Every morning I get the treat of watching a dozen or so hummingbirds take their daily bath in my fountain. Continue reading “Fresh Start”
When my kids were little they had to hold my hand while we walked down the street or crossed the street and anywhere else I thought it was too dangerous for them to walk on their own. As they grew however, they would pull away and protest trying to convince me that they could do it on their own. Eventually they learned how to be careful and I let go and let them be independent.
Later, when they were teenagers, every once in a while when we were walking somewhere, I would take their hand and hold on as long as they would let me. Even now that my son is grown with a son of his own, if I get the chance, I’ll slip my hand in his and relish the time together.
I think God may protect and guide us the same way. Psalm 16:11 in The Message says it this way, “Ever since You took my hand I’m on the right way”. When we take His hand we can’t go wrong. He is there to help us and keep us from stumbling. Psalm 63:8 promises that God’s right hand upholds us. Even when we pull away and try to be independent, like our children, Psalm 139:9-10 reminds us that His supervision is inescapable. Praise His name! Thank God for that!
When we guide our children, we know the imminent dangers around us and take their hand to protect them and teach them to be cautious. For ourselves, we can’t see the bigger picture, the one that God sees. We need to reach out, take His hand, and allow Him to guide us through the dangerous times we can see so when the tough times come that we don’t see coming, we are already holding His hand and He can easily guide us to safety.
In this world, I believe we are never grown up enough to be independent from God. We will never see the big picture or be wise enough to navigate this life without the constant care and guidance from God. I still get a bit too sure of myself and start acting like ‘ I’ve got this’, but those times are happening less and less the older I grow. I like to think He enjoys holding my hand as we walk this life road together.
Are you pulling away for independence or holding tight depending on God’s guidance?
Encouragement has been the focus of the Bible study my students and I have been working on. We didn’t start out with that in mind but once we opened the Word to find direction on other issues, God led us back to the importance of encouraging one another.
God gives us a great example as David proclaims in Psalm 10:17a; “You hear, O Lord, the desire of the afflicted; You encourage them, and You listen to their cry.” God encourages us and He listens to our cries. He gives us the instruction throughout Scripture. Oh, that we could do as much for those around us each day.
Here are just a few of the instructions and examples from God’s Word and a few current day ideas to help us follow His lead. Take some time and look up the Scripture and be encouraged by His love for us.
Encourage fellow believers with letters and cards to strengthen and uplift. Acts 15:32
Encourage, if you have the gift of encouragement as part of the Body of Christ, then BE an encourager. Romans 12:8
Encourage the oppressed, the fatherless, the widows. Look around, there are people closer than you might think, who need encouragement. Isaiah 1:17
Encourage one another by reminding others that we will be with the Lord forever. Amen! 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
Encourage each other as you continue to meet together and spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Join in, go to church, get in a Bible study, and be part of the body of believers. Hebrews 10:24-25
Encouragement comes from the Scriptures which gives us hope and creates unity. Stay in the Word, Christ is our hope and love of Him builds unity. Romans 15:4-5
Encouragement comes from the loving discipline of the Lord, because he disciplines those He loves. Hebrews 12:5
Encourage your leaders for even they need to be lifted up. Even Paul needed encouragement! Leaders in all areas of our lives need encouragement. Romans 1:11-12
Encourage friends instead of criticizing them when they are in trouble. Think through what you say and how you say it. Job 16:4-5.
Encouragement takes time. Set aside time to encourage those around you. It really doesn’t take much time out of your day to lift the spirits of another. Acts 20:1-2
Encourage others when the storms of life are at their peak. Throw a life-jacket of kind words to those struggling with life’s trials. Acts 27:22
Encouragement is like refreshment to your spirit. Refresh someone! 1 Corinthians 16:18
Encourage, comfort and urge one another to live lives worthy of God. Just take a second and remember what He did for you and me. 1 Thessalonians 2:12
Encourage others by your faith. Believers and unbelievers watch us as we battle our trials, show them what faith in God can do. 1 Thessalonians 3:7
And the last one today, is the verse that has become the our junior high study’s key verse; Encourage one another daily so we don’t get hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. Hebrews 3:13.
Life is full of people that are easy to encourage and those who are no so easy.
If we can stay focused and keep our eyes open for opportunities to encourage the easy ones, we are less likely to let sin slip in and harden our hearts to the ‘not-so-easy’.
As you were reading, did someone come to mind that you could encourage? Maybe today would be a great day for you to be ‘refreshment to their spirit’. Be Encouraged!
This past Sunday we honored our graduating seniors during our worship service. One of the cool parts was when a few of our adults were asked to share a testimony of how they learned to trust the Lord. Hearing them recount their experiences with Christ was very encouraging to me and helped me remember the many times Christ has come through for me simply because I trusted Him.
One of my favorites happened back when our B&B was just getting started. We were several months into operation and bookings were few. We had started the business from scratch and it was taking awhile to get our name out there so we would have guests on a regular basis, now we needed people. We had exhausted all of our reserves, finances were beyond tight.
One Monday morning, I was looking over the months bookings and estimating the income they would bring and then I looked over the calendar of monthly bills, there was a huge problem. We needed $2100 more to cover the bills. I had no idea how to get that many more bookings and to get them quickly. I just closed both calendars and sat there. I started to pray but He was already telling me, “If you want guests, you’d better get the cabins cleaned.” I laughed a little and then hopped up and started loading up the cleaning supplies.
I was just starting on the first cabin when the phone rang. I’d forgotten to transfer the business number to my cell so I ran back over to the office but missed it. I called right back and the people booked a three-night stay. Thank you, Lord. I walked back over to the cabin and went back to work. About half way through cleaning the second cabin, the phone rang again, another booking and then another. Just as I was finishing up cabin number three, again the phone rang and two couples, calling together, booked their stay.
I couldn’t wait to finish cleaning so I could add up the amount of income these new bookings produced. I want you to know that in just the three hours it took me to clean the cabins, God sent me $2400 in bookings, for that month. He provided more than I’d asked. Then it dawned on me that had I forgotten to add in groceries and gasoline. So God, as usual, knew more of my need than I did, and provided it all.
After that day, I continued to talk over the books with Him. I’d talk Him through our bookings calendar and then we’d look over the bills calendar. Each time, after I ‘showed’ God my needs, I would simply close the books and leave it with Him. Then I’d go to work to prepare our beautiful place for the guests He was about to send us.
He taught me so much about trust during those days. It didn’t make sense, but it didn’t have to because I knew it was from God, Jehovah Jireh, my Provider.
Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track.” (The Message)
What’s your favorite story of when you trusted the Lord?
Ladies’ retreats have been one of my favorite events to attend for years now. It it also one of my husband’s favorite events for me to attend. He loves it when I come home with a fresh look at my walk with Jesus, my life, and especially my role in our marriage.
Come this June, my husband and I will be married 36 years. Two of the things he loves about me is my sense of independence and my strong will. And two of the things that are a challenge for him are my sense of independence and my strong will. We might not have made it had I not gone to a particular women’s retreat back in 1988. There, I learned to take the pants off. Not my pants, the pants! (Ha! Got your attention!) I had to stop trying to wear ‘the pants in the family’.
I truly wanted to be a Godly wife and Patrick’s partner, but I wasn’t being that at all. I pushed to get my way or simply made family decisions without getting his input. Things had to change, I had to change. I spent many hours in prayer, asking for the strength to stop being so strong-willed and to love my husband enough to let him lead. Ephesians 5:21-24 says in regards to our relationship, ”Out of respect for Christ, be courteously reverent to one another. Wives, understand and support your husbands in ways that show your support for Christ. The husband provides leadership to his wife the way Christ does to his church, not by domineering but by cherishing. So just as the church submits to Christ as he exercises such leadership, wives should likewise submit to their husbands.” Patrick didn’t ask this of me, God did.
I believe God started teaching me the next time my husband and I needed to make a decision on something. We had our discussion but this time when we didn’t agree on how it should be done, I yielded and went with his choice. He was shocked at first and he loved it. This became my new way of relinquishing control. It was really hard for me at first because I was certain that my way was better! There were times I would have to bite my tongue to keep quiet and not say “I told you so!”, especially when he was wrong and it turned out to not be the best choice. We both learned and we both grew. If I had continued to be bossy and stubborn, trying to be in control, he would never have become the wonderful husband and Godly head of our family that he became and I would never have become his Godly wife and partner.
I wish I could say that through all these years that I’ve never again taken control, but that wouldn’t be the case. From time to time, I’ve slipped up but I’m much quicker these days at catching and fixing the problem.
Maybe it’s time for another ladies’ retreat? What about you?
In the mail the other day, I received some coupons offering great percentages off from a store that I frequently shop. The percentages were different depending on which days you shopped. In the envelope there were also several perfume sampler cards. I popped them open one by one and waved them in the air to catch their lovely aroma. Usually when I get these cards, the fragrances are far too strong for me, but this time, one of them caught my attention. I really liked it so I asked for my hubby’s opinion. He is fairly sensitive to fragrance, so when he gave his approval, I began to give the perfume some consideration.
I thought, “Hey, since the perfume cost more than I normally would spend, I could use the 40% off coupon for the purchase.” But of course, when I checked the back side where they write the exceptions list, much to my dismay, there it was, in super fine print, ‘fragrances excluded’. Special offers are great as long as there are no exceptions.
Another industry that is known for having exclusions to their deals is the airline business. We hoard our frequent flyer miles and bonus points only to be told when booking, your dates are blacked out or you’re limited to booking the worst flight times available in order to use your points. It’s aggravating.
There is one offer, however, which has absolutely no exclusions, whatsoever. God made us all an offer of salvation and the gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ. “For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world, that He even gave His One and Only begotten son, so that whosoever believes and trust in Him as Savior shall not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:16 Amplified Version). When God said, ‘whosoever’, He meant it, no exclusions. If you decide to accept Him today, He will not say, “Oh, sorry, this is a blackout day, you’ll need to try me on another date.” And Romans 5:8 says, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” We don’t have to look a certain way, talk a certain way, have our lives all put together, He takes us just as we are, no exceptions.
I’ve not decided yet if the perfume is worth the full purchase price, but I know and am so grateful that God already decided that you and I are worth the full purchase price. He paid for us all with His precious son, Jesus…. no exclusions. Amen, and Amen.
Be sure to pass this on and share the greatest offer ever made.
About a month ago we started a little Bible study group made up of some of my students from school. We’ve met a few times now, working to discover what God has to say about the issues they face at school as 8th graders. It’s been quite an eye-opener for me as they share their personal lives with me and to see life through their eyes.
And as it goes most times, this teacher is learning from her students more than she is teaching them.
The group is made up of kids who know Christ and have walked with Him a couple of years, some who know of Him and want to learn more, and those who haven’t been introduced to Christ at all. It has been such a joy to listen to them share the verses they go to for reassurance, showing their friends where to find a verse in the Bible, and digging through concordances to find verses on a subject.
One of the biggest blessings thus far began at the second meeting. One of my young ladies, Sara, couldn’t wait for us to get started. As soon as we all gathered in the living room, she held up a Bible, and while grinning from ear to ear said, “Look! My mom took me shopping and she bought me my own Bible!” Then, before any of us could say a word, she added, “And look!” She was holding up a package of the special highlighters for Bibles. The other kids were so happy for her, for they could tell she was very proud to be the owner of these special gifts.
A couple of days later in class, I asked my students to get out their library books for some reading time. Sara quickly came up to tell me that she didn’t have it with her and asked if it was okay if she read her Bible. Well, that didn’t take but a millisecond to give her a big, ‘yes’.
Everyone was getting into their novels when Sara looked back to get my attention. While pointing to the pages in her Bible, she whispered, yet with great excitement, “Now I know why there are seven days in a week!” All I could do was smile, nod a big ‘yes’, and quickly pray, “Lord, please don’t let me burst into tears right here and now.”
She continued reading as did the rest of the class and I worked on at my desk. In a little while, Sara came over, highlighted Bible in hand, “Mrs. McLead, look at this,” she said. “Look how it repeats this phrase, ‘and the evening and the morning was the first day, and the evening and the morning, and the evening and the morning’. Isn’t it pretty the way that’s written? I love it!” Each repeated phrase had been carefully highlighted. Each phrase cherished for its beauty. Again, I whispered my prayer to not let me break out the tears just yet.
She had no idea the impact that had on me. Those incredible moments Sara shared with me are some that I will never forget and oh, how they made me ponder.
When was the last time I read Genesis? Have I ever read it like she was reading it, with eyes and heart wide open to the beauty and wonder in God’s Word? Oh, that I would never take His Word for granted. I pray that from now on, when I read Your Word, Lord, that I would take the time to truly see more than just the words on the page but view them in sheer beauty as seen through Sara’s eyes.
Friends, I challenge you to open your eyes and heart as you read God’s Word today and everyday. Pass it on.
I love to drive. Living here in the beautiful Texas Hill Country provides for a lovely drive just about any day. The stretch of highway between our town and the next is lined with hay fields, vineyards, peach orchards, and my springtime favorite, wildflowers.
On a recent drive to check out the scenery, I headed west and set the cruise control. At each new awe-inspiring site I would gaze over to take it all in but would also drift over onto the shoulder a little. When I heard my tires run over the warning bumps on the shoulder, I quickly corrected and got back in the middle of my lane.
I did this several times which made me laugh a little but it also made me ponder a few things. I consider myself a very good driver, that I handle my truck well in any situation, yet with just a glance over to the fields beside me, I wasn’t staying on the road well at all. Same with my life. I think I do a good job at staying on the road God has laid out before me, yet with a simple glance one way or the other, I’m off the road.
In Proverbs chapter 4, verses 25-27 (Message version), you’ll find one of my all time favorite passages. The message is quite clear.
Keep your eyes straight ahead;
ignore all sideshow distractions.
Watch your step,
and the road will stretch out smooth before you.
Look neither right nor left;
leave evil in the dust.
Even when the sideshow is as beautiful as a field of red poppies or a green pasture filled with grazing black cows, it is still a sideshow and can get me into serious trouble if all of my attention goes there. Satan would love nothing better than to entice us off the road Christ has laid out for us. He will use the beautiful as well as the ugly to get us to swerve off the road or turn onto a dusty, bumpy road filled with detours of trouble.
My road trip with God is like my drive in the country, I’m easily distracted by beautiful opportunities and options, other than the ones God has chosen for me. I’m also easily tricked into thinking it’s a Godly option when really it is Satan trying to sneak one by me. Maybe you do the same thing.
When we find ourselves running over the warning bumps on the shoulder of our life’s journey, we should take heed. It is probably the Holy Spirit giving us a little nudge to wake us up and get our eyes back on the right road.
“Leave evil in the dust,” verse 27 says. So spin those tires and peel-out from the dusty evil shoulder before we get ourselves in big trouble. God will lead us down the smooth road and show us beauty along the way. We just need to stay focused on Him.
If this rings true for you as well, please share it and pass it on. Thank you.
I was such a tomboy when I was a little girl. I had dolls, Barbies and girly stuff , but I really enjoyed playing with my brother’s trucks too.
Our yard was the yard. Everyone played in our yard. Our house was in the middle of the block and our yard was flat and perfect for all sports. We played football in the front and baseball in the backyard. Four-square was a big fun and our double driveway was the perfect size for that too.
I thought that I was pretty tough playing all the games alongside the boys of the neighborhood. A few of the other girls played sometimes but it was mostly me and the boys.
There was a tree between our house and our neighbors house. We climbed it often just like the other big trees on our street. One day things just didn’t go as they usually did. I climbed way up in the tree and scouted about but when it was time to come down, well, I couldn’t do it. My friends tried to talk me down, telling me where to put my feet and which branch to hold onto next, but it didn’t work. I just couldn’t do it, I was scared! Nothing they said helped. I held on tighter with each suggestion.
Finally, I cried out, “Go get my daddy!”
Daddy came outside to see what was the matter. He tried to talk me down just like my friends had done, but I still couldn’t do it. After awhile he was getting a little frustrated and he said, “Patti-cake, you’re just going to have to trust me. Jump, I’ll catch you.”
Sometimes when I’ve messed things up because I’ve gotten too sure of myself and made decisions without praying about it first or acted on what I thought was a good idea instead of talking to God about it first and waiting on His answer, is when I call out for help from my heavenly Daddy.
Then after His gentle redirection I can almost hear Him say, “Patti-cake, you’re just going to have to trust me.”
No matter how tough we think we are, no matter how much we think ‘we’ve got this’, God is still the one I cry out to for help when I – get stuck up in a tree. You can trust Him too. Proverbs 3:5-6, verses that are a favorite of mine come to mind, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.”
In other words, trust Him and jump – He’ll catch you~!