Friday, October 31, 2014

The Pain Of Grief!

This past weekend we celebrated the life of my sister n law who recently passed away. It was a beautiful celebration for someone who gave herself to her family. When I married my husband she treated my children from my first marriage as if they were her own family. These past few years we were getting together weekly to spend time with our granddaughters and do some special things. Just before she became ill we had made plans of all the things we were going to do with them in the upcoming months but we are not promised tomorrow. I am eternally grateful to her and for the memories she provided for myself, my kids and grandkids.

Grief takes over the mind and spirit when there is a death in the family or anyone close to us. The grief comes in different forms such as deep sadness, anger, numbness, anxiety and stress. It will manifest itself in different forms physically and mentally. When we are at our weakest is when Satan and our enemies become more vigilant in their attacks. With God's help we have to guard our hearts and minds when we are grieving.  Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. Romans 8:37

Grief causes the mind to imagine the worst and feel as if we are in a choke hold. The pain from grief is deceiving and the imagination of all is lost can be overwhelming. We can't resist those negative emotions and feelings on our own. We have to draw near to God who will give us what we need  to renew our minds according to James 4:7-8a Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.  Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. 


This picture was taken of my sister n law Glenda fishing with her granddaughter Mackenzie. A great reminder that life is like a vapor which appears for a little while and then vanishes away...James 4:14

Monday, October 27, 2014

Too Much Weight

Whether the burden that weighs us down is one of guilt such as the one that consumed David’s thoughts in Psalms 32, the fear Peter experienced in Matthew 26, or the doubt Thomas carried written in John 20. Jesus has invited us to bring them all to Him: “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” Matthew 11:28.

We are not built to bear our burdens alone. When we cast them on the One who wants to bear our burdens,  He replaces them with forgiveness, healing, and restoration. No burden is too heavy for Him.

Cast your burden on the Lord,
And He shall sustain you;
He shall never permit the righteous to be moved. 
Psalm 55:22

We can hug our hurts and
make a shrine out of  our
sorrows or we can offer
them to God as a sacrifice of
praise. The choice is ours. 
~Richard Exley

 This picture was taken of my youngest daughter in 1991 sleeping 
with one of her poofies that Aunt Glenda bought for her.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Uncertainty!

Often I am asked, "How am I supposed to know if it is God guiding me or just my own thoughts?" There is no simple answer to know for certain but there are some ways to seek where God is leading. Matthew 6:33 tells us to seek God first and He will take care of the rest. If we take time to seek God each day then He will make it more clear to us. When we have a burden to do something out of the ordinary that will benefit someone else besides ourselves then most likely it is God. I think we have such a selfish nature that when we begin to concern ourselves with others it has to be God. 

Will we always have the certainty of where God is leading? Not according to the scriptures as in the case of Jonathan who said these words when he was up against an army and it was just him and his armor bearer....I Samuel 14:6 b.... it may be that the Lord will work for us. For nothing restrains the Lord from saving by many or by few.” He wasn't sure if God wanted him to take this chance but he trusted that God could bring him victory even if it was just two of them against an entire army. God didn't make it clear to him what to do but he visioned a possibility of defeating the army on his own. It could have turned out so horribly wrong but it didn't in this case because God gave him the victory.

Jonathan had a natural doubt and uncertainty on what steps to take but he continued to move forward in faith. That is the lesson when we are up against our own war or wars ~ move forward, take the steps and let God give us the victory!

This picture was taken of a pumpkin I carved 
with my nieces and nephews in Delaware, October 2014.


Friday, October 24, 2014

Overwhelmed?

We all have moments when we are overwhelmed or we don't think too much of life or ourselves at that particular moment. That is when this verse gives so much comfort: “ Though the LORD is on high, he looks upon the lowly, but the proud he knows from afar.” Psalm 138:6

Even though the feeling of being lowly may not always be where we want to be it is usually where we need to be. God meets us there and what better place to be than where we find God. 

Oh, I love being on top of the world and all is good in my days but I have learned not to dread the days that are less than perfect. I find that life is sometimes the opposite of what we believe. A perfect day feels great but I have also felt that my less than perfect days can sometimes be better. When the bottom has fallen out and I have found myself in the land of the abyss it is God's mercy and grace that pulled me out. I can look back in pictures remembering the blessings that came from the difficulty of that moment in time. A good example is when my husband and I look back at the 9 years when he suffered renal failure. We are amazed at all the activities, trips and special moments with our kids and grandkids. It seems to us we shared more together than any other time in both our lives. That was a gift from God because there is no other way to explain how it was even possible.

This picture was taken as we were driving through the state of New York, October 2014.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

We Forget About God Too!

The prophet Samuel reminds his people about how their ancestors forgot about God much the same way they were doing at that present time. I Samuel 12:9-10 And when they forgot the Lord their God, He sold them into the hand of Sisera, commander of the army of Hazor, into the hand of the Philistines, and into the hand of the king of Moab; and they fought against them.  Then they cried out to the Lord, and said, ‘We have sinned, because we have forsaken the Lord and served the Baals and Ashtoreths; but now deliver us from the hand of our enemies, and we will serve You.’

They were no longer grateful for the protection and provisions of God. Recently I was speaking to a young father who was complaining about his circumstances because he felt unappreciated. It was easy for me to see that he lived a blessed life if the only complaint he had was not feeling appreciated. God had given this young man a beautiful family, a home, a job, friends, etc. but his complaint was that he was not appreciated enough. How often do we ourselves not see God's blessings because of a feeling? 

We forget about God when we are complaining to ourselves or to others about our feelings when they outweigh our gratefulness. Let's have an attitude of gratefulness no matter the circumstances and let God know how grateful we are for all He has provided each day!


This is a picture of my husband with our niece's dog when we were visiting in Delaware. I thought the dogs frisbee had a great message.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Opinion Of Others!

John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, once said, “I am sick of opinions. Give me a humble, gentle lover of God and man – a man full or mercy and good fruits, without partiality or hypocrisy. Bigotry is too strong an attachment to our own creed of opinion. How unwilling men are to allow anything good in those who do not agree with them in all things. We must not narrow the cause of God to our own beliefs, but rejoice in goodness wherever it appears.”

John Wesley had to deal with the poor opinion of others as did King Saul in I Samuel 10:26-27 And Saul also went home to Gibeah; and valiant men went with him, whose hearts God had touched. But some rebels said, “How can this man save us?” So they despised him, and brought him no presents. But he held his peace.

God had chosen Saul to be King and still it was not enough for these rebels who despised him for no apparent reason. There will always be those who despise us too. Let us not be guilty of retribution to those who do but instead hold our peace as Saul did and let God deal with our enemies. My son was being picked on by a neighborhood bully when he was young. I told him to pray for this boy and after several years they became close friends for many years. God has a way of changing our hearts and the hearts of others.....

This picture was taken by my niece Theresa when we were 
vacationing in Canada October 2014.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Samuel's Sons

This week I am reading the book of I Samuel which tells a story of a grateful mother who gave her son to God when he was very young. He grew up to be a prophet and leader for the people of Israel. Unfortunately, her grandsons did not grow up to be anything like their father according to I Samuel 8:3 But his sons did not walk in his ways; they turned aside after dishonest gain, took bribes, and perverted justice. Samuels sons did not walk the walk that their father had set as an example of being a servant for God. How disheartening it is to raise children in church and watch them turn away from what they have learned and go against their faith in God. Then I see children who come from a home that showed no glimpse of God and grow up to be Pastors and leaders of the church. 

We learn from what we see in this story as well as the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden where everything was perfect and they had the perfect Father ~ every child has a free will to do what they choose. As parents, we are not so powerful in what we do or don't do that guarantee our children will turn out perfectly. We are all broken living in a broken world so if anything good comes from our children, it is God's goodness and grace. 

Satan uses our children as a tool to beat us down and convince us how much we have failed in all that we do. We will fail that is a given but God can restore and we can only place them in His care. There are so many parents I know my age that I am praying for because of their children right now. Seems to be a similar epidemic of pain in our society. We are all trusting God always for our children and grandchildren.

This is a picture of me with my "grand~girls" taken at church October 5, 2014. 

Monday, October 20, 2014

Prayer

Luke 11:1 "Lord, teach us to pray."

We pray when we need something from God and it is always our first request when all is lost. Prayer is not about getting what we want but instead about getting to know God. Oswald Chambers described it like this: When a man is at his wits' end it is not a cowardly thing to pray, it is the only way he can get into touch with Reality.


Prayer is not so much about changing circumstances as it is in changing us. When we are changed then God gives us what we need to change things around us. For example, when I went through my own divorce God did not restore my marriage. Instead, he restored me to Him and I was able to accept the loss and move forward in the direction God had for my own life. 


God continues to watch over me and I understand more about unanswered prayers. They have all been answered much like a parent with yes and no. As parents we can't give our children everything they ask for but we do try to give them everything they need. God is our parent and understands what is best but through prayer he always changes us. Prayer is more about that change in us than the change of circumstances. 


The change in us is more about our relationship with Him personally. Pastor Rick Warren's son committed suicide and he continues to minister to those around him. God has not failed Pastor Rick but instead taken that misery and created more ministry. I believe God wants to do the same with all of us ~ pray for everything and expect the prayer to change you more than your circumstances.


Adversity is what strengthens us when we pray! 



This picture was taken on my vacation on the beach, May 2013.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Teach Us To Pray

Luke 11:1 "Lord, teach us to pray."

We pray when we need something from God and it is always our first request when all is lost. Prayer is not about getting what we want but instead about getting to know God. Oswald Chambers described it like this: When a man is at his wits' end it is not a cowardly thing to pray, it is the only way he can get into touch with Reality.


Prayer is not so much about changing circumstances as it is in changing us. When we are changed then God gives us what we need to change things around us. For example, when I went through my own divorce God did not restore my marriage. Instead, he restored me to Him and I was able to accept the loss and move forward in the direction God had for my own life. 


God continues to watch over me and I understand more about unanswered prayers. They have all been answered much like a parent with yes and no. As parents we can't give our children everything they ask for but we do try to give them everything they need. God is our parent and understands what is best but through prayer he always changes us. Prayer is more about that change in us than the change of circumstances. 


The change in us is more about our relationship with Him personally. Pastor Rick Warren's son committed suicide and he continues to minister to those around him. God has not failed Pastor Rick but instead taken that misery and created more ministry. I believe God wants to do the same with all of us ~ pray for everything and expect the prayer to change you more than your circumstances.


Adversity is what strengthens us when we pray! 



This picture was taken on my vacation on the beach, May 2013.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Step By Step

He does not lead me year by year
Nor even day by day.
But step by step my path unfolds;
My Lord directs my way.

Tomorrow's paths I do not know,
I only know this minute;
But He will say, "This is the way,
By faith now walk ye in it."

And I am glad that it is so.
Today's enough to bear;
And when tomorrow comes, His grace
Shall far exceed its care.

What need to worry then, or fret?
The God who gave His Son
Holds all my moments in His hand
And gives them, one by one.

-Barbara C. Ryberg

As soon as I pray, You answer me; You encourage me by giving me strength. Psalm 138:3
 
This picture was taken at the beach in Jupiter May 2010.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Strength For Each Day

Each day brings us new challenges; some good and some not so good! We really don't need to prepare for the good things but how do we prepare for the "not so good" that comes at any given moment? We've all been there when we have gotten bad news regarding our health or the health of a loved one. Daily on the news we hear about accidents, job losses, death and so much more. What about all the news regarding the economic uncertainty of our country with all the doom and gloom coming from our politicians? It's no wonder anxiety is so prevalent in our society.

If worry and anxiety helped or did something beneficial I would be the first to tell you since I do both so well. Instead I find it begins to defeat me almost immediately and is of no benefit to us going into any kind of difficult situation.


Judges 6:14-16
Then the LORD turned to him and said, “Go in this might of yours, and you shall save Israel from the hand of the Midianites. Have I not sent you?” So he said to Him, “O my Lord, how can I save Israel? Indeed my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.” And the LORD said to him, “Surely I will be with you, and you shall defeat the Midianites as one man.


This is a picture I took of West Palm from the island on a walk May 2, 2009.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Hand Of God



written July 8, 2009:
I went to watch the sun rise....but it was struggling! Then it was as if the hand of God "embraced" it and the sun began to shine. Amazing! The pictures I took above were just within minutes. 

A reminder when we struggle~God's hand is there to guide us.


Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. -Isaiah 41:10 







Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Weaver

My life is but a weaving
Between my Lord and me,
I cannot choose the colors
He worketh steadily.

Oft times He weaveth sorrow,

And I in foolish pride
Forget He sees the upper
And I, the underside.

Not till the loom is silent

And the shuttles cease to fly
Shall God unroll the canvas
And explain the reason why.

The dark threads are as needful

In the Weaver's skillful hand
As the threads of gold and silver
In the pattern He has planned.

-Grant Colfax Tuller




John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled.


This picture was taken in Savannah, Georgia when we visited in March 2013.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

If I Had My Life To Live Over by Erma Bombeck

(written after she found out she was dying of cancer).

I would have gone to bed when I was sick instead of pretending the earth would go into a holding pattern if I weren't there for the day.

I would have burned the pink candle sculpted like a rose before it melted in storage.

I would have talked less and listened more.

I would have invited friends over to dinner even if the carpet was stained, or the sofa faded.

I would have eaten the popcorn in the 'good' living room and worried much less about the dirt when someone wanted to light a fire in the fireplace.

I would have taken the time to listen to my grandfather ramble about his youth.

I would have shared more of the responsibility carried by my husband.

I would never have insisted the car windows be rolled up on a summer day because my hair had just been teased and sprayed.

I would have sat on the lawn with my grass stains.

I would have cried and laughed less while watching television and more while watching life.

I would never have bought anything just because it was practical, wouldn't show soil, or was guaranteed to last a lifetime.

Instead of wishing away nine months of pregnancy, I'd have cherished every moment and realized that the wonderment growing inside me was the only chance in life to assist God in a miracle.

When my kids kissed me impetuously, I would never have said, 'Later. Now go get washed up for dinner.' There would have been more 'I love you' More 'I'm sorry's.'

But mostly, given another shot at life, I would seize every minute, look at it, and really see it .. live it and never give it back.


This is a picture of a parrot in my yard taken in 2009.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Where Is God In The Hard Times?

Hebrews 13:5b I will never leave thee...

Everyone faces difficulty and no one is exempt from hard times in their life journey since the beginning of time. God has given us the Bible packed with stories of all the difficulty of the saints before us. It shows us how they handled their life circumstances as we face our own trials and tribulations. It is to encourage us no matter what life may throw at us so that we are able to work through and overcome any and all hopeless situations that we may have to face now or in the future.

A quote from German theologian Otto Dibelius, a leader of the anti-Nazi resistance movement in World War II: “God does not lead his children around hardship, but leads them straight through hardship. But he leads! And amidst the hardship, he is nearer to them than ever before.”


God uses men who are weak and feeble enough to lean on him ~ Hudson Taylor




This is a picture I took of my brother at the beach when he was visiting Easter 2012.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Trust Issues!

Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

Trusting God is easy to say but not always easy to do. Sometimes God puts something in my life that I just can't imagine how I am going to possibly manage. Especially when it is something happening to someone I love and there is nothing I can do. There have been times in my life where I have felt like the bottom is falling when I can't see how God will possibly solve the situation. In those moments that there is hopelessness there is nothing else I can do but to trust God.

The Holy Spirit lives inside me and I can sense His urging me to trust. I cannot humanly trust on my own but His Spirit provides that urging, that understanding, that guidance, that peace and comfort. The Spirit calms my fears and gives me courage when I am the weakest. As someone who has gone through the deaths of loved ones, broken relationships, job layoffs, and my husbands renal failure. I can tell you that trusting in the Lord is a lifelong work in progress. Each new crisis brings me all the same fear and pain as before and I have to begin anew. As we begin to see God's loving hand working in our life, the easier this trusting becomes. 

Taking the steps to trust God can lift the weight of the burden and also the responsibility. Once I trust that God is handling my situation I can allow myself to not think about it because He has it under control. Life is so much easier to enjoy when I know that I don't have to control it because God can control it so much better. That doesn't mean it will turn out the way that I would have it to but instead the way God chose to. I trust that God's plan for my life is perfect!



This picture was taken when I visited Spain in May 2012.




Thursday, October 9, 2014

When Our Heart Bleeds

written February 1, 2013:
There are times in everyone's life that causes pain. I don't know why things happen but they do and the best thing I know to do in the midst of all the pain to pray, read God's Word and seek good counsel. On the days that we are not able to even manage a prayer we can ask others to pray for us. Then there are the days that even asking others to pray seems difficult then don't do anything. God will meet us where we are in that moment. In the midst of the pain we should continue to press on even though we don't feel like it. There are moments we don't believe we can make the effort and just need to lie still. We can't see what lies ahead when we are in the midst of the difficulty but we need to trust in God. He is our HOPE. I am grateful to have a God that allows us to cling to Him when all hope is gone!

Pray and seek God in everything! We may not always feel Him during those difficult times but we must trust that He is carrying us.


Jeremiah 29:11-12 For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.

 
I took this picture at sunrise on the beach October 17, 2010 
after my nephew James passed away.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

When I Want To Give Up

III John 1:2
Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in every way and [that your body] may keep well, even as [I know] your soul keeps well and prospers.

devotional written February 22, 2013:
In difficult times it is easy to find ourselves wanting to give up! Some days we feel like all of life's pain and disappointments are going to cause us to die of a broken heart and other days we wish it would. We all have those days, months and even years when the burden just seems too much to bear. 

That is when we need to ask others to pray for us because we usually don't feel like praying or don't know what to pray for and have to trust the love and loyalty of those closest to us. Heavy burdens are not meant to be carried alone and God has always provided someone in my life to help me make them bearable. My Aunt Betty is one of those people that God gave me from the beginning until today to encourage me in my darkest hour. I know she prays for me and loves me like one of her own children. She has given me unconditional love and has always been the hands and feet of Jesus in my life! My Aunt Betty gave me "hope" when I felt "hopeless" ~ 

My Aunt Betty can't be with me in every circumstance even though I know she wants to be but God can and wants me to know that I am never alone. When Jimmy had his transplant I was so full of fear and heartache that I didn't ask anyone to come along because I didn't want anyone to see me in my anguish. I prayed as they began to prep him and asked God to bring me who He thought I would need that day and a few minutes later Jimmy's brother Mark and sister Michelle came walking in to sit and wait with me during the surgery. 

They were perfect for me because they lifted my spirits up as soon as I saw them and the smiles on their faces. We went out for lunch and toured Miami because of all the hours the surgery would take up. We laughed and had such a wonderful day together. When we returned to the hospital we played hide and seek like kids and just enjoyed our time together. It was exactly what I needed and God knew it! I am eternally grateful to them both for being such a light in my darkest hour.....

God has healed my heart so many times and I am trusting Him to heal me in the future! Thank you Lord for all the precious people you have brought to me in my life to show me that you love me ~

 
I took this picture of me and my husband on the beach July 2012.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Reading The Bible

My parents read the Bible to me when I was a little girl and had me in church every time the door was open. My Uncle Darrell taught me to read the Bible from beginning to end when I was a teenager. I was fortunate to have been taught to have daily devotions from the very beginning of my life and something I did with my own children.

When you read the Bible from the beginning to the end it is wonderful to discover something new each time. I don't care how many times I have read through the Bible it is like a new novel each time. I believe the scriptures are so alive that they teach us constantly if we will just take the time to read and meditate. 

The Bible is a book that comes alive with stories and practical truths for us to carry with us each day. I remember my young nephew James asking me when he was a little boy, "what is the meaning of life Aunt Laly?" I said, read the Bible and it will answer that question and any others you may have growing up. He loved our time of reading the Bible together and I always loved his feedback about the lessons in the scriptures. 


Thy word I have hidden in my heart,
That I might not sin against Thee. Psalm 119:11

This picture was taken when we visited Amelia Island this past summer 2014.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Relationships

Watching my children develop relationships with others has certainly taught me so much about the influence of others. In each situation where they have not been careful in choosing who they surround themselves has been detrimental for them personally and to our family. As parents, it is distressing to watch our loved ones being torn apart spiritually and emotionally by others. I find it even more difficult when they allow it to continue.

It was my desire as a mother to teach my children to overcome all those who would threaten their relationship with God and their relationship with our family. I remember my daughter saying about one of her friends, "I don't like who I become when I am with her." This person had so much influence in her behavior that she did not have the strength to even be true to herself. 


We choose to have people in our own lives that will tear us down emotionally and spiritually just like the people of Israel in Judges 2:3 Therefore I also said, I will not drive them out before you; but they shall be thorns in your side, and their gods shall be a snare to you. They had become complacent and no longer obeying God who had given them so much blessing. He warned them that hanging with the wrong crowd would have negative consequences. 


Dear Lord ~ watch over all my children and grandkids relationships. May they choose those who are Godly and pure in heart. 



This picture was taken on a walk in September 2014.




Wednesday, October 1, 2014

~Hope For Tomorrow~

for the Lord your God dried up the waters of the Jordan before you until you had crossed over, as the Lord your God did to the Red Sea, which He dried up before us until we had crossed over, that all the peoples of the earth may know the hand of the Lord, that it is mighty, that you may fear the Lord your God forever.” Joshua 4:23-24

God performed a miracle at the Red Sea and at Jordan by removing the waters so the Israeli nation could cross over on dry land. 

Then Joshua called the twelve men whom he had appointed from the children of Israel, one man from every tribe; and Joshua said to them: “Cross over before the ark of the Lord your God into the midst of the Jordan, and each one of you take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the children of Israel, that this may be a sign among you when your children ask in time to come, saying, ‘What do these stones mean to you?’  Then you shall answer them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord; when it crossed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. And these stones shall be for a memorial to the children of Israel forever.” Joshua 4:4-7

Today we have many ways to share God's goodness and blessings. For me personally I have my photos to always remind me of His blessings. I love to look at them and smile at all the good times of those I love even if they are no longer with me. My prayer journals where I have marked answered prayers is another reminder. I write about His blessing in my blogs to share His blessings with others. 

We really need those reminders of blessings when we are under attack emotionally, spiritually, financially, etc. When the darkness tries to take us we have all the blessings of the past to remind us of the hope for all our tomorrows.....

This picture was taken by my niece Theresa at Sanibel Island, August 2014. Her photos are a work of art!