

photo_Robert

I don’t normally do this, but this sermon was so powerful, I just felt like I needed to share it. Below the scriptures are my notes from the sermon. But I encourage you to watch it for yourself. He uses stories from his life to illustrate his points. You’ll find the link at the end of this blog.

Tonight, as I was flipping through the stations, I came upon a tv preacher I hadn’t ever seen or heard before. The pastor was Robert Morris of Gateway Church in Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas. He’s really good, and has a great sense of humor. He’s telling his version of the Feeding of the 5000 from Luke 9:10-17. 

10 And the apostles, when they were returned, told him all that they had done. And he took them, and went aside privately into a desert place belonging to the city called Bethsaida.
11 And the people, when they knew it, followed him: and he received them, and spake unto them of the kingdom of God, and healed them that had need of healing.
12 And when the day began to wear away, then came the twelve, and said unto him, Send the multitude away, that they may go into the towns and country round about, and lodge, and get victuals: for we are here in a desert place.
13 But he said unto them, Give ye them to eat. And they said, We have no more but five loaves and two fishes; except we should go and buy meat for all this people.
14 For they were about five thousand men. And he said to his disciples, Make them sit down by fifties in a company.
15 And they did so, and made them all sit down.
16 Then he took the five loaves and the two fishes, and looking up to heaven, he blessed them, and brake, and gave to the disciples to set before the multitude.
17 And they did eat, and were all filled: and there was taken up of fragments that remained to them twelve baskets.

It is important to note that the miracle didn’t happen in the Master’s hands, it happened in the hands of the disciples.

The Principles of Multiplication
1. It has to be blessed before it can multiply. It was the blessing of Jesus that gave it the potential to multiply. The only way we are blessed by God is to give the first 10% to the House of God. When we do that, the rest is blessed and the rest multiplies.
2. It has to be given away before it can multiply.

In order to multiply and be blessed, we must:
1. Get out of debt. Get your finances in order. He cannot and will not bless anything that is not in order. In this, as with everything, God will always clarify what He means.
2. Don’t manipulate. God is your source for everything.
3. Give. *Tithing* is not giving. Tithing is returning to Him what is already His. You have two choices with tithing: you either bring it to the House of God, or you steal it. {WOW. Ouch.} He will tell you what, where and how much to give. “My sheep hear My voice.” With every check we receive, we should say, “This is God’s money and every penny is His.” Then ask Him what to do with it.

I hope this will touch you as it did me…

If you would like to watch the sermon for yourself, click here. I think you’ll be glad you did.

Tag Cloud

%d bloggers like this: