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).

 

Liberty

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This past weekend I had the privilege of staying on a military base. Each time I heard Reveille and Retreat being broadcast over the speakers, I thought about the Liberty Bell.

In 1751, a 2, 080 lb. bell was ordered for the Statehouse of Pennsylvania from England. When it arrived, everyone was excited, but when the bell was rung for the first time, it cracked. A couple of Philadelphia foundry workers melted and recast the bell, however, the copper they added gave it an unpleasant tone.

But its lack of musical quality didn’t keep in from ringing out sounds of freedom.

The bell was rung for assemblies and for special announcements and events. Traditionally, it is believed that it even tolled for such American milestones as the First Continental Congress, and  for the Declaration of Independence.

In 1837, the bell became a symbol for abolitionists and was renamed the Liberty Bell. After the Civil War, the Liberty Bell became a symbol of unity for a fractured nation, and starting in the 1880s, it was taken throughout the land proclaiming liberty to all.

Historians tell us that the last time the Liberty Bell physically rang was for Washington’s Birthday in 1846. As it rang, it developed a large crack. Although, that day the bell might have lost its tone, its sound of freedom would continue to ring on through the centuries—as it would become a symbol of hope.

In 1915, a replica of the Liberty Bell, with its clapper chained to its side, traveled the country promoting the women’s suffrage movement. It was rung for the first time when women won the right to vote.

Along with the American Flag, the Liberty Bell continues to be a symbol of freedom today. Freedom that has been fought for…Freedom that has cost many their lives…Freedom that is costly but priceless.

Tomorrow, as you and I celebrate our Independence, I pray that we would thank God for our freedom. Our great country might have a few cracks, but the sound of freedom still continues to go forth throughout the world from her shores.

I am thankful for America and for the men and women in the military who are paying the cost to keep her ringing.

The scripture on the Liberty Bell says it all: Proclaim LIBERTY throughout all the Land unto all the Inhabitants thereof Lev. XXV X.”

Truly words of Freedom from the One who came to set all of us free!

May the Lord abundantly bless you!

Jeannie

“Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed” (John 8:36).

Historical Info from H http://www.ushistory.org/libertybell/

Resting in God’s Love

 

Healthy Relationships are built on trust. But it’s difficult to trust someone when you don’t trust their heart for you. I served God long before I trusted His heart for me. The result was striving, guilt, fear, and condemnation.

Because of hurts and disappointments, I like many others, learned early that the world was not safe and that people betray trust. I projected my fears onto God. I longed for Him to love and accept me, but no matter how much I “did” for Him I still felt unlovable.

I began to trust God’s hand after seeing Him repeatedly provide for me and heal me, but I couldn’t trust His heart until the lies I believed about Him, and about who I was to Him, were replaced by truth. Some truth was revealed through personal experiences with God (I share some of these in my books), other truth came through reading the Word, counsel, books, sermons, and healing and prayer sessions.

Everyone’s journey toward healing and wholeness in Jesus looks different. I have heard testimonies where people have had a one-time revelation of God’s love and they totally trusted Him from then on. That is not my story. I didn’t learn to trust through one encounter or because of one thing. I just had to keep listening, learning, and doing the next thing God had planned for me.

My journey to discover God’s heart for me would include many personal revelations (mostly in the midst of trials), and many people from many different churches over the course of many years.

I can now honestly say that I trust God’s heart for me!

I can trust that He will love me unconditionally, even when I feel and act unlovable.  

I can trust that His arms are open wide, even when mine are crossed in anger or stubbornness.

I can trust that He truly does have good plans for me because He is good and His intentions toward me are for my best.

I can trust that the boundaries He sets for me are to protect me, even when I do not understand them, and they do not feel good.

I can trust that He knows how to orchestrate opportunities for me to use the gifts He has placed in me. 

I can trust Him, not just walk with me through trials, but to equip me to overcome in the midst of them.

I can trust Him to build my character and to develop the fruits of the Spirit in my life.

I can trust Him with the times and seasons of my life. 

I can trust Him with my eternal destiny because of Jesus’ sacrifice on Calvary.

I can trust Him to redeem my past, bless my present, and prepare my future.

I can trust Him to comfort me in times of loss and to rejoice with me in victories.

 I can trust Him to watch over me through the night and in the midst of the night seasons, and to rejoice over me with singing.

I can trust Him to teach me to learn to dance over the graves in my life, to dance with Him as my prince, and to dance on His feet as his precious daughter. 

I have learned that I can trust Him in all things because I know He loves me, and that He truly does have my best interest in mind!

Today, I pray that you will be able to rest in the assurance of God’s love for you. No matter what is going on in your life, know that you can always trust Him!

May the Lord abundantly bless you!

Jeannie

“Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.  For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:37-39 NKJV).  

 

 

Counterfeit Fruit

In my last post I mentioned that I was asking God for more revelation concerning my past false definition of gentleness. By the end of the day I had written down false definitions for all of the Fruits of the Spirit. Since the Fruits of the Spirit are grown in relationship with the Lord, wouldn’t it make since that counterfeits of the Fruits of the Spirit would manifest in our lives through self-reliance or faulty understanding about God’s love and character.

When you and I don’t understand our identity in Christ or know what healthy relationships are supposed to look like, it easy to confuse the fruits with their counterfeits:

Lust feels like love- until you are finished using or being used.

Happiness feels like joy-until trials come, or you don’t “feel” happy anymore.

Denial feels like peace-until your circumstances become unbearable.

Passivity feels like patience (long-suffering)-until you’ve had enough. Then it can easily turn to rage.

Permissiveness or being subservient feels like gentleness-until you discover that you lost the real “you” a long time ago.

Self-righteousness feels like goodness-until you see your flaws. Then it turns into shame and self-loathing.

False responsibility feels like faithfulness-until it turns into resentment.

Enabling feels like kindness-until you realize that the people who are using you aren’t getting better and that you are paying the cost for their bad decisions.

So if the counterfeits fruits often feel like the genuine fruits how can we tell the difference?

The true Fruits of the Spirit bear good fruit in our lives.

Counterfeits will keep us guarded, Real fruit keeps us guided by the Holy Spirit.

Counterfeits make us feel intimidated or cause us to intimidate; Real fruit leads to true intimacy (into-me-you-see)

Counterfeits bring frustration; real fruit brings freedom.

Counterfeits are birthed out of pain, loss, disappointment, fear, failure and believing lies about God , ourselves and others. Real fruit is birthed out of passion, love, desire for relationship, faith, freedom, and believing the truth about God, ourselves and others.

The other day when I was paying for my groceries with a fifty dollar bill, the cashier shared a story with me. Apparently, a few days before, the cashier had to call the police because a woman had given her a counterfeit fifty dollar bill. The woman proved to be innocent, but since the bill was fake, the woman lost fifty dollars.

The devil comes to kill, steal, and destroy. One of the ways he does this is through counterfeits. Thankfully, because of what Christ had done, you and I don’t have to lose out when counterfeits are discovered, we just have to take hold of the truth and allow God to restore!

May the Lord abundantly bless you!

Jeannie

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23).

“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).

Picture a Lamb

All morning I have been thinking and praying about what to write about today. Since Wednesday is usually the day I post testimonies, I was hoping to find one in my e-mail this morning. But there were none. I thought about posting one of my personal testimonies or a portion of one of my past Bible Studies, or even a chapter from one of my books, but to tell you the truth, I am not thinking in words today, as much as in pictures—one specific picture to be exact. The picture of a little lamb.

It all started last night when I received a message in answer to a question I had asked someone. I had been reading Ephesians 4 and verse 2 stuck in my mind. Always be humble and gentle. Instantly, the wheels began to turn as I thought about how my past definitions of humility and gentleness had caused me heart ache and robbed me of my identity. I immediately thanked the Lord that I was no longer wearing the counterfeit slave garments of false humility and niceness.

Anyone who knows me, knows that I love to hear other’s insight concerning the Word of God, so I sent out a message to someone I barely knew and asked for their insight. I was preparing for an enlightening discussion and sharing of some testimonies, but what I got back left me speechless. “Picture a lamb…”

After reading the rest of the description, I sat back in my chair and blankly stared at my computer screen. I wondered why tears were forming in the corners of my eyes. I closed my eyes trying to picture a gentle little lamb, but the lamb I saw had fangs and was roaring like a lion. It troubled me that I was having difficulty picturing a gentle creature, so I got up and went about my normal business, deciding I would try to picture the lamb later on that night.

Before bedtime, I closed my eyes and tried again. This time the little lamb was far in the distance. I asked the Lord why I was having such a difficult time with the gentle little lamb. There was no answer.

As I was studying the Word and writing notes this morning, I had pretty much convinced myself that I didn’t picture the lamb because I am a teacher and I learn differently. But then God reminded me of all of the times He speaks to me through visions. Why was I having so much trouble with this picture?

Believe it or not, as I write this I am getting my answer. Part of me still views gentleness as weakness. Because of his wounds, my ex-husband was nether kind nor gentle. And because of my wounds, my definitions of both kindness and gentleness caused me to have low self-worth and be subservient.

Since I now have been walking in the freedom of knowing who I am in Christ for quite a few years, I have a totally new understanding of who God is, who I am, and about how relationships should look. But I am also fully aware that because of His love and care for me, God is continuously healing and restoring the broken pieces of my life. Apparently, there is something deep in me that He is bringing to the surface for me to examine, to receive revelation about, and to release to Him.

I am not sure what wound He is beginning to reveal to heal because of this little lamb, but until I receive the full revelation, I will picture the lamb I can always easily picture. The Lamb that was slain for me before the foundations of the world. The lamb that holds me, His little lamb, close to His heart—my precious, beloved Savior and closest friend Jesus Christ.

 

May you and I always keep our eyes on the Lamb of God!

Be abundantly blessed,

Jeannie

The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29 NKJV).

“And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13:8).

 

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).

 

 

A Life Well Lived-Karen’s Story

I was reading through some of my mother’s writings the other day, and I found this beautiful testimony about a woman named Karen. May we all live for Jesus as Karen did!

December 1998

Karen and I became friends over a prayer line at our church about three months ago. Those who pray together can not long stay strangers. Karen never spoke of her physical condition, and she never complained. I didn’t even find out that she was in a wheelchair until I invited her to go with us on an outreach. I had asked her whether she would rather go with us to nursing homes, children’s homes, women’s shelters, or juvenile detention homes and prisons. To which she had enthusiastically replied, “ALL OF THE ABOVE! But someone will have to drive my van. I can no longer drive it by myself.” That day I learned that she was wheelchair bound. I wouldn’t learn that she had Muscular Dystrophy until later.

Although we tried and tried, things always came up and Karen was never able to join us in ministry. But Karen and I continued to pray for others over the phone, and we saw God do wondrous things. Once, when we were talking about healing, Karen confided in me that she would be healed before a great crowd of people as a witness as to what God could do.

Two Sundays ago I finally got to meet Karen when I went to the later service at church. She had an electric wheelchair but almost didn’t have the physical strength to use it. We were instant friends. She had a bright smile and God’s love flowed through her to all who crowded around her to tell her “Hello!” It was evident that she was a much loved and valuable member of the congregation, and that she had many instant friends. The next week on the prayer line Karen shared that she was rarely home because of her volunteering. I was impressed.

I never got to know just how and where Karen spent her love-filled days because the call came. “Karen is in the hospital with breathing problems.” We prayed for her. That evening I spoke to her on the phone. She was weak so I made the conversation short and encouraging. I didn’t allow her to speak much. The next morning another member of the prayer chain spoke briefly with her. She reported that Karen was her happy self but a little “breathy”. Thirty minutes later Karen went to be with Jesus.

I really didn’t expect to see many people at the funeral, but the chapel was full to overflowing. There were people of every description, color, size, and physical ability. These were the ones with whom Karen had spent her days. A Man in a wheelchair pulled his chair up beside me. Many unsaved people were there, drawn by Karen’s life of love, caring, and sharing.

When our pastor spoke he knew that many in attendance did not know Jesus. After a short tribute to Karen’s life about how she had been a sharer of love and an encourager, he said something like this:

“How do you handle pain like this? Well, there are three ways. You can get drunk or take drugs and mask the pain for awhile. You can commit suicide and try to hide in the grave. Or then there is JESUS…. I don’t remember the exact words that followed, but I do remember that as he looked out over the group of silently weeping mourners he said, “How many of you had Karen share her Jesus with you?” Many of the ones ahead of me nodded their heads. The only gift that you can give Karen now is to accept the gift that she was offering you. Nothing would please her more than for you to accept God’s Love Gift through Jesus-John 3:16.”

What followed was so beautiful and so touching. The pastor asked with very special words and in a very special way for those who would like to have Jesus forgive them of their sins and come into their lives and take charge of their lives to silently repeat the words (the sinner’s prayer) after him. Many did. I know that the man next to me did.

As for Karen…She did get healed before a mighty crowd of Eternal witnesses, forever and ever!!!

In these days of national turmoil, shaking, anguish, and selfishness, even to the pint of challenging long accepted meaning of words, it is good to know that there are Karens in the world—Those who without fanfare, just go about sharing God’s Love and His Light wherever they go.

“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; 11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:5-11King James Version KJV).

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. 🙂