Christmas Cheer

My favorite time of year to decorate.

Keeping it simple – most of my ornaments are handmade by our son from when he was in elementary school, some are from my sister, and some are from my mom. πŸ™‚

I love putting up the tree and set out my village sets.

North Pole – Not sure if you can see him or not but the pup won the race beating out Santa and Mrs. Claus and Santa’s workers. πŸ™‚
The Village – After all the elves need a place to shop when they aren’t working. πŸ™‚

Putting out the village sets, I was like a kid in the candy store trying to pick out his or her favorite candy only to discover that all of the candy are favorites. It’s a good thing you weren’t here as I decorated. I’m sure you would have shaken your head in wonder. I was talking to the villages telling each piece where it would be placed and how, when you arrive at the train station, you had to be sure to stop by the radio station before making your way to the church. I even told the pup that won the race, that next week he would come in last, so one of Santa’s workers could have a shot at first place. Of course they will all eventually make it to first place it’s only fair. That’s right, a kid in the candy store.

As I was decorating, setting each piece out with care, making sure to find just the right spot, I thought about the time and care that God took when He created the universe and mankind. I could almost visualize His eyes twinkling with anticipation as He rubbed His chin thinking about every detail and the love He would put into it all. Can you see it? Can you imagine the canvas and palette of colors as he created the universe? The loving details He placed in each one of us? Oh to see the joy on His face as He created His masterpieces. I can imagine Him whispering to each us Jeremiah 29:11 reminding us of the things He wants for us.

Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

One of my favorite verses, it is a perfect reminder of what He wants for us. Peace. Future. Hope.

It is my prayer that if you don’t already have it, that you will find your peace, your future, and your hope in Him. God bless!

Peace After Chaos

Yeah, it’s that time again. Thanksgiving with the family is over, your belly is full of good eats, your heart is filled with contentment having spent a joyful day with the family and reflecting on the year that just flew by. Now you get to jump into the fray of Black Friday sales where you get to push, shove and fight through crazy crowds of people hoping to get that one little or big item that you just have to have. Of course nowadays all you have to do is turn on the computer, hit a few buttons and snap, you’re done with shopping. No crazy crowds of people, you’re finished with your shopping list and you didn’t even have to leave the house!

Thinking about the chaos that comes with Black Friday sales I started thinking about the enemy and how he the not only likes chaos, he likes to create as much chaos as possible in our lives. He likes to stir up the waters cause strife, confusion, and discontent. A master of deception, he thrives on the chaos he creates.

2 Timothy 2:23 “But avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they will generate strife.”

As I hit the add to cart tab adding Christmas gifts to the little shopping cart, I think to myself, now this is the way to go. No long lines to wait in, no pushing or shoving to search through piles of stuff on sale. No shopping carts to maneuver around and no people to walk around as they stand in the middle of the aisles talking to friends and acquaintances blocking the path you want to go down. I mean seriously? You’re blocking the aisle when all you have to do is move to one side so people can pass. And just like that I’m not stressing over the gifts I need to buy.

It reminds me of Christ and how He can turn chaos into peace. He takes the chaos in our lives and smooths out the confusion, strife, and discontent when we let Him. Instead of jumping into the fray, we can sit back open the Word feed on His truths letting the chaos slide off our backs as a peace begins to envelope us wrapping us in comfort. It doesn’t mean that we won’t ever again experience chaos in our lives, but as we continue to press in to the Word of God, we will find that we are not alone. He is with us bringing peace in the midst of chaos when we put our trust in Him.

Philippians 4: 6-7 “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

Chaos reigns when you let it. Peace comes when you seek it and embrace it through Jesus. I’m praying for you.

Happy Thanksforgiving

It’s that time of year again, when we set aside a day to remember all the things that we are thankful for. I am thankful for my health, my family, a roof over our head, my wonderful precious friend who encouraged me to take a step of faith and begin this blog. I am also thankful for the visitors and my followers, may you be blessed beyond measure. Mostly and most important of all, I am thankful for God’s mercy and grace that He extends every day. For Jesus who chose to give up everything and come to earth as a baby; grow to be a man and die on the cross that we might have eternal life with the Father.

John 3:16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

Thanksgiving is a time to reflect not only on the things we are thankful for but also to extend forgiveness to those who may have hurt us. Forgiving isn’t always easy to do. The hurt may run to deep to think you could ever forgive. However, forgiving others isn’t for their benefit but for yours. It sets you free from the hurt you experienced giving you a cleansing breath of fresh air that comes from forgiveness. You know, like when you’re in the mountains, and you take that deep breath of clean air that’s so refreshing and sweet. As you sit around the table today enjoying family and fellowship be thankful for the good things and take a minute to reflect if there is someone you may need to forgive. Big or small when you hurt and it stays with you then it’s time to take it out and examine if it’s worth holding on to the hurt.

Ephesians 4:32 Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.

Thanks for stopping by. Happy Thanksgiving and God bless!

Do You Have What It Takes?

Do you have what it takes to be transparent? To see yourself as others see you and not the way you see yourself? Better still, can you step back and see yourself the way God sees you? If you are reading this it isn’t by chance we met here today.

One of the hardest things to do is to see yourself through the eyes of others much less seeing yourself through God’s eyes. It is often said that the eyes are the window to a man’s soul. As you look in the mirror the eyes staring back at you gives you a glimpse of the past, present and yes, possibly the future if you look closely enough. Not that we can see or even predict the future, but depending on how you view yourself will determine how you will live your life. Do you see hope? Joy? Fear? Anger? Confusion? Or maybe, you don’t see anything but the darkness.

There was a time in my life when I saw only darkness. I hated myself to the point I became destructive. I spiraled down into an abyss that quite frankly I didn’t expect to escape it. [I want to insert here that this is not the path I planned on taking with this post. But God is in control and He has put us on this path so here we are.]

In high school, I remember being invited to a party with a friend of mine and the only thing I remember is sitting in a Waffle House downing black coffee. Couldn’t tell you how I got there, couldn’t tell you who I was with. What I can tell you is that it would be the beginning of that downward spiral that would last for years. I began drinking to forget about life. I graduated high school and started working full time that summer.

That fall a friend of mine who was a senior in high school invited me to go with her to a football game. There we would meet a guy who would introduce me to the world of drugs and become my future husband. In the beginning I wasn’t interested in getting to know him but my friend was. She had her eye on him, he had his eye on me and I really didn’t care one bit about getting to know him. Eventually we would start dating and when he moved out of state to help his grandmother settle his grandfather’s affairs I followed. Dysfunctional as my family was they weren’t keen on my leaving home. I wasn’t keen on staying and it wouldn’t be long before my world would shift. Settling in to a new life we partied every weekend doing drugs and drinking and not having a care in the world. We got married and soon after he started controlling my life. I had no friends of my own. I had only his friends. I wasn’t allowed to contact my family unless it was to ask for money. Yeah, I could contact them when we needed money to pay for bills since the bill money had been spent on drugs.

One wintry morning on my way to work I opened a door you don’t ever want to open. I invited the enemy in and turned my back on God. I was angry at how my life was going and blaming God for my mistakes. For not rescuing me from a controlling marriage or from the drugs and alcohol. It would take me seven and a half years to work up the courage to leave him. During that time I became pregnant and his mother convinced him that we didn’t need to bring a child into this world and he listened to her. He told me I would have to abort our child. No discussion just stated the facts and had me make the appointment. It was horrible. [If you or someone you know has ever had an abortion, then you know what I am talking about. For those who would judge, you should remember that it’s not your place to judge. Matthew 7: 1 – Judge not, that you be not judged.] You may be wondering why I didn’t stand up to him. I was a mess and he had control over my life. By this time it was easy to believe the lies.

It says in Psalms 119: 176 “I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek Your servant, for I do not forget Your commandments.”

I was lost having gone astray. I knew God’s commandments, as a child I had accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior. Even in my hardened heart, I knew His commandments and what I was doing was wrong. Why would someone stay in a situation like that? Why does anyone stay in situations that aren’t healthy for them? Fear. Fear and the lies the enemy feeds us.

Tired of spending most of our money on drugs I finally got the courage to move on and divorced my husband. I met someone who would take me even deeper into the abyss I thought I was escaping. Older than me by several years, I should have heeded the warning signs but truthfully I was naive and didn’t understand them for what they were. We became a couple and our relationship was volatile and filled with extreme jealousy. The age difference and continued drug abuse played a part as did the darkness he was taking me down. It was here I would begin to find my way out.

One night while sitting around partying we started talking about God. Yeah, you read right, God. He was talking about the Bible and I remember telling him that I would never get to heaven and shared about opening the door to the enemy and turning my back on God. The next weekend we stayed home. No parties, no going out, no drinking, no drugs. We went to bed early and that Sunday, he was dragging me to church. Not only that, he chose the side of the sanctuary that was furthest from the doors, about midway down the aisle, and in the middle of the row so that I was literally surrounded by people. NO ESCAPE! That day, I nearly had a panic attack. I tried to leave and he held my hand so I couldn’t get up. I whispered I needed to go to the restroom and he just looked at me and smiled and said to hold it. Seriously? The guy partied like nobody’s business and he was telling me to chill in church? Who was this guy? So once a month we started attending church. Our relationship was still volatile, still filled with jealousy and distrust. Then I got pregnant. I’m ashamed to say I didn’t keep this baby because once again I was being controlled and he said we weren’t keeping the baby. But something was happening. I was beginning to thaw. God was speaking to me. Slowly I was opening up to really hear God speaking to me. Gradually I quit doing drugs and eventually I quit drinking. I found out I was pregnant again only this time I stood up to him and told him I was having this baby with or without him and gave birth to a beautiful baby boy. I began attending church on a regular basis and rededicated my life to Christ.

During my pregnancy he told me if I tried to go through the courts to get child support he would quit his job and I would get nothing. As if I wanted his help. By this time our relationship deteriorated to the point we were living apart. It wasn’t until my third trimester that he began to get involved in helping me out. After the birth of our son he made it a point to be a part of his life. It would be a month after our son’s first birthday that he would pass away. I would go on to be a single mom until my son turned five when I would meet my future husband. Today, we celebrate 21 years of marriage. πŸ˜ŠπŸ’–

Ephesians 1:7 says “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins according to the riches of His grace.”

When I first started this post I had no idea where it would lead. Originally I thought I would be talking about something else that would prepare me to eventually write this post but as I stated earlier, God is in control and He has put us on this path so here we are.

Today I look in the mirror and I see hope, joy, peace and love. The darkness has faded but the enemy still seeks ways to attack. Transparent. Do you have what it takes? I’m praying for you.

Forest and Light

Have you ever found yourself at the edge of a forest looking out into the light and wondering why you can’t take that first step? You’ve managed to make it this far fighting through the dense forest, now it’s time to step into the light and you hesitate. Finally, you take the first step and it feels as though a weight has been lifted off your shoulders. You think “this isn’t so bad” as you take another step. You turn your face up to the light and feel the warmth on your face, the peace that envelopes you making you want to stay there.

Unease creeps in chasing you back into the forest and you find yourself back at the edge looking out into the light again. What’s happening? You see the light and you want to go back to experience the warmth and peace that you had only moments ago, but you can’t seem to take that step that will take you back there. You’ve been blinded by the enemy. He doesn’t want you out in the light living in freedom. He wants you confused and afraid. Hidden in the darkness that he controls.

Accustomed to living in the dense forest your first taste of freedom overwhelms and frightens you driving you back into what you consider your comfort zone because truthfully right now, it is.

You’ve heard the lies of the enemy for so long that the true freedom you experienced only moments ago seems like a lie instead of truth. You can’t believe that what you experienced will last. It doesn’t help that the enemy is whispering in your ear that it isn’t real. That it will only go away and you’ll be left with nothing but the darkness once again.

I looked on the internet and according to one article I found, it stated that the National Institute of Mental Health estimated that 16.2 million U.S. adults had at least one major depressive episode in 2016. I’m not surprised. You need only to look at the commercials on television these days and you’ll find all types of medicine that helps with this or that form of depression. I imagine everyone has experienced some form of depression at some point in their life.

Maybe you are that person who suffers from depression or you know someone who suffers from it. You could be a caregiver, friend, or a family member that sees them suffering and you feel helpless not knowing how to help them. Don’t give up. Be a safe place for that person to come too. Sometimes, the best thing you can do is just be there. Interact with them especially at their low point drawing them into a conversation or simply hold their hand. There is no guarantee that it will work every time but at least they will know they aren’t alone.

In Luke 4:18 Jesus read from the book of the prophet Isaiah “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are oppressed,” in verse 21 it says “And He began to say to them, ‘Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.'”

Jesus came to preach the gospel, to release the captives, give sight to the blind, and freedom to the oppressed. That’s great news! Freedom from captivity, from oppression, getting your sight back. Here’s the thing, people who are dealing with this disease are captives to the illness. They are blinded by the lies of the enemy and oppressed from their world of chaos. Jesus brings hope to their chaos, offers His hand to pull them out of the confusion, set them on solid ground and hold them steady as He opens their eyes to the truth and light.

Psalms 40:2 says “He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my steps.”

I leave you with this scripture: Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

The Lord wants you to have peace in your life. He wants you to have a future and a hope. The enemy wants only chaos, no future, and definitely no hope. As long as he can keep you in the dense forest that’s one less person he has to worry about living the life Christ intended for you to live.

I pray you can embrace Jeremiah 29:11 and find a way to step out of the forest and into the light.

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