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!

 

Unabated Vigor ~ Not Your Typical Valentine’s Post

During my morning quiet time with the Lord, for a few months now, I’ve been camping out in the Old Testament.   First I was in Deuteronomy and now I am in Joshua.  These two books are full of the confirmation that we have a promise keeping God.  I love Deuteronomy 37 where Moses goes “from the plains of Moab to Mount Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, …opposite Jericho.” (Deut. 34:1) and the Lord shows him all the land that He had promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. 

In verse 4, the Lord tells Moses that he will not enter this promised land.  And in verse 5, Moses died.  I wish I could remember the first time I learned that Moses didn’t make it to the promised land.  I imagine that I probably felt disappointment for him.  I mean, he’s the one that led the people for all. those. years.  He’s the one that faced Pharaoh.   He’s the one that was chosen to write the 10 Commandments on tablets of stone.  To me, Moses is pretty special.  So I wonder, was he disappointed that he wouldn’t reap the benefit of his efforts?

Verse 7 actually gives a little clue to how Moses reacted to not making it to the promised land:

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Being the word nerd that I am, I wanted to be sure that I understood the meaning of “unabated.”   According to dictionary.com, it means:

with undiminished force, power, or vigor

That led me to being double sure I knew what “vigor” means.  Again, according to dictionary.com, vigor is:

active strength or force…healthy physical or mental energy or power; vitality…energetic activity; energy; intensity

So here I am, reading about Moses not reaping the benefits of his proverbial sowing.  AND THEN God’s Word tells us that Moses died with power, active strength, force, vitality, intensity.  He died knowing that he had received his inheritance.  And I personally think he was probably very satisfied.

This has me wondering if I would be?  My human, and sinful, nature desires a reward when I’ve worked hard.  I’m not one for fanfare but a subtle pat on the back goes along way with me.  I venture to say that there’s a little of that feeling in all of us.

Anyway, what does all this have to do with Valentine’s Day?  Hang with me – please – I promise I’m getting there.

As I have been studying Joshua, I have marveled (my word of the year) at the keeping of God’s promises.  He is ever faithful!  He was to His children as the crossed the Red Sea, the dessert, took Jericho, and more.  And He is faithful to us today.  Once we get to Joshua 22, the land that God promised to Abraham has been divided among the tribes – the promise fulfilled – and the people were settling in.  Challenges still arose and that’s not really that surprising considering all the grumbling in the desert.

One of the verses I underlined in chapter 22 is verse 5.  Joshua gives these instructions to the Israelite’s as they settle in:

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Joshua could’ve just said, “be like Moses.”  But he spelled it out.  He reminded them of the commandments.  He reminded them to walk…and keep…and cling…and serve….with ALL their heart and soul.  These qualities – to me are a beautiful explanation of the “unabated vigor” that Moses had.

I often cruise along in my Christian walk.  I wax and wane in my Bible reading and prayer time.  But this!  This is how I want to be.

So as Valentine’s Day comes to a close, I am just plain blessed.  God gave me the most wonderful man to be my husband.  We’re into our 23rd year of Valentine’s days (22 of those married).  And we have 2 beautiful children.  The stores are full of cards and flowers and balloons.  Facebook and Instagram are full of Valentine wishes and dates and gifts.  In our house, every day is full of love that is just plain special.  Some years we pull out all the stops for Valentine’s Day.  Some years we don’t.  This year, we chose to celebrate as a family.  And I’m really good with that.  But I began Valentine’s Day reading Joshua 22:5.  I began my day reminded of the love that I am to have for my Heavenly Father and the promises that He still keeps today for me.

So this isn’t a typical train of thought for Valentine’s Day but it’s what the Lord laid on my heart.

I hope that you had a wonderful day with your special someone. And I pray that every day you love the Lord with “unbated vigor.”

Joy to You!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

Would He MARVEL at me? (and my word for 2017)

It never ceases to amaze me when I find something in Scripture that I have never seen before.  At some point in my 40 something years, I have read the passage three, four, five + times, but this time…the words hit me differently.  I am just finishing up a study in Luke and that’s exactly what happened when I got to chapter 7.  The passage that got my attention is found in Luke 7:1-10.  It’s the story of Jesus healing a Centurion’s servant.

After he had finished all his sayings in the hearing of the people, he entered Capernaum. 2 Now a centurion had a servant who was sick and at the point of death, who was highly valued by him. When the centurion heard about Jesus, he sent to him elders of the Jews, asking him to come and heal his servant. And when they came to Jesus, they pleaded with him earnestly, saying, “He is worthy to have you do this for him, for he loves our nation, and he is the one who built us our synagogue.” And Jesus went with them. When he was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends, saying to him, “Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof. Therefore I did not presume to come to you. But say the word, and let my servant be healed. For I too am a man set under authority, with soldiers under me: and I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” When Jesus heard these things, he marveled at him, and turning to the crowd that followed him, said, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.” 10 And when those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the servant well.

I’m a bit of a word nerd so when I a particular word catches my attention, even if I think I know what it means, I look it up.

MARVEL ~ to be filled with wonder, admiration, or astonishment, as at something surprising or extraordinary

Which definition of MARVEL do you think best describes Jesus in this passage?  Was He astonished at the faith of this man?  Maybe He was filled with wonder at the simple faith shown by the Centurion!  It’s on my list of things to ask Him when I get to heaven. {smile}  Reading this made me wonder if Jesus is ever filled with wonder because of my actions, words, or attitudes?  Or maybe He is astonished…even saddened by my display of selfishness and lack of faith?

2016 is officially over.  It was a hard year.  I would not be truthful if I said that I am glad for the difficulty, however, in all honesty I can say that I know that God never left me.  He was with me and my family every step of the way.  In the midst of the hard stuff, I put a piece of paper on our refrigerator.  I explained to my family that we needed to fill this paper with things and people that we are thankful for.  thankful

I cannot tell you what this simple exercise did for our family.  Of course, if you have ever read One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp you are familiar with the concept of counting the gifts in life.  Sometimes those gifts are hard.  As I have been considering the past year, I kept thinking of the Centurion and Jesus.  I kept thinking of what it would be like to have Jesus MARVEL at me.  But I also began to realize that not only do I need to practice an attitude of thankfulness for ALL things, I need to MARVEL at the world around me.  We moved to KY in April and I have never seen such beautiful skies.  Almost every day, I have the opportunity to MARVEL at what the Lord is doing.

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So in 2017, I am going to work hard to find things that fill me with wonder…things that astonish me (in a good way)…things that I can truly admire.  I have a page in my planner dedicated to the word MARVEL.  As I find these things, I am going to make a list.  I’ll most likely add them to our 2017 Thankful board too.

I’d love to hear in the comments if you have a word for 2017.

Happy New Year! and Joy to You!!


 

 

He’s In Our Midst

My 31 Days of Encouragement from the Lord series is over.  And I’ve had a little break.  I’m ready to see what the Lord would have me share here in my little corner of the internet.  A few years back, I did what I affectionately called “Monday Meditations”.  These were lessons I learned during the sermon on Sunday, verses the Lord had brought me to during my quiet time, or simply things I had on my heart.  I’m giving them a go again.  I’d love to hear what the Lord has taught you on Sunday or the previous week.

Mon_meditations_revdI’ve been working my way through Psalms for some time now.  My process is to read the passage, list attributes of God that are mentioned, write down verses that stand out, and then I pray those verses back to the Lord.  One morning last week, I was in Psalm 74.  The Psalmist is asking the Lord to remember His people and then he describes destruction of God’s sanctuary.  He speaks of the people of God being treated badly.  He pleads for God to destroy the enemy that is reeking havoc on the temple.  Then in verse 12, he says:

Yet God my King is from of old, working salvation in the midst of the earth.

I had to read that one again.  I’m burdened by so much that goes on in our world today.  I don’t want to list events or details but the bottom line is that there is much to be concerned about.  And I certainly don’t want to go down the political road, but our nation needs prayer right now for the election tomorrow.  Psalm 74:12 gave me comfort.  A reminder that He is still on His throne…in control.  He calls us to Him.  We just have to answer.  He compels us to pray.  We just have to obey.

A few weeks ago, one of the high schools in our town held a “Fields of Faith” event.  It was sponsored by the school’s FCA group.  They held it on a Wednesday night and invited all churches to bring their youth there for service that night.  There were over 250 kids, and a handful of adults, on the field that night.  I listened to high school students lead worship and share their testimony about who God is in their life.  It was very encouraging.  I felt the presence of the Lord on the field that night.  I left there wondering what would happen if these kids really stood up for their faith.  What difference would it make in our city, county, state?

Later that day, I saw a video come across Facebook.  I love the song “10,000 Reasons” by Matt Redman.  This video is Matt and his band playing in Times Square.  I was brought to tears watching thousands of people worship the Lord.  I can only imagine that the presence of the Lord was felt right there, in the middle of Times Square.

As I’ve thought about both scenes for a few days, I’ve considered that I don’t give enough consideration to Him being in my midst all the time.  Not just in the walls of the church.  Not just at a concert.  Not just on a football field when teenagers are praising the Lord.  And not even in Times Square.  He’s with me all the time.  I want everything in my life to be based on being in the presence of the Lord.

How about you?  I’d love to hear how you have experienced the presence of the Lord in your life?

In the mean time…

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}

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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.

Psalm 91 ~ A 31 Day Post (days 17 -18)

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I missed posting yesterday and I’ve almost missed today.  Trying to get back on track.  Psalm 91 is what the Lord has laid on my heart to share.  It’s lengthy but oh so good!

I’m doing something a little different.  I am just going to write type out the passage below.   You will notice certain words or verses that are highlighted.  Those are the ones that have meant so much to me over the years as I have dealt with hard stuff.

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
    will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress,
    my God, in whom I trust.”

For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler
    and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his pinions,
    and under his wings you will find refuge;
    his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.
You will not fear the terror of the night,
    nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness,
    nor the destruction that wastes at noonday.

A thousand may fall at your side,
    ten thousand at your right hand,
    but it will not come near you.
You will only look with your eyes
    and see the recompense of the wicked.

Because you have made the Lord your dwelling place—
    the Most High, who is my refuge—
10 no evil shall be allowed to befall you,
    no plague come near your tent.

11 For he will command his angels concerning you
    to guard you in all your ways.
12 On their hands they will bear you up,
    lest you strike your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread on the lion and the adder;
    the young lion and the serpent you will trample underfoot.

14 “Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him;
    I will protect him, because he knows my name.
15 When he calls to me, I will answer him;
    I will be with him in trouble;
    I will rescue him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him
    and show him my salvation.”

 

When we found out that we were moving last October, a dear friend sent me this passage.  She encouraged me to read it again and again.  To let the words sink in.  She didn’t send it to me because bad things were being done or said about us.  She sent it because it’s  a beautiful list of what God does for us.  Here’s the thing, He doesn’t wait until times are tough to be all these things for us.  These are His character.  And His character doesn’t change.

In my Bible, the heading for this Psalm is “My Refuge and My Fortress.”  It fits.

Until tomorrow…

Joy to You!


 

All There ~ A 31 Day Post (day 16)

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When you share with folks that you are leaving everything and everyone that is familiar to follow God’s call to Seminary and ministry, you get all sorts of advice.  At least that was the case with us.   I’ll be honest over the past 11 years, I don’t have clear recollection of most of the wisdom that was shared with us.  Not word for word anyway.  I have the concept of it all and the advice has been put to good use over the years.

One piece of advice that I have never forgotten came from a retired pastor’s wife.  She said not to be surprised if God’s plan was for us to be in two, three, even four (or more) places during our time in ministry.  And then she gave me a quote that I have never forgotten.

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She told me to invest.  She told me to get to know the place and the people where we are.  She told me not to wish I was somewhere else. Her reasoning?  Because it’s hard to plug in, to be a part of a community when you are wishing you are somewhere else.  I have taken this quote up like a banner.  At least I try to.  Yes, I miss my hometown and yes, I miss being 15 minutes from our family.   But I also know that if the place, or just the circumstance, that I am in is God’s will then that is where my focus should be.

At some point, I looked up this quote by Jim Elliot.  I was looking for more information on what Jim Elliot was going through when he made the statement.  He was a missionary to Ecuador’s Quechua Indians.  Along with 3 others, Jim Elliot lost his life as he attempted to evangelize the Huaorani people in Ecuador.  In my short search, I didn’t find a lot of detail around the time and place of the quote but I did find that there was more to the quote.  Here is the rest of it:

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Wow!   So what does “to the hilt” mean?  According to Webster’s dictionary it means, “with nothing lacking. ”  I could write a lot about the will of God and maybe someday I will.  Right now, I am working hard on focusing on “being all there.”

Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.  ~ Psalm 37:3

This verse reminded me of Jim Elliot’s quote.  Especially in the situation of being in ministry.  Especially in the situation of moving from friends and family.  We are to trust the Lord.  We are to be in the land that the Lord has placed us in and there be faithful.

After living away from our immediate family for 10+ years, I still get homesick and I miss the friends, that became family, in the towns that we previously lived in.  But I am encouraged to live fully… “to the hilt”… “all there” in the place that I believe to be the will of God.

I have to remember that sometimes this isn’t just a place of residency.  It could be a situation concerning health concerns.  It could be the job that you find yourself in.  Or the school.   Whatever or wherever He has you, trust Him.

Until tomorrow…

Joy to You!