Monday, October 31, 2016

If It's Free It's For Me!




Years ago, our family went on a vacation to Northern Vermont.  We toured many of the dairy farms that dot the countryside.  It was quite fascinating to see the process milk goes through before it comes to the stores, and it was especially interesting to see the steps Vermont's famous cheese goes through to become properly aged.

During our daily travels, we would stop at various roadside country stores where we could always count on a display filled with samples of Vermont cheeses in every flavor variety.  There were also crackers set out to allow for a sample taste of delicious specialty toppings.  I'm pretty sure I remember some of these stops having samples of fudge available too!  You could pretty much make a meal out of all these free samples!

And that's when my husband coined the phrase, "IF IT'S FREE IT'S FOR ME!"  lol.

There certainly was a "method to the madness" of these roadside stores offering so many free samples - to draw in customers to the wonderful tastes of Vermont.  And it worked!  We were certainly one of those customers as evidenced by our family's tradition of having smoked cheddar cheese while enjoying a campfire.

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

In this time of a struggling economy, where families are finding it hard to make ends meet, having access to "free stuff" is certainly a blessing.  

My daughter and son-in-law will be moving into their new home this weekend.  Just starting out, they don't have much in the way of furniture and thankfully, have been offered couches, bedroom furniture and brand new mattresses.  All free and all graciously accepted, as they recognize the true blessing they have received.

Craigslist is such a huge trend now.  When entered into with discernment, you can find many people offering to give items away for free.  "One man's junk is another man's treasure".

Tonight sadly, my husband and I witnessed what appeared to be a case of shoplifting.  The person was parked outside a major department store right next to our car, but his car was running.  As I locked my door, I happened to notice him taking pictures of men's shirts draped over the back of his backseat, still on the hangers.  At first I thought this odd, but it became more apparent what was going on when a minute later, I saw a woman running from the department store door through the parking lot carrying what looked like 15 toddler outfits - still on hangers with no bag and no evidence that she had a pocketbook.  

As we drove away, I wondered if this family was so desperate that they resorted to desperate measures.  Maybe this is something that was so out of character for them.  I don't know...   But instead of making payment for the items, they took the clothes as if they were free...

There are many things in this world we can receive for free, but there is only One thing that we can take in this life without making payment, and that is the free gift of Eternal Life through Christ Jesus.


For the wages of sin is death, 
but the free gift of God is eternal life 
in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 6:23


Jesus died on the cross so that the debt WE owed, for all of our sins, would be marked PAID IN FULL.  

When we confess our sins to God, and believe that the death and resurrection of Christ Jesus paid our sin debt in full; turn away from our sins and accept Jesus as Lord and Savior, we can take the free gift of Eternal Life where a wellspring of many other free gifts will flow through to us...


The free gift of the Holy Spirit, our Helper, our guide...

But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you. 
John 14:26

However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you.
John 16:13-15 

The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him— the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of might, the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the LORD— 
Isaiah 11:2


The free gift of peace...

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.
John 14:27

In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.
Psalm 4:8

And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, 
will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:7


The free gift of wisdom...

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, 
and it will be given him.
James 1:5

For I will give you a mouth and wisdom, 
which none of your adversaries will be able to withstand or contradict.
Luke 21:15


The free gift of knowledge and understanding...

For the LORD gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.
Proverbs 2:6

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.
Psalm 32:8

For wisdom will come into your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul;
Proverbs 2:10


The free gift of profound love...

In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us 
and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
1 John 4:10

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:35-39

But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Romans 5:8

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

John 3:16

...I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.
Jeremiah 31:3

And to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge,
 that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
Ephesians 3:19

For as high as the heavens are above the earth, 
so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
Psalm 103:11


If you haven't taken the free gift of Eternal Life, a gift that requires NO payment {you can't work your way into Heaven},  please consider all that Christ Jesus has already done for YOU so that when you die, you can live eternally in Heaven with Him, and while on this earth, enjoy ALL the free gifts that are yours through freedom in Christ, if only you will believe and take hold of...

For God says,

“At just the right time, I heard you.
    On the day of salvation, I helped you.”
Indeed, the “right time” is now. Today is the day of salvation.
2 Corinthians 6:2

For those of us who have already taken hold of the free gift of Eternal Life, may we continually take from the abundance of other free gifts available to us through Christ Jesus our Lord and Savior, doing so with a heart of gratitude and love.



You might find me on these link-ups:
Grace & Truth Link-upWoman to Woman Ministries,  Growing in Grace Link-up, 3DLessonsLif4eInspire Me Monday Titus 2 TuesdayA Wise Women Builds Her HomeA Look at the Book,  Sunday StillnessThe Weekend BrewSpiritual Sundays, Soul Survival,  Give Me Grace, Testimony TuesdayWomen with Intention WednesdaysStill SaturdayGood Morning MondaysTell His StoryFaith & Fellowship Blog HopMotivate and Rejuvenate MondaysBe SaltyMonday's MusingsThe Art of Home-Making MondayTuesday TalkWaiting on Wednesday, Reflect His Love and Glory  Words of Comfort Link-upWholehearted WednesdaysTell it to Me TuesdayFaithful at Home Fridays, Faith 'N FriendsTGI SaturdaysSitting Among Friends Encourage Me Monday Words with Winter Essential FridaysSo Much at Home Family, Friendship & Faith House to Home  ,Wonderful Wednesday , Monday of Many BlessingsLiteracy Musings Mondays,Imparting GraceSHINE Blog Hop Dance with JesusGive Me GraceBooknificent Thursdays UNITE Cozy Reading SpotMaking Your Home Sing Monday Social Butterfly Sundays  Let Us Grow Small Wonder Link-up Winsome Wednesday Growing in Grace Thursday After My CoffeeRewind Friday Fresh Market Friday Moments of Hope Wonderful Wednesdays Christian Blogger Link-Up Tea & Word Tuesday Heart Encouragement Thursday Hearts for Home

Monday, October 24, 2016

Leaf Peeping New England Style!


Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad;
    let the sea resound, and all that is in it.
Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them;
    let all the trees of the forest sing for joy.
Psalm 96:11-12


In my opinion, there is just nothing that compares to Autumn in New England.  This particular year, the perfect recipe of cold  nights and warm days yielded a stunning display of bright reds, oranges and yellows.

My husband and I treated ourselves to an entire day away to enjoy God's creation in all it's beautiful splendor.  

We headed just two hours north of our home to Southern New Hampshire.  My husband had found a fall foliage tour map that took us on windy country roads through quaint New England Villages surrounding the base of Mt. Monadnock.  

One of our stops was in the beautiful village of Hancock where we stretched our legs and strolled along sidewalks to take in the beauty of the Historic homes.  

I daydreamed about the people who once walked these roads back in the 1800s; a sense of community and coziness filled my mind with peaceful thoughts.


Hancock Village












A rose blooming on a bush, 
life bursting forth, 
dying leaves blanketing the ground...

A stunning metaphor of the beauty of Christ's love for His children when He died on that tree at Calvary, and subsequently was raised in Glorious splendor to new life, so that we who believe, would be raised with Him from death to life eternal.


My husband and I stopped at this quintessential New England Meeting House in Historic Jaffrey with views of Mt. Monadnock.  


My husband gave me the idea of taking a picture of the church with the colorful maple leaves surrounding the steeple.







Mt. Monadnock in the distance





One of the longest church horse stalls I've seen!




The family's names still marked above each stall, matching the names on the gravestones out back.



There the members of the congregation are resting beneath the earth in the shadow of the Meeting House; a Meeting House where they had spent many Autumns worshipping God and no doubt, enjoying the beautiful fall colors, who now are basking in the radiance of Christ Jesus. 






Our most beautiful and fascinating stop was Cathedral of the Pines.   

"In the fall of 1937, Sibyl and Douglas Sloane III purchased the property in Rindge, NH that was later to become the Cathedral of the Pines. Settling on what was then 128 acres, they envisioned that their four children—Douglas, Sanderson (“Sandy”), Margaret, and John (“Jack”)—would one day build their own houses on the property." {excerpt from Cathedral in the Pines website}

Sloane Family Homestead



Their son Sandy had joined the Army and planned on building his home when he returned from oversees; a home that was to be built on the spot where Cathedral of the Pines now stands. Unfortunately, while oversees his plane was shot down and he was killed.  His family held a memorial service for Sandy on the land that was cleared out overlooking Mt. Monadnock which later became Cathedral of the Pines.  

In the years to follow, the Sloanes created Cathedral of the Pines and welcomed all faiths to worship there.

The altar made with stones from every State in America.
Majestic views of Mt. Monadnock in the background.








A humble graveyard in a meadow overlooking Mt. Monadnock.



I think this could be said of the Christian life...



Praising God for His Law; the Law written on our hearts...




I've always liked the sentiment behind this prayer...



My Pastor husband can never resist trying out a pulpit.
This was probably the most unique!









Inside this building, incorporated within the stones, you will find all sorts of memorabilia.  
From purple hearts to a piece of the Blarney Stone!

But the item that stopped me in my tracks was a five inch diameter rock that came from one of the ovens at Auschwitz.  I reflected long and hard upon the enormity of what I was looking at.



If you live near Southern New Hampshire, I highly recommend a visit to Cathedral of the Pines.   It is so interesting and absolutely beautiful!


Some closing pictures of our trip...

My husband and I came upon this beautiful view of Mt. Monadnock.   The road just opened up and there it was!  It took my breath away!







I hope you have enjoyed my Daybook of sorts chronicling my leaf peeping adventure.

I highly recommend Leaf Peeping New England Style!  :-)


You might find me on these link-ups:
Grace & Truth Link-upWoman to Woman Ministries,  Growing in Grace Link-up, 3DLessonsLif4eInspire Me Monday Titus 2 TuesdayA Wise Women Builds Her HomeA Look at the Book,  Sunday StillnessThe Weekend BrewSpiritual Sundays, Soul Survival,  Give Me Grace, Testimony TuesdayWomen with Intention WednesdaysStill SaturdayGood Morning MondaysTell His StoryFaith & Fellowship Blog HopMotivate and Rejuvenate MondaysBe SaltyMonday's MusingsThe Art of Home-Making MondayTuesday TalkWaiting on Wednesday, Reflect His Love and Glory  Words of Comfort Link-upWholehearted WednesdaysTell it to Me TuesdayFaithful at Home Fridays, Faith 'N FriendsTGI SaturdaysSitting Among Friends Encourage Me Monday Words with Winter Essential FridaysSo Much at Home Family, Friendship & Faith House to Home  ,Wonderful Wednesday , Monday of Many BlessingsLiteracy Musings Mondays,Imparting GraceSHINE Blog Hop Dance with JesusGive Me GraceBooknificent Thursdays UNITE Cozy Reading SpotMaking Your Home Sing Monday Social Butterfly Sundays  Let Us Grow Small Wonder Link-up Winsome Wednesday Growing in Grace Thursday After My CoffeeRewind Friday Fresh Market Friday Moments of Hope Wonderful Wednesdays Christian Blogger Link-Up Tea & Word Tuesday Heart Encouragement Thursday Hearts for Home


Monday, October 17, 2016

Soda Thirsty



We've all experienced the dreaded stomach virus.  When I was a child, it seemed our family always suffered with a bout of it around Christmas time.  

One particular year our entire family was stricken with the stomach bug within hours of each other! 

My brother and I had bedrooms UPSTAIRS, and the only bathroom in the house was DOWNSTAIRS.

Before my dad was too incapacitated, he set up a cot in the living room for my brother, and I stayed on the couch.

It was nothing short of amazing that two or four of us didn't need to use the bathroom simultaneously.
At one point, I was coming back from the bathroom and just made it around the corner and literally flipped over the armrest onto the couch where I proceeded to stay with my legs dangling over the side, too weak to move.  I remember thinking, "Well, this is it.  Both my parents are sick in bed and I'm too weak to call for help."  LOL.

We all survived, and my mom and I ended up laughing about the fact that we couldn't handle the smell of the Christmas bayberry candle in the kitchen anymore because it reminded us of that fateful night.

There's something about the thirst you feel after a stomach virus that is so profound.  Made worse by the fact that you can't chug water because your stomach can't handle it yet.  My mom had the perfect remedy - ice chips!  I remember sucking on those chips and couldn't wait for the go-ahead to have some ginger-ale.  Soda was not something we normally had at our house, but for stomach bug recovery, it was the perfect way to satisfy the incredible thirst and calm a sour stomach.

I don't know what it is about soda.  Maybe because I rarely if ever have it, but even when I have a particularly salty meal that makes me very thirsty, I will say to my husband, "I am soda thirsty!" and will guzzle down whatever drink is available in the house.  LOL.

Merriam-Webster defines thirst as an uncomfortable feeling that is caused by the need for something to drink;  a very great need for something to drink

 I'd say that sums up physical thirst perfectly!

But we also experience thirst at an emotional level...

Merriam Webster defines emotional thirst as a strong desire for something...

Are you thirsty something?  What are you thirsting after?

When I first started to dabble in playing the piano, one of the hymns I could play somewhat okay was As the Deer.  The first stanza would always convict me.

As the deer panteth for the water
So my soul longeth after thee
You alone are my heart's desire
And I long to worship thee

I would ask myself, "Do I pant after God like a deer searching for water?"  "Does my soul long after Him?"  "Is Jesus my heart's desire?"  "Do I long to worship him?"

They say that what you think most about during the day is what your heart desires.  That which is on your mind first thing in the morning, throughout the day, and as you close your eyes to sleep...

Can I honestly say that the Lord is my first thought upon awakening or that thoughts of Him captivate my mind throughout the day or that Jesus is on my mind as I fall asleep?  To truly thirst after God, to be in true fellowship with Him, not seeking God for things, but seeking God for Him and Him alone. That my desire to be with the Lord would be so strong, I would forsake everything else, to drink at the Wellspring of Life.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
    for they will be filled.
Matthew 5:6

God promises us that when we hunger and thirst for righteousness, we WILL be filled!

Where does a Godly thirst come from?

Matthew Henry says in his commentary that "those who hunger and thirst after righteousness are happy. Righteousness is here put for all spiritual blessings. These are purchased for us by the righteousness of Christ, confirmed by the faithfulness of God. Our desires of spiritual blessings must be earnest.  Though all desires for grace are not grace, yet such a desire as this, is a desire of God's own raising, and he will not forsake the work of his own hands."

 The Benson Commentary says to, "Perseveringly desire universal holiness of heart and life, or deliverance from all sinful dispositions and practices, and a complete restoration of their souls to the image of God in which they were created: a just and beautiful description this of that fervent, constant, increasing, restless, and active desire; of that holy ardour and vehemence of soul in pursuit of the most eminent degrees of universal goodness which will end in complete satisfaction."

The Jamieson-Fausett-Brown commentary says "spiritual and entire conformity to the law of God, under the want of which the saints groan, and the possession of which constitutes the only true saintship."

How many times have I cried with Paul, "For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate."

But God... He has shown us how to walk in the very righteousness He has clothed us in


Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness WILL BE FILLED!  

We hunger and thirst for God when we perseveringly desire to live Holy and set apart lives.

We hunger and thirst for God when our spirits groan within us to be freed from the bondage of besetting sins.

Like the salty food that made me soda thirsty, a steady diet of God's Word and fellowship with Him will season our hearts and increase our thirst for the Lord...

So that...
Our souls will long after God.


And...

He alone will be our heart's desire.   



Heavenly Father,

You have placed a strong desire within me to seek after you with my whole heart, and You have promised that I will find You.  I am already clothed in the righteousness of Christ.  My sins that once were scarlett have been washed white as snow by the blood of the Lamb.

Thank you for your patience with me, and for Your ever-present help.

You promise me that when I seek after righteousness, I will be filled.  You will not forsake the work of your hands.

Father I come to you asking for a thirst like that of a deer panting after water, for a soul that longs for you morning, noon and night, and a heart whose only desire is You, My Lord and My God.

In Jesus Name,
Amen

You might find me on these link-ups:
Grace & Truth Link-upWoman to Woman Ministries,  Growing in Grace Link-up, 3DLessonsLif4eInspire Me Monday Titus 2 TuesdayA Wise Women Builds Her HomeA Look at the Book,  Sunday StillnessThe Weekend BrewSpiritual Sundays, Soul Survival,  Give Me Grace, Testimony TuesdayWomen with Intention WednesdaysStill SaturdayGood Morning MondaysTell His StoryFaith & Fellowship Blog HopMotivate and Rejuvenate MondaysBe SaltyMonday's MusingsThe Art of Home-Making MondayTuesday TalkWaiting on Wednesday, Reflect His Love and Glory  Words of Comfort Link-upWholehearted WednesdaysTell it to Me TuesdayFaithful at Home Fridays, Faith 'N FriendsTGI SaturdaysSitting Among Friends Encourage Me Monday Words with Winter Essential FridaysSo Much at Home Family, Friendship & Faith House to Home  ,Wonderful Wednesday , Monday of Many BlessingsLiteracy Musings Mondays,Imparting GraceSHINE Blog Hop Dance with JesusGive Me GraceBooknificent Thursdays UNITE Cozy Reading SpotMaking Your Home Sing Monday Social Butterfly Sundays  Let Us Grow Small Wonder Link-up Winsome Wednesday Growing in Grace Thursday After My CoffeeRewind Friday Fresh Market Friday Moments of Hope Wonderful Wednesdays Christian Blogger Link-Up Tea & Word Tuesday Heart Encouragement Thursday Hearts for Home

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Are You Predetermining God's Will? - Guest Post at Blessed Transgressions

Are You Predetermining God’s Will?


So Peter was kept in Prison, but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the church… Now when Herod was about to bring him out, on that very night, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries before the door were guarding the prison. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood next to him, and a light shown in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him, saying, “Get up quickly.”

And the chains fell off his hands… they came to the iron gate leading into the city. It opened for them of its own accord, and they went out and went along the street… Peter went to the house of Mary, the mother of John whose other name was Mark, where many were gathered together and were praying. And when he knocked at the door of the gateway, a servant girl named Rhoda came to answer. Recognizing Peter’s voice, in her joy she did not open the gate, but ran in and reported that Peter was standing at the gate. They said to her, “You are out of your mind.”

Excerpts from Acts 12

I wonder what the church in Acts was specifically praying for concerning Peter’s imprisonment. Did they limit their prayers to his comfort and protection or did they pray boldly that he might be set free? The people’s response of “You are out of your mind” when Rhoda told them Peter was at the door would appear that they were NOT praying for Peter’s release.

Or were they…?

Please join me over at Erika's online Christian magazine, Blessed Transgressions, to read the rest of   this post.


You might find me on these link-ups:
Grace & Truth Link-upWoman to Woman Ministries,  Growing in Grace Link-up, 3DLessonsLif4eInspire Me Monday Titus 2 TuesdayA Wise Women Builds Her HomeA Look at the Book,  Sunday StillnessThe Weekend BrewSpiritual Sundays, Soul Survival,  Give Me Grace, Testimony TuesdayWomen with Intention WednesdaysStill SaturdayGood Morning MondaysTell His StoryFaith & Fellowship Blog HopMotivate and Rejuvenate MondaysBe SaltyMonday's MusingsThe Art of Home-Making MondayTuesday TalkWaiting on Wednesday, Reflect His Love and Glory  Words of Comfort Link-upWholehearted WednesdaysTell it to Me TuesdayFaithful at Home Fridays, Faith 'N FriendsTGI SaturdaysSitting Among Friends Encourage Me Monday Words with Winter Essential FridaysSo Much at Home Family, Friendship & Faith House to Home  ,Wonderful Wednesday , Monday of Many BlessingsLiteracy Musings Mondays,Imparting GraceSHINE Blog Hop Dance with JesusGive Me GraceBooknificent Thursdays UNITE Cozy Reading SpotMaking Your Home Sing Monday Social Butterfly Sundays  Let Us Grow Small Wonder Link-up Winsome Wednesday Growing in Grace Thursday After My CoffeeRewind Friday Fresh Market Friday Moments of Hope Wonderful Wednesdays Christian Blogger Link-Up Tea & Word Tuesday Heart Encouragement Thursday Hearts for Home