Thought for the day!

God is good ALL the time! Be reminded of this simple truth!

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The Reality of Grief (excerpt)

Do you remember the last time you endured grief? Grief is a strong emotion and it is experienced at different levels and for different reasons. Most recently for me, I struggled with grief during my husband’s military deployment in 2010. The day he left is etched more in my emotional memory bank than the day he returned because I was grieving the unknown, along with his inevitable absence. I sobbed like a child as my Captain boarded that charter bus and turned for one last wave goodbye. Up to that point, I had maintained my composure in front of our children, but the grief became too much to bear and I broke down. Physically my body ached, my throat was tight, and tears flowed as my sinus cavities seemed to lose all control, leaking from every place imaginable. Memories of that day and my struggle with grief are still painful and fresh.

Jesus encounters grief while in the Garden of Gethsemane. As He prays, He cries out to God using the word, “Abba.” In our culture, this would be equivalent to the word, “Daddy.” In Mark 14:36, three things stand out in the text as Jesus personally encounters grief as never before. First, Jesus regards His Father in a tender and trusting way…as a child. His term of endearment paints a beautiful picture of His view of the mighty Creator of the universe. Secondly, Jesus demonstrates tremendous faith as He talks to God while in the Garden. He believes with every bit of strength within Him that His Father is all powerful and able to do anything. Lastly, Jesus displays complete trust and submission to God’s will, in spite of His circumstances-an impending and brutal death on a cross.

I invite you to read this devotion in its entirety on the Articles/Devotions page of my website.

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Spiritual Gardening

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:9)

Sometimes, all we can do is plant seeds of hope, and love on those who are hurting…

The young mother sat across from me at the table as I took notes to document her situation. Recently, she had walked away from her home and abusive husband of 15 years without much else, other than her 14 year old son. Her husband threatened to kill her if she left him. Carol had been brutally attacked  for the last time. Some friends helped her to secure a place to live with her son and a family member helped to hire an attorney as she pursued a divorce. Carol was proud that she had finally taken this step but at the same time, she was living in constant fear…unable to eat much and finding it very difficult to sleep at night. Even though Carol was working part-time to support herself and her son, she was struggling financially to pay bills and she was seeking assistance.

As I listened to this young lady’s story, my heart ached. I could not even begin to relate to her sufferings or range of emotions, but I knew Someone who could. I prayed silently to myself as she spoke, seeking the Holy Spirit’s guidance. Carol shared with me that her faith in God had been lost because she did not understand why He could allow such a bad thing to happen.  Her feelings of mistrust were completely understandable. I told her about God’s perfect love and that He has a plan and purpose for her life. I shared with her God’s promise to be our Protector, Provider and Sustainer if we call out to Him in faith. I shared my personal testimony of how a drunk driver impacted my life and how God helped me through that very dark time, giving me hope…in spite of my circumstances. I wanted Carol to have this hope.

Sin is a very real part of our world and we are going to be affected by it. God realizes this “sin predicament” and that is why He sent Jesus to die on the cross, because He hates sin even more than we do.  We must trust Him and what He says. I am so thankful that whatever our circumstances, God is bigger! There is nothing that takes Him by surprise. I have experienced pain in my life that only God can understand. I can sympathize with others and demonstrate compassion because of those experiences, but only God can touch people in a way they will never forget. For this appointed time, on this particular day, I was simply a messenger of hope to a young lady who needs a Savior. I shared with her that God will never leave us nor forsake us.  As Carol left, I handed her a Bible. I encouraged her to read about this Man named Jesus for herself.  I know, without a doubt, that spiritual seeds were planted that day.

My heart has been burdened for Carol since our first conversation and I have been praying several times a day for her and her son. She wants to meet with me again to talk about her feelings. Domestic abuse is such a distortion of God’s plan for marriage and it leaves a path of destruction in its wake. Victims need to hear about the peace that surpasses all human understanding along with the hope that only God can give. I praise HIM, that HE IS ABLE! I pray that He will help me plant seeds every day!

**The name used in this blog has been changed to protect the privacy of the woman involved.

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Considering Horton

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord…” (Jeremiah 29:11)

One of my favorite cartoon films is Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears a Who because it has some wonderful simple truths within the storyline. I just love the quote which is repeated several times throughout the film, “A person is a person, no matter how small.”

In today’s culture, we are bombarded with the idea of who is valued and who is not. Those who are famous or have a lot of money or power seem to be held in the highest esteem, along with those who have a flawless physique.

Scripture provides a sharp contrast, however, as Jesus talks about the “least of those” among us (Matthew 25:40). I think about the elderly, the disabled community, the less fortunate, etc. Our society does not elevate them and sometimes even gives the impression that these individuals are a burden, unable to make meaningful contributions, and having no significant value.

On the contrary, there have been many personal stories which have inspired me and motivated me to action.  Some include: Joni Eareckson Tada and her inspirational story of using her disability to touch lives; the double-amputee “Blade Runner” Oscar Pistorius, who competed against able-bodied athletes from around the world in the London Summer Olympics.  Another inspirational story which I love to hear over and over is about TEAM HOYT-a father and son team, Dick and Rick Hoyt. The son, Rick, almost died at birth and was left with severe disabilities. Doctors advised his parents to put him away in a hospital so they could go on with their lives. Fortunately, Rick’s parents did not overlook the value of his life. The Hoyts included Rick in all family activities and soon realized he was able to understand things. Combining advances in technology with sheer determination, Rick learned how to communicate. He went on to graduate from high school and even college. In spite of his significant physical limitations, Rick expressed a desire to help others and this desire led to what is regarded today as TEAM HOYT. This father and son duo has participated in races around the country for various causes as Dick pulls or pushes Rick, so that they may experience these challenges together. These stories inspire me!

It can be a challenge to break away from the mindset which is prevalent in our culture today when it comes to the value of human life. If we focus only on individuals who are presumed to hold high value from the world’s standards, we will miss out on so much. The Bible teaches that we ALL have been put here for a purpose and that each of us has gifts and talents. God has a plan for our lives (Jeremiah 29:11).

So, “a person is a person, no matter how small”! In other words, everybody is special in God’s eyes! If we cling to this simple truth, we can be a blessing to EVERYONE around us by demonstrating love, kindness and compassion. There are so many people out there who are dying to be noticed and appreciated. Who has God put in your life today?

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Loving the Dying

“After he had said this, he went on to tell them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.”” (John 11:11, NIV)

Our eyes met as we both exited the worship center. He is such a dear older gentleman whom I have grown very fond of the past few years. A tender smile always radiates from his face and he has an eagerness to plant a gentle kiss on my cheek, which I warmly reciprocate. Today, however, things were different. Recently, he was diagnosed with a life threatening prognosis and treatment is not promising. There were no words, but the familiar embrace and kiss on the cheek communicated all of my love for him. Struggling to maintain his composure, he began to weep quietly. A few seconds passed. Stepping back to walk away, his eyes gave evidence of the sadness and fear within. Placing my hand on his arm, I assured him, “I am praying for you…I love you.” This precious soul is struggling. He needs compassion and encouragement from those around him.

Recently, I submitted a contribution for an article on the topic of ministering to those who have lost a loved one or experienced devastating news. This people group is not really a minority at all. Life is a  process because each day marches us closer to our last day here. Odd thought, but true. Everyone is on a “journey” in life. This journey has a very designated beginning- our birth, but an indefinite end.

Why then are we uncomfortable around someone who has been diagnosed with cancer or another incurable disease? Why is it difficult to physically embrace such delicate souls? Is it right to ignore them and just proceed on with our own rat race?  For some reason the adage, “ignorance is bliss”, comes to mind. However, our inability to approach people who are “dying” demonstrates a lack of self confidence and assurance, along with a true misunderstanding of this “journey” we are all on.

A more accurate perspective is we are ALL dying. The Bible compares the death of believers merely to “sleep” (John 11:11), thereby encouraging us to see it through a different lens; one of courage and peace, instead of fear.

Don’t know what to say? Awkward silence is really not that awkward when love is communicated through actions. Sometimes that is all it takes when it comes to loving the dying. We live in a fallen world and death is a part of life. We are all on this “journey” together, we just have different paths that we will follow.

Keep things in perspective!  Step out of your comfort zone and spend time with someone who may be experiencing loneliness and fear due to a dreaded prognosis today.

 

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The Marital Status Box

As I went to have a routine doctor’s appointment today, I was handed the typical clipboard with those papers which always need to be filled out, signed, confirmed, etc.

As I was checking those little boxes, I came to the section on marital status with the following options: single, divorced, married. I fall into that last category but I thought to myself, “I’m not SIMPLY married! I’m HAPPILY married!”

Well, that was not one of the options to check, so you know what I did? I wrote it in myself! Happily Married! That is what I feel in my heart after 20 years, so that is what I am going to say!

Who knows what kind of an impact that attitude can have on others? It may just be the start of an incredible conversation where I can tell someone WHO gives me that happiness and perfect joy and WHO blessed me with my marriage anyway!

Have you thought “outside of the box” today? I challenge you to do so!

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It’s All About Perspective

Lately I have submitted a lot of queries for a variety of writing assignments which my publicist has given me: new year resolutions in regards to faith, how to maintain a mental health, how to deal with stresses, etc. Everything seems to depend on one’s perspective when you look at any of these topics.

In layman’s terms, perspective just deals with how we look at things. Those who say the glass is half full are considered positive thinkers, whereas those who say the glass is half empty are considered pessimists. Why don’t we just look at a glass whether it is half full or a quarter full and recognize its intrinsic value? “Thank you, Lord, for providing me with water to quench my thirst!”

Imagine the exhaustion you feel following a strenuous task or exercise…dry mouth…heart pounding, etc. If you were given two options, no water or some water, what would you choose? I’m pretty sure you would choose some water.

My point is, perspective is critical. God sees things from an entirely different timeline than we do and He also recognizes value in things that seem to have no value. I write and speak a lot on the topic of adversity and adversity is something that we hesitate to embrace. Yet if we focus on the strength and courage we can glean instead of the discomfort adversity causes, we have changed our perspective. I challenge you today, whatever you are facing, try to look at it from God’s standpoint. Perspective can make all the difference.

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A Seasonal Suggestion

Have you ever thought about paying the tab for the next person behind you in a drive thru?
Try it and just tell the person at the window to tell them…
“Your debt has been paid! Merry Christmas!”
The spiritual implication is more than appropriate this time of year and it just may make someone really think about things!  After all, that is why Jesus came to earth-to pay our debt in full, because we are ALL sinners in need of a Savior!
Come up with some other creative ways to communicate that simple biblical truth today!
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Happy Thanksgiving!

I just wanted to take a moment to wish each of you a blessed Thanksgiving! May you focus on the things which really matter during this holiday season!

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Focus on Joy

Please take a minute to read the latest article about my ministry!

Focus on Joy (Anderson Independent, 11/20/2011)

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