Tag Archives: Future

Beautiful and Encouraging Words Just When You Need Them

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Beautiful and Encouraging Words Just When You Need Them

Enjoy the many beautiful words from ~Ann VosKamp with a little sprinkle here and there from my small view.

So just in case you have had a hard day…. because we all do every now and then, please dive in and give thanks for the timely words to follow.

And for our beloved MRO Ladies…… It brings my heart such joy to watch you quietly and significantly caring for your families in the daily and so often unseen. Yet your story is being written into the hearts and lives of every life you touch. You need to know how amazing those seemingly unimportant parts are and just how BIG things are to our God. #keepshining #keepthefaith 


“Have you been wondering, waiting and have doubt that the “Big Dream” you have been dreaming of and have prayed for will happen? Or at least should have by now? 

Maybe you await the peace and whole “Big Purpose” for why you are here to manifest itself in real time. That the awkward waiting would be gone and that you’d finally see that your life has made a real difference, you’d made a real mark, and that you really matter.
The real truth is….. You don’t have to worry: 

We all get to make one unforgettable mark. And every day, with every word, we get to decide: Do we mar the world, or mark the world?

Why in the world do we seem to disdain the small? It’s always the smallest strokes that add up to the greatest masterpieces.

Because the thing really is: Do we ever really know which mark we make — that will matter the most? The extraordinary things happen nowhere else but in the everyday and today can always be the beginning:
That card you signed and sealed and put in the mail, the way you smiled and nodded to the white-crowned woman bent over the still-green bananas, the way you dug around in the dirt and and left that seed or that gift of the knees and that prayer whispered for a stranger or that glass of water you handed to someone and winked because you just knew — 

You’ve got to remember: we don’t know when and how we are leaving the greatest marks on the world. It ALL matters.
Believe it: 

Every tremor of kindness might erupt in a miracle on the other side of the world.
And the only way to ever leave beauty marks on the world is with bits of yourself — Things of realest beauty don’t bring us glory — but Him glory.

Just For Today — take these words, words of Dag Hammarskjold, Secretary-General of the United Nations, words that you can take to the bank, take to eternity: 
“It is more noble to give yourself completely to one individual than to labor diligently for … the masses.”
Christ left the ninety-nine for the one.
Where you are, with that one child, that one street, that one call, it is a noble, Christ-called thing. It only takes one person to change the world — and one individual, one soul, can be all your world.

Really, beautiful You: The most exquisite marks anyone makes with their life — are the marks done in secret. The mark that no one — but One — will ever see.

And tell yourself this when you feel forgotten and invisible and unimportant: 
But the wise are the hidden who hold out for heaven — and the applause that comes from God. This is to choose the far greater.
I know you’re brave … and you’re scared. Because you keep doing big things that seems so small and you wonder where all this is really going and you only get one life here —

And though you may get weary, you do hard things and you keep getting out of bed and this is always the hardest part — and you keep believing that Christ didn’t leave this world until He showed us His scars — and He won’t ever let you leave this world until you leave your most beautiful mark. To show Him.
So Just For Today — listen: you’ve got to keep going.

His Kingdom is Upside Down and in Him your part is large and lovely and needed and art.

So go get the milk and take out the trash and throw in the laundry and wave giddy to the neighbors because there is a plan and there is a purpose and there is a God in heaven who didn’t just ink you onto the palm of His hands but etched your name right into Himself with nails and He’s hasn’t just got your number, He’s got your heart.
He sees you, hidden in Him, and you aren’t ever forgotten because God can’t forget those right in Him. Keep doing, keep reaching, keep loving, keeping living fully in the moments we get to small things with great love as we hold onto the Cross.
So really — you’ve got to believe it for your 16 year-old-self and 56 year-old-self and for yourself right now: really, it’s all working out okay.

Because God’s writing your story and He never leaves you alone in your story, and His perfect love absorbs all your fear and His perfect grace carries all your burdens, and your story is a happily ever after because Christ bought your happily ever after so you always know how this story ends.

You’re going to be okay.

Dear beloved- tuck these truths away to read again whenever you need to know it again — and promise me, you’ll laugh and sing and dance a bit today?” Ann VosKamp

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

Trusting God and Finding The Good Path

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At this day’s end……

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

These things I know……

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Giving Thanks In ALL Things

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I pray that you will be encouraged and as a way of reminder, find a place for thanksgiving today as we enter into a time of remembering. Affirmed and grateful for how timely God always is when we need a “word in due season”. God continues to stretch & shape my heart as I bend and surrender my will, to each committed new mercy-filled day to give thanks in ALL things. The last few years have been filled with some challenging, fear-full, one step at a time, God-Sized and yet “hard” eucharisteos–the giving of thanks for my family and I. This joy journey, the purposeful pursuit of grateful living, where “thanks-giving” rewrites the habits of ingratitude into “thanks-living” has caught me off-guard, captured my thoughts, and is continuing to transform my heart. As a way of transparent confession, this truth-teaching that transforms hearts at the same time has opened the door for warfare unlike anything that I have ever experienced. Yet. Will. I. Praise. Him.

It is easy to say, I give thanks in ALL things. It is another to give thanks as you walk THROUGH the “hard eucharisteo’s” and come out of life’s most difficult “opportunities” to learn that giving thanks is the only way to fullness of joy. Sigh. You see for me it has settled deep, opened, exposed and removed dark places closed off to the Lord and recreated a beautiful place for God to fully live. Emptied. To. Fill.

The Lord dwells there. His presence makes known to us the path that leads to life according to Psalms 16:11 Apart from HIM there is no joy-filled life, rest for my soul, nor surrender to His sovereignty. He is working ALL things together for good, from His view of ALL that is going on. And on the days when thanksgiving has truly transformed my life, we meet there. Without the giving of thanks, I am left empty with nothing of the Who He is in His fullness to spill out one drop of thanksgiving. Lord. Help. Us.

Today, I stopped and with a burdened heart, gave thanks. He IS the mighty warrior, supreme and powerful ruler…the God of the universe; yet in His mercy, His presence sees. Knows. Leads. Comforts. Provides. His presence fills every emptied out place with peace in this life when ALL things seem to be shaking in  this world and the spiritual realm. We will never understand the ways of God, nor comprehend how His unfailing love is working in ALL the days of our lives for our good and His glory. Lord, Your ways are higher, stronger, greater and every moment of thanksgiving back to You is a small gift from this veiled view. The mystery. We. See. Dimly.

Such love…..so pure, rich and deep. Oh, the JOY that floods my soul.

“Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.” 1 Corinthians 13:12

Tonight we give thanks. WE. GIVE. THANKS. Tomorrow’s mercies will be there for every bent and spilled-out surrendered heart to what seems so very simple. It will likely challenge every programmed response we have ever learned to date. Yet, His promises are trustworthy, sure and steadfast. He is God and HIS character, nature and attributes remain the same ALL-ways! Sure as the sun will rise to greet each new day, if the Lord wills.  New. Every. Morning.

“Eucharisteo…always, always precedes the miracle.”Ann Voskamp

To give thanks

“Eucharisteo, always, always precedes the miracle.” Ann Voskamp

Thanks Ann Voskamp for validating my heart’s journey towards fullness of joy! God has taught me so much in 2013. I am grateful that He does not give up or abandon His creation but continues to long for a relationship with His beloved! The privilege that I have had of leading women, children and families along the same path that this simple life traveled has been beautiful to watch from my view. My heart leans in to their stories of their journey fills my emptied heart with such deepened love and joy around the living Word received and applied so powerfully in their lives. God’s message and directed course for this season has led surrendered hearts through the “hard eucharisteos” into the places where THEIR messy story began. Their pathway still meandering, as does mine, around the field of mines that vie for the lies and affections of our life. Hearts rewritten with gratitude and Thanks-Living are among the best in this season of remembering.

Thanks-Giving. Miracles. Thanks-Living. Fullness of joy.

Excerpt from Ann Voskamp’s Journal Entry Today…..

http://www.aholyexperience.com/

“They were simple people, but they knew it because they had lived it:

No matter what the headlines shout, the world only has two stories: bless God or curse God.
No matter what the world tries to sell, we all only get to choose from two shelves: Give God thanks or Give God the door.
No matter what we’re facing, there are always only two roads: thanksgiving to God or dismissing of God.

“They were simple people but they had decided that they….

…..would not let hard times steal their thanksgiving.
…..if you let something steal your thanksgiving, you let something steal your joy, and if you let something steal your joy, you let something steal your strength.
…..would let nothing steal their thanksgiving to God – so that in everything they could stand strong in God.

Simple people – keeping it simple……. we will give thanks to God not because of how we feel, but because of who He is.

No disaster, no storm, no cancellation, no termination, no catastrophe would stop them from giving thanks. Because…….they knew it:

No matter where they were, every thanksgiving always brought them home —- giving thanks always brings you home to the heart of God.” ~Ann Voskamp

My children, grandson and family will be together around the inherited family table, the gathering place of so many great memories. It represents a lifetime filled with so many blessings. Countable gifts. The measure of a gracious God. We. Give. Thanks.

Home. “Thanksgiving” is bringing them home. Around the table, our collective hearts will pause and find peace above ALL circumstances through Thanks-Living EVERY DAY IN ALL THINGS.”
Yes, and this I know……Thanks-Living will lead us directly to the heart of God. “In His presence IS fullness  of  joy….” Psalm 16:11

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Celebrating Veteran’s Day

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Seymour Johnson Air Force Base Goldsboro, NC 1980

Seymour Johnson Air Force Base Goldsboro, NC 1980

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

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

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

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

Happy Veteran’s Day with deep appreciation!

Protect And Defend

Protect And Defend

Memories of Days Gone By

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Love these ladies, Morgan and Jamie Grace. They lead us to a place deep inside the “old souls” they know so very well. I’ve had the privilege of serving alongside of them on several occasions. I love watching them “make music” and somehow the “old” HAS become “new” again. Grateful! I pray that you are blessed by their spirit as much as I am!

This song takes me back to a special place, so very long ago…..

My family: Godly men and women who lived a heritage of faith in service as pastors, teachers, musicians, people of conviction and the example of service that I hold dear in my heart to this day. My great-grandmother was the organist at church. My grandmother, her daughter, was a gifted pianist. The old, upright piano she purchased used so long ago, now has a treasured place in my home. Often asked when someone visits, “Why two pianos?”  My reply, The newer piano has provided opportunities to grow musically and meet the financial needs of my family. The old one…The black giant? A reminder to myself and my family that the work of God continues through His faithfulness and should be passed on to the next generation. Three generations of us have either learned to play on the black giant or continue to lovingly play her today.

Fond memories of life and lessons learned while spending time on my great-grandparent’s 200 acre farm down a long and winding dirt road with only two other neighbors. Family joy. Simple people. Simply Living…..in the boondocks!

Pictured memories flash through my mind:

A dozen folks eager to eat at the simple wooden table in the kitchen. The children were seated on a long wooden bench made out of a rescued, fallen tree. I would fondly run my hand down the grain of the well-worn “provision”. We prayed. Not just at meals or bedtime. We PRAYED!! We thanked God for His goodness throughout our day, for the abundance of the good food we ate, for the rains that came just when they were needed, for the Lord to hold back the rain at the precise moment necessary for a successful harvest, etc… The farmer truly knows what it is to live by faith!! And the meals that were made from scratch in that kitchen, were amazing and meant for royalty. Well, that’s the way I saw it anyway. Stacks of biscuits, gravy, fried chicken, fresh vegetables, tomatoes, collard and turnip greens, numerous pies for dessert and all that your mind can dream…Manna, cherished nourishment that comes because “Our faithful God rewards faithful hands.” A surrender to work hard.  A quote worth remembering and spoken often by both Larry and Emma Fisher, my great-grandparents, as a reminder when someone may lack gratitude in any of life’s important moments and especially around the dinner table. :-)They knew how to trust God for everything. And I mean EVERY THING!!!

The days were filled with…..

playing and rolling around on the ground with my great-grandfather’s Coonhounds, watching the guys head off to hunt, quietly listening as the ‘coon dogs got farther and farther away, standing under the Muscadine and Scuppernong grape vines~eating the fat grapes sweetened by the rain and sun until we had a tummy ache, family reunions, tobacco barns, tractors, busting watermelons in the field to make sure that the crop was ripe. And when we did get a break from work, on a hot day, running down the road to the neighbor’s house to cut a bamboo pole, and head over to the pond to go fishing. For the children, we hoped we didn’t get “caught” swimming more than being concerned about  “catching” fish to eat.

A distant place and simpler time….

My  great-grandparents were likely considered “poor”. They worked hard but I more remember the good times after dinner at the last shades of light led to the day’s end. We would sit quietly on the porch, in the cool of the evening and I never remember things being anything other than good. Life was good. We hoped for a breeze, as we fanned ourselves. I can always remember moments in the quiet, when out of nowhere, someone would start singing. We made up songs. They were simple songs, silly songs, old hymns in harmony. It was music. Strings, improvised percussion with hands and feet and a quiet hum would fill the air as someone made melody from their soul. The stories were intense and remember when. So much so, that the children including myself sat intently hanging on every word. We laughed at each others jokes, hoped someone might drop by for a visit and the fun we kids would have dancing, singing and playing until it was almost dark. The days would always end in togetherness. We were truly grateful when we lay our heads down at night to say our prayers.

Some days I wonder why my heart and soul has been filled with so many words? Could those quiet moments in the boondocks have given me a bent for speaking and writing words that build hope, encourage, lead others to trust, to dream, to believe, to know His love by hearing, gathering words, telling a story and faithful living and working hard at it? There are days when I care, share, teach, love, give, serve and reach for someone to love like Jesus would and at day’s end, I am out of words. Then the Lord lovingly and quietly reminds me that He, the author of love, life and promise sent His only Son to this earth with the mission of loving, teaching, leading, inspiring and empowering us with the message of hope and to go, to serve, to tell. Our individual relationships with God have been restored and reconciled with God through the life, death and resurrection of His promise of a Savior. Tell others the good news!! And just as Jesus exampled for us; He spoke of His life, His Heavenly Father, His living, His coming, His dying, His resurrection, ascension and the gift of the Holy Spirit, our Helper. We are here to continue the message of hope to all.

Jesus would come in an unassuming way, live simply among ordinary people, not as a king but a servant to all. His story, God’s Word, His message to us still lives on through His children, long after His Ascension and return to His rightful place, at the right hand of God the Father.

Jesus told stories. Parables, short tales that illustrate universal truths, one of the simplest of narratives. Sketching a setting, describing an action and showing the results. It often involved a character facing a moral dilemma or making a questionable decision and then suffering the consequences. Though the meaning of a parable was often not explicitly stated, the meaning was  not usually intended be hidden or secret but on the contrary quite straightforward and obvious.

We all have a story. We share our lives with every relationship we build. Words that tell our life’s journey paint a picture of the where we have come from. In our relationship with Jesus Christ, His story becomes ours and we spread the joy of our beginnings while He is still writing, loving, leading, honoring our days and endings until our days on earth are done. Will our children become followers of Jesus Christ as modeled by our example? Will their lives tell of His goodness, shout praises, pray always, word hard, laugh, love others, serve everyone and live a loving, surrendered life in service to the Lord?

I am grateful for words. For the author and finisher of my faith and the privilege to serve Him with all of my days. Lord find me  faithful. May I be first and foremost about the things of God, wherever I am, serving with all of my heart the story that You have written for me and made my heart to do……

Lord, leave our families, those we love and serve the LIFE’S legacy and the WORDS to keep painting our world with YOUR story.

“…the details of our days do make a difference in our lives… no experience is ever just for drill…
everything can be a springboard for inspiration if we are willing to be open to the goodness of life.”

Sarah Ban Breathnach

Simple Abundance

“And if you faithfully obey the voice of the Lord your God, being careful to do all His commandments that I command you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth. And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, if you obey the voice of the Lord your God. Blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the field. Blessed shall be the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your ground and the fruit of your cattle, the increase of your herds and the young of your flock. Blessed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl.Blessed shall you be when you come in, and blessed shall you be when you go out…………The Lord will command the blessing on you in your barns and in all that you undertake. And He will bless you in the land that the Lord your God is giving you. The Lord will establish you as a people holy to himself, as he has sworn to you, if you keep the commandments of the Lord your God and walk in His ways. And all the peoples of the earth shall see that you are called by the name of the Lord…………..And the Lord will make you abound in the fruit of your womb and in the fruit of your livestock and in the fruit of your ground, within the land that the Lord swore to your fathers to give you. The Lord will open to you His good treasury, the heavens, to give the rain to your land in its season and to bless all the work of your hands.” Deuteronomy 28:1-12a

Small Handful Of Faith

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So, I may as well warn you that this is the LONG version……a week early!!

I promise to condense my wandering sentences as I find the “short” answer to the seemingly “simple” question!!

“Share a small step you took toward your dream.” Holley Gerth

Have you ever had that moment in your journey of faith when the Holy Spirit crashes into your understanding? Shakes your soul’s core? Stirs your heart to pause for reflection? While flawed and imperfect, you have prayed and been faithful in every little faith-filled step. Yet there are some days when it almost feels like you have really not done or been enough. There should have been more to it, there is more to it and its simplicity makes you wonder, Lord, did I miss anything of the more that You would have me do?

You know that God is near. You cannot escape the capture of the Holy Spirits moment. You feel the spirit of God’s touch and you are drawn to its fullness. You have followed Him knowing that every conversation, dream, thought and desire sent before the throne of God was heard with the heart and arms. of your loving Father.  And once again, you purpose to listen….REALLY listen. Heart intent on hearing His Spirit’s heart voice as He whispers,  “I am here.” Before your mind can comprehend His presence, your heart responds as your soul man screams……YES, this is it!!!That is what it all means in the reflection of every Kingdom of God movement that you have ever made in your life in serving your Lord and Savior and every little thing you have done matters. Wow!!

God-sized Dream = A desire in your heart for more of what God has for you.

When challenged with the upcoming weeks question, I slowed my pace, and with that pause, smiled deep, leaned my head back  and closed my eyes. In my heart,  I journeyed back to where the first baby steps of this earnest God seekers life began. Singing Mary’s song at the age of five and realizing the message and power of the words as hearts responded. At the age of ten, sitting in a liturgical swirl of words with greater meaning than my age could absorb. All the while, the stirring movement of the Holy Spirit drawing my heart, tears streaming down my face so rapidly that my hands could not contain them. At sixteen surrendering my heart to Jesus Christ, the forgiveness of my sin, eternal life and surrendered my life to His Lordship. I understood then the heart of a servant and longed to be one that served well.

I remember the 2013 God-Sized Dreams Team application explanation of God-Sized Dreams:

“A God-sized dream is not about size–It’s about the desires God has placed within you that perfectly fit YOUR heart”

As I am living……my soul murmured……

Desires, heart, spiritual gifts, abilities, personality, life experience….Dare I dream?

Dreams dreamed. Dreams realized. Failed dreams that lacked faith on my part. Dreams growing. Dreams changing. Challenging Dreams Bigger Than My ability to believe and here I stand the hope-filled dreamer…..still dreaming. His faithfulness the sure thing. Still doubting that God can use any part of my lack for His good and glory. I make an analysis of each “opportunity” that God speaks to my heart brings the discovery that each dream hoped for started with one little baby step at a time!!I knew upon coming into relationship with Jesus that I was created for the more than what I could even comprehend. The dream giver seeking out my heart and soul for His own.

Today as I prepared to share the small step that I have taken to follow the dreams that God is currently writing on my heart, I was overwhelmed. My chest rose with a swell of deep breath, and I clearly see in my minds-eye that every purposeful step of faith has led to moments of searching for the more of God and what He might do with my small, yet sincere handful of faith. I am still on a journey towards the desires that God has placed within me that perfectly fit my heart. And I can only pray that the fullness of all that He has done in my life will be an offering that is filled with a sweet fragrance that is acceptable, pleasing and honoring. That in some small corner of His world this offering will matter to Him as He sees the gift as eternal.

Overall, my little life’s dream journey has brought me into and prepared me for this one moment in time. The same little girl who came into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ continues to wonder how God can use my small handful of faith lifted unto Him as an offering for His glory. I am living mid-dream, and He continues to woo me into the next place of dreaming His dreams. His desires to use His creation for His glory and good! Each new day is an exercise of listening to the Holy Spirit as it grips our hearts.

I am almost sure that I am not alone. Maybe you are standing where I was. Wondering if in some small way this dream that is gripping you is worthy and that you are capable. It is almost embarrassing to say it out loud for fear that someone would think it strange. No one is capable or worthy apart from Him but in Him ALL things are possible.

“The way of the Dreamer is difficult, but anything less is hardly living at all.” The Dream Giver by Bruce Wilkinson

Does God have dreams for YOUR heart? The truth is: The hardest thing to do is to take the first step. In faith, believing that God brings your small handful of faith to bring honor and glory to Him. It is a beautiful thing to experience the moment that He enlarges our hearts with His dreams and builds our faith. Without a doubt, the same God that placed dreams in my heart will give to you the dreams that perfectly fit YOUR heart!!

I am praying for you. If there are dreams you need to share, if your heart and mind are in conflict and if you need a friend to share the journey……from one dreamer to another…..allow me the joy of joining your dream journey. I promise…..you can believe that your small world matters to God AND to me!!

To His beloved……..Take one simple step at a time…..and find new life in His dreams for you.

You’ll find me Living Simply and Simply Living His dream for my life…….. Mel

Small Handful of Faith

Small Handful of Faith

2013 God-Sized Dreams Life Mission Statement

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Happy New Year!! God is doing great things!!

What a joy to begin 2013 in communication with the Lord as it relates to the mission in life that I am on. I am humbled to have been chosen to be a part of the Holley Gerth~God-Sized Dream Team. I find it challenging to stand before a Holy God and believe that I bring anything worthy to His work in this world. I am for sure a less-than-perfect reflection of Him on most days. Yet, in my heart I genuinely desire to be on mission before Him as I love and serve those I have been called to care for.

I faced a blank page as I read the challenge at hand: write one sentence that describes your life’s mission. Gulp. I am 50 years old and have never stopped serving long enough to consider what description should be written. I confess my greatest mission in life to date has been loving, serving and raising my family alongside of caring for my husband and our 31 year marriage. I feel like I am in kindergarten all over again. Writing and scratching out words, reviewing my strengths and skills, wondering if a sentence could contain all that is written in my heart.

The words begin to come together and I thought I might be embarrassed to even share the picture being painted by my words. Humbled even more than before, I knew this was the beginning of something new. Living in this moment in a dream fulfilled, looking forward to how God might expand the dream to open the door for even more opportunity in 2013 and the days to come.

In this moment, my heart is…..

grateful……

filled with a heart and desire to bring a new level of relationship with the Lord to the community of women and families that I am currently serving…..to lead their hearts into grace-filled and grateful living through our Joy Journey……

stirring…….

expectant….

hope-filled…

broken before my Lord…..

longing……to do more……to be more……to dream more…….to see Him miraculously move in hearts…..

believing God….

resting in His faithfulness for each day….

rejoicing in His provision, leadership and direction…….

beginning to dream new dreams…..

looking forward to Jesus moments……more living and growing…..loving and learning…….

trusting in His dream for me….He is the perfect and completeness of that……

So, I end where I began. I bring nothing of value to the Kingdom of God apart from Him…..so I lift my 2013 life mission statement back up to you Lord. I pray that You seed it, nurture it, bless it by sending Your Spirit through it and speak to my heart and affirm Your plan, Your will and Your dream for me!! May You be pleased!!

What statement will my life make in 2013?

I believe God has created and called me to graciously support, inspire, lead and encourage women and families by sharing my simple journey of faith as I write, relate and teach from God’s Word.

I am Your servant. You are my Lord……be it unto me according to Your perfect will!

I will obey.

And continue to love, serve and honor You with all my heart………..May my surrendered life bring honor and glory to You!!!!

Living Simply~Simply Living

Melanie

Living Thanks with Bated Breath

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You are loved….

Living Simply~Simply Living!

Mel

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

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

Samaritan’s Feet….Changing lives one pair of shoes at a time!

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Making friends......one pair of shoes at a time!

Samaritan’s Feet volunteers & staff, Gaston County Commissioner, Tracy Philbeck and I washing feet and giving a new pair of shoes at Rhyne Elementary in Gastonia, Making Friends, one pair of shoes at a time!

Jesus said, “If you’ve had a bath in the morning, you only need your feet washed now and you’re clean from head to toe. My concern,  you understand, is holiness,  not hygiene.” John 13:10

Spending time at the feet of others was the example Jesus set for us to follow as He bowed in subjection to the disciples for the purpose of washing their feet as an act of honor and service. Nothing can be greater, than knowing that the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, humbled Himself to the position of servant. As we put ourselves in the position of service, we look up into the eyes of the ones that we have come to serve and say. “You are the most important person at this very moment. I want you to know that you are loved by God and by all of us. We are here today simply because of our heart to love and serve you just as Jesus did.”

Today, I was once again blessed to participate in a shoe distribution with Samaritan’s Feet. The mission and heartbeat of founder, Manny Ohonme, is 10 million pairs of shoes on the feet of 10 million children in the next 10 years You can read more about Manny’s story of how a simple pair of shoes changed his life and led him to follow what was exampled to him by the love of  one who came to serve him.

http://www.samaritansfeet.org/who-is-sf/mannys-story/

I have had the privilege of serving alongside Manny Ohonme and his wife, Tracie since 2005 and have nothing but the utmost love and respect for this man and his family who daily live out what they believe. While we do not often share the same schedule, we are often in contact and communication. Today, however, Monty and I were blessed with a most special opportunity; to give back to children, teacher’s and staff at an elementary school near our hometown of Dallas, NC. We rallied and gathered our friends to help us support the effort of Samaritan’s Feet in our Jerusalem. Gastonia, NC

On this day, 400 plus children, teachers, and staff would receive our undivided attention as we spent time getting to know them, focusing our hearts and attentions towards them, washing their feet and providing a new pair of socks and shoes for each one of them. The event was a surprise for the entire school and spear-headed by their caring principal, Rebecca Huffstetler.

The day started as usual with the younger children filling our stations. So, precious. Timid. Embarrassed and confused by all these people taking off their old shoes, putting their little feet in cold water, washing them and putting new shoes on their feet. Refreshing, but in time the older children would fill the chairs and their disbelief was often verbalized.

My breath-taking and life-joy moment happened near the end of the day when a less than thrilled tough 5th grade boy sat down in front of me. What would become my favorite conversation of the day began with, “So, lady, how much are they paying you to wash my feet, be nice to me and give me this new pair of shoes?” And with attitude and no smile, I might add. He was not rude. Simple putting it all on the table and in all likelihood, wanting to call me out and say, yep, told you so, they don’t care about me.

“Nothing.” I replied. “God loves me (us), we love you and I came here today to tell you how very special you are to Him and to me. Nothing more. Nothing less.” A cynical 10-year-old smile ensued. Our moment together ended within five-eight minutes and toward the end a new-found, whimsical, wry smile appeared. I held his hands, looked him square in the eyes and ended by letting him know that every step that he takes in these new pair of shoes, that I will be thinking of him, praying for him and trusting his life to a God that wants to do great things in and through him. His name will be written in my prayer journal and I will believe God for His very best until heaven.”

I continued as the Holy Spirit kicked my heart into gear and shared the gospel message of hope, a future, and of surrendering his heart to receive the free gift of life now and eternal through Jesus Christ. The promise of forgiveness, new life and God’s perfect plan for his life. You see, we get moments like these on occasion and I felt the urgency to seize the moment while it was sill today! I continued. “God’s plan for you is perfect. Your story is still being written. When you want to give up or you struggle, think of the silly lady who said, you can do it through complete surrender of your heart to the Lord and the power of God which is greater than your mind can conceive.” God wants you to know that you matter and that He has a plan for your life!! An, sweet friend, I pray for you, I will claim each step for the rest of your days for  God to do “exceedingly, abundantly in your life above all that you can ask or think.” HE IS ABLE!!!

He sheepishly, smiled. I said there is just one more thing. “Can I get a hug?” I have yet in my life until today, felt a more genuine embrace than from his big ole size 10 men’s shoe bear hug that I received from Gods most precious possession.
You see, God spoke directly to his heart today. The Holy Spirit penetrated the deepest part of this young mans soul and there is no doubt in my mind that the God of the universe will make good on a prayer prayed forward for a life in the balance between the god of this world and our heavenly Father’s will for his life.

So, when you wonder if God still uses the smallest of opportunities for His good and His glory, remember the hardened heart of my friend today. And when you pray, you need not know his name but that his heavenly Father is well acquainted with the matters of his precious heart and life. Next time you think, I should do something to help….just do it. Don’t wait. The true blessing will be yours. And when you wonder, does God really still open hearts in the least imaginable ways….like through a pair of shoes, a smile, a hug, a word of affirmation, a touch or a smile? May you see my face smiling back at you and saying….Oh yes He does!! Remember, Jesus said it best….”My concern is holiness…” May we walk simply on this path of righteous living….and trust God for life-changing results! For His glory! Amen and Amen!

Caring for God’s beloved!