Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Wednesday Words of Encouragement

Isaiah 26:3-4 (NIV) ~

You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you! Trust in the Lord always, for the Lord God is the eternal Rock.

I have a vivid memory from a few years ago of walking in the woods as the snow gently fell around me.  The air was crisp, and all was still.  The only sound was that of my boots crunching through the new fallen snow. I had such a feeling of peace and comfort.  There are so many times when I long for that feeling again.

How can you be at peace when things seem to be in turmoil all around you? How can you be peaceful when you have a to-do list a mile long and only so many hours in a day?  What if your world is turned upside down? Or you are dealing with conflict on a daily basis? What about the times when things don't go the way you expect or desire? It can be difficult to find inner peace when your world is in chaos.

These verses in Isaiah certainly give us the answer to this.Remembering to keep our eyes fixed on the One who is our rock helps us to find that peace. Taking our thoughts off the circumstances and placing them firmly on the Lord and His promises is the key.

I love the image of God as a rock.  The Lord is firm, sound, unmovable, solid - a boulder. Nothing shakes Him up. The things that we see as huge obstacles are nothing to Him. He can do all things and we only need to lay our fears, concerns and burdens at His feet.

As you learn to turn your cares over to Him and then concentrate on Him and His promises, you will have true inner peace. You will have peace knowing He is in control.  Peace in the fact that He will handle things in His time.  Peace in the promise that He has good things for your life. Peace in the knowledge that He sees the big picture.

Trust Him. Focus on Him. Fix your eyes on Him. He will bring you peace.

Are you in turmoil?  What things do you need to lay at the feet of Jesus today?

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

A Different Type of Ministry

My new shop has been open for three weeks now and I wake up excited and ready to face the day each morning.  Why?  Is it because I am looking forward to making money?  No, that's not it.  That has not been the driving force behind this, though of course, I want it to do well and be profitable.  We need to be able to pay our bills!

Some of reason in starting this business was for it to be an extension of my ministry here.  We live in one of the poorest counties in New York State.  Many people here are struggling to make ends meet.  Some have very little means to do that because of disabilities or other circumstances.  The poverty that is here is unlike that of the inner cities in that it is hidden.  A very large percentage of children in our public schools are on the free and reduced lunch program.  So my heart strings have been tugged by this and for many years now I have felt the burden of helping others.  But I don't want to help them by just giving handouts and quick fixes.  Some of the problem is education and knowing what to do to get themselves out from under the financial burdens they face.

On the other side of this coin, is the fact that this is a huge tourist area, especially in the spring, summer and fall.  Lake Ontario is a destination spot for many because of the beautiful campgrounds.  The town my shop is in has hundreds of salmon fishermen and their families descend upon it once the weather warms up.  So the opportunities to make money are there.

One thought that kept coming back to me repeatedly was having a way where some of the women in our area could make some income and yet, still care for their families.  Since moving here, God has opened up the doors into the artisan/crafting community and there are many women out there who make beautiful items but have no way to market them or they aren't sure how to do that.

So my desire is to help them do that.  I have been successful in running my own sewing and craft business.  I have many contacts.  I love people!  I am competent in spreadsheets and websites and navigating my way through the murky waters of running a legal business and collecting and paying sales tax in New York State.  So I want to be able to teach that to those who need help.

I love the fact that I'm helping people in both spiritual and physical ways.  We aren't just spiritual beings.  In order for people to hear about Christ, sometimes their physical, emotional, and social needs have to be met first.  On a small scale that is what I am doing.

I didn't go to church on Sunday because the community was having a huge Christmas event with activities throughout the town.  I was one of the stops during the day with a free "make and take" craft for children.  I think I had almost 40 children through the shop.  There were a few sales but my main desire was just to get the word out that I was there and to meet people in the community.  The cool thing was hearing from our church people that they were praying for me as I was out doing this.

Sometimes ministry will look a bit different than the traditional.  I'm happy that God opened up this opportunity for me.  I'm thankful that I'm able to work on the other things in my life too such as church ministry and our district ministry. I've been having time each day to catch up on email correspondence and work on other things that need to be done.

My life has been busy lately, but it's been full.  I fall into bed and sleep well each night and Jump up each morning, ready face a new day!

Monday, December 5, 2016

Three Things

My head is spinning a bit this morning after my roller coaster of a ride this week.  Circumstances, emotions, and busyness all threatened to derail me, but when I was tempted to complain and whine, I remembered these three principles taken out of Romans 12.  They help me to keep an even keel no matter what I'm facing.

Romans 12:12 (HCSB) ~

Rejoice in hope; be patient in affliction; be persistent in prayer.

Rejoice in hope - When I feel hopeful, I celebrate.  I feel upbeat and positive and thankful.  I make sure I thank God for the hope I have.  It's that spark that keeps me going and I am very grateful that for the most part I can see God's hand on different situations in my life.  Hope is the reason I get up each morning and can face a new day.  That spark of hopefulness makes me rejoice!

Patient in affliction - When times are rough, I remember to have patience in the midst of it.  I remind myself of the ways God has worked in the past and believe that He will work in the future.  I ask for wisdom in the situation.  I look for the lesson in the pain.  I try not to say, "Why me?" but, "What is the lesson I can learn from this?"  Patience means just that; not complaining, not whining, and not throwing myself down and having a proverbial temper tantrum.  It means quietly and calmly going about my business and trusting.

Persistent in prayer - No matter whether things are on an upswing or a downswing, I pray.  Prayer is the one thing that we are taught over and over again in God's word.  Pray without ceasing.  So I work to do that no matter if things are good or things are bad.  My prayer life needs to be consistent and persistent.  Prayer is our reminder of our dependence upon God.

It may have been a rollercoaster of a week as far as my circumstances, but I'm working to remember these three things.  We make our lives so complicated, but if we could remember these three key phrases it would certainly be simpler, wouldn't it?

Friday, December 2, 2016

Are You in Idle Today?

As a child and teen, I remember my mother always going out in the winter and warming the car up for about 10-15 minutes before we went anywhere.  She did this to get the windows clear of frost and ice and also to have a toasty warm car to get into.  I have done this too with any car I have owned.

However, I have since discovered that this is one of those things that the newer cars do not need.  In fact, you can be causing more damage than good by allowing your car to idle in cold weather.   Idling can actually cause more wear and tear on your car than getting in and just starting out slowly on snowy, cold days.

Are you in idle today?  Is your motor on, but you are stuck in place?  One of the definitions of idle is being without purpose or effect; pointless.  Have you forgotten the purpose of your life?  Are you ineffective in your relationships?

The first week in Advent is always focused on hope.  We often discuss the hope that the prophets foretold in the birth of Christ.  We talk about the hope that the Israelites had in the coming Messiah.  We rejoice in the hope we have in Christ.

I Peter 1:3 ~ 

"Praise God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is so good, and by raising Jesus from death, he has given us new life and a hope that lives on."

The hope that we receive in Christ should actually cause us to move forward.  We are to have hope that keeps us focused on the future, and not on the past.  Hope is forward thinking.  It is the settling knowledge that God is in control of all things and that He works all things out for the good of those who believe in Him.  

Have you forgotten that you have a living hope?  Are you focusing on past and present mistakes?  Are you stuck at a point in time where you keep reliving failures and disappointments?

Look forward!  Be hopeful!  Keep your eyes focused ahead!

As we head into the Christmas season, remember the wonderful hope that we have in Jesus.  Realize the wonderful work He is doing in and through you.  Lift up your head and keep moving forward.

Don't stay idle!  Surge ahead, and be joyful in the knowledge that you have Hope in Christ.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Wednesday Words of Encouragement

Psalm 100:4-5 (NIV) ~

Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.

Let's do an exercise together today.  Get out a piece of paper and a pen and put it somewhere near you today - on  your desk at work, on your counter at home as you cook or in your purse as you travel.  Pray and ask the Lord to show you the many blessings you have in your life, no matter how small.  Each time one pops into your head, write it down.  I guarantee you that at the end of the day your page will be full.

So often we go through life either not thinking about the good in our life, or we can't think of anything because we are so focused on the negative.  Let's do this one small exercise together.  Tomorrow as you sit down for your meal, pull out your list and read out those blessings.  You will find that your cup is overflowing!

I hope you all have a wonderful day tomorrow!  Enjoy the meal, enjoy your family and friends.  But more importantly, enter into the celebration with a thankful heart and a mouth ready to give praise to the Lord for all He has done for you.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 22, 2016


When Dan and I were first married he was in seminary.  We didn't own a thing and of course, Dan was attending full-time while I worked full-time.  The few possessions we managed to set up house with were the result of hand-me-downs and wedding gifts.  As we went into a ministry that required us to raise our own support, we still didn't have the means to acquire much.  But we learned to be happy with what we had.  Our furniture was mismatched (still is) and we had a hodgepodge collection of dishes and pots and pans.  But that was okay. 

Much of our simple lifestyle was out of necessity but mostly, it's because it is who we are.  We could care less about acquiring material possessions.  Shopping doesn't thrill us and we avoid the mall at all costs.  Going on big fancy vacations isn't our thing.  It's really just the small moments that keep us happy.

I've learned the joy of simplicity, and being appreciative for small moments which in the grand scheme of life, really aren't so small.  Some things that have brought me joy recently:

❤  My neighbor's cat who has adopted us.  Every time we leave or come home, he's there meowing loudly and rubbing against us.  Of course, the fact that Emily feeds him a bit of milk may have something to do with it. ;-)

❤  The beauty of the setting sun.

❤  Cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger mixed together.  The smell is heavenly.

❤  Being able to open a shop on a shoestring budget and by finding things I have myself for display pieces.  I've only purchased 3 things for it.  Emily said to me the other day, "Every time I come home from school there is another item missing from the house."  "Are you moving out and just not telling me?"  hahahahahahah

❤  Snow days and the smell of homemade waffles and sausage.

❤  Hearing all three of my children laughing over the online game they are playing together.

❤  The smell of coffee in the morning.

❤  The anticipation of Thanksgiving dinner.

❤  Bringing chaos into order as I clean.

❤  Bird-watching

❤  Little thoughtful gifts from friends - a jar of jam, returning my soap bags so I can use them again, a crafty item that they thought I could use, peppermint from their garden.

❤  A pick-me-up cup of tea in the afternoon.

❤  Walking through the woods in silence with my husband.

❤  Curling up with a good book.

❤  The quietness of the house in the morning that allows me time to read and pray and write this blog.

I love our life and I am thankful that we do enjoy living simply and have learned to appreciate the small things.  We are happy and we are content.  And that is a lot to be thankful for in this day and age.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Multitude Monday - Overflow

Ephesians 2:6-7 (NIV) ~

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.

When I gave my life to Christ at the age of twelve, I wanted to follow Him wherever He led.  I know that it is unusual for a young girl to think that way, but I had a calling on my life to do what He wanted me to do and go where He wanted me to go.  So it's no surprise that a few years later, I heard His voice calling me into ministry.  And so I went off to college and then to seminary where I met Dan.  We spent ten years ministering in the inner city of Paterson, New Jersey and then into church ministry.

Throughout the years, my faith roots have grown down deep into the soil as I continue to live out my life for Christ.  But the part of these verses in Ephesians that I sometimes forget is to be overflowing with thankfulness.  Thankfulness should be a natural overflow of my strong faith.  I am thankful but sometimes I forget to exercise that muscle and it gets weak. 

Today I'm exercising again by saying, "Thank you!"

This week I'm thankful for blessings #2814-2825.

2814.  I am thankful for a warm house and a furnace that works as the temperature plunged this weekend.

2815.  Stephen is home safe and sound and actually is feeling better.

2816.  Our church is small (about 45-50 people) and yet, each week we deliver bags of food to the local elementary school.  We live in a very poor county and many children's only nutritious meals are at the school.  The food we provide gets sent home to children who don't have much to eat over the weekend.

2817.  Again, our small church packed up 17 Thanksgiving baskets and delivered them yesterday.

2818.  The presence of the Holy Spirit was definitely in the service yesterday from the worship to the message to the fellowship afterwards. 

2819.  I love hearing that people within our church are reaching out to those around them all week long in tangible ways.  They are meeting physical needs, emotional needs as well as spiritual needs.

2820.  I'm thankful for God's grace.

2821.  Friends who open their home to us.

2822.  An unexpected gift yesterday.

2823.  I'm thankful we can share Thanksgiving with someone who has no place to go.

2824.  Nathan slid off the road yesterday on his way home from work.  I'm thankful that someone was right there to help him and that the car wasn't damaged.

and finally...

2825.  The overflow of living a thankful life for Christ.