Refined

Think back to when you gave your heart and life to Christ.  Did you think that it would be easy?  I was 7.  I hadn’t really known struggle or hardship.  At least not what REAL struggle and hardship is.  I sort of floated through life and honestly, I didn’t even understand what it meant to truly live the Christian life.
Fast forward to college and it was more of the same.  School was hard; I have to really study to make good grades.  I was away from home for the first time and I knew no one at my college when I first got there.  I had my heart broken for the first time, both of my grandmothers passed away my Senior year, and time management was hard.  I thought, in my early 20s brain, that these things must be what people meant when they said that life would be difficult sometimes.  After college, the level of difficulty in life waxed and waned.  There was job loss, my father’s cancer and death, more job loss, financial pressures….
You get the idea!  It really never seems to end.  I have a precious friend who says the difficulties in life are just sanctification and refining.  Since I’m 40+ years into my walk with Christ, I know that she is right.
And the fact that scripture tells us that He refines us also confirms it.  In Jeremiah 9: 7, the Lord says:

“Behold, I will refine them and test them, …”

And in Zechariah 13:9 we find these words from the Lord:

And I will put this third into the fire, and refine them as one refines silver, and test them as gold is tested. They will call upon my name, and I will answer them. I will say, ‘They are my people’; and they will say, ‘The LORD is my God.'”

Here’s the good news.  The result of this “refining” is shared with us in Malachi 3:3 where it is said that those who are refined “will bring offerings in righteousness to the LORD.”  I love that.  He refines me and out of it comes righteousness in my life that I can offer back to him.

I have no idea the amount of refinement that needs to be done in my life.  But I trust that the Lord knows exactly what I need.  I am being pleasantly surprised that in the testing, in the refining, I find myself a little stronger…a little more brave.  I know that it is His steadfast love holding me up…giving me courage.  Such a blessing!

Sometimes it’s the little refinements that make the most impact.  That might seem crazy but it has proven to be true in my life.  As mentioned in my last post, life in our house is changing.  This changing is proving to be a refining process for me.  I pray that I can offer praise to the Lord for the difficulties as well as the victories as we go.

Until next time.

Joy to You!

ALSO:  As I am tweaking the look and feel of my site, some things are a little odd.  Please bear with me as I am editing and adjusting in preparation to change the look of my blog in the near future.  Thank you in advance.

The Words of My Mouth

When my son was just a little guy, he spouted out a curse word in the middle of Walmart! I was mortified.  I quickly looked around to be sure that no one I knew heard my sweet boy’s words.  15+ years later, I still am not sure how he knew the words most less how to use them in context.

As soon as we got home, I made him eat butter….(which may seem strange but he literally gagged at the taste of butter back then).  After a spoonful of butter and a good explanation from me as to why we don’t use words like that, I went to the Bible looking for a verse that he – and I – could memorize to remind us that our speech should honor the Lord.

This verse has been one that I have never forgotten.  Since he was around 3 at the time, I simplified it for him but I can assure you that over the years, I have reminded him of our learning the meaning of this verse.

Recently I have been reminded of the importance of this verse.  I try not to be careless with my words but sometimes, well…it just happens.  God’s Word tells us that our words are to encourage and lift others up.  The old saying about stick and stones – I just don’t believe it.   But did you know that it’s been around for a very long time? Since 1862!! That’s 155 years of taunting on the playground.  I’m blown away.  Here is the other thing that got me.  It is reported that it first appeared in The Christian Recorder which was a publication of the African Methodist Episcopal Church.  Here’s what Wikipedia (I know, please don’t judge me) says about the phrase, “The rhyme persuades the child victim of name-calling to ignore the taunt, to refrain from physical retaliation, and to remain calm and good-natured.”  But it’s just not true. Words hurt!

I just have to say it again…..words HURT!!

Psalm 64 is a plea for protection from an enemy, from the wicked.  But verse 3 speaks the truth of what is on my heart here.  It says “…bitter words like arrows,”.    And when they pierce us like an arrow and forgiveness is sought and given, there are times that those hurtful words are like a branding on our brains and on our hearts.  I have four words that haunt me.  For over twenty years now, these four words have effected me.  And not in a good way.  Because someone who, at one time was very important to me, said something hurtful I struggle with self-esteem. It’s a hard truth for me to type out loud.

I love what Proverbs says about our words.

Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.

~ Proverbs 16:24 ~

Isn’t this what we should strive for?  Giving “sweetness to the soul” of those we love? Of course, there are times that truth, that is hard, must be spoken.  But God’s Word addresses that too!  In Ephesians chapter 4 when Paul is preaching to the church at Ephesus, he shares that “speaking the truth in love” helps us grow towards Christ.

I’m on a journey in this life.  I am not perfect but I praise the Lord for laying things on my heart that I need to give attention to.  The words of my mouth are something I need to pay more attention to.  I need to let my “yes be yes” and my “no be no”.  I need to use my words to give “sweetness to the soul” of others.  And if there are hard things that need to be said, I need to say them “truthfully in love”.

Until next time……

Joy to You!

 

 


NOW ~ A FMF Post

It’s ironic that the Five Minute Friday word of the week is “NOW.”   The irony is that it’s Saturday and I am just writing.  The link-up stays open for a few days and well, I felt like what I have on my heart is worth posting past Friday.

For anyone not familiar with the purpose of Five Minute Friday, Kate Motaung hosts this link-up where many women come together and write about one word – for 5 minutes.   As mentioned, this week’s word is NOW.

Here goes:

In the last 4 months our family has two friends to pass away in their sleep.  Both have left my heart broken.  Not just for the loss of this friend in our lives but for their families who unexpectedly went to their heavenly home….without warning.

Both had a personal relationship with the Lord.  Praise God for that!  I know where they are.  I even kind of envy them.  I mean, can you imagine, Christmas in heaven?  Worshipping at the feet of Jesus for eternity!!! What an eternity it will be.

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Oddly enough, over the past several weeks, our church has been going through Francis Chan’s book Crazy Love.    In one of the chapters, Chan tells of how we never know when God will call us home.  He tells of a man who gave a eulogy at a friend’s funeral and died immediately after he sat down from speaking.  He was at a funeral when he died.  In the eulogy, he told the attenders of the funeral that they need to be ready for the Lord to take them home.  He told them of the importance of accepting Christ.  Then he died.

Last week, we attended the funeral of our second friend who passed away.  The pastor at the funeral clearly presented the gospel.  He shared with the friends and family of our friend that he (our friend) would want every one of them in heaven some day.

(STOP) …. (But, of course, I’m not quite done!)

The time is NOW.  We can not afford to delay sharing with those we love about Jesus.  I’m guilty!  I’m not very vocal about my faith.  I mean I live it out…or at least I try to.  My goal is for others to see Christ in my.  But I’m not perfect! I still mess up.  That’s called sin.  The cool thing is that Jesus continues to offer me grace and mercy.  Daily.  Sometimes minute by minute.

I have no idea how many days the Lord will allow me to walk on this earth but what I do know is that He has me here for a purpose.  And part of that purpose is to share His love with others.  To share the gospel and to walk alongside of new believers.

I pray that I don’t let the opportunity I have NOW slip away.

Joy to You!


This post is linked up with Kate Motaung.  Please hop over and read what others are saying about the word “NOW.”

More Than We Ask Or Imagine

Life has been full of ups and downs for our family over the past 5 months.  My husband is in full time ministry.  And ministry comes with challenges.  One of my dearest friends often says that,

Ministry is never easy or convenient!!

She is right.  The hardest part about full time ministry is that sometimes the Lord’s plans take you to a new ministry.  That is where we are right now.  We have been where we are for 5 years.  We have loved and been loved by a congregation of precious people.  We have had the honor and privilege of being in a strong homeschool community.  We’ve done ministry in our small town and grown to love the people here.

Within the next few weeks, we will move on.  I’ll write more about the details of our new place soon but today, I am overwhelmed at what God has done in our family in the past few months.  We have seen answers to big prayers and small prayers.  I wasn’t surprised by answered prayer.  Just reminded that He hears us and that He does answer.

I’ve been doing a Bible study on prayer and a few weeks back the focus verses were Ephesians 3:20-21.

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I was immediately humbled.  For months I had been asking God for the obvious.  These verses reminded me that He will do more than just the obvious.  He will answer the things I pray for, in His will, and even the things I didn’t know to pray for.  He will answer my needs and sometimes, He may just give me the desire of my heart.  I know all of this…I just really needed the reminder on that particular day.

The last part of these verses stuck out to me.  Three words almost jumped off the page:

“…throughout all generations,…”

This is about my kids.  And my grandchildren.  And my great-grandchildren.  And many more after that.

God wants to show up and show out in our lives so that what He does impacts the lives for generations to come.  That is an incredible thought to me.

Today is Good Friday.  I have no idea what the cry of your heart has been to the Lord.  What I do know is that He desires to give you more than you can imagine.  Think about the disciples.  Even though Jesus had been telling them exactly what was going to happen to Him, I’m not sure they really understood.  And then, they met Him after His resurrection.  Can you imagine what they felt?

I am praying the lives are changed this Easter season. That hearts are turned to the Lord and that those touched will experience more than they ever “asked or imagined” through their life in Christ.  I expect Him to continue to show my family His plan and purpose for us.

What about you?  What do you ask or imagine from the Lord?

Look to the cross and know that He went there for you.  For me.

Joy to You!

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Refreshment?

 

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Beginning in 1929 and continuing on through at least 2013, Coca – Cola has used the theme of “refreshment” in their slogan.  I’ve shown a few above. Personally, I am a Coke girl.  I can actually tell the difference between Pepsi and Coke.  You can’t fool me.  And I will admit that when it’s ice cold and really fizzy, I am refreshed.

So what does “refreshment” mean?  Webster’s 1828 dictionary says:

Act of refreshing; or new strength or vigor received after fatigue; relief after suffering; applied to the body.

Obviously drinking Coke, or any other drink, would fall into the “act of refreshing.”  So, why am I writing about this?

Our family has been facing some challenges over the past few months that, honestly, have worn me down.  I’ve tried to be brave and strong.  I have prayed and cried.  And I have cried and prayed.  I have talked to my closest friends and my dear extended family members.  (And those conversations are “refreshing” to my soul).  Through it all, I have said over and over again,

I trust the Lord!

Or on the days that trusting was hard, I said,

I HAVE to trust Him!

Recently as I was writing my thoughts and prayers in my journal, I was prompted to go to a familiar passage in Proverbs.  I can paraphrase it but I felt like I was supposed to really read it.   It goes like this:

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I have read chapter 3 of Proverbs many times.  I have listened to sermons focusing on verses 5 -6, which are probably the best known verses in the chapter.  But I read further and discovered verse 8.

God’s Word is so cool.  It tells us what to do and then, without fail…when we keep reading, it tells us the result.  The result of trusting in the Lord is healing and refreshment.  Not cold drink refreshing but down in your bones refreshing.

Isn’t that wonderful?

Just think, the Lord wants to refresh us.  Our trusting in Him and not in ourselves, will bring healing to our broken and hurting hearts.  You see:

We may not know what tomorrow holds

We may be saying a final good-bye to a loved one that we aren’t ready to let go

We may not understand decisions that our kids or our spouse make

We may feel like our families are falling apart

We may be caring for aging parents

We may have lost a close connection with friends that we once had

…but we can still TRUST in Him.

How do we trust Him?  We have to get to know Him first.  It only makes sense.  We would, most likely, not immediately trust someone that we’ve just met.  We want to get to know them first.  Our trust in the Lord is an outward expression of our faith and yet, we need to know Him to trust Him.

I discovered a beautiful scripture the other day when looking up reference verses for a Bible study that I am working through.  I was so excited about the verse that I just had to add it to my journaling Bible:

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Hosea shares a promise for refreshment.  When we “press on” to KNOW the Lord, the result is Him “coming to us as the showers of a Spring rain that waters the earth.”  If that’s not refreshment, I don’t know what is!!

That is what I want.  It’s what I need.  Refreshment like rain from the Lord.

And so, I continue on the journey that God has me, and my family, on.  We are pressing on to know Him and we are looking forward to the refreshment (down to our bones) that His Word promises.

I hope that you also have that kind of refreshment every time you meet with Him.  His Word is a great place to find it.  That’s my prayer for you.  And for me!

Until next time…Joy to You!

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Through It All – It Is Well

Earlier this week, I attended the funeral of a precious lady in our church.  For 42 years, she was a faithful member of our church serving where she was needed; playing the piano for most of those years.  Kind, and very appropriate, words were spoken.  Scripture was read and songs were sung.

It is well by Bethel Music was one of the songs that was sang.  It was appropriate.  This sweet lady kept her eyes on the Lord.  Even in the hard times.

Life is hard.  We go through all sorts of things that can cause our faith to weaken.  For me, I try really hard to give it all over to Him.  But, like many, I find myself taking it back.  Sometimes, I take the whole burden back.  And sometimes I take just a nugget of it.  Do I not trust Him with it?  I mean, after all He is the creator of all things.  He’s the one that set the earth in motion.  He’s the one that knit me together in my mother’s womb.  Who am I to think that He can’t handle the circumstances in life that weigh me down?

I can’t get this song out of my head.  I keep thinking of the trials that I have come through asking myself if I really relied on Him the way I needed to.  I hope that I did, but in reality I know that I often wavered.  I took my eyes off of Him and when I did things like fear, anger, and doubt consumed me.

I want to keep my eyes on Him.  I want to be known as someone who has – and shows – the joy of the Lord.  I want to be able to say that “through it all, it is well.”

I’d love for you to take a few moments and listen to this beautiful song.  Let it sink in. Take time to consider your response to whatever life is throwing your way.

My prayer is that you can say, “Through it all, it is well.”

Joy to You!

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Still I Will Say – A Monday Meditation

Mon_meditations_revdI am often keenly aware of the fact that this life is full of trials…sorrow…disappointments.  I listen to the prayer requests at church where people I care about tell of aging parents, friends and loved ones that have been diagnosed with cancer – or some other disease.  Folks share of relationship strains, difficulties in their jobs, financial difficulty, and how they feel distant from God.

As I read God’s Word, I am reminded that none of this is really new.  The Old Testament – as well as the New Testament – had it’s share of all of the above.  And more.  So I have to ask, why am I surprised when trials come? Why do I think that my family, or friends, should be immune to them?

Last night at church, our music minister lead us through a beautiful song that really sums all of this up.

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This song has special meaning.  It reminds me of friends who lost their precious baby when he was almost full term.  Her due date was very close and he went to be with his Heavenly Father.  Their strength, their testimony lived out during the days following his passing was simply amazing.  The mom, my sweet friend, reminded countless people that even though she had lost her child, she was blessed.  I stood in amazement of her.  I still do.  To this day, I get tears in my eyes when I hear this song.  Hearing it humbles me.  It reminds me that in ALL, I am to be thankful.  In ALL, I am to praise Him.

I have no idea what you may be facing but I do know that He is with us “in the desert place”…He is with us “in the land that is plentiful”…He is with us when “the sun’s shining down” and “on the road marked with suffering.”

And so….Still I will say, “Blessed be the name of the Lord!”

Joy to You!

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