Tag Archives: faith

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

She Senses The Worth of Her Work

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She Senses The Worth of Her Work

I have aspired to these words because of the faithful example of my grandmother. 

I lived to know “love” like she did. 

Genuine, transparent and honest.

I lived to “do” as she did out of genuine love for others.

No matter their story, she gave, served and never doubted her commitment to the opportunity that God would provide. 

Available. Sensitive. Attentive.

I live to “live” like she did. 

Full. Free. Faithful.
By faith, with the Lord’s help and empowered by the “helper”, the Holy Spirit. 

She was the breath of God and that passion still breathes in me. 

She was opulent. She was a lover of life, a dreamer of big dreams and a faithful servant of God.

Why? 

Because God never does things half-way.

She was brave, strong-minded and invincible, with a whole lot of Scarlett O’Hara in her. 

She picked up the pieces in the midst of tragedy and built life kingdoms with love, grace, kindness and faith. 

My grandfather, her husband, would succumb to a heart attack at the age of 42. Gone too soon. She was resilient and has a push through attitude- There was not an option to quit but to thrive, not just survive!

Yet the steel resolve, life’s had chiseled in stone on my grandmother’s brow as her face told her story of hard things. 

YES! Hard things. 

She grew up a tobacco and watermelon farmer’s daughter. They lived on land inherited from my great-grandmother Emma Blanche Melvin. Her father, Larry Fisher married into a very wealthy, yet hard-working family and proceeded to the work of his hand- a 200 hundred acre farm alongside of his beloved.

Only two of their children survived their childhood. It was challenging but God was faithful to fill their small family with love,  mercy and commitment to giving to the greater good of others.

Sadness. Loss. Struggle. 

My grandmother would learn it all too well herself! She gave birth to my mother, Anne, and she would be her only child after many lost pregnancies.
I have never known such rich love and I have failed at much of the active part of faith spoken to and based on the “perfect” Proverbs 31 wife.

Yet I know grace, an unending love for my Savior and a commitment to give my life to loving and serving others in Jesus name.

So while I never expected unrealistic perfection from my grandmother I learned about grace from her. Grace given. Grace received. She owned her failure, sorrow, pain, offered up a sincere apology for any error and then picked herself up to blaze a new and good path forward. 

I LOVED, still love and admire her tenacity. No time to waste! She KNEW the worth of her work and she challenged me to live the same. She lived fully present despite being a widow until she died.

Passion. To dream big dreams. To obey every little unseen yet worthy sacrifice to see it to the end and to the best of my ability.

She taught me real things. Like how to make biscuits. My favorite place was standing on a short stool at the white and red metal table. Most every morning she cooked and I made biscuits. He morning routine included listening to the local news, weather and of course the obituaries on the old radio in her kitchen. I was offended shushed up so that she could hear. When she hears about a need, an unexpected loss, felt moved with compassion- we’d make more biscuits, fry some chicken, pack a box with it all and add some sweet tea. 

We’d pile in the car and deliver food made with love, wrap compassions arms around someone with great love and set the table, put ice in the glasses and make sure everyone was cared for. She  would say to me as we left every time, “We can only pray that the mourner’s sorrow would be made light with loves response.”

So, Mama Hales, this one is for you! I cannot imagine my life of faith without your tender heart and guided hand that faithfully taught me how to find my passion for doing good with my life and encouraged me to extend mercy and grace to everyone one small step at a time.

Heaven is better for you being there as I can imagine your strong demeanor and passion is bowed low before the Heavenly Father in worship. You are praying us forward and encouraging us to not lose heart. To keep the faith. To obey the Father. To never forget God’s love for us. To serve Him for all of our days.

Not one will ever likely tell of the your impact in your small world but I will remain faithful to every little thing that I am tasked to do- for YOUR glory and our good. 

So much to learn, so much to surrender and so much left to live- a beautiful legacy of faith that you have gifted us with and now we hold it all in our hearts until heaven.

“A good woman is hard to find,and worth far more than diamonds. Her husband trusts her without reserve, and never has reason to regret it. Never spiteful, she treats him generously all her life long.

She shops around for the best yarns and cottons, and enjoys knitting and sewing.

She’s like a trading ship that sails to faraway places and brings back exotic surprises. 

She’s up before dawn, preparing breakfastfor her family and organizing her day. 

She looks over a field and buys it, then, with money she’s put aside, plants a garden.

First thing in the morning, she dresses for work, rolls up her sleeves, eager to get started. 

She senses the worth of her work……and is in no hurry to call it quits for the day. 

She’s skilled in the crafts of home and hearth, diligent in homemaking. 

She’s quick to assist anyone in need, reaches out to help the poor. 

She doesn’t worry about her family when it snows; their winter clothes are all mended and ready to wear. 

She makes her own clothing, and dresses in colorful linens and silks.

Her husband is greatly respected when he deliberates with the city fathers. 

She designs gowns and sells them, brings the sweaters she knits to the dress shops. Her clothes are well-made and elegant, and she always faces tomorrow with a smile.

When she speaks she has something worthwhile to say, and she always says it kindly. 

She keeps an eye on everyone in her household,

and keeps them all busy and productive. 

Her child(ren) respect and bless her; her husband joins in with words of praise.

“Many women have done wonderful things, but you’ve outclassed them all!” 

Charm can mislead and beauty soon fades. The woman to be admired and praised is the woman who lives in the Fear-of-God.

Give her everything she deserves! Festoon her life with praises!” 

Proverbs 31:25-3I

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

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Looking For Lovely

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As a musician and singer, this excerpt from “Looking For Lovely” by Annie F. Downs rings so near to how my heart beats not only for corporate worship but my private interaction with the Lord as worship throughout my day.

While I rarely get to sing and lead worship these days, savoring alone times with the Lord Jesus fuels my spirit. It is there my soul finds encouragement, rest and refreshing.

As author Annie F. Downs, Looking For Lovely writes,

“Based on what’s going on with my day, or in my heart, I take their melody and some of their words and add my own. Because sometimes I like to worship God through a song that’s my own and sometimes getting through a hard day or a hard moment is only possible when I bring my own lovely truth into it.”

Learning to purpose to find the lovely in every single moment of every good, hard or indifferent day has been transforming. A simple practice that implements a small shift- fixing my eyes and fixing thoughts on Jesus in the midst of Him writing my story- for His glory!

~allowing the melody of that day to become my song

Yes!

Just wondering how your day might be going? Can you step back and easily acknowledge your truth and melody?

My soul has learned to sing with breathing melodies. It is not always pretty but it is authentic and honoring to God.

Sweet communion with Him always cares for me so perfectly!

What’s YOUR story of finding the lovely today?

I’d really love to hear! ❤️ Mel

“Fix your thoughts on what is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” Philippians 4:8

 

Looking For Lovely

God’s Comfort, Strengh and Healing Through Pain and Loss

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God’s Comfort, Strengh and Healing Through Pain and Loss

I remember the phone call just like it was yesterday. I was joyfully pregnant with our second child and busy with our about to be two year-old daughter. These were busy, tiring and beautiful days.

It was just after midnight. The phone rang and after the hello, my parent’s neighbor Sam asked immediately to speak with my husband Monty. It struck me as odd but I handed the phone to him. As I watched Monty’s face, I knew in my spirit that my daddy was gone. 

Monty held me and whispered the most painful news that I had ever known. The wave of emotion took my breath. I fell to my knees and was just sure that my heart would stop beating. Nooooooo……. I willed myself to breathe.

The details were cut and dry. Simple. He went to sleep and never woke up. Later his autopsy would tell that the artery on the backside of his heart exploded. The widow-maker artery. There was nothing that could have been done even if there had been a doctor right beside of him. 

There was no consolation in that. It was just simply the facts surrounding his early and unexpected death. My father Morrison was forty-two years old. My life then and even now still knows and aches with the pain of losing him. 


I had no idea that this journey toward healing would lead me to run straight into the arms of my Heavenly Father. In brokenness and grief, I learned more about faith, trusting and resting in the comfort that can only come from God. In the days ahead, all that I knew how to do was to hold on tight and be held by the power that was greater than it all.

I learned soon that the process of grieving would not happen overnight. It would happen in phases. Everything that I had learned about God to date immediately came into question. My not so welcomed journey toward healing and peace was paved with hard places, tears and grace. For the first time in my life I learned what it meant to be held by God and to be surrounded by His faithfulness.

I am not sure what pain your heart may carry today. But the following are some of the words that carried this small heart, brought me back to life and helped me learn to breathe again. 

Jesus knows the pain we are going through and He cares.


In 1985, encouraged me to dive even deeper into God’s Word. The truth is, I did so out of obedience. Nothing made sense but I longed and needed to know Him more. The washing of the water of the Word was my rescuer’s beginning work of transformation not just an sure and steadfast God but my Heavenly  Father and loving God!

During the blur of dark days, there was no greater comfort than that of the Lord. To be held in His arms of love led me safely and renewed my hope.


Our strength comes from the Lord and the Lord alone. There were some days filled with unreasonable fear and the discouragement was a heavy weight that my body became accustomed to carrying. Yet there were days where the light I glimpsed in the distance lifted my gaze. For tomorrow’s bright hope, I fought hard to remain fully there. When I face hard things and feel God’s palpable hold, I am taken back to where my spirit’s strength was forged in fire.


Healing starts where pain, grieving and loss begin. In the deafening silence, there are whispers. God is faithful to draw our lives in the midst of real-life, to honest, yet peaceable places until the promised reuniting with those we have loved so well and miss so very much. 

I can honestly say that the healing came only in complete surrender. 

For every day that was lost to just making it though the necessary moments, God would restore and in the midst of that transforming power I learned to receive grace. 

In learning to receive grace, I can now give grace more freely because it is the pure and true grace of God that I have known so deep in my heart and soul.

The real truth is, I no longer need to understand, explain it nor feel robbed. I can rejoice in the Lord’s redeeming work in my life. Today I was compelled to share because so many people that I know and love are broken, hurting, grieving, suffering, longing, waiting and feeling isolated and alone.

These things I know at this day’s end, that no matter our pain, our Lord Jesus is enough. I am also very well aware that someone telling you HOW you should feel or respond does no good and just alienates you even more from the pathway to healing. In this world we WILL know pain and suffering. 

So what is the answer when you wonder if you will ever feel again? Laugh again? Believe again? Breathe again?

Find another heart who will listen. Reach out to me because the pain is real and I want to hold your hand, walk alongside of you and find you the support that your heart needs. More than anything it is imperative for you to know that your feelings are fair, platitudes just make you mad and the God who loves and created you is the strength behind the very air when you feel you cannot breathe.

And the suffering for “a little while” (OK so that “little while” ‘may fully feel like forever right now)….. and that is ok!

The grief. The pain. The heartache. The loss. The fear. The doubt. 

Not one of those emotions will ever go away nor should we wish that they would but instead their reseidence in our spirits will continue to mold, direct and shape us until we see Jesus face to face. For today and for compassions sake, we are attentive and wait to move until we feel that tug from the Holy Spirit to step toward another life and speak words of hope as one who knows, understands and God has woven His best through their very own valley of the shadow of death.

God promises.

God does.

God will. 

Restore. Support. Strengthen. Place you on a firm foundation.

Defining moments change us from the inside out and in His sovereignty God wants the very best for His beloved. We trust God, faithfully surrender and release every transforming moment back to the Lord as our gift. 

Through it all, He remains constant with gracious direction that sings over us as we become the beautiful grace-givers that He has perfectly guided and shaped for the love and care of others.

David knew this very well. We camp here and raise our hands and voices in worship. 

Goodness. Unfailing Love. Forever.

Psalm 23

A psalm of David.

“The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need. He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength. 

He guides me along right paths bringing honor to his name. Even when I walk through the darkest valley I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me. 

You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You honor me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings. Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.”

Reflection: Befriend: Create Belonging in an Age of Judgment, Isolation, and Fear

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“With Jesus, preemptive declarations of grace and love and no-condemnation establish the environment for conversations about truth, morality, and ethics. It can be no other way.” 
Author Scott Saul Befriend: Create Belonging in an Age of Judgment, Isolation, and Fear

I love a quiet afternoon with Ann VosKamp and her front porch guests. 
Today’s post by Pastor Saul stopped me in my tracks for a bit of soul-searching of my own. 
Ann VosKamp is wise. How do I know? She has learned to sit at the feet of those who know the transforming love and grace of God so very well that they are compelled to proclaim the good and glory of God. 
Shoutin’ glory as it relates to their very own honest view of the not so pretty, imperfect, real and messy business of life. You know the life that faces the world head-on in pursuit of the real meaning to it all? 
The truth of it is that some of us find the real Jesus for life sooner rather than later and that is a blessing. For others, it takes years of pain, heartache and struggle until they know the surrender of the arms of an all loving God.
The following excerpt toward the end of the powerfully convicting post by Pastor Scott Saul caused me to consider how many times I may have inadvertently offered my judgement in word and action far more quickly than love and grace. 
Grace, a ready favor. Love so undeserved. The free gift of eternal life. I know more now why my grandmother spent her days living, breathing and singing sweet hymns of the promise of heaven. 

“After eighteen years of pastoral ministry, I have never met a person who fell in love with Jesus because a Christian scolded them about their morality or their ethics. Have you?”

In the end, the following words of Anne Lamott hang hauntingly over me and I have mulled them over and over for hours.
“It’s okay to realize that you’re crazy and very damaged. All the best people are.
Grace and love must come before ethics.
No-condemnation must come before the morality discussion.

Because it is God’s kindness that leads to repentance, not our repentance that leads God to be kind.

Love – the broad embrace of the narrow path – will trigger some of the most life-giving experiences you’ll ever be part of.

I have known my own life-giving experiences and have been so grateful for love in action, grace expressed among the people of God who held me, never uttered a word and cried WITH me.
There is so much pain in this world. Pain that makes your heart feel as if it could explode at any moment and is only diffused when the eyes of compassion that look right back at you. Truth. Inthat very  moment of need, the eyes of love  and grace knows! There is no more peaceful place than the soul deep affirmation that you are loved and in that breath no words are needed. 
Not. One. Word. 
So where does that kind of love begin and grace abound?

“We must first realize that LOVE is the environment that we ourselves are already living inside of. 

Love has to be a Person to us before it can become a verb.” Scott Saul

At this day’s end…….. 
This small heart is overcome by God’s love that wraps me all up tight and swells over my life such palpable grace. 
Where DOES that kind of love begin and grace extend?
In and through me….
In and through you…..
Grace and love speak louder than words. ALWAYS!
Lord, keep me mindful of the your extreme love and grace extended to me. May my habit of love and grace’s response be exponentially the same on even the hardest days. 
When I am wrangling my own demons write love and grace in my heart. For all of my days; the good, challenging, when I don’t feel well, knees are swollen, head is aching, have worked hard on the sweatiest, coldest, draining, did not sleep well last night, aggravated, in need of heart rest and self care, backbreaking and enduring days.
And yes Lord, may we walk humbly in the love and grace that responds because of our personal relationship with Jesus Christ. May our heavenly minded action respond as an outpouring of love and grace extended… 
May all that we know intellectually be true, honest and authentic as our lives speak of who God is- 
We love because God first loved us!
May our anthem cry be that of our view toward heaven and the level ground at the foot of the cross…..

Come ye sinners, poor and needy. 

Weak and wounded, sick and sore. 

Jesus, ready, stands to save you. 

Full of pity,  joined with power…

Let not conscience make you linger

 Nor of fitness fondly dream.

Check out the entire guest post @ 

http://annvoskamp.com/2017/02/its-okay-to-be-damaged-all-the-best-people-are/

Treasured Friend Through The Years

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Treasured Friend Through The Years

Love this treasured friend for loving me so very real! Thanks for always supporting, sharing and believing in my crazy dreams. We have seen the kingdom of God work in power as we have co-labored together. Grateful to the Lord for you!! #friendsforlife

That’s Important To Me Joey and Rory Feek

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Lord, thank you for reminding us to live fully in the moments that we are given. To hold on tight to what is important to us. Hold us close Lord with tender love and help us to slow the crazy pace for moments of refreshing and to be in all the together places that we cherish. Our souls need each others attention and time committed for no television, no phones, no laptop, no commitments but to that which has been our covenant before God.

Things my heart and life will never take lightly or for grated…

God first. Time for you, my beloved for life and me. To deeply love and care for my family. To let them go to be the amazing man and woman, husband and wife, helpmate, provider and parent that they have been created for. The beauty of our ministry together for almost all of these 35 years. The conversations about the tomorrows and hope.To never miss one sunset together even if it means driving 30 minutes to do so or to be okay with just rocking quietly in the chairs on our front porch.

And honey, did I mention I’d like a treehouse in our backyard?? Please??

Hang tight…..the potatoes are ready to be mashed and the meatloaf smells divine…… And my man is sweetly calling…… “Are the potatoes ready yet dear?”

My heart always turns to him because I love doing the things for him that make him happy. We ate dinner together. Nothing else in this moment mattered. God would speak later if this was His time to whisper something beautiful to my heart. We chat and all the while my spirit is listening. Monty Self promises to clean up the kitchen so that I could get back to that thing that God is giving birth to. He sees it in my eyes and how I smile when words flow from my communion with the Father. Suddenly in my distraction he taps my leg and smiles that smile that still makes me love him all over again. I quietly move back to the computer with grateful heart.

God you speak so softly, sometimes so carefully that if our heart is not devotedly attuned to You we walk right over our Savior’s breathing message so alive. Once again my heart is schooled in learning to live even in death. I cannot quiet His voice. Truths worthy to be held and considered.

The Lord brought this verse to mind tonight.

As we remember those who are experiencing pain and loss, we see it also described in Isaiah 66:9.

The promised delivery of God’s only son would be painful but would be necessary for the new covenant to be born. Prophesy. The gift of a baby- God’s only son. Jesus Christ, the perfect lamb of God who would bear the sin of all mankind. God knew the pain of loss. Don’t you know if He could have made it happen any other way He would have? We are made to rescue and protect. The heart of God, our defender, His heart knew it necessary because of His great love for His creation and the only way to restore the love relationship that was broken at the fall of Adam and Eve.

Prophecy spoken. Promises kept. The enduring hope for all of mankind. For Rory Feek. For Joey. For their family. For you. For me.

Redeeming love was their love story too…….until death do us part..

Joey & Rory

“I will not cause pain without allowing something new to be born” says the Lord. Isaiah 66:9

Death and Life

craftsbydaniellelee

My life has been far from perfect, even still sin’s nature in me will win when I drop my arms in battle. A scared little girl way too grown up for the time when this small heart came to know such great love.It still overwhelms me in all of the right and surrendered ways that God created me for this moment and has plans that are uniquely for me to live out. The beauty of my heavenly Father to trust me enough to speak to others about His love, mercy, grace and goodness. To serve Him with my life, a privilege to represent and bring honor to His name. The joy it brings when He places in my heart words that have always been my art. (well, not really art. Truthfully I CAN draw flowers and…. oh yes. Stick people. No lie I can even draw clothes on stick people. Did I mention that I am verbose? This lover of words is ALWAYS in need of an editor!

Monty and I have known what it is like to have much and to have little One thing I know is true in this very moment of our marriage is that we know what it means to be content. Our resolve to lose no more ground to the enemy who has been persistent in the fight for our hearts is foundational and steadfast. Our love has endured and God has been faithful and true.

Yes, we have known our own sufferings but we sincerely pray for opportunities to share our story raw, honest and so very real. My connection in heart was immediate when I first read something written Joey and Rory last Fall. It is a beautiful thing to read words that cut in all of the right ways and make you better for time spent alongside of their lives.

There was no glittering up the truth. Joey wrote and the powerful nature of God was alive even in the midst of the valley of the shadow of death. There was comfort as their lives encouraged others in the daily.

Joey and Rory wrote words that were born in their hearts. We will remember that love tucked sweetly away in moments that we need the reminder. To watch God ever redeeming their love for each other as the whole world watched. The sunset tonight filled my heart with gratitude all in the middle of sadness for the precious little one who albeit tragic WILL know her mama because those who loved Jesus became invested in her journey. Out of love, her husband lived the words he wrote to tell her grace-filled story.

Collective hearts agree tonight that life is short even when you get to live for many, many years. We the broken, frail and surrendered lives want to do it differently in measuring the loss of another life and spirit gone too soon. It is so easy to move along and forget. Lord give us the days to tell of Your love as You will.

This I know at this day’s end……

God is love.
God lavishes grace.
When life seems hopeless, mercy is poured out.
God’s character is to redeem, restore and reconcile.
God prepares hearts for such a time as this.
The Lord is near the brokenhearted..

To be absent from the body it to be present with the Lord.

Hallelujah!!

We rest in truth tonight.

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

2016 One Word by Margaret Feinburg

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2016 One Word by Margaret Feinburg

Sharing a beautiful message from Margaret Feinburg on the dreary Saturday morning. 

For the last 10 years, I have chosen Biblical words to study for the purpose of implanting truths in my heart. My life has been so enriched by this small discipline outside of my regular Bible quiet time. The richness of this very special time alone with the Lord has so inspired my heart to live with an even greater faith as the depth of God’s Word has opened my eyes to many new and lovely characteristics of a God who is intrinsically diverse. Every word study has quietly and richly layered the cornerstone of my faith. And when something amazing is happening on our lives don’t you think you should share it with the people you love and care about? Absolutely!

Not sure what you day looks like but I wanted to share with you a beautiful freebie that only affirms my path and continues to pave a beautiful road that is worthy of traveling! And the truth is, we already have the map!!

Over the last few years my words have included joy, rest, faith, shadow, grace…..

My 2016 One Word is abundance. 

Welcome Margaget Feinburg……… Thanks for sharing out of our blessing this free One Word excercise.

Simply jump over the her website, enter your email address and get your free 2016 One Word mini book!! Meanwhile, enjoy the introduction as you prayerfully consider this good journey!

                   http://margaretfeinberg.com/whats-one-word-2016-free-download/#more-32229              

                       http://margaretfeinberg.com/whats-one-word-2016-free-download/

What’s your one word?

Sweet Friends,

Maybe you’re in a season of abundance. You have favor and delight and more opportunities than you know what to do.
Maybe you’re in a season of grace. You’re learning your limitations, discovering weaknesses, and awakening to God’s provision in the midst.
Maybe you’re in a season of adversity. Your marriage or finances or health or job or relationships are crumbling.

No matter what season you find yourself in, your Heavenly Father wants to speak to you.The beginning of a new year provides an opportunity for reflection and vision casting. This is a season to both look back and press forward in our relationship with God.

Over the past few years, I’ve asked God to give one word for the upcoming year.

One word that I can study.
One word that will perk my ears every time it appears.
One word that can be used to know the depths of God’s heart. One word that will lead me closer to Christ.

Previous years’ words include—listen, wonder, joy, and love. Each word has drawn me deeper into Scripture, closer to others, and helped me grow in my faith.

This year, I’m inviting you to ask God for your one word.
The word He wants to use to transform you and make you radiant like Christ.

May this One Word Guide awaken you to the work that God will be doing in and through you during the upcoming year.

Blessings, 

Margaret

Sending love from a One Word little ole me: 

Beloved of God. He has led you right here for such time as this!! Find your path and commit to walk in it! 

I would love to hear from you how God sin working in your life!!

Share YOUR #oneword365 with me below!!

 

Better yet! Jump over to http://oneword365.com/#earth and create your very own graphic FREE!

Join the community

Connect with other who share your One Word

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Get going on your journey! Easy Peasy!!

May God continue to lavish His abundant love on you in 2016. #oneword365/abundance

              

                                                         http://oneword365.com/#earth