Monday, July 27, 2015

Miss Goody Two Shoes UNABRIDGED

In the eight short months that I have been blogging, the Lord has blessed me with many new friendships throughout the Christian blogging community.  One such relationship is a dear sister in the Lord, Lois, from the Live Nourished Blog.  Lois has a passion for encouraging people and for helping to build them up in their faith in the Lord.  I have found this so very true in my friendship with her.  She has such a big heart and an encouraging spirit.

Lois graciously asked me to share my testimony as a guest on her blog.  I was humbled and honored by her request and joyfully accepted.



Please head on over to Live Nourished to read my full testimony, Miss Goody Two Shoes UNABRIDGED


Addendum:

Early on in writing my blog I shared a post which contained the abridged version of my testimony which you can read here. 

As you just read over at Live Nourished, there was so much more to tell about my journey to salvation.   I am so thankful to Lois for providing me this opportunity to Glorify my Heavenly Father further.  Praising Jesus for His great and wonderful Salvation.


You might find me on these link-ups:
Grace & Truth Link-upWoman to Woman Ministries,  Growing in Grace Link-up, 3DLessonsLif4eLivefree Thursday,Everyday JesusSDG GatheringInspire Me Monday Titus 2 TuesdayA Wise Women Builds Her HomeA Look at the Book,  Sunday StillnessThe Weekend BrewSpiritual Sundays, Soul Survival,  Give Me GraceA Little R&RTestimony TuesdayWomen with Intention WednesdaysStill SaturdayGood Morning MondaysTell His StoryBlessings Counter Link-up Party,Faith & Fellowship Blog HopMotivate and Rejuvenate MondaysBe SaltyMonday's MusingsThe Art of Home-Making MondayTuesday TalkWaiting on Wednesday,Dance with Jesus,Looking Up Link-UpReflect His Love & GloryFriend Sharpens Friend Link-UpWords of Comfort Link-upWholehearted WednesdaysTell it to Me Tuesday

Monday, July 20, 2015

Loving Lexington Grace



Last summer, the Lord surprised me in the most unexpected way!  I didn't even see it coming!  It was then that I found out I was going to become a grandmother!  My daughter and son-in-law hadn't planned to become pregnant at this time, but the Lord, He had plans!   

I admit it was very surreal in the beginning.  You see, the at-home pregnancy tests were all coming up negative.  Even after a doctor's examination, my daughter was told she probably wasn't pregnant, but the doctor sent her for a blood test just to be sure.  It was then that the blood test revealed my daughter was already six weeks pregnant!

My daughter and son-in-law planned a fun way to announce the pregnancy.  My parents, brother and his family were visiting to celebrate my dad's birthday.   My son-in-law found a huge box and put helium balloons inside with the ultrasound picture attached to the balloon string.  He weighted the balloons down inside the box with a rock and wrapped the outside of the box in wrapping paper.  We were all on pins and needles, so excited to share the news, but waiting for the right moment!

My son-in-law is famous for his "crazy" wrapping jobs which he takes great delight in.  So it was not without precedent for him to present a gift to my dad in such a huge box.  When my dad opened the box and the balloons popped out, it took my parents a moment to understand what was going on.   My brother and son exclaimed, "Wait, is that what I think it is?!?!"  I was able to catch all the wonderfully heartfelt reactions on video.

It was such a special time for us all.  I could already see this precious baby was so incredibly loved before one of her days came to be...

As the months went by, I watched my daughter and son-in-law fall more and more in love with their unborn child, imagining what she would look like, wondering about the type of personality she would have, and anticipating the day they would finally meet her...

Lexington Grace was born on March 18th.   Meeting Lexi for the first time was incredible,  yet it was like I had always known her and loved her... Such a powerful love for this perfect, precious baby granddaughter.

I am blessed to have my daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter live with me and my husband for a season.  I am cherishing this time with every fiber of my being.  As such, I am blessed to be a part of little Lexi's life in a close and intimate way.

It's hard to describe the way I feel when holding Lexi; as I wrap my arms around that petite four month old little frame, I just want to envelope her even closer than humanly possible.  My precious grandbaby, little tummy pressed up against me, cute little head looking all around, sweet fingers wrapping around mine - a desire to love and protect with everything I have.

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The scenes described above bring to mind my favorite portion of Scripture, Psalm 139...

God's love for His children is intimate.  For He formed our inward parts; and knitted us together in our mother's womb.  We are fearfully and wonderfully made...  Our frames were not hidden from Him  when we were being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth.  Your eyes saw our unformed substance.  In your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for us, when as yet there were none of them.  Psalm 139:13-16

He desires profound closeness to His children.  Where shall I go from your Spirit, where shall I flee from your presence.  Psalm 139:7

There is no place we can go where the love of God won't pursue us.  If I ascend into Heaven, you are there!  If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!  If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.  If I say, surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night, even the darkness is not dark to you, the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light to you.  Psalm 139:7-12

God's love protects. You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand  upon me...  Psalm 139:5

The Lord is lovingly involved in every part of our lives.  You have searched me and known me!  You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar.  You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all of my ways.  Even before a word is on my tongue, behold O' Lord you know it altogether.  Psalm 139 :1-4

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As I pondered loving Lexington Grace and the words of Psalm 139, I saw with more clarity and felt with more profoundness the presence of my Heavenly Father, holding me so very close, enveloping me with His protection and Love...


Could we with ink the ocean fill,
And were the skies of parchment made;
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
And every man a scribe by trade;
To write the love of God above
Would drain the ocean dry;
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
Though stretched from sky to sky.

{The Love of God is Greater Far - Frederick Martin Lehman}


You might find me on these link-ups:
Grace & Truth Link-upWoman to Woman Ministries,  Growing in Grace Link-up, 3DLessonsLif4eLivefree Thursday,Everyday JesusSDG GatheringInspire Me Monday Titus 2 TuesdayA Wise Women Builds Her HomeA Look at the Book,  Sunday StillnessThe Weekend BrewSpiritual Sundays, Soul Survival,  Give Me GraceA Little R&RTestimony TuesdayWomen with Intention WednesdaysStill SaturdayGood Morning MondaysTell His StoryBlessings Counter Link-up Party,Faith & Fellowship Blog HopMotivate and Rejuvenate MondaysBe SaltyMonday's MusingsThe Art of Home-Making MondayTuesday TalkWaiting on Wednesday,Dance with Jesus,Looking Up Link-UpReflect His Love & GloryFriend Sharpens Friend Link-UpWords of Comfort Link-upWholehearted Wednesdays

Monday, July 13, 2015

Analogy of a Sunflower

 When I was younger, back in the days when I could actually kneel and squat,  I loved to garden. {Now, at 55, it's a scene of utter embarrassment as my arms don't seem strong enough to push my body up off the ground and my knees can't handle this position anymore.  I then end up laughing so hard at the spectacle I must look like!  It's basically, "Help!  I've squatted down and I can't get up!  LOL!}

I miss the therapeutic feeling of working in the dirt.  I am also results oriented and love to see the finished product of pretty plants and flowers in the neatly raked dirt and mulch.

My husband and I were blessed to be able to purchase a home right after we got married.  It was a cute brick cottage right up the street from our town's beach!  I loved decorating it - especially with curtains!  We had windows all around where I hung white, ruffled tie back curtains.  On a warm, pretty May day, my husband and I got up early in the morning to spend time working in our yard. We bought petunias and geraniums to plant in barrels.   I loved standing in the yard looking at our home with tied back curtains and flowers in barrels thinking how homey it looked.

In our current home, when our children were small, we dug along the rock wall in our backyard creating a bed where we planted flowering bushes, flowers and hostas.  The next few evenings, I loved turning on the back spotlight just to look out at the pretty plants lit up in the dark.

It's so interesting how a seemingly simple, insignificant event can become a stand out, very special memory when we are older.

During my gardening days, I was always struck by the fact that I would have a very healthy potted plant, with intertwined roots throughout the soil, blooming beautifully, ready to transplant into the ground, and as soon as I would uproot the flower, it would look good in it's new home, but then inevitably would start to wilt and look very distressed in a matter of minutes!  It was amazing to me how quickly this would happen!  Thankfully, in a day or so of being firmly planted again, they would revive.

This past Mother's Day, my husband bought little peat pots for planting mammoth sunflower seeds.  He watered them every day and within 8-10 days, those little seeds started to burst forth.  I think all but maybe two successfully germinated.

Two weeks ago, before our vacation, the sunflower plants were about 5 inches tall and still pretty spindly.  We left them on the rail of our deck, to soak up the warm sunshine and to receive any rains that might come when we were unable to water them.

When we came home, my husband called for me with astonishment in his voice telling me to come look at the sunflowers.   When I looked out the window, I was amazed!  They had grown at least three times their size and were now hardy, two foot tall, strong looking plants.   If we were home, I think we might have actually seen them grow right before our eyes!  lol.

This weekend my husband transplanted those sunflower plants into the ground next to the back of our house.    As he uprooted each one from the barrel that was their home for the past month, my husband transplanted each one of the sunflowers into the hard dirt - the sunflowers still looking strong and healthy in the process.

Despite this, my husband did question whether the sunflowers would take.  I responded very confidently, "Just look at them, they are so hardy looking.  They will be just fine!"

How soon I had forgotten...  In a matter of minutes, one by one, all seven of them began to wilt.  The leaves hanging their, looking dead and lifeless...


Again, I marveled at how quickly a plant could look so lifeless, minutes after being uprooted...

My husband watered the transplanted sunflowers and by the morning, they were happy once again. But as the sun rose higher in the sky later that day, beating down on the newly transplanted sunflowers, they began to wilt again...

When the sunflower plants were rooted in their original potted homes,  the sun's heat served to strengthen them, and they grew exponentially.  Now, those same sunflowers were suffering and wilting in the heat of the day.  The sun becoming too much for them after being uprooted...

Once the sunflower plant's roots seek refuge deep in the soil of the ground again, they will begin to thrive, as sunflowers always do, reaching toward the sun, unaffected by the heat, growing higher and higher, with bright yellow flowers showing a cheerful display.

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I started to think of my own Spiritual life of late....  Looking much like the wilted sunflower above...

As often happens in life, we go through peaks and valleys in our activities, and our distractions...

Our families and homes are a top priority.  We have obligations, moments to cherish and heartaches to bear...

Some of us have jobs which we may find either quite fulfilling and rewarding, or stressful and burdensome.

And then there are the hours spent blogging...

We wouldn't blog if we didn't enjoy writing or being part of a community where wonderful relationships are formed, where iron sharpens iron, and encouragement is a constant.

But lately, though,  I am allowing life to take away from my Life in Jesus.

None of my day to day activities are bad things in and of themselves, but when they take away from my Bible reading, in the entirety of a day, every day, I have failed to put God in a place of priority and honor.  A God who is ALWAYS desiring to spend time with me and who died for me!

Leaving me feeling spiritually wilted and dead...

Much like the uprooted sunflower looking lifeless, when I am not rooted in the Word of God each day, everything about life seems unsatisfactory, and everything about my efforts feels like a losing battle - failing everyone - especially my Heavenly Father...

Instead of rooting myself in the Word of God, I am unwittingly rooting myself into the activities of the day, which as days go will find me disappointed and frustrated.  When the heat of situations threaten, I wilt and my anxiety and bad mood are evident to all - far from a testimony of contentment in Jesus.

ANALOGY OF A SUNFLOWER

When I saw how quickly the sunflower plant failed soon after it was uprooted, it was such a profound analogy to me of how quickly I can sink into sin and despair when I uproot myself from the Word of God for an extended period of time.

Even more profound was to watch the sunflower plant react so differently to the heat of the sun while deeply rooted and after it had been uprooted.

The deeply rooted sunflower grew rapidly, gaining strength from the sun.

How true is that in life, when we are deeply rooted in the Word of God, fiery trials may come our way, but instead of being defeated, the trials actually strengthen us, growing our faith further.

Therefore, as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed...
Colossians 2:7

Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock.   And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat  on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock.
Matthew 7:24-25

So that the tested genuineness of your faith  - more precious than gold
 that perishes though it is tested by fire - may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ, 
1 Peter 1:7

But when the uprooted sunflower plant was initially transplanted into the hard ground, the hot sun caused it to become distressed with an appearance of dying...

When we have been out of the Word of God for a period of time, fiery trials elicit responses of dismay, anxiety and even disobedience - giving the appearance of spiritual death.

And everyone who hears these Words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand.  And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.
Matthew 7:26-27

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In my years walking with the Lord, I have tried adapting to my circumstances, making sure that I have found time to spend in the study of God's Word.  

As a new believer, I couldn't get enough of the Word.  I was involved in a small group Bible study, and also independently spent time daily in the Scriptures.

When my children were small, a sister in the Lord spurred me on to read my Bible before my feet hit the floor in the morning.  She encouraged me to set my alarm to allow for time in God's Word.

During my homeschooling and home business years, I had a Bible on the kitchen table where I would read it during my breakfast and lunchtime.  I also had a Bible in the bathroom, and well, you get the gist of that.  lol.  I also attended Sunday evening services and Sunday School, each of which went through a separate book of the Bible.  That was such a rich time in my life where I grew exponentially in my knowledge of Scripture and my understanding of my God and Father.

During my brief empty nest stage, I was able to devote entire afternoons to the Word and in prayer.  I cherish those days...

I'm not sure why in this season of my life, it has taken me so long to establish a new study and prayer time that works for me.  Many excuses are popping into my head as to why, but this isn't about excuses, it is about how I will move forward to ensure meaningful time in the Word.

As I was reviewing all the ways I made time for the Word in the past, I am realizing that for me, at this stage of my life, where I'm outside of the home working three days a week, or very busy inside the home otherwise, I can apply all of the above to aid in my daily intake of the Word.

But, at this point in time especially, I find I absorb the Word more effectively when I am reading with purpose.  It is important for me to make a serious effort to set aside time each and every day to do an intentional Bible study, reading a portion of Scripture and answering questions related to the text.  

Our church has small group Bible studies which my husband and I participated in this past winter and plan on restarting in the Fall.  Our schedules this summer made it difficult for us to join a small group at this time.  But, I am blessed to have the small group questions printed in the church bulletin for my own personal use which I am going to begin using for my study.

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Have you ever noticed that the more water you drink, the more thirsty you become.  And for me, anyway, the more food I eat, the hungrier I am just a few hours later!

I have found this true of God's Word, the more time I spend in the Scriptures, the more I crave it!

But he answered and said,  It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every Word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.
Matthew 4:4

If you abide in my Word you are truly my disciples, and you will know
 the Truth and the Truth will set you free.
John 8:31-32

May we all be like the sunflower, deeply rooted, reaching for the Son.





Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly..
Colossians 3:16

You might find me on these link-ups:
Grace & Truth Link-upWoman to Woman Ministries,  Growing in Grace Link-up, 3DLessonsLif4eLivefree Thursday,Everyday JesusSDG GatheringInspire Me Monday Titus 2 TuesdayA Wise Women Builds Her HomeA Look at the Book,  Sunday StillnessThe Weekend BrewSpiritual Sundays, Soul Survival,  Give Me GraceA Little R&RTestimony TuesdayWomen with Intention WednesdaysStill SaturdayGood Morning MondaysTell His StoryBlessings Counter Link-up Party,Faith & Fellowship Blog HopMotivate and Rejuvenate MondaysBe SaltyMonday's MusingsThe Art of Home-Making MondayTuesday TalkWaiting on Wednesday,Dance with Jesus,Looking Up Link-UpReflect His Love & GloryFriend Sharpens Friend Link-UpWholehearted Wednesdays

Monday, July 6, 2015

Standing on the Word of God


In the chain of human events, the birthday of the nation is indissolubly  linked with the birthday of the Savior.  The Declaration of Independence laid the cornerstone of human government upon the first precepts of Christianity.
John Quincy Adams

I confess, there was a part of me that was afraid to make a comment about the recent SCOTUS ruling on gay marriage.  My fear of speaking out did not stem from the Gay and Lesbian community and its supporters, my fear came from fellow Christians...

Fear born out of grief and dismay watching fellow Christians rebuke Believers who are standing on the Word of God and it's clear admonition against homosexuality, calling them judgmental - not showing the love of Christ.  

I was then convicted by the Holy Spirit to defend the Word of God...

For whoever is ashamed of Me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when He comes in glory of His Father with the holy angels.  
Mark 8:38

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The words I am about to write, I am saying as the "Chief of Sinners".   No person's sin is greater than the other.
For all have sinned and fall short of the Glory of God.
Romans 3:23
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Standing on the Word of God

Those who know me well can tell you that I do not like to be accused of a motive that has never even entered into my thoughts, let alone shown itself in my actions.

When I meet someone, anyone, I am loving, kind and respectful, no matter what their sexual orientation.  It would never even enter my mind to treat a gay or lesbian person differently than I would anyone else.  I personally have had people in my life who are gay and lesbian and very much enjoyed spending time with them - just like I would anyone else.  

The same could be said of an acquaintance or friend who has had an adulterous affair.  I will still spend time with them, treating them with love and respect.  

I believe that God's Word is very black and white and not up for interpretation when it comes to admonishing the sin of homosexuality and of adultery.

Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable. 
 Leviticus 18:22

Because of this, God gave them over to their shameful lusts.  Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones.  In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another.  Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.  
Romans 1:26-27

Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.  
Hebrews 13:4

You shall not commit adultery.
Excodus 20:14

The comparison of  homosexuality and adultery helps to make the point of the Bible's clear, black and white warnings and consequences against both sins.  

Christians and non-Christians alike find adultery to be reprehensible.  Why then is homosexuality now up for interpretation by a growing number of Christians??  Why is the gay marriage narrative among some Christians about accusations of judgmentalness and lack of emulating Christ's love to the gay community rather than leading those who are going astray to the way Everlasting.

Sadly, I am watching many churches rethink their position on gay marriage, some even accepting and approving same-sex marriage.  Compromising the Word of God...

Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches the others to do the same, shall be called least in the Kingdom of Heaven, but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven.
Matthew 5:18

This is such a slippery slope.  If churches are not going to call sin sin, what will any of us need a Savior from??  What other compromises will be made from the Word of God.  Will adultery become acceptable??  Will the multitude of my besetting sins be okay in the church's eyes??  

If the modern day church embraces gay marriage, how is that showing the love of Christ? 

For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines.  
Hebrews 12:6



God's church is called to teach the precepts of God through his Holy Word; enacting discipline where necessary.  

THIS is showing the love of Christ.  This is NOT judgmentalness.

We are the hands and feet of the Church.  If we see a friend or loved one in the throws of addiction, adultery or any sinful behavior we reach out to them, hoping to help them in their struggle, leading them TO Christ or BRINGING THEM BACK TO Christ.

Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should 
restore him in a spirit of gentleness...
Galations 6:1

THIS is showing the love of Christ.  This is NOT judgmentalness.

Essentially, the narrative condemning fellow Christians who are standing on the Word of God concerning the sin of homosexuality is actually a narrative of WITHHOLDING God's love.

Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you strike him with a rod, he will not die.  
Proverbs 23:13

The most loving aspect of parenting is to teach our children right from wrong so that they will avoid painful circumstances that come with disobedience.

The most loving aspect of the Church to it's congregation is to stand on the Word of God, faithfully teaching its precepts, lovingly administering wise counsel and discipline to believers and unbelievers alike who have fallen into sin so that they will either be restored to Christ or avoid eternal life without God.

For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost and is found.  And they began to celebrate. Luke 15:24

By re-interpreting Scripture and accepting and approving sinful behavior in our churches, I shutter to think of what the church will look like in the years to come, as sin becomes taboo to share from the pulpit, leaving those in the congregation who don't know the Lord without knowledge of why they would need a Savior in the first place, and those of us who do know the Lord without conviction to repent of our sinful behaviors.

 A WHOLE New World
Independence Day had a bittersweet meaning for me this year in the shadow of the SCOTUS ruling on gay marriage when the Supreme Court disregarded the will of a majority of Americans and the will of the Lord, moving forward with the White House's own political agenda...  Our Christian nation barely recognizable...

When our founding fathers came to this country, they came to establish a New World where they could serve God Almighty freely.

We have this day [Fourth of July] restored the Sovereign to whom all men ought be be obedient.  He reigns in Heaven, and from the rising to the setting sun, let His Kingdom come.
Samuel Adams

The [Fourth of July] ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty.
John Adams


The general principals on which the fathers achieved independence were the general principles of Christianity.  I will avow that I then believed, and now believe, that those general principles of Christianity are as eternal and immutable as the existence and attributes of God.  
John Adams

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Oh, that our Nation would return to the Lord; that our churches would conduct themselves as Holy and Separate, living in the world, but not of the World; that Christ's love would be evident through His people holding fast to the Word of God , unwavering, sharing a Gospel of repentence and believing in Christ's atonement for sins that leads to freedom in Christ and eternal life.


You might find me on these link-ups:
Grace & Truth Link-upWoman to Woman Ministries,  Growing in Grace Link-up, 3DLessonsLif4eLivefree Thursday,Everyday JesusSDG GatheringInspire Me Monday, Titus 2 TuesdayA Wise Women Builds Her HomeA Look at the Book,  Sunday StillnessThe Weekend BrewSpiritual Sundays, Soul Survival,  Give Me GraceA Little R&RTestimony TuesdayWomen with Intention WednesdaysStill SaturdayGood Morning MondaysTell His StoryBlessings Counter Link-up Party,Faith & Fellowship Blog HopMotivate and Rejuvenate MondaysBe SaltyMonday's MusingsThe Art of Home-Making MondayTuesday TalkWaiting on Wednesday,Dance with Jesus,Looking Up Link-UpReflect His Love & GloryFriend Sharpens FriendWholehearted Wednesdays