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:

upside-down-hearts

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!


 

 

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

punishment

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.
adversity
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

 

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!