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.

community

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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

Time Has Flown By

Here it is the middle of February and I’ve only written one post in 2017.  So much for my goal to blog more!

On second thought, maybe I need to move the goal a little further down the list.  I’ve always been one to write when I feel the Lord has something I really need to share and not to write just to be writing.  That’s a better goal, right?

Today I felt like I needed to get a few thoughts down.  So here goes…

January was full!  My one post in the new year was to declare my “word of the year.”


I’ve thought a lot about this word and yes, I’ve “marveled” at many things thus far.

We began 2017 on a family vacation joining my side of the family in Florida for a week.  We hit the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, and both sides of Universal while we were there.  It’s not the first time to Disney parks for me, however, it was the first time to Universal.  Anyway, there really is a lot to “marvel” at in an amusement park.  Here are a few that caught my attention:

  • The people – both employees and visitors.  Disney really does it well.  They know how to handle crowds and  their staff are courteous and helpful.  And those playing a character…well, it’s just really fascinating to me.
  • The rides – I don’t think explanation is necessary; however, I will say that although I don’t understand the technology and mechanics of it all, it’s absolutely amazes me!
  • The lights – there is something about Cinderella’s Castle covered in lights.  Not to mention all the other lights all over the parks.  It really is a wonderland.
  • The landscaping – I just had to mention this one because, well, I just love the Mickey head made of flowers or the bushes trimmed into the shaped of our favorite characters.

We were treated to a character breakfast.  That was a new experience for me!  Both of my children and my sister had birthdays that week so birthday cupcakes came with breakfast.

character-breakfastAs mentioned, the first two weeks of the month also came with birthday celebrations.  Our daughter turned 13 and our son turned 18 within the first 10 days of January. Those two days, more than many other things, cause me to “marvel.”  I am so proud of my kids.

Shortly after our FL trip, we took our church youth group to Gatlinburg, TN to a youth conference called Winter Crossroads. The conference is put on by Clayton King Ministries.  It was a wonderful time of worship and teaching.  I saw the Lord working in the lives of the kids, and adults, in our group.  What a MARVELous blessing.  Lives were changed.  To God be the glory!  A side note is that I ran into a long time friend, who lives in another state and was at the conference with her church.  What a sweet reunion!

While in Gatlinburg, we took the opportunity to drive through the areas that had been devastated by the fires in late 2016.  I promise we weren’t just out to gawk at the severe devastation and loss that those who live and work there had experienced.  We actually prayed for the people as we drove.  It’s was something I will not soon forget.  If you think of it, please continue to pray for them.  Some will be able to rebuild.  Some have lost pretty much everything.  All of them need prayers as they move forward with their lives.

As if we hadn’t traveled enough, my hubby and I had the opportunity to go to a retreat for pastors and their wives at the end of January.  It was a time of refreshment and encouragement in ministry.  Such a blesssing to be with so many other pastors and wives from across the state!

I have been reminded at just how good the Lord is to us.  I have, for sometime now, had a desire to try my hand at becoming a Virtual Assistant.  Yep, it’s really a thing!  Anyway, I have been blessed with the opportunity to work for two wonderful ladies for a few months now.  I’m learning so much and enjoying it too!  At some point I may go into more detail but for now, the opportunity to assist these ladies with their businesses AND be at home to continue on our homeschool journey…well, I just MARVEL at the Lord’s care for me.

But that’s the thing about God.  He does care for us.  I am so thankful for the truth of Scripture that I see working in my life and the lives of those I care about.  As I continue on this year, I’m looking for things to MARVEL at.

How about you?  I’d love to know what the is doing to catch your attention.

Until next time!

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!!


 

 

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.

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:

the-world-warps

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!