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

 

Stuck

There have been seasons in my life when I have felt stuck. A few years ago, while I was praying, (begging would be a more accurate description) for God to end my then current season and let me “get on with my life,” I saw a vision of a clock. Its hands were rapidly spinning, signifying the passing of not only days, but years.

Even though the hands of the clock seemed to be spinning out of control, I felt a sense of God being in control—not just in control of the clock, but of time itself, particularly the seasons of my life. God spoke to my spirit that things were getting ready to accelerate, due in part, to the people with which He had surrounded me. At that moment, I realized that I hadn’t been stuck; I had been placed.

God had placed me exactly where He wanted me. He had placed me where I would prosper the most. My stuck season hadn’t been stagnant. It had been a season of equipping, growth, and connections that would cause much to come about quickly in the upcoming season.

The vision of the clock reminded me of Joseph. In the 37th chapter of Genesis, Joseph dreams about his destiny, but in Chapter 39, he ends up on jail duty. His purpose leads him to prison-for a very long season.

I am sure there were times when Joseph felt stuck. The Bible tells us that Joseph was faithful in all that was put before him. He also had favor. While he was stuck in prison, God was setting up his acceleration. As Joseph managed the books, God was writing Joseph’s book—a story that would instantly take him from the prison to the palace to the position of second ruler in the land. His prison time, his “stuck season” prepared him for the destiny for which he had been created—a destiny that would save many lives!

It’s easy to get discouraged when we feel stuck between our vision and our destiny. But feeling stuck is not a bad thing. It is an indicator of change. Feeling stuck encourages us to rise up and to take hold of our promises. Complacency kills destiny, but feeling stuck in invites it, as we are continuously reminded that there is something greater ahead.

Are you are feeling stuck? Has God has given you visions you haven’t seen come to pass? Are you trying to hold onto your sanity while holding on to your dreams? If so, be encouraged. God is going before you and setting things in order. Continue to be faithful with all that is before you. The hands on the clock are turning and will soon begin spinning. Get ready! God is going to accelerate time as He moves you into a new season-a season of changed positions and answered promises!

Lord, you are so faithful! Thank you for all of the seasons in my life, including when I feel stuck. Thank you for your equipping and favor, even when I don’t recognize it. I am confident that where you have placed me now will accelerate where you are taking me. Help me to be faithful and learn all you have for me to learn. Help me to trust you as you lead me toward my destiny. In Jesus’ Name…Amen!

Be abundantly blessed!

Jeannie

Photo by khfalk- pixabay

In the Moment

 

Today’s post was written by Stacey Tuley, a wonderful lady with a huge heart. May we always remember that we are blessed to be a blessing.

Everyday is a great day to be a blessing right where you are at.

So this happened around lunch time.

I was at the Walgreens at Rodd Field Road and SPID. I arrived ahead of a lady that I was to meet to buy a purse from. She texted she’d be a few minutes late. While waiting on her I was listening to Lauren Daigle. “…In your eyes there’s only grace now…You plead my cause, you right my wrong, you break my chains, you overcome, you gave your life, to give me mine. You say that I am free, how can it be…Yeah ah…”

I watched a man walk slowly and lethargically up to the trash can in broad day light where he retrieved a 1/2 full Dr. Pepper bottle and a bag of some kind of chips. My eyes began to pour as I watched him devour the treasure he’d found. He walked over to sit on a concrete parking marker to finish eating. I realized in that moment that I had to do something. I wanted to immediately go buy him something to eat, but I saw the lady arrive that I was there to meet.

After I picked up the purse, she got back in her car and I walked into the store, trying to hurry before he left the area. I told the store manager what I witnessed outside and that it broke my heart. He said, “Yeh,” as he shook his head, “He hangs around here a lot. We try to help him as we can, and he scares a lot of the customers. I’ll go ask him to leave.” I told the manager, “Wait, No, he didn’t scare me, but he’s obviously hungry. I would like to buy him some food.”  The manager said, “Ok, I’ll go tell him.”

I wasn’t sure what to get the homeless man. I knew he needed some protein and a protein carb combo is good for sustained energy so I got him a big bag of beef jerky, potato chips, a large smart water, and a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. It wasn’t the ideal place to purchase a meal, but my heart just broke in two for him. How hungry and how desperate must one be to eat from a public trash can at a pharmacy in broad day light with people all around!

The song I had been listening to earlier reminded me of something in that moment. I had watched many people in closer proximity to the homeless man see what I saw and keep on walking. Many others were totally oblivious.  I believe that when we intersect a time and a place there is often a bigger purpose than we may realize and where we have opportunity to be a blessing. I thought I was just going to buy a purse from an online garage sale site, but God had a bigger reason for me to arrive there at 12:57 PM today.

Jesus said when someone is hungry to give them food. When they are thirsty to give them a drink. Whenever we do so we are in effect doing it unto God. I’m so thankful that I had $10 to spend to bless this hungry man. I didn’t need to know why he was hungry, what he did or didn’t do to find himself in this place, or perhaps what mental illness he may have. All I knew in that moment was that he was hungry, and it was my job to get food and water into his hands.

The store manager walked out with me while carrying the bag for the man and said, “I’ll see you to your car.” As the store manager handed the bag to the hungry man, the man reached out his hand to shake my hand. I might as well have shaken the hand of God. The man didn’t say much, but he looked me straight in the eyes and said a very humbled and sincere “Thank you.” I told him, “You’re very welcome, God bless you, and I hope this helps a little.” His heart was full of gratitude for the gift, and my heart was full of gratitude that I had been at the right place at the right time as was able to help. I know it won’t change his situation, whatever that is, but sometimes just knowing that someone cares in a tangible way in the midst of your struggle is enough for that moment.

Our Movies

 

My computer/tablet has been having major issues. The other day it wouldn’t let me open any of my word programs and today it appears to be speaking in tongues. THisbm is whadt it lyoyoks like when I tp]e yon the kebmyoadrad.

Even though my keyboard is speaking its own language, I attempted to use it anyway. After each sentence I had to go back and delete the extra letters that had been inserted into each word. The process was frustrating. It didn’t take long for me to realize that using my keyboard was stealing both my peace and my time. It was time to disconnect the keyboard. Thankfully, I can still type on the touch screen.

A couple of months ago I wrote a post about a vision God had given me about the restoration of heart’s desires. Shortly afterwards, the Lord told me that I was to work on a couple of books I had started writing quite a few years ago. One of them is about the lies that kept me in abuse and the truths that set me free.

Writing about my past can be similar to this morning’s experience with my malfunctioning keyboard. In just a few sentences a slew of memories can quickly surface, causing me frustration and stealing my peace. There were times when I was writing a few of the stories in my first two books that I was crying so hard from painful memories that I could barely see what I was typing.

Whenever painful memories used to surface I would either ignore them, agonize over them, or try to analyze them. Now, when hurtful memories kick up, instead of looking in, I look up. It’s not about introspection as much as it is about gaining a new perspective.

When I take the pain of my past to the Lord, He reveals His presence and gives me purpose. He exposes the lies I believed, helps me to forgive, and writes His truth on the tablet of my heart. As the Holy Spirit reveals the plans of the enemy and the bondages and wounds of those who hurt me, the movie script in my mind of is rewritten, and I see Jesus in every scene. Sometimes He is shielding me. Sometimes He is holding me. Sometimes He is crying. Sometimes He is fiercely protecting me. Sometimes He is speaking truth to me—even when I am not listening. At all times, Jesus is loving me and revealing His heart to me.

Rewriting my life movie writes my purpose. When I See Jesus in every scene of my past, I can clearly see Him in every scene in my future. My story becomes His story as He takes the good, the bad, and the ugly and uses it all for His glory and to bring freedom to others. I might need to process some things and even shed some tears when Jesus shows up in my past memories, but the new outlook He gives me always turn my tears of sorrow into incredible joy.

When you and I give God our pasts, He inserts His presence, His truth, and His promises to bless our futures. Have you given God your movie?

May you be abundantly blessed!

Jeannie

11 You turned my wailing into dancing;
you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,
12 that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent.
Lord my God, I will praise you forever. Psalm 30:11-12(NIV)

 

Prayers Are Powerful!

Prayers are Powerful!

Thank you for praying for my daughter! She was able to do more today then she has been able to do for a while. Please continue to keep her in your prayers.

Over the past 35 years, I have seen the Lord move powerfully through prayer. One time was when I was giving birth to my youngest daughter. The cord was double wrapped around her neck, and I hemorrhaged during delivery. The doctor and nurse were amazing during the whole thing! They were also astounded at the peace that filled the delivery room. The Lord’s presence was so heavy it felt like an invisible cloud. The doctor, who was not a believer, said, “Thank you for letting me deliver your baby! Even with the complications, this birth was the most peaceful birth I have experienced. This is how it should be. Thank you!”

The shot the doctor gave me stopped the bleeding, but I shivered for the next few hours because of the blood loss. I could feel God’s blanket of peace envelope me until the following morning.

When I returned home, my neighbor Cathy, and a couple of other friends who attended my Bible study, came over to see the new baby. Cathy told me that the day before, she had felt an urgency to pray for me and that she had called the other women to pray. One of them had felt the same urgency that Cathy had felt and was already praying when Cathy called her.

Come to find out, they were all praying for me at the exact time when I was delivering my daughter. What an awesome God we serve!

James 5:16 tells us that the prayers of a righteous man avails much. May you and I never underestimate the power of prayer!

May you be abundantly blessed!

Jeannie

Masterpiece

Last night I went to bed praying for the hopeless and hurting. When I woke up this morning I remembered a beautiful work of art I had seen many years ago. Since it was a mosaic, I had to stand at a distance to see the picture come together. I was amazed at the masterpiece the artist had created from tiny shards of glass and broken pieces of tile.

As I pictured the mosaic, I thought about how God restores broken lives. The story of Ruth came to mind. Ruth was a woman in the Bible who suffered great loss. After the death of her husband, Ruth looked at the broken pieces of her life and made a difficult decision. Instead of returning to her own people and her old ways, she committed herself to her mother-in-law Naomi and vowed to trust in the One True God:

“But Ruth said: Entreat me not to leave you, Or to turn back from following after you; For wherever you go, I will go; And wherever you lodge, I will lodge; Your people shall be my people, And your God, my God. Where you die, I will die, And there will I be buried. The Lord do so to me, and more also, If anything but death parts you and me” Ruth 1: 16-17 (NKJV).

When Ruth handed God the broken pieces of her life in the midst of her sorrow, she could not have even begun to fathom the incredible work of art the master artist would create from them. Trusting God with the pieces, created an astounding picture of restoration. The poor, childless widow became a wealthy wife and a mother. The one who had little, received much more than she could have thought or imagined.

As Ruth’s life was coming to a close, she probably marveled at the part of the mosaic she had been able to see. But she could have never imagined the final touches the artist had yet to make. After she breathed her last, the One True God would continue to glue pieces on her mosaic. The final picture would show her descendants, one of them being her great-grandson David. Ruth’s broken pieces would become a piece in the lineage of Jesus, the Savior of the World.

Today, if your life and heart have been shattered, I would encourage you to give the Lord your broken pieces as you pray this prayer with me. But first, you might want to reach down as if you are gathering the pieces. Then holding them in your hands, lift up your hands and open them, releasing your pieces to the Lord.

Precious Lord, thank you for always being there for me. I don’t understand why my life has been shattered, but I choose to trust you. You can see what I cannot see, and you can do what I could never do. I raise my hands in both surrender and victory, knowing that the pieces I am giving you will become part of a beautiful mosaic. You are the master artist. Come and make a masterpiece out of the broken pieces of my life. I love you Lord! In  Jesus name…Amen.

Always know God loves you and adores you!

Jeannie

All the More

My heart and prayers go out to the survivors of the Las Vegas shootings and to all of the families who have lost loved ones. I can not even begin to fathom the depth of their pain and suffering. Today, as hundreds of people are planning funerals or keeping watch at hospital bedsides, I’m trying to wrap my head around it all. But I will never be able to understand the heart and mind of someone who takes innocent lives.

In the midst of abounding evil, I have to trust in God’s abounding grace. Evil robs, but grace is freely given. Romans 5:20 tells us “that where sin abounded, grace abounded much more.”

No one can take back the sin that abounded when Steven Paddock took the lives of scores of people and wounded hundreds of others. But everyone can take hold of God’s redeeming grace.

Grace saves us, but it also sustains us and empowers us.

God’s grace flows out of His heart of perfect love. God’s love shines light into the darkness and brings hope and healing in the midst of pain and suffering. God’s love binds up the brokenhearted and comforts those who mourn. God’s love strengthens the weary and surrounds them with His presence. God’s love stirs hearts to pray, to give, and to walk beside the hopeless and the hurting.

Last night, the choices of one man allowed evil to abound. But I am confident, that because of God’s perfect love, His grace will abound all the more!

May you and I continue to pray for all who have been effected by this terrible tragedy!

God bless,

Jeannie

Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more, so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” Romans 5:20 (NKJV).