Saturday, June 24, 2017

THERE IS ALWAYS ROOM FOR HOPE

Several months ago, my husband and I dug up a rose bush from my Mother's house and transplanted it to my house.  You see my Mother passed away in December of 2015 and her house is currently for sale.  She had had this white rose, JOHN F KENNEDY, for years.  It would sometimes be as tall as me and it bloomed prolifically every year.  In fact, it had already bloomed when we dug it up.  I had debated about moving it, but I love roses and since this was Mother's....well, I just wanted it because it was hers.

We brought it home but we didn't set it out for a couple of days due to some heavy rain.  When we set it out, it looked bad.  I wish I had made a picture of it, but unfortunately I didn't.  Just take my word for it, all the leaves had drooped except for one little leaflet near the top.  It remained green and perky.  After about a week, I decided to cut it back and cut all the dead leaves off.  The one little great leaflet remained, still looking good.  The main stalk was also green but the stalk to the outside was black. I knew pretty well that it was a goner, but I waited just a little longer to see.

I REALLY wanted this rose to live.  I prayed more than once, asking God to make it take root and to allow me the joy of having this rose to live.  Day after day I looked and day after day, nothing.  Weeks went by.  Nothing.  I fertilized it.  I watered it.  I prayed over it.

It had probably been 2 months or more when I peeked out the window just above it one morning to see if we'd had any rain the night before, and I could not believe my eyes!  This is what I saw:



The little leaflet at the top right is the one that had failed to die.  All the other little sprouts of leaves were new....having just sprouted almost overnight!  There was even one tiny leaf at the bottom of the black cane, but that cane looked so bad and was so unhealthy, that I cut it off so all I have remaining is the main part.  Thrilled is an understatement!!!!!!!!!!  I thanked the Lord for letting it live and for the sweet blessing He allowed me to have of letting Mother's rose live.

It's been about a month now and this is what it looks like now:


I am so excited!  I can hardly wait for it to bloom!  And what's more, it is so healthy and green!  

Watching this little rose bush literally come back from the dead has reminded me once again of how people can often look hopeless, but to God NO ONE is hopeless!!  God never gives up on us.  We may give up on ourselves.  Others may give up on us. But, God NEVER gives up on us!  As barren as our lives may be, as long as we have breath, there is hope.

There are people in my life that I have prayed for for years.  I see no change.  Yet I know that God is working on the inside and moving and working in ways I cannot see.  I could see no activity within  this rose.  Day after day I looked and hoped to see just a tiny sprout of a leaf.  Yet, there was nothing.  Until one day, suddenly, out of the blue...there came the leaves!  And one day, I truly believe, that God is going to bring life where now there appears to be none.  Beauty for ashes.  

So thank you, God, for reminding me again, that with you, there is ALWAYS hope.  

"Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me?  Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him more and more."  Psalm 43: 5  "For thou art my hope, O Lord God; thou art my trust from my youth."  Psalm 70: 5

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

MARRIAGE ADVICE FROM A HUSBAND

I ran across this on Facebook earlier today.  I was surprised to see that it was written by a man, Timothy Willard on his blog THE EDGES.  I was also greatly moved at his passion for his marriage.
In a day when marriage is under attack from every side, it is very encouraging to hear a man talk so passionately about being proactive above fighting for his marriage.  So I re-post it here and hope that those who read it will re-post it so others can read it and that ripple effect will take place so that many, many husbands will read it and be inspired to be do the same.


FIGHTING FOR MY MARRIAGE

The enemy hates marriage.
Last week a friend texted and asked, “Did you hear about Lysa Terkeurst? So sad.”
I didn’t know what he was talking about so I quickly Googled it. Lysa lives here in Charlotte and runs Proverbs 31 Ministries.
When I found her site, I read the post to which my friend was referring. My heart sank. Lysa informed the public that she “had decided to separate from him [her husband] and pursue a divorce."
Her husband, Art, was “repeatedly unfaithful” to her and was caught in substance abuse. As a man, my heart sank even lower.
I texted my friend: "Bro, the enemy prowls … This is a call to fight for our wives. To love big.”
Then, I thought of my own heart. And how the enemy prowls. And how we are all of us (men and women) susceptible to waywardness and the passions.
So, I scratched down a few vows for myself, as a man who does his best to love his wife and lead his three little pixies in the way Everlasting. I share them with you as kind of a “family memo.” You are, after all, my brothers and sisters.
My heart breaks for Christian marriage. But I realize the best thing I can do to help it is to do my best to keep God at the center of it, and my affections where they need to be.
So, I vow … 
To love big, and stay small. Doing what I need to do to keep the humility of Christ ever in my heart.
To get off my devices and be present for my wife and children.
To let her see me turn away from images I know my heart can’t handle.
To guard my heart, for it is the wellspring of life.
To get into the wilderness regularly. Not just with dudes, but with God.
To seek quiet, stillness, and solitude. To let it breathe through me and into my household.
To show my ladies the value in a good fire, a yummy s’more, and a terrifying ghost story.
To not give in to the rat-race of busy-ness, and be home—not just sitting around, but doing, building, playing, laughing, failing, singing, cooking, loving.
To work harder at being a husband and dad than I do at my job.
To let the blows of God mold me. For when I am in his hands, I am my best self.
To make play with my girls and wife more important than watching football.
To never let my mind get weak by the amusement and entertainment the world flings at me on an hourly basis.
To be active in my church.
To spiritually pastor and lead my household by initiating times of prayer, Bible reading, and worship.
To let praise, to God and to my ladies, be ever on my lips.
To try new things so that I will never stagnate.
To give my wife every opportunity to shine: in her home, in front of her daughters, in front of her friends, in front of her parents.
To buy her that expensive chair, and then sit with her in quiet, reading praying, and dreaming.
To defer whatever power I might think I have to God, and to my wife.
To not fuss over things that don’t matter. Like where we eat after church, or what should hang on the wall, or what movie to watch.
To live as a shield for my wife and pixies—to take on pain, so they won’t have to.
To let my wife know I live, laugh, and sleep with the real Wonder Woman.
To empower my wife’s gifts with my own.
To let her see me cry.
To kiss her just because.
To kiss her again, just because.
And again.
To be honest, to seek truth, but always with a spirit of love and encouragement.
To have the French Press hot when she walks down the stairs.
To let her know how much I learn from her.
To rub her arm in church.
To confess to her during communion.
To speak to her with a heavenly tone, and with words that make the angels cry with jealousy.
To be a warrior-poet for my girls—by setting standards, not just rules, by warding off culture’s constant voice with the sword of my imagination, and by winning the fight for their hearts with a holiness I seek like silver.
To YAWP for my wife; in triumph, in pain, in ecstasy, so we never forget the ferocity of life, and the God who makes it so.
To die. To my self. To my passions. To my lust. Over and over. As many times as it takes. 
 

Monday, June 19, 2017

IT IS WELL WITH MY SOUL....

Music....it stirs and moves the soul and emotions.  Just think about it...there are certain scores from movies that when you hear the first few chords, you immediately can see scenes from the movie. Who can forget the famous "Da-dum, da-dum....da-dum, da-dum, dadum!!!" of Jaws!?

From your past, are there not songs that you can hear today and immediately you are taken back to a certain place in time?  I can hear the music and words to "American Pie" from the 70's and suddenly I'm in an old VW bug cruising around Columbus MS with my college friends or hear "Jeremiah was a Bullfrog" and I'm at one of the few concerts I ever attended...3 Dog Night!

Music is powerful.  King Saul had David play the harp to sooth his tormented mind.  Spa music makes you relax and unwind.  Other music makes you want to tap your foot or dance.  Play Rocky Top and this Tennessee girl is going to clap and sing and cheer her VOLS!!

Today most of what I listen to is from the K-Love radio station, "positive and encouraging K-Love".  I started listening to this station probably 10 years ago or so when I was going through a really rough time.  My mind was being bombarded with fears and anxieties and I needed something to combat the troubling thoughts that Satan was filling my mind with.  I turned to this station and God has used it a million times since to encourage my heart, to lift me up when I am down and to comfort me when I am sad.

I could tell you story after story of songs that God has used in my life.  Yes, God definitely speaks to me in music!

One Sunday a couple of years ago, a new song was played in Church.  I didn't take to it immediately but soon I would find that to change as it began to speak volumes to me about God's love and unending comfort for me during a season that was particularly difficult.  My Mother's health was failing and being an only child I became the parent, a role I did not want but found myself in nonetheless.  Every time I heard this song it reminded me that God was a good, good Father and that He was taking care of me and Mother.  That is the song that I played on this blog yesterday.  It became the backdrop for my life during that season of heartache and loss, but it comforted me more than I can say.

A few Sundays ago, our worship team sang a song and I wept.  It is a powerful song.  It reminds us that no matter what is going on in our life, "thru it all, it is well".  Psalm 46:2 says "Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea" and Habbukkuk 17, 18 says "Though the fig tree does not bud and there is no fruit on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, YET I will triumph in the God of my salvation.  God is my Strength!"  Today I do not know where you are or what you are going through, but I hope that this song will speak to you as much as it did for me of the hope that we have in the Lord.  "Thru it all....it is well with my soul."

A word of thanks and recognition to Chris Copeland, our worship leader and Jenny Baker, lead soloist for a beautiful job.




Sunday, June 18, 2017

MY FATHER IS THE BEST!

As we celebrate Father's Day today, I'm sorry, but I just have to brag.  I have the BEST Father ever!!!!  You see I can honestly say that MY Father has never disappointed me.  He has never lied to me.  He has NEVER failed to keep a promise!! NEVER!!  He has provided for me my entire life.  Whenever I'm down, He picks me up.  Whenever I need help He always has words of wisdom to share.  He is just THE BEST!

Now I know that many of you also have great fathers and you are blessed too.  But I also know some of you whose fathers have walked out on you, have abused you, have abandoned you or worse.  So I just want you to know that MY Father is so kind, so loving, so tenderhearted and His love is so amazing that He wants to love you too if you'll let him.

Yes my Father is the BEST!  Many fathers would do anything to save their child from pain or heartache or even to save their very life.  But mine actually did.  Mine sent His own Son to die for me, to purchase my redemption so that I could spend eternity with Him!!!  And you know what else?  He did it for YOU too!!!!!!!!!

My Father is a good, good Father.  He will never leave me or forsake me.  He has promised to always be with me.  He loves me.  He cares for me.  He holds me in the palm of His hand.  He will never let me down and never let me go.  Oh yes, today I celebrate the BEST Father ever....my good, good Father!!!!






Saturday, June 17, 2017

WHAT IF GOD SAYS NO?





If you have walked with the Lord any time, you know that God DOES answer prayer.  Unequivocally, mercifully and often.  But, there are those times, when things do not work out the way we hoped or prayed that they would.  Then what?  Do we give up on God?  Do we turn our backs on Him, decide we were wrong about Him, or let our hearts grow cold?  That IS Satan's hope and his intent.

This song, EVEN IF, by Mercy Me speaks to all of those feelings.  The first time I heard it I was in a season of fervent prayer over something.  I felt like this song had been written just for me.   God uses songs to really speak to me, to minister to me and to encourage me.  This was one of those songs!

Bart Millard, lead singer for Mercy Me, shares his own personal testimony regarding this song EVEN IF in the video above.   The words "I know you're able and I know you can, save through the fire with Your mighty hand, but EVEN IF YOU DON'T....."  became MY testimony and I pray will be my testimony til my last breath.

Let's face it, we all wish things would always go just as planned, or should I say, just as WE plan!  But God's ways are higher than our ways.  He sees the big picture while we are just looking through the straw.  Huh?  OK....stop and take a picture of something, a picture from a magazine or the newspaper, a flyer from the mail, doesn't really matter.  Then take a straw and look through the straw.  Can you tell what you are looking at? Probably not.  Now remove the straw and look at the WHOLE picture.  Hence "looking through the straw".  God sees the whole story...HIS story and our life is just a tiny piece of that bigger story.  Yet our life is significant to Him and we do have a part in the grand scheme of things.  But we tend to get focused on this one little second rather than trying to see things from God's perspective.

Not only that, but it is not about US.  It's all about Him.  We are so caught up in me, myself and I that we can't see that what is going on with us has a bigger dimension than even we can comprehend and God is working ALL things for our good!

A friend gave me a wonderful little book for Christmas called 31 Days of Praise by Ruth Myers.  It is designed so that every day of the month you will have something scriptural based to praise God for.  One that I have highlighted quite a bit says this "Thank you that You have me in the place You want me just now...that even if I got here through wrong choices or indifference or even rebellion, yet You knew my mistakes and sins before I ever existed and You worked them into Your plan to draw me to Yourself, to mold  and bless me, and to bless others through me.  Thank you that, even if I'm here through ill-will or poor judgment of other people, all is well; for in Your sovereign wisdom You are at work to bring about good results from all those past decisions, those past events beyond my control...good results both for me and for others."

So I am reminded through this song EVEN IF, that God is still on the throne, He is still in control and He can still be trusted EVEN IF He doesn't intervene in the way I hope.  I will cling to Him no matter what because He is faithful and He can be trusted and He does ALL things well!

I hope that you will listen to this song and it will bless you and encourage you today as much as it has blessed me, and if so, that you will pass it along to someone else.