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Sharing Treasures and Spreading His Love
After giving my life to Christ an entire library opened for me. Lauraine Snelling, Traci Peterson, Francine Rivers, Robin Lee Hatcher, Chuck Swindoll, Rick Warren, James Dobson, Susan May Warren, Karen Kingsbury, Barbara Johnson, Carol Mayhall, Joyce Meyer, Beth Moore, Max Lucado, John MacArthur and others represent one percent or less of men and women whose faithfulness to God changed my life. Christ took their teachings, stories and encouragement to point me to look to him and seek to become more like him.
But in the last year the Lord brought hundreds more godly men and women into my life who obeyed his call to write and speak. Eva Marie Everson, James Watkins, Cindy Sproles, Andy Lee, Edie Melson, Lori Hatcher, Bob Hostetler, Torry Martin, Andrea Merrill, Vonda Skelton, Elizabeth Brickman, Elaine Potts, Debbie Webb McDaniel, Darla Bell, Katy Kauffman, Erin Elizabeth Austin, and each one from BRMCWC, CCC and Boot Camp.
My humble thanks to each of you. Critiquing and editing this I realize my lists ramble, but sometimes you have to break the rules. I wanted to continue them, but practiced restraint, not much, but some.
Name your imaginary friends from your childhood. I spent most of my time with Jan. My shadow and I spent countless hours climbing trees and riding bikes. On rainy days we created bunny families and towns with paper and scissors. We explored for hidden treasures at low tide off Bay Street near the bridge over the inter-coastal waterway. We managed to sneak away to my friend’s house only to have her mom meet us at the door and tell us Momma called and return home.
But some of my best friends met me on the pages of books. When the librarian tells you not to bring back books the same day you checked them out and wait until the next day, you devise creative ways to immerse yourself in literature. Living next to the library as a child, I hopped the fence, entered the quiet sanctuary, found a book, curled up in a corner and read until closing. That worked well many days unless Momma called and the librarian sent me home. The characters in books breathed. I wanted to be Polly Pepper and live in a house with a dirt floor and be loved by the entire town. I wanted to be Jo in Little Women and not have to act like a prissy girl. I wanted to be Florence Nightingale, Louisa May Alcott, Marie Curie, Anne Frank, and hundreds of others.
Ask me and the details of my school libraries will carry you there. You will see the rows of blue covered biographies of which I read every one. You may feel the sand against your legs as you sit on the floor, ankles crossed and the pressing of the edges of the shelves against your spine. You may feel the need to squirm from sitting in the hard oak chair, elbows propped on the table and your chin resting on the palms of your hands. You may hear the quiet. Read with me and become a character in the book with me. Sweet, treasuered memories.
Read Friday’s post and find where these friendships carried me.
Pre-surgery for broken arm
Vera before the Princess and Daddy Ball
Ashley and Tabitha circa 1982
Butterfly hitching a bicycle ride
Record of spending time with my friend, Sam B. Colt.
Even 1565 tastes better when shared with Jesus
Sweet reminders of grands: Butterfly stickers on the granite counter top
Tell the truth. At twenty-four I admitted the truth. Born to a minister and godly mother I spent those previous years talking like a Christian, looking like a good little Christian girl, knowing about Christ, but I did not know Christ.
Married eighteen months, my relationship with Dan felt like our lives were intersecting lines and not two connected as one. Would divorce be my fate? What separated this wonderful man and me? What shot our paths to cross and not intertwine together?
A scripture shared with me three years earlier in college floated across my thoughts. Jesus came that I could have life, not some ordinary life, but an abundant life. My life teetered on mediocrity at best. I hungered for that rich life. I knelt by my bed and sobbed for God to explain to me what I needed to do to live life in abundance.
Each night for a week I sought the answer from God. Dan climbed into the shower and I hit the floor seeking an answer to my question. Saturday night I again knelt and with tears streaming from the corners of my closed eyes I lay my head against the bed and waited in silence. I sensed a presence behind me. Lifting my head to peek over my left shoulder I catch a glimpse of someone. Dan stood in the doorway into our bedroom, with his towel wrapped around his waist, staring in silence at me on the floor. He wore a puzzled look on his face. Turning he returned to the rest room to dress and brush his teeth.
We said a blessing at meal times but kneeling in prayer fell outside the pattern of our lives. We rose early, ate breakfast, dressed, left for work, came home, ate dinner, dressed for bed, read, and slept. The following day repeated the previous day.
The next evening as Dan showered, I knelt, sat back on my feet and lifted my face upward and asked God to share with me what was missing in my life. “Jesus rests on a shelf in your life life like something nice to look at. You know about him but you don’t know him. Without him in your heart your life is empty of hope, love, forgiveness, and peace. No one comes to the Father except through Christ. In Jesus alone is everlasting life with him.”
I did not know what words to say but I begged him to come live in me and fill the gaping hole in my life. Peace rose within my heart and I knew Christ held me in his loving embrace.
That night reading in bed I turned to Dan and asked him if he love God more than he did me. Without hesitation he told me he did. Later he told me that he knew at that moment he lied. He described feeling like ice water struck him awakening him to the truth of his relationship with Christ.
Two weeks later Dan asked the Lord to live in his heart and also be the first love of his life. He explained the change in my life convinced him that I underwent a major transformation. But it was not I he saw, but he saw Christ alive in me.
What best describes your relationship with Christ? Does your life seem incomplete, unfulfilled or empty? Do you love Christ over all others? Are you confident you will spend eternity with the Lord of unconditional love? He says it best in Luke 11:9-10.
So listen: Keep on asking, and you will receive. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened for you. 10 All who keep asking will receive, all who keep seeking will find, and doors will open to those who keep knocking.
The Voice (VOICE)
The Voice Bible Copyright © 2012 Thomas Nelson, Inc. The Voice™ translation © 2012 Ecclesia Bible Society All rights reserved.
Storms rage around us in many forms, but God never leaves us. He is in the boat of life with us. Over my lifetime situations arose in which others attacked me with with a barrage of verbal hailstones. My heart felt ripped in half, so painful I thought I heard it like the sound of fabric torn apart. Sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me. Untrue.
Hammer a nail into an heirloom table, then pull the nail out. The hole remains. Fill it with putty. Sand it Stain it. The table continues to bear the evidence of damage.
Careless, angry, demeaning words wound the hearts of those targeted. The invisible daggers and arrows leave injuries of excruciating pain and after healing ugly scars remain. As an amputee will not grow a new limb, the damage caused to an injured heart will not disappear.
But God heals. One of his names is Yahweh Rophe. The Lord Who Heals. God heals the broken-hearted. He’s able. Praise him and thank him for his great love for us. Praise him for his healing and renewing our strength.
Isaiah 40:31 (VOICE)
But those who trust in the Eternal One will regain their strength.
They will soar on wings as eagles.
They will run—never winded, never weary.
They will walk—never tired, never faint.
He lifts us up from the ashes of a burned out life. He wipes the tears from our faces. He heals the wounds. He replaces the hurtful lies with truth. He affirms his love for us. He shapes us closer into a perfect reflection of his image. He fills our hearts with joy.
Psalms 30:5b (VOICE)
The deepest pains may linger through the night,
but joy greets the soul with the smile of morning.
The Voice (VOICE) The Voice Bible Copyright © 2012 Thomas Nelson, Inc. The Voice™ translation © 2012 Ecclesia Bible Society All rights reserved.
Honor Your Father and Mother
1Children, obey your parents in the Lord [as His representatives], for this is just and right.2 Honor (esteem and value as precious) your father and your mother.
Daddy was not the perfect father. Oh, he loved us and we were his sunshine. He parented in the manner he thought best at the time just as most parents do. His father treated his eleven children harshly and that’s what Daddy knew. We knew when Daddy spoke we obeyed because we feared the consequences. All four of us grew up dealing with emotional struggles. He caused deep wounds by his words, but especially to two of my sisters.
Growing up my sisters and I awoke to Daddy singing the chorus to You Are My Sunshine. That was his song to his babies. Singing us awake, singing us to the table, singing us to dress, Daddy had a song for just about anything. He grew up being sung to by his mom who also taught him to play the piano, to dance and to sing.
His mom wrote music, choreographed it and traveled the Vaudeville circuit with Daddy and his sister Florence performing. Later he sang in churches and at revivals. After returning from World War II RCA offered him a recording contract. He turned it down. He told the record company that God called him to preach and pastor. Daddy walked away from the glitz and glamour of musical fame to the grit and grind of ministering from the pulpit and homes. He wanted to honor his Heavenly Father with the gifts he felt God entrusted to him. He wanted to preach and not perform.
Daddy continued teaching us to sing four-part harmony and arranged for us to perform. We sang in churches, fairs, fundraisers, competitions and around the piano just for fun. We sang hymns. We sang jingles. We sang country ballads. We sang Johnny Cash, Patsy Cline, Elvis, Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland, Doris Day and the Lennon Sisters. No matter the venue we included in our repertoire the chorus to You Are My Sunshine.
He spent the last few years of his life in a nursing facility. While there he desired to live his life continuing to honoring God. The first few years there he sat in his doorway greeting each person entering or leaving. Some chatted with him, some asked him to pray with them or some to sing with them. He took each hand in his and affirmed each one. Bedridden his last two years he would sing You Are My Sunshine with different staff members, harmonizing with his beautiful tenor and slowing the last note, holding it and fading the “away.”
My sisters and I spent those last two years, a week or two at time staying in town so he would see one of us each day. We desired to honor our father and pour out the love of God on him. We watched baseball or football with him, read to him, or sat with him while he napped. But before leaving him we sang hymns or old ballads harmonizing and concluding with You Are My Sunshine. As he grew weaker he reached to hug each of us often and repeated, “Sorry.”
Daddy died October 19, 2014. Prior to him leaving us my sisters and I stood around his bed holding hands and singing in four-part harmony Amazing Grace and the Doxology. We each went to him, again told him we forgave him and we loved him. Soon after we crooned You Are My Sunshine he went “away” gazing into the shining face of the Son standing at the right hand of God. I imagine him singing hallelujah’s with the angels.
Scripture quotations taken from the Amplified® Bible,
Copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation
Used by permission.” (www.Lockman.org)
A few days ago I shared an article about Big Daddy Weave and their new song, “My Story”. I told you I was going to share my story, so Lord, help me. Here it is. I accepted Jesus as My Savior when I was 12, at Camp Gilead in Polk City, Fl. My life was forever changed! I have faced many challenges in my life, but God has strengthened and sustained me through each and every one of them. As a result my relationship with Him keeps growing stronger. I constantly saw God’s hand guiding me through tough high school years and hectic college years. One of His greatest blessings was meeting the Love of My Life, My Soulmate, the one that I know without a shadow of a doubt that God meant for me to share the entire rest of my days with- Matt Bell!!!❤
My biggest challenge in my life, marriage, and family came after we had our first child. I thought I just had postpartum depression but it never went away. The negative and devastating thoughts, emotions, anxiety, and fear that became an everyday part of my life was so very crippling and overwhelming. All of that in addition to the normal adjustments to being a new Mom and the all the changes and challenges it brings in marriage. I was left with little energy to enjoy the life I know God wanted me to have. I can’t even begin to imagine how all of this weighed on Matt, but God is faithful! Matt has always been right by my side, encouraging, praying, and holding me through times when I know he must have felt so helpless and bewildered as to what he should do to help me. That kind of love and support can ONLY come from God who has put a love so deep and strong in our lives, first for Him and then for each other!
I didn’t want to be around people, always in a bad mood, couldn’t control my emotions, crying uncontrollably. The devil would feed me lie after lie and I would believe all of it. The mind is truly a battlefield and I rely on God and His Word to combat those damaging lies like how can anyone love me, I’m a terrible mom and wife, I’ll never measure up to anything, I’m unattractive to my husband , and on and on. I used to want to bang my head into a brick wall a dozen times to try to get the thoughts to go away! Many times I thought of getting in my vehicle and leaving my family because The devil was trying to convince me that they would be better off without me! But I would immediately pray- I knew this was NOT what God would want me to do and in my heart I really didn’t want to leave those I love. I would go through cycles of trusting God for a while then shaking my fists at Him and crying asking Him why He allowed this to happen to me. As our family grew, I continued to struggle , but I was always thankful for Matt and our children.
Over the years I continued to serve God and He gave me the persistence to never give up and to continue to seek Him even though I didn’t understand. Eventually, I came to the place a few years ago, where I refused to allow Satan to defeat me. Through Christ I am more than a conqueror and I knew that God still had a plan for my life. You see, since I am child of God the devil knew he couldn’t have my soul so he wanted to render me useless for God’s Kingdom, but SATAN FAILED!!! You see, what the devil meant for evil, God is using for His glory. In 2 Corinthians 4:7 it says that we have this treasure in jars of clay that this all surpassing power is from GOD and NOT us! We are broken and damaged human beings but even though we are weak, as a Christ follower HIS POWER is IN US! More than anything, I want to fulfill God’s purpose and plan for my life by encouraging others and showing them CHRIST is the ONLY way to find real love, joy, peace, and eternal life.
God is helping me get out of my comfort zone and be obedient to Him in many different areas of my life. He’s been guiding me to use the talents He’s given me to make a difference for His Kingdom. Do I still struggle with my issues? Pretty much everyday of my life- many times it’s in my thoughts. Other times I get overwhelmed with anxiety or feel like I’m going to burst into tears at the worst possible times and even though I still fail Him many times each day, I wouldn’t change ANYTHING about my past! I probably wouldn’t have the depth of the relationship I have with Him right now and I probably wouldn’t be serving Him the way I am now if it were not for my depression and anxiety. It keeps me constantly on my knees, admitting I need Him every second, every minute, every hour of every single day! Some may call me pathetic or weak, but that’s ok-I love being a Jesus Freak! Now I’ve told you my story… “You heard Hope that wouldn’t let go…love that never gave up….VICTORY over the enemy” and sooo much more… ALL by the grace and glory of God! “To tell you my story is to TELL of HIM! This is my story, this is my song, praising my Savior all the day long! #IAMNOTASHAMED!!!!!!