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This is my first post of 2021 and I am not wanting to write it. I was debating on what God has taught me this last 2 weeks that I wanted to share. And then Wednesday happened and our nation once again showed a side of ourselves that absolutely breaks my heart.

This goes way beyond politics or race or inequality in this country. This is about the condition of our hearts and our deep seated hate for anything that goes against what we believe. Our intolerance for anything different and our anger of any opinion that isn’t ours is of Satan. We have a heart issue here in America. That heart issue took root the moment we turned our backs on God. As soon as we allowed our compassion to turn to anger, as soon as we allowed our love to turn hate the devil won.

So what is the answer?

GOD IS THE ANSWER!!!

How do I know that? How do I know that God is the answer?

1 John 4:8 tells us that GOD IS LOVE!

Without God there is no love. Without love there is no compassion. Without compassion we will become a nation of selfish, hateful, angry, unhappy people who live thinking that we are the only ones that are entitled to everything. Sound familiar? Yes, we are heading down that path! Even among Christians this attitude has taken root and we are in trouble.

WITHOUT GOD THERE IS NO LOVE!!!

WITHOUT LOVE THERE IS NO COMPASSION!!!

WITHOUT COMPASSION THERE IS NO PEACE, OR JOY, OR RESPECT FOR EACH OTHER!

The only problem we have in America is a lack of God. Wake up AMERICA!!! Don’t be deceived by the devil! He is lurking at our doors and he is ready to devour those who are not prepared.

GOD IS THE ONLY ANSWER!!!

I have set some spiritual goals for 2021. After some reflection, I decided that I need to be more intentional about prayer and Bible study. Not that I don’t pray or study the Bible. I do, but I want that intentional devotional time with the Lord. I will continue with my current pray as I go about my day routine, because there isn’t anything wrong with continual conversation. God tells us to be in continual prayer. As far as Bible study, I look up scriptures for my blog posts and I take notes on church sermons, but I am not intentional about Bible study. I have a close relationship with God, but it is a journey. It is about continual sanctification. It is about taking it to the next level and doing whatever it takes to deepen our relationship with God. I expect that there will be ups and downs, but the main thing is not to quit. Nothing is ever accomplished if we quit.

My 2021 Goals:

Mornings

I will:

Read a morning Psalm to get me going for the day.

Pray using the Lord’s prayer as an outline. I probably will use a bullet method for my daily prayers instead of writing them out. I have a tendency to get redundant and I want to make sure I am praying from my heart.

Journal my Bible studies following the studies in Farm Girl Bible Journaling Group on Facebook. The group is run by Farm Girl Journals and I love it!

Evenings

Read an evening Psalm to end my day well.

Praise God for those things that I am grateful for.

Daily Practices:

Practice contentment

Surrender worry, anxiety and fear

Choose faith over fear

Send up bullet prayers as led by the Holy Spirit throughout the day.

Once a week:

Attend church

Serve others

Give of myself (time and/or resources)

On a regular basis:

I think I will turn off the T.V. other than watching Youtube videos on George Muller and other faith based videos.

Study the life of George Muller and take notes on his life of faith.

I don’t want any of it to become legalistic. I want it to be something that I always long for and right now I am longing for a deeper relationship with God. I will be updating as the year progresses!

Question:

What are your 2021 spiritual goals?

I think most people around the world are reeling from the chaos that has been 2020. Here in the United States, we are emotionally overwhelmed from the pandemic, the racial/police tensions, and the election. We are a nation divided. I think we always have been, but we experience times of peace, as well as, times of discord. Are we a nation ready to implode? I don’t know. Will we recover? I hope so. I am afraid though that if we continue to stray further and further away from God, recovery may not be possible.

But all of that is beside the point. This blog post is about the lessons I have learned from 2020. This has been a tough year for me, but also a blessed year. I moved back from Georgia in March after saying that I would NEVER return. I had a shoulder injury that bothered me much of the year. We welcomed a precious granddaughter in March. My parents were supposed to visit in July for their bi-annual visit, but the pandemic happened and now it will be 3 years between visits. I have been blessed to be able to watch my grands this school year. So, it hasn’t been a horrible year. It has had it’s challenges, but what year doesn’t?

Now for the lessons I have learned in 2020:

  1. Change is inevitable – Change is part of life. Transition happens ALL the time. I have had to adapt to change this year. I moved back from Georgia after 10 months. It was a tough decision. I had determined that I was not moving back to Indiana, but it was a better place for me. When I returned, I moved in with my ex-husband Howard and his wife Tami. I struggled with this. Tami and I are best friends, but it wasn’t necessarily what I wanted. I have learned to embrace the changes in life, instead of fighting them. Change happens. Fighting only wears you down to the point of missing all the good stuff that is mixed in with the bad.
  2. God still performs miracles – I had an MRI on my shoulder in February that showed a partial tear in my rotator cuff. It caused me a significant amount of pain and I didn’t have full range of motion for several months. I prayed for healing in my shoulder. In July, another MRI showed no tear at all. Since then I have regained full range of motion with just a little discomfort and the pain is 95% gone. If I over stretch, I feel some pain, but it is so much better. I can use my arm again and I am so grateful for that! Miracles DO still happen.
  3. God knows best – When I moved to Georgia in May of 2019, I had planned on a happy life soaking in the sun and warmth year round. That was MY plan. That was NOT God’s plan. Because I did my own thing and was out of God’s will, life became pretty difficult there. I struggled in a way that I can’t even describe. God allows us free will. God allows us to make our own decisions. I wanted so badly to escape Indiana that I read into the open doors as a sign that I was in God’s will. I needed to know for myself that the grass was NOT greener on the other side of the country. God allowed that and now I am back in Indiana where I belong. God allows suffering to bring us closer to Him. It is often in our suffering that we seek Him the most.
  4. Be grateful for the simple things – I am a simple person. I don’t own a lot of material possessions. I don’t need a lot of things. I am grateful for what I do have. I am grateful for what I have access to through family and community. Who knew that we would ALL be thankful for a simple package of toilet paper or cleaning supplies. Some stores still have empty shelves where what we thought were necessary items once lived. We have ALL needed to prioritize what is absolutely necessary. I have become grateful for the basics. I am not taking anything for granted, because in a heart beat, it can all be gone.
  5. I need my family – From my dark place late 2019 and earlier this year, I thought that my family did not want me and that I would be better off somewhere alone in another community. I realized that my family can not be replaced. We bicker. We don’t “hear” each other when we should. We don’t always understand each other, but we are family. I need my family. In the midst of social distancing I have realized that my family is where I feel safe from the chaos of the world. My family is where I feel loved. My family knows me and accepts me, quirks and all. My life would not be the same if I was not with my family.

In this last week of 2020, I reflect on what I have learned. I encourage you to take a few minutes to do the same. 2020 has not been all bad. What are you grateful for? What good has come out of this year? What lessons have you learned?

In the days leading up to Christmas I came across the question, “What will you give God for Christmas?”

It was a question that caught me off guard. I always ask God for things when I pray, but I never considered asking God WHAT HE WANTS FROM ME. What can I give God for Christmas? The question humbled me. The question convicted me. God loved me so much that He watched His Son be crucified on the cross for my sins. He gave up His Son so that I may have eternal life. What can I possibly give God when He gave everything for me?

I don’t know. What can I give God?

An open heart that seeks only Him.

Obedience when He leads.

A dedication to prayer and Bible study.

A heart of love and compassion.

A generous spirit.

A discerning spirit that will turn away from the sinful ways of the world.

A heart totally and completely devoted to Him.

A willingness to be an example of Jesus to a hurting world.

These are all things that I can try to give. I can’t promise to give these things, because I am imperfect and I will fail. I can give a willing heart that will TRY to live as Jesus. I think He only wants us to have a willing heart. He knows that we are human with human imperfections. He is not looking for perfection. He is looking for open hearts that are honestly seeking Him and honestly trying to be obedient to His will in this world.

I now challenge you with the same question:

WHAT WILL YOU GIVE GOD?

I have been reading through The Women Of Christmas, written by Liz Curtis Higgs as an Advent study. The two points that jumped out at me were the faith and obedience of Mary and Joseph. According to the customs of the day, Mary would have been between 12 and 14 when she married Joseph. I can’t imagine what Mary felt when she was visited by the angel. Was she afraid? Did she fully understand what God was asking of her? Did she ever doubt? Did she consider saying NO! Not me? From the little written about the angels visit, if Mary felt any fear or doubt, she didn’t entertain those thoughts for long. It seems that Mary, even at her young age understood that God was blessing HER with this unbelievable gift and she had faith to obey.

And what about Joseph? Was he worried about what the townsfolk might say? Was he worried about his reputation? Did he care about the gossip? We don’t know the answers to these questions, but we do know that he had the faith to obey what the angel told him to do.

Mary and Joseph were facing risks obeying God’s will. Mary could have been stoned as a woman of ill repute. Joseph could have been pressured into handing Mary over to the townsfolk. They could have said NO! God always gives us a choice. God does not force his will upon any of us. They did not have to obey and do God’s will. They could have said no. Mary could have said that she did not want to be the mother of our Messiah. Joseph could have refused to marry Mary. They had a choice. Think of how different the story would be if either of them had refused to obey.

What if Joseph had refused to move to Egypt and had stayed in Bethlehem or Nazareth? Jesus may have been killed when he was a child. It doesn’t say if Joseph or Mary ever wavered in their faith. Being human, I’m sure they moments of hesitation. It seems as if they immediately surrendered those thoughts to God and moved on with the plan of our Father. They trusted God with their lives and with the life of this miracle child.

Do I have that faith? Will I obey even when facing risks? Will I trust God to provide? Will I trust God with my life? Will I walk in faith without hesitation or looking back?

I hope so. I don’t think we really know until we are faced with those situations. I pray that I would have the faith to obey God in any situation. I am constantly growing in my faith. I am on a journey of always seeking to grow closer to the Almighty. Obedience is not easy when you face risks, but there are always risks when you step out to do what God tells you to do.

Will you do it anyways? Will you obey God despite the risks? Will you trust God to provide? Will you trust God with your life? Will you walk in faith without hesitation or looking back?

This year is coming to a close and I think it is safe to say that it has been a tough year for most people around the world. Covid-19 has caused all of us to rethink our way of life. We have had to adjust to a new normal. Those of us in the United States have had to watch our country disrupt in racial violence and we have become divided by political party in this election year. We, as Christians, have also seen our basic religious freedoms being challenged like never before. It is no wonder that as we head into this Christmas season that we are all weary. We are all searching for peace. We are searching for an answer.

The answer is what Christmas is all about. The answer to all of our uncertainty and turmoil is JESUS. I have not had a horrible year. There have been absolute blessings and like everyone else I have felt the tension of the elections, of Covid 19, of racial divisions, of the war raging against our police officers. How can you not feel it? How can you live in this nation and not be affected by what’s going on? None of this is new. We have been battling the same wars for decades. We will never have complete peace until Jesus returns.

Remember JESUS! He is our peace! He is our hope! He is our joy! He is our refuge! He is our defender! He is the answer to everything that is wrong with the world. I encourage you to read the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. You will find the answers that you are looking for. You will find Jesus.

Church was cancelled for the foreseeable future. We are facing restrictions again due the spike in Covid 19 cases in Indiana. It seems like it will never end. We live in fear for ourselves and our families. It has been a tough year, but God has NOT left us!

Thanksgiving is next week! We usually do a community Thanksgiving meal for the family, neighbors, homeless, those alone and we deliver to those who can’t get out, but this year we can’t do our dinner. We will be doing a smaller version for our kids and their families. Last year we served 101 people. As much as we are disappointed to be giving this up, we are also weary and ready for a smaller, simpler holiday.

This has been a year of changes and transitions. We are finding ourselves having to do things differently and re-think the way some things have always been done. We have had to find a new normal. There is goodness. In the midst of the negativity and sadness, we have to choose to find the goodness. God is good. God is love. We have to choose to find the positive in life or we will die. Maybe not physically, but our hearts and our spirits will gradually die from the negativity and harshness of the world. We have to choose to unplug from the negativity and plug into what is good.

GOOD NEWS! I found a local non-profit that is willing to work with me on creating my single mom ministry (L.I.F.E Discipleship program and Blessing Boxes) in the new year. I am really excited about this! I am also very nervous! God is pushing me out of my comfort zone and it scares me. Will I have the knowledge and skills to develop a full fledged ministry? Taking it one step at a time I can do this. With God by my side, I can do this.

Remember always, choose faith over fear. Choose God over the hate in this world. Be blessed my friends!

I have had a passion to disciple single moms for 14 years now. At the time that God started to plant this seed in my heart, I was in the middle of the storm myself and was not ready to minister to other single moms. I have now been a single mom for 20 years. I have raised 5 children to adulthood. I have grown in my own walk with God and am now in the place to disciple and serve other single moms who may be struggling. As I was writing the steps of this program I found myself wishing that I had had a program like this while I was stuck in the mud of my single mom journey. For the first years of my journey I was so caught up in my own anger and bitterness that I could not see that my kids were dealing with their own emotional stuff. I was not able to effectively help my kids navigate their own issues, because I was carrying a burden of my own. This was a major factor in my wanting to create a discipleship program that not only addressed building a lifestyle of prayer and Bible study, but would bring healing of present and past hurts through the love of God, allowing single moms to parent from a place of wholeness which in turn will bring healing to their children.

L.I.F.E stands for Living Intentionally For Eternity. As Christians we choose to live intentionally for Jesus. Every decision is intentionally made to glorify the God that created us. Our reward for living intentionally for God? An eternal life in the presence of our Lord and King, Jesus.

The 10 steps of the L.I.F.E Discipleship program:

  1. Discover who God is– In order to grow in our relationship with God, we need to know who God is. We can not build a strong, intimate relationship with someone that we do not know well. Intimate relationships take time and nurturing. My own relationship with God has taken years of prayer, Bible study, obedience and trust to grow to the point of faith that I am at now. I know who God is in every season of my life. I trust Him to be an ever present refuge in this life of uncertainty. The Christian walk is a journey. I am not perfect. I still have days when I feel disconnected from God. This is always do to something on my end causing the disconnect. In those times, I pray harder, dig deeper into the Bible and search my heart for issues that need resolved. But because I know that God will never leave me nor forsake me(Deuteronomy 31:6) I can work through the issues and maintain my faith that God is still present in my life.
  2. Discover your identity in Jesus– When I became a single mom I did not know that God loved me. My marriage of 7 years had just failed. My husband had left me for another woman and I felt alone and abandoned. I felt unworthy of love. If my husband did not love me enough to stay, why would God love me? It took me many years to realize that God loves me more than I could ever imagine. He loves me so much that He has counted every hair on my head (Luke 12:7). In time I have come to fully realize how valuable I am to God. You are valuable to God too! God looks upon us and our struggles with love and compassion. We need to know who we are in Jesus in order to live lives of confidence and courage, knowing that we are victors because God is the one fighting for us.
  3. Identify sin patterns– We can not grow in our relationship with God when we are living a lifestyle of sin. We will continue to feel disconnected from God until we recognize the sin in our lives. Being the imperfect person that I am, I had to own the sin in my life and deal with it in order for my relationship with God to grow. We are creatures of habit and it may be necessary to assess the activities in our lives on a regular basis to make sure that we are not falling back into sinful patterns.
  4. Find freedom through repentance– Once we identify the sin in our lives, we need to repent of that sin. This is not an easy step. It means confessing our deep dark secrets to God and trusting that He will understand and forgive. The good news is that He is a God of grace and will forgive when we confess and repent. He understands our human nature and knows that we will continue to sin. That doesn’t mean to give up and not try. It simply means that we will occasionally fail in our attempts. The bad news is that God already knows when we blow it. When you sleep with that guy that you aren’t married to, God knows. When you get drunk with your kids in the house, God knows. God sees it all! He is that light in the darkness and there is nowhere that you can hide.
  5. Find freedom through forgiveness– There are 2 sides to this one. We have to be willing to forgive others(even when they don’t ask!) and we have to be willing to ask God and others to forgive us when we sin against someone else. Forgiving others frees us of the burden of anger and hate. Asking forgiveness frees us of the shame we feel when we know that we have wronged someone. I have had to do both and neither one is easy, but both are necessary in order to move forward in peace.
  6. Heal the wounds of the past– Let’s face it, we carry our pasts into our present. How many of us will blame present lifestyle choices on our childhood or past relationships? At some point, we have to let go of the past and take responsibility of our choices. Somewhere in our growing up we reach that point where we have to surrender the past and start to choose our own values and how we want to live. Letting go is difficult, but we will never move forward when we have one foot stuck in the past.
  7. Overcome fear and anxiety– I have been paralyzed by fear and anxiety. Life as a single mom comes with uncertainty and hardship. I don’t know a single mom who hasn’t worried about how she was going to pay the bills or living with anxiety that the car will need tires or other repairs. We fear that our kids will grow up and repeat our mistakes. God does NOT give us a spirit of fear(2 Timothy 1:7). We can rest in the assurance that nothing escapes God’s notice. He sees all and He has whatever you are facing taken care of. He has your back, now and always.
  8. Discover your God given life purpose– God has a plan and a purpose for all of us. He has a special calling for each of us that call Him, Lord. This will be the fun part of the program. Searching your heart to find what you are passionate about. What is it that tugs on your heart? For me, it is serving single moms. It has been a long time in the making, but God is faithful and everything happens in His timing. It is exciting when God puts things together in a way that only God can. It gives you that push that you need to move forward. When we have confidence in God, mountains begin to move.
  9. Transform your life– God can and will transform your life, but He expects us to be partners in this journey. He expects us to do our part to transform our lives. We need to make a habit of prayer and Bible study. We need to find time to spend alone with God in prayer and worship. We need to find a community of believers to share our lives with. We need to simplify our lives so that God is our #1 focus. We need to make a plan that incorporates these disciplines into the fabric of our daily lives. We need to be intentional in our thoughts and activities. God needs to be at the center of our lives and family, not material possessions or a schedule full of energy draining activities. When we simplify our lives and focus on Him alone, we will see a peace and calm come over our homes that only God can bring.
  10. Maintaining a Godly lifestyle– In order to maintain any type of lifestyle, we need to make a commitment to the plan. We also need to be accountable. We need to check-in on a regular basis to see how we are feeling and if any changes need to be made. We need to remember to stay intentional in our pursuit of God. We also need to remember that this life is a journey, but the end goal is an eternity in the presence of God and Jesus. To me, that is well worth the effort.

As you go through the steps, you will use a journal to document your journey. Writing down our thoughts, Bible verses, experiences, and prayers helps us to “get out of our heads.” It also allows us to go back and see how God has transformed our hearts, lives and families.

This program was definitely a labor of love for me. I prayed over each step, wanting each single mom to find healing, as well as, implementing the necessary disciplines that allow us to grow in our relationship with God. This is not a Bible study that I expect single moms to do alone. I am here as the discipleship coach 100% of the way. I am in this for as long as it takes.

For more information on the L.I.F.E Discipleship Program please visit the program page here.

This has been a year full of anxiety and uncertainty for everyone. We have been dealing with a pandemic that is not showing signs of going away any time soon. We have seen racial tensions and hate destroying cities. We have been political pawns in a Presidential race that has become a war of Democrats vs. Republicans. Now we sit and wait to see what will happen to this beautiful country in the next 4 years.

We can sit and wait in fear or we can take time in this month of Thanksgiving to remember the good things that have happened. There have been good things. Here are 5 things that I am grateful for:

  1. My Family – I love my family. I am grateful for a family that sticks together and never gives up on each other. We are not perfect, but we accept each others imperfections and show each other grace.
  2. Technology – I am so grateful for the ability to video chat my daughter when she is stationed overseas. I am grateful for the ability to watch our church services online when in person services are suspended. I am grateful for the ability to write my blog posts that reach people around the world and hopefully will encourage someone.
  3. Simplicity – I am grateful for the simple things in life. I am grateful for the freedom that is gained in not being trapped by material possessions. I am grateful for the ability to pursue my God given passion.
  4. Provision – I am grateful to a God that provides for me even when I wander aimlessly. I am grateful for the miracles that God works on my behalf.
  5. Life – I am grateful for life. I struggle with a few health issues, but I am ALIVE!!!

These are only 5 of the things that I am grateful for. I challenge you to take some time this month or next month to find out what you are grateful for. What good things have happened for you this year? What are you grateful for?

This week has been a tense one as we waited impatiently to see who our next President would be. We are a nation divided over which man will save us from ourselves. We are asking a lot from one person. We expect one man to become our savior that will make this nation a utopia. It would take a lot to make it what it never was. From this nations birth, we have struggled with racial tensions. We pride ourselves for being a nation of immigrants, but we stole land from the Native Americans and forced them onto reservations where they have lived in poverty and deal with generational issues like alcoholism. We forced them to assimilate to the white culture that began to surround them. We brought Africans over to become slaves on plantations. They were treated horribly and forced to segregate because of color. The Japanese were forced into internment camps in the West. Those with Middle Eastern roots are ostracized because of our fear of radical Islam. Those from Mexico and South America work 7 days a week in the fields struggling to feed their families and forced to live in squalor. This is our history as a nation.

We have a history of division. North against South, Christians against non-Christians, Christians against Christians, whites against every one else. Throw in a pandemic on top of all of it and we become a nation of exhausted and weary citizens. We are tired of fighting oppression, fighting a pandemic, fighting racism, and fighting each other, but we refuse to embrace the only answer to our problems.

1967 Detroit, 5 days of violence, burning, and looting ended in 43 people dead, 342 injured, nearly 1,400 buildings burned and some 7,000 National Guard and U.S. Army troops called into service. Racial tensions were high, along with tensions with the police. Same scenario, different decade. We repeat history, fighting the same issues, the same way and we expect different results.

There is an answer.

His name is JESUS.

We keep fighting hate with hate and it doesn’t work. Why don’t we try something different? Why don’t we try love? Why don’t we try compassion? Why don’t we try to find unity instead of finding reasons to hate each other? Why don’t we give Jesus a chance?

If we want change in this nation it is time to start fighting differently.

We need to start fighting the hate with love…

JESUS!