grace~ a ready favor
“See to it that no one misses the grace of God.” Hebrews 12:15
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.
What do we do when our world is shaken? Life’s consequences that our beyond our control remind us to stop, reflect and pray. The questions arise and leave us wondering how can we help? Who would respond if but for God‘s grace this could have been me or you? The realization sinks in when we search deeper into our hearts, we truly know that there is nothing random with God and I am reminded of how we are to live and pray.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Ephesians 4:6
How do we start the next day knowing the pain and loss that have affected so many people? How do we tell our children? lead them? help them find hope? prepare them for life’s difficulties? We cannot just forget. How must it feel to the ones involved in such devastation~ the despair as the isolation of natures wrath-filled captivity quickly launches a heart to be shocked, feel lost, alone, angry, overwhelmed, learning to breathe again and living only one small step at a time, one day at a time.
“Prayer is a shield to the soul, a sacrifice to God and a scourge for Satan.” ~John Bunyon
God’s Word leads us to do what we know TO DO: We will let our requests be made know to God! We have the gift of the Holy Spirit and direct access to the very throne of God……And yes, He is very near.
Ten Ways to Pray for Moore, Oklahoma
1. Keep Asking:
“Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.” Matthew 7:6-8
2. Pray Specifically:
“And you are helping us by praying for us. Then many people will give thanks because God has graciously answered so many prayers……..” 2 Corinthians 1:11
3. Pray in Faith:
“And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.” Matthew 21:22
4. Pray aware:
“Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.” Ephesians 6:18
5. Pray About Everything:
“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7
6. Pray in truth:
“The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.” Psalm 145:18
7. Pray Continually:
“….pray continually;” 1 Thessalonians 5:17
“Something grows in me and it doesn’t have words and it doesn’t ask for words. Asks only witnessing. Only gratitude. Only the living that lets the everyday dirt become the sacred everyday. There are times it seems wrong to keep your shoes on, to do anything less than stand bare-heeled and bowed and broken wide open. Them bent. The way a soul can grow any way it chooses.” @AnnVoskamp One Thousand Gifts A Dare To Live Fully Right Where You Are http://www.aholyexperience.com/
Tonight our hearts thank God for freedom’s voice captured on this warm, sunny day in May. The freedom to thoughtfully pursue life as God speaks, to find hope in the cumulative, simple graces of seasoned friendships with like hearts alongside together. For this life to have a reason to get up each day, to breathe and for hearts that beat to faithfully serve God out of His great love for us!
“Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the Lord your God that He has given you.” Deuteronomy 16:17
We made & welcomed two new friends. Our walk through the River Street Community was so worth the time. The Spirit’s work in our hearts. Our eyes become the window genuine and touch all that God longs for on this day. We see the soil of hearts and seed every eternal truth we can into them. His touch like a fountain flows for the purpose of bearing witness to the something greater that He is within us. We absolutely understanding that we are so small in this world; the lesser things, nothing special except that His Holy Spirit lives in and through us. Blessed that He has purposed His desire, earnest and searing “for such time as this’
We, tucked beneath our sturdy roofs, safely protected from the rain, wind, and earthly elements. In the eternal, through life’s storms, promises made, broken and kept, daily bread, living water,
On reflection, we share hearts overwhelmed with goodness. Tender hugs, life’s challenges confessed…transparent. No place or need to hide. Life is hard. We are all on this journey of faith together as seekers, dreamers, hopeful hearts, open, guarded and filled with the raw emotion of scars from life’s raging battles….The rhythm of our movement still takes our breath away. We should listen more closely to the children. Their unheard cry for help is simple and their love is without demands. Sweet kisses on our cheeks. A small hand touches a back, just to be close and shares his applesauce as an offering for sharing our kindnesses…..
It is whimsical, fun, intent as little hearts hug you from behind, beside, from the top of our heads to the very planting of our feet. Paint on noses, fingers, toes and clothing but with concentrated effort. Four small boys try to sit all at once on an open lap. Every person from young to old sits to paint, relax and feel child-like again. Every time our back is to them and upon turning around, another chair, a new face smiling at the simplicity of life’s activity in the neighborhood. Nowhere else to be but just in the here…the now. So far removed from any lingering thoughts of tense moments as they arise or what will be when the sun goes down. The “I love you’s” still linger and haunt us in every good way. Any child there could be loved as our own. No need for explanation or to know any part of the story because of the active heart of God’s Holy Spirit is breathing, seeing, stirring, bringing to life every closed off place in our hearts. His love for humanity surrounds us and is in EVERY touch!!!!
“If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty. But even if he doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.” Daniel 3:17-18
“We’ll give thanks to You with gratitude. For lessons learned in how to trust in You. That we are blessed beyond what we could ever dream. In abundance or in need. And if You never grant us peace. But Jesus, would You please . .” Nicole Nordeman
“When thanks to God becomes a habit – so joy in God becomes your life.” Ann Voskamp
Gratitude by Nicloe Nordeman
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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
“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
Check out this phone App that will show you where the Christmas Story is being read all around the world. A great family project and reminder to stay focused on the true meaning of Christmas. A beautiful thought that hearts are connected all over the world around the Christmas Story!!
The Birth of Jesus
Girls, have at it! When racing returns to Charlotte Motor Speedway on Oct. 11, the ladies of NASCAR will add their own element of speed, danger and fun to Bank of America 500 Week when they take to the frontstretch quarter-mile for the second annual Better Half Dash on Bojangles’ Pole Night.
The charity race, supporting Motor Racing Outreach (MRO) and Speedway Children’s Charities, will pit the women of NASCAR against each other in Bandolero race cars provided by U.S. Legend Cars International.
The entry list for this year’s Better Half Dash
Defending champion Jacquelyn Butler, fiancée of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver David Ragan;
Michelle Gilliland, wife of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver David Gilliland;
Patricia Driscoll, girlfriend of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Kurt Busch;
Ashley Allgaier, wife of NASCAR Nationwide Series standout Justin Allgaier;
Kristen Yeley, wife of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver J.J. Yeley;
Amy Gordon, wife of NASCAR crew chief Todd Gordon;
Wendy Venturini, reporter for SPEED TV and wife of Jarrad Egert
Angie Dillner, wife of SPEED TV reporter Bob Dillner;
Lyn-Z Pastrana, wife of NASCAR Nationwide Series driver Travis Pastrana
Adriene Pattie, wife of Brian Pattie NASCAR Cup Series Crew Chief
Katrina Childers, wife of Rodney Childers NASCAR Sprint Cup Crew Chief Rodney Childers
Melanie Self, representing MRO;
“The Better Half Dash was so much fun last year,” Butler said. “It was a very successful and entertaining event for the fans and a great way to let everyone know how much MRO and Speedway Children’s Charities means to the NASCAR community. I am so excited for this years BHD race, we have some exciting things planned to make it even more entertaining for the fans.”
The Better Half Dash will be a 25-lap race, with a competition caution set for Lap 15. A random inversion will shake up the field before the final 10-lap shootout. Caution laps will not count. If necessary, there will be up to two chances at a green-white-checkered finish. The starting order for the race will be determined by qualifying on Tuesday, Oct. 9 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
While the better half takes the wheel, her significant other will serve as crew chief and spotter for the race, but drivers and crew members are not permitted to make any engine, chassis or suspension modifications.
Butler said there is added pressuring to do well this year after her success at last year’s Better Half Dash race.
“This is the one thing David get’s to watch me be competitive at, and we are competitive people,” she said. “I want to make him proud and at least finish in the top three.”
The winning driver will receive $10,000 to be paid to the charity or charities of her choice.
Better Half Dash practice sessions are scheduled for Sept. 25 from 5:30 p.m.-9:30 p.m. and before qualifying on Oct. 8, beginning at 5:30 p.m. p.m. All practice sessions will be held at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Updates on the race and entrants can be found at http://www.charlottemotorspeedway.com or motorracingoutreach.com or by following #BetterHalfDash on Twitter.
On a personal note:
Six years ago the Lord put on my heart to bring the women in NASCAR together for a fun and friendly racing competition as an opportunity to raise funds for Motor Racing Outreach. I love serving women and children in motorsports as the MRO Women and Children’s Ministry Coordinator. My husband Monty and I joined MRO in 2001 after his retirement from the U.S. Air Force. It is my honor to represent MRO in the race. Pay close attention, as I will once again represent a legendary race car driver in sponsor and car number. 🙂
A special thank you to Charlotte Motor Speedway, Legends Cars International & Racing Electronics for making all of this possible. If you would like to donate, you can do so online at http://www.betterhalfdash.com