Monday, October 15, 2018

When the Storms Come

During a morning run last week, the radio program I was listening to continually gave warnings about a coming storm.  Hurricane Michael was expected to hit that day. The announcer shared "everyone in our listening area will be affected." It is a fact that every surrounding county is under either a hurricane or tropical storm warning. There WILL be rain and wind for all, but some may face catastrophic conditions. Just days ago, Hurricane Michael was a forming group of clouds and rain that quickly grew into a catastrophic weather system. In 24 hours, it will be completely gone from our area leaving only the aftermath behind.  Although our immediate area was spared from extreme damage, our neighbors in the panhandle of Florida are facing devastation that will take much time to rebuild from.

Storms are a fact of life, it is not a matter of if,it is more of a 'when' they will roll through. They are a certainty and they will come. They can develop suddenly or come with little warning and can always bring affects. 

Our lives have storms also that follow those same guidelines - they WILL come.  It has been said you are either in a storm, just coming out of a storm or about to walk into one.  Since we already know that they will come, our chance of successfully weathering the storms of life depends on our anchor - or what we hold on to as the storm rages. 

Last Saturday, the sun was shining so brightly in our lives. I was enjoying a new ministry, just completed a week of diligently preparing and training for an upcoming 5K, and simply feeling great in all areas. My son had recently started a new job he was loving, learning a new trade, working hard and loving life. Saturday evening our family went together to a wedding our son was a part of.  It was a time of pure happiness and joy.

Sunday morning found us preparing for church, excited about opening our home to some new friends through a Sunday lunch. The morning preparations were interrupted by a visit from 2 law enforcement officers. My heart began racing as they walked up and stated that my son's truck had been in a violent crash and that he could not be located. Panic and denial swirled around as they asked if we knew where he was or how to get a hold of some of his friends that may be able to locate him. Thankfully the surreal moments gave way to relief as through a few phone calls he was found. He was injured but alive. 

After speaking to my son on the phone and being assured he was ok, our family went to the crash scene to see if we could salvage any of his belongings. Upon arrival and setting our eyes on the damage, amazement and thankfulness flooded our souls. This became 'sacred ground' because viewing the damage to the vehicle, it is a true miracle our son walked away alive. All we could do is thank God and praise Him for His protection.

Meeting with our son at the hospital as he was treated for a broken arm, cracked vertebrae and several lacerations, we were able to take him home late that night. The storm had rolled through and although we were battered, we survived thanks be to the Lord.

After Hurricane Michael, there will be debris strewn all over. There will probably be flooding in many areas and much more damage. Once the storm passes, a time of rebuilding and replacing occurs.

In the aftermath of our family's storm there will be recovery, physically and mentally. Our son is scheduled for more tests, doctors appointments where they will determine how to best treat his injuries. My 'injuries' are internal - fear, the bombarding of 'what ifs', the flashbacks of the damaged truck and the vision of the officers words at my door are still vibrant and threaten to close in on me like huge waves which can easily overpower anything in their path.

The morning this post was written, I was squeezing in a morning run before the storm came, the radio show I was listening to brought powerful reminders and soothed my heart with peace and strength. The Anchor of my soul steadied my emotions with the power of His truth. God knows, sees and speaks peace in our storms.  He is a Chain-breaker - the only One who can break the bonds of fear and uncertainty. When our emotions clutch us so tightly and threaten to squeeze hope out - the God of hope will infuse our heart with His hope. Great is His Faithfulness, He is the Creator and Sustainer of all life. He is able to keep us when things are going great and He will walk with us when things are bad.

Before the storms come, set your anchor down by filling your heart with God's Word, surround yourself with godly resources.  What is put inside your heart is what will come out in times of storms. Be prepared, it may be a rough ride, but God is right beside you in and through it. Every storm of life will eventually pass through. The effects may linger, but new life, new hope and new strength can also be found on the other side. Now is the time to firmly plant your anchor in the Lord. 

Sunday, September 30, 2018

So Long, September

September is one of my favorite months of the year. It is my birthday month and usually marks the beginning of fall.  With the intense heat down here in the south, fall may not bring cool weather, but it assures us that fall and cooler weather are coming!  

This year, summer has held on and on. The temperature lows are still in the 70's with hot and humid weeks on end of 90+ high temps. But, I know fall, cooler weather and pumpkin everything is coming soon.

But the month of September did bring much joy in other areas.  My sweet hubby and I both have September birthdays, just one day a part. We celebrated with a birthday dinner and were surprised by our oldest son who lives away, but came for the weekend to celebrate with us.  Plus this year, I hit the big 5 0.  And it wasn't too bad!!

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I thought turning 50 would be a good time to experiment with a new hobby and decided to look into and try chalk painting. My project was taking a few wood tables and giving them new life and a new look.  This was a fun project and here is one of the results:

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It may not feel like fall yet, but it sure looks like it around here!

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So, Hello and Goodbye to September.  It passed by in a flash, but the memories are stored up in my heart! 

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

September Hope - Never Forget

Today is September 11, which is a very emotional day for our country. This is a day where as a country, we pause and remember the horrific day our country was attacked. We remember the devastation, the loss of life, mourning and grief of so many families.  The pictures of the attacks still play in our minds when we remember this day, along with our feelings of helplessness and unbelief. 

On this anniversary of 9/11, the theme rings out "We will never forget".  This day is forever etched in the heart of America.  We are bound together by our memories and the strength shown through the selfless acts of unity. 

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In our family, September 11 is also a day we will never forget. It was a Sunday and as a family we went to church, enjoyed the afternoon together and then went in different directions for the evening. Our middle son Josh went to a get together at a friends house. My husband went to church services at our home church while I went to participate in a business meeting at a church I worked at.

Just like each person can tell you exactly what they were doing when hearing of the 9/11 attacks, I remember every detail of hearing the news no parent ever wants to hear.   The business meeting I was at was just dismissing and as I got up to leave, my husband was there.  "We need to go, Josh has been in an accident."  Moving swiftly out the door, more news kept coming.  It was a 4 wheeler accident and he had been life-flighted to a hospital an hour away. 

When those impossible moments of life come, God can bring unlimited help as well. As we gathered at the hospital, family and friends joined us. Josh had suffered a fractured skull and had a brain bleed. There was some ear and eye damage as well.  But he was alive and we were so thankful. After a week in the hospital he was able to come home to begin the journey to recovery.  During one of those days, this photo was shot of a rainbow outside the hospital room. 

The beginning days of this crisis felt like they would last forever.  But each day we continued on with therapy, doctor appointments and healing. Josh was down, but he was not out. He is a fighter and an overcomer.  We put our faith in God and He pulled us through. We will never forget that time and the feeling of fear and helplessness, but as we look back now, we see God's hand and help with us every step of the way.

There are times like today to look back and never forget.  But then it is time to turn back to look ahead and remember with thankfulness where God has brought us. And firmly resolve to follow and trust in the leading of the Lord.  

Friday, September 7, 2018

Consistency Connects, Faithfulness Fulfills

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Have you ever thought how many things we do out of habit?  We begin our day with probably the same routine each day and never think about the steps.  The beginnings of the day are done in a certain order and done day after day become consistent.  All through the day and our routines of life, we do things so automatically that we quickly become consistent - without even trying!

As one who loves to run, time is made in my schedule for running several times a week.  Currently, I run a route at the same time in the morning. Several cars daily pass me as they are probably going the same place at the same time each day. I know nothing about the drivers, but can label them as 'the girl in the white honda' or the 'grey ford truck guy' and almost pinpoint the time they pass me. After several weeks, these drivers give me a hearty and friendly wave. I am now a familiar sight for them. Even though we don't know each other, our consistency connects us. 

The trait of consistency may get a bad rap for flirting with the boundaries of boredom.  We surely need times of spontaneity in our lives, but consistency can also be a good thing.  It is the building block of faithfulness, which leads to dependability. It has been said that, “the greatest ability is dependability.” There is great truth to that statement. The Bible stresses in several places the importance of Faithfulness. It is a characteristic of God, especially toward His people, and it should be a characteristic of His people.  It is about being dependable, reliable, consistent, trustworthy. 

The Bible says, Proverbs 20:6 "Most men will proclaim each his own goodness,
But who can find a faithful man?" It’s difficult and it’s rare to find a genuinely faithful person. People value faithfulness whether they talk about it or not.

My morning run consistency began with a decision followed by action that was done again and again. Leadership teaches that true change will not come about until something new or different is done every day. 

Here are a few characteristics that may get our faithfulness started:

Having the Right Values:  
  • A faithful person knows what’s important in life and what isn’t important in life.
  • A faithful person knows how to invest his or her life and how not to.
  • A faithful person makes their life count.
  • A faithful person knows the significant from the trivial.
A Faithful Person Cares for Others Interest, Not Just Their Own

Contemporary culture says “What’s in it for me? What’s my needs, my ambitions, my desires, my goals, my hurts, my values, my profit, my benefit?” It’s very selfish, self-centered. It's always asking 'what’s in it for me?'
The Bible teaches that faithfulness is a choice. I can choose to change my attitude so that the focus gets off myself and what’s best for me and instead say.  “What’s best for others?

If there is one quality that will help you continue serving and living for the Lord, it is the quality of faithfulness. If we will finish the race that the Lord set before us, then we need to make the decision to be faithful to Christ and His cause.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

New Week - New Zeal

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I'm not trying to be a "Debbie Downer", but it is almost Monday!  It is true that the weekend is on the way out, but look - a new week is on the way in!  

Let's learn to make friends with Monday. There is something so fresh and new about the beginning of the week. Last week is gone, lessons learned can be made right, mistakes made are in the past with a clean slate ahead. It's a do-over if we will embrace it.

A good devotion, Scripture or promise from God can set the tone for the week. It can put in our heart an eternal perspective, an attitude that looks beyond our circumstances to trust and faith in God who loves us and has great plans for our life.  YOU MATTER - You make a difference!  

This Sunday as I walked the halls of the church I've attended for 20+ years, there was such a familiarity, which although comfortable, often puts me in auto mode. Speak to this person, answer this question, sing the familiar song, hear the Scripture, so much can be done out of habit. 

But, the Bible speaks of rivers of LIVING water flowing from our hearts. It speaks of newness of life and boundless opportunities to be salt and light in our world.  Christians are called to lift one another up and be a voice that encourages. These things force us to step out and put some bounce to our steps, to be intentional and ready to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. This is a new, daily or weekly challenge that when embraced can energize us and fill us with renewed vigor. 

A prayer found in a devotion recently is a cry of my heart.  This is my prayer for the week and I hope it will bless and encourage you as well:

"Dear Lord,
Don't let my zeal for You grow dim. Don't let complacency hamper my spiritual growth. Manifest Yourself to me today in a new and deeper dimension. As much as I know, teach me more!  I don't want to merely survive, I want to thrive."  

Will you join me this week in seeking God in a heartfelt way?  I can't wait to see what this week holds!