Tag Archives: purpose

Planting Shade Trees Through Story

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For the ladies of @mrocommunitycenter that travel. We have learned many stories this year that tell of who God is and more specifically stories that like Sally Clarkson have transformed my life!

Stories about ordinary people that crossed my path over my husband’s 23 year U.S. Air Force career. People who lives out bold faith for me to model as I watched them in their ordinary lives “do small things with great love” Mother Teresa

This amazing work done by Sally Clarkson inspires us to look for life-stories along the pathway of faith and life. Each one of us making impact through our daily interaction with our circle of life.

You will love Sally’s beautiful heart! She is like us. Seekers empowered by the faith-filled life stories of others! Stories that are must shares and worthy of our attention.

So breathe this all in with me as I share excerpts from Sally Clarkson’s recent blog post- Planting Shade Trees Through Story

Here’s the link for the full blog post. Seriously a must read!!

https://www.storyformed.com/blog/2017/7/4/planting-shade-trees-through-story

“That’s when my heart skipped a beat, and God took the words of a comedian I don’t even remember and began to reveal to me His plan for the rest of my life…..” 

“Like shade trees, stories give us roots. Stories connect us to the world and show us what it’s like to be human… 

Stories also remind us of the hope we have in the Gospel. The story of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection is the most important and greatest story ever told….. 

Stories, like family histories and local lore, can also ground us in our sense of self, place, and community. Like shade trees…..

Stories inspire us to great heights.

Stories inspire us with the same sense of wonder and imagination. It is through story that we can catch a vision of all that is possible in our amazing world. 

We read of heroes, inventors, explorers, creators, and we began to think, “if he can do that, maybe I can too!” 

Like shade trees, stories offer protection. When we hear tales of tragic choices or misguided decisions and see the disastrous consequences, those lessons are stored up in our hearts and minds and, hopefully, keep us from making similar mistakes. 

Stories also offer protection in the way that they form and restore our souls. Tales abound of people who survive difficult situations and circumstances because they called on the power of stories in the midst of their trials to sustain their hope. 

Corrie Ten Boom, in her book The Hiding Place, tells about how, night after night, the Biblical stories sustained her and her fellow prisoners in the concentration camps. 

Like shade trees, stories yield fruit. The purpose of planting stories as shade trees in the hearts and minds of ourselves and our children is so that, ultimately, the seeds come to fruition. 

“Story-formed children grow to adulthood understanding that they have been specially formed by a loving God, destined for his kingdom, specially crafted to love, create, and conquer. They have reason to respond to their parents’ training, to work and learn, hope and know, because stories assure them that right choices and brave actions are the force behind happy endings.”  -Sarah Clarkson, Caught up in a Story

The fruits of the immigrant great-grandfather’s diligent work of planting shade trees were enjoyed by his descendants for generations. But he planted more than physical trees that day. 

He told a story, and that story made its way to me in that wooden pew 1000 miles and three generations away, on an ordinary Sunday evening. And a spiritual seed was sown in my heart that continues to grow to this day. He never saw the fruits of his labors. He never enjoyed the relief from the oppressive Texas heat. He never even knew that one day a woman in North Carolina would catch a lifelong vision as a result of his tale. 

But the fruit remains. Like him, as parents we may never see the fruits of our labors as we diligently work to surround our children with the very best stories, in hopes that the stories will shape them. 

“Blessed is the one…[whose] delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.” Psalm 1

Excerpt from blog post by Sally Clarkson @ Story Formed Blog

https://www.storyformed.com/blog/2017/7/4/planting-shade-trees-through-story

She Senses The Worth of Her Work

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She Senses The Worth of Her Work

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

I lived to know “love” like she did. 

Genuine, transparent and honest.

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

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

Available. Sensitive. Attentive.

I live to “live” like she did. 

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

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

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

Why? 

Because God never does things half-way.

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

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

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

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

YES! Hard things. 

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

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

Sadness. Loss. Struggle. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

She keeps an eye on everyone in her household,

and keeps them all busy and productive. 

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

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

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

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

Proverbs 31:25-3I

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

That’s Important To Me Joey and Rory Feek

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Lord brought this verse to mind tonight.

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

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

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

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

Joey & Rory

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

Death and Life

craftsbydaniellelee

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

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

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

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

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

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

This I know at this day’s end……

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

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

Hallelujah!!

We rest in truth tonight.

The Hiding Place Forgiveness and Faith by Corrie Ten Boom

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https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2%20Corinthians%205:21&version=NLT

“It was at a church service in Munich that I saw him, a former S.S. man who had stood guard at the shower room door in the processing center at Ravensbruck. He was the first of our actual jailers that I had seen since that time. And suddenly it was all there – the roomful of mocking men, the heaps of clothing, Betsie’s pain-blanched face.

He came up to me as the church was emptying, beaming and bowing. “How grateful I am for your message, Fraulein.” He said. “To think that, as you say, He has washed my sins away!” His hand was thrust out to shake mine. And I, who had preached so often to the people in Bloemendaal the need to forgive, kept my hand at my side.

Even as the angry, vengeful thoughts boiled through me, I saw the sin of them. Jesus Christ had died for this man; was I going to ask for more? Lord Jesus, I prayed, forgive me and help me to forgive him. I tried to smile, I struggles to raise my hand. I could not. I felt nothing, not the slightest spark of warmth or charity. And so again I breathed a silent prayer. Jesus, I prayed, I cannot forgive him. Give me Your forgiveness.

As I took his hand the most incredible thing happened. From my shoulder along my arm and through my hand a current seemed to pass from me to him, while into my heart sprang a love for this stranger that almost overwhelmed me. And so I discovered that it is not on our forgiveness any more than on our goodness that the world’s healing hinges, but on His. When He tells us to love our enemies, He gives, along with the command, the love itself.”

~Corrie ten Boom, the Hiding Place

Treasures In Heaven

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<div data-href=”https://www.facebook.com/melanie.self/posts/10202444533817493&#8243; data-width=”550″><div><a href=”https://www.facebook.com/melanie.self/posts/10202444533817493″>Post</a&gt; by <a href=”https://www.facebook.com/melanie.self”>Melanie Self</a>.</div></div>

Finding Daily Quiet

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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”

Linger:

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…..

Listen:

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.

Lift:

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.

Live:

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.

Linger. Listen. Lift. Live.

Linger. Listen. Lift. Live.
Design by Danielle Bolin

Up-Cycled Treasures: When The Old Becomes New Again

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An old door turned into a photo frame for home display. http://www.photogmommie.com/an-old-door-our-story

An old door turned into a photo frame for home display.
http://www.photogmommie.com/an-old-door-our-story

An old door turned into a photo frame board for displaying photos in your home….transformed and given new life!!

Rested, renewed, refreshed and inspired by this Pinterest pin after meandering through an old general store, mountain art galleries and an antique shop today as we slowly made our way home from a weekend of mountain retreat.

At every turn I was lovingly reminded, in every touch of up-cycled treasures, how very much I love re-purposing things that are so easily discarded. The truth is, I have been a collector of treasures tossed aside as trash since my teens. Items considered disposable (trash), unlovely, without value often found their way into my possession. And it still brings me joy to consider that others see, as I do, beyond the scratches, dents, faded color and dirt to see the beauty, new, practical and worthy life beyond what is obvious. Taking what is old and finding creative ways to recreate and usher in new life again. The old has become new again. My favorite idiom,  “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” ~Plato, is once again true.

Antique Store Treasure that found a new home today. Lovingly used Metal Box Bank with red and green patina

Antique Store Treasure that found a new home today. Lovingly used Metal Box Bank with red and green patina

Just like me, Jesus gave His life to take the place of every part of my unlovely self (sin), unworthy life and a heart in desperate need of rescue and restoration that the patina of my life had tarnished. God saw in me something beautiful, valuable and worthy of the cost to offer me a second chance to be new again through a relationship based on faith in the cross, life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

My home continues to be filled with new opportunities for life (physical and spiritual), as my husband and I have given our lives in service to our Lord. We continue to collect, nurture and love the less lovely and give them a home, a place to belong, just as Jesus has lovingly done for us. Every person and piece tells the story of who we are from family heirlooms to pieces that only the one who looks for beauty beyond what our eyes can see and I, a life rescued from sin and given new life and an eternal inheritance and home.

My loved, restored and less than perfect accepted heart will continue to tell of His goodness….My Lord, a collector of people like me, one the world would have tossed away but He, my creator, found a greater use…..He had a purpose and plan before the foundation of the world and now I walk worthy only because of His grace-filled love for me.

He sees me as perfect, worthy and lovely through the blood of Jesus Christ. My sin has been removed as far as the east is from the west……..

My home remains, a place where beauty is seen, appreciated and I will never forget to extend the same grace and love that the Lord extends to me. Love covers.

Even still……

“This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person.  The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” 2 Corinthians 5:17

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

Learning to Dance Brave

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“Fearful? Fear is always the first step of faith. Forward!” Ann Voskamp

“Whenever you are lost, forward is always the way Home.” Ann Voskamp

I am excited to share this Joy Journey with you!! But as sure as God is at work, the enemy is not far behind.

Yep. So, I took some quiet time away with the Lord today. In God’s sovereignty, I found myself reading the most wonderful passage in Hebrews 11, The Hall of Faith.

In my mind I walked and looked as if portraits of faith lined the walls of this journey.

By faith…..so many cherished men and women of faith led the way with their stories. And I reminded that, no matter what, by an act of faith, they were called by God and it most always led them into difficult places.

Today my heart was refocused for a new opportunity of faith: Learning to “Dance Happy” (Ann Voskamp) So, when fear not faith relentlessly pursues my mind and heart. When anxious thoughts long to consume me and shake my spirit. I have two choices: Fear or Faith

What things shake your faith? Push you to run into fear and anxious living? Are you hurled into an abyss and wonder how to escape? Do you (and I) worry about the things that never really happen? Or if they do, God rules by His Sovereign hand?

I would list my failed faith here but for best use of space, i surrender this time to a faithful God. The Way, the Truth and Life who completes my weakness and lifts my spirit to one of love, power, trust, dependance and grace upon grace!!

John Calvin said that the stability of the world depends on the rejoicing in Your (God’s) works.

I flounder at absorbing the fullness of God’s works!! Yet am smiling all inside at the thought of the Happy Dance and throwing anxiety and fear off the throne that I have empowered it to live !!

I continue on, intent on holding the line of faith that has been entrusted to me. NO MATTER WHAT!! And to replace the fear of the abyss with the will of God for my life that brings me such eternal joy. In every little daily thing, to pursue rejoicing over His works in my little life of faith!!

“I could go on and on, but I’ve run out of time. There are so many more—Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, the prophets. . . .

Through acts of faith, they toppled kingdoms, made justice work, took the promises for themselves. They were protected from lions, fires, and sword thrusts, turned disadvantage to advantage, won battles, routed alien armies. Women received their loved ones back from the dead. There were those who, under torture, refused to give in and go free, preferring something better: resurrection. Others braved abuse and whips, and, yes, chains and dungeons.

We have stories of those who were stoned, sawed in two, murdered in cold blood; stories of vagrants wandering the earth in animal skins, homeless, friendless, powerless—the world didn’t deserve them!—making their way as best they could on the cruel edges of the world.

Not one of these people, even though their lives of faith were exemplary, got their hands on what was promised.

God had a better plan for us: that their faith and our faith would come together to make one completed whole, their lives of faith not complete apart from ours” Hebrews 11:32-40

Friends, this is where the hall of faith does not end, but continues…..with you and I writing a faith-filled life story.. One little faith step at a time….for His glory!!

Today, my joy journal entry:
A Faithful God

And me……

I am learning with each new day how to Dance Brave!

Learning to Dance Brave

Learning to Dance Brave