Lions in Waiting

A few days ago a young man was talking to me about taking risks for God. Several times during our conversation, he commented that not playing it safe could result in being eaten by lions in the lions’ den. This young man is definitely a risk taker. His message was clear. It’s better to live courageously for God and die, than to never truly live.

Anyone who knows me, knows that I live an out-of-box life. Sometimes I know where I am going to be next, months ahead of time. Sometimes I don’t get my next direction until the last minute. But God always makes it clear and opens the doors and provides for everything He has called me to do.

There have been seasons when I have felt like I was in a den full of hungry lions, but there have also been seasons where I have felt like I was soaring with eagles. Whether in a den or on top of a mountain! God has been ever-present and faithful.

Long after our conversation was over, I continued to process the young man’s words, ” You might get eaten by lions…” I thought about the early Christians, who were ripped apart and devoured by lions, and I thought about Daniel, who was rescued from the lions. God was present both in the den and in the amphitheater. Heaven was advancing and the enemy was losing ground. In both cases, facing the lions turned the hearts of men and brought glory to God.

Only the Lord knows if my God adventures will someday close my chapter on this earth in martyrdom, but I would rather face the lions then hide and not fufill my purpose.

The lions’ den might end in death, but as Daniel learned, it can also be the place where we are delivered, leaders hearts are changed, our enemies are destroyed, and we are empowered to rule with more authority.

I don’t know about you, but when it comes to playing it safe or facing the lions-the lions have it hands down.

May you be abundantly blessed!

Jeannie

After King Darius destroyed Daniel’s enemies, he wrote the following decree:

“…To all peoples, nations,and languages that dwell in all the earth:

Peace be multiplied to you.
I make a decree that in every dominion of my kingdom men must tremble in fear before the God of Daniel.

For He is the living God,
And steadfast forever;
His kingdom is the one which shall not be destroyed,
And His dominion shall endure to the end.
He delivers and rescues,
And He work signs and wonders
In heaven and on earth,
Who has delivered Daniel from the power of the Lions.

So this Daniel prospered in the reign of Darius and in the reign of Cyrus the Persian” Daniel 6:25-28 (NKJV).

Exceedingly Abundantly More…

The other day the Lord told me that my word for 2018 was ” exceedingly abundantly more…” Since I know Ephesians 3:20 by heart, I wondered why I was only given a portion followed by more… The more I thought about it, the more I focused on the word more. More of what?

In the past, I thought of Ephesians 3:20 as a promise of material, relational, and positional blessings, but the Lord is stirring my heart to go deeper.

I believe 2018 will be a year of exceedingly abundantly more…

More individual revelations of God’s love and His heart for others
More opportunities to share the gospel
More equipping and provision for people who are stepping into their destinies
More patience and understanding
More freedom
More trust
More obedience
More healing
More mercy

More fruit

More truth
More grace
More creativity
More anointing
More worship
More restoration
More wisdom
More revelation of purpose
More peace
More healthy relationships
More empowering
And so much more…

What are some of the mores you are believing for this year?

Ephesians 3:20 tells us that God “is able to do exceedingly abundantly above ALL we could ask or think, according to the power that works in us. ”

More love, more power, more of you Lord! So much more…..

May your 2018 be abundantly blessed with MORE…!

Jeannie

Unwrapped

Yesterday, as I was shopping, I suddenly started singing, “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas.” Up until then, I had felt quite different. After talking to a few of my friends, I realize that I am not alone when I say, “This has been an unusual Christmas season.” It’s as if Jesus (the Light of the World) has been shining a searchlight on the hearts of men and declaring, “My Christmas gift to you is not in what I am wrapping for you; it is in what I am unwrapping in you.”

Over 2000 years ago, the Son of God shed His royal robes and was wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger. The pure and spotless Lamb of God who came to take away the sins of the world was swaddled with the same type of cloth that swaddled the unblemished lambs that were set apart to be sacrificed. Wrapped in human flesh, the Kings of Kings had come to unwrap mankind from sin and shame.

The babe who laid where cattle were fed would become the living bread that satisfied man’s spiritual hunger. The wooden trough that was surrounded by lowly shepherds would be replaced by a wooden cross surrounded by haughty mockers, as Emmanuel (God with us) bridged the gap between Heaven and earth. Flesh would die, and eternal life would be birthed as Heaven’s glory wrote the greatest love story of all time.

Jesus entered this world with angelic choirs announcing His coming; He exited it announcing His return. He is the gift that keeps on giving. May You and I open our hearts and give Him permission to unwrap the things that hinder us from receiving more of His love and revelations of His glory.

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace” Isaiah 9:6 (KJV).

May you have a beautiful, blessed Christmas!

Jeannie

Home for Christmas

A little over a week ago, I, along with many others, awaited the arrival of a family member returning from deployment.  Parents, spouses, siblings, and sons and daughters visited in the hanger for what seemed like an eternity until the doors were opened signifying that their loved ones were almost home. The hum of the approaching aircraft elicited cheers and applause which continued to crescendo as each plane made its final descent and coasted down the runway. Eager wives and children lined the outskirts of the hanger, waving flags and homecoming signs, anticipating the moment when their loved ones would be safe in their arms.

Once the pilots exited their planes, roses in hand, the anxious throng rushed to the planes and swarmed their heroes. Tears of joy splashed on flight suits as spouses clung to one another and small children were scooped into their parent’s arms. The waiting, wondering, and worrying were over. There would be no more sleepless nights. All were now home safe, just in time for Christmas.

A few days later I was at my childhood home in Texas. Once again I was among loved ones, but this time the atmosphere was much different. Instead of making memories, I was living them. As I wandered through the house looking through items to be listed in Dad’s estate sale, childhood memories collided with the memories of caring for my parents and special needs sister during the past 5 years. Mom is now in heaven with my brother, and Judy and Dad were now in Arizona. It’s funny how seasons I thought would never end seem to have gone by so fast.

Shortly, a new family will be occupying the house I grew up in. As my memories fade, theirs will be birthed. I am not sure where the next road will lead me, I just know that since home is where the heart is, it will always lead me home. It might not be to a place I know of yet, but it will always be with my Lord who knows me. Because of the babe who was born in a stable on a star-studded night, no matter where we wander, when we know Him, we will always be home for Christmas.

Whether you are living memories or making them this Christmas, know that Jesus loves you. May this Christmas be your most beautiful homecoming yet!

Be abundantly blessed!

Jeannie

Surprise!

A dear friend/ sister called me last week and told me she wanted to fly me to Corpus Christi for Christmas. I was not to tell anyone because she wanted my coming to be a surprise. On my way as “the surprise”I have been surprised a few times myself . Last night I spent the night in Houston because flights to Corpus Christi had been cancelled due to snow….SUPRISE! How often does it snow in Corpus Christi?

I ended up having a wonderful Conversation about the Lord with a Christian shuttle driver. SURPRISE!

When I arrived at the hotel it began to snow…SURPRISE!

After I checked in, I dragged my luggage ( I always load as much as I can in my carry on and extra bag so I can bring more) up a fight of stairs in the snow, only to discover that my room key card didn’t work…SURPRISE!

After dragging my luggage back downstairs I was given another key card and made the trek back up the stairs to my room. Both pieces of luggage are around 30 lbs each, but the second time up the stairs they felt like a hundred, so I was really thankful when I got to my door. Unfortunately, the second key card also did not work…SURPRISE!

I was getting a little teary-eyed at the thought of dragging my luggage up and down the stairs again. It was after midnight, I hadn’t eaten dinner, and I was tired. I thought about leaving my luggage and running to the office and back at lightning speed. I even entertained the thought of throwing it off the balcony. Thankfully, common sense kicked in. As I was dialing the phone number for the hotel, the manager came up the stairs…SURPRISE!

He let me in the room with his pass key and informed me that something was wrong with the system, and I wouldn’t have a working key until the next afternoon. He said he would let me in anytime I needed to get back in my room. Even though I was hungry, I thought it best to just stay put. Although I did stand on the balcony for a while and enjoy the beauty of the falling snow…SURPRISE!

This morning as I was packing my bags, I dropped my phone. Since I am a wee bit careless, I have dropped  my phone many times, and it has always survived. I was sitting on the floor so it only fell about 12 inches, but when it hit on its side flashes of colorful lines appeared on the screen. I could still hear the voice on the other end, but alas, my phone is no more…SURPRISE!

Today’s shuttle ride back to the airport was my most eventful yet. The driver offered to move to Corpus and just about proposed to me. I decided it would be best NOT to give him my business card…SURPRISE!

The last 24 hours reminds me how life is full of surprises-some good-some not so good. It also reminds me that no matter what may come my way, I can always depend on the goodness of God. His love and care carries me through the surprises in life. And that is no surprise!

I should be boarding in an hour. I am excited about the surprises in store on the next leg of my journey!

May the Lord abundantly bless you!

Jeannie

 

 

 

 

So Very Thankful!

Update on Shanna…

On Friday I posted a blog about a Thanksgiving lesson I learned when my young children had been sick with the stomach flu.  When I was writing the blog, I had no idea that my biggest Thanksgiving blessing this year would be sort-of-related.

A while back I asked for prayers for my oldest daughter Shanna.  Among other ailments, she has had severe stomach issues. Although it was just the two of us, we went all out for Thanksgiving and prepared a turkey with all the fixings, complete with individual bottles of sparkling cider. For the first time in eight months, Shanna ate a full plate of a variety of foods and didn’t get sick. She didn’t even have to take her anti-nausea medicine. Thank you, Jesus! We are believing that her health will continue to improve. Thank you for all of your prayers!

May we always celebrate the goodness of God with Thanksgiving!

Be abundantly blessed,

Jeannie

Giving Thanks

One of my most memorable Thanksgiving experiences didn’t take place in the midst of festivities, family, and friends. It didn’t even take place on Thanksgiving Day.

My memorable Thanksgiving began as an ordinary day in the fall of 1992. At the time, my husband was working for a police department in a small tourist city in Arizona. I was supposed to drop him off at the station early in the morning so he could take a patrol car to a three-day seminar in Flagstaff.

While he gathered his belongings, I loaded our four small pajama-clad children into the car. Then off we went. I was expecting the trip to the station and back home to take about an hour, but when we arrived at the station no patrol cars were available, so I had to drive him up the mountain to drop him off at the seminar. I hated driving the road through the canyon. I also wasn’t thrilled about having another hour and a half of drive time.

On the way back down the mountain, the children started poking each other and whining, “Moooom, how much longer!” Since I had been teaching the kids about being flexible and practicing thankfulness, I figured it was a good time for a life lesson. At the time I had no idea that I was the one who needed the lesson the most. “Guess what kids! I exclaimed. This is a great opportunity for character building.” They knew when Mom mentioned character building it meant that we would try to make the best out of a frustrating situation. It also meant that at any moment Mom was going to erupt in song. As expected, I began to sing praise songs and practice thankfulness, which basically means saying your thankful when you don’t feel it. My six-year-old son Joshua and my four-year-old daughter Shanna sang along with me as their toddler sister Rebekah and baby brother Caleb expressed themselves by making joyful noises.

I was thankful that the kids were having fun and the ride was going smoothly, that is until I heard a guttural noise and a gushing sound. I looked over my shoulder at Joshua. He was covered with vomit. His little sisters were echoing each other with sounds of disgust. Because of the sharp curves, I had to keep my eyes on the road, but I kept my ears tuned in to the commotion in the back seat.

It wasn’t long before I heard a second guttural noise. “Oh no, Joshua! Not again!” I shouted.

He shouted back, “It wasn’t me, Mom!” As I approached the next curve, I glanced back just in time to see Shanna empty the contents of her stomach. With two of them throwing up, the stench in the car was awful. Rebekah was fussing, and baby Caleb started crying. I wanted to cry too.

I rolled the windows down and I shouted toward the back seat. “It’s okay kids. We will be home in 50 minutes. We will just keep worshipping. Let’s count our blessings!” I then began to sing another praise song. I was hoping that Joshua and Shanna would sing along, but they both threw up again. After we rounded the next curve, Rebekah joined them, and by the time we got to the base of the mountain the baby was also puking. I continued singing and offering words of encouragement, wishing that home was around the corner instead of 40 more minutes away. “Lord, help me!” I begged.

The drive seemed to take forever. I kept telling myself, “Stay focused. Stay thankful. Even if you don’t feel it, practice thankfulness.” At one point I quit singing and began laughing. What were the odds of four small children puking at the same time? I looked back at my four very unhappy vomit-encrusted passengers. The entire situation was ludicrous.

After what seemed like an eternity, I parked in front of our apartment. One by one I carried the children inside, stripped off their jammies, rinsed them off, and laid them on blankets on the floor. After placing a puke bucket next to all but the baby I removed the car seats and hosed them down and then cleaned up the car.

I then went back inside to tend to my children. A few of them had continued to vomit. Thankfully, they were using their buckets. Taking the baby in my arms I sat down in my rocking chair and prayed. I felt sorry for my sick children. I felt even sorrier for myself.

I got up and laid the baby on a blanket and emptied and resituated the buckets. Before sitting back down, I grabbed a book to read to my pathetic little pukers. I figured reading them a book might distract them from how awful they were feeling. The book I chose was one I had recently purchased about the Pilgrims and Thanksgiving.

I had learned about the Pilgrims in elementary school, but that day I got a lot more insight. I was fascinated by the information the author had accumulated from journal entries as well as history books.

The Separatists, later known as Pilgrims, had endured persecution, imprisonment, and poverty before they had been given the opportunity to establish a colony in America. They had fled from England to Holland, but their desire to spread the gospel and for their children to prosper pushed them toward more.

They paid a high price to fulfill their God-given dream. Half of them would lose their lives before the first harvest. Some of them would die before they even reached the shore.

A couple of chapters into the book, Joshua had asked for something to eat, so I gave him a little bit of flat soda and a couple of saltine crackers. Then I sat down and resumed reading. The next chapter was about the voyage. I read about horrible sea sickness and food shortages. I was sure that my two oldest could relate a little when they heard that the Pilgrims survived on ale and stale bread.

At the request of my children, I continued to read. We learned about how Squanto had been kidnapped as a youth. After he had been educated in England he returned to his home to discover that his entire village had been wiped out from disease. God had positioned him for such a time as this to help the Pilgrims. The Pilgrims had a dream, but God had plan-not just a plan for a new colony but a new country.

When I finished the book, I thought about the sacrifices and the blessings surrounding Thanksgiving. Squanto had lost all of his family and friends. The Pilgrims had lost many of theirs. But in the midst of loss they celebrated together. As two people groups united with thankful hearts they ushered in a new beginning.

When I closed the book, I looked at each of my children and whispered a prayer of thanks. “Thank you, Lord, that they only have the flu. Thank you for our freedom. Thank you for your care. Thank you for everything!” A frustrating day had turned into an amazing one. For most, Thanksgiving was just around the corner, but in our little apartment it had already arrived.  I no longer had to practice thankfulness.  It was overflowing from my heart and coursing through my entire being.

Happy Thanksgiving!

May you be overwhelmed by the goodness of God!

God bless,

Jeannie

 

“In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” 1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NKJV).

photo by johnhain – pixabay

The Joy of the Lord

The past few days the Lord has been speaking to me about joy. One of the scriptures that came to mind is Nehemiah 8:10. After Nehemiah tells the people to celebrate, he tells them why: “For the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

When I was raising my children I often begged God for strength to make it through each day. I knew how to rely on God, but I didn’t know how to enjoy Him. I interpreted scriptures about joy to mean that I needed to be thankful and praise God, even when I did not feel like it. While I do believe in offering God sacrifices of praise, Nehemiah 8:10 speaks to me more about relationship than duty.

The defining word for me was the little word “of”

The passage says the joy of the Lord, not joy in the Lord. That means it’s His joy that gives me strength. It’s one thing to know that the Lord fights our battles, but it is quite another to know that He delights in us and rejoices over us. Zephaniah 3:17 tells us that God rejoices over us with gladness, quiets us with His love, and even sings over us. That’s not just visitation; that’s intimacy!

Hebrews says that Jesus endured the cross for the joy that was before Him. That joy is us. Jesus suffered and died, not because He had to, but because He loved us.

It’s the Lord’s joy for me that strengthens me and gives me joy-joy found only in relationship with Him.

Verse 9 of the eighth chapter of Nehemiah says that the people wept when the words of the law were read to them. The people’s hearts were broken over their sins, but Nehemiah told them to rejoice. God had restored His people to Himself. It was time for joy, not mourning.

Jesus restored us to the Father when He died on Calvary’s cross. His precious blood was poured out like wine for the joy that was set before Him-you and me!

May the joy of the Lord be your strength!

Be abundantly blessed!

Jeannie

photo from Pixabay

 

 

Wrappings

Last March, I began communicating with a man I had met on-line. He was a handsome business owner and a dedicated father who was involved in his church and community.  After a month of text messages and phone calls we agreed to meet in person. To say that I was excited would have been an understatement. Since he was coming from another city and I hadn’t agreed to date anyone for the past three years, I had already begun to lightly sketch him into my life’s painting as my possible Boaz.

As I was getting ready for my date, my hopes were high. Putting on my makeup I felt like a schoolgirl preparing for the prom. Even though it was just a lunch date, I wore a nice dress and high heels. “This might be it,” I said to myself, “After 17 years of singleness, I might be meeting the One God has been preparing for me.”

Ten minutes into our date my high hopes turned into hope deferred. Not only was there a lack of chemistry, I found him to be incredibly boring and materialistic.

I don’t cry often, but after I got home I bawled like a baby. That night I asked for prayer and my pastors prayed for me.

When I awoke the following morning, past scenarios in my life were running through my head like movie clips. Anytime I had trusted God and obeyed Him, even in the midst of difficult seasons, I was thankful because I could now see the blessings. It was the times when I had disobeyed God or made decisions based upon what looked good to me that had caused me grief and filled me with regret.

I had recited the phrase “God is good!” many times, but that morning I understood God’s goodness at a whole new level. God is not only is good, He always knows what is good for me. Even when the packaging of my circumstances didn’t look or feel good, He was always good.

I wrote the following poem during a discouraging season. At that time it was difficult for me to see God’s goodness; but I can clearly see it now. I pray it will bless you.

Wrappings

Two packages lay before me,

One elegant; one plain.

The one in finest wrapping.

The other brown with string.

With delight I grabbed the first one;

Gently removed the bows

And folded down the paper

While anticipation rose.

But disappointment surfaced

Almost immediately

As I opened up the box

And it contents I did see.

For instead of finest treasures

Of diamonds or of gold,

It was filled with thorns and thistles

And miseries untold.

So reluctantly I reached out

And placed the second on the floor.

With its drab and plain appearance

What horrors were in store?

Then cautiously I cut

The fraying well-worn string,

Removed the plain brown paper

And opened up the awful thing.

All disappointment left

As delight filled up my soul

For in that plain and simple package

Were treasures to behold.

Sometimes God’s greatest gifts

Are hidden for a season.

It’s often later down the road

We understand the reason.

Jeannie Boatright

I have learned that sometimes the most incredible gifts come in the most unusual packages.

 May you be abundantly blessed!

Jeannie

photo from Pixabay

I’m Still Here

This morning I was reflecting on God’s goodness. As I thought about all of the trials He has brought me through the following song was birthed in my heart. I seldom share songs God gives me, but I felt to share this one.

I’m Still Here

It seems I’ve fought a thousand wars in distant lands of old.

Some battles that almost took my life have now been turned to stories of gold.

The enemy that stole and crushed is now underneath my feet.

Your amazing grace that covered me has shown me his deceit.

Because of your love,

Your perfect love,

I’m still here.

 

I tried to walk on water without looking in your eyes.

When I was going under, you raised me up again to life.

The storms that raged against me are now the wind behind my sails.

You turned beauty into ashes when it seemed that all had failed.

Because of your love,

Your perfect love,

I’m still here.

 

Chorus

I’m still here because you’re still here with me,

Leading me and guiding me, setting my heart free.

I’m still here because you’re still here with me.

Living in your presence is where I want to be.

Because of your love,

Your perfect love,

I’m still here because you’re still here with me.

 

You’ve raised me up with wings of eagles; now I can truly soar.

I’ll never get enough of you; I’m always wanting more.

The truths that you have shared with me are now mighty tools in my hand.

The life that you have given me is far greater than I’d planned.

Because of your love,

Your perfect love,

I’m still here.

 

You’ve set my soul on fire with a love that’s not my own.

You’ve captivated my heart, and now my Spirit groans.

Lord, take my life and use me so all can know the true joy that you bring.

Set the captives free so they can join with me and sing.

Because of your love,

Your perfect love,

I’m still here.

Chorus

I’m still here because you’re still here with me.

Leading me and guiding me, setting my heart free.

I’m still here because you’re still here with me.

Living in your presence is where I want to be.

Because of your love,

Your perfect love,

I’m still here because you’re still here with me.

You never have forsaken me.

Because your love has awakened me

I know why I’m still here.

by Jeannie Boatright

May you know why you are still here. Be abundantly blessed!

Jeannie