November 29, 2016

The Class Christmas Gift Exchange

As a child growing up, my mom and I loved the library in the small town we lived in outside of Cincinnati, Ohio. You could borrow books for a month at a time and we both carried out stacks of books and then my mom would say, “Don’t go through them real fast, take your time, make them last.”

We didn’t have many books in our possession in our home, but we certainly enjoyed the vast selection at our library.

When I was just a little girl learning to read, one of the library books my mom read to me was A Little Princess. The classic story of Sara Crewe and her escapades in the attic of the girls’ school were exciting and vivid adventures in my mind.

A few years later when I learned to read well, and my mother was recovering from pneumonia, I borrowed the book again from the library and read it to her. She said no one had ever read a book to her and she was quite soothed by the evening readings while she rested. I finished the book and returned it to the library, admiring its beautiful cover and pictures inside. I wished I had my own copy of this wonderful book.

In my class at school that year we exchanged names on folded pieces of paper for the Christmas Party. Every year there was a class gift exchange and Christmas cookies and punch on the last day of school before the holiday break.

I wish I could remember what I bought for the person whose name I drew, but my memory has failed me on that. But what I do remember is the gift I received. When it was my turn to open my gift and was opening the package in my hands, and as the wrapping paper slipped away and the ribbon fell to the floor, I saw something very familiar in my hands. My gift was a beautiful copy of A Little Princess. 

The girl who drew my name called out to me, “My mom picked that out, I’m sorry she got a book, I know you are probably disappointed it is just a book…”

Was she ever wrong, I was thrilled! I was holding in my hands my very own copy of A Little Princess. I knew what I would do over Christmas vacation. I would read my book. When I was too young to read, my mom had read it to me. And then I read it to her. This time, I could read and savor my very own copy of this beautiful book. And keep it and treasure it for years to come. It was the best ever class Christmas gift exchange!

November 15, 2016

A Walk of the Heart

Jeremiah 29:13
And you will seek Me and find Me, 
When you search for Me with all your heart.

I wrote in my journal one morning declaring each day a brand new day to walk with the Lord. Then, as I paused to consider and examine what those words truly meant, I realized that much of that walking is walked out in my thoughts and prayers as I seek Him. This walking can be accomplished without taking one single step. Walking with the Lord is a walk that takes place in the heart—a heart to follow Him.

I went on to write in my journal that “Today, walking with Him required me not to worry about something troubling that happened, but to pray and trust. Today, walking with Him has shown me through the reading of His Word that I am not helpless, but I am an overcomer and more than a conqueror.”

Walking with the Lord has also taught me to never give up when visible answers to prayer are slow in coming. Walking with Him has shown me this week not to focus on the natural things of this world and circumstances surrounding me, but to keep my eyes on God and what only God can do.  

My journey with the Lord is a walk to seek Him, and this is a walk of the heart I choose to take each brand new day.

November 13, 2016

Place of Rest

Philippians 4:6-7
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

When I try to figure things out all on my own it seems like it becomes more complicated with each angle I attempt to analyze and fix. When I admit it’s not mine to figure out and leave it in God’s hands, a sigh of relief escapes and peace envelops me. When I leave everything in His hands, I find that I am wringing and twisting mine a whole lot less.

Whatever made me think it was mine to figure out? How thankful I am that He asks me to trust Him, seek Him first - and He’ll take care of the rest. When I rest in knowing this, I find a joy and peace I could not know when I was trying to manage everything myself.

I’m often asked how did I find this place of peace and joy and my answer is, I have learned through my life experiences and walk with God that because my life is in His hands, all my worries and cares can be placed there too.

There were painful times in my life long ago that were difficult to endure. There were disappointments I could not understand. There were hurts I could have held on to, but chose to let them go and give it all to the Lord. The faith I have placed in Him gave me the courage and strength to do that.

He taught me to cast all my cares on Him, and He showed me He would bless this step of faith. What a difference it made in my life when I stopped trying to figure everything out myself.

When I let Him have His perfect way - then I found myself in a new place - a place of rest. This new place of quiet rest in my heart was also a place of peace and great contentment. Most of all, the place of rest and confidence I found in the Lord was a place of blessing and joy.

Isaiah 26:3
You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.

November 9, 2016

Can You Hear Leaves Falling?

I took a walk around the small lake at a nearby park and I noticed a sound I couldn’t identify until I stood still, watched and listened, and then I knew it was the very soft sound of leaves falling and drifting to the ground on the very lightest of breezes, yes, you can hear leaves falling…

Can you hear leaves falling
As they drift
Carried by the autumn breeze?
Leaves are swirling
Dancing all around
And I just take it in
Yes, I hear the sound of leaves falling.

Lord, I want to hear You
I want to hear Your voice
And in the still small whisper of leaves drifting to the ground,
I can hear You
I hear You in my heart
I hear You all around me
For You fill up the whole earth!

Isaiah 6:3b The whole earth is full of His glory!

Your beauty and favor surround me….

Psalm 5:12 For You, O Lord, will bless the righteous;
With favor You will surround him as with a shield.

I can hear the sound of autumn leaves falling, softly and beautifully falling all around me.

November 6, 2016

Stephen, Full of Faith

Acts 6:5 And they chose Stephen, a man full of faith…

In Acts chapter 6, Stephen and six other men were selected by the apostles to be the group to attend to the needs of the widows in the early days of the New Testament church. He is described as a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit.

Stephen spoke boldly of Jesus and caused quite a stir which led to being falsely charged with blasphemy, although while under this duress the council of his accusers observed that his face shone as an angel.

He answered their accusation in Acts 7 as he takes them back to the days of Abraham, Moses, through the Patriarchs and all the way to the days of Jesus and points out that they are the ones who murdered Jesus and continues to speak to the truth of who Jesus is–which they absolutely do not want to hear.

The angry crowd despised him and picked up stones and threw them at him. Their hatred for our Savior and for Stephen was aimed at him with every hurling rock that resulted in a horrific killing. Stephen died uttering these words in verse 60, “Lord, do not charge them with this sin.”

What a strong man of conviction. He didn’t back down and he was murdered for standing for Jesus. Yet, his dying words were of love, compassion and forgiveness to those who killed him.

I want to be someone who doesn’t back down when the world attacks me for what I believe. I want to be known as someone who lives by their convictions. I want to be like Stephen—full of faith, standing for Jesus. 

1 Corinthians 16:13-14 
Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong. Let all that you do be done with love.

November 1, 2016

Pray Before You Leap

As I recently prayed about an important decision I needed to make, I remembered there was a time when I didn’t. As a young Christian I didn’t even know that I should.

When I was in my early twenties I moved without even praying about it. I loved God and it was not my intention to go the wrong way, I just had not learned yet that we are to seek God as we make choices and decisions. I just plowed ahead completely tossing all wisdom aside.

I was a young Christian and hadn’t been in my Bible much or heard a lot of teaching and I didn’t know to even pray about choices and decisions. I had not been raised in the church and had not learned these important spiritual lessons.

So, I immaturely quit a job and moved out of state just because I was not satisfied with the status quo. Long story short, that move failed and I quickly ended up back in the same town, but without an apartment, furniture, or job. I had to start over.

But it wasn’t that long until my husband came into the picture and I knew exactly why God brought me back.

When I think about God undoing my bad decision and bringing me back and how He brought my husband across my path by moving him to my town and bringing him to my church – I saw His grace and love for me forged deeply across my heart forever.

Oh, I am grateful He covers us with a lot of tender grace in our youth and that He is patient with us as we learn and grow in the ways of the Lord.

God definitely gained my attention through that experience and how He amazingly worked in my life. It was a significant turning point in my spiritual growth that impacted the deepness of faith I walk in today.

God cares about every detail of our lives and He has a plan that is slowly unfolding through the circumstances we experience. We would be wise to seek Him, and pray and also to trust and wait on Him.

Philippians 4:6-7
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.