Categories
Reflections

10 Little Updates and Latest Looming Praise Reports

Good morning and Happy May! I wanted to come to you today with 10 little updates and latest looming praise reports. I know many of you have been praying for us as we’ve settled in a new situation, in a new house, in a new state. There have been glorious answers to your prayers regarding our move to Arizona and it is my privilege to share what God has done!

  1. We LOVE it here! We aren’t as content as we will be when we finally reach our eternal home, but while we’re on earth, Northern Arizona is awesome! We are so grateful for the kick in the pants God gave us. My faithful readers know that I waivered a bit, but God was clear with His direction and I am fully awed by His gracious faithfulness. (*See photos below.)
  2. We found a great church! That might not seem like a big deal to some, but it was priority for us. We did a lot of on-line research, and we only had to visit two. The first one was nice, but we quickly discovered some theological differences and decided not to return. The second one checked all the boxes and then some! We’ve been attending ever since. Praise the Lord!
  3. We have been unaffected by the fires. You might be aware of a couple of major wildfires burning in Northern Arizona. A few of you have even reached out to check on me. Wow – thank you! We have not been “in the line of fire” but have been daily reminded to pray for those who are. It seems the hard work of many firefighters is paying off and the danger is subsiding. There has been no loss of life reported, but several homes have been lost and I’m sure those affected would be blessed by your prayers.
  4. I have a “prayer chair”. I’ve always wanted one. Several years ago, I read a challenge by Anne Graham Lotz to create a dedicated space for devotional time with the Lord. Since then, I’ve had my “typical spots” but, because I lived with so many people, my spots had to serve several purposes. That was ok. But now, I have my own prayer chair in the corner, overlooking the pine and oak trees. (**See photos below.)
  5. God has been so faithful! I found a prayer list I’d written last fall in regard to, what was then, our upcoming move. It had 4 specific requests. All of them were answered above and beyond what I could have imagined. The most touching part is that this list had gotten misplaced shortly after I’d penned it. I hadn’t prayed over it daily, as I’d planned. But you know what? Our God is not dependent on us to be organized. He answered every item on that list, buried as it as, and I was blessed and blown away when the piece of paper resurfaced today.
  6. My son got a job! 4 of my kids stayed in California for the time being. My youngest, Marcus, is 18. He left a job he enjoyed to move to Arizona with us. We expected he would continue working for the same company here. They don’t do transfers, so he had to quit and reapply, but he had great experience and glowing recommendations from the managers in CA. They had open positions in AZ. He applied. He went in person to introduce himself and drop off his resume. Nothing. He called. He went in person again. It was shocking to us when he couldn’t even get an interview. After a month, we had to assume God just didn’t want him to work there anymore. So, he applied somewhere else. He got called in for an interview the next day and was hired on the spot! Well, to God be the glory! He made His will abundantly clear!
  7. I’m enjoying quality time with my youngest child. By the time Marcus was born, we had a loud and busy family. It is true that the squeaky wheel gets the oil and he is the quietest of my bunch. I’ve told him over the years that his time would come. Eventually, he’d be the only one left in the house and he’d probably get more attention than he wanted. Well, that time is now, and we’ve found something fun to do together. He has a YouTube channel and we’re making a series of reaction videos. I’ve not seen any of the Marvel movies, so Marcus and I are watching them together, one by one, and he is recording my reactions. Who knew people would take an interest or would consider my newbie questions and expressions as entertainment, but apparently that’s a thing. I’m just enjoying the time with my son.
  8. My girls are doing well. One of my biggest concerns, which I wrote about before I moved, was the wellbeing of my daughters and grandkids. They needed to find affordable places to live. I put it out there, you prayed, God miraculously delivered. They are teaming up, taking care of each other, and this mama’s heart is at peace. Thank you, Jesus! Thank you, prayer warriors!
  9. I’m settling into my new job with my old company. I had expected to quit before I moved but, at the last minute, was offered the opportunity to stay in a new role, working remotely from Arizona. The logistical transition has turned out to be more complex than any of us realized. I’m happy to report that I’m at least 75% settled in – maybe more, depending on the outcome of an open ticket with IT. God is faithful!
  10. I’m getting to explore the Arizona Trail! I am concluding my list of 10 little updates and latest looming praise reports with this detail because it was like a housewarming gift from God. We had no idea, when we applied to rent this home, that it was right across from the Arizona Trail. This relatively new trail runs the entire length of the state. North, it goes up to Utah. South, I can take it all the way to Mexico. I’m not likely to hike for days on end, but it is a wonderful escape which intersects countless other trails and offers hours of interesting exercise and conversation with Jesus. (***See photos below.)

I feel certain this update and praise report post would have been different if it weren’t for you all. You have prayed for me, encouraged me, and been an amazing support system. Today I find myself steadied, strengthened, and settled. Glory to God and gratitude to you! God bless you, my precious friends! Please enjoy some photos below.



Categories
Devotions

Celebrate Full Forgiveness, Rich Reconciliation, and Lessons for Life

On Friday a thief
On Sunday a King
Laid down in grief
But awoke with the keys
Of Hell on that day
The first born of the slain
The Man Jesus Christ
Laid death in his grave

Death in His Grave – Song by John Mark McMillan

Hello, my precious friends! I’m here to testify to God’s grace. I blew it and let my mouth get ahead of me. Again. But while God let me feel the painful pinch of my mistake, He also encouraged me through His Word with a timely, seasonal lesson.

Celebrate full forgiveness, rich reconciliation, and lessons for life

Are you familiar with Simon Peter? He was a disciple, who had left everything behind to follow and learn from Jesus. And he was impulsive – known for letting his mouth and muscle run ahead of his mind.

I found myself identifying with Peter because  I also lost control of my tongue. I shared details in a conversation which should have been left unsaid. I felt so convicted!

I couldn’t sleep. I tossed and turned all night, just wanting morning to come so I could ask forgiveness from the friend to whom I had misspoken.  While I lay awake, I felt for Simon Peter.    

At dawn, on the morning the world would forever celebrate as the first Easter, Peter was in a bad space, physically and emotionally.  He was with the other disciples of Jesus in self-quarantine, something we all know a little bit about these days.  They were sequestered because of fear and grief. 

They had seen their Lord arrested, beaten beyond recognition, and crucified with a taunting sign over his head that read “King of the Jews”.  Peter and the others had upheld that title and helped to propagate it.  Would the soldiers come for them next? 

It was even worse for Peter because, not only was he sad and afraid, but he was also ashamed.  He had disowned his Savior! Jesus had tried to warn him that he’d fail this way. But Peter had indignantly rejected the possibility. Instead, he raised the stakes and promised to die with Jesus if it came to that.

But it happened. Peter’s tongue leapt before his thoughts and he denied he was a friend of Jesus; not once, not twice, but three times!  Jesus heard the whole thing and had looked him straight in the eyes while the awful words still rung in the air. And then Jesus was led away to his death.

The story is in Luke 22:54-62. I imagine Peter lay awake those next few nights, wishing he could find forgiveness.  But how could he?

Lessons for Life

Have you ever done something awful that you never intended to do, or not done something that you really should have? Maybe you betrayed a close confidence or didn’t stand by someone when they needed you most?

If so, you know that a heavy heart is a burdensome thing. As I wrestled with mine, I felt for Peter. I was anxiously awaiting dawn so I could make things right.

Peter must have felt hopeless in his shame. Jesus was gone. He couldn’t have expected dawn to hold any hope of reconciliation for him.

A rowboat in the water near the shore. Celebrate!
Photo by TheOther Kev on Pexels.com

Oh but it did! Dawn brought news of the Resurrection! And that changed everything!

On that glorious Sunday when Jesus arose, there was so much for Peter to celebrate. His Lord was alive! And so were his chances for restoration.

When Peter’s opportunity came, he was in a boat offshore. He saw the Lord on the beach and jumped into the water. He couldn’t get to Jesus fast enough. He really needed to make things right.

What a succinct lesson for life! Jesus is alive! And so is our opportunity to receive forgiveness and reconciliation.

Rich Reconciliation

Jesus had no words of accusation. He simply asked Peter if he loved Him. Peter said he did. Jesus told him, “Feed my lambs”. Then He asked him again, and a third time. In each instance, Peter responded the same and Jesus repeated His command.

How precious is that turn of events? What a rich reconciliation! Jesus allowed Peter to settle his own heart with a reiteration of love, and a promise to serve, for each of the three times he had failed. You can read the account in John 21:7-17.

Full Forgiveness

Jesus not only granted Peter full forgiveness and took away his devastating remorse, but He also reinstated his purpose. It was Peter who founded the church. His forgiveness was so full, so complete, it was as if nothing had ever come between them.

Now, as we celebrate the miraculous implications of the Resurrection, I wonder if there are possibilities of restoration in your life? Are you needing forgiveness? Have you been carrying a heavy load of regret or shame?

Do you crave another chance to fulfill your purpose? Well, my dear friend, launch yourself out of that boat you’re in and hasten toward Jesus. He knows what’s in your heart and He is eager to unburden you.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

1 John 1:9

What better day than Easter to come to the Risen Lord, confess your sins, and reconcile with Him? Will you take the opportunity to profess your devotion, and allow Him to set you free toward your renewed purpose? The victory of Easter means new life and new beginnings! I’d love to celebrate yours with you today!

God of salvation,
You chased down my heart
Through all of my failure and pride.
On a hill You created,
The light of the world,
Abandoned in darkness to die.
And as You speak,
A hundred billion failures disappear;
Where You lost Your life so I could find it here.
If You left the grave behind You so will I.

So Will I (100 Billion X) – Song by Hillsong Worship

If you would like more information on what it means to reconcile with Jesus, please reach out to me in the Comments or via the Contact link at the top of the page. You can also read The Gospel in a Nutshell.

The word gospel means good news. We all need more of that. And oh, this Gospel, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, is the BEST NEWS!

And in case you’re wondering, I reached out to the person whose confidence I’d broken as early as was reasonable to do so. I repented and my burden was relieved by mercy and grace. My friend was a beautiful example of Jesus to me.

I learned a life lesson about second chances and our resurrected Savior. We find nothing less than full forgiveness and rich reconciliation when we ask it of Him. We have the opportunity because He arose. What a reason to celebrate!

Related Post: Might Have Missed the Miracle

Categories
Emotions

The Amazing News I’m Really Excited to Share – Part 7c

Wow! This has been an incredible week! To say moving has been hard work would be an understatement.

  • Physically, my husband and I have been loading, hauling, cleaning, repairing, and then collapsing on makeshift beds.
  • Emotionally, we’ve been saying goodbye to our friends, siblings, parents, kids, and grandkids.
  • Spiritually, we’ve been disciplining ourselves to keep our eyes on Jesus, even when many things don’t make sense.

I will be honest- there comes a point in each day where I run out of desire and ability to keep doing the work. I quit. I shut down.

But I have the most amazing news and I’m really excited to share it with you! This is the third verse God gave me when I prayed for encouragement. (You can find the first two here and here.)

God finishes His projects!

The Amazing News I’m Really Excited to Share is that God keeps His word, fulfills His promises and finishes His projects.

I am a work in progress. The hard things He has me doing are part of His master plan. He is working it out in me. I may have to take breaks or want to give up and quit, but He never does!

God will complete everything He starts in me, in my loved ones, and in you! Does your assignment seem too hard? Is the renovation on your body, mind, or spirit requiring more than you have to give? Do not despair. God will see the project through successfully!

God has a perfect project-completion record!

How encouraging it is to know that God will not leave us half-baked. He will not abandon a project mid way. He, who started a work, will be faithful to complete it for, with, through, around, and in you!

Categories
Reflections

The Wall in Front of Me

“If these walls could talk, I wonder what secrets they’d tell.”

Gayle Forman

Do you ever find yourself starring at the wall? I’ve been staring at the one in front of me for several minutes. I’m sure it could say many things if it could speak, but right now, I’m relying on its quiet strength.

The wall in front of me has witnessed many conversations marked by an array of emotions. The myriad of words do not echo in the wall like they do in my head. The sound has been absorbed and silenced

The wall in front of me stands straight and tall, unaffected by the frenetic energy on either side. It divides the chaos and is still. It steadies me.

A textured beige wall with nail holes and a screw.
This is my view

The wall in front of me is pierced. I’ve removed the art that has adorned it for the last few years and all that remains are a few protruding screws and some nail holes. Somehow, it is still stately.

As constructs of the mind, walls get a bad rap. They are said to represent confinement and stand in the way of progress. Yet, I find solace in mine.

“We build too many walls and not enough bridges.”

Isaac Newton

“There are no constraints on the human mind, no walls around the human spirit, no barriers to our progress except those we ourselves erect.”

Ronald Reagan

And today, when my brain has passed the point of overload, this wall in front of me is reassuring. It lets me stare and gather myself. It shares its quiet dignity.

I find Jesus at the wall in front of me

As I have only the wherewithal to sit and stare at the wall, I find Jesus here. His Holy Spirit shows me how the wall in front of me is like my Savior. He does for me daily what the wall is doing for me now.

He hears the emotion in my words, erases my confusion, and gives me solace.

“For God is not a God of disorder but of peace”

1 Corinthians 14:33a

He stands unmovable amidst the chaos.

“Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe”

Hebrews 12:28

He has been tortured and wounded but has never lost His glory.

“But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.”

Isaiah 53:5

“A man can no more diminish God’s glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word, ‘darkness’ on the walls of his cell.”

C.S. Lewis

His reputation has been marred and yet my soul loves Him.

“For many will come in my name, claiming, “I am the Messiah,” and will deceive many. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.”

Matthew 24:5, 2 Timothy 3:14, 15

When actions end and words fail, when I have nothing left but an empty stare, Jesus invites me to lift my eyes and see Him. He stands sure and strong and beckons me to rest.

I’ve been staring at the wall in front of me for several minutes now. In the stillness, I’ve felt my Savior with me. I’ve recognized His peaceful presence and been inspired. He has equipped my soul. He’s reminded me of my purpose and realigned my focus.

How about you? Do you need to spend some time staring at the wall with Jesus? What do you notice about the wall in front of you that reminds you of His greatness?

“In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.”

Ephesians 2:21-22

Categories
Reflections

Down, Devoted, and Delivered from Disillusion

Have you ever become disillusioned with someone? Or have you been rejected by a friend who discovered something about your personality they didn’t expect? I recently learned something incredible because of being down, devoted and delivered from disillusion. The story is raw and real, but if it encourages any of you, it is worth sharing.

Down from Disillusion

My friend was someone I admired from afar, even before we were aquatinted. She was thoughtful, fun, and full of laughter. She seemed to effortlessly display many characteristics to which I aspire.

We slowly got to know one another well. She had some real struggles and so did I. We shared them openly, and from where I stood, it seemed like a genuine friendship was forged. We laughed and cried together and encouraged each other through life over several years.

But one day, I got frustrated with her. It came out in one short sentence. It wasn’t the words I chose, so much as the tone of voice I used. As soon as the exasperation left my lips, I felt the consequences. I wished I could reel it back in and have a do over. But words don’t work that way.

A park bench at sunset: Down, Devoted, and Delivered from Disillusion
Photo by Robin McPherson on Pexels.com
Down from Disillusion

“Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.”

Ephesians 4:15

I spoke truth. I loved her. But I didn’t speak truth in love the way the Bible describes it. I spoke out of selfishness. I was wrong.

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”

Philippians 2:3, 4

I apologized. She said she forgave me. But you know what? We are no longer friends. I’ve reached out. I’ve tried, no luck. She is disillusioned with me.

She saw something in me that she couldn’t abide. I know God is dealing with my temper as He sanctifies me. I was down and disappointed that a tense moment was a deal breaker in this friendship. It made me really sad.

Devoted from Disillusion

As emotional events tend to do, it got me thinking. I really appreciate the people who have seen my many downfalls and chosen to love me regardless. My gem of a husband has no illusions about me. He has seen me at my worst and leaned in. My experience with disillusion made me feel more devoted than ever to my faithful friends.

And God. There is no hiding any of my issues from God. He knows about even the mistakes I have yet to make. And He loves me.

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

Romans 5:8

Delivered from Disillusion

Then I had a realization. God knows, better than anyone, exactly how I feel. This happens to Him all the time. And because of what He has endured, I can be delivered from disillusion.

People befriend God because of who they think He is. He is good. He’s a provider, a protector. He knows everything, holds everything, and promises to keep nothing we need from us. He loves unconditionally and sacrificially. It is easy to embrace someone like that.

But when we get to know Him, we find that He is also just. He does not tolerate sin. He disciplines us. We learn that He is not as interested in our happiness as our holiness. When we pursue earthly pleasures, He lets us suffer the consequences. Scripture says He gives people over to their evil desires. He allows them to choose Hell.

And often, when God turns out to be different than expected, we grow disillusioned with Him. We reject the parts of His character we don’t like.

If I am unwilling to accept God for Who He really is,
have I really accepted Him?
And if I refuse to conform to what He actually says,
do I actually follow Him?
Have I lined up under a pseudo god of my creation
or the genuine God of all Creation?

When I learn something about God that I don’t like, I might want to pull away. But He isn’t the problem. I am. Distancing myself from Him will not fix me. Drawing near to Him will. When I become uncomfortable in the presence of God, I need to pay attention.

God completely reveals Himself to me in the totality of Scripture. But there are parts that are hard to read. Some of it confronts and even offends me. Are those portions any less God’s Word? Can I disregard those passages because they don’t seem consistent with what I want to believe about God?

Have you had friendships fizzle just as they’ve gotten real? Has disillusion, opinion, or imperfection led to the termination of a relationship in your life? Human to human, haven’t we all been there?

Human to God is different. Even as we turn away, He draws us in. He deserves our deference and we do not give it. We do not deserve His unconditional love, and yet He offers it. He sees when disillusion has us down and gives us the opportunity to be devoted and delivered instead.

There is no better friend than God. He knows our flaws but does not recoil or retreat. He does not become disillusioned. Instead, He helps us grow and change. He transforms us into His glorious image and gives us His Spirit of freedom.

A bench by the trail at sunrise: Down, Devoted, and Delivered from Disillusion
Photo by Gagandeep on Pexels.com
Delivered from Disillusion

“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”

2 Corinthians 3:17, 18
Categories
Devotions

Forgiven and Free – Fooled by Feelings or In the Know?

The following quote made me stop and think. Do I bank my future on what I feel or what I know? How about you? Are you fooled by what you feel? Do you need to know whether you’re forgiven and free?

David Hocking quote about feeling forgiven: Forgiven and free - fooled by feelings or in the know?
Feelings can fool us. We need to know we’re forgiven!

To be sure, we need to go to the Source. The Bible helps us know whether we’re forgiven and how to fix it if we’re not. Feelings change but the Word of the Lord abides forever.

“For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”

Matthew 6:14, 15

“And so I tell you, every kind of sin and slander can be forgiven, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven.”

Matthew 12:31

“Peter replied, ‘Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

Acts 2:38

“All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”

Acts 10:43

“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace”

Ephesians 1:7

“For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”

Colossians 1:13. 14

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

1 John 1:9