Behind the Clouds

I first posted this a couple years ago, but I feel the need to share it again.  I have many friends and loved ones going through hard things right now, and in the light of Easter coming this weekend, I pray this post will be an encouragement!

This past Saturday morning I headed out early to purchase the last items I needed for my Easter dinner.  I was filled with excitement as I anticipated Easter Sunday and the joy of worshiping and remembering the empty tomb! The sky was kind of gray and cloudy as I headed out, but I needed to get this done.

As I drove into town, my mind went to the first Easter Saturday – that very day after Christ had been crucified.  I thought about the disciples, the many other people who had heard Jesus and believed He was Who He said He was, and of those that had seen His miracles and had turned in faith to Him as their Savior.  How must they have felt on that day after?  I’m sure many were filled with mixed emotions.  They had seen Him suffer, some had buried Him.  He was dead. Many must have felt hopeless, gloomy and discouraged.

“Oh!” I thought, “if only they could know what we know now they would never have doubted!  They would be as excited as I am as I anticipate Easter’s arrival tomorrow!”    They wouldn’t have been filled with sadness, gloom or despair if they could know what we know!

It was then that the Lord whispered in my heart,

“If you could know what I’m at work doing right now in your life, you wouldn’t be filled with despair in your trials either.”

How right He is!  Why do I doubt Him?  Why am I filled with sorrow in difficult days?  It’s because I believe the enemy’s lies when he says – “Nothing good could come from THIS!”  “Your life should be happier!”  “This is never going to get better – give it up!”

No!  My God is at work fulfilling His great plan for my life – to make me into the image of His Son.  It may take cloudy days, days of pain or suffering, but He’s got a reason, and I must trust Him!

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Still in my car and carrying on this dialogue with the Lord, I looked up to see that the sun had burst through the clouds in splendor and beauty.  It was a visual of the lesson He had just spoken to my heart.  Something lovely is behind the dark clouds; wait and watch!

What dark cloud of difficulty are you staring at today?  Keep your eyes on Christ! He is at work on a plan that will leave you speechless!

With love,

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Family Friday – Adding Wisdom to Your Marriage

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When my husband and I got married 35 years ago, we had had no official premarital counseling.   I did have the blessing of many talks with my mom beforehand, as well as my parent’s example, but not the kind of teaching that a pastor would typically impart today. I’ve remembered much of what I witnessed and have applied that to my married life, but through the years, I’ve found it so necessary to keep looking for wisdom to apply to my role as a wife.  Anything left dormant is bound to get moldy after a while! I don’t want my marriage to do that!!

The Lord tells us in Proverbs 8:33 –

 Hear instruction, and be wise, and refuse it not.

One way I’ve continued to get instruction is through reading Christian books on marriage.  I’ve tried to read several a year by just reading little portions each day to keep my marriage healthy.  A few of my favorites have been:

  • Proverbs!!!  I read it every month!!
  • A Woman After God’s Own Heart
  • Creative Counterpart
  • What’s it Like to be Married to Me?
  •  For Women Only
  • Love and Respect
  • The Excellent Wife
  • Praying God’s Will for My Husband – Praying for him changes me!

There are more, but those are some of my favorites that really helped me grow in my role as a wife.

Another way I’ve sought out wisdom is by listening to radio broadcasts and now podcasts.  I started with Focus on the Family.  That’s a no-brainer, right?  They support the Christian marriage with topics that really help the couple!

Now my favorite podcast is Revive Our Hearts. I cannot tell you how refreshing their broadcasts are.  Nancy has recently done a series on Titus 2.  It has been so practical and full of truth!  Just yesterday she shared a piece of advice that the late Vonette Bright shared with her on her wedding day.  Let me close by sharing it with you.

She said, “Submit to whatever brings him (your husband)
pleasure in everything . . . and you’ll be just fine.”

Nancy went on to add –

By no means was she to encouraging me to satisfy any sinful, selfish desire my husband might have. She was not implying that I would be my husband’s slave, or that my role was merely to fulfill his every whim.

Here was a dear widow who had enjoyed a deeply loving fifty-four-year marriage, and who knew first-hand the joys of having a disposition—an inclination—to follow her husband’s leadership.

That is good advice!
What do you need to submit to that would bring your husband pleasure?  Do it!

Your marriage needs the refreshment that daily wisdom will give it!  Are you continuing to grow in wisdom regarding your role as a wife?  What will you do as a result?  Will you start a habit of reading and/or listening?

Refresh your marriage,

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Refreshing Your Own Heart

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This week I shared some advice given to me on “How to Refresh the Hearts of Others.”  But has your own heart ever ached and wished someone would come and minister to you?  I understand.

This week has been full of activity, ministry and needs.  One morning when things seemed to be spinning out of control, I stopped – literally stopped with tears in my eyes and my heart pounding with frustration and the feeling of being overwhelmed.  I turned my heart to the Lord.  I told Him my burdens, my frustrations, and my need.  At the end of my prayer I said, “Lord, please show me what to do.”

It wasn’t much later after that the Spirit of God spoke to my heart, directing my steps in a clear, biblical answer. My plans were to head out the door to join others in a good thing – we were to pray together – but the Lord said,

“Be still.  Pray here.”  

I thought, “Really? That makes so much sense! Yes, Lord!  Thank you!”

I let my friends know I wouldn’t be joining them where they were gathered, but I did join them at the Throne of Grace from my home.  It kept me from running there, running back, then running to prep for another obligation later in the day.

It gave me rest.

It calmed my heart.

No one but the Lord could have done that.

Now I slowed my pace.  I took time to pray for the needs of others.  I cleaned the mess that was around me.  I added a few touches of decor in my dining room. I listened to a podcast while I worked.   It wasn’t long at all until my own heart was truly refreshed.  I was thankful that it had come completely from the Lord’s directives speaking into my heart and not from a person.  It made me so thankful for the reminder that God cares about every detail of my life – even the little things that can trouble my heart.

My need was so simple, really, and I know there are times when there are HUGE needs, but there is nothing too big for Him to handle!  When you have a hurt, confusion, anxiety, burden or longing that causes your heart to be filled with emptiness and longing, what do you do when God sends no one to your doorstep, your pew at church, or your side?

  1. Recognize the need to go to prayer and tell Christ about what’s on your heart.  He already knows, of course, but this isn’t for His benefit, it’s for yours.  Stopping to put that longing into words and tell the Lord is so helpful. Divine intervention is what you need, and if you don’t ask, how will you receive it? This time of prayer also makes us realize that we are completely dependent on Him.  That’s always the best place to find ourselves, because He is omnipotent!  In the day of my trouble I will call upon thee: for thou wilt answer me. Psalm 86:7
  2. While in prayer, ask God for His wisdom for the next step.  What do you do after you finish praying?  Without God’s help, you’ll be just as hopeless as before if you don’t have His direction for the next moment. But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day. Prov. 4:18
  3. Look for verses of promise regarding your situation and meditate on their truth.   If you can’t think of one off the top of your head, or you don’t have your Bible with you, Google it!  We ask Google for other things we need information on, right?  Use it now!  Google Bible Verses on God’s Provision  or Bible verses on Comfort.  A list will come up that can anchor your heart with Truth!!!  Know therefore that the LORD thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations. Deut. 7:9 
  4. Listen to music that will minister to your heart and calm you.  It’s amazing what good music will do.  I love to listen to instrumental music that points my heart to God.  It brings peace and a reminder of Who He is!
  5. Don’t isolate yourself!  Get with others that will encourage you.  It’s easy to want to sulk and be alone, but you need other believers to help you – even if they never hear a word from you about your trouble.  Invite a friend to lunch or coffee.
  6. Talk with a godly friend about your trouble and ask them to pray with you.  You decide with whom should share – it might be your husband, it might be a friend or your pastor’s wife.  Two are better than one.  Eccl. 4:9 Humble yourself and admit you have a need.  We ALL need encouragement from time to time!
  7. Put yourself in an environment that helps your attitude.  Open the blinds and curtains and let the sunlight in!  Straighten up the clutter that might be right in front of you.  Create the order that will clear your head and heart.
  8. Get some fresh air.  Take a walk in your neighborhood or walking path at the park.  Go walk through the nursery at Lowe’s or your local greenhouse.
  9. Do something you enjoy.  Stop for a sweet tea and take a drive in the country.  Go to the library.  Buy a bouquet of flowers for your kitchen table.  Stop for a Dairy Queen treat.  Rearrange your living room.  Do a craft you love.
  10. Do something for someone else.  See this list to remind yourself of what you could do!  The focus gets transferred from your problem to someone else.

I pray this will help you to know how to refresh your own heart when you need it!

What do you do when you’re anxious or feeling overwhelmed?

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It’s Christmas Again Today!

Christmas is over, and sometimes it can be a bit of a letdown afterwards, right?  But wait!  What if we considered that we have so much to be thankful for every single day?

Someone posted the best little video on Facebook this week that was a reminder of just how much we have, and how thankful we should be for all the little things every single day. It’s too good not to share with you all!  It’s less than two minutes long, but it’s powerful.

Here we go:

So now, look around you and consider that everything is a gift from our loving God, and be grateful and celebrate the joy of it all!

Merry today!

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It Will Be Christmas Anyway

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It’s “Crunch Time” for Christmas, and maybe you’re sitting in your comfy spot in your comfy clothes, coffee in hand, staring at the Christmas tree that doesn’t look quite like it did the night you put it up, thanks to the “help” of little hands or a burned out strand of lights. You turn that side of the tree towards that wall and know that it’s okay; it will be Christmas anyway.

The gift wrapping station is staring at you with a smirk, knowing you haven’t even opened that roll of wired ribbon that you bought with such high ambition, much less wrapped a package to put that imagined bow on. You pull out a pack of self-adhesive bows and pop one on gift bagged-wrapped present, and you know it’s okay; it will be Christmas anyway.

Your high hopes of gingerbread making, sugar cookie rolling and Pinterest crafting also got left behind the Flu wagon – the same place where that stack of dirty sheets are lying.  You pick up a tray of cookies at the grocery baker and breathe a prayer of thanks that everyone is finally well.You know it’s okay; it will be Christmas anyway.

Perfect Christmases never happen.  Plans and promises must often be rescheduled or put on hold, but no matter, Christmas will still be Christmas because,

**
Christ did come
God’s plan was perfect
God completely kept His promise
Christmas is history that will continue
until Jesus comes again to get His children in the rapture

Amen

The most important thing that must get done is for you to celebrate Christmas in your own heart.  Read God’s Word about the birth of Christ.  Revel in this lavish gift of God’s Son for your sin.  Spend time in prayer, thanking God for His redemptive plan. Then wipe your tears and head out to greet your family with a fresh glimpse of your Savior.  Your heart will be right, and so will your attitude. A renewed focus makes us realize that perfectness isn’t the goal, it’s worship, it’s memories, it’s time together, it’s about eternity and what will matter then.

You’re free now to go get out the frozen Sarah Lee Cheesecake, stuff the gift bags full, opt for a drive through the neighborhood to see the lights, turn on the Christmas CD in the car and sing and celebrate, knowing it’s all okay; it is indeed Christmas anyway!

Merry Christmas, my friends,

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How To Be the Greatest Blessing to Your Children

As parents, don’t we all long to be a blessing to our children?  There’s so much you could do, and it can sometimes be overwhelming, can’t it?  I mean we could…send them to a private school, homeschool them, give them private music lessons, take them to every service at church, feed them the best organic foods, make sure their immunizations are up to date, or bake them your famous chocolate chip cookies.  But is all this enough?  Too much?

I love how God’s Word breaks down Truth for us in a way that simplifies what we tend to complicate. I read in Proverbs 20:7 yesterday –

The just man walketh in his integrity: his children are blessed after him.

The “just” person is a woman who has trusted Christ as her Savior and now has a standing before God.  She is “justified” and God sees her through Christ as having never sinned.  Amazing, isn’t that?!  After that amazing transformation, she walks in integrity, and in so doing, is a blessing to her children.

What does it look like for a woman to “walk in integrity?”

  • She is steady.  She’s not waffling all over the place – hot and cold, back and forth, up and down.  She has her heart towards her Savior and her face towards heaven.
  • She is sold-out.  Her life belongs completely to God.  Therefore, she is in His Word daily, in His house regularly and on her knees consistently.
  • She is sparkling.  This doesn’t mean she never sins, but she is not involved in things that would cause someone to question her integrity.  Relationships are guarded, her heart is pure and her eyes are shielded against the things that would distract her from her spiritual goals.

Did you notice that none of those marks are things you do for your children? It’s nothing you buy for them or cook up in the kitchen. It’s all about who we are in our heart that makes us a blessing to anyone.  As we live out a faithful life for Christ, we are a blessing to those that we rub shoulders with, and who do you rub shoulders with more than those in your own home?!

So, what are you doing today that reveals your integrity?  Stay steady, sold out and sparkling, and you will be a great blessing to your children and grandchildren!  Oh, but go ahead and bake them some chocolate chip cookies!  A little sweet treat never hurt any mom’s reputation!

With love,

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Refresh Others

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It’s easy to know what you could use to refresh yourself – a little quiet, a hot, soaking bath, a cup of coffee or glass of tea, a magazine full of great recipes, and on an on.  But have you considered what you could do to refresh someone else?

This week I realized it had been a long time since I’d made any Sour Dough bread, because we’re trying to steer clear of such delicious carbs.  But I was reminded that I have a couple of neighbors that might appreciate a loaf!  One of them loves homemade bread; the other had given us fresh eggs from his hens and I thought a loaf of fresh-baked bread might be a good thank you.  So, I quickly mixed up two loaves and let them rise.  One loaf has been delivered and the other is set out and ready to go next door after Bible club.  It wasn’t a whole lot of trouble!  I love to bake!  I had everything on hand to make the loaves.  I sent them with a longing to be a blessing, and to represent Christ – the Giver of every good and perfect gift.  How can I not share with others?!

What do you have that you could give this weekend?

  • Time to make a visit to someone who may be lonely or discouraged?
  • An extra batch of cookies?
  • A book or magazine you’ve read and could share?
  • A meal?
  • A helping hand with housework or yard work?
  • A card with encouraging words?
  • Chocolate?

Proverbs 11:25b

He that watereth shall be watered also himself.

When you refresh others, you’re refreshing yourself!  So…

Stay refreshed,