Community ~ It’s What Its All About

I’ve been sharing in this little corner of the internet since October of 2011.  I started this blog for me.  Seems kind of selfish, doesn’t it?  My intentions were not selfish.  I wanted a place to journal our homeschool and ministry journey.  I didn’t really expect people to read it.  I mean, I’m not a professional.  I just love to put my thoughts down.

When I first started, I mainly wrote about our homeschooling.  I remember hearing about “linking up” to a post somewhere else in the internet where others could see my link, go to my blog, and read about us.  I thought it was pretty cool.  And so, I “linked up.”

Over the next few years, I blogged about homeschooling and begin to share about our family, ministry, and the things that the Lord lays on my heart to share.  And then, in 2014, I signed up to be a part of the Write 31 Days challenge.  Through that challenge, for 3 years now, I became part of a beautiful thing.

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So what is community?

A society of people, having….common interests…

This is part of the official definition, and it is correct, but there is so much more to it!  In my opinion.

For me, community is one of the reasons God created it.  A better word for it might be fellowship.  We were created to be together.  To live life together.  To love and support one another.  To laugh and cry together.  To hold each other accountable.

You get the idea.

Being in the Write 31 Day community has been such a sweet time for me.  We even have a Facebook “community” for those of us who participate in the 31 day challenge.  We share stuff.  We pray for each other.  We are cheerleaders for each other – in the good and the bad.

Right now, I’d like to cheer on one of my fellow 31 Day community friends.    This is my friend Susan.

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Susan is a writer with a passion for HOPE.  She has a new 40 day devotional for the Lent Season.

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While I have not had the pleasure yet to go through all 40 days of Susan’s Lent devotional, I have had the privilege of reading an excerpt and it is just beautiful and thought provoking.   If you are looking for insight into “the people, places and events of the Passion,” I encourage you to grab hold of Susan’s book and come to know more about our Lord and Savior and the journey He walked to the cross.  You can purchase the book through Amazon HERE.

Before I go, I’d love to share a little more about Susan with you….

Susan is Mom to three adult children, Mimzy to two fantastic grands, and Other Mom to several others!  Today, she enjoys blogging, writing short devotions and short stories from her home in the Appalachian Mountain Range of the Blue Ridge Mountains in northwestern North Carolina, which she shares with her husband of thirty-plus years, Lowell, and their beloved dog, Sam.  

She can be found musing several times a week at hopehearthome.com

Her life purpose: “That I may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.” ~ Colossians 1:10

Her life vision: “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in Truth.” ~ 3 John 4

So this thing called “community”  is something special to me.  The Write 31 Days community is not the only one I am a part of.  I live in community every day with those in my hometown…those in my church…those that I know through homeschooling….ETC.  The Lord created us to fellowship and do life together.  I pray that you are as blessed as I am with beautiful community.  With them you have something special!

Until next time…

Joy to You!

 

Upside Down Hearts ~ A 31 Day Post (days 30 & 31)

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For 31 days – okay, really only 22 because I missed a few – I’ve shared my heart and I’ve learned more about myself.  I’ve also learned more about my Heavenly Father.  I have more to share but don’t we all.  As we walk and with the Lord, we grow and we are commanded to share His love, grace, and mercy with others.  In this, my final post, I wanted to share a few more verses and quotes that have been key to me when I needed encouragement.

I have a wise and dear friend who always says just the right thing at just the right time.  Over the past year, as we were seeking the Lord for what He had next for us, I naturally felt a bit unsettled.  I’ve shared that I felt a mix of emotions about leaving a place and a people that were dear to our hearts.  At a point when I felt at my lowest, my friend said these words to me:

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This resonated with me.  It’s how I felt.  Like my heart was “upside down.”  Once again God had provided a word of encouragement for me that would make a difference in my life.  Of course, that’s not surprising!  He’s in the business of making a difference in the lives of His children.

I think of what the Lord said to the Israelites through Isaiah when they needed reminding that He was still in control.

Fear not, for I am with you.  Be not dismayed, for I am your God, I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.      ~ Isaiah 41:10 ~ 

Psalm 94:19 says, “When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul.”  Isn’t that comforting?  My paraphrase of this is that “when our hearts are upside down, His joy (and peace) heals me soul.”  Thinking back over losing dear loved ones to illness, times of uncertainty with finances or job or school, I can confidently say that God had my heart in His hands.  I can also confidently admit that I didn’t always respond well to the pressure that came with those hard times.  I’m so thankful for grace!!!

As I wrap up this series, I just have to share something that my 17 year old said to me one day.  At this particular time, we had just been made aware of something very difficult that good friends were dealing with.  The wife of the family felt like there was no light at the end of the preverbal tunnel.

“Remember, even when the road seems darkest, when the tunnel we’re in never seems to end, and when hope and comfort are far from our hearts, God is still good.”  

He’s pretty wise, that boy of mine.

I pray that you have received encouragement through the words that God has laid on my heart to share this month.  Thanks again for joining me and I do hope that you will visit often.

Joy to You!


Bracelets and Flamingos ~ A 31 Day Post (days 28 & 29)

I’ve spent the last 27 days writing about the great encouragement that I received over the years from scripture, quotes, Facebook posts, texts, emails, etc., etc.  Back in April of this year, we packed our home and hugged our friends goodbye.  Before we left, I received 2 gifts that have continued to bring me encouragement on a daily basis.  My friend M gave me flamingos. Not the stick in the ground kind but rather the sun powered kind.  Their wings flap when they’ve been in the light for awhile.  She also bought herself a set.  And a few sets for me to share with others. {smile}

flamingos

Her reason?  As a prayer reminder.  She said that when she sees the flamingos, she will pray for the new ministry that we are in.  AND when I look at them, in turn, I will pray for their family.  Pretty good trade if you ask me.  I shared the wealth and gave flamingo sets to several sweet friends.

The other gift I received was from 4 ladies in our homeschool group.

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These bracelets are now among my favorite accessory for a few reasons.  One – I just love them.  Two – I adore the friends that gave them to me.   I use them as a prayer reminder too.  When I wear them, I think of my friends and say a prayer for them.  Now, I’ll admit that I don’t do this all the time but I do frequently.

I share these because I am acutely aware of how important friendship is.  Once you leave good friends behind, you really have an opportunity to see the blessing of those friends.    Charles Haddon Spurgeon had this to say about friendship:

Friendship is one of the sweetest joys of life.  Many might have failed beneath the bitterness of their trial had they not found a friend.

There is so much truth in Spurgeon’s words.  I know that the difficult times of my life have been more bearable with the friends that God has blessed me with.

One of the most beautiful accounts in the Bible is the friendship of David and Jonathan.  If you’re not familiar with it, take some time and read 1st and 2nd Samuel.  These two books tell us of the deep friendship between them and how it changed their lives.

The blessing of friendship is perhaps one of the greatest gifts that Lord can give.  I’m guilty of sometimes taking my friends for granted.  Or shutting them out when I think that they don’t need to be bothered with my junk.  But what I always discover is that they want to walk the easy and hard roads with me.

Because of our time in ministry and living in several different places, I am blessed to have friends all over the place.  My life is forever changed by the precious women that God has placed in my life.  I pray that you are experiencing that blessing too!

Until tomorrow…

Joy to You!


 

  

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Thanks for joining me on this 31 day journey.

Contentment ~ A 31 Day Post (day 27)

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Back on Day 16 of this series, I quoted missionary Jim Elliot.  It’s my favorite quote in relation to ministry because it reminds me that I need to be 100% present wherever God has me.  I ran across another quote by Mr. Elliot that hit me hard.   It reminded me of an exercise that a dear friend and his wife challenged my husband and I to do just after graduating from seminary.

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After my husband graduated, we were wondering what God would do with us next.  He was serving at a small church at the time.  We loved…and I do mean LOVED…the people there.  We really didn’t want to leave but wanted to be sure that we were in God’s will.  And, I can admit now that I wondered about full time ministry.  Surely God didn’t take us 7-1/2 hours from family for the previous 4 years to only serve part time.  I had to repent on that one.  And I did.  But I still had a longing to be closer to our immediate family.

Back to our friends.  He was and still is a pastor in a nearby city to where we were living.  He and his wife are precious friends that listened and counseled us on ministry, parenting, and more.  We were discussing our “what’s next?” with them and he challenged us to really search and study what God has to say about contentment.  I didn’t really want to do this because, well, I didn’t want to find out that my heart’s attitude was just flat out wrong.

But you see, as I studied, I learned that my longing even just to search for what might be next was definitely slaying my appetite to live life to the fullest.  I was missing out on things and people that God had right in front of me.

Paul has a little bit to say about being content in the New Testament.  In Philippians 4:11, he says:  “Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.”

We were not in need.  We lived in a perfectly lovely house, were serving a wonderful congregation of people, had awesome friends,…you get the idea.  Our situation was good.  And yet, I was not content.  Timothy says, “But godliness with contentment is great gain,  for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.”  ~ 1 Timothy 6:6 – 8 

I had food and clothing, and the things I listed above.  When studying this verse on contentment, I had to really look at my personal walk with the Lord.  I had to evaluate if my attitudes were in fact godly.  And I had to consider how my attitudes (and actions) were perceived by and/or effected others.

Y’all, it’s hard to take that look at yourself.  But I did it!  And you know what, the Lord allowed me to see all the reasons He had given me to be perfectly content exactly where I was.

Even though this didn’t apply to that time in my life, I would be amiss if I didn’t share Paul’s writing in Corinthians on contentment.  2 Corinthians 12:10 says, “For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”  Paul is such an amazing example of being content.  He understood that our life, changed by Christ, didn’t always mean we would walk an easy path.  I’m beginning to feel like a broken record during this series but then again, I feel like I can’t be reminded enough that God will never leave or forsake me (Hebrews 13:5 ~ another contentment verse.)

Life happens!  We can’t avoid it.  Not the bad.  And not the good ~ of course, we don’t want to avoid the good.  Times are tough.  I could run a tangent on the state of our country but I vowed to never walk the political road here so I won’t.  But there are issues that can cause any of us to loose sleep.  Here’s the thing:  God loves us and calls us to Himself.  He asks us to follow Him in obedience.  Sometimes He asks us to do hard things.  He always asks us to trust Him and to be content in Him and His plan.

Until tomorrow…

Joy to You!


“His Constant Support” ~ A 31 Day Post (day 26)

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I’ve spent the past 25 days talking a lot about God being present in tough times.  That He walks with us through sickness, financial strain, job issues, marriage issues,…the list is endless.  Today, I don’t want to focus on times of trouble.  I want to focus on the fact that He truly is always with us.  A favorite quote  says this:

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Think of it.  He doesn’t even leave us when we are in the midst of praise and worship time during Sunday service.  Or during our personal quiet time each day.  In fact, He is right with us.

I don’t want to live my life just “making do.”  I have a ways to go.  I’ve learned over the past 26 days that I am not as strong as I thought I was.  But I’ve also learned that I just simply need to rest in His open, loving arms.  That I need to be aware of His presence during worship and prayer as much as I seek His presence when times are tough.

I’m thankful for His “constant support.”

Until tomorrow…

Joy to You!


 

 

Perspective ~ A 31 Day Post (days 22 – 24)

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How do you measure what’s going on around you?  Some compare whatever it is to law or rules.  Some compare to experience.  Some compare to feelings.  That’s all well and good but how do you know that it’s really good, right, and true?

Ann Voskamp is one of my favorite authors.  I always enjoy the wisdom and encouragement that comes from her writing.  Several years ago, a sweet friend gave me her book One Thousand Gifts.  I enjoyed reading this book when I first received it and recently decided to read it again.  As with the first time through the book, I am amazed at Mrs. Voskamp’s perspective.  She has learned to count “gifts of grace,” she calls them.  She has created a challenge on her website A Holy Experience called the “Joy Dare.”  You can read about it, and maybe even accept it, HERE.

As I have been writing this 31 Days of Encouragement from the Lord, I have realized just how important perspective is.  I thought that I knew this.  I mean I am an adult – and I’m not exactly a spring chicken…I have been married for more than 20 years…I have 2 kids…I worked in the business world for 20+ years…I’ve been homeschooling my kids for 5 years now…Our family is in ministry and we’ve moved more than I ever dreamed I would in my lifetime.   I’ve also had my share of difficult circumstances.  With all of that, you would think that I would have it drilled into the core of my being that perspective matters.

You see, the reality is that I even though I have learned and grown a lot over the years, the more I learn about God, the more my perspective changes.  In One Thousand Gifts, Ann Voskamp says something has me reconsidering perspective.  She says:

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This must be a lesson that God wants me to learn right now.

Why do I say that?

Because I keep coming across verses, or hearing points in the sermon, that reinforce to me that I need to consider everything through God’s Word.  There are tons of other verses that remind us exactly how and what God’s Word does for us.  Here are a few:

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. ~ Psalm 119:105

It lights our path.

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. ~ Colossians 3:16

It teaches us.  It admonishes (advises) us.  It helps us to encourage others.

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. ~ 2 Timothy 3: 16-17

It equips us for every good work.

I don’t want a warped world.  I want one where I clearly see God in the little and big things.  I want to be aware of His presence in my life day by day…hour by hour…minute by minute.

I want to look at things in light of eternity.  Sometimes that means that I may have to make really hard decisions to step away from something.  Or maybe I choose to be a part of something.  Either decision would be based on eternal value.  Striving for the goal of spending eternity with my Heavenly Father.

Until tomorrow…

Joy to You!


 

 

 

 

No One Likes Discipline ~ A 31 Day Post (day 21)

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Discipline can seem like a nasty word, but the reality is that it really depends on the definition that you apply to the word.

I’m going to take a look at the word and a few of it’s definitions today.  (note: there are a total of 9 – if you are looking at discipline as a noun)  When most people think of discipline we go back to our childhood, thinking of times when we were put on restrictions or some other form of punishment by our parents.  That takes me to the first definition that I found on dictionary.com

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The Bible speaks to this.

Know then in your heart that, as a man disciplines his son, the Lord your God disciplines you. ~ Deuteronomy 8:5

Sometimes, like the good Father that He is, God must discipline us.  We misbehave in our spiritual lives just like we misbehave as earthly children.  And when we do, we must be disciplined.

The Bible says that discipline from the Lord is a good thing.

For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. ~ Hebrews 12:10

It says that we are blessed for receiving discipline from the Lord and that we should not detest it.

“Behold, blessed is the one whom God reproves; therefore despise not the discipline of the Almighty. ~ Job 5:17

Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? ~ Hebrews 12:9

The next definition speaks to a way of life.  Exercise, eating right, time spent in God’s Word.

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And of course, the Bible speaks to this too.  Paul speaks of the discipline he has and Titus tells us that we should practice discipline.

But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified. ~ 1 Corinthians 9:27

…but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. ~ Titus 1:8

And then there is the definition that gives me the most encouragement.
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My good friend calls it sanctification.  She’s right.  The “effect of experience” is what grows us and shapes us into exactly who God intends us to be.  He allows us to go through things so that we become more like Him in our Christian walk.   I’ll be honest and say that it’s the “adversity” word that I struggle with.  I often find myself whining and asking, “why must I go through this or that?”  OR “why do I need to learn this lesson?”
The answer is in Hebrews 12:11:

All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.

I’ve been told for a very long time to “choose joy.”  And Hebrews even speaks to this.  These times of discipline are not when we will be joyful.  We may even be sad.  But it sanctifies us!  It molds us into the person that God intended when He knit us together in our mother’s womb.  We have to trust that the road of discipline He takes us down is for the advancement of His kingdom.  I remember when my dad had cancer.  He was a wonderful man that loved the Lord and served Him in many ways through his local church and also the Gideon’s International ministry.  Dad was just a few years from retiring and no doubt would have wanted to do missions, serve more in the church, etc.  But God saw fit for Daddy to leave this earth.  I didn’t understand it.  At some point during his illness, Dad and I were discussing this and he said something I’ll never forget.  He said, “This may not be about me.”  He went on to remind me that God has a plan.  That He numbers our days.  That sometimes we are the only Jesus others see.  “What if, “he said, “even one person comes to know the Lord because of my attitude and actions during this illness?”
I’ve thought of that statement my Dad made many times over the years.  In our time of transition over the last year, I was asked how I could be at peace when I had no idea where we were going to live or where my husband would be working or what opportunities I would have in a new place to help with our homeschooling?
Time and time again, I had to realize that I was in this time of adversity, because it really was hard, for the glory of God.  I have no idea who was impacted by my actions and attitude during that time.  What I do know is that God is sowing the “fruit of righteousness” in me.  I have a long way to go.  But He is good and faithful.
Until tomorrow…
Joy to You!

This post is part of a Write 31 Day Challenge

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I’ve not shared my series landing page recently.

I’d be honored if you would check out a few more posts in this series