Tag Archives: belief

Planting Shade Trees Through Story

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For the ladies of @mrocommunitycenter that travel. We have learned many stories this year that tell of who God is and more specifically stories that like Sally Clarkson have transformed my life!

Stories about ordinary people that crossed my path over my husband’s 23 year U.S. Air Force career. People who lives out bold faith for me to model as I watched them in their ordinary lives “do small things with great love” Mother Teresa

This amazing work done by Sally Clarkson inspires us to look for life-stories along the pathway of faith and life. Each one of us making impact through our daily interaction with our circle of life.

You will love Sally’s beautiful heart! She is like us. Seekers empowered by the faith-filled life stories of others! Stories that are must shares and worthy of our attention.

So breathe this all in with me as I share excerpts from Sally Clarkson’s recent blog post- Planting Shade Trees Through Story

Here’s the link for the full blog post. Seriously a must read!!

https://www.storyformed.com/blog/2017/7/4/planting-shade-trees-through-story

“That’s when my heart skipped a beat, and God took the words of a comedian I don’t even remember and began to reveal to me His plan for the rest of my life…..” 

“Like shade trees, stories give us roots. Stories connect us to the world and show us what it’s like to be human… 

Stories also remind us of the hope we have in the Gospel. The story of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection is the most important and greatest story ever told….. 

Stories, like family histories and local lore, can also ground us in our sense of self, place, and community. Like shade trees…..

Stories inspire us to great heights.

Stories inspire us with the same sense of wonder and imagination. It is through story that we can catch a vision of all that is possible in our amazing world. 

We read of heroes, inventors, explorers, creators, and we began to think, “if he can do that, maybe I can too!” 

Like shade trees, stories offer protection. When we hear tales of tragic choices or misguided decisions and see the disastrous consequences, those lessons are stored up in our hearts and minds and, hopefully, keep us from making similar mistakes. 

Stories also offer protection in the way that they form and restore our souls. Tales abound of people who survive difficult situations and circumstances because they called on the power of stories in the midst of their trials to sustain their hope. 

Corrie Ten Boom, in her book The Hiding Place, tells about how, night after night, the Biblical stories sustained her and her fellow prisoners in the concentration camps. 

Like shade trees, stories yield fruit. The purpose of planting stories as shade trees in the hearts and minds of ourselves and our children is so that, ultimately, the seeds come to fruition. 

“Story-formed children grow to adulthood understanding that they have been specially formed by a loving God, destined for his kingdom, specially crafted to love, create, and conquer. They have reason to respond to their parents’ training, to work and learn, hope and know, because stories assure them that right choices and brave actions are the force behind happy endings.”  -Sarah Clarkson, Caught up in a Story

The fruits of the immigrant great-grandfather’s diligent work of planting shade trees were enjoyed by his descendants for generations. But he planted more than physical trees that day. 

He told a story, and that story made its way to me in that wooden pew 1000 miles and three generations away, on an ordinary Sunday evening. And a spiritual seed was sown in my heart that continues to grow to this day. He never saw the fruits of his labors. He never enjoyed the relief from the oppressive Texas heat. He never even knew that one day a woman in North Carolina would catch a lifelong vision as a result of his tale. 

But the fruit remains. Like him, as parents we may never see the fruits of our labors as we diligently work to surround our children with the very best stories, in hopes that the stories will shape them. 

“Blessed is the one…[whose] delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.” Psalm 1

Excerpt from blog post by Sally Clarkson @ Story Formed Blog

https://www.storyformed.com/blog/2017/7/4/planting-shade-trees-through-story

The Good and Perfect Road After Wilderness

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“The LORD was going before them in a pillar of cloud by day to lead them on the way, and in a pillar of fire by night to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night.” Exodus 13:21

Giving thanks this morning for the Lord our God who always goes before us. 

A beautiful reminder this morning that even though Pharaoh and all of Egypt’s army was in full pursuit of Moses and the people of Israel, God led them on the way day and night to safety at the edge of the wilderness.


Another Daytona. 

Another road that leads to the place where our life’s work meets fulfillment and joy.

Another opportunity to live among the people we love, do real life with, serve, care for and experience reciprocal love. A gift.

Another weekend of heart-living as Team MRO. There is a beautiful thing that happens week in and week out as God brings us together where the road leads us as friends, co-laborers uniquely gifted by God who has melded our hearts to unite as one. Pretty amazing gift even on the most challenging days.

Some days this heart feels so very small, incapable and unworthy, yet I remain assured of the call that God has placed on my life for such time as this. Not only to live out my life as a follower of Christ but to surrender to go wherever He leads.

As we go this morning…… 

I give thanks for protection and safety all along the thousands and thousand of miles of road that we have been entrusted with to follow. 

I praise you for provision Lord, for daily bread, for the resources that we need to do the work and for every little dream that we could ever dream that you have faithfully been the way-maker.

I am overwhelmed by the gift of the Holy Spirit, Your undying, unrelenting love in pursuit of my heart and all of Your beloved creation. The immeasurable depths of Your mercy and grace. You lavish strength and the courage as You empower us to do the work we put our hands to. You are the faithfulness and complete behind every limited ability that I bring to the team You have assembled for Your glory.

Thank you Lord for health and wellness on the days when we may struggle. We look to you and surrender our weak, tired and sometimes broken bodies. You are our Jehovah-Rapha- The Lord our healer.

Not sure where you are in your faith journey today. 

Maybe you stand where God has brought you through the wilderness, you face the promised land and the future is bright with hope. Praying you forward friend! #keepthefaith #celebrate

Maybe you are overwhelmed by the course your life has taken, the path has been paved with pain and you see no way through, around or over the mountain that looms ahead. Praying for peace, comfort and direction.

No matter the challenge you face; years of wilderness, broken heart, armies, giants, mistakes, Red Seas, fortified walls, sins that haunt you, water-rising, decisions, fear, doubt or mistakes- God is there. Just as He was with Moses, He can do the same for you.

Look for Him to lead you by day and by night. You read this today because God brought you here!!

Get into the Word of God. Seek truth and pursue it like manna from heaven. Listen for that still small voice and obey.

Open your eyes and with the strength of the Lord look straight into that challenge and believe God to make a way.

For the heart that can rejoice today in sweet deliverance, tell your story. We learn who God is in every wilderness place and the things you learned is your story and the wandering heart’s answered prayer. Go forward with the story God has written just for you there is someone right now who needs to hear it! 

Finally, don’t look back except to remember what God has done. To use the challenges that did their best to defeat you but God led you all the way and you were NOT defeated but victorious by the mighty hand of God. Speak it forward!!

Right at the edge of the wilderness, Moses would establish what was to be an annual celebration- and oh I just love that!!! 

He told the people after instructing them to “tell it to the children all that God has done”. He went on to say, “this (celebration) will be like a sign upon your hand, a memorial between your eyes, the teaching of God in your mouth.” Exodus 13:9-10

He then reminded and challenged them with these words. 

“It was with a powerful hand that God brought you out of Egypt…” Exodus 13:11

It is with that same power that we go. To tell the children what God has done, carry the sign of who God is in our lives inside and out and tell the story of God’s great power and love with every person we meet along the way.

So as it is with Team MRO this season of 2017. We are all in and ready. Hands gathered center as one, we encircle those we go to serve and shout 1, 2, 3 #LetsGo

Let me help you get started in the telling of YOUR story today. 

Simply share where you are on your journey below. 

#wilderness 

#onthegoodroad

#celebration

Vicki 2, Cancer 1

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Love you Madi Vincent. Your mom will forever be alive in my heart and the lives of so many others. It feels like yesterday when Mason and your mom stopped by the motor home to tell us the news. We were stunned and my heart ached, our hearts beat together and we cried but still found hope.

I lost another dear friend the very year that cancer brought our family back to North Carolina. Monty’s dad battled Renal Cell cancer for three very short months. My beautiful friend Liz took her last breath on an unassuming Easter morning the same year. From death to life on the day we remember the resurrection.

These things I know:

Our Romans 8 road led us “home” and that had not been our plan. Life was significantly empty for a time and different but as we endured the pain our hearts found new life in relationships rekindled and the immeasurable wealth of God’s lavished love.

The road paved with so many hard things, hard firsts, that life could even go on as if nothing had happened was always awakened by the Spirit of God alive in us. The days grew more bearable where we did not cry with the same fervor but the relinquishing and surrender that came in the beautiful memories and stories sustained our family.

If there had been no cancer, there would have likely been no Motor Racing Outreach connection and our lives would have never been so entwined with such a pure love for each other. Mason and Vicki Vincent would become our greatest support, encouragers and friends. Our sweet Madi-girl and siblings are loved today as if we have shared a lifetime.

Madi, I feel her in your words, I remember her with great fondness for every time she spoke life into this old girls weary bones! Your mom and dad loved us for real and we loved and love them right back. A life of ministry can often isolate you from people and they refused to allow us to give in to such disengagement because their heart was to serve US. Amazing.

Thanks for keeping her passions alive because every seed that she planted in you is the fruit of her labor and that beloved of God remains her gift to us all. Your beautiful heart and words continue to carefully paint the Rembrandt that she remains as her legacy of faith in every life that she touched.

Be blessed today Vincent family. Vicki would be one praoud mama and I would give almost anything for one more conversation to let her know how very grateful I am for her inconditional love and friendship!

Vicki, you are with me always…….. You are loved! Mel

Source: Vicki 2, Cancer 1

The Hiding Place Forgiveness and Faith by Corrie Ten Boom

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https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2%20Corinthians%205:21&version=NLT

“It was at a church service in Munich that I saw him, a former S.S. man who had stood guard at the shower room door in the processing center at Ravensbruck. He was the first of our actual jailers that I had seen since that time. And suddenly it was all there – the roomful of mocking men, the heaps of clothing, Betsie’s pain-blanched face.

He came up to me as the church was emptying, beaming and bowing. “How grateful I am for your message, Fraulein.” He said. “To think that, as you say, He has washed my sins away!” His hand was thrust out to shake mine. And I, who had preached so often to the people in Bloemendaal the need to forgive, kept my hand at my side.

Even as the angry, vengeful thoughts boiled through me, I saw the sin of them. Jesus Christ had died for this man; was I going to ask for more? Lord Jesus, I prayed, forgive me and help me to forgive him. I tried to smile, I struggles to raise my hand. I could not. I felt nothing, not the slightest spark of warmth or charity. And so again I breathed a silent prayer. Jesus, I prayed, I cannot forgive him. Give me Your forgiveness.

As I took his hand the most incredible thing happened. From my shoulder along my arm and through my hand a current seemed to pass from me to him, while into my heart sprang a love for this stranger that almost overwhelmed me. And so I discovered that it is not on our forgiveness any more than on our goodness that the world’s healing hinges, but on His. When He tells us to love our enemies, He gives, along with the command, the love itself.”

~Corrie ten Boom, the Hiding Place

Trusting God and Finding The Good Path

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At this day’s end……

We all have stories of how life can challenge us, the valley of the shadow of death moments and the need to cling to something sure, true & trustworthy. The reminder that on life’s path, we are not alone!

That difficult journey you walked today: divorce, lost job, job searching, financial despair, separation, trust is broken, daily responsibilities, physical needs, cancer, emotional needs, sickness, infertility, brokenness, infidelity, spiritual needs, loneliness, anger, disease, fear…. That answer you received along that hard road that has washed over your life like a tidal wave…… “when sorrow like sea billows roll” Horatio Spafford

Life has messy places……filled with valley’s that challenge us to find the courage and a strength that is greater to hold on to and believe in.

And God is there. Oh, so very there……and I know it is true…….how??? Because I KNOW!

The platitudes about running to God in time of need diminishes the value of being held in complete surrender; to be fully loved and comforted by a gracious God.

God IS good. His love endures forever. God is trustworthy and sure and a place where grace is more than abundant and so very real. For every heart that aches this night with the guilt of overwhelm when your feet, though firmly planted, have caved in response to unexpected news……your are numbed and you will yourself to breathe…….

I stand with you tonight as my family faces a giant fight for life and prays hard and fast for supernatural answers, the miraculous, best case scenarios and a good path that will teach us about enduring love. We will look back and know more surely how to stand strong in HIS power and might.

I stood alongside of my mom this afternoon…..the words stung! Cancer, surgeon, treatment, serendipitous, benign, cancer found early, small, not much more we can say…. Yes? Words formed in my mind that I struggled to get my mouth to understand what to do next much less speak. Sure. We will make an appointment. Next Thursday. Perfect. Thank you? I think?

Monty Self and I are her caregivers…… My sister, Claudia does all she can to support us in caring for our mom. My flesh and heart shout in my spirit, we will just fix this. Let’s “get ‘er done”. Tonight my emotions have gone from there to…..oh sweet Lord, how am I, are we going to do this? I weep. Monty and I hold on tight to each other and we cry out to to the Lord.

“We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing Him directly just as He knows us!

But for right now, until completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:11-12

These things I know……

Trusting steadily in God…..Hoping unswervingly and walking held close by the Lord and the comfort of the Holy Spirit! We will all together find the good path…..and God has already sprinkled moments Of grace…..

~”the smallest cancer I have ever seen.” Radiologist
~”we just happened upon the cancer behind the benign” “Serendipitous” No. A sovereign and providential God!!!
~”treatable according to her positive markers” I have no idea what that means,! #trusting #blindfaith
~”the best bad news that I can share with you”
~”Do you have a surgeon? Yes. Dr._________ ” Amazing, he is one of the three we use at the Women’s Cancer Center. Go God. He has performed all of my mom’s surgical procedures through the years
~ He can meet with you and an entire care team next Thursday. Your surgeon just “happens” to be available. Thank you Lord.
~”An answer to a long and fervent prayer answered. #thevalley The reminder that God sees, He knows, He hears the fervent prayer of His beloved and His perfect love is beyond any sliver of our ability to understand.

I will not belabor any more small and perfectly timed gifts of grace. Thanks for listening. Really.

Tonight, we come, all hearts encircled in prayer and with thanksgiving before the throne of God in prayer. We rest in the shelter of His wing.

#goodpath
Monday night, I literally cleared a path through the chaos of my office for the annual termite inspector to come, check and treat. I do not like disorder and this room is the arch nemesis of the chaos of traveling 24 weeks out of the year, dumping, retrieving, repeat……all in the name of Jesus and serving the NASCAR community.

This room haunts me as I prepare for the next season but I continue to learn about truly resting fully in today and responding to every day as it needs to be prioritized and this crazy space will be ignored and likely conquered before we leave for Daytona. #itwillnotbeatme

We rallied late to create a way for access to the entry to the crawl space under one portion of our house. I dreaded this moment. Yet Monty affirmed in my heart, that even in the chaos around me, the things that drive me crazy, frustrate and distract me were not a problem. He looked beyond this momentary, light affliction to say, “You have made a good path.”

Friend, tonight your messy place is very real. My heart longs to help carry your burden. And I will surely cherish your heart alongside of mine. Today, the Lord challenged me to remember and “as a way of reminder” to encourage you to find in each new day’s offering, the “good path” in the midst of life’s random and often unforeseen, unexpected pain, heartbreak, messy chaos and craziness.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind and strength Lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your path straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6

Making my way, focused on the ‘good path’ today. Will you join me?

The waves and wind still know His name! It is well with my soul.

A Life Remembered ~Lynda Petty

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My heart is saddened to hear of Lynda Petty’s passing….. She was a blessing to me personally and professionally. Every moment we shared, she spoke wisdom into my life. You are and were the true strength behind your man. Your example in the NASCAR community is one that has been modeled by many women. And sweet friend, it continues to influence and lead women to this day.

Treasured friends Gaye Joy, Lynda Petty and Stevie Waltrip

Treasured friends Gaye Joy, Lynda Petty and Stevie Waltrip

You spoke often of God’s grace, your faith and reliance on your Savior, Jesus Christ. A faith that you did not hide but readily shared even in moments we shared together with other women in the community. Without a relationship with Jesus Christ, you assured me that your life as a racer’s wife would have been next to impossible.

I am grateful for every little shared visit and was honored when The King allowed me to drive the 43 Dodge Charger Bandolero, minus the Hemi engine, in YOUR honor in the 2011 Inaugural Better Half Dash. In this moment it seems only appropriate to share just a few special memories that are a part of my life forever.

 

Miss Lynda's Petty Blue Dodge Charger

Miss Lynda’s Petty Blue Dodge Charger

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The Beautiful Miss Lynda

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A treasure to carry the Richard Petty name in honor of His wife, Lynda Petty.

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The King and I just before the race

I will likely not step onto a platform to speak of her life, except to share with you the small segments of time that we shared and how very special they are to me. But if there is one thing that I do know, it is that Lynda Petty would want me to share with you at her passing, to give up striving and surrender your life to Christ by believing on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation. You can know for sure that being absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. Heaven will tell and I can know with great assurance that Miss Lynda’s passing from this life was made into the presence of her God….

What legacy will we leave? Will I leave? Will there be more to the story than what I do for a living? Where I live? My status in life? Or will it be filled with stories of a life of faith in Jesus Christ that has been invested in others?

Is my life defined by education? Worldy success? Earthen treasures? Or will it be defined as a life that represented a love for mankind, living for Christ and serving others in His name?

It is a joy to celebrate, while yet in sadness the memory of a life lived well and in relationship with the Lord. She has won the the greatest victory of life eternal. And she rests for good in being reunited with the heavenly Father.

On one of our last at-track visit’s, I dropped by for a visit. Toward the end of our time together, I asked Lynda what her favorite Bible verse was. She thought for a moment before handing me her well-worn Bible that was tucked right by her on a shelf. Her eyes were failing by then, so she passed it to me and asked me to read it to her. 2 Timothy 4:4-8 (I am sharing it with you today from the New Living Translation)

“…..keep your eye on what you’re doing; accept the hard times along with the good; keep the Message alive; do a thorough job as God’s servant. You take over. I’m about to die, my life an offering on God’s altar. This is the only race worth running. I’ve run hard right to the finish, believed all the way. All that’s left now is the shouting—God’s applause! You can depend on it…..”

No more taking the hard times with the good precious one. Heaven has been opened and is now your great reward. As for me, I will always remember, be challenged in my faith to walk with great strength because of the time that you have invested in my life.

And above ALL else….This IS a race worth running. I long to run hard right to the finish. I am committed to keeping my eyes on the Lord’s work and WILL do all within my ability, with the Lord’s strength, to keep the Message alive……for the building of the kingdom of God for His glory.

Until then…..

From Glory to Glory

From Glory to Glory

Celebrating Veteran’s Day

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Seymour Johnson Air Force Base Goldsboro, NC 1980

Seymour Johnson Air Force Base Goldsboro, NC 1980

So proud of my husband, U. S. Air Force Retired Monty Self. Our service together as a family has taught us so many wonderful things and blessed us with amazing friendships all around the world.

It is a choice that is not for the faint of heart. There were challenges all along the way but our lives are richer for it and I would not change one moment of our military lifestyle. We’re all blessed by the men and women who have sacrificed their lives to grant us the freedoms that we enjoy today!

May the Lord continue to honor and bless every service member past and present. We pray earnestly for the family member(s) related to a veteran or active duty service member for YOUR sacrifice as well!! You are the unsung heroes who keep the home front strong while the person serving does what they believe in….protecting and defending the constitution of the United States of America at all costs.

We are still One nation under God! A huge thank you to ALL veterans for your service! We honor YOU!!!

Happy Veteran’s Day with deep appreciation!

Protect And Defend

Protect And Defend

Rhythm Church @ River Street Park

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The 2013 Joy Journey River Street Park

The 2013 Joy Journey
http://www.go2mro.com
Motor Racing Outreach
River Street Park

At this days’ end….
Hearts bent low, enlarged and filled with gratitude……
Every small gift glimpsed, this side of heaven today, culminates in fullness of joy!! When we fail to find the right words, Ann Voskamp’s daily journal entry captures thoughts, conversations, wonderings and the tenet of our collective hearts find definition.
Dump Harper

Dump Harper

“Something grows in me and it doesn’t have words and it doesn’t ask for words. Asks only witnessing. Only gratitude. Only the living that lets the everyday dirt become the sacred everyday. There are times it seems wrong to keep your shoes on, to do anything less than stand bare-heeled and bowed and broken wide open. Them bent. The way a soul can grow any way it chooses.” @AnnVoskamp One Thousand Gifts A Dare To Live Fully Right Where You Are http://www.aholyexperience.com/

Gwen Howard and Karen Clark

Gwen Howard and Karen Clark

Tonight our hearts thank God for freedom’s voice captured on this warm, sunny day in May. The freedom to thoughtfully pursue life as God speaks, to find hope in the cumulative, simple graces of seasoned friendships with like hearts alongside together. For this life to have a reason to get up each day, to breathe and for hearts that beat to faithfully serve God out of His great love for us!

“Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the Lord your God that He has given you.” Deuteronomy 16:17

We made & welcomed two new friends. Our walk through the River Street Community was so worth the time. The Spirit’s work in our hearts. Our eyes become the window genuine and touch all that God longs for on this day. We see the soil of hearts and seed every eternal truth we can into them. His touch like a fountain flows for the purpose of bearing witness to the something greater that He is within us. We absolutely understanding that we are so small in this world; the lesser things, nothing special except that His Holy Spirit lives in and through us. Blessed that He has purposed His desire, earnest and searing “for such time as this’

River Street Park

River Street Park
“All of this darkness can’t overtake that little tiny light,” Michael “Big Dog” Burris

We, tucked beneath our sturdy roofs, safely protected from the rain, wind, and earthly elements. In the eternal, through life’s storms, promises made, broken and kept, daily bread, living water, provision, a future, a hope, an eternal promise……HIS promises…..oh yes, and the wind at the top of the hill on a very hot day. We commit, search, pursue, and pray in faith believing just as Jesus taught us. Our Father..in Heaven..hallowed be Thy name…Thy will be done….On earth as it is in Heaven….Daily Bread….forgiveness of debt…forgiving our debtors…lead not into temptation….deliver us from evil…Thine is: the Power, the Glory…Forever!!!

946618_564229967217_1434667506_nOn reflection, we share hearts overwhelmed with goodness. Tender hugs, life’s challenges confessed…transparent. No place or need to hide. Life is hard. We are all on this journey of faith together as seekers, dreamers, hopeful hearts, open, guarded and filled with the raw emotion of scars from life’s raging battles….The rhythm of our movement still takes our breath away. We should listen more closely to the children. Their unheard cry for help is simple and their love is without demands. Sweet kisses on our cheeks. A small hand touches a back, just to be close and shares his applesauce as an offering for sharing our kindnesses…..Mother, daughters and grandchildren share this day together.

Mother, daughters and grandchildren share this day together.

It is whimsical, fun, intent as little hearts hug you from behind, beside, from the top of our heads to the very planting of our feet. Paint on noses, fingers, toes and clothing but with concentrated effort. Four small boys try to sit all at once on an open lap. Every person from young to old sits to paint, relax and feel child-like again. Every time our back is to them and upon turning around, another chair, a new face smiling at the simplicity of life’s activity in the neighborhood. Nowhere else to be but just in the here…the now. So far removed from any lingering thoughts of tense moments as they arise or what will be when the sun goes down. The “I love you’s” still linger and haunt us in every good way. Any child there could be loved as our own. No need for explanation or to know any part of the story because of the active heart of God’s Holy Spirit is breathing, seeing, stirring, bringing to life every closed off place in our hearts. His love for humanity surrounds us and is in EVERY touch!!!!

Kristen Yeley, Bobby and Missy deSouza

Kristen Yeley, Bobby and Missy deSouza

We pause, step back and see in every vignette, all hearts smiling. We are forced to take a deep breath and settle our spirits into the fullness of God. The wellspring of life!!!! Tangible. Measurable…Palpable. It is close: in your lap, on your hip, a jump from behind or in front that dares to literally knock you down.. To be reminded that a simple wooden car is the key that has opened this lovely door.Matt Clark
Matt Clark
In the middle of everything that is messy, the square covered shelter becomes a  life-giving place that allows us all  to forget….even if just for one moment!!  And how it stops us, dead in our tracks, with its fullness. Smiles….genuine, momentary, fleeting and there is little time to savor and chew on its richness….a snapshot of life….real life!! And then we consider and wish for one more life to live, to do more, to reach deeper and farther in the promise of seeing God’s Kingdom enlarged and made greater. Sigh.
Gwen Howard

Gwen Howard

Humbled…we slow and savor our heart’s cry. Hoping to capture every second and store the time deep within that place in our hearts that we draw from on the hard days. In recollection, we are posed with a relative question…In OUR day-to-day living, is there really this kind of hard? How God has filled our cups to overflowing. We cry out to God with hands uplifted in praise and pray, Lord,  fill them up again tonight!!
Living Love

Living Love

“If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty. But even if he doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.” Daniel 3:17-18

“We’ll give thanks to You with gratitude. For lessons learned in how to trust in You. That we are blessed beyond what we could ever dream. In abundance or in need. And if You never grant us peace. But Jesus, would You please . .” Nicole Nordeman

“When thanks to God becomes a habit – so joy in God becomes your life.” Ann Voskamp

Danielle Bolin, Melanie Self, Faith Yeley, Dump Harper, JJ Yeley

Danielle Bolin, Melanie Self, Faith Yeley, Dump Harper, JJ Yeley

Gratitude by Nicloe Nordeman

River Street Park Love

River Street Park Love

Check out the complete photo album on Facebook!

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10201288819965369.1073741827.1318481111&type=1&l=9689e76adb

Learning to Dance Brave

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“Fearful? Fear is always the first step of faith. Forward!” Ann Voskamp

“Whenever you are lost, forward is always the way Home.” Ann Voskamp

I am excited to share this Joy Journey with you!! But as sure as God is at work, the enemy is not far behind.

Yep. So, I took some quiet time away with the Lord today. In God’s sovereignty, I found myself reading the most wonderful passage in Hebrews 11, The Hall of Faith.

In my mind I walked and looked as if portraits of faith lined the walls of this journey.

By faith…..so many cherished men and women of faith led the way with their stories. And I reminded that, no matter what, by an act of faith, they were called by God and it most always led them into difficult places.

Today my heart was refocused for a new opportunity of faith: Learning to “Dance Happy” (Ann Voskamp) So, when fear not faith relentlessly pursues my mind and heart. When anxious thoughts long to consume me and shake my spirit. I have two choices: Fear or Faith

What things shake your faith? Push you to run into fear and anxious living? Are you hurled into an abyss and wonder how to escape? Do you (and I) worry about the things that never really happen? Or if they do, God rules by His Sovereign hand?

I would list my failed faith here but for best use of space, i surrender this time to a faithful God. The Way, the Truth and Life who completes my weakness and lifts my spirit to one of love, power, trust, dependance and grace upon grace!!

John Calvin said that the stability of the world depends on the rejoicing in Your (God’s) works.

I flounder at absorbing the fullness of God’s works!! Yet am smiling all inside at the thought of the Happy Dance and throwing anxiety and fear off the throne that I have empowered it to live !!

I continue on, intent on holding the line of faith that has been entrusted to me. NO MATTER WHAT!! And to replace the fear of the abyss with the will of God for my life that brings me such eternal joy. In every little daily thing, to pursue rejoicing over His works in my little life of faith!!

“I could go on and on, but I’ve run out of time. There are so many more—Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, the prophets. . . .

Through acts of faith, they toppled kingdoms, made justice work, took the promises for themselves. They were protected from lions, fires, and sword thrusts, turned disadvantage to advantage, won battles, routed alien armies. Women received their loved ones back from the dead. There were those who, under torture, refused to give in and go free, preferring something better: resurrection. Others braved abuse and whips, and, yes, chains and dungeons.

We have stories of those who were stoned, sawed in two, murdered in cold blood; stories of vagrants wandering the earth in animal skins, homeless, friendless, powerless—the world didn’t deserve them!—making their way as best they could on the cruel edges of the world.

Not one of these people, even though their lives of faith were exemplary, got their hands on what was promised.

God had a better plan for us: that their faith and our faith would come together to make one completed whole, their lives of faith not complete apart from ours” Hebrews 11:32-40

Friends, this is where the hall of faith does not end, but continues…..with you and I writing a faith-filled life story.. One little faith step at a time….for His glory!!

Today, my joy journal entry:
A Faithful God

And me……

I am learning with each new day how to Dance Brave!

Learning to Dance Brave

Learning to Dance Brave

Living Thanks with Bated Breath

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“In Your presence if fulness of joy.” Psalm 16:11 http://www.deniseinbloom.com

I am a self-proclaimed painfully transparent and verbose lover and follower of Jesus Christ. I am passionate 🙂 and you will likely not miss my input of thought and idea in any conversation. Certainly not a shock for anyone that knows me well. {We can discuss my failed strength at another time. I promise!}

Truthfully, words rarely fail me… I find great joy in speaking life into the hearts of those who seek out my heart for care. Humbling.

I honestly almost passed over this journal post based on the title. Sorry Ann Voskamp. I adore your ministry to my heart.

But read I must before closing the final window on my computer as I closed the work day. I know, I was drawn by the Holy Spirit to stop. Honestly, I clicked the X and began reading at the same time, thankful to the Lord that He rescued my needy heart for one more moment with Him.

I was immediately absorbed by the tenets written as dear to my heart. Longing as I continued longing for and discovering its deeper meaning…

My response….tears…..not just one but a cascade unleashed. So much so, that I stopped….then paused…..breathe, yes breathe, I kept reminding myself……but I found myself “with bated breath” while reading this Ann Voskamp’s journal post.

The under-used phrase “with bated breath”, refers to a state in which you almost stop breathing as a result of some strong emotion, such as terror or awe. In awe, I am brought into awareness the purpose for my pause, as I vaguely remember my grandmother tongue-in-cheek saying that phrase on more than on occasion, most often with much eye communication and wondering. Huh? However, today, I found heart resolve! http://www.worldwidewords.org

Things close in and near to my heart today…..have caught my breath and God allowed me a moment of pause “but for God’s grace”…..Sincerely.

The joy of gathering with family this past week in  Thanksgiving. The sudden loss of a young soul and injury to a young family member in the community that we serve. A distressed heart as it carries the burden for another…..makes not only my breath but my heartbeat faint….parents, siblings, family, friends, the sum total of the communal family…..loss, regret, forgiveness not from God~we get an all-forgiving God but forgiving oneself, wishing for one more day, moment, opportunity….

” All of life is messy. And there are no islands in the Kingdom of God.” Ann Voskamp

How do we know the pain of the “messy” without walking through the heart-break “messy” brings, holding on in the middle of “messy”,  caring beside of the “messy”, and upholding alongside from near or afar….

Through numbness learning to breathe again, trust again, waking up from the lost moments waiting, walking one step  at-a-time, through each day at-a-time, even if barely holding on….

Not a time for placating church words that offer little solace but with arms reaching out to hold the body of the grief-laden heart and soul just as God would.

Leading hearts toward hope renewed, finding a voice again, a message, the awkward newness of it all…..

Knowing where our trust must lie and the honest, yet real inner conflict in allowing that to truly happen. To release it unto a Sovereign God and know……

A young man, Ted, battling cancer, a group of Godly, loving men in support and Ted’s humble response to this “pause” in his life. “…..nothing can steal your joy unless you hand it over”.

And the more I read, the more I keep reminding myself to breathe…..I was yearning for more of this mans resolve of simple faith…. “with bated breath”!

“Thanksgiving is action de grace in French —  and after Thanksgiving comes Christmas and after grace comes action, and we don’t occasionally give thanks to feel good but we live thanks.” Ann Voskamp

My lungs begin the slow exhale as I neared the ending of this good “pause” for me. I was encouraged and challenged to stop and allow the final words to resonate on my heart at this days ending.

Not really sure if you needed this as much as I did today, but I invite you into the joy of my little “pause”….

Today, I was reminded anew, “This Thanksgiving that never ends,” no matter my “pause”, is the way of finding true daily joy in my life as I live out the “touching of others lives with tender actions of grace.”

I am so very grateful for every person in my life that has “paused” with me through the rough places and set tenets of faith in their tender grace-filled actions that I still hold dear as a model of Jesus Christ today.

Yes. That is how I long for my heart to be bent…..I desire for it to be my heartbeat…..grateful, joyous….to  carry others burdens through in the daily through “tender actions of grace”.

“When grace rescues you, then giving thanks is the responding action. When grace delivers you, then action defines you. When grace takes you in right where you are, then you act out your gratitude wherever you are. 365 days of the year.” Ann Voskamp

My quiet moment of prayer to the Lord as I close….
Lord, never let me go, keep me mindful of this “pause” for hearing with my heart; I long and wait “with bated breath” for every opportunity to live out “tender actions of grace” that you provide for me as I move and You lead me in Your will….. for Your glory…..for Your kingdom come!

Breathing…..
“…..nothing can steal my/our joy unless you/I hand it over”.

So be encouraged today beloved of God. We are His and He is Who we depend on when we face the challenging opportunities for “pauses” that bring growth and understanding to our hearts.

Thanks so much for sharing this journey of faith with me. Praying that this offering of  a “tender action of grace” will meet need and fill all that your heart can hold!!

You are loved….

Living Simply~Simply Living!

Mel

“We’re depending on God; He’s everything we need. What’s more, our hearts brim with joy since we’ve taken for our own His holy name. Love us, God, with all You’ve got — that’s what we’re depending on.” (Psalm 33:20-22 MSG)

Check out A Holy Experience! You will be better for it!
http://www.aholyexperience.com/2012/11/how-beards-men-random-acts-of-kindness-can-change-the-world/