Do You Ever Wonder?

Time changes your thought processes, as I age, I often find myself asking, “I wonder why God trusts me enough to allow me to be used as a vessel for Him.” What I mean is, I no longer question God as to why he allows me to go through the things that I do, but as to what message He wants me share with other people along the way.  I am honored and humbled now by the ability to share my life experiences with others. I am always looking for the purpose or “lesson”behind the situation. No matter what the experience, whether good or bad, I learned a long time ago, there is no embarrassment, or shame if it is a less than desirable experience, but as a true opportunity to help others down the road that they will travel. God does not bring a person through something, for that person to keep it all to themselves. Compassion and empathy are truly God’s greatest gifts that we can receive. It is revealed to me daily, as I receive his infinite gift of Grace and Mercy. God tells us that if and when we ask for wisdom, He will give it to us.

James 1: 5, “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”

So when you feel like you are in a stagnant place, sit quietly and pray for wisdom, but also that your purpose is revealed so that you can turn your circumstances into a solution for someone else’s problem.

 

 

Living life With Joy, It Can Happen- Day 2

Words often take on new meaning when you experience them personally first hand. What I am referring to is the difference between being happy and having joy. I always thought of them as the same, a temporary emotion or feeling that often changes with our circumstances. I guess that is why I never could truly experience either one of them on a consistent basis. Let’s be real here, being happy and having true joy can be very difficult if your preconceived notions of the meaning of either word do not line up with your life experiences. For this article, I am going to talk about joy. In the process of finding joy on a consistent basis, I wanted to get a true understanding of what the word even meant.  Merriam Webster’s Dictionary defined joy as “the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires (delight)   the expression or exhibition of such emotion :  (gaiety a state of happiness or felicity (bliss)  a source or cause of delight . I don’t know about you, but if I were really sold on the notion of the word joy based on the meanings above, it would still sound temporary, and superficial. I guess I wanted more, and knew with God I could expect to experience Joy on a much deeper, satisfactory level.

I love how Kay Warren defined Joy in her book, Choose Joy: Because Happiness isn’t Enough when she wrote that Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life, the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be alright, and the determined choice to praise God in every situation.”

I love that, it means so much more to me emotionally. It doesn’t say that everything is always going to be good, or pleasant in my life, it means to me that no matter what, God loves me, and is in total control of all situations. That the Faith I have in God in knowing that He Is, who He says He Is! The words “quiet confidence” to me means peace, safety, hope and strength. The most important part is when she says “the determined choice to praise God in every situation.”  The key word is choice, and I choose God, I choose to love Him, and I choose to trust Him!

Can I be honest and vulnerable with you? It has taken me a long time to get to this point in my life. It has never been this peaceful, and I like many others use to tie my “emotions and experiences” in defining my level of joy. That is a scary notion to have, because experiences are often summed up with unreliable and inconsistent emotions. There was a time in my life after my younger brother passed away, that joy was a thing of the past. I was very angry with God, and turned away from Him. In my infinite wisdom maybe I thought I was trying to get back at God for taking someone so treasured by me, I do not know, It does not make a lot of logical sense, that I know. Thank goodness that God is so patient, and kind, and unconditional in His love for all of us, for I would have really been in a permanent mess! The reason I mention that experience is a few months ago, I attended the funeral of my brother-in-law, and it was during one of the saddest moments, that the most amazing opportunity to glorify and worship God in the midst of pain is almost unexplainable!

So to help others in their journey of obtaining joy, I will leave the wisest words, Scripture

Proverbs 10:28 The hope of the righteous brings joy, but the expectation of the wicked will perish.

Romans 15:13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

1 Thessalonians 2:17-20  But since we were torn away from you, brothers, for a short time, in person not in heart, we endeavored the more eagerly and with great desire to see you face to face, because we wanted to come to you—I, Paul, again and again—but Satan hindered us. For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you? For you are our glory and joy.

1 Peter 1:8-9 Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

2 John 1:12 Though I have much to write to you, I would rather not use paper and ink. Instead I hope to come to you and talk face to face, so that our joy may be complete.

Romans 15:13  Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

This was taken from a great article that I will attach so that you can read more on joy.

http://www.whatchristianswanttoknow.com/bible-verses-about-joy-20-uplifting-scripture-quotes/#ixzz378Piuu60

In conclusion, my favorite verse on Joy is found in  James 1:2-4

New International Version (NIV)

Trials and Temptations

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

May you find the peace and joy that you are looking for!

Transformation to living a Life of Joy~ Day 1

Change is not easy! Making the verbal commitment to change your actions and behavior is the easy part, walking it out is the hardest part. Reading the Word yesterday gave me a sense of peace, but it seems as soon as I put the Good Book down, life hit me square in the face. I know that initially Satan makes it really difficult for a person to walk out their intentions. One of my biggest obstacles is not only dealing with myself, but dealing with other people and their emotions and hang ups. I realize that just because I want to change, doesn’t mean that those around me will do the same. I know that I cannot let other people and their influence choose my joy level, but still, somehow that is what seems to happy.

It’s not just the big things in life that throw a person, I believe it can also be the little daily trials that occur, day after day. Comparing it to a block of ice and a chisel, Satan just continuously taps on the ice, until there is a crack, which gets bigger and bigger eventually causing  brokenness.. It is the same thing in my life. I must learn to rely on God and not my emotions, seeking him for comfort and fulfillment. We are all full of sin, expecting another person to bring fulfillment and happiness in my life is absurd. They just are not able to fulfill all the needs that I have, and expecting them to, not only sets them up for failure, but brings more destruction into our lives.

So for today, I am going to dive further into the Word, looking up Scripture on Joy, fulfillment, contentment, peace, love and happiness. That should keep me busy for a while.

 

 

Treasuring God’s Gifts~ Each Other!

 

 

Sitting here looking out the window I have reflected on the awesomeness of God. Not only is He full of immeasurable love, goodness, truth, grace and mercy but so many other characteristics that cannot be measured in one lifetime!  God is a life giver,  not referring to when He gives life to a baby taking the very first breath, but  when He gives life or renewal to our minds and circumstances. He is a healer and restorer of not only our physical health, but our emotional and spiritual health as well. The ability to take a fresh new perspective about the way we view ourselves, other people, and the way we live our lives.

My husband recently went to school in another state, and during this time, we both experienced tremendous growth. The best part of this was the realization that marriage is a gift! It is an ongoing process that is never based on feelings or actions, but to be successful , it must be based on God’s love.  God is the restorer and can take any situation and turn the circumstances around, changing the outcome. While my husband was there, I flew out for a couple of days and was blessed to be able to spend a few days together just the two of us. It did not take much planning or expense, but for us was a life changing progression in our marriage to the next phase in our lives.  I recently had an older woman ask me, “What are you going to do and talk about with your husband, when the kids are all out of the house, and it is just the two of you?” What a question, if you look deeply into it, at the end of the day, when all other factors and people are removed from your relationship, what will it be like? Do you even know one another? What are your common interests? It was amazing to fall in love with my husband all over again, and that is exactly what happened!

Marriage is not like Junior High School when you tell everyone your “going out with so and so”, and then three days later like someone else. It is a life long commitment that three people make, you, your spouse, and God!  There is no such thing as falling out of love, or not feeling like being in a committed relationship any longer? You do not base your love on feelings, they are unreliable and deceitful! I am sure there have been many times when my husband and I  didn’t feel like being married. My last point is this, as long as it is about you, (your feelings, your thoughts, your love) and your eyes are not on God, it will not be as stable, loving, and committed as it could be! Put your focus back on Jesus, have faith, and trust that HE will do what He said He would do in your life, and see what wonderful opportunities you will have to be used as a vessel for God!!!

 

 

Are You Desiring More?

I am on a spiritual journey right now with the goal of falling deeper in love with my Savior, Jesus Christ. I am excited, and can physically, spiritually, and emotionally see the changes going on in my life and in my surroundings. I know that it is a lifelong journey, but like any trip I am happy for it to finally be underway! It kind of reminds me of when my family and I take a Cruise. We count down the days till the trip, are so excited to finally get on the boat and enjoy the moment. the only difference between the journey I am on now, is that unlike a cruise vacation, this one will never end!

A few weeks ago in my small group that I am leading we talked about the difference of having knowledge and having wisdom. Wisdom allows you to view things from the same perspective of Christ. You model to see all people, and situations through the eyes of Christ.  Most importantly, you initiate your response to be one that Christ too would have done. As a result of praying for wisdom,  I am starting to see things in a completely different way, and study Scripture that I never knew existed.  I have an appetite for learning more about His Word, and desiring a closer relationship with  Jesus, it feels like such a high (natural). The warm physical feeling you have inside your body that makes you look and feel like you are glowing!

I have been really diving into Scripture on the Holy Spirit! I have learned so much, and all kinds of doors of opportunities have been opening in my life, a direct result of the Word and the Work of the Holy Spirit. It is my deepest desire to positively affect other people, and by example, bring others who are lost to Christ. In Church today it was said that to draw people to Christ, you must be a good encourage. Jesus had an amazing ability to encourage other people for He was so full of compassion and love. They say to be a good leader, you must be a good delegater. I think if we changed the focus from delegation to building and encouraging one another, there really would be no need to delegate things to others, for the sheer desire to please one another in love, this  would almost eliminate this need. We as a society need to get to the concepts of what true service is to one another, using Jesus as an ideal role model.

 

How about you? What do you want in your life? How will you reach your goal? I encourage you to reach and put your own plan of action into place. Write out your Godly goals and objectives and see what you come up with.

 

 

 

Is Praying Natural For You?

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This morning I was flipping through the pages of the book, “Too Busy Not to Pray” by Bill Hybels and caught an interesting statement, it said “praying is unnatural to the human being”.  Thinking about this statement, Is it true? Is that why I have such a difficult time staying focused when I pray silently in my head? Is that why my prayer life is sporadic, and not consistent? Most importantly, is that why I am not as close to God as I would like to be? I believe all of these questions to be true.

The easiest method for me to pray is when I journal my prayers to God and write them out. The ability to put my thoughts on paper allows my brain to focus on my thoughts, and expressing them through the written word. The problem that I do have with this is that I often get lazy and do not feel like writing everyday, causing me to forgo days without talking to God, and Him talking to me. Satan loves those missed opportunities! He strives to make it difficult to slow down and pray, keeping us often overly busy, rushed, stressed and frustrated. When I dive into the Word, God will speak to me as well, but the problem there again is laziness and inconsistency. I feel closest to God when I am in His Word but must admit that times I look at the Bible and think OK, “Where do I start?”

Anyone else? Share your thoughts?

Teacher

Letting Go.....Yesterday was freshman night at the local high school where my daughter will be attending next year.  I could see the excitement building in her as we walked down the hallways, each person in our party having their own agenda’s for the night. My husband was looking for the room that talked about college preparation, I was looking for the class scheduling, and Ali was looking down the hallway to see which one of her friends were there so she could socialize. I realized at that moment that my little girl was growing up very fast, and was entering the realm of making adult decisions about her life. She told me later that night, that she was excited to finally make, “adult decisions” with her life.  Reflecting back now on that conversation, I also remember me telling her about a young man in the next town over, a year or two older than she that had recently passed away. I shared with Ali that this was a vibrant young soccer player, who they believe had went to the Emergency room the night before he died because he had hurt his wrist in gym at school and was prescribed pain medications. The rumor in his town is that apparently this child may have taken all of his Vicoden that were prescribed to him, causing his death.   I asked my daughter if she had ever tried any narcotics or drugs? She said to me that she had not, but with further probing stated that she was curious. I explained to her that we do not know why this young man passed away, that in fact, it could be that maybe he had an allergic reaction to the medication, we do not know at this point. The point I was trying to get her to understand is that we often do not know the end result of something until it is out of our control. Our child growing up is another factor out of our control. The child takes all the life component pieces that they have been given and start piecing them together to form their own person, their own personal jigsaw puzzle. Each piece of the puzzle represents something they have either learned, places they have been, or people who have made an impact on their life linking together piece by piece to create a large visual picture or map of life. 

I thought about this, what have I really instilled in my child? What have other people, often beyond my control instilled in my child? Is she going to know the right way, the right answer to prevent heartache later on for her life? Do I even know what the correct answer was when I gave her guidance in the first place? I am referring in this article to one child, but I am speaking in my heart about all of my children. How do I know? The answer is, I don’t know. It is safe for me to presume that I have probably given her lot of wrong answers through the years, but I know that I have introduced her to Jesus. The One who does know, the maker and creator of life!  The real question is am I continuously feeding her the way to find Jesus when she needs Him?

Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”

Getting To Know Your Family

Call me a genealogy nerd, but research to me is so much more complex than just a simple vital search on an ancestor. Far beyond the birth, marriage, and death dates remains a person, a family member, that once lived a few years back. This person held the key to so much of your families being; genes, characteristics, personality, traits, and so much more that just your DNA. With them, a host of answer’s to the questions that you have today, both good and bad. Why do I look the way I do? What family gene’s do I have that could cause life debilitating diseases? Where did my temperament come from? What doors has this person opened for my family? All these simple questions, and so much more!

When I first started my research on my paternal side, I was looking for names and dates of great grandparents, and their surrounding family. I was literally shocked to realize how far I was able to trace back my lineage, and even more surprised as to the locations in which my family had arrived from. I never thought in a million years, that I would discover and find so many answers to the questions about my paternal side. From the smallest question as to Where did I get these ears from?  There were much more significant answers that I received, such as, Why did my paternal side of the male family drink so much? I even received an answer to a surprising question, as to why am I slowly losing some of my hearing now? Well, come to find out, my paternal side had known Hearing defects in our generations past. A few family members even opened up world renowned Schools for the Hearing Impaired.

Researching my family members has created a sense of loyalty, and established in some sense a relationship or connection with them. There have been surprises, interesting facts, and disappointments along the way. I have discovered that sometimes you create a person in the image that you expect them to be, and often times, with further research back, you discover facts about them that can be somewhat disappointing. For example, while doing research I discovered that my great, great, great grandparents were married a very long time, and had many children together. I discovered that although they were together, the ggg grandfather also had a whole separate family in the same town! The perception that I had created in my mind, was not based on the genealogical facts that I discovered.

To take my research to another level, I like to analyze the socio-economics of the area that they lived in. What was the time frame in regards to world historical events? Was there something sufficient going on that would effect their standards of living? The  Depression era, disease epidemics, local and federal politics? All surrounding facts that could help create the culture of that particular time.

One last thing, take the time to study and analyze the vital records of your ancestor. You will be able to determine a lot about the person they were by studying birth, marriage, and especially death certificates. Census records hold so many unknown facts about the family as a whole: location of where they lived, their profession, education, social status, people they associated with and so much more!

I encourage you to get to know your family members better, research with open eyes, an open heart, and you will be surprised at all the interesting facts that you discover.