Gather

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Five-Minute-Friday-4-300x300I’m joining Kate Motaung for Five Minute Friday. One word prompt. Five minutes. No editing. Lots of women. All of us writing on that same word.

Today the word prompt is … Gather.

“Gather” seems to bring several thoughts to mind – – we bring things together into one group or place; to pick up piece by piece; to focus your attention on a point.

Amazingly, God’s people are gathering online and forging relationships with God’s Word and prayer as their foundation.

Women from all walks of life, varied ages, different stages of life gather online, in small groups, to share their day to day burdens and pray for one another. Having never seen each other face to face, bonds are being formed which are strengthened by God alone.

I can waken in the morning and find a message, a prayer, or a verse shot off, unbeknownst to me, which will be exactly the Word I need to get through my day. We waken in the dark and still of the morning to gather and encourage one another as we study Scripture.

Someone might say, “These are not real relationships.” Let me correct you. They are real. They are strong bonds. They are caring.

We gather together in one place, online, focusing our attention on one need, praying and picking up the pieces of situations and bringing them before God’s throne.

And the blend of voices, raised to our God in concert, have power – His power.

“I also tell you this: If two of you agree here on earth concerning anything you ask, my Father in heaven will do it for you. For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them.” (Matthew 18:19-20, NLT)

 

Today I am joining … Five Minute Friday and Everyday Jesus and Faith Filled Friday and Dance With Jesus and Fellowship Friday .

The Day I Met Jesus

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9781441222398Each of our lives tell a story. Our stories will live on long after we leave this earth. The Day I Met Jesus: The Revealing Diaries of Five Women from the Gospels by Mary DeMuth and Frank Viola, recounts the dramatic encounters Jesus had with five different women.

Five women – broken, imperfect, unwanted – whose lives changed forever the instant they met Jesus. Their stories are written poignantly and intimately in a diary sort of fashion. Mary paints a portrait of each of these women with such detail so as to transport the reader back to the very day of the meeting. She brings clarity and emotion to each story as she recounts what each woman experienced leading up to their encounter….

  • The Diary of a Woman Caught in Adultery. The woman set up, trapped with no way out. And we discover , “Grace ushers in forgiveness, but it also empowers us to walk in a new way.”
  • The Diary of a Prostitute Who Loved Much. She loved men, faking interest, in the hopes one would truly love her back. And we discover, “God had a bigger plan, that He could trump what others had done and renew it somehow.”
  • The Diary of a Desperate Samaritan Woman. She was beautiful but unable to bear children. Barren. Rejected and set free yet freedom would mean being homeless, empty and alone. And we discover, we are each sought out by our God. We are loved. We are noticed. He brings hope.
  • The Diary of a Woman with a Flow of Blood. An infirmity which could not be helped. Constant, nagging bleeding which caused pain and isolation. This woman was desperate beyond all measure. Can we even begin to comprehend living without being embraced. No affection. Ostracized. And we discover, our Lord will let us come and touch Him even when we are yet unclean. God’s Kingdom breaks past our muddled situations and brings restoration.
  • The Diary of the Woman Whom Jesus Loved. Mary, the sister of Lazarus. The woman who sat at the feet of Jesus taking in His words. And Jesus welcomed her, urging her to stay and listen. And we discover, being a servant is not about what we do. It is about our hearts being open and listening to Jesus, remaining teachable and close to Him. For it is then we find ourselves filled with hope in a troubled world.

Mary weaves each story rich with emotions and images. In reading these stories, we find our own stories in the midst of these women. As the narration goes on, the words of Jesus speak deeply into our hearts, touching places still needing freedom and healing. Mary DeMuth presents biblical narrative which paint vivid pictures of the real encounters with God in the flesh on the very soil of our earth.

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Frank Viola further delves into each story by providing rich historical and theological background making the tale relevant to today. He applies life changing truths which will impact every reader, both women and men. This truly is not a book solely for women.

I am so grateful to have read this book for as I discovered I am no different than any of these five women …

For life has never been the same since The Day I Met Jesus.

 

 

11001744_10153685276970110_5605839561662901230_nThe authors have graciously provided a free sample of the first chapter which you may DOWNLOAD right here.

 

**I was provided an electronic copy of the book in exchange for my honest opinions which were my joy to give.

 

Today I am joining …. Thought Provoking Thursday and Woman 2 Woman and Literacy Musing Mondays and Booknificent Thursday .

 

Life Simplified

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11015084_865590096835214_4335680576188250137_nLife can get cluttered at times with activities, responsibilities and thoughts which can detract us from that which we most need – time spent with God.

For the last week, we took time to concentrate on various ways to simplify our life in order to keep our focus Jesus:

  • Mary and Martha. Martha stayed busy with her chores similar to the very ones we have each day. Mary took the time to sit at Jesus’ feet and simply “be” with Him.
  • If left unchecked, busyness will overtake everything else in our lives. Every so often, we need to take time to evaluate what may have been pushed into the backseat which truly needs tending. It may be that we find it is our very souls which most need attention.
  • We can find strength to live each day joyfully. But it will take strength – the strength of Christ.
  • We can create joyful, Christ-honoring homes and environments. Joy is contagious. As we tend to our own souls each day, the joy Christ gives to us will then splash onto those around us – at home, at work, and every place we go.
  • Relationships are messy. Unforgiveness is even messier. May we find the strength to forgive others as we have been forgiven by Christ. Enough said.

I have learned the secret of living ….. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:12-13, NLT)

 A child of God should be a visible beatitude for joy and happiness, and a living doxology for gratitude and adoration. (C.H. Spurgeon)

A living doxology.

May that be each of us.

Today.

And every day.

 

Today I am joining … #SmallWonder and Create With Joy and Making Your Home Sing .

He’s With Us

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Strengthen me, Lord, with your spirit and your might, and give me a strong, firm faith, so I might say to you: My confidence, my God in whom I hope to save me. Let your wisdom be my shield.

O Lord, help me, for I desire you. Protect me, for I acknowledge your name. O Lord, I call on you, so hear me. Be with me in trouble, rescue me with your almighty hand, and show me eternal salvation in Jesus Christ, our dear Savior. Amen.

(from Amish Prayers, compiled by Beverly Lewis, page 35)

“Those who know your name trust in you, for you, O Lord, do not abandon those who search for you.” (Psalm 9:10, NLT)

Iranian Shepherd Leading His Flock Home**

 

Today I am joining … Give Me Grace and Still Saturday and Sunday Stillness and Spiritual Sundays and Scripture & A Snapshot .

**Photo: © Kazuyoshi Nomachi/Corbis

Visit

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I’m joining Kate Motaung for Five Minute Friday. One word prompt. Five minutes. No editing. Lots of women. All of us writing on that same word.

Today the word prompt is … Visit.

Visit has often been thought of as a social call – you know the kind. You go stay with a friend or family member for a period of time to catch up on life. Those are often looked forward to and anticipated with excitement.

Looking up the word, visit, in the dictionary, I discovered this definition … “to go to for the purpose of official inspection or examination” (dictionary.com). Now that is a visit of a whole other color and probably not as eagerly anticipated. These would include the likes of dentists, doctors, teacher conferences even.

Yesterday we had an unexpected visit to go pay. It included an unscheduled ride and in our minds, one which could have been avoided had things worked out differently or  had we been the ones to do the planning.

So we may have done a little grumbling, probably a lot of out loud complaining even. Just being honest. But off we went to our visit.

On the way home from our visit, we were singing a most different song. No complaining. Only praise. Only gratitude.

The visit was not of our choosing. The visit was not convenient. The visit was tiring. But the lesson learned yesterday ….

“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called to his purpose for them.” (Romans 8:28, NLT)

God was with us, guiding our steps, while we were yet totally unaware. He knew where we needed to visit and exactly who we were to visit. He was protecting and making provision behind the scenes.

 He works everything.

For the good.

Even the hard visits.

 

Today I am joining … Five Minute Friday and Fellowship Friday and Everyday Jesus and Faith Filled Friday and Dance With Jesus .

It’s The Same Storm

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Winter storm "Juno" hits Boston*

It has truly been a hard winter. I look out off my back deck and the snow is about as high as our deck. The thrill of snow and days off has worn thin. If you don’t believe me, just take a trip to the supermarket.

It was just a normal day. No storms predicted. No snow was falling. It wasn’t even that cold out. People were angry on the road. Grumpier in the store. I could not wait to get home and quickly announced, “I may be doing PeaPod until the summer.”

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We laughed about it and then this observation was made … “Yeah, the winter has been hard. But it’s been hard on everybody.”

We noted that while the majority of people were exhibiting irritability, there were still those who were not. And so we wondered …

  • Could it be that the stormy winter gave people permission to be irritable in public?
  • Could it be that they were grumpy all along but kept it under wraps?
  • Could it be this was the new “them”?

I’ve been thinking about this for days now. And yes, I do realize I have probably been cooped up in the house way too long. But then, the “crazies” are out there and I’m holding out for spring, remember?

It was then a familiar passage of Scripture came to me, along with a children’s song I learned in Sunday School.

It’s the story of the two builders – one builds his house on the sand and one on the rock. A storm hits and we know the outcome. The one on the rock stands firm. The one on the sand “fell with a great crash” (check it out for yourself. The story is in Matthew 7:24-27).

Here’s the thing I missed all these years. Or maybe it was because the rock and sand foundations were always emphasized. But this week as I read, I realized the same storm hit them both.

Same storm.

Different outcome.

Scripture describes the storm exactly the same way for each of these builders – “The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against the house” (found in verse 25 and verse 27). It wasn’t that one experienced a drizzle and one a hurricane.

It was exactly the same storm.

No matter what we experience in life, we will not be the first to have experienced it and we will not be the last. There is nothing new under the sun. I fully get that the details of our situations can vary yet there are more similarities than differences.

I sat wondering, what is the difference? Why can some go through difficulty and remain pleasant while others become as unreasonable as all get out?

And there, before me lie the answer. It was in red – the very words of Jesus Himself –

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice……” (verse 24)

It is in the practicing of His Word, intentionally living out each day according to the way He has set out, that we are able to stand the storms of life with joy. It is not solely in the hearing. One must apply His Word, actively living it out, day in and day out.

In good times and in bad. In joy and in sorrow. In abundance and in want. In sure times and in the uncertain.

Storms will come.

Take that one to the bank.

But how we each come through is entirely up to us.

Put His words into practice.

 

Today I am joining … Thought Provoking Thursday and Coffee for Your Heart and Woman 2 Woman .

Photo Credits: * © Paul Weiskel/Demotix/Corbis

Wednesdays With Winnie

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103-winnie-the-pooh

We are blessed when we have people in our lives who teach us lessons which impact our lives. We are beyond blessed when the person teaching us those life impacting lessons also happens to be your mom.

I am one of those persons who is beyond blessed.

Truly.

I always knew as a kid she was special as my friends always loved her. And this is saying something, as she also worked in my school! Now as an adult, I am coming to appreciate the depth of her character in leaps and bounds.

Mom possesses this amazing ability to look beyond circumstances to the good. It is not the same as positive thinking. Mom always frames it within the context of God’s goodness and His ability to get us through all things.

Over the years as difficulties hit, I have heard her say {countless times}, “This time tomorrow {{or next week or next month}} it will all be over (or finished or accomplished}.” She always helped us to see that in God’s time, He would get us through the situation and it would become a part of our past. She made us realize there is no situation which God cannot change – in His time, in His way. Our part was to hold on.

It was a perspective which looked beyond – beyond what was occurring, beyond the pain, beyond the difficulty to the possibility of what lay waiting for us.

Beyond, as defined by dictionary.com >> “on, at, or to the farther side of; farther on than; more distant than.” But I stopped in my tracks as I read this one >> “outside the understanding, limits, or reach of, past.”

In the middle of those definitions, I found the truth mom already knew –

When life is beyond our comprehension, beyond our endurance, beyond anyone’s ability to help – we look beyond to Him.

These last few months, mom and I have shared some life experiences which we never would have, or could have, anticipated. Each time we leave the house, one of us says to the other, “We’re going on our adventure for the day.” {{smile and laughter follows}} And it truly has been an adventure to which our God has been more than faithful to us.

You may be wondering why I am sharing so much about my mom. To answer that, I must tell you she is the most incredible woman and today is her birthday.

Her 80th to be exact!!!

God has not only blessed her with long life but with a sharp mind which is still intact, a love for my dad and our family which is fierce, a sense of humor which keeps us all laughing till our eyes squirt and our sides hurt. She has more wisdom and understanding in her small five foot frame than a room full of people put together.

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Happy Birthday, Mom! There will never be words to express the depth of my love for you. You truly are the greatest influence in my life as you have always pointed me to Jesus. You never gave me permission to give up or lose hope. Your faith and trust in God has been contagious for which I will forever be grateful. Thank you for continually being a living example of looking beyond!

“I lift up my eyes to the hills – where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.”
(Psalm 121:1-2, NIV)

Or in the words of my friend, Winnie the Pooh –

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Today I am joining … Tell His Story and Three Word Wednesday and Wedded Wednesday and Works for Me and Coffee & Conversation and Women With Intention .