Thursday, July 31, 2008

“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy."~ 1 Peter 2:9-10 (ESV emphasis Iris')

This week Iris has focused on being thankful for relationships. I had the opportunity to focus on some relationships in my life this week, particularly the one with my earthly father. Lately, I've been trying to love as Jesus loved, seeing people as Jesus sees them and it's very hard to do when it comes Da Chief, as I affectionately call my daddy. I realized this morning that he does not hold my past against me. Just as my Heavenly Father loves me unconditionally, so does my dad. My earthly father may have been a lot of things, but he was LOVE. And he still loves.

Oh, God, let me be the same way! Take away the issues of the past and erase them completely and totally from my memory. Replace aggravation and irritation and confoundedness with pure, unadulterated love! Whatever part of my heart is still bitter, melt it into putty and help me love my father COMPLETELY. Remove the fear, the anxities, the anger and hurt and replace it with a love that forgives as You forgive.

Whew. That felt good!

Relationships take a work, some more so than others. I guess it's the "relating" part of the word. Are you more of a solitary person, content to float through life alone, or do you prefer the company of many?

God's promise to us is that we are never alone. Once we accept Him as our Savior, we become part of the body of Christ. We are God's people! We are no longer solitary people, standing on the sidelines or drifting along through life. We are a part of the family of God! Praise Him, indeed!
"Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble." - 1 Peter 3:8
So I am going to focus on thanking God for some more of my relationships now...
  • Steve - he rocks! He's the best husband ever. Well, my only husband ever, but I love him so much. He is steady love. He doesn't run hot and cold with me, depending on if I've cooked his favorite meal or given him a mean look. He loves me unconditionally. And he knows how to fix things around the house. I love that about him.
  • Kristyn, Corey & Nolan - the best bonus daughter, son-in-law and grandson a woman could have. They are walking examples of love.
  • Mother - she is so loving, kind, and is in the throws of excitement right now, anticipating her first biological grandson from my sister Jenn. 20 more days! WOO-HOO!!!!!!
  • Jenn - my sister - see above. My sister is joy, kindness, love and goodness and should win "The Best Sister Ever in the Whole Wide World" award. Is there one of those? If not, I should make her one.
  • My best friend Harriett. She is closer than a sister to me and I love her so much. We are true spiritual sisters in Christ. She is my angel-friend. God truly blessed me with her.
  • My Blog Friends - oh what a a joy it is to be blessed by you daily. God has used each and every one of you tremendously in my life. I am a new person since Twinkle Mom introduced me to the world of blogging - really blogging. God bless you, Twinkle Mom!
  • The WOW Gals - a great group of sisters. We are a group of friends on yahoo that talk daily about everything from chocolate-stealing mice to how God blesses our socks off.
From Da Chief to my husband to my parents to my sister to my friends, God has stirred my heart this morning to be truly appreciative of relationships. They are the stuff life is made of.

What have you to say about the relationships in your life? Are you grateful and appreciative, thanking God for the people God has placed in your path? Join our host, Iris, and see what she and the other women are thankful for today. I truly believe you will walk away blessed if you do.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

What Happens When Women Walk in Faith by Lysa TerKeurst- Chapters 6 and 7

I'm late! We visited with the in-laws yesterday and I got behind on some things but I'm here NOW. Hope that's alright. Better late than never? Mea culpa!

These were awesome chapters! Let me start with some quotes that stuck out in Chapter Six and the Personal Bible Study, then I'll go on to Chapter Seven. I like to do it that way.

Chapter Six

Quotes by Lysa in blue:

My heart was filled with joy as suddenly memories filled my mind of the years of spiritual training God had taken me through to get me to the place where I could be called a woman who says yes to God. This reminds me to praise God for the trials in my life, where He's either shut doors that I've tried to force open and finally learned to let go and follow His will...

My involvement in God's perfect design began with one simple answer: Yes. Yes, God, I will embrace what You have for me. Though it's hard and doesn't even seem to make sense, I will embrace it as Your perfect design because Your ways are higher than my ways! Oh, how true! His ways are infinitely higher and His plans are always greater than we could ever plan for on our own!

Being a follower of Christ is a continual process of learning, growing, stretching and trusting. Each day we can look and listen for God's invitation to join Him in His wonderous work. It is a continual process, and though the stretching phase hurts, we can look for the joy as she mentions below.

But this life is not about me. It's about joining hands with Jesus to fulfill whatever tasks He sets before me and to share His love with all He brings my way. Don't miss the point - though the famine phase is hard, it does not have to be void of joy. Look for the joy. It is there. Answered prayers, treasures of wisdom, and the peace of God's provision are waiting for you in this phase. I learned this truth over 8 years in my life. I was in a famine phase but it was not void of joy. I found God's provision and realized that I was not in a dry and dusty desert. I was smack dab in the middle of God's lap!

Breakthroughs happen when we get about the business of honoring God moment by moment, step-by-step, day by day by what we do and, more importantly, with the thoughts we thing while we do. This is a truth, ladies. It's not just advice or encouragement or even inspiration. It's fact. I have lived this when I was in the famine of infertility. My life did not stop, praise God! My breakthroughs came in ways I never imagined, but they were breakthoughs that happened because I remained active in honoring God. As I remain active in honoring God during this phase of my faith journey, I trust that He will continue to provide the breakthroughs I long for.

Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and your plans will succeed. ~ Proverbs 16:3

God has called me to do different things in my past, but now He is calling me to do a whole new thing. To honor Him in my writing and in my life. My dream is to be published in a Christian magazine. I pray that I can lay down my self, and all the burdens, anxieties, fears, doubts, and lies of the Enemy to make it through to fulfill my dream. He tells me I'm not good enough, but God tells me differently. He says my dream can come true if I commit it to Him. (He just doesn't say when!)

"Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you." ~ 1 Peter 5:7

I'm casting it, Lord! I trust Your Word, which tells me in Proverbs 23:18, "There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off."

Chapter Seven

So I continued to pray and watch for God's answer. I would stop trying to figure it all out and simply wait for God. Oh, Lysa! How I have been there! During a previous famine after I stopped trying to figure it all out and simply wait for Him, I waited a year. I continued to pray but my prayers were more liberated, for lack of a better word.

Jesus is the way, our certain path in life, our way out of the famine. He is the truth, God's promises made real. And He is the life - the only way to live with purpose now and the only way to receive life eternal.

I can live with my limited vision, convinced that there is no way and overcome with uncertainty in my time of famine, or I can take God's hand and confidently proclaim Him to be my way. Amen! Our visions are so limited when we view them through our earthly eyes, but our Father promises to guide us and give us confidence for the journey!

I am amazed that God so freely gives His help when I ask for it. I continue to be amazed, awed, and just so hyper-aware of His love for me when He gives that help so freely. Mercy and grace abound!

During this famine phase, many people are tempted to doubt and sometimes even give up. Maybe we heard God wrong. Maybe God isn't with us. The doubts bombard us and steal our passion to press on...Don't try to make your whole dream come true at once. Just fulfill the small part of the mission He's asking you to do today. Just carry that one rock. Ask God, "What is my assignment for today?" Do that part and be satisfied that God is pleased. Be encouraged and press on! Satan tries to bombard me with all kinds of doubts. I wonder if what I write is even worth posting in a blog. I wonder if it's even worth blogging on and writing what God has laid on my heart? And then God says, "Laurie Ann, just do it. Don't feed those doubts, because if you do, they'll just grow. Starve them and believe the encouragement you receive. You're writing for Me, anyway, aren't you?" Yes, God. It's all about you, not me!

His ways are perfect. His timing is surely different than ours, and He takes us through seasons of our dreams. I look back at previous blogging attempts from before I started again, and I see that they were my own efforts, not for God. I see that I got caught up trying to write "my way" and not God's. It's so easy to forget that the success we have planned for ourselves may be a success we are living today through God's dream for us.

Lysa prompted us..."Using the concordance of your Bible, look up the word "success" or "succeed" and find out what God has to say about success. Remember to keep seeking God in all that you do, and success will follow."

Here are some of my favorite success and succeed verses:

Genesis 39:3 - "When his master saw that the LORD was with him and that the LORD gave him success in everything he did," - Joseph, when he lived in the house of the Egyptian master after his brothers sold him into slavery.

Joshua 1:6-8 - "Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their forefathers to give them. Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful." - God's encouragement to Joshua after Moses died.

1 Samuel 18:5 - "Whatever Saul sent him to do, David did it so successfully that Saul gave him a high rank in the army. This pleased all the people, and Saul's officers as well."

Ecclesiastes 10:10 - "If the ax is dull and its edge unsharpened, more strength is needed but skill will bring success."

Proverbs 16:3 - "Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and your plans will succeed."

Visit Leila, our host for Yes to God Tuesday's for more on Chapters 6 & 7.

"Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins."
~ 1 Peter 4:8~

My WFW post last week was on the Fruits of the Spirit. The first fruit of the spirit listed is "Love". One of the questions I asked myself was, "How does my garden grow?"

One thing I have learned about love is this:

"But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." - Romans 5:8

While I can't exactly go out and die for others to demonstrate my love for them (my husband would miss me too much!), I can extend the love Christ has given me to others. When He died for our sins, He removed them as far as the east is from the west. One song I love puts into perspective just how far that is..."from one scarred hand to the other."

Should I not extend that same courtesy to others? Loving them enough to remove their sin from my life? I'm talking about deep-down forgiveness. The kind where you sometimes have to love the sinner but hate the sin, the kind where sometimes you have to continue to love them from a distance and not up close. Or perhaps the offense is minor and if they're not abusive or abrasive, as I like to say, welcoming them back into the fold.

I've found the following Scriptures helpful in expressing this kind of love:

"He who covers over an offense promotes love, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends." - Proverbs 17:9

"Hatred stirs up dissension, but love covers over all wrongs." - Proverbs 10:12

One thing that might help me in this is having a council of 2 or 3 people (one will be my spouse) who are very close to me. I make sure that they know I am not gossiping or trying to change their opinion of the person, but if I just have to vent, I can do it safely. They will be able to pray with me about it and help me tend the Love row of my garden.

Wish me luck! Delving into cultivating my garden is an experience, I tell you. I have found that Christ has given me more opportunities to grow lately than I have ever had before. Growing kind of hurts, it stretches my branches, I guess. But it's a good means I'm growing fruit!

Again, my prayer is:

Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. - Psalm 139:23-24
Be sure to visit the host of 160AcreWoods for more Word Filled Wednesday's. God will surely bless you through these inspired posts, where Scripture and pictures are used in sharing God's Word for our lives.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

“Being unwanted, unloved, uncared for, forgotten by everybody, I think that is a much greater hunger, a much greater poverty than the person who has nothing to eat… We must find each other.”~Mother Teresa~

This statement breaks my heart. Literally makes it ache. I think about how many people in my life who know they are wanted, loved, cared for and not forgotten. I'm one of them. My plate is full.
Full of what?
Love. Love is what's needed to heal these broken and hungry people mentioned above.
I've heard that love is a verb. More than that, though, it's a commandment.
1 John 4:21 - And He has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.
Would you consider volunteering for a few hours one weekend in a homeless shelter, a battered women's home or the like? I would. In fact, I have considered it for a while. It's time for the feet of my heart to hit the pavement, though. I did it once during Katrina. I need to keep doing it.
Matthew 25:45 - "He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.'
Father, let me extend to others the love You, my family and friends have extended to me. Make my good intentions reality, Lord. Give me a heart of compassion that sees people the way You see them. In loving them, I am serving You.
Please visit this week's host of In Other Words Tuesday's to read more on this topic.

Monday, July 28, 2008

"Do not let your adornment be merely outward - arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel - rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God." ~ 1 Peter 3:3-4 (NKJV)

How much time does it take you each day to "adorn" yourself outwardly? I don't know what the statistics say, but I'm the quickest of the mini-poll I took among a few friends - 20 minutes max. Those are the days that don't include hair washing and shaving. When my bonus daughter was a teen, she weighed in at over an hour and a half. Minimum!

Looking my best is important to me when I go to work. I may have meetings to attend or meet new people. The main person I want to look my best for is my husband, though. While we don't work together, he drops me off for work and I want that image to stick with him for the day. I love it when he says, "You look nice today, babe."

"Do not let your adornment be merely outward..." reminds me that while it's okay to look my best, it's not to be my whole focus. One meaning of merely is "altogether or entirely.

The subject of my post, though, is the latter part of the verse. The one that talks about where inner beauty comes from. One definition of adornment says, "to make more pleasing, attractive, impressive, etc.; enhance". We need to take special care to adorn our our hearts, sisters.

How much time do we spend adorning our hearts, making them pleasing, attractive, and impressive to God? How do we put on the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit? Do we give equal time to cultivating outward and inward beauty?

What's the key to finding the balance in outward and inward adornment? We should definitely put in most of our time pursuing the latter. "...which is very precious in the sight of God."

What does a gentle and quiet spirit look like? It's a heart that's submissive, compassionate, loving, tenderhearted, and courteous. One that doesn't repay evil for evil but looks for ways to bless, keeps it's tongue from evil and lies, and seeks peace and pursues it.

1 Peter 3:5 - "For in this manner, in former times, the holy women who trusted in God also adorned themselves, being submissive to their own husbands,"

1 Peter 3:8-12 - "Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous; not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing. For “He who would love life And see good days, Let him refrain his tongue from evil, And his lips from speaking deceit. Let him turn away from evil and do good; Let him seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the LORD are on the righteous, And His ears are open to their prayers; But the face of the LORD is against those who do evil.”

Heart to Heart Reflections: How much time do you devote to putting on your outward beauty vs. cultivating your inner beauty? One thing I have committed to do is that if it takes me 20 minutes to get dressed, I'm going to spend 20 minutes in God's Word. I'm going to put my Bible by my vanity and put Him on as my Foundation before I even start my make-up, in fact. Will you join me in this challenge?

Heartbeat: Proverbs 31:30 - Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Lori, at I Will Take It, Lord, All You Have to Give, is the host of this week's Women at the Well topic. Her topic is on raising godly boys.

I don't have children of my own, but was blessed to raise a bonus daughter from age 6 to 20. After she married, she has made me Nonnie to a precious little one named Nolan, who is 11 months old. She is also carrying Liam, who will put in his appearance November 1, if not before. Probably mid-October...

One of the Scriptures Lori chose was "Similarly, encourage the young men to be self-controlled. In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.Titus 2:6-8"

I love this and will do my best to encourage them! Self-control is hard to teach an 11 month old. When I say, "No No!" and pick him up to head him away from an electrical outlet, all his little body knows to do is flail like a fish on a hook and go, "AAAAHHHH!" I just want to grab him up and smother him with kisses and say that Nonnie is so mean but she loves him. Instead of soothing him, I plop him down on the floor and let him be mad for a second. I know when he gets older we'll have to work on that self-control!

I look so forward to seeing what the other women are talking about at the Well this week. Head over to Lori's and join in...!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

What would be the title of a book about your life?

I thought about this for a while. My title would be "Heartbeats for God...A Study on Irregular and Regular Arrhythmia".
The book would walk you through my life, full of irregular heartbeats and bring you into the chapter of my testimony, where I was saved. It would take you through the growing pains as I learned to seek my Savior and make my heart beat in tune with His.
And this is what my book would be about...
Psalm 23

A psalm of David.
The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters,
he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil,
for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.
Please visit the Internet Cafe and participate in this blessing...and also read what the other ladies have to say as well. You will be blessed, indeed!

I've been tagged by Lea at

Six things about me you don't know...

1. I have a serious phobia of elephants. When I was in 5th grade, my father took me and his oldest daughter to the zoo. We were standing there, watching the elephants, and I guess something spooked one. He raised up, putting his front legs up on the inside of the fence and then blew his trunk, blasting a trumpeting sound so loud that it sent me running. My dad found me 10 or 15 minutes later cowering like a sissy in the bathroom. They wanted to finish the tour but no way, no how. I latched on to my daddy's leg and he saw I wasn't letting go. Took my hysterical self home and on to the emergency room for a shot of something to calm me down. It scared me *that* badly! To this day, they are seriously my worst nightmare.

2. I love bread like most people love chocolate. I could live off rolls, biscuits or crackers. Except whole grain breads or breads with visible seeds. That icks me out.

3. I have amazing beginner's luck. The first time I try something, I triumph. I don't know why. It is what it is. But the talent usually doesn't stick with me. It's only at the beginning.

4. I re-read some books the way people watch their favorite movies over and over. I especially love series books like the Yada Yada Prayer Group and Left Behind, Love Comes Softly, etc. I feel as though I know these people and to re-read the books are like reconnecting with old friends.

5. I don't remember a lot of my childhood or adolescence due to emotional and verbal abuse and constant fear I lived in regarding above-mentioned father. When he was good, he was good, but he's an alcholic (a recovered one now.) It bothers me that I don't remember, but I'm told by my doctor that it's the brain's safety mechanism. Mother is very evasive about it and will not fill in many of my gaps when I've asked. It's for my own good, I suppose. That's okay with me for now.

6. I smoke. Cigarettes. Not crack or anything like that. But cigarettes are bad enough. God is dealing with me strongly about it and I am very close to making a decision to stop smoking for good.

As Lea said, "Rules are: Tag more people and keep passin it on...."

I'm tagging:

Twinkle Mom at Sunflower Faith
Pam at Beyond the Red Door
Melly at Mini Pauses
Denise at Shortybear's Place
Dawn at Whispers of the Morning
You - go forth and Tag 6 people if you aren't on the list

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Chapter Four
What Happens When Women Walk in Faith

Some quotes that stood out to me (all from Lysa TerKeurst, of course).

Walking with God will indeed take you to amazing places - but it won't always be where you thought you wanted to go, and the road won't always be easy.

We must choose to leave first. We must see by faith the
rewards ahead and then move toward them.

During the time of famine we will have to dig deep,, drawing our sustenance from God's Word.

Remember, this journey will be a lot less about the places He eventually takes you and much more about the relationship He establishes with you along the way. He wants us to communicate with Him every day through every thought,
every step, every victory, every defeat, every question, and every assurance.

This believing time is vital, for it will carry us through other tough times to come. It will remind us, assure us, comfort us, and motivate us that God is to be trusted through every circumstance - even the coming death phase.

Our heart must beat in tandem with His. The only way for that to happen is for us to constantly take our dream to Him with open hands and willingly declare, "Yours. Yours. Yours!"

Our job is not to figure it all out, manipulate it into being, make the contacts, guard it fiercely, and stake an unwavering claim on it. God started it. God is faithful and more than able. God will finish it.

Or did He trust that if God allowed the dream to die, He would certainly resurrect it as well? God provided a ram as the sacrifice for Abraham, and He provides it for each one of us as well.

Our greatest satisfaction will come when we stand in awe at what God accomplishes as we simply walk in faith.

Leaving the old behind and being willing to move into God's best for me and my dream as I journey through faith is hard. There are things I want to hang on to, but it's all about trust. I trust God enough to provide for the sacrifice of the things I leave behind. Old habits, fears, an aquaintance who is holding me back....I trust God and commit to walk in faith with Him as I pursue the calling He's drawing me toward.

I will step out with a new heart and a new faith, a fresh vision from God and run toward His arms, holding my dream way out in my Him.

Chapter Five

Some quotes that stood out to me (all from Lysa TerKeurst, of course).

"In this new place of sacrifice and surrender, God will take you outside your comfort zone, and you'll learn to depend on Him like never before."

"The more we really believe the truths God calls us to believe, the more we will take chances with God. We can press through the pains of the famine and find comfort in knowing that God has a good plan even in our discomfort."

"Something in us wants to believe that God could have great thrings in store for us too."

"When we are willing to embark on a life that requires faith, we are more aware of God and His ability to provide for us in every detail of our lives."

"Faith is learned through life."

"If we live our lies unaware of God in the small things, we're probably living unaware of His presence in the big things as well. How vitally important it is for us to surrender our hearts to God and ask Him daily to reveal His plans and perspectives to us so we don't miss His activity and His glorious plans for our future."

In the Personal Bible Study section, I read Psalm 15 and Psalm 24:3-6. As Lysa said, "These two Psalms reveal some of the character qualities God looks for in His people. Those these qualities are not possible in our fleshly nature, with God we can aspire to be righteous because He is at work within us." In reading 1 Samuel 16:7, I was reminded how God looks at our hearts, even though man looks on our outward appearance. How often do I look at my outward appearance or my "self"ish actions, rather than making sure that my heart is in tune with God, striving to be beautiful and full of willingness to stretch my faith for Him? I try. I fall short, but praise God for His grace and His spurring me on through godly men and women, His Word, and His Holy Spirit.

After we've left the things behind we need to in order to press forward toward the faith God is calling us to, we often go through the season of famine. I praise God that I know I won't be left there, but there are lessons to be learned in the famine. For me, it's a time when I'm pushed to rely on what I do have, not what I am lacking. What I never lack is Jesus. He is always at work within me, and uses this season to grow me toward the dream He has placed in my heart.

May I spend my time wisely and seek His face during this time. May I look toward His blessings and the hope for the future.

Head on over to Leila's blog to see what the other women doing this study are saying. You will be blessed, indeed!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Proverbs 22:6 - Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

This week I'm thankful for family. This picture was taken last Christmas and shows five (5) generations! My grandmother raised my mother, standing behind her, to be a godly Christian woman. Momma raised me the same way. I raised my bonus daughter from age 6 the same way Maw Maw and Momma were raised and now that precious baby she is holding is learning, even at 10 months old, "the way he should go..."
None of us have departed from the faith we were taught.
I'm grateful for each generation represented here and for the timeless truths that have been handed down. From 86 to 10 months old, we all believe in God. I'm so thankful I was taught God's love for me and eventually came to know Him as my personal Savior and Lord. I'm praying Baby Nolan will, too, as well as the Little Liam, still in Kristyn's womb.
I'm thankful for other things this week, too, don't get me wrong. Just kind of wanted to focus on that today. That and air conditioning. It is hot in Mississippi, ya'll!
Please visit Iris, the host of Thankful Thursday, and be blessed by those who so freely share their hearts full of gratitude on this day.

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness,
faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law."
- Galatians 5:22-23

I believe that authentic Christians bear fruit. The fruit of the Spirit is manifested in them and is evident in their lives. In their...









A good gauge for determining levels of authenticity in my own life is to ask myself these questions, "How does my garden grow? Which fruits do I see myself needing to bear more of?"

Consistent lack of fruit would indicate some warning flags need be thrown up. I think that there are seasons in our own lives where we don't manifest the full fruits we need to, but I do think it's important to try.

Let's check where we are and look to the the Vine.

"I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he
will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." - John 15:5
God is always faithful to restore us and He longs to see us bearing fruit in our lives. God will bless the work of our hands for Him and enable us to bear fruit in Him. What fruits are you bearing an abundance of? What fruits are you lacking?

Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious
thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way
everlasting. - Psalm 139:23-24
Be sure to visit the host of 160AcreWoods for more Word Filled Wednesday's. God will surely bless you through these inspired posts, where Scripture and pictures are used in sharing God's Word for our lives.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Chelsey is this week's host of "In Other Words Tuesdays". Please visit her blog to be abundantly blessed by what the other women have written on the following quote...

“We, as women, think of ourselves as mothers, teachers, nurses and so on, but God says that we are builders. We usually relegate this role to the men, but we are building with something far greater than brick and timber.” By Nancy Campbell, The Power of Motherhood: What the Bible Says About Mothers

Me? A *woman* builder? Gender lines are often crossed in today's culture, blurred, in fact. Still, when I think of builders, I think of men.

What in the world have I built in my lifetime? What did I use to build it?

As I've worked to build my home over the past 17 years, I realize that there are instructions on how I should have built it in the Bible. Fortunately, I know that now, but I didn't know it throughout the early years of my marriage.

I was spiritually immature, but I built. Through the years I built and built...

A legacy of faith begun in grace, founded in Christ alone. It was built with love, joy, tears, prayer, hope, patience, gentleness, persistence, effort and time. Trial and error, encouragement, knowledge and wisdom.

Was it successful? Don't know. I'm still building. Rather, God is still building through me.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Brilliante Weblog Award

A great day for awards! God bless Dawn, from Whispers of the Morning for sending this award my way. I am too surprised, humbled and blessed! Dawn has a great blog. She's so sweet, full of hope, encouragement and inspiration. And she's from Mississippi, too!

I'm passing this one on to:

1. Hope for Each Day
2. Sunflower Faith
3. At Shores End

Pass it on, friends, and be blessed...

Kind Blogger Award 2008

God has blessed me tremendously through blogging. I have learned not only how to share my heartbeat for God with others, but how to hear the Savior's heartbeat through the blogs of some women who live to serve Him.

Melanie, from The Fruits of the Spirit blog, has blessed me with a Kind Blogger Award 2008. She had sweet things to say about my blog and I think it's just precious that someone who deserves like the Biggest Blog Award ever would even think of me when passing this award on. Melanie's blog is great, ya'll. It's full of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control...all the fruits of the spirit! My heart is always re-fueled when I visit her blog. I pray you'll pop over and pay her a visit.

I'm going to share this award with others, too. Here are some blogs that reflect God's love in their everyday lives. They're written by ladies who have a heart for God and for serving Him.

1. Thirsty for Him
2. Joyfully Living for His Glory
3. Write From the Heart
4. Forever His
5. Whispers of the Morning

I've really enjoyed the blessings that come from these blogs, and I know you will, too. Visit each one, and listen for God's heartbeat. You'll hear it.

At The Well is a new meme hosted by Chelsey. Each Monday we'll discuss topics connecting Titus 2 to today's world. Oh, how I hope you'll join in the discussion.

Today's discussion question is: What does being a Titus 2 woman mean to you?

"Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God." Titus 2:3-5

The older ladies had to be taught how to live so they could teach the younger ones. Having mentors is important. Back in the day, the women at the well connected, I suppose like we do in our life groups or Sunday School classes. While they were busy at work and likely didn't have time for coffee at the well, they did have time to chat as they drew water for their needs at home.

To me, being a Titus 2 woman means incorporating the admonitions in the verses above into my daily life, weaving them into the fabric of my being and hopefully passing on what I've learned to others younger than I. I can do this through example, through writing, through speaking and the like. The most effective way I've learned to lead is by example, and it's one of the best ways that I'm taught. I love good teaching, don't get me wrong, but my prayer is that as I see women put "self-control" and "loving their husbands" and "kindness" into action that it spur me on to imitate this behavior until it becomes as natural as my heartbeat.

What does being a Titus 2 woman mean to you? Visit Chelsey's site and do the Mr. Linky thing and see what other women have to say.

Friday, July 18, 2008

I love this song. It's been on my heart tonight. Saturday is my sister's baby shower so I should be full of praise and excitement, and I am. It's going to be a great day of celebration for the anticipation of little Ethan's arrival. Showering her and her husband with gifts for the arrival, visiting with family...I'm thrilled that I'm getting to see my sister live her dream. She's always wanted a baby, and has had the first name for a boy and a girl picked out since she was playing with dolls herself. I prayed for this pregnancy from the time I lost Sydney. Since Jenn was 15 years old, I prayed she wouldn't be burdened with infertility, and she hasn't. God is truly a merciful God and a wonderful God. I love Him so much and am committed to living a life of continued faith in Him.

So why this song? Sunday will be hard for me. It will mark 10 years since Sydney Michel was born into Heaven. Where have the years gone? The pain has lessened, praise God, and I'm confident that God's plan is still perfect, but it's those milestone years that leave me melancholy. The first year was hard. I did great until the 5th and 6th years, the years she would have been starting school. My 10th birthday was exciting for me, because I had lived a "whole decade". I have 3 decades behind me now and am headed toward my 4th decade at a rapid pace. Another milestone. I've grown since then, so maybe it won't be as sad as it has in years past? One can hope.

God reminds me that He brings us to mountaintops of praise and valley's of hurt through many different ways. I'm praising God for the health of Jennifer and her baby and mourning the loss of my own. I'm praising God for good health for Momma and Melanie, and my uncle (their brother) is going through treatment for cancer. He started his treatment tonight, after jumping through insurance hoops to get it approved. He takes 2 pills a day for I'm not sure how long. Right now he is cancer-free after brain surgery to remove the malignant melanoma that returned from a year ago, which returned then from 21 years ago. How long will he be cancer-free? He's got one foot on the mountaintop, praising God, and one in the valley, wondering if he'll get to see his 7 year old twin boys grow up. God is faithful, though. He will do what He will do, and I will keep praising Him no matter what. His plans are always to prosper us and not to harm us, to give us a hope and a future. Whether that future is here on earth or in Heaven, He decides, and I'm learning to accept that His ways are not my ways and they are always for the best, through tears of joy or sadness. He is still God.

So...regardless of whether I'm on the mountaintop or in the valley, I proclaim this song:

The pathway is broken
And the signs are unclear
And I don't know the reason why
You brought me here
But just because You love me the way that You do
I'm gonna walk through the valley
If You want me to


Cause I'm not who I was
When I took my first step
And I'm clinging to the promise
You're not through with me yet
So if all of these trials bring me closer to you
Then I will go through the fire
If You want me to

It may not be the way I would have chosen
When you lead me through a world that's not my home
But You never said it would be easy
You only said I'd never go alone

So When the whole world turns against me
And I'm all by myself
And I can't hear You answer my cries for help
I'll remember the suffering
Your love put You through
And I will go through the darkness
If You want me to

When I cross over Jordan,
I'm gonna sing, gonna shout
Gonna look into your eyes and see
You never let me down
So take me on the pathway that leads me home to you
And I will walk through the valley if you want me to
Yes, I will walk through the valley if you want me to

And now I am feeling very confident, very assured that God will see me through. Tomorrow my focus will be on what God is allowing to happen, Jennifer and her very pregnant self being honored, Jimmy trying to come to the shower (it's a family cookout) if he's not having any negative side effects from his treatment and my wonderful family, for which I am blessed. Hmmm...maybe I should have chosen "Shout to the Lord" for my song.
Please visit the other TSMS Saturday's, hosted by Amy, by clicking here or on the button at the top of the page.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

God bless Iris for hosting this wonderful meme. Every day is a great day to be thankful to God, but Thursday's have gotten really special to me lately...I love Thankful Thursday's. Pop on over to her place by visiting the link on the button at the top of this page and see what she and the other ladies who are participating are thankful for. You will surely be blessed!

The verse Irene chose is this:

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own
understanding.”~ Proverbs 3:5 (ESV)"
My main trust is in God alone. If I tried to get by own my own understanding I would end up as putty on the floor. I just couldn't move, or if I did I'd probably go down a drain or something. I'd be that bad without Him. I trust Him in the big decisions as well as the small. I fail, as you can see from my WFW post below, but I dust myself off and try again. I'm learning to trust on Him more and more often, though.

I'm so thankful that I know God and that I can trust in God. There are others I trust on earth, my husband Steve, Mother, my sister, my best friend, the WOW Gals, assorted family and friends.

I'm thankful for lots more this week, too.

~ My sister has about a month to go in her pregnancy and she's doing great. God is to be praised! Ethan should be born August 19. ~

~ I'm thankful for Brooke, my cousin, who is helping me host a baby shower for her next Saturday at my grandmother's house. I could NOT do it on my own. Brooke rocks. She's so creative and has been a huge blessing to me. ~

~ God bailed me out of a bad decision and didn't make the consequences too terribly bad. He is to be praised, indeed! ~

~ God led me to Kelley at Aroma of Joy, who designed a beautiful blog for me. I love it. I thank God for her - she's awesome, and her blog has really blessed me. ~

~ My uncle had some tests done that were clean - no sign of cancer in his body anywhere. He starts his treatment this week, if it came in, so please pray for minimal side effects. He will take 2 pills every day at home. ~

~ God has given me the opportunity to meet some wonderful ladies on-line. I am going through a spiritual growth spurt because of the wisdom of this wonderful blogging community. It's exciting, a little scary, and fun! I have grown closer to Christ because of ya'll. Thank God and thank you. ~

~ I still thank God for air-conditioning, though I'll only mention it once this week. Ya'll, it is HOT in Mississippi! ~

~ Finally, I'm thankful for my husband. He is such a trooper! I had a hysterectomy 8 years ago but still have my ovaries. About three times a year, just out of the blue, they decide to lay eggs or something and my hormones get the best of me. My nerves have been frayed for the last 2 days and I have PMS worse than I've ever had before. He has been so sweet to me. I'm thinking he'd prefer to slip me a mickey but he just goes right alone, acting like my weird mood is normal. Yeah, that was probably TMI, but I'm truly thankful he hasn't gotten bent out of shape at my being out of sorts. I have cried more in the last 2 days than I have in the last 2 years. ~

Now, go read other Thankful Thursday's while I go find the kleenex while I continue to thank God and cry for all that He's given me. I am blessed.

Proverbs 21:2 All a man's ways seem right to him, but the LORD weighs the heart.

I'm reminded that when I seek the counsel of the Lord, He will guide me in the way I should go. I can plan and plan but if my motives aren't pure, if I haven't sought the Lord, I will wind up way off the paved road and onto a desolate dirt road.

I did this recently and it caught up with me. Fortunately, the consequences are something I can live with, but it was a valuable lesson learned. If I had sought the Lord in planning what I was doing I wouldn't have gotten so far off the beaten path.

I realized what I had done, committed my ways to Him and asked Him to examine my heart and lead me back to where I should begin again from. He did and it all worked out for His glory. Next time I will seek Him first!

I love Word-Filled Wednesday! Please visit the host of this wonderful meme at and be sure to go see what other participants posted. It's always a blessing.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

What Happens When Women Walk in Faith

Chapter Three - God Has a Plan

We're reading What Happens When Women Walk in Faith by Lysa TerKeurst. This book is amazing. Leila at Write from the Heart is hosting the study. I would encourage you to please join in. Pop over and visit her and see what the other women are saying. It's a great book, definitely inspired by God. Lysa TerKeurst writes with a passion to see women serving Christ while living out their dream. She's showing us how to "Walk in Faith". It's awesome, ya'll!

Here are a few quotes from this chapter that really made me go, "Ahh..." The whole chapter was great, but obviously I can't type the whole chapter.

"I always thought to be in ministry meant painting the facade that I was perfect. Only then would I be a qualified servant of God. I quickly learned that people aren't impressed with fake perfection - they're turned off and intimidated by it!"

"So I tried to force the dream to come true with my own formula, and it failed miserably."

"God's plan was perfect, and when I left my plans behind, God let me participate in His. Looking back, I wouldn't have wanted it any other way."

Galatians 3:6-9 - "Consider Abraham: "He believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness." Understand, then, that those who believe are children of Abraham. The Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: "All nations will be blessed through you." So those who have faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith."

Abraham loved God, walked with God, and believed God's plan for His life. Abraham had to leave some things behind and press forward on faith, following God's plans, and not one single plan of God's failed. I always thought Abraham was a pretty good guy, but he was not perfect. When Sarah offered Hagar (her maidservant) to him to start a family, Abraham could have said no. He wasn't perfect, but God still blessed him, though it was in God's time and not Abraham's. I have to remember that I don't need to be perfect to serve God either. I can live my dream, warts and all. God uses some of my weaknesses to actually provide material for writing. If I can minister to one person because of them, I count myself blessed and highly favored. The glory belongs to the Lord! In my weaknesses His grace is made perfect.

Revelation 3:7-8 - "To the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: These are the words of him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David. What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open. I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name."

Lysa asks, "What do the sheep find when they walk through Jesus' door? How does this encourage you?"

Christ, who is holy and true. I remain encouraged by knowing that as I walk through the doorway of this dream I'm pursuing that it's His door and His plans are the best for me. May I, in my small strength, keep God's Word and never deny His name. May I claim His promises and not pass up His plans for me while I'm in working toward walking in stronger faith as I live this dream of mine. If I ever step out on my own strength, I pray God would knock me to my knees.

Oh, how I praise God for this last section in the Personal Bible Study. God's plans are always best!

One of the verses listed is Palms 113:9 - "He settles the barren woman in her home as a happy mother of children. Praise the LORD." Lysa writes, "God has placed you exactly where you are according to His purposes."

It's no great secret that I was barren. Barren. Eight year, no child. After years of infertility drugs and prayer I got pregnant. Miscarried. I do not say that to whine or illicit sympathy. It was a horrible time in my life and I was a train wreck when that happened, but it will be 10 years ago on the 20th of this month. God has healed me remarkably since then. Still no baby. But because I was obedient to Him and walked in faith that His will was good for my life, I reaped the reward of this:

I am a bonus mom. Steve had custody of Kristyn when we met and she was 6 when we married. I raised her with Steve and when she was 20 she married her husband. I had the pleasure of being a "mother" for all those years. Now my baby is married and has produced off-spring. Nolan is our 10 month old grandson. There is another grandson, Liam, due November 1. (They wasted no time, LOL!) My sister is pregnant with my first biological nephew and will deliver August 19 unless Ethan decides to arrive earlier.

I said all that to say, "I am living that verse!" God has settled me in my home as the happy "mother" of children. I have one child in Heaven that I cannot wait to see, but I cannot focus on Sydney Michel every second of every day. God has made me look around to see what He has blessed me with. He knew before I was formed in my mother's womb that I would never bear children of my own. Me praying for 8 solid years, every morning, did not come as a surprise to Him. He knew the plans He had for me. Now He has given me children running out my ears.

I trust Him with His plans for my life. I trust Him to bring my dreams to reality in His time.

When I started this study, I said I didn't know the dream God had for me. I know it now. My dream is to serve God through writing. Writing in this blog is my first step.

Monday, July 14, 2008

“When we are set free from the bondage of pleasing others,when we are free from currying others approval-then no one will be able to make us miserable or dissatisfied. And then, if we know we have pleased God, contentment will be our consolation. ~Kay Arthur-

Oh, to be free from approval addiction! I'm 37 years old and although I know the principles of knowing that God is the only one I really *have* to please, I struggle with being shackled to the need to please others.

Yes, it stems from childhood abuse - emotional and verbal, the perks of being the daughter an alcholic father and a mother who just couldn't bring herself to get out.

For the most part, I am unscathed and make it okay in this world I live in. Growing up in Christ has freed me from so much. However, when it comes to my father, I am still a little girl and I find myself unable to just totally stand up for myself. If I do, I lose the approval.

It does spill over into other parts of my life, but more often than not, I've been able to reconcile it and be comfortable and content just being the daughter of the King. God keeps me centered. He drives me to dust myself off when I go through the battles of approval addiction with my earthly father, or others, and reminds me that He loves me. He spurs me on, promising that He will never ask more of me than I can possibly give or demand what I am unable to offer. He reminds me that my love for Him is enough, that my work for Him, although there's always room for improvement, is at least work for Him.

I think we should strive to please others, to live at peace with them and have a servant attitude. I do not think we should become a doormat, unable to say no, unable to be at peace in our hearts, wondering what someone thinks of us because we did this or didn't do that. It's a fine balance. What's the key?

If we are seeking to please others without Christ being at the root of the attitude we are doing the deed with, we need to evaluate why we're doing it in the first place. In other words, what's our motive? Once we get our motive right, we can be free from the misery and dissatisfaction when the ones we are trying to please don't offer that approval.

We need to seek God's approval when we are serving man and make sure Christ is our reason for the actual serving, then the approval we get from God will overshadow the dismissal we get from others.

Thus, contentment.

I admit that I've got many miles to go in practicing what I am writing here. I look forward to reading what everyone else wrote on this subject. It's one that I'm highly interested in, as you can imagine. Denise is hosting In Other Words Tuesday today. Click here to visit...Shortybear's Place.


Through the Oppression

One of the definitions of oppression is "the feeling of being heavily burdened, mentally or physically, by troubles, adverse conditions, anxiety, etc."

There are times in our lives where Satan has placed us under such heavy spiritual oppression, perhaps with temptation or doubt, that it's hard to fight our way back to the top and see God's hand reaching out to pull us into His stronghold. Other oppression may come in the form of an illness or accidental injury, perhaps even in the form of the loss of a baby or loved one. Also, it could come in the form of depression or other mental illness, etc.

I have a friend who's sister was diagnosed with cancer this weekend. It seems that there are so many people I know or know of who have this dreadful disease. Talk about oppression! Their oppression, my oppression...Oppression seems to abound.

Regardless of the type oppression we face, God has provided us with instruction and hope in His Word.

Psalm 9:9-10 - The LORD is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you.

How often do we keep running on our own, just getting from one moment to the next and thinking we'll muddle through somehow? In times of trouble we are reminded that God is our refuge. No matter what, we have God. Our Father longs to be the One we turn to first. As a refuge and a stronghold, He provides shelter in the storms of life.

What is a refuge? I looked in the lexicon on and found that a refuge is more than just a shelter. The Hebrew word for refuge is "BgXm". Now, that word just *looks* safe, doesn't it, ya'll? The phrase that came to my mind when I saw that was "Big Cross Man." Bet God's never been called *that* before, but I say it lovingly and with utmost reverence. It's written "Misgab" and pronounced "mis-gawb' " It means high place, refuge, secure height, retreat stronghold.

This holds so much promise for me. It reminds me of the promise of God's high place in Heaven, His throne. It reminds me of the promise of His security and that I can retreat to Him.

Strongholds in David's time were usually high up and were fortified. They were strong. They were towers. The righteous ran into them and were safe. David hid in many during his years on the run from Saul's pursuit.

Where are the strongholds in our lives? Where are these refuges? Is there a special map on how to get to them? Is there a special key to unlock the door to get in once you find them?

Although I have what I consider safe places, places such as my home, my husband's arms, my Daddy's presence, my office at work, my one true Stronghold is in my heart. Because I know His name and trust in Him, I know my Savior is always there, ready to protect me. He is Able. He is my Defender and my Strength. He is always present and all I have to do to unlock the door to His Stronghold is trust in Him and call on His name. It's faith - trusting Him to be all those things.

It's one thing to have the faith, to say, "Okay. God you are my stronghold." That phrase doesn't take cancer away, it doesn't bring babies back. What does it do? It helps us deal with the oppression in a Christ-like manner, and reminds us that God is there for us. Let's put the faith into action in a way that we can tangibly see it.

Regardless of what type oppression we face, we must first seek God. The minute we call on His name, we speak His victory over whatever our oppression is stemming from. We run into His arms and into His Stronghold. We are safe. Lamentations 3:25 - "The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him;"

When we are in the Stronghold and safe, second, we pray. We spend time in His Word, we seek His guidance, we honor Him with praise and trust Him to keep us strong. Philippians 4:6-7 - "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."

Third, we stay in the Stronghold, not giving in to doubt, fear or anxiety. Remaining close to God, we are reminded of His truth, righteousness and ability to relieve our oppression. Philippians 4:19 - "And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus."

Resting in His stronghold gives us time to rely on God to fix what we know we cannot fix on our own. God is so Able. Able to heal, able to know what is best for His plan, able to calm us, and able to give us peace for the journey we are on.

Psalm 91:1 - "He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty."
What a precious promise. As I abide in God's stronghold, I am comforted by the fact that our God is bigger than any oppression we face. He's bigger than cancer. I have seen Him work miracles in our family and in others, and have seen Him provide grace and peace throughout the illnessness of those I love, and in the lives of their family members as well.

Whatever your oppression is, I encourage you to run to the Stronghold. Claim these verses and these promises for yourself and your family. Trust God to deal with the oppression in a way that only He can. Victoriously, no matter what.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

New Look

Kelley, from Aroma of Joy, has designed a new blog look for me. Thanks for all the compliments on it. It's beautiful, isn't it? I absolutely love it.

I wanted to give credit where credit is due, though. Everyone give Kelley a round of applause, and give God a hand of praise for her amazing talent and sweet sharing spirit.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

This song is so full of promise and hope. I love it. It suits my mood perfectly for today and I wanted to share it with ya'll, to let you know what I've been humming softly all day long, just praising God for His redemption plan and for Christ not only giving His life for me but rising from the dead. To visit more TSMS Saturday's, click here...Thanks so much, Amy, for bringing this blessing into my life and for hosting this meme each week.

Love Crucified Arose

Long ago He blessed the earth
Born older than the years
And in the stall a cross He saw
Through the first of many tears
A life of homeless wandering
Cast out in sorrow's way
The Shepherd seeking for the lost
His life, the price He paid
Love crucified, arose
The Risen One in splendor
Jehovah soul Defender
Has won the victory
Love crucified, arose
And the grave became a place of hope
For the heart that sin and sorrow broke
Is beating once again
Throughout Your life You felt the weight
Of what You'd come to give
To drink for us that crimson cup
So we might really live
At last the time to love and die
The dark appointed day
That one forsaken moment
When Your Father turned His face away
Love crucified, arose
The One who lived the died for me
Was Satan's nail-pierced casualty
Now He's breathing once again
Love crucified, arose
And the grave became a place of hope
For the heart that sin and sorrow broke
Is beating once again
Love crucified, arose
The Risen One in splendor
Jehovah soul defender
Has won the victory
Love crucified, arose
And the grave became a place of hope
for the heart that sin and sorrow broke
Is beating once again
Love crucified, arose
The One who lived and died for me
Was Satan's nail-pierced casualty
Now He's breathing once again