LOVE…Even When It Hurts!

LOVE Picture

The gift giver became a gift receiver, two examples of love exchanged; one purchased, and the other spoken.

As my grandmother, Gammy, lay in bed with leukemia and between treatments, a visitor knocked on her door.  Carrying a basket of blessings, this sweet lady from my grandmother’s Sunday school class asked if she could visit a final time. Gammy raised her frail body from the grasp of soft sheets and covered herself with an oversized robe.  She was in no shape for company, yet she mustered the strength to meet her guest.  Within minutes, laughter filled the house, and I witnessed an uncommon act of kindness –LOVE.

What is love?

“Love endures long and is patient and kind; love never is envious nor boils over with jealousy, is not boastful or vainglorious, does not display itself haughtily.  It is not conceited; it is not rude and does not act unbecomingly.  Love does not insist on its own rights or its own way, for it is not self-seeking; it is not touchy or fretful or resentful; it takes no account of the evil done to it.  It does not rejoice at injustice and unrighteousness, but rejoices when right and truth prevail.”        –1 Corinthians 4-7

Reading that makes me feel a little unloving.

Am I the only one feeling this way?  Is it really possible to love others when life hurts?

According to God’s word, Yes!  Loving through the tears is not only possible, but it is also EXPECTED.  The Bible clearly sets the standard for loving others, and I have to admit, I don’t always reach the mark.

“But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” –Romans 5:8

In agony, Jesus still responded in love, and we are equipped to do the same.

Real love is expressed as one of the fruits of the spirit; therefore, we CAN unconditionally love as Jesus loves.  When we allow the Holy Spirit to work through us, we are then able to believe God to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves.  In place of our weaknesses, He gives us strength to do the impossible, to love others in the midst of our pain.  Since love is a choice and never a feeling, we can choose to rise above our situations, allowing God to work miracles from our lives.  It is through loving others that we experience true joy and purpose beyond our pain.

Friend, will you join me in choosing love today?

Jesus, I need you, and I know that you are with me.  Thank you for loving me and helping me, especially when I am hurting.  Lord, I know that you have a divine calling and purpose for my life right now, right here.  Please give me the strength to love others even when it hurts.  A-men

Blessings!  Michelle

Slow Down, Rest, Breathe!

Wherever you are, whatever you are doing — JUST STOP!

Take a moment, and then another, and CHOOSE to be in the moment.

Instead of playing the roles of baker, shopper, cleaner, decorator, gift-wrapper, toy assembler, mother, father, and whatever other….  you get the message –

JUST STOP!

Don’t even slow down, but actually sit down, prop your feet, and relax in His presence.

Now, doesn’t that feel better?

Rest behind the sidelines and remember why and what you are doing.  Be cautious not to get so caught up in the season that you miss the message and the people in it.  Otherwise, Christmas will come and go, and you and I will be wondering what all the hustle and bustle was about.

Jesus is about simplicity, never anxiety.  Consider our ancestors who celebrated Christmas with family, friends, and of course, God‘s word.  The real gift was and still is Jesus, and the presents were a reminder of His message.

According to MyHeritage list, these were the most commonly requested presents in America in 1913:

  1. Candy
  2. Nuts
  3. Rocking horse
  4. Doll
  5. Mittens/gloves
  6. Toy train
  7. Oranges
  8. Books
  9. Handkerchiefs
  10. Skates

Yes, times have changed, and in place of books, our children want Nooks–

but the Nativity story will forever remain the same!  (Insert Allelujah here!!)

Dear friend, I pray that we will make this a memorable Christmas, one of the greatest Christmas parties that we have ever hosted.  Most importantly, may we remember our parties’ purpose and not forget to invite our most beloved guest — JESUS!

Blessings!  Michelle

“And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth.” –Luke 1:14

Your Greatest Days Are Ahead!

This is your season.  Can you feel it?

God is doing something new and exciting in your life whether you see it or not.

No longer like a leaf attached to its limb, you have been catapulted from comfort to adventure.  The wind is taking you to places where you couldn’t go on your own.

One leaf, one you–

one God.

One word and the earth was formed, one thought and you were born.  The power of one breath to awaken your soul, the influence of one life to alter your goals.

One decision will propel you into your greatest dreams.

One leap of faith, one prayer.

It’s never in the surplus that shapes our destiny, but in the shadow of a moment that cements our steps.

One moment of sudden abandonment, and you glide into the gentle hands of your creator.  His spirit beckons you to a journey; it’s the place where your heart often visits.  No longer grasping for the convenience of your present, you are in His presence.

One surrendered life, one purposeful moment.  Besides, we don’t live life; we live moments–

moments that fuse together as the tapestry of our existence.  And this, my friend, is your moment.  It’s a gift to you to be used through you.

Open it, rejoice in it.  This is your time.  Autumn may be outside your window, but summer is where you are.

Will you let go and trust yourself in the palm of His hand?

“From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near.” —Matthew 24:32

Blessings!  Michelle

Another Man’s Treasure

Three pieces of broken wood piled together as trash–   Worn. Outdated. Forgotten.

Who would want it?

Abandoned to ruin, weathered from the past……   it was made for so much more than this.

Once exchanging its strength for another’s solace, sacrificing its wear for those who are worn.

From the cathedral to the curb, the church pew would soon be thrown into the garbage truck–

Tattered wood, shattered dreams….

Are the remnants of a seasoned pew really trash?  Can broken pieces come together again?

Yes, the Bible assures us!

“Can these bones live?” God asks Ezekiel as he walked among the living- dead, those whose bones were infused with buried dreams.

“O Lord God, You know.”  Again He said to me, “Prophesy over these bones and say to them, ‘O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord.”  –Ezekiel 37:2-4

Have you ever been there?  Alive, but not living?  Moving, but not going?  Dreaming, but not achieving?

–the days pass, the years pass, the house gets larger, the dreams get smaller?

It’s a familiar presence stealing dreams from God’s heroes–  the voice of condemnation.

Moses saw it in his fist; Jonah felt it in the sand; Peter heard it in a rooster; the adulteress watched it in their hands.

Whether Wall Street or your street, people every day are believing a lie– that their mistakes are greater than God’s grace, that their sin can’t be forgiven, that their dreams can never be realized–  the voice of condemnation.

Romans 8:1 promises, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”  Unlike conviction which prompts us to ask God to forgive our daily sins, condemnation is a gnawing at our spirit leaving us to feel broken, without any hope for repair.

Friend, if you feel guilty for anything, please know that you are carrying a burden that God wants to forgive right now.  Not only will He forgive us of our sins, but He will not even allow Himself to remember them! –Psalm 103:12  The freedom to dream again begins when we are no longer broken from our past.

Will you let the carpenter fix your broken pieces today?

The broken church pew was treasure in the carpenter’s hand.  Isn’t that also true of us?

Blessings!  Michelle

Feeling Lost?

Are you feeling lost today, as if you are unsure and even possibly unsettled about your life’s direction?  If Google Maps were to locate your position, would it find you facing your forgiven past or your purposeful future?  Perhaps, you are standing where the saints before you once stood, somewhere between the sacred and the mundane.  You can see God moving in your life, He has to be, because without Him, you wouldn’t be where you are.  However, your Monday-morning reality appears anything but sacred.  Between counting calories and meeting deadlines, do you wonder if God can connect your present location to your future ministry?

Rest assured, He can and He will!  “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord; plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” –Jeremiah 29:11

Consider the shepherd, David, waking up Monday mornings in the midst of stinky sheep.  Where man saw a shepherd, God saw a king.  “The Lord said to Samuel, “’How long will you mourn for Saul, since I have rejected him as king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil and be on your way; I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem. I have chosen one of his sons to be king.’” –1 Samuel 16:1

And then there was Gideon hiding in a hole from the bullies in his life.  Where man saw a coward, God saw a hero.  “When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said, ‘“The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.”’ –Judges 6:12

How about Mephibosheth?  Physically handicapped and feeling rejected, he made his residence in a town of forgotten people.  Where man saw a disability, God saw royalty.  “And Mephibosheth lived in Jerusalem, because he always ate at the king’s table; he was lame in both feet.” —2 Samuel 9:13

What about Paul?  From persecuting Christians to a promotion in tent-making, would anyone dare to believe that God was preparing him for something beyond himself?  Where man saw a wrecked life, God saw an apostle, an author, a missionary.

And the stories continue…..  Moses in the desert, Joseph in prison, Sarah still barren, Noah still building…

the Transition Period

The transition period softens the rat race within our soul; we want more from this life than a larger bank account and a new job title.  We aren’t willing to settle for the temporal vanities of this world.  We crave more God and less stuff.  We want more meaning and less wasting of our time and talents.  We refuse to climb another step on the so-called ladder of success.  We can now see that it is leaning against the wrong wall!  Another day, another dollar…  we will be there when the kids get taller.

It’s the place between where we were and where we are going.  It’s a season of proactively waiting on God to direct our next big step.  What appears as our daily grind is actually God’s greatest training camp for our lives.  It is where God aligns our pasts with our purpose, where our failures and successes are woven into our future ministry.  We may not feel as if anything is happening here, but it is!  God is working behind the scenes, He is orchestrating events for our life’s performance.

Friend, are you currently in transition?  Congratulations, you have been promoted!  God is about to open doors of opportunity for your life, greater than any position the world might offer.

No longer in your past, you are now ready for God’s best in your future.

Are you a Christian feeling somewhat lost on your life’s journey today?  Get excited, it’s the place of new beginnings!  No matter how uncertain you may feel, the good news is that you are still standing in the palm of His hands.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” –Proverbs 3:5-6

Blessings! –Michelle

What is Your Dijon-Sized Dream?

What are you trusting with your life today?

Perhaps, it’s the car that escorts you back and forth with your children.  Maybe it’s your cell phone that delivers an urgent message.  Could it be your checking account that assures you another month in your house?  Wherever we find ourselves on this perfectly tilted planet with just enough gravity to keep us attached, one thing is for certain – everyone has faith in something.

Faith is defined as “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”  –Hebrews 11:1

God does not merely suggest that we have faith; as a matter of fact, He requires it, “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” –Hebrews 11:6

Imagine that!  Even in our daily lives, God is looking to bless us for what we should obviously do, trust Him.  As simple as that reads, why is it that we so often forget that God is in control?  We take matters into our own hands believing that we have the answers, but we soon realize that we are lost and only God can save us.

Would we dare trade places with a pilot maneuvering our plane?  Are our ways really better than God’s ways?  Will we ever regret any decision that we make that is covered in prayer and aligned with God’s word?  Even the complexity of our mere existence far outweighs our greatest life problems; yet, He cares for them as well.  How could we trust ourselves for anything when our need for oxygen to survive depends upon the grace of God?  Not only does He give us life, but He also provides directions to enjoy it.

To understand faith better, it’s important that we also know what it isn’t.  Faith is not believing in anything that we choose while trusting God to bring it to pass.  Psalm 37:4 commands, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.”  The desires (dreams, goals, ambitions) that we receive from God may or may not be the ones that we have for ourselves.  It is only when we align our hearts with God’s heart that we have pure dreams with pure motivesThese are the dreams for which God promises in Proverbs 16:3, “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.”

What God-sized dream are you hiding in your heart?  Is it larger than you?  Does it require a miracle to get the job done?  If so, you are on the right path!  God specializes in big-dream makeovers, and He delights in our obedience to trust Him to completion.

This leads to the questions:  How much effort and how much time do we faithfully commit to a dream that has been placed in our hearts from God?

According to God’s word, we are to have faith the size of a mustard seed, and we are to faithfully commit to our dreams until we reach them or we die believing in them.

Matthew 17:20 –And He said to them, “Because of the littleness of your faith; for truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you.  Please notice that Jesus did NOT state, “If you have faith the size of a mountain, you can move a mustard seed!”  The difference between a mustard seed and a mountain is that the mustard seed grows and multiplies while the mountain remains stuck and eroded.

In addition, we are to keep moving forward in the direction of our dreams until we can’t move anymore.  Consider Joseph who went so far as to arrange for his bones to be brought with the Israelites from Egypt; he kept the faith that God would rescue them, and he dreamt that he would be a part of it.  “By faith Joseph, when his end was near, spoke about the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt and gave instructions concerning the burial of his bones.” –Hebrews 11:22

Friend, have you trusted Jesus with your eternity?  If so, will you also trust Him with your dreams? Trusting Jesus with your eternity will bring you to heaven; trusting Jesus with your dreams will bring heaven to you.

Blessings!  Michelle

In God We Trust!

What are your plans at 3:00 this Memorial Day?

For some, it might be a trip to the local grocery store where there’s an assortment of products neatly arranged to purchase; clean, government-inspected containers are stocked on shelves in air-conditioned buildings.  Others may sit among a cheering crowd, holding an ice-cold Coca-Cola while watching their children hit a baseball across the field; they don’t need to be overly concerned about bug bites since the air is controlled by regulated amounts of insect repellant.  With more than 1 billion people worldwide living on less than $1.00 a day, there are the global elite employees who still have the opportunity to work on a Federal holiday.  Wherever we find ourselves on this beautiful, green pasture of prosperity and abundance, my prayer is that we will pause and remember those who paid a great price for our freedom.

Originally called Decoration Day on May 3, 1868, General James Garfield gave a speech at Arlington National Cemetery where 5,000 participants decorated the graves of the 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers buried there from the Civil War. Among the attendees were General and Mrs. Ulysses S. Grant.  In 1971, Congress passed the National Holiday Act officially observing Decoration Day as Memorial Day, a federal holiday to honor all heroes who lost their lives defending The United States of America.  Unlike Veterans Day which honors heroes living or deceased who served in America’s Armed Forces, Memorial Day honors only those who died in war while defending America.  These men and women went to their graves with dreams for us buried in their hearts; they followed in the footsteps of their Founding Fathers.

“Give me Liberty or give me Death!” — Patrick Henry, a Founding Father who was unable to sign The Declaration of Independence in which he inspired through his charge, declared that there could be no compromise for freedom in America, that death would already exist under British rule.  Cited with scripture in his speech, Mr. Henry believed that his possible death for speaking his beliefs was not as detrimental as our American freedom aligned with God’s truth.

Can we still hear Mr. Henry’s words echo even today?

On a mission trip to Belize, a young boy, who lived inside of a board house the size of a small home office, asked my husband if he lived in a cement house.   Hesitantly, my husband said, “yes.”  The boy then asked, “Why do you have a cement house and I have a wood house?”  Silently praying that God would give him an encouraging and wise answer, my husband remembered that he had a quarter in his pocket.  As he gave the quarter to the young boy, he asked him to read the words inscribed on it.  In English, the boy read, “In God We Trust.”  My husband shared that our country was founded on obedience to God, and God blessed it.  He then encouraged him to remain obedient to the Lord and to lead his country to do the same.

Our great country will celebrate its 237th birthday on July 4 this year — I can’t help but wonder if we see and hear the same country envisioned by the treasured men and women whom we honor today.

What happens to a country that refuses to obey God?

When we step inside our children’s classrooms, do we see the Bible as the official text as once was adopted by Thomas Jefferson, the first president of the Washington, D. C. school board?  Can we any longer reflect upon a monument of The Ten Commandments displayed in our local courtrooms?  In our churches, do we hear the word sin as was once preached by Jonathan Edwards in America’s great revival, or are we humored with the politically correct version of God’s word, ensuring that no one would ever feel the need for forgiveness from their savior?  What about science and history?  Is evolution now a fact with intelligence design completely removed from textbooks?  Did Americans really celebrate the first Thanksgiving in Florida?  Do we see hands saluted across hearts when we hear our nation’s anthem, “The Star-Spangled-Banner?”  If not, why?!

We are not promised the freedom for which we are given unless we appreciate and honor the One who gives it.  Today, let us obey God and carry the vision He placed in our Founding Fathers’ hearts for a God-fearing country.  Today, let us remember those who died to give us our freedom, the heroes of the Armed Forces, and might I add–  even those who wore fire, police, business suits, and even blue jeans!  Let us remember those who died for us on land and sea, in planes and buildings.  Let us respectfully pause and reflect.

Today, let us stand in a second of a minute of an hour, aware for the first time since our birth that we are still breathing.  Yes, we are breathing, and our heart continues to pass life through our bodies, only this time we pause to notice.  We see the delicate thread that holds us together.  We are bound by our faith, and only Jesus can save us.  We stand and remember those who stand in spirit, those who gave their all, those who fought the good fight that we may have this day –Free!  As we stand, let us not forget freedom with responsibility; we are only free inasmuch as we choose to trust God with our country.  Together we stand to support the wounded, the speechless, and the never forgotten.  Today we stand, and we are fully awake to our calling, to do our part to make this country as it should be.  We no longer live a mundane existence because such can’t exist in God’s kingdom.  Instead, we see that to be alive is a gift from God, and that life should never be taken for granted.  To live in America is a privilege and a blessing that we may rise and bless the hurting people of this world.

As we reflect upon our heroes today, let us rise to a greater call as Christians, ones who speak and act on behalf of God’s truth for our country.  Let us not silence our voices among the masses; rather, let us boldly carry the vision that began in the hearts of men and women who died to pass this vision to us.  How could we even begin to drop their baton– to do so would be unfair, unjust to those who died that we might live.

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” –2 Timothy 1:7

Blessings!  Michelle