Wednesday, December 31, 2008

MY Peace


Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.......John 14:27

Kay at Thrive Christians has been doing a series on "peace". I've been following her along, and today when my Daily Bible Verse arrived in my e-mail, the above verse is the verse for today.

The peace that this verse speaks of is not peace of our own making. The key word here is "MY"--referring, of course, to the peace of Jesus.

Jesus' peace is not something that can be found in a store, in the purchase of something new that will make us temporarily happy. Yes, it will make us feel happy for a short period of time, but that happiness is fleeting. It is not the peace and joy that Jesus offers us.

This peace and joy is in our hearts and minds--the trust, faith and knowledge that no matter what comes our way in our day-to-day lives, God is in control. We can bring these concerns of ours to God. He is there, He is listening to us, and He will answer us.

We can feel peaceful in spite of the turmoils of our lives. Jesus has left us with HIS peace, the peace that surpasses all human understanding.

This peace is not something that can be purchased by us at a store--it is not of this world. In fact, we have been purchased by Jesus at a price that we could never afford.

One of my own personal goals for this year is to turn to Jesus quickly with my everyday problems, no matter how small. Sometimes I think that my small problems are insignificant in the greater realm of life. So, I wait, and the peacefulness that is there and available eludes me.

As an example, this morning when I looked at the weather forecast I noticed that we are to be having dangerously high winds today and tomorrow. My daughter is flying to Texas tomorrow. Instead of worrying about this, I gave it to God--turning to Him instead of to my own worry and concerns.

Many people are going through a time of uncertainty--job stability, economic challenges, personal life changes--all things that could create fear and dread in our lives.

I am going to be actively seeking the peace of Jesus. He has never let me go--even when I was far from Him. He loves me, He loves you.

We are sons and daughters of the King. God wants what is the best for us.

What about you? Are you going to be seeking HIS peace?

Beth

Monday, December 29, 2008

Weekly Memory Verse

I've been putting this off long enough!!

I have been telling and telling myself that I need to memorize Scripture--just a verse a week. Not too hard, right?

Well, I apparently need some accountability in this because I have fallen short of my goal time and time again.

Scripture memorization is very important. This way when we need to call upon the Lord, when we are facing a temptation (just like Jesus in the desert with Satan), when we are speaking with someone about perhaps a problem, perhaps leading them to Jesus, God will bring these Scriptures back to our minds--instant recall--and we will have them right there in our minds--readily available.

So, I have decided that today is the day!! I'm going to memorize one verse a week--starting on a Monday. Then next Monday, I'll type that verse from memorization and move on to another verse.

Then comes the question: "How do I choose which verse to memorize?"

I have a Daily Bible Verse e-mailed to me every morning. Included with this is a "Weekly Memory Verse". So, I have decided to use this verse as my memory verse.

Here is this week's verse:

For his anger lasts only a moment,
but his favor lasts a lifetime;
weeping may remain for a night,
but rejoicing comes in the morning.

Psalm 30:5

Anyone want to join me in my quest??

Beth

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Signs, Signs, Everywhere Are Signs



Peggy at Amazing Grace~~Mazes, Messes, Miracles is without internet service for the time being. She usually hosts Super Simple Sunday, and since she is not available I decided to post this regardless.

I was just reading at Internet Cafe Devotions, "The Road for a Year" by Angie.

And I know that God led me to read this on this particular day. I feel as though I am at a crossroads in my life--which way to go, where is God leading me next, praying for His direction in my life.

In the busyness of preparing for Christmas, I have not been listening as closely to what God is saying to me. God is still here, still working in my life. But, I have allowed myself to be pressured, feeling stressed, tired and worn down, irritable. As a result of this, I have missed the small moments--the moments when God is telling me "Stop, look and listen!! I have something to tell you and you're not hearing it!!"

Today God has posted a stop sign in my life--a sign from God in the road of my life telling me to stop, be still and listen for His voice. So, I will be still and wait and listen. I will be quiet and listen to others around me as He speaks to me through them.

I do have plans for the day--time spent with my daughter--precious few moments that we have together before she leaves to return to Texas. I will follow through with these plans, but I intend to truly listen to what she is telling me because I have missed her, missed time spent with her in both of our busyness.

Stop over and read what Angie has written at Internet Cafe Devotions. What sign is God posting in your life today?

Beth

And after I posted this, I just "happened" to read the Bible verse for today that is in the sidebar!

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
Matthew 11:28

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

This Christmas

As my Christmas gift to you all, I'd like to share a poem by Joni Ames that I will be reading at our Christmas Eve service tonight. Tonight, tonight, it's Jesus birthday. I'm awestruck yet again!

Be blessed and inspired as you read Joni's poem. All my love, HisFireFly

This Christmas - by Joni Ames

On that first Christmas Day, He came,
A babe inside the hay,
A star above, the only sign
To show the world the way

On that first Christmas, just a few
Knew Jesus Christ was born
And only some beheld His face
That first bright Christmas morn

On that first Christmas night He lay
At the mercy of the world
Rejected from the very start
As His life was unfurled

His parents had to flee with Him
And find a place to hide
Where He would not be found and killed
Though many people tried

But now He's not a little babe
Wrapped, hidden, in the hay
He's risen up as King of Kings
To show the world the way

He isn't in a stable, dark,
Where no one else can see
He's risen to the throne of God
Where He was meant to be

He doesn't seek the world's grace
They kneel at His Name
And everywhere, because He lives,
The world is not the same

This Christmas He is not a child
Who seeks your mercies, fair,
But He is Lord of all the Earth
His grace, with you, to share

He doesn't run from anyone
Nor play their silly games
For even Satan has to bow
At the mention of His Name

This Christmas, take Him from the hay
And place Him on YOUR throne
For He's King of Kings, and Lord of Lords
So crown Him as YOUR OWN

Soon He'll break the Eastern Sky
Returning for His Bride
And all who still turn Him away
Will have no place to hide

Care enough to give the best
To family and friends
Give to them the Good News now
Of life that never ends

Show them there's a better way
Not mapped by any man
Let them know they have a choice
To live Salvation's Plan

Jesus Christ WAS once that child -
But let the good news ring! -
THIS Christmas, let the whole world know -
HE REIGNS AS LORD AND KING!!!

While You Were Sleeping




Today is the last day of Holiday Expo at the Internet Cafe. These are my thoughts and perspectives on the day we celebrate Christ's birth!!

To read others' thoughts simply click on the button above, and maybe you'd like to join us in your feelings about Jesus' birth.




"But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origns are from of old, from ancient times.".....Micah 5:2


Bethlehem--small and insignificant among the clans of Judah. This area was even considered to be unclean and out of touch with the rest of the clans of Judah. And yet, God chose this place for the birth of His precious Son--the one who would come to save the world.

Do you feel yourself small and insignificant sometimes? If you do, then I have to say to you to rejoice in this!! God has a great history of taking small and insignificant people, small and insignificant places, and using them to display His glory and greatness!!






Now, brothers, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, "Peace and safety," destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape...1 Thessalonians 5:1-3


We must be watchful and aware--Jesus is returning!! We do not know when, but I don't want to be caught sleeping!!


Oh little town of Bethlehem
Looks like another silent night
Above your deep and dreamless sleep
A giant star lights up the sky
And while you're lying in the dark
There shines an everlasting light
For the King has left His throne
And is sleeping in a manger tonight

Oh Bethlehem, what you have missed while you were sleeping
For God became a man
And stepped into your world today
Oh Bethlehem, you will go down in history
As a city with no room for its King
While you were sleeping
While you were sleeping

Oh little town of Jerusalem
Looks like another silent night
The Father gave His only Son
The Way, the Truth, the Life had came
But there was no room for Him in the world He came to save

Jerusalem, what you have missed while you were sleeping
The Savior of the world is dying on your cross today
Jerusalem, you will go down in history
As a city with no room for its King
While you were sleeping
While you were sleeping

United States of America
Looks like another silent night
As we're sung to sleep by philosophies
That save the trees and kill the children
And while we're lying in the dark
There's a shout heard 'cross the eastern sky
For the Bridegroom has returned
And has carried His bride away in the night

America, what will we miss while we are sleeping
Will Jesus come again
And leave us slumbering where we lay
America, will we go down in history
As a nation with no room for its King
Will we be sleeping

Are we as a nation going to be sleeping with no room for our King?


Beth


Sunday, December 21, 2008

Super Sunday



For unto us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will on his shoulders.

And he will be called

WONDERFUL COUNSELOR,

MIGHTY GOD,

EVERLASTING FATHER,

PRINCE OF PEACE.

Isaiah 9:6



Tears are falling, hearts are breaking
How we need to hear from God
You've been promised, we've been waiting

Welcome Holy Child
Welcome Holy Child

Hope that you don't mind our manger
How I wish we would have known
But long-awaited Holy Stranger
Make Yourself at home
Please make Yourself at home

Bring Your peace into our violence
Bid our hungry souls be filled
Word now breaking Heaven's silence

Welcome to our world
Welcome to our world

Fragile finger sent to heal us
Tender brow prepared for thorn
Tiny heart whose blood will save us
Unto us is born
Unto us is born

So wrap our injured flesh around You
Breathe our air and walk our sod
Rob our sin and make us holy

Perfect Son of God
Perfect Son of God
Welcome to our world


Be sure to visit Peggy at Amazing Grace~~Mazes, Messes, Miracles for more Super Sunday participants. Stop by and visit and join in!!

Oh, and visit me at warmHarte and met my new "grandson"!! Another special child to welcome to the world!!



Beth

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Then Sings My Soul Saturday


As CHRISTmas day approaches, I'm finding my thoughts directed more and more to the birth of Jesus, His life, His mission on this earth, and yes, ultimately His death and tremendous sacrifice for us.

My thoughts are being drawn to the birth of my own son. I am remembering the first time I held him in my arms, how he looked and smelled, how precious he was (and still is) to me.

I have to admit that the very first time I was able to nestle him closely to me that I fell instantly in love.

Suppose, just suppose, someone had come to me and said, "Okay, you've carried this child, you've given birth to this child, oh, you love him so dearly. Now, he has a greater mission on this earth. You need to raise him and give him away to the world. And, it won't be easy--this life of his. He will suffer persecution, torture and a painful death all for the sake of others."

And, I am thinking about Mary--how she felt at the birth of Jesus. Yes, she was chosen by God. She must have felt blessed by this alone. I am sure she was joyful holding Him for the very first time, holding Him close to her--the Son of God. But, did her heart ache also at the thoughts of what this child would suffer? Did she know? Did she realize?

We are celebrating Jesus' birth this coming week--a wonderful gift from God. He was sent to us so that we could see God in the flesh and learn how to live and conduct our lives.

The greater gift is Jesus' death and resurrection--the sacrifice of His life for us so that we can have forgiveness of our sins and spend an eternity with Him in Heaven--God's great sacrifice of His ONLY Son for me, for you, for all of us.

Has anyone ever given you such a gift? The gift of their own death for you? The gift of an eternal life spent with them in a perfect place such as Heaven? The gift of grace, mercy, peace, joy and hope in your life?

Do you know this gift? Have you received and accepted this gift from God?

If you haven't, I have to ask you--What is holding you back?

Be sure and visit Amy at Signs, Miracles and Wonders for more "Then Sings My Soul Saturday" participants. Maybe you'd like to join in!!

Beth


Sunday, December 14, 2008

Super Sunday



I have my mind on shepherds, it seems!! I posted my "Then Sings My Soul Saturday" about shepherds, and I'm still thinking about them.

I've looked a little further into this--about the shepherd's staff--particularly used in Psalm 23--"Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me". In searching for information about this, I came across the following devotional:


The Comforting Rod


In Psalm 23 there is a line; "Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me." (Verse 4) What is the purpose of a shepherd's rod or staff? No doubt the shepherd uses it partly as a walking stick and to test the ground or path where he is leading the sheep. But mainly it is used for correcting or disciplining his little charges.
tall grass
For instance, if a sheep is veering off the right path, the shepherd might reach out his staff to direct the sheep back to safety. He might use it to separate a quarrel or even to administer a quick correction for rebellion. Sometimes a well placed whack sets the record straight and prevents further trouble.

Is correction a comfort? Yes, it really is, isn't it? Most children will report (if they are being completely honest) that they feel safer and more loved if they are raised with discipline. I heard a girl say once when a friend's mother was grounding her for something; "I wish my mom would do that." What she really wanted was a mother who cared enough to correct her.

We have a Good Shepherd who cares enough to correct us. He's looking out for us every single minute. He's quick to use his rod to pull us back from danger and to direct us on to the right path. On our own we are likely to get in trouble but not with his staff there as a protection. Knowing his comforting rod is close and available we can direct our attention to gobbling up those lush green pastures.
(copied from Hannah's Cupboard: http://www.hannahscupboard.com/wake-apr05-7.html)

I have been thinking a lot about how Jesus feels when one of his sheep are lost. Does He just leave us there, trying to find our way on our own? or Does He search and search, send others our way to set us on the right path?


I have to admit that I've been a little lost the past few days. Did God just let me stay there in this lost state wondering what direction to turn, where to go, what to do next?

No, He sent out the search party!! He didn't just leave me there floundering around on my own. He surrounded me
with my spiritual family (and that includes you!) to encourage me, uplift me and guide me on my way!!

God has never failed me, and He will never fail me!!


Even when I was far from Him, He still loved me and cared for me--every small moment of my life. I'm still finding ways that God provided for me when I had nothing that I considered "coincidence" at the time. Now, I know--it was God's loving Hand and guidance all along. How I praise Him for this!!

And what happens when the lost sheep is found?


Jesus takes us in His arms, embraces us, loves us, welcomes our return, and all of Heaven sings for JOY!!

THE LOST HAS BEEN FOUND!!!!

And here is the perfect song to go along with my past few days spent in negative thinking:




Then Jesus told them this parable: "Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, 'REJOICE WITH ME; I HAVE FOUND MY LOST SHEEP.'

I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in Heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent."..........Luke 15:3-7


Abba,

Thank You for not leaving me alone in my negative thinking--feeling lost and alone. Thank You for sending the search party to find me and bring me to You for comfort. I now rejoice and rest comfortably on Your shoulders.

Thank You for searching for Your lost sheep everywhere. May they all come to You for the comfort, guidance and love that they need.

In MY Jesus' precious name--ALL GOD's PEOPLE SAY...............



AMEN



Be sure and visit Peggy at Amazing Grace~~Mazes, Messes, Miracles to see her Super Sunday, view all the participants, and join in!!

Beth

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Understanding the reason

I am reading a story tomorrow night at our church Christmas Banquet that pops up every year when I search for Christmas stories. It does a great job of the answering the question about why Jesus would give up His life in heaven and come live here on earth with mortal men.

I pray that you are blessed as you read....

There was once a man who didn't believe in God, and he didn't hesitate to let others know how he felt about religion and religious holidays, like Christmas. His wife, however, did believe, and she raised their children to also have faith in God and Jesus, despite his disparaging comments.

One snowy Christmas Eve, his wife was taking their children to a Christmas Eve service in the farm community in which they lived. She asked him to come, but he refused.

"That story is nonsense!" he said. "Why would God lower Himself to come to Earth as a man? That's ridiculous!" So she and the children left, and he stayed home.

A while later, the winds grew stronger and the snow turned into a blizzard. As the man looked out the window, all he saw was a blinding snowstorm. He sat down to relax before the fire for the evening. Then he heard a loud thump. Something had hit the window. Then another thump. He looked out, but couldn't see more than a few feet.

When the snow let up a little, he ventured outside to see what could have been beating on his window. In the field near his house he saw a flock of wild geese. Apparently they had been flying south for the winter when they got caught in the snowstorm and couldn't go on. They were lost and stranded on his farm, with no food or shelter. They just flapped their wings and flew around the field in low circles, blindly and aimlessly. A couple of them had flown into his window, it seemed.

The man felt sorry for the geese and wanted to help them. The barn would be a great place for them to stay, he thought. It's warm and safe; surely they could spend the night and wait out the storm. So he walked over to the barn and opened the doors wide, then watched and waited, hoping they would notice the open barn and go inside.

The geese just fluttered around aimlessly and didn't seem to notice the barn or realize what it could mean for them. The man tried to get their attention, but that just seemed to scare them and they moved further away. He went into the house and came back out with some bread, broke it up, and made a breadcrumbs trail leading to the barn, but they still didn't catch on.

Now he was getting frustrated. He got behind them and tried to shoo them toward the barn, but they only got more scared and scattered in every direction except toward the barn. Nothing he did could get them to go into the barn where they would be warm and safe.

"Why don't they follow me?!" he exclaimed. "Can't they see this is the only place where they can survive the storm?" He thought for a moment and realized that they just wouldn't follow a human.

"If only I were a goose, then I could save them," he said out loud.

Then he had an idea. He went into barn, got one of his own geese, and carried it in his arms as he circled around behind the flock of wild geese. He then released it. His goose flew through the flock and straight into the barn - and one by one the other geese followed it to safety!

He stood silently for a moment as the words he had spoken a few minutes earlier replayed in his mind:

"If only I were a goose, then I could save them!"

Then he thought about what he had said to his wife earlier. "Why would God want to be like us? That's ridiculous!"

Suddenly it all made sense. That is what God had done. We were like the geese - blind, lost, and perishing. God had His Son become like us so He could show us the way and save us. That was the meaning of Christmas, he realized!

As the winds and blinding snow died down, his soul became quiet and pondered this wonderful thought. Suddenly he understood what Christmas was all about, why Christ had come.

Years of doubt and disbelief vanished like the passing storm. He fell to his knees in the snow, and prayed his first prayer:

"Thank You, God, for coming in human form to get me out of the storm!"

Then Sings My Soul Saturday


My friend, Peggy, sent me a devotional from "Women of Faith". At the bottom of this was what was called "Fun Fact". I found this most interesting and wanted to share this with you:

Did you know that during Bible times, shepherds were often considered outcasts in society? They couldn't participate in religious ceremonies, for example, because they were considered unclean. They were generally the poor peasants of their day and were often suspected of being thieves.

Isn't it amazing to think that God chose these people to be the first to hear the good news about Jesus? Of all the people in the world, of all the kings and people with wealth and power, or even just the regular folks, God chose to send His mighty angels to the shepherds, the outcasts and allow them to greet the Christ child.

No matter what you may think about yourself, or what others may think about you, God loves you so much that He sent His own Son, Jesus, just for you. Even if you were the only person on the earth, even if you were a thief or a smelly shepherd, God would have sent Jesus just for you. This Christmas and Advent, respond just as the shepherds did: run to Jesus,and tell everyone what you have seen!

It has taken me quite a while to do this post. I searched through all the usual CHRISTmas songs that would apply to this: "Angels We Have Heard on High", "Shepherds Watched Their Flocks by Night", "The First Noel", "Go Tell It On the Mountain", and yes, all these songs do relate to the shepherds first hearing the news of Jesus' birth.

But, they did not say how I am feeling at this moment or how the shepherds who were lowly, outcasts, probably dirty and smelly felt when they saw this spectacular sight from Heaven--God's angels coming to them to proclaim the birth of His Son!!

I can imagine they were thinking to themselves--"What? Why would God do this for us? We are nothing!!!"

And, I, too, sometimes think that: "Why would God do this for me? I am nothing."

So, I walked away from this post--walked away and prayed: "God, what direction am I heading in with this? What do YOU want me to say?"

And this was His answer:




Take these hands
And lift them up
For I have not the strength to praise You near enough
See, I have nothing
I have nothing without You

And take my voice and pour it out
Let it sing the songs of mercy I have found
For I have nothing
I have nothing without You

And all my soul needs is all Your love
To cover me, so all the world will see
That I have nothing without You

Take my body and build it up
May it be broken as an offering of love
For I have nothing
I have nothing without You

And all my soul needs is all Your love
To cover me so all the world will see
That I have nothing
That I love you,
yeah
With all my heart
With all my soul
With all my mind
And all the strength I can find

Take my time here on this earth
And let it glorify all that You are worth
For I am nothing
I am nothing without You

Stop over and visit Amy at Signs, Miracles and Wonders for more "Then Sings My Soul Saturday". Maybe you'd like to join in this week!!

Beth




Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Perfect Gift



Are you still looking for the perfect gift for someone who is difficult to buy for?

Why not be the "hands and feet of Jesus" this year?

Just stop by here, and you can see all the opportunities to give to those less fortunate than us, a true gift in the name of Jesus.


"Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'

"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me"......Matthew 25: 37-40

Beth

Monday, December 8, 2008

WE'RE GOING TO HAVE A REALLY BIG PARTY!!

OUR GOD IS AN AWESOME GOD!!

HE HAS TRANSFORMED ME FROM
A PERSON OF ANGER, RESENTMENT
AND BITTERNESS
INTO

A
PERSON

OF:
LOVE
JOY
HOPE
FAITH
TRUST

SECURITY
CALMNESS

COME TO THE PARTY, AND BE SURE TO PASS THE WORD!!



I was visiting Jennifer, and she had this invitation posted. She wants the word spread about this party, so please feel free to copy it. We want EVERYONE to attend!!

You are cordially invited to

A BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION!!!

Guest of Honor: Jesus Christ

Date: Every day. Traditionally, December 25
but He's always around, so the date is flexible...

Time: Whenever you're ready.
(Please don't be late, though, or you'll miss out on all the fun!)

Place: In your heart.... He'll meet you there.
(You'll hear Him knock.)

Attire: Come as you are... grubbies are okay.
He'll be washing our clothes anyway. He said something about
new white robes and crowns for everyone who stays till the last.


Tickets: Admission is free. He's
already paid for everyone
...
(He says you wouldn't have been
able to afford it anyway...
it cost Him everything
He had. But
you do need to accept the ticket!!


Refreshments: New wine, bread, and a
far-out drink He calls "Living Water,"

followed by a supper that promises to be out of this world!


Gift Suggestions: ; Your life. He's one of those
people who already has
everything else.
(He's very generous in return though.
Just wait until you see what He has for you!)


Entertainment: Joy, Peace, Truth,
Light, Life, Love, Real
Happiness,
Communion with God, Forgiveness, Miracles, Healing, Power,
Eternity in Paradise, Contentment, and much more!
(All "G" rated, so bring your family and friends.)

R.S.V.P. Very Important!
He must know ahead so He can
reserve a spot for you at the table.
Also, He's keeping a list of His friends for future
reference. He calls it the "Lamb's Book of Life."


Party being given by His Kids (that's us!!)!
Hope to see you there! For those of you whom I will
see at the party, share this with someone today!

P.S. Please feel free to post this invitation on your blog...if you like.

We want this to be the biggest birthday party for Jesus...so spread the word!!!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Super Sunday


It's Sunday, it's simple and it's super!! Time for Super Sunday with Peggy at Amazing Grace~~Mazes, Messes, Miracles!!

Visit Peggy to view all the participants, and maybe you'd even like to join in!!

Courtesy of Paul Lee at Heartlight.org


Have a wonderful Sunday!!

Beth

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Then Sings My Soul Saturday

It's time for "Then Sings My Soul Saturday" with Amy at Signs, Miracles and Wonders.

"God is not a man, that He should lie,
nor a son of man, that He should change His mind.
Does He speak and then not act?
Does He promise and not fulfill?"

Numbers 23: 19








Be sure and visit Amy for to visit all the participants for "Then Sings My Soul Saturday". Maybe you'd like to join us!!

Beth

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Giving Thanks at Thanksgiving

Heather is hosting "Giving Thanks at Thanksgiving"--



"This week, many bloggers have devoted a special post in which they are sharing their personal testimonies of the Lord's work in their lives and/or that of their families. Our collective prayer is that this sharing of their testimonies will not only encourage each other and give Glory to our Lord, but also show the love of Christ to those who happen upon our blogs. To enjoy many more testimonies please visit them ...
or maybe you'd like to join them!!!

Please stop by and visit Heather and read all the wonderful testimonies of how Our Lord is working in each and everyone of our lives.

Before I begin, let me say that I was not going to do this. However, I was encouraged to share my story, and I hope that when you read it you will see how God has transformed me, lifted me from the miry clay, and know I now that I am a daughter of the King! My hope is that my story will give hope to others--those who feel downtrodden, worn out and weary--that God is just waiting for you to come to Him--and He will enable you to feel peace, joy, hope and freedom.


FORGIVENESS

21Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?"

22Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.".......Matthew 18:21-22

I'm kind of curious--Have any of you ever said to someone else: "I'll never forgive you for that!!" or "I don't know how I'll ever forgive that person for what they've done to me." or "How could you have done that--I'll never forgive you!" or anything similar? Have you thought that to yourself? I know that I have.

In order for me to even address the subject of forgiveness, I'm going to tell you a little bit more about myself. Perhaps some of you who know me or have read previous posts at warmharte already know this. But, bear with me, please.

This is going to be personal, somewhat heart rending for me.

First--a little background:

My own father passed away when I was 8 years old. My brother was 13 years old at this time. My mother returned to work full time, and my grandmother lived with us--preparing meals and doing the majority of the household chores. I spent the majority of my time alone.

My father had been ill with a chronic kidney disease ever since I could remember. I don't have too many memories of him because he was in and out of the hospital most of the time during these years. This illness is hereditary, and my brother has the same disease--polycystic kidney disease. He had over 1/2 of his left kidney removed when he was 2 years old and has since had a kidney transplant.

I never understood, at that age, why my father had been taken from me. I didn't understand the severity of his illness. I wasn't allowed to visit him in the hospital due to age restrictions at that time. I just know that I came home from school one day, and my mother told me--"Your father has gone to Heaven to live with Jesus."

I don't know if I truly understood at that time--I don't really remember.

My mother remarried when I was 12 years old--a wonderful man that was good to me--a man that I was proud to call "Dad". Along with my new Dad, I acquired a new sister and a new brother. And we became a new family.

However, there were still a lot of questions left unanswered in my mind. I had been sexually molested by a stranger in a parking lot when I was 9. Nothing was done about this after I told my mother. In my family, the rule was: "If you don't talk about it, it never happened."

As I became a little older, my cousin began sexually molesting me. I didn't tell anyone because in my mind, if nothing had been done before, nothing would be done this time.

Finally, time for high school!! And this was a time for partying, a time for fun, a time for drinking. I look back now and wonder how I ever managed to graduate from high school, much less be accepted into a college.

Off to college--more partying, more drinking. I had also met someone--a man almost 5 years older than me. We married when I was barely 20 years old with the total blessings of my parents. I think they thought an older person may have a settling effect on me. And, it did--for a while We were married for 4 years when he decided that he no longer loved me, no longer wanted me in his life.

I left, moved into an apartment and the REAL partying began. I met my second husband in a bar. I met him, took him home with me, and he never left. We married when we found that I was pregnant. We were both happy about this, and my son was born! I stopped partying while I was pregnant, but after my son was born, I slowly starting drifting back into this phase--not as much as before--but still doing more than my fair share.

Less than 2 years later, my first daughter was born. Again, I stopped partying during the pregnancy and then slowly began again. Then, another two years--my second daughter was born.

During this pregnancy, my husband had a snowmobile accident. He fractured 5 ribs on one side and was in a lot of pain. The doctor he was seeing prescribed pain medication which he liked just a little too much. His use of this increased to the point that he was taking 16-18 pills of narcotics every day--just to get through the day.

I, in the meantime, had looked one evening at my children sleeping, and the question came to me that if something happened, right at that moment, if something happened to one of them, would I be able to handle it? Would I be able to drive this child of mine to the hospital if need be? And my answer was an emphatic "NO". I stopped partying then and there and have never gone back to this lifestyle.

On my husband's part, however, his addiction into pain medication deepened. Then, very suddenly, the doctor who was prescribing him medication retired from medical practice. Left without a supplier of his drugs, he turned to heroin.

My children grew and my anger and resentment grew. I became a very bitter and angry person. Finally, he decided to seek help in a rehab. Then, out of the rehab, clean for 5-6 months, and then back to drug use again. This occurred 5-6 times until finally I could stand no more. During this time, I also suffered from a very deep depression which required two hospitalizations.

And an important factor here, is that I told no one, absolutely no one. I was ashamed of what my life had become.

I called my brother early one morning and spilled out the whole mess, crying, sobbing to him. Both my brothers and my sister and their spouses moved me and my two daughters not long after that. My son decided to stay with his father. He was almost 17 by this time, and I think that he thought he could "fix" him. About 6 months later, my son came to me and asked if he could live with me. He could take no more.

I was still bitter and angry, full of resentment.. Then my husband came to me, telling me that he was clean. And I made a very big mistake--I took him back. No, he wasn't clean from drugs. Yes, he was clean from heroin, but he was addicted to crack.

Crack--the drug that is even worse than heroin. Crack brings out the paranoia and violence in a person. That person will do anything just to get the next fix. And violence prevailed in my household. My youngest daughter's saving account was emptied, there was no money to pay our bills, and we were in danger of being evicted.

I was again in a deep depression--not thinking rationally, and I decided that the only way out of this mess was to take my own life. I was tired, worn, anxiety-filled and basically unable to function. I took every sedative that had been prescribed for me plus all the blood pressure medication I had on hand.

My son found me and took me to the hospital. I remember the ride in the elevator, to the Toxicology Unit--the head of this unit riding with me--electrodes attached to my chest with a portable defibrillator next to me on my stretcher. The doctor said to me, "You are an intensive care case waiting to happen."

I was placed in a room with a glass wall facing the hallway. I was to be on a 24 hour suicide watch. There were orders written for each and every thing that could occur due to the amount of drugs I had taken. During this night, I lay awake--just laying there with an empty mind. And sometime during that night, I heard a voice say to me, "What are you doing?" Just a gentle whisper. I looked through my glass wall at the nurse assigned to me. She had said nothing.

And then again, the whisper, "What are you doing?"

I didn't know, I just didn't know what I was doing. I was thinking that I couldn't stand the violence, the lies, the addictions, the constant fear in which I was living. I loved my children so much. Why was I planning on leaving them alone with this mess?

The amazing thing is that nothing happened--my blood pressure didn't drop dangerously low, my pulse rate didn't drop and I didn't fall asleep from all the sedatives. I was awake all night long.

I know now that God intervened in this attempt of mine to take my own life. He, clearly, had bigger and better purposes for my life.

The doctors were amazed and could not understand when the next morning I was perfectly fine and discharged to home. I didn't want to go home--the place where all the violence and fear was, but I had no where else to go.

And then, another rehab--but during this rehab, I made arrangements and left again. Still so angry, so full of hatred towards this man for what he had done to our family.

During this time, I met someone--someone new to my work. She always seemed so peaceful and calm, even in the midst of turmoil--still remained peaceful. I watched her, listened to her--wondering what she had in her life that made her this way.

One day she invited me to her church. I told her I couldn't come because I had no church clothes. She said that was okay, this was a very casual church--you didn't need "church clothes". I stood her up that first Sunday--just didn't show.

She didn't chastise me for this--just said we'll try again next week.

The next week, I went to church with her, and I knew that I had come home. Jesus touched me that day and started a long and painful healing process for me. The message that day was on God's love for each and every one of us--regardless of who we are, what we have done in our past. He is there with us always--waiting for us with open arms, waiting for me to come to Him so that He could give me the gifts He had waiting for me--His unconditional love--love like I had never known before; forgiveness of my past, a future full of hope, joy and peace, the gift of an eternity spent with Jesus. All I had to do was accept and receive these gifts from Him. Nothing else--just believe, accept and receive in faith. And I did.

I was still wondering how in the world I was supposed to forgive my now ex-husband and forgive myself for my past, for all the mean and hateful things I had said to him in anger, for all the mean and hateful things I had said to my mother and my father.

But, God took me by the hand and led me. God is very patient with me, and I am so grateful for this. Sometimes, I took three steps forward and two steps backward, falling. And, God would pick me up, and we would start again.

Slowly, so slowly, I began to forgive. I realized that all the anger, all the bitterness, all the resentment were not hurting my ex-husband at all. The only person they were hurting was me. I was the one being eaten alive by these powerful emotions.

As I grew in God's love, I began to leave these emotions behind me, and I forgave my ex-husband and also myself. I know that Jesus lived, suffered and died for me so that I could have this forgiveness, not just for myself but to extend this to others also--as many times as needed.

In this place of forgiveness, I have turned from a bitter, angry resentful person into a person who is peaceful and calm. Do I have days where I am upset by something, feel discouraged, feel angry? Of course, I do. But, I now know that I can turn to my Lord with these problems and emotions, and He is there for me--to listen to me, to take my problems and worries from me. He is in control of my life because I have given my life to Him.

Today I am thankful--thankful for God's unconditional love for each and every one of us, thankful that He watches over me every moment of my life, and I am thankful that He has given me His Son, Jesus, to follow as an example in my own life. Through Jesus, I have learned the grace needed to give others. So much grace and forgiveness has been granted to me through Jesus. When I think and compare what Jesus did for me, for all of us--I am only being asked to extend a very small portion of grace and forgiveness to others.

Beth




Monday, November 24, 2008

Tagged!!

I've been tagged by Dorothy at Always Be Prepared.

Here are the rules of the tag:

1) Link to the person who tagged you.

2) Post the rules on your blog (copy and paste 1-6).

3) Write 6 random things about yourself.

4) Tag 6 people at the end of your post and link to them.

5) Let each person know they have been tagged and leave a comment on their blog.

6) Let the tagger know when your entry is up.


So, here are the six random things about myself:

1. I have moved 14 times and never moved more than 90 miles away from where I was born.

2. I wanted to join the Peace Corps when I graduated from high school, but I was only 17 and my parents wouldn't sign to give me permission to join.

3. I had the mistaken illusion when I was young that I didn't need to learn to cook, do housework or anything domestic because "I was going to marry a rich man and have a maid". This thought remained in my mind until I was actually married and learned quickly that life was going to be other than I had planned.

4. I learned to knit at the age of 9, and I only own one thing that I have made. And I have never knit a sweater.

5. I was "asked" to leave my Girl Scout Troop because a friend and I took an overnight camping event as an opportunity to leave our tents in the middle of the night and wander around in the woods.

6. I was probably one of the most sarcastic, mean, hateful, angry, bitter and just downright nasty people you would have ever met in your life until I finally allowed Jesus to enter my life and HE transformed me.

Now, I'm supposed to tag 6 people that I would like to know more about. Let's see:

Sandy at Knittin' Kudzu

Sharon at His is My Prince of Peace

Jennifer at Through the Storms of Life

Marlena at Through Good Times and Bad Times

Marama at Unwrapping the Gift

Pea at Pea's Corner

Beth



Sunday, November 23, 2008

Love Dare Day 25--Love Forgives

I am skipping over a few chapters of the "Love Dare" book because they do not pertain to my relationship with my children and are truly only related to a marriage relationship. I was even contemplating not continuing on with this challenge thinking that from here on would be solely related to marriage issues.

Then, I read on:

LOVE FORGIVES

What I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, I did it for your sakes in the presence of Christ......1 Corinthians 2:10

and the dare for this day:

Whatever you haven't forgiven in your children, forgive it today. Let it go. Just as we ask Jesus to "forgive our debts" each day, we must ask Him to help us "forgive our debtors" each day as well. Unforgiveness has been keeping my children and I in prison for too long. Say from your heart, "I choose to forgive."

Before I answer my follow up to this day, I want to write a little here about forgiveness. I've had a lot to forgive in my life, and I've come to learn that unforgiveness is a condition of your heart. It's as though your heart is locked in a prison with many cells--cells that contain people from your past--maybe your parents, maybe your spouse, maybe people who have hurt you in the past, and yes, maybe even your children.

This state of prison exists inside of your heart every day unless you choose to forgive. And the longer these people and whatever has happened stay in your heart, the more bitter and resentful you will become.

What happens is you become trapped in this state of unforgiveness. Yes, what they did was very wrong, more than likely hurtful to you in some way or another.

But, forgiveness is not absolving the other party of blame, it is freeing you from the anger, bitterness and resentment you are carrying around with you every day of your life--the emotions that are literally eating you alive, making you a prisoner as well.

How can we be joyful when we are feeling such hurt? Does the other person or persons even realize or care that we feel this way about what they may have said or done to us? No, they are going about their lives--not thinking about what may have occurred--probably not really even caring, and we are the ones who are suffering.

That is why forgiveness is so important. It lifts us up out of the prison of darkness that has encased our hearts and frees us.

So, how do we go about forgiving others?

We turn them over to God. Release your anger, your desire for revenge to the Lord.

"Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, 'Vengeange is Mine, I will repay,' says the Lord"...Romans 12:19

As I mentioned earlier, there were a lot of areas in my life that I needed to turn over to God--a lot of unnecessary hurts, a lot of wrong done to me. I was becoming more angry and bitter, more resentful every moment of my life. And there was Jesus, just waiting for me to turn all of this over to Him--He holds the key and He is the key.

Through much prayer and guidance from other fellow Christians, I was able to forgive many wrongs from my past. I'm not saying that this happened overnight or in a flash of lightening. It took time and effort on my part.

Was this time and effort and prayer that I devoted to this worth it? Yes, definitely. The anger is gone, the bitterness is gone, the resentment is gone--and instead of these emotions I am calm, peaceful and joyful.

And you may ask this question: How do I know when I have truly forgiven someone?

The answer: When you can think of that person, see that person, hear that person spoken of and you no longer feel the anger, bitterness and resentment boiling up inside of you. Then you know that you have given this to God to take care of for you.

The follow up for today:

What did you forgive your children for today? How long have you been carrying the weight of it? What are the possibilities now that you've released this matter to God?

I do not have one specific thing for each of my children that I have forgiven. We are in a mother-child relationship, even though they are now adults. I have to say that over the years of their "growing-up" time that I forgave them for many things, just as my parents forgave me for the difficulties of just trying to reach adulthood--things said in anger, rules that were made that were broken.

Ater having thought about this for some time, I realized that I still come back to their relationship with their father. I really would prefer that they be like me and have nothing to do with him at all. Is that fair of me? Is that even realistic of me? No, it's not.

When I would hear one of them tell him that they loved him, I would just cringe--thinking to myself--"How can they even say that? How can they say that they love him? Why do they even want to continue to have any kind of relationship with him?"

And so, again through prayer and guidance from others, I have given this to God. They are my children, but they are also their father's children. And more than anything, they are God's children, even if they don't realize it at this time.

Once again, I have turned to Jesus with this matter--handing Him the controls, letting go of my own feelings towards my childrens' father which actually was hampering my own relationship with them. I actually was holding an attitude of unforgiveness towards my children because of this.

Since I have done this, I have heard my son on the phone with his father, talking about football and a few other discussions. He ends the conversation with "I love you".

I no longer cringe at these words. Regardless of my own feelings, this man is their father. They are adults and capable of making decisions on their own. If they choose to have a relationship with him, it is not of my concern.

And so we move on to Day 26
:

LOVE IS RESPONSIBLE

When you judge another, you condemn yourself, since you, the judge, do the same things.....Romans 2:1

and the dare for this day:

Take time to pray through your areas of wrongdoing. Ask for God's forgiveness, then humble yourself enough to admit them to your children. Do it sincerely and truthfully. Ask your children for forgiveness as well. No matter how they respond, make sure you cover your responsibility in love. Even if they respond with criticism, accept it by receiving it as counsel.


Chelle' is hosting this "Love Dare". You can visit her by clicking on the book at the top of the post.

Beth




Saturday, November 22, 2008

Super Sunday--Adonai

It's Super Sunday at Peggy's. I love Sunday--my very favorite day of the week!!

I have had a few things on my mind this week. I'm still pondering and thinking over this verse from Revelation from the concert I went to on Tuesday evening.

I found this on Heartlight, and this picture answers any and all questions any one might have about this verse.

Who is worthy to open the scroll?


Only one--Adonai.



Now, I know that some of you aren't able to view the video, so I placed the song on a playlist so that at least you can hear it--for you--hisfirefly!

Just make sure to stop the playlist if you can see the video!!

Beth