Monday, October 27, 2008

The End

Hello Everyone,

We have decided to close Abundant Lives as we have entered into a new chapter of our lives. Old things have passed away and God is making things new. It is a new season for our family. We no longer live in Atlanta, Georgia. We now live in sunny Arizona.

I started my own blog when we moved here about a month ago. It is called A HEART AT HOME. It has a daily scripture with prayer and devotion. There are also teachings about a woman's role in the home as well as just simple ideas for decorating, cooking, gift giving and other tidbits. www.ange-aheartathome.blogspot.com

Never minimize your place at home. It is the most powerful place you can be of influence for the next generations. Check out A Heart at Home. I would love to hear from you and would be encouraged to know you are enjoying it. It is my gift to you.

In Christ's Love,
Ange

Friday, October 10, 2008

We Met Some Neighbors


Just wanted to blog a quick update here in the Valley. I've noticed that the house we are living in has seemed so peaceful. All of the children have slept well here since the first night. Also I have even slept better here compared the home we lived in back East.

Yesterday evening Daniel,our 7 year old, accidentally threw his ball over the wall (the privacy fences here are concrete walls) into the neighbor's yard. So Daniel, Jamie, Joshua and I ventured over to the neighbor's house to ask if they could toss the ball back into our yard. Great timing! The mom and two of the children had just arrived home from the grocery store.

I introduced myself and the children to the family and found out they have 6 children ages 22 down to 10. They also home school. As we were chatting, the husband pulled up in the driveway. He is actually a lieutenant of the police department here. HA HA! No wonder I feel so safe here.

He went on to tell me they had been praying that a godly, home school family would move in next door. Well, they got their prayers answered. It was so neat. We were giving each other high fives in the driveway. They also have a son Kerry's age and a daughter Sara's age. Their youngest is only a year older than Jamie.

I will keep you posted on what is happening. Just wanted to share a quick update with you. LIVE! LAUGH! LOVE!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

On the Wall-Yelling for Truth



A few days ago I joined Face Book as I thought it would be a great way to keep in touch with the folks back East. All of you who are familiar with Face Book know we do more than read our own messages on the wall. But don't we love to read what others have written on any and everyone elses wall? I admit, I am the first to poke around.

My eyes have been opened in a new way to just how this election has stirred our young people. I am a bit disturbed by the suspicion,distrust, and even skewed opinions of the younger generation. I realize that the older generation is just as
affected. However, I reckon as mom, the thoughts and hearts of our children is a concern of mine.

First of all, my heart is grieved that so many of us are affected by the media and other's opinions more than we are on the standard of what God's word says. The youth of this generation are so distrustful of authority. Where have we messed up parents? Where have we dropped the ball America?

One thing that does give me hope is the fact that our young people are becoming bold and outspoken about the issues of our country and of this upcoming election. I am encouraged and hopeful that God will direct this more toward Him and that He is training our young people to shout out the truth of God's heart. I am on my prayer wall watching it all and praying that we all will stop arguing our opinions and start standing and yelling for truth to prevail.

We need to be concerned about the downfall of the family, the warfare in the public schools, millions of babies dying and put a stop to striving to scrutinize every flaw we think we see in our candidates. I am not trying to minimize the fact that we should seek, research, and cry out for discernment about each candidate. Yes, God has given us the ability to make a choice here. But how many of us have stopped and asked the Lord, "Who do YOU want for our leaders Lord?" In spite of the character flaws, weaknesses, and mistakes, who would YOU, Lord, like to have in office in this country?

The thing that irks me is that we all tend to make assessments on our own opinion rather that picking up the word of God and simply making the right decision based on the standard of truth. WE must let go of what is in it for "me" and think about the next generation.

If abortion continues, a future godly president may be murdered in the womb of a deceived young mother. Who knows,maybe the person God ultimatley chose to be president these next years was aborted 40 years ago. Only He knows. However, we have to wake up,get on our designated walls,hold up the truth, and STOP being blind sighted by our own opinions.

This is my vent for the day...on the wall and shouting. "LET TRUTH PREVAIL"

IT AIN'T ABOUT ME!
IT AIN'T ABOUT WHAT THEY YAK ON TV.
IT AIN'T ABOUT THEM ARTICLES YOU READ.
IT AIN'T ABOUT THEM FRIENDS THAT YOU LET LEAD.
IT AIN'T ABOUT THE WEAKNESS OF MAN.
BUT IS ABOUT OUR CALL TO TAKE A STAND.
IT IS ABOUT THE DUTY TO DIG IN GOD"S WORD
AND STAND ON THE FOUNDATION
AND FIGHT WITH THAT SWORD.
IT'S ABOUT STAYING IN GOD'S FACE
GAZING UPON MERCY AND GRACE.
AND ASKING WHAT HE THINKS
ABOUT THIS UPCOMING RACE.
IT IS ABOUT TRUTH AND HONOR
AND THE HEART OF GOD
SO BABIES CAN LIVE
AND FAMILIES CAN LEAD
AND HIS CHURCH CAN BE THE EARTH'S AUTHORITY
JUST LIKE THE KING MEANT IT TO BE.
WHEN WILL WE BECOME SICK OF ALL THE MESS
AND RAGE AT THE EVIL
STEALING THE BEST?
IT IS UP TO US
GOD HOLDS OUT HIS HAND
WE MUST TAKE HOLD
WE MUST BE BOLD
WE MUST TAKE A STAND.
COMPLACENCY DIE!
UNGODLINESS CRY!
RISE UP TO YOUR PLACE.
AND YELL OUT THE TRUTH.
WAKE UP GROWN UPS!
TURN AROUND YOUTH!
TAKE YOUR PLACES ON THE WALL.
THIS IS ALL PAST DUE.
KEEP REMEMBERING IN AIN'T ABOUT YOU.
THE SIMPLE HEART OF A MOM,
HOLDING THE HEART OF GOD,
IS ON THE WALL,
YELLING FOR TRUTH.
FOR THE FUTURE OF ALL.

Monday, October 6, 2008

A Day in the Arizona Life


It has been exactly 2 weeks and three days since our sudden move from Atlanta to Phoenix. It is mind boggling to think about just how in control God is of our lives if we give Him the reigns. It has been difficult moving a family of 10 sixteen hundred miles away and it will take some time before this place begins to feel like home.

It has been lonely in a lot of ways for us all. However, I am watching the beauty of a family draw closer in relationship. If the Lord moved us out here just for that, this is significant and I am beyond grateful. Just a couple of months ago, I sensed the Lord speaking to my heart about the weightier matters of life-the demonstration of heart felt love and mercy. So many times we go running from here to there and we drift apart in our most important ties. God is into our relationship with Him and our relationship with family.

Relationships. God's favorite pass time. He will do anything to preserve them in a life submitted to Him. This brings me to what happened yesterday. We decided last week that we were going to visit a new church. I found the church on the Internet a couple of weeks before we moved from Atlanta. To be honest, the whole family was battling the negative attitude of having to go through the whole church hunt ordeal.

However, we did not let it get the best of us and we went. The church is called the Voyage Church. It is a new plant which started up a year ago and they meet in a movie theatre.

The thing that stood out the most was what happened as we were approaching the doors of the church/theatre. One of the men saw us coming and he actually left the doorway and started walking toward us. He met us halfway. Immediately he introduced himself and started talking to the children. He memorized their names...all eight of them before we even walked in the front door. After church we ended up walking with him and his wife out to the parking lot. We had great conversation. Not the surface stuff, but real stuff about family, faith, and relationships. Then he climbed into our van and told the children ,one by one, goodbye.

Because of this one man and one woman's kindness, we will be going back next week. Also the youth pastor called the teenagers the Saturday before. The leaders also made us feel very at home and welcome. We felt special and cared for. This is what our mission is....to reach others and share the gift of hospitality whether we are in our homes, church homes, or out about in the streets. We are already feeling more at home in Arizona because of a few people. Never estimate the seemingly small gestures of kindness that we are all able to give. We tend to make it so complicated at times...but complexity it not needed. The love of Jesus is simple. We just need to let Him fill us as we adore His beauty and His beauty will simply flow from us as a cascading waterfall.

There will be more updates coming...so if you are wondering what is new with us, just keep checking back. We miss you all and know that you are in our hearts always.

Love,
Ange

P.S. As I was just sitting here editing my blog, my four year daughter just came up to me and laid her hand on my heart and started praying for me. She has been doing this a lot lately. She keeps telling me that God will protect my heart. This was her prayer.

"Dear Lord,
I pray for Mommy's heart. That you will protect it. That you will heal it. That you will help her not to be sad. And keep her from a bad spirit. Amen.

Out of the mouth of babes God has ordained praise...so HE has ordained prayer and all the gifts HE has put within them even before the foundations of the earth were created. How great is our God!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

A Must Read- The Shack

Several weeks ago my dear friend Betsy told me that I should read "The Shack",by WM. Paul Young. I knew I was getting ready to be very busy with the move. However, I went ahead and purchased the book and began reading it. I am glad I did. It is Sunday afternoon and I am sitting in my quiet chair as I have just finished the book.

This story touched my heart, challenged my mind, and revealed more about God than I could have imagined. It is ironic that one little creative work like this could be packed with so much truth and power. It is truly a message from the Lover of our souls crying for us to seek Him and learn who HE really is.

The story is about loss, grief,unforgiveness,confusion,and hopelessness. It will stir your core and show you that we all have a shack or two within our own hearts. Where is that deserted, cold and empty place in you? How did it get there? And why does there never seem to be any answers as to the inward questions of "Why?"

Did you know that within the very shack erected within you is an opportunity for you to find life and truth? But you have to go there. Someone is calling and is inviting you back to the "shack" Going there is excruciating, but a great surprise awaits you if you will only make the journey and walk through the door.

Your perspective of God will change as you will experience sides of Him you never knew existed. Your religious views will be shattered and your mindsets pulverized. He is real, relatable,tender,and affectionate. He knows the things you love and what you enjoy. His passion for you is like the breath of a thrusting wind. He does not push Himself upon you but only invites you into His arms. At the shack, you will find that the very place of pain is a refuge of fulfillment and healing. You will find yourself being carried in His arms as He knows you like no other knows you. You have heard it before, but you will truly know it after your stay in the Shack.

Go with Mack to the Shack, a simple family man who has experienced torrents of pain in his life. You will never be the same again. You will be changed as you sit and commune with the Lover of your Soul. He is calling and He is waiting. Let us go.

Deeply hidden within
nestled behind
gnarly twigs
iced vines, broken shingles
exists a bottomless floor
where uninvited sorrow
come to dwell.

It lays there only to catch death
Hope ceases, joy releases
never to return
life void of being recaptured
all is doomed, and nothing
ever to bloom again.

In the mind's eye
this is all there is
but obvious reality is not
truth's stance.

In the heart
the lies come,
distress hovers,
constantly as robbers
of life's treasures.
Then a shack forms.
In me, in you.
Time strolls
And the shack rots
But never disintegrates


Deceit never wins
in the hand
Of the Lover.
He scrutinizes
knows and redeems
He waits at the shack
where the evil one ravaged innocence
And hedged hope until it smothered.

The tattered and torn shack
where all seemed to end
Was where the Lover waited
to bind the shack within

Cascading tears water
Holding a seed
Of eternal life
In its crystal wealth
The Lover knows
what you need.
In the plot where
You only saw death
Life will meet you there
At the truest of depth.

Come to the shack
The Lover will build it again
He will fill it with joy
Beauty and life from His hand
That which was lost
You will find never was gone
And a ravaged heart
Was never alone.

(I wrote this poem as the story inspired me. You may not understand it unless you have read the book. However I pray that you will read the book and then tell your family and friends about it.
I realized that we all have heart held shacks in difficult seasons of our lives. But the shack is not the end. We must expect the Lover to be who He says He is no matter how He chooses to reveal Himself to us. He is good. He is good. He is good. As we truly learn of Him and of His tender mercies and touchable love, we learn more and more that He is good and kind. No matter what the pain you have suffered whether through death, abuse, sickness, betrayal, God is a good Father and He wants to show you that He is just that....simply good.)

Thursday, September 25, 2008

More from the Valley of the Sun
















Here are more photos. We took these this morning. When you wake up here it looks like this at 6:30 a.m. So of course everyone is getting up earlier. The pictures of the palm trees, the back yard and the dove were taken from the master bedroom picture window. This morning I was sitting in my "quiet time" chair by the window...praying for strength. The whole process has taken a toll on my body it seems. As I was praying and crying a little asking God to help me, this beautiful little dove (in photos above) landed on the wall. He just sat there very still for at least 10 minutes. I went and got all the children and showed them that it was God's message to us that He is with us and that He is helping us.

I was also reminded by the Lord this morning that we all tend to put too much pressure on ourselves...especially mothers. We need to learn to rest instead of being so restless thinking we should be doing more than we are doing.

After that moment we all went outside and just played in the sun. We spied a couple of butterflies and crickets. Then we googled to find out what crickets eat.They like to eat each other and they enjoy drinking beer and vinegar. We got a kick out of that.

Okay Moms ....stop pressing on yourself like I have been doing. The work is going no where...but the special moments with those precious little ones are as a vapor. Take every opportunity to embrace these rare moments with these priceless little gems.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Update from the Sunny Valley











Here are a few random photos from last weeks' move. The top picture is of John carrying the final box off of the truck. And he was still smiling! There are also a couple of photos of the house inside and out. The inside picture is of the dining area and kitchen. Our huge table is swallowed up in the spacious dining area...no more carpet there! We can sweep up the crumbs! Hallelujah. We will post more pictures of the house later with furniture.

The other pictures are of the outside. The children are enjoying this the most. And you see the spa. It has been great putting the little ones in there before bedtime. They are nice, limp, and go right to sleep! Smile.

Below that you see the pictures of some of the terrain on the drive over. Windmills in Texas and mountains galore from West Texas all the way to Arizona! It was a beautiful journey. Praise the Lord that the Cogburn school bus made it with no problems at all. God was faithful and His wind surely carried us here. There will be more updates. Keep checking. We miss and love you all.

Friday, September 12, 2008

The Cling Factor

I know some of you peek in here to see what is new. I have not updated in a while so just thought I would take a moment to share. This season has been one of high momentum. It is much like riding the Marta at the airport. You had better hang onto the rails or you are going to get jerked around a bit.

This is much like the season we are in. God is literally picking us up from this place and setting us down in a new place. Personally, I am so used to being in the waiting mode. Every thing before has been very slow. We have prayed and waited, cried and fretted, waited some more, rested, and cried again.

How overwhelming it is to watch God set you on the fast train and boy you better hang on or you are going to get spiritual whiplash. Just a little over a month ago we were in agony..wondering if God was ever going to "do something" We had run out of money,strength,and hope. However, the one thing we did not lack was the God given ability to look to our faithful Father. No matter where we were emotionally, we stayed in His face and remained in His embrace.God was working all along behind the scenes and now the deliverance has come.

I also have learned that God is not concerned so much with our performance in the test. Sometimes you are up and sometimes you are down. However, He is looking for one thing...."The Cling Factor" He hovers and waits and continually makes Himself available in order that we may grab hold to Him no matter the mood we find ourselves in.

In less that a month, we have found ourselves preparing to move across the country. God provided a promotion for John. He is working for Armorworks in the Phoenix area, managing 10 engineers. Imagine the challenge of building relationally with that group of people? Also he will be contributing to the protection of our country through development ideas for military wear, machinery, and vehicles.

I am so happy for him after he has worked in an environment where he was demeaned in many ways and even judged with sarcasm for being a father of 9. He endured it all quietly and patiently.

God truly is our Vindicator. We just have to wait and allow Him to be that for us when it is so tempting at times to build up our own walls of justice. When we take those matters into our own hands, we usually just end up building strongholds of bitterness for ourselves and we become bound in the snare of the evil one.

We also found a house very quickly. When John and I visited Phoenix a couple of weeks ago we must have looked at fifteen homes. The houses were lovely but there were no backyards. Just this week, John found a home with a huge, grassy back yard for the kids to run and play. The house is also one story which is something that I had prayed for.

The moving truck comes today. We will load over the weekend and hope to be out of here by Tuesday or Wednesday. The train ride continues.....and the story goes on.
God has truly taught us many things in our five years here in Atlanta. He has been preparing us, refining us and humbling us. I appreciate Him for that...and we know the process will continue...stayed tuned for more.

YOU SHALL FEAR THE LORD YOUR GOD, YOU SHALL SERVE HIM, AND TO HIM YOU SHALL HOLD FAST,AND TAKE OATHS IN HIS NAME.HE IS YOUR PRAISE AND HE IS YOUR GOD WHO HAS DONE FOR YOU THESE GREAT AND AWESOME THINGS WHICH YOUR EYES HAVE SEEN. DEUTERONOMY 10:20-21

Friday, August 29, 2008

Back to Baca

Today I was in store for a very special surprise. Not the kind where you jump up and down with excitement and elation. But the surprise of finding where your heart is and the urgent call to visit the valley of weeping once again on behalf of another.

Last year I had two miscarriages which happened about 3 months apart. It was the most painful time of my life. To me it was as if I had lost one of my living children. Eight months have gone by and not a day goes passes that I do not think of those two little angels who are thriving in Heaven. Time is healing the pain but some days the grief comes as an unexpected visitor.

However, today the Lord had something in mind that would open my heart to another's pain. Believe me, I felt the sting for another as I have never before experienced. Maybe the Lord gave me a little glimpse or "prick" in my heart of how He truly aches for us and the deeper reality that He not only understands our sorrows, but he feels them as if they were His own. He claims every pain. He weeps in the deep recesses of His heart for his beloved.

My phone rang this afternoon and I found myself talking with the sweetest young lady who had lost her baby a month ago. The little boy was 19 weeks gestation because the mother's cervix was incompetent. They named the baby Caleb and he lived for an hour and a half after he was born. My heart stung with sorrow as this precious woman poured her distress out. We agreed to meet next week and I want to give her God's love. I am so happy that I can give her something...I can give her comfort, encouragement, gifts, and most of all love. I have cried all afternoon for this precious woman. God loves us so much. We so often underestimate the depth of His feelings for us. He truly captures every tear and treasures them as priceless gems.

Thank you again Lord for sorrows. God, I cannot love in sincerity unless I have tasted the sting of death, loss and disappointment. Love means more to you than anything Lord. It is so obvious. Oh the valleys formed within our being through tremendous aches that only form a space to drink in Your love. The beauty of Your ways God...overwhelm me with awe and wonder. Incredible Lover and Hero of My soul.

BLESSED IS THE MAN WHOSE STRENGTH IS IN YOU, WHOSE HEART IS SET ON PILGRIMAGE.
AS THEY PASS THROUGH THE VALLEY OF BACA (WEEPING) THEY MAKE IT A SPRING;THE RAIN ALSO COVERS IT WITH POOLS. THEY GO FROM STRENGTH TO STRENGTH;EACH ONE APPEARS BEFORE GOD IN ZION. PSALMS 84: 5-7

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Mystical Beauty


We arrived home from our housing visit in Phoenix Sunday. I am still in a strange daze as my mind keeps wandering back to those strange mountains. Never have I experienced anything like this unique area of the United States.


As we were flying over Arizona toward the city, the thickness of the mountain terrain seemed eternal. Then suddenly we were upon a flat, dusty and widespread landscape: the city of Phoenix. It was like nothing I have ever seen. The last time I flew was 16 years ago when we lived in California for 3 months. Therefore, my face was pressed against the plane window like an excited little girl. I felt the smile and delight of God.

As we were getting ready to land in the "Valley of the Sun", I felt the Lord whisper, "This is your new land. This land is your land." Immediately I fell in love with this mystical city.

Every street traveled there holds wondrous views of mountains. These hills are nothing like the mountains in the east. They are all rocky and jagged. Every afternoon, white fluffy clouds settle over the mountains. It is as if God Himself is taking a seat on the peaks to watch over the city. I felt His presence so intensely there. I thought continually of Moses and God on the mountain of Sinai.

The land there is dirt, dirt, dirt! However there exists an unusual beauty. One cannot help but fall in love with the uniqueness of the land. The tallest trees are palm trees. There is tumbleweed and cactus. The blooms are breathtaking. Everywhere you look are flowers and blooms. The sky is of the bluest hue I have ever seen and the palm trees look majestic against the aqua sky.

The people there are of such diversity...much like here in Atlanta. The woman who checked us to to our hotel was from the Republic of Georgia. She was beautiful. She liked me!! HA HA!!! I believe people will listen to me in Phoenix when I share about Jesus! They loved my accent and I loved theirs.

The city is indeed mystical. I am looking forward to digging in and discovering the mysteries of this unusual land. I felt such a peace there. Yet the Lord showed us that there are many poor in spirit in this city. I will be writing more about this new adventure. We are truly leaping with the Lord and know there are many more exciting excursions ahead.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Valley of the Sun


You never know what tomorrow holds. However, we serve and follow an adventurous God. I never imagined five years ago that I would be living in Atlanta, Georgia. Five years later we find ourselves preparing to move 1600 miles across the United States to Phoenix,Arizona. Talk about suddenly! Three weeks ago we were wondering if God had forgotten us. Now we feel we are being swept up in a strong yet tender wind; swept away to a land we have never seen. I am excited about the adventure ahead. Oh to be carried by God while He is running! It is so fun. My energy level is better than ever. I find myself excited and laughing a lot...rolling on the floor and playing with my kids. I feel like a kid again. Something has changed and I am changing. Praise the Lord!

We will travel to Phoenix in our 15 passenger van. It will be three day trip and will drive across several states we have never set foot in. Hopefully we will stop along the way and enjoy some sights. We will pack fun snacks and games to have in the van. However, I will miss my oldest. He has a job here and has decided to stay. He has been with me just about every day for 18 years. It is time to let go of him. I have released him to God and peace fills my soul.

Here are some neat things I have learned about Phoenix.

-Half of the population of the entire state of Arizona is in Phoenix. In fifty years, the city has grown from 100,000 persons to 3 million.

-The cost of living in Phoenix is cheaper than the national average.

-More than 4 out of 10 persons who live in Phoenix say their personal quality of life has improved over the past year.

-Three out of ten people say there are too many people and one out of seven say it is too hot. People have been saying that since 1880.

-Phoenix is only 4 hours from San Diego. Many Phoenicians go to the beaches there for vacation.

-The summers are hot! Usually topping out at 120 degrees. But the humidity is low. In the winter the coolest day is usually around 68 to 70 degrees.

-Phoenix averages about 211 days of sunshine a year. An additional 85 days are only partly cloudy. That leaves only about 69 days of clouds or rain.

-Phoenix does not observe day light savings time.

-Some people leave soft, cushioned furniture outside. It stays nice and does not get moldy because there is not much humidity.

-Citrus trees are very popular. You can grow grass and beautiful flowers there. Foliage thrives there and it is like this all year around.

These are just a few tidbits I have learned about Phoenix. We will be visiting there this weekend. I will tell you more when we come back. Off we go to the "Valley of the Sun"!!!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

An Evening Thought

When you find your purpose and your passion, you will have to go through some pain. You know the phrase, "No Pain, No gain" This is so true in life. However, if you want to do God's work in serving Him and others, He will allow you to suffer. You will go through situations where you will question your own faith. You will go through circumstances where it feels like He has left you alone. You will experience gut wrenching heart ache because the people you thought you could trust and count on are judging you and ignoring you. Accusations will be poured upon you. They cannot see your heart.There will be at least one cross road in every believer's life where you will be tempted to turn away from God. I have been tempted lately..but for some reason I find myself more obsessed with my God. I love Him so....simple as that.

Sorry folks..I hate to sound cynical. But this is the honest truth. You know Jesus says that if you want to be His disciple you should count the cost, pick up your cross and follow Him. That is the only way.

But you know what? I would not trade the pain and the tests for anything. Do you know why? Because my pride is being broken...we all have it whether we want to admit it or not. And I can really and truly feel the pain of others. This is the crown of life and God is giving it to me. Not because I am so great and do everything right. But because I have hurt and felt alone and I can still love others with real depth. That can only be Him in me. The wounds of life are allowed by our Maker so that we may drink in His love. When the wounds are filled with that love, I am prepared to pour out to others. No this is not a working of my own, but a craft of the Maker of my heart.

One day I will have so much more to give others. But I will keep giving my love to the Lover of my soul. I will press on to give to others even in my lack. I will give in my pain. There is always someone hurting more than me and I will find them, whether in my house or across the street. Thank you Lord for setting me up for greater things. Thank you for moving me as You move. I feel so swaddled in your presence. I could not ask for more at this moment. The greatest blessings are mine. Thank you God for teaching me to feel deeply and for teaching me to let go of what I think I need in order that I may share with others. I am looking forward to the blessings ahead...I will have much and I will continue to love without reserve. And best of all...all the credit goes to YOU GOD!!! HALLELUJAH!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Embrace of Grace

Twenty four years ago today I was a 19 year old girl in love with a sweet 20 year old guy. Twenty four years later I am a 43 year old woman in love with the same special but now 45 year old man. Today is our twenty fourth wedding anniversary. In looking back and remembering, I do not know how we made it through some of the tough and rough spots. However, the embrace of grace has held us. The embrace of grace has sustained us, humbled us, softened us, and blessed us. I would not trade the man I married for anyone else. I love you John. Happy Anniversary! Ange

Monday, July 28, 2008

More on Weightier Matters



This past weekend was a milestone for our family. We took a few days and went to a house on Lake Hartwell. There was no Internet, cell phone connection, or cable TV. We had time to just enjoy being together as a family. The Lord was there with us.

There is nothing as special as the simple things. We get so busy with the "more important" matters of life that we so often forget to just stop and enjoy the simplest of God's blessings. Here are some simple things we enjoyed this weekend.

Short walks with the younger children.
Listening to the quiet trickles of the stream
while enjoying the playful flutters of butterflies
Stooping to notice the smallest of life
Tadpoles, baby frogs, and a mass of minnows.
Taking in the screams of delight over the smallest of matters.

Sitting around laughing, sharing memories,
Watching teenagers connect over cards and board games.
And savoring the site of a older child jumping on a trampoline with a younger sibling.
All the hugs, kisses and tickles are as balm to my weary heart.
The simplest of things are the weightier moments of life..
they bind us together..
God and Family...the Weightiest Blessings.
A father who loves his children enough to share his own weaknesses
Who takes time to pray with his family.Transparent before those he wants to appear the strongest
The very place of weakness turns out to be the very place of strength.
A father's vulnerable heart for his family makes him the hero to those closest to him.
The simplest of things...not money, not position, not even reputation.
But the simplicity of a love so pure
Carries the most weight of all!
I am grateful. My life is full. Wealthy in love, family, and faith.
Thank you Lord for showing up and reminding us what matters the most to You.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Thankful!! Grateful! Appreciative!!!


I am blessed! I just want to express the gratefulness in my heart for all of God's many blessings. My grandmother taught me to pray the greatest prayer. She told me to lay in the bed at night before going to sleep and to list as many things I could think of that I am thankful for. God greatly blesses the grateful heart.


Lord, I thank you that You are the One who makes me grateful. You have made me glad. You are the source of my thankfulness and my joy.

Thank you for this day.
Thank you for every breath you give me to breathe.
Thank you that I opened my eyes this morning to see the beautiful faces of my husband and children.
Thank you for giving me a home filled with laughter, voices, light, food, clothing, and comfort
Thank you for my ears..that I can hear so many sounds...the birds chirping, the children singing, the whispers of Your heart.
Thank you for your provision for this day...for mercy, grace, love, and for Your affection and attention.
Thank you for who you are Lord...so kind and long suffering, so patient and understanding.
Thank you for family and friends...those who stand with us in tough times...who have given freely and truly rejoice with us in good times.
This is a great day to rejoice...it is a new day. I will rejoice and be glad.

Today is my youngest daughter's 4th birthday! HAPPY BIRTHDAY HEATHER ROSE.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Weightier Matters

A couple of days I received an email from an old friend who lives in another community. She shared that they will soon be moving to Alaska to live a dream that has been in their hearts for some time now. Since it has been several years since I have been in contact with her, I was taken back by this huge change approaching them.

Approximately 8 years ago, God had blessed them with a beautiful farm. The house was over one-hundred years old. Therefore, the house as well as the land needed much tending to. God gave them a vision for this farm, so they set their strong hands to work and labored for years to fulfill the vision they had for this property. After succeeding and developing the land they had further dreams to have a goat dairy farm.

To sum up the story, this family has heard God's voice to lay down and to let go of their dream with the farm and move to Alaska to run a business there in an aircraft repair industry. What touched me the most about her testimony was how God had touched their hearts on the more weighty matters of life: love and mercy.

She went on to share about how their children had been trained well in the spiritual disciplines of prayer and prophesy,faith, and enduring through tough times. However she shared that common respect had been lost in their family through strife. Manifestations of this were nick-picking, coarse jesting and the like. They became grieved and began to repent to God and to ask Him to have His way with the family.

This ministered to me so strongly as it challenged me to examine my own life and family and to ask where we had maybe lost our way in these very truths. One can imagine with nine children in various stages of growth, there will be plenty of nick-picking and getting off the path.

Corporately. there is much conversing about the dreams of our hearts and what we hope for our futures. What I am realizing is that yes, God holds very dear the dreams of our hearts. More than likely He put them there. However, do we sometimes get side tracked by the vision that we overlook the here and now? Do we often forget the simpler things of love and mercy and fail to live them in our own homes? What good is a dream if we cannot live in harmony and forgiveness in this present time?

Life is so much more than my dreams. Here is my heart on this.

True Life...
So much more than what I am called to bring to this world.
Yes, I have a dream. So do you. We were created to dream, to imagine and to create.
God has given me a voice and abilities.
What profit are they though
If I lose that which is of the weightiest matters?
Loving,
Forgiving,
Extending grace even when I feel it wasn't my fault?
Offering mercy to those who cannot even receive it...but giving it anyway?
Reaching out when it hurts the most?
Our maturity is tested in the furnace of relationships.
We are called to lavish love without strings attached.
Healing comes in obeying the most difficult request of giving that which we find so hard to release.
Our own rights,our own opinions, our own stance.
Losing love along the way is the only thing to fear.
May we hold dear the weightier matters.
Then we will not lose our way.
And the outcome of our dreams will be the fruit of love...pure love
And contentment will be our resting place as we wait and as we extend loving kindness to all..
Whether we receive anything or not.


If you are going through a difficult time in a relationship, I would have you ponder this question. If you knew that 95% of the problem was the other person's fault, are you willing to acknowledge that the other 5% is your fault? If so, would you be willing to work on changing the 5% you are responsible for? That small percentage could be the very key to your healing and to the healing of your relationship.

(This statement came from the book, Every Woman's Marriage)

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

On Being Poured

Since I have been writing from the first chapter of James, let me ask you this question. Have you been feeling like you are being strung along from trial to trial to trial? Do you ever wonder if there is any relief? To be honest I am in a place where I wonder if the rest of my life will be trial after trial after trial with not much rest in between. I have been wrestling with this thought and have been praying for God's mercy to help me have a better perspective and acceptance of the things we face in life.

When I write about things it certainly is not to show what I know as though I have arrived in those areas. The writing is usually an expression of the very things God is dealing with in me and the issues I am wrestling with. I want to be known as someone who is real, not religious and self righteous. I feel that God wants us to be a relatable people. This means we need to be open with others that we in fact struggle with the same things and that we are just as helpless without Him as the next person. Does this mean we are to go around spreading negativity? No, but there is a door that opens into the heart and lives of others when we can share that we also struggle in our faith at times.

To be perfectly honest I love God very much. However I am a bit irritated with Him in some things. I have already told Him and He knows anway. But I understand and know that He has my best interest at heart. He is into transformation, not stagnation. His will is for us to be poured. You ask, "What does it mean to be poured?"

A couple of weeks ago I came across a description of this concept and it really helped me to better understand what God has been doing in my personal life. I pray very often asking God to make me more like Him. I ask Him to teach me how to love like Him. Needless to say that is a dangerous prayer to pray and a very uncomfortable one at that. However, it is the prayer He longs for us to pray.

In Jeremiah 48, the prophet Jeremiah begins to prophecy over the people of Moab. The Moabites were a very paganist and idolatrous people who lived across the Dead Sea east of the Land of Israel.God pronounced judgement on Moab through Jeremiah and identifies what Moab's problem was. Verse 11 says, "Moab has been at ease since his youth." Why was Moab so morally weak? The answer is a life of ease. "Moab has never been disturbed, neither has he been emptied from vessel to vessel, nor has he gone into exile. Therefore he retains his flavor and his aroma has not changed." (Jeremiah 48:11)

We have all read and heard about how God transforms us as a potter forms the clay. However, I would like to share another example of transformation and it has to do with the making of wine. When wine is fermented initially it is a combination of what is sweet and what is bitter. (That sounds like me)

Long ago wine was poured into a skin and was left there for a long time.After some time, the bitter part would fall to the bottom and become dregs. After another stretch of time, what was on the surface..the sweet stuff, was poured into another skin for another increment of time until more dregs were formed. Then after some more time, it would be poured into another skin and the same process would be repeated. This continued until there were no dregs at all because of what had been removed through the entire process. The end result was pure wine.

Unfortunately, Moab was never poured from trial to trial to trial so they remained stagnant which resulted in bitterness. This really helps me to see why we sometimes go through a continual process of trials. It is the hand of God and His work of pouring us. If you feel like you are seeing more dregs in your life, then be encouraged. God is allowing you to sit so the impurities of your soul will settle. If you feel empty, then it may very well be that you have just been poured out. Now you may have to sit a while that more dregs can settle.

When we can truly see the purpose of our struggles, then we can truly count them all joy. On another note, I really can see the sweet wine being poured as some of it splashes out onto others.

Lord, help us to not resent the process of being poured and poured and poured again. Help us to embrace the process and even trust that we can still be a blessing to others in meantime. Let the wine of Your joy sprinkle others as you transfer us from one wineskin to another. Thank you for teaching us and reminding those of us who may have already known these things but need to hear it again. May we remain humble in Your sight and remain teachable. We know we need review lessons so many times as we forget so often. We appreciate your reminders Lord. In Jesus Name.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

NO GREATER LOVE

I am currently reading NO GREATER LOVE, by MOTHER TERESA. If you want your heart and spirit to be stirred as to what this christian life is all about you should read this book. I thought I knew and I have so much more to learn...yet just this week my eyes have been opened to a greater understanding of the heart of our Savior.

I am tired of religious facades. God is crying out for those who will say yes to Him regardless of how dirty we get...regardless of how bad someone smells and regardless of my own state of spiritual and physical poverty. We must eat the bread of His presence and desire nothing more that simply that depth of intimacy if we are going to love like He loves.

Be blessed by this excerpt from Mother Teresa:

"LOVE JESUS GENEROUSLY. LOVE HIM TRUSTFULLY, WITHOUT LOOKING BACK AND WITHOUT FEAR.GIVE YOURSELF FULLY TO JESUS, HE WILL USE YOU TO ACCOMPLISH GREAT THINGS ON THE CONDITION THAT YOU BELIEVE MUCH MORE IN HIS LOVE THAN IN YOUR WEAKNESS. BELIEVE IN HIM, TRUST IN HIM WITH A BLIND AND ABSOLUTE CONFIDENCE BECAUSE HE IS JESUS.HE IS JESUS. BELIEVE THAT JESUS AND JESUS ALONE IS AND LIFE, AND SANCTITY IS NOTHING BUT THAT SAME JESUS INTIMATELY LIVING IN YOU;THEN HIS HAND WILL BE FREE WITH YOU.

WHO IS JESUS TO ME?
JESUS IS THE WORD MADE FLESH.
JESUS IS THE BREAD OF LIFE.
JESUS IS THE VICTIM OFFERED FOR OUR SINS ON THE CROSS.
JESUS IS THE WORD TO BE SPOKEN
JESUS IS THE TRUTH TO BE TOLD.
JESUS IS THE WAY TO BE WALKED
JESUS IS THE LIGHT TO BE LIT.
JESUS IS THE LIFE TO BE LIVED.
JESUS IS THE LOVE TO BE LOVED.
JESUS IS THE JOY TO BE SHARED.
JESUS IS THE PEACE TO BE GIVEN
JESUS IS THE HUNGRY TO BE FED.
JESUS IS THE THIRSTY TO BE SATIATED
JESUS IS THE NAKED TO BE CLOTHED.
JESUS IS THE HOMELESS TO BE TAKEN IN.
JESUS IS THE SICK TO BE HEALED.
JESUS IS THE LONELY TO BE LOVED.
JESUS IS THE UNWANTED TO BE WANTED.
JESUS IS THE LEPER TO WASH HIS WOUNDS.
JESUS IS THE BEGGAR TO GIVE HIM A SMILE.
JESUS IS THE DRUNKARD TO LISTEN TO HIM.
JESUS IS THE MENTALLY ILL TO PROTECT HIM.
JESUS IS THE LITTLE ONE TO EMBRACE HIM.
JESUS IS THE BLIND TO LEAD HIM.
JESUS IS THE DUMB TO SPEAK FOR HIM.
JESUS IS THE CRIPPLED TO WALK WITH HIM.
JESUS IS THE DRUG ADDICT TO BEFRIEND HIM.
JESUS IS THE PROSTITUTE TO REMOVE FROM DANGER AND BEFRIEND HER.
JESUS IS THE PRISONER TO BE VISITED.
JESUS IS THE OLD TO BE SERVED.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Count it All Joy? Part 2

If you read "Count It All Joy?" Part One, you will want to read this. In the last blog I wrote about what it means to count and to consider something all joy based on James 1. Secondly, I shared about how we must know certain things to even be able to count something as joyful, especially through trying and testing times in our lives.

James 1:3 states that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. This is what we need to know. If I do not know that the test will produce something good then I will have no hope or motivation to move forward. Each time I go through a trial and allow it to do the work of strengthening me, then I know that when the next obstacle comes, I am empowered to push through and endure. Verse 4 says that perseverance must finish its work that we may be mature and complete. God's heart is that we grow to maturity and to wholeness in Him. This is the demonstration and evidence of God's heart and best for our lives. It is the manifestation of His embrace and kiss upon our fragile hearts.

Sometimes it seems that when we are going through troubling seasons of our lives that God is distant. What we need to know is that He is closer than ever and that His affections are in operation toward us in a special way. Psalm 131 basically expresses,

LORD, MY HEART IS NOT HAUGHTY
NOR MY EYES LOFTY
NEITHER DO I CONCERN MYSELF WITH GREAT MATTERS
NOR WITH THINGS TOO PROFOUND FOR ME
SURELY I HAVE CALMED AND QUIETED MY SOUL
LIKE A WEANED CHILD WITH HIS MOTHER
LIKE A WEANED CHILD IS MY SOUL WITHIN ME
O ISRAEL,HOPE IN THE LORD
FROM THIS TIME FORTH AND FOREVER.

This Psalm uses the example of a weaned child to show a perfect picture of maturity. In our human mind we define maturity in a way that exemplifies independence and self sufficiency. However, God likens maturity to a weaned child. This child is usually one or two years old. He or she is walking and getting into a lot of things...many times making numerous messes. However this child learns many things through the messes he makes. Furthermore, when the child becomes weary, fearful or hurt, he rushes straight back to the place where he once was nursed...in his mother's lap.

Maturity is dependence. This child no longer needs his mother milk. He is eating solids. However, he always goes to the place he feels nurtured; the place where he knows true love. The child goes to that safe place and he sits without questions. A little child in his mother's lap is content and does not need to know anymore than that his mommy is simply there. He does not need to know about tomorrow or what is next. There is peace and contentment.

Likewise, when we are facing pressures too tough to bear at times, we need to picture ourselves as this little toddler. Psalm 46:10 says "Be still and know I am God." "Be Still" in Hebrew text means to let go. Letting go and allowing God to hold us, embrace us and love us is the mark of maturity. It is all about the art of falling into His arms. I so want to learn to be better at sitting in His lap and leaning against chest. When I learn to do this, I can be assured that when He gets up to go somewhere I am in His arms and I am moving with Him. Oh the thought of this truth and the joy of this reality. May we take hold of Him and never let go.

I have more to say about this thing called joy. Check back because I am going to share about what a life of ease produces and what a life of submission produces. There is a lot to be said about this...so stayed tuned in. Peace.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Count it All Joy?

Agnes was walking the crowded streets of Calcutta, India one day and noticed a very ill woman lying within a doorway to a building. The diseased woman was so oblivious to her surroundings as rats nibbled constantly on her toes. Agnes was so taken back by the sight that she approached the woman, picked her up, and managed to tote her to the nearest hospital. The hospital staff was very rude and aloof as they scorned, "Take her away. She will die anyway." Agnes, being a small woman in stature did not allow her size to hinder her. She boldly insisted that they admit the terminally ill woman. After much struggle and arguing the medical staff allowed the woman to be admitted.

Shortly after Agnes left the hospital she began to contemplate all the people she had noticed who were like the sick woman she had carried to the hospital. She then preceded to go to the government to ask for a vacant building. Her request was granted. From that day on, Agnes made it her life's mission to help sick and hurting people. She took in many diseased and dying individuals and provided a comfortable and clean environment to spend their last days. She and her helpers were abused daily as the Hindu leaders as well as followers threw stones at them as they transported sickly individuals into the refuge. The religious people of the community reported them to the police. As the officer entered the building he saw Agnes lovingly bathing a sick woman who had maggots crawling out of open sores on her body. The officer was so touched that he went back and told the religious leaders that he would remove Agnes and her helpers from the facilities on the condition that they themselves would gather enough of their own family members to go in and take over the good work taking place there! Hallelujah!

This is only a small section of the story of Mother Teresa's life. She was a small woman with a big heart. That enormous heart allowed her to accomplish many things during her life in showing the love of Jesus to the hurting. Her acts of kindness and compassion touched many who saw her in action. Her life was a witness because she lived it. I am sure she shared words about the Lord with those she lovingly touched, but her greatest witness was in the way she gave of herself. Only a heart filled with God can move the hearts of others.

This past Wednesday I shared this story with the women in our life group because we were sharing about perseverance. If there was ever a time in my own life to press through regardless of the circumstances it is now. We read and talked about James 1: 2-4 which states, "Count it all joy my brethren, when you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." I know the Lord has been speaking to me and teaching me about persevering in times when it seems like it would be easy to just throw in the towel and take a broader road.

So the question is: How do we practically count it all joy when we are facing pressures from all direction? The word says to do it. But how do we do it?
Here are some things that I need to grow in and I hope you will be encouraged in this also.

First, to count something means to consider. It means to think forward, to look ahead to the benefit and to look past the trauma of the moment because there is no joy in immediate pain. Thinking forward is a habit we must form. James 1:2 says to count it ALL joy. Not a little bit of joy but a fullness of joy. Joy is not the same thing as happiness. Happiness is a fleeing emotion. It is with you a moment then "boom" some circumstance comes along and happiness is gone. God desires to bless us with happy moments throughout our lives. However, His ultimate plan is to do a work so deep within our spirits that joy will be manifested in our lives.

In Galatians, Paul says that one of the fruits of the spirit is joy. Joy is of the spirit. Happiness is of the soul. How can we count it all joy when we face trials and disappointments? The key is thinking forward by contemplating the promises of God. There are thousands of promises in God's word.

Verse three says we know the testing of our faith produces perseverance. Here the word "knowing" is key. We have to know certain things before we can do them. If I do not know what God says about Himself and what he says about me, then it will make it impossible to do anything. If He says He is producing something in me then I can look into His love letter to me and read what He is actually producing. This in turn helps me to think forward instead of thinking about my problems.

We must develop new habits of focusing on the promises instead of the problems. What if we took one promise each day from God's word and thought on that one promise? There would be enough promises to last for thousands of days. Our thinking would change and others would be changed because of what has been cultivated in us. The word of God does something supernatural. It transforms us because the words are straight from the heart of the One who cannot break His promises.

When John and I were dating, we would write love letters to each other almost daily as we were living in different towns. Each day I looked forward to going to my mail box and receiving his words of love to me. The words I would read gave me hope for the future we were planning together and I looked forward to what was ahead. This is an example of thinking forward through reading and receiving the word of God, His love letter to you and to me.

This is becoming a long blog so I will continue this soon. There is more to say about perseverance so check back for the next blog about wholeness and maturity. I am writing this to myself more than anyone else and am challenged that in this season we need to focus on the Promises of God so that we may continue to press forward to the upward call of Christ Jesus.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

God Wants You to Notice

He is the God of the big and the God of the little. All are the same to Him. It is amazing how easily we can become desensitized to the workings of God in our lives. It seems like we get caught up at times in chasing signs and wonders and we do not even notice what is going on in our own homes and in our own lives. On the other hand we become so comfortable at times when circumstances are agreeable. Yea, there is money in the bank and I have paid all my bills this month. Life is good right now, so kick back relax and enjoy. How I fear this position of comfort. Then there is the fear when bills are not getting paid or some bad news comes. We are faced with the temptation to turn our eyes away from the One who sits on the throne to the activity swirling around us.

Personally, I am learning to be more grateful for the tough times. I know that when things are really not going my way, I am challenged to fix my eyes upon what is actually real and that which actually matters. Hard times are a gift because it means God is waiting for you to start looking for Him and calling out for Him. "HELP JESUS!" And then He comes running and you really start to notice things you never noticed before.

Our family is seeing the handiwork of God here at home. I have been calling out for Him to just come and be with us, to stay and never leave us. I have prayed, "God you can come in and take all of our troubles away. However, that is not enough any longer. I just want You. All that I need You are. You are my sufficiency!" And He has been showing up in neat and sweet little ways. Yes, His fire comes before Him, but His mercy flows from within Him. He gives us His best. We should desire all of Him.

A few weeks ago, someone gave me 50 dollars to buy something for myself. I was told to spend it on something I would like. So I tucked that pretty little bill in my purse for the day I could go shopping for a nice little dress. A few days later, we were at a worship service and I kept noticing a young lady there. I sensed the Holy Spirit saying, "Give her your 50 dollar bill." So after the service I gave her the money. She was so blessed and I believe God touched her with His love. She is a young mother who works hard and puts her family first.


A few weeks had past and we had just arrived home from my son's graduation ceremony.My sister in law and my father in law were with us. As I started to go up the stairs to change clothes, they stopped me and handed me a card. They said, "We felt like the teacher should receive a gift also. Inside of the card was one hundred dollars. I immediately remembered the fifty I had given away and God showed me that he rewards double fold. Now I am not trying to toot my horn as it was a bit difficult to give up the fifty dollars. I just want to testify that God is active in even the smaller details of our lives. We must stop, be still and notice the seemingly smaller signs and wonders. There are reminders all around that He is with us and that He is showing us His affection.

Another testimony is that last week our bank account had dwindled down really low. So after dinner, John told everyone that we were going to pray for God's provision. We started off thanking God for being faithful to our family. Then we took turns asking the Lord to move on behalf of our family. We went around and prayed for each other and affirmed one another in prayer through blessing and encouragement. As we were praying, the phone rang. It was good news that money was on the way. The next day, the money was in our account.


In addition, our son Bradley has been praying for a car. He is looking for a job and has been looking for a vehicle to drive back and forth to work. He received about 600dollars in gifts for graduation. His friend Maddy, has a car that she has been wanting to sell for 900 dollars. He knew he did not have enough to buy the car. So he prayed about it (I had been praying too :) ) His friend called Bradley and told him she decided to cut the price so he could buy it. She took 400 dollars off of her asking price of 900 dollars. Now he can buy the car !! Praise the Lord.

I just feel like God is walking around in our house. He is tending to us. He is taking care of us. These seemingly little things are evidence of His presence and of His hand moving. I love Him so and am so glad that He lives in us and with us. My heart is that others would come to notice more and more the activity of God in their everyday lives. Some of my best prayers lately have been in the bathroom. You cannot get anymore practical than that. God is real. He is present Ask for more. He will come. Ask Him to help you to notice more of what He is doing. God is at work and I cannot contain my excitement of walking with,living with and loving on Him.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

In the Back Yard

Right in the back yard,just beyond the edge
Someone is crying out to be rescued.
One need not go very far
To hear the shattering of hearts.
Someone is dying for a word of hope.
And for a hand in action.
So so busy with our own little worlds
Thinking we have enough problems of our own.
Someone is heaving with pain...they will never feel the same
Nothing will seem normal again.
Marred with the thoughts...
Life is too hard and just isn't worth living
Why do I get so caught up in me?
I abhor my self pity.
There is a woman down the street
Whose husband is gone.
There is a family who has only a few dollars
To buy food.It wont last the week.
Depression has gobbled up
Precious ones so loved
By the Heavenly Father.
What can I give them Lord?
When I saw her tears today
I could have sworn I saw You
In her face of despair
I just knew You were there.
Just want to be where You are
In the home or down the street
Don't have to go too far.
Just right in the back yard
There is a world left wanting.
I will give what I have
Even if I have to do without.
We think we need so much
all we need is You and
a new heart to be Your traveling companion.
Do not have to go far at all
to see where the crying people are
so close in the back yard.


Yes the needy and the hurting are right in our back yard. There is a food pantry about 3 miles from my house so I have been going there and learning their mentoring process. Today I met two precious ladies who were in need. One of the women has bipolar disorder and has been in the hospital with severe depression. The other lady is a mom of 3. She was laid off from her job a few months ago and they cannot make it solely on her husband's income. She cried when we took her into the pantry room to let her pick out her groceries and felt so bad about taking them. It was so wonderful to encourage her to take all she needed and it was all free!Oh the joy of giving. I want to give like that. I desire to get things so I can give them away. I want to go through my house and find things to give. Oh the joy of giving hope. And the added blessing was that these people were so grateful. The young mother hugged my neck and called us angels. I did not even buy the food but was just there to listen and to help her. What a blessing today was. What a joy it is to be a small part of giving others the hope of Jesus Christ.

Friday, May 16, 2008

FALLING BACK ON.........

This week I have been thinking about the places the Lord has us in this season. The words "falling back on" has continued to ring in my spirit. And the prayer that yes Lord you are drawing Your bride into a place of falling back onto You. You want nothing more and we have nothing more to fall back on but the sufficiency of You grace. As we fall back into His arms He takes hold of us and we move with Him. And he carries us. Oh God You are all we have, yet you are all we need. All we need YOU ARE. We desire You only our God and King.

My friend Peggy sent me this song this morning. It was a splash of Living Water to my heart. Listen to the words and let them soak your soul in the presence of our tenderhearted King. Click on the second heart of the You Tube Videos above. Be blessed.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Desperate Times Call for Desperate Prayers

Yesterday we received phone calls on our home phone and both cell phones from the High School regarding our son Tommy. Immediately I knew something was not right. John was at the store when his cell phone rang. He answered and spoke with the guidance counselor and she explained that something had taken place that day and that he needed to come to the school.

When John arrived, our son Tommy and another student along with the principle, another parent and guidance counselor were sitting in the office. The events that had taken place was a bit disturbing and a sharp reminder of how we desperately need to cover our youth and their schools.

At this school there is a young man who Tommy has been around a few times. Each time he has been around him, the young man has made jokes about killing people. In fact he has had counseling for emotional instability and was even sent away from home for a season because he killed his neighbor's dog.

Yesterday, Tommy was in the middle of a conversation that took place between a young lady and this particular young man. She made a comment in a joking way that she wanted to kill another young lady because she was going out with her "ex-boyfriend" . The young man told her he would do it for 30 dollars. Someone overheard these exchange of words and reported it to the principle's office. Everyone who was around, including Tommy, was taken to the office for questioning. Investigators were even called in. Needless to say, the school principle and other officials did not take the incident lightly. I am very thankful.

In fact the principle told John that they are looking further into this young man's situation. When John arrived home with Tommy yesterday and they shared what had happened I felt such a sense of urgency to pray covering over our youth and our schools as never before. We have been able to turn on the TV lately and hear about violence amongst teenagers. In fact last night, I watched in horror as several teenage girls abused and beat up another young lady while taping it on video. This victim now has nerve damage in her face and she even had swelling on her brain due to the continuous blows she received. She could possibly have permanent damage to her sight and to her hearing.

I was thanking the Lord over and over yesterday that Tommy came home safely from school. Something that may have seemed like a joke was no joke. It was a learning experience for him as well as for us as parents that we need to take our responsibility to cover our children in prayer very seriously. I also spent time in prayer for this disturbed young man who has murderous thoughts. We need to teach our teenagers to be watchmen on the wall for their schools. For some reason out of a couple of thousand students Tommy was exposed to this incident. Maybe the Lord's heart is for our teens to have a wake up call in that yes, they are called to be watchmen for their schools. It could be a matter of life or death.

We live in desperate times which calls for desperate prayer. This is no time to fear, but a season to rise up and wage war on behalf of this generation. Our prayers for them can make all the difference and I plan to continue to stand watch in the spot on the wall that only I can fill. it may be only one little space that I fill, but I want to be obedient to stand in that little gap. One arrow from the enemy could fly through that opening should I fail to stand my watch. I praise the Lord for the wake up call!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

YOU ARE GROWING UP

Just a few days ago I was having lunch in Chick Fil A with my oldest daughter Sara. As we were sitting there I looked up and saw a truck at the intersection. Across the top was written in large letters, "Another delivery is on the way." These words just jumped out at me as if there was something someone wanted me to know. "Could it be you God?" I quietly prayed. I am not one to be asking God for a sign. In fact before I saw these words I was not even thinking about anything that would stir such a question and prayer.

Obviously the Lord wanted to speak something to me because I have been in a season of rapid growth. Yes. I am growing up and so are you. It is a time God is moving quickly. According to J. Oswald Sanders, spiritual maturity is not a position we reach or a goal we achieve. It is a life we find ourselves living. Think sbout your life. Have you been treading through some major changes lately? Then you may very well be experiencing a growth spurt in the spirit.

As a young child I would often have aches and pains in my legs. I would feel the discomfort mostly at night when I would go to bed. The ache sometimes would keep me awake. However, my parents would tell me it was okay, that I was just having growing pains.

Similarly, as we grow and mature in our character, in our faith, and in our relationship with God we are given increased ability with time to digest more of His truth. This means that we not only have a greater understanding, but a deeper acceptance of His truth. This is where the phrase "Another delivery is on the way" enters in. This growth can be very painful at times and even tempt us into unrest and anxiety. Growth is accelerated in times of testing and difficulty. Yes we can obtain growth through knowledge, but the greatest increase comes in times of adversity and pressure.

In Sander's book, "Spiritual Maturity" deliverance of faith is explained. I would like to share some of his thoughts. Many times when we are going through tests and hardship we are on the outlook for the deliverance. In the book of Daniel, chapter 3 Sahdrack, Meshach, and Abednego were thrown into a fiery pit because they refused to bow down and worship the golden god that Nebuchadnezzar had errected for all of his people to worship.

This controlling King made his demands, but the three young men replied, "Your threat means nothing to us. If you throw us in the fire, the God we serve can rescue us from the roaring furnace and from anything else you might cook up. But even if he does not rescue us , it would not make a bit of difference. We still would not serve your Gods or worship the gold statue you set up. (Daniel 3: 16-18)

Nebuchadnezzar's face turned purple with anger and he ordered the furnace to be turned up seven times hotter that usual. Strong men bound them up and threw them into the furnace . Because of the heat, the strong men were burned up. However, the three young men were seen walking freely around in the fire. And what is even more exciting was that Jesus was down there walking around with them. Splendid!

The lesson of this story is packed with insight for walking through the trials of life. However, the one thing that really impacted me is that many times we are so focused and wrapped up in finding and coming to our deliverance that we place our hope in it. The three young men who were threated had such a deep rooted trust that they were not even worried should God choose not to deliver them from being tossed into the fire. Sure enough, they were plumeted into the violent flames. God did not deliver them from the furnace, but he delivered them in it. Sanders points out that "we must get away from the idea that deliverance from a trial is the highest form of spiritual blessing".

Jesus said that in this world you will have tribulation. The greater the tribulation the greater the impact we will have as individuals and churches. We are deceived if we think the less problems we have and the more comfort we entail, we are in the best place to reach people.

I thought of Paul whose conditions were never "just right" to do the ministry and to reach others, He was constantly being tested and always faced persecution. Yet he did the work of the ministry with joy and power. Another of Sanders quotes is "we learn more in a few days in the fiery furnace than we would learn in years out of it."

We must be careful not to grumble when the delivery is not made in the way we envisioned it. Many times when we fall into hardship we are faithful to wait but the "tudes" we carry are often not attractive. Things are not going my way and I start to have a bad attitude. There is good news. We have the power to change those negative attitudes by starving them. Yes, starve them until they die. You see, these three men in the fire could have fallen into distress when their lives were threatened. They could have taken on the negative and even turned against the God they proclaimed to trust. However, they gloried in the tribulation because they knew that God had good in mind for them no matter how it all turned out.

We must take heed to this example. We must choose to proclaim, "God will deliver me and even if He chooses not too, I will love Him anyway. I will serve Him anyway. I will love others anyway because my hope is in the DELIVERER, not in the delivery of the deliverance!!

What kind of furnace are do you find yourself in today? How are you handling it? Are you grumbling? Are you stewing inwardly and finding yourself being critical of the way things are being done in your home, work place or church? Maybe you are in place of waiting and things are not going the way you had hoped. We are constantly faced with changes. People change, circumstances change, the weather changes: nothing is constant. However, there is One who never changes. He is the Author and Finisher of your faith. He who began great things in you is faithful to complete that work. Your Father leaves nothing undone and incomplete.

The reason that the three young men in the furnace could stand with confidence in the midst of the trial and the unknown was because they kept their heart fixed upon the Deliverer not the deliverance. They stood on Christ the Solid Rock and did not sink into dispair and distress. May we all be challenged to exercise our faith and learn to lean on the Everlasting Arms of Jesus no matter what the pain. You are growing up and that it good. Yes it hurts. However, we have many promises from the heart of our unchanging God. All things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to His purpose and plan. He will keep you in perfect peace as you keep your flow of thoughts upon Him.

Monday, April 14, 2008

An Adventure to Share

About a month ago John and I had our first interview in hopes of receiving a grant for Not4Saken, a ministry to help single parent families. Not4Saken is a part of the Leaping Hearts Ministries we started last year. We were a bit discouraged as we left the interview because we just felt like one of many who ask for funding for non-profit organizations. Our presentation was not elaborate and we could not answer many of the questons asked. In addition, the gentlemen who interviewed us shared with us that many people and organizations ask them for money. However, he did not say no and expressed that he would be in touch.

Several weeks passed and we received an email that they wanted to give us a matching grant. This meant that for every 5oo dollars we received in gifts they would match it. The maximum they will match is 3000 dollars. At first this sounded a bit discouraging as I was thinking about how we would raise the 3000 dollars in order to get the matching grant.

Last week, I was falling into the fickleness mode again and felt a wave of doubt rising about the whole thing. Every time this happens, I just lay it before God. There is no need to hide or lie to God that my faith is weakening and that doubts are swelling. In the midst of that sinking feeling, God so graciously came and brought more confirmation that we are moving in the right direction with this ministry. I received an email from a lady who goes through estate homes and gives things away that are left from the estate sales. She communicated to me that she had just worked through a home that had a lot of things we could use for Not4Saken.

It is amazing to watch God work as the owner of this home was a 50 year old man who suddenly passed away of a massive heart attack. He had not been sick and had no symptoms. It was a sudden and tragic death. He was not married, had no children, but he lived a very full life helping different churches and businesses install large sound systems and building structures. He also helped install some of the interior structures of the Atlanta Aquarium.

My heart was deeply touched as his sister,Kelly, met us at the home and helped us load the items into our van. She was so kind and spoke so lovingly of her brother whose life had ended so suddenly. This sweet lady was of such a small frame but her physical strength amazed me as she willingly without complaint assisted us in loading large pieces of furniture into our van. As I was watching her I felt the Lord impressing on me that this was a woman of great inner strength as well as physical strength.


My gratitude to the Lord is beyond words to describe. I am beginning to understand more and more as to why He does things in ways we do not understand. He could have provided us with a grant that would not have to be matched. However, He chose to bless us with a matching grant so that we could meet precious people like Kelly. I am so happy I met her today. My heart is blessed more and more as God connects us with more and more people. Each day is an adventure and I am looking forward to the future and all that will unfold through the gracious workings of our marvelous Father. He wants us to connect with others. It is obvious. How great is the measure of His love.

FOR MY THOUGHTS ARE NOT YOUR THOUGHTS, NOR ARE YOUR WAYS MY WAYS,SAYS THE LORD. FOR AS THE HEAVENS ARE HIGHER THAN THE EARTH,SO ARE MY WAYS HIGHER THAN YOUR WAYS,AND MY THOUGHTS THAN YOUR THOUGHTS. ISAIAH 55:8-9

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Confidence Breeds Confidence-A Lesson in Leading



"I think I can! I think I can!" the Little Engine replied as he pulled the long and heavy weight of the long train up the towering mountain. Other large and seemingly capable engines were asked to do the job but they refused. It may have been due to the condition of their engines. One may have been fearful, another complacent. Whatever the reasons the task was given to a simple little engine with a lot of confidence and a huge dose of availability.

This old time American Story Book is packed with the value of optimism. Critics say it is the metaphor of the American Dream. I say it is more so the metaphor of God's dream. His dream for us.

Obviously the Little Engine was no giant. There was no outward appearance that would win the confidence or respect of others.It was a simple "I think I can." that brought this outwardly puny little engine great victory and success. He did not seek fame or recognition. He just saw something that needed to be done and stepped in to do it. In a sense, the Little Engine's confidence was in something greater than himself. Just as Philippians 4:13 says, "I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.

The other day as I was visiting with a friend, she shared with me a revelation that God gave to her mother. She said that there is not a verse in the Bible stating that God will never give us more than we can bear. Did the little engine pull more than he could bear in the natural? Yes. It took a miracle and much confidence to be able to pull the entire length of that train up a mountain. The fact is that God at times gives us more that we can bear or pull because it is His strength that enables us to bear under weights in our lives. If we could bear things alone we would not need our God who says His yoke is easy and His burden is light.

This also reminds me of David and Goliath (1 Samuel 17). David was the youngest and seemingly weakest of eight sons. Goliath was calling out a man from the Israelite army to fight him. When Goliath defied the armies of God, they quaked with fear. (1 Samuel 17:11). David's three oldest and "seemingly well fit for the job" brothers folded in terror. One day, as David was tending his father's sheep, he was sent by his father to take food to his brothers and to check on them. As David arrived and inquired of this giant's demands, David volunteered to fight him. His brothers ridiculed him as they had little respect for the little brother who only tended scrawny sheep.

As the story continues, David went out to face the giant with only his staff, five smooth stones and a sling. The only armor he possessed was the armor of the Most High God. AS he faced the nearly 10 foot tall giant whose spear head itself weighed 15 pounds,he looked up into his eyes and boldly stated, "You come to me with a sword and a spear and a battle axe, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defiled. This assembly will know that there is an extraordinary God in Israel. And everyone gathered here will know that God doesn't save by means of a sword and spear. The battle belongs to God-He's handing you to us on a platter!"(1 Samuel 17:45-47)
We all know the ending. David did just that. Goliath was dead meat with no head after the fact. Now this is confidence and confidence is contagious. David was a man after God's heart and in the beginning he stood alone. God did the impossible through a young man who was only willing.

With this kind of confidence look what David did with the God who gave him sufficient strength. When God gives us His confidence what are we supposed to do with it? According to John C. Maxwell's book, "Be a People Person", we are to keep refueling it. "Confidence is not constant but fluctuates according to our success and failure ratio.
We all have defeats which occasionally and temporarily lower our confidence level. If you accept the fact that you will not be outstanding in everything you attempt, you will not be devastated when your best is not good enough."

God given confidence is meant by God to be contagious. It will spread throughout your sphere of influence. There were no giant killers in Saul's army because they shrunk in fear of the giant. However, David was one man with a great amount of God confidence. David the giant killer became king. Many giant killers rose up afterwards. Powerful giant slaying kings became a common commodity in the army under David's leadership.
This very thing demonstrates that it takes a giant-killer to make another giant killer. As you grow closer to God the more bold and confident you become. Then your friends, family and others around you will increase in their own confidence levels.

We must remember that David killed the giant and the Little Engine made it up the mountain not because of any special skills, but because they were full of confidence. David killed the giant because he knew he could do it. The Little Engine thought she could make it. She had confidence. Likewise we too can climb mountains and pull heavy loads. We too can strike a giant, serve him on a platter and be confidence breeders. It only requires a firm and bold conviction of 'I think I can"
And when we get to the top or when the head of the giant has been sliced off you will look with satisfaction and say, "I thought I could. I thought I could."


I can do ALL THINGS through Christ who gives me Strength. Phil. 4:13

My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness. 2 Cor.12;9

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

NOW FAITH

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Hebrews 11: 1

Okay so I am way behind in my blogging. There has been nothing written here in a month. My plan was to write more on the parenting book. I hope to do that but for now my faith is being tested everyday. So I would just like to vent a bit the things stirring within my heart.

The just shall live by faith. We are just in God's eyes because of the price Jesus paid for us in giving His whole life. He gave His body, He gave his soul and He gave His spirit. He gave all He had to give. May this truth never become so stale and common in our lives as children of God. Lord, help me to never take this for granted.

As I was reading more into the eleventh chapter of Hebrews, verses 8 and 9 really stood out to me. It says, "By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out not knowing where he was going. By faith, he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise.

Notice that verse eight says Abraham went out not knowing. Not knowing was how he went. He did not know where in the sand hill he was headed. I wonder if he struggled with mind games as he went? Did the enemy come against his mind and attempt to plant doubt, perplexity, and discouragement as Abraham plowed ahead? I have been wondering about that.

However, he made it regardless of the struggle. He knew that we was journeying toward the promise but he did not know where...he just knew there was a promise to head after. How many times do we waver in our minds? We want to have a plan to fall back on in case it does not work. Is this really faith? Is this really wisdom? We say,"Well, we must be balanced and have wisdom. Therefore we should have a plan in place in just in case." I really been questioning this lately.

Oh yes, it is between me and God. However, it is a question we will all be faced with if not already. Faith is looking ahead and going without knowing. What was Abraham's back up plan? There was none. By his faith, he was given the priviledge to dwell in the land of promise.

As I was reading this scripture I noticed some words I had written at the top of the page years ago. These are the words.

FAITH SEES THE INVISIBLE
FAITH HEARS THE INAUDIBLE
FAITH BELIEVES THE INCREDIBLE
FAITH THINKS THE UNTHINKABLE.
FAITH ACCOMPLISHES THE IMPOSSIBLE.
FAITH INHERITS THE INDESTRUCTABLE.

Hebrews 10: 35-38 says Therefore do not cast away your confidence which has great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise. for yet a little while,and He who is coming will come and will not tarry. Now the just shall live by faith; but if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him.

Friday, January 18, 2008

A Complete Love is Secure Love

If I were to interview hundreds of parents and ask them, "Do you love your children?", not one would say no. There would be no statistics to compare. The answers would be 100% yes. All parents love their children and most show their children love. However, we must aim to give them a secure and complete love.

Many children grow up insecure because the love they received from their parents was incomplete even though it was genuine. We want to send our children into the world knowing they were truly loved. Also, God has given us the keys to be the ones who transfer this secure love.

Why are so many children growing up into insecure adults? We must take a long look at ourselves and see if we possibly may contribute to this problem. Sometimes our love is incomplete because our children feel they must constantly compete for it. Are we choosing pastimes, careers, or even friends above them? Who or what are we spending most of our time doing?

Several months ago, my husband was transferred to a different area of his work place. Greater demands were put on his time causing him to be away from the family for 70 and sometimes 80 hours a week. Even when he was home, he had to answer calls and was expected to fill out reports on his computer. We value our family time, so after a few months, John went to his supervisor to see if he could work out a different plan. His supervisor ignored him and did nothing to help him. Finally, John went to his boss and told him he could no longer work that many hours because he needed to be home more with his family. He was accused of trying to dictate his work hours and was let go.

Because God values family and the time we invest in our children and spouses, He is providing for our family and we have much more time together now. God will honor your desires to have more time for your family. Sometimes we are forced to make decisions and even face losses for choosing what is right in God's eyes. We must transfer complete love to our children by choosing to let go of certain things.

Secondly, our love is sometimes incomplete because our children are made to feel like they have to earn it. They can discern if they receive our praise and approval if they are performing to make us look good to others or behaving in a way to make our jobs easier as parents. We must aim to show our children acceptance no matter how they choose to behave.

So what does complete love really look like? Dr. Tim Kimmel, author of Grace Based Parenting, defines love as "the commitment of my will to your needs and best interests, regardless of the cost." Doing the loving thing for our children is not always easy and does not necessarily come natural. Love is about making decisions based on the covenants we have with our loved ones. Love also sees our needs as second priority to those we are to love.Our children are our closest neighbors. Loving them in grace and truth is also about knowing what their God given needs are, not selfish ones, and meeting those needs.

Last of all we should remember that secure love is often inconvenient and sometimes painful. Loving our children costs so much. They cost our money,time and sleep. It may cost us our careers, it may cost us mother's our figures. It may cost you Dads a promotion. It may require that we do without.

Just the other day we took the younger children to Toys R Us to pick out a toy to buy with some Christmas money their grandparents had given them. As we were paying for the gifts, the cashier looked at me and said, 'Wow, they each get something. What do you get?" I pointed to the children with a smile and replied, "I get to enjoy them! That is what I get!"