Thursday, June 22, 2017

The Lord is Trustworthy - A Prayer

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.
Proverbs 3:5-7

Lord,
Thank You for being trustworthy. I praise You and lift up Your holy name to be honored and glorified throughout the earth. Thank You for being a loving guide. Your love, wisdom, grace, and mercy go beyond my comprehension. Your faithfulness abounds. Your shelter and protection never fail. Let me never forget who You are. Continue to teach me more about You. Forgive me when I allow other things to pull my gaze off of You and distract me from the details of Your plan for my life. Help me to not trust in or act based on my own understanding. Forgive me when I don't acknowledge You. You alone are worthy of all praise! Give me the strength to turn away from all evil. Let it not get as much as a toe-hold in my life. Let me not compromise or be complacent. Help me to be committed to the things You've called me to do and love well those You place in my life. Let every day of my life be filled with service and love.
Amen.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

A Closer Walk

Do you ever feel like there's something holding you back from a closer walk with the Lord? I think everyone I know on the journey of faith has felt a barrier at some point. I most certainly have.

As I've moved along my journey, I've seen a variety of things inhibit digging deeper in my faith, growing more mature, and becoming more intimate with Jesus. One of those things is our very own sin. Another can be life challenges. Ignorance of Biblical truth is yet another. And one that I've noticed more and more is deceptions:

* About what the Bible actually says
* About who God really is
* About our standing without faith
* About what faith adds to our lives
* About how our relationship with God is to impact our lives

When we're talking about eternity, these things are essential. Yet, even those of us who have entered into a relationship with God through faith in Jesus can also be deceived and robbed of an authentic, vibrant, abundant life here on earth. We can also miss the great blessing of sharing the gospel with and seeing others come to faith.

This particular adventure and endeavor is to tackle many of the myths that Christians have integrated into our thinking. These myths negatively affect our faith walk and by busting them, we will also bust down barriers to drawing deeper in our relationship with the Lord.

A bit scary, but better than the best roller coaster or vacation in the world, it will lead to peace, joy, and transformation that will outshine the sun.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

God and Your Journey

One thing that I absolutely love about social media is the opportunities to access encouragement throughout the day. I know it depends on who your friends are, but I have very strategically placed almost all positive people in my social media sphere. And it benefits me greatly!

However, once in a while I come across a saying or platitude that's meant to encourage but in reality drives me crazy. This is usually because it's not grounded in biblical truth. It may sound good, make us feel good, but if it isn't based on scripture (accurately), it's worthless and may even be damaging.

I came across one of these sayings today. Someone posted something to the effect of: "Don't forget, God is with you on your journey."

This sounds so encouraging! But it fosters a wedge between us and God. It is based on the premise that the journey is ours and God's just hanging out, along for the ride. Yet that's not His greatest desire for us. Or what's best for us.

His best for us is for us to be completely and totally surrendered to His will. He wants to be the guide on our journey, not the passenger. And wouldn't we want the all-knowing, perfectly-loving, ever-faithful Lord to lay out our steps for us? 

So, yes, God is with you! But not for your journey. He is with you to lead you into a life beyond what you could imagine or steer yourself into on your own.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Is God Enough?

Have you ever asked the question: "Is God enough?"
My first reaction to this question is: "Of course He is!"
However, every time I choose my own way instead of surrendering to His way, my actions show that I'm not really sure God's enough.

     * Is He really enough to carry my pain?
     * Is He really enough to change my loved ones?
     * Is He really enough to be in charge of how I spend every minute of every day?
     * Is He really enough to lead me right every time, all the time?
     * Does He love enough?
     * Is He good enough?

The resounding answer is YES! Of course He is!!
So why is it so hard to surrender to Him?

Oh, if only I had an easy answer. But after focusing on surrendering to God for years now, I have found out that it is much more complex than I ever thought. I've also discovered that the more I desire to surrender, the more my selfish, self-centered, self-gratification-seeking flesh fights it. I have fed my flesh too regularly and that's why it rears its ugly head.

I'm reminded of Paul's lament about his struggle with the war between the flesh and the Spirit:

And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. ~Romans 7:19-21

I'm relieved that I am not alone. The struggle (the most intense, impactful) is real. God knows. And He has provided a way out. The way is to know Him, rely on Him, trust Him, and obey Him.
I know I'll never do any of these perfectly, but God has provided a way to release me from the trap of sin through His Son Jesus (Romans 7:24).
I am free to surrender to Him. Or I can stay trapped in the slavery of sin, even though He's given me the key to let myself out.
So today my prayer is that I will get it from my head to my spirit that God is enough. 
For everything.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Dear Broken Heart

Dear Broken Heart,

You were once untouched. Unblemished. Pure, like the snow-white lamb with her super soft wool and silky bow. But you, like her, refused to remain on a shelf to watch life pass you by. To be an observer only. If you had, you'd have stayed pure. Unblemished. 
Untouched. Untouched by life. By laughter. By love.

Instead, you were dragged along the adventure of life. Dragged through play dates and arguments. Outside in the sunshine and rain. Cuddled with at night and rubbed thin. Wrapped around a finger too tightly and forever changed to get loose.

You were washed, like the little lamb. She with soap and water, you with blood of The Lamb. But never to be pure again. Unblemished. Untouched. Not here, anyhow.

You, like her, are no less loved, however. With your smudges  and bruises. With your stitches and scars. With your tattered threads and cracks. 


You are just as loved. More so, even.

You were loved enough not to be placed on a shelf, for without being dragged through life, you'd have missed out on all the good. The laughter. The excitement. The joy. You were loved enough to be bought, cherished, brought along on the journey of life.

So, Dear Broken Heart, don't hold on to the injuries. The hurts. The "imperfections." Instead, cling to the Healer. The Father. The Lover. For He has been with you every step of the way, holding you tenderly, even more so than those little growing hands which loved, caressed, and brought along that little lamb.

He is the Lamb who loves with a perfect love. An everlasting love. Aimed right at you. Bruises, scars, cracks, and all.

How precious is your steadfast love, O God!
    The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings.

Psalm 36:7

Thursday, May 18, 2017

The Perfect Day

Several years ago I read the book The Cure for the "Perfect" Life. There's a huge amount of information in it! I found it so very relevant to me and my life. Some lessons I already had learned and put into practice. Some lessons I'd learned previously and needed a reminder of. Some new lessons that are a nudge to deeper greater growth. 

Here's a reposting of how God used it in my life:

It's rich beyond many books I've read. And practical. It doesn't give you a bunch of information and leave you wondering what to do with it. It gives you lots of ideas to implement and steps to take to both bless your journey and grow deeper in your relationship with the Lord.

I highly recommend it.

I'd also like to share just a sampling of how God's used it with me this morning. My book has been sitting on the shelf for a week or more, unfinished. I had a few things to take care of (writing deadlines, laundry, procrastination...). Last night I decided to finish those last three chapters. And I did. (Yay!) In one of them, Cheri or Kathi included a quote from a devotion in Sarah Young's Jesus Calling. This morning I got up and as part of my quiet time read today's devotion (something I do regularly, but not every day). Imagine my surprise when I read the exact devotion quoted in the chapter I read just last night! And with that, God reminded me that: 
His timing is always perfect and He is in all the details

Once again, He reinforced what I already know: my job is to trust in, rely on, cling to, and obey Him. If I simply seek His face and follow His guidance, He will lead me perfectly. I don't have to be perfect. There's a lot going on in my world at the moment that's up in the air (waiting for a lot of answers that will come in the next week and month that could change SO much in my life!), but today, all I have to do is rest in His love and let that overflow in my obedience. 

Praising Him that today I don't have to stress about a single thing. I do have work to do, but He will strengthen me for everything He's called me to do. What a great way to start the day. Now to start every day from here on out like this...


Thursday, May 11, 2017

Looking Ahead

One morning I got up early, trying to get back into a routine. I passed by the exercise videos to take a walk in the brisk but refreshing 45 degree morning. And what a treat it was! The sky still pitch black, but clear as could be and dotted with hundreds of stars visible to the eye. It was truly wondrous. A sight to behold.

Eventually, though, I drew my eyes away from the early morning sky and focused on getting down to business: making it around the about two mile loop as quickly as possible. Now, one thing was different about this morning. I'd brought a flashlight with me. Not a necessary item in the summer months, but as the days draw shorter and night still has it's hold on my piece of the world I thought it'd be a good idea to help navigate and be seen in the areas without lights.

What I noticed as I walked along, is that I tended to focus on the ground right in front of me, the illuminated ground. Usually, I maintained my gaze up ahead, searching, watching, judging what would come next. And this is what I came up with:

When we rely on ourselves, we spend a lot more effort trying to predict what's ahead. We plan, we conjecture, we strain to see. Now, not that planning's a bad thing - it's necessary for many things. But, God doesn't want us to live in all that hard work of our self-guidance. Instead, He desires we rely completely on Him, only glancing at the path immediately in front of us, which He promises to illuminate.

That's surrender, trusting that God has our best interest at heart and will not lead us astray. Even when times are tough, He will guide and lead us, offering comfort and peace beyond human comprehension. Not having to know the future, not straining to see what He'll have in store for us, but letting go and resting in the confidence that God is our Guide, even to the end. {Psalm 48:14}

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Surrender Takes Time

"Surrender takes time."

I read these three precious words a couple years ago in the Bible study Brave, by Angela Thomas.


And boy, have I found that's true. As a matter of fact, I've discovered that since I've proclaimed to surrender everything to God, Satan has launched a full on attack and my flesh has weakly submitted to itself. While my mind says one thing (this is the better thing, the best thing, this is the path that glorifies God, who is holy), my body does the complete opposite.

I've lost count of wasted hours. I've given into unhealthy food, not-so-bad, but not-so good tv shows, playing, resting, wasting. I have not lived surrendered.

There are moments, by the grace of God, there are times I make the right choice. I sit down with His Word, I call out to Him in my need, I get up early and take that walk. But it's not every minute. Or every hour. Or even every day. Even today, I've done both - surrendered to God and surrendered to the flesh.

How comforting and encouraging it is to know that for others, too, surrender to God takes time. It's the next choice I need to focus on. Not the one tomorrow or next week. Not even the one five minutes ago. God is gracious and knows my heart.

Paul said it so well: I don't understand. What I want to do I don't do. What I hate, I do.

Amen, Paul!

In my heart and soul I know the benefits of living for the glory of God, but too long I have fed my flesh in living for it. Did I really think in a day all that would change?

Well, yes. The optimist in me did. But if that were so, I could take credit for it, and in doing so would move away from God, now draw closer to Him.

So, God, please continue to humble me and show me how I truly can do nothing good without You. Fill me with Your Spirit, give me the power to resist sin, and love through me. Help me to surrender to Your will. I love You. Help me to love you more.

Amen.

Monday, April 24, 2017

A Simple Dinner Invitation

I have hesitated writing this post, despite it being in my mind for a few weeks. I don't want to be or seem whiny (that's my hope, that I'm not complaining or being petty). What I really desire is to share what little things we can do to impact others' lives.

Two years (and 26 days) ago, my husband, children and I moved into my in-laws house. The plan was for us to be here a year while we built a new home. As you can probably guess already, that plan didn't pan out as we had hoped. Oh, we're building our house, all right, but everything has taken exponentially longer than we anticipated. It will most likely be another three or four months before we move into our new home. During the last two years, I've learned a lot.

One of those lessons is how much of an impact a simple thing like a dinner invitation can mean. Unfortunately, I've learned this through not receiving such an invitation.

You see, when we had our own house, my husband and I invited people over all the time. Usually once a week, but minimally once a month, we had another family over for dinner, or out to dinner (usually on the boat we spend the majority of our summer weekends on). With 8 people living in a 3 bedroom house, there isn't a lot of extra space for hosting. Though we have, on occasion, when my in-laws have been out of town and seats opened up.

When we were newly out of our own living quarters, I hinted around (okay, I flat out said) how much we'd love an invitation to dinner.

As of yet, we have not received one.

Now, there have been times friends have hosted parties, celebrations, meetings, where we've attended with other families. There have also been out of town friends I've called up and invited ourselves to go visit for a day or two or three, and they've gladly hosted. But not once has our family been invited to join a single other family or couple for dinner.

This is where I really don't want to sound bitter, whiny, or disgruntled. I'm really not. Because what this has taught me is how much I want to be even more intentional about reaching out to others in small ways. And there have been friends who've reached out to us in other ways. Had our children over for play dates, listened when things got tough, shared encouragement and joined us to dedicate our house to the Lord.

For us, though, we've really missed that one-on-one connection with other families. For us, it would have meant so much to be invited over for dinner. nothing fancy, just good fellowship.

For you, it may not be a dinner invitation, but something else. There are so many ways to reach out and shower love and friendship on others.

How will you overflow God's love to another person or family?

Invite them to dinner?

Plan a playdate at a park?

Send an encouraging letter or card?

Call to see how someone's doing?

Offer to babysit?

Take them a meal?

Make a movie basket for another family?

Pray for them?

There are so many simple things we can do to bless others and add to their lives. We are all busy and don't want to add one more thing that will overwhelm us, but if we seek God's wisdom on how to love others best, He will not only show us how to do so, but provide us with the ability to do so.

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:10

If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. James 2:8

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Struggling through Surrender

I'm not sure why when I began to take my journey to live a surrendered life public I thought it'd automatically be easy. That my flesh wouldn't fight so hard against what I know I should do. Why did I imagine my body suddenly cooperating with surrendering every aspect of my life to God's will?

It didn't.

My flesh still calls out to do what is easy, comfortable, and momentarily pleasurable. And I often still give in.

That's not to say I've gorged myself on food, sat in front of the TV hours and hours a day, completely ignored reading my Bible and neglected praying. But, certainly, I give in enough to know that I often choose the good instead of the best.

So, how does change come?



First, it comes slowly. As I practice making the best choice in one situation, it will be easier the next time. Easier, not easy-breezy-dance-in-a-circle while making the right choice. But not as great as a struggle as it was last time.

I find that keeping myself in the Word and studying the Word most helpful. And I notice that I'm not in the habit as deeply right now as I have been in times of the past.

I'm not consistent.

This is a fact I've known about myself for a long time.

But God is.

And that's why I need to lean on Him and trust He has the best in store for me in everything.

Absolutely everything.

For a recovering control freak, though, that's not easy.
For a mom facing the challenges of parenting and homeschooling every day, that's not easy.
For a woman dealing with other imperfect people, that's not easy.

I snap at my husband. I lose my temper with my children. I make judgments on other peoples' decisions. I wear out. In my flesh I am human and I fail.

But in God's strength, I will be lifted up ~ something he's graciously reminded me lately.

And I say, "Thank you! I love you, help me love you more."

And God says, "My grace is sufficient. My strength made perfect in your weakness."

Boy, is His strength made perfect in my life!

Thursday, April 13, 2017

What is Surrendered Living?

Since I've started this journey of attempting a surrendered life publicly, I've had lots of time to mull over the question: What is surrendered living?

In my head, I think I know the answer, even though I've never been able to live it out day to day. Even in the three days since I began this journey.

This weekend, I did some of my Bible reading in the Amplified version, and God used these words to speak to me about surrender:

"But to as many as did receive and welcome Him, He gave the authority (power, privilege, right) to become the children of God, that is, to those who believe in (adhere to, trust in, and rely on) His name--" John 1:13

This gives me the picture of an infant, who is completely dependent on mom to be taken care of. As we grow, we separate from our parents and become more and more independent, which is the way it should be. However, as we become the person we are, if we children of God, we should then learn to depend on Him. This is how the Amplified Bible translates 'believe.' It's not just a head knowledge or a heart feeling, it's a lifestyle.

I can say I believe in God, yet make decisions every day that go against His character.

I can say I adhere to God, yet never slow down to spend real, quality time with Him.

I can say I trust in God, yet question the things that happen in my life that I don't like or understand.

I can say I rely on God, yet never stop to seek His guidance before making choices.

And these are the practices of surrendered living that I'm committing to. To live out a complete belief. To submit EVERYTHING in prayer. To be willing to give up things that are good (chocolate cake, fun TV shows, being a part of a dozen activities) for things that are better (fruit, time with God, focused work) -- if He calls me to. He may not lead me to give up some things I'm not wanting to give up, or He may. Living a surrendered life means I am willing to give those things up - even my birthday strawberry pie.

It is a constant battle - my want to and my want to - they are often at great odds. This morning, I started the day with prayer, but not with my Bible. I will commit to getting to it later, with a promise not to watch TV til I do. I've been eating better, but still compulsively. I have been exercising again, despite body aches and creaks.

I am the type of person who's willing to put a lot of effort in, but I know me: I won't maintain it. To maintain a surrendered life, I know I will have to rely on the Lord, trust in Him, adhere to Him, and give up all desires other than to love and live obediently to Him.

This is my prayer today.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Repost - Beginning the Journey - Still on the Journey

Today is not really the first day I've attempted at surrendered living, but it is the day I've dedicated to starting the journey publicly.

Today is my 36th birthday, the first day of the 37th year of my life. Looking back, I wonder how much of those years I've wasted. I don't think on it too long, because I know at least the better part of the first twenty were wasted. And seven of those were after I met Christ, but long before I truly began living for Him. Who didn't squander away the first two decades of their life, you might ask. I don't know. A lot of that era was me becoming who I am now. But a lot of that time also created a person in desperate need of God, His forgiveness, and His guidance.

For the last decade and a half, I've steadily drawn closer to God, and increased my desire for Him, to do His will and live for His glory. But submission and surrender don't come naturally to me. Not even close. My flesh fights it every day, and many days I give in. It's so much easier to live a comfortable, complacent life. To turn on the TV instead of open the Bible. To roll over and go back to sleep instead of spend time in prayer. To try harder instead of lean more. And messages we're assaulted with every day tell us we can do it: we can do it all, have it all and be it all, if we simply try harder or get the right tools. But God wants more.

He wants more for me.

He wants more for you.

I read biographies of men and women of great faith and am awed at what God does in their lives. They're blessed beyond measure, but often not in financial or other worldly ways. They're blessed in many other ways, more eternal way. The most important blessing, however, is the presence, guidance, and fulfillment of the Holy Spirit. That's what I want. That's what I want to want.

Now, I simply have to get myself to cooperate.

So today I began. I didn't completely succeed, but gratefully, God has taught me this is a journey. I only have to take a few more steps each day. My goal is to completely surrender every aspect of my life to Him. Everything. What I watch on TV. What I listen to on my ipod. What books I read. How much time I spend doing these things. The words that come out of my mouth. The thoughts I let stick around in my head. The things I write, cook, eat, play. Am I really willing to surrender these minute details to God's direction?

I want to be.

And that's what this journey's about. I invite you to join me, share with me, and (I'm always open to) encourage me.

I step through this door knowing that things won't suddenly be easy. My flesh will not suddenly give way and let my desires win out. But I also know that what God has in store for me is greater than I could ever work towards or even imagine myself.

Here I go.

Update: And I'm still going! I wish I could say the journey's been a delight and I've stayed focused on it. However, as anything in this life is, the road has been bumpy. One thing I'm even more sure of today than before is that God is always with me and He is always faithful. He has led me to tough places, but places I've needed to go to surrender more fully to Him. Place where I can recognize who He is and experience His great love.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Battling the Flesh

Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. 
The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.
Matthew 26:41

At times, it seems like these words written over 2000 years ago were written just for me. Why is it that I so desire to live in God's will and be obedient to Him  I let my flesh rule so often? The answer is found right here: the flesh is weak.

I know I'm not the only one struggling with a weak flesh, evidenced by the conversation I had with a good friend this morning. She shared her own struggles of the flesh.

While it seems like this verse was written just for me, the truth is we all struggle against a weak flesh. What the exact item that trips us up doesn't really matter. 

I've been on a journey to living surrendered for a while now, and I've experienced times of victory and times of defeat. Sometimes those fluctuations are a result of changing circumstances, but more often than not it's when I'm not faithful in my time with the Lord.

There's a reason Jesus told His disciples to engage in the battle of the flesh with prayer. It is the strongest weapon we have against giving into our desires. Prayer engages the Holy Spirit and wells His power within us. Prayer refocuses us on the eternal instead of the temporal. And prayer reminds us to praise God for the things He has given us already instead of the things we want.

Battling the flesh is a day by day, sometimes moment by moment fight. We will never win it on our own, but already have victory in our Savior. To live in that victory we have to be willing to fight. To ignore the flesh. To redirect it. To beat it into submission.

Paul talks about this in 1 Corinthians 9:27 - But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.

We've been convinced that depriving ourselves of something is bad. That hard work is bad. That discipline is a negative thing. But biblically, these are all to our benefit.

Yet, even though I know this, my flesh tells me the opposite. For for this decision, this day, I will double down in prayer and seek God for His strength to build up self-control in me to I can resist the flesh. It won't be easy. There may even be tears. But, when I have victory, oh how sweet it will be! Won't you join me?

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Lord,

I praise You for who You are! You are good, holy, perfect, sovereign, love, gracious, patient, faithful, marvelous, wonderful, priceless, awesome, and amazing. I can't even begin to comprehend Your

Complete Goodness.

There is nothing evil, selfish, prideful, or harmful in You. Not even a drop. My fleshly, sinful heart and mind can scarce imagine it. No wonder everyone falls at a mere glimpse of You.

My heart wonders; let it stray no more. Do not turn from me. Make me faithful. Mold me to be more like you. I do not ask for forgiveness in this moment because I know your mercy and grace has flowed over all my sin already. It is washed away completely by Your blood. Thank You, Lord!

Thank you!!



Response: 
You're welcome, My daughter. My love for you is infinite. Draw close to Me and I will draw close to you. Soak in my love. Bask in My love. Receive my glory. I love you, My precious child. I love you.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Remind Me, A Prayer

Lord,

Remind me every moment of every day that You are still in control. Thank You for Your love, faithfulness, mercy, and grace. Help me to be the woman You created me to be. Let everything in my life bring glory to You!


I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God hwo loved me and gave himself for me.
Galatians 2:20


Thursday, March 9, 2017

Be Still - A Response to Prayer from God

My daughter,

Be still.

Be held by Me. Do not settle for less. Do not turn to the things of this world, even the benign things, for comfort and restoration. You are Mine and I cherish you and love you with an everlasting love. I have called you for something greater. Do not settle for good.

Do not fear or draw back from the work or the difficult. Do not rely on yourself or your own strength. You are right that you cannot do it all - in yourself. But nothing is impossible for Me and in Me you can do every single thing I call you to do. It may not look like you expect it to, but it will always look the way I intended it to.

Be still, draw near to Me, and I will fill you.


Monday, March 6, 2017

Struggles and Triumps

Guest Post by Cynthia Simmons



I have a room that’s off limits. If you open the door and peek inside, you see lots of papers and boxes scattered over the floor. It looks like junk, but it’s not. Those messy piles are the remnants of my childhood home. I’m compiling the material into an archive, and each time I dig in I learn something new.

Dad underlined “you were not redeemed with corruptible things such as silver and gold” in his New Testament. In the margin he penned, “Redeemed by the blood of Christ.” He didn’t often put his thoughts on paper, so I was thrilled to find a small tablet filled with his handwriting. He recorded his courtship with my mother. It’s so sweet. Mom wore red on their first date, and she spilled her coffee when he told a joke. They were married almost fifty-six years when she died.

A spiral bound book contained tearful prayers Mother wrote when feeling overwhelmed. Her Bible also had some treasures. In the center she recounted the story of her conversion. Precious! She kept notes on sermons, and dated passages she read in her devotions. In 1952 she’d highlighted Psalm 46:1. “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” Beneath those words she jotted “Eternal refuge.”

Mom had a rare dementia that also impacted small motor skills. Handwriting became so difficult that she quit. In February of 2005 she scribbled, “Why can’t I be healed? I’ve prayed and others have prayed. Do you HEAR? PLEASE IN THE NAME of Jesus heal my body.” That made my heart heavy. Her final entry was in March 2005. The handwriting is almost illegible. “Psalm 33: 13 -20. The Lord is like a shield. He protects me. Verse 18 – His eye is watching me!! He is my strength.”

Hebrews 12:1 says “Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” (NAS)

 In Hebrews 11, the author told stories of faithful saints who lived before us. They are that ‘great cloud of witnesses’ who believed and endured. I’m very thankful my parents belong in that hall of fame. Mother could’ve turned against God when her illness continued to worsen, but she didn’t. Instead she chose to believe even though she didn’t know how things would turn out. Hebrews 12:1 says to get anything out of the way that will prevent us from trusting our Savior. When I’m tempted to doubt, I think of my parents and the legacy they left me. I can’t allow worry, fear, or discouragement stand in the way. Someday my children will sort through my things, and I hope they discover a legacy of undying faith.


Cynthia L Simmons and her husband, Ray, have five children and reside in Atlanta. She has taught for over twenty years as a homeschool mother and Bible teacher. Active in Christian Authors Guild (CAG), she conducts writing workshops and has served as president, vice president, and conference director. In December 2009 the membership granted her Life Time Membership for her numerous contributions to writers.  “Cindy” is fond of history and writes both historical fiction and nonfiction. Her writing appeared in CAG publications, NATHHAN NEWS, Chattanooga Regional Historical Magazine, Georgia Right to Life Newsletter, Chattanooga Times Free Press, Catholic Exchange, and Christian Devotions.us. Her first book, Struggles and Triumphs, came out in 2008. While promoting her book, she had interviews on radio and TV across the nation and was nominated for 2008 Georgia Author of the year. She also conducts monthly podcasts called CAG Spotlight in which she interviews authors and VIPs in the writing industry. At present she is completing a twelve week Bible study using the stories in Struggles and Triumphs.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Learning in Prayer

Prayer is something that I have done for decades. Even before I became a believer, my sister and I would say the Lord's Prayer together at night, each being in our own beds on opposite sides of a wall. From those early, innocent prayers, God has taught me much about conversing with Him. It seems like I fall asleep and wake up most days talking to Him.

However, I have known for a while that my prayer life has lots of room to grow. There always seems to be someone or something important or in need that I leave out with my fairly quick, if frequent, prayers. I also often fail to stop and listen. To really engage the Holy Spirit interactively. He is there. He has invited me. But I tend to move on too fast to the next thing.

The Lord graciously reminded me this past weekend of His invitation to sit with Him, dwell with Him, and rest in Him. My desire is to be faithful in accepting that invitation. I know the blessing in doing so is unimaginable and I commit to no longer be "too busy" or too distracted to spend that sweet time with the Lord - not just quantity, but quality.

In giving myself some accountability, and hopefully to be a blessing, I'm going to start regularly sharing my prayers here. Not all of them, some of them are just too private and personal. But when I
sense it could draw someone other than me closer to the Lord.

I will also sometimes include or post the Lord's response back to me. It may be weird for some to consider the Holy, Mighty, Sovereign God of the Universe would talk to us, but it is scriptural and truth. He loves us enough to lead, guide, direct, and pour into us to make us more like Him.

I hope that you are blessed by my sharing of what God's teaching me about and in prayer. I also invite you to share your prayers and God's responses to you.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Permissible, but not Beneficial

The concept of "permissible but not beneficial" is one that I have struggled to get from my head to my actions for a long time. It's one of those things I know, have known, get reminded of on occasion, but doesn't always affect my decisions. I'm grateful for the opportunity to once again work on good choices. Better choices. Best choices.

As a Type 1 diabetic, many people say to me: "Oh, you can't eat that, can you?"

The truth is, I can eat anything I want. I simply have to adjust the amount of insulin I take. I can also make wise decisions about how much of that anything I choose to ingest. However, I still struggle to make those wise decisions, too.

When I look at a piece of fruit and a handful of chocolate chips and know that they'll each have the same affect on my blood sugar - sorry gals, fruit has sugar - I'm going to pick the chocolate. Almost every time. It doesn't matter that the apple or orange or grapes also come with vitamins and minerals.

It also doesn't help that there are the days I eat right and my blood sugar still soars. It could be I didn't sleep well the night before, had a particularly stressful day, have a cold, or a fluctuation in my hormones (which you know is almost always happening to us.) Then I throw in the proverbial towel and figure I might as well eat what I want if eating healthy and balanced isn't giving me the positive results I'm seeking.

It's all a mental thing. I admit that. Well, actually it's sometimes an emotional thing, too. I want to get my head, heart, stomach, and mouth all working together toward the same goal: to get and stay healthy.

I do eat healthy. Sometimes. But I also eat junk and I also eat too much. And I need to remember (consistently) that neither of those habits are beneficial to me. Or my family.

I want to be around to see my grandchildren grow up. Considering my oldest child is currently thirteen, that's a major long-term goal. But not only do I want to be here for my children and their children, I want to be healthy. I want to be a role model for them by being active in ministry and living my life on fire to share the gospel.

I can't do that if I lose my eyesight, my feeling and possibly the reality of having legs. I can't do that if I have major kidney disease. All real risks in my life that increase with my decreased ability to control my blood sugars.

And so much of it boils down to this: what is permissible is not necessarily beneficial. God wants the best for me, and I have to find my want for my best, too. 

The verse God gave me for the beginning of the year is 2 Corinthians 10:5 - "...take every thought captive to obey Christ."

That means taking every thought captive - including those about food.

That's what I'm working diligently on through this study. That's what I'm becoming #empowered to do as I learn, step by step, brick by brick, to #CraveGod above and beyond and before anything else.

There are so many things that are allowed in this life, but I want to want what is best, what is going to draw me closer to the Lord, what is going to help me sow and reap a part of the harvest as I work the works God prepared for me before He spoke the earth into being. 

When I look at it from my perspective, I think why not? It's not that bad. It's permissible. 

When I look at it from the perspective of who God is and who He wants me to be, I want the best.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

God uses Steadfast Obedience

Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain. 1 Corinthians 15:58

Today's post is a blessing from our guest blogger, Angie Seal.

What an amazing God we serve. All throughout the bible God used obedience.


We forget these days that God cares more about obedience than perfection and think "I'm a good person" or "I''m a good church goer," but we aren't committed to being obedient. 
I learned about being committed to obedience about 4 years ago and it has changed my life forever. 
My mom and my mother in law both passed away within a 4 month span. I was devastated to say the least. My sister became very angry at everyone including God. Despite my own pain, or maybe because of it, God put it on my heart to start sending her encouraging text messages. So every night I sent her a text with a scripture, a thought on how to apply it in today's world, and a prayer. 
4 years later the nightly text to her has grown to 65 people, 1 email list, and 3 Facebook pages, EVERY NIGHT. It has also led to a daily devotional book. By the grace of God, I haven't missed one night. 
Through those text God has revealed to me soo many things, but one of the most important things I needed to learn was to be committed to obedience. I stand firm knowing that "today is the day of salvation" (2 Corinthians 6:2) and my "Hope is in His word." (Psalm 130:5) 
I choose to seek Him on purpose in my daily life and I desire to live a life that glorifies God's holy name and I invite you to do the same. You'll be blessed more than you could ever imagine.

Angie Seal
https://www.facebook.com/Seekinggodonpurpose/
https://twitter.com/seeking_god_
https://www.instagram.com/patnangieseal/

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Determined

I've been called stubborn before. Once or twice. And in the last few years especially I've come to appreciate my stubbornness. You see, I was given not one, but two strong-willed children. If I hadn't been given such steadfast spirit, my sweet young girls would be completely spoiled rotten at this point - because they got tenaciousness in spades.

I must give an example here. When one of these sweet girls was three, she would come to the kitchen every morning and ask for candy. Somewhere between three and ten times. Every morning. For about six months. Despite getting the same answer every time she asked. And by the grace of God I did give her the same answer each time she asked (We don't have candy for breakfast.)

Now, as a child and young woman my stubbornness often was to my detriment and got me in trouble. I won't put you through the misery (or entertainment, okay - my misery at having to recount the times I fell) of those stories.

It's in my growing closer to God and experiencing the benefit of determination as a mom that I've become to appreciate this dogged spirit He instilled - and has grown - in me. 

When I put my mind to do something, I generally follow through. It's why I published four books last hear and plan to publish eight this year. It's why I'm able to homeschool for seven years through changing circumstances. It's what got me up between five and five-thirty in the morning to exercise (when I was doing so.) It's what keeps me picking up after my family, feeding my family, and loving my family - even on days I don't feel like doing any of it. It's what made me lose 2 pounds during my third trimester of my first pregnancy.

I can be stubborn, tenacious, and determined. When I choose to be.

Which makes me wonder about the times I simply give in. When I fall back into bad habits, when I ignore what needs to be done, when I let go of my goals. Part of it, I believe, is due to the intensity I attack tasks with. Sometimes I simply get tired.

But that can't be the whole answer.

Being a part of a group of women who go through the same struggles, who have a desire to grow in their faith and be the best wife, mother, daughter, sister, and friend they can be reminds me I am always battling the flesh and my spiritual enemy.

Be serious! Be alert! Your adversary the Devil is prowling around 
like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour. Resist him 
and be firm in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are 
being experienced by your fellow believers throughout the world.
1 Peter 5:8-9

I must be alert and aware. It's easier to be self-focused and give into what doesn't take much effort and energy. But I know God made me for more than that. I have to do more than know it, though. I have to cling to it and to Him.

It helps to know my sisters struggle with the same things. And I'm so grateful for the opportunity to spur each other on and encourage each other in our faith walk

To be reminded that my stubbornness can be used for good - for me and for others. And that's why I'm #determined!

Thursday, February 16, 2017

The Lord is Always Working

Look among the nations, and see; wonder and be astounded.
For I am doing a work in your days that you would not believe if told.

Habakkuk 1:5

I have been living in a holding pattern for almost two yeasr now. The details are unimportant, because they change from month to month, year to year, and person to person. What doesn't change is God.

The Lord continues to use the situation I'm in to lean into my faith in Him, His goodness, and His plans.

One morning when I woke up, I heard the Lord direct me to the book of Habakkuk. As I lay in bed starting to wake up I listened to the words of this prophet and the Lord's response. And He spoke to me.

My situation is not one of violence, iniquity, and destruction, but it is one of things not getting done as they should (or as I'd like them). The similarity is others are not doing what they should and I'm being affected.

As Habakkuk did, I have cried out to the Lord. I have begged, pleaded, and quite frankly, whined. 

In His great graciousness He has not chastised me. Neither, however, has He given me what I want when I want it. What He has done is say almost the same thing He said to Habakkuk:

"Look among the nations, and see; wonder and be astounded.

For I am doing a work in your days that you would not believe if told."


It is a reminder that the Lord is always working. Even when things don't go our way. Even when they don't seem just or fair. Even when we can't see Him working. He is. Always.

And I am so grateful. Because He knows so much more than me. And is so much more good and righteous than me.


I may get frustrated and impatient at times, but then I will choose to trust in the Lord and His plan. That is true surrendered living.