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A few ladies gather each weekend @ a central place and no two the same.
We talk about life things.
The everyday stuff.
The things that we are working through.
The things that we are learning.
The hard things too sometimes.
And we dare not neglect sharing the oh so good that God has done.
We give each other grace.
We give each other courage.
Even though not one of us has ALL of the answers, we know the God who does.
We focus our hearts on truth that builds us up into the spiritual house that God is building. One small step at a time. His Spirit always meets us there.
We laugh, we cry, we share our lives and by the end of our time together our hearts have been filled. We are cared for and we care for each other.
We are the ladies of MRO. Women who are navigating home, travel and all of the crazy in between. We know full well that we are better together.
The heart of this lady lovingly longs to care for your heart.
The heart of this lady lovingly longs to see your heart empowered to live abundantly, to live a life full of hope that knows God’s love fully.
Tonight we gather as one. A community of like-minded ladies in pursuit of community, friendship and grace. A place to belong, all are welcome and we feel loved there.
Oh how I have missed you all!!
It is my joy to come alongside of every beautiful heart, catch up on all of the happenings face to face and hug every neck!
So, if you are attending the January Caution tonight, please stop by my little station and say hello! I will have the MRO Community Center schedules available and much to share about our gatherings for children, ladies and families in 2018!
Through the years, MRO ladies ministry has taken many shapes and forms as we’ve cultivated and nourished friendships around various activities and gatherings.
In 1 Thessalonians 5:11, Paul reminds us how connecting in authentic community was critical for even the early followers of Christ as he pressed them to “encourage one another and build each other up. “ 1 Thessalonians 5:11
This season there is a call to courage as each of us enters into the new that belongs to 2018. It takes great courage to step out of isolating your heart into the world of connectedness that often serves as a line of defense for those hard days ahead. And isn’t building walls around our hearts lonely work?
The energy it takes to avoid others might be best used in building a community of deep and meaningful friendships. Just a thought as I pause for a moment to preach to myself!
You are the bravest ladies that I know. You are smart. You are kind. You do life in fast forward and I love the embrace that I have known on this shared journey!
God. Is. With. Us.
“Strength! Courage! Don’t be timid; don’t get discouraged. God, your God, is with you every step you take.” Joshua 1:9
If there is only one small thought that I pray that I can impart as I end, it would be that you lay hold of the reality that you are not alone.
If you are new to Nascar, new to traveling, new to having a husband who is gone— a lot or just a little and you are looking for a place to belong, a welcoming face or some of that gathering community stuff—
Please hear me shout from the mountaintops I AM HERE FOR YOU. MRO is here for you. And even though some things have been adjusted or changed, I am, the CC is and those who remain are still there! Available. Committed. Prayerful over your lives.
Hearts poised to love and be loved.
Just shoot me a direct message, send a friend request, give me a call 704-507-2624, email me @ email@example.com and we can all get connected.
If we have never met before, your first time coming to the January Caution, please stop by and introduce yourself! Make sure you fill out your registration card at your table so that we will be able to stay connected!!
Excited about 2018? Concerned about 2018? Change scares you in 2018.
God is faithful. We are cheering you on and I am cheering you on!!
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
-to cherish a desire with
-to want something to happen or be
-to believe without wavering
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.
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.
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.
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.
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……
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!!
“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…..”
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
grace~ a ready favor
“See to it that no one misses the grace of God.” Hebrews 12:15
Lord, thank you for reminding us to live fully in the moments that we are given. To hold on tight to what is important to us. Hold us close Lord with tender love and help us to slow the crazy pace for moments of refreshing and to be in all the together places that we cherish. Our souls need each others attention and time committed for no television, no phones, no laptop, no commitments but to that which has been our covenant before God.
Things my heart and life will never take lightly or for grated…
God first. Time for you, my beloved for life and me. To deeply love and care for my family. To let them go to be the amazing man and woman, husband and wife, helpmate, provider and parent that they have been created for. The beauty of our ministry together for almost all of these 35 years. The conversations about the tomorrows and hope.To never miss one sunset together even if it means driving 30 minutes to do so or to be okay with just rocking quietly in the chairs on our front porch.
And honey, did I mention I’d like a treehouse in our backyard?? Please??
Hang tight…..the potatoes are ready to be mashed and the meatloaf smells divine…… And my man is sweetly calling…… “Are the potatoes ready yet dear?”
My heart always turns to him because I love doing the things for him that make him happy. We ate dinner together. Nothing else in this moment mattered. God would speak later if this was His time to whisper something beautiful to my heart. We chat and all the while my spirit is listening. Monty Self promises to clean up the kitchen so that I could get back to that thing that God is giving birth to. He sees it in my eyes and how I smile when words flow from my communion with the Father. Suddenly in my distraction he taps my leg and smiles that smile that still makes me love him all over again. I quietly move back to the computer with grateful heart.
God you speak so softly, sometimes so carefully that if our heart is not devotedly attuned to You we walk right over our Savior’s breathing message so alive. Once again my heart is schooled in learning to live even in death. I cannot quiet His voice. Truths worthy to be held and considered.
The Lord brought this verse to mind tonight.
As we remember those who are experiencing pain and loss, we see it also described in Isaiah 66:9.
The promised delivery of God’s only son would be painful but would be necessary for the new covenant to be born. Prophesy. The gift of a baby- God’s only son. Jesus Christ, the perfect lamb of God who would bear the sin of all mankind. God knew the pain of loss. Don’t you know if He could have made it happen any other way He would have? We are made to rescue and protect. The heart of God, our defender, His heart knew it necessary because of His great love for His creation and the only way to restore the love relationship that was broken at the fall of Adam and Eve.
Prophecy spoken. Promises kept. The enduring hope for all of mankind. For Rory Feek. For Joey. For their family. For you. For me.
Redeeming love was their love story too…….until death do us part..
“I will not cause pain without allowing something new to be born” says the Lord. Isaiah 66:9
My life has been far from perfect, even still sin’s nature in me will win when I drop my arms in battle. A scared little girl way too grown up for the time when this small heart came to know such great love.It still overwhelms me in all of the right and surrendered ways that God created me for this moment and has plans that are uniquely for me to live out. The beauty of my heavenly Father to trust me enough to speak to others about His love, mercy, grace and goodness. To serve Him with my life, a privilege to represent and bring honor to His name. The joy it brings when He places in my heart words that have always been my art. (well, not really art. Truthfully I CAN draw flowers and…. oh yes. Stick people. No lie I can even draw clothes on stick people. Did I mention that I am verbose? This lover of words is ALWAYS in need of an editor!
Monty and I have known what it is like to have much and to have little One thing I know is true in this very moment of our marriage is that we know what it means to be content. Our resolve to lose no more ground to the enemy who has been persistent in the fight for our hearts is foundational and steadfast. Our love has endured and God has been faithful and true.
Yes, we have known our own sufferings but we sincerely pray for opportunities to share our story raw, honest and so very real. My connection in heart was immediate when I first read something written Joey and Rory last Fall. It is a beautiful thing to read words that cut in all of the right ways and make you better for time spent alongside of their lives.
There was no glittering up the truth. Joey wrote and the powerful nature of God was alive even in the midst of the valley of the shadow of death. There was comfort as their lives encouraged others in the daily.
Joey and Rory wrote words that were born in their hearts. We will remember that love tucked sweetly away in moments that we need the reminder. To watch God ever redeeming their love for each other as the whole world watched. The sunset tonight filled my heart with gratitude all in the middle of sadness for the precious little one who albeit tragic WILL know her mama because those who loved Jesus became invested in her journey. Out of love, her husband lived the words he wrote to tell her grace-filled story.
Collective hearts agree tonight that life is short even when you get to live for many, many years. We the broken, frail and surrendered lives want to do it differently in measuring the loss of another life and spirit gone too soon. It is so easy to move along and forget. Lord give us the days to tell of Your love as You will.
This I know at this day’s end……
God is love.
God lavishes grace.
When life seems hopeless, mercy is poured out.
God’s character is to redeem, restore and reconcile.
God prepares hearts for such a time as this.
The Lord is near the brokenhearted..
To be absent from the body it to be present with the Lord.
We rest in truth tonight.
She turns the corner. Bent over and walking slow.. Weak and frail. Her body looks so small today. As always, her brown thinning curls sweep around the edges of her sweetly knitted hat. She has become like family as I have watched her comfort my mom each day in their independent journey of battling cancer. Fresh out of chemo, this Friday will be her last day of radiation. My mom will really miss her. Truth is, so will I. These two souls are gracious reminders of the power of understanding when no other heart can know but to walk your path. It is beautiful to sit back and watch their two hearts holding each other. They disappear together to prepare for today’s treatment. The last words I hear as they walk away like two schoolgirls arm in arm are…
“Oh for grace to trust Him more” as she points heavenward.
God’s promises in the frail and fragile moments of life speak so boldly of the need for extra measures of grace to those who witness this encounter. We all are refreshed. Families burdened and weighed down by the challenge of caring for their cancer-stricken loved one hovers strong in the room today. The furrowed brow with each gathered family member is telling. We all have learned to give thanks in knowing that there is always someone in a worse health position and in need of more healing than your loved one. Sad but true. #nomorecancer
The graying sky turns quickly into a strong spring rain. It awakens us all and is gone almost as quickly as it appears. Sunbeams just outside the window cast prisms of light inside. One of the most beautiful rainbows that I have ever seen seems to find its end right among us. Ha! And must you ask, no pot of gold. Inside of the room where brokenness, suffering, pain and fear are so present, the light of the world, reminds me, reminds us all, of God’s promises. He IS our very present help in time of trouble and the source of all comfort snd strength when we place our trust completely in Him. #sweetpeace
It had been a rough mid-day for me. I missed a most crucial detail of utmost importance and I have never been more heart-broken as its resolve may not be known for a few days. Not life or death, just the everyday messy that led to such disappointment in myself. It sweeps fully over me like an ocean wave and knocks me off my feet in a swell that overwhelms. I am ridiculously organized and efficient in my workplace. I do NOT miss details or drop balls. But in this matter today, I must fully place my trust in the sovereignty of God and surrender my frailty and lack back to the God who created, loves and knows me best. He sees. He knows and is very near. Being everywhere, everything to every person who needs me and juggling so many balls in my home life has consumed me over the past few months. Just hearing the word cancer can catapult the bravest of hearts to fear and trembling. Today, I could do nothing but surrender, confess and beg the Lord to be gracious in the midst of my circumstances… And in spite of myself, my weaknesses, I have found the path to boasting in God and His supernatural power to be greater than my best attempt at sinless perfection!
In the presence of God’s supernatural rainbow reminder this afternoon, my heart faced heavenward and I breathed long a whisper loud to God the words spoken just moments before…
Oh for grace to trust YOU more…
And as well, to get over myself and understand that apart from Him I can do NOTHING! Got it! 👍✔️✔️✔️♥️
Lord, I am listening. I hear and take to heart today Your love and goodness. My trust in you today has been so very weak and in this moment I know there is nothing more that I can do but boast in my weakness, run hard and fast to the Lord…… For when I am weak, YOU. ARE. STRONG.
“When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears, is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” Psalm 33:17
The beautiful life of my mom’s treasured new friend is currently in the battle of her life. She has set a standard for love, grace and peace. She walks boldly in humility as she likely faces death.
In her life. all eyes that witness her heart know so fully where her hope lies. You are drawn to her peaceful spirit, even as her body fails, she shines forth His love and light!
God’s Word confirms, “those who look to Him are radiant.” Psalm 34:5a
Sweet friends, at this day’s end, these words have so carried my heart. I can only pray that you, like me, at your weakest, the place of your greatest need and the reality that your challenging circumstances can bring power and glory, not weakness and defeat to your life’s journey.
Lord help us to practice that which will become our habit, to become more like you…. And this night we begin by speaking Your word back to You in all of its power…the power to change lives!!
“I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul makes its boast in the Lord; let the humble hear and be glad. Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together! I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed. This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him and saved him out of all his troubles. The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them. Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!
Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him! Oh, fear the Lord, you his saints, for those who fear him have no lack! The young lions suffer want and hunger; but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing. Come, O children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord. What man is there who desires life and loves many days, that he may see good? Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit. Turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it. The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous and his ears toward their cry. The face of the Lord is against those who do evil….When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.The Lord redeems the life of his servants; none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned.” Psalm 34
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
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…..
“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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According to 1 Thessalonians 4, we are instructed to live a life that is pleasing to God. God has called us to holiness, and we have been given everything that we need to live as a follower of Jesus Christ. Holiness is defined as “sanctify”, to separate yourself from the world and to be dedicated to God. We dedicate ourselves to following Christ inside and out. Holy living, not perfection, grows out of personal fellowship with God.
“God is not a mere formality, it is not merely an external surrender, it is the yielding of the life in its deepest affections and in its highest powers to be ruled by Christ Jesus alone.” Ronald Dart
God is concerned with our daily walk, and with how we live the Christian life. God created man in His image because He longed for a relationship with us. Holiness is an honor and our commitment, so that is more than being nice, saying the right words, doing the right things, acting a certain way, living by a checklist of conduct, etc…. Holiness is the who we are when no one is looking and we are alone with our God. The doing what is right, even when no one really knows the total story. It is being at peace with God and resting in the surrender of “for Your will be done” and knowing that God knows and He is near. The proof of that settled time with the Lord, purposefully prioritized every day, will produce the outward manifestation of holiness. The fullness of who He is IN us as we have been set aside for holy use! He uses and works through our humility and brokenness.
Perfection is not the goal. We all inherited sin‘s nature when man fell. And on this journey of faith, there will be opportunities for the “perfect storm” to unsettle our sails and we fall. We will fail. Repent (turn back to God). Surrender. Confess. Grow. And in spite of sin’s nature within us, we will be used by God because that is how HIS grace works through the power of the Holy Spirit in and through us. He continues to love us, grow in us and shape us into the people He created us to be for his good pleasure.
God is calling us to the more of who and what He is and in every good and difficult place, we must consistently seek and pursue Him. In every still moment we are bound by covenant to acknowledge Him. And in every privilege and call to holiness, He will work all things for our good and His glory.
Let’s find the daily quiet together. We are encouraged in 1 Thessalonians 4:11a, “to aspire to live quietly. So, let’s do this thing by slowing our minds and hearts to find the quiet moments as an opportunity for more simple, yet full living. I promise, the rewriting of your time will be the best thing you can do each day.
Take the first step. Choose a verse to meditate on each day. Use the Four “L’s” to help you slow the pace and find the answers you long for in your heart.
The Four “L’s”
In the quiet, with humility, focus on the verse and LOOK for the answers to the need that you have and how the Lord wants your heart to see. Ling just a little longer than before…..
In the quiet, with a rational mindset, clear the clutter. Lean in closer to HEAR the answers for the need that you have and how the Lord wants you to hear. Do not miss this time as God often whispers in our stillness.
In the quiet, when life happens and anxieties desire is to stop any spiritual progress, LIFT UP the verse you are focused on and pray it back to the Lord. Cry out to Him as you give back the need that you have. God wants to carry this burden. His heart rejoices when we release and lift our heaviness, burden, fear, concerns, doubt, etc… back to Him. So, you can let go. Really.
In the quiet, where God begins the working of all things together for good, begin the process of LIVING as an active participant in finding the answers to how God wants you to live out HIS holiness in your life. How will this verse change the steps that you take today? God longs to see His Word come alive in you, His beloved. One foot in front of the other….take courage in His promises.
Be assured, that God will meet with you. He is there in every moment of every day. His gaze is fixed on His creation and the role that we play in the work of His kingdom. It. Is. Written.
“….the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.” 1 Peter 5:10-11
God’s grace abounds in His presence. This is the safe shelter and where we find the settled preparation for our soul’s life work…..in the multiplied quiet moments that fill our lives. His story continues as He moves and works in and through your life. It is a beautiful thing in this world. His. Will. Be. Done.