Walking

Laura and I worked together. I liked her from the moment I met her. She was dedicated, determined, and cared deeply for the residents living in the facility where we were employed. She was also punctual, which says a lot because she didn’t have a car.

During one of our brief opportunities to chat, I invited Laura to a Bible study I was teaching in my home. Since she worked many double shifts, she didn’t think she would be able to come. But God made a way for her to attend.

During discussion time, Laura let loose. I don’t remember what the topic was, but once she started “sharing” our night took a turn. (Some leaders might have seen it as a turn for the worse, but God knew it was a turn for the best.)

As Laura exploded in expletives, my sweet friends just listened with their hearts. Interlaced in a sea of (f) words was a story of abuse, loss, and pain. No one chastised Laura for being inappropriate, they just loved her, listened, asked questions, and prayed.

After the other women went home, Laura sat down at the table while I cleaned up. I could tell she was thinking. After a bit, she said, “I know you care about me.”

“Yes, Laura, we all love you,” I responded.

“Nobody judged me,” she stated, as she looked me straight in the eye. “Nobody said anything about my cussing.”

That night, Laura and I visited for a while. We talked about God’s unconditional love. We talked about healing, forgiveness, and freedom. We talked about a lot of things. Then I drove her home.

After that night, Laura began to regularly attend our weekly meetings. Since she worked most Sundays, she rarely attended church, but it was obvious that she loved Jesus. In the midst of her daily challenges, Laura would silently pray for people, trust God (even in the hard times), and continually give God credit for anything good in her life.

Laura’s death was a shock to everyone. The last day of Laura’s life seemed like every other day. She had set out walking to work, but this time instead of arriving at the retirement apartments, she entered Heaven’s glory. While she was on her way to work, she suffered a severe asthma attack, passed out, and hit her head. She died instantly from brain trauma. Sweet Laura with a heart of gold is now walking on streets of gold.

Whenever I think about Laura, I think about God’s grace and the brevity and uncertainty of life. We never know while on our way to our daily destinations when we will be rerouted to our final destination.

The night Laura opened up her heart and shared her pain, all of us present had a deeper glimpse into God’s heart and His unconditional love for all mankind—reminding us that there is nothing that we could ever do or say to earn or negate His love for us.

Father God is not shocked, nor repulsed by “colorful” language—or “colorful” stories. He is always there with a listening ear and an open heart—just loving us.

Jesus was always walking beside Laura, but Laura didn’t recognize Him until seven years ago when she took hold of His hand and accepted Him as her Savior. The day Laura took her last walk on this earth she went from seeing Him in part, and just holding His hand, to seeing Him face to face in all His glory!

May you be abundantly blessed!

Jeannie

Corinthians 13:12 “Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely” (NLT).

 

Forbidden Fruit

Obey is one of those words that we don’t like hearing. From the time we are toddlers, whenever we hear “Obey me”—or it’s shorter version “NO!”—we immediately think of what is being withheld from us. I can’t touch, taste, smell, or do what I want to. But the reality is obedience protects.

This reality of protection in obedience hit home for me one day when I was babysitting a toddler who was determined to destroy both herself and my house. After rescuing her from everything from toilets to outlets, I put her in the playpen for a nap. To little Taylor “No!” obviously meant “Go for it!” How was I to teach her otherwise?

How could I get her to understand that toilets and outlets are dangerous when she couldn’t  comprehend the words drown or electrocute, or even death?

It wouldn’t have done any good to have sat her down and shown her electrical diagrams and explained currents and wiring.  Instead, I had to confine her within the boundaries of the playpen to keep her safe, until I finished a few tasks and could watch her like a hawk.

That evening, I was talking to a friend who was suffering a lot of consequences from making wrong choices. I shared with Him about little Taylor. When he was defying God’s “No’s” all he could think about was what God was withholding from him. Now He was learning the hard way that God’s “No’s” were for his protection.

Sound familiar? In Genesis, God places Adam and Eve in a Paradise of “Yes’s”. He only gives them one “no”. They are not to eat fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

If the serpent (devil) had told Eve to eat the fruit from the forbidden tree because it tasted better than the fruit from the other trees, she might not have fallen. But the enemy didn’t deceive her with the fruit, he deceived her through a lie—a lie about the goodness of God. If he could get her to doubt God’s heart for her, he could get her mistrust God and convince her to sin, bringing death, disease, fear, destruction and every other wicked thing that could harm her into her life. The more she believed the lie, the more appetizing the forbidden fruit looked.

The devil still uses the same tactics today. That is why we struggle with obeying God’s “No’s”.  When we choose to sin, we might not always be aware that we are doubting God’s goodness, but we are. Whenever we deliberately make a wrong choice, we are inwardly telling God that we doubt His heart for us. We see Him as withholding, instead of holding out His hands to bless us.

God wants to withhold evil from us; not to withhold what is good for us. But, unfortunately, you and I sometimes  have to get shocked a few times or nearly drown in tears from our decisions until we realize that God really knew what He was talking about when He told us “No!”.

God is a good father and He knows what will truly bless us (his children). The devil wants to steal from us and rob us of our peace. God wants to give us peace, and part of that peace comes through obeying Him and resting in His care for us. Trusting leads to obedience—and obedience leads to rest. May you and I purpose to trust Him, obey Him, and rest in His care!

May you be abundantly blessed!

Jeannie

Genesis 3:1-7

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning” (James 1:17 NKJV).

He Who Dwells

 

Through the years, as my relationship with the Lord has shifted from being that of a fearful orphan to being a beloved daughter, the Holy Spirit has often brought me new understanding concerning scriptures I used to recite. A recent example would be Psalm 91.

I used to view Psalm 91 as my 911 Psalm. It was the Psalm I read when I was in trouble. It was the Psalm I posted in its entirety on the wall above my bed when I was terrified at night. It was the Psalm I claimed when I was in the midst of trials. But recently I have been thinking about Psalms 91 in a new way.

Whenever I would read or recite Psalm 91 I would fly through the first two verses and get down to the business of claiming and declaring God’s protection and deliverance. But the past few days I haven’t been able to get past the first verse: “He who dwells in the secret place of the most High Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.”(Psalm 91:1 NKJV).

Could it be that in my rushing, I had missed the whole message-It’s not about rescue as much as it is about dwelling (relationship).

Below are a couple of definitions of dwell from the The Online Free Dictionary

1. To live as a resident; reside.

2. To exist in a given place or state: dwell in joy.     

In Acts 17:28 the Word says, “for in Him we live and move and have our being…” (NKJV). In order for us to live and move and have our being in God, we must have an intimate relationship with Him.  He needs to be our habitation not just our hang out. Instead of defaulting to Him we are to dwell (live) in Him.    

You and I don’t need to run to a shelter in the midst of a storm if we are already living in a shelter. We just need use the resources that have been made available to us. To me this means drawing close the heart of God and receiving the love, peace, and joy He has for me as I rest in His care.

During the years when I used to view God’s presence as a place to run to, I was often running from Him, because I didn’t feel worthy and I didn’t trust His heart for me.

When you and I dwell in God’s presence we are transformed by His power. In His presence, faith replaces fear and acceptance replaces abandonment. In His presence, our minds are transformed, and we no longer see ourselves as slaves but as beloved sons and daughters (God’s princes and princesses).

Instead of just viewing God’s presence as a fortress, may we make it our habitation and relish our relationship with Him.

May you be abundantly blessed!

Jeannie

 

I’ve Got This!

The more I understand God’s love for me the easier it has been for me to trust Him. When I was younger, anytime the Lord told me to step out in faith or make a change in direction I would panic and fire back questions asking for specifics. I figured if I knew all the details concerning the whats, wheres, hows, and whens I would be able to trust the Who (God.) Since most of the details would usually not be revealed until the last minute, I would continuously worry and strive to make things happen. Needless to say this was not productive nor healthy.

Back in those days when I used to play 20 questions with God I was unaware that trust is built in relationship, not just in obedience. I was also unaware that my Father God knows exactly how much information I need for each step of my journey. He goes before me and prepares the way. As I step into my next season I receive His grace for that season. If I were to know the detailed road map before I had the grace to handle the directions, I would not grow in my relationship with Him, and I would not develop character through the fruits of the Spirit. To be honest, if I saw it all before I had God’s grace to experience all I would be tempted to pull a “Jonah” and high-tail it in the opposite direction. Thankfully, God knows my true needs as well as my heart.

A few months ago I woke up one morning hearing two words in my spirit: “Virginia/June.” I have learned when I hear something I believe is from God, to both pray and wait for confirmation. Shortly after praying, I received a call giving me confirmation.

Even though I knew the where and a general when concerning my next season I had no clue as to the hows. During the months that followed, whenever I would pray for wisdom, the Lord would speak three simple words to my heart, “I’ve got this!” And I would be flooded with incredible peace.

For the first two months I had no clue how God was going to orchestrate everything that needed to happen for me to move. But in May the puzzle pieces started to come together. As usual the puzzle doesn’t look anything like I expected. My incredible, loving, Daddy God has arranged a wonderful place for my special needs sister and father to live, as well as providing the finances I need. Not only has He swung the door to my next season wide open, He has already been preparing my heart to minister His love and life as soon as I walk through it.

Once again, I am amazed how God Has put everything together! But I am even more amazed at how He has put my broken heart back together. There were many years when I would have doubted and worried, but this time, I actually had peace and trusted Him to insert the missing pieces in the right places. From the moment He first told me “I’ve Got This!” I really did believe that He had it!

If you, like me, are getting ready to walk into a new season, I would encourage you to trust the Lord and wait on His perfect timing. Not only does “He Got this!” He’s also Got you!

May the Lord abundantly bless you!

Jeannie

“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. Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the Lord and depart from evil” (Proverbs 3:5-7 NKJV).

Freely Given

 

Jonam

Today my heart is full of gratitude!

I am thankful for God’s blessings in my life, and I am thankful for the brave men and women who serve and for their families who sacrifice, sometimes at tremendous costs. I personally know many men and women who have served or are still serving in the military. Whether stateside or on foreign soil, they all have given of themselves, as each has done his/her part to defend others and to keep America free.

When I was growing up, my parents taught us to have respect for the military. We were taught to appreciate and honor our soldiers who are currently serving and our veterans. Dad’s father had fought in World War I, and Mom’s Dad had fought in World War II. Maybe that is why my parents made it a point to have all six of us kids wave to soldiers and thank them whenever the opportunity arose. One time, I remember Dad pulling over as a Convoy of about 50 trucks carrying Vietnam soldiers passed us on the highway. We spent the next 15 minutes, waving and yelling out, “Hurray for the men in green!” Now, I wonder how many of them returned to their families.

A few weeks ago as I was sorting through items at my father’s house I found letters that Mom had written to some Vietnam soldiers. One that brought back memories was a letter to a certain Lance Corporal, letting him know that Jesus loved him and that there were people back home who truly cared about our soldiers. Through their correspondence, Mom introduced us to the Lance Corporal and before long she had all of kids writing him letters and sending him pictures. You would have thought we had won the lottery when Lance (as we nicknamed him) sent us pictures of himself, his buddies, and even their dog. When Lance visited our home after returning to the states, I felt like I was in the presence of a celebrity. I was!

When a loved one deploys there is always a chance that they might not return. Almost four years ago this reality hit home.

When my daughter called and told me that Jonam had been killed in a suicide bombing, it felt as if I had been punched in the chest. Not Jonam!”  Having three children in the military at the time, and having known someone personally who had lost a son in the war, I was aware that there was a cost for serving one’s country. But all I could think of was: “Dear God! Not Jonam!”

Jonam grew up around our family. He was a great kid who immediately lit up every room he walked into with his contagious smile and cheery disposition. I loved that kid! Just days before he had skyped my youngest son. Now he was gone!

As I stood in the kitchen, my phone still in my hand, I grieved for the amazing young man who had touched the lives of so many people. I also grieved for his amazing family. I couldn’t even imagine their loss! But as the tears rolled down my face, thankfulness swelled in my heart. I realized that Jonam’s life wasn’t taken. It was given. He gave it the day he signed the papers to enter the armed services. He gave it every time he put on his uniform. And He ultimately gave it the day he left this earth and entered Heaven’s glory.

Thank you, Jonam! Thank you all who have given the ultimate sacrifice and laid down your lives for our freedom!

Jonams Grave

John 15:13 “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”

Have a blessed Memorial Day,

Jeannie

What Fruit?

 

As I was writing my last blog about how God grows the Fruits of the Spirit in us in the midst of difficulties, I kept thinking about restoration.  Whenever restoration is mentioned in the scriptures we see opposites-joy for mourning, strength for weakness, salvation for sin, healing for sickness, beauty for ashes. If restoration is God’s gift to bring good out of everything the enemy intended for evil in our lives, wouldn’t it make sense that the fruits of the Spirit would be fruits of restoration.

Understanding the lies we believe about God, ourselves, and others helps to renew our minds. But what about our emotions? Again, the answer is in the fruits of the Spirit. Tamara Patterson from River of Life Church has a really good message about this. You can find it at

https://www.facebook.com/RiverofLifeCorpusChristi/videos/1284210381616590/

But for now, I will just share a brief summary about what I received from her message.

Keep in mind that love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, gentleness, and self control are fruits OF THE SPIRIT. That means that they are imparted to us by the Holy Spirit, not through our own understanding or efforts. The Bible tells us that we have not because we ask not, so as you read the following I would encourage you to ask for the fruit or fruits you need at this time.

When in fear-ask for revelations of God’s perfect love

When you are anxious-ask for peace

When you are depressed or sad-ask for joy

When you are frustrated or angry-ask for patience

When you feel rejected-ask for opportunities to show and receive kindness.

When you feel less than or flawed( usually because of abuse, legalism, or perfectionism) ask for revelations of God’s goodness

When you feel like hiding your true self or are harsh to others out of self- protection- ask for gentleness.

When you feel out of control because of behavioral choices, entitlement, or feeling like a victim- ask for self-control.

God loves to meet us, heal us, restore us, empower us, and to bless us with good gifts. Ask Him to show you what fruits you need at this time. Then open your heart and receive.

May you be abundantly blessed!

Jeannie

“The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” (John 10:10 NKJV).

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law”.(Galatians 5:22-23 ESV).

 

 

Chasing Love

Contributed by Melissa

Chasing Love is the title most people would have assigned to my life. Even as a young girl, I always felt something was missing. God has created all of us with an undeniable need for Him and Him alone. But I wouldn’t understand this for many years.

As a kid, my family always went to church. Even though our home life was not perfect, we knew “about” God. I had two stepfathers but never knew my own father. My mom and I were never really close, but you would have thought we should have been since I was the only girl. In my teen years, I gravitated towards boys because I felt inferior towards other teen girls.

Fast forward a few years… I dated a lot searching for happiness. I knew about God, but I did not have any real relationship with Him. In 1994, when I was sent to Bible School, my inner self was still seeking and unsatisfied, even to the point of depression. By the time Bible school was over many of my friends had gotten engaged. Inside I was mad at God for not making it happen for me. Within a year, I married the first man I met at church. It was not orchestrated by God at all. It was a big mess. Even though it was a very painful short marriage, I am thankful for my two beautiful daughters who came out of that marriage. I ended up being a single mother for nearly sixteen years. Through those years, I still attended church as I continued to search for a husband. Many wrong relationships resulted from my search.

Last year, I met a nice man online and married him very quickly. That too was a mess, and my happiness was short lived. My anguish and pain drove me to the Lord. While going through the divorce, I finally surrendered my whole heart to my Creator—the true lover of my soul. At this time in my life, He has blessed me more than I could have imagined. I now have true peace, joy, intense healing, and new friendships. I don’t even need my antidepressants anymore. I have discovered that my needs are met only through the Lord. He waited years for me to finally turn to Him. Jeremiah 29:11 has become so real to me now. My God has good plans for me. Plans to give me a Hope and a Future. Thank you for letting me share my testimony with you. 🙂

A Change in Diet

Last night after devouring some leftover chocolate cake, I told myself that I needed to eat healthier. So tonight I made sure I washed down my heaping helping of chocolate with some homemade chicken soup to counteract the effects of the sugar

I know this is messed up thinking. But I really wanted to have my cake and eat it too.

As I was slurping (oh, I meant to say sipping) the last little bit of my soup, I thought back to when this same type of mindset was prevalent in my life concerning my choices in entertainment.

Until I was in my thirties, I pretty much watched what I wanted to watch on T.V. After consuming a few hours of fear and lust based junk I would read my Bible and pray against ungodly thoughts before I went to bed. But no matter how much I prayed, the nightmares and tormenting thoughts would not go away.

I didn’t associate my bad thought life with the junk food my mind was exposed to until I heard God speak to me one night. I was sitting on the couch caught up in a sinister plot when I heard the Lord’s gentle voice: I would rather you not watch that.” I started to argue with Him, but instead, I ignored Him. The next night I heard Him once again tell me, “I’d rather you not watch that.” That time I turned off the T.V. and walked into the other room. Walking away from the junk I was putting in my mind was the beginning of my walking toward freedom.

As my diet changed from consuming mental junk food to thinking on what was pleasing to God, I lost all desire to watch the shows I used to watch.

The Word tells us in Philippians 4:8-9: “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.”

God loves us so much! He didn’t tell me to walk away from the shows I was watching because He wanted to withhold something from me. He had me walk away because He knew what I was watching was a stumbling block to me. I needed to have my mind renewed in order to have peace.

I can honestly say that I have never regretted turning off much of what is on the T.V. Now if I can just learn to walk away from the chocolate cake. 🙂

May you be abundantly blessed!

Jeannie

 

 

Get Out of the Car (Revisited)

Get out of car

A couple of years ago I wrote a blog about a road trip encounter I had when I was helping my daughter Shanna and her husband David move to Virginia. In a few weeks, I will step into a new season as I return to Virginia for a longer period of time. Even though I know that God is going before me, my heart is beginning to ache at the thought of leaving my wonderful church, family, and friends. Today, as I was focusing on loss, God reminded me of some of the “God Adventures” we had during Shanna and David’s last move. I am posting one of them to remind me that although I am leaving much behind, there is always much ahead when we obey our Daddy God and step out into the unknown.

The moving truck had gotten stuck in the mud behind a pizza place in a dark secluded area. While Shanna and David were calling the rental company for assistance, I waited in the car and prayed. God told me to trust Him because He was doing something beautiful, so I after a while I quit praying for a solution and decided just to worship.

Within minutes, a friend called to see what I had been up to the past few months. I filled her in on our current situation, and she prayed a powerful prayer. After our call, the big dude who had been sitting in the car next to me got out of his car and walked behind the back of the building where my daughter and son-in-law were standing. Immediately, God told me, “He is the reason you are here. Get out of the car!” I did.

The man informed us that we were in a dangerous area. Apparently, a couple of pizza delivery drivers had recently been robbed, and one of them had been murdered. He was riding along with his wife to protect her when she made her pizza deliveries. We told him that we felt like God had also placed him there for our protection.

I felt a stirring in my spirit to pray for the man, so I asked him if he had accepted Jesus as his Savior. He had. Since I love to hear testimonies, I asked him if he would care to share. He looked at me warily and answered, “I was incarcerated at the time.”

“Praise God!” I exclaimed.

He gave me a quizzical look and said, “That’s not the reaction I usually get.”

“It’s not where you have come from; it’s where you are going,” I reminded him.

His eyes lit up, “That’s right, but most folks don’t see it that way.”

I told him that I kept hearing “Samson” in my spirit and asked if I could pray for him. I learned his name was Shadrack.

I explained to Shadrack that although Samson fell to the flesh and was imprisoned, when he turned to God and regained his strength, he defeated his enemies. The Lord told me to tell Shadrack that although he had made bad choices and had been imprisoned, because he had turned to God, God would empower him to defeat all his enemies—fear, unforgiveness, addictions, etc.

As I continued to pray for Shadrack, the Lord told me to give him a certain amount of money.

When I mentioned the money, his response brought tears to my eyes, “We just lost everything. Our house—everything!”

I said, “Shadrack, God loves you so much that He would let us get stuck in the mud just so He could bless you!”

His eyes began to tear up as he commented, “I will never forget this night for the rest of my life!”

Shadrack shared that he had been sitting in his car watching what was going on with the truck when God told him to get out of the car. He told God he couldn’t: “It’s night. I’m a big black guy and those are white people. If I go over there, they will think that I am trying to rob them.” Once again, God told him, “Get out of the car!”

While were praying, the tow truck arrived. After the moving truck was pulled from the mud, Shadrack helped reattach the car to the trailer. Then we ended up sharing more and praying for each other. Before we left, Shanna and David were also led to bless Shadrack financially, and we had the opportunity to pray for his wife as well.

“Get out of the car!”

What if I hadn’t obeyed? What if Shadrack hadn’t obeyed? We both would have missed out on a night that neither one of us would ever forget for the rest of our lives—a night where we opened the doors of our vehicles—and the doors of our hearts. It was a night where we both stepped out into the unknown and met Jesus in an unfamiliar place, as we encountered Him in the hearts and lives of each other.

When Shadrack was sharing how he chose to obey God and “got out of the car,” I thought about Peter getting out of the boat to meet Jesus. Peter might have started to sink, but none of the other disciples would ever experience what it felt like to walk on water, even if only for a few steps. God is waiting for us to step out and meet Him in the unknown. If we keep our focus on Him we can walk with Him on water, but even when our fears cause us to sink, His hand is always there to pull us up and draw us close.

Whether it is from our cars, our boats, our houses, or just our comfort zones, when God tells us to “get out” it’s always an invitation to come and join Him in an adventure.

When I first came to back to Texas, I begged God to let me leave. Now I am sad that it is time go. I came with almost nothing. But I am leaving with both a full heart and a full life.

Whenever you and I step out of our comfort zones it’s easy to concentrate on the loss of what we are leaving behind, instead of anticipating the abundance of what awaits us. God is a Good Daddy and He is orchestrating wonderful adventures for us—if we will only obey his voice and “Get out of the car!”

Matthew 14:28-29
“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water”

29 “Come,” he said. (NIV)

May you be abundantly blessed!

Jeannie