Don’t Judge a Book By It’s Cover

Don’t judge a book by it’s cover that is what we have been told. Yet sometimes even once we have dived in and are reading there is a drastic change we would never expect in our wildest dreams. At times, we believe whole heartily that we trust a person and the individual is extremely different than reality. Perhaps the person put on a front and we never expect them to betray us when we needed them most. Other times something tragic happens and the person we cherished dearly pushes us away.

Most can recall a time something like this has happened out of the blue. Reason or no reason it is devastating and heart wrenching. On one hand we might like to go back to how things were on the other we might hunger for revenge. Emotions race through us consuming us and dictating our actions or attitude.

Healing from a loss of a friendship is not an easy road. Furthermore, it is a road traveled too often by those who have a chronic illness but that fact does not make it easier. Coping in a healthy way as we move forward is vital.

The truth can hurt. To be completely honest the only One who is completely unwavering is the Lord. He cannot betray us. He will never turn His back on His children. Moreover, His love for His children is too great to put into words. Regardless of what we do He is still there.

Those words of reassurance might bring some comfort at times but there may be times those words offer no comfort at all. To be honest that is perfectly okay. It is okay to not be okay and that our hearts have been shattered in this tragedy because that is not how God intended humans to interact. He intended us to live in community, encouraging one another, and challenging each other to grow closer to Him. However, we live in a fallen world with too much sin truthfully.

My heart breaks for you if you can relate to these words. I do not know when nor how but I promise it will be okay. By God’s grace you my sweet friend will overcome the heartbreak. God is close to the broken hearted, the rejected, and uninvited.  Run towards your loving Savior who will heal your broken heart.

Do not isolate yourself (though it may be tempted and I understand that). A reminder once more, the Lord created us for community just not everyone uplifts us the way they should. Those in our lives should encourage us to thrive and grow in Christ not be a source of stress.Call that person you can always count on for prayer.  During this valley of sorrow practice some self care. You have been though an emotional combat and must recover properly.

Lastly, be certain to pour your heart out to Jesus because He is always listening. Write out your prayers to Him. Rest assured He holds all your tears in a bottle. He understands the heartbreak and devastation. Pick up that devotional you have been meaning to read. Start that Christian book that is under a pile of junk on the counter. Listen to a pod cast or sermon. Take the time to begin studying that book of the Bible you have been meaning to. Join an online Bible study. Do anything to immerse yourself in His Word and His love. Guard your heart. You have victory in Jesus Christ over this.

 

 

Jehovah Jireh (God Our Provider),

We surrender to Your compassionate hand the individual who has deeply hurt us. Allow them to be redeemed by Your grace.

Our hearts have been shattered in ways we never imagined. Things will never be the same. Even though it hurts, Lord Jesus, we will praise You. We will always unending sing Your mighty praise. We are confident that You will heal our hearts. Confident that You will provide and deeply bless us beyond our dreams. Fill us up with You, Jesus. Drench us in Your love. Comfort us. May we grow closer to You.Allow this season of sorrow to bring honor and glory some how to Your precious name. We love You.

Amen

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Pour Out Your Heart

It is never ending. The symptoms. The pain. The frustration, anxiety, and tears. The fatigue. The new diagnosis. Life dramatically changes when you learn you have a chronic illness. Things become devastating when you keep adding to that list.

It is bittersweet. One is thankful to know what is going on and that there is a logical explanation to the maddest within their body. Yet on the other hand, one may question, how can so many things be wrong with my body.

It becomes more challenging when no one offers a full treatment plan. A few medications may help, some, yet it is not nearly enough. The pain becomes so intense one questions if they are dying. More frustrating when someone cannot function and sees no way out. There is no independence. Living at your own risk.

Yes, positive thinking is an asset and it is fundamental. In contrast, shutting off all “negative” emotions will do no good. Sometimes we need to allow our selves to get frustrated, upset, admit it is too much, admit we are scared, anxious, or feeling hopeless in the moment.

For a very long time, I handled my chronic illnesses emotionally “too well” to some. I wasn’t scared or anxious or depressed. My doctor at the time felt I should be unstable and offered me anxiety or depression medications which I refused. I knew it was God’s grace which I would embrace until the season ended.

Now, three years later, I am more emotional and grieving my losses from chronic illness more. Not clinically depressed or anxious, just emotional more than I would like. It is a challenge for me, like many others, to allow myself to feel hopeless, anxious, or scared. I feel the need to be super woman. To handle everything perfectly according to an unrealistic worldly perspective. Feeling like I never measure up.

No where in the Bible does it say that a saved individual will handle every problem with no struggles or negative emotions and of course it doesn’t say we will handle it perfectly. Take a look at the Psalms to see how David shared his raw emotions with Christ. Christ meets us in the struggles. “For the Eternal will be a shelter for those who know misery,
 a refuge during troubling times. Those who know Your name will rely on You, for You, O Eternal One, have not abandoned those who search for You” Psalm 9:9-10. He holds us during the unbearable pain. He wants us to pour our hearts out to Him and to share the intense emotions. He encourages us to be transparent. He is okay with us saying that we feel it’s unfair, we are frustrated, angry, or scared.

Christ meets us where we are in the middle of the mess, the emotions, and pain. Psalms 34: 4- 5 says, “God met me more than halfway, he freed me from my anxious fears.  Look at him; give him your warmest smile. Never hide your feelings from him”(MSG). He holds us in His arms when life is too much to deal with. Endlessly He pours out grace in the tragedies. He wants us to trust Him in the difficulties. Gently, He will guide us and provide moment by moment.

Lord,

I lift Your name on high. Thank You for knowing me better than I know myself. For allowing me to be completely honest with You. You understand my sorrow, anxiety, and pain. You understand my thoughts and emotions better than I do. Help me to invite You into my pain and to pour my heart out to You without holding anything back. May I never hide anything from You. You are my refuge. I trust in You. Provide all I need. Help me to live life abundantly. Let each moment of my life bring honor, glory, and praise to Your name.

Amen

Does God Care About New Years Resolutions? 

New years can be challenging, even more so with chronic illness. Of course, there are many things ideally we would love to do, countless goals to set, but health is unpredictable. There are years that consist of back-to-back flares where the biggest accomplishment is living to see another year. Is it even worth setting goals with a chronic illness? Does God care about New Year Resolutions?

I do believe it is worth setting attainable goals each week and each day. Furthermore, I think God doesn’t care about a fancy out of reach New Year Resolution, but He wants Your number one focus to be Him. God deeply desires for you to grow closer to Him this new year, to worship Him more, and to love Him more. Additionally, He wants you to invite Him into each moment of your messy everyday life. He doesn’t want a few minutes only during your time with Him.

How do you invite Him into each moment? Focusing on Him during the day can be challenging but vital. We must be intentional. Thankfulness opens the door to live life, just as Jesus has called you too. It shifts our perspective to see God’s glory in every little thing.”No matter what the headlines shout, the world only has two stories: bless God or curse God.No matter what the world tries to sell, we all only get to choose from two shelves: Give God thanks or Give God the door. No matter what we’re facing, there are always only two roads: thanksgiving to God or dismissing of God.” Ann Voskamp

Moreover, a five-second prayer shifts your focus. A simple, help me Lord or give me grace in this moment is sufficient. Lastly, reciting Scripture you know by heart helps you to invite God into each moment. Our goal should be to continuously bring honor and glory to God’s name.

Choosing a word and corresponding verse of the year is currently trending. My word is thankfulness. I have chosen two Bible verses, And I come, eager to offer a sacrifice of gratitude and call on the name of the Eternal. Psalm 116:17. Come face-to-face with God and give thanks; with loud and joyful voices, praise Him in songs. Psalm 95:2.

Additionally, for the first time, I am setting goals for the year to grow in my relationship with Christ. A few examples include books of the Bible I want to read, finding two Bible verses to pray each month, memorizing a verse, and writing out a Bible verse every week.

Lord Jesus,

We praise You for Your tender mercy which allows us to have this New Year. Thank You for the countless gifts You have given us. Enable us to focus on You in everyday moments. Let us invite You into the messy moments of our lives. Allow us to grow closer to You in 2018. Let us love you more. We desire to bring honor and glory to Your name each and every day. Let us cherish Your Word like never before. Allow us to desire to spend more time with You. Help us to find new ways to grow in You. Amen

 

It’s Begining to Look A Lot Like Christmas

It is a delight to share our Christmas photos with our friends. I hope you enjoy our simple pictures and that they bring a smile to your face this Christmas season.

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Featuring: Fluffy on the left. She has been with us now for about four years. She showed up one day and worked her way into our hearts. This year in addition to playing with Christmas ornaments, she is enjoying undecorating my little artificial tree.

Gracey in the middle. She has been my princess for five years now. The others look up to her and know she’s in charge. She adores all things Christmas and is known to have a fit at the end of the season.

On the right: Sadie Rose my curled ear cat. She is the most loyal cat who comes on command and checks on me frequently when I don’t feel well. She enjoys playing with everything Chrismas. Additionally, she loves laying under the tree.

 

 

Abby is my puppy also, as many of you know, my service dog in training. She enjoyed “helping” decorate the Christmas tree. Moreover, she is fitting in well with her love for Christmas.

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The stockings of my fur-babies who have passed. It is vital to keep them a part of Christmas for me because each one loved the season so much

A Prayer for a Life of Thanksgiving

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“How good it is to give thanks to the Eternal and to praise Your name with song, O Most High;  To speak of Your unfailing love in the morning and rehearse Your faithfulness as night begins to fall.” Psalm 91:1-2

Lord,

I adore You, how I love You. Cherishing who you are I offer worship from the depths of my soul to You. I treasure Your living  Word. Your beauty surpasses all words. Magnificent creator. Author of Salvation, through Your sacrifice beyond human comprehension You have brought me by Your blood, calling me Your beloved child. In You I  have everlasting life. You constantly poured out countless gifts beyond what I deserve, furthermore, far beyond what I deserve. All honor, glory, power, and praise belong to You now and forever more. Blessed be Your glorious name.

The to-do list dictates my time. My emotions wildly running dictate my reactions. My pain dictates my thoughts. I hurry- thought scattered- overwhelmed-depleted. Senselessly rushing another day without ever savoring a moment. Neglecting the gifts you have bestowed on me; I take so much for granted. I do not understand the depths of each gift and many I cannot see. Lord Jesus, have mercy. Forgive my ungrateful heart and lavish on me Your stunning grace.

Thank you from the depths of my soul for providing for me. I praise You for my relationship with You, Your Word, and Your character. Thank You for creatively and compassionately knitting me together and for the purpose You formed me for.  I praise You for this season of life. Thank you for investing in me, loving me, and forgiving me. I praise You for the blessings I neglect to see, those I am unable to understand, and the ones I have acknowledged, though not enough.

Enable me to slow down… to pause and reflect on Your goodness. Help me to recognize and say thank you for a few gifts. Fill me with thanksgiving every moment of every day. Let me live by Jesus’ example offering a gift of thanksgiving to You in the midst of unspeakable pain. Allow my thanksgiving to bring glory to Your holy name.

Amen

A Life of Thanksgiving

Elegant snowflakes dance through the air as November makes a grand entrance. Many people begin to think about the holiday season approaching. The stores are full of ideas and holiday movies are plentiful. Thankfulness creeps into each mind. Even so, people do not give the gift of thankfulness enough thought.

A thankful heart is a joyful heart, furthermore, it opens the door for an abundant life. Thanksgiving is not merely a holiday but a way of daily life. Stopping in the middle of the day to give thanks enables people to slow down.

There are many individuals who give an example of a thankful heart in Scripture like Job, David, and Paul. The prime example being Jesus. I never stopped and took note that before so many miracles, Jesus gave thanks to God. Before the feeding of the five thousand Jesus gave thanks, before speaking to the crowds Jesus gave thanks, and before raising Lazarus from the dead Jesus gave thanks. Undoubtedly, we should follow this example.

Plesant emotions are not a prerequisite to giving thanks. In fact, it is vital to a soul to give thanks during the trails in life. Ann Voskamp shares how Jesus did this the night He was betrayed, “In the midst of what seems a mess, in the tripping up and stumbling down of all hopes” Jesus gives thanks.

Life is bathed with pain. This is why it is vital to learn to give thanks in the middle of each struggle. A few seasons of intense chronic physical pain has personally, changed my perspective in what I give thanks for. Furthermore, I know I cherish things that most young adults do not. There have been times the pain breaks the pain scale. It shoots, stabs, deeply aches, and burns moving me to tears with an occasional yelp. This type of pain is the type that one cannot ignore. In the middle of the intense pain, I can barely whisper thank you, Lord, for holding me now. Thank you, Lord, that You are faithful, You are stronger than any trial, thank you, for getting me though this second, and thank you, for who You are.

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God is waiting to do awe-inspiring things in your life, precious friend as you pause to give thanks. Your thanks is an act of worship and it is an offering. Though this simple act, you will receive the joy of the Lord and life abundantly.

I want to share with you a simple Bible reading plan for the month of November inspired by thankfulness.

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I have been reading A Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. I am only about halfway through. Yet it has impacted my understanding and perspective of thanksgiving. If you are not familiar with this book, let me share a few things. Ann has a journal in which she records, beautifully one thousand reasons she is thankful. I am in awe of this discipline, even more so that she pauses in the middle of what she is doing to record something she is thankful for.

The description is as follows, “Drawing heartbreaking beauty out of the simplest of details, Ann Voskamp invites you into her grace–bathed life of farming, parenting, and writing–and deeper still into your own life. Here you will discover a way of seeing that opens your eyes to ordinary amazing grace, a way of living that is fully alive, and a way of becoming present to God that brings you deep and lasting joy.”

In addition, I would like to invite you to record at least ten things you are thankful for during the remainder of 2017. As you read the Scriptures and record your list of blessings take time to also reflect on the character of God.

Holy Thursday

 

The washing of feet occurs multiple times in the Gospels, furthermore, in Biblical times, this was common. In this song, it is believed that Mary Magdalene is the woman washing Jesus’ feet. Some time later, it is witnessed in Scripture that Lazarus sister, Mary washes Jesus’ feet. Lastly, Scripture records the tender moment that Jesus compassionately washed His disciple’s feet.

There are plenty of overlapping details and each has details that make it unique from the other feet washings in Scripture. One of the disciples proclaims Lord if you only knew who was touching you as well as the horrifying sin in her life. He was more aware of the depth of her sin than she ever could be.

Sin is a focal point for each foot washing story. Holy Thursday, Jesus is with His disciples. Jesus was aware when He cleanses the disciples that He was about to take on the sins of the world unlocking the power of Salvation. Even so, He put on a garment of humility as His heart’s sorrow increased for all He was about to endure; not only physically but also emotionally and spiritually.

“Jesus, knowing that He had come from God and was going away to God,  stood up from dinner and removed His outer garments. He then wrapped Himself in a towel,  poured water in a basin, and began to wash the feet of the disciples, drying them with His towel.

Simon Peter (as Jesus approaches): Lord, are You going to wash my feet?

Jesus: Peter, you don’t realize what I am doing, but you will understand later.

Peter: You will not wash my feet, now or ever!

Jesus: If I don’t wash you, you will have nothing to do with Me.

Peter:  Then wash me but don’t stop with my feet. Cleanse my hands and head as well.

Jesus:  Listen, anyone who has bathed is clean all over except for the feet. But I tell you this, not all of you are clean.

Jesus is lowering Himself to servanthood as an example for His beloved children.”

John 13:3-10 The Voice Translation

Each person is in desperate need of the cross. In need of forgiveness, mercy, grace, God’s love, and salvation. Jesus lowered Himself not only to servanthood but to a horrible unexplainable death on the cross. Regardless of what anyone does, we will never fully comprehend this sacrifice on this side of Heaven. May we strive to understand it better consistently.

Numerous examples are displayed by Jesus for us in Scripture, however, none of them are natural or easy. To live in His footsteps requires us to surrender ourselves to Him, to be connecting with Him, and to have His Holy Spirit.

“Now tell me why do we gather together in His name, Are we like the ones who merely watched, Tell me is that why we came, Are we like this sister, Do we truly enter in, In spirit and in truth, Have you come to worship Him? With your hands, are you touching him, And with your heart are you loving Him, And with your hands are you holding on to His, Then the source of life was right there in your hands.” Touching Him by Ray Boltz.

 

Ponder these lyrics in your precious heart as you reflect on each aspect of the Holy Week story. Come to the Lord, in spirit and truth; laying every sin and burden at the foot of the cross. Be transparent with Him in prayer. He knows your every thought, sin, and desire but wants to hear from you and connect deeply with you. Allow The Souce of Life to renew your heart.

Jesus Christ,

I am constienly amazed when I read the Scriptures of Your precious life. Help me to continue to know You fully and to pursue You in my daily tasks. Open the eyes of my heart this Holy Week. Soften my heart. Give me a deeper understanding.

I am like the woman in the song a sinner from birth so unworthy of Your love. At times, my sinful nature takes over. I make dozens of excuses for my sins. I confess that I have not obeyed Your commands, I have not kept You first in my life, I have lacked compassion, I have been selfish, and much more. I cry out, Lord have mercy on me! Extend Your amazing grace. Lavish Your forgiveness onto me. Make me pure once more. Enable me to turn from my sinful nature.

The concept of Your completely free love can be hard to understand. My good works would never have been good enough, but You do not require them for my salvation. My countless mistakes are as far as the east is from the west in Your Sovereign eyes.

I surrender all I am to You. I do not want to merely watch I need to enter into Your Holy presence in spirit and truth. I desire to reach out, touch Your hand, and walk with You daily. I want to love You with all my heart. Move my heart in a new way as I reflect on the Easter story. Thank you, Lord Jesus, for all that You have done for me. I love you.

Amen