12.27.2017

Live so as to be MISSED.

I finally turned the last page of this extraordinary man's biography. When I picked up the book, written by his closest friend, Andrew Bonar, I had no idea who Robert Murray M'Cheyne was, but now he is on my "favorites" list of amazing men of God.
What a life!
What a legacy!

Were I to write out all of the quotes and excerpts from his journal that deeply affected me, I would almost rewrite the entire biography. I will, however, share as many of his words as possible with the hope of encouraging someone else through the intimate passion for Christ this man possessed. And even better, induce others to read about him on their own. Once you know him, you will not forget him.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

■ Live so as to be missed. - I LOVE this!

■ After spending an evening too lightly, he writes, "My heart must break off from all these things. What right have I to steal and abuse my Master's time? 'Redeem it.' He is crying to me."

■ Clear conviction of sin is the only true origin of dependence on another's righteousness, and therefore (strange to say!) of the Christian's peace of mind and cheerfulness.

■ It has always been my aim, and it is my prayer, to have no plans with regard to myself, well assured as I am, that the place where the Saviour sees meet to place me must ever be the best place for me.

■ "Paul asked," says he, "'What wilt Thou have me to do?' and it was answered, 'I will show him what great things he must suffer for my name's sake.' Thus it may be with me. I have been too anxious to do great things. The lust of praise has ever been my besetting sin; and what more befitting school could be found for me than that of suffering alone, away from the eye and ear of man?"

■ Since Tuesday have been laid up with illness. Set by once more for a season to feel my unprofitableness and cure my pride. When shall this self-choosing temper be healed? "Lord, I will preach, run, visit, wrestle," said I. "No, thou shalt lie in thy bed and suffer," said the Lord.
Today missed some fine opportunities to of speaking a word for Christ. The Lord saw I would have spoken as much for my own honor as His, and therefore shut my mouth. I see a man cannot be a faithful minister until he preaches Christ for Christ's sake - until he gives up striving to attract people to himself, and seeks only to attract them to Christ."

To maintain a conscience void of offense, I am persuaded that I ought to confess my sins more. I think I ought to confess sin the moment I see it to be sin; whether I am in company, or in study, or even preaching, the ought to cast a glance of abhorrence at the sin. If I go on with the duty, leaving the sin unconfessed, I go on with a burdened conscience and add sin to sin.

■ I ought to study Christ as an Intercessor. He prayed most for Peter, who was to be most tempted. I am on his breastplate. If I could hear Christ praying for me in the next room, I would not fear a million enemies. Yet the distance makes no difference. He is praying for me.

■ I am persuaded that I ought never to do anything without prayer, and, if possible, special, secret prayer.

■ I am persuaded that nothing is thriving in my soul unless it is growing. "Grown in grace." "Lord, increase our faith." "Forgetting the things that are behind." ... I am persuaded that I ought to be inquiring at God and man what grace I want, and how I may become more like Christ ... I ought to strive for more purity, humility, meekness, patience under suffering, love. "Make me Christ-like in all things," should be my constant prayer. "Fill me with the Holy Spirit."

Thank You, Lord, for the life and legacy of this man who loved You well - every day if his life.

12.18.2017

God's Word is beautiful - and forever!


Every week Dennis brings me "Monday Flowers," and my favorite place to put them is next to my Bible because the visual reminds me of one of my favorite verses: The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever. Isaiah 40:8

While I was enjoying these beautiful pieces of creation this afternoon, they recalled to mind a fabulous quote by John Newton about the beauty of Scripture.

May his words encourage you to search the Scriptures deeper and more often!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"From childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness - that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work!" 2 Timothy 3:15-17

Set a high value upon the Word of God. All that is necessary to make you wise to salvation is there - and there alone.

In this precious Book, you may find . . .
a direction for every doubt,
a solution of every difficulty, and
a promise suited to every circumstance you can be in.
There you may be informed of your disease caused by sin - and the remedy provided by grace.

In the Scriptures, you may be instructed to know . . .
yourselves,
Jesus Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge,
the wonders of redeeming love,
the glories of the Redeemer's person,
the happiness of the redeemed people,
the power of faith, and
the beauty of holiness.
All are here fully and clearly represented.

Nothing is lacking in the Scriptures to make . . .
life useful and comfortable,
death safe and desirable, and
to bring down something of Heaven upon earth.

But this true wisdom can be found nowhere else. If you wander from the Scriptures, in pursuit either of present peace, or future hope - then your search will surely end in disappointment.

This is the fountain of living waters! If you forsake it, and give the preference to broken cisterns of your own devising - then they will fail you when you most need them.

Rejoice, therefore, that such a treasure is put into your hand - but rejoice with trembling.
Remember this is not all you need - unless God likewise gives you a heart to use the Scriptures aright - then your privilege will only aggravate your guilt and misery.

~ John Newton

12.11.2017

Monday Morning Encouragement!

After waking up with all of the aches and pains of a severe head cold after spending a wonderful night laughing with my older boys and friends at a comedy concert, I needed to read this!
The cold has taken out four Eastmans, so there are only four to go should the Lord not spare the rest.
My plan was not to begin the week with illness, but the Lord can redeem the hours and use them for good!
It seems He keeps providing opportunities for me to choose between joy and despair, and this writing by Susanna Spurgeon was just what I needed to push me over to the side of JOY.
Thank You, Lord! May my actions and words show evidence of my choice. 

                        ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"Ah, Lord God! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and outstretched arm. There is nothing too hard for You!" Jeremiah 32:17

"Then the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah: I am the LORD, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for Me?"Jeremiah 32:26-27


Dear reader, your difficulties and trials may not be similar to those of "the weeping prophet" - but they are very real, and seemingly insurmountable to you. It is a fact that, of yourself, you can neither overcome nor endure them. So I want to remind you that the Lord's hand is not shortened - that what was true of His power in Jeremiah's time, is as certainly true today. Whatever present hardship may press upon you, or whatever burden may be weighing you down - you, yes,you may look up to Him with confident faith, and say, "There is nothing too hard for You!"

Oh, the blessed peace which such an assurance brings! I do not know what your particular sorrow or hardship may be - but I do know that whatever its nature - cruel, or bitter, or hopeless - it is as "nothing" to Him! He is able to deliver you - as easily as you can call upon Him for support and help.

Now, dear friend, think of all the hard things there are in your life:
poor circumstances,
difficult duties,
grievous pains,
sore struggles,
bitter disappointments,
harsh words,
sinful thoughts,
a hard heart of your own,
a hard heart in others.
Gather all these, and many more together, and pile them one on another until you have one great mountain of afflictions - and your God still calmly asks the question: "Is there anything too hard for Me?"

When our hearts are weary of life's cares and crosses, when our courage flags because of our helplessness, and we cry out with the patriarch, "All these things are against me!" - then what a support and stronghold is the fact that our God has all power in heaven and on earth! There is nothing too mighty for Him to manage - there is nothing too insignificant to escape His notice! Jeremiah's faith . . .
sees no obstacles,
stumbles at no hindrances,
faints under no burden,
shrinks from no responsibilities
- because he realizes the sublime Omnipotence of God, and fortifies himself by calling to remembrance His "outstretched arm" in the creation of the heavens and the earth. Cannot we do likewise?

Never let us give up in despair, while we have such a God to trust in. If there is a great mountain of sorrow or difficulty in your way, dear friend - do not be cast down by the darkness of its shadow. Your God can either make a way for you through it - or He can guide you around it - or, just as easily, He can carry you right over it! There is nothing too hard for Him! Expect Him to make the crooked things straight, and to bring the high things low. And while you keep humbly at His feet, He will work wondrously, and you shall see His salvation!

~ Susannah Spurgeon, "Words of Cheer and Comfort for Sick and Sorrowful Souls!" 1898

12.07.2017

To my foster and adoptive sisters ...


Dear sisters,
This afternoon I spent two hours in a foster care facility.
I knew what I was walking into, I knew why I was there, and yet the moment my foot crossed the
threshold of the building, my eyes filled with tears. I held it together, for it was not the time or place to fall apart, and I wanted to absorb every detail I saw and heard so I wouldn't forget.
And for the first time - I got it.
What you do. Who you serve. Why you do it.
Why you say “yes" even when it is too much, when you are overwhelmed, and when you have nothing left to give. I witnessed the same attitude of selflessness and compassion in the staff and counselors who serve these children and teens. They are honest about the hard work and the struggles, but they choose to go back day after day. Because they love the kids.
Just as you choose to love your children day after day. Especially the broken ones.
The home inspections. The court dates. The visitations. The therapy appointments. You do ALL of it because it needs to be done, it must be done in order to rescue these kids. And you do it well.
Thank you for your example of obedience.
Thank you for your faithfulness.
Thank you for your passion.
I returned home from the foster care facility, walked straight into my bedroom, closed my door - and wept.
There is just too much brokenness. Too many children without a home. Without safety. Without love.
And each one of you is standing in the gap, fighting for these children - by choice.
Thank you.
I will never forget what I saw, what I heard, or the emotions I felt as I walked through every room of the facility and met the children and teens in each of the group homes. And the whole time - I thought of you.
I once said there is nothing I have to offer you since I am not a part of the foster/adoptive world, and you responded, "You may not know the details of the system, but you do have something to offer us, Michelle - yourself." I believed you. I knew what you meant. But today - I understood. I don't know how to file paperwork with social services, prepare kids for a visit with birth parents, or decode court language, but there are things I do know.
I know I respect you.
Appreciate you.
Value you.
Love you.
While the Lord has not placed a foster baby, child, or teen in the Eastman home <yet>, He has given me YOU. Women who choose not only to "speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves," but women who allow me to walk beside them, and call me "friend." You don't need me to tell you how to foster or adopt; you need me to encourage you, pray for you, cheer for you, and remind you on the most discouraging days that you are acting as the hands and feet of Jesus every single time you serve these children.
Though I will never forget what I experienced today, I do not need to tour a foster care facility to see the Gospel in action. I need only look - at you.
With deep affection and a heart of gratitude, Michelle

12.05.2017

Suffering like Jesus.

For the past eleven weeks, I have been sitting under fantastic biblical instruction through a godly man Dennis and I greatly admire. The topic? Suffering. Why we suffer. How we suffer. How we are to respond to suffering. And most importantly, the model Jesus gave us through His own personal suffering.
This class has been an incredible blessing - a time of deep introspection - and a reminder that while God does not take us away from suffering, He faithfully takes us through it.
Sunday's class hit me in a tender spot, and while I left limping a bit, I was encouraged and strengthed by the words of this brother in Christ, and the truths and promises of God.
I pray these notes will encourage others the same way they encouraged me.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, That it cannot save;
Nor His ear heavy, That it cannot hear. Isaiah 59:1

No matter how stuck you feel - you are not alone!
The Lord is THERE!
He will never leave you or forsake you - and there is nothing too difficult for Him.

Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to the disciples, “Sit here while I go and pray over there.” And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed. Then He said to them, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me.” Matthew 26:36-38
Jesus INVITES us into His suffering.
He invites us into an intimate relationship.
He did not have to take Peter and James and John with Him to the garden, but He did. 
He knew Peter was going to deny Him and all of the disciples would scatter in a matter of hours, yet He chose to include them in His sorrow.

He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.” Matthew 26:39
His EXAMPLE.
Jesus did not try to "fix" His problems.
He did the only thing that makes a difference. He fell on His face and prayed.
We need to work on our problems less and pray more.

Personal application ➙ What is my first response to difficult situations?
It should be PRAYER!
Faithful, enduring, persistent prayer.

Jesus prayed the same thing three times. “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.”
And heaven was silent.
Jesus did not ask to be released from God's plan, He asked if there was another way.
God said, "This IS My way."
And Jesus surrendered. With perfect peace.

Seek the Lord while He may be found,
Call upon Him while He is near. Isaiah 55:6
Stop the preoccupation with "self" - even in the midst of great suffering and sorrow - and SEEK GOD.

‘Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.’ Jeremiah 33:3
Stop putting hope in people, and things, and coping strategies and CRY OUT TO GOD.
He is huge and powerful and capable - and He INVITES US to ask Him for help.
An invitation from a holy God should not be ignored. 

Don't get stuck in your failures and inadequacies. Put ALL of your focus on Christ.
"I'm weak." "Yes. You are. Look to Jesus."
"I don't know enough." "No, you don't. Look to Jesus."
"I can't do much." "Do what you can. And look to Jesus."

"I fail, Lord." "I know. But I don't. Walk with Me."
Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office; but because Jesus lives forever, He has a permanent priesthood. Therefore He is able to save completely those who come to God through Him, because He always lives to intercede for them.
Such a high priest truly meets our need—one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. Unlike the other high priests, He does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for His own sins, and then for the sins of the people.

He sacrificed for their sins once for all when He offered Himself. 
For the law appoints as high priests men in all their weakness; but the oath, which came after the law, appointed the Son, who has been made perfect forever. Hebrews 7:23-28

11.29.2017

HIS thoughts - HIS ways.


Every day I read this verse.
It is the first thing I see when I walk into our bedroom,
and I walk into our room at least twenty times each day.

No matter what I am struggling with, when my eyes fall upon this frame, 
the words of God squash every doubt, every fear, every frustration, and all delusions of control.
And I need this to be so.

Because truth be told, I like my own thoughts and my own ways.
They seem logical and right. They please me. And, I feel in control.
(I cannot prove it, but I think many eye-rolls take place in heaven when my name is mentioned!)

  And yet, God says that His thoughts are NOT my thoughts, and His ways are NOT my ways.
Our God has secrets. He is a God of mystery.
He does not need my permission, insight, or suggestions regarding His purposes and His ways.
What He requires is that when I don't understand what He is doing,
I will remember who He is ... and TRUST HIM.

My marriage,
my children,
my health,
education,
ministry,
relationships,
every detail of my life.
Each one must be surrendered to Him, day by day, hour by hour.

As much as I would like to be granted access to the secrets of God, He says, "No."
"My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways," SAITH THE LORD.
And I need to be okay with that.
100%, fully satisfied and content, knowing that His ways are far better than my own.

Lord - make this so! Teach me to trust You quickly and completely, in all things.

He who trusts in his own heart is a fool, but he who walks wisely will be delivered.
Proverbs 28:26

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths.
Proverbs 3:5, 6

You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.
Isaiah 26:3

11.25.2017

Already encouraged, yet there is MORE to come!

After reading the last chapter of Jonathan Edward's biography last week, I felt I needed to take a break from reading for a bit. The book was 500 pages in length, each page filled with fantastic details about his life, his convictions, his passion, and the criticism and hatred of others because he was a man of conviction and passion. It was a wonderful read, and a challenging one, for many personal reasons. I continue to think of Jonathan, asking the Lord to make clear what He wants me to learn about Him - and about myself - through the life of such an extraordinary man.

My hiatus did not last long, however. After reading the Gospel of Matthew, I felt the desire to devour another biography. Scripture is enough on its own, there is simply no doubt, but there is something incredibly encouraging about being invited inside the minds of godly men and women who recorded the Lord's dealings with them so we might benefit from their personal lessons. Praise the Lord for their willingness to write them down!

Every book in my stack of unread biographies seemed appealing, but the Lord pushed my hand to select the one that chronicles the life of this man: Robert Murray M'Cheyne.
I knew absolutely nothing about him, but boy is he making his way into my affections quickly! I have only finished the first chapter, yet I feel as though I know this man - and understand him. The author records dozens of quotes from M'Cheyne's personal diary, but I think this entry paints a vivid picture of how He saw himself - and His God. (in his early years, age 20+)

"What a mass of corruption I have been! How great a portion of my life have I spent wholly without God in the world, given up to sense and the perishing things around me! Naturally of a feeling and sentimental disposition, how much of my religion has been, and to this day is, tinged with these colors of earth!
Restrained from open vice by educational views and the fear of man, how much ungodliness has reigned within me! How often has it broken through all restraints, and come out in the shape of lust and anger, mad ambitions, and unhallowed words! Though my vice was always refined, yet how subtle and how awfully prevalent it was!
How complete a test was the Sabbath - spent in weariness, as much of it was given to God's service! How I polluted it by my hypocrisies, my self-conceits, my worldly thoughts, and worldly friends!
How formally and unheedingly the Bible was read - how little was read - so little that even now I have not read it all!
How unboundedly was the wild impulse of the heart obeyed! How much more was the creature loved than the Creator! O great God, that didst suffer me to live whilst I so dishonored Thee, Thou knowest the whole; and it was Thy hand alone that could awaken me from the death in which I was, and was contented to be. Gladly would I have escaped from the Shepherd that sought me as I strayed; but He took me up in His arms and carried me back; and yet He took me not for anything that was in me. I was not more fit for His service than any man, and no more worthy to be called and chosen.
Yet why should I doubt? Nay, I come to Christ, not although I am a sinner, but just because I am a sinner, even the chief."
... still I believe that my soul is in sincerity desirous and earnest about having all its concerns at rest with God and Christ - that His kingdom occupies the most part of all my thoughts ...
As surely as Thou didst make the mouth with which I pray, so surely dost Thou prompt every prayer of faith which I utter. Thou hast made me all that I am, and given me all that I have."

Imagine what words will flow from his pen after he has walked with the Lord for another decade!
I am eager to learn how this man, who is granted but thirty years of life on earth, lives out his final days. I already find myself stirred up "to love and good deeds," and the Lord is not finished with him yet!

11.20.2017

There is only one place to look!

Jesus does not take us away from our suffering.
He gives us a way through it.

What is your perspective in pain?
How do you respond?
Where do you seek comfort?
To whom do you look for encouragement and hope?

May we always run to the Savior - fastest and first - dropping all of our sorrows, doubts, and fears at His feet so we may receive the forgiveness, grace, restoration, and rest we so desperately crave.

"Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus"

O soul are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness you see?
There's light for a look at the Savior,
And life more abundant and free:

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face;
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace.

Through death into life everlasting
He passed, and we follow Him there;
Over us sin no more hath dominion
For more than conquerors we are!

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face;
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace.

His word shall not fail you He promised;
Believe Him and all will be well.
Then go to a world that is dying,
His perfect salvation to tell!

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face;
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace.

11.15.2017

My THEME SONG for Motherhood.


"I Need Thee Every Hour"

I need Thee every hour, most gracious Lord;
No tender voice like Thine can peace afford.
I need Thee, oh, I need Thee;
Every hour I need Thee;
Oh, bless me now, my Savior,
I come to Thee.

I need Thee every hour, stay Thou nearby;
Temptations lose their pow’r when Thou art nigh.
I need Thee, oh, I need Thee;
Every hour I need Thee;
Oh, bless me now, my Savior,
I come to Thee.

I need Thee every hour, in joy or pain;
Come quickly and abide, or life is vain.
I need Thee, oh, I need Thee;
Every hour I need Thee;
Oh, bless me now, my Savior,
I come to Thee.

I need Thee every hour; teach me Thy will;
And Thy rich promises in me fulfill.
I need Thee, oh, I need Thee;
Every hour I need Thee;
Oh, bless me now, my Savior,
I come to Thee.

I need Thee every hour, most Holy One;
Oh, make me Thine indeed, Thou blessed Son.
I need Thee, oh, I need Thee;
Every hour I need Thee;
Oh, bless me now, my Savior,
I come to Thee.

11.13.2017

Inspiration and Strength!

Our Sunday sermon was a great encouragement to me.
I share my notes and personal reflections here with the hope they will encourage others as well.

The text:
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
Hebrews 12:1, 2

✲ The Encouragement Recorded
"Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses,..."

- The author encourages the saints to run hard and run fast - BY FAITH - after reminding them of the faithful saints of the past.
By faith Abel
By faith Enoch
By faith Noah
By faith Abraham
By faith Sarah
By faith Isaac
By faith Jacob
By faith Joseph
By faith Moses
By faith Rahab
(Hebrews 11)

Remember them! And follow their example! Not because they were perfect, but because they pressed on in their imperfection - BY FAITH.

✲ The Encumbrance Rejected
"...let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely,..."

As believers, we are challenged to remove every encumbrance, hindrance, and distraction so we can focus on what is important. Jesus Christ.
A sprinter does not race down the track wearing a jean jacket and cowboy boots, just as a marathon runner does not run 26.2 miles in a wetsuit and SCUBA gear. The weight would drag them down and exhaust them. As does the sin strapped to the back of the believer as she covers mile after mile in the race toward the prize of heaven.

Weight = Things that are not 'bad' but also not Best. Things that slow you down and distract you.
Believers must choose between what is good and what is best.
And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, Philippians 1:9, 10

Just because something isn't sin doesn't mean you should do it.
Can vs. Should
Which one pushes you to Christ?
Which one serves the Kingdom?
Which one minister to others?
What do we NEED to do in order to run the race with excellence?

It may not be 'evil' - but - is it ESSENTIAL?

Sin = Forbidden things. No need to discern what is good or best - because it is all sin!
Sin needs to be completely eliminated from the life of a believer.
-Are you aware of the sins that constantly ensnare you?
-Do you guard against those sins?

✲ The Endurance Required
"...and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,..."

- The Christian life is a MARATHON, not a sprint!
- It is a grueling, agonizing trek through the world and all of the sin which dwells within it.
- It is a long, long race requiring daily running.

→ Endurance requires strenuous effort.
- Neglecting the disciplines of reading the Bible, praying, and meeting with the church body is NOT AN OPTION for the believer.
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified. I Corinthians 9: 24-27

Endurance is a singular effort. Though we run as a body, we are also run an individual race.
- Each of us has a specific calling that is to be pursued and obeyed.
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:10
- Each of us was given specific spiritual gifts to be used within the body of believers.
There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. I Corinthians 12:4-7

We must not fall into the temptation to Compare and Despair. God sovereignly chose the details of your life, for a purpose, and for His glory. Be content with WHO YOU ARE. Obey your calling and exercise your gifts and you will find the race much easier to endure!

✲ The Example Recommended
"...looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God."

- The author points to Jesus as the ultimate example of faith.
- Keep your eyes FIXED ON JESUS! HE is the prize! Not the world.
- He endured. He did not quit. He ran willingly. He ran obediently. He ran alone.

The Old Testament saints INSPIRE us, but Jesus STRENGTHENS us so we can run - all the way - without quitting - until the day we cross the finish line and are ushered into glory forevermore!

Lord, thank You for this fantastic passage in Scripture that reminds us that You have used weak, sinful men and women to accomplish Your will. You choose the weak so Your strength is more evident. What an encouragement this is to Your children when we look in the mirror and see flaw upon flaw, wondering if You can do ANYthing through us, or if You even want to. You never ask us to do something for You without giving us what we need to walk in faithful obedience, but like Moses, it is our focus on the flesh that keeps us from seeing the bigger picture. BUT GOD. We know You can do anything, but we allow the weaknesses and failings and disappointments of men distract us from this truth. You do not need us to accomplish Your will, but You choose to use us - as we are - because it is Your power that works within us to achieve Your purposes and plans. Thank You for this truth, Lord! Thank You for pouring new mercies on us each morning, showing us grace day by day, and strengthening us so we can be obedient to the calling You place on us. We obey because we love You, and we can only do so because You loved us first. And best.

Quote.

Do you want to hear God speak? Read your Bible out loud.
- John Piper

11.11.2017

Dennis writes a letter to his sons.

As is his practice when he is serving in different parts of the world, Dennis wrote a letter to our sons today. These letters will be kept forever, and hopefully cherished by all of our children. I share this one because it is applicable to all of us, and provides a glimpse into the heart and mind of my husband. People often see one side of this man, but like many wonderful men, his family sees and knows much more.
I pray you will be encouraged by his words.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Greetings My Sons,

Working in an Emergency Room is a five senses kind of job. To be sure there is much to see (I once saw an “entry/exit” gun shot wound through the forearm. When irrigating the wound, the water went in one side and came out the other much like you would see in a cartoon.), hear (crying/screaming children, this is a given, and non-stop for hours upon hours), touch (bodies, blood, bile, pus, etc.), smell (the smells are quite memorable), and, yes…taste (thankfully, not often). Regardless of the senses involved, during the course of a twelve-hour night shift there is a strong possibility some form of adventure will unfold.

One evening we had a patient, an elderly man, who was experiencing the five senses of illness. This poor guy was in bad shape. Raging fever, loss of bowel control, vomiting…you get the picture. A nurse was prepping the patient for the doctor when the man turned his head to the side and vomited on the floor. As the nurse called for someone to clean up the soiled floor, a man walked in wearing a golf shirt and casual pants. He grabbed a towel from underneath the counter and wiped up the vomit. He then placed the towel in the dirty linen hamper and asked the nurse, “What are we waiting for with this patient?” She replied, “The doctor.” Without missing a beat, the man stepped forward and said, “Hello sir, my name is Dr. Rosing, what can I do for you this evening?” This was his first shift on his first night at our ER. What a great introduction to Dr. Keith Rosing!

My point this week…SERVE! I know, I know, you have heard this story. “If you want to be a leader, serve”. Blah, blah, blah…

Please give a fresh effort to listen to what I am saying. Service comes in many forms and functions. When the sun is shining and friends are going down to the beach to pick up trash in the name of Jesus - I am in! When we are driving over to drop off groceries for a popular cause that everyone deems worthy and necessary, and it does not cut into my free time - Absolutely, count me in! However, there are times when serving is not convenient with my schedule (during a sporting event, scheduled free time, or a preferred activity), or the task to be completed is not considered conducive to my opinion of acceptability (interacting with certain members of the family, a task that takes more than 30 minutes, doing an unassigned chore, etc.).

The fact is, I am a selective service type of human. My service is often self-determined by a list of “ifs” rather than complete surrender to what, where, and when God is moving me to action. Please consider an example.
There is a couple in Cambodia, Scott and Helen, who have moved here with the intent of serving in the international school. Scott teaches math and Helen is the secondary principal. They have two wonderful young children. During dinner one evening, I asked them where they were attending church in Cambodia. Scott replied, “We attend a Khmer church plant in Phnom Penh.” I then asked, if he understood what the pastor was saying and he said, “No. I get a little bit of the sermon but for the most part, I do not understand the message.” I laughed and said, "You are attending a church where you don’t know what the pastor is saying?” Without hesitation, Scott smiled and said, “It is more about serving than anything else. We attend a morning service in English and then an afternoon service in Khmer. I figure that is why we are here.”

Admittedly, his reply humbled me. This family came to Cambodia to be all in. Including attending a church in which the language remains unknown, save a few words here and there. And, they are making a significant difference where God has planted them. Few people will ever know their story and their daily sacrifices, yet they are people who recognize that GOD is the one who has directed their steps and he will lead them to the next endeavor.

Gentlemen, God's work has never been measured by the difficulty of the task but is often accomplished due to the availability of the servant. There are numerous excuses and reasons available as to why someone else should do the “heavy lifting” of serving others. It reminds me of the quote by Chuck Swindoll, “The trouble with the Christian life is that it is so daily.” There is always some reason (personal preference, desire, lint on my clothing) that will keep me from serving.

The LORD often provides amazing “God moments” that look very much like everyday service to others.

Though mission trips, youth events, and training teachers Cambodia are fun and worthy ways of serving, it is the common elements of daily events where we truly learn to serve. Let’s you and I learn to be Christian men who serve. Daily.

Love,
Dad

11.06.2017

We care - but He cares MORE!

Prasie the Lord, Praise the Lord! Orphan Care Sunday was a SUCCESS!

Our children/family Pastor preached a wonderful message based on James 1:27, Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. He also incorporated the first two chapters of the book of Ruth, a beautiful story of redemption.

We have two goals for our Orphan Care Ministry.
1. To create an encouraging, supportive, prayerful Orphan Care Community for the families who are actively involved in orphan care, whether through adoption or fostering, so each family feels supported and understood as they walk faithfully and obediently through the daily life of caring for orphans.
2. To bring awareness to and educate our church body about the biblical mandate to care for orphans and the tremendous need for families to rise up and serve the thousands of children waiting for homes in our own backyard. Every believer is not commanded to bring a child into their home, but every believer is commanded to care for orphans.

The goal for creating an Orphan Care Community was accomplished in the first few months of the ministry's early days because these families are amazing and open and always the first to serve when a need arises. They talk, they text, they visit each other, they counsel one another, pray, babysit, and cook for each other - and they are THERE. Whenever a family needs anything - someone responds. Every time.

The second goal - education and awareness - was accomplished from the pulpit Sunday morning.
Jason, our family pastor, spoke boldly of the biblical command, the calling, the statistics, and the need.
And he did it with grace.

I noticed Dennis writing several notes in his journal during the message, and when I glanced over to read his words, my eyes fell on a quote he copied from William Wilberforce, the man who drove the British government to abolish the slave trade in 1833.
“You may choose to look the other way, but you can never say again that you did not know.” 

What a powerful statement!
Ignorance is bliss, but awareness = accountability.
The seeds of Orphan Care were scattered across our sanctuary yesterday, and it will be exciting to see what the Lord will reap at harvest time!

Our evening event was also a sweet delight.
We had young couples join us who are interested in orphan care, families who have already adopted children and want to be part of the ministry to encourage and support others when they step out in faith to do the same, one lovely couple who wanted to learn how to support their siblings who will be taking in foster children in the next few months, and a handful of older men and women who want to be part of our Support Team so they can provide encouragement and help to the families in their moments of greatest need. Such a wonderful combination of God's people!

Three of our current foster/adopt families shared their personal testimonies, I explained the vision and purpose of the ministry, Jason gave a wonderful devotion, and Dennis shared his personal adoption testimony. He closed with these words, "Provers 31:8, 9 says, 'Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.' Someone spoke for me when I could not speak for myself, and I am forever grateful."

As we drove away from the church last night, my heart was full of praise and gratefulness to a God who can move the hearts of men - and cares for orphans more than we do. Thank You, Lord, for this truth! And thank You for moving the hearts of Your people to respond to the tremendous need to care for the thousands of orphans waiting to be taken into safe, loving homes. You ARE an amazing God!

Oh, and THIS! Our wonderful design team took all of the words we wanted to share and placed them on the backdrop of these lovely images of our own people in our church body. It is exciting to have an official brochure to give to people who are interested in bringing children into their home through foster care and adoption, or to those who want to encourage and support the families caring for orphans. "Visiting orphans and widows in their distress" cannot be accomplished alone. It is a command to the church - and a mission for the body. How sweet it is to watch members serve one another in this pursuit!

11.03.2017

A confirmed lesson.

Last night the Lord used a godly older woman to direct my thoughts even deeper into the purpose and benefit of studying God's Word.

I love when the Lord confirms a lesson He has been teaching me.
He makes it crystal clear that He is the teacher, I am the student, and keeps me focused on the details of the lessons until I am fully surrendered to His calling and His will.
I will admit, I have been known to close my notebook, toss my pencil across the room, and drop my head on my desk when I feel overwhelmed or simply do not care for the particular lesson being taught.
But, just as a good teacher does everything possible to engage his student, the Lord does the same with this rebel. Sometimes He simply has to call my name to draw me back. Other times He must stand beside my desk, hovering, until I look up. And every once in a while, He finds it necessary to thwack my desk with His ruler because I refuse to sit up straight, focus, and obey.

Thankfully, I am a willing, active participant for the current lesson, and though I need a stern hand to keep me on the right track so I do not lose heart or stray, I have not had to endure any hovering or thwackings from the Lord. He has encouraged me through His Word, other believers, and quotes by godly men. And for these things - I am thankful!

Immerse yourself in the written Word of God.
Saturate your mind with it so you spill over with truth.
- John Piper

Be an expert on the Word of God and you will always know what to say to the culture. 
- John MacArthur

There is no sin-killer like the Word of God.
Wherever it comes, it comes as a sword, and inflicts death upon evil. 
- C. H. Spurgeon

As an ordinary Christian, go deep in the Word and prayer,
and then go boldly into your sphere of influence. 
- Steffen Mueller

10.30.2017

Thoroughly inspiring!

This book.
This man.
This LIFE.

I have marveled at his "resolutions" for years, wondering how in the world a teenage boy could have such deep conviction about his faith.

After sauntering through the first 50+ pages of this fantastic biography (for you cannot sprint through a book such as this), I am even more enamored with this man. 
He was not perfect, for pride was his greatest vice, but he was willing to look honestly at himself, day after day after day, in order to know himself - so he could die to self.

It would be foolish to attempt to summarize the life of Jonathan Edwards, especially when countless authors have done a superb job capturing his ministry, his character, and his personality with paper and ink. My reading has not even caught up to his twentieth year of life, yet I am challenged, encouraged, and convicted by his intentional pursuit to understand and know his God. He struggled often with his faith, he hated the pride that ensnared him, and he battled despondency and depression. And yet, 250 years after his death, he is considered one of the greatest preachers ever to stand behind a pulpit. His first nineteen years have already stirred me up to seek harder after God, so I can only imagine what inspiration is to come after discovering what God did with and through this fascinating man during his other thirty-five years on earth!

A true and faithful Christian does not make holy living an accidental thing.
It is his great concern.
As the business of the soldier is to fight, so the business of the Christian is to be like Christ.
- Jonathan Edwards

10.25.2017

I love it - but not enough.

Make sure Satan has to climb over a lot of Scripture to get to you.
- John MacArthur

I LOVE this quote!
And I am incredibly convicted by it.

When I was in college, the Lord challenged me to memorize Scripture and I pursued the challenge with focused intensity. I had a dozen large rings filled with hundreds of verses written out on colored index cards, and I carried them with me wherever I went. I had grown weary of memorizing verses solely for the sake of memorizing. I wanted the effort to go toward passages that hit me in the center of my current struggles and sin. It seemed logical, so I became prescriptive about the verses I chose to memorize. 

If I was feeling convicted about gossiping with friends, I looked up every verse on gossip and added them to a ring. If I was battling envy or jealousy, I looked up all of those verses and slipped the cards on another ring. And on and on it went. In the beginning, pulling out the cards to read them in between classes, in the cafeteria, while waiting for an appointment, or just to be faithful to memorize the verses took effort and planning, but it was not long before it became a regular part of my day. I kept a ring of cards in my purse, in my school bag, on my desk, and in my car so I had no excuse NOT to read. Most of my spare moments were used to flip through card after card, and sooner than I had expected, the verses would float through my mind without any prompting - just when I needed them most. It was incredibly exciting, and the ability to draw God's Word from my own mind became something I wanted more than anything else.

As wonderful as it was to have dozens of verses stored up in my heart, there was also an adjustment period. Claiming ignorance of God's Word is an easy out. Any sin can be justified when knowledge is lacking. But once we are aware - we are accountable.
I remember thinking, "Wow. Now that I know fourteen verses about discontentment, I am never going to be able to justify it because God's Word will be banging against my conscience. I will be willfully choosing to sin!"
Stumbling into sin is one thing. Purposely walking to the edge of the cliff and jumping into sin is quite another.
I still wrestle with this. Even more so now because I have had an additional 25 years to memorize Scripture since my college days. Sometimes, the clarity of the verse sounds so loud and strong in my mind that I turn my head expecting to see the Lord standing right behind me! I hate those moments because it is evident that I want my sin more than I want my Savior, but I also love those moments because I can hear His words as clearly as if He was whispering in my ear, "Daughter, please. Please, don't do this! Stop your thoughts. Walk away. It's not worth it. Look at Me, and do not look away until the temptation no longer has a grip on you." I have stored up Your word in my heart, that I might not sin against You. Psalm 119:11  

Make sure Satan has to climb over a lot of Scripture to get to you.

I love my Bible.
But I do not love it enough.
The spine is still intact. The cover is not worn dull. The pages are not bleeding with ink from my pen.
I have not read it enough, prayed over it enough, wept with it enough, or applied it the way God intended. 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.
II Timothy 3:16,17

I want my Bible to be the most used item I possess, and it's content the largest part of my vocabulary.

Father, may the heart of Your servant who penned these words become my own ... 
I will meditate on Your precepts and fix my eyes on Your ways.
I will delight in Your statutes; I will not forget Your word. Psalm 119:15, 16



This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Joshua 1:8

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. Psalm 119:105 

But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Matthew 4:4

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Hebrews 4:12

10.21.2017

He gives us what we NEED.

The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil; for Thou art with me; Thy rod and Thy staff, they comfort me. Thou dost prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; Thou hast anointed my head with oil; My cup overflows. Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever. 
Psalm 23

The last few weeks have been filled with emotion, discipleship, difficult conversations, mutual encouragement, precious time with family, correction, challenges, and well, life. Because I was fully engaged in each of these things, I did not recognize my weariness and how much I needed rest. I woke up tired yesterday, longing for a nap before the clock struck 9 am. At noon, when I was making a beeline for the couch, I spotted my Bible. "Come to ME, all you who are weary and need rest," it seemed to call.
I grabbed my Bible, sat down to read, and asked the Lord to point the way.
"Psalm 23."
"Really, Lord? That Psalm is overused. How about something unique?"
"Psalm 23, Michelle. Go."
(I cannot prove it, but I have a sneaking suspicion the Lord sometimes rolls His eyes when I speak!)

Thankfully, I obeyed. And God opened my eyes to something new.
The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake.

Why would the Lord force us to lie down? And why in green pastures? Why would a shepherd make his sheep lie down? For the same reason we do so with our children ... because they need it. They may not think they do, they may not want to, but do we care? Nope. We make them do it. And the faithful Shepherd does the same for His children. He forces us to be still, to lie down, and to rest.
There is little else do to in a green pasture but think, relax, dream, pray, and sleep. Not only does the Lord make us lie down, He makes us do so in a place free from distractions, concerns, demands, or fears.
HE MAKES US lie down.
Why?
Because we refuse to do so on our own. We keep going and moving and working and thinking and planning and striving. But what we should do, what we need to do - is BE STILL.
And once we are still, we are able to take in the beauty and quiet that surrounds us and hear the still, quiet voice of the Good Shepherd.

He RESTORES my soul.
We are restored through the quiet and beauty of the green pasture. During our time of rest, we are able to reflect on who God is, His promises, and His love. Before the stillness, we are too distracted to see where He is leading us. We are not able to listen because we surrounded ourselves with noise and cannot hear what He is saying. But in the quiet, our God does not have to yell, for our ears hear Him, and His words and commands are clear.

He LEADS me beside quiet waters.
He GUIDES me in the paths of righteousness.
Notice how the verb changes from a forced action to a willing action.
After we have been forced to be still, savoring the rest we so desperately needed, and remembering the greatness and love of our God, it is then that we are able to rise up and follow where He leads. Willingly. And with JOY.

Where does He take us when we are willing to follow Him?
In the paths of righteousness.
Because He is a Good Shepherd, He does not just point us to this place of wonder. He is right there, guiding and leading us every step of the way. Through the beauty of the mountaintops, and through the darkness of the valleys - He is always there.

The LORD is my shepherdshall not want
He makes me lie down.
He gives me rest.
He leads me.
He guides me.
He restores my soul.
Our God may not always give us what we want, but He always, always gives us what we need.

10.14.2017

Quote.

How much we ought to hate sin!
Instead of loving it, cleaving to it, dallying with it, excusing it, playing with it - we ought to hate it with a deadly hatred!
Sin is the great murderer, and thief, and pestilence, and nuisance of this world.
Let us make no peace with it.
Let us wage a ceaseless warfare against it.
It is "the abominable thing which God hates!"
Happy is he who is of one mind with God, and can say, I "abhor that which is evil." Romans 12:9
- J. C. Ryle

10.11.2017

Quote.

"For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain!" Philippians 1:21 

True Christianity is not merely the believing a certain set of theological propositions.
It is to live in daily personal communication with an actual living person
- Jesus the Son of God!

"The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God,
who loved me and gave Himself for me!" Galatians 2:20

- J. C. Ryle

10.10.2017

There is a better way.

Do you ever wonder if this is what the Lord sometimes sees when He looks at us?


His children, trudging through life with huge, heavy loads they placed upon their own backs, creating an unbearable burden that is so overwhelming and exhausting they cannot sustain it and must surrender to the weight of their burden by being buried under it, or tossed onto their backs because of it. 

How grieved He must be to witness such a sight when He has opened His arms wide to us,
graciously and lovingly inviting us to,
Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.  Matthew 11


THIS is what the Lord wants to provide for us!

Rest.
Pure, contended, sweet, refreshing rest.

Come to ME, Jesus says.
Take MY yoke.
Learn from ME.

Will you respond?
Will you walk to the Master?
Will you lay your burdens at His feet?
Will you trust Him with the load you have carried for far too long?
Will you listen to Him?
Will you learn from Him?

He is a gentle Master, a humble Master. And His promises are true.

You need only COME.
And you will find rest for your soul.

10.09.2017

Fear is impatient. Trust will wait!

Wait on the Lord;
Be of good courage,
And He shall strengthen your heart;
Wait, I say, on the Lord!
Psalm 27:2

Fear is impatient.
It demands answers right now.
And when it doesn't get them, it breeds worry, assumptions, and despair.

God commands us in Scripture over and over again - Do Not Fear!
Fear not,  for I am with you!
Be not dismayed for I AM YOUR GOD.
God knows we cannot produce godly courage on our own. He knows we cannot defeat fear through our own power. He knows that apart from Him we can do nothing. So He gives us Scriptures like Psalm 27 to remind and encourage us to ...
BE STILL.
WAIT ON HIM.
LISTEN.
REST in the stillness so you are able to hear His voice.
Be COURAGEOUS.
"Courage is not the absence of fear - it is the presence of God!"

And then what does He say?  What does He PROMISE?
"And He shall strengthen your heart."
HE.
The God who created the heavens and the earth.
The God who holds the entire universe in the palm of His hand.
The God who controls the wind and the waves.
Makes the lame walk.
Makes the blind see.
The God who knew you by name when He formed you in the secret places of the earth.
The God who knows every thought in your mind and every word on your tongue before you do.
The God who sees you as you are - and knows what you will become.

He SHALL.
Scripture does not say He "might" give you strength.  It doesn't say, "He seems to have a pretty good reputation for giving strength, so chances are He will help you." No. It just says He SHALL.

But what is required of you?
Waiting.
Uncertainty.
Unanswered questions.
Patience.
Faith.
TRUST.

Seemingly impossible when you are watching a spouse slip away from this life to meet the Lord at the gates of splendor.
Seemingly impossible when a baby is born with a degenerative disease.
Seemingly impossible when the words, "You are unable to have children" are spoken.
When a spouse loses his job.
A beloved father is dying.

We do not have the ability to create a strength that will stand firm in the days of uncertainty.  
We cannot create a strength that will sustain us in the darkness of doubt and the 'what ifs.' But the Lord our God is ready, willing, and completely capable of strengthening our hearts FOR US, so that when fear descends ... clouding our judgment, causing us to forget who our God is and what He has done, making us feel totally alone, wondering if He even hears our prayers ...
we can stand with confidence and courage knowing that when God sets our feet in the fire and asks us to trust Him - in the seen and the unseen - He is standing right beside us.
" ... for He has said, 'I will never leave you nor forsake you.' So we can confidently say, 'The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?'" Hebrews 13:5, 6

Fear is impatient.
But TRUST - will wait.

Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart;
Wait, I say, on the Lord!

10.05.2017

Birthday BLESSINGS!


46.  Beautiful flowers
45.  Wind
44.  Sitting on the sand, staring at the ocean, being reminded how small I am, and how big God is
43.  Chocolate
42.  Sleeping in
41.  Laughing - and people who make me laugh!
40.  Enjoying a Tea Date with a friend
39.  Easter Sunday
38.  Deep, purposeful, thoughtful conversations that leave me feeling equally convicted and encouraged
37.  Reading biographies of godly, passionate men and women who served God without apology or fear
36.  Being trusted with the hurts and heart of another
35.  Listening to godly men preach the Word of God passionately and without shame
34.  Reading and memorizing Scripture
33.  Singing hymns and worship songs with my brothers and sisters in Christ
32.  Marriage
31.  Motherhood
30.  Ministry
29.  Spending time with our extended family
28.  Drinking ice cold water on a hot day
27.  Getting handwritten letters in the mail
26.  Hugs and kisses on the cheek from my teen boys
25.  Godly grandparents who prayed for me
24.  A husband who loves, protects, and defends me
23.  Forgiveness
22.  Mercy
21.  Grace
20.  Faithful friends
19.  The wounds of faithful friends
18.  Godly, older women who willingly give their time to invest in and disciple me
17.  A delicious cup of tea, a flickering candle, a soft blanket, and a good book - at the same time
16.  Friends who accept me as I am, faults, weaknesses and all
15.  Thought-provoking, kick-you-in-the-backside, you-limp-away-after-reading-them quotes
14.  Breakfast buffets
13.  Museums
12.  Huge, full, green trees
11.  Old friends
10.  Watching my children play with and serve each other
  9.  Listening to my children talk to and laugh with their father
  8.  The blessing of seven children ... six who live with me here on earth and a son who has only                         known the joys of heaven, yet continues to make an impact on the earth
  7.  The joy of being raised in the Christian faith, growing up in church, and being taught to hide                         God's Word in my heart since I was a little girl
  6.  Beautiful stationery, leather-bound journals, and "the perfect pen"
  5.  New shoes
  4.  Fun jewelry
  3.  Being allowed to serve our Orphan Care families, and trusted to know their stories
  2.  Friends and family who love us, care for us, pray for us, and serve us when we are in need
  1.  LIFE!

On my 46th birthday, these are the things for which I am truly ❤ THANKFUL! ❤

10.02.2017

Am I willing to do ANYTHING?

As I continue to read about the life of an ordinary man used by God to do extraordinary things, I am
challenged to look long and hard at my own life.
My time in prayer.
My devotion to God's Word.
How I spend my free time.
Who I reach out to, and with whom I interact.
How many of my thoughts are focused on eternity?
Do I fear man, or do I trust God?

D. L. Moody was as human as the rest of us. He was a sinner saved by grace. He had strengths and he had weaknesses. He loved people and he offended people. He had a heart of compassion and a spirited temper. He was humble - after the Lord reminded him that his pride would destroy not only himself but the work God wanted to accomplish through him.

D. L. Moody was human. Fallible and imperfect. And yet, like many men and women before him, he accomplished extraordinary things for God because he continually sat at the feet of His Savior, his Bible open wide, and his mind locked in prayer. He was willing to do little things for God, and because he did them faithfully and without complaint, God called him to do more. So I am forced to ask myself ... what am I willing to do for God? Am I willing to do ANYthing? Even when I am ridiculed, unsupported, rejected, or despised? Am I willing to do anything for God - without recognition or praise?

I want to echo Moody's words ... "I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And that which I can do, by the grace of God, I will do."
Lord, make me this kind of woman!

I pray you are encouraged by these few quotes spoken by a man who loved, pursued, and obeyed the God who put a burning fire in his heart to cry out to every living soul he met, "Do you know Jesus?" Moody could not preach the Gospel without tears in his eyes, for he felt just as Spurgeon did: “If sinners be damned, at least let them leap to Hell over our dead bodies. And if they perish, let them perish with our arms wrapped about their knees, imploring them to stay. If Hell must be filled, let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let not one go unwarned and unprayed for.” - Charles Haddon Spurgeon

May the Lord light a similar flame in each of our hearts!

"If you have so much business to attend to that you have no time to pray, depend upon it that you have more business on hand than God ever intended you should have."

"Our greatest fear should not be of failure, but of succeeding at something that doesn't really matter."

"So few grow, because so few study."

"The Christian on his knees sees more than the philosopher on tiptoe. God sends no one away empty except those who are full of themselves."

"Our Faith must be tested. God builds no ships but what He sends to sea."

"The Bible will keep you from sin, or sin will keep you from the Bible."

"If I take care of my character, my reputation will take care of itself."

"I prayed for faith and thought that some day faith would come down and strike me like lightning. But faith did not seem to come. One day I read in the tenth chapter of Romans, “Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.” I had up to this time closed my Bible and prayed for faith. I now opened my Bible and began to study, and faith has been growing ever since."

"We are told to let our light shine, and if it does, we won't need to tell anybody it does. Lighthouses don't fire cannons to call attention to their shining- they just shine."

"Out of 100 men, one will read the Bible, the other 99 will read the Christian."

"We ought to see the face of God every morning before we see the face of man."

"He who kneels the most, stands the best."

9.29.2017

The Secret.


For two days, a sweet sister and I exchanged text messages about - contentment.
Wanting to move someplace where life is simple, slower, more relaxed.
Feeling frustrated with finances and the constant lack thereof.
Bemoaning the moral decline of our state and country.
Etc.
Etc.
Etc.
We discussed the fact that God rarely gives us the desires of our heart when we refuse to be content with what we already have.
And sometimes, He uproots us and sends us where we don't want to go. Will we obey? Will we trust Him, even when we don't understand what He is doing - or like it?

Contentment is a choice.
Yet often, instead of choosing contentment, we choose to play the game of Compare and Despair.
We look around instead of looking UP.
UP into the eyes of our Savior who bids us, "Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.”

In the late afternoon on the day of the final exchange with my friend, this quote showed up in my box.
“The secret is Christ in me, not me in a different set of circumstances.”
~ Elisabeth Elliot

Talk about a heart check!
No matter where we are - where we go - what we do - or with whom we do it, the common denominator in every situation - is US.
If we refuse to find contentment in our current circumstances, why do we think we would be content in a new state, a new job, a new marriage, or a new church? Regardless if one or every one of our circumstances changes, we bring our thoughts, attitudes, convictions, and perspective right along with us. As a wise person once said, "The grass may be greener on the other side of the fence, but the lawn still has to be mowed!"

Our sin nature of selfishness and pride will always be at war with the need to surrender and submit to the Lord. We constantly have to kick Self off the throne of our heart to allow the Savior to take His rightful position of power. Paul summed up this fight clearly in his letter to the Romans.
For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. Romans 17:18-20
We could easily slide the word 'contentment' into this passage. "I have the desire to be content, but not the ability to carry it out. For I am not content the way I want to be, but the discontentment I hate is the attitude of my heart. If I continue being discontent, it is not me who does it, but the sin that dwells in me." So, what do we do? How do we defeat discontentment and create contentment - in all circumstances?
"Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

Lord, pull out and destroy any discontentment that is buried within my heart. I can quickly identify many of the weeds, but others are so cleverly covered I know I will not be able to find them unless you point them out to me Yourself. It is embarrassing that I even have to ask, Lord, but I would rather see the ugliness of my sin when the weeds are small and manageable than wait until they are choking the life out of my spiritual growth. Reveal my discontentment, I pray. Reveal it, uproot it, destroy it, and replace every weed with seeds of contentment and joy. Forgive me for desiring my own way instead of Yours. You are God, I am not. Not my will - but Oh, Lord, let YOURS be done!

Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him.
This is my rule in all the churches. I Corinthians 7:17

Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment, ... I Timothy 6:6

You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You. Isaiah 26:3

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. Proverbs 3:5

You make known to me the path of life; in Your presence there is fullness of joy;
at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore. Psalm 16:11

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. Psalm 23:1