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Mountains and Valleys

Many of us have read or heard of the very popular Bible passage Psalm 23, where David talks about God being his Shepherd, how he leads him beside still waters and restores his soul.  One part of this verse stirs something deep within my heart in verse 4.

Psalm 23:4 ESV

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,[c]  I will fear no evil, for you are with me;  your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”

Have you ever had a season in your life you didn’t want to be in, where you asked God, “Why am I here?”  “What am I doing in this place?”  With fists clenched, heels digging in the ground, telling God, “I don’t want to be here!”  Sounds like the valley of the shadow of death is one of those places.  Other versions of this verse also read valley of darkness or death.

What do you think David saw when he walked through the valley of darkness?

The valley David refers to in this verse is a valley in the desert of Judah.  Anyone who walks through this valley is putting themselves at risk of encountering anything lurking in the darkness, wildlife, bandits, even a random flash flood.

What strikes me, David is walking through the valley where there is a shadow of death.  Where there was a lot of unknowns surrounding him.  Anything could attack or happen to him at any moment.  Yet, he didn’t run away from the darkness, he didn’t take a different route, he walks right through it.

Do you think David knew he was going to walk through a valley of death?

I think many of us would have turned around if we knew what lied ahead.  We always wonder why God doesn’t share details with us.  If we really knew, we wouldn’t go where God was asking us to go.  David then says in response to walking in the valley, “I will fear no evil, you’re rod and staff comfort me.”  David knew even if he was in the valley he was safe and protected because God was with him every step of the way.

In Everybody Always, Bob Goff talks about fighter pilots who train in the valleys in between the mountains.  When asked why do they train at lower elevations where winds can get them, their response was, ‘so we can get better.’

God isn't always going to lead us to the safest route forward but to the one where we will grow the most. God knows without risk we wouldn't grow #quote @BobGoff #EverybodyAlwaysClick To Tweet

David knew walking through the valley would be hard.  But he also knew in the valley is where he learned to depend on and trust in God the most.  Walking through the valley will be dark and seem like God is far away.  When we trust in what God is able to do and not in what we see, He walks us safely to the other side every time.

It is so easy to praise God when we’re standing on the mountain but not always so easy when we’re deep in the valleys.

Imagine what would happen if we took the same approach as David?  If we faced our fears, our darkness and walked through them, depending on God for our guidance and comfort when we’re afraid?

In the valley is where we grow the most and receive the sweetest most unexpected victories when we trust God to walk us to the other side of our darkness.

Psalm 23:5, “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.”

God goes and prepares a table before us in the presence of our enemies.  God doesn’t promise we won’t have to walk through our valleys in the absence of our enemies, but in their presence.  As our enemies surround us God our Shepherd, the master of provision provides for us everything we need in the midst of our battles.

The enemies in our lives are powerless over us when we praise him in our darkness–when we push through holding onto God’s hand, when we trust and don’t know how everything will turn out.  God’s generosity of mercy and grace then overflows in us, all the days of our lives and we will dwell in his house forever (Psalm 23:6).  In God’s house lies a sanctuary of peace and love like none other that sets us free from the fears of any darkness.

The next time fear gets the best of you, allow God to be your Shepherd leading you through your dark valleys.  Pray Psalm 23 over your situation.  Close your eyes and follow the voice of the Shepherd.  Trust in Him, take His hand, He knows the way.

A voice cries:[a]
“In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord;
    make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be lifted up,
    and every mountain and hill be made low;
the uneven ground shall become level,
    and the rough places a plain.
And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed,
    and all flesh shall see it together,
    for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

Isaiah 40:3-5

What season are you in?

How do you allow God to lead you through your valley?

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When Fear Surrounds Us

It’s almost a new year!  Many of us are excited to start a fresh new year.  Whatever the expectation the new year brings for you, it may bring many fears that can be overwhelming.

I recently had the opportunity to embark on a cruise with 29 of my family members and 5,000 other people cruising around the Caribbean sea.  This was my first Caribbean cruise.  I don’t know if cruising is your thing, but it made me uncomfortable knowing I was in the middle of the ocean with that many people. When I did the calculations, there are not enough boats for everyone if for some reason the ship sank.  Let’s just say it was unsettling for me.

Don’t know if you are one of those ‘What if’ people, I am typically not, however, I am married to one.  I usually don’t think about all the scenarios of ‘what if,’ but when you are surrounded by lots of people and water it makes your mind start going in that direction especially when you watch those movies where the ship sinks or people get eaten by sharks.

Ok, I promise I’ll stop.

But seriously have you ever been in that kind of life or death situation?  Like the scene in the Poseidon movie when Josh Lucas, Richard Dreyfus, and the young gal are debating whether they should stay in the room with the flooding water or go towards the vents which they didn’t know where they led fearing they might get stuck?  Everywhere they looked their options went from bad to worse.  If they stayed they would have drowned if they went forward they still may die, but it was their only option for a possible way out.

Maybe we haven’t been in a scenario as drastic as the Poseidon movie where our lives depended on it.  But we all have been in situations when we open our eyes and all we see is the fear that surrounds us.  It doesn’t matter which way we look it’s there and we can’t escape it.  I don’t know about you, but when I live in the ‘what if’ and look for the ‘bad’ things to happen, fear gets the best of me.  When my focus is on the fear, fear is all I see.

We may not like our situations. We may not choose them. But know it could always be worse. Click To Tweet

Maybe you are in a situation like the scene on the ship, if you stay you’ll drown but if you go forward, there is fear of the unknown of not knowing how it will all turn out.

When we let go of our fears and release them to God, we allow Him to take care of them instead of trying to control the situation ourselves.  He is our way out.  Our fears will always squash our hopes, our joy, and growth because we are trusting in what we see and not in what God is able to do.

The verse in Isaiah, I’m reminded of what God was able to accomplish through the Israelites when they trusted in Him.  They saw the enemy armies attacking, coming at them full force and God said, “The Lord will fight for you, you only need to be still” (Exodus 14:14).  He then provided a way out for them when he parted The Red Sea when they trusted in Him.

I’m reminded what God did for Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the fiery furnace when they stood up against Nebuchadnezzar.  They refused to take orders from the king and only would obey their one true king–God.  When they stood their ground, God protected them when they were thrown into the blazing furnace.  Not a hair on their body was singed nor did they smell like smoke.  God protected them in their obedience.

When we put our trust in God in what He is able to do and keep our eyes on Him we’ll be protected even when our fear surrounds us.

'I keep my eyes always on the LORD. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken (Psalm 16:8).Click To Tweet

When Jesus lives in our hearts, we are not exempt from having fear or bad things from happening to us.  We are able to be protected from our troubling circumstances when we stand in His presence, focus on God’s power, trust in Him and obey.

Are you surrounded by fear?

Do you trust God with your fears?

Are you hoping to get rid of fear in the New Year?

This New Year, take a deep breath, close your eyes and focus on the One who is able to do the impossible.  Trust in Him.  Allow Him to lead you, He knows the way out.  You are loved, my friend!

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The Truth About Picky People

The other day my son was hungry and wanted a snack.  We had just been the store and bought bulk size snacks for kids’ lunches for times like these.  I started to give my son options for what snacks he could eat.  As I ran through the list of 4 or 5 options, he said “no” and had a reason for why he didn’t want every single one of them, but yet he was hungry.  As a parent, these moments sometimes are frustrating, because when I was a grew up there weren’t 4 to 5 options of snacks to eat.

As a kid….. You get what you get and didn’t throw a fit.  

When did kids receive the right to be so picky?

These snacks were perfectly fine last week, but for some reason this week these snacks didn’t meet his criteria.

Was I the one to blame for his picky palate by providing him with multiple options?

By allowing him to have all of these options was I setting him up for discontentment?

These moments make me question my actions as a parent.  Was I setting the foundation for him to be picky in other areas of his life as well?

This picky culture isn’t so far off from how the Sadducees used to live in the Bible.  The Sadducees were a Jewish party that represented the wealthy and sophisticated.  In Jesus’ time even though this group was small in number they had a strong political and religious influence in Jerusalem.  The Sadducees were the ultimate picky culture.  They picked and chose which truths they wanted to believe and not believe.

“But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptizing, he said to them: “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?”  Matthew 3:7

In this passage, John the Baptist was preparing the way for Jesus.  John the Baptist was calling the Pharisees and Sadducees a “brood of vipers,” because they wanted to hear and see the message of baptism he was teaching, but thought the message didn’t pertain to them.  John was preaching about repentance, a deliberate turning away from sins in order to be forgiven and receive the righteousness of God.  He was teaching everyone needed to repent and be baptized in order to be made new in God and that God always forgave those who repented.

John knew the Sadducees only believed in half-truths.  They only accepted five books of Moses and rejected all other oral traditions (Mark 12:18 footnote).  They didn’t believe in the resurrection or a personal Messiah but held onto to the promise of the Messianic Age a future era where there would be peace, harmony a life without strife or hardship (Acts 4:1, Matt. 3:7 footnote).  They wanted to believe in the promise of life with harmony but didn’t want to walk away from a life of sin.  John actually refused to baptize the Pharisees and Sadducees because he knew they failed to repent (remove sin from their lives).  The Pharisees and Sadducees had one thing in common, they believed their salvation and deliverance was already given to them because of their birthright into the Jewish heritage.

When John asked them “Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?” he was asking them ‘who told you the Messiah is coming to bring repentance or judgment?’  Did they only want to hear the message when their lives were at stake?

How true is this for our lives as well.

“….I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. ”  John 10:10 NIV

Jesus came so we could have life and have it to the full.  But somewhere along the way we can get caught up in picking and choose the parts of Jesus we want and don’t want just like the Sadducees. I for one have been guilty.

Have we become a picky society that picks and chooses what we believe?

Do we want the promise of heaven and the crown but not the suffering of the cross? Do we want the promise of the resurrection of our circumstances in our lives but not the sacrifice of Jesus?  Do we believe in the Bible, but only the red letter parts?  Do we want a Savior and God’s grace to be extended in our mistakes but not for him to be Lord over our lives?

Have we become like the Sadducees?

Do we believe in the sanctity of marriage except when times get difficult?  Do we believe in the power of prayer only if God answers our prayers our way in our timing?  Do we believe in preserving our children’s innocence except in times of worldly persecution?  Do we believe attending church is enough to maintain a relationship with God?  Or that God is only loving when things are going well in our lives?

Choosing half-truths for our lives somehow along the way has been substituted for God's truth in our lives. Click To Tweet

By allowing these half-truths in our lives, are we setting the foundation to pick and choose which parts of Jesus we want to accept and not accept?

Living on the slippery slope of choosing what parts of Jesus I want and don’t want is dangerous.  When I am being picky, I am missing out on the greatest blessings Jesus has to offer.  Jesus is meant to live in our lives wholeheartedly, not halfway.  What if there was only the death of Jesus without the resurrection, how meaningless would that be?  Sadly I think this is how many of us live today.  We believe Jesus is our Savior but not that he is able to resurrect our circumstances by being Lord in our lives.  In God all things are possible.

Jesus is the piece that makes us all whole, He completes us.Click To Tweet

He is the source, maker, provider for all our needs. The more we understand who Jesus is and His role in our lives, the more we can understand God’s love for us—the better we can understand our identity in Him and be filled with His fullness. In God, we lack nothing.  Jesus came so we can have life and have it to the full.  The fullness of everything God has to offer is ours already; we just have to open, receive, and allow room for it in our lives.

Can you relate to the Sadducees?  

What half-truths have you substituted for God’s truth in your life?

God’s love and grace are transformational.  We become victorious when His word is alive and active in our lives!

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The Secret to Being Perfect

Summer is here. The sun is shining, kids are out of school, days are filled with relaxing, activities and hopefully vacations.  I love the things we learn from our seasons and vacations we go on.  There’s indigenous wildlife and landscapes we discover in the places we go.  One bird indigenous to Alaska I will never forget is the raven.

These birds live in parking lots and attack trash cans, devouring any food left on the ground. They live up to their name because they are ravenous scavengers that will eat anything. I’ve always wondered why these birds choose to stay during Alaskan winters. If I were a bird I would definitely use the wings God had gave me to fly to warmer temperatures. Even though ravens don’t migrate when the weather gets cold, I don’t think these Alaskan ravens could fly very far even if they had to. They are self-indulgent glutinous birds way too fat to fly anywhere. I have never seen ravens this big ever in my life. These birds may be sleek and shiny on the outside, but their selfish desires hold them captive in the tundra weather as a result.

These Ravens remind me of the Pharisees in the Bible.

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26 Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.” Matthew 23:25-26

The Pharisees had a tradition to engage in ceremonial washing of their body before eating, so nothing dirty would enter their bodies. However Jesus was pointing out, the Pharisees were missing the point. What was the point of physically cleaning the outside of their bodies if their hearts were filled with greed and self-indulgence? The Pharisees thought they were perfect because they followed the traditions of men. They were more concerned with keeping the tradition of ceremonial washings then keeping their hearts clean with the righteousness of God.

How true is this for our lives?

Am I like the Pharisee trying to maintain perfection on the outside but really full of un-righteousness on the inside?

I have been guilty of trying to maintain the facade that everything is perfect in my life on the outside by keeping a clean house, car, a perfectly manicured yard, obedient kids, a successful husband the list goes on. Maybe you can relate?

Have you tried to find value and worth through your circumstances like me? Have you tried to seek righteousness in your own works? Truth is I can have everything perfect and neatly organized on the outside but really am falling apart on the inside.

Where is the hope or freedom in my failures?

Is success in life really measured by my performance and how perfect I look from the outside?

There will be times my achievements fail. Times I don’t always get it right.  There will always be another room to clean in my house. There will always be a child’s behavior to correct. There may be times my husband and I don’t get along. There will always be that certain something that doesn’t go as planned.  Does that mean I only receive hope if my circumstances are going well in my life?

Perfectionism and keeping a bunch of rules will never make me righteous or bring me peace or freedomClick To Tweet

I am not perfect.  But I am made perfect in God. Through God’s eyes even when I fall short, He sees me as his perfect workmanship and makes up for my shortcomings (Romans 3:23).

He created and designed all of us with a purpose that is greater than our next performance.

The secret to being perfect isn’t in what we do ourselves with our own strength but in what God can do in us with His strength.Click To Tweet

God cares more about the condition of our hearts than how clean our houses are. His desire is for us to love him with all of our heart, all of our soul and all of our minds” (Matthew 22:37).

Jesus tells the Pharisees, “First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean” Matthew 23:26. He was trying to teach them you will always be held captive by selfish desires and trying to maintain perfectionism. We will always be set free in God’s truth and love for us.

“You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32

When I seek God for my righteousness and desires of my heart he shows me “I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; our souls knows it very well (Psalm 139:14). Righteousness does not come from ourselves or in anything we do, but from God himself.

“…not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—“ (Philippians 3:9).

Our hearts will always find peace in His presence and freedom in His truth.

The next time there are a pile of dishes in your sink, say to yourself, “Bless this mess, because I am made perfect in God!” Thankfully God cares more of how clean my heart is than my sink!

Have you ever met someone and thought wow they have it all together, to only find out they are shattered and broken on the inside?

You never know what someone is going through. Just because their life seems perfect on the inside doesn’t mean it’s true.  Thankfully we have all been saved by his grace.  His grace and purpose are always greater.

“He has saved us and called us to holy life–not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace.  This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time.”  2 Timothy 1:9

Can you relate to the Pharisees?

Do you allow circumstances to enslave you and determine your happiness?

Have you been victim to performance and perfectionism?

How has God’s truth set you free?

Our circumstances will always change.  God’s truth is eternal and everlasting!  There is hope when we seek our truth and identity in God. You are perfectly perfect in who God says you are. He created you and never makes mistakes. You are perfect!

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The Message and The Miracle

Have you ever gone through a hard time in your life and questioned is God even there? Or does he even care?

Sometimes I’ve caught myself questioning God and his motives when I’m going through hard times. I question God ‘why is this happening to me? Don’t you even care?’ Then he so tenderly reminds me, yes he does care more than I’ll ever know.

In my struggle I realize I’m not the one waiting on God, he’s the one waiting on me. If I just opened my eyes to see what God is trying to show me, His creations are all around me. He has made the heavens, the earth and everything in it. He has already sent Jesus to die for us.

Do I really need him to show me another sign of what he is capable of doing?

My unbelief and doubt aren’t so far off from the Pharisees and the crowd Jesus fed.

The gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, capture the life of Jesus, his ministry, his death, and resurrection. Each gospel captures Jesus’ messages and miracles he performed. Jesus didn’t perform a miracle without there being a deeper message at hand. When a person reads the gospels one will see the pattern of a message then a miracle, a message then a miracle. When we look deeper, we can see this message and miracle pattern in our lives as well.

In the gospel of John 6, Jesus had just performed the miracle of feeding 5,000 people from only 5 loaves of bread and two fish. The crowd was amazed at this miraculous sign that Jesus did. After performing this miracle, Jesus withdrew from the crowd knowing the crowd intended to make him their king. The crowd then went looking for Jesus in Capernaum.

When the crowd finds Jesus, he then says, “I tell you the truth, you are looking for me not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. Do not work for food that spoils but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. On him and the Father has placed his seal of approval.” (John 6:26-27)

Jesus knew their hearts already. They weren’t looking for a Messiah, the one who could give them eternal life, they were looking for another miracle.

John 6:30 says, “So they asked him, “What miraculous sign then will you give that we may see it and believe you? What will you do?”

Can you even imagine asking Jesus, ‘what else can you do before we believe you?’ It didn’t matter the crowd had just witnessed Jesus miraculously feed a crowd of 5,000 people with just some loaves of bread and fish, the people wanted more.

The crowd didn’t need more proof of Jesus’ abilities, they needed more faith.Click To Tweet

The same scenario happened with the Pharisees after Jesus fed the four thousand people. Afterward the Pharisees questioned Jesus. They wanted to test him and asked him for a sign from heaven.

Jesus sighed deeply and said, “Why does this generation ask for a miraculous sign? I tell you the truth, no sign will be given to it” (Mark 8:12).

How many times have we been guilty of this as well?

There are signs all around us that God is with us and cares about our struggles, yet we search for God to prove his divine authority by performing miraculous signs.

In both scenarios, Jesus did not perform another miracle when they demanded it because they lacked faith. Their request for a miracle came from unbelief (Mark 8:11 footnote). God doesn’t need to prove his abilities he is able. There is evidence all around us of his divine abilities.

Do we really need more proof or more faith?Click To Tweet
What greater sign do we need from God that he can handle our trials and struggles that he hasn’t already done for us?Click To Tweet

Do we seek God like the Pharisees and crowd does, only searching for the next miracle? Are we missing the point as well?

Our relationship with God goes deeper than him supplying for all of our needs and making sure everything is good in our lives all the time. Our relationship with God is more than just a good feeling that is temporary. Our relationship with God is eternal and everlasting.

Behind every miracle lies a deeper message.Click To Tweet

What do you seek God for? To perform another miracle? Or to be your Messiah who has come to give you life?

Searching for a miracle from God without faith is like a person telling a horse to move without ears. Faith without action is dead. Seeking a miracle without receiving God’s deeper message is like sending Jesus to die for us without the resurrection. The death and resurrection of Jesus is the greatest message and miracle ever.

Jesus’ death would be pointless if there wasn’t a resurrection. Jesus was preparing the hearts of people to have faith in him was going to require believing in the unseen of what God could do.

Matthew 17:20, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

We only need faith the size of a mustard seed for God to move the mountains in our life.Click To Tweet

Do you believe our faith in God leads to life’s biggest miracles?

Do you see the pattern of a message then a miracle in your life?

It’s all about meeting Jesus right where we are. In Him, we have life to the full that is complete and everlasting (John 10:10). Have a blessed week!

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The Power of An Invitation

I will never forget the first time I attended my first Bible study in 2012.  I had been a Christian my whole life, went to church, read the Bible, but never attended a formal Bible study.  I could name a million reasons why I didn’t attend before then;  busy with motherhood, I worked during the week, I had to take care of the house, etc.  It’s funny how God has a way to always point you in the right direction.

I was at a point in my relationship with God where I knew He wanted me to take the next step towards a deeper relationship with him;  but I didn’t know how.  One day I was standing in the preschool parking lot talking with a friend, pouring out my heart to her.  I had just started to attend the same church as her.  As she was listening to me, she had opened the door to something bigger than I could have ever imagined.  She invited me to a Women’s Bible Study at the new  church I was attending.  I immediately accepted the invitation.  I was excited, because I knew God had used her that day not only to invite me, but to point me in the right direction towards what He had desired for me.

The day I stepped foot into my first Bible Study, I was hooked and I never looked back.  Once I started, I couldn’t get enough.  I wanted more.  Her  invitation to Bible study changed my life.  I never knew how much I was missing until I entered into God’s presence, opened up the Scriptures and allowed God’s truth into my heart.  My friend was faithful in listening to God, to invite me that day.  I only had to enter through the open door, God did the rest.

 

God used my friend in a big way that day.  I am so glad she listened to the prompting of the Holy Spirit to invite me that day.  Her invitation changed my life.  God’s words are what transforms our hearts, nourishes our souls, and gives life to our spirits.  God’s love is not meant to be hidden, but shared with everyone.

Just imagine if the three wise men never accepted God’s invitation to see the birth of baby Jesus.  They would have missed out on seeing the birth of their king.

Just imagine if Paul didn’t accept God’s invitation that day on the road to Damascus when he was blinded by the light.  We would have never seen God’s ability to  transform Paul’s heart, from someone who persecuted Christians to someone who risked His life to save them.

Imagine if the Disciples and the Apostles never accepted God’s invitation to become followers of Christ.  We would have missed out on the greatest message ever told. We would have never seen God’s ability through the Holy Spirit to grow the church.

We are merely vessels God uses to carry out His greater plan.  We are all apart of God’s great amazing story of the gospel.  If we never shared it with anyone, imagine how many  people miss out on the beautiful message of the gospel.

The worse thing a person can say is ‘No.’  God will continue to pursue their hearts.  You only need to be faithful in prayer of how God can use you.  

There will always be 101 things keeping us away from studying the Bible.  Not one of those reasons are ever good enough to keep us away from spending time with God.  When we give God the time He has given us, He will provide all the time we need to get everything else accomplished that He desires for us.

Have you been prompted to invite someone to church or Bible study?  You never know how God will use you to impact the life of someone else.  Your invitation might be the very thing a person needs to take their next step.

Have you ever accepted an invitation that changed your life?

How has Bible Study impacted your life?  

To learn more about why studying the Bible is so important Click Here.

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This post was first published on www.akchristianwomensministry.com.


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Born to Fly

This post is in honor of my daughter’s 10th birthday.

A letter to my daughter:

It’s hard to believe it’s been 10 years since you have been on this earth. Where has the time gone?  It’s hard to believe when you entered into this world you were only a mere 3 pounds 8 ounces! You came way too early, I was not ready. How glorious it was to hear your screaming cry as you first encountered this world! You have never ceased to amaze me from the day you were born. Even though you had so many odds against you—they didn’t matter, you defied them all!

 

You have been fearfully and wonderfully made by the hands of God (Psalm 139:4).

 

You have taught me it doesn’t matter how big or small a person is to be able to make their mark in this world. What you lack in size you make up in spirit.

 

God has given you not a spirit of fear, but of power, love and self-discipline (2 Timothy 1:7).

 

You are one of the most determined people I know. When everyone is swimming down the current you are swimming up. You are a perfect picture of what perseverance looks like.  Keep swimming, never give up!

 

The first moment I saw you, I knew God had big plans for you (Jer. 29:11). Everyone in this world has been born with a purpose–my sweet child you were BORN TO FLY!  No matter how many times you fall you always get right back up and want to try again. Most people would have given up long ago when they can’t get it right, but not you. Never lose your determination or will to keep trying.  It will take you farther than you ever know.

 

Never let this world tell you, you can’t. Never believe you are anything less than who God says you are. I am glad God has made you small, so everyone can see how big your heart is. Your heart is filled with a kindness for others like none I’ve ever seen. Keep treating others with kindness and love to as many people as you can, in as many places as you can, for as long as you can. Your kindness shine the light of Jesus to others.  His kindness and love is a language everyone can understand.

 

“You are the light of the world.  A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.  Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl.  Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.”  Matthew 5:11-15

 

Your heart will continue to grow immeasurably more when you allow God’s desires to be your desires. Keep allowing God to be a lamp unto your feet so he can always guide your steps and way.

 

You have been a blessing in so many ways and you have no idea how much I love you.

 

I know we have our stumbling and roadblocks at times and had to face adversities, but I’m so glad we have each other and God to walk through these times together. I pray you will always seek God for truth, wisdom and strength, He will provide for any of our needs if we just ask Him.

 

“Blessed are those who find wisdom, those who gain understanding.”  Proverbs 3:13

 

I pray you will bloom wherever you are planted. I pray God’s seeds that  He has planted in your heart will take root, flourish and grow into something beautifully amazing, greater than you can imagine. I can’t wait to see all God has in store for you. He will use you for great and mighty things, one that only a small person with a big heart can do.

 

“But I have raise you up for this very purpose, that I might show you my power that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.”  Exodus 9:16

 

Don’t be in a hurry to grow up to fast.  You only have 18 summers as a child.  Enjoy everyone of them.  You have the rest of your life to be an adult.  Cherish your childhood, you can never go back once you leave it.

 

There will be times we fail.  Never allow your failures to define your past but propel you to try harder and strive to do your best in the future.  Failures don’t limit us, our fears do.  Never allow your fear to be greater than what God is able to do.

 

I can do all things in Christ who gives me strength. Phil. 4:13

 

At times it will seem like you are up against battles as big as giants. Always remember David when he faced Goliath. He didn’t see the giant, he saw God’s power. When everyone else saw defeat, David saw through God all things are possible (Matt. 19:26).

 

God’s plans are always bigger than what we are up against (Jer. 29:11). There may be times you fall, but keep getting back up. God’s plans will always provide a way for you to FLY!  God LOVES you more than you will ever know.

 

It seems like only yesterday you were in diapers running around the house. Now you are doing cartwheels around the house. It seems like yesterday you lost your first tooth and now you are ready for braces. It seems like yesterday you were in kindergarten.  It seems these moments keep going by faster and faster and before I know it, you will leave for college.

 

I appreciate who you are.  God is equipping and preparing you to do great and amazing things!  You are loved beyond measure.  You are and are becoming such a lovely young lady. Keep being you, because everyone else is taken. You are one of the biggest blessings in my life and am so honored to be your mother.  And never forget you were BORN TO FLY!

 

I love you so much.

Love, Mom

I love this picture of my daughter enjoying herself in her muddy mess

 

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Chicken Soup for the Soul: Military Edition {Giveaway}

“I like to see a man proud of the place in which he lives.  I like to see a man live so that his place will be proud of him” quote Abraham Lincoln.

I am so excited to announce the story I submitted last year to Chicken Soup for the Soul has been accepted and published in the Military Edition!  I am humbled and honored to have our story alongside other men and women who have served and been the force behind the forces.  And I’m thankful to have another opportunity to be published in the Chicken Soup Series!

I can’t believe how completely different our lives look now.

Never in my life did I think I’d be in this place I am today.  Never in a million years did I think I would be living in Alaska, living on a military base with my husband serving in the United States Air Force.  Never did I imagine all that we would see and learn just by taking a step of faith out of our comfort zone.  Only God.

You just never know what God has planned.

Even though we left everything we knew–family, friends, kid’s school, our home, jobs, etc.  We wouldn’t trade the military or Alaska for anything.  Coming up here we have become a closer knit family.  Moving to a place where you know no one, makes a family depend on each other in ways you never had before.  We also get to meet amazing military families who sacrifice their lives and serve just so we can be safe.

There is so much more to our story than what is published.  God has been writing our story for quite some time and is always full of surprises!

Life wouldn’t be life if there weren’t curve balls, sharp turns or detours would it?

As I am writing these words, we are getting ready to embark on our new journey to Colorado!  In fact we could really use your prayers.  There are a lot of unknowns of where we will live and what school our kids will attend.   We are trusting in God’s provision and leaving it in His hands.  Even though we don’t know how all the details are going to work, we know God has it already worked out for us.

There is something powerful in doing something bigger than yourself.

Alaska has taught us many things especially the art of camping and how to be prepared in all kinds of situations (wild life, negative degree weather).  We will be driving with our two kids and dog in our RV through Canada this summer, stopping by national parks along the way.  It is bittersweet for us to leave all the wonderful friends who have been our new military family to embark on our new adventure.  But we are excited for our new adventure that awaits.

Sometimes I question if we have to move every 3 to 4 years how are we able to grow roots?  I believe God uses us wherever we are.  He allows us to bloom wherever we are planted growing our roots deeper in every step of faith and act of obedience.  I will cherish the relationships and friendships we have made along the way and carry them in my heart wherever I go.  Each journey we go on grows us and prepares us for what God has in store (hence why we named our dog Journey ; ).

Our Journey Girl

Want a chance to win a copy of Chicken Soup for the Soul:  Military Edition for your self?  Before it is available in stores?

Here’s How to Enter:  Contest ENDS May 12th!  

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Do all three for THREE chances to win!  I will need your email to notify if you won.  The Contest is only for those who live in the United States.  I promise I will not share your info with anyone.  If you win I will need your mailing address so I can send you a signed hard copy of the book!  Please share with others so they can have a chance too!  I will announce the winner via Facebook and email.  Please like the Facebook page or leave your email in the comments in case you win!  Good luck!

Chicken Soup for the Soul:  Military Edition is available for pre-order purchase on www.amazon.com for only $10.37!  It’s a perfect gift to give to that special someone who serves for Memorial Day!

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7 Miracles I Have Witnessed as a Nurse

Have you ever witnessed a miracle, something so amazing, you knew it could only be God’s handiwork?  Being a nurse I can say I have been a first hand witness to some of life’s most amazing miracles.  I’ve witnessed countless births—babies taking their first breath of life as they enter into this world.  I’ve seen patients on their death bed who had no chance of survival, walk out of the hospital on their own two feet.  I’ve seen a father donate his own kidney to his son to give him a chance of life. It is an honor to be a nurse and a witness to some of life’s most precious moments that can only be explained as a miracle.  A miracle is something that cannot be explained by laws of nature but only by the divine work of God.

Here are 7 of the Most Precious Miracles I have witnessed (as a Nurse and Mother)-

1.  A Mother’s selfless act of giving her baby up for adoption–    I have worked in the operating room as a nurse anesthetist for over 13 years now and in that time, have witnessed hundreds of babies born.  I will never forget the love of the mother who gave her baby up for adoption.  I couldn’t imagine what that mother felt at that moment knowing she was giving her motherly rights away to another mother.  How selfless of the birth mother, putting her own child’s needs first before her own.  By giving up her rights she was giving another mother a chance to be a mother and a chance for a better life for the baby.  This selfless act of love reminded me of the selfless love Jesus gives us everyday.

2.  The Blind Couple-  One of the other births that I will never forget is a baby being born to a blind couple.  Both the mother and father were physically blind.  When their baby was born, they handed me their camera and asked me to take a picture of their new born child.  I literally had tears in my eyes taking the picture of their new baby, knowing they would never physically see their child with their own eyes.  What impressed upon me so much about their baby’s birth, was no amount of blindness can ever change the amount of love they had for their child.  Just because they couldn’t see their baby with their own eyes didn’t mean their love for their child was any less.  This picture of blindness showed me we may go through periods of darkness or spiritual blindness in our lives, but that doesn’t mean God ever leaves us or doesn’t love just as much.  

3.  #1 Nurse Necklace-  I will never forget the family who gave me a #1 nurse necklace.  I was a nurse on a medical floor and took care of an older gentlemen for many weeks.  This man had a very loving family. He became very ill and passed away a few weeks after being ill in the hospital.  I was so touched when the family invited another nurse and I to their father’s funeral.  I have had patients pass away before but have never been invited to their funeral.  Afterwards the family gave the other nurse and I a #1 Nurse necklace to thank us for taking care of their father.  It stirred my heart the way the family showed gratitude by giving us the necklace after their father passed away.  I never before had a family respond in that way and it moved me.  It showed the power in giving gratitude and kindness out of our grief and sorrow.  

4.  The Russian man-  I will never forget when a Russian man, whom I never met before, reached out his hand and said, “Do you believe Jesus Christ is your Lord and Savior?” I said, “yes.  Then he says, “You are my sister” (while still holding my hand).  We are all brothers and sisters in Christ, adopted into God’s one big family.  It doesn’t matter if we are Catholic, Greek or Jew when we accept Jesus as our Savior, what unites us as family is the blood of Christ.  

5.  The Roll Over Accident-  Have you ever witnessed something and you know what you saw, but couldn’t believe it?  My children and I were driving down the highway one day when it was raining.  A pick-up truck about 3 car lengths in front of us lost control and flipped horizontally (3 times) on it’s side with a flat bed trailer attached to it.  When the truck and trailer stopped rolling, it laid horizontally on it’s side laying across all 3 lanes of the highway.   Not one car hit the rolled over pick-up truck.  What was so amazing, all 3 passengers inside the truck boosted themselves out of the window and walked away unharmed.  It was a bone-chilling moment, knowing the accident could have been much worse, but God protected us.  This moment showed me not only do physical seat belts keep us safe but so does God’s belt of truth when it’s worn.  Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place.”  (Ephesians 6:14).  

6.  Brooklyn-  Our daughter Brooklyn who is almost 10 years old now, was born 8 weeks premature.  When she was born she only weighed 3 pounds 8 ounces.  She was too tiny to bring home and needed to stay in the hospital to learn how to feed and grow.  Her birth and life have nothing been short of a miracle.  Since she was born, she has alway defied the odds.  She came home after only 3 weeks (usually babies have to stay until they reach gestation).  She never needed oxygen when she was born, in fact she came out screaming!  One thing she has taught us is to trust in God’s plans.  Life may not turn out the way we planned but God’s plans are always greater and better.

7.  Bowen-  Out of all the miracles I have witnessed, there has been none greater than our son Bowen.  He is our third child born six years ago.  Even though he lived a short life of only two weeks on earth, his life impacted us greatly.  God used Bowen in a big way in our lives to show us how life’s most devastating moments can be turned into life’s greatest blessings.  How God takes our tragedy, our hardship and heartaches uses it, molds it and turns it into something more beautiful than it was before.  He showed us the meaning of living a life of love is a life worth living, when we are loving we are living.  There is no gift greater than that.  

Our son’s life taught us that God does answer prayer, maybe not in the way we want. Our son is no longer suffering, he is living a life free from pain, disease and sorrow.  God went ahead of us and made the greatest plan ever.  He is taking care of him until the day we will see him again. 

Have you ever witnessed a miracle from heaven?  Something that could have only been God’s handiwork?  Please Share!

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Join me next week for the 4 part series of meeting Jesus in the scriptures, our struggles and our everyday lives.  I would love to hear from you!    Please Leave Your Comments Below.  Have a Blessed Week!

Jesus In Disguise

Have you ever had an encounter with Jesus that totally changed your life? I wanted to share with you about the first time I went to Honduras on a mission trip with our church.  We went down to help build a building for the sponsor children for Compassion International.  We were in a community outside of Progresso, Honduras.  One day the pastor took us on a walk to show us some of the other projects the church had completed over the previous 12 years.  They had built a water system for the community to have clean drinking water, houses for those in need and now the Compassion house.

One of the houses we visited in particular, was fragile and could have been blown down by a gust of strong wind.  It had thin walls, a metal tin roof and dirt floors. This house was among many which did not have electric or running water.  The owner of this house was a woman who invited us into her home.  Many women were left behind to tend homes on their own while their husbands left to find work far away.

When she invited us in she wanted to show her gratitude by offering the only meal she had—a chicken (which is expensive).  It was obvious she did not have much to give and yet she wanted to offer us her very last meal.  We said no we we already ate, please keep your chicken.  She was insistent to give us all she had even though she had no idea where her next meal was going to come from.  We did not eat her chicken but left her home filled with a richness so abundant that it was hard to describe.

What the woman gave me that day could never compare to anything I could ever give to her.  She gave when she had nothing to give.  She was like the widow who gave everything she had.  

Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. 44 They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.” (Mark 12:43-44)

She showed me a giving out of faithfulness to a degree I have never seen before.  Her giving was so selfless.  The only way I could describe it was, Jesus in disguise.  Her offering out of poverty, giving everything she had to live on to us was the richest gift I had ever received.  

“You can always give without loving, but never love without giving.” ~ Amy Carmicheal

Her giving showed me the love of Jesus, how he loves and thinks of us.  She was not afraid to give her love not knowing where her next meal was going to come from.  She gave without an expectation of receiving.  She lived faithfully in the love of Jesus, relying on Him for her every need and provision. His love knows no limits, is not bounded by boundaries, but free to everyone. Her offering her last meal, gave like Jesus gives to us everyday.  His love isn’t meant to be kept hidden but shared with others.  

I have never forgotten what she gave me that day. She gave me the courage to be courageous in love, not be afraid, share the love of Jesus with others, so they too may know there is no greater love than His.

Her giving challenged me to ask myself, what am I willing to give to others to let them know how much Jesus loves them no matter what the cost? 

Have you ever seen Jesus in Disguise?

How did it impact you?

“I’ve told you these things for a purpose: that my joy might be your joy, and your joy wholly mature. This is my command: Love one another the way I loved you. This is the very best way to love. Put your life on the line for your friends.” John 15:12-13 MSG

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