Remembering Oma

IMG_0595Fond memories of my Oma (grandmother) stir my mind today as Mother’s Day approaches. She loved to tell me stories, and greatly influenced my love of storytelling (writing). There was always a book or magazine nearby, for she loved reading.

My Oma’s character would make a great heroine in any novel. Her life was filled with hardship, but she always looked for ways to bring joy to those around her, while holding tight to her faith in God. She was a survivor, a helper, an encourager, who refused to allow herself to be defeated. Instead, she emotionally rolled up her sleeves and faced her battles head on. A wonderful blend of strength and delicacy was my sweet Oma. And I was the granddaughter who was blessed to sit beside her and learn from her.

Oma, I still can’t pass by wildflowers without hearing your words, “Anne, you must take time to see the flowers along the path. God planted them there for your enjoyment.” On my walk this week, I saw violets displaying their purple blooms in the forest and I thought of you, my precious Oma.

 

Climbing Stairs and Trusting

NSHMjz8NTcORAYdJXEGBqgAs my grandson began climbing stairs, I stayed one step behind, prepared to catch him if he falls. After every one step up, he took a quick peek to assure himself I was still there.

Another month older, and he’s become more trusting. Now he’ll take the steps without looking back, except to see if I’m far enough away, which I never am, so he might have time to crawl to the outlet and pull out the nightlight. He’s certain I’m close enough to catch him if he falls, but maybe far enough so he might be able to try something that’s a no-no.

God is your loving Heavenly Father who watches over you. He said, not even a sparrow falls from the sky without His awareness (Matthew 10:29). Of how much more value are you than a sparrow when God sent His own Son, Jesus, to die in your place? He cares for you beyond human imagination, and He’s never far away.

Just like my grandson must learn to obey in order to stay safe, we must obey God. His guidance, correction, and discipline are always for our good. How wonderfully reassuring to know we serve a God who cares for us.

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4 KJV

“Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” Isaiah 30:21 NIV

 

Seeking His Presence

How is it possible to experience the presence of God? How can my human spirit commune with a supernatural Creator? I cannot tell you how. I can only tell you it is so.

Look at this poem by C.H. Spurgeon in his book, Till He Come (Devotional Meditations on Communion).
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“Jesus, these eyes have never seen
That radiant form of Thine!
The veil of sense hangs dark between
Thy blessed face and mine!

“I see Thee not, I hear Thee not,
Yet art Thou oft with me,
And earth hath ne’er so dear a spot
As where I meet with Thee.

“Like some bright dream that comes unsought,
When slumbers o’er me roll,
Thine image ever fills my thought,
And charms my ravish’d soul.

“Yet though I have not seen, and still
Must rest in faith alone;
I love Thee, dearest Lord! and will,
Unseen, but not unknown.”

I love that last line, “Unseen, but not unknown,” for that is true. I have never seen my Savior, but I have experienced His presence. How? By seeking Him. You see, Jeremiah 29:13 (NASB) tells us, “You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.”

Searching for him with all our hearts is the key. It was in my moments of desperation, when I sought for an answer on my knees, that He spoke a word into my heart and I knew it was Him. It was also as I worshipped Him — alone in my room or in the car or in a church full of people — it mattered not. The only thing that signified was that I worshipped Him with all my heart, pushing aside distractions. “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” James 4:8 (NASB). How do we cleanse our hands and hearts? By repenting of our sins and trusting Jesus to forgive us.

I have sensed His presence while interceding for others, seeking direction, asking for healing, praying for protection, and so much more. You see, the Psalmist reminds us: “The LORD is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth.” (Psalm 145:18 NASB)

Do you long for a God who cares about the details of your life? A God who knows the worst about you, but chooses to forgive you and grant you a new start? A God who will walk through life with you and give you guidance? His name is Jesus. Jeremiah 31:3 (NASB) says, “The LORD appeared to him from afar, saying, “I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore I have drawn you with lovingkindness.”

All you need to do is:
1. Repent — Tell Jesus you are sorry about your sins.
2. Invite — Ask Jesus to come into your heart because you want to live for Him.

That’s it! He did everything else when He died for you on the cross. All you have to do is accept His free gift. Once you’ve done that, pick up the Bible and ask the Holy Spirit to begin revealing Himself to you as you read His Word — and pray often. Pour out your heart to Him. He cares for you and He will make His presence known to you if you will earnestly seek Him.

Featured Author

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I am super excited to be the featured author on Myths, Legends, Books & Coffee Pots today. Thank you Mary Anne Yarde for giving me this opportunity. I am sharing about what inspired me to write Reluctant To Wed. Click HERE to read the featured blog post.

 

 

 

Your Life has Purpose

audience-868074_1920She was just a college student, dedicated to her studies while serving in her local church. She helped in the youth group by playing the keyboard and leading the worship team. In the grand scheme of God’s Kingdom, how does her life matter? She was no Billy Graham, evangelizing the world. She was no Mother Teresa, helping the poor and needy in an impoverished city.

Many of us feel our lives are insignificant, yet God has a part for each of us to play in building His Kingdom. We all touch lives. It is up to us whether we will bring glory to God or live only for ourselves.

In the story of the resurrection of Jesus, two women (Mary Magdalene and Mary) went to the tomb where they met an angel. The angel told the women to tell the disciples to meet Jesus in Galilee. As they went, they met Jesus along the way and were the first to encounter him after he rose from the grave. This begs the question, why didn’t the disciples go to the tomb first? I don’t know the answer, but I do know that God used these two women. He knew he could trust them to relay the message so the disciples would end up where they could meet Jesus, too. There are no books in the Bible named after these two women. We know very little about them, but they had a part in God’s plan for this world.

So often when reading the Bible, we see people who played a small part in the grand scheme of things, but they were necessary. What about the boy who fell from the window as Paul was preaching (Acts 20:8-10)? Or the man who allowed Jesus to use his donkey (Matthew 21:2-3)? Or the boy who brought the bread and fish that was used to feed the thousands (John 6:9-13)? We don’t know the rest of their stories. I’m certain that if they continued living for God, He continued to use them to advance His Kingdom. However, we only caught a little glimpse into their lives. To us they may seem insignificant, but they had an important role to play in fulfilling God’s plan for mankind.

What is your role? If you are a mother, teach your children about God while drawing near to Him yourself. Show them by example how to apply God’s Word in every area of life. If you are married, apply God’s principles in your relationship with your husband. Build a healthy marriage that will encourage others to do the same. If you work outside your home, you have the wonderful opportunity to influence the lives of your coworkers. Are you a writer? Then write to bring glory to God. Do you work from home? Then you can befriend your neighbors and ask God to arrange opportunities for you to tell them about your relationship with Him. Text an encouraging message to a friend or family member. Call someone who might be lonely. Pray for people everywhere. The opportunities are countless when you allow yourself to be used of God.

That college student that I mentioned to you at the beginning of my post felt overwhelmed at times with leading the worship team while studying and working. There were many times she wanted to quit. However, she realized that youth group had no one else who could lead worship and she didn’t want to disappoint the leaders, so she pressed on. On top of all of that, God impressed upon her heart to start a college ministry that would reach out to international students. Wanting to be obedient, she gathered a group of college students in her church to help her plan for this new venture. It ended up being a huge success. They were able to impact the lives of many foreign young people who came from countries where the gospel was not openly preached. In spite of all these responsibilities, God blessed this young lady to graduate from her university with high honors and on the Dean’s list. She may never be a missionary in Indonesia or an evangelist leading thousands to salvation, but she impacted the lives of young people in her youth group, showing them what a life dedicated to Jesus looks like. She taught a teenage boy to play the keyboard so he could eventually serve on the worship team, too. She prayed for foreign students who more than likely had no one else praying for them. Her life mattered.

Everyone can touch someone. We all have a part to play in advancing God’s Kingdom. Just because our part isn’t a big one doesn’t mean it’s not an important one, but the only way we will be able to do this is by drawing near to God and staying close to Him. Jesus’ last words before ascending into heaven were, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8 NLT)  We can’t be witnesses of something we’ve never experienced. We need the power of His Spirit, which means we have to experience His presence first. Only then can we witness to others about what it is that He has done. No matter how big or how small, every life committed to God is significant in building God’s Kingdom.

First Line Friday #25

The book I’m featuring today on First Line Friday is a nonfiction book that a friend recently recommended to me. It’s called Praying For Strangers by River Jordan. The title itself drew me in.

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The great tragedy of life is not unanswered prayer, but unoffered prayer. ~F.B. Meyer

My sons are marching off to war.

First Line Friday is something every reader can participate in. Pick up a book near you. Type the first line in the comments, along with the title of the book and the author. Then check out the books other readers have featured in the comments on this blog and on the Hoarding Books link at the end of this post. You might find a book you would like to read simply by reading the first line. You can also click on the title of the book above and it will take you to Amazon so you can see what the book is about, read the reviews other readers have shared, and purchase it if it interests you.

 

First Line Friday #24

The book I’m featuring today on First Line Friday is The Healer from the series called Hillbrooke, by Beverly Joy Roberts. This is an incredibly captivating book that takes placed in a small town in Michigan and centers around a church. Anyone who attends church regularly and tries living a godly life knows that there are spiritual forces that work against believers individually and the church as a whole.

Beverly Joy Roberts takes you into the lives of the sincere believers in this church, as well as the lost in the community. You see their hurts and struggles, and the obstacles they are facing. You observe how both good and evil are reaching out to them, one to draw them to God and the other to draw them away and into deeper turmoil. At the same time, you see the struggles that believers face and how evil wants to bring them down.

By the end of the book, tears were streaming down my face. I wanted to do a victory dance, but didn’t dare since I was sitting in a airplane thousands of feet above the ground and I didn’t think the other passengers would understand.

I highly recommend this book. Your heart will beat in rhythm with the characters of the story.

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“Deer Lake was a beautiful backdrop for the al fresco anniversary gathering of the Brown’s small group.”

First Line Friday is something every reader can participate in. Pick up a book near you. Type the first line in the comments, along with the title of the book and the author. Then check out the books other readers have featured in the comments on this blog and on the Hoarding Books link at the end of this post. You might find a book you would like to read simply by reading the first line. You can also click on the title of the book above and it will take you to Amazon so you can see what the book is about, read the reviews other readers have shared, and purchase it if it interests you.

 

Make 2018 a Year of Growth

christmas-2975401_1920Care for the things (possession, talents, relationships) God has blessed you with. Appreciating a gift isn’t enough. You must make it better than what it was when you received it. That takes work!

“A lazy person is as bad as someone who destroys things.” Proverbs 18:9

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A good New Year’s Resolution for 2018 is to determine to work hard.

~ Take care of the people in your life. Treat them with kindness and caring. Let them never doubt that you love them.

~ Take care of the things you own: car, house, furniture, yard, etc.

~ What talent(s) do you possess? What interests you that can also be beneficial to others. Learn more about it. Study. Practice. Grow. Develop. Learn.

Happy New Year!!!

The Christmas Challenge

christmas-2971961_1920Are all your Christmas gifts bought, wrapped, and under the tree? What about the stockings? Do you (like me) wrap each stocking stuffer to prolong the gift-opening fun? Have you decided on the menu you will serve your family on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day? Did you finish all your grocery shopping? Have you cleaned your house yet? On top of all of that, do you have a party planned at your house for friends? Have you attended your work party yet and do you know what you’ll wear? What about all the unexpected things that creep in? Doctor appointments because someone isn’t feeling well? Last-minute gifts you need to purchase? Rush to the store for an ingredient you didn’t realize you needed?

In the middle of all of these things and more, you’re told to keep in mind what the Christmas season is really all about. You feel guilty because you haven’t had time to think about Jesus all day, yet you know He’s the reason you celebrate. Well, you’re not alone in feeling this way. This is the Christmas challenge for so many of us, perhaps even all of us.

Unfortunately, too often Jesus’ birth is not in the forefront of our minds. We get bogged down with all our responsibilities of making Christmas special for everyone else that it’s easy to forget the manger, and we find ourselves responding to Jesus as the Innkeeper had done long ago in Bethlehem. “Sorry, no room.”

Just typing these words makes me want to weep. Jesus is most important, after all! He’s what it’s all about! As He carried the cross to Golgotha, He thought of me. How can I possibly be too busy for Him? But how can I keep Jesus in my thoughts in the midst of all the hustle and bustle around me?

Here are some things I have found to be helpful:

  1. Don’t neglect going to church no matter how busy you are. It helps you stay focused.
  2. Start each day (and/or end it) with time spent reading your Bible and prayer. I know you’re busy, but certainly you can read one chapter of the Bible and pray over what you’ve read. You can even pray while driving to work or running an errand.
  3. Listen to Christmas music that honors Him. I’m not saying you can’t listen to Jingle Bells, but don’t let secular Christmas music be the only music you listen to.
  4. When with your Christian friends, talk to each other about your faith and about Jesus. The mouth speaks what the heart is full of (Luke 6:45). If your heart is full of God, surely you will want to talk about Him with others. In the process, you will build each other up in your most holy faith (Jude 1:20).
  5. Display a Nativity scene in a prominent place in your home. Looking at it is a great reminder and it provides an opportunity to explain to the children in your family what you believe.
  6. When reading greeting cards where a Bible verse is included, take a moment to meditate on the verse.
  7. Remember to pray throughout the day. When someone gives you a gift or when you open a card, whisper a prayer for them. When wrapping gifts for your family, pray for the recipient. When cleaning your house, pray for your family and friends who will be entering your home. Try your best to maintain an attitude of prayer.

If we look for ways to include Jesus into every part of our day, stress is reduced and our hearts begin to fill with joy. I want to challenge you to purpose in your heart to be like the shepherds who looked up from their work and responsibilities, and heard the angels singing. They left everything to find Jesus. Let’s be like the wisemen, who saw the star from a distance. They turned their back on the distractions around them and kept their eyes on the star until they found Jesus.

It’s so easy to lose sight of what Christmas is really all about — the birth of our Savior! Let’s decide right now that today will be a day dedicated in thanks to Him. He came because He loved us enough to do so. It was the only way we could ever be saved. He willing left the splendor and safety of heaven, making himself vulnerable in a sinful world that would reject Him — and He did it for our sake! Today, let’s show Him our love by giving Him priority in our day.

Merry Christmas!!! May your home be filled with family, friends, food, fun, and cheer. But mostly, may the presence of God’s Spirit fill your homes and your hearts. May you truly experience Immanuel, God with us.

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6

 

Happy Thanksgiving!

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“The more I come to recognize my story’s place in God’s grander Story, my once-bewildered questions are turning to psalms of thanksgiving at the wonder that I have been included in what He is doing.”  ~ Gloria Gaither

THANK YOU to all of you who have encouraged me this year with my writing. Thank you for the wonderful reviews, speaking opportunities, words of encouragement, and for taking the time to read what I have written. This new venture I’m on is amazing because of all of you!

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I’m especially grateful for my husband and children, who have been supportive all along the way. And I’m tickled pink to have become a grandmother this year!! There is nothing like it!

Finally, I am blessed beyond measure by the comments from my readers who have said they have received spiritual encouragement while reading my novel and/or reading my blog. I agree with Gloria Gaither in her quote above. I’m so glad to be included in what He is doing. I am eternally grateful for how He continues working in me. Jesus doesn’t give up on me because of my weaknesses. Instead, He encourages, strengthens, helps, and keeps me. Any accomplishment in my life is all due to His amazing love and grace toward me.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING, EVERYONE!!!!

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