New Beginnings

And so a new school year has begun!


I don’t know about you but when I was growing up, I always looked forward to this time of year.  I couldn’t wait to get new school supplies and maybe a few new clothes. As I got older, I looked forward to meeting new classmates and new teachers. Along with the anticipation, however, I was anxious about the unknown and afraid of experiencing what seemed like unrealistic expectations.

Middle school…. How do you explain the middle school years? If you’ve been through it, you know these years can be the best and most challenging of all.  That’s when you’re trying to figure out who you are and where you fit in.  I often pray specifically for these teachers because they play such an important role in helping their students learn how to handle all kinds of changes.  

Everyone has their favorite years.  For me, it was a relief to start high school. It was my freshman year when I realized I needed to buckle down and focus more on my education. There’s nothing like a fresh, clean start.

When I started college, my life changed in many ways.  That’s the year I realized I needed to focus on what God desired rather than striving to be loved by my peers. The truth that Jesus loved me and had a purpose for me ricocheted in my spirit and changed everything. I pray you understand that truth applies to you, too. 

Since that time,  I’ve learned that life can give us some of the hardest lessons and tests.  Sometimes we ace them, sometimes we fail. What we need to remember, though, is that God gives us the wisdom, strength, and courage we need if we’ll just take the time to read His Word. Unlike certain subjects in school that seem worthless because we don’t see how we’ll possibly use them later in life, His Word is filled with words of wisdom that we need for eternity.

“For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” Romans 15:4

Pick Me

Queen Anne’s Lace

I have always loved Queen Anne’s Lace and I’ve often wondered how something so beautiful could possibly be a weed. If you’re not familiar with it, you can find it growing along a country road or next to a field. Be sure to look for it. Its unique design reminds me of a snowflake.

Recently, curiosity got the best of me so I googled this plant to see what I could find out. One fact that didn’t come as a surprise was that it reproduces from seed and each one can produce thousands of seeds. Needless to say, it is invasive. No doubt that’s why most people don’t want it around. What surprised me, though, is that it’s considered to be a weed in some locations and in some areas it’s not. Apparently it depends on who you ask.

The story that really struck me, however, was this one. A lady stopped at a flower sale and purchased a plastic cup that contained a plant. Even though she wasn’t sure what kind of plant she was purchasing, she didn’t mind because she loved it!

Not long after got home and planted it, a friend of hers asked if she realized she had purchased a weed. As you’ve probably guessed, she had purchased a cup filled with Queen Anne’s Lace.

Her story reminds me of Jesus and how He paid the price for us . Even though He knew we were far from perfect and that our bad choices could multiply like a thousand seeds blowing along the country side, He still picked us so that we could have life — eternity with Him.

“I’ll never quit telling the story of your love.” Psalm 89:2

“Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.” Ecclesiastes 3:11

What’s holding you back?

You guys. If you read my previous thoughts about going to the Dominican, I hope you will read this one!

I’m back home now, and oh my….. I’m so thankful I didn’t let fear stop me from going on this mission trip. Every single bad thing I thought might happen….didn’t. What I thought would be the highlight….. wasn’t. What I was unsure of became the best part. Life is like that, isn’t it? We just never know what the future holds. I’m learning that’s exactly why we need to stand firm in our faith.

I was offered an opportunity to help teach children English and teach them about God — mainly by sharing His love through my actions. The day before I went out to one of the villages for VBS, I shared part of my testimony with a group of women. They encouraged me to share it during VBS, but I just couldn’t bring myself to share it. I’m still struggling with the fact that I missed that opportunity. It’s like having a sour stomach — for days. I pray I’ll be able to share it one day.

The message on her shirt says it all.

Here’s what I shared with my group. Maybe it will help someone who’s reading this now….

Side Note: The reason I shared this portion of my testimony was because of this question that came up: When did you realize you were a sinner? It brought up a memory from when I was younger and a realization that I discovered I was a sinner before I was a teenager, but I didn’t know what I needed to do about it until much later.

This is what I shared:

When I was in elementary school, a friend and I argued over a boy we both liked. I remember telling her that he was going to marry me. Her reply has stuck with me all these years. She said, “He will never like you because you don’t go to church.” I remember how sad I felt because it was true. You can’t argue with the truth. My family didn’t go to church. In addition to that truth, I thought God probably didn’t love me for the same reason.

For years I felt like I wasn’t good enough, my life was hopeless and that God didn’t even like me. Thankfully, one day someone finally explained that we are all sinners (even the ones who go to church) and although worshiping with other believers is important, it wasn’t something that God checked off a list to determine if He should love us. He loved us first and our “works” aren’t meant to be a way to get to Heaven but should be a heartfelt response to our love for Him.

The truth is, He died on the cross for all of us – not a select few. He loved us from the beginning, and He will continue to be there for us – waiting for us to come to Him – to come home. It’s so hard to comprehend this unconditional love when we constantly face judgement and rejection from others. Can you relate?

However, there’s no comparison to God’s love. No matter how difficult it is, we can’t take our experience with relationships here and compare them to our relationship with Christ. He knows us better than anyone, and He still loves us. Thank you, God.

If you haven’t accepted Christ as your Savior, you can do it right now. You don’t have to go to church to make this happen, but you can. The truth is –God is right where you are. Tell Him you love Him. Tell Him you know you’re a sinner and you’re seeking forgiveness — then let Him come into your life and change it.

“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” ~ Romans 5:6-8

“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Romans 12:2

What are you waiting on?

Where Does Your Peace Come From?

Several years ago, we went on our first mission trip. The place was Costa Rica. It was a life-changing experience; however, I remember telling my husband during that week that I wasn’t cut out for this. I remember being so relieved when we got home. I had learned to appreciate what I took for granted. I saw families experience happiness even though they basically had nothing. I experienced the love of Jesus in that place. No question. The thing was, I just didn’t think I could do it again — ever.

But here I am, packing for a trip to the Dominican. We are going with a different group, but they have the same purpose — to be the hands and feet of Jesus.

I admit I’m a little nervous. There have been 9 reported American deaths in the D.R. A part of me wants to cancel, but a part wants me to stick with it. So, here we are…

I recently sat with a senior saint from our church. After she walked me around her back yard, showing me her beautiful flowers, she started talking about her family.

She said they are “crazy fun” to be around. She paused, then she mentioned that one of her daughters died several years ago. She was one of the healthiest kids — always eating right and exercising. Unfortunately, she found out she had cancer and died a few months later.

This senior saint looked up at me and asked, “Do you believe that God determines how many days we will live on this earth?” She then added, “I do, and that’s what gives me peace about my daughter.”

It gives her peace knowing that God is in control.

What a blessing her visit was. She has no clue how much I needed to hear those words, but God…..

“Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand–when I awake, I am still with you.” Psalm 139:16-18

Let them Know

A thankful heart for his hero. Whoever your hero is — first responders, military, or a policeman — be sure to let them know that you are thankful for their service.

Control

I’ve been thinking about all the hot topics in our country. Know what I think? I think it’s all about control. No one wants to lose it. No one wants someone else telling them how to live their life and that they can’t do this, buy this, or live this way. Naturally, morals and faith come into the picture when we take a stand, but what screams out is control.

Just read the following story and see what your conclusion is…

My dad died in 2004. It was difficult for many reasons. My adult, mentally challenged brother still lived with him prior to this and we needed to figure out where he was going to live. None of that was discussed, ever. My dad had dementia; therefore, it was impossible to find out what he wanted for my brother.

Thankfully, after doing a lot of research and making a lot of calls, we were able to get my brother in a program that provided services for adults with special needs. It was very beneficial for his well-being. Having a social worker take care of his bills was the best thing for him. She gave him an allowance each week so that he wouldn’t spend all of his money at one time. THIS way, I knew all his bills would be paid — and paid on time. THIS way, I could be his sister and not someone who became his caretaker. Because of his strong personality, this was for the best for both of us.

Well, he didn’t like the fact that someone else had control of his money — even though it was the best thing for him. He didn’t like being told “no” when he asked for more, so he signed himself out of the program.

Needless to say, that was the worst decision he could’ve possibly made. In his eyes, however, life was good again because he had the freedom to make his own decisions about what happened with his money. He could take off for Florida if he chose to do so. He could go out to eat every day if he wanted. The bad thing was, he quickly ran out of money. His bills piled up and his electricity was almost shut off several times. The car he purchased on his own was a lemon and he had to have it towed. It couldn’t be repaired so he returned it to the small business dealership where he purchased it. Oh, and he put a post-it note on the windshield with this message: “I don’t want this car anymore. It’s a lemon.” He has told so many lies over the years — I’m not even sure what the truth is anymore.

{Side note: If you’re wondering why I, his sister, didn’t become his payee and take care of his bills, I did. I tried. However, he called the sheriff’s department in the county I lived in to report that I was “keeping his money from him.” This, of course, wasn’t true. He was willing to do whatever it took to get what he wanted}

My brother wanted complete control over his life. Well, he has that now– but it has only created one problem after another. Because of his situations, I have received call after call — wanting me to fix it – NOW! I could write a book on that!

You might be thinking…but this case is unique because he’s mentally challenged. Is it? Isn’t it a prime example of how many others are fighting for their right to having control over their life?

Sometimes other people do know what’s best for you — even when what’s best isn’t convenient for you or exactly the way you want it.

Just my thoughts…

Fill My Cup, Lord

When you hear the word ministry, what’s the first thing that comes to your mind? If you’re a minister, on staff at a church or someone who is committed to serving, I hope you think of love.

Working with people is hard. There’s so many different expectations; most importantly — there are many needs.

Friends, there are people dying who have never experienced the love of Christ because no one cared enough to take the time to show them. (Hopefully that someone didn’t run out of time because they had to rush off to a meeting!)

If you are in the ministry, I pray you remember who you are serving. This will help you to know when it’s OK to say ‘no’. On the flip-side, keeping this in mind will also help you know when you should drop your to-do list and take the time to show the love of Christ.

The truth is, serving others shouldn’t rob the joy of serving our Creator, and our busy life shouldn’t get in the way of leading someone to Christ.

If you’re getting t i r e d or maybe wondering if what you’re doing even makes a difference — go to Jesus now and let Him fill your cup with His power, wisdom, and strength.

Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go.d 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.e 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations,f baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,g 20 and teachingh them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with youi always, to the very end of the age.”j
Matthew 28:16-20 “

A Father’s Love

BABY
My dad…

Father’s Day is a special day for many, yet it’s a difficult day for some. If you’ve experienced heartache in some way such as the loss of your father, you may be finding this day difficult to celebrate or observe.

My father passed away in 2002, and every year since then I’ve realized how much I took him for granted. I was blessed to have the dad I did. He wasn’t perfect, but he was the perfect dad for me.

One thing that I treasure about him was his presence. Our family went through some very difficult times, but he remained faithful and committed.

When I was in the 5th grade, I was going through a difficult time and didn’t want to go to school. There were several mornings when I waited inside for the bus  instead of standing with my friends down the way. I would peek through the living room curtains so that I could watch my dad back out of the driveway and I watched  his car go down the street until it was out of my sight.  Tears would often sting my eyes.

There was something about my dad’s presence that gave me comfort and it was hard for me to watch him leave.

If your heart is hurting today because circumstances prevent you from experiencing   your dad’s presence, I hope this truth will comfort you today.

You have a Heavenly Father who loves you more than you can imagine.  In the book of John it says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. “ He loves you that much.

I recently read something written by author Andrea Lucado and I found it fitting to share here. She said, “When  you begin to view God as your Father, you start to see Him as not only the creator of the universe, but the creator of you. He intimately knows you (Psalm 139). He did not create us and walk away. He created us, sent His son to die for us and left the Holy Spirit to guide us.”

Our Heavenly Father WANTS to have a relationship with you. He WANTS to be with you. He wants to encourage you when you need it.  He wants to give you that much needed wisdom, direction, and comfort. Your Heavenly Father will give you everything you need if you’ll just believe in Him — and trust Him.

Let’s remember to embrace our Heavenly Father’s love  today.

Happy Father’s Day.

Read More

Home, Sweet Home

We are back in Indiana – the state we’ve lived in since we were born — with the exception of the last 3 years when we lived in Florida. I don’t even know where to begin….

I cannot believe how much life has changed for us. We’ve been “home” for 5 weeks, however, last night it dawned on me how God has answered so many of my prayers. I’ve been so happy since we’ve been back — busy putting things away and getting adjusted to being a pastor’s wife again and getting to know new people, and somehow I missed it! Totally missed the fact that God was providing our needs.

Life in Florida was like living on a deserted island for me, but I’m thankful how it brought me closer to God. There were days when I would be so down and I wondered if I would ever feel normal again.

One morning I came to the conclusion that I needed to get into a routine of thanking God for specific things to help bring me out of the valley. I know we should do that anyway because He deserves the praise, but this was important for me to do as a reminder to be thankful instead of pitiful or resentful.

So, every morning, before my feet touched the floor, I would look out our bedroom window and thank Him for another day. Simple as that. I would remind myself that there were people who were praying to live another day, so I should stop taking life for granted.

I felt so empty. I tried, but couldn’t find my purpose. Did you know that when you don’t feel like you have one, you feel worthless? It’s true. And, it’s a horrible place to be. If you’re in a similar place, please — don’t give up. When God provides a way out of that valley, you won’t forget it — you never forget. Pray believing, because He hears your prayers. At the right time — His timing, life will change. Maybe in baby steps, but it will improve.

A part of me wishes I understood why God allowed us to move in the first place, but then I am reminded that true faith requires trusting His plan, surrendering our plan, and following Him.


Still Climbing…

I’ve read where people have climbed a mountain alone. I can’t begin to imagine how scary that would be. If you need help, where do you turn? Is it really that big of a deal to tackle a mountain alone?

Just like life – we need people. We need God.

The mountain I’ve been climbing has become a little bit easier – not because of anything I’ve done, but because of the wisdom I recently received from a message at church.

God works that way, you know. Sometimes when you least expect it, you hear a message that makes you realize that God is listening. He knows the struggle, and He’s with us – every step we take. 

Psalm 46:1-3 God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.

Psalm 9:9-10 The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.

I’m so thankful for that reminder. Perhaps you needed it, too.

How to Climb a Mountain

I started 2019 with a bang! No, I didn’t go mountain climbing. I had to get a filling and a new crown. I mean, it just doesn’t get more exciting than that.

Last year wasn’t a fun year for me. I had to go to the ER TWO times. I had to go to TWO specialists – a Cardiologist and a Hematologist. Found out my platelet count was double and my cholesterol was too high. Had to have blood drawn TWO many times. Although I don’t have anything life-threatening, it all put me on the struggle bus. Have you taken a ride on it? It’s not exactly a fun ride.

I wasn’t going to write about this, but I have felt a nudge after seeing what Toby Mac had to say about sharing our struggles…

So, here I am – telling you about my journey. Here’s where things start to change.

I was stopped in the turn lane the other day when I heard loud music coming from the car that was stopped next to me.

A young gal was singing every word to the song with a smile on her face. I couldn’t help but watch her. I wondered if she was happy because she was on her way to see a friend or maybe because it was Friday. Who knows. All I know is that I want to feel that happy again – at least for five minutes.

The weight of the world can certainly keep you from enjoying life, can’t it? Sometimes you don’t even realize that a weight needs to be lifted until you see a young girl singing a song….

Relationships

Once again, I heard a story about a family that doesn’t talk to one another any more. They don’t get together for birthdays, holidays, or any other day. Sisters, brothers, and parents live near one another, but apparently have chosen not to speak. 

Whether the door was closed on you, or you severed the ties with someone, you could add so much more insight to this story. Both sides would probably point their finger at the other person, but I’m pretty sure both sides would agree that it’s not supposed to be this way. 

When my husband and I were married, my mother didn’t come to the wedding. She shut me out of her life weeks before. I was still living at home before my wedding, and the morning that my dad and I were headed for the church – my mom stayed in her room with the door closed.

Silence speaks louder than words.

I wasn’t surprised, but it still hurt like crazy. I made the choice on my wedding day that I wasn’t going to let her absence ruin my day or my life. Thirty four years later, I can honestly say that it didn’t.

Ohhhhhh, there were times over the next few years when I felt the hurt. Like all those times I attended a wedding after mine and watched the mother of the bride hug her daughter and shed tears of happiness for her daughter, or when I went to someone’s baby shower and caught a glimpse of what a mother/daughter relationship should be like. Yes, I felt the sting.

Relationships are important. They’re never perfect, but the good and the bad helps us become a better person if we allow it.

There’s another type of relationship that I want to talk about and how you handle it is of eternal value. It’s with Jesus. 

You do know that He loves you, right? Have you talked to Him – ever? I don’t mean through some memorized prayer or that one time you yelled “Oh, God! Help!” I’m talking about sitting down wherever you are and spending time talking to Him like you would a best friend – spilling your guts. Reading His word and getting to know Him. And most importantly, listening.

He has shown you, O man, what is good.  And what does the Lord require of you?  To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”  Micah 6:8

You, Lord, are forgiving and good, abounding in love to all who call to you. – Psalm 86:5

Or is He one of your loved ones that you’re shutting out? 

This Christmas

I recently read a friend’s post that explained why he celebrated Christmas. I love his heart.

I also love seeing and hearing about Christmas programs, family traditions, kids sitting on Santa’s lap for the first time, and how Elf on the Shelf is getting into trouble. So much fun.

I admit – I can’t wait to see my kids and my granddaughter open their gifts. The wonder of it all can make you feel like your world is overflowing with love.

The downside to this season has to be the disappointment I feel when I think about those loved ones that won’t be here. I don’t know about you, but I catch myself comparing my life, my family, my Christmas — with others.

When I read the quote below by Tony Nolan, it reminded me how much I tend to depend on the above things rather than what happened long ago to truly experience what Christmas is all about. What Jesus did fills my heart with such amazing love and joy – both that will last way beyond Christmas Day. This priceless gift was meant for you, too – if you’ll let it in.

No chance of me reaching heaven so divinity came into my hell. It was love that made Jesus do it and that’s the Christmas story I tell.” Tony Nolan

Praying your heart is filled with HIS love today. Forever. Merry Christmas. ❤️

The truth about lying

This will sound negative and like it’s coming from a person who has a critical spirit, BUT…. I think I’ve been lied to.

I know, I know…. you’re thinking “welcome to the real world,” but here’s the thing — it involves someone I thought I could truly trust. Someone I’ve confided in. Many times.

Why do people try to cover their tracks? Why don’t they have the guts to tell the truth? I mean, isn’t our friendship worth more than that?

The Bible tells us that Jesus was tempted like we are, yet He remained sinless. I am sure there were times when it would’ve been easy for Him to tell people what He knew they wanted to hear, but He didn’t.

Jesus set the bar for us to follow. Baptism. Forgiveness. The importance of knowing Scripture. Loving others. And then there’s this thing called the truth.

“The LORD detests lying lips, but he delights in people who are trustworthy.” Proverbs 12:22

Truth

Life is hard.

Our memory verse for the 4th & 5th graders this morning:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. Acknowledge Him in all your ways, and He will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6

Boy, did I need this reminder today. Maybe you do, too.

Sunsets in Indiana

Sunsets, lightning bugs, and country living. Just a few of my favorite things…