Wednesday, November 30, 2016

need a buddy?

"Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another." 1 John 4:11

Sometimes life is tough, scary or lonely. As hard as it is for adults, it's even worse for children. Concerned about the sad faces on students left out of activities on the playground, our P.E. department discovered a wonderful solution... buddy benches. 
Sitting on these benches signal they want to talk, walk or play with others.  And it's working.  Maybe buddy benches should be placed all over the country for big and small children.

Sometimes we just need a little nudge in life. Father, open our eyes and heart to the needs of others. 

What a friend we have in Jesus, and what a friend we have in each other.

we are loved and chosen by God,

Monday, November 28, 2016

a Mighty Word ~ healer

"He will have no fear of bad news, his heart is steadfast, trusting in the LORD." Psalm 112:7
All around family and friends are struggling with health issues. Front and center on my CHRISTmas tree i've placed an important, timely reminder.  God is our Healer. He who spoke a world into existence can do anything.  

I'm sitting in front of my CHRISTmas tree every night and thanking God for what He has already done and for what He is going to do.  Want to come sit with me?

we are loved and chosen by God,

a recount is needed

"give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus." 1 Thessalonians 5:18

Last week i requested a recount... a recount of our blessings.  Usually when asked to share our blessings, we rattle off the obvious --  family, friends, God, Jesus, a home, heat, delicious food, etc.  The good ones are easy to name, but what about the painful ones?

Around our Thanksgiving table this year i placed a candy cane. No, i didn't mix up the seasons because it wasn't your ordinary candy cane.  It was a Sour Patch Kids candy cane.  Smacking their lips, the children eagerly shared how the candy is different when i asked. At first it's sour, then sweet... just like some of our blessings. 

For me, several sour blessings pop to mind.  A dream career shattered by harsh undue abuse, fear and intimation, left me broken and in deep grief. But, in time the sweetness and comfort of  an unshakable  relationship with Jesus rose and drew me into a sharing ministry of the Salt Shakers.  Another bitter blessing is the loss of my Mother.  But, it turned into unexpected, sweet joy as i uncovered a new passion, to live daily in a way to honor her.  Then there was the scary blessing of a brain tumor.  But, how comforting and sweet the blessing of peace in accepting whatever happens it will be okay. My life line now, "I got up today so it's a good day; but the day i don't get up, it's going to be even a better day! Thanks to Jesus!"

Why don't you take a moment to recount your blessings, by including the hard ones. God's promises to us are true, including the one of working all things to the good to those who love Him.  As a child of God let's also share with others our sour blessings now turned sweet. It may encourage someone to hold on and trust God's perfect time and way.  There is sweetness in store for them too.  Keep looking up, there is more to our story; only He knows the ending.  But this i know, we can rest assure it will be a sweet one.

we are loved and chosen by God,

Thursday, November 24, 2016

save room for Him

"... be filled with the Spirit." Ephesians 5:18

Happy Thanksgiving!  May your plates overflow with turkey, dressing, cream potatoes, green beans, yams, all the other delicious dishes of the day. And after the pumpkin pie, save some room for Him.  He's the perfect end to any celebration!  Actually, He's the perfect addition at the beginning and middle too!

we are loved and chosen by God,

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

my imperfect Thanksgiving table

"Give thanks to the Lord, for His is good. His love endures forever." Psalm 136:1

My Thanksgiving table dilemma... 12 to eat, BUT only 8 seats.  The simple solution, use 2 tables.  BUT how could i without making some feel second class or like leftovers? After brooding a few days, a friend suggested, "extend your table". BUT with no natural extensions, creativity was necessary.  My husband cut, glued and screwed pieces of plywood to one of his old work tables, then slid slats underneath it.  Whoa-la! a 7 ft. square table, perfect for seating 12. 
BUT, i had no tablecloth wide enough to cover up the homemade, pieced-together table. BUT with several layers of cloths, i finally covered up the imperfect top. Excited and now in the mood, i proceeded to set the table, 12 matching plates -- BUT then that was it! The hodge-podge table display included 11 matching glasses and another; silverware from 2 patterns; 8 chairs and 2 sets of different chairs.  Oddly, it reminded me of my guests.

Underneath our smiles, we sometimes mask hurt, pain and disappointments we've endured.  YET, thanks to God, we are covered in His love and healing occurs.   We are individuals with different ideas, goals and wants. YET, we are united as family; and together we are like a painted masterpiece by the Creator... set in this world to let His light shine through our various gifts and talents so others may taste and see the LORD is good.

Imperfect table, imperfect people. YET, with a perfect God we are covered in His grace and mercy and love.  We truly have an abundance to be thankful for!  Thank You, Father!

we are loved and chosen by God,

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

an important follow up and Correction...

Last week i shared a service opportunity, Holiday Mail for Heroes, to reach out and embrace our military during the holidays.  A friend informed me yesterday that program is discontinued, BUT take heart!  She also shared with me the local Red Cross will still deliver cards to the military service people.  Please see her information below:

Just to let you know that I checked in to this program for my school. This national program has been discontinued but the local Red Cross will still deliver cards to the military service people.

Cards would need to be sent to: American Red Cross of the Upstate, 940 Grove Rd., Greenville, SC 29605

They need to be delivered to that office by Dec. 9th
Thank you, Denise, for checking, doing, sharing and informing!  Let's start spreading the holiday cheer!
we are loved and chosen by God, 

do you have a book?

"Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name." Psalm 100:4
Like these students, may your book be filled with thanks to God for His goodness.  If we count our blessings instead of our disappoints, how much more of His Peace will also be ours.

we are loved and chosen by God,

Monday, November 21, 2016

broken? give thanks, you're covered

"Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed...
Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised." Romans 4:18, 20-21

Shattered dreams, we've all had them. And no matter how we finagle or struggle to fit the pieces back together like we want, it usually doesn't happen. Broken dreams come in many shapes and sizes, sometimes they occur rarely and sometimes in clusters, sometimes we sense it and sometimes we are blindsided. However it happens, it still hurts and can feel more like a feverish nightmare than just a broken dream. Are you facing any brokenness today?

job uncertainty
financial turbulence
torn relationships
challenging children
aging parents
insensitive spouse
demanding leader
false accusations
physical limitations
emotional stress
worldly pressure

Whatever is going on... we can still be thankful. In faith, we can trust God will see us through each hardship and trial. We only have to look back and see God's continuous fingerprints on our lives to remember what He has already done for us. Our strength and peace will be restored knowing He will continue to sustain us.

As God picks up all the pieces of our broken dreams and rearranges them, let's keep believing and knowing He has the power and desire to bring goodness into our lives.

God works all things to the good to those who love Him.
I am thankful for You, Jesus
we are loved and chosen by God,

Friday, November 18, 2016

it's in the mail!

"Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people..." Galatians 6:10

Another day closer to Thanksgiving and another day of thanks.  Today my heart's moved by a child's drawing and a comment read.  While many of us are blessed to live close to loved ones, some are not.
(I am thankful for the Army)

For teachers interested in stirring up compassion, here's an idea.  Have students write holiday cards to soldiers recovering in military hospitals, service members stationed throughout the States or abroad, veterans and their families.  The Red Cross and Pitney Bowes sponsor a special program, "Holiday Mail for Heroes", and distribute the holiday cards.  Cards should be addressed to:
Holiday Mail for Heroes
PO Box 5456
Capitol Heights, MD

Thank you, for giving and for serving.

we are loved and chosen by God,

Thursday, November 17, 2016

it's not too early...

"Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you..." 3 John 1:2

Thanksgiving is a week away, but it's never too early to give thanks.  Today i'm thanking God for you, my sisters and brothers in Christ.  You encourage, inspire, strengthen and delight me.  I love doing life with you!

we are loved and chosen by God,

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

no where to hide

"The Lord watches over you— the Lord is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night." Psalm 121:5-6

Did you see it?  As promised by all reports, the supermoon was full, big and beautiful.  Not a tree or cloud could hide it long from our eyes.  I know of something else unable to hide... you and me.
God sees our every move. But, unlike the moon it isn't because of our size we are unable to hide. God sees us because of the size of His heart and His enormous love for us.  No matter where we go, what we do, His loving, watchful eyes follow. 
Thank You, Father, for your unfailing, unconditional love.  Because of Your watch, i smile today and rejoice in hope for tomorrow.

we are loved and chosen by God,

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

a Mighty Word ~ everyday

"Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness." Lamentations 3:22-23

Whether we see it or not, each season has its own beauty.  If you don't like the one you're in, hold on.  A different one is around the corner.
The One who is faithful has you covered with His love in all seasons.

we are loved and chosen by God,

Monday, November 14, 2016

with this step....

"He will not let your foot slip -- He who watches over you will not slumber... The LORD will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore."  Psalm 121:3, 8
We might get bruised, scrapped or hurt, but we will be fine.  Because no matter what direction we are headed or with whom, God is with us.

we are loved and chosen by God,

Friday, November 11, 2016

as freedom rings

"The Lord your God Himself will fight for you." Deuteronomy 3:22

It's one of my favorite programs at school... the Veteran's Day Program. The respect, honor and dedication exhibited on this day is moving. From the youngest to the oldest, a sense of gratefulness fills the air as we reflect on the continuous courage, strength and sacrifice displayed to maintain our freedom.

As we salute the veterans and soldiers who serve, i also extend my hands in thanks to their families... spouse, children, parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins. Having now personally experienced military life through my daughter's marriage, i have a new understanding and appreciation for the entire family. The soldier's family serves an important role of support. Together, they exemplify a unit of love and strength amid ongoing changes and trials. To conquer battles in the field and at home, loyalty, dedication, encouragement, trust, sacrifice and integrity are necessary elements for the soldier, as well as, his/her family.

As believers, we are all military family members. On the heavenly battlefield, our Father and Mighty Defender, sealed our freedom in Christ. ALL our sins were forgiven through Jesus' sacrifice on the cross. And as a member of His family, we should celebrate this victory daily by living for Him boldly in Truth, love and peace.

"May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ." Romans 15:5-6
Thank you, Veterans, those currently serving in our Armed Forces and all your family members. May God bless all your days.

friend, we are loved and chosen by God,

Thursday, November 10, 2016

a Mighty Word ~ united

"Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others." Philippians 2:1-4

We've seen and heard a lot the past 24 hours... and thankfully a lot centers around healing. I was encouraged by the parties' post-election speeches. And i like the step taken by the Clinton's to wear purple, a mixture of blue-red, signifying unity.  YET, better than that, purple is the color of royalty, reminding me Jesus is our True, One King. He needs to precede everything and everyone. 

We have an amazing God who can accomplish anything through willing servants.

United we stand, divided we fall,
But without God we have no hope at all.

we are loved and chosen by God, 

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

what difference does it make?

"...Whoever refreshes others, will be refreshed." Proverbs 11:25

With a day off, i reluctantly stared at a to-do list, 11 lines long.  Covered in a cloud of doldrums, i wasn't making much progress. I had voted, but satisfaction or joy of the event eluded me.  Did it accomplish anything, did it even make a difference?  Deep in thought and tackling item #3, my heart got yanked. 
Walking into a local store, the Shoebox project display for Samaritan's Purse was being set up; it caught my attention. This activity wasn't part of my plan, but His.  It instantly lifted my spirits and opened my eyes anew. Here before me was an opportunity to make a definite difference.  Excited, i tossed my list, shopped for my girl, packed the box and delivered it back to the store. Then refreshed and revived, i called it a day and went home feeling content.

Father, thank You for lifting my spirits and redirecting my heart. Simple acts of kindness are needed and appreciated daily.  They are before us every day, when we look around with Your eyes. One by one, together we will make a difference in our world.

we are loved and chosen by God,

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

a Mighty Word ~ trust

"The Lord reigns forever;
    He has established His throne for judgment.

  He rules the world in righteousness
    and judges the peoples with equity. 

The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed,
    a stronghold in times of trouble.
Those who know Your name trust in You,

     for You, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek You." Psalm 9:7-10

 Pray, vote and trust God.

Whatever the outcome, keep looking to God.  Even if  "the system" is not reliable, our God is.

The One on the Almighty throne can't not be shaken.  Our Savior and King survives any turmoil and disaster and saves all who comes to Him.
He/She will have no fear of bad news; his/her heart is steadfast, trusting in the LORD. 

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding...

And He will be your Peace.

we are loved and chosen by God,

Monday, November 7, 2016

Election Eve

"...if My people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land."2 Chronicles 7:14

Election Eve... finally.

It has been a grueling, bitter battle. Houses, families, friends, coworkers hotly divided on issues and candidates.  Who is right? In reading and listening to the many comments and remarks, one thing is clear, people are passionate about their beliefs.  Our individual fabric is woven and colored by the events and emotions we have personally experienced.  And naturally we side with those whose viewpoints most match and affect us... that's just human nature.  
Tomorrow we will not all vote for the same person.  Yet, i'm at peace; because in the grand scheme of things, i trust God has the final Word. One way or the other, with blessings or discipline, we will witness His Hand on our land.  It's important for us to stay united as we pray to God for truth, obedience and discernment as we pursue His wisdom and guidance. We also need to pray for our leaders to seek God and not to be like a god. Our choices are imperfect people; but may our prayers deliver us a leader with a teachable, listening heart and spirit that honors God.

Pray with all your heart, and vote. Whatever happens on Tuesday (or any day), keep looking up. Let's remember Who is still holding the world firmly in His Grip and give thanks.  God's Will will be done.

we are loved and chosen by God,

Friday, November 4, 2016

a Mighty Word ~ PEACE

"The LORD turn His face toward you and give you peace." Numbers 6:26

What a week.  Monday kicked off with Halloween, and our feet never landed back on the ground.  The highs and lows of the week would make the world's tallest roller coaster appear pure child's play.  But here we are; we made it to Friday.
May you find stillness and peace this weekend with God.

we are loved and chosen by God,

Thursday, November 3, 2016

watch out!

"He sent forth His word and healed them... Let them give thanks to the LORD for His unfailing love." Psalm 107:20,21

A put down...
An insult...
A stab...
A scolding...
A threat...
A questioning...
Next time someone's remarks or actions threaten to burst your bubble or heart...
Remember, Whose you are and what He says about you.  God doesn't love us because we are good; He loves us because we are His, and that can be enough.  Listen to Him. Let His holy Truth cover and soothe all hurts.

Thank You, Father.

we are loved and chosen by God,

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

over the moon...

Jesus said...
"And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." Matthew 28:20

On days when i feel like my head is on backwards, i am so thankful God is still with me.  Because with Him, i know i can get through and over what ever hurdles are ahead.

He loves us to the moon and beyond!!

Thank You, Father!

we are loved and chosen by God,

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

a race to LOVE

Jesus said...
"'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'" Luke 10:27

Senior year of college... Star runner and Team Leader of  the Cross-Country & Track team... unable to compete all year due to a serious injury... finally cleared to run the last race of the season... excited and mentally ready to finish strong. And, then...

Above is a glimpse into the preparation and mindset of Evie Tate this past weekend.  As she rounded the curve, 20 yards from the finish line, running strong, she encountered a situation that halted her - momentarily.  Another runner was down.  Stopping to check on the runner, she quickly accessed the girl had (in runners' term) "hit the wall". 

Without hesitation, Evie attempted to carry her to the finish line.  Still recuperating from her own injury and with the weight of the fallen runner, she struggled. Fortunately, another runner joined her and together the three crossed the finish line. Three runners from three different colleges on the  same field competing for the same prize, yet locked arm-in-arm, and united in a greater cause -- one of human compassion, respect and love. No records broken, no medals earned, but one Father honored and glorified by His children.  It's the good Samaritan story, with a modern day twist: loving our fellow neighbor/competitor as ourselves.  I think many could prosper from this story, don't you?

 Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Jesus told him, Go and do likewise.”
Luke 10:36-37

 God's blessings to you, Evie Tate. May your servant's heart inspire others.  You  certainly inspire me and have from the day i met you in elementary school.  Thank you.

"And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith." Hebrews 12:1-2 

The race is on.  Let's keep our eyes on the One who lights the course we need to take. By doing so, we can help bring others to Him.

we are loved and chosen by God,