Tag Archives: faith

Hope: Defiant Reliance on God Keeping His Word

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We have known the deep abyss of fear, yet hope has not for one minutes been far away. Why? Because we believe in the power of prayer. The faith of a mustard seed at times but God has always moved mountains. He is sure. Steadfast. Immovable. The mindset of hope on our knees shifts we “hope” so to “belief” in the assurance of God almighty as THE power greater than ourselves.

On our knees our view is heavenward where God the Father sees and knows the best for us- His view broader, wider and deeper than our minds can comprehend. And “by faith” we entrust, rest in every promise, settle in to the rhythm of His faithfulness over our lifetime and put one foot in front of the other believing in His love for His children.

Hope- a longing, a wanting, trust in what is unseen, yet we “feel” the very presence of love

Hope- an aspiration, desire, wish, expectation, ambition, aim, goal, plan, design, a dream

We make our plans. God directs our path.

Within the design of hope, we plant our feet in what is unseen and trust that the step in solid, steady and trustworthy

Hope-

-to cherish a desire with

anticipation

-to want something to happen or be

true

-to dream

-to believe without wavering

Hope-Full

Hope has permeated every prayer, conversation, conjecture of a future and in our dreams and plans there would never be a moment where we backed down.

For over three weeks now we have held tight to hope because the God we place our hope in holds us stronger and never loses grip- no matter how faithless we are in our hopes and dreams for a beautiful future for my sister.

To lose hope places a pause in the active work of God and we must not waver but pray always in faith BELIEVING!!

Today my sister has made a most amazing turn for the good. Not one culture that was taken was positive became the cause for the diagnosis.

Encephalopathy- an inflammation of the fluid around the brain that became infected. This beast, a self-limiting virus, likely became stronger than her weakened immune system could handle after a 9 day hospital stay for a GI Bleed.

She is a fighter. Resilient. Brave. And I have never been more proud of my little sister.

Words do not often fail me- But this has truly tested he fact that at times my inability to fully describe the angst and stirring in my heart….. The pursuit of hope often wavered but finding hope for Claudia superseded ANYTHING that I needed and will remain a worthy pursuit to keep hope alive in her!!

So often the very day the words fail to be found, the poetic painter of pictures with words, enables this heart to settle into its rhythm.

Beautiful words about hope in this time of Advent~ as we await and renew our alive again at the reminder of the coming of the promised Messiah- Jesus Christ.

Wonderful. Counselor. Mighty God. Prince of Peace.

🕊Peace 🕊Peace 🕊Peace

Words of hope at this day’s end~

Thank you Ann VosKamp for painting my world today with hope.

I rise today with the “thrill of unwavering knowing” Yes!!

“What gives us Hope if not God and who is the source of Hope if not our Savior?

Making up hope isn’t our job.

Hope is God’s job and our job is to trust that God’s making Hope.

That God’s making a way, because He is The Way.

Let the weary world rise with the thrill of the unwavering knowing:

When we’re tempted to fill with despair, Hope whispers that God will fulfill His promises.

When it feels like life is a setup to let you down, we will whisper it to ourselves like a resuscitation:

Hope is not the belief that things will turn out well, but the belief God is working through all things, no matter how things turn out.

And when we get karate kicked in the esophagus by life and it hurts to breathe, we will be the

Remembering People who retrace it slow again, how Hope works:

Hope fiercely promises to meet us in hard things now — because we fiercely trust God’s promise to make all things new.

You see: Hope is a defiant reliance on God keeping His Word.

The winds and the days may rage and the blaze of things may leave you feeling charred, but now is the time for faith to rise like a phoenix from ashes and we will:

Hold on to His Word for all you’re worth — because His Word is what proves God is trustworthy.

And when you know God is trustworthy — you know today is worthy of Hope.

When your bones know God ultimately makes good on His promises — that’s good enough reason for hope to burn in your bones.

As long as you still are, all is not lost. Being is hope, and hope is presence, and this present moment is a gift pulsing with hope.

Feel it even now:

Hope doesn’t promise success to the strong, but resurrection to the wrecked. Because success isn’t the virtue that will remain. Love, Joy and Hope are. So we will make those three that will remain, always our main thing.

Feel it especially now:

Like muscles, Hope is made by rising, again and again, lifting the weight of dark that’s conspiring to flatten us with the strength of His promises that’s certain to carry us.

Advent is learning how hope works and you can feel the warming light of the main thing that matters:

Hope is not some elusive lottery ticket for the lucky, but hope is the fiery torch the faithful raise in a life-grip to burn back the ugly face of the dark so they can see their promised land —

and the welcoming face of God.” ~Ann VosKamp

May hope surround you this night and for all of your tomorrows.

Lead Me Beside Still Waters

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There are days of doubt and fear when we pray…… unending, unrelenting, breathing prayer without ever saying a word out loud.

Praying in faith believing over the several weeks previous to this day’s end, have been made up of bold, believing shouts out loud to God prayers. With every opportunity, I have prayed with authority from the many years of deeply rooted truths from God’s Word written in my heart.

Tonight, there are prayers from a hospital room and an unexpected twist along this journey. How incredibly amazing that the hospital television has an entire “Healing Content”, get-well network, filled with beautiful photos and the ambient sounds of relaxing and restful places.

After Monty left tonight and I was settling in alongside of my sister, I chose for us the quiet of a trickling forest creek in hopes for her to rest peacefully through the night.

As the display of beauty and sound began to play, I adjusted the volume on the TV remote, placed it by her head and listened closely to her every breath as I watched her chest rise and fall.

We have had a most eventful and hard day. While there is still so much that we do not know, watching her sleep peacefully and breathe so perfectly soothes a bit of the anxious that rises up in me every now and then.

All that I CAN do for her is wait WITH her, focus my requests toward heaven and gather every ounce of strength that I have to speak truth over the darkness of the unknown…..

In these quiet moments, there is a strong sense of abiding union with the Lord. Whole as one. So much more than being held but a blanket of cover known only in the presence of the Holy Spirit’s bridled power spread deep and wide with enduring, unwavering love and care. So sweetly tender. Moment by moment awakening in the unseen work of God’s hand and I can feel it deep in my soul.

Known.

Not Alone.

Loved.

Every now and then the tears well up in my lower eyelids- right up to the edge and so very close to spilling out. Even this small heart dares to blink as a sign of conceding to defeat in the midst of this battle. #warrior #child #sister #caregiver

The waiting. That movement of God in my heart that reminds me— to hold on to and know full-well that God is greater.

He is able.

He is healer.

I watch a tear trickle from just inside the corner of Claudia’s eye. Our prayers have been steadfast and she is worthy of every petition that has been prayed and tenderly sifted through the hands of “The One” who sits at the right hand of God enthroned.

“…. our comfort in suffering is this: YOUR promises (God) renew our lives.” Psalm 119:50

I wipe away her tear and begin to breathe heavenward with each breath every promise that God brings to remembrance.

For every one of you that has prayed, we are so grateful. We are expectant and believing nothing less than this to be an opportunity for His glory to be displayed in her life. How it will bring honor to God— this we WILL tell!!

I continue to sing in my heart God’s Word and His promises over her as we settle in to the late night and into the early morning rhythm of another day if the Lord wills for answers.

Rescue.

Promise.

Restoration.

Lord, you promise that You are my (her) ever-present help in trouble…

You promise that Your grace is more than sufficient for my (her) every need…

You assure that you will never leave or forsake me (her)….

You promise to be the One who will go out and fight for me (her)….

With every promise my heart beats strong for her….

The book of Joshua tells me that you will be with me (her) wherever I (she) goes…..

You promise you are a refuge for the oppressed, and a stronghold in times of trouble…

You say You will counsel me (her) and watch over me (her), and guide me (her)by Your righteous right hand…

You’ll sustain me (her)and be my (her) mighty fortress…

You invite me (her) to cast my (her) cares on You, for You will never let me (her) fall…

Your name is a strong tower, and as the righteous run into it, they are safe…..

Jesus, You tell me I’m (SHE IS) SAFE….

In the sacred moments—

TRUTH spoke the depths of our darkness into light and became the presence of hope that I hold on tight to FOR her….

In the gap….

In the quiet…

In these moments…

While the whole world kept moving right outside of the door and not one thing regarding the circumstances have changed….

Truth. Set. Free.

The pain in my heart was and is still throbbing, but my courage has been renewed by truth for a road neither of us would have chosen. I am assured that no matter how old I get, in His sovereignty, God still allows me new opportunities along my faith journey that may stretch my heart. I am assured that they will always lead me on a path of promise and hope. The reminder that no matter how tough I think I am, it is the power of God that gives us the strength for every enduring moment we may face.

No. Matter. What.

I am smiling so fully inside. Actually I am STILL smiling all over the outside too!!

At some point my sister’s nurse came into the room- which I did not realize. She told me later that she paused but then left because I was typing and the smile on my face was not what she had seen previously and she wanted me to smile out loud for as long as that smile might possibly last.

Why?

Because the blessing of hope was no longer shadowed by my pursed lips and furrow on my brow but a smile secured by real faith- You know the kind of faith that wrangles through things with the Lord and is ultimately what real courage is made up of.

Courage that finds its position bowed low and giving thanks in ALL things!

Grrrrrr…… She so busted me!

An exhausting journey for so many reasons but it has not been because it is TOO hard.

Life is always moving and we all get weary for ALL of the right reasons. You know it is true.

With every Bible verse inwardly spoken over Claudia tonight came an infusion of life-giving blood into our spiritual veins.

In the quiet and stillness, the sweetness of God has revealed Himself as an ever present and perfectly available Savior.

“In my distress I called to the Lord; I cried to my God for help… He heard my voice….” Psalm 18:6

Wow. Just wow!

Ann VosKamp says it this way—

“Don’t ask me how it works, or how the Holy Spirit does it, but when we DO the Word – actually DO it — something splits the seams of heaven and pours out a shower of blessings.”

This I know—

Ankle deep in my humanity. Light broke through and overpowered the darkness tonight just as it did in that small stable in Bethlehem so very long ago!

This is where our hope lies. #thecoming #advent

Come Lord Jesus Come

At this day’s end……

Shop Early- Black Friday Deals Today!

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Shop Early- Black Friday Deals Today!

I just love giving to others. I grab sales all year long in hopes of blessing someone that I love!!

But I really LOVE to save money, so that I can do more! Right!

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How about also grabbing your Christmas cards early and writing a personal note in each card for the special friends, family, co-workers, neighbors and more!!

When did sending Christmas cards become just part of the checklist?

Let’s be intentional with sharing God’s love through a handwritten card with those you love this holiday season… isn’t that what the season is really all about?

With the code SHIPCARDS, you’ll receive free shipping on all Christmas card purchases now through 11/16.

Check out this awesome video about this sacred time of year!!

Christmas Cards

God In The Waiting Places

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God In The Waiting Places

Hurry is the death of prayer.

Rick Warren

What does it mean to station yourself before God as in the graphic scripture?

“It means stay put. It means, “I’m not moving.” It means, “I’m going to be still. I’m going to sit here and I am not going to move until I hear from you, God.” Rick Warren

Do you live your life revved up? Yep- me too!

How do you put the brakes on and slow down?

For the last 15, almost 16 years, we have lived life in the fast lane. It most assuredly has lived up to its mantra- guaranteed to blow your mind.

At MRO we joke~ the race waits on no one!

Monty and I have faced a Goliath of late. SCAD- spontaneous coronary artery dissection. In laymen’s terms, a tear in the lining of an artery in the heart.

The race waited on no one. We would miss two recent races dues to search for a more definitive answer and as well to determine the fate of our coming days.

God allows us moments of still and wait….. even though the race goes on. Right?

So how do we slow down when we live fully enthralled with excitement of the hustle and hurry?

Where is the time to calm our minds by relaxing our bodies?

Can you remember the last time that you took a deep breath relaxed your muscles and let the tension drain out?

Yep. Me either. Until the weekends of Pocono and Watkins Glen this month we were trudging alongside of every heart that we serve.

The Bible says David sat before the Lord. Some people think you have to kneel in prayer, and that is one of many appropriate ways to pray; but it’s not the most common way of praying in the Bible.

The most common form of praying in the Bible is standing with your eyes wide open looking up to heaven and talking out loud to God.

And as for Monty and I, we have learned a new posture of prayer over the last few weeks.

Jehoshaphat was a good King. He battled opposition and once he cried out to God for wisdom and help.

“Jehoshaphat stood and said, “Listen to me, Judah and people of Jerusalem! Have faith in the Lord your God and you will be upheld; have faith in his prophets and you will be successful.”….

Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the Lord and to praise him for the splendor of His holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying:

“Give thanks to the Lord, for his love endures forever.”

“As they began to sing and praise, the Lord set ambushes against the enemies and they were defeated….. the fear of God came on all the surrounding kingdoms when they heard how the Lord had fought against the enemies of Israel. And the kingdom of Jehoshaphat was at peace, for His God had given him rest on every side.” 2 Chronicles 20

Rest. The wait expectant. Prayer.

You see when Jehoshaphat was surrounded on either side, he “bowed down with his face to the ground, and all the people of Judah and Jerusalem fell down in worship before the Lord.”

POur new position of prayer would become one of bowed face and heart to the ground in surrender and worship.

When ones literal bridge between life and death is the heart’s beat you get seriously receptive to surrender and gratitude in the face of the eternal.

This would be a time when the woman of many words would bow low, face to the ground in prayer for the complete of her- her beloved.

There were no flowery poetic words necessary. Not one complete sentence was prayed. Just my sincere heart groaning and everyday conversation with Abba Father for 36 more years to love and so life with this man to whom I have been blessed to call my own. The surrender comes when like any conversation, I stop talking and listen and ~wait to hear from God.

Praises stirred in this heart as God brought to remembrance the good. The good that has historically outweighed the bad and with head bowed low, I rested in God’s perfect plan for our lives.

I am reminded today that David teaches us three things to do as you wait:

*  Wait quietly — “Let all that I am wait quietly before God, because my hope is in him” Psalm 62:5

*  Wait patiently — “Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for him to act” Psalm 37:7a
* Wait expectantly “I wait expectantly, trusting God to help, for he has promised” Psalm 130:5

And this is so important:

To pray believing is to expect to hear from God!

Waiting is truly the faith factor. We wait expectantly, and waiting on God is never a waste of time. In fact, it’s some of the best time you will ever invest in your lives!!
Jehoshaphat led the people of Israel and he taught them to pray and praise to win the victory.

Time would tell that no matter the outcome, God was still faithful and our faith should never be dependent on the outcome.

Life altering. Life changing circumstances does not ever change our position going into battle no matter the faith battle we face.

Prayer.

Praise.

Worship.

Victory.

“The fear of God came on all the surrounding kingdoms when they heard how the Lord had fought against the enemies of Israel. And the kingdom of Jehoshaphat was at peace, for His God had given him rest on every side.”

Rest. On. Every. Side.

Peace above the circumstances.

Praise Him unto victory.

Rest that God is with us. He is for us and not against us.

Jehoshaphat lived out his days and did right in the eyes of the Lord.

A worthy pursuit. God has a beautiful way about Himself in that He knows the number of our days.

Sometimes we gain the view in light of eternity. We learn to trust and praise Him in the storm and are compelled to tell of the things we learn that change the coarse of our days.

Sometimes we get a second chance for life not because we cheat death but because God uses our lives to tell HIS story through our story.

History Defined:

1. the branch of knowledge dealing with past events

2. a continuous, systematic narrative of past events as relating to a particular people, country, period, person, etc., usually written as a chronological account; chronicle

So we bow our heads to the ground and we worship God. We thank Him for more time to share our narrative of life and living.

Quietly we wait.
Patiently we trust.

Faithfully He finds us.

He lifts our face to His and we know what it is to be found by love.

With expectant hearts, we wait assured that we are not in this battle alone but surrounded held by a power and presence that is good, merciful, gracious and faithful.

Until the next waiting place……we praise.

There will always be that tomorrow that we cannot know or control. So the Lord uses these moments to teach us to number our days.

Thank You God for being true to who you are.

“Find me grateful

Find me thankful

Find me on my knees

Find me dreaming

Find me singing

Find me lost in Your grace

Fill the depths of my soul

Till all I know is I’ve been

Found by love

Find me grateful

Find me thankful

Find me on my knees

Find me dreaming

Find me singing

Find me lost in Your grace”

Jonathan and Melissa Helser

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/