This blog contains affiliate links. If you click on them and buy the product, then I receive compensation. It helps me to run this blog.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

A Mile in Our Shoes

It’s so easy sometimes to feel alone. It’s so easy to believe, during the trying times of our lives, that we are the only ones suffering. It’s so easy to allow self-pity to ease its way into our lives. It’s so easy to give into the pain, listen to devil and proceed to give into his ways. Whether we realize it or not, when we doubt, give into the pain, and believe the negative thoughts racing through our minds, the devil wins.

For however long he has our minds occupied, we are distracted from the things which truly matter. When we are focusing on the negative things, we have lost hope. We have removed our eyes from God and are slipping further and further into the depths of our own misery. Did you know that most often times we create our own misery? It’s true. We continue on our journey of self-destruction and never stop to think about the day when the Lord will require us to pay for our sins. We listen to the devil more and more and forget the promises of our Lord. We allow the devil to convince us that we have no self-worth and our lives are hopeless and pointless. We believe him as he hurls the bad, negative, hopeless thoughts our way.

And, suddenly, we are right where he wants us to be. We’ve stopped going to church. We’ve stopped praying. We’ve stopped reading our Bible and stopped allowing our light to shine. We are not a balm to some broken heart or lost soul. We are a stumbling block. We are the very picture of misery. We are of no help to others and a hindrance to our own lives. We’ve lost the enjoyment of our salvation and life.

But the good news is that God allows us to change. He allows us to change directions. He knows that we are only human and that we will fail, so He developed a plan for those times. He allows us to repent of our sins and gives us another chance to change our ways. He blesses us with life and wants us to see the beauty of His gift—just for us. He wants us to be happy and enjoy life. He wants to bless us and watch us grow into a beautiful vessel for Him. He wants people to look at our lives and know, without a shadow of doubt, we belong to Him.

Imagine you are fighting a war. It’s a very important battle where lives are at stake. You are fighting for souls, and their eternity. What would onlookers think if you decided to just change sides? If you moved over to the devil’s side and started fighting for him. I believe we are either serving God or the devil. Those are the only two sides in this war. Ask yourself today, which side are you fighting on?

God never promised us life would be easy. He never promised us a life without heartache or trials. He did, however, promise to never leave our side. He promised to always be with us. He has walked in our shoes. He knows the temptations we face. He knows the heartaches of our hearts. He knows the devil torments us on every occasion. He also knows how to defeat the devil every single time.

My daddy preaches that if we want the devil to leave us alone, then we need to stay out of his reach. We need to live, as best we can, for God. We need to seek God on all things. We need to believe whole heartedly in His promises. We need to read our Bibles and learn of the times past. We need to be at church, every possible opportunity and hear God’s beautiful word. He has grace for our every need.

I believe God has everything we will ever need. We may not like God’s ways. We may not understand them all. But I have grown to love them and appreciate the greatness of them. Wisdom doesn’t come without suffering. We cannot grow in our lives without pain. Instead of fighting against it, I am learning to embrace it.

I know that all things are for my benefit. I know that God suffered far greater for me, than I will ever suffer. I know that He was perfect, upright, without any sin and yet He carried my cross. He gave His life for me. Think about that for a moment. Regardless of what we face or how we suffer, we will never suffer as Christ did for us, and yet He opened not His mouth. He never uttered one complaint. He suffered greater than any man has ever suffered, and He did it all in love. So when life gets you down, just remember God knows how we feel. He has walked a mile in our shoes, only He didn’t stop when things got hard for Him—He went all the way.


Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Light of Love

It seems life is on fast forward anymore and we often fail to enjoy the moments. With Christmas approaching, I feel bad that I didn’t send out Christmas wishes to my family and friends. The kids and I have not made Christmas cookies, watched movies or enjoyed the special moments of Christmas. It’s so easy for me to feel bad for all of the things I have neglected to do. However, I love it when God comes through, opens my eyes and shows me I’m doing better than what I had originally thought.

To me Christmas is about love—a greater love than our hearts can even imagine. We shouldn’t wait until Christmas to show the love of our hearts or to shine our light into a world of darkness. We should show the beauty of Christmas all year long. We should always exhibit God’s great love with a giving heart, filled with thankfulness, mercy, grace and forgiveness. We should show kindness wherever we go and fill spaces with an aura of God’s amazing love.

We should help those in need, every chance we get. We should pray for those struggling and share our experiences when possible. We should give the world a little glimpse of the hope inside of us. We should show them the true meaning of Christmas. We should tell of God’s amazing gifts and how he selflessly gave His Son for our lives. We should tell them about salvation and the peacefulness of our hearts. We should encourage them, when it all seems hopeless. We should stop complaining and start praising our Lord.

It doesn’t matter whether someone says Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays. The world has never accepted Christ. They have been trying to do away with Him since the beginning. All that truly matters is what is in the depths of our hearts. If we love God, it will show. We won’t even have to utter a word to show the Spirit of Christmas. People will feel it from us. They will see it in our smile and hear it in our voice. They will feel it in our embrace and know there is something special about us.

This Christmas let’s all strive to give more—smiles, kind words, prayers, forgiveness, mercy, grace, hope, encouragement and most of all love. We should all strive to be like the beautiful Star of Bethlehem shining a light to those who have lost their way and bring them to Jesus.

Merry Christmas!! May God bless your hearts with love and peace.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Christmas Gift

Two years ago, God gave me a simple letter to share with my family and friends. He blessed me to write it and tell of His greatness and the love and peace in my heart. However, I never shared it. I allowed fear to paralyze me. I allowed the devil to steal my special blessing and therefore, suffered the wrath of my Lord.

That was the absolute worst Christmas of my life. I was terribly sick, and laid in my sick bed two weeks prior to Christmas. The doctors couldn’t help me and no one could figure out what was wrong with me. I prayed continuously for God to help me, but He ignored me. And then when I was weak and broken, He showed me the reason for my sickness and gave me some time to think about it. I learned God will not tolerate disobedience. He knows exactly what it will take to make us obey His will.

Last Christmas, when the letter stirred in my heart again, the desire to write it and serve my Lord was greater than the fear. God blessed me to write a beautiful letter and showed me how He could use me for His honor and glory. He blessed me with each word recorded. He blessed me with each letter forwarded. He also blessed me to receive beautiful messages and comments from my family and friends. With every tear and blessing, I realized how to write for my Lord and how to listen to His still, small voice. I realized that people would like what I wrote, not so much the words but the power behind them. There was such a desire, in the depths of my soul, to give something wonderfully special that year to everyone.

That Christmas letter marked a tremendous milestone for me. It was the first time I had actually shared the writings of my heart with a multitude of people. It set me up a stone for future endeavors. The praise and love from my family and friends helped me to start my blog and take the next step in my writing journey.

And now as I prepare for my Book Release Party, I’m awed at God’s beautiful blessings. I love it when He takes me back and shows me this has been part of His plan all along. I love how He has been preparing me for this moment. I love the feeling I get when I hold my books in my hands and the humbleness that comes over me as I sign my name inside. I love the prayers God blesses me to whisper for the receiver of my books. I love the feeling deep down in my heart as I give the books to those who support and love me. I love the comments and realization that they have already touched many hearts. I love that everyone knows they come from God and hold His blessings.

When you open the books and see my signature, I pray you feel the love in which I signed my name—just for you. I hope you know that I prayed about what would be signed and followed my heart.  I pray you feel the words and hold them close to your heart. I pray you know how special you are to me and how much I appreciate your support and love.

I love the wonderful feeling of giving. It gives me a little of glimpse of how God must have felt when He gave His Son for us. I can’t even imagine how wonderful it must be for Him every single time He gives eternal life to a lost soul. I can’t imagine the beauty of comforting a troubled heart or giving blessings to His children.

We should all strive to be a giver. We should all strive to give good gifts (that money cannot buy) to our loved ones. We should all strive to give without expecting anything in return. We should all take the time to remember why we celebrate Christmas and explore the meaning in our hearts. We should take a moment to thank God for His beautiful gift and tell others about its greatness. We should try everyday to shine our light in a cold, darken world. We should take a moment every now and then, and remember how we felt the day God saved our soul. That is the absolute best gift of all.  

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Comfort Zones and Blessings

Right now, if I’m honest, I can tell you that I truly miss my comfort zone. At times I feel like I’m living someone else’s life. Everything that was comfortable to me is gone and replaced with unknown things that are terrifying. I miss curling up with a good book and reading with no feelings of guilt. I miss hanging out with my kids and, at the busiest of times, hearing the sound of their laughter. I miss going through my days, with little or no responsibility. I even miss cleaning my house.

My life has become hectic and unpredictable. There is so much more to being a published author than I realized. Now there are lots of emails, phone calls, interviews, and so many fears to overcome. There are days when I feel so overwhelmed with it all. I just want to snuggle in my husband’s arms and beg him to make it all go away.

I’ve allowed the fear to overcome me. My stomach hurts, I’m so tired at night I can’t sleep, my body aches and my mind races. I feel like I’m always going a million miles an hour and when I get one problem taken care of, three more surfaces. Yesterday was one of the worst days I’ve had in a while, and yet, it was wonderful because it enlightened me.

I’m only one person and I can only do so much. Sometimes we have to prioritize our lives and realize that if we don’t get it all done today, then that is what tomorrow is for. God doesn’t ever give us more than we can bear; however, sometimes He does push us beyond our comfort zones to show us our true capabilities.  

I’m terrified of interviews and public speaking. I want to deny them all. I’m afraid the fear will paralyze me and I won’t be able to say a word or that I’ll say the wrong thing. Yesterday I felt myself closing off from it all. I was retracting and the negative feelings were bombarding me. And in the height of my misery, God intervened and reminded me that it’s not just about me.

So what if I say something wrong or fall flat on my face. Is there anyone perfect? Could anyone cast stones at me for failing, if I tried with my whole heart? But what if God gives me something to say to help someone else? Wouldn’t just one opportunity to help someone else be worth a thousand failed attempts?

I’m not perfect! Nor will I ever be. I have a southern accent and heart full of love. God knew all of this when He blessed me to write these books. I also know that regardless of what I face, God will always be there for me. It is through Him and by Him that I can make a difference, and isn’t that the whole point?

I REFUSE to allow fear to overtake me. I refuse to allow the devil to overwhelm me. I refuse to allow the devil to steal my joy. Of course, I will still get nervous. In fact, I hope the Lord always blesses me with that dread to keep me humble. However, I learned through Zippy’s story that courage is being scared to death, but doing it anyway.

I’m so thankful for all of the beautiful opportunities God has given me. I love it when He blesses me to tell of His greatness. I love it when I think I’ve made a complete and utter mess of the situation and God still makes me look good. I love it when He talks with me and calms my fears. I love it when He steps in and causes the devil to flee from me. I love it when He blesses others through my story.

It is so precious when someone tells me my story touched their life and changed it in some way. It is so precious when a child stands and begs their parents to buy them Zippy and the Stripes of Courage for Christmas. It is so precious when someone takes the time to make a special sign in my honor and even put zebra stripes on it. It is so precious when a child’s eyes light up when they look through my book, and then tell me of their favorite part. It’s so precious to see them connect with Zippy and his story.

All of these wonderful blessings, I received outside of my comfort zone. I’m nothing more than a work-in-progress and my Lord has so much more to teach me and help me overcome. He also has an abundance of blessings just for me. It’s not His will that we succumb to fear, but rather overcome it all through Him.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Help is on the Way

For the record, allow me to say at least one more time—there will always be obstacles to overcome in our lives. Always! Life is a constant warfare of struggles and disappointments. At times our situations can seem so bleak. In our eyes it seems that there is no possible way it can all work out, and then right when it seems all hope is lost God arrives and makes everything better.

In a moment, He can fix it all. He has all power in Heaven and Earth.  He knows exactly what we need and when we need it. He won’t allow us to drown in our misery. Just as He lifted Peter out of the waters enclosing him, He will reach down and pull us up as well, when our problems threaten to destroy us. Faith is seeing a little glimmer of hope through the darkest times.  It’s about trusting God with our lives, realizing and knowing He has it all under control.

He wants us to depend solely on Him. He wants us to know that we can’t do it on our own. He wants us to know that the greatest things in life are not without a price. With every grain of wisdom we achieve comes suffering and pain. That is the only way to succeed and grow. We’ve all heard of growing pains in our lives. As a child those pains were necessary to help us grow into adulthood. As an adult, those pains are necessary to strengthen us and mold us into a vessel for God; worthy of success.

As I have learned all down through my life, God won’t just get us by but He will see us through every obstacle. He is always by our side. He always has His arms outstretched for His children. He doesn’t walk away when we make the wrong choices or neglect to ask Him for His help. Instead He waits patiently for us to see that the mountain we are attempting to climb is impossible on our own. He hovers close as we take one step forward and then many more back. He waits while we question if we are on the right path or if we even want to continue on our journey. He waits while we wear ourselves out with the anguish of doubt.

And THEN, when we are at the end of our strength, ready to give up, He counts our tears and understands each and every one. He understands the groaning our heart utters. He knows He is always the last option, and yet, He still arrives right when we need Him the most.

He has a whole multitude of blessings just for you. Sometimes He gives us just enough to keep going and other times He opens the windows of Heaven and allows His wonderfulness to pour upon us. However they come, they are all so good.

As I’ve said many, many times, God doesn’t give us obstacles in our way to defeat us but rather to show us that through Him all things are possible. Regardless of what you’re going through NEVER give up! When the devil tells you how big your problems are, remember your God is bigger than them all put together and multiplied a hundredfold, and then even more than that. All down through the ages I have never once read where God left His people and allowed the devil to defeat them. He made us some wonderful promises in the Bible. One was that He would never leave us nor forsake us, but that He’d go with us all the way, even unto the end.

What more could we ask for? We have everything we need in God! And regardless of what happens to us, what we encounter or face, we know that it is all for our good. How amazing is that?

Whatever you’re facing today, I pray God opens your eyes and gives you a little glimpse of where you’ve been and where you are going through Him. Sometimes the battle seems hopeless to these natural eyes, but there is a chariot of fire all around us.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thankfulness and Love

I truly love those mornings when as soon as I open my eyes, thankful thoughts fill my mind. I love it when God passes my way and reminds me of my blessings. I love it when He shows me of His love and then burdens my heart to give His wonderful love to others. There is absolutely nothing as wonderful as God’s love. So if you asked me to sum up what I’m most thankful for today, it would definitely be God’s amazing love.

Love is, or should be, the very center of our lives. It should be the foundation that everything else stems from. It should be given and received unconditionally. There should never be any basis for why we love others. There should never be anything that anyone could do to destroy our love either. I believe if we walk in that love every single day of our lives, then we will be well pleasing to God and much happier.

I’m learning to be thankful for the things I have, instead of crying for what I don’t have. I’m learning that if I really think about it, my blessings have no bounds. Recently I heard someone say, that they have only one thing to be thankful for and it broke my heart. So often we are our own worst enemy. We allow the devil to beat us down so that we start drowning in our own self-pity. He loves it when He can make us feel like we have absolutely nothing to be thankful for. However, if we look to God and ask Him to help us see our blessings, then we will be astounded by His wonderful grace and mercy, just for us.

I have started training myself to see the bright side of EVERY situation. Regardless of what happens to me, I examine the situation and try to find the good in it. In doing that I have recently discovered God is so much better than I realized. He does what is best for us in every situation, not what we want or believe we deserve. He wants us to recognize His wonderful love and mercy, grace and forgiveness every day, in every situation.

As I’ve said previously, I’m learning to be nicer to myself and forgive myself easier for my shortcomings and failures. I desire to be more like Jesus. I want to be the best person I can be. I desire to know more about my Lord. I love to read the scriptures and see how things were handled years ago and the examples left for us. I love to talk to people and tell them how wonderful my God is to me. We are left in this world to give others a little glimpse of God through us. If we always have our heads down thinking how pitiful we are, then how can we give God any glory? If we are always complaining, then how can we possibly show anyone the beauty in our hearts?

To be happy is simply a choice. No one can make us happy or cause us to have a bad day. We are more in control of our lives than we even realize. It’s about purposing it in our hearts to be happy and doing everything possible to achieve our goals. It’s about getting back up once we fall down and knowing that if we’re going through a hard time—HELP is on the way!

I love happy thoughts. I love to think about my blessings. I love to pray for others and take them into my heart. I love to tell of the wondrous works of my God. And most of all, I love to be thankful!

Try it! You will be amazed at how it will transform your life. Every day can be like Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Making a Difference

What if we all pledged in our hearts right now to make a difference in some way, in someone’s life? Do you realize that we could change the world? Kindness often has a boomerang effect. One smile could multiply into hundreds, then thousands, and before you know it everyone would be smiling and ultimately happier.

Sounds absolutely wonderful doesn’t it? Then why don’t we strive to make it happen?

We often complain about the government or the horrific things happening around us, but what we fail to see is that it doesn’t really matter what is happening around us, we can still elect to be happy. Happiness shouldn’t be based on a certain criteria, if that were the case it would be impossible to be achieved. It should be strived for daily. In my life, I have learned happiness is not the absence of sadness or depression— it is the overcoming of it.

There will ALWAYS be obstacles we have to overcome. There is always going to be someone who will do something to upset us. There will always be tough situations and things which happen beyond our control. I have learned we cannot control what happens around us, but we can control how we react to it.

We didn’t get to choose our hair or eye color. We didn’t get to choose our parents or siblings. Where we would grow up or the morals and values taught to us. However, we can choose the type of person we want to be right now. There has to come a point in our lives, where we take responsibility for our own actions and choices. You can only blame your parents or bad things that happened to you for so long. Those things might have contributed to bad choices or made you feel bad, but you have the power to stop it right now, before it destroys the rest of your life.

The key is to look for the bright side of it all. There is a reason these things happen and it all happens for our benefit. For example, I pulled out a few of my rejection letters. When they arrived in the mail previously, they nearly devastated me. I would cry and be sad for days. Looking at them now has a different effect. I want to hug each and every person who rejected me. They helped me along my journey to publication and helped me to my wonderful publisher and illustrator for Zippy.  

I believe we are all right where we want to be in our lives. I believe we are all the type of person we want to be. We all have the type of relationship we want with God, our family and friends, and ourselves. Most often times you get out of things whatever you put into it.  

I have found it is so easy to look at other people and judge their lives. Yet, how do we know that we would handle their situation differently? Without the knowledge of their feelings, we cannot assume we would do it differently. We might do worse.

Lately is seems everyone wants to put down those on drugs and alcohol. People often want to take the high and mighty stance and look down on others. Instead of trying to knock those suffering down, we need to lift them up to the Lord in prayer. We need to find a quiet place out of the world and pray for those who have lost their lives or the enjoyment of it anyway, to these things. I know without a shadow of a doubt that if I were in their shoes, I would want the church praying for me.

What if God only treated us the way we treat Him and others? I don’t know about you, but I’d be in trouble. However, my Lord is so wonderful! He knows all about me—my shortcomings and failures, and He loves me anyway.

We all have the power to make a difference. We can lift people up or bring them down. We can be a light to others or a stumbling block. We can be the type of person everyone enjoys being around or the type that everyone avoids. We can be kind or hateful. We can celebrate our blessings or allow the devil to take them away. We can open our eyes each morning, dreading another day or wake up so thankful God blessed us with another day to spend with our loved ones.

I’m training myself to only look at the bright side of any situation. I examine my thoughts now and embrace the positive ones and discard the negative ones. I realize I am a work in progress and I’m learning to speak more kindly to myself.  Perhaps I can’t change the whole wide world, but I change the little world I live in. Kindness is a universal language everyone understands.

I believe I can make a difference! What about you?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Voice of Compassion

After having laryngitis all week, I am very thankful for the ability to talk. I never realized how much one person actually talks. And I’ll be the first to admit, some of us talk way more than others. However, not being able to speak at all brought definite challenges to my life.

It’s was hard to wake up my kids. Usually, I walk into their rooms and tell them to wake up. But for days I didn’t have that ability. It took me longer to wake them up or even make them understand what I wanted them to do. I couldn’t help with their homework because I couldn’t explain what they needed to do. When they yelled at me from another room, I couldn’t answer them back. I had to walk in there so they could hear my whisper or write it down so they could read it.

I found myself using fewer words and sometimes just not communicating at all. The effort to talk hurt and it was easier to just remain silent. I would sit around and listen to what everyone else had to say and not even try to join in the conversation. And then I thought, maybe God just wants me to listen for awhile.

While I have always heard that we shouldn’t question God, sometimes I do. Not because I’m angry with Him or trying to demand answers, but because I want to know more about Him and His ways. I believe He does everything for a reason and sometimes if I don’t think or wonder about a situation, then I might miss the whole point of the trial I’m encountering. I want to know why things happen to me so I can understand and grow. I believe everything that happens to us provides us with a great opportunity to understand more about our Lord. I think God wants us to search for answers and reflect on our life. Sometimes the knowledge of why things happen changes everything. And then again, some things are certainly not meant for us to understand.

For example, I had a school visit scheduled for Wednesday. I tried so hard to get better in time. I rested my voice, took my vitamins, drank lots of fluids, etc., but nothing helped. It made me feel bad to cancel. Then I realized, what if there was someone who needed to hear Zippy’s story that couldn’t be there that day. So often we blame things that happen on luck or coincidence, but I believe it’s neither. I believe it is God making sure we are exactly where He wants us to be.

Every once in awhile it’s good to be reminded of our blessings and how much we take for granted. We just expect everything in our lives to go great. We expect for everything to be easy and work out just perfectly. And when it doesn’t we get mad at God. I am leaning to stop and think about things. When I do, I can see a whole realm of possibilities, otherwise overlooked.

I may not know why everything happens to me and just to be honest, some of it I probably don’t want or need to know, but I know in every situation—God is good. He is so merciful and longsuffering. He is faithful and strong. He loves me more than I can imagine or understand. He always has my best interest in mind. His blessings always exceed any heartache.

Sometimes he puts us through things to teach us about compassion. A brief walk in another’s shoes can show us more than words or explanations ever could.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

And I Owe it All to You Lord

Even though I know my Lord is so great, I’m so thankful that He continues to amaze and bless me in ways I never dreamed possible. Just when you think it can’t possibly get any better, it does. I know I’ve said this many times before, but some things are just worth repeating, my God is a wonderful paymaster.

I have learned recently that while God is a wonderful giver of blessings, the devil is a stealer of them. He wants to take them away from us. Anytime he can make us doubt, cause us pain, and distract us from God’s work then he has succeeded. And he isn’t just the negative voice inside our head. Sometimes he uses those we love to hurt us, in ways that we never dreamed possible.

I’m a loving person who HATES to hurt other people. I can’t bear to hurt someone accidently, but intentionally is inconceivable to me. Maybe my stern opinion stems from a lifetime of being hurt, but I never want to be the bearer of heartache. I would rather be hurt tenfold than to cause someone else a moment of anguish. I want to be the type of person to help someone up, instead of being the one to knock them down.

However, I have learned not everyone shares my beliefs. Some people hate to see others succeed. They hate to see others prosper in their journey of life. They are so miserable in their own lives that they try to destroy everyone around them. They want to be the bowling ball and knock down whoever gets in their paths.  They love darkness rather than light. They get pleasure out of other people’s pain.

Well, I won’t deny that some have hurt my feelings. I’m not as strong as some might think, in all reality, I’m weak and vulnerable. I try so hard to treat other people the way I want to be treated. If I treated some how they treat me, then I would be ashamed. I’ve been allowing the devil to steal my blessings. I have allowed him to make me focus on the ones who are not supportive of me, instead of all the ones who are. I’ve allowed him to use the people who hate me to hurt me. I have learned in life, if I’m expecting the blows then I can be prepared. I can plant my feet just right and pray my way through it. But when they come unexpectedly, they knock me down and hurt so much worse. However, my God is always there to pick me up and wrap me in His arms of love and peace.

And when I look to Him, He always makes it all better. He may not change my situation, but He can change my perspective. He can give me a prayer to pray for those who have hurt me and a few tears to use on their behalf. He is my strength and my shield. He is the giver of all of my blessings.

He is the One who has blessed my life so richly. He is the One who blessed me to live. He is the One who saved my soul. He is the One who gave me such a wonderful family to support me and love me. He is the One who gave me a husband to love me unconditionally and children to brighten my life. He is the One who gave me the gift to write and the faith to see it through. He is the One who stepped in when the time was just right and blessed my books to be published. He is the One who carries my every burden and sees me through every obstacle.

He loves all of His children unconditionally and He has blessings for them all. Don’t allow the devil to steal your blessings, too. Don’t allow him to take away your opportunity to be saved! Don’t allow him to take away all of the good things God has planned for your life. God has the power to bless your life in a way that your mind can’t imagine, but your heart desires.

Everything in my life that is good comes from God. I owe it all to Him.

Friday, October 28, 2011

I am Weak, but He is Strong

What a week!

It started out with complete and utter exhaustion. Saturday evening my son was bitten by a dog and I rushed him to the emergency room. I expected to wait, everyone knows you always wait in the ER unless you are dying, but I never dreamed we would still be waiting after ten, long, hungry, exhausting hours. I never dreamed a doctor would tell a child with a gash in his leg and tissues exposed, terrified of needles, that he would have to have to be stitched up, and then make him wait five more agonizing hours before it happened.

As the hours passed, my son finally fell asleep and I sat alone in the exam room, worried and exhausted. As the tears fell, God reminded me I was not alone. As my own strength faltered, He gave me comforting scriptures and held me in His arms. And He reminded me of Job.

Now, please don’t think I’m comparing myself with Job. But I do think we go through similar things and I believe each book of the Bible was written to help us along our journey. My favorite part of Job’s book is that he never gave the devil what he wanted. He never gave up on God. And God blessed Job richly for his obedience.

However, the devil never gives up! He doesn’t throw his hands up in the air at the first sign of defeat and walk away. No! He tries another way—over and over, relentlessly until finally he makes progress. If he can’t defeat us with one thing, he will try something new. Until eventually he finds our weak spot. Then he pounces.

He continuously yells negative words, trying to get us to listen to him. He pokes and prods at us until he has us ready to throw in the towel and give up. And when we give up, he wins. I don’t know about you, but the whole image of him defeating me just makes me mad and ready to fight.

Instead of standing up to him and fighting, I usually want to just give up. It’s so much easier for me to believe that there is no hope. It’s so much easier for me to believe the lies that he tells me, instead of searching for the truth. It’s so much easier to throw my hands in the air, declaring—I quit, than it is to keep trying.

During these times I like to think about Jesus. Where would I be if He had given up when things got hard for him? Where would I be, if He had listened to the devil as he tried to tempt Him? He lied to Jesus, just as he lies to us. The difference is that Jesus didn’t listen to him. Jesus didn’t allow the devil to make Him doubt the Lord or succumb to his will. Instead, He kept His eyes on God and the great plan and purpose just for Him and His life. He resisted the devil and caused him to flee.  

We all go through hard times. We all come to the point of giving up, every once in a while. We all get discouraged and want to escape it all. But, what if someone is counting on us? What if there is a person somewhere that we are meant to help? What if God is preparing us for a purpose far greater than we can even conjure our minds to imagine?

As the Lord uses me to write these blogs, continue with my books, and do school visits, the devil rages. He tries everything possible to make me quit. He plagues me with doubts and fears. He makes me feel overwhelmed. He tells me over and over, I can’t help anyone or make a difference. He uses people to hurt my feelings and break my heart. He continuously throws obstacles in my way. He wants me to quit! Give up! Stop!

And when I continue to press on, he tries new angles. He knows that I will just cry and try to pray for those who hurt me; however, when my children are hurt, I want to fight. I get scared. I lose my sense of reasoning and believe the lies he tells me. I want to protect them with fierceness. I don’t want the devil to use my children to hurt me. I want to stop. I want to protect them. I want to just give in to him so he will leave me and my family alone. However, I KNOW deep down in my heart, quitting is not an option.

So I go to my Lord with a broken heart and beg Him to help me overcome this new obstacle in my way. I lift my eyes toward Heaven and, suddenly my problems don’t seem nearly as devastating. I stand still while the storms around me rage, and then my Lord steps in and gives me peace. 

He eases my pain the devil inflicted and helps me to get back up. He gives me encouraging words from friends and strangers, and reminds me of my goals and purpose. He is my light through the darkest hour, and my strength during the weakest of times. He reminds me He is my protector! And the only way the devil can get to me or my family is if they go through Him.
He doesn’t give me trials and tribulations to break me, but rather to strengthen me. He doesn’t bring me to the impossible to fail, but to prove to me that through him all things are possible. I am weak, but my God is so STRONG!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Something Worth Leaving Behind

No one likes to contemplate the end—especially, the finality of life. We always want and believe we deserve another day. We always want to say one more thing to our loved ones or find something new to add to our bucket list of things to do before we die. However, always living for tomorrow makes us waste today. Sometimes we get so caught up in life that we forget to enjoy it and share it others. So often we fail to treat others the way we want to be treated. We fail to show our love, believing we have another time to do so.

But, what if God decided our work here was through. What if He called for us right now? What would you leave behind for your family?

Some have a carefully planned will, complete with strict guidelines. Property is deeded, money split, and valuables sorted and transferred. However, none of those things are comforting to a grieving heart. They don’t wrap around a broken heart and help it to mend.

On the other hand, a testimony praising God is a balm to a grieving heart. It gives hope and promises beyond what our eyes can see and ears hear. Its price is far greater than any worldly possession. It shows what was believed and the right road to be traveled. It sets up stones for future generations and leaves behind a record of God’s truth and love. It’s a comfort in the time of a storm and a hope when all else seems to fail. It’s a lifeline to our family left behind.

So often I think about what I will leave behind to my loved ones. What will be remembered about me someday? And I hope everyone who knows me will remember I loved the Lord. I hope my family will have cherished memories of good times we spent together. I hope they will remember my smile and how much I loved them. I hope they will reflect back on the sound of my laughter and the hope in my heart. I hope that when my time comes to an end that they won’t grieve for me, but rejoice in their hearts for every single day my God blessed me to live. I hope they will remember that I loved life and was so thankful for the opportunity to live. I hope they will remember whether I’m young or old that God was so good and merciful to me. I hope that they will be able to celebrate the fact that I lived, instead of grieving that I died.

Let today be the first day of your new life! Forgive and love those who have hurt you. Strive to mend broken relationships and make new ones. Set a good example for your children and grandchildren, nieces and nephews, friends and neighbors. Keep your eyes on the Lord and walk in the way that He has made for you. He knows we are a failure, but He wants us to make an effort to do better. He wants us to love unconditionally and be a friend without limitations. He wants us to pray for those who hate us and the ones who spitefully use us. He wants us to teach our children right from wrong and show them love. He wants us to take the time to talk to a friend in need. He wants us to help our neighbors in whatever way we can help them. He wants us to live our lives to the fullest without wasting it. He wants us all to live our lives so that another soul may be able to glimpse the light inside of us. He blesses us all with the gift of life and it’s up to us how we use our gift. All through the bible there are records of people who lived for God and done His will. However, there are also records of those who turned away from Him and plagued their own hearts with misery. These are the examples of the way we shouldn’t live our lives. God gave us all the ability to make our own choices. Which one will you choose?

What better record could we leave behind to loved ones than the knowledge that we are a child of the King! That, my friend, is something worth leaving behind!  

Thursday, October 13, 2011

It’s Not Just About Me

Monday night I discovered, once again, just how weak I am. Knowing that I had my first school visit the next day, I lay in my bed tossing and turning with the worst possible scenarios racing through my mind. One would think I would be thrilled at the opportunity to read Zippy to children and share his story. And there was a part of me that was; however, there was another part of me that was terrified.

What if no one liked my book? What if no one liked me? What if the teacher regretted asking me to visit? What if I disappointed her? What if I disappointed my child, who had helped plan the whole visit? The numerous worst case scenarios troubled me. They blinded me and caused me to doubt myself and my Lord.

My horrid thoughts were without hope or optimism. They guaranteed that I would fail miserably. They forgot all that I had been through. They forgot all of the times I lay awake at night wishing I could share Zippy with children. They forgot all of my accomplishments and blessings thus far. They screamed and ranted, reminding me of all of my faults and failures.

However, the good part is that nothing can separate me from God. And when one of His children cries out onto Him, He hears their pleas of help. When He steps in with His wonderful peace, hope and love the devil has to flee from us. It blesses my heart so much when He takes the time to work with me. He loves me so much that He blessed my family and friends to send me encouraging words. He loves me so much that He sent someone to my home to tell me their granddaughter was so excited I was coming to school the next day.  He doesn’t just give us difficult jobs to do and then leave us to fend for ourselves. He’s with us every step of the way.

He changed my thoughts and gave me the strength I needed to withstand the storm. Instead of believing everything bad was going to happen, he reminded me of the positives in life. What if God intervened and made me look good? What if there was a troubled child who needed to hear Zippy’s story? What if He had a great purpose for sending me to that school, in those classrooms?

And then He showed me that it’s not always just about me. Had my life been solely about me, then He could have taken me when the bands wrapped around my body. He could have lifted me in His arms and carried me into Heaven. I would have never suffered or had to bear these scars. But He didn’t. He allowed me to live and gave me the scars to prove it.

He wants me to help those struggling, in the depths of despair— those who have given up on life and accepted defeat. He wants me to encourage them and share my trials and tribulations with them as well as my blessings. God wants me to show them how He has blessed my life.

As I stepped outside that morning and turned to lock my front door, He took away my fear and replaced it with peace and then, excitement. He put a smile on my face that couldn’t be removed. He guided me through each class and blessed me to share with them the words of my heart. He touched hearts and made friendships. He gave me a special moment, I hope to never forget. 

I had a tough time getting there, but when I did nothing could compare to the blessings bestowed unto me. They don’t just last a moment, but God’s blessings span a lifetime.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Moment

There is nothing in this world quite like a moment with God. It’s precious, sacred, and well indescribable really; however, the feeling is etched in our hearts forever.  

That’s how I felt today as I held the package from my publisher. I knew the sealed package was my proof that God saw all of the tears I cried. He heard all my prayers. And when the time was just right He answered my prayers and made my dreams come true. He blessed me to hold my books in my hands and feel His approval. I felt as if He opened the windows of Heaven and poured His blessings upon me. Only my heart couldn’t contain all of His precious love and it just spilled over. Suddenly, the years of labor and heartache vanished and all I could feel was His beautiful blessings. And that is the most AMAZING feeling in the world. When you reach the top of that great high mountain you’ve been climbing for so long, and He blesses you to stand and look at all that He’s brought you through and then, He gives you a little glimpse of where you’re going from here.

I know the road ahead of me won’t be easy. There’s still so much I have to face and learn to conquer through my Lord, but I know He will be with me every step of the way. I feel so unworthy of all of this and so very thankful!!!

Maybe I’ll be able to write more when my tears slow down and my feet hit the floor again. But right now all I can tell you is that my God is so absolutely wonderful to me. He is a wonderful paymaster!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Story

One of the greatest things I have discovered, in my new journey of being an author (I just love that word), is that everyone has a story to tell, and hopes and dreams to explore. I love that my books and this blog have opened the hearts of many to share their stories, hopes and dreams with me. I have also realized through hearing their stories that we are all alike. We all have heartaches, broken dreams, and places in our lives where our faith was tested and renewed. We have all overcome adversity and have a beautiful recounting of what God done just for us.

All of the stories of amazement and wonder reflect God’s love and mercy. We are God’s witnesses. We tell of the hope inside of us. We tell of the hardships we have encountered and overcome through God. We tell of the blessings He pours upon us daily. We tell of the wonders of His mighty hand. We tell of the feelings of our hearts. We tell of the mysteries of unexplained phenomenal occurrences orchestrated by God. We tell how we were blind, but now we see.

Isaiah 43:10-12

King James Version (KJV)

10Ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me.
11I, even I, am the LORD; and beside me there is no saviour.

12I have declared, and have saved, and I have shewed, when there was no strange god among you: therefore ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, that I am God.

And when we tell our personal stories it reflects the greatest story ever written or told; the story of how God sent His only begotten Son into this cruel world to die just for us. I love knowing that my Saviour gave His life freely for me and my sins because His love for me was far greater than anything earthly. They didn’t drag Him to the cross, with Him fighting and cursing them, but He went willingly. And I believe that is how we should serve Him. We should be willing to do and suffer according to His will for us and our lives. As I have learned with my own live, God’s plans for us far exceed any expectations we might have.

If we’re not careful we will make an utter and complete mess of our lives. For one thing, the flesh is never content. It is always looking for something to satisfy it, yet there is nothing. It wants glory, honor and praise. It wants to be recognized and esteemed higher than God, when you really think about it.

But there is a little part, underneath it all, that is so thankful for all of the beautiful blessings God bestows upon me. I’m so thankful that He works with me, sculpting and shaping me into the person he wants me to be. I’m so thankful that God loves me enough to mold me for His glory and honor. I’m so thankful that when He saved me He filled my heart with His amazing love.

He has blessed my life so abundantly! There are times when it hits me and all I can do is cry. My books that I have labored and cried over for seven years are going to be published and available very soon. I’m going to hold them in my hands and know I am holding a miracle (to me anyway). I call them a miracle because I know they are blessed and created by the hands of God. I know that He held my hands and guided me each step of the way. I know that I did everything possible to get them published and still couldn’t make it happen. I know that He heard my prayers in the deep recesses of the night and answered them according to His will for me and my life. These books have changed my life. Not only what is written inside, but what transpired during the process.

I also know that none of this would be possible without my God. He provided it all. I can’t take the praise and glory everyone wants to give me. I am nothing, but my Lord is everything.

I want to tell everyone who will listen what my Lord has done for me. All of my blessings come from Him. He holds my next breathe in hands and guides me along my journey. He has proven His love for me time and time again. He has shown me about faith and taught me how to TRUST Him. He is the holder of my life and the possessor of my soul.

Of all of the words created, none truly exemplifies His GREATNESS!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

You Deserve More

A few hours ago I was lying around feeling blue and I wasn’t even really sure why. My body ached and I just generally felt bad. For a few minutes I talked myself into lying around and then even proceeded to justify my actions.

I have found that I will believe whatever I tell myself. I convinced myself I deserved to snooze this morning when the alarm clock went off. I started right then making excuses for myself. And I have found I can be very convincing, especially in the wee hours of the morning. It doesn’t take much to make me forego my morning exercise routine for an extra hour of sleep. However, what I don’t mention is that when I fail to exercise I ache that day and my mood plummets. Then I just want to crawl in the bed and pull the covers over my head. I convince myself that I’m unwell and then before you know it, I’m not able to do anything the rest of the day or possibly the remainder of the week. Then I get behind on my work and feel overwhelmed, and the cycle continues. Until, I decide to change it and ask God to give me the strength and knowledge to be able to.

However, when I get up as soon as the alarm goes off and make myself exercise, without discussing it, I start feeling better just a few minutes into the routine. By the time I’m finished, my problems don’t seem as challenging and my life doesn’t seem so bleak. My pain diminishes and I feel wonderful, ready to face my day. I can see my blessings so much clearer and even look forward to my chores and the accomplishments they bring. We all need goals and accomplishments, both little and small, in our daily lives! Sometimes we have to do things that are just for us.

Every decision we make has an impact on some part of our lives and the lives around us. When I feel bad it affects my whole family. When I’m in a bad mood it disturbs my family and they usually mimic my behavior. When I think negative and walk around believing my life is like a half empty glass with a hole in the bottom of it, then that is exactly what I get in return; negative feelings and negative energy.

However, when I only allow myself to believe positive thoughts and actually train myself to look for those positives and seek them out, then everything about my life is better. I smile at my husband and kids and it has the boomerang effect.

It’s the same way with going to church and serving God. If you listen to that voice inside your head that tells you to stay home, or keep your mouth shut and not do the things He bids you to do, then you get in bad shape after a while. The devil will always find us a million excuses why we shouldn’t obey the Lord. In my experience, I have found the best thing to do is ignore him. Don’t even discuss it with him. He doesn’t tell you there is a day of reckoning after awhile, when you have to pay for all that you owe the Lord.

We can’t make bad choices day after day, week after week and expect our lives to get better. When we are out of fellowship with the Lord and the church, then nothing in our lives will go right.

There is no antidote for a Godly sorrow. Just like there is no price to measure up to His beautiful blessings. God controls it all. Just because we attempt to pray to Him doesn’t mean He hears us or that He will answer us. He may ignore us as we have ignored Him.

I have been on both sides, the receiving end of His blessings and the wrath of his punishment for my disobedience and I can tell you, the latter is very painful. It’s a horrible feeling to cry out in the depth of misery and be ignored. He can be a terrible God when He pours out His wrath. However, He is a wonderful paymaster for those who serve him willingly and He expects so little of us when you think about it.  

He wants us to turn our problems over to Him. He wants to carry them for us and help us. I believe He loves to bless His children. He wants us to be happy. He wants us to be prosperous in our journey. He wants us to shine our light and tell of the hope in us. He wants people to know by our lives that we belong to Him. He wants us to be able overcome that negative voice in our heads with faith and thankfulness, through Him.

He wants us to understand that if we resist the devil he will flee from us. However, if we have a conversation with him, nine times out of ten he wins. His thoughts are always the worst case scenario. His arguments are always filled with hopeless and bitterness. He is the one who gives us the feelings of fear and being overwhelmed. When we look to God we realize things are never as bad as they once seemed. In fact, they are most often times way better than we expect or even imagine.

Whenever life has you down, instead of pulling the covers over your head and giving into the temptation of surrender, realize and know you deserve more. Claim your happiness and push yourself to new limits. You will never know what you are capable of until you’re faced with the challenges.

Trials and tribulations are not meant to break us, they are used to strengthens us and mold us; therefore, making us a viable and willing vessel for God.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Work in Progress

For the first time, since I started the ritual of writing a blog every week, I don’t want to write. I’m tired, exhausted really and I just want to go to bed. This week has been demanding and so exciting. It would be so easy for me to just skip it and go crawl in my bed and snuggle under the covers or sit and stare at the beautiful draft of my book. While I can find a million excuses for not writing it this week, I’m so thankful that there is an even BIGGER reason to write it.

I started this blog as a way to praise my Lord for all of the ways He blesses my life. And the very things that are exhausting me are wonderful blessings, so worthy of praise. I realize I don’t have to write a lot, a few words would be sufficient if that’s what God puts on my heart.

This week I have gotten to preview both of my book covers and, today, I actually got to see the illustrations, with the words and in book form for Zippy and the Stripes of Courage. I’m not sure that I can ever conjure up the words to describe that amazing feeling. Imagine writing a book, being so discouraged that you even give up on it and then God comes through and makes it all happen—making it even more beautiful than you ever imagined it could be. The joy and thankfulness just bubble up inside of me and spills over. I read it to my kids and to see their smiles and hear their laughter, and even see them sympathize with Zippy was incredible to say the least. They have grown up hearing Zippy stories and have always wanted to see him and to be able to share that moment with them was amazing.

When I think about how we have all sacrificed so I could follow my heart and dreams, it makes everything so much more special. We’ve not went on vacations or got to do very many fun things, due the fact that I either didn’t work or only worked part time. My kids have had to make sacrifices in some ways and they have done so without complaining. We used to sit at the dinner table and dream (and still do). They would always say, when Momma sells her book we will do this or that. And then when you have a child look at you and say, dreams do come true don’t they Momma? Well, that’s just priceless.

It shows me that we are all just a work in progress. We all have dreams and obstacles standing in the way of those dreams. It’s up to us if we give up or keep trying until we achieve our goals. God wants us to do everything possible in order to accomplish our dreams and leave the impossible to Him. With God there is no impossible. He can make things happen for us if we only believe.

And every time we overcome one thing there is another one standing in our way. But I’m so thankful my God is a wonderful strength in times of trouble and suffering. And the rewards are far greater than any troubles or heartaches we might endure. God is a wonderful paymaster!!

He has blessed me with so much more than I expected or deserve! He has pushed me to the end of my strength and then showed me He is my strength. He pushes me outside of my comfort zone to show me what I am capable of through Him. He continues to allow obstacles to be in my way so that He may prove His unyielding love to me. With every fear I conquer and every trial I endure and overcome, He shows me the depth of my faith and enormity of His love. He shows me I have nothing to fear because He is my protector—He is my God.

And even when I mess up and do things wrong, He can take my errors and turn them into blessings. He has showed me that when it really matters, He won’t allow me to fail. He can take the smallest there is and make it great, and make us all look good if we only adhere to that small still voice, beckoning us to live our lives for Him.

He’s the best thing that ever happened to me! And I look so forward to the next step of my journey with Him.

Author shares message through Zippy the zebra