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Posts Tagged ‘spiritual growth’

My grandma always reminded me to “tuck a hanky in your pocket because you never know when you’ll need it.” And yes, she literally meant a lace trimmed hanky not a tissue. (Unfortunately, I’m that old.) Either way, hanky or tissue, she was proven right many times.

If ever the importance of tucking scriptures in my heart was proven right, it was the morning of my motorcycle accident. I have participated in a scripture writing plan for about four years now.  I find a monthly plan online with a theme that appeals to me and I write out and meditate on the daily verses. Writing it out helps plant the words in my memory. I work hard to never miss a day of planting.

The scripture May 25, 2022 was John 14:1-2 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God, believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?”

That morning my heart was far from troubled. I was carefree, looking forward to a day in the sunshine on the back of our Harley with my favorite guy. That changed at the moment of impact! I thought we were going to die. There was immediate fear, pain, confusion, noise and, surprisingly, these words pushing through – “I am going there to prepare a place for you.”

Many hours later, laying in a hospital room, I thought about God’s perfect timing in planting that scripture. My brain automatically combined fear and death at the traumatic moment of impact but my God reminded me there is no fear in death.  The calm that followed allowed me to hold on, not panic and ride out the few seconds of being dragged along the guardrail by the car that hit us.

It took a while to be clear enough between pain meds to look up the scriptures for the days following the accident. When I did, I was filled again with the goodness of God and how He gives what we need when we need it without fail.

The scripture for the day following the accident was John 16:33, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

In the confusion of being ambulanced, airlifted, rushed, examined, put on the waiting list for surgery (because in a trauma hospital you wait your turn), and worrying about my spouse who was being treated at our local hospital 200 miles away, it was hard to find peace. It came when I read this reminder. Our troubled time was part of life on earth and there is little earthly peace to be had. As a child of God though, His Godly peace is available to carry us through. As much as I needed the “prepare a place” scripture on the day of the accident, how much greater I needed John 16:33 the day after!

I remember turning to God in great humility to thank Him for strengthening my faith when I needed it most. I breathed in the glory and grace of that beautiful moment and cried with relief. I could let go of the burden of doubt and worry and grief over the hard place we found ourselves experiencing. I could release the days to follow into the hands of the One in control.  It would be a long road to recovery for both of us and He would not only walk it with us, He would lead the way.

Still, I wasn’t prepared for the next day’s Word. Luke 8:48, “Then he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.”  The message translation puts it this way, Jesus said, “Daughter, you took a risk trusting me, and now you’re healed and whole. Live well, live blessed!”

I remembered calling out to Jesus when the car hit us and knowing beyond a shadow of doubt He was there with us. I did take a risk trusting him, because most accidents on motorcycles end up much more tragically. I trusted him to keep the bike upright and he did. He was assuring me with Luke 8:48 that healing would happen and I could live well and blessed. Not just live, but live well and blessed. I needed His words as I lay in that hospital bed. I need them today as I recover. There will never come a day that I don’t need them.

Like grandma’s hanky, I guarantee you will need a Word from God when you least expect it. Be prepared. Make sure you have it fresh and ready to grab. Tuck it into the pocket of your heart daily. If you miss a day or two like I did, go back and catch up. You will find meaning and purpose, assurance and encouragement. In fact, you will find everything you need to survive and thrive the troubles of this world.

Rom 8:28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[a] have been called according to his purpose.”

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A quick pre-cursor to this post: my husband and I are recovering from a serious motorcycle accident. I am not quite ready to post about it yet but we are praising God for our life. I am typing one handed and under the influence of pain meds so bear with me. This post was started before the accident and is still pertinent so here goes.

The school shooting in Texas has consumed the news and social media. A horrible tragedy initially that is re-run and re-run until our minds are consumed by it. It causes us to concentrate on the moment of evil and blocks out anything God would offer to help process through the incident.

It’s easy to see evil and turn angry eyes to God for blame. It takes great faith to see evil and turn pleading eyes to Him for healing. The first reaction leaves satan an innocent bystander. The second reaction puts satan right where he deserves to be – the guilty party – giving God an opportunity to be the compassionate, loving and powerful Being He is.

Satan may have the power to hurt and destroy. But he will never have the power to bring people together in love and mercy toward each other. Only God can do that.

Evil exists. Horrible things happen because we live in a broken, sin-filled, dysfunctional world. Society has created a disregard for human life when it cries out for things outside of God’s design, like the right to abort babies or genocide or any number of things being pushed by the world today that stir up hatred and rage. Disregard for human life leaves a troubled heart open to evil influence. And a school shooting happens. Road rage happens. Domestic violence happens.

Our best response after we recover from the shock of an evil event is to pray God into the midst of the tragedy. Let Him do His part. Our part is to love more, respect people more, reach out more. We need to become more aware of the hurting and damaged hearts around us. As hard as satan is working to hurt and destroy, we need to work that much harder to heal and build up.

Every Christian knows this world will be troubled (John 16:33). And every Christian also knows we are the solution, spreading the fragrance of Jesus in a smelly world. (Eph 5:1-2)

Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full in Hs wonderful face. And the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.

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I did something very courageous this week – I submitted a proposal to Leafwood Publishers. I’ve been working on the book for two years. Pushing that submit button was like putting my heart and soul on an airplane and sending it off into the unknown.

There is a lot to preparing a book proposal. In fact, for this one, there were more than ten sections that needed to be filled out carefully and thoughtfully before even inserting the sample chapters for review. Much of the preliminary work had do do with social media – what was my platform, how many followers, how do I publicize my work, how will I market my book if it gets published, and so on.

All of that was daunting. I’m not a tech nerd. I really just dabble in the social media stuff. In fact, I struggled just figuring out how to see how many followers I have. Once I did I realized I don’t have a crowd of followers and I almost quit. But as I prayed over whether to keep going I discovered something.

I don’t have a crowd, I have a precious circle. I shared the first chapter of the book with my circle for feedback and it was heart lifting. Here is what I discovered – the thrill of having a book published will never come close to the joy of touching the heart of one sister in Christ. To get the feedback from this small circle of women and know that the writing touched them, felt personal to them, spoke to them and helped them in a time of hurt or brokenness is the greatest compliment I could ever hope to receive.

I don’t write to get famous. I write because God puts things on my heart to share. He wants to use my gift for His glory and there is no greater privilege or purpose.

I’m glad I put my book out there for the publisher to consider. It took courage and commitment. But I’m at peace with however God wants my words circulated – be it to my small circle or a wider audience. If one woman’s heart starts healing because of what I’ve shared, it is enough.

That’s not to say it wouldn’t help for you to “like”, “share” and especially “follow” my page, ladies. If nothing else, it would boost my confidence to see those stats grow a bit.

It’s kind of like pulling a scripture and sharing it with you. God gets a “like” and a “share” and hopefully a “follow” as a result.

“Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.” John 12:26

May I continue to serve You, Lord, through the sharing of Your Word, and of the words You put on my heart. Amen

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Easter Sunday is quickly approaching. This was the week Jesus completed the work He came to do. I can’t help but reflect on the path I will walk my last week on earth.

Will I willingly choose to go into a place where I know I will suffer but where I also know I can have great impact? Jesus did. He entered Jerusalem fully knowing the crowd that welcomed Him would soon turn against Him. Hatred would soon permeate the air, and in the midst of that Jesus would perform the greatest act of love in history.

Will I take to time to stand up for what is right, for what matters? Jesus did. He entered the Temple and saw unrighteousness happening in that holy place. He took a stand that was unpopular and added more reason for the religious leaders to despise Him. He did it anyway because the honor of His Father was greater than any consequence.

Will I continue to witness and minister even when if I’m scorned and accused and questioned about my authority? Jesus did. He went back to the leaders who refused to accept Him and continued to teach them about the Messiah who was standing in their midst. He taught about love to those who hated. He warned about hypocrisy to the hypocrites. He cautioned, He predicted, He urged understanding. He used every minute He had left to make sure they understood His Father’s plan.

Will I make time for those most precious to me? Jesus did. He shared the Passover meal with His disciples and made memories they would need to carry on.

Will I make peace with my enemies? Jesus did. He gently and carefully washed the feet of His betrayer, Judas. He forgave before there was anything to forgive.

Will I accept what comes my way even if it’s unfair and cruel? Will I stay as close to my God as I possibly can? Will I speak healing words even as I face death? Jesus did. He prayed. He shared His agony with His disciples and let them see Him lay it all at His Father’s feet. He healed the soldier injured in the fight to capture Him.

Will I make sure my last words are ones that change the world? Jesus did. “Father forgive them …” Every heart in the crowd that witnessed His crucifixion witnessed His grace. The one who delivered the most brutal blows, the one who shouted angry words the loudest, the one who spit on Him – each received the same message – forgiveness.

To say the last week of Jesus was as glorious and impactful as the week of His birth is an understatement. I pray that I can set my soul on the same goal. Let me go out in a blaze of glory – doing what God has called me to do no matter how hard, unrewarding or painful. I long to hear my Master’s words:

‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ Matthew 25:23

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Funny how the minute March/April arrives the magazines on the newsstands start boasting articles titled – Organize Everything, or Spring Cleaning Is a Breeze.  There is just something about the promise of spring that makes us want to clear out the clutter of winter and breathe in the freshness of open spaces and tidy shelves.

The problem with spring cleaning is – you get into it, you are going gangbusters and then you come across something you forgot you’d kept, or something that brings up a flash from the past – and cleaning comes to a screeching halt. 

You look it over and you remember.  Might be a box of pictures and you have to sit down and thumb through them. Maybe it’s letters you kept and you find yourself reading them again. It could be a baby blanket or child’s artwork and you find yourself standing there with a tear in your eye, reliving a moment in the past.

Memory is a gift even though there are some things we’d prefer to forget – like hard times or mistakes we’ve made or times we’ve acted inappropriately and hurt someone we loved.   

I would imagine the disciples wished they could have forgotten the time they abandoned Christ in His hour of greatest need.  I guarantee that Peter would have loved to have lost forever the memory of denying his dear friend.  But if we remember only the good things – life would be shallow for us.

How could Mary Magdeline have truly embraced the miracle of complete cleansing if she had not first experienced the filth of her previous life?  How could Paul have recognized the miracle of his ministry had he not had a clear memory of his part in the persecution of those he now ached to reach for Christ?

The truth is we must never forget where we came from so that we can glory in where we are.

The story of Christ’s crucifixion, brutal and painful and horrible – that’s where we came from. 

The story of His resurrection – of rising from the ashes, of forgiveness and mercy and love – that’s where we are.

Our sin stood at the cross of Calvary, but our Savior stood in our place,

We were condemned, but He is the one who pled guilty,

We deserved punishment; He gave us a great reward. 

Soon, we will celebrate the exciting, triumphant memory of His resurrection.

 It will only have full meaning for us if we make ourselves dwell between now and then on the memory of his death. 

Open your Bibles this week and read again the tragic story of an innocent man climbing a hill called Calvary to suffer and die for those He loved.  Let yourself be sad and sorry.  Only then will you be in the right frame of mind to be jubilant and joyful on Easter Sunday.

Revelation 1:17b-18a: “Don’t be afraid! I am the First and Last. I am the living one. I died, but look–I am alive forever and ever!”

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As autumn sweeps over the valley I call home I can’t help but marvel at the beauty and wonder that in all actuality signals the death of summer and warns us that winter is just around the corner. I am a warm weather lover. I don’t shed my jacket until the air hits at least 75 degrees, 80 is better and 85 is perfect. I want to be out in it, inhaling sunshine. But as soon as that pre-winter chill hits, I’m the sit by the fire and read girl, a quilt over my legs and a hot beverage in my hand.

Still – autumn captures me. I love russet maples. I love the sight of trees that rain down gold and yellow. I love the sound of leaves crunching beneath my feet and I smile when one lands lightly on my hair or floats past close enough to brush my cheek. Logically I know they are dying. But spiritually, I sense them dancing.

They have accomplished their mission in life, to bud and unfurl and shine lush green, giving shelter to birds and squirrels and frisky house cats. They have dressed the branches in a vibrant veil of life and given the breeze something to tickle. They’ve provided shade for the summer lover, a cool spot to sit and watch bees and butterflies do their thing.

And now that their virile days are over, they don’t go out without making a statement. Oh no – nothing quiet about their golden age. They transform. They get out their catchiest outfits, they wear red, they laugh in rusty tones, they twirl and float and settle soft.
They know the secret. They know that while others might see their purpose at an end, they have much more to offer. Children will love to jump and play in them, friends will enjoy walking through them, couples will grasp hands for warmth and share special moments taking in the beauty they add to the landscape.

Winter will come, snow will cover them until the world forgets they were ever there. But they will still be doing their work, mulching the earth to provide nourishment for the new growth that comes with the spring.

Never forget that like the leaves, God has a purpose and a plan for us at every age. Our mission is to listen, follow His leading, and embrace our value in our current season. Don’t lament the fertile green we once wore when you can dress in a ball gown of autumn colors. Don’t regret the day you find you must rest at the root of the tree when you can treasure the memory of the journey that brought you there and the rich heritage you leave for the new growth that is nourished by it.

“And even when I am old and gray, O God, do not forsake me, Until I declare Your strength to this generation, Your power to all who are to come” . Psalm 71:18

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51m3BdLgQJL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_[1]Just finished reading Churchfails – 100 Blunders in Church History (& what we can learn from them), David Stabnow, General Editor. This book was provided to me through B&H Bloggers for the purpose of this review. The thoughts and opinions are purely my own. I am not a dedicated history buff and this is not my general choice of reading material. But I thoroughly enjoyed every page.

What a fun and informative book. Written in a most palliative and quick read style, and certainly anything but dry. The churchfails outlined begin as early as 35 AD and continue through to modern times outlining how seemingly intelligent and sane people twist theology and wander off in surprisingly ridiculous tangents.

Each short article gives a one or two line synopsis, a biography of the offshoot leader, defines the main theme of the churchfail, and then gives application for today.  Humor is incorporated in a way that makes us laugh not just at the wrong thinking of the leader but at ourselves and how easily we are led down the meandering path, away from solid theology if we aren’t careful.

Some of my favorites:

Marcion of Sinope who rejected all of the Old Testament and most of the New Testament, keeping only what supported his beliefs. He was the first to bring together certain Christian books and call them the writings of the church. Unfortunately, he selected only portions he agreed with and eliminated anything he didn’t like. As a result he was excommunicated, branded as a heretic and Marcionism died out.  The application for today: many modern day churches do the same – pick and choose what they want from the Bible and ignore the rest. The author points out that “no book, no miracle, and no nation should be left out of our message; the whole plan of God should be preached (Acts 20:27).”

Hippolytus of Rome who “never met a pope he didn’t agree with” and who also became the first in history to work out the exact date of Christ’s return. He met five popes in his lifetime and had issues with each which he was quick to verbalize. The application for today is the warning to avoid being known only for what you disagree with. And of course, for attempting to do what the Bible says is impossible – predict the exact day of the second coming.

Matthew Caffyn who was highly intelligent and decided if his brilliant mind couldn’t fully comprehend such things as how God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit could be one and the same then it must not be true. He disregarded the biblical teaching of centuries and came to the conclusion that he was wiser than the scholars before him. As the writer points out in the application for today, even Solomon, who was considered the wisest man on earth, had 700 wives and 300 concubines! How smart was that when with those wives came 700 mother-in-laws! In the case of Caffyn we are reminded “haughty arrogance regarding ones own abilities leads to one’s downfall.”

Throughout the book we are reminded how foolish it is to veer from scripture and assume we have a new answer or a new theology. There’s a reason the Gospel of Christ has endured – it is true and pure and life giving.

I recommend this book for anyone who wants glimpses into the history of churchfails and a few laughs along the way.

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4197o3w9xeL._SX355_BO1,204,203,200_[1]I recently read After Easter by Jeremy R. Howard and Doug Powell and this is a review of the book.

This may seem a little late since Easter is long past, but truthfully you could read this book anytime and be amazed all over again by the miracle of the cross.

A new Christian will read this book and journey from the Garden to the Cross, gaining a good understanding of how the whole redemption story came to be. A seasoned Christian will read the book and be refreshed in remembering the significance of why the Son of God had to die. Both will be humbled again by the realization that He did it for us.

I like how this book gives scriptural and scientific evidence for the events that led to the empty tomb, and even gives clear details of how the early church began and took the mission of Christ seriously.

The book can be read in a short period time but that certainly doesn’t indicate it is shallow. Quite the opposite. The depth of detail contained in its 60 pages is amazing. I would highly recommend this book for anyone wanting to boost their witnessing ability. It would make a nice gift and should certainly be in every church library.

I am a Lifeway/B&H blogger and received a free copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.

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tearsJust survived a very busy, emotional, tension packed weekend. I don’t usually breathe a sigh of relief when Monday comes. In fact, it’s often the other way around – the sigh of relief when Saturday comes. But this weekend started on Friday when my granddaughters headed off to WSU to try out for the Crimson Girls Dance Team.

First you need to know they have been dancing competitively since they were three and they are amazing. Bethany graduated last year and has one year of local college under her belt. Bailey graduates this year.

The competition for a place on the team began Friday afternoon and for the next three days there were performances and cuts, performances and cuts. My cell phone was popping with text messages as their mother kept me updated. With each successful round, the competition got tighter and the tension magnified and my prayers became more frequent and more fervent.

I didn’t pray that they would make the team. I prayed that God’s plan for them would win out. I wanted Him to be in charge of their destiny. What I did pray was that they would either both make the team or neither make the team. I knew a split would be very difficult to deal with.

On Sunday, it was down to the wire. As I kept up my busy pace of setting up for worship. leading the team through our practice, helping to prepare for the barbecue being held after the service and just touching base with my church family as they arrived, I kept the phone close and waited for that vibration signaling news.

And it came – Bethany was officially welcomed onto the team. Bailey was not. Excitement on the one side, devastation on the other. Tears of joy, tears of sadness. My heart swelling with pride for one and breaking for the other.

As I got in my car after the barbecue, still trying to understand the results, I saw my memory verse for the week on my console. Psalm 56:8-9 You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in Your bottle. You record them in Your book. This I know, God is on my side.”

I thought I understood the verse but I realized God had just taken me deeper into His word. He does know every hurt and rejection we suffer, He feels every pain, He understands every grief. He hurts when we hurt. Our struggles are precious to Him. But in the end, in spite of how much we are going to suffer from the tragedies of this life – because He is on our side, He will not allow a result that leads us into danger or is not going to work for our ultimate good. Tears and disappointment today will keep us from the tragedy around the corner.

Someday we will meet Him and in His arms will be that precious jar of tears He collected. We will be enlightened and we will see that what seemed a muddy mess of hurt and weeping was truly one more step leading us down the path that got us closer and closer to our goal.

I’ve often wondered what He will do with that bottle of our tears when we finally reach heaven. I have this vision of Him dropping the jar and as it shatters, He and I will both be soaked with splashes of incredible joy. We will know the truth of His Word, “Consider it pure joy when you meet trials of various kinds…” James 1:2

For Bailey, the light won’t dawn today or tomorrow. But my most fervent prayer is that she will grow spiritually every day until she sees the beauty of every Word written between Genesis and Revelation; that His truth will come alive for her; that she will one day look back on this disappointment and be able to smile and say, “Thank you, God, for protecting me in that moment and lovingly moving me further down the path toward you.” In the meantime, not one of her tears will be wasted. The minute they are shed, He scoops them up and stores them close to His incredible heart.

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51HG9Gv9bIL._SX385_BO1,204,203,200_[1]I belong to a book review group through B&H Bloggers and am able to acquire books to read at no charge and post reviews. When I saw the topic of the book Cherish by Vicki Courtney, I thought of my young granddaughters and was led to check it out. So glad I did.

What a wonderful down to earth and easy to read yet deep book on cultivating relationships for teen girls. Courtney addresses relationships with friends, family, self, guys and God in such a simple straightforward way. Courtney poses the question “instead of just surviving relationships, why not cherish them?”

In the opening chapter she addresses what makes up a good friend (someone who doesn’t ditch you on your worst days, keeps a secret when she should, makes right choices and helps point you to God) and then turns right around and poses the question, What about You? The reader is encouraged to take a moment and examine how they measure up to those four points. I love how she addresses Friendship Fixers – ways to strengthen yourself as a friend and so much more in this chapter from when it’s time to end a friendship, how to survive girl drama, gossip, how to balance out relationships with Christian and non-Christian friends, and my favorite – how to be a real friend in a digital world. Courtney dedicates the final part of the chapter to how to recognize when a friend needs help and when it’s critical that you talk to an adult about a friend’s issues.

Throughout each chapter she splashes scripture and quick quizzes that just really make the book personal. The scriptures are presented in such a way as to not be preachy but to bring that “wow” reaction for how there is a Word from God on every topic.

On her chapter for family relationships she starts off with a bang, addressing the trust issue. Her nine points are perfect – everything a parent would tell a teen and find it falling on deaf ears. Courtney doesn’t lecture, just lists the facts that make sense (follow the rules, associate with people of good character, admit mistakes, etc.)The 25 things that will make your parents smile are great. and the section E is for Embarrassing – yep, sometimes we embarrass our kids! Courtney balances respect for parents with sitting down and having a conversation about how the parent can avoid embarrassing you again in the same manner.

She talks about divorce and unsafe home situations, getting along with siblings and blended families and even dealing with non-Christian parents when you’ve become one.

The chapter on self is beautifully done, reminding the reader how to find God’s truth about beauty and value in a world that’s a bit twisted in these areas. She even gives a great chart on what other religions believe so a teen can understand the differences. So much more in this chapter that is pertinent and appropriate for what teens face every day right down to coping with the death of a friend or loved one.

The chapter on relationships with guys starts with a bang by listing the actual responses from boys when asked: Describe the perfect girl, What do girls do that send you running, and Why do some guys act like they like you one day and ignore you the next. (My favorite response to that last one, “I think you are overanalyzing this – we are really very simple.” Spot on – we as females tend to deeply overanalyze, they as males tend to be pretty on the surface with things.) The reader will find real answers to why it’s important to dress appropriately, what sexual purity really means, why we date and questions to ask before you date a guy. I loved that Courtney covered abuse in a relationship and lies about sex because our girls, in their need to be popular and be loved, are so vulnerable to the dangers.

Finally, in the chapter addressing the relationship with God, the author makes it clear it’s not just about streets of gold and angel wings. She lays out the plan for a personal, close relationship with the One who can truly guard and guide the young girls journey through this life.

The book is contemporary and frank, beautifully written and easy to read. I am passing on my copy to my granddaughters who are just entering their teens and praying that they will glean from this insights that will ground them in a well rounded, satisfying relationships.

I would recommend the book to any parent, grandparent, or friend of teen girls. It would make a wonderful gift. And handing it off to a young girl would be an expression of love, show that you care, you understand the challenges in the world today, and you want the best for her.

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