Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Clearly Evident

On this Thankful Thursday I would like to give thanks for the wonderful trip my husband and I recently took.

We enjoyed a great week in Charleston, SC, as we celebrated our 30th Anniversary. It was a glorious reunion after being separated for 15 days, as my husband was away for his job!

The city was charming; the weather was great; and we could not of had a better time together. Our actual anniversary is August 12th, but my hubby will be leaving again to go back to Iowa tomorrow to finish his project. I miss him already!

I’d also like to give thanks for three special ladies who blessed me while I was away on my trip.

First, for Laurie Ann from Magnolia Heartbeats, and second for Tracy from Blessings Overflow, who surprised me with the “Kind Blogger” award! I was so deeply touched and honored by their recognition. Thank you for this beautiful expression of love. And third, for Deborah from Chocolate and Coffee, who blessed me with the “Brilliant Weblog” award.

I’ve grown so much since I began blogging, and I’m very grateful for the friendships God has blessed me with through this ministry. Thank you all for touching my life with your words, your writings, and your great passion for the Lord.

I’d like to conclude with a scripture-prayer that I want to send out to all of you:

“Every time I think of you — and I think of you often — I thank God for your lives of free and open access to God, given by Jesus. There's no end to what has happened in you — it's beyond speech, beyond knowledge. The evidence of Christ has been clearly verified in your lives.”

I Corth. 1:4-6 (The Message)

Please join us over at Iris's place, Sting My Heart and see what other grateful hearts are thanking God for.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Bringing Good News!

Being unwanted, unloved, uncared for, forgotten by everybody, I think that is a much greater hunger, a much greater poverty than the person who has nothing to eat…We must find each other.” ~Mother Teresa~

Uncared for

We may all have experienced these types of feelings to some degree at one time or another in our lives. However, we live in the most prosperous nation in the world. We have all the modern conveniences right at our finger tips. We have homes with electricity and running water; we are kept cool in the summers, and warm in the winter. We drive beautiful cars, and have pantries and refrigerators filled with food.

For most of us, our births were eagerly anticipated and celebrated. We were raised by loving parents who worked hard to give us a future. But we are among a very elite percent of the world’s population. I recently read over 3.6 billion people strive to survive on less that $2 per day! Sometimes it’s hard to relate to those who are truly forsaken when we live in such a prosperous society.

Now turn the page. Have you ever really felt hunger? No, not just that nagging little ache after missing a meal or two, but really hungry? Have you ever been very sick with no hope of seeing a doctor or getting needed medicine? Have you ever wandered in the streets begging for a penny to buy a morsel of food? While this may seem very far removed from our conscience, a huge percent of the world lives this way everyday.

Mother Theresa witnessed some of the greatest levels of poverty and starvation ever seen by man. And yet, she described the necessity to be loved, cared for, and wanted as the most desperate need of mankind. She knew hunger, thirst, and the basic necessities of life could be met, but a soul that is forsaken is without hope.

I believe the greatest lie of the Satan is to deceive us into believing we are unwanted, uncared for, and forgotten. We can have all the power, possessions, and prestige this world has to offer, but to feel forsaken and unloved can pull even the mightiest person into the darkness of these lies.

The Christian life cannot be lived individually. We are our brother’s keepers. The Lord has given us the responsibility to help bring restoration, hope and healing to all those in need. Opportunities abound; the needs are all around us. It may be a co-worker, neighbor, friend, or relative. We just need to allow the Holy Spirit to show us who needs to know that they are loved and cared for by a great and merciful God. Will you take the time to listen?

Please join us over today at Amy's In Pursuit of Proverbs 31 and see what others have written on this powerful quote. Thanks for stopping by today.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

A Great Reward

Children's children are a crown to the aged... Proverbs 17:6

On this Word-filled Wednesday I’d like to thank God for the joy and honor of being a grandmother! For those of you who also share the joy of having grandchildren, you know as well as I do, that life just doesn’t get any better then this.

For me, being a grandmother is one of the greatest rewards for all the challenges and sacrifices I went through while raising my own children. I never had the privilege of knowing my own grandparents, and as a young girl I really missed not having them living close by like so many of my friends.

So now it’s my turn to be to my grandchildren all that I desired to have as a child but never did. There is nothing more that I enjoy then getting to spend time with my girls! They fill my life with joy and laughter. I love dressing them up, having tea parties, reading and pretending with them. We sing, we dance, we stay up late, and what happens at Grammy’s stays at Grammy’s!

As mothers, we are the builders of our homes, but the building does not stop once our children are grown. We now have the honor of praying for and playing a key role in shaping the lives of our next generation. We get the honor to watch them grow, and then send the little darlings home to mommy and daddy at the end of their visit! He He...

In the picture above I’m standing with my wonderful daughter-in-love Kristin. I’m so blessed my son choose such a godly woman to be his wife. I love her like my very own and we share a beautiful relationship. Thank you Kristin for blessing our lives in more ways then you’ll ever know.

We are also excited about the newest addition coming in September. Yes, our very first grandson. Oh my, how good and gracious God has been to us.

If I had known how wonderful it would be to have grandchildren, I'd have had them first. ~Lois Wyse

Join us over at The 160 Acres Woods today.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Facing The Giants

As I was recently sitting at our local dental school, waiting for my son who was having some work done, I noticed the newspaper sitting on a chair across from me. Since I had lots of time to spare, I walked over, picked it up, and began to read.

It seemed like each article I read was more dreary then the one before. Next thing you know I was meditating on the terrible condition and plight of our world.

· Gas prices continue to rise
· The war in Iraq and Afghanistan
· The failing economy
· College tuition's rising
· The upcoming election
· And of course all the hideous crime stories sandwiched in-between.

OK, I suddenly began to feel like the Israelites might have felt as they stood on the edge of the promise land. I was not seeing the blessings God, but only the GIANTS that were everywhere! I began to sympathize with the Israelites because I could see how all the bad things they were facing, and how the things they saw must have overwhelmed their faith to possess the land.

Now if the world conditions all around me were not bad enough, I thought about my own personal giants. For me it’s the giant of fear, that I formed an alliance with and unbelief. God instructed the Israelites to simply explore the land.
He already knew what was out there and what they would be facing.
However, He wanted them to pass the test of “trust and believe”. Simple enough you would think, BUT…

Please join me over at the Internet Cafe to read the rest of this story.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Rise & Shine

On this “Thankful Thursday” I’m so excited and grateful for the tremendous Women’s Conference, which is beginning tonight at our home church! I really wanted to attend the Deeper Still Conference in Atlanta this year, but that was not what was in the Lord’s plans for me.

Now I am blessed that the Radiant Conference is right here at our home church. The advertisement for the event reads, “This summer will be more then hot, it will be RADIANT!” The worship will be lead by a recording artist Donna Lasit, and our three primary guest speakers will be Alicia Chole, (I’ve already heard she is great, thanks Elaine), Beth Grant, a missionary to Eurasia, and our precious Pastor’s wife Melanie Stockstill.

I’m just thrilled I won’t have to pack up and go out of town for some great fellowship, powerful worship, and revelation from God’s word being presented by these anointed teachers. I’m ready to go!

I’m missing my hubby more and more each day as he’s still out of town for work. Please pray for God’s protection over him and that somehow God would speed up the clock and get him home soon! However, I’m still thankful for God’s provision and the fact that he has been blessed to go help out with this mission.

Today I going to close on a more serious note. You may recall a while back I requested prayer for a friend’s son who was about to have brain surgery. I met Nick’s mom from reading her blog.

Nick recovered well, but in his most recent MRI the news was not good. As I sit here and type these words my heart is breaking for Tammy and her family. She’s hearing the words that I once sat in a waiting room fearing that I might hear myself. Please join me in prayer for this family. I’ll end with some beautiful words Tammy recently shared on her blog:

"I keep telling myself that He (God) was not surprised at the news we received today, and He is still on His throne loving Nick and smoothing the rough road ahead of us.What more can I ask for?"

Let’s join hands and hearts to support this family as they face these difficult times.

Thanks so much for stopping by today. Iris is hosting Thankful Thursday, so why not stop by and let others know what you are grateful for today.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Free At Last!

In Proverbs we read, “Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever
trusts in the Lord is kept safe.” (Proverbs 29:25)

I don’t think I’ve ever met a person who does not want to be liked, admired, and valued for who they are and what they do.

As I watch my young grand-daughters play, it doesn’t take much time before they are trying to get my attention and approval. “Look at me Grammy”, one will say…and the next moment the other will be in tears if I didn’t show my approval for the little pictured they just colored. Now as innocent as this may seem, I remember doing the very same thing as a little girl.

First it was the approval of my parents, then my teacher, and friends. I wanted affirmation. I wanted to know I measured up. By nature I was a pleaser and at times I still battle with this.

As a young minister’s wife this became not only a burden in my life, but it caused me to walk in fear. I slowly began to loose my joy in serving the Lord. I became part of a vicious cycle of pleasing others and wondering if I met all the expectations of our church members.

Ladies, let me just interject here to remember to pray, love and honor your pastor’s wife. She needs to know you love her and are there no matter what she may or may do.

The most liberating thing I ever did, after receiving counsel from my spiritual mom, was just to be honest with the women in my church about my fears and insecurities. She told me they would love me more if I was real and vulnerable. It was a risk, and I must say I was petrified to do it.

I’ll never forget that ladies meeting when I stood up and shared my heart with a room full of eyes that seemed to look strait through me. I was so nervous I was shaking as I spoke. At the end the meeting the women began to form a line to thank me. I stood there and wept as each one hugged me and shared many of their own insecurities with me.

Freedom, freedom I continued to cry all the way home. I felt like I could literally fly. This was the beginning of learning how to truly please God and not man for the first time in my life, and I made a pledge to never turn back.

I sought the LORD, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. (Psalm 34:4)

Am I totally set free? Don’t ever believe that, but now I enjoy a freedom I didn’t have before. My focus and passion is to please Jesus, the one whom my soul loves most.

How was this post? Please tell me it was OK?

Please join us over at Shortybears place today to see what others have said about this amazing quote!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Never Alone!

On this TSMS Saturday I would like to declare this awesome proclamation, I AM NOT ALONE! My husband was called by his company to fly out to Cedar Rapids, Iowa to work on the recovery effort to rebuild a Cargill corn oil refinery that was shut down because of the recent floods up there. The team he is a part of gained much expertise in these types of disaster rebuilds from the work they did on many plants and refineries down here after Hurricane Katrina.

I was not a happy camper upon receiving the news on a one-day notice, but I'm blessed he has the opportunity to go help out. Please agree with me in prayer for his safety and for all those in Iowa that have been affected by the flooding. It seems like we are witnessing so many natural disasters all over the country and world this days. As Christians, we must allow to let our lights shine ever brighter in these dark days that are coming upon the world.

I'm so blessed that no matter what happens in our lives we can be assured, we are NEVER ALONE.

Please join us over at Signs, Miracles and Wonders to see some other awesome videos today.

If you get a chance stop by on Sunday, I'll be at the Cafe! Thanks...

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

A Family Celebration!

On this Thankful Thursday I'd like to give thanks for a wonderful Family Reunion we had at my sister's home on the 4th of July. I was so blessed to see my brother who flew in from the Midwest and his two sons who flew in from the East Coast. My niece and her family flew in from Arizona, and I also got to visit with all of my other nieces and nephews that I don't get to spend much time with anymore.

The weather was great, and the food just kept coming. So many wonderful memories were made as we celebrated the holiday together. Mark, my younger sister's son, was born on the 4th of July, so we also celebrated his birthday. Mark is currently serving full time in the Army and recently came back from a deployment in South Korea. We are so grateful for all the sacrifices that so many make to protect our freedom, and what better time to show that appreciation than on Independence Day. We concluded the night with a huge fireworks display that all the kids (young and old) enjoyed.

I'm so thankful that even though the years are passing by our family has remained a very close. Many things change, but families are forever!

Here are a few pictures that help capture what our special day together!

~Grammy's sweet girls!~

~My precious Jordan!~

~Justin, Megan and Jenny~

Mrs. Gudian, I've known since I was 5!

~My nephew Mark!~

~My sisters Mary, Stephanie and brother William~

~My nieces and daughter in law~

~My youngest son Joel and Courtney~
Please join us at Sting My Heart today!

Monday, July 7, 2008

My Faithful Friend

In Proverbs 17:17 we find a very comforting promise:

“A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need.”

I’m so grateful for the many friends the Lord has brought to walk along side of me in my life’s pilgrimage. It would take way too many words to write about all of the precious gifts of friendship the Lord has so graciously given to me.

Today however, I’d like to honor one very dear and special friend who has been with me through thick and thin. She has stood by my side during some of my darkest days, and was even there as I gave birth to my last son. These are the kinds of moments only the closest of friends get to experience.

It only takes 5 letters to spell her name, Cyndy, but it would take volumes to tell our whole story.

Our friendship began over 26 years ago. For some of you reading this, it may be before you were born, but for me it seems like yesterday! These have been years filled with laughter and tears, countless hours talking on the phone, vacations together, overseas mission trips, and long lazy visits where time was of no concern. Our relationship began with the exchange of a simple handwritten note that spilled over into a lifelong friendship that I treasure until this very day.

When I met Cyndy she was a young Christian who had just received salvation. She was hungry for the things of the Lord, and was bold in her pursuit of Him. With Cyndy there was no pretense or facade. She was honest, straightforward, and for her loyalty came so naturally.

I of course don’t have enough time to write about the countless ways she has blessed my life. There were dinners made when I was sick, many generous gifts, and beautiful cards given at all of my special events. Cyndy helped me pack and unpack with every move and she was just there whenever I needed her. When my son Jordan was at St Jude going through radiation she packed up her things and came to Memphis to stay with me at the Ronald McDonald House. There seems to be no end to her spirit of giving. We have boxes full of letters exchanged, and too many emails to count, all filled with affirmation and encouragement that many times have caused me to keep on going when I wanted to quit.

Last year she surprised me with a beautiful handmade quilt, something I’ll cherish forever, and still enjoy everyday as I snuggle up to read a book in my Lazy Boy.

She makes me think; she makes me laugh; and she is always there. She’s faithful; she’s tender; and she a great secret keeper! She’s witty; she’s fun; but she can be very serious and tell me what’s on her mind. She is brimming with gifts that I have enjoyed all the more as our friendship has deepened over the years.

So today, I would like to thank you, “Cynthia Jean”, for being that Proverbs 17:17 friend. I cherish and appreciate this gracious gift we call “our friendship”. The Lord has blessed us over these years, and I look forward to sharing many more memories with you in the future.

Please join us today at Bonnie's Ink It Blog to see what others have shared. Thanks for stopping by today!

A Work In Progress

On the last weekend in July my hubby and I will sneak away to Charleston, South Carolina to recharge and rekindle our romance as we celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary.

Yes, those flames are still burning after all these years, but let me warn you, it doesn’t just happen by itself. Marriage is a commitment that takes a great deal of work, dedication, and a whole lot of self-denial to keep passion alive.

I wish I could tell you these 30 years have been a joy-ride, or paint a picture of sheer splendor and delight, but the truth is marriage takes hard work and many times it is like an uphill climb.

Although I’ve been blessed with a man who’s love language is service, (and yes, I’m spoiled!) there are still other areas that we both lack in, and often fall short of the mark, especially me!

OK, can I be real with you today?

Because of an extremely dysfunctional childhood, (something I’ve been told would make a best selling novel or movie) I walked up the aisle 30 years ago on one hot August afternoon with a load of luggage. Now I don’t mean carrying an over-night bag, I’m talking about packing for a world cruise.

After exchanging our carefully written vows and a wonderful reception, the challenge began. I came into my marriage as an insecure young woman not only full of hopes and dreams, but many fears and insecurities. I needed Jesus’ healing balm in a desperate way. It took many years, lots of tears, and a good number of “intense fellowships” to come to a place of surrender and freedom.

Success in marriage does not come merely through finding the right mate, but through being the right mate. ~Barnett R. Brickner

Now, I have not by any means, arrived…but

Today I’d like to share a few tips from the battleground; words that were spoken to me by my Titus 2 mentors. These were women who were tenacious, brave, and uncompromising as they spoke into my life. Many times just the weight of these words seemed unbearable and unfair. I wanted to say, “I quit”, when advice that seemed hard was offered, and I constantly questioned why these exhortations were always spoken to me and NOT my to my husband!

OK, who said things would be FAIR?

Here are a couple simple declarations I had to make too many times to count. I pray they will be helpful to you as you pursue a marriage that is both beautiful and a clear reflection of Christ and his bride. A marriage that is Christ centered.

The first assignment given to me one day after a long lunch was learning to say three simple little words. I must admit that I almost chocked on them at first. After all, this was rarely the case…right? At least I thought so.

I was wrong…

Now, if there is anything that robs you of your rights, and causes you to wave a flag of surrender, it is these words. My instruction was to say them even when I if I thought I was right? Hmmm, could not figure that one out. But pride is stronghold that does not relent without total release.

You can never be happily married to another until you get a divorce from yourself. A successful marriage demands a certain death to self. ~Jerry McCant

My second three-word assignment was always be ready to say…

Please forgive me or I forgive you

At first I thought that seemed simple enough. I can do this one; that was until I thought of all the justifications I had for my actions. After all, if my husband was doing what he was “supposed to be doing” I would not have reacted the way I did. Oh boy, I was a very slow learner.

A happy marriage is the union of two good forgivers. ~Ruth Bell Graham

It’s been hard work, but oh, let me tell you the pay off is worth it in the end!

If the foundations of our marriages are truly built on solid ground, we can survive the storms, hurricanes and tsunamis that try to destroy our homes daily.

I realize that as I type this, there are many out there who have endured abuse, infidelity and many other painful situations that were not in their control. I’ve been a witness to this in my own family and with several very close friends. The fact still remains that there is always hope, and God is always ready to help those who truly desire to be able to stand by their commitments and have their marriage be testimony of the faithfulness of God.

Our wedding was many years ago, but the celebration continues to this day. ~Gene Perret

Please join us today over at Chrysalis to see what others have written about their marriage's today. E-mom has posted some pictures from her daughter's wedding. They are so beautiful! Let's celebrate with her today.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Paid In Full

On this Thankful Thursday, the day before the 4th of July, I'm thankful for the FREEDOM we have in America, but even more than that, I’m rejoicing with a grateful heart for the TOTAL FREEEDOM I have found in Christ.

Once bound in chains and a slave to sin, God in his loving mercy and grace has gloriously set me F-R-E-E.

Today I will thank Him for the freedom He has given me to:

* Love

* Pray

* Hope

* Dream

* Believe

* Serve

And the list goes on and on…!

What a privilege it is to proclaim the greatness, the goodness, and the glory of our mighty God. His love has no limits, and his faithfulness is to all generations.

“Lord I thank you for the ultimate price that was paid for us to walk in freedom. As we celebrate this special holiday in our nation this week, let us always remember it was the blood that was shed on the cross that won our deliverance. Watch over those soldiers serving our nation during this time of war and their families back home. Give us a heart to cry out and pray for those who are in leadership now. Let us never forget the foundation of faith that this nation was built upon. May You Be glorified Oh Lord, as we bless your holy name: Amen

Happy 4th of July!

Please join other grateful hearts over at Sting My Heart!