Light Shining Out

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I have been quiet for a few days as I have been trying to sort out some questions in my heart. Let me share a bit ….

The Lulu Tree is an organization which has become dear to my heart this past year. They work to clear the path for Mamas and their children in Uganda so they may overcome obstacles and thrive as people – physically, emotionally, and spiritually. They partner with families and individuals in their own towns from around the world who share their resources, in small or large amounts. They desire to “Prevent tomorrow’s orphans by equipping today’s mothers.”

Starting July 1st, and throughout the summer, we ran the Change for Katwe Campaign, by which we hoped to collect change in order raise funds to go towards opening a halfway house in the slums of Katwe. You can read about it here. The campaign came to a close August 31st.

I had my mason jar set out for us to deposit our loose change and recycling money over the summer months. We filled it and even had to roll coins to make room for yet more coins. As the summer continued on, I suddenly became aware that while it was a campaign to raise money for the impoverished, perhaps it was me who was the one in need.

These sweet Mamas, many of whom live on one meal a day for themselves and their children, were also participating in this campaign. Seriously. The very ones we thought we were going to help, also wanted to give to raise funds for a home. They desired to come alongside of us here, in order to help other women and families in Katwe.

Pictures were shared of the Mamas, collecting their change, praying and celebrating what God would accomplish through the giving in unity. I took in the photos and their faces ….

11947612_758278820984094_7019617903775573375_nTheir beautiful faces spoke not only of joy but of their contentment and grateful spirits. Their expressions displayed a trust in God, Who they knew had provided for them and would continue to provide. The photos reminded me of a Scripture which I had been reading for several days:

“You are the light of the world – like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.” (Matthew 5:14-16, NLT)

It was I, who needed what they had – complete trust in the provision of their God. Humbling to think about, actually.

Their good deed was shining out for me to see and brought me to my knees, humbling myself before God.

I felt a deep conviction as I thought about the sheer disparity between them and myself. And I was so grateful that author Kelly Minter put words to what I was feeling:

It was the kind of rebuke that leads you someplace higher than the dead end of guilt and shame. I could feel some of my selfishness and pride withering up like a lit match, disintegrating in the presence of such humble and gracious spirits. By merely sharing their stories, they’d given me a new standard to live by, an even deeper intimacy with Christ that I’d hoped possible but had maybe stopped expecting. (from “Wherever the River Runs” by Kelly Minter, page 130)

They gave unbeknownst to anyone. They gave in obedience. They brought their change in the hopes of helping others who had greater needs than their own.

Their obedience changed me.
Their light did shine out.
To the praise of our heavenly Father!

 

Today I am joining … Thought Provoking Thursday and Looking Up and Everyday Jesus and Three Word Wednesday and Tell His Story and Women With Intention .

Without Seeing

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JoanneVWordImageLarge“Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy.”
(1 Peter 1:8, NIV)

The early Christians had the privilege of seeing Jesus with their own eyes, conversing with Him face to face. Their faith was huge but it benefited from their sight.

There are several places in Scripture, where I am struck by that which is promised to those who believe without having seen Christ. Because that is me. Living in this present time, I have not seen Christ face to face. My faith is based solely on that which I know and experience without sight. It is based on the unseen.

Speaking of believers since the time Christ walked this earth, the New American Commentary states:

Believing is not based on seeing. Seeing will be their portion at the revelation of Jesus Christ. In the meantime the Christian life is marked by believing …. They love Jesus Christ and rejoice in him, even though they have never seen him and do not see him now. Their lives are characterized by a hope that fills the present with love and joy. (New American Commentary, Volume 37, page 70)

Thomas, the disciple, exclaims: “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28) upon seeing and touching the resurrected Jesus. Thomas had heartfelt belief at this point.

And Jesus responds to him, “You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing me.” (John 20:29).

Jesus was speaking of generations of believers, yet to come, who would believe in Him solely through the Scriptures and the testimony of others. They would come to believe without ever seeing.

Jesus honored the faith of His disciples.

And He will even more, honor our faith.

For we believe without seeing.

Closeup of a young woman's eye --- Image by © Oleksiy Maksymenko/All Canada Photos/Corbis

 

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Today I am joining … Testimony Tuesday and Intentional Tuesday and Unite and True Story and #RaRaLinkup and Reflect .

Hold Fast to God

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This past week, we started a new study at Hello Mornings – Relentless by Darcy Wiley. We are going to be studying how a hardhearted people are pursued by their God, Who has an unstoppable love. We began with looking at the time of transition by which the story unfolds:

  • We are always just one generation away. As we start reading, we find the people in a crisis – their leader has died. The generation which came out of Egypt served God BUT the next generation “did not acknowledge or remember the mighty things God had done for Israel.” (Judges 2:10). We have a responsibility to pass on our faith in a way that hopefully, sticks. May each of us dig down deeply into His Word so that the next generation will see His Word active and alive in each of our lives, and long for more of the same.
  • We have a delightful inheritance. God made a promise to the Israelites – He was going to give them their land. God promised to help them drive their enemies out so that they could live in the land He had promised to them. May we think about  the “enemy” which needs to be driven out of our lives today, in order for us to lay hold of God’s promises. “The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance.” (Psalm 16:6)
  • Requirements and blessings. There is much God was willing to do for His people in response to their love and obedience. God was looking to keep His people from following the wrong practices of those around them. Even then, like today, following the crowd very often meant following evil. He desired for them to stand apart then and for us to stand apart today. “Behold, I send an angel before you to keep you in the way and to bring you to the place which I have prepared.” (Exodus 23:30)
  • Obedience is for our own good. God had been very clear in giving directions (see Exodus 23:33) that they were to drive out the people and not let anyone remain. God had blessed them with victory, His Presence was with them, and yet they didn’t follow through. This would result in their downfall in the years ahead. “The Lord was with the people of Judah, and they took possession of the hill country. BUT they failed to drive out the people living in the plains, who had chariots.” (Judges 1:19) May we remember that partial obedience really boils down to disobedience.
  • God is merciful. God was with His people. Although God had driven their enemies out of their land, they went back to their old life style. Yet our God offers His grace and mercy repeatedly (as He does to us today), telling us all to turn and live. His desire is for us all to find life and life abundantly. 

May we hold fast to our God every day!

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Photo Credit: Jacquie Engbrecht

Today I am joining … #SmallWonder and Sharing His Beauty and #WordsWithWinter and Inspire Me Monday and Playdates With God .

The Treasured Word

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“Thy word I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against Thee.” (Psalm 119:11)

“I glorify You for the Bible – that wonderful, written revelation of You and Your plan. As snow and rain fall from the skies to meet our needs, so You have condensed Your thoughts – which are vastly higher than all human thoughts – into written form. I’m so grateful that You cared enough to communicate with us in this clear, unchanging, always-accessible way, so that Your thoughts are now available at all times to refresh and nourish and teach me … and that You are still a communicating God, speaking these words to me as I am attentive to You, as I read and meditate with a listening heart. What a privilege it is to store Your Word in my heart, where You can use it at any moment to bless me and guide me … to keep me from sinning against you … and to be a storehouse of inspired words that the Spirit can bring to my mind to help others.

Thank you that the Holy Spirit inspired Your Word and uses it to enlighten and guide me, and to change me more and more into Your image, from one degree of glory to another.

(taken from 31 Days of Praise by Ruth Myers, page 53)

 

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

My First Hands-On Bible

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51pw-4YhqzL._SX319_BO1,204,203,200_Yesterday I received my copy of My First Hands-On Bible. I was both surprised and delighted with what I held in my hands.

This pretty pink, soft leather like, Bible is just precious and sure to engage toddlers for years to come. This Bible has been formatted in such a way to engage children from their toddler years to kindergarten (so ages 3-6).

Each Bible story is a lesson on its own, bringing children stories which are easy to read and understand. The New Living Translation is used. Some of the other features included for each story are:

  • Jesus Connections. These are simple points to help children see Jesus present throughout the Bible both in the New and Old Testaments.
  • Illustrations which are both colorful and eye catching.
  • Activities and games which are fun and will drive the point of each story into a child’s heart and mind.
  • Prayers. There are simple prayers to help children learn to pray about everything.

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This is a Bible which will bring parents and their children together as they share God’s Word. This is a wonderful tool for parents to teach their children Bible stories and principles in a fun manner that is sure to stick with their child for years to come. This Bible can help lay a foundation of faith in the heart of every child.

I showed this book to others who also were impressed with the preciousness of this Bible for toddlers. It will be my delight to pass this copy on to my second granddaughter who turned three in June. May God begin to seal His Word into her heart and mind, drawing her to Himself from a young age.

Please note, there is also an edition for boys … Hands-On Bible NLT which is bound in a soft blue like leather.

 

***Tyndale House Publishers provided me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. I am disclosing this as required by Federal Trade Commission.

 

Today I am joining … Booknificent Thursday and Cozy Reading Spot .

5: Words, Quotes & Moments

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The days were a little bit cooler and drier this week and it felt good. Playing outside with the girls, I noticed the subtle changes in the yard. The smells of fall are in the air. And here are the wonderful posts which also caught my attention this week:

1) Lord of the Rings. I remember so well taking my son to see the first release. Each movie filled with analogies and quotes never to be forgotten. In this post are 8 favorite inspirational quotes from the saga.

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2) Time. We all have been allotted the same amount – 24 hours each day. Yet we can often forget the preciousness in each moment of the day. In this post, we find the reminder to make the most of each day, and each moment. God-has-given-us-a-new-day-1024x768

 

3) Small moments. Some days, school routines and mornings can be difficult to navigate. We can often “pollute our houses with demands and frustration over things that don’t really matter.” In this post, we find the reminder to remember these small moments truly do matter for our families.

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4) Grandparents. We all agree that children need good parenting. But in this post, we’ll read of 5 important things excellent grandparents do for their grandchildren. for-reading-796374_1280-1024x576

 

5) Banned words. We all have certain words we just do not allow into our vocabulary. In this post are some four letter words we all should ban from our thinking.

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I hope you will take the time to read them all as their is inspiration to be found in each one. Here’s hoping you squeeze the most out of these last summer days. Enjoy your weekend!

Love,
Joanne

 

Today I am joining … Weekend Whispers and Faith Along the Way .

Alone

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Most Fridays, I join 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 … Alone.

It didn’t take long for the thoughts of the week to come flooding back upon reading the word prompt …

“He alone is God.”

Alone, as defined by dictionary.com means “separate, apart, or isolated from others; unique, unequaled, unexcelled; exclusively.”

It’s been days that I have been thinking about the mighty deeds of our God. He alone can do the impossible, the astounding, and miraculous.

“For you are great and do marvelous deeds; you alone are God.”
(Psalm 86:10, NIV)

God, alone, stands unequaled. No one and nothing comes close to the excellence which is found in Him. And yet, while He stands apart from all else, He does not isolate Himself from His people. He delights in them, coming to them. He resides inside of them.

He alone is able to meet our needs, lift our burdens, intervene in situations, or bring healing. May we stand in awe of Him, humbling ourselves before Him and ask Him to do what only He can do.

“Lord, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, O Lord. Renew them in our day, in our time make them known; in wrath remember mercy.” (Habakkuk 3:2, NIV)

“He alone is God.”

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Today I am joining … Five Minute Friday and Faith Filled Friday and Fellowship Friday and Grace & Truth and Blessing Counters .