Wednesday, November 22, 2017

it takes all kinds

"Sing and make music in your heart to the LORD, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ." Ephesians 5:20
Turkeys come is all shapes and sizes... so do our blessings from God.
Thank You, Father, for them all.

we are loved and chosen by God,

may we live like we believe it,
veneal

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

beyond the feathers

"Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

It's not hard remembering this is Thanksgiving week.  Everywhere i look at school, i am surrounded by turkeys. I have probably heated up at least 93 turkeys at school this week... through the laminator, that is.  Teachers use this time to encourage students  to share and remember why they are thankful.
While our thankful lists may vary, the foundation of our grateful hearts spring from the same Root, Jesus Christ.  His blessings flow freely and abundantly to all His children...


unconditional love
forgiveness
healing
eternal salvation
peace
discernment
joy



But His Word tells us to give thanks in all circumstances.  Do you think He means for us to give thanks beyond the feathers... beyond the obvious... beyond the good times?  I believe He can produce good in all circumstances.
Father, Thank You too for times of  --
stupidity... as i learned the immense power of words and patience
accidents... as i learned to trust You at all times 
mistakes... as i learned You work all things to the good
anger... as i learned the importance of forgiveness
sickness... as i learned the joy of celebrating the moment
pride... as i learn humbleness


Thank You for these times, as they build my relationship with You.  I lean on You for strength, comfort and guidance.  Gratefully, i experience Your unconditional love for me.  How thankful i am to know you are always there for me and with me.  Thank You, Father. 

It's been a turkey of a week... and i am thankful for it.

we are loved and chosen by God,

may we live like we believe it,
veneal

Monday, November 20, 2017

a Mighty Word ~ change

"Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name." Psalm 100:4

Happy Thanksgiving Week, Friends!

For most of us, this week brings a welcome CHANGE, so it seems most appropriate for that to be our Weekly Word to Live By. This week typically kicks off the traditional feast season followed closely by Christmas decorating and shopping, all of which create change in our routines.  

Maybe we have a few extra days off from work or perhaps the sweet pleasure of extra time with friends and family.  These kinds of change are welcome.  

But for those dealing with a change in health or a change in wealth, or perhaps even a change in the number of family members who will be present at our Thanksgiving table, CHANGE may be difficult to accept.
Whatever change you are facing, may you know without a doubt that the God of Hope will help you cope. 

Please post your CHANGE challenge or celebration on the Weekly Words to Live By  Facebook page  (https://www.facebook.com/weeklywordstoliveby/) and find encouragement in the CHANGE chapter (pages 49-54) of Words to Live By. 

Most of all, take a few minutes to thank the Lord for His love which does not change. 

we are loved and chosen by God,
may we live like we believe it,
veneal

Friday, November 17, 2017

the ultimate hovercraft

"and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters." Genesis 1:2

"...hide me in the shadow of your wings as you hover over me." Psalm 17:8 (The Living Bible)



Fifth graders at our school experienced a unique opportunity this week.  Through a special grant, they built, rode and drove hovercrafts.  It was a real life-like work environment.  Ultimately, the completion and success of the project rested on the students' team work ability.


It was an exciting venture for everyone.  The building was fun, but the ride was best. Watching them hovering over the floor was like watching magic happen, with some magic flowing smoother, faster than others.


Father, You are the Creator of everything.  Even the notion of hovering first came from You. In the stillness of the night or the demands of the day, You hover over us... never leaving, never faltering, never stalling.  With us and over us, You protect, love, guide and care for our every need.  Thank You, Father.  The hum of Your Presence is the strength of my heart.
we are loved and chosen by God,
may we live like we believe it,
veneal

Thursday, November 16, 2017

a Mighty Word ~ sweet

I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness." Jeremiah 31:3
There is nothing sweeter than the love of God for His children... nothing.

Taste and see that the LORD is good!

we are loved and chosen by God,
may we live like we believe it,
veneal

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

they are watching you...

"In everything set them an example by doing what is good." Titus 2:7

Teachers pack a POWERFUL punch. Proof is found abundantly in and out of the classroom.  During one elementary summer break, my daughter was playing school.  I caught her "yelling" directions at her students. Later when i asked her why, she explained that was how Ms. Shoutout, her favorite teacher, did it.   
Her genuine response still swirls around in my head, reflecting the fact, teachers are dazzling, mesmerizing, captivating... their sphere of influence tremendous.  The children are watching... watching and learning from everything we say and do.  This lesson of old stirs up a question i ask myself everyday, "from God's eyes, how am i looking?"

Father, help me stay aware of my tongue and action.  May i feel Your presence beside me and within me as i interact with others, in the fishbowl-of-life. I pray to not cause them to stumble or stray, but instead guide them in looking up where our truest help and direction comes... You.

we are loved and chosen by God,
may we live like we believe it,
veneal

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

this road goes where?

"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm youplans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11

At times the path in our life appears to be in utter shambles with continuous dead-ends, twists, mountains, valleys...

But, even when we can't see it, we must believe this...
God is in control, and He knows exactly what He is doing and where He's going with us.

His plans are good and will not be thwarted.

Thank You, Father.  Where you lead, i will go.

we are loved and chosen by God,
may we live like we believe it,
veneal

Monday, November 13, 2017

a Mighty Word ~ rejoice

"Be glad, O people of Zion, rejoice in the LORD your God, for he has given you the autumn rains in righteousness. He sends you abundant showers....I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten."  Joel 2: 23, 25
The first devotion for this week's "Word to Live By"  -- REJOICE -- really encourages my heart.

God delights in restoring and replenishing.  This applies to possessions and relationships.  Remember Job?  Without wrongdoing or bad choices, he lost everything simply because Satan desired to test him.  Yet afterward, "The Lord made him prosperous again and gave him twice as much as he had before....The Lord blessed the latter part of Job's life more than the first" (Job 42: 10,12).

Remember Joseph?  His brothers sold him into slavery, costing him his youth and forcing him into a foreign culture and many trials.  Years later, his loss turned to gain as he earned the Pharaoh's trust and was put in charge of all Egypt.  When his brothers came searching for food to stave off the famine of their homeland, Joseph was in a position to help -- and forgive.  Instead of being bitter, he rejoiced that God honed a horrifying ordeal into glorifying generosity.  To the brothers who betrayed him, he said: "You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good..." (Genesis 50:20).

What difficulty, challenge, or trial are you facing that you need to trust God to turn into good?  Rejoice, for He is still in the business of restoring and replenishing.

This week let's rejoice as we watch for ways our Heavenly Father restores and replenishes that which was "taken" from us--whether peace of mind, possessions, comfort, health, or hope.  He will send abundant showers.  He will repay us for the years the locusts have eaten.  He will turn what seemed intended to harm us into good. Rejoice!

For more ways to activate the word REJOICE in your life, join my friends Linda and Dalene on their Weekly Words to Live By Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/weeklywordstoliveby/ or in their Words to Live By book (pages 43-48).  

we are loved and chosen by God,
may we live like we believe it,
veneal

Friday, November 10, 2017

thank you for your service

Jesus said...
"Greater love has no one that this, that he lay down his life for his friends." John 15:12-13

Not all sayings are true, but i know two that are. Many hands make light the work, and it takes an army to keep our country safe.  Today, Veteran's Day, we stop to remember and give thanks to the many fine soldiers who have sacrificed their time, and some even their life to protect us and our country.

What a joy to be involved in one of many schools recognizing the importance of our Veterans. Honor, respect and courage are alive and well in the United States.  What wonderful mentors for each and every one of us.




Father, Thank You for our soldiers. We humbly give thanks for having these special warriors in our schools today, whether in spirit or body. 









They represent true citizenship, commitment, unity and love for one another at its best. May Your grace and goodness always be with them.  Bless them and their families... as they have and continue to bless and sustain us and our freedom. 

we are loved and chosen by God,
may we live like we believe it,
veneal

Thursday, November 9, 2017

old is gold

"Gray hair is a crown of splendor; it is attained in the way of righteousness." Proverbs 16:31


Today our school is celebrating being added to the National Register of Historical Places.  Through ongoing construction, add-ons, adjustments and re-dos over the years, we continue to effectively fulfill our mission of inspiring and equipping students for their future. Since 1929 Pine Street Elementary has been a golden educational foundation for many students.  Blessed with dedicated and determined teachers, administration and support staff, i have no doubt the legacy will continue.  We may be old, but we certainly are not finished with our task.

Aging... how do you feel about it?  It may come at a price (achy bones, forgetfulness, poor eyes, etc.), but it is not all bad.  His Word reminds us, attaining it can also come with honor.

Hmmm... i like the way that sounds.  Old is gold.  I may be old, but my work is not finished yet.  Father, please keep constructing and adjusting me to accomplish Your Will until You say i'm done.

we are loved and chosen by God,
may we live like we believe it,
veneal

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

I've a story to share...

"Praise the Lord. Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever." Psalm 106:1
With so much happening, an important anniversary in my life nearly slipped by unnoticed.  Six years ago yesterday, i was diagnosed with a brain tumor. As God would have it, a friend reminded me of the impact my ordeal had on her. I cried as i remembered, recounting the faithfulness of a God, we sometimes dismiss as distant, uncaring or slack in answering our needs.  I cried knowing He has saved me not just once (on the cross) but numerous times.  I cried realizing God's ability to use all things to the good, whether for us, for friends and family, for complete strangers or for His glory.  Of all the people i want to honor, God is most deserving for the top spot in my heart.

For those who don't know my story, here a recap.

As God would have it, while walking my dogs, i took a nasty fall.  A trip to the emergency room confirmed i had a concussion, but also revealed i had a rare brain tumor.  As God would have it, the physicians at both local hospitals admitted they were not the best choice for treatment. As God would have it, the local neurosurgeon mentioned a neurosurgeon in our state, Dr. Vandergrift, was best qualified for cases like mine. As God would have it, after being whisked to MUSC in Charleston for emergency surgery, He placed me in the capable hands of none-other than, Dr. Vandergrift, a godly, humble man. Dr. V. led a talented team through 3 critical surgeries on me during the next two weeks. As God would have it, one of my nurses was a former member of my home church.  As God would have it, i returned home just in time to celebrate Thanksgiving and in time healed enough to return to work. As God would have it, i have not suffered from any long-term side effects and i am truly a living miracle. My story could have ended differently and that would have been okay.  But as God would have it, He is not finished with me yet... i have a story of wonder and thankfulness, a story to share, a story to remind others His faithfulness is up-close and personal to all!

I don't remember all the details from 6 years ago, but i do remember some significant points.  Things like, the unending comfort and support of loved ones by my side.  The surprising visit of a cousin and friend's son, triggering an awareness i might die. A surgeon discussing in length the seriousness and risk of my condition and surgery. But what i recall most vividly is the complete inner peace. "Peace at a time like that?" you might ask.  Yes -- very strange because i love and cherish my family and friends tremendously.  During these days of questionable health, i couldn't grasp how i felt so peaceful. Having no panic or fear of my outcome, i was prepared to accept whatever fate God deemed right.  There can only be one answer for such indescribable peace... i was witnessing and living God's love, mercy and grace, up close and personal.  It's a peace that can only be contributed to a relationship, dependence and faith in God.   

So, it's a busy week of remembering for me; and oh! what a perfect prelude for our Thanksgiving season. As God would have it, we all have an abundance to be thankful for daily. 
Thank You, God, for miracles everyday... large and small.

What's your story?  Someone needs to hear it.  Spread the Good News! And celebrate the moments, because actually that is all we have... and that is okay.

friend, we are love and chosen by God,
Thank Him today,
veneal

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

how will you vote?

"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. Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God." Romans 515:5-7
Father, as we prepare to cast our votes, may we seek Your guidance first.  Help us overcome any feelings of greed, prejudice, selfishness or other that might prohibit us for making godly decisions.   We pray that nothing separates us in first being servants for You.  Because when all is said and done on earth, You are still on the throne and the One who reigns.  And that is a victory we can all celebrate everyday!

we are loved and chosen by God,
may we live like we believe it,
veneal

Monday, November 6, 2017

a Mighty Word ~ appreciate

"Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, 'children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.' Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life." Philippians 2:14-16

This week's "Word to Live By" is APPRECIATE.  For some, that's an easy one to apply.  We can appreciate the extra hour of sleep (thanks to Daylight Savings Time), the beauty of fall leaves displaying their rich hues,  and on a deeper level, the sacrifice of veterans who served our country to secure our freedoms. 

Basically, applying the word "appreciate" means living in a constant attitude of gratitude, regardless of circumstances.

Yet, that's not always easy.  There may be times we feel others do not appreciate our efforts on their behalf, or situations challenge us to concentrate on what IS going well or working right rather than what isn't.  Still, God's Word reminds us to "Do everything without  complaining or arguing", so we might as well replace those negative tendencies with positive appreciation! 

No doubt, our perceptions will change as we APPRECIATE all that we have, including difficulties which remind us to depend upon God's power and trust in His sovereignty.

This week, please join me and my friends Linda and Dalene on their "Weekly Words to Live By" Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/weeklywordstoliveby/ (and/or in their book Words to Live By, pages 37-42) as we activate the word APPRECIATE in our daily lives.

I hope you know how much i appreciate you!

we are loved and chosen by God,
may we live like we believe it!
veneal

Friday, November 3, 2017

a Mighty Word ~ reflect

"For God, who said, 'Let light shine out of darkness,' made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ." 2 Corinthians 4:6
When His light shines through us, we reflect His love and the whole world glows.

we are loved and chosen by God,
may we live like we believe it,
veneal

Thursday, November 2, 2017

no costume needed

"Stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain." 1 Corinthians 15:58

Whenever i start questioning the existence of current heroes, i don't have to look any further than within a school. Real heroes mentor and guide students everyday in positive ways, helping them achieve their dreams while broadening their horizons. Schools overflow with role models, in many walks of life, instilling godly values and hope.
True school heroes even stick with us after their paying job is over, like Ms. Polly Wolly and Puff.  The goal of our mighty school mascot team was never fame or fortune, but joy to others.  Their dedication derives from a pure heart filled with a desire to lovingly serve others. Payment for them is not in dollars, but in hugs, overflowing in rich benefits for them and all who cross their path. 

Just...
"Do everything in love." 1 Corinthians 16:14

we are loved and chosen by God,
may we live like we believe it,
veneal

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

a Mighty Word ~ one

"For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all people." 1 Timothy 2:5-6

One picture can be worth a thousand words.
One book, His Word, is richer than all others books put together.
And, there is One who loves us immensely more than everyone else in our life combined.
Thank You, Father. And, You are the One and Only Lord of my life.

we are loved and chosen by God,
may we live like we believe it,
veneal

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

treat 'n treat

"And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you." Ephesians 4: 30-32

Every October, besides the cool crisp air, i love revisiting the tale comparing a Christian to a jack-o-lantern.


It goes like this...
God personally picks and prepares each of us to do His work.  Through continuous love and discipline, He diligently removes the yuck from us.  He rids us of the harmful seeds of hate, jealousy, anger, doubt, revenge, fear. Once in the Arms of Jesus, His Light shines from within us to draw others to Him. 

Isn't that a beautiful picture?  God's Hands on us taking out the junk and putting in His Light.

Enjoy this spook-tacular day.  When you treat 'n treat, you also shine!

we are loved and chosen by God,
may we live like we believe it,
veneal

Monday, October 30, 2017

a Mighty Word ~ trust

Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.” John 14:1
For those of you following along with my friends Linda and Dalene in their book Words to Live By, the word of the week is TRUST (See pages 31-36).  I don't know about you, but this is definitely one area of my life where I have plenty of opportunities to practice.  Of course I find that the more I choose to trust God IN and FOR EVERYTHING --great or small-- the more confidence I have in Him, my circumstances, and others.  It really is all working together for good, just like He said it would.  

This week, let's exercise our TRUST muscles in every situation where uncertainty threatens to make us weak or wobbly.  Just as we choose to exercise, we can choose to trust.  Sounds like a great way to keep flab and trouble at bay!

I trust you will have a wonderful week!

we are loved and chosen by God,
may we live like we believe it,
veneal

Friday, October 27, 2017

pick me!

"God wasn’t attracted to you and didn’t choose you because you were big and important—the fact is, there was almost nothing to you. He did it out of sheer love..." Deuteronomy 7:7 (the Message)

"Okay, Captains, pick your team."
Do you remember the terror on the playground when game sides were chosen?

"Pick me! Pick me!" It was the heart cry of all on the playground. No one wanted to be the last one standing... all alone, embarrassed, feeling unwanted or unworthy by both sides. But for an uncoordinated child, like me, it happened. 

Our cry may fall on deaf human ears (young or old), but not so for the True Captain and Leader of our life.  From one of the least, God heard my "Pick me!" cry on the very first whimper.

And He claimed me instantly.

From the beginning God chose you to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the Truth.

He chose us first, because He loved us first and best.  
Father, help me to love the least best too.

we are chosen and loved by God,
may we live like we believe it,
veneal

Thursday, October 26, 2017

a Mighty Word ~ fear-not

"So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with My righteous right hand." Isaiah 41:10
God will see us through every turn, every creak, every dark corner.  He is never surprised or caught off guard.

Thank You, Father.

we are loved and chosen by God,
may we live like we believe it,
veneal

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

you shouldn't say that

"Wisdom is found on the lips of the discerning, but a rod is for the back of him who lacks judgment." Proverbs 10:13

Recently i had an embarrassing conversation.  It went like this...
"I saw Terrie today; didn't you say she ignores you?"
"Yes, but I hope you didn't say that to her."
"Of course not. But, i did say to the person with her, how a true friend is a friend at all times."
"That was not a very Christian thing to do."         

OUCH! How that rod hurts!

And right she was... it was an unkind thing to say.  Although my words were true, they were laced with unkind intentions.  God is constantly teaching me lessons through others.  Many days I  come up short, stumbling and choking on my own tongue trying to follow Him.  Frustrating and embarrassing for me -- but of little surprise to our Father.  He knows our e-v-e-r-y thought and motive.

Lord, thank you for faithfully picking me up out of the mud.  I pray You do whatever You must to keep my focus on You and Your Will, and not my personal petty issues.  Thank You for loving me enough to rattle my teeth and heart when necessary.

we are loved and chosen by God,

may we live like we believe it,
veneal

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

falling for you...

"The LORD your God is with you, He is mighty to save.  He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing." Zephaniah 3:17
Some days we just need to remember how incredibly loved we are.  
Thank You, Father.  I know Your love can see us through whatever falls our way. You can bring beauty out of all things.

we are loved and chosen by God,
may we live like we believe it,
veneal

Monday, October 23, 2017

a Mighty Word ~ accept

"Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God." Romans 15:7

For those of you joining our Weekly Words to Live By word journey at https://www.facebook.com/weeklywordstoliveby/ or in the book Words to Live By, I have a question for you.

Have you noticed that each word of the week builds upon the one preceding it and prepares us for the one ahead? First, there was LISTEN, which made us pay attention to what the Father was trying to tell us. Then, CHOOSE, which means we decide what we do, think, or BELIEVE based on what or whom we've listened to. What we BELIEVE helps solidify our faith in order to WAIT on Him to act on our behalf, ACCEPTing the fact that He knows best and his timing is perfect.
You get the picture.

This week's word is ACCEPT and i know i'm going to be doing some soul-searching as i seek to activate that word in my life (See Words to Live By, pages 25-30).

The opening page of that section in the book is already working on me: "...Practicing acceptance in our lives, acceptance of others, of situations, and of God's grace in every relationship and situation, creates a foundation for a happy, peaceful life."

This week, may our hearts, our homes, and our workplaces be happy and peaceful as we accept with joy that --

we are loved and chosen by God.
Now may we live like we believe it!
veneal

Friday, October 20, 2017

and, we're off!

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. 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
 Our school's fund raiser event ended with students dashing around the track, determined to reach the goal of 35 laps. Their lap pledges created donations for multiple programs/needs for our school. The best part of the race was when all the cheering stopped and the dust cleared, all were winners. Now, that's my kind of race.
How thankful i am, our Father has designed such a race for us too.  Thank  You, Father, for Your Word, for Jesus and for the encouragement of others to keep our focus on what really matters.  May all we do and say bring glory to You and draw others into Your loving Arms.  How glad i am there is enough room for all of us at the finish line.

we are loved and chosen by God,

may we live like we believe it,
veneal